Anyway, on the Pull the Plug site's front page, Comfort defines an atheist as "someone who believes that nothing made everything". He is referring, of course, to the scientific theory called the Big Bang. I don't know that all atheists believe in the Big Bang, but I know I believe in it. I base that belief on the evidence and observations published in the works of reputable astronomers and cosmologists, such as Edwin Hubble or Stephen Hawking.
I certainly can't say that I know for a certainty that the Big Bang happened, because I wasn't there to observe the beginning of all things. But, then, neither was Comfort. One quote that Comfort uses to support his claim that atheists believe that "nothing made everything" was from Cornell University's astrophysics web page, in which Karen Masters, PhD writes “ . . . space and time both started at the Big Bang and therefore there was nothing before it.”
However, Comfort did exclude part of what Dr. Masters wrote:
Not only does Dr. Masters seem to be accommodating towards religious beliefs in this quote, but she also admits that she doesn't know what happened before the Big Bang. If Dr. Masters is an atheist (and there's no indication either way given at the Cornell site) then it seems she's an intellectually honest one. (n.b., she does appear to be wearing a cross pendant in the photo at her own website.)
"We can speculate in meta-physics or in religion about what was before the Big Bang, but again, we cannot use science to tell anything about it, as physics as we understand it breaks down at that point. "
But not having a better explanation for what happened before the Big Bang is no proof that Genesis 1 is correct. If we even need an explanation of what happened before the Big Bang, there's a whole host of creation myths to choose from (cf., the Wikipedia article on creation myths). Pick any one you like, each one is as unverifiable and unfalsifiable as the next.
Or pick none of them. Do we really need a Designer to explain the origin of things? The argument from design, as I understand it, is that complexity requires a designer. For instance, Comfort argues on his site that "if I say that I don’t believe that a builder built my house, then I am left with the insanity of believing that nothing built it. It just happened." Except we know for a certainty how houses are built. We've seen carpenters and bricklayers at work with our own two eyes; perhaps even some of you reading this have actually participated in the act of creating a house.
And doesn't the Designer himself qualify as complexity? The God of the Bible certainly seems complex: he talks, he smites stuff, he creates everything (presumably from nothing!). Since complexity requires a Designer, then shouldn't we also posit the existence of a Designer of the Designer? And following the same logic, such a Designer would have to be even more complex than the original Designer, therefore, there must be a Designer of the Designer's Designer. And that logic could be carried on ad infinitum.
As far as I can tell, the only way Comfort can avoid this infinite regress is by qualifying the Designer as self-sufficient and in no need of a Designer apart from himself. I propose, then, that a better definition for an atheist would be someone who believes that the universe is a self-sufficient designer that has no need of a Designer apart from itself. But the difference between an atheist and Comfort, is that the atheist can actually admit she doesn't know for certain.
(posted ex nihilo by) Philosobot