This thread/debate has been an absolute pleasure to read.
I would like to contribute more, but I do feel as though M.C. has pretty much nailed down most of the points any secular humanist would make. But I will say a few things.
First, I do disagree with Hawkeye's point that atheists such as Dawkins have been inadvertently taking the wrong approach when challenging religion. I think any atheist accepts the fact that we cannot disprove god. No one can disprove anything (use M.C.'s basement dragon example or Dawkins' more well-known flying spaghetti monster). Our attempts to make the existence seem highly unlikely is exactly the point. We want to point out just how irrational it is to believe in a supernatural being like that. I agree with Hawkeye, we almost certainly won't be able to challenge the beliefs of fundamental religious people who are unwaveringly religiousn, but by pointing out how ridiculous and unlikely the idea is we can gain headway with many of the people who are "soft" when it comes to their religious beliefs.
A second point that is worth discussing is the overwhelming evidence in favor of evolution. At this point we have built up a stupendous amount of evidence that validates evolution. All creatures have evolved from lesser species and we are the distant cousins of other primates, and the even more distant cousins of all plants. There is plenty of science to support this, but a particularly "friendly" read can be found in Dawkins' "The Greatest Show on Earth", however, I also encourage you to read some of Stephen Gould's work. Given Spoken's repeated references to Adam and Eve, I am confident in my conclusion that his view of religion and God does not allow for evolution. This is a balatant rejection of scientific fact, and any good "theory" (and being loose with the term theory to the point that it loses all meaning) must be able to account for the fact of evolution when describing the existence of the human species. Interestingly, most religions have revised their doctrines to now allow for evolution in the form of "intelligent design". This is just another example of pious individuals being unable to explain a fact and, in turn, changing their perspective to fit it (M.C., again, provided other examples of this).
A final point I would like to discuss is the issue of morality. First, there is a credible evolutionary explanation for our morality-- we evolved it because it became beneficial for our survival stop engaging in many of these malicious behaviors. After a long period of socialization across generations, it became societal norms to not engage in such behavior. We just term it morality now because it fancies us. Second, the idea that we need a omnniscient and omnipotent power to keep us from committing **** and murder is an unflattering and perverse view of humans. By taking such a stance you are accepting the idea of original sin and believe that as children we need to be scared out of committing such acts, or we face eternal damnation. Moreover, the implication is that we are only good to others (we don't **** and murder) because we see it as beneficial to us in the long-term (we go to heaven). And if such a reward was not available to us we would go about our sinful ways. It is hardly being "objectively moral" (as Spoken put it) if the only reason you are good to others is to get something in return for yourself. The question then is, would people engage in **** and murder if we were hypothetically able to prove that God does not exist? If the consensus on this question is yes, then people do need God to have morals. If the answer is no, which I believe it almost universally would be, then no God is needed for morality, and our morality is derived from other (social) institutions.
Team Stand Alone #1
Last edited by xbrokenshieldx; 08-31-2011 at 12:09 AM.