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Why Worry About a God That Isn’t There?

What should atheists call themselves?

I get this a lot. “Why do you worry about something you don’t even think exists? Why call yourself an atheist?”

That’s a reasonable question. People with no God belief may not call themselves atheists for lots of reasons. Maybe they prefer another name like freethinker, skeptic, or agnostic. Maybe they want to focus on what they do believe in and so think of themselves as humanists or naturalists. Julia Sweeney prefers the label “naturalist,” to make someone who disagrees with her take the position a-naturalist. Maybe, as the cartoon suggests, not believing in God is as irrelevant to their lives as not believing in unicorns or Santa Claus.

But I do call myself an atheist. God belief impacts society in ways that unicorn belief or Santa belief never could. In the list of Christian excesses below, see if you agree that only religion—and not mere belief in mythical beings—could provoke these actions.

  • The Pope says that condoms shouldn’t be used in Africa to stop the spread of HIV.
  • U.S. preachers provoke death-penalty legislation for homosexuality in Uganda.
  • Some churches forbid birth control among their members.
  • Stem cell research is held up.
  • Young women are urged not to get the HPV vaccine that protects against cervical cancer.
  • In-vitro fertilization, which has brought four million children to parents unable to conceive, is attacked by the Catholic church.
  • Some Christians push for Creationism to be taught in science class, for Christian prayers to be said in public schools, and for the Ten Commandments to be displayed in courthouses.
  • Christian belief seems to be a requirement for public office, despite the fact that the Constitution makes clear that no religious test shall ever be required.
  • Prayer allows people to pretend that they’ve actually done something … so they no longer feel the need to get off the couch and actually do something.
  • William Lane Craig dismisses life on earth, the only life we know we have, as “the cramped and narrow foyer leading to the great hall of God’s eternity.”
  • Sex education in many schools is constrained by religion, not guided by best practices.
  • A mother tried to kill herself and her two children to avoid Harold Camping’s Armageddon. Others donated their life savings to Camping’s ministry to make themselves right with God.
  • Texas Republicans call for an end to teaching critical thinking in public schools.
  • Televangelists fleece gullible people.
  • Religion dismisses inconvenient truth. In a March 2012 poll of likely Republican voters in Alabama, 45% said that Obama is a Muslim (14% said Christian), and 60% did not believe in evolution (26% do accept evolution).
  • Prayer is great when you can put your burdens at the feet of Jesus, but not so great when nothing happens. Then you need to wonder what’s wrong with you that God isn’t answering. Mother Teresa wrote about her wavering faith, “[it makes me] suffer untold agony.”
  • African children have been killed or injured because someone supposed them to be witches.
  • And isn’t it enough that religion encourages belief in something that isn’t true?

If Christianity could work and play well with others, that would be great, and I’d find other activities to occupy my time. But it doesn’t.

This is why I call myself an atheist. Many of the alternate labels are also available to a Christian antagonist. Like me, they might call themselves freethinkers, skeptics, humanists, or agnostics. But they won’t call themselves atheists.

If you’re a Christian reading this, you may respond that your church doesn’t do this. In that case, agree with me! Agree that Christian excesses cross the line and must be kept in check.

Kill them all.
For the Lord knows them that are His.
— advice from church leader Arnaud Amalric (d. 1225)
to a soldier wondering how to distinguish friend from enemy

This is a modified version of a post that originally appeared 9/26/11.

Artwork credit: Mike Stanfill

About Bob Seidensticker
  • RandomFunction2

    To Bob the broken, yet fabulous atheist,

    I don’t think any of your charges applies to liberal Christians. If you want to be an atheist, you are supposed to argue against the whole spectrum of Christian theology, not just the stupidest and most harmful parts.

    • Bob Seidensticker

      In every post?

      In a post about Harold Camping, almost all Christians can agree with me that he has nothing to do with their beliefs. Westboro Baptist would be in the same category. But in a post arguing that God doesn’t exist, that hits everyone.

      I’m not sure if you’re suggesting a change of direction or not. Doesn’t it make sense that posts will vary in their target/focus?

      • RandomFunction2

        To Bob the broken, yet fabulous, atheist,

        I would agree that some points are relevant to all Christians, for instance the problem of evil, the problem of divine hiddenness or the problem of revelation. But you need a working definition of God to argue against it, and not all believers agree on what God means. The same holds true for revelation. For instance many Christians disagree with biblical inerrancy.

        I also notice that you resort to the classical atheist trick of lumping God with fantastic beings. Do unicorns give meaning to anyone’s life? Is Satan Claus experienced in the lives of millions normal people? Do fairies explain why the universe is rational and ordered?

        Think about it.

        • Kodie

          Why do you think god is different? And yes, millions of normal people are affected by (sic) Satan Claus. Unless you think children aren’t a normal kind of person.

        • Bob Seidensticker

          RF2:

          For instance many Christians disagree with biblical inerrancy.

          Understood. My only takeaway from this fact is to avoid sentences of the sort, “Since all Christians believe in biblical inerrancy …”

          Is there anything else I need to do?

          I also notice that you resort to the classical atheist trick of lumping God with fantastic beings. Do unicorns give meaning to anyone’s life? Is Satan Claus experienced in the lives of millions normal people? Do fairies explain why the universe is rational and ordered?

          I was stuck with the set {Santa, Tooth Fairy, Easter Bunny, God} because of the cartoon, but you’re right that I have myself put God into a set along with unicorns, etc.

          And though I haven’t yet, I might someday compare believers in various gods to supporters of many sports teams (there are plenty of Boston Red Sox fans, for example, who believe in God but are far more rabid about baseball than Christianity).

          Baseball obviously gives more meaning to the lives of some people than Jesus does. But even going to your example (God vs. unicorns), they’re both false beliefs. Is comparing them invalid? Sure, God belief is more central to the lives of some people than unicorns. This seems to be a red herring. God belief is really important to people, so therefore I should avoid doing … what?

        • Kodie

          You should of course avoid not deferring to the privileged believer’s beliefs and his right to have them devoid of criticism and comparison to other things it is obviously like!

        • Reginald Selkirk

          brokenrecord2: I also notice that you resort to the classical atheist trick of lumping God with fantastic beings. Do unicorns give meaning to anyone’s life? Is Satan Claus experienced in the lives of millions normal people? Do fairies explain why the universe is rational and ordered?

          We’ll wait here while you read up in the fallacy of ‘argument from consequences.’

        • Reginald Selkirk

          brokenrecord2: But you need a working definition of God to argue against it, and not all believers agree on what God means.

          Which in itself is an excellent argument against theism.

    • Reginald Selkirk

      brokenrecord2: I don’t think any of your charges applies to liberal Christians.

      The criticism of “liberal” theists is different. It includes the charge that they can read a list like that above, and still proclaim that belief without evidence (i.e. faith) is a virtue. It includes their admitting that the Bible is errant, and yet still choosing to belief the parts of it that make them warm and fuzzy. It includes mentioning that the degree to which they are rational and reasonable is the degree to which they are not religious.

  • Kodie

    I wonder what kind of world theists, particularly Christians in Christian majority country, live in.
    1. It’s the people. It’s not god that I’m “against,” it’s the people so affected by their beliefs that they intrude and interfere on others. I’m not against all the people every single second of every day – just when they want to parade their pathetic fairy tale beliefs as truth and get all hurt that some people think they’re kinda cuckoo, especially when laws are at stake. Some things are important, like reality – that affects everyone, so get with it or stand to be ridiculed, or at least keep it to yourself and get out of the way. Reality is not something you get to have your opinion about what dance we have to do in order to avoid god’s wrath.
    2. Liberal Christians! Y’all acknowledge there are 31 flavors of Christianity, so I wonder why it doesn’t bother you so much what the evangelists stick their neck out so far to achieve. If you’re being pushed around enough and told what to do, you tend to speak up against it. But all I ever hear is, “we’re not all like that.” “Why can’t atheists just let people believe what they want to believe! And shut up already!” I guess the same things about evangelists just don’t bother you about their interference in policy and radical things like praying for their children to be cured instead of giving them medicine, and you’d like to see them left alone to believe, and the changes they propose made? I mean, it seems so much like you’re fine with it. You may not believe as literally, you may not be as superstitious, but when it comes down to it, you’re more threatened by the myth of atheism coming to getcha, so that’s when I hear you speak up. You don’t seem too disturbed by the vigilante action against atheists and atheist efforts to organize and inform and secularize government.
    3. Plus, you believe a guy rose from the dead, you believe you are dirty sinners who were absolved by the waking dead thousands of years ago and get to go to someplace special after you die. Besides that symbolic gesture having no effect on what happens to you after you die, you think that’s what makes you a better person. That’s plenty to charge you with, since that’s mostly the kind of theist I encounter in my part of the world on a regular basis.

    In summary, liberal Christians bother me even more than evangelicals, sometimes or many times. They don’t try to take away rights? They don’t not try to take them away. They believe what they hear about atheism from church and family. To some extent, they take some parts of their religion dead serious enough, especially when someone makes an unqualified remark about Christians.

    Nobody cares!

  • DrewL

    Sounds like the bottom line is: Bob identifies as atheist because he has a savior complex.

    And a missionary zeal for spreading his beliefs to the masses.

    At some point I really believe you’ll get over your deep insecurity about your atheist beliefs and actually move on with your life. Many non-religious people have found ways to make meaningful contributions to society. Perhaps one day you’ll put this insecurity-driven savior complex behind you and go do more fulfilling things with your time.

    Or it’s not too soon to start reposting all your 2011 posts for a third time around.

    • Bob Seidensticker

      drewl:

      Sounds like the bottom line is: Bob identifies as atheist because he has a savior complex.

      Is any other interpretation even conceivable?

      At some point I really believe you’ll get over your deep insecurity about your atheist beliefs and actually move on with your life.

      “Move on” meaning what? You mean stop blogging?

      Is everyone who writes about atheism insecure, or is it just me?

      Many non-religious people have found ways to make meaningful contributions to society.

      Obviously. That’s not the subject.

      Or it’s not too soon to start reposting all your 2011 posts for a third time around.

      Or you could pick up the ball and create your own blog. Until that happy day, I don’t understand the logic behind whining that I’m not working hard enough.

    • Kodie

      Love to see you criticize Bob for having something going on, and all you got going on is griping about Bob.

    • J-Rex

      If blogging about something that interests you is pathetic, I can’t imagine how much more pathetic it is to hang around a blog that you find to be pathetic and make ad hominem remarks without addressing the actual argument. Don’t you have more fulfilling things to do with your time?

  • arkenaten

    I realize your blog is aimed primarily at Christians, Bob, but I find affording their god special status in as much as continually using a capital ‘G’ and not including an ‘a’ before the word God disconcerting.
    I feel it lends more credence to their deity than is warranted. In fact using the term God, as opposed to a god, imbibes the term with a sense of ‘personhood’. I’m not sure if this is the right term?
    Just an observation.

    • Bob Seidensticker

      I do avoid capitalizing pronouns (as in “Jesus gave His life”). But if “God” is the dude’s name, does it give undue reverence to capitalize it?

      To your point, I often come to a point where I could refer to “God” (implying that the only supernatural being worth considering is Yahweh) or “a god” (implying that all supernatural beings are on the table). I’ll often opt for choice 2.

      • Reginald Selkirk

        But if “God” is the dude’s name

        If you’re writing about the Judeo-Christian god, then you should use His proper name in order to avoid confusion. His proper name is “Jealous.” (Exodus 34:14)

        • Bob Seidensticker

          :)

  • ctcss

    Yawn. As usual, the main complaints you are making (as is often common with complaints by other non-believers) relate to the qualities of thought and action of others. Basically, you object to shallowness of thought in others, in unkindness in others, in lack of compassion in others, and a general lack of good neighborliness in others. So do most people. (I certainly do.)

    A great deal of the problems you cite are simply political in nature which boil down to abuse of the smaller by the larger. If people (all people) stopped engaging in (or wishing for the ability to retaliate by utilizing) the abuse of political power, most of us would be much happier. (A similar problem exists with regard to the abuse of social power, which makes people of lesser social standing subject to social/emotional abuse by those of greater social standing.) Another portion of your complaints deal with hypocrisy, where people who claim to be adherents of some particular methodology of living actually commit acts that are in opposition to the principles that they supposedly strongly espouse. This, while objectionable, isn’t usually a problem unless they also are people who are in a position to abuse their political or social power. The final, rather small portion of your complaints simply seems to boils down to mocking the fact that some people are interested in an area of life (religious thought and practice) that you do not find personally interesting or understandable.

    Christianity (as purportedly taught by Jesus) is not about the exercise of worldly power (political or social) over others. It teaches love for one’s neighbor, as well as love for those who might be considered to be one’s enemies. It demands that followers actually do that which is very likely to be personally uncomfortable or unfamiliar to them in their effort to gain a greater sense of what God’s viewpoint is concerning the same subject matter. If God (as Jesus purportedly stated) expresses love towards the evil and the unjust (as well as towards the good and the just), then we, if we expect to think, act, and live in like manner as God does, need to grapple with those very unfamiliar and uncomfortable ideas. Thus, a deeper level of understanding God is required (not just superficial or mindless following), and a great deal of humility is required in order for a follower of Jesus to obey this command to love others in the same way that Jesus did. Jesus had great compassion for the outcasts of society and those who were struggling with troubling problems of various kinds. His followers should be doing likewise.

    None of this is trivial to understand, to carry out, or espouses a motivation that is unloving or unkind. So your complaint is not about Christianity (as Jesus taught it) but rather is about the failure of people to actually follow Jesus as well as his followers actually should.

    So I agree that your complaints are valid complaints with regard to the fact that the actions that you are highlighting are not desirable. I just don’t consider them to be problems with Christian teaching as much as they are problems common to human frailty. Lack of deep thought and consideration, lack of kindness, abuse of power, and hypocrisy are found pretty much everywhere where humans are. If we combat those qualities of thought and action when we encounter them in human life, we will also be working to remove them from religious life. Because (at least as I understand it) they were never suppose to be part of Christian thought to begin with.

    • Kodie

      I just don’t consider them to be problems with Christian teaching as much as they are problems common to human frailty.

      I consider them to be problems stemming from adherence to irrational beliefs carried out in real life. Most of your post was referring to the theoretical Christian.

      • ctcss

        1. I addressed the problem of shallow thinking in my post. Rationality (thinking) is actually required by any serious follower of Jesus. He was constantly trying to get his disciples to think more deeply and perceptively about things. (Check out the gospels to see how he demanded reasoning from them.) You’re complaining about blind or shallow belief and the problems caused by doing so. I agree with you that attempting to follow a religious pathway without thinking about it humbly, deeply, lovingly, and seriously is not likely to be very helpful to the follower or to those whom the follower interacts with.

        2. I was not referring to a theoretical Christian but rather what it was that Jesus demanded that his followers actually attempt to do. You appear to simply be complaining about the people who claim to be following Christ but who are not actually putting very much effort into it, or who are actually pursuing a path at odds with it. (And sadly, this happens far too often. Human frailty is rather pervasive in all walks of life.) I addressed hypocrisy in my post as well. Christianity (at least as Jesus taught it) was actually rather specific and demanding. It was not some random collection of human actions that varied simply to suit the selfish personal wants and needs of whoever felt like calling themselves a Christian. He called on his followers to be selfless rather than selfish, and to help heal the hurts of those who are suffering. You surely can’t be complaining about such teachings.

        • Kodie

          You are basically again saying the same thing as “we’re not all like that”. Additionally, your approach is to call those type of Christians mentioned as non-serious and therefore doing it wrong. Well, duh. Welcome to the real world, where people like that leverage their beliefs to screw in everyone else’s lives and they’re not supposed to do that! Read again what I and others have had to say about liberal Christians and apply it to your version. Your reaction is to defend the righteousness of the right kind of Christianity (like all Christians do, in fact) and not to say how awful and how can we work together to restrain them and their purposeful “dilution” of the Word?

          No no no, your reaction is to stand up for your right to believe a fairy tale because you do it a certain way and we should have no complaints about your kind, shut up you doody-head atheists, you’re boring. You get no points for the respectability of your earnest beliefs if only because you decided it’s more important that we notice and respect them than to comprehend what this post is about.

        • Bob Seidensticker

          Kodie:

          I think you mentioned Sam Harris before? I like his concentric rings model, where liberal believers are on the outside ring and the crazies (Westboro Baptist, abortion clinic bombers, etc.) are in the center.

          The liberal Christians aren’t all that bad, but they say, “Hey–you need to leave alone the people in the next ring. Yeah, I know that they’re a little nutty, but they’re just practicing their religion.” And then those people say the same thing about the ones further in, and so on.

          But when the shoe’s on the other foot–when there’s extremism from Muslims, say–most Christians are quick to ask where the outrage is from the Muslim community. Shouldn’t the Muslims be policing their own religion?

          It’d be nice if the Christians pointed this thinking at themselves. Not only do they not attack their own (I can understand why, but still, those more-extreme Christians are making them look bad), but when atheists do it, they often whine about it.

          Sorry for the ramble …

        • Kodie

          A great deal of the problems you cite are simply political in nature which boil down to abuse of the smaller by the larger. If people (all people) stopped engaging in (or wishing for the ability to retaliate by utilizing) the abuse of political power, most of us would be much happier. (A similar problem exists with regard to the abuse of social power, which makes people of lesser social standing subject to social/emotional abuse by those of greater social standing.) Another portion of your complaints deal with hypocrisy, where people who claim to be adherents of some particular methodology of living actually commit acts that are in opposition to the principles that they supposedly strongly espouse. This, while objectionable, isn’t usually a problem unless they also are people who are in a position to abuse their political or social power.

          Here is where you deny behaviors in the real world have anything to do with how you practice Christianity (or how one must practice Christianity to do it correctly), and minimize the problem by using the word “if” and “unless” a lot. “If” people would just behave like the righteous Christian they’re supposed to (according to you), maybe we wouldn’t have anything to care about. Yes, theoretically, let’s ignore that there’s anything to worry about now, since we’re complaining about people who don’t practice Christianity the way you would have them do! Let’s solve problems by applying the right way to be a Christian to it, theoretically hoping they will see it’s them who has to change and stop bothering us magically. No one should step in, they are just hypocrites with too much power, that’s all! It’s only because they’re doing it wrong that’s the problem.

          This reaction is typical and predictable, does nothing to address any problems, and doesn’t win you any points for making it about you. You obviously care a lot more about being lumped in with those hypocrites to stand up for yourself. What else do you have going for yourself here that’s relevant to the topic?

        • Bob Seidensticker

          ctcss:

          Check out the gospels to see how he demanded reasoning from them.

          Is the NT consistent here? You could never cherry-pick verses to support the reverse argument?

          I agree with you that attempting to follow a religious pathway without thinking about it humbly, deeply, lovingly, and seriously is not likely to be very helpful to the follower or to those whom the follower interacts with.

          Are we using reason or not? If it is indeed reason (and not faith or gut instinct or something else), then what does humility and love have to do with it?

          the people who claim to be following Christ but who are not actually putting very much effort into it, or who are actually pursuing a path at odds with it.

          They’re pursing a path that’s at odds with it in your opinion. They say it’s one way, and you say it’s another way. Why imagine that you’ve got it all figured out?

    • Dorfl

      “As usual, the main complaints you are making (as is often common with complaints by other non-believers) relate to the qualities of thought and action of others.”

      Shouldn’t those things pretty much always be our main concerns?

      I care about what other people do. I care a little about the thoughts behind their actions, but if don’t know them personally it’s mostly because it gives me some sort of context that makes it possible for me to predict their future actions. How great the ideas behind their actions look on paper doesn’t interest me at all. Why would it?

  • Michael

    I call myself an atheist because I want it clearly understood that unlike most Christians (including most liberal Christians) I am not silly enough to believe Jesus walked on water and that dead bodies climbed out of the graves and walked around Jerusalem.
    [Matthew, chapters 14 & 27]

    • SparklingMoon

      I am not silly enough to believe …. that dead bodies climbed out of the graves and walked around Jerusalem.
      —————————————————————————————
      It states in the the Gospel of Matthew:
      ‘And the graves were opened, and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, and came out of the graves after his ( Jesus’) resurrection and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.’(Matthew 27:52.)
      There is not the slightest doubt that the story mentioned in the gospel, namely, that after the resurrection of Jesus the saints came out of the graves and appeared alive to many, is not based on historical fact. The accounts like these are of the nature of a vision, seen after the Crucifixion by some holy persons; that the dead saints had been brought back to life and had come to the city where they paid visits to the people. This vision also had to have an interpretation of its own; and this interpretation was that Jesus had not died on the Cross; that God had rescued him from death on the Cross.
      If the question were asked as to where from did I get this interpretation, the answer is that leading authorities on the art of interpretation so state it, and all interpreters have borne witness to it by their experience. I quote here from the interpretation of a leading ancient authority on the art of interpretation, i.e., the author of T’atirul-Anam. See Kitab T’atirul-Anam fi T’abirul-Manam by Qutbuz-Zaman Shaikh Abdul Ghani Al-Nablisi, page 289, which, translated, is that if anyone sees a dream or a vision, that the dead have come out of the graves and have made for their homes, the interpretation is that a prisoner would be released from his bondage, and that he would be rescued from the hands of his persecutors. The context shows that this prisoner would be a great and a high personage. Now, it would be noticed how this interpretation applies with reason to Jesus. One can readily understand that the dead saints having been brought to life appeared to be making for the city to point out this fact, so that the wise might know that Jesus had been saved from death on the Cross.” ( Jesus in India by Mirza Ghulam Ahmed)

      • Kodie

        So someone had a “vision” and “interpreted” it to mean something happened that did not literally happen and we’re supposed to respect that anyway? You would not listen to any other delusional persons would you?

        • SparklingMoon

          So someone had a “vision” and “interpreted” it to mean something happened that did not literally happen and we’re supposed to respect that anyway? 
          ———————————————————————————————————
          If the people and past prophets of Israel whose number is millions, had really been brought to life at the time of the Crucifixion and had come to the city alive, and if this miracle — that hundreds of prophets, and many hundred thousand of saints, were all brought to life at the same time — was really shown in proof of the truth and divinity of Jesus, the Jews had an excellent opportunity to inquire of the prophets brought back to life, and of the other saints, as well as their own deceased ancestors, whether Jesus who claimed to be God (according to the theory of Trinity of St.Paul) was really God or whether he had only lied.

          They must have inquired, not from one or two, but from thousands; and when the dead entered their respective houses there must have been great excitement in every house, for many hundred thousand of them had been restored to the world. In every house there must have been great talk, and everybody must have been questioning the dead as to whether they knew that the man who called himself Jesus, the Messiah, was really God. But, because the Jews did not believe in Jesus, as could be expected, nor did their hearts soften, rather did they become confirmed in their hard-heartedness, it appears probably that the dead did not speak a favourable word for him. They must have given without hesitation the reply that this man was making a false claim to Godhood, and was uttering a lie against God. That was why the Jews did not desist from mischief, in spite of hundreds of thousands of prophets and apostles being restored to life. Having ‘killed’ Jesus, they attempted to kill others.

        • Bob Seidensticker

          Moon:

          They must have inquired, not from one or two, but from thousands; and when the dead entered their respective houses there must have been great excitement in every house, for many hundred thousand of them had been restored to the world.

          How gullible are you? It’s just a story–perhaps “legend” would be more precise. Didn’t happen.

          When Matthew makes an incredible claim and other historians of the time don’t say a peep, that’s two reasons to doubt the claim.

      • Bob Seidensticker

        There is not the slightest doubt that the story mentioned in the gospel, namely, that after the resurrection of Jesus the saints came out of the graves and appeared alive to many, is not based on historical fact.

        Yeah. Agreed. But your salvaging the gospels by imagining that these were all visions does nothing to make an argument.

        As Kodie said, you wouldn’t accept this nonsensical thinking from someone else. Why should we accept it from you?

        leading authorities on the art of interpretation so state it

        And leading authorities in the art of Tarot reading also make claims, but they’re equally bogus.

        • SparklingMoon

          Yeah. Agreed. But your salvaging the gospels by imagining that these were all visions does nothing to make an argument.
          —————————————————————————————————————-
          How can one believe that hundreds of thousands of saints who, from the time of Adam up to the time of John the Baptist,had been lying in their graves in that blessed earth, should all be brought back to life? Such beliefs have a highly injurious and evil effect — the beliefs, namely, that one should say that these hundreds of thousands of dead persons, or any dead person before that time, had been brought back to life by Jesus.

          Would that instead of truly human beings brought to life, some animal had been declared to have been restored to life! It would then have solved many difficulties. For example,if it had been said that Jesus had brought back to life several thousand bullocks, it would have been ‘reasonable’ enough,and, if in this case there had been raised the objection as to what the evidence of these dead animals had led to, one could have immediately answered that they were bullocks — they had no tongue to give favourable or unfavourable evidence! The dead, however, which Jesus brought back to life were human beings.

          In short, ordinary people, endowed with little intellect, are pleased with such ‘miracles’ but the wise become the target of other people’s criticism and are thus worried over it. They are put to shame before those to whom such silly stories are being related.(Jesus in India by Mirza Ghulam Ahmed)

        • Bob Seidensticker

          How can one believe that hundreds of thousands of saints who, from the time of Adam up to the time of John the Baptist,had been lying in their graves in that blessed earth, should all be brought back to life?

          How indeed? And I don’t believe it.

          Are you just going to spout theology and copy stuff, or are you going to actually make an argument?

  • ROGER

    Can’t some1 just don’t believe without having a reason? Think about that.

    • Bob Seidensticker

      Yeah, I’m thinking about it, and it makes no sense. If you’re convinced that something is true, (1) you believe it, and (2) you have reasons to (that are compelling to you). I see no way to have one without the other.

      An exercise for the reader: believe in leprechauns for no good reason.

  • smrnda

    The extent to which I’m willing to identify as anti-anything has to do with the level of harm it might cause. I have no reason to be ‘anti-unicorn’ since this belief is both rare, and if it existed, would probably not cause that much harm.

    But aside from religious beliefs, there’s other sorts of nonsense. I know people who are into Tarot cards; I think they are obviously ridiculous, but so far, I haven’t seen anybody ruin their lives with Tarot cards, and I don’t know anybody who really bases too many life decisions on them, so they’re not (to me) causing much harm. On the other hand, a belief in ‘holistic medicine’ and ‘natural healing’ might cause people to die of totally preventable diseases, so I’d be more adamant in fighting such a belief.

    Understandably though (another issue) every Christian I talk to assures me that the other Christians have it wrong, and aren’t following Jesus at all. The problem is too many different groups of people with conflicting and incompatible beliefs are all saying the same thing, and most of them can cobble together some sort of defense of their beliefs from the gospels, so who do I count as authentic?

  • IB Bill

    Atheism leaves you, ultimately, in Adams’ Total Perspective Vortex. Pushing back against Christianity gives life some structure and meaning, sort of vicariously holding on to the order of theism. It’s like Eliot’s theory of myth — it’s a structuring mechanism, a way of ordering reality.

    In the case of anti-Christian atheists, they get to remain engaged with Christianity without believing in it and they get to hold onto the reality-structuring elements of it.

    Give it up — go embrace the void. You never know what you’ll find. Buddhists will tell you you’ll find everything there.

    • Bob Seidensticker

      Why would an atheist want to hold on to the reality of Christianity? Because they have no reality of their own?

      A godless view of reality doesn’t need to lean against another worldview to stand up.

    • Kodie

      Pushing back against Christianity gives life some structure and meaning, sort of vicariously holding on to the order of theism.

      So basically you don’t mind lunatics either? Good for you, I’m proud of you.

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