Rebutting Reasonable Faith: Is There Non-Culpable Unbelief?

Early on in Daylight Atheism’s tenure, I wrote several critical reviews of the CAP Alert site, but I later gave that up as providing insufficient sport. However, I’ve set my sights on a new and worthier target: the Christian apologist William Lane Craig and his weekly Q&A Archive from his Reasonable Faith website. I’ll begin today with question #88:

I would like to know from you if I, as an atheist, am going to be punished by God for not believing in him. If I, after looking objectively at all the evidence, come to the conclusion that I have not arrived here as the result of a divine plan but merely as a consequence of merely materialistic processes, do I deserve to be denied the gift of eternal life? If when coming face to face with God after death, I reveal that this was a position that I honestly came to after much investigation and really trying to understand nature?

This is an excellent question, and Craig’s answer is illuminative of his theology and the rational faults in it. He begins by claiming that we’re all condemned by default, regardless of our honesty or lack thereof:

…biblical Christianity teaches that no one is good enough to merit heaven. To be judged on the basis of our deeds would be the worst possible thing that could happen to us, for none of us measures up to God’s moral law (perfection)…. Hence, salvation can only be received as a gift of God’s grace; there’s nothing we can do to earn it.

…I remember when as a non-Christian I first heard the Gospel. I was leading a pretty morally upright life—externally, at least—, and yet when I learned that according to the Bible, I was guilty before God and therefore on my way to hell, I had absolutely no problem believing that. When I looked into my own heart, I saw the blackness within, how everything I did was tainted by selfishness. I knew how wretched I was really was [sic].

The first point to observe here is how Christianity exaggerates the badness of human nature. Starting with the reasonable premise that everyone puts a foot wrong from time to time, theologians distort this almost beyond recognition into the belief that we are all completely depraved and vile and that everything we do stems from evil motives. As Craig’s reply shows, this serves their evangelistic purpose by giving Christians a justification to say that everyone is deserving of damnation and therefore everyone needs their salvation. But the psychological harm and suffering caused by this vicious false belief is incalculable. A belief system which taught that human beings are capable of goodness would not only result in less individual misery, but would very likely give rise to more actual good in the world.

The second thing worth noting is that, by divorcing salvation from good deeds or even the intent to do good deeds, evangelical Christians have made getting to Heaven an entirely arbitrary reward. In essence, they believe that there’s a secret password to heaven – one that’s hidden among thousands of indistinguishable alternatives – and the only thing that matters about your time on Earth is whether you can discover it. Raising a family, falling in love, showing compassion to your fellow humans, creating beauty, working to advance the knowledge or the common good of humanity – all these activities, in Craig’s worldview, are meaningless and merit nothing. Finding the hidden password is the only thing that matters, and if you fail to find it, you’re consigned to eternal torment. This view reduces our existence to the level of a lab rat running the experimenter’s maze.

Against the self-evident and appalling injustice of this theology, Craig falls back on his second assertion. Incredibly, he claims that there is no such thing as honest unbelief: that all human beings are aware not just of the existence of God but of the truth of his specific set of religious doctrines. Here’s how he puts it:

My view is that, ultimately speaking, there is no such thing as non-culpable unbelief. For, first, there is good evidence for theism which is readily accessible to all, such as I share in Reasonable Faith (3rd ed.), and no comparably good argument for atheism…

Second, and more importantly, God has not abandoned us to work out by our own ingenuity and cleverness whether or not He exists. Rather His Holy Spirit speaks to the heart of every man, convicting him of sin and drawing him to God.

Craig’s claim that there is “no comparably good argument” for atheism is obviously just rhetorical cheerleading. Even he’s acknowledged the strength of atheist arguments on other occasions, such as when he called the problem of evil a “killer argument” for atheism (see reference).

But as he admits, in his theology rational arguments are irrelevant. No matter what the evidence shows or what conclusion reason supports, Craig maintains that all human beings know the truth of his form of Christianity and only deliberate rebellion causes any of us to deny this. Is this not an astoundingly arrogant claim?

This culminating absurdity does give Craig a response to the argument from religious confusion, but only at the cost of adding a wholly new and far more irrational belief to his faith: the belief that every single person in the world who is not an evangelical Christian is lying about what they know and what they believe. This view requires him to impute deliberate dishonesty and malevolence to the vast majority of his fellow human beings. And this is what he calls “reasonable faith”?

We atheists know full well that our conclusions are sincere, our position honestly arrived at and based on our best evaluation of the evidence. Of course, we can never prove that to Craig and other apologists who are driven to claim that we are all liars in deliberate rebellion, so that they may avoid having to face the unjust implications of their theology. It may well imply that William Lane Craig lacks confidence in his own beliefs, if he cannot abide the idea of sincere dissent and must instead assert that we all secretly agree with him, whether we admit it or not.

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.

  • Leum

    Two things I noticed:

    1) The writer’s name. You aren’t writing to apologists behind our backs are you?

    2) Craig’s ultimate argument appears to be that morality is intent-based, not action based, a theme I also noticed when reading Lewis’ Mere Christianity. In this view, the conscience seems almost irrelevant. Craig and Lewis seem to believe that the part of you that decides not to do evil is of no importance. This may stem from Jesus’ declaration that feeling lust or anger is morally equivalent to adultery or murder respectively (Matthew 5:21-28).

  • Peter N

    All right, I’ll bite — what is Craig’s “good evidence for theism”? I’d settle for just his very very best argument.

    As for arguments for atheism, until the apologists can convince us of the existence of god(s), we don’t need any at all.

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

    Of course, we can never prove that to Craig and other apologists who are driven to claim that we are all liars in deliberate rebellion, so that they may avoid having to face the unjust implications of their theology.

    [Bolding mine]

    Unfortunately for them, even if we were intentionally disbelieving in spite of knowing that god exists, their theology would still contain plenty of injustice.

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

    I went to Craig’s website to check some of his arguments for god (prompted by Peter N’s question) and ironically enough I was not allowed to see the article unless I was a member of the site.

  • TommyP

    Hidden password. That is one of the best descriptions I have heard of christian salvation. Thanks for giving me something else to bug the theists with. Happy new year and keep picking these people apart, it’s always refreshing.

  • John

    “Craig maintains that all human beings know the truth of his form of Christianity and only deliberate rebellion causes any of us to deny this. Is this not an astoundingly arrogant claim?” Very arrogant!

    “No matter what the evidence shows or what conclusion reason supports,”

    I have never really understood this oft repeated phrase. We are talking faith. No atheist has evidence of God’s non existence, and whose “reason” are we talking about? “rational arguments” really are irrelevant. How can we really argue rationally about a being that created the universe Who for reasons unknown to us, cannot be observed, tested or experimented at the present time. When are humans really rational? We are all tainted by our ego. You promote atheism, Craig(never read his work, and untill perusing this sight, I have never heard of him) promotes Christianity. Craig has no monopoly on “truth,” and neither do you or I. If we knew the Truth, it would truly make us free.

  • A. Ackermann

    John,

    No atheist has evidence of God’s non existence

    Nor do we have evidence of the non-existence of a magic teapot most of the way toward Mars, or the Grand Unicorn Court, or Shiva, or Leprechauns. Should we accept that all possibilities are equally likely, merely because they all lack evidence indicating their existence? Or is it more likely that, lacking evidence of such things, they simply don’t exist.

    Somehow I doubt you go through life afraid of the tigers, rhinos, and terrorists hiding in the next room as you walk through your house. After all, you don’t have evidence that they don’t exist – they could be particularly sneaky and quiet, and they broke in while you were distracted.

    Why should we believe anything exists lacking evidence for it? If anything is hiding so well that it will never directly affect you, and you’ll never be able to detect it, does it even matter whether or not it exists?

  • http://gretachristina.typepad.com/ Greta Christina

    In essence, they believe that there’s a secret password to heaven – one that’s hidden among thousands of indistinguishable alternatives – and the only thing that matters about your time on Earth is whether you can discover it.

    Yes. Damn. Exactly. This sums up perfectly and succinctly what exactly is wrong with the “faith instead of good works” version of Christianity.

    Rather His Holy Spirit speaks to the heart of every man…

    I keep trying to come up with a clever, pithy, brilliantly- worded response to this. And all I can come up with is, “No, it doesn’t.”

    But really. No, it doesn’t. It does nothing of the sort.

    This guy clearly needs to talk to the legions of atheists who desperately tried to hold onto their faith when they were in the process of losing it; people who prayed and prayed for the Holy Spirit to move them and convince them that their doubts were unwarranted… and who felt nothing at all.

    Talk about an unfalsifiable hypothesis. “If you agree with me, you’re listening to the Holy Spirit which talks to all of us. If you don’t, you’re just not listening hard enough.” And no matter how hard you’re trying… if it’s not working, it’s because you’re not trying hard enough.

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

    John,

    No atheist has evidence of God’s non existence, and whose “reason” are we talking about? “rational arguments” really are irrelevant. How can we really argue rationally about a being that created the universe Who for reasons unknown to us, cannot be observed, tested or experimented at the present time.

    Apart from your apparent relativist stance, you should be aware that Craig does say that one can reason to god. You seem to disagree with him, good for you, although as A. Ackermann points out, why believe in something that you can’t have evidence for?

  • http://thechapel.wordpress.com the chaplain

    The Christian adoration of Craig as one of Christianity’s leading apologist’s baffles me. His apologetic strategy consists of two steps.

    1. Obscure faulty logic with abstruse vocabulary.
    2. End the debate, discussion, article, etc., with the claim that rational argument is ultimately useless, as the only way one will ever find God is by experiencing for oneself the witness of his spirit within one’s own soul.

    Craig is a Calvinist. One of the tenets of his brand of Christianity is that most people are not part of God’s elect, the ones who will go to heaven. He doesn’t see this as in any way unjust because he accepts a definition of himself and other human beings as utterly worthless and depraved.

    I refuse to view myself and my fellow beings in this way, and I refuse to worship, let alone love and fear, a god who despises me. Anyone who thinks that a deity

    a)who demands abject humility and obeisance, and
    b)whose wrath can only be appeased by human blood sacrifice,

    is a loving deity has a truly warped concept of what it means to love.

  • http://thechapel.wordpress.com the chaplain

    OMGF:

    It looks like we were posting at about the same time. You said that Craig believes that one can reason one’s way to God. I saw him in a debate in which he said that reasoning about God only gets one so far, that faith ultimately requies experiencing the witness of the spirit in one’s life. This seems, to me, to mean that if one doesn’t experience that inner witness – which will happen for the doomed, presumably – then one won’t find God.

  • http://thechapel.wordpress.com the chaplain

    OMGF:

    Please understand my previous comment as a request for additional information – which I neglected asking for outright. My bad. I’m not trying to nitpick with you. I’d just appreciate it if you could straighten out my understanding of Craig if I’ve missed something.

    Thanks.

  • John

    A. Ackermann
    “If anything is hiding so well that it will never directly affect you, and you’ll never be able to detect it, does it even matter whether or not it exists?”

    Oh, but it has affected me. But for you it doesn’t matter, and frankly, I don’t feel the need to convert anyone. Eternal life in God is God’s gift to you.

    Greta
    “the only thing that matters about your time on Earth is whether you can discover it.”

    Not true, a poor understanding. No need to discover “the magic password.” The only thing that matters is His resurrection which in essence is our resurrection. Our general purpose in this temporal plane is to “know” good and evil; nothing more, nothing less. Individually each life lived is one tiny bit of knowledge, collectively mankind will evolve as the Body of Christ untill the full resurrection of His Body from the grave(our temporal plane)within the next thousand years. Yes, we have just entered the third day. Pretty incredible huh?

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

    Chaplain,
    You might know better than I, but from my experience Craig has generally talked about reasoning to god. The arguments of his that I’m most familiar with are his arguments for the resurrection, where he tries to present his faith as coming from reason. He also spends quite a bit of time trying to come up with arguments for god.

  • John

    OMGF
    “why believe in something that you can’t have evidence for?”

    Because many of us are looking for something else beyond our existence. All you have to do is go to a bookstore and see all the spiritual and new age book titles – far more than atheist books. I think seekers have been around for a very long time. I believe most religious people fall in the category of wanting to believe or have a desire to believe. I also believe we are innately spiritual. There is no “evidence” for God’s or a spiritual realm, and yet mankind will always seek to attain it.

  • MS Quixote

    I’d just appreciate it if you could straighten out my understanding of Craig if I’ve missed something.

    Hey Chaplain,

    I don’t want to nitpick either, but Dr. Craig is not a Calvinist. He’s a Molinist, debating Calvinists fairly regularly in print and on occasion in person.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/daylightatheism Ebonmuse

    Two things I noticed:

    1) The writer’s name. You aren’t writing to apologists behind our backs are you?

    For the record, I wasn’t the questioner. :) But I certainly wouldn’t rule out sending in a question in the future.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/daylightatheism Ebonmuse

    Talk about an unfalsifiable hypothesis. “If you agree with me, you’re listening to the Holy Spirit which talks to all of us. If you don’t, you’re just not listening hard enough.” And no matter how hard you’re trying… if it’s not working, it’s because you’re not trying hard enough.

    I think an appropriate response, when confronted with arrogance like Craig’s, is a rejoinder along the following lines:

    “You theists don’t really believe what you claim to believe! In your heart of hearts, you know the atheists are right and there isn’t any god. You’re just saying otherwise because you’re stubborn and conceited and because it gives you a convenient excuse to act superior and oppress others.”

    The justifiable anger that any believer would feel when subjected to such a demeaning and condescending attack, we can then point out, is exactly the same way that atheists feel when our sincerity is so carelessly slandered. If they don’t like it when the shoe’s on the other foot, then we can suggest that they should refrain from treating us the same way. No productive debate can ever be held, nor can any progress be made or agreement reached, if the opposing sides aren’t willing to at least grant each other the benefit of the doubt.

  • http://dimension-less.blogspot.com Brad

    I’m noticing some interesting disconnects in Craig’s logic. For example, he says that since we can’t reach moral perfection, being judged on our deeds would be the worst thing for us. This is an invalid implication because it doesn’t take into account how judging is or could be done… and of course Craig would have a responsibility to more fully delve into that matter if he would actually answer Adam’s question about why he will supposedly be judged like he will.

    The Christ-as-scapegoat-for-mindless-magical-penalties is pure nonsense. And of course, the biggest bell-dinger of all that ultimately gives away the weakness of his arguments is his assertion that everyone feels the divine pull of the Holy Spirit. I see two potential reasons for this kind of statement to be made: magical thinking used to explain subjective feelings, or backwards-thinking used to infer that HS must be prodding everyone, because God exists.

    I’ve seen this kind of nasty stuff before from Craig. Straight from his book Reasonable Faith, page 35:

    When a person refuses to come to Christ it is never just because of lack of evidence or because of intellectual difficulties: at root, he refuses to come because he willingly ignores and rejects the drawing of God’s Spirit on his heart. No one in the final analysis really fails to become a Christian because of lack of arguments; he fails to become a Christian because he loves darkness rather than light and wants nothing to do with God.

    Chris Hallquist has an excellent critique of Craig’s book that I also think is worth checking out.

  • Samuel Skinner

    “Oh, but it has affected me. But for you it doesn’t matter, and frankly, I don’t feel the need to convert anyone. Eternal life in God is God’s gift to you. ”

    What on Earth does that mean?

    “Not true, a poor understanding. No need to discover “the magic password.” The only thing that matters is His resurrection which in essence is our resurrection. Our general purpose in this temporal plane is to “know” good and evil; nothing more, nothing less. Individually each life lived is one tiny bit of knowledge, collectively mankind will evolve as the Body of Christ untill the full resurrection of His Body from the grave(our temporal plane)within the next thousand years. Yes, we have just entered the third day. Pretty incredible huh?”

    So God has decided to treat us as a labratory experiment. Yay.

    “Because many of us are looking for something else beyond our existence. All you have to do is go to a bookstore and see all the spiritual and new age book titles – far more than atheist books. I think seekers have been around for a very long time. I believe most religious people fall in the category of wanting to believe or have a desire to believe. I also believe we are innately spiritual. There is no “evidence” for God’s or a spiritual realm, and yet mankind will always seek to attain it.”

    So is tribalism. Or competitiveness. Or intolerant idealism. Just because it is inherent doesn’t make it good.

  • 2-D Man

    So God has decided to treat us as a labratory experiment. Yay

    Ha! God is a grad student.

    [H]e fails to become a Christian because he loves darkness rather than light and wants nothing to do with God.

    I wouldn’t want anything to do with him if he were to exist. I don’t generally make it a point of my life to associate with rapists, torturers, and executioners, or those who order similar things (and the executions are typically the most justified, though they’re applied for trivial offenses). Is that really darkness?

  • staceyjw

    John:
    Incredible is right, in the real sense of the word- unbelieveably over the top and unimaginable. And it doesnt connotate anything positive, negative things are incredible too.
    Yep, its an incredible thing, to claim that if you believe in a blood sacrifice you get the gift of eternal life. Of all of the things a human could do to go on to “heaven”, this is really what is the test? Sillier than it sounds.
    The brand of xtianity that believes in faith overr works is ridiculous. So I CAN MURDER AND PILLAGE,but if I accept christ, I get a reward. do people even see how backwards this is? This is why mobsters are Catholic……..

  • Tom

    Oh, but it has affected me.

    Did it really, John? Or was it just your belief in it that affected you, regardless of its actual existence?

    If it did measurably affect you in direct correlation to some action you took, then that would constitute a verifiable, empirical test – please, for the sake of all of our eternal salvations, tell us what you did and what was the result, so that we can make a proper statistical study of the phenomenon and prove it isn’t just a clustering illusion or some similar cognitive bias being fooled by a blip in the statistical “background noise”.

    If it didn’t affect you in any such verifiable way, then as an assertion it is entirely superfluous and adds nothing to your earlier argument of faith, while giving the appearance of additional proof to anyone who doesn’t bother to challenge it; it’s effectively just a restatement of your earlier assertion that god simply exists and one must have faith, i.e. believe without any good reason.

  • mikespeir

    It wouldn’t matter even if we did have some “innate sense” of God’s existence. If empirical evidence and inferences from that evidence speak to the contrary, we’re more than justified in not believing. We would then reasonably conclude that this “sense” is not, in fact, of the Holy Spirit, but just a misleading phenomenon of our own psyches.

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

    John,

    Because many of us are looking for something else beyond our existence. All you have to do is go to a bookstore and see all the spiritual and new age book titles – far more than atheist books. I think seekers have been around for a very long time. I believe most religious people fall in the category of wanting to believe or have a desire to believe. I also believe we are innately spiritual. There is no “evidence” for God’s or a spiritual realm, and yet mankind will always seek to attain it.

    To me, this sounds like an explicit admission that you and others believe simply because you want it to be true.

  • nogrief

    John, first of all I want to assure you that I honestly appreciate the contributions you make at this site. …even though I adamantly disagree with where your thoughts are intended to take people.
    The value I get is to understand more fully what leads theists to think as they do. I’ve noted that theists typically suffer from a mental blind spot when it comes to recognizing the deeper personal motivations that elicit the opinions they hold.

  • nogrief

    BTW. You are to be complimented for holding back on resorting to quoting biblical citations. It seems to indicate that you’ve come to realize how flatly they fall on the ears of skeptics. …that’s progress.

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

    “Hence, salvation can only be received as a gift of God’s grace; there’s nothing we can do to earn it.”
    I see this, if you’ll excuse my hypothesizing, as an attempt to stop people from the proverbial “buying the stairway to Heaven” at the end of their lives. I think that they were trying to promote “good works” all life long (as “fruits of the holy spirit” and such). Unfortunately “faith & grace” is so easily twisted into “elect and fuck you” (as well as ignoring all mentions of “works” in the NT, like “faith without works is dead” of James2:20&26 – which, at least theoretically is one advantage of the RCs. Plus, they get the coolest hats).
    The general focus on belief over action is disturbing, in any event.

    …in character
    “Craig maintains that all human beings know the truth of his form of Christianity and only deliberate rebellion causes any of us to deny this. Is this not an astoundingly arrogant claim?”
    Clearly, it’s the most humble thing ever. It’s his “infallible witness of the holy spirit”. It’s not his fault that you don’t listen to yours, sinner.

    “This view requires him to impute deliberate dishonesty and malevolence to the vast majority of his fellow human beings.”
    But that’s because they’re all bad. Every goddamned last one of them. If they were good, they’d be just like Craig; guided by the spirit and saved. My logic is unrefutable! My infallible witness of the holy spirit told me so. It refuses, however, to tell me where I left my keys.

    “…so that they may avoid having to face the unjust implications of their theology.”
    But God, being good by nature, being defined as good, is incapable of “injustice”. Just because the Fallen nature of Man uses a different definition of “justice” doesn’t mean that God is not just, it simply shows you just how far away we are from His perfection.
    /in character…
    Sometimes, writing “in character” hurts.

    John “How can we really argue rationally about a being that created the universe Who for reasons unknown to us, cannot be observed, tested or experimented at the present time.”
    If we were talking about deism, you would have a point, but we’re not. This is supposed to be about a God that works in this world. This would make Him detectable, even if only indirectly. Unfortunately for Him, His actions don’t rise above the level of the anecdotal. This puts Him in the same category as homeopathy.

    “Individually each life lived is one tiny bit of knowledge, collectively mankind will evolve as the Body of Christ untill the full resurrection of His Body from the grave(our temporal plane)within the next thousand years.”
    What a delightfully evidence-free statement. If you worked in management, you’d be talking about “out of the box thinking” helping business to “leverage assets” by “shifting the paridigm”.

    “I also believe we are innately spiritual.”
    Spiritual and religion are not mutually inclusive.

    “There is no “evidence” for God’s or a spiritual realm, and yet mankind will always seek to attain it.”
    We’re a puzzle-solving species that has the habit of attaching agency to things that have none (this is why it’s the hammer whose to blame for bashing your thumb). That explains it pretty well, I think. I asked my holy spirit and it agreed (that it agreed that it didn’t exist is merely a “mystery” that our human minds are unable to comprehend). Obviously this means that you’re wrong.

    Greta Christina “Talk about an unfalsifiable hypothesis. ‘If you agree with me, you’re listening to the Holy Spirit which talks to all of us. If you don’t, you’re just not listening hard enough.’ And no matter how hard you’re trying… if it’s not working, it’s because you’re not trying hard enough.”
    You forgot the final piece to that, “If you come to a different conclusion than me (eg: RC, Islam, Shinto, etc), you’re the one whose wrong.” Theology major advantage is that the speaker is always correct.

    OMGF “He also spends quite a bit of time trying to come up with arguments for god.”
    Cosmological argument, teleological argument, moral argument & transcendental argument. The big arguments aren’t really new.

    MS Quixote “He’s a Molinist, debating Calvinists fairly regularly in print and on occasion in person.”
    I try to avoid debates like that. It’s too much like watching Trekkies debate Klingon pronunciation (“Gaak!” “No. Gaahgh!”). Now I’ll be giggling for at least an hour. Thanks a lot.

    staceyjw “So I CAN MURDER AND PILLAGE,but if I accept christ, I get a reward.”
    Worse: both Hitler and the majority of his victims are in the same place.

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

    I think that Craig picks his theology based on the size of its inventor’s head. That Molina fellow sure had a giant melon.

  • MS (Quixote)

    Now I’ll be giggling for at least an hour. Thanks a lot.

    No problem. I’m kicking myself for my last minute decision not to include my standard “cue Modus” tag when drawing a theological distinction on this site. BTW, I think it’s “gaawak.”

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

    There’s no need for a tag. We’ve got the MoSignal for a reason. Alternately, you can just pick up the MoPhone and call the MoCave.

  • MS (Quixote)

    And I suppose you can do Motown as well in your superhero tights. One thing I need to know though: who’s your sidekick? It’s Brad, right? Or is it Mikespeir?

  • mikespeir

    Or is it Mikespeir?

    Huh? What’d I do?

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

    I have no idea who my sidekick is. It’s some guy in a mask. Nonetheless, I know that he’s a real sidekick because he makes the “Kapow!” and “Zot!” sounds when he punches and kicks, respectively. You can’t just fake stuff like that.
    Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to take the MoMobile in for an oil change.

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

    And just to get this rash of off-topicness out of the way, yes, last week I did fight The Nippler. I won’t go into the details, but suffice it to say that her superpower is awesome.

  • Dave

    The theists arguments always boil down to:

    “I will see it when I believe it”

    If you won’t, can’t or otherwise believe it, you will never see it. The leap always comes first. Who cares about evidence.

    Unfortunately, the “who cares about evidence” then creeps over into activities where evidence does matter.

  • John

    stacey,
    “blood sacrifice” are not words I used.

    tom,
    “please, for the sake of all of our eternal salvations”
    You wouldn’t believe anything I say, besides that, you don’t need to worry about your salvation – it’s all handled.

    mikespeir,
    “It wouldn’t matter even if we did have some “innate sense” of God’s existence. If empirical evidence and inferences from that evidence speak to the contrary, we’re more than justified in not believing”

    what “evidence” can you or anyone else possibly have to contradict God’s existence? Inferences are, well, inferences.

    OMGF,
    Yes, I hold that most Christians really do not have 100 percent belief in God. I have been a member of many different churches where I see members so involved with the things of this world. I do see a sincere desire to know Him, but the cares of this life get in the way. I can also probably deduce that a large portion of atheists also question their beliefs that God doesn’t exist. It should remain a personal thing.

    Dave,
    This is true, but I may add that God “is not a respector of persons,” which explains why some people convert to Christianity after receiving a vision of Christ. In these cases these people “see” before they “believe.”

  • Paul S

    Please stop feeding the troll!

  • http://thechapel.wordpress.com the chaplain

    MSQuixote – thanks for the correction. I’ll have to read some more about Molinism; but, if it gives me a headache, I’ll be blaming you. :)

    OMGF – you’re right that Craig spends a lot of time engaging in what appear to be rational debates. It’s weird, really. If salvation is ultimately by faith and is completely the work of God, then reason shouldn’t have anything to do with it.

  • Leum

    I found the Wikipedia entry on Molinism to be pretty straightforward. It looks like it’s just a distinction between God choosing the elect without respect for free will and His actualizing a world in which certain people would choose salvation. Seems like a minor quibble to me, but theologians have a habit of making mountains out of molehills (no offense intended, MS).

  • MS Quixote

    but theologians have a habit of making mountains out of molehills (no offense intended, MS).

    None taken. I’ve noticed that you atheologians quibble quite a bit as well. Wasn’t it OMGF that said something along the lines of “getting atheists to agree is like herding cats”? Great quote whoever wrote it. I think perhaps the more you care about something–or the truer you think something is–the more likely one is to quibble. Of course from the outside it looks like a molehill.

  • Leum

    Good point. The internet probably depends on it, as do a number of academics and scientists. The quibbles can be important, after all, at least on the inside.

  • David

    John

    You avoid the question and assume that the existence of your particular deity is obvious when it is not. “Why is the belief in your particular deity anymore justified than the belief in any number of others”? It’s been pointed out ad-nauseum that lack of proof in a proposition is not evidence for it. Everything you attempt to do when you debate on these forums is point out the “reasons” you believe in your particular superstition, and then when your reasons are questioned, you do the typical dodge and weave, picking amongst the many posts to answer the few points you can and running away from the questions you can’t. In the end for any theist, there is no reason for you to be here if in the final analysis you can only admit it’s something you take on faith.

    Regards
    Dave

  • David

    Leum / MS Quixote

    Quibble …. the devil’s in the details?

    Regards
    Dave

  • http://dimension-less.blogspot.com Brad

    John, it seems to me you are mixing your own subjective impressions with theology to invent unsupported ideas (romantic ones, albeit). Does this perception sound accurate?

    David, I have trouble remembering when John said God is obvious. And what makes you think John can’t have a reason to be here even if he does take the idea of a God on faith?

    @MS: I’m not Modus’ sidekick, I’m the one that always secretly turns on the MoSignal. (Don’t tell anyone, though.)

  • Dave

    John:

    Dave,
    This is true, but I may add that God “is not a respector of persons,” which explains why some people convert to Christianity after receiving a vision of Christ. In these cases these people “see” before they “believe.”

    But have they been primed to “believe” before they “see” their vision? Sustained proselityzation may have set the stage. In which case, their supernatural experience is reduced to psychological susceptibility. They “see” what they have been lead to “believe”.

  • David

    Actually Dave, I would pose the question to his: “but I may add that God “is not a respector of persons,” which explains why some people convert to Christianity after receiving a vision of Christ…” with: I was under the impression that what your god wants is beyond our comprehension….so how do you assign it characteristics like “is not a respector(sic) of persons”?

    Regards
    Dave

  • mikespeir

    what “evidence” can you or anyone else possibly have to contradict God’s existence? Inferences are, well, inferences.

    You know, when they say, “Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence,” they’re wrong. Absence of evidence is evidence of absence. It may not be proof positive, but it is certainly evidence. So my evidence for God’s non-existence is primarily that I don’t see any real evidence for his existence. If you need it, you have my permission to believe. But I don’t. Like Dave, I’ll believe it when I see it. So far, I haven’t seen it. (Although, at one time I would’ve told you I had.)

  • staceyjw

    John
    You dont havt to say “blood sacrifice” specifically; anytime you refer to the resurection or jesus as our savior you say it implicitly. I think its a perfect shorthand way (thanks chaplain for first describing this way) to refer to the event. God sent his only son in human form to be brutally crucified to save us? How is this NOT blood sacrifice?
    And xtians make fun of other faiths that believe in blood sacrifice….

    Also
    I dont think John qualifies as a troll. His comments are relevant and thought out, even if we disagree. I always thought a troll was a poster that left flames, unrelated comments, or basic nastiness with the intention to provoke attacks. I could be wrong though.

    Ah, semantics ;)

  • Paul S

    I dont think John qualifies as a troll. His comments are relevant and thought out, even if we disagree. I always thought a troll was a poster that left flames, unrelated comments, or basic nastiness with the intention to provoke attacks. I could be wrong though.

    I think “troll” when I see posts like this:

    John said:

    No atheist has evidence of God’s non existence, and whose “reason” are we talking about? “rational arguments” really are irrelevant. How can we really argue rationally about a being that created the universe Who for reasons unknown to us, cannot be observed, tested or experimented at the present time. When are humans really rational? We are all tainted by our ego.

    and this:

    The only thing that matters is His resurrection which in essence is our resurrection. Our general purpose in this temporal plane is to “know” good and evil; nothing more, nothing less. Individually each life lived is one tiny bit of knowledge, collectively mankind will evolve as the Body of Christ untill the full resurrection of His Body from the grave(our temporal plane)within the next thousand years. Yes, we have just entered the third day. Pretty incredible huh?

    My classification of John as a troll in this instance is due to same tired Christian prosletyzing with the added bonus claim that “rational arguments really are irrelevant.”

    If “troll” isn’t the appropriate handle, I’m open to suggestions.

  • John

    Stacey,

    “God sent his only son in human form to be brutally crucified to save us? How is this NOT blood sacrifice”

    Perhaps from your view I can see why you would think this. From my view, we are Christs’ Body, and we currently reside in the grave.

    This is going to drift off topic, so I’ll end it with the above statement.

    I have just started a Christian blog on “blogspot” and I will link this atheist site when I get it up and running. I have learned a lot here. Especially “The Jesus Puzzle,” which basically supports all that I know. One qualifier is, I can’t begin blogging untill I receive a send, which can only be done by Him.

  • Brad

    Leum: I suppose some theological distinctions, although small in the abstract, could mean a theological theory stays logically intact as opposed to falling apart at the seams, or, the eternal fate of people – in which cases the distinctions could very well be “mountains.”

    David: I don’t think most believers claim that God is entirely incomprehensible, but rather, claim there are incomprehensible aspects to his nature. (e.g. We cannot fully plot out the results of all omniscient calculations, but we know he “loves” us.)

    Absence of evidence is evidence of absence. [-mikespeir]

    This depends on the hypothesis in question, of course. The credibility of a “distant” God is relatively unaffected by lack of evidence, and thus some believers remain with belief even when there is no plain, obvious, certain support for belief. I’m with you all the way, though, on the next step of this tired discourse: by what reason should we believe, then?

    Paul S: John isn’t trying to start controversy, nor is he throwing flames anywhere, nor is he offering irrelevant or off-topic comments, but only offering what he sees as the truth because he thinks it should at the very least be offered here, since it’s not promoted highly. Hence I think “troll” is an inaccurate description of him. And yes, I think he has consistently given the same “inferences are just inferences” sentiment over and over again – this is the inevitable result of a belief that is immune to flat-out contradiction. (Am I right, John?)

  • John

    Brad,
    “this is the inevitable result of a belief that is immune to flat-out contradiction. (Am I right, John?)”

    You are except that “belief” in my case is belief born from knowledge, and impossible to contradict. Nothing, absolutely nothing on this site or anywhere I know of contradicts anything I know. If anything, the knowledge obtained from this site merely reinforces what I already know. Don’t get me wrong, as far as knowledge of God and His purpose. I am still a babe on milk – I have so much to learn. I would like nothing better than to learn mouth to mouth, that time may come soon.

  • staceyjw

    This may be off topic, but I for one like hearing opinions that are different from mine. Its boring, not to mention closed minded, to spend all your time reading things you agree with. Intellectual growth depends on hearing opposing ideas, to either learn to refute or learn from them.

  • John

    Stacey,

    “This may be off topic, but I for one like hearing opinions that are different from mine. Its boring, not to mention closed minded, to spend all your time reading things you agree with. Intellectual growth depends on hearing opposing ideas, to either learn to refute or learn from them.”

    Which is why this Christian comes here.

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

    John This is true, but I may add that God “is not a respector of persons,” which explains why some people convert to Christianity after receiving a vision of Christ. In these cases these people “see” before they “believe.”
    So, the next time I’m told that God can’t intervene directly because that would compromise free will, should I direct them to you? Alternately, should I direct them to other people who have had other visions of other gods?

    Paul S “If “troll” isn’t the appropriate handle, I’m open to suggestions.”
    On the CB I call him “bandit”, on account of the Firebird and the screaming Sally Field in the passenger seat. He really should stop and let her out.

    staceyjw “Intellectual growth depends on hearing opposing ideas, to either learn to refute or learn from them.”
    Thanks to arguments with creationists on other sites I, for one, have ended up reading more about evolution than I ever intended to. Brutal and uncaring it may be, it’s pretty cool. I also learned that debate (and from that, any hope at consensus) is impossible if the opposing parties can’t agree on the facts.

  • Leum

    One of my professors firmly believes that creationists are a major source of inspiration to hone, refine, and improve the theory of evolution.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/daylightatheism Ebonmuse

    Unless there are two Christians living in the same city who have the same completely idiosyncratic and largely incomprehensible theology, John is Dutch in a new guise.

  • Paul S

    This may be off topic, but I for one like hearing opinions that are different from mine. Its boring, not to mention closed minded, to spend all your time reading things you agree with. Intellectual growth depends on hearing opposing ideas, to either learn to refute or learn from them.

    I too, enjoy hearing opinions that are different than mine. However, the things I’m reading from John are nothing new and quite frankly, insulting to anyone whose worldview is based upon reason and rationality. I mean, there’s no way to have a discussion when this is the argument that one has to work with:

    John said:

    How can we really argue rationally about a being that created the universe Who for reasons unknown to us, cannot be observed, tested or experimented at the present time.

    My question to John is, “If the being that created the universe cannot be observed, tested or experimented, what evidence is there that this “being” even exists? Something that can’t be observed, tested or experimented is the equivalent of something that doesn’t exist.

    See Ebon Musings: One More Burning Bush for the “God-sense” rebuttal.

  • mikespeir

    This depends on the hypothesis in question, of course. The credibility of a “distant” God is relatively unaffected by lack of evidence, and thus some believers remain with belief even when there is no plain, obvious, certain support for belief. I’m with you all the way, though, on the next step of this tired discourse: by what reason should we believe, then?

    Well, I’ll buy that as a technicality. On the other hand, approaching the problem with a clean slate, there’s really no reason even to introduce the idea of deity. The problem is, we never get to start with a clean slate. There are always those about us who try to foist the burden of proof onto us; it’s somehow incumbent upon us to show that the god they believe in isn’t real. In that case, no evidence for God really is good evidence that he doesn’t exist.

  • goyo

    I knew that was Dutch! No one else has a theology like that.
    Theists, here is my proof there is no god: If we were to sit down over a beer and compare lives, there would be no difference in your life or mine. We would have good times, bad times, deaths in the family, successes in the family, etc…
    Why try to believe in a being that does nothing in your life?
    By the way, the bible says he will make a difference.
    You know in your “heart of hearts” that I’m right.

  • Jeff Eyges

    and yet when I learned that according to the Bible, I was guilty before God and therefore on my way to hell, I had absolutely no problem believing that.

    This alone speaks volumes. Christian theology has nothing to do with divine revelation – if such a thing even exists – and everything to do with their own psychopathology.

    The end result is that billions have to spend eternity in hell because they have lousy self-esteem.