Pastor Tim Keller Tries and Fails to Criticize the New Atheists

Want to know how to refute the likes of Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens, and Daniel Dennett?

… well, you won’t learn how by watching this video featuring Pastor Tim Keller:

In a few minutes, he reveals his ignorance in a big way.

At no point do any of the New Atheists say that we should disrespect religious believers. Of course you should treat them with kindness and respect. But when their ideas are wrong, there’s no reason you should treat those beliefs with kid gloves. Don’t let bad ideas go unchallenged — that’s one of the key messages of the popular atheist authors.

Then you have the assertion that, because the atheists aren’t well-versed in Keller’s version of “good philosophy,” their ideas aren’t worth taking seriously. Not that Keller mentions what “big ideas” they’re ignoring… probably because there aren’t any. All I can think of when I hear that is Courtier’s Reply.

Keller has no useful criticism of the New Atheists. Just a lot of worthless rambling that some people will inevitably take seriously because he has the word “Pastor” in front of his name.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • ortcutt

    The fascinating thing about this is how the obscurantist, anti-Enlightenment drumbeat (Rorty, Fish, “Theory”, Science Studies, etc…) that you hear in Humanities departments (excluding Philosophy) is enlisted to attack the New Atheists.  What Keller doesn’t tell you is that most academic philosophers in the US agree with the New Atheists on the substantive points.  Does he really think Dan Dennett doesn’t know anything about philosophy?  That’s the really stupid thing about the Courtier’s Reply.   

  • EE from Roch

    Yeah…. Christopher Hitchens didn’t know ANYTHING about philosophy, despite being able to crush any opponent on any related topic, often out-quoting the faithful in their own faith. Pastor Fail.

    • Gage

      He was definitely good at what he did. To say that he out Bible-quoted a pastor though is a bit stretching. I feel like I’m watching Braveheart and listening to the story of William Wallace grow. 

      “You can’t be William Wallace! William Wallace is 7 feet tall and shoot lightning bolts out of his arse.”

  • Patrick Connors


    At no point do any of the New Atheists say that we should disrespect religious believers.”

    I don’t know.  Dawkins at the Reason Rally telling people to openly mock people that believe in transubstantiation seemed pretty disrespectful to me, regardless of how unbelievable and irrational that belief might be.

    • http://www.facebook.com/fieldsb Brian Fields

       I think you fundamentally misunderstood Prof. Dawkin’s point.  He wasn’t saying we should mock people, he was saying that we should ask people if they actually believe these crazy things.  His assertion is that most people identify as religious but don’t actually believe the really crazy things.

      • Patrick Connors

        His line was (not verbatim) “ask them if they truly believe that is the blood of Christ. Ask them if they truly believe that is his body. If they answer yes, mock them.”  

        • Heintje_K

          Patrick, I think Prof. Dawkins’ words (as do other people’s)deserve more charitable interpretation.
          If you listen to the speech again, you may notice that he used “you” when referring to the hypothetical believer, and then said “mock them”. I personally interprete “them” to refer to the beliefs, rather than the believers.
          I won’t deny that I am biased in my interpretation because I am Prof. Dawkins’ fan, though. However, given Prof. Dawkins’ precision in choosing words, I do feel vindicated.

          • Gage

            Interpretation? Hmm… if your rally leader is so perfect, why would his words be debated and open for interpretation? Where have I heard that argument before?

            • Heintje_K

              Where and when the fuck did I ever say he was perfect? Don’t you realise that the confusion over what he means is partly due to the nature of english language? Had he spoken in french, there might have been no ambiguity because french language is more precise with pronouns.

              • Gage

                So someone with a differing opinion is a troll? Does that mean that we can’t have decent conversation because anybody who says anything different somehow gets a label and is therefore deemed insignificant? 

        • Robert Thille

          “Ridicule is the only weapon which can be used against unintelligible propositions. Ideas must be distinct before reason can act upon them; and no man ever had a distinct idea of the trinity. It is the mere Abracadabra of the mountebanks calling themselves the priests of Jesus.” 
          ― Thomas Jefferson
          Ridicule is an excellent tool for forcing people to examine their beliefs.

        • spinkham

          In his keynote speech at the American Atheists convention the next day, Dawkins questioned whether his comments went too far and spent a good amount of his time talking about that issue more:

          http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=UvFraowYhdY#t=1036s

          There’s a fine line to be walked between unwarranted respect and unwarranted abuse.  I think he crossed that line in the reason rally speech, and it seems he might agree from his comments the next day.

      • Justin Miyundees

        I’m a big Dawkins fan, but I did get the impression he was at his “kick the dog” moment.  It looked momentarily like he was taken by ill humor and had had just about enough of this goddamned silliness.  I completely concur and sympathize, but the notion that I should mock my 80 year old aunt and my wife’s 93 year old aunt who’s celebrating 75 years as a nun is a bit over the top.  

        I think that line shows that everyone has a limit to the amount of bullshit they can take.  He surely does not mean for anyone to abuse frail old ladies, but if I’m at a cocktail party and someone tries to put that crap off, they’re fair game for mockery and amusement.  This is taking a page from the Catholic church – the April Fool was a concoction by them to drum out Paganism by treating believers as objects of ridicule.

    • http://dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

      Mockery should never replace reasoned argument- that just leaves the ad hominem fallacy. But it can certainly be used alongside rational discussion. But should it? Context is everything! In debates between “experts”, particularly public debates, there is a long history of effective use of mockery (often called “wit”) to make your opponent look foolish. An “expert” opens himself up to a wider range of attack… and should be able to effectively deal with it. On the other hand, in a less formal setting… an atheist trying to convince one or more “ordinary” people why they should look at the world differently, mockery would be a foolish approach, likely to shut down any discussion and cause others to close themselves to the message.

      If Dawkins honestly believes that mockery of one individual by another is an effective way to change a mind, he’s a fool. But I doubt that, and I doubt that in such a scenario, he’d choose mockery as his tool for change.

      • Mike Higginbottom

        “Mockery should never replace reasoned argument”
        Yes. Yes it should. When a person persists in believing something like 1+1=3 despite numerous reasoned refutations and despite ready access to evidence showing them to be wrong, then they cease to be deserving of reasoned argument and the best approach is to simply highlight their idiocy to the rest of the world. The only recourse here is to have society ridicule them to the point at which their beliefs become socially unacceptable. Exactly the same way we deal with racism. You’ll never change such an individual’s beliefs, all you can hope to do is innoculate his children against them.

        • http://dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

          The ad hominem fallacy is the product of replacing reasoning with personal attack. It’s always a mistake. When you reach the point in an argument that nobody is going to change their views, and all possible rational points have been expressed, it’s time to walk away, not to mock.

          I do think it is reasonable to mock a person of authority, however, assuming it is done carefully, wittily, and not at the expense of ignoring rational arguments, as well. When people of authority debate, they are rarely trying to convince each other, but rather are working on their audience. That changes the rules somewhat.

          • Thalfon

             Mockery in that circumstance is basically playing to the audience. If someone refuses to accept anything other than 1+1=3, but there are still others willing to listen, showing demonstrably how great of a buffoon they are for their belief before that audience ensures that they aren’t going to spread their misled beliefs very easily.

            For a more concrete example, consider the counter-protests against the WBC. Nobody in their right mind thinks they’ll change the WBC’s mind, but what they can do is turn the church into a laughable spectacle, such that nobody takes them seriously.

            It’s important not to completely abandon an argument merely because you cannot convince your opponent, if that opponent can do harm by misleading others while you’re not there to counterargue the point.

          • http://twitter.com/rabidsi Simon Cooper

            Your definition of ad hominem is broken.

            Saying that someone’s belief is stupid because that belief itself is stupid is NOT ad hominem. It’s just a statement of belief with no backing. If you’ve already backed it up it’s just restating your position.

            For a personal attack to be ad hominem, you need to be attacking a negative opinion, belief or trait of the person you are arguing in a manner that is circuitous or unrelated to the actual point under discussion.

            Let me demonstrate for you.

            Your definition of ad hominem is both wrong and stupid. (not ad hom)

            You are stupid, therefore your definition of ad hominem is wrong. (ad hom)

            Is this clear to you now?

            • http://dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

              I believe my definition is absolutely correct. The ad hominem fallacy occurs when personal attack is used instead of logical argument.

              I never said or suggested that simply calling somebody a name constitutes a logical fallacy.

              • http://twitter.com/rabidsi Simon Cooper

                If you have given reasoned and logical argument and that argument is completely ignored, mocking someone does not suddenly become ad hominem simply because you are sick of banging your head against a brick wall pointing out obvious facts.

                I’m not sure if you realise this, but this is what you implied. As has already been stated, mocking someone is not for the benefit of the person being mocked. Some ideas just need to die. The simplest way for ideas to die is for them to not spread in the first place. Mockery is a simple and often effective way of saying “this is unacceptable, I’m no longer interested in being reasoned and polite, stop it”. It achieves much the same effect as telling a person who repeatedly insists on being a dick to fuck off where asking nicely fails.

                • http://dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

                  I don’t think that was my implication. I distinguished (several times) simple ad hominem from the ad hominem fallacy. If it makes you feel good to call an idiot names after attempting rational debate, fine. That’s not a fallacy. But we all have to be careful to respond rationally to any argument that might reasonably be interpreted as rational… even if the argument is from an idiot.

          • poliltimmy

            The ad hominem is not always a fallacy. In some instances, questions of personal conduct, character, motives, etc., are legitimate and relevant to the issue, as when it directly involves hypocrisy, or actions contradicting the subject’s words.

            • http://dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

              People frequently misunderstand this fallacy. Those who find themselves being called names often scream “ad hominem” when it is not. You can call a stupid person stupid, and as long as you can justify that statement, you are guilty of no logical fallacy.

              It only becomes a fallacy if used instead of logical argument… in which case I think it is always logically unsound and nearly always a bad decision.

    • Mike Higginbottom

      I really don’t get the problem here. Belief in transubstatiation is just flat out silly.  Silly in the sense of believing the world is flat, or believing in Santa Claus. There’s simply no excuse for such beliefs in any person who has access to the mountains of evidence against said beliefs. People should know better. The fact that a person would persist in such beliefs whilst wilfully ignoring the evidence IS grounds for outright mockery. The ONLY reason people dislike mockery of transubstantiation is that LOTS of people persist in the belief. And that’s not a reasoned reason.

      That said, belief in transubstatiation is only once facet of a personality. These people may well be excellent brain surgeons, loving husbands, doting fathers. Mock their foolishness all you want but that’s not ALL  a person is.

  • Graham Martin-Royle

    Do I respect religious belief? No.

    Do I respect people that believe in religion? Also no. I may respect them in certain areas but the simple fact that they believe a bunch of fantasy stories and fairy tales are true automatically lowers any respect that I may have had for them. I would find it hard to respect any adult that told me that they still believed in Jack Frost or the Easter Bunny,  or any other mythological being, so I find that any religious belief falls into that category and respect flies out the window.

    • JC

      It doesn’t matter if you respect religious people because your respect neither proves nor disproves the existence of God or what you call fantasy stories. 

  • http://dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

    I see “Pastor” in front of somebody’s name, I’m immediately skeptical of their rationality and intelligence. A person like that has to go an extra mile before I’m likely to have much respect for them or their ideas.

    • T-Rex

      I agree. Once I find out someone is a religious leader/teacher of any kind, any respect I might have had for that person immediately disappears.

      • LRP

        How is this not a circumstantial ad hominem? Skepticism is different from dismissing an argument based on an individual’s circumstances, so perhaps this device is not being employed. But to automatically be inclined to doubt the validity of an argument based on the fact that they are a pastor seems fallacious.  

        • http://dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

          To automatically “be inclined” to doubt the validity of an argument based on the fact the presenter is a pastor is perfectly reasonable. To actually doubt it on that basis is also reasonable. However, to outright dismiss it for that reason is not reasonable. The pastor believes crazy things, but that doesn’t mean he might not present a reasonable enough argument that it demands a logical response.

      • Gage

        What? An atheist that’s closed minded? Never!

  • Nordog

    “At no point do any of the New Atheists say that we should disrespect religious believers.”

    That statement is simply false.  Any time spent in these parts would provide ample examples to demonstrate that it is false.

    • http://dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

      Depends on what is meant by “disrespect”. In its older sense, it simply means to lack respect for something, and there’s nothing at all wrong with atheists not respecting people with religious views. It’s hard to imagine how an atheist could respect somebody who can believe obviously absurd things. But there’s also a newer usage, which is to actively display contempt (to “diss” somebody). That’s very different, and that sort of treatment of theists is not widely advocated by activist atheists.

      • Lucilius

        I think there’s also a distinction to be made between starting a conversation with respect and continuing to offer it after listening to two hours of pompous drivel. Respect should be extended to all sides at first; but keeping it, for all sides, is a matter of demonstrating that it’s deserved.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Adam-Patrick/100000027906887 Adam Patrick

      Most of what I see of what believers call “disrespect” is actually a non believer asking why they believe it. 

      Also, why would anyone respect beliefs they believe are false? Do you respect flat earth believers or geocentrists?

      • Nordog

        CPeterson and Adam,

        so do you agree that the statement, “At no point do any of the New Atheists say that we should disrespect religious believers” is patently false?

        At no point?  Any of the New Atheists?

        • http://dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

          I don’t recognize the existence or concept of “New Atheists”.

          I absolutely disagree with the assertion that no atheist advocates disrespecting religious believers… by either definition of the word. I do think it is uncommon for atheists to actually show contempt (although they may feel it) for theists as individuals- which is why I said what I did: “that sort of treatment of theists is not widely advocated by activist atheists”.

          • Nordog

             Yeah, I don’t really get the “new atheist” handle.  I just take it to mean any living/contemporary atheist.

            So, basically we are in agreement here.

  • Kirby

    So exactly what has happened in the last 40 years that counters “If you can’t prove something, we don’t have to believe it”?  What is epistomologically naive about that? 

    Serious question, because I *didn’t* take Philosophy 101.

    • dauntless

      I don’t have an answer for you, but I would point out that scientists shy away from the terms “prove” and “proof”. Those words are only used colloquially and generally mean something like “we have evidence that supports this as the best explanation for this phenomenon.” The idea of formal proof is a mathematical concept and doesn’t apply to scientific disciplines.

    • HukdUnFonx

       I haven’t taken Philosophy 101 either, but I *did* read this guy’s book, “The Reason For God.”  To summarize, he’s kind of a presuppositionalist. 

      To quote the man himself: “The only way to doubt Christianity rightly and fairly is to discern the alternate belief under each of your doubts and then to ask yourself what reasons you have for believing it.  How do you know your belief is true?  It would be inconsistent to require more justification for the Christian belief than you do for your own, but that is frequently what happens.”

      • HukdUnFonx

         I guess he’s more shifting the burden of proof than taking a presuppositionalist stance, but either way, I think this is pretty well answered by Hume’s argument against miracles.

      • Kirby

        Thanks, that shows where he is going with this argument.  Clearly shifting the burden of proof.  “Are you any better?” stinks as an argument.

         ” It would be inconsistent to require more justification for the Christian belief than you do for your own…”

        Yes, it would.  However, that has no bearing whatsoever on whether Christianity is true, or has any evidence at all.

        • Charlie

          If neither can prove either, then maybe argument stinks all together.

      • Beauchamp

        He also gives reasons that he thinks Christianity IS better than the alternatives; my opinion of them means little.

  • Ebrown5

    There are 7 billion people on the planet, 6 billion of which hold some belief in a metaphysical reality. I do not think that religious people are stupid, or dumb. They are normal. They are doing what has been natural for humans to do for thousands of years. Will we progress beyond belief? I think yes; eventually. But I have learned that as an unbeliever, I am the anomaly. I see no benefit denigrating. The erosion of belief will occur much easier, I think, without forcing the defending party (believers) to erect defensive barriers.

  • Kaoru Negisa

    I suppose if truth is subjective, than Pastor Keller can jump off of a building and fly by his own power? This philosophical move that he talks about in which nothing is true is idiotic and a good way to justify his otherwise entirely unjustifiable beliefs. He also mischaracterizes New Atheists (surprise) by saying that they have no respect for believers. They have no respect for beliefs, and people are not composed entirely of their faith

  • Reginald Selkirk

    Scientism
    Pthththt. Proponents of religions wish for religion to be accepted as a valid  ‘way of knowing” without having to justify itself.

  • CanadianNihilist

    So that was two and a half minutes of nothing. Probably could have done something more productive with my time, like make a pot of tea.

  • http://www.facebook.com/mailmejose Jose Alvarado

    Anyone who attempts to make you feel bad about your criticism of them without really adressing the craziness or logical inconsistencies of their behavior or belief knows something very powerful about human society and an individuals psychology. They know that their beliefs and behaviors cannot survive in a climate where mainstream society shuns or laughs at what they do or say. So they rely on contrived indignation and claim to be personally attacked when it is the crazy ideas that make them look look crazy. I am all for mocking or laughing at peoples crazy ideas and then taking them seriously when they say their kid is ill, looking for real estate advice or just jawing casually about sports. The power of society’s influence on the individual is huge and they (religious) know it. 

  • http://religiouscomics.net/ Jeff P

    Kelly
    used the common ploy of criticizing a straw man atheist with his implications
    that atheists are out of tune with contemporary philosophy that asserts there
    may be limits to human knowledge and what we can know that we know. Kelly seems
    to imply that all atheists claim to know everything there is to know and that
    there is no mystery left for religion to answer. He is wrong about this.
    Atheists don’t claim to know everything. Atheists just admit that they don’t
    know some things and stop there. It is the theists that then attribute all that
    science has not yet answered to supernatural causes. Atheism is merely the
    discipline not to attribute to supernatural causes to those things not yet known.
    Atheist are just comfortable in saying “I don’t know”. Theists have
    to have an answer for everything so they invent a God to be the permanent void
    filler.

  • Justin Miyundees

    Respecting the right to religion and respecting religion are two different things.   Tim Keller needs to look hard again at who is being naive here.

    I completely respect your right to be as delusional as you care to be – that’s because I don’t have a better idea than the Constitution – but I don’t – I can’t – respect the ridiculous myths that you purport to be a part of reality.  The earth stopping it’s rotation for the sake of a battle as if God said “ooooh!  pause it, here comes the good part but I want to go make popcorn.”  Or the idea of vicarious redemption, or that virgins give birth or horses fly.  I’m sorry – I can’t believe something so unbelievable and I can’t respect someone who does.  I find it idiotic and to put it bluntly, I’m not that stupid.  

    Does “Dr.” Keller respect the absurdities proposed in ancient Roman religions or the posit that Xenu sent 747′s into volcanos to destroy evil spirits?  Ha!  If you do, you should know people are laughing down their sleeves at you.  

    But!  It’s your right.  Do as you like and have fun with your make believe parties and dressing up in funny hats but don’t expect me to fawn all over it and bow my head when you roll past with your megaphones and magic spells.  

    I will continue to hold my nose and fight your attempts to pass your delusions along to the next generation.  You have every right to your own beliefs, our children’s, however – not so much.  

  • Rwlawoffice

    I love this-  according to atheists its not disrespectful to a person to call them ignorant for the beliefs they hold because its the belief that you are mocking and ridiculing not the person.

     By this logic, expressing your lack of belief and mockery, the person should not be offended.   I will try to remember that when an atheist claims to be offended by a Christian expressing their beliefs and I will remind them that it is not the atheist that I am disrespecting,  just their beliefs. 

    According to this logic and Dawkins as expressed in his speech I could ask an atheist if they really believe that Jesus is not their savior or that God exists and when they say yes I really believe that I could call them stupid, ignorant , mock that belief and tell them they are going to hell.   And by doing all of this, pursuant to this line of thinking  I would not be considered being disrespectful.

    Just trying to make sure I understand the  atheist definition of disrespect.

    • http://dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

      It is neither disrespectful, ridiculing, nor offensive to tell an ignorant person they are ignorant. If a person takes it as such, it suggests that they aren’t very confident in their own beliefs.

      If you asked me your question about Jesus and then called me ignorant for disagreeing with you, it’s you I’d consider ignorant, and I’d take no personal offense at your suggestion. Your opinion would cause me to have little respect for you, and I can’t see how somebody I don’t respect can cause me offense.

      • Rwlawoffice

        So for you, respect for someone is dependent upon whether you agree with their beliefs.  And if you don’t agree with those beliefs then you can treat them with disrespect and it is not considered rude or offensive to do so.  By your logic then it isn’t even the beliefs that you are ridiculing, it is the person and in your book that is okay because you don’t agree with their beliefs. 

        So is the mere expression of those beliefs considered rude or offensive?

        • http://dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

          I don’t think I said anything that can remotely be interpreted to suggest my respect for somebody depends on agreeing with their beliefs.

          Respect is complex; certainly it is possible to respect some things about a person and not others. But I think most of us create a sort of “respect index” that we apply, and the result is that people lie on some sort of scale where we respect them a lot, or not at all, or usually, somewhere in between.

          I certainly don’t base respect very much on the degree to which I agree with somebody’s beliefs. But there are specific beliefs that can really put a dent in a respect index. Basically, when people choose to believe complete and obvious nonsense- for instance believing in gods- that really damages my respect for them. If they choose to be Christian- a really ethically foul belief system, in my opinion- there’s even more damage.

          Belief in gods is irrational and ignorant. Nobody can successfully defend that belief without abandoning rationality- a strategy that I cannot respect. As I said, calling out an ignorant person for their ignorance is not disrespect (indeed, it is actually a form of respect), and it isn’t ridicule. And if somebody finds that offensive, it’s their problem, not mine.

          • Rwlawoffice

            I made my comment in response to your statement- based upon your opinion (my Christian belief) you woulds have little respect for me.  Thus i concluded that your respect for people depends upon whether you agree with their beliefs.

            I disagree that a person believing in God does so by throwing rationality out the window.  Quite the contrary.  But what your post and others demonstrate is that those that think the only belief that can be considered rational and worthy of respect is yours, thus making everyone else ignorant and not worthy of respect.

            If you do not think it is rude or offensive but is really a sign of respect to call someone ignorant for holding a belief then we have a very different view of respect and indeed i would tell you that your view is based upon an elitism derived from your belief that your view is the only one that deserves respect.

            Let me give you an example- If your wife comes downstairs in an outfit and she believes she looks good in it and you tell her that she is ignorant for holding that belief, try that and tell me if she would not be offended.

            The impression I get from most who post here is that they want respect for their beliefs and they expect to receive it but they are not willing ti give it in return and come up with justifications to do so. 

            I do respect you and your opinions even though I disagree with them and at the same time I will defend the ones I hold.

            • http://dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

              There is no evidence of any gods. Nobody has ever come close to producing even a remotely credible argument for any gods existing, or demonstrated that anything we observe in the Universe requires a god, or is even better explained by one.

              Thousands of gods have been postulated, have gained believers, and then lost them over the millennia. All without evidence.

              Sorry, but believing in something like that could be taken as the very model of irrationality. It requires faith, and faith is diametric to rationality. Ignorance correlates with theism- there is overwhelming evidence that theism goes away with increased intelligence, it goes away with increased education, it goes away with increased knowledge. Cure ignorance, you largely cure theism.

              It is not intrinsically rude or offensive to tell somebody they are ignorant. I do it all the time with my students. Like anything, the choice of words used can be constructive or rude. I would not typically tell a theist they were ignorant using words likely to be taken as rude or offensive. I might say something like “I think your belief in a god stems from a lack of knowledge about the physical laws of the Universe, of the history of religious belief, and of a wider range of philosophical viewpoints. It’s likely that if those gaps in your education were filled, you’d no longer believe in your god”. I’m saying the person is ignorant, but I don’t think I’m being rude or offensive in doing so.

              • Rwlawoffice

                 You are entitled to your opinion that there is no evidence for God.  I have a different opinion. But unless you have definitive proof that there is no god, then you are doing so based upon a belief. Which by definition is faith.

                 

                • http://dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

                  The nice thing about objective evidence is that it’s just that… objective. Opinion isn’t really a factor.

                  You make one of the classic mistakes of theists in suggesting I need proof of an absence of gods to have no belief in them. I have no belief because there’s nothing to make me have any belief. I would only need proof of absence if I claimed there was no god, and I don’t make that claim.

                • Rwlawoffice

                  You are making the classic argument for an atheist when confronted with the notion that your assertion that there is no God is not a belief when it really is. 

                  Trying to say “I have no belief in god” is different then saying “I believe there is no God” is playing semantics and nothing more.

                  The Oxford Dictionary defines atheism as
                  disbelief in, or denial of, the existence of a god.

                  If you are an atheist then you are saying you do not believe in God which in and of itself a belief that God does not exist.  Unless of course you have not looked at the professed evidence for God and reached this conclusion, which would be irrational. But if you are claiming that you have come to the rational conclusion that there is nothing upon which to base a belief in God, then you have looked at the evidence that is out there and reached a conclusion, which is an opinion based upon belief.

                  Now if you are not an atheist and instead have made no opinion one way or the other, then I will stand corrected.

                • http://dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

                  If you don’t understand the distinction between not believing in any gods, and believing there are no gods, which have radically different meanings, then there’s really no common ground for further discussion. Whatever brand of logic you are following is nothing I’m familiar with.

                • Nordog

                  Perhaps a review of Aristotle’s  Square of Opposition would come in handy:  http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/5/51/Square_of_opposition%2C_set_diagrams.svg

              • Dapeeds

                “It requires faith, and faith is diametric to rationality.”

                Sir, the issue here is this: In order to make the statement above. It requires that you know everything about the universe and consciousness, which you don’t. Not only is this so, but the fallacy in your “faith is diametric to rationality” statement is that you seem to have plenty of faith in your belief that there is no God. Choosing to not  believe in God when you can’t disprove his existence is just as foolish as believing he exists.

              • NathanielS

                 It is rude to call someone ignorant, actually.

        • JohnnieCanuck

          I respect all the theists I know in real life. They think they are doing the best they can to be good human beings.

          When one or two of them have wanted to discuss religion, I point out why things they claim to be convincing evidence, aren’t to me.

          It’s when people like rw lawoffice twist words to disrespect someone that I find myself losing respect for them. That and their ability to ignore when their arguments have been refuted, time and time again.

          • Mama Jay

            I don’t know if rw lawoffice was trying to twist words or not. But he brings up a good question. 

            When does disrespect occur?

            You have to understand that many people who follow religion or believe in God, do so at a very deep inner level. It’s not as though Jesus is their favorite sports player with whom they are casually a fan of. It goes so much deeper than that. 

            The way that some atheists attack people for their beliefs quickly puts us in a defensive position and could easily be seen as disrespect. I respect my parents. There is no way, even if we had a major disagreement, that I would talk down to them the way Christians get talked down to by many atheists. Why not? Because I respect them too much. 

            My parents grew up in a different era. An era where the country isn’t as global as it is today. The only time my dad was out of the country was when he was shooting at people during a time of war. He says a lot of ridiculously, prejudiced things because of his ignorance. 

            Me, I’ve been lucky enough to travel and have been to a handful of different countries. That doesn’t mean that I disrespect him though when he says something that I see as being a result of ignorance. I’ll address it, but in a respectful way. 

            There’s no way would I say “Dad! You’re comments are not rational and are just so ignorant! But don’t be offended. I mean no disrespect by it.” Uhm….too late!

  • Mike Higginbottom

    The word ‘respect’ unfortunately seems to have taken on two meanings these days, a fact well exploited by the easily offended. I have absolutely zero respect for silly ideas like transubstantiation. I have zero respect for those aspects of a person’s personality that defend and tolerate such silliness; I have no respect for the person himself in that regard. I said in another comment though, that I can respect a transubstantiationist’s abilities as a father or surgeon or husband.

    The second meaning of the word respect is the slimy and nasty one. When a person demands respect in this sense what they’re really demanding is unbridled and unjustified politeness. I’ll quite happily grant them politeness, but only up to a point. I’ll politely tell them their ideas on theology are dumb, unsupported and logically inconsistent. However, they ONLY have the right to expect me not to call them a fucking idiot who should die a horrible death. Even then, often that level of politeness turns out to be inappropriate.

  • Udaybhanu Chitrakar

               Who will tell us how space and time become non-existent for light?
                                                                 I
    Summary: Light exists in space and time, and it is not forcibly or artificially deprived of space and time. Still space and time are non-existent for light. What is the cause of it?
    If there is an entity that exists neither in space nor in time, then space and time will be non-existent for that entity purely naturally. I am not saying that such an entity does really exist in nature, but only showing here how they can be non-existent for any entity by purely natural means. For no entity other than this can space and time be non-existent purely naturally. If an entity exists in space and time, and if we forcefully or by some other means deprive it of space and time, then of course space and time will be non-existent for it also. But we cannot say that they are non-existent purely naturally, because we have applied force or some other means here. So the conclusion is that for any entity existing in space and time, and not forcefully or otherwise deprived of them, space and time cannot be non-existent purely naturally.
    Now can we say about light that it exists neither in space nor in time? Can we say about it that it has been forcefully or otherwise deprived of space and time? Can we say about any entity of this universe that it exists neither in space nor in time, that it is beyond space and time? If there is such an entity, then what is that entity? If there is any one on this earth who has any idea about its existence, then let him/her come forward and enlighten us also about its existence. If we see that no one is coming forward, then we will have to conclude that no such entity really exists in this universe for which space and time will be non-existent purely naturally. But in spite of all these, what do we see actually? We see that space and time are non-existent for light. Yes, space and time are non-existent for light. As per the theory of relativity space and time become non-real or non-existent for light, because their values become zero. If there are two points A and B, and if the distance between A and B becomes zero, then we cannot say that there is any space in between A and B. Distance becoming zero, time will also become zero.
    A man may be poor; but with his sincere effort and hard labor one day he may become rich. Once he becomes rich, we will not say that he is still poor. Rather we will say that he is now rich. In a similar vein we can say that once space and time become non-existent for light, they are non-existent for it. Thus for light space and time do not exist, they are simply non-existent. Can one give any reason as to how space and time become non-existent for light when we know very well that they cannot be so purely naturally?
    I have shown that due to only two causes space and time can be non-existent for an entity:
    1) Cause A: If the entity is neither in space nor in time. This is the natural cause; and
    2) Cause B: If the entity is in space and time, and if it is forcibly or otherwise deprived of space and time. This is the unnatural cause.
    If space and time are non-existent for light neither due to cause A nor due to cause B, then what is its cause? Who will tell us?
    Here “purely naturally” will mean not due to any outside cause.
                                                                      II
    Scientist Victor J Stenger in his once bestseller book “God: The Failed Hypothesis” has written: “However, the God of the gaps argument by itself fails, at least as a scientific argument, unless the phenomenon in question is not only currently scientifically inexplicable but can be shown to forever defy natural description. God can only show up by proving to be necessary, with science equally proven to be incapable of providing a plausible account of the phenomenon based on natural or material processes alone”. (pp 13-14)
    We are really very grateful to Mr. Stenger for expressing his thoughts with such clarity, because it is extremely rare. This shows that not only he is a scientist, but also he is an able philosopher. Yes, if there is a phenomenon in this universe which forever defies natural description, and if science is also proven to be incapable of providing a plausible account of it based on material processes alone, then there, and there only, God can show up by proving to be necessary. 
    Now whatever may be the cause due to which space and time become non-existent for light, at least one thing is absolutely certain here. This cause can be at the very most either an unnatural or a supernatural one, but it can never be a natural one. Natural cause will be for that entity only that exists neither in space nor in time. As light is not such an entity, so in this case of light we find a phenomenon that, according to Victor J Stenger, will “forever defy natural description”.
    But even if we claim that this phenomenon forever defies natural description, scientists may still hope that it does not defy a material description. That is, scientists may still hope to provide a plausible account of it based on material processes alone. If science shows that there is really such a one, then it cannot be said that this phenomenon forever defies natural description even if we make any such claim. So in that case God cannot show up here by proving to be necessary. However if we find that no such description is possible, then that will show that in this case science is proven to be incapable of providing a plausible account of the phenomenon based on material processes alone, thus ultimately leaving only God to show up by proving to be necessary.   
    So, can there really be a material description of this mind-boggling case of light, where we find that even an infinite distance as well as a time-interval of an eternity becomes zero for it?  How do the scientists propose to explain these facts by material processes alone? Or, shall we have to go for God here, as someone else will perhaps go for dialing M for murder?
                                                                                                              
                                                                                                             
     

    • Stephen Halker

      Are you trying to say that light is in some way a characteristic of God? Are you oddly quoting 1st John 1:5?


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