Sunday, July 29, 2007

I'm an Atheist and I'm Proud of it! - Updated

Below is a comment posted by one Bedrocktruth (or Bedrock as I call him for short, others go with Brt), who I frequently sparred with over issues like the war in Iraq over at Liberal Avenger, where he functioned as the resident right wing troll. Recently, over at Gordo's blog Appletree, Bedrock complained that his comments over at Liberal Avenger were being held up in the moderation queue and that he wasn't getting a fair shake. I told him he could feel free to visit here sometimes, and I can see not only from the comments he has posted here, but from the number of hits recorded from him on my sitemeter that he has taken up the offer with gusto.

The comment below was posted by Bedrock in the comments thread for the post that linked to Max Blumenthal's video of his visit to the Christians United for Israel conference. Since Bedrock's comments were off thread and I didn't want the thread to be filled with posts responding to him, I though I would use the challenge he lays down as the basis for this post. To all my fellow atheists who frequent here, I invite you submit your comments in response to the points and questions that Bedrock raises. Tell him why we have our atheist blogs, our books and our videos.

And now, for the Bedrock challenge:

"OK, Tommy, just say it loud:"I'm an atheist and I'm proud"!!

It looks like you've created quite a haven here for atheists who want to escape the nasty old Christian world where 90% of the people in this country believe in a higher power.Fine by me, as we've discussed several times I'm a pseudo agnostic, poor excuse for a Christian-if I ever made any pretenses at all about it. But what gets me is why atheists seem to feel the need to apologize for, constantly reinforce and defend their non beliefs by spending their time devouring books, films and other paraphenalia that pound on the "evils" of Christianity and trying to nit pick the Bible and the Christian religion apart piece by piece. It's like some kind of obsessive "Malkin Watch".

All the futile falderal however misses the basic point for most Christians I know , which is a matter of simple faith that no amount of atheist nit picking is going to undermine. Not so much faith in this passage or that passage of the Bible-which is why pointing out contradictions or historical inaccuracies is a waste of perfectly good atheist Bible bashing time-but faith in a higher power unfettered by the constrictions of general human ineptitude in matters of the heart and spirit.

And why do you folks want to do something like that in the first place? After all your friends at the ACLU have just about stripped every vestige of this country's religious heritage from the public arena. What's left, leveling churches or burning Christians in the square as witches?

If you'll allow me to post something that's been on my website for quite awhile I'd at least like to put up another side to the question."Pascal's wager....." Pascal argues that since reason cannot decide the matter we should look at the trade offs. Christianity (specifically Catholicism) offers eternal happiness for believers and eternal misery for non-believers, while atheism offers only the satisfaction of being rational and free time on Sunday mornings.

Since Christ promises a better payout, we should play His game.

"Let us weigh the gain and the loss in wagering that God is," Pascal instructs us. "If you gain, you gain all; if you lose, you lose nothing. Wager, then, without hesitation that He is...."


jack*'s post brought to mind my encounter with a person who had essentially based his entire life on Pascal's wager although I didn't know what to call it at the time. It's really not very pleasant to recall the incident since I was definitely committed to my questioning, probing, challenging "smartass" position concerning religion at the time.

One of the people I admired and respected greatly in my home town was a gentleman named Bob Herlong, a highly successful businessman and, as I learned that day, a committed Christian. Everyone in our little luncheon group knew that Bob was dying of leukemia and only had a year or so to live.

Everyone, that is, but me. I'd never thought of Bob as sickly. He was energetic, almost effervescent, with a permanent smile and a quick grin. He was also highly intelligent and I guess this fact this had something to do with my little smart assed statement to him that day as he spoke quietly to me of his commitment to Christ.

I said something like, "Bob, you're an intelligent man, a lot smarter than me-how can you possibly believe some of the things you read in the Bible"?

I had no idea that I might be undermining the faith of a dying man and it bothers me every time I think about it. But I needn't have worried. Bob smiled and said "John we all have choices to make in life. And one of them is whether or not to believe in God and the personal redemption of Christ. Whether I'm right or wrong, my belief has given me peace of mind and my life and my family's life have been the better for it. It's going to be leukemia that kills me, John-not ulcers."

Were those the words the result of some kind of battlefield conversion in the face of death? I found out later that Bob's father had been a Methodist minister and that Bob himself had been a leader in his own church for many years.

Almost as long as I'd been a smart ass..."

64 comments:

bedrocktruth said...

If you're going to post it as a separate thread Tommy, how about including the complete post?

Thanks

Tommy said...

I didn't find that part relevant.

Tommy said...

And here's my response for Bedrock.

For starters, I can't believe you brought up that discredited Pascal's Wager. That line of reasoning (or lack thereof) assumes that the choice is between believing in Christianity or being an atheist. Supposed there is a real god, but it is not the god of the Bible? Or maybe there is a higher power and it just doesn't give a shit what we think or do?

Another weakness of Pascal's Wager is that it assumes, again mistakenly, that if we are atheists that we are going to lead lives of hedonistic pleasure instead of the simple lives of work and family that most of atheists actually live. I know I am far from being perfect, but in spite of my flaws, I am a loving husband and father, and I help take care of my mother since my father died from complications after surgery last year. I go to work, I pay my taxes, I donate blood from time to time. I don't smoke cigarettes, I don't do drugs, and I rarely ever drink alcohol. If I lived next door to you, you probably would assume that I was a Christian unless you actually bothered to ask me.

As I told you before on LA's site, I really don't care what other people believe as long as they don't bother me with it. For an atheist, I am not particularly militant, unless maintaining this blog of mine counts as militancy in your eyes. But here's the difference between a Christian and me Bedrock. A Christian believes that no matter how good a person I am, that I possess a soul that will suffer torment for all eternity in the afterlife because I do not accept Jesus Christ as my lord and savior. I on the other hand, believe that when you die, that's it, your extinguished and that's it. Now which viewpoint is the more mean spirited?

Why do atheists like me have blogs about atheism? Well, for one thing, as you like to point out we are less than 10% of the population and we are dispersed throughout the country. Blogs like this and the ones you find on my blogroll, are a way for us to communicate with each other. We are interested in how each of us arrived in our journey from belief to disbelief, the similarities and the differences. Some of us, like Vjack over at Atheist Revolution, live in the Bible Belt, where atheists are less comfortable about being public with their identities than say someone like me in suburban Long Island.

And yes, we also like to do posts wherein we critique stories in the Bible, or examples of religious hypocrisy. In doing so, we provide each other with ammunition whenever we are confronted with the well meaning but deluded theist who implores us to believe lest we damn our immortal souls to hellfire. And forums like mine also allow for theists to read for themselves why Christians, Jews or people of other religions turn to atheism. You see Bedrock, I constantly read columns or posts by religious people who present false or mistaken explanations for why we become atheists and who we are.

bedrocktruth said...

The part was entirely "relevant" to the thrust of my post Tommy, which was to present another side of the issue of faith and why it need not be threatening to atheists.

But "moderate" away, it's your blog and I can't say that I'm not used to it.

Incidentally , I don't know about the "gusto" thing. I've been checking your blog pretty frequently to try and get a feel of the thrust and purpose, flow of the discussion, personality of the posters, that sort of thing.

Frankly, and this is nothing against you or the posters here, I doubt I'll be posting very often since the topics are not quite as broad as others I'm looking at.

Your blog is very well done and I'm sure your followers are keen about the subject matter, but aside from trying to correct some inaccurate perceptions of what today's true Christians are about-you know, the "moderated" part, and having the occasional opportunity to bash the traditional values wreckers at the ACLU I'm afraid most of the subjects I'm interested in would show up as "off topic", as this one was, and subject to the same kind of whimsical editing that
I'm trying to get away from.

BEAJ said...

45% of Americans believe the world is less than 10,000 years old and that evolution is bogus.
This is one main reason why I blog. I also like the outlet of getting my views out there when I want.
Atheists are not insecure at all. Most of us went from believers (because of the attempting, mild usually, brainwashing since we were children) to agnostic and then to atheist, as we figured out that there is no evidence for God, and most of what people attribute to God has a scientific explanation.

Krystalline Apostate said...

Hey, Tommy! How on earth did you get followers?!?!?!?
Most of my frequent readers hardly agree w/me regularly!
Bedrock:
and having the occasional opportunity to bash the traditional values wreckers at the ACLU
Say whaaa...?
Hey, wasn't Bedrock the home of the Flintstones? Yabbadabba-do!
Traditional values? What, like segregation, hetero marriage, 'nukular' families, no min. wage, no child labor laws, no women's rights, etc?
Time to get outta that cave, Barney. Billy Joel said it best: "The good old days weren't always so good."
There're xtians in the ACLU. They go to bat for EVERYBODY, regardless.
Unless you want to regress back to the 'good old days' of rampant elitism.

Stardust said...

bedrockofdelusion says:
But what gets me is why atheists seem to feel the need to apologize for, constantly reinforce and defend their non beliefs by spending their time devouring books, films and other paraphenalia that pound on the "evils" of Christianity and trying to nit pick the Bible and the Christian religion apart piece by piece.


What gets me is that Christians say that their Bible is the whole truth right there in one book -- the word of their god, but need books and books and books upon books, and people upon people, and Bible study classes upon Bible study classes to try to understand their "book of truth". Their god seems to have failed to explain it to them. Then we could add that the latest market for Hollywood are gullible xians who think that Mel Gibson and others are making movies for Jeebus when in actually it is to make money from the Xian market.

Then, don't get me started about the disagreement and rhetorical battles between Christian denominations about which Christians are True Christians and which ones are not. If we put them all into an arena to come to a decision about what is the "true" god belief, we could sit back and watch them battle it out for a thousand years like they've been doing and still come to no agreement. Toss in all the other god botherers of other religions and we will watch some real fun happen.

Another thing that baffles me is that these Christians say that their god is all and everything, but in actuality they must be pretty damned bored waiting for their sky daddy to talk to them since they are surfing the net so much and commenting on atheist blogs instead of spending time in prayer. IMO they deep down know is just pure mythology and human created crutches to get through life's problems and the reality of death. That's why we are so intriguing. They wonder how to muster up the courage to just say we don't believe and life is life and shit happens.

Stardust said...

Christianity (specifically Catholicism) offers eternal happiness for believers and eternal misery for non-believers, while atheism offers only the satisfaction of being rational and free time on Sunday mornings.

There is no more evidence for this claim than that a real Santa Claus had a magic sleigh and eight flying reindeer and he delivers toys to good girls and boys that he watches all during the hear from his magic snow globe at the North Pole in his invisible cottage he shares with a bunch of elves and Mrs Santa.

Atheism isn't "offering" anything. It is just a word for the absence of superstitious sky daddy beliefs.

Since Christ promises a better payout, we should play His game.

So, you are merely believing (or pretending to believe) so you can have that special imaginary insurance policy to try to magically make the impossible happen and defeat death. That is the whole reason humans created religion. They are afraid...and rightfully so. Fear or death helps to keep us from making fatal errors in judgement. However, it also makes humans dream up crazy ass imaginations to try to control what we cannot.

bedrocktruth said...

The ACLU goes to bat for Christians occasionally Kris, purely as an condescending sop and to enable them to tout their so called impartiality.

Until the 1960s their batting average for secularism was near zero since they didn't have thousands of "flower children" out protesting school choirs singing"God Bless America" post offices selling Merry Christmas stamps and such, and filing mindless self interest law suits designed to rip apart the fabric that held this country together for some 200 years.

To say that this country's foundational values were responsible for slavery and the societal ills attendant to today's liberal inspired cultural swamp is just plain atheist/secularist tommyrot since Christians were one of the primary forces opposing it.

I've made a few posts on my own blog from time to time that might give posters an insight into my perspective on the subject.

Please feel free to check them out and argue your point.

Just a couple of examples...

http://moonbatabattoir.blogspot.com/2004_11_01_archive.html

bedrocktruth said...

Any chance you might publish the part of my post you edited out since you deemed it "not relevant" Tommy?

It might save posters like stardust some personal angst as well as yet another round of totally irrelevant Christian bashing

Tommy said...

So just to be clear Bedrock, your position is that atheists should keep their mouths shut and be invisible, because just the mere utterance in public that the Bible does not represent the inerrant word of some supreme being might upset someone?

Oh, and I'm sorry I helped cause 9/11.

Tommy said...

Bedrock, I didn't publish that part because having an atheist blog or writing an atheist book is not the same thing as telling a dying friend "You don't really believe all that stuff you read in the Bible, do ya?"

That is something personally I would never do. But again, what I get from that personal anecdote is that again atheists should refrain from ever uttering anything in public that casts doubt on the Bible.

But since I'm a nice guy, I will grant your request and update the post.

Tommy said...

And by the way Bedrock, in case you haven't noticed, I give Islam a fair share of criticism on this blog too. You don't have a problem with that, now do you?

Stardust said...

It might save posters like stardust some personal angst as well as yet another round of totally irrelevant Christian bashing

First of all, I am experiencing no angst what-so-ever. I really don't care what you believe or don't believe. That is your business and freedom to choose and express. It is also my right to choose not to believe it and to express my non-beliefs.

Why do Christians always call it bashing when we bring up some very legitimate points. It was you, Bedrock who brought up the question about why atheists need books and blogs. I was just responding to your questions, then I turned the question around to you and asked if your bible is everything why do you need other books to explain it if your god is everything to you? I am asking that to get you to stop and think about that. I was once a Christian who finally stopped to ask myself that question. If there was/is a god, it is an absent one.

Stardust said...

having an atheist blog or writing an atheist book is not the same thing as telling a dying friend "You don't really believe all that stuff you read in the Bible, do ya?"

I agree with tommy. Having an atheist blog or writing a book on atheism is not the same thing as telling a dying family member or friend that there is no god. That would serve no purpose what-so-ever and is downright mean and psychologically damaging to do to someone when they need those beliefs.

Krystalline Apostate said...

Barney:
The ACLU goes to bat for Christians occasionally Kris, purely as an condescending sop and to enable them to tout their so called impartiality.
Oh, I see: they should only go to bat for specific folks, the ones you like? They've gone to court for Mormons too (are they xtians? You tell me).
Got a newsflash: this is the U.S of fucking A, & EVERYONE'S got rights. It's Rawls' 'veil of ignorance' theme, instituted by the positivist/realist view of the law.
Until the 1960s their batting average for secularism was near zero since they didn't have thousands of "flower children" out protesting school choirs singing"God Bless America" post offices selling Merry Christmas stamps and such, and filing mindless self interest law suits designed to rip apart the fabric that held this country together for some 200 years.
Flower children? WTF? Protests over xmas stamps? You're kidding, right?
The stamps thing is a fucking rumor. You should probably check all your sources before you splooge such nonsense.
http://nielsenhayden.com/makinglight/archives/007046.html
To say that this country's foundational values were responsible for slavery and the societal ills attendant to today's liberal inspired cultural swamp is just plain atheist/secularist tommyrot since Christians were one of the primary forces opposing it.
Are you KIDDING me? Slavery was ratified in the fucking CONSTITUTION, you yutz. They wouldn't ban IMPORTATION until 1808.
Of course, you probably get all your info from Faux Noise, so none of it's to be trusted.
Note that I said 'segregation', not slavery. Way to strawman, Barney.
Note also, no comment on the other issues I pointed to?

I doubt I'll be visiting your 'abattoir' anytime soon, as
A. Not a moonbat, &
B. I believe in telling it like it is, not how I'd like to be.

The French have a perfect term for your Pollyanna crapola:
châteaux en Espagne - castles in Spain.
Let's see if you're capable of figuring that out, Herr Mengele.

Krystalline Apostate said...

Oh, as to the abolitionists: it was indeed the Quakers (are they 'true xtians', I wonder?) who spearheaded the movement. Note also that Paine was an abolitionist (a Deist), & Elizur Wright (an atheist! Horrors!) as well.
The wholly bibble, however, not only condoned slavery, it gave specific instructions on how to deal w/them.

So don't tell me some paranoid delusion was responsible for freedom. It wasn't.
People were.

Krystalline Apostate said...

Oh, I'm going to address this egregious horseshit toot sweet:
After all your friends at the ACLU have just about stripped every vestige of this country's religious heritage from the public arena.
Oh yeah, w/all the churches being shut down, good religious folk being hunted & hounded, all the religious channels being shut down by the FCC, bibles being burnt on bonfires, constabulary cracking down on charities soliciting outside grocery stores, bibble books stores getting their windows shattered & burnt to the ground.
Oh, the martyrdom! Oh, the horror! Oh, the humanity!
Oh, get a clue already. I'll lend ya a quarter so you can buy 1.

John P said...

"OK, Tommy, just say it loud:"I'm an atheist and I'm proud"!!

Off to good start.

It looks like you've created quite a haven here for atheists who want to escape the nasty old Christian world where 90% of the people in this country believe in a higher power.

I'll give you the benefit of the doubt and presume you are not saying that because 90% of the people you refer to disagree with Tommy, he is wrong and should shut up.

Fine by me, as we've discussed several times I'm a pseudo agnostic, poor excuse for a Christian-if I ever made any pretenses at all about it.

What exactly is a pseudo agnostic? A fake agnostic? A Christian who shows up on web sites pretending he's agnostic? A lion in sheep's clothing? Forgive me for being a bit wary of people claiming they are one thing while making statements that belie their claim.

But what gets me is why atheists seem to feel the need to apologize for, constantly reinforce and defend their non beliefs by spending their time devouring books, films and other paraphenalia that pound on the "evils" of Christianity and trying to nit pick the Bible and the Christian religion apart piece by piece. It's like some kind of obsessive "Malkin Watch".

Apologize for our lack of belief? You're kidding, right?

Reinforce? Yes. I write my blog partially for that purpose. The same reason church goers go to church, attend Sunday school, say "God Bless you" and otherwise maintain a Christian facade over their lives.

I also use my blog to test my thinking on the subject. If I was just talking to myself, how would I know when I was wrong, or barking up the wrong tree. The more readers and commentators I have, the better off I am.

Defend? I guess. Despite your protestations to the contrary, it is atheists who are on the defense in this religious/secular dialog, not Christians, or anyone else of faith.

All the futile falderal however misses the basic point for most Christians I know , which is a matter of simple faith that no amount of atheist nit picking is going to undermine. Not so much faith in this passage or that passage of the Bible-which is why pointing out contradictions or historical inaccuracies is a waste of perfectly good atheist Bible bashing time-but faith in a higher power unfettered by the constrictions of general human ineptitude in matters of the heart and spirit.

I'd sort of agree with you here, if what you are saying is that no amount of discussion, reinforcement and defense by we atheists will shake Christian faith. I agree because as long as Christians rely on FAITH, discussion involving reason, logic, evidence and intelligence (yes, intelligence) will have no effect. The reason for this is that the Bible has replaced the workings of the brain for most Christians, so reason, logic, evidence and intelligence are of no use - only memory of the relevant bible passages are needed.

I don't say this to be sarcastic. It is a reasonable observation, and if you think about it, there is a lot of truth in it. The fear of the unknown, death, the mysteries of life are what brought about religion and the Bible in the first place. They were attempts by ignorant men to explain the unexplainable. The writings and the teachings of faith became dogma over time, and the faithful were explicitly told that they did NOT need to think about it, they merely needed to believe what they were told. So the natural workings of the brain were put on hold, in favor of reliance on script.

That's not to say that reasonable people cannot shake this, only that they choose not to, for various reasons - it's not easy, they wouldn't know how to shake it, peer, family and community pressure, etc. - but thousands, probably millions of people have done it, so it can be done.

Just use your brain, look for evidence for your beliefs, and when you don't find any, shed them.

And why do you folks want to do something like that in the first place? After all your friends at the ACLU have just about stripped every vestige of this country's religious heritage from the public arena.

Faux Noise indeed. You do know that the ACLU exists for the sole purpose of defending encroachments against your and my constitutional rights don't you? Specifically, those enumerated in the Bill of Rights. Those rights were put there specifically to protect the minority from the tyranny that the majority would by nature impose on them. I defy you to find a case where they have been involved that was used to strip "..every vestige of this country's religious heritage from the public arena."

And no, the school prayer cases are not good examples, so don't even try.

The ACLU protects the rights of people that won't be protected by anyone else, and you disparage this? You must be a straight, white, Christian male. Imagine if you weren't.

The ACLU's work probably comes the closest to what the Founding Fathers intended for this country.
Why would that be a problem?

The ACLU were the only people who stood up for the rights of Japanese Americans in 1942. The ACLU was instrumental in the Brown v. Board of Education ruling. Those were American values they were protecting. What values do you think they have stripped from us?

What's left, leveling churches or burning Christians in the square as witches?

Can we do that? (I'm kidding.)

If you'll allow me to post something that's been on my website for quite awhile I'd at least like to put up another side to the question."Pascal's wager....." Pascal argues that since reason cannot decide the matter we should look at the trade offs. Christianity (specifically Catholicism) offers eternal happiness for believers and eternal misery for non-believers, while atheism offers only the satisfaction of being rational and free time on Sunday mornings.

I echo other's disbelief here. You don't really buy Pascal's Wager do you?

First, it's a false dichotomy. There are other choices. For instance, I could choose 72 virgins in heaven, if I could find some C-4.

Second, doesn't it make sense that if Christians are wrong, I've just wasted a large percentage of my life believing something that's not true? Doesn't it make more sense to pursue that truth, than blindly accept what most evidence points to as pie in the sky promises that will not be fullfilled?

Since Christ promises a better payout, we should play His game.

No. Mohammad promises 72 Virgins and eternal bliss. He's upped the ante. I'd go with him before I went with Christ.

"Let us weigh the gain and the loss in wagering that God is," Pascal instructs us. "If you gain, you gain all; if you lose, you lose nothing. Wager, then, without hesitation that He is...."

Nice quote, but incredibly stupid.

jack*'s post brought to mind my encounter with a person who had essentially based his entire life on Pascal's wager although I didn't know what to call it at the time. It's really not very pleasant to recall the incident since I was definitely committed to my questioning, probing, challenging "smartass" position concerning religion at the time.

We all make mistakes. The best lessons are learned from the mistakes we make.

It sounds like you're still a smart ass. Don't worry, it'll come to you eventually.

One of the people I admired and respected greatly in my home town was a gentleman named Bob Herlong, a highly successful businessman and, as I learned that day, a committed Christian. Everyone in our little luncheon group knew that Bob was dying of leukemia and only had a year or so to live.

Everyone, that is, but me. I'd never thought of Bob as sickly. He was energetic, almost effervescent, with a permanent smile and a quick grin. He was also highly intelligent and I guess this fact this had something to do with my little smart assed statement to him that day as he spoke quietly to me of his commitment to Christ.

I said something like, "Bob, you're an intelligent man, a lot smarter than me-how can you possibly believe some of the things you read in the Bible"?


Depending on how well I knew him, I might have said the same thing - with no regrets.

I had no idea that I might be undermining the faith of a dying man and it bothers me every time I think about it. But I needn't have worried. Bob smiled and said "John we all have choices to make in life. And one of them is whether or not to believe in God and the personal redemption of Christ. Whether I'm right or wrong, my belief has given me peace of mind and my life and my family's life have been the better for it. It's going to be leukemia that kills me, John-not ulcers."

You have no idea what effect your words had on him. Perhaps he went home and thought about it, and changed his life in some small way for the better.

Frankly, I admire a man who maintains a life-long commitment and belief, as long as he doesn't impose that belief on me. If he died happy, who am I to say he was wrong.

Where this all goes awry is when you come here (OK, Tommy brought you here, but you get my drift) and extrapolate your experience with this man and use it to excoriate atheists for attempting to flesh out their non-beliefs in a semi-public forum. That just doesn't fly. You want to believe that you should not have bothered this guy in his time of illness, that's between you and him. Me, I still would have done it. If he was that comfortable in his beliefs, and died happy, your comment was like a fly on a his head for second. He swatted it away, never to think of it again. Or maybe not.

Were those the words the result of some kind of battlefield conversion in the face of death? I found out later that Bob's father had been a Methodist minister and that Bob himself had been a leader in his own church for many years.

Almost as long as I'd been a smart ass..."


And...? Your point? Sorry, I missed it.

concerned citizen said...

Hi tommykey, L>T here :)

But what gets me is why atheists seem to feel the need to apologize for, constantly reinforce and defend their non beliefs by spending their time devouring books, films and other paraphenalia that pound on the "evils" of Christianity and trying to nit pick the Bible and the Christian religion apart piece by piece. It's like some kind of obsessive "Malkin Watch".

How funny! I've thought the same about Christians, in the sense of defending their beliefs. If you piled up all their "paraphernalia" from over the century's you'd have a virtual tower of Babel, i think.

I don't have an atheist or a secular humanist blog, mine is a different sort at the moment, but I visit atheist & secular humanist blogs everyday. Why? Because these are the type of people that I feel the best around. Thots & ideas that I feel understand where I'm coming from & visa-versa. I used to be a born again Christian & went to church twice a week & taught Sunday school so I know what all that's like. I found more meaning & purpose & direction in my life when I stepped out of that confining, humanity hating box, that is the Christian religion then i ever found when i was in it.

JayG said...

[repeat, I admit, but now it is at least on subject]
If I grant everyone here the sincerity of their convictions, then I guess the question becomes how does one tell what is True?
The difficulty of this situation is that in dealing with the spiritual, you are dealing with what can't be seen. The theist must try to show the reasons for a Creator while the Creator is not visible, while the atheist must try to show a universal negative, in effect trying to say that since we cannot see it, it can't exist. But people do not tend to cling to strict materialism as they confront their own mortality, a reason I think more tend towards agnosticism than atheism.

But if a Theist must contend with doubt, so does an atheist, who is "not to be understood undialectically as a mere man without faith. Just as ... the believer does not live immune to doubt but is always threatened by the plunge into the void, so now we discern the entangled nature of human destines and say that the nonbeliever does not lead a sealed-off, self-sufficient life either. However vigorously he may assert that he is a pure positivist, who has long left behind him supernatural temptations and weaknesses and now accepts only what is immediately certain, he will never be free of the secret uncertainty about whether positivism is the last word. Just as the believer is chocked by the salt water of doubt constantly washed into his mouth by the ocean of uncertainty, so the nonbeliever is troubled by doubts about unbelief, about the real totality of the world he has made up his mind to explain as a self-contained whole. He can never be absolutely certain of the autonomy of what he has seen and interpreted as a whole; he remains threatened by the question of whether belief is not after all the reality it claims to be. Just as the believer knows himself to be constantly threatened by unbelief, which he must experience as a continual temptation, so for the unbeliever faith remains a temptation and a threat to his apparently permanently closed world. In short, there is no escape from the dilemma of being a man. Anyone who makes up his mind to evade the uncertainty of belief will have to experience the uncertainty of unbelief, which can never finally eliminate for certain the possibility that belief may after all be the truth. It is not until belief is rejected that its unrejectability becomes evident."


Welcome to the club.

Stardust said...

If I grant everyone here the sincerity of their convictions, then I guess the question becomes how does one tell what is True?
The difficulty of this situation is that in dealing with the spiritual, you are dealing with what can't be seen.


Correction, we are dealing with what has not yet been shown or proven to exist. To me, spirituality is a concept invented by superstitious folks to explain the unknown or to create a security blanket to cope with life's problems and the inevitability of death. This "spiritual" to me is only a concept, such as people saying "the spirit of Santa Claus" or a wild child and independent thinker being a "free spirit".

The theist must try to show the reasons for a Creator while the Creator is not visible, while the atheist must try to show a universal negative,

No, the atheist "must" not try to show anything. The atheist is not first making any claims, they are merely saying there is no evidence yet presented except what has been created by humans and those explanations are created in the minds of men according to their own personal desires of how they see the world, or how they want the world and universe to be. The theist is making the claim and trying to convince others to believe it. Atheists are saying...prove it and you cannot except with what each god believer makes up according to his or her own desired conclusions, or individually understood interpretations.

Most do not want to stop existing, and since there is no natural ways to prevent that, humans invent magical ways to make things to suit themselves in their own minds in order to cope. Many could not cope mentally and emotionally without the fantasies. If you need that, so be it. My beef is when others judge me for not needing to delude myself that I am going to live forever by saying some magical words "I believe" or by pretending to believe and go through the motions "just in case". They think we can just turn on belief like a switch.

It's also the atheist's problem when god botherers go to war because they think some "spirit" is telling them to, or when a religious kook is abusing children and killing "heathens" because they sincerely believe a god wants them to. If you really take a moment to stop and analyze religion and mythology in general, it's all the same and it's all pretty damned bizarre.

JayG said...

startdust,
Are you sure?

Stardust said...

jayg, not even a shred of evidence has yet to be provided for the existence of god or supernatural entities.

JayG said...

If, for the sake of argument, there were to be evidence of a supernatural entity, what would be the nature of this evidence? Would the evidence itself be beyond nature, supernatural?

I wouldn't want to try to present evidence to you that you yourself would never accept. If there is no evidence, then there has to at least be an accepted and reasonable standard of what this evidence would look like.

BEAST said...

ATHEIST HERE, AND PROUD OF IT!

Stardust said...

If, for the sake of argument, there were to be evidence of a supernatural entity, what would be the nature of this evidence? Would the evidence itself be beyond nature, supernatural?

First of all, you are creating an argument based on what-ifs. This is what the theist does. What if this, or what if that. If something IS, no matter what, you should be able to provide verifiable scientific evidence for your claims. If you have such evidence, I am also sure that most astrophysicists are dying to know about it so they can test and verify what you have found.

Stardust said...

The greatest and most convincing evidence for the existence of this god would be for him/it/her to stop playing games and just show itself to everyone. That would settle everything. But this god is about as real as Zeus, Re, Isis, Thor, Odin, Loki, Poseidon, and all the other gods of ancient and modern mythology who were once real in the minds of humans.

Tommy said...

For me, the real question is not whether a god exists, but whether a god exists that intervenes in human history, expects us to abide by certain codes of content and believe certain things to be true that run contrary to what logic and reason tell us.

A faith claim such as Jesus being born from a virgin must be dismissed from a rational standpoint because there is no way it can be verified. There were no gynecological exams 2,000 years ago. The only way I could conceivably be convinced that such a thing happened would be if the Virgin Mary herself appeared to me and told me that it was true.

Oh wait, I think that already happened to me!

(Inside joke for anyone who read my April Fools post! ;-) )

JayG said...

If, for the sake of argument, God, the God of Abraham, Issac and Jacob, did show Himself, what would be your expectation. I have a feeling that you would dismiss Him unless he showed you proof - correct me if I am wrong - so the question is, what would this proof look like.
It couldn't really be a destructive explosion, because you (and I) would simply dismiss this as something natural (or man-man), like a bomb or nuclear device.

Would you accept maniuplation of the weather?

What about medical miracles?


Now I fully expect some jokes (you are atheists after all), which is fine because atheists can have good, though somewhat sarcastic senses of humor, but there must be some point where the unexplained should not remain completely unexplained, unless you have some deep inner blief that no matter what is shown to you, it all can be explained naturally, but a supernatural explaination is never possible.

Tommy said...

Jay, I am deaf in my right ear. Been that way since infancy.

If some iconic figure of the Bible appeared to me and made my right ear be able to hear, that would be sufficient proof for me.

Stardust said...

jayg, "what ifs" are not evidence. Creating scenerios proves nothing. Asking me what evidence would be acceptable also proves nothing.

If a god is all-knowing and able to do anything, this god would be able to make the world know who he is in an instant.

My husband and I were just discussing the fact that there are more stars in the universe than grains of sand on the Earth. To think that an all-powerful god would select a fleck in the vastness of the universe to create life on to have a personal relationship with is most absurd.

Stardust said...

but a supernatural explaination is never possible.

This is because it is a figment of your imagination. All you god botherers have a different version of what this god is, or what the supernatural is...because it all comes from inside your own head and you can make it whatever you want it to be. Just like you are making it up as you go along right now. How convenient for you.

Stardust said...

A post at Debunking Christianity brings up the issue of belief (or the lack thereof) and how a Christian reporter lost his faith.

He makes a very good point which most people who believe in god cannot grasp...either you have faith or you don't. It's not a choice like "I'm going to start believing now" and then magically turn into a sheeple. Like the reporter says, it can't be willed into existence. And there's no faking it if you're totally honest about it.

For me, there is just no evidence and no good reason for me to believe in the existence of an invisible white-bearded overlord somewhere over the rainbow.

John P said...

I'm beginning to get the impression that Jay is trying to conclude that no matter what the proof of supernatural existence, that proof would have to be manifested in the natural world. If not, how would we be able to experience it, if our senses didn't register it?

If that would occur, wouldn't it be by definition natural?

Or perhaps that's not what you were getting at, and I'm just blathering along.

In any event, I would imagine that if god could do anything, he could rearrange the stars in the sky to spell out, in 10 common languages, "God exists", perhaps with a blinking neon sign effect for added drama. That would do it for me, I think.

My question for Jay: What would YOU need as proof? Because I get the impression from most Christians that they don't need proof, they simply believe because they believe. So if you were to ask God for proof of his existence, because you knew an atheist that needed proof, what would you ask for?

bedrocktruth said...

"If some iconic figure of the Bible appeared to me and made my right ear be able to hear, that would be sufficient proof for me."

Reinforcement for the "Doubting Thomas" school of atheistic tearchings-just gotta stick your fingers in Christ's wounds it appears.

Missing the point completely and without shame or remorse.

It's an atheist thing...

Stardust said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
bedrocktruth said...

I really wish you wouldn't delete comments Tommy although I do understand your reasons.

Why not just let the hysterical lunacy hang out for everyone to see?

We're all big boys here. Or at least I think so...

Stardust said...

bedrock. I deleted my own comment, feeling that I had to rethink a way I had written something. Tommy does not delete comments.

Stardust said...

FYI - if a post is deleted by administrator, it says COMMENT DELETED BY ADMINISTRATOR...administrator would be tommy...author is "guest".

(sorry tommy...could you completely delete my deleted comment? thanks :-D )

Tommy said...

Bedrock, I did not delete any comments. If something you wrote was deleted I can't explain why it happened.

Tommy said...

I see I should have scrolled a little further down before posting the reply above!

Stardust said...

sorry tommy, my "lunacy" made me make a mistake when writing my deleted comment. ;)

JayG said...

tommy,
If someone, not an iconic figure, said they were praying for your hearing in your right ear, and a few decades from now, on your death bed (for effect), you could suddenly hear in your right ear, would you say in a loud voice, "OK, God, I get it" ?

John P,
Yes, I would imagine that God may have to show Himself in a natural manner, but I also would admit that stardust could be correct; God could show to everyone of us, in an instant, that He exists. But there would be profound implications to this...

stardust, asking you what your standard of evidence is is simply to get to the point, if nothing could conceivably convince you, then I'd argue that you are not considering the evidence, that you have already made up your mind and it can't change. If you never doubt your doubt, then how do you know that your doubt is correct?

You see, if God existed, and then God made himself clearly known, then at that moment, all of us would have to choose. I'd argue, that by definition, God, as part of being all-powerful and perfect, that God could not contradict Himself, therefore God cannot force anyone to go to heaven. What I think has been sadly missing in your travails with fundies (and I blame them also, while apologizing for a lack of charity on the part of my fellow Theists) is that you have not ever gotten any definition of God that you as atheists can at least concede logically, if God existed, then God should have certain attributes. Since God could not contradict Himself, I would submit two ideas;
1. God cannot force anyone to go to heaven.
2. that God wants the one thing He cannot create, our love.

JayG said...

John P,
one last question. If you actually did see "rearrange[d]...stars in the sky to spell out, in 10 common languages, 'God exists', perhaps with a blinking neon sign effect for added drama", why did you qualify your assent with "I think"?
I think you illustrate the problem with God showing Himself.

Stardust said...

jayg, what you are failing to understand is that you are making a claim that this god exists, and you believe this god exists on faith alone and your own imaginations of what this god is like and what he wants, and what he does or doesn't do according to your own thinking. You cannot prove what is inside your own head, and if you claim that this god exists outside of yourself, then you should be able to provide some sort of evidence for that. You are still making your god the way you wish him to be, and then demanding that we just take your word for it.

Why do you not believe the Hindu when he says that Vishnu is real? They do not believe your god exists, but believe that their's does. You are an atheist when it comes to other gods. What makes your so sure your god is real and their's is not?

Krystalline Apostate said...

jayg:
is that you have not ever gotten any definition of God that you as atheists can at least concede logically, if God existed, then God should have certain attributes.
I fancy I catch a whiff of that old Thomistic fraud, Aquinas, here.
Lemmee guess: you got 5 proofs, right?
Since God could not contradict Himself, I would submit two ideas;
1. God cannot force anyone to go to heaven.
2. that God wants the one thing He cannot create, our love.

Yeah, just like any other deadbeat daddy.
For #1, I give you this: believe or burn.
For #2: see #1.
I can almost hear the bleating whine now, 'Love me, love meeee...No? Then ROAST."
If your deity were but 1/2 of what you claim it to be, there'd be no eternal bar-b-que. Maybe a primer purgatory, like Sheol (12 mos. of burnt flesh, but rewards afterwards), but the actual FORGIVENESS we hear so much about.
If he existed, I'd say, 'You're 1 fucked up parent'.
But he doesn't, so I don't gotta.

JayG said...

startdust,
I'm not even at the point where I can make "a claim that this god [the God of Abraham, Issac and Jocob] exists" because you won't even admit to any possibility that any god could exist. Your doubt lacks any and all doubt.

krystaline,
since the physical body separates from the spiritual soul at death, how does a flame affect a spiritual object? Can you roast something that has no physical properties? Would the pain felt be physical, or would the pain be spiritual? And before you claim that none of this is proven, remember you brought it up, you selectively quoted from my understanding of escatology to make your point that God has contradicted Himself.

To phrase the question another way, could there ever be a situation where a parent would have to disown their own child?

John P said...

John P,
one last question. If you actually did see "rearrange[d]...stars in the sky to spell out, in 10 common languages, 'God exists', perhaps with a blinking neon sign effect for added drama", why did you qualify your assent with "I think"?
I think you illustrate the problem with God showing Himself.


And by your question, I think you illustrate the difference between Christians and atheists.

That difference is that we think. We don't look at something, otherwise unexplainable in our experience, and immediately say "God did it". We look at evidence, we analyze it, we try to find a logical explanation for it. That's called science.

In my example, it would be presumptuous to immediately fall to my knees and worship God. I would have to rule out completely all natural explanations. The first thing I'd do is confirm that there were others, hopefully the entire planet, who saw the exact same thing. If no one else saw it, then I'd have to determine if someone slipped a mushroom into my salad, i.e. I was not hallucinating for some unknown reason. Maybe I just had a stroke.

There are potential natural explanations for what I described. It would be foolish to not try to rule them out.

Doctors go through the same process, because they are trained in the scientific method. When confronted with unknown symptoms or ailments, they don't immediately say "I've never seen this before, must be something God conjured up to punish you." Would you go to a doctor that immediately attributed everything wrong with you to an action of god, and sent you home to pray?

So the reason I qualify my example is because, in fact, I use my brain.

Honestly, without trying to sound disparaging or condescending, you do realize that that is exactly what atheists see when Christians talk like they do - someone who has willfully turned off their brains and chosen ignorance.

Stardust said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Stardust said...

I'm not even at the point where I can make "a claim that this god [the God of Abraham, Issac and Jocob] exists" because you won't even admit to any possibility that any god could exist. Your doubt lacks any and all doubt.

jayp, I was a Xian for more than 30 years. I really wanted to believe but after all those years of being an active and involved member in several churches...this god remained silent.

Now, I know you are going to tell me that I have to be "receptive" to this god belief, meaning, I must be willing to take it on faith and believe "as a little child"...like a little child believes wholeheartedly that Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny are real. But, I finally grew up and accepted that there is no Santa Claus, there is no Easter Bunny, no fairies, elves, unicorns nor gods or any supernatural entities controlling the lives of the billions of people on a tiny little fleck of a planet in the vastness of the cosmos.

Your so-called "evidence" is simply something you choose to believe...and choose to take it on faith alone.

JayG said...

My bad John P., I assumed we were talking about verifiable phenomena so I misunderstood your 'I think' as hesistation, not scrutiny.

I know that many of you see Theists as choosing Faith over Reason, but I tend to see Faith allowing us to reason more reasonably. In my feeble attempts, I thought I was trying to show stardust that if she sets the bar too high, she is precluding the possibility of God out of hand.

Stardust said...

jayg, you make your own reason to follow your faith. Believers in all gods try to rationalize their faith any way they choose.

Sirkowski said...

Don't waste your time guys. BRT's hopeless, we've tried for years. :p

John P said...

My question for Jay: What would YOU need as proof? Because I get the impression from most Christians that they don't need proof, they simply believe because they believe. So if you were to ask God for proof of his existence, because you knew an atheist that needed proof, what would you ask for?

Jay, I'm still curious, You didn't answer my question. What proof would you ask God for, so you could turn around and use it to convince me, or any other atheist?

JayG said...

john P.,
I'd ask God to show you everything you had ever done in your life, and the implication it had on everyone else in your life, and how it all did matter, I think.

JayG said...

Then again, I might ask God to show you why the Laws of physics had to be the Laws of physics, why the constants had to have that exact value, that if they were another value nothing would be here and nothing would work, that you cannot take the Laws of Physics for granted, I think.

JayG said...

Or maybe show you Joseph Stalin on his death bed, shaking his fist at the ceiling. Not that I believe in ceilings.

JayG said...

krystaline,
Since God cannot contradict himself, and He is all loving, yet He must not omit Justice, this would indicate that the only unforgivable sin is to not ask for forgiveness. Which is why an all loving God does not send people to Hell, then send themselves. Which is why the gates of Hell are locked, from the inside. Thus the phrase, 'cold as hell'.

Stardust said...

It's interesting to read all the different things that Christians make up what they want their god to be or not to be, telling us how he is, and why this god does what he does. All the explanations are different from individual to individual. You all have your own versions of what this god is. How do you explain that, jayg?

bedrocktruth said...

It's kinda like how atheists make up what Christians they've never met are supposed to be like...

Tommy said...

Bedrock, Stardust was active in a Lutheran church for many years, so she speaks from personal experience. IF anything, that may be why she comes off with a somewhat angry tone as compared to me because she had invested so much of her life to it. While I was very religious for several years, I was not involved with my Catholic church apart from attending weekly mass.

That being said, this comment thread seems to have drifted away from its original purpose, which was why we atheists like to have blogs, books, et cetera. Therefore, I will ask that no more comments be posted in this thread.

Thank you all for your participation and anticipated cooperation.

Krystalline Apostate said...

jayg:
since the physical body separates from the spiritual soul at death, how does a flame affect a spiritual object? Can you roast something that has no physical properties? Would the pain felt be physical, or would the pain be spiritual? And before you claim that none of this is proven, remember you brought it up, you selectively quoted from my understanding of escatology to make your point that God has contradicted Himself.
No, the people who invented your deity contradicted themselves.
Nice try, no cigar.
You need to put up some proof, that simple.
Gimmee proof of a 'soul', or piss off.
Since God cannot contradict himself, and He is all loving, yet He must not omit Justice, this would indicate that the only unforgivable sin is to not ask for forgiveness.
If you can't see how circular & ridiculous that argument is, fahgetaboutit!
Which is why an all loving God does not send people to Hell, then send themselves. Which is why the gates of Hell are locked, from the inside. Thus the phrase, 'cold as hell'.
Locked from the inside? How do they ever open the gates?
You don't even approach the concept of how any loving parent can doom a child to perpetual torment. How absolutely insane that sounds.
Oh, but 'gawd' makes it so, says it's so, so it is.
Delusional madness.

Krystalline Apostate said...

To phrase the question another way, could there ever be a situation where a parent would have to disown their own child?
I'd probably have to ask A. Hitler's momma about that.
I get all the parts about not killing, stealing, adultery, etc. All those make sense. Of course, those were developed by countries w/no exposure to your doctrine.
But frying someone eternally, for refusing to listen?
That's savage. It's disgraceful.
It's many, many things.
But loving isn't 1 of them.
Your eschatology is based on insanity, that enables a person to commit atrocities based on little more than a few passages in a self-contradicting book. To this day, the body count mounts.
Humanity's to blame.
God isn't.
Because there is no such critter.