A retrospective: Immanuel Kant

Immanuel Kant‘ was born in Königsberg, Prussia, a region of Germany, in 1724. He grew up to become one of the most influential philosophers surrounding epistemology during the Age of Enlightenment. As philosophers go, Kant was the real deal, and followed in the footsteps of ‘Sir Francis Bacon‘, who 200 years previous had focused on rationalism, the pursuit of reason, and empiricism which involves knowledge that’s gained through experiences of the senses. He was born and raised as a Lutheran, and started at the local Pietist, Latin school aged 8 where he remained a student until he was 16, and he then enrolled at the University of Königsberg, where he studied theology. It was here that he discovered his love of physics, and he began reading the works of the most notorious scientists and philosophers of the past.

“It is beyond a doubt that all our knowledge begins with experience.” – Immanuel Kant

One of Kant’s areas which he began to study was metaphysics, which is theoretical philosophy that focuses on cause and effect; the cause of the universe and the nature of being. In other words it studies how and why, and a perfect example is the question; Divine Creation, or the Big Bang? The second of Kant’s areas was the study of ethics which began with his Pietist faith. He believed that morality comes about by using extensive reasoning, and this led him towards political ethics where he claimed democracy and liberty would lead to world peace. Despite being raised as a Pietist, and adhering to the ethics of his faith, he became sceptical towards arguments defending theism, and some historians claim he was an agnostic, and others say he developed atheistic views. I think it’s fair to say that his spirituality was an ever developing idea, and when applying reason, he struggled with the concept of god.

“All our knowledge begins with the senses, proceeds then to the understanding, and ends with reason. There is nothing higher than reason.” – Immanuel Kant

As a scientist and philosopher he turned the world upside down with his theories and ideas regarding cosmology, ethics, politics, geology and physics. He was a thought machine, and many of his theories despite being disregarded in certain circles during his life, have stood the test of time and his influence on modern science has been monumental.

He proposed the nebular hypothesis which is the theory that the solar system was formed 4.5 billion years ago by a nebula cloud containing dust and gas. As it became denser, gravity formed objects of mass which include the planets and the sun, and they began to rotate. Kant claimed that the evidence for this was the fact that all the natural satellites in the solar system (planets and moons) all orbit around the Sun in the same direction, and because over 99% of the mass in the solar system is the Sun, it attracts all the other objects of mass. The gravity of the Sun condensed until it reached a critical point and the hydrogen atoms fused to create helium, and nuclear fusion began with the Sun coming to life. He proposed that galaxies formed in a similar way, and each galaxy had an infinite amount of solar systems that formed by gravity interaction.

As a moral philosopher he never encouraged any theism in his approach, and he deals with something he described as ‘fact of reason’. What this implied was every human has been endowed with a conscience, and with this comes empathy and reason, and without freedom we have no moral worth, but he also dismissed the idea of free will and believed in the theory of causality proposed by ‘Isaac Newton‘. In other words, morality is derived from consequence, and we must always endeavour to respect humanity in ourselves, and once that’s achieved we will understand our intrinsic moral duty. He separated the idea of morality into two distinctions.

Theoretical reason is studying the natural world through understanding why

Practical reason studies the questions of how the world ought to be and tells us our duty

As well as personal ethics, he had a deep interest in political ethics which involved an honest government and civil rights. In a way he was an idealist and believed that human were inevitably going to reach a state of perpetual happiness, but there must be reform. This he believed would come from a Rechtsstaat, which essentially means ‘rule of law, or state of justice‘, which is a form of constitutionalism. As well as wishing for universal peace, he claimed that wars lead to economic turmoil, and the more expensive wars become, the more reluctant that nations will wish to get involved, which will eventually lead to conditions of peace, which encourages morality.

Have the courage to use your own reason- That is the motto of enlightenment.” -Immanuel Kant, Groundwork of the metaphysics of morals

Regarding Kant’s cause and effect ideas; every action has a reaction, he also studied autonomy and its influences, like universality and particularity, objectivity and subjectivity, conformity and individuality, and what impact they have on decision making, and especially in regards to morality. He defined autonomy into three categories that are:

The right to make decisions without outside influence

The right to make decision independently using personal reflection and reason

The right to be accepted by others that morality is universal and what is required by you, is required by all

“Autonomy, in Western ethics and political philosophy, the state or condition of self-governance, or leading one’s life according to reasons, values, or desires that are authentically one’s own.” – Source

Kant’s ethical ideology is known as Kantian ethics, or deontological ethics, means ethical duty. This involves something that Kant coined as ‘Good Will‘, which suggests that doing something that you consider good, doesn’t automatically make it good, it’s the attitude behind the action which is important. Take theism as a perfect example of why it cannot be categorised as good will. Once there’s a reward for doing a good deed, then the act of morality is cancelled, and according to Kantian ethics, you do a good deed because it’s your duty, not for merit. So good will and duty is what defines morality, not pleasing the will of a god, and once opposing inclinations outweighs rational incentive, the moral framework breaks down.

Georges Lemaître and the hypothesis of the primeval atom

Georges Henri Joseph Édouard Lemaître‘ was a Belgian priest born in the 19th century, and is evidence that despite being devoutly religious, you can believe in god and separate that belief from science and reality. As well as being a priest, he was a professor of physics at the Catholic University of Leuven, and a keen cosmologist. During World War I he served as an artillery officer in the Belgian army, and when the war ended he studied to become a priest and was ordained in 1923. Between 1925 and 1927 he studied solar physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in America and obtained his Ph.D, and where he studied the works of ‘Edwin Hubble‘, and his ‪theories surrounding an expanding universe, which he’d observed through an extremely powerful telescope at Mt. Wilson in California‬

Georges Lemaître 07/17/1894 – 06/20/1966

Upon his return to Belgium he proposed that due to the neighbouring galaxies moving away from us in different directions, then an obvious conclusion would be a massive cosmic force and he proposed the Big Bang theory using ‘Albert Einstein’s’ theory of general relativity that he published 11 years prior. Georges never actually referred to the cosmic event as the Big Bang as he named it ‘hypothesis of the primeval atom’. Albert Einstein disregarded George’s theory as nonsense, but in later life he considered it as one of the most important theories in science. of the primeval atom’. His theory was in simple terms that to explain why the universe was expanding, it must have had a point of origin where everything within the universe was packed within an object of infinite density. This object of infinite density is what he described as the primeval atom.

“The radius of space began at zero; the first stages of the expansion consisted of a rapid expansion determined by the mass of the initial atom, almost equal to the present mass of the universe. If this mass is sufficient, and the estimates which we can make indicate that this is indeed so, the initial expansion was able to permit the radius to exceed the value of the equilibrium radius. The expansion thus took place in three phases: a first period of rapid expansion in which the atom-universe was broken into atomic stars, a period of slowing-down, followed by a third period of accelerated expansion. It is doubtless in this third period that we find ourselves today, and the acceleration of space which followed the period of slow expansion could well be responsible for the separation of stars into extra-galactic nebulae.” – Georges Lemaître

‪Whilst Georges Lemaître was a devout believer, he was a scientist as heart, and he said that through religion and science he had two avenues to search for the truth, but they must always be kept separate. You can’t help but admire a religious person who rejects the idea of creationism and accepts that science is the answer to the birth of the universe. I read that he once said that if the theory of relativity was a creation of god, it would have been declared in the Bible. When he first published his theory, it received little attention, and it wasn’t until the prominent English astronomer ‘Arthur Eddington‘ had it translated and published in the ‘Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society‘ in 1931. It wasn’t until 18 years later that astronomer ‘Fred Hoyle’ mockingly called it the ‘Big Bang’ and that name stuck.‬

In 1929, ‘Edwin Hubble‘ proposed the Hubble constant, which is a theory that the further away galaxies are from Earth, the faster they are moving away, and this was originally known as Hubble’s law, but in 2018, scientists voted to rename it to ‘Hubble–Lemaître law‘, due to Georges Lemaître proposing it, and Hubble refining it.

Evolution of emotions

I was interacting with a user on Twitter who claimed that souls are real, and just because you can’t see them, or science can’t prove or disprove them, doesn’t mean they don’t exist. He suggested that someone can claim love for someone else, but can we prove love really exists. My reply was to inform him that love is an emotion and emotions exist, but there’s no proof of a soul, and it’s a product of religious brainwashing. I told him that brain scans by neurologists have studied the effects emotions have for decades, and it’s actually become a science of its own.

“Human emotions have deep evolutionary roots, a fact that may explain their complexity and provide tools for clinical practice.” – Robert Plutchik

What is an emotion?

An emotion is a biological state that’s triggered through a variety of experiences, like thoughts, feelings, stimulants, experiences, or responses, and can be both positive, negative or ambivalent. Emotions are not only a mental state, but can also be physiological in the way the heart can speed up when you experience fear, or you can perspire. Your breathing can quicken and you may tense up. When you are embarrassed you can blush, and when you are angry your face can go red. Everyone suffers a variety of emotions throughout their days that can be from happiness to sadness, anger to euphoria, love to hate, and these can affect our decisions in a variety of ways, sometimes positively and sometimes negatively. Emotions that are strong can affect our judgement and cause irrationality, like love for instance. Love can make people do very erratic things that under normal circumstances they wouldn’t even consider, and hate works in the same way. Psychiatrists often put emotions into three distinct categories and they are:

Subjective experience

Physiological response

Behavioural response

Emotions are subjective and different to each person. Take anger as an example. Two people could have their cars stolen, and both can be angry, but the first person is angry that they’ll have to report it to the police and take the bus home, so they see it as more of an inconvenience; whereas the second person could be in a fit of rage, as they’ve had their personal property violated, and that was their dream car, and if they get their hands on the thief who took it, they will tear them apart. Emotions can also be ambivalent which is mixed feelings. You’re going on your first date with someone and you’re extremely nervous as what if she doesn’t like you, or you say something idiotic and make a fool of yourself. But at the same time you’re extremely excited as she could potentially be the one, and her smile makes your heart melt.

The physiological response is butterflies in your stomach, dry mouth, sweaty palms, racing heart, rapid blinking, changing of facial expressions, tensing of muscles or posture. These are all involuntary changes that are controlled by your nervous system and are triggered by various emotions. You are going for the interview for your dream job, and you know that you will have to shake the hand of the interviewer, but your palms are sweaty, and you’ve already stuttered to the receptionist and you have the feeling of falling, and your mouth is dry. This is anxiety and nervousness as it obviously matters to you and you’re desperate to make a good impression, but your nervous system is betraying you.

Behavioural response is the actual feeling of emotion, and the ability to recognise emotions in other people as you’ve seen the signs from your own experiences. Someone you know has lost their pet and they are distraught, and you’ve been in the same position yourself as you lost your dog a year ago. You know they are very sad, they’ve lost a friend and their life will now have an empty space in it. You try to show empathy and be sympathetic, but you know that no amount of comforting will ease their grief, only over time will their suffering subside. There are also actions that can be taken when feeling an emotion. Anger can lead to violence, happiness can lead to dancing or hugging someone, and love can lead to sexual interaction, or intimacy.

“Emotions are a process, a particular kind of automatic appraisal influenced by our evolutionary and personal past, in which we sense that something important to our welfare is occurring, and a set of psychological changes and emotional behaviors begins to deal with the situation.” – Paul Ekman

Paul Ekman‘ is a psychologist from Washington, DC, and has a PhD in clinical psychology. He’s an expert on emotions and facial expressions, which he claims is an indicator of lying. Regarding his expertise in emotions, he clams that there are seven groups of universal emotions.

‪• Anger – a strong feeling of annoyance, displeasure, or hostility‬

‪• Fear – an unpleasant emotion caused by the threat of danger, pain, or harm‬

‪• Sadness – the feeling of being unhappy, especially when something bad has happened‬

‪• Disgust – a feeling of revulsion or strong disapproval aroused by something unpleasant or offensive‬

‪• Surprise – an unexpected or astonishing event, or fact‬

‪• Anticipation – a feeling of excitement about something pleasant or exciting that you expect to happen‬

‪• Trust – firm belief in the reliability, truth, or ability of someone or something‬

‪• Joy – a feeling of great pleasure and happiness‬

Dr. Robert Plutchik‘ was a professor who studied psychology and psychotherapy, and was considered an expert in the field of emotions, and the above image is ‘Plutchik’s wheel of emotions‘. He was of the mindset that there are eight groups of universal emotions.

Can we prove emotions exist?

Emotions are observable in the mind and the body, so with them being visible, they obviously exist and aren’t a construction of the mind, and considering emotions are involuntary and are difficult to control, their effects are noticeable. If someone is sad, they will shown it in their face, and body language. They sometimes have a lack of attention, or concentration, and can struggle with every day tasks, like personal hygiene, or coping with personal relationships. Love can overwhelm some people as they don’t wish to be apart from the one they love, and they miss not being in their company. Love can make people over protective, or jealous, or not think straight as their mind is consumed by the one they love. If there’s a separation that’s one sided, the one who’s still in love will feel like they. Ant cool without their partner, and they’ll have a sense of loneliness and feel worthless. These feelings make a physical impact, as well as mentally, and can cloud a person’s judgement.

With emotions being controlled by the brain, the brain will change its activity. For decades, neurologists have been using volunteers and placing them in situations that can effect their emotions and studying the brain activity. In 1872, ‘Charles Darwin‘ published ‘The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals‘, and claimed that emotions have a universal character, and evolutionary history, and every human, regardless of race, religion, sex, or gender have similar behaviours. He expressed that all sentient being experienced emotions, and having four dogs I can testify that this is indeed correct. Their emotions aren’t as complex as humans as they don’t understand the concept of the world around them, but they express happiness, fear, excitement and the need for cuddles and kisses. Darwin was involved with several researchers hiked the was writing his book, and one was ‪French physician ‘Guillaume-Benjamin-Amand Duchenne‬’. He applied electricity to people’s faces to stimulate the muscles to attempt to imitate facial expressions that were relative to emotions, and this was an area that Darwin was interested in as he believed that expressions were an important factor in the study of emotions.

Scientists have been using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to study brain activity when a person suffers an emotion, and they claim that the brain has shown to give off neural signatures that have been shared by different subjects who have been studied.

“Despite manifest differences between people’s psychology, different people tend to neurally encode emotions in remarkably similar ways” – Amanda Markey

By using highly sophisticated computers, they were able to map out areas of the brain that were triggered when the subjects were stimulated into an emotional state. Modern psychiatrists, and neurologists are on the brink of being able to scan brains to seek out a problem, rather than self analysis which isn’t a completely reliable science.

Would extra terrestrial life disprove gods?

The age is the universe is estimated to be 13.8 billion years old, and this is calculated by its expansion rate and working backwards, and studying star clusters which cosmologists use as clocks they can determine how old they are by how much mass they contain and how brightly they burn. The larger the mass, the faster the star will burn through its fuel source, and with our Sun having roughly enough fuel to last 9 billion years, cosmologists have searched for star clusters with a smaller mass, that burn much dimmer, and have been burning for much longer than our Sun. Obviously the universe can’t be younger than what’s within it, and using the Hubble constant which is the rate of expansion, they are able to put a limit on its age.

“To determine the density and composition of the universe, scientists rely on missions such as NASA’s Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP) and The European Space Agency’s Planck spacecraft. By measuring the thermal radiation left over from the Big Bang, missions such as these are able to determine the density, composition and expansion rate of the universe. The leftover radiation is known as the cosmic microwave background, and both WMAP and Planck have mapped it.” – Source.

QUANTUM MECHANICS

Quantum mechanics is the study of matter at a sub atomic scale, which is as small as things can get, and many astrophysicists are confident that the universe went from the size of an electron to a vast size almost instantly, in an unimaginable release of energy, but what they can’t agree on is why it happened, and what was there before the birth of our universe? Scientists claim that the current diameter of the universe is approximately 93 billion light years, which is an incomprehensible size for us to understand. There are hundreds of billions of stars in just our galaxy alone, and many galaxies forming superclusters, and each star will have satellites orbiting it. The likelihood of at least one planet being the correct distance from its star to harbour life, and provide it with the resources it needs are extremely probable and mathematically possible.

“By our best estimates there are around 100 billion stars in the Milky Way and at least 140 billion galaxies across the Universe. If galaxies were frozen peas, there would be enough to fill an auditorium the size of the Royal Albert Hall” – Douglas Adams

DIVINE CREATOR

Many theists deny this, and claim there had to be a divine influence, and creationists completely disregard this theory as they believe the Earth to have been created by their god Literally just thousands of years ago, which is a completely irrational and absurd claim considering the abundance of evidence that proves that this isn’t the case at all. The big question here comes in two parts. The first question is who created god? Theists will tell you that he’s always existed, but astrophysicists suggest that time began when the universe arose from an unstable singularity, but was that actually the start of time, or has the universe died, been born again, died and been born again for an infinite time? The second question is what was god doing before he created the universe and all within it? These are questions that theists cannot answer, and they just give you opinions of what they think, rather than answers based on evidence.

There are also theories that our universe is part of a multiverse, and where ours ends, another begins. So did god make them all, if they are genuinely there, or are there other gods ruling their domain? Many theists arrogantly assume that we are alone, and we are a special and unique creation made by ‘insert your god here’, but what if they’re wrong, and the universe is literally full of life? There are many things about the universe that scientists either can’t answer, or don’t understand, and considering we are so young, and we’ve only scratched the surface of space exploration, then how can anyone be sure we are alone?

EXTRA TERRESTRIAL ORIGINS

There are theories about life on Earth that involve life in primitive form arriving at out planet on a meteor, and it survived, and spread, and evolved into what we have now. Many theists have scoffed at this theory as they claim it’s ludicrous, but it’s no more ludicrous than the idea that god created everything in existence in just 6 days. Theists are adamant that we as a species are made in God’s image, and we are at the centre of the universe. This primitive ideology which is based on geocentrism has been destroyed by heliocentrism, as we know that planets orbit stars as stars are of a significantly greater mass. So if there’s a divine creator, why did he create a universe of such magnitude, but only put life on one tiny blue dot in a random corner of a galaxy? It’s illogical and makes absolutely no sense to me. Look at it this way – god is an artist, and we are his first project. If you go by the accounts in Genesis, he killed everyone off except Noah’s family as humanity had become evil and he regretted his creation, which implies he made a mistake, or his work was unfinished, and life on Earth was at the beta stage.

If the Earth was his first project, and considering we became a regret, then surely an artist wishes to improve on their work, and I know there’s a saying that called ‘the difficult second album’, but the only way for a career to continue is to keep creating, so if this is a logical viewpoint then surely he’s created life elsewhere? This is all hypothetical of course, as it’s pretty much an impossibility that any divine influence is responsible for the universe and all that’s within it. In my opinion, we have to be extremely naive and ignorant to think we are alone, and the question we should be asking is what stage of development is other life in the universe?

ABIOGENESIS

(CHNOPS) is an acronym for carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, phosphorus and sulphur, and it’s our understanding that these are the key components for life as we know it. Add to these chemical ingredients are the correct temperatures which requires the planet to be the correct distance from a star for water to remain a liquid, and the mass of the planet creating sufficient gravity so that life isn’t crushed, or allowed to float away. So as you can see, there are a lot of variables, but that doesn’t mean that it’s an impossibility. Abiogenesis is something that’s frequently argued about and the phrase life can’t come from non life is thrown about, but is that true? Carbon could be the answer as to how life arises from non organic compounds, and it’s in abundance and every organic compound and most minerals contain carbon in some percentage. What we need to understand is the evolution of chemicals came long before the birth and evolution of life.

THE LATE HEAVY BOMBARDMENT

The late heavy bombardment which astrophysicists believe happened around 4 billion years ago, was a theory that suggests that a large number of comets and asteroids impacted the first four planets, and their surrounding moons, and the evidence is shown by the surface of the Moon and Mars, and the Apollo missions landed at craters they thought to be a result of collisions. The collision with Earth would have significantly raised the temperature and sterilised the planet, giving life a clean starting point. As it cooled an atmosphere would have formed, and we’d have the earliest form of greenhouse effect where the gases were significantly different than they are today, which was experimented with in the Miller-Urey experiment.

“In 1969, a meteor struck near Murchinson, Australia. Analysis of the meteorite fragments revealed the presence of a variety of organic molecules including amino acids, pyrimidines, and molecules resembling fatty acids. Initially, there were even serious proposals that the organic material was biogenic in origin, but consensus was soon reached that abiotic chemical synthesis was the most plausible explanation.” – Source

ASTROBIOLOGY

Astrobiology is the study of potential life in an extra terrestrial capacity. Scientists are aware of at least twenty planets that are of a similar mass to our Earth that are within the habitable zone of a star, and one of the ones that’s peaked the interest of NASA the most is Proxima B, that orbits the star, Proxima Centurie. The closest that we can currently search with relative ease is Mars, where NASA has sent both the Curiosity and Opportunity rovers which are gathering rock samples to attempt to discover evidence for life in areas they believe were once lakes. There are traces of water on Mars in the form of ice, and astrophysicists think that before the late heavy bombardment it was a wrestle between Earth and a Mars as to which planet would dominate the ideal location, and Mars lost.

“Around 13.8 billion years ago, all the matter in the Universe emerged from a single, minute point, or singularity, in a violent burst. This expanded at an astonishingly high rate and temperature, doubling in size every 10-34 seconds, creating space as it rapidly inflated. Within a tiny fraction of a second gravity and all the other forces were formed. Energy changed into particles of matter and antimatter, which largely destroyed each other. But luckily for us some matter survived. Protons and neutrons started to form within the first second; within minutes these protons and neutrons could fuse and form hydrogen and helium nuclei. After 300,000 years, nuclei could finally capture electrons to form atoms, filling the Universe with clouds of hydrogen and helium gas. After around 380,000 years it left behind a bath of photons – the Cosmic Microwave Background that Penzias and Wilson accidentally detected. Within this were tiny ripples of matter that were stretched to enormous sizes during inflation, and in turn these became the seeds for the galaxies and galactic clusters we see today.” – Source

WHAT WOULD THE DISCOVERY OF EXTRA TERRESTRIAL LIFE MEAN FOR RELIGION?

I don’t think it would create the destruction of religion, but I’m sure many Christians would have no choice but to question the validity of the claims of the Bible, especially the alleged words of god. If it’s discovered in my life time I’d love to be a fly on the wall when Ken Ham and the rest of his disingenuous AIG foundation have no choice but to accept it. But no doubt they’d see it as a perversion and another example of the pseudoscience of the secular atheist scientists who wish to destroy Christianity, and his incredulity would overcome any reason or logic that may exist within his polluted brain.

A history of atheism

As we know, atheism is the rejection of Gods, and deities, and despite the term only really being in circulation for around 500 years, there have always been people, cultures and religions that don’t accept the idea of deities. Atheism is derived from the etymological Greek root word (atheos – ‪ἄθεος‬), which in its literal sense means ‘without gods’. In ancient times atheists had to move in clandestine circles, as many societies punished atheists by imprisonments, or even death. Early feminists who fought for suffrage were openly atheist as they believed that religion held back the rights of women, liberty and essential basic human rights like anti-slavery. Religion has always seen atheism as a threat, and none more so than Christians who are of the belief that a world without God is a world of corruption and sin, and without Christian values to guide you, then you’re morally bankrupt. Yet many atheists have become humanists as they’ve studied its philosophy and realised that it’s about the greater good, for everyone, not just non-believers. Humanism is about freedom of religion, but also freedom from religion, in its support of secularism. No one knows the true number of atheists in this world as unfortunately it has a stigma attached to it, and many people, in many cultures are simply too afraid to announce their atheism for risks of losing their family, their job, their friends and the respect of people they care about.

Theists will vehemently argue that man was created to believe in gods. That’s their purpose in life, and the majority are stubborn in their convictions, yet for several millennia academics have debated whether gods can exist, and whether they can provide morality and an ethical life. Archaic Greece was a notorious place for the birth of the freethinker even though they lived in a polytheistic society. Philosophy was an important part of their culture and the basis of philosophy is to question everything, so of course religion was heavily debated. Many people, including educated scholars are adamant that atheism is a modern idea that came about in the European Enlightenment, but this is simply not true. With the birth of modern science, and academics beginning to understand the world around them, atheism, at least for a while, grew rapidly as people rejected the idea that religion was a natural state of the human mind.

ANCIENT GREECE

“Men create gods after their own image, not only with regard to their form but with regard to their mode of life.“- Aristotle

One of the most outspoken sceptics in BCE Greece was ‘Carneades‘, who was the leader of the Platonic academy in Athens. He was adamant that belief in gods was illogical and rejected all dogmatic doctrines, and Protagoras‘ claimed that ‘what cannot be perceived cannot exist’, and the Sceptics (skepsis) which is the Greek word for investigation, claimed that ‘beliefs rest on shaky foundations’

“When I look upon priests, prophets, and interpreters of dreams, nothing is so contemptible as a man.” – Diogenes

As well as the schools of thought that include the Cynics and the Sceptics, the Sophists (sophistēs)who were a collection of professional teachers, were openly critical about religion, law and ethics. As a whole they were secular atheists who were openly critical of beliefs and traditions, and were extremely skilled at arguing their case. ‘Socrates‘, who was linked to the Sophists through his good friend ‘Chaerephon‘, was put on trial and charged with corruption of the young, and impiety, as he refused to believe in the gods of Greece. He was sentenced to death and was forced to drink hemlock, but this does not imply that Socrates was an atheist, but he was certainly brave enough to go against the status quo. Prodicus‘, however, who was a good friend of Socrates was a fully fledged atheist, who promoted the philosophy of naturalism, and he claimed that man was so primitive that he had to invent gods so he had someone to thank for the goods nature provides.Critias‘ had a different viewpoint altogether, and he was of the opinion that religious faith was a powerful political tool that leaders can use to maintain discipline from their subjects.

In Ancient Greece the word ἄθεοι initially began as a derogatory slur to describe someone who didn’t believe in someone’s god, or deity. The Romans who persecuted early Christians for not accepting their polytheism would have been described as being ἄθεοι. In Ancient Greece and Rome, you had to show respect to the gods, and if you were critical or held contempt it was wise to keep your thoughts to yourself to minimise the risk of being charged with impiety, but in spite of this expectancy of respect, atheism wasn’t outlawed, and people were able to believe, or disbelieve in what they wanted. It was only after the polytheistic views died away, and paganism became a target for Christian assimilation, that it became much more difficult to be an atheist through fear of being executed after being charged with heresy. Atheism, in a sense went underground for over a thousand years after the fall of the Roman Empire.

THE DARK AGES

‪There was a time when religion ruled the world. It is known as the Dark Ages.” – Ruth Hurmence Green‬

The reason it’s often referred to as the Dark Ages was because religion had a stranglehold over Europe, and there’s was a distinct lack of cultural, scientific and social development. The Dark Ages lasted until the ‘Age of Discovery‘ and the beginning of the ‘Italian Renaissance‘, where Renaissance humanism started, which once again brought about the discussion of moral philosophy not being exclusive to religions, like Greek philosophers discussed as far back as 2000 years prior. Throughout the Dark Ages, or Middle Ages if you prefer, there was no escape from Christianity, as it dominated every area of a person’s life. It had a foothold within governments and monarchies, schools were run by servants of god, and from the womb, until the grave, life was smothered by Christian doctrine. If someone was brave enough to announce their atheism, they’d get no support, as everyone was brainwashed to obey the church.

“Unbelief is the greatest of sins.” – Thomas Aquinas

There were many cases of people being charged with heresy and blasphemy, and much of the medieval unbelief stemmed from the common man being treated unfairly by the church and being of the opinion that God was being used to manipulate them, and justify the actions of the churches. It was expected that you believed, and obeyed God, and if you dared to rebel, you would more than likely face dire consequences.

“Those are not at all to be tolerated who deny the being of God. Promises, covenants, and oaths, which are the bonds of human society, can have no hold upon an atheist. The taking away of God, though but even in thought, dissolves all.” – John Locke

ATHEOPHOBIA

“A fear of atheists is also unwarranted given the cowardly nature of most atheists and their inability to intellectually justify their denial of the existence of God” – Conservapedia

As you can see from the above quote from the extremely biased, and judgemental website, Conservapedia that atheophobia is unwarranted, but mocking is perfectly acceptable, and their website mocks atheism at every opportunity, which is fine, as it’s only words from foolish people. Yet, atheophobia, or simply the hatred of heathens has been rife as long as atheists have been open about their disbelief. There are some vicious stories of atrocious acts that Christians have committed against atheists over the years, and I will share a few.

‘Lucilio Vanini‘ was an Italian philosopher and freethinker, who lived at the end of the 16th century, and the start of the 17th. He was one of the first people to suggest that humans and apes share a common ancestor, and in his second book, ‘De Admirandis Naturae Reginae Deaeque Mortalium Arcanis‘, he declared his atheism. He was arrested in Toulouse in 1619, trialed and sentenced to death. This involved having his tongue cut out, being strangled to death, then burned.

Domenico Scandella‘ was also Italian, and he lived in the 16th century. He was particularly outspoken about his atheism after studying several books on theology, and living during the Catholic inquisitions, he didn’t go unnoticed, and was eventually arrested and considered a heresiarch. Even at his trial he disputed that Jesus couldn’t have been born from a virgin mother, and he didn’t die to redeem us all. He was executed by being burned at the stake.

Casimir Liszinksi‘ was Polish, and lived in the 17th century. He was a philosopher who had studied as a Jesuit, but decided that it was illogical and declared his atheism through a paper he published. He was arrested, trialed, and charged with being a heresiarch, and the punishment was execution. This involved a burning iron forced into the mouth, his hands were burned slowly, and then his whole body was set alight. After he was pronounced dead, his tongue was ripped out and he was beheaded.

There are many more examples of why it’s been dangerous throughout the ages to admit atheism, and the reason there is much less evidence of atheistic movements than theistic movements throughout history is because history is always written by the victors, and many atheistic books have been systematically destroyed.

NAZI PARTY

‪Hence today I believe that I am acting in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator: by defending myself against the Jew, I am fighting for the work of the Lord. . . . And the founder of Christianity made no secret indeed of his estimation of the Jewish people. When He found it necessary, He drove those enemies of the human race out of the Temple of God.” – Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf‬

In 1933, the Nazi party in Germany began to rise into power, and at the time the majority of Germany was Christian with a mixture of Protestantism and Catholicism, and a small fraction, of minority faiths, like Jewish, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Baháʼí were outlawed, as well as most paganism, astrology, witchcraft and the occult. The Nazi party were all followers of some form of Christianity, and saw any deviation from that as heresy, and this included atheism. Adolf Hitler, with the help of his advisors attempted to unite all the German churches, and create one German Evangelical Church. Hitler banned atheistic and freethinking ideology, and the Gestapo, his secret police persecuted them. He also closed down the German Freethinkers League, (which was in direct opposition to the German Orthodox Church), who had half a million atheist members. Later that year, Hitler gave a speech addressing the German public that he had officially stamped out atheism in their country.

‪”I have not tolerated an atheist in the ranks of the SS. Every member has a deep faith in God, in what my ancestors called in their language Waralda, the ancient one, the one who is mightier than we are” – Heinrich Himmler‬

ISLAMIC STATES

In Islamic states, atheism can be treated most severely, and even though it’s 2020, and we are allegedly in a civilised era, it can still be punishable by death in 15 Muslim nations. Denying Islam, if born a Muslim gives you apostate status, and can be punishable by death for men, and imprisonment for women. Whilst this isn’t always the case, it’s still a punishment that countries who adopt Sharia Law believe is their right, and they claim that being opposed to a Islam, and Allah is blasphemy, and blasphemers will not be forgiven. The countries in question include Egypt, Yemen, United Arab Emirates, Sudan, Libya, Pakistan, Qatar, Nigeria, Somalia, Afghanistan, Malaysia, Brunei, Maldives, Iran, and Saudi Arabia. In Iran, atheists aren’t given legal status, or legal rights, and in 1965, in Indonesia, the army committed mass genocide against atheists, or anyone accused of atheism, and Saudi Arabia view atheism as a form of terrorism.

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

In America some states deny an atheist the opportunity to run for public office, or even be part of a jury, and the Boy Scouts of America doesn’t allow atheists members or officials. This is because of America’s general distrust of atheists, and because they have no divine authority to answer to, they are ethically and morally bankrupt. The Freedom of Religion Foundation (FFRF) claim that religion, as in Christianity, has too much influence over the government. There have been surveys conducted throughout America about atheists running for public office, and an average of 50% of Americans would not vote for them, and as a rule, people in public office tend not to declare atheism due to the risk of career Kamikaze. Many Americans are of the opinion that an atheist politician cannot serve his nation as honestly as a Christian, as Christians behave much better when they feel God is watching them.

America has quite a large humanist population, and despite not gaining their morals from some higher power, they’re keen to put humanity as prime importance over folklore and superstition. Despite the importance of humanity in the minds of humanists, Christians still hold much antipathy towards them. Humanism focuses on liberty and philanthropy, and Sir Francis Bacon associated it with a ‘love of humanity‘. In 1933 the Humanist Manifesto was published in Chicago, America, and it was in support of social justice, and for science and reason to be the foundation of ethics, preferably not religious dogma. They weren’t in direct opposition to Christianity, they were just offering another philosophy of life. In 1941 the American Humanists Association was formed, with the aim of promoting secularism and social activism across America.

“I am a humanist, which means, in part, that I have tried to behave decently without expectations of rewards or punishments after I am dead.”  – Kurt Vonnegut

ATHEISM ON THE RISE

It has been estimated by historians that people who identify as irreligious, or atheists potentially exceed half a billion people world wide, which is roughly just under 6% of the world population, which in itself doesn’t sound like a large amount, but if atheism was classified as a religious group, it would be the fourth largest behind a Hinduism, Islam and Christianity. Atheism is hardly a trivial matter, so why has religion maintained its intolerance towards it? One of the reasons I’ve already stated, is distrust, but it’s much more than that. Many theists are of the belief that atheists have a hedonistic lifestyle, are more likely to suffer from depression, and aren’t able to maintain fidelity with partners. They also maintain the belief that atheists are unable to raise their siblings to become upstanding citizens, that atheism is the cause of autism, or makes people nihilistic as they think without a spiritual outlook an atheists’ life has no meaning or purpose. Also an atheist rejects God because their ego won’t allow them to accept that there’s a power greater than them. I’m sure you’ll agree that this is all speculation, and misguided assumptions. Atheists are unique from each other as they have no culture, no doctrines, and no dogma. They have no formalities, dress codes, prayer rituals or worship.

Many antiatheists object to naturalism, and cannot comprehend how anyone can accept that perhaps life and the universe around us actually did happen by chance, rather than being created. This is why the atheist’s association with science, or the ‘religion of scientism‘ as I’ve heard it called, is often one of the first objections that theists bring to the table. Their distaste of ‘Darwin’s theory of evolution’ literally gets their blood to boiling point, as how is evolution possible without the hand of God? Because many atheists embrace science, as do many theists, they see science as the enemy. Some of the greatest minds to have been involved with science have had religious faith, but by being true to themselves, and true to their field of science, they’ve managed to keep their faith and their studies separate. Yet many creationists, and apologists see science as an attempt to remove God.

“The more a nation gets into darkness, the more it’s going to hate the light. The more it’s going to run from the light. And we have a generation of people who have given themselves to darkness, and they’ve embraced atheism, because it gets them away from moral responsibility to God.” – Ray Comfort

We are primates, of the great ape collective, and we are cousins to chimpanzees and bonobos. This is an indisputable fact, but many theists find it amusing to call atheists apes as though it’s an insult, or refer to atheists as nothing but animals, when that’s exactly what we are. The thing they often fail to realise is that many animals, especially other species of apes live in social groups, that require them to cooperate to survive. They have no concept of gods, yet they still form hierarchies and care for their young. Humans, despite being in more complicated social groups work the same way as their cousins, and because atheists accept this, and don’t as a rule see us as a special and superior species, theists hold contempt and reject atheists from their society.

Why the Scientific Method is so crucial?

There’s a lot of misunderstanding regarding how science works, and it’s mostly from theists who are of the opinion that everything has been created, and completely disregard naturalism, as they are fearful of questioning their faith. I’ve said before that it’s much more honest to admit that you don’t know the answer to a question, than believing that an answer can’t be questioned. Accepting what’s written in your chosen holy book, and completely disregarding other possibilities is intellectual dishonesty, and is a common form of wilful ignorance, and confirmation bias, as the individual is unwilling to put their beliefs to one side and think critically. Many theists I’ve conversed with on Twitter are of the opinion that many scientists are biased and with agendas, but any scientist who wishes to have their field of expertise taken as credible, will use the scientific method, as it’s the only real way that impartial truth can be ascertained. Another fallacy is science relies on faith, which is as preposterous as it is ridiculous, as faith is defined as accepting something that’s not based on fact, whereas science, meaning ‘scientia‘ (Latin for knowledge) is about reaching a testable and repeatable conclusion.

Sir Francis Bacon

ipsa scientia potestas est” – Sir Francis Bacon

The above quote from ‘Sir Francis Bacon‘ meansknowledge is itself power‘. Bacon was one of the first to adopt the scientific method, and is regarded as the father of empirical evidence which comes about from observations experiments, and methodology. Francis Bacon was born in London, 1561, and as well as holding several high ranking government positions, he was well known for his philosophies of science and how to reach the tangible truth, which means reality, not spirituality. His new way of studying the reality we live in was greeted, as you’d expect with much scepticism, and although he was crucial to the scientific revolution, his methodology wasn’t adopted immediately. Below are the methods that Bacon proposed:

“The man of science has learned to believe in justification, not by faith, but by verification.” – Thomas Huxley

Why is the Scientific Method so crucial?

The scientific method is an objective way to reach the truth, by avoiding bias, prejudice and personal opinion, and in science the results have to be reviewed and repeatable, so bias has to be avoided, and even whilst adopting the scientific method, mistakes can be made, but the margin of error is limited, and will be picked up upon by another scientist attempting to repeat the hypothesis, and once it’s confirmed by multiple sources, and it’s peer reviewed, it gets put forward to the scientific community as a theory, and this is where the confusion with people who don’t understand the scientific method begins. ‘It’s just a theory, and a theory isn’t fact‘. This is where they are wrong, and a scientific theory is very much a fact. The standard understanding of theory is guesswork, or an assumption, but a scientific theory is the result of an explanation which the scientific community has repeatedly tested its validity.

Flat Earth

Just like ‘Creationists‘, the ‘Flat Earth’ collective deny proven science, and like any other cult they feel ‘woke’ and ‘enlightened‘ that they know something that the indoctrinated ‘globers’ don’t. Conspiracy theorists by definition are paranoid and believe everything that’s taught is a lie.

Sphere Within Sphere (Sfera con sfera) by Arnaldo Pomodoro, located outside the United Nations, New York City

So let’s look at some facts.

Due to its size and mass, and following the laws of physics, the Earth cannot be flat. When an object gets large enough to generate its own gravity the only shape it can be is an ‘oblate spheroid‘. This is because gravity pulls from the centre of an object of mass in every direction. Gravity is derived from ‘gravitas’ which means weight. Because of gravity giving physical objects weight, this explains why when something is released, dropped or thrown, it gives the illusion of falling when in fact it’s accelerating towards an object of greater mass.

Flat Earth deny gravity, as if they accepted it, and followed the laws of physics, then their whole ideology would come tumbling down like a house of cards. They believe that buoyancy and density are responsible for keeping objects of weight on the ground. They claim this but don’t understand, or wilfully remain ignorant to the fact that density is the volume of an objects’ mass, and mass creates gravitons, and buoyancy can’t work without gravity.

Surely this is enough to disprove the illogical belief that the Earth is flat to anyone with the slightest grasp of science, but to a Flat Earth believer, not a chance, as it just adds fuel to their fire of conspiracy. Everything we were taught at school about the universe, other planets, natural satellites like the moon, stars, and our very own Sun is a lie. Space doesn’t exist, and everyone who’s ever provided videos, photos, accounts or proof is blatantly lying and is a paid actor for the ‘New World Order‘.

Flat Earth have used the saying ‘lying in plain sight’ often, & claim NASA is Hebrew for ‘deceive’. There is no Hebrew word NASA. There’s a word ‘na-sar’ which means ‘carry, bear’. To beguile or deceive is ‘nasha’. Close, but not accurate, which is a common theme with the Flat Earth community.What we fail to get through to them is the amount of people involved in this alleged cover up, and that every government in the world must be involved and there’s never been a whistleblower. Every space agency, be it private or government is involved. A ludicrous accusation, I’m sure that you’re inclined to agree.

During the ‘Cold War‘ it was a race for the U.S and the U.S.S.R to get into space first. As we know the Soviets got into space first, but the U.S landed on the Moon. Both countries were potentially on the verge of a war, and neither made a claim that the other had faked their space journey, and now the Soviet Union has disbanded leaving the U.S and Russia to work together in the International Space Station (ISS). In 1983 the president of the United States, ‘Ronald Reagan‘, proposed the ‘The Strategic Defense Initiative’ which was a defence system in space that was to protect the US from ballistic missilebattacks by potential enemies. Why would this have been proposed if he knew space was fake?

In 1956, during the Cold War, ‘Samuel Shenton‘, an English conspiracist founded the ‘Flat Earth Society’, and during the space race he managed to get many appearances in the media expressing his views and opinions. He tirelessly made claims that the Earth was a disc, with the North Pole being at the centre, and the South Pole was surrounding the outside of the disc with an impenetrable ice wall. His theories were in part taken from his interpretations of the ‘book of Genesis‘, and their current agreed model is equivalent to the map used by the U.N, despite that being an ‘azimuthal equidistant projection‘.

“The azimuthal equidistant projection preserves both distance and direction from the central point. The world is projected onto a flat surface from any point on the globe. Although all aspects are possible (equatorial, polar, and oblique), the one used most commonly is the polar aspect, in which all meridians and parallels are divided equally to maintain the equidistant property.” – Source

Many critics of the Flat Earth society claim that they are religious literal extremists, and like creationism, they accept the word of the Bible regardless of the science that contradicts it. Although science has proven that we live in a heliocentric solar system, where Earth and its neighbours all orbit the Sun, the Flat Earth society either believe that there is no solar system and we live within a contained Earth with the Sun and Moon inside the firmament, or we are at the centre of the solar system and everything orbits Earth (geocentric).

There are various apps, and websites where you can track the ISS, and if you’re fortunate enough to be below its flight path, you can see it moving with the naked eye. Amateur astronomers have taken photos and videos of it, yet Flat Earth still deny that space exists. They will literally come up with any theory to explain things like satellite TV, weather satellites and GPS working without acknowledging the existence of space. One of the worrying things about Flat Earth believers is their obsession with conspiracies. They often also believe in chemtrails (the governments purposefully polluting the atmosphere). They are sometimes anti-vaxxers which believe that vaccinations lead to more serious complications in later life and will refuse to let their children get vaccinated. They think that the 5G masts that have been erected to give faster speeds on mobile phone networks are there to give the public cancer, or more recently some theorists believe are responsible for ‘COVID 19‘. The list of conspiracy theories is endless. Yet, one of the most logical and most talked about conspiracy theories is ignored by them, as they’d have to acknowledge the existence of space. ‘Area 51‘ and the ‘Roswell Incident‘.

The theory of the Flat Earth has been a belief surrounding many archaic cultures, and to put it bluntly, it was born from ignorance as these cultures knew no better, and didn’t have the technology to adequately research. It wasn’t until 6th century BCE that the mathematician ‘Pythagoras‘ brought up the idea to fellow Greek philosophers that perhaps the Earth actually wasn’t flat after all. As you can imagine, such a ludicrous and radical claim was met with much scepticism, and it was centuries later when ‘Aristotle‘ presented what he considered as evidence that the theory began to gain momentum amongst scientists and philosophers.

Early Egyptian and Mesopotamian societies, who were regarded as the first civilised societies, believed that the Earth was a disc that floated on a vast ocean, and this belief was shared by Norse and Germanic paganism, but the Israelites were the ones that brought forth the idea that we were within a contained firmament. This geocentric belief has been questioned through Judaism and Christianity, but even until the 17th century, when the Catholic Church was on one of its inquisition missions, the idea of a heliocentric universe was deemed heresy. ‘Galileo Galilei‘ had already brought attention to himself with his theories, and was banned by the Catholic Church from teaching and promoting heliocentric ideologies, but he chose to disobey and in 1616 he put forth his theory of tidal activity, and he was charged with heresy and placed under house arrest until his death in 1642.