Atheist or Anti-Theist?

February 4, 2008 at 8:00 pm 90 comments

Anti Religion BadgeWhen I first started to self-identify as an atheist, I held several positions that I have since rejected. An example of one of these was the notion that science answers “how” questions and religion answers “why” questions. Although I was unaware of him at the time, I would have agreed with Gould’s non-overlapping magisterium. Now I don’t. I don’t actually believe religion has anything worthwhile to say on anything.

Religion never shied away from making bold claims about the world when it was talking to an ignorant unscientific audience. If religion doesn’t overlap with science today it is only because the religious are rightly afraid to compete with science; a battle they have historically always lost.

Some fundamentalists aren’t happy to remain on their side of the playground however; they actively undermine legitimate science and try to have their view of reality supersede any other. Finally, religion makes numerous claims that are incompatible with scientific knowledge. Some theists rationalise these incongruities by appealing to symbolism or non-literalism. That’s their choice, but I don’t think you can justify every contradiction, and indeed if religion was true, why would you have to?

Another position that I used to tacitly hold is that religion can do whatever it wants, as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone. That is after all, one of my universal principles for living: do as you wish, as long as no one is harmed. In theory, if religion also lived by the same precepts, I would have little problem with it. I don’t agree with everyone’s worldview, but I would hate to see a world where any worldview was imposed. In my ideal world, free speech, free inquiry, and freedom of belief (or non-belief) would be permanent inalienable human rights. The reason I am so opposed to religion is because it embodies everything that civilised society should not want to see realised on any scale.

I see no reason to believe in anything supernatural, which obviously includes god. That makes me an atheist. But what about anti-theism? You don’t have to be an atheist to be an anti-theist strictly speaking. One could fully believe in a god and also be opposed to him and his regime. One assumes that the character of Satan is an anti-theist. Being an atheist doesn’t necessarily mean you’re an anti-theist either. I don’t know many atheists personally who self-identify as anti-theists, but this might just be because they don’t know of, or like to use, the expression. I will explain why I’m an anti-theist.

First, I’d like to point out that there doesn’t seem to be one theist who doesn’t dislike the idea of what they believe in. This may seem like a rather obvious point, but is subtly powerful. There are many facts about the world we accept. Some of them we like and some of them we dislike. Some we are glad are the case, and some we wish were different. But we accept it. I don’t like the fact that I will die, but I accept it. I don’t like losing, but it happens (occasionally). I don’t like having to pay so much in taxes, but it’s a fact of life. A nihilist may consider the ephemeral nature of life as inferring that life is meaningless, whereas a humanist would infer that life is even more precious because it is so brief. Isn’t it rather convenient that there isn’t one theist who believes in a god and doesn’t wish it were true? If it were so obvious that a god existed, why are the only ones who believe in him those who wish it were also true?

The following are notions that all monotheisms hold. From Christopher Hitchens’ God is Not Great, Chapter 15, page 205:

  • Presenting a false picture of the world to the innocent and credulous
  • The doctrine of blood sacrifice
  • The doctrine of atonement
  • The doctrine of eternal reward and/or punishment
  • The imposition of impossible tasks and rules

I am not just an atheist. I’m an anti-theist because I am strongly opposed to the very foundations of religion itself.

Religion lies to people about how the world really is. Where it doesn’t lie, it actively makes claims that it cannot possibly know, which is as much the same thing. It befouls the minds of children (and in many instances mutilates the genitalia of children) with falsehoods and superstitions.

Religion dictates that sacrifices, of some sort of other but nearly always blood, are a necessary part of a believer’s life.

Religion decrees that we must keep atoning for our very nature constantly; that we are wicked, licentious, and depraved, and that our natural desires and bodily functions are shameful and something be repressed. Religion has always criminalised homosexuality and any sexual freedom. Religion has historically been one of the greatest oppressors of women in all times.

Religion offers what it has no right to offer: forgiveness of and for another person. It offers the ultimate reward that it has no possible way to know of. It also threatens eternal torture in the most sadistic and execrable way for those who will not accept the shotgun offer it proposes.

Finally, religion demeans humans by demanding the impossible and then condemning us for not living up to its own warped notions of perfection. There are ridiculous restrictions on diet, entertainment, language, and association. Restrictions on not only who you can have sex with but also in what sexual positions you may copulate.

One or all of the above are symptomatic of all religions. They are the antithesis of the most noble and enlightened concepts that humanity has to offer: tolerance of humans, freedom for humans, respect for humans.

Not only do I not believe in a god, I am glad that the god of monotheism doesn’t exist. Imagine living in a world where the god of religion existed. It would be like living in a theocratic police state, where you can be convicted for the crime of thought; virtually the very definition of totalitarian. Where the entire purpose in your life is to serve and worship and venerate another being; where you owe everything you have to a galactic dictator who you never elected, and you’re born into a system of total mental and physical control that you had no say in choosing.

The central figure in this eternal Dominion is a being who apparently knows you before you were even born, who watches you every single minute of every day of your life, and whose control over you reaches beyond death! As Hitchens observes, even in human totalitarian regimes, or in Orwell’s 1984, at least you can die and escape the regime. With religion, not even death is an escape, and indeed for any supposed crime you commit, an afterlife of eternal torture awaits you.

In this theocratic regime, freedom of speech would be as unknown as the theory of evolution. Who you choose to fall in love with, and how you choose to make love, would be under constant surveillance on penalty of death.

In this regime, you have to accept responsibility for the crimes of others that you had no part of, incur their bloodguilt, and unconditionally receive the only way to be absolved of this guilt: accepting the blood sacrifice by torture of another person that you had no say in at all.

No thank you, I don’t want it. I reject the very absurd notion of original sin; that I have somehow transgressed for someone else’s actions; this is the very opposite of justice. I reject the exculpation offered to me that was supposedly paid for by a process of human sacrifice to appease the blood thirst of the Divine One; a sacrifice that was necessarily the murder of an innocent man, something I would have objected to anyway.

And if I reject this barbaric offer, am I free to live my life my own way and die as all people must? No. If I refuse the “gift” I never asked for and never wanted, I can be promised an eternal live roasting.

This is why I positively reject religion and theism. As a thinking human being I could not, in good conscience, be party to such an inhuman and cruel regime, and I could not worship or love such a dictator. Humans beings with ethics, self-respect, and intelligence, should refuse to submit to any theocracy. That is why the necessity is not just of atheism, but anti-theism.

- evanescent

Entry filed under: evanescent. Tags: , , , , .

On Dealing With Christians A Short Blurb on Theism vs Atheism

90 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Samuel Skinner  |  February 4, 2008 at 8:26 pm

    Company!

  • 2. Jersey  |  February 4, 2008 at 8:47 pm

    I am an atheist, I choose not to recognize the existence of any deity. While for a time I was also anti-theist, being very hostile to Ibrahimic religions in particular, I have come to the conclusion that it is better to live and let live than to be hostile over whose beliefs and ideas are correct. Agnostics perhaps have a better solution than what we got: atheists and theists mostly believe what they stand for, but agnostic stances are based on our knowledge of its existence, or in this case lack of.

  • 3. LeoPardus  |  February 4, 2008 at 9:01 pm

    You’re entitled to your opinion. I thoroughly disagree with it. It’s nasty and bad-tempered and badly unbalanced. But I can live and let live. Just so long as you, or folks like you, don’t want to take your bad attitude and start trying to be anti-evangelists with it.

  • 4. carriedthecross  |  February 4, 2008 at 9:22 pm

    “I am not just an atheist. I’m an anti-theist because I am strongly opposed to the very foundations of religion itself.”

    I, too, am opposed to religion. But be careful that you do not become intolerant to religious people. If that happens, then you become what it is you started out opposing. To steal their own phrase, “Hate the sin, love the sinner.”

    Particularly, it is a struggle for me to remind myself that as a former Christian, I once partook in the same evangelical activities as the others did. I preached at many churches, I witnessed to many people, etc. I hope to show the same kind of compassion and understanding to theists as some atheists showed me during my time as a believer.

    “If religion doesn’t overlap with science today it is only because the religious are rightly afraid to compete with science; a battle they have historically always lost. ”

    Let us not forget that many of the pioneers of modern science were devout Christians. That said, I would agree that contemporary Christian thought does restrain scientific progress.

    “That is why the necessity is not just of atheism, but anti-theism.”

    I agree that nontheism is the next step in human progress. My caution is only the manner in which we go about this process. Religious people have made, and still make, positive contributions to society. I can positively say that I would not be alive today were it not for an encounter with religious people in my adolescent years. Do I think something better can replace religion? Yes. Do I think atheists/humanists/whatever have proposed something that can replace the good parts of religion yet? No.

  • 5. Jersey  |  February 4, 2008 at 9:23 pm

    1) I don’t have a bad attitude.

    2) I am not some anti-evangelist. I keep my own opinions to myself, lest I’m asked, but then again I take on the tune of the general opinion of those around me.

    3) Were you really talking to me or Evanescent?

  • 6. The de-Convert  |  February 4, 2008 at 9:25 pm

    Jersey,

    I’m sure Leo was talking to evanescent. I read evanescent’s post and was waiting for Leo to respond :)

    Paul

  • 7. Jason  |  February 4, 2008 at 9:27 pm

    “Just so long as you, or folks like you, don’t want to take your bad attitude and start trying to be anti-evangelists with it.”

    Would that really be much difference than an evangelist trying to spread his religion? If an Atheist genuinely feels that people would be happier without their religion, and actively tries to spread that view, isn’t that essentially the same thing? I’m not saying I support it (in fact, I’m rather opposed to pushing anyone’s view on anyone; this means I am against “missionaries” as well), but if you think that missionaries are okay and Atheist “missionaries” would not be okay, you’re the one who’s being imbalanced.

  • 8. carriedthecross  |  February 4, 2008 at 9:35 pm

    “Would that really be much difference than an evangelist trying to spread his religion? If an Atheist genuinely feels that people would be happier without their religion, and actively tries to spread that view, isn’t that essentially the same thing?”

    I should let Leo speak for himself, but my take… What matters is attitude, tone, intention. At least from my perspective. I have no problem with trying to “evangelize” theists, in the sense that there is nothing wrong with sharing your opinions in order to persuade others. It becomes a problem, though, when you become patronizing and self-righteous or begin to demean “the opposition.”

    Atheists have a bad rap, in my experience. It seems to be almost a curse word. “Kill them with kindness,” as they say. If the point of becoming vocal about atheists is to drum up support among our own ranks, then lets just go read an Ann Coulter book and emulate her. If we want to change minds and campaign for the progress of humanity, it takes an entirely different tone.

    So sensitive is this topic, I think, that even after carefully trying to withdraw from a ‘militant atheism,’ from time to time I have been accused (on this site, even) of treating theists poorly.

    *shrug* Just some thoughts, maybe I am way off base.

  • 9. BJNebraska  |  February 4, 2008 at 9:37 pm

    Awesome post! I like to think of my anti-theism as trying to save people from a dangerous cult. Of course, our definitions of cult only differ by one “religion”.

  • [...] and anti-theists unite in negativity! At the blog de-conversion, evanescent wrote today about why he’s not just an atheist but an anti-theist as well. [...]

  • 11. Jersey  |  February 4, 2008 at 10:05 pm

    Paul,

    Thanks. Sometimes I have a hard time who the commenter is referring to, someone above them, or the post author. Thanks.

  • 12. TheDeeZone  |  February 4, 2008 at 10:20 pm

    Evanescent
    You presented a rather eloquent explanation of your beliefs. However I disagree with some of your arguments

    Isn’t it rather convenient that there isn’t one theist who believes in a god and doesn’t wish it were true?

    I don’t wish that God exists, I know he exists.

    Finally, religion demeans humans by demanding the impossible and then condemning us for not living up to its own warped notions of perfection.
    It is true that Christians are called to be Holy (See 1 Peter), however that does not mean we are condemened for failing to live up to this.

    CTC,

    I have no problem with trying to “evangelize” theists, in the sense that there is nothing wrong with sharing your opinions in order to persuade others.

    CTC, I agree with you if. As a Christian I I believe it is ok for me to evangelize then I must respect your right to evangelize theists. If the person is someone like myself then it would be a good but friendly debate.

    DH

  • 13. LeoPardus  |  February 4, 2008 at 10:42 pm

    Jersey:

    Yes, I was directing my comments at evanescent. I should have put his name at the top of the reply.

    The de-Convert:

    I read evanescent’s post and was waiting for Leo to respond

    Oh bloody hell. I’m getting predictable.

    Jason:

    Would that really be much difference than an evangelist trying to spread his religion? If an Atheist genuinely feels that people would be happier without their religion, and actively tries to spread that view, isn’t that essentially the same thing?

    You are right. It would. I’m against evangelists of any stripe. Well, at least the obnoxious ones. And militant atheists are obnoxious, and every bit as unpleasant to encounter as any Baptist looking for another notch in his ‘gospel gun’.

  • 14. Jersey  |  February 4, 2008 at 11:05 pm

    Sorry, LP. :)

  • 15. Thinking Ape  |  February 4, 2008 at 11:19 pm

    evanescent,
    I agree with carriedthecross’ initial response re: tolerance/intolerance. It is one thing to disagree and oppose a philosophy or belief system (i.e. theism), and another to be intolerant of the people who espouse such beliefs (i.e. theists).

    Additionally, while I do not believe those things that are inherent in religions (which is really limited to the belief in various supernaturalisms), I cannot agree that certain religions or all aspects of religions have “[nothing] worthwhile to say about anything.” As a young parent, there are certainly some aspects I have taken from historically “Christian” ethics as well as intrinsically “Buddhist” philosophy that I will teach my children. An atheist, by definition, does not have intrinsic values, and an “anti-theist” appears only to oppose all things “theistic.” Does this mean they oppose any value taught by any “theistic” code? Of course not, but the label itself is ambiguous.

    TDZ,

    I don’t wish that God exists, I know he exists.

    By what form of “knowledge” is this? No philosopher of epistemology could make such a claim. No scientist can make such pronouncements. Frankly, you will find very few theologians even suggest such a belief can be “known.” Is it then by some secret revelatory knowledge that is only given to those who are deemed worthy or follow the correct path?
    Where do you draw the line between what you “believe” and what you “know”? The early Christians certainly knew – and they would probably classify you, as well as the majority of Americans, as being duped by the ancient “heresy” of gnosticism. But of course, those dusty theology books aren’t much use to modern day Christians, right?

  • 16. Alek (askiba)  |  February 4, 2008 at 11:34 pm

    Great post! I agree with your points.

  • 17. orDover  |  February 4, 2008 at 11:37 pm

    TheDeeZone,

    I think that yo missed the point which evanescent made that you object to. He was saying that there are not any theists who believe in a god but DO NOT wish that he existed. In other words, where are those who will take the advice of Job’s wife and curse god so that he will kill them? Everyone who believes in god praises god.

    Regarding your second point, I have to completely disagree with you. I was always taught (extremely religious family, 10 years of Christian schooling, etc.) that the entire point of god’s commandments are to highlight how incapable man is of achieving righteousness on his own. He is supposed to come to terms with his incompetence, and then rely on Jesus to make him good (aka “lay it on the cross”). If he fails to live up to the commandments and be obedient to god (which he certainly will, because that is the point), he is condemned. If he lets Jesus make him holy, then he is no longer condemned, but if he rejects Jesus, he is back to square one: condemnation.

  • 18. Asymptosis  |  February 4, 2008 at 11:43 pm

    evanescent,

    There is a difference between religion and theism. Please criticise the actual teachings and specific teachers on a case by case basis, rather than make blanket statements about “religion.” The etymology of the latter indicates a binding, which makes religion a similar word to discipline or yoga.

    Do you have a problem with discipline or yoga?

  • 19. Michelle  |  February 4, 2008 at 11:49 pm

    TA:

    “An atheist, by definition, does not have intrinsic values, and an “anti-theist” appears only to oppose all things “theist.”

    What does this mean? I’ve wondered what the “moral code” is for an atheist and who determines it? Without absolutes, who’s to say what “should” be taught? Or, am I going in a direction not intended?

    “By what form of “knowledge” is this? No philosopher of epistemology could make such a claim. ”

    In modern times Jesus is considered a philosopher and He said we could “know” Him. He is the Logos. Christianity stood firm against gnosticism – the first epistle of St. John and the second epistle of St. Peter speak strongly against the gnostics of the day. The knowledge is not secret as the gnostics and kabbalists would suggest. He freely gives it to all who will receive Him – who desire to be in fellowship with Him.

    “The early Christians certainly knew – and they would probably classify you, as well as the majority of Americans, as being duped by the ancient “heresy” of gnosticism.”

    The charge of gnosticism is much too harsh. Reading the scripture, with the revelatory power of the Holy Spirit, diligent study bathed in prayer can bring us to the true knowledge Christ spoke about.

  • 20. Zach  |  February 4, 2008 at 11:57 pm

    I’ll pray for you. I hope that through Jesus Christ, you become saved. I don’t know when, but I hope you get convicted of your heart to repent of your sins. Of course, I don’t hate you for your view and atheism position. I hate the sin, but I love the sinner.
    May God bless you and keep you safe:)

    In Christ,
    Zach

  • 21. HeIsSailing  |  February 5, 2008 at 12:01 am

    Michelle ponders:
    “I’ve wondered what the “moral code” is for an atheist and who determines it? Without absolutes, who’s to say what “should” be taught? ”

    Michelle, I do not speak for all atheists, only myself, but here is my answer to your question:

    http://de-conversion.com/2008/01/25/there-is-no-universal-standard-of-morality/

    Please read – I would love to hear your response.

  • 22. LeoPardus  |  February 5, 2008 at 1:08 am

    Zach:

    Oh boy. Another drive-by “gospel gun” shooting.

  • 23. Saifuddin  |  February 5, 2008 at 1:12 am

    BismillaharRahmanirRahim

    as-salaamu ‘alaikum.

    -Saifuddin

  • 24. Michelle  |  February 5, 2008 at 1:26 am

    HIS:

    I purposefully stayed out of that debate because of my lack of communication and logic skills. I knew they would become embarrassingly apparent. :)

    I reread it and it seems to have boiled down to atheists believe they are their own moral code and christians base their moral code upon Judeo-Christian teaching. Did I understand correctly?

    Comment 56 and 57, Simen and yours respectively, seem to be saying, Hitler was OK because it’s all based upon our own opinions. ( I said you agreed since you praised his analysis)

    So does this mean Rex Lex was the better choice? Our society is based upon Lex Rex (the Law is King) that Law being the Judeo-Christian Law.

    I’m not capable of anymore tonight – I’ll check back tomorrow.

  • 25. TheDeeZone  |  February 5, 2008 at 2:31 am

    TA,
    The theology books in my house don’t get to dusty, in fact I have 3 sitting beside me know that I was using eariler. I could have given a long discussion but was responding Evanescent statment that Christians wish they knew God existed. I was not getting into a debate over epistemology. I have not be duped by any form of gnostism. Yes, I am well aware of gnotisicm.

    OrDover,
    I believe that salvation is Sola Fida or save by faith not works. Chrisitans are called to be holy as God is holy. This does not mean that Christians are perfect. I do not have to nor am I capable of earning my salvation by my own merits I would fall short of God’s standards. The Bible is also clear that a product my faith will be the fruits of the Spirit: peace, love, joy, patience, etc. Further that faith without works is useless.

    TA & OrDover,

    Yes, my origninal anwers were brief. I have a Masters in Theology and many times edit comments I feel are too long or too preachy.

    DH

  • 26. Reynvaan  |  February 5, 2008 at 2:47 am

    evanescent, I agree with Asymptosis. Not all religions, not even all monotheistic ones, can be described by this post. For example, Advaita Vedanta, which is considered monotheistic in bhakti circles.

    You should definitely be more careful of blanket statements in the future; define which specific traditions you have a problem with.

    And as for religion automatically shutting followers off from science and knowledge, consider the numerous scientific advances that came out of medieval Islam. There’s a monotheistic tradition that gave us things like algebra and bar soap.

  • 27. HeIsSailing  |  February 5, 2008 at 4:05 am

    Michelle:
    “Comment 56 and 57, Simen and yours respectively, seem to be saying, Hitler was OK because it’s all based upon our own opinions. ( I said you agreed since you praised his analysis)”

    Simon gave a great analysis and food for thought. No, what Hitler did was not OK, nobody believes that. That is because the morality imposed on him was that developed by societal good. It does not take God to tell us Hitler was a monster. Humans are quite capable of that, thank you very much.

    Michelle:
    “Our society is based upon Lex Rex (the Law is King) that Law being the Judeo-Christian Law.”

    What does ‘Judeo-Christian Law’ mean? I keep hearing this term thrown about, but what does it mean? Really? We certainly don’t live under Biblical Law, or Judaic Law of the Torah – and you can be thankful of that. I don’t know what a Christian Law means – there is no such thing mentioned in the Bible.

  • 28. evanescent  |  February 5, 2008 at 5:03 am

    Many worthwhile comments to respond to, but I’m pushed for time, for let me address this for now:

    LeoPardus said:

    You’re entitled to your opinion. I thoroughly disagree with it. It’s nasty and bad-tempered and badly unbalanced. But I can live and let live. Just so long as you, or folks like you, don’t want to take your bad attitude and start trying to be anti-evangelists with it.

    “Live and let live?” – This is just a blatant acceptance of evil. Whilst theists have the right to believe whatever they want and do whatever they want as long as they don’t violate anyone else’s rights, we can and SHOULD expose immorality and evil when we see it.

    To say “oh as long as they don’t hurt anybody” might be a reason not to oppose religion politically, which is NOT what my article advocates. Nor am I calling for ban on religion or seeking to limit the activities of any religious person – except where they violate the law of course.

    What I am doing is exposing all monotheisms for the great evil they represent – if you call this having a bad attitude Leo, you need a serious reality check and I think your morality needs questioning. I am being perfectly civilised and rational, and merely exposing an inherent irrationality for what it is. In a contest between good and evil, there can be no “balanced opinion”!

    So please get your facts and argument straight – see the purpose and point of my article – it’s not a rant, it’s a moral condemnation, and one we should all have the ethical courage to make.

  • 29. Asymptosis  |  February 5, 2008 at 5:35 am

    Evanescent,

    “we can and SHOULD expose immorality and evil when we see it.”

    “Evil and immorality”? These are the kinds of words I might expect from certain fundamentalist Christians. If you are such an atheist, then pray tell, where do you get your ideas about evil and immorality? There is no atheist Bible that would recommend such concepts to the enlightened.

    “you need a serious reality check and I think your morality needs questioning. I am being perfectly civilised and rational”

    The first sentence fragment contradicts the second.

    “In a contest between good and evil, there can be no “balanced opinion”!”

    Quick, get out the Book of Shadows!

    “it’s a moral condemnation, and one we should all have the ethical courage to make.”

    How true. We should all have the ethical courage to make moral condemnations against militant extremism.

    Don’t you get it? Your bad attitude makes atheists look like assholes.

  • 30. madmonq  |  February 5, 2008 at 9:00 am

    Good post. Thanks.

  • 31. ED  |  February 5, 2008 at 10:18 am

    With respect to whether one should be or not be an atheist or anti-theist, depends, I believe, entirely on the theist. The argument from a theist point of view, is so fragmented and fractured that no theist can represent more than a small minority of all other theist. For example: If you are of the Islamic tradition, there are three major denominations that are, for the most part, incompatible with each other. How could either of these speak on behalf of any kind of majority. With respect to the Christian tradition, there are now over 33,000 denominations and fragmenting exponentially every year. Many of these Christian denominations hold views that are also incompatible, so even among christians there are many who view other christians as heretical or apostates. Reformation in a practical sense is virtually an impossibility.

    Another observation is the disparate levels of intelligence between those that hold deeply religious convictions and those that don’t. In Michael Shermers, ( I think) “Why Darwin Matters,” roughly 90% of Americans hold some religious belief, yet 93% of the National Academy of Scientist are, at the least agnostic or down right atheistic. There is a growing divergence of intelligence between theist and atheist. This may sound harsh, however theist have been making these comparision for years between the lower intelligences of pentecostals and the more educated “liberal” denominations.
    As long as theist do not impose their beliefs on me, or attempt to quell the advancement of science, or perhaps to put it a little more crudely, as long as they stay on the reservation with the others in their tribe we’ll be fine.

  • 32. Michelle  |  February 5, 2008 at 11:18 am

    Simen says: ( ;) do you get it? “Simon says” lol)

    So, basically, all “this is wrong” or “this is right” will ever be is someone’s opinion. This horrifies many people so much that they think there just MUST be a logical error in there. They think that by simply spelling out the implications, they will refute the proposition. Not so, because that’s a fallicious appeal to undesirable consequences. Yes, that means the opinion that the Holocaust is evil is a personal opinion. No, that does not mean it must automatically be wrong.

    Yet, you say:

    No, what Hitler did was not OK, nobody believes that. That is because the morality imposed on him was that developed by societal good. It does not take God to tell us Hitler was a monster. Humans are quite capable of that, thank you very much.

    I don’t see the consistency in the atheist’s viewpoint. If your personal opinion is that Hitler was wrong but another person believes Hitler was right, then how does anyone establish law? We should always be able to appeal to our opinions and be exonerated – leading to chaos.

    Why can’t I go murder my neighbor because his dog is too loud, or even murder the dog? If it were my personal opinion that there is nothing wrong, who are you to say I need to be punished? Societal norms? Under sharia law a man can kill a daughter or wife for ‘improprieties” they consider shameful, under your opinion, since their society says it’s OK, who are you to say otherwise?

    “It does not take God to tell us Hitler was a monster. Humans are quite capable of that, thank you very much.”

    So, because “survival of the fittest” took care of Hitler – the “fittest” decided he was a monster – “right” prevailed? There sure are millions of neo-nazis (humans) who do not believe this and are just biding their time for the best opportunity to fulfill their “opinions.”

    Who will be the “fittest” if sharia law takes over?

    “They think that by simply spelling out the implications, they will refute the proposition. Not so, because that’s a fallicious appeal to undesirable consequences. ”

    It is not a deceitful appeal, it is what we will possibly see in the not-to-distant future, if the new fascists become the “fittest”. So the “evolved” humans who survive and establish sharia law are OK, because it’s all just opinion anyway? I will be thankful not to be one of the fittest ;)

    From the christian perspective, the argument doesn’t hold. When I use the fluid term Judeo-Christian Law I mean the ethical standards the western world has appealed to for the establishment of our parliaments and constitutions. I recognize the fluidity of the term, and its limitations. I am considering the Law Jesus fulfilled.

    This is my limited understanding, which is why I appeal to Someone higher than myself. I don’t believe, given the chance, humans will evolve into a utopian existence. I will even go so far as to say, “Come, Lord Jesus, quickly come.”

    Again, agree to disagree?

  • 33. Michelle  |  February 5, 2008 at 11:23 am

    My comment was meant to be a response to He Is Sailing – just to clarify.

  • 34. ED  |  February 5, 2008 at 1:14 pm

    “From the christian perspective, the argument doesn’t hold. When I use the fluid term Judeo-Christian Law I mean the ethical standards the western world has appealed to for the establishment of our parliaments and constitutions.”
    Michelle

    Like the right that a man had for stoning a woman on her fathers doorstep because her husband suspected she was not a virgin on their wedding night? Or perhaps torturing someone because their neighbor had given up their name as being a heretic? Or burning people alive because for heresy or apostasy? Or because they are suspected of witchcraft? There are countless examples where the bible, yes the word of God was used to justify unimaginable evils against others. remember it was the bible that was used to justify slavery. Jesus did NOT condemn slavery. Paul’s only admonition was to not beat them where you put out an eye or knocked out their teeth. Is this the standard you are appealing to? The bible has not been used to with any exclusivity to establish our ethical standards. If anything, their are many examples where ethics advanced in spite of the bible. When it comes to holding up scripture as the ethical standard for humanity, a brief historical reconnaissance of the abuses of the christian church should be all it takes to suggest that it is not so.

  • 35. orDover  |  February 5, 2008 at 1:15 pm

    TheDeeZone,

    You wrote: I believe that salvation is Sola Fida or save by faith not works. Christians are called to be holy as God is holy. This does not mean that Christians are perfect. I do not have to nor am I capable of earning my salvation by my own merits I would fall short of God’s standards. The Bible is also clear that a product my faith will be the fruits of the Spirit: peace, love, joy, patience, etc. Further that faith without works is useless.

    I honestly don’t know if you didn’t read my comment or if you just are trying to misdirect it. I never once came anywhere close to talking about salvation through works! In fact, I said the exact opposite, that according to Christianity, one’s works are never enough (my wording above was that man is incapable of attaining righteousness on his own), and that is why one must accept Christ as their savior.

    By saying that you believe salvation can only be attain through faith in Christ, you are agreeing with evanescent’s original comment that you claimed you disagreed with. So which is it?

    Man is either able to keep god’s laws on his own (the law does not condemn him), or he is unable to and is only redeemed through faith (the law condemns him). I dare you to find me one theologian who claims that any man can obey god’s laws on his own. And just to clarify, you said that man is not condemned when he fails to obey god’s laws.

    Doesn’t god command us to believe in Christ? The commandments in the Old Testament were impossible to keep, but in the New Testament we have a new commandment, love Christ and believe in him. What happens if we do not keep this new commandment? Are we condemned?

    “Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.”
    John 3:18

    On a similar note, ThinkingApe posed a great question to you, and instead of answering directly you just let us know (once again) that you have a theology degree. Frankly, I’d be more impressed if someone told me they had a degree in Grimm’s Fairy Tales, but that is beside the point. When you do not directly address questions of that matter it looks as if you cannot defend your position. TA asked you how you can say that you “know” god exists when many other people with theology degrees would say that they do not, but that they have faith in his existence. I would love to hear a REAL response to this question, although I have a feeling it would be something along the lines of “the beauty of creation” or “I feel it in my heart,” which are both anecdotal and weak arguments.

  • 36. TheNorEaster  |  February 5, 2008 at 1:47 pm

    ED wrote: When it comes to holding up scripture as the ethical standard for humanity, a brief historical reconnaissance of the abuses of the christian church should be all it takes to suggest that it is not so.

    But that’s just it, ED. There is a huge difference between what Scripture says and what Christendom has done. And the same is true today. As a believer, I do not dismiss the failings of the church throughout history–nor in our present day. But oftentimes the history of the church, and even what I’ve seen said and done today, has obviously given me cause for great self-vigilance.

  • 37. Thinking Ape  |  February 5, 2008 at 2:17 pm

    Michelle and TDZ,
    IF the majority of what we call “Christian” in America is in fact an evolution of ancient gnosticism, what use would be contemporary theology or a “Masters degree in Theology?”

    Michelle,

    In modern times Jesus is considered a philosopher and He said we could “know” Him.

    Could you back this up? Jesus was called a “teacher” and a “rabbi” (and more explicitly a “little rabbi”) – he was never called or considered a philosopher. And of course his followers could “know” him, they could “know” his teachings and follow his version of the “kingdom of God.” This was quite different from “knowing” him in some sort of esoteric soul-saving sense.

    Christianity stood firm against gnosticism – the first epistle of St. John and the second epistle of St. Peter speak strongly against the gnostics of the day.

    The letters of St.John were explicitly written to challenge the gnostic community from which they had once been a part of – a community that had been strictly Johannine rather than Pauline and had developed a form of gnosticism based solely on John’s gospel.
    Likewise, Peter was challenging the sweeping movement of not only the gnostics but also the Paulines. Why did you not include James? Well, possibly because he didn’t care much for the Pauline’s either. How about Matthew or Mark? Where is the “logos” there? Where is the “knowing” me language? A vast majority of American Christians are using one part of one gospel and then moving to use another. At least the early gnostics stuck to one or two books and followed them thoroughly.

    he knowledge is not secret as the gnostics and kabbalists would suggest. He freely gives it to all who will receive Him – who desire to be in fellowship with Him.

    Early gnostics were elitist because of illiteracy. Gnostics were obsessed with the written word. Centrist Christians made repeated appeals to authority (just take a look at the church “fathers”). The Protestant Reformation simply allowed us to go back to the earliest Christian centuries all over again – but without any discussion of basic Christian tenets. The result: well, you know my opinion. Your view of gnosticism is obviously very narrow. Contemporary Gnosticism as been democratized and hence infused into evangelical theologies (especially Southern Baptist and Pentecostal) as well as the growing heretical-but-soon-to-be-mainstream Church of the Latter Day Saints.

    Reading the scripture, with the revelatory power of the Holy Spirit, diligent study bathed in prayer can bring us to the true knowledge Christ spoke about.

    As if that wasn’t esoteric.

    TDZ,

    The theology books in my house don’t get to dusty, in fact I have 3 sitting beside me know that I was using eariler.

    Snap. That was quite the rebuttal. Now, the childish way to answer a childish response would be to count my theology and religious studies text, but I won’t bother. Instead, how about I ask for some recommendations out of your extensive collection that can show how contemporary Christianity has not become gnostic and, more seriously in the eyes of a “orthodox Christian,” orphic?

    I have not be duped by any form of gnostism. Yes, I am well aware of gnotisicm.

    I’m glad you are “aware” of gnosticism – but I am supposing that your “awareness” is as limited as that as Michelle’s? What is “gnosticism” to you? Do you really think that those who are “aware” of “gnosticism” in today’s Christian world would admit to being “gnostic”? No, because all they really know of it is that it was a heresy, it was radically dualistic, it was held by people engaging in numerous sexual license, it had a perverted mythology, and there was some idea of “secret knowledge.” The fact is that all of these are ideas are either blatantly false or strongly misinterpreted or misunderstood.

    I have a Masters in Theology and many times edit comments I feel are too long or too preachy.

    Again, I am always amused at those who pull out their credentials as if they mean something (aka fallacy of appeal to authority). You could have easily said “I apologize, as sometimes I must edit my comments…” but instead you chose to insert the appeal to authority. I’m sorry but your Masters is not an automatic answer, it does not mean you are right about anything, and certainly does not impress me. I happen to know exactly what it takes to receive a Masters in Theology. This is not meant to disparage your degree, no matter what I think of the discipline of theology. If you had said “I have a Masters (or PhD) in psychology/religious studies/history/anthropology/etc.” I still would reject your entitlement because you refused to give an actual answer.

    As you can see, length is not an excuse. Giving “uh uh” elementary school answers is not an acceptable response.

  • 38. evanescent  |  February 5, 2008 at 2:18 pm

    Asymptosis said:

    “Evil and immorality”? These are the kinds of words I might expect from certain fundamentalist Christians. If you are such an atheist, then pray tell, where do you get your ideas about evil and immorality? There is no atheist Bible that would recommend such concepts to the enlightened.

    What absolute garbage!! Are you suggesting for a moment that there is no objective morality that we can form opinions and judgments from? Be careful: if you say “no” then you lose straight away, since the words “good” and “evil” are subjective to you and you can form NO judgment whatsoever. If you agree with me that there is an objective morality then we CAN most certainly make moral judgments.

    This kind of wishy-washy subjectivism is exactly the sort of thing atheists should avoid.

    “you need a serious reality check and I think your morality needs questioning. I am being perfectly civilised and rational”

    The first sentence fragment contradicts the second.

    No it doesn’t. Is this all you had to say? You’re wasting everyone’s time.

    Quick, get out the Book of Shadows!

    Wow – very clever (sarcasm). If you can’t understand the philosophical implications of my comments, that’s fine, but don’t pretend to ridicule them – it just makes you look silly.

    How true. We should all have the ethical courage to make moral condemnations against militant extremism.

    Don’t you get it? Your bad attitude makes atheists look like assholes.

    I have a bad attitude NOW because of your insufferable nonsense! What a waste of time your comment was. It contributed nothing and was meaningless.

    I you agree that we should have the courage to expose evil when we see it, then what are moaning about? You should be patting me on the back for the article. If you don’t believe in objectivity or have the guts to speak your mind that’s fine, but please don’t try to put down those of us who do. You don’t know what you’re talking about.

  • 39. evanescent  |  February 5, 2008 at 2:26 pm

    Michelle, regarding your comment – it was very well formulated and you raise some very excellent points.

    I agree with you that atheists needs to provide some objective foundation for law, morality, politics etc, otherwise their arguments descend into subjectivism, and ultimately, nihilism.

    I hope you stick around because I foresee a potentially enlightening discussion…

    Now, I do subscribe to a philosophy that accounts for knowledge, and morality, and law and politics etc. Not all atheists do which is why I draw a distinction between them and myself. I’m an atheist – but those atheists that tell you that morality is a result of evolution or some societal conditioning are WRONG – and you were right to expose this subjectivity!

    Morality is NOT social whim or evolutionary behaviour. Morality is a code that humans can DISCOVER – it a code of values that guides our actions, and it arises from what man (as the type of being he is) objectively needs to prosper and survive as a rational being. This allows us to draw correct and OBJECTIVE moral conclusions on ANY matter, and it is NOT based on god or religion etc. We don’t need religion or god for morality – but we do need REASON. Morality is a matter of egoism, not sacrifice.

  • 40. Jersey  |  February 5, 2008 at 2:33 pm

    Atheism just means the lack of belief in a god or gods; there is nothing more or less that it describes. Atheism has nothing to do with worldviews, mythologies, moralities, yada yada yada.

    Anti-theism is — regardless of what non-theism or non-religious philosophy they call themselves followers of — is the opposition of religion. This is where we find those who see religion as dangerous, dividing, foolish, etc.

    It’s on Wikipedia.

    Dawkins, Harrison — those guys are atheistic and anti-theistic. Me — I am an atheist, but am not anti-theistic. I don’t care what my friends and family believe in, as long as it isn’t proselytized down my throat.

  • 41. evanescent  |  February 5, 2008 at 2:42 pm

    Jersey, I half-agree with you. I am willing to let anyone in the world get on with whatever they want to do with their lives – they should be free to reap the rewards or consequences of any course of action. However, I draw the line at violating individual rights.

    However, that doesn’t mean I don’t CARE. My mum and sister are JWs and I’m not happy about it! If I could deconvert them through a process of reason I would, but I can’t, so I don’t bother – because I can’t live their lives for them.

    I MUST be an anti-theist because I think theism is evil. Unfortunately, (you might think), there is no nice way to say it. That doesn’t mean I’m going to persecute people, but it does mean I should say something about it if I choose too – and by talking on blogs and writing articles I am not ramming my opinion down anyone’s throat like some theists do. I think any self-respecting moral person SHOULD identify themselves as an anti-theist because it’s not something that should be tacitly accepted, just like slavery or rape can’t. If you see a wrong in the world you SHOULD say something!

    There is a difference between violating rights / trying to impose political force on someone, and honestly exposing an evil when you see it. I am doing the latter not the former, and that’s what Dawkins and Hitchens etc do – although I don’t agree with them on everything.

  • 42. Asymptosis  |  February 5, 2008 at 3:22 pm

    Evanescent,

    “What absolute garbage!! Are you suggesting for a moment that there is no objective morality that we can form opinions and judgments from?”

    There is no objective morality.

    “Be careful: if you say “no” then you lose straight away, since the words “good” and “evil” are subjective to you and you can form NO judgment whatsoever.”

    No, I don’t lose. I don’t lose the ability to make judgements just because I’m less stupid than the objective-morality crowd.

    “This kind of wishy-washy subjectivism is exactly the sort of thing atheists should avoid.”

    *yawn*

    “If you can’t understand the philosophical implications of my comments, that’s fine”

    I do understand them. They are very simple. Unfortunately for you, life is more complicated. This means that the simpler an argument, the greater the error in its ability to approximate reality.

    “I have a bad attitude NOW because of your insufferable nonsense!”

    I didn’t write a comment to your blog entry before you posted it. Therefore, your bad attitude predates my “insufferable nonsense.”

    “What a waste of time your comment was. It contributed nothing and was meaningless.”

    And you, sir, are a poopoo head.

    “I you agree that we should have the courage to expose evil when we see it, then what are moaning about?”

    I am moaning to expose your evil.

    “If you don’t believe in objectivity or have the guts to speak your mind that’s fine, but please don’t try to put down those of us who do.”

    Since I’m “speaking my mind” already, I guess I do have the guts to do that. And since I don’t believe in your objectivist morality, I will put down whoever I feel like. There will be no punishment; at the very worst my comments will be deleted from the blog. But unless I’m mistaken, that won’t happen while I’m still acting reasonably.

    “You don’t know what you’re talking about.”

    Oh, my wounded feelings. (And that makes two of us.)

  • 43. LeoPardus  |  February 5, 2008 at 3:25 pm

    evanescent:

    Since you responded so well to my disagreeing with you, and seemed to imply that I misunderstood your article, I went back and read through the whole post again, less hastily this time.

    Poorly written and thought out. Poorly constructed. Poor logic. Bad grammar. Sweeping generalizations and use of universals. That was just a partial list as I worked through it.

    Examples:

    Switching between ‘religion’ and ‘monotheism’. Not just sloppy, it makes it impossible to figure out what you’re really talking about. Do you even know? (After finishing the reading, I realized that you don’t.)

    First, I’d like to point out that there doesn’t seem to be one theist who doesn’t dislike the idea of what they believe in.

    A sentence containing a triple negative??? No wonder a few posts tried to figure this sentence out. FTR, the proper meaning of the sentence, according to it construction is, “Apparently all theists dislike the idea of what they believe in.” Even broken down carefully, it’s poor since “the idea of what they believe in” is between ambiguous and meaningless.

    You have five paragraphs describing the horrors of religion (or is it meant to me monotheism?). Yet it would be easy to show numerous exceptions to each case, and to show that some of what you decry is practiced by people without regard to religion. Of course since you state it all as universals, you pretty well shoot yourself down from the get go.

    You follow the five paragraphs with yet another universal, “One or all of the above are symptomatic of all religions.” So if we trot out a religion that doesn’t fit your outlined condemnations, you’re wrong yet again. And what happens to your diatribe when we point out how non-religions, or non-religious people can fall under the same condemnations?

    To close this line out you state that religions are, “the antithesis of the most noble and enlightened concepts that humanity has to offer: tolerance of humans, freedom for humans, respect for humans.” So again with the great universals and generalizations. Who said those are the “most noble and enlightened concepts that humanity has to offer”? You? Well we must submit to that awesome, authoritative opinion. Heck, I don’t even need to go to conservative, Republican, Christians to get you an argument on that list. I can go to liberal, Democrat(?) PETA members.

    Let’s look at some more:
    Religion lies to people about how the world really is. Where it doesn’t lie, it actively makes claims that it cannot possibly know, which is as much the same thing.
    AND
    Imagine living in a world where the god of religion existed. It would be like living in a theocratic police state, where you can be convicted for the crime of thought; virtually the very definition of totalitarian.

    Again with a sweeping universal – “the god of religion” – that creates yet another meaningless passage. Who is that? What religion?

    And WHO did you say makes claims they can’t possibly know? How would you know what the world would be like if there was a god?

    And, as if it wasn’t puerile enough already, you go on quite a bit from there about what it would be like.

    It seems that by this point in your rant, you forgot utterly that you had tried to talk about the more general terms ‘religion’ or ‘monotheism’ (no one is quite sure which). By this point you’re exclusively focusing on a single subset of a subset of one religion. You’re not even talking about all of the Christian views. You’re just spewing about the particular view you got in the particular segment of fundamentalist Christianity that you were exposed to.

    And now your coup de grâce: This is why I positively reject religion and theism.

    You reject it all, hate it all, condemn it all, not apparently knowing how to distinguish the varying parts of it.

    Criminy. There’s hardly a paragraph in the whole mess that isn’t condemnable as poor writing, or lousy, incomplete, imprecise thinking, or bad to non-existent logic. Bad structure, bad grammar, bad logic, bad information, sweeping generalizations, hyperboles, universals; and all heavily spiced with anger, hatred, vitriol, and bigotry. Lawd’a’mighty lad, that’s a most impressive intellectual tour de force.

  • 44. Justin  |  February 5, 2008 at 3:55 pm

    yikes,
    be extremely careful about making broad strokes in regards to religion! It can easily be misguiding to the untrained individual:

    First, I’d like to point out that there doesn’t seem to be one theist who doesn’t dislike the idea of what they believe in.

    You say this point is “powerful”, but it boarders more on “trivial” from my end. People may dislike facts before faith and hope. I can see why some people struggle with evolution (wishing it wasn’t true because it goes against their fundamentalist version of Christianity). Of course, this is Your reason, so it makes sense that it doesn’t seem very credible to others.

    Religion offers what it has no right to offer: forgiveness of and for another person. It offers the ultimate reward that it has no possible way to know of.

    No possible way to know of because of…science? You can see why many would see this as quite a poor argument. For example, a spiritually inclined individual would be likely to say that using a tool used to described the natural on “supernatural” isn’t very useful. It’s like pushing a square block through a circle cut-out.

    Restrictions on not only who you can have sex with but also in what sexual positions you may copulate.

    Not entirely true, for example, Leviticus 18:22 speaks only of a class of sexual positions defined in antiquity as involving “penetration.” I would suggest reading the song of Solomon, which is almost entirely about sex (including oral)…a shock to many.

    There are ridiculous restrictions on diet, entertainment, language, and association.

    You are right in assessing these restrictions, which definately exist from a fundamentalist perspective (the one of which you are attacking…which, by the way, leaves out a whole slew of perspectives…again, beware of generalizations ;) ) But these restrictions aren’t always bad. It is often a way for people to relate to their heritage or roots…their tradition. If it brings joy and happiness to these people (a sense of connection to their past), how dare you say it is inherently bad! Shame on you.

    I think I have to agree with my atheist friends (ie.e CarriedTheCross) that you should consider addressing the severity of your disgust for religion (and, through natural connection, theists).

    I have often heard Atheists say they become more open minded since leaving religion. This post is quite contradictory to that claim.

    God Bless,

    Justin

  • 45. evanescent  |  February 5, 2008 at 3:58 pm

    Asymptosis said:

    There is no objective morality.

    Really? Then when you said:

    I am moaning to expose your evil.

    You were talking absolute nonsense… since you have no standard by which to judge, you cannot call anything good or evil.

    Since you contradict yourself on so basic a philosophical premise as this, I can safely ignore the rest of your comment.

    LeoPardus, you’re full of rubbish. I personally don’t care that you didn’t like the article, or your supposed criticism. If I was going to be a little man like yourself, I could point out:

    “(or is it meant to me monotheism?)” should say “to BE” monotheism – but it’s a typo, it’s ok I can forgive it. It would be very pathetic of me to attack someone’s post on a typo or supposed bad grammer instead of the real content – wouldn’t it??

    Now, to address the only valid point you make, I DO use “monotheism” interchangeably with “religion” – I think that much is easy to figure out. This can be seen from my use of the term “theist” – which obviously implies monotheism. I’m sorry you didn’t grasp that. As for my statement of “religion has nothing worthwhile to say on anything” I stand by it – there is nothing true or meaningful that religion has to say that cannot be discovered without it. Also, the fact that my article was called “or ANTI-THEIST” kind of strongly suggests I am talking about THEISM.

    If you’d demonstrated an inkling of rational thought or philosophical sense I might be hurt by your criticisms, but since your opinion is meaningless to me, I can safely dismiss it without needing to rebut your tripe.

    And WHO did you say makes claims they can’t possibly know? How would you know what the world would be like if there was a god?

    Are you for real? Let’s look at the god of the bible, or Koran. Let’s see what rules are imposed on their subjects – one doesn’t need omniscience to see this, one just needs a brain.

    To close this line out you state that religions are, “the antithesis of the most noble and enlightened concepts that humanity has to offer: tolerance of humans, freedom for humans, respect for humans.” So again with the great universals and generalizations. Who said those are the “most noble and enlightened concepts that humanity has to offer”?

    Again, do even listen to yourself when you talk? Are you trying to suggest that respect for freedom and individual rights are NOT the most noblest acts??

    What exactly would YOU suggest is more noble? Go on. I expect some objectivity here otherwise it will just be YOUR small opinion. What I said wasn’t based on my opinion, it was based on objective morality. So go on…tell me what you’d call moral and then explain to me why religion (monotheism) DOESN’T violate it…

    You see, it seems to me that in your hurry to defend yourself and cover the fact that you clearly don’t know what you’re talking about, you decided to attack me personally. Here I have clearly proved my points and dismissed yours. Let’s see if you can form a cogent reply and address my questions without any sniping, and show that you do really know what you’re talking about…

  • 46. evanescent  |  February 5, 2008 at 4:06 pm

    Justin said:

    No possible way to know of because of…science?

    No. No possible way of knowing it, because not only is it impossible in theory, it’s impossible in practice. “Life after death” is quite simply a contradiction in terms – it is a rejection of logic and identity. A claim that is beyond the confines of knowledge is meaningless. That it cannot be disproved is irrelevant, because it is arbitrary, since it cannot be proved either. By definition, it is forever outside the bounds of knowledge. It’s like me claiming that there is an invisible purple monster on your shoulder. Would you worry? Would you bother trying to prove or disprove me? No, you’d just disregard the claim as irrelevant – just like the afterlife.

    Not entirely true, for example, Leviticus 18:22 speaks only of a class of sexual positions defined in antiquity as involving “penetration.” I would suggest reading the song of Solomon, which is almost entirely about sex (including oral)…a shock to many.

    Yes I’ve read it. I suggest you read the entire Mosaic Law, and tell me what the punishment for sex outside marriage, homosexuality, bestiality, incest etc is? You’ll find it’s DEATH in every case. Having said that, a man who picked up sticks on the sabbath was stoned to death, so it’s hardly a surprise.

    But these restrictions aren’t always bad. It is often a way for people to relate to their heritage or roots…their tradition. If it brings joy and happiness to these people (a sense of connection to their past), how dare you say it is inherently bad! Shame on you.

    I keep seeing this moral subjectivism and it’s very depressing – shouldn’t you people know better? Don’t you realise that this subjective tolerance means that you have NO foundation for making ANY moral judgment?? By what criteria do you accept SOME actions as good and some as evil??

    Now, if people choose certain customs and traditions – fine. Notice I referred to commandments – orders NOT to eat certain things on the penalty (usually) of death. This is a complete violation of human freedom. Forcing people’s diet on them is definitely IMMORAL!, and we can and should say so. Are you the sort of person that would accept a police state or martial law? No? So why turn a blind eye to the dogmatic rules of the bible? Shame on you. ;)

  • 47. Asymptosis  |  February 5, 2008 at 4:08 pm

    “You were talking absolute nonsense… since you have no standard by which to judge, you cannot call anything good or evil.

    I guess you’ve never heard of having one’s tongue in one’s cheek.

    In any case, subjective morality does not stop me from using the word evil if I see fit.

    “Since you contradict yourself on so basic a philosophical premise as this, I can safely ignore the rest of your comment.”

    ROTFLMAO!

    Well, if you want to be lazy and miss out on the chance to show everyone how all my other points were so bad as well, by all means let my comments stand.

  • 48. Michelle  |  February 5, 2008 at 4:11 pm

    ED:

    From the christian perspective, the argument doesn’t hold. When I use the fluid term Judeo-Christian Law I mean the ethical standards the western world has appealed to for the establishment of our parliaments and constitutions. I recognize the fluidity of the term, and its limitations. I am considering the Law Jesus fulfilled.

    He has fulfilled the Law and now we have the principles He spoke about, “Love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, soul, mind,and strength and love your neighbor as you love yourself.” This does sum it up.

    Thinking Ape:

    In modern times Jesus is considered a philosopher and He said we could “know” Him.

    Could you back this up? Jesus was called a “teacher” and a “rabbi” (and more explicitly a “little rabbi”) – he was never called or considered a philosopher.

    In modern times – A simple guide to philosophy, used at the high school AP level, Sophie’s World, gives the modern philosophical view of Jesus’ teaching.

    “Your view of gnosticism is obviously very narrow.”

    I didn’t lay out my view of gnosticism, it would take much more room than this format allows. But I could easily say your view is too broad. I dare say, if anyone used the term “know” you would yell, “gnostic!”

    Contemporary Gnosticism as been democratized and hence infused into evangelical theologies (especially Southern Baptist and Pentecostal) as well as the growing heretical-but-soon-to-be-mainstream Church of the Latter Day Saints.

    Amen! ;)

    Reading the scripture, with the revelatory power of the Holy Spirit, diligent study bathed in prayer can bring us to the true knowledge Christ spoke about.

    As if that wasn’t esoteric.

    esoteric – intended for or understood by only a small group.
    He did say the way is narrow, but also “come unto Me
    all you who are weary and heavy laden…” That would be me.

    HIS: I think I started with not wanting to get into this debate. How is one able to politely decline? ;)

    Thanks, evanescent! I have a tender ego and was in need of some validation. ;)

    I’m still not sure how man discovers morality. . . wouldn’t this be more like the accepted customs and usages of a particular social group that come to be formalized legal code – the definition of mores vs. morals which is concerned with judgment of the goodness or badness of human action/character, to discern good and evil? . . . Oops! Sounds like we’re back to the need for a Holy Judge, One Who is omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent. ;)

    You know, all, we will not come to an agreement. All I can do is try to explain the Christian perspective when the opportunity presents itself. Thanks for allowing me to chime in from time to time. Blessings ~Michelle ;)

  • 49. evanescent  |  February 5, 2008 at 4:11 pm

    This applies to LeoPardus and Justin: I realise the tone of my comments doesn’t always come across as endearing: this is probably just my style of writing – I don’t intend to come across as aggressive, so please forgive me.

    I extend this olive branch: if you’d like to continue this discussion let’s start a clean slate and try and be more civilised to each other?

    Thanks.

  • 50. Michelle  |  February 5, 2008 at 4:12 pm

    I did not intend to bold the whole thing – sorry! ;)

    Just “In modern times” -my bad.

  • 51. Asymptosis  |  February 5, 2008 at 4:13 pm

    “I keep seeing this moral subjectivism and it’s very depressing – shouldn’t you people know better?”

    Shouldn’t a contributor to a quality blog like DeConversion know better than to propose objective morality and stand by its arbitrary black-and-white principles?

    “Don’t you realise that this subjective tolerance means that you have NO foundation for making ANY moral judgment??”

    As I already stated, one doesn’t lose the ability to make moral judgements just because one is intelligent enough to avoid claims about objective morality.

    “By what criteria do you accept SOME actions as good and some as evil??”

    I make it up as I go along.

  • 52. evanescent  |  February 5, 2008 at 4:15 pm

    Hi Asymptosis, hope you’re well. I couldn’t tell from your last comment, but if you do subscribe to moral subjectivism, then I am more than happy to let your comments stand unanswered! Since you have no standard to draw any definite conclusions from, your own subjectivity destroys your arguments better than anything I could say.

  • 53. evanescent  |  February 5, 2008 at 4:16 pm

    I make it up as I go along.

    Then what is good for you today might be good tomorrow, and vice-versa, so I should just ignore anything you say as you’ll probably end up changing your mind anyway, since you have no objective foundation? Cool, just checking.

  • 54. Asymptosis  |  February 5, 2008 at 4:17 pm

    Hi Evanescent,

    You keep making straw-man arguments. I didn’t say I have no standards. I only prefer not to confuse my personal, subjective standards with external, objective reality.

    You are being very lazy.

  • 55. Michelle  |  February 5, 2008 at 4:20 pm

    Jersey: Great points – now I better understand the difference. Thanks! :)

  • 56. evanescent  |  February 5, 2008 at 4:23 pm

    Michelle said:

    I’m still not sure how man discovers morality. . . wouldn’t this be more like the accepted customs and usages of a particular social group that come to be formalized legal code – the definition of mores vs. morals which is concerned with judgment of the goodness or badness of human action/character, to discern good and evil? . . . Oops! Sounds like we’re back to the need for a Holy Judge, One Who is omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent.

    Michelle, one needs to understand the nature of existence. Existence exists, which means it also doesn’t NOT exist, ok? From this very fact arises IDENTITY – that somethings exist and that they are THAT THING, and only THAT thing, and not something ELSE. Therefore, A is A. Existence is identity. This is the basis for all knowledge and logic and reason etc.

    Now, what is man? Man is metaphysically a rational being. As a being capable to living or dying, i.e.: a lifeform, man has values, just like all lifeforms do. Man is unique in that he can identify and CHOOSE his values – he can discover what is of benefit to him and what is not. In fact, because man is a rational volition being, he NEEDS a code of values to guide his actions. This is morality. Morality is a code accepted by choice, based on man’s values – which are objective. They are OBJECTIVE, because they arise not by invention, or command, or bible, or authority – they arise because of the type of being man is. They are things that are OBJECTIVELY necessary for the life of man as a man – such as reason, self-esteem, purpose. Morality guides man how he should live his life, and what he should avoid, based on rational principles. In other words, principles that are true because of man and his relationship to reality – there is no contradicting reality except at your own expense. Therefore, the irrational man, the man who defies reality, will suffer. The rational is therefore the moral. Whatever sustains and benefits the life of a rational being is the moral, whatever does the opposite is the evil.

    That is a very very quick overview – if you want to learn more in detail, see my article here: http://ellis14.wordpress.com/2007/12/08/what-is-morality-and-what-are-%e2%80%98rights%e2%80%99/

  • 57. evanescent  |  February 5, 2008 at 4:24 pm

    You keep making straw-man arguments. I didn’t say I have no standards. I only prefer not to confuse my personal, subjective standards with external, objective reality.

    You are being very lazy.

    I’m not being lazy – I am trying to force you to concede that you DO actually have an objective morality, you just don’t realise it.

    Will you forgive my sarcasm thus far and engage in a proper debate with me?

    Now, do you believe there is an objective reality? Do you believe that there are things that are necessarily good or bad for human beings?

  • 58. Asymptosis  |  February 5, 2008 at 4:30 pm

    Hi Evanescent,

    “Morality is a code accepted by choice, based on man’s values – which are objective. They are OBJECTIVE, because they arise not by invention, or command, or bible, or authority – they arise because of the type of being man is. They are things that are OBJECTIVELY necessary for the life of man as a man – such as reason, self-esteem, purpose. Morality guides man how he should live his life, and what he should avoid, based on rational principles. In other words, principles that are true because of man and his relationship to reality – there is no contradicting reality except at your own expense. Therefore, the irrational man, the man who defies reality, will suffer. The rational is therefore the moral. Whatever sustains and benefits the life of a rational being is the moral, whatever does the opposite is the evil.”

    Contradictions and baseless assertions. Your incoherent ramblings are becoming even more incoherent and rambly.

  • 59. evanescent  |  February 5, 2008 at 4:34 pm

    I see you didn’t want to take my up on my offer of a clean state then, Asymptosis?

    Shame.

    You really do sound like a total novice in this field. Here I am presenting a rational basis for morality (not for you I might add), and you come back with a senseless insult? I don’t get it. How on earth is one supposed to have a serious discussion.

    I could ask you, how do YOU define morality? Where does YOUR morality come from? But we both know you wouldn’t be able to answer.

  • 60. Asymptosis  |  February 5, 2008 at 4:37 pm

    “I’m not being lazy”

    Yes, you are.

    “I am trying to force you to concede that you DO actually have an objective morality, you just don’t realise it.”

    Good luck with that.

    Is forcing people to do things part of your objective moral code?

    “Will you forgive my sarcasm thus far and engage in a proper debate with me?”

    Well, I kind of tried doing that already. If you are serious, you will go back and address all the points that you dismissed out of hand.

    “Now, do you believe there is an objective reality?”

    I’m not sure. My wording was poor. Define objective and define reality.

    “Do you believe that there are things that are necessarily good or bad for human beings?”

    Things? Like food and water and shelter and community? Please be precise.

    I do have a vision of what I would like the future to be like. Behaviours that bring that vision closer to reality, I call “good.” Behaviours that would block that vision, I call “evil.” I don’t kid myself that anyone else would necessarily agree, i.e., they are subjective values.

  • 61. evanescent  |  February 5, 2008 at 4:43 pm

    Asymptosis said:

    Is forcing people to do things part of your objective moral code?

    It’s an expression, kido.

    Define objective and define reality.

    Objective reality is existence itself – that which exists independently of human consciousness, but which can be perceived by human consciousness.

    Things? Like food and water and shelter and community? Please be precise.

    ANYTHING that sustains and benefits the life of a rational being. Not just these things, which are of important value to a human being of course, but also reason, purpose, self-esteem like I mentioned above.

    Behaviours that would block that vision, I call “evil.” I don’t kid myself that anyone else would necessarily agree, i.e., they are subjective values.

    Ah, but are they? Getting someone to agree doesn’t make it subjective. For example, the moon orbits the earth. That’s a fact – whether anyone agrees with you or not, yes?

    If you admit that you have no justification for your opinion of “good” or “evil” – why use those terms? Aren’t they just a matter of your internal emotion? Do you admit therefore that you cannot be sure you’re right and everyone else might be right instead of you? Do you think there is a way to decide between ANY competing moral position?

  • 62. Asymptosis  |  February 5, 2008 at 5:01 pm

    “I see you didn’t want to take my up on my offer of a clean state then, Asymptosis?”

    You didn’t offer me a clean slate. Only LeoPardus and Justin.

    “I could ask you, how do YOU define morality? Where does YOUR morality come from? But we both know you wouldn’t be able to answer.”

    I’ve already told you. I make it up as I go along, based on my experiences in the past and my vision for the future.

    “If you admit that you have no justification for your opinion of “good” or “evil” – why use those terms?”

    It serves my purpose to do so. They are emotionally-loaded words, and therefore powerful tools.

    “Aren’t they just a matter of your internal emotion?”

    And also the emotions I wish to stimulate in others.

    “Do you admit therefore that you cannot be sure you’re right and everyone else might be right instead of you?”

    I think everyone is wrong, including me.

    “Do you think there is a way to decide between ANY competing moral position?”

    I take it on a case-by-case basis. There is no objective way to decide between competing moral positions. But if, from my subjective point of view, one moral position seems better, I will select it.

    “Now, do you believe there is an objective reality?… Objective reality is existence itself – that which exists independently of human consciousness, but which can be perceived by human consciousness.”

    Okay, I guess I will agree that there is an objective reality – with the caveat that we can never know it, because we can only experience reality subjectively.

    “Do you believe that there are things that are necessarily good or bad for human beings? ANYTHING that sustains and benefits the life of a rational being. Not just these things, which are of important value to a human being of course, but also reason, purpose, self-esteem like I mentioned above.”

    No, I do not believe that there are things that are necessarily good or bad for human beings. Too much food or water will make you just as dead as too little. Shelter is good, but so is the great outdoors. Community can support and nurture, but it can also stifle and bully those who seek change. Reason promotes qualities that I would consider good, but it is not necessary for survival. Ditto for purpose. Self-esteem is a virtue I like, but again, I don’t mistake it for something “objectively” good.

  • 63. Asymptosis  |  February 5, 2008 at 5:03 pm

    BTW, please excuse me if I don’t make any more responses for a while. I need to go to work. I’ll try to come back later in the day. (It is 8am here in Melbourne, Australia.)

  • 64. Michelle  |  February 5, 2008 at 5:21 pm

    Evanescent:

    I’m not sure I’m following – but I will check out your post. Thanks!

    I don’t see how it is possible to come to any agreement since the premise of existence, we do not agree upon. I believe existence is all wrapped up in God – YHWH – I AM THAT I AM. I believe He is the Self-existent One who determines all things and at any point in time can decide to “call it quits” and we will be gone. But by His grace and mercy, by the whole of His character, He will allow His plan to come to completeness.

    Now, see what a crazy nut-job you’re dealing with? ;)

    Thanks, all, for the stimulation . . .

  • 65. evanescent  |  February 5, 2008 at 5:23 pm

    You didn’t offer me a clean slate. Only LeoPardus and Justin.

    Yes I know, but I did offer to apologise and start again. I didn’t offer the clean slate to you originally because your initial comment was so unkind.

    I’ve already told you. I make it up as I go along, based on my experiences in the past and my vision for the future.

    But on what basis do you decide that a particular action in the past was the “right” one, and what is your guide for the “right” action in the future? Even if you “make it up”, unless you’re on drugs you do not just choose your actions by rolling a die – so how do you decide what is “successful” or not?

    It serves my purpose to do so. They are emotionally-loaded words, and therefore powerful tools.

    Well yes, but they are useless to you in real life. For example, if someone tries to rape somebody you love, you can tell him that you think he’s wrong, but then he will reply that he thinks he’s right. Where do you go from there?

    And also the emotions I wish to stimulate in others.

    So, your actions are guided by what affect they might have on you ultimately? Ok – I can agree with this. So, what actions do you prefer to have meted on you? Do you prefer a certain type of action as oppose to another type of action, and is this always the case? For example, do you prefer to be treated kindly, with respect, dignity, and freedom? And do you prefer to avoid pain and suffering and torment? If so, then you have identified OBJECTIVE standards which guide your actions!

    I think everyone is wrong, including me.

    This is a contradiction. If you are wrong, then you are wrong about being wrong, therefore you are right. This statement cannot mean anything.

    Since we both agree there is an objective reality, we can agree that there are objective truths – therefore some people WILL be wrong and some people WILL be right, assuming they use reality as their guide.

    I take it on a case-by-case basis. There is no objective way to decide between competing moral positions. But if, from my subjective point of view, one moral position seems better, I will select it.

    Ok, so one day someone tries to rape a loved one. The next day someone else does. The next day someone else does. Do you evaluate each on a case by case basis? And assuming you do, what is your criteria for agreeing to or stopping the rape? It is based on your mood at the time? It is based on your feelings for the victim? But this PRESUPPOSES that you wouldn’t want something “bad” to happen – which PRESUPPOSES a standard for “good” or “bad”, which means: an objective standard!

    Okay, I guess I will agree that there is an objective reality – with the caveat that we can never know it, because we can only experience reality subjectively.

    What makes you think so? If there is an objective reality, and we have sense organs that can perceive it, why deny the self-evident?

    Did you realise that any attempt to deny the validity of sense experience involves a contradiction??

    Our perceptions of reality are experienced “as is” – humans acquire knowledge by integrating their sensations and perceptions by reference to reality using LOGIC as our tool. Assuming we perform this process rationally and non-contradictorily we can reach objective knowledge of reality.

    The denial of the objective is a hallmark of Kantian philosophy, and a cause of many philosophical and social problems today – but fortunately, we don’t have to pay attention to it!

    No, I do not believe that there are things that are necessarily good or bad for human beings.

    Drink a bottle of poison and then tell me what you think.

    Go a week without drinking and tell me what you think.

    Go your life without friends or love, or without the ability to use your mind and tell me what you think.

    Too much food or water will make you just as dead as too little

    Which means that there is a level that IS necessarily good.

    Shelter is good, but so is the great outdoors.

    But man NEEDS both in his rational life. He needs shelter to survive, and the outdoors to travel and fill his life with meaning.

    Community can support and nurture, but it can also stifle and bully those who seek change.

    Ah, but this PRESUPPOSES that stifling and bullying is wrong! I agree with you – but then you agree with me that there are some objective moral truths.

    You see (and I’m not being smug here), any attempt to deny objectivity forces you to utilise it; you smuggle it into the conversation without realising it. No offence of course – I’m just pointing it out. This is the fallacy of “stealing the concept”.

    Reason promotes qualities that I would consider good, but it is not necessary for survival.

    Ah – you are very wrong here. Reason is actually man’s ONLY means of survival. Unlike an animal which lives on instinct and acquired behaviour, humans think through a course of action and live longterm – to live like a human is to live like a rational being. The man who rejects reason only survives on blind luck, living like an animal, or worse.

    To live like a man, is not just to survive, it means to live LIKE A MAN, like a rational being, not like an animal.

    I hope that clears a lot of things up. By all means reply when you can, but have a good think about what we’ve talked about here, and notice how important the concept of objectivity is – it’s impossible to form any cogent statement without it.

  • 66. Justin  |  February 5, 2008 at 5:47 pm

    Hello again Asym,

    Yes I’ve read it. I suggest you read the entire Mosaic Law, and tell me what the punishment for sex outside marriage, homosexuality, bestiality, incest etc is?

    haha, this made me laugh a bit. I recall your post mentioning something about how it is cruel for religion to suppress “natural” urges. I sure hope no one has an urge for bestiality and incest!!!

    Nonetheless, you seem to be a bit caught up on the black and white interpretations. Let’s talk a bit about what it is I believe you have the hardest problem with: the “restrictions” of religion. I will of course argue from a Christian perspective because that is what I know best, using your homosexuality reference (penelty: death) as an example.

    Several other texts are ambiguous. It is not clear whether 1 Cor. 6:9 and 1 Tim. 1:10 refer to the “passive” and “active” partners in homosexual relationships, or to homosexual and heterosexual male prostitutes. In short, it is unclear whether the issue is homosexuality alone, or promiscuity and “sex-for-hire.”

    but how about what you were referring to…the DEATH for homosexuality.

    Lev. 18:22 states the principle: “You [masculine] shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination” (NRSV). The second (Lev. 20:13) adds the penalty: “If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall be put to death; their blood is upon them.”

    Such an act was regarded as an “abomination” for several reasons. The Hebrew prescientific understanding was that male semen contained the whole of nascent life. With no knowledge of eggs and ovulation, it was assumed that the woman provided only the incubating space. Hence the spilling of semen for any nonprocreative purpose–in coitus interruptus (Gen. 38:1-11), male homosexual acts, or male masturbation–was considered tantamount to abortion or murder. (Female homosexual acts were consequently not so seriously regarded, and are not mentioned at all in the Old Testament (but see Rom. 1:26).

    You can see how a tribe struggling to populate a country in which its people were outnumbered would value procreation highly, but such values are rendered questionable in a world facing uncontrolled overpopulation.

    In addition, when a man acted like a woman sexually, male dignity was compromised. It was a degradation, not only in regard to himself, but for every other male. The patriarchalism of Hebrew culture shows its hand in the very formulation of the commandment, since no similar stricture was formulated to forbid homosexual acts between females. And the repugnance felt toward homosexuality was not just that it was deemed unnatural but also that it was considered unJewish, representing yet one more incursion of pagan civilization into Jewish life.

    On top of that is the more universal repugnance heterosexuals tend to feel for acts and orientations foreign to them. (Left-handedness has evoked something of the same response in many cultures.)

    I wanted to share some introspect on this issue to demonstrate the danger of making broad claims on assumptions. To imply the Bible (or any religious text) was not influenced by their time and place would be irresponsible and ignorant. Nonetheless, the universal truths are what transcend time.

    I hope I at least shed some light on the perceived restrictive/oppressing passages in religion (Christianity in my case). I hope you can appreciate the breadth and depth of the issues you glaze over in some of your generalizations.

    God Bless,

    Justin

  • 67. evanescent  |  February 5, 2008 at 5:57 pm

    Justin, thank you for taking the time to explain all that, but I was really aware of it, and it doesn’t refute the point I was making: people should be free to choose their own actions and reap the benefits or consequences of them. As long as they don’t violate the rights of other people, people must be free. Morality cannot be enforced. Of course I don’t think bestiality or incest are moral. But I don’t think homosexuality is immoral – but the point is that it’s an individual choice and cannot be forced or or off someone.

    To imply the Bible (or any religious text) was not influenced by their time and place would be irresponsible and ignorant. Nonetheless, the universal truths are what transcend time.

    Ok, well which parts are just an expression of the culture of the time, and which parts are the “universal truths”? How do you tell them apart? What is your criteria for picking and choosing? Which parts of the bible do we take seriously and which parts do we laugh at, and why? Is the bible the word of god, or not?

    Sounds like cherry-picking theology to me.

  • 68. Justin  |  February 5, 2008 at 6:07 pm

    oops, that post was meant for evanescent, sorry asym :)

  • 69. Jersey  |  February 5, 2008 at 6:16 pm

    Looks like we need to figure out that when we talk about religion, do you think we should narrow it down to religion as a whole — but then again, you have cases like Buddhism, Jainism, and certain new age ideals that are more philosophical/pragmatic rather than dogmatic. What about narrowing it to the Ibrahimic (Abrahimic) religions, as this is what this blog on de-conversion is mostly focused on? (I say this because there are worlds of difference between the Dharmic-based and Ibrahimic-based theologies.) Or should, when we talk about religion, state which one in specific we mean?

    Why all religions try to answer certain points regardless — what morality is, dietary laws, worldviews, origins, what man’s part is in the universe — all religions also contain elements that others may not address, or contain ideas others may not have. Some religions are monotheistic, others polytheistic, and then there is monism, henotheism, and many other types of theism/religion/whatever you want to call dogmatic spiritual beliefs that few people even know about outside of religion studies.

  • 70. Justin  |  February 5, 2008 at 6:28 pm

    people should be free to choose their own actions and reap the benefits or consequences of them. As long as they don’t violate the rights of other people, people must be free.

    couldn’t agree more! I knew we’d find something Evanescent :) ! I would contend that most of us are (i’m reaping the consequence of staying online when i should be getting to my operations management reading). Crazy thing is, I’m a theist and I’m making this decision! haha :)

    Ok, well which parts are just an expression of the culture of the time, and which parts are the “universal truths”? How do you tell them apart? What is your criteria for picking and choosing? Which parts of the bible do we take seriously and which parts do we laugh at, and why?

    very valid concern. Luckily (based on your previous reply) you are familiar with these types of situations within the Bible. The problem comes when context is ignored and scripture is applied to very micro-specific situations today.

    is the bible the word of god, or not

    You seem to be religiously educated, so you know the degrees to which people attribute “word of God” (i.e. every word…inspired individuals….visions and interpretations of them…etc.)

    Sounds like cherry-picking theology to me.

    well, to clarify, theology itself is defined as:

    1. the field of study and analysis that treats of God and of God’s attributes and relations to the universe; study of divine things or religious truth; divinity.
    2. a particular form, system, branch, or course of this study.

    so my analysis is definately theology, you can put any adjective you’d like before it. If you are angry that I am not a fundamentalist (a relatively easy position to attack), then I apologize.

    God Bless,

    Justin

  • 71. locomotivebreath1901  |  February 5, 2008 at 7:39 pm

    I make a distinction between atheists and anti-theists. An atheist can be an anti-theist, but an anti-theist does not necessarily have to be an atheist. One can be opposed to God and still believe in Him.

    I am convinced that it takes a lot of faith to be an atheist, though. To state there is ‘no god’ is an absolute negative, and that is something that cannot be proven – philosophically or scientifically. The atheist can think there is no god, or believe there is no god, but, either way, their subjective conclusion is based upon the faith that they are correct.

    I also believe that legitimate science & method are not at odds with Christianity, but the philosophy of science & Christianity oft times do butt heads. I have read and reviewed many a science text book, and they have all had to be re-written, revised, or retracted, especially during the last 50 years, but the foundations of Christian apologetics is unchanged, and that, I believe is the source of the quarrel.

    Finally, F. Nietzsche predicted shortly before his death that the 20th century would be the bloodiest in history. The embrace of atheistic thought was the impetus. Stalin, pol pot, mao, et al, proved Nietzsche correct with the attempted eradication of the ‘opiate of the masses’, and the slaughter of tens of millions of their own people. A natural outworking of a ‘man centered’ golden rule – he who has the gold, makes the rules. And why not? The ‘right of kings’ – with its absolute power over life & death – was the golden rule for millennium, until a quite revolution in thought took place, and ‘turned the world upside down.’ I took awhile to germinate and grow, but compare our Western fruits to those Mid-eastern islamic fruits and tell me that there is not a difference. I’ll take a Christian West over a stalinist east, or an islamic caliphate anyday.

    Great topic. Thank you for posting.

  • 72. Asymptosis  |  February 5, 2008 at 9:17 pm

    Hi Evanescent,

    “on what basis do you decide that a particular action in the past was the “right” one”

    If I liked the outcome.

    “what is your guide for the “right” action in the future?”

    I believe I explained this. There are certain outcomes I want. I do what I can to bring those outcomes about.

    “Even if you “make it up”, unless you’re on drugs you do not just choose your actions by rolling a die – so how do you decide what is “successful” or not?”

    I have experience of the world and a good imagination.

    “if someone tries to rape somebody you love, you can tell him that you think he’s wrong, but then he will reply that he thinks he’s right. Where do you go from there?”

    Force. I trust the legal system can bring to bear sufficient force to lock the person away for a while. Then his opinion is irrelevant.

    “what actions do you prefer to have meted on you? Do you prefer a certain type of action as oppose to another type of action, and is this always the case? For example, do you prefer to be treated kindly, with respect, dignity, and freedom? And do you prefer to avoid pain and suffering and torment? If so, then you have identified OBJECTIVE standards which guide your actions!”

    I think we have different meanings of the word objective. I don’t think any of the things you mentioned have anything to do with objectivity. I would only be experiencing any of the treatments you list from my subjective point of view.

    “This is a contradiction. If you are wrong, then you are wrong about being wrong, therefore you are right. This statement cannot mean anything.”

    Let me put it this way. Suppose I use a computer to simulate some physical process. All such numerical models are prone to various problems. One problem is that it is only possible to formulate a numerical model by simplifying the reality that the model describes. Another problem is the errors that accumulate when a computer performs a series of calculations.

    I say, all such models are wrong. And yet, some are better than others. Computer modelling is very important in industry, despite the problems of numerical analysis. To say it is wrong does not mean that it isn’t useful, and it is not a contradiction to call a model wrong and still use it anyway.

    “Since we both agree there is an objective reality, we can agree that there are objective truths – therefore some people WILL be wrong and some people WILL be right, assuming they use reality as their guide.”

    No, I disagree. Humans have no access to objective truth. Reality is only something we can experience, and experience is subjective. I can only use my experience of reality as a guide.

    Science provides models for reality, but these models are always simplifications. This is what allows science to progress: we can always come up with more sophisticated models. There is no ceiling to the level of sophistication we can strive for, because the level of complexity of nature is infinite.

    Flat-earthers are wrong, but so are people who claim that the Earth is spherical – the Earth is not a perfect sphere by any means, even if you ignore bumpiness like mountains and so forth. Furthermore, the Earth is flat, as a first-order approximation in the limit of distances much less than the diameter of the Earth when measured at locations near the surface of the Earth.

    “Ok, so one day someone tries to rape a loved one. The next day someone else does. The next day someone else does. Do you evaluate each on a case by case basis?”

    I’m not sure what you mean. This is the problem of using hypotheticals: if they don’t sound like any kind of reality that is likely to exist ever, it is hard to say something concrete about them.

    “assuming you do, what is your criteria for agreeing to or stopping the rape? It is based on your mood at the time? It is based on your feelings for the victim? But this PRESUPPOSES that you wouldn’t want something “bad” to happen – which PRESUPPOSES a standard for “good” or “bad”, which means: an objective standard!”

    I think you might be arguing against a straw-man here, and in any case I don’t think that what you’ve said necessarily leads to objective standards.

    “If there is an objective reality, and we have sense organs that can perceive it, why deny the self-evident?”

    As mathematics and statistics show, the “self-evident” is in fact often wrong. The models that approximate reality best often yield unintuitive results. In any case, sense organs exist “out there”, in the objective reality that we can only interact with subjectively.

    I have long-sightedness. This means that I can choose whether to focus or to have everything blurry. Does this mean that when I unfocus my eyes, the objects I’m seeing are suddenly turning all fuzzy, really? If not, why should I presume that my eyes are good messengers about the really-real objective reality?

    Of course, there is a lot of consistency in the world. But it is only experienced inside your own mind.

    “Did you realise that any attempt to deny the validity of sense experience involves a contradiction??”

    I would have to take it on a case-by-case basis ;)

    “Our perceptions of reality are experienced “as is” – humans acquire knowledge by integrating their sensations and perceptions by reference to reality using LOGIC as our tool. Assuming we perform this process rationally and non-contradictorily we can reach objective knowledge of reality.”

    That is your claim. I think we can take a kind of limit to objective knowledge of reality. I claim that the limit is not an element of the sequence that approaches that limit: the sequence of models used as better and better approximations of reality is not complete in the mathematical sense.

    “The denial of the objective is a hallmark of Kantian philosophy”

    I wouldn’t know.

    “… and a cause of many philosophical and social problems today”

    Sounds like a strong claim.

    “Drink a bottle of poison and then tell me what you think.”

    Alcohol is a mild poison. Intoxication is a symptom of this poisoning. Yet I like to have a drink.

    “Go a week without drinking and tell me what you think.”

    Try drowning and tell me what you think.

    “Go your life without friends or love, or without the ability to use your mind and tell me what you think.”

    Why should I? My subjective experience would be that this would suck.

    “Which means that there is a level that IS necessarily good.”

    Which level?
    Who says?

    I agree, that there may exist optima for the levels of food and drink to keep you healthy, and this optimum is finite but non-zero. However, the optimum changes from person to person and it even changes for each person as their life progresses. People over the age of 30 or 40 need to cut back on their carbohydrate intake to maintain an optimum weight, as their metabolism slows down.

    “Ah, but this PRESUPPOSES that stifling and bullying is wrong!”

    No, I label stifling and bullying as wrong. It also depends on context. If someone commits an offence and goes to jail, they may feel stifled and bullied by the establishment. Well, tough shit to that person.

    “You see (and I’m not being smug here), any attempt to deny objectivity forces you to utilise it; you smuggle it into the conversation without realising it. No offence of course – I’m just pointing it out. This is the fallacy of “stealing the concept”.”

    You see (and I’m not being smug here), any attempt to deny subjectivity forces you to utilise it; you smuggle it into the conversation without realising it. No offence of course – I’m just pointing it out.

    “Reason is actually man’s ONLY means of survival…. The man who rejects reason only survives on blind luck, living like an animal, or worse.”

    The second contradicts the first. Does man need reason for survival or not?

    “To live like a man, is not just to survive, it means to live LIKE A MAN, like a rational being, not like an animal.”

    It sounds like you deny the animalistic needs people have for sex and status. “Rational thinking” mainly seems used to procure the latter.

    “I hope that clears a lot of things up. By all means reply when you can, but have a good think about what we’ve talked about here, and notice how important the concept of objectivity is – it’s impossible to form any cogent statement without it.”

    Oh, yes, of course, I’ll just accept your authority on that. Meanwhile, you go and do a little contemplation of your own on the wisdom I’ve revealed to you. If you try really hard, one day you might even accept how blind you’ve been by insisting that there exists such nonsense as some “objective” morality.

  • 73. LeoPardus  |  February 5, 2008 at 9:44 pm

    evanescent:

    Re post 49 – I’m willing enough. Now if I get a moment free from the current insanity called my job, I may try to respond to your earlier points. Who knows? Maybe in a frenzy of productivity I’ll get 4 days work done in 2.

    When/If I do get back to you, bear this in mind. I’m a sarcastic SOB. In an all print media, you can’t hear my voice, so you may misapprehend my tone. When in doubt, assume I’m being sarcastic. Odds are very good that you’ll be correct. And If I’m being a vicious bass-turd, you’ll be happier thinking I’m only sarcastic. (Though I shall essay to avoid any viciousness.)

    Cheers.

  • 74. Brad  |  February 6, 2008 at 12:36 am

    Wow. Can I just say that, as a Christian, I am finding this conversation fascinating? In general, here are my (broad) thoughts on this discussion:

    1.) We have a slogan on our blog, “Truth without Love is abuse, and Love without Truth is neglect.” Whatever you believe “truth” to be, noone is being served if it is communicated without truth. It’s merely a rant.

    2.) I have truly appreciated the comments from HIS, TA, and LP concerning temperance and respectful language. It’s really interesting considering how many heated discussions we’ve had in the past, and serves (for me at least) as a GREAT encouragement that we can have these kinds of discussions and not resort to verbal violence. Thanks guys.

    3.) It’s eerie how similar this post’s rhetoric mirrors the abusive crap coming out of fundamentalist Christianity. We Christians get a bad rap for (apparently) the same reason atheists get a bad rap: a vocal minority.

    evanescent,

    Obviously, I disagree with you (as a Christian), and the way you say it (as a Christian). As a Christian, I believe that the best way to communicate what I believe is truth, is to do so with love and respect. I also believe that my very ability to do so stems from the truth I believe in.

    If you believe that you are “confronting evil wherever you find it,” would not a more effective tactic be to do so respectfully? It’s a slightly more effective argument. Afterall, much your evidence against Christianity is how it informs our poor behavior.

    As always, thanks for the opportunity to participate in these discussions. Always riveting. :-)

  • 75. bry0000000  |  February 6, 2008 at 1:20 am

    Wow, I haven’t been on here for a while, but I’m surprised to see what turned into a flame war between evanescent and Asymptosis.

    Sad :(.

  • 76. evanescent  |  February 6, 2008 at 6:42 pm

    bry00000, I used the last of my patience on Asymptosis a while go, and I no longer wish to continue the discussion with him. His rejection of objective reality is silly and self-contradictory. This is a basic philosophical issue and he appears to be sadly lacking in this area. That’s not meant as an insult to him at all, just an observation.

    If you reject objectivity you have NO basis on which to make any claim or position at all. Why does Asymptosis even comment – I assume he thinks he’s right and I’m wrong – but how can he even imagine this can be so when in order to differentiate between right and wrong there must be a standard of fact independent of the issue to arbitrate between the competing matters! In other words: objective reality.

    Everyone must assume sensory validity and external reality in each and every conversation – even in attempting to deny these things. They are AXIOMS. As soon as Asymptosis even starts a debate, he assumes what he tries to deny – that we cannot know reality. He tries to WIN a debate – assuming that there is such a thing are correct and incorrect, which ASSUMES there exists objective facts independent of his brain. So just by arguing with me, he makes my case for me.

    LeoPardus: thanks! I look forward to our future discussions being far more civilised – and apologies for my part in this mini war. ;)

    Brad – I realise my tone might come across as aggressive at times, but I’m banking on a level of shrewdness and intelligence from my readers. What I mean is that WHAT I write is far more important than HOW I write it.

    You see Brad, if you believe in an invisible friend in the sky, it doesn’t really matter how I phrase anything! You’re going to believe in that no matter how much logic and reason I throw your way. Personally, it doesn’t really bother me if I offend anyone or not – if you go through life trying not to offend people you might as well stay at home in bed and not step on ants. Offending someone isn’t a crime. Not standing up for what you believe is right IS a crime – a moral crime.

    So by speaking my mind I am being honest, rational, true to myself, and if anyone is being honest and rational themselves, they’ll see what I’m saying is right. If you want to use “how I phrase things” as an excuse, then you’re just kidding yourself.

  • 77. evanescent  |  February 6, 2008 at 6:48 pm

    By the way, I’d like to add a thank you to all those people who commented and said kind words about the article – thanks!

    I’ve been concentrating on replying to those who disagreed but I did notice the kind comments.

    Either way, I knew the article would be controversial from both sides and it got a good response and has boosted this great blog in traffic – keep it coming! ;)

  • 78. carriedthecross  |  February 6, 2008 at 6:51 pm

    “His rejection of objective reality is silly and self-contradictory. This is a basic philosophical issue and he appears to be sadly lacking in this area. That’s not meant as an insult to him at all, just an observation.”

    I think perhaps you are simplifying a very stimulating philosophical debate, actually.

    “Personally, it doesn’t really bother me if I offend anyone or not – if you go through life trying not to offend people you might as well stay at home in bed and not step on ants.”

    There is something to be said for choosing your battles, I think. It’s not helpful to go through life walking on eggshells in order to be politically correct. At the same time, its also not helpful to offend people for the sake of offending people.

    evanescent,

    “if anyone is being honest and rational themselves, they’ll see what I’m saying is right. If you want to use “how I phrase things” as an excuse, then you’re just kidding yourself.”

    And if you think that you have magically solved all of the complex and interconnected issues of truth that have been debated for thousands of years, you are kidding yourself. There is something to be said for humility, and for a healthy dose of skepticism regarding your own views, lest you become dogmatic.

    CTC

  • 79. evanescent  |  February 6, 2008 at 6:58 pm

    carriedthecross – like I said, these things are AXIOMS – they are necessary to accept before you can even form a cogent sentence. So if that’s “simplifying” then so much the better!

    There is something to be said for choosing your battles, I think. It’s not helpful to go through life walking on eggshells in order to be politically correct. At the same time, its also not helpful to offend people for the sake of offending people.

    Yes, but I didn’t say I offend people “for the sake of offending” though did I??

    I said it doesn’t matter if I offend them or not, if what I’m saying is right. To use your own words the other way around, I am saying that one shouldn’t go through life not offending people “for the sake” of NOT offending them.

    And if you think that you have magically solved all of the complex and interconnected issues of truth that have been debated for thousands of years, you are kidding yourself. There is something to be said for humility, and for a healthy dose of skepticism regarding your own views, lest you become dogmatic.

    CtT, just because people spent thousands of years debating whether a certain dance would bring rain, or whether the earth was formed from ant excrement, doesn’t mean those debates were valid.

    Some debates are over-complicated – some aren’t. You’re free to believe that god exists, but that doesn’t mean he does – it’s as simple as that.

    There is something to be said for humility, and for a healthy dose of skepticism regarding your own views, lest you become dogmatic.

    Healthy skepticism, yes. I am dogmatic about one thing: the truth. And it is the only thing that one SHOULD be dogmatic about. In fact, evading the truth or trying to escape it or halfbake it is nothing short of a deception and a lie. As such it is irrational – and immoral. That is why the facts should be our concern, and not “how we feel” – I find it hard to believe anyone would condemn me for that attitude! ;)

  • 80. carriedthecross  |  February 6, 2008 at 7:50 pm

    evanescent,

    Just because I know discussion on this thread became somewhat heated before, I want to make sure you know that if and when I disagree with you, I am not attacking you. Just to get that out of the way.

    That said…

    “Yes, but I didn’t say I offend people “for the sake of offending” though did I??”

    From where I am sitting, it seems like that is what this post has accomplished, though. As I read through the comments, it would seem that your post riled up those nontheists who agree with you, pissed of those nontheists who disagreed with you, and alienated the theists who read it. Content aside, that to me seems to be at the least bad marketing.

    “CtT, just because people spent thousands of years debating whether a certain dance would bring rain, or whether the earth was formed from ant excrement, doesn’t mean those debates were valid.”

    For the record, I was more or less referencing your claims about ethics, epistemology, metaphysics, etc. There are some debates that are dead. Gravity exists, the world is not flat. But to dismiss someone who subscribes to subjectivist ethical schemas is a little short sighted.

    “I am dogmatic about one thing: the truth. And it is the only thing that one SHOULD be dogmatic about. ”

    Okay, what does this mean? You are dogmatic about the existence of truth? The ability to know truth? Your monopoly on truth? I’ve read you make several blanket statements about understanding the truth here, but I haven’t seen you adequately substantiate your claims.

    The problem I’ve always had in theology and philosophy courses at my evangelical school is that people talk about absolute truth as if its existence necessitates that they certainly know it. Even if there is some kind of absolute truth, it does not logically follow that an individual necessarily understands that truth.

    “That is why the facts should be our concern, and not “how we feel” – I find it hard to believe anyone would condemn me for that attitude!”

    I agree with your underlying premise here. We should concern ourselves with reason and not emotion. But I do not believe you have demonstrated that your argument is one from reason and not from emotion. It seems (this is not an indictment, only a description of perception) that you have taken a pseudo-rational stance and packaged it in a few big words you might learn in an Intro to Philosophy course and expect people to be impressed.

    CTC

  • 81. Brad  |  February 6, 2008 at 7:57 pm

    CTC,

    Thanks for your input. I agree.

    evanescent,

    “Personally, it doesn’t really bother me if I offend anyone or not – if you go through life trying not to offend people you might as well stay at home in bed and not step on ants. Offending someone isn’t a crime. Not standing up for what you believe is right IS a crime – a moral crime.”

    *sigh* Thanks for proving my point. The sad part is that I’ve heard this same thing from loony fundie Christians and I’ve been just as amazed at how little reason they actually had. I have yet to hear a “rational” argument, as opposed to a generalized rant with unsupported accusations.

  • 82. Asymptosis  |  February 6, 2008 at 9:09 pm

    “I used the last of my patience on Asymptosis a while go, and I no longer wish to continue the discussion with him.”

    There you go, being lazy again.

    “His rejection of objective reality is silly and self-contradictory.”

    That must explain why you’re attempts to refute my ideas are filled with contradictions and baseless assertions.

    “If you reject objectivity you have NO basis on which to make any claim or position at all. Why does Asymptosis even comment – I assume he thinks he’s right and I’m wrong – but how can he even imagine this can be so when in order to differentiate between right and wrong there must be a standard of fact independent of the issue to arbitrate between the competing matters! In other words: objective reality.”

    I have responded to this argument several times already. If you haven’t read what I wrote, it just goes to show how lazy you’ve been.

    “Everyone must assume sensory validity and external reality in each and every conversation”

    Nice baseless assertion.
    In any case, what does sensory experience or external reality have to do with “objective morality.”

    “They are AXIOMS.”

    Nice baseless assertion.

    “As soon as Asymptosis even starts a debate, he assumes what he tries to deny – that we cannot know reality. He tries to WIN a debate – assuming that there is such a thing are correct and incorrect, which ASSUMES there exists objective facts independent of his brain. So just by arguing with me, he makes my case for me.”

    What do so-called “objective facts” (as if such things exist) have to do with the prospect of an objective morality?

    For someone who obviously prides themselves on philosophical prowess, you would fail to pass muster in a freshman philosophy class. I have taken first-year philosophy, and my instructors were very quick to jump on contradictory statements and baseless assertions. They expected that strong claims would be backed up by strong evidence and consistent logic.

    Please try harder in future.

  • 83. HeIsSailing  |  February 6, 2008 at 10:20 pm

    Michelle asks:
    “HIS: I think I started with not wanting to get into this debate. How is one able to politely decline? ”

    I will defend a position that I make in articles I write, but generally I find blog-debating to be tedious. Just do what I do – stop reading dopey arguments and flame-wars and do something better with your time ;-) Not participating is politely declining if you ask me.

  • 84. bry0000000  |  February 7, 2008 at 12:56 am

    ‘“we can and SHOULD expose immorality and evil when we see it.”

    “Evil and immorality”? These are the kinds of words I might expect from certain fundamentalist Christians. If you are such an atheist, then pray tell, where do you get your ideas about evil and immorality? There is no atheist Bible that would recommend such concepts to the enlightened.’

    With a bigger smile and a more polite tone than Asymptosis used, I would have to agree with his assertion. I don’t think accepting this position leads to an automatic rejection of objective reality; rather, I think this is a great leap in accepting only the world that we perceive physically. Just my two cents, cause that’s all it’s worth :).

  • 85. LeoPardus  |  February 8, 2008 at 4:03 pm

    evanescent:

    Getting back to some of this at last.

    I DO use “monotheism” interchangeably with “religion” – I think that much is easy to figure out. This can be seen from my use of the term “theist” – which obviously implies monotheism.

    If indeed you are using words this way, then communication is no possible. “Religion” is a much larger term than “monotheism”. To use them as synonyms destroys meaning and communication.

    Likewise “theist” does not imply “monotheism”. “Theist” is the larger term.

    Both of these fall under the heading of “fallacy of parts”. To try to construct an argument, or defend a position, when you are constantly conflating parts is pointless.

    If there is to be any communication, you’ll have to adopt delineated definitions for these terms.

    there is nothing true or meaningful that religion has to say that cannot be discovered without it.

    I hope you realize that it is impossible to prove this. And almost impossible to disprove it. I mean you’d have to find a world without religion, then check every truth in that world against every truth in a world with religion.

    So this is really a non-verifiable and non-falsifiable assertion.

    Me: How would you know what the world would be like if there was a god?
    You: Are you for real? Let’s look at the god of the bible, or Koran.

    You must also look at all the other gods. Hindu, Shinto, Shamanist, Greek, etc. And then there are all the possible, individual ideas about God. In short, you can’t say what a world with a deity would be like. Even in the case of the Bible or Koran, you don’t have one God. You have oodles of interpretations of God from those books. Some of those interpretations of God are actually rather nice deities. A world run by one of those might be quite pleasant.

    Are you trying to suggest that respect for freedom and individual rights are NOT the most noblest acts??
    What exactly would YOU suggest is more noble?

    Me suggest? Why bother? It would only be my opinion. Just as what you set forth was your opinion. Both may be wrong. I can assure you that many members of PETA would say that the noblest ideas are animal rights. I think they are absurd, and you probably do to. But they would be quite vehement in saying you and I are absurd.

    What I said wasn’t based on my opinion, it was based on objective morality.

    Sorry, but it was your opinion. It may be right or not. None the less it remains simply your opinion.

    Here I have clearly proved my points and dismissed yours.

    Nothing of the sort. By and large you didn’t address my points.

    I hope you find this civil. ‘Tis my intention.

  • 86. evanescent  |  February 9, 2008 at 8:05 am

    Leo, I did find it civil, thanks. However, I’m not here to exchange opinions. Otherwise I might as well tell you that my favourite colour is black and I support Liverpool Football Club. – you probably don’t care.

    If all I was offering were my own subjective opinions without reference to reality it would be very dull indeed, and hardly worthy of a discussion forum. Likewise, if all you’re offering is your personal opinion without any claim to truth, I don’t care. So this whole “it’s just YOUR opinion” – well, speak for yourself! If you’re just talking about your random thoughts fine, but I’m not. I’m making definite positive claims with reference to reality and am not afraid of to be right or wrong. That is why I keep talking about objectivity. If you just want to exchange subjective opinions, there is no point having a discussion, as there is nothing to win or prove to you.

  • 87. Iris  |  February 12, 2008 at 9:41 pm

    Yuck, evanescent, put down Atlas Shrugged, already. I like some of your posts, but you come off as so pompous and dogmatic! Kind of like Hitchens, but duller and slightly less crazy and anti-Muslim.

  • 88. evanescent  |  February 13, 2008 at 8:23 am

    Cheers for the “advice”, Iris. I haven’t actually read Atlas Shrugged yet.

    I’m sorry if you feel that being rational in a positive honest determined direct and non-apologetic way makes me pompous and dogmatic. I think that is probably because you’re used to half-baked wishy-washy politically-correct subjective vacillating between opinions.

    I think if you re-read what I’ve written you’ll see that you’re mistaking “speaking your mind” and having confidence in doing so, for “dogma”.

  • 89. Bill Baker  |  April 14, 2008 at 8:25 pm

    I’m an Agnostic-Deist, not quote atheist. However I’m also anti-theist. Not in opposition to god if it exists, because IF it does it is nothing more than an impersonal prime mover/first cause, but I OPPOSE theistic conceptions and ideas- dangerous and ridiculous as they are.

    By the way, it’s hug an Atheist day today, hug yourself or hug another atheist{or “atheos”/ non-theist}.
    : )

    In Reason:
    Bill Baker

  • 90. Colleen  |  August 31, 2014 at 11:12 pm

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Attention Christian Readers

Just in case you were wondering who we are and why we de-converted.

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Whether or not you believe in God, you should live your life with love, kindness, compassion, mercy and tolerance while trying to make the world a better place. If there is no God, you have lost nothing and will have made a positive impact on those around you. If there is a benevolent God reviewing your life, you will be judged on your actions and not just on your ability to blindly believe in creeds- when there is a significant lack of evidence on how to define God or if he/she even exists.

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