Try to Convert Hemant

Mike C. had a good idea.

Let’s just start a thread where Christians can just put their “proofs of God” in one place. And it’ll give me a link to send to people who want to show me their evidence.

Anyone is free to comment or provide rebuttals…


[tags]atheist, atheism, Christian, conversion, God, Jesus[/tags]

  • http://emergingpensees.blogspot.com/ Mike C

    I was only half serious, but I’m glad you liked the suggestion. :)

    I think the scope of this thread should include not just “proofs” but testimonies too. If you want to share your story of how God changed your life, I’d think this thread would be a good place to do it.

    Or rants too, if you just want to rail about how evil atheists are… ;)

  • Karen

    Or rants too, if you just want to rail about how evil atheists are… ;)

    Aaaarrrrrghhhhh! You mean we haven’t heard enough about how we’re soulless zombies and child-rapists yet?

    You’re a sadist, Mike C.! ;-)

  • http://rpkthoughts.blogspot.com Robert

    I disagree about the “Testimonies”… Every testimony I’ve ever heard, when you actually cut out the references to god and get to what actually happen the person themselves achieved the milestone all by their self. Unfortunately, they are not taking pride in the achievement and thus absolving themselves of both responsibility, and the hard work they put into achieving that goal. Kinda sad actually.

  • Mriana

    Well, this isn’t an attempt for conversion or anything of course, but rather book suggestions.

    If you have not read any of John Shelby Spong’s books or his articles on Beliefnet, I suggest them. It will either convince you that a New Christianity (which is technically Religious Humanism, with strong use of the Bible) is the way to go or you’ll be like me and turn Humanist (with no need for the Bible). Oh wait, you are a Humanist already. :lol: If nothing else, he’ll give you an idea of how he sees god (much like Tillich’s Ground of All Being).

    Robert Price, a fellow Humanist, in case you’ve not heard of him already, he will give you educated and informative info to think about, concerning the Bible at least, in case you are thinking of converting. I seriously doubt he would try to convince you about God, though.

    Anthony Freeman’s book “God in Us: A Case for Christian Humanism” is a good one, but it is more Religious Humanism than it is anything else. So the “god” is in essence reason, love, and compassin that is in us.

    Karen Armstrong can also give you informative information on Christianity or any Abrahamic religion.

    One word of advice though, don’t convert because someone inflicts guilt, fear, and shame on you. If you do convert, convert from your heart like you would any other act. Not because of plays on your emotions from other humans. For sanity sake, you might want to check out the Episcopal Church (a liberal branch). They won’t try to convert you, but you’ll get a little different idea of Christians. Of course, a lot are Humanists, Christian Humanists, Progressive Christians, and liberal Christians. You won’t find an Evangelical Fundamentalist in the bunch as far as I know, but their reasons for believing in God are not so convincing either. If they were, Price wouldn’t just be a Humanist who attends the Episcopal Church, but rather a Christian. :lol:

    If nothing else, you will have an informative view from those sources, even if they are baised in favour of the Humanist and Humanistic prospective.

  • http://bjornisageek.blogspot.com Bjorn Watland

    I’ve been speaking with Mormons for about a month now, and their whole job is to try to convert. However, for them, it’s a very simple process. Pray to God, asking if the Book of Mormon is true. You have to really want to know that it is true. If you get a good, tingly feeling after you pray, then that is all the evidence you need.

    Of course, the problem with that, is if you ever learn anything which conflicts with what is in the Book of Mormon, you have to disregard it. However, if you ever have a question about anything in life, there is a clear answer of what you have to do.

  • http://graeme-h.livejournal.com/ graemeh

    They base their life off of a tingly feeling? I hope they don’t pray during sex…

  • Billy

    You’ve all missed it! Nobody can convert to Christianity by attempting to attain or understand it intellectually, it’s a supernatural transformation of the human spirit, soul (mind, will and emotions) and body (healings etc.) by the Holy Spirit. “New creations in Christ” “Born again children of the living God”, it’s a miraculous event that all true Christians experience. Dear athiests, imagine yourselves somewhere in the future living in the power of Christ believing without a shadow of a doubt that Jesus died for your redemption and was resurrected the third day defeating death and allowing you to live eternally with victory in the power of his Spirit. If you can’t imagine all of that then you are half way to understanding what I mean by saying that it can only happen through divine inspiration and intervention.

    Live right, shine bright, Jesus is Lord!

  • Richard Wade

    It’s worrrkiiing…

  • http://off-the-map.org/atheist/ Siamang
  • david

    That’s the problem with god. Unlike the real world, he requires imagination. To believe in god, I require more than his existence in my imagination. If I was to imagine god, it would be one much nicer than the one depicted in the bible, and he wouldn’t mind showing up in times of need, or just to reassure me that he’s there. In other words, he would exist outside of my imagination. Please ask your imaginary friend to pay me a visit. Thanks.

  • david

    If he’s too busy to visit, ending world hunger and global warming would be just as good.

  • Julie Shebaro

    Hello! Just wanted to make a few comments. I think I can understand where atheists come from. They’re intellectual and want to think things through. A lot of them have also seen the ugly side of the church – the hypocrisy, the brow beating, etc. And sometimes as a child I was made to feel, by some other Christians, that God loves other people more than He loves me. They made me feel this way because sometimes they would brag about their spiritual walk with God or put on a “show” at church. Sometimes we don’t realize the hurt that we cause to other people who are watching and listening.
    As for me, I want a real God for my real self and I want you to know that God has really come through for me. I am not living under the same curse as the family I came from. There are all kinds of things that I’m supposed to be that I am not: poor, an alcoholic, uneducated, and not happily married. Also I stepped into God’s deliverance from the bondage of fear in a certain area in my life. It’s only through the blood of Jesus Christ that we are truly set free, because He became a curse for us. This is heavy stuff for me, but it’s all true. And you will find that God means everything He says. For instance, look in your Bible at Matthew, chapter 5, verse 6: “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.” I believe the person reading this right now is just that: hungry for righteousness. I’ve been filled and you can be, too. There’s a little tug you feel sometimes inside; that’s God. He created your conscience. Even little children have an inkling of what’s right and wrong. In the book of Acts in your Bible, chapter 2, verse 21, it says, “And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” So instead of depending on some church, where people are and where people always make mistakes, you have to do this for your own self. Then the church is the coming together of all these imperfect people who make all kinds of mistakes. Would you forgive us?

  • Mriana

    Now can you tell me why it’s so important to convert Hemant? Even when I considered myself a Christian, I did not want to convert anyone, because it seemed so cruel to attempt to change people unless they wanted to change, esp on matters of religion. I still would not want to convert Hemant even if I still was. I love him just the way he is. (love in this respect is friendship love)

    I think it’s best he researches it himself and make his own decision. Even IF he chose to convert, he would still have to research churches to see which one is best for him. It’s a decision he would have to make for himself in the long run and it has to come from the heart, not out of fear, shame, guilt, or anything else. Spiritual or not, no one should make it for him.

    That is something I’ve always believed. In the Episcopal Church, it is Christ’s love that brings us to God, which is a spiritual thing, but it is between the person and God. IF I were to try and convert him, I would highly recommend the Episcopal Church, but that is for personal reasons, in part because they were and are less emotionally abusive. It was there I experienced transcendence IN the Church. “It” was warm and loving, not full of fear, shame and guilt. Never before had I had the pleasure of that experience in a church. I was always on guard concerning the humans in other churches. I never once had any fear of other people’s behaviour either in the Episcopal Church. I might not have always liked their behaviours or agreed with them, but not once did I fear them.

    IF this is what you want Hemant, and only IF it’s what you want, here’s one link in which I stay in touch with what is happening in the Episcopal Church, in case I ever decide to return: http://www.ecusa.anglican.org/ens/ It is more Humanistic than any other church I know of, although it is not perfect, as seen in news headlines, but as far as churches go, I think it is the better choice. They also do not reject science or anything else intellectual either. Bishop Schori was a scientist before she became a priest and then subsequently the presiding Bishop.

    You can even get a second opinion if you have any contact with Robert Price, if you like, but it is a more tolerable choice for experiencing the love and compassion of Christ/God. That’s from a former Episcopalian too, who no longer believes the Christ myth and could never stomach some things like the Crucifixion, Holy Communion, and alike. They do not preach hellfire and damnation, but rather the love of Christ/God, which is in us and all around us. When I say Christ/God, I’m referring to the Trinity that most Christians believe in, otherwise known as 3 in 1.

    So, yes, there are some things I did not give up when I left, but I see what they credit to Christ as rather being of a being that is numinous and very much like the wind in nature. Not like some anthropomorphic being or incomprehensible Trinity deal. So, yes, I very much appreciate SOF with it’s Christian Humanism perspective, but I can’t go with the Bible bit, which makes me more of a Spiritual Humanist.

    Give it a look-see, if you want, but I think you would be happier there as you pursue this question.

  • Mriana

    BTW, Hemant, if you listen to the video on site where Bishop Schori speaks, you will hear and get an idea of the humanistic values of the Episcopal Church. Yes, she does talk abut God too, but she talks about the human also. Something I think you can appreciate. I think, if you want evidence of a “deity”, not necessarily the supernatural anthropormorphic deity, you may feel it there in a numinous form. Some consider it the Holy Spirit, others the Ground of All Being, some, like me, the love and compassion that flows between and among humans and everything on earth. The perceptions and concepts are very diverse, just as the people are.

  • http://www.bookrestoration.net Ed Stansell

    Since Evolution is near and dear to the heart of every atheist. I believe that their acceptance of creation is key to their believing in God.
    The theory of Evolution is a string of preposterous propositions. It is much harder to find evidence of humans evolving from the primordial soup than it is to find evidence for a creator being (God).
    What are the mathematical odds that the earth just happens to be the precise distance from the Sun as to provide a life promoting temperature, has just the right tilt to cause heating and cooling and brings about the seasons and the weather life requires; not to mention an abundance of life sustaining water.To have that alone happen by chance defies phenominal odds.
    Next let us consider the odds of life, if it could begin on its own, spontaneously, developing into complex interacting organisms instead of degenerating and dissappearing. The ratio of chance numbers are too great to calculate the odds on this one.
    Let us suppose that we happen upon an arrowhead lying in the dust. Do we think to ourselves, Hmmm.. Do you think for even a portion of a minute that it evolved? No way! You know right off the bat that it was made by a human or at least some intelligent being. How then can we believe that something as complex as a human being living in an environment that acts in a coordinated fashion where all the plants and animals in existance depend on the existance of each other and act in concert with one another, can have come about simply by mere chance? Can such an accident even be considered a possibility? Not by the rational mind it can’t.
    When the first one-celled life form decided that he would be happier as a two-celled being, how did he go about doing that and what were its thought processes? How did the first eye come into being? How did the creature that produced it know what sight was to know that he needed it? How did he go about constructing such a thing? With all the brains and technology that we possess today, I scarce believe we can create such a thing that works equally well and is made of living tissue. We can’t do it and we know how they work (basically). How incredible, that poor dumb clams, snails, and flies can have done it with little or no brain at all? When the first stomach came into being; what was the creature thar developed it doing for a digestive system while he was doing trial runs on his new invention, the stomach? If the digestive system he had was working, why did he need a stomach? If it wasn’t working, how did he live long enough to grow a working stomach? How many systems fail before he came up with one that worked?
    You’ve got to admit that Evolution is starting to look preposterous about now.
    Biologists tell us that insects that mimick other life forms or objects, have developed this disguise for their protection and survival. Did that biologist ever stop to consider that those insects can’t see themselves to know whether or not they have achieved a good disguise or not? How clever these little bugs are! We can’t do such a thing. And by the way, since this trait was developed out of need. the ones that need the disguise got eaten and could not communicate to the surviving bugs that thay had better change their appearance. The ones that didn’t get eaten didn’t need a disguise. They didn’t get eaten did they?
    I once had the oppotunity to converse with a physicist. Knowing that he did not believe God’s existance, I asked him how he thought all this came about. He started with the preexistance of matter. He said that it began to move about and combine with other matter to eventually form the various elements and even life forms. Then I posed the question to him that if according to one of Newton’s Laws of Motion, that if the matter had begun to move; what force moved it? He admitted he didn’t have any idea. My idea was that God moved it. He believed in the pre-existance of matter and I believed in the pre-existance of God.
    I get the feeling that The Theory of Evolution is not so much science as it is an effort to deny a living knowing God. A damning piece of circumstancial evidence in the case is that Charles Darwin the son of a Methodist minister suffered the loss of a grown daughter through death and after failing to save her through prayer, vowed to get even with God.
    The closest that anyone has ever come to proving Evolution to be true was Darwin on his visit to the Galapagos Archepelago. He foud that the animals on each island varied according to its needs and habitat. That only proves mutability, not evolution. They were still the same species. In all the years from Darwin til now, with all the efforts put into the project, not one link has ever been found between one species and onother. According to selective adaptation we ought to be buried in links and other failed species .
    To believe in Evolution despite all the evidence to the contrary takes faith. I find it much easier to believe in God.

  • http://www.bookrestoration.net Sandy Stansell

    To prove, or disprove, anything, one must begin with a supposition. If we start with “there is a God” the question becomes “Is God knowable?” Man cannot prove to men that God exists. Only God, himself, can do that.
    Because I know God, I know both how I came to know him, and how others can too.
    There are rules, or laws, for just about everything that exists. A thing working, or not working, is subject to those rules. For instance, if you look at a seed, you don’t see the fruit that may be born out of it. Holding a seed in your hand, and looking at it, is not what brings the seed to fruition. So, you could say, a seed cannot produce fruit, if you take only into consideration what you have done with the seed.
    Knowledge comes with experience. Let someone who has planted a seed tell you under what conditions a seed may produce fruit, and replicate those conditions, and fruit bearing might happen.
    I came to know God because he chose to introduce himself to me, so should he choose to introduce himself to you you will also…but…that isn’t much help to you here, is it?
    Since I have come to know God I have come to know many of his rules, or laws, for knowing him better. Since I can’t help you with an introduction, unless God so chooses, I’ll just pass on what I know other than that.
    In the first place, the Bible, I have discovered, is God’s word. Some say a book of laws. True, if you choose to look at it like that…which is probably why most men avoid it. It mirrors to us our own image, which we don’t much like. And it reveals to us what we ought to be, which is impossible for us to be.
    I say that the Bible is a book of promises, made by God to us. It calls itself many things. Truth, for one. And the truth that it reveals is truth about God, and truth about ourselves. So, if we’re seeking to know anything about God why don’t we begin with the book that reveals him. You don’t get fruit if you don’t put the seed into the ground and water it.
    God has promised, in his word, that if you seek, you will find. “Ask, and you shall receive. Seek, and you shall find. Knock, and you shall have it opened unto you.” And this he says concerning wisdom. “If any man lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives it liberally, and upbraids us not.”
    One must seek God where he may be found, in the Bible. As with anything learned, the education comes “line upon line, precept upon precept.”
    To know God, one must experience God. There are many people who have been introduced to God, and know him as savior, but who haven’t gone on to get to know him better and better, intimately. First we may only know him as a child knows his father, then as a servant knows his master. It takes time with him to know him as Lord and as a bride with her husband. Our relationship with God changes if, and when, we willingly get to know him more and more.
    People talk about faith. And to the uninitiated that sounds like choosing to believe something that is unbelievable…taking it by “faith.” Faith is simply taking God at his word, and acting upon it. We take people’s word for things every day. And they’re not nearly as reliable.
    Yes, it takes an exercise on our part. But when in response you hear that still small voice within that says, “This is my way. Walk in it,” you know that you have experienced God.
    That is what you want, isn’t it? Experience? What point “believing” if not the “receiving?”
    God wants to influence our lives for good. He provides “eternal ” life with the forgiveness of our sins. But he also desires to provide us with an “abundant” life, which can only be found by allowing Christ (God’s word) to rule over us. So, only if we take God’s word, and take God at his word, and walk in the truth of it, can we experience God.
    Christianity is not about what we do for God. God is the provider. It’s about what God is willing to provide for us. Salvation is all of God’s doing. Christ died for our sins. But we have to do our part in believing, because believing is receiving. Santification is also God’s provision. “If we walk in the Spirit we will not fulfill the lust of the flesh.” The Spirit is the voice of God which we can hear within us revealing the truth. Service is where God works through us toward others to reveal himself.
    I know…the Bible also says this truth, that the word of God is foolishness to those who do not believe. But the truth is that man is either spiritually alive or spiritually dead. When made spiritually alive, God’s own Spirit is born in him giving him “eyes” to see the truth. No one can give you that sight but God, himself.
    The truth is, though, that “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” So, if you really want to know God, you’re going to have to play by his rules, and seek him where he may be found, in his word, the Bible. No seed planting, no fruit.

  • Steelman

    Ed Stansell said, at the end of a post that mischaracterizes the theory of evolution: To believe in Evolution despite all the evidence to the contrary takes faith. I find it much easier to believe in God.

    I don’t think you necessarily need to choose between science and religion when it comes to the origin of species (or any explanation of the world); many Christians don’t. These two Christians included:

    Francis Collins
    Director of the Human Genome Research Institute (one of the organizations that mapped the human genome) and author of The Language of God.

    Kenneth Miller
    Biology professor at Brown University and author of Finding Darwin’s God.

  • http://groundedinreality.blogspot.com Bruce

    I think the scope of this thread should include not just “proofs” but testimonies too. If you want to share your story of how God changed your life, I’d think this thread would be a good place to do it.

    Go ahead and share your testimonies, but they don’t mean squat when it comes to proving that a god exists. Sorry, but one person’s personal experiences does not a proof make.

  • Logos

    The script on the last 3 post is all weird it hurts my eyes what is wrong with it?

  • Kela

    All I can say is, wow! What a total misrepresentation of evolution by Ed Stansell. If I had never heard of it before and it was explained like that I would think it was an insane proposition too. I am so glad that I am well educated, particularly in the sciences, so that I can see this ignorance for what it is.

  • Jed Olson

    I must partially agree with you Kela on Ed Stansell’s misrepresentation of evolution. However, I only say so in the way he presented it, for most of it is rather true. I have done extensive research of my own from both sides of this issue, and in the end, both sides have to admit to “believing” in something that can’t be ultimately proven. For the Theist, he/she cannot (with evidence or knowledge from any source) answer the question “Where did God come from?” Ultimately the Theist must just believe that God created everything, though they can’t FULLY know this infinite God because Humans are, of course, finite. Sure there are several scientific proofs for a creator, but in the end it still comes down to belief (even from Holy Books, no one can answer the aforementioned question). With the Atheist, he/she cannot prove or have knowledge of where the matter that exploded in the Big Bang comes from, nor can they answer with undeniable proof how the scientific laws came about. Ultimately for the Atheist, he/she must believe (or have faith) that everything is merely chance without fully being able to prove or have evidence of everything. Sure, there are several scientific proofs for evolution (though all of them micro-evolution, for macro-evolution has never been seen nor has had evidence of), but in the end, it still comes down to belief–mathematically, anything past 1 in 10 to the 65th power is deemed impossible, and the chances that evolution took place are far slimmer, thus some amount of faith is required. To conclude, sorry Theists, you can’t prove everything about God, sorry Atheists, not everything can be proven. Instead of both sides trying to convince one or the other, each should research from the other’s perspective, and then come with their own unbiased conclusions. In the beginning infinite God, or in the beginning inexplainable matter and laws, which will you choose?

  • Billy

    This probably sounds so ignorant, simplistic and childish to a lot of people….but what did come first? The chicken or the egg?

  • Richard Wade

    The egg. A single cell. Something probably like an amoeba. Just a very long time before the chicken. Very good question actually, Billy.

  • Jed Olson

    If you are a Christian, Muslim, or other kind of monotheist, the answer is the chicken (God created fully developed creatures–i.e. Adam was a grown man not a baby in the creation story.

    If you are an Animist, Hindu, or Buddhist, neither came first, for with reincarnation, everything is a cycle and nothing really has a beginning or end (I could be wrong on this one, my knowledge of Animist belief systems is more limited than other world views).

    If you are a Humanist, Atheist, or Agnostic, then the answer would most likely be the egg which came from something other than the chicken in the evolutionary process.

    Thus, even a simple question as this largely depends on your world view.

  • HappyNat

    Ed and Sandy,

    Are you cutting and pasting from the same site or different ones?

    Logos said,

    The script on the last 3 post is all weird it hurts my eyes what is wrong with it?

    The script hurting your eyes is an obvious sign of God!! Hemant’s challenge has been answered . . .The True God speaks to us through fonts.

  • Stephan

    Now that we’ve answered the chicken/egg question (a tasty proposition, if I must say so), is the glass half full or half empty?

    Regarding testimonies, I believe your perspective determines your understanding. If you want to find a natural explanation for anything, you probably can, and you rule out any theistic explanation by your own preconceived beliefs. On the other hand, you can credit anything to God that you want to, and I believe lots of things have been credited to God that He has (and wants) nothing to do with.

    That said, I have seen things in my life and in the lives of those close to me that defy a natural, logical explanation. To me it points to a force beyond our understanding, however you want to define it. I know enough not to try to convince an atheist that God exists, but I will continue to believe it for myself and share my experiences and beliefs with those around me.

  • Keith

    Hemant,

    I have greatly admired you from afar, and I appreciate your courage and open-mindedness. Thank you for being friendly. I will bite on this offer, though my intent is not exactly to convert.

    Hemant, you know why you don’t believe in God much better than I know why you don’t believe in God. Also, you know what would cause you to affirm his existence much more than I know what would cause you to do so. So all I have to offer is this, keep wrestling with these thoughts and be as specific with yourself as possible. The more specific you get with what kind of God-evidence you would expect to see, the more likely that you will do one of two things: 1. You will be able to even more capably and clearly communicate why you choose to not believe in God 2. You will be able to capably and clearly communicate why you have changed and believe in God. Either way, I think many people will benefit from introspection and work. Thank you for your writing and your willingness to put yourself out there. Hopefully dialogue between Christians and atheists can become increasingly friendly – you are a big part of this happening. Keep it up. Thank you as always.

  • Keith

    To clarify my last post, I mean no disrespect in the phrase “choose to not believe in God.” I know Com/Cam use similiar terminology when trying to point out that atheists don’t exist, and that each person knows God exists but simply suppresses this. I meant nothing of that sort. Please forgive the unintentionally poor choice of words – and the over-apology. :-)

  • http://www.bookrestoration.net Ed Stansell

    to Kela,

    Since you are well schooled, scientifically speaking, you must be ready to tell me in what way I misrepresented evolution and point for point refute my statements. When I defend Creation, I have my thesis ready. However, all you did was tell me I’m wrong. What kind of debate is that. You lost the first round.

    to Richard,

    Amoeba is not an egg. Nor is an egg a complete cell.it lack half its chromosomes. An unfertilized egg is a zygote.

    to Billy,

    The chicken and the egg came simultaneously. Every egg the chicken will ever lay is developed in the chicken as it developes in the fertilized egg. The rooster doesn’t share this trait. Here’s a point both evolutionist and creationist should agree on. Creation says the chicken was created (no egg involved and evolution will say that the chicken evolved from another animal, still no egg involved.

  • Richard Wade

    Stephan, I hope your beliefs sustain and comforts you. I would not want to dispel them from you, only to share with you why descriptions of remarkable experiences have little effect on skeptical people.

    Atheists tend to not be impressed with hearing about experiences “beyond our understanding” even if they have no ready explanation because they have good reason to assume that it’s simply beyond our present understanding. History is filled to the brim with stories about people who encountered something beyond their present understanding and taking it to be something divine, they got all excited. Then later a clear, mundane explanation was revealed and like Gilda Radner’s character Emily Litella they said “Oh… Never mind.”

    Did they become less likely to attribute divinity to the next as-yet-unexplained thing? Only a few. The rest would continue to be ready and eager to see spooks, spirits or gods in the next odd thing.

    Our understanding of the world around us limps along on one good foot and one crippled foot. As new phenomena are discovered we hear, “It’s God! It’s God! Oh… Never mind. It’s God! It’s God! Oh… Never mind.” On and on, as clear, obvious explanations eventually come along for each new “unexplainable” thing.

    Consider the story (Can somebody confirm that it’s true?) about the European aviator who landed his small plane briefly in the middle of a remote jungle to the astonishment of the natives who had never seen a European or an airplane. Years later explorers reached the tribe to find they had built and were worshipping an effigy of the plane and considered the aviator a god.

    Oh… Never mind.

  • Richard Wade

    Ed Stansel said,

    Amoeba is not an egg. Nor is an egg a complete cell.it lack half its chromosomes. An unfertilized egg is a zygote.

    Well again you’re wrong, Ed. An egg is a single cell whether or it has all the chromosomes it needs to reproduce. And a fertilized egg is a zygote.
    I eat zygotes (fertilized eggs) for breakfast because they taste better. People around here eat the uninformed for breakfast.

  • Stephan

    Richard, thanks for your response. I understand and even share your skepticism. I am not talking about attributing scientific phenomena to God (although I accept that, too, in some cases), but life experiences. Let me give one, albeit incomplete, example.

    Some years ago I had a strong feeling (sort of an itch-in-the-brain kinda thing) that God had something new for me to do and was expecting something more from me. This continued for several months. It was a strong but somewhat vague feeling, knowing there was something coming but not knowing what it would be. Then the company I was working for announced layoffs and asked for volunteers. The sense of peace I felt about it was just as strong as the expectation I had before. This was the thing I was being prepared for. I volunteered for the layoff, received 10 weeks of severance pay and had the summer off. Despite sending out numerous resume’s I only had one interview. I was offered that job and started work there 10 weeks to the day from when I left my other job.

    I realize all of these things could have natural explanations, but the “perfect storm” of circumstances, to me, seems to indicate that there was more than mere chance involved. I can only attribute it to a divine presence working in and around my life.

    Others I know have had similar experiences, further building up my faith in God. I say this realizing you will not be convinced, but hoping that you will see it is more than a scientific “god of the gaps” type of belief.

  • Jed Olson

    Here’s some food for thought Richard. If “people around here” eat the uninformed for breakfast, then would the uninformed be the fertilized eggs you (being one of the “people around here”) eat for breakfast? But if the uninformed are eggs, then wouldn’t that make you (being the informed and farther up on the evolutionary scale) a chicken?

  • Jed Olson

    BTW, I’m just messin’ with ya pal.

  • http://off-the-map.org/atheist/ Siamang

    Ed Stansel wrote:

    An unfertilized egg is a zygote.

    Dude, if you can’t even get THAT right, what makes you think you’re smarter about biology than damn near every biologist in the world?

    I never cease to be amazed not only at how dumb creationist arguments are, but by how incredibly smart creationists think they are. What a towering intellectual giant you picture yourself as. Amazing that idiots like Einstein, Watson and Crick, and every Nobel-Prize winning scientist haven’t seen evolution for the sham you plainly see it to be.

    Heck, you don’t know a haploid cell from a zygote, but YOU’ve got that evolution thing all disproven. I am in awe of your enormous ego.

    If you want my rebuttal to your phenomenally misinformed spew of garbage and scientific misinformation, it’s available on all the shelves of all the libraries of all the scientific universities on the planet. Go read it there.

    I’ve given up on arguing science with people who for some strange reason are afraid or otherwise unable to read anything but creationist or ID books and websites. It’s boring and tedious. If you want to argue your creationist myths, you should go visit Talk Origins or Pharyngula where people never tire of that old argument.

  • Richard Wade

    Stephan, thank you for sharing your experience. I hope the new job allowed you more full expression of all that you are, as well as fulfilling your worldly needs. You’re right that it doesn’t convince me of anything other than you were ready for a change because you had grown beyond your circumstances, and you were fortunate to find an alternative job at a convenient time.

    I think it’s likely that you would still attribute the events in your story to God even if they were not the “perfect storm” of your description. If the strong feeling had been only a vague one, if the strong sense of peace had only been a mild sense of confidence that you could get another job, if the intervening 10 weeks had stretched into several more and you had had to rely on unemployment for a while, you still would have had the thought that God was guiding and protecting you. As you said in your earlier comment, our perspective determines our understanding. That perspective tends to continue whether it’s supported by mild or strong experiences. Again I’m not saying your take on it is false, I’m just describing why my take on it is human oriented.

    People very rarely radically change their perspectives, and only if their needs are grossly no longer being met by their present perspective. That change is most often difficult and even painful. In the case of believers and non believers, it can go either way because people’s highly individual and complex needs change. If we were to keep that in mind, then both sides could be more tolerant and understanding of each other.

  • Richard Wade

    BTW, I’m just messin’ with ya pal.

    LOL! Jed, that was good. I eat eggs, (haploid or zygote) I eat chickens, (highly evolved critters) I eat just about anything edible especially chocolate. (closest thing to proof of God there is) I occasionally eat the uninformed for breakfast only if they are pretentious, arrogant or snotty. There are two types of ignorance, passive and active. Passive ignorance is just where someone has not been given correct information. It should be gently and respectfully helped along toward knowledge. Active ignorance on the other hand works hard to keep new information from getting in and messing up the neat and tidy mental status quo. It also tends to want to spread itself to others. That kind of ignorance should be met with fierce rebuttal.

  • Stephan

    Richard, thanks for your understanding and insight. I agree with all that you said.

  • Sobex

    What are the mathematical odds that the earth just happens to be the precise distance from the Sun as to provide a life promoting temperature, has just the right tilt to cause heating and cooling and brings about the seasons and the weather life requires; not to mention an abundance of life sustaining water.To have that alone happen by chance defies phenominal odds.

    Yeah, I’ve heard this so many times before …

    Do you have ANY idea how large this universe is? If not, let me tell you one little fact:

    When you see, oh, 3000 to 4000 stars in the night sky, those are not all the stars in the universe. If so, your argument might actually carry some (tiny) weight. But our Milky Way galaxy ALONE contains 100 billion stars – that’s 100,000,000,000. Not only that, but the general consensus among astronomers is that there are 100 billion GALAXIES in the universe. Assuming they’re all roughly the same size, that’s 10,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 stars in the universe (there are 22 zeroes there). Actually, that might be a slightly large estimate. NASA estimates that there are 10^21 stars in the universe, so take off one zero :)

    Isn’t it logical that, with such a huge, almost incomprehensively large population of stars, at least a few of them are bound to be surrounded by a planet in the proper habitable zone for life?

    I won’t address the other issues, although I could. I just found that argument above annoying, because a majority of people really have no idea how unimaginably vast this universe actually IS.

  • Richard Wade

    Sobex, thank you for responding to that tired old anthropic argument. You have more patience than me. A shorter version would be:

    Ed, if conditions on Earth had not been conducive to life, then we wouldn’t be here thinking how nice it is. If conditions are conducive to life on other planets, then there are probably creatures thinking in their creature like way how nice it is there. When you marvel at how well suited the climate and seasons are for life, you’re getting cause and effect backwards. Life has adjusted to the climate and seasons over billions of years. The conditions were here first, life came later. Oh and the conditions are not constant. There have been severe changes resulting in mass extinctions. Earth is not such a safe place.

    Seeing the world as remarkably well tailored for life is like marveling at how well the Mississippi River flows so perfectly under all those bridges. You’ve got it backwards.

  • Billy

    Why are people angry and so indignant toward the Lord Jesus Christ? He’s not the cause of the problems he’s the answer. By the way, I have only a very limited understanding of science, how did the first cell come into being?

    Live right, shine bright, Jesus is Lord! (Even here in Australia!)

  • http://atheista.net benj

    Why are people angry and so indignant toward the Lord Jesus Christ? He’s not the cause of the problems he’s the answer. By the way, I have only a very limited understanding of science, how did the first cell come into being?

    Live right, shine bright, Jesus is Lord! (Even here in Australia!)

    We don’t hate him. We don’t think he exists. :) We’re reasonable enough to see that hating a non-entity is a fallacy.

    And oh, last time I checked, Australia was largely agnostic/atheist.

  • Richard Wade

    Hi Billy,
    Many non believers admire Jesus as a person or as a philosopher. Much of what he taught is very positive. The part about his divinity is what we don’t accept. I now count several followers of Christ as my friends because I can see that they try to live in the real world by that philosophy, and they don’t try to convert anyone.

    Often the resentment you see comes from what can be a terrible difference between the teaching and the behavior of the believers. Saying that nobody’s perfect or we’re all sinners doesn’t help much when they are doing hateful things even as they say loving phrases. As you can see there are angry and friendly people on both sides of the fence. What Hemant and some of us here are trying to do is to build bridges of respectful dialogue. There will always be people who have pain and who express it with anger, or who have fear and express it with trying to control others but we can just keep building bridges anyway.
    I try to speak to my non believer friends about dropping the snark and the vitriol because it doesn’t serve anyone’s interests and it’s just plain childish. They might listen to me because I’m a non believer too. I always encourage my Christian acquaintances to do the same with their more harshly judging friends, because they’re more likely to listen to a fellow Christian than to me.

    What’s that bible verse about kind words turning away anger?

  • http://atheista.net benj

    Many non believers admire Jesus as a person or as a philosopher. Much of what he taught is very positive. The part about his divinity is what we don’t accept. I now count several followers of Christ as my friends because I can see that they try to live in the real world by that philosophy, and they don’t try to convert anyone.

    Hi Billy.

    Don’t you think lying about his divinity to get clout cancels out all the good things that he did/ taught?

  • Wytann Erdy

    Huh?

    I distinctly remember him saying, “I’m not the messiah! Now go away!”

    Oh, wait, that was that other guy, never mind.

  • http://elliptica.blogspot.com Lynet

    Ed, you’ve given us an absolute mountain of nonsense to correct. One aspect has already been critiqued; allow me to pull out another one. There are plenty more but none of us wants to spend forever on it — maybe if we take a piece each…

    Biologists tell us that insects that mimick other life forms or objects, have developed this disguise for their protection and survival. Did that biologist ever stop to consider that those insects can’t see themselves to know whether or not they have achieved a good disguise or not?

    Evolution is almost never about animals making conscious, deliberate changes to themselves. I don’t know what you think the mechanism of evolution is but it certainly doesn’t require that the beings on which evolution works are conscious of the process themselves.

    It works like this. Start with lots of insects. Some of them look like sticks and are hard to recognise. Some of them look less like sticks and are easier to recognise as insects. Birds eat more of the insects that look like insects because birds can find those insects more easily. As a result, there are more stick-like insects who survive to reproduce than there are insects who look less like sticks. The next generation of insects has more insects that look like sticks than the previous generation (since the children resemble their parents). This continues for lots of generations. Each time, the insects that look most like sticks are the ones most likely to survive.

    Insects realising that they look like sticks doesn’t come into it.

  • http://atheista.net benj

    Evolution is almost never about animals making conscious, deliberate changes to themselves. I don’t know what you think the mechanism of evolution is but it certainly doesn’t require that the beings on which evolution works are conscious of the process themselves.

    Hear hear! Whoever told him that evolution was conscious? To add to this, evolution is random and those random changes that helped the organism survive better persisted due to natural selection. Those animals with the advantageous traits may have been small in number before but they boomed thanks to their increased survival rates.

    The pool of entities in a population of a species is in the millions. With each animal capable for experiencing minute point and frameshift mutations, what are the odds of it happening. Keep in mind also that insect life spans range from a few days to a couple of months. Now, project that over millions of years and you’ll see the plethora of changes that an insect can experience randomly due to the pliability of the genetic material.

  • Jed Olson

    Well said Benj, the classic survival of the fittest model that is proven in micro-evolution, and it makes sense when you see it in nature. With the little illustration you gave, eventually you would have an almost perfectly disguised insect (though many would still be eaten, but their odds would be better). Why then, would an insect need to (according to the survival of the fittest model) then evolve into a completely different species? That is macro-evolution, which has never been proven or seen, and even according to Darwin’s survival of the fittest model, it doesn’t seem to even be needed. So please, enlighten me on why this world isn’t just made up of highly efficient one-celled organisms that can survive of of each other? That would after all, fulfill the survival of the fittest model, wouldn’t it? To the Atheists posting on this forum, if you want theists (and stop just pointing at Christians, there are far more religions you disagree with) to be more knowledgeable about your beliefs (as I have stated previously, even Atheists have to believe in a few things, since not everything is explainable), then do the theists the decency of actually being more knowledged on their beliefs. Research outside of the bible if Jesus actually existed, research the validity of the books of the bible (like the time between the 1st copy and the original manuscripts, how the books tie together, whether or not they have contradictions, etc.) and why those books were chosen–and that’s just one religion. To the Theists (who are predominately Christian here) posting on this forum, do some research before posting and check your arguments, your discrediting yourself and other theists. I’ll leave you guys with a statistic in regard to Sobex’s comment on the quantity of stars in the universe. NASA knows about 10^21 stars exist. Now we know of about 1 planet that has life on it, but our technology is limited and we have no idea how many PLANETS there are. I haven’t the data to say the actual probability, but I’m guessing those are pretty good odds. So lets say that earth just happened to be one of those lucky planets that was placed just perfectly for life to be sustained. That’s one probability problem out of the way, but here’s another: the probability for a single cell to come about by chance. Research shows that there is a 1 in 10^340,000,000 chance for ONE CELL (a statistic calculated by evolutionist Prof. Harold Morowitz in the 1970′s) to emerge from the primordial soup. And that’s just one instance of an evolutionary leap, which in and of itself is mathematically impossible (sorry Ed, those probabilities you told of earlier were actually calculated). Takes a little faith to believe that now doesn’t it?

    P.S.

    I eat eggs, (haploid or zygote) I eat chickens, (highly evolved critters) I eat just about anything edible especially chocolate. (closest thing to proof of God there is) I occasionally eat the uninformed for breakfast only if they are pretentious, arrogant or snotty.

    So Richard, that would make you a cannibal (being the evolved an “informed” chicken) that also has a bad taste–you eat snot for breakfast? I like word games, be careful not to get trapped in them.

  • Jed Olson

    Note that the above post is written for the purposes of knowledge. I love to challenge and be challenged (and have fun while doing it). So it is my hope that I or the reader of this post, gets challenged to change their thinking or challenge me to change mine. Either way someone learns.

  • Mriana

    I think the closest thing anyone can get as to “proof” of “god” is neuro-chemistry or neuro-psychology. HOWEVER, this is not the Jewish, Christian, or Islamic God, it is not Confusiousism either. Brahman comes close, but no cigar.

    I’ve mentioned this before in at least one other thread. The emotional feeling of transendence in which we feel at one with someone else, an animal such as our pets, music in church or in general, the worship building itself with all it’s awesome artwork, nature, the universe are all triggers.

    They trigger a chemical reaction in the frontal lobe and the amygdala (possibly other places in the brain.). This serotonin and other chemicals work like a natural opate found in our bodies that gives us basically an overdose and we feel that undescribable numinous feeling that so many call god. Depending on which god you worship it is the Christian God, Allah, Buddha, Vishnu… the list goes on and on… That’s what you label it.

    When I speak of it, I get called an atheist because I don’t attribute it to some supernatural anthropomorphic deity. To me, it is like the wind and just as natural to nature and the human experience because it IS within us and all around us. It IS numinous, but it is not supernatural. It is very natural given its sources and triggers, but it is not Brahman either. It is “neti, neti”, but not Brahman.

    Like the wind, it has no form, no shape, no gender. It is just a part of the human experience. Like the wind, which is seen in the movements of the trees and felt on our skin, this unnamable experience is seen in the love and compassion of others, the sympathic behaviours of our pets, the awe taking beauty in nature and the universe, and the beautiful works of art humans created, even when we look into our newborn child’s face for the very first time.

    Various neuro-chemical technology can see the brain’s reaction to the stimuli that triggers the chemical reaction. The best word I can find for it is transendence, but I cannot call it anyone’s personal god, for it is something we all share within and around us as a part of living and the human experience. It is not Jevhovah, Allah, Brahman, or alike. It is just nature interacting, which could and can be called “god” given we have no words in the human language for such an experience.

    Yet, it is not proof of God.

  • Richard Wade

    Jed,

    So Richard, that would make you a cannibal (being the evolved an “informed” chicken) that also has a bad taste–you eat snot for breakfast? I like word games, be careful not to get trapped in them.

    I’m not embarrassed by my savagery or my gentility. :)

  • Jed Olson

    I’m glad Richard. Just curious Mrianna as to what the point was on your comment? It neither attempts to prove a god exists nor does it attempt to prove a god doesn’t exist. But it does get this forum off of Christianity vs. Atheism and opens it to other religions, for which I thank you.

  • http://off-the-map.org/atheist/ Siamang

    Jed Olson wrote:

    Research shows that there is a 1 in 10^340,000,000 chance for ONE CELL (a statistic calculated by evolutionist Prof. Harold Morowitz in the 1970’s) to emerge from the primordial soup. And that’s just one instance of an evolutionary leap, which in and of itself is mathematically impossible (sorry Ed, those probabilities you told of earlier were actually calculated). Takes a little faith to believe that now doesn’t it?

    Yuck! That’s some terribly bad math in support of a specious assumption.

    Who said “One Cell” emerged from the soup randomly and fully-formed?

    Who said 30 year old biology was cutting-edge?

    What happened to the RNA-world hypothesis?

    Whew. Slow down, Siamang….. breathe. Okay.

    Anyway, no scientist today working in abiogenesis proposes that a cell popped into being ex-nihlio.

    Jack Szostak at Harvard IS working on abiogenesis models that do work, and that’s mulitple slow intermediate stages of self-replicating polymers. Many small incrimental stages that undergo chemical selection.

    Read this article from Discover to get a good idea of what the current thinking is on the steps that first life took before the cell.

    And I’d caution you to beware of two standard creationist bullshit techniques in your posts. One is the very huge number gambit. The other is quoting a scientist from over a quarter of a century ago as if they represented the current best understanding science has to offer…. especially in biology where our scientific understanding has been doubling every year or so.

  • http://atheista.net benj

    Jack Szostak at Harvard IS working on abiogenesis models that do work, and that’s mulitple slow intermediate stages of self-replicating polymers. Many small incrimental stages that undergo chemical selection.

    Hear hear! I dont recall somebody saying that it took all of 5 years for the first cell to develop. Clearly, it took time – and they (the proteins) had plenty of time to mingle in a vast sea of substrate. Romantic, isn’t it? haha

  • http://off-the-map.org/atheist/ Siamang

    Jed,

    I Googled Morowitz. He didn’t claim any such thing as you quote him as claiming.

    You wrote that he calculated the odds of a Cell emerging out of the primordial soup.

    That’s totally wrong. He calculated the odds of there being enough energy for life on Earth if Earth didn’t have sunlight and geothermal energy.

    Now, Morowitz is a professor of biology at George Mason University. If you really don’t believe me, perhaps you can ask him himself. His email address is morowitz(theatsigngoeshere)gmu.edu.

    Next what I’d like you to do, Jed, since I’ve caught you in passing along an old creationist canard, is really a favor I’m asking you.

    Can you please, for me:

    1. Tell us where you got this specious assertion.
    2. Take a good hard look at whatever source you previously trusted to give you such information.
    3. Never use that source again and never make that assertion again.
    4. Take a good hard look at other sources you use for your scientific information and whether or not they can be trusted.
    5. Use the Google, use the Wikipedia, and check your scientific assertions before you make them.

    Because whoever wrote the site you referenced is doing what I call “Lying for Jesus”. How hard is it to go to the google window and type “Harold Morowitz”?

    Thanks.

    Listen Jed. I don’t mean to pound hard on you. You’ve been polite, nice, and a good positive chatmate here. Which is why I think you’ll actually listen to my comments and not completely blow me off. Can I count on you to do these things as a favor to me? You must be able to see that doing these things can only help you and your intellectual rigor in the future, right?

    -Siamang

  • Serrac

    @ Ed

    The chicken and the egg came simultaneously. Every egg the chicken will ever lay is developed in the chicken as it developes in the fertilized egg. The rooster doesn’t share this trait. Here’s a point both evolutionist and creationist should agree on. Creation says the chicken was created (no egg involved and evolution will say that the chicken evolved from another animal, still no egg involved.

    I’m no expert on the process of evolution, but that just doesn’t make any sense. The previous bird didn’t just randomly become a chicken at some point in its life. As far as I know, it isn’t like it woke up and decided to evolve one day. The first chicken was the result of a genetic mutation from a prior species and the mutation was helpful to survival in the environment and was passed on. The egg would come first, as the bird that lay it wasn’t a chicken as we know it.

  • Billy

    Gday mates and materesses, I used to wonder why Atheists had so much pent up anger and frustration but I’m slowly beginning to understand. It takes too much blind faith to be an Atheist, all of what they believe can’t actually be proven, there is a huge difference between scientific facts and scientific theories. Atheism is a religion and as such needs to substantiate its beliefs, scientific theories have been its main weapon but as Christians are now slowly embracing scientific facts as a way to substantiate their beliefs Atheism is being left out in the cold. I recently read that many if not most of the greatest men and woman throughout history in the fields of science (facts not theories), medicine, inventions etc. were actually creationists. Dear Athiests, you lovable little critters, you are losing science rapidly!

    Live right, shine bright, Jesus is Lord!

  • http://www.bookrestoration.net Ed Stansell

    Richard,& co.

    Surely you are the brightest and best and posses infinite knowledge, so enlighten us poor benighted oafs who do not share your belief in the origin of the universe. What IS the origin of matter? How did life come into being? How did each of the species come to it present state, particularly homosapiens? Natural selection implies that Nature has selected improvements to organisms. Does this not also imply that Nature has an intellect? How else can it have the power to select? Can you support your arguement in proof of evolution or can you merely chant that those opposing you are wrong?

  • http://www.bookrestoration.net Ed Stansell

    Atheist in general,

    Try to view Cristianity as a game of chance. If in the end, I die believing in God and there is no God, just nothing; what have I lost in believing as I did? On the other hand; what if you die and discover that there is a God after all and he’s mad as hell at you for disbelieving? You’ll be S.O.L. if your wrong; whereas I won’t know the difference.

    The trouble is, you atheists think your so damn smart and have it all figured out.
    One day it will be too late for you. You won’t be able to say “nobody ever told me.” And, your vaunted intellect will have gotten you nowhere but hell.

  • http://off-the-map.org/atheist/ Siamang

    Ed Stansell wrote:

    Surely you are the brightest and best and posses infinite knowledge, so enlighten us poor benighted oafs who do not share your belief in the origin of the universe. What IS the origin of matter? How did life come into being? How did each of the species come to it present state, particularly homosapiens?

    I already told you. My answers are available on all the shelves of all the libraries of all the scientific universities on the planet. Read them there.

    I won’t explain it to you. I won’t spoon-feed you. If you want to know, go out and read. Crack a book other than the one with the gold edging. The answers are all available publicly. I won’t repeat them here to be baited into an argument of your choosing…. especially since you have proven to be a person who will not listen and consider the very thorough, very accurate responses to your previous post that other posters have offered.

    You’re scrapping for a fight, and you’re not even self-aware enough to know that you got your ass handed to you in the previous round.

  • HappyNat

    I recently read that many if not most of the greatest men and woman throughout history in the fields of science (facts not theories), medicine, inventions etc. were actually creationists.

    Well, my dear friend if you read it somewhere it must be true!

    Ed,
    Have you even read any of the responses to you? Why do you not respond to those? We try and share information with you but then you ignore it, why should we continue to try?

  • Keith

    Atheist in general,

    Try to view Cristianity as a game of chance. If in the end, I die believing in God and there is no God, just nothing; what have I lost in believing as I did? On the other hand; what if you die and discover that there is a God after all and he’s mad as hell at you for disbelieving? You’ll be S.O.L. if your wrong; whereas I won’t know the difference.

    The trouble is, you atheists think your so damn smart and have it all figured out.
    One day it will be too late for you. You won’t be able to say “nobody ever told me.” And, your vaunted intellect will have gotten you nowhere but hell.

    Ed,

    I am a Christian. The philisophical tool you are trying to use is called Pascal’s wager. Nearly every atheist here has heard it before.

    Help me with something. In what way does Pascal’s wager fit Paul’s description of what a Christian should think about (in Philippians 4:8): “whatever is true, noble, pure, lovely, admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.” In my opinion, it is an awful reason to be a Christian … because it is the path of least resistance. Jesus never described following him as that path.

    Also, you seem to be satisfied in telling my friends here that they are going to hell. You are consoled at the thought of their eternal torment by knowing that they can’t say nobody ever told them. Is this your goal? To make sure people in hell have one less excuse? If this is the goal, then you have done well. If your goal was to impact the atheists for Jesus, or in love to help them to a better life and afterlife, then you are failing. Which is your goal?

    Christianity is not a game, nor is it a game of chance. If you want to sell a game, sell to kids. People here only buy the substantial.

    Thank you for blogging, please don’t stop.

  • Steelman

    Ed Stansell said: Try to view Cristianity as a game of chance. If in the end, I die believing in God and there is no God, just nothing; what have I lost in believing as I did? On the other hand; what if you die and discover that there is a God after all and he’s mad as hell at you for disbelieving? You’ll be S.O.L. if your wrong; whereas I won’t know the difference.

    Let me repeat this back to you from another religious perspective to point out one of the problems in your version of Pascal’s Wager:
    Try to view Islam as a game of chance. If in the end, I die believing there is no God but God, and Mohammed is his messenger, and there is no God, just nothing; what have I lost in believing as I did? On the other hand; what if you die and discover that there is a God after all and he’s mad as hell at you for disbelieving in the one true religion of Islam? You’ll be S.O.L. if your wrong; whereas I won’t know the difference.

    You see the difficulty here? Pascal’s Wager could be used to promote belief in any religion, just in case it was true. Taken to its logical conclusion, it encourages us to believe in all of religions simultaneously. I think it fails in its original intent, to promote Blaise Pascal’s religion: Catholicism.

    Regarding the theory of evolution: I offered you a couple of resources earlier (books by Christians Francis Collins and Kenneth Miller). Here’s another book. Paradigms on Pilgrimage: Creationism, Paleontology and Biblical Interpretation by Stephen J. Godfrey and Christopher R. Smith. You might want to take a look at them to see why religious faith and an understanding of biological evolution need not be mutually exclusive.

    Also, your posts reflect a basic misunderstanding of practically all the scientific concepts surrounding evolution. I’m not trying to be unkind, but you really need to educate yourself in this area. If atheists were trying to debate Christians about the Bible, but hadn’t ever studied it, I’d advise them to educate themselves as well. It’s okay to have differing opinions, but arguing from ignorance is foolish, don’t you agree?

    Here’s a great resource for you, Ed.
    http://evolution.berkeley.edu
    Be sure to check out the link to “misconceptions about natural selection and adaptation” in the bottom right corner of that page. There’s also another misconceptions FAQ link at the end of the pages that follow the first link.

  • Mriana

    Just curious Mriana as to what the point was on your comment? It neither attempts to prove a god exists nor does it attempt to prove a god doesn’t exist. But it does get this forum off of Christianity vs. Atheism and opens it to other religions, for which I thank you.

    Well, it is a form of a non-theistic view of a “god”, but the purpose was not to prove or disprove anything. It was to show there are different views as to what god is and you are very welcome.

    God is a human concept as I said before. Theism is one definition of a god, while Atheism is a belief in no God or gods. Non-theism is what I call somewhere in between- it is neither belief or disbelief, nor is it I don’t know, but rather a different view of a god. It is an internalized idea of what god is to the person. Agnostism lays in between too, but it is an “I don’t know” stance.

    The thing is, it is our experiences and our soical backgrounds that decides for us what definition we subscribe to, but there are experiences and knowloedge of other things that helps to form our finally concept.

    The other thing is churches are notorious of manipulating this feeling of transendence. They may not know the psychology behind it, but they do know what triggers it, thus the strong use of music, chanting, repetitiveness, artwork etc. Mosques do it too. They also like to use guilt, shame, tell you what to believe, and not to mention the ministers famous words, “Just take what I say on faith. I kow because God talks through me.” All these are psychological tools used by various churches and if you don’t believe in that concept of god, then they put you on a guilt trip and attempt to shame you into believing their human concept of a deity.

    There are a few exceptions with the guilt trip bit in the Episcopal and Luthern churches, but the use of music, chanting, repetitiveness and artwork is very strong. Thus they still use some of the tools to trigger that transendent feeling.

    Hindus spend days bathing themselves or rocking and chanting, which also brings about a transendent feeling eventually. People are nice enough to bring them some food during these times, but they don’t always eat it, thus this also contributes to reaching transendence.

    Islamics face Mecca while they pray, rock, and chant to achieve these feelings.

    So the saying holds true about religion being the opium of the people. The question is, given this knowledge about the human body and the triggers that cause these feelings, how do we know what human concept of a deity is truly the right concept? All? None? One? Or the individual’s?

    The reason why we cannot prove there is any god is because it is a human concept. I can far more accept the individual’s concept of a god, then the generally imposed supernatural concept by various religious groups. No one needs a religious text and/or to be saved to know their own concept of god.

    I can far faster conceive of the idea of no god than I can a supernatural theistic being, yet at the same time, I can accept the idea of Brahman as god too, but once the supernatural elements are added, I have no concept of Brahman either.

    The only thing we can prove is what happens to us physically when we reach transendence and we can tell people how we interpretted that experience, but we can not prove or disprove there is a god. It is just a human concept.

    So, whose human concept of god are people going to attempt to convert Hemant too? Well, obviously Christianity since that is the majority, but I seriously doubt, given what I’ve read so far of his book, that anyone will convert him to that concept of god. He has no concept of such a deity and never will.

    They MIGHT have an easier time of convincing him of my concept of “god” than a supernatural one. THAT he might even have somewhat of a concept of himself already, preferring to call it love and compassion as I often do.

    Think about it and maybe it will become clearer. Read his book and you will see him say things like, “I can get that from my friends and family.” I believe he has an idea of what I’m saying, I’m sure, but no concept of the supernatural anymore than I do. He just does not go out on a limb and label love and compassion (with or without transendence) as a deity. Still, I bet you, I could convience Hemant of that “possibility” of my concept far faster than anyone convincing him of a supernatural anthropomorphic reincarnated Zeus existing. I’m not being arrogant, I see similarities between my thinking and in what he wrote concerning himself and various other comments.

    It’s all in the concept of what one may already hold as value in their lives. Once that is established and they are secure in that concept, there isn’t much that can change it, except maybe other people’s concepts that fall close to being in line with theirs. Oh, but Theists do not see my concept as “god”, because it is not their God, so to them I am an atheist. They confuse atheism and non-theistism greatly.

  • Mriana

    Ed Stansell said,

    May 16, 2007 at 2:20 pm

    Richard,& co.

    Surely you are the brightest and best and posses infinite knowledge, so enlighten us poor benighted oafs who do not share your belief in the origin of the universe. What IS the origin of matter? How did life come into being? How did each of the species come to it present state, particularly homosapiens? Natural selection implies that Nature has selected improvements to organisms. Does this not also imply that Nature has an intellect? How else can it have the power to select? Can you support your arguement in proof of evolution or can you merely chant that those opposing you are wrong?

    Ah, creation. Something got bored, did a cell division thing, that caused male and female “cells”. They had sex and nine months later the universe was born.

    Seriously, haven’t you even studied a little about other religious philosophies, Ed? They are all different, yet basically the same. What makes you think the Biblical story is so inerrant? Oh but maybe like the Gnostic suggests, you are still dreaming and have not woke up to what is reality. Or maybe you have not achieved gnosis (knowledge) in the sciences, philosophy, other religions, and other things like that. I don’t know, but maybe there doesn’t have to be an explaination as to who created the universe. IF God did, then who created Him? What if Brahman created the universe? That would explain why every living thing on the planet reproduces as it does. Who knows.

    The first step towards knowledge is to say, “I don’t know.” You may find you will get a different view of life if you broaden your mind a little.

  • Steelman

    Mriana, would you call what you believe Natural Religion (religion based on principles derived solely from reason and the study of nature)? You may have heard of the Gifford Lectures, which cover this subject. Psychologist and philosopher William James gave his lectures at the turn of the twentieth century, later published as the classic Varieties of Religious Experience. Astronomer Carl Sagan was the lecturer in 1985, and his lectures were recently posthumously published as The Varieties of Scientific Experience.

  • Mriana

    Steelman said,

    May 16, 2007 at 4:06 pm

    Mriana, would you call what you believe Natural Religion (religion based on principles derived solely from reason and the study of nature)? You may have heard of the Gifford Lectures, which cover this subject. Psychologist and philosopher William James gave his lectures at the turn of the twentieth century, later published as the classic Varieties of Religious Experience. Astronomer Carl Sagan was the lecturer in 1985, and his lectures were recently posthumously published as The Varieties of Scientific Experience.

    I see Noam Chomsky is listed there too on that site. He was a great Humanist. I’ll have to look that site over more thoroughly. I have read some of Carl Sagan’s work and I find we are not too much different in our thoughts.

    I consider myself a Humanist first and foremost, but yes, I would call my ideas very natural. I do not consider my views a religion though. Humanism is based on science, reason, and compassion. My ideas are based on lifelong personal experience, Psychology (I have a degree in Psychology), neuro-psychology (which was part of my psychology studies), Religious and Philosophical studies, and alike, reason, and a lot of compassion (or I try to have a lot of the last).

  • anti-nonsense

    Try to view Cristianity as a game of chance. If in the end, I die believing in God and there is no God, just nothing; what have I lost in believing as I did? On the other hand; what if you die and discover that there is a God after all and he’s mad as hell at you for disbelieving? You’ll be S.O.L. if your wrong; whereas I won’t know the difference.

    As others have said, this is Pascal’s Wager, and it will not impress most atheists as we have seen it before.

    A few things about this argument that are fallacious
    1: it ignores that fact that religions demand a lot of time energy, and in many cases, money from you, if you are wrong, then you have wasted time energy and money on nonsense that could have been spend doing something more productive
    2. There are MANY religions, and many of these religions say that you will go to Hell if you don’t believe as they do, even assuming that I intend to choose one, how do I know which one is right? It could be that Catholics are right, or the Protestants, or the Jews, or the Muslims, how can I possibly know which one I’m supposed to believe?
    3. it assumes God is going to accept belief based on petty bet-hedging. I would think that a god wouldn’t be terribly impressed by cowardly bet-hedging.
    4. it assumes that I can choose to believe whatever I want at will, which in my experience is not true.

  • Mriana

    I would think that a god wouldn’t be terribly impressed by cowardly bet-hedging.

    I agree, Hemant. Supposedly God looks at the heart. If you are believing just to avoid punishment or to win that promised reward, then it is not true belief and it would seem to me, one would go to hell just for that. Which supports my theory that Pascal’s wager is flawed.

  • marty

    Gday mates and materesses, I used to wonder why Atheists had so much pent up anger and frustration but I’m slowly beginning to understand. It takes too much blind faith to be an Atheist, all of what they believe can’t actually be proven, there is a huge difference between scientific facts and scientific theories.

    Firstly, I don’t think anyone has ever called someone a “Materess” ever. I’ve lived in Australia for over thirty years, and that would be the first time I’ve seen it.
    Secondly, Atheists aren’t filled with pent up anger and frustration for being atheists. If anything, they are about as angry as the next person — we’re human too, after all. At least we don’t give all credit to an imaginary fairy.
    Thirdly, Atheism means trying to avoid blind faith — and its not only ridiculous but also ironic that you accuse us of unproven beliefs and blind faith.
    Lastly, I doubt you’d know the difference between a fact and a theory.

    Atheism is a religion and as such needs to substantiate its beliefs, scientific theories have been its main weapon but as Christians are now slowly embracing scientific facts as a way to substantiate their beliefs Atheism is being left out in the cold.

    Atheism is not a religion, it is a lack of religion. We do not believe in God, Gods, or the supernatural. We believe in evidence and science. We have no need for weapons to substantiate our unbelief.As for Christians embracing science, good to see if true.

    I recently read that many if not most of the greatest men and woman throughout history in the fields of science (facts not theories), medicine, inventions etc. were actually creationists. Dear Athiests, you lovable little critters, you are losing science rapidly!

    Most of the men and women of science through history were religious. This doesn’t make them “creationists”, it makes them members of their society at the time, which in many cases treated atheism as a crime or a madness. This means exactly nothing today.

    Live right, shine bright, Jesus is Lord!

    Brusha Brusha Left to Right Brusha Brusha Ev’ry Night!

  • http://atheista.net benj

    Try to view Cristianity as a game of chance. If in the end, I die believing in God and there is no God, just nothing; what have I lost in believing as I did? On the other hand; what if you die and discover that there is a God after all and he’s mad as hell at you for disbelieving? You’ll be S.O.L. if your wrong; whereas I won’t know the difference.

    The trouble is, you atheists think your so damn smart and have it all figured out.
    One day it will be too late for you. You won’t be able to say “nobody ever told me.” And, your vaunted intellect will have gotten you nowhere but hell.

    I pity your god then. If he’s that shallow and tokenistic, I think he’s unworthy of being a good. Again, if a god is truly omnipotent and all that jazz, that god should see through a person’s motivations for belief.If I were god and I see someone who believed just based out of fear alone (LIKE YOU) I wouldn’t bat an eyelash in sending you to hell.

  • http://atheista.net benj

    I pity your god then. If he’s that shallow and tokenistic, I think he’s unworthy of being a good. Again, if a god is truly omnipotent and all that jazz, that god should see through a person’s motivations for belief.If I were god and I see someone who believed just based out of fear alone (LIKE YOU) I wouldn’t bat an eyelash in sending you to hell.

    quoting myself for erratum. That should be god, not good. hehehe

  • Jed Olson

    Wow! I go to sleep for a little while and look what happens! To Siaming, thank you for correcting me on my second aforementioned statement, I surely use more than one source from now on and check it (but in my defense, I did use Google). Now that you have corrected this statement, it is my challenge for anyone to correct my other statement

    Well said Benj, the classic survival of the fittest model that is proven in micro-evolution, and it makes sense when you see it in nature. With the little illustration you gave, eventually you would have an almost perfectly disguised insect (though many would still be eaten, but their odds would be better). Why then, would an insect need to (according to the survival of the fittest model) then evolve into a completely different species? That is macro-evolution, which has never been proven or seen, and even according to Darwin’s survival of the fittest model, it doesn’t seem to even be needed. So please, enlighten me on why this world isn’t just made up of highly efficient one-celled organisms that can survive of of each other? That would after all, fulfill the survival of the fittest model, wouldn’t it?

    It’s just a thought I’ve pondered for some time, and wonder if anyone can correct this thought. If you (the reader–Theist or Atheist) can answer this, then I will bring a more relevant conundrum to the table. My part on this forum is to play the “devil’s advocate.” For the moment, arguments against evolution are running thin (I believe that is largely due to the audience), and if the tide turns… well, we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.

  • Billy

    Dear Marty,

    “Materesses” was a little crack at humour, “mates…materesses”….get it? Please forgive me, I should have known better. Perhaps you should do a little study of the word religion and what it actually encompasses. Atheism is undoubtedly a religion, it is your religion, it is what you believe and adhere to, it is faith in your own intellect and imagination. Most times it is fueled by a disdain of the Lord because of a lack of understanding, sometimes it is fueled because a deep desire to experience a miracle or a supernatural visitation from the Lord Jesus Christ has not eventuated. Also, you’re very much mistaken sir, most of the great people in science, medicine etc. throughout our history were creationists not religious, true Chrisianity unlike Atheism is not a religion, it’s a relationship with the Lord and with people!

    Roses are red,
    Violets a blue,
    Most poems rhyme,
    But this one doesn’t.

    Live right, shine bright, Jesus is Lord!

  • http://off-the-map.org/atheist/ Siamang

    Macro has been proven and seen as well. In fact, micro and macro are an artificial human construct that are really the exact same process.

    It’s like saying walking a block is micro travel, but walking a mile is macro travel… it’s the same process… just further along.

    But we’ll get to that, hopefully tomorrow, as it’s my bed time now!

    The upshot is, you can’t stop macro from happening. Just seperate a population and you’ll get speciation, given enough generations of genetic seperation.

    Take a coconut. It floats. A hurricaine blows a bunch of coconuts in the water, they get caught in the gulf-stream and wash up on a beach far away from the island they originated on. Two isolated gene-pools as a result of one seperation event. After a thousand generations, coconuts on island B will be different from island A. After a million generations, you don’t even call em coconuts. One’s a Siamang nut and the other’s a fruity palm. They look completely different to the naked eye, and they long since lost the ability to mate and produce offspring with each other. Only paleobotany or DNA tests will tell you they were once the same species, millions of years ago.

  • Richard Wade

    Billy, I gave you a respectful and open-hearted response to your comment at 1:28 this morning asking about atheists hating Jesus. Your only response has been to tell us more about how we think and feel, rather than to ask us. I don’t pretend to tell you what your experience of Christianity is, please return the respect to not tell me what my experience is. Ask me. It really will be okay if you’re wrong about atheism. No one expects you to be an expert. Being wrong about atheism won’t make you wrong about Christianity. You’re the expert on your own experience of your faith.

    You express the same disdain for people you don’t know that you accuse them of. Please let the anger and derision go. You ended your last comment by saying that true Christianity is not a religion, it’s a relationship with the Lord and with people. Okay, I’m not going to argue with you, that’s very beautiful. But if you want a relationship with people, you have to listen to them not talk about them. You have to ask them about themselves, not tell them about themselves.

    The anger and tension on this page is plugging up everybody’s ears. Let’s all take a deep breath and re-focus on learning about each other rather than showing off how we can put each other down.

  • Jed Olson

    The illustration you used Siamang, however, was micro-evolution. Correct me if I am wrong, but isn’t micro-evolution the evolution of species (maybe genus as well, I forget)? One species evolving into another overtime has been proven (such as some birds that are no longer able to mate). All of these mutations are possible in the organism’s DNA. Macro-evolution is (once again, correct me if I am wrong) when evolution takes a leap (a very slow leap of course), and mutates to something outside the capacity of the organisms DNA. And THAT is what hasn’t been proven the last time I checked (which was within a few years not decades). I’m not debating the possibility for a bird to become a different bird, I’m debating the possibility of a Dinosaur becoming a bird or a one-celled organism becoming a multi-celled organism. Not too bad of an answer though.

  • Jed Olson

    Well said Richard. The website is called friendly atheist now isn’t it? Shouldn’t the theists also be friendly? There is a difference between a debate and an argument. A debate questions ideas and discusses issues, arguments point fingers at people behind those ideas and in the end, does nothing but divide. Let’s all be mature and discuss these ideas with open minds. If you (the reader and poster) challenge someone to change their way of thinking, be equally willing to change yours.

  • HappyNat

    Atheism is undoubtedly a religion, it is your religion, it is what you believe and adhere to, it is faith in your own intellect and imagination.

    and not collecting stamps is my hobby . . .

  • Mriana

    Whoever HappyNat quoted needs to visit some of the atheist site I recommend before like strongatheism.net and atheists.org and atheism.org to learn more about atheism.

  • Billy

    Hey Richard, my brother from another mother! Dishonesty comes in many forms, don’t you think? Now that we have ascertained that science can’t actually prove or substantiate atheism I believe we need to get personal, why do some people claim to be atheists and what kind of personal experiences have they had in life that has led them to this stage? From my own experiences with those claiming to be atheists among my workmates, schoolfriends etc. the same reasons always come up. If there is a God why did he let this happen? Why didn’t God intervene there? Why does God let children starve and suffer? I think you get the gist about what I’m talking about. With others having unanswered prayer or a lack of supernatural or divine experiences is a reason. No other way to say this but I believe that ignorance of the Lord and his Word is usually the reason for these mindsets. My understanding is that God gave humans dominion over this world, all pain and suffering is a result of our disobedience, ignorence, bad decisions and mistakes. God is a good God, even though we took for granted and abused our dominion he has made a way for us to turn things around if we open our hearts to the Lord Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit is always available to those who call upon the Lord by faith and with an honest heart. Have you ever prayed then felt let down? Have you ever asked for the Lord to reveal himself to you and nothing seemed to have happened?

    Live right, shine bright, even at night, alright.
    Jesus is Lord!

  • HappyNat

    Billy,

    I was rasied as a Christian, I went to church every week, I sang in the choir, went on mission trips, I read the bible, and was in a traveling christian acting group. I was sure I’d “felt” god and my prayers had been answered. As I went to college my focus of study was sociology and psychology, the more I learned about how societies and the brain work I started having more questions.

    By the time I started grad school the historical social reasons for religion kept smacking me in the face. When I looked at the historical reasons for Chritianity and how it lasted and grew over the years, I became uncomfortable, it certianly seemed like the work of man and not the god I knew. I looked into some other religions thinking they may hold the answer to the big question and the all seemed to end at the same place.

    Finally to soothe my soul I took time to read the bible again for the first time in many years. It seemed like such a quaint fairy tale, with obvious sections written only to control the masses and to get them to act in desireable ways. Not to mention the inconsistant, ranting, jealous, hateful god of the OT. The stories about Jesus didn’t even matchup and god changed personalities sometimes within chapters. By the time I reached the insane babble that is revelations, I knew the bible was not the divine word of god.

    This is why I don’t believe. It was a long process that took me years and I’ve very happy where I am.

  • anti-nonsense

    Billy -

    I was never a Christian, but I HAVE read large parts of the Bible and I am familiar with the basic Christian beliefs. I just don’t feel that they make any sense and I don’t see any scientific evidence that substanties the claims of the Christian religion. Christians get cancer and other diseases at the same rate as people of other belief systems, Christians die of cancer at the same rate as others, etc. if prayer was truly effective as the Bible said it is supposed to be, it would be obvious because Christians wouldn’t die of cancer and stuff like that.

    I am not an atheist because I am “angry” about somebody dying or anything like that, I’m an atheist because i don’t see any evidence for the supernatural. That is all.

  • Mriana

    That is about how it went for me, HappyNat. The more I learned the more I realized the scholarly theologians were right- it was written by man and it was evolved myth. Psychology reinforced that it was somethng man created. Those Biblical children stories were just renditions of the adult version. I still study under Price (The Bible Geek on Freethought Media) and Spong sometimes because they come up with informations that is very interesting.

    I have a theory, what happened with us, is why so many Evangelical Fundamentalist are so anti-intellectual and try to tell everyone what to think. So, they won’t find the real truth of the matter. Many people who study the Bible and become ministers/priests or professors of theology become non-theists, agnostic, or atheists. Case in point- Dan Barker of the FFRF. Anthony Freeman, who wrote “God In Us: A Case for Christian Humanism” was a priest, but excomunicated from the Anglican church after stating his views in that book along with the S.O.F. (a Christian Humanist group sofn.org.uk/) views. Bishop Spong is a non-theist, who supports Freeman, speaks of Christian Humanist ideas, and has been involved with SOF too. Bob Price grew up Southern Baptist, but is now a Secular Humanist, who worked on the Jesus Project as well as The Jesus Seminar and attends the Episcopal Church. There are others too who became non-theists, agnostics, or atheists, but I can’t think of their names off hand, but all are find people and I either know of them or have had personal contact with them via letters, the church, and/or email. I’ve met Spong personally a few times and he is a very fine man.

    The point is, the more you learn, the more you realize it is more myth just rewritten.

  • http://off-the-map.org/atheist/ Siamang

    Jed Olson wrote:

    The illustration you used Siamang, however, was micro-evolution. Correct me if I am wrong, but isn’t micro-evolution the evolution of species (maybe genus as well, I forget)?

    Jed… I off-loaded this part of the discussion to another board that I hope will make discussion easier.

    Folks are invited to continue this part of the evolution discussion here.

  • Karen

    Billy:

    No other way to say this but I believe that ignorance of the Lord and his Word is usually the reason for these mindsets.

    Billy, that’s a very common assumption and we hear it constantly around here. However, you’re dead wrong about it. I and many others here were bible-believing, born-again Christians at one time. It’s not “ignorance” that turned us off, it was subjecting our long-cherished beliefs to the daylight of reason and research. In the end, there simply was no evidence for what we’d been taught – and in fact quiet a lot of evidence that the teachings were erroneous.

    Mriana:

    I have a theory, what happened with us, is why so many Evangelical Fundamentalist are so anti-intellectual and try to tell everyone what to think. So, they won’t find the real truth of the matter.

    Um, yeah. Y’think? (sarcasm firmly in place) ;-)

  • http://off-the-map.org/atheist/ Siamang

    Look out! Karen in the hiz-ouse!

  • Richard Wade

    Hi Billy, thank you for asking these questions.
    I never argue with people about God. It is a complete waste of time. It only results in anger and division. I don’t know what you mean by

    Now that we have ascertained that science can’t actually prove or substantiate atheism..

    but I’ve always maintained that any attempt to prove or disprove the existence of God through science or empirical evidence is also a complete waste of time. This is because the definition of God offered by believers includes the assertion that he is beyond natural laws and causality. So you won’t see me participating in such a futile exercise.

    I’m also a little puzzled by a word in two of your questions,

    …why do some people claim to be atheists and what kind of personal experiences have they had in life that has led them to this stage? From my own experiences with those claiming to be atheists among my workmates, schoolfriends etc…

    “Claim” to me implies that you have doubt that they really are genuine atheists. When someone says to me that they are a Christian, I don’t think they claim to be so, I assume it’s true. If I’m interested in them I might ask, “Tell me about your experience of Christianity,” but I would never ask, “Why do you claim to be a Christian?” because it sounds as if I’m suspicious that they are somehow counterfeit.

    The statements you have cited from your workmates and school friends sound like they are all reasons to not believe. For me, believing is not the “default setting” that has to be changed for a reason. To believe in something first and then look for reasons not to is backwards for me. I need no reason to not believe. I don’t believe because I have no reason to believe.

    I don’t persist in the assumption of the truth of something in the lack of credible evidence. I have confidence in the probability of something if I see a substantial body of evidence to support it. I have conditional confidence in the probability of things that have some evidence, and I have little or no confidence in the probability of things with little or no evidence.

    When a Christian or person of some other faith first visits an atheist oriented discussion site such as this one, they not only come with a set of beliefs about religion, they also usually come with a set of beliefs about atheists. Often those beliefs are misconceptions that they heard from others rather than from their own direct experiences with atheists. These misconceptions can be about definitions of atheism, the character or morals of atheists, their emotional makeup, their motives or many other things. Some of these can be quite bizarre. The things some people believe about atheists can be weirder than anything in their faith. I had negative assumptions about Christians that I abandoned when I actually started conversing with them. Now I take each person on an individual basis.

    Sadly a few people from any group will live up to the negative stereotypes that other groups hold against them, whether it’s atheists, Christians or whatever. There are just enough to keep the bigotry going. For instance, many people think all atheists are rude and hostile to people of faith. I try hard to not confirm their negative expectations by my own conduct because such stereotypes hurt everyone. I strive to remain patient and respectful even when it’s not returned in kind. Hostility begets hostility on both sides and opportunity for understanding is lost.

    I only argue with such people about their misconceptions about atheists and atheism, never about their religious views. If they can come away with less of their prejudice then it’s a net gain for all of us.

  • http://off-the-map.org/atheist/ Siamang

    Hear-hear Richard!

  • marty

    Billy, as far as I can tell you are getting your jollies by ignoring what atheists are saying, and repeating the same party line over and over just like the Way of the Master taught you. Good for you, but try opening that mind of yours, you might learn something new.

    You say we are a religion, and yet Christianity isn’t one. Define “Religion” for me, hmm? You keep on about “beliefs”, but a belief doesn’t make a religion. I believe I’ll get a coffee. What’s that then, the Religion of Coffee??

    Hey Richard, my brother from another mother! Dishonesty comes in many forms, don’t you think?

    You’d know all about dishonesty. Especially the intellectual kind.

    Now that we have ascertained that science can’t actually prove or substantiate atheism

    What? Science cannot disprove the existence of anything supernatural, which includes god. This doesn’t mean it PROVES it. Science also can’t disprove fairies, unicorns, Zeus or the Flying Spaghetti Monster, and likewise isn’t proof of those things.

    I believe we need to get personal, why do some people claim to be atheists and what kind of personal experiences have they had in life that has led them to this stage? From my own experiences with those claiming to be atheists among my workmates, schoolfriends etc. the same reasons always come up. If there is a God why did he let this happen? Why didn’t God intervene there? Why does God let children starve and suffer? I think you get the gist about what I’m talking about. With others having unanswered prayer or a lack of supernatural or divine experiences is a reason. No other way to say this but I believe that ignorance of the Lord and his Word is usually the reason for these mindsets.

    I think you’ll find that many atheists know (and I mean KNOW) more about the bible and the history of religion than many “saved” do. We certainly know about the holes, the inconsistencies, the bits that make the whole thing beyond belief. Many will tell you (and have) that they were Christians. Try the True Scotsman argument next, thats always a favourite.

    My understanding is that God gave humans dominion over this world, all pain and suffering is a result of our disobedience, ignorence, bad decisions and mistakes

    .
    God gets all the credit for good things, we get all the blame for the bad. Gotcha.

    God is a good God, even though we took for granted and abused our dominion he has made a way for us to turn things around if we open our hearts to the Lord Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit is always available to those who call upon the Lord by faith and with an honest heart. Have you ever prayed then felt let down? Have you ever asked for the Lord to reveal himself to you and nothing seemed to have happened?

    Have you ever done the hokey-pokey while murmuring the seven thousand names of buddha? Have you ever read such unadulterated nonsense?

    There’s two reasons primarily that I am an atheist. I couldn’t believe without proof, that is, to have FAITH — it doesn’t make sense to me that anyone is even willing to believe in this stuff. In fact, I don’t think they do, I think most christians live in little bubbles of doubt and terror that if they step out of those bubbles something bad will happen to them (they’ll go to hell, for instance) and so they try ever so much to believe, trying to lie to themselves that they really really really believe in tinkerbell, and living scared little lives over it.
    And I couldn’t reconcile the idea of an ever-loving and good diety who was the murderous, jealous, retributional credit-stealing thug that appears in the bible.

  • Richard Wade

    Marty, your invective against Billy accomplishes nothing useful other than to provide a good example of the kind of atheist I described, who burdens us all with the stereotype of rude, hostile jerks. Your inflammatory, insulting tone is just as cliche, just as boringly familiar as the chapter-and-verse tripe that the most mechanical fundies spout. We’ve all heard your stuff before too.

    You ask Billy to open his mind, but then immediately barrage him with contempt. Why would he want to open up after that? I’ve seen from your other comments that you’re smart and skilled at argument, and we need you to use that in a positive way. Please use your skill for something better than clever put-downs, and help to raise the level of discussion here rather than degrade it.

  • marty

    Billy,

    I apologise for my tone and invective. As Richard points out, it was uncalled for and unproductive in this environment.

    I’m sorry for my comments, and feel much embarrassed by Richard’s example.

    Sorry folks
    marty

  • Billy

    Gday all. Now one or two of you boys and girls aren’t being totally honest with your comments and life stories, very naughty, you know who you are! Marty has given us all a fine almost Christian-like example of how to repent and some need to take a leaf out of his book. Marty, what is “Way of the master”? Not sure what you’re talking about. Also, I don’t believe that I’ll get a coffee, I either get a coffee or I don’t get a coffee! Your comment that you are an Atheist because you can’t believe in the Lord without proof supports my claim that with some people a lack of supernatural or divine experiences is the reason they claim to be Atheists. If you read some of the recent comments on this thread coming from those claiming to be Atheists you will ascertain for yourself that a lot of my perceptions about Atheism have been spot on, try to read between the lines if you can, it’s not that difficult! By the way, true Christians hate religion, it is one of the main causes of pain and suffering throughout this earths history. Religion leads to bondage and death as opposed to the freedom and abundant life that Jesus through His precious Holy Spirit freely bestows upon his Saints.

    Live right, shine bright, God is light!

    Jesus is Lord!

  • Richard Wade

    Marty, apology accepted. We all lose it, and lately it’s easy to.

    Billy,
    You persist in implying and then stating that people are being less than totally honest without clarifying yourself. You do not specify who you mean or what statements you think are less than honest. Merely saying “you know who you are” is condescending and smug. That kind of behavior will cause people to lose interest in conversing with you. If you have specific doubts about the veracity of specific people then please spell it out.

    You also persist in using the phrase “claim to be an atheist” and have not addressed my point that it implies that you think atheists’ self-descriptions are less than honest as well. I will not “read between the lines.” I expect you to make clear assertions that others can respond to rather than hide behind passive-aggressive veiled insults. I was hoping this conversation would develop into something worthwhile, but your latest comment is not encouraging.

    Billy if you claim to be a Christian, then please show us the good manners of a Christian in straight forward, forthright discourse. Otherwise we’ll have to conclude that you are a troll, and our practice around here is to ignore trolls.

  • http://www.bookrestoration.net Ed Stansell

    Billy,

    Don’t you find it ironic that non believers such as Richard know how a Christian is supposed to behave. They know no more about Christianity than the do of God. And how could they the have no experience in the matter. They may have ideas about proper Christian behavior, but it’s just thier guess.

  • anti-nonsense

    Ed – actually, most of us know a fair bit about Christianity and the supposed teachings of Jesus as written in the New Testament. Don’t assume that because we don’t believe in your religion that we don’t understand it because many of the atheists here WERE Christians before they became atheists and they know first hand about Christianity. It is rather smug of you to imply that the only reason we don’t believe your religion is that we don’t know about it. I’ve read about religions, I know what they teach, My informed opinion is that none of them are true.

    The New Testament contains messages of kindness and consideration, please show some of those qualities.

  • Richard Wade

    Ed, I think we got off on the wrong foot with you, and I hope we can reconcile that. You expressed some misconceptions that were new to us, and I think we were less than patient and respectful with you. I apologize for my part in that.

    Your comments about atheists and to atheists seem to have a lot of resentment. Are you angry about something? If any of us have offended you, other than simply not agreeing with your beliefs, please tell us about it so we can work things out.

    Also, if I’m wrong to think that most Christians behave with fairness and open-heartedness, wanting to extend love and friendship to everyone, then please correct me. That has always been my impression of the Christians I know, but I guess I could have been mistaken.

  • Billy

    Hey Richard, I apologise if I have offended you in any way. Not sure why you have such a problem with the word ‘claim’, I don’t see it as insulting, I use it with regard to people of other religions as well, I also use it toward people who ‘claim’ to be born again Christians. You probably don’t know this and would most likely find it a little too difficult a concept to grasp, but an important aspect of Christianity is ‘testing the spirits’. Richard, true Christians would much prefer that you treat those who profess to be Christians in the same manner rather than taking them at their word, test them, treat them with suspicion until they prove themselves, believe me, you will not be hurting anyones feelings. I and many other Christians are honestly very interested in why some people state that they are Atheists. You ignored a few points and questions I put to you a while ago, I sincerely hope that you won’t get upset and offended if I try again. I understand that sometimes I have a tendancy to hit a few nerves and I also realise that most people can get fairly defensive when it comes to trying to explain why they believe what they believe. Most times they need to relive experiences that they went through while they were at their lowest ebb or going through their greatest hurt, it requires real honesty.

    Have you ever experienced what you thought was unanswered prayer? Have you ever hoped for a supernatural experience or visitation from Jesus and then felt that nothing had eventuated? Have you ever made comments such as ‘if there was a God why did he let this happen’ etc? Have you ever found yoursef in a position of blaming God?

    Love you all heaps,

    Live right, shine bright, Jesus is Lord!

  • http://www.bookrestoration.net Ed Stansell

    Anti:

    I never said that the only reason that to you are an atheist is because you don’t understand Christianity. Read back; you’ll find no such statemant. “Many atheists were Christians before…” This can’t be! I don’t expect you to understand this but according to Christian doctrine: salvation is eternally secure. A true Christian would never turn there back on God entirely. Some, even many, do fall away because of inadequate teaching. They found no use for them in Christianity. Not that they were correct, but that was their perception. They no longer follow the Lord. However, they are still saved from hell. There are Scripture references to proove this, should anyone doubt. Some Christian may want nothing to do with God but they still believe that He is.

    Richard,

    No apology needed. We all get overheated sometimes when speaking on subjects close to the bone.

    Most Christians do not behave like Christians should. The truth is, we are just like everybody else. we’re not good people by nature. It was just our good fortune that God called us to be Christians and we accepted. That acceptance was not a promotion to a higher plane of existance. We still have all the temptation that the rest of the world has ,maybe more. The difference is that committed Christian rely on the Holy Spirit to keep them from sinning. The Apostle Paul said, ” In me there dwells no good thing. That I would do, I do not. And, that I would not do, that I do. Who shall save me from this body of death? I thank God for Jesus Christ.”
    There is a great misconception of just what a Christian is. Growing up in a Christian family and going to a Christian church does not make one a Christian. Going to Church doesn’t make you a Christian anymore than going to a garage make one an automobile.

  • Karen

    The difference is that committed Christian rely on the Holy Spirit to keep them from sinning

    Huh. Seems like the holy spirit isn’t doing such a good job, is he? He may be asleep at the switch!

    We have studies that show “committed Christians” (there are so many qualifiers in religion, aren’t there?!) are just as likely to commit “sins” such as adultery, divorce, fraud, theft, as their “unsaved” counterparts.

  • http://www.bookrestoration.net Ed Stansell

    Karen,

    “Qualifiers?” Please explain. True Christianity is not a religion. Christianity requires nothing but the sincere belief on the part of the believer that Christ died for their sins. Nothing else. No church, no singing, no anything. We pray because that is how we communicate with God. We go to church to worship God (at least that should be our motive) and we sing hymns for the same reason. We can ,though worship God anywhare.

    Yes, Christians can and do sin as much as there unsaved counterpart. The Holy Spirit doesn’t prevent us from sinning. He provides an escape from it so that we don’t have to. Unfortunately most Christians don’t listen. Also unfortunately Christians have given God and Christianity a bad name. Christians for the most part just want to keep their tail feathers from getting burnt and only call on God when they’re hanging on the edge of a cliff by their fingernails or the like. As a result they go through all the crap that everyone else has to go through as the result of sin.

  • Richard Wade

    Billy, you asked

    Have you ever experienced what you thought was unanswered prayer? Have you ever hoped for a supernatural experience or visitation from Jesus and then felt that nothing had eventuated? Have you ever made comments such as ‘if there was a God why did he let this happen’ etc? Have you ever found yourself in a position of blaming God?

    No, I have never experienced these things or done these things. When I have been in painful or difficult situations I have taken what action I could to better the situations or called on friends or professionals for assistance. Blaming is a primitive and unconstructive bad habit that I avoid. I take responsibility for my own actions and the consequences. If the situation is not my creation and beyond my control, I still take responsibility as in “response ability.” I have the ability to respond in ways that may make the situation better or worse. I make the best decision I can and take action. If it works, great, if not, I accept the response ability and make the best decision I can from there. Blaming does not come up.

    I grew up surrounded by scientists. My parents worked as designers at a major natural history museum and their friends were geologists, biologists, botanists, paleontologists, archeologists and historians. I loved being at the museum and often went with the scientists on their field work, on digs or collecting specimens. When kids at school talked about how they wanted to grow up to be teachers or firemen, I said I wanted to be an entomologist or an archeologist, or what ever science had intrigued me that year.

    So my parents did not stress that things like prayer, religion, Jesus or God were important. I was encouraged to find things out for myself by looking, rather than just listening to someone who was supposed to know something. If I couldn’t do the looking myself, I listened to people who did do the looking themselves, such as scientists. I tended to give less credence to someone who learned only from listening to others who had only listened to others who had only listened to others and so on. I was always naturally a skeptical kid, and skeptic means “to look.”

  • Mriana

    I agree with Richard. I try to be the same way with responsibility and response ability. IMO it is the only way to live life. You cannot blame others or even a supernatural being for things that go wrong in life. You have to do something to hopefully make things better.

  • http://www.bookrestoration.net Ed Stansell

    Richard & Mriana,

    Christians also take reponsibilty fot their own actions. Atheists do not have a monopoly on this virtue. Despite what you seem to have surmised, we do not blame supernatural powers for our mistakes and hang-ups. Yes we do believe that Satan tempts us, but, he has no control over us that we don’t allow him to have. God also lets us go our own way, if we so choose. He too exercises no control over us that we do not allow. There are consequences for sin however which we all pay if we sin willfully. I’m sure this is not a concept that you will agree with or understand. One can understand only if they wish to.

  • Mriana

    I didn’t say Christians didn’t in my post. I just said people cannot blame a supernatural being.

  • Richard Wade

    Ed, I never said or implied that atheists have a monopoly on self responsibility. Of course not. I don’t read that in Mriana’s statement either. I was responding to Billy’s questions which had included one about blaming God for difficulties in life. Nor do I think that Christians in general do so. Not every statement an atheist makes about atheism is a constrast implying something about Christianity. I’m sure you are a very self responsible person. You just have a different framework for your thnking than non believers do. Nothing better or worse is implied.

    As for understanding concepts, it is possible to wish to understand concept and still not be able to, and it is possible to understand a concept and still not agree with it.

  • http://www.bookrestoration.net Ed Stansell

    Mriana,

    You did imply that Christians blame a supernatural being. Some may, but, intelligent Christians do not. Non-Christians suppose many things about Christianity, but they are only suppositions.

    Let us use the analogy of a layman and his “understanding” of electro-physics. He may have his theories regaring electro-magnetism, cold fusion or perpetual motion devices, but until he has, not only studied but has a working knowledge of such things, he cannot really even hold an intelligent conversation in those areas. ( I fall into that catagory) That analogy holds up regarding Scripture. One cannot speak intelligently regarding the Bible unless they have studied it and have a working knowledge of it. And just as I could not possibly pass myself off understanding electro-physics, neither can you pass yourself off as having a working knowledge of Scripture or Christianity.

  • Karen

    Qualifiers?” Please explain.

    In my experience, Christians from one sect are fond of excluding as “true believers” those from another sect, denomination or school of thought. So, for instance, when I was a Protestant we were taught that Catholics were not “true Christians” because they had not accepted a personal relationship with Jesus and did not study the bible themselves.

    When I attended Calvary Chapel, we were told that “mainline” Protestants were not “true believers” because they were “spiritually dead” rather than “on fire for the Lord.”

    When you attempt to qualify your comment by saying “committed” Christians, it seems to me you’re doing the same thing. However, that puts you in the position of determining who is “committed” to the beliefs are who is not. Which is rather a lot of responsibility to place on your own shoulders, I would think.

    Yes, Christians can and do sin as much as there unsaved counterpart. The Holy Spirit doesn’t prevent us from sinning. He provides an escape from it so that we don’t have to. Unfortunately most Christians don’t listen. Also unfortunately Christians have given God and Christianity a bad name.

    Yes, this is the standard answer; unfortunately I don’t buy it. It seems to me to be a major cop-out as well as a “blame-the-victim” strategy that sends believers’ self-esteem into the gutter. Which is a hell of a way to live.

    Either the holy spirit lives up to the promises made about him in the gospels, or he doesn’t. In my experience – and studies bear this out – he fails miserably. And I won’t blame people (who are human, after all) for a supposed god’s failures.

  • Richard Wade

    Ed,

    Non-Christians suppose many things about Christianity, but they are only suppositions.

    Yes, they often do though not always, and the supposing goes both ways. It often leads to unnecessary enmity so I try to minimize my own supposing as much as I can. That is the only reason I engage in these conversations; to promote mutual understanding and hopefully respect. When a Christian challenges a supposition I may have, I’m willing to look at it and amend or abandon it according to what he or she says.

    The problem is that I can only apply that new information to that particular Christian rather than apply it as a new supposition to all Christians. Many, though not all Christians I have met talk about how one is not a “true” Christian unless they have done X and Y, while others have said no, a “true” Christian has to do A and B. Still others I talk to don’t concern themselves with making such distinctions on such criteria at all. So far all the people calling themselves Christians I’ve met think that they are indeed Christians.

    So from the vantage point of an outsider like myself I can only apply each person’s views to them as individuals, and I can’t assume that one person’s assertions about why they are a Christian are more or less valid than another.

  • http://www.bookrestoration.net Ed Stansell

    Richard,

    All true!

  • http://www.bookrestoration.net Ed Stansell

    Mrians,

    The implication is there nonetheless.

    Karen,

    No offence mean, but, you do not really have a grap on just what Christianity is. There are a great many Catholics, Roman and others who are true christians. There are some priests and pastors who aren’t (it’s just their means of employment)

    I don’t understand your statement “blame the victom”. God has no failures! If you think He does, please give an example and I’ll try to explain.

    Richard,

    There are no X & Y rules or A & B rules. There is only ONE thing and that is the personal acceptance that Jesus died for your personal sins. That is it in totality. anything added to this is false. Salvation is a gift!!! A gift cannot be worked for. We are called believers because that is the point We are saved by our belief in the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ. If we say something else needs to be done or we need to go to a certain church, we are liars and the truth is not in us. By adding anything we have subtracted from the work of Christ on the cross.

  • Mriana

    Ed, I think you are taking it a little too personally.

  • Richard Wade

    There are no X & Y rules or A & B rules. There is only ONE thing and that is the personal acceptance that Jesus died for your personal sins. That is it in totality. anything added to this is false. Salvation is a gift!!! A gift cannot be worked for. We are called believers because that is the point We are saved by our belief in the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ. If we say something else needs to be done or we need to go to a certain church, we are liars and the truth is not in us. By adding anything we have subtracted from the work of Christ on the cross.

    Thank you Ed. That is a very clear and strong statement. No ifs, ands or buts.
    So, and I’m being very earnest here, would that mean that:

    Believing that the world is only six thousand years old is not necessary?

    Believing that all living things were created exactly as they are today is not necessary?

    Persecuting gay people is not necessary?

    Subjugating women is not necessary?

    Shunning, slandering, firing, harassing, beating and killing non Christians is not necessary?

    That as you say such things are added on and therefore false?

    That by adding these things they subtract from the work of Christ on the Cross?

    These are a few of many things that some, (not all) self-described Christians think are very necessary to the practice of their faith. They come right out and say so, and they try hard to make these things the law of the land. If your description is “it in totality,” if that is the core of your belief, that is wonderful, because then those anti-rational myths and anti-social bigotries which discredit and sully Christianity so much can be set aside without losing the precious essence of your faith.

    At least that’s how I see the implications of what you said. I am not mocking you or playing games with your words. I am earnest.

  • http://www.bookrestoration.net Ed Stansell

    Richard,

    You present a big list. I’ll try to deal with them point by point.

    If one chooses to believe the earth is only 6000 years old, that’s their affair. It has nothing to do with Christianity. That figure was arrived at by Bishop Usher, I believe he was an Anglican Bishop, in the early 19th century; but I’m not sure. He supposedly counted back the years in the lives of the patriarcs which he added to what he believed was a literal six day creation. This is not a canon of the faith. In fact it is ignored by most Christians as foolishness.

    A Christian is free to believe in evolution or creation by God as he sees fit. That does not affect whether or not one is a Christian. However most Christians belive that the universe and the life in it are no accident but exist by design of God. Even those of us who believe in evolution believe that God created that process as well. We who believe in a more direct creation accept that mutations have occured. But whatever, these are phiosophies and not bearing on ones being a Christian or not.

    Persecuting homosexuals is not part of Christianity! Most Christians believe, and I also, that homosexuality is an aberration and a sin. Scripture (both Old Testament and New) clearly marks homosexuality as sin. That doesn’t mean we are free to persecute homosexuals! Divorce is also a sin (in most cases) We do not persecute those that have divorced. For that matter, selfishness is a sin we do not persecute the selfish. That would include the lot of us. God deals with the sinner. In civilization we try to control disruptive, or behavior deemed to be harmful to the general public by passing laws regarding these types of behavior. Do I personally think that homosexuality should be illegal. No. I believe that no law harming or protecting homosexuals should exist.

    Scripture says in with God there is neither male nor female; neither Jew nor Greek. In other words, One is not better than another to God. God is not a respector of persons. Many Christians, myself included think that women should manage the household and in most cases be second in command, as it were, in the family. There cannot be two heads of the family someone has to make a final decision if it comes down to that. However, scripture says that a man should love his wife the way that Christ loved the Church and gave his life for it. A man is to love his wife as he loves his own body. Christ said that we were to do unto others as we would have others do unto us. Does that sound like subjugation? Either way, this area in not a tenant of the faith. If Christianity excluded sinners, there’d be no Christianity. God knew that we were beyond self-help regarding sin. Christ died for the sins of the entire world. All sins but one were forgiven at His death; that of unbelief regarding His sacrifice.

    The shunning, killing, etc. of non Christians is not part of Christianity!! in fact it is an abomination. Anyone doing such things in the name of Christ is a liar and a coward. This type of behavior usually recalls the Spanish Inquisition, in which mainly Jews were tortured, imprisoned and killed. Doing this “in the name of Christianity” was done as an effort to make the crime seem more legitimate. You will find nothing in Scripture. that promotes or condones such behavior. Christ says “Love your enemies. Do good to those who spitefully use you and do all manner of things against you for My sake.”

    When I became a Christian, I recognized that I was a sinner and unable to help myself to keep from sinning. Oh, I might do alright for a while but sooner rather than later, I was back to my old behavior. I also recognized that I needed a savior and that the Bible say that Christ was sacrificed by God for that purpose. I accepted that sacrifice as my salvation from hell and from myself. With that acceptance I became a Christian (one who follows Christ) Adding anything, no matter what, deminishes the importance of His sacrifice. If I have to be good or behave a certain way or talk a certain way or give money, etc., then my salvation would be partly my doing. This can’t be! The sacrifice alone atones for our sins.(with God)

    Christians like the rest of us tend to be reactionary. They think that if anything is a problem, the solution is making a law against it. If a thing should be promoted, pass a law supporting it. While many of the ills in this world would be solved if everyone was or behaved like a Christian, that does not mean that we can legislate that into being. We must live rightly and try to INFLUENCE others to live rightly, not force them into our mold. An accute lack of patience drives us all, Christian and Non alike and our world suffers for it.

    Most Christians, even genuine Christians do not STUDY the Bible, for if they did, these bigotries you speak of would not be so prevalent. Sadly most Christians do not have a clue what the Bible really says or means. We certainly should not wonder that non believer have the wrong slant.

    I’m not sure what myths you refer to. Creation?

    I did not feel mocked or that you were not in earnest.

  • Karen

    No offence mean, but, you do not really have a grap on just what Christianity is. There are a great many Catholics, Roman and others who are true christians. There are some priests and pastors who aren’t (it’s just their means of employment)

    Ed, you misunderstand what I’m saying.

    I don’t believe in “qualifying” between Christians, nor in judging who is or isn’t a “true” Christian. I accept what people say about their own beliefs, as I believe everyone deserves that much respect (at a minimum) and I have no right to decide how sincere their beliefs are.

    What I was trying to express is that many Christians DO qualify and judge and backpeddle about who is a “true” Christian – or a “committed Christian” to use your own phrasing – and I object to that practice. That’s why I lamented about there being “so many qualifiers.”

    Do you understand?

    I don’t understand your statement “blame the victom”. God has no failures! If you think He does, please give an example and I’ll try to explain.

    My reaction that you are blaming the victim came in response to this post of yours:

    Unfortunately most Christians don’t listen. Also unfortunately Christians have given God and Christianity a bad name. Christians for the most part just want to keep their tail feathers from getting burnt and only call on God when they’re hanging on the edge of a cliff by their fingernails or the like. As a result they go through all the crap that everyone else has to go through as the result of sin.

    Do you see what you are doing? You are blaming people (“bad Christians”) for failures when it is god that is at fault – or, more likely in my view, there is no god and thus no one to blame when people go bad but human nature, ignorance, unfortunate circumstances, selfishness, etc.

    Here’s my point: Many places in scripture, Christians are promised divine guidance that will make a real difference in their lives. Heck, they get a HOLY SPIRIT living inside their bodies to guide and direct them. That supernatural power is advertised as producing all kinds of miraculous benefits (“fruits”) like love, joy, peace, patience, unity, and on and on.

    But the fact is, there is no measureable difference in the “fruits” of Christians, other religioius people, and nonreligious people. All of us do good sometimes and bad sometimes. I hope that those of us who are committed to living intentionally and compassionately (humanists, whether they are religious or nonreligious) do more good than bad during our brief lives.

    But there’s no evidence that a holy spirit is hanging around with certain people and influencing them to be better than others. That’s just not happening in a measureable way, which is the only way that counts.

    Therefore, Christians have to explain that problem away. Rather than blaming god, or concluding there is no god and thus the holy spirit promise is fiction, they blame the victims, i.e. themselves and their fellow believers. This sends their self-esteem and other believers’ self-esteem into the crapper.

    Which, as I said, is a hell of a way to live. I know, because I did it for 30 years.

  • Billy

    Hello all, please allow me to make a few comments or observations.

    Karen, you state that you were a Christian for 30 years, during that time was Christianity to you only a state of mind or emotions? Did you ever see any tangible proof of the Lord and his love either in congregations or when you were by yourself? For example, were the sick being healed? Were bondages and addictions broken? Were the poor and needy looked after? Did the gifts (not the fruit) of the Holy Spirit ever manifest?

    Richard, it’s great that your parents allowed you to find things out for yourself, mine did the same. Did you ever pursue Jesus or study the Bible? From what you have said you have a passion for archaeological and geological digs or expeditions, I would think that you were searching for things that couldn’t be seen by the natural eye until it was dug up, then it would manifest itself to your physical senses, you had faith in the unseen. Lets say you found a fossil, now that fossil had always been there even though you couldn’t see it or smell it or touch it etc. you only discovered it after you searched and dug it up. Born-again Christians generally have the same kind of experiences. Jesus and his grace is always here, seek Him with an honest heart and you will find Him, then you’ll find that as you grow in the Lord He will become more and more tangible to you. “The Holy Spirit quickens our mortal bodies”. ‘Dig’ in the spiritual realm! The physical realm is temporal the spiritual realm is eternal.

    Jesus is tangible and very real to me, more real than the monitor in front of me, He is the Love of my life, the very reason for my existance. Atheistic theology could only be saying one of either the following two things: (1) I am a liar, or (2) Jesus is real but don’t submit to or acknowledge Him.

    Hi ho hi ho it’s off to ‘dig’ we go…..

    Stay beautiful people!

    Live right, shine bright, Jesus is Lord!

  • Karen

    Billy, the story of my conversion and Christian life can be found here.

    The second page gets into how I was born again and what churches I attended.

  • Richard Wade

    Ed,
    Thank you for your detailed answer. I am glad that you consider the things I mentioned to be contrary to your faith. It has been my experience so far that most people who identify as Christians repudiate the social outrages while a very active minority condones them. I wish and hope that the majority can persuade the minority to stop these destructive practices and to focus on more positive concerns.

    The myths I referred to were the idea of the young earth/seven day creation for which you have supplied background information, re. Bishop Usher. Thank you for that. My use of the word myth was not a pejorative, only that I consider it to be mythology. Mythology can be very useful as instructive literature when viewed as metaphor rather than literal description, which as you say most Christians consider a foolish way to see it.

  • Richard Wade

    Hi Billy,
    I read the Bible, or most of it at age 18. I read it with curiosity and an open mind. It did not have much effect on me. That’s about all I can say about it.

    Your use of the fossil metaphor is interesting. I understand your comparison to a spiritual experience after a process of searching, and I am glad for you that your searching has proved rewarding.

    However my search uses different parameters which I consider to be inborn in me. Curiosity rather than faith drives me. My path involves actual digging in real soil and real stone, tangible as in hold it in my hand, rather than tangible as in a strong feeling of conviction and certainty. I don’t want certainty; I want more questions. Certainty would kill my curiosity, and that would kill me.

    Though our paths seem different, perhaps that is just caused by our limited field of view. We each see the world as if through diverging tunnels. To assume that our tiny section of the vista represents the entire panorama would be foolish and arrogant.

    My friends, I must bid you goodbye for the time being. The duties of family and career which I have neglected call me away. I am glad that together we were able to call our multi-lateral discussion back from the brink of diatribe and dismissal. I come away from this with more appreciation and understanding of other’s viewpoints, and I hope that you do as well.

    Adieu

  • http://off-the-map.org/atheist/ Siamang

    Thanks for taking part here, Richard! I’ll miss you.

  • http://www.bookrestoration.net Ed Stansell

    Karen,

    Without “qualifying” you wind up judging actual Christians from the beliefs and behavior of nominal Christians. You can’t judge the quality of oranges by examining bananas.

    Why blame God for the faults of man. We are promised devine guidance but we have to follow it for it to do us any good. What good is a road map if you won’t pay attention to its directions? If I get lost on a road trip, should I blame the map that I refused to follow? The fruit of the Spirit comes only when we obey the leading of the Holy Spirit. It is possible (stated in Scripture) that is is possible to grieve or quench the Holy Spirit) by continued disobedience. A born again Christian who greives the Holy Spirit does not loose their salvation. The are still inhabited by Him. The differnce is that the Spirit no longer bothers to get that person to listen. What would be the point. God has saved them. He won’t back out on the deal but there’s no point beating a dead horse.

    Do you feel that you once were “inhabited” by the Holy Spirit? Hebrews chapter 5 and 6 tell of genuine Christians “falling away” from the faith because they were fed only milk. (the basics) and not the meat of the word (that which we need for everyday life) causing the sacrifice of Christ to be of no affect in their lives, beyond salvation. You may be one of these.

    How is man a victim? God says “This is the way, walk in it” but we go our own way instead? Christian are not “zapped” and made good people, but by following God and studying His word to better know the way. they can be pretty good people. (actually, we are allowing Christ to live his life through us)

  • Karen

    Without “qualifying” you wind up judging actual Christians from the beliefs and behavior of nominal Christians. You can’t judge the quality of oranges by examining bananas.

    Perhaps you need to qualify; I do not like to do that. I prefer to take people at their word when they describe themselves as one thing, or another, without judging whether they are “nominal,” “committed,” or in between. Maybe I learned that back in my Christian days – isn’t there something about how only god can judge a person and see what’s truly in their hearts? ;-)

    Why blame God for the faults of man. We are promised devine guidance but we have to follow it for it to do us any good. What good is a road map if you won’t pay attention to its directions?

    Well, to this I would say, What good is the holy spirit if it can’t even predispose someone to follow its directions when they’ve taken all the steps necessary to “invite it in” and so forth?

    There’s no need for a holy spirit if Christians have just as much trouble following god’s rules and the bible’s teachings, etc. as every other non-holy-spirit-filled person does. And why does the bible make so many promises about believers manifesting the “fruit of the spirit” when it doesn’t actually deliver on them?

    I believe the promises of the bible are bankrupt, Ed, but I don’t have any delusions that you’ll agree. One has to get a modicum of distance from these teachings in order to recognize the problems with them. I was an atheist for intellectual reasons for quite some time before I went back and examined these specific teachings objectively and saw the problems with them.

  • http://www.bookrestoration.net Ed Stansell

    Karen,

    If someone tells me they are a Christian, I take their word for it. However, everyone who calls himself one isn’t.

    I did not say that Christians have as much trouble refraining from sin as everyone one else. The have the Holy Spirit as their guide. But most don’t follow that guide. The unsaved. have no choice but to sin. It man’s nature and they lack the support of the Spirit. God keeps His promises. The fruit is available but its up to the believer to wheter or not they bear that fruit. Examples. The other day my wife told me of a friend of hers who said “I know I’m suposed to bridle my tongue, but I’m not about to let any walk all over me! She knew the right thing to do but willfully chose to disobey. Years ago in our Sunday School class a woman said ” I know the Bible says that wives should submit to their husbands, but God doesn’t know Dan. God does not force Himself on anybody and does not want robotic followers. We follow and obey because we want to. I was away from church from age eleven to thirty five. I think that would qualify as a modicum of distance. I was also away for another dozen or so years from 1981 to 2005. I did not get away from God in that time nor did I find his promises bankrupt. I got away from church because I did not find the organized church had anything to offer me. I still don’t. However, I feel that I have something to offer the church. Many churches today teach only the fundamentals which is like putting up the framing of a house but never closing in the roof and wall and never furnishing the house. Many are saved but few get beyond that God call but they don’t listen.