You Can't Argue With Christians

One of the things I have noticed in dealing with Christians on this blog and in person is that they are hard to deal with. They are hard to deal with because of their belief system and their world view. They are nearly impossible to talk with rationally (about religion, especially theirs) and they are dead set in their ways. They can quote snippets of the Bible with such forceful authority that it can make your hair stand on end. They speak as if their opinion is the God-sanctioned truth about both religion and politics.

Having been a Christian myself, I know from personal experience that “proving” to a Christian that they are wrong doesn’t work. Trying to show them that the Bible is wrong or contradictory doesn’t work. Trying to go against what their Christian leaders preach is pointless, too. The reason it is so hard is because of their mindset, their world view, their beliefs and the assurance that they are right.
Look at the things they believe:

  • God is everywhere
  • God hears all
  • God sees all
  • God acts (when he feels like it)
  • God is mysterious
  • God must be taken on faith
  • The Bible is the word of God
  • The Bible is infallible
  • There are no contradictions in the Bible
  • God intervenes when he sees fit
  • God answers prayer – yes, no, wait
  • God heals when he sees fit
  • God can explain everything away
  • Faith can explain everything away
  • Contradictions are okay as long as they are from God
  • God is the answer to everything
  • It is up to him to give us the answers if he wants
  • God is the way, the truth and the life
  • Anything can be argued/proved by the Bible
  • The earth is young
  • God created it
  • He put things there to trip up the scientists
  • I’m a Christian, you’re a Christian, we’re all Christians (but I am in the right)
  • All other religions are wrong
  • Other religions have myths, fairy tales, superstitions but not mine
  • There are angels around that help
  • There are demons around that hinder
  • I am right. You are wrong. You are a poor lost soul going to hell, sent there by a loving God, but it is your choice.
  • God wants us all to come to him
  • All you have to do to get to heaven is… take your pick depending on which Christian/religion you are talking to).
  • God is, was, and ever shall be
  • The earth is going to be destroyed
  • God told us what was going to happen a long time ago
  • God performs miracles
  • God disrupts nature
  • God uses natural events to punish sin
  • God loves you and wants you to come to him, but if you don’t he wants you to spend an eternity in torturous hell
  • Humanity is sinful
  • Without God we are hopeless, helpless and lawless
  • After we die we go to heaven
  • God lives in me
  • God shows me what to do
  • God speaks to me through his word
  • Things happen for a reason
  • The world is evil
I know not all Christians believe every single one of the things I wrote down, but that is another problem with Christianity – there are just too darn many variations. Some believe this, some believe that, some are adamantly opposed to this teaching and others are adamantly opposed to that teaching. Interpretation is everything. My denomination is better than yours. We have the real truth. That is one of the reasons I started taking a close look at my own beliefs, because of the many factions of Christianity.
So, if you can’t argue with Christians, can’t prove to them that they are wrong or their Bible is inadequate, can’t show them their preachers don’t always know what they are talking about, you can’t convince them that they are using circular reasoning, what can you do?
Remember change occurs gradually. You can’t lambaste someone into changing their beliefs; it only makes them more defensive. The harder you try, the more they resist. The more they resist, the more firmly they dig in their heals against change.
I remember when I became a Christian and I bet a lot of you do, too (if you weren’t lucky enough to be born into a non-religious home). The first time I heard about being a born-again Christian I scoffed at the idea. After all, I was a good Catholic girl. What on earth did I need that for? But every once in awhile I would be confronted with that idea again, I heard more about it, I heard some Catholics were doing it, one of my friends did it, I became more open to it and sought out more examples that it might be true. And then eventually I tentatively did it myself. Then I looked for even more examples that I was doing the right thing. The more I looked the more convinced I became and soon my whole world view was changed around to look for God and Christianity everywhere. And I found the wonders of God wherever I looked. And I blocked out contradictions and the things that didn’t make sense.
My deconversion story is much the same. I scoffed at unbelievers. How could they not believe? How could they not see God at work everywhere? How could they not know that Jesus was the only way to heaven? How could they not see and hear the beauty of God’s word and experience the same fear I felt if I were not to believe in it?
My deconversion was a slow and imperfect process. At first I heard about some more liberal Christians and I couldn’t believe it. How could they even claim to still be Christians? But then I met some and saw that they were genuine, just not as strict as I was. And so I loosened up a little. And then a little more.
I heard how some people were saying that maybe Jesus wasn’t the only way to God, just one way. I scoffed at that, too. Of course Jesus was the only way; it said so right in the Bible. But the door was opened a crack and I was open to hearing more examples.
I don’t want to go through each stage of my deconversion, but I think you get the idea. It happened gradually as I heard bits and pieces, closed my mind to it, heard some more, opened my mind a crack, looked for more examples, tentatively explored some thoughts in my journal and with a few close friends, took a step or two back, looked some more, opened some more, explored some more.
It wasn’t arguments, persuasive or otherwise, that got me to either one of the extremes. It wasn’t proofs and reports. It wasn’t people railing against what I believed. It was hearing and listening, little bits at a time. It was done in my own time. It was opening doors, just a crack here and there, testing things out. It was seeking out confirmation other peoples’ experience, through books and websites. It was two steps forward and one step back.
You can’t whack people over the head and expect them to change immediately. You can’t try to argue them out of a corner they have painted themselves into. You can’t force the truth onto them. It takes awhile to change a mindset. I had to overcome internal resistance to the fact that I might be wrong. This is never easy. To admit I might be wrong takes courage, even if I am just admitting it to myself.
So don’t lambaste, don’t rail, don’t argue. Don’t try to force the door open because what will happen is that those Christians, with their integrity at stake, with their whole belief system and world view in jeopardy will lock that door with multiple locks, they will jam a chair up under the doorknob, they will alert the authorities that someone is trying to force their way in and they will close themselves off even more.
Instead, try some compassion. Remember that a lot of us were there at one time, too. Make suggestions. Offer different ways of looking at things. Be an example. Share your story. Instead of trying to force the door open, slip a little note under the door. Maybe they will read it, if not now, then later.
Here is my note for now:
Dear Christian,
Things are so much simpler when you look at life from a natural point of view instead of a spiritual one. Here is my world view:
  • There are no supernatural beings – not Gods, not angels, not demons
  • There are no miracles, no mystical elements, no revelations
  • Natural phenomena is… natural, things happen because they do
  • Humanity is beautiful - there is more good in the world than bad
  • We live, we die, we create our own meaning in life
Try walking around one day with that view of life and see what happens.

[First published by Theresa Jan. 17, 2007]

117 comments:

Anonymous said...

"They are nearly impossible to talk with rationally (about religion, especially theirs) and they are dead set in their ways"

Kinda like athiest?

"Having been a Christian myself, I know from personal experience that “proving” to a Christian that they are wrong doesn’t work"

How many athiest did you try to prove wrong as a Christian?

"The reason it is so hard is because of their mindset, their world view, their beliefs and the assurance that they are right."

Kinda like atheist?

"but that is another problem with Christianity – there are just too darn many variations. Some believe this, some believe that, some are adamantly opposed to this teaching and others are adamantly opposed to that teaching."

Do all atheist believe the exact same things... do you all have exactly the same views about everything?

"That is one of the reasons I started taking a close look at my own beliefs, because of the many factions of Christianity."

Then to be fair and logical shouldn't you take a close look at your now atheistic beliefs, considering that not all atheist see eye to eye on every aspect of their religion of humanism/egoism?

"You can’t lambaste someone into changing their beliefs; it only makes them more defensive"

I see a lot of "lambasting" on this site towards Christians?

"Remember that a lot of us were there at one time, too."

Remember that alot of us believer's were once atheist/agnostic.

"Things are so much simpler when you look at life from a natural point of view instead of a spiritual one"

In other words, you're telling us that your view/opinion is the right one and ours is wrong? Have you considered that spiritual views might come easier for some? What's simpler for one may not be simpler for another. Besides, sometimes the right way isn't always going to be the easy/simple way.

"There are no supernatural beings – not Gods, not angels, not demons
There are no miracles, no mystical elements, no revelations
Natural phenomena is… natural, things happen because they do
Humanity is beautiful - there is more good in the world than bad
We live, we die, we create our own meaning in life"
And your proof is?
"Try walking around one day with that view of life and see what happens"

"view"... I think I just got my answer from my previous question. I'm sorry but that(a view) just isn't a good enough reason for me to turn my back on my Creator.

Shalom

Boss Foxx said...

A theist asking for proof. Does that count as irony?

Anonymous said...

Hello. Well, I've never commented on a blog before, but I just had to comment to your article here. I am a Christian, and I would have to say I understand a lot of the things you are saying. I really don't want to try to "re-convert" you... you are not a project or anything like that! I just want to suggest something that has been on my mind. Christianity is not (or SHOULD not be) about religion. Religion is a set of rules that will not save a person. I agree with you that it is really dumb how "Christians" argue about denominations and doctrine... it greatly saddens me. I agree with you that Christians need to try having some compassion. And... well, I really don't know what I'm getting at here. But here's my take on having a relationship with Christ: It is based on faith and faith alone. I can't see the heart of any person, and I cannot judge. Jesus did not shut anyone down... and I do not want to do that either. I think that, for the most part, the image that Christianity has taken is not what Christ intended. I can see how it is easy to be turned off of Christianity all together... and all I can say is people mess up... I mess up... and I'm sure the people around me have seen many discrepancies, and all I can do is pray that my faults will not get in the way of them seeing who Christ truly is. And, well, I guess that's all I have to say. I don't want to be one of those Christians who lock the door, stick a chair under the doorknob and go screaming to the authorities! Hopefully something of what I have said will make some sense. And if this is not something you want to hear, well, forget I ever commented.

Anonymous said...

---ohhh... come to think of it, Jesus did "shut down" the pharisees and sadducees... but what I meant is that he never turned anyone away.

Anonymous said...

Look Mr Anonymous, I don''t want to be rude here as I am sure you are well intentioned, but that line is nothing new. Yeah, yeah, Religion is bad, spirituality is good...yada, yada, yada.

Semantics. Or as we say in Australia, "Same sh*t, different bucket."

By removing yourself, your church or your version of Christianity from the firing line, you are simply not owning the flaws she pointed out in her article and more than that, giving evidence for what she said in the latter part.

evolutionary soul said...

Yeah, I see what you are saying and understand all of it; all of what you said is very simple.

I guess I'm simply waiting on a skeptic to give good reason for being a skeptic.

I've been waiting a long time.

Back in the days of my skepticism I was a frustrated individual. Skepticism just seemed so weak to me... so very anti-intellectual. I would sit at my desk pouring over books with a bitter taste on my tongue (like that last sip of coffee at the bottom of the mug... cold... gross... unappetizing).

"Skepticism is just such a goddamned cop-out!" I thought.

"An abdication of responsibility."

"A lack of intellectual consistency and integrity."

"I'm no better than the religiosities. Yeah, they can't make sense of God, but neither can I make sense of not-God.

"I mean, they don't seem to have much proof, but can my empirical sense really be trusted? especially when it is so easily deceived?"

Either way... after much time spent in skepticism of religion and God as well as much time spent being skeptical of skepticism, I had a great epiphany and, well, yadda, yadda, yadda I'm really tired today.

Benny said...

evolutionary soul,

Could you please explain why you classify skepticism as:

- weak
- anti-intellectual
- a "goddamned cop-out"
- an abdication of responsibility
- lacking in intellectual consistency and integrity

...?

What did you mean when you said "neither can I make sense of not-God"? Do you mean it's hard to see how the world came about without God? Or something else?

It seems to me that theists too have to believe that the senses are trustworthy. After all, how did the authors of the Bible receive their revelations, if not through their senses? Or do you believe that they received revelation through divine inspiration? If so, how is divine inspiration less easily deceived than empirical senses? How do you know that the authors of the Bible weren't simply tricked by the Flying Spaghetti Monster?

Anonymous said...

The comments from the religious about this blog show a real problem that I encounter every time I try to discuss religion and atheism with a Christian friend. Christians just do not understand what atheism is, or more appropriately is not, and try to put it into a religious context that they do understand. I think that many of the typical false claims by Christians about atheism are encouraged by apologist literature and are meant to shut down any conversation. Absolutely.

Shadrach, which is more egoist, believing humans are part and parcel of the natural world, a component if you will? Or that the universe was created by an invisible supernatural being specifically for humans to dominate?

Evolutionary Soul, you could replace the word skepticism with the word religion in your comments and they would make more sense. In fact you are only recycling the arguments skeptics use against religion. That is another common tactic from Christians. Taking what the skeptic says, twisting it around and distorting the meaning, and throwing it right back. Why? I suppose because there is nothing really strong to support religious belief. And again to stop the conversation.

You can not talk about religion with most believers.

Dennis said...

I suppose because there is nothing really strong to support religious belief.

Wouldn't it be nice for a change to see an athiest make a case for their beliefs by presenting evidence for it instead of just tearing down the views of Christians. It seems to me that athiests believe that by tearing down Christianity, this somehow proves athiesm. Kind of like the insecure bully that has to build his own self esteem by beating up other kids. Tearing down others' belief systems doesn't make your any more right.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Anonymous here. I guess it didn't come across that I AGREED with a lot of what theresa said. You are right: I did "own" a lot of what was said... I am admitting it as a problem in modern Christianity. Anyways, forget I ever blogged. I've been told that the trap of blogging is that it is really easy to vent and then hide behind your keyboard, and I am obviously succeptible to that as well.

es said...

Dennis, you say "wouldn't it be nice for a change to see an athiest make a case for their beliefs by presenting evidence for it instead of just tearing down the views of Christians. "

If you are interested at all, there is a lot of evidence posted online, here and on other sites. Try this one: Why I am not a Christian Actually, it's more the LACK of evidence for theism that convinces most atheists that religion is false.

I don't see Theresa's post as "tearing down Christianity" so much as marveling at the beliefs from an objective naturalist point of view, and offering an alternative.

Benny said...

Dennis,

Do you believe in the Tooth Fairy? I'm going to assume that you don't. Can you produce evidence that conclusively proves that the Tooth Fairy does not exist?

I hope you see what I'm saying here. If someone believes that X exists, then the burden of proof is on that person to present evidence that X exists. The burden is NOT on the disbeliever to produce evidence that X does not exist.

Atheism is just the idea that the evidence we have doesn't support the claim that God exists. There's no evidence required for this idea. The same way that you don't require evidence to "prove" your disbelief of the Tooth Fairy.

Calling atheists insecure bullies for challenging Christianity is the same as me calling you an insecure bully if you told someone the Tooth Fairy doesn't exist.

Dennis said...

Es,

I looked at the link you provided, and as I suspected, there was just more of the same stuff we see here. Christian bashing isn't the same as providing evidence for your belief in no god.

Benny,

No, I don't believe in the tooth fairy but your analogy falls apart because I don't spend hours of my time each week bashing people who do believe.

If I wanted to defend my position that the tooth fairy doesn't exist, I would explain how a child's parent can sneak into their room and night a substitute the extracted tooth for a gift.

It would be nice if atheists spent less time bashing other people's beliefs and more time supporting their own belief of how our universe and life came into existence if it wasn't by some supernatural entity.

Benny said...

Dennis,

The point of the analogy is that when someone makes a claim that X exists, the burden of proof is on that person to produce evidence in support of the claim, the disbeliever doesn't need to produce evidence in support of disbelief, and how many hours you do or don't spend disproving the Tooth Fairy has no bearing on this.

You have a very plausible explanation for the Tooth Fairy, but it's not evidence that the Tooth Fairy doesn't exist. And you still seem to think that evidence must be required in order to not believe in something. So please, what is your evidence that the Tooth Fairy doesn't exist? In the same vein, please provide evidence that *proves* that the Greek pantheon, the Flying Spaghetti Monster, and Santa Claus does not exist. If you can't do so, then by your reasoning, you have no basis for not believing in all those things.

Also, it seems like you think atheists all have the same ideas about how the universe and life came into existence. That's actually not the case; different atheists have different positive beliefs about those subjects. The only idea all atheists share is that what we know doesn't support the idea that God exists.

If you wish to discuss the shortcomings of current scientific theories concerning how the universe and life came into being, I'd be happy to try to oblige.

EJ said...

There are 2 anons here. I am the insecure bully.

Dennis, I really don't feel like I attacked or bashed your beliefs at all. In fact I did not mention anyones beliefs. I was talking about a communication problem. Rightfully so. A Christian's belief, for the most part, makes it impossible for him to consider anything else. To do that would mean doom. Anyway it's my experience that religion is generally not to be questioned.

You cannot prove the non-existence of something that never shows up. The burden of proof is on the one who makes the positive claim. If I say I saw a flying horse last night you are going to say prove it. And if someone tells me that a god wants me to burn in hell, never mind that I volunteer my time and give to charity, they better have some good proof of that god's existence.

Anonymous said...

With regard to anyone religious (not just Christians) I liken a debate to putting the N.Y. Yankees on a lineless, unenclosed field with the N.E. Patriots and telling them to play each other. But how could they? One is a baseball team and the other a football team; they play by two totally different sets of rules. Such a game would be impossible.

The same is true with atheists and the religious. We say that, without empirical evidence, we will not subscribe to a faith. The religious on the other hand pick a belief system and commit their lives to it, accepting it as if they had all the empirical evidence in the world but caring not one iota that they don’t have a shred of proof.

No disrespect to the religious intended, but let’s say that I tell you that I believe in Santa Claus. Can you prove me wrong? No. You can tell me that we’ve seen the North Pole and there’s no little elf-filled workshop there, to which I will say that it’s invisible to unbelievers. You will say that no one could traverse the world in one night visiting children and delivering toys, and I would say that he can because he has special powers. You’d say “but no one has seen him” and I’d say that it doesn’t mean that he isn’t there.

Maybe then you’d ask a hard question… what about the sick and hungry children who are dying of poverty around the world as we speak… what does he do for them? Sad, I will say, but they do not believe in Santa so he cannot visit them. But if we send people to these countries to tell these little children about Santa, they will believe and then he can help them.

The fact is, when I was a child, I left cookies and milk for Santa every Christmas Eve, and you know what? They had always been eaten the next morning, and Santa usually even left a thank-you note. How often have you gotten that level of direct response from your god? Santa accepted my offering and gave me a personal written response!

You couldn’t prove me wrong, but the fact is you probably wouldn’t even try. At first you’d think I was joking; no rational adult believes in Santa Claus. Once you found out that I was serious, you’d think I was a few packages shy of a full sleigh load and you’d probably start to avoid me. But bottom line, you’d realize the futility of arguing with me because – with regard to Santa – the voice of reason isn’t something that I want to hear.

So then this is my position on talking to the religious: it is futile and so I avoid it. It is futile because we do not play by the same rules, and therefore no one can gain ground with the other. It is futile because I cannot prove that there is no Yahweh, Allah, Odin, Zeus, Osiris, Sasquatch, Loch Ness Monster, or Santa Claus… and neither can you. And perhaps above all, it is futile because the believer does not want to know the truth.

evolutionary soul said...

Benny,

I didn't classify skepticism as anything... I merely presented how I perceived skepticism while a skeptic. It was more an emotive expose than intellectual case against skepticism.

Eric said...

Atheism merely takes into account the very lack of positive evidence that religion is capable of disregarding. Atheism does not come with proscribed moralities or systems of belief.

The Burden of Proof is not an affront to your or anyone's belief, though I have come to believe that as finding such an obligation "offensive," the one asked to defend his position acknowledges that lack of evidence and is therefore terrified to open the "crack in the wall" and commit what would be considered "thoughtcrime."

EJ said...

Nicely put D. Allen Ramsey. Nice analogy. Sometimes I just can't help myself. The whole topic of belief is just so darned interesting.

es said...

Dennis,

If you consider the material in the link I provided as "Christian bashing" then I'd have to say that is clearly and only because you do not like the material and its conclusions. If I question your beliefs, show you evidence that you are possibly mistaken, and demonstrate that the evidence we have points to a different conclusion, how is that bashing anyone?

Neither do I think it is atheist bashing when a Xian seeks to impress me with his worldview by showing me his "evidence"...quotes because I cannot think of anything outside of the Bible (which I do not consider objective evidence) that any Xian has ever provided as proof of their worldview.

It may surprise you to know that atheists spend time trying to de-program theists not because we get our kicks from being mean to people, but because most of us sincerely want to help people live a better life. It makes me very angry and sad that people waste the one life they have doing stupid and trivial things in the expectation that there will be some eternal reward in an afterlife that we have zero evidence for. I am speaking here as someone who believed in a god and an afterlife for 46 years.

More INFORMATION for the seekers of truth at Ebon Musings

Anonymous said...

Boss Fox... way to avoid the question. Is that the superior "intelligence" (that atheist claim to have)at work? It would be more convincing if you or anyone here could actually answer that question sincerely with a "reasonable, rational,logical and higher-educated" (as you guys claim to have)reply.

Anonymous #2... my first response was not anything that I read from apologetic literature. I read the Scriptures and have a relationship with Yahweh, He has blessed me with reason, rationale, and logic to come up those thoughts and questions without someone else's influence. I could turn your statement right back at you and say that many of the typical false claims by atheist about Christianity are encouraged by athiestic philosopher's and professor's and are meant to shut down any conversation. Absolutely.

To address your question to me, whether atheist will admit this or not, atheism is a religion of egoism... you decide to make yourself/man a god instead of choosing to serve and inquire of The Creator.

Benny... "The burden is NOT on the disbeliever to produce evidence that X does not exists."

Uhh... is this a blog centered around debunking Christianity created by a church of about 15 members?

"what is your evidence that the tooth fairy doesn't exist"

How many adults do you know that believe in the tooth fairy verses how many adults do you know that believe in The Creator? Is that really a reasonable, rational, educated analogy?

"The only idea all atheists share is that what we know doesn't support the idea that God exists."

So then is Theresa's point of differing opinion's within Christianity a good debunk of Yah's existence considering that the only common thread with all atheist is that they don't believe in Yah's existence? Doesn't all of Christianity have the common thread of believing in Him?

D. Allen Ramsey...Is Santa a good analogy? Written historical evidence that Santa is a myth combined with parent's eventually telling their kids that they are indeed "Santa" verses written historical evidence of Yah's existence+ people's personal testimonies/miracles+ fulfilled Scriptual prophecies. How many adults do you know that still believe in Santa?

To the atheists:
I truly believe you when you say you don't believe in His existence, I know... I was in your place at one time. Thankfully I wasn't so closed as to reject the Truth when presented to me. Can you honestly discount so many people's testimonies, miracles done in his Name, and fulfilled Scriptual prophecies as having absolutely no validity whatsoever? Those things are far more proof of His existence than the proof you bear of His non-existance being so because you say so.

Selah

Eric said...

Theism has none of the qualities of religious belief: No doctrinal laws, no rituals, no heirarchial positions, no "sacred texts," or any such things.

The only thing atheists share in common is the disbelief in any god(s) or supernatural phenomena.

The Bible, contrary to popular opinion, is not at all a historical reference, but is merely a collection of literature, as would be Homer's Oddysee, The Iliad, The Lord of the Rings, but it has more in common (especially Deuteronomy and Leviticus, among other "books") with post-WW2 "dystopian" literature, societies that we should avoid creating or returning to.

Judging from his actions in the "scripture," I would say, along with Richard Dawkins, that your Yahweh is truly the most egotistical, vain, whimsical, UNloving, UNcaring, merciless, hateful, destructive, totalitarian character in all of literature, and it is extremely distressing how human beings could worhip such a villain of that magnitude. In most literature, the villain gets his due, but in the Bible, the villain is the central figure and is rewarded with with complete control in this "book" over all humans, whom he clearly manipulates into annihilation and abysmal suffering and pain. The human characters in The Bible praise him and worship him, but they are continually consumed and destroyed, enslaved, and killed, and engineered to suffer even after god disposes of them in a fiery prison god has created for this specific, downright Evil, end.

Jesus, though percieved as White and Good, fixes nothing. He too, talks of the fate of human beings who do not simply believe in him.

-------------------------------

We do raise ourselves up as our own gods: Masters of our own lives, and of the world we NOW live in. We do human good not simply because of reward or command, but of simple inner motivation and a genuine desire to do good.

The human mond is truly the best thing we have: From science, art, philosophy, and literature, we THINK, DEBATE, and CHALLENGE. Religion encompasses none of these things, and forces a believer to forgo his or her mind, to let go of the most powerful thing he or she will ever have, and submit in full to a heirarchial figure or an imaginary Big Brother.

Why abase oneself to an imaginary entity? "OH I AM NOTHING! MY GOD IS ALL!"

People need spirituality, yes, but they do not need religion.

Christianity is unhealthy as both a spiritual practice and as a religion.

As a spiritual practice, Christianity does much harm to the individual conscience, as anything that does harm to the practitioner is deemed as Virtuous, and anything that is pleasurable, deemed Sinful, and included in this disastrous equation, suicide is an ultimate "no-no," leaving one who desires to be moral not only to perpetually suffer, but to enjoy it too, merely for a percieved reward that one could simply have in the here-and-now. During the middle ages, all people under the Catholic Church (the only Christian denomination in existence at the time) lived simply to die. This is what Christians in Rome under Constantine and soon after, in Spain under King Phillip, in Britain (late 1800s- early 1920s) have done, and are now doing in the United States (Kevin Phillips, American Theocracy). Resulting from this widespread desire to die and be rewarded for a "virtuous" life is that human societies and beautiful civilizations stagnate, rot, and collapse. One's children are left simply to be miseducated and thus to drag along a dreary life, have children (WHY!?), and allow this degrading cycle to continue until someone stops it. There were no scientific advancements from 500 BCE to 1500 BCE simply because this mindset endured for that long (American Theocracy).

There is no such thing as religion, really, as history has proven, as it really is simply a political ideology. In the United States, there is a vast thinly-veiled "Christian Reconstructionist" movement seeking to use the primitive-dystopian social model of the Old Testament as a political organization. www.frederickclarckson.com has a link about what Christian Reconstruction is. Kevin Phillips in American Theocracy gives some detail as to who is involved (one is our President).

Eric said...

LOL I'm sorry: The first word is a typo - my finger slipped: Atheism.

Benny said...

shadrach,

"Uhh... is this a blog centered around debunking Christianity created by a church of about 15 members?"

I'm not sure what your point is; could you please explain?

"How many adults do you know that believe in the tooth fairy verses how many adults do you know that believe in The Creator? Is that really a reasonable, rational, educated analogy?"

The number of people that believe in an idea has no bearing whatsoever on whether it's rational to believe that idea. At one point, most people thought that the Earth was flat, but that turned out not to be the case. So yes, I do believe my comparison of belief in the Tooth Fairy and the Creator is reasonable, rational, and educated.

But if you prefer, how about this comparison instead? Here are some estimates of the number of adherents of major religions. I don't know which you adhere to, so I've tried to cover all the major players.

Christianity - 2.1 billion
Islam - 1.3 billion
Hinduism - 1 billion
Buddhism - 376 million
Judaism - 14 million

I don't know which you belong to, but no matter which it is, you are outnumbered by the people who don't subscribe to your particular religion. So what is your evidence that *proves* that everyone else is wrong? What is your basis for thinking that you have it right and all these other people have it wrong?

"So then is Theresa's point of differing opinion's within Christianity a good debunk of Yah's existence considering that the only common thread with all atheist is that they don't believe in Yah's existence? Doesn't all of Christianity have the common thread of believing in Him?"

First, the fact that disbelief in God is the only shared idea among atheists poses no problems because that disbelief is all there is to atheism.

Second, her point wasn't that the large number of Christian denominations debunks Christianity. What she said was that it's one of the reasons she began taking a closer look at her own beliefs, because she couldn't be sure that her denomination had it all right. Please make sure you understand what she said before trying to refute it.

"I truly believe you when you say you don't believe in His existence, I know... I was in your place at one time. Thankfully I wasn't so closed as to reject the Truth when presented to me. Can you honestly discount so many people's testimonies, miracles done in his Name, and fulfilled Scriptual prophecies as having absolutely no validity whatsoever? Those things are far more proof of His existence than the proof you bear of His non-existance being so because you say so."

Please knock off the condescending tone. It wouldn't do anything for the dialogue if I said, "thankfully I wasn't so deluded as to believe in God when presented to me".

For every Christian testimony, miracle, or prophecy you cite, I can cite another one from a different religion. So again, what is your evidence that proves that all the other religions are wrong, that their testimonies, miracles, and prophecies are all false, and yours are all true?

Which atheist has said "God does not exist because I said so"? I don't think you understand atheist arguments very well if you think that's the underlying principle.

evolutionary soul said...

So does anyone have a valid argument against theism yet? or was supplying such not the point of the particular discussion?

John W. Loftus said...

There are plenty of arguments, es. But whether people see them as good ones will depend upon, well, how they see them. It's all about "seeing" in my opinion, as I think Theresa was saying. Most all people see things depending upon when and where they were born.

Julia Sweeney tells us to do the same thing Thersa did. She put on her "no God" glasses for a few minutes, and then decided to put them on an hour a day just to see what life looked like. As she did this she started putting them on more and more, until she just saw things differently.

Having been on both sides of the fence I can tell you it's much better over here. Try doing what Thersa and Julia say. Try seeing things from their perspective. Can theists do this? Many of them simply will not try, because of the fear of hell. That's really too bad. Hell is the cradle to grave intimidation for a believer.

Anonymous#2 and EJ said...

Hi Shadrach

I believe in your belief in your relationship with YAHWEH. Although I am confused how you could say that you came your conclusions using reason. I think that is another roadblock in believer/non-believer communication. Both parties do not agree on the meanings of words. To me, believing that a source is the truth because that same source states that it IS the truth is not reason.

Your statement about you turning my statement around and throwing them back at me is in fact exactly what you did and it did indead shut down the conversation.

I am sure that there are plenty of false statements made by non-believing philosophers and professors that I have to navigate. That's the thing. I don't have all the answers. I have very few answers really. I admit that their are probably many things that I believe that are not true. I'm ok with that. I'm willing to question. I am willing to put aside. I find meaning in the search. So now all theists that read this can drop the argument that all atheists think that they are more intelligent and have all the answers. We don't.

I admit that my first post was cold in tone and I apologize for it. But I stand behind my statements.

Eric I enjoyed your post. I have to admit I was confused for a minute by the typo.

evolutionary soul said...

Greetings Mr. Loftus,

As one, too, who has been on both sides, I argue it is much better over here.

This, I think, was what I attempted to insinuate with previous comments though, with a read-over, I can see how my ambiguity would not communicate well my intentions.

I agree with you, sir, and your observation concerning how one "sees" (as you say) or perceives data, experience, etc.

That is a truly honest observation. It is imperative for people, I think, to realize most of our conclusions are based on perception of data/information rather than the actual data/information.

I'm of the opinion one must do his or her honest best with the data/information and make a decision.

This is something that truly enticed me about the Scriptures. The case as presented by God is constantly one of choice. This is the case from Genesis 1 to Revelation 22.

This blog is very interesting to me primarily because it is people who considered themselves to be "Christians" or "Religious" or whatever and are not "not"... nothing more or less than simply "not".

I was happy to read your response because I think it has been the most honest I have heard to date from any Atheist (be they critical or otherwise).

I agree with you on your final point, as well, concerning the fear most theists are known for having of hell. It bites that your experience is one of a people who fear hell rather than the experience of a people who love life and are excited about the opportunity to continue living.

Me? I don't fear hell. I simply love living and love living free (be it free of burdens, worry, fear, the unknown, etc.). To a great extent this is the reason I walk alongside Jesus.

As one who has been on both ends of the spectrum (and places in-between the spectrum as well), my experience of life is much greater from my standpoint overlooking the hills and valleys of existence.

And, ultimately, this is the way I think God intends and intended it from the very beginning. God conceals God just enough and reveals God just enough.

No coercion. No obligation. No pressure.

Just survey the landscape of life and choose.

It is as the ancient is known for saying:

Choose for yourself whom you will serve. As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.

Eric said...

EJ: I was terribly worried that my typo would jeopardize my post, and even more perturbed when I discovered that there was no "edit" button :S

Obviously I have been overlooked, judging from posts after mine. The only way ES could have posted what he did, (see the post directly above this one) is if he disregarded my post pointing out much endorsment of unlove and immorality that is found throughout his moral guide. Please tell me I am not the only one who views the OT societies as primitive-dystopian, not to be sought but to be avoided (even as the Christian Reconstructionist movement in Washington burns the Constitution page by page).

Have I provided insufficient evidence to the point that Christianity is inherently misanthropic?

evolutionary soul said...

Greetings Eric

I'm sorry you feel I have overlooked or unjustifiably rejected your airtight case against "[my] moral guide".

I suppose I would have given it more consideration if you could have presented a case not saturated in a purely Western mindset.

What you did instead was offer reasons/ing with little or no demonstratable understanding of the culture audience during the time, what is known as, the Old Testament was authored.

On top of this, not only do you fail to demonstrate even an elementary understanding of the time or culture during which, what is known as, the Old Testament events took place, you seem unable to care less that you lack such understanding.

Instead, the case you construct does little more than employ the logical fallacy ad homenem ad nauseum. You do well to quote Dawkins, for the primacy of his "rebuke" of Christianity is based on the same fallacy.

There is no logic supplied in your argument. I see no rationality in the arguments nor do I perceive a standard of quality in your critique; the case is established on negative emotional response coupled (and even catalyzed) by a poor understanding of culture, history, philosophy and theology.

The arguments you present are uneducated generalizations with no real justification whatsoever.

Eric,sir, I would like to give your case honest and objective consideration; this, however, proves impossible for your argument is neither honest nor objective.

EJ said...

Evolutionary Soul,

I'm not following your response to Eric's post. If you would elaborate on where you think Eric is wrong in his understanding of culture, history, philosophy and theology, I would greatly appreciate it.

I look forward to it.

Anonymous said...

Hi I'm Chris,

You make decent points until you assert with confidence there is no God. The problem I have is that you were once confident there was a God. If you were confident then and now are wrong, then how can anyone trust your confidence there is no God. You may be making yet another mistake. You are a micro spec on a rock in a universe without known measure. The scientific assumption is surely, 'I cannot say whether there is a creator God or not', I don't know.

Rusty Cuyler said...

The scientific assumption is surely, 'I cannot say whether there is a creator God or not', I don't know.

We have a winner! That is precisely the point.

While it's true atheists do often say, "there is no god," just about all of us will concede that we really don't know. Which is why we bring up things like Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy and the FSM: just like you, we can't actually prove that those things don't exist, either.

But we bring such widely dismissed myths up in order to prove the point that the probability for their existence-- given the complete lack of irrefutable, empirical evidence for said existence-- is so vanishingly small as to render them nonexistent.

I'm open minded enough to admit that I don't know, so yes, it's possible that some supernatural being created the universe (although I'd simultaneously point out that such a conclusion is not absolutely necessary).

That's not the problem, I suppose, if we're all being intellectually honest. The problem is something Theresa touched on in her original post-- even if we concede the fact that we can't prove the non-existence of a gawd, we still have to make a choice-- among various deities, holy books and myriad interpretations of same. Consequently, that winds up being a factor in many atheists' rejection of all religious truth claims.

So once again, if we're being intellectually honest and Theist A is arguing that his/her particularly truth claims are really, really, really the truth, but Theist B is arguing that even a slightly variant set of truth claims is really, really, really the truth . . . and (quite especially) if they're both arguing their case based on the same holy book . . . I think it's easy enough to see where this leads, provided you are open minded enough to at least listen to the arguments both theist A and B make to support their case.

What emrges then, is a recognition that both sides are so assured that they possess THE TRUTH-- yet no matter how brilliantly and eloquently they both argue their sides, neither is willing to concede that there is anything more than one absolute TRUTH, and while they may actually agree on many points, the two belief systems are ultimately irreconcilable.

Consequently, the rational conclusion arrived at by an impartial observer who is hoping to be ultimately persuaded by either Theist A or Theist B winds up addressing this from evolutionary soul:

I guess I'm simply waiting on a skeptic to give good reason for being a skeptic.

One reason (among many others), then, is this-- both of the above hypothetical theists, in addition to asserting their version of truth as THE TRUTH, will cite the source of said TRUTH as being an omnipotent and omniscient deity. How is it possible that any but one version of THE TRUTH could emerge by way of this omnipotent and omniscient deity? Why would an omnipotent and omniscient deity go to the trouble of actually attempting to communicate his will and his truth, etc. to humans if it could turn out to be so easily misinterpreted, etc.?

Given that you are probably convinced that your version of THE TRUTH is the correct version of THE TRUTH-- as Theresa points out above-- you'll no doubt reject it as a reason for akepticism. But for anyone who is genuinely looking for THE TRUTH, and for anything that could pass as empirical evidence verifying THE TRUTH, it's a perfectly logical and valid reason to be skeptical of any given theist's truth claims.

Eric said...

ES: Your lack of attention to history is blatantly apparent.

My attack on Christianity is multi-faceted:
1) The Bible as literature as compared with popular conventions of literature, 2) The Bible, as examined as literature and the implications of holding it up as a "superior moral guide" and that celebration's countless inevitable blunders
3) The misunderstanding of Jesus as an all-good literary/moral figure
4) The historical implications of the attitude towards life that Christianity purports, and lastly,
5) the political implications of Christianity's involvement of United States policy, which really does make religion look like a fatal disease to nations where it has a significant holding on the society (like Spain during the Inquisition, the downfall of Rome after Constantine, Iran under Ayatollah Khomeini, and Afghanistan under the Taliban).

EJ said...

I am reading a book at the moment about how we view issues and present arguments through frames. Cognitive science. Theresa's list of what Christians believe is a highly detailed frame that Christian's use. Anything that does not fit the frame is easily tossed aside. Non-believers should learn how to use and understand frames better so we are not just defending against the same believer arguments and to frame our views in a light that shows them as they are. Positive, humanistic and concerned about the world.

Anonymous said...

Guys, why do u feel like u need to prove christianity wrong and defend atheism? I could never understand that. Look, I am both a christian and an open minded person. Yes, they are rare, but they do exist. If u have something better, tell me. Im not sure if u do. If we all die and become dust anyway, why not live a good life filled with love and caring? Why not wake up with a purpose to love and share it? I am completely fulfilled as a christian. U may be too. But if u want me to leave my faith, offer me something better.
Love u all
James

Cyle said...

In the previous comment, the poster wrote:
"why not live a good life filled with love and caring? Why not wake up with a purpose to love and share it?"
I agree with this.

If you (the reader, not the above commenter) are a Christian, you probably believe that God is infinite. God is in everything. This is good! But you should also consider that, if God is infinite, there are probably infinite pathways to God. You have found your road. Continue down if you know in your heart that it is the road you are supposed to be traveling.

In the same way, every person should follow his or her own path, the path of the heart. If that is Christianity, then that is the right path. If it is not, then it is also the right path, because Christianity is not the path for that particular person.

The path of the pure heart is just that: pure; and thus leads to love and purpose.

There is a voice within us all, the voice of conscience. Scientifically, the super-ego. In a Christian's view, God's voice. It's all the same, at its core. Just as all religions, at their core, are the same, and the morals of religions (most simply "be a good person in every way") are held even by those who reject or just don't follow a religious doctrine.

So, in a sense, we all (or most of us, I suppose) support the same thing, we just argue about its presentation.

If you follow your heart, you will find yourself in the place that is right for you.

Peace =)

Brian said...

Changing "beliefs" is all about sales psychology if you compare the two processes. A good book on the "sales psychology" is "Question Based Selling" by Thomas Freese. Nothing to do with religion, and all to do with "sales" - persuasion.

The more you push, the harder the resistance. (This is a simple sales technique to make note of.)

Another very key point or phrase is that "People will not argue with their own data." This means that if you create the process of uncovering needs and facts in a way that the client answers questions with his/her own statements/beliefs (ones that are in your favor/perspective); than you are gathering "their own data that is in your favor" and you are not trying to forcibly shift their beliefs and ideas.

In the end; unless you see a point in "winning someone to your perspective" what is the necessity of doing so. In sales it is moving a prospect to eventually sell themselves on a need for your product/service. Yet in a religious debate do you/we really have a need to "change their beliefs"? What is the end point, the finish line?

If I have become an agnostic or atheist - do I really have a need to change others, or is this just some ego centered need that is fruitless?

The ego loves to be "right" and loves to "be important" - but what if I am stable in my belief and unbelief - why change someone that from my perspective is "less informed". I see why a Christian wants to change people and convert them, they belief (concretely) that "heaven is the reward" and that more "points" will be "rewarded" for the amount of folks they "convert" - "God will be happier with them eventually."

I guess if they are happy the way they are and I am happy in my life and beliefs, than why should I waste my precious time even initiating a debate over something so esoteric, spiritual, or beyond (what many feel) is human knowledge.

If "God" has a conscience, if "God" is aware of "unbelief", isn't He/She/It aware and kind and smart enough to "forgive" both types of ignorance(s); whichever side of the fence we appear to be on? Brian

bullet said...

I would just like to be accepted and respected as a real person instead of someone who is evil, deluded, lost, angry at god, angry at the church, inherently immoral or amoral, not to be trusted or any of the other things that theists use to stereotype and marginalize non-believers. People I have known my whole life have different opinions about me since I "came out." I'm the same person I was before you knew I was an atheist.

servant said...

This site makes me sad, not angry. I can't imagine walking around believing that this is all there is... that everything "just happens".
How self important are we that we feel the very meaning of life and eternity needs to be explained and proven (or disproven)to us to our satisfaction before we will believe anything? That is the real reason you can't argue with people of faith. That's WHY it's called FAITH.
Am I 100% sure I'm right all of the time? No!, I'm human. Humans are fallible (thus the problems with-in religions) BUT I guess I would rather live my life in faith and service and be wrong than live my life in denial and negativity
and be wrong. Someday we will all know.....Blessings to you all wether you want them or not!

goprairie said...

You say "BUT I guess I would rather live my life in faith and service and be wrong than live my life in denial and negativity
and be wrong."
Well, that would be fine and good IF Christians lived their lives n service, but denying rights to gays and discrimininating against women, trying to get intelligent design taught as science, discriminiationg against Muslims, and on and on, the list goes of things done in the name of christianity that are NOT service. And you DO live a life of denial - denial of the contradicitons and falsehoods that render the bible untrue, denial of freeing your mind to think skeptical thoughts, denial of the basic natural wonder that brought everything into its present form, denial of responsibility to ACT to impelement change instead of falsely praying for it.
And your vague threat that we will know in the end reveals that a core part of you lives in fear of dying and finding your version is not true. Atheists for the most part are free of any such concerns or fears.

Eric Abrahamson said...

This is one of the best atheist statements I've read. "What Christians Believe" reminds me of the oldy moldy Doobie Brothers' hit, "What A Fool Believes," "It all comes down to nothing."

I was a born-again neo-Pentecostal music minister in non-denominational Lighthouse Temple & the associated Sunshine House in Colorado Springs for three years, from 1972-5, until my parents flew out from San Francisco and put me in Belmont Psychiatric Center, the locked ward for four days. There was a Christian man in there who had tried to cut off his
penis (for non-Christians, they preach about Jesus saying "cut off offending members") and people who attempted suicide and lived, slitting their wrists or jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge. My fiancee in the church, Stephanie Winters, with whom I never had sex or even petted below the waist, although both of us were sexually active before our conversions, and I am now bisexual, was committed by her mother to Colorado Pueblo State Mental Hospital at about the same time.

I have had years of therapy, and the church is wrong. For example, they said the "rapture" was coming in 1986, and they're all still here. The pastor's wife, Sister Dunbar, said they used to say Hitler was the Anti-Christ and that the rapture was coming in World War II, and it didn't, and before that in the Thirties, and before that in the teens, and admitted her "doubt" right while she was preaching from the pulpit. She was an old-time white racist Southern cracker cowboy redneck Christian woman, like they all were; Pastor Dunbar didn't graduate from high school because he was in prison for a gun crime, although his father was a Methodist minister who had been excommunicated from the Methodist Church for becoming Pentecostal and had started his own church.

I'd go on, but the Jesus freaks in this place are reading this over my shoulder and screaming at me, but I think she has analyzed it well.

AJCSIV said...

Can I point out that the original post was NOT about prooving atheism {as if that were even possible}.
Athiesm is simply the state of not believing in supernature, I forget where it comes from but there's a brilliant quote that says something along the lines of.
"We're all athiests to some extent, I just choose one less god than you do"

Now, as for a couple other points. Christian Bashing. Yes it did happen a couple of times. But I would like to point out that I'm saying literally, twice, and it was AFTER one of the earlier Christian speakers complained about Christian Bashing. Fact is there's been a lot more 'athiest' bashing than Christian bashing which is unfortunately a pretty big trend {though if I can point out, 'bashing' is subject to the personality of the individual and generalising an individual personality aspect to a body of individuals is rarely accurate}.

Look, I personally, have no problem with people having their own individual beliefs regarding dieties, of any type. I only contend when they posit something illogical or incorrect {AKA, when they try to support their beliefs from the bible when the bible clearly intends the opposite}. If it is not logically consistent, I will immediately point it out, however, though I may argue against properties, belief systems, etc, I have no argument against people HAVING a belief. Atheists have their own beliefs {please note that atheism is not a belief system, the closest you can get is that it is a lack of belief in supernature}.

Now, in an attempt to get back to the original topic.
It is nigh impossible to argue against a religious person's religion and the original post sums up the reasons why rather well. This is why whenever I am engaged in any situation such as what we have here I first try to understand their perspective and then point out the logical inconsitencies and let them draw out their own conclusions. Do I want them to turn Atheist? Or Agnostic? Or convert to a different religion? No, you can retain your religion if you want, just make sure you actually know what it is your believing {something most Christians really don't know}

As for the comment, "why not live a good life filled with love and caring?". Christianity is not necessary for this. Why can't I be an atheist and still live a good life filled with love and caring, and all the other things typically associated to being a 'good Christian'. Granted, religion may be an effective tool to help encourage it, however most anything when manipulated right and given a certain context could do this. In fact, considering the bad rep Christianity/the Church has received, a good deal of other non-religious conceptions could be used to encourage people to "live a good life filled with love and caring".

Oh, and on a rather weird note. One of the earlier statements was regarding the number of people who believed in X constituting an argument for/against X. The tooth fairy and Santa were prime candidates. I quite liked the table given shortly after listing all the different major religions, though you forgot to mention that several of those other religions are more united and Christianity has many opposing denominations {my favourite example is the Christians who hate the pope}. Now, as for the weird bit. I myself had a cult form around me. I did not try to start it, I was not looking for it, yet it happened. I was proclaimed God, was worshipped, got a High priestess, and even more oddly enough there was a lump of 'evidence' to support it, mostly relating to my knowledge of the bible and the amazing coincidences of my name. This cult was never particularly big, and I never really asked whether they seriously believed it or it was just a really amusing joke {I always liked to think of it as the later} though some of them were pretty convincing in their beliefs. The fact is, there was no way to proove that I was God/a god empirically and thus circumstancial and patterned evidence filled the breach in some ways better than other conventional religions. Can you proove them wrong? Not empirically, because if I could be prooved not to be a divinity then by the same means we should be able to prove that there is NO divinity. At least empirically speaking. This is where faith comes in, and, unfortunately, faith can be applied to anything.

As to any arguments {that actually haven't appeared here yet} that faith in God yields spiritual results. If you commit that same faith to something else and believe in it sincerely, you will certainly yield the same results. Even the chemical balances in your brain will alter to match, even if you're worshipping a rock as the non-living embodiment of a rock {doesn't even have to be believed to be divine}.

And I'm going to stop now because this is going to be a long post...

Anonymous said...

All I got out of this persons story was that they had no convictions, were easily swayed, and seemed to look for direction from everyone else except themselves or (while a Christian), God. You can bet 100% that something has happened in this person's life, either to them or to someone close to them, that began the "deconversion" process. Could have been the loss of a loved one, or a friend ostracized because they were gay. Maybe something they did that caused a crisis of faith or such guilt they had to quit religion. Or whatever. Who knows? Maybe just a general disappointment with how they "thought" life should be, and it didn't turn out that way. Either way, just stating that there aren't A, B, C, etc, doesn't make that point of view any more valid than those who claim there are A,B,C, etc. Considering humanity has pretty much always been a religious type of creature over the millenia, it's a bit harder to discredit billions of people, both alive and dead, who over the centuries believed exactly the opposite of the atheist. Part of the argument for the deconversion was listening to others, reading the news, the web. Well, what about the billions just mentioned, their beliefs, their writings, the many brilliant people of faith, science, politics, and power who've believed it too? That's a lot of "other" peoples views too. In the end, it's all a matter of faith and whether or not it matters to you. It's easier to be an atheist or an agnostic than to actually answer to any one person or institution. Doesn't make them evil or incapable of doing good, being moral upright folks. Just means that, if you don't agree with them, they're just as misguided to you, as you are to them. Either we'll ALL know in the end, or none of us will. It's either life after death in some capacity or you wink out and you'll never know it anyway.

Matt said...

This whole debate is pointless. Asking some Christians to consider how ridiculous "faith" is as a concept does not work. If these people truly questioned themselves and the bible, they would notice how wrong they are.

I was one of them, I was raised a Catholic, I had a Catholic education up until university and I went to Sunday school. Gradually, over time, the ridiculousness of what I saw started to dawn. I tried to explain it to my friends, but they could not handle the idea of challenging an idea which they have held as truth their entire lives.

I noticed it similarly when I tried to explain Einstein's special relativity to my father. He was not having it in the slightest (and still won't), because he obviously since birth has never travelled at such speed that his current understanding of time does not hold. It is hard to force people to change perspective in order to find the real answers, and I assure any Christians that finding the truth is much more gratifying than anything a deity or its publicists can provide.

primate1 said...

TO: evolutionary soul et. al.
RE: Skeptic proving to someone, using words, why it is acceptable to be a skeptic.
DISC: Turn the question around and say why god? Now this is simply a logical question, not one based upon any religious denom. If these don't hold up to any kind of challenge, they should be dismissed.

Peter said...

In response to the first comment where Anonymous said there was a lot of lambasting done on this site, I have to say I see no evidence of that!! Unless, of course, you take weighty intellectual arguments pointed out respectfully and carefully that refute your faith as lambasting, but I usually hear it referred to as REASON.

Jonny H said...

To walk around thinking there is no afterlife I think would be depressing knowing that no matter how much meaning I put into my own life it won't mean anything to me at all when I die. I'd be living in the moment for myself and not caring what other people think or what THEIR morals are and just be selfish all my life, disregarding everyone else but myself, because in the end it doesn't even matter who we hurt or how we do things. Isn't that a logical conclusion to atheistic thinking? Where am I wrong? Why should I care about anyone except myself when there are no consequences? On a side note, why do atheists do the right thing? Why are atheists kind or loving at all? What good will it do you anyways? It's all for nothing in the end right? When you die there is nothing that you will care about. No thoughts of how much of a nice guy you were. No thoughts of what a great footprint you left in history or how you changed lives. Atheism has a sad conclusion: Nothing really matters.

Atheist MC said...

On a side note, why do atheists do the right thing? Why are atheists kind or loving at all? What good will it do you anyways?

The depressing thing is this is thrown at atheists all the time. Most (not all) atheists are also humanists. We understand that we live one brief life shared with our contemporaries and handed down to our children. We have evolved as a social species with emotional tools to ensure our survival as such; empathy, passion, love, shame, guilt. In fact all the attributes that religion hijacks to its own ends. Atheists just sidestep the supernatural and embrace their humanity. That is why the atheist is capable of being as moral as the theist, and often more honestly so.

O'Brien said...

"I would say, along with Richard Dawkins..."

Dawkins is worthless.

"During the middle ages, all people under the Catholic Church (the only Christian denomination in existence at the time) lived simply to die. This is what Christians in Rome under Constantine..."

"...which really does make religion look like a fatal disease to nations where it has a significant holding on the society (like Spain during the Inquisition, the downfall of Rome after Constantine..."

It is painfully obvious that you know nothing about Late Antiquity or the Middle Ages.

Trevor Himself said...

How come this is dated 29/8/2010 and the comments run from 2007?

I think your post and the first listed comment just about sum it all up. As the Quakers say "Consider that you might be mistaken". Some Quakers are 'Christian'. Some 'Christians' would not consider Quakers christian. But why all this angst to lambast theist beliefs (or 'experience'?). Might it not be just as useful (and entertaining) to have a blog/website devoted to affirming that 'flat-earthers' are wrong?
Maybe there is something beyond the humanist/naturalist view?
As the brief inhabitants of one tiny corner of one tiny galaxy amongst the billions of galaxies out there we are surely insignificant - but how/why did the 'big bang' (or any other creation) happen - modern physics and cosmology look remarkably like the 'story' according to the ancient Hindu Vedas.
Perhaps the kingdom of heaven is within you and each and every one of us.
Perhaps the ultimate truth is truly unknowable.
Look up Karen Armstrong and "Mister God, this is Anna". Get the last from Amazon or elsewhere and have a little fun reading it.
Is it true? Is the Bible true? (any part of it). Is Darwin 'true'? (For the stupider Americans, of course he is!)
Yes, consider, as I do, that you/I might be mistaken - agnostic/atheist/theist - it's personal (so a personal god exists for anyone who wants one).

O'Brien said...

"So yes, I do believe my comparison of belief in the Tooth Fairy and the Creator is reasonable, rational, and educated."

Thus demonstrating your feeble intellect. You 'proved' something after all!

cneil said...

Don't all of the posts from Christians simply prove the point made by the original article, that
you can't argue with people who have closed minds?

O'Brien said...

"Don't all of the posts from Christians simply prove the point made by the original article, that
you can't argue with people who have closed minds?"

Echo Chamber,

Don't leave cneil's hand stuck in the air!

I am reminded of the cultish group think I encountered when I confronted PZ Myers' hopelessly naive and discredited logical empiricism.

dartigen said...

I have said it before and I will say it again:
All that atheism is is the ack of belief in deities. Atheists do not believe in deities or the supernatural. That is it.

From there, you've got EVERYTHING. Every political philosophy, every life philosophy, every race, every country...
Atheism is not believing in deities or the supernatural. That is atheism. That is all that atheism is.

I think you need to make a post about what atheism is NOT, so that people will stop making assumptions about what atheism is.
Atheism is not humanism.
Atheism is not Darwinism.
Atheism is not science-worship.
Atheism is not a political philosophy.
Atheism is not a religion.

To the first commenter - all atheists follow the philosophy that there are no gods and no supernatural entities.
But not all atheists have the same views on, say, politics. Because politics is not part of atheism. Atheism is simply the belief that there is no god. Everything else is 'not-atheism'. Political views are not atheism. Social views are not atheism. Opinions are not atheism. These things may be influenced by atheism, but are not part of the core philosophy of atheism, which is that there are no gods.
Do all Christians like the same music? No. But music is not part of Christianity. Music may be influenced by Christianity, but music is not part of Christianity's core beliefs. I'm sure not all Christians have the same views on politics or social issues either, because these things are not part of the core beliefs. These things can be influenced by beliefs, but are not part of them.

Refer above: Atheism is not humanism. Humanism is a seperate philosophy to atheism. Atheism can be part of humanism, but it is not the whole.
Not all atheists are humanists, as not all Christians are conservatives, and not all horses are brown. You are generalising.
Though you are correct about believers once being atheists. You did not know there was a God when you were born. You were told that by people around you.

dartigen said...

(continued from previous because my comment was too long)
Atheists criticise Christians not because you are Christians, but because Christians seem to cause a lot of trouble. You are entitled to your beliefs, but when your beliefs lead to other people dying, I am going to criticise them into the next damn century. If Christianity didn't cause so many problems in the world, atheists wouldn't criticise it.

When was the last time you saw an atheist refuse their sick child medical treatment because 'it's against atheism'? When was the last time you saw an atheist start a war? When was the last time you saw an atheist pass a law forcing all non-atheists to at least feign atheism? When was the last time an atheist prevented critical education and medical aid from reaching third-world countries?
If Christianity had never caused a single problem for humanity, then we wouldn't give a rat's ass about it. But a heck of a lot of nasty, nasty things have been done in the name of Christianity, by Christians, who didn't have a problem with what they were doing and never stopped to think about how they were affecting everyone around them.
Some of the bloodiest wars Europe has ever seen have been fought in the name of religion. Thousands of people have been tortured and killed - in the name of religion. Priceless and irreplaceable artefacts have been destroyed - in the name of religion. People living in countries suffering from epidemics of AIDS aren't receiving critical education on AIDS prevention - because of religion. I could go on forever.
Granted, religion has also inspired wonderful art, architecture, music and writing - but there's far more bad than good about it, unfortunately.
That's the problem we have with Christianity, and most other religions too - they cause problems. They cause death, destruction and suffering.
Atheism has never hurt anyone. (Stalin, Mao and Hitler all had other philosophies that led to them doing what they did. Atheism is not a political philosophy. Even if they were religious - which Hitler was, at first - it wouldn't have stopped them. They would have used it as a convenient excuse.)

dartigen said...

(continued again - you caught me in 'verbose mode')

I have learned not to argue about religion with believers. Many will simply not change, even when they know their arguments are invalid. If they want to believe, let them - it's not my problem. When they try to force me to believe, I'll defend myself, but I won't bother trying to change them. I get splitting headaches from just defending my beliefs. Trying to change them would probably land me in hospital. And why should I try? The most basic of university biology courses would do it, and the professors get paid for their trouble.
I stick to atheism because it makes sense. There is no consistent proof of God that cannot be explained with sufficient inquiry and research. For God to proove existence, he must do something that cannot be replicated by science. God has not done that, therefore, God cannot prove that he exists. And how could the Earth and all its infinite complexity just pop into existence? I know that the most complex of our inventions have taken hundreds of years to create, often with the help of previous inventions. to have it all just pop into existence ready-to-go seems silly, especially when we have clear evidence that this isn't how it happened.
And that's just the start of it. I never believed in the first place - because I could see the holes even as a child. I would have been more willing to accept that the world was a computer simulation, or that there really were aliens who wanted to conquer the Earth, than that some sort of invisible spirit controlled the whole world. I did get kicked out of one school, but otherwise lost nothing.
Of course, I reserve the right to laugh at believers when they try to prove to me that God exists, and then promptly refute them with a century's worth of scientific proof. And I don't even have a degree - this is basic high school science I'm using, and I failed science classes three years in a row. It says a lot about their arguments if, in light of that, I can still refute them without even trying.
Humanity could do some truly great things if it would just stop with all this 'God' nonsense and put all that time and money towards something constructive - ending world hunger, for example.

clamat said...

O'Brien said: "Dawkins is worthless."

Well that certainly settles that, then!

Lvka said...

There are no supernatural beings – not Gods, not angels, not demons


How about ghosts?..

Brad said...

"Having been on both sides of the fence I can tell you it's much better over here."

John, I don't think you've been on any side but the one you're on.

You can't grasp what you've never believed - no matter how much you howl to the contrary.

Brad said...

"Don't all of the posts from Christians simply prove the point made by the original article, that
you can't argue with people who have closed minds?"

Sure, if you start with the default notion that any objection to atheism is ipso facto a proof for being "closed minded" - which by the way, is exactly what the premise of this post...and blog..is all about.

John W. Loftus said...

Brad, so let me get this straight.

Ex-Christians like me were never Christians even though we believed and trusted in God for salvation, right? God supposedly promised that if we believe we'll be saved and yet he never kept his promise--that he never saved us even though we believed!? Such logic as this is the logic of a delusion.

Dude, I'm Free said...

@Dennis,

"No, I don't believe in the tooth fairy but your analogy falls apart because I don't spend hours of my time each week bashing people who do believe."

If 200 million people in America believed in the Tooth Fairy and voted according to what this Fairy said 2000-4000 years ago, then yes; you certainly would "spend hours of my time each week" trying to expose such a dangerous delusion.

People today who follow the writings of a bunch of 2000-year-old dead people - who were themselves delusional - and then vote according to said writings are directly damaging America. I used to think Christianity was beneficial for America. Now, after waking up, I see plainly the wreckage it causes.

O'Brien said...

Brad,

I am willing to take Mr. Loftus at his word that he was a Christian (or at least believed himself to be.)

Papalinton said...

Hi Johnny H
You say, ...."Where am I wrong? Why should I care about anyone except myself when there are no consequences?...."

Papalinton
The substance of your proposition in your commentary is as wrong as it is shallow. Who says there are no consequences? And why should you care about anyone except yourself? Because it is the right thing to do. [Even atheists are not so stupid to know that you should and indeed must do good to contribute to society]. You do not need some idiot notion of a spectral numen to keep you on the right path. You seem to be admitting your will power and strength of character is so poorly constructed that you are incapable of exercising good for goodness's sake alone in the interests of your neighbour, in other words you have no moral or ethical compunction to do the 'good samaritan'. And if your standard of morality and ethical behaviour is truly reflected in your statement,
..."I'd be living in the moment for myself and not caring what other people think or what THEIR morals are and just be selfish all my life, disregarding everyone else but myself, because in the end it doesn't even matter who we hurt or how we do things....",

then your life must truly be a hollow shell, a puppet to theism, whose whole moral stance is drawn from the pages of a book famous for the mythological writings of bronze/iron age primitives. Such heavy reliance on this book will never provide you with the strength of character that each of us deserve.
And if you think you are worth a crack at an afterlife and everlasting life after death, this is characteristic of nothing more than a self-centred, egotistical, and selfish attitude of one's 'contribution' in this life.

What's important here, Johnny H, is not searching for a 'meaning of life' [which is a complete red herring], rather it is the search for a 'meaning in life', and you only get one crack at it, this one. You may wish to delude yourself about an afterlife, in a foolish attempt to thwart, or put off or delay the inevitable of all living things. Be a man and face up to it. Who knows, you might grow some balls.

Cheers

O'Brien said...

"People today who follow the writings of a bunch of 2000-year-old dead people"

You appear to suffer from the delusion that just because something is old, it is necessarily false.

"who were themselves delusional"

No.

"and then vote according to said writings are directly damaging America."

No. Neoconservatives (from both parties) have damaged America but neoconservatism has nothing to do with Christianity.

Papalinton said...

Hi Anonymous #1
You say, ...".. Anonymous #2, my first response was not anything that I read from apologetic literature. I read the Scriptures and have a relationship with Yahweh, He has blessed me with reason, rationale, and logic to come up those thoughts and questions without someone else's influence."

Papalinton
You are a child in intellection. Prostration of one's intellectual capacity to a supernatural [read, 'above nature', in other words not natural, 'unnatural'] entity demonstrates an immaturity and only a partially-developed faculty of cognition of responsibility on your part.

And of course you are entitled to use whatever form you wish to support the tenets of your strength character should they be incapable of independence and require propping.

Your statement, ..."I'm sorry but that(a view) just isn't a good enough reason for me to turn my back on my Creator," ....
is childlike. A #1, there is nothing in logic, reason, fact or truth that can appeal to the phantasmal.

Cheers

jimvj said...

Many believers have stated that Christianity is all about FAITH.

So how do you decide what to have FAITH in? There are many religions out there, in case you haven't noticed.

Btw JWL, this is a great blog, but the layout of the comments leaves a lot to be desired. Threading would be really nice, but at the very least, there should be good demarcation of the main post from the comments, and between comments.
Keep up the great work!

Dude, I'm Free said...

@O'Brian,

"You appear to suffer from the delusion that just because something is old, it is necessarily false."

You still believe in the invisible man. Lol.

Back then almost everyone was a moron compared to the average Joe of today. Jesus, an alleged bright guy, could not even create a flush toilet. This imaginary person actually thought that medical issues were caused by invisible creatures. How smart is that? The mythical character never existed. It was created to control the population.

Now, since you are posting your comments, I credit you with being above average. Please keep posting.

"No. Neoconservatives (from both parties) have damaged America but neoconservatism has nothing to do with Christianity."

I didn't mention any political position or party. Your claim could be made about "neoliberalism" or whatever else you want to call it. Anyone making real life decisions based on voices in their head or invisible beings cause harm to our nation. To quote Term 3 "Skynet IS the virus"

The false religion (that was redundant) of Christianity causes otherwise rational and good people to act irrationally. Like you I believed for a long time that it was real. It is not. I really wish you would wake up. No-one knows your thoughts... there is no-one in your head. You are free but you have yet to realize this.

Peace.

O'Brien said...

"You still believe in the invisible man. Lol."

I don't believe in an "invisible man." I accept that an invisible God exists but He is not a man and invisibility != imaginary.

"Back then almost everyone was a moron compared to the average Joe of today."

No.

"Jesus, an alleged bright guy, could not even create a flush toilet."

How troubling!


"This imaginary person actually thought that medical issues were caused by invisible creatures. How smart is that? The mythical character never existed. It was created to control the population."

Only crackpots think Jesus never existed.

"I didn't mention any political position or party. Your claim could be made about 'neoliberalism' or whatever else you want to call it. Anyone making real life decisions based on voices in their head or invisible beings cause harm to our nation. To quote Term 3 'Skynet IS the virus'"

When George Bush went to war with Iraq, the voice he was listening to was Cheney's, and he is not invisible.

"The false religion (that was redundant) of Christianity causes otherwise rational and good people to act irrationally. Like you I believed for a long time that it was real. It is not. I really wish you would wake up. No-one knows your thoughts... there is no-one in your head. You are free but you have yet to realize this."

You are, of course, welcome to your beliefs.

Dude, I'm Free said...

O'Brian,

Only crackpots, huh? You're funny but don't quit your day job.

Seriously, you need to go around the sun another 5-10 times. There are things you likely will not know until you are older.

I am not saying you're a child - you're not. You seem to me to be in 21-39 range with your comments. I could be completely wrong. Based upon what I have witnessed in my life your worldview is from someone in that age-range.

Perhaps I am biased, as what you say now is what I said during that period of my life. The sad thing is, it appears that you need to let this virus run its course... inside your mind. You don't have to, but based on your comments you won't be in a position to help yourself until you live longer.

There are times I have (and unfortunately still occasionally do) make black/white and absolute statements which I later regret.
Saying "Only crackpots think Jesus never existed." is such a statement. It doesn't change anyone's mind.

I'm not joking... there really is no god. Even if there was you cannot provide any evidence that your specific gods (daddy, sonny, casper) are the real ones. You simple can't.

Peace.

Brad said...

Ex-Christians like me were never Christians even though we believed and trusted in God for salvation, right?

Correct, but I believe the term you're looking for is "Ex-Professing Christians."

Merely playing with something is quite different than actual possession.

God supposedly promised that if we believe we'll be saved and yet he never kept his promise--that he never saved us even though we believed!?

Those who believe are saved. Those who don't believe have never believed, and therefore have never had saving faith.

Brad said...

Neoconservatives (from both parties) have damaged America but neoconservatism has nothing to do with Christianity.

It should also be noted, to strengthen this point, that there are many agnostics and atheists within right-wing neoconservativism. It's an ideology (and one could argue a secular religion like liberalism) and it has nothing to do with Christianity. That professing Christians have hijacked it and made it their religion is a whole different can of worms.

GearHedEd said...

Jonny H said,

"...To walk around thinking there is no afterlife I think would be depressing knowing that no matter how much meaning I put into my own life it won't mean anything to me at all when I die. I'd be living in the moment for myself and not caring what other people think or what THEIR morals are and just be selfish all my life, disregarding everyone else but myself, because in the end it doesn't even matter who we hurt or how we do things. Isn't that a logical conclusion to atheistic thinking?"

This is the dumbest thing I've read...

today.

If you need an imaginary friend who tells you how to behave so you can be accepted into an afterlife that there's no proof for, then you've answered your own questions. There's NO logic to religion, just a load of wishful thinking that amounts to a handful of nothing.

You think you're going to live forever? Why?

GearHedEd said...

Brad said,

"...Those who believe are saved. Those who don't believe have never believed, and therefore have never had saving faith."

Converse:

Those who believe now, and claim to have formerly been atheists, are NOT and have never been atheists; if you KNEW that there are no gods, you would still think that way.

Faith is wishful thinking, there may have been a "real" Jesus(TM), but the reality was not a guy who walked on water and came back from being dead; those are stories added to make the religion seem more "truthful" than the older Greek and Roman pantheons.

Brad said...

GerHedEd,

Imagine explaining the inner workings of the Internet to Plato 2,400 years ago. That's what it's like to explain faith in Jesus Christ to a skeptic, even to someone like John who claims to know something of Christianity.

Such an explanation can't be done without a hands on experience.

cipher said...

Those who believe are saved. Those who don't believe have never believed, and therefore have never had saving faith.

How bloody convenient. This is the ultimate Christian defense mechanism; it's saved millions of you from having to deal with your own lingering doubts when confronted with a defector.

Brad is a Calvinist. How special for you, Brad! To be able to look down in smug condescension upon those whom your savior hasn't chosen:

Such an explanation can't be done without a hands on experience.

Yes,of course. It isn't that you're a compendium of Christian cliches, it's that we, with our unregenerate minds, simply can't understand. It's different for you, of course. Jesus waived his magic wand, and poof! - you're now capable of getting it.

Ever notice that one seems never to meet a Calvinist who doesn't believe him or herself to be one of the "elect"?

cipher said...

"You Can't Argue With Christians"

Agree completely, and have said as much to John, here and elsewhere, on at least a couple of occasions. Certainly, write books exposing the fallacies, inconsistency, and affront to morality and reason; the few who are able to will comprehend and get out. But arguing with them one-on-one? Bloody waste of time.

GearHedEd said...

@ Brad,

I understand faith just fine, thank you. I also happen to think that it's just a lot of smoke and mirrors, without force in the REAL world.

Dude, I'm Free said...

@Brad,

"Such an explanation can't be done without a hands on experience."

I was a born-again christian for 25 years. Is that enough "hands on experience" for you?

My deconversion

Harry H. McCall, CET said...

Johnny H stated: I'd be living in the moment for myself and not caring what other people think or what THEIR morals are and just be selfish all my life, disregarding everyone else but myself, because in the end it doesn't even matter who we hurt or how we do things.

Several things are very wrong with this conclusion Johnny H. If you did this as many have tried too:

A. You’d be jailed by most any legal system and or killed.

B. You’d be killed by similar criminal elements.

C. If none of the above failed to get you, you would self-destruct just as many rich and famous people have who have had this “I don’t give a damn … me first
altitude.” including Christians such as Jim Baker (PTL fame) and many Catholic Priests who sexually abused youth.

Finally, your statement above describes exactly how religious Israel was lead by the Biblcial God to disrespect the nations living in Canaan (The Promised Land) by killing, raping, stealing, lying to, enslaving people those families who had their own God(s) who gave them their own morals and ethical religious convictions!


So when you talk about “selfness”, consider the Hebrew God Yahweh!

Gandolf said...

Brad say.."Those who believe are saved. Those who don't believe have never believed, and therefore have never had saving faith."

Yeah ... those folks who dont believe the world was flat, obviously never honestly believed the world was flat anyway.Had they have honestly believed the world was flat,the world would have been flat anyway.

"Such an explanation can't be done without a hands on experience."

:(

Faith can move mountains ....And create the flat earth too

trae norsworthy said...

mr. loftus, this post is disappointing especially since i have tried repeatedly to dialogue with you about wiba and you haven't responded even once. it seems like you're the one who won't engage in dialogue. do you consider your position so weak that it can't withstand debate?

Lvka said...

Christians: can't argue with them, can't argue without them... ;-)

Papalinton said...

If there was no religion, there would be no atheists.

Cheers

Harry H. McCall, CET said...

Hi Trac,

I asked you several questions awhile back (August 23) which you failed to even reply to, so I’ll repeat one here in a revised edition. Maybe you and I can have a discussion while you are waiting on John.

Again:
Hey, it’s easy and fun to apologetically argue the past…it’s like a game of chest (using facts and matching wits), but other than Biblical promises for hope, Christianity has nothing today:
Jesus has not returned in 2,000 years, none of the miracles Jesus promised his apostles / believers (signs and wonders) follow Christians today except those faked by Benny Hinn, Earnest Angley (Hell, Angley can’t even re-grows his own hair and wares a wig…so much for Jesus’ promises) and other TV and tent evangelist con-artist continue playing off what Jesus and the New Testament promised!

With the miracle sales pitch over and the past being dead Christian history; what do you have to prove your point today other than faith?

Do you think Dan Wallace’s excellent knowledge of Hellenistic Greek can make one iota (pardon the pun) difference in making (present tense active voice) miracles happen now?

Please exegete John 14: 13 – 14 and tell me why Christians can’t get Jesus to function as promised in John’s Gosple?

καὶ ὁ τι ἂν αἰτήσητε ἐν τῷ ὀνόματι μου τοῦτο ποιήσω, ἵνα δοξασθῇ ὁ πατὴρ ἐν τῷ υἱῷ.

ἐάν τι αἰτήσητέ με ἐν τῷ ὀνόματί μου ἐγὼ ποιήσω.

(Since all the verbs by the requestor (believers) are simple past tense action (aorist), Jesus’ promise divine action is given in the future (active) tense. Why does it not work?)

Here’s your chance to prove the present truth of Christianity! Or is Christianity just another death religion kept alive by the promises, hope and faith of its believers?

,שלום
Harry

John W. Loftus said...

Thanks Harry, maybe trae will discuss things with you. You seem to have more patience than I do.

trae norsworthy said...

patience usually implies that you have made multiple attempts. i don't recall you doing that regarding my response to the "challenge". you haven't even attempted to sick your followers on me.

trae norsworthy said...

I asked you several questions awhile back (August 23) which you failed to even reply to
i don't recall that. perhaps you could point me to them.

Jesus has not returned in 2,000 years
did He say He would within that time?

none of the miracles Jesus promised his apostles / believers (signs and wonders) follow Christians today
which ones would you be referring to?

what do you have to prove your point today other than faith?
first, what "point" would you be referring to?

Do you think Dan Wallace’s excellent knowledge of Hellenistic Greek can make one iota (pardon the pun) difference in making (present tense active voice) miracles happen now?
what makes you think miracles don't happen?

Please exegete John 14: 13 – 14 and tell me why Christians can’t get Jesus to function as promised in John’s Gosple?
i am going to respond to this at length on my blog. i am currently in chapter 4 of wiba and that topic is in chapter 6 so, about 8 weeks. for now, it suffices to say that you are trying to reduce the statement so that it is unqualified when in fact, it is not unqualified. if you're familiar with the entire nt or any of the usual commentaries, then you are aware of that.

Harry H. McCall, CET said...

Reply to Trae Part 1

"I asked you several questions awhile back (August 23) which you failed to even reply to"
Trae: i don't recall that. perhaps you could point me to them.

RE: Post on 8 -19 (My Love Affair Is Over)

"Jesus has not returned in 2,000 years"
Trae: did He say He would within that time?

RE: He said to them, "Most certainly I tell you, there are some standing here who will in no way taste death until they see the Kingdom of God come with power." Mark 9:1 & Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation. 2 Peter 3:4

"none of the miracles Jesus promised his apostles / believers (signs and wonders) follow Christians today"
Trae: which ones would you be referring to?

RE: “These signs will accompany those who have believed: in My name they will cast out demons, they will speak with new tongues; they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.” Mark 16: 17 – 18

If you think the longer ending of Mark 16 is not textually correct (Latter addition) than you have read either William R. Farmer’s “The Last Twelve Verses of Mark (Society for New Testament Studies Monograph Series)” or Dean John William Burgon’s historical treatment of the last 12 verses of Mark!

"what do you have to prove your point today other than faith?"
Trae: first, what "point" would you be referring to?

RE: Context Trae: Context of the above discussion. Cast out any demons yet? Healed any sick with a simple lying on of hands? Let’s see your signs and wonders given to you by Jesus at work now!

Harry H. McCall, CET said...

Reply to Trae Part 2

"Do you think Dan Wallace’s excellent knowledge of Hellenistic Greek can make one iota (pardon the pun) difference in making (present tense active voice) miracles happen now?"
Trae: what makes you think miracles don't happen?

RE: The burden of proof is on the Christian community. The Bible tells me you Christians have hit miracle pay-dirt as promised by Jesus. So show me the gold!

Secondary, studies which followed Benny Hinn and other major healing evangelist showed either the sick never had any documented illness as to being sick at all or they died of their illness shortly after their miracle healing took place or they remained the same as before (blind, deaf, lame and so on).

"Please exegete John 14: 13 – 14 and tell me why Christians can’t get Jesus to function as promised in John’s Gospel?"
Tace: i am going to respond to this at length on my blog. i am currently in chapter 4 of wiba and that topic is in chapter 6 so, about 8 weeks. for now, it suffices to say that you are trying to reduce the statement so that it is unqualified when in fact, it is not unqualified. if you're familiar with the entire nt or any of the usual commentaries, then you are aware of that.

RE: Greek grammar is Greek grammar. "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." πᾶς γὰρ ὃς ἂν ἐπικαλέσηται (Aorist) τὸ ὄνομα κυρίου σωθήσεται (Future tense). (Romans 10:13)

The grammatical verbal syntax is basically the same as in John 14: 13 -14 as I asked you to exegete above.

So salvation is a mental state of personal faith (subjective and un-provable) and is the ONLY thing Christianity has going for it. This makes it a simple belief religion protected under the law much like handicapped people are protect who can’t help themselves.

Fact is, if it were not for apologetics, Christianity would have died out with the book of Acts and 2 Peter (The only 3 places in the entire N.T. where the word Christian is used).

clamat said...

Lvka: "Can't argue with 'em...."

Rats! I hate it when the theists come up with the good lines! ;-)

clamat said...

@trae norsworthy

After you’ve responded to Harry H. McCall’s previous posts, please do me the solid of responding to mine, in the “My Top Ten List of Christian Delusions” thread, posted on August 26 and 28. Thanks.

Agentsmith said...

I've learned not to "debate" a Christian a long time ago. You may think you have reason, logic and facts on your side. But those things mean nothing when you are dealing with the unreasonable and irrational. You may think that our little intellectual exercise was all for fun, think again. No matter how politely you present your facts and reason to the Christian, as long as it deviates from his or her understanding of the Bible and the world, the Christian will always treat it as an assualt on their God and religion. To become a Christian, one has to suspend reason, logic and turn a blind eye on painfully obvious facts. Thus, by definition, the Christian is unreasonable, irrational, illogical and impervious to facts.

I once had a discussion about slavery with a fundie friend of mine. I quoted many Bible verses that supported slavery insomuch that precise rules on how to acquire and treat your slaves were pretty much spelled out. When I asked any thing Jesus said that condemns slavery, my fundie friend's response was "We will just have to agree to disagree on this". And that is when I saw the light and stopped wasting my time with him on anything intellectual.

pink_monkey said...

how the hell you guys rip John Loftus for not ever being a Christian is well beyond me. To accuse a man of this that at one time dedicated his life to Christianity and can prove this by his various degrees is offensive. What exactly have you done to put your money where your mouth is? I don't see John's level of dedication from you. That means even you go to hell, you aren't following your book even that far.

Ridiculous, rlly, look at yourselves. While you're at it plz re-read the no true scotsman fallacy. You're attempting to apply that to John. Guess what, that does not work. Burn in the hell of your creation [you fall short of a man of dedication by leaps and bounds and attempt to justify that], and thank me later when it doesn't exist. Too bad it'll be too late for you to realize that. You really do disgust me.

Jake said...

Brad,

"Those who believe are saved. Those who don't believe have never believed, and therefore have never had saving faith."

So even if a highly respected Christian was to announce that they had opened their mind and came out as a atheist, you would automatically assume, by religious default, that they had never had any true belief in the religion?

cipher said...

So even if a highly respected Christian was to announce that they had opened their mind and came out as a atheist, you would automatically assume, by religious default, that they had never had any true belief in the religion?

As I said, it's their ultimate defense mechanism.

GearHedEd said...

Notice that trae answered EVERY question with a question?

Not a single real ANSWER there, because there ARE none.

trae norsworthy said...

harry

RE: Post on 8 -19 (My Love Affair Is Over)
Ok, thanks. I will go back over there and respond to any comments not covered here.

RE: Mark 9:1 & 2 Peter 3:4
I’m sure you’re aware that those passages do not necessarily mean that Jesus was returning within 2000 years. What does parousia mean to you?

RE: Mark 16: 17 – 18
Where does the Bible say that those actions are necessary for perpetuity?

RE: Context of the above discussion.
The reason why your question isn’t part of the context you are referring to is because you apparently aren’t aware that those types of actions are not needed in the same quantity post Jesus and His disciples nor does the Bible give any indication to the contrary.

what do you have to prove your point today other than faith? Let’s see your signs and wonders given to you by Jesus at work now!
“prove” is a broad term. Christianity is proven to individuals on the basis of God’s presence and outworking in their personal lives. there are many ways to reasonably “prove” (metaphysically, spiritually, philosophically) God’s presence and outworking on a corporate scale. In these forums, I focus on the dichotomy between theism and nontheism.

RE: The burden of proof is on the Christian community.
This is not a court of law. There is no “burden of proof” protocol. You believe what you want to believe.

The Bible tells me you Christians have hit miracle pay-dirt as promised by Jesus. So show me the gold!
http://thegdebate.blogspot.com/2010/08/l-35.html

Secondary, studies which followed Benny Hinn and other major healing evangelist showed…
This should tell you something about the nature of miracles

RE: Greek grammar is Greek grammar. Romans 10:13. The grammatical verbal syntax is basically the same as in John 14: 13 -14 as I asked you to exegete above.
You repeated precisely what I mentioned that we should not do; look at one passage to the exclusion of all the other relevant passages.

So salvation is a mental state of personal faith (subjective and un-provable).
Not exactly. You would have to prove that God does not work in the world in order to substantiate that conclusion.

trae norsworthy said...

agent smith

To become a Christian, one has to suspend reason, logic and turn a blind eye on painfully obvious facts.
This is definitely not true and the Bible does not encourage people to be ignorant. I’ve quoted passages to Loftus and he never responds to them. yet, he continues to perpetuate the mischaracterization.

Thus, by definition, the Christian is unreasonable, irrational, illogical and impervious to facts.
since there have been brilliant atheists who became Christians after they “followed the evidence”, I would say that your conclusion does not reflect reality.

trae norsworthy said...

pink monkey

how the hell you guys rip John Loftus for not ever being a Christian is well beyond me.
here's a reason

http://thegdebate.blogspot.com/2010/07/l-11.html

What exactly have you done to put your money where your mouth is? I don't see John's level of dedication from you.
you are apparently unaware that a month ago, I started a blog dedicated to meeting the “debunking christianity challenge” and to specifically respond to the case made in wiba. I post almost every day and Mr. loftus is aware of it. he has yet to address it. he once hinted to thom stark that I am not worthy of his time so it seems that he should either retract the challenge or qualify it to the extent that he can escape whenever he feels like it. the closest he has come to a response is to ask hendy to respond as his proxy. So, when you ask about the level of dedication, know that your statement should be directed at an apparent hypocrisy by mr. loftus.

trae norsworthy said...

gearheded

Not a single real ANSWER there, because there ARE none.
If by answer you mean explanation, then I provide plenty of them on my blog. Feel free to peruse it.

clamat said...

@trae norsworthy

Just a follow up: Now that you've to Harry H. McCall’s previous posts, please do me the solid of responding to mine, in the “My Top Ten List of Christian Delusions” thread, posted on August 26 and 28. Thanks again.

trae norsworthy said...

clamat

i responded

pink_monkey said...

lol trae, you're pretty funny.

so your keeping up a blog for one month is supposed to equate to years of study from John under renowned apologists? He's a legitimate pastor, don't you want to put in the time? I hope you are joking. I get it though, fruits of the spirit right, that's not yours, and it wasn't your calling...weak.

As far as your link, I followed it for as much as I could take. How can you judge what information is sufficient to persuade each of us of the truth? Apparently you know what all of us consider sufficient evidence[or god has no intention of saving us all...or even offering the chance]? We were made by him trae, he made each and everyone of us unique, like snowflakes, each one w/ their own systematics for belief. You believe this, don't you?

And what's wrong w/ intellectual information, besides what's glaringly obvious to me. How can more of the truth hurt anything? How could anyone make a blanket statement that it can't transform lives? I thank the lord everyday for the intellectual information that I obtained, resulting in the transformation of my own life. And what about Thomas? He wasn't condemned for asking for a little more evidence than it took others, he was still shown what the good lord knew he needed so that he would believe.

Now let me restate. Just how in hell do you think you can speak for Mr. Loftus' former belief, or lack there of? This is not an issue for me, really. I take men by their actions and words, but actions first. It's evident by John's actions that he was a believer[you could also read WIBA for comprehension], and that he followed a "calling", something you criticize him for but continue to shirk yourself. Grow a pair trae, God wouldn't need minions like yourself even if he did exist. Apparently you're fond of speaking for God though, so you tell me how he feels about all of us. Just keep in mind to look not at the speck in your brother's eye...no wait, only cast the first stone if you're perfect, wait..don't judge lest you be judged.

And you wonder why John won't respond to you. Quit flattering yourself. It's not a duck or a dodge, he's just had his fill of idiocy for the time being. It's not effective to make a name for yourself by detracting others.

pink_monkey said...

oh i get it now trae. You're one of JP Holding's lil kid buddies that he attracts through comics and then indoctrinates[well I hope that's the worst of what he does].

remember, it's not your fault.

trae norsworthy said...

pink monkey

so your keeping up a blog for one month is supposed to equate to years of study from John under renowned apologists?
How do you know I haven’t done the same or something similar? You don’t.

As far as your link, I followed it for as much as I could take.
This response is apropos for this thread. Nontheists are the ones who already have their minds made up. they can’t be reasoned with and won’t dialogue on the issues. kudos to mr. Loftus for writing books but, look through this blog. You don’t see dialogue. You don’t see Loftus engaging on his conclusions. He doesn’t subject his beliefs to debate that I’ve seen. Neither he nor any of his 400+ followers have bothered to engage my blog posts even once. Nontheists are supposed to be intellectually superior. Surely at least one person here can show me the error of my ways.

How can you judge what information is sufficient to persuade each of us of the truth? Apparently you know what all of us consider sufficient evidence[or god has no intention of saving us all...or even offering the chance]?
I’m not sure which one of my comments you are referring to but, the real question is why nontheists think they can substantiate that there is no God.

And what's wrong w/ intellectual information.
Nothing that I’m aware of.

How can more of the truth hurt anything?
The issue isn’t truth. The issue is the claim by nontheists that they don’t have enough “evidence”. The problem isn’t evidence but, the worldview from which the claim originates which is nontheism. How can the claim have any validity when the person is operating from a worldview they can’t substantiate in the first place?

And what about Thomas? He wasn't condemned for asking for a little more evidence than it took others, he was still shown what the good lord knew he needed so that he would believe.
What evidence is there that Thomas was an atheist until he met the risen Jesus?

Just how in hell do you think you can speak for Mr. Loftus' former belief, or lack there of?
I stated my case in the first blog post. Instead of dealing with my points, you are just committing the genetic fallacy.

It's evident by John's actions that he was a believer[you could also read WIBA for comprehension], and that he followed a "calling", something you criticize him for but continue to shirk yourself.
Judging from what I posted in my first post, I would say that it’s not “evident” that he was a believer. I made a concise case. If you disagree, tell me where I went wrong.

It's not a duck or a dodge, he's just had his fill of idiocy for the time being.
whatever

It's not effective to make a name for yourself by detracting others.
I haven’t once called mr. loftus any names or committed an ad hominem with him. I’ve only dealt with the ideas he presents in his book and pointed out that he’s not willing to engage on them.

You're one of JP Holding's lil kid buddies
I don’t know that person.

trae norsworthy said...

so your keeping up a blog for one month is supposed to equate to years of study from John under renowned apologists?
How do you know I haven’t done the same or something similar? You don’t.

As far as your link, I followed it for as much as I could take.
This response is apropos for this thread. Nontheists are the ones who already have their minds made up. they can’t be reasoned with and won’t dialogue on the issues. kudos to mr. Loftus for writing books but, look through this blog. You don’t see dialogue. You don’t see Loftus engaging on his conclusions. He doesn’t subject his beliefs to debate that I’ve seen. Neither he nor any of his 400+ followers have bothered to engage my blog posts even once. Nontheists are supposed to be intellectually superior. Surely at least one person here can show me the error of my ways.

How can you judge what information is sufficient to persuade each of us of the truth? Apparently you know what all of us consider sufficient evidence[or god has no intention of saving us all...or even offering the chance]?
I’m not sure which one of my comments you are referring to but, the real question is why nontheists think they can substantiate that there is no God.

And what's wrong w/ intellectual information.
Nothing that I’m aware of.

How can more of the truth hurt anything?
The issue isn’t truth. The issue is the claim by nontheists that they don’t have enough “evidence”. The problem isn’t evidence but, the worldview from which the claim originates which is nontheism. How can the claim have any validity when the person is operating from a worldview they can’t substantiate in the first place?

And what about Thomas? He wasn't condemned for asking for a little more evidence than it took others, he was still shown what the good lord knew he needed so that he would believe.
What evidence is there that Thomas was an atheist until he met the risen Jesus?

Just how in hell do you think you can speak for Mr. Loftus' former belief, or lack there of?
I stated my case in the first blog post. Instead of dealing with my points, you are just committing the genetic fallacy.

It's evident by John's actions that he was a believer[you could also read WIBA for comprehension], and that he followed a "calling", something you criticize him for but continue to shirk yourself.
Judging from what I posted in my first post, I would say that it’s not “evident” that he was a believer. I made a concise case. If you disagree, tell me where I went wrong.

It's not a duck or a dodge, he's just had his fill of idiocy for the time being.
whatever

It's not effective to make a name for yourself by detracting others.
I haven’t once called mr. loftus any names or committed an ad hominem with him. I’ve only dealt with the ideas he presents in his book and pointed out that he’s not willing to engage on them.

You're one of JP Holding's lil kid buddies
I don’t know that person.

trae norsworthy said...

pink monkey

so your keeping up a blog for one month is supposed to equate to years of study from John under renowned apologists?
How do you know I haven’t done the same or something similar? You don’t.

As far as your link, I followed it for as much as I could take.
This response is apropos for this thread. Nontheists are the ones who already have their minds made up. they can’t be reasoned with and won’t dialogue on the issues. kudos to mr. Loftus for writing books but, look through this blog. You don’t see dialogue. You don’t see Loftus engaging on his conclusions. He doesn’t subject his beliefs to debate that I’ve seen. Neither he nor any of his 400+ followers have bothered to engage my blog posts even once. Nontheists are supposed to be intellectually superior. Surely at least one person here can show me the error of my ways.

How can you judge what information is sufficient to persuade each of us of the truth? Apparently you know what all of us consider sufficient evidence[or god has no intention of saving us all...or even offering the chance]?
I’m not sure which one of my comments you are referring to but, the real question is why nontheists think they can substantiate that there is no God.

And what's wrong w/ intellectual information.
Nothing that I’m aware of.

How can more of the truth hurt anything?
The issue isn’t truth. The issue is the claim by nontheists that they don’t have enough “evidence”. The problem isn’t evidence but, the worldview from which the claim originates which is nontheism. How can the claim have any validity when the person is operating from a worldview they can’t substantiate in the first place?

And what about Thomas? He wasn't condemned for asking for a little more evidence than it took others, he was still shown what the good lord knew he needed so that he would believe.
What evidence is there that Thomas was an atheist until he met the risen Jesus?

Just how in hell do you think you can speak for Mr. Loftus' former belief, or lack there of?
I stated my case in the first blog post. Instead of dealing with my points, you are just committing the genetic fallacy.

It's evident by John's actions that he was a believer[you could also read WIBA for comprehension], and that he followed a "calling", something you criticize him for but continue to shirk yourself.
Judging from what I posted in my first post, I would say that it’s not “evident” that he was a believer. I made a concise case. If you disagree, tell me where I went wrong.

It's not a duck or a dodge, he's just had his fill of idiocy for the time being.
whatever

It's not effective to make a name for yourself by detracting others.
I haven’t once called mr. loftus any names or committed an ad hominem with him. I’ve only dealt with the ideas he presents in his book and pointed out that he’s not willing to engage on them.

You're one of JP Holding's lil kid buddies
I don’t know that person.

GearHedEd said...

trae:

Do I have the dubious honor of being the very firstperson to comment on any of your posts?

LOL...

Apparently you feel Loftus threatens your conception of Christianity, otherwise why devote months to a blog that no one reads, and no one comments on?

You still got nothing.

trae norsworthy said...

GearHedEd

Do I have the dubious honor of being the very firstperson to comment on any of your posts?
affirmative. thanks for the comment. i have provided a response

LOL...
gotta start somewhere

Apparently you feel Loftus threatens your conception of Christianity
not at all. i just don't want readers here to think that loftus' misconceptions of christianity are accurate.

otherwise why devote months to a blog that no one reads, and no one comments on?
first, people do read it. they just haven't commented. second, i'm writing because i enjoy writing. third, my purpose is to provide an alternative to loftus' mischaracterizations.

GearHedEd said...

Damn!

Now I gotta go read the response...

See what you did?

ludwigwarum said...

Maybe this should be a new thread. Maybe it shouldn't be published at all.

Pained because I previously held many of the views I see posted by Christians here, I have a tragic level of understanding of the strength of the blinders involved. I nearly died in my change of thought, a change that I think could not have happened to me if not for my children, and from which I believe I will never truly "recover." Because I began to see in new ways only after 45 years of a deeply Christian life (was even a BSF leader by my crash year), my shame, my regrets, and my cognitive dissonance are greater than I can put into words.
One thing that strikes me now is the phenomenon of Christians placing themselves in a "different" category (as I did also) based on the idea that they are not that "wrong" kind of "religious," superstitious, fundamentalist, judgemental, unscientific, (etc, etc) believer. I even see some joke, for instance chuckling about those who, "see Satan behind every bush." Is there some difference between seeing one or a few versus many? Is believing in one supernatural story (often in the New Testament) somehow rational because one doesn't take others (often in the Old Testament) literally? Is there some line at which faith is laughable or wrong-minded and another at which it is admirable, rational, intelligent? How? Why?
I always did struggle with the idea of "liberal believers," wondering at what point this becomes no different from not believing at all. Now I see the opposite difficulty, wondering how different it is from believing everything/anything. I do see that it is less dangerous in the short run, but is it not possibly more dangerous in the long run, keeping the whole thing going by the concept that there is a sane, admirable way to believe a supernatural story?

ludwigwarum said...

And regarding that other idea I see in this thread (which I also used to buy) that belief can do no harm if it happens to be wrong because one will have have lived a good, loving life: The horror of indoctrinating a child with an idea s/he then has to use mental gymnastics to deal with and/or be otherwise traumatized by, the horror of eternal torture for her/himself or those around her/him who fail to internalize the story, the "Emperor's New Clothes" aspect of the whole thing....nope, not good, kind, or loving. Not a life of no regrets if it turns out to have been false. (And, btw, eternal damnation trumps all the horrors of the OT) A kind and good life could be much better lived without all of this. No Christian who believes in damnation can truthfully make the kind loving life claim. I know they would speak of free choice, but what one is able to think/believe is conditional on everything from personality to intellect to emotion to culture to chemical reaction,... If a person with brain damage will not be damned for losing belief after his head is hit, why would a person whose head is never in the first place of the proper condition to be able to " choose belief" be damned?

Alina Marie said...

Dont want to rely on faith, completely understandable. But have u looked & heard about the facts?!?!?
Did you know there are over 24,000 original manuscripts of the bible? Dating alll the way back to 300 A.D. Many non-christians try to argue saying the bibles been changed & its unreliable but yet the orginial manuscripts show the bible has remained completely the same!!!
The Iliad has 764 lines of textual corruption whereas the New Testament only has 40 lines of textual corruption. And most of the textual corruptions found in the new testament were spelling errors or grammer errors.

Josh Mcdowell wrote a book called Evidence that demans a verdit and I highly recomment ant skeptics out there to read it.

Anonymous said...

There was a point in my life where I came to my own conclusion that there is no god or higher being even when my family was deeply rooted in christianity for many generetions, I think I got tired of all of it, bible verses, prayers, the so called worship songs was a broken recordat home, then my mother started having prayer nights, I remember that all this got me so angry, some times I ridiculed them and made fun of them. Then my mothers friend said she had a vision that I was going to suffer an accident and was going to loose my life, she said according to her vision "God " was alloing this to happen because that was the only way for me to come to believe and because "he" had a planin my life to use me for his glory; to make a long story short everything she said happened to me. I fell from a second floor head down, burst my head open, died at the hospital, after half hour doctors gave up and told my mother to start funeral arragements, they even allowed my family to go to the surgery room, many of my uncles and ants were there and one of my grammas. They made a big circle together with the nurses and doctors and prayed, then my mother crying asked the doctor to try cpr again and i'm back. I stayed at the hospital for one month and even dough when all this happend I was in comma or dead, the doctors and the nurses kept telling the story and how amazed they were about it, my family was thankful to God, and I came to believe, not only because of that but because another person from another church had a dream about my accident too before it happened I just didn't believed at that time, few years later I moved to nyc [all this took place in Dominican Republic] and was met by disciples of christ and became one, since then I was healed from sickness, had dreams and visions too vizzared to explain. In conclusion there's not doubt in me that there is a God not because of what I been taught but because of real life experiences, and in fact I don't have any reason to lie or to try to convince anybody about this. But one thing is sure for me no matter what people say He has been real in my lif, as real as my 16 stiches mark on my head and tinnitus ringging in my left ear to remind me for the rest of my life. I weite this not to convince you that there is a God, no, my point is to tell you don't give oppinions about what you don't know nothing about. In my view there is nothing deboked here. Just personal oppinions and we all have to respect that.

Anonymous said...

I wonder how many aethiests have never seen a neutron, but accept it on blind faith that they exist...
Everybody believes in something; Christians, Jews, and Muslims believe in the same God, and aethiests believe in themselves alone. This post is not intended to be insulting to anybody. We should all stop making assumptions and passing judgement upon others based upon those assumptions. There is no superior belief system; we're all just people who need to quit beating up on other people. Live and let live... Anyone agree?