Anglican Samizdat

January 20, 2010

Apoplectic Atheists

Filed under: Atheism — David @ 11:56 am
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Atheists seem to get angry easily. They get angry because they think Christians look down on them as Bad, angry because Christians can’t put themselves in their position, angry because they are misunderstood and angry because we Christians don’t agree with them and, after all, atheism is so obvious.

To clear up some of this:

Christians do think atheists are, in a sense, Bad; that is because we think everyone, in a sense, is Bad. To put it into Christian terms, everyone has sinned and needs a Saviour to redeem them from their sins.

Many Christians do understand atheism; that is because some were atheists themselves at some point – I was – and because, since Christianity is attacked from all sides in our culture, Christians have been forced to inspect their basic assumptions and how their beliefs logically follow from them. From the occasional exchange with atheists on this blog, it appears that many atheists have not done the same.

Here are some of the basic assumptions that accompany atheism and some of the unavoidable consequences of those assumptions:

There are some variations in atheism. A negative atheism would claim an absence of belief in God and make it a default position: in the absence of good evidence for God’s existence, negative atheism is the logical choice – the burden of proof is on the theist. Others would argue that this is really agnosticism in disguise and that true atheism is positive atheism which asserts the statement “God does not exist”. I am inclined to the latter view.

Either variety of atheism has some unavoidable consequences:

There is no objective standard for morality. That is not to say that atheists cannot do “good” or be “moral”, using those words in the context of Judeo-Christian ethics; they can. It does mean, though that the “good” or “evil” that an atheist may believe exists has no objective realty: “good” and “evil” are subjective – no one person’s view of what is “good” has any more validity than any other person’s. Dostoevsky summed this with “if God does not exist everything is permitted”

Atheists are materialists: that is to say, they believe that the material universe is all that exists; without God there is no supernatural, nothing outside of the material exerts any influence on the universe. Christopher Hitchens seems to want to dodge this by contending that the numinous does exist, apparently as a by-product of the human mind – most atheists would not go along with this, though. As a result, the human mind is entirely subject to the material. This leads to the following problem for the atheist:

  1. If God does not exist, a person’s thoughts are the result of interactions in the material universe.
  2. Some people believe the following statement to be true, while others believe it to be untrue: God does not exist.
  3. The same material universe produces opposite conclusions on the truth of the statement in 2.
  4. If God does not exist, human thought processes are unreliable.
  5. If God does not exit, my belief that he does not exist is unreliable.

If human existence ceases at death, life has no lasting objective purpose or meaning. Atheists will protest that they do find purpose and meaning in life; Richard Dawkins goes to considerable length to expound on the beauty and the grandeur of the universe. Without God, though, such perceptions are subjective and, for an honest person, inadequate. Atheistic existentialists such as Jean-Paul Sartre were more direct: Sartre recognised that without God life has no purpose. His solution was to invent a purpose and pretend that it has significance – just to get through life. Sadly, modern atheists are doing much the same thing without the benefit of the introspection necessary to recognise why.

Atheists are evolutionary Darwinists but generally not social Darwinists, preferring instead to adopt the mores of the Judeo-Christian heritage that they despise. The problem for the atheist comes when confronted by a social Darwinist who might advocate, for example, the extermination of the old, infirm, disabled and deformed; an atheist has no convincing argument to offer on why this is a bad thing to do. Without God, values are subjective, one person’s view of what is right is as good as any other’s.

A popular contemporary conceit of atheism is that science has disposed of religion. John Lennox in his book God’s Undertaker: Has Science Buried God? argues eloquently that, far from burying God, science depends on the assumption that the universe has rational laws – rational laws that owe their existence to a rational Creator. Additionally, there is no reason to trust the rationality of the minds of scientists if they are products of a potentially irrational universe.

There; now I expect atheists reading this will become angry.

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50 Comments

  1. If God actually existed, then he might (and even then, only might) provide the basis for an absolute morality. However, there is no good reason to suppose that this is the case. You might as well say that Batman exists, ignoring all evidence to the contrary, and use him as your basis for “objective morality”. It would have exactly the same truth value, but at least Batman has a really cool car.

    Comment by Derek — January 20, 2010 @ 12:32 pm

  2. If god really existed he would personally come out of hiding and zap anyone who disagrees with xtianity.
    If he /she /it was real why did he zap a nation which is 95% Catholic? Can we imagine that this god likes atheists better than Catholics?

    I don’t think god(s) exist and that earthquakes happen whether we believe in gods or not.

    Now that wasn’t so hard was it?

    Comment by Aspentroll — January 20, 2010 @ 3:04 pm

  3. The level of belief expressed by self-described atheists, while remaining oblivious to the number of things they take for granted that cannot be proven and must be accepted on faith, is intriguing.

    Aspentroll, I’m glad you know what God would or would not do. I’ll check in with you the next time I need some advice.

    Comment by Warren — January 20, 2010 @ 7:20 pm

  4. Derek,
    What exactly is the evidence for God’s non-existence that theists ignore?

    Comment by John K — January 21, 2010 @ 12:49 am

  5. So if I get this right you are saying because of a lack of belief in a god we have no foundation in which to establish moral values.

    Is this right?

    By this lack of foundation, that each separate persons values would have to be taken as valid because we have no standard to act as a guide line?
    Is my interpretation of your question correct?

    and therefore good and evil from an atheist perspective is purely subjective and there by any act could be seen as being good or evil.

    I just want to make sure I answer to the main question and not side tracked by fluff, so to speak.

    This is what you want an answer to?

    Comment by Renshia — January 21, 2010 @ 3:28 am

  6. Yes, I firmly believe that once one decides (or concedes) that human existence ends totally with physical death, then the value (and valuing) of individual human life unravels, and once individual humans are not valued, then the slide into “only the future of the race/nation/humankind/the earth matters” begins, and before long eugenics, euthanasia, population control, and the full totalitarian horror, gets nearer. If I, me, do not have an eternal, unconditional value (and everybody else, of course), then shortly you have no option but to accept that no one and nothing does.

    Comment by John Thomas — January 21, 2010 @ 7:25 am

  7. Renshia [#5],
    So if I get this right you are saying because of a lack of belief in a god we have no foundation in which to establish moral values.

    Not quite. The existence of an absolute standard of good and evil depends on whether God exists or not, not on whether you believe he exists.

    If he does not exist – which is what you believe, I gather – then you have to acknowledge that human morality is subjective: each person may choose an ethical framework of his or her own; to say that one is “better” than another has no meaning.

    Comment by David — January 21, 2010 @ 9:00 am

  8. I am 75 years old and have always been a non-believer (atheist, if you wish). I take a common sense view of what is called faith. The word hope might apply instead of faith.

    Atheistic views on life are not new and usually follow when children are not indoctrinated in any version of the religions. Two thirds of the earth’s population don’t believe in Christianity and use some other style of beliefs. They are not automatically wrong for believing differently than Christians. The days of Christian voyages to other parts of the planet to force their views on others is past. Christians and Muslims will just have to get used to that fact. If they can’t accept other peoples’ points of view, there will be problems.

    Most of the wars fought throughout history have been about one group attempting to force their ideas and dogma on others. We can avoid more wars and bloodshed if people of religion will just worship to themselves and quit expecting others to change to their way of thinking.

    It is very hard for people of no faith to imagine we are being controlled by an entity invented by ancient people two to three thousand years ago.
    Science and clear thinking in the 21 century will eventually overcome the mythology of gods.

    And Warren if you read this: get a life OK? You are probably a grown up
    and there really is no Santa Clause.

    For the rest of you who may believe that Atheism = immorality, morals are generally taught by good parents who are not necessarily god fearing people. Tribes who know little or nothing of Christianity have morals among themselves. The Criminal Code of the country you live in, make the rules you live by not the Bible. At least until recently when Irish Law makes it illegal to say “GOD Damn It”. Next we will have to take our wives
    out and get them stoned. (A little levity there.)

    Comment by Aspentroll — January 21, 2010 @ 11:13 am

  9. Renshia:

    If you actually believe that when you die you will go to either a heaven or hell place, I pity you. If going to church and fear of hell is why you live what you call a normal life, I believe you are wasting your time.

    I have lived very well for 75 years and have never done anything I should be ashamed of. Everyone will eventually die and there are those who can’t imagine not going to a better place. It is wishful thinking and usually believed by certain types of people.

    Not believing in heaven doesn’t automatically make you a bad, evil person.
    I know, your Pastor or Priest has been pushing that fallacy ever since he took on his job in the Religion Industry. Let’s face it, every time a person sours on church the Collection plate diminishes by about $10.00.
    His life’s earnings depend on pushing religion. Benny Hinn, Peter Poppof (sp) and Pat Robertson live in mansions on the money taken from the gullible.

    And the Myth goes on.

    Comment by Aspentroll — January 21, 2010 @ 11:35 am

  10. Aspentroll, my only surprise is that it took you this long to pull out the strawmen (Hinn, Popoff, Robertson). Do the actions of individual atheists make your belief in atheism more or less credible? Is that what the “truth” of your postion stands or falls on? Part of why I find it so frustrating to dialogue with atheists is the verbal tactics that they use. I guess I need to keep reminding myself that, whereas I have an external reference for the meaning of truth, atheists do not. Therefore, what I view as lying or exaggerating by an atheist may be seen by them as “truthful”. Walk a mile in the other guy’s shoes I suppose.

    Comment by Warren — January 21, 2010 @ 11:44 am

  11. Morning all

    First off Aspentroll– take a pill, I do not guide my life on the basis of imaginary beings.

    Now coming back to the objective/ subjective basis for morality….

    David, in post # 7 you said “then you have to acknowledge that human morality is subjective: each person may choose an ethical framework of his or her own; to say that one is “better” than another has no meaning”.

    Yes!! David I do acknowledge this fact. Morality starts for each individual as subjective. Each person may choose an ethical framework of his or her own. This is true. There is no such thing as good or evil, it is just a perception of reality. We as individuals need to decide what is right and wrong for ourselves.
    Each of us come to our standards by what we believe is moral as experienced within our lives.

    Now as a herd type species we also come to our moral basis by consensus as a group. That group consensus dictates the standard by which each persons actions are judged within that societal group.

    We can make up objective standards, such as those you proclaim are created by a god, but they to are imaginary and if decided by an individual or a society to be unacceptable may change.

    Comment by Renshia — January 21, 2010 @ 12:21 pm

  12. Renshia (#11)
    May we take it then that you believe that slavery, for instance, as practised a couple of centuries ago, was not wrong? That kidnapping African men and women, loading them into the holds of ships)where many died in passage), and forcing them into forced labour, was right because individuals and society agreed it was? Would the same go for any war, human or child sacrifice, genocide or mass slaughter in history was not wrong if the consensus of society was in favour?

    Are you saying that child rape, for instance, is only wrong because society considers it wrong? In a society that considered child abuse acceptable, would it then be so?

    If you agree, then, yes, at least your thinking is consistent.

    Just wonderin’

    Comment by John K — January 21, 2010 @ 12:59 pm

  13. Renshia [#11],

    We can make up objective standards, such as those you proclaim are created by a god, but they to are imaginary and if decided by an individual or a society to be unacceptable may change.

    Humans cannot make up objective standards, using “objective” in the philosophical sense – existing independently of perception or an individual’s conceptions.

    If God does exist, then the standards he sets are far from imaginary: they exist independently of humanity or humanity’s perception of them or agreement with them – that’s what makes them objective.

    We as individuals need to decide what is right and wrong for ourselves. Each of us come to our standards by what we believe is moral as experienced within our lives.

    You are indulging in a circular definition:
    You agree that without God the concepts “right” and “wrong” do not exist objectively.
    Then you say as individuals we decide what is “right” and “wrong” – but you cannot logically claim a particular act (murder, say) belongs to a category that does not exist.

    As far as the herd consensus is concerned, I agree with John K’s remarks.

    Comment by David — January 21, 2010 @ 1:27 pm

  14. Well, you could assume such a thing, Just like I could assume you like little boys and walking your neighborhood in a trench coat. That you think killing your child for swearing is acceptable.

    You could, like I could, do all of those things. Now for the sake of conversation I will say that it is unlikely you do any of those things as I have also chosen not to do none of them. You use the excuse of a god and all that comes with it to choose not to do those things. My thought process is different. Even if there was a god, with all his standards, I would still not be doing those things. Why? Because I don’t want to, I see no benefit in doing them. They don’t advance the goal that I have set for myself. So why would I?

    “Would the same go for any war, human or child sacrifice, genocide or mass slaughter in history was not wrong if the consensus of society was in favour?”

    Well isn’t it? Every society has it’s own individual standards(consensus), for deciding what is right and what is wrong. It is different all over the world and has changed through out the times.

    In each of those societies different things are seen as evil or good according to there cultural consensus. The second world war for japan is seen much differently than we in the west see it.

    Even your abrahamic faith has gone the process of changing. It went from an eye for an eye mentality to a turn the other cheek mentality.

    We as a society we create the objective standard for right and wrong. All the imaginary gods you come up with will never change it, just because you do not accept it, is not going to change it. Refusing to see reality as it is doesn’t make it invalid. it just makes you blind to it.

    Comment by Renshia — January 21, 2010 @ 1:46 pm

  15. “You are indulging in a circular definition:
    You agree that without God the concepts “right” and “wrong” do not exist objectively.”

    yes I am because it is a circular discussion. There is no god to root it to. We as a society and as individuals decide on a consensus, to determine acceptable and unacceptable standards for living.
    Philosophy it all you want this is what happens, god has nothing to do with it because he is imaginary, so some of you have come to a consensus that that old book is good enough guide for you and you follow it, some of us don’t.

    Comment by Renshia — January 21, 2010 @ 1:57 pm

  16. “If God does exist, then the standards he sets are far from imaginary: they exist independently of humanity or humanity’s perception of them or agreement with them”

    okay so assuming that god does exist and his objective standards do exist independently of humanity.

    I don’t believe they do. Prove to me that it was not someone who just invented this concept and labeled it form a god and sold you that bill of goods. Show me some verifiable evidence of this objective standard. of it’s source.

    Comment by Renshia — January 21, 2010 @ 2:03 pm

  17. “I have also chosen not to do none of them”

    you really need to get an edit button on here.

    I meant to say I have chose to do none of them.

    Comment by Renshia — January 21, 2010 @ 2:10 pm

  18. Renshia,

    I don’t want to be rude, but I feel compelled to say that is it almost impossible to have an intelligent exchange with you because you seem to be unacquainted with even a rudimentary understanding of logic or of the English language.

    I have had more productive conversations with a parrot.

    Comment by David — January 21, 2010 @ 5:38 pm

  19. Aspentroll [#8],

    Most of the wars fought throughout history have been about one group attempting to force their ideas and dogma on others

    You have avoided the logical contradiction between your atheism and the beliefs implicit in the above statement. You obviously think wars and conflict are bad; why? If mankind is nothing but an organised collection of molecules why does it matter if there are wars, death and suffering. You’ve lived 75 years; pull yourself together and start using your head, man!

    Comment by David — January 21, 2010 @ 6:01 pm

  20. David states; “You obviously think wars and conflict are bad; why?”

    It is a subjective thing. Yes we think wars are bad, because we do not see it as furthering the goal. Whether it is personal goals of wanting to live in peace or as just a global goal of perpetuating the species. Why because, we choose to. Now if you were to .. say attack my village and the I need to go to war to protect my family I would, and if i kicked your but it would be a good war. I have furthered the goal to continue life.

    so under one circumstance war is good and another it is bad. Just like killing is subjective, It is a thing we see as bad, but if it is to protect my family then it is good or at least the out come will be good for me if I survive.

    I know you want a logical evidence based reason why we choose to place value on life due to the fact we do not see any supernatural value placed on it. We don’t have one, we simply choose to because of societal training, personal choice or even religious training, there are many things we use as reason for our judgments just like you. We simply choose to, you accredit this balance of judgments as coming from a god we reject the idea, Some of us believe that root comes from our a dominate trait of wanting to perpetuate the species. Some of us believe that were here anyways might as well make the best of it. There are even those who say to hell with it all and take as many as they can with them. some even do that in the name of god. is is all just a subjective choice. The reason for the value changes for each individual.

    “Then you say as individuals we decide what is “right” and “wrong” – but you cannot logically claim a particular act (murder, say) belongs to a category that does not exist.”

    why not? why can we not just come to a consensus of what we accept and what we don’t. Why can we not just agree on what things are or are not acceptable. We do it all the time, you denying it doesn’t doesn’t change the reality of what is.

    Comment by Renshia — January 21, 2010 @ 7:19 pm

  21. “I don’t want to be rude, but I feel compelled to say that is it almost impossible to have an intelligent exchange with you because you seem to be unacquainted with even a rudimentary understanding of logic or of the English language.”

    It seems to me it is more because I won’t agree that what you say has merit because the base of all the assumptions made are baseless.

    You infer we can not create an objective goal for ourselves because we can not transcend the subjective elements of ourselves. I guess you are correct in that, however it does not mean we cannot set them up for ourselves as a standard in which we agree on and believe in. It is exactly what we believe the religious do this all the time, they give credit to a god, but all you have done is give ownership to an unidentifiable invisible being. Thinking that by doing so you give it more credibility. but your only coming to a consensus. and even that seems to be tenuous at best.

    Comment by Renshia — January 21, 2010 @ 7:38 pm

  22. Renshia,
    It seems to me it is more because I won’t agree that what you say has merit

    No, it is because you don’t seem able or willing to think through the logical consequences of your belief system.

    For example, in #21, on the one hand you agree that without God’s existence there is no objective good or evil – and by implication, if he does, there is; then you proceed to declare that atheists come up with their own standards of good and evil and that is the equivalent to a Christian view of good and evil because “we believe the religious do this all the time”.

    You have muddled two concepts: that God actually does exist and therefore absolute morality exists; that God doesn’t exist but people believe he does and their morality is humanly contrived. If God exists, so does an absolute moral standard regardless of what anyone believes. Christians attempt to understand what those standards are; even if their understanding is inadequate, it doesn’t change the absolute nature of the standards.

    That is just one muddle of many.

    Comment by David — January 21, 2010 @ 9:56 pm

  23. “and by implication, if he does, there is; then you proceed to declare that atheists come up with their own standards of good and evil and that is the equivalent to a Christian view of good and evil”

    No you are misunderstanding my statement. I am not trying to bring our decisions up to be equalvalant to what you think the christian standard is.
    that is not what was meant at all. I will try to be more clear.

    What I am saying is we decide through personal and group consensus our value judgments and we feel you do the same thing. Your group decided by consensus as to the interpretations of the scriptures. The only difference is you claim those standards are some how divinely inspired. we feel that is not true.
    I do not try to elevate our claims be equivalent to yours, I am trying to bring your claims down to ours where they belong. Simply as subjective as ours.

    So because I cannot believe that god exists, simply because there is absolutely no verifiable evidence of such a being existing I must also conclude that “God actually does exist and therefore absolute morality exists” cannot be a true statement. If no god exists then all morality is subjective and the only true difference between your morality and mine is you claim divine inspiration for yours and I laugh at the concept and see no evidence to believe that statement has any merit.

    Comment by Renshia — January 22, 2010 @ 12:47 am

  24. Renshia,
    After having watched you twist in the wind of your belies through several threads and dozens of posts, I have to answer one question you pose:”If no god exists then all morality is subjective and the only true difference between your morality and mine is you claim divine inspiration for yours and I laugh at the concept and see no evidence to believe that statement has any merit.”

    My answer, (and I’m sure David’s),is that our morality is dictated by a two thousand year old belief in God and you make yours up as you go along.

    Peace,
    Jim

    Comment by Jim Muirhead — January 22, 2010 @ 8:16 am

  25. “is that our morality is dictated by a two thousand year old belief in God”

    That is right a two thousand year old belief system that holds beliefs like subjugating of women, intolerance for people of different beliefs, that a sky daddy is coming to make everything right, the sun revolves around the world, along with other stone age superstitions that have been proven false. How you can give credence to such a old belief system that provides no evidence of it’s truth is beyond me. I guess sometimes it is hard to let go of the past. Doesn’t mean we should not do it.

    Comment by Renshia — January 22, 2010 @ 3:26 pm

  26. Renshia [#23]

    You have just said that a subjective perception of an objective reality is the same as a subjective perception of an invented reality.

    To put it another way, you appear to believe that an hallucinatory perception is equivalent to a perception of something that is real since both are perceptions.

    Comment by David — January 22, 2010 @ 3:46 pm

  27. Renshia [#25],

    You can’t expect people to take you seriously if you respond with vacuous clichés.

    Comment by David — January 22, 2010 @ 3:46 pm

  28. David [#27],

    Then don’t do it.

    Comment by Paula — January 23, 2010 @ 4:15 am

  29. “There; now I expect atheists reading this will become angry.”

    You would be right.

    Once again the theists try to imnagine what is in our heads and fail.

    Ever hear if the “Null Hypotheses”? The default answer to any question, pending evidence, is “no”. There is no evidence supporting the existence of a deity. That brings everything else full stop.

    Why theists believe that because the universe behvaves in predictable ways means that there *has* to be a supermatural magic man behind the scenes is beyond me. Sentience is not needed to create order. Deliberate design is not needed to create order.

    There is no objective morality that exists outside of people’s own minds. As a rule we tend to label behavior that benefits a social group or tribe as “good” and things that harm it “evil.”

    I suppose I am wasting my time trying to explain this to people who are dead set against hearing it.

    “You can’t expect people to take you seriously if you respond with vacuous clichés.”

    The cliches she listed exist for a reason: It’s accurate. Not very flattering, but accurate. You imagine that all human beings somehow “broke” the universe and that you have to worship, adore, and otherwise please a supernatural magical man to make it all better…or at least be forgiven for the “crime” of being born human in the first place.

    Comment by S Mooney — January 23, 2010 @ 6:35 pm

  30. S Mooney [#29],

    Once again the theists try to imnagine what is in our heads

    Very little judging by the fact that in your comment you haven’t addressed any of the problematic consequences of atheism that I listed in my post, you have littered it with straw-men, it has atrocious spelling and is bereft of grammatical structure.

    Comment by David — January 23, 2010 @ 8:27 pm

  31. “you haven’t addressed any of the problematic consequences of atheism”

    That is because you haven’t presented any worth addressing. You claim these problems exist yet the world still does what it does regardless of your beliefs.

    “hallucinatory perception is equivalent to a perception of something that is real”
    You just have to make up things to throw the point off don’t you.

    Your a living example of that statements truth.
    Your hallucinatory belief in a god and his absolute objective truths are real to you. Your a living example of that satement being true than even I could ever present.

    Coming back to my ignored question again;

    What verifiable evidence can you produce of your god and his absolute objective truths?

    Even take a look at global society, there is no common set of values derived from god and his absolute objective truths. Each changes, in some places human sacrifice glorifies god, some places people eat people, some believe suicide is honorable.

    Everything you say is proven daily by all kind of people to be false. You would rather reach back to bronze age thinking instead of moving forward to create a better world.

    How sad, you are trained to see only the negative in this world and then wonder why all you see is the negative.

    Comment by Renshia — January 25, 2010 @ 12:44 am

  32. Renshia,

    Have you ever heard the expression, “If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail”?

    What verifiable evidence can you produce of your god and his absolute objective truths?

    What verifiable evidence can you produce that there is no God or objective truth?

    Even [sic] take a look at global society, there is no common set of values derived from god and his absolute objective truths. Each [sic] changes, in some places human sacrifice glorifies god, some places people eat people, some believe suicide is honorable.

    If you were a little better studied in human history, anthropology, world religions, etc., it is unlikely you would make such an assertion. It isn’t the differences that are amazing, but rather the similarities. I suggest you spend some time in the library reading a wider range of books than just those that push atheistic theories. Intellectual integrity (does the word “integrity” have meaning given your world view?) means accepting evidence even if it doesn’t fit with your theories. That’s the nail your hammer has been pounding away on, and maybe it’s time you applied the same standard to yourself.

    As with S Mooney, if you could labour a little more over your spelling and grammar, your posts would be easier to read and understand.

    Comment by Warren — January 25, 2010 @ 1:04 am

  33. warren:
    “Have you ever heard the expression, “If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail”?”
    no I hadn’t,but it makes my point exactly, thanks.

    “What verifiable evidence can you produce that there is no God or objective truth?”

    What evidence can you produce there are no fairy god mothers. That is just a plan ignorant (and I am not calling you any names here) statement. You do not seem to me to be so uneducated you do not know you cannot prove a negative. Talk about using straw men to make an argument.

    The problem is I have looked for that evidence of god and no, I did not find any that directly disproved him, but there was none that did prove him either. Just a lot of stories to confuse people from the truth of reality. That may be good enough for you, but not for me. You have to twist everything you see, to believe such rubbish could be true. Look around you, see the lies of religion for what they are, there is plenty of proof there is no god, Simply because there is not one lick of reality in religion. If there was, we would be in much better shape after 6000 years of it.

    “I suggest you spend some time in the library reading a wider range of books than just those that push atheistic theories.”

    I would say the same to you, every statement you make wreaks of religious translation, not once yet have you even absorbed through your religious dogma anything we say. Your version of an atheist is the only version you hear.

    I have never read a book with an atheist agenda, I prefer books that have an agenda to present truth.

    Your whole post is nothing but the pot calling the kettle black….

    You follow no objective absolute truth, if you did you could not tell the lies you do.

    Funny how when you can’t pick on what a guy says you have to turn on the guys writing… what childish behavior…
    Let’s keep this to a civil conversation, go outside to throw stones.

    Comment by Renshia — January 25, 2010 @ 2:02 am

  34. Renshia [#33],

    The problem is I have looked for that evidence of god and no, I did not find any that directly disproved him but there was none that did prove him either.

    If your position is that you do not believe in God because you do not see enough evidence for his existence, then you believe much as Bertrand Russell did. When asked what he would say to God if he encountered him after death, he responded “there was not enough evidence”. Russell acknowledged that inferring atheism from an apparent lack of evidence for God was a fallacy, so in his famous debate with Frederick Copleston in 1948 he called himself an agnostic.

    If you truly do not believe in God because you think there is not enough evidence, I suggest you are, like Russell, an agnostic.

    If, instead, you assert this statement to be true, “God does not exist”, then you are an atheist who has made a statement of belief which, by your own standards, needs evidence to back it up. You haven’t provided any such evidence.

    Comment by David — January 25, 2010 @ 10:43 am

  35. Renshia,

    Once again, an unproductive thread apart from proving the title.

    Let’s go back to this:

    Even take a look at global society, there is no common set of values derived from god and his absolute objective truths. Each changes, in some places human sacrifice glorifies god, some places people eat people, some believe suicide is honorable.

    Why not do a little experiement? Take a round-the-world trip and go to the most out of the way places you can find. Those that have had minimal contact with western society. Take up residence and start lying, stealing, cheating, acting proud, sleeping with your neighbour’s spouse, and being mean to children and old people. Do you think you’ll find a society that will honour you as a “good guy” and invite you to stay as long as you want? I didn’t think so. Isn’t it strange how basic moral values seem to have “evolved” in a very similar fashion for all mankind? Sort of like we were all created in the same image.

    Yes, I know, you’ll explain it all away.

    Comment by Warren — January 25, 2010 @ 12:12 pm

  36. David,
    You really fail to see that a label does not matter. Do you really think life can be defined by a label?

    Agnostic, atheist, humanist, secularist there all just a label that people use to identify themselves with others. Sure, if it will help you sleep at night call me an agnostic. Hell call me a back sliding christain if you like all these labels fit me to one degree or another.
    There does that make you feel better?

    The fact is that there is no evidence of a god. The church is ripe with hypocrisy. It is used as a cloak to cover up our humanity and as an excuse to relieve us from responsibility for our actions.
    I find it insulting to use two thousand year old belief systems to justify archaic thinking. The bible makes many claims that prove itself false.

    The most obvious one being Mathew 17:20 I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”

    I have yet to see any mountain move. I know you will say he was talking metaphorically. That is just an excuse for why it does not happen.

    How about mark 16:18 – they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.”

    I will tell you what, show me the kind of man of faith you are, Come on over and sip a bit of Drano for me, 1/2 a glass that’s all, then you can pray for my mothers heart condition, If she is healed and OR you do not die from the Drano, I will fall on my knees and give my life to god. I will beg his forgiveness for my insolence, give away all I own to help the poor and preach to the world on his behalf to come to his salvation. I will do all he asks me to do, including the sacrifice of my first born if he so desires.

    If you will not do this then I can only assume you are an agnostic too and your pomp about faith is only in your life to make yourself look good. Is it not worth it, if only for one lost soul?

    No mountains will move, no sick will be healed, and you will die from Drano. All will be revealed to you as it really is the moment before your awareness blinks out of existence.

    All this talk is nice, but it is just talk. The real proof in what you say, is your actions. I am willing to bet half of what you write you doubt to be true. That it is just the stand you have been programed to believe in, and so you proclaim it as truth, while you run through reality in your mind and see it is just not so. So many exceptions to the rules, how many exceptions do you have to see before you see there are no rules.

    Comment by Renshia — January 25, 2010 @ 1:22 pm

  37. Yes Warren:

    “Why not do a little experiement? Take a round-the-world trip and go to the most out of the way places you can find.” NO I do not think ” you’ll find a society that will honour you as a “good guy” and invite you to stay as long as you want?”.

    But I will find me some people that will invite me to a nice missionary stew. I will find those that will confound me with there abilities to pick my pockets and show me there pride in there talents. I will also see societies where multiple spouses live in harmony with multiple other spouses. Like I said in the last post there are always exceptions to the rules.

    Do you deny this?

    This I can easily “explain it all away” by the simple process of group consensus. This explains the variations in the beliefs from society to society. If there are these moral absolutes would they not be consistent.

    Once again I need to ask; How many exceptions do you have to see before you see there are no rules?

    Comment by Renshia — January 25, 2010 @ 1:34 pm

  38. Renshia, if values between societies were essentially identical with one trivial and meaningless difference, you would immediately point at that difference as incontrovertible evidence that God could not possibly exist. Your heart and mind are blinded and no amount of evidence will convince you unless the Holy Spirit softens your heart. If your mother was healed and David did not die from his Draino drink, you would find some explanation to avoid the obvious. Christ (who you probably don’t believe existed despite strong historical evidence) performed many miracles, but they did little or nothing to soften the hardened hearts of those opposed to Him. God could strike you dead in a dramatic fashion and you would most likely deny Him with your last breath. Yes, I know I’m using “religious language” (that will probably make you even more apoplectic – the first chapter of Romans describes this scenario well), but I believe this to the very core of my being. This saddens me and you are in my prayers. Yes, the church is rife with hypocrisy, but that makes not one wit of difference as to what is true or false.

    Comment by Warren — January 25, 2010 @ 1:54 pm

  39. Renshia [#36],

    We use language to communicate – well, some of us do – and much of language entails using what you call labels. It really does make a difference whether you take an atheist or agnostic position.

    As an agnostic – someone who does not know whether God exists – would you say that although you don’t know whether God exists, some people may, or would you say that it is impossible to know, therefore no-one knows?

    If the former, why are you so keen to convince others that God doesn’t exist? If it is possible to know that God exists, why not simply acknowledge that someone who believes in God has experienced something that you have not? If the latter, then you must believe the following statement to be true, “it is impossible to know whether God exists” which is a statement of belief needing evidence to back it up; where is your evidence?

    Your criticisms of Christianity and the church might be of interest in a thread about Christianity, but I don’t plan on taking them up here. This post is about the logical flaws in atheism, so we are going to stick to that.

    I am more than happy to pray for your mother’s heart condition.

    Comment by David — January 25, 2010 @ 2:39 pm

  40. “if values between societies were essentially identical with one trivial and meaningless difference, you would immediately point at that difference as incontrovertible”
    No that is an assumption you are making. That seems more conducive to how you categorize things. I think your doing a lot of self projection here.
    “If your mother was healed and David did not die from his Drano drink, you would find some explanation to avoid the obvious.”
    Only if we used medical intervention to succeed in them not dieing. Again I think you are self projecting.

    “Christ (who you probably don’t believe existed despite strong historical evidence) performed many miracles, but they did little or nothing to soften the hardened hearts of those opposed to Him.”

    Have you read all the books contained within the anti-Nicene fathers? There is a huge discrepancy between the biblical jesus and the jesus described within the text that were not included in the bible. They paint a much different picture than your bible does. They are dated within the time of the writing of the gospels and many before that time. There is as much evidence to there accuracy as anything in the bible. Well except the bible professed its own legitimacy. However I have seen snake oils salesmen do the same thing and they ended up hoaxes as well. I think your narrow education is limiting your perspective.

    “Yes, the church is rife with hypocrisy”
    I think this is the first truly honest thing you have said.

    “but that makes not one wit of difference as to what is true or false.”
    only in your reality, those of us who see from the outside see the poison that religion is and sees that hypocrisy of a sign of that poison.

    Comment by Renshia — January 25, 2010 @ 10:09 pm

  41. “We use language to communicate – well, some of us do – and much of language entails using what you call labels. It really does make a difference whether you take an atheist or agnostic position.”

    Yes, but you cannot confine a person within those labels, I am sure that not all of your beliefs are the same as every other traditional anglican, or maybe of those more moderate. You can identify with some and not so much others. Well which group do you label yourself with and is it always that way?

    It only makes a difference because you need to trap me in the arguments you have for each distinctive group. Unfortunately I do not fit within the confines of your limitations. I am a free human being free to decide what I will and will not believe.

    Seems to me you always try to miss the truth because you to busy trying to figure out what label to use.

    “There is as much evidence to there accuracy as anything in the bible.”
    Yes it is amazing the amount of truth that can be mixed in with lies. However it is possible to separate the two. For instance the lack of any kind of archeological evidence for the jews wondering the desert for 40 years… not one piece of evidence was found by Jewish archeologists of this ever happening. A verifiable fact that this did not happen, But I am sure you will come up with a convincing rationalization for it… the devil must have used the evidence to make fossils right?? The book is full of stories and myths, the only thing it is, is a wonderful addition in understanding the development of human evolution.

    “If it is possible to know that God exists, why not simply acknowledge that someone who believes in God has experienced something that you have not?”

    Because I had that experience for more than 20 years. I know the delusion for what it is and the importance to eliminate it whenever possible.
    I have tasted the cheap wine of religion and know that real life is much sweeter, more fulfilling and much more wondrous outside of religions shackles. It’s like a dog guarding an old bone and missing out on a fresh one for his greed. You think that this mental bondage you live in is a great life with meaning and purpose and it is none of those things, just lies that keep you hoping for better days when it is really up to you to create them now.

    While you waste your life waiting for your glorious prize, I live my prize everyday. I do it because I choose to care.

    “If it is possible to know that God exists”, It isn’t. No more than you reading Shakespeare and telling me you know him personally. It is all just interesting stories, with all kinds of fantasy thrown in.

    Comment by Renshia — January 25, 2010 @ 10:36 pm

  42. Renshia [#41],

    It only makes a difference because you need to trap me in the arguments you have for each distinctive group.

    I’m not trying to trap you; I am trying to get you to think through the consequences of your belief system.

    Seems to me you always try to miss the truth because you to busy trying to figure out what label to use.

    It may seem that way, but what you call “labelling” I call using language effectively. Putting effort into clearly expressing yourself forces you to clarify your thoughts; merely spewing out haphazard ideas plants in the listener’s mind the suspicion that the incoherent sentences are a mirror of incoherent thought. Also, I keep giving you the chance to say whether you agree or disagree with certain statements in order to try and find out exactly what you do believe; you could not call that “labelling”.

    In comment #23 you say:

    So because I cannot believe that god exists, simply because there is absolutely no verifiable evidence of such a being existing

    In fact, you demand evidence throughout your comments.

    Then in #41 you say:

    “If it is possible to know that God exists”, It isn’t.

    You believe the statement “it is impossible to know God exists” to be true; where is your evidence that your belief in that statement is warranted? How can you say that it is impossible to know that God exists when you have not tasted every experience that everyone has ever had of God?

    This form of hard agnosticism is even more difficult to defend than atheism because it says “I don’t know something to be true or false, therefore no-one can know it to be true or false”. You are saying both theists and atheists are wrong because both claim to know whether God exists or not.

    Comment by David — January 25, 2010 @ 11:21 pm

  43. “I don’t know something to be true or false, therefore no-one can know it to be true or false – it is unknowable”. You are saying both theists and atheists are wrong because both claim to know whether God exists.”

    No I am stating that, I do not think it “it is possible to know that God exists” because I do not believe he exists. It is based on that belief. Simply put that because god does not exist it is impossible for someone who knows he does.

    You are basing your speculations on what I am saying, based on a possibility of gods existence. I do not think there is any rational reason to bring that perspective into the decision making process on this question, the only answer I can give you is “no I do not think it is possible.”

    Now I have just said I do not believe he exists.
    I never once said I did not think it was possible. I do know in the whole scheme of things, I know nothing compared to what there is to know.
    So could I ever imagine a scenario where a god, a grand designer could be responsible for this, My answer is yes, I could imagine it. But I could also imagine that we are an experiment in a petree dish. And I give each option the same level of degrees of probability. They are both ludicrous ideas and in no way worthy of serious consideration.

    So given the level of probability in a god, my stance is that it isn’t possible”to know that God exists”.

    You really have to quit trying to make everything ridiculously complicated life is not black and white. What others decide they can know, I do not speak for them, I just speak for me and the conclusion I have come to in my search for the real truth behind all this.

    Comment by Renshia — January 26, 2010 @ 12:45 am

  44. Renshia, you have written many words here in the past week (in the thousands I suspect). What is driving you? Why do you keep coming back? (And I’m not complaining that you are coming back.)

    I appreciate that you could ask the same questions of me.

    Comment by Warren — January 26, 2010 @ 1:53 am

  45. There are so many reasons.
    1. I happen to have some free time.
    2. Cause I was kinda invited to and I had not yet decided we had exhausted the conversation.
    3. It has been years since I had a conversation in which it did not digress into a name calling rant, I was wondering if it was mostly do to atheist intolerance or something common with all.
    4. It is nice to get a refresher course in how those still involved in religion picture the world. When you have looked from the outside for 20 years it is hard to remember.
    5. I started to scan a bunch of sites connected to this one and I am amazed at what I see, Did you know… apparently… their are muslims and christians gaining up on the jews, jew and chritians, ganging up on the christains joining the muslims and near as I could tell no major religious authority telling anyone to calm down. It is the most bizarre thing. I am amazed at how it is possible to turn a blind eye to all of this and think that even if there was a god, any of this could be worth it. People are killing people over a piece of land that if they just gave up this stupid religion crap they could all live in peace. And you guys think I am off my rocker for not believing.

    David asked me earlier if I believed it was possible to know that god existed. I say that, IF a god existed then I don’t think it would be possible to NOT know their was a god. If a god existed as the bible portrayed or, even kind of as he is portrayed, especially if he was the jesus proclaimed in the bible, then there is no way he would let the crap that has become religion exist.

    He would have shown himself to us. His preachers would not be impotent, miracles would follow his teachings. We would see signs and wonders we would know without a shadow of a doubt there was a god. This is one more reason I just can’t fathom a god existing at all, never mind the egotistical god of the bible.

    So I guess more than anything I am here trying to make sense of it all.

    Hoping for some stellar in-sight as to what could possibly be the need, that is so great, as to allow us to completely give up our reason for the pursuit of something that even if true should really have no bearing on how we as a people live.

    We should be good to each other, philosophy the reasons all you want, the bottom line is we should be good to each other. If there is or isn’t a god, we should still be good to each other, at least as a common sense reason to perpetuate the species. We should learn and grow become more than what we are, if we did then what would it matter if their was or wasn’t a god.

    Religion turns that truth into a bastards blasphemy, and proclaims a homage must be paid. Do you really think that was what jesus was about? That he would have cared more about dogma than the simple truth of be good to one another. Why heap on the baggage? why not just teach be good to one another? Is it because we need it to as fuel to feed our prejudices, I just don’t know…
    So, I guess I am hear to see some evidence of how it could be worth it. I still see none.
    Religion is the most dangerous threat to humanity, coupled with politics the deadliest force we have. Nothing has the potential to stir up hate and destruction like religion. Hopefully we can rip out it’s teeth before it rips humanity apart completely. Hopefully we can save humanity before it destroys itself.

    I appreciate that I could ask the same questions of you, my but mt questions judt get ignored anyway. I have come to the belief it is a useless pursuit.

    Comment by Renshia — January 26, 2010 @ 3:30 am

  46. There are so many reasons.
    1. I happen to have some free time.
    2. Cause I was kinda invited to and I had not yet decided we had exhausted the conversation.
    3. It has been years since I had a conversation in which it did not digress into a name calling rant, I was wondering if it was mostly do to atheist intolerance or something common with all.
    4. It is nice to get a refresher course in how those still involved in religion picture the world. When you have looked from the outside for 20 years it is hard to remember.
    5. I started to scan a bunch of sites connected to this one and I am amazed at what I see, Did you know… apparently… their are muslims and christians gaining up on the jews, jew and chritians, ganging up on the christains joining the muslims and near as I could tell no major religious authority telling anyone to calm down. It is the most bizarre thing. I am amazed at how it is possible to turn a blind eye to all of this and think that even if there was a god, any of this could be worth it. People are killing people over a piece of land that if they just gave up this stupid religion crap they could all live in peace. And you guys think I am off my rocker for not believing.

    David asked me earlier if I believed it was possible to know that god existed. I say that, IF a god existed then I don’t think it would be possible to NOT know their was a god. If a god existed as the bible portrayed or, even kind of as he is portrayed, especially if he was the jesus proclaimed in the bible, then there is no way he would let the crap that has become religion exist.

    He would have shown himself to us. His preachers would not be impotent, miracles would follow his teachings. We would see signs and wonders we would know without a shadow of a doubt there was a god. This is one more reason I just can’t fathom a god existing at all, never mind the egotistical god of the bible.

    So I guess more than anything I am here trying to make sense of it all.

    Hoping for some stellar in-sight as to what could possibly be the need, that is so great, as to allow us to completely give up our reason for the pursuit of something that even if true should really have no bearing on how we as a people live.

    We should be good to each other, philosophy the reasons all you want, the bottom line is we should be good to each other. If there is or isn’t a god, we should still be good to each other, at least as a common sense reason to perpetuate the species. We should learn and grow become more than what we are, if we did then what would it matter if their was or wasn’t a god.

    Religion turns that truth into a bastards blasphemy, and proclaims a homage must be paid. Do you really think that was what jesus was about? That he would have cared more about dogma than the simple truth of be good to one another. Why heap on the baggage? why not just teach be good to one another? Is it because we need it to as fuel to feed our prejudices, I just don’t know…
    So, I guess I am hear to see some evidence of how it could be worth it. I still see none.
    Religion is the most dangerous threat to humanity, coupled with politics the deadliest force we have. Nothing has the potential to stir up hate and destruction like religion. Hopefully we can rip out it’s teeth before it rips humanity apart completely. Hopefully we can save humanity before it destroys itself.

    I appreciate that I could ask the same questions of you, but my questions just get ignored anyway. I have come to the belief it is a useless pursuit.

    Comment by Renshia — January 26, 2010 @ 3:30 am

  47. Religion turns that truth into a bastards blasphemy, and proclaims a homage must be paid. Do you really think that was what jesus was about? That he would have cared more about dogma than the simple truth of be good to one another. Why heap on the baggage? why not just teach be good to one another? Is it because we need it to as fuel to feed our prejudices, I just don’t know…

    I’m too tired too elaborate right now, but I don’t believe that Jesus was more concerned for dogma than loving one’s neighbour. I believe the gospels are clear on that.

    Your questions may not be responded to in the manner you would prefer, but, speaking for myself, they are not being completely ignored.

    Comment by Warren — January 26, 2010 @ 4:07 am

  48. Renshia,

    It is not often that I find myself taking issue with Warren.
    In case you missed it,you are posting on a conservative, Christian Blog. The focus of the Blog, as the title implies, is Anglican issues.
    This Blog community has gone well beyond paying lip service in responding to your posts, David has run two lengthy threads and responses have been thorough and well researched.
    At some point you need to decide whether you are trying to convince us of your opinions -or yourself.
    I would respectfully suggest that you return to the Dawsonesque blogs that you usually post on and stop trying to hijack this blog to a single issue.

    Peace,
    Jim

    Comment by Jim Muirhead — January 26, 2010 @ 8:21 am

  49. Renshia [#43],

    No I am stating that, I do not think it “it is possible to know that God exists” because I do not believe he exists. It is based on that belief. Simply put that because god does not exist it is impossible for someone who knows he does.

    You keep shifting positions. If I understand that, you say you believe that God does not exist.

    What evidence do you have for that belief?

    As I mentioned earlier, I intended this thread to expose to logical flaws in atheism, but if you are truly interested in the reasons why people believe in God, here are some:

    The ontological arguments

    The cosmological arguments

    The teleological argument or the argument from design

    The argument from experience

    You might not find any of these sufficiently convincing, but there are many who do, so it makes little sense to dismiss them before understanding their reasoning.

    If you are looking for conclusive proof for God’s existence, you won’t find it, just as you won’t find conclusive proof for the existence of the material universe.

    Now before flailing around wildly in an impulsive response to what I have just said, please do some serious thinking; if you don’t there isn’t much point in this discussion and, as far as I am concerned our exchange will be over.

    Comment by David — January 26, 2010 @ 11:35 am

  50. Renshia, the arguments that David have listed should give any rational person reason for pause – but, by them self, are insufficient to cause someone to believe. That is a work of God. We all believe in something, and we all walk by faith. In that regard, I think that Richard Dawkins exhibits more faith than many professing Christians. The Christian believes that everything he sees around him speaks of God’s sovereignty, majesty and power. The unbeliever sees a cold, stark, random universe filled with unexplainable pain and hopelessness. Both are looking at the same thing, and both have been created (you may choose to insert the word evolved here), with similar abilities and intelligence. The believer looks at the unbeliever and sees someone who is blind to the truth – whose heart has not been softened by the Holy Spirit. The unbeliever looks at the believer and sees someone who has been duped into believing a fairy tale. Neither can provide incontrovertible evidence that can be verified in a laboratory.

    In the final analysis, it comes down to faith; faith in a creator God, or faith that somehow things randomly came into being without any explainable initial cause. For me, justification by faith is not just a phrase that made Luther famous and amazing grace is not just a great song with an enduring tune. These words speak truth and life. I do not believe that the faith I possess is of my doing. I did not carefully examine all of the evidence and then (with a little extra jump) arrive at the point where I had faith in God. My faith is a gift of God’s grace. As happened with Paul, God can take the stoniest heart and turn it towards Him. He can do it with your heart, and I pray that He will.

    Comment by Warren — January 26, 2010 @ 1:38 pm


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