Atheists have faith, too

  • Follow Letters

It is unfortunate that laymen and pseudoscientists put so much stock in science to solve all of our problems. I have taught nuclear physics for more than 25 years, and while I agree that science is fascinating and has given us much in the way of benefits, it is, however, no panacea. It cannot ever change mankind’s nature, and that is the ultimate problem with this world’s problems.

Apparently letter writer Jeff Miller (“Example shows prayer fails,” Dec. 4) either is an atheist or one who puts a lot of trust in science. Where does Mr. Miller think physical laws that govern our universe come from? They just happened? They are completely random? If so, one has to ask: Why do these laws follow mathematics? Mathematics is very structured, and so is our universe. Why should this be? Obviously someone had to create these physical laws that are so well-tuned.

Many atheists and science-worshippers hang their hats on evolution, and I bet Mr. Miller is no exception to this stereotype. They feel that the wide acceptance of evolution by the academic community backs up their position. Actually, the theory of evolution has a very weak scientific foundation but a very high philosophical position.

The fossil record does not support the theory of evolution in that there should be millions of intermediate transition fossils. These are not found in the fossil record. After all of the digging and research around the world, one would have to wonder about the lack of these transitional fossils.

Still more compelling than the fossil record evidence is that vertical evolution (simpler to more complex) is impossible in realistic reasoning. The Second Law of Thermodynamics would have to be violated millions of times for even the development of an organ such as the eye. By the way, will an eye be useful if it is missing a retina, lens, optic nerve or any other part? Of course not. How could an originally blind organism (that did not even know that it was blind) develop by mutation a small portion of an eye, and somehow the organism would continue to randomly develop each portion of the eye until magically it had the complete eye and could now see? Answer: It couldn’t even in a trillion years.

It takes much faith in the impossible to be an atheist.

Tim Austin

Hephzibah

Comments (122) Add comment
ADVISORY: Users are solely responsible for opinions they post here and for following agreed-upon rules of civility. Posts and comments do not reflect the views of this site. Posts and comments are automatically checked for inappropriate language, but readers might find some comments offensive or inaccurate. If you believe a comment violates our rules, click the "Flag as offensive" link below the comment.
DanK
779
Points
DanK 12/17/12 - 06:07 am
9
13
Balderdash

Every single argument presented here is so antithetical to scientific reasoning that I am seriously concerned what Mr Austin actually teaches students.

First of all, the Second Law of Thermodynamics is not violated by biological systems. Mr Austin confuses the different meanings of entropy. He needs to catch up on his own field and delve a little into biological systems before making such ludicrous statements.

Mr Austin asks, "Where does Mr. Miller think physical laws that govern our universe come from? They just happened? They are completely random? If so, one has to ask: Why do these laws follow mathematics? Mathematics is very structured, and so is our universe. Why should this be? Obviously someone had to create these physical laws that are so well-tuned."

Well, in fact, the Laws of Nature do not follow mathematics. Mathematics is a tool for describing and explaining -- a language. The laws are human constructs -- theories -- that describe the operations of the physical universe. The Laws of Nature are statements of the uniformities or regularities in the universe, descriptions of the way the universe is.

There is absolutely no logical reason why the regularities and uniformities had to be created by a being of any sort. There is zero evidence that any super-human being(s) created our universe.

Finally, the old, tired, worn out argument about the fossil record has been used by creationists and intelligent design proponents for a long time. The argument just does not have a shred of scientific credibility to back it up. Evolution is observable every day in the world of biology, and biological adaptation of species over time has been observed in the existing world. The theory is not that evolution occurs. The theory has to do with the processes by which evolution occurs. The continuing assertion by creationists, intelligent design proponents and religious spokesmen that evolution is just a theory is obfuscation -- perpetrated on an innocent public by laymen and pseudoscientists who would have us believe that their mythology is somehow supported by their simplistic pronouncements.

If Mr Austin has indeed taught nuclear physics, he needs to do better than toss out some jingoistic pseudoscientific balderdash, assuming that nobody will know how specious his ideas really are.

jic
352
Points
jic 12/17/12 - 07:28 am
7
14
agree with Dank
Unpublished

This writer of all people can recognize a pseudoscientist. He is one.

pearlthesquirrel
786
Points
pearlthesquirrel 12/17/12 - 08:17 am
1
1
Questions:
Unpublished

1.) Having never met Mr. Miller (I would assume), how does T.A. know he's an athiest?
2.) Having never met Mr. Miller (I would assume) I would venture a guess that T.A. would think he is a liberal, right?
3.) Having never met Mr. Miller (I would assume), how does he know that Mr. Miller doesn't worship a deity, perhaps Zeus?
4.) Having never met Mr. Miller (I would assume), I would guess T.A. wonders where Mr.Miller gets his morals from?
5.) Having never met Mr. Miller (I would assume), I would guess T.A. thinks Mr.Miller doesn't read the Bible?
6.) Having never met Mr. Miller (I would assume), I would guess T.A. thinks Mr. Miller has no morals because of what he thinks from question #5?
7.) Having never met Mr. Miller (I would assume), I would guess he thinks Mr.Miller worships the devil?

T.A. is a nuclear physics "teacher"? Where does he teach - Millen Polyunstaurated Polytechnical Polywannacracker Institute? And besides, I'm sure all the people want to know exactly where Cracker Jack University is - because that's where his degree is most likely from?

And besides, Mr.Millers letter was about (if I can make an assumption) the fact that "prayer doesn't work". I've seen a dozen rebuttal letters printed so far and NOT ONE OF THEM HAS GIVEN AN EXAMPLE OF A PRAYER WORKING TO REBUT MR.MILLERS ORIGINAL "IDEA". Why is that? The Comical must be getting hard up for good letters from good letter writers to be printing these worthless anti-Mr.Miller letters.

Tim Austin from Hephzibah? Are you sure that's not really Austin Powers?

grouse
1635
Points
grouse 12/17/12 - 08:20 am
6
16
Oh, yeah, a man in the sky is
Unpublished

Oh, yeah, a man in the sky is the answer...

grouse
1635
Points
grouse 12/17/12 - 08:39 am
8
12
I suppose it's possible for a
Unpublished

I suppose it's possible for a man to know one branch of science yet by myopic enough to dismiss another branch. Clearly, the gentlemen doesn't know biology. I believe it was Richard Dawkins, who is a biologist, who wrote in one of his book about eye development. Indeed, there are animals today with rudimentary sight. Additionally, Dawkins speaks to the fact that fossils, on the whole, are lost to time, so there is - naturally - not the great numbers the gentlemen seems to expect. Evolution is a theory live gravitation is a theory like nuclear theory is a theory.

Techfan
6461
Points
Techfan 12/17/12 - 09:10 am
3
10
"All learned men and doctors

"All learned men and doctors of divinity say that God created it in the beginning; but it is not so: the very idea lessens man in my estimation. I do not believe the doctrine; I know better. Hear it, all ye ends of the world; for God has told me so; and if you don't believe me, it will not make the truth without effect. I will make a man appear a fool before I get through; if he does not believe it. I am going to tell of things more noble. ...

The mind or the intelligence which man possesses is co-equal [co-eternal] with God himself. The intelligence of spirits had no beginning; neither will it have an end. That is good logic. That which has a beginning may have an end. There never was a time when there were not spirits; for they are co-equal with our Father in heaven. ... God never had the power to create the spirit of man at all. God himself could not create himself. Intelligence is eternal and exists upon a self-existent principle."

OJP
6433
Points
OJP 12/17/12 - 09:27 am
9
10
Agree with DanK.

A big red flag went up with the thermodynamics argument.

My high school physics professor made the same error (and did a great disservice to countless students): the Earth is not a closed system. It is constantly being fed energy by the Sun. The Theory of Evolution does not violate the Second Law of Thermodynamics.

This letter is shocking coming from someone so educated in science.

P.S. Regarding this: "Obviously someone had to create these physical laws that are so well-tuned," it sure would be odd to live in a universe that didn't support life (and wasn't so well-tuned). Why it is that way is still a big question but "God did it" is not the only possible answer.

effete elitist liberal
3112
Points
effete elitist liberal 12/17/12 - 09:38 am
7
11
Say what?????

For once I am encouraged by the posts here. I agree completely that
"This letter is shocking coming from someone so educated in science," except that Mr. Austin apparently is not so educated in science. The 2nd Law howler is just the start, an embarrassment all around.

CobaltGeorge
155632
Points
CobaltGeorge 12/17/12 - 09:40 am
9
4
How Come

with all the Religious Faiths that made their presence known last night at the Newtown presidential gathering, there was no feeling of love given by an Atheist Faith representative. They could have made so many of those grieving parents feel so much better by making statements like one of the posters above have made. "God Is A Joke"

All I can say to those with that mindset is "You Live in the world alone"

OJP
6433
Points
OJP 12/17/12 - 09:45 am
8
9
@CobaltGeorge,

Because, despite what agitators on the religious side claim, atheism is not a religion (and therefore is not likely to have a common spokesperson).

But rest assured, the sentiment was there even if not expressed.

(Low, low blow, by the way.)

Humble Angela
41338
Points
Humble Angela 12/17/12 - 09:54 am
10
5
llewallen
72
Points
llewallen 12/17/12 - 10:00 am
5
14
Good without god.

It seems to me that during this time of year these discussions crop up more than other times. I suppose it’s the push from folks to keep Jesus as the main focus for Christmas. I guess...it does make the rationalization easier as you whip out the plastic to purchase gifts that in 60 days or so will be a distant memory of the joyous celebration that occurred on 12/25. Whatever works for you.

As you snipe at one another I'm sure each of you exemplify the things that Jesus said was important to him - comforting the sick, helping the poor, and visiting those in prison (recorded in Mathew I believe). I'm guessing this takes more than dropping $20 in the plate every other Sunday. Whatever works for you.

Me personally, I am good without god. Happy Holidays!

CobaltGeorge
155632
Points
CobaltGeorge 12/17/12 - 10:10 am
9
3
I Guess

all you atheists must have been gagging last night when those different religions were trying to give some support to the grieving with words of God. How would you have given your support?I can see it now...Look people, forget them, they are all dead!

Humble Angela
41338
Points
Humble Angela 12/17/12 - 10:13 am
11
5
You are right CG......they
Unpublished

You are right CG......they can offer such comfort as "they no longer exist....they aren't in a better place because this is as good as it gets." And don't forget "you must be silly for believeing in God or the man in the sky as we like to call him."

pearlthesquirrel
786
Points
pearlthesquirrel 12/17/12 - 10:13 am
1
1
[filtered word]?
Unpublished

Yea, and I didn't see anybody from the NRA representin' either.
Yea, and I didn't see anybody from the KKK representin' either.
Yea, and I didn't see anybody from the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame representin' either.
Yea, and I didn't see Cobalt George there representin' either.
So, what's your point? - because the only point I ever see in your comments is the point on the top of your tin foil hat.

effete elitist liberal
3112
Points
effete elitist liberal 12/17/12 - 10:14 am
3
10
gaps

Since no one seems to have addressed this part of Mr. Austin's claims, there are many examples of "fill-the-gap" fossils, and more are discovered every day. They support the processes of both micro and macro evolution. The fossils found in China in the past ten years or so give dramatic and convincing evidence for reptile to bird evolution--just a bit of online searching will bring up the facts....

llewallen
72
Points
llewallen 12/17/12 - 10:17 am
3
14
School Shooting - CG and HA

Gagging...no way! Greiving yes. What a horrible thing to say. You guys continue to reinforce my belief system. Keep up the good work!

rmwhitley
5542
Points
rmwhitley 12/17/12 - 10:25 am
1
0
I'm not the most
Unpublished

religious cat out there, nor am I close to being the smartest but I do know that to "put down" someone's personal religious beliefs is to place one's self in grave danger, if you get my drift?

CobaltGeorge
155632
Points
CobaltGeorge 12/17/12 - 10:30 am
11
3
llewallen

OK, enlighten me to your belief system. Please tell me what words you would have shared or given to those 26 families?

effete elitist liberal
3112
Points
effete elitist liberal 12/17/12 - 10:31 am
5
8
grieving

Sorry, Cobalt and Humble, it's "Christians" like the Phelps and the other Westboro crazies who are crude and insensitive at funerals. We atheists prefer to keep our grieving silent and respectful of the dead.

OJP
6433
Points
OJP 12/17/12 - 10:33 am
5
8
@Humble Angela

No, it's not likely (despite the existence of that organization). And surely you understand that "not likely" doesn't mean "didn't/doesn't/won't". I haven't fact-checked to see if non-believers were represented; they very well may have been.

That's the first I've ever heard of the "National Atheist Party". They certainly don't speak for me (and definitely not in the same way that the Pope officially speaks for Catholics, or Billy Graham unofficially speaks for Southern Baptists).

OJP
6433
Points
OJP 12/17/12 - 10:34 am
6
12
I agree with llewallen.

CobaltGeorge and Humble Angela are not representing their faith well with these comments.

Please don't use this tragedy to score political points against people who are different than you.

llewallen
72
Points
llewallen 12/17/12 - 10:38 am
3
11
Well CG,

Well CG I would have simply said "There is nothing that I can say or do to make this tragedy go away. I'm very sorry for your loss. PLEASE let me know if there is anything I can do to help you and your family during this trying time."

What else can you say? If your going to bring god into the picture, then, thier deaths must have been god's will. Otherwise it wouldn't have happened.

Bizkit
30803
Points
Bizkit 12/17/12 - 10:36 am
6
2
Well I know another physicist

Well I know another physicist who doesn't believe in evolution and thinks the earth isn't millions of years old-I didn't ask him about flat earth. Mr Austin would be correct about the second law of thermodynamics if it were a closed system-but it isn't it is an open system with the energy of the sun fueling ecosystems by photosynthetic producers make sugar and the consumer use it in cellular respiration and establishing the carbon cycle. Actually entropy is what drives the order in biological system. There is an article on Wikipedia listing transtional fossils which is no way complete-it isn't the best article but developing. One argument he posits would have merit applied to abiogenesis-life doesn't spontaineously arise has been demonstrated by science but this one exception arises in abiogenesis where inanimate organic molecular (all life is carbon and water based) spontaineously gain life-which probablistically if it happened once it would happen again and likely many times-which there are scientist who support that argument and look for other types of life on this planet which may have a different origin from the last universal commmon ancestor. However there is no evidence of such and according to science the age of the genetic code is about the same age when the earth first formed (Hadean period which there was no life). The fossils in China are also problematic because some don't fit into present evolutionary schemes-especially those from the Ediacara period.

CobaltGeorge
155632
Points
CobaltGeorge 12/17/12 - 10:43 am
5
2
Too Bad

They weren't all atheists. There minds and body would be so much better today.

Bizkit
30803
Points
Bizkit 12/17/12 - 10:45 am
4
4
Why would athetist who

Why would athetist who beleive in evolution grieve for these deaths-isn't death natural and a part of life as aging and death evolved, all life dies, humans aren't special just another mammal-do you grieve for the death of bacteria, other animals or plants when they die. Seems anti-evolution to grieve over just another mammal dying unless you admit that humans are special and do deserve a special dignity in life (which also apply to an unborn fetus). Some people seem mixed up. All the great religions make killing humans a crime (yeah people don't take to it too well) whereas biologically it is a part of nature and evolution. I don't think our govt is going to address this constructively and realize this violence in our youth is a cultural and societal problem of our own making.

CobaltGeorge
155632
Points
CobaltGeorge 12/17/12 - 10:51 am
9
0
Damn

Broke my own rule..."Never get into a religious debate!"- Fruitless.

llewallen
72
Points
llewallen 12/17/12 - 10:58 am
3
5
Bizkit

Grief is an emotion that many mamals share - not exclusively a human response.

effete elitist liberal
3112
Points
effete elitist liberal 12/17/12 - 11:11 am
5
8
bizkit

" The fossils in China are also problematic because some don't fit into present evolutionary schemes-especially those from the Ediacara period."

That is the beauty of science--"present schemes" can change. The scientist will ask how a theory might have to be altered to explain new observable evidence. Science "evolves." Christianity rejects any ideas or behaviors that do not fit its established tenets. Religion stagnates.

Dr_GS_Hurd
119
Points
Dr_GS_Hurd 12/17/12 - 11:13 am
6
2
I detect a phoney

Tim Austin's entire rant is a non sequitur to Jeff Miller's letter on the political manipulation of faith and public prayer. Surely Miller would find he is agreeing with the biblical instruction regarding prayer found in Matthew 6:5. Further, he makes so many trivial errors of fact and reasoning that I find it improbable that he is educated in any science.

Mr. Austin's mention of seemingly "well-tuned" physical constants as evidence of magic fails. It is highly improbable that intelligent life could evolve in any universe that did not have carbon. There is actually a range of conditions that could generate carbon, rather than a single unique set. For a discussion of these parameters see: Victor Stenger's chapter in "Why Intelligent Design Fails: A Scientific Critique of the New Creationism" Matt Young, and Taner Edis, Editors (2005 Rutgers University Press). For two longer cosmology discussions, see;

Krauss, Lawrence
2012 “A Universe From Nothing” New York: Free Press

Susskind, Leonard
2005 "The Cosmic Landscape: String Theory and the Illusion of Intelligent Design" New York: Little and Brown Publishers

Unlike Mr. Austin, these were written by real physicists.

Mr. Austin is obviously poorly informed about thermodynamics. Like most amateurs, and creationists, he seems to think it somehow conflicts with biology. He specifically mentioned the Second Law. The common example of a seed growing into a tree shows that complex organisms can emerge while the Second Law is conserved. This is because there is an abundance of energy available so that life is free to be quite inefficient. The efficiency we observe is the result of competition between organisms. For a good on-line discussion see The Second Law and Evolution by Dr. Frank L. Lambert, Professor Emeritus of Physics. I also recommend "An Introduction to Entropy-and-Evolution and The Second Law of Thermodynamics" by Craig Rusbult, Ph.D. Dr. Rusbult is a Christian, a scientist, and an educator. He specifically addressed his essay to the false witness regarding physics.

Back to Top

Search Augusta jobs