Atheistic attacks on Christianity

July 13, 2008 at 11:31 am 71 comments

A pristine second-hand copy of What’s So Great About Christianity? by Dinesh D’Souza became available to me recently. D’Souza tackles the current onslaught of atheistic attacks on Christianity by addressing the primary arguments within the framework of traditional Christianity or the kind of Christianity that takes the Bible to be the revealed word of God, the primary source of revelation.

The first two chapters are, for the most part, a sociological survey of the current success of Christianity as the world’s fastest growing religion. Vibrant Christianity, it seems, is an emerging force particularly in South America, Asia and Africa.

The third and forth chapters contain quite an informed characterization of the atheistic challenge to religion and Christianity in particular. D’Souza quotes a number of prominent figures to highlight their overtly negative views. Had I not read The End of Faith and listened to a portion of The God Delusion audiobook, I might have taken quite a dim view of Dawkins and Harris, considering them to be taking mere elitist positions in relation to science.

However, I now know that while their attacks on religion are strong, both men remain positive and mystically-oriented rather than negative and materialistic. Understandably, given that D’Souza has already confirmed himself to be firmly a believer in the supernatural, he is going to be on the defense to what amounts as a strong attack on his position. His task in this book is to prove that Christianity is not the evil that it has been characterized to be by prominent atheists. As such, these chapters feature quotes to highlight some of the strongest attacks made to date.

I highly doubt that there is one large philosophical structure called ‘atheism’. Atheists can vary from the materialistic to mystical, and as such have entirely different views on life. The very best of atheists would put religion in centre square of our education systems, if only to align the mythical stories with scientific rationalism. In other words, to explain religion in as natural terms as possible. Atheists generally get characterised as being in denial; rather, they are simply those who choose a perspective that is more in line with reality as it is perceived.

As a Christian, I perceived atheists as deluded – how could they deny the obvious? How could you not see from the complexity of nature the signs of a Creator? Now I understand that God is not a necessary explanation, and gladly D’Souza does not imply delusion on the part of atheists (unlike most Christian authors). Even editor of Skeptic magazine, Michael Shermer, recommends the book to atheists as a well-reasoned work (even though he disagreed with most of the conclusions).

- Gary

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  • 1. DSimon  |  July 13, 2008 at 3:36 pm

    However, I now know that while their attacks on religion are strong, both men remain positive and mystically-oriented rather than negative and materialistic.

    Can you elaborate on what you mean by this distinction?

  • 2. LeoPardus  |  July 13, 2008 at 4:12 pm

    I’m glad that you have taken the trouble to try to understand atheists and agnostics Gary. It allows you to be much more gracious toward them.

    Sadly D’Souza cannot be gracious to anyone who doesn’t follow his own philosophy. You should have seen (if you did not already) the soul-deep ugliness he so proudly displayed toward atheists after the shooting in Virginia Tech. If there are demons from hell, I’d think they’d possessed D’Souza.

    OK. Enough of me ragging on D’Souza. I dislike him as extremely as I dislike Cal Thomas, Anne Coulter, James Carville, Molly Ivans, and any other angry, ugly, loud-mouth, regardless of political or religious persuasion.

    I always did have one thought about atheist attacks (or any others for that matter) on Christianity. Why get into a lather about it? (You, Gary, are not of course.) If the faith is true and God is so all mighty, such attacks are of no possible consequence.

  • 3. Gary  |  July 13, 2008 at 9:00 pm

    DSimon, what I refer to in that distinction is Sam Harris’ distinctions on spirituality and mysticism which are interspersed throughout The End of Faith, and Richard Dawkins’ comments on religion and mystery in the opening of The God Delusion. It seems that while both men deem organised religion to be the source of much of our present political and social struggles, they remain quite in love with the mystery of nature. In other words, through science they live in a state of wonder at the universe as our understanding of it unfolds.

    Leo, I had not heard about D’Souza prior to reading this book, so it is interesting to learn this. In my further reading it seems that he’s just another closed-minded Christian thinker who is using his intellectual resources to respond to the ‘atheistic uprising’. It’s very true in your saying that God should need no defense.

  • 4. thewordofme  |  July 14, 2008 at 12:42 am

    You may be wrong about your perception of Christianity as the fastest growing religion…last I heard Islam was expanding faster. It has also taken over Catholicism as the largest sect.

  • 5. Cy Quick  |  July 14, 2008 at 5:34 am

    I would respect Christianity more, and theism as a whole more, if all sects were Modernist, that is: acknowledged the ludicrousness of the proposition that a hyper-genius who conjured the atom out of nothing then went on to play the human, dysfunctional game of “see what you made me do” with thorns, thistles and an expression of a weakness for roast lamb.

    My Christian upbringing alienated me from my family as they kept on clinging to the collection, Genesis to Revelation, of Judeo-Christian books mixing history with superstition, and I saw through thorn-caster and through the superstition that an innocent must die in order to placate a boss guy in the sky.

    If our animal consciousness does indeed abide when the brain dies it is a natural phenomenon one can be sure. There is no need for the terror which believers feel that they may be condemned to a life not only forced to learn how to play the harp, but also obliged to praise effusively a beastly ego-tripper and poseur who is able to end all suffering (disease, predation, cruelty, you name it) at a flicker, but intent upon an alternative program of preposterous ritual and unnecessary delay.

    I am glad that it is Christianity that is growing, with its allowance of secular government and free thought, plus its Judeo-Protestant-Humanist Work Ethic and free-enterprise economy, rather a certain other certaintist faith which it is dangerous to even name, let alone defame.

    Cy Quick at mydigest.wordpress.com

  • 6. bipolar2  |  July 14, 2008 at 8:50 pm

    ** the Indescribably divine makes for an ineffable Nothing **

    Dealing with those mystically inclined, the *I-feel-god-in-my-heart* crowd, and in general all irrationalist believers requires a different approach from dealing with rationalists.

    Their usual spiel: I know that my god exists — but he/she/it cannot be described, or is beyond human understanding.

    The philosopher Wittgenstein, in one seemingly cryptic utterance said, “A nothing would be as good as a something about which nothing could be said.”

    Spelled out: you claim that something exists, but no property (like, being blue) could ever be ascribed to it. This is the famous Western “via negativa” – negative path to god – also the “neti, neti” not-this, not-this of Hindu mystics. God is not blue, is not evil, is not good . . . .

    Logically, however, a claim that something exists does not ascribe a property to it — or, as you ought to have learned in logic class — existence is not a predicate. (Non-existence is not a predicate either.) Nobody can talk about Nothing. True.

    Nobody can talk about Nothing? Who’s doing the talking here? (Nobody?) And what’s being talked about? (Nothing?) And what did Nobody say about Nothing? Zen Buddhism figured all this out long ago — hence, koans if you’re lucky or a hard slap in the face when you’re persistently obtuse.

    ‘A god exists’ seems to be saying something, but it is meaningless. You might as well be saying bar-bar or saying nothing at all. The Viennese novelist, Robert Musil wrote “The Man without Qualities.” The man who can’t be there. A nobody. Nothing.

    If a god “is a something about which nothing can be said,” then this putative something is equivalent to “a nothing.” So-called mystics in India, China, Japan, and even Europe apprehended that any *god* without qualities was nothing.

    And, they said so. And, they were right.

    bipolar2
    © 2008

  • 7. bipolar2  |  July 14, 2008 at 9:32 pm

    Before talking about *atheism* perhaps you should know what it is and what it is not:

    ** Atheism is not a religion . . . not a quasi-religion . . . not even an association **

    >> The word ‘theism’ is an abstraction about an abstraction, religion.

    ‘Theism’ is an abstract noun which collectively refers to every religion (another abstract noun) which espouses the existence of at least one god, usually one having a personality, which interacts meaningfully with human beings.

    The group of theistic religions would include: Xianity, Judaism, Islam, Zoroastrianism, ancient Greco-Roman polytheisms. It would not include: Theravada Buddhism or Chinese ancestor worship. These are non-theistic religions.

    Theist and atheist alike can agree about which religions are theistic. Religions are reasonably well-defined “objects” (associations) which can be discriminated and counted. Such agreements, shared by supposedly antithetical camps, are for me “the salt which never loses its savour.”

    Atheism is essentially a viewpoint which denies that any god whatsoever exists. For the Big-4 Near Eastern monotheisms, the atheist claims that of God and Yaweh, Ahura Mazda and Allah, not one of them exists. These fictional characters have no greater status as beings than Gilgamesh and Zeus, Sherlock Holmes and Batman.

    Let’s be clear. Theism is not a religion. Atheism is not a religion either.

    >> A religion is a praxis.

    One defining characteristic of ‘religion’ is that it form a recognizable social unit sharing common practices, identifiable from within and without. (Despite its theistic stance, the Boy Scouts is not a religion. It is however a voluntary association.)

    Atheism embodies no common praxis — it has no creeds, no rituals, it has no common symbols, no outward means of identification. Atheism is not a voluntary association. Of course, there are voluntary associations which espouse atheism.

    >> Speaking clearly about non-existent, but well-known fictional characters.

    Having an opinion that gods do not exist cannot mean that one has an opinion *about* gods. There is no so-called ‘god’ in reality, according to the atheist, about which to have an opinion.

    However, I can have opinions about a fictitious character named ‘Hamlet’ as presented by Shakespeare in his play, ‘The Tragedy of Hamlet.’ I can also have opinions about a fictitious character named ‘God’ as presented in the synoptic gospels of ‘The New Testament.’

    All I can know about these characters is what I read in allegedly sacred primary sources directly devoted to them. I can no more find *God* by doing cosmological research than I can disinter *Hamlet’s* bones in a chapel at Elsinore.

    No interpretation of Shakespeare’s play “Hamlet” makes some character called ‘Hamlet’ more likely to have existed. No interpretation of the synoptics of the “New Testament” makes some being called ‘God’ more likely to exist. As for theology, it is fifth-rate fan fiction.

    bipolar2
    © 2008

  • 8. Gary  |  July 15, 2008 at 1:50 am

    bipolar, that was about as clear as mud :P

    Thank you for the clarifications, you have certainly gone well beyond what I was saying, but in fact have captured the essence of my unsaid thoughts. It is very difficult to bring into language concepts of ‘no-thingness’, and even more difficult to try to comprehend it. And that makes it so much more profound than the God concepts contained within theistic traditions.

  • 9. Joe  |  July 21, 2008 at 5:47 pm

    Atheism is essentially a viewpoint which denies that any god whatsoever exists.

    BiPolar—-not to be picky—-but here is another definition:

    If you look up “atheism” in the dictionary, you will probably find it defined as the belief that there is no God. Certainly many people understand atheism in this way. Yet many atheists do not, and this is not what the term means if one considers it from the point of view of its Greek roots. In Greek “a” means “without” or “not” and “theos” means “god.” From this standpoint an atheist would simply be someone without a belief in God, not necessarily someone who believes that God does not exist. According to its Greek roots, then, atheism is a negative view, characterized by the absence of belief in God.

    Note above:
    “someone without a belief in God, not necessarily someone who believes that God does not exist”.

    I think there is a difference to consider there BiPolar.

  • 10. Joe  |  July 21, 2008 at 5:51 pm

    By the way—-I cut and pasted the above from a “Definition of atheism” website. It’s not the final word—but I found the defintion interesting.

  • 11. Joe  |  July 21, 2008 at 5:53 pm

    A good way to define the above would be:

    An absence of belief in God, rather than a belief in His absence.

  • 12. Joe  |  July 21, 2008 at 6:01 pm

    Sorry to keep adding little tidbits—but it could be a TRUE atheist never posts on blogs:

    True Atheist: I do not have a belief in god, why argue the point? It’s like arguing whether or not Santa Claus exists. I’ll leave it to Quasi-atheists to spend their time arguing over whether god exists or not.

    Quasi atheist: “I believe god does not exist. He doesn’t exist I tell you! I KNOW he doesn’t exist. I’m so positive He doesn’t exist, and believe this so strongly, I’m willing to argue for hours about it!!”

  • 13. John Morales  |  July 21, 2008 at 6:10 pm

    Yeah, right, Joe.

    Don’t forget those True Scotsmen, either.

  • 14. The Apostate  |  July 21, 2008 at 6:11 pm

    Joe,

    True Atheist: I do not have a belief in god, why argue the point?

    Because billions of people believe in God.
    Because it is a better conversation than your average daily gossip.
    Because people live and die base on their perspective of the answer.
    Because it is a fascinating subject due to all of the above.

    Why is it that just because God is most likely a construct of the human imagination that it should then be compared to every construct of the human imagination (i.e. unicorns, Santa Claus), when there is obviously a huge sociological and psychological difference between many human constructs.

    Atheists and agnostics who compare God to Santa Claus do so with full knowledge that it is belittling and serves no purpose other than rhetoric.

  • 15. Joe  |  July 21, 2008 at 6:27 pm

    John/Apostate—-

    Did either of you really read the alternate defintion of an atheist above? I was being a bit tongue-in-cheek with my comparison of the two, but there definitely is a difference. One has an absence of any belief in God, the other “believes” there is no god and would even preach to others that fact. I have seen the difference between the two on this blog.

    Some will go out of their way to argue how they KNOW there is no “God”. There are others however who simply say “Why are you even bringing up the point—I have no belief in a deity so it is falling on deaf ears”

    John—-it really appears your modus operandi is mock first, then attempt a discussion. If the discussion doesn’t go your way, mock again. :>) I really don’t understand that. I brought up a valid point. If you go to other websites defining an “atheist” you will see the same thing. Many atheists do not define an atheist the way others do—there is a difference amongst atheists what the true definition of an atheist is. Check it out.

  • 16. Joe  |  July 21, 2008 at 6:39 pm

    Let me put it another way:

    If I sat down with a group of people and said “Let’s discuss whether Santa exists or not”. I think most would not want to be involved in the conversation. And why? They have no belief in Santa.

    So, If there are people at a table, and a really true atheist is sitting there and I say “Let’s talk about whether God exists”, I think the true atheist would get up and leave—-to him discussing whether God exists is like discussing if Santa Claus exists.

    I have met “True” atheists. They say “You believe in that $%$#$ ??” then they laugh and walk away. They show they REALLY don’t believe by how easily they can dismiss the whole thing.

    But then there are others who, for whatever the reason, can sit for hours discussing why god DOESN’T exist—-I think that is actually a bit strange. I don’t sit for hours talking about why there is no Easter Bunny–it would get boring after 5 minutes. So I really have to wonder about those who can spend hours on this blog talking about why someone who the “say” they don’t believe in doesn’t exist. I really find that rather strange when I really think about it. I’m a fanatic :>) so I’m expected to jabber on and on about God—-perhaps you are my nemesis–“fanatics” preaching in the opposite direction. :>) That’s pretty funny actually.

  • 17. SnugglyBuffalo  |  July 21, 2008 at 6:46 pm

    Joe, you realize this is a blog dedicated to de-conversion? Of course people here are going to talk about why they don’t believe in God anymore. If I go to a website dedicated to conversion, I would expect there to be a lot of discussion on why they believe. Especially when an atheist comes in and starts questioning it. Should we all just ignore it every time a Christian asserts that God exists?

    Maybe we should start questioning why you keep arguing so strongly for God’s existence?

    Modified quote from Joe-

    Some will go out of their way to argue how they KNOW there is a “God”. There are others however who simply say “Why are you even bringing up the point—I have belief in a deity so it is falling on deaf ears

    It can go both ways.

  • 18. SnugglyBuffalo  |  July 21, 2008 at 6:51 pm

    If I sat down with a group of people and said “Let’s discuss whether Santa exists or not”. I think most would not want to be involved in the conversation. And why? They have no belief in Santa.

    Except no one is making government policy decisions with Santa in mind. 80% of the U.S. population doesn’t believe in Santa.

    If belief in Santa was as pervasive as belief in God, I’m certain there would be a ton of people arguing that he doesn’t exist.

  • 19. The Apostate  |  July 21, 2008 at 7:08 pm

    Joe,

    Did either of you really read the alternate defintion of an atheist above?

    Yes, and I agreed with the difference. That wasn’t the point of my response. I know very few people who say they “know” there is no God.
    More pointedly:

    So, If there are people at a table, and a really true atheist is sitting there and I say “Let’s talk about whether God exists”, I think the true atheist would get up and leave—-to him discussing whether God exists is like discussing if Santa Claus exists.

    Which is a real shame. This doesn’t sound like what I would call a “true atheist” nor does it follow from the definitions you provided. This person is either an elitist or incapable of basic social skills (or both). This is more than dismissal – this is rude and apathetic. This person shows he/she DOES care by acting in a way that he/she would not to elsewhere.
    I fail to see why this person cannot converse about the issue of God like anything else.

    But then there are others who, for whatever the reason, can sit for hours discussing why god DOESN’T exist—-I think that is actually a bit strange.

    You didn’t actually read my comment 14, did you?

  • 20. Joe  |  July 21, 2008 at 7:16 pm

    Snuggly—-

    I wasn’t arguing against the point that Christians argue for a belief in God—–that’s natural. What my point is—-is that perhaps there are different types of “atheists”. The site where I got the quote said that atheists have differing opinions about how to define the word “atheist”. Perhaps de-cons fall into a different “kind” of atheist—-that’s all I was saying. I had never considered that there are different “types” of atheists before—-I really hadn’t—-until I saw that definition.

    The point I’m making is that I truly have seen different reactions to a discussion of “God”. Some, who obviously do not believe, want nothing to do with the discussion, because to them it is “nonsense”, whereas others are extremely interested in arguing their point—even for hours. I guess a de-con would fall into that group having “believed” in the past.

    I just found it interesting—-I understand this is a “deconversion” blog–but I have seen a few of the other type of atheist here also though—-who claim never to have believed in God in the first place—-rare–but they do visit.

  • 21. Joe  |  July 21, 2008 at 7:19 pm

    I know very few people who say they “know” there is no God.

    Have a discussion with Obi–He is “absolutely sure” about a number of things. :>)

  • 22. Joe  |  July 21, 2008 at 7:23 pm

    You didn’t actually read my comment 14, did you?

    Yeah—I read it. I guess I would understand discussing deconversion, how it happened, etc. for a few hours—but if you REALLY do not believe in God, I cannot see discussing that for any extended period of time. As I said, I don’t believe in the Easter Bunny—I mean I REALLY don’t believe in him—so I have absolutely no problem not thinking of him, or discussing him for extremely long periods of time. If one REALLY didn’t believe in God, it would seem to me that one would talk about him less and less as the days went by—-not more and more. This is my opinion I know—but I really feel it to be true.

  • 23. Obi  |  July 21, 2008 at 8:27 pm

    Joe is such a troll that it’s becoming truly pitiful. I know that I don’t spend entire days on end roving around theistic websites/blogs causing trouble for no other reason than to cause it. You don’t even start meaningful arguments Joe, it’s always “Why do you talk about it so much if you don’t believe, et cetera, et cetera…”

    Goodness, you’re so immature and utterly juvenile. It’s so unbecoming of one your age. Not only that, but having the gall to call me out by name? Disgusting.

  • 24. Cthulhu  |  July 21, 2008 at 8:35 pm

    Joe,

    I guess I would understand discussing deconversion, how it happened, etc. for a few hours—but if you REALLY do not believe in God, I cannot see discussing that for any extended period of time. As I said, I don’t believe in the Easter Bunny—I mean I REALLY don’t believe in him—so I have absolutely no problem not thinking of him, or discussing him for extremely long periods of time.

    I would guess you really, really believe in Jeebus – so why do you have to talk about that all the time? Sorry – I am with Obi…you aren’t getting any traction here.

  • 25. Cthulhu  |  July 21, 2008 at 8:37 pm

    Obi,

    Off-topic…did I see you on Atheist Nexus?

  • 26. Obi  |  July 21, 2008 at 8:42 pm

    Cthulhu —

    Yes, why yes you did. I signed up after you posted the link in a topic here.

  • 27. Cthulhu  |  July 21, 2008 at 8:44 pm

    Obi,

    Cool – I will send you an invite…if you don’t mind! TheNerd is in residence too.

  • 28. The Apostate  |  July 21, 2008 at 8:48 pm

    Joe, you are obviously just going to repeat the same thing over and over and over. Okay, we get your point. Now, why are you even here if deconversion is only remotely interesting and God is not at all?

    Advice: speak for yourself, not for anyone, and certainly not everyone, else. YOU think that people should not talk about God. Don’t confuse yourself as a “true atheist” as if you speak for any atheist other than yourself, and if you are not an atheist, then you really lack credibility and no one should care what you think about what atheists “should” do because you don’t seem to grasp the flow of a normal conversation.

    More advice: don’t simply ignore another’s side of the conversation. I gave a reason for why you shouldn’t compare denial of God and denial of other human constructs. You didn’t refute me, you ignored me. When was the last time someone with a tract came up to you with “why you should believe in the Easter Bunny,” or how many people do you know were killed in the World Trade Center because of someone’s belief in Santa Claus? Atheists of all sorts should investigate the reality of God for all the reasons I have pointed out. Joe should either response to those reasons or shut up.

    And Joe if you say the same thing over again, it will be considered spam.

  • 29. Obi  |  July 21, 2008 at 9:05 pm

    Joe —

    This post is simply to preclude your inevitable “sensitivity” or “you guys take this too seriously” post, because you know and I know that it would have been the follow up to these spot-on criticisms. By no means do we want you to get out so that we can “talk about nonbelief in peace”, but for the love of music man, at least try to add something intelligent to talk about.

  • 30. Ubi Dubium  |  July 21, 2008 at 9:06 pm

    I’m on the Atheist Nexus too. Sounds like we should start a group. The de-Convert, I think you have dibs on that – do you want to start one?

  • 31. John Morales  |  July 22, 2008 at 4:48 am

    Well, back from work. I see Joe is falling back on the same old same old.
    Given his prolixity, I single out one paragraph to respond to.

    1. John—-it really appears your modus operandi is mock first, then attempt a discussion. If the discussion doesn’t go your way, mock again. :> 2. I really don’t understand that. 3. I brought up a valid point. If you go to other websites defining an “atheist” you will see the same thing. 4. Many atheists do not define an atheist the way others do—there is a difference amongst atheists what the true definition of an atheist is.

    1. If it really so appears, you should be able to find my first comments to each respondent over the last week or so and demonstrate your claim.
    2. It is your wishful thinking at work. I cannot explain to you the workings of your subconscious.
    3. There are umpteen plus one definitions of atheist on the Web. My 1993 edition of the OED has n.1 A person who denies or disbelieves the existence of God, or of gods. 2 A person who denies God morally; a godless person. ajd. Denying or disbelieving the existence of God or gods; godless.
    By that definition, I am an atheist.
    4. Many in-groups use jargon. So what?

    Your points are aren’t interesting and your perceptions flawed, Joe.

  • 32. John Morales  |  July 22, 2008 at 5:05 am

    Hm, I probably gave him too much credit for 4. More likely, Joe probably meant atheists disagree with other atheists about the definition of such.

    Still the same answer, of course.

    Such inanity. Look, Joe:
    “Many atheists do not define an atheist the way others do”.
    The first two words of your quote say they are atheists. Obviously, comprehension is not your strong suit. If they are atheists (by [your] definition) then how does it specifically matter if they disagree on the nuances of the definition itself?

    But I too grow prolix. Joe doesn’t quite do the Gish Gallop, but since pretty much every sentence and just about every point is flawed (often deeply), it would take essay upon essay to adumbrate to him (as I just did above) the ambiguities and internal inconsistencies of such to a degree which was amenable to his level of understanding.

    It ain’t worth it.

  • 33. Anonymous  |  July 22, 2008 at 11:02 am

    This post is simply to preclude your inevitable “sensitivity” or “you guys take this too seriously” post, because you know and I know that it would have been the follow up to these spot-on criticisms

    :>) Another thing “you know” LOL.

  • 34. Anonymous  |  July 22, 2008 at 11:08 am

    I really got you guys riled up it sounds like. And all I did was bring up the “fact” that the “definition” of an atheist is held differently by atheists. Check it out yourselves. Quite a few people here with “chips on their shoulders” apparently.

    Obi—so what if I mentioned your name. Someone else did that on another thread, calling me “insecure”—I just laughed it off. I was totally joking about how you always seem to “know” the answers to everything —“there is No God and I know it” “There is no soul and I know it” etc. Come on—lighten up—I didn’t call you a “troll” for Pete’s sake. :>)

  • 35. Anonymous  |  July 22, 2008 at 11:12 am

    Lighten up Obi. I mentioned your name totally tongue in cheek–come on, even you must admit you often say things such as these: “There is NO god and I know it” “It is a proven fact there is no soul” etc.—you often claim to “know” things others don’t even try to claim. In fact, the reason I posted that is because the person said “I know very few people who claim to KNOW there is no God”—you DO claim such a thing so it made me laugh.

    On another thread someone mentioned me out of the blue–I asked them to be more specific about what they were stating but I laughed it off——this is what is called a “blog”—one doesn’t need to get as sensitive as you have or have a chip on their shoulder so much. I’ve never called you a “troll” for Pete’s sake. :>)

  • 36. Joe  |  July 22, 2008 at 11:16 am

    Lighten up Obi–geez. Come on—you often say things such as these: “I KNOW there is no god” or “It has been proven there is no soul–I KNOW there isn’t”–I was being “tongue in cheek” about that. Someone mentioned me on another thread—I just laughed it off. Why are getting so sensitive you need to call someone a “troll”—geez—talk about immature. LOL

  • 37. Joe  |  July 22, 2008 at 11:18 am

    Sorry for posting a few times in a row there—–it seemed like the post wasn’t “taking” so I posted again—then they all took. :>)

  • 38. Joe  |  July 22, 2008 at 11:25 am

    But I too grow prolix. Joe doesn’t quite do the Gish Gallop, but since pretty much every sentence and just about every point is flawed (often deeply), it would take essay upon essay to adumbrate to him (as I just did above) the ambiguities and internal inconsistencies of such to a degree which was amenable to his level of understanding.

    John—

    Thanks for using the word “adumbrate”—you show us all that you are so intellectually superior that we should not even bother making another post. You are so darn intelligent you’ll just tear up whatever anyone posts. I have never met such an intellectually gifted person in my life. It’s a pleasure to post on the same board as you.

  • 39. Obi  |  July 22, 2008 at 11:38 am

    Joe —

    You frustrate me. I don’t want to equate you to a child, but the fact that you take serious criticism and simply toss it off as some type of “joke”, replete with a winking emoticon and inane internet acronyms is somewhat telling. The most terrible thing is that you’ll most likely ignore this and continue with your extremely annoying behaviour, in which case I’ll just stop responding to you.

    Grow up, Joe.

  • 40. SnugglyBuffalo  |  July 22, 2008 at 11:50 am

    Thanks for using the word “adumbrate”—you show us all that you are so intellectually superior that we should not even bother making another post.</blockquote
    I actually love it when people do this, it gives me an excuse to learn new words. Yesterday I learned what “adsquatulate” means.

    Actually, after looking it up, I don’t think John used it appropriately. Adumbrate means to give a sketchy outline of, or partially disclose. Given the context of John’s post, it seems like he meant it more in a sense of making clear the ambiguities and internal inconsistencies. Or at least to make those things known, if not necessarily clear. Correct me if I’m wrong, of course.

    Anyway, I’m always eager to increase my lexicon!

  • 41. SnugglyBuffalo  |  July 22, 2008 at 11:50 am

    Accursed incomplete closing blockquote tag!

  • 42. Joe  |  July 22, 2008 at 12:11 pm

    Actually, after looking it up, I don’t think John used it appropriately.

    Snuggly—

    I don’t mind learning new words either. But one should know what they mean before using them. One can BE intellectual or SOUND intellectual. Before one attempts to “sound” like they are on a mentally higher level, it helps if they really ARE on a mentally higher level. :>)

  • 43. Joe  |  July 22, 2008 at 12:12 pm

    By the way, I do KNOW one thing for sure—I am not on an intellectually higher level—I think that is obvilous. :>)

  • 44. Joe  |  July 22, 2008 at 12:12 pm

    Then I spell obvious wrong. :>)

  • 45. John Morales  |  July 23, 2008 at 9:28 pm

    SnugglyBuffalo, you may well have a point – nevertheless, I refer you to polysemy.

    You certainly got it, anyway. No need for correction.

    (PS I tend to hardly post commendatory posts, and when I do it’s because I feel it’s due. Thus the perception by some that I am an unrelenting critic.)

  • 46. John Morales  |  July 23, 2008 at 9:31 pm

    (… an unrelenting critic and nothing more.)

  • 47. The Religious Delusion « de-conversion  |  August 22, 2008 at 12:01 am

    [...] These are becoming highlighted as I read through numerous books, such as God Without Religion, What’s So Great About Christianity, and The Diamond in your [...]

  • 48. Anonymous  |  August 22, 2008 at 12:05 pm

    I wanted to share this. I realize many will see it as “sappy sentiment”, or ask why God would “allow” there to be quadraplegics in the first place. My point is if they can continue to believe despite their huge infirmity (you would think that those who have been injured as they have would be the most likely NOT to believe in God), then of course I can too!

    A couple of nights ago on a Christian channel they had several severely handicapped people as guests. They had one gentleman who had no arms, and played the guitar with his feet. I was amazed that he had learned to play the guitar so brilliantly. But I was most amazed that he was using his talents, despite his severe handicap, to praise God.

    There was another guy from Australia, with no arms and no legs, but one of the biggest smiles in the world. And he was praising God! Another quadraplegic, in a wheel chair, a victim of a diving accident when she was 17 years old, now the head of a ministry that gives free wheel-chairs to victimes of paralysis, sat praising God also.

    None of these people were grateful they were paralyzed–in fact, they said that of course they would take back the ability to walk, or use their hands, etc. if given the opportunity—but they had all learned that God is sufficient—and they all played great faith in God.

    I thought of how some people say there is no soul—we are just our brains and our bodies. Then I saw these people and thought “No way. The guy has no arms and no legs—but he is still a “whole person”. What he is displaying is that we are NOT just our bodies—–we are far more—we are souls and spirits with free wills. The loss of arms and legs doesn’t make us LESS of who we are—because we are NOT just our bodies! I saw that so clearly once again!!

    That girl “chose” to dive off of a pier and hit her head on the bottom–it was an “accident” but it was a bad choice SHE had made. She then turned with full heart to the Lord and He gave her strength and courage to live—-and she is amatically helping others as a result. God doesn’t promise perfect lives, or freedom from accidents, or freedom from pain. He does promise to be there in everyone of our circumstances, and these people showed to me that faith in God CAN survive anything!

    The last thing I thought was the day we all stand before Jesus. Imagine a quadraplegic, having kept their faith, or even gained their faith, after a horrible accident, and used their lives—with their crippled bodies to believe in Jesus, and bring honor to his name. They were able to keep the faith through the worst of circumstances—through circumstances I cannot even begin to fathom. Can you imagine standing before the Lord and complaining that we “couldn’t continue to believe” when a person who was a quadraplegic due to an accident, or a war injury, continued to believe despite the most severe set-backs?

    That really hit home for me in the most dramatic way. How can I harbor doubts, when I see people like this, victorious and grateful in life, overcoming the worst obstacles and yet proclaiming that God is there? Do I listen to them, or to someone who has every blessing in life, and through “reason and logic” has determined God does not exist? I think I’ll praise God along with the guy playing the guitar with his feet, who admits life is hard, but believes with all of his heart that God is there.

  • 49. Obi  |  August 22, 2008 at 12:20 pm

    Anonymous —

    Touching. It amounts to nothing though, so I’m sorry. One can find thousands, if not millions of people in the same situation(s) in every other religion on Earth, thanking the god(s) of that religion for blessing them and helping them through life. Supposed ‘miracles’ and ‘answered prayers’ abound in hundreds of other religions, not just Christianity. Thus, such experiences say nothing about the veracity of whatever religious claim they are used to support, otherwise they’d all be true and that’s quite obviously impossible. Only through reason, logic, and scientific inquiry can you actually find out which ones are true, because subjective experience is a pitiful (if that, even) indicator of truth value.

    Also, I’d just like to point out that your paragraph regarding the existence of souls made me laugh out loud. Thanks for that.

  • 50. LeoPardus  |  August 22, 2008 at 12:31 pm

    Well I have to suspect that Anonymous is just another drive by shooter. Nonetheless

    So Anon, your take home is this: Rather than think carefully about truth (using reason and logic) I am going to base my faith on emotional, touching experiences I get from TV.

    Wow! A faith informed and reinforced by TV. That’s what I want!!!

  • 51. SnugglyBuffalo  |  August 22, 2008 at 1:21 pm

    What he is displaying is that we are NOT just our bodies—–we are far more—we are souls and spirits with free wills. The loss of arms and legs doesn’t make us LESS of who we are—because we are NOT just our bodies! I saw that so clearly once again!!

    Like Leo, I suspect this isn’t actually going to be read by the masked poster I am responding to. Still, I am curious how this person responds to the idea that the loss of parts of your brain does make you “less of who you are.” I can cut off your arm, and you’re still the same person, minus a limb. If I shoot a rod of metal through your head, however, you will likely not be the same person, with potentially radical changes in your personality.

  • 52. john t.  |  August 22, 2008 at 1:55 pm

    Snuggly

    “I can cut off your arm, and you’re still the same person, minus a limb. If I shoot a rod of metal through your head, however, you will likely not be the same person, with potentially radical changes in your personality.”

    So when you switched from a Devout Christian to an Atheist, did you become a different person? Because Im sure I can bet that your personality changed Radically.

  • 53. LeoPardus  |  August 22, 2008 at 2:53 pm

    john t:

    So when you switched from a Devout Christian to an Atheist, did you become a different person? Because Im sure I can bet that your personality changed Radically.

    SB will answer in his own time. Meanwhile I’ll say that you can bet as you wish, but I think you’d lose this one.

    Several times around here there have been discussions on whether and/or how much any of us changed upon de-converting. The consensus has been that the changes were minor to negligible for the most part.

    Some have said that they feel more “at peace”, less worried and such. From my pserpective I’d say that on average, de-conversion renders about as much change as conversion. Very little most of the iime.

  • 54. Echo  |  August 22, 2008 at 3:13 pm

    From my pserpective I’d say that on average, de-conversion renders about as much change as conversion. Very little most of the iime.

    LeoPardus—

    Just curious—do you really see your “conversion” as rendering little change to you? I know you all here this over and over—forgive me–but when I hear that I wonder about your conversion in the first place.

    Sure–many don’t have a radical emotional experience as some do, but if they are truly born-again they experience a radical change to their lives. If I am misunderstanding you then correct me—-but it sounds like you are saying almost nothing changed in you at conversion, and the same at deconversion. Is that what you are saying?

  • 55. Echo  |  August 22, 2008 at 3:13 pm

    I meant “hear” this, not “here this” sorry

  • 56. john t.  |  August 22, 2008 at 3:30 pm

    Leo

    “Some have said that they feel more “at peace”, less worried and such”(Leo)

    If someone is Fearful and not at peace and then because of their De conversion that changes, I would venture a guess that their personality would be radically altered. How could it not, being fearful really forms how you see the world, dont you think?

  • 57. LeoPardus  |  August 22, 2008 at 3:37 pm

    john t:

    My take on a person being “radically altered” is that they go from being soemthing like an angry, combative, bully to being a sweet, peacemaking, teddy-bear. Or from being a drunken bum to being a teetotaling, successful business man.

    Going from worried about your “sins” to being at peace with yourself is no radical.

  • 58. Bobbi Jo  |  August 22, 2008 at 3:49 pm

    I am very at peace having God in my life. Maybe Leo means he is at peace with himself (now) instead of God (then). That would keep his personality the same, the peace would just be directed elsewhere ( I’m sure Leo will correct me if I am wrong). That is the only way I can see it keeping the dynamics of personality the same and still have been a “true” chistian and “true deconvert”.

  • 59. Ubi Dubium  |  August 22, 2008 at 4:05 pm

    So when you switched from a Devout Christian to an Atheist, did you become a different person? Because Im sure I can bet that your personality changed Radically.

    No – I didn’t change radically. I am still basically the same kind, ethical , responsible person I was before. I am probably more tolerant now, though. Somebody who “knew me then”, upon meeting me now would probably not have a clue that anything had changed. Not unless they asked me about religion directly. My elderly Baptist relations haven’t noticed a thing. I realized that who I am does not come from god, and never did. It comes from me. Deciding that the supernatural does not exist did not change my personality, and why should it?

  • 60. LeoPardus  |  August 22, 2008 at 4:13 pm

    Echo:

    You have so many giant errors in your thinking that it’s hard to know where to start.

    -First, you seem to be ignoring those who grow up in the faith and don’t have a conversion experience. Do such peole need to have a “conversion” in order to be “real” Chritians in your theology?

    -Second, you imply that ONLY a conversion experience that produces a “radical” change is genuine. What do you do with a kindly gentelman who joins the faith but remains a kindly gentleman? In your world, must he trancend his kindliness and become a super saint to be “real”?

    -Third, what do you make of the person who converts from a bad life, but continues to have trouble with it? Maybe an alcoholic who continues to fall back into the bottle at times. Is that no radical enough to be genuine?

    Now for my own part I’d say nothing radical happened at conversion. I would say the the changes in me that occurred post conversion were pretty radical, but then almost anyone would be radically different if you compared them at say 20 and 40. As for changes post de-conversion, again nothing radical. But do you expect much radical change over a couple years for a person in their 40’s?

    Maybe you’re one of those with a story like, “I converted from being a theif, prostitute, drug dealer, what have you’ Or maybe you keep hearing such stories. Fact of the matter is that those are a minority in the faith. A bunch of your really nice church folks just grew up that way. And most of your converts never changed radically. But of course those radical stories are always dramatic, se they get noticed more.

  • 61. SnugglyBuffalo  |  August 22, 2008 at 4:17 pm

    john t-

    So when you switched from a Devout Christian to an Atheist, did you become a different person? Because Im sure I can bet that your personality changed Radically.

    Well, as Leo suspected, I would argue that I have changed very little since apostatizing. I’ve revised my opinion on some things, but my personality hasn’t really changed at all. I de-converted months before telling most of my friends, and they never noticed any change in me.

    Anyway, I’m not really sure what you’re getting at with this comment. Let’s assume that my de-conversion did radically change my personality, for the sake of argument. So what? What’s your point?

  • 62. LeoPardus  |  August 22, 2008 at 4:19 pm

    a “true deconvert”

    Wow! I don’t even know how to begin to wonder how to define one of those.

  • 63. SnugglyBuffalo  |  August 22, 2008 at 4:20 pm

    Leo-

    a “true deconvert”

    Wow! I don’t even know how to begin to wonder how to define one of those.

    You better learn quick. We need to make sure we don’t have any of those non-true de-converts lurking around here!

  • 64. Bobbi Jo  |  August 22, 2008 at 4:52 pm

    “Wow! I don’t even know how to begin to wonder how to define one of those.

    You better learn quick. We need to make sure we don’t have any of those non-true de-converts lurking around here!”

    I was poking fun at how christians use that term. I was just saying that I agree with the overall statement that conversion and deconversion don’t have to be radical changes.

  • 65. SnugglyBuffalo  |  August 22, 2008 at 5:12 pm

    I know, Bobbi Jo, I was joining in and poking fun at the whole concept of being a true anything. I wasn’t trying to imply that you were taking the term seriously.

  • 66. Bobbi Jo  |  August 22, 2008 at 5:47 pm

    Snuggly,

    yeah, that is the only thing I don’t like about blogging/email. You sometimes can’t tell if someone is joking. Sorry I’m such a sensitive girl. Although, I do say y’all now. :)

  • 67. SnugglyBuffalo  |  August 22, 2008 at 5:59 pm

    yeah, that is the only thing I don’t like about blogging/email. You sometimes can’t tell if someone is joking.

    Heck, sometimes I can’t tell in face-to-face situations. I’m not very good at reading people.

  • 68. Andy  |  September 29, 2008 at 10:15 pm

    Very interesting thread. I am a Christian, and like Anonymous and john t, it makes me intrigued and nervous (?) to know that there are people who have rejected faith.

    We all have our opinions, and we all to some extent hope that others agree with us, making us feel like we’re right. That’s probably why you’re on this thread. And I’m going to church tomorrow night, but hopefully it’s not my only motivation.

    I don’t want to be just a drive-by, but I do want to say that God loves you and has good plans for your life. I pray that someone in your life can show you what a true Christian is.

  • 69. john t.  |  September 29, 2008 at 10:46 pm

    I pray that someone in your life can show you what a true Christian is.(andy)

    So what are you?…….Calvinist, armenian, catholic, pentecostal, pretrib, postrib, evangelical, orthodox, yada yada yada……………….ah let me guess, youre a “TRUE CHRISTIAN”

  • 70. Ethan Grow  |  April 15, 2009 at 4:26 pm

    guys, come on, a real christian isn’t defined as a certain “branch” of christianity…you can legally be part of every kind of every denomination of christian belief, and not be a devout christian. it has NOTHING TO DO with the denomination. However, it has EVERYTHING to do with your own spritual experiences. your own beliefs, and whether those experiences, beliefs, and practices are flush with the Bible-the ONLY trustworthy judge of a “true christian”

  • 71. LeoPardus  |  April 15, 2009 at 4:29 pm

    A “real Christian” is a “true Scotsman”. :)

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Attention Christian Readers

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

de-conversion wager

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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