Do You Really Believe That? (IV)

The Zombie Saints

According to all three of the New Testament’s Synoptic gospels, miracles attended Jesus’ death: a mysterious midday darkness over all the land and the veil of the Jewish temple torn in half. (The Gospel of John omits these miracles, differing with the Synoptics in this point as in others.) However, there’s one miracle that only one gospel records.

“And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, and came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.”

—Matthew 27:52-53

It’s amazing that more attention isn’t paid to this, considering it arguably qualifies as the most incredible miracle in the Bible. Miracles like Jesus’ healings were small, local in scope, easily missed or overlooked by those who weren’t actually present. Old Testament miracles like Noah’s flood or the fall of the walls of Jericho, dramatic as they would have been, could theoretically have been attributed to some confluence of natural forces.

But this, if it had really happened, could not possibly be explained except as the result of a purposeful intelligence with the power to suspend natural law breaking into history. No natural event can raise the dead, much less explain why only Christian believers would be raised and not others. And the sheer scope of the miracle – a mass resurrection from the dead, witnessed by the entire population of Jerusalem! – would rule out trickery and ensure that no one could possibly have overlooked it.

Yet, as I said, nowhere else in the Bible is this event referenced. None of the other gospel authors know about it. None of the New Testament epistles mention it. Even the Gospel of Matthew itself seems curiously uninterested in this stupendous miracle – it writes it off with the few curt lines quoted above and then never refers to it again. And, of course, no historians of the time record it. I’m not even aware of any church fathers or early apologists claiming that this had actually happened. As with the twelve apostles, the resurrected saints get only this one brief, shadowy reference and then disappear from history.

Neither the gospels nor the Book of Acts have any follow-up information on the fate of the resurrected individuals. Did they die again naturally, did they ascend to heaven, did they disappear from the earth? Did they become evangelists? Did they found any churches? Did they write any books or letters? Did they have first-hand knowledge of the afterlife that they were willing to recount? How could they not have been followed everywhere they went by eager, desperate crowds wanting to know the answers to these and many other questions?

If this resurrection had really happened, it would be the most famous and best-known event in all of human history. As I wrote in “Choking on the Camel“:

Events such as these create historians. To assume that not a single person who witnessed these monumental events would have felt compelled to write them down, or that no one bothered to preserve those records if they had, violates all standards of credulity…. if they really happened, [they] would have left a vivid imprint on humanity’s collective memory and would have produced a flood of awed and astonished records. To suggest that the succeeding generation simply let all memory of them disappear crosses the line from unbelievable to absurd.

In light of the extreme implausibility of such an incredible event happening and then being immediately and completely forgotten, there’s only one reasonable conclusion: the resurrection of the saints never happened. It’s a complete fabrication, invented by the author of Matthew as a rhetorical flourish. But if the gospel authors were willing to make up details – especially details that could so easily have been checked, even in ancient times – then we must ask what else they might have made up. As much as believers may dispute this conclusion, the alternative is untenable. This biblical tall tale is too obviously a fiction, and so I ask: do you really believe that?

Other posts in this series:

About Adam Lee

Adam Lee is an atheist writer and speaker living in New York City. His new novel, Broken Ring, is available in paperback and e-book. Read his full bio, or follow him on Twitter.

  • John

    This is one ‘miracle’ that I’ve always had a major problem with. I never understood how Christians could believe something like this, especially when no contemporary historian of that period even makes mention of the undead rising and walking about. Those Christians that I have talked to about this, usually the family, aren’t even aware that it’s in their ‘sacred’ text. Shows just how much some individuals pay attention to the details.

  • OMGF

    Maybe the zombies ate the brains of all the eye-witnesses, thus ensuring that no one would tell the tale?

  • Tomas S

    For waht it’s worth, the two Christians at work I asked about this knew exactly what I was talking about and almost knew chapter and verse.

  • Brock

    My own experience is that I first was made aware of this by reading Paine’s “Age of Reason.” I was a recent deconvert from Christianity, and prided myself on my knowledge of Scripture. I was completely astonished, and my first reactiion was that Paine had, incredibly, made up the reference. I had to go to the Bible and look, and there it was, in a gospel I had read several times, and I couldn’t remember ever reading this passage. This was the most egregious example of a tendency that I saw increasing evidence of as I progressed in my study of the Bible as an atheist–that I as a believer had regularly ignored or justified obvious discrepancies and inanities such as this. I can only hope that my ability to read critically has improved since then.

  • http://anexerciseinfutility.blogspot.com Tommy

    Matthew could not be referring to Christian “saints”, as technically there were no Christians until after the “resurrection” of Christ. So it is puzzling to me as to who exactly these “saints” were supposed to be.

    It is pretty much acknowledged that Mark predates Matthew, and that Matthew has a lot of fantastical elements thrown into it that Mark lacks. Examples are the Three Wise men, the lineage connecting Jesus to David, the massacre of the innocents, and the verse that Adam has made the subject of this post.

    One theory I have is that since Mark was written earlier than Matthew, it was written for a local audience in Judaea, whereas Matthew was written for an audience that was geographically further away from the events described therein. People who lived close in time and proximity to the events written in Mark would have been in a better position, if you pardon my language, to call bullshit on Mark (or whoever wrote Mark). For instance, the resurrection story in Mark pretty much ends with the women finding the empty tomb. If Mark had written the story so that the resurrection was some spectacular event witnessed by many, it would have been possible for some would be Christians to go to Jerusalem and check the story out for themselves. But a story ending with an empty tomb and a resurrection witnessed by no one would leave skeptics nowhere to go. How do you investigate an empty tomb?

    Now Matthew, as I mentioned above, contains fantastical elements that Mark lacks. However, because Matthew was working off of Mark, he could not significantly change what was already there. So, for the resurrection, he had to work with the Mark story as best as he could. But Matthew added things to the story that people living further away, and possibly after the Roman-Jewish War of the late 60′s to 70 CE, would not be in a position to investigate. So Matthew throws in the temple being rent open and the dead saints waking up and appearing to many.

    After the passage of three to four decades and the siege of Jerusalem, who would be in a position to fact check Matthew? The temple was destroyed. And who in Jerusalem would be alive to remember the crucifixion of a Jesus of Nazareth? So, I would argue that Matthew embellished the story of Mark because with his diasporan audience, he was able to get away with it. At least that is how I see it thus far.

  • lpetrich

    The recent Salon interview with John Haught, The atheist delusion, features him having a truly bizarre perspective on a related event, Jesus Christ’s resurrection, a perspective that may apply here also.

    What do you make of the miracles in the Bible — most importantly, the Resurrection? Do you think that happened in the literal sense?

    I don’t think theology is being responsible if it ever takes anything with completely literal understanding. What we have in the New Testament is a story that’s trying to awaken us to trust that our lives make sense, that in the end, everything works out for the best. In a pre-scientific age, this is done in a way in which unlettered and scientifically illiterate people can be challenged by this Resurrection. But if you ask me whether a scientific experiment could verify the Resurrection, I would say such an event is entirely too important to be subjected to a method which is devoid of all religious meaning.

    So if a camera was at the Resurrection, it would have recorded nothing?

    If you had a camera in the upper room when the disciples came together after the death and Resurrection of Jesus, we would not see it. I’m not the only one to say this. Even conservative Catholic theologians say that. Faith means taking the risk of being vulnerable and opening your heart to that which is most important. We trivialize the whole meaning of the Resurrection when we start asking, Is it scientifically verifiable? Science is simply not equipped to deal with the dimensions of purposefulness, love, compassion, forgiveness — all the feelings and experiences that accompanied the early community’s belief that Jesus is still alive. Science is simply not equipped to deal with that. We have to learn to read the universe at different levels. That means we have to overcome literalism not just in the Christian or Jewish or Islamic interpretations of scripture but also in the scientific exploration of the universe. There are levels of depth in the cosmos that science simply cannot reach by itself.

    He also says some nonsensical things about atheism, like how atheism leads to nihilism, claiming how the likes of Nietzsche, Camus, and Sartre were supposedly “consistent” atheists.

    Finally, PZ skewered it in Theological inanity, as have some other bloggers.

  • OMGF

    Haught sounds like he’s explicitly admitting that faith is believing in that which just isn’t so. And, he’s one of those that Dennett describes as believing in religion, that even though he might not believe the fanstactic claims of his religion, he believes that his religion is a force for good. Hopefully, someone will ask him how it’s good for a woman to drown her kids to get the demons out of them because his and her god told her to do it.

  • Tim

    “Do You Really Believe That” is by far my favorite series.

  • minna

    I always assumed the resurrection referred to the actual ghost of Jesus returning to his loved ones. I am a recovering Catholic and I think it is important to remember Jesus may well have walked the Earth after his death just as today some see the dead walking and communicate with them. Even in third grade I assumed they meant literally but the intellect of our adults could not admit that to the children. When you look at the mediums on TV and read about psychic abilities, why is it so impossible that Jesus was just a ghost or spirit? I thought that is where the holy ghost came in to the trinity. It was only the adults around me that thought it meant that really Jesus resurrected and appeared to his apostles and he was the only one that could do that. Not if you pay attention to today’s mediums. Now it is said to have happened all through history.

  • http://www.daylightatheism.org/ Ebonmuse

    Minna, with all due respect, the people who claim they can communicate with the dead are obvious frauds.

  • OMGF

    I would also add that if there are lots of dead people walking around and communicating with the living, then Jesus’s resurrection is nothing special, even though Xians tend to view it as a cornerstone of their religion.

  • DamienSansBlog

    I would also also add that Jesus specifically denies he is “just a ghost or a spirit” in John 20:25-28 (the story of Doubting Thomas) and in Luke 24:36-43 (the story where he eats with the apostles, saying “It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.”)

    …and with good reason, since according to Jewish law at the time, anybody caught summoning ghosts and demons was supposed to be stoned to death. (“Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live”, etc.) Which I imagine would have had a negative impact on the spread of Christianity thereafter.

  • minna

    Hey, I am only suggesting that in my third grade Catholic teaching, I was very young but still believed Jesus was a ghost. I thought, obviously silly now, I know, that the Trinity explains this spirit. I only thought it as a little girl trying to figure out what the truth behind the stories were.

    Besides, there are other referrences about the dead, like when Jesus rose Lazerus from the dead. Didn’t he get in trouble and stoned to death for that claim?

    I do not believe in mediums either. I just wonder why it can be so popular now when it was not even possible then….even if it is all bull. Someone makes these claims.

    In the lost scrolls didn’t Jesus explain that the dead walk the earth all the time, but we just can not see them?

    I never claimed to be educated. I am just entering a conversation that I probably have no business. I never studied. My only claim is having doubts my entire life about what the adults, priests, nuns and the bible have presented to me in the form of the Catholic Religion.

    It was all TOO convenient for Catholics to site FAITH as a virtue. I was very small when I decided this meant that FAITH is a way of saying “buy into crap because WE tell you to.”

  • OMGF

    I never claimed to be educated. I am just entering a conversation that I probably have no business. I never studied.

    Don’t worry, there’s no pre-requisite for being able to post here. If your posts are unclear or inaccurate, you get the comments that you got. It’s not unusual and not personal.

    It was all TOO convenient for Catholics to site FAITH as a virtue. I was very small when I decided this meant that FAITH is a way of saying “buy into crap because WE tell you to.”

    I think you’ll find that’s pretty much par for the course for any religion. The only question in my mind is whether the people peddling the crap previously bought into it or know it’s crap. I think you can probably find examples of both if you look hard enough.

  • Alex Weaver

    I never claimed to be educated.

    Please don’t take this the wrong way, but the above is correctable. I highly recommend it.

  • minna

    OMGF
    THAT is it…I always wondered if the elders (lack of better term!) did buy into the crap or if they knew it was crap. That is what bothered me. I was hoping that someone…anyone…would admit it was crap. No, at the time, I was in quite a state demanding my mother tell me if she believed it all. I wanted her to answer me. It was the day they explained the Annunciation. I went home armed with questions for my mom on whether this story of the Angel Gabriel telling Mary she would have a child although she was still a virgin. Even at that young age I thought it must be a translation mistake from a word that meant young girl or something. So I demand in a screeching voice that my mother tell me the truth. I was sick of bull and I wanted to know. My sweet mother just smiled and said, “many believe it to be.” Well does that mean NO? She never did answer me. Did she believe it or not. Now I know she did not as she gave up religion 20 years ago.
    Thanks for letting me rant and connect.

  • Thumpalumpacus

    I used to communicate with the dead all the time, but I finally tired of being ignored.

  • terrence

    Minna, don’t you dare stop posting or commenting. This and other blogs are among other things a path to education. Hope to hear from you again.

    –Fellow recovering Catholic.

  • Jeff T.

    One of your essay’s really opened my eyes. In it was an argument that questioned the common opinion that faith is positive thing. Faith rooted in the superstitious beliefs and tales of primitive nomads is probably not positive. I can almost understand neanderthals barking at the moon but to see people still barking at it several thousand years later makes me wonder if faith is a bit overrated.

    When I was a believer, I must have subconciously glossed over this particular verse because I could not remember reading it prior to this blog entry. I found the story of Lazarus to be hard enough to believe (and very disturbing if you consider all of the implications of a literal translation). My mind probably just ignored this verse so that I could keep raising my hands and swaying back in forth in blissful song with all the other believers.

  • velkyn

    Haught’s quote “But if you ask me whether a scientific experiment could verify the Resurrection, I would say such an event is entirely too important to be subjected to a method which is devoid of all religious meaning.” seems to forget that even writing has no “religous meaning”. How dare anyone even write about the Resurrection. What a marroon, to paraphrase Bugs Bunny.

  • TheMightyThor

    minna, There is nothing wrong per se, with a lack of education. We are ALL ignorant of something ( since NO ONE knows it all). That is why we are here. Ebonmuse does such a great job of informing us and also illuminating the things which many of us knew, but could not phrase it as well as he did. He is also great at letting others have their say as well and I have learned so much from him and the other referrents. (Ebonmuse, thanks for the greta christina link; that has been a jewel!) You have already shown great wisdom in acknowledging that you don’t know certain things, but you have made the best step by questioning the beliefs that all of your elders tried to instill within your young, vulnerable mind. Please stay tuned.

    TheMightyThor

  • minna

    Why do believers think that blind faith is a positive thing? I can not get over that arrogance. I know I feel somewhat absoltuely arrogant about my lack of belief, I had been told at a young age that the educated and wealthy don’t need religion. My mom, who is also now a recovering catholic, told me this when I asked her why “those people” are so rightious and think that they are better than everyone else. She said that the people with the means to make their life better do not feel the need to worship. That they have opportunities and simply don’t believe that praying for something will bring it on. She said the uneducated and poor need to believe their prayers will be answered. I thought about this for years before I decided there must be some truth to it. I just know that in my little life, I become very disappointed in someone when I think I admire them only to find out later that they are dissappointed in me because I am a non-believer. It is not easy to reveal my true beliefs to people. I rarely do. I have found that the religious use many defense mechanisms when faced with an atheist. Denial being the most common, many that I meet are just plain superior in their minds, unable to understand my need NOT to believe in a superior being.

    They usually site having a purpose as the reason to believe. I have a purpose, I don’t think life is without purpose if I don’t have God to render it. My purpose is fulfilling and I take credit for it. Why do the religious have to give credit for their lives to another being? Can’t they take credit for all the good and bad in their lives? I do. So…tell me….does the supposition that the uneducated and desolate believe in God more than the wealthy and educated have any validity, or is it just a explanation my mother came up with?

  • OMGF

    So…tell me….does the supposition that the uneducated and desolate believe in God more than the wealthy and educated have any validity, or is it just a explanation my mother came up with?

    I think there’s some truth to that. When you are wealthy, you need god’s help less than when you are poor. Also, religion has traditionally been used by the upper-class to keep the poor in line. “Don’t worry about not having anything now, because you will have rewards in heaven.” It’s cheap rhetoric, but it works surprisingly well.

    Now, I do have a disagreement with the statement that the poor “need” to believe their prayers will be answered. They don’t need it, they just think they need it. What they really need is not to believe in prayers that will go unanswered, but the ability to do something to lift themselves up.

  • Dutch

    All this discussion is fine untill one realizes The Bible is spiritual and describes spiritual events and is written in parable. As George Fox wrote some 3 hundred years ago, Christ’s second coming will be in man. So guess where His first coming was? Guess where He died? Guess where His ressurection ocurred and will occur?

    Facts I know, as opposed to believe are: 1) we have just entered the third day(one thousand years is as one day) 2) The Earth as we know it is hell, grave, pit. 3) Christ’s body(us) was laid in a grave. 4) Christ rose(will rise) on the third day.

    Things I do not know for sure but strongly believe are; 1) the meaning of life is to know good and evil. 2) All of mankind and all living things past present and future will share memories of life(or more accurately death) in the pit(earth). 3) about a thousand years from now, at the fullness of Christ’s Ressurection, people on earth will have overcome their selfishness(I admit to my selfish nature) and truly learned to love one another.(think what that implies)

    Well my atheist friends, we will meet in a place and time beyond my and your understanding – then we will know. Untill then, enjoy your stay in the pit.

    dutch

  • OMGF

    If the Bible is spiritual and written in parable, then does that mean that all parts are written in parable, or just some? If it’s just some, how do you decide which are parable and which aren’t? If it is all, then how do you come to such definite time scales? How do you figure that you can even take the Bible for anything, since you’re claiming that Jesus has not actually risen from the dead…yet? Do you celebrate Easter? What evidence do you have that anything you’ve just said has any basis in reality? That should get you started.

  • KShep

    Dutch:

    Facts I know, as opposed to believe are: 1) we have just entered the third day(one thousand years is as one day) 2) The Earth as we know it is hell, grave, pit. 3) Christ’s body(us) was laid in a grave. 4) Christ rose(will rise) on the third day.

    Have any evidence to back those claims? This would be a great start as well.

    Another question: haven’t believers been predicting the second coming for a couple thousand years now? All those predictions have been wrong, yet they keep coming.

    Any day now, any day…..

    Minna—-you rock, and I hope you feel comfortable here. I suppose I wouldn’t qualify as ‘educated,’ either, since I never attended college, but I’ve learned a great deal by living life—raising two girls will do that to a guy—-and keeping my mind open.

    I’ve also learned much here, from Ebonmuse as well as all the regulars.

    We’re a happy bunch! :^)

  • Dutch

    LOL “That should get you started.”

    First question, yes, I believe that the Bible is written entirely in parable, but I do not know for sure. There might have been writings included that pertain to ancient Israel that are historically accurate, but I doubt this. My personal wisdom and understanding are a work in progress as is mankinds’. Remembering that time is relative, Christ is risen and Christ will rise are one and the same event. The Bible states “a day with God are as a thousand years, and a thousand years are as one day.” That is one reason for the time scales.

    The “evidence” I have is personal and unbelievable by most, with the exception of the little church I go to. You will laugh, but that is OK. My personal evidence is the dreams I know are sent. Dreams so vivid and witnessed as to defy all human logic. Sure I know everybody has dreams so I will be laughed at. When you study The Bible, you will understand that dreams are the way God communicates. Study Jacob’s Ladder and you will see that it is the dream that he sanctified as the gateway to heaven.

    So now that you think I am lunatic, I will throw you and others a challenge.
    Surely there are some supposed atheists that have a bit of doubt of their religion, and I call atheism a religion because it cannot disprove the existence of God. Anyway, for those few that read this blog, try asking God if what I say is true. Even if you do not believe in Him, He may well send you a powerful dream and start you in studying His Word. Trust me when I say the dream will be powerfull. You will probably think of it as the power of suggestion – nothing could be farther from the truth.

    I would be interested in any replies on those who are rocked enough, especially those who have had two or more witnesses in their dream. These would be two men or women standing on the edges of the dream.

    Take care, Dutch

    I found the movie “The Matrix” rather interesting.

  • KShep

    Dutch:

    Surely there are some supposed atheists that have a bit of doubt of their religion…

    Let’s make one thing perfectly clear: atheism is NOT a religion. It makes no assertions positive or negative; it only asks for evidence of the claims of theists.

    …and I call atheism a religion because it cannot disprove the existence of God.

    Sorry, atheists aren’t beholden to prove or disprove anything—we’re not the ones making a positive claim; theists are. You claim there’s a god (a positive claim) without any evidence to support your claim (or, in your case, it’s “personal” and therefore exempt from scrutiny). We all would love to hear your evidence if it exists. Make no mistake, we all would immediately agree there’s a god if there were any evidence to support his existence–that evidence hasn’t shown up for over 2000 years.

    How about it?

  • OMGF

    First question, yes, I believe that the Bible is written entirely in parable, but I do not know for sure. There might have been writings included that pertain to ancient Israel that are historically accurate, but I doubt this. My personal wisdom and understanding are a work in progress as is mankinds’. Remembering that time is relative, Christ is risen and Christ will rise are one and the same event. The Bible states “a day with God are as a thousand years, and a thousand years are as one day.” That is one reason for the time scales.

    If it’s all parable, then why would one day not equal ten thousand years, or ten years or any number of years? The parable would be that god’s time is not the same as our time. To take it literally that one day equals 1000 years is to move beyond the parable.

    The “evidence” I have is personal and unbelievable by most, with the exception of the little church I go to. You will laugh, but that is OK. My personal evidence is the dreams I know are sent.

    I suggest you do some research into dreams then.

    Surely there are some supposed atheists that have a bit of doubt of their religion, and I call atheism a religion because it cannot disprove the existence of God.

    What KShep said. If everything should be believed until disproven, then we should all believe in all manner of gods. I suppose that you only believe in Yahweh, so why don’t you believe in Allah? Have you disproven Allah? Have you disproven Vishnu, Thor, Baal, the Flying Spaghetti Monster, Russell’s floating teapot, etc?

    Anyway, for those few that read this blog, try asking God if what I say is true.

    Why do you assume that no one here has tried to talk to god? There is a whole thread from a couple weeks ago filled with stories from commenters on this blog, conversion stories. See, the vast majority of us grew up believing in a god, specifically the Xian god. So, your challenge doesn’t really work, since we all have already tried to talk to god and haven’t found anything there.

  • Friday

    Witness…in a dream?

    So you are asking us to believe that your experience has been independently verified by spirits of persons who have entered your mind whilst you slept?

    And further, that if we were to dream such a thing ourselves we should also accept it as such?

    I put it to you – why should anyone accept one particular dream as being real and others not? Because it purports to come from God? Because someone told you ‘If you pray really hard you might have a dream about God’ and then you did?

    To simply have a dream is not the power of suggestion – to have a particular dream after you received a description of it (by reading or talking to someone) certainly is suggestion.

    No sir I dont think too many people here think you are some kind of loon – I would argue you are simply investing more into your dreams than you should be. What are you going to do if you have a bad curry one night and your next dream is God commanding you to do something that would make news headlines – for all the wrong reasons?

    Now THAT, Mister Dutch, would make you a lunatic.

  • DamienSansBlog

    Hey, I am only suggesting that in my third grade Catholic teaching, I was very young but still believed Jesus was a ghost. I thought, obviously silly now, I know, that the Trinity explains this spirit. I only thought it as a little girl trying to figure out what the truth behind the stories were.

    Totally gotcha. Sorry if I sounded smug in my post.

  • DamienSansBlog

    I would be interested in any replies on those who are rocked enough, especially those who have had two or more witnesses in their dream. These would be two men or women standing on the edges of the dream.

    What exactly does “the edges of the dream” mean? And why only two?

    I found the movie “The Matrix” rather interesting.

    I’ll see your non sequitur, and raise you an allegory: Neo first learned to separate dream and reality, and eventually learned to master his dreams and change them as he saw fit.

  • Dutch

    Dear KShep, Friday, DamienSansBlog, OMGF

    Hey, at least we have something to talk about, and I am glad in a nonvenomous way.

    Of course I didn’t expect you to believe in the power of dreams, mainstream ministers also mock me/us let alone nonbelievers. It’s OK. The witnesses in the dream are off to the side within the dream observing the actions going on in the dream.

    To someone else, I have been in many Christian faiths, I have attended a Bhuddist Meditation center, and studied a little of Hindu and Islam. Always searching, but not untill I stumbled into a Bible Study group of this last and final church did I really begin to understand. I know many of you were brought up with some Christian teaching, and I can’t say as I blame you for turning into atheists. If you take The Bible literally, it simply falls apart.

    To someone else, how can you not claim atheism as some sort of belief? I have read quite a bit on sub-atomic physics – it fascinates me. To understand that the universe came about from the “Big Bang” is awe inspiring. Before time, energy and matter there was a relatively tiny area full of subatomic particles(quarks, etc). No atoms or molecules. All of a sudden voila a “Big Bang” and we first get the forming of elctrons, protons, and nuetrons which then get togethor and form Hydrogen and subsequent heavier elements. Then come molecules and through evolution lasting billions of years we get man, all this through pure chance? No God or “intelligent design?” And you say it is not faith because you are not making a claim. I propose your claim is exactly your stated fact; “There is no God.” That is a claim I nor anyone else, at this time cannot dispute, but it is a claim nonetheless.

    I wish you all the best of luck, Dutch

    By the way, Leon Lederman’s book “The God Particle” is a very good, nonreligous, interesting book. I am currently reading a book “Einstein and Religion.”

  • OMGF

    Dutch,
    Thanks for being a good sport.

    To someone else, how can you not claim atheism as some sort of belief?

    Is bald a hair color? Is not collecting stamps a hobby?

    Then come molecules and through evolution lasting billions of years we get man, all this through pure chance? No God or “intelligent design?”

    There is no evidence for god or intelligent design causing or guiding any of what you described, so why should I make a claim that god had no part in it when there’s no indication that he did. It’s up to you to support your claim that god did have a hand in it.

    And you say it is not faith because you are not making a claim. I propose your claim is exactly your stated fact; “There is no God.” That is a claim I nor anyone else, at this time cannot dispute, but it is a claim nonetheless.

    Once again, no it is not. You say god exists, I say prove it. If you can not prove it, I am perfectly rational in not accepting your claim. To ask you to prove your claim does not entail that I make a claim of my own. The universe doesn’t need to appeal to a god in order to function as far as we can tell. If you wish to add an unnecessary layer, then it is up to you to show why it is necessary (Occam’s Razor) else we should not regard it as worthy of consideration.

    To put it another way. No one is saying, “There is no god.” We are saying that there is no evidence for god, so there is no reason to believe in god; i.e. we don’t and won’t believe in god unless someone gives us a reason to. This is distinct from stating that we have evidence that there is no god and believe so. Please stop beating this drum, because you are simply incorrect in your assertions.

  • KShep

    To someone else, how can you not claim atheism as some sort of belief?

    That someone else would be me. Atheism is NOT a belief—it is a LACK of belief in a god or gods. It really is that simple.

    It does not claim “there is no god,” as you mistakenly put it. Rather, it says, “theists claim there is a god, but they have no evidence to support that claim.” It makes no claim of any kind. As James Randi put it: If atheism is a religion, then NOT collecting stamps is a hobby.

    I have read quite a bit on sub-atomic physics – it fascinates me……..Then come molecules and through evolution lasting billions of years we get man, all this through pure chance? No God or “intelligent design?”

    No one (except theists who continually mis-state the theory of evolution) has ever said life happened “by chance.” Life developed through the process of natural selection, essentially “the strong will survive” in the simplest of terms.

    By the way—-”intelligent design” is just creationism—its proponents were caught changing the title of “creationism” to “ID” in the early drafts of their “textbook” they were trying to force kids to study.

  • http://www.daylightatheism.org/ Ebonmuse

    …its proponents were caught changing the title of “creationism” to “ID” in the early drafts of their “textbook” they were trying to force kids to study.

    Complete with its own transitional fossil: “cdesign proponentsists“. :)

  • KShep

    Heh—-that’s pretty damn funny!

  • Tomas S

    What convinced me that “atheism” is not a religion is that “theism” is not a religion. Atheism can be part of a religious belief, just as theism can be, but atheism and theism are not religions in and of themselves.

  • Dutch

    “And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, and came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.”

    This article is about the above quote from The Bible. The author assumes this incident must have happened on earth as we know it – wrong! It is natural to believe that as the Christian world also believes it was an actual event on good ole temporal earth. It is difficult indeed to let go of time. Time is relevant, and “the holy city” is not our Jerusalem as we know it, but rather the “bride of Christ,”(us)

    Oh, forget it, I digress, and it would take a lot of Biblical proof and much writing to explain the precepts of this one quote in The Bible.

    To Tomas, You state; “”atheism” is not a religion.” I for one say if it looks like a religion and acts like a religion then it must be a religion. Right down to wonderfull barbecue gatherings of like minded people, persecution of of other faiths.(see article on this website regarding a sign on a church in New York) Like other religions past, present and future, it’s my way or the highway. None of you can honestly say, “I know there is no God,” not even Einstein would make that bold statement. Simply put, theism is faith, atheism, hopefully will simply say “I don’t know,” but to state, “I know,” would be disingenuous. To know is to have absolute proof of no God. To state “I believe there is no God” is more honest, but then it becomes a faith. God is not in a realm where we can study Him by approved scientific methods or by our own understanding.

    So, this article, and it’s attempt to try and make sense of this quote by using the authors understanding of things written in The Bible, is all vain.

    One question, why does this website concentrate on Christianity? Yes, Christians, in the name of God, have done many terrible deeds, but, how about other religions, especially in the past 100 years.

    Damien, you’re a funny guy – you must be a poker player :)

    OMGF, Tomas, KShep thanks for the decent, and at times, thought-provoking replies. I quit going to “Christian” bloggs because they call me “Satan” because in some way they feel I am ruining their Christmas by taking the birth and death of Christ out of our realm. Thanks again, may God be with you all :) Dutch

  • OMGF

    The author assumes this incident must have happened on earth as we know it – wrong!

    Actually, I believe the author assumes that this didn’t happen and that the Bible writer made it up.

    It is natural to believe that as the Christian world also believes it was an actual event on good ole temporal earth.

    The implication of the plain words is that it did happen here. Else, how would the author know that it happened?

    I for one say if it looks like a religion and acts like a religion then it must be a religion. Right down to wonderfull barbecue gatherings of like minded people, persecution of of other faiths.(see article on this website regarding a sign on a church in New York)

    What persecution? Please give examples. And, atheists have bbq’s, so what? Other hobby-ists get together in groups as well. Are they practicing religion?

    Perhaps it would help if you gave a defintion of religion. Then, we could compare what atheism is and what atheists do to the definition and see how well it aligns with Xianity and Xians? To deny your beliefs, however, doesn’t mean that I’m practicing beliefs of my own.

    Simply put, theism is faith, atheism, hopefully will simply say “I don’t know,” but to state, “I know,” would be disingenuous. To know is to have absolute proof of no God. To state “I believe there is no God” is more honest, but then it becomes a faith. God is not in a realm where we can study Him by approved scientific methods or by our own understanding.

    I know that no compelling evidence of god has ever been presented to me, therefore I feel no need to believe in god. I do not categorically state that there is no god, but I don’t see a need to unnecessarily add god to the equation, since there is no evidence for this god and the universe seems to get on quite well without god. But, no one here is saying that they know 100% that there is no god. You are making strawmen arguments here. Your conception of what an atheist is and says is quite frankly wrong. So, will you listen to us and get the information directly from us and correct your misapprehensions, or will you continue to believe that you know what we think better than we do?

    So, this article, and it’s attempt to try and make sense of this quote by using the authors understanding of things written in The Bible, is all vain.

    Why is it in vain, because it doesn’t conform to what you believe the Bible says? Words have meanings and books written (especially ones supposedly written by divine entities) have meanings as well. If we are in vain to search for that meaning, then what good is the Bible at all?

    One question, why does this website concentrate on Christianity? Yes, Christians, in the name of God, have done many terrible deeds, but, how about other religions, especially in the past 100 years.

    Not to speak for Ebon, but it’s most likely because he lives in a culture that is overwhelmingly Xian. No one is saying that other religions are not responsible for terrible deeds. That would be absurd, especially with the current unrest in the Middle East. Ebon does, however, make lots of point not just to Xianity, but to faith in general, and how faith and belief in things that lack proof can have deleterious effects on society.

    OMGF, Tomas, KShep thanks for the decent, and at times, thought-provoking replies.

    If you deal fairly here and are really seeking to have a fair minded give and take, I think you’ll find it here.

  • Tomas S

    To Tomas, You state; “”atheism” is not a religion.” I for one say if it looks like a religion and acts like a religion then it must be a religion. Right down to wonderfull barbecue gatherings of like minded people, persecution of of other faiths.

    I’ll try again. “Atheism” is not a religion, just as “transubstantiation” is not a religion. You may find many people who believe in transubstantiation all at the same barbacue, and you may find many atheists all together at another barbacue. That doesn’t make either one a religion.

    If you were to say “Tomas S does have a religion and his religion is atheistic”, I would agree. I still say that “atheism” BY ITSELF is not a religion. It’s not a point worth fighting for, though.

    Of course, if you were to quote Psalm 14:1a to my face, I wouldn’t rest till you also quoted 14:1b, but that’s another story. :-)

    None of you can honestly say, “I know there is no God,”

    In this same way, I also cannot honestly say “I know that there is a Japan” or “I know that Carbon’s atomic number i 6.” I say them all, however, with a fairly high degree of certainty. God, if He exists, is so hard to find that he may as well not exist for my purposes.

  • http://www.daylightatheism.org/ Ebonmuse

    The author assumes this incident must have happened on earth as we know it – wrong! It is natural to believe that as the Christian world also believes it was an actual event on good ole temporal earth. It is difficult indeed to let go of time. Time is relevant, and “the holy city” is not our Jerusalem as we know it, but rather the “bride of Christ,”(us)

    Dutch, you appear to be freely inventing new theological doctrines as you go along in order to rescue the Bible from falsification when it tells obviously false stories like this one. Like all religious apologists, you begin with the assumption that the text must be true, but permit yourself unlimited latitude to give tortured reinterpretations, tack on additional loopholes and qualifiers, and invent new meanings for words as it suits you.

    I’m going to have to decline your invitation to participate in that pointless game. It’s not my purpose to argue against every esoteric doctrine invented by every individual with an idiosyncratic notion of God. Rather, I’m arguing against the dogmas of Christianity and other religions as they are believed and practiced by the vast majority of followers of those religions. I don’t have the time or, frankly, the interest to debunk every sect of one that’s out there.

  • Christopher

    To Dutch,

    When you said that Atheism is a religion, this would be true if it made the positive claim that “there’s no ‘god’” and then organized into an entity to spread this dogma to the masses. However, Atheism is simply the lack of a “god” belief: in my case, it’s based on the fact that I have no means with which to even define such an entity – because the idea of “god” lacks any objective ontology, I have no concept of “god” and am thus unable to believe in such an entity.

    Could there be something out there that we may be able to ascribe the title of a “god” to? Possibly… Then again, there is also a possibility that there is an intangible parrot that circles my head at the speed of light as well. So seeing how there is as much objective evidence for a “god” as there is for the aforementioned intangible parrot, it’s best to opperate under the assumption that niether exist.

  • Dutch

    OK, OK Ebonmuse, I concede you do not have the time or inclination to “argue with every esoteric doctrine invented by every individual.”

    I just looked at Wikipedia’s definition af atheism – not that I necessarily believe everything I read, but it did shed some light on the general confusion on just what it means to different people.

    One of my atheist customers passed away after a long battle with a serious illness. A very nice man I might add. He knew he was checking out, but accepted that with a peacefull heart. I liked him a lot and never attempted to “convert” him, but we had a few discussions about politics, the universe, and religion.

    No, Ebonmuse, this isn’t my spin on The Bible, but I accept you believe so.

    Here then I will part with a couple of Bible verses that make no sense, I have many other verses that are so easy to , as this site is prone to expose.

    Gen 2:17 But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.
    Gen 5:5 And all the days that Adam lived were nine hundred and thirty years: and he died.

    Gee, Adam lived 930 years after God promised his death the day he ate of the tree.

    2Pe 3:8 But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.

    Just wanted to tell you, that this knowledge does not come from “my interpration” of The Bible, but rather The Bible interprets itself. I never ever look to Bible commentaries, or other opinions, but through dilligent study and prayer with a sincere heart.

    As atheists, I think you might be at an advantage later in life, as you appear to have no opinion on God. You are not married to believe anything said or written about His Word – not quite virgins, but similar.

    My best, Dutch(Zombie Saint) :)

  • http://www.daylightatheism.org/ Ebonmuse

    Just wanted to tell you, that this knowledge does not come from “my interpration” of The Bible, but rather The Bible interprets itself.

    Please don’t insult our intelligence by telling us that. The Bible is not a magic book that supernaturally tells its readers how it’s meant to be understood. Simple reason refutes that: if what you say were the case, then all Christian sects worldwide would have the same understanding and interpretation of biblical teaching. Obviously, nothing could be further from the truth. Unless you’re claiming that you are the first Christian ever to understand how the Bible is really supposed to be read – and if you are, then what’s so special about you?

    Like every book, the Bible is a collection of ideas that must be read and interpreted by human beings – nothing more, nothing less. Necessarily, that process of interpretation will be shaped and guided by the beliefs and ideas of the human beings who read it. Of course, every single sect wants us to believe that theirs and theirs alone is the one true interpretation, pure of bias or prejudice. So far, however, none of them can produce any evidence to prove that.

  • DamienSansBlog

    Dutch, thanks for the compliment. (Assuming it is a compliment; it’s got a smiley in, after all.)

    Shame about those Christian blogs you visited.

  • Dutch

    Damien – it is a compliment, after all, you and others have replied and stated things in a gentlemanly way.

    Ebonmuse – I am not insulting your intelligence, The Bible indeed needs to be studied using the Bible as it’s own interpretation. The lack of this is exactly why we have all those “Christian sects.” In years past, while being a member of a local Baptist Church, I could never reconcile all the glaring problems of The Bible, nor the lame efforts of the minister to explain away the many discrepencies contained in The Bible. Ever since(about 8 years ago) I found this new and more excellent way of studying The Bible, I have come to truly understand the meaning of life, and it’s absolutely awesome, stunning and mind blowing, and I and others have just scratched the surface.

    Of course, you will not believe this, so I’ll try to limit my replies to the article at hand. I was born and raised a catholic, became either an atheist or agnostic,(I love(d) science), and am now a Christian believer, but a Christianity not many have heard of, and yes fairly new(10 years)

    Do you not see the progression of mankind? As violent as things are, we are nonetheless less violent than years ago. Since I know we have one thousand years left, this progression will have to accelerate. Sadly, I think there will be more violence first. But in the end,
    1Co 15:28 And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all.

    I would hope, since in most ways I am trying to reply to the arguments stated in this initial article, that I am at least on track as to what it is that the comments section is trying to achieve. If all this author desires is to cut The Bible to pieces with no discent and only wants backslapping, yeah-yeah comments, then indeed I will move on.

    I hope all have enjoyed The Christian Holidays ;) Dutch

  • Friday

    “Of course, you will not believe this”
    Why would we not believe it? If such claims are not an insult to one’s intelligence – then exactly what is?

    “Do you not see the progression of mankind? As violent as things are, we are nonetheless less violent than years ago.”
    In terms of the level of violence prevalent in our world, that is debatable.
    How many people died when Rome invaded Europe, compared with when Hitler invaded?

    More people have died in the last century from war, than in all recorded history before it.

  • lpetrich

    Dutch:
    The Bible indeed needs to be studied using the Bible as it’s own interpretation.

    Me:
    How does one use the Bible as its own interpretation? Could you please explain to us how that works? And show us some worked example of your method.

    The lack of this is exactly why we have all those “Christian sects.”

    What makes you so sure of that? Have you checked on every one of them? Or even a reasonably representative sample of them? And what makes you think that you are not as mistaken as all the others?

    As our host says, “Unless you’re claiming that you are the first Christian ever to understand how the Bible is really supposed to be read – and if you are, then what’s so special about you?”

  • Dutch

    Actually, I and the very small group of our teeny church may well be among the first to know The Bible in this way. I know this is arrogent, but I mean it in a most humble way. George Fox seems to have gotten some of it about 300 years ago. He communed with William Penn who is considered the founder of the Quaker Church.

    As far as using the Bible to help to interpret and understand it more deeply, this is a must; it’s why I only use The King James version. The KJV is a word for word translation from Hebrew and Greek texts. No interpretation was allowed. In the more “modern” versions some of the parable was lost due to someone’s interpretation of what a particular verse means.

    Interpretation is done through phrases such as “is, as is, is as, is like, like unto,” etc.
    In The Parable of the Sower, Jesus says, “Do you not understand this parable? How then will you know other parables”(paraphrased) On example from this parable, Jesus says the seed is the wword of God. Now throughout The Bible you may use the word “seed” as meaning “Word of God.” One additional interpretation is that clouds = man, Christ’s second coming, as The Bible says, will be in clouds. By the way if someone should say “go to hell,” I would tell them, I am already there and God is also. This is clearly stated in Psalms.

    Ok, OK, enough of that. If what I say is true, and I know it as truth, then any attack on The Bible by atheists and others is easily dismissed as a lack of understanding, and please don’t take offense. The attacks on our church are more vitriolic by Christians than non Christians, furthermore, attacks, personal or against our church, mean nothing with the sure knowledge that we’ll all get there.
    The world and the universe at large is indeed interconnected.

    As more people get this, there will be a day when we can put our petty selfish desires asside and help the rest of humanity who need help. Can you imagine our well known billionaires living in simple houses, driving simple cars, and donating what they don’t need to help suffering people throughout the world. And not only the rich, but the poor also, who can donate what is not essential, especially time to help the needy in other ways. Will oneday mankind be able to acces the power of the spiritual(unseen) and actually heal illness through thought alone? I don’t know. The healings in the Bible are spiritual no physical, but perhaps the manifestation in this plane can be physical.

    Oh geez, my excitement is showing. I’ll stop, but not before thanking Ebonmuse and others for being gracious. I just realized Ebonmuse is the owner of this website and he has been most kind. I believe you are actually helping others by making them think for themselves. If you desire, I can give you countless examples from The Bible that don’t add-up. To get you started, here is one I could never understand – key on the words “them” and “their.”

    Gen 5:2 Male and female created he them; and blessed them, and called their name Adam, in the day when they were created.

    One more thing, I see German atheists are forming a “church, complete with support groups”

    As I said earlier, “If it looks like a religion and acts like a religion.”

    Thank you all and have a great day, Dutch

  • KShep

    Dutch:

    As I said earlier, “If it looks like a religion and acts like a religion.”

    Where do you see atheism looking and acting like a religion? Just because some atheists have organized doesn’t mean it’s a religion. I have yet to encounter any atheist leader or spokesman who:

    demands strict adherence to any doctrine of belief (or non-belief) without evidence;

    shouts down any dissenting voices as being a member of the enemy camp (I.E. the devil);

    uses the writings in old, idiosyncratic books as justification for acts of terrorism, discrimination, misogyny, genocide, etc. too numerous to mention here;

    enriches himself at the expense of the poorest of the poor without any conscious thought about it (think about it—no one would be able to pull off the crap that Pat Robertson does without using religion as a means to accomplish it).

    These are just a few things I can think of for a minute that are the hallmarks of organized religion—I’m sure other regulars here can think of more.

    Atheism commits none of these despicable acts.

    Where you see any similarities is beyond me.

  • Dutch

    If a belief in a deity is religion, what then is the belief in no existence of a deity? As I have mentioned before, faith in a God is, well, is just that, a faith because the existence of God cannot be shown. Why cannot a believer ask an atheist; show me that there is no God, and again you can’t, morover, as I stated before, I don’t believe an atheist can say, “I know there is no God.” He may say “I don’t believe a God exists,” that would be what any atheist scientist would have to reply. I know this is nitpicking and has been gone over before.

    Here then is why it looks like a religion:

    From wired.com – “we are called out, we fence-sitters, and told to help exorcise this debilitating curse: the curse of faith.”
    “Three writers have sounded this call to arms. They are Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and Daniel Dennett. A few months ago, I set out to talk with them. I wanted to find out what it would mean to enlist in the war against faith”

    and this is somewhat scary – “How much do we regard children as being the property of their parents?” Dawkins asks. “It’s one thing to say people should be free to believe whatever they like, but should they be free to impose their beliefs on their children? Is there something to be said for society stepping in? What about bringing up children to believe manifest falsehoods?”

    from jeffallbright.net – “In a hotel ballroom next door to a reptile expo, Mike Sullivan flashed a beatific smile and welcomed fellow atheists to the Sunday morning service at the “Holy-day” Inn.”
    “Like Protestants and Catholics, this like-minded fellowship meets on the Sabbath. The church provides Sunday school for children and publishes a monthly bulletin with church news and upcoming social events (Games Night, Movie Night) and a miscellaneous column titled “God-Free Potpourri.”

    Well, perhaps most on this blogg do not consider atheism as a faith, and I think it pointless to continue that debate. Whether it is or not, really doesn’t matter.

    Shall we keep score on this debate by using Google? I Google searched atheist and Google came up with 13.9 million hits, the Christian search came up with 423 million hits; it would appear atheists have some work to do ;)

    Another thing that is good is that the more the events portrayed in The Bible are shown as to never have happened the better it will be. It’s simply impossible to explain The Bible carnally, and the ridiculous and clumsy efforts by the Christian clergy to explain The Bible make them look totally stupid. I don’t believe most church going people have the faith they claim to have. Why pray to God for a miracle cure for brother so and so who is dying of cancer – do they not realize what awaits him? The divorce rate among Christians is the same as secular society. This is why, perhaps you are helping out. Make the Christian world re-evaluate how they pray and how they study the Bible. I just hope it doesn’t come to taking chidren away from households because the parents are teaching them Christian doctrine.

    By the way, another family has moved to our area just to be in our church. We are near Chicago, and this is the third family to move here from California. Others have moved from other far away places, leaving family and friends just to be with like minded Christians; I find that inspiring.

    And, I find this sight full of sincere, thought provoking people

    I mean that, Dutch

  • KShep

    Here we go again:

    If a belief in a deity is religion, what then is the belief in no existence of a deity?

    This is the last time I’m going to point this out to you. Please read what I write. Atheism is NOT BELIEF. It is a LACK of belief. Myself and others have repeatedly pointed this out to you. I can’t understand why you are having such a difficult time grasping this. No one here or anywhere else I know of has stated, “I know there is no god,” even though you have clearly suggested we have. The fact is there has never arisen any evidence that supports the existence of a god or gods. Without evidence, I won’t believe. LACK of belief, get it?

    Well, perhaps most on this blogg do not consider atheism as a faith,

    Correct. Faith requires someone to BELIEVE something. Atheists lack belief without evidence.

    Shall we keep score on this debate by using Google? I Google searched atheist and Google came up with 13.9 million hits, the Christian search came up with 423 million hits; it would appear atheists have some work to do ;)

    No one considers this a competition, so no scorekeeping is necessary. Just because more people believe in something without evidence does not mean it’s true.

  • Dutch

    OK, OK, point taken and understood – will not bring the belief thing up again, I promise.

    I have read a few of the articles on this sight and others, and if I see another attempt at ridiculing a passage from the Bible, I will attempt to show how a carnal interpretation is all wrong. At least I have some clarification from this dialogue as to how atheists think.

    There must be quite a diversity amongst you. Some atheist websites are quite….hatefull. There is diversity in different faiths as well. It seems a bit strange why Islam, of all religions isn’t picked on by atheists. The Islamic republic of America is much more likely than a Christian Republic. Well over a hundred ancient churches have been destroyed in Kosovo and Macedonia.

    Anyway, good night to all, Dutch

  • Jim Baerg

    “It seems a bit strange why Islam, of all religions isn’t picked on by atheists. ”

    I think an atheist will most likely ‘pick on’ the religion that is most common where s/he lives or lived. The atheists who can speak out without getting murdered live in non-Muslim countries.

    That said, Sam Harris in _The End of Faith_ condemned Islam more harshly than other religions & there are ex-Muslims such as Ibn Warraq & Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who denounce many aspects of Islam.

  • Judy

    On the topic of discussion:

    I was astonished to read this bible verse, and to see that it ends there. What on Earth …???

    I think I’m going to show this to my mother (a die-hard Christian) to hear what her interpretation of it is. Where the bible, god, religion are concerned, she has an answer for everything (snark). I will report back what she says.

  • lpetrich

    If our Founding Fathers had wanted a state church, they would have set one up. And why didn’t they bang the Bible at every opportunity they had? Like fill the Constitution with Bible quotes?

    Instead, they often admired ancient Greece and Rome; the writer of the Federalist Papers even used the name of an early Roman Republic politician, Publius, as his pseudonym.

  • http://nesoo.wordpress.com/ Nes

    It seems a bit strange why Islam, of all religions isn’t picked on by atheists. [sic]

    Seems to me that someone hasn’t looked very hard. A very brief search on this site alone reveals, at the least, this post, this post, part of this post, and this post. There’s also at least one article on the parent site addressing Islam.

  • Tomas S

    I have a question for KShep (and others.) Why does it matter if someone wants to insist (on faith?) that “Atheism is a religion”? I’m convinced that it’s not, but ultimately it’s a question of defintions. Why quibble on this point when there are so many other more important points? Why not include a link to a well written response to this point (like the one on atheism.about.com) and move on?

  • Mrnaglfar

    Tomas,

    It matters to me because it’s balantly false, and because I enjoy having these kinds of discussions with people. Just means it’s another thing for me to clear up to them; after all I can still debate their other ideas too.

  • Tomas S

    So… debate for debate’s sake?

    I’d rather focus on points with more substance. If you convince them that Atheism is not a religion, what have we gained? Will they become more tolerant of you? More accepting? More likely to deconvert? Less likely to tell jokes about you to your face that they wouldn’t even think about telling about Hindus or Catholics? Less likely to think you eat babies?

  • Mrnaglfar

    Debate for the sake of pleasure, for personal growth of my own thought, for expansion of other’s ideas, and for correcting falsehoods.

    If you need an example of what it could improve, it could improve their definition of the world religion. Atheism is a religion when the word ‘religion’ stops meaning anything. It puts atheism and theism on equal footing, and this is not the case. It’s not a sudden deconverstion process, it’s a step by step process.

  • Dutch

    Hi Judy,

    My wife’s name is Judy. I see you’re “astonished” at the Bible verse, the topic of this article. Well I am partially here to help atheists and give them a Bible verse here and there that don’t seem to add up, or for some “astonishing.”

    I’ll leave out Revelation as that book is very obviously difficult, and is meant for Christians on a diet of meat.

    This verse is on of my favorites -
    Jdg 9:8 The trees went forth on a time to anoint a king over them; and they said unto the olive tree, Reign thou over us.
    Jdg 9:9 But the olive tree said unto them, Should I leave my fatness, wherewith by me they honour God and man, and go to be promoted over the trees?

    Talking trees, the writer must have seen “Lord of the Rings,” or perhaps “The Wizard of Oz.”

    TomasS, I agree, the faith discussion has been beat to death. I thought that it lost it’s significance, but it may be a more important point than it seems. I don’t know.
    Perhaps it can be an argument that hey, atheism is a faith just like mine, then why are atheists insisting on asserting their religion on me. I don’t agree with that last assertion, but it could be an argument for the future especially if some of the more radical atheists insist on the following(taken from an atheist website)oh shucks, I can’t remeber the website. But it said children should be removed from homes that teach children false doctrine – that bit is sad.

    I am a Christian, and I believe there are strong arguments for evolution, no problem here. The Bible is not literal, never was never will be. Anyway, I have many Bible verses that can be used to rip The Bible, but I think that the stronger the atheist movement gets, the stronger our little group will get. I absolutely agree with keeping religous symbols out of the public square, but do not take my children from me.

    Wishing you the best, Dutch

  • OMGF

    Perhaps it can be an argument that hey, atheism is a faith just like mine, then why are atheists insisting on asserting their religion on me.

    That’s part of it. It’s a cheap rhetorical device used to put atheism and theism on equal metaphysical grounds. It’s also an argument to reduce the rationality of atheism to a simple belief that has the same probability as any other theistic belief. IOW, if I can assert that the atheist simply believes then she is acting irrationally, so all the atheists’ talk to rational thinking is rebutted and there’s no reason to choose their irrationality over mine. That’s why it matters.

  • Judy

    To Dutch:

    Just how does it “help” us atheists to give us “Bible verses that don’t add up”? That would defeat the purpose of trying to get us to believe, wouldn’t it, which I think is what you’re trying to do? None of the bible “adds up” as far as I’m concerned, whether one chooses to interpret it literally or figuratively. Let me put it to you like this:

    If god exists, and desires for me, as his creation/property, to know what he/it needs me to know about life and how to live it, I would like to think he/it, if not willing/able to speak directly to me, would give me a document/book written in the language that I speak and understand, and which makes complete and utter sense, not something filled with a bunch of myths, allegories, murder, evil (including his/its own evil acts) and histories of people that happened long before my time and have nothing to do with me, tells me of the deeds of a specially-born “savior” who is not alive now in my time to help me, and which at the end proceeds to scare the sh** out of me with tales of some magnificent war between good and evil in which most people will die and go to hell, people who didn’t ask to be born/created and are simply living on instinct. Tell me the truth! Don’t give me an ancient document, written in an old language I can barely understand (thee! thou! – good grief) and expect me to wade through it and apply it to my life! Why would god want to witness/endure the confusion that reigns down here over this?

    We can live lives wherein we hear about/witness all manner of evil, but we can’t withstand hearing directly from god, something which should be good?

    At any rate, I did show these verses to my mother (the unswerving believer), and this is her interpretation: The saints that arose from the dead were people such as Isaiah and Elijah (perhaps not them exactly, but “saints” and “prophets” like them), and more than likely they probably just went on up to heaven with Jesus. Her guess is that whoever translated it (the King James version) simply neglected to include the verses that explained what happened to these “arisen” saints and prophets.

    Just about what I expected her to say.

  • KShep

    Tomas;

    I have a question for KShep (and others.) Why does it matter if someone wants to insist (on faith?)……

    Because we can’t have a debate at all if one side continually mis-represents (or, more charitably, misunderstands) the other side. The discussion continually runs in circles when theists just keep saying, “well, you have your faith and I have mine…” (or something to that effect). You want to give the theist some insight as to our way of thinking, and when you try to expand on the basics (i.e. “atheism isn’t a religion”), you can’t because the theist can’t get past that point. So you have to keep returning there and try.

    In case you didn’t notice, Dutch repeated his understanding that atheism is a religion at least three times after it was patiently explained to him that it isn’t. He seemed genuinely curious about the nature of atheism, yet he repeatedly misunderstood (or just ignored) the explanations given him. That’s what drew my last (and most firm) explanation to him. I really don’t care to have someone else tell me what I’m thinking, especially when I’ve already told them.

    I have a wife for that. :^)

  • Dutch

    Do not be bitter Judy, you will believe what you will believe, and I know in advance what I say about my faith will not change your mind – basically that is human nature. I would be naiive indeed to believe that by posting at an atheist site, I could convert some lost souls. You see, God doesn’t care if we’re mother Theresa or Hitler, both are in heaven. What would your mom say to that?

    Initially I came here to tell the atheists here that the Bible depicts the spiritual realm. Any attempt to poke fun at passages of the Bible that are “inaccurate” are in vain. Some will probably say that it is an attempt to counter atheist arguments, but that is simply not true. Our church never speaks about atheists, it is not important, rather we get toghethor, pray and mostly study The Bible. Each person must build his own house, and on that vain we never study someones opinion on the Bible ie, Bible commentaries.

    You said, “Just how does it “help” us atheists to give us “Bible verses that don’t add up”? That would defeat the purpose of trying to get us to believe, wouldn’t it, which I think is what you’re trying to do?”

    No Judy, quite the opposite. It is my hope that you use these passages to so thoroughly debunk The Bible that Christians really start studying The Bible, and really start to pray with a pure heart. For like many here, I believe there is a lot of phoniness in the theist world. The paradox is, that as atheists gain strength, so will the Christian faith, maybe not in numbers initially, but in spiritual strength, untill Christ is ressurected.

    Tell your mom, to keep the faith, and ask her who/what Christs’ Body is and where His body was laid,

    Yours from the grave, Dutch

    ps, it’s easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle if it is greased.

  • OMGF

    You see, God doesn’t care if we’re mother Theresa or Hitler, both are in heaven.

    You believe in universal reconciliation I take it, or do you think that all Xians go to heaven?

    No Judy, quite the opposite. It is my hope that you use these passages to so thoroughly debunk The Bible that Christians really start studying The Bible, and really start to pray with a pure heart.

    That’s counter-intuitive you’ve gotta admit. If the Bible is debunked, then it would seem to hold no truth to it, so why would someone go back and study it harder?

  • Mrnaglfar

    Dutch,

    More to the point, if the bible is debunked what is the point of the bible in the first place?.

    If you have to read it symbolically you’re only going to read your own beliefs into it.

  • Judy

    Dutch, my mom would say you’re an a** for believing Hitler is in heaven – after all, he slaughtered millions of the very people god supposedly favors. And if Hitler doesn’t go to the hell you religionists think god’s got waiting for us, nobody should. And by the way, I’m going to tell my mom to take her butt to the doctor to get help for her medical problems instead of sitting around relying on some supernatural being whose help never comes. She won’t listen, of course, because she’s burdened by her useless faith, but I try.

    Personally, Dutch, after reading what you wrote about camels and grease, I think either you’re trying to have “fun” at this board’s expense or your elevator doesn’t go all the way to the top.

  • Tomas S

    Mr Naglfar:It puts atheism and theism on equal footing,

    It seems that you and I both agree that Atheism is not a religion, but for conflicting reasons. Interesting. To me, Theism also is not a religion, even though it’s part of many religions.

    Dutch: TomasS, I agree, the faith discussion has been beat to death.

    Then we do not agree. First, I’m not saying that anything has been beaten to death. I’m just saying that it’s not worth the second swing. Second, I’m talking about the statement “atheism is a religion”. I won’t fight about that. I will, however, fight over something like “atheism takes faith.”

    KShep:

    Because we can’t have a debate at all if one side continually mis-represents (or, more charitably, misunderstands) the other side. The discussion continually runs in circles when theists just keep saying, “well, you have your faith and I have mine…” (or something to that effect). You want to give the theist some insight as to our way of thinking, and when you try to expand on the basics (i.e. “atheism isn’t a religion”), you can’t because the theist can’t get past that point. So you have to keep returning there and try.

    I agree, but I contend that the question of whether “religion” (a word which means different things to different people: witness the expression “I’m not religious, I just love the Lord”) can be defined in a way to include atheism or not is not the critical first step to showing that atheism is a position based on observable reality and theism not so much.

    Like I said above, I think it’s worth arguing against the notion that atheism takes faith, even if I’d let a comment like “atheism is a religion” slide, after a pass or two.

    In case you didn’t notice, Dutch repeated his understanding that atheism is a religion at least three times after it was patiently explained to him that it isn’t. He seemed genuinely curious about the nature of atheism, yet he repeatedly misunderstood (or just ignored) the explanations given him. That’s what drew my last (and most firm) explanation to him. I really don’t care to have someone else tell me what I’m thinking, especially when I’ve already told them.

    Oh, I noticed. At least two of the explanations were mine. :-)

    To say, as Dutch did, that Atheism is a religion “because it can’t disprove God” is absurd. It’s like saying that a banana is a telephone because you can’t use it to take a shower. What does that even mean? This kind of comment should probably be ignored, but if we are going to take issue with it, we should take issue with the implied claim – that “Atheism is false”.

  • Dutch

    I am not trying to have “fun” at this board’s expense. I take things seriously but a little humor is good for the health.

    Yes, your mom should go to a doctor. Since your mom knows a lot of the Bible, maybe this could help.

    Col 4:14 Luke, the beloved physician, and Demas, greet you.
    Jer 8:22 Is there no balm in Gilead; is there no physician there? why then is not the health of the daughter of my people recovered?

    I know that we are already in hell, and the phrase “go to hell” is almost comical for me. The minister of our church will go to the hospital to visit a mother and her newborn. He will say “welcome to hell kid.” Hell, grave, pit, sheol, are one and the same. Yes Judy, I and our group have been called a cult and many nasty things. One time one of the ministers was shoved by another so-called Christian, and you want to know why? Because he and most of us can come up with the exact Bible verse to support our argument. I think when people get frustrated, they resort to violence.

    To OMGF…by debunked, I mean carnally. I think the more the Bible is attacked for it’s historicity, the more Christians will leave the church, their core beliefs having been shaken, but as is said by many atheists, how much did they believe anyway, and I happen to agree with that. As someone once told me, “I go to church in case there is a God.” Guess it is some kind of insurance policy for him. The few Christians that sincerely want to know, and devote time and energy to really seeking God, they will find him, and be rewarded with more knowledge and wisdom.

    Knowing that we are in the grave already also gives great meaning to the Bible phrase quoted in this article.

    Judy, everybody here has been way nicer than any Christian blogg I have been to.

    Good day, Dutch

  • KShep

    Like I said above, I think it’s worth arguing against the notion that atheism takes faith, even if I’d let a comment like “atheism is a religion” slide, after a pass or two.

    Yeah, I would too, except you just can’t make any progress on further points until you can get the theist over that hump. They keep falling back to that “atheism is too a religion” argument to discredit any further argument, as Dutch did above.

    To say, as Dutch did, that Atheism is a religion “because it can’t disprove God” is absurd……..This kind of comment should probably be ignored, but if we are going to take issue with it, we should take issue with the implied claim – that “Atheism is false”.

    Good point, but my thinking is, once they understand what atheism actually is, they might not even be able to imply “atheism is false.” The basis for that position evaporates.

    So I just tried to get Dutch on board with what we think here. At least he was listening, unlike others who have popped in here before.

  • Tomas S

    Kshep,

    As I was getting my coffee this morning, I had the thought — what if someone were claiming that Atheism was a … oh, I don’t know, fill in the blank – a thought, an idea, a way of looking at things … “just like Catholicism”. At what point of this statement would we take issue. We (probably) wouldn’t disagree that it’s a (fill in the blank), but that it’s “just like Catholicism.”

  • James B

    Hi Dutch,

    As someone once told me, “I go to church in case there is a God.” Guess it is some kind of insurance policy for him.

    But how does he or anyone know whether they’ve got the right one?

  • Mrnaglfar

    Tomas,

    a thought, an idea, a way of looking at things … “just like Catholicism”

    They are both ideas, sure. But faith and ideas are two different things; faith is the acceptance of an idea without or in spite of evidence. In that sense, Catholicism is an idea who’s acceptance takes faith. Atheism, on the other hand, is simply a lack of belief in god; an idea that requires no faith whatsoever.

    I still like the not-collecting stamps as a hobby anaolgy.

  • theistscientist

    THe Op uses conclusory statements such as “completely untenable” and impossible, in describing permutations of the reconciliation of a “transcipt”(of sorts) of 2,000 year old hearsay testimony,first likely repated via oral testimony and then written down in what are essentially circulated letters among first century churches. Experts to this day are still fighting over the permutations surrounding the asassination of president John F Kennedy and we have law enforcement and military eye witnesses and even a real time film recording the event.

    The Op strikes me as being a bit coy. Is it really crying crocodile tears for the nonsynoptic “synoptic” gospels? The synoptic gospels, however hearsay, however non contemporaneous, however variant in emphasis and even omission, firmly established the Christian religion and were in wide circulation at a time when plenty of living witnesses were still alive to refute any and all fabrications.

    Why are there no extant denials from fist century palestine? Whenever I argue this, the atheist contrarian position is always “the early church obviously must have destroyed them all” . The sanhedrin, the orthodox scribes and scholars, the Roman officals and citizenry were literate and we have a fair amount of writings from the period. You can’t have your “evidentiary cake” and eat it too. Be patient, sheperd boys are still throwing rocks into caves in palestine. Who knows how the stones will cry out next?

  • lpetrich

    “Why are there no extant denials from fist century palestine?” asks theistscientist.

    Simple. Because nobody cared. Xianity was a little-known movement in 1st-cy. Palestine, and Josephus’s reference to it is doubtful at best. They weren’t the hyper-rationalists that you seem to think that they were, theistscientist.

    Also, some religions have grown and flourished despite their founders having been exposed as frauds:

    Mormonism
    Christian Science
    Scientology

  • theistscientist

    1. Try as they might, and they really have tried, no scholar has been able to prove the synoptic gospels are frauds. 2. There was a first century orthodox jewish inquisiton against the Christians, so the orthodox jewish leaders certainly cared and they were quite literate, where are the first century orthodox denials?

  • Tomas S

    Mr Naglfar: They are both ideas, sure. But faith and ideas are two different things;

    I don’t think I used the word “faith” in this context. I said that I would indeed argue if someone said “Atheism takes faith”, but there comes a time (after two or three passes) where there are more important points to tackle other than whether Atheism is a religion. It’s a question of definitions.

    Are “faith” and “a religion” the same thing? What if the person you’re debating defines “religion” as “one’s idea about God”? There’s no sense in quibbling over definitions, as long as differences in definitions are clear.

    The next time I fail to convince someone that atheism is not a religion, I’ll say this: “I still disagree with you, but let me ask this — do you think that Atheism takes faith?” Then we can move forward from there.

    I still like the not-collecting stamps as a hobby anaolgy.

    I do too, in a bumper-stickery kind of way. The analogy can only go so far. Astampists usually do have other hobbies.

  • Mrnaglfar

    Tomas,

    Are “faith” and “a religion” the same thing?

    No. Faith is the acceptance of an idea without or in spite of evidence. Religion is a social organization based around a set of faith.

    Now, in order of atheism to be a religion there has to be a faith, an acceptance of things for which there is no evidence, at it’s core; without the faith addition any social club could be considered a religion. There is no doctrine of atheism that I know of, much less anything that requires an acceptance of ideas that do not have any evidence.

  • OMGF

    theistscientist,
    There are contrary writings to the gospels, mostly from pagan sources.

    Further, the gospels were written well after the fact, when very few if any eye witnesses would be around. It’s simply a fabrication to state that tons of eye witnesses were around, reading the gospels. Also, the early Xians were generally illiterate and uneducated.

  • Tomas S

    Mr Naglfar,

    I see that we have slightly different definitions of “religion”, but that’s okay. At least we both agree that Atheism is not one. :-)

    I wonder if an appropriate response to the claim that atheism is a religion would be simply to ask “what is your definition of religion?”.

    Then, one could have a meaningful discussion. (Well, one would hope.)

  • KShep

    As I was getting my coffee this morning, I had the thought — what if someone were claiming that Atheism was a … oh, I don’t know, fill in the blank – a thought, an idea, a way of looking at things …

    I think a lot of theists have tried that angle—atheism is a “belief system,” a “theology,” a “lifestyle,” a “world view,” etc. etc. For the more sincere theists, I think it’s just an attempt to understand atheism using the same thought framework they use for their religion, and that’s why it’s so tough to get them to understand it.

    At what point of this statement would we take issue.

    Well, I’d take issue with that the same as I would if they called it a religion…by attempting to educate them as to what atheism REALLY is, like with Dutch above. Sometimes you get through, most times you don’t.

    Are “faith” and “a religion” the same thing? What if the person you’re debating defines “religion” as “one’s idea about God”? There’s no sense in quibbling over definitions, as long as differences in definitions are clear.

    The next time I fail to convince someone that atheism is not a religion, I’ll say this: “I still disagree with you, but let me ask this — do you think that Atheism takes faith?” Then we can move forward from there.

    I see your point, but in my experience, I’ve never gotten far if they don’t understand atheism. The discussion just goes in circles—right back to the “atheism is a religion” point, because theists are used to believing fantastic things on faith alone. They don’t like to ask questions unless they think they already know the answer. So asking them if atheism takes faith seems to me like it would just play that argument right into their hands—of course they think it takes faith, everything in their lives takes faith.

  • theistscientist

    OMGF, please take a deep breath, you are starting to get a little IIDB ish.You completely misquote me, I never said “tons of eyewitnesses” and you got it 100% completely backwards. The ones who needed to be literate were the orthodox jewish relgious elite, the Roman rulers and their liege men,(and THEY were literate) and should have written denials of the claims of the gospels and apparently didnt. And accusing me of an outright fabrication is a serious error, you can say my argument is incorrect but calling me a liar is out of line and you owe me an apology.

  • OMGF

    You completely misquote me, I never said “tons of eyewitnesses”….And accusing me of an outright fabrication is a serious error, you can say my argument is incorrect but calling me a liar is out of line and you owe me an apology.

    You did say:

    firmly established the Christian religion and were in wide circulation at a time when plenty of living witnesses were still alive to refute any and all fabrications.

    You didn’t say “tons” but you did say “plenty”, so you’ll have to excuse my poetic license. As for the “fabrication” comment, I did not mean to direct it specifically at you or imply that you are a liar. These kinds of comments are all over the place and most of them are fabrications that unsuspecting people pass on because they’ve been lied to. I regret that you thought I was accusing you of lying. From my standpoint, it simply looked like you were passing on a falsehood that I figured you had picked up from a place you thought was reputable, not that you were intentionally lying. Sorry for the misunderstanding.

    That said, the literate people did write works against the Xians, most of which didn’t survive the subsequent rule by the Xians. We know, for example, about one such work by a pagan only because a Xian later wrote a “rebuttal” to that pagan’s work, but the original did not survive. I can dig up the reference if you wish, but Ehrman talks about it in his book “Misquoting Jesus.”

    Further, since the gospels were written so far after the fact, the eye witnesses who could have said, “That never happened” were not around anymore to protest. You’d think, however, that someone would have written something if dead zombies really had risen from the ground as Matthew claims.

  • theistscientist

    Thank you OMGF, and no offense taken,and by the way you seem to be a very well educated intellectual and your posts really make me think hard. I am learning a lot from you, please keep posting, I may not agree with your ultimate world view but I respect you immensely, warm professional regards, theistscientist.

  • Tomas S

    KShep,

    You’re point (paraphrased) that to say “Atheism is a religion” is an attempt by believers to see our point of view within the framework of their own is well taken. I’m currently having a fairly involved e-mail conversation with a long-time friend of mine who is a believer in the Baha’i Faith. I have had a fair amount of contacts with Baha’i believers over the last 10 years or so, and I have never been able to see the Faith in a way that will make sense to me – neither as an atheist (like me) nor as a former Bible Thumper (like me.) I’m sure it makes sense to them, so my challenge is to put myself in their shoes and see it from their point of view instead of my own. This is hard to do.

    I notice, however, that within this conversation, you contrast atheists with theists. Is there a word with which we could fill in my blank and which would describe one and not the other? In other words, is theism a “belief system,” a “theology,” a “lifestyle,” a “world view,” etc. etc? I don’t think so. It may be part of a (fill in the blank) just like Atheism can be part of Budhism, World Pantheism, Marxsism, Humanism, or Universism is, but by itself theism is not a religion (or whatever.)

    I see your point, but in my experience, I’ve never gotten far if they don’t understand atheism. The discussion just goes in circles—right back to the “atheism is a religion” point, because theists are used to believing fantastic things on faith alone.

    This is another thing you’ve said to me more than once. My point is that there’s no sense in denying someone who says “Atheism is a Duck” unless we know what this person means by “Duck” in this context. Telling them that it’s not a Duck doesn’t prove anything. We need to know what they mean by this so we can address the ideas and not the words. If the discussion returns to the “Atheism is a religion” point (and I’d love to see a practical example of this), we’d have to approach it the same way by saying something like “you keep saying that, but do you believe it takes faih” or “you’ve said that before, what do you mean by that?”

    I cannot take issue with your experience here, since I tend to avoid long discussions with believers (the above-mentioned discussion with my friend is an interesting exception, which I’d love to discuss sometime). You might notice that most of my comments on Daylight Atheism are directed at my fellow Atheists.

    They don’t like to ask questions unless they think they already know the answer. So asking them if atheism takes faith seems to me like it would just play that argument right into their hands—of course they think it takes faith, everything in their lives takes faith.

    This point of yours is another point which is nicely handled at the about.com pages. At this point, however, I’m wondering why we’d even want to continue a discussion once we’ve established that our conversation partner isn’t interested in genuine dialog, but only in asking disingenuous questions like a Mommy asking a crump-faced child “what happened to the cookie?” At that point, we should cut our losses.

  • KShep

    Is there a word with which we could fill in my blank and which would describe one and not the other? In other words, is theism a “belief system,” a “theology,” a “lifestyle,” a “world view,” etc. etc? I don’t think so.

    I don’t either. Theism is just a belief in a god or gods, and to me it describes itself just fine. It’s kind of an all-encompassing term that includes all religious belief.

    ….Telling them that it’s not a Duck doesn’t prove anything. We need to know what they mean by this so we can address the ideas and not the words.

    Oh, I get it now. I agree with that. You were once a thumper, so you probably have a better idea for this than I do—I am lucky to have grown up in a non-practicing baptist house (mom was a believer, but thought my brother and I should be able to make up our own minds when we got old enough to. Guess she didn’t think atheism would ever come up!). I just think addressing those ideas are going to be tough until they get a fair understanding of atheism, much like atheists can’t really make up their minds about religion until they understand it, too.

    If the discussion returns to the “Atheism is a religion” point (and I’d love to see a practical example of this)

    Well, scroll on up and look at Dutch’s responses. He couldn’t get anywhere until he got that point. He tried Pascal’s Wager, which only works if you pre-suppose the existence of god. He even tried to use the old “science requires faith” argument, too. He framed everything in a faith-based mindset, which is what he obviously defaults to. Notice, too, that he disappeared once he understood what I was trying to say. Possibly made him think a little deeper? I don’t know. Hope so.

    At this point, however, I’m wondering why we’d even want to continue a discussion once we’ve established that our conversation partner isn’t interested in genuine dialog, but only in asking disingenuous questions like a Mommy asking a crump-faced child “what happened to the cookie?” At that point, we should cut our losses.

    Agreed. Like I said earlier, sometimes you get through, most times you don’t. I have a group of nutjob in-laws who like to try and convince me (and my daughter) to come join them at church, so I have no choice but to tell them what I think from time to time. They will not let up. I know I’m not getting anywhere, their minds are made up for them, but I won’t have them attack me without a defense ready.

  • Tomas S

    KShep,

    Now that we’ve all totally strayed away from “Zombie Saints”, I’ll just clarify that my Fundy phase didn’t begin till I was a senior in high school. I guess we’re both lucky.

    I also don’t see where Dutch concedes that Atheism is not a religion. As recently as 12/30 he was spelling out in grotesque detail why it is a religion (never once, to my notice, defining what “religion” is.) The closest he came to conceding this point was to agree with me on something I hadn’t said — that the discussion on faith had been beaten to death.

    None of this is as frustrating as the discussion I had with a coworker yesterday who believes that right and wrong are determined by majority rule. He didn’t even want to year why I didn’t agree. That’s pure evil!

  • KShep

    Yeah, all these forums tend to veer off in other directions. Not much you can do about it.

    Majority rule? Hilarious. This person must think the holocaust was okay since the majority at the time supported Hitler. Ick.

    As for Dutch, he wrote this on Dec. 30th:

    OK, OK, point taken and understood – will not bring the belief thing up again, I promise.

    Maybe he was just telling me what I wanted to hear, but he did say it. I suppose he didn’t necessarily have to believe it, either.

  • OMGF

    theistscientist

    Thank you OMGF, and no offense taken…

    Thank you for being understanding. Sometimes the things we say don’t quite come across correctly to the person on the other end of the interwebs who is reading, so it’s important to ask questions sometimes and make sure that meanings are clear.

  • Dutch

    Hi people,

    I concede only that you don’t consider atheism a belief or faith…For reasons I stated before, I respectfully beg to differ, and I understand your logic. The subject has been beaten to death, and neither you nor I are likely to change opinions.

    I just finished, or nearly finished “Einstein and Religion.” I do not recommend this boring book. Nothing new, and I already knew Einstein was an atheist, I justed wanted to know his reasoning.

    Take care, Dutch

  • OMGF

    Dutch,
    I want to go back to something you wrote a while back,

    Gee, Adam lived 930 years after God promised his death the day he ate of the tree.

    You aren’t the first to come up with this, BTW. The concept that one day must equal 1000 years has been around for a while, as writers from the first couple centuries also came to this conclusion so that god would not be lying about Adam.

    But, what I would like to ask is this: Why would you say that one day equals one thousand years when it could equal 930 years?

    Also, what about all the other days in the Bible? Noah was on the ark for 40,000 years? How about the day the sun stood in the sky, was there really no darkness for about a thousand years?

  • Tomas S

    I concede only that you don’t consider atheism a belief or faith…

    And I conceed that the Bible teaches that God is real. :-)

  • Dutch

    Of course the concept of 1000 years equaling 1 day has been around awhile, it’s plainly stated in the Bible. The Bible says Adam lived 930 years, that he died at 930 or 1000 is irrelevant, he died the same day he ate of The Tree.

    So Noah was in the ark 40 days, Jesus was in the wilderness 40 days – But I haven’t studied Noah in any depth.

    I haven’t studied the sun in the sky, but I find that interesting as a possible parallel to the 1000 year reign of Christ.

    No need to worry about Biblical parable which is how God speaks to the multitudes(us). This is after all an atheist site. I do know that you all and I will recall this dialogue when we are in Christ.

    You have been very civil, thanks, Dutch

  • OMGF

    Dutch,
    The point is that the Bible explicitly says 40 days and 40 nights worth of rain came down on the Earth while Noah was in the ark. How do we determine what amount of time that is?


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