The legitimate powers of government extend to only such acts as are injurious to others. But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say that there are twenty gods, or no God.
~ THOMAS JEFFERSON, Life and Selected Writings
Last week, Pastor Nathan Lewis invited Bernie Dehler (former Christian, now atheist) to speak to his high school students at St. Stephen's academy about what atheists believe. You can watch the video here:
Why would a pastor do this? It is a good way to teach the kids about opposite worldviews and ideas, and to encounter those ideas before they get out on their own. Why would an atheist do this? Because it is also a chance to share ideas and let others know how each other thinks.
It seems like in today's society people think religion is too sensitive to discuss. But why are religious ideas handled differently than other ideas; such as math, science, and language arts? Probably because religion can be deeply personal for a person. But shouldn't we learn, as a society, to talk about these important subjects, rather than treat them as "taboo?" If they are unspeakable topics for the general community, then avoidance may serve to deepen the divide between people in a community. Instead, it would seem better if people could learn how to respectfully share their differing opinions.
In this video, Bernie speaks about why he doesn't believe in a supernatural worldview. For example, why is it that so many people believe in spirits and haunted houses, but if you really wanted to visit and and see a haunted house, you can't really find one? It seems like the only haunted houses there are, are the ones during Halloween where you pay to see actors.
Bernie went on to claim that, largely speaking, all the arguments for the existence of God are usually a logical fallacy of some sort. For example, a Christian might ask "How did the big bang start?" or "where did the big bang come from?" By assuming that questions with no answers are some sort of evidence for God, one demonstrates a logical fallacy called "appeal to ignorance." Unknown answers to questions are neither evidence for, nor against, the existence of God. Instead, one should look at what we DO know (such as the evidence from genomics, comparing DNA across species) to make judgments as to what is reasonable to believe or not.
Bernie Dehler is the President of The Center for Philosophical Naturalism. To see other events sponsored by the Center for Philosophical Naturalism, click here:
http://www.meetup.com/Philosophical-Naturalists . They also have videos available on their free YouTube channel here: http://tinyurl.com/ltub9aa .
Other community, secular, and philosophical groups can also be found at meetup.com . For example, these are some of the groups that Portland has to offer:
-- Westside Science & Religion Disc.: http://tinyurl.com/bkmhdl5
-- Sunday Assembly: http://tinyurl.com/kkc8nyw
-- Center for Inquiry: http://tinyurl.com/mps923r
-- Humanists of Greater Portland: http://tinyurl.com/kmbmt57
-- Atheists Etcetera: http://tinyurl.com/nhjr3ha
-- Philosophy Workshop: http://tinyurl.com/pzs4ajc