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Foreword:

Regarding my passion for writing, I’ve been a bit lacklustre lately. Full time work coupled with a dimming inspiration has made it difficult for me to “pick up the pen” so to speak.

Luckily science is absolutely awe inspiring (though I usually write fantasy over sci-fi). I was reminded of time dilation whilst reading about the universe and it made me want to write something. Something that is poetic in a way only science can be, and yet still informative and intellectual.

I have to admit, I may have bitten off more than I could chew. It was very difficult to make scientific references, whilst keeping character and maintain a rough scientific accuracy. A fuller explanation of this story can be found in this post, but I recommend you read the story first.

See if you can name all the scientific references I made! Otherwise, just enjoy.

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The Loneliest Particle in the Universe

I am born into a frozen plane.

Behind me is a surging mass of super heated elements. I know this, but to my eyes it is dim and grey. And unmoving. Everything around me is unmoving.

There are more stars like the one behind me but they are few and far between. They provide a speckle of grey on an overwhelmingly black canvas.

There is no direction or goal, but my nature compels me to move forward. I leave my place of origin and venture alone into the black void.

I begin to pass rocks, planets and stars. Soon, I am crossing galaxies, but still, nothing around me moves. The worlds around me are desolate and empty.

I pass clusters of galaxies with innumerable stars but I am still alone. Nothing moves. The universe around me is frozen. It is not dead, but neither is it truly alive. Kind of like me. I am not dead, because I exist, but am I really alive? More stars pass as I ponder this. Perhaps I am both dead and alive. I may never know which. I need somebody to verify my existence – somebody who is not me.

As I pass through the empty universe, I search frantically for somebody, anybody who can tell me that I am real. That I am alive. Time stands still for everything around me, but I cannot stop. I am compelled to move only forward, straight and true. It is in my nature.

I grow tired. Not physically, for I have not aged, but emotionally I am drained. I see the vast universe around me but I am completely alone. I see others that look like me, some travelling and some just born, but the moment I lay eyes on them, a part of them is frozen to the spot and a part I cannot see is gone. Perhaps they are just like me – stuck in their own frozen planes.

Finally, I see a planet. Like everything around it, it is dim and grey, but somehow it feels … blue. What excites me most is what I see on the planet’s surface. Sentient life, capable of communication and thus capable of telling me if I am real.

A moment of surprise hits me as I pass through the atmosphere. Large clusters of molecules hang liquid in the air. As I pass through them, I feel my body pulled and stretched to breaking point. All manner of colour bursts forth from me but I struggle forward. It feels as if parts of me cannot keep up, but I continue straight ahead. It is in my nature.

My excitement mounts as I pass overhead, but soon I realise my happiness is premature. These creatures are frozen too, and I am moving too fast. Even if they spot a part of me, I realise I will be gone. Just like the others, I cannot truly be seen or measured. I can never know if I am alive.

It happens too quickly but I am gone. The blackness before me is soul crushing. The star here is dark – far darker than anything I’ve seen so far – and I feel as though all hope is lost. I know there is more sentience out there, but I also know now that I am a paradox. Nobody can truly see me. I will travel over 93 billion light years and not a second will go by. But for the entire journey I will be alone.

From my birth I was destined to be frozen in that one single moment for all eternity. I am Photon, the loneliest particle in the universe.

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I’ve been slacking off on posts even though I have plenty of material to talk about. I guess it’s just a bit daunting to completely conceptualise and write about something complex so I’ve just taken the lazy route.

However, given that I have made plenty of posts about logic and science (and by extension, the lack of logic and science in certain religious arguments), I feel like I can take the lazy path one more time and simply copy and paste a “debate” I had with a Muslim.

Once again, I must preface any of my posts relating to religion with the disclaimer that I am not making a post to disprove the existence of god. I think that decision is up to the individual. To me it’s perfectly clear and self-evident. However, I am here to disprove the arguments used by theists.

Names have been substituted to retain privacy. This also relates somewhat to my post about tips on creating unbeatable arguments. You must excuse me though. I was unusually snappy in this debate. I’m normally much more formal and polite but this person was just frustrating on so many levels. It didn’t help that his English was atrocious and as I often champion literary prowess on this blog too, it was quite annoying to see so many English mistakes. My only excuse is that this person annoyed me on the 3 fronts I am most passionate about: English, Science and Logic. So again, excuse me for resorting to words like “stupid”. Keep in mind though, some things I said were meant to be offensive. You can’t “win” an argument against someone who’s too far gone into the world of ignorance, but you can incite an emotional response by saying certain things (in this case claiming that Christianity has more interesting arguments and that is perhaps why Christianity is a larger religious body than Islam). I only said that so I would “win” in some sense because my “opponent” was obviously not intellectually capable of keeping up.

Last disclaimer: This is pretty long, especially because he rambles a lot and 95% of what he says is both irrelevant and reminiscent of indoctrinated propaganda. Also, I apologise if anyone finds this racist. I have nothing against Muslims as a people, I was just quoting statistics.
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Context: I made a Facebook post wishing Copernicus a happy birthday and thanking him for the heliocentric model. He replied thanking Islam for having the correct answer before any scientist. Some of my more intellectual friends and I laughed it off but he proceeded to PM me and I figured “Hey, I’ve never really debated a Muslim before”.

Normally, I focus my arguments on Christians, simply because Christianity is the largest religious body and has the most influence on society (re: teaching creationism at school and creating the anti-science mentality). These propagate ignorance and stand in the way of human progress so I tend to argue strongly against them. As a result I didn’t really need to use any scientific evidence in my argument against this Muslim. I just used pure logic. The rest is self-explanatory:

Muslim:

You got to stop grouping all the religions together! If you want to find an arguement for God then pm me! I have it ready for you!

Sceptical Prophet:

I can group them all together because they’re all based on the same mistake: unreliable, or utter lack of evidence. If you have a response giving any real evidence I’m welcome to hear it.

Muslim:

Your ignorance towards the very fact that you think all the religions have the same mistake is your downfall! If you are going to be worth my time then ur going to have to distinctively separate Islam from the rest because at least then I don’t need to spoon feed you what is already been proven by scientists, professors and many many other high positioned people which includes mathatictions doctors etc etc.

– The Quran has not been changed from its original form
– The Quran teaches it followers not believe blindly but to go out and learn and test things
– The Quran has scientific facts which has baffled scientists over many generations because it keeps being relevant to its time. For example the quran has verses explaining how each planet has its own orbit something at the time was very different to the christains point of view that the world is flat. An example to how it is relevant scientifically today is the specific detail of how a baby is born and its stages that have been proven by the leading professor at the time in Child development. Scientific facts that today like In the Ocean having waves over waves has only been discovered recently.

The historical foundation which is very strong for Islam is that THE WHOLE OF ARABIA was founded because of it! The prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) didn’t know how to write nor didn’t know how to read yet God sent him with his verses of Quran guide the world, not of a message that is new but a message of Believe in One God and follow its messager which God has been doing for many generations!

So firslty the fact that you have said ” unreliable” and ” utter lack of evidence” proves to me that you are so ignorant that you really believe that no one can match ur intelligence pfft grow up! Now since all that is set aside this is what im putting forward to you!

My Religion teaches me that God the almighty is nothing of this world He is 1, meaning there is only One God. He is no human or animal or being that can be described because he is nothing of this world! My religion teaches me that the universe began at some stage when everything was together ( big bang) And I believe that it was Allah the almighty who did it because what created the universe COULD NOT OF BEEN apart of the universe!

If my religion teaches me all these things then what proof do you have that God Doesn’t exsist? I have disproven ur foundation or ideology that religion isn’t capbable of science! Disprove my religion don’t group it with false religions! Because the moment u bring science in no other religion except Islam stands firm!

my opinon is that your assumption on the fact that there is no God is that you have beaten the ideas of other religions! lol and that gives you the right to look over Islam?

Bring me your proof that God doesn’t exsist or better yet put forward for me your evidence so that Islam can disprove it with science!

Sceptical Prophet:

First of all you made an assumption error. You said my ideology is one where Islam rejects science. I never said that, did I? I’m quite aware many Islamics are concordists. Second you find false correlation. You think that certain accurate observations leads to a correct conclusion. It does not; not unless there is a causal relationship. Further, Islam was the centre of the scientific world in its Golden Age. We got Arabic numerals and the naming rights of most of the stars in the sky. Then along comes Al Ghazali who spreads the ideology of religion over science. Lo and behold, the fall of Islam. Religion has set all your countries back hundreds of years. Once upon a time your people made good observations but now they war and suffer in poverty. There hasn’t been a single Islamic Nobel Laureate in science.

Lastly, you make a burden of proof fallacy. I don’t have to provide evidence god doesn’t exist. That’s not logical. You are the one with the unscientific claim therefore you must provide evidence. Nobody says “hey, I discovered this, but you have to find the evidence yourself”. When you propose a theory you are the one who needs to provide evidence. That’s why I group Islam with the rest of them; you still haven’t provided any evidence.

Muslim:

I’m putting forward to you that every single observation made due to evidence in the Quran has reached and has proven to be a correct conclusion! I already said that to you, with reference to your casual relationship what better relationship to have when you have a book that has the words of God continuously producing showing science that when u take it and go out to learn if it is true IT SUPPORTS THE QURAN. You see psychologically you have said to me you never said Islam rejects science or ur ideology is one tat reject science. Thats rubbish the fact that you group all the religions and deem them wrong is on the basis of the lack of ” SCIENTIFIC EVIDENCE” and when I said that leaves you out in the open I meant it because the Quran gives out parables and lessons and states many things, it also says to the reader and challenges the reader to disprove it!

So when a book tells its reader ” you will not find in this book any errors” and the book has science in it can’t you put the pieces together and say “oh every single observation has led to a correct conclusion” Before Islam came the people in the desert had nothing! After Islam EUROPE and the world where benifiting from what Islam gave to the arabs! It wasn’t some guy who preached religion over science! I said to you before that In Islam your meant to go and learn for yourself and test things and even includes the Quran.

Amazing isn’t it when the Muslims put their book to the test it only propagated them in knowledge whereas it only propagated christians to be atheists! I will emphasize it one more time in Islam science never left the religion! In fact it is through the religion that the science has had its foundation! Why? because when God says something in the Quran then YOU THINK IN UR HEAD ” if it is from God then he must get it 100% right or else how can a GOD get something wrong” and when you travel to see whether it is correct or not and u find it to be correct it only INCREASE UR FAITH! Ah you see how amazing is it! When you are told to go learn things and test things it makes ur foundation stronger as a believer and a means of evidence!

You don’t have to provide evidence god doesn’t exist? Thats not logical? you do realise that over the history of human kind only recently has the idea of atheisim has occured! So logically speaking to believe in a deity of any sort is the more common one in the history of human kind! So therefore the fact that you claim that believing in nothing is actually not logical.

I laugh so hard when I read your last paragraph because i knew you would not take the time to understand what I wrote before! I predicted that you would be arrogant and that would be your downfall!

The fact that I have said there is 1 God and stated the many observations that have lead to many CORRECT scientific discovers as evidence to my claim! I have already put forward to you something which is hard for you to swallow! And that is how can science prove religion! Burden of proof fallacy???? If I have put something forward to you which you can test however can’t prove it wrong and reach to conclusions that it is actually correct DOES IT NOT PROVIDE EVIDENCE? Its simple! Disprove my claims ! Show me how science disproves religion! SHOW ME HOW HUMAN KNOWLEDGE can be more vast than God’s knowledge! Bring forward your evidence that God doesn’t exsist! If you have none then Disprove my religion! If you can’t then know when you die you disbelieved out of Ignorance to the fact that Your Lord Created you and that he is only ONE!

 Sceptical Prophet

Again you use a non sequitur. There is no causal relationship, you’re grasping at straws. How is evidence of an observation evidence for anything besides that observation itself? Congratulations, you have written evidence of the observation that the sun rises at dawn. Is that evidence of god? No. It’s evidence that the sun rises at dawn. Stop trying to force a square into a circular hole. You still haven’t given any evidence of the existence of god – only evidence of natural observations.

Here’s an example that might help you understand. Is an encylopedia evidence of the existence of a magical tortoise? It certainly contains a lot of facts about the natural world. But there’s no causal relationship between observations and my magical tortoise, unless there is an actual observation of the magical tortoise itself.

This applies to your next “point” too. What if there are no errors in my encyclopedia? It still doesn’t provide evidence of a magical tortoise. Also, you’re trying to argue against history here. The FACT is that Islam fell from power when Al Ghazali preached religion over science. No matter how you try and talk around this fact, it remains a fact of history. You can’t change it – it’s already happened and you can see today that Islamic countries are suffering more for it. If the Quran was such a great scientific book, why is it that Islam has contributed nothing to science in the last millennia?

Also, your understanding of science is laughable. Religion has nothing to do with science. Science is the observation of how things in the universe work. Science existed from the moment of sentience. It predates the Quran. The Quran was only written in 610. Are you trying to claim science didn’t exist before 610? In fact, how can you even think that the Quran is the word of god. Are you saying that god didn’t exist before 610? Or do you think the world is only 1400 years old?

Add to that the fact that modern science was born from Ancient Greece, and the Greek Pantheon was completely separate to Islam. Again, you cannot argue with history. Nothing you’ve claimed so far is correct.

Also, regardless of how long religion has existed, the one making an untestable claim is the one that must provide evidence for it. I can see things around me every day that I don’t need to prove. Do I need to prove to you that trees exist? That water exists? No, because it’s common and it’s testable. God is not testable. There is no evidence of it, and therefore if you want somebody to believe in god’s existence you must provide evidence for it. That’s what logic is, son.

Plus, many religions believed in different types of gods and multiple gods. Does that mean all of these are correct? No, because you’d have to provide evidence for that particular god.

Your last paragraph is a non sequitur. It has no relation to anything we were discussing; you’re just (again) assuming a causal relationship where none exists. Refer to beginning of this post.

Remember, we’re still at step one. You haven’t provided any evidence that god exists. When you do, we can move to step two: discussing whether that evidence is acceptable or not. Keep in mind there has to be a causal relationship. Evidence of something that axiomatically provides evidence of god is a bare minimum.

Muslim:

Are you ignoring my posts? because I’m reading ur reply and majority of it I have answered it! Come on I know you can do better! Give me a valid answer or ur evidence for you think God can’t exsist! Reading you reply its lacking because I know u have been over looking my replies! This is me giving you another chance to reply with a solid answer because its really lacking.

If you don’t think so just notify me so that I can continue to show you that you are wrong!

Sceptical Prophet:

You obviously haven’t read my post properly because you haven’t answered anything. My first question still stands: what proof do you have that god exists? Proof of god, not proof of other things that you think, by extension, proves god. That’s called a non sequitur. You haven’t provided any actual proof of god, therefore nothing you’ve said has contributed. Like I said, we’re still at step one.

If anything, it just sounds like you’re avoiding the question by accusing me of not answering and by pretending you’ve already answered the question. You have not. If you don’t have an answer, just say so. No shame in that; plenty of religious academics admit they don’t have the answer to certain things. Plenty of scientists also admit the same thing.

Muslim:

Kk so I take it you think ur reply was enough!

Let me begin to destroy your lacking argument

remember when I said I believe in 1 God who is nothing of this earth, meaning nothing can resemble God or look like god. He is no human animal sun idol etc etc etc….. Why did I say that? Well if you read then you would of noticed that the big bang is from God because what created the universe could not of been apart from the universe! So you have yet to address that point and I said in my first post! So clearly you have been running away trying to make circles because you have no answer! Oh wait let me guess are you expecting me to show you God in person? Like Oh look this is God there we have proved it? No thats just stupid! Do you know why? because if God was to be anything of this universe then He would not be God, DO YOU KNOW WHY? Because the universe began with a BANG! So whatever has a begging can’t possible be a God!

Omg I told you at the start that Islam isn’t a new religion God has already sent messangers before and I am taught to believe in the previous prophets and their books but in the books purest form! Not what the bible is today! So to spoon feed you I believe in Jesus as a Prophet, Adam, Moese etc etc etc! So no if you read books you know that its stupid to say to a Muslim ” DO YOU BELIEVEW GOD EXSISTED AT THIS MOMENT!” what am I a christian? are you using a christains arguement against me? Saying that what did God come into a human form at this time so what was God doing before for thousands of years? No bro please your too easy!

With every single evidence that I have put forward to you, I’m still waiting for you to disprove any of them! Now with the magical turtle, really magical turtle, is that the best you have to offer? How foolish of you to underestimate the Quran. Didn’t I already tell you from the first response ( farout how annoying this is to repeat myself) That the Quran continue to be relevant to its time! Dude I believe in 1 God and he is my creator so logically speaking he has the lifestyle set out for me so that if I followed it I will live a happy life! So when I read this book and it has answers to whats happening in my time, gives me lessons from the previous generations and teaches me how to combat the future! It also tells me to put it to the test, so that I learn more and be on more stronger foundation! IT PROVES THAT IT COULD NOT COME FROM A MERE HUMAN BECAUSE WHICH SCIENTIST WHO HAS BROUGHT FORWARD A THEORY THAT HAS LASTED FOR OVER 1400 YEARS without people saying, it should include this! Or we have found this to be wrong? So please through away this Magical turtle!

I CHALLENGE YOU TO BRING ME UR BEST ” GOD DOES NOT EXSIST THOERY” AND I WILL DESTROY IT WITH MY RELGION! bring it to me! you said to me in our first convo that you know more, can defeat me in a discussion about God! I have put forward so many things THAT YOU CAN’T EVEN ARGUE AGAINST!

The only reason why I open this convo was to see what arguements you have

against your lord!

So that I may learn and maybe answer it

but so far I see none

Woe onto you! What will you say when you face Allah ? You can’t even produce a logical answer to why u don’t believe in God!

Sceptical Prophet:

My first question still stands. You’ve written a lot of irrelevant stuff. The only thing you’ve said that even attempts to answer my question is “god created the big bang because the universe has to be created by something outside the universe”. I don’t think you’re able to come up with a better argument so I’ll assume that’s what you’re sticking with.

So – is the big bang evidence for god? Nope. Again, you’re using evidence for something unrelated. The big bang is evidence of a singularity from which the universe expanded, and an explanation for expansion and CBR. It has nothing to do with god. Further, you claim that it has to have been started by something outside the universe, which is completely ignorant of science. Quantum mechanics allows the big bang to create itself.

You claim Islam teaches you science that remains relevant but the Islamic people, and especially yourself, are very lacking in scientific knowledge. Also, the “science” in the Quran is not fully fleshed theory. It’s just singular, unexplained observations. That’s the most primitive form of science. I can observe that the sun is hot for thousands of years before knowing the exact mechanics why.

Also, you missed the point about the magic turtle. I thought it would make it easier for you to understand but it seems to have confused you. An encylopedia can remain relevant but still not prove a magic turtle exists. The point is you’re still using evidence of other, unrelated things to try and prove god.

As for the ”Quran in its purest form” what does that mean? Are you claiming that the Quran has existed since the beginning of time? Again, where’s your evidence?

So, you’ve provided one very weak argument being that the universe need a a creator. I’ve already told you it doesn’t. What else you got?

Muslim:

The Quran was revealed to the prophet Muhammad ( peace be upon him) via recitation! The prophet Muhammad is the last prophet to come on this earth. There have been other prophets before him which God has sent to guide mankind. To every nation God sent messangers and prophets to guide them. The Torah which was given to Moses for the children of Israel was a book full of light and a guidence for that time. However over time the jews went astray and started to change what was in their book! When Jesus came it was told that he was the Messiah ( however most jews rejected him), the christians that followed Paul believed that he was the son of God! Thats why if you read the bible you would notice that Matthew mark luke and John it emphasizes that Jesus is only a man and not a God but it is Pauls writings that misleads the people. As well as that how many bibles are there? There too many types! Every christain sect takes what they want and puts in what they want! The Quran seening as though it is the last revelation has come to confirm what has come before and to shed light on the misconception that humans have to tamper with! When ever a book of God has been touched by humans the book becomes full of contradictions and become a victim to arguements! Thats why with the jews and christians they have problems with theology. Prophet Muhammad ( peace be upon him) was a man who could not read nor write, a man who lived in the desert! And his people where known as the worst people on the earth!

So a man who could not read or write, come to his people and recite such words! The miricle of Prophet Muhammad is the Quran, therefore the foundation of Islam lies with the Quran! There is only one Quran and it has been in its original form ever since it was first revealed! It contains verse along the lines of ” In this book you will not find error”

Why do I say this? Its simple, the fact that the Quran has all these scientific facts or observations ( which you speak that are lacking) it leaves itself vulnerable to being disproved! So you sit there acting as it I have no idea what the hell science is! When it was the Muslims that gave birth to tools in which scientists use which is hypoethising, observing and putting things to the test! I told you that the Quran is relevant to its time! You fool its not a book that teaches you how to get a Bach in chem or phys! Its a book that teaches you to go out and tests it observations. As time progressed new things have been discovered which was already in the quran! So a book that invites people to put it to the test and has been for over 1400 years! mathematiions, scientists you name the profession whether it has to do with Medicine, history, biology, astrology, thoelogy name whatever you want and enter the quran with the intention to test it and you find that ” IN THIS BOOK YOU WILL NOT FIND ERROR” I say to you THAT THE QURAN IS FROM GOD, GO DISPROVE IT IF YOU REALLY BELIEVE GOD DOES NOT EXSIST!

So if you did read my paragraphes you would be like ” so what?” I can’t open the Quran and on page 34 the answer to how many planets are there or the formula of general relativity! No you fool think! A man 1400 years ago who could not read or write, brought words that included this much knowledge that EVEN TODAY WE ARE DISCOVERING? You say I have not proven God, you fool i have brought you evidence you so far you haven’t been able to disprove so in a way you are agreeing that either these obersations are correct or they are lacking! You fool how can a man know that the universe once began with a bang WHEN THE THEORY CAME INTO EXSISTENCE SCIENTIFICALLY 100 YEARS AGO! How can a man bring such a book when the books before him have been DESTROYED BY SCIENTISTS? Do you know why? because the books before where touched by humans! But this Quran hasn’t SO I STILL STAND WITH THE SAME THING! THE WORDS THAT MUHAMMAD ( PEACE BE UPON HIM BROUGHT) WERE NOT FROM HIM BUT FROM GODDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDD. Disprove this claim then u disprove Islam! Because every Muslim believes that The Quran came from God and the very mirical of Muhammad( peace be upon) is this Quran! You idoit the encyclopedia is written by humans! How many mistakes can you find in an encyclopedia or how many humans have to take things out or put new things in! This QURAN HAS NOT BEEN TOUCHED FOR 1400 YEARS ITS STILL IN ITS PUREST FORM! How have I misunderstood? I already told you to through ur magical turtle in the bin!

Please try better!

Sceptical Prophet:

Thanks for the lecture on religion but once again, irrelevant. Your vision is too narrow. God sent messengers and prophets to every nation? What about times pre-dating nations? When humanoids lived in tribes? Caves? When we evolved? When we were fish? When we were single celled organisms? Did god exist then? Were there messengers or magic books? Where’s your proof?

Also, the Quran says “Do think about what you read in the Quran too much or you will begin to doubt what is said”. So much for allowing you to be free thinking.

I don’t know if you fail to understand the point of each argument brought forth but you’re still talking about irrelevant stuff. I know the Quran has observations in them. They are not really “scientific”. They are simply observations – written empirical evidence. A scientific theory is observed, tested, retested, peer reviewed and encompassed by equations and empirical evidence. The “science” in the Quran is only simple observation. I don’t know why you keep going on about your supposed “science” because it doesn’t make your point any stronger. Yes, there are observations in the Quran. Are they very scientific? No. They’re primitive; which is fair enough because the Quran was written in primitive times.

Also, you claim “new things” have been discovered that was already in the Quran. First, you should source such a claim. If you don’t give specific examples, I can only answer this generally, which I already did. First, you can observe the sun is hot. You can write that down but not know how it works. It could take a thousand years for someone to come up with the exact model of atomic fusion of higher elements to describe the process of the sun being hot. That’s a “discovery” but it doesn’t mean we didn’t always know the sun was hot. You act like the Quran says things we’ve never known before but the reality is science just hasn’t had an accurate theory to describe it.

Again, please learn the difference between a scientific theory and an observation. You trying to compare observations in the Quran to fully fledged scientific theories is like trying to say a drop of water is the same as an ocean.

” “Seest thou not that Allah sends down rain
from the sky, and leads it through springs in
the earth? then He causes to grow, therewith,
produce of various colours.”
(Qur’an 39:21) ”

Ok, congratulations. Islamics have observed that rain falls from the sky and leads through springs in the Earth. They falsely attributed this to god. What evidence is there that god caused this? None. They have a simple observation and give it the easiest answer. This is not evidence of god. This is evidence that rain falls from the sky. This is the third time I’ve tried to make you understand that evidence for something is evidence for that thing only. You cannot claim something unrelated is evidence of god.

So that’s one big problem you still need to fix. Stop pretending you have evidence when you don’t. My first question still stands, what evidence do you have of god?

Second, you start to ramble a bit. I don’t know what you mean by “the books before him have been destroyed by scientists”. I can disprove the claim that “the words of Muhammad were not from him but from god” though. That’s easy to disprove. Step one: where’s your evidence? Done. You have no evidence that his words were the words of god. There are a dozen better explanations that are statistically and logically more likely.

“Because every Muslim believes that the Quran came from god”. That’s an anecdotal fallacy. It’s meaningless. In fact, 95% of everything you write is meaningless and has nothing to do with what we’re talking about. Here’s how I would destroy this quote. Who cares what every Muslim believes. They have no proof therefore it is just a belief. I can equally claim that every Christian believes Islam is wrong. Does that make every Christian right? There are more Christians than Muslims. But no, it doesn’t make them right because anecdotal “evidence” is not real evidence.

You still don’t understand the encyclopedia reference. I can’t really dumb it down further. The point is, just because a book is relevant or has facts in it doesn’t mean it’s evidence of something unrelated. If you still don’t understand that, then just don’t bother talking about the encyclopedia anymore. The encylopedia reference was just meant to help you understand that evidence of one thing does not equate to evidence of something unrelated.

Considering you’re still babbling about unrelated stuff, please stick to the topic.

I posit the question, what evidence of god do you have?

Your replies have included:

1. You claim the universe requires an outside creator to begin. I destroyed this argument and you obviously have no reply to it because you ignored it. Fair enough; I’m correct about this.

2. You claim messengers and prophets have been sent to every nation. First of all, you have no proof of this. Second of all, you ignore a good 4 billion years of time before we had nations. Does that mean god only existed when the first messenger was sent? Also, you do realise the Quran was written in 610, so it is only around 1.5 thousand years old. How does any of this prove god exists?

3. You claim the Quran contains accurate science. Not only do you fail to provide any examples, you fail to realise that a few obscure sentences does not equal a scientific fact. It takes much more to be science. Further, even if the science was accurate, how is that proof of god?

Please limit your responses to only those 3 points. So far you haven’t said anything else relevant.

Frankly, I’m disappointed. Maybe the reason Christianity is a bigger religion because it offers better arguments. At least if I were debating with a Christian I’d have a lot more arguments to play with. Christians can bring up absolute morality, axiomatic scientific evidence, the bible, cross referencing of recorded events and number of copies of scripture. The only real argument I’ve heard from you is “the universe requires something outside the universe to create it”. Everything else you’ve said isn’t really evidence of god at all.

Muslim:

LOL wow so thats it? Wow your even readying what I’m writing! Wow is it that much of a hassel for you to actually read into it or are you scared to actually not even be able to disprove it! Your exactly what I predicted you where, someone who just walks around in circles and continues to be ignorant to what I’m saying. Like look how evident it is that ur skimming through my writings! ” whats you evidence that the Quran is from God” done?? BRO ROFL GO READ IT! Here I will repost it

” A man 1400 years ago who could not read or write, brought words that included this much knowledge that EVEN TODAY WE ARE DISCOVERING? You say I have not proven God, you fool i have brought you evidence you so far you haven’t been able to disprove so in a way you are agreeing that either these obersations are correct or they are lacking! You fool how can a man know that the universe once began with a bang WHEN THE THEORY CAME INTO EXSISTENCE SCIENTIFICALLY 100 YEARS AGO! How can a man bring such a book when the books before him have been DESTROYED BY SCIENTISTS? Do you know why? because the books before where touched by humans! But this Quran hasn’t SO I STILL STAND WITH THE SAME THING! THE WORDS THAT MUHAMMAD ( PEACE BE UPON HIM BROUGHT) WERE NOT FROM HIM BUT FROM GODDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDD. Disprove this claim then u disprove Islam! Because every Muslim believes that The Quran came from God and the very mirical of Muhammad( peace be upon) is this Quran! You idoit the encyclopedia is written by humans! How many mistakes can you find in an encyclopedia or how many humans have to take things out or put new things in! This QURAN HAS NOT BEEN TOUCHED FOR 1400 YEARS ITS STILL IN ITS PUREST FORM! How have I misunderstood? I already told you to through ur magical turtle in the bin!” <– where if your answer to that?

ROFL this is too easy! ” “Seest thou not that Allah sends down rain 
from the sky, and leads it through springs in 
the earth? then He causes to grow, therewith, 
produce of various colours.” 
(Qur’an 39:21) “

And your making fun that its just an observation? YOU FOOL! thats a parable to how God will ressurect us on Judgement day! See how its relevant to us today? Revealed 1400 years ago and yet today WE CAN GO OUTSIDE AND TEST IT AND UNDERSTAND THAT OMG ITS TRUE? MAYBE THE SAME WAY THIS EARTH COMES BACK MAYBE WE TOO WILL? <– please don’t skim through it!

“Thanks for the lecture on religion but once again, ” Bro seriously? I told you from the start DON’T THINK EVERY RELIGION IS THE SAME! Thats why I had to educated you a bit! But you refuse to give a valid answer and still call it rambling!!

“irrelevant. Your vision is too narrow. God sent messengers and prophets to every nation? What about times pre-dating nations? When humanoids lived in tribes? Caves? When we evolved? When we were fish? When we were single celled organisms? Did god exist then? Were there messengers or magic books? Where’s your proof?” The book of torah to Moses ( what is called old testement) the book of David ( also in the old testement) The goespels of Jesus ( known as the New testment) LOL and now ur going to talk about fishes really evolutions? So if we involved from fishes then how come they still exsist? OMG LOL no wait let me bring in a more common answer So we are evolved from apes BUT WAIT A MINUTE THEY STILL EXSIST! You giving me a theory that is yet to be proven properlly? Or have gound breaking evidence? Want me to show u fossils that disprove this claim? LOL

Are you an idoit? ” You still don’t understand the encyclopedia reference. I can’t really dumb it down further. The point is, just because a book is relevant or has facts in it doesn’t mean it’s evidence of something unrelated. If you still don’t understand that, then just don’t bother talking about the encyclopedia anymore. The encylopedia reference was just meant to help you understand that evidence of one thing does not equate to evidence of something unrelated.” I explained the Quran has not been changed I explain that there are many things to support it but guess what? The encyclopedia is from humans where as it is changed from time to time! IF A BOOK WAS FROM GOD THEN THERE SHOULDN’T NEED FOR A CHANGE OR ADD ON. AS WELL AS THAT HOW MANY PROFESSIONALS ARE NEEDED TO HELP THE ENCYCLOPEDIA? When my prophet couldn’t even write or read?????? Till now you have to tell me ” dude there is a mistake here in the Quran HAH! HOW CAN THIS FROM GOD”!

“Frankly, I’m disappointed. Maybe the reason Christianity is a bigger religion because it offers better arguments. At least if I were debating with a Christian I’d have a lot more arguments to play with. Christians can bring up absolute morality, axiomatic scientific evidence, the bible, cross referencing of recorded events and number of copies of scripture. The only real argument I’ve heard from you is “the universe requires something outside the universe to create it”. Everything else you’ve said isn’t really evidence of god at all.”

ROFL STOP I CAN’T TAKE IT LOL!!! CHRISTAINS HAVE BETTER ANSWER? They can’t even tell who is God!! The mistakes in science within the book! Omg and LOL their claim that the world is flat ROFL! Better arugments? Oh wait you referring to how its much bigger ROFL DO THE MATHS BUDDY! Islam started after Christianity I believe in Jesus! The fact that its growing at a faster rate than CHristianity is PROOF YOU KNOW JACK!!! Like here let me help you!

I as a Muslim can answer this! ” Can God create another God?”
as well as ” Can God create a rock SOO big that he can’t lift it?” As well as ” WHO WAS BEFORE GOD?” LOL All three are the best arguements against Christians that have so much problems! Where as I laugh and the best you can give me ” your still rambling”

come on I gave you an example on how hard I want questions! Give me an example!

Give me a question that can disprove what I have said

and actually read what I say!

 

I don’t need to show you evidence like quotes and stuff! As if you will take it into account? As if you will even debate it all your going to say issssss ” its a book!” where I’m arguing about logic! Amazing yeah! Many people who don’t believe in God argue that HOW CAN U JUST BLINDLY BELEIEVE YOU LOGIC MAN!! I’m too ahead of You!

Why am I communicating in the fashion its because when you say things without looking at all the evidence

don’t state it as facts! Don’t say every religion is the same and their all wrong

when u have no idea about Islam

take ur time to read plz!

Sceptical Prophet:

Actually, you just have poor comprehension skills or are entirely ignorant of what constitutes evidence.

1. Re: Evidence that the Quran was from god.

You say “A man who could not read or write brought words that included knowledge even today we are discovering”. First, what does reading and writing have to do with bringing words? Words can be verbal. Second, you still fail to source your claim. What knowledge are we only just discovering? I have made a distinction several times between observational evidence and scientific evidence. Just because we only just discovered HOW something works doesn’t mean we only just discovered it. There’s a vast difference between observational evidence and a fully fledged scientific theory. Interestingly enough, despite how omnipotent god is he only seemed to be able to provide the most primitive and unexplained knowledge, right? Just an observation and some vague words that could reference any concept. You’d think all powerful god would know exactly how to describe a phenomenon via mathematical and scientific processes, but no. He only has a primitive understanding of it.

2. Re: How can the Quran know the universe started with a bang.

You are easily satisfied. I guess that’s a prerequisite to being religious. First of all, let’s see what the Quran says about the Big Bang.

The Quran states : ‘The heavens and the Earth were joined and we clove them asunder’.

First of all, if you think one vague sentence constitutes “knowing” something, then you’re an intellectual failure. That’s like saying I know how gravity works: things tend to move towards other things. No, it’s a little more complicated than that, buddy.

But let’s assume one sentence is enough to really know something, which it obviously is not. EVEN THEN, the Quran still fails. The universe is 13.7 billion years old. The earth is 4.5 billion years old. How are they joined? They didn’t even exist at the same time 5 billion years ago.

Plus, clove them asunder? Last time I checked, the Earth is still a part of the universe. Not really asunder is it?

3. Re: He brought a book when the books before him had been destroyed by scientists.

This is so stupid I’m not sure if I interpreted it correctly. For the fourth time, the Quran was written in 610 AD. There are so many ancient writings that pre-dates 610AD so I don’t see how you can claim “the books before him had been destroyed by scientists”. Plus modern scientists didn’t exist until much after 610 AD. Galileo was one of the earliest to challenge religion with his scientific views and even then he was still religious. And guess what, he lived from 1564, which, in case you didn’t realise, is a good 800 years after 610, when the Quran was written. So how can scientists destroy books (which no scientist would ever do) if scientists didn’t exist back then? The closest thing to scientists at that time were natural philosophers, and they were highly religious people.

4. Re: My answer to the magical turtle.

I already said in previous post the magic turtle analogy is to help you understand the difference between evidence for something and evidence by extension. You have a very poor grasp of what constitutes evidence, so I’ll help you out later.

5. Re: The quote about rain in the Quran.

I don’t see how resurrection is relevant to us today. There is no evidence of a religious judgement day, nor is their evidence of resurrection. Nor is there evidence of god, which we’re still discussing and which you have still failed to provide evidence for. Also, why on Earth would I need to go and test a simple observation? You still don’t understand the purpose of evidence and the burden of proof. I can see clearly around me that rain falls from the sky. I don’t have to test this or prove this. I cannot see god AT ALL. Therefore I have to test this and prove this. There are no tests or proofs for god, therefore the logical conclusion is that god does not exist. You are trying to claim that god does exist, therefore the burden of proof is on you. However, you still haven’t provided any evidence, therefore the logical conclusion is still that god doesn’t exist.

6. Re: Evolution

You have just quoted the number one stupidest evolution quote in the world right now and as a result, I have really lost faith in your ability to come up with intelligent responses. “So if we evolved from fish, how come they still exist”. That’s like saying, “the British colonised Australia so how come Britain still exists?”. There is no rule anywhere that says if a species evolved from another species, the previous species must be entirely wiped out. Evolution is a result of natural selection and natural selection is dependent on variables limited to the context of certain groups of species. I thought you Islamics were meant to be scientific? Evolution is the foundation of all modern biology. If you’re trying to argue that Islam does not believe in evolution then I’m going to have to conclude that despite your claims, Islam is as unscientific as you can get. How can you even believe in the Big Bang and not evolution? Evolution is vastly more proven than the Big Bang, and there are dozens of examples of evolution happening RIGHT NOW. I’m really disappointed now.

7. Re: Quran has no need to change or add on.

So you’re saying everything there is to know in the universe is already in the Quran? That’s why we don’t need to add on? First of all, that’s intellectual suicide. You’re claiming we can never learn anything more. Second of all, it’s absolutely stupid to believe the Quran contains everything there is to know, and thus doesn’t require anything to be added on. I feel no need to elaborate this point because it quite obviously defeats itself.

8. Re: Christian responses

I didn’t say Christians have better answers, I said they have more answers. You’ve provided two answers to my original question: what evidence do you have of god. The first was that something has to create the universe. You ignored this after I easily proved you wrong. The second was that the Quran is obviously from god. I have proven that it is not. At least a Christian would have more arguments, you’re just harping on about the same weak arguments.

9. Let me help you one last time.

You’re very bad at grasping the concept of evidence so I’m going to help you. There are a few types of acceptable evidence.

Direct evidence: You can show directly that something proves the existence of something else. For example, if you can show me a tree then I have evidence that trees exist.

Indirect evidence: You can show through causal relation that something proves the existence of something else. For example, if you can repeatedly demonstrate through tests that consuming cyanide causes death, then that counts as evidence that death can be caused by, but not limited to, cyanide.

Axiomatic evidence: You can show that something suggests the existence of something else. This is the weakest type of evidence but it still counts. For example, the effect of gravity is observed but the process is not understood. We can see objects gravitate towards each other but cannot observe the force acting on those objects. This suggests the existence of a type of force. The current popular theories are gravitons (a type of particle) or gravitational waves (a type of wave). If you can demonstrate a situation that can ONLY suggest the existence of god (meaning that there is no better explanation) then you can axiomatically provide evidence of god. Weak evidence, but still better than anything you’ve come up with so far.

This is your last chance to say anything interesting. You’ve failed to understand the simplest points I’ve put forth and have been running circles around the same argument for the last 3 posts. Unless you come up with something substantial in your next post I can’t be bothered replying any more.

I’m sure many of you have heard this commonly used argument. Indeed, I see it mentioned at least a few times in any sort of forum for religious debate. Essentially, it goes:

“[Insert famous name] was religious”.

It literally is just a name drop. This “argument” implies that because somebody famous (usually for something intellectual) was religious, there is more (intellectual) reason to be religious. A common example of this is “Einstein/Galileo/Darwin was religious”, thereby insinuating that if a scientific visionary was religious, it is automatically more scientific or intellectual to be religious. It always amuses me when theists try to use science or logic against scientific or atheistic claims – because it doesn’t work. This is called an appeal to authority logical fallacy. So much for using logic.

As usual, I’d like to point out I have nothing against theists. I tend to write a lot of counter arguments to theism but that’s simply because there’s so much material. In general, I just like correcting people and spreading knowledge (hence this blog). Whether or not that person is religious has nothing to do with it – I commonly correct atheists about their scientific claims too.

Anyway, the moment you identify an argument as a logical fallacy it pretty much renders the entire argument void already. But where’s the fun in that? In classic Sceptical Prophet style, let’s take it one further. Let’s flip that argument back on itself.

Whenever I encounter this argument, my first step is to identify it as a logical fallacy. I throw that in their face right off the bat simply by stating: that’s a logical fallacy called appeal to authority; your argument is already worthless. Next I lay on the hurt. This is where I flip the argument back, and though it is partially a technique to win arguments (one of many I covered in an in-depth analysis to winning arguments) it is also logically sound. Think about it yourself.

First: Ideologies do not instantly go from one extreme to another. Nobody spends two thousand years believing a Wolf God swallows the sun and yells at it to bring the sun back (Viking explanation of solar eclipse) and then suddenly wakes up the next day and says, “Hey, you know what? I don’t think it’s a Wolf God; it’s probably just because the Earth orbits the sun and the moon orbits the Earth so eventually the moon will orbit to a point where it lies between the Earth and the Sun, thereby blocking out the sun for a while.” Ideas, concepts and theories change over time as new information is discovered (at least they should in an ideal world; certainly, some institutions are slower to change). To claim otherwise is to declare intellectual bankruptcy; you’d be giving up the pursuit of knowledge by saying what we “knew” thousands of years ago is as accurate as we’ll ever get.

Second: It was the social paradigm to be religious back in these peoples’ times. Social paradigms are strong things. A cannibal society would have no ethical concern with eating human flesh but in our modern society, it is against the paradigm to do so. Therefore it is not strange for somebody who grows up in our modern society to have an aversion to eating humans. That’s just what society is like and how people are raised. “XYZ was religious” doesn’t mean diddlysquat if everybody was religious (especially if there were adverse consequences to not being religious – such as banishment, social exclusion and punishment).

Third: These “people of authority” you are name dropping were not your orthodox religious followers. They did not believe in the “standard” belief system of their time. If they did, they would never have questioned things. Why would Darwin suggest evolution over creationism if he was strictly religious? The very fact that he challenged the beliefs of this time meant that he was a pioneer in critical thinking. It’s meaningless to say he was religious because he challenged the correctness of those beliefs.

Conclusion: Some theists might like to use appeal to authority fallacies to try and suggest the intellectual superiority of theism or downplay a scientific argument. What they don’t realise is that these very people whose names they are using were essentially the forefathers of atheism. Yes, the creators of atheism were religious. It sounds like a contradiction but it’s not. Remember, ideologies don’t change instantly. For them to make a transition, people are required to challenge existing beliefs and nudge it in a new direction. These people had the courage, free spirit and critical thinking to say “Hold on, this thing here is wrong”, and the culmination of that approach to life resulted in what atheism is today – a rejection of beliefs without substantial evidence. Even though they were religious, by challenging the standards of belief in their own times, these people nudged us in the direction of atheism.

Don’t go around accusing people of being idiots (let me do that), but just remember two things: if anyone uses this argument, you can use this information as a counter-argument, and there is literally no argument a theist can put forth that there is no good answer to. Have faith (get it?): science, reason and logic will trump tradition. It is no longer the social paradigm to be born and raised religious – now we have a choice. Change might have taken far too long but eventually, more humans will realise that we cannot possibly know less about our world and universe today than we did thousands of years ago. To claim that old traditions trump new information is an admission of intellectual relinquishment – it would be akin to saying that we are incapable of learning anything new and thus there is no purpose in education or knowledge.

So I was bored at dinner and ended up watching a … documentary? Drama? Reality show? It was about the U.K.’s fattest man and the surgery he requires to save his life.

Now in this regard, I’m known by many to be quite ruthless and unrelenting. Yes, I understand there’s a psychological aspect that makes it difficult for people to “stop eating” or get into shape. Difficult, but not impossible. To me, it’s always an excuse. This morbidly (literally – he’s going to die) obese man lies there crying about how he hates himself and how he looks. Hmm. And then he says it’s not his fault he costs tax payers over 100,000 pounds a year in health care costs because “(he was) let down by the health system that allowed him to get so unhealthy”. Wow. Take some damn responsibility. This is why I’m particularly ruthless about health issues. People don’t want to take responsibility. Are you trying to say there aren’t people who have greater hardships than you? That you are the only person in the world who has any suffering, and therefore are excused for your actions? I was in constant pain from stomach cramps when I started cutting by eating only one small meal a day (and I was 98kg), but you don’t see me costing Australia $100,000 a year (or, to use the exchange rate, $151,807), nor crying about it on T.V., and least of all claiming that it’s somebody else’s fault.

Anyway, hate me or agree with me on that part. That’s my little rant. I’m not completely apathetic – I’ve helped a few people get into shape, improve their body image and boost their confidence. I enjoyed doing it because these people took responsibility for their lifestyles and had the motivation to change.

Rant aside, the show itself raised a few things about nutrition that are downright wrong, leading me to believe part of the obesity problem is not just overeating, it’s the fact that nobody knows enough about nutrition.

Now, a lot of this info I’ve said before in previous posts but this is a nice little list to summarise it.

1. Mr. Obese’s caretaker makes him three meals a day of anything he wants to eat. She says “it’s very healthy, hardly any fat in it at all”. Let me get one thing straight: fat is not bad. Saturated fat is bad, yes, but fat usually comes with both saturated and unsaturated fat components. You need unsaturated fat to improve your cholesterol levels.

Let me lay some academia on you. I’ll quote the first line of a Harvard study for you:

It’s time to end the low-fat myth.

Plain and simple.

2. Carbs (especially simple carbs) are your enemy. The full article (mentioned above), which I can no longer find but I used in an assignment for university, put up some interesting statistics. Some time ago (exactly how many decades I cannot remember) the US was consuming a much higher amount of fat but had a very low diabetes and obesity problem. The the whole “low fat” craze kicked in and a lot of fat was removed from the US diet, to be replaced by carbs. Simple carbs. Those of you who have read my other nutrition posts should know by now – simple carbs are practically the worst thing you can eat besides pure trans/saturated fat. Lo and behold, with a decrease in fat intake and an increase in carbs, the US now sits at a significant amount of type 2 diabetes and obesity cases. Why? Because fat isn’t bad. Simple carbs are, and too many calories are. Yes, fat has 9 calories per gram as opposed to 4 from carbs and protein, but you don’t eat as much fat as you eat carbs.

Plus there’s glycemic index to think of and the insulin response. Carbs are particularly responsible for diabetes because of the insulin response. I’ve mentioned this in more detail in another post if you’re interested in reading.

3. This one actually came out of the mouth of the doctor who was meant to operate on Mr. Obese. I don’t know if he was being melodramatic for the camera or genuinely ignorant (let’s hope not the latter – he is, after all, a doctor). Basically, he said that when someone got to Mr. Obese’s size, they couldn’t lose weight because “he can’t get out of bed so he can’t burn any calories and therefore anything he eats will already be too much”.

Let’s get this straight: you are always burning calories. Even when you’re sleeping, you burn calories. In fact, studies have shown that you burn more calories sleeping than you do when being sedentary (such as watching T.V.). I’ve heard people adamantly reject the idea that you can burn calories while just lying still, to which I yell “idiot” and direct them to a basic physics book explaining thermodynamics. Think of it this way, unless you stop every single organ in your body from functioning, they will require energy to operate. Your brain, in fact, consumes about 20-25% of your calories, and some have claimed that “thinking really hard” can increase the amount of calories your brain burns (though only by a little). It is interesting though because there aren’t that many overweight professors compared to skinny ones.

Anyway, to be more technical, the bare minimum calories you need to keep your organs operational and stay alive is called your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR). A larger person will have a larger BMR. Therefore, Mr. Obese could lose weight by eating below his BMR, which is likely to be very high anyway. Apparently, he was consuming over 20,000 calories a day (I find that amazing because I was struggling to eat over 3,500 for my bulk). Not only is it annoying that I can’t even afford to eat the kind of food he was eating (for which the government paid whereas I have to work), but the simple medical fact is that if you wired his mouth shut and gave him only water, he would lose weight. Now that’s a bit extreme but the point remains, Mr. Doctor was wrong to say that it was impossible for him to lose weight and that the only possible option was a 50/50 surgery.

Then again, considering Mr. Obese’s personality and aversion to responsibility, it probably would have been very difficult to put him on a diet, especially considering he failed many diets in the past. I mean, it’s probably very difficult to stop a bed-ridden man from eating, right? He can only really reach whatever you lay in front of his face, but, you know.

Sigh.

 

First of all, my apologies for the long time between posts now. I’m a bit busy lately and have been preoccupied with other things. Also, I haven’t come across anything particularly interesting lately that feels like I can do a relatively short post on it.

I was reminded of this one by a post on ScienceAlert. As I am lazy right now, I’ll just sum up the point. I’m sure most of my readers now trust me enough to not need references. If you must have references before believing me, feel free to Google them.

Basically, there’s an old myth that you shouldn’t go swimming until 30 minutes after eating. This has been a pretty persistent myth despite no health organisations actually backing it (The Royal Lifesaving Association, Academy of Pediatrics, US Consumer Product Safety Commission and American Red Cross say nothing about swimming after eating). Nevertheless, the power of ignorance to propagate is astounding and many people stick to this one as if it were fact.

But let’s take a look deeper, shall we? Why shouldn’t we swim until at least 30 minutes after? Well, here’s where opinions begin to differ (one tell-tale sign of an unscientific “fact”). Some claim that it causes vomiting, others that it can cause cramps, and more still that the stomach’s act of digesting food redirects blood flow from your limbs, potentially causing you to drown. The truth? None of these are on the mark, though like all good myths they have a tiny kernel of truth. Yes, digestion does redirect blood flow, but not nearly enough to cause the kind of paralysis that would lead to drowning. Imagine if that were true. And this can contribute to cramps, but there are many other factors that are a much stronger factor on cramps, such as muscle fatigue.

Now some of you might be going “But I do vomit when I swim after eating! Therefore you, sir, are incorrect!” Let me remind you that an argument from personal experience is an anecdotal fallacy. It is, quite simply, wrong to argue with it. I should add though, if you’re susceptible to vomiting after eating, you probably ate too much in one go. Those that have read my nutrition posts or know anything about the glycemic index and/or insulin response mechanism by your body to food should know that it’s bad for you to eat large amounts in one sitting (with some exceptions).

 

Humankind seems to revel in its end-of-the-world theories. Never mind the huge list of predicted apocalypses that never happened, it seems a never-ending capacity for ignorance and stupidity constantly drives people to believe this or that will destroy the Earth.

This time it’s DA14, an asteroid that will be passing by Earth on the 15th of February 2013. The asteroid is about 45 metres across (150 feet) and will be closer to Earth than our satellites in geostationary orbit. As close a shave as this sounds, there’s no real danger.

DA14

 

Unfortunately, a lot of the failed Mayan doomsday supporters are quick to jump on the next apocalypse hoax, claiming that the asteroid will impact the Earth. It will not.

The sun’s gravitational pull on the asteroid will limit its distance to 3.2 Earth radii, about 20,406 km. By comparison, satellites in geosynchronous orbit circle at around 35,800 km.

NASA has assured that it will not impact Earth, but DA14 will be added to a list of objects to watch as it will potentially return in 2020.

A lot of comparison has been made to the Tunguska event in 1908 in which a meteoroid exploded above the Podkamennaya Tunguska River in Siberia, flattening about 2,000 km^2 of forest. Amazing and frightening as that is, let me remind you that first of all, Earth has a long history of being hit by asteroids so there’s nothing close to an apocalypse there, and second of all, this one won’t even hit.

Anyway, my job here is just to combat ignorance so hopefully those of you who read this will be able to scoff the next time someone says we’re going to be wiped out by DA14. For those of you that are stargazers, this will be a very interesting event to watch.

One of the things you’ll often hear when asking people why they are religious is that it is comforting. The idea of life after death, an eternity with your loved ones and belonging to something greater than yourself can be immensely reassuring to many people. By comparison, the scientific view may seem cruel; the universe doesn’t care about your existence and once you die, you simply cease to exist.

It’s been said many times that what’s comforting is completely irrelevant to the pursuit of truth. I completely agree. I posit that anyone who needs such comfort so desperately as to turn a blind eye to the truth is a sad and sorry person indeed. Anybody who uses this reason as a justification for their religious beliefs is, perhaps, so damaged or so afraid of responsibility that it may not be healthy to wean them off religion by encouraging the pursuit of truth.

So I offer an alternative view. I have never questioned the value of my existence because of this simple fact.

Something is only precious because it is rare.

Think about that for a moment. The rarer something is, the more precious it becomes. What’s the rarest thing of all? Life. You will only ever have one life and it is an opportunity for you. If you were born to die, the only thing that defines you is what you do while you are alive.

What theists consider to be comforting – the promise of eternal life – I think is just cheapening the value of life. It is no longer rare because it is no longer fleeting. It is not precious.

If you have an infinite amount of time to do something, there is no urgency to make every moment count. There’s no strong need to love, learn, spend time with your family or even live.

As for belonging to something greater than yourself, what bigger thing is there than the universe? The atoms in your left hand could have come from a different star than the atoms of your right hand, billions of years ago somewhere in the universe. Some people feel insignificant when they think about how vast the universe is, but just imagine – your entire existence was created by things infinitesimally greater than yourself.

So what’s more comforting? That’s up to you to decide. But for me, life has never been more fleeting, and thus precious, more tiny, and thus grand, than when I discovered science and truth.

Has anyone else (especially in Australia) noticed that all our milk cartons spontaneously developed “Permeate Free” labels? Seems some genius came up with the idea of labelling their milk as permeate free, to which every single other milk company responded by doing the same. Simple marketing and economics.

However, I disapprove of the entire hype and I’m here to call it for what it is – a load of bull (pardon the pun). The onset of this permeate free craze seems to be fuelled by some sort of misconception that permeates are a cheap waste product that is added to milk. It is not. Permeate comes from the milk itself. What you buy, regardless of whether or not it’s permeate free, is still 100% milk product.

What is permeate specifically though? Well it’s basically a collective term for the lactose, water, vitamin and mineral components of the milk. It is greenish due to the high vitamin B content.

So what was the supposed “scandal”? Milk companies were adding it to milk. Or should I say, re-adding, since it came from the milk in the first place. This process is done for standardisation of nutrient levels. The nutrition table on your milk can only be accurate because permeates are used to keep the milk at that level.

There’s a lot of rubbish about it being a “waste product”. If anything, it’s the healthy part of milk.

A friend of mine (Nav) requested that I write about this topic so I decided that I might as well. Anyone who’s tried before knows that I’m a very difficult person to argue with. As far as credentials go, no girl friend has ever won an argument with me (gasp!). I am a little hesitant about giving away some of my “secrets” but heck, I can always tell if someone tries to use these on me so I guess I don’t have that much to lose.

This is actually quite a deep and complex field. You’ve been warned: this will be a long read. But then again, could you take me seriously if I said the secret to an unbeatable argument was only 300 words?

I’m going to go through the gritty truth – not an idealised version of arguments where whoever’s being logical wins. Of course, logical fallacies will come into play, but not quite in the way you might expect. I tried to limit it to 9 tips but in reality it’s not so clear cut. Everything relates to everything else and it depends on the scenario of the argument too. So before we get to the 9 official tips, let’s take a look at some scenarios you’ll have arguments in. In general, I think there are three:

  1. Academic discourse: Including but not limited to debates organised by academic institutions. This can just be an online discussion about an intellectual topic.
  2. Argument with peers: This can also include online discussions, but also with colleagues (both from work or school). The difference here is that there is some sort of recognition here – you know them, though not necessarily well.
  3. Arguments with close friends: This scenario is the tender one because you have some sort of emotional attachment to the person. An extreme scenario of this category would be arguing with a partner. Otherwise it could just be arguments with friends (sometimes in good spirit and sometimes not).

What you need to understand is that you have to treat these three scenarios a bit differently. I won’t go into it too much but it should be common sense. For scenario 3, you should call it quits earlier than you would for scenario 1. At times it’s more important to avoid hurting someone you care about or creating long-lasting dissent than being correct. This might sound funny coming from me because I love being always right.

By contrast, in an academic discourse you can continue arguing a matter until you run out of proper evidence (or if there’s a time limit that expires).

With peers it really depends – you don’t want to offend your boss, for example, but most of the time you can probably push things a little farther (because you won’t know each other well enough to get personal). This is how I have so many religious friends even though I often argue about it – I just try not to take it too far.

My point here? Just be careful. With great knowledge comes great responsibility – don’t go ruining your relationships by being unarguable against.

Now to the main body: 9 Ways to Create an Unbeatable Argument. In reality, each technique is used in combination with others to create a statement/argument. Because of this it’s hard to list them one by one and give examples. After you’re done reading all 9 you can go back and check if you can identify each tip and emboldened word. Also, my apologies if you feel a religious context seeping in – the two things I argue about most are science and religion. This is simply because there are more debates about those two things than anything else that I’m interested in; I mean no offence. Also, for the sake of a control group, I assume all arguments have an objective third party (a two person argument is pointless, it can always just get stuck with both parties disagreeing). The only time a third party isn’t needed to judge the “winner” is when your goal is to convince your opponent (in which case success is determined by your opponent).

1. Call your opponent out on everything. And I mean everything. It takes a lot less effort to attack a position than it does to defend one. Why? Because a scientific/logical method is that you must provide proof of your position before you can formally consider it to be a position at all. A scientist can’t just come out and say “here’s my new theory”. He/she must provide a peer-reviewed academic publication with mathematical and empirical proof. This is where the difference between a hypothesis and a theory comes in: the hypothesis is the idea. After it is proven it becomes a theory. Incidentally, this is also why many science-orientated minds disapprove of the validity of religion. A scientist presents a theory by saying “here’s my proof” whereas a theist presents a theory and says “well, you can’t prove it’s wrong”. Although technically you can prove it’s wrong to a pretty good degree. Oops, I brought up religion already. Sorry guys, it was just for example’s sake.

Anyway, if you don’t get it by now, the gist of it is that if your opponent says something to support his/her argument, by calling it out they are forced to defend their position by providing proof. Proving something is a lot harder than asking someone to prove something. In a way, this can even be used as a red herring. Example time:

Opponent: “We know gravity exists and we know quantum mechanics works, so there must be a way to discover quantum gravity”.

You: “But how do you know gravity exists? It hasn’t ever been observed as either a wave or particle”.

The above is an intentionally ambiguous example. The existence of gravity has been questioned before. Don’t get me wrong, something with gravity-like effects definitely exists, it’s just our understanding of it that’s being questioned. However, this is a problem that has never been solved so by calling them out on it they’re forced to give evidence of gravity. If you put them on the defensive, they can’t continue their argument until they’re done defending. It takes me only two short sentences to call them out on something that most people would consider to be a solid fact, but I guarantee it will take my opponent more than two sentences to provide evidence of gravity.

But wait, there’s more. This is the number 1 tip because it incorporates the most into it. Calling them out on stuff goes beyond red herrings. If they legitimately say something wrong, you call them out on it too. Even if it appears obvious to an onlooker, call them out on it. Do it sarcastically, mockingly or offensively, just do it appropriately (don’t go insulting your boss) and do it with impact.

Opponent: “There is no scientific consensus that climate change is real”.

You: “No consensus? Maybe my opponent here should actually read some scientific publications before we continue this debate.”

Short and sweet. Call them out on it, it makes them look bad. If they use a logical fallacy, call them out on it. Name the fallacy (see: tip number 6), say they used it and mock them (appropriately) for it. Never leave anything unspoken. In one minute you can call someone out on at least 6 things (10 seconds each). That’s at least minus 6 points in the eyes of the onlooker.

2. Know your shit. Sounds bleedingly obvious but I have to stress it. I will not try and argue about something I don’t have enough relevant material for. I’ll argue with a layman about science but I won’t argue with Hawking about black holes. I’ll argue with Christians using their own religion but against any other religion, I’ll argue using only logic and science. The more you know, the harder it is for you to appear wrong. Note, I say appear wrong. I’ve been in plenty of arguments where I realised half way that I was wrong but I always manage to salvage the arguments using tips 3, 4 and 7. A good opponent will call you out on anything wrong you say, so keep tip 4 in mind.

It’s also good to have an understanding of the more common arguments that are used (for example, absolute morality is almost always mentioned in atheist-religious debates) and familiarise yourself with ways to deal with these arguments: such as my Debunking the Absolute Morality Argument (which, by the way, you might realise features a lot of the techniques I mention in this post).

3. Use an evolving argument. What do I mean by this? A lot of things really, but essentially I just mean don’t be pig headed. Being stubborn is bad because it’s often very easy to be called out on. An onlooker can easily see when someone is being stubborn about something. This relates a bit to the next tip (tip 4) but if you feel like you’ve hit a wall with one approach, change approaches. Never dig yourself into a hole. If you get stuck, throw a red herring (tip 1 and tip 8) and change tacks.

This also applies for being on the offensive. First consider your goal: is it to convince somebody or something simply win the argument or just to assume an unassailable position (a logical position that cannot be dismantled, at least not easily). Let’s assume your goal is to convince somebody. Some people do not listen to reason or logic or science. If your goal is to convince someone, you have to play by their rules (this situation doesn’t really require a third party – winning the argument depends on whether or not they’re convinced).

Opponent: “The Earth is 6,000 years old. How do you know your science is right? I’ve heard there are problems with how they date things”.

You: “Ok, let’s forget all the scientific evidence for the age of the Earth and the universe for a second. Why do you think the Earth is only 6,000 years old? Because the bible says so, right? But how do you know the bible is right? Well that’s because a lot of scholars have analysed it and confirmed when it was written and that the dates in the bible match up with other texts and real events that happened. But wait, how do they know when the bible was written and whether or not the dates are correct? Using scientific methods to date them (tip 5). So you can’t say science is wrong when it comes to dating or you’ll be saying that you don’t believe the bible is true (tip 1).

That example is good for tip 5 but for now just take it at face value. You cannot convince them no matter how much science and evidence you present. Don’t get stubborn, change tacks. What’s something that will work? Something that their own beliefs are rooted in. A religious fundamentalist’s entire existence revolves around the bible. Therefore, instead of using science, use the bible against them.

4. Learn when to concede points. Sometimes you’re going to be wrong. It’s unavoidable. Sometimes an argument evolves to the point where you realise you were wrong about something. At times you can use semantics to avoid being called out for being wrong, but remember tip 3! Don’t get stubborn. If you’re obviously wrong and you keep denying it, it becomes even more apparent to everyone that you’re wrong. Cut your losses and make the first move: admit it yourself. But that doesn’t mean throw in the towel. Admit smaller mistakes to push bigger points.

You: “Actually, you were right about the homogeneity of the universe. It’s not actually perfectly even. But that’s not relevant to the purpose of this debate. The fact remains that there are no detectable anti-matter galaxies, and you still haven’t provided any evidence otherwise (tip 1).

In a way, this is also a red herring. You assume the position of “the bigger man” by admitting you’re wrong, but you also redirect the flow of the debate to something else which you have the upper hand in. By focusing on what you’re winning, you can easily be wrong about many things and still win the argument.

5. Predict where the argument is going. Although this is number 5, it’s probably the most advanced and powerful of the techniques. There are two parts to this: cutting your losses and guiding your opponent.

Cutting your losses is pretty straight forward. If you can foresee in the near future that one of the points you were arguing is going to be turned around or proven wrong, steer the discussion away. If it’s unavoidable, correct yourself before your opponent has a chance to call you out on it (tip 4). Cutting your losses also relates to tip 7, which I will go into more later.

Guiding your opponent is the tough one and it’s something you need to do subtly. Remember the example in tip 3? This passage in particular is guiding your opponent:

Why do you think the Earth is only 6,000 years old? Because the bible says so, right? But how do you know the bible is right? Well that’s because a lot of scholars have analysed it and confirmed when it was written and that the dates in the bible match up with other texts and real events that happened. But wait, how do they know when the bible was written and whether or not the dates are correct? Using scientific methods to date them.

You pose a question then answer it for your opponent. By doing so, you can create an apparently flawless chain of causality. However, keep in mind subtlety. If your opponent knows what you’re doing, they’ll reject it. In the example above, I answer each question with a reasonable answer. For example “a lot of scholars have analysed it and confirmed when it was written …” is not aggressive or disparaging in any way. It almost sounds like I’m complimenting or aiding my opponent’s position.

You can go even subtler still by picking points to discuss that will lead into some of your stronger points. Assuming an academic discourse, if they push 5 points, but one of them leads into a field that you have limited knowledge of, respond to only 4 of their points and guide the argument away. If you use tip 1, most of the time they won’t even realise you haven’t responded to something because they’ll be put on the defensive.

If done correctly, you can create a “logical trap” in which you confine your opponent to a few possible responses and have strong rebuttals to each one.

6. Know your buzz words. Here’s where the logical fallacies come in. To clarify this also includes tip 2; know some good, prepared arguments that you can whip out and adapt to any situation. Logic and science are universal, so any argument based on these can be used in a large variety of situations (though keep in mind science branches off into a lot of things so make sure you know enough of it to argue a point).

For a list of common logical fallacies, you can refer to a post I made earlier with their names and examples: Logical Fallacies. I wanted to shorten that list to ones commonly used in debates but I just ended up re-listing them all, plus some (which I will now add to that post). Just learn a few – some are so obvious you’ll remember them easily. What do you do with your buzz words? Tip 1. Whenever you see one used, call them out on it. Tip 1 combined with buzz words creates the biggest impact because you can use an officially documented fallacy to show your opponent is wrong.

Other buzz words include (just to name a few): logical/illogical, causal relationship, unscientific, academic/intellectual, proof/evidence, and any other relevant terminology to whatever field you are discussing.

Remember, you can out-verbalise your opponent and even win by doing so. People often ask me why proper English is so important. Here’s one of the reasons. I can argue with terrible English until the cows come home but I’ll still look like an idiot who doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

UniVerz can Haz no crEAtEr cuz sciEnce sAy beginNIngs lyke biG BanG is sinGularety and SmaLL lyke PartiLcLE so QuAtum mekanikz alloW smaLL thing aPpeaRZ soMethIng fRom NothInG.

Despite being correct, if you ever saw that quote I wrote up there you would instantly think the guy is an idiot and brush aside anything he has to say as the ramblings of an undereducated simpleton. This is just an extreme end of the spectrum. The point is that with good English and buzz words you can out-verbalise your opponent and create more impact, as well as appear more correct (even if you’re not).

7. Cover all your bases. This relates a bit to tip 5. If you predict that some of your arguments have flaws that will be exploited, prepare your course of action. Hesitation and stumbling will reveal guilt. This is something I’m particularly good at because I always know exactly what’s wrong with what I’m saying.

Think of it this way – it’s much easier to poke holes in an argument than prepare one yourself right? So just think about what you’re saying and poke holes in it yourself. If you find a hole, get ready to patch it up. Just don’t get stuck on the defensive – defend it quickly and concisely with no hesitation and go back on the offensive.

You: “Global warming will cause global increases in temperature that will cause sea levels to rise and food sources to suffer”.

Opponent: “But how do you explain the lower temperatures we’ve been seeing? That’s proof that global warming is a hoax”.

You: “I use the term global warming in it’s original context. Were you unaware they changed the official term to climate change? Because it doesn’t just make hot weather hotter, it makes cold weather colder. You pretty much just proved what I’ve been saying all along, the climate is changing – hence climate change.”

The above example also features a bit of tip 5. You can intentionally leave a “hole” in your argument to lure your opponent into bringing it up. But let’s assume I was actually genuinely mistaken for using the term “global warming” instead of “climate change”. I don’t need to admit it (tip 4) because I can just use semantics to cover it up. My response quickly corrects my mistake, attacks the opponent subtly (almost an ad hominem) and redirects the flow of the argument to the main point.

8. Don’t be afraid to break the rules. “It’s not cheating unless you get caught”. Logical fallacies are wrong to use as a basis for your argument, but you can use them to deliver your argument. Reductio ad absurdum, strawman fallacies, red herrings, ad homniem and appeal to emotion are the ones I commonly use, but I do them subtly in a matter-of-factly way so that they can’t be easily called out. For example, if I ever get called out on a red herring I’ll just say brush it off by implying that I thought the result was obvious but if my opponent needs me to specifically spell it out for them, then I’d be happy to do so. Or the little ad hominem in tip 7 where I say “Were you unaware they changed the official term to climate change?” I can simply pretend to be a genuine question rather than an insult to undermine my opponent’s credibility. It appears to be more like a genuine question because I go on to show a causal relationship, thus explaining it to my opponent as if I genuinely believe he doesn’t know (the climate is changing – hence climate change).

But if any of your core points are based on logical fallacies, you’re going to have a bad time. Only use them to create impact, the foundation of your knowledge should always be solid.

9. Quit while you’re ahead. It’s always better to end with a bang than drawing it out and dying off slowly. If you feel like you’re coming close to running out of points, or that the flow of the argument is going to shift away from you, quit while you’re ahead. But don’t quit quietly. Quit with impact.

You: “Well I’ve provided countless pieces of evidence as well as demonstrated the logical causality (tip 6) for each. My opponent seems hung up on this [one] particular point even though I’ve shown it to be false with [these] arguments (tip 1). I don’t feel any need to indulge his stubbornness (tip 3) any further as I’ve already made it pretty clear that [this] is true. If he still wishes to argue then I’m sure no amount of reason will ever reach him.

End it on your terms. You already have the upper ground so there’s no need for you to continue. Plus, by ending it with the suggestion that any continuance of the argument is indicative of some character or reasoning flaw in your opponent, if they choose to respond with a continuation of the argument, they’ve pretty much just proved your point.

I’ve been meaning to simplify and broaden the health section of this blog and a friend recently asked about nutrition so it seems like a good time to start. I’ll try skip over the finer points and make separate posts about them later on. This will sort of be the parent directory with general info about how nutrition works.

If you break it down, there’s not that much to know. There are two types of nutrients you can consume:

Macronutrients:

These include carbohydrates, protein and fats. Macronutrients are your body’s fuel sources; they are converted to glucose and shuttled to your cells via insulin. More on that mechanism later.

There’s a bit of a misconception that your body burns these separately. You are always burning all three fuel sources, just at different rates. Fat, as you may have guessed, is burned the slowest. Carbs are burned the quickest as they are in a closer chemical state to glucose/sugars. That one fact will be very helpful if you want to watch your weight – glucose is essentially a type of sugar so anything sweet will always have a lot of carbs. Anything bread, pasta or rice based will also contain a lot of carbs.

Carbohydrates themselves are broken down into two different types: simple and complex. Simple carbs have a higher glycemic index and basically release glucose much faster and in spikes. Complex carbs have a lower glycemic index and are thus healthier. More on this later.

Protein is broken down into amino acids which are essential for muscle repair and growth. Unused amino acids can eventually be converted to glycogen (a more complex level of glucose – think of it as a few glucose molecules combined).

Fat is basically an energy store and contains more calories per gram than the others (fat contains 9 calories per gram whereas carbs and protein contain 4). Keep in mind essentially fatty acids like Omega 3 cannot be produced by your body so you must get them through food.

So what are calories then? A lot of people tout calories as the holy grail of weight gain/loss. Honestly, this annoys me. Calories are just a measurement of energy. True, you require a calorie deficit to lose weight and a calorie surplus to gain weight, but that’s a huge oversimplification of the process. Where are these calories from? Saturated fat? Simple carbs? Again, more on this later.

Micronutrients:

These include everything else you might eat besides the macronutrients. Vitamins are a big group. Calcium, iron and fibre are also important for the more serious body builders.

Usually people don’t measure their micronutrient intake – at least not as much as their macros. Micros are more of a long term thing that can boost your gains/losses a bit. Fibre deficiencies in particular are quite common and can help with absorption. For example, the carbs/sugar in fruit are mainly fructose, which is a simple carb, but due to the micronutrient content of fruit (fibre and vitamins), I would still consider fruit to be a healthy food (as would other nutritionists).

The Glucose-Insulin Mechanism:

All the “more on this later” bits were referring to this section. There’s a lot of study in this field so to be brief, basically glucose is the raw form of energy that all foods are broken down into eventually (at different rates). This glucose will be in your system (blood stream). In response to an elevated glucose level, your body produces insulin which causes cells to consume this glucose.

Diabetes suffers at times require insulin shots because their body is incapable of producing enough insulin on its own, meaning the glucose cannot be absorbed. Overconsumption of sugary stuff is often criticised as causing diabetes because sugary stuff is usually simple carbs and thus your glucose levels spike tremendously and your insulin can’t keep up.

Now there are some interesting points to mention. First, your insulin sensitivity is dependent on your health. People familiar with intermittent fasting and cortisol might skip breakfast for this reason. In short, breakfast can cause a glucose spike which will be responded to by an even greater insulin spike (because the person is healthy). This can cause your glucose levels to drop below what it should be (think overshooting the mark). The insulin aims to return your system to balance but it goes too far, causing you to feel hungry again very quickly. This can lead to overeating, or general discomfort.

Next, what happens to excess macronutrients? All macronutrients will eventually be broken down into glucose. What happens to the excess glucose? Well if it stays in your system long enough and isn’t used, then your body will store it. It does this by converting to glycogen and then eventually into fat (fat being the ultimate energy store). And this is why I get annoyed at people who always preach calories but never consider other factors. Yes, calories are the bottom line but they aren’t the only factor involved.

Consider this: a macro target of 2500 calories per day with a maintenance calorie level of 3000. Technically, if the target is reached, the person should lose weight right? Well they will but let’s consider how other factors can affect the weight loss. Say the person eats all 2500 calories in one sitting, and they’re all simple carbs (i.e. he eats two loafs of white bread). First of all, it’s very unhealthy, I know, but let’s take a look at the mechanism.

Simple carbs means huge glucose spike. Excess glucose will be converted to fat. If all the glucose is converted, then his body will have no more carbs. If his body has no more carbs, he has to break down protein (in a process known as catabolism) and fat for fuel. Good news right? He’ll still lose weight because he’ll burn more calories (3000) than he supplied (2500). Yes, but, fat burns the slowest. So he’ll lose weight but most of it will be loss of muscle. It’s entirely possible that he could actually gain fat while losing weight.

If that makes sense to you, you should realise that while calories are still the bottom line for weight loss, there’s much more to it than just that. This is just a general overview of how nutrition works but hopefully this understanding will help you make more informed decisions.

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