The Problem of Internet Atheists

by Max Andrews

There are many problems in philosophy such as the problem of evil, the problem of miracles, the problem of historical knowledge, the problem of what there is (Quine), the Gettier problem, and several others in various fields.  However, I’ve noticed a problem with the ‘internet atheist’ community.

Before I continue I want to give a general indication for what I mean by an internet atheist, which can include several agnostics as well. An internet atheist will have certain giveaways such as: trolling, one who cites Richard Dawkins as a philosophical champion, appeals to the tactics of PZ Myers (anyone who reads PZ Myers and is quite aware of logic, fallacies, and social etiquette may suffer from face-palm syndrome–the problem of excessive disappointment resulting in the face resting on one’s palm followed by a deep sigh), being completely oblivious of opposing views, as well as the following properties…

Internet atheists have this habit of coming out of no where. What I mean by that is they have the habit of plowing their way into conversations.  For instance, while writing this last sentence I received a tweet from some internet atheist about some tweet I made several days ago in which I said that the OT law didn’t treat women immorally and that the problem was a societal issue. (Edit: 3 Nov. 18.08: Tweet removed. The individual didn’t really fall into the category I’m describing here.) I could provide more tweets but I honestly have no desire to go back and read them.

EDIT: Here’s another great tweet in which I’m told to be a theological equivalent of a Nazi collaborator. I’m serious, I’m not that creative to make this stuff up.

Shakespeare is disappointed with internet atheists.

This brings me to my next point. The vast majority of internet atheists rest comfortably behind the veil of anonymity. This gives them the perceived freedom to say whatever they want. Being anonymous has its tactical advantages for trolling but not much profits from it. I understand if someone keeps their identity anonymous because if their material were linked to them it would create a problem in the offline world. That’s understandable. However, I seriously doubt that’s the case with internet atheists. This also allows for profane, vulgar, insensitive, vociferous, visceral, instinctual, emotional, and clamorous language. It truly is the case that if there were more symbols on a keyboard, then the internet atheist community could master the English language (or any language, we all know more use of profanity symbols entails the mastery of a language…psh… obviously…) I know that I’m horrible with the English language; just ask my blog editor!

Now that the internet atheist has anonymity, which allows for the abuse of human language, they don’t have to worry about taking responsibility for their actions. To whom may I predicate charges of profanity, awkward emotion, and trolling to if all I have is a half-thought of Twitter name and a cartoon for the image? At least some people are willing to out themselves and be bold about their beliefs and not hind behind the veil of a computer screen. Actually, what’s even worse is when such persons aren’t anonymous yet still behave like a schoolboy bully or a child (no substance, impolite, non-reflective, etc.). That’s just embarrassing.

When in dialogue with an internet atheist, they have the habit of ignoring pertinent issues and specific questions posed towards them. Instead of giving meaningful, irenic responses they’ll focus on some detail that’s got hardly anything to do with the thesis of the discussion. This inevitably results in not reading the actual argument being made or spending their time building a straw man from scratch straight from the farmer’s field.

When in doubt or fear or losing an argument, the internet atheist typically appeals to mockery and self-flattery. That is, insulting the other person[s] and inflating their own head to the point that they run the risk of falling out of their seat should they lean too far to the left. The sad thing is that it’s just embarrassing when anyone does this. Just imagine the reasoning process (if there is one). “I should ridicule this person simply because they disagree with me and I refuse to have an intellectual, rational, and meaningful dialogue.” (I see the internet atheist comments already: “You’re not intellectual or rational! There’s no point in arguing with someone who might as well believe in a flat earth, Zeus, or Santa Claus.” Believe me, I’ve actually gotten all of those responses before. Thanks for proving my point, internet atheists.)

So, what’s the problem here? Whose problem is it? The problem is not for the theist or the Christian here. Behaving like this isn’t a problem for us. The problem is with the atheist community at large. I’ll be the first to say that theists and Christians out there who behave like this are unjustified. However, let’s be honest, it’s much more prominent in the atheist community. Now, for those who consider themselves ‘free thinkers’ this type of behavior is intellectually reprehensible. I feel sympathetic to the atheists who spend time publishing their material, getting degrees (if an option), having peer-review by competing against their peers to sharpen their own work and thought, and are reasonable, rational, and polite. There are atheists who desire for a meaningful exchange in the marketplace of ideas. I have the utmost respect for atheists who are not condescending and care about the other side’s arguments. Well, atheists, these internet-types are making the rest of you look bad when it’s not even your fault. Internet atheism is an intellectual crime.


216 Responses to “The Problem of Internet Atheists”

  1. You can spot an Internet Atheist a mile away. A mere glance of their tweets is littered with emotive and negative catch phrases Such responses are devoid of any rule argument and appear to exist solely for the shallow pleasure of psychological projection.

    The current vogue is to accuse all dissent of “dishonesty” . The hilarity of such accusation is enhanced via the rather ingenious avatars that represent the voice of much atheist twitter rhetoric.

    A little too ironic, c’mon atheists – don’t you think?

  2. wow! You said that after only one interaction with me,that’s quite a viceral response fornot even directly responding to me. Twitter can be an odd medium for communication, with only having so precious # of letters the intent of a question or comment can get lost.I didn’t mean to crash a convo,I just saw your tweet and was curious how you would reconcile an all loving god with him commanding to stone rape victims. I haven’t used profanity in my tweets and thinkyou might be painting “internet atheists” with quite a broad brush. I could argue that “internet theists” duck the hard questions and come off as “holier than thou” but that would be over generalizing. IRL,I am surrounded by theists and found the internet a good place to interact with like minded people as well as have discussions with ones whose opinions differ. There are definately trolls here too…on both sides. I think having a dialog with someone with a different perspective is always helpful,I value it. It helps challenge what my preconceptions are and I have to think out what my position is more. Please take my tweet more as a question and less as a gun and run trolling op. Ps> I saw you had a paperon multiverse from the theistic perspective… That’s interesting I’ve neverheard of a theist postulate that do you have a linkto that?

    • I would love for you to prove me wrong about this whole thing. If you’re an atheist who doesn’t do any of these things then that’s great! However, I still don’t understand what your question about the Deuteronomy passage is about? Did you perform an actual exegesis of the passage? If so, can you share it? What’s interesting is that your raising a question in regards to exegesis. (If you use it to raise an objection to the existence of God then it would be a simple, but bright, red herring. You’d be treating the existence of God as a necessary condition for the existence of God and I think that’s a hard sell.)

      I’ll tell you what. If you give me a thoughtful exegesis of the of the passage I’ll put my exegesis up against yours. This doesn’t allow for copying and pasting from somewhere else either.

  3. Ps> glad you like the psuedonym :)

  4. Max. You left out some points. For instance, the internet atheist relies on Google Scholarship and Wikipedia. They think clicking to any YouTube video made by someone living in his mother’s basement is a valid argument. They by default do not have to read anything by evangelical scholarship since it’s ipso facto stupid. All Christians want to create a theocracy and believe the Earth is 6,000 years old and the days of Genesis are literal. In fact, every passage of Scripture must be interpreted literally. Christians all also believe in the rapture and that the devil is behind every wrong position and when they oppose homosexuality, it’s only because the Bible says so.

    Now as for your little troll here, let’s demonstrate the point. What scholarship have you read on the issue of life in the ANE and what the purpose of the law on rape was?

    • Hey “Illin” Lane Craig,

      Typically atheists don’t hold to the objectivity of moral values–that is, moral precepts which are valid and binding on all people everywhere regardless of anyone’s opinion about them. The reason so many atheists don’t want to say this is because they know that on atheism there is no absolute and objective rule or standard for those ethics, and that what we call “good” and “evil” are just socio-cultural spin-offs of evolution which therefore do not hold for anyone but their society.

      Most atheists also don’t want to say objective good and evil exist because… (1) If God does not exist, objective moral values and duties do not exist. But if we say that (2) objective moral values (absolute good and evil) do exist, then it must follow (3) God exists. But that is precisely what the atheists does not want to say.

      So if this point is valid and you still want to be an atheist, you’ll have to deny (1) or (2). If you reject (1), it would be very interesting as to what you would say. But if you reject (2) then you should have no problem with the Hebrew law code recorded in the Old Testament, should you?

      • The same action can happen and whether it is moral or not depends on the intent. If a bear killed a little kid, we wouldn’t say that the bear did an immoral thing. But if a human intentionally killed a child, it would be called immoral. Morals are based on intent, and intent happens in the mind, therefore morals are subjective. But just because something is subjective doesn’t mean we can’t look at it objectively.

        It’s like the game chess. How the pieces in chess move are purely subjective. A bishop moves diagonally, but that’s subjective. There is not objective reason why a piece called a bishop would move like that. It’s because the players subjectively agree upon the rules of chess. But just because the moves are subjective, we can still objectively judge what moves would be better than others. Just like morals. Morals are subjective, but morals can be objectively judged to see which has the better outcome.

        What makes something right or wrong? The best way I can put it is a morally right action is something that promotes health, wellbeing, or minimizes harm/suffering. A morally wrong action is something that promotes harm/suffering or creates unnecessarily suffering. You might not agree with that, that’s fine, but your definition is just as subjective as me.

        The thing is you don’t get your morals from the bible. You get them from the same place as I do….our brains. How can your account for your belief that owning/beating slaves is wrong? Not the bible (Exodus 21:20-2). If you look at my definition, does slavery promote harm and/or creates unnecessarily suffering. YES it does, so therefore it is immoral. I can account for the reason I think slavery is immoral, you cannot.

        • So to answer your question. Why do i think stoning rape victims is immoral?

          Does killing an innocent person promote health, well being or minimize suffering?
          No, so therefore it is immoral.

          I’d be curious how you would account for it as an immoral act in your word view. Or do you find it a good policy to kill rape victims?

      • Ooh. I, a retired soldier, could get into a conversation over a year and half old between formally educated strangers. Dull, here living off the government.

        Interesting duality there. Haven’t looked yet at how illin handles it below, but I think there are probably some gaps the choices don’t cover. God could exist, yet be amoral or consequentialistic (which opens up a whole new can of worms about omnipotence). Unless you’re assuming rule morality as part of the definition of God.
        Otherwise, it’s “Something is all powerful, so it must have immutable standards “–which doesn’t follow. But if morality is part of the definition of God then saying God implies morality is tautological.

  5. “To generalize is to be an idiot” – William Blake

  6. Wow! How amusing to see such generalizations on atheists! What else should one expect.

    I have many times encountered trolling from theists – I don’t think any side has the monopoly of such practice.

    Here is a comment that is a fallacy in itself (from Nick Peters):
    “the internet atheist relies on Google Scholarship and Wikipedia. They think clicking to any YouTube video made by someone living in his mother’s basement is a valid argument.”

    The sheer lack of logic is stunning here. Two things:
    • First, may I point out that atheists usually know their Bible better – often because like me, they come from religion (I was a minister for over 3 decades).
    • secondly, I am amused that so many people belittle Google and Wikipedia, that granted have their pitfalls, but are no different than book/paper based encyclopedias and libraries of books of valid and not so valid material.

    What I do think, is that there is a form of frustration from intellectual theists, that like me, put in countless hours of research – then be confronted today with people who have all this knowledge at the tip of their fingers; instantly.

    But any reasonable person should embrace the fact that from the practical place of one’s home, one may argue with references that would have taken a trip to often different libraries to obtain.

    So I beg to differ with this article. I am an internet atheist because I am an atheist who happens to enjoy and use the internet. I will gladly concede that this in no way excuses trolling – by either side.

    • Did you not see me say that this behavior in general is bad?
      You first point: isn’t that a generalization? What fallacy did I make in my lack of logic in regards to atheists knowing the Bible more than Christians? That doesn’t even follow.
      Second point: You’re making Wikipedia equivalent to a paper? ……
      If you don’t fit the category I’ve described here then my critique wouldn’t apply to you.

    • Vincent: First, may I point out that atheists usually know their Bible better – often because like me, they come from religion (I was a minister for over 3 decades).

      Reply: So what? I know several people who have been ministers for longer who I don’t think have a clue about their Bibles. They grow up as fundamentalists and never mature past it. You could be an exception, but saying “I was a minister for over 3 decades” is not enough to convince me.

      Vincent• secondly, I am amused that so many people belittle Google and Wikipedia, that granted have their pitfalls, but are no different than book/paper based encyclopedias and libraries of books of valid and not so valid material.

      Reply: Wrong again. The former sources do not tell you how to sift out information and it only has cheap information generally. Most people who are scholarly do not put their material out for everyone to see but leave it for an exclusive audience. If you go to a book, you know who wrote it and what their credentials are usually. You don’t know that for most web sites.

      Wikipedia is one of the worst due to its constantly being able to be edited. Just yesterday I spent some time editing my father-in-law’s page that someone was editing and spreading false information about. If you want a classic example, look up Shane Fitzgerald.

      Vincent: What I do think, is that there is a form of frustration from intellectual theists, that like me, put in countless hours of research – then be confronted today with people who have all this knowledge at the tip of their fingers; instantly.

      Reply: No. I don’t meet people with knowledge. I meet people with ignorance who think it’s knowledge. Consider the crowd that says “Jesus never existed.” Sure. NT scholarship throws that out and laughs at it as if you’d said the Earth was flat, but it’s accepted on the internet.

      Vincent: But any reasonable person should embrace the fact that from the practical place of one’s home, one may argue with references that would have taken a trip to often different libraries to obtain. So I beg to differ with this article. I am an internet atheist because I am an atheist who happens to enjoy and use the internet. I will gladly concede that this in no way excuses trolling – by either side.

      Reply: And if you are avoiding books, then you are being a lazy researcher. No way around it. Hard work must be done and it must be done outside of just the internet.

      I also see above you are speaking about faith. I seriously doubt you know what faith is nor do you have a valid exegesis of Hebrews 11:1 and the surrounding context. If you think you do, then please show it.

      As for Sam Harris, that you consider him a reliable authority shows me enough. Some of us have already dealt with him.

      http://tektonticker.blogspot.com/search/label/Sam%20Harris

    • Google is a search engine which utilises algorithms that base results off of “hits,” whereas a library search engine is, typically, much more refined. Secondly, Google has no means of filtering scholarly from non-scholarly information, whereas a library typically only contains non-scholarly works if it is a public library. University libraries and specialist libraries contain only scholarly works. Wikipedia is more or less the same. They can be used to find sources, but are almost useless as sources themselves. Secondly, the average debater on the Internet who utilises Google results and Wikipedia knows next to nothing about serious scholarly subjects at all. The greatest problem facing actually intelligent people is not that people on the Internet are informed, the greatest problem is that they are hideously misinformed. Unless you are seriously suggesting that the moron who types in “did Jesus exist?” into Google, is on the same level as someone who has spent a number of years studying the primary source material. In which case you’re as big a vapid, supercilious, preening twit as you sound.

      • “Google has no means of filtering scholarly from non-scholarly information”
        Not true. Google Scholar, Site:.edu are two simple ways to filter for scholarly info.
        Wikipedia varies widely, it’s true, but if you know the general pattern you can quite easily tell most legit wiki articles.

      • Google actually doesn’t, and never has utilised algorithms based on the number of “hits”, if it did, any site without Google Analytics installed would be literally unsearchable (source: I’m a professional web developer and studied this algorithm during math at university) it’s based loosely on the concept of how easy the network of the internet makes it for you to find your way to a given page. More connected pages are considered more relevant, as they have more incoming references. Google has excellent scholarly search functionality, far better than any library I’ve used. Many times during university research and for pleasure I’ve searched for articles in google scholar and then put the results of that search back into the library’s search engine to see if they have any of those resources available.

  7. B. P. Burnett, your argument is circular. Please don’t assume what atheists believe. In fact, if you REALLY want to know what our stance is on morality – I invite you to read Sam Harris’ “Letter to a Christian Nation”, and if you have more time, “The Moral Landscape”.

    As for the existence of a creator God, I would be the first to believe it if I had the evidence that this god is not man’s invention. And I used to believe it. My personal study of the Bible has made me conclude differently – so far. If proven I am mistaken, I would change. But in all likelihood, I fear the argument for God can only be rooted in Faith – and faith can not be a matter of proof (Heb.11:1)

  8. As an atheist and a graduate student in philosophy, I will admit that I also find this current phenomenon troubling. I’m not sure just how troubling, though. In just about any position you can take there will likely be a few who devote time and effort toward justifying their beliefs as much as possible. And then there will be a larger number of people who don’t. This obviously exists for theism too (as my Facebook feed will confirm!). Is it embarrassing? Maybe. Am I overly concerned? Probably not. And I’d venture to guess that you aren’t overly concerned either. So, I would say it is a problem, but not a special problem for atheism. All we can do is continue to move the conversation forward and hope it catches on here and there because you’re not going to turn a large popular movement into a scholarly one. Occupy Wall St. will never rally behind a solid understanding of John Rawls, for example.

    • I am in agreement with Mike Cage. I see this behavior constantly and consistently from young-earth creationists as well as the more common, less thoughtful atheist. In my experience, it is slightly easier to find a thoughtful atheist than a thoughtful young-earther.

  9. This is spot on. I’ve had scores of interactions with atheists on the Internet, and 95% of them fit the pattern Max describes. If they don’t begin the discussion with some kind of insult, they start flying soon afterward. There’s a venom underlying most of these interactions that’s shocking–and that’s quite telling about the atheists. Bitterness, anger, malice, profanity, and viciousness pour out like a waterfall. I’ve told several of these individuals that if they want to gain respect for their movement and greater acceptance by society, start by demonstrating that you can have a civil conversation with someone you disagree with. The vast majority can’t.

    • Some atheists have tried to gain greater respect for their movement by highlighting positive aspects of their beliefs. This pretty much sums up how it went over with internet atheists:

      http://freethoughtblogs.com/blaghag/2012/09/goodbye-for-now/

      Sickening. It’s why I call myself an agnostic now.

      • Kyle, that’s a shame. I’m sickened to read that as well.

      • I feel sorry for Jen McCreight. She felt the full force of the kind of outrageous behavior we’re talking about here. Based on this link that Kyle provided, all of this took quite a toll and forced her to stop blogging. This should never have happened, but I have to say that she contributed to the atmosphere where this kind of thing flourishes. Every time that she attacked religious believers, held them up to ridicule, and waxed eloquent with insults, she created precisely the atmosphere where this kind of behavior was accepted and celebrated. She probably never imagined that it would eventually turn on her, but it finally did. You can’t dance with the devil (so to speak) and just walk away. In our online group, the Christian Apologetics Alliance, we shut down conversations when they begin turning malicious against atheists. It’s not Christian and will corrupt the entire atmosphere if left unchecked. Too bad Jen McCreight didn’t understand that early on.

        • Nice victim-blaming here. She is somehow responsible for the torrent of abuse thrown at her?

          • I’m just saying she was willing to tolerate it and participate in it when it wasn’t directed at her. But by doing so, she provided fertile soil for that kind of behavior–not realizing, of course, that it would eventually turn on her. It’s a shame that it did, but sadly she reaped what she had at least partially sowed.

          • Twist your words however you wish. They down to the same thing – victim blaming.

  10. Max. I will say it was certainly nice of some commenters to come and prove the point that you made in this article.

  11. Max-

    LOL…. I think Ricky Gervais has the same annoyance as you do:

    “Twitter: its like talking to your neighbour through an open window, until a drunk yob puts his head in and you have to close it.” – @rickygervais
    https://twitter.com/rickygervais/status/264457690275794946

    The thing is we all get annoyed by trolls. You should see the vile that goes Ricky Gervais’s way just because he says he’s an atheist.

    We need to make sure that the we don’t look at the extreme of a group and label the whole group. It would be faulty to judge Christians as a whole just based on the Westboro Baptist. Sure their are some bad atheists out there, but there are a lot of theists just as bad.

  12. I had a VERY public conversation with just such a person on facebook. I got the “f__k you’s” and the like. (I really dont mean to be so blunt, but thats as cleaned up as I can get it.

    This is how “I” handled the situation and why:
    First he had created a facebook page that protested the CHICK Christian tracts and how they should be stopped.

    He had alot of followers that for the most part were his cheering section.

    So…. seeing as how it was a public facebook page…. and KNOWING others would see the conversation…. I engaged him….. NOT to fight “him” but to calmly take apart his arguments using nothing but logic and the bible…(God ROCKS!!!) needless to say…. HE voiced opinion based on half truth’s and feeling’s…. I based mine on Fact and logic….. the last time I went back and looked for his page…IT WAS GONE!!!! although for the most part, I know that the veil of pride will keep most from seeing the truth….. but we don’t DARE give up…especially when you know others are watching…. Christ took the time to die for me….I figure I could take the time and STAND for him…

    God bless and NEVER give up the fight.

  13. This is certainly my experience with internet atheists. Just today, I was having a Twitter “conversation” with another Christian and two atheists interjected, taking over our conversation. I bit the hook and was drug into a ridiculous conversation. After a few rounds of red herrings, straw men, and general condescension and ridicule, I bowed out, saying that it wasn’t worth my time. I was accused of wavering in my faith. The tactic is to beat Christians down with logical fallacies until they give up and then accuse of them of being intellectually weak. It is a waste of time to spend a great deal of time on rational argumentation when you’re opponent is willing to be irrational.

  14. What’s interesting is finding these internet atheists who make emails containing my Sententias name and put your name as Robert Anonymous and leaving comments is the very pinnacle of proving my point.

  15. I try. I will not succeed where I’m already judged off the bat. If I believe my detractor(s) here, I don’t read books (as it’s either the net or paper), and I have full confidence in Wikipedia, even though on the outset I precisely said that they have their pitfalls. Finally, I’m an atheist – and I will gladly retrieve myself, as I have understandably not been invited to the discussion. This is a theistic site, and I want to respect that.
    For the rest, I have repeated ad nauseam the context and sources of my reasoning, so I will respectfully take a bow and leave.

    I am not closed on the subject , as I changed and fought my bias before, and can and will do it again upon further knowledge and discovery – but the arguments I read and heard form the likes of William Lane Craig, to name one, are far – very far – from being convincing to me. But that’s my personal understanding so far.

    Thank you for letting me voice an opinion.

    • Vincent: Just because you are an atheist and use the internet does not put you in the category of “internet atheist” that Max has written. There is a very specific, vocal, beligerant atheist that hides behind fake names, avatars, and blasphemous images. From reading your posts, I don’t think you fall into the description of that class described above and therefore, this post is not about you.
      Speaking personally, you are the atheist with which I wish to discuss. I have learned so many complaints and arguments from atheists that really gave me pause and a reason to further research my beliefs. This is not typical of “internet atheists”.

    • I like facts too….. honestly, I have no problem with you personally. I’ve known atheist that are very nice people.
      now.. you may argue your point as to what you consider facts…. and I could do like wise. Actually, I LOVE those types of conversations… i believe you learn a lot from both sides as long as both sides remain civil.

      so I figure I’ll start off with a couple of logic based videos….

      one is straight to the point….. the other is a bit longer, but has plenty of humor in it….. If there’s anything you have, I’d love to take a look at it…. (hint, I love videos!!) lol
      Good luck sir:

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pHRP0I2SrVs

      and

  16. Just one word on the CHICK Christian tracts; I supported Chick-fil-A for their constitutional rights – sometimes vehemently – against fellow atheists. I personally support gay rights – but I was appalled at the ironic bigotry of atheists, claiming that the bigotry was on the other side! Frustrating. On my side, I continued to eat there (as it is good stuff), and that was that.

    Just sayin’ that I understand your frustration on many of those who act this way. I’m even tempted to say I argue more with atheists than theists… irony.

  17. Wow. What a bunch of malarkey, stereotyping, and more. What is the problem with internet religious people = this article. Turn around is fair and all that.

    When you are having a twitter conversation it is public and anyone can join. Don’t like that – don’t tweet.

    There are lots of atheists that use the internet for communication (sounds like driving while black – atheist while typing). Many atheists are not as you describe; just like many with religious beliefs are not evangelical proselytizers.

    • I still don’t understand why people are focusing on a category I’m not describing. I’f I’m not describing that category then my comments don’t apply. It’s quite simple.

      • I suspect the reason why people are condemning you for attacking a category as a whole is, well, because your article is titled “The Problem of Internet Atheists”.

        I understand that you’re trying to note a specific subset of that group, but those of us who are atheists that happen to spend a lot of time on the internet just might take offense and mob your page.

        You might rethink the name you use for the category you’re describing. The name as it stands is far too inclusive.

        As a counterpoint, I suspect you wouldn’t appreciate it if I wrote an article called “the problem with internet christians” and spent the entire article tying you to the positions and tactics of the more vehement Young-Earth fundies out there (of whom, you must admit, there are several).

        Every group has their goods and bads. There are christian trolls, atheist trolls, agnostic trolls, etc. and I’m certain some very minor edits to your article could make it just as effective of an attack on Christian trolls. Calling out one specific group is 1) counterproductive to dialog, and 2) trollbait, as I’m sure you’ve noticed from your exploding comment section. Effective at proving your point, I suppose, but rather self-serving in that regard.

  18. Your two points appear to be 1) internet atheists are sometimes vulgar, crass and unkind; 2) internet atheists hide behind a veil of internet anonymity. There also seems to be some discussion that at times, internet atheists do not seem to live up to your standard of what constitutes rational discussion. THe last point I readily concede as that is subjective and you are entitled to set your own standard of what constitutes rational discussion.

    Do you really think that vulgarity and internet anonymity are qualities that reside exclusively with internet atheists? Is THAT all you got? Seriously, if that is the only ‘problem’ with internet atheists, then there isn’t much of a problem unique to them. Name a single outspoken self-identified group on the internet and I’ll find you examples of vulgar and anonymous people.

    I suggest you visit some of the secular sites on Facebook. They are bombarded with vulgar, irrational and anonymous posts from “internet christians”. That not withstanding, I would hardly characterize “internet christians” as vulgar, irrational or (consistently) anonymous.

    By the way, thanks for citing PZ Myers and Dawkins. The more publicity our very non-anonymous leaders get, the better. Its OK you don’t agree with them, in fact its good that you don’t. It provides a ready made discussion that they, among others, are only too ready to engage.

  19. “When in dialogue with an internet atheist, they have the habit of ignoring pertinent issues and specific questions posed towards them. Instead of giving meaningful, irenic responses they’ll focus on some detail that’s got hardly anything to do with the thesis of the discussion. This inevitably results in not reading the actual argument being made or spending their time building a straw man from scratch straight from the farmer’s field.
    When in doubt or fear or losing an argument, the internet atheist typically appeals to mockery and self-flattery. That is, insulting the other person[s] and inflating their own head to the point that they run the risk of falling out of their seat should they lean too far to the left.” You just described nearly every Christian I have ever debated with on the Internet, and yet I don’t post this sort of condescending vitriol about Christians in my blog.

    I have heard just about every argument there is – or at least, I haven’t heard a new one in many years – for the existence of a god, and they all fail. The morality one mentioned earlier by BP Burnett also fails, by the way. I can’t speak for other atheists, but for myself, I don’t concede the existence of objective moral values. What is considered moral varies from society to society, and there is no atheistic justification for things like suicide bombing and genital mutilation – both of which I consider to be immoral but others do not, so moral proscriptions against these behaviors are not objective. Furthermore, I reject an objective moral code that tells me I must surrender my reason and believe something I simply cannot, or else face the prospect of eternal torture. To me, that is not morality; that is coercion.

    So, I am an atheist. I also happen to use the Internet every day, and often I argue with others about God. That makes me an Internet atheist. You are asserting that I am a problem, that I am a troll, that I hide behind anonymity, that I commit fallacies and appeal to dubious authorities, that I evade the thesis of an argument and resort to ad hominem attacks and self-aggrandizing, and you’ve never been in dialogue with me. You are making an unjustified blanket generalization based on a limited sample of Internet users. It is grossly unfair to paint all atheists on the Internet with this brush. There are trolls everywhere, as you know. If your experience really is that 95% of the atheists you talk to behave this way, you are in the wrong forums.

    • If my critique doesn’t describe you then it’s a good thing and doesn’t apply to you.

      • Agreed. However comma, your article paints an unfair picture based on a sample that is not representative of the atheist community at large. You make an unjustified claim that “the problem is with the atheist community at large.” This is an untrue statement. At least, it is no more true than with the Christian community at large, or the community at large of Republicans, flyfishing enthusiasts, Toyota truck fanatics, or computer programmers.

        • I’m not trying to represent the atheist community at large. The problem isn’t the atheist community but the problem rests within the atheist community.

          I find the biggest mistake in reasoning in responding to this article is the lack of categorical distinction. I thought the context of my last paragraph would make it clear but the problem isn’t all atheists but they’re the one’s who have to deal with it. The argument is made against Christians all the time, hypocritical Christians make the rest of us look bad. Also, just because one is an atheist on the internet does not mean they fall into the category I’ve described above. It’s like reading the title of the post without actually reading it (this last part is not for you, per se). Again, as I said earlier, if the critique does not apply to you then it doesn’t apply to you.

  20. This argument isn’t well thought out. His first point, internet atheists “come out of nowhere” and then proceeds to say the coming out of nowhere atheist is responding to his tweet. Not for nothing BUT…if you are tweeting your views and people are responding that isn’t coming from nowhere. He is responding to information you put out there. Second point, atheists hide behind anonymity and use vulgar language. Well, some atheists don’t use their real names and some use vulgar language towards theists and other atheists. I don’t appreciate that either but frankly I see more theists who hide behind anonymity and use vulgarity than atheists (who tend to be more rational). So that statement is best a wash because there are idiots on both sides. His third point about atheists not addressing issues I find ludicrous. I can only imagine that he is talking about times when atheists respond but can do more than say naw uh!!! Theists often bring up “proof” like, the bible said so or my mom told me!!! After a basic answer of the bible isn’t evidence, its just a story there is nothing else to say. You can’t have a reasonable & rational discussion with someone who doesn’t understand basic ideas like evidence, the scientific method etc. As far as atheists considering themselves superior and using demeaning methods like saying your god is the same as Santa Clause I have to say…sorry, it’s true!!! That is the problem. If you Mr. Internet Theist could step back for a few moments & think about your argument you would see there IS no evidence for your god anymore than there is for any other imaginary being. That is the point. You can still believe!!! But the rest of us who live in reality land aren’t going to respect that. The Santa Clause, tooth fairy or loch ness argument is completely valid. The final point about the atheist community being large would be fantastic except that in comparison to the theist community it is just false. The truth is you cannot have a discussion without common ground and many theist live in a cognitive dissonance where they live in reality with regards to most subjects, just not their religion. This is understandable, they are indoctrinated as children and have never been able to look at the evidence without bias. I don’t hate them, I’m not angry with them, although I am frustrated with them. I used to be one of them and was way to old before I allowed myself to question what I was taught and stunned and frightened when I began to question and my entire world fell apart around me. Fortunately I had enough education and a little support to see that all would be well until I could finally admit to myself I was an atheist and that my life had been spent in a fantasy land. When I was able to go forth into reality I discover not only was the world not scary but it was marvelous and a new adventure began. the main problem here is the author just doesn’t understand why atheists are out. First, we are out to protect our rights against tea party theists. More importantly we are out to reach people who are atheist & think they are alone. Also we want to try to inject some reality into the theist world. Most of us were once theists and we know how destructive the theist perspective was to our lives and we want to help others get out of indoctrination and into reality. We cant change anyone’s mind overnight. My deconversion took several years and all we can do is inject some reality and hope it grows. It will not take with most but we want to try. Theists think they’re right and they try to convert and think their helping and yet they can’t step back for a small moment & see we are merely doing the same thing. The only difference is science, logic & rationality are on our side while theists have emotional appeals and imagery. We are after he same thing and use different methods. One is more honest than the other. Believes as you wish but to argue there is something wrong with people stating their positions which happen to differ from yours and that is somehow “a problem” and the facts, logic and reason somehow makes us snarky and superior really is YOUR problem Mr. author. The truth is I know more than the majority of theists regarding all religion and the xtian religion in particular. I try to have rational discussions with theists knowing the effect won’t hit them for many, many years. I give up when they start spouting crazy history or religious nonsense not grounded in reality because I know that they are not at this point reachable and I’m not wasting my time (it isn’t because I’m scared of their logic!) I think perhaps you should go to some better forums if you are dealing with vulgarity because I don’t find this problem to be great within the atheist community (not that we don’t LOVE cursing but more that we don’t curse AT people because our point isn’t good.) If all else fails you may want to look at the common denominator in your communications which would be you.

    • It seems your just defending, what I describe as, internet atheism? That’s fine. I don’t recommend anyone really engaging in meaningful dialogue with you since you seem to not be a fan of that.

      • I just decimated your argument point by point. Your response, “I don’t recommend anyone really engaging in meaningful dialogue with you since you seem to not be a fan of that.?” I guess proving you wrong at almost every point is being defensive OR its just that, proving that your points are invalid. You are right, there is no point in engaging with you. My last sentence stands glaringly true. Have to go back to studying science now.

    • “religious nonsense” – actually you just proved his point with these two words. Thanks!

  21. I think the phenomenon you are talking about is very real, and totally irrelevant, on the internet YOU choose which arguments to address, YOU choose where to spend your time, why anyone would think ANY meaningful exchange is possible on twitter i don’t know. If you are in a debate with someone who doesn’t have any good arguments then you are wasting your time, stop and move on, find the BEST arguments, that is what you are obliged to do if you care about the truth. People tell me that Bill Craig gives one of the best cases for theism and i find out his arguments are based on Aristotelian logic and a theory of time that was proven incorrect a hundred years ago. People told me alvin plantinga gave an unanswerable case and its basically anselms ontological noise, aka more Aristotelian logic, I find it hilarious that these people are taken seriously but THESE ARE WHAT PEOPLE TELL ME ARE THE BEST ARGUMENTS. If you care about the truth, and believing things that are most likely to be correct, and not just joining a club or cheer-leading for your own beliefs, or scoring cheap points for ‘your side’ by taking pot-shots at any idiot who cheer-leads for the other side, then why would you even care what the ‘internet atheists’ are saying?
    I think it probably is just as bad from theists and atheists, and there are going to be a huge number of stupid atheists who are atheists for the bad reasons, but the stupidest person in the world might think the sun is shining, that doesn’t make it dark outside. Why SHOULD atheism not be prone to trolls and idiots? Presumably it shouldnt surprise theists at ALL as you think we are all hopelessy wrong anyway, it doesnt surprise me that all theistic arguments fail, if id heard one that didn’t id be a theist.

    • I don’t think all atheist arguments are hopelessly wrong. There’s an approximation to being right and wrong. However, I think a lot of the focus is so much on the existence of God. I can focus on Quine’s ontology and the internet atheist (as I described in the article) will come out of no where just to disagree. I think you make a lot of great points.

      • “I think a lot of the focus is so much on the existence of God.” Well, why not? After all, that is the key point on which theists and atheists disagree, nicht wahr?

        Your last sentence, “Internet atheism is an intellectual crime,” is ridiculous. I argue that obstinate adherence to a belief that is not based on evidence, that cannot be supported with evidence, that flies in the face of all the available evidence, is an intellectual crime. The behavior you describe is indeed reprehensible, but I have never seen an atheist on the Internet duck an argument with a theist about theism or religion in the way that you describe. It is possible that that is because I spend less time on the Internet arguing about religion than you do, but I still find the claim difficult to accept at face value. I have definitely seen Christians do this sort of thing – ad hom attacks, red herrings, begging the question, etc. Not saying it never happens, but in my experience the theists are overwhelmingly more guilty.

        That said, it can be excruciatingly frustrating to be in an argument with someone who appears to be impervious to reason and immune to logic. I would not be surprised if a lot of atheist debaters on the Internet were unable to maintain civility when confronted with the kind of nonsense theists sometimes spew. Not saying this applies to you (thank you for your disclaimer earlier, btw), but if some of us lose our shit, well, it’s understandable.

        • Sean says:

          “I argue that obstinate adherence to a belief that is not based on evidence, that cannot be supported with evidence, that flies in the face of all the available evidence, is an intellectual crime”

          Ladies and Gentlemen. This means Sean is to be presented as exhibit A.

          • Just what is that supposed to mean?

          • It means you’re a perfect example then of what he talked about with the baloney notion of “belief not based on evidence, not supported by evidence, and flies in the face of available evidence.”

            Sounds like you’ve bought into the Dawkins notion of faith.

            Too bad he doesn’t have any evidence for that definition.

          • Ok, what is your definition of faith, and let’s see if we can agree on it. I define it (independent of Dawkins or anyone else) as a belief without empirical evidence.

          • First off, do you have any evidence that that’s what faith is? For instance, do you have a NT lexicon that tells you that’s the definition of faith?

          • And I would like the record to reflect that Nick here has been the first one to throw a snide jab.

          • No. The snide remark was to assume I’m someone who believes something without evidence and that goes against evidence. That calls into question my intellectual ability. You made the first remark. Don’t blame me if you got what you gave. Meanwhile, do you have any evidence that that’s the correct definition of faith?

          • I honestly don’t give a damn. I care about what is true. I don’t need “evidence” for my definition of the word “faith;” it is immaterial to whether a god exists or not. You are claiming, it seems, that I hold a belief that I cannot support. I am claiming that I do not hold a belief that I cannot support.

            My definition of “faith” is based on my own experience as having once been a believer, and having encountered numerous other believers. I understand the word to mean that you believe something in spite of the fact that you cannot defend that belief with evidence and reason. If you have a better definition, great, but it still won’t convince me that a god exists.

          • Sean the Internet Atheist: I honestly don’t give a damn. I care about what is true.

            Reply: Uh huh. I suspect you care more about emotion. Let’s see.

            Sean the Internet Atheist: I don’t need “evidence” for my definition of the word “faith;”

            Reply: Ah! So you hold a belief you don’t need evidence for and yet you chide others who hold beliefs you say without evidence. So you’re a hypocrite also! Got it!

            Sean: it is immaterial to whether a god exists or not.

            Reply: Correct. God exists regardless of the definition of faith. It is however relevant to your claim about my belief system.

            Sean: You are claiming, it seems, that I hold a belief that I cannot support. I am claiming that I do not hold a belief that I cannot support.

            Reply: Oh I don’t doubt you can support it. I just doubt you can validly support it.

            Sean: My definition of “faith” is based on my own experience as having once been a believer, and having encountered numerous other believers. I understand the word to mean that you believe something in spite of the fact that you cannot defend that belief with evidence and reason. If you have a better definition, great, but it still won’t convince me that a god exists.

            REply: Oh I see. You didn’t do objective research. You just saw a definition that you thought fits and then applied that. It’s not based on real research. I wonder if that would work for me.

            “My belief in God is based on my own experience as a believer and having encountered numerous other believers. I understand that His existence is held to be true by the fellowship of believers.”

            That’s not my argument, but it’s parallel to what you’re claiming. My belief is one against evidence supposedly and is wrong. Yours is the same and it’s right. Okay.

            Number of NT lexicons cited? Zero.

            Not even a dictionary is cited.

            Is this a real approach to language? Just give words whatever meaning you think is appropriate? You defined the term faith yourself and then pushed that definition on everyone else.

            I recommend instead the Handbook of Biblical Social Values. Faith is not belief but is rather loyalty in response to actions given from a patron. For instance, one does not have faith in the sense that one believes God exists. That’s making faith into hope. We are told that the demons know God exists, and tremble, and it is clear they do not have “faith.” They do not have faith because they do not have loyalty to YHWH, which is essentially what faith is.

            And please feel free to try to bring up Hebrews 11. Some of us actually take the time to exegete a text and really understand what the author is saying instead of just being lazy.

          • My argument is not that my definition of “faith” is the correct one. My argument is that there is no evidence that a god exists and that it is therefore intellectually irresponsible to insist that one does.

  22. Sean the Internet Atheist: My argument is not that my definition of “faith” is the correct one.

    Reply: No. It does show you’re a lazy researcher however. You spend all this time arguing against faith and never once apparently bothered to study what faith really is. I suspect your mode of thinking hasn’t changed from when you were a believer. Your loyalty just changed.

    Sean: My argument is that there is no evidence that a god exists and that it is therefore intellectually irresponsible to insist that one does.

    Reply: I realize that and I also realize I have my own arguments for God’s existence, for instance, the five ways of Thomas Aquinas. Note this however. Even if I was wrong, I am not believing without evidence. I am holding to something that I believe is a valid argument. I do not believe all arguments for God’s existence are valid. I don’t think the ontological argument is for instance. I don’t think the first and second ways of Craig are the best. I could be wrong in the Five Ways, but that is not believing blindly.

    Another argument I’d give for God’s existence is the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, which I believe can be established historically. An excellent look at this is Michael Licona’s “The Resurrection of Jesus: A New Historiographical Approach.”

    • Ok, Nick, there was a lot of irrelevant gibberish in there; you’re going to have to give me some time to pick out the parts worth responding to. I have found two so far. Give me a few minutes.

  23. ” Oh I see. You didn’t do objective research. You just saw a definition that you thought fits and then applied that. It’s not based on real research. I wonder if that would work for me.” No, I didn’t do objective research on my definition of the word “faith.” So what?

    “I understand that His existence is held to be true by the fellowship of believers.” I did not say this. You are putting words in my mouth.

    Screw NT lexicons, and dictionaries, and definitions of the word “faith;” these have nothing to do with my argument. I regret saying we should try to come to a common definition. Loyalty in response to actions given from a patron? What patron?

    “You spend all this time arguing against faith and never once apparently bothered to study what faith really is” I already told you I don’t give a damn, and I didn’t spend that much time on it.

    ” I do not believe all arguments for God’s existence are valid. I don’t think the ontological argument is for instance. I don’t think the first and second ways of Craig are the best. I could be wrong in the Five Ways, but that is not believing blindly.” I have probably heard the Five Ways argument you’re talking about, but I’m too damn lazy to look it up now, so if you can present it coherently on your own without telling me I’m a lazy researcher (I’m not a researcher, remember, I’m just this dude on the Internet), I’ll be happy to discuss it with you.

    “Another argument I’d give for God’s existence is the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, which I believe can be established historically. An excellent look at this is Michael Licona’s “The Resurrection of Jesus: A New Historiographical Approach.”” Bullshit. I’ll look it up, but extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, so unless there’s something Earth-shattering in there, I’m not likely to take it at face value.

    That’s all for now.

    • Sean the quintessential internet atheist: No, I didn’t do objective research on my definition of the word “faith.” So what?

      REply: So it means you’re lazy and you sought no evidence for your position but went around touting it like it was fact. Meanwhile, you hold to account theists who you say do that with God’s existence. Why are you allowed to do it but the atheist is not.

      Sean the quintessential internet atheist: “I understand that His existence is held to be true by the fellowship of believers.” I did not say this. You are putting words in my mouth.

      REply: Reading comprehension bad? Apparently so. Let’s take a look at what I said.

      “I wonder if that would work for me.

      “My belief in God is based on my own experience as a believer and having encountered numerous other believers. I understand that His existence is held to be true by the fellowship of believers.”

      Note I said I wonder if the same would work for me and then gave a quote that is an example. Was it that difficult to follow? Apparently it was.

      Sean the quintessential internet atheist: Screw NT lexicons, and dictionaries, and definitions of the word “faith;” these have nothing to do with my argument.

      Reply: In other words, you tried to pull a canard, got caught, and you don’t have the humility to accept a correction and to admit you believed something without evidence. However, it’s wrong for anyone else to still do the same. Further evidence you’re a hypocrite.

      Sean the quintessential internet atheist:I regret saying we should try to come to a common definition.

      Reply: You regret it because you got caught in nonsense. You don’t seem to have the ability to admit error, which is common with internet atheists.

      Sean the quintessential internet atheist:Loyalty in response to actions given from a patron? What patron?

      Reply: Any patron. In the ancient Meidterranean world, people got the good gifts they had from the patron who supplied the gift, rather that was the king, the ruling officer over them, the government official, or a deity. In the case of the Bible, the faith is to YHWH as the Patron and Jesus as the broker through whom the gifts of Patronage come through. See DeSilva’s “Honor, Patronage, Kinship, Purity.”

      Sean the quintessential internet atheist:”You spend all this time arguing against faith and never once apparently bothered to study what faith really is” I already told you I don’t give a damn, and I didn’t spend that much time on it. ”

      Reply: That much time? I’d be surprised if you spent any time on it. Therefore, your research on faith is atrocious, and I’m supposed to expect you gave theism a fair shake? Not buying it. Watching your self-implosion is amusing.

      Sean the quintessential internet atheist:I have probably heard the Five Ways argument you’re talking about, but I’m too damn lazy to look it up now, so if you can present it coherently on your own without telling me I’m a lazy researcher (I’m not a researcher, remember, I’m just this dude on the Internet), I’ll be happy to discuss it with you.

      Reply: Yes. I realize it’s very difficult when you have to rely on Wikipedia and when you don’t know the arguments of your opponents but somehow you know they’re all wrong.

      All of them are here: http://www.newadvent.org/summa/1002.htm#article3

      Just pick one and let’s see how much you flub it.

      I know you just had to ask the theist to help you find information. Do you need me to come over and wipe your nose for you also if you sneeze?

      Sean the quintessential internet atheist: Bullshit. I’ll look it up, but extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, so unless there’s something Earth-shattering in there, I’m not likely to take it at face value. That’s all for now.

      Reply: Extraordinary evidence. How is that known? Does it glow? Does it float? Does it turn into a giant robot that will trounce evil monsters?

      What is needed for any claim is sufficient evidence. That can be given for the resurrection. It’s well over 600 pages of content so it could be difficult and real NT scholars who are non-Christian do actually interact with it. Note. If you’re someone who says Jesus never existed, you’re nowhere near being ready. You’re too thoroughly ignorant of history in that case.

      Again, it is all right there. Keep in mind also I do read the books that argue against the resurrection and read the NT scholars that disagree with it and read the atheists that disagree with God’s existence as well as write reviews on why I think they’re wrong. That requires actually engaging the other side, something I suspect you lost sight of a long time ago to hold to your emotional belief.

  24. Ok, last time; I’m getting tired.

    “So it means you’re lazy and you sought no evidence for your position but went around touting it like it was fact. Meanwhile, you hold to account theists who you say do that with God’s existence. Why are you allowed to do it but the atheist is not.” I did not go around touting it like it was fact. You are pretty hung up on this definition of faith thing, aren’t you? I offered to try to come to a common definition with you, but since it’s irrelevant to my argument I lost interest quickly.

    “Reply: In other words, you tried to pull a canard, got caught, and you don’t have the humility to accept a correction and to admit you believed something without evidence. However, it’s wrong for anyone else to still do the same. Further evidence you’re a hypocrite.” Not true. You’ve seized on this faith thing as evidence that I’m being disingenuous. It’s not true, and you’re a schlemiel for clinging to it.

    “Reply: You regret it because you got caught in nonsense. You don’t seem to have the ability to admit error, which is common with internet atheists.” You are full of shit. I admit it was silly of me to try to come to a common definition of faith with you because it was irrelevant to my argument. You have seized on this because you can’t address anything I said without appealing to some goddamn book I can’t read right now. You have offered zero evidence for your position, and have spent half of your column inches attacking my definition of a word that is irrelevant to the conversation we are supposed to be having.

    “Reply: That much time? I’d be surprised if you spent any time on it. Therefore, your research on faith is atrocious, and I’m supposed to expect you gave theism a fair shake? Not buying it. Watching your self-implosion is amusing.” Blow me.

    “Just pick one and let’s see how much you flub it.

    I know you just had to ask the theist to help you find information. Do you need me to come over and wipe your nose for you also if you sneeze?” Ok, I’m done.

    You have not offered a coherent argument. You have accused me of relying on Wikipedia for my research, and the only sources I have bothered to try to refer to are the ones you yourself have cited. You seem to have no thoughts of your own on this matter. When you can state your case without sending me to a book or a website, or insisting that I send you to one, I’ll be happy to talk to you. Until then, best wishes for a speedy recovery.

    • Sean the quintessential internet atheist: I did not go around touting it like it was fact. You are pretty hung up on this definition of faith thing, aren’t you?

      Reply: Oh. So when you stated that we believe without evidence, no supporting evidence, and against all available evidence, you did not see that as factual? Baloney. You got caught.

      Sean the quintessential internet atheist I offered to try to come to a common definition with you, but since it’s irrelevant to my argument I lost interest quickly.

      Reply: No. You lost interest because you had no legs to stand on. You had a belief without evidence, that could not be supported by evidence, and went against all available evidence. You got called on it and rather than show a little humility, you just tried to act like it was never said.

      Sean the quintessential internet atheist Not true. You’ve seized on this faith thing as evidence that I’m being disingenuous. It’s not true, and you’re a schlemiel for clinging to it.

      Reply: Because saying “It’s not true” is the clincher argument. Sorry. I don’t care for assertions. I care for facts. You made a claim about what faith is. That claim was wrong. You made a claim about how we believe. That claim is also wrong. You’re wrong on so many claims right now.

      Sean the quintessential internet atheistYou are full of shit. I admit it was silly of me to try to come to a common definition of faith with you because it was irrelevant to my argument. You have seized on this because you can’t address anything I said without appealing to some goddamn book I can’t read right now.

      Reply: Oh? You can’t read it right now. I’m on TheologyWeb.com. I have a section called Deeper Waters. I go by ApologiaPhoenix. You feel free to read it and get back to me on there and I will start a thread just for you so you can tell me what’s wrong with it.

      Also, it is relevant to your argument because at the start, you talked about how it is to argue with people who believe without evidence, no supporting evidence, and against available evidence, which is an exact parallel to your position on what faith is. Again, you are unable to say something simple like “I was wrong on my understanding of faith.” Instead, you choose to go after me. I find that amusing. Further convincing to me that your position is emotional due to pride.

      Sean the quintessential internet atheistYou have offered zero evidence for your position,

      Reply: Also not true but in fact irrelevant. I could have been an atheist and the argument that you have the wrong definition of faith would still apply. However, I have offered evidence for my position. I have offered the five ways. I have this strange belief that offering metaphysical arguments for a metaphysical position is valid. Bizarre isn’t it?

      Sean the quintessential internet atheist and have spent half of your column inches attacking my definition of a word that is irrelevant to the conversation we are supposed to be having.

      Reply: No. Not irrelevant. It was rooted in your charge that was an assumption on the intellectual abilities of someone like myself or Max and how your position is so much more valid since you don’t have that problem. Well you have the exact problem you condemn. Don’t whine to me if you don’t like being called on it. There’s an easy way to avoid this. Study your opponents’ position instead of just what Dawkins says about them.

      Sean the quintessential internet atheist: Blow me.

      Reply: Your position is flimsy enough to be knocked down with a feather. Better watch and make sure hummingbirds aren’t flying around. Your whole epistemological foundation could come crashing.

      Sean the quintessential internet atheist: Ok, I’m done. You have not offered a coherent argument.

      Reply: You have been given the five ways. Do you wish to assert they are coherent without argument? I see. So you want to hold a position and have it be true but not give an argument for it. You are a man of faith.

      Sean the quintessential internet atheist: You have accused me of relying on Wikipedia for my research, and the only sources I have bothered to try to refer to are the ones you yourself have cited.

      Reply: Yes. You’re an internet atheist. Until I see some evidence you’ve done real research, I will assume a Wikipedia mindset.

      Sean the quintessential internet atheist: You seem to have no thoughts of your own on this matter.

      Reply: Oh I have plenty, which you will find once you engage the arguments. I also do have plenty of the thoughts of other people. That’s the great thing about being a real researcher. You actually read other people who know a lot more than you and you learn their thoughts and how they reached them. It’s called scholarship, something the internet atheist community has never cared for.

      Sean the quintessential internet atheist: When you can state your case without sending me to a book or a website, or insisting that I send you to one, I’ll be happy to talk to you. Until then, best wishes for a speedy recovery.

      Reply: Because like all internet atheists, everything needs to be broken down into nice little sound bites for easy consumption. Nothing too hard to think on please. Nothing that will require a real investment of time and research. Please also don’t make us read anything that we disagree with. It’s ipso facto wrong.

      No need for a recovery. Instead, I can thank you for giving me further convincing of the bankruptcy of internet atheism and how blind internet atheists are. Fortunately, there are some real atheists out there who know how to dialogue with this material and are capable of interaction. They do know about the other side and when they get called out, they can admit they’re wrong. I was just talking to one last night who’s a good friend of mine.

      I have more respect for an informed atheist than an uninformed Christian, but it’s apparent to me you’re neither one of those.

      • Wow. Nick, I don’t think the word ‘quintessential’ has been used more aptly, ever. This is exactly the conversation I imagined while reading the article.

  25. ‘You have been given the five ways.
    Do you wish to assert they are coherent
    without argument?’

    Lol @ thinking Aristotlean logic and first cause arguments require taking seriously.

  26. ‘Not even a dictionary is cited.’

    Lol @ thinking the editors of dictionaries have some kind of exclusive access to some kind of intrinsic meaning of words instead of bring just historians of common usage.

    • Sorry Alex, but I would figure if someone wanted to define a word, they could at least use a dictionary, even if it is not the best resource always. Personal experience is not where one gets it.

      Also, for Aristotlean logic, do you have a problem at the start with say, the LNC?

  27. Okay. Then what is your problem if you accept that with the Aristotlean approach?

  28. well it implies presentism, and presentism is false.

    • Please back both cases. Note if you do not answer before too long tonight, I won’t answer until Monday. I do not do internet debate on Sunday. I just wanted to state that in case you posted and I am some time in replying.

  29. As I’m reading this, I felt the need to place the words “faith” and “reason” in their different meanings:
    ________

    • Definition of FAITH
    1 – a : allegiance to duty or a person : loyalty
    b (1) : fidelity to one’s promises (2) : sincerity of intentions
    2 – a (1) : belief and trust in and loyalty to God (2) : belief in the traditional doctrines of a religion
    b (1) : firm belief in something for which there is no proof (2) : complete trust
    3 – something that is believed especially with strong conviction; especially : a system of religious beliefs
    — on faith
    : without question
    ________

    • Definition of REASON
    1 – a : a statement offered in explanation or justification
    b : a rational ground or motive
    c : a sufficient ground of explanation or of logical defense; especially : something (as a principle or law) that supports a conclusion or explains a fact
    d : the thing that makes some fact intelligible : cause
    2 – a (1) : the power of comprehending, inferring, or thinking especially in orderly rational ways : intelligence (2) : proper exercise of the mind (3) : sanity
    b : the sum of the intellectual powers
    3 – (archaic) : treatment that affords satisfaction
    — in reason
    : rightly, justifiably
    — within reason
    : within reasonable limits
    — with reason
    : with good cause
    ______

    In view of the different meanings of each one of these words, it dawns on me the theists and atheists practice at least one form of each these qualities.

    The reason I brought up Heb. 11:1 earlier, is that I know many, many Christians that hold that definition superior to the Dictionary’s. Not all of course – but many. Those ones feel the Biblical definition superior and Holy.

    So I do not mock faith – as I have per definition some myself. Interestingly, even Dawkins has made a good point (for atheists), that he too has and practices faith – I forget the video at this time, but it included his head being in the way of a swinging boulder that showed his ‘faith’ in the science of physics.

    What I respectively have a problem with, is that Faith alone is the locomotive for believing in God. When I believed in God, I claimed that no material evidence could divert me from my Creator. And none ever did – at first. It was the circumstantial evidence that started my doubts, followed by logic – a logic, I will concede, that focused on what I knew to be true and verifiable, or rational if you will.

    So I have no argument beyond that. If anyone wants to claim Faith, I will take my bow and take leave. There is no disputing Faith, and it’s something too many atheists don’t get.

    • Vincent. Could you be clear what kind of faith you think Hebrews 11 espouses and then give an exegesis of the text that shows that? I will contend it shows the loyalty definition that I gave.

      • I would gladly do that, although cannot claim any privileged erudition on the subject.
        Maybe you can point out where I am mistaken in my understanding.

        Heb. 11:1 (NIV) “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”
        The KJV translates: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”

        A little different, but overall – as I understood it for a long time now, Faith is based on “hope.”

        Some would compare hope to “wish”, but the difference between hope and wish is that the latter has no solid grounds. Still hope is not a guarantee of success, or it would be “confidence (substance) of what we KNOW, precisely thru proper evidence.

        But here’s where I find a multiplication of problems:
        It is assumed that what we cannot see can be called ‘evidence’. On that basis, the double problem is that not only is Faith based on hope, with confidence – all of it based on unseen evidence.

        Now, I realize this may be understood by realities we may not see, but DISCERN.
        However, the original Greek word “blepomenōn” is indeed the word ‘seen’, but always preceded by ‘not’ (not seen/not yet seen).
        Not ‘yet’ seen is more open to evidence yet to come. So in the best cases, it hope based on evidence to come. But how can we know that?

        This is my problem with faith. It suggests clairvoyance or total confidence in the writers of the Bible. I do not think this is wise, as we now know of many flaws that would contradict that it is inspired by an omniscient creator. This is without the scientific mistakes or candid ignorance it portrays on many fronts.

        I have articulated this the best I could… ;)

        I do know the rationalizations to this unusual verse, as I used them myself — but my mind and conscience could not sustain this logic anymore.

      • Also not to forget the context, as Hebrews lists the servants of God – like Noah – who “by faith” did what they did. Paul ends this chapter with “These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised,since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.”

        So yes, Loyalty is indeed one of the definitions. It is just not the only one.

        • I must add that Paul gives no hint about loyalty in his definition, as he talks about faith ”being” (is) confidence (substance) in what we hope for – not a form of active loyalty, but a state of understanding and condition of the heart, IMO…

          • Paul? Most scholars are in agreement that Hebrews is not of Pauline origin. Don’t forget that several instances of “faith” in this chapter explicitly refer to things that would be classified as evidence in philosophical/epistemological terms: “By faith Noah, being warned by God about things not yet seen, in reverence prepared an ark for the salvation of his household, by which he condemned the world, and became an heir of the righteousness which is according to faith.” See that? The difference between “faith” and “knowledge” is largely the additional aspect of trust.

  30. Sorry for the horrid typos – time for bed. :D

  31. I was on a site where a Christian complained that 80 per cent of the atheists they dealt with were insincere and given to mockery rather than intelligent conversation. I’m afraid that has been my experience as well. The majority I have come across seem to think that hurling insults represents an acceptable manner of discussion.

    I have concluded that those who resort to that kind of behaviour do not have the information or the ability to intelligently and reasonably refute what a Christian is saying. Rather than admit that, they try to shut the Christian up or drive her/him away with rudeness and disrespect.

    I spend so much time trying to explain what the Bible really says and what Christians really believe because the majority of them haven’t got a clue. They repeat the pack of lies they get from atheist sites without even checking to make sure there is any validity to them. I have come to the conclusion that, if the information lines up with the beliefs they hold, then they don’t care whether it’s true or not. They’ll tout it anyway. The worst ones practise a kind of obscurantistm, burying their head in the sand rather than even consider the arguments of those on the opposing side.

    Are there intelligent, reasonable atheists out there who are capable of carrying on intellgient, respectful conversations? Of course there are. But they are outnumbered by the bad ones and they must truly be as frustrated by them as we Christians are.

    Are there ignorant, unreasonable people out there posting in an ungodly fashion even though they call themselves Christians? Yes, there are and I join the atheists in being frustrated and annoyed by them.

    I have learned that, when the atheists don’t attempt to refute what I have said or offer any kind of reasonable discussion but simply make sarcastic and belittling comments, it’s time to simply post some good resources for anybody interested to pursue. After all, the Bible tells us not to throw our pearls before swine.

    • I respectfully disagree that the bad atheists (which I have most problems with) outnumber us reasonable ones.

      In my case, I’m a seeker above all.
      I consider my own bias a deceitful enemy, and I have successfully, if not easily, won against it many times.
      I stay open to the possibility of an intelligent creator, and would be happy to embrace the news if found to be logical and reasonable. I don’t think everything is reducible to matter, so the evidence does not have to me material – but it must be strong circumstantial evidence at the least. I think this is a fair and reasonable expectation.

      I am forced to ignore the simple statements like “Just look around you, and creation – they witness to the power of God!” – because it is no different than to point out thunder and lightning as proof of Thor’s existence and power.
      I need more than that.
      I do tend to argue passionately – but refuse to be rude in any way, and try hard to keep cool sometimes.

      Just introducing myself to you. ;)

  32. Vincent: I would gladly do that, although cannot claim any privileged erudition on the subject.
    Maybe you can point out where I am mistaken in my understanding.

    Reply: Yep. Let’s see what we get!

    Vincent: Heb. 11:1 (NIV) “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”
    The KJV translates: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”

    A little different, but overall – as I understood it for a long time now, Faith is based on “hope.”

    Some would compare hope to “wish”, but the difference between hope and wish is that the latter has no solid grounds. Still hope is not a guarantee of success, or it would be “confidence (substance) of what we KNOW, precisely thru proper evidence.

    Reply: The reality is that in the ancient world, hope was in fact confidence. When Paul says he is on trial for the hope of the resurrection of the dead, he is not saying that he has this great desire that it will happen. He is in fact saying he knows it will happen. Now you could claim Paul’s knowledge is not really knowledge, but on Paul’s part, there is no question.

    According to the Handbook of Biblical social values, hope is the value found in placing allegiance in the patron to bring about that which they state. It is a confidence that the patron is true to his word. Hope then means that one is certain that the patron will do what they promised.

    Vincent: But here’s where I find a multiplication of problems:
    It is assumed that what we cannot see can be called ‘evidence’. On that basis, the double problem is that not only is Faith based on hope, with confidence – all of it based on unseen evidence.

    Reply: The problem is you'[re talking about what cannot be seen but not stating what this is. To say something cannot be seen does not mean it is totally unknown. I will get into this later.

    Vincent: Now, I realize this may be understood by realities we may not see, but DISCERN.
    However, the original Greek word “blepomenōn” is indeed the word ‘seen’, but always preceded by ‘not’ (not seen/not yet seen).
    Not ‘yet’ seen is more open to evidence yet to come. So in the best cases, it hope based on evidence to come. But how can we know that?

    Reply: The simple answer is by looking at the past and seeing the past likelihood. How do I know the rock will fall when I drop it from my hand? Well past experience of dropping rocks sure plays a big part!

    Vincent: This is my problem with faith. It suggests clairvoyance or total confidence in the writers of the Bible. I do not think this is wise, as we now know of many flaws that would contradict that it is inspired by an omniscient creator. This is without the scientific mistakes or candid ignorance it portrays on many fronts.

    Reply: Inerrancy is a non-issue to me.

    Vincent: Also not to forget the context, as Hebrews lists the servants of God – like Noah – who “by faith” did what they did. Paul ends this chapter with “These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised,since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.”

    So yes, Loyalty is indeed one of the definitions. It is just not the only one.

    Reply: This doesn’t contradict loyalty. When I get to my exegesis, that will be brought out. Minor point also. I don’t think Paul wrote Hebrews, but I think we’d agree that doesn’t affect the substance of the argument.

    I notice however in your exegesis, you only looked at one verse. You didn’t look at the surrounding context and a minister should know to do that.

    Hebrews is written to Alexandrian Jews who have become Christians and are tempted to return to their old system due to the shame that they have faced. Hebrews 10 tells us they have not yet had the shedding of their blood yet so what is at threat is shame, which was taken very seriously in the ancient world.

    In the chapter before, we are told about those who apostasize and the grave consequences that await them. What will it mean if someone abandons the covenant? The writer then says that he expects better from the Hebrews.

    What does he expect? He expects their continued loyalty to the covenant. They are in a tough spot now in the already-not yet area. They know of the promises in Christ, but they have not seen the full realization of them. That is in the future.

    And we all know we can’t see the future.

    And that is what is unseen in the passage. The unseen is in the future, but we are to be loyal with what has been revealed. We can have certainty that what will be brought about will indeed be brought about. God will remain true to His word.

    Do we need examples of this? The writer lists several. All of these people did not see the future, but all of them believed that God was going to honor His word. They remained loyal to what they had been shown and because of that the promises are for them. They are our surrounding witnesses as we continue as chapter 12 says, therefore we are to remain loyal of the certainty that will come about.

    Note that none of this would indicate blind faith. If blind belief was being talked about, why write a letter to deal with the opposition presenting evidence that their claims are incorrect. (note that this is evidence from the past authority of the OT they took seriously. You might not consider it valid, but they surely did.)

    Now feel free to show where my exegesis is invalid.

    • Nick – I have indeed considered the context.
      This said, I do find your exegesis perfectly valid and well articulated. I must agree with your analysis, and the point by point clarifications.

      I think you can agree with me that the vast majority do not have such understanding in the context of the epistle to the Hebrews. May I just point out that “Faith” has a connotation that fits the spirit of what I was trying to argue. Nonetheless, your argument fits the basis of this discussion more precisely, and I can only agree with you.

      Going back to my concern; I noted, “What I respectively have a problem with, is that Faith alone is the locomotive for believing in God.”
      Today, we do not live in the context you justifiably laid out. The zeitgeist has disappeared. At the time, miracles were used to confirm and give attestation to Jesus’ supernatural and divine essence. Two thousand years later, it is not surprising that these could sincerely be considered just legendary, as there is no such evidence to back up the existence of God, nor his concern for us humans. Such reveal would be easy for him, no?

      In every key moment of Biblical history, God had helped belief with supernatural and amazing reveals to his people – whether with Moses, Noah, etc… and Jesus of course. The reason people like me doubt of the alleged realities of such stories, is that they are totally absent today. Another reason for reasonable doubt is that throughout history – to this very day – religion has so much blood on it’s hands, that linking any of them to a loving god is preposterous. But this should not be a surprise, as the God of the OT has been guilty of genocide himself – and not just any genocide; the killing of men, ripping apart of pregnant women, smashing of babies, rape, slavery, etc… (Hosea’s account is just one of those inexcusable horrors.)

      Back to faith – how can any person today be blamed, or even guilty, for not believing such god exist, let alone be loyal to such deity?

      • Vincent: Nick – I have indeed considered the context. This said, I do find your exegesis perfectly valid and well articulated. I must agree with your analysis, and the point by point clarifications.

        REply: Respect points go up hugely with this!

        Vincent: I think you can agree with me that the vast majority do not have such understanding in the context of the epistle to the Hebrews. May I just point out that “Faith” has a connotation that fits the spirit of what I was trying to argue.

        REply: I’ll go further. I’m blunt as can be. Most of the church is way too ignorant to handle anything. They think with only their feelings and believe God is speaking to them on a regular basis and consider ignorance to be a virtue. I would agree most people think blind faith is a virtue. Individualism is killing our church and more people are interested in being entertained than informed. If you think you’re hard on the church, I can assure you I’m harder.

        Vincent: Nonetheless, your argument fits the basis of this discussion more precisely, and I can only agree with you. Going back to my concern; I noted, “What I respectively have a problem with, is that Faith alone is the locomotive for believing in God.” Today, we do not live in the context you justifiably laid out. The zeitgeist has disappeared.

        Reply: This will get into the historical question. Let’s be clear that the Bible then is not affirming the blind faith today.

        Vincent: At the time, miracles were used to confirm and give attestation to Jesus’ supernatural and divine essence. Two thousand years later, it is not surprising that these could sincerely be considered just legendary, as there is no such evidence to back up the existence of God, nor his concern for us humans.

        Reply: Claims like this are disappointing. Why? It assumes people like myself believe without evidence. We don’t. I, for instance, would point to the five ways of Thomas Aquinas and the resurrection of Jesus Christ as arguments. For the latter, I would gladly give evidence, although the best case can be found in “The Resurrection of Jesus Christ: A New Historiographical Approach” by Mike Licona.

        Vincent: Such reveal would be easy for him, no? In every key moment of Biblical history, God had helped belief with supernatural and amazing reveals to his people – whether with Moses, Noah, etc… and Jesus of course. The reason people like me doubt of the alleged realities of such stories, is that they are totally absent today.

        Reply; Have you read Keener’s “Miracles” yet? Keener documents several miracles that are taking place in the majority world today and yes, some of them are happening over here. If anyone wants to claim miracles are not happening today, they must deal with Keener.

        Vincent: Another reason for reasonable doubt is that throughout history – to this very day – religion has so much blood on it’s hands, that linking any of them to a loving god is preposterous.

        REply: A number of problems with this. First off, is something like the Crusades a logical outworking of the teaching of Christ, or is it a misuse?

        Second, many of these events did not happen to the extent that we think they did. For instance, the Crusades were largely defensive wars. The Muslims made the first strike. Some Crusaders did awful things. A lot didn’t. The Spanish Inquisition was the worst inquistion and a work like Henry Kamen’s on the topic can show that there is a huge amount of myth that has grown up around it.

        Vincent: But this should not be a surprise, as the God of the OT has been guilty of genocide himself – and not just any genocide; the killing of men, ripping apart of pregnant women, smashing of babies, rape, slavery, etc… (Hosea’s account is just one of those inexcusable horrors.)

        Reply: Which case should we deal with first?

        Vincent: Back to faith – how can any person today be blamed, or even guilty, for not believing such god exist, let alone be loyal to such deity?

        Reply: If there is evidence and it is being ignored, one is accountable. For instance, this is about the problem of evil, but do you have a metaphysical basis for goodness itself? How can good be defined by naturalistic methods? By the way, I do have a reply if you try Harris on this.

        • Thank you so much for your time and care with me.

          Yes, I was indeed going to refer to Harris, and the link between morality and well being, so I would more than welcome your reply.

          • Vincent. If I sense you’re paying serious attention to the subject and open to other opinions, you get respect. If not, you don’t. Simple enough.

            For my reply to Harris….

            http://tektonticker.blogspot.com/search/label/Sam%20Harris

          • Just be careful not to judge my intentions. I have been honestly opened to your comments, and agreed on points that you cleared up. It’s not because I don’t agree with Craig Keener’s reasoning that I automatically should be demonized for my position. I have many reasons to find Keener’s arguments lacking – and at this precise time, I am in a deadline crunch with my job, so I’ll have to expound later.

          • //At my writing of this, Harris has just concluded recently a debate with William Lane Craig where Harris was thoroughly outmatched.//

            This is where we cannot agree at one point. You see, I saw this debate and I felt the contrary, that Harris outmatched, and by far, WLG.

            There is a point where debate is pointless. I will continue to read your blog however – so far, I feel you bath in logical fallacies.

            I’ve also had this discussion many a times. So you will understand my reticence to debate any further for now.

            I do thank you for your time. I wish you the very best.

            Vince.

          • If you do not reply by tonight, I will have to wait until later. As I’ve said, I don’t debate on Sunday.

  33. Atheists “plow their way into conversations” (an interesting image, considering that the public is invited to comment on the blog posts in question) because religious people are constantly misrepresenting atheism, just as you have.

  34. Wow, what a way to generate blog traffic. You should bash atheists more often! (Just kidding). I am not a mind reader, so I cannot possibly know for a fact what your motivation for making this post was.. That’s one problem with internet debates, isn’t it? People start psycho-analyzing eachother, and think that a person’s motivations can be used to undermine their arguments. I think both sides are guilty of this. Out of curiosity, Max, what Theory of Truth do you hold to, if any?

  35. The Problem of Internet Atheists?

    Come on Max!

    You missed the forest for the trees.

    Dialogue.

    They arent ignoring you. And THATS GOOD!

    Ask yourself why most AvT fora have 2 or 3 dozen atheists all bombarding one or two visiting theist ”chew toys”

    These people are just as interested in God, the afterlife, the soul and the meaning of life as you are.

    If they werent, you would be ignored. And if they thought their counter-apologetics were winning the argument, they wouldnt ban you. They would be chasing you down the street saying come back, dont leave.

    http://www.rationalskepticism.org/download/file.php?avatar=g13_30812.jpg

  36. Having had countless hundreds of online encounters with Atheists the claims of this article are, to me, as undeniable as the laws of thermodynamics. So I will just say this: as bad as internet Atheists are, I would rather go against 20 Atheists than against one (1) militant Theistic Evolutionist. E.g., Richard Dawkins or Eugenie Scott are child’s play (and far more ‘honest’) compared to Kenneth Miller or Francis Collins. Vaya con Dios …

  37. We have similar concerns at Saints and Sceptics. The following articles attempt to get to explain what we call “McAtheism”:

    http://e-n.org.uk/p-4971-McAtheism.htm

    http://www.saintsandsceptics.org/the-mgonz-test/

    http://www.saintsandsceptics.org/860/

  38. I deal ever so often with Atheists and skeptics on the subject of the existence of God, Evolution, Science or faith.
    I recognize very quickly just what kind of person I am dealing with. Normally the best Atheists that come off sounding fair and reasonable get pretty silly by the third or fourth round of question/answers. With some it immediately jumps to plain ole immaturish jabs, others it degrades into steamrolling-multiquestion pushbacks with a terrible attitude. Then there are those who just shot their best shot at me and it fell to the ground. I assume that such a shot worked on other Christians that respond in like-kind jabbing and have little knowledge of the Atheist worldview.

    Then there are those who pretend to be the powerful Atheist answer-alls that eat Christians for lunch and spit out theists like used chew. I’ve had the opportunity to go a few round with several of them, all of which eventually succumbed to ad hom attacks, irrational argument, belligerent replies, self-promoting blow-hards who categorize themselves as ‘winners’ in all things logical. The irony cannot be more evident.

    Occasionally I do meet with a skeptic that is simply asking for a reasonable answer; I attempt to give that person the best answer I can. Even when they become frustrated or illogical, I dont push back, I attempt to help them understand my point of view. Its not that I have the best answers or muster the best explanation out there, but I realize that weak and failing arguments are glossed over with human defense posturing and the shutting down of the mind. The Atheist in general has done little homework to learn the Christian side of things and instead they have depended upon parroting their New-Atheist spokesperson or quoting the latest jab from some other atheist debate.

    Lastly the apostate, the supposed learned-atheist who has defected to the ‘logical’ side of the tracks and who believes the propaganda that the bible is errant are normally professional Christ-rejectors. Their arguments are in place as an auxiliary to deeper inward rejections that are not intellectual/evidential but emotional and emit the verbal scent of bitterness and hatred. Once I encounter the Apostate, I leave him to his chosen destiny.

  39. I’ve interacted with atheists online, and I don’t think I’ve ever had a time where it was anything other than them yelling, calling me names, deliberately misrepresenting what I’ve said and a complete unwillingness to engage in a rational, civil discussion.

  40. I agree 100 percent.
    What frightens me the most about atheists in general, is that they actually parrot each other, as if this is a game to them.

    It isnt though, those who mock God, are playing with fire, if you will, and its sad that they idol frauds like dawkins.

  41. Thanks for your marvelous posting! I genuinely enjoyed
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  42. About 12 hrs ago we had a back-and-forth on Twitter, Mr. Andrews. I re-read your post.

    I blocked my own sister (who is NOT an atheist) on Facebook about two months ago after she threatened legal action against my truthful replies to stuff she posted on MY timeline. What got her most upset were the SOLUTIONS I offered her, solutions I have seen work many times. While she got more and more provocative and vulgar, I continued to type calm frank replies, until she de-Friended me and threatened me as if I were doing “me and my family” great harm. A few days later, another one of my sisters sent me messages that she had had the same problem with the first sister and advised me to block her. That proved to be necessary. The second sister, who up until then was suspicious of my integrity, dropped all that after watching the whole thing. She and I have had a much better relationship since.

    When only problems are presented without any practical solutions, the most that can happen is a stirring of emotions such as we see perpetrated by the mainstream media today. Targeting one group or another as if the stated problems were basically inherent to THAT GROUP ONLY is even worse. Your statement of the problems is otherwise quite accurate. However, the lack of understandable, practical solutions degrades whatever positive effects may otherwise SEEM inherent in your info. I have never spoon fed my kids, and I won’t offer such to you. All most persons need is a nudge toward a possibly-existing solution to spark the search necessary for a find. The searching itself actually provides the bulk of the MEANING necessary to identify and understand the solution that’s found. Biggest problem: We get brainwashed by the school systems, TV, movies,etc. to the effect that there ARE NO SOLUTIONS. BUT THERE REALLY ARE ANSWERS!

    Nobody explores when they have been convinced that there is nothing to find.

  43. “I understand if someone keeps their identity anonymous because if their material were linked to them it would create a problem in the offline world. That’s understandable. However, I seriously doubt that’s the case with internet atheists.” Why not? You need to expound upon this, because for me, it’s a big thing. I always felt that was exactly the point. There is no place, anywhere, on earth, where you aren’t chastised for being Atheist–certainly not in America. (There are plenty of studies and surveys like this that prove it: http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/religion/story/2011-12-10/religion-atheism/51777612/1 ) It is the least trusted demographic in the world outside of maybe Czechoslovakia, which is an anomaly. You’re allowed to believe in anything, so long as you don’t apply at least some form of Cliffordian skepticism to your beliefs, and that’s nuts. The internet is all we have–because if we were to say we don’t believe, (usually in response to someone evangelizing) we’d effectively be committing social suicide in our communities. We have always had to keep it hidden. For most of us, the internet is the only avenue for discussion. We’ve been bombarded and attacked by theists forever–now we’re merely talking back.

  44. While there are certainly many atheists that fit the description given here, I have encountered innumerable theists who act in a similar way. I suspect that this may have something to do with my being atheist and your being Christian and, of course, we will all be guilty of a little confirmation bias. When an atheist sees a theist acting like an ass, he will often think “You see, theists being mean again”. He will to at least some extent put his being an ass down to his theism. When he sees and atheist acting the same way, he is liable to think “This guy is as ass.” He will view this guy as being an ass and the fact that he is atheist is simply incidental.
    I will grant that atheists tend to use more colourful language but I have never been particularly bother by this. A nasty, hateful comment in polite terms feels somehow less honest than a nasty hateful comment in nasty, hateful language. Still, if “bad” words offend you or you see them as counterproductive to a good discussion, that’s fair enough. I would reject that idea that if a position is aggressively or rudely put forth that it therefore must be an ill-researched or poorly thought out position. In other words, a person’s use of swearwords does not at all reflect their intelligence or level of education. I find it petty and tiresome when people assert that it does.
    I will further grant that atheists do have a tendency to be a bit smug. Although there is a huge helping of “we are better educated than those fly-by-night atheist know-nothings with their Google” on here. Smug goes both ways too. Some atheists are reactionary uneducated morons, some are thoughtful, highly educated and very smart. The exact same can be said of theists.
    PZ Meyers is appalling; you will get no argument from me there! He personifies the description you are giving of the self-important, arrogant, condescending atheist. I would say he is borderline vicious, well maybe not so borderline. He is thoroughly mocked by the sane portion of the atheist community who would rather he were not a part of the community at all. The members of his echo-chamber are really horrible to deal with. I sympathise with anyone, atheist or theist who has had the misfortune of being exposed to their vitriol, tedious memes and general smug vacuity. Anyone who doesn’t subscribe to their rarefied brand of social-justice/femin-atheism is likely to be treated to a large helping. He is an embarrassment in the eyes of many atheists. It is unfortunate that he still maintains a disturbing amount of influence in the atheist online/conference community but I think he is working diligently to marginalise himself. This said, the theist side of the divide has plenty of deeply unpleasant people too, though generally better funded. Pat Robertson is on TV. That is a worrying state of affairs in its own right. Both sides of the theist/atheist divide have their embarrassments.
    As an aside, I followed the link provided by Nick Peters to where Sam Harris has been “dealt with”. Right off the bat Harris is criticised as a poor researcher and is mocked for suggesting that we have been making moral progress. Crime in the developed nations has been in decline for decades. This is what research shows. Not a great start. PZ Meyers is someone I have no respect for principally because he so often misrepresents his opponent’s positions to make them sound as bad as possible. I see people doing this on both sides of the discussion and it achieves nothing apart from further entrenching people on their respective sides.

    On Google or Wikipedia: Personally I don’t care if any interlocutor of mine has just garnered their argument off the back of a cereal box. If the argument is good, it is good. If the statement is valid, it is valid.
    On Exegesis: I have often had to raise an eyebrow at how much people can pull from a text which I could not see even the remotest justification for.
    As an example of what I mean, I was recently in a discussion with two theists about proverbs 5 and 6. They were trying to get at the message of the text and they desperately wanted it to be a general moral argument against infidelity. They also did not want to read it as denigrating to women. They tried their best to read the text in the most generous way to extract the desired message but at every turn the text itself could be shown to be undoing their efforts. To be clear, the two gents in question are, I think, quite open-minded (in a general sense – though not where the bible is concerned), two thoroughly decent people with the very best of intentions. I have plenty of time for both of them and really enjoy such conversations. While I think it speaks very well of them that they sought a very positive and morally praise-worthy message in the text, I just don’t think it was really there. They could justify any message they wanted if they were willing to read the text in a very biased way. This is the issue I have with exegesis as generally practiced by theists. The theist is usually bound in a way that prevents genuine enquiry. If you start with the presupposition that a piece of text is wise or morally instructive, it is nearly impossible to see that it is really quite nasty by modern ethical standards (if it is so, of course, not all such text are). In other words, the theist ignores the possibility that the text really is horrible, morally indefensible and a product of harsher, less enlightened times. They often put themselves in the position “This message is good, it’s up to me to find the good message” or perhaps “If the text appears to be saying something bad, I must be reading it wrong”.

    I am not saying that theists in general are dishonest when it comes to biblical texts, though some undoubtedly are; I think they are hamstrung by their beliefs when it comes to objectively evaluating the text. That is to say they are being unobjective rather than dishonest. They are simply too biased. Most Christians have no problem interpreting the holy books of other faiths objectively; they just can’t do it with the bible. There may be some Christians who can, of course, but I am speaking generally and from ever single case in my experience. The two gents I mentioned earlier were honest enough to admit that their faith comes first. They will trust in the goodness of the bible over contrary evidence. I would argue that if they are wrong about the bible, or some part thereof, they have put themselves in a position that omits of correction.

    The upshot of all of this is that, in my experience, exegesis is usually an exercise in post-hoc justification, rather than a genuine, unbiased examination of the text. This is not to say that the interpretations of theists must be wrong. What am saying is that the theist is so likely to come to a predictable answer (i.e. the real message of the text is morally praise-worthy) that I find Christians to be the least credible interpreters of the bible. The same goes for Muslims and the Qur’an or Hindus and the Bhagavad Gita, etc.
    So as to the problem of internet atheists; I would be more inclined to say the problem of internet people. Apologies for the various asides and the length of the comment.

  45. How funny, I just wrote a similar piece on internet theists. It’s always a pleasant surprise (in a way) to discover a theist having the same problems. I’ve included the beginning of my rant below;

    Stupid or Smug; Insults, quotes and vagueness

    Ok so you’ve just read an article by a theist and you wish to have a serious debate about what they believe in. You want to ask questions of them to try and understand their viewpoint, to see how they’ve arrived at their set of beliefs. Here’s a tip, find a brick wall and start banging! It’ll be much less painful and far more enlightening.

    There are 2 types of response given by believers (typically corresponding to the 2 types of Christian); Aggressive replies (Literalist Christians) and Ethereal replies (Modernist Christians).

    Aggressive – A reply with no thought behind it but rather an outright attack on the other person e.g. ‘U stupid atheist dick! Your such a douche to say the bible is flawed, your flawed you prick, the bible is the word of god and the world should live by gods word. You will burn in hell you god damn atheist asshole!’ Or something as equally pleasant and constructive.

    Ethereal – A reply with loads of thought behind it but which avoids directly and succinctly answering your question instead pertaining towards vagueness e.g. ‘what do you believe god is?’, ‘John 2:12 The world was born of dust and as thus god shall be a flower born of the beauty and found by the wind’…cough, yeah thanks for that, you’ve really cleared that up!

    The point of the aggressive response is simply to try and batter their opponent into submission or to get a rise from them and force the ‘discussion’ onto their intellectual level; a primeval word slinging competition. It is a tactic favoured by idiots because it is the only tactic they have. After all how can you fight a brain and its relevant thoughts and articulate arguments when you’ve only been gifted with a walnut rattling around in your skull? They can’t and they don’t. Just don’t bother with these people, literalist Christians are beyond saving.

    The point of the ethereal response is that it is designed to do the precise opposite of the aggressive response; to convey superiority through intelligence. It is the tactic used by smug ‘intelligent’ modernist Christians to appear civilised, well-educated and well-read thus proving their argument right through appearing to have the highest intellect and widest repertoire of words and quotes…..yawn! I’ve always wondered what was so wrong with voicing their own opinion in their owns words?

    What they are actually doing with their endless unnecessary, quote ridden, paragraphs of text is throwing up a smoke screen of quotes from theologians, philosophers, poets, the bible etc. to try and confuse the atheist and deflect the discussion away from where they don’t want to be and towards where they do! ask a modernist Christian a yes or no question and I’ll be damned if you get a simple yes or no answer. But, why are those two simple words so hard for theists to utter?…

    there’s more, specifically dealing with ethereal responses in detail, but I shall leave it there. Just thought it interesting that both sides of the argument come up against the same barriers!

    • I can sum up your post against Theists with just one word: PROJECTION. I’ve debated Atheists on and off for decades and by changing a just few words I can easily make your diatribe fit an Atheist remarkably well.

      That said, I will concede that there are Theists that, unfortunately, do our cause far more harm than good. But both sides have those kinds of people (ignorant, pompous / lacking humility, less-than-honest, etc … etc.).

      However, one sees much, much more of those traits from Atheists than from Theists – not to mention the vulgarities that often stem from the Atheists. Sites such as ‘Infidels’ (if it still exists) illustrate this clearly and often.

      Of course, I expect nothing except denials and flaring in response to this post but, oh well … que sera, sera.

      • Quite the opposite, I agree wholeheartedly. Sorry, I should have said that also in the rest of the piece I address the fact that atheists do precisely the same thing; aggressive idiotic responses and overly thought prophetic drivel (in this case usually laced with overly complex science designed to make the non-scientist feel small and inferior)…I hate both.

        All I want to do is partake in incisive and constructive debate. Neither aggressive nor pompous individuals allow this to take place; both atheists and theists alike. I am a scientist but when I debate I deliberately don’t say things like ”The 567 AMP feature of the Pamniote is Progratasive, ha what a fool you are. Tombs in his 1999 work clearly shows that the gramin is suited to perform floujran functions’. It’s not needed to successfully debate religion and science.

        Both atheists and theists should write concisely, constructively and clearly at a level both can identify with and understand. Until that happens, constructive debates are going to be a real struggle to find.

        • Bravo – I could not agree with you more! Unfortunately, figuratively speaking one may count on one hand (and have fingers left over) those that voice and practice such an attitude.

        • Chris,

          As a Christian apologist myself, I do think there is time for aggressive, namely when I meet atheists who want to pontificate on issues they have not bothered to study and are seeking to destroy the faith system of some. I take that as serious and if they’ll go after me, they’ll go after those who won’t be able to defend themselves.

          I would also say that the kinds of atheists to also avoid are the ones that are pop atheists, such as the new atheists. Right now, I’m enjoying myself on Peter Boghossian’s Facebook page for instance, and the atheists there fall into that category. If I ever meet an atheist who recommends “The God Delusion”, I know not to take them seriously.

          • If somebody can’t defend what they believe in then they shouldn’t believe it and you shouldn’t protect them. If an atheist questions somebody’s belief system, which is not a crime I may add, and you jump down their throat with an aggressive response, what exactly has been achieved? We should not promote religion and belief as unquestionable; to do so to anything is dangerous and wrong, including science and atheism. All that I want as an atheist, and a human for that matter, is for questions to be answered…is that so hard! I do not seek to destroy their belief, I seek to understand it, if their answers to my questions are flawed I will indeed question the result i.e. their beliefs. As should they and as will I if flaws are found in my beliefs.

            I have been called a ‘pop-atheist’, ‘new-atheist’ and ‘neo-atheist’ and I’m still not quite sure what this means? It’s seems to be a derogatory term which actually means very little.

            Do I recommend the ‘God Delusion’ absolutely; it concisely and efficiently debunks many of the common theistic arguments and beliefs. Just because something is popular doesn’t mean it’s bad…that’s the sort of thought process that leads teenagers to don fishnets and poke metal in their face! It’s the same argument everyone gives against using Google or wiki or any number of resources. Is it so hard to not judge the source of an argument but instead judge the strength of the argument itself? Who care’s where a good idea comes from; if it’s good then it’s good. To think otherwise is just literary snobbery (as discussed in my first post under ethereal responses). For instance I haven’t read Kierkegaard, but I’m sure if he’s relevant to any of my discussions I will consider his points, which thanks to the internet are widely accessible. I don’t need to read it in its original text to then process that information and decide for myself it its good and true. We should all do the same; look at a piece of work, an argument, a point, and decide for ourselves (regardless of its source) if it is valid.

            Do I constantly quote Dawkins, no I don’t, but that’s because I just provide arguments. I don’t worry about where they came from, how cool they are, how smart I’ll look, I worry about whether or not they’re relevant and true. Snobbishness has no place in constructive debate; it should be left on the schoolyard!

          • What have I accomplished? Dealing with an intellectual bully. For a Christian, this is about the Kingdom of God and internet atheists are helping to keep people away from that Kingdom.

            As for the God Delusion, it is a travesty. Dawkins should stick to writing such as in “The Blind Watchmaker.” I have a hard time as I said taking anyone seriously who thinks such a work can somehow make a dent in real opposition. If Dawkins thinks it is, then he is going after low-hanging fruit.

            Besides, he even says in there a case can be made that Jesus never even existed, something that is a joke in NT scholarship.

  46. But an atheist ‘bully’ would just turn that argument around and say that you are keeping people away from the truth, that there is no kingdom of god. The irony is that they would be calling you a theist ‘bully’ and you’d both be as bad as each other. It achieves nothing.

    Will The God Delusion make a massive dent in the opposition? Probably not. The arguments it covers are mostly those given by literalist Christians, old arguments long forgotten by theists who are accepting of logic and reason. However, these arguments are still widely given because literalist Christians still exist (notably in America), as such it is good practice for an atheist to be familiar with them. Although, I should say that arguing with literalist Christians is ultimately pointless as they simply won’t be budged. It’s like trying to convince a rock that thinks it’s a bird that it’s actually a rock…it doesn’t think so don’t bother. The God Delusion is simply a useful collection of common arguments for and against theism. It’s not pretending to be the atheist bible!

    As for Jesus; did a man called Jesus exist? I would have to say yes, was he the son of God? I can’t say because there is no evidence beyond a man simply being called Jesus. What I can say for sure though is that the mere fact a man called Jesus existed does not de facto prove he was the son of God. Is Jesus Navas (the Footballer) the reincarnation of God just because his name is Jesus? Maybe, maybe not, we need more evidence to say one way or the other.

    • Chris: But an atheist ‘bully’ would just turn that argument around and say that you are keeping people away from the truth, that there is no kingdom of god. The irony is that they would be calling you a theist ‘bully’ and you’d both be as bad as each other. It achieves nothing.

      Reply: The difference is the atheists that I encounter speak on topics they know nothing about. If I meet an atheist who actually knows what I really believe and can represent Christianity and go to sound scholarship, he has my respect. If he’s out there not doing research and just spouting off whatever he hears, he won’t get it. Here’s another important difference. I’d treat a Christian the same way. I don’t put up with Christians making claims where they have no authority and no research as well.

      Chris: Will The God Delusion make a massive dent in the opposition? Probably not. The arguments it covers are mostly those given by literalist Christians, old arguments long forgotten by theists who are accepting of logic and reason. However, these arguments are still widely given because literalist Christians still exist (notably in America), as such it is good practice for an atheist to be familiar with them. Although, I should say that arguing with literalist Christians is ultimately pointless as they simply won’t be budged. It’s like trying to convince a rock that thinks it’s a bird that it’s actually a rock…it doesn’t think so don’t bother. The God Delusion is simply a useful collection of common arguments for and against theism. It’s not pretending to be the atheist bible!

      Reply: So in other words, the book meant to show God is a delusion and kind of Dawkins’s great statement only works on low-hanging fruit? Is that where the movement should be? The one seen as atheism’s #1 authority can only tackle low-hanging fruit?

      Dawkins is indeed an intellectual bully. I’m a Thomist and I look at his treatment of the five ways and see it as absolutely abysmal. Dawkins does no service to Christians naturally, but he also does none to atheists as well. He in fact lowers the intellectual standards with how bad his argumentation is.

      Chris: As for Jesus; did a man called Jesus exist? I would have to say yes, was he the son of God? I can’t say because there is no evidence beyond a man simply being called Jesus. What I can say for sure though is that the mere fact a man called Jesus existed does not de facto prove he was the son of God. Is Jesus Navas (the Footballer) the reincarnation of God just because his name is Jesus? Maybe, maybe not, we need more evidence to say one way or the other.

      Reply: At least you’re not a Christ-myther. The atheist movement should not be taken seriously as long as so many hold to the idea that Jesus never even existed, which is a joke. It’s fair enough if you don’t think He was the Son of God. That’s fine. So I’ll just ask “Who was He?”

      • We cannot all be experts in all aspects of knowledge, that is being unreasonable. I agree it is difficult to argue about something you have little or no knowledge of. However, I have found that even with very little knowledge of a subject it is possible to counter an expert in a field by simply applying logic and reason. Would you reserve the right for only the world’s most scholarly atheist and theist to participate in debates? If so then what are we doing here? I’m sure as hell not the most scholarly atheist and I’m willing to bet your not the most scholarly theist. By your very own logic you yourself shouldn’t be commenting here! I think everyone has a right to have their say, if what they say is right or wrong is not determined by their scholarly credentials. Truth is truth, wherever it is found; a child, Google, an idiot, a genius…in matters not!

        As for the God Delusion it is a good ‘entry level’ text for atheism. To discard it is like saying ‘don’t bother with the bible’ head straight to reading theological texts. It is good practice to start with the basics, at the bottom, and work your way up. It is not the be all and end all, but it is useful. As said it also deal with the fundamentals of theism and if you want to topple a tree you don’t trim it’s leaves.

        I would have to correct you and say I am in fact a Christ-myther, but I am not a Jesus-myther. To look in to history and find names, such as Jesus or Santa Clause, does not de facto link these people with their modern name sakes. It is simple logic. ‘Who was he?’ you ask, he was a man called Jesus. To expect me to provide any more details about a man and his life from 2000 years ago based purely on a first name is a little unrealistic.

        • “Truth is truth, wherever it is found; a child, Google, an idiot, a genius…in matters not!”

          No argument from me on that. However, TRUTH is truth … truth is not what a certain person may *believe* is truth. That is true for everyone – yes, including Atheists.

          “As for the God Delusion it is a good ‘entry level’ text for atheism … It is good practice to start with the basics, at the bottom, and work your way up. It is not the be all and end all, but it is useful. As said it also deal with the fundamentals of theism and if you want to topple a tree you don’t trim it’s leaves.”

          Being as chock-full of errors and misrepresentations as The God Delusion is, it isn’t a good text / source for anyone at any level. God Delusion is good for only two things: (1) to feed the ignorance and prejudices of Atheists and Atheist -wannabes and, (2) for landfill material. [By the way, I own a copy so I know this for first-hand experience].

          “I would have to correct you and say I am in fact a Christ-myther, but I am not a Jesus-myther. To look in to history and find names, such as Jesus or Santa Clause, does not de facto link these people with their modern name sakes. It is simple logic. ‘Who was he?’ you ask, he was a man called Jesus. To expect me to provide any more details about a man and his life from 2000 years ago based purely on a first name is a little unrealistic.”

          See what I mean – you’re a reader of The God Delusion, right? At this point in history – with the thousands of resources available on and off the internet – anyone claiming to be a “Christ-myther” (or a “Jesus-myther”) is simply either as ignorant of the facts as the day is long or could stand to be more intellectually honest. The God Delusion is like tossing gasoline into an open flame for both of those positions.

        • Chris: We cannot all be experts in all aspects of knowledge, that is being unreasonable.

          Reply: It would also be unreasonable if I had asked that. I had simply asked people to not speak on topics they do not do proper research on. For instance, if you don’t read Biblical scholarship, don’t try to be an authority on what the Bible teaches. If you don’t read scientific scholarship, don’t argue for or against evolution. If you don’t read the philosophers, don’t talk about metaphysics. That’s my approach. My emphasis is the resurrection and the Thomistic arguments. So what about evolution? Don’t have an answer because I couldn’t make a case for or against scientifically, so I’m more than happy to not say anything.

          Chris: I agree it is difficult to argue about something you have little or no knowledge of.

          Reply: It is also irresponsible.

          Chris: However, I have found that even with very little knowledge of a subject it is possible to counter an expert in a field by simply applying logic and reason. Would you reserve the right for only the world’s most scholarly atheist and theist to participate in debates?

          Reply: Professional debates? Yes. Not everyone deserves to have a chance to debate William Lane Craig or Bart Ehrman. For our purposes, while it is not a scholarly debate, we should be seeking to bring forward the best to our position. You might think you’ve shown someone in a field to be foolish, but more often than not, I find those without knowledge follow the Biblical principle of “Proclaiming themselves to be wise, they became fools.”

          Chris: If so then what are we doing here? I’m sure as hell not the most scholarly atheist and I’m willing to bet your not the most scholarly theist. By your very own logic you yourself shouldn’t be commenting here!

          Reply: Except I said one should seek to be familiar with the scholarly literature on the topic. if I debate someone on the Bible and they have not read any scholars on the topic, why I should I take their opinion seriously when I have read the scholars on the topic? Why should they in any sense consider their opinion as having authority?

          Chris: I think everyone has a right to have their say, if what they say is right or wrong is not determined by their scholarly credentials. Truth is truth, wherever it is found; a child, Google, an idiot, a genius…in matters not!

          Reply: Sure, but not everyone has the right to be treated like an authority. All things being equal, let’s suppose I have a Bible scholar. You don’t know if he’s Christian or atheist or what, but you know he has a PH.D. in New Testament and several peer-reviewed articles and teaches at a credentialed university. On a prima facie case, whose opinion deserves more credibility in the field? His or some teenage atheist on YouTube? Or heck, his or a Christian on YouTube with no credentials?

          Chris: As for the God Delusion it is a good ‘entry level’ text for atheism. To discard it is like saying ‘don’t bother with the bible’ head straight to reading theological texts.

          Reply: Bad analogy. Religion and philosophy both start off with foundational material that their schools of thought are founded on as Kuhn pointed out in the Structure of Scientific Revolutions. If you want to be a good Platonist, you need to read Plato himself. You also need to read Augustine. If you want to be a good physicist, you can read Newton, but there is never a necessity to. You can simply read the latest journals. If you want to understand the Bible, you have to have the foundational text. If you want to understand atheism, try reading some of the older atheists like Flew, Mackie, and Oppy. The new atheists are an embarrassment that are an insult to atheism.

          Chris: It is good practice to start with the basics, at the bottom, and work your way up. It is not the be all and end all, but it is useful. As said it also deal with the fundamentals of theism and if you want to topple a tree you don’t trim it’s leaves.

          Reply: No. It does not. The foundations of theism are not literalism. It deals with an off-shoot that is not representative of the root all the while thinking that it is. You will find better responses to theism in the older atheists.

          Chris: I would have to correct you and say I am in fact a Christ-myther, but I am not a Jesus-myther. To look in to history and find names, such as Jesus or Santa Clause, does not de facto link these people with their modern name sakes. It is simple logic. ‘Who was he?’ you ask, he was a man called Jesus. To expect me to provide any more details about a man and his life from 2000 years ago based purely on a first name is a little unrealistic.

          Reply: Christ-myth refers to people who think there is no person historically behind the Gospels in any sense whatsoever. It is a fine position to say that there was a historical Jesus, but He never saw Himself as the Messiah and His followers added that in later. I think it’s wrong, but at least it’s within the realm of scholarly discussion. To say that there is no historical figure whatsoever behind the Gospels is to say one holds to a position not considered at all serious by scholars in the field. It is a joke on the level of denying the holocaust or saying that the Earth is flat.

  47. Your keyword seems to be ‘authority’, again I shall say that truth is truth, from whomever’s mouth it may come from. Other than that you seem to focus on hating Dawkins, specifically The God Delusion. That’s fine, it’s your prerogative to do so. All I’m saying is that the source of somebody’s knowledge doesn’t matter, if an atheist is using arguments from Dawkins and those arguments are true then the other perceived flaws in the book don’t matter. Again, truth is truth.

    Elitism has no place in arguments. Here’s a question any atheist with any level of knowledge can ask of theists, no matter how much ‘authority’ they may have; Why is your God/belief any more valid than any other with equal evidence in support of it?

    This is just an example to illustrate my point that it is not knowledge that is the greatest ‘weapon’ against religion, it’s logic and reason. No matter the deep theological debates that may swirl around online the point is why is God the Christian god, why is the Christian God the right God and everyone else is crazy? You don’t need authority to be logical and that is all you need to have a constructive debate.

    • Great response Chris Robson. I can’t agree more. thank you.

    • Chris: Your keyword seems to be ‘authority’, again I shall say that truth is truth, from whomever’s mouth it may come from.

      Reply: The issue is not so much authority as credibility. In our modern age, everyone thinks they’re an authority by virtue of having an opinion. Atheists can think that since they’re supposedly the party of reason, that they’re obviously logically reaching their conclusions, which sadly means they can also believe anything that goes along with their conclusion. (Jesus was based on Mithras for instance, despite no Mithraic scholar thinking such a thing.) In reality, the best authorities in the field are those who have done the necessary homework. We insult them when we do not consult them and we insult ourselves in thinking that we are just as credible without doing research and we insult our listeners when we cheat them out of the best research.

      Chris: Other than that you seem to focus on hating Dawkins, specifically The God Delusion.

      Reply: I really get puzzled at the way the word “hate” is used today. I can disagree with someone up and down and still not hate the person. I believe it’s William Provine and Philip Johnson who debate evolution regularly and yet, from last I heard, they’re really good friends and after debates will go out and have a drink together.

      Chris: That’s fine, it’s your prerogative to do so. All I’m saying is that the source of somebody’s knowledge doesn’t matter, if an atheist is using arguments from Dawkins and those arguments are true then the other perceived flaws in the book don’t matter. Again, truth is truth.

      Reply: First off, Dawkins’s arguments are not true. They’re hideous straw men that scholars in the field would not accept.

      Second, Dawkins is not an authority in this field and if he gets it right, it’s a happy accident. Sources on the contrary do matter. Go to a college class and try to write a paper using Wikipedia as your source. It won’t be accepted. Yet Wikipedia is a favorite source to use today. In a debate, I never accept a claim that is based on a Wikipedia article. Never. If it’s true, you can find it in scholarly literature.

      Chris: Elitism has no place in arguments. Here’s a question any atheist with any level of knowledge can ask of theists, no matter how much ‘authority’ they may have; Why is your God/belief any more valid than any other with equal evidence in support of it?

      Reply: Okay. Sure. Show me a claim by another religion that God has acted in a historical matter that has as much evidence as the resurrection of Jesus and we’ll discuss it. As for theism alone, I would have no problem saying that the theistic arguments I use could be used by deists, Jews, Muslims, or general theists. That’s not a problem. All I argue with theism is that it is a necessary but not sufficient condition for Christian theism.

      Chris: This is just an example to illustrate my point that it is not knowledge that is the greatest ‘weapon’ against religion, it’s logic and reason. No matter the deep theological debates that may swirl around online the point is why is God the Christian god, why is the Christian God the right God and everyone else is crazy? You don’t need authority to be logical and that is all you need to have a constructive debate.

      Reply: Ah yes. Here comes the claim of logic and reason, as if the other side doesn’t use it. This is amusing after being told elitism has no place. Okay. Here’s why the Christian story is the right one. Jesus rose from the dead and that can be historically shown to be the most probable explanation of the data surrounding the life of Jesus.

      Now if you have a better explanation, feel free to show it, but it must be shown by using the best scholarship in the field and not just your own authority. You don’t automatically know history or NT interpretation simply by being an atheist. You know it by research.

      • At least we agree that theistic arguments are pointless when used for an individual religion; because they can apply to any religion. Thus, we can delve in to the crux of the matter; why you believe your religion is right. You give this a simple answer, greater historical evidence. ”Show me a claim by another religion that God has acted in a historical matter that has as much evidence as the resurrection of Jesus and we’ll discuss it.” I’m interested to hear this historical evidence. That’s not an accusation either, I’m genuinely interested. I shall then consider my stance.

        p.s. thanks hugely for answering the ‘why is your religion more valid’ question. You wouldn’t believe the number of people that just flat-out won’t answer. All I want is to understand.

        • It’s a simple fact that one cannot prove Christianity by using philosophy alone. You will never sit down in an armchair, just reason, and say “Why that proves it! Jesus rose from the dead!” You will need some evidence to reason on.

          My belief in the resurrection rests on several legs.

          First, it is an indisputable fact that Jesus was crucified.

          “The fact of the death of Jesus as a consequence of crucifixion is indisputable, despite hypotheses of a pseudo-death or a deception which are sometimes put forward. It need not be discussed further here.” (Gerd Ludemann. .”What Really Happened To Jesus?” Page 17.)

          Christians who wanted to proclaim Jesus as messiah would not have invented the notion that he was crucified because his crucifixion created such a scandal. Indeed, the apostle Paul calls it the chief “stumbling block” for Jews (1 Cor. 1:23). Where did the tradition come from? It must have actually happened. (Bart Ehrman, The New Testament: A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings. Third Edition. pages 221-222)

          Jesus was executed by crucifixion, which was a common method of torture and execution used by the Romans. (Dale Martin, New Testament History and Literature. Page 181)

          That Jesus was executed because he or someone else was claiming that he was the king of the Jews seems to be historically accurate. (ibid. 186)

          Jesus’ execution is as historically certain as any ancient event can ever be but what about all those very specific details that fill out the story? (John Dominic Crossan http://www.huffingtonpost.com/john-d…_b_847504.html)

          Keep in mind, none of these scholars are Christians. Some would call themselves Christians, but by Christian, I mean someone who holds to the deity of Christ, Trinity, and bodily resurrection of Jesus from the dead.

          This as Ehrman says would not be made up. It was a fact of great shame. This would be like claiming the Catholic Church wanted to make up a Pope figure who was a homosexual pedophile at one point.

          SEcond, the tomb was found empty.

          This does not have as much historical support amongst scholars, but there are a large number who will grant it. Dale Allison has reviewed the evidence on both sides and thinks the evidence leads stronger in the idea of the empty tomb. I see it as simply evident since if the tomb was not empty, Christianity would not have got started.

          The appearances are next. The disciples claimed to have seen the resurrected Christ. Our earliest statement of this is in 1 Cor. 15:3-7 and the material in this passage dates to within 5 years of the event, a blip in ancient history.

          “The only thing that we can certainly say to be historical is that there were resurrection appearances in Galilee (and in Jerusalem) soon after Jesus’s death. These appearances cannot be denied” (Gerd Ludemann. .”What Really Happened To Jesus?” p. 81)

          “We can say with complete certainty that some of his disciples at some later time insisted that . . . he soon appeared to them, convincing them that he had been raised from the dead.” (Bart Ehrman, Jesus: Apocalyptic Prophet of the New Millennium, pg 230).

          “That Jesus’ followers (and later Paul) had resurrection experiences is, in my judgment, a fact. What the reality was that gave rise to the experiences I do not know.” (E.P. Sanders, The Historical Figure of Jesus, pg 280)

          “That the experiences did occur, even if they are explained in purely natural terms, is a fact upon which both believer and unbeliever can agree.” (Reginald H. Fuller, Foundations of New Testament Christology, 142)

          Next, the conversion of James and Paul. James was Jesus’s brother who did not think Jesus was the Messiah before the crucifixion, but afterwards did. Why have the sudden shift? Second, Paul was an ardent opponent of Christianity, why did he switch?

          Next piece of evidence is that Christianity should not have survived. It was in an agonistic society where honor and shame were the reigning priorities and Christianity was an incredibly shameful belief. How so?

          They had a Messiah who was crucified. No one would take that seriously. Especially since being a follower of Christ meant you were to identify with him and make a crucified criminal your identity. To the Gentiles, Jesus was a traitor to Rome. To the Jews, Jesus was under the curse of YHWH. Neither group would want to identify with Him.

          Jesus’s followers taught resurrection. If the ancient world had an OT, it was Homer, and Homer was clear. Resurrection doesn’t happen. If the idea was mentioned, it was in mockery. The body was a prison to escape, not something you wanted to return to and live in forever.

          The faith was exclusivistic. Christians denied the existence of the Roman gods. Other systems like Mithraism could be allowed if they would include the Roman gods in the system or allow themselves to be absorbed into the pantheon. Christianity refused to treat Jesus as just another deity. He was the supreme one for them. This set them apart from the Roman empire and would make them be seen as deviant.

          Christianity was new. Novelty was not accepted in the ancient world. New ideas were looked at with suspicion. The Jews, for instance, did not worship the emperor, but were given a pass because their religion was old and they agreed to pray for the emperor.

          Christianity came from a shameful locale. It came from Israel, a kind of backwater area, and from there, the Messiah was born in Nazareth. As Nathaniel asked “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” His opinion would not be a lone one in his day.

          Christianity was not seen as tolerant. It claimed that all other religions were false. It would not submit to being one of many. It claimed that it and it alone was true.

          Why would people become Christians then? (And our indication from scholars like Meeks is that they were coming from the middle and upper-class, the ones who had the ability best to investigate the claims) Only one reason. It was true.

      • //You don’t automatically know history or NT interpretation simply by being an atheist. You know it by research.//

        Nick, this is where reason and logic stump you erudition.
        Why?

        Because your knowledge is as good as your sources of trust.
        And on that, we all fail to claim epistemic certitude, because all we can do is trust our preferred references.

        Your arguments fall as flat for us as ours fall flat for you. Period.

        Your can kick and scream that you have absolute proof of Jesus miraculous existence, but you actually don’t.
        All you have is the conviction from arguments you believe to be true. Your evidence in s not empirical, as it cannot be.

        I have much respect for theists that step down from their superior complex and admit that all of it is Faith.

        Because guess what? For every elitist response, you will find a no less elitist counter-response to your argument.

        Bottom line, Jesus himself made his message clear and for the crowds. Simplifying Truth is the hardest thing to do.
        Make no mistake, Chris is right. Nothing is more precious than logic and reason, also evidence. We can do your homework all you want — if it doesn’t make sense in the grand scheme of things, it is worthless.

        BTW, I was a Christian and Bible teacher and student for almost all my life. Atheism was NOT a choice, it went against all I invested in, my bias, and the reputation I had with my peers. Atheism was a conclusion based on reason.

        • Vincent: Nick, this is where reason and logic stump you erudition.
          Why?

          Because your knowledge is as good as your sources of trust.

          Reply: And my sources are leading scholars in the field and not Christian scholars always. In fact, on the crucifixion, I named not one Christian scholar.

          Vincent: And on that, we all fail to claim epistemic certitude, because all we can do is trust our preferred references.

          REply: Do you have certitude of that? If so, it is self-refuting? If not, there is no reason to take it seriously.

          Vincent: Your arguments fall as flat for us as ours fall flat for you. Period.

          REply: The only difference is I’ve supplied data from the leading scholars. If you want to make an argument, supply some data. Get some scholarly work out there.

          Vincent: Your can kick and scream that you have absolute proof of Jesus miraculous existence, but you actually don’t.

          Reply: There’s no need to kick and scream. I just point to scholarship. If you want to say every peer-reviewed credentialed scholar in the field is wrong well you’d better bring some serious evidence to the forefront.

          Vincent: All you have is the conviction from arguments you believe to be true. Your evidence in s not empirical, as it cannot be.

          Reply: That’s funny because I’m a Thomist and Thomists hold that all knowledge begins with sense experience which is, what’s that word, oh yes? Empirical!

          Vincent: I have much respect for theists that step down from their superior complex and admit that all of it is Faith.

          Reply: Well I guess it’s a good thing I’m not out for your respect. I’m out for truth. Sorry, but I don’t buy into a bogus definition of faith redefined by postmodern new atheists who can’t bother getting out a Lexicon and doing research into a Greek word.

          Vincent: Because guess what? For every elitist response, you will find a no less elitist counter-response to your argument.

          Reply: I hope you’ll be providing such a response soon. I see no works of scholarship here. I just see assertions.

          Vincent: Bottom line, Jesus himself made his message clear and for the crowds. Simplifying Truth is the hardest thing to do.

          Reply: Really? You ever read the NT? His message was hardly clear much of the time to the people. That’s why he said he spoke in parables.

          Vincent: Make no mistake, Chris is right. Nothing is more precious than logic and reason, also evidence. We can do your homework all you want — if it doesn’t make sense in the grand scheme of things, it is worthless.

          Reply: For all this talk about how great these things are, it’d be nice to see you presenting some.

          Vincent: BTW, I was a Christian and Bible teacher and student for almost all my life. Atheism was NOT a choice, it went against all I invested in, my bias, and the reputation I had with my peers. Atheism was a conclusion based on reason.

          REply: Ah yes. Another deconversion story. I suspect you probably used your testimony in your Christian days. Does it somehow work better when you make a testimony from the other side?

          Well, no.

          • You have much pride in the scholarship of your sources.

            But you are only pointing to other’s philosophy or knowledge. Nothing more.
            You ask me to imitate your arguments from scholars, but you are totally missing the point.

            Logic. Reason. Evidence.

            You call yourself a Thomist. That’s fine. But St. Thomas Aquinas claimed that truth should be accepted wherever is lays — but did he practice this himself?

            No.

            I strongly agree with Bertrand Russell on his critique of Aquinas.
            “[Aquinas] is not engaged in an inquiry, the result of which it is impossible to know in advance. Before he begins to philosophize, he already knows the truth; it is declared in the Catholic faith.”

            As a Thomist yourself, you follow that same reasoning, and this is why Chris and I call on reason, instead of Scholarly pomp, which is often special pleading on any given subject.

            I would invite you to read Russell’s full arguments on this. But I suppose you have already dismissed it.

            You rather base your convictions on St. Thomas who used the knowledge of the those before him, like Aristotle. This was the premises of his flawed views of the Universe. Modern science was far away still; the discoveries of DesCartes, Newton, Bacon, Einstein and more modern thinkers where not made yet.
            As time gave us more discoveries, the Five Ways of St. Thomas Aquinas became the object of dispute, based on some basic fallacies his philosophy was grounded on.

            His syllogisms are, like Russell argued, are based on faulty premises.

            You bias is showing in this discussion — mine too obviously. But you are trying to back yours up with the illusion that your scholars are right, as if that gives you some sort of edge on us simple thinkers.

            I dispute your claim that your knowledge is based on correct references.
            Check out the scholars I have presented here. They contradict your scholars.

            And in my view, they contradict them with logic, reason, and evidence.

        • “I have much respect for theists that step down from their superior complex and admit that all of it is Faith.”
          ****************************************************
          I wouldn’t have “respect”, I’d have *pity* concerning their level of ignorance. First of all, no knowledgeable Christian would have a “superior complex” (as you call it) because we know that we are saved by GRACE, not because we are worthy of salvation. Feeling “superior” is the *last* thing that any Christian ought to feel.

          ***************************************
          “BTW, I was a Christian and Bible teacher and student for almost all my life. Atheism was NOT a choice, it went against all I invested in, my bias, and the reputation I had with my peers. Atheism was a conclusion based on reason.”
          ***************************************
          Perhaps that story works well on yourself and on your friends and family, but it won’t work at all on certain people (count me as one of those.).

          I wouldn’t argue with you the claim that “Atheism is based on reason”. I would, however, definitely argue against the claim that Atheism is based on sound, honest and fact-based reasoning. In fact, to become an Atheist demands that the person performs / practices one or more of the following: (1) heavily biased interpretation of observations; (2) choosing with extreme prejudice the data to accept and data to reject; (3) logical fallacies; (4) intellectual dishonesty; and/or (5) willful ignorance.

          The *only* perfectly logical and perfectly honest conclusion based on everything that we know is this: the Triune God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is the One and only God.

          • ”The *only* perfectly logical and perfectly honest conclusion based on everything that we know is this: the Triune God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is the One and only God.”

            I honestly don’t know where to begin, so I shan’t. See Literalist Christians in my original post!

          • Chris Robson:

            You say you don’t know where to begin. Well, I do.
            All I have to do is restate my previous post:

            I wouldn’t argue with you the claim that “Atheism is based on reason”. I would, however, definitely argue against the claim that Atheism is based on sound, honest and fact-based reasoning. In fact, to become an Atheist demands that the person performs / practices one or more of the following: (1) heavily biased interpretation of observations; (2) choosing with extreme prejudice the data to accept and data to reject; (3) logical fallacies; (4) intellectual dishonesty; and/or (5) willful ignorance.

            The *only* perfectly logical and perfectly honest conclusion based on everything that we know is this: the Triune God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is the One and only God.

  48. //First, it is an indisputable fact that Jesus was crucified.//

    I rest my case.

    • Sorry for the typos. Busy day… rushed answer.

      Bottom line, referring to scholars is no guarantee of truth.
      Scholars used to discuss alchemy — seriously. So you see, you can do a lot of homework on wrong references.

      Its useful to keep up with what we know thru experience, science, and whatever our evolution fine-tunes us for. We are progressing to some extent, like slavery, woman’s rights, child labor… but we still have ways to go.

      Treating us atheist like we are dumb is the best way to show your real character.
      One day Religion will crash and burn…. and the superstitions that cripple our progress will finally die.

      What we will have left is pure spirituality, as we are one with Nature.

      Not there yet though… obviously.

      • Vincent: You have much pride in the scholarship of your sources.

        Reply: Yep! I happen to think that people who pass peer-review and have PH.D.’s in the field are quite likely to know something about it.

        VIncent: But you are only pointing to other’s philosophy or knowledge. Nothing more.

        Reply: Nope. I am pointing to the knowledge of valid authorities in the field.

        Vincent: You ask me to imitate your arguments from scholars, but you are totally missing the point.

        Logic. Reason. Evidence.

        Reply: Because appealing to scholarship is certainly not going to evidence!

        VIncent: You call yourself a Thomist. That’s fine. But St. Thomas Aquinas claimed that truth should be accepted wherever is lays — but did he practice this himself?

        No.

        Reply: It’s a good assertion, but you need a real argument for it. Not what follows.

        Vincent: I strongly agree with Bertrand Russell on his critique of Aquinas.
        “[Aquinas] is not engaged in an inquiry, the result of which it is impossible to know in advance. Before he begins to philosophize, he already knows the truth; it is declared in the Catholic faith.”

        Reply: Confirmation bias is a still trotted out idea to discount a bad idea. Here’s the real deal. Aquinas presented an argument. They’re the five ways. They are either true or false and the arguments stand or fall on how they work out. What you need to do is show a flaw in the argument. You don’t just say “Well he was biased.” Everyone’s biased. So what?

        Vincent: As a Thomist yourself, you follow that same reasoning, and this is why Chris and I call on reason, instead of Scholarly pomp, which is often special pleading on any given subject.

        Reply: It reveals a lot when appeals to scholarship is seen as special pleading. It’s quite convenient that this doesn’t seem apply to Russell, who one could just as easily say decided atheism before examining the theistic arguments.

        Vincent: I would invite you to read Russell’s full arguments on this. But I suppose you have already dismissed it.

        Reply: Actually, no. I read Russell years ago. I have right here on my shelves a copy of his “Why I Am Not A Christian.”

        Vincent: You rather base your convictions on St. Thomas who used the knowledge of the those before him, like Aristotle.

        Reply: Yep. THat’s called humility. It’s admitting that people who came before you actually knew stuff.

        Vincent: This was the premises of his flawed views of the Universe. Modern science was far away still; the discoveries of DesCartes, Newton, Bacon, Einstein and more modern thinkers where not made yet.

        Reply: Of course, this is just scholarly pomp and special pleading. But let’s look at this list. What’s interesting about it? Three of them were Christians. (though I use the term loosely for Newton as I believe he was an Arian.)

        Vincent: As time gave us more discoveries, the Five Ways of St. Thomas Aquinas became the object of dispute, based on some basic fallacies his philosophy was grounded on.

        Reply: Oh well start with the first one please and do show the metaphysical flaw that Aquinas made.

        Vincent: His syllogisms are, like Russell argued, are based on faulty premises.

        Reply: I find it strange you think you can just make a statement like this and expect me to just buy into it. No. I need evidence. Give an argument.

        Vincent: You bias is showing in this discussion — mine too obviously. But you are trying to back yours up with the illusion that your scholars are right, as if that gives you some sort of edge on us simple thinkers.

        Reply: It’s anyone else’s choice how they wish to think. If they want to avoid scholarship and claim they know better, let them. That’s pride showing then as well. I’ve presented scholars to support my view that are non-Christian in fact. Why on Earth would they say Jesus was crucified unless they really believed he was, and why would they believe it unless there was good evidence for it?

        Vincent: I dispute your claim that your knowledge is based on correct references.

        Reply: Well sure. If you don’t think scholars are a good route to go to to learn history, then please present a better source. I hope it’s not Wikipedia.

        Vincent: Check out the scholars I have presented here. They contradict your scholars.

        Reply: Which ones? Which scholar do you cite to back the claim that Jesus was not crucified? Which claim of that sort has passed peer-review?

        Vincent: And in my view, they contradict them with logic, reason, and evidence.

        Reply: And another claim that is just unbacked. Atheistic presuppositionalism at its finest.

        Vincent: Bottom line, referring to scholars is no guarantee of truth.

        Reply: Guarantee? No. Lends more credibility? Yes.

        Vincent: Scholars used to discuss alchemy — seriously. So you see, you can do a lot of homework on wrong references.

        Reply: And your scholarly sources on this since this is a historical claim? The church was actually quite skeptical of alchemy and astrology. They allowed them, but they did not get behind them full throttle. Still, the alchemy did lead to our modern chemistry today.

        Vincent: Its useful to keep up with what we know thru experience, science, and whatever our evolution fine-tunes us for. We are progressing to some extent, like slavery, woman’s rights, child labor… but we still have ways to go.

        Reply: Why yes. We’re progressing so much we have child pornography, murder children in the womb, have a high rate of STD’s, and are quite capable of blowing ourselves up several times over.

        Vincent: Treating us atheist like we are dumb is the best way to show your real character.

        Reply: People are not dumb by virtue of being atheists. It’s how they make their case and the sources that they use. There are just as many Christians who I have a problem with.

        Vincent: One day Religion will crash and burn…. and the superstitions that cripple our progress will finally die.

        Reply: As has been said how many times before in history?

        Vincent: What we will have left is pure spirituality, as we are one with Nature.

        Not there yet though… obviously.

        Reply: And what about those people who you do not deem to be one with nature?

  49. @Vincent

    You say “Bottom line, referring to scholars is no guarantee of truth.
    Scholars used to discuss alchemy — seriously. So you see, you can do a lot of homework on wrong references.”

    Ah so in other words:

    There used to be scholars who discussed alchemy, therefore any claim made by a scholar is automatically suspect,

    This is called a genetic fallacy, you are making a conclusion based solely on something or someone’s origin rather than its current meaning or context, I suggest you take a look at the meaning and context and then take it from there.

    you say “Its useful to keep up with what we know thru experience, science, and whatever our evolution fine-tunes us for.

    Well, by your logic since this statement isn’t scientific or something I can experience I guess I’m going to have to reject it. Evolution fine-tunes for us? So you trust a nonrational blind watchmaker?

    you say ‘We are progressing to some extent, like slavery, woman’s rights, child labor… but we still have ways to go.”

    Ahhh Progression, eh? So I take it you hold to a teleology, otherwise what goal are we progressing towards?
    “Treating us atheist like we are dumb is the best way to show your real character.”

    Well that remains to be seen,

    you say “One day Religion will crash and burn…. and the superstitions that cripple our progress will finally die.”

    Didn’t they say that during the Enlightenment? So what happened?

    You say “What we will have left is pure spirituality, as we are one with Nature.
    Not there yet though… obviously.”

    What exactly ‘is’ nature?

  50. Vincent it’s funny you speak of all this teleological talk whilst praising Bertrand Russell

    Have you ever read this piece from Russell? He is basically saying that you are nothing but a purposeless conglomeration of matter

    “That man is the product of causes which had no prevision of the end they were achieving; that his origin, his growth, his hopes and fears, his loves and his beliefs, are but the outcome of accidental collocations of atoms; …that all the labours of the ages, all the devotion, all the aspirations, all the noonday brightness of human genius, are destined to extinction in the vast death of the solar system, and that the temple of Man’s achievement must inevitably be buried beneath the debris of a universe in ruins- All these things, if not quite beyond dispute, are yet so nearly certain, that no philosophy which rejects them can hope to stand. Only within the scaffolding of these truths, only on the firm foundation of unyielding despair, can the soul’s habitation henceforth be safely built.”

    – Bertrand Russell ‘A Free man’s worship’

    • Yes Cornell. And I agree with him.

      Hence the fantastic joy of being alive at this moment of the Universe.
      This only adds to the privilege of “being” today.

      • I couldn’t agree more; I am a ‘purposeless conglomeration of matter’, do I care…nope! Even if I mean nothing to the universe, even if I have no ‘greater purpose’, I’m still going to pursue what makes me happy, and why shouldn’t I?

        • Exactly.

          But we all know that most humans need to be the center of attention, hence the creation of Gods that create everything with us in mind.

          A bit of humility never killed anyone.
          We are meaningless to the Universe.
          Just look at the speck we live on.

          Yet, what wonders we can live for… proportionate to our importance.

  51. Firstly I’ll apologise for having to condense your text in my reply below. It would have been a very long post had I not and I hope I haven’t excluded anything which was essential to your points. I have marked my respnses with a *, just in case you wish to skip to them.

    “The fact of the death of Jesus as a consequence of crucifixion is indisputable, despite hypotheses of a pseudo-death or a deception which are sometimes put forward. It need not be discussed further here.” (Gerd Ludemann)

    “The only thing that we can certainly say to be historical is that there were resurrection appearances in Galilee (and in Jerusalem) soon after Jesus’s death. These appearances cannot be denied” (Gerd Ludemann)

    * This text is just people saying ‘it’s indisputable’ or it is a ‘fact’ etc. but that’s not evidence. That’s their summary of the evidence as they see it not evidence itself.

    This (the crucifixion) as Ehrman says would not be made up. It was a fact of great shame. This would be like claiming the Catholic Church wanted to make up a Pope figure who was a homosexual pedophile at one point.

    James was Jesus’s brother who did not think Jesus was the Messiah before the crucifixion, but afterwards did. Why have the sudden shift? Second, Paul was an ardent opponent of Christianity, why did he switch?

    * Do I think Christians ‘made up’ the crucifixion, it doesn’t matter? If it happened it happened, if it didn’t it didn’t. Either way it doesn’t provide evidence that Jesus is the son of god, a deity; it just proves that a claim in the bible turns out to be true. This doesn’t de facto mean all its claims are true.

    * ‘Why have the sudden shift?’ how could I tell you, I never spoke with James. I can hypothesize; maybe he felt guilty that he was alive and Jesus had died. People convert for any number of reasons. However, to say that Jesus must be the son of god because James converted is a huge leap. As for both James and Paul converting, again, plenty of people convert. Just because people convert to a religion does not mean the religion that they convert to has to be the truth.

    Jesus was executed by crucifixion, which was a common method of torture and execution used by the Romans. (Dale Martin)

    That Jesus was executed because he or someone else was claiming that he was the king of the Jews seems to be historically accurate. (ibid. 186)

    * This is not evidence in the slightest. Zeus wore a toga; togas were common attire in ancient Greece, thus Zeus must have existed. To assume one truth in a text de facto proves another claim is false logic and does not constitute evidence.

    Second, the tomb was found empty. This does not have as much historical support amongst scholars, but there are a large number who will grant it. Dale Allison has reviewed the evidence on both sides and thinks the evidence leads stronger in the idea of the empty tomb. I see it as simply evident since if the tomb was not empty, Christianity would not have got started.

    * Even if the tomb was empty to jump to the conclusion that he rose from the dead is a slight jump. If you hear hoof beats don’t think zebra, think horse’. Just because an empty ancient empty tomb was found is not evidence for there being a son of god who rose from the dead inside that tomb; that is just conjecture.

    Jesus’ execution is as historically certain as any ancient event can ever be but what about all those very specific details that fill out the story? (see -John Dominic Crossan)

    The disciples claimed to have seen the resurrected Christ. Our earliest statement of this is in 1 Cor. 15:3-7 and the material in this passage dates to within 5 years of the event.

    “We can say with complete certainty that some of his disciples at some later time insisted that . . . he soon appeared to them, convincing them that he had been raised from the dead.” (Bart Ehrman)

    “That Jesus’ followers (and later Paul) had resurrection experiences is, in my judgment, a fact. What the reality was that gave rise to the experiences I do not know.” (E.P. Sanders)

    “That the experiences did occur, even if they are explained in purely natural terms, is a fact upon which both believer and unbeliever can agree.” (Reginald H. Fuller)

    * I agree with E.P. Sanders, many people in ancient texts claim to have seen ‘magical’ things but we don’t take those claims at face value, a true reflection of reality. I could find numerous eyewitness accounts of mermaids but to say that because of these accounts mermaids ‘cannot be denied’ is ludicrous. Who knows what lead them to think that that’s what they saw, but I bet you don’t believe that mermaids are real.

    Christians who wanted to proclaim Jesus as messiah would not have invented the notion that he was crucified because his crucifixion created such a scandal.

    Christianity should not have survived. It was in an agonistic society where honor and shame were the reigning priorities and Christianity was an incredibly shameful belief. How so?

    They had a Messiah who was crucified. No one would take that seriously.

    Jesus’s followers taught resurrection. If the ancient world had an OT, it was Homer, and Homer was clear. Resurrection doesn’t happen. If the idea was mentioned, it was in mockery.

    The faith was exclusivistic. Christians denied the existence of the Roman gods. Other systems like Mithraism could be allowed if they would include the Roman gods in the system or allow themselves to be absorbed into the pantheon. Christianity refused to treat Jesus as just another deity. He was the supreme one for them. This set them apart from the Roman empire and would make them be seen as deviant.

    Christianity was new. Novelty was not accepted in the ancient world. New ideas were looked at with suspicion.

    Christianity came from a shameful locale. It came from Israel, a kind of backwater area, and from there, the Messiah was born in Nazareth.

    Christianity was not seen as tolerant. It claimed that all other religions were false. It would not submit to being one of many. It claimed that it and it alone was true.

    * Essentially in all of these paragraphs what you are claiming is that no belief can develop which contradicts or is different to the previous belief system? That in order for people to convert in the face of convention the thing they are converting to must be true, ‘otherwise why would they convert?’ That’s just ridiculous. There is no rule to say that new beliefs cannot contradict prior beliefs. Zoroastrianism was the first monotheistic religion completely flying in the face of all religions that had come before it. Does that mean it must be true? Of course not! As for conversion I will again say that conversion does not mean truth.

    Why would people become Christians then? (And our indication from scholars like Meeks is that they were coming from the middle and upper-class, the ones who had the ability best to investigate the claims) Only one reason. It was true.

    * If I asked you to investigate the disappearance 10 years ago of a body from a graveyard, how exactly would you go about that? My point is that these converts to Christianity, whatever their class, were in no position to investigate the claims (as if anyone 2000 years ago was roaming around like Sherlock Holmes anyway).

    * ‘’Why would people become Christian’’, same reasons people convert today, they’re convinced to. What convinces them; it doesn’t matter, millions of different reasons, but regardless their conversion is not proof. To say that simply because people believe something is true it must be true is bordering on outright madness! By that logic every religion that had ever had somebody convert to it must be true…ridiculous logic!

    * In summary you seem to focus on proving elements of historical truth within the bible on the assumption that this proves Jesus was the son of god. So what if you can prove that a man called Jesus was crucified, so what if you could say that his body disappeared, so what if people converted to Christianity? None of these things serve as evidence of a divine being. I see no reason why, even if certain elements of the bible turn out to be true, the assumption can therefore be made that Jesus must have been the son of god. Take ancient Greece for example, many of the places and events mentioned in their mythology can be proven historically but does that de facto mean Zeus existed? Of course not. You claim that theists use logic and reason; might I suggest you demonstrate that. Firstly by explaining why, even if historical fact can be established, that de facto proves Jesus was the son of god and is worthy of my worship? And secondly, why this historical evidence (even though it doesn’t de facto provide evidence for divinity) is so much more compelling for Christianity than for other religions, such as the ancient Greek gods?

    What you have is faith in conjecture, not evidence.

    • Thank you Chris. I am in a deadline crunch, and I didn’t have time to respond.

      Brace yourself for more rationalizations based on assumption. Nothing more.

    • If only humans would stick to Reality, and dare to admit to dreaming for confort, as we all do.
      Oh well…

      • Oh absolutely! Do I wish that I get to see my dead Father in heaven, you bet. Do I wish when I’m alone and lost in the dark that somebody is watching over me to make sure I’m safe? You bet. Of course we all hope, but hope doesn’t mean reality. Kids hope Santa will bring them presents…he never does ;( Hope is misleading, disappointing and dangerous unless grounded in reality. Why not hope for real solutions, real help. instead of hoping for fairies, unicorns and gods?

    • Chris: * Do I think Christians ‘made up’ the crucifixion, it doesn’t matter? If it happened it happened, if it didn’t it didn’t. Either way it doesn’t provide evidence that Jesus is the son of god, a deity; it just proves that a claim in the bible turns out to be true. This doesn’t de facto mean all its claims are true.

      Reply: Good grief. No one is saying it is. Most fundamentalists however do have all-or-nothing thinking. The crucifixion is part of a cumulative case. Also, as per the above scholars, there is no doubt that the crucifixion happened. If you want to go against every published and peer-reviewed scholar out there, go ahead, but you’d better have a good reason.

      Chris: how could I tell you, I never spoke with James. I can hypothesize; maybe he felt guilty that he was alive and Jesus had died.

      Reply: Guilt is a modern phenomenon of an individualistic society. In an agonistic society, internal guilt is not a reality. Guilt is externalized in shame. The shame would not have gone to James. It would have gone to Jesus having been crucified. Furthermore, even if he had had guilt, that could just lead him to say “It’s a shame my brother’s dead.” It would not lead him to say “My brother rose from the dead and is the Messiah and is fully God!”

      Chris: People convert for any number of reasons. However, to say that Jesus must be the son of god because James converted is a huge leap.

      Reply: My case is for the resurrection. It’s not about Jesus being the Son of God at this point. Yet it’s amusing to me that it’s a huge leap to think that, but it’s not a huge leap to think that James felt guilty and therefore decided his brother was the resurrected Messiah and Son of God.

      Chris: As for both James and Paul converting, again, plenty of people convert. Just because people convert to a religion does not mean the religion that they convert to has to be the truth.

      Reply: Conversion is a much simpler reality today than it was in the ancient world. Jews were extremely exclusivistic and people were cautious about new ideas in the ancient world. One statement for sure is that when people do convert, they do so because they think the new belief is true, so again, what evidence changed their minds?

      Chris: * This is not evidence in the slightest. Zeus wore a toga; togas were common attire in ancient Greece, thus Zeus must have existed. To assume one truth in a text de facto proves another claim is false logic and does not constitute evidence.

      Reply: All I’m proving here is that Jesus was crucified. It’s part of a case. Are you just someone who’s nervous that there might be some truth to Christianity if you affirm any piece of it?

      Chris: * Even if the tomb was empty to jump to the conclusion that he rose from the dead is a slight jump.

      Reply: *headdesk*

      It’s a cumulative case. If all we had is an empty tomb, then yes, to say He rose from the dead would be a jump. Might I suggest trying to examine every piece of evidence bit by bit? It’s like saying “Well we have that the accused happened to own a gun.”

      “Well several people own guns! It doesn’t make a difference! That’s a far leap from saying he committed the crime!”

      “We have the accused had a grudge against the victim.”

      “Several people don’t like other people! That’s a far cry from saying that they commit murder!”

      Again, a cumulative case.

      Chris: If you hear hoof beats don’t think zebra, think horse’. Just because an empty ancient empty tomb was found is not evidence for there being a son of god who rose from the dead inside that tomb; that is just conjecture.

      Reply: Once again, my case is not built on one piece of evidence but several pieces of evidence. What you could do is try to show that this piece of evidence is false instead.

      Chris: I agree with E.P. Sanders, many people in ancient texts claim to have seen ‘magical’ things but we don’t take those claims at face value, a true reflection of reality. I could find numerous eyewitness accounts of mermaids but to say that because of these accounts mermaids ‘cannot be denied’ is ludicrous. Who knows what lead them to think that that’s what they saw, but I bet you don’t believe that mermaids are real.

      REply: Again, cumulative case. The ancients knew hallucinations happen just as much as anyone else does. In fact, had they had visions alone, what would have been the conclusion they would have reached? Divine exaltation. It would not be resurrection. Jesus had been exalted to be in the presence of God. Resurrection requires more than just a vision. Having the empty tomb as well made a difference and having mass appearances is a problem for hallucinations anyway.

      Chris: * Essentially in all of these paragraphs what you are claiming is that no belief can develop which contradicts or is different to the previous belief system? That in order for people to convert in the face of convention the thing they are converting to must be true, ‘otherwise why would they convert?’ That’s just ridiculous.

      Reply: No. I am saying that beliefs that are deemed shameful by society and that put one on the outs with that society as a whole would not be accepted.

      Chris: There is no rule to say that new beliefs cannot contradict prior beliefs. Zoroastrianism was the first monotheistic religion completely flying in the face of all religions that had come before it.

      Reply: Really? Do you have a source for this? Do you have a dating of the writings we have of Zoroaster that show that they come before Judaism to establish that?

      Chris: Does that mean it must be true? Of course not! As for conversion I will again say that conversion does not mean truth.

      Reply: Zoroastrianism was also not considered shameful in its time. Christianity was.

      Chris: * If I asked you to investigate the disappearance 10 years ago of a body from a graveyard, how exactly would you go about that? My point is that these converts to Christianity, whatever their class, were in no position to investigate the claims (as if anyone 2000 years ago was roaming around like Sherlock Holmes anyway).

      Reply: It would be simple. These accounts took place with eyewitnesses. People claimed to see the risen Lord. You would have gone and interviewed the eyewitnesses. Also, you would have investigated the local area and talked to people who were familiar with the ministry of Jesus. Furthermore, there are claims of miracles and you can investigate people who claim to have been healed by Christ. Note the middle and upper-class people would not convert without good reason due to not wanting to invoke shame and be seen as deviant.

      Chris: ’Why would people become Christian’’, same reasons people convert today, they’re convinced to. What convinces them; it doesn’t matter, millions of different reasons, but regardless their conversion is not proof. To say that simply because people believe something is true it must be true is bordering on outright madness! By that logic every religion that had ever had somebody convert to it must be true…ridiculous logic!

      Reply: This would apply if it had been my argument, but it’s not. My statement is that people converted to a belief that gave them no immediate positive benefits and instead gave immediate negative consequences. They accepted a belief that was shameful and put them on odds with the most powerful empire at the time and cast them as deviants in society and in the face of persecution at times, they still thrived.

      Chris: In summary you seem to focus on proving elements of historical truth within the bible on the assumption that this proves Jesus was the son of god. So what if you can prove that a man called Jesus was crucified, so what if you could say that his body disappeared, so what if people converted to Christianity? None of these things serve as evidence of a divine being. I see no reason why, even if certain elements of the bible turn out to be true, the assumption can therefore be made that Jesus must have been the son of god. Take ancient Greece for example, many of the places and events mentioned in their mythology can be proven historically but does that de facto mean Zeus existed?

      Reply: Okay. Then here’s what you do. Take the best arguments metaphysically for the existence of a deity like Zeus and the best arguments for historical appearances of Zeus and compare them with classical theistic arguments and with the historical case for the life of Jesus and see which one comes out on top.

      Chris: Of course not. You claim that theists use logic and reason; might I suggest you demonstrate that. Firstly by explaining why, even if historical fact can be established, that de facto proves Jesus was the son of god and is worthy of my worship? And secondly, why this historical evidence (even though it doesn’t de facto provide evidence for divinity) is so much more compelling for Christianity than for other religions, such as the ancient Greek gods?

      Reply: Simple for the second one. It exists in our case. We can tell you when Jesus lived. We can tell you where he walked. We can explain facts about His life. This cannot be done for Zeus. Second, if Jesus rose from the dead, then this is a statement by God on the life of Jesus. It is a reversal of the condemnation of the Sanhedrin meaning that the deity has the stamp of approval on Jesus’s claims to be who He said He was.

      Chris: What you have is faith in conjecture, not evidence.

      Reply: No. What I have is scholarship. You have not disproven a single fact that I presented that comes from leading scholarship and have presented no scholarship on your own. Instead you have just asserted your case. For the social world of the NT, you have not interacted with scholars such as in the Context Group to see how the world worked back then. Instead, you assume that it is just like yours. It isn’t. Modern Western Civilization has a different idea of how life is than 99% of the people who have ever lived and we force our view on past cultures.

      • //If you want to go against every published and peer-reviewed scholar out there, go ahead, but you’d better have a good reason.//

        Please Nick — you are trusting scholars that have an a priori bias.

        You are free to chose your mentors, so are we.

        Still, it proves nothing empirically, like for example the plethora of evidence for Evolution.

        • Please Nick — you are trusting scholars that have an a priori bias.

          You are free to chose your mentors, so are we.

          Still, it proves nothing empirically, like for example the plethora of evidence for Evolution.

          Reply: Oh I don’t care about evolution. It’s a non-question, but I have this problem see.

          You see, all scientists once believed that the sun goes around the Earth. Today, they think differently. Somehow, we decided they were wrong, but if all scientists were wrong then, maybe they’re all wrong today.

          All people once believed slavery was moral. Today, they believe differently. Maybe they’re all still wrong? Who knows? After all, if we’re going to say we just can’t trust a group because a group has been wrong before, then we have no reason to trust any group whatsoever today.

          Thanks for killing all our knowledge.

          • //You see, all scientists once believed that the sun goes around the Earth. Today, they think differently. Somehow, we decided they were wrong, but if all scientists were wrong then, maybe they’re all wrong today.//

            I totally agree on that.

            Still, I am not arguing with you 2,000 year old science, am I?

            See the point?

          • //Thanks for killing all our knowledge.//

            Not so, and you know it.
            Killing knowledge that has been reasonably questioned in time, and proven unverifiable at best, wrong at most.

          • Vincent: What is a scholar for you Nick?

            Reply: Simple. A scholar is someone with a relevant Ph.D. in the field who has passed peer-review. The credibility of a scholar is determined largely by his fellow peers. For instance, someone like Richard Carrier while having a PH.D. has not had his Christ-myth garbage pass peer-review and he does not teach at an accredited university.

            The scholars I have also cited for my case are in fact non-Christians.

            Vincent: And why do you not recognize the counter-scholar arguments?

            Reply: I do. I just disagree with them and I give reasons why. The facts I’ve presented are those that scholars do agree on. If you think there are scholars in the field who say Jesus was not crucified, then by all means produce them.

            Vincent: Do you not see that we all choose our sources of trust?

            Reply: On what basis? I choose the ones that I think make the best case and that is after reading several scholars who disagree with my viewpoint. Ehrman, White, Crossan, Borg, Martin, Ludemann, etc.

            Vincent: Still, I am not arguing with you 2,000 year old science, am I?

            See the point?

            Reply: Then by your argument, we should not accept findings of modern science because all scientists have been wrong before. Why should I give science a free pass but yet history should always be viewed with suspicion?

            Vincent: Not so, and you know it.
            Killing knowledge that has been reasonably questioned in time, and proven unverifiable at best, wrong at most.

            Reply: Before you make claims about what I know, you should make sure that I do know it. No. I in fact think your position ends in total agnosticism. You’re willing to look at all scholars in the field and say “Well they could all be wrong.” What’s the reason for this? “Well they’ve all been wrong before.” If we do this with any other field, we end up with agnosticism.

          • There is such a thing as healthy skepticism.

            There are many satellite reasons I don’t buy into Christian faith anymore.

      • What is a scholar for you Nick?

        Please give me your definition.
        And why do you not recognize the counter-scholar arguments?

        Do you not see that we all choose our sources of trust?
        Can we not at least agree on that, instead of making statements of truth that are unverifiable?

      • So your cumulative case on several pieces of evidence seems to be; man called Jesus, man called Jesus Crucified, man called Jesus not in designated tomb, people reckon they saw said Jesus …man called Jesus must be my deity, the son of the creator of the universe!

        I have no problem saying anything in the bible is historically true, I’ll admit all the things above are true because my point is it doesn’t matter.

        As for the rest of your ‘evidence’; ‘people wouldn’t worship him against convention unless true’. I still have to disagree with you there and once again raise monotheism;

        ‘’Really? Do you have a source for this? Do you have a dating of the writings we have of Zoroaster that show that they come before Judaism to establish that?’’

        I shall say who honestly cares? You’re so obsessed with ‘origins’ you forget the point. Fine, Judaism was the first Monotheistic religion, does that change the point? No! The point is that religions can fly in the face of convention.

        ‘’Okay. Then here’s what you do. Take the best arguments metaphysically for the existence of a deity like Zeus and the best arguments for historical appearances of Zeus and compare them with classical theistic arguments and with the historical case for the life of Jesus and see which one comes out on top.’’

        May I suggest that it is you, being the one who has decided between these 2 beings that could provide me with your arguments for and against each?

        Again I shall summarise by saying that historical proof does not de facto mean deities associated with that history must exist. Even if you are simply saying ‘Well, we must pick the deity that has the most historical accuracy in their book’, I don’t believe that is a reasoned deduction, that is faith.

        • Chris: So your cumulative case on several pieces of evidence seems to be; man called Jesus, man called Jesus Crucified, man called Jesus not in designated tomb, people reckon they saw said Jesus …man called Jesus must be my deity, the son of the creator of the universe!

          REply: What way to make a straw man. This is especially so since my main focus is on the honor-shame motif. The minimal facts approach is secondary to this. Yet still, it is part of the data and a part of it that needs to be explained.

          Chris: I have no problem saying anything in the bible is historically true, I’ll admit all the things above are true because my point is it doesn’t matter.

          Reply: Then you need an explanation of the life of Jesus that best explains the data.

          Chris: As for the rest of your ‘evidence’; ‘people wouldn’t worship him against convention unless true’. I still have to disagree with you there and once again raise monotheism;

          Reply: Monotheism would not be a shameful belief. It would be considered different, but not shameful. Jews were considered shameful on other grounds, mainly their odd customs.

          Chris: I shall say who honestly cares? You’re so obsessed with ‘origins’ you forget the point. Fine, Judaism was the first Monotheistic religion, does that change the point? No! The point is that religions can fly in the face of convention.

          Reply: Ah. I see. So you like to make historical claims and not back them. Also, Zoroastrianism was dualistic. It was not monotheistic. The writings of them as far as I know don’t date until even after the time of Christ so we can’t say for sure that that is what the historical Zoroaster, if there was such a person, even taught.

          Chris: May I suggest that it is you, being the one who has decided between these 2 beings that could provide me with your arguments for and against each?

          Reply: For theism, I have the five ways of Aquinas and for historical Christianity, I recommend works such as N.T. Wright’s “The Resurrection of the Son of God” and Mike Licona’s “The Resurrection of Jesus: A New Historiographical Approach.”

          For polytheism, well you’re not going to find many metaphysical defenses of polytheism. Even the philosophers in Greece didn’t take the Greek gods seriously. It’s said the philosophers saw the religions as equally false, the people saw them as equally true, and the politicians saw them as equally useful. Aristotle defended monotheism for instance. Now there could be several lesser powers, as his system did have angels, but that is consistent with monotheism.

          For the history of Zeus, I hold it quite possible that there were historical figures behind the Greek gods that later on underwent a kind of apotheosis. Do we have any eyewitnesses to Zeus that record what happened? No. The most we’d have is in Homer which is written as fiction. Meanwhile, the Gospels are written as Greco-Roman Biographies meant to be seen as historical.

          Chris: Again I shall summarise by saying that historical proof does not de facto mean deities associated with that history must exist. Even if you are simply saying ‘Well, we must pick the deity that has the most historical accuracy in their book’, I don’t believe that is a reasoned deduction, that is faith

          Reply: I don’t believe you know what faith is. I am looking at an event and asking what best explains all the data and concluding it’s the one the writers of the event said, that God raised Jesus from the dead.

          You’ve presented no better explanation and given no reason why I should think mine false.

          • ‘’I don’t believe you know what faith is. I am looking at an event and asking what best explains all the data and concluding it’s the one the writers of the event said, that God raised Jesus from the dead. You’ve presented no better explanation and given no reason why I should think mine false.’’

            Here is my breakdown of the evidence; Jesus existed, he was crucified, he was put in a tomb and either his body went missing or it didn’t.

            If it didn’t go missing then perhaps those who thought it missing were genuinely mistaken, or they had motives to report it missing, or perhaps they had the wrong tomb.

            If it did go missing then it could be that somebody had taken it or that a being for which this seems the only evidence for had sent his mortal son to die and then be resurrected.

            Out of all the possibilities are you genuinely telling me that there is absolutely only one sure-fire answer, fact, cannot be disputed; that he rose from the dead and thus proves god must exist? If you are then you are not being open minded, if not then you are relying on faith that you’ve picked the right answer.

            Again I shall raise mermaids; is it possible the witnesses saw actual mermaids, yes, but is it the only possible answer, no.

          • Chris: Here is my breakdown of the evidence; Jesus existed, he was crucified, he was put in a tomb and either his body went missing or it didn’t.

            Reply: If the body didn’t go missing, why was it never produced? Even after fifty days, it’d still be recognizable? Why also would that claim be made first in Jerusalem where it would be most privy to being disproven instead of somewhere far away?

            Chris: If it didn’t go missing then perhaps those who thought it missing were genuinely mistaken, or they had motives to report it missing, or perhaps they had the wrong tomb.

            Reply: Kirsopp Lake came up with the wrong tomb idea and it didn’t get much of a following. Tombs would not have been common in the ancient world in Israel since they were owned by the wealthy or else one whole family and by family, I mean a large extended family, would use a tomb until their bones were left and then off to the ossuary.

            Motives to report it missing. Right. What motives would those be? Why would guards report the body was missing? Further, how does just an empty tomb explain as well the group appearances?

            Chris: If it did go missing then it could be that somebody had taken it or that a being for which this seems the only evidence for had sent his mortal son to die and then be resurrected.

            Reply: Actually, I have also given the evidence found in the five ways of Aquinas which is consistent with such a being existing. Now if you think someone took it, who? Necromancers? Necromancers wanting body parts would not be able to move a stone away from the tomb like that and go carrying out the body. They’d just take the parts they needed and move on. The apostles? Then why would they be willing to lie to support this belief that would put them as deviants in society and have them cut off from YHWH? The leading authorities? For what reason? They wanted to eliminate the Jesus movement! Not give it more impetus!

            Chris: Out of all the possibilities are you genuinely telling me that there is absolutely only one sure-fire answer, fact, cannot be disputed; that he rose from the dead and thus proves god must exist? If you are then you are not being open minded, if not then you are relying on faith that you’ve picked the right answer.

            Reply: Well if you can think of a better answer, then please show it. If you are going to say that you have ruled out that answer a priori, then you are acting on faith in a naturalistic worldview and are in fact not being open-minded to that which contradicts your worldview.

            Chris: Again I shall raise mermaids; is it possible the witnesses saw actual mermaids, yes, but is it the only possible answer, no.

            REply: MY case does not rely on eyewitness alone but numerous other pieces of data. The evidence for mermaids is nowhere near on par as that for Jesus.

          • Just because I cannot answer something does not mean something else must be true. This is common amongst theists aka missing links. My point is there are other possibilities, just because I cannot provide detailed explanations of who, when, why etc. does not mean that they absolutely could not have happened.

            With the wrong tomb discussion all you’ve said is ‘I think it unlikely’. Seriously, genuinely more unlikely than a supernatural being raising his son from the dead?

            Why not necromancers? Why couldn’t they have moved the stone? Why couldn’t they not have taken the body instead of the parts? Perhaps they were new, perhaps they were rubbish, perhaps they were worried they would be disturbed and so moved the body. All of these are possible explanations.

            ‘’Well if you can think of a better answer, then please show it.’’

            How about Zeus, perhaps he was annoyed at a person claiming to be the son of a god, he knew he wasn’t and took vengeance on him by stripping his body of clothes and throwing his body into the deepest pits of the earth? How about necromancers? How about the witnesses being genuinely wrong? How about a wrong tomb? Is that enough possible, better and more plausible answers? I’m guessing no.

          • Chris: Just because I cannot answer something does not mean something else must be true.

            Reply: Which would apply had I made such a position. Really. You gotta learn how to think through positions. I argued that not only is your position false, but I have positive evidence for my position.

            Chris: This is common amongst theists aka missing links.

            Reply: Missing links are arguments based on ignorance. Mine is an argument based on data, something you’re not familiar with.

            Chris: My point is there are other possibilities, just because I cannot provide detailed explanations of who, when, why etc. does not mean that they absolutely could not have happened.

            Reply: One does not just say there are other possibilities. One goes with what is most probable based on the evidence. You presented options. I gave reasons why I disagreed with them. At this point, you should say “No. Here’s why you should agree with the options.” If I gave reasons why I disagreed with them, how it convincing to say “Well you should ignore those reasons anyway!”?

            Chris: With the wrong tomb discussion all you’ve said is ‘I think it unlikely’. Seriously, genuinely more unlikely than a supernatural being raising his son from the dead?

            Reply: No. I gave reasons why. Yet if you want more, Jesus was a known figure at the time. His tomb would have been a recognizable spot especially since accounts indicate that there were witnesses to his burial. The ruling authorities would have just as likely produced the right tomb. As I said, Kirsopp Lake tried and this and it didn’t get a following. Even secular scholarship rejects this one.

            Chris: Why not necromancers? Why couldn’t they have moved the stone?

            Reply: Jesus’s tomb would have been one where the stone would have fallen into place from a higher position and would have weighed well over a ton. Now if you want to say they could have moved it, then you must know some pretty strong necromancers. Note that they would have had to come with tools and this would have been a night time operation. Grave robbing was a criminal offense.

            Chris: Why couldn’t they not have taken the body instead of the parts? Perhaps they were new, perhaps they were rubbish, perhaps they were worried they would be disturbed and so moved the body. All of these are possible explanations.

            Reply: So you’re going to tell me that these grave robbers came and not only had the tools which would have been cumbersome, but in the middle of the night moved a tomb on their own using these cumbersome tools, then stole a whole body rather than just taking what they needed, and then carried the body back into town for what purpose? Who knows? Do you have any evidence of this? How does this in fact also support the group appearances? Those need to be explained too! This would only explain the empty tomb.

            Chris: How about Zeus, perhaps he was annoyed at a person claiming to be the son of a god, he knew he wasn’t and took vengeance on him by stripping his body of clothes and throwing his body into the deepest pits of the earth?

            Reply: So in order to avoid a “supernatural” (Whatever that means) resurrection, you’re willing to postulate Zeus? You’re willing to go with Zeus to avoid YHWH? What on Earth for?

            Chris: How about necromancers?

            Reply: Answered above.

            Chris: How about the witnesses being genuinely wrong?

            Reply: This would be the kind of thing they’d check on. They didn’t go the route of hallucination or divine exaltation. They went the hardest route that they could. They didn’t even go with spiritual resurrection which would have been easy. They went with bodily resurrection. Also, again, this does not explain the mass appearances.

            Chris: How about a wrong tomb?

            Reply: This would not explain the appearances and it would not have explained the unusual claim of bodily resurrection. Furthermore, the ruling powers would have been glad to point to the right tomb. As said earlier, Kirsopp Lake suggested this and the scholarly world rejected it.

            Chris: Is that enough possible, better and more plausible answers? I’m guessing no.

            Reply: No, because they don’t explain the data the best. They’re built on conjecture and hypotheticals and show a lack of understanding of the way the ancient world works, particularly in an agonistic society.

            Again, the simplest answer is the one that best explains all the data. Jesus bodily rose from the dead.

          • I’m dreaming.

            Jesus resurrection as “Fact”… I’m speechless.

            Witnesses saw hi rise? Yes, and thousands more claim extraterrestrial encounters. Sometimes as large groups.
            Where is the evidence? Nowhere.

            What to scholars claiming have as evidence? Remind me — this thread is too long to read all over again.
            What empirical evidence is there again? And who does the interpretation and peer review of such evidence?

            Jorge, yes. Thank you for your insight and gratuitous accusations. You have done a lot to advance this discussion.

            ~~~
            //So in order to avoid a “supernatural” (Whatever that means) resurrection, you’re willing to postulate Zeus? You’re willing to go with Zeus to avoid YHWH? What on Earth for?//

            Strawman. Chris is not “willing to postulate Zeus” — he is comparing the evidence for Zeus to YHWH.

          • Vincent: I’m dreaming.

            Jesus resurrection as “Fact”… I’m speechless.

            Reply: Yes. A position held by some scholars. Let’s see. Scholars who hold that Jesus didn’t exist? Want to list the number there?

            Vincent: Witnesses saw hi rise?

            Reply: No. Witnesses saw Him after He was resurrected. Try to pay attention.

            Vincent: Yes, and thousands more claim extraterrestrial encounters. Sometimes as large groups.
            Where is the evidence? Nowhere.

            Reply: Yep. They do. I also don’t rule them out. I don’t deny many of them saw something. The question is what did they see? Consistently also, many who have UFO encounters are also highly involved in occult practices. I try to explain the data. I don’t just say “Well they didn’t see anything!”

            Vincent: What to scholars claiming have as evidence? Remind me — this thread is too long to read all over again.
            What empirical evidence is there again? And who does the interpretation and peer review of such evidence?

            Reply: We have historical documents from the time as well as our studies of the oral tradition and archaeological findings. Who does the reviewing of this material? It is done by a community of scholars from all different fields.

            You’d know this if you read scholarship.

            Vincent: Strawman. Chris is not “willing to postulate Zeus” — he is comparing the evidence for Zeus to YHWH.

            Reply: And has done so apparently without explaining to my differentation between the two and how the data for one is greater than that of the other.

  52. Chris Robson:

    You say that you “don’t know where to begin”. Well, I do.
    All I have to do is restate my previous post:

    I wouldn’t argue with you the claim that “Atheism is based on reason”. I would, however, definitely argue against the claim that Atheism is based on sound, honest and fact-based reasoning. In fact, to become an Atheist demands that the person performs / practices one or more of the following: (1) heavily biased interpretation of observations; (2) choosing with extreme prejudice the data to accept and data to reject; (3) logical fallacies; (4) intellectual dishonesty; and/or (5) willful ignorance.

    The *only* perfectly logical and perfectly honest conclusion based on everything that we know is this: the Triune God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is the One and only God.

    • //The *only* perfectly logical and perfectly honest conclusion based on everything that we know is this: the Triune God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is the One and only God.//

      “The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt.” –

      ~Bertrand Russell

      • You cite *Bertrand Russell* – Atheist extraordinaire – as your rebuttal? Zowwweee!

        By the way, YOU sure do sound “cocksure” to me.
        What I mean is, you certainly were “cocksure” enough
        to abandon Christ and then dive headfirst into Atheism.

        Examine yourself before tossing out lame accusations, okay?

      • “The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt.

        I hadn’t heard that B.R. quote before…very apt.

        Just as a nearby example we have my debate with Nick Peters. I can concede that god raising his mortal son from a tomb is a possibility, no matter how improbable, but he cannot even conceive of another possibility; grave robbers, Zeus stealing the body, the wrong tomb…none of those are even a tiny weeney bit possible. God is absolutely, point-blank is the only possible answer to the stories of the resurrection!

        I will openly admit that god is a possibility, just very very improbable. I am agnostic for God in the same sense as I am agnostic about celestial teapots. They’re both possible, but very improbable. I certainly wouldn’t base my life, my children’s lives, politics, education, wars etc. on my agnosticism about teapots and I don’t want the glorified teapot aka god, to be exempt from that. Quite how people can believe god is literally fact, undisputable, is absolutely beyond me.

        • You know Chris, instead of complaining about how I’m not open, you could interact with my reasons against grave robbers and such.

          Instead it just comes out “I know you have evidence and reason against my position that make it unlikely, but I think you should be open-minded and consider a position that goes against all of that!”

          Seriously. Go read some good books on both sides of the issue and then come back and you can have an informed discussion.

          • Facepalm…again you miss the point. I don’t need to meet you head to head with scholarly reasons why somebody couldn’t possible move a rock, or grave robbers couldn’t possibly have taken a whole body etc. etc. It doesn’t matter; all that is needed is to demonstrate that god isn’t the only possible explanation and isn’t the most likely of those. If God was the ONLY explanation for the resurrection then I would believe in god but, god isn’t the only explanation. I’ve provided you with many other explanations which are possible however much you have faith in the evidence against them. Now, the point is no matter how unlikely they are, no matter how many scholars have hypothesised (they can do no more) that these are literally IMPOSSIBLE explanations for the resurrection, they are still more likely than the God explanation.

          • Chris: Facepalm…again you miss the point. I don’t need to meet you head to head with scholarly reasons why somebody couldn’t possible move a rock, or grave robbers couldn’t possibly have taken a whole body etc. etc. It doesn’t matter; all that is needed is to demonstrate that god isn’t the only possible explanation and isn’t the most likely of those.

            Reply: The problem is you miss the point of an open mind. An open mind is opened for the same reason the mouth is opened, to close it on something solid. I have found the resurrection to be the best explanation. Grave robbers could maybe explain the empty tomb, but they could not explain the appearances, they could not explain why the disciples would choose to go with resurrection instead of divine exaltation, they cannot explain the conversion of Paul and James in an agonistic culture, and there are still the myriad problems with the view.

            You see, unlike you, I don’t choose to ignore problems with a view.

            Chris: If God was the ONLY explanation for the resurrection then I would believe in god but, god isn’t the only explanation. I’ve provided you with many other explanations which are possible however much you have faith in the evidence against them.

            Reply: Ah. So there is plenty of evidence against them and you just choose to ignore it. I thought we were supposed to go by decisions based on the evidence instead of against the evidence. The problem I’ve found with your explanations is that they lack sufficient explanatory scope.

            Chris: Now, the point is no matter how unlikely they are, no matter how many scholars have hypothesised (they can do no more) that these are literally IMPOSSIBLE explanations for the resurrection, they are still more likely than the God explanation.

            Reply: Which is another argument on your part that goes without demonstration. Why should I think the God explanation is unlikely when I have plenty of supporting evidence for it and I in fact don’t have any that goes against it?

        • Two points:

          1. Vastly far more improbable is the universe *without* God yet you willingly choose the latter over the former. That tells the story in itself.
          2. You may be “agnostic” for God but your life is not *practiced* as an Agnostic. When you decide, for example, on issues such as abortion, same-sex marriage, homosexuals, any ethical / moral event in general, and so on, you are not “Agnostic”. You make your decisions with full commitment either for or against what God says. In short, I’m quite convinced that nearly all “Agnostics” are closet Atheists/Humanists or cowardly Theists.

          Don’t take any of this as personal – the above applies to ALL “Agnostics”. I personally think more highly of a militant Atheist/Humanist than of a person that wishes to be thought of as “Agnostic”.

  53. Chris

    “I couldn’t agree more; I am a ‘purposeless conglomeration of matter’, do I care…nope! Even if I mean nothing to the universe, even if I have no ‘greater purpose’, I’m still going to pursue what makes me happy, and why shouldn’t I?”

    And what makes you happy exactly? Do you feel a sense of purpose whilst arguing against Christians?

    • Nope, I find arguing against some Christians mentally stimulating so get enjoyment from it in that sense. It’s my Sudoku if you will!

  54. Vincent

    “Yes Cornell. And I agree with him.

    Hence the fantastic joy of being alive at this moment of the Universe.
    This only adds to the privilege of “being” today.”

    So purposelessness with joy and privilege? Exactly how is that supposed to mix?

    • Purposeless; no greater meaning to our lives than our biological functions – to pass on our genetic material. Ultimately even this doesn’t matter; we will become extinct, the earth destroyed, the universe ended. It doesn’t matter how but ultimately us, and all our genetic efforts, are just a blip of matter that will one day cease to be.

      Joy; The joy are brains provide to us on reward for things that are beneficial to us – sexual pleasure, pleasure from food, pleasure from helping others etc. all the pleasure our brain provides for darwinistic reasons. Does the fact we don’t matter to the universe mean that my pleasure should switch off? Nope.

      Privilege; The privilege we have but rocks or stars don’t, consciousness. It is our privilege to to have an awareness of the universe and to be able to appreciate and enjoy that for a few decades.

      All of those seem compatible. Not quite sure what your problem is with those mixing?

      • Good heavens, what a sad, pathetic, meaningless life you have! Coming from nowhere and going to nowhere … a minor blip on the screen of the universe, soon to be lost within the rest of the cosmic background noise. If I were you – and I thank God Almighty that I’m not – I’d shoot myself. Seriously …

        … seriously, genuinely seek God and He will show you wonders that you cannot even dream of. Eternal purpose and joy — instead of an empty, purposeless existence — are there.

        Otherwise, enjoy whatever remains of that sad existence that you refer to as “life”. It’ll be over before you realize it and then … well, then Reality takes center stage.

        • Are you genuinely saying that if you found out god wasn’t real you’d blow your own head off? That if god didn’t have a purpose for you that you couldn’t bear to live? Then I’m afraid you are the one with a pathetic life. You wouldn’t want to spend time with your kids or wife, wouldn’t want to make them happy, watch them grow up, wouldn’t want to lay on the grass on sunny summer days, wouldn’t want to watch butterflies, smell flowers? None of that is good enough for you..you’d rather die…then you’re the one with a sad life :( I like mine very much!

          • “Are you genuinely saying that if you found out god wasn’t real you’d blow your own head off?”
            REPLY: If you think about the matter logically and thoroughly (as I and many others have), you’d realize that if God did not exist then life has no meaning, no purpose and no reason for living it — it would be time to check out NOW!

            “That if god didn’t have a purpose for you that you couldn’t bear to live?”
            REPLY: Just read what I wrote above. I am steadfast that that is the only logical conclusion. Any other conclusion lacks logical rigor and/or makes logical fallacies. I challenge you to *logically* prove otherwise.

            “Then I’m afraid you are the one with a pathetic life.”
            REPLY: Hardly! But let’s see why you say this …

            “You wouldn’t want to spend time with your kids or wife, wouldn’t want to make them happy, watch them grow up, wouldn’t want to lay on the grass on sunny summer days, wouldn’t want to watch butterflies, smell flowers? None of that is good enough for you..you’d rather die…then you’re the one with a sad life :( I like mine very much!”
            REPLY: Based on the above input from you, I rest my case!!!

            Put your logic hat on. Let’s say that your scenario (“no God”) is correct. Now let’s fast-forward to one million years into the future.

            ONE MILLION YEARS LATER: You, your kids, your great-great-great grand kids will all be dust and absolutely nothing remains of any of you. As I had stated in the previous post, every part of you is now a part of the overall cosmic background noise – NOTHING identifiable as “you” remains. Ergo, what does it matter what you do in the next few decades? You could be an Einstein or a high school dropout, Hitler or Mother Theresa, Mozart or Jack the Ripper — it wouldn’t matter one hill of beans. You could be faithful, loving and responsible towards your wife and kids, or you could be adulterous, hateful, and cruel to them – it wouldn’t matter.

            Oh, you say, it matters *now*. I say, So what? – we are one megayear into the future, remember? So a few electrical impulses make you or your wife or your kids experience joy “now” … so a few chemicals give you the scent of flowers “now” … SO WHAT??? All of it is ephemeral … all is very transitory – here now, gone later. Happiness is ephemeral; pain is ephemeral. Under your scenario, there are NO consequences – beyond our lifetime – for any of our actions be they noble or horrific. Hitler, Jack the Ripper, Caligula, Mozart, Einstein – all will be in the same boat … NOTHING THAT THEY DID OR THAT YOU DO MATTERS (in your scenario) except for an insignificant cosmic “instant”.

            Now, back to the present: All of that is null and void if (IF!) there is accountability … if there is an eternal hereafter where everything that was done and will be done carries eternal consequences. NOW there is reason – logical reason – for kindness and responsibility and faithfulness and sacrifice and … Need I go on?

            I’ve tried to be as brief as possible but you can take your time thinking about it. Let logic rule and you’ll see that it is not I that has a “pathetic life”.

  55. Reply to ‘Nick Peters’

    I may ignore the problems but unlike you I will at least acknowledge them. There are problems, of course, but I ignore them because I see them as irrelevant. There are plenty of problems with explaining away all the evidence you have provided. However, I do not believe that the ‘problems’ are as unlikely as the answer ‘God must have done it’.

    Where is your supporting evidence for God? So far I have seen much evidence that 2000 years ago a man called Jesus was knocking about, died, was buried and then a few people reckoned they saw him and others decided to go against the norm and be Christian. That’s very weak evidence because of the variety of possible explanations for those events. I could spend the rest of my life offering various explanations for each but you would always say god is the most likely. If that is the case I cannot argue with you about these events, this ‘evidence’. Perhaps I need to prove that the Aquinas proofs (I presume your supporting evidence for god) are not as they claim to be. Then I can demonstrate that god is not the most plausible explanation.

    Again however, I could waste my time giving you reasons why those proofs are at best an explanation for any deity, not specifically the Christian god, and at worst, just plain false. If, as I suspect, you won’t concede that Aquinas’s proofs could apply to any god not just the Christian one, I cannot argue any more.

    • Chris: I may ignore the problems but unlike you I will at least acknowledge them. There are problems, of course, but I ignore them because I see them as irrelevant. There are plenty of problems with explaining away all the evidence you have provided. However, I do not believe that the ‘problems’ are as unlikely as the answer ‘God must have done it’.

      Reply: Ah yes. So your worldview explains away evidence and presents problems, but it does avoid the God conclusion. However, I, on the other hand, need to be more open-minded.

      The pot calls the kettle black. You’re willing to go with an explanation that has less explanatory scope and more problems with it just to avoid a conclusion you don’t like.

      Chris: Where is your supporting evidence for God?

      Reply: The Five ways of Aquinas.

      Chris: So far I have seen much evidence that 2000 years ago a man called Jesus was knocking about, died, was buried and then a few people reckoned they saw him and others decided to go against the norm and be Christian. That’s very weak evidence because of the variety of possible explanations for those events.

      Reply: The variety of explanations you’ve presented have been far less than convincing because of the myriad problems and the lack of explanatory scope.

      Chris: I could spend the rest of my life offering various explanations for each but you would always say god is the most likely.

      Reply: Yet here’s the difference, I point out why your explanations are not as likely and the problems. Meanwhile, I give all my evidence and no matter how much I give, you have decided already God is the least likely without arguing against my explanations or my counter points to what you say.

      Chris: If that is the case I cannot argue with you about these events, this ‘evidence’. Perhaps I need to prove that the Aquinas proofs (I presume your supporting evidence for god) are not as they claim to be. Then I can demonstrate that god is not the most plausible explanation.

      Reply: OF course. If you can show that the arguments for God’s existence are unlikely, then you do lend strength more to your position.

      Chris: Again however, I could waste my time giving you reasons why those proofs are at best an explanation for any deity, not specifically the Christian god, and at worst, just plain false.

      Reply: This is amusing because I have in fact said that Aquinas’s arguments are not meant to establish the Christian God. They are a necessary but not sufficient condition. They simply give us a general theism that happens to be remarkably consistent with the Christian God.

      Chris: If, as I suspect, you won’t concede that Aquinas’s proofs could apply to any god not just the Christian one, I cannot argue any more.

      Reply: Then your position is wrong. Avicenna could use Aquinas’s arguments. Maimonides could use Aquinas’s arguments. Thomas Jefferson could have used Aquinas’s arguments.

      • 1) A first mover, 2) An uncaused cause, 3) Without something there would be nothing

        Firstly it is warped logic to say that there must be a beginning to these; a first mover, cause and something, and that at that beginning there must be god. Why is god exempt from Aquinas’s reasoning? I fail to see how anyone can say ‘there must have been a first mover, god, because nothing thereafter could have moved without it’ because who moved god then? It simply spirals on forever with each first mover, first cause and first something requiring a previous first. God must have had his god, God’s god had a god and God’s god’s god had a god.and so on.

        Also, why is god the only possible terminus to these? Why can this supposedly required first not be something entirely unlike god? Why must this first be an entity, capable of design, capable of seeing and controlling everything, of caring about humans? Why must it be any god, let alone the Christian one?

        The only reason a religious idea of god is pasted here is because of people’s bias faith that this is where he fits, no evidence, no reasoning, just faith and bias!

        4) There must be a perfect being.

        By this logic we should be able to take anything and assume a maximum and minimum end point must exist for it. I particularly enjoy Dawkins pot stirring with his analogy so shall use it ‘’people vary in smelliness but we can make the comparison only by reference to a perfect maximum of conceivable smelliness. Therefore there must exist a pre-eminently peerless stinker, and we call him God’’ To label the maximum or minimum endpoint of something with the term God is not a proof of such a being existing. Some things are more of less salty and thus there must be a max. and min. salty being, let’s call him god. This just proves that a sodium crystal must in fact be God!

        Again, assuming the argument was true and such a being existed aka god, salt, whatever, why on earth should we necessarily attribute to this being all the extras we give to god; caring for humans, running a heaven, omnipotence…we’ve just bolted those on!

        5) There must be a designer.

        Just because something looks designed doesn’t mean it is. Living organisms, the Earth, the universe, why on earth must they be designed? A simple set of universal laws shaped matter into a complex universe and within that universe evolution has shaped organisms. Design was not needed anywhere.

        Once again, even if we assume things must have been designed and thus god exists, who designed god? If nobody designed god then we need not have a designer at all. And again, even assuming this designer exists, why do we attribute all of our ‘optional extras’ to him?

        • Yep. Looks like classic God Delusion stuff. Honestly Chris, you haven’t even made me blink here. Aquinas’s arguments assume you have a good understanding of Aristotlean metaphysics. You don’t. Neither definitely does Dawkins.

          Chris: 1) A first mover,

          Reply: Actually, not entirely. Aquinas’s argument in the first way would work entirely with an eternal universe. The argument is vertical, nor horizontal. (Craig’s is horizontal which is why I don’t think it works.) For instance, in Q. 46 Art. 2 of the Prima Pars of the Summa, Aquinas says we cannot know by reason alone if the universe had a beginning. In all of the five ways, he’s using reason alone. So in what way is there a first?

          First not in chronology, but in ontology. Picture if you will a conveyor belt. Use an escalator at the mall as an example. The escalator is a conveyor belt covered with little patches that people can stand on that keep going forward and forward. Which patch is first? Nonsense question. If you remove a patch, someone will avoid that spot, but the rest can move just fine. Remove the belt itself however, and no patch will be moving. The belt is the first cause in ontology in this case and it could have been there for all eternity and still be the first cause.

          Chris: 2) An uncaused cause,

          Reply: No. Way #2 relies on the distinction between essence and existence to get to its point. Do you know that distinction?

          Chris: 3) Without something there would be nothing

          Reply: This also isn’t the case. This is the contingency argument. It’s saying that if everything was contingent, at one point there would eventually be nothing. If all states were simply possible, then there would at one time be a possible state where there was nothing.

          Chris: Firstly it is warped logic to say that there must be a beginning to these; a first mover, cause and something, and that at that beginning there must be god. Why is god exempt from Aquinas’s reasoning? I fail to see how anyone can say ‘there must have been a first mover, god, because nothing thereafter could have moved without it’ because who moved god then?

          Reply: I’ll go ahead and explain a lot here. Motion in the Thomistic sense does not refer to something like, say, moving your car from one parking spot to another. That motion includes it, but it doesn’t limit itself to that. For instance, in Aquinas’s system, angels have motion, but angels are not material. It is irrelevant to say you don’t believe in angels. Aquinas does and he knows they’re not material but knows they are in motion. Therefore, motion is not limited to material reality in Aquinas’s argument.

          So what is motion? Motion is the change from potentiality to actuality. Actuality is what things are now. In actuality as I write this, I am sitting. If I decide to stand right, I am activating a potential to stand. If I do that, then in actuality, I would be standing and I would have the potential to sit, jump, lie down, etc.

          Note that Aquinas is also talking about receiving motion. This is what we call passive potential. If something has passive potential, then it is receiving motion. Why could there not be a chain of endless receivers? Because this is an infinite regress per re instead of of per accidens.

          My wife and I have no children now. Both of our parents are still alive. Let’s suppose that today, both of our parents died in horrible car accidents. Could we still have children? Absolutely. Our ability to perform does not depend causally at this point on the existence of our parents. Aquinas in fact thinks a regress like that is possible. That’s why he would not agree with Craig’s argument.

          Then there is per re and this is not possible. In this regress, the later items in the chain stand in causal dependence on the first. Aquinas uses a hand pushing a stick which in turn pushes a rock. Remove the hand and the rock no longer moves. The hand is the efficient cause. The stick is the instrumental cause. If you remove the efficient cause, then all you have are instrumental causes, and those causes do not work on their own.

          Why does it end in God? Because everything that is material has potentiality to it. If it has potential, then it is part of the chain and must be explained. What does end the chain? Something that has no passive potential but is pure actuality. It can bring about change, but it cannot itself receive change. God is that. God is the cause of motion in all other things but is not moved by anything else.

          Chris: It simply spirals on forever with each first mover, first cause and first something requiring a previous first. God must have had his god, God’s god had a god and God’s god’s god had a god.and so on.

          Reply: This is nonsense. If something is pure actuality, then there can be nothing greater than it is. Otherwise, it would have a potential in its ontology that it was lacking in.

          Chris: Also, why is god the only possible terminus to these? Why can this supposedly required first not be something entirely unlike god? Why must this first be an entity, capable of design, capable of seeing and controlling everything, of caring about humans? Why must it be any god, let alone the Christian one?

          Reply: It does not have to be the Christian God. It must be some being that is immaterial since that being has no potential and it must be some being that is pure actuality. Now if you can think of something else that qualifies besides God, please feel free to show it.

          Chris: The only reason a religious idea of god is pasted here is because of people’s bias faith that this is where he fits, no evidence, no reasoning, just faith and bias!

          Reply: The only reason you avoid God in this argument is you don’t like the conclusion. No evidence. No reasoning. Just faith and bias in naturalism! See? I can play this game too!

          Chris: 4) There must be a perfect being.

          By this logic we should be able to take anything and assume a maximum and minimum end point must exist for it. I particularly enjoy Dawkins pot stirring with his analogy so shall use it ‘’people vary in smelliness but we can make the comparison only by reference to a perfect maximum of conceivable smelliness. Therefore there must exist a pre-eminently peerless stinker, and we call him God’’

          Reply: And Dawkins is ignorant of the language Aquinas is using. Aquinas is talking about the transcendentals. These are properties that all beings possess by virtue of being beings. Rocks have it. Plants have it. Planets have it. Water has it. Birds have it. Fish have it. Humans have it. Angels have it. Yet if there is gradation in the scale, there must be a maximum. This is what we call in Aristotlean thought, the exemplar cause.

          Chris: To label the maximum or minimum endpoint of something with the term God is not a proof of such a being existing. Some things are more of less salty and thus there must be a max. and min. salty being, let’s call him god. This just proves that a sodium crystal must in fact be God!

          Again, assuming the argument was true and such a being existed aka god, salt, whatever, why on earth should we necessarily attribute to this being all the extras we give to god; caring for humans, running a heaven, omnipotence…we’ve just bolted those on!

          Reply: Because we’re talking about transcendentals and these are such ideas as goodness, truth, beauty, one, thing, etc. The medievals were very clear on what the transcendentals were. Being was the big one. If there are degrees of being, there must be a supreme source of being.

          Chris: 5) There must be a designer.

          Just because something looks designed doesn’t mean it is. Living organisms, the Earth, the universe, why on earth must they be designed? A simple set of universal laws shaped matter into a complex universe and within that universe evolution has shaped organisms. Design was not needed anywhere.

          Reply: Yep. Dawkins again does not understand this argument. This is not modern ID. In fact, most Thomists don’t really care for the ID movement. It simply has a mechanistic universe. What it is is saying there is a causal connection regularly between A and B. Suppose you have an iceberg floating through the water. Wherever it goes, within a certain sphere, the water around it is colder. That is all that Aquinas needs. It’s teleology. It’s the idea that things work towards reaching a goal, which by the way is in fact what evolutionary theory teaches. It teaches us that things seek to survive and pass on their genes to the next generation. Evolution is entirely teleological. In fact, Aquinas would see it as a great proof of his theory.

          Since there is this regular connection between events and this includes agents that aren’t intelligent in themselves, Aquinas says there must be an intelligence outside that is directing and this is God.

          Chris: Once again, even if we assume things must have been designed and thus god exists, who designed god? If nobody designed god then we need not have a designer at all. And again, even assuming this designer exists, why do we attribute all of our ‘optional extras’ to him?

          Reply: Yep. Dawkins’s lame-o 747 argument. You see, if Dawkins had read past the five ways of Aquinas (Which would be a stretch since I’m convinced he never even read them) he would have seen the next chapter is on God’s simplicity. Complexity refers to things that are composed of parts. Material objects all qualify since such objects consist of matter + essence + existence. Angels also qualify for while angels have no matter, each angel has a form and that form is given existence so they have essence + existence. God alone is absolutely simple. God can be described as simply being without limits. He has no parts and therefore since He has no parts, has no need of a designer.

          Wanna try again?

          • Wanna try again?

            Indeed, but I’ll keep it short by once again demonstrating that none of this scholarly pompousness is required (it is simply an ego trip, the intellectual equivalent of ‘how big is my penis’) by again asking a simple question; Why, even assuming these to be true, can we just arbitrarily decide to bolt on that god; cares for humans, listens to prayers, is omnipotent, even necessarily still exists etc.? You tried to answer my question originally by saying ”it (god) simply has to be immaterial”, but that doesn’t explain why we do add all the extras. It is this act of forcing these extras on to this being that fundamentally undermines the whole thing because it reveals bias and faith.

            I ACCEPT GOD AS A HYPOTHESIS!!! Please stop saying that I don’t, I must have told you I do 4 or 5 times. My problem with this god is that even if Aquinas’s proofs were true it matters not, we don’t just have a god hypothesis we have a god who we’ve ‘decorated’ with all kinds of things that we cannot possibly justify. These things are predetermined by bias faith.

            I have always said that when a theist wants to discuss a general god without all the trimmings I will do so. I have yet to find such a person.

          • Chris: Indeed, but I’ll keep it short by once again demonstrating that none of this scholarly pompousness is required (it is simply an ego trip, the intellectual equivalent of ‘how big is my penis’)

            Reply: No. It’s a truth trip. I happen to care about true information. I’m sorry to hear that you don’t and the thought of actually reading scholarship is to you akin to Dracula crossing a running river.

            Chris: by again asking a simple question; Why, even assuming these to be true, can we just arbitrarily decide to bolt on that god; cares for humans, listens to prayers, is omnipotent, even necessarily still exists etc.?

            REply: The only ones we can add in there necessarily are omnipotence and necessarily still exists. Why omnipotence? Because if God is being without limits and is pure actuality, then that also includes power without limits. Why does He necessarily exist? Because if He has no potential, then He cannot change and going out of existence would be a change. If His nature is being, it is impossible for Him to not be.

            The other things He is not by nature, but He is as a result of His nature. God is not “Lord” by nature, for instance, because there is no other being necessarily in existence for Him to be Lord over, but once He creates something, He is Lord because of His nature. That God does the other things is because He is, however, necessarily good.

            This is further proof Dawkins did not read Aquinas. After Aquinas argues for God’s existence, He uses reason to argue for the rest of the divine attributes.

            Chris: You tried to answer my question originally by saying ”it (god) simply has to be immaterial”, but that doesn’t explain why we do add all the extras. It is this act of forcing these extras on to this being that fundamentally undermines the whole thing because it reveals bias and faith.

            Reply: No. It’s because some of those are not necessary to the argument. All the argument does is establish the existence of a deity. You have not argued against that concept. You’ve just said “Well what about this?”

            Chris: I ACCEPT GOD AS A HYPOTHESIS!!! Please stop saying that I don’t, I must have told you I do 4 or 5 times. My problem with this god is that even if Aquinas’s proofs were true it matters not, we don’t just have a god hypothesis we have a god who we’ve ‘decorated’ with all kinds of things that we cannot possibly justify. These things are predetermined by bias faith.

            Reply: Those things you spoke of that I made comments about are also things that Aquinas does not argue for. Why fault Aquinas’s argument for arguing for something it does not argue for? Just look at it and ask the basic conclusion? Does he establish a being of pure actuality?

            Chris: I have always said that when a theist wants to discuss a general god without all the trimmings I will do so. I have yet to find such a person.

            Reply: You have here. I fully accept some things are known by revelation alone. That’s the necessary but not sufficient criteria. You cannot make an argument from reason alone and arrive at the Trinity for instance, but you can use reason to defend the Trinity. The Trinity is compatible as well with the Thomistic arguments given above. Allah is also compatible with them. Deism is compatible with them. All that it seeks to establish is a being of pure actuality. Nothing more. Nothing less.

            So that’s the question to ask. Has Aquinas demonstrated that?

  56. - Reply to Jorge

    I readily admit life has no wider meaning. The logical proof you seek is that I do not NEED the universe to give me meaning in order to live. A dog doesn’t need its owner to attribute a meaning to it, as a pet; if that meaning was then taken away I find it hard to imagine the dog would simply decide to throw itself off a bridge. Just because we do not have a designer, master, creator attributing a meaning to us doesn’t mean we de facto should end our lives. Without meaning things are still capable of living and most things would choose to do so…yourself excluded! I choose to keep on living because I actually quite enjoy it.

    Could people be evil, yup, could they be good, yup. Most people are driven by their Darwinistic urges for survival and reproduction, they can’t help it. I personally derive more satisfaction and believe my chances of survival and reproduction is far greater by being a good person. However, I could be evil if I wanted; the consequences in terms of the universe would be nothing but the consequences on my Darwinistic desires to survive and reproduce would likely be severe. Either way, as you say, it is all ephemeral in the end but so what? If you drink from a puddle in a desert and that then ultimately evaporates did you feel any less refreshed at the time? No. Life is the same; it matters not what ultimately happens, what matters is now, and what happens now is driven by our Darwinistic traits.

    One million years in the future everything I’ve strived for will be gone, I’m not exactly thrilled with that but I can’t help it. I’m driven by my biology in the here and now and that’s just the way I am. Does it mean I’m going to kill myself? No. Because the simple fact is, I’m here, now, and that’s what matters to me; I’m going to make the most of it. It doesn’t matter if the puddle evaporates in the end, I’m going to enjoy drinking from it whilst it’s around!

    • “I readily admit life has no wider meaning.”
      ************************
      That is what your worldview – your religion – leads to and that is why such a life is “pathetic”.

      ” The logical proof you seek is that I do not NEED the universe to give me meaning in order to live.” …
      … “Most people are driven by their Darwinistic urges for survival and reproduction, they can’t help it.” …
      … “what matters is now, and what happens now is driven by our Darwinistic traits.”
      ************************
      Let’s not make this more complicated than it is. Subtract real meaning from life and there is but one logical alternative: END IT! To prolong it is irrational (which is what most humans have become).

      To experience a fleeting cosmic ‘instant’ (which is what life is under your worldview) and to think that in that ‘instant’ we are obligated to be kind, faithful, caring and so on is totally illogical. Without real, eternal consequences then you, Hitler, Jack the Ripper and Gandhi are on equal footing regardless of what you do or don’t do.

      BOTTOM LINE: your religion would have people choose to live solely for the ‘instant’ – for the “now” – since that’s all you have. Only by behaving irrationally can you justify trying to be “good”. Hitler would be equally justified in his atrocities.

      Look at it like this: suppose you could rob a bank and take $50 million with a 100% ironclad guarantee that you will never be caught in your lifetime. Would you do it – would you “sip from that puddle”? The answer to that question will demonstrate the irrational position that you are presently in.

      Christ, on the other hand, would have us live for *eternity* – that’s what we have. The fleeting “now” is of little importance for me personally, it’s value is determined only as an instrument of service to Him.

      So, you live for a “now” that is as fleeting as a morning mist; we live for something that will outlast time itself. No contest.

      • ‘’to think that in that ‘instant’ we are obligated to be kind, faithful, caring and so on is totally illogical.’’ I never said we were obligated, in fact I said the opposite, If you’d read what I wrote you’d know that.

        ‘’you, Hitler, Jack the Ripper and Gandhi are on equal footing regardless of what you do or don’t do. ‘’ Indeed we are, so what?

        ‘’your religion would have people choose to live solely for the ‘instant’ – for the “now” – since that’s all you have. Only by behaving irrationally can you justify trying to be “good”.’’ Again, if you’d read what I said you’d know that I do suggest that you live for the now because now is when you’re alive…duh! Again, if you’d read my response I explained that the reason people tend to do good is that this is usually seen as the most beneficial course to take in terms of benefiting us Darwinistically.

        ‘’Look at it like this: suppose you could rob a bank and take $50 million with a 100% ironclad guarantee that you will never be caught in your lifetime. Would you do it – would you “sip from that puddle”? The answer to that question will demonstrate the irrational position that you are presently in.’’ AGAIN, as explained before, the reason I don’t do ‘bad’ things is because I don’t think it will benefit me Darwinistically. If I could nick £50 million scot free I’d do it in a heartbeat because it wouldn’t affect me negatively.

        • “I never said we were obligated, in fact I said the opposite, If you’d read what I wrote you’d know that.”
          REPLY: I did read what you wrote … I was merely placing an exclamation point on it. (see below …)

          “Indeed we are, so what?”
          REPLY: You make it too easy … you’ve just conceded the debate.

          Your next posted statement (following the one above) further accentuates the point. Again, I wish you’d make it at least somewhat challenging.

          “AGAIN, as explained before, the reason I don’t do ‘bad’ things is because I don’t think it will benefit me Darwinistically. If I could nick £50 million scot free I’d do it in a heartbeat because it wouldn’t affect me negatively.”
          REPLY: No need for the “AGAIN” as I never once missed what you wrote – I was merely emphasizing, that’s all. Here, for example, you prove my point yet again. To wit: you would “do it in a heartbeat” because in your worldview there IS such a thing as doing wrong and getting away with it. IOW, the only reason why you don’t do it is because of the here-and-now potential consequences — eliminate those consequences and you’d rape, kill and pillage as long as it benefited you positively and not negatively in any way.

          Geesh – that’s freaking scary! I’m glad that an ocean separates us. On the other hand, there are plenty of others like you right here so there’s really no escape. :-(

          Here’s MY answer to the same scenario: There is no such thing as getting away with doing wrong (we call it “sin”) because there is One that sees all and knows all. If I could steal $50 million with an ironclad 100% assurance that I would never be caught in my lifetime I would *NOT* do it because I know full well that I HAVE been “caught” – God knows what I did and from Him there is no escape. What does it benefit me to enjoy those $50 million for an ‘instant’ here on Earth and then to pay for that ‘instant’ of “pleasure” with an eternity of punishment? That would be an insanely stupid tradeoff to make – yet it is a tradeoff that is made by many of the homo sapiens species.

          Given that I now have a fairly good idea of where you stand – certainly beyond any help that I can provide – I will wish you a pleasant day and say, adios. Feel free to have the final word.

          • I’m not sure you are thinking with logic and reason as you claim. By stating that I am, to the universe, on the same playing field as Hitler, JTR and Gandhi does not in any sense concede the debate. You must be confused somewhere along the line? In no way am I contradicting or disagreeing with anything that I’ve said; I’m just not sure how I’ve conceded.

            All you are doing is claiming that there is only one explanation for moral behaviour…god! That’s because you believe that the only thing stopping you from doing bad things is the consequences that god will provide i.e. hell. I’m saying that the only reason I don’t do bad is the consequences that that will have on my happiness, ability to procreate and likelihood of survival to pass on my genes (Darwinistic behavior). Why, because my consequences are Darwinistic and yours are Theistic, does that mean your stance is de facto true?

            I too have a good idea where you stand, a literalist Christian from my original post. It’s like trying to convince a granite that it’s a sandstone when really it’s a granite…it doesn’t think so don’t bother! If you can’t provide logical arguments but instead just reel out dogma then I may as well just band my head against a brick wall for all the chance I stand of making you engage your brain. A lost cause is a lost cause, que sera sera.

          • I aways get a kick out of the idea of conceding a debate. Debates do not construct to a consensus.
            Debates are intellectual boxing matches where all parties and their supporters claim victory.

            It’s rather humorous.

            Fact is, biases are running high here.
            The laughable biased premise of Aquinas voids his 5 arguments.
            His arguments are indeed incredibly logical, within the circle of his premises.

            I could also argue with great logic the story of Little Red Riding Hood, and even show the morals this story conveys… but it’s a fantasy. Nothing could corroborate the story aside from evidence.
            I could point to wolves, Red Hoods in a catalogue, how a lumberjack could indeed kill a wolf… but all those are just glued on water. Mo solid basis to obligating the conclusion Aquinas makes.

            I will only concede this: I’m wasting my time here.

            Have fun, y’all.

  57. Recent Twitter Experiment: Passion or Paranoid?

    I gave myself 24 hours to conduct an experiment in which I would tweet a controversial statement that was previously made in a private conversation. I wanted to test my theory that “internet Atheists” were paranoid based on a young age, lack of knowledge and respect, and trolling mentality. I wanted to know, “Age, Theistic Belief, degree of content, and followers vs. Troll ration”

    My Findings are:
    Age: 20-30’s.
    Theistic Belief: 20 + Atheists and 0 Theist.
    Degree of context: Low (name calling, improper English, arguing semantics, and repetition of “There is no evidence for God.”)
    Followers/Trolls: 0/30

    I am picturing an uneducated and jobless 20 year old sitting at their computer in their boxers with Cheetos as they troll around “seeking whom they may devour.” All in all, this article is spot on and probably one of my favorites… even if it was last year!

    • I’m interested to examine the validity of the results: What was the statement? Where did you place it?

      I have a Masters, but I do like Cheetos!

  58. - Reply to Nick Peters

    No, Aquinas has not established a being of pure actuality. Essence does not necessitate existence.

    Even if essence did necessitate a god, this god by no means is necessarily good, forgiving, loving etc. I do not accept that Aquinas’s demonstrates this.

    Even if Aquinas’s ideas were true the Christian trimmings given to this being are superfluous and demonstrate faith and bias.

    Even if we assumed this being existed, which I don’t believe can be demonstrated, it could be attributed to any number of existing and non-existing religions (which I should say I am pleased to hear you admit). To attribute this being to each person’s pre-determined faith based on upbringing, geography and place in history seems beyond a coincidence. Again it reveals faith and bias.

    I don’t agree Aquinas proves the necessity of a being of pure actuality and even if I did this being shouldn’t be shoehorned by our personal bias.

    • Chris: No, Aquinas has not established a being of pure actuality. Essence does not necessitate existence.

      Reply: No one is saying that it does. Could you please try to get the arguments right? Aquinas would agree there is unicorn essence, but that does not mean there are unicorns.

      Chris: Even if essence did necessitate a god, this god by no means is necessarily good, forgiving, loving etc. I do not accept that Aquinas’s demonstrates this.

      Reply: Here you’re saying you want to discuss theism without the add-ons. You’re the only one bringing up add-ons.

      Chris: Even if Aquinas’s ideas were true the Christian trimmings given to this being are superfluous and demonstrate faith and bias.

      Reply: We’re talking about general theism and as for goodness, that is the only aspect that Aquinas accepts by reason alone the same way Aristotle did.

      Chris: Even if we assumed this being existed, which I don’t believe can be demonstrated, it could be attributed to any number of existing and non-existing religions (which I should say I am pleased to hear you admit). To attribute this being to each person’s pre-determined faith based on upbringing, geography and place in history seems beyond a coincidence. Again it reveals faith and bias.

      Reply: This is incredible. First you say that you won’t dialogue unless someone is willing to say the argument doesn’t establish a particular religion, then you fault the argument for not establishing a particular religion.

      Chris: I don’t agree Aquinas proves the necessity of a being of pure actuality and even if I did this being shouldn’t be shoehorned by our personal bias.

      Reply: Then go with the first way since all the ways are extensive in themselves. What is the flaw in the first way?

  59. ”I will only concede this: I’m wasting my time here”

    Unfortunately Mr. Deporter is correct and as sad as it is, I must do the same.

  60. Interesting question up above (from someone who has left the conversation as I understand it) about morality. If you could steal a fortune knowing you would never get caught, would you? I think it’s supposed to imply that morality is just about personal consequences I didn’t follow the whole debate because the argument seemed to stand by itself–I learned from old Abbot and Costello movies never to try and keep your eye on the shells. True, morality is just about personal consequences if you don’t believe in anything beyond personal consequences, but that doesn’t show nobody can be moral based on beliefs. I would ask where the fifty million pounds came from because I believe the world matters beyond me. If it were taken from someone I really despise, I would take it. If it were taken from someone I admire, I would leave it with them. Beliefs can cause moralities of all kinds, even if they are delusional beliefs.

    Also, I have a thought about all the negativity about Wikipedia scholarship (that is, learning from Wikipedia and sources it leads to). Stuff that’s obscure is obscure for a reason, like the inner workings of your computer. The executive summary is usually the most important part anyway. Of course, professionals always make the case for how important they are, thus philosophers would want to play up importance of the details of the abstruse underpinnings.

    I also like what the owner of the site said above about distinguishing Theism from specific trappings of Christianity. That’s one of the most frustrating things about all the Christians and Atheists, both agreeing that you have to be one or the other, like secret confederates. it strengthens my opposition to both.

    And Google (or my case Bing) ain’t all bad. It brought me here (I heard on NPR about an upcoming program about the theology of the multiverse. This isn’t related to that but looks interesting. )

    Oh, and there were some attempts to prove things by logic.
    Logic can only disprove: you can show ideas to be self contradictory or self supported. At best, logic can fail to disprove, leaving the question open pending evidence (which merely rules out anything inconsistent with the evidence). It’s one of the ways of arriving at the last proposition standing. The only real way to truth is the process of elimination.

    Yeah, those internet atheists.

    • Actually, I agree with Robert that logic cannot prove. It cannot demonstrate something to be true, but it can demonstrate something to be false.

      As for morality, I argue for goodness prior to God and see God as the perfect exemplar of goodness.

    • ROBERT SOUTH : “Interesting question up above (from someone who has left the conversation as I understand it) about morality.”

      MY RESPONSE: There was not much sense to continue the discussion – that’s why I “left”.

      Chris Robson wrote to me: “AGAIN, as explained before, the reason I don’t do ‘bad’ things is because I don’t think it will benefit me Darwinistically. If I could nick £50 million scot free I’d do it in a heartbeat because it wouldn’t affect me negatively.”

      That was from an Atheist (Robson) in response to my hypothetical scenario. It’s a response that I’ve seen numerous times and I believe that it displays what Atheists call “morality”. Atheists are “good” to others for no other reason than because they fear reprisal here on Earth. Take that away and they would, generally speaking, rape, plunder and kill to their heart’s content.

      Christian morality, on the other hand, is (should be!!!) based on an immutable absolute: on LOVE for their Creator, not on fear of reprisal. When I, as a Christian, “fail” morally — an event that we call “sin” – I know that there is NO CHANCE of “getting away with it” (because of God’s omniscience). In such cases I grieve and feel guilt because in it I have failed the One that I love and that loved me in spite of my wretchedness.

      Thus, it is my love for God is that keeps me in check, not my fear of Him. And when I do fail (i.e., sin), I realize that THAT was the sin that God sent Jesus to pay for. I am as guilty as those that crucified Christ, deserve death, yet am saved by grace and grace alone. Much that I do merits my condemnation yet nothing that I can do merits my salvation.

      Such things are a total mystery to the Atheist and they are incapable of understanding them. It’s like trying to explain advanced calculus to a toddler. That’s why I “left” the discussion.

  61. Re Chris Robson’s post of Feb 20th.
    Evolved drives are not an immutable given that all else must revolve around.

    Initially, in life, we naturally are confronted with the task of learning what is. The
    vast majority allow that initial task to prejudice them: they think for the rest of their
    lives that existence is static, and that once you learn the obvious about it you are done.
    In addition to learning about the world, we fall into something to believe about it.

    But what exists is only the tip of the iceberg of what COULD be. The second order level of
    exploration, one few get to due to the effect of original orientation, is into
    the set of things that might be, and indeed these possibilities can be said to have existence also.
    That question itself is grist for much philosophy, but beyond it lies the challenge of comparing
    sets of potentials. This has nothing to do with relationships with cattle or family members.
    It has to do with the shape of reality.

    And a million years from now, all you have done will not be gone. Your impact will be there, if not in recognizable form.

  62. “That was from an Atheist (Robson) in response to my hypothetical scenario. It’s a response that I’ve seen numerous times and I believe that it displays what Atheists call “morality”. Atheists are “good” to others for no other reason than because they fear reprisal here on Earth. Take that away and they would, generally speaking, rape, plunder and kill to their heart’s content.”

    Jorge, I’m sorry to have to disagree with you in this but, with respect, in my experience as both a Christian and an agnostic, I don’t find the motivation for people doing “good” things or helping others to be particularly different in either group. A Christian might very well do something they don’t want to do based on their love for God and an atheist may very well do some things primarily based on the Golden Rule or because someone helped them in the past but, again in my experience, most people who help others do so because they see a need. How often that happens varies widely in everyone, believers and non. What I experience far more often is people in opposing groups explaining exactly why the other group does what they do and why their own reasons are superior. I’m struck by this idea that without a punitive authority or love for God, humanity is incapable of rising above barbaric savagery. I sympathize because that’s what I was taught and the incongruity between what I was told about both believers and unbelievers and what I experienced first hand in my dealings with various people over the years is what started my exmination my beliefs. Eventually I came to see that much of what I’d been taught about people was comparable to the teaching that heavier objects fall more quickly because a venerated person said it and it was accepted and passed on for 1000 years e. When I went to find out for myself, I found it wasn’t accurate.

    “Such things are a total mystery to the Atheist and they are incapable of understanding them. It’s like trying to explain advanced calculus to a toddler. That’s why I “left” the discussion.”

    There’s an unfortunate element in many of us which seeks to promote our own point of view by denigrating others. I know that various figures through out history have promoted the inability of the “the others” to grasp “the truth” but with all due respect, there’s nothing mysterious about this concept. It’s quintisentially human. To misquote Russell Crow from “3:10 to Yuma”, “Even Atheists love their Mama’s”. Our views and behaviors are affected our relationships and by the love we feel for others as well as their love for us. I know that many people teach that unbelievers can’t possibly understand Christianity but I came to discover that this simply isn’t true, despite Paul’s insistence as to the contrary. I came to see that this idea was simply a wall that well meaning people constructed in order to protect what they viewed as the fragile faith that the Devil was seeking to destroy. One way to explain an unbeliever’s lack of faith might be to say that simply can’t or won’t make the leap of faith required to tip the balance towards Christianity but to claim that an atheist is as incapable of understanding thinking and acting in response to love is like a toddler trying to grasp higher mathmatics is, and I’m sorry to have to say this, fundamentally incorrect and profoundly insulting.

    • “Jorge, I’m sorry to have to disagree with you in this but, with respect, in my experience as both a Christian and an agnostic, I don’t find the motivation for people doing “good” things or helping others to be particularly different in either group.”
      *************************************
      Perfectly all right to disagree – you are entitled to your views be they right or wrong. My experience is that there is no way to equate the two motivations as you claim here. One is self-centered while the other is God-centered — it couldn’t be any different if you tried. This is not to say that Christians have completely abandoned self-interest — sin and the flesh continues to be a thorn in our lives (we are *forgiven*, we are not sinless/perfect). This is also not to say that Atheists are incapable of behaving in a “good and moral” way — they certainly may. That said, whatever “good” I do is *because* of God and for God (I may benefit, but I am not the ultimate cause of said good). On the other hand, whatever evil (sin) I do it is because of *my* carnal self. In other words, I must oppose God (albeit temporarily) whenever I do “no good” (i.e., sin). I am subject to an Absolute Standard (i.e., God) of right and wrong. No Atheist would ever pronounce such words. The Atheist would say that (1) (s)he is the source of all good that (s)he does and, (2) there is no “sin” … right and wrong are relative terms – not absolute – that depend on culture and circumstances. Like the (Atheist) guy that posted to me, if he could steal a huge sum of money and “get away with”, he’d do it in a heartbeat. No Christian worth his salt would ever make such a statement.
      .
      .
      “There’s an unfortunate element in many of us which seeks to promote our own point of view by denigrating others.”
      ****************************************************************
      Many / most people find the truth offensive and hence feel “denigrated” at hearing someone else pronounce any truths. I try never to promote *MY* point of view but rather to promote GOD’s point of view – His Word. It is God, not I, who says that the Godless are unable to understand these things. See, e.g., 2 Corinthians 4:3,4 … 1 Corinthians 2:10-16 … just to name a few verses.

      My statement, “Such things are a total mystery to the Atheist and they are incapable of understanding them. It’s like trying to explain advanced calculus to a toddler.” is merely an expression of what GOD has said, not “my views”.

  63. Jorge,
    Thanks for sharing your views. In contemplating my response I went back and read your previous posts. I’d forgotten the contempt in which you hold non-believers and their positions or I wouldn’t have wasted both our time in commenting. Very helpful processing it though. You’re like a B.F. Skinner of Christianity. Exposure to the most extreme beliefs can often help in clarifying others. Thanks again for your time. Dave Meyr

    • “In contemplating my response I went back and read your previous posts. I’d forgotten the contempt in which you hold non-believers and their positions or I wouldn’t have wasted both our time in commenting.”
      ************************************************************************
      “Contempt”? Is “contempt” what you wish to perceive? I can’t stop you from perceiving or thinking whatever you wish. However, I can set the record straight.

      I do not hold people in “contempt”. What I hold in contempt are things such as evil and half-baked notions and irrationality and logical fallacies and dishonesty and other similar things. I’m sure that you’ve heard this before: ‘Hate the sin, love the sinner.”

      I’ve informally debated Atheists/Humanists and other religious persuasions (e.g., Theistic Evolutionists and Progressive Creationists) for a very long time and a trademark of each and every one of my opponents has always been one or more of the attributes listed in the previous paragraph. *THAT* is what I hold in contempt. For instance, the vast majority of Atheists (darn near all) refuse to acknowledge that theirs is a RELIGIOUS position every bit as religious as the most fervent Christian and every bit as lacking a solid foundation as the beliefs of the Snake Worshipers of Bali.

      There is no “contempt” towards the *person*. The only desire is to serve as an instrument to help lead the lost out of lies and towards the truth so that they do not remain lost into eternity. At the same time I do not fool myself, I know that some people cannot be helped by anyone. This is so for a variety of reasons: pride, arrogance, a willful decision to reject truth and serve darkness, and so on. So I just do my best and move on.

      It was important for me to provide you with at least the above clarification lest you remain in your erroneous beliefs. Now you know better. What you do from this point forward is up to you.
      .
      .
      .
      “Very helpful processing it though. You’re like a B.F. Skinner of Christianity. Exposure to the most extreme beliefs can often help in clarifying others. Thanks again for your time. Dave Meyr”
      ****************************************************************
      Hmmm … “… a B.F. Skinner of Christianity”. Now there’s one that’s never been tossed at me.
      ‘Seek and ye shall find’, Dave.

      Jorge

  64. I agree that there is a problem with a lot of internet atheists and the majority of atheist communities. I am atheist, but at the same time, I feel disgraced at the behavior of a lot of the atheists that become famous and well known. I imagine this is similar to how Christians feel when televangelists say awful things. More than anything I am a nonconformist. I think that when groups become large, there is a certain peer pressure that ruins the morality of people.

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