How some Christian commentors have helped…to solidify my atheism

September 24, 2008 at 3:17 pm 395 comments

When I first came to the de-Conversion blog I was afraid to read comments left by Christians. I was afraid that my atheistic position was actually weak, and that they would present some argument for God that I hadn’t considered, or that was so rationally sound that I couldn’t ignore it. And to be perfectly honest, I wanted them to succeed in convincing me. I read the responses searching for a glimmer of truth, looking for some defense that would lead me back into the comfortable faith of my childhood. It didn’t take me very long to figure out that would never happen.

Here is why:

1. They never bring anything new to the table.
I’ve been an avid reader of the blog for over a year now, and I’ve read virtually every comment. I’ve read hundreds of Christian arguments and apologetics, but of those hundreds, no one has ever introduced a new or novel argument. They all use the same hackneyed apologetic tactics and arguments, and to make things even more frustrating, they present these arguments as if no one has ever heard of them before, as if they are completely original and earth-shattering. Since most of us here are former Christians who were deeply immersed and educated in the faith, this attitude is nothing less than insulting.

2.
They present no convincing arguments.
Aside from just presenting hackneyed arguments, they also present weak arguments. They have yet to actually produce any real “evidence that demands a verdict,” or any strong point that makes me stop a think.

3.
They are rarely humble.
It is absolutely impossible to carry on a dialog with someone who believes that they have the truth completely figured out. The least that they could do is admit that maybe, just maybe, they are mistaken. But this hardly ever happens. I’m more than happy to admit that I could be wrong, and that I don’t have all of the answers, but the Christians refuse to concede that point. The result of this “I’ve got the market cornered on truth” attitude is that they refuse to listen and consider what we actually have to say. Their minds are already made up, and conversation with them is a one-way street. On top of the attitude, they also act as if they have the answer to every single problem, including the problem of our de-conversion, and how we can find God again.

4.
They posit simple answers for difficult questions.
Speaking of the way to find God again, Christians will tell us that it is painfully simple. We just need to “seek God” more—”more” as in temporally as well as humbly and fervently. I’m really sick of that one because it both presupposes that we didn’t already seek him fervently to begin with, and because it is a cop-out. Theoretically, we could seek God all of our lives and never really find what we’re looking for, despite the fact that scripture promises that those who earnestly search for God will have no trouble finding him. They also tend to sum up difficult topics with an unverifiable toss-away sort of answer, like the way they explain the Problem of Evil with the Band-Aid they like to call “free will.”

5. They display blind faith and emotional thinking.
During my first few weeks reading the blog I hoped to find some good, rational reasons for believing in God put forth by Christians, but every “personal testimony” is reducible to either blindly trusting in the Bible or an emotional, intuitive belief that God exists. Since I value critical thinking so highly, I find such testimonies more than underwhelming.

6.
They don’t seem to understand the desire for real, empirical, immediate evidence, nor even know the nature of the sort of evidence I’m referring to.
No, the Bible doesn’t count. Neither does that person who you heard about who was “miraculously cured” of cancer, or that time you prayed that the coat you wanted from the Gap would still be there in your size, and miraculously by the time you make it to the store it was still there. It’s been said before, but apologetics boils down to nothing more than making excuses for an absent God, and I’ve certainly seen that here. One of the most frequent instructions given to us by Christians is that we have to “just trust in God.” That’s it. They ignore the fact that, for we who have apostatized, there is no reason to put our trust in God. They don’t understand the need to have real, direct answers to very serious questions. They don’t understand the need for reasonable certainty that drives so many of us away from the faith. For most Christians, the Bible and that nice little feeling they experience when the pray or sing songs of praise is enough. Evidence to them would be a nice little bow on top of their blind faith.

7. They don’t seem to appreciate a logical argument.
Many times I’ve seen a logically fallacy or irrational argument pointed out to a Christian, but they are in no hurry to amend their points to bring them into alignment with the criteria for a well-reasoned defense. They are satisfied with circular reasoning, “The Bible was written by God because the Bible says it is written by God,” along with non-critical pleas to emotion, “Read the Bible and the Holy Spirit will illuminate the truth if you listen to your heart,” as well as a blatant denial of truth, “There is no good evidence for evolution.”

8. They are arrogant regarding former Christians.
Along with the belief that they have all of the answers, they also act like they know our real hearts, and know exactly why we de-converted. We usually fall into two camps: those who were never really Christians to begin with, and those who want to be their own gods, who love to sin, who selfishly place themselves “upon the throne.” They come to the blog with a set of preconceived notions regarding apostates, and they cling to them passionately, even in the face of contrary evidence. Nothing is more infuriating than having someone assert that they know more about you than you do.

I came to this blog with an open mind. I wasn’t a hardened atheist set in my ways or confident in my position. I was open to the possibility of being re-converted by a strong, rational argument for God, but the longer I converse with Christians the more certain I am of my atheism, and the more I see the Christian faith as hollow, blind, self-fulfilling, and frankly, silly.

I know that the typical Christian commentor comes here because they think they can change some of our minds, or “help” those who are losing their faith, but I think more often than not they do the opposite with their horrible arguments, their inability to look at the world without using the blinders of the Bible, and their inability to understand the reasons for de-conversion. So thanks, Christian commentors, for being so narrow-minded, condescending, presupposing, self-righteous, and irrational. You’ve helped solidify my atheism.

(This criticism certainly doesn’t apply to all of the Christian commentors, but it does sum up the general Holier-Than-Thou attitude of the average proselytizer.)

- orDover

Entry filed under: orDover. Tags: , , , , .

I’m not sure I want to be called an atheist anymore The Flight of Peter Fromm

395 Comments Add your own

  • 1. john t.  |  September 24, 2008 at 3:57 pm

    OrDover

    Well written article.

  • 2. writerdd  |  September 24, 2008 at 4:26 pm

    Oh my!

  • 3. Innen Zen  |  September 24, 2008 at 4:48 pm

    This article is very well written, and I can sympathize and agree with it’s content.

    I was raised a Christian, and my family was very devout. I was taught to read the Bible, and study it every day. I’ve read and studied, many times verse by verse, much of the Bible. However, when I reached the age of 12 or 13, I started looking at different religions, books, etc. at the library. When I was “caught” reading books on philosophy, or other religions, I was punished, and told to never look around at other religions, because I had all I needed. And to look at other philosophies, or religious books showed a “lack of faith”. I thought about this for a long time, and was eventually disgusted with this reasoning.

    When i started to ask questions, I was hit with the same arguments you describe in your article. Circular reasoning, emotional thinking, and apologetics and 3rd or 4th party “faith building stories”. The more I asked questions, the more I was disliked, and the more disgusted I was.

    I, like you, have no problem stating I don’t have all the answers. I don’t have all the explanations, reasons, or answers to many of life’s questions. But Christians like to take a high horse and sneer at those that don’t believe as they do, when their “faith” is blind at best.

    Many join a religion as a sort of social club, a way to meet other people and feel like they are a part of something. Others are in religion because that’s how they were raised, and they were also raised not to ask questions or question things taught.

    To me, if something has evidence and backing, there should never be a problem showing such evidence.

    Excellent article, once again.

  • 4. Brad Feaker  |  September 24, 2008 at 5:15 pm

    orDover,

    They come to the blog with a set of preconceived notions regarding apostates, and they cling to them passionately, even in the face of contrary evidence. Nothing is more infuriating than having someone assert that they know more about you than you do.

    Talk about hitting the nail on the head!! – excellent post. I was somewhat bashed on another thread for sharing a very strong statement of my ‘belief’ in science and rationalism – accused of being ‘self righteous’. Another commentator rebutted that for me fortunately – the ‘pot calling the kettle black’ was the term I believe. And it is amazing – the psychic ability they have to know my every thought and belief (tongue in cheek off) :-)

  • 5. Digital Dame  |  September 24, 2008 at 5:30 pm

    I think part of the reason they so doggedly try to bring de-cons “back into the fold” is it terrifies them that someone could come to a different conclusion, that perhaps there is something that THEY missed, and when they realize it, their world will crumble. They HAVE to convince de-cons that they are wrong, in order to be right themselves. And that seems to be what they want most desperately: to be right, regardless of any and all evidence to the contrary.

  • 6. writerdd  |  September 24, 2008 at 5:57 pm

    Or perhaps some really do think we’re going to hell and they are just doing what they can to try to save us from that horrible fate.

  • 7. Cooper  |  September 24, 2008 at 6:41 pm

    Theoretically, we could seek God all of our lives and never really find what we’re looking for, despite the fact that scripture promises that those who earnestly search for God will have no trouble finding him.

    “And you will be found of me when you search for me with all of your heart” (Jer. 29:11)

    orDover—-

    I appreciate your 6 points—they sound a lot like what the Pharisees and others said about Jesus. I am sure they found him to be completely arrogant saying he alone was the way the truth and the life.

    Nothing is more infuriating than having someone assert that they know more about you than you do.

    That is why it is very hard for some people to read the Bible, because God says he knows you far better than you know yourself.

    Of course most Christians are going to say the same things and not “bring anything new to the table”—are they supposed to re-write the Gospel and make a different argument? And of course they are not going to appear very humble. When you say you KNOW the truth it sounds self-righteous—of course it will. That’s why Jesus, John the Apostle and others aren’t very “christ-like” :) when they say such things as “We right these things so you may KNOW you HAVE eternal life”. That’s a pretty darn arrogant thing to say.

    And of course they are going to appear arrogant to you regarding former Christians. The word “former” brings a lot of incredulity to the mind of a believer. How can someone be a “former” believer? Every Christian who stumbles upon the blog is going to ask the same thing: “How can someone be a “former” christian?” And they will come to a couple of conclusions—-that the person never believed, or the person is severely backslidden to the point of complete blindness. It is only natural for a christian to think that. Before you were a de-convert someone else most likely would have put your (6) labels on you. Though I understand where you are coming from, perhaps remembering a little of where you came from might help when dealing with Christians.

  • 8. orDover  |  September 24, 2008 at 6:41 pm

    For the record, I do think that they have good intentions. Unfortunately good intentions doesn’t equate to a good argument!

  • 9. orDover  |  September 24, 2008 at 6:48 pm

    Though I understand where you are coming from, perhaps remembering a little of where you came from might help when dealing with Christians.

    When I was a Christian, Cooper, I was nothing like you. I never said that I had the 100% absolute truth. I left a margin of error in my beliefs. I also listened to the opinions of others and recognized the fact that I came to certain situations with bias and incorrect preconceptions. And for the record, I did a lot of conversing with non-believers, many who challenged my faith directly. Despite the fact that I did not present rational arguments (I was a big fan of circular logic), I also NEVER told someone that they are going to hell, or that Jesus just really loved and wanted them to love him back. I didn’t try to proselytizes to the unbelievers I conversed with. I realized that was not a good way to get through to them. I realized they were familiar with the “good news” already, and the best thing I could do was be a good example of a follower of Christ by being courteous, respectful, humble, and understanding.

  • 10. Cooper  |  September 24, 2008 at 6:51 pm

    Talk about hitting the nail on the head!! – excellent post. I was somewhat bashed on another thread for sharing a very strong statement of my ‘belief’ in science and rationalism – accused of being ’self righteous’.

    Yes—it was on the “I’m not sure I want to be called an atheist any more” thread. I believe it was titled “What I believe” with a subtitle “I don’t believe in God any more, and look what a great guy I am as a result” if I’m not mistaken. The writer had an extreme flair for comedy. Very gifted comedian.

  • 11. john t.  |  September 24, 2008 at 6:52 pm

    orDover
    “I also NEVER told someone that they are going to hell”

    In all fairness I dont think Ive heard Cooper make this statement. Now as far as the rest, well…………………

  • 12. orDover  |  September 24, 2008 at 6:59 pm

    In all fairness I dont think Ive heard Cooper make this statement. Now as far as the rest, well…………………

    That may be true, but it is very much implied through his general attitude, even of those exact words, “you’re going to hell,” weren’t used.

  • 13. orDover  |  September 24, 2008 at 6:59 pm

    of=if :/

  • 14. SnugglyBuffalo  |  September 24, 2008 at 7:00 pm

    Cooper-

    And of course they are going to appear arrogant to you regarding former Christians. The word “former” brings a lot of incredulity to the mind of a believer. How can someone be a “former” believer? Every Christian who stumbles upon the blog is going to ask the same thing: “How can someone be a “former” christian?” And they will come to a couple of conclusions—-that the person never believed, or the person is severely backslidden to the point of complete blindness. It is only natural for a christian to think that.

    I think you’re missing one key statement orDover made regarding this issue:

    . . .and they cling to them passionately, even in the face of contrary evidence.

    It’s not so much that they make these incorrect assumptions; it’s that they hold to these assumptions even when it is explained how wrong they are.

  • 15. SnugglyBuffalo  |  September 24, 2008 at 7:04 pm

    That may be true, but it is very much implied through his general attitude, even of those exact words, “you’re going to hell,” weren’t used.

    OK, I might get as frustrated as anyone with Cooper, and I agree that his attitude isn’t always the best, but I think you’re getting dangerously subjective at this point.

  • 16. Cooper  |  September 24, 2008 at 7:12 pm

    I didn’t try to proselytizes to the unbelievers I conversed with. I realized that was not a good way to get through to them. I realized they were familiar with the “good news” already, and the best thing I could do was be a good example of a follower of Christ by being courteous, respectful, humble, and understanding.

    It’s great to be courteous, respectful, humble and understanding—no argument there. But many unbelievers have not heard the good news already as you say. That’s why Paul said to “do the work of an evangelist” and “how shall they hear without preaching? (paraphrase).

    Snuggly said:

    It’s not so much that they make these incorrect assumptions; it’s that they hold to these assumptions even when it is explained how wrong they are.

    Who has ever explained to me that the “assumptions” I hold are “wrong”? They have tried to say Jesus never existed, or theore is no proof he raised from the dead, etc. etc.—-but no one has ever “proved” anything here at all. I haven’t “proved” that he did exist, or raised from the dead, etc. etc. either. I believe it goes both ways here—-there are many “assumptions” held on both sides. And when it comes to “assumptions” concerning deconversion, I still have many doubts, as the case for needing to deconvert has never been fully proved to me ever.

  • 17. Cooper  |  September 24, 2008 at 7:18 pm

    Snuggly—

    By the way—-I mean my comments respectfully. What I mean is that deconversion may be “explained” by many here—and why it happened, etc. But the proof that it was “necessary” is lacking to me—did it really need to go that far? That’s what I am trying to say actually. I still have not completely understood why one person deconverts, while another filled with the same doubts, unanswered prayers, discouragement, etc. continues to believe the rest of their lives. I TRULY do not understand this—and the explanations given have not enlightened me any further on the subject.

  • 18. Cooper  |  September 24, 2008 at 7:22 pm

    That may be true, but it is very much implied through his general attitude, even of those exact words, “you’re going to hell,” weren’t used.

    “Your honor, I agree, the defendant never attempted to murder my client, but his general attitude seemed to point in that direction. I’d like to ask for the maxiimum penalty of life in prison without parole”.

  • 19. Jenkins  |  September 24, 2008 at 7:31 pm

    I have to agree with what Cooper said at the end of 16. I’m a Christian, but I don’t care too much for apologetics, it never really gets anywhere. Sure, I can offer answers to certain questions, but no one is ever going to be able to answer the “biggies” in a way that seals the deal on God’s existence, Christ’s resurrection, etc. It’s just not going to happen. All it accomplishes is pissing everyone else off. I’m content telling people what I believe and why, but as for trying to argue anyone into believing, it ain’t gonna happen.

  • 20. Digital Dame  |  September 24, 2008 at 7:32 pm

    writerdd said:
    Or perhaps some really do think we’re going to hell and they are just doing what they can to try to save us from that horrible fate.

    Yeah, that’s not so much the impression I’m getting from most of these threads. Not specifically this one, but in general, that doesn’t seem to be the angle of their arguments.

  • 21. SnugglyBuffalo  |  September 24, 2008 at 8:55 pm

    I can appreciate that you don’t understand why someone would de-convert, Cooper. I have no issue with that.

    My problem is basically when someone tells me that I was never a real Christian, or that I’ve apostatized because I don’t want God in my life. These assumptions are patently false, and if someone is going to hold to them anyway, there’s no reason for us to even discuss the issue.

  • 22. orDover  |  September 24, 2008 at 8:55 pm

    It’s great to be courteous, respectful, humble and understanding—no argument there. But many unbelievers have not heard the good news already as you say. That’s why Paul said to “do the work of an evangelist” and “how shall they hear without preaching? (paraphrase).

    Know thy audience. It’s no good presenting the gospel to people you are SURE have already heard it and understand it. It’s even less worth the effort to re-present the gospel so someone who has been there and back again, studied it in depth, and then rejected it.

    Who has ever explained to me that the “assumptions” I hold are “wrong”?

    We have explained, many times over, why your assumptions about apostates are wrong. In short, they aren’t good enough for you. You are so sure that you are right, that you know the truth, that you can’t make sense of our reasons. You’ve heard us say over and over again that we were REAL Christians, but our word and our experience aren’t good enough, because you feel like you understand something which we do not, like you have a privileged position over us. How many times does it take a person saying, with all honestly, “I was a real Christian, I loved Jesus, I disdained sin, but I didn’t find the arguments for a Christian god convincing enough” before you’ll give up your assumptions that we’re not real Christians or that we want to be our own gods?

    Yeah, we can’t prove that we were ever real Christians, just as you can’t prove that you are currently a real Christian. We just have to take each other’s word for it. That is what you refuse to do. Yet I take your word and respond to you as if you are sincere. I wonder how you would react if I turned the tables?

    They have tried to say Jesus never existed, or theore is no proof he raised from the dead, etc. etc.—-but no one has ever “proved” anything here at all. I haven’t “proved” that he did exist, or raised from the dead, etc. etc. either. I believe it goes both ways here—-there are many “assumptions” held on both sides. And when it comes to “assumptions” concerning deconversion, I still have many doubts, as the case for needing to deconvert has never been fully proved to me ever.

    The case for needing to de-convert can never be “proven” to you, or explained so that you fully comprehend it. There will always be an element that escapes you, because you haven’t lived this. You haven’t experienced this. I’ve said it before, but it’s like a bird trying to telling a fish what it’s to fly. The fish will never get it because it doesn’t know what it’s like to live out of the water. But the fish can at least look at the bird and understand that some people are different beings with different experience that are every bit as valid as their own. I don’t expect you to comprehend what we say in an in-depth way, but I do expect you to accept the value of my words and experiences. When I say I was a real Christian I expect you to believe me, even if you can’t comprehend how a real Christian could ever de-convert. That’s how one carries on conversation. You concede a point here and there.

  • 23. john t.  |  September 24, 2008 at 9:19 pm

    Know thy audience. It’s no good presenting the gospel to people you are SURE have already heard it and understand it. It’s even less worth the effort to re-present the gospel so someone who has been there and back again, studied it in depth, and then rejected it. (orDover)

    You gotta admit, he is a Trooper ;)

  • 24. Carolina Maine  |  September 24, 2008 at 9:35 pm

    I think you should stop looking for lay people to give you novel ideas about Christianity. Try reading some Catholic Church father articles. Or better yet-try philosophy and theological treatises.

    Also, Christianity is an old faith and doctrine. Novel ideas aren’t generally welcome-perhaps it has to do with sacred scripture and sacred tradition?

    Perhaps this post had merit, but considering you were seeking serious answers from lay people–I wasn’t impressed.

  • 25. orDover  |  September 24, 2008 at 9:41 pm

    Perhaps this post had merit, but considering you were seeking serious answers from lay people–I wasn’t impressed.

    For what it’s worth, this blog, and the internet in general was not the first place I went. I turned first to Christian church leaders, Bible teachers, and books by theists like C.S. Lewis. They didn’t help either, for the exact same reasons.

  • 26. orDover  |  September 24, 2008 at 9:45 pm

    Also, Christianity is an old faith and doctrine. Novel ideas aren’t generally welcome-perhaps it has to do with sacred scripture and sacred tradition?

    I should probably take the time to clarify that I don’t mean “new” ideas in the sense that they’re new to Christianity completely, but just ones that I hadn’t already heard and decided weren’t good enough.

  • 27. joelnafziger  |  September 24, 2008 at 9:59 pm

    By the title of this post, I’m assuming that you don’t believe in any God, or creator, or intelligent designer. I’m also assuming then, since you’ve heard most or all of the arguments that Christians have given about why God exists, that you’ve heard all of the math behind the complexity of the universe, human body, etc., and how mathematically it’s impossible that we weren’t created by someone or something, and you have chosen to disregard the mathematical scientific proof for a creator.

    I wish I could give you a concrete reason why God exists, but I can’t. And that is faith. If God gave us a magic formula pointing to his existence, or a giant sign in the sky that says He is up there, would you change your viewpoint? There will always be skeptics, but the fact that you are still looking intrigues me. Why are you still looking? Just give up. Or is there something inside you that yearns for it to be true? Or feels as though God is real, but you just need that little AHA moment, it MUST be true argument, or sign. It sounds like you don’t want to have faith, but concrete proof. I’m afraid that you won’t ever find it. That’s why, once again, it’s called faith.

    For me, God is an emotional experience. I sit on my patio at night looking at the stars. I can’t live thinking it’s random, or that I am evolved from a single celled organism with a tiny string of DNA, and that magically that DNA had information added to it (I know, I know, another spurious Christian argument against evolution), and all of a sudden, BAM, here I am, a complex mammal with feelings, a beating heart, and a nervous system so complex I can feel a breeze on my skin, and hear a mosquito ten feet away. It’s a spiritual experience, and I LOVE it. What a feeling of acceptance and importance…that someone cared enough to create me, and knows me, and loves me. I love science, but sometimes, I think it is a cop out. If science doesn’t say it’s true, it’s not.

    And yet, we still search. The “God” particle. The force that holds it all together. Keep looking! You’ll find what you’re looking for someday.

  • 28. Sequitur  |  September 24, 2008 at 10:10 pm

    I’m also assuming then, since you’ve heard most or all of the arguments that Christians have given about why God exists, that you’ve heard all of the math behind the complexity of the universe, human body, etc., and how mathematically it’s impossible that we weren’t created by someone or something,

    Lay it on me.

  • 29. orDover  |  September 24, 2008 at 10:13 pm

    joelnafziger,

    Your entire argument is the logical fallacy of personal incredulity coupled with a giant non-sequitur and a plea for emotional thinking. See points 6 and 7.

  • 30. Me  |  September 24, 2008 at 10:21 pm

    This article actually pointed out a lot of the problems I had when I first came to atheism. I was never christian, or catholic, or religious, but I was strongly agnostic (if that’s even possible).

    I got into the whole atheist blog network by getting into the evolution/creationism “debates” on various forums (I’m a strong supporter of evolution).

    I was scared, in a way. I was scared that I was getting into these “big leagues” with people who have had far more experience in these debates than I have, and that my agnostic beliefs would change and I would become religious. I was not scared of becoming religious, I was scared of being proven wrong, that my years of agnosticism had been foolish.

    But it never happened. I was educated more and more in rational arguments and critical thinking. One of the arguments that hit me hardest (since it struck the very core of my agnosticism) was the relatively simple and, to me now, extremely obvious point that because something is *possible* does not make it *probable*, or even likely. Related to this is that just because something can’t be disproven does not mean it is even remotely possible, and these two combine with various other points that I can’t be bothered trying to write down now because it’s 3:15am and I’m tired.

    Anyway, the point here is that these apply to many religious arguments. “You can’t disprove god” is an extremely common argument, and on the surface, it’s true. But there’s also no reason to believe a god exists, either. Because something can’t be proven to not exist does not mean that it does exist. And every other piece of evidence I’ve come across points to there being no god.

    This is the argument that I formed in my head. It seemed solid to me, and can be simplified easily.
    And I was scared *because* it was so simple, surely in the hundreds of years that various religions have been facing criticism, this point has been adressed in a logical way that just crushed it.

    But… no. It hasn’t. *All* arguments for god I’ve ever come across have been ridiculously simple, almost childlike. It boils down to “You can’t prove god doesn’t exist”. All of the other arguments are based on the presumption that god does exist (such as the “the bible says this and it’s written by god so obviously it’s true” argument that is so popular), which is a fallacy.

    But this is a point that many religious folks just *don’t seem to get*. Many critics of Richard Dawkins, for example, claim that his arguments against religion aren’t valid because he doesn’t take into account the various advanced theological arguments that have been put forward. But these people don’t realise that these theological arguments are all based on the original, false, premise that god exists.

    It’s honestly quite scary that many people can’t even see where atheists are coming from in these situations. Perhaps the scariest argument I’ve heard is that atheists do believe in god, we just hate god. Which is silly.

  • 31. silentj  |  September 24, 2008 at 10:26 pm

    Joel,

    From your post, it seems the only reason you believe is that you can’t cope with the fact that you are here with no purpose, that you’re not a special creation. Bugs can feel breezes and sense other bugs, yet, would you deliberate much over swatting a gnat?

    I know it’s hard to wrap our heads around billions of years of existence and evolution. However, just because it’s not the sexiest idea doesn’t mean it’s not how we got here.

    As for the mathematical probability, I’m not sure what you’re talking about. Virtually the whole of physics is mathematics, and it constructs a world of relatively and quantum mechanics, with an origin in the big bang and possibly string theory. If the experiments at the LHC go as planned, the Big Bang theory will basically be proven without a shadow of doubt. I’m not sure how these formulas arrive at the position that there must be a creator.

  • 32. joelnafziger  |  September 24, 2008 at 10:29 pm

    I wish I could give you one math equation that hasn’t already been argued against, but I can’t. Everything I’ve seen already has a counter argument. As it should. We just need to decide which is right. Both sides can’t be correct. Either God exists, or He doesn’t. Simple. One article I read about probability theory is: http://www.csicop.org/intelligentdesignwatch/probability-one.html

    What I like about this article, is that even though it tries to say that the probability isn’t as great as one may think (and that intelligent design isn’t a slam dunk), what it doesn’t take into consideration is that yes, perhaps the probability of one part of the body evolving isn’t mathematically impossible, but the fact remains that hundreds of these parts had to evolve at once, or in the exact sequence that the body wouldn’t fail. Then you throw male/female into the mix, proximity to one another, the ability to breed, and your probability DOES become much more complex.

    Then again, I’m not a mathematician, so what do I know. I just look at the observable world and come to my own conclusion. It’s just too dang complicated. One little thing goes wrong and the house of cards comes crumbling down. Plus, how does a small string of DNA become more and more complex? I think Christians call it information gain. Don’t mutations cause information loss in a DNA strand? I guess that’s more of a science thing than math… I digress.

  • 33. silentj  |  September 24, 2008 at 10:33 pm

    Me,

    I think you’re dead on for wondering how the argument against a god could be so simple, yet so many people refute it. It seems strange to me that with all that we’ve learned over the past century, that people still believe in a short earth and an anthropomorphic sky god.

    That being said, faith isn’t simply an option one chooses. Faith is a cultural construct that lays the foundations for many people’s world views. So, as the argument against gods becomes sharper, the need to defend these gods becomes greater, which is why we have such pretentious, pseudo-scientific arguments presenting a case for god.

    Sometimes I wonder if the people who construct these science based arguments for god really believe them, or if they just hang on to them the way a criminal hangs on to the few bits of truth that may prove his innocence.

  • 34. joelnafziger  |  September 24, 2008 at 10:35 pm

    SilentJ,
    That’s not the only reason I believe in God, just one big one.
    I have had to decide what I believe about evil in the world, and why there is right and wrong (I believe there is), and how we came to know right from wrong, and not obliterate ourselves with our greed, evil desires, and the like.

    I believe we were created with a conscience and a brain that is capable of so much, and that we were created to please our creator. I can’t give anyone concrete proof. I don’t need to for my faith, I just believe. I know that’s frustrating for many people. I’m a guy, I’m logical. I hate irrational reasoning, but in the case of my faith, I’m comfortable being called irrational. I believe there is a God, I feel strongly enough about it that I don’t have any doubt. It’s funny, I always try to keep my wife from thinking emotionally, but when it comes to faith, it boils down to emotion, feeling, and spiritual stuff that doesn’t make sense in our natural world. I didn’t take philosophy in college, but man, I wish I would have. It would make explaining this kind of stuff easier.

  • 35. joelnafziger  |  September 24, 2008 at 10:36 pm

    Oh yeah, and I hate gnats. I kill them every chance I get. Good thing I’ve never had one talk to me, or explain to me that they are sentient. That would change my feelings for them.

  • 36. Ubi Dubium  |  September 24, 2008 at 10:37 pm

    Me

    Many critics of Richard Dawkins, for example, claim that his arguments against religion aren’t valid because he doesn’t take into account the various advanced theological arguments that have been put forward. But these people don’t realise that these theological arguments are all based on the original, false, premise that god exists.

    PZ Myers has given us a wonderful name for this type of fallacious argument from the theologians. He calls it the “Courtier’s Reply”. This is based upon the image of a courtier arguing that we cannot possibly understand the Emperor’s clothes unless we have investigated the fineness of the Emperor’s hat, that we can never comprehend the years of scholarship on the leather of his boots, or the many schools of thought on “satin vs. velvet”, and so on. But, when our position is “The Emperor has no clothes”, why would we possibly need to spend any time studying the qualities of imaginary garments?

  • 37. Me  |  September 24, 2008 at 10:41 pm

    silentj

    I’m aware that my entire post is rather rambling and that it simplifies everything dramatically, but as I said, I’m quite tired (insomnia sucks *so much*) so I just streamlined it to get my point across.

    Joel:

    “….but the fact remains that hundreds of these parts had to evolve at once…”

    No. They don’t. Evolutionary theory says nothing of the sort.

    “Don’t mutations cause information loss in a DNA strand?”

    They can, but also, they don’t have to. As an example (again, amazingly simplified because I’m extremely tired), a strand of DNA can have a segment of it “inverted”. Same sequence, just backwards. This can drastically change what the gene does etc etc… without “removing” any “information” from it at all. And “information loss” from DNA does not necessarily mean that there is “less” complexity available.

    I don’t know how much you have read up on evolution, but I would advise you to read more. Evolution is extremely annoying to learn, because on the face of it, it’s extremely simple (natural selection, for example, is an extremely simple concept to learn), but it’s also amazingly complex (things such as gene mutation), and how, for example, a bird can “evolve a wing” when “half a wing is useless” can seem to be large problems until you understand it better.

  • 38. joelnafziger  |  September 24, 2008 at 10:50 pm

    My complete statement was “but the fact remains that hundreds of these parts had to evolve at once, or in the exact sequence that the body wouldn’t fail.” Even if evolution doesn’t say the first part, how does it explain the 2nd?

    I’m a business man, not a scientist, so it’s not easy for me to grasp the complexities of the explanations explaining the “large problems” I see in evolution. Most of what I read was in college…

  • 39. silentj  |  September 24, 2008 at 10:50 pm

    M,

    I was basically agreeing with you. I think you made more sense in your previous post than you think! ;)

    Joel,

    To piggy back on what M said about natural selection, many bad combinations can be made. All the right pieces don’t have to evolve perfectly at the same time. An organism might have one aspect develop that gives it an advantage, and it continues to produce. Another new group has a new advantage, and they spread those new traits. Meanwhile, the many different offspring will less useful traits die off, not passing down their traits. As your posted article points out, the sequences passed on aren’t totally random, but small variations– some better, some worse– of the previous sequence. The variations that offer less advantage typically are passed on less than the variations that offer more advantage.

    If you run this process over billions of years, it doesn’t seem so improbable.

  • 40. silentj  |  September 24, 2008 at 10:55 pm

    By the way, Joel, I didn’t mean to say that you didn’t have other reasons for believing; I’m sure it’s a strong point of faith. However, a common form of rhetoric for supporting the idea of faith is to offer sentimental or romantic lines about nature, concluding with the idea that all the beauty in the world must be the work of a creator. Such readings of nature conveniently overlook the violence and horror that often occurs in nature.

  • 41. Me  |  September 24, 2008 at 11:01 pm

    “My complete statement was “but the fact remains that hundreds of these parts had to evolve at once, or in the exact sequence that the body wouldn’t fail.” Even if evolution doesn’t say the first part, how does it explain the 2nd?”

    You seem to be falling into the trap of thinking that things evolve one at a time, as in an organism evolves an arms, then starts evolving legs, and so on… but that’s simply not what happens.

    Let’s take herbivores as an example. Herbivores have specific teeth and stomach arrangements that let them live entirely off grass, leaves etc… But they don’t evolve the herbivore teeth (flat, grinding teeth) first, and then evolve the stomach after that.
    It happens at the same time. As the teeth gradually change to become more adapted to a herbivore’s diet, so does the stomach at the same time.

    Take that concept and expand it to the whole body. As I said, evolution is both extremely simple and extremely complex.

  • 42. Me  |  September 24, 2008 at 11:05 pm

    Sorry, that last sentence should’ve been more along the lines of:

    Take that concept and apply it to the whole body. Then apply that to the entire species, and throw in a few hundred million years.

  • 43. gm  |  September 24, 2008 at 11:15 pm

    Great points. For most of my adult life I have considered myself to be a Christian. I no longer welcome that description. Aside from the fact that American evangelical Christianity worships about 20 different gods, I have a very difficult time trusting a deity who scripture portrays as emotionally unstable. One day He dispenses grace, another day genocide. And the idea that God intentionally created the vast majority of the human race for the express purpose of destruction seems just wrong. That is, unless you consider yourself to be one of those who was predestined to be of the “elect” (fanfare please).

    Arrogance, insensitivity, and an allergic reaction to thinking, let alone logic, are part and parcel of the fundamentalist and evangelical teachings. (envision a picture of Sarah Palin here.)

    And yet, I find that I still desperately long for a loving God, an approach to scripture without the inerrancy blinders, and a Church of authentic, sensitive, caring human beings. And a money tree would be nice too.

  • 44. joelnafziger  |  September 24, 2008 at 11:31 pm

    Too many christians have created the church to be their personal money tree, ie televangelists, and have turned many people away due to their hypocrisy and false representation of god as a Santa claus. It bugs me.

    Thanks for the simplifications. They make sense. However, I still don’t understand why and how humans have thought, a conscience (moral compass), and such a drive to have a purpose. Why aren’t we all lazy slobs. And please don’t say it’s just instinct. It’s more than that. Our creativity and knowledge is astounding. I have yet to hear an explanation on how that evolved. Please let me know how that happened. You all know my position. For those that used to believe in the bible, I can’t get the passage in Romans 1 out of my head, that man is without excuse because god has shown his eternal power and divine nature through his creation. And creation is being explained away as a giant accident, starting from the big bang of matter created by…what? Who?

  • 45. orDover  |  September 24, 2008 at 11:39 pm

    Joel,
    My complete statement was “but the fact remains that hundreds of these parts had to evolve at once, or in the exact sequence that the body wouldn’t fail.” Even if evolution doesn’t say the first part, how does it explain the 2nd?”

    To piggy-back off of Me’s comment #41, along with the fact that things don’t evolve one and a time, they also have the advantage of having billions of years to work out the kinks. And yeah, there were (and are) a lot of kinks. There are parts that don’t evolve right, or mutate in a harmful way that DO cause the body to fail. Our bodies actually kind of suck. For example, because humans evolved to walk upright so recently our pelvises aren’t suited for optimal mammalian childbirth which results in high mortality rates during the birthing process, and our spines aren’t perfectly adept to carry all of our weight which results in problems like chronic lower back pain. But my main point is that we are operating here on the time scale of billions of years, which provides ample time for trial and error, and for the pressures of natural selection to suss out something that works, even though it doesn’t work perfectly.

  • 46. silentj  |  September 24, 2008 at 11:47 pm

    Joel,

    The “what before the Big Bang?’ question is definitely a good one. However, we can’t simply conclude that before the big bang there was a creator who was dancing or juggling or whatever for eternity before he created the universe. We simply don’t know what happened before the Big Bang. However, there are theories like string theory that attempt to explain what COULD have been before the Big Bang, theories that based on observable reality. (Though, with some pretty bizarre takes on this observable reality.)

    As for creativity, morality, and conscience, those could have evolved just as easily as appendages. We don’t have many advantages over most animals other than our intelligence and ability to manipulate tools. Had we not developed the brain, the human species very easily might not exist today. However, some time millions of years ago, a variation that allowed our ancestors to outsmart superior physical creatures allowed us to survive. The smarter humans were, the more likely they were to continue passing on genes.

    As for morality, following the Golden Rule would have immense competitive advantage. If you’re living in a group, you’re much more likely to live safely if you’re treating other people well. The humans who lived peacefully were more likely to pass on traits than ones who were constantly trying to fight. So, humans would become both smarter and more moral. As language abilities evolve, we begin to be able to name that morality and start passing down advantageous qualities through story, reinforcing the psychological traits that were advantageous.

    As for the lazy slobs idea, I’m not sure why you would think that. Lazy slobs would have virtually no advantage over hard working beings. They would die off and the hard working beings would survive.

    Of course, all of these ideas aren’t as essential now, because we have a variety of jobs and an abundance of food and medical supplies, allowing any kind of human to grow up, mate, and pass on traits.

  • 47. orDover  |  September 24, 2008 at 11:49 pm

    Joel,
    I still don’t understand why and how humans have thought, a conscience (moral compass), and such a drive to have a purpose. Why aren’t we all lazy slobs. And please don’t say it’s just instinct. It’s more than that. Our creativity and knowledge is astounding. I have yet to hear an explanation on how that evolved.

    Again, this is an argument from personal incredulity. Just because you don’t understand it or you don’t get it doesn’t mean it isn’t possible or didn’t happen.

    You’ve already explained that you won’t accept a natural explanation, such as instinct, so what room have you left for me to give you a real answer? I don’t know. Not much. And unfortunately the naturalistic answers aren’t romantic or lovely or necessarily awe-inspiring. It basically boils down to this: it’s a side effect of our large brains. I know that doesn’t seem like “enough” to account for the miracle that you consider human life to be, but when the entire evolution of the brain, and of the developments of humanity and culture, it really is a lovely and elegant picture. Unfortunately I can’t sum it up in a few lines of comments on a blog post. If it is something you are really interested in you are going to have to dig deeper and check out a few books.

  • 48. orDover  |  September 24, 2008 at 11:51 pm

    Unfortunately I can’t sum it up in a few lines of comments on a blog post.

    But silentj has done a pretty good job of it in #46!

  • 49. Me  |  September 24, 2008 at 11:52 pm

    Joel

    Intelligence and creativity are just another evolutionary adaption. It’s as simple as that. Humans are not the most physically able creatures on the planet. We would not, without our intelligence, be able to hunt down animals for food, or drive off wild animal attacks, for example.

    The same can be said for society. A single human, even with great intelligence and some tools, is fairly useless in the wild. So we band together, we keep close, we enjoy each others company and we do not (for the most part) enjoy being alone for extended periods of time.

    “Morality” is a human construct. Morales change quite drastically across the board. Some members of PETA, for example, think it’s perfectly moral and justifiable to sink a whaling vessel and kill all the sailors on board, in order to defend the whales. Some people think eating meat is immoral. Some people think sex before marriage is immoral.

    There are some basic “morals” that seem consistent, however. Most people view murder (as in, the unprovoked killing of another individual), theft, assault etc… as “wrong”. But this also makes sense from an evolutionary perspective. I’ve already explained how important society is to humans, so what would happen if murder was rampant? If theft was rampant?

    Society would break down, people would mistrust each other, things simply wouldn’t function. So natural selection would’ve selected against wanton slaughter; i.e. all of the individuals who kill whenever it’s convenient are likely to be killed themselves by other, relatively peaceful, humans.

    One thing has to be kept in mind about evolution: It is not perfect. Evolution has no “goal”, “aim” or “drive”. There’s no ultimate purpose behind evolution, it’s simply a thing that happens.
    So the results of evolution don’t have to be “perfect”; it simply has to “work”. We work. We can survive long enough to reproduce a few times, so it’s all fine. But the brain is an immensely complex organ, and there are many things that can go wrong with it, and it doesn’t even have to be a genetic problem. A string of terrible luck, bad parenting, poor education etc… can all result in a warped mind.

    Richard Dawkins has described religion as a “side effect” of intelligence and other evolutionary traits of humans; he compares it to the way that a moth will fly into a flame and die. Usually their method of travel (they travel by sensing various light levels, I think) is a benefit. But when met with novel situations (a candle, light bulb, etc…) it works against them.

    This is similar to humans problem with intelligence. When our lives consist of nothing but survival, intelligence is an asset. It works consistently in our favour; hunting tactics, farming methods etc…
    But when we’re civilised, we have much leisure time. We essentially have too much time to think.
    We are the only (to our knowledge) species on the planet that *knows* we are going to die, and yet we have the intelligence to ponder that. All animals will attempt to avoid death (barring a few circumstances), but they don’t have the intelligence to understand the fact that they *will* die eventually.

    We do. But we also have the strong fear of death that all living creatures have. There’s a psychological theory called “Terror Management Theory” (awesome name, right?) that explains this far better than I can. I’m sure it’s on wikipedia.

  • 50. Wayne Park  |  September 25, 2008 at 12:52 am

    “I wanted them to succeed in convincing me. I read the responses searching for a glimmer of truth”
    or perhaps a glimmer of hope? Not to be cute but that would seem to be an argument for theism in itself, the desire for God to exist. Of course that would get into the philosophical discussion of wishing something into existence and the ensuing epistemological discussion. But indeed, the fact that the heart yearns – is that not a sign? Nietzsche was a brilliant deconstructionist – but it killed him. That’s a frightening end to athiesm. The reaching out for hope – and life – is the reaching after God. There is no other rational explanation for it, in my humble estimation. The frightening nihilism of existentialist thought should actually drive people to the warm fire of religion, in a funny way.

    “looking for some defense that would lead me back into the comfortable faith of my childhood. It didn’t take me very long to figure out that would never happen”
    I find this to be such a wistful, profound statement. I resonate with it. I don’t think the faith of youth will ever return to the way it was, if at all. Child-like faith is often a cop-out for religious folks as some sort of dumbed-down faith. Hence your disappointment.

    I’m sorry for all the sorry excuses of illogical, fundamentalistic, arrogant, brash, unintelligent answers coming from religious folk. So often we take “foolishness to the Gentiles” to be a license for unthinking, undiscriminating ignorance, which I assure you, is not the case for all. Perhaps you might find what you are looking for in some of the following authors:

    N.T. Wright
    Tim Keller
    Cornel West
    Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason)
    Friedrich Schleiermacher (On Religion: Speeches to its’ Cultured Despisers)

    I assure you, these guys have some quite compelling arguments for faith…

  • 51. Quester  |  September 25, 2008 at 1:32 am

    GM (#43)

    And yet, I find that I still desperately long for a loving God, an approach to scripture without the inerrancy blinders, and a Church of authentic, sensitive, caring human beings. And a money tree would be nice too.

    You’re not alone. I long for those, too. Following Wayne Park’s logic, that’s evidence that a money tree exists.

    Nonetheless, I was a Christian until very recently, myself. Like you, the cognitive dissonances finally blew up in my face. I’d still like to believe, but I need some reason over and above my own desires.

  • 52. Esmé Pestel  |  September 25, 2008 at 2:42 am

    so i stumbled upon your blog because it was on wordpress’ front page. i’ve never really been religious and i would say i’m no more than superficially acquainted with most parts of the bible and of theology in general and even with that (admittedly less informed) vantage point, i agree with most of your criticisms. that being said, i wanted to share with you what i thought was the most novel defense of christianity i’ve encountered. i haven’t read the totality of the comments on this site, so it might have already come up, but here goes:

    there is a christian philosopher from the analytic tradition named alvin plantinga. some of his defenses are sort of hokey, like his reformulation of the age old ontological argument which you can find here the explanation he offered for the problem of evil, though, is pretty creative and worth some thought. an explication of plantinga’s ideas (written in a way that i think is much more accessible than plantinga himself) can be found <a href=”http://www.iep.utm.edu/e/evil-log.htm#H4″here. one sentence summary: the balance of good and evil in the world is weighted towards good; god is the steward of that relationship; the existence of free will is a greater good (and indeed, the only logically possible option) than any of the evils that occur. of course, there’s still the problem of evils that don’t result from free will – like volcanoes, tsunamis etc. this stuff more than likely won’t shatter your world view, but it’s still worth a read/some reflection (if you can stomach the heavy emphasis on logic). have a good one!

  • 53. Esmé Pestel  |  September 25, 2008 at 2:43 am

    oops, looks like i screwed up the html. well, just copy and paste the links! haha

  • 54. John Marnie  |  September 25, 2008 at 6:36 am

    This article really is the bee’s knees! It sums up everything that I feel has needed to be said for a long time.

    I was brought up in a christian family and from a very young age would often think: “hang on a second, he did WHAT on water?!”

    I share your frustration in the unwillingness of others to listen when they believe they have everything figured out – incredibly infuriating!!

    Anyhow, that is a great article, very well written, keep up the good work!

  • 55. Razzler  |  September 25, 2008 at 7:07 am

    Hi. I’m a Christian and I’ve been reading this blog for months. I find it very interesting. I have never commented, for the reasons you give in your post. I don’t want to come across as arrogant like that. I don’t pretend to understand all your reasons for de-converting, neither would I want to give out trite, simplistinc answers. I have also experienced (and still do) many doubts about God.

  • 56. Joel  |  September 25, 2008 at 7:41 am

    Why can’t one conclude that something created whatever was there before the Big Bang? How can matter be created? Where did all of the atoms in the universe come from, and how are they held together? Ultimately, there still aren’t good answers to these questions, it’s still theory. Matter cannot be created or destroyed, correct? I say it can be created, but not in the physical universe we live in. Someone outside of that universe created it. I hope that CERN finds the God particle, because that will open up a whole new debate on what forces hold that particle there. Just THINK of it, it’s amazing! We are made of these tiny little atoms spinning around, in harmony with trillions of other atoms, making up molecules, making up proteins and “stuff”, and here we are. It boggles the mind, and so we try to simplify and explain it away as a big cosmic event that cannot be proven out to it’s beginning, just as you say that God cannot be proven. Will scientists figure it out? Possibly. But I know this, if I’m right, God will be proven someday to all.

    To your statement about the human body. Christians believe we were created perfect, in harmony with our creator. When we disobeyed God, because of his infinite goodness and his inability to accept sin (against his nature), we were punished, and since then, we see the results of that punishment. Our bodies, as incredible as they are, suck now. They break down relatively quickly, as compared to the ages of humans as recorded in the bible near the beginning of creation. Of course, none of this means anything if one doesn’t believe in the recorded history in the bible.

    It’s funny, I usually don’t have to think about this stuff, and lay it out there, because I don’t have many opportunities to talk about what I believe. Once I do, it’s difficult to lay it out like a research paper, so I apologize for my stream of consciousness statements. The internet is cool in that it allows for debate, but it’s frustrating because I have to type everything, rather than debate in person.

  • 57. The University Princess  |  September 25, 2008 at 8:42 am

    This is all, very true, but I tend to look on Christians as misguided persons filled with genuine concern. =)

  • 58. john t.  |  September 25, 2008 at 8:53 am

    Silentj

    In regards to your post #46. I agree with pretty much everything you say in it. At the end of it though I am still left with the question why? Is life just happening in the fashion you describe just to ensure that it continues evolving just so it can continue to evolve? No purpose other than continuation? Reminds me of when I ask my kids why their doing what their doing, and their response is, Just because.

    I know this is a De Con site for Christians, but I am curious if any out there believe in the potential of a creator/driving force, outside of the traditional approach taken by most religions?

  • 59. jordysullivan  |  September 25, 2008 at 8:58 am

    I love the argument against evolution! When all of this very hard evidence for evolution is presented and they still say “no, I don’t believe that. I believe that God created man.” and when I ask why they believe this, they say “because everything is too complex to have just been a fluke.” So in other words “my tiny brain can’t even begin to understand the science of it all, and it’s much less frustrating for me to simply say ‘God did it!'”

  • 60. jordysullivan  |  September 25, 2008 at 9:02 am

    What’s strange, and probably a bad habit, is that when I meet someone who seems very educated and intelligent, I have the tendency to assume, right off the bat, that they are atheists…
    I went to a christian school for my senior year of high school. I just couldn’t respect any of my teachers, they preached at us every day. I debated with a lot of them about evolution, abortion and gay marriage. It was fun, but frustrating to have to go back to it every day. I had less and less hope for humanity each day I went.

  • 61. ambarbee  |  September 25, 2008 at 9:02 am

    “So thanks, Christian commentors, for being so narrow-minded, condescending, presupposing, self-righteous, and irrational. You’ve helped solidify my atheism.”

    I am a Christian, and I want to thank you for calling us out. I’m sorry for the way that we have treated you. Could you forgive us?

    Amanda

  • 62. jordysullivan  |  September 25, 2008 at 9:09 am

    third comment…. keep thinking of more
    The fact is, that religion itself isn’t what I have a problem with. It’s what people use it for. The government uses it to control people. Churches use it to get people to vote for who they want to. (though I did respect one minister that I heard about who refused to let people set up republican campaign and anti-choice materials in the church.) Religion has always caused war.
    It makes my college campus uncomfortable because christians like to come stand out in front of the university center and yell at people.
    They’re Christians because they are afraid. I’m an Atheist because I’m not afraid. I think that’s what it comes down to for me.

  • 63. jordysullivan  |  September 25, 2008 at 9:17 am

    And another! I have too much to say about this!

    Christians are typically terrified of the idea of questioning their faith. People should question everything. If you question your faith and you still go back to it, doesn’t that make your faith that much stronger? The reason that people won’t question it, I believe, is that they subconciously know how silly it is, and that they probably won’t go back to it. Of course they regard all ideas outside of Christianity as the devil trying to lead you astray. Christianity, and religion in general, really is a genius idea. I think it was created by the Romans to gain control over their people.
    If there is a god though, wouldn’t he/she think more of your faith if you had thought about it and come to your own conclusion that you believe in christianity, rather than just doing it because your parents and church told you to?
    Okay, I think I’m finally done, it’s too early for this!

  • 64. BigHouse  |  September 25, 2008 at 9:26 am

    I think ascribing negative motives to Christians without basis isn’t the way to carry the mantle of atheist. I remember what it was like pre-supposing the answer (God exists and is as described in the Bible) and then thinking/feeling/arguing/debtaing from that standpoint. You can’t see the forest for the trees.

    But looking at it from their perspective, given that they believe what they do, they are COMMANDED to preach the gospel and spread the word. They’re only doing what they think is right.

    I have to remind myself of this point about motives when I start to resent my parents’ indoctrination of me as a kid. But, I take heart that I can do it differently with my kids.

    Now, I have a problem of not wanting to have my new son christened and what upheaval that will cause in my family..GULP.

  • 65. BigHouse  |  September 25, 2008 at 9:27 am

    And, Cooper, if you are out there, I apologize for my snark and condescion towards you on this blog. I still think you argue poorly and it frustrates me to no end, but you do not desrve to be treated poorly as a result. My sincerest apologies.

  • 66. Ubi Dubium  |  September 25, 2008 at 9:28 am

    Joel

    Why can’t one conclude that something created whatever was there before the Big Bang?

    Just because we don’t know something yet, why must we assume that it was a god who did it?

    How can matter be created? Where did all of the atoms in the universe come from, and how are they held together? Ultimately, there still aren’t good answers to these questions, it’s still theory.

    You are misunderstanding “theory”. Scientifically it does not mean the same thing as “hypothesis”. A theory is a set of explanations for things that has been tested and retested, and found to be a good description of the way things happen. We have good answers for some of your questions (like what holds atoms together), and are working on finding answers to the others. But again “we don’t know yet” does not equal “god did it”.

    Matter cannot be created or destroyed, correct? I say it can be created, but not in the physical universe we live in.

    Not correct. Matter can be “destroyed” by turning it into energy(energy can also become matter). It is energy that is conserved in a closed system. Is our universe a closed system? Not an easy question.

    Someone outside of that universe created it.

    Why “someone”? Why not “something”? Why not “there may be a higher level universe that our universe is a part of, but we have not yet found a way to study it”?

    You are using the “god of the gaps” argument. It’s been around a long time. It tends to be weak, because those gaps are always shrinking. Long ago people invented gods as an explanation of why the sun rose, why it was shiny, why we have seasons, what caused lightning, etc., etc.,. Back then those gaps were huge. Now we have those questions figured out, and no longer need to invoke “god did it” for every lightning bolt. Now we are working on other questions like “Why is there something instead of nothing?” We will never know everything, of course, but with each new answer we find, the gaps you invoke a god to fill get narrower. The fact that we don’t have answers to every possible question does nothing to prove the existence of any god, let alone your specific Judeo-christian one.

    Our bodies, as incredible as they are, suck now.

    The bodies of many other organisms also, as you say, “suck”. So are they being punished for man’s fall as well?

  • 67. Me  |  September 25, 2008 at 9:34 am

    Wayne:

    “Not to be cute but that would seem to be an argument for theism in itself, the desire for God to exist. Of course that would get into the philosophical discussion of wishing something into existence and the ensuing epistemological discussion. But indeed, the fact that the heart yearns – is that not a sign?”

    No.

    The idea of a loving god is infinitely appealing. It would mean many things, if it were true;
    1) We’re the most important beings on the planet
    2) We’ll never truly die
    3) We don’t have to search too hard for various answers (such as how the universe began, why am I here, how should I live my life) because all the answers are already there.

    Everyone wants a loving god to exist. It’d be foolish not to. Having god exist would be the single greatest thing ever. Similarly, I really wish a money tree existed, as I’m sure most other people on the planet do. That does not mean that somewhere out there, the money tree exists.

    As I said in an earlier post, humans are the only creatures on the planet that have the cognitive ability to reflect on what happens after we die, but we also have the hard wired instinctive fear of death. This, combined with a lack of scientific progress, can easily explain how religions and the idea of god arose.

    To early man, what would a storm appear to be? What would the rising and setting of the sun and moon appear to be?
    They would look around for examples that they themselves knew and understood. They would see that nothing happens without a creature causing it (a hut doesn’t just appear, it gets built, gazelles don’t kill themselves, lions do it), and they would apply that logic to the sun and moon moving, to thunderstorms, and eventually to everything.
    This has the added benefit of giving them the beleif that they will never die, they just change their plane of existence. This is a wonderful idea, but does not mean it’s true.

    Joel:

    “Why can’t one conclude that something created whatever was there before the Big Bang? How can matter be created?”

    You are assuming two things:

    1) That time has a “beginning”
    2) Before that “beginning”, there was nothing at all, and after it, there was everything

    Who says the universe has to have a start? Why can’t the universe be eternal?
    This is something I’ve never quite understood. Many religious people have no problem with claiming that god has always existed, and was never created, just always there…. but apply that same logic to the universe itself, and they don’t seem to get it, they claim that it must have been created.

    If you have no logical problem with the idea of a highly intelligent, all powerful and complex being existing for eternity without having to have been created, you should have no problem with the idea of matter simply existing for all time.

  • 68. LeoPardus  |  September 25, 2008 at 9:38 am

    Indeed, Christians have done nothing but confirm my conclusion that their faith is silly, weak, wrong, based on mere legends, and has no more reality behind it that the myths of Egypt, Rome, or any other peoples.

    In fact right now I can’t think of a single argument they’ve offered that isn’t based on presuppositions. I also can’t think of more than just a few Christians I’ve heard from who even grasp the meaning of “presupposition” (i.e. circular logic).

    And to piggyback on #6 from the article, they just CANNOT grasp the amazingly simple idea that they need to actually come up with a functioning deity. They seem to think that explaining away their god’s inactivity, or else demonstrating answered prayer by confirmation bias is somehow sufficient.

    The more they argue, the clearer it becomes how wrong they are and the harder it becomes for me to understand how I was able to believe such lame crap for so long.

  • 69. LeoPardus  |  September 25, 2008 at 9:41 am

    BTW, I think we should give a special kudos to Christian Trolls. I honestly can’t even imagine what motivates such sad, sorry individuals. But they sure do help to keep ANYONE from even thinking about “returning to the fold”.

  • 70. john t.  |  September 25, 2008 at 9:43 am

    Me
    “As I said in an earlier post, humans are the only creatures on the planet that have the cognitive ability to reflect on what happens after we die,”

    And how do we know this for sure?

  • 71. john t.  |  September 25, 2008 at 9:46 am

    Leo

    Hows it going this morning?

    ” I honestly can’t even imagine what motivates such sad, sorry individuals.”

    Of course you can, as you have stated on numerous occasions, you were one for many years. ;)

  • 72. BigHouse  |  September 25, 2008 at 9:49 am

    True enough, Leo. Though their attempts may be valiant, they are quite ineffective.

  • 73. Me  |  September 25, 2008 at 10:11 am

    John:

    We can’t know for sure. What I *do* know, however, is that “intelligence” is extremely rare in the world, and higher intelligence is even rarer (while a lot of creatures may use tools, not many pass the self awareness tests, for example).

    To be able to ponder on what happens after we die, there are several steps you have to go through. You have to realise that you are an individual, you have to realise that you are not the center of the universe, you have to be able to plan for the future, you have to realise that not everything will stay the same as it is right now etc etc…

    These are simple things for an adult human mind to grasp, but they are relatively complex things in the world of cognition (taking into account all other animals on the planet). Human children struggle with most of these up until the mid/late teens.

    So while I can’t say for certain that we’re the only creatures on the planet that do it, it’s a relatively safe bet.

  • 74. john t.  |  September 25, 2008 at 10:14 am

    It may be true for most creatures, but Dolphins and Chimps come to mind when I think about cognition and whether we are the only ones with it.

  • 75. Paul Wilkinson  |  September 25, 2008 at 10:20 am

    This is my first time seeing your blog. I think the point you make about Christian apologetics is well taken. The point is that most Christians are simply not trained in this, and those that might be interested are well-read enough to know that recent trends in evangelism have caused us to rethink the idea of “argument” in favor of simply being relational and telling our own narrative story.

    However, that doesn’t mean that there is not a strong apologetic for Christianity out there. I am currently reading — for the second time in a month — the book “The Reason for God” by Timothy Keller. I personally believe that a careful, thoughtful, open-minded reading of this book would be fairly convincing. Keller spends much time during the week talking to people who are not part of the flock; though in fact a whopping percentage of atheists, agnostics and seekers attend the five Sunday services at Redeemer in New York City, where he is the pastor.

    The problem is that I would have to read that book several more times to be conversant in Keller’s flow of thought, and I do have some training in philosophy and logical argument. Inevitably, none of the claims of the Christian faith can be proven, but all of them can be believed. If you can, browse the book at a bookstore — it’s carried in both general market and Christian stores — and check out the middle chapter called “intermission.”

  • 76. Rover  |  September 25, 2008 at 10:21 am

    orDover,

    Excellent article. If I may make a few comments:

    1. “Nothing new” – True, Christians never seem to bring anything new to the table, but is it necessary to bring something new to support a belief? Are athiests bringing anything new? Well I suppose I have to admit that you are bringing more and more scientific evidence which is making it harder to accept the Genesis account of the bible. I think the real problem is that the old stuff we bring never actually seems to address the issues. Christians always seem to base their arguments on broad philospophical principles, never really trying to answer the textual problems that our sacred word presents to us and our detractors. As a christian I can’t tell you how many times I have posted questions to christians on this site and they dont’ answer them, they just resort back to broad generalities.

    2. “No convincing arguments” – I personally still find the prophetic parts of scripture to be very convincing. I know that they are not convicing to the non-believer, but still there seems to be something to them. Certainly many of our arguments for God can be shot full of holes, but I can’t help but sense that there is something more to this life then just the material. This may be because I am dilusional or because I need a crutch, but it certainly motivates me. Perhaps I am wrong to believe in God the way I believe in God, which is currently, very similiar to the way Cooper believes in God. However, having been educated a bit lately it is very hard to to hold to an innerrant view of the scriptures.

    3. Not humble – this one goes both ways. Chrisitians and atheists alike have those among them who are arrogant and those who are humble. But your point is well taken. Certainly the Christian should “out humble” the atheist easily if said Christian is full of the Spirit and this is certainly not the case. Most of the atheist on this blog are far more polite then those on the Christian side.

    4. “Simple answers” – so true. I have searched high and low for some deep, well thought out answers and the best we can do is William Lane Craig? Kind of embarrassing.

    5. emotional thinking – amen. I think Christians are lead by their emotions. Even the “Way of the Master” serious tells Christians to have people put aside the intellect and evangalize to a person’s heart or emotions. Why? Because it is hard convince people that there is a God by telling them about a talking donkey or an evil snake. We try to emotionally hook them and then have them swallow the less palatable things later. I have always been bothered by this method, but I suppose that you first have to believe in God before you can except supernatural occurrences in the Bible.

    6. evidence – Some Christians are taugth that secular scientists are part of the great lie. How can we trust their flawed emperical data? Many Christians I know still run around quoting Henry Morris’s creation books. It is embarrassing. However, it is also a dis-service when atheists take things way out of context to prove that the Bible is false. This happens often on some of the other blog sites.

    7. Logical thought – many christians have not been trained in logical thought or they think it is the reasoning of man and therefore flawed. However, sometimes when we apply logic to the teachings of scripture we are criticized. For instance, when Jesus instructs his disciples to hate their father and mother and love him, we logically know by cross referencing this passage, and studying the cultural context, that he means that we must love him more then we love even our family. We use logic and we exegete the passage in context, yet we are ridiculed for doing so and this text is still used and an example of the crazy sayings of Christ.

    8 arrogant – Christians are arrogant concerning former Christians. They see them as apostate and under the discipline of God. Biblically they should rather have compassion for former Christians and be praying for their restoration. One of the biggest fears I have is that if I deconvert one day I will be ostrisized from my christian community. If they believe the bible they have no choice but to turn me over to the “world” for the destruction of my flesh.

    Well, those are my thoughts and I’m sticking to them. Well at least a few of them. Thanks for a thougth provoking article.

  • 77. BigHouse  |  September 25, 2008 at 10:24 am

    we logically know by cross referencing this passage, and studying the cultural context,

    But how do you decide when you should cross-reference? People are ‘saved’ by John 3:16 alone every day Why must’nt they also cross-reference to verses about needing works etc to be saved?

  • 78. Me  |  September 25, 2008 at 10:26 am

    There’s some controversy over dolphin intelligence, actually.

    While they are no doubt pretty intelligent in comparison to other animals, we’re not really sure of the extent of it.

    One of the tests for intelligence that is widely used is the “mirror test”. You put a dot of ink (no smell, no weight etc…) on the animal, then put them in front of a mirror.

    “Intelligent” animals will realise that the reflection is themselves, and investigate the dot. Animals of lesser intelligence either ignore the reflection or believe it is another animal (put a mirror in front of a kitten and watch their faces as they look around behind the mirror and discover the other kitten has vanished).

    You can’t do that with a dolphin, really. They have nothing to feel the dot on themselves with, for one, and it’s hard to get a dolphin to look in a mirror in the first place.
    Dolphin intelligence has been emphasised in the media for a few reasons; they’re cute, they’re playful, they’re non-harmful (mostly) and it’s a great way to help support “help the dolphin” organisations.

    Chimps are another matter, though. They’re definitely intelligent, they can learn some human languages (sign languages), they have great problem solving abilities and they show clear signs of “thinking something through” before they do it (rather than just trying everything until something works).

    But I’d be wary of applying human emotions, feelings and thoughts on other animals. If nothing else, they aren’t human; their thought processes are going to be different.

  • 79. LeoPardus  |  September 25, 2008 at 10:34 am

    john t:

    Not sure what you’re referring to. I tried to evangelize, on the street, at work, at college, etc. But I certainly never harangued people with my “witness”, and I didn’t stick around on forums where I was clearly not wanted, and I didn’t create sock puppet identities to fool people or to “converse” with myself.

  • 80. LeoPardus  |  September 25, 2008 at 10:40 am

    “As I said in an earlier post, humans are the only creatures on the planet that have the cognitive ability to reflect on what happens after we die,”
    And how do we know this for sure?

    In the sense of being able to read the minds of other creatures and actually KNOW what they are thinking, we don’t “know for sure”. What we do know is that they show no ability to record their own thoughts, they show no recognizable “reflective thought” processes, they show no evidence of ritualistic post-death practices, etc.

    In other words, there is no evidence that other creatures have congnitive/reflective abilities. Hence we conclude that they probably don’t. Exactly the same way that we can conclude that since there is no evidence of a personal deity, there most probably isn’t one.

  • 81. orDover  |  September 25, 2008 at 11:05 am

    Wayne wrote,
    …perhaps a glimmer of hope? Not to be cute but that would seem to be an argument for theism in itself, the desire for God to exist. Of course that would get into the philosophical discussion of wishing something into existence and the ensuing epistemological discussion. But indeed, the fact that the heart yearns – is that not a sign?

    No. It isn’t a sign. It’s only a sign if you presuppose the existence of God in the first place. When I was 8 years old I read Gaston Leroux’s The Phantom of the Opera for the first time. The very first sentence of the introduction reads: “The Opera Ghost is real.” When I was 8, I believed that line, and I read the book as if it was nonfiction. I read the book dozens of times after that (it’s my favorite). When I was maybe 15 (yeah, it took a while), I finally figured out that Leroux was a fiction writer, that his book was a novel, and that the scenario was too implausible to be true. I had been duped for 7 years. It was a bit disheartening, and the story lost a bit of its magic. Sometimes when I re-read the book, or even think about it, I wish that I could return to the belief that the Opera Ghost was real because of the glimmer of romanticism that it gave my daily life. When I visited the Opera Garnier in Paris, the real-life setting of the book, I had this irrational hope that all of the events I had read about so many times actually had taken place. Does my fervent hope mean that the Opera Ghost was real? No. It doesn’t even hint at it.

    Besides that example, for me, to be a Christian was easy and comfortable. It’s hard and scary to be an atheist. I come from a very religious family and I have to hide my disbelief from them if I want to continue a normal relationship with them. My life would be so easy if I could find a reason to believe again. I honestly think that any hope I have for there still being a good isn’t a sign that there is a god, but is a sign of my desire to be intellectually lazy. Christianity is the default position for me. It was what I learned and what I had always believed. It would be so simple just to go back to it, and then I could be done with all of these complicated arguments and the uncertainty that comes with the humility of admitting that I don’t actually have all of the answers.

  • 82. xacrest  |  September 25, 2008 at 11:24 am

    Very intriguing article. Personally, I am fairly sure I believe in God, but I admit I have asked and wondered about many of these questions before. I still am asking and wondering, really. I’m pretty sure ‘blind faith’ isn’t the answer to all the questions. I like to think that God invented the power to think, rationalize and question. The fact that we would want to question his will and then still root for him might sound kind of stupid, but I think there has to be something out there. Again, I suppose I’m probably going to get bashed up virtually for suggesting that I believe in God (on a de-con blog, too! got to love my brilliance sometimes), however I think this addressed many concerns
    Christians face but don’t want to admit. Who hasn’t wondered whether or not God exists and then decided to classify it as a ‘moment of weakness’?

    I really haven’t got any substantial answers to many questions posed here. All I can come up with is that logic is all very well and good. It’s fine to rationalize, to doubt and wonder. Sometimes things transcend the powers of conception, I suppose. I mean, there are undeniably things that can’t be explained (no, I won’t go into UFOs here), call them whatever you want, coincidence, freak happenings, etc. Whatever you call them, whatever you want to believe causes them, depends on who you are.

    I have met (and been annoyed the crud out of by) arrogant Christians who think that by quoting the Bible they’re automatically right, and arrogant atheists who presume to try and prove that God doesn’t exist. There is a possibility that we’ve got it all mixed up, in every religion there is a chance that it’s not true, that it’s the ‘wrong’ religion to pick to save yourself (if there is an afterlife, which I won’t go into here either). I think what speaks most about what kind of person someone is, would be how strongly one can adhere to one’s belief of choice while living and letting live.

    And btw,
    “we logically know by cross referencing this passage, and studying the cultural context,
    But how do you decide when you should cross-reference? People are ’saved’ by John 3:16 alone every day Why must’nt they also cross-reference to verses about needing works etc to be saved?”

    Yeah well, people only cross-reference when something seems contradictory to the general nature of the whole, don’t they? Why question what falls naturally into place (especially when scary things lie down that path)? People fear to find out that they’re wrong although supposedly that’s where true faith and acceptance lie. Religion is written by the hand of man. Nobody really wants to find out what lies beneath all that human error. Maybe it was really a spelling mistake, or maybe, who knows? The possibilities are too dangerous to fathom for fear of being proven wrong. People are like that in every religion, not just Christianity.

  • 83. writerdd  |  September 25, 2008 at 11:45 am

    Besides that example, for me, to be a Christian was easy and comfortable. It’s hard and scary to be an atheist. I come from a very religious family and I have to hide my disbelief from them if I want to continue a normal relationship with them. My life would be so easy if I could find a reason to believe again.

    Not me. When I was agnostic I felt like that. But when I finally realized I just didn’t believe that there was a God at all, a huge weight fell off my shoulders and the angst and fear all just disappeared. I have been SO much happier and more peaceful since that day, it continues to amaze me.

    I don’t believe in being a phony to create peace in my family though. They know I don’t believe. I bet it wouldn’t be as bad as you think if you came out, and you might actually feel better just not having to pretend any more. If they don’t accept you as you really are, screw them and walk away without looking back. That’s their problem, not yours.

  • 84. Ubi Dubium  |  September 25, 2008 at 11:54 am

    Me:

    You can’t do that with a dolphin, really. They have nothing to feel the dot on themselves with, for one, and it’s hard to get a dolphin to look in a mirror in the first place.

    Actually, they have done that with dolphins, and they do pass the mirror test. Here’s a link to a study on the subject. Since dolphins are not physically capable of speaking human languages, and we are not physically capable of speaking dolphin language, it may be some time before we have a real handle on just how intelligent they are. I suspect we may find that Douglas Adams was right, and we are not the most intelligent mammals on the planet after all.

  • 85. Me  |  September 25, 2008 at 12:12 pm

    Ubi Dubium:

    Man… I am behind on the times. I’m a psychology student, too. Thanks for that.

    Also, I like your name.

  • 86. snugglybuffalo  |  September 25, 2008 at 12:18 pm

    Inevitably, none of the claims of the Christian faith can be proven, but all of them can be believed.

    That’s all but meaningless, really. Anything can be believed. I’m interested in knowing the truth, or at least getting as close to it as I reasonably can.

  • 87. john t.  |  September 25, 2008 at 12:37 pm

    Leo

    What I meant was that you were a Christian for a fairly long time by your own admission, so I assumed you would be privy as to why they act the way they act.

  • 88. SnugglyBuffalo  |  September 25, 2008 at 12:37 pm

    orDover-

    I come from a very religious family and I have to hide my disbelief from them if I want to continue a normal relationship with them. My life would be so easy if I could find a reason to believe again.

    Sounds like a good time for an update on my situation.

    Things have generally calmed down; my mom hasn’t called to beg me to come to church, or to try and argue with me for some time now. I think she’s starting to realize that this is the way it is, and she’s going to have to accept it.

    She called me up yesterday to discuss birthday plans for my dad and me (our birthdays are one day apart) so it looks like I’ve evaded familial ostracization.

    So far I think the worst part was something my brother relayed to me. Apparently after she discovered my unbelief, my mom panicked and went into super-devotional mode. The main goal explicitly being to make sure that my little brother, “won’t end up like Greg.” That’s kinda painful to hear.

    Still, I’m glad it’s out in the open. I’m not stressing out wondering how my family will react. I can be candid with them instead of giving a nervous laugh when they say something I completely disagree with. And while my relationship with them definitely isn’t the same, and likely never will be, it’s also a lot less different than I typically imagined it being before I told them of my unbelief.

  • 89. Joel  |  September 25, 2008 at 12:42 pm

    What do I have to lose here on earth if I’m wrong about God? Nothing important, sure, I’ll be laughed at for my faith, but I’m secure in myself. What do I have to gain if I’m right? Eternal life, a relationship with our creator, answers to all of these questions.

    I would rather die and cease to exist, than die and find out I was wrong, and now have to answer to God about why I lived my life ignoring him.

    Is this an argument for the existence of God? No. Is it rational? No. Is it emotional? Yes. Risk management? Haha, perhaps. But in the meantime, I will live a purpose driven, fulfilling life, giving my all to please my creator, and when it’s all said and done, He’ll judge me for my life, or He won’t. Either way, I win here on Earth, in my opinion. I have peace about this.

  • 90. Lorena  |  September 25, 2008 at 12:45 pm

    (This criticism certainly doesn’t apply to all of the Christian commentors, but it does sum up the general Holier-Than-Thou attitude of the average proselytizer.)

    Sometimes it isn’t even an attitude or arrogance. It is plain ignorance. So, I suppose what bothers me is that people who’ve never thought outside the box of Christianity and perhaps even have a low I.Q. want to give me a lecture on a subject I’ve done so much thinking and research on.

  • 91. Lorena  |  September 25, 2008 at 12:45 pm

    Sorry for posting in all bold … it wasn’t my intention.

    I just wanted to highlight the top part, which is a quote from the main article.

  • 92. BigHouse  |  September 25, 2008 at 12:48 pm

    Ah, Joel, good ole Pascual’s Wager. It’s not a very convincing argument, as has been discussed on this site before. For one thing, what if there’s a god, but he’s not YOUR god? And you get judged just the same and cast out of eternal life for not being right?

  • 93. Me  |  September 25, 2008 at 12:58 pm

    Joel:

    “What do I have to lose here on earth if I’m wrong about God? Nothing important, sure, I’ll be laughed at for my faith, but I’m secure in myself. What do I have to gain if I’m right? Eternal life, a relationship with our creator, answers to all of these questions.”

    I don’t know whether you’re aware of it or not, but what you’ve just described is Pascal’s Wager. If you believe in god and you’re right, you win. If you believe and you’re wrong, you don’t lose anything. If you don’t believe and you’re right, you don’t win anything, if you don’t believe and you’re wrong, you lose everything.
    Put like that, belief in god is a simple “playing the odds” thing.

    But Pascal’s Wager doesn’t work in modern times. It assumes that there are only two possible options:

    1) There is no god
    2) There is a christian god

    But that’s just wrong. There are hundreds, even thousands, of potential gods, all of whom have had support from hundreds, thousands or millions of people in the past. And a religious life can lead to a “loss” in this life; lost time, lost education (I know many people who simply refuse to even study evolution because it’s “wrong” by default, for example), actual bodily harm (anti-contraception campaigns causing teenage pregnancy and spread of STDs, for one example) and so on.

    So taking all that into account, it doesn’t hold up any more.

    Suppose you live your life by strict catholic beliefs and morals. You “lose” parts of your life getitng up for mass, you end up with a family larger than you can easily support due to the church’s views on contraception, one of your children grows up to be atheist / agnostic / follow another faith which causes you and your family emotional hurt etc etc… (this is all “worst case” stuff here).

    When you die, you find out that there is an afterlife and a god. But it’s not your god. It’s zeus, who is pretty annoyed that you lived your life following another god. Or it’s allah, who is annoyed for the same reasons. So you get sent to hell.
    Or there is no god, and your life of struggle was all for nothing.

    It is a lot more complex than a simple 50/50 god does / doesn’t exist argument. It is an example of arrogance to believe that the only possible god is the one you happen to follow.

  • 94. joelnafziger  |  September 25, 2008 at 1:01 pm

    That’s the chance I take.
    I’d rather try and fail, than not try at all I suppose. Not believing in ANY God doesn’t help.

  • 95. joelnafziger  |  September 25, 2008 at 1:11 pm

    Me, it’s been a long time, but yes, I remember hearing about Pascal’s wager.
    I’m not sure how to respond to that. I’m not Catholic or Jewish, so I don’t spend a lot of time doing ritualistic stuff. I do go to church, but I don’t consider that wasted time, since I’m learning about something I’m interested in. Pain and suffering in life due to circumstances is tough, I agree, but once again, I wouldn’t consider it a waste. One of the toughest things I’ve had to go through is my son have open heart surgery as an infant. Would I ever want to experience that again? No. Was it a learning experience and did it change my life for the better? Absolutely. So the whole waste/lost in life argument holds no water with me, unless you’re talking about how much time I may spend playing Spore (yes, I, a bible-believing Christian, play Spore).

    The “which God is the right God” question is a valid one.
    In my case, the Bible lays it all out fairly concisely, and has withheld the test of time, and many locations have been historically proven as existing. It’s written by God (via man), unlike many other religious books, etc. It’s made the most sense to me, and when looking at the world and evil, etc., it addresses many of my questions better than Buddhism, Hinduism, Greek philosophy, etc.

  • 96. Me  |  September 25, 2008 at 1:21 pm

    Sorry I should have clarified it; that set of circumstances I brought up in my last post wasn’t meant to be aimed specifically at you, or anyone else in this thread. It’s more of a general criticism of Pascal’s Wager.

  • 97. Digital Dame  |  September 25, 2008 at 1:25 pm

    Joel, I disagree. Believing in the Christian god has lead people to eschew medical treatment for themselves and their children, resulting in needless suffering and (agonizing) death. There is a great deal to lose by believing in that god. With all the thousands of gods that have been followed since the dawn of man, there is no way to know which one (if any) is real. If there is a god(s), I would think he/she would realize this and either not hold it against us in the afterlife, or quit playing this game of hide-and-seek with his/her own creations that cannot possibly discern the “truth” without more direct input.

    It is entirely possible to lead a very fulfilling, purpose-driven life without it centering on trying to please a god who in all probability does not exist. Focus on easing some of the suffering of your fellow man, abused animals, etc.

  • 98. Joel  |  September 25, 2008 at 1:32 pm

    Digital Dame,
    A misunderstanding of the Christian God and Bible has lead people to do crazy and foolish things. Extremism in anything can be harmful.

  • 99. Joel  |  September 25, 2008 at 1:33 pm

    dang, lead=led
    Where’s the grammar check?

  • 100. LeoPardus  |  September 25, 2008 at 1:35 pm

    john t:

    What I meant was that you were a Christian for a fairly long time by your own admission, so I assumed you would be privy as to why they act the way they act.

    Oh I understand a lot of why Christians act the way they do. But “Christian” trolls (like Joe/Oleander/Cooper/etc) I do not understand. All I know is that they are incredibly sorry excuses for living beings.

  • 101. john t.  |  September 25, 2008 at 1:46 pm

    Joel

    Whatever floats your boat. Just dont try to impose “your” God and its rules on the rest of us and we’ll do just fine.

  • 102. Joel  |  September 25, 2008 at 1:48 pm

    I was trying very hard not to. I apologize if I have.
    I tell people what I believe and why. I can’t get them to believe in anything, that’s their choice.

  • 103. john t.  |  September 25, 2008 at 1:50 pm

    Right on………I guess youll be everyones favourite christian on here

  • 104. Cooper  |  September 25, 2008 at 1:52 pm

    You haven’t experienced this. I’ve said it before, but it’s like a bird trying to telling a fish what it’s to fly. The fish will never get it because it doesn’t know what it’s like to live out of the water

    orDover—

    What if it is a flying fish? :)

  • 105. leftbehind  |  September 25, 2008 at 2:01 pm

    The knowing acceptance of Pascal’s Wager by some posters here is very interesting to me. I used to think, as a christian, that I would never have accepted Pascal’s Wager because it is not real faith.

    But now, I am thinking that towards the end of my christian walk I was really living a form of Pascal’s Wager, I just wouldn’t have admitted to it.

    I was willing to be a christian and do the christian things, even make sacrifices of time, money, prohibitions, etc. But not to the point where it began to interfere with my comfort level. Care for the poor? Good, I believed in that with or without a god. Tithe? Giving is good, right? Worship? I like the songs, well most of them. Evangelize to those I love who would be offended? No, no, no, could not go there. Be more and more and more devoted in prayer? No, couldn’t go there either, because of the sincerity it required I could only go through the motions. Lead my young children to Christ? Ouch…

    It eventually became too much for me — the wager wasn’t worth it anymore. So what I was losing by submitting to Pascal’s Wager was my own thoughts. I was giving up my mind to something I didn’t really believe! That is the most liberating thing about my life now outside of faith — I have my mind back.

  • 106. Joel  |  September 25, 2008 at 2:08 pm

    John T.,
    I’ve been called worse. :-)
    I dislike arrogant Christians that push the subject, are condescending, and sound angry. We’re supposed to be humble and loving, and many people aren’t…a gross misrepresentation of our beliefs. God works on people’s hearts, I don’t. There is a place for fire and brimstone, but it doesn’t appear that now is the time or place for that type of approach. Besides, I don’t like people yelling at me, I’m not going to treat them the same.

  • 107. Cooper  |  September 25, 2008 at 2:23 pm

    And, Cooper, if you are out there, I apologize for my snark and condescion towards you on this blog. I still think you argue poorly and it frustrates me to no end, but you do not desrve to be treated poorly as a result. My sincerest apologies.

    BigHouse—

    No problem at all. I really can be very irritating at times, and I admit and realize that. And your right, I am not very good at arguing my points. :)

    LeoPardus said:
    The more they argue, the clearer it becomes how wrong they are and the harder it becomes for me to understand how I was able to believe such lame crap for so long.

    Wow–how strange. Just recently I mentioned as a young Christian I suffered in fear that I might have committed the “unpardonable sin”—I literally thought I was an “apostate” and had no hope of recovery. What’s funny is that even though I felt so “condemned” at the time, I continued to go out on a Boulevard and “witness” to people about Christ. One night, completely despairing of my salvation, feeling I was an apostate, we came upon a crowd of people.

    Someone began to preach to them and a man shouted out “I used to be into that SHIT !!!” A voice inside of me said “Now Joe, that’s an apostate”. The reality hit me that I could NEVER call Chistianity “that shit”, or not believe in Christ, because I loved him to much, and had experienced to much to ever turn away from him. How could that man say something like that when I knew how much I loved my faith? And yet here I was saying I was an apostate. It began to open my eyes as to what an apostate is—-and has continued my interest in the subject ever since—I am fascinated by apostasy—because I still don’t understand it.

    But LeoPardus calling Christianity “lame crap” brought back that night and that man to me very clearly. Thank God he freed me from thinking I was condemned—but it really did teach me something. All of the doubt, frustration, fear, tears, and darkness helped to strengthen my faith in the end—and for that I really am thankful.

    Far from being “that crap” as Leo calls it, the greatest and most wonderful day was the day Jesus came into my life. That was ages ago—-but I still remember the deep joy I had then—and the deep joy I have now. How grateful I am that I am a Christian. There have been many trials of faith—-but it has been worth every moment. I’m still the same sinner I always was, with all the same weaknesses, and tendency to argue :) but I am so very, very thankful that Jesus Christ came into my life.

  • 108. Cooper  |  September 25, 2008 at 2:47 pm

    It began to open my eyes as to what an apostate is—-and has continued my interest in the subject ever since—I am fascinated by apostasy—because I still don’t understand it.
    :) Sounds contradictory I know. When I say it began to open my eyes as to what an apostate is–I mean, that I understand it is someone who is “able” to turn away from the faith, but at the same time I don’t understand how though. That “apostate” on the boulevard said he “used to believe” and now called what he once believed “that shit”–just as Leo callis it “lame crap”. On that boulevard I realized I was defining myself with a word used to describe people who are “able” to say things like that—and that wasn’t me. So my eyes were opened—but I still don’t understand it. It intrigues me to no end.

  • 109. Ubi Dubium  |  September 25, 2008 at 4:16 pm

    Joe/Cooper/Echo/Oleander

    So my eyes were opened—but I still don’t understand it. It intrigues me to no end.

    I’ve been trying to stay out of arguments with you, but that sure sounds like an honest question, with no preaching or arguing attached, so I’ll reply.

    The best example I can think of for a comparison is Santa Claus. If you were raised in a western, christian household, it’s fairly likely you believed in Santa as a small child. Really, truly and deeply believed. I know I did. Santa loved you, he watched over you, you could write to him, and even sit in his lap. He even wrote a book – I have a copy. He wanted you to be good and brought you presents. It was really comforting to believe in Santa.

    By the time they reach their teens, pretty much all children have found out the truth about Santa and have stopped believing that there is an actual jolly fat man living at the north pole with his reindeer and elves. They aren’t “angry” at Santa, they don’t think, deep down, there really is a Santa, they didn’t “turn away” because they just wanted to misbehave; they’ve simply realized it’s only a lovely fantasy that parents provide for their children. And the kids I know usually try not to spoil the fun for their younger siblings, who will also figure it out in time, on their own.
    As an adult, if I hear a child talk about how great Santa is, I’m not going to spoil it for him. But when my own kids honestly ask me if Santa is real, I tell them the truth. And if an adult tried to convert me to Santaism, or have it taught in public school science class, I’d have to object.

    That’s a good metaphor for how I personally feel about god, like he’s Santa Claus for grownups. To understand how evangelism sounds from this de-con’s point of view, take any religious argument for the existence of god, substitute in “Santa Claus” for “god” and see if it still sounds convincing.

    So if you once truly believed in Santa, and have now “turned away”, you can get an idea of how an Apostate feels.

  • 110. Ubi Dubium  |  September 25, 2008 at 4:17 pm

    Sorry – dang blockquote. I want an edit function!

  • 111. john t.  |  September 25, 2008 at 4:21 pm

    Cooper

    You know what would make it easier to listen to your discussions. If you would first say that, “I realize there is no “real” evidence that the Christian God is real, but in my heart I believe it and that is enough for me”. The only time there can be an Apostate is in the eyes of the believer, the non believer is right in their belief that its all “lame crap”.

  • 112. LeoPardus  |  September 25, 2008 at 4:39 pm

    a good metaphor for how I personally feel about god, like he’s Santa Claus for grownups.

    Exactly right. Though it does makes you wonder just how grown up they are.

    So if you once truly believed in Santa, and have now “turned away”, you can get an idea of how an Apostate feels.

    Not a bad analogy.

    And if an adult tried to convert me to Santaism,

    This reminds me of what happened to the dyslexic Satanist….. he sold his soul to Santa. :D

  • 113. john t.  |  September 25, 2008 at 4:41 pm

    “This reminds me of what happened to the dyslexic Satanist….. he sold his soul to Santa”

    Ah now that is priceless :)

  • 114. BigHouse  |  September 25, 2008 at 4:56 pm

    I remember how very REAL Santa was to me a child, then one day, it was so crystal clear that he didn’t exist. Amazing how the mind works.

    Then again, doesn’t Jesus call his followers to “come to him like a child”? Hmmm….

  • 115. silentj  |  September 25, 2008 at 5:50 pm

    Joel,

    You seem to have an o.k. attitude, so I don’t think this main post was intended as much for you. I don’t really have an issue with anyone of faith. As others already said, it’s when my life is suddenly affected because of someone else’s belief in a God that at best is unknowable.

    The frustrating things about Christian posters here is when they assume things about other posters (“you weren’t a real Christian,” “you didn’t pray hard enougy,” etc.) or try to reconvert them.

    This board is primarily a place for decons to connect and discuss ideas. Imagine if I went to a Sunday School class and attempted to deconvert people. Even if I was incredibly polite, most there would consider it highly inappropriate and rude.

    Now, if I admitted to being an atheist, but stuck and around and genuinely tried to figure out what “The Message” was all about, I’d probably be accepted with open arms, even if I didn’t agree.

  • 116. orDover  |  September 25, 2008 at 5:59 pm

    Nearly every single Christian defense on this thread is, no surprise, the “I just really feel that God exists.” I have to admit, I have no idea how anyone could honestly hold that position, especially in the light of the Pascal’s Wager discussion a few comments up. If all you have is your feelings, you basically have nothing, and you definitely don’t have anything more than another person of a different religion. Do Christians realize this? Do they realize that their feelings assure them of the existence of Christ just as the Muslim’s feelings assure them of the existence of Allah?

    It has to be the weakest argument ever put forth for anything. In fact, it’s so weak, I wish they wouldn’t even bother to say it anymore. It’s a give in. We know that you think you feel God. Now give us something else, if you have it.

  • 117. orDover  |  September 25, 2008 at 6:12 pm

    writerdd,
    But when I finally realized I just didn’t believe that there was a God at all, a huge weight fell off my shoulders and the angst and fear all just disappeared. I have been SO much happier and more peaceful since that day, it continues to amaze me.

    I think I’ve been too well duped into believing that I have the burden of proof in this situation. That’s why I don’t feel like any weight has been lifted. In fact, I felt like I used to “lay my burdens at the cross,” even intellectual ones, and now I’ve had to take up those burdens myself again. I know that from the standpoint of rational discourse, the person making the claim (i.e. the Christian) is the one with the burden of proof, but I feel like, since I’m the one dissenting, that I have the burden.

    When I was a Christian, no one questioned my faith. No one asked my “why” or required me to give them any proof or sound arguments for my position. It was respected as a personal belief. But now that I’m an atheist the “whys” constantly come up, and I find I have to defend my intellectual position tooth and nail. That introduced a whole new level of stress and anxiety in my life. I feel like I have to always have top-notch arguments and a well-reasoned position, where before I could just sit back, relax, and belief through nothing but faith.

    I don’t believe in being a phony to create peace in my family though. They know I don’t believe. I bet it wouldn’t be as bad as you think if you came out, and you might actually feel better just not having to pretend any more. If they don’t accept you as you really are, screw them and walk away without looking back. That’s their problem, not yours.

    I agree it probably wouldn’t be as bad as I think, but I’m just not ready to come out of the atheist closet. My parents are so proud of me right now, and I’ve only recently set out on my own as a full-fledged adult. I can’t deal with disappointing them so early on. I feel like if I show them for a bit longer that I’m a successful and independent person that they will accept my personal beliefs with more composure and respect.

  • 118. SnugglyBuffalo  |  September 25, 2008 at 6:31 pm

    By the time they reach their teens, pretty much all children have found out the truth about Santa and have stopped believing that there is an actual jolly fat man living at the north pole with his reindeer and elves.

    “If there’s one thing humans can’t resist, it’s a fat man with presents.”
    -Invader Zim

  • 119. Cooper  |  September 25, 2008 at 7:30 pm

    Joe/Cooper/Echo/Oleander

    Ubi—

    This is like the third time you have mentioned names I have not used for some time now. I appreciate that you remember me so well, :) but I have not used Echo or Oleander or Joe for a very long time now.

    I explained that I used a couple of different “handles” on a couple of different threads just for a while (and this was quite some time ago actually), because as “Joe” I was being called a “troll”—and that was truly not my intent. I did not come to the blog to disrupt or fight. I would have stayed just “Joe” if it were possible. I would go back to “Joe” but there is another person named Joe who posts at times—so I decided to stay with Cooper. :)

  • 120. Cooper  |  September 25, 2008 at 7:40 pm

    That’s a good metaphor for how I personally feel about god, like he’s Santa Claus for grownups

    Ubi—

    I appreciate what you are saying—but I, too, believed in Santa once. I recall the relationship well. I forgot about Santa for 11 months of the year (unless my Mom said “Santa’s watching!” when I did something bad—-but I’d forget about him again in about 10 minutes). But around December 1st or so I would begin to think about him. I didn’t pray to him—I wrote a couple of letters with lists of toys I wanted. About two weeks before Christmas my devotion would grow—-and then on December 26th I quickly forgot about Santa again.

    Now—-if someone’s relationship with God is the same–example: Not think of God much–only on Christmas and Easter, or when you’ve done something bad, then I get your comparison.

    But comparing a relationship/belief in Santa to a belief/relationship with God when the person is a dedicated Christian who prays, reads the Bible, and serves God to his best on a daily basis is really no comparison at all. I never received Santa into my heart. My life never changed because of Santa. I never thought of Santa on a daily basis, with great fervor and love, and hoped to spend eternity with him.

    That comparison just doesn’t work for me.

  • 121. Cooper  |  September 25, 2008 at 7:44 pm

    The only time there can be an Apostate is in the eyes of the believer, the non believer is right in their belief that its all “lame crap”.

    john t—

    You are forgetting that most people here “used to be” believers too. They once prayed to Jesus, loved Jesus, or said they did, and evangelized, etc. etc. My point was that when a former believer says it’s “lame crap” it shows he has truly fallen away—-because no Christian would ever say that, or would feel genuine sadness hearing someone labeling their faith in that manner—-especially from someone who “used to” espouse it.

  • 122. Cooper  |  September 25, 2008 at 8:02 pm

    This board is primarily a place for decons to connect and discuss ideas. Imagine if I went to a Sunday School class and attempted to deconvert people. Even if I was incredibly polite, most there would consider it highly inappropriate and rude.

    silentj—

    Very good point. The only thing I would ask though is what if you went to the Sunday School class with every intent on just listening, and the subject of deconversion came up. What if someone said “what is a deconvert”? What if they then went on with the conversation in such a manner that you just HAD to pipe up and explain what happened to you, and what led you to deconvert?

    You see—-very often (and maybe people on the board don’t really realize it) Christianity is discussed here (of course)–so a Christian visitng will most likely say “I’m a Christian”. Invariably one of the people on the board will then ask “Can you explain why you believe?” (this is strange—because they KNOW the answer they will receive)—it will be subjective, which will lead into a discusison of Reason vs. faith, as the de-con will ask how one could possibly believe in God on faith alone, etc.

    In that context, it might be very possible for you to go to Sunday School and wind up talking about deconversion. :)

  • 123. Cooper  |  September 25, 2008 at 8:04 pm

    silentj—

    However, point well taken—I never really thought about it like that before.

  • 124. Ubi Dubium  |  September 25, 2008 at 8:47 pm

    Cooper-
    Although the Santa analogy is not as strong for you, I think it still can provide some insight. Once you believed, but now you don’t. Even though that faith was not as all-consuming as the one you presenlty hold, you have been through the process of losing faith in something you once believed was true. You have said you are struggling to understand “deconversion”. Think about how you, as an adult, now view Santa. Some of us feel that way about god.

  • 125. silentj  |  September 25, 2008 at 9:34 pm

    Cooper,

    I also see what you’re saying. I guess my biggest response to your suggestion that I might want to start talking about being a decon is that I wouldn’t go to Sunday School in the first place! ;)

    First, I can understand wanting to retaliate or clarify if someone suggested a reading of something that I flatly thought was false. In that sense, I can understand why people would defend Christianity when it comes to Biblical reading.

    However, I think most people here don’t see the Bible as an appropriate source to base an argument. Most of the debates involving the Bible have more to do with the authenticity of its creation than with the message itself. (Hence, comparing verses to show paradoxes or flat out contradictions.) Where I think people get frustrated is when spots that seem iffy, if not plainly contradictory, are justified with some form of the “it’s just a mystery.”

    Cooper, I’ll be honest. I don’t really find you that annoying. However, I glaze over a lot of your posts because I’m not as interested in the debates over scripture. I don’t tell you this out of disrespect, but just to tell you that you seem alright a lot of times when I do read your posts.

  • 126. Aussie Ali  |  September 26, 2008 at 2:21 am

    “This reminds me of what happened to the dyslexic Satanist….. he sold his soul to Santa”

    What about the dyslexic, agnostic insomniac?

    He used to lie in bed at night wondering if there was a Dog!

  • 127. BigHouse  |  September 26, 2008 at 8:23 am

    Very good point. The only thing I would ask though is what if you went to the Sunday School class with every intent on just listening, and the subject of deconversion came up. What if someone said “what is a deconvert”? What if they then went on with the conversation in such a manner that you just HAD to pipe up and explain what happened to you, and what led you to deconvert?

    You see—-very often (and maybe people on the board don’t really realize it) Christianity is discussed here (of course)–so a Christian visitng will most likely say “I’m a Christian”. Invariably one of the people on the board will then ask “Can you explain why you believe?” (this is strange—because they KNOW the answer they will receive)—it will be subjective, which will lead into a discusison of Reason vs. faith, as the de-con will ask how one could possibly believe in God on faith alone, etc.

    That’s the thing, Cooper, people here wouldn’t go to Sunday School with the intent of hijacking the conversation to de-conversion. I, personally, woould find it disrespectful to do that, because it’s THEIR house, and they get to set the agenda for what;s discussed there.

    Here, the mission of this site is quite clearly stated. ChristianS are welcome, but the subjective “I just believe, you should too’ preaching is NOT welcome. Mostly because that conversation has been had a hundred times over and we’re STILL here in this boat.

    And, quite frankly, I would do some reading of the other archived posts here if you REALLY want to understand why someone deconverts. I have found the storied fascinating and well-explained, and can find common ground from my own story in them. You mind learn what you seek from that better than debating your faith in these threads.

  • 129. Rover  |  September 26, 2008 at 11:35 am

    Cooper,

    We may not believe in Santa, but do Christians believe in fire breathing dragons that lived among humans? Job 41. What do Christians do with stuff like this? Is it okay to just stick with broad philosophies and never deal with the devil in the details? excuse the pun.

  • 130. LeoPardus  |  September 26, 2008 at 12:18 pm

    orDover:

    When I was a Christian, no one questioned my faith. No one asked my “why” or required me to give them any proof or sound arguments for my position. It was respected as a personal belief. But now that I’m an atheist the “whys” constantly come up, and I find I have to defend my intellectual position tooth and nail. That introduced a whole new level of stress and anxiety in my life. I feel like I have to always have top-notch arguments and a well-reasoned position, where before I could just sit back, relax, and belief through nothing but faith.

    Previously you were just a automaton of the pack. Now you’ve set yourself apart as an independent entity. That worries, frightens, and threatens people. They don’t understand it. So they can’t just accept it.

    Fortunately, having a well-reasoned position isn’t too hard. Not when religion has set the bar so low.

  • 131. writerdd  |  September 26, 2008 at 1:19 pm

    I think you only need a well-reasoned position if you’re trying to convince someone else to ditch their god belief. Otherwise, it’s none of their business. You don’t have to be rude about it, but you can just say “I don’t believe.” If they are really interested, you can tell them what you think in your own words, but if they want to debate, why not just say, “I’m not interested in discussing this further. It’s personal” and walk away?

  • 132. Cooper  |  September 26, 2008 at 2:25 pm

    You have said you are struggling to understand “deconversion”. Think about how you, as an adult, now view Santa. Some of us feel that way about god.

    Ubi—-

    I understand what you are saying a bit better now. Thanks.

  • 133. Cooper  |  September 26, 2008 at 2:26 pm

    Cooper, I’ll be honest. I don’t really find you that annoying. However, I glaze over a lot of your posts because I’m not as interested in the debates over scripture. I don’t tell you this out of disrespect, but just to tell you that you seem alright a lot of times when I do read your posts.

    silentj—

    That’s OK—I glaze over my own moments after I have posted them. :)

  • 134. DeeVee  |  September 26, 2008 at 3:35 pm

    First of all, “scripture” was not often written by whom it is stated is the author. Mathew, Mark, Luke, and John did not write the gospels. The Old Testament has been found to be about 1000 years younger than thought, and it was written around the first century by Helenized Jews who wrote it in Greek, not Hebrew or Aramaic. The bible is a hoax. So, once you establish that your scripture came from god or jesus (meaning you also have to prove that god or jesus existed), then a discussion of “scripture” would be meaningful. Discussing scripture is like talking to a 10-year old kid who thinks the heroes in his comic books are real. No they are not. DeeVee

  • 135. bobbi jo  |  September 26, 2008 at 4:26 pm

    “You don’t have to be rude about it, but you can just say “I don’t believe.” If they are really interested, you can tell them what you think in your own words, but if they want to debate, why not just say, “I’m not interested in discussing this further. It’s personal” and walk away?”

    I really haven’t seen either side do this well in general. We (as humans) want to be able to have the last word, to make sure the other person understands our position. you don’t want to deconvert anyone else, you just want them to understand why you deconverted. and christians don’t want to reconvert you, they want you to understand why they still have faith.

    I think the home team has the advantage in these situations. I’m on another christian blog as well where a non christian is posting in a devious way and the other christian bloggers are very gracious in their responses to him. Same here. Most of the time, the decons are very gracious when they respond to christians. I appriciate that.

  • 136. Digital Dame  |  September 26, 2008 at 4:43 pm

    bobbi jo said:

    and christians don’t want to reconvert you, they want you to understand why they still have faith.

    I would have to disagree with this. In my experience (and as frequently evidenced on many atheist blogs) they most certainly DO want to reconvert us. In many cases, I won’t say all, it’s the only reason they visit atheist blogs, web sites, etc.

  • 137. bobbi jo  |  September 26, 2008 at 5:53 pm

    Digital Dame,

    Fair enough. You’re right in that some do come in here wanting to convert. I’m just saying that I’ve seen the other version of that, where an athiest comes on a christian blog to get us to “lose” our faith. But this seems to be the minority. It may seem like the majority to you because the christians on this blog that are truely trying to listen, understand, and converse in a gracious way, don’t just jump on and comment at every little thing. I don’t think I’ve made a comment in a while and I read everyday on this blog. I’m holding my tongue unless I think I can add something of value to the conversation.

    It may be that once the christians get passed the initial shock of this site (assuming they aren’t drive by’s), then they do tend to want to understand. but of course, you’ll always have an exception to the rule. Also, it’s good to keep in mind that most on this blog have been in both mindsets (as a christian and non-christian). The christians have only been in one mindset so it may take more time to get to a place where they can understand where y’all are comming from.

  • 138. SnugglyBuffalo  |  September 26, 2008 at 5:58 pm

    But this seems to be the minority. It may seem like the majority to you because the christians on this blog that are truely trying to listen, understand, and converse in a gracious way, don’t just jump on and comment at every little thing.

    A perfect example of confirmation bias. It wouldn’t surprise me at all to learn that the vast majority of Christian commenters here are respectful, and that we just have a tendency to only remember the obnoxious ones.

  • 139. Cooper  |  September 26, 2008 at 5:59 pm

    The Old Testament has been found to be about 1000 years younger than thought, and it was written around the first century by Helenized Jews who wrote it in Greek, not Hebrew or Aramaic. The bible is a hoax.

    Joe, resist the desire to debate, resist the desire to debate. I think I might be able to do it. I think I made it past the strong temptation to debate the matter. I don’t believe it, I made it!! I’m not going to debate this issue. :)

  • 140. Cooper  |  September 26, 2008 at 6:09 pm

    I would have to disagree with this. In my experience (and as frequently evidenced on many atheist blogs) they most certainly DO want to reconvert us. In many cases, I won’t say all, it’s the only reason they visit atheist blogs, web sites, etc.

    Digital Dame—

    I do at times engage in “debates” over certain matters, and in the process quote the Bible, and share my testimony. But the main reason I came here in the first place, and still continue to visit is really one of intrigue. Deconversion intrigues me as I have mentioned in other points. I hear the explanations–and i know the people are very sincere—and I really don’t mean to get in a mode of questioning what they are saying, but It is just very hard for me to understand.

    Not that I wouldn’t want to see the people reconvert. Sure–I desire that with all of my heart. I believe the Bible, and worry about the eternal destiny of souls. But I want so badly to understand how one could accept Jesus, really know him, and then come to a place of saying he doesn’t exist any more. This is so foreign to my heart that I cannot get a grip on it.

    I do not mean to insult anyone who has deconverted–becasuse the more I have been here the more I am convinced that many here really did have a “born-again” experience, or at least a strong professed faith in the Lord. It’s the turning away part that I just cannot seem to grasp—it truly bothers me tremendously—I want to understand, and cannot. I am just sharing why I come here—-don’t know about the rest.

  • 141. Wayne Park  |  September 26, 2008 at 6:13 pm

    I’m resisting the desire to debate too, and won’t get on epistemological issues or argue for anything with the use of logic

    BUT

    Cooper, you need to re-check your facts. You’ve mistaken the OT with the Septuagint, which was indeed written in Greek and read by Hellenized Jews. But it was a later copy / translation. So that’s where you’re probably confused.

    But it’s a completely unsubstantiated claim that the OT was written in Greek, 1000 yrs later, and thus, fake. OT texts in Hebrew were dated as far back as the earilest ancient Near Eastern cosmologies, right along side ancient Assyrian / Egyptian manuscripts. Skeptics and scholars alike will concede that much.

    Next time fact-check your sources.

  • 142. Digital Dame  |  September 26, 2008 at 6:19 pm

    Cooper said: “I do not mean to insult anyone who has deconverted–becasuse the more I have been here the more I am convinced that many here really did have a “born-again” experience, or at least a strong professed faith in the Lord.”

    Right away, there’s the suggestion that a de-cons experience was somehow lacking. “Strong professed faith” vs “born-again”.

    It’s the turning away part that I just cannot seem to grasp—it truly bothers me tremendously—I want to understand, and cannot.

    And you never will, while you are a believer. I remember seeing a talk show years ago while I was a believer, a woman who had an, shall we say, “alternative lifestyle”. Someone in the audience pointed out how her lifestyle conflicted with the Bible, and how could she do that, yadda yadda yadda. Her answer floored me. She said, “And if I accepted the Bible and believed that, I would follow it.” I was stunned. At that point it had never occurred to me that someone in this largely Christian country, raised in suburbia, did not accept the Bible and believe what I did. But there she was, big as life and on national tv. It wasn’t until I lost my faith that I was able to see her side of things.

  • 143. Cooper  |  September 26, 2008 at 7:09 pm

    Cooper, you need to re-check your facts

    Wayne—

    I think you misunderstood my post. I copied from a post above saying the Bible was a hoax, and was talking to myself when I said “Joe, resist the desire to debate, resist the desire to debate”. I was kidding—as I often want to immediately jump in and respond to posts like that, and was keeping myself from doing so.

    The one I think you meant to address is DeeVee—see post #134.

  • 144. Cooper  |  September 26, 2008 at 7:15 pm

    Right away, there’s the suggestion that a de-cons experience was somehow lacking. “Strong professed faith” vs “born-again”.

    Digital Dame—

    You are putting words in my mouth. I said:

    “I do not mean to insult anyone who has deconverted–because the more I have been here the more I am convinced that many here really did have a “born-again” experience, or at least a strong professed faith in the Lord.”

    What I was saying is that there are some here who genuinely say they were “born-again”—whereas there are others who simply said they used to be “religious”—or grew up being told there was a God, rather than believing in him themselves at heart.

    I wasn’t inferring any “lack”—-just a difference in the experiences people have shared here.

  • 145. john t.  |  September 26, 2008 at 7:30 pm

    “But the main reason I came here in the first place, and still continue to visit is really one of intrigue. Deconversion intrigues me as I have mentioned in other points”(Cooper)

    Im baffled at how you can listen to what the De Cons say here and not go out and read it and not come to the exact same conclusion. It just blows my mind. Its so obvious that their bang on in their critiques. Man you have some pretty hardcore faith, cause it sure aint reason keeping you there.

  • 146. Cooper  |  September 26, 2008 at 7:45 pm

    Im baffled at how you can listen to what the De Cons say here and not go out and read it and not come to the exact same conclusion. It just blows my mind. Its so obvious that their bang on in their critiques. Man you have some pretty hardcore faith, cause it sure aint reason keeping you there.
    :) You don’t understand how I can believe—and I can’t understand how they came to unbelief. Same problem–different ends of the spectrum.

  • 147. Cooper  |  September 26, 2008 at 7:50 pm

    John t—

    Am I mistaken, or did you say you were a deist? If you are still a deist why haven’t you come to their same conclusion? :) If you’re not a deist, forgive me for stating so.

  • 148. Cooper  |  September 26, 2008 at 8:01 pm

    We may not believe in Santa, but do Christians believe in fire breathing dragons that lived among humans? Job 41. What do Christians do with stuff like this? Is it okay to just stick with broad philosophies and never deal with the devil in the details? excuse the pun.

    Rover–

    Are you referring to Leviathan? Much of Job is very poetic and most scholars believe he is most likely describing a whale or a shark.

    Canst thou draw out leviathan Ps. 74.14 ; 104.26 · Is. 27.1 with a hook? (Job 41:1)

    Canst thou fill his skin with barbed irons?
    or his head with fish spears? (Job 41:7)

    It’s obvious something living in the ocean is being described—if it mentions “breathing fire” it’s most likely a reference to the water spout exhaling as a whale surfaces. But again, it is a very poetic section, and I don’t believe it is meant to be taken literally. Literally in the sense that he is describing a real creature—but figuratively when speaking of it’s complete incorruptibility.

  • 149. john t.  |  September 26, 2008 at 8:01 pm

    Lol……….theres no evidence to point against a creator/driving force…………theres tons of evidence to point against a Christian God. The only label I would use for myself would be Human.

  • 150. john t.  |  September 26, 2008 at 8:07 pm

    You don’t understand how I can believe—and I can’t understand how they came to unbelief. Same problem–different ends of the spectrum.(Cooper)

    Im just curious how you reconcile all the contradictions, errors, and just down right nastiness of many many scriptures. How do you keep a clean conscience believing that your “LOVING GOD” could do the things that is stated emphatically in the bible? Come on, be honest, dont just give us some trite response. Be a man.

  • 151. SnugglyBuffalo  |  September 27, 2008 at 2:15 am

    It’s obvious something living in the ocean is being described—if it mentions “breathing fire” it’s most likely a reference to the water spout exhaling as a whale surfaces. But again, it is a very poetic section, and I don’t believe it is meant to be taken literally. Literally in the sense that he is describing a real creature—but figuratively when speaking of it’s complete incorruptibility.

    Maybe you should re-read the passage to refresh your memory. His description of leviathan explicitly mentions breathing fire from its mouth, that it has a neck, and scales. Aside from the fact that it’s a sea creature, it doesn’t seem to have much in common with a whale at all.

    I would find it more likely that Job is describing a real sea creature that is now extinct than a whale.

    And how do you deal with behemoth?

    So these parts are poetic, and not to be taken literally. Which parts are to be taken literally? I would argue that Genesis is just as poetic and non-literal, but so many Christians take it literally.

  • 152. Loretta E  |  September 27, 2008 at 2:25 am

    To john t; Share the “tons of evidence to point against a Christian God”, please.

    To me, all the anger, humiliation, argument, energy and time I see that has been invested in these pages is a strong indication that those of you who are claiming to be de-cons have simply re-invested the FAITH you once placed in a “Christian God” with a faith in yourselves alone.

    I listen to “scholars” constantly making comments on the one hand about the vastness of the universe and the obvious waste of space, then on the other hand they lift themselves up as human to be mightier and higher than any other being. It’s a little hard to keep up with those inconsistencies. Are we the mighty masters of our universe or are we inferior to the obvious knowledge of alien life. Why is it so easy to believe that there is life on another planet but its impossible to believe that a great and mighty creator designed us and because He designed us, He has a plan for us.?

    I think that in some cases we rebel against God and say He isn’t real simply to delude ourselves thereby rationalizing our behavior.

    As a Christian, I realize that I was created for one purpose and that was to glorify my maker…God. To question His diety is not wrong any more than it is for a two year old to ask his father “why” he can’t have Snickers for breakfast. Yet, I also see my significance, or lack thereof, in relation to the vastness of this universe and for me to supplant myself or even the most “worthy” among all that is living to the same plane as the “God”, “being”, “power”, “force” or whatever other name you would want to attach to the creator of all that is would be a rediculous assertion.

    To your comment regarding, “contraditions, errors, and just down right nastiness of many scriptures…the clean conscience believing that (our) Loving God could do the things that is stated emphatically in the Bible.”… I submit that we are insignificant. Only a spot on an instant in time. We are nothing yet I see so many people who are looking for “where they belong”, “where they fit in”. We are not intended to understand the mind of God. We are not made to be able to know all that there is to know. We are NOTHING. I think people get lost the most when they go out to intentionally”find THEMSELVES” Notice that the confussion and misdirection occurs when we take our focus off our creator and place it on ourselves.

    I don’t mean to come off as anywhere close to having a direct line to God or that everything makes sene to me because I don’t and it doesn’t. I just know that for me, everthing makes sense to me when I just trust God to take care of me. And He has!

    He has taken me through being molested as a 5 year old. he has taken me through being forced to remain in the same home with the person until I was 17 to endure repeated molestations. He has been there beside me through all those years as my mother accused me and my sister of trying to take her abusive husband away from her (we were 5). He has been beside me as my eldest son lived a life of homosexuality and terrible drug abuse. He was beside me as I handed my 9 week old only daughter over to heart surgeons for open heart surgury.

    He has never left my side for my whole life. The only time I ever was out of His presence was when I walked away to “live MY life”. i bought in to what the rest of the people around me were saying and decided it was MY life and I should be able to live it how I wanted. Well, as the Bible says, “Sin is good for a seson”. But it was like a Snickers for breakfast….just empty calories.

    I don’t know why or how I got on to this site tonight but something is odd to me. If you are so certain of your own de-conversion, why this? Why take the time to sit down in front of your computers for however long you do each day to repeatedly voice your version of the “mysteries of life” Have you honestly placed yourselves to such a position a to be wiser than the wisest of all time? This is “the great debate”! But why! If your so sure your right….just walk away and live the remainder of your lives basking in the knowledge of your own self importance? Who are you REALLY trying to convince?

  • 153. Quester  |  September 27, 2008 at 3:22 am

    I’m beginning to think we should create a scorecard rating those who post without having anything of substance to say. What do you all think?

    =======================================
    Scorecard: scoring multiple times in a category provides a cumulative score. Maximim score = 105pts.

    Grammar, syntax and punctuation-
    1pt. Simple typos, other simple errors.
    2pts. Multiple exclamation points.
    3pts. Randomly capitalized WORDS.
    4pts. “Quoting” certain “words” for emphasis.
    5pts. L33T SPe4k!!!!1!11

    Bible quotes-
    1 pt. New Testament
    2 pts. Old Testament
    3 pts. Both Testaments, or non-Christian Holy scripture.
    4 pts. King James only.
    5 pts. Contradicts the quoted scripture with the rest of the content of the post.

    Once was lost, now is found-
    1pt. Used to use mild swears and ogle underwear models.
    2pts. Abused alcohol.
    3pts. Abused drugs.
    4pts. Abused people.
    5pts. Recovered any of the above with no withdrawal symptoms or other negative, lasting consequences.

    Jesus saved me-
    1pt. From my sins.
    2pts. The tragedy I suffered could have been worse.
    3pts. I am a survivor of abuse.
    4pts. The doctors say it was a miracle.
    5pts. My salvation was a free gift of grace. Others are not saved in the same way because of something they have done or failed to do.

    Confessed ignorance-
    1pt. I don’t know why the world is the way it is.
    2pts. I don’t pretend to understand this science stuff.
    3pts. I don’t understand why scripture portrays God as evil.
    4pts. I don’t actually have a reason to believe in God.
    5pts. I don’t know why you don’t immediately agree with my baseless speculations in spite of my declared ignorance.

    Still, I know you better than you know yourselves-
    1pt. You were never really a Christian.
    2pts. You are not really an atheist.
    3pts. You were betrayed by a religion or the religious.
    4pts. You want to worship yourself.
    5pts. I show some sign of having read the Convenient categories post, and still try to employ one of the convenient categories.

    Sign off-
    1pt. God bless you.
    2pts. I’m praying for you.
    3pts. IM PRAYING 4 U!!!!!!!!!
    4pts. Implied threat or accusation.
    5pts. God still loves you, but will throw you into Hell if you don’t shape up.
    ===============================

    Too cynical? Troll food? Some categories I should have included but didn’t? Some categories unnecessary? Should we award prizes?

  • 154. Quester  |  September 27, 2008 at 3:24 am

    1pt. Simple typos, other simple errors

    Such as spelling Maximum as Maximim. Sigh.

  • 155. Digital Dame  |  September 27, 2008 at 5:54 am

    To bobbi jo (if you’re still around):

    To my point in comment 136, please see comment 152 which is so riddled with logical fallacies and non sequiturs I don’t know where to begin. She really kind of makes the de-cons argument without even realizing it.

    Quester: she hits most of your points in 153 :) Priceless.

  • 156. john t.  |  September 27, 2008 at 8:15 am

    Digital and Quester

    Damn, who would have thought, considering my comment was directed at Cooper. ;) ……..

  • 157. john t.  |  September 27, 2008 at 8:22 am

    He has been there beside me through all those years as my mother accused me and my sister of trying to take her abusive husband away from her (we were 5). He has been beside me as my eldest son lived a life of homosexuality and terrible drug abuse. He was beside me as I handed my 9 week old only daughter over to heart surgeons for open heart surgury.

    He has never left my side for my whole life. The only time I ever was out of His presence was when I walked away to “live MY life”. i bought in to what the rest of the people around me were saying and decided it was MY life and I should be able to live it how I wanted. (Loretta)

    Not sure if you noticed how many times you used “me” and “my” while writing this drivel. You dont seem to be to concerned about anyone elses eternal soul, just your own. Trust me you dont have exclusivity when it comes to pain in life. The thing is, God may have been beside you but unfortunately it seems he didnt want to get in front to shelter you.

  • 158. silentj  |  September 27, 2008 at 8:26 am

    Loretta E,

    Most of the Decon lead posts are about sharing decon stories or alternative ideas, such as the series on existentialism. The blog is a place for people who are decons but still dealing with or living in a largely a Christian community.

    If you read most of the posts, usually the decons aren’t trying to convince anyone not to believe so much as address the Christians who come on here and try to tell us why we should believe (such as yourself.)

    “If your so sure your right….just walk away and live the remainder of your lives basking in the knowledge of your own self importance?”

    1. Nobody on here thinks they are particularly important. We know we’re simply tiny creatures in a big universe. None of us claim that an omnipotent god knows how many hairs we have on our head and talks to us everyday, having a special plan for us. I ask you, who really has a sense of self importance? The people who are tiny creatures or the people who think the ultimate force in the universe has daily conversations with them?

    2. We can walk away from faith, but we can’t walk away from a largely faith based community. And the evangelicals make it awfully hard to just live your life, especially when they’re trying to get Supreme Court justices nominated and change the laws in our communities to validate their god.

  • 159. Loretta E  |  September 27, 2008 at 9:31 am

    Did I touch a nerve?

  • 160. writerdd  |  September 27, 2008 at 9:54 am

    He has taken me through being molested as a 5 year old. he has taken me through being forced to remain in the same home with the person until I was 17 to endure repeated molestations.

    I’m so sorry you had to live through such a horrible ordeal.

    But I must ask, if your God is really so powerful and loving, why didn’t he rescue you? He seems pretty impotent to me if all he can do is comfort you but he can’t rescue you from one of the worst things that can happen to a child.

  • 161. Anonymous  |  September 27, 2008 at 9:55 am

    159. Loretta E | September 27, 2008 at 9:31 am
    Did I touch a nerve?

    I’m guessing you trollishly wanted to.

  • 162. writerdd  |  September 27, 2008 at 9:58 am

    But why! If your so sure your right….just walk away and live the remainder of your lives basking in the knowledge of your own self importance? Who are you REALLY trying to convince?

    I’m not here to convince anyone. I’m here to help other people like me who are trapped and who want to escape. There is life after fundamentalism. There is joy and peace and meaning without God. I want people who are afraid because they are losing their faith to know that they don’t have to be afraid.

    For those who are happy living with their faith, whatever. I might ask, why are you here if you are so confident that you are right and there is no doubt lurking in the dark corners of your mind?

  • 163. Digital Dame  |  September 27, 2008 at 12:54 pm

    As Catherine Aird said, “If you can’t be a good example, then you’ll just have to serve as a horrible warning.”

    I think we can put Loretta in the “horrible warning” column as an example of what happens when you surrender your brain and all critical thinking skills.

  • 164. silentj  |  September 27, 2008 at 1:53 pm

    Loretta,

    “Did I touch a nerve?”

    Either you’re an idiot or incredibly rude. Let me recap:

    Decons have a place on the WWW to come together, share experiences, and discuss issues connected to what it means to de-convert. You come to the place we have community and tell us that we are full of ourselves, act like two year olds, and pretentious. You make no attempt to understand the community, but, instead, make the EXACT kind of post that the creator of thread is discussing.

    Then you have audacity to suggest that you’ve some how tapped into some secret part of us that we want to repress with your “did i touch a nerve” comment.

    Let me put this plainly: you offer nothing new, penetrating, or insightful to the conversation. If you are not here to genuinely enter the dialogue, please go away. If you have genuine questions about what we think, I encourage you to be more respectful and make less assumptions about us like your suggestion that we are attempting to be our own personal gods. Most of the common posters here are rather humble. However, not many of us are going to tolerate someone who comes in here and projects their stereotypical babble about who we are and then judge us on that stereotype.

  • 165. orDover  |  September 27, 2008 at 2:44 pm

    You make no attempt to understand the community, but, instead, make the EXACT kind of post that the creator of thread is discussing.

    Kind of funny, isn’t it? I have to admit, it’s nice to have all of my points so explicitly validated.

  • 166. SnugglyBuffalo  |  September 27, 2008 at 6:15 pm

    Kind of funny, isn’t it? I have to admit, it’s nice to have all of my points so explicitly validated.

    Only sad part is she probably feels the exact same way :(

  • 167. Rose  |  September 27, 2008 at 6:21 pm

    My faith has fluctuated over the years, I’ve always longed to hear from God, as I believe many of us have, I’ve wanted to know that the ideas rushing through my mind were not just of me. I’ve wanted to hear him, to know I am not alone. Not totally insignificant. However, I could go for years without hearing him, and yet I still wanted to believe, that I was truly faithful, I doubt, but my want to believe was constant and sure.

    Ideas opposed my faith, or want of faith, at all times. Like evolution, for example. But I found I believe in evolution, just as I know believe in God. I believe that the time spent in the Garden of Eden in the book of Genesis was millions upon millions of years all called seven very very long days, and over these millions of years God transformed life on Earth. Its hard not to believe this as there is proof on Earth of evolution, and as there is proof in my life, and the lives around me that God exists. I’ve witnessed miracles that astound, and make no natural, physical sense, I’ve felt presences that show me that there is something else out there.

    As for whatever kind of proof you may want, I don’t believe any one can provide that, but in the words of Martin Luther King, Jr, “Faith is taking the first step, even when you do not see the whole staircase.”

    I believe in God, but I do not believe I am a Christian at this point in my life, as many others who call themselves “Christians” are un-Christ-like (by Christ-like I mean of the teachings and workings of Jesus Christ, i.e. loving enemies, serving the poor, etc.), and some can be very painfully patronizing. My faith is a relationship with God. He works in and through me, and changes my views on people and the world. But thats all it really is, a relationship that we either involve ourselves in or not.

    But please, please, please do not let Christians affect your sense of, or ideas on, spirituality, there is nothing that can prove that faith is legitimate, there is nothing that can give you a reason why something is a right or a wrong thing to believe. There is just belief, and relationship with God. You keep expecting someone to change your mind and give you concrete evidence, but it is impossible, faith is not physical, it is spiritual, so there is really nothing to prove. Its up to you to believe or not to believe.

  • 168. Anonymous  |  September 27, 2008 at 6:53 pm

    Cooper

    “…but figuratively when speaking of it’s complete incorruptibility.” What????

    thanks for answering my question in post 148, but I have a problem with your exegesis. It is God who is speaking in Job 41 and describing something that Job should be able to see. He is giving Job a pratical lesson in order to make a very point. Describing this as poetic or figurative language is really not valid. God is telling Job to consider the fire breathing sea creature. What leads you to conclude it is poetic? Maybe its a dragon? Do you also take the 6 day creation as poetic? and the beginning of various languages at Babel poetically? and a worldwide flood poetically. If so, how can you separate the poetic from the literal? Most conservative Christians take all of these things as being literal. What special knowledge do you have?

    s

  • 169. Quester  |  September 27, 2008 at 7:36 pm

    Thank-you, Rose, for pointing out a shamefully missed category in my slightly satirical scorecard up in comment #153. This raises the maximum possible score to 120pts.

    I’m not a typical Christian-
    1pt. Christianity is not a religion, it’s a relationship.
    2pts. I’m bothered by the hypocricy of the church.
    3pts. The Bible does not contain facts, but it does reveal truths.
    4pts. The Christian message is a poetic guideline of how best to live life here and now. There is no afterlife; this world and this life, properly understood, is the Kingdom of God.
    5pts. It’s not actually possible to explain how my worldview has anything to do with any even vaguely comprehensible description of Christianity ever heard of, but I insist I am a Christian (or Christ-follower).

  • 170. orDover  |  September 27, 2008 at 7:59 pm

    Quester, your scoring system deserves to be mad into it’s own post. :)

  • 171. Erudite Redneck  |  September 27, 2008 at 9:54 pm

    Quester, I, too, like yer system. The only change I’d make is to 4pts., where I would say “I hope for eternal life, whatever that means, but in the meantime this world and this life, properly understood, is the Kingdom of God.”

    orDover, I just stumbled in here. I am a Christian, although I often prefer to call myself a Jesusian. I aim to always be respectful and to try to love and let love, and live and let live, in Jesus’s name.

  • 172. orDover  |  September 27, 2008 at 10:26 pm

    Quester, I think somewhere in there, maybe as an addendum to “I’m not a typical Christian” pt. 1 you should add something along the lines of “I’m not a Christian, I’m just a follower of Christ,” or “I’m not a Christian, I just have a personal relationship with Jesus, or even “I’m not a Christian, I’m a Jesusian.”

  • 173. john t.  |  September 27, 2008 at 10:27 pm

    I aim to always be respectful and to try to love and let love, and live and let live, in Jesus’s name.(redneck)

    Why not just Live and Love in your name?

  • 174. The Apostate  |  September 28, 2008 at 2:28 am

    Erudite,

    orDover, I just stumbled in here. I am a Christian, although I often prefer to call myself a Jesusian. I aim to always be respectful and to try to love and let love, and live and let live, in Jesus’s name.

    I am simply wondering how you gain this perspective from the life and teachings of Jesus, according to the four canonical (or any non-canonical for that matter) gospels? From my many years of study of such narratives, the “live and let live” mentality seems missing from his lifestyle and teachings. Have you tried Buddhism or the various New Age movements?

  • 175. Quester  |  September 28, 2008 at 3:12 am

    OrDover,

    I thought of making it an article, kind of a humour piece, but I try to make my actual articles a bit more thought-provoking than this little joke.

    As for “I’m just a Christ-follower” or “just a Jesusian”, I’d call that the equivalent of “Christianity is not a religion, it’s a relationship.” What I have listed beside the points on the scorecard are examples, not iron-clad rules, and I’d rather not get them overly complicated.

    So post 171 is only worth one point.

  • 176. The Nerd  |  September 28, 2008 at 4:08 am

    Oh, wow! That’s a lot of comments, mostly from people who “doth protest too much”.

    Anyway, I just want to say well done on your post. Keep it up!

  • 177. The de-Convert  |  September 28, 2008 at 7:20 am

    Quester,

    Thought provoking humor is also possible :)

    Paul

  • 178. samanthamj  |  September 28, 2008 at 11:08 am

    I’m echoing post 176 and from The Nerd….

    Great post!

  • 179. LorettaE  |  September 28, 2008 at 1:32 pm

    (158) So, based upon your own postings your minds are closed to the subject of God’s existance?

    (158.1) That’s the beauty of God, He is big enough to create the universe and all that is in it yet, attentive and loving enough to know everything there is to know about each and every creature He has placed in it.

    (149) I truly would like to hear more on the “tons of evidence”

  • 180. writerdd  |  September 28, 2008 at 1:48 pm

    attentive and loving enough to know everything there is to know about each and every creature He has placed in it.

    Loretta, then how come he let you be abused for so many years? That does not sound like a loving and attentive God to me. Sounds like schmuck.

  • 181. john t.  |  September 28, 2008 at 3:04 pm

    Loretta

    If I or any of the De Cons on here showed you “tons of evidence” that point against the idea of a Christian God, would you believe it?

  • 182. Erudite Redneck  |  September 28, 2008 at 4:02 pm

    Re, “Why not just Live and Love in your name?”

    Well, I do that, too.

    ER said: “I aim to always be respectful and to try to love and let love, and live and let live, in Jesus’s name.”

    THE APOSTATE said: “I am simply wondering how you gain this perspective from the life and teachings of Jesus, according to the four canonical (or any non-canonical for that matter) gospels? From my many years of study of such narratives, the ‘live and let live’ mentality seems missing from his lifestyle and teachings.”

    “Live and let live” is embodied in every instance where Jesus is depicted as having blown through the restrictions of the Law. And, I’d say live and let live, and love and let love, are the very bases of the whole “there is neither Jew nor Greek nor man nor woman, etc., in Christ” message.

    As for the Bible in general, I see it as the best place to start for a Christian, or Jesusian, or Christ follower, to figure out how to live. Best start, not the end all-be all. Further, absense of a thing, or an idea, in Scripture is certainly not an admonition not to do, or think, that thing.

  • 183. LorettaE  |  September 28, 2008 at 4:44 pm

    (180) God did not cause my mother’s actions or her husband’s actions. What He did do was preserve my mind and soul. I have seen and know men and women that have come from better situations than mine that are bitter, angry, and selfdestructive because of their past.

    God has kept that from me and because He has I can share what He has done for me.

    Your argument that God doesn’t exist because He allows bad things to happen doesn’t make sense. He created all of mankind with, yes i’m gonna say it, free will.

    When I was going through the horrible things that happened, God was exactly where He was when every other person throughout all humanity that has been hurt was….standing beside me, holding my hand.

    No, I am not suggesting that I have some magical relationship with God. Everyone on earth has the same opportunity. Jesus Christ gave His sinless life so that you and everyone else could choose to develop that relationship or not.

    My question would be, why is it God’s fault that humans do horrible things to each other.

    Night after night when I went to bed, I would read my Bible and fall asleep completely secure because the worst thing that could happen to me on this earth was death and because of Christ…that would, ironically, be the best thing that could happen to me.

    If you have read the Bible you are aware that this earth was given to Satan by God when he was cast down from Heaven. That explains a lot of what happens here on earth to me.

    The comment was made earlier about why a Christian would visit a site such as this. Here is why I’m here. I was looking for funny apps to put on my mySpace page and my search brought me to this site. Call it what ever you will but I have to wonder why and how a search for apps would lead me here.

    ?God?

    (181) Could you answer a similar question from me? Because, if I say yes, you would intimate that maybe my faith isn’t as secure as I say. If I say no, you would be wasting your time to show me. So…I won’t answer your question. However, I would like to see some of the evidence anyway. Humor me?

  • 184. LeoPardus  |  September 28, 2008 at 5:29 pm

    LorettaE:

    Any of the posts with the word “Reasons” in the title will give you some of the “evidence”.

  • 185. silentj  |  September 28, 2008 at 6:16 pm

    (158) So, based upon your own postings your minds are closed to the subject of God’s existance?

    No. But, I’m not interested in further exploring the existence of a god until some evidence is presented. Holy scripture is not enough. I want to see clear, unambiguous evidence that a god exists. I would probably reconvert on the spot. As it is now, all we have are a bunch of people with different holy texts, all claiming that they feel and know the one true god.

    (158.1) That’s the beauty of God, He is big enough to create the universe and all that is in it yet, attentive and loving enough to know everything there is to know about each and every creature He has placed in it.

    The story is beautiful. The Hebrew god is definitely an improvement on the Greek, Roman, and Norris gods. Although, those classic stories are more fun. Again, I see no evidence of such a god you describe in reality.

    (149) I truly would like to hear more on the “tons of evidence”

    The burden is on those who claim to believe in god. However, to quickly sum up:
    1. No evidence that prayer works
    2. god’s importance in understanding the world continually gets pushed more and more to the back with scientific research.
    3. no significant, clear miracles since, apparently, the time of Christ.
    4. no evidence other than stories that a god exists
    5. no discernible difference between the happiness, morality, or livelihood of believers, believers of different faiths, or non-believers.
    6. All of the evidence argued for one faith can be equally argued for any other faith. The only difference is some theological works stay strictly in the realm of myth while others bring in human stories.

    That’s the bulk of it.

  • 186. john t.  |  September 28, 2008 at 6:31 pm

    Whew……….I was feeling a little lazy on a Sunday afternoon, didnt want to have to find all the easy answers. Thanks. Silentj and Leo.

  • 187. OneSmallStep  |  September 28, 2008 at 6:45 pm

    Loretta,

    When I was going through the horrible things that happened, God was exactly where He was when every other person throughout all humanity that has been hurt was….standing beside me, holding my hand.

    I’m happy that you were able to survive something like this, and that you sound like you’re trying not to let that encounter dictate the rest of your life. However, do you understand why many find events such as reasons for a God not existing?

    Say a five year old was molested, and we all asked where the parents were. If the answer was “The parents were right beside the child, holding her hand the entire time,” we would all be horrified at such behavior of the parents for not stepping in and preventing the molestation. If anything, the parents would no doubt be arrested and facing a trial. Yet when faced with an all-loving, all-powerful, all-knowing God, the comfort offered by God is significantly less than what a parent is called to do in those situations.

    Even with the idea of free will — our society places restrictions on free will. Parents stop their children from dangerous decisions. People are judged if they do nothing when another person is attacked. If in either situation, the parents or people said they were merely respecting the perpetrator’s free will, would we find that acceptable?

  • 188. samanthamj  |  September 28, 2008 at 7:31 pm

    I also agree with SilentJ, and OneSmallStep…

    And the old “Well, God works in mysterious ways” response, just doesn’t cut it for me anymore when posed with these kinds of questions/reasoning..

  • 189. onscrn  |  September 28, 2008 at 9:15 pm

    There’s too much here to read at one time. So let me add one more comment.

    As one who was raised a Methodist and then, sometime in high school, became an atheist, only to realize I had been totally wrong on the most important question of existence about forty years later, let me say that there is a way back. Just keep an open mind and don’t focus on Christianity or, especially, the literal truth of the Bible as the alternative to the intellectually unsatisfactory idea of the Universe in all its marvelous live-giving complexity as “just the way it is.” Once you recognize God exists, then you can start trying to figure out what God is like and whether God has revealed Himself.

    I wrote something about my own reflections in a couple of posts to my blog. One is called On the Breaking of Bad Habits Acquired in One’s Youth: Smoking and Atheism and the other Conversations in the Clubhouse of Truly Smart People.

  • 190. SnugglyBuffalo  |  September 28, 2008 at 9:21 pm

    OneSmallStep, I couldn’t have criticized that comment better. If I stood by holding someone’s hand while something terrible happened to them, I’d consider myself a pretty despicable person. But for some reason the religious are willing to give God a pass on this.

    Loretta-

    The comment was made earlier about why a Christian would visit a site such as this. Here is why I’m here. I was looking for funny apps to put on my mySpace page and my search brought me to this site. Call it what ever you will but I have to wonder why and how a search for apps would lead me here.

    ?God?

    It’s far more likely that your search tweaked on some word on this blog. The search algorithms you use on the web aren’t perfect. Especially when you try to combine it with the ambiguity of natural language. That a search can bring up a seemingly unrelated page is completely expected. That your search happened to bring up a blog of non-believers is mere coincidence. That your search brought you here is no more than a coincidence the same way that an unfiltered image search for “churros” can sometimes bring up decidedly non-Mexican-snack images of a very disturbing nature…

  • 191. bipolar2  |  September 28, 2008 at 9:44 pm

    De-conversion is just a start. Anti-authoritarianism is just a start.
    Good starts to be sure . . . now to move from mythological thinking to conceptual reasoning.

    ** many religious ideologies will do if . . . you just give in **

    • worldly benefits prove nothing about otherworldly claims

    The earliest xians certainly received benefits in the-here-and-now for their faith: physical and psychological comfort, especially a nurturing of revenge.

    Of course, xianity still has something to offer as it has for 2,000 years — but psychological comfort, decent burial of the dead, communal action, pathways for employment, and opportunities for “martyrdom” are irrelevant to any Christological claim made first by Paul or later writers of Jesus legends whether accepted into xian orthodoxy or not.

    Any member of any sect within islam, xianity, judaism, or zoroastrianism (the big-4 monotheisms) can cite his myths, cultic practices, and endlessly circular commentary to equal effect. What uplifts me, what comforts me, what I’m willing to die for . . . is no evidence whatsoever that any otherworldly belief is true. (Such reasoning exemplifies a good old-fashioned ignoratio elenchi — lack of any logical connection between premises and conclusion.)

    • Xian nihilism and its self-righteous inverted elitism arise simultaneously.

    No single passage better exemplifies xian anti-intellectualism than Paul’s words in 1Cor1:1-28 damning Greek philosophy. This letter contains Paul’s hateful fideistic response to the jews who threw him out of synagogues in Palestine and to the epicurean and stoic philosophers who hooted him off of the Areopagus in Athens.

    20 . . . Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 . . . God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. 22 Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles . . . . 1Cor1:20-23 NIV with omissions.

    In short, Paul created a god glorifying his nihilistic values and offering an inverted elitism to all who would believe in absurdities. Paul cheerfully calls himself, “a fool for Christ.”

    27-But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 28-He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are . . . 1Cor1:26-28 NIV

    In a delightful line, an early philosophical critic, Celsus enquires, “…Who are we to believe a rabble of [jewish and xian] prophets, or the [Greek] philosophers?” (True Doctrine p.108) It’s a rhetorical question. Any fool can see that.

    In his “On the genealogy of morals” (1886), Nietzsche cites Paul’s verses as the sine qua non of xian resentment giving birth to values completely antithetical to those of Greco-Roman thought. It took 500 years of very lucky breaks and seized opportunities before xianity finally destroyed every vestige of humanism for 1,000 years.

    • get beyond the subjective circle of personal anecdote

    A refusal to reason (Paul’s ‘foolishness’) must end in blind, arrogant fideism — any cult can get away with that — even large, well-funded, world endangering ones, like xianity and islam.

    I suggest that you take a look at the following works which provide evidence against any of the big-4 monotheisms, especially xianity:

    Dodds, ER. Pagan and Christian in an Age of Anxiety 1963
    Wilkins, R. The Christians as the Romans Saw Them 1984

    Celsus. On the True Doctrine, A Discourse Against the Christians (178 CE) trans. Hoffmann 1987
    Barnstone, W. (ed.) The Other Bible, Ancient Alternative Scriptures 1984

    Onfray, M. Atheist Manifesto. 2006

    Also, for the self-righteous xian responders to this post. Do an inventory of your own apologetic stance against the monotheistic cousins of xianity. Why are others’ metaphysical claims untrue and yours true? Then turn your arguments on your own views. You’ll refute yourself.

    bipolar2 ©2008

  • 192. silentj  |  September 28, 2008 at 9:51 pm

    “Why are others’ metaphysical claims untrue and yours true? Then turn your arguments on your own views. You’ll refute yourself.”

    In short, the crux of the argument.

  • 193. silentj  |  September 28, 2008 at 10:13 pm

    onscrn,

    I read through the majority of your blog posts. I appreciate that you want to pass enlightenment to the angry youth. However, I think you actually make a much more dangerous claim than you realize. Essentially, you say you have to open yourself up and let God reveal himself. Well, many men in Muslim countries have opened themselves up to God and took in his revelation. They flew some airplanes into some buildings and drove some cars into buildings around the world. So, who’s to say which person is opening themselves up the correct way and who’s to say which revelation is the message of a true god. Perhaps you could claim that Muslim extremists and the nutty Religious Right fundamentalists are simply victims of indoctrination or propaganda. However, what separates your revelation of God from theirs, other than you’ve seen God as more peaceful? Couldn’t your revelation be as much a matter of conditioning as the violent extremists?

    People all over the world open themselves up and pray. The fact that they arrive at such different conclusions after the conversation is one of the main reasons why I’m an atheist.

  • 194. orDover  |  September 28, 2008 at 10:20 pm

    That a search can bring up a seemingly unrelated page is completely expected.

    Just to belabor the point, the most popular search terms that have brought people to my blog are “how to put together a WWJD bracelet,” because I have the phrase “I was a WWJD bracelet wearing teen” in my post about my de-conversion.

  • 195. onscrn  |  September 29, 2008 at 9:51 am

    silentj,

    The first question is whether God exists. This is a different question from whether any existing religion or person has an accurate and complete understanding of God. Logically speaking, the mere fact that some people have mistaken ideas of what behavior God’s existence calls for is no more an argument against God’s existence than the existence of competing (some at least, necessarily wrong) scientific explanations about some natural phenomenon is an argument against the existence of the phenomenon.

    At a critical point in the evolution of my thought, I was moved to read a book by John Polkinghorne that eloquently made arguments touching on all of the “funny” aspects of the world I had already been pondering, including the fine-tuning of physical laws and our innate sense of morality and beauty.

    My experience was that once I came to see that God the Creator had to exist, mainly through my observations of the world, then I experienced what that truly meant in a way that went far beyond intellectual opinion. And I then had before me the task of figuring out what this new, supremely important knowledge of God’s existence meant for my life. I feel sure that any notion that God needs physical help through force and violence to bring about God’s ideal state on Earth is wrong and contrary to God’s basic nature, so I can rule out certain religious strains right away.

  • 196. orDover  |  September 29, 2008 at 10:35 am

    At a critical point in the evolution of my thought, I was moved to read a book by John Polkinghorne that eloquently made arguments touching on all of the “funny” aspects of the world I had already been pondering, including the fine-tuning of physical laws and our innate sense of morality and beauty.

    I think it could be well argued that neither the sense of morality nor beauty are innate, but rather complex social constructions. There are a few moral ideals that seem to be common to all social groups, such as not stealing or committing senseless murder, but other than that everything becomes blurred and subjective, to the point where some cultures seen cannibalism as a moral duty, and other see it as the worst imaginable crime. As for beauty, cultures produce their own unique ideals, many of which exist contrarily to other cultures’ ideals, and which also happen to evolve over time. For example, West African art that valued thinness, elongation, and angularity at a time when European art valued plumpness, voluptuousness, and roundness. Which is innately beautiful? The same can even be said for the appreciation of nature. It’s all contingent upon where you live and what era you’re living in. And to say that we all experience morality, regardless of the morals, and we all experience beauty, regardless of the ideals seems, in my opinion, to take all of the wind out of the argument, especially when the concept of a social construct is brought into the fray.

  • 197. VorJack  |  September 29, 2008 at 11:00 am

    The first question is whether God exists. This is a different question from whether any existing religion or person has an accurate and complete understanding of God.

    True enough, but I would submit that the second question is just as important as the first. The variety of ways that the divine is depicted points to the extreme difficulty of saying anything certain about God. But if we cannot say anything about God with certainty, then what good does the statement that “God Exists” do for us?

    To turn one of your statements around, look at “fine-tuning.” It’s an interesting idea, but I feel it falls prey to the confirmation bias. Fine tuning has produced certain tiny islands where life can exist – and vast, vast areas that are hostile to all forms of life that we can imagine. Wouldn’t it be just as easy, based on this evidence, to say that God is hostile to life as it would be to say that it encourages life? And if so, how does this affect our understanding of the nature of God?

  • 198. bobbi jo  |  September 29, 2008 at 12:08 pm

    Hi! I have been away for the weekend and haven’t read some of the posts cuz it’s getting too long. But anyway, just wondering if anyone knows where the myth of the dragon started? Besides the Bible. If anyone could point me to a few good research sites on the subject. Thanks! I have my own theories on the passage in Job but don’t feel like being put down today. :) So I want to research it first and see if I’m even remotely close.

    I think there may have been something else that was addressed to me, but again, I’m being lazy. (Long night of baby being sick). If anyone wants to re-ask a question, go ahead. Thanks!

    Ps-Quester, does it count as a spelling pt if I use cuz intead of because? It’s just shorter. Or same with y’all, imo, btw, ect…

  • 199. bobbi jo  |  September 29, 2008 at 12:30 pm

    “There are a few moral ideals that seem to be common to all social groups, such as not stealing or committing senseless murder, but other than that everything becomes blurred and subjective, to the point where some cultures seen cannibalism as a moral duty,”

    Ordover- where are we we pulling these common morals from? it seems to me that we can pull morals from an absolute truth when it fits our need to do so. And don’t tell me it (common morals) came from evolution because then some of it wouldn’t be subjective. Our cultures would not be so different if we had some innate wiring from evolution. But indeed they are different so I wonder where the common morals started? and didn’t you just refute yourself saying that a common moral is killing senselessly, yet canibalism is okay in some cultures? That wouldn’t be a common moral anymore.

    I’m not trying to argue, I am interested in where evolution would stand on this? Y’all are smart people and I can usually find some great answers here or someone points me somewhere where I can find some other answers. But don’t make the reading too long as my eyelids are already falling…

  • 200. onscrn  |  September 29, 2008 at 12:43 pm

    But if we cannot say anything about God with certainty, then what good does the statement that “God Exists” do for us?

    It’s not the statement; it’s the fact. To me, realizing God existed meant the universe had a purpose. Of course, that is just the beginning, but it is of the utmost importance.

    Wouldn’t it be just as easy, based on this evidence, to say that God is hostile to life…?

    No, I wouldn’t say that at all. The fine-tuning is relative to alternative universes in which no stars would have formed, or in which the universe would have collapsed immediately after the big bang, or in which water wouldn’t have all of its highly unusual (but necessary for life properties) etc. etc.. The vast distances between potentially life-supporting planets are due to the laws of the universe, which had they been the slightest bit different, would not have allowed life at all. Furthermore, I see the majestic beauty of those “hostile” places, the stars and galaxies set against the dark of space, as communicating something.

  • 201. SnugglyBuffalo  |  September 29, 2008 at 1:11 pm

    Ahh, the good ol’ Anthropic Principle.

    Things are the way they are, because otherwise they’d be different.

    And you don’t even consider the reverse; perhaps the universe is not fine-tuned for life, but rather life has fine-tuned itself to the universe? We have a very small sample-size of universes: one. Perhaps in universes with different physical laws, life would arise in completely different forms. The fine-tuned argument is one of the weaker ones I’ve seen. It’s an interesting thing to consider, but it’s not even strong evidence of anything, much less a god.

  • 202. VorJack  |  September 29, 2008 at 2:12 pm

    onscrn -To me, realizing God existed meant the universe had a purpose.

    Why?

    It seem to me that you are projecting your own desires into the mind of God – and we’re not even sure we can use the word “mind” when referring to an immaterial entity.

    Do humans always create things in order that they might have a purpose? No. We might create something simply for the joy of creation, or as an experiment just to see what we can do. We even create by accident sometimes; think of the number of children created by accident.

    Have we given a purpose to our creations in these cases? No. And these are all human examples. God, if it exists, must be alien to our understanding. Who among us can claim to understand why such a being would create anything? How can you assert that God’s creation must have been given a purpose without clearing this hurdle?

    And what other creations could this being have made? We cannot say. A universe with ether, perhaps? Or phlogiston? [I love that word. You don't get enough chances to use it.] Imagine a universe where enough substance exists in space that some species could leave the atmosphere and ride the solar winds – like Lovecraft’s Elder Beings, flying from planet to planet. Why not? If God is somehow capable of programing physics, why not create things in a way more favorable to life? Why restrict life to a few little miniatures when he could have a mural?

  • 203. john t.  |  September 29, 2008 at 3:00 pm

    Why restrict life to a few little miniatures when he could have a mural?(Vorjack)

    A designer/creator/energy could have made it that way so we have to evolve to obtain those abilities. Who knows, maybe its a puzzle, a game, a Mystery and our trying to figure it out is all part of it. Or maybe not, lol, cant prove it one way or the other. I like imagining a designer though. I wont force that thought on you ;)

  • 204. BigHouse  |  September 29, 2008 at 3:09 pm

    I like imagining a designer though. I wont force that thought on you

    So long as you admit that you are imagining, not reasoning his existence.

  • 205. onscrn  |  September 29, 2008 at 3:11 pm

    Predictably, based on my earlier experience (Conversations in the Clubhouse of Truly Smart People), these interchanges are sinking into somewhat condescending displays of erudition in supposed well-known refutations of arguments for God.

    On the question of purpose in the universe, I think that if and when you come to realize God exists, you will also realize that there is a purpose to Creation, though that may not seem obvious from where you currently stand.

    My own purpose in my original comment (189) here was to make a distinction between recognizing the existence of God and deciding that a given religion was true. I was not trying to convince anyone of anything beyond that, which I thought was important.

  • 206. writerdd  |  September 29, 2008 at 3:19 pm

    My own purpose in my original comment (189) here was to make a distinction between recognizing the existence of God and deciding that a given religion was true. I was not trying to convince anyone of anything beyond that, which I thought was important.

    Yes, it is important and thank you. I am not sure, however, that everyone who posits the existence of god(s) automatically concludes that the universe is endowed with meaning by that god. You can be a nihilist and still believe in god(s), you can create your own meaning and purpose with or without believing.

  • 207. orDover  |  September 29, 2008 at 3:21 pm

    bobbi jo,
    Ordover- where are we we pulling these common morals from? it seems to me that we can pull morals from an absolute truth when it fits our need to do so. And don’t tell me it (common morals) came from evolution because then some of it wouldn’t be subjective. Our cultures would not be so different if we had some innate wiring from evolution. But indeed they are different so I wonder where the common morals started? and didn’t you just refute yourself saying that a common moral is killing senselessly, yet canibalism is okay in some cultures? That wouldn’t be a common moral anymore.

    The common morals (not stealing, not fruitlessly murdering) did indeed come from evolution, and that is the reason that they are the only ones truly common to all social groups. They are the morals that help people live together as a group, which in turn helps them to survive as a species. It boils down to basic common sense: if you want to have a successful group, you can’t have people stealing from one another and you can’t have people killing at random.

    The other morals are indeed subjective, such as when it is okay to kill. Every culture agrees that a baseless random murder is wrong, but just a few hundred years ago it was socially acceptable for a brother to murder a man who had sex with his sister out of wedlock. And in New Guinea it is not only considered correct, but a moral obligation to kill and cannibalize your enemy. Our culture today says that murdering the man who had sex with your sister is wrong, but killing another man during a war is okay. What a culture defines as “baseless” can change from era to era, but the idea that baseless murder is wrong sticks around.

    You asked if I contradicted myself when I brought up cannibalism, and no, I did not, because to those cultures with cannibalistic practices, the killing and cannibalizing is not senseless. It serves a purpose, and often times a spiritual, culture, and religious purpose (never mind the fact that all cultures do not agree on what is purposeful or not). Senseless killing would be walking up to a random person and killing them for no justifiable social reason.

    The “innate wiring” from evolution doesn’t transverse very far into daily life and morality, because the only thing evolution cares about is survival. It only affects morals that in turn affect survival and positive group interactions, and those are few and far between. It doesn’t matter for the survival of the species of someone, for example, wears clothing that covers their entire body or wears jeanshorts and tanktops.It doesn’t matter for the survival of the species of you. All other moral ideals are social constructs–products of a specific culture and it’s practices.

    Recently there was a news story I read about the leader of a fundamentalist Christian religious commune as who said that “Consent is puberty,” meaning that as long as a girl has gone through puberty, any man can have sex with her. It doesn’t matter if she says she wants to, her body is consent enough. I react strongly against that because of my socially constructed morals, not because of my evolutionary morals, and not because of religiously instigated morals either. It doesn’t say anywhere in the Bible that there should be a specific age of consent, or that sexual relations should be consenting to begin with. It would actually be more beneficial for the species for girls to be sexually active as soon as they hit puberty. But regardless, I find the statement immoral because it violates my socially constructed ideas about consent, and particularly age of consent. Many would disagree with me on this point because they see the practical age of consent being much lower than I do (just think of cultures who marry off 12 year olds). There is nothing innate about the morality of something even as serious as something that boils down to child-rape. I think if God was going to give us an innate sense of absolute truth, he could have thrown in that bit about not raping children, or when it is child-rape and when it is not.

  • 208. BigHouse  |  September 29, 2008 at 3:29 pm

    Predictably, based on my earlier experience (Conversations in the Clubhouse of Truly Smart People), these interchanges are sinking into somewhat condescending displays of erudition in supposed well-known refutations of arguments for God.

    Yes, I agree. For instance, here’s an example…..in your very next paragraph:

    On the question of purpose in the universe, I think that if and when you come to realize God exists, you will also realize that there is a purpose to Creation, though that may not seem obvious from where you currently stand.

    So, in other words, once we become elightened like you are, this will all be clear.

    Sheesh.

  • 209. orDover  |  September 29, 2008 at 3:29 pm

    Predictably, based on my earlier experience (Conversations in the Clubhouse of Truly Smart People), these interchanges are sinking into somewhat condescending displays of erudition in supposed well-known refutations of arguments for God.

    And, predictably, based on my earlier experience, your arguments for God boil down to nothing but the emotional inkling that there is purpose in the world and a set of unproven premises, like your (false) premise that morality and beauty are innate human ideals. Another premise you assert is that a creator has to exist. Prove your premises to be true premises and not just premises, and then maybe we can have a discussion. But until you do that, all you’ve got is and “I just really think/feel…” argument, and sorry, but that isn’t enough for most of us.

  • 210. Cooper  |  September 29, 2008 at 3:35 pm

    God is telling Job to consider the fire breathing sea creature. What leads you to conclude it is poetic? Maybe its a dragon?

    Anonymous #168. You could be right. The reason I state Leviathan as being poetic, or representing something else, is because it is described as “invincible”—it appears to be representing something else—or it is descrbing an existing animal in an exaggerated manner.

    There are descriptions in the Bible of God himself that we do not take literally– “under the shadow of his wings” for example–it is very descriptive, but no scholar states that God has wings. However, I was making a conjecture about Leviathan—I really don’t know—and should have kept my mouth shut. :)

  • 211. CheezChoc  |  September 29, 2008 at 3:48 pm

    bobbi jo:

    I always thought the myth of the dragon might have started with the Komodo dragon. It does not breathe fire, but it is very large and can take down even larger animals, I think. Not much but maybe a start.

  • 212. Digital Dame  |  September 29, 2008 at 3:50 pm

    On the baseless killing and moral relativism according to culture: until the late 20th century (early 1980s I think but I should check) it was considered an acceptable murder defense for a man to claim he had caught the wife in bed with another man. It was considered an “honor killing”, also practiced by various tribal cultures.

  • 213. writerdd  |  September 29, 2008 at 4:08 pm

    Honor killings are still acceptable in some cultures.

  • 214. Erudite Redneck  |  September 29, 2008 at 5:15 pm

    And then there are the “He Needed Killin’ ” laws in Texas and Oklahoma.

  • 215. Erudite Redneck  |  September 29, 2008 at 5:17 pm

    204, re: “So long as you admit that you are imagining, not reasoning his existence.”

    Someone said to me, “You can’t get to the truth of (God’s Godness) by thinking ‘hmm… what do I feel about that?’ ”

    And I replied:

    Now, don’t let your head explode, but yes, yes you can, as well as by any other method. Human imagination itself is part of reality and, as such, is as plumbable for truth as anything else.

    The other night I dreamed that I was again 8 years old and buying candy at a store close to the school I attended in my home town. I saw and interacted with people who, at the time, were as close to me as my cat is right now, asleep on a window seat a yard away, adults named Paul, Sybil and (nicknamed) Skinny, and other kids named Eldon, James and Troy and Mark.

    Who’s to say that I didn’t actually “travel” “back” “in” “time” to that point of my experience and that “place” in one or more dimensions of All That Is?

    Of course, it could’ve just been the pork ribs I ate too many of too late last night. I remain open, via my very real imagination, to the other possibility, however.

    Almost everything to do with faith requires imagination.

    Why does imagination, as an expression of reality, get such a bad rap?

  • 216. bobbi jo  |  September 29, 2008 at 5:18 pm

    ” think if God was going to give us an innate sense of absolute truth, he could have thrown in that bit about not raping children, or when it is child-rape and when it is not.”

    I think we are getting at the same thing, I just think my absolute is God and your absolute is evolution. But the fact remains that there are absolutes and there is subjectism/relatism. I wish He would have been a little bit more descriptive as well.

    On a side note, does anyone know of any older absolutes than the 10 commandments? What mythology would hold these and what were they? Just curious.

    Ps-Quester, you really will have to be leniant with your points as I am the worst speller in history. :)

  • 217. BigHouse  |  September 29, 2008 at 5:24 pm

    Almost everything to do with faith requires imagination.

    Why does imagination, as an expression of reality, get such a bad rap?

    Q.E.D.

  • 218. silentj  |  September 29, 2008 at 5:26 pm

    The first question is whether God exists. This is a different question from whether any existing religion or person has an accurate and complete understanding of God. Logically speaking, the mere fact that some people have mistaken ideas of what behavior God’s existence calls for is no more an argument against God’s existence than the existence of competing (some at least, necessarily wrong) scientific explanations about some natural phenomenon is an argument against the existence of the phenomenon.

    Yes, but there’s a critical difference in your comparison. If we are observing natural phenomenon– say fish swimming upstream– we can see the phenomenon in front of us. Yes, the explanations may vary, but the phenomenon is still clear for all to see, including those who don’t try to explain it. In the case of God, there is no phenomenon to witness aside from personal revelation. The best anyone can do is say “there’s a creation, so there must be a creator.” However, the fact that the universe exists does not mean there is a being that created it. The reason why revelation is criticized in relation to god is because at least a collective revelation might validate something. Instead, all we have is stories and a variety of claims that this phenomenon exists. We don’t see, god does not intercede, and god does not produce clear miracles as described in the Bible.

    My experience was that once I came to see that God the Creator had to exist, mainly through my observations of the world, then I experienced what that truly meant in a way that went far beyond intellectual opinion. And I then had before me the task of figuring out what this new, supremely important knowledge of God’s existence meant for my life. I feel sure that any notion that God needs physical help through force and violence to bring about God’s ideal state on Earth is wrong and contrary to God’s basic nature, so I can rule out certain religious strains right away.

    Like the Christian strains that advocated the crusades?

    I can certainly understand your point about atheists wanting to seem smart and be in “the club.” However, such suggestions completely undermine the genuine attempts to understand life and seek truth, which many of us on this blog are attempting to do. You feel comfortable believing you have figured out life, bringing you a sense of peace. However, just because you feel enlightened doesn’t mean what you believe is right. As much as I would like to say “Great, you figured it out,” I can’t help but think how dangerous this kind of thinking is. Perhaps you’ve explored the world enough to feel you’re sufficiently correct. However, there are plenty of people who nothing about the world and don’t understand empathy, yet proclaim a dogmatic truth.

    Since we live together, we have to make reasonable decisions. If we said that your divine revelation was superior to intellectual reason, we’d set up society to be run by any theocratic group that could force its way to power. (Iran, for example.) It’s in the public sphere that I’m most concerned about faith. You coming to your personal truth about the universe doesn’t affect me in the slightest. You coming to your personal truth and then proclaiming that many others need to follow it is where I take issue. (I use “you” in the generic sense; not attacking you.) That’s one of the main reasons why I think religion does need evidence, the kind of evidence that goes beyond a book of myths and a peaceful easy feeling.

  • 219. silentj  |  September 29, 2008 at 5:37 pm

    Bobbi Jo,

    from wikipedia:

    The history of law is closely connected to the development of civilizations. Ancient Egyptian law, dating as far back as 3000 BC, had a civil code that was probably broken into twelve books. It was based on the concept of Ma’at, characterised by tradition, rhetorical speech, social equality and impartiality.[74] By the 22nd century BC, Ur-Nammu, an ancient Sumerian ruler, formulated the first law code, consisting of casuistic statements (“if… then…”). Around 1760 BC, King Hammurabi further developed Babylonian law, by codifying and inscribing it in stone. Hammurabi placed several copies of his law code throughout the kingdom of Babylon as stelae, for the entire public to see; this became known as the Codex Hammurabi. The most intact copy of these stelae was discovered in the 19th century by British Assyriologists, and has since been fully transliterated and translated into various languages, including English, German, and French.[75]

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Law#History_of_law

  • 220. Ubi Dubium  |  September 29, 2008 at 6:13 pm

    Cheezcroc

    I always thought the myth of the dragon might have started with the Komodo dragon. It does not breathe fire, but it is very large and can take down even larger animals, I think. Not much but maybe a start.

    I’d be more likely to think that the occasional fossil find inspired dragon legends, and other legends of huge creatures. Dinosaur vertebrae eroding out of a hillside might be interpreted as a dragon, a giant snake, or perhaps even a roc. If one had never seen an elephant, the skeleton of a mastodon, with its central skull opening for the trunk, would look remarkably like a cyclops. Chinese traditional medicine even calls dinosour bones “dragon bones” and prescribes them for ailments. I doubt many of the ancients had ever had contact with a Komodo dragon, but many of them may have seen fossils.

  • 221. orDover  |  September 29, 2008 at 6:32 pm

    bobbi jo,
    I think we are getting at the same thing, I just think my absolute is God and your absolute is evolution. But the fact remains that there are absolutes and there is subjectism/relatism

    I don’t mean to sound belligerent, but my point really had nothing to do with absolutes. They had to do with generalizations. For example, I never said that baseless killing was a moral absolute, I said it was a common occurrence found in all cultures. But it is not an absolute because of the way it fluctuates (the ever-changing definition of when it is okay to kill and when it is wrong).

    It is logical to say that the very bare bones of morality come from evolution (it is also something that has bits and pieces of physical evidence), but I am not saying that evolution is the absolute creator of morality. It creates a little bit of morality some of the time, and it leaves a great big giant space for relativism and subjectivity (ie the various moral social constructs). Saying that God is the source of absolute morality supposes something more about the nature of “good” and “bad,” “right” and “wrong”. They should be black and white, and universally applicable with very little room for real subjectivity. This also, I think, presuppose the idea that humans are unique in creation. God wouldn’t expect a bird, for example, to keep the 10 Commandments. Looking at things from an evolutionary world-view, I can say that baseless killing is wrong. But that only applies to species that evolved to exist in groups. That same moral principle doesn’t apply at all when you consider solitary animals who benefit by killing any and all competition. Since evolution as a system places no importance or specialness on humans, if it contained moral absolutes, they should apply to all of the animal kingdom, not just one species. What is “good” for humans, orangutans, and horses isn’t the same thing as what is “good” for polar bears and snakes.

    I don’t think there is one right and one wrong, but many rights and many wrongs all contingent upon many varying factors, including your species, environment, society, and culture. Evolution determines a few of those (the ones that relate directly to group species survival), but that’s it. This idea that there are moral absolutes in the world is an illusion caused by the common moral generalities I discussed before.

  • 222. onscrn  |  September 29, 2008 at 7:08 pm

    Yes, but there’s a critical difference in your comparison. If we are observing natural phenomenon…

    Of course there’s a difference, and I think it’s clear that I only mean that the existence of differing opinions about something doesn’t imply that the thing itself doesn’t exist. That’s all. Logically speaking, as I said. So the rest of what you’re saying there doesn’t relate to what I said.

    Like the Christian strains that advocated the crusades?

    They would fit into that, yes; although the first Crusade was more defensive (pilgrims being massacred) from what I can tell. And of course there was a lot of plain old conquest for profit involved.

    Anyway, I believe in separation of church and state, freedom of religion and thought, etc. And I haven’t figured everything out, not by a long shot. I have a certainty about God’s existence that came from an experience, but that came after I had already decided God was the most rational explanation for the universe as a whole. People use the expression tipping point a lot these days. There was a spiritual tipping point.

    I obviously cannot communicate my experience to others, but I can state where I stand now and try to make it known that I’m neither crazy, dumb, nor ignorant, in order that others might open their minds and hearts to the possibility of God’s existence.

    I’ll take that “peaceful easy feeling” as not applying to me, since it doesn’t exactly. In any case, I think it’s clear that unless God has a different plan from what has unfolded so far, there is not going to be evidence that will convince every person. Most of the time, at least, there is only circumstantial evidence, but I found it sufficient to lead me to that “tipping point.”

  • 223. Rover  |  September 29, 2008 at 7:09 pm

    Bobbi Jo,

    The bible speaks of dragons in Job 41 and unicorns in Job 39. These could possibly be borrowed from ancient myths, much like the creation story and the world wide flood. Similiarly, the OT speaks of Gods or “Elohim”, implying that it may have started out as a polytheistic religion. Anyway, it makes a Christian scratch his head and wonder…

  • 224. john t.  |  September 29, 2008 at 7:24 pm

    onscrn

    “I have a certainty about God’s existence that came from an experience, but that came after I had already decided God was the most rational explanation for the universe as a whole.”

    Interestingly enough I believe you when you talk of your experience and what it did for you. Its just how do you make the leap from a creator to it being the “Christian” God?

  • 225. silentj  |  September 29, 2008 at 7:29 pm

    Of course there’s a difference, and I think it’s clear that I only mean that the existence of differing opinions about something doesn’t imply that the thing itself doesn’t exist. That’s all. Logically speaking, as I said. So the rest of what you’re saying there doesn’t relate to what I said.

    But, what else do we have to know a god exists?

    The wild diversity of opinion on scripture and revelation may not prove that god doesn’t exist. However, it does knock a pretty big hole in the idea since that’s all we have to go on.

    This is my only point: you undermine rationalists who want to find truth in the world. You make the claim that you have experienced something beyond intellect. You have proclaimed this experience to be the truth, a God. Yet, MILLIONS claim the same thing and have very different views of God.

    Who’s lying? How do we know? How do you judge? Not that you’re selling, but why would I buy your version of God over another? You clearly don’t believe that others have found God, yet they make the same claim you do.

    What you’re asking from us is to open our hearts so that we may learn the truth. As I said before, the idea of opening your heart to discover truth is incredibly dangerous.

  • 226. VorJack  |  September 29, 2008 at 8:59 pm

    “I obviously cannot communicate my experience to others, but I can state where I stand now and try to make it known that I’m neither crazy, dumb, nor ignorant, in order that others might open their minds and hearts to the possibility of God’s existence.”

    No one here is accusing you of being crazy, ignorant or dumb. We are well aware that there are intelligent theists, as we interact with them daily.

    But just the same, we do not find the arguments that you bring forth persuasive. And internal experiences are a troubling thing to base a belief upon. As silentj pointed out, it can be dangerous. What do you check it against? How can you falsify the beliefs that arise from it? Can you really be sure that you do not embrace those beliefs simply because you want to believe?

  • 227. crazyasuka  |  September 29, 2008 at 11:05 pm

    Good post. I was raised a catholic. When I was doubting the most I happened to get into Sunday bible school in preparation for my first communion. You’t think that would get me “back no track”, but the opposite happened: the overload of information about Christianity and God gave me the last kick into atheism.

  • 228. Erudite Redneck  |  September 29, 2008 at 11:33 pm

    I think for one to ask, in a Christian context, whether God is, is to get the cart before the horse sort of. In a Christian context, I dare to say I try to follow The Way of Jesus, who it is said, said, among other things: “Why callest thou me good. There is none good but God in heaven.” And who, it is said, said to pray thusly and so: “Our father, who art etc., etc.”

    Now, if I am tryng to follow Jesus, as confusingly and contradictorily and two-dimensionally (with a few demonstrations of multidimensionality — :-) — as he is depicted in Scripture and by tradition, then it goes without saying that since he “believed in God,” one who tries to follow Jesus must, at least, agree with him on that score. I mean, I’m not a “Godian” — not even a “Christian Godian.” It’s Jesus I’m focused on — although I love God talk as much as anyone else.

  • 229. xacrest  |  September 30, 2008 at 2:03 am

    boils down to two things, doesn’t it?
    1. Some people believe in God, whatever religion they may follow.
    2. Others don’t, for whatever reason they choose to believe in.

    The whole thing about Christian scripture (or other scriptures, for that matter) isn’t really relevant, because as I mentioned waaay up there in 82 religion is recorded by man, and human error abounds. Atheists have to make allowances for that. Believers need to understand that there are loopholes in every belief. And that’s where the question of, do I still want to believe? comes in. Beyond that, faith is what makes believers believers. And faith in logical reasoning is what makes atheists believe that there isn’t a god. Again, like I said, things happen that can’t be explained sometimes. Not always when you want them to happen, either. The believers will say, God has his reasons, and his will doesn’t always coincide with what we mortals want. The atheists will say hah! it’s coincidence! and leave it at that. The reason behind these things is whatever you want to believe in. They can’t be proven right or wrong. You can’t prove God’s existence, but that doesn’t mean he’s not real. You can’t prove how God doesn’t exist, either, because there will always be instances of miracles or whatever you want to call them that believers will attribute to God. His will being his own is a common ‘excuse’ if you want to call it that, but it works for those who believe. * shrug*
    Maybe religion is holy, pure, true and real, but we need to remember that it is firmly rooted in mortals who have the knack to twist and turn it and to see it from any old way they want to.

  • 230. Erudite Redneck  |  September 30, 2008 at 7:10 am

    Can’t argue with that.

  • 231. BigHouse  |  September 30, 2008 at 8:36 am

    I can’t prove that unicorns exist either. Would you say someone that believed in unicorns was equally justtifed as someone who doesn’t believe in unicorns?

  • 232. Erudite Redneck  |  September 30, 2008 at 8:56 am

    Who’s to say that one who imagines unicorns doesn’t experience unicorns as part of his-her reality? Who is to say there is only one reality, either unicorns or Not unicorns?

    Hey, life is pandeleriously complex. I don’t buy simple rationality any more than I buy simple reliigon. “Prove it!” is about as useful a rejouinder as “Believe it!” :-)

  • 233. BigHouse  |  September 30, 2008 at 9:00 am

    By that token then, ER, for those who don’t experience god, that’s their reality. If you can claim unicorns as plausibly “real” based on someone’s imagination, how is one who doesn’t have god in his or her reality or imagination supposed to “fake” it?

  • 234. Erudite Redneck  |  September 30, 2008 at 9:37 am

    I would never ask, or expect, anyone to fake it. So, I don’t know, although there are reasons other than “belief” to be a Christian and to participate in church life.

    I confess, so to speak, to belong to a church for which “belief” is way down on the list of things yer supposed to be about:

    ” … Christianity as a way of life, not a set of creeds and doctrines demanding total agreement. We invite you to join us as we seek to recover the meaning of the gospel for our time, looking to scripture, faith, and reason — interpreted by love. … We believe that what Jesus teaches us about God is more important than what the church has taught us about Jesus. We believe in the liberty of of conscience, the responsibility of every believer to work out his or her own salvation, and the obligation of faithful men and women to become partners with God in building the kingdom. We take the Bible seriously, not literally, and believe that in our time the church must recover, above all, its radical hospitality — welcoming all persons into her midst, without regard to race, age, gender, sexual orientation, or physical abilities.”

  • 235. BigHouse  |  September 30, 2008 at 9:41 am

    So, what’s your church’s take on the potential afterlife and what one can/should do to prepare for it?

  • 236. onscrn  |  September 30, 2008 at 10:04 am

    john t. (224) said:
    Interestingly enough I believe you when you talk of your experience and what it did for you. Its just how do you make the leap from a creator to it being the “Christian” God?

    I never said I had made that jump. Right now that’s my “working hypothesis,” since the God of love and power that cares about every individual, while giving us free will, fits with what I feel; but I have not accepted the full Christian doctrine about Jesus. How would I make that jump? It would have to be through “internal evidence,” I assume. I can say that Jesus’s promise–“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.”–which seemed so unreasonable when I read it, now seems true.

    silentj (225) said:
    You clearly don’t believe that others have found God, yet they make the same claim you do. What you’re asking from us is to open our hearts so that we may learn the truth. As I said before, the idea of opening your heart to discover truth is incredibly dangerous.

    I assume you mean that I think that there are others that have mistaken ideas about God’s will or something like that. That’s true. But I certainly don’t think that no one else has found God. The danger of religious fanaticism comes from people following another human being blindly to carry out evil acts on this Earth in the name of a higher cause. I don’t see this as confined to followers of Bin Laden or other religious fanatics. It can be followers of Hitler or Mao. These followers are not acting on their own revelations, they are yielding to a human weakness to follow another human being or system. That’s called idolatry in some circles.

    Personally, I feel myself to be less likely to fall into any kind of fanaticism by virtue of being grounded in faith in God. Obvioulsy, faith in God doesn’t inoculate one against all temptations though, and the temptation to be a violent instrument of God (thus exalting oneself) is obviously a great one for some people in some circumstances.

    The second point is that I am not saying turn off your mind and open your heart. Our ability to reason is a gift from God as much as life is. It’s just that there is a “spiritual channel” that shouldn’t be blocked by antireligious dogma.

    Thanks for being respectful, folks. I think I’ve said all I have to say for now.

  • 237. Erudite Redneck  |  September 30, 2008 at 12:14 pm

    Re, “So, what’s your church’s take on the potential afterlife and what one can/should do to prepare for it?”

    I don’t think there’s a take, on the local level. My own is that there is simply life, and that “afterlife” to life is like toe is to foot — or something, I just pulled that out of my butt is to back. As for what to do to “prepare” — that suggests that “afterlife” is in the future. I think all life is in the present.

  • 238. Quester  |  September 30, 2008 at 11:25 pm

    ER,

    You’ve got me curious. Without belief in a life after death, or in a God who cherishes you personally, what motivates you to follow Jesus? The teachings attributed to Him aren’t particularly unique, or even consistent. His reported tendency for secrecy pairs poorly with the portrayla of his impatience with those who can’t figure out what He doesn’t tell them. According to scripture, He was a good storyteller with a skill at finding third alternatives when presented with two choices, but why not just collect what wisdom you can find from various people and books and not bother with church or Jesusianity?

  • 239. Erudite Redneck  |  October 1, 2008 at 9:51 am

    Whoa, there, pardner. Where do you get that I said there is no life after death, or that there is no God that cherishes me personally. Just because I’m not banging a drum and beating people over the head doesn’t mean that.

    One, I wrote, repeating my churche’s statement:” We believe that what Jesus teaches us about God is more important than what the church has taught us about Jesus.”

    Two, What I was trying to say was I don’t think there is “life” and “afterlife.” It’s all “life.” It’s “death” I think is impermanent — not life!

    Re, “Why not just collect what wisdom you can find from various people and books and not bother with church or Jesusianity?”

    Why not just sit and remember books I’ve rad in the past and not bother with books or reading now? I LIKE church, and, for all it’s faults, I like Christianity and Jesusness.

  • 240. BigHouse  |  October 1, 2008 at 10:56 am

    So, ER, you’ve formulated your thoughts on the life/afterlife and what it takes to get there on your own? The church didn’t/doesn’t play a role? What about the Bible?

  • 241. SnugglyBuffalo  |  October 1, 2008 at 12:17 pm

    ER-

    Two, What I was trying to say was I don’t think there is “life” and “afterlife.” It’s all “life.” It’s “death” I think is impermanent — not life!

    So… you do believe in an afterlife, you just try to get all clever and say it’s just a continuation of life and not a separate concept. Just because you don’t want to call it “afterlife” and try to lump it in with “life” doesn’t change what it actually means: a continuation of life, after a physical death. Since your death is in the future, it’s reasonable to believe that a continuation of life after your death is also in the future.

    When someone asks you about your view on the afterlife, you really do a disservice to them to be all cute and clever and say, “there is no afterlife, only life,” when you do in fact believe in an afterlife by any common definition.

    Seriously, cut the clever crap and get to the meat of what you’re trying to say.

  • 242. Erudite Redneck  |  October 1, 2008 at 2:51 pm

    No.

    I will engage you all — any of you — on mutual terms of respect. Try again, please.

  • 243. Cooper  |  October 1, 2008 at 3:25 pm

    One, I wrote, repeating my churche’s statement:” We believe that what Jesus teaches us about God is more important than what the church has taught us about Jesus.”

    What church do you attend? I apologize if you already stated that in another post. I am just curious. The statement your church makes just above, and the statement that you just made “there is no life, and no afterlife–it’s all just life” sound like a clever way to avoid a “commitment” to any firm direction. I called this in another post “sitting on the fence”. If this is not your intent, please forgive the inference, but it sounds a bit confusing.

  • 244. SnugglyBuffalo  |  October 1, 2008 at 5:29 pm

    ER-

    No.

    I will engage you all — any of you — on mutual terms of respect. Try again, please.

    Then have some respect for us and be direct. For example:

    Where do you get that I said there is no life after death. . .

    . . .What I was trying to say was I don’t think there is “life” and “afterlife.” It’s all “life.” It’s “death” I think is impermanent — not life!

    What does this even mean? You do believe in life-after-death, but don’t believe in an afterlife? If death is not permanent, then life continues after death, which would be considered an afterlife by the average person. It looks to me like you’re trying to give clever answers, rather than simply telling us what you believe. Your answers are confusing, and do not display the mutual respect you claim to desire in this discussion.

  • 245. Erudite Redneck  |  October 1, 2008 at 5:36 pm

    Well, excuuuuuusse me. My answers are not meant to be confusing. If they are, it’s because I don’t pretend to have the kind of certainty that the fundies do — or that most ex-fundies do So, my language is vague. Sue me.

    Jesus. Better yet. Forget it. Go find a a fundie to argue with. But I defy you or anyone else to show where I’ve been disrespectful. You just don’t like the way I express myself.

    Whatever you’re pissed off about, it’s not me, “Snuggly.”

  • 246. Erudite Redneck  |  October 1, 2008 at 5:42 pm

    Oh, Cooper. I believe that I am alive now and that I, in some form, will continue to be alive “after” I die. So, there, “Snuggly.” “After” “life.” … I get vague about it because at 44, my concept of time, therefore concepts like “before” and “after,” aren’t as firm as I used to think they were.

    As for my church: All I meant to try to say was that there are no marching orders, no firm set of beliefs or creeds that all members must adhere to. It’s a liberal Congregational-UCC church. We don’t agree on a thing but it’s a Christian church and is open to all who want to be part of a Christian church. What that means is up to trhe individual.

    Geez-US. What are you people? Engineers? :-)

  • 247. bobbi jo  |  October 1, 2008 at 6:12 pm

    ER-
    I’ve never understood a church like this. Can you explain more? What do you do there. Do you read from the bible? Do you sing? What do you sing? What do you do if someone is offended by the “message”? Change it the next week? I don’t understand how you can not have any firm set of beliefs. I can more understand having no belief (in God or christianity, ect) than I can this way of thinking. I don’t always agree with everything my own church teaches, but at least they are firm in what they teach. I don’t always agree with everything said on this blog either, but at least people here have straightfoward answers to the questions that I ask. I am really interested in where you are comming from and why you choose to blog here. Thank you.

  • 248. bobbi jo  |  October 1, 2008 at 6:19 pm

    “…We believe that what Jesus teaches us about God is more important than what the church has taught us about Jesus. We believe in the liberty of of conscience, the responsibility of every believer to work out his or her own salvation, and the obligation of faithful men and women to become partners with God in building the kingdom. We take the Bible seriously, not literally…”

    Wouldn’t this be a creed or wager or policy (however you want to term it) in and of itself? And what type of kingdom are they wanting to build?

    I am just curious as I am always wanting to learn more about how others view the world.

  • 249. john t.  |  October 1, 2008 at 6:39 pm

    Snuggly
    What does this even mean? You do believe in life-after-death, but don’t believe in an afterlife? If death is not permanent, then life continues after death, which would be considered an afterlife by the average person.

    Im not so sure he is trying to confuse you. You may not be following his train of thought. I think his idea of life is similar to a progression of sorts and the change from our physical expression to one of spirit form is just a link in the chain. I hope Im not assuming to much ER.

  • 250. Cooper  |  October 1, 2008 at 7:04 pm

    If you have to look up erudite in the dictionary, you just might be a redneck.

    erudite Show phonetics
    adjective FORMAL
    having or containing a lot of specialist knowledge:
    He’s the author of an erudite book on Scottish history.

    Erudite Redneck–

    I like the name. :)

  • 251. Anonymous  |  October 1, 2008 at 7:11 pm

    Maybe it should be changed to “touchy” redneck.

    No one is keeping you here ER, do you want to explain your positions or not?

  • 252. Cooper  |  October 1, 2008 at 7:27 pm

    TouchyErudite Redneck:

    Person having or containing a lot of specialist knowledge:
    He’s the redneck author of an erudite book on Scottish history, but don’t piss him off.
    :)

  • 253. Quester  |  October 1, 2008 at 8:09 pm

    Whoa, there, pardner. Where do you get that I said there is no life after death, or that there is no God that cherishes me personally.

    Well, ER, when you said,

    My own is that there is simply life, and that “afterlife” to life is like toe is to foot — or something, I just pulled that out of my butt is to back. As for what to do to “prepare” — that suggests that “afterlife” is in the future. I think all life is in the present.

    it sounded like the language used by those who believe that the Kingdom of Heaven is something we can choose to participate in here and now, leaving what happens after death (if anything) until after death to be concerned with.

    And when you said,

    Whole households were considered “saved” in the Middle Ages. Very Great Chain of Beingy. This whole “personal relationship” thing is very Western: Me, me, me — and God.

    it sounded like you did not believe God was interested in a personal relationship where He cherishes you as an individual.

    If I misunderstood you, feel free to correct me.

    Now you’ve said,

    I LIKE church, and, for all it’s faults, I like Christianity and Jesusness.

    Could you expand on that a little? What do you like about Christianity and Jesusness?

  • 254. BigHouse  |  October 1, 2008 at 8:20 pm

    My bad, I’m annonymous above.

    ER hasn’t responded to my questions before he got all huffy. And I asked very politely…

  • 255. SnugglyBuffalo  |  October 1, 2008 at 9:19 pm

    ER-

    Geez-US. What are you people? Engineers?

    Crud, I’ve been found out! Assuming you’re not one of those people who gets all up-in-arms about how software engineering is not really engineering. But yes, I do think in that “engineering mode,” if you will.

    Anyway, I have very little patience for people who try to be “clever” in the way it seemed to me you were. If that wasn’t your intent, I humbly apologize.

  • 256. xacrest  |  October 2, 2008 at 4:04 am

    sorry about the lateness in addressing the topic of unicorns, been away for a while. On the whole concept of unicorns, nobody can prove that they existed or didn’t exist either, true. We dismiss things on the basis of logic, like unicorns. But nothing has happened (well, nothing greatly significant, at least) that can be attributed to the existence of unicorns, even if unicorns didn’t really cause it. Plus they didn’t have such a huge following that people wrote books about them (again, at least none that are quoted every day or taken all that seriously). On the other hand, lots of ‘miracles’ and other stuff have ‘happened’ from a believer’s point of view. Hence, religion. The believers have decided why and how they intend to keep believing :D

    I’m more interested, really, in why (no offense meant, and I’m not quite sure how to phrase it) many atheists want ‘proof’ about God’s existence, or, as believers would see it, ‘putting faith to the test’ :) I mean, so believers believe in God and atheists don’t — again, for whatever reasons they choose respectively. So? If it turns out there isn’t really a God, then more fool the believers. If it turns out there is, well, lucky them. Even then, what if there is no Christian God, and all along some other god has been having a good laugh? The possibilities are so vast. Why not try and prove there isn’t an Allah, or there isn’t a Vishnu? Sorry if this touches any nerves, just me being curious. (and for whatever reason that states there is no religion, the upside that few can argue with is that without religion, there would be a lot less holidays :P)

  • 257. VorJack  |  October 2, 2008 at 9:53 am

    xacrest – “Why not try and prove there isn’t an Allah, or there isn’t a Vishnu? ”

    2/3 or more of the atheists you’ll meet in the US and Europe were originally Christian. It’s what we know enough about to discuss. In addition, Christianity in its various forms is still the dominant religion in these areas, and a evangelical one at that. Christians are the people we most commonly find ourselves arguing with, and so most of our arguments are tailored to them.

    In addition, because Christianity tends to be an evangelical religion, Christians are the most likely to show up and prostilitize. So, again, they become the focus because they are there. This also partly answers your other question: we keep asking for evidence because people keep asking us to believe.

    That said, many of the arguments we make carry over to all forms of theism. If you have evidence of Vishnu, Shiva, Allah, etc., we’d be happy to hear it.

  • 258. BigHouse  |  October 2, 2008 at 10:01 am

    And to dovetail on VorJack’s point, xacrest has it backwards.

    We aren’t seeking to DISPROVE any or all particular religions, so much as NONE of the religions have stepped up convincingly as to why they should be believed.

  • 259. writerdd  |  October 2, 2008 at 10:01 am

    Christians are the people we most commonly find ourselves arguing with, and so most of our arguments are tailored to them.

    The only place I’ve ever found myself arguing with Christians is on the internet. My Christian friends in the real world are all nice people and while we have had a few discussions about belief, in general, there are many other things that we find both more important and more pleasurable to discuss in day to day living. We don’t even agree to disagree. We just understand that not everyone is the same.

    I really don’t get why everyone feels the need to argue so much. My husband keeps reminding me that most of the people who are online and are not lurkers are extremists. Maybe he’s right.

  • 260. john t.  |  October 2, 2008 at 10:05 am

    Writerdd
    My husband keeps reminding me that most of the people who are online and are not lurkers are extremists. Maybe he’s right.

    Maybe we all just have to much time on our hands. ;)

  • 261. xacrest  |  October 2, 2008 at 10:25 am

    ‘My husband keeps reminding me that most of the people who are online and are not lurkers are extremists. Maybe he’s right.’

    lol. My dad says that a lot too. Thanks for the clarification, guys. Here in Asia atheism isn’t very widespread (most atheists keep their heads down), and plenty of other beliefs/religions are. Most interesting. :) What would entail a religion to being worthy of belief?

  • 262. orDover  |  October 2, 2008 at 10:32 am

    I would only believe in a religion if there was enough cumulation of empirical evidence supporting it that it would take more faith not to believe in it than to believe in it.

  • 263. BigHouse  |  October 2, 2008 at 10:46 am

    That’s a pretty good summary, orDover.

  • 264. VorJack  |  October 2, 2008 at 11:37 am

    “I really don’t get why everyone feels the need to argue so much.”

    I don’t feel the need. Its just something I enjoy doing. It helps me clarify thoughts in my own mind and gives me an avenue for expressing those thoughts.

    I don’t argue religion with people outside of the internet very often. There are repercussions there that don’t exist on the internet. It’s harder to give or take offense when the other person is just text on a screen. The other person and I are semi-anonymous, so what we say on the internet can stay on the internet.

  • 265. LeoPardus  |  October 2, 2008 at 12:56 pm

    264 posts!>/b>

    And how have the Christians done in all that? Well lets look back at the original article.
    1. They never bring anything new to the table.

    Sure ain’t been anything even remotely new in 264 posts.

    2. They present no convincing arguments.

    Hardly even coherent, let alone convincing.

    3. They are rarely humble.

    Are you kidding? That’s a Biblically mandated trait of all true Christians right? Proof positive that the ones we see here aren’t really Christians. :)

    4. They posit simple answers for difficult questions.

    Simple solutions for simple minds.

    5. They display blind faith and emotional thinking.

    Yep. We’ve sure seen that.

    6. They don’t seem to understand the desire for real, empirical, immediate evidence, nor even know the nature of the sort of evidence I’m referring to.

    Check.

    7. They don’t seem to appreciate a logical argument.

    Righto.

    8. They are arrogant regarding former Christians.

    I think you could just say, “They are arrogant.”

    Well, thank to our “Christian” posters who, for 264 posts, have so ineloquently proven the points of the original article beyond any shadow of a doubt.

    But please, continue to beat the poor, dead animal some more.

  • 266. LeoPardus  |  October 2, 2008 at 12:57 pm

    Damnable lack of an preview function!!!!

  • 267. Cooper  |  October 2, 2008 at 3:18 pm

    I would only believe in a religion if there was enough cumulation of empirical evidence supporting it that it would take more faith not to believe in it than to believe in it.

    So, in effect, religion has to be science for you to believe it. Belief would no longer be “belief” it would be fact. I don’t think you’ll ever find a “belief-system” that is going to meet your criteria. :)

  • 268. Cooper  |  October 2, 2008 at 3:23 pm

    Hey BigHouse—

    You got on my case for using the word “obvious” about an explanation I was giving.

    How about this from Leo?

    Well, thank to our “Christian” posters who, for 264 posts, have so ineloquently proven the points of the original article beyond any shadow of a doubt.

    Is “without a shadow of a doubt” OK to use? If it is I’ll use that instead of “obvious”—let me know. :)

  • 269. The Apostate  |  October 2, 2008 at 3:25 pm

    Cooper
    “More faith not to believe in it” is not the same as a accepted scientific principle nor even a literary accepted “fact.”
    That really isn’t very hard to understand.

  • 270. writerdd  |  October 2, 2008 at 3:26 pm

    I don’t believe in belief.

  • 271. Cooper  |  October 2, 2008 at 3:32 pm

    Apostate—

    orDover is saying that she would follow a religion that had enough empirical evidence to prove it was real. She said it would take more faith NOT to believe it. See post #262.

    I’m just stating that that is no longer a “belief-system” then—no longer a faith or a religion. It would be fact—and the need for “belief” could be thrown out the window. I’m just saying that it is impossible to find a religion that will meet her critieria.

  • 272. Cooper  |  October 2, 2008 at 3:34 pm

    I realize that is not what she is saying “exactly”—but it is close enough. Faith is faith—-factual evidence is factual evidence—suppported by scientific investigation.

  • 273. Ubi Dubium  |  October 2, 2008 at 4:02 pm

    Cooper

    I’m just stating that that is no longer a “belief-system” then—no longer a faith or a religion. It would be fact—and the need for “belief” could be thrown out the window. I’m just saying that it is impossible to find a religion that will meet her critieria.

    Yes, I agree. For me to follow a “religion”, it would have to have so much evidence in it’s favor that it would qualify as “science”. I don’t “believe in faith”. :)

  • 274. BigHouse  |  October 2, 2008 at 4:18 pm

    Cooper, you used the term “obvious” to describe your interpretation of a bible passage that is disputed by many from both different Christian sects and agnostics/athesist alike. That, definitionally, makes it not obvious.

    Leo’s contention about how Christians have comported themselves in this thread is pretty spot on. The language he used may be a little strong, but it is more appropriate for what he is describing.

    Let me give you another example. if I say: It’s obvious that the sky is blue, that is both provable and likely to be agree dupon my all. Hence, it’s instructuve and appropriate to use the term.

    If I say “It is obvious that I am the best golfer on this board, that is neither provable, nor likely to be agreed upon by most others on the board. Hence “obvious” is inappropriate to use in this context.

    Your use of the term (or any other synonymous pharse) is more like the latter.

  • 275. Cooper  |  October 2, 2008 at 4:38 pm

    BigHouse—

    But I seriously thought it WAS common knowledge that you are the best golfer on the board. :)

    Good point

    But:

    Well, thank to our “Christian” posters who, for 264 posts, have so ineloquently proven the points of the original article beyond any shadow of a doubt.

    I think everyone would need to go back and read all 264 posts before you can use “beyond a shadow of a doubt”. :) :)

  • 276. Cooper  |  October 2, 2008 at 4:39 pm

    But BigHouse—I like your examples–good.

  • 277. Cooper  |  October 2, 2008 at 4:42 pm

    Well, thank to our “Christian” posters who, for 264 posts, have so ineloquently proven the points of the original article beyond any shadow of a doubt.

    Oh by the way—–scientists have proven doubts don’t have shadows.

  • 278. BigHouse  |  October 2, 2008 at 5:04 pm

    Leo read all 264, and came to that conclusion. I will ratify his conclusion. If lots of people pipe up and disagree that it is “clear” then he may need to soften his stance. I don’t think that will be necessary..

  • 279. Cooper  |  October 2, 2008 at 5:18 pm

    Leo read all 264, and came to that conclusion. I will ratify his conclusion. If lots of people pipe up and disagree that it is “clear” then he may need to soften his stance. I don’t think that will be necessary..

    OK—so the “facts” must bring us to the conclusion that all chrisitans who post here are idiots, without a shadow of a doubt. At least all christians who have written on this thread within the 264 aforementioned consecutive posts are idiots.

    I’ll alert the media. :)

  • 280. BigHouse  |  October 2, 2008 at 5:35 pm

    Nope, sorry, your persecution complex is too dialed up here, Coop. There’s nothing in the ‘list” about being an idiot. But all the examples posited in the list are on display in this thread.

    See if you can actually post an argument without capturing these points and I’m sure you’ll find a debate partner. Otherwise, it’s been fun…

  • 281. Cooper  |  October 2, 2008 at 6:28 pm

    BigHouse—

    I put smilies for a reason—I was trying to be light-hearted about it.

    Read post #265 again. Out of 264 posts not one Christian avoids being “arrogant” “simple-minded” (“simple answers for simple minds”), they are not “real christians”, they bring “nothing new to the table”, etc. etc. –the word “idiot” isn’t used. But I don’t know need a “persectution complex” to see that the christians in the 264 posts are all put in the same boat for the same reasons. And I find that to be hilarious is all. If I were to say the same things about decons I would be labeled a “troll” immediately–the double-standard by #265 is glaring. But it is also extremely humorous—it’s all in good fun I’m sure. :)

  • 282. Cooper  |  October 2, 2008 at 6:33 pm

    Bighouse—

    Really–just having some fun. #265 is kind of like a drive-by in the opposite direction in a way. It’s not a true commentary—it’s meant to stir up Christians in defensiveness, by calling them “simple-minded, etc.” And I’ve noticed the same poster likes to do that quite a bit, get a reaction, then label the reactors “trolls”–it’s a strategy the person uses.

    Oh well. Like you said though, no reason for a persecution complex—-thick skin!! thick skin!! :)

  • 283. Cooper  |  October 2, 2008 at 7:12 pm

    See if you can actually post an argument without capturing these points and I’m sure you’ll find a debate partner. Otherwise, it’s been fun…

    By the way, BigHouse, haven’t you noticed that the (8) points listed above are purely subjective? They are orDover’s “opinion” not facts. Someone else visiting the board (and not only Christians) might beg to differ with her thoughts about the posts by Christian commentators. Not too long ago you said I was terrible at analogies (and I agree I am for the most part), but then a few posts later someone said they thought the analogy was actually pretty good. Now, perhaps you would think that person was off-base for saying that—but that would be your “opinion” wouldn’t it? The 8 points orDover lists above are simply her white-washed opinion about Christian posters.

    I could make a similar list and broad-brush all “decons” also. But of course, that would be purely subjective, and other Christians would disagree with me I’m sure. That’s why I think the list is really quite wrong. Often, I make a point, and someone like Rover, who is a Christian, will completely disagree with me. To throw the both of us as “Christian Commentators”–or many others with differing views also, into the same (8) points is highly subjective to say the least.

  • 284. john t.  |  October 2, 2008 at 7:46 pm

    HELLO

    Im the best Golfer on the board

  • 285. Cooper  |  October 2, 2008 at 8:16 pm

    john t–

    Do you golf often?

  • 286. Erudite Redneck  |  October 2, 2008 at 8:35 pm

    Not pissed. Nor run off. Busy. “I”ll be baa-ack.” :-) Got a “debate” to watch.

  • 287. john t.  |  October 2, 2008 at 9:00 pm

    Cooper

    Oh yeah

  • 288. Erudite Redneck  |  October 2, 2008 at 10:50 pm

    Bobbi Jo, re: “I’ve never understood a church like this. Can you explain more?”

    As i said, it’s a Christian congregation. “Jesus is Lord” is about the only agreement. The “We believe” statements are summaries of things we agree on; they do not address things we disagree on, which are usually the sources of problems in a congregation. … We sing hymns we’ve inherited from our forefathers and mothers. And, I’d say that some in the pews are always offended by something in the message — see “free pulpit” and “free pew” — or the actions of fellow church members. In general, i’d call it liberal, in the social gospel, doctrinal and theoliogical sense.

    249, john t. close enough.

    Cooper, thanks. I mean “erudite” as studied or learned; I mean “redneck” because I’m a farm kid from the part of Oklahoma that is both the Souith and the West.

    253, re: “it sounded like the language used by those who believe that the Kingdom of Heaven is something we can choose to participate in here and now, leaving what happens after death (if anything) until after death to be concerned with.”

    I’d say the Kingdom of Heave is something followers of Christ are called to adance here and now and always; to me, it means, trying to love God, love neighbor and love self, and to do honor to the Creation, which is, as the tradition suggests, “good.” I see the Fall, if I must think about it, as as a way to say that human beans are incomplete, and that because of our incompleteness we’ve selfishly done harm to the Creation but that we shold do our part to reverse that. The hereafter, though, is not all I’m here after.

    My rantlet toward enginerers was born from the demand for certainty and exactude, which is necesarry in engineering, but not necesarry, in my view, when it comes to faith, or religion, OR expressiong oneself in a running conversion on a blog thread. Some thoughts are undercooked; I, for one, see that as no reason to keep from expressiing them.

    Re, somewhere up there, “it sounded like you did not believe God was interested in a personal relationship where He cherishes you as an individual.”

    I am not sure about that. I *am* sure that *I* am interested in a personal approach to pondering, accessing and living with God.

    And: I *did* get huffy. Sorry. Still trying to get used to the tone and flow of this blog.

    As for why I like hangin’ out with atheists and the deconverted: I’m not sure. I know I usually have a better time conversing with y’all than I do rockribbed fundies of any sort. I guess I prefer people who think over those who do not.

    I am a recovering Baptist — yet still a believer, although pure “belief” means less to me that it used to, and still a Christian, although my notions of what that means is very different than what I once thought.

    As for why I like church and Jesusness: I missed the — forgive me — koinonia of a group of people coming together for fellowsip in Jesus’ name, the many years I was “unchurched” — about 20, up to 2005.

    I respect the heritage of the seeking of truth, and of God, that is found in the Christian tradition.

    I think Jesus rocks — and just the mere idea of Jesus rocks, and gives me an anchor. I shamelessly admit that while I could live without Him, I prefer to live with Him. It’s an act of will, not a matter of being forevermore “convinced” of this or that assertion.

    And, as i did at age 8, when I first walked the aisle in a small-town Baptist church to publically declare that i was “on board” — I still don’t claim to know it all, and I still, when I throw myself into sleep at night, I throw myself into the Cosmos and in faith, rest, and in hope, dream.

    That’s me, as far as i can tell it at the moment.

    Peace, y’all.

  • 289. The Apostate  |  October 2, 2008 at 11:03 pm

    Cooper, you may play semantics, but lets set down the rules of the game. The Oxford Dictionary defines faith as “complete trust in someone or something” OR “a strong belief in God or in the doctrines of a religion, based on spiritual apprehension rather than proof. Faith does not necessarily equate to religion.

    Likewise, your definition of “belief” appears narrow. To believe is merely to accept something as true. Thus a “belief-system” is simply a group of “truths” that you see as coherent with each other.

  • 290. Ubi Dubium  |  October 2, 2008 at 11:25 pm

    ER –
    Ah – “recovering Baptist”. I think I understand why you like hanging around us de-converts – you’re a bit of a de-convert yourself. Sounds like you were brought up in the “believe and don’t ask questions” atmosphere that many of us were, but you dared to ask questions, work it out for yourself, and now find yourself in a very different place regarding belief. Even if you have not reached the same conclusions about belief that many of us have, you share the experience of questioning blind faith. Am I understanding that correctly?

    Anyway, since you have made no attempt to convert me, or evangelize at us in any way, I’m glad you are here.

    And I’m the worst golfer on the board.

  • 291. xacrest  |  October 2, 2008 at 11:42 pm

    re: the controversial #265 ;)
    There are arrogant Christians, and there are arrogant atheists. If there are humble atheists, then there are humble Christians. Believers = those who believe that faith > logic, atheists = those who have it the other way. Believers are not > atheists. Atheists are not > believers. They’re just different. There is no ‘win’ or ‘lose’ because nobody is trying to convert anybody. Just rationalizing what they believe (har har) in… or don’t believe in. An exchange of opinions, if you will.
    I do *not* want to become a troll, so trying not to repeat myself too much… we are who we are for whatever reasons so long as it doesn’t really hurt anyone. Refer #229. What’s wrong with emotional thinking, anyway, as long as nobody tries to force their ideas down someone else’s throat? If everyone was a believer, well, that would just be wrong. If nobody believed, that would be wrong too. Believers and atheists alike have decided what they want to think. It’s not easy to change that. I like Cooper’s #282 :D

  • 292. orDover  |  October 3, 2008 at 12:05 am

    What’s wrong with emotional thinking, anyway, as long as nobody tries to force their ideas down someone else’s throat?

    See point 7.

    Emotional thinking displays a lack of critical thinking. It’s the opposite of critical thinking, actually. It shouldn’t be used to form opinions where avoidable, and it certainly shouldn’t be used as a platform from which to argue a point.

    The only “problem” is that when thinking emotionally one is not thinking critically.

  • 293. SnugglyBuffalo  |  October 3, 2008 at 3:56 am

    Well, to be fair, my demand for certainty did eventually get a direct answer from you on the afterlife :P

    I don’t think we have to be certain about everything; indeed, it’s really not practical. But I much prefer people be direct about their uncertainty. Trying to find a complex way to express your uncertainty has no real value to me.

  • 294. Erudite Redneck  |  October 3, 2008 at 8:13 am

    Re, ” you share the experience of questioning blind faith. Am I understanding that correctly?”

    Yes. And, I specifically share the exprien ce of seeing the fundamentalist takeover of the Southern Baptist Convention; I was 15, very formative age, and very active and involved with my local SBC church when it hit the fan in 1979. Southern Baptistas were much mroe live and let live before that — at least they didn’t actively discourage education, and they did more than give lip serve to the concept of “priesthood of the believer.” What goes for Southern Baptists these days, for the most part, are imposters to the Baptist traditon.

  • 295. Erudite Redneck  |  October 3, 2008 at 8:15 am

    Oh Ubi Dubium, thanks.

    Re, “Emotional thinking displays a lack of critical thinking.” I’m not sure, but I think my wonderfully duel-brained Dr. ER, (psychology), might say that emotions and critical thinking skills are all of a piece. Maybe not. I’ll ask her.

  • 296. BigHouse  |  October 3, 2008 at 8:32 am

    The 8 points orDover lists above are simply her white-washed opinion about Christian posters.

    Yes, and the key word there is POSTERS.

    The problem is, Christians come to this board to debate and do so as if they’re trying to convert some backwoods tribe that has never even heard of the Bible. This audience was on YOUR side of the aisle for many years before deconverting; can’t you see why “traditional” Christian preaching and apologetics would fall on deaf ears here?

    And, yes, I will grant that the tone of the original post may be negative. Fine. Now, Coop, your challenge to to take the SUBSTANCE of the post and see if you can prove the premises wrong in what you bring to the table. Do you think you can do that?

    And here’s a hint: John 3:16 being ‘obvious’ is not going to cut it :-)

  • 297. Jim J  |  October 3, 2008 at 9:12 am

    From the post—I came to THIS blog with an open mind. I wasn’t a hardened atheist set in my ways or confident in my position. I was open to the possibility of being re-converted by a strong, rational argument for God, but the longer I converse with Christians the more certain I am of my atheism, and the more I see the Christian faith as hollow, blind, self-fulfilling, and frankly, silly.

    I know I’m late to this discussion, but what a contradictory statement this is! To paraphrase what the poster is saying, “I came to this strip club in the hope that I would overcome my problem with lust.”

    No, you didn’t agree not only with the gospel’s veracity but its message. While your departure from Christianity is a heartbreaking loss, it was necessary. Better you be here, drooling with the other de-converts at the club, than standing in a pulpit somewhere on a Sunday morning. The sad truth is that you’ve decided to be herded away to a much less satisfying future.

  • 298. BigHouse  |  October 3, 2008 at 9:23 am

    Chalk Jim up for item #8 from the list. Welcome to the club.

  • 299. Ubi Dubium  |  October 3, 2008 at 9:32 am

    How interesting that Jim J uses a “herd” metaphor. As if de-conversion is something that someone else can push you toward, or that happens in a group. One of the common threads among personal stories here is that each deconvert got that way on their own. We aren’t “sheep” to be pushed around, Jim J, we’re “cats”. You can’t “herd” us anywhere. Go have fun with your “flock”.

  • 300. xacrest  |  October 3, 2008 at 9:57 am

    Well, if everyone prided themselves on critical thinking and not emotional thinking, then there wouldn’t be any religion. And if there hadn’t been any religion, there may not be any morality. Hence, no progress. So it’s kinda just as well that there’s emotional thinking huh. Again, so long as nobody is asking you to stop thinking critically altogether ;) Believers don’t have any problems with thinking emotionally. Atheists do. Again, refer #229. (Really becoming quite a troll aren’t I)
    Jim J seems to really have it kind of messed up. Real Christians (pardon me) never say ‘good riddance’. And anyway not all Christians go to church. And those who do aren’t always the ones who are gleaming examples of the Christian faith. If you sleep in a garage, it doesn’t make you a car. As Jim J has proven :P

  • 301. BigHouse  |  October 3, 2008 at 10:26 am

    Well, if everyone prided themselves on critical thinking and not emotional thinking, then there wouldn’t be any religion. And if there hadn’t been any religion, there may not be any morality.

    Wow, that’s quite a chasmic leap you just made there. Would you care to, you know, actually provide support for this positions rather than arguing by assertion?

    Plus, the Christian on Christian crime has just juiced this thread up a bit :-)

  • 302. Erudite Redneck  |  October 3, 2008 at 10:50 am

    Uh oh. I think by referencing my wife, Dr. ER, re: emotions and critical thinking, I inadvertantly let out a fallacy: “appeal to authority.” :-) Sorry. My bad.

  • 303. VorJack  |  October 3, 2008 at 10:56 am

    “Believers don’t have any problems with thinking emotionally.”

    In theory. In practice, we see believers having enormous trouble with emotional thinkers whose emotions don’t agree with their own.

    “And if there hadn’t been any religion, there may not be any morality. ”

    As the LargeDomicile just pointed out, that’s a pretty big leap. Remember that early religions had little or nothing to say about morality. Seriously, can you see anyone asking, “What would Zeus do?” It’d be more like, “Who would Zeus do?” Some of the earliest people to ask moral questions were philosophers, who were using rational thought to arrive at conclusions.

  • 304. The Apostate  |  October 3, 2008 at 10:57 am

    Hey Jim,

    To paraphrase what the poster is saying, “I came to this strip club in the hope that I would overcome my problem with lust.”

    So what are you doing at the strip club?
    You know, you remind me of that gay-bashing father in American Beauty who ends up trying to make out with the Kevin Spacey character.

    The sad truth is that you’ve decided to be herded away to a much less satisfying future.

    And you know this because of your blatant omniscient powers, correct?

    I love the evolution of Christianity. In Americanity you can completely dismiss humility and love as long as you are passionate enough about someone who died two thousand years ago. Huzzah!
    I’ll take my dismal future with my beautiful wife and two amazing daughters over your contemptuous religiousity any day.

  • 305. Cooper  |  October 3, 2008 at 11:09 am

    Jim J said:
    From the post—I came to THIS blog with an open mind. I wasn’t a hardened atheist set in my ways or confident in my position. I was open to the possibility of being re-converted by a strong, rational argument for God, but the longer I converse with Christians the more certain I am of my atheism, and the more I see the Christian faith as hollow, blind, self-fulfilling, and frankly, silly.

    I know I’m late to this discussion, but what a contradictory statement this is! To paraphrase what the poster is saying, “I came to this strip club in the hope that I would overcome my problem with lust.”

    BigHouse said:
    Chalk Jim up for item #8 from the list. Welcome to the club

    BigHouse—-
    I have to disagree. Jim J isn’t #8–he isn’t being arrogant when making his point–he is actually being quite rational. He is actually making a very good point. Why would you come to a “deconversion blog” with an “open mind”, “open to the possiblitiy of being re-converted”? What would make one think that coming to a blog dealing with deconversion is going to help in any way on a path back towards reconversion? I agree with Jim—-that a very contradictory statement to make.

  • 306. xacrest  |  October 3, 2008 at 11:45 am

    In other places (that we’re forced to learn about in History class >.<) especially in Asia, the early rules and laws were mainly based on the religious highstanding groups. Like brahmins and so on in the Indus valley. Islamic law worked pretty well for the early muslim governments (I mean, if you ignore how they’re all blatantly ignoring it now) and was actually the basis for how countries like Malaysia and so on came to change their ruling and laws to be more people-based and not so much ‘orde kosmos’. I’m not sure how things run in Greece and Italy and all, but wouldn’t much of the early, basic laws (the kind that was chiselled into rocks and left in public places) have been made and obeyed for the sake of (or with the excuse of, anyway) religion? There were ceremonies where people swore fealty to the rulers and faced the risk of otherworldly wrath if they failed to uphold the deal, and in the textbook it clearly states this as one of the main factors that made empires back then really strong. It just came across to me as, well, with basis or not, religion has made the world and its principles what it is. Or is that a fallacy?
    Correct me if my history teacher has been filling my head with stuffing ;) whoops! Was that an appeal to authority? xP
    How would you define a Christian, anyway? I saw few Christian values in Jim J. Cooper stated that he wasn’t being arrogant in making his point. True. It can be viewed as a valid point, I guess. He was being arrogant by dismissing atheists in a ‘we don’t need you’ tone. What does Christianity teach? Forgiveness and understanding, at the very least. And the importance of civil manners, I hope. Who are we to condemn others to a ‘dismal future’? It would be nice if all the atheists decided tomorrow morning to become believers (actually that would be kinda creepy), but it ain’t happening. So let’s be mature about it.

  • 307. xacrest  |  October 3, 2008 at 11:53 am

    Jim J said:
    From the post—I came to THIS blog with an open mind. I wasn’t a hardened atheist set in my ways or confident in my position. I was open to the possibility of being re-converted by a strong, rational argument for God, but the longer I converse with Christians the more certain I am of my atheism, and the more I see the Christian faith as hollow, blind, self-fulfilling, and frankly, silly.

    I know I’m late to this discussion, but what a contradictory statement this is! To paraphrase what the poster is saying, “I came to this strip club in the hope that I would overcome my problem with lust.”

    actually in hindsight, no, it’s not really a valid point. He missed the meaning (or did I misunderstand it instead) that there was a possibility that the arguments against religion were less convincing than the arguments for it. With his analogy, ‘I came to this strip club wondering if it would turn out to be really gross, but instead I kinda liked it.’
    Hence making it a baseless statement. Case closed. ;)

  • 308. BigHouse  |  October 3, 2008 at 12:13 pm

    BigHouse—-
    I have to disagree. Jim J isn’t #8–he isn’t being arrogant when making his point–he is actually being quite rational. He is actually making a very good point. Why would you come to a “deconversion blog” with an “open mind”, “open to the possiblitiy of being re-converted”? What would make one think that coming to a blog dealing with deconversion is going to help in any way on a path back towards reconversion? I agree with Jim—-that a very contradictory statement to make.

    The answer is right in front of you, Coop, and it reveals your bias that you’ve missed it. Check the title of this blog….

  • 309. Cooper  |  October 3, 2008 at 1:35 pm

    BigHouse—

    Read this again:

    From the post—I came to THIS blog with an open mind. I wasn’t a hardened atheist set in my ways or confident in my position. I was open to the possibility of being re-converted by a strong, rational argument for God, but the longer I converse with Christians the more certain I am of my atheism, and the more I see the Christian faith as hollow, blind, self-fulfilling, and frankly, silly.

    Again, why would you be coming to a “deconversion” blog if you were open to a possibility of being re-converted? Why would you be looking for a rational argument FOR GOD on a blog where the concept of God is totally questioned? That is extremely contradictory. So, I’m not sure what you mean when you say it is right in front of my face?

  • 310. BigHouse  |  October 3, 2008 at 1:41 pm

    Sheesh, Coop, I can’t do all the heavy lifting for you.

    The title of this blog is:

    de-conversion: Resources for skeptical, de-converting, or former Christians.

    Emphasis mine.

    This place isn’t only for the already de-converted, it’s a place for those seeking answers to discuss the issues with those either in a similar skeptical state or further down the de-conversion path. To me, this place seems EXACTLY like the right place to get answers, IF your mode is truly to get information from all sides.

    Notw that the post also said that she continued talk9ing to Christians as well. Sounds like she sought answers from all sides and ended up de-converting.

    Seeking the truth of Christianity only from the pulpit is like trying to figure out if Pepsi is the best cola by only drinking Pepsi.

  • 311. orDover  |  October 3, 2008 at 1:46 pm

    Jim J wrote,
    I know I’m late to this discussion, but what a contradictory statement this is! To paraphrase what the poster is saying, “I came to this strip club in the hope that I would overcome my problem with lust.”

    My statement, “I came to this blog with an open mind. I wasn’t a hardened atheist set in my ways or confident in my position. I was open to the possibility of being re-converted by a strong, rational argument for God…” isn’t contradictory, but Jim J has read an underlying purpose for me coming to the blog that was not there, thus making it seem contradictory to him. I did NOT come to this blog to be re-converted. I did not think coming to this blog would help me find God again or overcome my disbelief. I was already de-converted and I came to be able to communicate with people who had similar experiences as I had. But along with that, I was OPEN to being re-converted. I didn’t seek that out here, but I hadn’t slammed the door on the idea of God. In fact, when I first started reading the blog I didn’t read the comments at all. I wasn’t interested for what the Christians said, I was at the blog to discuss what it is like to live life as a former Christian. But along the way, I was open to the idea of a Christian coming along and showing me where I had gone wrong, or making an argument that would convince me, here or anywhere else.

  • 312. orDover  |  October 3, 2008 at 1:50 pm

    Again, why would you be coming to a “deconversion” blog if you were open to a possibility of being re-converted? Why would you be looking for a rational argument FOR GOD on a blog where the concept of God is totally questioned? That is extremely contradictory. So, I’m not sure what you mean when you say it is right in front of my face?

    I’m going to say this one more time, even though I just said it above. I DID NOT come here to find a rational argument for God. That was NOT my purpose here. I came her to talk to other de-converts. That’s it. But while I was here, at that particular point in my life in general, I was open to being re-converted. The two things don’t have anything to do with one another.

  • 313. Cooper  |  October 3, 2008 at 2:20 pm

    Sheesh, Coop, I can’t do all the heavy lifting for you.

    The title of this blog is:

    de-conversion: Resources for skeptical, de-converting, or former Christians.

    Emphasis mine.

    You make it sound like it is “obvious”. Let me just say though BigHouse—orDover doesn’t say she was “skeptical”- read #312–she came here to talk “talk to other deconverts–that’s it” according to her. But in her article she said she was “open to reconversion”—I was just asking why, if you were deconverted, you would have the idea that anything here might lead you to back to believing in God. She has clarified in #312 though that that was not her intent. I think she confused Jim J and I by what she originally wrote was all. No problem.

  • 314. BigHouse  |  October 3, 2008 at 2:32 pm

    Coop, you must work on your reading comprehension. see orDover’s explanations above as they do it best justice.

    And your obvious jab is completely limp. The title IS obvious, it’s right up there in black and white. Methinks you really don’t know what this workd means…

  • 315. Erudite Redneck  |  October 3, 2008 at 3:20 pm

    For what it’s worth, I woulda just zipped on past this place if “skeptical” had not been in this: “Resources for skeptical, de-converting, or former Christians.”

  • 316. Cooper  |  October 3, 2008 at 3:22 pm

    :) I’m noticing more and more on the board how it is OK for decons to use words like “obvious”, “it’s right in front of you” or
    “wtihout a shadow of a doubt” at leisure—-but if a Christian uses them it’s anathema. You need to re-read orDover’s original story, and then her following posts. Jim J posted a thought and I immediately had to agree with is main thought. I may not agree with the sarcasm used regarding the strip club, but I do agree with his observation regarding the contradiction of terms. If you feel orDover’s explanation is understandable to you—fine–that’s your opinion. But basically that’s all we both can state here—our opinions.

    But enough of the back and forth—-we’ll “obviously” get nowhere with this. :)

    BigHouse—–by the way, do you really golf, or were you just using that in your analogy?

  • 317. Cooper  |  October 3, 2008 at 3:26 pm

    For what it’s worth, I woulda just zipped on past this place if “skeptical” had not been in this: “Resources for skeptical, de-converting, or former Christians.”

    ER—

    That’s good to know. But again, orDover said she had already deconverted, and came here for conversations with other decons. She was “open” to reconversion if someone could prevent a good argument. If the word “skeptical” is in the title, what makes one think anyone will present a good argument FOR God’s existence here? Wouldn’t you more likely find just the opposite? That was my point.

  • 318. Cooper  |  October 3, 2008 at 3:27 pm

    I meant “present a good argument” not “prevent”

  • 319. BigHouse  |  October 3, 2008 at 3:28 pm

    I’m noticing more and more on the board how it is OK for decons to use words like “obvious”, “it’s right in front of you” or
    “wtihout a shadow of a doubt” at leisure—-but if a Christian uses them it’s anathema.

    Sorry, not true. Use the word correctly and you won’t called out on it.

    And I’m sorry if orDover’s story is confusing to you. Are you sure you aren’t reading what you want to read instead of what’s actually down on the blog?

    I do golf, when time permits, which is regrettably not all that often :-(.

  • 320. BigHouse  |  October 3, 2008 at 3:28 pm

    Bad italics, they should close after anathema.

  • 321. Cooper  |  October 3, 2008 at 3:38 pm

    I do golf, when time permits, which is regrettably not all that often :-(.

    I know what you mean. :(

  • 322. bobbi jo  |  October 3, 2008 at 4:34 pm

    Wouldn’t you say that critical thinking and emotional thinking would go hand in hand? Shouldn’t there be a balance between the two? It seems one extreme or the other would be detrimental.

  • 323. orDover  |  October 3, 2008 at 5:15 pm

    No.

  • 324. Erudite Redneck  |  October 3, 2008 at 6:53 pm

    Not a balance between emotion and critical thinking, I wouldn’t be for that, either. .. Emotion is to critical thinking as salt is to flavor.

    Passionate thoughts drive science, politics, religion, every human endeavor. Excitement comes with discovery and fuels further exploration. Sad thoughts also can inspire one who has been sidelined by circumstances and their associated facts to start up again. Cool, unemotional detachment seems a goal, not a solid state, to me, human beans bein’ what they are.

  • 325. Cooper  |  October 3, 2008 at 6:59 pm

    Wouldn’t you say that critical thinking and emotional thinking would go hand in hand? Shouldn’t there be a balance between the two? It seems one extreme or the other would be detrimental.

    Bobbi Jo—

    I remember seeing a study where they said that those who think very logically and critically (accountants, engineers, etc.) use one side of the brain far more than the other. Where those who think more “emotionally” (artists, musicians, poets, etc.) use the other side of the brain far more. If you ask someone who thinks critically though if they think there should be a balance between the two you will most likely get a one word answer. :)

  • 326. Griffin  |  October 3, 2008 at 9:57 pm

    Cooper:

    As an artist and an atheist, I can tell you that the ability to think with one side of my brain or the other doesn’t prevent me from realizing that emotional thinking doesn’t lead to the truth.

    That said, the connection between hemispherical activity and personality is considered less strong than it was advertised to be in the past. Also, I think you confuse ‘emotional thinking’ for creativity. Creativity has very little to do with ‘emotional thinking.’

  • 327. orDover  |  October 3, 2008 at 10:05 pm

    Griffin is absolutely right. All of the “right brain/left brain” stuff is an unscientific assertion and readily debunked by modern neurologists.

    As for ER’s comment #325, I didn’t say people shouldn’t have emotions, I said they shouldn’t think with them, meaning they should not used them as a basis for decision making. You might be really excited about a scientific discovery you have made that will lead to something else, but it might not actually be prudent to develop that “something else,” even though it makes you excited. That is the one lesson we all can learn from J. Robert Oppenheimer.

  • 328. Erudite Redneck  |  October 3, 2008 at 11:08 pm

    Huh? The discovery of atomics was not “wrong.” Was it? The uses to which it was put are what’s questionable. Not the science itself — unless you want to apply some transcendent morality to scientifc research and discovery. If so, you wouldn’t be the first, and I wouldn’t necessarily disagree with you.

  • 329. orDover  |  October 3, 2008 at 11:54 pm

    It’s a really long story, but no, I’m not talking about nuclear weapons in general, but the specific circumstances surrounding the creation of the first ones. I’ll try to summarize it briefly. It was basically something that completely obsessed Oppenheimer, and he wouldn’t give it up, even though his friends and colleagues thought that would be the most prudent thing to do. He wouldn’t even give it up after Germany surrendered, even though the expressed purpose of the Los Alamos project was to develop a nuclear weapon before Hitler. After Germany surrendered almost everyone wanted to abandon the project since it was no longer really needed, but the obsession of a few scientists kept it going. The fact that a bomb could theoretically be made gripped Oppenheimer, and he couldn’t give it up. They could have stopped their research where it was and used all they had discovered about nuclear energy to develop power plants or use it toward other positive goals, but the the irrational obsession with the possibility of the bomb saw the bomb realized and unnecessarily detonated. No, it’s not Oppenheimer’s fault that the bombs were dropped, but he could have abandoned the project like so many prudently urged. It’s largely believed, by the way, that Japan would have surrendered very soon even if we hadn’t dropped the bomb, what with all of their allies surrendering and its economy in turmoil. The deployment of the two bombs is considered by many historians (including those who lived through the events) to have been completely superfluous.

    It is an example of discovery fueled by irrational obsession, not critical thought, and it had a negative outcome. Scientific discoveries can indeed have moral implications. Oppenheimer himself said that after the bomb “physicists have known sin.”

    But I really don’t want to derail this thread any further. If you want to start a thread about science and morality you can do so in the forum–the link is to the right. My point is that the Los Alamos situation could have been handled better if there had been a bit less emotional thinking and a bit more critical thinking.

  • 330. xacrest  |  October 4, 2008 at 12:05 am

    I could’ve sworn that creativity is determined by right brain activity, but what’s that got to do with emotional thinking? Just because you’re creative doesn’t mean you can’t think critically (I’ve been called ‘creative’ so I most certainly hope not). Does that mean that artists etc. are all religious people who rely on emotions? Nope. Many artists and so on are atheists as well or come up with their own meanings for life and philosophy, using logic a lot. Schoenberg, the modern composer, invented a systematic 12-tone matrix for the composition of seemingly random music. (the result sounds really weird, but hey, music is music). Critical thinking and creativity work together.

    I have to agree with ER in part though. Critical thinking and logic are useful in discoveries etc. and revelations and so on. The ‘emotional’ thinking, if that’s not a paradox, is what determines what you do with these discoveries. The nuclear bomb, as an often favoured example. Again, morality (hmm… or karma?)

  • 331. silentj  |  October 4, 2008 at 8:42 am

    orDover,

    “All of the “right brain/left brain” stuff is an unscientific assertion and readily debunked by modern neurologists. ”

    Are you sure? I know that MANY people take it to far (as if we only use one side of our brain), but there is research that indicates different kinds of processing on each side, even while they share a lot of abilities.

  • 332. john t.  |  October 4, 2008 at 8:51 am

    Im reading an interesting book on the right/left attributes of the brain. Pretty neat, its called “My stroke of insight” Jill Boyte Taylor.

  • 333. Erudite Redneck  |  October 4, 2008 at 10:03 am

    orDover, thanks for explaining further. I see your point now. I’ll have to think on whether that kind of obsession is an emotion, though.

    Can’t wait to read “My Stroke of Insight,” BTW, after hearing the authur on NPR.

  • 334. orDover  |  October 4, 2008 at 1:53 pm

    ER, whether or not it was emotional thinking I suppose could be up to interpretation, but it was indeed a lack of critical thinking.

    silentj & john t.,

    Yes, I’m sure the right brain/left brain stuff is a myth. I’ve spend a lot of time looking into it and arguing about it, in fact. There are indeed separate hemispheres, and there is very slight hemisphere dominance in every person, but that is contingent upon where the language area of your brain is–Broca’s area. For almost everyone, that area is located on the left hemisphere, and thus there is a slight left hemisphere dominance in almost every single person alive. If the right brain/left brain determining personality is real, then we should have virtually no artists. Also, a large percentage of left-handed people have the slight hemisphere dominance in the right, so if this myth were true then we should see a clear correlation between left-handedness and creativity, which we don’t see.

    But aside from the fact that we do in fact have many artists, both right and left handed, and many creative people, the right brain/left brain dichotomy is too simplistic. It doesn’t account for the fact that every task we complete uses both sides of our brain. Even speech, which is localized on the left, needs interaction from the right. Everything from painting a picture to doing a math equation uses nearly-equal parts of both sides of the brain.

    It’s just a popular myth, and sadly Jill Bolte Taylor has used her expertise to propagate the myth while pedaling new-age spirituality.

    Here are a few links if you guys are interested in reading on this topic further:
    Left Brain Right Brain – New Scientist
    Excerpt from Prophets of PsychHeresy II, “Right-Brain/Left-Brain Psuedoscience”
    A Scientific American article that explains the hemisphere’s roles in processing emotion, and concludes with something that sums up this myth nicely, “the popular notion of an ‘emotional’ right hemisphere that contrasts sharply with a ‘rational’ left hemisphere is like a crude pencil sketch made before a full-color painting: many nuances are waiting to be added. Emotional communication involves so many brain regions and connecting channels that the right hemisphere hypothesis has only limited validity.” So with the case of emotional processing, again, there might be some hemisphere dominance, but both hemispheres play an important part, even in something like emotions that are supposed to be isolated to one side.

    But again, these examples of slight hemisphere dominance have nothing to do with personality and nothing to do with an ability to “live in the moment” or not.

  • 335. orDover  |  October 4, 2008 at 2:03 pm

    Here is some critical reading on Jill Bolte Taylor:
    Critical thinking about the Jill Bolte Taylor video, with links to further readings

    Neuroscientist’s Stroke Raises Questions about the Relevance of Brain Science to Business

  • 336. bigham  |  October 7, 2008 at 7:52 pm

    “The Most Outrageous Claim in the Bible”

  • 337. abellaspectra  |  October 9, 2008 at 11:42 pm

    You all have been looking to the wrong source,
    Rather than trying to let people convince you
    About whether God exist why not let Him convince
    You Himself.
    He is inviting you to a personal relationship with him
    Not a belief in what other people say.

  • 338. BigHouse  |  October 10, 2008 at 8:46 am

    You all have been looking to the wrong source,
    Rather than trying to let people convince you
    About whether God exist why not let Him convince
    You Himself.
    He is inviting you to a personal relationship with him
    Not a belief in what other people say.

    Umm, then why did he have men write a book as his way of conveying his message?

  • 339. abellaspectra  |  October 10, 2008 at 4:42 pm

    The bible is one way that God communicates with people. It is and inerrant document where in God reveals his character. But reading the bible is not the only way people experience God. For example from reading the bible one gets the idea that God wants people to talk with him which is exactly what prayer is. For example Jesus who is our supreme example of how to behave had a habit of getting up in the morning and talking with God the Father. So rather than having unconvincing 2nd hand experiences of God you should try talking with him through prayer. And yes even though you are an unbeliever you can pray to God. Tell him anything you want to, just be prepared for the response He gives.

  • 340. Quester  |  October 10, 2008 at 4:57 pm

    In ten years of trying, the response has been silence. Any other suggestions?

  • 341. abellaspectra  |  October 11, 2008 at 12:22 am

    Quester-

    I don’t mean to discount your experience, I don’t know what you have tried doing in your efforts to find God. But a question I have for you is have you actually tried to address him yourself or have you been waiting for him to address you. I’m not saying God won’t just come out of the blue and talk to you, but you might try initiating the conversation with him, you know by saying something like “God if you are out there please make yourself known to me”. You might also try attending a church service, God is after all known to show up in church on occasion. I add this caveat however not all churches are created equal, don’t just go to any church, go to one that has a good reputation. You might also try looking at online church resources for example Lifechurch.tv is a great one

    http://www.lifechurch.tv/message-archive

    See if God speaks to you through one of those messages.
    You might also try checking out my wordpress blog
    godspaceblog.wordpress.com. God is out there so keep looking for Him and be encouraged by the words of scripture which say
    “Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the LORD” Jeremiah 29:12-14

    I wish you the best of luck in your search for God

  • 342. Quester  |  October 11, 2008 at 3:46 pm

    Abella,

    For three of those aforementioned ten years, I was a Christian pastor. I assure you that during that time, I occasionally attended a church service with a decent reputation.

    Thanks for trying. Feel free to come back when you have some evidence of a divine to share with us. The more I’ve looked, the less I’ve found- until I realized there was nothing to find.

  • 343. SnugglyBuffalo  |  October 11, 2008 at 7:24 pm

    Abella, while I appreciate your apparent sincerity, you’re asking us to do what we’ve all already done. I’m fairly certain every non-believer on this blog has earnestly sought God, and found nothing.

  • 344. abellaspectra  |  October 13, 2008 at 3:48 pm

    First of all let me apologize for not writing this response yesterday, because yesterday I had a clearer idea of what I wanted to say, so pardon me if this comes out like a jumbled mess.

    Quester and SnugglyBuffalo (great screen name by the way) I like you both because you two like many on this post are critical thinkers, you are not dummies, so perhaps you will appreciate the nature of this argument.

    What Quester and Buffalo are doing is forcing us to make a decision, but one based on critical thinking and not blind faith.

    I say that I have searched for God and found Him. There for He exist

    They say that they have searched for God and Found nothing. Therefore He doesn’t exist.

    Frankly I think that puts the burden of proof on them because I can sooner deny the existence of my mother (Whose birthday it is by the way) than I can God. For example if I say that my mother exist and you say she doesn’t you’re the one who should come up with evidence that my experience with my mother have all been in some way false.

    What I’ve been doing in these posts is trying to point everyone to resources and methods which they can use to initiate an encounter with God, and what better proof do you need that God exist than to actually meet Him.

    The claim I make does not stand merely on my own experience and opinion, millions if not billions have this same belief, and God word also stands as proof of his existence.

    Belief in God in not something you can reason your way to as we have heard time and again, it will require a measure of faith. Hebrew 11: 1 defines faith as the substance of those things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen. God’s word can provide that evidence of the unseen that we need to believe in him, and not just to believe in him but to believe in every other promise he makes, and here is how.
    God says in his word:
    If you seek me you will find me,

    Jeremiah 29: 12-14
    Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the LORD,

    Matthew 7:7 Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:

    therefore standing on this word you can say God if you are real you word by default is also real and true, and I believe that as I seek you I will find you. Here in stead of waiting to be convinced about whether God exist you have already in a sense placed a deposit towards a belief in God by reminding him to stand by his word.
    Allow me to give you an illustration. Suppose you receive a coupon in the mail which says if you go to such and such dealer ship, you will receive a new car on the spot. At first you are very skeptical of this claim however, you decide to go to the dealership and show them the coupon not quite having the faith to believe you will get the car, but at least having the faith to believe that if the claim is true the dealership will stand by it promise. This is better than just discarding the coupon as false all together and not making any attempts to go to the dealership.
    Jeremiah 29 and Matt 7 can be the things that get you to the door of God’s dealership.

    You can also find the faith to believe in God in other ways for example you can have faith that me and the millions of other believers beside me have actually found God, and therefore you can as well. You can look at Christian resources, such as lifechurch.tv, and of course my blog godspaceblog.wordpress.com and have faith that as you view these resources God will speak to you through them. You can also have faith that I did not write this very long post in vain but in belief that someone would get something out of it.

    I will be praying that you all come to a true and lasting knowledge of God and the truth encompassed in his word, because this is a truth that we don’t just find out for ourselves once and then leave behind, but instead it is the beginning of a wonderful relationship with God which will utterly transform your life, and that is no small claim

    Thanks for reading

  • 345. Quester  |  October 13, 2008 at 4:17 pm

    If we were trying to convince you of something, you might be able to argue that we have some burden of proof. I can’t speak for Snug, but I don’t feel any need to convince you. God may exist, but I have searched for years and can not find God. That proves nothing other than I have not found God, but I see no reason to continue beating my head against a wall thinking that this time there might be a door.

  • 346. Ubi Dubium  |  October 13, 2008 at 4:22 pm

    Sorry, bible verses don’t do it for me. Neither does your feeling inside that “god exists”. If you are happy that way, fine. It doesn’t work for me.

    There is no burden of proof on me to establish that god does not exist, because I am not trying to persuade you to believe that. You bear the burden of proof if you are trying to convince me a god does exist. I’ve read your bible, cover-to-cover, twice, in two different translations. I have no evidence that it is anything more than a book of tribal lore and mysticism, written by humans. I was raised going to church, and immersed in youth groups and sunday school. I don’t think you have said anything so far I did not hear back then.

    If there is a god out there that has any physical effect on the world at all, we should be able to measure that effect. And if that effect is not in any way measurable, then I don’t see why I should concern myself with such a being. I have more concrete evidence for the Flying Spaghetti Monster (pesto be upon him) or the Invisible Pink Unicorn.

  • 347. orDover  |  October 13, 2008 at 4:50 pm

    I say that I have searched for God and found Him. There for He exist

    They say that they have searched for God and Found nothing. Therefore He doesn’t exist.

    Frankly I think that puts the burden of proof on them

    Well, frankly, you’re wrong. The burden of proof is laid upon the one who makes extraordinary claims (which means supernatural claims, claims that defy the scientifically observable world.) It isn’t up to me to disprove UFOs, it is up to those who make the extraordinary claims of alien abduction to prove them. Likewise it isn’t up to me to disprove God, it is up to his believers to prove their extraordinary claims.

  • 348. silentj  |  October 13, 2008 at 6:04 pm

    Although, the car coupon is an interesting take on Pascal’s wager.

  • 349. SnugglyBuffalo  |  October 13, 2008 at 6:39 pm

    abella-

    Allow me to give you an illustration. Suppose you receive a coupon in the mail which says if you go to such and such dealer ship, you will receive a new car on the spot. At first you are very skeptical of this claim however, you decide to go to the dealership and show them the coupon not quite having the faith to believe you will get the car, but at least having the faith to believe that if the claim is true the dealership will stand by it promise. This is better than just discarding the coupon as false all together and not making any attempts to go to the dealership.
    Jeremiah 29 and Matt 7 can be the things that get you to the door of God’s dealership.

    It still feels like you’re treating us like people who’ve never accepted Christ, never believed in God. I believed in God for 23 years as an evangelical Christian. I had experiences I attributed to God and I was convinced he was there.

    I no longer believe those experiences were God, and when I try to look for anything concrete about God I find nothing but hearsay.

    I had faith for 23 years as a devout Christian, and am now, in year 24, convinced that the God described in the Bible does not exist.

  • 350. SnugglyBuffalo  |  October 13, 2008 at 6:41 pm

    I keep losing my login and thus my buffalo x-ing avatar, kinda frustrating… Only on my work machine, too, my home computer has no trouble with this. Of course, maybe I shouldn’t be visiting this site while at work :P

  • 351. silentj  |  October 13, 2008 at 7:59 pm

    I keep losing my login

    Maybe you didn’t login hard enough. ;)

  • 352. Digital Dame  |  October 13, 2008 at 10:47 pm

    I keep losing my login and thus my buffalo x-ing avatar

    More likely a lack of faith in the work computer. If you don’t
    BELIEVE it will show up there, it probably won’t.

  • 353. abellaspectra  |  October 14, 2008 at 9:35 am

    You all are an unusual bunch, some of you are people who have put forth much effort to find God and have not found Him, or have become unconvinced that He is not there. What I am saying I will probably work for the majority of people (make an effort to seek God and you will find Him). But I am not giving up on you all just yet, because God is after all out there.
    Perhaps you should stop banging your head again the door, as Quester was talking about, and try turning the knob. The way you turn the knob however is with faith.
    Faith is something that you will need your entire Christian life so if you don’t have it now you will not fair to well, when and if you become a Christian.
    We don’t have all the answers but God does, and that is why He asks us to trust Him. God is not on our level (He is wicked wicked smart) we will never completely understand who He is or what He does. Even if God did take the time to explain how He was going to bring about some event in your life that He told you to trust him about, for example how will me writing this post change the minds of atheists (that one I’ve asked God frequently in the last hour) by the time God finished fully explaining it would take so long that you would probably be dead. (You can tell by how long these posts have been that it takes a while to explain the working of God especially to those who don’t believe in Him.)

    Ubi Dubium I think you make an excellent point

    If there is a god out there that has any physical effect on the world at all, we should be able to measure that effect. And if that effect is not in any way measurable, then I don’t see why I should concern myself with such a being.

    God has executed huge physical effects on my life, for example believe it or not I use hate writing (I would avoid it like the plague), now God has tied it into the purpose of my life. I can go on and on about the things God and no one else has done for me (For example explain how I got a full tuition scholarship to college when I had flunked nearly 2 subjects and had almost no extracurricular to speak of.
    And this does not just apply to my life when you look at the world it makes a whole lot more sense when you include God in your viewpoint.

    Why don’t you stop being skeptics for second, read over what I’ve written in my posts try my suggestions, and then say whether you have found God or not.

    Thanks again for reading have a blessed day

  • 354. BigHouse  |  October 14, 2008 at 9:52 am

    bella, since you’ve gotten over your bugaboo for writing you may want to work on your reading next. Start with ACTUALLY reading the posts BEFORE you respond to them.

    If you can muster up the strength, I’d read the posts marked by the red exclamtation mark to the right as well. They cover a lot of what you think you are cleverly uncovering for the first time.

    And in your first paragraph, you say that what you suggest should work for MOST people. What if this collective here happens to be the group it DOESN’T work for? Then what?

  • 355. orDover  |  October 14, 2008 at 10:38 am

    God has executed huge physical effects on my life, for example believe…

    The Hindu and Muslim make the exact same claims. I’ve seen them here on this blog.

    And this does not just apply to my life when you look at the world it makes a whole lot more sense when you include God in your viewpoint.

    No, it doesn’t. God is completely superfluous, if he exists at all. The universe is completely capable of being explained without a creator or god at the helm. Adding God is like adding an extra second layer of icing to a cake. It is unnecessary, and more than that, it is confusing. Darwin wrote, “The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference.” He is right. If you add in a God, then things become problematic. You have to start the run-around of apologetics to explain the “pitiless indifference” we see where we are told we should see a loving god. You then have to invent concepts like “original sin” and “the fall” which both make no sense in the light of evolution. You have to find ways to explain why there aren’t real miracles. You have to spend your entire life authoring excuses for an absent god.

    Why don’t you stop being skeptics for second, read over what I’ve written in my posts try my suggestions, and then say whether you have found God or not.

    It’s impossible for someone who is truly skeptically minded to stop being skeptical, even for a second. And it is especially impossible for them to stop being skeptical when it comes to considering an important decision, like whether or not to believe in god.

    What you seem to not be understanding is that we have all already tried your suggestions. We’ve tried everything you could ever think to suggest, because we were Christians just like you.

    I’m getting really really really sick of the “just seek God” gambit. I wrote about it in the original post here, and my feelings remain the same. “Theoretically, we could seek God all of our lives and never really find what we’re looking for, despite the fact that scripture promises that those who earnestly search for God will have no trouble finding him.” I think Christians like to throw out the “seek God” plea so often because it is a giant moving goalpost. No amount of time or sincerity of language will convince a Christian that an apostate sought God hard enough or long enough or whatever. Because of their moving goalpost, they can relax with the “knowledge” intact that anyone who seeks God will find him, despite the fact that there are contradictions to that claim staring them in the face. It’s intellectually dishonest and a great example of cognitive dissonance.

  • 356. EricBlair  |  October 14, 2008 at 1:30 pm

    Hey just checked out the site and there seems to be a more cordial discussion than I often find.

    Having been a Christian for many years I have seen quite a few people de-convert for various reasons – some have simply stopped going to church or stopped trying to hold to the biblical standards.

    I am curious to know if you, Dover, have considered the possibility that you might have actually encountered God during the time you were a believer and simply decided that since the experience wasn’t good enough or did not measure up to your expectations – that that this means God does not exist. I would assume you have – but you know what they say about assuming.

    So that’s my try at different argument – If you have heard this before then be gentle with me!

  • 357. orDover  |  October 14, 2008 at 2:43 pm

    I am curious to know if you, Dover, have considered the possibility that you might have actually encountered God during the time you were a believer and simply decided that since the experience wasn’t good enough or did not measure up to your expectations – that that this means God does not exist. I would assume you have – but you know what they say about assuming.

    When I was a Christian I believed that I encountered God just as all Christian do. I didn’t think that my experience was greater or less than what was to be expected. It was just the experience of a regular Christian having a personal relationship with God, meaning that I prayed for comfort and felt comfort, and prayed for help and received assistance, and saw God “working” in my life and life of my those around me. I saw exactly as much of God as I expected to. I didn’t feel that God was absent in my life or anything like that.

    But the conclusion I have come to is not based on my personal emotional experiences. That is a problematic system to base anything on. It’s anecdotal, and as such is not acceptable evidence for anything. What I concluded as I de-converted was no that God was absent from my life and therefore non-existence, but that God was in my head, basically one big placebo. I could be wrong, but I’m not going to let my emotions and anecdotal evidence decide for me. I didn’t decide to de-convert because I didn’t “feel” God anymore, or didn’t experience him like I thought I was supposed to. I de-converted for a much more cerebral reason. Putting aside emotions and feelings, I weighed the evidence (that is actual empirical evidenced, not anecdotes), and concluded that there were insufficient arguments for a Christian God, and no significant evidence for God period.

  • 358. Ubi Dubium  |  October 14, 2008 at 3:02 pm

    I think my experience was similar. There are many experiences that are common to all people, those of all religions and of no religion. A feeling of wonder, a twinge of conscience, an uncanny coincidence, the emotional impact of being part of an excited crowd. When I would feel one of those, the church would tell me that it was “god” at those moments. Now, from the outside looking back in, I don’t think it was “god” at those times, I think it was the human capacity for seeing exactly what we want to see.

  • 359. bobbi jo  |  October 15, 2008 at 4:28 pm

    “Also, a large percentage of left-handed people have the slight hemisphere dominance in the right, so if this myth were true then we should see a clear correlation between left-handedness and creativity, which we don’t see.”

    Hmm…weird that my daughter is left handed and the most gifted artist…and my mom is left handed and an artist too…and then there’s me who’s right handed and works with numbers all day….weird. ;)

    I am sure you have heard this before but….
    I wonder if God has hardened you using logic or critical thinking or doubt as your hardener. Of course I am going under the assumption that God is able to do that whenever and to whoever He wants to Glorify Himself. How it glorifies Him, I’m still trying to figure out. But if it is critical thinking that hardened you, then you would think it was yourself making that decision that there is no God. Which would be pretty ironic if God was really the one who did it…

  • 360. BigHouse  |  October 15, 2008 at 4:38 pm

    Hmm…weird that my daughter is left handed and the most gifted artist…and my mom is left handed and an artist too…and then there’s me who’s right handed and works with numbers all day….weird.

    Not weird, just a small sample size.

    And if God hardens your heart, what’s a mere mortal to do?

  • 361. orDover  |  October 15, 2008 at 5:51 pm

    Hmm…weird that my daughter is left handed and the most gifted artist…and my mom is left handed and an artist too…and then there’s me who’s right handed and works with numbers all day….weird.

    I’m a decent artist and I’m right handed. My husband is a brilliant musician and composer who can play any song by ear on any instrument you happen to put in front of him and is also right handed. My sister is a very talented photographer, also a righty.

    Small sample size is right.

    I am sure you have heard this before but….
    I wonder if God has hardened you using logic or critical thinking or doubt as your hardener. Of course I am going under the assumption that God is able to do that whenever and to whoever He wants to Glorify Himself.

    If God has hardened me heart then he sure has violated that free will that the majority of Christians claims he gives to all people. If he “hardened” me then there is nothing I can do about it. He has forced me to reject him. It would be up to him to soften me.

  • 362. bobbi jo  |  October 15, 2008 at 6:25 pm

    I agree with you Ordover on the hardening. I think most christians do not have an acurate portrayal of free will. We are free within the boundry of our desires. I only eat when I desire food, but I am free to eat at any time. He has changed your desires so that they are not towards Him, for whatever reason, and He can change them to be towards Him again as well. I probably do a disservice to free will, however if you want to check out a serman I heard on free will go to cdomaha.com and click resources and then on objections to christianity and there is the free will serman. you might not agree with it, but it is certainly a different perspective on free will than I have ever heard. Let me know what you think. Have a great night!

    Bobbi Jo

  • 363. Are Karlsen  |  October 25, 2008 at 9:05 am

    You said:
    This criticism certainly doesn’t apply to all of the Christian commentors, but it does sum up the general Holier-Than-Thou attitude of the average proselytizer.

    Lesson:
    If you are seeking having your prejudices affirmed, you will succeed.

  • 364. HeDiedOnATreeForMe  |  October 26, 2008 at 8:45 pm

    yes i am a christian.
    i just wanted to point out that i my self get fed up with the way christians are looked at as a whole. and am sorry for that. i see it in my own church and aboslutly hate it. i pray that i can be as genuine as possible and that others can see that yeah i mess up but there’s something there that’s different.

    anyways!! about being punished for looking at other religions like innen zen said i personally think that makes no sense. my pastor’s persuade us to question everything that we learn from them. if we think they say something is wrong then research into it and make up your own mind on the subject. same with religion. look into other religions and see what they’re about. but i have looked and they all seem to be wrong to me when i look back to God.

  • 365. Jeffrey  |  October 26, 2008 at 9:10 pm

    >and am sorry for that. i see it in my own church and aboslutly hate it.

    I appreciate the way you are trying to help make Christianity better. That’s makes you valuable to whatever group you are in. But you have to ask yourself – am I on the right side? “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” You shouldn’t have to apologize for Christians behavior – skeptics should be have to explain away how Christians are so good.

    You can tell yourself that revival is needed, but “needing revival” looks precisely the way Christianity would look if there was no Holy Spirit guiding people and if the Bible was merely a book written by men.

    >but i have looked and they all seem to be wrong to me when i look back to God.

    What does that mean? You close your eyes, pray, and just see how it “feels?” When you do that, the way it “feels” will pretty much always correspond with what you believe – whether or not what you believe is true. Some people listen to hymns and pray about them and think they just “feel” dead. Others listen to contemporary worship and think it just “feels” like the music of the devil, or at least not pleasing to God. What’s going on, is that going by how something “feels” is no different from just deciding that what you thought before is what you should continue thinking.

    Research and critical thinking are excellent first steps. But then “looking back to God” instead of judging the ideas rationally throws it all away.

  • 366. matt  |  November 3, 2008 at 6:32 am

    orDover, you’re just like pharaoh. You’re heart has been hardened by god. Watch out for the plague of frogs…

  • 367. Ubi Dubium  |  November 3, 2008 at 10:42 am

    orDover, you’re just like pharaoh. You’re heart has been hardened by god. Watch out for the plague of frogs…

    Now, a plague of frogs – that would be something real! Instead of all the circular arguments and preaching and feelings, how about if all the believers prayed for a rain of bullfrogs. If it then actually did rain bullfrogs, there would be a lot of instant converts. However, I am predicting a 0% chance of frogs tomorrow…

  • 368. orDover  |  November 3, 2008 at 11:39 am

    orDover, you’re just like pharaoh. You’re heart has been hardened by god. Watch out for the plague of frogs…

    You’re probably at least the fifth person to tell me this. But obviously, if God hardened my like he hardened Pharaoh’s, then there’s nothing I can do about it, hu? God has forced me into atheism.

  • 369. Josh  |  November 3, 2008 at 1:24 pm

    “But obviously, if God hardened my like he hardened Pharaoh’s, then there’s nothing I can do about it”

    My attitude is similar: if God has not predestined me for heaven, then there is absolutely nothing I can do about it (I know the message, I just do not and cannot believe it at this time). So then, just as Pharoah’s hardness of heart was used by (and instituted by) God for His glory, I should be the best damn atheist I can so that God gets more glory!

  • 370. SnugglyBuffalo  |  November 3, 2008 at 1:49 pm

    You know, my mom’s made the same “hardened heart” comment a few times, but she always stops short of saying that it’s God who’s doing the hardening.

  • 371. Not a Church Goer anymore  |  November 3, 2008 at 4:18 pm

    Religion is a Farce…I’m not an athiest, I believe in a God, an intellegent being, that started the whole cosmic cycle, but relgion is a man made cancer, middle east is a prime example. in ref to the hardening of heart and predestination (Calvinism), if that’s the case why create anybody, if just a few peoples going to be saved, what sense does that make?? we didn’t asked to be here so why damn us from the start…And I don’t want to hear that get out of jail free card answer: It’s his plan!! By the way Pharoh hardened his own heart, God just assisted him. Slap me around a few times and my heart will be harden too, maybe to the point of whipping some ass. People use the brain God gave you and think, ask questions, because, alot of stuff you’re being taught by these so called men of God absolutely makes no sense.

  • 372. randy  |  November 19, 2008 at 11:25 pm

    orDover you have some interesting points…you made it onesided though. I like to touch on 2 of your points just to be fair and balanced.

    When speaking of Christians you stated

    1. They never bring anything new to the table.
    2. They present no convincing arguements

    1. sooooo what new revelations do deconverts, atheists, or freethinkers have that can literally open the eyes of every
    believer? Nothing new. I heard it all. Same quotes, same
    beliefs, same arguements, same everything. What you say today was said by someone else and by someone else for
    several thousand years. Atheism is as old as the Bible. So
    atheists as well as Christians have brought nothing new to
    the table. So I ask you this question “How many atheists have
    been killed at the hands of a Christian and how many Christians have been killed at the hands of an atheist?” Maybe thats something new for the table.

    2. Presenting no convincing arguement? How can any Christian present a convincing arguement if we have brought nothing new to the table? BTW we are not here to ‘convince’. It is not our job to convince but preach. Ya know, ya read your bible through and through, tell me where Jesus says to go out and convince the world with arguemets about Him. I can honestly say this though, there is one thing that an atheist has convinced me of and that is I need to keep a dictionary next to me so I can look up all those big fancy words ya ppl use : )

    orDover here is the bottom line.

    Atheists and Christians have argued for thousands of years. Great debates have been held at the good ‘ol debating table and one thing was and is certain, when the debate is over atheists and Christians will walk away both holding firm to their beliefs. A saying once told to me years ago —

    “A person pursuaded against their will, is of the same opinion still.”

    As for the rest of your 6 points, take a good look at yourself and your atheist friends. Ya ppl fall in those points as well as Christians. Lets keep it fair and balanced.

  • 373. Quester  |  November 19, 2008 at 11:56 pm

    Randy,

    OrDover was not speaking of every Christian, but certain Christian commenters on this blog.

    “sooooo what new revelations do deconverts, atheists, or freethinkers have that can literally open the eyes of every
    believer? Nothing new. I heard it all.”

    If there is nothing here that is new to you, go somewhere else. If any of us go to a Christian blog where you are a member, and we post redundant nonsense that you have heard before and are tired of refuting day after day, then you would have a right to complain. Coming here and telling us that you’re wasting your time re-reading arguments and complaining that you’ve read them before just makes you look whiny and stupid. No one is forcing you to be here. You are perfectly free to leave.

    “BTW we are not here to ‘convince’. It is not our job to convince but preach.”

    No. If you come here to convince (which would require you to actually make intelligent arguments you have the capability and the evidence to support) or to learn, be welcome. If you are here to preach, you are wasting your time, and more importantly, you are wasting ours. If it is your job to preach, do it somewhere else.

    “Lets keep it fair and balanced.”

    No. Let’s keep it honest. Honestly, we don’t need a preacher here to whine at us. I invite you to feel encouraged to go elsewhere.

    I hope I haven’t been to subtle for you.

  • 374. orDover  |  November 20, 2008 at 12:00 am

    First of all, please realize I was talking specifically about Christian commentators on an atheist/agnostic blog, and their ability to sway opinion. That is why a point like “no convincing arguments” is important. They come here to argue, they fail at it.

    1. They never bring anything new to the table.
    ….sooooo what new revelations do deconverts, atheists, or freethinkers have that can literally open the eyes of every
    believer? Nothing new. I heard it all. Same quotes, same
    beliefs, same arguements, same everything. What you say today was said by someone else and by someone else for
    several thousand years. Atheism is as old as the Bible

    Actually, atheists have indeed brought new arguments to the table, and many of them. And we will continue to bring more. Here’s a quick list of new arguments against God conceived since the Bible was written: the non-centrality of the earth, heliocentricism, the proven age of the universe and the earth, the theory of evolution, paleontology, the ever-emerging prof for evolution, neurological discoveries that show that consciousness is a function of the brain not of a distinct and different soul or spirit, archaeological evidence that the Exodus story never happened, archaeological evidence that Judaism formed out of a polytheistic religion, linking Jesus to the strikingly similar myths of other polytheistic savior deities, and so on. Now, you may have heard all of these before, but they have been new arguments at one time or another, and new arguments continue to develop, building a solid case against the Biblical God, from advances in sciences such as biology, neurology, and archeology.

    I also have to disagree that the 6 points can be applied to atheists. Atheists, for the most part, don’t display blind faith, do in fact appreciate a logical argument, do have a desire for evidence to support claims, and instead of giving a simple answer to a complex question, they are quick to say “I don’t know.” Yes, they can be arrogant, and like the Christian commentors I was referring to it doesn’t help their arguments, but that is as far as the comparison can go.

    And I’m interested, if you think this is all a wasted effort, that “when the debate is over atheists and Christians will walk away both holding firm to their beliefs,” then why are you taking time to leave us comments? Isn’t it futile?

  • 375. TitforTat  |  November 20, 2008 at 12:35 am

    Quester

    You almost sounded like Dr. Phil, keeping it real. LMFAO.

  • 376. randy  |  November 20, 2008 at 2:37 am

    Quester now ya gotta settle down there slick. Lil uptight? Hey I asked an honest question to orDover and it was answered with a honest answer and I thank orDover. I asked a honest question to LeoPardus when he blogged the reasons he now doesnt believe in God so I asked what were the reasons he did at one time believe in God and he graciously gave me one in depth reason and I thank him for that.

    But you apperently being trigger happy shot from the hip there skippy. Man had to go and re-read what I wrote. Didnt find where I said i was wasting my time re-reading arguements. Just present something new to me so I can have a look into that. orDover did that.

    Didnt find where I said I was a preacher. Did say I was here to preach….ooooooohhhhhhh you thought maybe Kenneth Copeland walked into to the room. Listen slick yes im here to preach. preach a message of defense for what I hold to be the truth. You preach a message, does it make you a preacher? And no Quester no matter how much eveidence I can present to you will ever ‘convince’ you to change. Which is why i said im not here to convince. There is nothing that will convince you. And to think you tought we were going to have church : )

    Didnt whine either..eyes are dry. But since you dont seem to want me here then your right nobody forcing me to stay.

    Thanx for the input orDover. Enjoyed the list as I enjoy science as well. Maybe you need to take the ol’ pistola from Barney Fife.

  • 377. LeoPardus  |  November 20, 2008 at 11:46 am

    And another “Christian” shambles in to show us “grace”. Nice and loving there Randy.

    And, yes, you are going to be held to a high standard. You’re the one claiming to have the “love of God” and the “indwelling of the Holy Spirit”. You’re the one who’s supposed to obey “turn the other cheek” and “the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome” and so forth. So when you come up with snide swipes at someone, you are the hypocrite. You are the example that we all point to and say, “Yep. That’s one more reason we don’t believe in the Holy, loving God living in His supposed followers.

    (I think those fall a bit under orDover’s reasons 3 & 8. Thanks for proving the point of the article yet again.)

  • 378. randy  |  November 20, 2008 at 1:21 pm

    so being a Christian means that I gotta lose my humor? If being an atheist means you always gotta walk straight and tall with such tension acting like your so intellectual always having to find someone who is “logical thinker” like yourself and never cracking a smile for fear of losing your status as an atheist then by all means enjoy it.

  • 379. randy  |  November 20, 2008 at 1:41 pm

    Leo —–

    You are the example that we all point to and say, “Yep. That’s one more reason we don’t believe in the Holy, loving God living in His supposed followers.

    Please dont point your finger and say that Christians are the reason why you hold fast to your beliefs. You planly expressed mostly it was God Himself. No show in prayer, no unchanged lives and so forth.

    You have a God challenge…I got a Atheist challenge.

    I challenge every atheist to be a man or woman and stand up and just plainly state to every Christian that there is nothing we can say or do, there is nothing anyone can say or do, nothing God can say or do that will ever change your mind or position as an atheist.

    I know without a doubt your not open minded as you like ppl to believe. You mind is just as preconcieved as any Christians.

  • 380. LeoPardus  |  November 20, 2008 at 3:06 pm

    You planly expressed mostly it was God Himself.

    Do you point your finger at the Easter Bunny and blame him for you not believing in him??? You and I both stopped believing in the Easter Bunny for reasons that I’m sure are quite similar. We could both point to some friends who told us and “blame” them. Or we could point to our parents whom we “caught” hiding the eggs. But we DO NOT blame the EB, ’cause he don’t exist!

    Re: atheist challenge – I have said more than once that there is nothing you or anyone can say or argue that will make me believe again. That honest enough for you?

    The reason talk won’t do it it because it’s just talk. There’s nothing behind it. Read your Bible and try to imagine Paul or Peter giving silly-ass apologetic answers. They might give them, but they’d back them up by healing your paralysis (or conversely striking you blind). As Paul said, “We came to you not just with words, but with power.” All any modern Christian can do is come to me with blather. I’m not interested in your blah-blah-blah deity. If you ever find a real one – one that can my visual astygmatism for instance – then you won’t need blather. Until you do come up with a real deity, you’ve just got your personal fantasy.

  • 381. Ubi Dubium  |  November 20, 2008 at 4:10 pm

    I challenge every atheist to be a man or woman and stand up and just plainly state to every Christian that there is nothing we can say or do, there is nothing anyone can say or do, nothing God can say or do that will ever change your mind or position as an atheist.

    Why would I want to do that? I’d be just as closed-minded as you are accusing us of being. If some god actually “showed up” in some real way, I’d believe. I’ve been waiting over forty years for that to happen, and so far, nothing. So I am expecting that it is highly unlikely that there is “anybody out there”, and extremely unlikely that there is anything a christian could say or do to change my opinion, but I don’t say there is “nothing”. It would take some really extraordinary evidence to get me to believe your extraordinary claim, but I dont say that it could “never” happen. That kind of certainty is only for fundies, and not for me.

  • 382. Josh  |  November 20, 2008 at 4:56 pm

    “I challenge every atheist to be a man or woman and stand up and just plainly state to every Christian that there is nothing we can say or do, there is nothing anyone can say or do, nothing God can say or do that will ever change your mind or position as an atheist.”

    Have you read my de-conversion story?

    You are wrong.

  • 383. Josh  |  November 20, 2008 at 5:15 pm

    randy –

    I believe our God challenge is quite Biblical, to say the least. In the time of Elijah, the prophets of baal were taking over and supposedly Elijah put forth a challenge in which baal and yahweh would be put to the test. Elijah even mocked the believers in baal because baal never showed up – as the baal priests cut themselves with stones in agony.

    How in the world is our challenge to yahweh any different?

    Elijah was willing to submit his faith to a scientific test. Are you willing to do this? If you are, I am totally down with buying a plane ticket and a video camera to record the event. Let me know when and where… in this lifetime preferably.

    The cool thing about this is that if we continue to be atheists after God proves himself, then you are justified in saying:

    “I challenge every atheist to be a man or woman and stand up and just plainly state to every Christian that there is nothing we can say or do, there is nothing anyone can say or do, nothing God can say or do that will ever change your mind or position as an atheist.”

    Until then, we wait…

  • 384. SnugglyBuffalo  |  November 20, 2008 at 7:21 pm

    I had a reasonably lengthy response typed up, but what’s the point? It’s clear you’re not here for a dialog, randy. You’ve openly stated that you’re here to preach, in spite of the fact that it’s pretty clear that preaching is unwelcome.

  • 385. Thank you all  |  February 3, 2009 at 2:39 am

    I have literally never put in a comment on ANY forum. BUT I found your arguments to be very well written, succinct and extremely convincing thank you very much for your input and for others who bring their well informed input into such posts.

  • 386. matt  |  February 6, 2009 at 9:10 am

    “Nothing is more infuriating than having someone assert that they know more about you than you do.

    That is why it is very hard for some people to read the Bible, because God says he knows you far better than you know yourself.”

    This implies that you believe what the bible says before you read it, more circular logic.

    “Of course most Christians are going to say the same things and not “bring anything new to the table”—are they supposed to re-write the Gospel and make a different argument? And of course they are not going to appear very humble. When you say you KNOW the truth it sounds self-righteous—of course it will. That’s why Jesus, John the Apostle and others aren’t very “christ-like” :) when they say such things as “We right these things so you may KNOW you HAVE eternal life”. That’s a pretty darn arrogant thing to say.”

    I think what he is getting at is that when someone quotes scripture as evidence they are missing the concept that the person they are trying to convince doesn’t hold the book they are quoting from in the same esteem they do. Nor do they have the ability to conceptualize the idea the verse or passage implies and bring new meaning to it. They would rather just blindly regurgitate the same meaningless words without having to put any thought into their response. Kind of along the lines of those door to door salesmen that use the same pitch over and over again and expect the product to sell itself.

  • 387. Neece  |  February 22, 2009 at 10:52 pm

    Excellent! Well said and I wholeheartedly agree. I became an atheist a long time ago. The reason I became more outspoken against christianity was for all of the reasons listed here, plus a few others. But this is a great start for driving people on the fence over to the side of atheism. Or to get quiet atheists to become more outspoken against religion.

  • 388. Luke  |  February 23, 2009 at 12:06 am

    which commentators are we talking about? any that would state that they are proselytize’n are automatically discounted in my book.

    are we talking commentaries as well? Anchor Bible, NIB, or just what we find in the local Barnes and Noble?

  • 389. orDover  |  February 23, 2009 at 12:09 am

    We’re talking specifically about commentors who leave comments on this site. Some say that they are proselytizing, some would say that they are just engaging in though-provoking discussion. We are not talking about Biblical commentaries at all.

  • 390. Luke  |  February 23, 2009 at 2:48 am

    aahhh… gotcha.. then i agree with your accessment. proselytizing is never appropriate in my book.

  • 391. briman232  |  January 21, 2010 at 5:51 am

    Want to spread the word that you’re a rational thinker? Check out my Atheist / rational thinker store.

    I keep all of the prices as low as possible through zazzle in order to get as much out there as possible and help spread the word that we’re not going to take this shit anymore. :-)

    http://www.zazzle.com/briman232*

  • 392. Daisy  |  May 18, 2013 at 1:26 am

    I have no idea if anyone will ever read my comment (it’s so low on this page… 391 comments already!), but I just wanted to say that I liked your perspective in this piece. I find a lot of atheist things on StumbleUpon, but usually I just find these things arrogant and maybe a little contrived. I, myself, am an atheist, but I really don’t feel the need to constantly validate my atheism like a lot of people do. Sometimes I think a lot of atheists are really just anti-theists. They hate religion and have to constantly think up reasons why it’s stupid, fallacious, and WRONG! Atheism seems like a replacement for religion with some people.

    I don’t have a problem with most religious people. I know of some people (thinking of a Mormon friend in particular) whose lives were genuinely improved by becoming religious. But I just can’t get past all the inconsistencies and suspension of critical thinking to be religious myself. I don’t have the answers, and sometimes I kind of wish I could be spiritual (because, frankly, magical thinking can be intense!), but it becomes a preoccupation (with all the cognitive dissonance, my brain has to sort through my beliefs and match them up with what I recognize to be facts), I just lose sight of reality.

    I too firmly believe religious dogma is just too convoluted and illogical for me to give up my capacity for unfettered freedom of thought and wonder, and I just can’t stand having to conform to an arbitrary set of rules that make no logical sense (maybe it’s because I’m a libertarian lol).

  • 393. cag  |  May 18, 2013 at 12:26 pm

    Daisy, it is when the theists try to promote their illogical worldview that we have to answer back logically. We defend rationality from the influence of delusion.

  • 394. James Smith  |  March 18, 2014 at 7:10 am

    Generally speaking, christians are the most judgmental, unforgiving people on earth. Add to that the arrogance, demands of unearned respect, condescending attitude, resorting to threats of eternal punishment, and too often actual physical violence (yes, I’m speaking from personal experience and observation) they are undeserving of respect or any support at all.

    Religions should all be taxed like any other business and made to follow the “truth in advertising” laws.

  • 395. translate auto  |  September 30, 2014 at 4:05 am

    Good article! We are linking to this great post on our website.
    Keep up the good writing.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Trackback this post  |  Subscribe to the comments via RSS Feed


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.

Twitter

Archives

Blog Stats

  • 2,022,427 hits since March 2007

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 202 other followers