« Dean Kamen's work on prostheticsBuy a car, get a free gun »

Good quote

05/27/08 | by [mail] | Categories: faith/skepticism

I came across a quote that pretty well sums up my current view of religion:

What can be asserted without proof can be dismissed without proof. - Christopher Hitchens

Which is very similar to

Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. - Carl Sagan

So, if people want to accept an idea that has no proof behind it, fine, that's their right. But if they ask me why I don't accept it, I feel no obligation to attempt to disprove their idea. The burden of proof is on the person asserting something. I don't assert that there is no god, but I live my life without a belief in god. If you want to assert something with no proof, feel free, but don't expect me to take your belief seriously. I am just as likely to dismiss your belief as your are to dismiss someone's belief in fairies, astrology or unicorns. Perhaps that seems disrespectful. Why does religion deserve more respect than any other unproven idea?

To be fair, if I assert something without proof (as I'm sure do), I don't think I have a right to expect my ideas to be respected and taken seriously, either. They can be and often are dismissed. It's fun to discuss unproven ideas, but anyone asserting an unproven idea should remember that the burden of proof is on them.



For someone who wears the label atheist so proudly, you sure do seem consumed by the unproven “idea” of religion. Interesting…

Intrigued [Visitor]05/28/08 @ 11:42
[Member]  http://www.brendoman.com/05/28/08 @ 11:46

Can’t belief in anything be harmful? Why is it just belief in God? I agree that many horrible events have occurred in the so-called name of God or religion in general, but I tend to believe that those who took part in those actions were not actually living by the true meaning of the religion they professed to be involved with. On the other hand take China for example, a communistic, atheistic society (correct me if I’m wrong), commits a huge number of inhumane actions on its citizens often. Unfortunately there are a lot of hypocrites in organized religion. Humans are not perfect, atheist or believer in God. Because of this I try to not let other people’s actions dictate my life, otherwise I would go crazy. I’m sorry that you and others have had a bad experience with God and religion, but even for the many downsides to religion billions of people have benefited from it.
On another note, I find it interesting that you quote Carl Sagan who founded the religion of Scientology. Is his religion okay with atheists because it doesn’t claim there is a God?

Intrigued [Visitor]05/28/08 @ 12:24
[Member]  http://www.brendoman.com/05/28/08 @ 12:32

Thanks for the clarification. And I actually whole heartedly agree with you. Blind faith in anything is totally stupid. But from what I’ve read, other than Biblical sources and such, there is a multiplicity of evidence for a God. In my opinion, and take it for what it’s worth, there is a lot of evidence against God as well, but I don’t have enough faith to not believe in God. If I had as much faith in God as you do in not believing in God, I would be a super-Christian.

Intrigued [Visitor]05/28/08 @ 12:57
[Member]  http://www.brendoman.com/05/28/08 @ 13:01

Take Pluto for example. Let’s pretend I lack a belief in Pluto. No human has ever physically experienced it. There are books written about it, satellite pictures of it, etc. But I, because I have never physically experienced Pluto, and believe the scientists who have written about it are liars, don’t believe in Pluto.
I openly and honestly admit, I cannot say for certain there is a God, that is why it’s called faith. There is a book written about him, but I’ve never physically experienced him.
Faith defined in the dictionary is belief that is not based on proof; confidence or trust in a person or thing. You have no proof there is no God therefore you have faith that there is no God. You have confidence in the idea there is no God therefore you have faith there is no God.
There are a million scientists who believe in God and there are a million who don’t believe in God, anybody can twist the evidence to say what they want it to.
Who ever said God was supernatural?

Intrigued [Visitor]05/28/08 @ 13:24
[Member]  http://www.brendoman.com/05/28/08 @ 13:38

I guess I’m a moron then because I don’t understand the difference between a lack of faith and faith in the non-existence of God. Do you lack the ability to have faith? I am assuming you have faith in something.
My evidence is me, you, Pluto, the Earth and everything in and around it. I find it utterly fascinating that people believe that all of this just happened. I’m not sure what theory of evolution you ascribe to but the theory that a bunch of molecules hit each other and bam here we are is too far fetched for me. I would believe aliens created us before I would believe a theory such as evolution.
I guess you could say… I lack faith in the theory of evolution.

Intrigued [Visitor]05/28/08 @ 13:51


I was watching a Authors@Google video and Tim Keller presents the idea that belief/unbelief is never only an issue of intellect. The stuff I’m talking about is in the first 12 minutes. Just curious to get your thoughts on that. He says that unbelief/belief is influenced by intellect, experience, and some social factors.


Also I was watching twit live Tues. night and saw “personman” leave the stickam chat - was that you?

Brandon [Visitor]http://ebrandon.net05/28/08 @ 21:05
[Member]  http://www.brendoman.com/05/29/08 @ 06:06

What do you think of Anselm’s ontological argument for the existence of God? (Surely, you can find some better atheists than Hitchens)

Anselm [Visitor]05/29/08 @ 19:39
[Member]  http://www.brendoman.com/05/29/08 @ 19:43

You can’t conceive of a perfect plate of pasta, therefore, it doesn’t exist.

Anselm [Visitor]05/30/08 @ 05:31

You can, however, conceive of a greatest conceivable being can you not? I mean the fact that the greatest conceivable being is actually conceivable distinguishes it from a perfect plate of pasta doesn’t it?

Anselm [Visitor]05/30/08 @ 05:33
[Member]  http://www.brendoman.com/05/30/08 @ 06:02

I saw the wiki article; perhaps no “serious apologists” use it today b/c they’re like bertrand russell: they feel it’s more fallacious than actually digging in to discover where the fallacy lies: in other words, they’re too stupid to think.

Surely you must see the distinction and difference between Anselm’s statement of a greatest conceivable being and a “perfect” being. Anselm said nothing about a perfect being.

Anselm [Visitor]05/30/08 @ 06:08

You may disagree with Russell, but, did you just call him stupid? That’s a good laugh. I’m curious, what are your qualifications as to equating the co-writer of, among other works, “Principia Mathematica", with people “too stupid to think"?

Brendon [Visitor]http://www.techfreak.net05/30/08 @ 11:45

One last question and I’ll leave you alone… what would it take for you to believe in God?

Intrigued [Visitor]05/31/08 @ 11:55

I stumbled opon this blog and was quite intrigued with what I found. Yet I feel that this endless debate between Christians and Evolutionists is really getting old.

I really am quite interested in why someone who is so adament about not believing in God spends time arguing against the existence of God.
Get serious, please. Your fervor to disprove the existence God is no more absurd than an overzealous Christain condeming you for not beliving in God. This whole argument is an endless cacophony. Christians have faith in God. Evolutionists, or whatever the hell you call yourself, have faith in science and tangiable evidence. Neither side has it all figured out. Neither side, in any case, can totally prove its side. God can’t be proven, other than by means of personal experience, hence the word faith. Evolution has no proof for the origin of life, therefore its ideaolgies are no less ridiculous because they have no foundation to stand on. You can give me proof all day on how evolution of species and nature is proven, and I would be a fool to argue with you, yet are you 100% sure that God, if there is one, didn’t create the world by means of evolution. No serious Bible scholar takes the creation accounts in Genesis literal anyway. The Hebrew word “yom” in the Genesis 1 account of creation can mean one day, or one indefinite period of time. So the argument that the world couldn’t possibly be concieved in 7 days isn’t even worthwile. Genesis 1 is a story, meant to convey a truth, just like a parable.
I am not supporting or arguing for either side, because there is honestly no point. If you don’t believe in God, fine. Why waste time trying to convince those who do that they are wrong. If you do believe in God, great, why try to convince those that don’t via pretentious religiosity that spits all over the true message of Christ, which is love. Neither side is very openminded, but by all means, run through this rabbit hole for the rest of your lives. Be my guest. The rest of us will choose our battles a little more carefully.

Jacob [Visitor]05/31/08 @ 20:55

“Evolution has no proof for the origin of life, therefore its ideaolgies are no less ridiculous because they have no foundation to stand on.”

Wow. Just wow.

Brendon [Visitor]http://www.techfreak.net06/01/08 @ 09:29

One more thing:

“No serious Bible scholar takes the creation accounts in Genesis literal anyway.”

What exactly does “serious” mean here? Because, I can assure you, I have met quite a few bible scholars, who take themselves, their work, and their studies, quite seriously (it would seem) that believe it _can only_ be taken as literal.

Brendon [Visitor]http://www.techfreak.net06/01/08 @ 09:33

Where did the universe come from? Answer that with 100% certainty. That’s what I thought. The big bang THEORY. Intelligent design? Who knows? But I don’t see how it’s any less credible. They are both theories. Prove me wrong. Please.

Jacob [Visitor]06/01/08 @ 18:50
[Member]  http://www.brendoman.com/06/01/08 @ 19:38

I am ok with saying I don’t know. All I am saying is this: you are arguing science and religion, right? These two sides have been going at it for years, and neither side has been able to prove with 100% certainty the origin of life. I just don’t think your demeanor of superiority is just when you don’t have it all figured out either. Not everyone who believes in God is blindly following down this worm hole just because their pastor or friends told them to. I know plenty of believers who would tell you that their relationship with God is personal, and has little or nothing to do with “religion". A person with an experience of God is never at the mercy of the person with an argument, especially when the argument isn’t backed up with 100% truth.
All I’m saying is that you should really consider being a little more openminded considering you have no better answer for how this all came about than a person who claims belief in intelligent design. As I said earlier, how do you know God didn’t orchestrate evolution? Maybe he is real after all, I don’t know, and neither do you. But I wouldn’t rule out the possibility.

Jacob [Visitor]06/02/08 @ 06:30
[Member]  http://www.brendoman.com/06/02/08 @ 10:59

I agree with you when you say that religion is harmful, but I would also say that very few who claim to be Christians truely understand the message of Christ and live their lives accordingly. The church, on many ocassions, has tainted what it means to be a true follwer of Christ.
Is the church perfect? Absolutely not. Have they been a big part of malevolence throughout history and done things that are unconnected with the message of Christ? Yes. But I would be careful when lumping all Christians into a group, saying that their religion is harmful. The message of Christ, as I understand it, is unconditional love. If that can be seen as harmful, I don’t know what isn’t.
Plus, I don’t see how a religious view on how the earth was concieved can be even loosely interperated as harmful…

Jacob [Visitor]06/02/08 @ 16:53
[Member]  http://www.brendoman.com/06/02/08 @ 18:16

So if one were to believe the earth was created by the Christian God, you would honestly consider that a threat? Maybe I misunderstood you.
Reason and logic don’t enter my mind when I hear a theory such as the big bang theory. I don’t see how that’s any more far fetched than intelligent design, and if you want me to take you serious, the burden of proof is on you. And so far, I dont think you, or anyone else can prove it, so I wouldn’t rule out the possiblity of a God, thats really all I’m getting at. If you believe God is imaginary, great. There are many who believe it is impossible for the earth, in its perfection as far as its ability to sustain life, could not have been a matter of pure chance. When either side has evidence, then I might consider taking this argument seriously, but that day has not come. And were right back where we started.
But, I do want to thank you for your opinions and allowing me to share mine, even if we don’t necessarily agree…

Jacob [Visitor]06/03/08 @ 08:40

Just curious but given the dictionary definition of faith, how can you claim not to have faith that God doesn’t exist? Have you managed to obtain some proof that he doesn’t exist?

For the curious, here is the definition given by dictionary.com can be found here:


Elsewhere on your site I’ve seen you assert that “God is imaginary.” If you follow your own quotes at the top of the page then

1. I can dismiss your claim as quickly as you can dismiss mine

2. If you expect anyone to buy it, you’re going to have some serious evidence to cough up

curious [Visitor]06/20/08 @ 11:23
[Member]  http://www.brendoman.com/06/20/08 @ 13:03

:-) I like you Dan. I suppose that by definition, I do have faith in his non-existence in the way children belief he does, but he did in fact exist at one point as a human and of course his actions spawned the great story of Santa Claus. (how’s that for a run-on sentence?)

What word then would you choose?

I am of the opinion that the scientific laws that are in place and have been for ages, (specifically things like the laws of thermodynamics, einstein’s theory of relativity, etc.) point to a definite beginning for everything. That would include time, space, and matter. Since those same laws dictate that nothing comes from nothing, the something we have now had to be caused by something. This something had to transcend the things we know - time, matter, and space. It had to be something with it’s own will and intelligence. I call this God. You can call it what you want. That’s the beauty of free will.

All I’m saying is that it takes an awful lot of faith to believe in nothing when everything points to something (geez that’s an ambiguous statement). What I mean is (and I know how you dislike analogies, but admittedly you have me at a loss for anything else currently) have you ever tried to convince a child there are no monsters in their closet when they are absolutely sure there are?

It’s easier to believe in something than nothing.

Thank you Dan for some real honest-to-goodness debate. If the so-called “Christians” of the church asked a fraction of the questions of themselves that you do, those that were reaffirmed in their faith would be an unstoppable force.

curious [Visitor]06/20/08 @ 13:49

Holy moly! Who wrote that grammatically horrible statement? Oh wait that was me… I thought I had proofread it more carefully than that. A million apologies.

curious [Visitor]06/20/08 @ 13:51
[Member]  http://www.brendoman.com/06/20/08 @ 19:03

Are you absolutely sure though that God isn’t real? I mean what do you do with the fact that the science you embrace points to a definite beginning? At some point there was definitely nothing. The laws also dictate that nothing comes from nothing. So if something intelligent did not start the ball rolling, what did?

Even Stephen Hawking, (called the smartest man to ever live, though I’m not sure how you can know that) has proven beyond a shadow of a doubt the definite beginning of everything and that something that transcends time, space, and matter had to get it started. He never specifies what that is, though I suspect he believes in some form of God based on things he has said.

It seems to me that you are trying to say that, even though we know nothing can possibly come from nothing, there was no cause for our beginning. It seems as though you are saying that it just happened on it’s own which is scientifically impossible. Am I correct?

If you aren’t absolutely sure there is no God, you may fit better into the category of agnostic.

curious [Visitor]http://www.j2nice78.wordpress.com06/21/08 @ 08:05
[Member]  http://www.brendoman.com/06/21/08 @ 09:51

Actually, I am trying to move away from the faith thing. You don’t seem to get that whether fairies, santa claus, or unicorns exist or not, they don’t have a thing to do with your eventual fate.

The thing is if God exists, then you know as well as I do, you’re in trouble. So, if you’re going to the route of not believing, when all the evidence seems to point the opposite direction, you’d better be sure or you and every believer you affect with your posts is in for a real surprise at the end.

If you ARE right though, when I die, nothing happens and my faith has done me no eternal harm, so what difference did it make in life. My faith leads me to do good things, so where is the harm in that?

Secondly, if you believe in nothing, nothing is still something. Do you think it would make a difference to take the number 0 out of mathematics? So you have faith in nothing. At some point you’ll have to come to terms with that.

Now as far as that great mystery of the beginning, you have to understand that something beyond our measure caused it. You are dealing with it by not addressing it. Good for you, God-of-the-gaps, explains it all away. So what then? Darwin-of-the-gaps isn’t any better. You want to know the truth? These are things you have to address or how can honestly sit there and try to tear down everyone else’s belief, be it buddhism, hinduism, christianity, darwinism, or whatever, unless you have some idea of the truth?

Now I don’t want to start an argument, that is not what I am trying to do. I just want you to consider what I’m saying instead of just dismissing it with simplistic, ambiguous answers. I am playing along with your theories and actually trying to give you specifics of why I disagree with what you’re saying. That’s how debate works.

Sorry, now I’m just rambling. Thoughts?

curious [Visitor]http://www.j2nice78.wordpress.com06/21/08 @ 11:14

Just being completely transparent here, I am glad no one has responded to my previous comment yet. I have felt terrible about it ever since I made it because upon re-reading it, it sounds very belligerent and that is not who I am or what I want to be. I apologize for my wording.

curious [Visitor]http://www.j2nice78.wordpress.com06/22/08 @ 14:10

OK, so let’s blow up a few myths here. Biological science does have a compelling hypothesis for how life began on this planet. It emerged in bubbles of fats (we call them cells now) that contained organic molecules–amino acids, carbohydrates, nucleic acids, sugars, etc. All of these molecules can be found in comets and existed in the proto-Earth. See the Hershey Chase experiment.
Lynn Margulis also posited a very compelling hypothesis called endosymbiosis to explain the rise of complex cells from less complex organisms.
These ideas will not satisfy any hard-core Creationist, but I just wanted Danny to know that these hypotheses do meet the standards of scientific evidence and are currently being investigated.

Heath [Visitor]06/29/08 @ 15:08

Form is loading...