A reader writes:
Reading some of your stuff and having a hard time understanding it. Are you saying there is positive proff for the things that you believe. Evalotion, the begining of the universe,and all the other things Athiests hold to be gospile.Prove to me that their is not something somewhere that may have created the universe.What was here before the big bang.By def an Athiest does not believe in God.Thats it.Why do you proclaim that you know every religion is wrong.Where is your proof. I am clearly not as educated as you ,but I could use a good explanaition mathmaticly proving all the things that Athiests believe are the THUTH. (sic!!!) — L.R.
There are a lot of questions here, so I’ll try to take them one at a time and give you as clear an answer as I can, L.R.
Is there positive proof for the things I believe?
Yes, although I’m not sure that you and I mean the same things when we say “positive proof.” For a scientist, positive means that we are making statements about what “is.” So is there enough evidence out there for me to say that the things I believe exist in reality? Yes.
Now… about what I believe. You’ve mentioned two things that don’t have anything to do with each other — evolution and the beginning of the universe. Evolution is true in the same way that gravity is true. We know that it happens. We’ve seen it in the lab. We have documented it in real time so many times that it’s pretty much indisputable that it does happen. It’s not about belief. It’s about what cannot be reasonably denied.
The beginning of the universe? I believe that it happened about 14.5 billion years ago because that’s what pretty much all the data points towards. What caused the universe? I don’t know, and neither does anyone else. We do have some pretty good guesses. Stephen Hawking has argued that the math supports the idea that the universe really could have “come from nothing.” I certainly can’t reproduce the math for you here. I’m not a physicist. But Hawking is, and his theories are held in very high esteem by the best physicists in the world, so I think his guess is probably a pretty good one. At the least, I trust him more than a preacher who’s never even owned a scientific calculator, much less written an equation for the beginning of the universe.
Is there an Atheist Gospel?
No. To say that an atheist holds something as “gospel truth” is very misleading. Sure, there are things that we believe very firmly, but most of us are skeptics. That is, we try very hard to believe everything conditionally, and that we admit the possibility of being wrong about anything at all.
The Gospels, on the other hand, are purported to be completely true, with no possibility of them being wrong, or of being proven wrong in the future. This is exactly opposite to the kind of thinking a skeptic tries to do. We believe that the best way to discover what’s really true is to NEVER decide that something is 100% certain. If nobody had ever accepted the possibility that Einstein’s model of General Relativity could be wrong, we would not have Quantum Physics today.
The way we decide how strongly to believe something is how much evidence there is. Evolution, for example, is documented by literally millions of science experiments, all of which agree that evolution does happen. For it to be wrong, hundreds of thousands of scientists all over the world would have to have made gigantic mistakes — mistakes so big that it’s literally inconceivable. The odds against so many scientists making mistakes a first grader would catch? Astronomical!
I don’t believe anything about the beginning of the universe very strongly. I think it’s probably close to the truth to say that the Big Bang is when time and space began to exist, and that there are a lot of possible explanations for what caused it. Honestly, it’s not something I worry about, since the universe clearly does exist, and I’ve got more pressing things on my plate most days. Does it really make a difference to me what caused the universe? I don’t think it does.