An Atheist at Liberty University, Part II

(See Part I here.)

When the band finished their set, they departed and the pastor took the stage. He was relatively young, probably not much older than most members of the audience, and dressed in a plain shirt and jeans. His name, displayed on the giant screens overhead, was Johnnie Moore – a self-conscious use of the diminutive that was probably intended to emphasize the similarity between himself and the churchgoers.

I had come to Liberty expecting a fire-and-brimstone sermon, unapologetic quotations from the more hateful parts of the Bible, pulpit-pounding denunciations of Democrats, feminists and gay rights advocates. That wasn’t what we got; if that ever was the atmosphere on campus, it’s mellowed a bit since the Falwell days. Instead, like the music, his sermon seemed self-consciously bland, intended to be inspirational rather than wrathful. But there were a few points of interest which I’ll talk about here.

The major theme of the sermon came from Philippians 2:14, which Moore translated as “Do everything without grumbling or complaining”, and compared it with several other New Testament verses that teach similar lessons. He repeatedly described this as an absolute command – no complaining, ever, about anything, under any circumstances! Even if your life is hard or your job is terrible, he said, it’s the duty of Christians to turn the other cheek and to always be so happy and contented that the rest of the world will wonder what they’ve got that makes them feel so good.

As part of this, he urged his audience to consider how good they have it in America. He pointed out that Christian converts in developing countries regularly suffer much greater poverty, deprivation, and persecution than American believers (such as one Indian convert whom he says was beaten and forced to drink cow urine by unfriendly villagers). And while this is indisputably true, he didn’t point out the obvious implication: that American evangelicals are being deceptive when they depict themselves as a besieged, persecuted minority, as they routinely do. Nor did he mention that millions of people worldwide, not just Christians, are often subjected to unjust and cruel treatment from their culture or their government. It would have been nice to have some acknowledgment of that, especially in a sermon whose theme was that we should consider ourselves fortunate, but there wasn’t any. Instead, in the moral universe of his sermon, Christians are apparently the only ones whom we should feel sympathy for.

I also want to draw attention to a dangerous implication of this teaching. I certainly wouldn’t object if evangelicals ceased their perpetual whining about persecution, but there are real injustices that call for a response. Very often, it’s been the complainers and the grumblers who succeeded in abolishing these evils. If we all heeded the advice that no one should complain about anything, ever, there would be no women’s suffrage, no civil rights movement, no labor unions, no gay rights movement, no environmental movement, none of the social reform groups that work to improve conditions for the average person. The end result of following this teaching would be meekness, passivity, and docile compliance in the face of authority, even when it abuses its power – and perhaps, for good reason, this is exactly the attitude that the religious right seeks to instill in its followers.

Moore also cited Romans 14:1 to call for unity among evangelicals on “disputable matters”, saying that senseless argument and contention over unimportant points of doctrine divides the church where there should be unity. But the question he never addressed, of course, is who decides what’s a disputable matter? After all, it was Liberty University that only last year tried to ban the College Democrats from campus, claiming that the political positions of the Democratic party are incompatible with Christianity, and still refuses to hire any professor who does not swear allegiance to young-earth creationism. Clearly there are very few things, if any, that the religious right considers to be disputable. (The sole example that Moore cited was the biblical controversy over whether it’s OK for Christians to eat meat that’s been sacrificed to idols, hardly a live issue today.) It would have been helpful for him to list some modern issues where Liberty considers there to be room for dispute, just to get a sense of their position on this.

To finish up, Moore spoke of evangelistic efforts abroad. He exulted over how Christianity is exploding in South America and Africa, rising from just a few million believers several decades ago to tens of millions today. As my fiancee astutely observed, he obviously doesn’t count Roman Catholics as Christians. As for myself, I was thinking of the savage anti-gay madness unleashed in Uganda by its booming evangelical population, or the witch frenzies in Nigeria, or the harm done by Pentecostalism in the Republic of the Congo. Such things, of course, were entirely omitted by Moore in his sermon. It was no surprise at all that he presented the rise of African evangelicalism as an entirely one-sided picture, portraying Christian missionary efforts as wholly noble and good and the converts solely as the victims of unjust persecution and never its initiators.

Coming up: Part III of my tour of Liberty University. We visit an academic hall to see what’s being taught to Liberty students, check out the campus bookstore to see what the administration wants us to read, and make a pilgrimage to the university memorial to Jerry Falwell!

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://oneyearskeptic.blogspot.com Erika

    The few times I have been to contemporary church services they have been mostly standard personal development advice of varying quality loosely held together with references to the Bible. It sounds like this was more of the same.

    That said, in my experience even those bland sermons can make me almost walk out in the middle. For example, a friend had taken me to a very popular, multi-campus evangelical church in Seattle. The pastor said that at Passover, God spared the first born son of the families that believed in Jesus. Such a statement seemed somewhere between terribly ignorant and terribly insulting to followers of Judaism.

  • Peter N

    I sure hope someone is monitoring LU news sources and blogs for any official reaction to this series!

  • Rennis

    I am really enjoying following your narrative for this trip. I appreciate the fact that you seem to be trying to be fair minded about it. Most of the criticisms you are inserting are not from what you are seeing and hearing but rather from things that you wish you would hear or positions you disagree with. I think if the issues in Uganda or Nigeria were included they would have been condemned. Maybe before you leave you could meet or email the young pastor to ask his views on what’s happening in Uganda. I’m sure you are not surprised at some of the differences you find; not hiring an old earth evolutionist is similar to many of the state universities that terminate professors who question those theories or believe in a young earth. I look forward to your next post.

  • Thumpalumpacus

    Just a note: us rednecks have been known to formalize the diminutive. My dad’s given name is “Johnnie”, not “John.”

  • Peter N

    Welcome back, Rennis.

    Can you cite some examples of professors at public universities who have been fired for questioning the “old earth” theory, or being creationists?

  • Katie M

    “Do everything without grumbling or complaining.”

    You didn’t mention the anti-colonialism movement. What if India had just passively submitted to Britain? They’d probably still be a colony-or maybe Britain would’ve given them freedom as a “reward”.

    Or a bit closer to home-what if America had done that?

  • Caiphen

    Ooh Rennis, you’re back.

    Even though it’s off topic I have to ask it. Please explain to me how Dendrochronology can be wrong since the oldest petrified forest dated is substantially older than YEC’s age for the earth.

    I have to say, I still find it hard to believe a physics teacher can be so scientifically illiterate.

  • Jennifer

    Your comments on that inconsistency are very well noted, Ebonmuse. It’s something I hadn’t thought of before. Given how some Xians think they’re the source of all the good in Western society, how would that have come about even if it was true?

    The doctrine of passivity is definitely a Christian addition, btw; Judaism tends to revel in complaint and argument.

  • Adele

    If we all heeded the advice that no one should complain about anything, ever, there would be no women’s suffrage, no civil rights movement, no labor unions, no gay rights movement, no environmental movement…

    That’s the thing, though. All of those movements you name were opposed by the likes of Jerry Falwell, so this argument means nothing to them.

  • Demonhype

    I don’t see a lot of Christians not “grumbling and complaining”, especially the Christians of the Falwell/LU sort. I hear a lot of BS about how “persecuted” their poor, defenseless, overprivileged majority is and how “persecuted” they are by those uppity women, gays, atheists, and other minority or disenfranchised people, how “persecuted” they are when they are prevented from infringing on the rights of others, how “persecuted” they are when any of their steps toward theocracy are either challenged or stopped in their tracks.

    Of course, considering Adele’s comment about all civil rights movements etc. being opposed by the likes of Falwell, it sounds like the usual religious double standard. Don’t complain, if you’re [insert group systematically disenfranchised by Christianity]. Slaves, obey your masters and take whatever lashes they see fit to stripe you with. It’s your duty. You people don’t know what oppression is, and you won’t until you’re a RTC who is prohibited from smearing his/her faith all over the courthouse or prevented from rewriting the Bill of Rights to reflect God’s Will ™.

    Basically, don’t “grumble and complain” unless you have what Christianity would accept as a “legitimate bitch”. Under those standards, legitimate oppression and persecution is just God’s Law, and your complaining is rebellion against Heaven. Your complaining about your human rights as a woman or gay is at best on the level of a rebellious child whining that he can’t have a lollipop. On the other hand, whenever anything stands in the way of the Christian Taliban and their glorious revivial of the Golden Age of the Dark Ages–even so much as verbally condemning it, much less preventing it–it’s persecution of the vilest sort and needs to be stopped.

    It’s the kind of sociopathic behavior you only get when you think you have all the answers AND the Omnimax Lord of the Universe agrees.

  • Katie M

    Truthfully, it’s my hope that the Christian Taliban actually BECOMES the minority some day. I shudder to think of what would happen if they managed to get control of the US government . . . again.

    On second thought, I think their extreme views are ALREADY in the minority. I would like to think that most Americans are sane, at least compared to Falwell, LaHaye, and their ilk.

  • Rennis

    To Caiphen: You were off topic but it is ok to ask. First, I was simply drawing an analogy of different institutions with different missions hiring/retaining staff under different criteria. Dendrochronology does make some assumptions that sometimes aren’t true such as uniformity in ring formation; actually some trees may be older than the rings suggest, at other times younger. Carbon 14 dating also assumes a constant ratio of carbon 14 to carbon 12 which may not have always been the case. When doing any type of analysis we need to be aware of and transparent as to what assumptions we are making.

    The assumption you make in your dendrochronology argument is that the trees that appeared at creation actually weren’t trees but grew from immature seedlings or seeds. Someone who believes in the Biblical account of creation would also accept that God can create people, plants, animals, etc with an appearance of age. I’ve never heard of anyone who believed that when God created Adam that Adam was a newborn baby. He was a man with the appearance of age even though he had just been created. I know that this is not a belief you hold and will reject immediately but I am offering it only as an explanation of the belief. I am not trying to convince you because you are already firm in your own beliefs.

    “….I still find it hard to believe a physics teacher can be so scientifically illiterate….” Some things you just have to accept by faith I guess. :)

    One other point in the post I agree with: Christians in America do need to stop whining and complaining so much–self included. I’ll try to do better. Take care.

  • Caiphen

    ‘Someone who believes in the Biblical account of creation would also accept that God can create people, plants, animals, etc with an appearance of age’.

    ‘Carbon 14 dating also assumes a constant ratio of carbon 14 to carbon 12 which may not have always been the case’.

    It seems like the answers have been discovered by YEC’s to answer us atheists.
    With reasoning like this will rational arguments ever be enough?

    Damn, I thought my theistic arguments when I first came here were bad.

  • jemand

    they are dating SEQUENCES Rennis, built by lots of trees with normal tree lifespans going back over 10,000 years. With your “the were created with full age” you could only explain up to when the oldest one died, because presumably, it wasn’t created DEAD at least. Still over 10,000 years.

  • http://uncyclopedia.wikia.com/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    Rennis “Someone who believes in the Biblical account of creation…”
    And by that you mean “Someone who believe in the Biblical account of creation and takes it literally. And by that I mean “People who are so far off, they aren’t even wrong”. Granted, I’m a grump. And by that I mean “Get off my lawn, you kids”.

    “…would also accept that God can create people, plants, animals, etc with an appearance of age.”
    The Omphalos hypothesis? Really? Do facts mean anything anymore? If that hypothesis holds any water (and it doesn’t, unless one is willing to hypothesize anything and everything to protect, say, crass biblical literalism from the needling fear of uncertainty brought on by the sum total of the facts of the entirety of the whole friggin’ universe), then Last Tuesdayism (google it) is every bit as “rational”* as that. Even more so, as there’s no written text that needs to be “harmonized” with either itself or the real world. It’s win-win. All the assertions, no need for facts!

    *…and by “rational” I mean “Words no longer have any meaning. Watermelon eggplant sunny side brake pad”.

  • http://stevebowen58.blogspot.com/ Steve Bowen

    , unless one is willing to hypothesize anything and everything to protect, say, crass biblical literalism from the needling fear of uncertainty brought on by the sum total of the facts of the entirety of the whole friggin’ universe), then Last Tuesdayism (google it) is every bit as “rational”* as that.

    Creationists don’t even do science the courtesy of being consistent. Last Tuesdayism is completely unfalsifiable and if they consistently held it as an article of faith that God created the world to look as though it was billions of years old, whilst I would not agree, it is not an argument I would attempt to refute (except to point out what kind of demented deity would perpetrate such a fraud). But you can’t argue for that and at the same time argue that humans and dinosaurs co-existed (which is perfectly falsifiable).

  • Caiphen

    Rennis

    I remember in another thread you attempted to argue YEC with a warped argument which was very quickly blown to pieces.

    Now you’re using Tuesdayism, which is warped beyond measure. Isn’t it time you realize as a scientist YEC is dead? Come on, you are a physics teacher.

  • Caiphen

    Yes I fully remember now, your argument from the other thread was based on the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics. Come on Rennis, you know better than that.

    What is the real reason for your YEC? My theism existed because I was so desperate for it to be true. I wanted to be loved by the eternal one but I’m sorry to say, wishful thinking doesn’t make a deity. Evidence just doesn’t support his existence.

  • Wilma

    For some views of the roiling battle with ecclesiocracy in Lynchburg, visit the editorials and letters-to-the-editor of the local paper, the News and Advance. The ACLU’s push for students’ right to vote in local elections has opened a opportunity for the Falwell empire to pack the town council. At present, Jerry Falwell Jr. and his minions are attempting to demonize the City Council to rile up his voters. The opposition is mobilizing and AU is aiding us in confronting blatant voter manipulation. Please also review the local news headlines for updates there such as this latest bit of demagoguery. Come join us in the “Reader Reactions”, give the ecclesio-borg a piece of your mind, and spread the word – ecclesiocracy could happen here.

  • Thumpalumpacus

    On second thought, I think their extreme views are ALREADY in the minority. I would like to think that most Americans are sane, at least compared to Falwell, LaHaye, and their ilk.

    And most Amerioans are tall, compared to infants. :D

  • http://she-who-chatters.blogspot.com D

    The end result of following this teaching would be meekness, passivity, and docile compliance in the face of authority, even when it abuses its power – and perhaps, for good reason, this is exactly the attitude that the religious right seeks to instill in its followers.

    As Pat Condell pointed out, the main purpose of religion is to preserve the power of the clergy. Some of the core unspoken rules of this mindset are that authorities are legitimate by virtue of being authorities (and I don’t mean authorities as in “experts”, but as in “those with power”), and that the world is a morally make-sense place where people get what they deserve. Seriously, try to convince any religious person that life is absurd, or that the world makes causal sense but not moral sense – you’ll likely be ignored, or possibly shouted at (if you manage to brush up against the cognitive dissonance rather than the automatic defense mechanism). It’s like trying to tell an Objectivist that “having wealth” is not the same thing as “deserving wealth”.

    @ Jennifer (#8): Heh, one of my favorite definitions of “Jew” is “one who argues with God.”

    @ Thumpalumpacus (#20): Ooh, you really hit the nail on the head, there. Thing is, “being an infant” is something that humans tend to grow out of, or die trying. Not so much for Falwell… although I guess one could make the case that it just takes longer for the “die trying” part to happen…

  • Stutz

    I must admit, I’m always a bit surprised that people expect fire and brimstone from church services. I would guess that 90% of churches are “self-consciously bland” — a terrific, spot-on description of most every church I attended in my youth as a believer (and of pretty much every Christian rock song ever recorded). I could see expecting more controversy from LU, but I imagine they save most of the hateful political rhetoric for op-eds and rallies and such.

    Here’s my theory: I suspect a significant portion of atheists come from either a very religious or a non-religious background, and in either case I think the tendency is to assume that all religion is more militant than it generally is in practice. Conversely, I think the majority of believers who attend these bland, inspirational services weekly imagine their religion to be utterly uncontroversial and have a hard time understanding why anyone would be an atheist and the problem we have with their beliefs.

    I may be one of the rare non-believers who became one partly because of all the blandness. It all seemed so flaky and wishy-washy. When I felt like I should begin taking it more seriously, I discovered that it became more hateful and unfair when taken seriously, not more loving and comforting.

  • Ashley

    If anyone would like to actually see who Johnnie Moore is instead of judging a sermon, a school, and a person without ever being there or meeting the man themselves… here is the link:
    http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-6993468463254184409#

    Here me out, and I am not shooting you down:
    The difference? I stand on a mountain, looking over the gorgeous views and think “how incredible.” I stare at my hands and think about how intricate they have been made. I consume something bursting with flavor, and I think about my taste buds. I think about my thoughts and I walk into my office and see a goldfish in a bowl. This goldfish has nothing near the intellect that I have. It can’t communicate with you, one whom can form sentences and communicate with others. All of the details I describe are just short thoughts, but please follow my thoughts for just a minute.
    The difference? I can feel something greater than myself. I can accept that big great world couldn’t be an accident. I take faith and believe it was created by God. This takes faith. And you? You believe this was all an accident. Maybe you believe in the big bang theory. Maybe you simply believe we came from nothing. Regardless, this also takes faith. Both cannot be solidly proven. Your version, even spelled out, would not be logical to me. My version, is not logical to you. Both take belief in something that is not completely seen. However, my beliefs cause me to want to follow something greater. Your beliefs put you on the same level as other creatures in this world, none as intelligent or capable as you.

    So you pride yourself in something you don’t believe in? I don’t believe in unicorns. I’m not going pride myself in not believing in something. If belief in God is so unrealistic to you, why do you spend so much time conversing about it? I don’t believe in aliens. I’m not going to start a blog talking all about how I don’t believe in aliens or unicorns. You’d think I was ridiculous if wasted my time publishing a book on how I know something does not exist, right?

    Maybe the problem with christianity isn’t christianity at all. Maybe the problem is that some christians pretend to be christians but they act like the rest of the world. Most of the world’s morals and beliefs are really messed up. I wouldn’t turn a child loose in New York City. Do you think New York City is full of Christians? In fact, we are the minority. Maybe THAT is the problem. Maybe you have been soured by those who call themselves christians and you can’t tell the difference by anything they do, only by what they say they believe. I just think you and your friends spend a lot of time judging something that you say doesn’t exist and yet you really do not understand what christianity is about. Truth is, most proclaimed christians can’t get it right, how could an “atheist”?

    Think about it… unicorns. I wish you all the best.

  • http://stevebowen58.blogspot.com Steve Bowen

    Ah! Ashley

    Maybe you simply believe we came from nothing. Regardless, this also takes faith. Both cannot be solidly proven.

    Atheists don’t “believe” we came from nothing (most of us). It is merely that there is no reason to assume the alternative is God, let alone the God of a given stripe. The universe may be the result of a fart from the eternal floomph ( a pig like creature with propellers where you’d expect it’s ears to be)for all we know. In the mean time observation of the universe as it is gives us no clues other than it is 14 or so billion years old and has an origin that doesn’t correspond with anything in any scripture so far found.

    difference? I can feel something greater than myself. I can accept that big great world couldn’t be an accident. I take faith and believe it was created by God. This takes faith.

    You can accept it but why? What evidence apart from your upbringing and your internal certainty leads you to that conclusion. Faith is the ability to believe something without evidence or despite evidence to the contrary. Unfortunately for your position there is much eveidence to the contrary.

    Maybe the problem with christianity isn’t christianity at all. Maybe the problem is that some christians pretend to be christians but they act like the rest of the world.

    Maybe the problem with some scotsmen is that they pretend to be scotsmen but they drink their single malt with lemonade like a Londoner.

    I’m not going to start a blog talking all about how I don’t believe in aliens or unicorns

    If your society started to legislate on the basis that “Unicorns wouldn’t like it” you probably would.

  • http://uncyclopedia.wikia.com/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    Ashley “I stand on a mountain, looking over the gorgeous views and think ‘how incredible.’ I stare at my hands and think about how intricate they have been made. I consume something bursting with flavor, and I think about my taste buds. I think about my thoughts and I walk into my office and see a goldfish in a bowl. This goldfish has nothing near the intellect that I have. It can’t communicate with you, one whom can form sentences and communicate with others. All of the details I describe are just short thoughts, but please follow my thoughts for just a minute.”
    Sounds like Stoner Philosophy to me. Do you own an acoustic guitar?

    “And you? You believe this was all an accident.”
    An “accident” implies an agent made a mistake. I would phrase it more as an agentless “is“, which probably only makes sense to me.
    Make no mistake, it’s a wonderful “is”. I’m not a big fan of cancer or black licorice, though.

    “Your beliefs put you on the same level as other creatures in this world, none as intelligent or capable as you.”
    And that’s a bad thing? My ancestor was an amoeba. And a fish. And a primate. I am a Man. I share much with my evolutionary cousins. Sometimes, I eat them. They’d do the same to me if they had the chance. Some do.
    That’s not good or bad. That’s another “is”.

    “So you pride yourself in something you don’t believe in? I don’t believe in unicorns…”
    Note: You know you’re scraping the bottom of the barrel when you’re using a Dinesh D’souza argument

    “Maybe the problem is that some christians pretend to be christians but they act like the rest of the world.”
    The problem isn’t those that “act like the rest of the world”, the problem is those that don’t. The “rest of the world” shake their heads in incredulity and disgust when, say, Pat Robertson says something ignorant, mean and stupid, Bill Donohue spouts outrage at some perceived slight against Catholics (equating RCs “not being treated as above the Law” as “oppression”) or when any number of pastors gleefully look forward to and, worse, try to bring to pass, the murder of the world. Millions of Christians, sadly, take their word as though it meant something (millions of other Christians, it should be mentioned, don’t).

    “I just think you and your friends spend a lot of time judging something that you say doesn’t exist and yet you really do not understand what christianity is about.”
    If it’s about not being a douche, I’m with you, but no matter what it’s about (and this bit is critical) I only have a stake in the game when others try to force it on the rest of us (“us”, incidentally, including other Christians).
    “Faith-based” faith, I don’t mind. “Faith-based” sex-ed, “faith-based” government, “faith-based” environment protection, “faith-based” economics and “faith-based” war, on the other hand…

  • Ashley

    Regarding science, it would take just as much faith to believe that God gave us an aged earth to enjoy as it would to believe he put a man named adam with some age on this earth. Did you learn government? First off, society does not really currently legislate. We pretend to with voting and all, but on the contrary, Judicial Activism and such completely leans against all religion at this point. Where has a law been made due to christians’ or God’s dislikes?

    What I find funny is this:
    I say government does not currently act on behalf of the people; I’m unhappy with politics because I think the system is being taken advantage of. You seem unhappy with the government then? Because you think it has been taken advantage of on an opposite spectrum? Yes, I find that alarming. Who are “they” pleasing then?

  • Ashley

    Modusoperandi,

    Noone can seem to answer where this amoeba came from, can you?

    In friendly debate,

    Ashley

  • http://uncyclopedia.wikia.com/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    Ashley “Regarding science, it would take just as much faith to believe that God gave us an aged earth to enjoy as it would to believe he put a man named adam with some age on this earth.”
    I disagree with all of you. All of you.
    Some of you take it on faith that the Earth is a kabillion years old. Others think, on faith, that is 6-10,000. I take it on faith that it came in to existence last Tuesday.
    See? I’m just as rational as you all are.

    “We pretend to with voting and all, but on the contrary, Judicial Activism and such completely leans against all religion at this point.”
    That the Constitution is treated as more secular than it was before is not “Judicial Activism”. It’s treating the Constitution as the Constitution. It doesn’t “lean against all religion at this point”, it’s secular, meaning that no group gets an advantage simply for being that group. The State is supposed to be neutral on the matter, even when somewhat more than 50% of the People disagree.

    “Where has a law been made due to christians’ or God’s dislikes?”
    Blue laws and [banned] gay marriage. There. That’s two and I didn’t even have to think about it.

    “Noone can seem to answer where this amoeba came from, can you?”
    I, as a dirty liberal hippy socialist atheist, lean towards abiogenesis (which, like the Theory of Evolution, has blocks building on blocks rather than having things bamphing in, unannounced), but you’re correct, nobody knows what really happened. And nobody ever will.
    Congratulations, you’ve found a Gap where God can potentially rest forever, unmoved.

  • http://stevebowen58.blogspot.com Steve Bowen

    Regarding science, it would take just as much faith to believe that God gave us an aged earth to enjoy as it would to believe he put a man named adam with some age on this earth.

    No it wouldn’t, although all sorts of philosphical paradoxes follow. But to believe in Adam is to either deny the evidence of our own eyes or assume that the creator God is petty enough to deliberately obfuscate reality. As Modus says, last tuesdayism is just as viable a hypothesis as yours

  • Cosmo Wafflefoot

    Steve…. Could there be another possibility than…. “But to believe in Adam is to either deny the evidence of our own eyes or assume that the creator God is petty enough to deliberately obfuscate reality.”…?

    As I have stated, I LIVE very close to “Liberty (so called) University”. I have studied them for years and they VERY MUCH know exactly what they are doing. They exploit the human ability to dissociate from reality. Just like when a stage hypnotist bypasses a persons “rational” mind and convinces him his wife is sitting in an empty chair beside him. Even when the REAL wife comes on the stage and he is asked…”Who is this then?”… he replies…”My Wife.” Through dissociation ALL things become real. Even two, three or four wives, visible or otherwise all at the same time.
    As I wrote before…. learn about hypnotic induction techniques… then observe the most successful TV Bible howlers.

    CW

  • http://uncyclopedia.wikia.com/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    Oh. I think I read that bit real goodlike while simultaneously, thanks to the Mirror, Mirror version of me, misreading it. “…it would take just as much faith to believe that God gave us an aged earth to enjoy…” & “it would take just as much faith to believe that God…put a man named adam with some age on this earth” tend to be the same people. Same subject, too. I still don’t know what the “Regarding science…” bit at the beginning of the sentence is supposed to mean (“Regarding science, it would take just as much faith to deny all of it than it would to deny all of it.”).
    Now I’m confused. I mean, I was confused before, but that was about something else. Buttons, probably. How do they know which hole is theirs? When they go in the wrong one, is it the button equivalent of trying to sleep on a hotel mattress?

  • http://stevebowen58.blogspot.com Steve Bowen

    Noone can seem to answer where this amoeba came from, can you?

    No, but by ignoring Goddidit as an answer we get to go looking for one. This gives us the possibility of increasing our knowledge of the universe we briefly inhabit, which I think is a good thing.
    As a result of not limiting their options with biblical literalism, scientist have come up with several hypothesis of how life began on this particular planet. Here’s one I like but there are others and one or more of them may turn out to be right.
    What is clear enough is that, ignoring trickster gods, life did arise as simple replicant molecules, evolution kicked in and via amoeba we arrive, all in a mere 3.5 Billion years or so. Awe inspiring isn’t it? Imagine the excitement and thrill of all that to discover. Contemplate the complex weave of interactions over countless millenia, the species evolved and lost, the cosmic disasters, the false starts and reboots that converge on this transient moment when we are here to appreciate it, the only surviving self aware species with the intellect and technology to explore the universe we inhabit.
    But you Ashley want to close the book on all of that by opening one neolithic middle eastern tract and accepting it as fact. No thanks!

  • http://stevebowen58.blogspot.com Steve Bowen

    what is it with these backslashes and apostrophes?

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

    Through dissociation ALL things become real.

    No they don’t. No matter how much dissociation there is, it doesn’t actually make the Earth 6000 yrs. old.

  • http://uncyclopedia.wikia.com/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Maxwell Smart

    OMGF “No they don’t. No matter how much dissociation there is, it doesn’t actually make the Earth 6000 yrs. old.”
    Would you believe…forty years and a pack of domesticated terriers?

  • Cosmo Wafflefoot

    OMGF…. Wasn’t it you that posted… “but the meaning that we impart to ourselves is real.”?

    When I wrote …”Through dissociation ALL things become real.”… I think I was pretty clear on “who” I was talking about. The “dissociated” person.

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

    Nice try Cosmo but you’re conflating and equivocating as per your usual MO. I’ve all along maintained that our beliefs do not change the objective reality around us, meaning that belief in the universe being 6000 years old does not make it so. The fact that you can’t keep your story straight is not my problem.

  • Cosmo Wafflefoot

    So, when you posted…… “but the meaning that we impart to ourselves is real.” What you meant to say was… [It isn't] because someone like you has the right to come along and say MY proof of what is “real” trumps everybody’s.

    How have you found that to work when dealing with religious people?

    … “I’ve all along maintained that our beliefs do not change the objective reality around us”…

    Really? So people who “think” they are going to lose their job and not find another one have NO objective physiological changes? People who think they have no hope have no increased rates of heart disease? What about people who “think” they are going to survive a disease as apposed to people who don’t? You figure there will be no difference in outcome between the two? You should have been a sports psychologist. You could have told your clients… “Believe in yourself? What the hell for, stats are stats…. They objectively PROVE who is better than you and who is worse…so, just do the math and pay my receptionist on the way out. NEXT!”

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

    Cosmo,

    So, when you posted…… “but the meaning that we impart to ourselves is real.” What you meant to say was… [It isn't] because someone like you has the right to come along and say MY proof of what is “real” trumps everybody’s.

    No, I meant what I said. That you are trying to conflate meanings now is your issue, not mine.

    Having meaning or purpose to our lives is not the same, nor does it change the empirical facts of our universe, like the fact that the universe is not 6000 years old. That you consistently fail to understand this, even when repeatedly pointed out to you means that you are either stupid or not arguing in good faith. Which is it?

    Really? So people who “think” they are going to lose their job and not find another one have NO objective physiological changes?

    Are you really going to re-tread the same ground? I’m not going to re-type the response I’ve already given you on this. Go back and actually read it – which BTW, you just showed that you haven’t actually read the dissentions from your position that I’ve put up, which is another indication that you are not arguing in good faith.

  • Cosmo Wafflefoot

    I have read them OMGF…. I just find them silly.

    So when religious people disagree with “you” and “your” objective reality… they are all just stupid. Tell them. Get back to us on how well that works out, OK.

    How long do you intend to continue to ring the same door bell knowing that nobody will answer? Why has your “objective reality is ALL” not worked to date? Oh, I almost forgot. It’s because all the people who don’t agree are stupid. So, don’t try anything else.

    Have a nice day
    CW

  • Thumpalumpacus

    Why has your “objective reality is ALL” not worked to date?

    I don’t think he’s argued that. I think what he’s argued is that objective reality doesn’t bow to subjective reality.

    Now, as to your comment that

    …. people who “think” they are going to lose their job and not find another one have NO objective physiological changes? People who think they have no hope have no increased rates of heart disease? What about people who “think” they are going to survive a disease as apposed to people who don’t?

    You herein ignore the fact that thoughts too are objective events happening in the material substrate of the brain, which can and do cause the release of various compounds which can and do have a more obvious physical effect. Simply because the cause is not physically tangible (which you haven’t shown at any rate) doesn’t not mean it isn’t objective.

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

    I have read them OMGF…. I just find them silly.

    I’m calling shenanigans. If you had read them you would know I’ve already answered these jibes of yours and showed you why your arguments were not only inane, but contradictory.

    So when religious people disagree with “you” and “your” objective reality… they are all just stupid. Tell them. Get back to us on how well that works out, OK.

    Steve may be right…you might be cl, given your complete misunderstanding of what the word “objective” means. And, that’s a big reason why your ramblings are inane. There is no such thing as “my objective reality” or “your objective reality.” It’s a contradiction of terms, and only makes you look foolish for trying to argue it.

    Why has your “objective reality is ALL” not worked to date?

    It hasn’t? That’s news to me, considering Uri Gellar really couldn’t bend spoons, and psychics don’t actually have any powers, nor does religious belief that the Earth is 6000 years old actually make it objectively true. That, and you can’t argue in good faith and without projecting all of your insecurities at all the rest of us and putting words in our mouths means that this isn’t going so well for you. So, why haven’t your egomaniacal rants worked to date?

  • Thumpalumpacus

    I don’t think this is cl, myself. The writing style is pretty different from his, and internally consistent at the same time.

  • Cosmo Wafflefoot

    The only thing you boys have left to do is explain why religion and supernaturalism are ubiquitous in human cultures…. And why your great plans to change that are not working.

    [... "thoughts too are objective events happening in the material substrate of the brain, which can and do cause the release of various compounds which can and do have a more obvious physical effect"...]

    I know. But, when I used that knowledge it was condemned if memory serves me correctly.

    So, what is it these Bible thumping Preachers have that turns people toward religion that you lack?

    [..."Simply because the cause is not physically tangible (which you haven't shown at any rate) doesn't not mean it isn't objective."]

    OOh I can feel Jesus looking over us all, right now. Can you feel it… can you?

  • Thumpalumpacus

    The only thing you boys have left to do is explain why religion and supernaturalism are ubiquitous in human cultures…. And why your great plans to change that are not working.

    1) Why religion is ubiquitous is easy: humans both crave explanations and cherish traditions. combine the two, and you have bronze-age myths far outliving their usefulness.

    I wrote:

    …”Simply because the cause is not physically tangible (which you haven’t shown at any rate) doesn’t not mean it isn’t objective.”

    Cosmo wrote:

    OOh I can feel Jesus looking over us all, right now. Can you feel it… can you?

    If that’s your strongest rebuttal, you’d ought to hang up internet debating, move to Montana, and take up farming dental floss. You couldn’t look any more foolish than you are now, swatting at strawmen while you flog your ego.

    In other words, answer my point, or refrain from quoting me. When you forgo both, you convince no one. I’m open to your point. I only wish you’d actually support it with information.

  • Cosmo Wafflefoot

    My strongest rebuttal? No Thumper. That would come from your total inability to convince anybody but the “already Atheist” community.
    As an Atheist myself and a resident of an overwhelmingly fundamentalist community I’m sorry to say that your statement… ["I think what he's argued is that objective reality doesn't bow to subjective reality."] is false. It not only bows but surrenders totally.
    If you doubt that take my offer, come to Virginia and let me watch you speak to 10,000 Liberty students. Better yet, address their Law School. Instead of insulting or arguing with other Atheists… do something productive! Lets test your theory on how to spread humanism and Atheism. Lets see if it works. Lets see who is REALLY convincing no one.

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

    My strongest rebuttal? No Thumper. That would come from your total inability to convince anybody but the “already Atheist” community.

    Wait…your strongest rebuttal to support the positive assertions you’ve put forth is to insinuate that we have to prove some made up position that you’ve imparted on us? Pathetic.

    As an Atheist myself…

    As a sockpuppet you mean? Methinks you doth protest too much.

    It not only bows but surrenders totally.

    Oh really? Then you believe that somehow the Earth really is 6000 years old because some Liberty U students believe it is? Or is it that you believe that the Earth is both 6000 years old and 4.5+ billion years old at the same time? Again, this is simply pathetic.

    Lets test your theory on how to spread humanism and Atheism.

    Wow, deflection away from your theory that we need more religion? And, what pray tell have we put forth as our theory on how to spread humanism and “Atheism” (sic)? Again, you’re flogging strawmen because you can’t defend your own position.

  • Thumpalumpacus

    My strongest rebuttal? No Thumper. That would come from your total inability to convince anybody but the “already Atheist” community.

    As I’ve indicated elsewhere, I’m not an evangelist atheist; I merely wish to not be proselytized, particularly by Poes, which suspicion hangs over you now, so far as I’m concerned.

    As an Atheist myself and a resident of an overwhelmingly fundamentalist community I’m sorry to say that your statement… ["I think what he's argued is that objective reality doesn't bow to subjective reality."] is false. It not only bows but surrenders totally.

    If your theory that subjective reality conquers all objective reality, let’s test it. I could think of several tests: the next time a hurricane is about to strike, you sit there and project your thoughts that it isn’t happening. We’ll see which theory wins out. Or you could simply jump off of a cliff. After all, gravity is only an objective reality.

    If you doubt that take my offer, come to Virginia and let me watch you speak to 10,000 Liberty students.

    You book the gig, and let me know. I won’t convince them all, but I’ll bet one or two walk away with new thoughts, which is one of my goals in life. Call me when the hall is booked.

    Better yet, address their Law School. Instead of insulting or arguing with other Atheists… do something productive! Lets test your theory on how to spread humanism and Atheism. Lets see if it works. Lets see who is REALLY convincing no one.

    Who’ve I insulted? All I’ve done is ask you questions. If you take umbrage at that, I’d submit that your thoughts as posted here need revision. A robust argument not only suffers questioning; it requires it for birthing.

    As far as a theory on how to “spread atheism”, I’ve already made it plain that that goal doesn’t particularly interest me. How long must you beat that poor strawman?

    I’d really appreciate it if you’d quit caricaturing my points and actually answer them. I’m struggling at this point to be civil, and your consistent misstating of my position is the reason.

    Your inability to admit error is telling.