Thursday, March 14, 2013

Science vs feelings



I especially like this: "So if there's one thing that separates the scientists from the junk science 'feelie,' it's the battle of observation, measurement, and calculation against feelings, belief, and guesswork."

This video really struck me because I'm always hearing similar things from Christians. In fact, I just had an interesting, and rather pertinent, discussion with a believer which started from a YouTube comment.

I don't want to pick on him/her, because most Christians quickly run away from even discussing this stuff, and I respect anyone who cares enough about the truth to debate it. (Most of the time, I hear "Well, I don't care if it's true or not, because I wouldn't want to live in your world.")

But this guy (for convenience, I'll assume he's a guy) said he had "a lot" of good reasons for believing in God. I asked him for his best reason, because a million bad reasons would still be useless, while one really good reason would probably be sufficient.

What he gave me was several ways he thought science was wrong - mostly having to do with cosmology, but some arguments against evolution, too. But here's the deal: he's not a scientist. He just felt that those things couldn't be true. Oh, he had arguments. Indeed, he claimed that "scientific principles" proved he was right.

But why would you think that you'd just... idly thought of something that the entire scientific community had missed - indeed, a bunch of things they'd missed? If it were really that simple to disprove established science, don't you think that scientists would have already demonstrated that? After all, the best way to make a name for yourself in science is to show that other scientists are wrong.

Now, you might 'feel' that scientists are wrong, and you might even be able to justify that feeling to yourself. But science isn't based on feelings. It's based on observation, measurement, and calculation.

I'm not a scientist either, but even I could tell that he'd misunderstood the science in most of the examples he gave. Well, I've heard many Christian apologists misrepresent science to their flock. And to be charitable, maybe they're not actually lying, but are just really ignorant, themselves.

But heck, why would you think you knew enough to disprove science, especially when it's not even your field of expertise? Why would it even occur to you that you knew enough about it? Don't you know that science is based on demonstrable evidence from research which is confirmed by independent investigators? How do your feelings stack up against something like that?

Feelings aren't what scientists use to determine what's real and what isn't. They use evidence - evidence they can clearly demonstrate to other scientists. So if it really were this easy to show they were wrong, don't you think scientists would be the first to notice that?

Of course, as a proof for God, this was useless even if it had all been true. Scientists could be wrong about everything, and it still wouldn't get believers one step closer to evidence that a god exists.

'God' isn't the default. 'God' isn't the answer you get when you can't think of anything else. If you could somehow disprove evolution, or the Big Bang theory, or anything else in science, the best you could say would be "I don't know." Evidence that science is wrong is not evidence that a god did it.

To rationally believe in a god, you need to show evidence that that god exists, not that scientists are wrong about something. Indeed, I'm sure that scientists are wrong about some things. So what? Scientists never claim they can't be mistaken. But how is that evidence for a god? Even if you can't think of an alternative, that's still an argument from ignorance.

Getting back to the video, this shows how feelings mean nothing (well, not in this domain, at least). If you've got real evidence that scientists are wrong, you need to present that evidence to them in peer-reviewed scientific journals. If you don't have the education and the scientific background for that, then what makes you think you're qualified to argue against the scientific consensus in the first place?

After all, anyone can claim anything, especially if it's on the basis of feelings. But why should we give their feelings about how the world must work any consideration at all without evidence? Most likely, they're just ignorant about science and/or too eager to believe what they want to believe.

This video clip demonstrates that pretty well, I'd say.

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

Do you mind giving some examples of how this YouTube commenter decided to disprove science? I'm somewhat interested in what he had to say, though he seems to be somewhat ignorant on the subject.

I myself am a believer or "creationist" and happen to be in a unique position. I grew up in a Christian family, and consequently grew up biased in favor of a God existing.

Despite this I take great interest in science and the subsequent evidence that it continues to present. For instance most Christians believe the earth, or universe, is a mere 7 or 8 thousand years old. How could one believe this when there is substantial evidence that the universe is at least 14 billion years old? Maybe older?

And although I have little knowledge of evolution, there seems to be abundant evidence pointing towards life evolving to an extent over time. Again I have almost no knowledge on this subject so it would be unwise for me to discuss this further.

Science continues to interest me and always will. But I can't find a reason that I should abandon my beliefs because of this.

Humour me for a moment and consider the large amount of people who believe in Aliens. Say aliens exist and are abundant in this galaxy alone. Would it be fair to say that there are alien life forms out there that are much less intelligent than we are? Of course. We have an example of that on earth.

What about life forms that have evolved so much that they are infinitely more intelligent than us? To them we seem like stupid animals. To them, we are incapable of thinking like they do; our most advanced and abstruse thoughts are laughable to them. Just like, say, a rat's mindset is to us.

Anonymous said...

(Part 2)

You probably know where I'm going with this, but bear with me. Could this alien be so advanced that it's capable of creating, say, life? Very plausibly. Humans create robots, computers, etc that animals can't begin to comprehend. It's not fair to even consider their intelligence in this matter. These lifeforms could be capable of things we can't even begin to comprehend. Maybe even manipulate or create physics itself. Who knows?

If you think it's reasonable to believe these "advanced lifeforms" could exist, perhaps there is a lifeforms, or a "being" that exists who has the ability to conceive life with just a thought. Some would call this being a "god".

Please don't misinterpret my point. I'm not saying that I believe God is an advanced alien. I'm trying to somehow illustrate, using a coherent example, why people could possibly believe in such "ridiculous" ideas such as a creator. How this idea could actually be reasonable.

Just as the rat is incapable of understanding how humans think, and why we do the things we do, believers, or Christians, believe humans are incapable or unqualified to understand this "God" and the way he thinks. Our brains are inadequate to even come close.

So you're asking, "how is this different in believing in fairies or unicorns?" The way I see it, fairies can't explain the existence of the universe or how is was created. A big bang? Almost certainly. But what caused the big bang? Could be God, could be completely random. But as of now, every atheist, every scientist, every Christian doesn't even know for sure. To me, the idea of a creator "makes sense" to me. To me and many others, it's the most logical explanation. Atheists have their own explanation which makes sense to *them*, whatever it may be. That explanation is the most logical to them. Science has yet to prove the cause of the big bang, so it's up to us and our minds to come up with a reason. (If you disagree with this let me know please!)

Another thought: Christians believe in God and not unicorns because there are countless religions based on a God, along with countless "stories" (the Bible) about God. Whether the Bible is true or not is not the point. No one knows if it's true. The point is someone made these stories for a reason. Of course you can come up with many stories about how unicorns came to be, but the Bible seems to be different. It seems to be more consistent in it's ideas, more thought out than a fairy tale, possessing much more detail. At least that's what I think when I read it.

Until science can disprove for a fact that God doesn't exist, why change my mind? A creator is what makes sense to me. I continue to explore science and it's evidence, even if it contradicts a creator. I will consider it all, and make a decision based on this evidence and what I think about it. I will not dismiss profound evidence and science just because of "feeling".

Starklet

WCG said...

Thanks for the comments. This is likely to take several replies, but to start...

Abandoning your beliefs because of science? I think you've got it somewhat backwards. Sure, no one thinks that the sun is a god these days, because we know what the sun is.

But it was rather foolish to believe that the sun was a god in the first place, without any evidence that was true. Of course, I'm willing to cut our ancient ancestors some slack. Science hadn't even been invented (discovered?) yet.

However, you seem to think that Christians are foolish for still believing that the Earth is only a few thousand years old. I agree. But why was it smart to believe that in the first place? Just because it was written in their holy book?

You seem to be promoting a god of the gaps, a god that only lives in the dark areas of the unknown. As science continues to learn more and more, that god shrinks (or escapes to the kinds of arguments which are impossible to disprove, even theoretically).

Isn't it more rational to ask why you believe in that god - or any god - in the first place? Without evidence for that god, why believe it? Why believe anything without evidence?

That's the agnostic atheist position. We can't know anything for absolute certain, but we should have a good reason before we believe anything at all. Without a good reason, why accept any theistic claims?

WCG said...

Part 2 of 3: Aliens (replying to both of your comments, in part) -

Why would you expect aliens to evolve 'infinite' intelligence? Do you think that human beings are still evolving to become more intelligent? Why would you think that? I think it's a misunderstanding of evolution.

True, we're learning more all the time, and we might soon develop the capability to improve ourselves genetically through artificial means. But even then, 'infinitely more intelligent'? Why would you think that?

And then to extrapolate that into a being who can 'conceive life with just a thought'? I don't care how intelligent some being gets,... why would you think that's even a possibility?

Sure, we will almost certainly discover the technology to create life, if we haven't already. (Scientists have already created artificial lifeforms, though they've used pieces from existing creatures, I believe.) But it won't be magic; it will be technology.

But you're not talking about a 'creator,' not really. You're talking about a 'Creator' - a god. You're not talking about aliens, but about a disembodied mind. But we have absolutely no evidence that a mind can exist without a flesh and blood brain (or a material brain, at least). So why would you think that's even possible?

Obviously, your aliens had to come from somewhere, so postulating advanced aliens doesn't solve anything. That's when theists typically bring in their argument that everything has a cause,... and then just define 'God' to be the only exception. (Obviously, if that were valid, you could define anything to be the only exception.)

More modern apologists, having been shown the fallacy in that, argue that everything that begins to exist has a cause, and then define 'God' to always existing. But there are problems with that, too.

First of all, we don't know if everything which begins to exist has a cause or not. Certainly, average, everyday things do. But causation seems to break down at the quantum level. So it's really hard to say.

Furthermore, we only know about this universe. If there are other universes, we wouldn't know about them, or about any overall 'Universe' of which ours might just be a special case.

In fact, any hypothetical 'cause' for this universe would not have existed in this universe, anyway, so how could we say anything about it at all? Maybe universes spontaneously form all the time. How would we know?

Even if an 'uncaused cause' were necessary, you have absolutely no reason to define that as a god. It could be a Universe, a Metaverse, which always existed, spitting out pocket universes through natural processes.

It could be a circular kind of thing, a finite Universe in the same way that the surface area of the Earth is finite. You can travel forever on the surface of the Earth without ever getting to the end, but that doesn't make the Earth infinite.

Heck, the 'uncaused cause' could be a magic teacup with the natural property of giving off universes like steam. The thing is, at our level of knowledge, we have no reason to think anything but "I don't know."

That's why I think that belief in a god is unreasonable - not because it couldn't possibly be true (although some specific concepts of 'God' are mutually contradictory), but because there's no more reason to believe that it is true than believing in that magic teacup. Belief without evidence is unreasonable.

I would never claim to know what's possible and what isn't with absolute certainty. Some things sound ridiculous, but I could always be wrong. However, the question shouldn't be about what's possible (especially if we admit that we can't know for sure).

The question should be, "Do we have any reason - any good reason - to believe that it's true?" If not, I'd say that it's unreasonable to believe it.

WCG said...

Part 3 -

Starklet, you say that human brains are incapable of understanding 'God,' but you're putting the cart before the horse. First, you have to demonstrate that your god exists. And like it or not, we only have our brains for that.

My brain tells me there's absolutely no reason to even begin worrying about understanding God without having some reason to believe that such a being exists at all.

Second, you say that the idea of a creator makes sense to you. Why? And if that's true, who created the creator? If you say that the creator didn't need to be created, then why do you need a creator to explain anything at all? That just makes no sense.

Of course, I'm an atheist. But I don't, as you claim, have my own explanation. In fact, I don't need my own explanation, since being an atheist just means that you theists haven't made your case. I don't have to claim anything at all. I'm an atheist merely because I don't buy your claims - or those of any other religion I've heard so far.

Sure, people have long believed in gods. But think about it. Primitive people knew nothing about the world. They knew nothing about natural processes. They knew that human beings, and even other animals, could deliberately cause events, so why wouldn't they believe that everything was caused that way?

The didn't know what the sun was, so of course it must be a god. That was an explanation that "made sense" to them, because they didn't know any better.

For millennia, the biggest theological question was, "Where does the sun go at night?" After all, like the tides, there was "never a miscommunication" (as Bill O'Reilly puts it). How did God get back on the other side of the Earth again, every morning, ready to start a new day? That was a big theological question.

And death, of course, was especially mysterious. Why wouldn't primitive people believe in spirits - the spirits of their ancestors, animal spirits, elemental spirits? Their ancestors would want to help them, but they clearly weren't very good at it. That would imply some things - at least, some ways to excuse a priest for his regular failures.

As societies advanced, it was natural to expand that kind of thinking. People came to have kings ruling them, so their 'gods' acted like the very powerful human beings they knew - randy, jealous, petty, easily angered. And their stories got more sophisticated, if not any more true.

You think the Bible is more consistent? Really? I don't know about that. But still, you've got to realize that one version of the Bible gained the political power to suppress all the others.

Parts of the Bible were edited later to advance a particular agenda. Other documents were left out of the Bible entirely - and destroyed whenever they were discovered. Heretics were tortured and killed.

For 1,500 years or so, there was a concerted effort to destroy all those other versions of Christianity, not to mention every other religion. Only a small part of it survived. (Some of the losers joined Islam, which is based on the same mythology.)

But if you think that Christian mythology is more consistent than stories about fairies or unicorns, well, maybe, maybe not. It wouldn't be surprising, though, because people didn't usually get burned at the stake because they had a different idea of what unicorns looked like.

For most people, what they were taught as children just "makes sense." But the question is - or, at least, the question should be - whether or not you have a good reason to believe it. I was raised Christian, too, but I've never found a good reason to believe it. I keep asking, but,... I still haven't.

Anonymous said...

(part 1)
First of all, let me make myself more clear on my statement about alien life and their infinite intelligence. I wasn’t being literal. I was exaggerating their intelligence in order to represent their capacity from our perspective. As in, to a baby or an animal, we are “infinitely” more intelligent than they. I believe I stated this in my comment but perhaps I was unclear. To us, this life form is so advanced, we can’t possibly relate to them.

Also, I don't think Christians are `foolish` to believe in a young earth. Perhaps mislead. The reason why they believe this, I myself don't entirely know. It`s not written in the Bible for all I know. And you know well enough that many Christians tend to take the Bible very literally, which is understandable I suppose. They just don't put much active thought into it.

When I said these life forms could “create life with just a thought”, I meant this somewhat hyperbolically. If were to demonstrate any of our modern technology to someone from 500 years ago, they would think it’s magic. I clap my hands and my lamp goes on? Magic. But to us it’s so simple. I would assume it’s inevitable that technology will advance to the point where we can influence the world around us with just our minds. You say we will surely discover technology to create life, but nonetheless, it remains “technology”. Sure, but this is irrelevant. The point I was attempting to make: There are things in this universe we can’t even begin to understand, at least not currently. Why is it so difficult for you to accept that something “bigger than you” could be possible?

You ask why I think humans could be evolving to become more intelligent. Evolution itself answers that question, so I’m not entirely understanding your question in the first place. Was our apparent common ancestor just as intelligent as we are? What about the life from which the common ancestor allegedly evolved? Why don’t you believe humans could evolve to an extent to which their intelligence is “infinitely”, at least apparent to us, advanced?

You say we have no evidence that a mind can exist without flesh. This sounds somewhat naive to me. Just because we have no evidence that something intelligent could exist without “flesh” doesn’t mean it cannot exist. Like I said before, we can’t even begin to imagine the possibilities in this universe. Scientists are making surprising new discoveries every week. The reason they are making these discoveries is because someone thought, “Hey, this could be possible”.

The problem with atheists, I believe, is that they rely too much on science and evidence. Evidentialism plays such a big role for atheists that they flat out dismiss any claims that lack strong evidence. How could one be so stubborn as to completely ignore an idea if it is not immediately presented with solid evidence? With this flawed thinking, you should be quick to conclude that an idea such as String Theory, which as far as I know doesn’t come close to providing solid, strong evidence, is false. Perhaps it has has many points of weak “evidence” that could possibly accumulate to a point where it could provide a compelling case. But until then it should be considered irrelevant. And, ironically, the Big Bang Theory, the ultimate theory that completely lacks any strong evidence (correct me if you disagree), should also be decidedly false according to your thinking. Yet so many scientists and atheists believe it. This is why I don’t understand your statement, “Belief without evidence is unreasonable”. Are these and so many other theories also unreasonable?

Anonymous said...

(part 2)
Take creationism. The evidence that creationists continually provide seems to be inadequate to atheists. They dismiss it entirely it because in their minds it is not “true evidence”. For instance, look at the universe. It possesses an impeccably balanced composition, such a fine tuned and absolute set of physical laws, that it seems improbable that it could have come by chance. If the universal constant of gravity was off just slightly, the earth and all other planets would either plummet into the core of their star, or be shot out into interstellar space. The perfect distribution of stars within a galaxy would become utter chaos and disarray. If the earth itself was just a few million kilometers farther from or closer to the sun, you can forget about life on this planet altogether.

The human body alone possesses such complexity and design; the fashion in which the organs function is so intricate and sound, each bone designed to properly and efficiently support us, our circulatory system, respiratory system, digestive system, etc., so efficient and performing so well that it seems there must be some influence of design. The brain is so sophisticated and complex that it can’t even understand itself.

And I could go on, but I’ll spare you, as I think you understand my point.

I believe these are just a few of many examples of true design. To me, this abundance of “weak evidence” convinces me that it is not only possible, but very reasonable to conclude that the universe is the product of a divine. If one could believe in String Theory, why should they not believe in a creator? It has just as much of the “evidence”, at least to me, that makes these theories compelling. But you dismiss this evidence because that’s what atheists do. I guess one couldn’t be an atheist if they were to consider this evidence in the first place, which is understandable. But for me, this is the “good reason” I have for even believing at all.

Don’t think I’m actively attempting to disprove and disagree with everything you say. I’m simply making an effort to explain to you why the belief in creationism is reasonable. In the same way you propose that “belief without evidence is unreasonable”.

I’ll be sure to read any further replies, but I’ll be on vacation this upcoming week, so my reply may be somewhat delayed. I do enjoy debating this though! Until next time.

Starklet

WCG said...

Replying to (part 1) -

Sure, Starklet, you weren't being literal,... except that you do believe in a being of infinite intelligence who created everything with just a thought. That's why you said those things, isn't it?

Either way, I'd rather reply to what you say, even if I wonder if you really mean it. And yes, I think you misunderstand how evolution works, but that's an argument for another day.

Here's the deal: I'm not saying that anything can't exist. I'm just saying that we have no reason to believe that it does exist without good evidence.

We can imagine an almost infinite number of things - vampires, werewolves, leprechauns, fairies, Russell's teapot, the Flying Spaghetti Monster, the Invisible Pink Unicorn, rational Republicans,... the list is unending, or nearly so.

But should we believe in something just because we can imagine it, just because it sounds good to us, just because it would be really neat? Should we believe in something just because we want it to be true?

You keep claiming that I deny a god is even possible, but where have I done that? 'Possible' isn't the question here. The question is whether or not you have a good reason to believe that it's real, rather than just fiction. Do you?

You say that we atheists "rely too much on science and evidence." Look around you. Science and evidence have proven themselves to be superb ways to learn about reality. Look at the incredible advances in medicine, communication, transportation, food production, entertainment, etc. which science and evidence have given us.

Can you honestly tell me that just believing what you want to believe has a similar record of success? Can any other way of determining the truth compare to science and evidence? How else do you plan to separate the truth from delusion and wishful thinking, without science and evidence?

WCG said...

Reply to (part 2) -

Yes, let's take creationism. You've provided a perfect example of an argument from ignorance, or what's often called an argument from personal incredulity. "I just can't imagine how this could have happened. Therefore, God did it."

But because you can't imagine something, that's not evidence of anything. The best you can say about that is simply "I don't know." (There are many possible explanations, but we really don't know for sure which, if any, might be correct.)

And when it comes to this fine-tuned universe, so perfectly suited for human life, you have to wonder why an intelligent creator would make a place that's overwhelmingly deadly to his creations.

The thin, fragile film of life on this small planet is like the scum on one grain of sand in the biggest desert ever. Isn't it a little odd to be claiming that the whole desert was created just for that? It's certainly not smart design work!

The problem with faith is that you start with what you want to believe and then rationalize everything to make it fit (rather than starting with the evidence and following it wherever it leads). I know a guy who's a perfect example of that.

This guy claims that he investigated all the world's religions objectively, impartially, and discovered that just one really made sense. Coincidentally, it just happened to be the religion he was raised to believe (Judaism). Wasn't that lucky!

He accepts evolution, but, of course, it had to be guided by an intelligent designer. He just couldn't believe that everything would turn out so perfectly without that (argument from personal incredulity).

I pointed out such examples of poor design as the panda's thumb and the giraffe's laryngeal nerve. Oh, that was just because God doesn't care about animals.

So I pointed out examples of such design in humans - non-optimal design that's explained perfectly by unguided evolution, but makes no sense at all from an intelligent designer (some can be found here). Oh, that's just because God didn't want people to be perfect. :)

You see the problem? Believers start with what they want to be true, and then they look for evidence to back that up (and rationalize away anything that doesn't). That's also how he discovered that the one real religion just happened to be the one he wanted it to be. (I've heard Christians tell me the same thing, only their 'objective' research resulted in a completely different conclusion. Surprise, surprise!)

I'm not a scientist, so I don't know what evidence they have for String Theory or the Big Bang. But I do know that String Theory, despite the name, is just a hypothesis. It's not anywhere near a scientific consensus, but just a possibility (different possibilities, in fact).

And they are looking for evidence, either to back it up or refute it (either way, we learn something). I think you'll find that the Big Bang theory does have evidence backing it up, but, again, I'm not an expert. (I do know that the Steady State theory, one hypothesis which was popular years ago, was shown to be wrong by... wait for it... the evidence.)

Creationism is not a reasonable belief without evidence backing it up. It's possible, despite all the evidence against it, but we so is the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Rational people don't pick what they want to be true, they believe what there's good evidence to believe is actually true.

Enjoy your vacation! I'll still be here when you get back. :)

Anonymous said...

Hmm. You seem to be circumventing my actual point somewhat. Sure there exists many imperfections in this universe, but these imperfections are undoubtedly negligible in reality. You’re nitpicking about everything that is *not* perfect, instead of looking at the big picture. Like captiously criticizing the invention of the toilet because it’s not warm enough, when, in reality, it is effectively a “perfected” invention. Meaning, it does what it should. If you wanted a “perfect” world, you’d have to somehow limit population growth at some point so as to prevent overpopulation, control the climate to perfectly suit human beings and every other life form, etc. Even if perfect world was somehow achieved, you would still have people proclaiming whatever is *not* ideal to them, which would then have us adversely arriving at an imperfect world again!

The honest truth is, I started out believing what I wanted to believe. I soon realized this was unsatisfactory for me. Like I said before, I, like you, examine the evidence and make a decision considering said evidence. But what seems to separate the two of us is that I don’t excessively demand such strong examples of evidence in order to make a decision. I, like String Theorists and Big Bang Theorists, welcome sufficient amounts of weaker evidence that supports an idea. I can then evaluate this evidence and conclude in *my mind* that a creator should exist. Again I have already considered the other possible causes of the “formality” and “order” of the universe and existence, but to me none of them seem reasonable. You can go ahead and call this “faith”, but remember, atheist must have faith in science and it’s findings, as well as faith in *themselves* and what they consider evidence. Can an atheist (or anyone for that matter), as an imperfect human, truly be trusted to discern evidence from non evidence and rationally come up with a conclusion based on it? You would say yes of course, but hey, that’s your imperfect brain talking. Of course it thinks so!

So my main point is really this: My idea of “reasonable evidence” is completely different from yours. I suppose this is what separates Christians and Atheists. You say again that creationism is not reasonable without evidence, but you seem to be ignoring any evidence supporting creationism in the first place. I believe there *is* evidence supporting it. And like I said, this evidence may not be adequate for you, but it may be for me, and obviously is for many other people. Just in the same way the Big Bang Theory is supported by it’s own unique array of evidence, which *is* adequate for so many physicists.

A thought: If I successfully persuade you that this evidence is enough to believe in a creator, I would be effectively *converting* you from atheism, wouldn't I? Which we both know will not happen.

You make great arguments sir. Though I believe you are considerably more equipped to debate topics such as these (I've never “debated” anything before in my life), because of your intimate interest in these issues and the amount of energy and thought you put into them, as well as the obvious difference in our age (you’re much more experienced in life than I am!), I have thoroughly enjoyed this entire discussion. Not only has this debate strengthened my own beliefs, it has helped me recognize the true uniqueness and complexion to other people’s thoughts and beliefs as well. So thank you for the time and effort you have put into this, I do appreciate it. I’ll continue to read your arguments and try my best to reply, if I have the time (and energy!).

Now I really need to pack :)

Starklet

WCG said...

Starklet, that's a perfect example of what this video was trying to show, the difference between science and feelings.

Look at evolution vs creationism (or 'intelligent design' as they call it now, in hopes of getting their religious beliefs taught in public schools). Science accepts - tentatively, as all science is tentative - the explanation which matches the evidence.

Creationists, on the other hand, dismiss any contrary evidence as unimportant or "negligible," because they already know what they want to believe.

And the funny thing is that, like other creationists, you never gave me any evidence - not one tiny bit - to back up your idea that a god did it. You claim that you're going by "reasonable evidence" (though not "strong evidence"), but you've never bothered to mention any of it.

At best, you've given me an argument from personal incredulity. Well, you can't believe that the universe just... happened, right? That's particularly funny to me, because you do believe that an omniscient, omnipotent disembodied mind just happened.

If it's unlikely that a universe such as ours just happened - and we wouldn't be here to wonder about it, if things were greatly different (although other beings might exist to think similar thoughts), and we have no idea how many other, different, universes might exist - why isn't it at least as unlikely that a magical 'God' with the ability and desire to create this universe just happened to exist?

Why does the one seem unreasonable to you, while the other - far more complex, far more unlikely surely - doesn't? Furthermore, you don't have to believe that our universe just happened. Maybe it didn't just 'happen.' But that wouldn't necessarily mean that a god did it, let alone a specific 'God.'

And if our "imperfect brain" isn't capable of making rational decisions based on demonstrable evidence, why is it just fine for believing exactly what you want to believe? You're using your "imperfect brain" to believe in a god - indeed, a specific 'God' - because that brain is all you've got. So why isn't it valid to use that brain for evidence-based thinking, too?

As you admit, you started out believing what you want to believe. Then, like my Jewish friend, you decided to look at the evidence (which you haven't bothered to show to me) and - surprise, surprise! - came to the conclusion that what you want to believe is really true. Funny how that works, isn't it?

Of course, you can spot the fallacy in that when it comes people of other religions. When Jews or Muslims say things like that, it's clear to you what's happening. It's just human nature. Human beings find it very easy to believe what they really want to believe.

When it comes to your own beliefs, though, that's different, right?

I don't want to seem like I'm picking on you, because I admire you for caring enough about the truth to discuss it at all. But I've never understood this kind of thinking, though I've been surrounded by it my entire life. I suppose that's why I find it so fascinating.

Have a good vacation!