back to article Atheists smite online God poll

An online poll enquiring as to the possible existence of God has somewhat backfired on Christian outfit The Alpha Course, with 98 per cent of the popular vote currently saying he doesn't: Screengrab of The Alpha Course poll results at time of publication According to the Sun, The Alpha Course kicked off a multi-million pound …

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@Chronos

No. We won't.

And it isn't.

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so much for 90% of the world beleives in god.

Religeon is an excuse for people not to take responsibility for their own actions

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Stop

Dont follow the link

I thought i'd check the poll out but i get av warnings just opening the page,

26/10/2009 10:11:31 Detected: HEUR:Trojan-Downloader.Script.Generic Internet Explorer http://uk.alpha.org/sites/all/jquery.fancybox/jquery.easing-1.3.js//jquery.easing-1.3 I'm using ie8 as thats all we are allowed at work :(

Seems that its a double backfire, atheists vote and feel smug that the poll backfired, alpha course commences evil laughter as unwitting atheists are infected. Prehaps their god is the trickster bill hicks warned us about......

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Dead Vulture

@By The BigYin et al.

Actually wrong. Using quantum mechanics all possible outcomes to a qusetion can be known at once (all knowing) but Schroedingers cat states a choice will change the outcome (dead alive cat). So you can have free will as you choose your path but a omnipotent being can know all possible outcomes from those pattrens of choices using quantum mechanics - oops is that a proof? You choose when you are dead you can see if you were right or wrong - simples.

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Looks like there's a time limit on voting more than once...

...simply wait a few minutes and do it again :)

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Happy

@Graham Bartlett

Amen to that!

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Grenade

@Chronos:

We'll stop poking the theists when they stop trying to make us all live by their rules.

Blasphemy laws (Blasphemy: the one truly victimless crime)

Anti-gay "defence of marriage" laws

Trying to fsck up science teaching for our kids

Need I go on?

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Let's see now...

* Spaghetti Monster reference: check.

* Babel Fish/"Puff of Logic": check.

* Father Christmas/Tooth Fairy/Easter Bunny: check.

* Invisible Pink Unicorn: check

* Science-religion mutually exclusive: check

* Religious belief equates to lower intelligence: check

Yep, it's another religion thread on the Reg.

@AC, 11:41 23/10/09:

"Most people using the internet are a little tech savvy, hence most will veer more towards science as more credible answer to the great questions"

There's that fashionable false dichotomy again; the one where science and religion are presented as being in opposition and intrinsically incompatible. But as has been explained thousands of times by moderate commentators on both sides, this assumption depends on the definition of 'religion' in very specific, narrow terms. Personally, as someone who's moderately 'tech savvy', I see no reason why science and religion cannot both contribute to the way humans approach those 'great questions'. There are questions that science answers far better than some religions do, and some that I suspect science won't ever really answer at all. For example, "why does anything exist at all", or "why am I conscious, and why I am I conscious of me, specifically?"

All of these questions can be answered - or at least dismissed - in 'rational' terms, if you're willing to be sufficiently vague and inconclusive. The implications of our current - scientific! - understanding of the Universe require us to accept a 'Big Bang' that was apparently caused by nothing and happened in an 'environment' (for want of a better word) where neither time nor space existed.

Even if it's argued that the Big Bang must have had a cause, and we just haven't been able to identify it yet, then we're faced with the prospect of an infinite regress: an endless parade of causes stretching back into an inexplicable eternity of past. What caused the cause of the cause of the cause of the...? If at any point the regress stops, then we're still faced with the problem of something from nothing. It strikes me that this alone torpedoes all our precious notions of what's rational and what's not: at some point we just have to accept that the world around us is extraordinarily strange. Fine, insist on being evidence-based if you wish, no problem there at all: but I'd still be very careful indeed about venturing beyond "there's no evidence for..." to "you're a wicked moron if you believe...".

For the record, I'm not Christian. I hold no belief in Original Sin, or the eternal torture of sinners in Hell by a loving, merciful God, or any of the other dubious tenets so beloved of atheists still - for some reason - desperately keen to harangue me (as one of the generalised 'religious') for my primitive superstitious idiocy.

And I agree: the Alpha Course's question was loaded. There were indeed two affirmative answers for only one negative. But, like the angriest and most vocal of the atheists, the Course website was clearly operating based on a very specialised and specific definition of 'God'. Ask me if THAT God exists and I'll give it a pretty confident 'no'. Ask me if some sort of divinity exists and I'll give you an equally confident 'yes'. (Not absolute, of course: there's always the possibility that nothing really exists at all.)

Obviously it's the fashion to mock those who adopt a religious attitude towards the world we live in. It's comforting for those doing the mocking because it allows them to feel superior, when the truth is we're all just groping along in the dark, with even our best and brightest scientific minds barely scratching the surface of an unspeakably vast, incomprehensively ancient and utterly baffling Universe.

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@Glass55

"Even if it's argued that the Big Bang must have had a cause, and we just haven't been able to identify it yet, then we're faced with the prospect of an infinite regress: an endless parade of causes stretching back into an inexplicable eternity of past."

Only we *have* been able to identify it. We can observe the predicted remnants of it. It's a very well understood theory. there are kids books about it FFS. It wasn't a "Bang" or an explosion, it was an expansion of a singularity, a condensation of energy into matter (and, due to the speed of light being such a large number you can get a lot of matter out of that energy).

If you're interested, there's some great info out there on teh intertubes including this excellent vid from YouTube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ANtpsunRYIs (don't fall into the Creationist/Atheist bunfights there, though. It's funny for a while but gets icky)

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FAIL

@Sir Sham Shad

And of course the energy just happened to be around at the time and decided to do that. I personally don't care how the universe started ther are far bigger issues to address in the present than concerning ourselves with the ancient past - unleess of course you hell bent on trying to get God out of the equation.

Science is fastly becoming a sham purportrated by snake oil salesmen and has become in some areas a religion where no conversation can take place unless you are suitabable knowledgeble to their exacting standards before you can argue your case - genetic engineeering and evolution. How is this any different to Church that spoke in Latin to hold back power from the masses to learn for themselves.

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@phoenix

You can easily gain access to scientific knowledge sufficient to answer most of these basic questions.

It's called "School".

Granted, if you wish to probe deeper into the depths of Cosmology, Biology or any other branch of Science, you need to seek out more specialist knowledge. Like "University" or "The Library".

The only thing preventing anyone taking part in the conversation, as you put it, is the wilful ignorance of those who refuse to do the basic learning or research into a subject before decrying it based on their own lack of understanding. This isn't an artificial barrier put up by Scientists in order to exclude you from the debate, it's simply the basic mental tools you will need in order to play any meaningful part in that debate. It's not a crime to not know something, of course not, but if you want to take part in a discussion in that field, whether it's footy or astrophysics, you'd better be prepared to learn something about it if you want to be taken seriously.

To assist you with your first confusion, here's a handy link:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gravitational_singularity#Curvature

Bet you don't read it, though.

Moderatrix: Apologies for dragging this out. It's like Pavlov's Bell to me, I can't help reacting to it.

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@ Sir Sham

Thank you for the advice, but I think you misunderstood my meaning. I'm afraid I also find it hard to avoid reacting in some cases - such as the sort of assumption you seem to have made in your response to me.

It wasn't actually my intention to question the fact of the Big Bang which, as you say, can be observed. I didn't say that we hadn't been able to identify the Big Bang, but that - at least as far as I'm aware with my admittedly non-professional understanding - we hadn't identified the CAUSE of the Big Bang, or whether it had one.

When looking at the Big Bang, we either require that an effect always has a cause, in which case there can be no ultimate 'prime mover' - religious or scientific - and we're left having to try to explain an infinite regress, a chain of causation that's always existed; or we suppose that the Big Bang 'just happened' - in which case an effect doesn't need to have a cause. Either way, we're forced to concede certain limits to what our rationalism can tell us.

Some fierce positivists detest that notion: they prefer to insist that science will one day answer all questions. I don't believe it will. That doesn't believe that I think people should look to 'supernatural' explanations before scientific ones, but it does lead me to take due care before declaring that a thing doesn't or can't exist. Much less that someone who allows for the possibility that such a thing exists must therefore be less intelligent.

Science, like it or not, is not fundamental to the working of the universe. Science is a system - an effective one, no doubt - which WE have created in our attempt to describe and understand the universe. In its current form, it may well be lacking or incomplete - and in any case, the universe isn't obliged to respect the models we try to impose on it. At the very least, as much as science brings very real benefits (and very real terrors), I think it's always a good idea not to put too much confidence in any predetermined notions of what's 'rational'.

If that makes me a deluded religious maniac, then so be it. Although I still wouldn't have voted 'yes' on the Alpha Course's poll.

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Unhappy

@Sir Sham

Thanks for the advice, however scathingly it was given. Arrogance comes from those who percieve not their own short-comings. As it was I read the article and I still don't see where the energy came from to create the singularity but maybe I am a dumb ass who missunderstands such things having only read 10 pages of Hawkin's book.

As for school and university hmmm they tend to close minds a great deal of the best business people gave that a miss. Also I disagree having spoken to and see in TV sceintists who dismiss people even when they have read up on a subject as they have not the paper to back it up be it a bachelors, masters or phD.

We agree to disagree afterall it would be a boring, unexplored, misunderstood world if we all thought the same would it not?

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@phoenix, @Glass55

The issues with comprehension regarding scientific issues on the edge of our common understanding aren't limited to religious zealots and if I have accused either you of being so (pretty sure I haven't) then that was an error on my part.

The point is that the concepts involved in subjects that are understood by science but at the extremes of scientific endeavour (extremes as in magnitude or complexity, not the egde of our understanding) are usually very counter-intuitive. Our brains and cognitive patterns have not eveolved to deal with concepts such as quantum mechanics and imaginary time. The fact remains that, at the extremes, of which you get a lot in Physics and Cosmology, an effect does not need a preceding cause. Yes, that makes no sense to us but we can and have recreated such effects in a lab environment. A Singularity is not a "container" of a set amount of "energy" or "stuff" because there's no such thing as space so you can't have mass or volume. This means there's nowhere for the "stuff" to make the singularity to have come from and there doesn't need to be. Yep, this is the bit that hurts our poor human brains. Luckily for us we have mathematics and science to use as tools with which to model and explain the behaviour we see and to use those models to predict stuff that we can then try to observe in order to verify the validity of the model and our most recent models for the "Big Bang" so far hold up nicely.

Without at least knowing about what the models say you're left with either being baffled at a non-intuitive situation and relying on blind faith in God to explain it or left baffled relying on blind faith in The Science to explain it. Neither way feels a good place to be but at least with Science you can always learn more about it if you want to and then you can resolve the puzzle to your own intellectual satisfaction.

OK, that's it for my soapbox. Peace, out. (I can hear the sigh of relief from here, Sarah. I'll go haunt some newer thread now).

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