About

I’m an active atheist, living in London. I’m a lawyer, working for the government. Pro-choice, pro-gay rights, against big government.

 

17 thoughts on “About

  1. Dear Frances. Thank you for taking the time to share the microphone on the Unbelievable podcast and thereby giving us the benefit of better understanding your insights. I’m a rational minded Christian who has deduced that the evidence for The Biblical God is indeed very strong and reasonable. As a rationally minded person I have great difficulty in reconciling how a lawyer (who I understand is interested in what is true) could be somehow truly disappointed (notwithstanding any understandable initial discomfort) if any of their offspring discovered that the God of the Bible was indeed true. Moreover your declared attitude that you did not want there to be a God struck me as a very honest self revelation about your motives. I also gathered that you are a materialist in the sense you only believe in physical matter. As such, I naturally deduce that you don’t believe in love, goodness, evil or justice because such concepts are indeed immaterial. Which makes me wonder that perhaps your endeavours as a crown prosecutor are not entirely aligned with your underlying world views. Anyway that’s just my honest assessment of what I heard you say on the podcast. By the way I’m not surprised to see increasing violence and Islamist Terrorism when the lives of our most precious, innocent and defenseless human lives are slaughtered in the womb. Which is why I believe all humans (including unborn) deserve the safety of the Pro-Choice dogma. God bless and best regards. Paul Burns.

  2. Dear Paul,

    Thank you for your comments.

    I would be disappointed if my children became theists precisely because I believe that the God of the bible is NOT true. I understand that you see it differently and that from your perspective they would be turning towards the truth, but from my perspective they would be turning away from it, hence the disappointment.

    Although I no longer want God to exist, I made my decsion for atheism at a time in my life when I did want to him to exist, so my beliefs are not simply a product of my wishes. As I said in the show, it’s all about the evidence and the arguments. If the evidence and the arguments are sound then there’s no reason why I shouldn’t be forced to abandon atheism, however reluctantly, just as I was once forced to give up theism, albeit reluctantly.

    I don’t believe that love, justice etc exist as independent Platonic entities but I do believe that they exist as emergent properties of the physical world. If there were no physical beings then there could be no consciousness and if there were no concious beings then there could be no love, justice etc.

    Regards,

    Frances

    • Hi Frances you assert “If there were no physical beings then there could be no consciousness” I would be very keen to see proof or supporting evidence that your assertion is indeed true. Is there any possibility that you could please provide me with the proof I am keen to see? Thanks

      • Paul,

        If God was indeed PROVEN to be true, then I would not experience any disappointment at my children accepting his existence. Because if I accepted myself that his existence had been *proven*, then of course, it would necessarily follow that I would believe that it was true that he existed. In the context of the UB discussion, my response about disappointment was premised on my belief that God’s existence was unproven. Once that premise is removed, then of course, everything changes, including any disappointment I might feel.

        I have explained elsewhere on this blog why I believe that objective good and bad exist. You are obviously at liberty to disagree with my reasoning. I do not think you know you know me well enough to take it upon yourself to say whether I am being honest or not.

        My assertion
        “If there were no physical beings then there could be no consciousness”

        was in the context of my explaining what I *believed* (in response to your claim that I must not believe in justice etc). I was trying to clarify my world view for you as to what I *believe*. I believe that in the absence of physical beings there could be no consciousness. I’m not saying that I could prove it. But then again, I don’t consider that I need to prove it. There are no proven examples of consciousness existing independent of a physical being. In the absence of some evidence that such a thing is possible then it is rational for me to believe that it does not exist (Occam’s razor).

  3. Hi Frances. I concluded from your thoughts on unbelievable that you seemed to diminish the concept of your previous belief in God because it was maintained by putting your fingers in your ears against evidence to the contrary. Yet on the other hand you seem to laud your current situation whereby you seem to be employing the very same approach to reinforce your atheism. Whether or not you or I believe that God is in fact true was a moot point when I raised my other query. What I was rather meaning to say was that if God was indeed PROVEN to be true I am naturally incredulous at how could any intellectually honest person be reasonably disappointed with their children proclaiming that very same truth? That is why I respect those atheists who have the intellectual honesty to not put forward familial challenges or other unwelcomed inconveniences to their comfortable family dynamics as a barrier to believing in the truth.
    When I lived as an atheist I started feeling like I was an intellectual hypocrite because I was telling Christians to prove their God while conveniently espousing such immaterial concepts as Goodness, evil, love and justice as though they were somehow self evident or emergent. When I was challenged I could no longer maintain the dishonest facade. Hence my conversion to Christianity. I myself would need to see evidence or reasonable proof that goodness, love, justice, pro-choice do actually exist in an atheistic universe. That is why the likes of Camus, Sartre and Nietzsche rank in my estimations as being as close as possible to being intellectually honest atheists. Therefore I would respect you very highly indeed if you proved to me that either evil, love, goodness or justice truly exist? Otherwise I will just have to reasonably deduct that such immaterial notions are merely just unproven unsubstantiated figments of somebody’s intellectually dishonest imagination.

  4. Donning my honest atheist hat I must therefore dismiss patently immaterial concepts such as love, justice, goodness and evil as indeed being the convenient wishful thinking figments of someone’s feeble and imperfect brain. This is because I can confidently and rationally assert I don’t believe in them due to lack of proof. Moreover whether or not such concepts can only exist if conscious beings first exist does necessarily prove that such concepts do exist. If I am incorrect in that assessment I’d respect you very much if you could please show me the error of my ways. Moreover if I have the occasion to be brought before a trial jury I’ll remember to use your defense of “you don’t know me well enough to assess my honesty”. Can I assume that if you’re the crown prosecutor that you’d have no objection to me using your very own reasoning? 😉

  5. I also wish I had the very same faith that a moralising atheist possesses. I say faith because it would involve me having incredible faith to believe in the moralising atheist’s miracle (minus the miracle worker). The miracle I allude to is the miracle that the existence of rational and reasoning consciousness (within humans) can be assumed without there firstly being some rational or reasonable cause that lead to such rational consciousness. Whereas Christians can however point to a miracle worker, I see no evidence of any miracle worker or miracle cause agent for that rationally girds the moralising atheist’s miracle. However just my observation. If I am somehow incorrect in my view please feel free to correct me.

    • Paul,
      Frances and I both recognise the abject failure of modern Christian apologetic arguments. Thank you, at least, for providing some excellent examples of the ways in which would-be Christian apologists fail abjectly.

      • Thanks Richard for reiterating your unsubstantiated opinion. How wedded someone is to their ignorantly formed dim views of apologetics is of no real interest to me. However if my poking the stick into some of the self serving sacred cows that are smugly worshipped by moralising atheists has caused you to be as thankful as you purport yourself to be then at least my contributions have been worthwhile. God Bless you my fellow Catholic.

      • By the way Richard. If my (or some others) vain attempts at apologetics fails to give glory to God’s true nature (and revealed truth in the form of Jesus Christ) at least I still retain the intellectual honesty to openly appreciate the great philosophers and theologians whose very own logically sound apologetics have brought more people to the truth than what I’ve miserably failed to do.

      • HI Richard. I thought David Robertson was particularly insightful when he noticed your modern Christian apologetic argument that “God is Love”. As a failed wannabe apologist I commend both you and David regarding your use of apologetics.

  6. Paul,
    //I must therefore dismiss patently immaterial concepts such as love, justice, goodness and evil as indeed being the convenient wishful thinking figments of someone’s feeble and imperfect brain. This is because I can confidently and rationally assert I don’t believe in them due to lack of proof. Moreover whether or not such concepts can only exist if conscious beings first exist does necessarily prove that such concepts do exist.//

    I’m afraid I have no idea what any of this is supposed to mean. Is it supposed to be a representation of my arguments? Because if it is, it’s a straw man. I’ve never said anything of the sort.

    Perhaps you should take off your honest atheist hat and put on your apologist’s one (which I think suits you better). Then rather than trying to be clever and presenting a garbled string of assertions which I have never actually made you could simply say: “This is where I think you are mistaken……And this is why I think you are mistaken………”

    Oh, and you can cut out the references to how much you will respect me if….. I am not interested in winning your respect.

    If you were ever to stand trial for some offence of dishonesty then the prosecution would be required to provide some *evidence* of your dishonesty. If they were simply to claim that when you did or said something you must have been motivated by dishonesty but failed to back their claim up by any evidence, then please feel free to go ahead and use the “you don’t know me well enough” line. The prosecution would richly deserve it for accusing you without evidence.

    You are committing two fallacies with regard to consciousness:
    1. Begging the question. Your use of the term “miracle” assumes that the emergence of consciousness cannot have a naturalistic explanation. https://aeon.co/essays/the-self-conscious-animal-how-human-minds-evolved
    2. The argument from ignorance. Even if you were right in thinking that we have no explanation for consciousness, it is fallacious to argue: Because we do not know how consciousness came about therefore “Goddidit”.

  7. Hi Frances. I must apologise for causing you any consternation. I didn’t mean to. It is just that your responses seem to evade my questions (begging the question). I also found that your’s and Richard’s ad-hominem responses were a bit inappropriate. I may indeed be an abject failure in apologetics. However I can sniff out hypocritical double standards and logical fallacies from a long way out. Anyway I must thank you nonetheless for giving me the platform to poke a well aimed stick into some of the self serving sacred cows that are smugly worshipped by moralising atheists. I wish you all the best and pray that you will indeed not be disappointed (but rather filled with joy) IF your children happened to discover that the real truth is indeed the Biblical God before you discovered the same. Likewise I would be grateful if my children discovered a truth that was contrary to my strongly held views. Regards.

  8. Sorry Frances. I can now see why you have no idea what my comment was suppose to mean because I just noticed I forgot to insert the word NOT after ‘does”. So what I meant to say was “Moreover whether or not such concepts can only exist if conscious beings first exist does NOT necessarily prove that such concepts do exist.”

  9. Frances – I enjoyed the discussion you had on Unbelievable. I’m doing some research and perhaps you can direct me to a source. You mentioned a theory that consciousness is emergent from the brain. I may not have that quite correct, but I think the point is that out of the structure, characteristics and components of the brain, consciousness arises or emerges. Would you be kind enough to direct me to some layman level discussions of this theory. I’m trying to get my arms around just what this means.
    Thank you,
    Doug

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