I Love Atheists!

…which is why I’d like them to realize that they suck at atheism.

Etymologically speaking, A holiday is a holy day, which leads me to understand why the godless are so grumpy – they’ve never had one. But, then again, for a breed so bent on denying that religion has brought any good fruit into the world, they see no contradiction in eating it, so perhaps they go on holidays and call them vacations. Those wild, crazy, Winter Solstice Vacations. But when they leave do they say “goodbye”, etymologically rooted in the phrase “God be by you”? Surely that sends a shudder of hypocrisy down their spines, like when they write the date based on Christ in their earth-shaking blog posts; 2010. If they were real secularists, they’d have the stones to scrawl out “approx. 4,500,000,000 years” on the right hand corner of their high-school essays, and the teachers be damned if they can’t decipher the date. Well not damned literally, of course, but frowned upon by educated people, which as we all know, is much, much worse.

My point is Chesterton’s: Somehow one can never manage to be an atheist. They are shaped by the world, and the world is shaped by Christ. They are shaped by themselves, and there very selves are shaped by God. In this world where men become women and women become men, the hardest thing to become is secular. Even the word “secular” is religious, originally used to describe a priest outside of a specific religious order. The word “atheist” is no better. Anyone not asleep in 9th grade English class can tell you the meaning of the prefix “a” – without. And the without-god-ers do no more to disprove God than the without-arm-ers disprove the existence of arms.
Some highly intellectual and
old-school discussion at the
University of Paris.

The university system and liberal arts education were invented by the Catholic Church – that great monolith of indoctrination – so I assume no atheist attends higher education on principle, in the same way the religious are reluctant to attend the atheist’s educational counterpart –  the Gulags. If they do go to college, my heart breaks with pity for them; how do they avoid the opiate of the masses? Not in the classes, for the history of science reveals too much about its illogical roots of being all “for the glory of God”, the history of music, language, farming, philosophy, writing, mathematics and just about everything reveals that we have monks to thank for just about everything. Even the Enlightenment, the perversion of which brought us the atheism itself. And 90% of alcoholic beverages. And as far as literature; after Nietzsche went insane and died, atheistic literature just hasn’t been all its cracked up to be, as evidenced by Hitchen’s “god is Not Great”, a rather extended diatribe that sounds like is written by an American teenager taking a break from playing World of Warcraft.

They could try descending into vice, an activity readily available at college, but they’d have to alter their cursing to exclude the best curses, and during pre-marital sex they’d be obliged to cry out “oh-my-infinitely-repeating-universe-theory!” which, I am told, does not endear oneself to the opposite sex. And, knowing that morality is completely relative, they’d have to be comfortable inviting their grandmothers to their frat parties. We have religion to thank for so much; the separation of church and state, limited government, protection of the weak and the poor, charity, hope, the end of slavery, the scientific revolution, the very best art and music the world knows, and atheism to thank for so little; besides oppressive communism, fascism, social darwinism, eugenics, moral relativism and internet forums so arrogant they might be mistaken for things of actual importance. So how does one go about being an atheist? I’ve honestly no clue, as I’ve never seen it done whole-heartedly. Maybe atheism, like a cubicle job, is only something that can be done in apathy, or just badly. So I do love atheists, I really do, if only for their inability to practice atheism. 

At this point, I’d like to challenge atheists. Stop arguing with people who can’t argue. Winning a debate with a creationist and then making YouTube videos about how smart you are is a little like filming  yourself taking candy from a child. What gain is there from bringing brilliant sophistry to Southern Baptists? I cannot count the number of articles, blog posts, forum discussions and videos I’ve seen ripping apart Protestant theology using the same logic the Catholic Church ripped it apart with 500 years ago. Christopher Hitchens looks great – and sounds wonderful, goodness I wish I had his mastery of English – debating evangelical preachers and slow-speaking bishops. But he starts to stutter, starts to slip when debating Dinesh D’Souza. So you really believe your atheism can hold up to the light of day? Prove it. Debate an orthodox, intellectual, Roman Catholic.

  • http://vitaconsecrata.wordpress.com/ vitaconsecrata

    i freaking love your blog!!! :D

  • http://brilliantzenith.wordpress.com/ brilliantzenith

    Bravo! I found your blog through PM and actually wrote my own piece on truth today for my parish. I just tweaked it and blogged it for my youth.And BTW an atheist couldn't cry out "Oh scientific method!" That one is all Catholic too.Pax

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/08788697573946266404 Larry, The Barefoot Bum

    So… you fill up a post with the most ridiculous straw men, destroy any pretense to intellectual honesty and good will, and then you challenge us to a debate? Yeah, right.In any event, the Catholic "intellectuals" are all too busy trying to protect the child abusers and rapists in their midst to have time debating atheists. What's your problem, no ten-year-olds handy?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02487990587362445908 Ash

    "A holiday is a holy day, which leads me to understand why the godless are so grumpy – they’ve never had one."I love Christmas, a pagan holiday that has become a secular celebration of generosity, renewal, and good will. Thanksgiving, Halloween, and Fourth of July are also fantastic secular celebrations. Such days do not need to be "holy" (i.e. religious) in order to have deep meaning: just ask the child of a soldier on Veterans Day. Lacking a belief in gods has nothing else to do with appreciating the human condition, which is what holidays are really all about…if anything, supernatural woo gets in the way of the true meaning of such celebrations."They are shaped by themselves, and there very selves are shaped by God."We are shaped by evolution, and your behavior (e.g. trying to socially one-up your "tribe" over the atheist "tribe") is entirely predicted by it. The power of reason is an evolutionary late-comer, of course, but it has allowed us to escape from the more primitive functions and cognitive errors from which theism arises. While religion might be a permanent feature of human society, eventually faith in gods will go the way of dragons, unicorns, and Zeus."they’d be obliged to cry out “oh-my-infinitely-repeating-universe-theory!""I've found plenty of alternatives, from 'I love you' to a nice primal scream. I hear some guys scream out "ANGELINA JOLIE!" (she's an atheist, you know)."And, knowing that morality is completely relative…"Atheism is merely the lack of belief in gods, it does not itself offer a stance on morality (as does, say, humanism, which is not a relativist philosophy). However, there is a great debate happening about the objective nature of morality: cf. Sam Harris."Stop arguing with people who can't argue."I hate to say it, but you kinda set yourself up here. See, people who can't argue tend to be on the theist side of the fence; we can only work with what you guys give us. But of course for those who can, plenty of atheists have debated them without a dent to the strength of their arguments. I just watched that D'Souza debate and Hitchens offered his typical devastating arguments while D'Souza offered typical theistic handwaving.So, I have a challenge to you. Offer up someone who can actually debate while sticking to the fundamentals of logic and intellectual honesty. Go ahead, we'll wait…

  • http://badcatholicblog.blogspot.com/ badcatholicblog

    @ Larry a.k.a The Bare-Bummed FootStrawmen? Strawmen?!? I protest sir. A strawman would be ill representing the atheist philosophy with misnomers and simplifications in order to debunk them easily. I made no arguments against atheism – maybe a few implications, to be sure – rather, I only sought to point out the difficulty of an atheist actually living up to his creed in a way that was – as made clear by your response – much funnier than I had thought, but just as frustrating. If I misrepresented your “tribe”, I do apologize, it is only from experience.As for destroying pretense to intellectual honesty, what on earth does that mean? Is that just something that gets said? “Good will” makes a little more sense, and surely, I have very little good will towards atheism. Towards you personally, I have plenty, I would only bother to test and try a people I feel good will towards. Too many cowardly Christians adopt the “let-em-burn” strategy, which only ever leads to a lack of discussion, but I maintain that calling you out is the most good will I can show you.As for your last bit of bigotry, it is a high wonder of mine why, in the face of opposition, atheists have the charming habit of calling Catholics child-molesters. (Though I am disappointed. 10 year olds? Come now, make it 3 year olds, it’ll be much more horrifying.) Are you still unaware that the Catholic Church has a remarkably low percentage of such awful incidents, lower than that incredible secular institution, the public schools? Are you too bigoted to realize that this problem is a societal problem, something neither church nor institution has been immune to? Are you aware that the only reason you have a prejudice against priests than, say, public school teachers, is that the Vatican mandated total transparency with such scandals and the cases that followed? Are you aware that statistically speaking, a Catholic Church is one of the safest places a child can be? If so, it sounds an awful lot like you’re making a few…straw men. I’ve only used a little of the language you atheist gentlemen pour all over the internet. Is it really that bitter?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12679230722483582032 Marc

    @ AshThat's awkward, because Christmas isn't a pagan holiday.http://catholicknight.blogspot.com/2008/12/origin-of-christmas.htmlAnd if by generosity, renewal and good will you mean rampant commercialism, sure, secularism has done great things.And because Thanksgiving was all about thanking God.And Halloween is without any shadow of doubt a Christian holiday, (All Hallowed's Eve). I mean, come on, that's the perfect one to pin on us. All the supernatural, the demons, the stories of the unexplained. the irrational fear; not that's what it is supposed to be, but it all sounds like something you'd blame us for, rather than trying to steal as a secular holiday. (Secular holiday? Gah, you've infected me, that makes no sense!)So have a happy Fourth of July, i'll give you that one; just ignore the "endowed by the Creator" part. My point isn't that atheists never celebrate the times that are considered "holy days." OnIy that they've never celebrated them AS the holy days they are. St. Valentine's is a great example. St. Patrick's is another.Anyhow, the "We are shaped by evolution…" paragraph is evasion, sir! You've essentially said that you are a more evolved creature and thus do not have to argue with theists. Right. And I'll just say that God has revealed to me that I am better than you and don't have to argue with atheists. All you've done is replaced God with some outdated concept of evolution, no evidence, just faith based statements like "eventually faith in gods will go the way of dragons, unicorns, and Zeus". Right. Because statistics are really showing that. And faith in Zeus is really dramatically different from faith in gods. And people had unflagging belief in dragons. And unicorns don't exist. Sure.As for the primal screaming. I applaud you sir. May you and your lawfully wedded wife cry out long after menopause."Atheism is merely the lack of belief in gods…"Fair play. I made a hasty generalization. But I would say it's very difficult to argue a case for morality without God. It tends to boil down to a rather unconvincing account of tribal darwinism, which no one cares about, and has no real evidence of existing.As for some folks who can debate, have a couple, knock yourself out.1. myself. it's a pride thing, don't worry about it, atheists don't have any.2. http://markshea.blogspot.com/3. any of the kids here: http://phatmass.com/ or find a crusty old Irish priest.Cheers! And thank you fore staying civil in such trying times.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02487990587362445908 Ash

    #1:"That's awkward, because Christmas isn't a pagan holiday."Hate to break it to ya, but Xmas evolved from numerous pre-Christian Winter festivals, including Dies Natalis Solis Invicti, Roman Saturnalia, Germanic Yule, etc. "And if by generosity, renewal and good will you mean rampant commercialism, sure, secularism has done great things."Actually, commercialism and secularism are two separate things, although I share your contempt for rampant commercialism, especially as it is practiced by so many adherents of Christianity. "And because Thanksgiving was all about thanking God."I'm glad you bring this up, because it illustrates a point I made earlier. Since the world used to be far more religious than it is today, it follows that the majority of festivals will have some religious aspects to their origins. However, as society matures into humanism, the religious elements fade away and are replaced by the secular. Thanksgiving is a perfect example of this trend. Ibid on Halloween. I hope you understand the point I was making, which is that atheists (or anyone really) are perfectly able to celebrate many holidays entirely because they are now of a secular (i.e. non-religious) nature, regardless of any original religious components. "Only that [atheists] never celebrated them AS the holy days they are. St. Valentine's is a great example. St. Patrick's is another."Good point, that's absolutely true. And yet, many of us celebrate them nevertheless, because (as I pointed out) they are really about the human condition (Valentine's=romance, St. Patrick's=Irish culture (or drinking), Halloween=existential anxiety, etc). Religious ideas are really besides the point. "Anyhow, the "We are shaped by evolution…" paragraph is evasion, sir!"Actually, it was a correction. "You've essentially said that you are a more evolved creature and thus do not have to argue with theists. Right."Actually I didn't say that, so you are arguing with yourself. "And I'll just say that God has revealed to me that I am better than you and don't have to argue with atheists."Then why are you doing exactly that?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02487990587362445908 Ash

    #2"All you've done is replaced God with some outdated concept of evolution, no evidence, just faith based statements like "eventually faith in gods will go the way of dragons, unicorns, and Zeus". Right."God and evolution are no more analogous than, say, God and the germ theory of disease. Just as people once thought that disease was caused by demons and such, many people still believe that humans were created by a deity. But you are correct in general if you mean to say that science has again replaced an ancient superstitious explanation for one that is demonstrably true. "And faith in Zeus is really dramatically different from faith in gods."Tell that to a devout Greek back in BCE 500. "As for the primal screaming. I applaud you sir. May you and your lawfully wedded wife cry out long after menopause."Thanks :) I'm happy to say it happened quite a lot before the wedding too ;P"But I would say it's very difficult to argue a case for morality without God."Not at all. There is a long history of the philosophy of ethics involving no god-talk at all. Also, Humanism offers a very robust moral system without theism. "It tends to boil down to a rather unconvincing account of tribal darwinism, which no one cares about, and has no real evidence of existing."You're right that there is no evidence for tribal darwinism. "As for some folks who can debate, have a couple, knock yourself out."Alas, my time only allows for enjoying the debates of others. "Cheers! And thank you fore staying civil in such trying times."My pleasure. :)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12679230722483582032 Marc

    @ AshI understand if you don't want an in depth debate, but I would feel cowardly if I didn't respond. Btw, I'm writing this while listening to LOTR soundtrack, which is adding a whole new gravity to this conversation."Hate to break it to ya, but Xmas evolved from numerous pre-Christian Winter festivals, including Dies Natalis Solis Invicti, Roman Saturnalia, Germanic Yule, etc. "By Zeus, man, I already gave you the link explaining this! At best, the Church took the same season as a way to make the pagan transition to Christianity easier. In the same way you arguing that atheists celebrate Halloween on the same holy day thus making a transition into a purely secular holiday. And here's the deal. All those pagan events were even more stupid, faith-based and illogical than the birth of the God-man. So why are you laying claim to them as a method of atheistic enlightenment?As to "maturing into humanism", I would agree that holidays are becoming more and more devoid of deep meaning, but only in the same way as the people celebrating them in such a fashion are. Having said that, the sad truth for you to face is that, over the last 20 years Christmas has become much more Christy. Call it a conservative backlash or whatever you want, but the common people don't seem to be going the way of your bold predictions."Halloween=existential anxiety, etc). Religious ideas are really besides the point."Oh Good Lord!! This is what you have in store for us? Holidays celebrating existential anxiety? Oh the brilliant, shining logic of atheistic culture! It's national insecure day, that used to be Halloween! Dear Saints above, I'd rather world descend into demon worship than to descend into a day of doubt. And religious ideas are not besides the point. Look, the fact that every single holiday you take and enjoy has its roots in deep religion, regardless of what you plan on perverting them into, doesn't really speak much for the originality of atheism, nor it's ability to affect those outside of the wealthy classes who can afford a day of existential doubt. "Actually, it was a correction."Actually, it was evasion. Nahnahnah, aren't we good at debate?Then you misunderstood my entire paragraph. You've used evolution as a grand concept, outside of humanity, that is both a rational and moral arbiter. Sounds a bit like God. You've used "tribal darwinism" to show that my arguments are merely evolutionary, later saying that there is no proof for tribal darwinism. My bloody point was that if you can just say, "Ah, but evolution clearly shows that your arguments are the result of tribal one-upping, and evolution also shows that we atheists are smarter that theists (and you did say that you dirty pirate)" than I can, with a similar amount of proof and evidence, that is to say NONE AT ALL, say "God told me your stupid." in a brilliant parallel to you saying "Evolution told me you're stupid."How can God be replaced by evolution anyways, outside of your ability to use as a divine revelation. Evolution speaks nothing for the existence of our universe, merely for the operations within it. To the Christian, saying evolution replaces God is a bit like saying that the hammer replaces the carpenter."Tell that to a devout Greek back in BCE 500."Sarcasm, my friend. I should have used sarcastic italics.Thanks :) I'm happy to say it happened quite a lot before the wedding too ;PWedding? Uh, wedding? Gosh that sound an awful lot like a, oh i don't know, religious concept that's been secularized. Tell me, can you atheists do anything on your own, or do just thrive off religious concepts? You're all like the knock-off brand aisle at the grocery store. Anyhow, it's been a pleasure communicating with you. May you live long and prosper and be out-bred by Catholics who don't use birth control.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02487990587362445908 Ash

    #3"By Zeus, man, I already gave you the link explaining this!"I just skimmed that article and it basically confirms what I wrote, that Xmas evolved from earlier festivals. "At best, the Church took the same season as a way to make the pagan transition to Christianity easier."Well, exactly, in the best Roman tradition. But without those prior festivals, there wouldn't have been a Christmas (or even a Christ, since that story evolved from earlier messianic son-of-god myths). "All those pagan events were even more stupid, faith-based and illogical than the birth of the God-man."I'll say this again, I think holidays are essentially a response to the human condition; they provide a sense of comfort, solidarity, and meaning. Any supernatural claims made in conjunction with them were equally as fallacious as any such Christian claim, of course, but that doesn't make the holidays themselves stupid or illogical. It makes perfect sense that we would celebrate things like the cycle of the year (eg. Winter solstice, the original Xmas or the Spring equinox, the original Easter), human virtues (eg. gratitude, love, sacrifice), and social milestones (weddings, graduations). "So why are you laying claim to them as a method of atheistic enlightenment?"I never claimed this. The original assertion was that atheists are grumpy because we have no holidays to celebrate and I countered that there are many holidays we celebrate because they are either now entirely secular, are in the process of becoming secular, or can easily be celebrated while ignoring any religious elements. Religious or supernatural components are entirely unnecessary to experience meaning and fulfillment from celebrating them. "As to "maturing into humanism", I would agree that holidays are becoming more and more devoid of deep meaning, but only in the same way as the people celebrating them in such a fashion are."I'm not sure what you intend by "deep meaning" other than "religious meaning". I would say that the heart of these holidays are just as profound as ever. You might be mistaking people's response to the holidays for the commercialism that corporations force down our throats (many of which are run by Christians, so you might want to take your brothers to task, not humanists. I'll stand beside you). "Having said that, the sad truth for you to face is that, over the last 20 years Christmas has become much more Christy. Call it a conservative backlash or whatever you want, but the common people don't seem to be going the way of your bold predictions."I think that fundamentalists are making much more noise in response to the secularization of Xmas, but that doesn't translate into the general population. Just walking around in the real world I see no evidence for anything other than increased secularization. And as for my predictions, polling indicates that non-belief is on the rise while belief is on the wane. The switchover won't happen in our lifetimes, alas.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02487990587362445908 Ash

    #4"Oh Good Lord!! This is what you have in store for us? Holidays celebrating existential anxiety?"In store? Existential anxiety has been with us since we developed the mid-brain several hundred million years ago. Halloween and festivals like it (e.g. Day of the Dead) are merely expressions of it using symbol and ritual. That's why such holidays are so ingrained into society. "It's national insecure day, that used to be Halloween!"Don't be silly. I explained what "powers" Halloween, its psychological raison d'etre, the human condition that gives it meaning beyond an excuse to dress up in costumes. Halloween is and has always been about existential anxiety (fear of the dark, fear of death, fear of the unknown, fear of predators, fear of outsiders, fear of candy corn, etc). It is now an entirely secular holiday; I never made claim that I want to change it in any other way. I like Halloween just as it is. Really, you need to stop assigning arguments to me that I haven't made. "Dear Saints above, I'd rather world descend into demon worship than to descend into a day of doubt."I think a Day of Doubt is a fantastic idea! Fortunately, we have one. October 13 is International Skeptics Day!! "And religious ideas are not besides the point. Look, the fact that every single holiday you take and enjoy has its roots in deep religion, regardless of what you plan on perverting them into, doesn't really speak much for the originality of atheism, nor it's ability to affect those outside of the wealthy classes who can afford a day of existential doubt."I already explained this one too. The world used to be far more religious, so of course older holidays will have some religious elements in their origins. It doesn't matter. The reason that more and more holidays are becoming secular and yet thriving is precisely because the religious aspects aren't really what makes them so powerful. Our holidays celebrate what it is to be human. Sure, religious people are welcome to celebrate them religiously, but that is only one possible expression of which there are many.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02487990587362445908 Ash

    #5"Then you misunderstood my entire paragraph. You've used evolution as a grand concept, outside of humanity, that is both a rational and moral arbiter."Erm, no, I didn't do any of that. The original claim is that we are "shaped by God." I countered by saying we are shaped by evolution. Evolution is indeed grand, but it is a scientific model not a concept; it doesn't exist "outside of humanity", it describes the natural process by which things change over time. Evolution is certainly not an arbiter of any kind, it's just a process. "Sounds a bit like God."Ah, that old canard. No, I already explained that evolution is no more like a god than the germ theory of disease or the theory of gravity are like a god. "You've used "tribal darwinism" to show that my arguments are merely evolutionary, later saying that there is no proof for tribal darwinism."Whoa! That is what I call an impressive twisting of words! I did point out that you were exhibiting primitive "tribal" tactics to elevate your sense of value by trying to devalue atheists. In other words, your motivation to devalue atheists is predicted by the theory of evolution; it happens everywhere: think of political parties, competing businesses, or rival high schools. It's just part of what it is to be human. "My bloody point was that if you can just say, "Ah, but evolution clearly shows that your arguments are the result of tribal one-upping, and evolution also shows that we atheists are smarter that theists (and you did say that you dirty pirate)" than I can, with a similar amount of proof and evidence, that is to say NONE AT ALL, say "God told me your stupid." in a brilliant parallel to you saying "Evolution told me you're stupid."I never said "evolution tells me you're stupid." However, logic does tell me that your core arguments are fallacious. "How can God be replaced by evolution anyways, outside of your ability to use as a divine revelation."I obviously never said God would replaced by evolution; that doesn't even make sense. I did say that the general claim "Humans were created by a god" has been replaced by "Humans are evolved primates arising from natural selection" as a statement of fact. Fortunately, no divine revelation is necessary; evolution is one of the most well-supported scientific theories in existence.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02487990587362445908 Ash

    #6"Evolution speaks nothing for the existence of our universe, merely for the operations within it."Correct. For the existence of the universe we look to astrophysics and cosmology. "To the Christian, saying evolution replaces God is a bit like saying that the hammer replaces the carpenter."I can understand why literalist Christians are disturbed by the fact of the evolutionary process; it means we are just another life form without any special meaning outsides of ourselves. I genuinely empathize with the difficulty of that shift. Many such scientific discoveries have dealt psychological blows to people, but knowledge marches on…."Wedding? Uh, wedding? Gosh that sound an awful lot like a, oh i don't know, religious concept that's been secularized. Tell me, can you atheists do anything on your own, or do just thrive off religious concepts? You're all like the knock-off brand aisle at the grocery store."Thank you for giving me another chance to make my central argument, which you are ignoring with impressive vigor. First, you might be assuming that weddings are originally Christian and are thus a "religious concept". However, every civilization has had some kind of wedding ceremony and they come in all shapes and sizes, not all of them religious. Second, why do people have weddings? Nowadays it is mostly because they celebrate union, committment, and love; these are fundamental human conditions, not the religious beliefs tacked on to them. That is why weddings are equally as profound and meaningful for atheists as for devout Christians. It isn't about originality (a point you seem stuck on), it is about the slow process of discarding unnecessary religious claims so that we can get to the heart of why people celebrate in the first place. "Anyhow, it's been a pleasure communicating with you."'Tis the season :)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12679230722483582032 Marc

    This quotation thing could end in us unraveling the universe, so I'll take your main point, then. Apologies if I didn’t address it, but let me now, with happiness.You ignore the outwardly religious elements of holidays, to be sure, but the "heart" of the holidays that you claim atheists aim to get to are even more religious, more dogmatic and more supernatural. Let's look at a few "hearts" of the matter you've been so gracious to point out."they provide a sense of comfort, solidarity, and meaning."OK, comfort, as in the lack of pain, makes enough sense. (Granted it implies that pain is a bad thing, and thus that there is objective good, a standard of goodness that we judge things by, which has the implication of absolutes, but whatever. Actually, why did I put that in parentheses? That’s a legit complaint!) But solidarity? A celebration of common existence? That makes no secular sense. Darwinistically speaking, it flies in the face of the 'selfish gene'. What bizarre animal are we that has evolved to celebrate our ability to ignore the survival of the fittest? It's not just being part of a herd, because herds of animals don't do much in the way of the celebration. They simply ARE in a herd. The fact that we celebrate solidarity would suggest that it is odd, would suggest that it is a triumph that humans can achieve solidarity, would suggest that we are fighting – and winning – against the natural biology of the world, which as Darwin pointed out, is the opposite of solidarity – selfishness. This leaves us with two options; either Darwinism doesn’t apply to us, which means we are every bit as special as Christianity has said we are or, as I believe, we have the free ability to work against our nature, which by definition, is supernatural. Solidarity is more supernatural than the Saints. I don’t claim that it is the product of any Christian law, but of the natural law written on our hearts by God. Meaning? Look, you can't divorce a celebration from it's religion by saying it's really just about "meaning", because meaning itself is an empty word. The celebrations that you are busy secularizing had "meaning" and that meaning was religious. Celebrating "meaning" as an end in itself is ridiculous and just doesn't happen. Even if the day is a Day of Skepticism, it still has definite meaning. I defy you to find a celebration of open-ended meaning.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12679230722483582032 Marc

    …Then you move on, with equally impressive faith-based vigor, to claim that these celebrations are at root about "human virtues (eg. gratitude, love, sacrifice)" Let's start with sacrifice. Giving your seat to an old lady on a bus, a simple sacrifice, makes no sense outside of a supernatural morality, as difficult as that might be to accept. You certainly aren't planning on mating with her, or extending your genes in any other way. She is certainly in no position to extend her gene pool. She is no kin to you. The matter has no bearing on the survival of the "herd". And don't bother saying it's a social norm, because then it can be ignored as such, and these things have been true all through human history. If we really were just another animal, and if the world really were as secular as you make it out to be, then we would be busy making sacrifices for those of fertile age, but as it happens they are required to make the most sacrifices for everyone else. How did this happen, by evolutionary standards? On the more obvious level, we have it in us to sacrifice ourselves for kids drowning in rivers. We risk our lives for theirs. This makes no sense unless there is a law outside of our nature that we are following. (For a more succinct argument of the same thing, read chapter 1 of C.S Lewis’ Mere Christianity.)Then you go on to say they are about love. Oh dear. Love is really just total sacrifice, the giving of yourself to another. If you are giving yourself to someone for the purpose of passing on your genes, for fulfilling some animal needs you have, or for any reason based in evolution or “purely natural” reasons, then you are not loving, you are using. If not, then materialists, secularists, humanists and atheists have a lot of ‘splaining to do. What reason is there for love? What reason is there for total self-sacrifice? Darwin would be ashamed of you.So my point is this. By ignoring the shallow foundations of holidays, foundations you accuse as being irrational and obsessed with the supernatural, you have chosen to build your holidays on concepts that require the supernatural to exist at all. Love, solidarity, charity, self-sacrifice – these things simply cannot exist in a materialistic worldview. “October 13 is International Skeptics Day!!”I am aware. I spend the whole day with my eyebrows raised.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02487990587362445908 Ash

    #7Alas that I no longer have the time to answer point by point regardless of the many points worthy of rebuttal. So, I will merely add a closing statement by your leave. Let's review the original assertions: (1) the godless are grumpy because they’ve never had a holy day, (2) in our world the hardest thing to become is secular, (3) that atheists have a shared principle of avoiding any activity or institution that had or has religious elements, (4) atheists are moral relativists and have only contributed to projects leading to human suffering, (5) that no one can be a "whole-hearted" atheist, and (6) that atheists refuse to argue with skilled debaters. (1) Holiness is an expression of meaning, specifically relating to supernatural claims. In this light, it is true that atheists do not celebrate holy days as such. However, the underlying purpose of festival days is to recognize, honor, and celebrate aspects of the human condition. The filter through which one does so—such as praising objects or events of myth, engaging in social ritual, or inventing activities unique to the celebrant—are merely possible manifestations of the same core theme. For instance, Xmas/Yule/Hanukkah is fundamentally about the darkness of winter and the hope of the renewal of the year. This theme is embodied in the myth of the birth of the messianic son (there were many besides Jesus, all of whom represent the Sun), decorating an evergreen with lights, joyful celebration with friends and family, and so on. Atheists are not at all grumpy about a lack of festival days despite the fact that we celebrate them differently than some theists because we all share in the human condition for which these days exist. The *experience* of these celebrations might be different, but not necessarily the degree of meaning and fulfillment. In this regard, supernatural claims are unnecessary; if everyone magically became unbelievers tomorrow, these days would continue to be celebrated. (2) It is quite easy to be secular once religious pressure is removed. We can look to many European countries to see evidence of that. But keep in mind that being a secularist does not require being an atheist. All that is required is keeping religion out of the public sphere (which is what most atheists want, btw). (3) Atheism has no principles of its own; it merely describes the lack of belief in a god. Of course, atheists have their own principles quite separate from their lack of belief, although they do tend towards humanism, rationalism, and skepticism of various stripes. But I've yet to come across a fellow atheist who, on the whole, cared much for the origins of events and institutions except as a matter of curiosity. However, we do tend to care about the present and the future, and that is where we put our focus. But as an aside, it should be noted that many positive things done in the name of religion were done despite religious teachings. Many great artists and composers, for example, who worked with religious themes (on commission, of course) are being discovered to have been non-believers.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02487990587362445908 Ash

    #8 (4) It's certainly true that any given atheist stands just as much of a chance of being hurtful and unjust as any theist. But a simple listing of historical atheists (google it) will show the large number who have contributed positively to the human state of affairs (and that far more theists have participated in projects of human misery, if we're just looking at numbers). Moreover, it is unclear how many atheists are moral relativists; I think the number is small. That stance is certainly not relegated to non-believers—many believers have promoted that view as well, often housed in humanities departments and liberal seminaries. Based on what I read in current atheist circles, the relativist position is certainly falling out of favor. It is being replaced by a kind of semi-objective morality grounded in what we're learning about human psychology and sociology. Further, any quick reading of popular atheist literature will show a complete absence of relativism; they are filled with unambiguous moral positions that are backed by both reason and compassion. (5) I actually don't know what it means to be a "whole-hearted" atheist. Again, atheism merely describes the lack of belief in a god. Either one believes or one does not. Few people on either side hold their positions with complete and unwavering conviction; and I would argue that holding anything with that much stubborn rigidity is a vice, not a virtue. But just as with believers, non-believers have a range of confidence in their views, from very secure to very weak. But it is true that many atheists are dedicated and passionate (if that is what you mean by "whole hearted") to their own worldviews. In this sense, there are certainly many whole-hearted humanists, skeptics, secularists, environmentalists, artists, feminists, and naturalists who also happen to be atheists. (6) I think I've already covered this one pretty well. Atheists who like to debate are usually invited to do so along with theistic debaters. It isn't atheists' fault if the invited theist isn't very good at debate. But even those who are, like D'Souza, still cannot avoid sounding somewhat foolish against a skilled atheist for one simple reason: it isn't because the atheist is necessarily smarter or more skilled, it is because theism is inherently irrational. This is why such debates default to the same position: "it requires faith," which signals the end of rational discourse. I do wish I had time to rebut several assertions you make in your last post. A lot of silly claims there, like "Solidarity is more supernatural than the Saints." Solidarity describes a community of shared responsibilities and interests, an entirely natural state that is a product of evolving as social creatures. You are free to interpret it as a gift from a god if you like, but science has done a fine job explaining it in naturalistic terms. I would also like to explain the different uses of the word "faith", which you seem to conflate into a single definition. And of course your always impressive twisting of my words, such as wrongly claiming I suggested that we "celebrate meaning as an end in itself", which is nonsense. That is why one poster accused you of the straw man fallacy; you tend to argue against positions you invent rather than anything that is actually asserted. Point in fact, this has been your general modus operandi, and it's a little frustrating. You seem like a nice enough guy and I've felt no animosity coming from you beyond some light contempt. You are clearly passionate about your beliefs, as irrational and erroneous as they are. If you are interested in future conversations like this, I recommend looking into things like logical fallacies, cognitive errors, and rational argumentation, if only to be able to speak the language. Sites to start with include: bit.ly/cni2qy, bit.ly/VOvm, and bit.ly/gdXcZJGood luck! I wish you peace and joy.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12679230722483582032 Marc

    Good, good man, you are so clearly correct within your own paradigm that I actually enjoy reading your responses; they flow logically and well. But your very paradigm is what needs turning upside down.You claim that the Christmas spirit of light and hope "is embodied in the myth of the birth of the messianic son (there were many besides Jesus, all of whom represent the Sun)", while from the Christian perspective it seems painfully obvious that, if there were such a thing as God, and He were indeed to come to earth, the world would be full of rumors of His coming, full of "many-besides-Jesus'". That the world would OF COURSE be full of versions of Christ, of myths of virgin births and legends of salvation. (And indeed it is). To borrow from Chesterton, you are claiming "that because a certain thing has impressed millions of different people as likely or necessary therefore it cannot be true" by your dismissal of Christmas and the story of Christ as nothing more than a continued festival of lights. You keep returning, with remarkable tenacity, to your point that holidays are really no more than elaborate summaries of the human condition. But I will keep returning – until you offer me evidence to the contrary – to the point that the very human condition would make no sense from an atheistic world-view. The human condition is one of being fallen. If there is no God, what have we fallen from? It is one of being imperfect. If there is no God, why do we have a sense of absolute perfection? It is of love, it is of sacrifice. If we are but enlightened animals, why, why, why do we do things no animal would be stupid enough to do? Why do we celebrate the active work against our very natures that, as you claimed, "are shaped by evolution" and thus by the survival of the fittest? Show me an animal herd that practices solidarity, and I will show you humans dressed as animals. Animals might have strength in numbers, but solidarity in human society includes the duty of the strong to care for the weak (which Nietzsche retched at), the recognition of "responsibilities", not of instincts, that drive us towards another thing that no animal has been shown to drive towards outside of Darwinism; progress. If we are "just another life form without any special meaning outsides of ourselves" why don't we behave that way?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12679230722483582032 Marc

    As for your "secular Europe is a great example of increased securalism" talk, the sad truth is that secularism is no more than a vacuum. A vacuum being filled with Islam.If morality is based on human psychology and sociology, than it as relative as those things. My psychology might tell me to sleep with my mother and kill my father, that I am really suppressing homoerotic tendencies and all the rest. If morality is based on this, can it not be ignored as easily as this? If it's based on society might we not ignore as easily as we promote individual rights over the good of society? Is your new " semi-objective morality" only objective sometimes? Or only objective for some certain things (for claerly the"semi" plays a role important enough to mention)? How is this different from being relative? This is "based on what [you] read in current atheist circles"? So morality is being created? Then what logical reason is there for it to remain? What reason is to be any more true, or any more objective, than anything else that's gone around in atheist circles, like the stationary universe theories so popular in the day? And saying that many atheist writers are morally dogmatic is no convincing point; I've been saying from the beginning that atheists are no good at living out the logical conclusions of their world view. One of which the Communists realized the best, "if God is not anything is permissible". So no, I haven't met an atheist yet with an objective morality. Even if he practices it rigidly, it is defined by him, and can thus be changed by the same.I reread what you said, and you are correct; I did twist your words. You said that holidays provide a sense of meaning, and I apologize for misreading it as celebrating meaning. You are that much more sensible in my eyes, which I'm sure completely validates your existence.You seem like a nice enough guy, clearly wavering between being passionate about the belief in nothing, to being unconcerned about the same. It must be tough to constantly assert a universal negative, and you have my sympathy, and a little bit of awe. If you insist on remaining an atheist, I recommend most highly that you look into evasive tactics, darwinistic augmentation, and a good defense for morality without God, as they will serve you well.May the wind close doors behind you, and it rain whenever you are in need of a bath.

  • Anonymous

    I am wholeheartedly a Christian. Jesus is the complete reason behind my existence. I'm Catholic, born and raised (though am a bit wary of the church due to its fear of liberation theology but that's another matter). This being said, I find I often side with atheists in debates of this nature. I perceive a great deal of arrogance in telling people that the underlying cause of everything they do is something due to a being of whose existence they deny. Atheists don't live their lives trying to spite God, trying to erase all signs of him–they don't feel required to avoid something they don't perceive to exist. Christianity is a part of history; they aren't denying that. To go along with culture and tradition is not to secretly acknowledge God's existence. I believe wholeheartedly that God is our creator (albeit through evolution–it's cool though, the Catholic church agrees with it), but here's the deal: faith is faith. Faith is not proof. To cite various human actions, accomplishments, holidays, and mess-ups (or "sins" as it were, depending on which side of the debate you stand) as proof for or against God's existence is stupid. Atheists typically still have faith, but a different sort. They generally (but not always!) have faith in their senses, in the functionality of their brain's perception of the world. Christians also do this as well, but they do not limit their ideas to the normal definition of "rationality".I recognize that when it comes to God, I cannot logically justify a lot (existence, omnipotence, omnipresence, Christ rising from the dead, etc). In fact, the Christian faith embraces all of these "divine mysteries"! This being said, why do we continue our attempts to justify the unjustifiable? It is futile. It will not convince atheists such as Ash, who has obviously heard good arguments for and against the existence of a higher power. To him and others like him I can only point to faith, that he in fact has placed trust in his senses without basis outside his own perception of the world (who's to say that you exist either? Okay, that's a little harsh. Who's to say that what you see, feel and hear is objectively happening?). After condensing the argument for/against God to the point that we acknowledge it can't be done, truly the only thing I have to argue is that just because faith in God is irrational it is not necessarily wrong, for atheists have irrational faith too (theirs is just more commonly accepted).If this opens atheists' minds to the possibility of the existence of God, great! However, Christians still cannot argue atheists into believing God. They can only show them there is possibility by atheists' own logic. Ultimately, the way to spread the word of Christ is by love. Besides refuting bad arguments against God, there's little else to do but to love the unbelievers to touch their hearts. And to all you internet debaters (I'm talking to YOU, Christians!), let's be real: living your theology is WAY more important than arguing it.Rita

  • http://prodigalnomore.wordpress.com/ Benjamin Baxter

    Rita: Respectfully, living the cure is nothing without defending it, but this is true also vice versa.

  • Anonymous

    I know by posting anonymously this post doesn't really carry much weight but eh whatever. I'm an atheist and former Catholic, and I wholeheartedly agree with what Ash has said in his posts. There is one thing that always gets me with most religious people. Most religious people (not all- I can't stress that enough) believe that the religion that they were raised or converted to is the only true religion. This faith as some would call it only appears to me as arrogance. I will make no claim here in this comment section that everyone should be an atheist, but I do think that all people should be open to the ideas of others.

    • http://www.namelessministries.com/ Starbuck

      I totally agree that people should be open to the ideas of others. However, if you are part of a belief system (atheism included), and you don’t believe that your belief system is the correct one…then why in the world would you subscribe to it?

  • Troy

    Ah, the D’souza- Hitchens debates. Those are gems.
    RIP, Hitch. You were my favorite almost atheist.

  • Jack

    Wow, you really strawman atheists. You want to know the reasoning behind most of this? We speak English, and are intelligent enough to not be so arrogant to coin new words because we don’t like the origins of the ones we’ve got. Congrats, your 2000 year old mass delusion had enough influence 1000 years ago to shape the language we speak today. And yes, we have the Catholics to thank for the reintroduction of education to Europe. But in a typically ethnocentric manner, you neglect to state that Education in western culture predates Christianity by 500 years, and was not “Invented” by Catholics.

    Also, Gulags? Really? Either you have no sense whatsoever, or now knowledge of modern history at all. Gulags were prisons. Holding athiests responsible for that is like holding Catholics responsible for the Halocaust. That is, completely nonsensical.

    Do you actually know any athiests that aren’t doing it to piss off their parents?

  • http://www.facebook.com/jmdomaniii John Doman

    Gulags were prison

  • Estragon

    Well written, and vigorously thought out, as always. But this time inherently sad. As someone who decided not to take in his/her parent’s theology like a pair of hand-me-down pants (long way around saying “a practicing atheist, if that’s a thing”), this kind of mud-slinging is always a bit discouraging.

    I’ve looked over a majority of your articles, at behest of my roman catholic roommate, and was always impressed with the rhetoric and the ability to make engaging philosophical arguments about love, sex, etc. Unfortunately this is not that. I personally find the people you mention the article, those atheists who try to browbeat all opposition (Any deist, really), more annoying and brazen then their creationist reciprocal. But for whatever reason you decided to subscribe to a similar mantra in this installment. Very little philosophy, interesting propositions and subject matter, and more YOU SAY “OH MY GOD” COLLOQUIALLY BECAUSE THE WORLD IS ORGANICALLY ECCLESIASTICAL. NOW YOU FEEL LIKE BIG STUPID HYPOCRITES, DON’TCHA? And that’s just not fair. Believing an entire group of people, however un-organized, view the world in the same way as the loud, obnoxious, youtube-savy ones, is unabashedly narrow-minded.

    Don’t be so ham-fisted and hostile to something you personally don’t believe in. From the other articles I’d like to think you’re better than that. Otherwise, keep at it.

  • Mike

    Apologies for coming late to the party, but I was recently pointed to one of your more recent posts and enjoyed it so much that I decided to look back in time and see what else you’d written.

    I very much enjoy your style and agree with just about everything you say in most of the posts I’ve read so far, but this one was disappointing. The original post was entertaining and good for a few chuckles, but as a bona fide argument it doesn’t stand up well.

    I’ve been in enough discussions with enough atheists to recognize that several of your statements in the post are oversimplified, misleading, or just plain wrong. The result is that reading this post and several sections of the back and forth with Ash in the comments upsets me. It upsets me in the same way that I get upset with Protestants who want to tell me why I’m wrong to be Catholic and begin by listing all manner of supposed “Catholic teachings” that never showed up in my 16 years of Catholic education and are nowhere to be found in the Catechism. My side of those arguments is generally “If Catholics actually believed what you think they believe, you’re right, Catholicism would be inherently wrong. Let me lend you my spare Catechism and you can learn what the Church actually teaches about that.”

    Now, I still think atheists are wrong, and I’m still willing to argue against them at least to the point of agnosticism. However, if you want to argue against an atheist’s beliefs, you should really start by learning what they actually believe.

    I’ll keep reading, but hopefully your other posts on atheism are good for more than just comedic value (not that comedy is bad, but it can on occasion also be informative).


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