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Ricardo's picture
So do theists believe in

So do theists believe in something that doesn't exist? would it be a self-delusion? Can this be harmful to others?

Cognostic's picture
@Ricardo: It is not an

@Ricardo: It is not an atheist's job to determine if theists believe in something that does not exist. Look at it this way. If you tell me you bought a new car, I would believe you. Why not. People buy cars every day. I would merely assume you were telling the truth.

Now, if you tell me you have a dragon in your back yard, I will need some clarification? I will ask, you mean a lizard? Something like a Komodo dragon?

No, you insist, a real dragon. (At this point, I might believe that you have something in your back yard but I highly doubt it is an actual dragon. I will ask for evidence.)

Okay, so we go to your back yard and you show me the dragon's water dish. "The water needs to be refilled every three days." you exclaim.

Yea, but evaporation could account for that. I am not convinced.

Well, look at all the holes in the back yard. The dragon likes to dig holes.

Okay, but anyone could dig a hole. Perhaps your neighbors are playing a trick on you, you might have gophers, you might be trying to play a trick on me.

Well, look at the fence. See how it is broken. That is where the dragon sat on it.

Hmmmm.... or was someone climbing over when it collapsed. Did it just get old and collapse. I am not seeing any evidence for a dragon.

"Okay, okay, explain this! Look at this broken chain. The chain was attached to a collar around the dragon's neck. He broke it before flying away."

Ummmm. It's just a broken chain. I think you will have to show me this dragon.

Well, you can't see him.

Why not?

He is invisible.

Well then, when he gets here I can pet him.

No, that won't work either.

Why not?

Well, he is non-corporal as well.

So, so I can not see him or touch him or verify him in any way.

Well, you could pray to him and invite him into your heart, Then if you believe strong enough, he will let his presence be known to you.

And what if he does not let his presence be known to me.

Well then you have to believe more. He is testing you.


This is exactly the relationship between theists and atheists. Theists believe in something for which they have NO EVIDENCE for. It certainly could be harmful to me were I willing to spend my waking hours praying to a dragon that is not there. It would certainly be harmful to me to accept magic and dragons without reason to do so. What else might I accept as real in my life without evidence.
Is magical thinking harmful? Are you willing to give up every Sunday for the rest of your life and 10 to 20% of your income to support the magic invisible dragon in the sky? Could you not find better use for that money. How about school books for your kids, or some new clothes? YES - IT CAN BE HARMFUL.

Ricardo's picture
The Dragon in My Garage - by

The Dragon in My Garage - by Carl Sagan

Cognostic's picture
Cool! Unicorn in my back

Cool! Unicorn in my back yard, Hell in the basement, Pheonix in the attic, there are a million of them. I heard it as a dragon in the back yard. I will have to go and read Carl's version.

David Killens's picture


"So do theists believe in something that doesn't exist? would it be a self-delusion? Can this be harmful to others?"

100%, definitely YES.

I could list many examples, but think about the fundamentalist family that refuse to take their child to the appropriate medical people, only to see the child die from something easily treated in a hospital.

My wife is highly qualified in psychology, and at one time worked in a group home for mentally challenged adults. Sadly, this group home was owned and run by a theistic organization. Whenever there were major behavior problems, most of the staff just said "it is in god's hands" or just "we need to pray", while my wife had the solution at hand, usually behavior modification.

The end result is that there are people out there who could have been properly treated, and lived a better life, but instead (even at this very moment) are self-abusive and live in painful emotional distress, just because of god.

Cognostic's picture
David: Group home kid story

David: Group home kid story.
I get an emergency call. A group home kid is on the roof of the school and will not come down. He is throwing rocks at the teachers. His name is Johnny. We need help right away.

HA HA HA HA .... I get in my car and I go to the school. I know Johnny. He is about 13, has low impulse control and is oppositional defiant.

So, I roll up in my Jeep and this is what I see. You know those long school buildings with the classes side by side in a row of 10 or more. Well Johnny is on the top of one of those. He runs down to one end and the principal, vice-principal and 5 teachers follow him. The teachers tell him to get down and he kicks gravel onto them and runs down to the other end. The group follows him down to the other end and tell him to get down. He kicks rocks on them and runs down to the other end. The group follows him down.

Now mind you, this was a special needs school for children identified as SED (Severely Emotionally Disturbed). And this was the teacher's response. I nearly busted a gut laughing as I came up on the scene but I had to act all professional.

I listened to the teachers as they told me what was going on. I thanked them all and told them to all go inside so we could decrease the stimulation Johnny was feeding off of. The teachers went inside.

I stayed down on my end of the building and waited for Johnny to come to me. He walked on over. I looked up at him and said. The teachers tell me you are having a rough day. What's the problem? He went into a tirade about the fucking teachers. I listened, and told him it was all over now. Then I asked him if he would like to come down off the roof on his own or if he wanted me to come up there and help him down. (False Choices) He said he would come down on his own. I told him fine and that I was going to go have a cup of coffee and he should come into the school and find me when he was ready to go home. (No more stimulation, boring as fuck on a roof top in the middle of the day. What do you think the kid did. Ha ha ha ha ha.)

I went inside the school. The teachers were all there. I told them Johnny would be in soon, and about 30 seconds later the door opened and there he was. They suspended him for three days and told him not to go on the roof or throw rocks at teachers again (WHY IN THE FUCK ARE THESE PEOPLE WORKING WITH SED KIDS??).

We hopped in the Jeep and I took him to Jack in the Box for a coke and let him tell me about his day. (I'm no fool. The next time the kid is on the roof, I'm not going to have any problem at all getting him down.) We talked about some solutions (BUT HE HAS NO IMPULSE CONTROL - IT'S HIS FRIGGING DIAGNOSIS) still I did my job, logged the incident in my notes and everyone was happy.

If you don't enjoy the story your wife may. I've got hundreds of stories like this from working with young boys 8 to 18.

David Killens's picture
Sadly Cognostic, my wife has

Sadly Cognostic, my wife has told me too many stories like that, where those not properly trained and equipped to handle problems just flap their arms and make stupid noises, just making the situation worse.

Something similar happens in the military. If someone has severe emotional problems, they take it to their superiors, and almost always, they refer them to the chaplain. And just like those teachers, a chaplain is not properly trained to deal with such issues, apart from suggesting prayer.

I fear how many times this scenario has played out.

Major, I feel suicidal.

Go see the chaplain

Chaplain, I feel suicidal.


Then suicide.

Cognostic's picture
@David, Yep. Sometimes

@David, Yep. Sometimes people is just plain stupid.

Ricardo's picture
other arguments of my

other arguments of my theistic friends.
1- “God is like love: you cannot prove it exists, but you know it is there”
2- “There are many things we cannot see, but we know they exist: air, bacteria, atoms, etc. It is the same with God. ”

David Killens's picture
1- “God is like love: you

1- “God is like love: you cannot prove it exists, but you know it is there”

Just another unevidenced assertion. We have a pretty good idea on how "love' is created" in a person, and none of it involves a god.

2- “There are many things we cannot see, but we know they exist: air, bacteria, atoms, etc. It is the same with God. ”

We have methods and tools to identify, sense, and test air, bacteria, atoms etc. There is no known method for testing for a god that has passed muster.

Sheldon's picture


1- “God is like love: you cannot prove it exists, but you know it is there”
2- “There are many things we cannot see, but we know they exist: air, bacteria, atoms, etc. It is the same with God. ”

1. unicorns are like love: you cannot prove it exists, but you know it is there - how is this a less valid argument, without stepping outside of the argument to other unevidenced claims?
2. There are many things we cannot see, but we know they exist: air, bacteria, atoms, etc. It is the same with garden fairies - so their argument has either evidenced garden fairies or it is nonsense, I see no other inference?

1. We know love exists because we can offer objective evidence, it is an emotional state that requires no recourse to either hokum superstition, or unevidenced magic.
2. We can see bacteria easily with a microscope of course, and though we can't see atoms we can use a type of microscope called a scanning tunnelling microscope (STM) with a computer to registers the change in current with the x,y-position of the atom. The computer collects the data and plots a map of current over the surface that corresponds to a map of the atomic positions.

Though of course all that is irrelevant, as they clearly can demonstrate absolutely no evidence for any deity. So even if their facile claim meant the existence of atoms and bacteria were called into question, this would not remotely evidence a deity.

Same old same old...

Ricardo's picture
thank you for the explanation

thank you for the explanation !

Cognostic's picture
1. We can prove love exists

1. We can prove love exists. The analogy fails. FIRST: The word "prove" is wrong. Science does not prove anything. Science looks at facts and creates models. Nothing can be proved to an absolute degree outside the rules of mathematics. The correct way to ask the questions would be something like... God is like love, you have no evidence for its existence, but you know it is there.

The statement is demonstrably false. We can set up studies, experiments and statistical analyses based on qualities we identify as love. The person's actions, body language, speech, facial expressions, etc, are all qualities of love, and most people are fairly good at accurately detecting another person's expressions of love. when we examine the brain from a biological perspective, we find empirical evidence of altered brain chemistry from love. We've found increased production of Nerve Growth Factor in people who are first in love [4]. Specific regions of the brain have increased activity when people experience love, as CAT/MRI scans demonstrate, to the point that we're learning the specific nuances of the phenomenon, from a biological stance. More importantly, we have absolutely none of this for the existence of a god.

RE: There are many things we can not see. Why can't we see air? Toss a bit of colored flour into the air on a windy day. We can see the direct effects of air. We see bacteria under a microscope. We see atoms and their effects in particle accelerators. Each and every one of these things not only manifests in reality but disturbs reality in ways that are observable, predictable, measurable and repeatable. PLEASE DEMONSTRATE ANY SUCH PROPERTIES FOR A GOD. God, does no such thing.

Sheldon's picture
Good post again Cog. Of

Good post again Cog. Of course the salient fact is that love, atoms, and bacteria can all be accurately defined, tested for, and have explanatory powers based on empirical evidence.

Religious apologists have never done this for any deity, despite endless invitations to do so. Its word salad, and logical fallacies lined up in tandem, all propped up with endless tedious unevidenced assertions....


Ricardo's picture
@Cognostic: Thanks for this

@Cognostic: Thanks for this link
do you have any links about skepticism?

Ricardo's picture
@Cognostic: This site is

@Cognostic: This site is great
do you have other links to science sites?

Cognostic's picture
Ricardo's picture
My theistic friends have

My theistic friends have other arguments which according to them are evidence of the existence of God.
1- “We know of God's existence through faith”
2- “I know God exists because He works (or has done) miracles”
3- "If God does not exist, where did He come from?"
4- “If you believe in the existence of God, you can go to paradise if he exists; If it does not exist you have nothing to lose believing in it. On the other hand, if you don't believe it and it exists, you'll go to hell. ”

David Killens's picture
1- “We know of God's

1- “We know of God's existence through faith”

Faith is not a pathway to the truth. One can believe anything based on faith.

2- “I know God exists because He works (or has done) miracles”

Provide evidence of just one confirmed miracle.

3- "If God does not exist, where did He come from?"

This is an attempt to reverse the burden of proof. Unless one is foolish enough to claim a god does not exist. Then you have the burden of proof. That is why it is always the wiser course of action to just not accept the claims without proof, and always keep the burden of proof on the theistic claimant.

4- “If you believe in the existence of God, you can go to paradise if he exists; If it does not exist you have nothing to lose believing in it. On the other hand, if you don't believe it and it exists, you'll go to hell. ”

Pascal's Wager, easily debunked.

Another way to dismantle Pascal's wager it to point out that there are many religions, and if you pick the wrong one, you go to hell. So the odds are not 50/50 but possibly 2,500 to one against being a christian.

Pascal was a brilliant french mathematician, who lived in a time and place where there was just one religion. So his logic arrived at a 50/50 conclusion, one guaranteed not to lose, one possibly losing. We now know that there are over 2,500 known deities. So now the odds are 1 in 2500 in not losing, and 2499 to 1 in losing.

As an atheist my odds are worst, 2500 to1 in losing. I don't lose sleep over that one misplaced deity. Either way you approach this mathematical evaluation of the odds, they are still extremely high, deist or atheist. 2499 to 1, or 2500 to 1.

And of course, if you pick any of the other 2499, you go to hell.

Cognostic's picture
RE: 1- “We know of God's

RE: 1- “We know of God's existence through faith”
Faith is not, nor was it ever a path to truth. If your standard for belief is faith, every religion on the planet is equally true. The reason it is called "faith" is because it is not "knowledge." There is no position, I can not hold, based on faith.

RE: 2. God does miracles? Fine, have him do one. Well...... waiting....... Each miracle claim must be taken separately. How do you know it was god? Could it be Satan fooling you? How did you rule out natural causes? Why does it have to be your god? I agree something may have happened but exactly what appears to be just a story you are telling me. No miracle has ever been confirmed by the scientific method. At the very best, all we can agree on is this. "We don't know what actually happened or how it happened." Stating it is a miracle is generally a "Miracle of the Gaps fallacy."

3. Begging the question. "If god does not exist he did not come from anywhere." The question makes no sense. If you think there is a god, please provide evidence that he is real, then we can worry about where he came from.

4. Pascal's Wager. It's a lie. If I believe, I have my life on this earth to lose. Every Sunday for the rest of my life. 10% of my wages. Wasted time in prayer. Wasted time in study. Living my life a lie.. What in the hell do you mean I have nothing to lose. I lost my time, my money, my mental stability, my reasoning capabilities and more.

RE: "On the other hand, if you don't believe it and it exists, you'll go to hell. ”

Knock knock
Whose there?
Jesus who?
Come on, let me in.
So I can save you?
Save me from what?
From the place I will put you if you don't let me in.

Christianity invents a hell and then they invent a cure for the hell they have created. ITS BULLSHIT.

Tin-Man's picture


Re: "1- “We know of God's existence through faith”

I know of the pink and purple rainbow farting unicorn's existence through faith.

Re: "2- “I know God exists because He works (or has done) miracles”

I know the pink and purple rainbow farting unicorn exists because it works (or has done) miracles.

Re: "3- "If God does not exist, where did He come from?"

HUH???.... What does that even mean???

Re: "4- “If you believe in the existence of God, you can go to paradise if he exists; If it does not exist you have nothing to lose believing in it. On the other hand, if you don't believe it and it exists, you'll go to hell. ”

Pascal's Wager. I could say the exact same thing about the pink and purple rainbow farting unicorn, but it isn't worth taking the time to spell it all out while typing on my phone because I am in a rush and need to get this posted quickly in order to sign off and go out to start my day. And if I try to use the pink and purple rainbow farting unicorn in the Pascal's Wager analogy, it will take more time than I have to do so... Oh, wait....

LogicFTW's picture


I echo what the others said here, but want to add:
On point 3, "If God does not exist, where did He come from?"

That answer is easy: from human imagination.
That neatly explains EVERYTHING about what is said/written about the various god/religion ideas. And there is A LOT of evidence that backs this up.

Ricardo's picture
how to refute this theistic

how to refute this theistic argument
"God does not show Himself, but affirms Himself by His works"

Cognostic's picture
@Ricardo: Excellent,

@Ricardo: Excellent, evidence at last. What has god done lately and how do you know it was God? Show me how god did anything.

Cognostic's picture
@Ricardo: You have already

@Ricardo: You have already asked this question and I responded with the "Bear Cave" analogy. "Stop using the word "prove." It will save you a lot of grief. Prove is a math term. It means 100% Science does not "prove" anything,. That is not what science does. Science looks at the evidence and builds models to explain the evidence. Your question, properly worded, is; "What is the evidence for the non-existence of God."

Most people will tell you that it is an unflasifiable claim; however, the claim is completely falsifiable. All a theist has to do is have their God show up and the claim is falsified.

When theists make the assertion "It is impossible to prove the non-existence of God" They are shifting the burden of proof. It is no one's job to make sure every asinine claim in the universe can't be proved. It is the responsibility of the person making the claim to produce evidence supporting the claim. There is no good evidence supporting the claim that a god exists and therefore no good reason to believe in god or gods.

If you make the assertion, "No god exists" you have adopted a burden of proof. You must cite your evidence. Non-existence can not be proved. On the other hand, a person can certainly demonstrate, as I previously did, all the arguments, alleged facts, and information supporting the existence of god add up to NOTHING. No reason to believe with all the evidence leaning towards non-existence.


Ricardo's picture
Meaning of Evidence

Meaning of Evidence
feminine noun
Character of what is evident, manifest, that leaves no doubt; test.
in the proof dictionary is synonymous with evidence
but I will use the word evidence!

Cognostic's picture
@Ricardo: "that leaves no

@Ricardo: "that leaves no doubt" THERE IS ALWAYS DOUBT IN SCIENCE. NOTHING IS EVER PROVED 100%. When new evidence comes along our theories change. Science is always willing to change based on new facts and new evidence. There are scientists today challenging the Big Bang Theory. Again - this was explained in the Bear Cave Analogy. We don't need to know anything 100% all we need is an effective model that explains the evidence while being verifiable, predictable, measurable, repeatable, and consistent. We all use the word prove, to mean evidence, it is common to speak that way. But when we use it as evidence that leaves no doubt - we must be talking about math because science does not work that way.

Ricardo's picture
Is There Atheistic

Is There Atheistic Proselytism?

Cognostic's picture
@Ricardo: Atheists are

@Ricardo: Atheists are people that do not believe in God or gods. It is possible to be culturally Jewish and still not believe in a god... The answer would be yes. Being Jewish is a cultural identity as well as a religion. The same is true of Catholics from what I have read.

Ricardo's picture
Is it permissible to cite

Is it permissible to cite links from other sites in this forum?


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