Christian, Tell Us Why We Don't Believe!

We skeptics don't need to explain your belief away. We can, and we do, but we don't need to. We think you have fallen prey to what Paul Kurtz called The Transcendental Temptation. You have a need to believe based on a fear of death, the need for moral certitude and/or a blissful hope in an afterlife. All skeptics have to do is show you why you are wrong, and we do.

But since you believe we will be punished by God in hell (however conceived) if we don't believe, then you need to offer some explanations for why we don't believe. Surely a good God like yours wouldn't punish us if we weren't deserving of it, right? And surely your God wouldn't punish us for our disbelief without offering us a clear testimony with sufficient evidence to believe, right?

Are we ignorant? What are we ignorant about? Is there a book we haven't read that if we read it we would no longer be ignorant? Would we believe if we read it? Which one?

Are we willfully disobedient of the truth? Do we love sin more than truth? Why would you say that? Because the Bible says so? The billions of people who are not Christians in today's world are a testimony that the Bible is wrong about this. There is other overwhelming evidence against believing in the Bible. This is just one more. Why do you trust what the Bible says when the evidence of billions of people say otherwise? Just look at what people of other faiths or no faith at all will do if they think they know what is true. A lot of sacrificing is going on, from freethinkers suffering the approbation of the majority in our society to suicide bombers to ascetic Tibetan monks. People the world over would gladly sacrifice themselves for a cause or a faith they sincerely believed was the truth. I think it’s patently false to say people are not interested in the truth about such things, especially if we’ll fry in hell if we’re wrong. Who in his right mind would be willfully disobedient of that which he knows to be true, if the truth is that he will go to hell if he is?

Have we just failed to experience God in our lives? Do we need to experience something that we didn't? What kind of experience do you mean? A miracle? Well, whose fault is that? God knows what we need to believe, and if so, why doesn’t he provide it? If God did the greater deed, by sending his son to atone for our sins, then why doesn't he do the lesser deeds by providing us the evidence and experiences we need to believe?

47 comments:

Magister Stevenson said...

John,
I don't quite follow: Why do I, as a Christian, have to tell you why you don't believe? What obligation do I have for that? I can see an obligation to tell you about your need for Christ, but your testimony adequately satisfies me that you have heard, so I won't belabor that issue.
Just curious.

stevec said...

I guess this posts isn't addressed to the Calvinists. (Not that I'm a Calvinist -- I'm an atheist -- but I've talked with Calvinists, and they are, while listening to our arguments, bemusedly resigned what they imagine to be the fate their god has decided for us.)

Matt Talamini said...

Yeah, the Calvinists would hold that God has foreordained who will be saved and who will not. It's a debate that's raged for years and years among Christians: Why don't unbelievers believe?

And although I'm not a Calvinist, strictly speaking, I do agree with them on one point: God does not owe you an explanation. He is not in any way obligated to prove Himself to you, and to think that He is is to misunderstand His nature. He's just, and perfectly just, but He's not obligated to be just according to your standards, which are faulty for obvious reasons.

Anyway, the answer to your question is in Mark 4 - The parable of the sower. Also, it wouldn't hurt to read the book of Job if you're interested in the Christian response to such questions.

Evan said...

Love it. God doesn't owe you an explanation, but he supposedly wrote a book giving one.

In other words, we fall again on the Christian's self-refutation. They make claims about God. Non-Christian-theists, non-theists, agnostics and atheists then say, "If your God is as you say, the world should be different."

Then they say that the person making the statement about how the world ought to be is being presumptuous.

Come on!

It's presumptuous for anyone to think they know the mind of God. Even the Bible makes this point.

Who then is able to stand against me?

Who has a claim against me that I must pay?

Everything under heaven belongs to me.


Job 41: 10-11

Assuming there is a God (which I do not), it is extremely presumptuous to put on him any relationship to any human book of any kind. God doesn't write. God doesn't talk to people. God, if he exists, is absolutely silent.

Yet when we point this out, we're accused by theists of presuming to say how God should be. However, when theists tell us all about how he would be, they're not being presumptuous.

Nice racket. Heads I win, tails you lose.

Reverend Phillip Brown said...

Dear John,

This post is limited in its religious scope. The Calvinistic perspective needs consideration here otherwise the point in nullified in the witness and confirmation of the Holy Spirit, something the post fails to address.

Furthermore the Calvinistic perspective is still generally considered the most intellectually robust theology of the Christian perspectives. More attention to this should be given before a general wipe away with all Christian belief is asserted.

@ Evan,

Hi again.

You said,

It's presumptuous for anyone to think they know the mind of God. Even the Bible makes this point.

Who then is able to stand against me?

Who has a claim against me that I must pay?

Everything under heaven belongs to me.

Job 41: 10-11.

You have misunderstood this passage in Job. Job has charged God and God is replying that He [God] does not have to answer the charge. Your quote here does not fit with knowing the mind of God either, rather it fits with not answering Job's charge.

You said,

Assuming there is a God (which I do not), it is extremely presumptuous to put on him any relationship to any human book of any kind. God doesn't write. God doesn't talk to people. God, if he exists, is absolutely silent.

More reading on John Calvin will help in this vein I thin Evan? He argues that the very words of God were written by the Spirit [of God] by [in a manner] inspiring human authors. John Calvin wrote, … ‘[God] sent down the same Spirit by whose power he had dispensed the Word, to complete his work by the efficacious confirmation of the word.’ Institutes of the Christian Religion.

The Bible is 100% the words of the human author and 100% the desired words of God’s Holy Spirit, according to Calvin.

You said,

Yet when we point this out, we're accused by theists of presuming to say how God should be. However, when theists tell us all about how he would be, they're not being presumptuous.

Interesting. This has not been my experience but I hope this is not the case from my brothers.

Regards, Rev. Phil.

Author of the blog "Christianity Versus Atheism" http://christianityversusatheism.blogspot.com/

Cory Gross said...

You have a need to believe based on a fear of death, the need for moral certitude and/or a blissful hope in an afterlife.

I have?

Are you sure you'd be telling me the right things, even though you don't need to tell me them anyways? This sounds a bit like the Atheist version of the Fundamentalist Christian checklist of All Possible Reasons Someone Would Disagree With Them Besides Simply Not Being Convinced.

brian_g said...


We skeptics don't need to explain your belief away. We can, and we do, but we don't need to. We think you have fallen prey to what Paul Kurtz called The Transcendental Temptation. You have a need to believe based on a fear of death, the need for moral certitude and/or a blissful hope in an afterlife. All skeptics have to do is show you why you are wrong, and we do.


Perhaps your right, our belief is motivated by fear of death. I think there may be just as many physiological factors for the atheist. I think it would be quite liberating believing that death is nothing but a dreamless sleep. No worry about the afterlife or judgment. Now of course this doesn't mean you go around torchering babies and kittens, but you are free in many respects to quite a bit of Christian morality. Is this really not attractive? I can think of several things that might be fun to do if the only consequences are in this life. Magic mushrooms anyone? I could start wearing a condom -- all day long! I could eat meat on ash Wednesday. I could smoke a joint. Sleep in on Sunday.

John, I don't know if your list looks anything like mine. I would imagine that "sowing your wild oats" for a Church of Christ member, may mean nothing more then drinking a beer on Sunday or perhaps just drinking a beer. I can't help but suspect that you must indulge in some things that you didn't before. I think this must feel very liberating to an atheist.

I have a book recommendation. It's one of those books that everybody's heard of,but no one has read. It's called "The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde." by Robert Louis Stevenson. The book is not horror story as many assume. It is a story about becoming free from all the restraint put on a person by his own moral code or that of society and what happens when he does. I found it to be very insightful about the nature of man. Dr. Jekell believes that he's found the answer to achieving this freedom. His goal is to put away this moral code in a restricted way, so that afterward he can go back to being his own descent self again, but the more he indulges the more difficult it is for him to go back. I wont say any more as I don't want to spoil the book. It's less then 200 pages, so it doesn't take long to read.

I frankly think this attraction of doing what were not suppose to do, very well may be universal. I see it in Jekyll and Hyde. I see it in my own life. I see it in others. Another example is the bondage sexual practices. What would make two consenting adults want to engage in sex where one party is handcuffed? They want to imagine that that the sex is not consensual. They want to imagine that the sex dirty or evil. I suspect that this is the feeling of those who would never want to engage in non-consensual sex is real life. I think that this desire stems from the same thing I've been talking about. It comes from the desire to do what we ought not to do. While pretending to have forced sex, a person must have the liberating feeling of pretending to do what they know they couldn't do in real life.

So to answer your question. I do think that atheism may feel quite liberating. However, I don't think it would be fair to say that this is the cause of atheism as if you can reduce a persons beliefs or non-beliefs to some mechanical cause. The same goes with reducing Christian belief down to a fear of death. I'd much prefer to discuss particular points of evidence. I've tried to do precisely this in my comments. However, time after time, my critics have fallen silent. Where are the debunkers on Debunking Christianity? Is this the best you've got?

sconnor said...

Rev. Phil

More reading on John Calvin will help in this vein I thin Evan? He argues that the very words of God were written by the Spirit [of God] by [in a manner] inspiring human authors. John Calvin wrote, … ‘[God] sent down the same Spirit by whose power he had dispensed the Word, to complete his work by the efficacious confirmation of the word.’ Institutes of the Christian Religion.

The Bible is 100% the words of the human author and 100% the desired words of God’s Holy Spirit, according to Calvin.


Oh, then it must be true. (sarcasm)

...and according to Muslims the Qur'an is the final revelation from god that was revealed by the angel Gabriel, in person, to Muhammad.

Well, this one must be true. (sarcasm)

...and according to the Mormons, the Book of Mormon is a historical record of God's dealings with the ancient inhabitants of the Americas, that was found, with the help of an angel named Moroni, by Joseph Smith, in the form of golden tablets, buried in a hillside.

Is this, truly, god's last revelation -- more words from the holy spirit? Then this one must, really, be true. (more sarcasm)

--S.

Reverend Phillip Brown said...

Hi Sconnor,

You said,

Oh, then it must be true. (sarcasm)

...and according to Muslims the Qur'an is the final revelation from god that was revealed by the angel Gabriel, in person, to Muhammad.

Ok I see you have move from a doctrine of revelation to the difference between religions.

(1) The initial difference between the Bible and the Qur'an and the book of Mormon is the simple fact the only one person heard/saw the revelation and wrote it down.

(2) The more subtle distinction is in the fact that both religions progress from Christianity adding to what Jesus taught and therefore skewing it.

But to claim that other religions are out there is not to deny Christianity's truth. You can present many rival hypothesis' but that will not lead to the disproof of the original one.

@ Brian g.

Spot on. Well argued.

Regards, Rev. Phil.

Author of the blog "Christianity Versus Atheism" http://christianityversusatheism.blogspot.com/

Evan said...

Rev:

Does God really appear to every person and tell them that the Bible is the word of God? Nope. He doesn't.

So your argument falls apart. Some people believe that their scriptures are the word of God. Those people try to convince other people that it is God talking through their book.

But if it really was God talking through them ... there would be no need of people to do it. Everyone would already be convinced ... and there would be unanimity.

So again, to the Muslim you are presumptuous in suggesting there is more than one God. To the Mormon you are presumptuous by not accepting the testimony of Joseph Smith. To the atheist all of you (Christian, Muslim, Mormon) are presumptuous because you claim to understand far more than the data would allow you to understand on the basis of agreed upon facts that don't depend on your religion.

How can you say that Calvin solves this? Do all Muslims read Calvin and then convert? Do all Mormons read Calvin and abandon the LDS church?

It's really a problem for the theist who posits a God who wants to save people.

Obviously if you accept Christianity you must believe that God will appear to people to convince them out of skepticism. So why doesn't he do it all the time?

brian_g said...

Reverend Phillip Brown,

You make a good point. It seems that atheist want to maintain that the mere existence of different religious opinions disproves all of them. If we held this standard to any other belief we couldn't believe anything. There are people who maintain the following:

1) The earth is only 6,000 years old.

2) Alien visitors are abducting humans and the government is covering it up.

3) Abraham Lincoln was gay.

4) Elvis is still alive.

5) Jesus didn't exist.

6) Galileo was wrong. The Catholic church was right. The earth is in the center of the universe.

7)The US faked the moon landing.

8) The first Christian were Baptists.

9) Andy Kaufman faked his death.

I don't see any reason to think the merely the existence of an alternative position proves that we can't really know something. There are alternative theories on just about everything.

oli said...

I quite like this debate. I'm no theological scholar so excuse me if i get this wrong but doesn calvinism have as a tenant that god has already ordained which folk get to go to heaven and which get to go to hell? That seems rather daft. So I can become a christian, believe it all my life and still go to hell because god pre-ordained it. So basically from my birth onwards there is no conceivable way to save me from hell? That seems not only silly but evil.

Brian_g.
I think i get the idea of your post. Forbidden fruit is indeed tastiest of all. That said, you seem to make no distinction between morality and law (even christian law). I guess thats because to a christian authority IS morality. Some of the things you list, eating meat on ash wednesday, sleeping in on sunday, smoking a joint really aren't matters of morality (if you grow your own dope, dealing with gangsters to get it certainly is).
Wearing a condom all day long? Really, why would you want to do that, it'd really chafe after a few hours.
The whole point about alternative religions to christianity isn't that it disproves it. Its that god has NO excuse for me going to hell. It is not my fault if i do not believe it is his. He knows what i need to convince me, he has so far failed to provide this.
Furthermore, how am i supposed to decide which god is correct. The bible is no more authoritive or inerrant than the Koran or Torah or the mormons tome, or the teachings of buddha or the Bhagavad gita. How am i suppose to pick the correct religion.
In fact that could be my biggest question to god if he were real and i could speak to him.
"How am i meant to tell which religion is the correct one?"

Evan, you make entirely unrealistic comparisons. Christianity has far LESS proof for the existence of Jesus and the works of his time than Islam has for Muhammed and the works of his time. All of your points on the other hand are overwhelmingly rejected by the evidence. Except, interestingly the life of Jesus, for which there is no evidence outside the gospels. Oh, and i'm not sure about the early christians being baptists, didn't christ and his posse get baptised? Or is baptist a more strict meaning? I'm not sure on that one.

John W. Loftus said...

Stevec said...I guess this posts isn't addressed to the Calvinists. Calvinsts are not worth my time anymore, sorry. Their God is a despicable thug for which I have no use. I have previously dealt with them before though, here.

mathyoo said...

I can see an obligation to tell you about your need for Christ, but your testimony adequately satisfies me that you have heard, so I won't belabor that issue.

No one has a need for Christ. You may want Christ in your life, but I've been living without supernatural belief for over 20 years and doing just fine, thank you.

John W. Loftus said...

Brian_g said...Is this the best you've got?

Stephen Law once said on his blog:

“Anything complete enough will be so long that no one will read it anyway, and anything that is short enough to actually be read will be trivial and poorly executed.”

You need to read my whole case as found in my book. If you do not wish to bother with it then do not say that again. Deal?

Logossfera said...

@John W Loftus,
All flavours of christian gods are despicable. They may not be thugs but they are despicable. The ideea that a being demanding a particular behaviour towards him (belief, worship, whatever) while he's watching children being raped by people that call themselves his representatives is despicable. The story of the original sin is despicable no matter how one interpret it (two retards are put in a position to make an intelligent decision and billions will suffer because of it). The story of Jesus cursing a fig tree is despicable no matter how one interpret it. Only ignorant christians (those that haven't read the bible and go through the motion) have an "excuse" for their beliefs.

Lee Randolph said...

Hi Brian,
However, time after time, my critics have fallen silent. Where are the debunkers on Debunking Christianity?
don't flatter yourself. Some of us have other things to do that are more important right now than trying to talk you down from your religious euphoria.

It seems that atheist want to maintain that the mere existence of different religious opinions disproves all of them.
no, it makes any of them just as unlikely as the other. With competing theolgy, Christianity shows what a disorganized mess it is and how after 2000 years of squabbling, none of you are any closer to knowing which one is accurate.

You guys better get your act together or I guess I'll see most of you in hell.
;-)

icelander said...

"(1) The initial difference between the Bible and the Qur'an and the book of Mormon is the simple fact the only one person heard/saw the revelation and wrote it down."

This is a valid argument. I guess. We don't really know how many people wrote the Bible, or who edited it.

And it ignores the fact that there are other Christian revelations that have been dismissed. Therefore, the Bible was not just written by man, but also edited by man.

Of course, I bet that was inspired as well, right?

"(2) The more subtle distinction is in the fact that both religions progress from Christianity adding to what Jesus taught and therefore skewing it."

So those books are wrong because they're not Christianity? I smell a false dichotomy.

Also, to claim a book is inspired, one would have to provide evidence of the inspirer without pointing to the inspired work for evidence. As it stands, I find the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy far more relevant to my life than the Bible. That's probably because I make sandwiches more than I stone unruly children.

Reverend Phillip Brown said...

Hi Evan,

You said,

Does God really appear to every person and tell them that the Bible is the word of God? Nope. He doesn't.

I agree.

You said,

So your argument falls apart.

How?

You said,

Some people believe that their scriptures are the word of God. Those people try to convince other people that it is God talking through their book.

Fine!

You said,

But if it really was God talking through them ... there would be no need of people to do it. Everyone would already be convinced ... and there would be unanimity.

I agree.

You said,

So again, to the Muslim you are presumptuous in suggesting there is more than one God. To the Mormon you are presumptuous by not accepting the testimony of Joseph Smith. To the atheist all of you (Christian, Muslim, Mormon) are presumptuous because you claim to understand far more than the data would allow you to understand on the basis of agreed upon facts that don't depend on your religion.

Sure but you do the same. Black holes I assume you believe in yet, you cannot observe them or directly study them in fact only theoretical evidence and implied astrophysical consequences suggest they exist? So are you saying black holes depend on religion?

You said,

How can you say that Calvin solves this? Do all Muslims read Calvin and then convert? Do all Mormons read Calvin and abandon the LDS church?

No they don't. But methinks you miss the point. Calvin offers a solution to revelation based knowledge, i.e. divine inspiration. The knowledge of divine inspiration will not grantee its effectiveness. Just like knowledge that love exists will not mean you will find love!

You said,

It's really a problem for the theist who posits a God who wants to save people.

Yes this is the most intelligent thing you say thus far. And here is a troubling question for you, what if God wants judgement as much a salvation? Then what do you do?

You said.

Obviously if you accept Christianity you must believe that God will appear to people to convince them out of skepticism. So why doesn't he do it all the time?

The answer is in the question does God want salvation as much as judgement.

Regards, Rev. Phil.

Author of the blog "Christianity Versus Atheism" http://christianityversusatheism.blogspot.com/

Jason said...

John,

Instead of scolding someone by telling them not to "say that again" until they've read your book (gosh, it even comes with a link to Amazon!), why not do the sensible thing and simply made your book available online as a free download?

oli said...

Just rereading my post i realise that i have credited Evan with Brians_g's arguements. My humble apologies Evan, my error. And Brian_g, apologies also.

Jason, i'd assume John doesn't make his book freely available for the same reason most authors don't, i.e. he has to pay the bills.

And to the good Rev. Your question, Does god want Judgement as much as salvation? What Judgement? What have i done to deserve the torments of hell?
The answer i'm sure you'll agree is nothing. I'm a moral person, i don't steal, kill, abuse, cheat, lie or slander. The only sins i could be judged on are those against god himself, i.e blasphemy, original sin, disbelief, etc. What how can he judge me guilty of those sins when he has not revealed himself to me sufficient to convince me he even exists.
Or is it his plan to hide in the shadows, wait til i die then leap out and go "Hah, you didn't believe in me, off to hell!"
Thats the behaviour of a monster.

Reverend Phillip Brown said...

@ Oli

You said,

So I can become a christian, believe it all my life and still go to hell because god pre-ordained it. So basically from my birth onwards there is no conceivable way to save me from hell? That seems not only silly but evil.

False dichotomy. If you believe then God has chosen.

@ Icelander

You said,

So those books are wrong because they're not Christianity? I smell a false dichotomy.

No! These books discredit Christianity [Jesus Christ] but give no evidence other than a single revelation, so why are these better?

You said,

Also, to claim a book is inspired, one would have to provide evidence of the inspirer without pointing to the inspired work for evidence.

No, that would be like trying to find Shakespeare without Hamlet or any of his plays or poems? Inspiration comes from observing inspired works.

As it stands, I find the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy far more relevant to my life than the Bible. That's probably because I make sandwiches more than I stone unruly children.

Yes good rhetoric. But here is the thing, how should we treat our neighbor? Your answer 42 the christian, love like yourself? Where is your relevance?

Regards, Rev Phil.

Author of the blog "Christianity Versus Atheism" http://christianityversusatheism.blogspot.com/

Reverend Phillip Brown said...

@ Oll

You said,

And to the good Rev. Your question, Does god want Judgement as much as salvation? What Judgement? What have i done to deserve the torments of hell?

Easy have you let God be God? I think no because you are fundamentally denying his existence, you perhaps have not?

You said,

The answer i'm sure you'll agree is nothing.

See above.

You said,

The only sins i could be judged on are those against god himself, i.e blasphemy, original sin, disbelief, etc.

Yes I agree and that is the most fundamental of sins. This actually comes back to the definition of sin. Stealing, murder, adultery are all symptoms of sin, letting God be God and listening to His promises.

You said,

What [sic] how [sic] can he judge me guilty of those sins when he has not revealed himself to me sufficient to convince me he even exists.

EXCELLENT! Here is the answer. The Bible makes it clear that all people suppress the knowledge of God. So it takes a double act of God to convince. Why does he find fault, because initially you denied God. Perhaps the real question is why does He reveal/convince to some and not others.

You said,

Or is it his plan to hide in the shadows, wait til i die then leap out and go "Hah, you didn't believe in me, off to hell!"
Thats the behaviour of a monster.

I agree, but this is not the God I worship.

Regards, Rev. Phil.

Author of the blog "Christianity Versus Atheism" http://christianityversusatheism.blogspot.com/

Reverend Phillip Brown said...

Brian G.

Cheers, thanks and I totally agree.

Rev.

Evan said...

Rev. Phil said,

I agree, but this is not the God I worship.

And we reach the final terminus of the presumption.

Thousands of differing Christian sects exist, all with odd cultish variants. Thousands of theological tracts exist, each with variations and giant disagreements over matters of substance (soteriology, eschatology, Christology, theodicy to name a few). Huge schisms between Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant Arminians, Reformed Protestants and Liberal Christians -- yet all presume that they alone are right.

It's really mind-boggling. The theological variation within Christianity proves there is no such thing as a testimony of the Holy Spirit, yet Christians just can't see it.

Was Luther's testimony better than that of King Henry VIII (Tudor) who considered him a heretic? Were both of them given better testimony from the Holy Spirit than the Popes they dealt with? Is Rev Phil's testimony better than DSHB's? How can someone tell?

It's presumptuous to assume that one person's Holy Spirit testimony is somehow superior, yet it is done on a minute-to-minute basis by believers of all faiths.

Again, how do you know that your interpretation of God is correct Rev. Phil?

As for God wanting judgment as much as he wants salvation -- are you saying that he's not just loving, he's also a huge dick?

Is that really what the Holy Spirit is preaching to you?

oli said...

Hi Rev, thanks for the speedy reply.

I said
Or is it his plan to hide in the shadows, wait til i die then leap out and go "Hah, you didn't believe in me, off to hell!"
Thats the behaviour of a monster.

Then you said
I agree, but this is not the God I worship.

Except it clearly is!

Thats put this in sequence.
1) I am not convinced of the existence of god
2) I am not convinced because the evidence is so weak leaving only personal divine revelation.
3) God has not seen fit to divine reveal himself to me. Since i have no control over this, it is under gods purview.
4) Since i don't believe in god, the very concept of sin (i.e. rebellion against god) has no meaning to me. I cannot rebel against that which i do not belief in.
5) If I die and it turns out i am wrong, god sends me packing to hell because i have committed sin

How can you not understand that this is barbaric. Its like punishing a child for an arbitrary and illogical reason.

And you keep refering to the bible. Why the bible? Why not the Bhagavad Gita, why not the Koran?
Tell me why the bible is right and these are wrong! I've got a copy of the satanic bible on my bookshelf next to a gideons bible, how am i to tell which is the book to follow? The satanic bible is certainly better written (well, the first half is anyway).

Can't you see your arguement is entirely cyclic.
1) Worship god for all the reasons in the bible
2) the bible is true because god divinely inspired it
3) we know he inspired it because it says so in the bible and in subsequent church decrees.
4) therefore go to 1).


Ultimately my crimes are Gods fault. I do not control divine revelation. God does. Since divine revelation is the only way to know god (what with there being no way to distinguish the truth of the bible from other holy texts) and since my crime is not believing in god, how am i guilty?

Imagine putting three cards in front of a child. The cards read "My car is red", "My car is blue" and "my car is black". You know what colour the car actually is but you decide not to tell the child. Then you make him guess which card is right and if he gets it wrong, you smack him upside the head and berate him for not knowing the right answer. Thats essentially what this is.

icelander said...

"No! These books discredit Christianity [Jesus Christ] but give no evidence other than a single revelation, so why are these better?"

Argument ad populum. Just because there's more of something doesn't make it right. If this were true, cockroaches would be the dominant species on the planet.

"No, that would be like trying to find Shakespeare without Hamlet or any of his plays or poems? Inspiration comes from observing inspired works."

We can also look at accounts from his contemporaries, historical documents, and other pieces of evidence to determine who Shakespeare was. Unlike god, we don't have to rely solely on his inspired works to know Shakespeare existed.

"Yes good rhetoric. But here is the thing, how should we treat our neighbor? Your answer 42 the christian, love like yourself? Where is your relevance?"

My point is that many books can give answers, and the Bible isn't a particularly good or bad source for the answers in life. Saying one book or another is the source of ultimate truth, or is a manual for how you should live your life, is simply wrong.

And I'm sure the citizens of Ai (Joshua 8) would have liked the Israelites to love their neighbors a bit more.

Reverend Phillip Brown said...

Hey Evan,

You said.

It's really mind-boggling. The theological variation within Christianity proves there is no such thing as a testimony of the Holy Spirit, yet Christians just can't see it.

Same can be said of Atheists, Scientists, Musicians in fact anything. Variation in adherence does not disprove reality. Again the previous example will suffice, different expression of love, ergo, agape etc, does not disprove the fact love exists!

You said,

Was Luther's testimony better than that of King Henry VIII (Tudor) who considered him a heretic?
Were both of them given better testimony from the Holy Spirit than the Popes they dealt with? Is Rev Phil's testimony better than DSHB's? How can someone tell?

Yea, good question but the moving hermeneutic is getting tiresome. Variation does not disprove anything. Subjective divine confirmation is for the individual not the general, that was the original question as to why some do not believe?

It appears you have switched to which subjective witness should be considered as correct? Is that right? The answer is easy, subjective witness opinion can not be pitted against the other. But it can accord with what Christians call the individual and public witness of the Holy Spirit. Which means if the witness of the Spirit in the person accords with the witness of the Spirit in the scriptures then that is the correct one. So Luther is correct, better than Henry and the popes. As for DSHB's I have no idea what you mean, sorry.

You said,

It's presumptuous to assume that one person's Holy Spirit testimony is somehow superior, yet it is done on a minute-to-minute basis by believers of all faiths.

I agree. But this argument is alike to saying Mozart is a bad composer because the Melbourne Orchestra played his music in a awful manner. Very weak. And I'm sure you have picked up the circular argument of my comment. i.e. spirit gives credence to scripture and scripture gives credence to spirit. But the positioning of the theory is in what Jesus taught. That is the objective position.

You said,

Again, how do you know that your interpretation of God is correct Rev. Phil?

Scripture confirms the witness in Spirit.

You said.

As for God wanting judgment as much as he wants salvation -- are you saying that he's not just loving, he's also a huge dick?

Is that really what the Holy Spirit is preaching to you?

No, I asked you the question?

Regards, Rev. Phil.

Author of the blog "Christianity Versus Atheism" http://christianityversusatheism.blogspot.com/

brian_g said...


Brian_g said...Is this the best you've got?

Stephen Law once said on his blog:

“Anything complete enough will be so long that no one will read it anyway, and anything that is short enough to actually be read will be trivial and poorly executed.”

You need to read my whole case as found in my book. If you do not wish to bother with it then do not say that again. Deal?



John, do you have anything to say other then pitch your book? I buy your book if I become convinced that it has something worth reading it it.

Reverend Phillip Brown said...

Hey Oll,

Speedy reply... its 2:45am here in Australia!! Keen to reply though.

You said,

Thats put this in sequence.
1) I am not convinced of the existence of god
2) I am not convinced because the evidence is so weak leaving only personal divine revelation.
3) God has not seen fit to divine reveal himself to me. Since i have no control over this, it is under gods purview.
4) Since i don't believe in god, the very concept of sin (i.e. rebellion against god) has no meaning to me. I cannot rebel against that which i do not belief in.
5) If I die and it turns out i am wrong, god sends me packing to hell because i have committed sin

How can you not understand that this is barbaric. Its like punishing a child for an arbitrary and illogical reason.

Yea GOOD REASONING. Perfect in fact. A Fundamental problem for the Calvinist.

Here is my answer though it is not shared by many.

The doctrine of judgement is influenced in part by the doctrine of creation. Consequently if it is right for a human to destroy and burn the house he built with his bare hands then it is also right for God of the universe to destroy the humans he created with his very words he spoke. Barbaric only from a human perspective.

You said,

And you keep refering to the bible. Why the bible? Why not the Bhagavad Gita, why not the Koran?
Tell me why the bible is right and these are wrong! I've got a copy of the satanic bible on my bookshelf next to a gideons bible, how am i to tell which is the book to follow? The satanic bible is certainly better written (well, the first half is anyway).

Yea ok, fair point, needs a blog for a different time. Suffice to say I have answered in part some of these questions on my blog from people on this very site. A question to you though is why not the bible? But I acknowledge this is weak in context. Feel free to disregard.

You said,

Can't you see your arguement is entirely cyclic.
1) Worship god for all the reasons in the bible
2) the bible is true because god divinely inspired it
3) we know he inspired it because it says so in the bible and in subsequent church decrees.
4) therefore go to 1).

Yea I acknowledged it previously. But the differential point is that Jesus originally confirmed the scriptures and the testimony of the spirit. So while the argument may appear in this fashion presently it was not originally. Jesus Christ was the key. Debunk Christ and you Debunk Christianity.

You said,

Ultimately my crimes are Gods [sic] fault. I do not control divine revelation. [sic] God does. Since divine revelation is the only way to know god (what with there being no way to distinguish the truth of the bible from other holy texts) and since my crime is not believing in god, how am i guilty?

(1) Divine revelation is not the only way to know God rather the only way to have faith in God.

Therefore you are guilty, As Jesus says "even the demons have knowledge of God."

You said,

Imagine putting three cards in front of a child. The cards read "My car is red", "My car is blue" and "my car is black". You know what colour the car actually is but you decide not to tell the child. Then you make him guess which card is right and if he gets it wrong, you smack him upside the head and berate him for not knowing the right answer. Thats essentially what this is.

Pointless comment. God does not refuse knowledge rather faith.

Regards, Rev. Phil.

Author of the blog "Christianity Versus Atheism" http://christianityversusatheism.blogspot.com/

John W. Loftus said...

Brian_g, let's see, I didn't say everything I know in one post so you faulted me for that. Then when I pointed to a place where I do, you say I'm pitching my book.

Okay, I guess.

But I have much less respect for your reasoning abilities than I did. As I've said before to people, with thinking skills like that no wonder you believe.

And as far as YOU getting my book goes, let me emphasize that I don't care if you do. If you don't want to get it, then don't. It won't bother me a bit. But, don't ever ask me if that's all I've got again, okay? THAT was MY point there and nothing else, since you apparently missed it.

Reverend Phillip Brown said...

@ Icelander

You said,

Argument ad populum. Just because there's more of something doesn't make it right. If this were true, cockroaches would be the dominant species on the planet.

Not sure what you mean???????


You said,

We can also look at accounts from his contemporaries, historical documents, and other pieces of evidence to determine who Shakespeare was. Unlike god, we don't have to rely solely on his inspired works to know Shakespeare existed.

So can we with Jesus Christ (God). Historical documents, religious contemporaries, and secular contemporaries, not to mention archeological evidence.

You said,

My point is that many books can give answers, and the Bible isn't a particularly good or bad source for the answers in life.

Yes but this is your opinion....? You have yet to show why it is a bad source of answers? Are you suggesting your opinion is subject on your experience??????

You said,

Saying one book or another is the source of ultimate truth, or is a manual for how you should live your life, is simply wrong.

Why? What evidence do you have?

Regards, Rev. Phil.

Author of the blog "Christianity Versus Atheism" http://christianityversusatheism.blogspot.com/

Evan said...

Rev Phil, you're asking me a question about God? I don't believe there's a God. Not only that, all atheists don't believe there's a God.

It's 100%.

Atheists don't believe there's a God. That is probably one of the only things we all agree on, but no other beliefs necessarily follow from our belief. Some Christians believe that God is one way, many believe he's another way, a small few believe another thing.

Your dodge about scripture is sad and again, presumptuous. You know that all Protestants are not Lutherans, yet there are still Lutherans. So how did these Bible-following people end up disagreeing on the interpretation of scripture when the Holy Spirit was guiding them?

The Holy Spirit should learn a language. It would help her out.

My explanation for the diversity of belief both within religions and among religions is complete and explains the data perfectly: religions are man-made.

Your explanation is far weaker: God (who is perfect, loving, benevolent, just and omniscient) made one religion but mankind, with God's help, has hopelessly screwed it up such that only a tiny percentage of the human beings who have ever lived have actually figured it out.

How do you defend that position?

Reverend Phillip Brown said...

Hey Evan,

You said,

Rev Phil, you're asking me a question about God? I don't believe there's a God. Not only that, all atheists don't believe there's a God.

Yes. This site is debunking Christianity, so an opinion about where Christianity is going wrong is mandated in the title. You have said on a comment on this site...

In other words, we fall again on the Christian's self-refutation. They make claims about God. Non-Christian-theists, non-theists, agnostics and atheists then say, "If your God is as you say, the world should be different."

But yet you do the same. You make a claim I ask you for clarification and you site faith as an anti-deity? This is beyond you Evan. Stop hiding behind rhetoric as you so aptly remind the Christian.

You said,

It's 100%.

A 100% so you cannot answer? Seems maybe less than that!

You said,

Atheists don't believe there's a God. That is probably one of the only things we all agree on, but no other beliefs necessarily follow from our belief. Some Christians believe that God is one way, many believe he's another way, a small few believe another thing.

Again I remind you of the title of this Blog.

You said,

Your dodge about scripture is sad and again, presumptuous. You know that all Protestants are not Lutherans, yet there are still Lutherans. So how did these Bible-following people end up disagreeing on the interpretation of scripture when the Holy Spirit was guiding them?

GOOD QUESTION! Sorry though you have chosen to think it is sad. Lutherans and Protestants both believe in Lutherans doctrine. Why do they disagree, because both make mistakes. The spirit of God does not rule out sin in this life time. Eschatology will completing doctrine that answers this question.

You said.

The Holy Spirit should learn a language. It would help her out.

All she [He] has to do is inspire humans and she [He] does.

Point of correction, the Greek New Testament does not present the Holy Spirit in the feminine.

You said,

My explanations for the diversity of belief both within religions and among religions is complete and explains the data perfectly: religions are man-made.

No it does not Evan, It offers an opinion yet to be based in evidence. I have not found it on this site or others yet. Furthermore many of you fail to engage with me on my site. If its 100% and proven then please enlighten me. My blog is waiting.....

You said,

Your explanation is far weaker: God (who is perfect, loving, benevolent, just and omniscient) made one religion but mankind, with God's help, has hopelessly screwed it up such that only a tiny percentage of the human beings who have ever lived have actually figured it out.

How do you defend that position?

I don't have to. Again this is a very egocentric doctrine. If God is in control then humans cannot muck it up.

Regards, Rev. Phil.

Author of the blog "Christianity Versus Atheism" http://christianityversusatheism.blogspot.com/

Evan said...

Rev Phil:

Do you believe some religions are man-made? I hope you do, or it would undercut seriously your position.

So I'm curious if you believe it is possible for any religion to be man-made. If you do, then you are faced with a problem though.

If some religions can be man-made, how do you determine that your religion is not man-made? Did no men make it?

Is it all from God?

You ask me about evidence. I await compelling evidence that your or any religion is provably from God. I am quite sure I will wait forever for that, since the plurality of religions does not square with a Holy Spirit-inspired unanimity of belief.

As for the Holy Spirit, I guess since it impregnated Mary it must have a penis, so I accept your correction. He needs to learn a language.

If you think nobody has debunked Christ -- I encourage you to read GA Wells, RM Price, Richard Carrier and others. The Jesus of history is a narrow thread on which to hang the Christ of faith.

brian_g said...


Brian_g.
I think i get the idea of your post. Forbidden fruit is indeed tastiest of all. That said, you seem to make no distinction between morality and law (even christian law). I guess thats because to a christian authority IS morality. Some of the things you list, eating meat on ash wednesday, sleeping in on sunday, smoking a joint really aren't matters of morality (if you grow your own dope, dealing with gangsters to get it certainly is).


Yes some of the things on my list are merely Catholic law and could be change by the Church such as religious duties to attend church on Sundays and to abstain from meat on Ash Wednesday. So they are not "absolute morality." But they are things binding on my conscience. My point is that an atheist must feel liberated from not being bound to those kinds of things. It's doesn't really matter what kinds of things we're talking about. It may be different for each person.





Wearing a condom all day long? Really, why would you want to do that, it'd really chafe after a few hours.


I suppose the forbidden fruit isn't always as tasty as it sounds.





The whole point about alternative religions to christianity isn't that it disproves it. Its that god has NO excuse for me going to hell. It is not my fault if i do not believe it is his. He knows what i need to convince me, he has so far failed to provide this.


God doesn't send people to hell for anything which is no fault of their own.
"To whom much is given, much will be required."







Furthermore, how am i supposed to decide which god is correct. The bible is no more authoritive or inerrant than the Koran or Torah or the mormons tome, or the teachings of buddha or the Bhagavad gita. How am i suppose to pick the correct religion.
In fact that could be my biggest question to god if he were real and i could speak to him.
"How am i meant to tell which religion is the correct one?"


I would suggest researching and comparing them. Ask Christians what evidence is there for Christianity?
Then ask the same question of Muslims and Hindus, and Buddhists. These four religions, plus the broad category of non-religious, make up about 90% of what people think. Here's a summary of what I've found in my study.

1) Christianity -- primary argument is the resurrection of Jesus. Based on the discovery of the empty tomb and his appearance to his disciples after his death.

2) Islam -- primary argument is the perfection of the Quran. The book is the most beautiful and accurate. There is even a challenge proposed to people who doubt: just write a single chapter equal to the Quran. To date no one has been able to meet this challenge.

3) Hindu -- To date, I cannot find any Hindu apologetics. They don't find it particularly important to convert people and they don't show much interest in having evidence.

4) Buddhism -- Similar to Hinduism, there isn't much Buddhist apologetics out there. The one article I found made a case like this: Belief in God is problematic because there are so many ideas of God(s) out there. Evidence for the re-incarnation of the soul can be found by the analogy we see in nature: a consistent cycle of death and rebirth.

brian_g said...


Brian_g, let's see, I didn't say everything I know in one post so you faulted me for that. Then when I pointed to a place where I do, you say I'm pitching my book.

Okay, I guess.

But I have much less respect for your reasoning abilities than I did. As I've said before to people, with thinking skills like that no wonder you believe.

And as far as YOU getting my book goes, let me emphasize that I don't care if you do. If you don't want to get it, then don't. It won't bother me a bit. But, don't ever ask me if that's all I've got again, okay? THAT was MY point there and nothing else, since you apparently missed it.


I think you misunderstood me. I'll quote myself:

"I'd much prefer to discuss particular points of evidence. I've tried to do precisely this in my comments. However, time after time, my critics have fallen silent. Where are the debunkers on Debunking Christianity? Is this the best you've got?"

First of all, my comment was not directed at you personally,it was directed to the atheist community at large at Debunking Christianity.

Second, my criticism is about how the arguments have been handled on this blog which have been discussed, not merely a criticism of the the things which have not. I'm as much limited by the space and time constraints as anyone else on the blog. My observation is that several challenges have been made to Christians. I've answered them and then the critics either have stopped responding or have changed the topic. And then I'm told that God's existence has been completely refuted.

As you said, I'm sure your book discusses many issues that are too complex to discuss here. However, the constant appeal to "read your book," is not helping deal with the arguments discussed here. Even if I do read your book, I'm not going to write a point by point rebuttal to post on you blog, for the same reason your not going to post a book length rebuttal to Christianity.
The Christians on this blog could do the same thing. "Just read XYZ, and it will explain everything."

eheffa said...

For The Rev & brian_g...

The problem with Christianity is that it stands or falls on the authenticity of its claimed history; a history of an all-powerful, all-knowing, loving God intervening in the the affairs of men to make himself know to them.

When one looks for evidence of the historical veracity of the OT or some sort of corroborative evidence that the pivotal events of the NT actually happened, one finds nothing but big blanks where there should be data. Is it possible that the Bible version of what happened is in error? Could this "Greatest Story Ever Told" be nothing more than a fiction?

I think that any open-minded person looking at the evidence for a real Jesus & any sense that we have an accurate account of what he did or said will conclude that we have nothing that comes even close to reliable or dependable. In fact, the more closely one looks the more likely it seems that Christianity is founded on a pious fabrication. Some of this criticism of the NT ends up as an argument from silence as there is simply no good third party evidence to support the notion that the Gospel stories or the Book of Acts are anything but midrashic or allegorical fiction. But the most likely explanation for this absence of corroborative data is that the stories were created long after the time in which they were supposed to have happened.

The OT fares even worse in that the supposed historical tales of the origins of the universe & the history of God's chosen people are overwhelmingly contradicted by science and archeology.

Let's just admit it. The Bible is an elaborate fiction and not worthy of any truth-seeking person's allegiance. The apologists' contorted arguments notwithstanding, the Bible is simply not the creation of any sort of Omniscient Deity.

-evan

The evidence for the OT is

ahswan said...

You have a need to believe based on a fear of death, the need for moral certitude and/or a blissful hope in an afterlife.

John, This is an interesting claim, and perhaps after years of counseling I may discover this is true, but in all honesty I don't think it is. For some reason, I have fear of death regardless of my eschatology. I think believing there is nothing after death would be somewhat comforting...

But, you ask some very good questions, that I've been pondering myself. I don't have any quick, easy answers. (But then, I'm not a Calvinist.) If and when I have a reasonable theory, I'll let you know.

I was thinking you may enjoy NT Wright's recent book, "Surprised by Hope." It doesn't address your questions, but it does provide a very fresh look at the whole heaven/hell thing. Most atheists, like many Christians, have accepted Dante's vision of hell- which is not presented in the Bible (unless you read it with Dante already in mind). Just a though.

Reverend Phillip Brown said...

Hi Evan,

You said.

Rev Phil:

Do you believe some religions are man-made? I hope you do, or it would undercut seriously your position.

I think its a little more complicated than that but essentially Yes.

You said,

So I'm curious if you believe it is possible for any religion to be man-made. If you do, then you are faced with a problem though.

If some religions can be man-made, how do you determine that your religion is not man-made? Did no men make it?

Easy, test the evidence in variety of fields. Are they internally theologically sound? Does secular witness agree, etc. You may scoff but I guess this is the purpose of the Blog.

You said,

You ask me about evidence. I await compelling evidence that your or any religion is provably from God. I am quite sure I will wait forever for that, since the plurality of religions does not square with a Holy Spirit-inspired unanimity of belief.

I think it does square but this will need further articulation from you as I am quite unsure what you mean. In regards to waiting for evidence I want to direct you my most recent entry on my blog.

You said.

As for the Holy Spirit, I guess since it impregnated Mary it must have a penis, so I accept your correction. He needs to learn a language.

He He, just like all IVF needles have a penis' too?

You said,

If you think nobody has debunked Christ -- I encourage you to read GA Wells, RM Price, Richard Carrier and others. The Jesus of history is a narrow thread on which to hang the Christ of faith.

Thanks for this I will get reading.

@ Effeha

You said,

When one looks for evidence of the historical veracity of the OT or some sort of corroborative evidence that the pivotal events of the NT actually happened, one finds nothing but big blanks where there should be data. Is it possible that the Bible version of what happened is in error? Could this "Greatest Story Ever Told" be nothing more than a fiction?

Sure but what holes. You generalization is unhelpful.

You said,

In fact, the more closely one looks the more likely it seems that Christianity is founded on a pious fabrication. Some of this criticism of the NT ends up as an argument from silence as there is simply no good third party evidence to support the notion that the Gospel stories .

Please see my blog on the facts of the resurrection.

Regards, Rev. Phil.

Author of the blog "Christianity Versus Atheism" http://christianityversusatheism.blogspot.com/

Reverend Phillip Brown said...

@ Evan,

I need a favor if that's ok.

Could you give me title of the books those authors you suggested. Having a little trouble tracking them down.

Regards, Rev. Phil.

Evan said...

Rev Phil,

Here are three links:

Wells

Price

Carrier's best arguments in print are found here.

Jennifer said...

When one looks for evidence of the historical veracity of the OT or some sort of corroborative evidence that the pivotal events of the NT actually happened, one finds nothing but big blanks where there should be data. Is it possible that the Bible version of what happened is in error? Could this "Greatest Story Ever Told" be nothing more than a fiction?

At one time, not too long ago, the skeptical scholar said there were no Philistines or Hitites etc.. They were absolutely, 100% sure, or at least you would think so from their tongues and pens.

Virginia is still digging for the history of the U.S. and the oldest colony is only 400 years old last year. How can scholars, archaeologists, and historians claim there are huge gaps without running the risk of eating crow later?
I know my own opinion and that is: it is arrogant to make such claims, but my question is not rhetorical.
How?

eheffa said...

Jennifer,

Have a read of this book for starters:

The Bible Unearthed: Archaeology's New Vision of Ancient Israel and the Origin of Its Sacred Texts by Finkelstiein & Silberman

http://www.amazon.ca/Bible-Unearthed-Archaeologys-Vision-Ancient/dp/0684869136/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1223731777&sr=8-1

This is no polemic diatribe of some blind atheist Bible-bashers. They lay out their case with respect & many good references. As Authorities in their field (Ancient Israel archeology) they write with a good comprehensive knowledge of the discipline; nevertheless, their conclusions are devastating to a literal reading of the OT chronology & history of Israel.

The Biblical history of the patriarchs & the Kingdom of Israel is not supported by archeological evidence & is on fact contradicted by the evidence. This is not just an argument from silence.

If this question is important to you, I hope you can find a copy of this book, I hope you find it as helpful as I did...

-evan

Jennifer said...

Thank you Evan, I will add that book to my list. I'm not sure if it will change the reality that there may be more found at a later date to fill in missing pieces, but I will keep an open mind.

Manifesting Mini Me (MMM) said...

As to each of the questions posed (e.g., are we ignorant, willfully disobedient of the truth, failed to experience God) I would answer "no" to each. That is due to my own firsthand experience. I was not ignorant academically, I was not willfully disobedient nor was I without firsthand experience of the Holy Spirit before I entered into atheism. What I didn't realize is that I had been co-opted into a life approach that was counter to God's Way or practicing love. There was a subliminal message that kept me from believing and whole heartedly connecting and trusting - I didn't have the ability to make a conscientious choice that would cause me to trust and believe God - all I had was a base thirst and hunger for something different than the progressive and inner perishing I was experiencing. I didn't need comforting and consolation, I needed a courageous God who could take my aggression and hostility (like Jesus who said to eat His body and drink His blood) and reveal why I was infected with such. I needed a God who could set me free from the generational fears, contempt and hatred that had been passed down to me.

At any rate, I've written ad nauseum about my experiences here and how my former faith was in a Jesus idol so I won't go into it again.

John wrote, "You have a need to believe based on a fear of death, the need for moral certitude and/or a blissful hope in an afterlife. All skeptics have to do is show you why you are wrong, and we do." I wanted to address this so-called need of a believer to embrace a concept of eternal life based on a fear of death. By faith, I've been set free of most fear including death, but the main fear that I'm rid of is the fear of living - living life to the full! That was my main fear - fear of living.

As far as a need for moral certitude - if I were clinging to a moral code as the ultimate religious or divine pursuit, that would be pitiful. Morality happens, but not as the ultimate pursuit, but rather, as a path clearing practice towards something that I have found to be priceless compared to anything else I've known.

At any rate, take care,
3M

matt said...

"Do we need to experience something that we didn't? What kind of experience do you mean? A miracle? Well, whose fault is that? God knows what we need to believe, and if so, why doesn’t he provide it?"

Right. If God exists, then he (being omnipotent) knows that I am the kind of person that simply refuses to believe in something without some evidence. So if we assume that He is a nice old chap then he'd want me to believe in Him so I could go to Heaven and get all comfy on the cloud, and so on.

Therefore, he'd provide some evidence of his existence. Something concrete, not some event that could be explained away, or some random occurrence. He, or one of his messengers, would appear in front of me, do some awesome tricks, heal my bad knee with immediate effect, and then we'd talk turkey.

But NO, I have to have blind faith in Him in order to believe in his existence? What? Seriously?