Why Atheists Don’t Really Exist

Confirmation bias is the tendency to ascribe greater significance to information that supports our pre-existing theories and lesser significance to information that contradicts those theories. We often do this subconsciously. For example you get a new car, and now you notice that same type of car on the road with a much greater frequency than you had noticed before. But though confirmation bias generally refers to the inclusion or exclusion of data, there are other ways we can shoehorn the obvious to make it fit within our world view.

Last month, in The Atlantic, Matthew Hutson wrote a fascinating article, “The Science of Superstition: No One Is Immune to Magical Thinking.” Actually as an article it’s really not that fascinating, but as an illustration of the mental contortions one must make to defend atheism, it is Olympic. Hutson cited a number of studies that demonstrated that “…even physicists, chemists and geologists at MIT and other elite schools were instinctively inclined to attach a purpose to natural events.” Hutson illustrates the point through research that subjected scientists to time pressure, thereby getting a more honest, reflexive response to questions rather than a response filtered through reflection and vetted for consistency with conscious beliefs. They were asked whether they approved of statements, such as, “Trees produce oxygen so that animals can breathe.” When asked under time pressure, scientists were twice as likely to approve of such statements.

Of course modern theories about the evolution of plants and animals posit that the capacity of plants to produce oxygen is merely an accident that just so happens to facilitate the breathing of animals. To say that plants produce oxygen for the purpose of supplying animals would imply design, and therefore God. Physicists, chemists and geologists are very familiar with this reasoning, and yet with a high frequency they assented to statements that placed things within an ordered framework and were implicitly teleological. For Hutson this demonstrates the persistence of “magical thinking.” Here were scientists, most of whom were decidedly non-religious, assenting to statements that implied an architectonic and therefore religious framework.

Skeptics call this patternicity, projecting a pattern where there is none. But for religious thinkers, the persistence of this type of thinking in non-religious scientists is evidence not of a logical lapse, but, of irrepressible natural faith. C.S. Lewis famously said that when he was an atheist he did not believe in God, and he was angry at God for not existing. In his inimitably ironic way, Lewis pointed to the fact that there really are no such things as atheists.

Fr. Robert Barron addresses the common misconceptions about the nature of God that lead so many who worship at the altar of science to deny God exists. According to Fr. Barron, the atheist critique hinges on their mistaken understanding of God as “the supreme instance of the category of being.” Citing St. Thomas Aquinas, Barron argues that this is exactly what God is not. Rather God is ipsum esse subsitens, that is, the subsistent act of being itself. “The sciences in principle cannot eliminate God, because God is not some phenomena in the world.” Scientists and those who consider themselves atheists confine themselves to the material realm which is measurable and testable and are rightly proud of all that has been achieved in that realm, but even the most obstinate materialist cannot help but hear the echoes of truths from beyond the particular and contingent. As Fr. Barron says: “We are constantly struck by the contingency of things (their coming into being and their passing away), but we also have a deep sense of their rootedness in BEING. That’s God. The non-contingent ground of Being.”

But for Hutson and others who are perplexed at the dogged persistence of “magical thinking,” it gets worse. Hutson cites studies that show the persistent belief in God is not merely understood as some distant Deistic First Cause but, rather, of a God who cares, a God who judges and a God who might punish. Deep in our bones we are intrinsically theistic. He writes, “Even atheists seem to fear a higher power. A study published last year found that self-identified nonbelievers began to sweat when reading aloud sentences asking God to do terrible things (‘I dare God to make my parents drown’). Not only that, they stressed out just as much as believers did.”

Further, our revulsion at evil befalling our parents is not merely because they are ours, that is, because it would be unpleasant for us to have them experience evil. Rather, we are, all of us, offended by evil befalling the innocent because we have an innate sense of natural law, of good and bad, right and wrong, that echoes through all that is. We are intensely aware of either harmony or discord with truths far beyond human construction or patternicity, and the ubiquity and immutable persistence of these truths is why atheists must be so cranky and belligerent.

Friedrich Nietzsche railed against the persistent interconnectedness between natural law and belief in God and called for a transvaluation of values. He said essentially that the only way one could be free from belief in God was by identifying all the ethics that are derived from Christianity and turning them upside down—doing the opposite. But the world is forever made new by Christ, and so even for the scientist who plugs his spiritual ears and winces shut his spiritual eyes the leaven of natural law can no more be avoided than can the warmth and light of the sun.

When C.S. Lewis finally made the assent of faith, he wrote that he was perhaps the most miserable convert in all of England. The result was a life’s worth of confirmation bias thrown on the scrapheap. He simply could not resist God’s love. Lewis, of course, was an Oxford Don, an intellectual not unlike Hutson’s scientists from MIT and elsewhere, and like them, he was lost in his one-dimensional intellectual constructs. But these MIT scientists, like Lewis, are met at every turn by the serene truth of God’s existence. In the deeper rumblings of their very selves, where nature speaks through instinct and God speaks through conscience, there are eternal truths that can be avoided for a time but not ultimately denied. The truth is that there are no such things as atheists.

Joe Bissonnette

By

Joe Bissonnette teaches religion and philosophy at Assumption College School in Brantford, Ontario where he lives with his wife and their seven children. He has written for Catholic Insight, The Human Life Review, The Interim, The Catholic Register and The Toronto Star.

  • s;vbkr0boc,klos;

    I pondered the question when I was ten. “Why is there something and not nothing?” and have yet to find a better question to ask the atheist.

    • SnowCherryBlossoms

      Exactly! Who can argue there is no such thing as nothing?

      • Walter

        Didn’t you say that in your first comment?

        • SnowCherryBlossoms

          Oh you remembered! 😉

    • Walter

      Maybe there is no answer.

      • Maybe you define answer as somethng apprehensible, acceptable and palatable.

    • bassbait

      Oh crap I got beat by a ten year old!

    • morgan

      There’s always something. Even in what we perceive as “nothing” contains much.

  • Vinny

    This answers my question; why are atheists always consumed with everything God? If they really didn’t believe in God they’d just go on their way.

    • bassbait

      Have you ever seen a movie that’s so bad, it’s hilarious? The script makes no sense, it’s obvious that all of the effects are fake, etc?

      And then everyone around you is like “oh yea that movie was great the script was so good and the effects were so believable!”

      • Andrew

        You mean a movie like say, “Spinal Tap?”

      • Anthony Zarrella

        Sure, but if you’re truly mature and rational, and if you really do think that the movie is just a bunch of nonsense, then you won’t waste your time and breath trying to “convert” all the movie’s fans to your point of view.

        You know who spends a lot of energy on conversion efforts? Religious believers. Richard Dawkins and his ilk are nothing more than the high priests and televangelists of militant atheist secularism – they have no more (and usually much less) *rational* basis for their Gospel According to Nietzsche than any religion you care to name.

        • Matt McDowall

          Well, we wouldn’t care so much if the religious would keep their beliefs to themselves….but hey, you guys don’t….Do you understand this concept at all???

          • Anthony Zarrella

            Why should we? Why are “religious” ideas uniquely unsuited to be shared in the public arena?

            If you think you have some truth about the way people ought to behave, you share it and try to convince others. It’s just what we do as humans.

            Secular humanists try to convince everyone to live within the framework of secular ethics and “tolerance”; Communists try to convince everyone to abolish private property; Satanists try to convince everyone to “liberate” themselves from moral codes altogether; feminists try to convince everyone to treat women equally (or specially, depending on the feminist); sexual revolutionaries try to convince everyone to not only accept, but celebrate sexual licentiousness… why should Christians be silenced?

            • goodold_lucifer

              Why are “religious” ideas uniquely unsuited to be shared in the public arena?

              They aren’t. It is commonplace, and even popular, for “‘religious’ ideas” to be shared in publicly. They are not reasonable, but they are obviously shareable.

              Since religious ideas are irrational, there is a grave limitation on the ability to share them. That is, since there are no good arguments for religious ideas, it is tough to share them with people who don’t come to the “public arena” already believing them. But you certainly should be free to talk about them to anyone willing to listen.

              • Anthony Zarrella

                OK, well, to the extent that by “free to talk about them” you also mean “free to cast my vote based on them” and “free to support laws and/or candidates based on them,” then you’re about 206.3% more reasonable on the subject than the average atheist I’ve “spoken” with online.

                Obviously we disagree on the overall rationality of religious ideas, and the existence of good arguments for them, but I’m happy to hear support for robust freedom of speech and freedom of religion.

                For the record, I also fully support your legal right to disseminate atheist philosophies in whatever (non-coercive) way you wish, and to support laws that embody atheist principles (to the extent that they do not directly or indirectly compel the abandonment of religious belief or practice).

                • goodold_lucifer

                  … “free to support laws and/or candidates based on [religious ideas],” …

                  In America, the First Amendment prohibits laws based on religious ideas per se. You should be free to practice your religion in only non-coercive ways, and talk about it all you want — but you cannot rightfully force it upon others.

                  (to the extent that they do not directly or indirectly compel the abandonment of religious belief or practice)

                  Political authorities should compel neither the abandonment nor the imposition of religious belief or practice. The government needs to be separated from religion as such. (But the government should not allow religious practitioners to do things such as burning people as witches or beheading them as infidels. Or burning them as infidels or beheading them as politically incorrect. Etc.)

                  • Anthony Zarrella

                    I beg to differ on the First Amendment. It certainly prohibits any law that would create an “official church” or the wholesale adoption of a religious legal code (e.g. Sharia), and it prohibits any law that would make a given religion the *standard* by which a law is administered.

                    However, there is nothing in the First Amendment that says that a facially-neutral law cannot be proposed, debated, and possibly passed just like any other law, merely because its supporters are motivated by religious principles. There merely has to be *some* rational basis, which is a paper-thin test. It doesn’t mean that, all evidence being properly weighted and all philosophies being considered, the law holds up to scrutiny; it merely means that a rational [read: sane] legislator, viewing the evidence *most favorable to the law*, would have *some (non-prohibited) reason* to believe that the law advances *any* permissible governmental objective.

                    So, a law stating, “Violation of the Ten Commandments shall be punishable by…” is prohibited. A law stating, “The law of such-and-such State on issue X shall be identical to the Canon Law of the Catholic Church” is prohibited. A law stating, “All citizens must attend Sunday worship services of their choice” is prohibited.” A law stating, “Church X is exempt from taxation, but Church Y is not” is prohibited.

                    But a law stating “Abortion is illegal” does not violate the First Amendment (let’s ignore the 14th for the moment), even if its supporters want to ban it because they are told by their church that abortion is wrong, as long as there is *some* rationale (such as, “We have read and credited research that shows a link to breast cancer” – *regardless* of whether that research is supported by scientific consensus – or “We do not know whether an unborn baby is a ‘person’ or not, but we are unwilling to take that chance”).

                    A law stating, “Marriage shall consist of one man and one woman” does not violate the First Amendment, even if the *actual* motivation of most or all legislators is religious, as long as some rationale can be found (such as, “We wish to support the procreative and child-rearing functions of marriage” – because under rational basis scrutiny, there does not need to be a perfect fit between the law and the aim, so the fact that some opposite-sex couples do not or cannot procreate doesn’t matter).

                    Actually, even if there is no rational basis, such laws would only offend the 5th or 14th Amendments, not the First.

                    Remember, if atheism, secular humanism, and so forth are “religions” for the purpose of “freedom of religion” then they also have to be “religions” for the purpose of “establishment of religion”, so if it really is prohibited to even have a law *based on* religious convictions, then virtually any law is off-limits.

                    Trust me – with the possible exception of Jefferson, none of the Founding Fathers or Framers would have even *considered* writing or ratifying a Clause that would actually *disfavor* faith. They were concerned with keeping the government from deciding *which* faith people must follow, not with keeping faith from motivating and influencing the actions of public officials.

                    Lastly, I agree that obviously religious freedom does not encompass acts of violence against non-believers (or non-consenting believers, or certain levels of violence even against consenting believers). However, as I said, if you define “imposition of religious … practice” so broadly as to encompass any law whose prohibitory effect happens to line up with the teachings of some religion, then I have to disagree.

                    I welcome further debate.

                    • goodold_lucifer

                      Remember, if atheism, secular humanism, and so forth are “religions” for the purpose of “freedom of religion”…

                      One important point to consider is that atheism, per se, is NOT a religion — as naturalism is not supernaturalism.

                      In this context, atheism can be thought of simply as a lack of religion or lack of theism/supernaturalism. So it would not be possible to base laws (or beliefs) on atheism as such, since there is basically nothing there.

                    • Anthony Zarrella

                      Actually, I’ll concede that one. Atheism, per se, has no belief system *except* belief in the lack of a divine Presence, so no law could be “based on atheism” (at least not without violating the principle we already agreed on, that no one should be prohibited from practicing and promoting their faith).

                      As to any *substantive* non-theistic ideology, however, my point stands.

                    • goodold_lucifer

                      What is an example of a “*substantive* non-theistic ideology”?

                      A good example of “non-theistic ideology” that is held religiously by its followers is what could be called, “The Church of AGW Catastrophe.” But that is decidedly not substantive.

                    • Anthony Zarrella

                      Again, we agree on the details, but not on the principles – I too think the AGW cult is ridiculous.

                      However, again, you’re using really a different meaning than me. By “substantive” I mean “having affirmative beliefs” – i.e. believing *in* something, rather than simply *denying* belief in something. Examples include secular humanism, utilitarianism, etc. In other words, non-theistic ethical/moral codes.

                    • goodold_lucifer

                      Atheism does not have a “substantive affirmative belief *in* God”, but neither does it *deny* belief in God. Atheists are perfectly aware that the world is full of belief in God(s); there is no denying that. To be an atheist is simply to not share any of those theistic beliefs (not to deny them).

                      Okay, I think maybe now I get what you mean by “substantive”: being positive about something, not necessarily right about it. (I was thinking of substantive more in the sense of having a positive correlation to reality — which theism and utilitarianism, for example, both lack.)

                    • Anthony Zarrella

                      I didn’t mean “deny belief in God” as in “deny that belief in God exists” – I meant “deny that belief in God is *true*” So, in that sense, atheists definitely do deny belief in God. I addressed this more thoroughly in my reply to a different comment of yours a few minutes ago.

                      As to substantive, I’m not sure I’d *define* it quite as you are, but you seem to get my point pretty well, so no need to wrangle over it.

                      Also, I agree on utilitarianism being bunk (though I’d be interested to know what your belief system is, given that it is almost literally impossible not to have one, but you seem pretty disdainful of every one you’ve mentioned thus far – just curious!)

                    • goodold_lucifer

                      Trying to catch up.

                      I meant “deny that belief in God is *true*”

                      The proposition that “God exists” is not true. God doesn’t exist no matter how truly felt a belief in God is.

                      But it is certainly true that there exists “belief in God.” Such belief is based entirely on blind faith, not on anything reasonable.

                      And I suppose that “militant atheism” could be looked at as a response to militant theism, since there would be far less reason to talk about the issue if some theists weren’t politicizing it and trying to impose religion by law or force. Then it would just be an academic discussion. But religion, as always, is still a force to be reckoned with.

                    • Anthony Zarrella

                      “The proposition that “God exists” is not true. God doesn’t exist no matter how truly felt a belief in God is.”

                      Well, I certainly agree that God’s existence (or lack thereof, if you insist) is not dependent on belief. You are also correct that the word I was looking for was “proposition” – it’s been a while since I last needed to get into the language of formal logic. However, your statement that the proposition is untrue is merely conclusory. I know full-well that you think it is false – you can stop saying so.

                      “And I suppose that “militant atheism” could be looked at as a response to militant theism, since there would be far less reason to talk about the issue if some theists weren’t politicizing it and trying to impose religion by law or force.”

                      As I said to you in one of our initial exchanges: unless you’re talking about ISIS or similar groups, no one is trying to “impose religion by law or force.” Rather, we (Christians) are trying to pass laws in accord with our own ideas of right and wrong – just like *every* theistic or atheistic voter and/or political activist.

                      It doesn’t suddenly become invalid for us to try to advance our priorities just because our ideas of right and wrong happen to be in agreement with the Bible while yours are the product of either your own personal cogitation or whatever non-theistic philosophical school you favor. Nor can you fall back on, “Well, *your* beliefs aren’t rational” because I could level the same criticism against any number of non-theistic legal initiatives (and that might be a good reason to vote against them, but not a good reason to imply that they shouldn’t be put forth at all).

                    • goodold_lucifer

                      … unless you’re talking about ISIS or similar groups, no one is trying to “impose religion by law or force.”

                      The whole history of religion on Earth has been one of some people trying to impose their religion(s) on others. Even going back to Old Testament commands to kill unbelievers (etc. — even if God said, “It’s not murder when I command it!”) The current situation is one in which Christians have toned down that aspect, while Muslims have ramped it up.

                      Sunday Blue Laws, for example, don’t kill anyone, but are still an improper imposition of religious dogma. (Are there still any more of those left?) Another example is putting “In God We Trust” on our money. Of course, then there is the big, bad anti-abortion crusade.

                      And then there is Iran/ISIS/Saudi Arabia — their war against the Enlightenment and Individual Rights.

                      It doesn’t suddenly become invalid for us to try to advance our priorities just because our ideas of right and wrong happen to be in agreement with the Bible …

                      If there are priorities in the Bible that are consistent with the protection of individual rights, then of course a religious motivation would not invalidate them. (And certainly it is the case that secular motivation does not validate priorities involving the violation of individual rights.)

                      But religion is notorious for the notion that “if God commands it cannot be wrong — and it is proper to force people to follow God’s way, or die as punishment for failure to obey.” So the First Amendment specified religion in acknowledgment of the historical context.

                    • Anthony Zarrella

                      “Sunday Blue Laws, for example, don’t kill anyone, but are still an improper imposition of religious dogma. (Are there still any more of those left?) Another example is putting “In God We Trust” on our money. Of course, then there is the big, bad anti-abortion crusade”

                      You might be able to argue the first two successfully – but there is nothing *inherently religious* about believing that an unborn human being has individual rights just as much as a newborn human being. In fact, there are atheists in the pro-life movement (a minority, sure, but they exist).

                      If individual rights are your guidepost for when it is acceptable to use the law to coerce, then *both sides* of the abortion debate have a legitimate argument (by *your* terms, not necessarily by mine). Pro-choicers think they are standing up for the rights of women, and that the unborn are not people and thus have no rights. Pro-lifers think we are standing up for the rights of the unborn, and that women *do* have plenty of rights, but that no one has the right to kill another person because that person is inconvenient.

                      We could argue about which view is most reasonable, but there is nothing at the bottom except a clash of first principles. You might say that it is self-evidently absurd to think of a fetus or an embryo as a human person, and I could reply that it is self-evidently absurd that the act of passing through the uterine canal somehow makes a person out of a non-person. We’d both disagree, but we’d *both* be arguing that it is illegitimate to violate the rights of an individual for the benefit of someone who has no legitimate claim.

                      “If there are priorities in the Bible that are consistent with the protection of individual rights, then of course a religious motivation would not invalidate them.”

                      Well then, why is it even important to mention that this view or that view is “religious”? If you still have to make the *independent* argument that a policy violates individual rights, then what useful information is added to the debate by labeling one side as “religious”?

                      “So the First Amendment specified religion in acknowledgment of the historical context.”

                      If you want to talk about the meaning of the First Amendment, then you can’t credibly argue that it was intended to keep religion entirely out of government. George Washington issued a Thanksgiving Proclamation (thanks to *God*, that is), even Jefferson (no friend of traditional Christianity) spoke of “nature’s God” in the Declaration (see also: “endowed by their Creator”), and right next to the Establishment Clause is the Free Exercise Clause. Now, if you think the Framers really believed that “exercise” of religion meant nothing more than private worship and observance of peculiar taboos (as Obama seems to think), then you’re arguing against the weight of history. “Exercise” of religion includes supporting and promoting policies that advance the priorities of that religion.

                    • goodold_lucifer

                      “Exercise” of religion includes supporting and promoting policies that advance the priorities of that religion.

                      Which is why the First Amendment prohibits the use of government to impose religion. The key is free exericise; not legally enforced exercise of religion.

                    • goodold_lucifer

                      … just curious!

                      Just Objectivism!

                    • Anthony Zarrella

                      Randian? Or are you using the term in another way? It’s a term that tends to have a different meaning depending on what branch of philosophy is being discussed, so I just want to be clear.

                    • goodold_lucifer

                      “Atheism, per se, has no belief system *except* belief in the lack of a divine Presence,…”

                      Not exactly. Atheism, per se, does not have a “belief system … in the lack of a divine Presence.” Strictly speaking, atheism is the lack of a belief in the presence of anything supernatural. (I.e., not “belief in a lack of God” but simply a lack of belief in God. Subtle difference perhaps, but a difference nonetheless.)

                    • Anthony Zarrella

                      I’ll grant you the point as a matter of semantics, but then I’ll feel compelled to point out a distinction between what we’re calling “atheism per se” and what I call “militant atheism” – which is the type most often in evidence in threads such as this one.

                      Essentially what I mean is that you (and most other self-identified “atheists” in the com-boxes) seem *very convinced* that there is no God, and rather invested in that position. That’s not a mere “lack of belief”, that’s an affirmative belief in God’s non-existence.

                      In logical terms, lack of belief in “x” is “x v -x” (read: “x or not-x”) – a statement meaning essentially that “x” could be true or not, who knows? I have a lack of belief in aliens – I have no sufficient reason to believe there are any, but no sufficient reason to believe there aren’t.

                      What you seem to espouse (based on assertions like “basing things on religion isn’t reasonable”) is “-x” (read: “not-x”) – meaning you subjectively affirm the statement, “x is not true.” I have the same position on whether aliens have ever visited Earth – I subjectively affirm the statement, “aliens have never visited Earth.”

                    • goodold_lucifer

                      … what I call “militant atheism” …. *very convinced* that there is no God, and rather invested in that position.

                      I am convinced there is no God for basically the same reason I am convinced there are no square circles. Does that make me a “militant geometrist”?

                      I think it is unlikely that aliens have visited Earth. It is impossible that the supernatural exists, has existed, or ever could exist.

                      That’s not a mere “lack of belief”, that’s an affirmative belief in God’s non-existence.

                      That’s an odd way of putting it, but I think I see what you are trying to get at. “Logical atheism” seems more descriptive that “militant atheism.” It’s almost as if you look at atheism is just a different religion. I don’t take it as a religion, any more than I would look for a geometry of square circles.

                    • Anthony Zarrella

                      “I am convinced there is no God for basically the same reason I am convinced there are no square circles.”

                      Believe it or not, I hadn’t read this comment before I responded to the previous one and mentioned the idea of “square circles”. To briefly recap, yes, a square circle is utter nonsense, but that is because it contradicts itself and therefore violates basic logic. That’s not the same as your claim about God – you aren’t convinced there is no God because the very *concept* of “God” is semantically incoherent (or if you are, you haven’t made that argument clearly yet), but rather because you believe it contradicts *other* evidence.

                      In other words, your argument against God is more like, “Every observed object is a square, therefore the idea of a *round* circle is absurd, because it goes against observed evidence.”

                      Those are very different kinds of “absurdity”. I got into this more in my other reply to you, so I won’t recreate it all here.

                      The same response applies to pretty much the rest of your comment here, so I won’t belabor the point.

                    • goodold_lucifer

                      ‘… you aren’t convinced there is no God because the very *concept* of “God” is semantically incoherent …, but rather because you believe it contradicts *other* evidence.’

                      If I may elaborate:

                      The “*concept* of ‘God'” is logically/physically self-contradictory; it not only contradicts “*other* evidence,” but rather all possible evidence (past, present, and future).

                      Nature exists. So the notion of “supernatural” stands for “non-existent.” The notion of God as both supernatural but nevertheless being a real force, spirit, entity, or something in literal existence — well that is a blatant self-contradiction.

                      The notion of God as “Some Spirit Outside the Real World” is an imaginary construct, not a realistic concept. If you try to make a cognitive concept to refer to God, you come up empty; there is nothing specific in the world to include in the concept.

                    • Anthony Zarrella

                      “Nature exists. So the notion of “supernatural” stands for “non-existent.” The notion of God as both supernatural but nevertheless being a real force, spirit, entity, or something in literal existence — well that is a blatant self-contradiction.”

                      You’ve got an undisclosed premise hiding in your argument: You say, “Nature exists” – well of course it does. The controversial premise, which you take for granted, but which I would simply deny, is “Nature is *all* that exists”.

                      In the study of logic, it is permissible to deny the conclusion of an argument on exactly two grounds: 1) that the logical steps are flawed, or 2) that at least one of the premises is false. If you can make *either* of those moves, then you are not bound by the conclusion.

                      I deny your hidden premise. The notion of something “outside of nature” does not contradict *itself* – it only contradicts the *separate premise* that “Nature is all that exists.”

                      Since there is nothing inherent in the semantic concept of “nature” that *stipulates* that it is all-encompassing, there is therefore no rule of formal logic that dictates that your hidden premise is true, and therefore no rule that dictates that the concept of “something supernatural” is self-contradictory.

                      You can’t just *declare* that some statement about the world is a fundamental rule of logic and have it be so.

                    • goodold_lucifer

                      The controversial premise, which you take for granted, but which I would simply deny, is “Nature is *all* that exists”.

                      You cannot have your cake and eat it, too.

                      Since supernatural is a contradiction of nature, and since nature does exist, therefore the supernatural cannot exist.

                      It’a not like “nature” is one county, but “God” lives over in the next county. (HT Inherit the Wind)

                      Nature is a term, like universe, used to refer to “that which exists.” You are playing silly word games to claim that the unnatural is just like the natural, that both somehow magically exist at the same time and in the same respect.

                      The supernatural isn’t a “higher form of reality” — it is simply fantasy, not of this world.

                    • Anthony Zarrella

                      “Since supernatural is a contradiction of nature, and since nature does exist, therefore the supernatural cannot exist.”

                      This is your weakest wordplay yet. Here, let me substitute terms for you: “Since ‘non-living’ is a contradiction of ‘living,’ and since life exists, therefore the non-living cannot exist.”

                      “Supernatural” means “*above* the natural” not “in negation of the natural.” That one thing exists, and that a different concept is “not that thing” doesn’t mean that the second concept doesn’t exist.

                      “It’s not like “nature” is one county, but “God” lives over in the next county.”

                      No, of course not. God is the ultimate Existence *in which* nature subsists. He is not apart from nature – He is above it, and around it, and woven through it. By conceptualizing Him as something like all the other things whose existence you are willing to accept – that is, by conceptualizing Him as physical – you are led to the assumption that He must occupy some definite region of space (or of something). That’s a false assumption, as He is not physical (and here, so you can save your keyboard, I’ll write the first part of your rebuttal for you, “Everything that exists is physical – the idea of a non-physical being is nonsense.” There, happy? Can we skip that part?).

                      “Nature is a term, like universe, used to refer to “that which exists.””

                      That’s how *you* use it. *I* use it to refer to “that which exists within the created order and is subject to physical laws.” You will, of course, *claim* that the two terms are coextensive, but that brute claim doesn’t make it incoherent for me to say that they’re not – and that there is such a thing as “that which exists *outside* the created order, and is *superior to* physical laws.”

                      “You are playing silly word games to claim that the unnatural is just like the natural, that both somehow magically exist at the same time and in the same respect.”

                      Why is it so silly to say, “Things that are within Category X, and things that are not within Category X both exist at the same time and in the same respect”? To *you*, “natural” is a category that encompasses absolutely everything, but to me, it’s just a subset. You can disagree, but that doesn’t make it nonsensical. You are not the ultimate arbiter of logic and reality.

                    • goodold_lucifer

                      Here, let me substitute terms for you: “Since ‘non-living’ is a contradiction of ‘living,’ and since life exists, therefore the non-living cannot exist.”

                      That is a weak analogy. Both living and non-living things exist in nature. Neither is “above nature” and neither contradicts the other.

                      The claim that “God is above Nature” is not analogous — and not sensible, since what in the world could “above nature” actually mean?

                      “Everything that exists is physical – the idea of a non-physical being is nonsense.”

                      Clearly everything is not “physical,” e.g., ideas. But what in the world do you mean by “a non-physical being“? Do you include ideas as “beings”?

                      God, as an idea, certainly exists. And people believing in God have certainly exercised a lot of power in the world. Yet none of that gives any sense to the idea of a “Supernatural Being.” God remains totally imaginary, despite the popularity of ideas about Him, all the emotive power of those ideas, and all the destruction carried out in His name.

                    • Anthony Zarrella

                      “That is a weak analogy. Both living and non-living things exist in nature. Neither is “above nature” and neither contradicts the other.”

                      It’s not a perfect analogy, but the point was that “contrary” and “contradictory” are not the same. “Supernatural” certainly is contrary to “natural” (i.e. they are non-overlapping sets), but it is not contradictory (i.e. the existence of something supernatural does not require that nothing natural can exist, or vice versa).

                      “But what in the world do you mean by “a non-physical being”? Do you include ideas as “beings”?”

                      No, ideas are not beings. I simply don’t agree with you that it is self-evident that consciousness and personal-ity (the quality of being a person) are inextricably tied to physical form. So God is a conscious and personal entity without physical form (except for the 33 years in which He incarnated in Galilee).

                    • goodold_lucifer

                      But a law stating “Abortion is illegal” does not violate the First Amendment ..

                      Interesting point. Anti-abortion laws violate individual rights regardless of the motivations behind them.

                      The Bill of Rights is a subset of examples of how government needs to protect individual rights. It is true that the First Amendment does not prohibit religious motivation for supporting legislation; motivation is not the substance of law. The proper purpose of law is to protect individual rights.

                    • Anthony Zarrella

                      Well, now you’re getting into the 5th and 14th Amendments. We could start a whole new debate about whether abortion is a right, and if it is, whether it is protected by the Due Process Clause (and I’d be happy to have that discussion if you want).

                      What I was pointing out, however, is that it wouldn’t violate the *First* Amendment (and neither would any other *plausible* law that you might be able to call “based on religion” – obviously I consider a law mandating Sharia courts, for example, to be highly implausible to ever *actually* attract a majority).

                      As to your broadest point, I agree that protection of individual rights is one of the most important purposes of law, though I don’t agree that it’s the *only* legitimate purpose.

                    • goodold_lucifer

                      Don’t forget the 13th Amendment, either, while we are on that subject.

                      Also, no one has a right to an abortion. People should simply be free to get one if they want one and can afford it. Nobody else should be forced to pay for it (or provide it).

                      … any other *plausible* law that you might be able to call “based on religion” …

                      A law (or proposed law) could either be “plausible” (i.e., reasonable), or it could be “based on religion.” It could not be both at the same time and in the same respect. In other words, it is not reasonable to base something on religion.

                      The supernatural is not plausible. (Popularity does not equal plausibility.)

                    • Anthony Zarrella

                      I fully agree that no one should be compelled to provide or pay for an abortion.

                      The whole 13th Amendment abortion argument is ludicrous though. Pregnancy is not involuntary servitude, any more than a law requiring parents to care for their (born) children is. The law compels people to do things they don’t want to do all the time without offending the 13th Amendment. The fact that more than 99% of all abortion-seekers got pregnant from *consensual* sex (i.e. by their own freely-chosen act) makes it even *less* analogous to slavery. That statistic, by the way, is from the NAF (National Abortion Federation), so it can hardly be accused of being a pro-life fabrication.

                      As to “plausible”, you’re using it in a different way than I was. I meant “plausible” as in one that might “plausibly” get passed.

                      Regarding whether the supernatural is plausible, or whether it is reasonable to base things on religion, *obviously* you don’t think so, but saying it doesn’t make it true. I’ve given many arguments (in my colloquy with bassbait in this thread) for why it *is* reasonable and plausible to believe in God.

                    • goodold_lucifer

                      “… it *is* reasonable and plausible to believe in God.”

                      In the sense of “plausible” as “could happen,” then it is certainly plausible that you believe in God. That sort of thing happens a lot — in spite of the fact that believing in the supernatural is utterly unreasonable. It takes faith to believe in the supernatural; reason can never get you there (since there is no evidence to base a train of logic on).

                      I’ll have to check back on the thread to catch up (I jumped into the middle of this via a link from Klavan on Facebook).

                    • Anthony Zarrella

                      “In the sense of “plausible” as “could happen,” then it is certainly plausible that you believe in God.”

                      I’m beginning to think you’re doing this on purpose (though I’m amused, not angry). Of course I don’t mean that the fact that I believe in God is plausible – I mean that the object of that belief (i.e. the existence of God) is plausible. And *I know* that you disagree – that’s why we’re having this whole discussion.

                      “It takes faith to believe in the supernatural; reason can never get you there (since there is no evidence to base a train of logic on).”

                      While I disagree, as before, with the “*no* evidence” part, I agree that there is a gap between the limit of where evidence can take you, and belief in God (at least as I believe in Him) – faith is definitely necessary. However, you are falsely equating “a-rational” (i.e. “not based on reason”) with “irrational” (i.e. “contrary to reason”). Just because faith is not based on reason does not mean it is per se irrational.

                      Are you married? If you are, I bet (or at least I hope) that you prefer your wife to all other women in the world. Is this based on reason? Do you really have hard data that shows that she is the greatest woman in the world (or even the most compatible with you)? Of course not – that’s absurd. But is it therefore irrational to love your wife *more* than any other woman in the world? Of course not. It’s just based on considerations beyond cold, dispassionate logic. [If you’re not married, I assume you can still follow the logic of the argument.]

                      “The supernatural, per se, is not plausible — not possible.”

                      If by “not possible” you mean it violates known laws of science, then yes, by definition that’s true. However, it is certainly not *logically* impossible, only *physically* impossible. (E.g. a “square circle” is *logically* impossible nonsense, because it is self-contradictory, but faster-than-light travel is only *physically* impossible – there’s nothing self-contradictory or nonsensical about going FTL, it just *doesn’t work* under the existing conditions of the universe.)

                    • goodold_lucifer

                      “Of course I don’t mean that the fact that I believe in God is plausible – I mean that the object of that belief (i.e. the existence of God) is plausible.”

                      The literal existence of God (as opposed to His literary status) is not a possibility. It couldn’t happen, so it’s not plausible by any reasonable standard.

                      Where would God exist? What would He be like? What could He do? There are no positive, plausible answers to any of those questions. Not even a hint. There is nothing in the world to warrant any belief in the existence of God. Such belief is a matter of pure religious (i.e., blind) faith.

                      “Just because faith is not based on reason does not mean it is per se irrational.”

                      To the extent that faith can be used for emotional sustenance, you are correct that it is not necessarily irrational. But as soon as faith is used as the basis of a knowledge claim, e.g., “the supernatural exists,” then it drops over the edge into being irrational.

                      “However, it is certainly not *logically* impossible, only *physically* impossible.”

                      This distinction between “logically” and “physically” impossible is basically bogus. And note that claiming that “the supernatural exists” boils down to claiming that “unreal things are real” (or “things that aren’t there really are there” or “something non-existent exists”).

                    • Anthony Zarrella

                      “The literal existence of God (as opposed to His literary status) is not a possibility. It couldn’t happen, so it’s not plausible by any reasonable standard.”

                      OK, *I GET IT* – you think the literal existence of God is impossible. Let’s leave that part out of the rest of the discussion, because it’s not adding anything. Let’s skip to the part where you say *why* you think it’s impossible.

                      “Where would God exist? What would He be like? What could He do? There are no positive, plausible answers to any of those questions.”

                      Actually, the Bible answers all three. You may not find the answers “plausible” but that’s a mere conclusion, not evidence of anything.

                      “There is nothing in the world to warrant any belief in the existence of God.”

                      I take it you haven’t had time to go over my post on testimonial evidence yet?

                      “This distinction between “logically” and “physically” impossible is basically bogus.”

                      Not at all. Something that is *logically* impossible could *never* be true under *any* conditions at all. Something that is *physically* impossible is merely something that cannot be true *under present conditions*.

                      It is physically impossible for me to see through walls. It is not logically possible – there is nothing logically incoherent about positing a counterfactual scenario in which I am wearing bleeding-edge X-ray goggles.

                      It is physically impossible for something to move faster than light, but there is nothing logically incoherent about positing a counterfactual scenario in which the laws of the universe are other than they are.

                      The distinction is, essentially, that the *scientific* laws of the universe are not *logical* necessities (in the way that the law of non-contradiction is a logical necessity).

                      ” And note that claiming that “the supernatural exists” boils down to claiming that “unreal things are real””

                      No, it is only the claim that “phenomena exist which lie outside the ability of empirical science to explain” – or in other words, “things exist which do not behave in accordance with *known* laws of the universe.” There is nothing at all logically contradictory about those formulations, *unless* you subscribe to the idea that scientific laws are logical truths (which, to me, is absurd – no offense).

                    • goodold_lucifer

                      Something that is *logically* impossible could *never* be true under *any* conditions at all. Something that is *physically* impossible is merely something that cannot be true *under present conditions*.

                      Your assumption that the nature of the universe could miraculously change is unwarranted.

                      Think on this point:

                      One could hold that a thousand years ago, it was “physically impossible for people to fly in jet aircraft,” since the technology had not yet been brought into existence. Yet the nature of people, air, materials, etc., has not changed. What has changed are the logical connections people have made about the world, and the work they have done based on that knowledge. So you could say that it was physically possible to fly in jets back then, but it wasn’t yet logically possible!

                    • Anthony Zarrella

                      You’re right to say that jet travel wasn’t physically impossible back then. But when you say it was logically impossible, you’re equivocating on the term “logical” again.

                      Logically impossible doesn’t mean “impossible to comprehend, given the current state of human knowledge.” It means something that, if schematized, would result in an unsatisfiable schema. (Look up formal logic if you need those terms explained.)

                    • goodold_lucifer

                      Those “formal logic” word games can be fun under some circumstances, but they are out of place in this discussion.

                    • Anthony Zarrella

                      So *you* say. I think that it is very relevant to distinguish between that which is logically impossible (i.e. cannot happen, ever, even in a properly-constructed counterfactual hypothesis) versus what is merely physically impossible (cannot happen in the world as it is, but could happen if the world were different).

                      Of course, since you assert, axiomatically, that the world *cannot* be other than it is, I see why you don’t appreciate the distinction.

                    • goodold_lucifer

                      I think that it is very relevant to distinguish between that which is logically impossible (i.e. cannot happen, ever, even in a properly-constructed counterfactual hypothesis) versus what is merely physically impossible (cannot happen in the world as it is, but could happen if the world were different).

                      You may have a good point there — except that it is not clear how you want to distinguish “if there world were different” from “counterfactual”.

                      While the world certainly can be different in different times and places, I usually tend to think of “physically impossible” as being calculated on the basis of “in this world, but no matter where, no matter when.”

                    • Anthony Zarrella

                      On the theoretical points, we’re in agreement here. “If the world were different” *is* the same as “counterfactual.” “Physically impossible” (used alone, with no time or place qualifiers) *does* mean, “in this world, no matter where or when.”

                      However, unlike you, I see a counterfactual as something that isn’t true *but could have been* – so it is then relevant to discuss, “What if we’re not talking about ‘this world’ in the sense of ‘this world-as-it-is (or might be in the future)”? Specifically, you argue that the very *concept* of God is illogical, because it is (by these definitions we just hashed out) *physically* impossible. I disagree, of course, that it is physically impossible, but I also would like to get some agreement on the fact that it is not *logically* impossible, and therefore not illogical or incoherent to discuss.

                      The “money” issue here is this: If “God” really is a *logically* impossible concept, then that’s that. But if it’s only a *physically* impossible concept, because it contradicts what you know about the world-as-it-is, then that leaves open the possibility that you are *mistaken* about “how the world is” – that just because the evidence presently perceived by you militates against the existence of God, that doesn’t mean that it is impossible for evidence to come to light that would make it rational to change your mind (just as nuclear power probably would have seemed like a physically impossible and supernatural concept to the Romans).

                      Essentially, I’m arguing that God is not, in *your* sense of the word, “supernatural” at all – He is a piece (to understate greatly) of the natural order that you haven’t discovered yet.

                    • goodold_lucifer

                      However, unlike you, I see a counterfactual as something that isn’t true *but could have been*

                      Sometimes that could be the case. At this point in time, the statement, “I have visited London,” is not true (it’s counterfactual!). Yet it is possible that sometime in the future that statement could become true.

                      Then there are counterfactuals like, “I have witnessed a miracle,” which could never be true. (At least not in the religious sense, as contrasted with the hockey sense.)

                    • Anthony Zarrella

                      “”I have visited London,” is not true (it’s counterfactual!). Yet it is possible that sometime in the future that statement could become true.”

                      That’s not what I mean at all. I mean the statement “I visited London in 1998.” It’s not true, but (if all you’ve said about human volition holds) it *could have been* true. That is to say, a timeline in which it happened is no less plausible than this timeline in which it didn’t (not in the sense that the world *as it is now* could change such that you really did go to London in ’98, but in the sense that, *in ’98* there was a real possibility that you could have gone, and if you had, the world now would be different, but would still be in keeping with all logical rules and physical laws).

                      “Then there are counterfactuals like, “I have witnessed a miracle,” which could never be true”

                      If you want to assert that it could never be true, it is incumbent on you to show that it is, in fact, a *logical* impossibility. Because anything that is logically possible *could, at some point* become physically possible, whether because of a change of circumstances or because we simply discover that what we thought was scientific certainty isn’t.

                      Bear in mind that mere *physical* impossibility has changed over time. You have a peculiar disdain for theoretical physics (even though their conclusions are all based on the principle you so defend – application of reason to observed facts), but physicists say that in the first few seconds of the universe’s existence, the laws of physics as we know them simply didn’t apply.

                      Now, of course, if you mean “miracle” in the specific sense we defined it yesterday – i.e. “a phenomenon that cannot be observed or deduced from observation, and that has no observable effect in the world”, then sure, it’s impossible. But, as I said then, given that definition, there are a great many things that religious people would call “miracles” that are entirely possible because they simply aren’t miracles (under that definition).

                    • goodold_lucifer

                      … it is incumbent on you to show that it is, in fact, a *logical* impossibility.

                      We know that it is possible for “the blind to see and the lame to walk,” since it happens in the real world.

                      But what does not happen, and could not happen because it is logically/physically impossible, for it to happen by no natural (physical or psychological) means, i.e., through miraculous faith-healing.

                      If you wish it in the “logically impossible form”: you cannot actually cure blindness with no actual cure.

                      And if your claim is that “God is natural,” how is that different from admitting that “God is not supernatural”? (Or “superactual,” “beyond nature,” etc.)

                    • goodold_lucifer

                      Essentially, I’m arguing that God is not, in *your* sense of the word, “supernatural” at all – He is a piece (to understate greatly) of the natural order that you haven’t discovered yet.

                      If God is some yet-to-be-discovered part of Nature, then I can wait for the discovery (or live without it if it takes more than my lifetime). But on that premise, you give up that “Lord of the Universe” stuff. God would not be able to magically turn murder into not-murder. God could not have intentionally caused the origin of life. He certainly could not have created the universe. He couldn’t perform miracles like suddenly turning rocks into cookies. And there would be nobody for religious people to have blind faith in.

                    • Anthony Zarrella

                      Why not? There are many things in nature that defy what were once thought to be unbreakable laws – why couldn’t God do the same?

                      Why couldn’t God be a sort of consciousness that you have no data for, as of yet? There are forms of life we never thought were possible a century or two ago – why not a conscious entity that is *radically* unlike our present scientific knowledge of life?

                      And, remember, we’re defining “nature” as “that which really exists” – how can you be so sure that “nature” and “the scientific concept of the universe” are coextensive? Why *can’t* “that which exists” include one entity that created everything else?

                    • goodold_lucifer

                      There are many things in nature that defy what were once thought to be unbreakable laws – why couldn’t God do the same?

                      You need to make up your mind and settle on a consistent position. Is God Supernatural, or Natural? Is God “in nature” or “above nature”? Which way do you want it?

                      If God is “the same as many things in nature,” then God is not supernatural. If, however, you wish to assert that God is Supernatural, the God cannot be like anything in nature. That is, a Supernatural God would be totally unreal.

                    • goodold_lucifer

                      Why *can’t* “that which exists” include one entity that created everything else?

                      Ignoring “Big Bang” theories, in the sense that you mean of intentionally creating everything else (out of nothing), that would have been logically/physically impossible since the alleged entity could not have been conscious and had any material to work with.

                      You could imagine a formless, miraculous consciousness — but then you are not sticking to the facts, to “that which exists or is really possible.”

                    • goodold_lucifer

                      I’ve given many arguments (in my colloquy with bassbait in this thread)

                      Actually, I don’t see a good way to see that part of the thread. Could you send me something to help me zero in on it?

                    • Anthony Zarrella

                      Hmm… I can’t find it anymore either. I can give you links that will take you to some of my *individual* replies to bassbait, but the rest of our discussion seems to have gotten hidden (maybe because it was very long, and a week old or so now).

                      My argument on “testimonial evidence”:
                      https://disqus.com/home/discussion/crisismagazine/no_such_thing_as_atheists/?utm_source=reply&utm_medium=email&utm_content=read_more#comment-1891693509

                      And actually, you seem to have found most of the rest of it, because you’ve replied to parts of it in some of your other comments yesterday (which I will address presently).

            • goodold_lucifer

              Why should we? Why are “religious” ideas uniquely unsuited to be shared in the public arena?

              If you are thinking in terms of “sharing through legislation,” then religion is not “uniquely unsuited.” No beliefs, religious or otherwise, are properly suited to be imposed on people by force. The only proper purpose of legislation is to protect individual rights, not to violate them by forcing peaceable people to act according to your beliefs

          • Veritas

            No chance.
            Can you keep your beliefs to just yourself?
            Let’s be honest, atheists. It is impossible for either of us to shut up. It won’t happen. It is our duty to save souls. Evangelism. You’re essentially telling us not to do what Christ asked us to do.
            Go back to Yahoo!

            • M. Solange O’Brien

              If you actually cared about saving souls, you would try to do so. The bulk of the posts on Crisis seem to be about control, not salvation. Good luck with that. It’s arrogance like yours that generates so much animosity towards christians (and Catholics in particular).

              You don’t preach the “Good News”, you attempt to force everyone to live according to your doctrinal ethics. That’s not freedom; that’s fascism.

              • Veritas

                I challenge you to believe what you use against me. I care about kids that I teach, and I use my wisdom and authority to make them do what they thought they could not do. I go against the current public school secular thought about authority because I understand authority as being firm with them, but behind my firmness is love that they later see, and they later return to me. If I were to act any different, I would be giving them the power to destroy themselves. And, truly, many kids have that option and can choose it in public education. My students, unlike some adults, love me for this. They tell me. But, you are no longer a child, so you expect me to be conciliatory, or nice, perhaps. Nothing I said above was arrogant: it just was a little to straight forward for you. In today’s world I am supposed to be silent.
                If you want nice, find somebody who doesn’t care about you.
                What you mistakenly call arrogance, force, doctrine, I call waypoints to salvation. You have a very modern and confused notion about how one should love another. I feel sorry for you because you want to be good, to be right, but you kick the legs out from under your own stool because you adhere to subjectivism and relativism. You do this because you believe that nice is the way to freedom and salvation.
                My ninth graders would tell you differently.

                • M. Solange O’Brien

                  Given your apparent passion for brainwashing the innocent and vulnerable, no, I don’t expect you to be nice. And yes, the mentally abused often say they love their abusers, so we have to take your victims affection with a grain of salt.

                  But unless you teach them to think critically about knowledge – even the religion you are forcing on them – then you are doing them a great disservice.

                  • Veritas

                    You do not know me. You do not know the respect that my students have for me. You are typically misinformed about what I have written because the heart of your illness is your abhorrence for authority.
                    That being said, you have jumped to false conclusions. I hate to say it, but you show a certain degree of ignorance. You equate the use of authority with brainwashing and mental abuse; it is not. It is in complete disagreement with your notions about how children should learn and how they actually do learn. And, the Church, not Rousseau, got it right: given the chance to take the path of least resistance, left to his own devices, the child will not create knowledge. The child will know only chaos and will be without the tools by which he or she can later become critical thinkers. Trust me, I know. Many 15 year olds in the public system have a Third Grade skill level, at best. Thank you, John Dewey and your atheism for allowing kids to self destruct. You know something, I think people like you have condemned these poor little ones to a life of misery, thanks to the heresy you believe in. Now, you are on my turf and you cannot escape. Oh, I provide food and off hours tutoring to some. I buy their supplies. Yes, I am just out to brainwash. How confused the world is with what True Love is. You are confused because you worship the god of relativism, and you destroy the pillars of Western Civilization.
                    You keep saying you’ve read the CCC, but obviously you either have not or you refuse to believe it. Hubris. What does “concupiscence” mean? How does it relate to Original Sin? Or, are you going to reject it because Truth is not something objective, but something akin to a shopping expedition.
                    I don’t teach religion or philosophy. I am a well-liked MATH teacher. Why do these little souls want out of the other classes? I’m not easy. They love my passion and they know I deeply care for them. I make them laugh, tons. You won’t believe it though. I bless them; and when the atheist lass says, “I’m an atheist,” I say, “Then the force be with you.” And, the scowl disappears and an angelic smile comes to her face. She leaves saying,
                    “Have a nice day, sir.”
                    Your “teach them to think critically” is not what it appears to be. What you mean is, indoctrinate them to think critically against traditional ideas. You want niceness, but yet you continue to say things that are wrong. I don’t subscribe to ideas that are not grounded in truth.

                  • LadyFreeBird<God'sNotDead

                    Dear Father in Heaven I ask that Open the eyes,ears,understanding and the heart of this person . Father Your Will be done in this persons life .In Jesus Name .

              • LadyFreeBird<God'sNotDead

                The spirit within you will not let you see that they are trying to reach you . How sad .
                May the Will of God for you be done .
                Some are trying to reach you in the flesh . But the spirit inside you will not let you come to the Truth . May the Will of God for your Deliverance be done . So that you will come to the Truth . In Jesus Name . < < < God LOVES you ! < < <

              • Anthony Zarrella

                “If you love Me, keep My commandments.” – Jesus, John 14:15

                Salvation is freely offered to all, but not unconditionally. I don’t even know what it would look like to try to “preach salvation” or “save souls” *without* teaching people about God’s Law (i.e. “doctrinal ethics”). Love of Christ is all that is required, and we are not justified by our good works… but He Himself *said* that “keeping His commandments” was an essential element of loving Him.

                There is an Old Testament prophet (for the life of me, I can’t remember which one – I thought it was Jonah, but I looked, and it wasn’t) who was basically told by God, “If you preach to the people the warning against sin which I have told you to preach, and they still don’t repent, they will be destroyed, but you will be saved. But, if you don’t warn them against sin, after I have told you to do so, then I will hold *you* responsible for their failure to repent, and you will be destroyed along with them.”

                There may be a faith in the world or in history which teaches that being true to one’s own self-determined moral code and being “nice” or “tolerant” or “affirming” to others is the key to salvation… but that faith isn’t Christianity. In fact, I’m reasonably sure there’s a branch of Satanism that has that as its central rule…

            • LadyFreeBird<God'sNotDead

              Pray for them . Pray that The Will of God for Their Deliverance and Salvation Be done on Earth as His Will is done in Heaven .

            • goodold_lucifer

              “You’re essentially telling us not to do what Christ asked us to do.”

              Christ is one thing, God is another. I don’t think Christ ever exhorted people to murder, but God often did so. Significant difference, right?

              • Anthony Zarrella

                Christ and God the *Father* are different, so yes, it is true that Christ never *said* the things God said in the Old Testament. Christ is still God though (just a different Person of the Trinity), and He said that He did not come to do away with the Law, but to fulfill it (i.e. He preached total continuity with the Hebrew Scriptures, a.k.a. Old Testament).

                As to “murder,” that includes as part of its definition, “wrongful” killing – if you were to assume, ex hypothesi, that God was real, and that He was truly Lord over the universe (I know you don’t believe it, but assume for a moment), then could a killing really be “wrongful” if He commanded it?

                • goodold_lucifer

                  … could a killing really be “wrongful” if He commanded it?

                  Do you understand that taking that attitude would mean demolishing morality and throwing it out the window?

                  But why should murder be okay if you claim you did it because “He commanded it”?

                  Of course, I do see what you mean. And that is one of the reasons why the notion of “Lord over the universe” makes absolutely no sense.

                  • Anthony Zarrella

                    “Do you understand that taking that attitude would mean demolishing morality and throwing it out the window?”

                    No, it would mean *grounding* morality in something larger than my own intuitions.

                    “But why should murder be okay if you claim you did it because “He commanded it”?”

                    I’m not talking about loonies who *claim* that God spoke to them in the “snap, crackle, pop” of their Rice Krispies and then go kill people. I’m talking about people who the Bible states *did* actually receive direct instructions from God.

                    And, yes, *of course* I know that you don’t believe the Bible is true, no need to say it again – but here we were talking about the difference (if any) between what God commanded in the OT and what Christ commanded in the Gospels, and to even *have* that discussion requires that you assume, arguendo, that the Bible is true (just like it would be meaningless to debate whether Boromir was a hero or a villain unless we first pretend, for the duration of the discussion, that the Lord of the Rings describes a real world in which Boromir existed and did the things Tolkien wrote him as doing).

                    So, we’re essentially debating not whether any present-day person should be given any credibility (or leniency) when they say God told them to kill, but rather whether, if we assume someone *really* got instructions from God, it would be right for them to kill.

                    “And that is one of the reasons why the notion of “Lord over the universe” makes absolutely no sense.”

                    See my previous two replies (chronologically) – I think you’re being imprecise with your definition of “makes absolutely no sense.” Here, you seem to be saying that it leads to what you find to be morally unpalatable consequences, and therefore you are inclined to reject it. That’s not the same as being nonsensical. I can (hypothetically) stipulate that the concept *does* lead to those consequences, but simply “swallow” that conclusion and say, “Sure, you’re right, but I don’t see that as a reason to reject the premise.”

                    I think that the idea of humanity being nothing more than an animal developed by random evolution from life that exists for no reason except that it happened to happen (as Seuss would say) leads to morally repugnant conclusions – but that isn’t a reason to categorically dismiss the idea as unworthy of rational consideration, right? At least, not if reason, rather than faith, is to be my standard?

                    • goodold_lucifer

                      I’m not talking about loonies who *claim* that God spoke to them in the “snap, crackle, pop” of their Rice Krispies and then go kill people. I’m talking about people who the Bible states *did* actually receive direct instructions from God.

                      Stories that “God spoke to them” are all fiction, whether in regard to Rice Krispies or the Bible.

                      … but rather whether, if we assume someone *really* got instructions from God, it would be right for them to kill.

                      There is no possibility that getting “instructions from God” can miraculously turn something wrong into something right. Killing people for working on Sunday was never right, and absolutely never could be.

                    • Anthony Zarrella

                      “Stories that “God spoke to them” are all fiction, whether in regard to Rice Krispies or the Bible.”

                      Again, *GOT IT* – like I said, pretend then that we’re having a discussion about the “in-universe” facts of a work of fiction. “Could the Hulk beat up Superman?” If your response is, “Of course not, because a fictional character can neither beat nor be beaten,” then you’ve missed the whole point of the discussion.

                      “There is no possibility that getting “instructions from God” can miraculously turn something wrong into something right. Killing people for working on Sunday was never right, and absolutely never could be.”

                      On. What. Grounds? Half the stuff you post is engaging and well-argued, which is why I keep up the discussion – but these wholly conclusory statements you keep making are entirely unhelpful dead ends.

                      It would be like me saying, “No matter what you say, *Jesus* said otherwise, so that’s the end of the story.” I might *believe* that, but it does nothing to advance the dialogue.

                    • goodold_lucifer

                      On. What. Grounds?

                      The right to life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness. The fact that reason is man’s basic tool of survival (and that requires freedom from the initiation of force).

                    • Anthony Zarrella

                      Where do those rights come from? Jefferson said they come from our “Creator,” but you’ve foreclosed that option. I *agree* that man has those rights, but I believe that *because* I believe those rights come from God.

                      On what do *you* ground them?

                      It can’t be merely the fact that reason is necessary to survival, because (hypothetically) I could just say, “Fine, but I don’t give a fig about *your* survival, so why should I respect your rights?”

                      It can’t be all about reciprocality (i.e. I respect your rights so that you respect mine), because that doesn’t address the Ring of Gyges problem (i.e. is it OK to violate your rights if I know no one will ever find out it was me?).

                      It can’t be all about social utility, because utility alone is only a statement about what *works* not about normative obligations.

                    • goodold_lucifer

                      It can’t be merely the fact that reason is necessary to survival,…

                      Nevertheless, that’s the fact. (Regardless on anyone’s figs and feeling about it.)

                      … because (hypothetically) I could just say, ” Fine, but I don’t give a fig about *your* survival, so why should I respect your rights?”

                      Historically speaking, that attitude is not only not hypothetical, it is perhaps one of the most dominant attitudes around — especially among religious people toward those who don’t have the “right” religion.

                    • Anthony Zarrella

                      My point is, how can you ground a “right” in a mere pragmatic fact that I can choose to care about or not?

                      How can you reason from a *fact* premise (“reason is necessary to survival, and requires a lack of coercive force”) to a *normative* conclusion (“therefore, you *ought* to avoid initiating force against anyone”)?

                      “Historically speaking, that attitude is not only not hypothetical, it is perhaps one of the most dominant attitudes around — especially among religious people toward those who don’t have the “right” religion.”

                      And yet, it finds its fullest expression in Nietzsche, who was almost as contemptuous of religion as you.

                    • goodold_lucifer

                      … Nietzsche, who was almost as contemptuous of religion as you.

                      So what?

                    • Anthony Zarrella

                      Just pointing out that religious people hardly have a monopoly on self-centered thinking and intolerance.

                    • goodold_lucifer

                      No argument there.

                    • goodold_lucifer

                      My point is, how can you ground a “right” in a mere pragmatic fact that I can choose to care about or not?

                      What’s the alternative? Trying to ground it in an impractical story people can choose to care about or not?

                      How can you reason from a *fact* premise (“reason is necessary to survival, and requires a lack of coercive force”) to a *normative* conclusion (“therefore, you *ought* to avoid initiating force against anyone”)?

                      I have to go out right now, but you can find a great explanation of that from Ayn Rand.

                    • Anthony Zarrella

                      “What’s the alternative? Trying to ground it in an impractical story people can choose to care about or not?”

                      No, the alternative is grounding Law in a Lawgiver.

                      “I have to go out right now, but you can find a great explanation of that from Ayn Rand.”

                      Fair enough for now. One of these days I really will get around to reading her stuff, if only so I know what her supporters are talking about. Can you recommend one particular work that encapsulates her theories best? In particular, does she have any that are written as straightforward philosophy, rather than shrouded in a fictional narrative?

                    • goodold_lucifer

                      “Shrouded”? You clearly have not read it. But you must have heard some weird stories about it.

                    • Anthony Zarrella

                      All I meant is that I’d prefer to read a treatise than an allegory (and the Rand books I know of are essentially Objectivist narrative fables). If all that is available is the fables, I’ll read them (and I have no problem culling relevant philosophies from the form of stories) – it’s just not my preferred way to digest new ideas. I prefer a non-fiction format, because it’s easier to pinpoint *precisely* which propositions the author supports, as opposed to figuring out which in-character statement is meant, by the author, to be perceived as “right.”

                      Again, I claim no special knowledge on this subject – on this matter (and this matter alone), if you point out to me that my perceptions are mistaken, I’ll take you at your word.

                    • goodold_lucifer

                      No, the alternative is grounding Law in a Lawgiver.

                      Except that gets you nowhere. What we need to know is whether or not the “Lawgiver” has a rational basis for grounding the laws He gives — or not. And if you are just going to take His Word for it, no matter what, that’s not rational.

                    • Anthony Zarrella

                      You’re assuming that this Lawgiver is just another person, like you or me.

                      Think of a parent making rules for a child (not a teen – a child). The child has no ability or authority to challenge the rules because he, or other children don’t think they are rational. The parent’s rules are the rules, not because they are rational, but because they are founded on legitimate authority. If the parent says, “No candy, because sugar will rot your teeth,” the kid doesn’t get to say, “But Dad, I saw a PBS special that says if you brush your teeth, sugar is fine for your teeth.” (Or rather, he’s free to say so, but the dad is free to be un-persuaded and enforce the rule anyway.) The parent’s decisions about what line of reasoning is most rational trump the kid’s decisions, not necessarily because the parent is smarter, but because he’s the parent.

                      Now imagine a being (just imagine – think of it as a counterfactual, if you like) who can not only claim “parentage” of a sort over the whole world, but who has those attributes to an infinitely greater degree (or, if you prefer to avoid infinities, an “arbitrarily large” greater degree – to use the science-preferred term) than any human parent. Would it not stand to reason that such a being would have sufficiently-superior authority to make virtually any rule He wants? Or at the very least, that none of *us* would have sufficient wisdom and experience to be competent to challenge His rules?

                    • goodold_lucifer

                      You’re assuming that this Lawgiver is just another person …

                      Well, a non-human could not have any “legitimate authority” in human affairs. Not political, and certainly not moral.

                      Of course, the notion of a “moral authority” is illegitimate, per se, anyhow (since moral action is chosen action, not forced action).

                      Would it not stand to reason that such a being would have sufficiently-superior authority to make virtually any rule He wants?

                      No. In fact, such a notion is highly offensive to reason.

                      Or at the very least, that none of *us* would have sufficient wisdom and experience to be competent to challenge His rules?

                      No, that certainly does not stand to reason.

                      Also, the scenario you are proposing is not “counterfactual” in the sense of “could possibly be true,” not even under any circumstances.

                    • goodold_lucifer

                      … the idea of humanity being nothing more than an animal developed by random evolution from life that exists for no reason except that it happened …

                      “Random evolution” is a bogus notion. It couldn’t have happened randomly any more than it could have been directed by some non-living spirit.

                    • Anthony Zarrella

                      So you’ve said. I’m still waiting to hear from you how it *did* happen, if it wasn’t random and wasn’t directed.

                    • goodold_lucifer

                      I’m still waiting to hear from you how it *did* happen, if it wasn’t random and wasn’t directed.

                      Don’t hold your breath. I don’t know the specifics. I only know that life did happen, and is therefore perfectly natural.

                    • Anthony Zarrella

                      Again, you’re smuggling in this premise that “all that is, is nature”.

                      It’s a circular argument: “The existence of life is no evidence for supernatural creation, because the creation of life was perfectly natural. I know this, because there is no such thing as the supernatural, so it must have been natural.”

                      I can spin that around just as easily, and it will be just as flimsy: “No science can possibly provide evidence against God, because God is the origin of all scientific principles. I know this because God is the origin of everything, and so He must be the origin of science.”

                    • goodold_lucifer

                      The premise that nature exists while the supernatural doesn’t is not an argument — not even a circular one. It is simply an observation. If you are seeking knowledge of the world, it simply makes sense to deal with the world as it is. Religion doesn’t do that.

                    • Anthony Zarrella

                      See my last (longest) post to you for a thorough analysis of your equivocation. If all “nature” means is “the world as it is,” then there is nothing about that definition that excludes the possibility of God. If “nature” means “the world as observable,” then it *might* exclude God, but then it no longer excludes the possibility that something that is not “nature” can exist. You swap back and forth between the two at will, and hope no one notices.

                    • goodold_lucifer

                      If all “nature” means is “the world as it is,” then there is nothing about that definition that excludes the possibility of God.

                      If your idea of God is that “He is Above Nature,” then in those terms, God cannot be part of the world. That’s basically my position.

                      If “nature” means “the world as observable,” then it *might* exclude God, but then it no longer excludes the possibility that something that is not “nature” can exist.

                      One thing to keep it mind is that the distinction between “the world as it is” and “the world as it is observable” is irrelevant in this context. Those are just two ways of referring to the same thing. The real world is what there is to observe; there is no other source or subject for observation. God clearly isn’t there.

                    • Anthony Zarrella

                      “If your idea of God is that “He is Above Nature,” then in those terms, God cannot be part of the world.”

                      I only defined God as “above nature” when I was under the impression that you were using “nature” to mean strictly “the physical world and the ephemeral incidents (like ideas) thereof”. Once we established that “nature” meant “whatever is real”, that definition no longer applied.

                      “The real world is what there is to observe; there is no other source or subject for observation.”

                      To say that there is nothing else observable does not logically imply that nothing else exists. By your definition, nuclear interactions did not exist in Roman times (nor did distant galaxies) because they were not observable.

                      And if you mean “observable *in principle*” rather than merely “observable in practical terms right now” then I’d simply argue that then God *is* observable. I’d argue He was observed in human form for 33 years in Galilee. I’d argue He will be observable after death.

                      And don’t just say that what comes after death is not observable, because that begs the question. *If* there is nothing after death, then nothing is observable after death, but if there is an Afterlife (of any sort), then it is possible to observe things after death – so arguing that an Afterlife is non-observable *presupposes* that there is none.

                      In other words, it would be circular logic again: “God cannot be observable after death because what comes after death is not observable, because there is nothing after death to observe, which we know because only that which is observable is real and what comes after death is not observable.”

                    • goodold_lucifer

                      By your definition, nuclear interactions did not exist in Roman times (nor did distant galaxies) because they were not observable.

                      Not by my definition. You are confusing “observable” with “having already been observed.”

                      And if you mean “observable *in principle*” rather than merely “observable in practical terms right now” then I’d simply argue that then God *is* observable. I’d argue He was observed in human form for 33 years in Galilee.

                      And you would be wrong. You are trying to equate “imaginable” with “observable.” Observable means outside the imagination. Jesus may have been observed claiming to be God, but that’s just make believe.

                      I’d argue He will be observable after death.

                      I presume you mean your death, not His. Either way you are basing your expectations on blind faith, not on reasonable consideration.

                    • Anthony Zarrella

                      OK, so what about the Higgs boson? I’m not asking if you believe it *does* exist. I’m asking if you believe it *can* exist. It’s not observable right now, but scientists have *hopes* that it *will be* observable using the supercollider.

                      If they are wrong, and the supercollider fails to show evidence of the Higgs, does that mean the Higgs *cannot* exist, or can scientists still say that it *might* exist because there is the *possibility* that it will be observable in the future, using some heretofore unimagined technology?

                      If the former, then return to my objection about nuclear physics. If the latter, then why is the *possibility* that there might be something after death and that God might be observable then not sufficient to allow for the *possibility* that God might exist?

                      “Jesus may have been observed claiming to be God, but that’s just make believe.”

                      It’s only make-believe *if* He wasn’t God. If He was, then God was observed, in the Person of Jesus.

                      Therefore, you can’t argue that God cannot exist because He cannot be observed (and only observable things exist), but then argue that observing Jesus didn’t count as observing God because He could not have been God (because God cannot exist). Try to schematize that, and you’ll see that it leads to a proof in which the conclusion is one of the premises. I’d do it myself, for you, but the com-box doesn’t always handle the symbols of formal logic properly.

              • Veritas

                I just saw your comment.

                Have you ever spoken with a Catholic theologian of substance regarding your questions? Or, do you merely wish to bait others? Are you searching for answers or do you already have your answers?

                Regarding the nature of God, you pose these questions to make the believer doubt or to question what you see as obvious fallacies. If I am being too harsh and you sincerely want to test arguments, then I apologize for my being so blunt.

                Try reading Jimmy Akin’s answer to your question.

                http://jimmyakin.com/2007/02/hard_sayings_of.html
                As for Christ, to you “Christ is one thing while God is another;” but to me he is God made flesh.

                • goodold_lucifer

                  Since God commands slaughtering people, and Christ did not, how does it make sense to consider them the “same person”?

                  • Veritas

                    God made flesh is what I wrote. The Second Person in the Trinity, and not God the Father, but God the Son. Incarnation, “consubstantial” and the Blessed Trinity are mysteries to most mere mortals. Even if my intellectual capacity were far greater than my simplemindedness permits, I would not be able to define these terms.
                    Did you read the article I posted? Have you tried taking on the big boys–the moral and biblical theologians? Are you a searcher or a sophist? I don’t mean to be disrespectful by asking if you are a sophist, but I get the feeling you enjoy “picking off the pack.” Who knows? You might be an ex-theologian or priest.
                    As far as God being a killer, in all the years I’ve been a Catholic I have never taken that stuff literally. Only fundamentalists would do that; but the Church doesn’t believe in sola scriptura, and its easy to understand why. You, too, are too intelligent for that.
                    I enjoy reading your posts, but you are not convincing. Still, may you live a happy and rewarding life. And why an intelligent person such as you would take the moniker, good old Lucifer–or Satan, the Father of Lies–does not do justice to you.

                    • goodold_lucifer

                      “… I would not be able to define these terms.”

                      It is not disrespectful, but clarifying, to point out that your declaration means that you don’t know what you’re talking about regarding the “Blessed Trinity.”

                      Also, I chose the moniker I did because Lucifer means lightbringer, the bright morning star.

                      I am neither a sophist nor a theologian (ex- or otherwise) — and I certainly agree that religion should not be taken literally.

                    • Veritas

                      I never said “religion should not be taken literally.”
                      Once a light bringer, but no longer. What you think is “light” is really Pride and rebellion. It is revealing that you have chosen the name of the proud rebel because even the devil believes in Almighty God. Thus, your mission is not to engage in truth-seeking, but to destroy out of hatred. This is your mission. But, you are not a fallen angel, but a person made in the image of God.
                      No disrespect taken.

                    • goodold_lucifer

                      “… you are … a person made in the image of God.”

                      If God were human and an atheist, your metaphor would have more going for it.

                      But “pride and rebellion,” well, there you are actually on to something. Pride in going for the light, rebelling against the dark. That is, accepting reality and not believing in the supernatural.

                    • goodold_lucifer

                      “Thus, your mission is not to engage in truth-seeking, but to destroy out of hatred.”

                      Utter nonsense. You are seriously missing the point.

                      The mission is in fact seeking truth and acknowledging reality. Being an atheist is a logical part of it.

                    • goodold_lucifer

                      Lucifer stands for “the light bringer,” the bright morning star.

                      It’s a mistake to confuse light with lies.

                    • Veritas

                      There is no mistake on Divine Mercy Sunday, or on any day:

                      “…The Syriac version and the version of Aquila derive the Hebrew noun helel from the verb yalal, “to lament”; St. Jerome agrees with them (In Isaiah 1.14), and makes Lucifer the name of the principal fallen angel who must lament the loss of his original glory bright as the morning star. In Christian tradition this meaning of Lucifer has prevailed; the Fathers maintain that Lucifer is not the proper name of the devil, but denotes only the state from which he has fallen (Petavius, De Angelis, III, iii, 4).
                      Taken from The Catholic Encyclopedia (New Advent).

          • SnowCherryBlossoms

            Matt, if you don’t want to hear about Christ why do you come into a Catholic forum and comment? I think you want to silence ‘religious’ people because it makes you feel something that makes you uncomfortable.

          • LadyFreeBird<God'sNotDead

            May the Will of God for your Deliverance and your Salvation be done on Earth as His Will is done in Heaven . In Jesus Name .

      • Have you ever seen a movie that’s so bad, it’s hilarious?
        Invasion of the Atheist Trolls comes to mind.

        • LadyFreeBird<God'sNotDead

          Pray for these (((((TROLLS)))))) .

    • Panikos

      That would be fine if the religious people would let us, but they keep making demands that we do things their way.

      • tanyahe

        who invites you to Catholic Christian site?. no one. but you all come to these sites anyway. Perhaps the revisiting of these sites will help you find the Truth and you will be converted and changed to love God. Be careful, because stuff like that happens all the time. Your curiosity and disdain may prove be a mortal blow to your atheism.

        • Panikos

          If you talk about people in a public forum then you will get those same people answering you.

          I know free speech problem for some religious people, but you’re going to have to get used to it. Christianity is losing its hold.

          As for my likely conversion I’ll take the chance. Do you avoid toy shops in case you develop an urge to worship Pooh Bear?

          • tanyahe

            Yes I appreciate free speech, but I wish some posters would grow a just a wee bit and defend their cause/ideas with a bit more maturity. I glad to see you are a risk taker. Why don’t you ask God for the gift of faith—-oops that might be asking too much because it’s too risky. cheers.

            • Walter

              I think many have asked for this gift of faith and nothing was forthcoming.

              • tanyahe

                Psalm 66:18
                If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened;

                and Saint James says we ask and don’t receive because we don’t ask rightly. And some don’t receive because they do not persist, and think that it will be instantaneous like Saint Paul. If we value sin while asking for a supernatural gift(faith), it probably would be wise to give up what’s clinging to us(attachment to sin) so our hearts are ready.(kind of like when you are in battle and you throw off all the stuff(sin)so you can fight ).

          • SnowCherryBlossoms

            You can type whatever you like, and now you are resorting to insulting Christians..Pooh bear? That’s pathetic. Come on!

            • Panikos

              What’s wrong with Pooh bear? It was an example of something nice that you nevertheless wouldn’t worship.

              If you read it in context you’ll see that it was suggested I was afraid that I might suddenly start believing in god if I stood too near a believer. My point is that Christians don’t fear suddenly taking on a belief in bears – or anything else.

              • James Nicholas Wade

                As a Poohist, I take great offense.

                “Sicut ursus desiderat ad amphoras mellium, ita desiderat anima mea ad te, Pooh.”

          • LadyFreeBird<God'sNotDead

            You think that God is losing . But you are wrong . In the (((((END))))) God wins .
            May the Will of God for you Deliverance and your Salvation bo done on Earth as His Will is done in Heaven . In Jesus Name .

            • Panikos

              God is not losing since there isn’t one. Religious people are not losing – at least in the UK – because we don’t stop people believing what they want here. There are a lot less of them, but all the people who want to be religious can be.

              Organised Religion is losing because like the makers of buggy whips there’s little call for what they supply. Even the dwindling numbers of Christians tend to be able to work out their own faith without being lectured.

              • LadyFreeBird<God'sNotDead

                No matter what you believe the Will of God for your Deliverance and your Salvation will be done here as His Will is done in Heaven .
                Not today not tomorrow , but in God’s time . <

                • Panikos

                  What does his will being done here actually mean? Is he going to come and attack me for not doing as I was told?

                  • LadyFreeBird<God'sNotDead

                    God (((((((((LOVES)))))))))
                    you . His Will is not hate .
                    I am not like other Christians you have seen . I am changing . Most Christians are trying to reach the lost through the Human Flesh . We are to reach people through the Human spirit not the flesh .
                    God wants me to Stand in the Gap for your soul for your Deliverance and your Salvation . I am willing to do so . God’s Will is not for you to die in your unbelief . But that you come understand the Truth . God will not force Himself on you . That is how great His love is .If you become Delivered you will be able to understand and will come to God through His Son . Until then I am in the Gap for you . God’s Will for you shall be done . In Jesus Name . In His Time not mine or yours . < < <

        • M. Solange O’Brien

          I come to these sites to learn how theists think, and because I pity them. Apparently you’re here for the echoes. Is your faith so weak and tremulous that it cannot withstand criticism?

          Apparently.

          • tanyahe

            M O’Brien I don’t think so, but as faith is a free gift and I don’t want to tempt God. I’m glad you are curious.

          • Veritas

            You need not be so self-righteous. We do not need nor ask of your pity. If you come here to learn how we think and you pity us, you don’t need to remain here as your mind is already made up. You come to listen to the echoes in hopes that you can cover up your own fears and your own weakness.
            Every time you attack a believer, you bolster your own faith and medicate your own weakness and fear.
            Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.
            IHS.

            • M. Solange O’Brien

              If my mind were made up, I might not be here, but I have compassion for the less fortunate, such as yourself. I feel sorry for you and would like to help you overcome the binders that disfigure your spirit.

              And where have I attacked believers? Pointing out your hubris, your unchristian behaviour, your desire to control and dominate others is merely holding a mirror to your arrogance in the hope of letting you see who you really are.

              As I said, I pity you. I would save you, if I could. But you have already closed your mind to truth, live, and justice.

              • Veritas

                Thanks for good intentions, but I don’t need your help. I am delighted at the hint that you may be searching.
                If you pity me, please pray for me. I will pray for you right now.+++
                Amen. Peace be with you. +

            • LadyFreeBird<God'sNotDead

              Pray for the Will of God for these Atheist who come on to these sites to be done on Earth as His Will is done in Heaven .

              • Emile

                you cant be dead if you never existed

          • LadyFreeBird<God'sNotDead

            May the Will of God for your Deliverance and your Salvation be done here on Earth as His Will is done in Heaven . In Jesus Name
            For God so loved you that He sent His Son to die for ((((YOU)))) ..

      • LadyFreeBird<God'sNotDead

        May the Will of God for you Deliverance and your Salvation Be done here on Earth as His Will is done in Heaven . In Jesus Name .
        May God reach out to you through the very people you (((HATE))) .
        May the Holy Spirit of God Open your eyes,ears,understanding and your Heart , so that you will see,hear,understand and receive God’s Truth ! In Jesus Name . God ((((LOVES)))) you so much .

        • Panikos

          Oh and I don’t hate people for their religion. Really to do that you have to be in a rival religion. Catholics and Protestants killing each other and both killing (and being killed by Muslims.

          You will find I often say that I regard religious people as victims for the most part.

          Some people do become religious later in life after making a conscious decision, but most are trained into believing while they are too small and weak to resist. After that it’s really hard to break out of it so I can’t hate people who still believe.

          • LadyFreeBird<God'sNotDead

            You are the true Victim !!! You are being spiritually deceived . May the Will of God for your spiritual deliverance be done .
            May God’s Holy Spirit Open your eyes . In Jesus Name . < < <

      • Satanist

        Unless if ur Satanist like me, we dont care if u follow our religion or not.

    • Poconos Exile

      Most of us athiests do go our own way and ignore the vitriol heaped upon us.

  • My sense is that those who claim to be atheists do so because of moral and not philosophical factors. Those philosophically inclined may produce philosophical “reasons”, or justifications, but they too are led to this because of moral factors: they simply want to do what God forbids, or don’t want to do what God requires, and so God is rejected from their universe. I find that explained well by Paul in Romans 1:

    Rom 1:18 The wrath of God is indeed being revealed from heaven against every impiety and wickedness of those who suppress the truth by their wickedness.
    19 For what can be known about God is evident to them, because God made it evident to them.
    …..
    21 for although they knew God they did not accord him glory as God or give him thanks. Instead, they became vain in their reasoning, and their senseless minds were darkened.

    This darkening of the mind, this vanity in their reasoning, allows intelligent and educated persons to “conclude” absurdity: that atheism is completely “rational”. This amazing and bizarre result seems now to be overtaking the world – or at least the “developed” West! It seems impossible, but thus is the power of the love of evil.

    • Walter

      How is God evident?

      • Are you one of those you described with, “Some like to debate”?

        If God is not evident to you now, do you think it possible for me to point out what you have not observed to date? Personally, I denied the existence of God for some years, and during that time no “argument” ever persuaded me to abandon the very simple stance, “I don’t see it.” It is amazing what can be overlooked if one wants to overlook it!

        I would suggest that you ask yourself why you might prefer there to be no evidence of a God. Paul’s writing in Scripture points straight to moral implications if there be a God. If a man is free of a God, he is free to write his own rules for life, his own definitions of good and evil, his own license to live as he chooses. All of that individual moral license is lost, if there are objective meanings for every man’s life, and objective meanings for god and for evil. If there is a God, every man must answer to the God who created him out of nothing, and intends for him a certain purpose. All of that is enough to move men to become blind to the God that is self-evident.

        • Walter

          I never said I would prefer there to be no evidence of a God. Many simply don’t see such evidence. If there is no God, then these rules are just manmade. Even if there is a God, why should man follow these rules? Is it because God is all-powerful? Does might make right?

          • I never said that you would prefer it – I said, “I would suggest that you ask yourself why you might prefer there to be no evidence of a God.” Note the “might” – why might you prefer that there be no God? Why might anyone prefer no God?

            No man would admit to himself that he intentionally blinds himself to that which he does not want to be there! No man would confess so quickly that he actually is intentionally deceiving himself! We are too clever for that. No, we insist that we are completely rational beings – and what kind of person would “deceive himself”, if that were even possible!

            So I suggested that you cross-examine the witness (who is yourself, in this case) and probe to find out if the witness is biased toward a certain conclusion. You know, even “scientists” have been caught “cooking” the data to get the results they want to get.

            I hear in Romans (in the section surrounding the passage cited above) that men discarded reason – which points to the existence of God – and because of that inner denial of reason, their subsequent use of reason was fundamentally impaired: “their senseless minds were darkened.” From then on, their “reason” only confirmed their first desire: everything supports the conclusion – there is no God.

            Man was made for Truth. When he lives consistent with truth, he lives consistent with his nature and with God who is Truth. To live contrary to truth, for the sake of a moment of pleasure, is to exchange truth for a lie, it is to embrace deception, falsity. Man cannot find himself, or happiness, or inner peace, in the embrace of a lie. Man was made for truth, and only truth will satisfy him. Life is a search for, a pilgrimage toward and into, truth.

            We live in a culture that speaks of “my truth” and “your truth” and “his truth” – this is a variation on the theme of “every man can make up his own god”. Such is insanity. There IS a LAW of gravity on this earth, and a man can deny it all he wants on the way down to the ground, after jumping from the tall building, but at the end of that short journey, he will learn that it is not “his truth” that matters, but the truth that IS.

            No, might does not make right. Truth makes right.

          • Michael S.

            hence, why should man follow any rules but his own?
            The ruthless superman becomes the highest ideal i.e. Stalin, Hitler and Mao. Like Paul says in Romans and science has proved by abduction that man is without excuse and all the evidence is there to behold.
            Also, it was clear to many rational minds in Germany that there was no apparent evidence that killing six million Jews and millions of others is evil. To them, the rational evidence pointed to the extermination of the Jews in order to benefit humanity based on the “science” of that day i.e. racial superiority….the fruit of genetics combined with the “science” of survival of the fittest. I find it laughable that atheists appeal to rationality when reason alone leads to the justification of ruthlessness. ALL these atheistic arguments were posited widely during the late 19th and 20th centuries with the belief that science and the eradication of religion would finally free man from his problem and the 20th century would be the the turning point for mankind. It was a turning point downward….

            • Panikos

              Not that one again.

              I don’t claim that Hither was a typical Catholic or use him as an example of Catholicism because that would hardly be fair, but that is how he was brought up and he put references to his belief in god in his speeches, on uniforms etc.

              The more general argument that the only thing stopping you religious people committing crimes is fear of god is not something you want to be boasting about.

              The rest of us use reason to decide that it is better for all of us (including ourselves) to live in a society where one isn’t in fear all the time. So we endeavour to make rules to that end.

          • Anthony Zarrella

            No, it’s because if God *is* the all-powerful Creator, then He was equally free *not* to create (or not to create *us*) – therefore, everything we have and everything we are is a gift. It is my impression that even atheists generally recognize the obligation of gratitude.

            And yes, normally gratitude can be expressed in some way short of total obedience – but only because amongst ourselves (fellow humans) we have no experience of needing to express *infinite* gratitude, because no one’s gift to us is ever so total and all-encompassing.

      • How do you know you are capable of apprehending God?

        Viral and bacterial pathogens were fully evident in various historical epidemics over history, it wasn’t until the invention of optical magnification that we could see apprehend their existence.

        Perhaps you need a theoscope.

        • morgan

          DE, I’m not sure what you are trying to achieve, but you are presenting your ‘faith” as smug, repugnant and cheap.

          • Only because your predisposed to being cynical. What is the necessity of putting quotes around faith? Have you read the dismissiveness nonsense of your fellow atheists here?
            We have very limited capacities to apprehend our world. Have you ever read the description of matter in George Gilder’s Telecosm? We perceive a world of objects of physical solidity that largely is empty space. How about N.N. Taleb’s “The Black Swan”.
            L

  • fredx2

    The more I come across atheists, the more I realize they don’t disbelieve in God – they HATE God for one reason or another.

    • ColdStanding

      HATE that God has the nerve to tell them what to do, more like it.

      • fredx2

        • Agnosticism is rational, if you assume that God must provide empirical evidence of existence apprehensible by human beings; but absence of evidence isn’t evidence of absence; (which is why after a successful course of treatment, your doctor’s clinical notes will be noted “NED” or no evidence of disease, not “END” or evidence of no disease). If we can’t prove the confined space of the human body is free of some pathogen, it’s insane to assume there is no God in the universe.
          Atheism might be civil, but it is never rational.

          • Michael s.

            civility is in the eye of the beholder and rational self-interest is the key to success.
            Yours truly,
            Stalin, Hitler and Mao….

            • Well now, that was irrelevant and incoherent.

            • Pat Phillips

              Ayn Rand, more like.

            • morgan

              very poor argument. I can name dozens of murderous popes, Torquemada, and other sundry and unsavory supernaturalists.

          • morgan

            Irrational statement: “Atheism might be civil, but it is never rational”
            I suppose belief in an invisible hierarchy responsible for the existence of the universe is rational?

            • Unless you are panoptical or have prior knowledge of visibility, you can’t declare something invisible.

          • Powerglide

            Well, let’s see. Your omniscient God supposedly wants folks to believe in him, right? And so he knows exactly what kind of rational evidence would convince me, and yet he fails to provide it. How can we explain this paradox? Only one way: there really isn’t any God.

      • former atheist

        It is very interesting when even atheist scientists sometimes inadvertently make admissions to the reality of God, eg:

        Admission by Professor George Wald (a non-believer Harvard biologist): “There are only TWO possibilities as to how life arose:

        “One is spontaneous generation arising to evolution; the other is a super
        natural creative act of God. There is NO THIRD POSSIBILITY.

        He admits that “Spontaneous generation, that life arose from non-living matter, was scientifically DISPROVED 120 years ago by Louis Pasteur and others. That leaves us with the ONLY POSSIBLE CONCLUSION — that life arose as a SUPERNATURAL creative act of God.

        … [yet] I will NOT accept that philosophically because I DO NOT WANT to
        BELIEVE in God.

        “Therefore I CHOOSE to believe in that which I know is scientifically
        IMPOSSIBLE…” (Scientific American 199, September 1958, p.100).

        NOTE – Wald is admitting: In other words “I DON’T WANT to BELIEVE IN a GOD and this decision WILL PRECLUDE all my scientific observations. I DON’T CARE to submit to TRUTH because it challenges my ego – so I will continue to believe what I can see is SCIENTIFICALLY IMPOSSIBLE.”

        NOTE how:

        1. Oxford Professor of Mathematics JohnLennox, also describes such irrational concepts by some atheist “scientists” as “incoherent nonsense” (see God’s Undertaker – Has Science Buried God? (Lion Hudson, Oxford 2009), by John Lennox, Oxford Professor of Mathematics.

        2. This kind of approach to science of IRRATIONAL ABSENCE of LOGIC and un-paralleled ARROGANCE is described by Professor Edward Feser as the “ULTIMATE SUPERSTITION” (see his book: “Atheism – The Last Superstition”).

        3. How in fact it is “atheistic materialism” which actually UNDERMINES
        science, distorting it into something that fails to act for the common good of all.

        4. It is important to NOTE that Professor Austin L. Hughes (Professor of
        Biological Sciences at the University of South Carolina) also WARNS us that this type of “science” [as practiced by Victor Stenger and
        Harvard geneticist, Richard Lewontin and George Wald] is actually
        “SCIENTISM”

        – Hughes WARNS that the DANGER of this “SCIENTISM” (science distorted by selective, inaccurate, incoherent criteria) is that it has much in common with SUPERSTITION.

        • Walter

          How did Louis Pasteur “disprove” spontaneous generation? Was he able to replicate conditions that existed on Earth when life arose?

          • Anthony Zarrella

            No, but scientists have been trying to create life in labs for decades or centuries and have been unable – they’ve gotten amino acids to “spontaneously” (i.e. under carefully controlled conditions and application of precise stimuli – so… not very spontaneous at all) assemble into complex proteins, but they can’t get further than that.

            Let me reiterate and rephrase… Some of the brightest scientists in the world, with staggeringly huge budgets and top-notch equipment, have been making *directed efforts* at creating life, and they can’t do it. But… we’re supposed to believe that “random chance” managed the same feat, sometime in the distant past?

            If the atheist argument *against* God is “no one can show hard evidence that God exists,” then they *must* (to be intellectually consistent) confront the parallel argument that development of life from non-living elements is impossible (via purely non-supernatural means) because “no one can show hard evidence that it can be done.”

            • Are you really suggesting that facts should intrude upon the atheistic rant?

              • Anthony Zarrella

                I keep hoping and praying 😉

            • Pat Phillips

              You’re equating God, which there is no evidence for, with life on earth which there IS evidence for. We have evidence for one of these things and know that things just don’t magically appear, so we can safely assume life emerged from natural causes, can’t we? Not parallel arguments. Not even on the same planet.

              • ColdStanding

                OK then, give me irrefutable proof as to how things do appear then. Indeed, what is “natural” about natural causes? There isn’t a case to be made for saying that natural causes are, themselves, without a cause. In other words, natural causes are complex and not simple. That which is complex is not a principle. Principles are not capable of being reduced into even more simple substances.

                You do know that God is not a “thing” don’t you? Christians do not consider God to be a thing, so your attempt at a refutation fails because you make the category mistake of calling God a thing. This wrecks you syllogism.

                • morgan

                  So no “thing” created every “thing?”

                  • goodold_lucifer

                    Correct. Nothing “created everything.”

                    Nothing caused the universe to come into being. If there were nothing, then there would be nothing. But there is something. We can look around and see that every day.

                • Panikos

                  Still missing the point. Even if we could prove that all science was false that still wouldn’t amount to proof that god exists and wants you to do what his priests tell you to do.

                  “Christians do not consider God to be a thing”

                  I know some Christians think god is a state of mind etc, but lots of them believe he is a god so I guess it’s them I’m talking to. If you don’t believe he really exists then that’s fine. You’re an atheist.

                • goodold_lucifer

                  You do know that God is not a “thing” don’t you?

                  Correct. God is not anything — outside the imagination. God is a fictional character. (And one, moreover, not possibly based on any real person or persons, or anything else real.)

                  • ColdStanding

                    An imaginary object still fits the definition of a thing. As God is not a thing, it therefore follows that God is not imaginary object (a product of the imagination).

                    Besides, the imagination is the wrong faculty by which to understand God.

                    The definitions upon which you predicate your conclusions are unsound. But then, you call him good who was a liar and a murderer from the beginning, so, no surprises there.

                    Cheers!

              • “You’re equating God, which there is no evidence for, with life on earth which there IS evidence for”

                No, there’s no physically observable or measurable evidence for God. Of course, there was no physically observable evidence for time dilation until we had accurate and precise enough chronometers to measure the effect at the puny velocities we are able to achieve.

                In any case, the absence of evidence doesn’t mean evidence of absence.

                • Panikos

                  You can’t prove that I didn’t create the universe, but I bet you don’t believe that I did.

                  • You can’t even create a clever and irrefutable argument. Do you have a birth certificate?

                    • Panikos

                      I don’t have to provide evidence to help you decide if I am the creator or not. You have to decide on faith 🙂

                      Even if I had a birth certificate that might be like the misdirection used by god (fake fossils etc) to make it hard for people to believe he exists.

                • Pat Phillips

                  It’s no coincidence the non-existent and the invisible bear an identical resemblance.

              • Anthony Zarrella

                Not at all. You have evidence that life on earth exists (no one is disputing that), and you know things can’t appear *spontaneously* (that is, with *no* cause). You merely *assume* that the cause must therefore be “natural” (i.e. scientific).

                You’re basing your argument on its own conclusion: “We have more justification to believe that life arose through natural processes than we have to believe in God, even though each is equally impenetrable to experimental evidence, because life has to have come from somewhere, and we can safely rule out God.”

                In other words, “We have sufficient justification to believe that life arose from natural processes because we know that natural processes are the only way life could have arisen” and “We are justified in rejecting the existence of God due to lack of evidence because God is a silly idea and so any evidence that *seems* to point to God must have some scientific explanation.”

                • Panikos

                  But there isn’t ANY evidence that points to god to evaluate.

                  I get that someone might think “hey perhaps this was all made by a god”. It’s speculation, but that’s fine.

                  But then they say “and he told me to tell you that he wants you to not eat pork or beef, he wants you to do this and not that and to stand on one leg on Thursdays and if you don’t do exactly what I say – I mean what god says – then you’ll be in trouble”

                  • Veritas

                    You really need to read more about where these “customs” come from. There are no Church doctrines that require any of these to be necessary; and if it isn’t a doctrine, it can be changed.
                    You show a real lack of knowledge about the Catholic faith.

                    • Panikos

                      So you admit it’s all fiction aside from the assertion that there’s something up there?

                      The whole bible, commandments, rules about marriage and so on? All made up. All the stuff about the crucifixion and forgiveness is just a passing custom?

                    • Veritas

                      I never said or implied that.
                      Since you wrote about “pork,” I was referring to dietary regulations, fasting and abstinence. Customs, not doctrine or dogma. There is an online Catechism of the Catholic Church.

                    • Anthony Zarrella

                      To supplement Veritas’s reply: the Church has changed its mind on many *disciplines* throughout the years (can priests marry, can you eat meat on non-Lenten Fridays, etc.), but it never *claimed* that those were anything more than man-made rules, created by the Church hierarchy based on the *authority* granted to them by Christ. They made the rules, so they can change them.

                      On the other hand, the Church’s teachings on (for example) the *nature* of marriage (i.e., one man, one woman), the ordination of women to the priesthood (i.e., impossible), or the rules on sex before and outside of marriage (i.e., don’t) are *not* mere rules. They are *doctrines* which are *formalized* by the Church, but *made* by God, and so the Church has absolutely no power to alter them in any way.

                      Likewise, the teachings on the nature of Christ, what things are Sacraments, and the canon of the Bible are *dogmas* and likewise cannot be changed (for the same reason). The difference between a doctrine and a dogma is that a doctrine is something that must be *practiced* whereas a dogma is something that must be *believed*.

                  • Anthony Zarrella

                    There is the same sort (I’m not arguing about amount at the moment – I’m talking type of inference) of evidence for God as there is for black holes. Neither is proven by any *direct* empirical evidence – belief in both is justified by the fact that their existence is the best-fit explanation for *effects* that are observed (e.g. the accretion disk and gravitational lensing around a black hole).

                    In other places in this thread, I’ve mentioned (just as one example) the Fine-Tuning Argument – there are over thirty *independent* cosmological variables (i.e. none of the thirty has any observed causative or correlative relationship with any of the others, nor does any one of them have any plausible reason for its value beyond “that’s what it is”), *each* of which must have a value within an incredibly narrow range in order for life as we know it to be physically possible. If any one of these were off by even a fraction of a percent from its actual observed value, life as we know it (and in most cases, the cosmological structure as we know it) would be impossible.

                    All these variables, however, *are* within the proper range. The odds of this being random chance are pretty much literally too small to calculate (the number of zeroes involved before the first non-zero digit would fill pages of text). So, the most reasonable hypothesis is that it *wasn’t* random, it was intentional.

                    That’s one of many observable phenomena that tends to show the *existence* of God. As for the question of morality, it *begins* (though certainly doesn’t end) with the observation that there are certain basic morals that are common to virtually every culture ever. As C.S. Lewis points out, different cultures may disagree on *to whom* one should show loyalty (family, tribe, nation, all fellow humans), but *no* culture praises traitors or promise-breakers, and different cultures may disagree on *when* one should be brave, but no culture exalts cowards.

                    The fact that there are some laws that seem to be written on men’s hearts raises the question of why they are there. Some can be explained as evolutionary herd advantages, but not all (plus, the very idea of genes propagating because they benefit the herd, even though they *disadvantage* the individual carrier flies in the face of natural selection, and has [to the best of my knowledge] never been proven by any amount of hard data, only hypothesized by a number of [admittedly intelligent] scientists).

                    • Panikos

                      I don’t agree that there is any evidence for religion at all, BUT for the sake of argument let’s say there was the same amount as for black holes as you claim.

                      That will be why I don’t believe in either and nor will most scientists. Black holes are not something to be believed in. We know they may turn out not to exist. They are simply the best explanation so far for the observed effects.

                      A comparison would only be reasonable if we passed laws saying it was blasphemy to suggest they didn’t exist and banned any further research. And of course if religious people went around saying ‘of course god might be just a story’.

                      As for fine tuning that’s easy to knock down.

                      Write down any 7 numbers. Now look at them and say “oh wow! what are the odds I’d write down THOSE 7 numbers”.

                      Now that’s silly right because you could say that about any numbers. It’s only astounding if you believe you were ‘meant’ to write down those ones.

                      Because you believe the purpose of the universe was to create humans you are astounded that it succeeded. But the universe wasn’t aiming at anything. If it had turned out differently then maybe there’d be no life. Or two gaseous creatures would be hovering near a neutron star saying “gosh, it’s so impressive that the universe fits our needs. It must have been intended to.

                    • Anthony Zarrella

                      OK, 1) Please read more carefully. I *specifically* said that I was talking about *type* of evidence, not *amount*.

                      2) I don’t think it’s possible to maintain that “most scientists don’t believe in black holes” unless you shave your definitions so finely that “belief” can refer only to a belief that something is 100% certain. Scientists most certainly *do* believe in black holes, and (in the appropriate disciplines) talk about them frequently with the same non-hypothetical language they use to talk about binary stars, supernovae, etc.

                      Put another way: either scientists “believe in” black holes, or you’d also have to say that “most scientists don’t believe in” quarks, electrons, photons, dwarf stars, or the earth’s core (because none have been directly observed, or proven beyond all possible doubt, only posited as best-fit explanations of observed measurements and phenomena). If that’s how you’re using the term “believe in” then it’s not the way I’m using it, and it is largely irrelevant to most theological discussions as well.

                      3) Neither I, nor any Christian I know of (though I’m sure they exist) is in favor of anti-blasphemy laws, nor laws restricting the freedom of people trying to disprove the existence of God. This is a complete and utter straw man.

                      Likewise, no scientist will say, “Black holes might be just a story.” If you press them, they’ll admit, “OK, well, we can’t definitively prove black holes exist, but they are the best fit for the observed data.” And most Christians (or at least most Catholics – I am Catholic, so I can’t speak to the beliefs of fundamentalists) will admit, if pressed, “OK, well, there isn’t definitive evidence that God exists, but there’s enough evidence to convince me that He does.”

                      So, if your whole argument is against this caricature of Christianity where “we” (i.e. your imaginary Christians) say, “There is absolute and incontrovertible proof that God exists, and anyone trying to say otherwise should be silenced,” then you’re jousting at windmills – the vast majority of Christians (and virtually all Catholics, *especially* the most conservative of us, who are more likely to have studied the official doctrines of the Church) don’t think like that, and would be right there with you arguing that such a view is both false and morally wrong.

                      4) You’re making the argument from the so-called “Weak Anthropic Principle” – that it is not remarkable that our universe is ideally tuned for life, because if it were not, we would not be observing it.

                      This has two flaws: A) it more-or-less requires a “multiverse” to be posited (i.e. a situation where there are multiple universes with multiple configurations, and we are only observing ours)… and there is no evidence for this (in fact, it is *literally impossible* that there ever *could be* any evidence for this) except that it allows for things like the WAP to be posited.

                      If there is *not* a multiverse (if our universe is the only one), then the aggregation of matter into coherent structures *at all* is a statistical anomaly, much less the existence of life.

                      The fact that we have only a sample of 1 is no barrier to concluding that the result is anomalous, if the hypothesis is that the result ought to be a result of true randomness. If there were only a single coin in the world, and it would self-destruct after being flipped once, but upon that one flip, it landed not on heads, not on tails, but on edge… we could and would still conclude that that was a remarkable result, even if it was not statistically impossible (because the odds that *that one flip* would land on edge were infinitesimal).

                      B) The WAP does not accord with the way in which we *actually* evaluate seemingly-random events in real life. If you roll a six-sided die 100,000 times, and it comes up 6 *every time*, you don’t just shrug and say, “Huh, well, I guess there was, after all, a [(0.166^100,000)x100]% chance of that happening. That’s cool.” No, you say, “This must not really be a ‘fair’ (i.e. random) die.”

                      Likewise, imagine a mad bomber kidnaps you and straps you to a device, then tells you, “This device will shuffle 52 decks of cards, then draw the top card from each deck. If *every* card drawn is the Ace of Spades, the device will release you, harmlessly self-destruct, and you’re free to go. If not, you explode.”

                      The device activates, and, lo and behold, 52 Aces of Spades turn up. Do you say, “Wow, I was really lucky! I managed to hit the one-in-1.707×10^89 chance of that happening!”? Or do you say, “That guy must have been a nutjob, but not a murderer, because he must have rigged the machine to produce that result.”?

                      What about in a scientific experiment? What if you observe 100,000 random particles moving in Brownian motion, and they all have the *exact same* velocity? Is it scientifically rational to shrug it off as a really weird, but statistically possible coincidence? Or is the rational reaction to say that there *must* be some explanation? Now, in this case, the explanation could be a heretofore unknown law of physics… but what if the particles are all moving in the precise pattern of a classical waltz? Could there be any scientifically rational explanation that *doesn’t* include some variant on “some intelligence is controlling them”?

                    • Panikos

                      I get your objections to what you call the Weak Anthropic Principle (I just call it my opinion), but you are still seeing this universe as something to be aimed for like a complete set of cards. So you see it as a success and a remarkable success given the odds against it.

                      But it isn’t a complete set of cards in order. It’s just that you like the order they are in and define that as a complete set.

                      You think it was harder for the universe to arrive at this point in this condition than to become something else and I think that’s just the golf ball thing again. Hit a ball and there are so many factors (wind, friction etc) acting on it that it would be a miracle to hit a particular blade of grass. So whichever blade of grass it hits you can say it was a miracle.

                      “unless you shave your definitions so finely that “belief” can refer only to a belief that something is 100% certain”

                      About this. I am talking about 100% certainty and in any case am not talking about belief in the way religious people use the word. I can be reasonably certain that gravity makes things stay on the floor so I rely on it. I might say “I believe it” but really that is short for ‘I accept this is most likely true for practical purposes until evidence for the contrary turns up’. I will talk as though it always works because for practical purposes it does. I don’t have ‘faith’ in gravity. It wasn’t a moral decision to believe in it.

                      Those scientists may be reasonably sure about black holes, but show them proof they don’t exist and they will cease to think they do and move on.

                      Religious belief is different. It is a sign of weakness and immorality to doubt your own religion and a virtue to believe without evidence. Believing after you have seen proof to the contrary makes you an even better person.

                    • Anthony Zarrella

                      “But it isn’t a complete set of cards in order. It’s just that you like the order they are in and define that as a complete set.”

                      No, I see that the order they’re in is remarkably fortuitous, and *therefore* I see that as reason to believe they must be a complete set (defined by a controlling intelligence). Like I said, it’s like the Mad Bomber example – it isn’t any “harder” for a randomly shuffled deck to produce an Ace of Spades than any other card, and it isn’t any “harder” to produce 52 Aces of Spades than any other 52 cards – it’s just much less likely (more on this in a sec).

                      “Hit a ball and there are so many factors (wind, friction etc) acting on it that it would be a miracle to hit a particular blade of grass. So whichever blade of grass it hits you can say it was a miracle.”

                      You’re comparing the wrong two things. It’s no more or less likely for the golf ball to hit one single blade than to hit any other blade (in the same general vicinity) – but that’s like saying if you have a bag of one red marble and 99 black, it’s no more or less likely to draw the red one than to draw any *particular* one of the black ones. True, but irrelevant.

                      If we define “red marble” as “universe capable of supporting life” and “black marble” as “any other universe”, then sure, the odds of any single marble are equal to the odds of each other marble… but the relevant comparison is “odds of red vs. odds of black.” If there are a functionally infinite number of marbles, and only a very small number of them (even, say, a few hundred thousand) are red, then it would indeed be a statistical anomaly to draw a red one on *any* draw, but *especially* on the *first and only* draw.

                      Think about how you would react in a real-life situation (rather than a wild hypothetical or a scientific scenario where you have a vested interest in assuming randomness): I show you the aforementioned bag, and I tell you it has… let’s say 1,000 marbles… and one is red. I ask you to bet me $20 that I can’t draw a red on in one try. I then draw a red one (after you agree). Will you give me $20? Or will you ask to see all the marbles, assuming that I must have cheated somehow (with extra red marbles, or by making the red one a different texture, or whatever)? Unless you’re very gullible, you’ll do the latter – not because you don’t believe that it’s *possible* to hit on a 0.1% chance, but because it’s unlikely enough that you assume there is *likely to be* an explanation other than chance.

                      “you are still seeing this universe as something to be aimed for like a complete set of cards.”

                      I assume you’ll make the same objection to my marble analogy, so I’ll answer this down here. Think about it – why should the fact that I’m *trying* for a red marble make it any more or less probable that I *get* one (unless I’m cheating). If you really want a non-goal-oriented analogy, imagine a complex computer program that is supposed to run a very detailed process approximating a natural phenomenon that is known to be random (or at least pseudo-random), like the scatter pattern of raindrops. Now imagine the computer churns out its first 100,000 outputs, and they’re all identical. Do you assume that the program is working as intended (i.e. giving random outputs) and you just *happened* to get 100,000 identical ones in a row, or do you assume that the programmer screwed up somewhere, and the outputs aren’t actually random at all?

                      This is the principle SETI works off of – if we receive signals from space that are neither simple repetition nor complete randomness, but rather, display some sort of complex pattern, then we will assume it is evidence that the signal is generated and transmitted by an intelligence – even though it is mathematically *possible* for a totally random emission of waves to fall into what *appears* to be a pattern for a while. Any so-called “scientist” who received a perfect Fibonacci sequence from beyond Pluto and dismissed it as “no more or less likely than any other random sequence of blips” would be tossed out on his ear the same day (and subject to ridicule from the scientific community).

                      Seeing a very distinct and highly improbable pattern in something *assumed* to be random leads to the *totally rational* conclusion that it isn’t really random. It doesn’t *prove* that it isn’t random, but it shifts the burden (i.e. “non-random” becomes the working theory which must then be disproven by showing why a truly random mechanism led to this seemingly-designed outcome).

                      “About this. I am talking about 100% certainty and in any case am not talking about belief in the way religious people use the word. I can be reasonably certain that gravity makes things stay on the floor so I rely on it. I might say “I believe it” but really that is short for ‘I accept this is most likely true for practical purposes until evidence for the contrary turns up’.”

                      Well, then you’re talking about the word “belief” in a way that very few theists would use the word. When I say, “I believe in God” or “I believe in gravity”, I’m using the same word in the same way. I mean, “I have good reason to accept this as true, and no good reason to reject it, so for all practical purposes, I assume its truth.”

                      It is true that many people will conflate “faith” and “belief”, but I try not to – “faith” is a virtue, a choice, and a conscious act, while “belief” is a psychological condition of being convinced of something’s truth (not necessarily to a 100% level). And, yes, I know that this “blurring” of the two terms occurs even in the Bible – I’m not criticizing the Bible, but it wasn’t written as a philosophically or theologically rigorous textbook, after all.

                      “It is a sign of weakness and immorality to doubt your own religion and a virtue to believe without evidence. Believing after you have seen proof to the contrary makes you an even better person.”

                      It is indeed a virtue to believe on faith alone, but it does not follow that it is a sin to rationally evaluate religious claims. God gave us rational minds for a reason. Take a look at this sometime for a Catholic perspective on reason and science (apologies to the mods if outside links aren’t allowed – please just edit out the link, if you can, not the whole post):
                      http://www.ewtn.com/library/papaldoc/jp961022.htm

                    • Panikos

                      Well argued, but it still seems to me that the value we place on life is what gives a universe which allows it its significance. That an outside observer would have been just as impressed and awed whatever the universe looked like. That a particular set of rules might allow the existence of ‘wibbles’ and the observer would reason that this must have been the plan.

                      For what it’s worth, I think cosmologists are suggesting the existence of a meta universe containing an infinite number of universes each different.

                      It’s an elegant answer, but I have no idea if there’s any truth to it. I’m certainly not qualified to judge it. In any case I don’t think we need it.

                      No matter how attractive the theories are it’s important to remember that we don’t actually know. So I wouldn’t base an important decision on any of these ideas. Which is why I’m an atheist as that would mean picking an explanation and deciding it was correct. I’m an atheist on the subject of the meta-verse too.

                      I certainly wouldn’t say – as some religious people do – that ‘god must have done it’ and therefore that god is Jehovah(or Allah) and therefore he wants me to do various specific things and makes specific promises.

                      I’m fine with people who think that ‘some kind of god might have set it in motion’ if that’s where they stop.

                      On the subject of faith and belief I think it would be less confusing if we banned both words and required people to use a whole sentence instead which spelt out what they meant by it.

                      It gets conflated with ‘trust’ too which can be worse. You can only ‘trust’ someone/something you know. To trust someone to exist is meaningless.

                      Thank you for the link. To me that’s an example of the church retreating before scientific progress rather than embracing it. Millions still believe in a literal Adam & Eve, but other Christians find this embarrassingly at odds with the facts so they try and incorporate them into their belief structure. We now have people leaning towards god letting evolution create the body so he can insert a soul. The article wasn’t very specific so I’m partly going by what I’ve read elsewhere. It’s a desperate plan since it can be knocked down so easily.

                      If you go that way you would have god inserting the first soul in a child born of a sufficiently advanced pre-human. So the daughter gets a soul while the parents don’t. Evolution being so gradual the difference between parent and child would be so minor that it wouldn’t make sense to draw the line there or anywhere else.

                    • Anthony Zarrella

                      “For what it’s worth, I think cosmologists are suggesting the existence of a meta universe containing an infinite number of universes each different.”

                      Now *that* is a theory without a shred of evidence. Even if you find the evidence advanced by theists to be unconvincing, you have to admit it’s better than “We think there might be other universes out there, even though *by definition* it would be utterly impossible that we could *ever* have any empirical evidence of them.”

                      “I’m an atheist on the subject of the meta-verse too.”

                      I suspect you mean agnostic. The meta-verse theory has nothing to do with God, so the word “atheist” doesn’t really apply.

                      “I certainly wouldn’t say – as some religious people do – that ‘god must have done it’ and therefore that god is Jehovah(or Allah) and therefore he wants me to do various specific things and makes specific promises.”

                      You’re missing that inferences beget inferences. If I can deduce that “some kind of god might have set it in motion,” then I can use *that* fact to reason, “OK, if there’s a Creator, then certain facts about Creation might give me clues as to the attributes of such a Creator.” I can then deduce intelligence, and the possibility of miracles, and from there, I can analyze historical data to discover that there’s actually some pretty decent historical evidence for a guy named Jesus making some miracles happen. From there, I can deduce a decent likelihood that the rest of the Bible is true, and then, huh, I’m a Christian.

                      Obviously, none of those deductions are simple or self-evident. What I just wrote is not intended as an actual argument for Christianity – it’s an outline of the *steps* one might use to reason from “some kind of god might have set it in motion” to Christianity. Thus proving, not that Christianity is true (that would take far more argument than I’m willing to type out here), but that it is possible for a wholly reasonable person to reach that conclusion (once you’ve accepted, as you have, that “some kind of god” is a reasonable belief to have).

                      “On the subject of faith and belief I think it would be less confusing if we banned both words and required people to use a whole sentence instead which spelt out what they meant by it.”

                      That would be clunky, but precise, certainly. That’s the issue with language – it’s always a tradeoff between precision of meaning and ease of use.

                      “Thank you for the link. To me that’s an example of the church retreating before scientific progress rather than embracing it. ”

                      Not at all. The Church *never had* asserted that evolution was false (though of course some individual clergy may have). Even back in the whole Galileo controversy, Cardinal Bellarmine (who was in charge of the whole affair) wrote, “I say that if there were a true demonstration that the sun is at the center of the world and the earth in the third heaven, and that the sun does not circle the earth but the earth circles the sun, then one would have to proceed with great care in explaining the Scriptures that appear contrary, and say rather that we do not understand them than that what is demonstrated is false.”

                      In other words, the position of the Church was always that our interpretation of Scripture must be guided by demonstrated scientific fact, not the other way around (that is to say, science is given preeminence in the field of those facts which are possible to test by science, and Scripture is the ultimate authority on matters of doctrine and such transcendent facts as are *not* possible to test by science – like the existence of God or the soul). Galileo got in trouble not because the Church hated science, but because he refused to stop promoting his theories as *fact* contrary to prior interpretation of Scripture, when the Church was not convinced that they had been sufficiently proven.

                      According to Wikipedia (not the greatest source, I know, but this is a com-box, not a dissertation), “Modern physicist Pierre Duhem “suggests that in one respect, at least, Bellarmine had shown himself a better scientist than Galileo by disallowing the possibility of a ‘strict proof of the earth’s motion,’ on the grounds that an astronomical theory merely ‘saves the appearances’ without necessarily revealing what ‘really happens.'”

                      “If you go that way you would have god inserting the first soul in a child born of a sufficiently advanced pre-human. So the daughter gets a soul while the parents don’t. Evolution being so gradual the difference between parent and child would be so minor that it wouldn’t make sense to draw the line there or anywhere else.”

                      That’s only if you assume strict Darwinian evolution. That’s insufficient in two respects:
                      1) If you’re allowing the possibility of God, you have to also allow the possibility that evolution was *guided* rather than random, and that therefore God had an endpoint in mind already which would be the “cutoff” for humanity – in which case the distinction would be non-arbitrary (just like it makes sense to stop a chemical titration after 10 drops instead of 9, not because there’s a huge difference, but because the 10th drop put you over – or under, depending on which way you’re going – the concentration threshold you were aiming for).
                      2) Even setting God to one side, we know that evolution is not always gradual. There is the theory of punctuated equilibrium, which posits that long periods of little-to-no change are followed by periods of rapid, drastic change (which nicely explains why we don’t have a complete fossil record – just a bunch of serial links, which seem to have a lot of empty evolutionary “space” between them).

                      Also, microevolution (change *within* species, or speciation of *very similar* species) is the only kind that has been proven by actual data. Macroevolution (change from one species to a substantially different other species) is still only a working theory. No one has yet been able to prove (for example) that humans came from primates. We have human-like primate fossils, and primate-like hominid fossils, but no clear proof that the latter *came from* the former. I’m not saying I categorically deny macroevolution – I’m saying I’m agnostic as to macroevolution, in the same way as I am agnostic as to string theory. Either or both may be true, but neither is sufficiently proven except by a present absence of alternative explanations.

                    • Kilo4/11

                      Given the way I swing, if I managed to avoid a tree, a trap, the rough, etc., and hit the green, it absolutely would be a miracle!

                    • Kilo4/11

                      You are just saying the materialists’/atheists’ beliefs are better or more acceptable than those of a religious person. Just because the belief in gravity is based on observable phenomena, and because this does not entail making a moral decision, it takes precedence over/has more prestige than a belief in a supernatural being. In other words, what you like is better than what I like.

                      It may or may not be a sign of weakness to doubt one’s own religion, but what matters far more to Christians is that we acknowledge to God and to man that we all are weak, and act with commensurate humility.

                      We have never seen proof to the contrary of God, it is only that the smoke and mirrors of this fallen world obscure Him at times. But you are right about one thing: continuing to believe through it all does make one a better person, though some of us have a tougher row to hoe and a longer road to travel to reach “better” than others…

                    • goodold_lucifer

                      The odds of this being random chance are pretty much literally too small to calculate (the number of zeroes involved before the first non-zero digit would fill pages of text). So, the most reasonable hypothesis is that it *wasn’t* random, it was intentional.

                      Reality being controlled by “random chance” is just as much a fantasy as reality being controlled by “supernatural power.” Neither is possible.

                      Note also that the notion that the conditions for the existence of life being set up intentionally is a contradiction — since there could not have been any intentions before there was anybody around to have them. Intentions are a conscious, i.e., sentient, process.

                    • Anthony Zarrella

                      I agree that the “random chance” proposition is silly (though, as I mentioned a minute ago, I wonder what you think the right answer is, if it’s not random and not guided by a higher power).

                      “Note also that the notion that the conditions for the existence of life being set up intentionally is a contradiction — since there could not have been any intentions before there was anybody around to have them. Intentions are a conscious, i.e., sentient, process.”

                      You are artificially conflating “life” and “consciousness” with “biological life.” There is no logical reason that consciousness must be housed within matter – it is simply the state which we observe to be true here on earth. If you conceptualize God as some “uber-organism” then sure, it is absurd to say that He created life – but that’s not how Christians conceptualize Him. He is Spirit and Will (and Love, and other things, but for our purposes, this will do).

                    • goodold_lucifer

                      You are artificially conflating “life” and “consciousness” with “biological life.”

                      There is nothing artificial about it: that is precisely the natural state of affairs.

                      There is no logical reason that consciousness must be housed within matter – it is simply the state which we observe to be true here on earth.

                      That fact that that is invariably and inescapably what we observe is exactly what makes it the logical reason to accept the fact. Cognitively, fantasizing about the supernatural does not trump reality.

                    • Anthony Zarrella

                      You do so love your word games, don’t you? Appropriate, I suppose, given your choice of moniker.

                      “There is nothing artificial about it: that is precisely the natural state of affairs.”

                      I mean “artificially conflating” in the sense that they are not (grammatically or semantically) identical concepts, but you are treating them like they are, merely because they appear to be always united in reality.

                      “That fact that that is invariably and inescapably what we observe is exactly what makes it the logical reason to accept the fact. Cognitively, fantasizing about the supernatural does not trump reality.”

                      I assumed it was obvious that when I speak of “logical” reasons, I mean those that are compelled by the rules of logic and the definitions of terms *alone* – *without* empirical data about the “world-as-it-is”.

                      So, it is “logically necessary” that squares have corners (because the very definition of “square” includes corners), and “logically impossible” to have a square circle (because the definitions contradict one another), but it is not “logically necessary” that the force of gravity varies with the square of the distance between two bodies – that is a conclusion arrived at and compelled by the *application* of pure logic to *empirical* data. If the data were different, the law would be different.

                      I assume you don’t reject the very *possibility* of meaningfully reasoning about a counterfactual case? (I.e. an “if” that isn’t actually true, like “If I were sick today, I would have skipped work” when I am not sick, and not skipping work)

                    • goodold_lucifer

                      I assumed it was obvious that when I speak of “logical” reasons, I mean those that are compelled by the rules of logic and the definitions of terms *alone* – *without* empirical data about the “world-as-it-is”.

                      It does seem clear that you prefer word game fantasizing over sticking to reality. I stand up for sticking to reality.

                      It is true that “God” is a word used “*without* empirical data about the “world-as-it-is”. That’s why being an atheist, per se, makes sense, while being any variety of theist doesn’t make sense.

                      If you don’t base your definitions on empirical data, you don’t really have any definitions of terms. You may play at having a definition of “God,” you may even feel very strongly that you have one, but it is a cognitively empty term (lacking reference to empirical data from reality).

                    • Anthony Zarrella

                      You are making up definitions of philosophical terms, totally divorced from their meaning in any philosophical tradition.

                      “Cognitively empty” means that it is impossible to conceptualize what the term means. It does *not* mean that the term has no referent existing as a an observable phenomenon. I can conceptualize a female President of the U.S., even though we’ve never had one. I can conceptualize Abe Lincoln standing amid the neon lights of Times Square. I can conceptualize a flying car. None of those are based on any empirical data, but I can conceptualize them just fine.

                      And, just to anticipate the most obvious rebuttal – I realize that those are all *combinations* of concepts that each *independently* can be imagined. So is (the basic idea of) God – I have verifiable proof of something that has the power to do *a* thing, so I can extend that to the idea of the power to do *any* thing. I have verifiable proof of knowledge, so I can posit a being with *all* knowledge. I have the concept of a world created by a being that is not contained within it (i.e. an author writing a story), and so I can imagine that *our* world is created by an external Author.

                    • goodold_lucifer

                      I have verifiable proof of something that has the power to do *a* thing, so I can extend that to the idea of the power to do *any* thing.

                      That is precisely what you can do. That is how the imagination can work. But that is not analogous to imaging Lincoln in a neon-lighted Times Square. You can think about Lincoln because he was a real human. But when you try to think about God, you don’t have such a basis in reality; that’s pure imagination (religious, i.e., blind, faith).

                      The “IDOL” — Intelligent Designer Of Life — is fantasy fiction (to bring back something from the old Rabbi Maverick thread).

                      And note that you cannot really conceptualize God, since there are no real particulars to deal with. You can only try to imagine that there is something to which no limits apply.

                    • Anthony Zarrella

                      So what exactly is the difference between “conceptualizing” and “imagining” and why is something I can only “imagine” but not “conceptualize” called “cognitively empty” in your lexicon?

                      Also, just for fun, try to conceptualize 100,000,000 tomatoes. Not “a lot” of tomatoes – 100,000,000. Is it a distinct mental image from that of 99,999,999 tomatoes? If not, then is the concept, “100,000,000 tomatoes” cognitively empty?

            • goodold_lucifer

              But… we’re supposed to believe that “random chance” managed the same feat, sometime in the distant past?

              The notion that “random chance created life” is nonsense — just like the notion that “a supernatural God created life.” Both notions ignore nature and causality.

              Your assumption that abiogenesis has to be supernatural has no basis in reality.

              • Anthony Zarrella

                If you reject random chance, and you reject supernatural abiogenesis, what is left?

                Please note, when I say “random” I don’t mean in the same sense as a fair die is “random” (i.e. equal chance of all outcomes) – a die with three 6’s, a 1, a 2, and a 3 is still random, just with a higher probability of a 6 (just clarifying).

                • goodold_lucifer

                  If you reject random chance, and you reject supernatural abiogenesis, what is left?

                  Natural abiogenesis.

                  In terms of knowledge, it is always better to take the naturalistic approach — and reject the random vs. miraculous false alternative.

      • Matt McDowall

        Yet again to my above point….use some logic….Do you hate Allah because he has the nerve to tell you what to do? Do hate the jumbo squid joo joo monster from Papau New Guinea?

        Really, a six year old could refute these comments….

        • ColdStanding

          Er, no. I reject, presuming you are referring to the muslim, Allah because the message that mohammed purports to have received from this Allah does not bare the criteria of a divine message. I don’t hate this jumbo squid thingy you name because it would be irrational to hate a figment of your imagination. Especially given that squid are so yummy.

          I believe because of having had the Gospel preached to me sufficiently that I was able to make a judgement of credibility. In other words, the message Jesus Christ publicly proclaimed is credible and worthy of my belief. Yes, I do take it on faith, just not faith in the sense that I surmise you think it means.

          The One, Holy, Roman Catholic and Apostolic faith is eminently reasonable, true and profound. You really do not have anything to worry about as to the truth of the Catholic faith. The waters great! Wash away those sins that are making you so dang grumpy.

          Unless, of course, you just bitterly resent it that God, having made you, has rights over you and is perfectly within said rights to tell you what to do.

          But that there would be the fault of your pride and not a fault of the Christian Gospel or the Holy and Undivided Trinity.

          Cheers!

        • “the jumbo squid joo joo monster”

          “Really, a six year old could write these comments….”

          However, it is an improvement on the tirade with the f-bomb payload elsewhere.

      • morgan

        No. More like you have the nerve to tell us what your god wants us to do.

        • ColdStanding

          God, Whom I adore, made all things visible and invisible. Is it my fault it makes more sense to listen to His advice than your’s?

          Of course not. God’s advice is better than yours. It is right and just to live by His Holy commands.

          • Powerglide

            Like his holy commands to commit genocide? I’d look for a better moral guide.

            • ColdStanding

              God made the Amalekites. They were His to do with as He saw fit.

              He has pronounced a sentence of death over you too. Your days are numbered. When you least expect it, you will be taken.

              Prudence would suggest you’d better get ready for that.

              But, alas, you don’t care for wisdom. Sucks to be you.

              • Powerglide

                So much for Chritianity,s claim to objective ethics. And I’m fascinated to discover that you approve not only of slavery, bot also of killing disobedient slaves.

                • ColdStanding

                  You are a slave to sin. Right now, this very instance, you are a slave. It is your very disobedience that makes you so. Your master, Satan, seeks to put you to eternal death. Yet, not a peep from you about that.

                  Why do you ponder hypothetical situations, or ask me to, when you are a real slave?

              • Dan Rusak

                Did you forget about the babies that god killed?

        • Veritas

          Stop telling us what to believe. Stop assuming you are greater than the Church. Stop worshipping your own ego.
          I think you show a clear lack of understanding of mystery and mystical things. Did you read nothing but science growing up? To quote you, “What don’t you understand about that?”

      • Powerglide

        You guys can’t even agree on what God supposedly tells us to do. Maybe when you figure that out, you can start psychologizing atheists.

        • ColdStanding

          No. I’m not going to wait.

          • Powerglide

            So tell me, then, what are your credentials for psychologizing atheists’ states of mind? And where is your research? Or will you just make it up? That is, after all, just par for the course in religion.

            • ColdStanding

              Who needs to go to school or get credentials for, as you say, “psychologizing” (I don’t think that is a real word) atheists’ states of mind? What so-called institution of higher learning could impart it anyways? How foolish it would be to waste one’s precious time on it.

              No, the ancient teaching, which can be had by prayer and reading, are much more reliable.

              You are a stiff-necked fellow clamping onto your sins with all your might and you are on the road to Hell. Still time to get off of it.

              • Powerglide

                In other words, you have no basis for you claims. Thanks for the clarification. And, yes, it is a word.

                • ColdStanding

                  You are welcome.

    • Walter

      Maybe they don’t like being psychoanalized.

      • Powerglide

        Certainly not by incompetents with no expertise in the field and who just make it up as they go along.

    • former atheist

      Do you find that these are people who have no intention to live by the Ten Commandments, refuse to acknowledge any God, make their own rules according to “dog-eat-dog” criteria of the world they live in … then when things crash all around them, they turn around and blame God or deny His existence (“see … if there was a God he would never allow this to happen!).

      These people forget that by saying to God “get out of my life – I don’t need you to tell me what to do” … God can only reply “as you wish”.

      Why would God say that?
      Because we have been given the gift of Free Will – which means it is WE who get to have the last say in the way we choose to live. Even though God is capable of knowing what the outcome will be, He nevertheless still FIRST waits for each of US to decide which “fork in the road” we will choose to take.

      To the person who banishes God from his life, God can only reply “as you wish” and then removes his protective hand against the flood of evil that engulfs the stubborn person who demands his own way instead of wisdom.

      • Kaleb Brouillette

        You cannot prove that gods exist and you can’t prove that they don’t.

        • As a purely intellectual and pragmatic matter, Pascal’s Wager offers some sage advice regarding this uncertainty.

          • morgan

            Pascal’s Wager is for simpletons. It turns religious belief into a lottery ticket. To me, that cheapens the concept of god.

            • In other words you can’t dispute it so you’ll dismiss it. Why would you care if it cheapened a non existent entity?

          • Powerglide

            Actually, it commits the fallacy of false dichotomy and has no force whatsoever.

          • Panikos

            Pascal’s wager is amusing, but can’t be taken too seriously,

            It doesn’t give enough consideration to the cost of worshipping a god when there isn’t one. The time and inconvenience, The restrictions of thinking that are required.

            It seems to ignore the possibility that if you pick the wrong god to worship and there is a real one he might be more angry than if you had simply been unconvinced.

            Oh and it assumes god won’t torture you for trying to trick him even if you picked the right one.

            • It doesn’t say worship

              • M. Solange O’Brien

                It says, as I recall, believe. First, belief is not usually a matter of will. Second, belief comes with material consequences.

                • You have visceral reaction and belief confused.

              • Panikos

                It implies it since simply believing is not enough in most religions to get you into heaven.

                And really do you think pretending to believe would work? Is your god so foolish?

        • Matt McDowall

          you cant prove leprechauns exists either, doesn’t mean you believe in them.

      • Panikos

        The free will argument can be shown to be nonsense. Simply ask why god would let a small child die in agony in an earthquake or anything else mankind has no control over.

        God isn’t evil. He’s just a story.

        • Veritas

          Why don’t you talk about the bad people God killed in a firestorm?
          A moment ago I thought you were Bart Ehrman. No, actually you are James Cameron.

          • Panikos

            So you don’t have an answer then?

            That’s ok I didn’t expect you would.

            • Veritas

              I do have an answer.
              You really do not care about the victim of a natural disaster, the weak and downtrodden. You use them only to vent your anger at God, the Church, and fallible Christians. You could not care less about people and you are a sophist attempting to bait or antagonize rather than to “OPEN” your heart and your mind to answers. You have also revealed something else to me: it is not that you don’t believe in God because of these things that render creation to be less than perfect, but you are angry at God and you want to publicly deny him and mock him. You do believe in God, you simply hate Him.
              Furthermore, “ok I didn’t expect you would” is arrogant and condescending and shows that you are not “above it all” because you think you are more intelligent than believers. By extension, you are also saying you are more knowledgeable than the creator.
              You are using natural disasters to deny that God is good or even that he exists. Your kin folk here state that we believers invented God because we are afraid to die. I am sensing that you too have the same fear. The only difference is that you will live a life without hope, and you will die this way too.

      • Powerglide

        Evidence for this wild claim? Please show me that atheists suffer more evil than believers.

      • Walter

        The world doesn’t work that way. Plenty of atheists totally ignore this religious business and prosper. Meanwhile plenty of religious people follow the 10 commandments and the world still comes crashing down around them. It’s just the luck of the draw.

    • Matt McDowall

      Actually No. you see Atheists go where the evidence leads. Science is the best tool we have to determine reality…hence SUPRISE – the more scientifically literate you are, generally the less religious.

      Secondly, saying we hate God is nonsensical…Do you hate Thor? or Zues? obviously you do because you don’t believe in them right? …wrong.

      Do atheists hate the concept of god maybe a better question. No more than we hate a fictional character in a movie. EG. We like the good guys but hate the villains.

      C’mon, do you guys even think before you post this stuff!!!

      • ColdStanding

        Actually, no. There isn’t anything particularly special about the mental capacity of those that self-identify as holding the position that there is no God. The evidence has lead far more people to accept that Jesus Christ is the Son of God when presented with the evidence than not. Statistically, people are far more likely to believe in some sort of supernatural higher power than not. They are generally much happier for doing so than those that do not. Yet, faced with strong empirical evidence of a natural inclination in human beings to believe in God the so-called “scientifically literate” “thinker” refuses to acknowledge that there is anything to it or must put themselves on a hamster wheel and pretend that their furious activity is eventually going to get them somewhere.

        People walk and for a purpose: there is some place they need to go. People breath and for a purpose: there is something in the air they need. People believe in God and for a purpose: there is a God and we need to believe in him. Belief is to God what breathing is to air. All of these characteristics that human beings have you have no quarrel with except the one that obliges you to moderate your sinful behaviour. That isn’t following the evidence. That is garden variety wilful denial.

        Atheism can only be believed by the intellectual, easily puffed up as the are, that thinks his ability to reason is genetically superior to other human beings. This is properly called vanity or vainglory. It is a capital sin. Bad.

        What passes for scientific culture today bears more resemblance to a cargo cult than valid philosophically adept intellectual tradition.

        • Panikos

          We have an inbuilt urge to look up to someone stronger and wiser than us and do what he says. Yes, that will be your dad. But it’s meant to wear off when you mature.

          Btw, the majority of religious people believe jesus is NOT the son of god. Just thought I’d mention that.

          • ColdStanding

            Water flows downhill. It is only when struck that it flies up, say Mencius.

            You have also drawn a conclusion base upon a false premise. The majority of people is one set of comparison and the majority of people that have heard the Gospel is another. You have substituted the former into your syllogism when you should have used the latter.

            Cheers!

            • Panikos

              “the majority of people that have heard the Gospel is another”

              You think the only reason Muslims,Hindus, Pagans etc follow their religions is because they’ve never heard of your one?

              Even most Christians don’t believe what you do. I can say this with confidence because whichever branch you follow there are tens of millions of Christians who don’t belong to it.

              Oh and most atheists who post about it have read your holy book too. It is frequently why they are atheist.

              • Veritas

                So, stop wasting your time here looking for trouble.
                Read the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Start reading what the responses are to other faiths within and without the Catholic Church.
                Read also Church history. There you will find the rise of heresies that have been answered by the Church. The heresies will continually be put down.

                • Panikos

                  “The heresies will continually be put down”

                  The other denominations have been round a long time so good good luck with that.

                  In any case Christianity is itself just a spin off of Judaism – not the original in any real sense.

                  • Veritas

                    “just a spin off of Judaism.”
                    You lack knowledge. Jesus’ coming was foretold through the Old Testament. The folks like you, back then, rejected the prophesies because, like you again, they were looking for a material or political messiah.

                    • Walter

                      “Jesus’ coming was foretold through the Old Testament.” Then why did the Jewish authorities, who were well-versed in the Old Testament, not accept him?

                    • Veritas

                      Probably for the same reason that Socrates was forced to drink hemlock. But, you do know the reason why he wasn’t accepted, so why ask? I answered your question already.

                  • Anthony Zarrella

                    As long as any other denomination has been around, the Catholic Church (and the Eastern Orthodox Church) has been around at least 1,500 years longer (or, nearly 400% as long) – based on a date of 1517 AD for the inception of Lutheranism, the oldest surviving Protestant denomination. I don’t mean that as a put-down to our Protestant brethren, who are our fellow-travelers in Christ’s Way, despite our real and significant disagreements – just wanted to correct the record.

                    Second, Christianity is not a “spin-off” of Judaism – it is a *fulfillment* of Judaism. We don’t reject anything in the Hebrew Scriptures (i.e. Old Testament) as false.

              • Anthony Zarrella

                It’s true, there is no denomination that can claim a numerical majority of Christian adherents. This says *nothing* against the notion that a *vast* majority of all Christians (regardless of denomination) do believe that Jesus is literally the begotten Son of God.

                Second, if what you say is true (and I doubt that it is) – that atheists are frequently atheists *because* they have read the Bible – then you’re essentially claiming that atheists are frequently intellectually immature and/or petulant, and will assume that an idea is false merely because either A) it is admixed with other ideas that they find non-credible, and/or B) it offends them.

                • Panikos

                  Yes quite a lot of Christians believe Jesus is literally the begotten Son of God. By no means all and we’ve even got bishops who think it might be a metaphor.

                  Meanwhile billions of other religious people know for a fact that Jesus was NOT the son of god, but a prophet.

                  They are just as sure and they get their information from prayer and the holy books.

                  These huge disagreements between different religions and between the members of the religion demonstrates that the means all religious people use to arrive at their beliefs just doesn’t work.

                  As for your claim about people who read the bible and reject it you missed out ‘studied it and found it no better than other fiction of its kind”.
                  You should read it yourself and you’d know what I mean. Most Christians accept it without reading it and reject the Koran without reading it.

                  • Anthony Zarrella

                    “These huge disagreements between different religions and between the members of the religion demonstrates that the means all religious people use to arrive at their beliefs just doesn’t work.”

                    That hardly follows. If ten explorers explore the same jungle, and then they give ten different reports of what they found, it *could* mean that they all have no clue, or it could mean that one of them is both honest and correct and the other nine are either lying or confused. Without knowing more about them and their experiences, we can’t know.

                    In the case of Christianity, as I’ve pointed out, we’re *not* just one more religion making totally unsubstantiated claims based wholly on a sacred text that is itself based entirely on supernatural revelation. The entire New Testament (with the arguable exception of the Book of Revelation) is first- or second-hand accounts of events that purportedly occur at a verifiable point in history. We have lock-solid *proof* that Jesus existed, led a new religion, and was crucified (several non-Christian historians, notably Josephus, attest to this), and we’ve found manuscripts or fragments of most of the books of the New Testament that can be dated to a time and place which makes it highly plausible that they were written by (or at the dictation of) people who personally knew Jesus and/or one or more Apostles.

                    “As for your claim about people who read the bible and reject it you missed out ‘studied it and found it no better than other fiction of its kind”.”

                    Like I said, I can’t speak to the historical verification of the Old Testament (I’ve just never studied the subject of its provenance), but as to the New Testament, its status as a series of witness testimonies by people who were actually there is as well-attested as (if not better than) any other historical document of that era.

                    “You should read it yourself and you’d know what I mean. Most Christians accept it without reading it and reject the Koran without reading it.”

                    I’ve read the Bible cover-to-cover many times (including the Deuterocanonical books), read certain parts more times than I can begin to count, and read excerpts amounting to probably about half of the Koran. Not to mention that in the Catholic Church, if you attend Mass frequently, you’ll hear most of the Bible read at Mass over the course of any given three years.

                    • Kilo4/11

                      Keep it up and stay strong, Anthony! You are fighting my fight for me as I type: Yesterday I received an email from an old friend (his response to my sending him this Crisis article) that got under my guard and landed one on my chin. The guy has my number; or it is just due to our former closeness and the trust I had in him – he was my best man – but for some reason I find myself very disturbed by his response. He has his atheistic argument down to a science – I almost want to say to black magic. In fact… well, more on that later. But very concise and with almost lyrical language. I am not about to lose my faith, but I was so uneasy I stopped by a church this morning and spent thirty minutes in adoration of the Host. I’m going to post his email later and I am going to ask you and the other stalwarts of our Faith here for help. Thank you, again, Anthony.

                    • Anthony Zarrella

                      Thanks for the support! I’m humbled to hear that my posts have been of help, and I hope they will be in the future. As you’ve correctly perceived, of course, some time with Our Lord in the Host is sure to be far more valuable than anything I could type, but if He wants me to supplement His work, I’m happy to serve.

                      I’ll be interested to see this email when you post it, but in the meantime, I’ll pray for you – and for your friend (and I can always use prayer too, if you have the time)!

                      Ad majorem dei gloriam! (Some modern-day Jesuits may occasionally have questionable theology, but they still have a *great* motto!)

                    • Kilo4/11

                      Well, Anthony, here’s my [ex]-best friend’s email. As he admits, and as is obvious in his response, he barely glanced at the article and probably spent even less time on the comments.

                      No mention of your and bassbait’s very detailed exchange, to which I had specifically called his attention, hoping for a response worthy of the seriousness of that discussion. The
                      dismissive and disrespectful tone infuriates me, but that’s neither here nor there. Upon rereading it, I can see that, among other things, his contention that “Given that science has shown us beyond doubt that our present web of life has
                      developed slowly over many millennia from simple to more complex, we can dismiss the idea of a one-off creation as a poetical myth” was refuted farther downthread, had he
                      bothered to read that far. Your calling attention to Occam’s razor and that by referring to God’s creative act, we arrive at the explanation of why there is something rather than nothing that relies on the fewest brute facts, which is therefore the most plausible one, is one refutation, and there were others.

                      There are other points in his email that I might be able to
                      refute myself, on a good day, but, as I said, he got to me and I feel the need of assistance on this. As young students, Cliff and I were very close, but at the time, I had no idea how militant his atheism was, thinking him just another laid back hedonist like me in those days. As he began to reveal it to me a few years ago, I have been constantly kept off balance by the novelty of his story and the glibness of his prose.

                      Frankly, I want to see him get a good drubbing – logically and
                      respectfully, of course, but something that puts him on the defensive at the least, and maybe, just maybe, wipes that sneer off his face. Here’s the offending email, and with your permission I’ll relay your response to him, to see if I can’t get him to come on site and debate you:

                      “I had a quick look at this before getting up for work. Given the source of the article I wasn’t expecting other than a doctrinaire defence of faith, which is what I got. It’s a little weak. The notion that everything has a purpose is unsupportable. The idea that someone or something designed trees to provide animals with oxygen
                      only makes sense to someone already suffering from the God delusion. The fact is that in the complex web of life every strand is supported by every other strand. Given that science has shown us beyond doubt that our present web of
                      life has developed slowly over many millennia from simple to more complex, we can dismiss the idea of a one-off creation as a poetical myth. If we agree that this complexity developed slowly over time then of course it is obvious both why and how each strand supports the others. We need no divine guiding hand for this, it just happens naturally. It’s the nature of organic life. Now I’m am not averse, hypothetically, to the notion that the universe, as a whole, is inhabited by some kind of cosmic intelligence, something akin to Coleridge’s vast, plastic spirit that “moves through all things and becomes their
                      soul.” But the bearded guy in the sky–all rhymes too well with pie.

                      Atheists are just people who have looked to the heavens with open eyes and seen no gods, who have looked though the holy texts and found, mixed with the piety, hate, violence, contradiction. Atheists have come to the only logical conclusion, that the multitude of conflicting holy texts were all written by men trying to explain the unexplainable, that the universe is a product of physics in action, that the earth and everything in it is a pure cosmic fluke, and that ultimately
                      we are all doomed.

                      None of this will stop me from playing tennis, enjoying my breakfast cereal, cooking a nice dinner, or writing essays that will join the dust and the echoes of long gone aspirations
                      at the end of time.”

                      You can see he’s got a way with words, but now that I’ve looked at your responses to, for instance, Panikos and goodollucifer – I don’t think you’ll work up much of a sweat with my old mate. Have fun!

                    • Anthony Zarrella

                      Hi, Kilo – glad to help, and of course feel free to pass it on to him (or anyone). The whole reason I use my real name and picture is that I make a point to never post anything I’m not willing to be known for.

                      Here goes:

                      “The notion that everything has a purpose is unsupportable. The idea that someone or something designed trees to provide animals with oxygen only makes sense to someone already suffering from the God delusion.”

                      I wouldn’t go for “unsupportable,” but I’ll start by admitting that it’s not self-evident, and probably not readily provable. Aristotle tried, but fell into fallacy in the attempt.

                      You can knock off the sneering “delusion” language though. If I want to read Richard Dawkins, I have a library card. You want to claim superior rationality? Let’s debate like rational, civil people. I’ll assume that you are intelligent and rational until and unless proven otherwise, and you do the same for me, and for your friend Kilo.

                      “Given that science has shown us beyond doubt that our present web of life has developed slowly over many millennia from simple to more complex, we can dismiss the idea of a one-off creation as a poetical myth.”

                      And if we were talking about “one-off” creation, you’d have a point. But *most* Christians (and all Catholics) don’t deny that life went through *some* sort of gradual development, or that there were species before humans, and so forth.

                      However, two points must be raised:

                      1) Science has shown us beyond doubt that microevolution (change within a species or speciation of very similar species via genetic drift) happens. Science has given us macroevolution (change from one species to a substantially different species) as a best-fit hypothesis for the fossil record, but has never provided any direct evidence that it actually happens or has happened. I’m not saying it’s false – just that it’s hardly “shown beyond doubt”.

                      2) Evolution per se does not prove *random* evolution. There is nothing science has proven (and likely nothing science *could* prove, even in principle) that would rule out the existence of a guiding force directing evolution.

                      “If we agree that this complexity developed slowly over time then of course it is obvious both why and how each strand supports the others. We need no divine guiding hand for this, it just happens naturally. It’s the nature of organic life.”

                      Obvious how, perhaps. Obvious why? Not so much. Besides, how and why did it *start*? Ever since Pasteur nixed the idea of spontaneous generation (i.e. abiogenesis), science has had absolutely no explanation for how a bunch of non-living elements became living things. The whole “lightning into primordial soup” idea is the closest science has to a theory, and it’s very stubbornly refused to work in a lab (let me repeat – in a *lab*, with *directed effort* and *ideal conditions*, scientists have been unable to make life happen… but a random lightning strike into some random puddle is supposed to have succeeded?).

                      “Now I’m am not averse, hypothetically, to the notion that the universe, as a whole, is inhabited by some kind of cosmic intelligence, something akin to Coleridge’s vast, plastic spirit that “moves through all things and becomes their soul.””

                      Coleridge wasn’t the first – look to Spinoza. Pantheism is older than you think.

                      The problem with it is that you have all the *difficulties* of standard theism (the positing of non-physical reality, the “where did God come from” issue, etc.) with *none* of the explanatory benefits.

                      Besides, if you can accept a supernatural intelligence, moving through things and having at least some scant causal role in the world, then how can you dismiss a supernatural intelligence with a *greater* causal role? (And if your “plastic spirit” has no causal role, then you’re “conceding” a bunch of placating gibberish – because admitting that there might be a God if and only if He is insubstantial, powerless, and irrelevant is not admitting anything at all.)

                      “But the bearded guy in the sky–all rhymes too well with pie.”

                      A facile attack on an even more facile straw man. No mature, adult Christian believes that there is a “bearded guy in the sky.” Try making an argument against something we actually believe, and try using reasons, not catchphrases and bon mots.

                      “Atheists are just people who have looked to the heavens with open eyes and seen no gods”

                      And decided that if you don’t see God, He can’t be there, because only that which *you*, personally, can directly perceive can possibly exist. The testimony of scientists as to the results of their experiments is good enough for you, but the testimony of millions of believers throughout history equates to “no evidence at all”.

                      “who have looked though the holy texts and found, mixed with the piety, hate, violence, contradiction.”

                      As to hate and violence, you’re trying to judge by your own moral standard, when the whole point of the exercise is that you’re not the ultimate arbiter of right and wrong. It’s fine for you to deny that there is a God (well, not “fine,” but rationally defensible), and it’s fine for you to come up with your own moral code, but to say that God isn’t real *because* His laws violate your moral code is just not taking the terms of the argument seriously.

                      *If* there is a God, *then* His morality supersedes yours (because He is the Lord, Creator, and ultimate Existence, and you are just a person, with fallible reasoning and judgment). So if you are going to evaluate the laws that we claim are His, you have to evaluate them *as* the laws of a God, not as a political platform that you may or may not support.

                      To do the latter is, in the same breath, to posit (arguendo) that God exists and is therefore the Author of those laws, *and also* that those laws are subject to your own standards. You are positing man judging God. By what right could you possibly do so?

                      As to contradiction, you’re eliding two arguments. The argument that *different* holy texts contradict one another is one I will address below, where you’ve stated it explicitly.

                      The other argument – about contradictions *within* a holy text – is another straw man (though I assume unintentional this time).

                      There are a few Christian denominations that believe that every word in the Bible is literally true in every possible respect – historically accurate, scientifically accurate, metaphysically, theologically, etc. Catholicism is not one of them.

                      We believe that the Bible is inerrant on matters of doctrine and dogma, but not necessarily historical or scientific detail.

                      So, if one Gospel says Jesus celebrated Passover a one particular point in His ministry, and another has a different time given, we just say, “OK, maybe there’s a reading of these that harmonizes them, and maybe not. If not, well, the Evangelists were writing to communicate truths of faith, not to produce a documentary or a travelogue. Maybe they didn’t think a detail was important enough to fact-check, or maybe it was literary license. What matters is what He taught, not exactly when or where.”

                      Likewise, if Genesis gives two different accounts of the creation of Man, we simply assume there are two complementary truths to be communicated, not that God created Man twice, or literally shaped him from clay (though He could have), or that the writer was confused.

                      “Atheists have come to the only logical conclusion, that the multitude of conflicting holy texts were all written by men trying to explain the unexplainable”

                      First, contradiction *between* holy texts is not evidence of the falsehood of *all* of them. As I pointed out to someone else in this thread, it *could* mean all are false, or it could mean all but one are false. Out of 100 competing Charlie Chaplins at a look-alike contest, one of them just might be the real deal (and get shafted with third place… but that’s neither here nor there).

                      Second, if the Bible were composed of nothing but “just-so stories” like pagan myths, then maybe you’d have a point about explaining the unexplainable, but it’s not. I’d give more counterargument, but you’d first have to give more argument, and less dismissive condescension.

                      “That the universe is a product of physics in action…”

                      OK… but physics says “ex nihilo nihil fit” – “out of nothing, nothing is made.” So where did the universe come from? And, if you assert that it simply always was, then you cut yourself on Occam’s Razor, because that leaves an *awful lot* of brute facts and unexplained happenstance.

                      “That the earth and everything in it is a pure cosmic fluke…”

                      And why is that rational to believe? Why is it more rational to say that *every single thing that exists* came into existence by a *ridiculously improbably* set of random flukes than to say that there’s an intelligence that lovingly crafted it all?

                      “None of this will stop me from playing tennis, enjoying my breakfast cereal, cooking a nice dinner, or writing essays that will join the dust and the echoes of long gone aspirations
                      at the end of time.”

                      Sure, and again, you’re arguing against an argument that hasn’t been made. We all know that atheists can, at least potentially, enjoy their lives, and maybe even believe that they can find meaning in life (though I’m not sure how – what would *give* life it’s meaning?). But you only get this life (unless our prayers for you succeed in making a difference). We get eternity.

                      I don’t mean that as an entirely conclusory assertion. I mean that even if I were horribly crippled in an accident and couldn’t do any of the things that bring me joy, I could still find meaning in life because I know that it’s not all I get. If you were in the same scenario, correct me if I’m wrong, but I suspect you’d be one of those opting for assisted suicide. For me, pain is an opportunity for grace (not one to be casually sought out, but still…) – for you, pain… mostly just hurts.

                      I have much more to say on the subject, but rather than trying to dump every argument I can possibly marshal into this com-box, I hope you’ll accept the invitation to come to the site and debate me, so I can tailor my arguments responsively to your objections.

                      Pax Christi tecum.

                    • Kilo4/11

                      BTW, Kilo is part of my screen name, the one I use when not commenting on Chronicles.

                    • Anthony Zarrella

                      Oh, I figured – I just didn’t see your real name anywhere, so I figured it was simplest to address you by screen name. If what you’re implying is that you’d prefer I use the full screen name, rather than part, then I apologize and will be sure to do so in the future.

                    • Kilo4/11

                      Anthony, Looks like I goofed. This whole thing was supposed to go to my friend’s inbox, and I was alerting him to my screen name, which he’s never seen before. I’ll have another try.

                    • Anthony Zarrella

                      No problem at all!

                    • Kilo4/11

                      Anthony,

                      This will be a preface to any further remarks I
                      may get to after I’ve caught up on your and Cliff’s debate.

                      I’m coming to the conclusion that Cliff is best left alone. I do not see the faintest sign any more that he is arguing in good faith, so to speak; that is, with a view toward arriving at the truth. (And I’m fairly certain that most of what I’m saying here, except for the biographical details, can also be said of goodold_lucifer.)

                      In fact, I am now nearly convinced that Cliff has so thoroughly given himself over to hatred of religious belief, and of the
                      very thought of God, that he has been noticed by the Enemy, and is, in fact, receiving diabolical assistance. I am deadly – in the fullest sense of eternal, spiritual death — serious in saying
                      this.

                      I’ve known Cliff since 1974, when we met as adult students attending high school/university matriculation classes in Sydney, Australia, his hometown, where I lived for five years during my turbulent post-Vietnam war service re-adjustment period.
                      I have noticed him changing over the years from an easy-going, moderately liberal secular humanist, for whom religion had no noticeable importance, into an outspoken and increasingly bitter opponent of religion and the very idea of faith.

                      For instance, over the past couple of years, his facebook attacks on Tony Abbot, the Australian prime minister, have reached a nearly frantic pitch. He contrives to ground most of his vitriol in terms of disagreements over economic, environmental, immigration and other materialistic policy issues.

                      But when he turns to Abbot’s personal life, the teeth are bared and the attack turns ugly – pornographic images, filthy language – and it becomes crystal clear that his political criticism is just a
                      cover for his all-out hatred. (Not at all coincidentally, Abbot is a
                      church-going Catholic, a Church-married, to all accounts faithful husband, and doting father of three. He has a masculine, straight-arrow appearance, is active in sports, and has said moderately traditional things about the role of women and marriage.) This is where previous intimations I’ve had about Cliff began to gel.

                      What I’ve come to believe is that, when it comes to certain debate opponents, one must be cautious in allowing oneself to be drawn out. In warfare, there are tactics designed to feign weakness or retreat in order to draw the enemy into a trap. Also there are weapons that are designed to wound but not kill. In debate,
                      especially on topics involving matters of faith, we must be aware that the Enemy is also known as the father of lies. When we find one who never gives in, never seems to run out of time or
                      energy, is never completely pinned down, never lacks for another twist to his logic, another novel turn of phrase, always has another barrage of impressive-sounding verbiage, another rhetorical arrow, we would do well to take stock and consider
                      a temporary withdrawal from the field. I believe that some of these ones’ words are literally poisonous, and can silently but devastatingly weaken our faith. This in no way means that their words convey the truth; it means that we are weak – heck, the whole advertising industry and much of our economy depends on this weakness – and this particular enemy is stronger than any one of us alone: after all, Our Lord Himself, being man as well as God, included Himself “…and deliver US from evil…” in His great
                      prayer.

                      So I called on you because I felt I was up against an enemy whose strength was greater than mine, and I see you, Anthony, the way a superannuated spear-carrier in the ranks sees a young champion. We glory in the young man’s strength and
                      agility and love to see him hew down the enemy. But we also fear that, perhaps a little too confident, he may be drawn
                      into a trap and killed. That was where all this came from, and what I’ll leave you with for now.

                    • Panikos

                      We don’t have lock-solid *proof* that Jesus existed. The few independent mentions of him (and yes I know about Josephus) are quite vague and by people who hadn’t met him. It’s been a long while since I looked into this, but some of the quotes used as proof are only proof that a few generations later there were Christians. There are all kinds of holes in the gospel accounts too.

                      Also none of these independent people thought to mention the really amazing events which supposedly occurred at the time. To pick an example there is no mention of the dead people climbing out of graves and walking round saying hi to people. That might have been worthy of a note somewhere – had it actually happened.

                      But really it doesn’t really matter if Jesus existed or not. I think it likely that someone did exist and preach and set things off.
                      We can be sure that the founders of the mormon church existed, but this says nothing about any connection to god.
                      My point about the disagreements between religions can’t be answered by saying that some might be right and some wrong.

                      They claim to have a means by which to know what the truth is. To have a source of information that is indisputable. So the disagreements prove that they do not have such a method or such a source.

                    • Anthony Zarrella

                      “We don’t have lock-solid *proof* that Jesus existed. The few independent mentions of him (and yes I know about Josephus) are quite vague and by people who hadn’t met him.”

                      First, you’re categorically dismissing the Gospels themselves. Holes or not, they still purport to be first-hand accounts, and can be authenticated as well as most historical documents of the time.

                      Second, as I’ve said before, by that standard, we don’t have any better evidence of *many* historical figures. Alexander the Great, for example – to the best of my knowledge, the earliest surviving mention of him is from the First Century BC, almost 200 years after his death in the Third Century BC (and that source is actually a secondary reference *to* a lost document purported to have been a history of his reign).

                      By contrast, the Gospel of John dates to approximately 90 AD (60 years after Jesus died), the letters of Paul go back as far as 51 AD (only 21 years after), and the writings of the Church Fathers (who would have been able to speak directly with the Apostles, who spent time with Jesus) are all within the first 100-150 years after His death.

                      By any neutral historical analysis (i.e. one that doesn’t *assume* that any account including supernatural events is unreliable and therefore can be dismissed), we have better evidence of Jesus than of almost any other figure of that era.

                      “They claim to have a means by which to know what the truth is. To have a source of information that is indisputable. So the disagreements prove that they do not have such a method or such a source.”

                      No, it simply means that *at most, one* of them has such a method or source. I agree that mutually contradictory “truths” cannot all be true. But that only means that there are *two* possibilities, not only one.
                      1) None of them are true, OR
                      2) Exactly one of them is true.

                      If ten peasants all claim to own the same cow, it doesn’t logically follow that none of them own it. It only follows that *at most, one* owns it. You *might* have ten false claimants, or you might have the true owner and nine pretenders to the title.

                      Likewise, if all the world’s religions claim to have an infallible source of knowledge, you *might* have a whole group of phonies, or you might have one true religion and all the rest are false. The mere fact of disagreement doesn’t make one of those scenarios more plausible than the other.

                      As another interesting analogy proven by history (more for amusement than argument) – the fact that there are dozens of Charlie Chaplin impersonators gathered for a look-alike contest doesn’t prove that one of them isn’t *really* Charlie Chaplin (he took third place in the competition, if you’re wondering).

          • “We have an inbuilt urge to look up to someone stronger and wiser than us and do what he says.”
            Which is why atheists quote Richard Dawkins, Stephen Hawking and Neil Degrasse Tyson ENDLESSLY.

        • morgan

          “The evidence has lead far more people to accept that Jesus Christ is the Son of God when presented with the evidence.”
          And what “evidence” would that be?

          • Veritas

            His Church has stood the test of time.

            • LadyFreeBird<God'sNotDead

              Amen !

            • Walter

              So far.

        • Powerglide

          If believers actually baed their belief on evidence, there,d be no need for faith. Actually, most believers have never looked at the evidence at all. They believe because their parents did.

          • ColdStanding

            That, however, is not the case for me.

            Faith is of the utmost importance. It is the key ingredient. There is no salvation without faith. It isn’t the only thing needed, but faith can not be dispensed with. However, the fallen man, washed clean by the laver of salvation, does require a period of time to get used to operating on faith.

            Here is an idea: why don’t you get down on your knees and humbly pray to God in Heaven for the faith you need for the salvation of your immortal soul?

          • LadyFreeBird<God'sNotDead

            May the Will of God For your Deliverance and Salvation be done on Earth as His Will is done in Heaven . In Jesus Name .

      • Science told us there were black holes, and everybody accepted their existence as fantastic realms revealed to us by science.. now, not so sure..

        http://www.newsobserver.com/news/local/education/article10078808.html

        • Panikos

          That’s the wonderful thing about science. Because we don’t worship it we don’t suffer a loss of faith if we find a more accurate answer.

          Not that the researcher has actually disproved black holes yet, but it will be exciting if she can.

          • Veritas

            Black holes, blue holes, who gives a rip.
            It tells us not that God doesn’t exist, but how he did it.

            • Panikos

              “how he did it”

              You know I had a thought the other day. If you were an infinitely powerful god then yes you could create the universe as it is now. You could put in all the natural laws that keep things going. A kind of giant clockwork device with every part fitting together to make the planets spin, the rain to fall and so on.

              But…. If you were an infinitely powerful god why would you have to create it so that it worked on its own? Why not simply ‘wish’ it to be as you want it from moment to moment.

              It’s like watching a human builder making part of a wall stronger to take the strain. The human builder only has to do that because he isn’t infinitely powerful and can’t just wish it would hold.

              • Veritas

                You want to understand the mind of God. God is Love. And, as CS Lewis said, the converse to that statement is not true as it would limit God.
                What does quantum physics say about Love, Panikos?

                • Panikos

                  Ah yes. the old “but love can’t be seen” argument.

                  At its heart (pun intended) love is an instinct built in by evolution. It’s no more supernatural than the wind. (We can measure the wind and we know what it’s made of and the causes for it.)

              • Anthony Zarrella

                It’s an interesting question, Panikos. Perhaps if you or I were an infinitely powerful *and infinitely wise/intelligent* God, we’d know the answer.

                My best guess is that God *wanted* there to be predictable laws that we could discover through reason, because He wants us to be stewards and co-heirs of creation, not mere inhabitants of a world that stays or changes on the every whim of an unknowable intelligence. In other words, He *could* be capricious, but He doesn’t want to be.

                • Panikos

                  He *could* be capricious, but He doesn’t want to be.

                  But then he put in fake dinosaur bones right? 🙂

                  Another thought. Have you noticed that anything god ‘does’ that is pleasing can be pointed to as proof of his love etc, but anything that is immoral or doesn’t make sense is outside of our comprehension.

                  • Anthony Zarrella

                    “But then he put in fake dinosaur bones right? :)”

                    I take it the emoticon means you’re just razzing me, but just in case you’re a little bit serious, I’ll reiterate that I’m not that kind of Christian 😉 I believe the earth is very, very old, and that there were plenty of species that vastly predate humanity. (The validity of any *particular* fossil, I leave to the archaeologists)

                    “Have you noticed that anything god ‘does’ that is pleasing can be pointed to as proof of his love etc, but anything that is immoral or doesn’t make sense is outside of our comprehension[?]”

                    I’ve noticed that some Christians have made those sorts of arguments, sure. I tend to think that love is an easier thing to intuitively grasp than purpose, which explains some of it, but I agree – anyone who *wholly relies* on pleasant facts or events to “prove” God’s love, but then relies on mysticism to explain bad things is being, at best, intellectually and theologically shoddy (though perhaps very pious and faithful all the same). Intellectualism is warmly welcomed by Catholicism, but not required.

          • You don’t find more accurate answers you find contradictory answers..chocolates bad for you no wait it’s good…

            • M. Solange O’Brien

              Science is the best possible tool we’ve found to arrive at truth. Religion’s got nothing. Not a word on chocolate.

              • Veritas

                “Religion’s got nothing.”
                How do you propose changing the current state of social illnesses that have brought about so much devastation? If you want to give the secular reply, you might as well think about LBJ’s War on Poverty and Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s prophetical analysis of it, even before Johnson launched it.
                Sorry, MSOB, you’ve got nothing.

                • Veritas

                  Yeah, I see the redundancy. Ha ha.

              • tanyahe

                Chocolate is good, and good for you, just get the kind without soy:) Saints Nicholas and Valentine pray for us..

              • Better to be silent, than wrong.

      • SnowCherryBlossoms

        Atheists go where the evidence leads. Science is the best tool we have to determine reality… so you are saying science and evidence, both based on created matter is your way to disprove God? Where did the ‘stuff’ of science come from?

    • Pat Phillips

      As an atheist I not so much disbelieve in Santa Claus as I hate him. Mostly because he’s wronged me and I refuse to honor a Non-existent that has done something bad to me.

      • ColdStanding

        Santa Claus is a real person. St. Nicholas was bishop of Myrna in what is present day Turkey and is famous for punching the arch-heretic Arius in the face for his blasphemies. The Church has declared him holy, aka Santa, or a saint. He now enjoys the Beautific Vision of God for all eternity. He is a powerful intercessor for the faithful before the thrown of Heaven.

        I totally believe that there is a St. Nicholas. But he is in heaven not the north pole. It really isn’t a good idea to go around saying you hate him. Arius died on the crapper when his guts spilt out.

        Don’t blame us for your problems because some group or another of apostates and heretics messed around with the story. The Holy Catholic Church told them not to, but no, they were all such smarty-pants and didn’t want to listen.

        • morgan

          Santa Clause was a creation of Coca Cola in the 1920’s.

        • Jason Wills

          That story about St. Nicholas coldcocking Arius at Nicaea is probably a myth. Arius later came to accept the doctrine of the trinity and I don’t think it was a punch in the nose which convinced him.

          • ColdStanding

            It is a pious tradition, and I receive it with the necessary disposition.

        • Pat Phillips

          Replace Santa with unicorns, leprechans, fairies, ghosts. It make little difference.

          • ColdStanding

            What a lazy answer!

            • Veritas

              They use the same talking points. They’ve become a cliché.
              CS, I wish I knew why these serious minded atheistic thinkers have not invested more time in objective research. Why they haven’t read the CCC or much of the vast treasures in the Vatican Library; the writings of the Doctors and Saints and the apologists.
              I mean, they demean us, they mock us, they want to take away our right to religious freedom, but they don’t take the time to study what we believe.
              I don’t read much science (oh yes, Mr. Materialist reading this, you say “it’s obvious”) but I welcome it and do not feel threatened by it. Science does not command these atheists to reject faith; their pride commands them to reject faith.

              • ColdStanding

                I am no spiritual director, so please take this or leave it, but might I suggest that in your meditation you recollect Our Savior, Jesus Christ, cruelly crowned with thorns.

                Just because they will not spend time with these rich treasures, doesn’t mean you can’t. More the better!

                • Veritas

                  Thank you.

                  • ColdStanding

                    Hey, look what I found. Right to the point. Try reading a few of these.

                    http://catholicdivinewill.blogspot.ca/2008/06/divine-will-volume-two.html

                    • Veritas

                      How does one remove all of one’s posts? Stopping will be the first step. I apologize to all who have been offended by my (fill in the blank). All praise, glory, and honor to you Lord, Jesus Christ.

                    • ColdStanding

                      What’ch you thinking of doing? How is taking your posts down going to help? Seems kind of dramatic.

                    • Veritas

                      I take it from what you wrote and from another dissenting commenter that my posts are a little too uncharitable. I can take criticism and I am quick to apologize when I have offended somebody. Or, am I misinterpreting your suggestion? In any case, my comments don’t need to appear here.

                    • ColdStanding

                      Honestly I had not noticed you being uncharitable. It is a common fault. It is a common accusation! Ah! now I see how you are reading my comments. Please don’t think I meant to rebuke you. Just a suggestion to spend more time thinking about how He has suffered – and does still today! – mightily to redeem us from our sins.

                    • Veritas

                      I misread your comment and although there was no intended rebuke, I needed to tone it down. I think the dissenters here sometimes try to lay a little guilt on us for “not being good examples of Christ” or in not being effective evangelizers, but I should remember that Jesus was not always nice either: “You brood of vipers,” his anger in the Temple, etc. I am now thinking of The Screwtape Letters and how the devil tries to disarm us.

                    • ColdStanding

                      Pray and don’t worry.

      • “I refuse to honor a non-existent entity that has done something bad to me.”
        Wow, that’s utterly irrational.

        • Pat Phillips

          Yeah, you have to see the post I was responding to for it to make sense as non-sense.

    • morgan

      Not true at all. That’s a common misconception among supernaturalists.
      While it is true that some lapsed believers call themselves incorrectly as Atheists,
      not all Atheists are like that, nor has something “bad” happened.

    • Powerglide

      Evidence for this idiotic view? Atheist no more hate God than we hate the Easter Bunny. You can’t seriously hate what doesn’t exist. If there were a god, then,yes, I’d probably hate him. He’s got a lot of ‘splainin’ to do. He can start with Auschwitz and brain cancer in children.

    • M. Solange O’Brien

      Apparently you know very few atheists. I’m sorry; broader experience would prevent you from making hasty and inaccurate generalizations.

    • LadyFreeBird<God'sNotDead

      Bingo .I think you are right .

  • Ruth Rocker

    When my children were growing up, they, like all children, began to rebel. Generally against the house rules, but eventually to rules in general. I told them repeatedly that just because you choose to ignore or break a rule doesn’t mean the rule doesn’t exist or isn’t right. This is the same thing. God exists as is evident to anyone with an open mind willing to merely look around and see the wonders that surround us. Beautiful skies full of clouds, or sunrises, or sunsets. Up north are the Aurora Borealis, truly spectacular to see. How anyone could look into the heart of a rose and assume it was created in all it’s loveliness merely by chance is an amazing ability to disregard one’s own senses.

    Atheists are like little children who stick their fingers in their ears, screw their eyes tightly shut and go “la la la la” to avoid hearing or seeing what they don’t want to.

    • Walter

      Many listen and hear nothing.

      • Keep listening.

      • kendallpeak

        I told an atheist friend once that God answers all prayers. I encouraged him to pray for faith in God every morning for a month as an experiment. He did, and now he does. Glory be.

        • Matt McDowall

          How about the 20 000 thousand children dying everyday? How about those prayers ? How about the prayers right now…even as you type a reply, of a woman getting raped, a person getting murdered a child dying….Has God answered those prayers?

          If you have even the slightest bit of humility you would admit – indeed your God does not answer all prayers.

          By saying what you just said is an insult, actually its completely void of all compassion – to people who are in dire need right this very second, and nothing happens….

          what you are inciting is quite frankly inhumane, it is disgusting.

          • kendallpeak

            Actually, God answers those questions in the very first book of the OT. Your bitterness is apparent, also your desire for faith, since you cruise Catholic pages. I will pray for you..

          • tanyahe

            You lack any compassion, and you are clueless. Yes God has answered the prayers, but you are stuck on your tiny universe which sits within your own mind. Now that’s pathetic.

          • Everybody dies. You will die. Atheist superstates murdered tens of millions.

            • morgan

              why bring “murder” into this discussion. If that’s all you have, then we can also go back and look at 1500 years of terror unleashed by Christinsanity throughout Europe, North & South America and other countries. So stop with the childishness.

              • Because the atheist superstates practiced it on a scope and scale never before seen and because of their belief system not in spite of it.

            • Panikos

              Yes everybody dies. And it’s no concern of god’s if children die in agony. It’s not like it’s his job to care for them or anything and it’s unfair to expect him to be bothered one way or another.

              • Veritas

                Are you Bart Ehrman?
                Dinesh D’ Souza wiped him up in a debate when he whined like you do. Putting God to the test, eh, Panikos?
                You can’t count your blessings? Or, perhaps you’re too spoiled to realize just how blessed you are.
                The only way poverty and the human condition can be improved is by doing what Christ said to do. The Church has been providing relief, hospitals, etc., for a very long time.

                • Panikos

                  I don’t know who Bart Ehrman is. A youtube atheist I assume? I don’t need anyone to think for me because it’s not terribly difficult to do with practice.

                  I’m not putting your god to the test because you don’t have one. You need to find another.

                  While it’s not possible to prove that no god of any kind exists, it IS possible to show that a particular god doesn’t exist.

                  So if you told me that your god made the sun square I would look up and say “clearly the god who made the sun square doesn’t exist”.

                  Likewise I can say that the god Christians describe as all powerful and kind doesn’t exist or he would at least protect children and the weak from disasters that can’t be avoided. Such as earthquakes and diseases spread by god’s creations.

                  Free will doesn’t apply when things are beyond the control of the victim.

                  • Veritas

                    You didn’t read what I said.
                    Many think that the solution to the problems you mention can be controlled or mitigated by government or science. The science of government has improved, but that is not an endorsement of any particular form. Science has improved our ability to deal with natural disasters and health. These things are not enough. People will still die, some will starve or get sick or killed.
                    But, the root problem still remains in the heart of man. Only man has the ability to choose to help his neighbor when he or she is in need. Charity, education, health services have all emerged from the Church. Christ asked us to help our neighbors: to feed and clothe the poor and hungry, to provide shelter for the homeless and to educate children to follow charitably in love and service.
                    The Body of Christ is all of the faithful, regardless of denomination, who follow the command to love God, ourselves and our neighbors.
                    I just finished surfing the Internet and reading what many Catholic high schools are doing to form young people to be conscious of the command that Christ gave us.
                    You have a choice too. If you choose to do it outside of the Church, great. But do it. And don’t lobby (since you don’t pray) for the demise of our heritage and our faith.

              • tanyahe

                careful, because you are giving God some credit. That always is the beginning of a real adventure.

              • What have you done to change this

                • Panikos

                  Not being an all powerful god there is little I can do apart from giving to charities and petitioning politicians to help those in need. I have made an effort to combat the hold religion has on people which might one day help stop slaughter for religious reasons.

                  If only I did have such power I could fix many things without taking away free will, but that’s because ‘I’ care.

        • morgan

          Then your friend was probably not a Atheist but apparently was a lapsed believer. I tried prayer for 30 years and it never worked.
          I’ve been an Atheist for the last 35 years and everything works.

          • So then you’ll have no need of us, right?

      • SnowCherryBlossoms

        No such thing as hearing nothing, you’re hearing yourself which is probably why you say you are hearing nothing…so just be quiet then maybe you can hear God.

        • tanyahe

          good.

    • Matt McDowall

      Ruth, what you said is absolute incoherent nonsense. It is nice of you to speak of someone else and what they think, that is how arrogant you are.

      It’s like me saying “there is no way someone could possibly believe a man came from a piece of dirt”. If I said this I would be as arrogant as you are. Because people legitimately believe this, along with many other crazy things that even you reject.

      So spare us your wonderful insight into others thoughts, because obviously you have not a F%&$king idea.

      Also, staring into a rose and thinking its chance, well this shows your lack of education and understanding of evolution….I wonder if you have ever starred deeply into the eyes of a starving child, or one with bone cancer as their eyes, glaze over slowly and die…How beautiful is it not?

      time to grow up Ruth.

      • Ruth Rocker

        Thank you for your brilliant analysis. It’s always encouraging when someone has to stoop to profanity, even masked, to make a point.

        A starving child? No, I haven’t had that misfortune. I was, however, with my mother who died from pancreatic cancer (very fast and very painful) and my brother who died from kidney cancer. We are born, we flourish for a time and then we die. It’s the order of things and that doesn’t preclude or exclude the fact that God ordered the universe.

        I might ask if you have done any of the things you ask me.

      • People evidence their maturity when they express themselves without resorting to profanity, especially as an adjective and showing an interest in a wide array of topics, including some that touch on things outside their cult of evangelical nihilism.

    • calamond23

      “is evident to anyone with an open mind willing to merely look around and see the wonders that surround us”

      haha religionists are so sad and tragic

      • Religion is at its core, an assertion about the existence and a nature of a spuernatural deity that for which physical proof does not exist. Attheism is a religion, since there is no proof for its assertion of nullity.

        Some religionists are so sad and tragic, especially the the atheist cult. ou have it all man, a clergy (Dawkins, Hawking), sacred texts, the whole bit.

        • morgan

          Atheism is neither a religion nor a philosophy.
          When are supernaturalists going to make up their mind?

          • It’s a religion, no matter how you stammer. You BELIEVE there’s no deity but you can’t prove it.

            • Panikos

              I know there’s no evidence for the following things so I believe none of them.

              a) fairies made the world

              b) god made the world.

              c) chipmonks made the world.

              I don’t have faith that chipmonks didn’t make the world. I just think it’s silly to imagine they did without any reason at all to think so.

              • Veritas

                What made the world?

                • Panikos

                  There is evidence for where the world came from (the actual planet). If you mean more generally where did the universe come from then the honest and only answer I will give is that I don’t know.

                  No one knows for certain. However one group of people go around claiming they know that god did it and therefore “everyone must follow the rules that god told me to tell you about”.

                  • Veritas

                    That’s crap (not you). God did create the universe, but the Church was not established on quantum physics. It was established on the love of God, sending Himself in the form of the Second Person of the Trinity to die for us.
                    The rule that God and by extension, The Church, gives, is to worship Him, love and serve others, and to preach the Gospel to all the nations. The Church engaged in science, gave it a huge boost, and to my knowledge, still engages in the various scientific domains. It has to. It cannot simply rely on faith alone as it also relies on reason. Faith and Reason are very Catholic. “Credo ut Intelligam:” I BELIEVE so that I might UNDERSTAND. Which word is first here?
                    Are there concepts in mathematics that we accept as postulates and are they the building blocks upon which we build theorems? Are not “point, line, and plane” the undefined definitions to begin a course in Euclidean Geometry? Are you going to trash EG as now being outdated? If so, then throw it out. What would you have today if you could just throw it out?
                    Please, feel free to ravish my very parochial understanding of science and reason, take it apart. It won’t change a thing. In fact, I wish I were a scientist. I would use my love and knowledge of the natural world to glorify God.
                    Do you know of any scientists, of renown, who are believers?

              • So you do believe things

                • Panikos

                  No I don’t ‘believe’ anything. I have evidence for some things and those go into boxes marked ‘probably true’, ‘maybe true’ and so on.

                  I have never seen New York with my own eyes, but I class it as probably a real place since there is compelling evidence. I can’t be 100% sure though as it could be part of an elaborate deception. It would be such a huge and pointless deception that I am perhaps 98% sure it’s real, but nothing can ever be 100%.

                  Belief in a religious context means being sure that something is true when there is no reason to think that it is. Why would I do that?

              • tanyahe

                Truth is uncreated, but truth can be discovered. What is your standard of justice? do you think racial prejudice is wrong, mass killings, suppressing people from jobs they are qualified to do? Do you set up a standard knowing these things are wrong? If so, how do you come to that conclusion? Can the above examples be good and right if I think that they are good and right, or a law passes and says so? No they are wrong and no one can declare otherwise, whether the state or panikos or me. You cannot hold that position unless you believe in a higher truth or an objective truth. subjective truth is not the Truth. Do you consider your truth to be true. That would be pointing you and therefore would be subject to change along with your emotions and feeling and whatever else you have within you. Therefore if we conclude that anything goes then Hitler and Stalin were just being true to themselves and their truth is true. You don’t believe so that means it true, is that it?

                • Panikos

                  I see what you are struggling with there.

                  Since I don’t believe in god I see no absolute right and wrong. I know this sounds shocking, but bear with me.

                  Most humans are born with a leaning towards cooperation shaped by evolution. Without that we’d open our eyes in the morning and kill everyone we met. There’d be no tribes or societies. That also goes for the urge to protect children and such. If you didn’t love your kids they’d never get through those stroppy phases 🙂

                  So we do have a rough standard to start with.

                  Hold on though! I could choose to ignore it and go around killing, raping and stealing and some do.

                  This is where the intellectual part comes in. As a society we decided that we’d all be better off if we didn’t go around killing all the time. Not because it’s wrong, but because we’d never get anything done and we might be the next victim.

                  So we made laws and defined ‘good’ and ‘bad’.

                  We are entitled to define it for our society. It gets a bit tricky defining it for another country, but Hitler and Stalin lived in countries which had already agreed that certain things were bad. Also they were keen to impose their will on our countries which makes it our business.

                  Is there a right and wrong built into the universe like gravity? No there isn’t it. Does that mean we have to run around killing everyone? No of course not.

                  Btw if we really did get our morality from god’s example then child murder would be something you could do for fun so it’s not like religious people are offering a better way..

                  • tanyahe

                    shocking yes. and the fact that your intellect is “shaped “by some moral code of sorts, how does one get there? Since you cannot really answer that, I’ll stick with my belief in God who created heaven and earth. And the moral law which is written in our hearts by the Almighty. That makes the most sense to me. Killing kids is justified in our society anyway, 60 million of the children have been wiped out since 1973 that we know about, legally and up to any age to 9 months. So you see. I find that ghastly and evil, but in the eyes of the law it is justice. Atheism is not that intellectual as you may think, because you cannot find a reason for being and reason(moral law and natural law are given to every man to know and find the truth).

          • Veritas

            Atheism must be nothing. Please stop trying to sell us nothing.

    • Panikos

      How do you feel about the 1.6 billion Muslims who know that Allah is the only god or the 1 billion Hindus who know there are lots of gods of all shapes and sizes?

      Isn’t it evident to anyone with an open mind that Brahma made the world?

      • SnowCherryBlossoms

        They’re all wrong.

        • Panikos

          So you accept that someone could believe a god existed with all their heart and be completely wrong.

          • SnowCherryBlossoms

            Yes, and stop setting traps… For people who, through no fault of their own, do not know the true God and have never been taught, God judges their conscience- something all men have been given to determine good from evil, right from wrong. Faith comes through hearing.

            • Panikos

              If all people are born with the ability to tell right from wrong then what purpose does religion and faith serve? Surely the good ones will be judged as good anyway.

              On the other hand if being told about god and having faith does make a difference then those who never had the chance have been cheated.

              • SnowCherryBlossoms

                That’s why Jesus commanded the Good News be preached to the whole world. That’s why the Church is Universal…it is for all men.

          • Veritas

            No, Panikos. Read what the CCC says about those who through no fault of their own do not know of the Church. Read about baptism of desire. Read, study the faith as much as you study science. You are engaging in Sophistry, which makes it difficult to have a discussion. You have an insecurity that makes you feel the need to conquer rather than inquire. You might be fearful of what you find.

            • M. Solange O’Brien

              I’ve read the CCC; perhaps you haven’t? Of the seven billion or so folks on earth right now, five billion are going straight to the furnace.

              • Veritas

                Please cite. Are you saying Jesus never spoke of Hell? But, please cite anyway. I’m interested in your interpretation and where it says five billion. Baptism of desire. “….have not come to accept Christ through no fault of their own.”
                If you have read the CCC, have you first read it without prejudice?

                • M. Solange O’Brien

                  Of course I have – it would be stupid to read a religious text with prejudice. How could I learn anything that way?

                  And the number five billion is roughly the number of non-christians on the globe. I suppose I should have made it sux billions, since the other Christians are even more certainly damned.

                  I’ll get you the cites as soon as I can get back to my CCC.

              • tanyahe

                I have, and it doesn’t say that, but one person going into the pits of hell is one too many, don’t you think?

            • Panikos

              Not sure that was a response to what I was saying, but if you mean you’re one of those that believe people who don’t know about god get a free pass to heaven then the worst thing you can do is spread the gospel. If you burned all the bibles then everyone would be ok.

    • morgan

      “God exists as is evident to anyone with an open mind willing to merely look around and see the wonders that surround us. Beautiful skies full of clouds, or sunrises, or sunsets. Up north are the Aurora Borealis, truly spectacular to see”
      Volcanos, carbon monoxide traps, deadly bacteria, some skies are beautiful except those that harbor hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, every species on this planet trying to kill and eat the next species. Space is violent, turbulent and dangerous, and so is this planet.
      Beautiful plants that are poisonous when either touched or ingested.
      The Earth is diverse but not “wondrous.” It is Nature doing what Nature does.
      I do not see an “intelligence” behind the workings of the Universe.
      Nature is both beautiful and deadly.

  • LarryCicero

    ” Anyone with a hierarchy of values has placed something at its apex, and whatever that is is the god he serves.” Herbert Schlossberg- Idols for Destruction.
    My eleven year old walks home from school with his friend from down the street. His parents are apparently atheists. When my son asked him what they celebrate at Christmas, he said family and sharing. Since then his friend has stated that they don’t need to listen to some guy from 2000 years ago to tell them what to think. He has a value system, imparted to him by his parents, rejecting God and placing something else(whatever his parents believe) at the apex of his values hierarchy. I find it amusing that an eleven year can see how strange it is that his friend’s family put up a Christmas tree and exchange gifts and yet are atheists. Christmas in the 21st Century is for many just a pagan winter holiday, like Easter is to spring, July 4th is to Independence Day/summer, and Halloween is to fall. I hope my son has a chance to tell him about the Corpus Christi “parade” sometime. Is Card. Dolan leading that too?

  • Nick_Palmer3

    A very well reasoned, succinct piece, Joe. Thanks!

    Now, I’d like to see you tackle my favorite: “spiritual but not religious.”

    • “Now, I’d like to see you tackle my favorite: “spiritual but not religious.””
      Amen!!!!!

      • joebissonnette

        Thanks Nick and DE. Maybe “tackling” is exactly right. As the spiritual but not religious blithely floats along he is suddenly grounded by an aggressive counter-force – tackled – and must reconsider whether the vacuity of vaguely spiritual must be informed by the Creed, Code, Cult and Community of religion.

      • Michael.s

        Easy. My spirituality does not influence my behavior. It only makes me feel good about whatever I want to do ruthlessly regardless of who I destroy to get what I want…” The Power of Now”…..

  • SnowCherryBlossoms

    Atheists always get very angry with me when I say there is no such thing as an atheist because to claim to believe in nothing isn’t possible as there is no such thing as nothing. They argue on and on…so I ask them why they are always in Catholic blogs or religious blogs and to that I never get an answer. 🙂

    • Veritas

      Also, if they truly believe there is no God, why do they spend so much time and energy discussing or at least pondering God? Of course, they will answer, “to keep theism or religion completely out of the public square.” That became much more noticeable after 9/11. Could it also be that the fundamentalist brand of Christianity has also given traction for the “New Atheists?”

      I enjoyed reading this article.

      • SnowCherryBlossoms

        Yes! And after 9/11 so many people either ‘remembered’ God due to the trauma and pain it caused us as a Nation and made some bold moves to bring God back…while others went against God.. then sadly let everything go back to the way it was and now it’s worse than ever.
        New Atheists? Well being there is nothing new under the sun, they can change their tactics, attack modes and their clothing so to speak but new they are not. There are only two camps. God’s camp and those outside of it living like feral creatures.

        • Walter

          This sounds like the Muslims who divide the world into the “House of Islam” and the “House of War”.

          • SnowCherryBlossoms

            Well, I’ll give you that one..my comment wasn’t very good…couldn’t say what I was trying to say very well. I think I’ll just delete it because I don’t like it 🙂 cheer up Walter!

          • How so?

      • Walter

        Some like to debate.

        • Atilla The Possum

          Atheists wouldn’t know how to debate if you placed them in a dark room wearing boxing gloves…

          • They would tell you darkness doesn’t exist.

            • Panikos

              Well funnily enough… darkness is just the absence of light.

              • Have we found that rarest or rarities? An atheist with a sense of humor? Better close your eyes because I’m going to r hank God.

            • morgan

              If you think, DE-173, that you are presenting a ‘friendly face’ to your religion, then you have achieved the opposite.
              Your smugness is repugnant.

              • You came here uninvited with the intent of antagonism. You present a hostile dismissal and expect “friendly”? You aren’t looking for friendly, you are looking for surrender.

              • tanyahe

                so is intellectual pride.

          • Matt McDowall

            Depends how you wish to debate….if you want to bring evidence to the table, by all means…if you don’t want to (aka faith) well all bets are off….you can believe anything with faith…

            • Ok, bring your evidence that there is no God.

              • Panikos

                Bring your evidence that there is no heavenly Kangaroo who created the universe.

          • Pat Phillips

            Bill Nye vs. Ken Ham, perhaps?

            • Bill Nye is to science what soda is to nutrition.

          • Panikos

            And that’s your contribution to the debate is it? 🙂

        • Veritas

          How often do you ponder the subject of God? How much thought, reading, and studying do you invest in this “subject?”
          Please give an honest answer.

          • Matt McDowall

            Atheists are typically atheist because we know more about religion than you….you see, we want to answer the hard questions, and have good answers and rationale for our beliefs….

            All thinking men are atheists – Ernest Hemingway

            • ColdStanding

              I’m pretty sure he was an alcoholic and committed suicide by discharging his shot gun into his head. Very sad. Not at all a happy life.

              If that’s what you call thinking, then, no thanks.

              • morgan

                No one is perfect. A person can have personal issues, but still think and act intelligently.
                Many great thinkers, artists, and yes, even supernatural honchos, have had personal issues.

            • “Atheists are typically atheist because we know more about religion than you….”
              You must be a blast at work with such humility.
              Atheists are typically atheists because they know very little about logic, let alone religion. It is impossible to prove nullity, so to assert the absence of any deity takes a remarkable leap of faith.
              Perhaps that’s why atheists feel the need to troll and believe ferocity and repetition and use theists as a foil in their own internal struggle to suppress all doubt.

              • Panikos

                “Perhaps that’s why atheists feel the need to troll religious websites”

                You do know this is an article about atheists? You shouldn’t be surprised that we’d take an interest.

                Oh and I can’t speak for all atheists or all religious people, but in my own experience when I debate with Christians they tend not to have read their own bible. Instead relying typically on what they picked up from sermons or websites which list “things to say to atheists”..

                In my case it was reading the bible that made me an atheist.

                • tanyahe

                  “In my case it was reading the bible that made me an atheist.” Now that was a waste of your time. You are a poor soul.

                  • morgan

                    tanye, you are another of a myriad of reasons I became an Atheist.
                    Your hubris is immeasurable. and your use of “pity’ is nauseating.

                    • tanyahe

                      I am not the reason you became an atheist, that is absurd, you don’t even know me.

                  • Panikos

                    Can I assume that you had so much faith you didn’t need to read the actual words?

                    • tanyahe

                      You wouldn’t believe it if I told you, but then maybe you would. I had a long journey and the gift of faith was given to me as to anyone
                      who is sincere and looking for God. I read the bible a lot these days, but that wasn’t always the case. The words of the psalms and the gospels give me a great deal of comfort, especially in these days when the world seems to be flooded by a tidal wave of filth and hatred. I didn’t come to faith because my parents passed it on to me either. I had questions within, such as; what is my
                      purpose in this life? Why was I born? Where am I going? Those are some of the
                      things I pondered, and the answer came gradually and thankfully with gentleness
                      that my soul needed to be on the way. The world in enveloped in an evil fog
                      these days, the lying presidents and men and women in power with lots of
                      resources used solely for their own pleasure and vice. The hatred, jealousy, raging
                      anger, envy, murderous souls and greed proves that evil is rampant and very
                      much alive. Most of the evil is sitting in the hearts of men, which wrecks havoc on the society and cultures of this world. I Know that God is there, and that He is the sole answer to the evil which confronts us at every turn. “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you

                      are with me; your rod and your staff comfort me.”
                      God is Love and antidote to
                      the poison of the devil and evil in men’s hearts. I do hope you will find Him
                      one day and have peace.

                    • M. Solange O’Brien

                      And a Buddhist comes to an utterly different and irreconcilable conclusion. Why should I accept your claims over his?

                    • tanyahe

                      I’m not asking you to, but it my hope for you.

                    • M. Solange O’Brien

                      But again, why should I? What makes your case compelling enough that I should pay heed to it?

                    • tanyahe

                      you do the work, i’ll pray for you.

                    • tanyahe

                      Do you believe in heaven and hell? Do you think folks just dry up and go away when they die? Do you think it’s possible to find God if you really try? Do you think God is a figment of our imagination? Do you believe there is such a thing as faith? Do you think faith and reason are compatible? Tell me what you think and I’d be glad to start Catechism classes with you. My hope is that you can reconcile yourself to the one True Church and rest in the Lord. I may not have a compelling argument, but it’s not about me is it? You don’t want to know like a beggar wants a meal, that’s why you know little.

                    • tanyahe

                      I can’t do anything to have accept what I say, you are not looking for the truth, you are looking for an argument. The question is, what do you want to know? Then do your research and come to a conclusion.

                    • tanyahe

                      I’m not a relativist, so I can’t help you . I do not equate all religions to be true, but I do believe all religions have an element of truth, but there is only one true religion, the Holy Roman Catholic Church. It is each man’s duty to search for the truth. You can ask God for help in that department, which I don’t think you will because either you are a afraid, or you are lazy or you have another excuse… fill in the blank. But I wish you the best of luck on your personal journey,I hope you come to know the One Holy Triune God, Creator of all that visible and invisible. I hope you come to know that Christ Jesus died for you and me and the whole world, but that He is still rejected because of the hardness of men’s hearts. peace.

                • Veritas

                  Read articles about where the true faith is, the one Jesus established. It takes courage and some degree of humility to begin with the proposition that one cannot shop for a truth that is palatable, but to instead know and dwell in the Church as established by Christ.

                  • Panikos

                    But what happens if you get to heaven and it’s Brahma running things? You have no way to know which is true – if any.

                    • Veritas

                      Be serious. Don’t taunt.
                      What happens if He is the fountain of all Truth, goodness, and love?
                      Everything that you ever wanted to know will be answered then. But, then again, you might be on the other side of the chasm just watching. I hope not, Panikos.

                    • tanyahe

                      what if you end up in hell?

                    • Panikos

                      What does happen? Most Christians now tell me that Hell is just the state of not being with god.

                      I think it’s funny that they have rewritten it, but that’s what religious people do. That’s how come there are so many versions.

                    • tanyahe

                      Yes a state of not being with God, no love, loneliness, fear, hatred, fear and the empty, continual punishment,(depending or your predominate sins). it’s not really funny, no body could wish that on anyone, hence you have Christians who know and love God who wish the best for all men. I do hope you find Christ Jesus the Lord some how and someday, He is the answer to joy and peace.

                • You do know this is an article about atheists?

                  And? Does interest mean you are compelled to troll?
                  “but in my own experience when I debate with Christians they tend not to have read their own bible.”

                  I thought all we did was Bible thump according to some atheists.

              • morgan

                Actually it’s true DE-173. Just ask Pew Research.

                • You ask them. I don’t take anything on face value.

            • tanyahe

              Really?

            • Veritas

              Atheists make the claim that they, not the believers, are “free thinkers.” I don’t agree.

              The atheist seems locked into a world that is limited to that which can be observed. Science, important and useful, is still limiting. One cannot be considered a free thinker if one subscribes only to science and refuses to examine the possibility of the supernatural and an unseen reality that go beyond what man can observe and quantify.

              Believers must be the free thinkers because they explore that reality which cannot be seen. It takes much greater thinking power to accomplish what the Church Doctors have given us. To claim that theologians and people of faith are non-thinking is not true.

              • morgan

                Not really, we can use our imagination as well as anyone else.
                Your assumption of Atheists is clearly incorrect.
                I considered the possibility of the ‘supernatural’ and found it to be completely unfounded – and also that NO PERSON can ever claim to know all there is about Nature – to then determine that something MUST be of “supernatural’ origins. I find the argument sorely lacking.
                Why is that so hard for you to understand.

      • morgan

        Is there something inherently wrong in discussing concepts, even those you may not agree with.
        If you put “god” in the Pledge, then I have an issue.
        When you put ‘god” on our money, I have an issue.
        When you changed the US motto from “E Pluribus Unum” to “In god we rust.”
        I have an issue.
        If you don’t believe in Atheists, why do you talk about us all the time?

        • Veritas

          I believe atheists exist, they will talk, I will listen, but I will fight them. I will fight to keep God in the Pledge. Yes, I know you don’t want it there. I do. We have a problem. What I said originally was accurate: you discuss God exactly because you want to infringe on our rights. It’s all about what we both want and what we want for our future generations. I will say bluntly to you: I don’t share your religion and I will oppose you in the public square. This is why atheists talk about God. Your jihad is no different than the Muslims’. Your religion versus mine.
          Why are you having such a hard time grasping this?

          • M. Solange O’Brien

            This is clearly false: if you actually listened to atheists – something I see no evidence of – you would know that atheism is not a religion. And the secular nature of the Snerucan state is the best guarantor of your religious freedom.

            But you’re not discussing. You’re pontificating.

            • Veritas

              You don’t see the evidence because you think you are the all-seeing. I don’t need to answer that charge. By the way, I work with an atheist. Many of my colleagues find him a pontificating and arrogant bully. He is in fact, a contradiction in terms.
              Do atheists not pontificate?
              Do atheists make an unprejudiced effort to study Catholicism?
              The American state is the best guarantor of my religious freedom only if I fight to protect it. You know that it is under attack by the state.
              Are you discussing? I have discussed your thoughts above, and I respectfully disagree with you, M. Solange O’Brien.

    • Walter

      Maybe they were banned before they had a chance to answer.

      • Atilla The Possum

        LOL! That’s preposterous … and you know it!

      • SnowCherryBlossoms

        God bless you Walter! 🙂

    • Matt McDowall

      WE are in catholic blogs for entertainment purposes only…and hey devout religious people are pretty funny and entertaining!

      • Yet we don’t feel the need to troll and antagonize atheists or treat you as an object of derision, despite your great efforts to invite it.

      • SnowCherryBlossoms

        So are kind and decent atheists with a good sense of humor.

    • Pat Phillips

      Believe without evidence and believe with sufficient evidence are not the same. Maybe atheists get mad because they realize they’re arguing with a pigeon.

      • ColdStanding

        Ah, so that’s why those guys in the park feeding the pigeons are so touchy. Well, once they get recover from their hurt pride at having started and argument with a pigeon (smooth move Exlax!), maybe they will get around to believing in God.

      • Now what rational person would argue with a pigeon?

        • morgan

          Your ‘first woman’ argued with a snake, no?

          • Maybe she wasn’t rational.

      • SnowCherryBlossoms

        Pat, I’ve actually talked with many so-called atheists that had some class, maturity and decency. I had respect for them as decent human beings. You are not one of these men.

      • morgan

        Actually I have gotten further arguing with a pigeon that with a supernaturalist.

    • Panikos

      “to claim to believe in nothing isn’t possible as there is no such thing as nothing.”

      Your mistake there is a grammatical one.

      I don’t believe IN ‘nothing’. I simply do not decide if something is true on not on the basis of belief.

      Hope that helps.

    • morgan

      Atheists do not believe in “nothing.” That’s your purview.
      You believe in “nothing.”
      We believe in everything else.

      • SnowCherryBlossoms

        So you believe in everything God created- but not in the God who created it? LOL kind of like putting the cart before the horse so it goes nowhere… little bit short-sighted and silly don’t you think? You so-called atheists are rather dense.

    • Dan Rusak

      Religious people accuse atheists of being angry or militant because we refuse to show deference to their daft beliefs.

      We challenge their silliness with calm reason and evidence and they don’t like it so they throw their rattles out of the pram and get all passive aggressive on us

      • SnowCherryBlossoms

        Evidence? That God doesn’t exist?

        • Dan Rusak

          The burden of proof is on the person who makes the extraordinary claim. Saying “where is the evidence that god doesn’t exist” is like saying where is the evidence that unicorns don’t exist. You should be the one giving me evidence for god.

          • SnowCherryBlossoms

            I have no way to prove God exists for you. I have always known God exists, since I was a child and I have proof everyday but that’s for me, not something I can give to someone else. Do you even want to believe in God? If He were real would that matter to you?

            • Dan Rusak

              I would believe in God if I had really good evidence that proves his existence or at least some evidence of miracles or creation. If he was real I cannot really say if it would matter to me. I guess it all depends on which god it is.

              • SnowCherryBlossoms

                There is one thing you can do. Ask. Jesus said to ask and it will be given to you. He will answer if you are sincere- and that’s between you and Him. How He will answer you, I don’t know. He works differently with each person. The few people who have done this sincerely have been answered, others feel apprehensive and don’t ask. But it’s easy enough.

                • Dan Rusak

                  You don’t understand. I DID ask Jesus, in fact I used to be a Christian. I used to pray every day and go to church on Sundays. However the more I learned about The Bible and many other religions I started asking myself ‘What if I am worshiping the wrong god?” I found out that people of other religions claimed that they knew that their god or gods were the real ones and their religion is the correct one. The more I studied Geology and Biology I found out that many of the stories in the Bible and other holy books were inconsistent with reality and there was no evidence to back them up. One thing about religion that you should know is that it all depends on where you are born and when. If you were born in India you would probably be a Hindu. You would probably say something like “How can someone believe in only one god?’ If you were born in the Roman Empire or ancient Greece you would believe that Zeus, Apollo, Jupiter, Vulcan, and the rest of the gods were real. The point is that there are many religions claiming they are the right ones and that they know their god or gods are real, yet there is nothing that suggests they are.

                  • SnowCherryBlossoms

                    That’s why I said to ask. It’s not about all of those people or those times or those gods, it’s about you. You are here now. If you really study the other religions they are all vague, their gods aren’t personal they can’t have a friendship or relationship on a personal level with them. There gods didn’t suffer and die for them and raise themselves from the dead either.

                    • Dan Rusak

                      I see what you mean, but there have been many gods and prophets that are similar to the god of the Bible. Zoroastrianism, for example, is a religion very similar to Christianity. Then there are other mythological characters similar to Jesus such as Zoroaster, Buddha, Krishna, and Heracles and so on. Also you are incorrect when you say other gods aren’t personal. The gods of Hinduism are personal.Technically Jesus didn’t die, he rose again according to the Bible. Even if the god of the Bible sounds better than other gods that still wouldn’t make him real.

                    • SnowCherryBlossoms

                      Jesus, as a Man did die as dead as dead can be and for 3 days he lay in the tomb. He then rose from the dead of His own power as God.
                      Hindus in India, right now are converting to the Catholic faith in droves because they are tired of being terrified by their own angry ‘gods’. They want Christ because He is Mercy and Love. They do not have this with their own religion. You can search this online and read about it.

                    • Dan Rusak

                      “Terrified by their own angry gods” I don’t think you know much about Hinduism. Also I looked up what you said and I have no idea where you get your facts. It turns out Hinduism is in decline in India, though not by much. However Islam is the fastest growing religion in India not Christianity. The amount of Christians in India is 2% of India’s population. This number has been the SAME since 2001. According to recent statistics Hinduism is actually on the rise in the West while Christianity is in decline.

                    • SnowCherryBlossoms

                      If I can find the article, I’ll post it for you, it was very interesting!

  • Beircheart

    My experiences with atheists whom I’ve met is that they do not so much disbelieve in God but in the way God is presented, especially by strict creationists. We are seeing two sides of the same coin: refusing to acknowledge God because of seeming contradictions with science on one side and refusing to acknowledge science because of seeming contradictions with faith on the other. How alike we truly are!

  • Stephen Krogh

    I’m not sure the results of the studies presented here entails that we have some innate idea or imprint of God in our minds. I don’t say this terribly often, but in this case it seems OK, but it seems that Hume was right to suggest that there is something in human nature quite apart from rational evaluation that predisposes human beings towards theistic belief. Indeed, this seems to bear out in some of the findings of various evolutionary anthropologists, biologists, and psychologists, e.g., Scott Atran, Justin Barret, and Pascal Boyer. Atran and Boyer, as well as Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, and to some extent Stephen Gould, suggest that the various mechanisms motivating these predispositions are not truth-tracking, or at least not truth-tracking with regard to religious experience. Barret, incidentally, is a Christian, so he doesn’t endorse their views as such, but he takes a generally quietest approach regarding what the data suggest regarding the truth-aptitude of these mechanisms vis-a-vis religious experience.

    If Atran, Boyer, and so on, are right, then we could explain why even committed atheists would be uncomfortable in daring God to smite their parents. The discomfort wouldn’t be the result of the incongruence of their professed atheism with an innate idea or imprint of God, which would, presumably, be rationally discernible or at least a constituent of our rational equipment, but rather the result of an a-rational natural predisposition to intuit that there may well be a God. In other words, it isn’t that their discomfort is the result of somehow knowing deep inside, or at least intuiting, that God exists, something that would be a rational exercise, even if unconscious, but rather the result of various a-rational mechanisms in the brain over whose functioning they ultimately lack absolute control. The discomfort, in short, would be closer to the discomfort they would feel in placing their hands a bit too close to the fire; it wouldn’t be a matter of rational consideration, but rather a matter of the sorts of things we are in light of the evolutionary process, e.g., beings with flesh that can burn. Likewise, the discomfort these guys showcased could be explained as a result of saying or wishing something that the evolutionary process has disposed them to want to avoid saying or wishing.

    I’m not suggesting this is the correct way of interpreting the evidence that we are disposed towards religious belief, but just that such predisposition doesn’t of itself entail that we somehow know deep down that God exists.

    • joebissonnette

      OK, this is interesting and opens up some things worth exploring, but I think it needs more precise language to get anywhere. For example your last line finishes out “…such predisposition doesn’t of itself entail that we somehow know deep down that God exists.” Are you interchanging “know deep down” with faith or with reason? I wasn’t arguing that there is irrefutable proof that God exists, but rather that we innately believe that God exists.

      • Stephen Krogh

        Hi Joe,

        I’m sorry that I was imprecise. Clarity and concision seem to have an unhappy marriage in my mind! I can see why what I wrote entails, or at least implies, that I took your claim to regard innate *knowledge* regarding God’s existence. I did not mean to suggest that this was your claim.

        I meant to suggest that the interpretation of the evidence the data Atran, Boyer, et al., have collected offers an explanation for the phenomenon of the discomfort exhibited by the atheists in the studies you adduce that does not necessary entail nor imply that the predisposition for religious belief is truth-tracking, i.e., that the predisposition offers evidence for truth or rational justification of religious beliefs. In other words, I think they would agree with you that religious belief is “hardwired” within the human mind, but they would suggest that the disposition doesn’t concern belief that God exists as such, but rather belief in disembodied agency, causality, desire, power, and so on. Thus, the discomfited atheists’ worry isn’t the result of the content of a belief in God, but rather, as I suggest above, an a-rational predisposition to intuit, i.e., believe apart from any rational consideration and sourced in entirely a-rational foundations, that godish (I’m not sure how to say this without conveying the point that the content of belief in God and the predisposition towards particular intuitions) consequences might occur.

        I hope I conveying the point with some clarity. I’m sorry if I’m not!

        • joebissonnette

          Hi Stephen,
          Wouldn’t “belief in disembodied agency, causality, desire, power, and so on” qualify as belief in God, albeit not specifically theist?

          • Stephen Krogh

            Hi Joe,

            Hume thought so, or at least something along these lines. He suggests in his “Natural History of Religion” that belief in fairies and other sorts of spirits was essentially a form theism, just not a theism requiring the existence of God.

            I think my imprecision in language continues to obscure the point. I shouldn’t really have called the phenomenon in question here “belief,” though it may well be a belief forming mechanism, whereby beliefs might be motivated, but not from a truth-tracking source. For instance, Hume notes in NHR that humans also have a predisposition towards anthropomorphization, e.g., seeing faces in clouds (a title for one of Atran’s books), a face on the moon, and so on. I don’t think we would want to say that someone who sees a face in the clouds “believes” that there is a face in the clouds; indeed, even a moment’s sober reflection would disincline someone from assenting to the belief. Nonetheless, we’ve all experienced something like this.

            These guys claims that something like this happens regarding religion, albeit at a much stronger level (they actually speculate that this sort of anthropomorphization is just one of the many mechanisms working in tandem to predispose humans towards religious belief; others include the capacity to develop a theory of mind, i.e., impute something like the robust mental life someone experiences to other agents, detect agency, sometimes falsely or hyperactively, suppose causation, find purpose in events, and so on). The claim is that these mechanisms, each conferring evolutionary benefits, working in tandem predispose people or incline them towards religious intuition, not belief per se, i.e., not necessarily towards assenting to belief, but being inclined to do so. Thus, the inclination to form a belief about disembodied agency, causality, power, and the like, isn’t directed towards God as such, but is rather directed, according to them, at nothing, i.e., it is a false positive, the result of a manifold of mental mechanisms, some vestigial, that benefited individuals on the plains of Africa several hundred thousand years ago. The atheists sweating at the thought of daring God to smite their parents weren’t necessarily discomfited because they believed that God might take them up on the offer, but rather, again according to this particular interpretation of the science, because their minds have evolved to make one uncomfortable in making such claims, and this can be explained without recourse to innate ideas or belief.

            I take the thrust of this line of reasoning to be the following. Many people believe in God or gods, and seem to do so apart from rigorous investigation (though, obviously, their belief can be maintained, even strengthened, upon rigorous investigation). Likewise, as the studies you point out above show, even professed atheists seem to display physical and mental behavior suggesting that God or gods is somehow inextricable from the human psyche. The question, then, is what to make of the fact, how to explain it. One way, which you endorse above, and which has a long and proud history throughout intellectual history, is to suggest that there is an innate idea, imprint, or disposition, for religious belief given to us by the divine. Plato seems to have held something like this, certainly Cicero, Plotinus, and Calvin did. Hume, and many contemporary scientists, have offered, or have attempted to offer, an explanation that doesn’t require the existence of any supernatural agents at all. If they’re position is at all defensible (and I think it is), then they’ve done some work in neutering the inference such seeming universal inclination towards theism might entail for the truths of theism. To be clear, I don’t think these guys are right in their interpretations. Indeed, I think we can both accept their science, but deny their interpretations. I do, however, think that their position is cogent and worthy of consideration and study, which is why I thought to bring it up here. After all, iron sharpens iron, and truth cannot contradict truth!

      • Michael S.

        Is there ‘irrefutable proof” that the Holocaust was evil? After five thousand years of human history, literature, science and religion I am leaning toward the assertion because of the accumulation of evidence over the centuries that irrefutable proof and/or evidence is available for the existence of God and the absolute evil of the Holocaust. If there is no irrefutable proof that God exists then there can be no irrefutable proof that the Holocaust was absolutely evil.

  • Ron

    To conclude that there are no atheists because God is speaking all around us does not follow. It is like saying I am not deaf because everyone is speaking to me. Atheism is the intellectual denial of the existence of God, not the denial of the “feeling” of God. An atheist might be overcome by the beauty of creation, he might even say it is like he has a “sense” of God, but it is far from knowing He exists. The Scriptures readily acknowledge that atheists do in fact exist: “the fool has said in his heart, there is no God above.”

    • joebissonnette

      Hi Ron,
      The believer would say he believes in God, but whether he would say he “knows” God exists would depend on what counts as knowledge.
      I’m not sure you correctly read that scripture passage. Maybe it means to deny the existence of God is madness.

      • Ron

        Hi Joe,

        Since you cited St Thomas Aquinas via Fr Barron, I am taking him as a mutual authority. Knowledge is the result of reason, which is certain. Reasoning describes what happens in a syllogism. If we take as a premise “things exist” then we can logically deduce God’s existence. This is reason, not faith.

        Now, your argument seems very much like St Anselms erroneous claim that the existence of God is self evident. Thomas refuted this by utilizing the very passage you said I misinterpreted (ST 1.2.1). He used it to show it was in fact possible to think the proposition “God does not exist.”

        I agree with the point that evidence for God is everywhere and it takes great effort to deny it. It is absurd. But you run the risk of destroying any relevance for the philosophical proofs for God’s existence in relying solely on some innate “inkling” that God exists, which can be intellectually dismissed.

  • bassbait

    I’d like to point out that this article did nothing to demonstrate that atheists don’t exist.

    I can demonstrate that Christians don’t exist, watch – You’re afraid of dying, you flinch when someone tries to punch you in the face. If you’re a Christian then you’re going to heaven so you have nothing to fear by reaching an early end. But yet you do anyways, your instinct dictates a fear of death because you don’t actually know for sure whether or not there is an afterlife. Thus you’re an agnostic and by definition that also makes you an atheist. Christians aren’t real.

    • Atilla The Possum

      Christians are real. It’s you that isn’t for real…

      • Trenton

        Please stop being aggressive

    • joebissonnette

      “bassbait” – as in baiting Christians?
      You’ve got me pegged right, I don’t want a punch in the face and I would be afraid if suddenly death was imminent. But how does this disprove faith in God? From an ameba on up all living things seek to perpetuate their own existence. Why would we be any different? We have instincts like other animals, including the fear instinct. We are not pure spirits.
      BTW there’s a big difference between an agnostic and an atheist.

      • bassbait

        my name has nothing to do with “baiting” in that way, it has nothing to do with anything it’s just two random words that I put together.

        As for disproving faith, it doesn’t disprove that people have faith, it disproves that people naturally are inclined towards the understanding that God exists. If instinct is to prevent death, this goes against the assertion that heaven exists. So while you might consciously believe it does, you instinctively act as though it doesn’t.

        Your talk of all animals having instincts further demonstrates my point, you’re admitting that humans are animals and thus products of evolution. Unless you want to make the case that all animals also believe in God, which is impossible because animals lack belief at all by definition, then you’re making the case that humans are no exception, that the “faith” is only a thought and not an instinct, which destroys the assertions made in this article.

        Agnostic and atheist are different categories. Agnostic refers to knowledge and atheist refers to belief.

        A = “not”

        theist = “a person who makes the claim that a God exists”

        Atheist = “a person who does not make the claim that a God exists”

        the colloquial term “agnostic” to refer to people who “don’t know” is actually referring to atheists.

        Unless you say “I believe that a God exists”, you are an atheist by definition. “Agnostics” are people who say “I don’t know whether a God exists or not”. An agnostic theist is possible, someone who doesn’t claim to know that God exists, but believes anyways, but any self-identified “agnostic” is actually an atheist.

        My post was intentionally exaggerative because I’m not actually trying to prove that Christians don’t exist, I’m just using this article’s nonsense against it, by demonstrating that you can use similar ways of thinking to indicate the opposite of what they claim. Atheists do exist, if you disagree with this notion then you have to provide a whole lot more evidence than what this article says.

        • HigherCalling

          “The general notion that science establishes agnosticism is a sort of mystification produced by talking Latin and Greek instead of plain English. Science is the Latin for knowledge. Agnosticism is the Greek for ignorance. It is not self-evident that ignorance is the goal of knowledge. It is the ignorance and not the knowledge that produces the current notion that free thought weakens theism.”
          –Chesterton, The Thing

          • bassbait

            This quote is hilariously bad for refuting anything I’ve said so far.

            Science is the obtainment of knowledge. To produce scientific findings, you have to start off with a lack of knowledge (agnosticism) and then obtain the knowledge.

            Science is also the study of nature, of natural processes. God, by christian definitions, is supernatural, aka beyond nature, and thus science cannot study God. By that quote, you can then infer that God cannot be known, you cannot know that God exists because God cannot be scientifically verified by definition and God’s state as beyond the scope of science.

            The quote makes a better case for why you shouldn’t believe in God than it does for why agnostics are dumb (which is what it’s trying to say).

            The fact is, atheism is the null hypothesis. By claiming God exists, you have to first define what God is, then demonstrate why God COULD exist, and then demonstrate why he DOES exist. By not claiming that God exists, you don’t have to do anything.

        • Anthony Zarrella

          Your etymology is flawed. “Atheist” is not a compound of “not theist”.

          “A” = not, no

          “Theos” = God (or god)

          “ist” = a suffix meaning a believer in or adherent of

          “Atheist” = a believer in “atheos” or “lack of God”

          Agnostic, on the other hand, means someone who disclaims knowledge (or, in some philosophical contexts, one who disclaims the *possibility* of knowledge). So, an agnostic either says, “I have no grounds on which to know whether God exists” or “It is *impossible* to know for sure whether God exists.”

          And here’s my personal argument for why atheists don’t exist: every “atheist” either disbelieves out of anger with a posited God, or out of belief in Scientism (the notion that only that which can be scientifically proven is relevant knowledge), or out of a belief in humanism (that positing a God is unnecessary because humans are special enough on our own). The first are truly “misotheists” (i.e. they hate God – and you can’t truly hate something you don’t believe exists), the second make a God out of Science, and the third make a God out of Man. Even a solipsist simply makes a God out of Himself.

          • bassbait

            1.Atheist = “lack of god”. This means exactly what I said it means, if you don’t claim that a God exists, you have a lack of belief in God. Saying “I don’t know whether or not a God exists” makes you an atheist because you are not a theist, which is a believer in God. It’s that simple.
            2.I have no anger towards any God. Scientism isn’t a thing, but even if it was, that’s not my basis for lack of belief. And I didn’t become an atheist because of humanism.

            You have made a horrible mistake in your agument, you’ve switched terms. The definition of God, as you claim, is an all-powerful, all-knowing, personal, transcendent/supernatural being that created the universe and everything in it.

            You switched definitions to be whatever you want it to be. Science is the study of nature and natural processes. Science doesn’t create anything, science doesn’t do anything. We use science to create and learn about the world. It would be like saying the hammer IS the carpenter, when without the carpenter (humans), there is no work to be done (Science). Science is just a tool, not an all-knowing, all-powerful, transcendent being.

            Again, no humanist believes that the human species is an all-knowing, all-powerful, personal, transcendent/supernatural being.

            The idea with all 3 of those last concepts you mentioned (humanism, science, solipsism) is that these are the only things we can claim to KNOW. Knowledge is justified true belief. “Justified” means we can demonstrate it. A true solipsist is one who is willing to admit that the only thing they can demonstrate is that they exist. I’m not a solipsist so I’m not going to make their case for them. We can demonstrate that science is correct on thousands of things. Not everything, but that’s the beauty of science – it progresses. We find out that we were wrong and we get excited at discovering new possibilities and we improve until we’re RIGHT. We can KNOW things through science, we can only assert things through religion without any knowledge. The reason why atheists are atheists is mostly because theists cannot demonstrate the validity of any of their claims. Theists base it on faith, and atheists don’t accept faith as evidence or a worthy basis for anything. You are free to disagree and take things on faith but in a world where things can actually be demonstrated using logic, the illogical nature of religion is losing it’s place fast. God didn’t give you the computer you use now, science did. Remember that.

            • “Scientism isn’t a thing”

              1974 Nobel Laureate F.A. Hayek (and many others) beg to differ:

              http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/2549540?sid=21106032578573&uid=3739864&uid=4&uid=3739256&uid=70&uid=2&uid=2129

            • Anthony Zarrella

              1. That was my whole point – you’re breaking down the roots wrong. Atheism doesn’t mean “not-(God-ism)” it means “(not-God)-ism” – in other words, not “lack of belief in God” but “belief in lack of God” (and no, I don’t think it’s impossible to believe in a lack of something – I believe in a lack of unicorns).

              2. I admit I was guilty of being more rhetorical than precise. When I said that “X group ‘makes a God out of’ Y” I didn’t mean that they ascribe to Y the characteristics of being all-powerful, etc. I meant that they put Y in the place of ultimate importance and ultimate meaning that God occupies in theistic thought. In other words, when I say that everyone has an innate yearning for God, I don’t mean that everyone has a fully-conceptualized belief in an all-powerful being – I mean that everyone has an instinctual need to find something that is all-important and holds all of life’s answers. The “all-powerful, etc.” attributes of God are (in a non-theological context) probably His *least* important attributes, compared to His status as the “be-all and end-all” of existence and meaning.

              You are right, however – I should be more precise in my arguments to avoid the appearance of equivocation.

              3. The distinction between “knowledge” in a secularist sense and “knowledge” in a theistic sense is one that is pretty much impossible to maintain (without becoming a solipsist/Cartesian skeptic). Either “knowledge” can only be “justified” if it can be demonstrated to be true beyond any possible doubt (that is, demonstrated deductively from a priori principles), or else inductive and testimonial evidence must be conceded to be sufficient for knowledge.

              In the first case, Descartes would caution you that it is impossible to know for certain if your senses are being deceived (i.e. are you *really* seeing the experiment that you think you’re performing, or are you hooked into the Matrix and being made to *perceive* the experiment and the results?). Hume would also note that there is no real reason that we are justified in assuming that something that happens ten times out of ten will happen again the eleventh time. We *do* make that assumption all the time, and it is the foundation of science (and, honestly, I’m not personally inclined to doubt it), but we don’t really have any justification for it. (Pointing out that inductive reasoning has generally turned out to be reliable in the past is just another instance of inductive reasoning… it’s an infinite regression.)

              In the second case, there is no reason that scientific knowledge fits the criteria any better than religious knowledge. Does a scientific researcher personally recreate every experiment on which he relies? Of course not. He assumes that if a given principle has been claimed to be validated by a sufficient number of people whom he views as authorities on the subject, then he is justified in simply applying that principle to his own experiment without having to re-derive it. In other words, he relies on received testimonial evidence, and considers it a sufficient basis for knowledge.

              Why is that OK for science but not for religion? Why is it OK for a biologist to rely on the articles published and vetted by prior biologists, but it isn’t OK for a Christian to rely on testimony of a miracle that was reported and verified by prior Christians?

              And, again, I ask, what is the scientist’s answer to historical knowledge? Why can we “know” (in the sense that you define) that Caesar ruled Rome (because we have contemporary and later accounts of his rule), but we can’t “know” that Jesus rose from the dead, despite having *at least* four primary sources and many more secondary sources that attest to His resurrection?

              Finally, yes, science gave me the computer, but God gave science the laws of electricity. Even someone like Dawkins would have to admit that science merely *discovers* physical laws that already exist – it doesn’t create them. So, who or what does? Why should there be something instead of nothing? Why should there be an ordered universe with predictable laws rather than a chaotic one in which any sequence of events is possible, without cause or effect? Why is the universe “finely-tuned” for life?

              • bassbait

                1.I believe that you should let atheists define the term themselves, and most atheists that I see define atheism as “lack of belief in a god or gods”. Richard Dawkins for example, who christians like to bash as the go-to atheist, goes by this definition of atheism.

                2.I actually do not have an instinctual need for something all-important. I place a high importance on friendship and kindness, but not “all-importance”. I don’t hold science to be all important. Science isn’t really a thing, it’s a field of study that people use to bring about results. Science can be used to justify horrible deeds, and it can be used for greatness too, and to hold “science” as all important would be to accept the horribleness of something like the atom bomb as a good thing, which I refuse to do. I hold maximizing the well-being of all life on earth much higher than I hold science, but science is the necessary tool to do so.

                3.About the senses being deceived thing. I don’t personally subscribe to the “we are in the matrix” or “we could be in the matrix” viewpoint. I’m not a solipsist, and if I were to argue in favor of that case then I would be arguing for something I don’t believe in. However, there are two atheistic arguments that must be taken into account here –

                A.If we are in the matrix, so what? Existence is still real, and our understanding of the nature of existence is all that changes. It does nothing to demonstrate that we actually ARE in a Matrix to say that we COULD be in one, so until we have it demonstrated that we are living in a matrix, we have no reason to believe it and will go with the null hypothesis that we do NOT live in the matrix. If we are in the matrix, the rules of life do not change, just the nature of life, and so we still must follow the rules of life (like, for example, don’t die). We’re still “programmed” to follow these rules if we are in the matrix, but since we can’t demonstrate that we are it’s a pointless argument.

                B.This next one is a real blow to christians arguing against atheists – christians actually DO believe that we live in the matrix. Replace “outside world” with “spirit world” and replace “matrix” with “material world” and Christians believe the exact same thing – that we exist in a realm outside of this matrix simulation, but we are plugged into it and have no proof to demonstrate that the outside world (supernatural, immaterial spirit realm) exists. You choose to assume we live in a Matrix and when we die we get unplugged and wake up. I don’t. So the problem with the matrix argument is that it backfires and reveals the absurdity of religious claims. The null hypothesis is atheism, and “amatrixism” which of course is a word I’m making up.

                4.Scientists run thousands of tests. It’s not like “hey I think I saw a monkey turn into a person so you should believe me when I say evolution is real”. Thanks to the accuracy of paleontology, archaeology, biology, etc, we were able to predict exactly where on the planet and how deep in the planet the first creatures to walk on land were, and then we found it, the tiktaalik. It’s a huge web of information that can be verified, falsified, tested, repeated, etc. An easy science experiment that anyone can do is a coin flip. We can assume that every coin flip will land in heads and tails. We can assume an approximately 50% heads and tails result split. We have all of the information we need to assume this, and once we do the test, we’ll get just about the same results. So you do 10 or 20 coin flips and it rounds out to approximately 50% heads, 50% tails. That’s how science works. However, religion assumes that, instead of 50% heads, 50% tails, it’s entirely possible and in fact plausible that the coin will just stop in mid air and float, and then fly away off into the sky. This is a “supernatural” event because the laws of gravity and physics are being broken. You can try to demonstrate that this has happened but you have no equal plausibility power than the scientific claims. The coin is gone, you’re the only one who “saw” it happen, it breaks all manner of unchangeable natural laws, so if anyone heard you claim it, they’d just think you’re crazy. Religion is the same thing – explanations that we don’t have for events that we don’t even know happened. If I ask “where did your coin go”, and you said “it floated away into the sky when I was trying to flip it”, that’s an explanation for how it’s not in your possession but it doesn’t explain how that is possible or how it happened, the mechanics behind it. Your “testimonial evidence” is meaningless when all information that we’ve acquired over thousands of years says that these things just don’t happen. Aka religion’s failure in a nutshell. (see: Noah’s Ark)

                5.Caesar ruling Rome is not a supernatural claim, it is not something that requires nearly as much evidence to support as Jesus rising from the dead. Since Caesar is a ruler, there are many, many more accounts of his having existed. Jesus on the other hand, the only accounts are the bible (an untrustworthy source since it makes many impossible and contradictory claims in the first place) and then people who weren’t even alive when Jesus was alive. I don’t remember because I haven’t looked this up since I was a christian but I could swear the first accounts of his existence were over 100 years after his death. So the secondary accounts only speak of him as if he existed and make no account of his resurrection. Not to mention magic tricks are very easy to pull off and Jesus could have easily tricked people and the word spread and got lost in the rumor. Thousands of years of time since Jesus’s era and it’s easy to see how the information can get lost in the mix. Even if people had account of his resurrection it does nothing to prove that it actually happened. We have accounts of Zeus but that doesn’t prove Zeus actually exists or existed.

                6.You’re making the false assumption that a creator is necessary. But then you also make a case of special pleading by implication – who created God? Does God not need a creator? And why not? God is a meaningless term to add onto the fact of existence. By claiming that the universe needs a creator, you haven’t demonstrated that the universe actually DOES need one, nor have you demonstrated that it HAS one, and you especially haven’t established that that deity is Yahweh. Carl Sagan’s response to this argument is “if God doesn’t need a creator, and just always was, why can’t we just say that the universe doesn’t need a creator, and that the universe always was”. The problem is that when you make the claim that God is necessary for existence to be created, that implies that God exists outside of existence, and that by definition he does not exist. Unless you want to make the claim that he’s an interdimensional being who created our dimension in which case you’re getting into some weird sci-fi shit. But the “who created God” thing creates a problem – either you have to reduce the God concept to absurdity by an infinite regression of Gods creating Gods (Mormons actually believe this or at least some do I guess) or you have to accept that God doesn’t exist, or you have to appeal to special pleading saying that God somehow just always existed without any explanation, but that the universe NEEDS a cause when God doesn’t. Again, I refer you to Carl Sagan’s point – there is no reason we can’t say the same for the universe that you say for God.

                7.The laws of logic transcend everything. It even transcends God. God has to function on the laws of logic in order to exist. Something that is a logical contradiction, by definition, cannot exist. The reason why there should be an ordered universe and not a chaotic one is because the universe functions on the laws of logic by the impossibility of the contrary. Certain things just literally cannot happen. In the case of a true dichotomy, for example “God does exist” and “God does not exist”, the law of non-contradiction says that these things can NOT be true simultaneously. God either exists or God does not exist. A rock is a rock, and it cannot be a not-rock. These basic laws of logic transcend everything and are self-attesting by their nature, so the chaos of the universe that we already see (black holes, supernovas, formation and destruction of planets, galaxies colliding into each other) still functions on these laws of logic. Cause and effect is definitely important but we can’t make sense of cause and effect before the big bang. Supplying a meaningless answer like “god did it” gets us nowhere because it just adds more nonsense to the question – who created God? Why does God get to exist on his own? You supply a nonsense answer whereas atheists are just content to say “we don’t know”. We may know some day but why bother claiming to know? Religion is just a made up answer for something that we don’t understand. It’s the argument from ignorance – I don’t know why things are the way they are, therefore God did it. It just leaves us with the fact that you still need to explain every aspect of God and then demonstrate that he did it for that claim to mean anything.

                8.The universe is extremely hostile to life. Are you aware that if you float out into space without a space suit, you will die? Are you aware that MOST of the universe is space? Are you aware that we have not found life on any other planets yet? Why is the earth the only planet with life if the universe was “finely-tuned” for life? Why could an asteroid impact the earth and kill off almost all species on earth? Why can the sun explode? Why do black holes exist? The fine-tuning argument is non-sense. The universe wants us dead, it’s amazing that we’ve even managed to exist in a universe that wants to kill us in trillions of different ways. I’m waiting for you to make the claim that evolution is wrong too… sorry but the universe is not “finely-tuned” for life.

                • Anthony Zarrella

                  1. “Atheism” is not a term created by atheists to describe themselves – it is a word with a long history and its own objective meaning. So, people can say whether or not the term properly applies to them (i.e. whether they really *are* atheists), but they can’t define the term whatever way they want. Also, a few scattered comments to the contrary notwithstanding, Dawkins is a prime example of a “believer in a lack of God” – he’s practically a *Crusader* for “lack of God” – he definitely is *not* simply claiming “I don’t have any belief one way or the other,” or “I have insufficient data to form an opinion.”

                  2. OK, so utility (in the philosophical sense) is your “God” (in the sense we’re discussing). The maximization of well-being is the thing that you ascribe ultimate meaning and importance to. Or maybe not – I’m not in your head. But, if you really do ascribe ultimate importance to *no* external thing or principle, then by default, you’re saying that *your own valuation of principles* is the ultimate yardstick. To be honest, though, I find the rest of what we’re discussing far more interesting than the original “there are no atheists” premise, so I’m willing to agree to disagree on that point.

                  3. I’m not a solipsist either, but the “we *could* be in the Matrix” view is one that you can’t really discount using empirical data alone.
                  3-A. The point is not that if we are in the Matrix, then our in-Matrix life is not relevant. The point is that if we are in the Matrix, then we have no grounds to believe that any observations we make are relevant. Perhaps I am running an experiment, and I use a litmus strip (I know, not really high science, but it’s a simple example), and it turns blue. If I’m in the real world, that means (assuming the inductive reasoning of science can be relied upon) that the substance is alkaline. If I’m in the Matrix, then it tells me *nothing* about whether the substance is (or is programmed to behave as) alkaline – it only tells me that whoever is running the Matrix wanted the strip to turn blue. The point is that Cartesian skepticism (and Humean acausality) means that empirical data *alone* is insufficient to give us confidence in *any* knowledge.

                  3-B. You’re not arguing against Christians, you’re arguing against Gnostics. Christians don’t believe that this world is in any way unreal (or that it is solely material and in some way opposed to the spiritual), or that we exist outside the world in some way. We simply believe that this world is not our final destination. It’s not like the Matrix at all – everything that happens to me during life really happens and really matters. It’s more like the distinction between a baby in the womb, and a baby after birth (let’s just *assume* for the sake of argument that the pro-life view is correct – just for the sake of the analogy, OK?) – the baby exists, for real, and the womb is the only world it can possibly perceive or know, but leaving the womb is not the end, it is only the beginning of a much richer and much longer life (look up “Dialogue of two twins in the womb” for a more detailed analogy).

                  *Gnostics* are the ones who believe in a hard and fast distinction between this material realm and a “truer” spiritual realm – and Gnosticism is a condemned heresy to Christians.

                  4. First of all, it’s not only theists who say that there is a non-zero chance that a coin will do something bizarre rather than land on heads or tails – quantum physics predicts the same possibility (and both religion and quantum physics say that the chances of it happening are incredibly, incredibly low). Second, one of the *criteria* that the Vatican applies when testing to see if a miracle really has occurred is that they *require* that all scientific explanations be ruled out. So, when someone says they saw a statue of Mary weeping blood, the *first* thing the Vatican investigators will do is examine the statue to see if it has (for example) a reservoir inside it, and test the fluid to see if it’s blood, and check to make sure that any other way you could think of to fake it is *not* happening. As Sherlock Holmes famously said (and I’m paraphrasing because I haven’t memorized it), “When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however implausible, must be the truth.” And a direct contradiction (“The fluid came from a tank inside the statue even though there is no tank”) is a lot more impossible than a mere violation of known rules (“The statue wept blood even though science says that can’t happen”).

                  I know all about how scientific verification works – and believe it or not, I’m a big fan of science. I think science is the equivalent of studying an author’s writings to learn about the author – science is a good and holy discipline that reveals pieces of the mind of God. I am *not* an anti-intellectual, anti-science caricature of a Christian – I believe in evolution (at least microevolution – the jury is out on macroevolution, but I am open to data as it comes in), I believe the universe is extremely old (and I leave it to astrophysicists to tell me how old), I believe there was life on earth before humanity (and not just a few days before).

                  I just also believe that the exception proves the rule – and I know my Latin, so I know that exceptio probat lex doesn’t mean what people usually assume (that the existence of an exception proves that the rule is true), but rather that when you make a rule (like a scientific law), and then you find an exception, it “probat” – “tests” – the rule, and shows you where its boundaries are. A good scientist *knows* that there is no such thing as an “unchangeable scientific law” because any scientific law is really just a summary of the data gathered up to that point. Newton’s Laws were “unchangeable” until Einstein came along and “probavit” those laws, forcing them to change to “except for really big or really fast things,” and then quantum theory changed them to say, “oh, and really tiny things aren’t covered either.” So, a miracle doesn’t *break* a law of physics, it just shows that there’s another important exception, “except when God decides to get directly involved.”

                  Now, I’ll freely admit that *one person* claiming to have witnessed something that would (if true) be an exception to the laws of physics is very weak evidence (it’s not technically *no* evidence, but it’s insufficient to even slightly counterbalance the weight of contrary evidence). But that doesn’t mean that if *many* people all say they witnessed the same seemingly-impossible thing that there isn’t some point at which we have to give their testimony some weight.

                  For a very long time, people thought the coelacanth was extinct, and anyone who claimed to have seen one would have been told that their testimony was non-credible… except it just so happens that there *are* still living coelacanths. No amount or duration of *lack* of evidence can conclusively prove that there is nothing to find evidence of (plus, it’s not like there has been *no* evidence for God or miracles – you can choose to discount it, but in *every* generation, there are hundreds or thousands of people who claim to have witnessed a miracle or other conclusive evidence of God).

                  5. The first written accounts of Jesus’s life were about 20 years after His death (and given how knowledge was transmitted in that part of the world back then, that means it was a recording of an oral history that had already been around for a while). As to the unreliability of the Bible, you can’t say it’s unreliable because it makes impossible claims (because that’s circular – it can’t stand as evidence of something you think is impossible because it claims things you think are impossible), and set aside the contradiction part, because I’m not citing the Bible as a whole canon as my evidence – I’m talking about the Gospels and Epistles as books in their own right. Who cares (from a historical evidence perspective) if they’re lumped into the same collection as old Hebrew writings that you think contradict them? Think of each Gospel as a book, by an author. The Bible as a single book wasn’t compiled until later anyway.

                  And we don’t have accounts of Zeus – not accounts from people who claim to have spoken to him face-to-face or know someone (at only one degree of separation) who spoke to him face-to-face. We have myths of Zeus – stories whose authors are relating stories that were told to them by people relating stories about characters no one can claim to have met or spoken to. By contrast, we have two Gospels that are first-hand accounts of Jesus’s life (including seeing Him after the Resurrection), and two whose authors heard it at one degree of separation from someone who was there. We also have two letters from Peter and three from John (first-hand witnesses), *many* from Paul (a first-hand witness of his own vision, but also a second-hand relator of the stories of the Apostles), letters from James and Jude (first-hand), the Didache (a second-hand recounting of what the Apostles (first-hand) taught about Jesus), and the writings of the Church Fathers (second- or third-hand, depending on the author).

                  Care to give a parallel list of sources for what we know about Caesar? I mean specific details of his life, not just a reference to him by name with no detail at all. I imagine it’s not much better, if not possibly weaker.

                  6. The refutation of Sagan’s point is a variation on Occam’s Razor. If we assume that the universe just always existed, with no cause or reason, then the number of “brute facts” (facts that cannot be explained by reference to other facts) numbers in the thousands, if not the millions. To give a *very* small sample – why is the charge of the electron precisely what it is? Why is the force of gravity precisely what it is? Why is the mass of a proton precisely what it is? Why are there exactly six types of quarks, and why are they what they are and not something else?

                  By contrast, if there *is* a God, then the number of “brute facts” dwindles to one: “Why does God exist?” (or maybe a handful, if you consider each attribute of God to be a single fact – but really, God can be described in a pretty small number of attributes).

                  Given that any good explanation should have as few brute facts as possible, the theist hypothesis is better than the “uncaused universe” hypothesis, other things being equal. (NOTE: I said “other things being equal” – this is only intended to be a refutation of Sagan’s “uncaused God is just as bad” argument, not a full and independent argument for the existence of God.)

                  7. I fully agree – logic trumps all. That is why the old “Can God make a rock too heavy for Him to lift?” thing is a pointless babble of nonsense. However, what you’re arguing here isn’t logic (I don’t mean that in the insulting sense that you’re being *illogical* – just that the claims you’re making in point 7 are not *mandated* by logic).

                  A rock is a rock, and cannot *at the same time* not be a rock. That doesn’t mean it can’t cease to be a rock in the *next* instant, and suddenly (for no reason at all) be a fish, or a miniature sun, or a cookie. *That* is what I mean by “Why is the universe ordered instead of chaotic?” I mean “Why is the universe such that science *works* and we can count on a rock still being a rock unless acted upon, and we can count on the laws of gravity staying the same from minute to minute, etc.?”

                  That result – the law-bound nature of the universe – is *not* compelled by logic, and is a mystery if there is no God.

                  8. That’s not what I meant by “finely tuned for life.” Look up the “fine-tuning argument”. What I meant was that there are over thirty *independent* cosmic variables, *each* of which has to be “set” within a very narrow range of values in order for life as we know it to have even a chance of existing. Each of them *is* within that range, but the probability of each of them winding up within that range by random chance is… well, astronomical is far too *small* a word. Suffice it to say that it is almost infinitely unlikely.

                  If a result occurs in *any other area* of science, which is virtually impossible as a result of random chance, but quite explicable as the result of intelligent intervention, the natural hypothesis would be, “It wasn’t random – some outside intelligence caused it.” Why is that *not* the reasonable hypothesis here?

                  • bassbait

                    So I’d love to talk more and I do have points against most of what you’re saying, but while trying to respond I ended up being unable to do so because health issues have made me too light-headed and dizzy to be able to read a whole lot, and exerting mental energy actually makes me feel like I’m going to pass out. I know what the problem is and it’s a huge combination of bad things but I’m not really healthy enough to do this right now, sorry.

                    • Anthony Zarrella

                      No worries! Thanks for the conversation, and I hope you feel better soon! (And don’t worry, I won’t take this as a concession 😉 )

                  • goodold_lucifer

                    “… it’s not only theists who say that there is a non-zero chance that a coin will do something bizarre rather than land on heads or tails – quantum physics predicts the same possibility …”

                    This is an example of physicists being as silly as theists. In fact, there is zero chance that a coin will somehow miraculously fail to act like a coin. Things are what they are — and neither God, Random Chance, nor Quantum Indeterminism can alter the nature of reality.

                    • Anthony Zarrella

                      OK… You said you’re an Objectivist. I don’t know enough about Objectivism to know what it is that you ground your certainty in, if not science and not faith.

                      How do you know what “act like a coin” even means, unless either by some sort of faith-based belief in Platonic “coin-ness” or by empirical evidence based on some variant of the scientific method?

                      If the latter, then how do you reply to Hume’s objection that seeing a coin act a certain way 100 times means only that it acted that way 100 times, not that it is certain to do so on the 101st?

                      In other words, what *justifies* your certainty that you *know* “how a coin behaves” and that it can only ever behave that way, and no other? What makes that source of justification more reliable than the empirically-verified, peer-reviewed research of physicists? (And yes, I know it must sound weird for me to be defending science here – but like I’ve always maintained, I’m a Catholic, not a Jack-Chick-style Protestant: I *do* believe in science, and I believe it is no enemy of faith)

                    • goodold_lucifer

                      some sort of faith-based belief in Platonic “coin-ness” …. reply to Hume’s objection …

                      Both Plato and Hume were wrong, and my reply to them would be based on Aristotle and the law of identity/causality. Both Plato and Hume close their eyes to reality, trying to postulate a fantasy world where things are not what they are.

                    • Anthony Zarrella

                      So then, you *do* reject even the possibility of meaningfully reasoning about a counterfactual?

                    • goodold_lucifer

                      Not at all. You do, of course, need to remember that the counterfactual IS counterfactual. Once you start thinking the supernatural actually is factual, your reasoning loses meaningful touch with reality.

                    • Anthony Zarrella

                      As I asked before, where do you get your certainty that things cannot be other than they are? You assert the “law of identity and causality,” but those are both “laws” that we only infer *from* our observations of reality – in other words, it’s circular: “Things cannot be other than they are, or happen for no reason, because the laws of identity and causality forbid it, and I know they’re true because things *don’t* happen for no reason or change into something else without cause.”

                      Of course, what I might call the “weak form” of the law of identity is certainly a basic logical truth. X is always identical to itself. But that doesn’t mean X is always identical to X’ (read: “X-prime”), where X is “a thing right now” and X’ is “that thing 20 minutes from now.” A simple example is a burning match – it is identical to itself, but it is clearly not identical to the ashes that it will be if it is allowed to fully combust.

                    • goodold_lucifer

                      Okay.

                      The “weak form” is enough for purposes of this discussion (though I don’t think “axiomatic” means that same thing a “circular”).

                    • Anthony Zarrella

                      “Axiomatic” doesn’t mean the same thing as “circular.” Axiomatic means you *admit* that the principle has no justification beyond what is evident in itself. Circular is when you pretend that it does, but really, you’re just stating the principle over again in a roundabout way, not actually providing argument for it.

                      And I don’t know that the weak form *is* enough for the purposes of this discussion. It doesn’t get you your conclusion that it is impossible for a rock to cease being a rock at some point in the future without cause.

                    • goodold_lucifer

                      Since things cannot act in contradiction to their nature, their identity, there is not a problem.

                    • Anthony Zarrella

                      But how do you determine their nature except by what they do?

                      If a caterpillar becomes a pupa (and eventually a butterfly), you don’t conclude that it has acted contrary to its nature – you conclude that changing into something new is part of its nature. So, if a rock becomes a leaf, how can you say, with certainty, that the potential to become a leaf is not inherent in all rocks (and just unrealized in the vast majority of them)?

                      Please note that (ironically enough), I’m playing Devil’s Advocate here. I don’t actually think such things can happen, but *I* think it’s because there is a God who causes the universe to act in comprehensible ways and patterns. What gives *you* the certainty that “rock metamorphosis” is actually impossible, rather than just incredibly rare and therefore not-yet-observed?

                  • goodold_lucifer

                    “It wasn’t random – some outside intelligence caused it.” Why is that *not* the reasonable hypothesis here?

                    Life could not have an “intelligent cause” because intelligence is a function of life. Life came first, then intelligence. Not vice-versa.

                    It is a false alternative to claim that since life could not be a random occurrence (and it isn’t), the only alternative is supernatural intervention (which isn’t possible). Life is 100% natural — and there is no alternative to nature.

                    • Anthony Zarrella

                      “Life could not have an “intelligent cause” because intelligence is a function of life. Life came first, then intelligence. Not vice-versa.”

                      See one of my earlier replies today for my answer to this (i.e. conflation of life with biological life). The same applies to the conflation of intelligence with human (or animal) intelligence.

                      “It is a false alternative to claim that since life could not be a random occurrence (and it isn’t), the only alternative is supernatural intervention (which isn’t possible). Life is 100% natural — and there is no alternative to nature.”

                      Again, what *is* the middle ground, then? What caused life to develop if not random chance and not external intelligence and will?

                    • goodold_lucifer

                      What caused life to develop …?

                      Nobody knows the details of that process, but it is 100% certain that the cause was something real. Otherwise, nothing would have happened. The cause could not have been supernatural (i.e., not of this world) or self-contradictory (i.e., consciousness before life).

                    • Anthony Zarrella

                      You seem to be verging closer and closer to a dogmatic insistence on naturalism.

                      “The cause must have been natural because everything has a natural cause” is a meaningless tautology, not an argument. And yes, of course the cause was *real* – but it’s only your axiom, not an accepted premise, that nature and natural things are the only real things.

                    • goodold_lucifer

                      You seem to be verging closer and closer to a dogmatic insistence on naturalism.

                      There is nothing dogmatic about it. If your goal is knowledge about the world we live in, the reality of it, then naturalism is the only logical game in town. In practical terms, there’s no alternative to nature.

                      If you like to work with counterfactuals, then the supernatural can be included. But you still can’t run your computer on supernatural electricity.

                    • Anthony Zarrella

                      OK, now you’re equivocating. Saying, “Naturalism is the only way to gain practical, technical knowledge about the world we live in” is very different from “Naturalism is the only truth of the world.”

                      The former is a statement about pragmatism – what is the best way to accomplish this particular goal (gaining practical knowledge about the physical world). The latter is a statement about reality – what does or does not actually exist.

                      I fully agree that I’m not going to try to power my car with prayer, or expect manna from Heaven when I could instead learn to use a microwave. But that doesn’t mean that God or the soul don’t exist (or can’t be evidenced by observable facts), just because I can’t use them to turn on a light bulb. Saying that I can’t learn to harness the power of miracles to do useful things in a repeatable way is not the same as saying there can be no miracles.

                      If you are convinced that there is no *utility* in talking about or believing in supernatural things, that’s one thing. Being unalterably convinced that those things *can’t possibly exist* is something else altogether.

                    • goodold_lucifer

                      Well, what good is a “truth” that is not only of no practical use, but does not even relate to anything is actual experience? What actual truth value can something divorced from reality really have?

                      Of course people should be free to believe in God all they want; but they need to remember not to try to force other people, acting peaceably, to act differently.

                    • Anthony Zarrella

                      You’re equivocating and conflating again. First, I only said that *you* were free to rationally *assert* that supernatural facts have no practical use – I didn’t say they don’t. Second, not having practical use does not equate to having no relationship to actual experience – the number of grains of sand on a given beach certainly has no practical use, but that doesn’t mean it’s unmoored from experience… I assume you will grant that the number would be a genuine (and “natural”) fact of reality?

                      Lastly, you’re going back to talking about facts “divorced from reality,” not me. You made an argument from pragmatism in your previous post, I answered it by saying that the assertion that supernatural knowledge is impractical is not the same as saying it isn’t real, and now you’re going back to saying it’s not real and acting like you’ve made some point.

                      I’m beginning to get the impression that you’re used to winning arguments by switching up your terms and premises swiftly and often, and counting on your counterpart to either not notice or be too confused to follow along. Don’t bother continuing to try it with me. This is kind of what I *do* with my life (J.D.), and I’ve had better debaters than you try to bamboozle me or throw me off balance.

                    • goodold_lucifer

                      What’s the technique you are using now, viz., attacking the messenger instead of the message (along with misrepresenting the message), called in your line of work?

                    • Anthony Zarrella

                      I’m not doing that at all. I posted two paragraphs criticizing the “message” (and your means of arguing it – which is a perfectly valid target in a rational debate), and then I posted a paragraph criticizing you. I do not imply that any criticism of you makes your “message” less likely to be true – they are two separate assertions on my part.

                      An ad hominem argument (which is what you’re referring to) would be if I said, “I feel you use deceptive argument practices, *and therefore* your position is false and/or non-credible.”

                      In my post, however, the last paragraph is not meant to imply anything at all about the first two (except that the specific flaws I analyze in the first two are *examples* of the thesis of the third).

                    • goodold_lucifer

                      Ah.

                    • goodold_lucifer

                      … *assert* that supernatural facts have no practical use …

                      One point here is that by using the designation “supernatural facts,” you are assuming facts not in evidence. And when it comes down to it, the best you have in support of your assumption is hearsay (nothing but testimony about peoples’ opinions and assumptions and emotions and imagination).

                      Not only is there no hard evidence for the supernatural, but most of the testimony flies in the face of actual experience and facts (i.e., concerns alleged miracles).

                      As for God (as apart from belief in God) actually having some practical use or effect in the world, you cannot have your cake and eat it, too. If God is supernatural, He is totally apart from this world. If God is not supernatural, He cannot literally perform miracles.

                      If God is “above nature” like the roof of your house is “above the rest of the house,” then He is not miraculous/supernatural, but just another part of the house. If God is not part of the house — and there is zero evidence or logic to support the belief that He is part of it — then He can actually be of no practical consequence.

                      Of course, while God is only a fictional character, belief in God is quite real — and can have enormous consequences in peoples’ lives (sometimes good, or even very good, and sometimes bad or even very bad). But all those consequences depend solely on what people do based on their beliefs — there is no literal God there to have any actual effect above or beyond what people do (or what happens in nature apart from human action).

                    • Anthony Zarrella

                      ” And when it comes down to it, the best you have in support of your assumption is hearsay (nothing but testimony about peoples’ opinions and assumptions and emotions and imagination).”

                      I just had this debate with another person in another thread – someone’s testimony about *their own experiences* is not hearsay. So, the Gospels (or *at least* the Gospels of Matthew and John) are not hearsay, because they are the accounts of the authors’ own experiences.

                      “As for God (as apart from belief in God) actually having some practical use or effect in the world, you cannot have your cake and eat it, too. If God is supernatural, He is totally apart from this world. If God is not supernatural, He cannot literally perform miracles.”

                      If we use the definitions of “miracle” and “supernatural” that we agreed upon yesterday, then you’re right. However, I wrote this before that and was using the colloquial definitions.

                      So, let me restate using the agreed terms. God is not (for the purposes of this discussion) “supernatural” in the sense of “outside reality”. He does not perform “miracles” in the sense of “things that are totally impossible.”

                      He does exist in reality, but in a way not covered by presently-known scientific principles, and He performs acts that defy explanation by presently-available scientific reasoning. This is what would colloquially be *referred to* as God being “supernatural” and performing “miracles,” but not in the sense of either term as we defined them.

                      [Note: none of this is how I would formulate a theological discourse for a believer or an open-minded (i.e. genuinely undecided) agnostic – but I’m using your terms and your technical language to make the argument in a way that will make the most sense to you.]

                    • goodold_lucifer

                      You are really not making sense. You seen to be trying to say that you know God did something when you don’t know God did it.

                    • goodold_lucifer

                      someone’s testimony about *their own experiences* is not hearsay. So, the Gospels (or *at least* the Gospels of Matthew and John) are not hearsay, because they are the accounts of the authors’ own experiences.

                      Since Matthew and John were not claiming to be supernatural themselves, their experience was only of someone else saying He was supernatural. Doesn’t count.

                      Anyone can claim to have “personally experienced a miracle,” but that claim on its own is worthless for understanding what actually happened.

                    • goodold_lucifer

                      I just had this debate with another person in another thread

                      Is there a link to that?

                      – someone’s testimony about *their own experiences* is not hearsay.

                      Yet, if they are testifying to having experienced a supernatural event, then their testimony amounts simply to claiming that they felt (or were somehow unreasonably convinced) that they were experiencing something supernatural.

                      No one can testify to something impossible and have their testimony taken seriously (as other than fiction). To testify that you have experienced something unreal, not-of-this-world, is to drop your credibility (though it could very well increase your influence and popularity in certain circles).

                      [And to testify that God is not supernatural, but merely reclusive, is to drop your religion, as such.]

                    • goodold_lucifer

                      I’m beginning to get the impression that you’re used to winning arguments by switching up your terms and premises swiftly and often, and counting on your counterpart to either not notice or be too confused to follow along…. try to bamboozle me or throw me off balance.

                      Well, you certainly have the wrong impression there.

                      Accusing someone who wants “just the facts” of trying to bamboozle you may be an interesting lawyer-trick, but it is not a good argument or criticism. (Do you think the old show “Dragnet” should have been titled “Bamboozle” instead?)

                    • Anthony Zarrella

                      I’m accusing you of equivocating (i.e. using two *different* terms that happen to use the same word, and acting like they’re the same word), hiding implicit premises and then relying on them, using circular arguments, asserting a contested premise as an axiom, and switching back and forth between similar-sounding but substantively different premises from one post to the next.

                      I’ve provided many examples and explanations of how you’ve done that. Each time, you’ve either reiterated your axiomatic assertion as though it gets more true with repetition, or you’ve made a reply to the substantive point I’ve made while completely ignoring my critique of your fallacious logic.

                      At this point, we’re going in circles anyway – every time I make a point against one of your premises, you just swap it out for a similar premise and pretend that you’ve shown my argument to be absurd. If I make an argument that favors God using the “common” definition of “supernatural” then you’ll sub in your definition of “supernatural,” and if I argue that under your definition, God is not supernatural, you’ll insist that He is, by returning to the common definition.

                      Feel free to have the last word, if it makes you feel like you’ve won something. I’ll let my posts speak for themselves, and hopefully no one will fall for your motte and bailey shenanigans.

                    • goodold_lucifer

                      I’m accusing you of equivocating (i.e. using two *different* terms that happen to use the same word, and acting like they’re the same word), hiding implicit premises and then relying on them, using circular arguments, asserting a contested premise as an axiom, and switching back and forth between similar-sounding but substantively different premises from one post to the next.

                      Ok. So long as you understand that your accusing testimony does not change the fact that it didn’t really happen that way. Your “counterfactual” doesn’t change the actual facts.

                    • goodold_lucifer

                      … or you’ve made a reply to the substantive point I’ve made while completely ignoring my critique of your fallacious logic.

                      You are making the invalid assumption that, since I don’t believe in the supernatural, therefore my logic must be fallacious. But you are on the wrong track.

                      And you keep switching around the way you use the word “supernatural”: sometimes in what you call the “colloquial” way, and sometimes in some other way where you are apparently trying to make “supernatural” equate to “natural.” It has been a little hard to keep up with your switcheroos.

                      Bamboozle?

                    • goodold_lucifer

                      I’ll let my posts speak for themselves,…

                      I would not assume they are speaking for anyone else (and that the faith and illogic is really yours).

                      … and hopefully no one will fall for your motte and bailey shenanigans.

                      Cool — I had never heard of that before. It’s a terrible argument/criticism — but colorful.

                    • goodold_lucifer

                      Again, what *is* the middle ground, then? What caused life to develop if not random chance and not external intelligence and will?

                      There is no middle ground between randomness and the supernatural. Nature is the only ground there is. Randomness and the supernatural are fantastic notions.

                    • Anthony Zarrella

                      OK, now you really have hit the point of a “religion of naturalism.” I know you’ll deny it, but when you have a principle that you insist is valid against *all possible* criticism, and which is the *standard* by which you judge any claim of proof, how is that not a religious dogma?

                      You have basically admitted that your belief in naturalism is *not susceptible* to disproof. That no matter what evidence anyone purports to have against it, you will simply take it as a matter of faith that there *must* be a naturalistic explanation, even if you have not the faintest clue what that explanation might be.

                      A belief that is impervious to contrary evidence. A belief that is so strongly held that any argument which seems to disprove it will be rejected as absurd *because* it goes against that belief. Sounds a lot like what atheists accuse theists of when you tell us we’re opposed to reason.

                    • goodold_lucifer

                      You have basically admitted that your belief in naturalism is *not susceptible* to disproof.

                      Basically.

                      And necessarily so.

                      The processes of proof (and disproof) depend on the logical use of factual material to make the case (one way or the other). So if you are serious about understanding the world, naturalism, i.e., sticking to the facts, is your ONLY option.

                    • Anthony Zarrella

                      Again, you equivocate. If “naturalism” means basing beliefs only on what is observable, then it does nothing to foreclose the possibility that something might be observed (like a miracle) that doesn’t fit your pat theory of how the world works. If “naturalism” means basing beliefs only on phenomena which conform to generalizable laws, then it excludes miracles, but no longer makes it irrational to base beliefs on non-naturalist observations.

                    • goodold_lucifer

                      If “naturalism” means basing beliefs only on what is observable, then it does nothing to foreclose the possibility that something might be observed (like a miracle) that doesn’t fit your pat theory of how the world works.

                      Though I’m not a fan of the notion of “quantum indeterminism,” you could think of this sort of like the collapse of the wave function: once you observe it, it wouldn’t be miraculous.

                      Note also that I have no “pat theory of how the world works.” I simply think that the unreal (the “not-of-this-world”) has no way of working. But there is plenty of stuff that works, and about which I have not clue as to how.

                      If “naturalism” means basing beliefs only on phenomena which conform to generalizable laws, then it excludes miracles, but no longer makes it irrational to base beliefs on non-naturalist observations.

                      How do you figure that?

                    • Anthony Zarrella

                      “once you observe it, it wouldn’t be miraculous.”

                      I suppose you could go that direction. In that case I would agree – miracles don’t occur. I still affirm the proposition that the blind were given sight, the lame walked, and the dead rose… but by that definition, I guess they weren’t miracles.

                      That’s what I mean – once you define “anything observable” as “not a miracle,” then you get the purely semantic victory you’re looking for (“there are no miracles”), but you get nowhere with your actual *point* (that the dead don’t rise, the blind don’t see, etc.)… because there’s no reason that “the events formerly known as miracles” couldn’t be observable.

                      “But there is plenty of stuff that works, and about which I have not clue as to how.”

                      Sure, OK, this is the same as the miracle stuff. If you want to split semantic hairs and say there is nothing beyond this world, but there’s plenty of stuff in the world that works in mysterious ways, then I’ll buy that, and then I’ll say that God *is* part of this world (as you define it), and simply works in ways you have no clue about.

                      “How do you figure that?”

                      Simple – there is no good reason to *assume* (as an axiom) that everything that happens, happens according to generalizable laws. So if “naturalism” means only those beliefs based on law-conforming phenomena, then it is perfectly reasonable to say, “OK, but I also have beliefs based on these *non-conforming* phenomena.” (i.e. what we would have called “miracles” before coming to our little understanding, above)

                    • goodold_lucifer

                      I still affirm the proposition that the blind were given sight, the lame walked,…

                      That is getting more and more common these days. Nothing miraculous going on.

                      .. and the dead rose…

                      Well, that never actually happened.

                      …there is no good reason to *assume* (as an axiom) that everything that happens, happens according to generalizable laws.

                      I don’t assume it, and you don’t have to, either. But that is no justification for believing in the supernatural. To sensibly believe in something, you need evidence for it — and all you have for the supernatural is blind, i.e., religious, faith.

                      You don’t need a “generalizable law” for everything, but you do need evidence to make sense of your beliefs.

                    • Anthony Zarrella

                      “That is getting more and more common these days. Nothing miraculous going on.”

                      Oh, cut it out. You know full-well I was talking about instantaneous, non-medical cures, as detailed in the Bible, not about optic nerve surgeries or prosthetic limbs.

                      “Well, that never actually happened.”

                      According to you.

                      “I don’t assume it, and you don’t have to, either. But that is no justification for believing in the supernatural. To sensibly believe in something, you need evidence for it — and all you have for the supernatural is blind, i.e., religious, faith.

                      You don’t need a “generalizable law” for everything, but you do need evidence to make sense of your beliefs.”

                      But if not everything has to conform to generalizable laws, then you have no justification for simply *assuming* that the thousands, or millions of accounts of “miraculous” events don’t constitute evidence in favor of such events occurring. (Again, I use the term “miraculous” in the colloquial sense to describe a “non-repeatable phenomenon” that defies easy scientific analysis or explanation – not in your sense of “something outside reality”)

                      You can’t say that it is unreasonable to believe in “miraculous” events because there is no evidence, and then dismiss all the evidence as irrelevant because it’s impossible and therefore non-credible. That’s confirmation bias in its purest form.

                    • goodold_lucifer

                      You can’t say that it is unreasonable to believe in “miraculous” events because there is no evidence, and then dismiss all the evidence …

                      Perfectly true. You don’t seem to get that I am not dismissing any evidence whatsoever. If there were any evidence, I would take it into account, but there not only isn’t any evidence, there is no possibility of any “miraculous events.”

                      I am not ignoring evidence for the supernatural/miraculous — there simply is nothing there in that regard.

                      You may want to feel that testimony qualifies as evidence, but that is not a possibility in this regard. Fiction is not fact. Stories can be fun or comforting, even inspiring, but they’re still just stories.

                    • goodold_lucifer

                      You know full-well I was talking about instantaneous, non-medical cures, as detailed in the Bible,…

                      I think everybody knows that’s what you were talking about. I don’t think there’s any doubt about it.

                      I am merely pointing out that those are just Bible stories about stuff that never actually happened (and contrasting them with reality).

                  • goodold_lucifer

                    “A rock is a rock, and cannot *at the same time* not be a rock. That doesn’t mean it can’t cease to be a rock in the *next* instant, and suddenly (for no reason at all) be a fish, or a miniature sun, or a cookie.” [italics added]

                    Actually, it does mean that. That is, it is impossible for something to change for no reason at all. Things can only change according to their actual nature and actual circumstances. Nothing happens miraculously or randomly, i.e., causelessly.

                    • Anthony Zarrella

                      I agree that that is a true proposition in the universe that in fact exists (barring Divine intervention – which *I KNOW* you think is impossible ;-p). I was asking why that should be the case.

                      In other words, if the features of our universe are *not* the result of Divine intelligence, then why are they the way they are, and not some other way? Accepting that *logic itself* is an inescapable base condition, why should any of the *other* orderly laws of the universe exist? Why should the principle of causality be true – given that it is not *logically* required?

                      Basically, why *this* universe, and not a radically different one?

                    • goodold_lucifer

                      In other words, if the features of our universe are *not* the result of Divine intelligence, then why are they the way they are, and not some other way?

                      Because there is no other way for them to be — the law of causality is “*logically* required.” There is no alternative to nature. Fantasies of “Divine intelligence” do not make the supernatural a real possibility.

                    • Anthony Zarrella

                      As I’ve said, you can’t simply take a statement about the world and declare by fiat that it is a fundamental rule of logic.

                      You *declare* that “there is no alternative to nature,” but as far as I can tell, that’s nothing more than a bare premise. It’s not definitionally true, and it’s unsupported by other agreed premises, so it’s no more binding upon my logic or anyone else’s than if I said, “There’s no alternative to God. Everything that exists must originate with God, because God is the origin of all things.”

                      That may be true (I think it is), but you will just deny it (and not violate any logical rule in doing so) because it gives you no *reason* to believe it. I have no reason to believe your premise of naturalism, so it is consistent with logical principles for me to simply deny it.

                    • goodold_lucifer

                      You *declare* that “there is no alternative to nature,” but as far as I can tell, that’s nothing more than a bare premise.

                      The relevant difference between naturalism and supernaturalism is that naturalism is based on observation, while supernaturalism is based on fantasy.

                      With nature, you just have to start with what’s there. With God, you have to posit something that is not there. Nobody dreamed up nature; God had to be imagined.

                    • Anthony Zarrella

                      Except that doesn’t explain your outright refusal to accept that anything supernatural *could* be observed. You’re pulling some slick slight of hand, but I’m following the ball.

                      You state that the supernatural is impossible because it goes against observable facts.

                      You then *define* “natural” to mean “all there is” and say that there can be nothing outside of that.

                      But by that definition, something that would normally be called a “miracle” *could* happen – it would just be part of nature. So, I guess under those definitions, it wouldn’t be “supernatural,” but the effect (something happening that the usual laws of science don’t allow for) would be the same. Even God could exist – He’d just be (by definition) a part of nature.

                      See, if “nature” means nothing more or less than “everything real” then it says nothing at all about what sorts of things might *be* real.

                      But then you distract with an Abracadabra and switch definitions – you argue that “the supernatural” is impossible (because nothing can exist outside of everything that exists), but then you define any thing or effect that is not *presently observable* in reality as “supernatural.” You’ve changed terms – now, “natural” means “that which accords with rational observation.”

                      Under the new definition, God and miracles are definitely not “natural.” But if “natural” now only means “in accord with observation”, then there is no longer any good reason to assume that “non-natural” or “supernatural” things are impossible – after all, rational observation isn’t perfect, and we “know” a lot of things are true now that we “knew” were false 100 years ago.

                      But as soon as I make that argument – Alakazam! – you switch back to saying “natural” means everything that exists, so the “supernatural” is impossible.

                      At rock bottom, once you cut through the smoke and mirrors, what you’re asserting is that “natural” is limited to the *presently observable* facts about reality (or maybe those that you can imagine being observable with an advancement in technology) and potential facts that align with the laws we think we know now, and that anything outside that is impossible.

                      That’s not an incoherent position, but it doesn’t have the weight of logical inevitability that you pretend it does either. Once you parse your argument, you’re saying “Nothing can exist beyond [nature=everything], and God and miracles are contrary to [nature=observed-reality], so God and miracles are impossible.” It’s a false and fallacious pseudo-syllogism, because your first premise and your second use a *different* definition of the term “nature”.

                      Turns out you *did* have something up your sleeve.

                    • goodold_lucifer

                      … but then you define any thing or effect that is not *presently observable* in reality as “supernatural.”

                      Oops, where did I do that? That is certainly a mistaken notion.

                    • Anthony Zarrella

                      You never do it explicitly. You hide the swapped premise in your arguments that “XYZ is impossible because it goes against what we can observe in reality.” If you did it explicitly, it would make the flaws in your argument more apparent.

                    • goodold_lucifer

                      Note that I didn’t ask “how?” I asked “where?”

                      I don’t think I did it at all. If I did, it was a mistake. And that’s why I asked where you noticed it. You didn’t just make it up as some sort of lawyerly trick or trap, did you?

                    • Anthony Zarrella

                      OK, sure:

                      “With nature, you just have to start with what’s there.”

                      Now, in keeping with the rule of philosophical charity, I *assume* you’re not making a tautological statement (that only real things exist) – because that would be no argument at all against God’s existence (I could simply assert, “Sure, only real things exist, and God is real.”) To avoid that tautology, you must be using “what’s there” in the sense of what is observable. Furthermore, you must mean “presently observable” rather than “observable in principle” because if you mean the latter, then there is no reason to assume that God is *definitionally* unobservable – we just have no *present means* by which to observe Him (unless you believe in the Eucharist as we Catholics do, but of course you don’t).

                      So, giving that statement it’s *most charitable* interpretation (i.e. the interpretation that makes you out to be saying something that makes sense rather than something that is obviously irrelevant), it must be interpreted to mean “With nature, you just have to start with what’s *observably* there, given present or reasonably foreseeable capacities of observation.”

                      “The relevant difference between naturalism and supernaturalism is that naturalism is based on observation, while supernaturalism is based on fantasy.”

                      Again, you draw a distinction between natural and supernatural along the line of “what can be observed”. And again, I must assume you mean “observed using present or reasonably foreseeable capacities of observation” because otherwise you’re leaving the door wide open for the “one day we will see Him face to face” argument, and I assume you’re a clever enough guy not to make an argument that does so little to refute the position you’re arguing against.

                      Those are two examples just from *this* branch of the thread. If I had the time or inclination to do a thorough search, instead of just scrolling a few posts up the page, I could find others.

                    • goodold_lucifer

                      … there is no reason to assume that God is *definitionally* unobservable …

                      To assert that “God is a Supernatural Being” is precisely to assert that “God is Definitionally Unobservable” — i.e., imaginary.

                      Otherwise, what is the point of confusing the issue with the designation “Supernatural”? The point is to claim that God is there even though there is no actual evidence of His Presence, because He is “above nature,” not literally part of it — belief in God depends on blind faith, not on reason.

                    • goodold_lucifer

                      So, giving that statement it’s *most charitable* interpretation (i.e. the interpretation that makes you out to be saying something that makes sense rather than something that is obviously irrelevant), it must be interpreted to mean “With nature, you just have to start with what’s *observably* there, given present or reasonably foreseeable capacities of observation.”

                      Not exactly.

                      In real life, you start with only what is right there to be observed where you are — sensory perception. But you don’t stop right then and there. You continue on to expand your knowledge, to observe, conceptualize, theorize, etc.

                      The key to understanding reality is to stick to just the facts, i.e., to nature. To assert the existence of the supernatural is to undercut or short-circuit the whole cognitive enterprise.

                    • goodold_lucifer

                      Again, you draw a distinction between natural and supernatural along the line of “what can be observed”. And again, I must assume you mean “observed using present or reasonably foreseeable capacities of observation” because otherwise you’re leaving the door wide open for the “one day we will see Him face to face” argument,…

                      You cannot have your cake and eat it, too.

                      You cannot claim that God is supernatural and that you could meet Him face to face, too. (Unless, I suppose, you are claiming to be supernatural as well.)

                  • goodold_lucifer

                    But that doesn’t mean that if *many* people all say they witnessed the same seemingly-impossible thing that there isn’t some point at which we have to give their testimony some weight.

                    It would not make any difference how many people claimed to have witnessed a miracle. Miracles don’t actually happen; they are imaginary.

                    A million people claiming to have witnessed a miracle does not make any miracle possible. Not even a million and one.

                    • Anthony Zarrella

                      So, in other words, your view of how the world works is the only valid one, and no matter what evidence is presented, it will be accepted only to the extent that it accords with your worldview?

                      That sounds much more like an atheist caricature of religion than like the reasoned opinion of a rational person.

                    • goodold_lucifer

                      So, in other words, your view of how the world works is the only valid one, and no matter what evidence is presented, it will be accepted only to the extent that it accords with your worldview?

                      If you have real evidence, then it will have to “accord with my worldview,” which is that we should deal with reality (as it is, not as we might imagine or hope it ought to be).

                      If you are not basing your proof or disproof on actual facts, then what you have might be religious belief, but it is certainly not actual proof or disproof.

                    • Anthony Zarrella

                      So, what happens if someone like you gets on a jury? If I testify, and I say, “I saw the defendant run the red light,” will you dismiss my testimony out of hand unless I can provide testable, repeatable proof of my claim?

                      If not, then why is it dismissed out of hand if I say I observed a miraculous healing of an injury or something?

                      You said (a while back) that there could *be* no evidence of miracles, even if a thousand people witnessed it. Now, either you simply mean to *define* “miracle* as “something which cannot possibly happen” (in which case your claim is tautological), or else “miracle” just means “something our current understanding of the world cannot explain and says *should* not be happening, but it is anyway” (in which case I fail to see how you can be so certain that there can never be valid evidence presented).

                  • goodold_lucifer

                    And a direct contradiction (“The fluid came from a tank inside the statue even though there is no tank”) is a lot more impossible than a mere violation of known rules …

                    This is one very significant mistake you are making. A “violation of known rules” is a direct contradiction of reality. Such violations never actually happen. “Witnesses” notwithstanding.

                    • Anthony Zarrella

                      That’s just *demonstrably* false. Newton’s laws of mechanics were “known rules,” and Einstein proved that they could be violated under certain circumstances.

                      That was my whole point – if there are “known rules” and then there is evidence that something has happened which violates those rules, then it is evidence that the “known rules” are simply wrong (or at least, that they do not cover all possible cases).

                      Look up the “double-slit experiment” and then tell me how you explain it, if violations of known rules never actually happen. Or would you say that it was not (prior to that experiment) a “known rule” that a particle can only be in one place at a time, and that a particle is not a wave and a wave is not a particle?

                      A violation of known rules is not a contradiction of reality – it is a contradiction of our present knowledge of reality.

                    • goodold_lucifer

                      Newton’s laws of mechanics were “known rules,” and Einstein proved that they could be violated under certain circumstances…. A violation of known rules is not a contradiction of reality – it is a contradiction of our present knowledge of reality.

                      You are being too loose in your use of language there.

                      It is not a violation of a “known rule” to discover that are circumstances in which that rule doesn’t apply. Scientific rules are necessarily contextual; you cannot pretend that every rule has to apply to everything.

                      If you can point out a context in which the “known rules” need to be based on the supernatural because that’s what is there to observe and study, then you would be on to something (cognitively). But the whole point is that you cannot do that. God exists only in stories, not in practical observation (not in literal fact).

                    • Anthony Zarrella

                      So, if I say I witnessed a wound spontaneously heal, why can’t we just say that it proves an exception to the general rule? And then, if we test all possible naturalistic explanations and come up empty, why wouldn’t that count as direct observation of supernatural phenomena (or at least of phenomena which fits the colloquial category of “supernatural” in that it has a cause outside the realm of scientific verification)?

                      Anyway, under that definition, what *would* constitute a true “violation” of a known rule?

                    • goodold_lucifer

                      And then, if we test all possible naturalistic explanations and come up empty,…

                      Remember that humans are not omniscient. If you have tested all the “naturalistic explanations” you can think of and have “come up empty,” that simply means you haven’t considered all the possibilities.

                    • Anthony Zarrella

                      Fair enough – as I said though, we can stipulate that perhaps a “supernatural” event that is susceptible to observation isn’t truly supernatural under the definition we’ve agreed upon. But, as you point out, we’re not omniscient, so how can you be sure that the true explanation (among the possibilities you haven’t considered yet) wouldn’t turn out to be among the class of phenomena that would be *colloquially* termed “supernatural” (like divine intervention, or an angelic guardian)?

                    • goodold_lucifer

                      In a way, it is precisely because I’m not omniscient that I would never consider settling for a “supernatural explanation” (as the final solution) — instead of being willing to wait for the real one (and/or willing to go on living without knowing the real one).

                    • Anthony Zarrella

                      Sure, makes sense – but if we’re defining “supernatural” as we agreed, then divine intervention or an angelic guardian wouldn’t necessarily *be* supernatural (if it was the explanation arrived at by rational consideration of the evidence).

                    • goodold_lucifer

                      If it did actually explain something, then it would necessarily NOT be supernatural.

                    • Anthony Zarrella

                      By the definition we agreed on, sure, exactly! So we’re agreed then? It is at least rationally *possible* that an event could occur whose proper explanation would be within the class of phenomena that most people would *call* “supernatural” (like God or angels), but it just wouldn’t really *be* supernatural because it has observable effects in the world?

                    • goodold_lucifer

                      Since there are no Gods or Angels, yes, the real explanation would always be something else, something in the real world.

                    • Anthony Zarrella

                      Now you’re just defining yourself as correct. I’m using *your own* axioms to provide reasoned argument for why it is rational to allow at least the possibility of God and angels, and your response is that it’s impossible *because* there are no Gods or angels.

                      So, there can’t be a God because there is no God? That’s not argument, it’s tautology.

                    • goodold_lucifer

                      But, as you point out, we’re not omniscient, so how can you be sure that the true explanation (among the possibilities you haven’t considered yet) wouldn’t turn out to be among the class of phenomena that would be *colloquially* termed “supernatural” (like divine intervention, or an angelic guardian)?

                      Since I am not omniscient, not being aware of the actual cause of something would not convince me to give up and settle for “It’s a miracle!” instead of holding out for a reasonable explanation sooner or later.

                      Believing in the supernatural is a cognitive dead end, not a path to enlightenment.

                    • Anthony Zarrella

                      I’m not saying that if you don’t know how something happened, you should *assume* it’s supernatural. I’m saying if you don’t know how it happened, you can’t categorically *rule out* the class of explanations colloquially termed “supernatural.”

                    • goodold_lucifer

                      I’m not saying that if you don’t know how something happened, you should *assume* it’s supernatural. I’m saying if you don’t know how it happened, you can’t categorically *rule out* the class of explanations colloquially termed “supernatural.”

                      If knowledge of reality is what you want, then you do need to absolutely rule out the “supernatural” and stick to the facts.

                      If stories are your game, then you can logically include “the supernatural” in that enterprise.

                    • goodold_lucifer

                      … evidence that the “known rules” are simply wrong (or at least, that they do not cover all possible cases).

                      Other than the basic philosophic axioms of identity and causality, why should we expect (hope?) any rule to apply to everything and “cover all possible cases? There are just so many different things in the world!

                      Everything has a particular nature/identity, but not everything is identical.

                  • goodold_lucifer

                    Each of them *is* within that range, but the probability of each of them winding up within that range by random chance is… well, astronomical is far too *small* a word. Suffice it to say that it is almost infinitely unlikely.

                    Actually, the probability of them being what they are is 1. There is actually no other possibility.

                    It is 100% likely that the universe is the way it is. Couldn’t have been any other way.

                    • Anthony Zarrella

                      On what do you base that certainty? It seems like it’s just axiomatic for you – but the thing about an axiom is that it is only rationally binding upon those who agree that it is self-evident.

                      I think it is self-evident that the universe cannot exist without an efficient cause, and that there are a great many things that could have been other than they are – but you don’t buy that, so it’s not a premise that would bind you to any particular conclusion.

                      Let me ask you this – you seem to be big on individual rights and liberty, so how does that *work* if things cannot be other than they are? What does my free will amount to if it is utterly impossible that I could have chosen ham instead of turkey for lunch (on a day when I in fact chose turkey)? How does it even make sense to speak of respecting the rights of others, if I could say, “Yeah, sure I coerced you, but I couldn’t possibly have done otherwise”?

                    • goodold_lucifer

                      … if I could say, “Yeah, sure I coerced you, but I couldn’t possibly have done otherwise”?

                      You would just be blowing smoke.

                      Naturalism does not entail psychological determinism. Volition is a fact of reality.

                      Note that that does not mean that everything has volition, or that volition applies to everything. But as a human, it is axiomatic that you have it. That doesn’t mean that hydrogen atoms have it, and so could have chosen to act differently sometime.

                    • Anthony Zarrella

                      “Of course, your rational use of the axiom depends on your acceptance of it. And, naturally, your agreement or disagreement does not in any way affect the axiom. There is a choice between following reality and following religion instead.”

                      Oh, come off it! You’re essentially saying that anything *you* say is axiomatic, is, and anyone who won’t accept *your* axioms is out of touch with reality. That’s not argument – that’s arrogance.

                      “Naturalism does not entail psychological determinism. Volition is a fact of reality.”

                      So… then the universe *could* be other than it is? I could have gone to med school instead of law school, and married some other woman, with all the ripple effects that would cause?

                      Or do you mean some definition of volition that doesn’t entail the actual option to do other than what I in fact did?

                      “But as a human, it is axiomatic that you have it.”

                      “It is axiomatic that…”, used in this way, means nothing more than “I think it is self-evident, therefore I reject any need to back it up with argument, and if you disagree, I will dismiss you as a fool.”

                    • goodold_lucifer

                      You need to separate out the realm of human action. Humans have volition; the chemical elements of the world don’t. Human society could be different, but the physical, chemical, biological, geological, etc., factors in the world don’t have volition and could not be different.

                    • Anthony Zarrella

                      OK… that’s a difficult position to maintain, in the specifics, but it’s coherent.

                      So, you would affirm then (in theory), that it *could have been* the case that we live in a world where there is no sun, because we blew it up 500 years ago with drastically advanced scientific progress (i.e. an act of human volition), and we constructed a giant artifice to replace it and maintain livable conditions on Earth? That is a world we *could* be living in?

                      (Not “could be” as in, “it might be true and we don’t know it” but “could be” as in, “we’re not, but it is a mere contingent fact that we’re not, not a logically necessary truth of the universe, and it could have been otherwise”)

                    • goodold_lucifer

                      No, I would not affirm that; I don’t believe people have magical powers to have done such “drastically advanced” stuff.

                      Yet. In the future, we could certainly get there, but not yet.

                      If you wanted me to affirm that the U.S. could have had 57 states by now, I wouldn’t say that it couldn’t have happened that way. But I wouldn’t go to such unrealistic lengths as you propose.

                      Further, I don’t buy the “mere contingent fact” vs “logically necessary” dichotomy. It’s confusing and unreasonable.

                    • Anthony Zarrella

                      “If you wanted me to affirm that the U.S. could have had 57 states by now, I wouldn’t say that it couldn’t have happened that way. But I wouldn’t go to such unrealistic lengths as you propose.”

                      OK, fine, the 57 States example is good enough for me.

                      “Further, I don’t buy the “mere contingent fact” vs “logically necessary” dichotomy. It’s confusing and unreasonable.”

                      It goes back at least as far as Aristotle (though he referred to necessary attributes and “accidents” – I avoid that term because it’s too radically different from how we use the word “accident” today, and would therefore be nigh-incomprehensible to anyone not immersed in Aristotelian philosophy).

                      A “contingent fact” is one that *is* true, but doesn’t *have* to be true (i.e. the hypothetical world in which it is not true is a logically coherent world). A “necessary fact” is one that it is simply incoherent to posit other than it is (like the Stoics’ example of “wrestling without a partner” – if one is wrestling, it is a necessary fact that one has a partner, because the contrary is entirely incoherent).

                      A related use (closer to Aristotle’s original) is that “necessary” attributes of a thing are the attributes without which it is *not* that thing, while a thing’s “accidents” are properties that *are* true of it, but might not be (so a rock being composed of minerals is necessary, because otherwise it wouldn’t *be* a rock, but a rock being 110 lbs. is an “accident” or “contingent fact” of that rock, because if you chip away 1 lb. of stone, the original mass is still a rock – and still the same rock, just lighter).

                    • goodold_lucifer

                      … (like the Stoics’ example of “wrestling without a partner” – if one is wrestling, it is a necessary fact that one has a partner, because the contrary is entirely incoherent).

                      The notion of “God Creating the Universe Ex Nihilo” is incoherent in just that way. You cannot create something out of nothing. “Wrestling without a partner” and “creating in a void” are both nonsense.

                      A “contingent fact” is one that *is* true, but doesn’t *have* to be true (i.e. the hypothetical world in which it is not true is a logically coherent world).

                      There is no such thing as a fact that “is true but doesn’t have to be true.” The fact that you can imagine things happening differently does not make the truth of the actual state of affairs somehow magically contingent upon somebody’s imagination.

                  • goodold_lucifer

                    God can be described in a pretty small number of attributes

                    Well, zero is a pretty small number. And zero is the number of actual attributes God has.

                    Being non-existent does not qualify as an attribute.

                    • Anthony Zarrella

                      “Blah, blah, let me remind everyone that I’m an atheist, blah”

                      Seriously, taking the time to respond to *every* mention or hypothetical about God with a reply that basically amounts to “In case you missed the last 100 times, God’s not real, so this makes no sense” doesn’t make it any more convincing. No one who didn’t already agree with you is going to be convinced because you keep saying it in different ways.

                      Would it be at all helpful, or add anything at all to the discussion if I came to a thread that was all in favor of abortion and went through saying, “Abortion isn’t a right, because it’s wrong” 100 different ways, all without providing any argument, just that bare assertion? Of course not. (And please don’t prove my point by saying something imperious and condescending like, “No, it wouldn’t be helpful because it’s wrong – abortion *is* a right.”)

                • goodold_lucifer

                  The problem is that when you make the claim that God is necessary for existence to be created, that implies that God exists outside of existence, and that by definition he does not exist.

                  Good point.

              • goodold_lucifer

                Atheism doesn’t mean “not-(God-ism)” it means “(not-God)-ism” – in other words, not “lack of belief in God” but “belief in lack of God”

                Not exactly.

                Strictly speaking, atheism means lack of theistic beliefs — and has no implications whatsoever about what any particular atheist holds as his own beliefs. You are trying to mangle a negative term into some sort of “positive” mush, but it doesn’t work that way.

                • Anthony Zarrella

                  As to the *etymological* issue, linguistic history is on my side (regardless of what modern-day atheists might use the term to mean). As regards the issue of what atheists *actually* believe, we’ve done this part already (i.e. “atheism per se” vs. “militant atheism”).

    • Andrew

      facile

    • Veritas

      Dear crankbait, crawdad, or nightcrawler:
      I would add another apparent fear. If God and an afterlife are real, why do people miss their loved ones, grieve for them, at funerals? I mean, why worry? This is not the end, unless you were woefully evil. Aren’t we all certain that we meet up again?
      Does an animal think about or reflect on the possibility of heaven or hell? I think animals do show a real fear of being eaten and take preventative measures from danger, but they don’t actually contemplate life and death, do they?
      Does an animal contemplate the meaning of his life and does he consider how life should be lived because of the possibility that its soul might–if the animal considers its own soul–perish?
      What makes the Christian real? C.S. Lewis once wrote something about having this capability of knowing that our death is certain. What makes the Christian real is that he can choose faith, hope, and charity. He can also choose a way of life that is paradoxical but oddly seems to be effective in achieving the possibility of joy and happiness in a dreadful world.
      Lose your life, and you will find it.
      A seed must die in order to be reborn.
      I was created with the knowledge that I will soon become a dead man. What kind of cruel hoax is this? Lord, you made me only to suffer–life sucks and then we die. I sweat blood in the garden. I ask God to take this cup from me. I ask God to give me the strength to forgive my tormentors.
      You know, for men like us dying is easy. It’s living that’s always been hard.
      I don’t know. I can’t prove.
      I hope.

    • Anthony Zarrella

      Except that Christians (or at least Catholics – I know it doesn’t apply to some denominations of Protestants) don’t believe that our entry into Heaven is guaranteed. Most of us still fear death, not because we don’t know if there’s a Heaven, but because we don’t dare to *presume* that we’ll be found worthy of going.

      As far as flinching when punched, that’s just a silly argument – Heaven or no Heaven, pain in the here and now still *hurts*. Knowing that “in the long run” it won’t matter doesn’t make it any less rational to try to avoid it now.

      On the other hand, an atheist who really believes that there is no God (and who denies that he or she has an innate longing for God) should have *no reason* to invoke or seek God, or fear His punishment, *at any time*.

      • bassbait

        It was a parody argument in the first place. I have absolutely no fear of God because I have absolutely no understanding of “his” existence. The term itself is as meaningless as a term can be. I can’t even make sense of the concept of God because it’s incoherent in every way. Attributing a gender to a deity automatically makes it too confusing for me to believe – “how can a transcendent being that created everything and exists outside of the natural world (aka reality) have a gender, when gender presupposes evolutionary processes?”

        Christian guilt is I think one of the most horrendous psychological damages of mankind. I had to be put through that ringer for years before realizing that it was unfounded. The things that made me me, in christianity made me evil, but when I took away the christian moral law (which is corrupt outright) I realized that there was nothing inherently wrong with the aspects of me that have no effect on others. Since I left Christianity I’ve actually been a better person and more helpful to the world around me, not just to non-christians but even to christians. I’m a better person without religion, what a surprise.

        Also many christians WOULD presume that they are going to heaven. Christianity feeds narcissism and those with narcissistic tendencies do honestly believe they’re going to heaven, and those with guilt tendencies do not. I had guilt tendencies and I was certain I was going to hell, all the way from the age of 14.

        • Anthony Zarrella

          OK, first: God does not have gender in the *same* way that people have gender (except when He was incarnate as Jesus, of course), any more than He is our Father in the *same* sense that my dad id my father. *Of course* it’s non-biological.

          However, Christian theology would say you have it backwards – the concepts of gender (and fatherhood, etc.) that we apply to physical, biological things are unconscious analogies to God’s attributes, not the other way around. A human dad is a father because he occupies a relationship to his children that is *like* that of God to His creations (in some ways). A man is male because he bears a certain kind of similarity to God’s nature (and women bear a different similarity – there are some Bible passages in which God is referred to by female epithets).

          Second, you may, as a contingent, psychological fact, be more well-adjusted and whatnot since rejecting Christianity, but it’s a false causal inference. It’s not hard to believe that you’re a better person since you dealt with crippling guilt issues. But if you had issues with guilt, that was not because of Christianity – because *the* central tenet of Christianity is that *nothing* you can do is too wicked for God to forgive, and that He is *eagerly waiting* to do so as soon as you sincerely ask.

          If the “things that make you, you” are things that Christianity calls evil, then they’re not really at the core of your being. Perhaps an addict can’t imagine who he’d be without heroin, or a glutton can’t even imagine who he’d be or what he’d do for enjoyment if he didn’t continue to deify food in his life… but when addicts *do* quit, or overeaters *do* take control of their diets, they almost invariably find that they are *more* free to be themselves than they ever were. Christians believe that the same is true of all sins. So, I don’t know *which* sins you consider fundamental to your identity, but I assure you, they’re not.

          Lastly, that’s a pretty uncharitable and unfounded assumption you’re making about how Christians feel. I’m neither a narcissist nor do I have a guilt complex. I *hope* to be saved, and I believe it’s a well-founded hope, but I don’t presume to be *sure* of it. I don’t believe (in the sense of having any degree of certainty) that I’m going to Heaven, or that I’m going to Hell – merely that Heaven is offered to me, by the Blood of the Lamb, but that Hell is still an option if I choose to reject God’s offer.

          That’s what Heaven and Hell are – choices. C.S. Lewis explained it well (and I’ll try to paraphrase): Hell is simply the consequence of Man saying to God, “Leave me alone – I’m better off without You,” and God replying to Man, “OK, have it your way.”

          I pray you make a better choice before your proverbial “final answer”. And I pray that when and if you realize that God is real, and judgment is real, it will *not* cause you to return to a feeling of crippling guilt, because you’ll also realize that mercy and forgiveness are real – and not the human sort, where you’re “forgiven” but your wrongdoing still hangs over you: the divine sort, where forgiveness erases sin.

          • bassbait

            I actually like where this is going, I was just messing around when commenting here but I actually do enjoy discussions with religious people and not because I want to deconvert them, but I want to understand what it is they believe, and help them understand who I am and what I believe. I want to openly communicate and don’t think I hate you or anything, I do love to argue as that’s just how I am, I was that way as a christian too. But I’m going to number my responses for the sake of ease –

            1.The problem of gender reflecting God is that, first off there are many different species that in no way reflect God, such as seahorses which are able to change sex, and of course the many organisms that reproduce asexually. And of course, intersex humans who don’t fit neatly into “male” and “female” categories. God made a mistake? What was the logic behind God making intersex people?

            2.I believe Christianity is fundamentally abusive. If you remove the existence of God from the equation and look at it in a secular form, christianity tells people to fear God and love God simultaneously. Telling me that God makes up the rules or who goes to hell, and then telling me I’m on the list and I have to beg for forgiveness is not different from a hostage situation. Christianity told me that who I was, at my core, was evil, and that instilled a sense of guilt that has since subdued because I’m smart enough to know that I’m not bad for things I can’t change.

            3.I’m not an addict. I’m transgender. You would be absolutely idiotic to make a case that trans can be fixed, or that it’s not at the core of who I am. Since as early as I can remember, I had the mental workings of a female. My brain patterns are female and my hormones are imbalanced to a point that I would need to take estrogen to increase dopamine levels. In other words, not transitioning to female causes a severe depression that makes me incapable of functioning. I lose weight very fast and have difficulty with basic tasks because of nerve damage which is made more severe by the depression. Trying to block me from transitioning has been demonstrated to make the problem more severe. There is no aspect of “sin” involved, I’m asexual so it has nothing to do with sexual deviancy. It’s a birth defect that needs to be fixed, and you wouldn’t block someone from, for example, getting a tumor removed, just because you disagreed with that person’s lifestyle.

            4.My friend’s mom actually is a narcissist. Narcissistic Personality Disorder. She actually thinks of herself as incapable of doing wrong or being wrong. She is a christian. She also severely abuses my friend and has been doing so for my friend’s entire life. The abuse is largely based on neo-conservative, christian ideals. Since you’ve allowed yourself to categorize (see: stereotype) atheists, I’m going to categorize christians into 2 categories (when even I know there’s more) – narcissists and guilt-ridden christians. Christians are pressured to either love themselves (God’s chosen people) or hate themselves (sinners). I don’t appeal to a higher power to tell me who I am or what I can do. I look at the world around me, see the results I want in the world, and act according to what I want. I want humanity to succeed, I want the best for as many people as I can. My morality is defined by opposing that which hurts humanity, and working towards that which helps humanity. I feel as though supernatural beliefs, dogma, bigotry, and lack of communication are some of the biggest enemies of human progress. So I work to fight those. This is why I want there to be an open dialogue between believers and non-believers. No progress is made if we shut each other down. You may say atheists shut down christians but I often see the opposite. I freely allow christians in my life to tell me their beliefs, I listen intently to all of them. Then when I talk about my beliefs they ask to switch topics because they’re afraid of what I have to say. They’re afraid of doubting their religion, which is a sign of dogma. I don’t want them to be forced into avoiding honesty and understanding themselves and their world better. I understand myself, I understand what I need, and it’s in direct opposition to “God”, and since I already do not and cannot believe that a God exists, because by definition God is an incoherent concept that can’t make any sense, I’m going to continue working towards being myself and doing what I need.

            Here’s the problem with Christians and transphobic people. I say this as a transgender person and hope that, regardless of our disagreements, you take the following words to heart because as a christian you need to agree with this even if you consider me a sinner –

            The problem is when you tell us what we need, instead of asking us what we need.

            Open communication is no one’s enemy. I urge all people of all kinds to not just talk, but to listen.

            • Anthony Zarrella

              I am logging off for the day, but I too find this an interesting discussion, so I look forward to continuing tomorrow.

            • LarryCicero

              “The problem is when you tell us what we need, instead of asking US what we need.” Maybe you should be asking God what you need and stop listening to yourself. There are plenty of mentally ill people in hospitals who are not capable of determining what is best for them. To say that anyone who disagrees with you is idiotic, while going on to state that your “mental workings” are female and fixed, as where your “mental workings” of depression are not fixed is not consistent.
              How do these “mental workings” differ? If someone suffers with depression, he may want to come out of it. If a bipolar manic-depressive is manic he may be content and not want to come out of it. The mental workings of “trans” is not settled science. If the “trans” were curable, could it be that the depression is merely a side effect, or the symptom, and not the root cause?
              I would like to consider one more thing- the reporting of ghosts. Are all the ghost stories over the centuries simply explained away as hallucinations of the mentally ill? If a perfectly sane person claims to have experienced a ghost, then that person must be a liar or there must be some kind of spirit world. The person who says there is no God would say the person who claims to have experienced a ghost is mentally ill or a liar, because ghosts cannot exist. Could it be that the atheist is neither a liar or mentally ill, but just hasn’t listened closely enough to recognize that what is invisible can, may, or does exist?

              • bassbait

                You can’t speak for God so you can’t tell me to ask God what I need. I don’t believe in God so I don’t have to take that advice and ask something that doesn’t exist. Most mentally ill people are at the very least, aware of the fact that their brain works differently and that it can be a detriment. My aunt is schizophrenic. Schizophrenia is a case of too much dopamine in the brain. Medications can decrease dopamine in the brain to a normal level and the symptoms of Schizophrenia go away. Medication is a simple solution for the issue at hand in that case, and should a schizophrenic person WANT to be “cured”, they can take medication and function as a normal person. As for trans people, we’ve realized over time that gender identity is not itself a mental issue, it’s just the physical, social, and psychological effects of not being able to line up with your gender identity is what causes distress. Depression is a symptom of gender dysphoria, it’s not the cause. I don’t want to change to a female body because I’m depressed, I want to change to a female body because I can’t make sense of my body as a male one. I feel uncomfortable and uneasy with myself, and this causes depression. It’s rooted to my core, I have the workings of a female brain and it’s not a chemical imbalance like Schizophrenia, it’s a much more complicated issue and blocking my transition complicates the issue more. The biggest problem with your assertion that we should block trans people because they’re mentally ill is simply that I don’t WANT to be cured. I don’t WANT to enjoy being a male. I want to be cured of my maleness, not of my trans identity. You have to allow me to transition. You also have to allow a schizophrenic who does not want to take medications to not take medications. I am not a criminal, I am not harming anyone by transitioning. Your life is entirely unaffected by my life decisions so you have to allow me to make them because the constitution is a higher power than the bible in America, and the constitution supports my right to decide my own life path, granted that it doesn’t harm the lives of others, which it doesn’t.

                Ghosts are all hallucinations or lies. Sane people can have inexplicable random hallucinations. The brain and it’s perceptions can fail anyone, not just the mentally ill. Some people who claim the existence of ghosts are mentally ill. Others lie. Others have momentary hallucinations that they can’t explain, so they jump to a conclusion (this is called the argument from ignorance fallacy). You can be severely dehydrated, or you can be sleep deprived, or a light can reflect off a surface and dust particles and convince you that you saw a shape that you mistook for a ghost. You’ve presented a false dichotomy, and I reject it.

                As for “what is invisible”, actually, what is invisible DOES exist. Ever heard of ultraviolet radiation? Infrared? These are things beyond the visible light spectrum that are forms of light. They are also not supernatural, and we have explanations for them, and why they are invisible, and we can detect them using technology and use them to our advantage. We’ve defined the concept of ultra-violet, we’ve demonstrated that it exists, so we know it’s a thing.

                In order to make the claim that you saw a ghost, you must first define what a ghost is, and then explain how a ghost could work, and then demonstrate that ghosts do exist, and THEN demonstrate that you saw one. You can hardly do any of these things, so we have no reason to believe that you saw a ghost. I can tell you right now that I stood on my head for 7 hours yesterday. Do you believe me? No, it’s a bogus claim. I would have to demonstrate that I did in order for you to believe me. Logic and reasoning follow that ghosts don’t exist, until someone can demonstrate that they do. Same with God. The ball is in your court – what is a ghost, how do the mechanisms of ghostliness work, and how do you know that they exist?

                • LarryCicero

                  “You can’t speak for God so you can’t tell me to ask God what I need.” No, you don’t have to listen to me or God. You have freewill. Schizophrenics have been institutionalized against their will and for their own good. Is transitioning for your own good? I can’t stop you and I don’t know you, but I can’t believe it could ever be for your own good. I can’t see the wind or hear the warmth from the sun, but they are perceptible none-the-less. I can’t make a ghost or an angel appear to prove to you that they exist. If you want to stand on your head for seven hours I’m not sure what it proves other than poor judgement, but if you say you did, I won’t call you a liar. Same with God, I can’t make him answer to me. I must answer to Him. So I will pray for you.

                  • bassbait

                    Not all schizophrenics are institutionalized. And most of the time, you have to volunteer to be put in an institution. The exception is usually people who are deemed criminally insane and that requires breaking the law and being deemed as such, which is a very difficult process. Jeffrey Dahmer was not deemed criminally insane, and knowing all the things he did, you can see how difficult it is to actually be forced into an institution.

                    Schizophrenics take medication which treats the illness and reduces the symptoms. Trans people transition to reduce the symptoms of gender dysphoria, and this has been proven to work for a great deal of trans people. Not all, but a great deal. So the medical consensus is to allow us to transition. You wouldn’t label having schizophrenia a sin, and you wouldn’t label being trans a sin, because neither of them are things we can help or remove, we can just treat them. Accomodate them. So here’s what you do – if you don’t know what trans people need to function, then don’t step in and say you do, leave it to trans people to figure out. Don’t vote against trans friendly laws, you don’t have to vote for them, just don’t vote against them. Remove yourself from the equation if you don’t know enough to really say.

                    You can pray all you want but let me live my life how I want to, and ultimately you’ll see that I’m better off without God than I would be with him.

                    • LarryCicero

                      “Medical consensus is to allow us to transition.” Hey, why not? After all the inventor of the lobotomy was awarded a Nobel Prize- what could go wrong? The DSM V says its not a mental illness because they don’t want to stigmatize the disorder. If you were born that way, why can’t medicine/science determine this at birth? “Congratulations! You are the proud parents of a boy trapped in a girl’s body.” Can you prove you were born this way, or is it just your belief. Or did it kick in somewhere in your life, like schizophrenia, or other mental illness. And is it probable that the disorder was in fact brought on by stress or distress that it is the trigger and not the symptom? There is no such thing as born”transgendered.” You can’t prove it, can you?

                    • bassbait

                      The lobotomy is a very old practice that was outdated and eventually fell out of practice. Labeling trans a mental illness is also a very old practice that was outdated and eventually fell out of practice. You shot yourself in the foot by comparing the two.

                      As for determining it at birth, sometimes it is, sometimes it develops. But the workings of being trans are there from the start, it’s just that the signs don’t show until a certain point. For some kids it’s as early as 3 or 5 years old. For me I first became aware of it at the age of 13 and the signs dated back to being 7 or younger, I just didn’t recognize them.

                      I was born with blonde hair. My hair is now red. I have never dyed my hair. I have red hair but the signs of having the red hair gene did not show until I was around 3 years old. While I technically didn’t have “red hair” before that, I had the red hair gene so it was inevitable that I would develop red hair, and I did. Can I prove that I was born with red hair? No. Can I prove that I was born with the red hair gene? Yes, my existence as having natural red hair proves that I have the red hair gene.

                      Can I prove that I was born with a female gender identity? No. Can I prove that I was born with the developmental factors that lead me into having a female gender identity when gender concepts and secondary sex characteristics start to form? Yes, I can prove it, my very existence as having a trans identity proves that I was born with the inner workings to bring out those results.

                      Trans is not a chemical imbalance. Schizophrenia is. Schizophrenia is not something you’re born with. You can be born with the chemical imbalance that causes schizophrenia, and you can also develop it later in life. Schizophrenia is a name for a list of symptoms, and it’s caused by a chemical imbalance. You can have high dopamine levels and not be a schizophrenic, so the differentiation has to be made.

                      You don’t cure people who don’t have a debilitating condition unless they ask for it. Lots of trans people, after a sex change or not, don’t have issues relating to gender anymore after transitioning. With each step of the process that I transition, my dysphoria is alleviated more each time. To reverse this and say that I can’t transition anymore is to say that the evidence, the precedent, must be ignored. “How about, let’s try NOT treating someone’s problems?” It’s a disastrous idea. I’m sure you’d love to block HIV medications too.

                    • LarryCicero

                      I liked sipping my dad’s beer when I was three. I still love to drink beer. Maybe I have a genetic predisposition that makes me a high risk for becoming an alcoholic. I was not born an alcoholic nor did I develop into one. My children were born with blonde hair and blue eyes. The doctor said after reaching the age of one year that he did not think the eye color would change. But the eyes and hair turned brown anyway. The experts believe this or that. It does not mean they are right. In spite of what the experts in the community thought, it should have been common sense that drilling a hole in the brain was not good science. We don’t shoot ourselves in the foot for an ingrown toe nail. Common sense tells us it is a mutilation of the body. The scrotum is not a tumor and nowhere have I said you should not be treated. What I call into question is the treatment. You might as well use leeches because transitioning is just as idiotic, but I can’t stop you. Cutting off body parts makes as much sense as removing pieces of the brain. You do not have an infection, you have mental confusion, and much like the narcissist, you have a impediment that prevents you from admitting it- pride. What’s needed is a search for the cure. I get frequent headaches. What is the cause? I’ll take two Advil and it usually goes away but I did not remove the cause, just the effect or the symptom. Truly, I wish you the best and only you I will decide what is best for you. My belief is that the science has yet to catch up with common sense.

                    • You can pray all you want but let me live my life how I want to, and ultimately you’ll see that I’m better off without God than I would be with him.
                      Life is like a call option, it expires.
                      Perhaps you can go be with your own kind-if they’ll have you.

            • Anthony Zarrella

              Ah, transgender, I see. That puts some of your arguments into context. Well, first let me say that I freely admit that the issue of gender dysphoria is one of the more difficult ones (not impossible, but difficult) for a Christian to respond to, simply *because* there so often is (as in your case) a physiological component, not merely a psychological predilection, and that I have sympathy for what must be a very difficult situation. I’ll address that in its order though – I find it simplest to respond to a post (particularly a numbered one) in the order the points were made.

              In response to your preface: I too enjoy argumentation, and I neither assume any malice on your part nor wish you to perceive any from me. Obviously, when I argue, I do *hope* that I can convince you of my position, but I’m not trying to “convert” you either – it’s just that I wouldn’t bother arguing if I didn’t think I was right. I think that debate is one of the best ways to get to the truth – you poke holes in may arguments, forcing me to come up with better, more sound arguments, and I do the same to you.

              1. Other species are not made in God’s image, so their genders (or lack thereof) are not relevant. As far as intersex humans, they are the result of a genetic defect (which, I assume I can count on you to know, is not the same as calling a *person* a “defect”). God didn’t make a mistake, but we live in a fallen world (let’s *not* get into the Problem of Evil right now, only because it’s a whole topic unto itself), and so the natural mechanisms that propagate God’s work have flaws. Asking for the “logic” in God making intersex people is no different than asking “Why does God make babies with cystic fibrosis?” The answer is, it’s not part of His plan – it’s an attack on His plan by the Enemy (and the reason He *allows* it is the Problem of Evil, which, like I said, I’m not trying to dismiss, but we could be here until summer trying to hash it out – for now, just accept that a lot of very smart theologians have wrestled with it for centuries, and that *on the whole* Christians have philosophically-sound justifications for reconciling evil in the world with an all-powerful, loving God).

              In short, the answer is that intersex people *are* a mistake (their intersex nature, I mean, not their existence as people), but not God’s mistake. Trisomy-23 (XXY) is no different than trisomy-21 (Down’s) – both result in people who are intrinsically valuable and loved by God, but whose conditions are genetic aberrations, not part of the normative order of things.

              2. I understand where you’re coming from, but I’d disagree on three points:

              A) “Fear” is an accurate translation and for theological nuance, it’s the best one, but for someone like yourself (I don’t mean anything condescending, I just mean a non-Christian/ex-Christian seeking to understand the Christian perspective, rather than a spiritually-mature Christian seeking a nuanced knowledge of a faith you already mostly understand), a more useful translation of “fear of God” is *awe*. In other words, the same “fear” you would have in the face of the nuclear heart of a star, or the vastness of the universe – the knowledge that God is infinitely greater and more powerful than you can imagine, and is not something (someone) to be taken lightly.

              To put it another way, imagine you have a friend who’s a 300-lb. Navy SEAL with over 100 confirmed kills. He might be the *nicest* guy you’ve *ever* met – adopts orphans and puppies, gives half his income to charity, drops everything at a moment’s notice to do you a favor, “lends” you money and refuses to let you pay it back, smiles at everyone (with a big, guileless grin), and falls all over himself apologizing if he so much as bumps into you by accident – but you’d still be an idiot not to be wet-your-pants terrified of the idea of making him angry.

              So, the “fear” we should have of God is a respect for His unimaginable power, *not* a sense of dread that He might do something awful at a moment’s notice. We should fear Him, not live in fear of Him, because He is mighty, but not capricious.

              B) As I mentioned recently, God doesn’t threaten us with Hell. Hell is not some punishment that God metes out if we don’t do as He says. It is a choice that He gives us. We can *choose* to unite ourselves to Him, or we can *choose* to reject Him – and Hell is (at its core) nothing more than life wholly without God’s grace. All the fire and brimstone descriptions are (fundamentally) just a way to try to convey that state in visceral terms.

              Also, He doesn’t want us to “beg forgiveness” because He is some sort of sadist who likes to see us grovel. Rather, it is an *intrinsic* aspect of forgiveness that it cannot be *accepted* without first sincerely accepting that there is something you need to be forgiven *for*. God will *give* forgiveness for free – but it does us no good if we don’t then accept it. And we all need forgiveness, because none of us is perfect – and God is the one Person in all existence who can non-hypocritically demand perfection (and, let me be clear, it’s not that He *could* accept less than perfection as His standard, but *chooses* to hold us to an impossible standard so that we need forgiveness – it’s that if the “prize” is to be joined unto Him, then perfection is the only *possible* standard).

              He *could*, I suppose, *force* forgiveness and the resulting renewal on us with or without our acceptance, but that wouldn’t leave us as freely-choosing agents – we’d be nothing more than automata.

              C) While I sympathize with the psychological stress you suffered as a Christian, as I’ll address further down, Christianity never told you that who you are is evil. An individual Christian (or more than one) may have told you that, but they were wrong. Christianity teaches that *no one* is evil at their core – we are all *flawed*; we all *sin*; but at our core, we are all Children of God, and loved unconditionally. And you’re right – nothing is ever a sin if you are incapable of changing it (more on that later).

              3. OK, so I’m going to present my answer to this bluntly, not out of a lack of compassion, but because you seem like the kind of person who would prefer for me to state my arguments succinctly rather than beat around the bush trying not to offend.

              I think that you suffer from two distinct maladies: the first is the neurochemical imbalance that causes depression and physiological harm in the absence of additional estrogen, and the second is the psychological belief that you are female rather than male. Neither is your fault, and neither should make you feel guilty, ashamed, sinful, or condemned. However, both are disorders that should be treated (and eliminated if possible, like any other disorder).

              As to the first, *of course* you should receive treatment to alleviate the serious consequences of your neurochemical imbalance, and if synthetic estrogen is the only viable treatment, then *of course* you should take it. If development of feminine secondary sexual characteristics is a side-effect, so be it (there’s a principle dating back at least to St. Thomas Aquinas called the Principle of Double-Effect that is relevant here).

              As to the second, even if your neurochemical imbalance predisposes you to “feel” female, and even if the side effects of treating it make you appear more female, that doesn’t make you female. Like you alluded to, God doesn’t make mistakes. Genetics *do* make mistakes, but Occam’s Razor would suggest that the “mistake” is your female brain chemistry, not your male entire-rest-of-the-body. Therefore, a man who thinks he’s a woman should be treated (and I mean “treated” in a medical sense, not a social sense) the same as a man who thinks he’s a tree, or thinks he’s Napoleon Bonaparte – that is, when one’s perceptions of oneself do not match observable reality, the baseline assumption is that the problem is with the perceptions, not with reality.

              I’m sorry if that sounds harsh – like I said, I felt clarity was more helpful than timid circumlocutions for the sake of sensitivity. In case it wasn’t clear, I was *not* trying to say that you should be “treated” *socially* as though you were insane on the same level as a person who thinks he’s Napoleon – only that the “treatment” *psychiatrically* should be parallel. Perhaps a better example is “alien limb” sufferers – they *know* in their bones that their right arm (or whatever) is not “supposed” to be there – that it’s a mistake that should be rectified by amputation – but medical ethics *forbid* any doctor from amputating a healthy limb, and instead insist that the patient be referred for psychiatric treatment with the goal of helping him to realize that the limb is a natural part of him.
              So, no – it is *not* a sin to be transgendered, it is (as you say) a birth defect. We just disagree as to whether the defect is in your body or your brain. The only sin is deliberately altering your body (beyond what is a necessary side effect of the remediation of the neurochemical imbalance) to appear as a gender you are not, and to insist on living that way (and even that may not be morally culpable as sin if it is a result of neurological factors causing psychological abnormalities, or if it’s a result of uncritically following the recommendations of medical “experts” without realizing they were flawed).

              Also, I should reiterate – there is nothing shameful or sinful about having a defect, whether physical or mental, and by asserting that you have a defect of the brain, I do not intend to imply that you are in any way less worthy of respect, rights, or the love of God and neighbor.

              4. First, your friend’s mom sounds like a real piece of work, but she’s a sample size of one – that gives you no basis for even the loosest of inferences about narcissistic tendencies in Christians in general (a single example can *disprove* a *universal* claim – like if I said, “No Christian is a narcissist” – but cannot *prove* such a claim). Second, you’re probably right – my attempt to delineate only limited categories of atheists was insufficiently rigorous both in taxonomy and supporting evidence and therefore an intellectual error.

              In general, though, loving oneself (as a Child of God) is not at all inconsistent with believing oneself to be a sinner, or with admitting one’s faults. I can only speak for myself, but I have no self-loathing and am generally very happy, and yet I freely admit I am a sinner. The key is not that I am a sinner, but that I am a sinner who can be saved (note: “can be” not “will be” – the latter attitude, the *certainty* of salvation, can definitely lead to the impression that one can do no wrong and is probably responsible for many of the “narcissistic” Christians you may have met – the Catholic Church regards that attitude as a very serious sin in and of itself).

              As to who shuts whom down, I can’t speak for the other Christians in your life, but I hope it’s sufficiently clear that *I* have no fear of having my beliefs questioned. Also, I can’t speak for other denominations, but in Catholicism, doubt is not, in and of itself, condemned (“doubt” in the passive sense of “not being sure of one’s beliefs” at least – in some cases active and deliberate skepticism can be sinful). Blind faith is certainly *a* kind of faith that we value, but it’s not the only type we consider worthy, nor even something for which most people should strive – when I was a kid, it was good that I believed certain doctrines *just because* my priest said so, but as an adult, it’s better if I can independently understand why I believe (and the Church encourages that – some of our greatest Saints are also the most intellectual: Aquinas, Augustine, Jerome, etc.).

              As to God being an incoherent concept, if by that you mean some objection we haven’t already discussed, then please elaborate.

              As to the “ask us rather than telling us” piece, in general that is good advice, but it presupposes that you know better than I do – which, when it comes to your *practical* needs, is self-evident, but when it comes to spiritual needs, it is far from being so. There are many people I trust to know my spiritual needs better than I do.
              Anyway, thanks for the discussion (and you can continue it or end it anytime at your option, of course), and I hope I’ve made myself understood in a way that is clear and also successfully communicates Christian charity.

        • The absence of guilt is the most horrendous damage visited on mankind.

          Every tyrant, and every architect of the latest administrative superstate acts remarkably free from guilt. The absence of guilt is what fuels the gulag.

    • tanyahe

      what the heck are you talking about- ??

  • Dr. Dennis Bonnette

    I have recently published a video in which I confirm the thesis of the fine article, but in a radically different way. Following their own “metaphysics of materialism,” atheistic materialists, such as Richard Dawkins, really ought not to have substantial existence in any ontological sense. See this video: “Answers to Atheistic Materialism — Does Richard Dawkins exist?” at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rVCnzq2yTCg

    • papagan

      http s://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rVCnzq2yTCg

  • Veritas

    The atheist does believe in a god: himself. The genius of faith is it makes me subject to none of these “I AM God” mortals, but to the one true I AM.

  • James Scott

    Atheists are couch potatoes and the pope is a poopie head

    • James Scott is a poopie head and couch potato

  • DoubterInChief

    That was a very interesting insight to the innate human tendency to seek purpose and design in what is supposed to be a designless world. Of course just because we might feel God exists as an impulse of irrationality doesn’t point to exterior evidence of the existence of God, merely it suggests that somewhere in our core, perhaps our DNA, that we evolved to view the world with a sense of purpose. Moreover there can exist a rational belief that disagrees with innate desire: for instance, the human desire for sexual gratification speaks to us through every fibre of our being, yet we can rationally reject pornography as an objectification of human sexuality – even if under pressure we might be drawn to it. So while I applaud the research and structure of the article, I ultimately disagree with your conclusion. Atheists can exist – even if they have an impulse to God – because reason can overcome impulses to dictate belief. So the question remains: “is there reasonable evidence to rationally believe in a supreme being?” And that is a discussion for a separate article.

    • There is much more to faith than “an impulse of irrationality” grown into a habit. It is better thought of, speaking from my own experience, as unexpectedly seeing more than one ever saw before. I would think that to a man born blind, the notion of light and all that light subsequently reveals must be totally foreign – perhaps even “irrational” within his own sphere of experience and reasoning.

      So also faith is a different way of seeing, experiencing and knowing. It is beyond the horizon to one without faith – as if mere fantasy, or pretense, mere fiction. To one without the eyes of faith, it appears irrational and groundless. Faith is in fact a supernatural thing – belonging to “dimensions” so to speak beyond the three of natural experience. Faith is like a supernatural light that illuminates and reveals supernatural matters and beings. Faith “is” the evidence for the supernatural (a separate matter from the evidences in nature and reason for the existence of God), and is pointed to as such by the writer to the Hebrews:

      “Faith is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen.” (NAB, Heb 11:1)

      Hope – a beautiful gift and a promise – is “realized” (made conceptually real) by faith – which provides “evidence” to reason for things otherwise hidden from it.

      Seek faith! It can be found, and received, “through hearing, and hearing of the Word of God.” The human mind and heart seek truth – and rejoice with delight in hearing it.

  • Pat Phillips

    If someone would just invent a God-o-scope we could see god, settle this nonsense and go home. Why does it always come down to a grifter’s approach with a quote by George Michael; “You gotta have faith…”? Talk is cheap.

    • ColdStanding

      God, Jesus Christ that is, told us how to see Him. It is right there in the Holy Gospel according to St. Matthew, chapter 25 the parable of the Sheep and Goats.

      See you in Church on Sunday. Cheers!

      • Panikos

        As others have pointed out, Harry Potter is right there in a book too.

        You know the bible is true because the bible tells you so? Would you apply that reasoning when you go to buy a car?

        • ColdStanding

          I only know of any number of historical figures from books only. Are they fake too? No. All Catholics know that what people now know as the Holy Bible was put together by the Church from an array of available documents selecting those that were in accord with the Apostolic faith which Jesus Christ commanded be preached to all nations.

          Holy Mother Church came before the Holy Bible.

          Besides, that isn’t a very good counter to the point I was making to Mr. Phillips. He wanted a way to see God, believing that there was no way and I showed him that there is, in fact, a way to see God, Our eternal King Jesus Christ, which He gave to us to overcome the very objection presented by Mr. Phillips.

          The case for the Catholic faith is not made based upon the Holy Bible alone.

        • Actually the Bible says put all things to the test.

          • Panikos

            And you put it to the test by simply believing in it?

            • No do you?

              • Panikos

                There is no way to test the bible is there.
                If we point out contradictions people say “ah it didn’t mean that. My priest explained to me that it meant this”.

                We tested prayer and it didn’t make any difference and religious people said “ha! that’s because god doesn’t like you putting things to the test!”.

                Even though it’s just been said that the bible tells you to test it?

        • SnowCherryBlossoms

          The Word of God is Jesus Christ, He is God. The written word is put together and called ‘Bible’ which means book. It’s a Book with the words of the Living Word of God written in it. Don’t be so ridiculous. We are Catholic, not Protestant.

          • Panikos

            And you know the bible is the word of god because the bible tells you so.

            Don’t you get the joke that’s been played on you?

            • SnowCherryBlossoms

              It’s you who has made a ‘Joke’ of Christ and His commands, words and Church. Catholics do not rely solely on the Bible, we also reply on Oral Tradition and the teaching authority of the “Magisterium” of the Catholic Church, given directly to the Church by Christ Himself to Peter, the first Pope and on down to now. But I’m certain you already know this as most ‘online’ atheists do, due to the fact they regularly attack Catholics and in the process learn the Truth 🙂

              • Panikos

                “They regularly attack Catholics”

                Catholics often say that as though we’re mostly against them, but think about it. From my position ALL religions are making the same mistake regarding where they are getting their information from. Either it’s their holy book, or what some guy says their holy book means.

                I don’t object to you believing what you want, but I feel a duty to speak up when people talk about atheists and what we are. OR if people try and impose their belief on me.

                In the UK that’s mostly the CofE rather than Catholics and increasingly Islam.

                • SnowCherryBlossoms

                  Yes, I know..it’s more than a little scary with Islam taking over…the end result of that is not going to be good.

  • resident450

    If you claim the existence of something, then you should
    defend its existence with objective proof. Otherwise, there is no reason to
    listen to you. The burden of proof therefore lies on religion.

  • Guest

    Interesting, I’d like to see the source for his Hutson anecdote.. not sure why I should just accept that at face value. Accepting it as true for the sake of argument (at least the one example he gave), I can actually appreciate the apprehension since I would be more concerned about asking someone else (my parents) to accept the penalty rather than myself. Since I can’t naturally say this in front of everyone in person on here I’ll do it like this:

    “Dear god, if you actually exist (I don’t believe so), I entreat you to strike me down tomorrow publicly as an example to all the heathen atheists to change from their wicked ways and convert to worshiping you. All I ask is that I alone bear the punishment for the arrogance of this statement and that others are afforded the opportunity for salvation”

    Not that making that statement out loud makes any difference since god supposedly what’s in every person’s heart. I call myself an atheist because I lack a belief in a god, not that I absolutely believe no god exists (I guess that’d be a-deist or anti-deist?) For that reason I would classify myself as an agnostic atheist; I lack any knowledge of any gods therefore I don’t believe in any gods. For the record I grew up christian in a financially secure family with little hardship; I suffered no tragedy that pushed me away from faith I also don’t drink, smoke, or have a criminal record; I didn’t abandon my faith so that I could sin.

    Hopefully you can at least accept that even though I don’t fit into your perfect little stereotypical atheist box and I can explain why I am an atheist. Basically I looked at the Hubble telescope images and realized how amazing this universe is, around 100 billion galaxies each with around 100 billion stars. In comparison, earth is just one planet around one star on the edge of one galaxy… I can’t accept the earth is some privileged place. Also I hold a reverence for all life, not just human life; I don’t think we have the right to enforce our will on all other creatures and I abhor the idea of mistreating any animal, including humans. Also we certainly have absolutely no dominion over microrganisms and are at their mercy. Either fighting off pathogens, or depending on them for survival (gut flora and our microbiome), as well as the fact that we ourselves represent trillions of individual cells working together in harmony. In other words, I see humanity as a part of the universe, not stewards of it, and certainly not masters of it.

    I find the notion of your claim of confirmation bias to be laughable and hypocritical saying C.S. Lewis had to throw out all of his confirmation bias when he converted but refusing to acknowledge your own. Answering that question under time pressure is dishonest when you don’t ask to clarify “so you believe the purpose of the trees is to make oxygen for the animals or that trees happen to produce oxygen which the animals are able to breath”. A subtle difference but what you suggest can be extended to humans: “Mankind provides food for animals to eat, material for fungi to degrade, and an environments for microorganisms to inhabit”. All of those events are quite true, but when stated that way are useless with respect to the natural world and “purpose” or “intention”. Also you believe in god and that god is everywhere and is the truth, yet you seem to ignore the fact of your own confirmation bias? I care about the truth and I am perfectly open to the existence of a god, providing sufficient evidence that one does exist; until then I choose to remain receptive to new information.

    Maybe atheists are so “cranky and belligerent” because the religious are arrogant and condescending. That you claim that we humans are hardwired to be theistic, implying that atheists are deviants or broken. When you hypocritically accuse skeptics of being closed-minded just because we don’t see the world the exact same way you do and (believe it or not – my bet being on the latter) being open to new information. We aren’t closed minded because we don’t accept the following as evidence:

    -“The Bible said so” – why not the Koran or the Torah then. Why not Harry Potter?

    -“Beauty/harmony of nature” – The natural world implies absolutely nothing about the existence of the supernatural

    -“Can’t prove god doesn’t exist” – I don’t have to, I’m not claiming god doesn’t either.
    Positive claims require evidence, it isn’t the public’s job to prove that a new drug cannot be dangerous before it is released. Also an falsifiable argument is a poor argument not a good one.

    -“Fine tuning” – Of course the universe appears fine-tuned for our kind of life, we live in it; It would be more shocking if we were living in a universe tuned poorly for our existence. Life is tenacious, just look at extremophiles… if things were different life would different.

    -“Morality” – Humans have been around for tens of thousands of years, if needed a god to tell us not to kill, etc; we wouldn’t have survived to the rise of monotheism.

    -“Anti-evolution or other anti-science stuff” – If you can’t trust the scientific method then you should probably throw away your iphone, computer, car, electricity, and modern appliances because they are a direct result that has come for our understanding of the world through science. Dismissing one area just because you don’t like the conclusions is childish. Furthermore, if evolution doesn’t happen (I’ve done it in the lab I can promise it happens) then I welcome another explanation for cancer and MDROs which arise from mutations that lead to faster reproduction.

    Can’t think of more at the moment but if you feel like challenging me with something different be my guest, just call me an asshole atheist for challenging your beliefs and I will return that favor. Disclaimer: none of this was intended as an attack on any religion (hopefully I don’t make any) but not believing the same way as you isn’t attacking you.

    • guest

      er don’t call me an asshole atheist just because I challenge your beliefs, I won’t call anyone an asshole if they have an honest inquiry about mine (or challenge).

      • An authentic challenge is issued by an objective person with an open mind, a skeptic. You are attempting to challenge beliefs, but to ridicule (as a proxy for refutation) and you are a cynic, not a skeptic.

        • Guest

          What profantiy? Please point out any swearing I have in there if you intend to claim that. You accuse me of being closed minded without any evidence; back it up even if it is just pointing at a specific paragraph and saying why you think that way. Notice what I did, I didn’t ridicule anyone or anything, I criticized what the author said but rather than calling the author stupid or fallacious I said “I disagree with this statement and here is why”. Why don’t you extend the same courtesy.

          • Profane:
            5. common or vulgar.
            Your anal reference was vulgar.

    • Well that was tedious. How about trying for compelling, coherent and concise.
      That’s the second time an atheist has felt the need to use profanity tonight. Interesting.

      • Guest

        Oh you mean that response that took all of 10 minutes to type? I’m accustomed to writing documents several thousand words long so forgive me if a writing a couple of 3 sentence paragraphs is trivial. Also if you read it kindly point out where i swore instead of just accusing me of it.

        • tanyahe

          wow talk about calling the kettle black?
          “Maybe atheists are so “cranky and belligerent” because the religious are arrogant and condescending. That you claim that we humans are hardwired to be theistic, implying that atheists are deviants or broken. When you hypocritically accuse skeptics of being closed-minded just because we don’t see the world the exact same way you do and (believe it or not – my bet being on the latter) being open to new information. We aren’t closed minded because we don’t accept the following as evidence:” sprinkled with a little too much snarky-ness

          • Guest

            Did I say that atheists cannot be arrogant or condescending? Does saying that it’s hypocritical to call atheists closed-minded indicate that atheists cannot be closed-minded? Did I say that the religious aren’t open to new information? I criticize what the author said because it unfairly places all of the blame on atheists.

            Also, I find satire a more acceptable form of criticism than condemning a person as immoral for their lack of faith and condemning them to eternal suffering.

            • tanyahe

              so what are you really trying to say?

              • Guest

                That bit in particular was just expressing human frustration at the rejection I have faced from some people of religious persuasion merely on the basis of my lack of faith and without further consideration. What I wanted to convey is that atheists aren’t angry for no reason, many have had to deal with rejection (plenty from even their own families) as well as pressure to keep in line and keep their mouth shut about religious matters or else face consequences. That kind of treatment build up resentment which hearing something to the effect of “you are amoral scum” or “atheists don’t even exist” or “you just want to sin” is insulting and only makes things worse. Also, by the way, most Atheists are concerned that if they don’t speak up, the religious majority will marginalize them and take away their rights; atheists are actually barred from holding political office in some states.

                Also my frustration with people boxing entire groups based on their worst members (Christians with Crusades or WBC), (Atheists with Stalin, etc), (Muslims with ISIS); people are complex individuals and it’s unfair to do so. I’m sick of the divisiveness caused by pigeonholing large populations on the basis of religion (as if all Atheists are petulant rebellious children or the religious are all uneducated and closed-minded). Instead of seeing articles like this, taking a shot at one group or another (atheists are plenty guilty of this too), it would be nice if moderates interested in equal rights for all would unite against extremists who want total control.

                • tanyahe

                  Well guest, i think you are right about wanting to be respected. I apologize for anyone who name calls, myself included. You have your own way of reasoning, and when you visit Catholic sites you have to be bold enough to take the criticisms. Christians should not make you feel inferior, because you are not. But Christians who make arguments with you want you to see the light, so to speak. Please be at peace, but Catholics who are serious have a command from the Lord to go out and preach the gospel to the ends of the earth. It has nothing to do with being extreme wanting to take control of the world. It’s more of a matter of wanting everyone to reach heaven and therefore it is a matter of love. By the way, the crusaders were not the worst Christians, I want to be one:)

        • “I’m accustomed to writing documents several thousand words long ”
          So am I, but I know when it’s appropriate and when it’s not.

          • Guest

            Good, you shouldn’t just believe what I say at face value; I don’t expect you to or condemn you for not doing so. I have no reason to accept what anyone says about religion or god at face value either.

            As for the profanity, I’m sorry you find that word so offensive even when is used as a colloquialism for “jerk” rather than the actual orifice. Also when using it in a hypothetical situation regarding myself rather than to ascribe it to another person.

            • I’m also a reviewer. Nobody is asking you to accept anything other than your need to express yourself here.

              • Guest

                Thank you, that is quite respectful; I hope you didn’t find most of the content too offensive, I was trying (perhaps not well) to avoid insulting the actual people who are religious which is why I don’t associate myself with public atheist groups. My thoughts on the matter are to express criticism with an idea or action without degrading the person (SnowCherry). I work in an environment in which criticism is expected/encouraged as a means to refine and improve what is being criticized, which is why I asked what you meant by profanity; so that it could be discussed openly and honestly. I don’t find criticism confrontational, just character insults. I grew up in a rural area of the southern US so the cynicism you commented on comes from antagonism of those who go against the grain and the resulting pressure to either conform or to just keep quiet and not rock the boat for everyone else. I commented because I found many points in the article to be belittling and divisive when all I want is equal respect (I would fight just as hard for Christians to not be forced into living under Sharia Law). Sadly, I have found that being quiet and keeping your head down may keep things peaceful but stereotypes persist when people don’t have the courage to stand up and discuss them openly.

    • SnowCherryBlossoms

      You are not an atheist, you are a spoiled brat who doesn’t want to follow God’s rules. Grow up.

      • Guest

        Lol, whatever.

  • Panikos

    People who believe atheists don’t exist, don’t really exist.

    The claim that we don’t is just a way of dealing with the uneasiness which our existence causes amongst religious people.

    • ColdStanding

      And who can blame us? We have a long experience of being put to the sword by those deluded persons that think we are useless meat sacks.

      • haha

        You mean like the church having a history of putting non-christians to death by burning at the stake? But hey they’re just heritics and burning them for your lord is righteous right?

        • ColdStanding

          Well, that didn’t take very long. Tu quoque. Look it up.

        • I’ll see your stake burnings (actually done by civil authorities) and raise you a few tens of millions slaughtered by the atheistic superstates, plus the concentration camps and gulags.

          • haha

            Try again, the Nazis were roman catholic, look up “gott mit uns belt buckles”. Kudos for you though for actually realizing that actions of silencing dissidents has nothing to with religious beliefs even if you don’t have the decency to extend that courtesy the atheistic regimes. It’s all about control.

            • Veritas

              Atheists have developed their own history books.

              For that matter, so have all secularists. They rarely jibe with the truth. They slant against Roman Catholicism. Jesus warned us.

              Dig deep. Do the research.

              • Panikos

                Look up secularist too. Lots of Christians are also secularists.

                • Veritas

                  Please elaborate on your reply. Thank you.

                  • Panikos

                    People who are Secularist don’t have to be anti-religion. It just means they don’t think the government should be involved in who has what religion and how they worship.

                    So lots of Secularists are Catholics, Jews. Protestants, Hindus and Muslims.

            • Whose silencing you

            • tanyahe

              the so called Nazis you are talking about were in fact apostates and blasphemers. The Nazis that were RC in every sense of the word often fled, got shot, moved into concentration camps and gave their lives for Jesus Christ.

      • Panikos

        That’s almost funny. Most religious people down through the ages were killed by a rival religion. You don’t really get atheists saying “let’s kill all the Catholics” because we don’t really see any difference between Catholic, Protestant or Hindu.

        I expect someone else will talk about the Inquisition and the burning of unbelievers, heathens, witches etc.

        But I think the uneasiness is caused by the fact that we prosper even though god promised you’d get all the perks.

        • ColdStanding

          For one that claims to have read the bible you show remarkable ignorance of what it teaches. Given that, it comes as no surprise that you lack understanding of the historical record and are glib in your reasoning. For those that think they are someone special, superior to others even, because they have some material comforts, the parable of Lazarus and the rich man suffices to dispel such notions. This life is a vale of tears, suffering, and disillusionment. The honors, riches and glories of man are passing and do not satisfy.

          I genuinely have pity on your ignorance. You are rejecting a storehouse of the most fantastic treasures in favor of the few pennies you have in your pocket.

          God have mercy!

        • somebigguy

          Like the other atheists posting here, your understanding of both history and Christianity is laughably poor.

          For one, atheists have proven to be history’s great butchers, having killed many times more people than any inter-religious fighting ever has. In the 20th century alone, Hitler caused a war that slaughtered some 50 to 60 million. Stalin killed some 20 million, Mao some 70 million.

          The Inquisition was a political action; those behind it used religion as an excuse… not unlike atheists, who excuse abortion and euthanasia as a humanitarian effort to elevate suffering.

          Perhaps most ridiculous– and certainly amusing to Catholics– is your ignorance of what God promises those who love Him; this is pervasive among your ilk, who presume to know so much. God promised anything but “perks” in this life to His followers; indeed, He promised nothing but suffering, such as the persecutions, wars and pogroms mentioned above. It also includes more immediate actions, such as the Obama administration’s violation of the free exercise clause and the mainstream media’s never-ending attacks on Catholic teaching. And, of course, it includes the display of contempt we’re accustomed to receiving every day, like your posts here.

    • SnowCherryBlossoms

      People who claim to be atheists do not threaten those of us who have a relationship with God- If God is for us who can be against us? God is all powerful and human beings that defy him have no power at all. You have only yourself and that doesn’t mean anything since you can’t be your own God. You are a creature, created by God.

  • tanyahe

    “self-identified nonbelievers began to sweat when reading aloud sentences asking God to do terrible things (‘I dare God to make my parents drown’).” Okay atheists, are you okay to ask God to curse or damn someone or something? That would the test whether you believe or not. I’m sure you wouldn’t utter such things because in your souls you know that it is wrong, and why is it wrong? again in your deepest being you know it is an offense against others and against the God who allowed you to come into being. You are all here to help believers believe more. thanks

  • Whatever, but atheists are couch potatoes and the pope is a poopie head

    • Veritas

      I think JP2 and Benedict XVI were brilliant. And I haven’t even mentioned all the rest.

      Now that I’ve said that, I’ll retire to my couch, read The Catechism, and then pray the Rosary:)

  • Powerglide

    Utter nonsense. It is simply false, a LIE to say that atheists somehow secretly believe in God. You have no evidence, and it is utterly belied by my experience and that of the atheists I know. Not to mention that it’s condescending crap.

    • tanyahe

      who’s looking down on who? Holier than thou doesn’t suit atheists.

      • Powerglide

        You’re right. Asking for simple respect from Christians is obviously asking for too much.

        • tanyahe

          not really, if you showed some respect you’d be pleasantly surprised.

        • somebigguy

          Such hypocrisy, Mr. Glide. Examine your slanderous rhetoric.

    • somebigguy

      Come now, Mr. Glide. Everyone has a god. The atheist simply replaces the true God with himself. No mystery there.

      • M. Solange O’Brien

        Nope. Not everybody has a god.

        Define God, and I’ll show you how wrong you are.

        • LarryCicero

          God is whatever you place at the apex of your values hierarchy.

          • somebigguy

            That O’Brien cannot see this simple truth is not surprising. All atheists suffer impaired vision.

            • LarryCicero

              And hearing. Crickets.

  • Powerglide

    Christians can’t stand the existence of atheists — their own faith is so weak and shaky that they have to insist that everyone agree with them. How childish.

    • Just Christians? Telling.
      Atheists can’t stand the existence of Christians — their own faith is so weak and shaky that they have to insist that everyone agree with them. How infantile.

    • tanyahe

      That’s ridiculous, and no one is making anyone agree with anyone. We are free is that not so? But atheists do deny the existence of God, and in that case how can you deny something if it doesn’t exist? Just wondering.

    • Morgan

      Christians ‘stand’ the existence of atheists very well – it was only 1800 years ago that Christians were killed, not for being Christians, but for being atheists.

    • Kahryl

      Not all christians are like this, it just seems that way because the most insecure tend to be the loudest 🙂

    • somebigguy

      Tell that to the parents of children who were burned at the stake by ISIS because they refused to deny Christ.

      Indeed, your vitriol suggests it is your atheism that’s shaky.

    • SnowBlossoms

      That’s not a very fair statement, is it? I have talked with many so-called Atheists and they differ from one another as much as Christians do. Some are very respectful and others are rude and immature, I’ve seen the same in religious people. I have no issues concerning atheists as long as they don’t ‘attack’ our Faith- discussing it or disagreeing is fine as long people can be respectful and mature. We all have free will and can choose for ourselves what we will believe in or not believe in. God allows this.

  • atheist

    not true … atheists don’t hate “god” because they don’t believe in any god or gods

  • atheist

    i can’t believe the amount of crap stated in these comments … this is why i’m fed up with the religious … they are all unreasonable or irrational

  • Guest

    Religious people accuse atheists of being angry or militant because we refuse to show deference to their daft beliefs.

    We challenge their silliness with calm reason and evidence and they don’t like it so they throw their rattles out of the pram and get all passive aggressive on us

    • somebigguy

      Calm reason? Oh, so that explains the bloodshed and mayhem of the Enlightenment, National Socialism, Stalinism, the Cultural Revolution and other hallmarks of atheism.

      Nothing passive aggressive there.

      • M. Solange O’Brien

        The enlightenment’s bloodshed was in the form of RELIGIOUS wars; Hitler was a Catholic and the National Socialists encouraged religion; Stalin never killed anyone in the name of atheism; etc. your ignorance of history is profound. You might read up on the French Wars of religion, the Albigensian crusade, and the Thirty Years war, for starters.

        “there was only ever one Christian – and they nailed him to a tree.”

        • somebigguy

          Sure. I’m ignorant of history… despite my degree in history and my Ivy League education.

          How else would I expect you to reply?

          The Enlightenment was largely about crushing the Church and eliminating the Catholic faith. And only a revisionist would ignore the fact that Hitler never practiced the faith, but persecuted the faithful in a multitude of ways, including the imprisonment and slaughter of thousands of priests and nuns and millions of laymen.

          But I waste time; if I have to recount History 101, I know I’m dealing with a “denier.”

        • Veritas

          You indicate an attraction to Jesus and you hinted at wishing to study Catholicism, but I could be wrong. My question is this:
          Who nailed Jesus to a tree? Do not answer with Romans or Jews. Perhaps a better question would be “Why was it done?” Are “they” still nailing him to a tree today?

        • tanyahe

          The enlightened era was a war against religion.(Catholics were the main target). Hitler was baptized a catholic, but was a heretic and apostate (which is worst than an atheist). National socialist never have encouraged religion and they always promote the state as a god- taking care of the material needs and swaying the masses of weak lukewarm people into thinking that religion is evil. (that’s not difficult is your faith is weak and it isn’t hard to go from the middle ground and sink to the bottom.) I don’t know who told you there was only one Christian and they nailed Him to a tree, but I know that the 1st pope was nailed to a tree, and saint Paul beheaded, and all the 1st apostles we martyred except Saint John the beloved. You need to read more about Christian history, because the crucifixions continue to this day. It’ll be the blood of the martyrs that will bring about the conversion of many, my hope is that for you.

  • James Scott

    As i’ve said many times before, the pope is a poopie head and atheists are couch potatoes!

  • Kahryl

    Yes, if you don’t give someone time to think, they’re more likely to say silly, superstitious things. Why did you need a study to figure that out?

    Everyone is susceptible to “magical emotions”. Whether that turns into magical THINKING or not depends on intellectual integrity.

  • Ruth Rocker

    My, my, this topic certainly brought the trolls out from under their respective bridges. Go back, little trolls, before you get burned up in the light

  • what the fuck

    this might be the dumbest thing i’ve ever read

  • Tony

    PONTICOLAE NON PASCENDI. Bridge-dwellers are not to be fed. Don’t feed the trolls.

    • SnowCherryBlossoms

      As long they talk in a civil manner and remain respectful, what is wrong with engaging them?

      • ColdStanding

        A component of the over-all teaching program of Christian virtue advises very strongly against spending time with scoffers and the tongue-wagging set. There are a number of reasons for this. Most importantly, until you get to the point in your submission to God’s grace that you can easily recognize the assault of the devils, arguing can be an occasion of sin. The memories and hurt feels are catnip for our common enemy because he can not work upon you unless there be a preexisting memory for him to, as it were, press upon. I have found these exchanges to be a significant hindrance to prayer.

        Christians need to live again the idea of scorning the world and contempt for human approval.

        • SnowCherryBlossoms

          Are you the author of this blog?

          • ColdStanding

            No. Why do you ask?

            • SnowCherryBlossoms

              Because sometimes the authors or moderators intervene if they feel things are getting out of control- and everyone has a different opinion on that..so I was just asking.

              • ColdStanding

                It isn’t me, but there is some brave soul, or group of them, that actually reads every comment. They step in rarely. I find them to be judicious.

                The authors of the original posts often comment, but not always as some of these are reprinted from other publications.

                • SnowCherryBlossoms

                  I draw the line at insults…and obstinance. If a person is asking questions and responding reasonably, I don’t see this as a threat or a waste of time- to a point. If it goes on and on, it’s pointless. Some people are sincerely seeking the Truth, others are not. To lump them all together would also play into Satan’s hands. There is a line to be drawn though, and on that I agree with you.

  • strickerm

    I’ve read all kinds of comments from atheists who seem to be trolling. Atheists simply believe that everything is just a coincidence, that at one moment there was nothing and then from nothing the universe magically created itself. This, of course, is impossible because nothing can be nothing and create itself into something.

    Atheists fail to ask the question, “What if God does exist?” They have no problem saying that God doesn’t exist, and that our lives are merely a giant coincidence, but they cannot even fathom the possibility that God does exist, while believers do at times have doubts but usually remain believers when understanding that God does have a plan for us. So, is it better to die an atheist and God exists or a believer and God doesn’t exist?

    Which now begs the question, why would atheists have a desire to post on this site? Seems either ironic or backwards or dark. Atheism is the handy-work of satan himself. Good luck with that!

  • LadyFreeBird<God'sNotDead

    I say this to the Atheist who have and will come to this site for whatever reason . We as Christians are not at war with you . we are at war with the spirit that is in you .
    May God’s Will for your Deliverance and your Salvation . Be done here on Earth as His Will is done in Heaven . In Jesus Name . God’s Will be done in your life . Not my will not your will . But the Will of God be done . Amen .

    • goodold_lucifer

      But the Will of God be done .

      That has never been a problem.

      At least, not from God’s standpoint — though there may be people who are dissatisfied with the process and how it works out. Those people should stay out of the way, and leave it entirely up to God. (And if you think God isn’t doing it right, you should take it up with God — without ever bothering other people about it.)

      • LadyFreeBird<God'sNotDead

        I know one thing for sure no matter what in the end God wins ! <

        • goodold_lucifer

          … no matter what in the end God wins !

          That is the correct attitude for theists to have. They should regard God as omnipotent and omniscient, and thus in no need whatsoever of human assistance — or human legislation. If you believe God can do it all, then you should just back off and let Him do it!

          • LadyFreeBird<God'sNotDead

            The Bible still tells us to reach others . So we try . Most Reject and that fine . God gave us Free will . We are free to choose . No one not even (God) can take that away from us .

            • goodold_lucifer

              The Bible still tells us to reach others .

              So the Bible doesn’t have that much faith in God to do the job, eh. I suspected it wasn’t such a trustworthy book.

              We are free to choose . No one not even (God) can take that away from us

              That is an interesting attitude. What is the power that limits God in that way? Why couldn’t God do whatever He wanted to do?

    • Guest

      This is a Christians true colors 😛

      • LadyFreeBird<God'sNotDead

        I know who you are .

      • LadyFreeBird<God'sNotDead

        Guest is Lydia using a different name . She called me the *F* word She was very rude to me . And she is not like a pig because pigs do not Hurt others like she does . I do not cuss people out . It was someone else who called her a pig . And I felt sorry for the pigs . To have someone say that pigs are like her ??? No pigs Don’t call Christians the *F* word . Nor do pigs treat others like ((((Lydia Guest )))) does . This Guest is really Lydia trying to be mean to me again . Lydia has called me names and treated me bad . And thinks I should smile and swim in the sea of the ((HATE)) She gives others . The sea of hate makes her feel better . Her life is great when she pours her hate on others . Have fun Lydia Guest while treat others like you do . One day it will return to you . You willfeel what you made others feel .

      • LadyFreeBird<God'sNotDead

        And the true colors of Lydia is her hate for others . Even when she uses Her Guest .

  • Poconos Exile

    What a ridiculous article.

  • goodold_lucifer

    “The sciences in principle cannot eliminate God, because God is not some phenomena in the world.”

    This is a good statement of the meaning of “atheism.” Since God cannot be found in the world, therefore there is no God to believe in. (God cannot be “eliminated” because He is not there in the first place.)

    • You misunderstand “world” – in Scripture, the word often is used theologically to designate that which is not of God in the heart of man – such as, “Do not love the world or the things of the world. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the boastful pride of life, is not of the Father but is of the world.” In fact, God can be found in the “world” – even by scientists – if they are men who seek Him.

      Those who avoid Him here and now, have a possibility of never finding Him until it is too late.

      • goodold_lucifer

        In fact, God can be found in the “world” …

        In the world of the imagination, but not in the literal world of actual facts. God is a fictional character, not a real one. Plenty of stories about Him to be found — no literal HIM.

        • I understand your argument well – I was once there too. God does seem completely “fictional” to one who has never met Him. I also understand that you probably hear what I just wrote as insanity. I would have thought that too, years ago. I would only suggest, seek! It is true: “Everyone who seeks, finds.”

          • goodold_lucifer

            If you seek something in the real world, you have a chance of finding it. But you can never actually find anything supernatural — except in your imagination. Imagination is quite a tool.

            The whole meaning of “supernatural” is that it cannot be found in nature, i.e., in day-to-day practical living.

            • True, the “supernatural … cannot be found in nature” – but nature bears witness to the supernatural by it’s very existence. Maybe the first miracle that can be seen is the miracle of being – the miracle that anything IS, when it could as well not ever be.

              • goodold_lucifer

                If there were nothing, that might qualify as a miracle. But the fact that stuff exists is the most natural thing in the world.

                Nature bears witness to nature. Nothing bears witness to the supernatural.

                • ” Nothing bears witness to the supernatural.”

                  Just suppose, for an unguarded moment, that a man were to arise from death in a body that had characteristics unlike any other human body every seen or imagined: suppose he was dead – as dead as could be – and after three days in a tomb, he rose out of the dead with a changed body that could walk right through locked doors and yet was able to be physically touched, and able to eat and drink food with his friends. Further, he could be recognized or unrecognized – his choice – by people who knew him. Further, he was able to lift up into the air, and disappear into the sky at will.

                  If you saw such things – or if several people bore witness to seeing exactly the same things – these things – would that testimony “bear witness to the supernatural”? Or would your presuppositions simply deny it all, out of hand?

                  • goodold_lucifer

                    … would that testimony “bear witness to the supernatural”?

                    Naturally not.

                    Stories of the impossible might make more stories of the impossible possible — but they don’t make the impossible possible. The “supposition” you describe is fiction.

                    Common sense and logic, the so-called “presuppositions” you don’t like, are realistic — not fictional.

                    • Ohhh. Now I get it! If it doesn’t fit into your conceptual universe it is “impossible” – “fiction.”

                    • goodold_lucifer

                      If it doesn’t fit into your conceptual universe it is “impossible” – “fiction.”

                      No, you don’t get it. Our concepts need to flow from and follow reality, not vice versa. The nature of the universe is outside of our power to conceptualize it.

                      And what in the world is “above this known natural world” really supposed to mean anyway? What sort of magical “conceptual universe” are you trying to work with? How is it supposed to work at all?

                    • Our concepts DO flow from (natural) reality. But our concepts and understanding can transcend mere materialism to begin to encompass the nature of things, and their purpose and meaning. This, in fact, man was meant to do: to come into knowledge and understanding of his own meaning and purpose.

                      Do you yet know your own meaning, and purpose? The “why” of your life? Your heart can never find rest outside of, and ignorant of, that truth of your own being.

                    • goodold_lucifer

                      The truth is your own being is the “why” of the world. Think: EGO.

                    • Can you rewrite/rephrase the first sentence, and expand on the second? I don’t know what you are trying to say.

                    • goodold_lucifer

                      It was meant to be a nod to Ayn Rand’s Anthem.

                    • Well, I can’t respond if I can’t understand what you say. I will repeat the completely natural question that human persons ask from their youngest days: “WHY”? Human persons are born seeking the “WHY?” of things! And there is an answer, despite the shallow attempts of “humanists” to disallow the question, to disallow the very existence of a human nature, to disallow all purpose and meaning to being and to life. If you are looking for EGO, find a secular/atheist humanist.

                    • goodold_lucifer

                      If you are looking for EGO, find (or be) a rational human. If you are looking for GOD, look to the irrational (or at least the fictional).

                      The meaning of life is in life — not beyond life, or above nature, or miraculous.

                    • To say, “The meaning of life is in life” is like answering the persisting human question “why?” with “Just because!” Or even, “Because I said so!” The meaning of anything that does not necessarily have to be, is not found in itself but in the One who brought it into being.

                      But will you be satisfied with this answer, “Just because”? Or will you have a “why” that wants an explanation? I suppose you will want an explanation, because you are human! Because there IS a why, and because you too have a meaning, and a purpose beyond your own non-self-created being.

                    • goodold_lucifer

                      “… beyond your own non-self-created being.”

                      This is one of the biggest flaws of religion: the avoidance of self-reliance and self-responsibility — the attempt to turn people into faithful, obedient followers instead of independent thinkers.

                    • “Independent”? Did you come into being “independently”? How long would you last without the food, air and water that also you did not bring into being. A major flaw with atheist thinking is the presumption of independence and the blind faith in accident.

                      You are free to reject God! He gives you that freedom to find Him.

                    • goodold_lucifer

                      “Independent”?

                      Yes. Independent.

                      Independence is the recognition of the fact that yours is the responsibility of judgment and nothing can help you escape it—that no substitute can do your thinking, as no pinch-hitter can live your life—that the vilest form of self-abasement and self-destruction is the subordination of your mind to the mind of another, the acceptance of an authority over your brain, the acceptance of his assertions as facts, his say-so as truth, his edicts as middle-man between your consciousness and your existence.

                      What you are calling the “presumption of independence” is in fact a recognition of the reality of how the human mind works.

                      And what you have in mind with that “blind faith in accident” remark appears to be a rejection of reality and common sense. You seem to follow the belief that “God Created the Universe” [and is the “IDOL”] — and that if God didn’t do it, then it was all a colossal accident!

                    • goodold_lucifer

                      Lose with truth and right rather than gain with falsehood and wrong.
                      — Maimonides

              • goodold_lucifer

                “… the miracle that anything IS, when it could as well not ever be.”

                That is an exercise in “miraculous thinking.” It is impossible that there could be nothing in existence.

                • “It is impossible that there could be nothing in existence.” – Is it impossible for one specific thing that does now exist, ever not to be in existence? For example, is it impossible for you, personally, ever not to be in existence? In other words, have you been in existence externally, and is existence within your very essence, such that you cannot not be in existence?

                  And has there ever been a time when you did not exist? But now you do! How is that possible – not to mention, “natural”?

                  • goodold_lucifer

                    Natural childbirth really exists.

                    Further, there are plenty of things now existing that did not exist in earlier times. And there are things that used to exist — and don’t anymore.

                    But that is all beside the point that it is impossible for existence not to exist.

                    • Defining all that exists within your horizons as “natural” does not eliminate the supernatural – it only limits reality to your perceptions. But the universe is far bigger than what fits into your or my head. A single human soul is greater than the whole material universe, and a single human soul awakened to the reality of the divine is a miracle greater than the creation of the material universe.

                    • joebissonnette

                      Beautifully put. I think we all know this innately. We can stand upright in relation to the whole of creation because we are in the image of the Creator.

                    • “…we are in the image of the Creator” – this is a realization (such that the reality of it is revealed deep within) only possible, I think, when the person is awash in His grace. As a mere idea, it comes across as only words. But when illuminated – in supernatural light – the truth of it becomes the Truth of Him. But how dark are the consequences of unbelief! May God continue in His patience, because the darkness is getting darker.

                    • Veritas

                      I buying your book.

                    • Well thank you, Veritas – I hope it will prove helpful to you.
                      Which book?

                    • Veritas

                      I just watched your You Tube interview with Marcus back in ’01 and saw a book titled, The Ordinary Path to Holiness. Have you written anything more recently? Before reading your solid responses here, I didn’t know who you were. Thanks to Google, I have found out.

                    • I have four books out – “The Ordinary Path to Holiness” was the first, and is probably foundational for the later three. (That one is probably the best one to read first – on solid and traditional Catholic spirituality..) But all are described on my website – http://www.renewthechurch.com. At the top of the page are links to the descriptions of each of the four. Only two are in paperback, all four are in digital for Nook and Kindle.

                      Thank you for looking – May the Lord lead and bless you in your journey.

                    • Veritas

                      It is good to also know that you have this website. I will bookmark it. Thank you for clarifying reality. While I can think some of what you have written, I sometimes have difficulty verbalizing it. I am not trained in philosophy or theology; it is just a delightful hobby. You were crystal clear, and that clarity is needed even for the faithful.
                      Peace be to you.

                    • The link to the website works for me – strange. Please try again and let me know if the problem persists. You might try the blog address also – https://renewthechurch.wordpress.com
                      the blog is more interactive than the webpage, and it has a link to the webpage (and book descriptions) as well.

                      Thank you for your comments on clarity. Clarity, and precision, are both very important to theology, even to spiritual theology. Some have the idea of spiritual theology, or spirituality, that it is mere devotion and sweet poetical words – no, spiritual theology is reasonable and ought to be clear, as all true theology is, even when the subject is in itself mystical. Spiritual theology is not all completely “worked out” and a finished, dry subject! Not at all! John of the Cross used poetry and reason to help him express his spiritual theology! But the same God is the God of all, and He is the God of reason – and parable.

                    • Veritas

                      Harry Jaffa also had great clarity, at least I do think so. I will supply the link, and I’m sure you’ve read him too:

                      “The consummation and transformation of philosophy—love of wisdom—into wisdom itself, were it to succeed, would put an end to both Socratic skepticism and biblical faith. For in such a case, there would be nothing left either for inquiry or for faith. Strauss’s critique of modern philosophy, more than any intellectual event of our times, showed the impossibility of this enterprise. His demonstration of the self-destruction of reason ending in nihilism proved the superiority both of Socratic skepticism and of biblical faith to the modern attempts to supersede them.”
                      – See more at: http://www.claremont.org/basicpage/leo-strauss-the-bible-and-political-philosophy/#.VQSfLGctHIU.

                    • Thanks for the link.

                    • goodold_lucifer

                      Biblical faith is not superior to reason for the purposes of knowledge and understanding life and the world.

                      Reason is the antidote, the solution, to the nihilism of religious faith.

                      The notion of “the self-destruction of reason” has “great clarity” in the same sense that the notion of a “square circle” has “great clarity.” That is, literally speaking, it is a self-contradiction.

                      Practically speaking, reason is man’s means of avoiding self-destruction.

                    • Veritas

                      No luck connecting to your website. I will try again tomorrow.

                    • goodold_lucifer

                      The supernatural cannot be eliminated from reality, since it was never there in the first place. The trick is to eliminate from consideration as a possibility (since it is impossible), and lots of people do not bother to do so.

                    • goodold_lucifer

                      … it only limits reality to your perceptions.

                      You got that backwards. It is your perceptions that are limited to reality. You can only perceive real stuff. The supernatural is purely imaginary.

                      But the universe is far bigger than what fits into your or my head.

                      Naturally — there’s no other possibility. Consciousness is a process of being aware of reality — some bit of it at a time — not of creating it.

                    • goodold_lucifer

                      … the creation of the material universe.</blockquote

                      Is a myth.

                      Can't get something from nothing. (Even if you claim that with your God you did get something from nothing, isn't that just another way of saying, "God is nothing"?)

                    • Kilo4/11

                      @goodold_lucifer “… it is impossible for existence not to exist.”

                      Why? Existence is merely a concept in the mind of some created beings. Before consciousness evolved, there was no “existence”, because there was no conscious being to conceive of it, and when armageddon happens it will disappear without a trace.

                    • goodold_lucifer

                      Existence is merely a concept in the mind of some created beings. Before consciousness evolved, there was no “existence”, …

                      Not exactly.

                      In fact, existence existed before consciousness evolved — otherwise there would have been nothing there are the material for evolution.

                      Strictly speaking, it is God that is a figment of the imagination, not reality.

                    • Kilo4/11

                      It is as if you tried to say water existed before the water cycle (sun’s heat, evaporation, rainfall, etc.) This is just another way of saying there was always “something” there, when in fact no “something” can become without being created.

                    • goodold_lucifer

                      … when in fact no “something” can become without being created.

                      Nothing, of course, can be “supernaturally created,” but if you mean that everything naturally comes from something else, then you are right.

                      So you statement was incomplete, and should read: ‘when in fact no “something” can become without being created from something else.’ You can’t get something from nothing. If you figure there had to be nothing to start with, then you cannot logically ever get to any something.

                    • goodold_lucifer

                      Hydrogen and oxygen both existed before the Earth’s “water cycle” got going.

                      You can’t get something from nothing. That’s why the notion of “God Creating the Universe” is nonsense.

                    • Kilo4/11

                      “You can’t get something from nothing.”

                      And finally, you backed yourself into the corner from which the only exit, for one who refuses to acknowledge his Creator, is eternal death.

                      Feel free to rail away at will with “last words”; only know these two things: it is not you but your Creator who will have the last word; and you have had all of my time you will ever get.

                    • goodold_lucifer

                      Thanks for being so sparing.

                    • Kilo4/11

                      “In fact, existence existed… ”

                      In fact, tautology is no argument.

                      You are a mediocre hack writer, at best, and as Mr. Zarrella has noted several times now, your trick is simply to keep coming up with new ways to say the same thing.

                    • goodold_lucifer

                      Projection will get you nowhere.

              • goodold_lucifer

                “… nature bears witness to the supernatural by it’s very existence.”

                Nature bears witness to nature. Nothing bears witness to the unreal (aka “the supernatural”).

                Nature is really there. The supernatural is fiction. You could check it out.

            • somebigguy

              Clearly, you’ve never experienced the supernatural, as I and other believers have.

              But you’re on the right track with “you can never actually find anything supernatural…” The supernatural finds you.

              • goodold_lucifer

                Naturally, I’ve never experienced the supernatural. Nobody has. That would be impossible — since the supernatural is not part of reality (but simply imaginary).

                • somebigguy

                  Kilo4/11 is right; tautology is no argument. Neither is denial.

                  • goodold_lucifer

                    Neither “tautology” nor “denial” is any sort of argument. That why no notion of the supernatural, i.e., the denial of nature as what exists, makes any sense.

                    • somebigguy

                      As a matter of fact, it is atheism that is based on blindness. As Aquinas observed, belief in God follows not only from faith, but logic; it is irrational NOT to believe in God.

                    • goodold_lucifer

                      You’ve got it backward. It is irrational to believe in God. That’s what faith in God means — since there is no rational basis for believing in the supernatural.

                      Atheism is not based on blindness, but rather on the refusal to go along with blindness. There is zero logic to belief in the supernatural and religious faith.

              • goodold_lucifer

                The supernatural finds you.

                In your dreams.

              • goodold_lucifer

                “Clearly, you’ve never experienced the supernatural, as I and other believers have.”

                I have not experienced the supernatural, and neither have you. Nobody has, since it is impossible to experience the unreal. All actual experience is of reality. There is no actual experience of unreality, aka, “the supernatural.”

                The supernatural is a myth, a figment of the imagination. Claims to have experienced the supernatural are precisely as meaningful as claims to have seen (or drawn) a square circle. Not a possibility.

                Of course, it is quite possible to believe you have experienced the supernatural. It is indeed rather common to believe it — in spite of the fact that it is quite impossible for it to actually happen.

                • somebigguy

                  Have it your way, troll boy…

                  • goodold_lucifer

                    If you can’t stand the heat, you shouldn’t troll in the kitchen.

                    • somebigguy

                      Hey, it’s your soul, buddy; I’m not gonna lose sleep over it. You’ll learn the truth soon enough; however, in the meantime, like the guy in the cartoon, you look pretty foolish.

                    • goodold_lucifer

                      You are like the foolish guy in the cartoon — proclaiming that material things don’t prove the existence of nature (imagining that its all supernatural instead).

                    • goodold_lucifer

                      “… you look pretty foolish.”

                      If you imagine that I look foolish (to be an atheist), then you are not paying attention. Wake up and smell the roses.

                    • goodold_lucifer

                      Hey, it’s your soul, buddy; I’m certainly not gonna lose sleep over it.

                      Good grief — what sort of religious person would you be if you lost sleep over the souls of others!?

          • goodold_lucifer

            “Everyone who seeks, finds.”

            Everyone who seeks, finds something (something real) — and sometimes when what they find is not exactly what they wanted, they imagine that they found something unreal (even though that’s impossible).

            • Have you begun yet to seek? Discussing justifications or rationalities to refuse the risk of seeking will not help you find anything new. It is the new that will surprise you.

              • goodold_lucifer

                ” … the risk of seeking … “

                I’ve spent my life seeking truth and reason. The risk of seeking truth is that it can upset comfortable illusions, e.g., religion. It was rather a surprise to me that atheism was the sensible position (since I was raised with religion as the default).

                • I suggest that you describe the “first” risk of seeking truth: to upset the comfortable illusion of religion. There is an illusory religion always nearby: easy to swallow, easy to accommodate into our preferred lifestyle, easy to reconcile with our beloved sins.

                  There is a greater risk, with actual and lasting reward possible in it. It is truly “new”, rightly called the “Good News”, rarely embraced with the totality of being that it demands. It is no illusion; it is truth itself, worthy of being sought at any price.

                  • goodold_lucifer

                    Certainly reality is not an illusion; “experience of the supernatural” is an illusion, a delusion, or simply a tall tale.

                    The good news is that nobody has to be religious if they choose to be reasonable. It is a free country.

                    • gol: “Certainly reality is not an illusion; “experience of the supernatural” is an illusion, a delusion, or simply a tall tale.”

                      – TR: How do you conclude that you know that?

                      gol: “The good news is that nobody has to be religious if they choose to be reasonable. It is a free country.”

                      -TR: Everyone has freedom to be religious or not, not only in this country. Of course, the cost of that freedom if exercised may be greater or less, depending on the country. And there is much good news around, true, but some is better than others.

                      Because you have the freedom granted to you by the government to “be religious or not”, are you thereby “free”? The best news is the magnitude, depth and permanence of the freedom to be found in the Good News, the “Gospel.”

                      John 8:34 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, every one who commits sin is a slave to sin.
                      John 8:35 The slave does not continue in the house for ever; the son continues for ever.
                      John 8:36 So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.”

                    • goodold_lucifer

                      Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, every one who commits sin is a slave to sin.”

                      You make Jesus sound like a determinist denying free will.

                      Do you believe that everyone who is religious is a slave to religion?

                      Are people who live in free countries slaves to freedom?!

                    • Here are three paragraphs expressing some of the Catholic Christian understanding concerning freedom. These three do NOT express the totality of truth concerning freedom! But they do pull together several essential factors that must be included in the beginning of understanding what freedom IS. Freedom is not merely the existence of choice: it is more than that. If you do a search of these, you can find the source and much much more on the subject.

                      I especially hope that you will read and consider, at some length and depth, the last paragraph.

                      1731 Freedom is the power, rooted in reason and will, to act or not to act, to do this or that, and so to perform deliberate actions on one’s own responsibility. By free will one shapes one’s own life. Human freedom is a force for growth and maturity in truth and goodness; it attains its perfection when directed toward God, our beatitude.

                      1732 As long as freedom has not bound itself definitively to its ultimate good which is God, there is the possibility of choosing between good and evil, and thus of growing in perfection or of failing and sinning. This freedom characterizes properly human acts. It is the basis of praise or blame, merit or reproach.

                      1733 The more one does what is good, the freer one becomes. There is no true freedom except in the service of what is good and just. The choice to disobey and do evil is an abuse of freedom and leads to “the slavery of sin.”

                    • goodold_lucifer

                      I was talking about political freedom, and you’ve changed over to the subject of volition (aka free will). They are certainly related, but they are different subjects.

                      And free will is truly the choice to think or not. It is manifestly NOT “obedience to the Commands of God.”

                    • Yes, true freedom IS obedience to truth because it is truth. Even God must be true, because He cannot lie, nor can He deceive. Man can not only lie, but he can love his lies because they hide the truth of his poverty.

                      A major step toward freedom from the deceptions of man, is the realization of one’s abject poverty, which opens his heart to humility. Pride, on the other hand, is the root from which lies and self-deception come forth.

                      A good illustration of the spiritual slavery to sin – from which Truth and obedience to Truth frees us – is seen in the physical and psychological bondage that addictions bring. Drugs, tobacco, alcohol, pornography – at first freely chosen – can enslave the victim, using his abuse of freedom, and his love of a lie, to rob him of his freedom. Truth alone can set a man free – Truth lived, not merely acknowledged.

                    • goodold_lucifer

                      Pride, on the other hand, is the root from which lies and self-deception come forth.

                      You’ve got that very wrong. In real life, pride and self-deception are contradictories. They are mutually exclusive: you can do one or the other, but not both.

                      Being proud of deceiving yourself is a crazy fantasy. Try it — you cannot do it.

                      Oh, I don’t mean that you can’t deceive yourself — only that you are really, really deceiving yourself to feel that your are proud of it.

                    • Men are not proud of deceiving themselves – they are deceiving themselves in their self-centered vision of the universe, and society (in other words, their subjective reality). They imagine a universe that could come into existence by itself, and a morality that blesses their lusts and allows them to do as they please without negative consequence. And in that distorted fantasy they call reality, their pride fits very well – and hence, that distorted fantasy they call “reality” is a very pleasing and wonderful “reality” to live in. It is the religion of the idolatry of Self – man’s (and satan’s) ancient dream, to exclude God entirely from his life, so as to become a god.

                      Truth is much better than the lie.

                    • goodold_lucifer

                      … self-centered vision of the universe,…

                      You are tilting at windmills with that distorted fantasy of a supernatural world that could magically come into reality by itself.

                    • You must ask yourself what beings have being in their own essence, or nature. What things that exist, MUST exist and what things can easily NOT exist. You and I, for example, do not have existence in our nature – we could very easily not exist – in fact, the universe got along very well without us in existence for untold eons. Even a very proud man must admit that he does not possess being in himself, in his own nature. He exists because of the action somehow of that which preceded him.

                      But then, we live in an era when reason itself is subject to the arrogance of man.

                    • goodold_lucifer

                      What things that exist, MUST exist …

                      Another interesting question is: What things that people wish would exist CANNOT POSSIBLY exist? One big answer is: THE SUPERNATURAL. Think about it.

                    • Au contraire – the supernatural MUST exist, or else the natural could never have come into being. Think about it.

                    • goodold_lucifer

                      “[T]he supernatural MUST exist, or else the natural could never have come into being. Think about it.”

                      Okay, here is what I think about it:

                      By your notion that the natural world needed the supernatural world to precede it in order to “come into being,” then the supernatural world needed the super-supernatural world to precede it in order for that alleged supernatural world to “come into being.” Etc. But all that notion does is illustrate the absurdity of believing that the world in any way could “come into being from nothing.”

                      The only sensible view is that since something exists, then there has never been nothing, period.

                      So, effectively, something always had to exist. And that had to be the material world, not God — since what does exist is the natural world, which precludes the possibility of “the supernatural.”

                      God could not have created the material world, because, absent the material world, there would have been nothing for Him to be conscious of, i.e., He could not have been conscious and thus could not have acted creatively. (A consciousness conscious of nothing but itself is a contradiction in terms.)

                    • Have you, personally, come into being when before you did not exist? Or, have you existed for all eternity? If the latter, please tell me what that feels like. If the former, please tell me what supernatural being formed you out of nothing.

                    • goodold_lucifer

                      Have you, personally, come into being when before you did not exist?

                      As a matter of fact, that is just what happened. Just like it happens to everybody.

                      … please tell me what supernatural being formed you out of nothing.

                      There was, quite naturally, nothing supernatural about it. There are, literally speaking, no such things as “supernatural beings.” You can’t get something from nothing. Being born is not an unnatural event.

                      Do you believe that your parents were supernatural? And that you came to be through some unnatural process? Is that a sensible belief?

                    • goodold_lucifer

                      have you existed for all eternity?

                      No, not all of it. Just enough to have a life.

                    • goodold_lucifer

                      Au contraire – the supernatural MUST exist, or else the natural could never have come into being. Think about it.

                      In fact, it is not possible for the supernatural to exist, since nature is what actually does exist. Another way of saying “supernatural” is “unreal.”

                      (I was just out driving and saw a sign which said, “Right Lane Exits Ahead.” Does that mean that right line can no longer exist after it exits?)

                    • goodold_lucifer

                      “… the supernatural MUST exist …”

                      In fact, the supernatural CANNOT exist, since it is the contradictory of nature (which is what MUST and DOES exist).

                    • goodold_lucifer

                      They imagine a universe that could come into existence by itself,…

                      There may be people who do imagine such a thing. There are also people who imagine a God Who Could Come Into Existence By Himself.

                      Neither notion makes any sense.

                      You cannot get something from nothing. You cannot be conscious with no material world to be conscious of.

                    • goodold_lucifer

                      Even a very proud man must admit that he does not possess being in himself, in his own nature.

                      Such an “admission” would be irrational, a distortion of reality. The nature of human life is to “possess being in himself, in his own nature” — that’s what it means to be alive. Having parents, having been born, does not alter the fact that the resulting person actually does exist and has, quite naturally, a life of his own.

                    • goodold_lucifer
                    • goodold_lucifer

                      But then, we live in an era when reason itself is subject to the arrogance of man.

                      It is not clear what you mean by that. Do you feel that reason is undervalued nowadays, as compared to, for instance, ancient Athens? Do you think religion is now more important — that people tend to arrogantly feel that religious fantasy is more important than reality?

  • goodold_lucifer

    “The truth is there are no such things as atheists.”

    In fact, there are some atheists around in the world. They are people who are not theists. Some of them are friends of mine, so I know they are actually exist.

  • TizzyD

    To posit that God’s truth comes through under pressure represents an assertion without basis. How do you explain other observed cognitive biases, ones that are in fact demonstrably wrong or even dangerous? Rather than support your confirmation bias to find validity in magic, you should consider other less supernatural alternatives.

    http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_cognitive_biases

  • Keyser Soze

    This is deeply flawed logic… “Trees produce oxygen so that animals can breathe.” does not mean that trees where created for this purpose, it means that they exist because of a symbiosis… It’s like saying, “toilets exist so people can poop” proves that God created toilets.

  • Emile

    “But the world is forever made new by Christ”. I thought the world was created in six days?

  • goodold_lucifer

    Both theists and atheists exist — but only theists are necessarily wrong on the issue.

  • goodold_lucifer

    “The sciences in principle cannot eliminate God, because God is not some phenomena in the world.”

    That is true. God is not there, so science has nothing to say about Him. Since there is no possibility of God, there is no possible way for science to say anything about Him. In that context, there is nothing to say anything about.

    Scientists can only say, “If you want to talk about it, bring evidence of what it is you want to talk about.” Of course, not only has no evidence been found, no evidence for the supernatural is even possible. So science is out of the running for any resolution on this issue.

    It’s a matter for philosophy.

    Theists feel that fantasy trumps reality. Atheists don’t necessarily feel that way. (Way back in college, I heard of atheists claiming, “Of course God doesn’t exist because nothing exists; everything is an illusion.” Theism almost seems tame in its irrationality compared to that sort of nonsense.)

  • goodold_lucifer

    Of course modern theories about the evolution of plants and animals posit that the capacity of plants to produce oxygen is merely an accident that just so happens to facilitate the breathing of animals.

    There is no such “theory”. That “God vs. accident” notion is a gross false alternative.

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