Doubting the Sun

Imagine, in some medieval monarchy or modern-day oligarchy, that the government passed a law which made it a crime to deny that the sun exists.

No country either ancient or modern has ever done this, and it’s easy to see why. Who would ever be tempted to deny the existence of the sun? The evidence to the contrary is undeniable. It’s large, it’s obvious, it’s blindingly brilliant – it’s just there. There are no rational grounds for claiming the sun does not exist; only a fool or a madman would choose to do so. Even if some sower of discord or false prophet made it part of his mission, the sun’s existence is so obvious that he’d stand little chance of persuading others to join him in such a mad quest. No state intervention would be needed to dissuade the populace from following along.

Clearly, there’s no need for anti-sun-denying legislation. Why, then, have kings, priests and mullahs through history so often passed similar legislation which makes it a crime to publicly doubt the existence of God?

There are billions of theists around the world who hold a very unusual set of beliefs. On the one hand, they believe that God is the all-powerful Creator of the cosmos and all that is in it, the Sustainer whose moment-to-moment providence is the only thing that keeps the machinery of nature running. Some go so far as to believe that God is the underlying ground of being without whom the very notion of existence is meaningless and void. And yet, on the other hand, many of these same people believe God is hidden, and cannot be found through evidence but only believed in by faith.

What an utterly bizarre conjunction of beliefs this is! Does it make any sense at all to believe that God would hide himself? On the contrary, the only conclusion that I can comprehend is that, if such a being as God existed, his existence would be even more undeniable than the sun that lights the sky. It would be a truth so obvious that the idea of outlawing atheism would never even occur to anyone.

But there have been anti-blasphemy laws throughout history. They have been quite common. We can draw an important conclusion from this. Clearly, God’s existence is eminently deniable. If it were otherwise, there would have been no need of such laws in the first place. The only reason such a statute would exist, as Robert Ingersoll said, is so that whatever was lacking in evidence could be made up for with force. The very fact that the authorities sought to enforce conformity shows that it would not come about on its own.

One possible rejoinder is that the sun clearly does not care whether its existence is denied – it continues to shine down regardless – whereas God’s favor is fickle, and it may be inviting disaster to doubt him. Thus, the state must enforce uniformity for people’s own good. But even if the premise of this argument is true, the conclusion does not follow. The state can regulate people’s outward actions, but it cannot control their inmost thoughts. Even if people are required to mouth the correct words of allegiance, privately they may be giving voice to whatever thoughts they please. Since every religious tradition agrees that God can see into our hearts, and presumably would be enraged by private blasphemy as well as public, any attempt to secure his blessing by passing mortal laws would be an exercise in futility.

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.

  • http://www.currion.net Paul C

    Your argument is slightly weakened if (as I suspect) anti-blasphemy laws have usually been implemented against specific interpretations of the nature of God (i.e. the ones that the ruling elite disagree with) rather than against specific denials of the existence of God.

  • Mark

    The state can regulate people’s outward actions, but it cannot control their inmost thoughts. Even if people are required to mouth the correct words of allegiance, privately they may be giving voice to whatever thoughts they please.

    I’ve always assumed the primary aim of anti-blasphemy laws is not to prevent individuals from thinking heretical thoughts on their own, but to prevent any such thoughts from entering the public sphere, where they would have the opportunity to influence others. The functions and mechanisms of blasphemy laws are no different from, say, political censorship in tyrannical dictatorships such as North Korea or the old USSR. It’s not about controlling private thought; it is more than enough to prevent public communication.

  • http://sites.google.com/site/cgranade/ Chris Granade

    The one thing I would point out about this is that evolution is now, with our modern understanding and data collection, as undeniable as the Sun, and yet people do deny it. So the potential for denial doesn’t imply that it can’t be true.

    Anyway, just a minor nitpick with a great post.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03859405216390259275 Rose

    This is a very well thought out idea. Though some may find minor flaws, I think its brilliant overall. It’s a great discussion to bring to a theist who wants to debate. no one dare doubt the sun.

    This reminds me of a quote by the great Carl Sagan “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence”.

  • Polly

    I was proselityzed to a couple weeks back. The thrust of the argument was how amazing nature is – the wing and heart beats of the hummingbird are incredibly fast, the human eye is an amazing ocular device, etc, etc.
    To theists, the existence of A god is as obvious as the sun. I will confess that even I have a hard time imagining humans or any other creatures coming about purely through natural selection starting off from simple non-living organic compounds. But, counter-intuitive as that idea may be, fact and reason lead me to precisely that conclusion.
    But, the existence of THEIR specific god (concerned with human affairs) is absolutely lacking in any kind of evidence and moreover I would say the idea of an omnimax god is much MORE counter-intuitive than evolution.

    Anti-blasphemy = Anti-anti-government. Government and religion are two sides of the same coin. That’s true even in the US; it’s just nice and (mostly) unofficial here.

  • http://anexerciseinfutility.blogspot.com Tommykey

    There is a common saying in the free thought community that blasphemy is a victimless crime. True, unless of course you are the blasphemer who runs afoul of the law.

  • KeaponLaffin

    Stated brilliantly.
    And Chris Granade made the point I was thinking of making. ;)
    Also agree with most of the other commentators. Polly makes a great point. Government and Religion are both about CONTROL. If they can’t control ya thru government, they’ll control ya thru religion. And if ya don’t like that, they’ll make disbelief in some chosen religion illegal.
    You may need to expand the premise tho. Many things may now fall under the banner of ‘disbelief being illegal’. Classic being ‘Going to Gulag if ya don’t believe in Communism’. More modern versions in 1st world countries may be ‘Getting sued if ya don’t believe in Political Correctness’…or the more fatal ‘Getting killed cause ya don’t believe in our right to not be offended’. With the fait accompli of the government not really giving a damn when yer murdered. Tho that one is usually death by blasphemy, so does prove yer point..but hope ya see what I’m saying in abstract.
    As always, read as often as I can. Love yer work, think yer posts are too long and make me think too hard and I generally disagree with yer politics.
    (2 outta 3 are compliments)…(the 3rd (or 4th?) is kinda a backhanded compliment)
    It’s all good tho.

  • Christopher

    Tommy, blasphemy does have a victim: that victim being the whole society!

    The social order needs ideal foundations that are above question in order to stay in power – thus the reason such things as blasphemy laws and other forms of thought police were devised: if people start questioning the foundations upon which their social order is based, the power of the order is threatened with ultimate destruction. Kill the underlying assumptions of a society and you will effectivly destroy those in power over society.

    The sooner people realize that they have been herded into “proper place” in society by mentalities that don’t ultimately serve their interests, the sooner this whole house of cards crumbles to the ground.

  • bestonnet

    Chris Granade:

    The one thing I would point out about this is that evolution is now, with our modern understanding and data collection, as undeniable as the Sun, and yet people do deny it. So the potential for denial doesn’t imply that it can’t be true.

    OTOH you can’t prove evolution by just going outside and looking up.

  • http://uncyclopedia.org/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    Chris Granade “OTOH you can’t prove evolution by just going outside and looking up.”
    No, but you can by simply getting stoned, watching a show about chimpanzees, then looking at your hand.
    It’s all right there, man. Your hand. Right friggin’ there.

    Anybody up for pizza?

  • Martin

    @Chris Granade: Well, nearly all “Evolution Deniers” are totally ignorant about evolution. It’s somewhat analogous to someone who was held in a cellar his whole live and denying the existence of the sun.

    Well,nice mental picture there, them Cretinists stuck in the dark, dank cellars of their lightless faith.

  • hb531

    Remember Ra? Until we as humans figured out that the sun was just another star, there were entire civilizations created around the notion that the sun itself was a deity.

  • velkyn

    I would question the one thing that Polly said “To theists, the existence of A god is as obvious as the sun.” I disagree. They may think it is, but there is no equivalent evidence, etc for a “god” as there is the Sun. I could say that I think that my friend Harvey here exists and is just as real as the sun but obviously that’s just a delusion. Obvious has a pretty clear meaning(easily discovered, seen, or understood)and “gods” are anything but that.

    As for gov’ts and blasphemy laws, it certainly seems that for a gov’t to take its reason for being in power from the divine, it must have these laws. To take a Christian example, the Bible says that God put *all* rulers in place so we should follow them blindly. IF someone dares disagree with this, the gov’t suffers.

  • goyo

    No, but you can by simply getting stoned, watching a show about chimpanzees, then looking at your hand.

    Excellent point, Modus. There is a picture accompanying a story about a veterinarian that works in a zoo in our 4th grade reading book. It is a human hand holding the hand of a gorilla that is getting it’s tooth fixed. There is no doubt that the two hands look amazingly similar, down to the cuticles. My students are always amazed at this photo, and it presents an opportunity to talk to them about evolution.
    My believer wife looks at it, and gets mad.

  • MS (Quixote)

    Harvey turned out to be real and it was the psychologists who were deluded. Long live Elwood P. Dowd :)

  • Ric

    A well-reasoned argument indeed.

  • Polly

    Thanks, Keaponlaffin.

    @Christopher

    The sooner people realize that they have been herded into “proper place” in society by mentalities that don’t ultimately serve their interests, the sooner this whole house of cards crumbles to the ground.

    This is spot on. Although, I hope that if/after the house of cards falls, something more democratic will take its place.

    @Velkyn,

    They may think it is…

    Yeah, that’s all I meant. Strictly intuitively, both evolution and “design” seem obvious to me, personally. I think that’s because evolution has come up with some pretty intelligent-looking designs. But, intuition is not a good truth-ometer in any case. Just a potential starting point for further investigation.

  • Marcu

    Your argument is great. It parallels the short essay, “CAN GOD’S EXISTENCE BE DISPROVED?” by J. N. FINDLAY. I HIGHLY suggest you read it as it offers an ontological disproof of god; one that nears your comparison here.

    Best.

  • http://whyihatejesus.blogspot.com OMGF

    Polly,

    But, intuition is not a good truth-ometer in any case. Just a potential starting point for further investigation.

    This is an important point. If intuition were a good truth-o-meter, then the sun would travel around the Earth.

  • http://www.grendel.no Rolf Marvin Bøe Lindgren

    billions holding a view that’s unusual?

  • bestonnet

    Rolf Marvin Bøe Lindgren:

    billions holding a view that’s unusual?

    How do you think people in a thousand years will view it?

  • Alex Weaver

    I assume he means “strange” rather than “uncommon.”

  • Alex Weaver

    (And on that note, it’s extremely unusual for anyone to posit that kind of idea when it comes to anything except their religion of choice – it’s generally a unique item among their total set of ideas, and thus is uncommon at the level of individual belief).

  • bestonnet

    Alex Weaver:

    (And on that note, it’s extremely unusual for anyone to posit that kind of idea when it comes to anything except their religion of choice – it’s generally a unique item among their total set of ideas, and thus is uncommon at the level of individual belief).

    True, people seem to be able to think rationally about Santa Claus and understand that absence of evidence is not a right o believe but they can’t seem to see that the same thing is true of God (but only their god, gods of other religions get treated like Santa).

  • velkyn

    harvey turned out to be “real”? Really? It’s been a long time since I’ve seen that movie, but I don’t recall getting that from the movie. I do remember Elwood walking off with Harvey but I don’t recall any one else interacting with Harvey.

    and very good post, alex.

  • Christopher

    Polly,

    “This is spot on. Although, I hope that if/after the house of cards falls, something more democratic will take its place.”

    Like what? Every experiment in democracy on a large scale has failed (and don’t say “what about the USA?” as it’s practically an oligarchy with only token homage to the common citizen) – mainly because the will of the masses are easily influenced by empty promises of “a better tommarrow;” even to the point where they surrender their own sovreignty to powers outside themselves for a chance (not even a guarantee – a mere chance!) at having their little pipe dreams come to pass.

    The same mentallity that drove the religious inquisitors of the past also drives the political class as both groups have the same goal – to subjigate the wills of indiviudals to their collective will for the purpose of serving their own interests. Until more people learn to live as a law unto themselves the status quo shall remain unchanged…

  • http://metroblog.blgospot.com Metro

    @Marcu:

    One never need prove gods exist. The default position is that they don’t. The burden of proof lies with the theist.

  • http://www.maulis.com Ben Maulis

    In fact, according to God’s word, his existence is indeed as obvious as the sun’s (Romans 1:20). I would not characterize him as “caring” whether his existence is denied in such a way that he favors those who believe and visits disaster upon those who doubt. Such a concept is based on a gross misunderstanding of doctrine.

    In fact, God has condemned all the ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, “Because that, when they knew God, they glorified [him] not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.”

    In no wise does God say that he favors them that believe in him. The word tells us that even the devils believe in God and they tremble. (James 2:19) God’s word brings judgment against every man because all have sinned and are guilty before God. The wages of sin is death, and the proof of your sin and God’s judgment is that you will die. “Thou shalt surely die.”

    As sure as you can be that the sun will rise, you will die.

    “For the sun is no sooner risen with a burning heat, but it withereth the grass, and the flower thereof falleth, and the grace of the fashion of it perisheth: so also shall the rich man fade away in his ways.”

    “For all flesh [is] as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away.”

    We also read that it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment. If death is the consequence of sin, then why does there yet come the judgment? As it is written, “Vengeance [belongeth] unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people.” We read that in John’s vision the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books that were opened before God, according to their works. “And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.”

    So then the consequence of transgressing God’s law is death, but there is a second death. The Lord said, “Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear…”

    Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. He came into the world.

    He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. John 1:10-13

    Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth. He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken. Isaiah 53:4-8

    And when they had fulfilled all that was written of him, they took him down from the tree, and laid him in a sepulchre. But God raised him from the dead. Acts 13:29-30

    For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. John 3:16

    I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this? John 11:25-26

    Even as Abraham believed God and it was accounted to him for righteousness, so also if you believe the testimony that God has given about his son Jesus, it shall be accounted to you for righteousness.

    But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death. Revelation 21:8

    He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son. And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God. 1 John 5:10-13

    We can be sure that whatever fate awaits the sinner, there is something far, far, far worse for whosoever believeth not on the Son of God when he shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance, not only on sinners, but on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ:  Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power.

    There is a far sorer punishment than death reserved for those who have rejected Christ, trodden under foot the Son of God, and counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith they were sanctified, an unholy thing, and done despite unto the Spirit of grace.  By their works they have transgressed the law and done despite unto Christ and his redemptive grace.

    I would hardly characterize that as “fickle” or some kind of mild propensity to show disfavor toward doubters.

  • Polly

    @Christopher,

    Everything you said is exactly why I hope for “something more democratic.” I mean TRULY democratic. Not the dog-and-pony show that passes for democracy.

    I don’t point to my country, the USA, as an example of democracy. We are at best an oligarchy maintained by mass delusion quite apart from, though augmenting, the religious delusion.

    Our society also avoids fatal rending along the fault lines because, for the most part, we are very comfortable. After all this is the home of SUVs, McMansions, and Vapid TV programs and celebrity worhsip. (And to those who can’t afford to eat within our borders we say “get an education”, or more tersely, “Fuck You”)
    :)
    Alright, I won’t derail the thread any further. Nice chat, C.

  • http://whyihatejesus.blogspot.com OMGF

    Metro,

    @Marcu:

    One never need prove gods exist. The default position is that they don’t. The burden of proof lies with the theist.

    What you say is completely true. That said, the essay by Findlay is well done. Findlay and others have shown that most conceptions of god fall apart when logically examined. We don’t need to disprove god, but sometimes it’s nice to be able to show why god is impossible. I also suggest the book, The Impossibility of God, as a good reference. It is simply full of logical disproofs of different conceptions of gods and their attributes.

  • http://whyihatejesus.blogspot.com OMGF

    Ben Maulis,

    In fact, according to God’s word, his existence is indeed as obvious as the sun’s (Romans 1:20).

    And that is demonstrably false, as the fact that non-Xians exist attest to.

    The wages of sin is death, and the proof of your sin and God’s judgment is that you will die.

    Nice non-sequitor. It does not logically follow that if a god exists, then we shall die.

    As sure as you can be that the sun will rise, you will die.

    Since the first two statements I quoted of yours both fail, this one does also.

    For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. John 3:16

    Make up your mind, do we die or don’t we?

    There is a far sorer punishment than death reserved for those who have rejected Christ, trodden under foot the Son of God, and counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith they were sanctified, an unholy thing, and done despite unto the Spirit of grace. By their works they have transgressed the law and done despite unto Christ and his redemptive grace.

    By our works? You mean by our beliefs, since it is non-belief in Jesus that you have said ends one up in hell. But, how can we simply choose to believe? If you think that is possible, I suggest you choose to believe in Zeus for a couple days and let us all know how that turns out. Further, the act of believing in something is not a moral act. IOW, god is judging us not on our morality, but on our perception of evidence. This does not make god’s actions moral, quite the opposite actually.

    I would hardly characterize that as “fickle” or some kind of mild propensity to show disfavor toward doubters.

    Glad to hear that you disagree with the potential counter-argument that Ebon addessed above.

    As to the rest of your post, I could point out all kinds of problems, how god is an immoral a-hole, how Xianity is anti-human, etc, but that would be off-topic, so I’ll let it be.

  • Christopher

    Ben Maulis,

    “In fact, according to God’s word, his existence is indeed as obvious as the sun’s.”

    The very fact that people throughout the ages have disputed over just what a “god” is or whether or not there is such a thing says that this claim is full of shit.

    Also Ben Maulis,

    ” The wages of sin is death, and the proof of your sin and God’s judgment is that you will die.”

    To quote Iron Maiden: “If there’s a ‘god’ why does he let me die?”

    And what the hell is this thing called “sin” anyway – I’ve been lectured over and over again who it separates man from “god” during my 15 years in the church, but never even once tell us exactly what it is apart from the fact that it’s something that’s contrary to the will of “god.” Even if there is such an entity, why should its will be superior to that of anyone else? What does this “god” have to gain by destroying those that don’t confrom to his concept of “morality” aside from self-glorification (a hollow concept to me).

    Also Ben Maulis,

    “There is a far sorer punishment than death reserved for those who have rejected Christ, trodden under foot the Son of God, and counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith they were sanctified, an unholy thing, and done despite unto the Spirit of grace. By their works they have transgressed the law and done despite unto Christ and his redemptive grace.”

    Sounds to me like your “god” is a control freak – either we submit to its will or else suffer for “disobedience.” I find such a deity to be the childish imagining of some Bronze Age culture that has outlived its purpose – yet society keeps it around in repurposed forms so that it can have more control of the individual than a sovreign entity would ever allow.

    BTW: Polly, I know why you’d hope for a more democratic society but I find it unrealistic as it will either end in an oligarchy or rule by the largest mob. In the end, the struggle is between the individual and the tribe rather than just the people and the government – and I await the rise of an Ubermensch to topple the rule of the tribe and make the individual truly sovreign again.

    In the spirit of allowing this thread to keep running its course, that’s all I will say on the subject here. Take care of yourself!

  • http://www.maulis.com Ben Maulis

    Christopher,

    You asked what sin is.

    “Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.” – 1 John 3:4

    You asked about God’s purpose for destroying sinners besides his own glorification:

    “He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.” – 1 John 3:8

  • Christopher

    Ben Maulis,

    “”Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law”

    That’s the same bullshit I was fed in church – anything that goes against the will of “god” (ie “the law”). But what exactly is that? Upon what is the “law” based aside from the arbitrary whims of a culture that became attributed to a deity?

    Also Ben Maulis,

    “He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.”

    It seems to me that the only “sin” the biblical character of Satan is guilty of is saying “no” to Yaweh/El and doing his own thing instead. The more I thought about the relationship between the Judeo-Christian “god” concept and Satan, the more I realize that the Character of Yaweh/El just has a big chip on his shoulder because he doesn’t have complete control over everything – and this whole “end of days” scenario (primarily outlined in Revelations) is nothing but his delusions of final vengeance on those who learned to live without his influence in their lives (he has serious rejection issues).

    The more I read the Bible, the more I came to sympathize with the character of Satan – he gets such a bad wrap from Christians because he won’t be a little puppet of “god.”

  • http://whyihatejesus.blogspot.com/ OMGF

    “He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.” – 1 John 3:8

    That clever god of yours, he’s so smart. It makes much more sense to torture the souls of those affected by Satan than to actually defeat and root out Satan. Oh wait, no it doesn’t.

  • Polly

    Re YHWH: If you looked at his actions in the Bible (NT included) without all the propaganda surrounding each incident, you could justifiably conclude they were the actions of a devil, or a violent psychopath.

  • bestonnet

    Christopher:

    Like what? Every experiment in democracy on a large scale has failed (and don’t say “what about the USA?” as it’s practically an oligarchy with only token homage to the common citizen) – mainly because the will of the masses are easily influenced by empty promises of “a better tommarrow;” even to the point where they surrender their own sovreignty to powers outside themselves for a chance (not even a guarantee – a mere chance!) at having their little pipe dreams come to pass.

    The various democracies that were able to stay democracies have worked a lot better than anything that preceded them.

    Of course no democracy is perfect, two party systems and proportional representation both have their share of problems, but it is still better than anything else we’ve tried.

    Christopher:

    The same mentallity that drove the religious inquisitors of the past also drives the political class as both groups have the same goal – to subjigate the wills of indiviudals to their collective will for the purpose of serving their own interests. Until more people learn to live as a law unto themselves the status quo shall remain unchanged…

    Anarchy eventually just becomes a dictatorship.

    Trying to subjugate the wills of individuals is a pretty good way to get voted out of power.

  • goyo

    Ben Maulis:

    As sure as you can be that the sun will rise, you will die.

    The sun doesn’t rise. The earth moves.

    We can be sure that whatever fate awaits the sinner, there is something far, far, far worse for whosoever believeth not on the Son of God when he shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance, not only on sinners, but on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power.

    Get’em jesus!
    Just when do you think this great showdown will occur? It’s been two thousand years, and he hasn’t come yet. Oh, that’s right, this is THE generation that’s been talked about…

    There is a far sorer punishment than death reserved for those who have rejected Christ, trodden under foot the Son of God, and counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith they were sanctified, an unholy thing, and done despite unto the Spirit of grace. By their works they have transgressed the law and done despite unto Christ and his redemptive grace.

    Guess what! I reject christ, all the scriptures quoted above, and your ridiculous preaching. Now what are you left with?

  • Christopher

    Bestonnet,

    “The various democracies that were able to stay democracies have worked a lot better than anything that preceded them.”

    Probelm: no democracy stays one for long – eventually a political class will take over and rig the elections to serve their interests or else it will simply become ruled by the largest mob.

    Also Bestonnet,

    “Anarchy eventually just becomes a dictatorship.”

    Who said anything about Anarchy? There will always be a ruler of some sort – I just see that ruler being too weak to do anything beyond the bare essentials of running a nation, leaving the citizens to work out the details on their own with little or no interference from a foreign power (i.e. the government).

  • Christopher

    Polly,

    “YHWH: If you looked at his actions in the Bible (NT included) without all the propaganda surrounding each incident, you could justifiably conclude they were the actions of a devil.”

    Come on now – give the devil a break: the biblical canon rarely ever actually shows him doing anything incredibly violent – he’s typically tempting people with wealth, fame or some other “reward of the flesh” to defy Yaweh/El.

    Ususally it’s Yaweh/El’s character that’s the violent psychopath throughout most of the Bible, not Satan – he’s just blamed because he “brings the wrath of ‘god’” down on people, which is essentially blaming the victim (it’s not Satan’s fault that Yaweh/El has a bad temper and wants to destroy anything Satan touches, is it?). I don’t see Satan’s character as “evil” (not that I believe in such a thing anyway…) so much as a misunderstood visionary who is foiled by a jealous old man in the sky who wishes he had his kind of creativity…

  • Polly

    Christopher,
    “Come on now – give the devil a break”

    Ah, precisely why I spoke of A devil and not THE Devil. The one in the Bible doesn’t really do much.
    I see the Bible-Devil more like a tattle-tale who likes to get his siblings (the humans) in trouble out of petty jealousy. And god is an abusive rage-a-holic father with weird hang-ups about sex and women and heiffers.

    …not that I believe in the existence of either.

  • Alex Weaver

    Ben Maulis, I challenge you to defend a single position you’ve advocated without passing the buck to Biblical references.

    This might be a bit harsh, but… Jesus Mythical Christ, don’t you ever *think?*

  • http://www.maulis.com Ben Maulis

    Mr. Weaver,

    If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or [whether] I speak of myself. He that speaketh of himself seeketh his own glory: but he that seeketh his glory that sent him, the same is true, and no unrighteousness is in him.

  • http://www.daylightatheism.org Ebonmuse

    Please be advised that, as per the comment policy, religious proselytizing and mindless recitation of Bible quotes is frowned upon here. Those who have ears to hear, let them hear.

  • Alex Weaver

    …I believe that answers my question.

  • Christopher

    Polly, I see what you’re getting at now – BTW, I was also reffering to them as characters in the book instead of actual entities too ;)

  • bestonnet

    Christopher:

    Probelm: no democracy stays one for long – eventually a political class will take over and rig the elections to serve their interests or else it will simply become ruled by the largest mob.

    Being ruled by the largest mob would still be democracy.

    There’s also a limit to how much rigging of the elections the population will put up with.

    Christopher:

    Who said anything about Anarchy? There will always be a ruler of some sort – I just see that ruler being too weak to do anything beyond the bare essentials of running a nation, leaving the citizens to work out the details on their own with little or no interference from a foreign power (i.e. the government).

    If that ruler stayed too weak then it might not be so bad but I highly doubt that would happen.

  • Matt R.

    What you are seeing in the sky is not the sun, but a large luminous heavenly body that *looks* like the sun. There is no hard evidence for the sun.

  • bestonnet

    Q: What is it that we call that thing that looks like the sun?
    A: The Sun!

  • Christopher

    Alex,

    “If that ruler stayed too weak then it might not be so bad but I highly doubt that would happen.”

    It would if the average citizens controlled military-grade firepower – even with a state police force and army it would be difficult for him to excersize much control over well-armed and armored citizens that organize their own militias. You know what they say: an armed society is a polite one.

    As long as the people have the will and control the arms, the government can only make them do so much before they say “enough” and forcibly remove it and replace it with a government that will do their bidding.

    Bestonnet,

    “Q: What is it that we call that thing that looks like the sun?
    A: The Sun!”

    Wrong! There is no “thing that looks like the sun:” it’s only an illusion created by a computer program and transmitted directly into your brain – the actual sun died eons ago!

    Ok, maybe that’s not true: but there’s no way we can ever be 100% certain of that, can we…

  • bestonnet

    Christopher:

    It would if the average citizens controlled military-grade firepower – even with a state police force and army it would be difficult for him to excersize much control over well-armed and armored citizens that organize their own militias. You know what they say: an armed society is a polite one.

    So you are in favour of me having a nuclear bomb?

    Besides, do you have any idea just how much modern military equipment costs?

    Christopher:

    As long as the people have the will and control the arms, the government can only make them do so much before they say “enough” and forcibly remove it and replace it with a government that will do their bidding.

    Which is where the problem lies. A dictator is nothing without followers and those followers will also be armed (and if the dictator has enough followers then most people are going to quite correctly perceive there being less likelihood of them dying if they obey the grand poobah and so only a small number of resisters will end up dead while the rest just surrender).

  • Christopher

    Bestonnet,

    “So you are in favour of me having a nuclear bomb?

    Besides, do you have any idea just how much modern military equipment costs?”

    Atom bombs would be rather pricy, but other forms of military-grade equipment (anti-tank weapons, assault rifles, grenades, etc…) are rather affordable to most people if they just know where to look or what parts to buy from a hardware store. It may not be the same quality used by the U.S. army, but in the event of a hostile government taking control it’s enough to put up an effective resistence in the form of a guerilla war – and guerillas can defeat modernized armies if they force them to fight on their own terms.

    Also bestonnet

    “Which is where the problem lies. A dictator is nothing without followers and those followers will also be armed (and if the dictator has enough followers then most people are going to quite correctly perceive there being less likelihood of them dying if they obey the grand poobah and so only a small number of resisters will end up dead while the rest just surrender).”

    Take a look at history – the first thing any dictator does is disarm the people of their weapons: only after this does he find himself in a position secure enough to orders without anyone questioning why as no one has the ability to oppose him. Even one man with a weapon can be a threat to a dictator – as all it takes to end his reign would be a lone, disgruntled and well-armed citizen to assasinate him (interestingly, this is how most dictators lose power).

    So long as the people have arms and force of will, there’s hope in the individual’s fight against intrusive government.

  • bestonnet

    Christopher:

    Atom bombs would be rather pricy, but other forms of military-grade equipment (anti-tank weapons, assault rifles, grenades, etc…) are rather affordable to most people if they just know where to look or what parts to buy from a hardware store. It may not be the same quality used by the U.S. army, but in the event of a hostile government taking control it’s enough to put up an effective resistence in the form of a guerilla war – and guerillas can defeat modernized armies if they force them to fight on their own terms.

    Have you ever noticed how the guerrillas suffer more causalities?

    Guerrillas also tend to have trouble if they don’t have a lot of support from the surrounding population.

    Christopher:

    Take a look at history – the first thing any dictator does is disarm the people of their weapons: only after this does he find himself in a position secure enough to orders without anyone questioning why as no one has the ability to oppose him.

    Merely removing weapons won’t do the job, the dictator has to get people who will follow his orders to be armed (whether they follow the orders because they like him or because they or their family will be killed otherwise is mostly irrelevant).

    For the dictator to be in the position that no one has the ability to oppose him requires broad support from the populous at some point in time and if the dictator has that then you’re screwed regardless of whether the people who wrote your constitution made a mistake by including a “right to arm bears” or left it up to the legislature as should be done.

    Christopher:

    Even one man with a weapon can be a threat to a dictator – as all it takes to end his reign would be a lone, disgruntled and well-armed citizen to assasinate him (interestingly, this is how most dictators lose power).

    A single citizen can do that if they get close enough, but then you have to ask who is going to succeed the dictators?

    Christopher:

    So long as the people have arms and force of will, there’s hope in the individual’s fight against intrusive government.

    Whether it’s realistic hope is another matter. With support from an external power it might be (just as the American revolution was won by the French) but unsupported guerrillas don’t seem to do that well.

    Fighting against dictators should be seen as a last resort, preventing them from getting power in the first place is a much better way to do things.

  • Christopher

    bestonnet,

    “Have you ever noticed how the guerrillas suffer more causalities?”

    Have you ever noticed that it’s almost impossible to wage a conventional war against them? The times when they suffer the most casualties are the times they try to fight the enemy toe-to-toe – so long as they stay in the shadows (fighting unfair) they’ll be nearly unstoppable.

    Also bestonnet,

    “Merely removing weapons won’t do the job…”

    No, but it does about 75% of the work for the would-be dictator – a fairly sizable popluation opposed to this wannabe king with weapons would be a significant threat even to a popular power-mad politician.

    Also bestonnet,

    “A single citizen can do that if they get close enough, but then you have to ask who is going to succeed the dictators?”

    Only time will tell the answer to that one, will it…?

    Also bestonnet,

    “Fighting against dictators should be seen as a last resort, preventing them from getting power in the first place is a much better way to do things.”

    So long as there’s a political class there will be a would-be dictator waiting in the wings somewhere – and sooner or later one of them will succeed in gaining power (if for no other reason the law of probabilities – anything that can happen, will happen). Should that day come in my lifetime, I want the means to hit the proverbial reset button on government availible to me. And I will be ready even if the “law” says that I can’t…

  • bestonnet

    Christopher:

    Have you ever noticed that it’s almost impossible to wage a conventional war against them?

    Ever notice how little the Partisans did in WWII?

    Christopher:

    The times when they suffer the most casualties are the times they try to fight the enemy toe-to-toe – so long as they stay in the shadows (fighting unfair) they’ll be nearly unstoppable.

    No they won’t be, the only way for guerrillas to win is by pissing off the occupying power long enough that they just leave which is less likely to happen when the occupying power is non-democratic.

    Christopher:

    No, but it does about 75% of the work for the would-be dictator – a fairly sizable popluation opposed to this wannabe king with weapons would be a significant threat even to a popular power-mad politician.

    Most of the population could be bought off or scared into submission well enough for those the dictator doesn’t trust to be disarmed (and the few who don’t disarm can be shot).

    Christopher:

    So long as there’s a political class there will be a would-be dictator waiting in the wings somewhere – and sooner or later one of them will succeed in gaining power (if for no other reason the law of probabilities – anything that can happen, will happen). Should that day come in my lifetime, I want the means to hit the proverbial reset button on government availible to me. And I will be ready even if the “law” says that I can’t…

    A would be dictator needs followers to become an actual dictator and also needs to amass enough power personally (i.e. get around any checks and balances that may exist). Probably the best way to deal with dictators is to set up a political system where no one can have the kind of powers by themselves and a culture that doesn’t put a high value on obedience. Having people prosperous can also help keep dictators away since people won’t then see a nation that needs fixing (except a few religious freaks who can be given exemptions from compulsory voting if voting is against their religion (yes, there is a religious exemption I agree with)).

  • Christopher

    Bestonnet,

    “Ever notice how little the Partisans did in WWII?”

    Do you know why the Reich was so effective at hunting down partisans? They didn’t fight them in a conventional war! Instead, they created their own paramilitary force (the SS) and gave them the task of hunting down dissidents – something that the regular army couldn’t do very effectively.

    Of course, there haven’t been many paramilitary forces as successful as the SS since the Reich collapsed – and I doubt that any would-be dictator over here could ever muster such an intelligence agency with the resources we have here (let’s face it: American intel. is junk – we get most of our own intel. from other nation’s services for crying out loud!).

    Also Bestonnet,

    “Most of the population could be bought off or scared into submission well enough for those the dictator doesn’t trust to be disarmed (and the few who don’t disarm can be shot).”

    It’s kinda hard to scare a guy who keeps assault rifles and AT mines in his basement – imagine whole communities with this kind of firepower lying around the house: I doubt that Hitler himself could intimidate the population into giving them up.

    Also bestonnet,

    “Probably the best way to deal with dictators is to set up a political system where no one can have the kind of powers by themselves and a culture that doesn’t put a high value on obedience.”

    Good luck trying to make such a system – you’ll need it, as all political systems can be corrupted, all barriers to absolute power can be bypassed and all social orders place value on obedience (it’s what keeps those monsters alive) that some power-mad politician can leverage to his/her advantage.

    I don’t know about you, but I invest more confidence in bullets than ballots…

  • bestonnet

    Christopher:

    Do you know why the Reich was so effective at hunting down partisans? They didn’t fight them in a conventional war! Instead, they created their own paramilitary force (the SS) and gave them the task of hunting down dissidents – something that the regular army couldn’t do very effectively.

    Nothing to stop any other dictator creating an SS analogue.

    It also provides an existence proof of how guerrillas can be made useless.

    Christopher:

    Of course, there haven’t been many paramilitary forces as successful as the SS since the Reich collapsed – and I doubt that any would-be dictator over here could ever muster such an intelligence agency with the resources we have here (let’s face it: American intel. is junk – we get most of our own intel. from other nation’s services for crying out loud!).

    Of course the SS didn’t come from Germany’s intelligence services.

    If Bush did manage to become dictator Blackwater is what you’d need to watch.

    Christopher:

    It’s kinda hard to scare a guy who keeps assault rifles and AT mines in his basement

    A helicopter gunship or two should do the job.

    Christopher:

    - imagine whole communities with this kind of firepower lying around the house: I doubt that Hitler himself could intimidate the population into giving them up.

    The threat of carpet bombing and napalm would do the job in most cases (with the few who won’t comply being sacrificed by the rest of the community).

    Besides, if a dictator got the popular support needed most of the people in that community are going to be on the dictator’s side.

    Christopher:

    Good luck trying to make such a system – you’ll need it, as all political systems can be corrupted, all barriers to absolute power can be bypassed and all social orders place value on obedience (it’s what keeps those monsters alive) that some power-mad politician can leverage to his/her advantage.

    The ultimate barrier to absolute power are citizens that don’t want a dictator and ultimately all the others are just ways of buying enough time for the citizens to realise that they need to put that barrier in place.

  • Christopher

    bestonnet,

    “If Bush did manage to become dictator Blackwater is what you’d need to watch.”

    They’re an over-glorified bunch of security guards – they don’t even send their men into combat zones with proper equipment (mainly do to reasons related to cost).

    Also bestonnet,

    “A helicopter gunship or two should do the job.”

    Two words: blackhawk down. Even militaries equipped with the finest in hardware can be humiliated by a group of well-armed civilians under the right circumstances.

    Also bestonnet,

    “Besides, if a dictator got the popular support needed most of the people in that community are going to be on the dictator’s side.”

    Not all dictators have a majority backing them – in fact, more often than not they have only a very powerful and vocal minority fanatically dedicated to them. If all people in a community had access to similair levels of firepower this strategy would effectively be cancelled.

    Also bestonnet,

    “The ultimate barrier to absolute power are citizens that don’t want a dictator and ultimately all the others are just ways of buying enough time for the citizens to realise that they need to put that barrier in place.”

    I concur with you here, but the problem is that this barrier is impossible to erect: there will always be fools so ingrained into the mentallity of the herd that they will want someone else doing their thinking for them. I like having a “plan b” waiting in the wings in the inevitable circumstance that some group of loonies does succeed in instilling one…

  • http://onscreen-scientist.com Oncrn

    Going back to the original post and speaking as a theist (no, don’t hit me!), let me say that making blasphemy a crime is obviously contrary to God’s will, since it is clear God wants everyone to have a choice in the matter by the very way the world has been created. God is not as evident, physically, as the Sun, but if God were that evident there would be no free choice in the matter. Why does God give us free choice? Because it is good and makes each individual life have more value, I think. We get to discover ourselves the answer to the most important question of all: is there a purpose to the universe? I don’t know that I would call God “hidden” exactly, as I was able to come to recognize God’s existence from considering the nature of the universe. This was after decades of atheism, however. Preconceptions, habits of belief, and identification with a particular camp can hinder atheists in ascertaining truth as much as they can anyone else. I should add that God does seem as evident as the Sun, though of course in a different way, once the change of heart and mind has taken place. Some may have an easier time of reaching that point than I did. I invite anyone interested reading a bit of my story to visit my blog to read “On the Breaking of Bad Habits Acquired in One’s Youth: Smoking and Atheism.”

  • bestonnet

    Christopher:

    They’re an over-glorified bunch of security guards – they don’t even send their men into combat zones with proper equipment (mainly do to reasons related to cost).

    The same could have been said of the SS back around 1932 or so.

    Blackwater are pretty trigger happy though so whilst professional soldiers might hesitate to massacre civilians Blackwater can be counted on to just go and do it.

    Christopher:

    Two words: blackhawk down. Even militaries equipped with the finest in hardware can be humiliated by a group of well-armed civilians under the right circumstances.

    Shoot down the helicopter and the community that tries to resist will just get bombed by a fighter-bomber (from too high for a SAM to hit).

    Besides, your typical dictator considers soldiers expendable.

    Christopher:

    Not all dictators have a majority backing them – in fact, more often than not they have only a very powerful and vocal minority fanatically dedicated to them. If all people in a community had access to similair levels of firepower this strategy would effectively be cancelled.

    With the majority of people too scared to do anything about them (and a great many of them scared enough to collaborate with the oppressive government, say by telling them where you are).

    Now if all people or even a lot of people had access to similar levels of firepower there might be chance but I think we both know that won’t happen in the real world (and even those who do have firepower aren’t as likely to use it as you might want).

    Christopher:

    I concur with you here, but the problem is that this barrier is impossible to erect: there will always be fools so ingrained into the mentallity of the herd that they will want someone else doing their thinking for them. I like having a “plan b” waiting in the wings in the inevitable circumstance that some group of loonies does succeed in instilling one…

    Such people will always exist, we simply have to make them a minority (making the country prosperous seems to help there, dictators often thrive when things aren’t going very well) while providing enough of a delay to recognise when the dangerous people are starting to get power so that the rest of the population can remove their power.

    Running psychological tests as qualification for voting or holding office (to keep those with the wrong type of personality from voting or holding office) is a bit extreme though (even though it could possibly work acceptably well).

    As for the plan B if a dictatorship does take hold, there’s probably not that much you could do, at least not without outside help.

    Ultimately to safeguard freedom we must have many nation-states so that if one becomes oppressive the others can help deal with it (and also hopefully take some refugees that realise what is happening).

  • bestonnet

    Christopher:

    They’re an over-glorified bunch of security guards – they don’t even send their men into combat zones with proper equipment (mainly do to reasons related to cost).

    The same could have been said of the SS back around 1932 or so.

    Blackwater are pretty trigger happy though so whilst professional soldiers might hesitate to massacre civilians Blackwater can be counted on to just go and do it.

    Christopher:

    Two words: blackhawk down. Even militaries equipped with the finest in hardware can be humiliated by a group of well-armed civilians under the right circumstances.

    Shoot down the helicopter and the community that tries to resist will just get bombed by a fighter-bomber (from too high for a SAM to hit).

    Besides, your typical dictator considers soldiers expendable.

    Christopher:

    Not all dictators have a majority backing them – in fact, more often than not they have only a very powerful and vocal minority fanatically dedicated to them. If all people in a community had access to similair levels of firepower this strategy would effectively be cancelled.

    With the majority of people too scared to do anything about them (and a great many of them scared enough to collaborate with the oppressive government, say by telling them where you are).

    Now if all people or even a lot of people had access to similar levels of firepower there might be chance but I think we both know that won’t happen in the real world (and even those who do have firepower aren’t as likely to use it as you might want).

    Christopher:

    I concur with you here, but the problem is that this barrier is impossible to erect: there will always be fools so ingrained into the mentallity of the herd that they will want someone else doing their thinking for them. I like having a “plan b” waiting in the wings in the inevitable circumstance that some group of loonies does succeed in instilling one…

    Such people will always exist, we simply have to make them a minority (making the country prosperous seems to help there, dictators often thrive when things aren’t going very well) while providing enough of a delay to recognise when the dangerous people are starting to get power so that the rest of the population can remove their power.

    Running psychological tests as qualification for voting or holding office (to keep those with the wrong type of personality from voting or holding office) is a bit extreme though (even though it could possibly work acceptably well). Looking at what forms the followers and working to counteract it might be a better long term approach.

    As for the plan B if a dictatorship does take hold, there’s probably not that much you could do, at least not without outside help.

    Ultimately to safeguard freedom we must have many nation-states so that if one becomes oppressive the others can help deal with it (and also hopefully take some refugees that realise what is happening).

  • bestonnet

    Oncrn:

    Going back to the original post and speaking as a theist (no, don’t hit me!)

    Hit. :-p

    Oncrn:

    let me say that making blasphemy a crime is obviously contrary to God’s will, since it is clear God wants everyone to have a choice in the matter by the very way the world has been created.

    Doesn’t the bible say something against blasphemy?

    Besides, how do you know God’s will?

    Oncrn:

    God is not as evident, physically, as the Sun

    That’s a pretty big understatement.

    Oncrn:

    We get to discover ourselves the answer to the most important question of all: is there a purpose to the universe?

    Most important question? It’s probably not answerable.

    Oncrn:

    I don’t know that I would call God “hidden” exactly, as I was able to come to recognize God’s existence from considering the nature of the universe.

    I’d be more inclined to call God non-existent myself, afterall, studying the nature of the universe shows something consistent with there not being a god and inconsistent with there being God (or at least the God of the bible, definitions can often be a bit of a problem).

    The people who study the natural world and who are in the best position to determine whether a god is required tend by and large to be atheists which is not what would be expected if there were actual evidence of a god.

    Oncrn:

    I invite anyone interested reading a bit of my story to visit my blog to read “On the Breaking of Bad Habits Acquired in One’s Youth: Smoking and Atheism.”

    Religion could be likened to smoking and it is a bad habit acquired during youth.

    The biggest difference I see with religion and smoking from the perspective of someone who has managed to avoid both is that smoking is harder to quit with people who want to quit often unable to while religion is easy to quit even if a previously religious person doesn’t want to (which seems to usually be the case). Of course with both it is better not to start in the first place.

    Though it does make me wonder how effective a direct attack on religion of the same scale as anti-smoking campaigns could be, I suspect it might be even more effective, if the religious don’t get it banned.

  • http://onscreen-scientist.com Oncrn

    Responding to bestonnet:

    Besides, how do you know God’s will?

    On the question at issue I have surmised it, based on the reason I gave. But I’m not claiming to speak for God.

    Most important question? It’s probably not answerable.

    Well, to the extent that God’s existence can’t be proven to every reasonable person’s satisfaction, you could say it’s not answerable for agnostics, but it’s answered in the negative for atheists. But to those convinced of God’s existence, there is an affirmative answer.

    I’d be more inclined to call God non-existent myself, afterall, studying the nature of the universe shows something consistent with there not being a god and inconsistent with there being God (or at least the God of the bible, definitions can often be a bit of a problem).

    It’s really hard to say what being consistent with there being no God means, since that is really an interpretation of whether or not the very existence of the universe calls for an explanation. I think it does. The second part about the observed universe being inconsistent with God’s existence is not true, unless one is limiting oneself to the literal truth of everything in the Bible, which I am not.

  • http://whyihatejesus.blogspot.com OMGF

    Oncrn,

    God is not as evident, physically, as the Sun, but if God were that evident there would be no free choice in the matter. Why does God give us free choice? Because it is good and makes each individual life have more value, I think…I don’t know that I would call God “hidden” exactly, as I was able to come to recognize God’s existence from considering the nature of the universe.

    Aside from the problems of free will with an omni-max god and the incompatibility of the two…make up your mind. Does god hide from us to preserve our free will, or does he show himself to us so that people like you can come to find him?

    Besides, do you actually use your free will to choose to disbelieve in Zeus? Why don’t you choose to believe in Zeus for a day and tell us how it goes. Further, why would god be concerned with valuing our “free will” to “choose” to not believe if that is not a moral decision?

    On the question at issue I have surmised it, based on the reason I gave.

    So, you are guessing that this is what god wants?

    Well, to the extent that God’s existence can’t be proven to every reasonable person’s satisfaction, you could say it’s not answerable for agnostics, but it’s answered in the negative for atheists. But to those convinced of God’s existence, there is an affirmative answer.

    Really? What is it then?

    It’s really hard to say what being consistent with there being no God means, since that is really an interpretation of whether or not the very existence of the universe calls for an explanation.

    So, wait. Are you arguing here that the very existence of the universe necessitates the existence of god? That would be god of the gaps reasoning and/or begging the question. There is no need for god to exist in order for the universe to exist. And, there is no overarching call for an explanation of the universe – we simply look for it because we are curious as a species. The reason that this universe is consistent with there being no god is because there is no need to invoke a god in order to explain this universe and the laws that it works within.

  • bestonnet

    Oncrn:

    Well, to the extent that God’s existence can’t be proven to every reasonable person’s satisfaction, you could say it’s not answerable for agnostics, but it’s answered in the negative for atheists. But to those convinced of God’s existence, there is an affirmative answer.

    How could there be an intrinsic meaning of life when there is no consciousness behind the universe? Whilst there probably are some atheists who would answer that question with an affirmative answer most of us realise that for life to have a purpose we must make it up ourselves, some people make up a god to give them purpose while others come up with more worthy meanings of life.

    Even if there were a god, following it wouldn’t be much of a meaning of life.

    Oncrn:

    It’s really hard to say what being consistent with there being no God means, since that is really an interpretation of whether or not the very existence of the universe calls for an explanation. I think it does.

    The existence of the universe does require an explanation, but there is no good reason to suspect that explanation is an intelligent, conscious being which automatically makes the universe compatible with the non-existence of a god.

    Besides, look at how successful science has been in explaining things without invoking a god along with how pitiful religion has been with a god.

    Oncrn:

    The second part about the observed universe being inconsistent with God’s existence is not true, unless one is limiting oneself to the literal truth of everything in the Bible, which I am not.

    You may not be but even those who claim to follow the literal text of the bible don’t seem to actually do so, besides, you don’t have to go all the way to a literal interpretation to get a God that is inconsistent with reality.

  • goyo

    let me say that making blasphemy a crime is obviously contrary to God’s will, since it is clear God wants everyone to have a choice in the matter by the very way the world has been created.

    Ex.20:7, don’t take the lord’s name in vain. Isn’t that blasphemy? You seem to forget all the rules and punishments god imposed on his people. Clearly, he didn’t want anyone to have a choice in the way they thought or acted.

    God is not as evident, physically, as the Sun, but if God were that evident there would be no free choice in the matter.

    I should add that God does seem as evident as the Sun, though of course in a different way, once the change of heart and mind has taken place.

    So is he evident, or not? If physical evidence means no free choice, how do you explain his appearances in the O.T. and jesus’ appearances in the N.T.?

  • bipolar2

    ** doubt that the sun doth shine . . . Hamlet **

    ***** First, get out of the god muddle

    Let’s get one matter clear: until you specify what sort of *god* you’re talking about, you’ll simply slide from one concept to another and do nothing but indulge in the fallacy of equivocation all the while.

    Are you going to limit yourself to the theistic divinity *God* who is said to be the personal male-gendered divinity claimed by jews, xians, and moslems? Or, will you opt for the *God* which the US courts refer to when defending the notorious phrase “In God we trust” and the more recent “under God” clause in our flag worship ceremony? It — it has no gender — is a deistic god which created the universe, set it running, and interacts neither with it nor with you. These are concepts of god which are familiar to anyone who has some Western Civ background from 1600 CE to the present.

    Among ancient Greeks, the Stoics, Epicurus, Aristotle, and Plato had very different god concepts which unknown to many still influence so-called common sense ideas about divine entities.

    Plato created a civic religion in “Laws” which held that the Sun was God. The other planets (in this geocentric system) were divinities too. To deny that the Sun was God was to punishable by death.

    In late 5th C. BCE, the philosopher Anaxagoras was tried, convicted, and exiled from Athens for his opinion that the Sun was only a burning rock, not a god.

    **** to bible worshipers and all like-minded fundies:

    Don’t you understand yet what it means to beg-the-question? You can’t cite your ill-conceived concept of sin to support your equally ill-conceived fifth-rate fan fiction, theology.

    Sin does not exist. Talking lizards do not (and did not) sell snake oil metaphysics in Eden. Augustine’s doctrine of inherited sin perversely glosses Paul’s even more perverse account of human nature.

    That account took his own case as normal when in fact Paul was mentally ill. Probably a paranoid schizophrenic — “why persecutest thou me?” says Paul’s auditory and visual hallucination.

    Don’t you understand yet? No matter what some madmen in magical texts tell you — it’s just wrong. There is no magic. There are no incantations. There is no theurgy.

    Your non-existent divinity means zero. IT is one with Zeus, Sherlock Holmes, and Batman. God is the Joker.

    “God” — the pseudo-being you *pray* to — is a psychological projection and shared delusion within your vile mega-cults. They exist and thrive because of cultural inertia, illegal government support, tax breaks, and their appeal to ‘sick noodles’ of whom thou art one.

    bipolar2

  • Caiphen

    Denial of the bright sun of Darwinism is enforced in fundie church schools and YEC is taught as a fact. For Darwin’s sake, shouldn’t we as atheists be doing something about this from a legal perspective? This teaching is what is leading much of humanity down the path of ignorance, intolerance and just plain hatred.

    If you know of any action against fundie schools in relation to their TOE denial please let me know.