What Do Atheists Believe?: Todd Stiefel’s Speech at the Reason Rally

This (high-quality!) video from the Reason Rally features philanthropist Todd Stiefel‘s speech:

My favorite part, talking about what atheists believe (starting at the 5:41 mark):

We believe there is no rational basis to discriminate on the basis of race or gender. We believe our sex live are our business, not the government’s. We believe life has the meaning we give it through increasing happiness and decreasing suffering in the world. We believe healthcare is our decision and our doctors’, not the bishops’. We value teaching how to think, not what to think. We value science, over the supernatural, as an explanation for the world around us. We believe, and value, forming opinions based on reason, not authority. We believe moral principles are tested based on their consequences, not on the dictates of ancient books and preachers. We believe we should change our beliefs based on evidence, not make them immune to questions. We believe marriage should be based on love, not hate. And most of all, we believe freedom is based on “We the People,” not “They the Clergy.”

Damn, there was a lot of rain that day…

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.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003293001320 Diana Winters

    Sounds good to me!

  • http://twitter.com/nicoleintrovert Nicole Introvert

    He made me get all choked up again.   We really have some amazing people in our movement. 

  • Drewly

    Looks like a nice incompatible mix of consequentialism, utilitarianism, and rationalism, all presented with a flag-waving dogmatic certainty.
    Somewhere Nietzsche is crying.

    • http://www.facebook.com/squeakyreaper Kenneth Armstrong Gould Jr.

       Errr, come again?

    • Neil

      To make your comment complete, Drewly,  let’s throw in a zen koan:  What is the sound of one idiot wanking?

    • Frank Mitchell

      Ex-ACTLY, Drewly!  Look what dogmatism, idealism, and morality by divine command have done for us so far!  Why change what works?

    • Renshia

       Yeah, but who gives a shit.
      In other places there are people rejoicing that the christian voice  is losing all validity and that a sane voice is rising above the bullshit rhetoric. I would bet that if there was a jesus christ and he was still alive, he would be thinking the same thing, that it’s about time.

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_BFTOLQGFGUIKDZUR3TNSZJRKRQ JimM

         ” Yeah, but who gives a shit.”

        Good point.  Atheism removes the meaning from life because it means that we are all nothing more than bags of chemicals that formed accidentally, have no purpose for existing, and have no future to look forward to.  How we live our lives here and now really makes no difference in the long run.

        Someone gave this example one time.  We all know we are going to die sometime. In light of eternity, our life is like our breath that we can see on a cold winters day.

        It could also be compared to the people on the Titanic who knew their life was going to end.  In the last half hour of there life, do you think it made any difference whether they went down hugging each other or mugging each other?  Not really in the long run.

        “Who gives a shit?”

        A very fitting atheist motto!

    • Patterrssonn

      Somewhere Drewly is crying.

  • ClayJames

    Actually, if you go by real numbers, there are probably more theists that belief in these things than atheists.

    • Renshia

       Just to bad they don’t come forward to promote them. If you don’t stand up for your beliefs, then what good are they.

      • Pseudonym

        On behalf of the liberal church, let me be the first to say: We do, at least to some respect. Unfortunately the fundamentalist loonies a) don’t listen to us either, and b) get all the airtime.

        Part of our problem is that if people give us money, we don’t found radio stations, cable TV shows or billboard campaigns to promote our message of pro-science, pro-reason, tolerance and respect. We consider that a waste of money, when it could be used to feed the hungry or house the homeless.

        If we used our money to bash other theists, people would, quite rightly, give us less money. Or they might get the impression that we were using their money to divert our own to inter-denominational squabbling or getting involved in partisan political issues.

        We know our history. We know what has typically happened when churches get into conflicts with other churches or meddle in politics. We never want that to happen again, and we believe that deep down, you don’t want that either.

        • Renshia

           That’s all well and good. However, when the blacks were being burned by KKK in Mississippi was the guy at the back of the crowd any less guilty than the ones at the front?

          When you feed someone and they end up in a fundamentalist church, does it bother you to know you were instrumental in getting him there?

          I understand that the funds may n0t be there, but where is the voice? where are the people that don’t support them? Your conspicuous by your absence. The fact you can choose to be associated, even at a distance, makes you guilty by association. 

          Sounds to me like the tired old battle cry, “there not real christians”.

          Just so you know, they’re giving you a bad name, you should do something about that.

          • Pseudonym

            That’s all well and good. However, when the blacks were being burned by
            KKK in Mississippi was the guy at the back of the crowd any less guilty
            than the ones at the front?

            I’m unsure what you’re trying to say by this analogy. I would personally place the liberal arm of theism in a completely different crowd. Liberal Christianity has, after all, always been at the forefront of the modern anti-slavery movement, and still is today.

            When you feed someone and they end up in a fundamentalist church, does it
            bother you to know you were instrumental in getting him there?

            Uhm… I may put my foot in it here, because it sounds like you’re referring to something specific that I’m clearly not aware of.

            I don’t believe in ideological purity and I think that all genuinely hungry people deserve to be feed regardless of what they personally believe, if that’s what you meant. But I honestly don’t know what you did mean.

            I understand that the funds may n0t be there, but where is the voice?
            where are the people that don’t support them? Your conspicuous by your
            absence.

            The voice is, unfortunately, drowned out. Atheists of all people should know how difficult it is to get the media to broadcast a rational, sensible opinion on any topic.

            We do speak about it. Quite a lot, in fact. But we don’t buy billboard space, radio stations or cable TV channels to tell people about it.

            And we sure as hell don’t debate them in public.

            Nobody would have heard of the Westboro Baptist Church if they didn’t invade the personal space of innocent bystanders. They thrive on the publicity. Do you honestly think that the best response is giving them more attention?

            The people who don’t support them are not supporting them. It really is as simple as that.

            I’m going to assume from your examples that you’re from the United States. I’m not.  I’m fully aware of the crap that the US government pulls in the world, invading countries at random, torturing people and so on. They are giving you a bad name. But I don’t hold it against you personally, even if you choose not to be out every other weekend protesting. As with those who went to the Jon Stewart rally, you have shit to do, and I admire that.

  • Renshia

    Just to bad they don’t come forward to promote them. If you don’t stand up for your beliefs, then what good are they.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Rocky-Morrison/100001552602936 Rocky Morrison

      Yeah, great speech…except those things that he says “we believe” are in no way implied by “atheism” per se.
       
      And atheist can be a humanist…a communist…a national socialist…an existentialist…a child moleter…or a liar.
       
      And none of those are inconsistent with being an atheist.

      • Renshia

         And none of those are inconsistent with just being a human, so what’s your point?

        A lot of what he said is very inconsistent with being religious though.

        Not so much the child molester and liar, in fact more so if you are religious. Have you seen Americas crime stats lately?

        • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_BFTOLQGFGUIKDZUR3TNSZJRKRQ JimM

           Renshia, I think his point is that an atheist has no foundation on which to approve of or condemn anything other than personal opinion, likes or dislikes, or commonly held societal values or laws – which are arbitrary and subjective.  But ultimately speaking, no behavior can truly be said to be inconsistent with atheism because it has no absolute standards.

          On the other hand, priests who molest child are breaking an absolute moral code. They know it. You know it. We all know that what they are doing is wrong in an absolute moral sense.  I doubt you could come up with any scenario in which you think it would be acceptable to molest a child.

          Christians are not perfect and neither are atheists. But when a Christian sins, he is acting inconsistently with his beliefs. Atheists too may violate their consciences as times, but the difference is that he knows deep down that it is “OK” to do that because his conscience is simply a reflection of society’s arbitrary moral code which can be freely changed or ignored at one’s own risk. In other words, it is not wrong in the moral sense to violate that arbitrary man made code which is nothing more than majority opinion or the opinion of those in charge.

          • Ndonnan

            youve made some very good points Jim,my favorite part was that he is married to a christian woman.It shows that while he might have differing views onsome major beliefs hes not an anti christian bigot

            • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_BFTOLQGFGUIKDZUR3TNSZJRKRQ JimM

               Good point.  With such differing opinions, it sounds like it could be a challenging marriage, but I’m glad they are still together!

            • Patterrssonn

               “hes not an anti christian bigot”
              I bet he’s totally against christian bigots. What’s great is that his wife isn’t a christian bigot, sometimes you forget that all christians aren’t ranting homophobes like you Ndonnan.

              • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_BFTOLQGFGUIKDZUR3TNSZJRKRQ JimM

                 I’ve always wondered what the definition of a homophobe is.

                Multiple choice:

                a) Someone who hates all homosexuals

                b) Someone who thinks that homosexuality is wrong but has homosexual friends and is not characterized by hate for homosexuals?

                c) both of the above

                By the way, you seem fairly strong here that bigotry is wrong – almost so strong that you think everyone should feel as you do about bigotry. 

                What basis do you have for taking such a strong moral stand as an atheist who recognizes that there are no such things as moral absolutes?

                Knowing that, why should I change my opinion about morality to match your opinion about morality?

                Why is your opinion about morality better than mine?  Just curious.

              • Ndonnan

                Blah blah, im against christian bigots aswell as anti christian bigots like you Patto

          • Onamission5

            “Atheists too may violate their consciences as times, but the difference is that he knows deep down that it is “OK” to do that because his conscience is simply a reflection of society’s arbitrary moral code which can be freely changed or ignored at one’s own risk.”

            No part of what you said here is true. 

            • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_BFTOLQGFGUIKDZUR3TNSZJRKRQ JimM

              So atheists never violate their consciences? 

              Or, if they do, you think they always feel guilty about it?  If so, that too is evidence for absolute morality. It simply shows that God’s laws are indeed written on our hearts as the Bible says. Otherwise we wouldn’t feel so strongly that some things are genuinely right and others are genuinely wrong.

              But isn’t it true that real right and wrong do not exist in atheism?

              If so, isn’t it true then that any moral codes that exist are arbitrary subjective man made codes and really hold little authority outside of the law?

              From an atheist’s point of view, why is following one’s own conscience  so important if our ideas of right and wrong are simply arbitrary social constructs that aren’t real?  Some may choose to obey their conscience and others to disobey.  Outside of a personal opinion that picks one over the other, what reason is there to obey your conscience?

              This is a well known philosophical problem of atheism.

              “There are no gods, no
              purposeful forces of any kind. No life after death. When I die, I am absolutely
              certain that I am going to be completely dead. That’s just all. That’s gonna be
              the end of me. There is no ultimate foundation for ethics, no ultimate meaning
              in life, and no free will for humans, either.”
              William B. Provine, Professor
              of Biological Sciences, Cornell
              University

              Maybe it is not a conscious thought that violating your conscience is OK, but atheists believe there are no moral absolutes so how can they believe that violating their evolved conscience is wrong?

          • Patterrssonn

            ” which are arbitrary and subjective. ” All values are subjective as they originate within us, the important thing is that we don’t base them on ideology as happens with religion, because then they truly are arbitrary.

            As an example a recent survey indicated that Americans would trust a child rapist before an atheist. How much more perverted a moral judgement can you get.

            Through religion any behavior can be justified, murder, terrorism, infanticide, war, slavery, bigotry. The atheist has no such excuse. For the atheist morality must be justified by human experience, by concepts of fairness and justice, by our innate sense of responsibility for our own behavior.

            Of course religion isn’t the only type of ideology that can pervert morality but it is the most common, and gives the strongest excuse.

            • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_BFTOLQGFGUIKDZUR3TNSZJRKRQ JimM

               Patterrssonn says:
              “As an example a recent survey indicated that Americans would trust a child
              rapist before an atheist. How much more perverted a moral judgement can you
              get.”

                      I don’t like those kind of questions. They just create stereotypes. There is not enough information to be able to answer the question.  Really it depends on the character of the individuals involved regardless of whether they are atheists or child rapists. 

              P: “Through religion any behavior can be justified, murder, terrorism,
              infanticide, war, slavery, bigotry. The atheist has no such excuse. For the
              atheist morality must be justified by human experience, by concepts of fairness
              and justice, by our innate sense of responsibility for our own behavior.”

                      Patterrssonn, you have a point here. Islam seems to justify murders of infidels and
              terrorism. Christianity does not justify any of these actions though. If Christians
              engages in them, they are going against the clear teaching of Jesus.

                      But listen, whether you agree with the standards these people have chosen is irrelevant.

                   Since
              there are no moral absolutes, like you said, we are all free to choose our own
              standards.

                   So what you are saying is that you don’t like the arbitrary
              standards that religious people choose.

                    Fine. 
              But in your worldview, it is all relative and subjective. Everyone has
              the right to set their own standards, right?  If you have that right, then we do too.  

                   But again you are talking here as if there are
              moral absolutes here and that everyone should see things as you do.  You have picked some nice biblical values
              (fairness, justice personal responsibility) to support here, but do you really expect everyone to see morality as you do?

                    So
              basically what the atheist is saying is that we don’t like the standards that
              Christians have chosen. We like our standards and we want you to accept our
              standards.

              See, this is the problem we have if morality is all relative.

              Whose
              standards do we adopt?

              How do we decide?

              Is that decision binding on all people?

              If I don’t agree, do I still have to follow those standards?

                   Plus how can you really hold a person accountable for their actions when
              according to the atheist’s own worldview, we are nothing more than a bag of
              chemicals?

                   There is no self.  Self
              consciousness is just a figment of our imagination as is free will according to evolutionary science. If we are
              slaves to the chemical processes in our brains that make us think and act like
              we do, how can we really hold someone accountable for their actions? I’ve never
              figured that one out.

              P: “Of course religion isn’t the only type of ideology that can pervert morality
              but it is the most common, and gives the strongest excuse.”

                   See, you can’t help yourself. Here you are contradicting yourself again. You are criticizing someone
              else’s moral standards again and acting as if yours are superior to theirs.

              You claim
              that religion perverts morality?

              What you really meant to say is that it perverts you own personal view of
              morality, right? 

              So what! 

                    We are free to set our own standards, right?
              So please be consistent
              with your words. Stop talking as if some kind of objective moral standard
              exists.  It doesn’t in your worldview.

                   The only thing that exists are people’s opinions about what is right and
              wrong.

                    Withone side of your mouth you talk as if there is a proper standard
              while denying it out of the other side of your mouth.  You can’t help yourself. And this shows that atheism contradicts itself.  It just doesn’t work in reality.

              • Ndonnan

                Damit Jim your good,their gonna hate you,ha

                • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_BFTOLQGFGUIKDZUR3TNSZJRKRQ JimM

                  Actually, so far I felt this board is rather friendly, like the title above suggests.  Pleasantly surprised by that.  Often times they claim they don’t need God to be moral and then they turn right around and spit out vitriol and hatred and prove themselves wrong, but I haven’t sensed too much hatred here yet.  

                  I will argue with them, but Jesus told us to love all men so I try not to be mean.

            • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_BFTOLQGFGUIKDZUR3TNSZJRKRQ JimM

               Patterrssonn says:
              “As far as priests knowing that molesting children is wrong, in the arbitrary
              moral code of Catholicism any sex the priest has is wrong. The ‘sin’ isn’t sex
              with a child the sin is having sex period. For a priest pedophilia is no more
              sinful than masturbation.”

              I’m not so sure it wouldn’t be both things. I seriously doubt that the Catholic Church teaches this. Both may be sins, but one is certainly far worse than the other so I think you are wrong here.

              P: ” That sex with a child is immoral is something that we
              have decided is immoral there is nothing absolute about it at all. We have
              decided ourselves that it is wrong based on our understanding of the harm
              caused. That is why it is immoral, I don’t think the immorality of raping
              children is even mentioned in the bible.”

                    See, here we go. Now you are sounding like an advocate for the Man Love Boy
              Association. Now we see the problems that your philosophy of morality can lead
              to. You don’t think that having sex with children is inherently wrong. Amazing!

              So if you lived in a country where there were no laws against having sex with minors, you would have no problem with it?

              Perhaps you would change your mind if it were your own kid who was being abused?

              Just curious, but can you think of a situation when an adult abusing one of
              your children would not be wrong? 
              I seriously doubt it.

              So you
              claim that absolute moral standards do not exist, and yet you are forced by
              your God given conscience to live as if they do. 

              Deep down atheists too know that certain things are wrong no matter what.  They are wrong not simply because society thinks they are wrong or have made laws against the actions, but plain old wrong.  You can claim that those thoughts are simply the result of evolution, but that is just your opinion.  Every human knows that evil exists in reality, not just in our imagination.  That is one big difference between humans and all other living creatures.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_BFTOLQGFGUIKDZUR3TNSZJRKRQ JimM

    Just curious, but it sounds like he thinks his opinion, beliefs, and values are the right ones. It sounds like he wants everyone else to believe as he does, espouse the same values he does, and share the same opinions he does.  It almost sounds like he believes in right and wrong – you know the kind of moral absolutes that he says do not exist.

    Well, if moral absolutes do not exist, then it’s ok to hold a different view on these things than him, right?  And it would be a bit arrogant of him to say that his opinions are better than his neighbor’s opinion, in light of the fact that there can be no “oughts” in atheism, right?

    Oh, I noticed he said there is no rational basis to discriminate on the basis of race or gender, but he didn’t mention religion or worldview there.  He obviously feels that atheists are discriminated against because of their beliefs/worldview.  I would hope that he would also want to protect the rights of those who do have religious beliefs or hold to a different worldview than he does as well.

    • Patterrssonn

      The fact that moral absolutes don’t exist doesn’t mean we can’t have morals. It simply means that we can decide what those morals are, morals that benefit all of us not just those who belong to a specific gender, sexuality or social class.

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_BFTOLQGFGUIKDZUR3TNSZJRKRQ JimM

         True. You can decide what they are and that’s my point. They are not binding. They have not authority. They are arbitrary and if someone else comes along and doesn’t like the ones you have decided on, there is no reason they have to adopt yours. Everyone can do what is right in his own eyes. We need to learn from history. That experiment was already tried and it failed – read the book of Judges.

        Sounds great until you realize that you have to find a way to figure out what morals are beneficial. How do we decide this? Who decides? If you or I don’t like the morals they decided, do we still have to abide by them if it is not a matter of breaking the law?

        This is where I would rather trust the Creator who knows us, loves us, and gives us direction to protect us and bless us than the ever changing ideas of men who are biased by their own desires. Everyone keeps bringing up gender here. I guess the insinuation is that homosexuality should be freely accepted by society. How far do we go there? How about the values of the Man Boy Love Association that wants sex with kids to be legalized? How about the polygamists who want polygamy legalized? It seems to me that just because we have certain desires does not mean that those actions are automatically beneficial to us and/or society and should be considered morally right.

        Sexuality is a constant theme here.  Let’s see how your “We get to make our own morals” idea really works.  Here is  a question.  Let’s take the issue of adultery. This isn’t even against the law, but how do atheists stand on the issue of adultery?  How many atheists on this board think it is right?  How many think it is wrong? Why or why not? Or perhaps you have to qualify your answer with certain conditions like “It is right when…” or “It is wrong when…”  What do you think Patterrssonn?

        • snookums

          ok, i’ll bite…
          it does not need authority, it needs thought and self discipline. do unto others as you would want to be done by. what action can i take to serve the wellbeing of everyone.
          what would i care what two (or more more) consenting adults do in private.
          the LAW gives two people special privileges when they get a marriage certificate. the limit to two is probably based on tradition, and seems to work for the majority. but i do not mind if someone would like to have more consenting adult partners if there is no harm to others.
          personally i think we are culturally in pairs, this is so strong that i would rather not share my wife, so i have to assume she would not like to share me too. presto ! a monogamy.

          • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_BFTOLQGFGUIKDZUR3TNSZJRKRQ JimM

             Snookums, thanks for the interaction.

            OK, so your arbitrary standard is “no harm to others.” 

            How do you determine that?  And what if you make a mistake and end up harming someone? 

            You can apologize, but nothing is right or wrong in atheism.  The only thing atheism can tell us is that there is no right or wrong.

            So for you, you use the standard of no harm to others or the biblical standard of do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

            But why is your standard any better than Hitler’s was? 

            What if two people have differing opinions of what is harmful?

            Monogamy by chance is nice, but that is simply your choice.  So for someone else who wants to make a different choice, what can you say to them if they have a worldview that tells them there is no such thing as absolute morals meaning that everything is relative?

            You can give them your opinion that it is not good to hurt one’s spouse, but you can’t tell him it is wrong in the absolute sense – just in your own personal arbitrary opinion.

            I noticed that you think sex is fine between two consenting adults.  Why limit it to adults?  Why not consenting kids?  Is this just your own personal opinion or do you think it is an absolute standard that all people should follow?

            I bet you would say that it is NEVER right for an adult to sexually abuse a child, right?  You would feel that pretty strongly, right? 

            In fact, if you were honest, you would have to say you view that as an absolute moral standard that all people everywhere should follow.

            But this is inconsistent with atheism. An atheist, to be consistent, has to say that it is only his personal view that this is wrong.   And that is the problem with no moral standards.

            • Snookums

              No harm to others and if possible maximize happiness.

              When I make a mistake I have to make amends with the people wronged.

              Atheism only indicates that I do not accept the hypothesis that gods exists because I am not convinced by the arguments/evidence. It does not say anything about morality; I think Humanism describes my position on morality.

              ‘The golden rule’ is not a biblical standard, it is way older than that particular book.

              I do not think Hitler’s aim was to minimize harm, he was doing his interpretation of Gods work as he clearly stated in ´Mein Kampf´.

              If two people have two different opinions on the definition of harm they probably need to work it out. You might be interested in ´The Moral Landscape´ by Sam Harris  ( see YouTube sTKf5cCm-9g )

              You seem to be afraid of relative morals, where do you get your absolute morals from ? As you mention the bible I assume you think that is absolute, is (Joshua
              6:21) describing minimal harm ?

              Kids do not have the brainpower and experience to be called consenting until they do, this is loosely age related, I see no harm in two pubesent kids having a go, if they do it safely. An adult will have authority that can be abused, without the child knowing it due to the aforementioned lack of experience.

              You also might be interested in the superiority of secular morality ( Youtube DEP4OIj2NA0 )

              • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_BFTOLQGFGUIKDZUR3TNSZJRKRQ JimM

                Sn: “No harm to others
                and if possible maximize happiness.”

                 Is
                this the arbitrary standard that Matt has decided that all atheists should
                follow? 

                I agree the “no harm to others” is a good principle. This is very
                biblical.  Jesus taught us to love others as we love ourselves. He taught
                the Golden Rule – to treat others as we would like to be treated.

                The
                difference is that an atheist is free to choose whether he wants to follow that
                standard or not. For
                example, Jeffrey Dahmer, Hitler, Mussolini, and Stalin chose a moral code in
                which murder was perfectly acceptable and the atheist can not say that what
                they did was wrong. 

                Why? There is no
                such thing as an absolute standard of good/evil be which to judge those actions.  Those actions might seem upsetting to us, but
                how could we argue that it is wrong for others to murder if morality is
                determined by our “own sense” and “no ultimate foundation for ethics” exists? 

                Now the Christian
                on the other hand, is bound to follow that standard. If he does not, he knows
                that He has broken God’s standards and done wrong. We have a clear reason to
                say that what he did was wrong, but an atheist does not. Even though he knows
                that those actions were truly wrong in an absolute sense, he must deny that
                this is so because of his atheistic beliefs.

                Sn:”When I make a mistake
                I have to make amends with the people wronged.”

                Sure, but if you are
                never caught, you are off free, right? So if atheists are right, there is no justice
                for anyone beyond the grave. 
                That means that you can do
                something and never be held responsible for it – as long as you are not caught.

                Don’t get me wrong. That
                fact doesn’t mean a person would automatically do wrong, but, it would make it
                more likely I think.

                Proof?  Look at the
                keys in your pocket and the police station in your neighborhood. We all know
                speeding is against the law. It could do great harm to someone, but many people
                still speed.  Why? They choose their needs over the law and the safety of others.
                We all know stealing is wrong; it can hurt people physically
                and/or emotionally, but many people still steal and we need keys to protect our
                things. 
                So, just having a law and knowing that it is illegal or might
                possibly hurt someone is not enough to keep people from doing these things, is
                it?

                The Bible says “Transgression speaks
                to the wicked
deep in his heart; there is no fear of
                God
before his eyes. For he flatters himself in his own eyes
that his iniquity cannot be found out and hated.”

                If you guys think
                that secular morality is superior to the Bible, if you really think that having a deep reverence
                for a holy God to whom we are accountable will not cause people to think twice
                before they sin, then prove it and throw away your keys and see how it works
                for you.

                Let’s just take a
                for instance.  Let’s say that you do an experiment.  Have people find
                a bag of money in a way that they could easily keep it without anyone knowing
                and see how many would return it Then in a similar experiment, let them
                find a bag of money but this time, make sure they know that others saw them
                find the money. So this time, the person knows he will be held responsible if
                he chooses to keep the money. I’m darn sure the number of people that keep the money in
                the first scenario would be higher than the number that keep it in the second
                scenario.  Why?  In one scenario, they know that even though it is
                wrong to keep the money, they can get away with it and not be held responsible.
                In the second situation, they know they will be held responsible for it. 
                It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure this out.

                And the same goes for people who know that
                they will one day give an account to a holy God who will judge sin.

                Don’t give me the foolish
                line that Christians need the threat of punishment to obey God, but atheists do
                it fine without God. Christians do not obey God mainly out of fear. Mainly, a
                Christian obeys because He loves God and wants to please Him. Jesus said “If
                you love me, you will obey my commands.” Love is our motivation for obedience –
                not the threat of punishment or the desire to earn God’s acceptance.

                 As a general rule,
                if a person believes they will be held responsible by the Creator for their
                actions, I think it will affect how they live their life.  I think the
                chances are quite high that they will make ethical decisions more often than
                someone who does not think that they are responsible to anyone for their
                decisions. 

                 

                Sn: “Atheism only
                indicates that I do not accept the hypothesis that gods exists because I am not
                convinced by the arguments/evidence. It does not say anything about morality; I
                think Humanism describes my position on morality.”

                Sorry. Atheism certainly does
                say something about morality.
                It means by default that there is no such thing
                as an absolute standard by which you can judge your actions.
                It means there
                is nothing that can truly be called evil, wrong, or bad in an absolute sense of
                the word.
                It means that everything is morally subjective and relative.
                make their wicked crimes possible.

  • Gunstargreen

    Incredible. This is the way you handle this kind of intolerance.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_BFTOLQGFGUIKDZUR3TNSZJRKRQ JimM

    Hmm.  A “REASON” Rally.  That is kind of an oxymoron is it not?

    How is it that reasoning is possible for atheists who believe that their brains are nothing more than evolved monkey brains?  What is the rationale for the existence of the laws of logic they use to reason with?  

    Laws of logic cannot be deduced from atheism because we are nothing more than evolved mammals, bags of chemicals that are directed by an evolved monkey brain that itself is a slave to the chemical processes that take place in that monkey brain.  What rationale does that provide for trusting what our brains tell us?  Why should be believe that we can accurately interpret our environment?  Would you trust an evolved monkey brain?

    Besides, laws of logic are immaterial things so they cannot exist in the materialistic worldview.    (I guess you could throw information in there too as another example of something immaterial that actually exists.)

    As believers in the Creator, who is a God  of order and a God of truth who cannot deny Himself, Christians have a logical reason to deduce the laws of logic. They flow naturally from these tenets of our worldview, from who God is, but there is no way to get them from atheism. 

    Atheists accept the laws of logic because they work. I understand that, but the point is, they cannot justify their existence from their worldview.  They have to borrow from Christianity to be able to reason in the first place.  And then they turn right around and deny the whole foundation for reason when they deny God’s existence.

    Because, if the universe really were just some fortuitous random cosmic accident as atheists are forced to believe, is there any reason to think that it should follow certain laws?  Is there any rationale for thinking that we could accurately perceive and interpret what we see?  An atheist or a naturalist really has no way to explain why these laws exist or how logic can exist if absolute truth does not.  They have no idea where these laws came from or why they persist unchanged year in and year out. They have no idea why so many of the natural laws that have been identified in nature just happen to be able to be expressed in beautiful mathematical equations.  Basically they just have to take a huge leap of blind faith and say “Well, I guess that’s just how it happened. Aren’t we lucky!”  Others then posit the existence of an unlimited number of universes(for which they have no evidence for) simply so they can feel justified in denying this evidence.

    And they call this reason!

    I call it faith – blind faith!

    The multiverse story is just that – an ad hoc story invented to save face.  They realize that without it, their faith would seem too unreasonable!

    • Dietrich

      I’m not sure this is worth responding to, but I’ll point out a few things.

      First off, I don’t see where name Reason Rally is an oxymoron.  My guess is that you’re suggesting that a “reasoning atheist” is an oxymoron.  Which is amusing, since most atheists come to that position as a result of reasoning (rather than swallowing the dogma of religion).

      There are plenty of philosophers who are non-believers.  They know a little something about logic; perhaps your god isn’t neccessary for that after all?  You write that atheists have to borrow from Christianity to be able to reason.  It seems that the Greeks were doing a pretty good job of reasoning long before the stories of Jesus were written down.

      Elsewhere you assert that morality comes from your god.  If so, he did a piss poor job of communicating that morality, given that much of what’s in the bible is rejected by today’s Christians.  Your god isn’t even moral enough to have “thou shalt not own other people” included in the bible.

      Atheists accept the laws of the universe and our observations because that has proven to be successful.  If those observations are uncomfortable, so be it.  The wishful thinking of religious belief would have never gotten us to where we are today.  Speaking of which, the idea of a multiverse is not just some story invented to make atheists feel better; it is a consequence of certain theories about the beginnings of our universe which are consistent with observations that have been made.  As far as I know, the notion is pretty speculative at this point, so I don’t think anybody is hanging their hat on it just yet.

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_BFTOLQGFGUIKDZUR3TNSZJRKRQ JimM

        Dietrich said: “First
        off, I don’t see where name Reason Rally is an oxymoron.  My guess is that
        you’re suggesting that a “reasoning atheist” is an oxymoron.
         Which is amusing, since most atheists come to that position as a result
        of reasoning (rather than swallowing the dogma of religion).”

        You
        misunderstand me. I am not saying that atheists cannot or do not reason. Like
        you said, some are very adept at using reason.(although sometimes I wonder when
        it comes to the miracles they so easily swallow when it comes to evolution, but
        that’s a topic for another day)  Sure,
        they use reason, but they have to borrow from the Christian worldview to do so.
        Anyone who uses reason does this whether they recognize it or not.

        D: “There
        are plenty of philosophers who are non-believers.  They know a little
        something about logic; perhaps your god isn’t neccessary for that after all?
         You write that atheists have to borrow from Christianity to be able to
        reason.  It seems that the Greeks were doing a pretty good job of
        reasoning long before the stories of Jesus were written down.”

        Dietrich, you
        don’t need the stories of Jesus to reason. The laws of logic exist because God
        is a God of truth and order.  The laws of
        logic are a logical deduction from the Christian worldview. But just as
        atheists use reason without being able to justify the laws of logic so can the
        Greeks or anyone else for that matter, so I don’t understand your point.

        D: “Elsewhere
        you assert that morality comes from your god.  If so, he did a piss poor
        job of communicating that morality, given that much of what’s in the bible is
        rejected by today’s Christians.  Your god isn’t even moral enough to have
        “thou shalt not own other people” included in the bible.”

        He communicated it just fine. He is not responsible for how you respond to His moral laws. We are the ones responsible for that. Jesus
        summarized all the OT laws with two commandments. “You shall love the Lord your
        God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This
        is the great and first commandment.  And a second is like it:
        You shall love your neighbor as yourself.  On these two commandments depend all the Law
        and the Prophets.”  A piss poor job?  That covers it pretty well I would say.  Besides, to expect every
        single sin to be specifically mentioned in the Bible is a bit unreasonable. This principle of loving others as yourself and treating others as you would have them treat you seems quite adequate to me.

        The foundational truths / seeds to destroy
        slavery are found in both the OT and the NT. 
        We are all created by God and as such all human life is equal and worthy
        of respect. We need to treat each other as we would have them treat us. True.
        Some Christians had slaves. Some of them bought the evolutionary lie that
        blacks were less human than others and they treated them that way. And others just
        found a way to justify their sin, but the point is, it is clearly wrong.  However, an atheist cannot say that anything is wrong in an absolute sense.

        D: “Atheists
        accept the laws of the universe and our observations because that has proven to
        be successful.  If those observations are uncomfortable, so be it.
         The wishful thinking of religious belief would have never gotten us to
        where we are today.  Speaking of which, the idea of a multiverse is not
        just some story invented to make atheists feel better; it is a consequence of
        certain theories about the beginnings of our universe which are consistent with
        observations that have been made.  As far as I know, the notion is pretty
        speculative at this point, so I don’t think anybody is hanging their hat on it
        just yet.”

        Exactly, speculative and probably untestable.  Steven Weinberg, when discussing the fact
        that the universe appears fine-tuned for our existence, told Richard Dawkins:
        ‘If you discovered a really impressive fine-tuning … I think you’d really be left
        with only two explanations: a benevolent designer or a multiverse.’” Amanda Gefter, writing about that exchange on New Science then wrote this:

        “Weinberg went on to clarify that invoking a benevolent designer does not
        count as a genuine explanation, but I was intrigued by his either/or scenario. Is
        that really our only choice? Supernatural creator or parallel worlds?”
         
        So my question is this: Why doesn’t it count as a genuine explanation?
        I mean, come on; if the
        Ockham’s Razor
        principle is followed, then the most straightforward explanation would be that there
        had to be a designer. Weinberg understood this, but He then went on to rule out a designer as an explanation because of philosophical reasons.   The evidence points to it, but an atheist’s
        worldview prevents that conclusion. 
        Cosmologist Bernard Carr said: ‘If you don’t want God, you’d better have
        a multiverse.’ The main reason the multiverse has caught on is simply
        philosophical. God is not a permissible explanation. I would love to know what
        “evidence” there is for a multiverse. The design is unmistakable, but a
        designer is philosophically unacceptable, so we go way out on the limb and try
        and find a way to explain the design from purely natural means.  It is a just so story that hardly even
        qualifies as a hypothesis. It does not deserve to be called a theory. That is
        an abuse of the word and is used to try and give it a semblance of credibility
        when at this point it is all speculative. 
        For that very reason, it does not yet qualify as science.

        • Dietrich

          Wow.  Evolution involves miracles, and Occam’s Razor implies god.  If that’s the kind of reasoning that your Christian worldview provides, you can have it.


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