Why Do Atheists Always Go After Ken Ham?

Fred Clark, a Christian who’s not a Young Earth Creationist, is getting frustrated by having to deal with atheists who love quoting the Creation Museum’s Ken Ham as someone who, for all his faults, at least takes the Bible literally (as it should be, the atheists say). Fred feels like atheists and progressive Christians ought to be on the same side on that issue (“Creationism makes no sense!”). Instead, the atheists side with the Creationists (“The Bible should be taken literally!”)…

Fred offers a hypothetical conversation between himself, a YEC, and an Internet Atheist:

YEC: The Bible clearly says that God created the universe in six days, 6,000 years ago.

ME: No, actually, it doesn’t. [Insert everything I've ever written or said about the Bible for the past 25 years.]

INTERNET ATHEIST: Does too.

ME: Wait … what are you doing here? And why on earth are you siding with him?

IA: I’ve apparently decided he’s the most knowledgeable, reliable and trustworthy interpreter of Christian orthodoxy and biblical scholarship.

ME: Him? He’s really not.

IA: I’ve read Answers in Genesis. I know all I need to know about what you Christians believe. And Ken Ham warned me against your seminary trickery …

My issue with this is not that Fred’s wrong on what Internet Atheists often say — but on our motivations for it. It’s not that we think Ken Ham knows something other people don’t. That guy is ignorant all-around, including on the subject of Christianity. Hell, he could rip out every page in the Bible after the Book of Genesis and nothing would change for him.

My concern with Ham is that he represents a belief that has taken hold of the majority of Americans.

Nearly half of all Americans (46%) accept Young Earth Creationism and that’s terrifying:

We go after Ham because, whether it’s right to take the Bible literally or not, more than 100,000,000 Americans already buy into that lie and he’s one of the ringleaders.

It’s the same reason atheists love to quote horrible Bible verses. It’s not because we think people should take random lines (in and out of context) from the Bible at face value; it’s because so many people already do.

This is also why I don’t find it useful to pay attention to what “sophisticated theologians” have to say. Most Christians aren’t paying attention to them, either, so why bother debating a version of Christianity so few people even know about?

If we’re still fighting Creationism battles in public schools, then we need to fight against that. When theistic evolution becomes a big problem, we’ll change our focus.

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://dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

    Hey… I’m an atheist, and I certainly don’t want to be lumped into association with anybody  who claims Christians should take the Bible literally. Quite the opposite, I argue that there’s absolutely nothing fundamental to Christianity that requires the Bible be interpreted in a literal fashion.

    While I think Christianity is arguably the most ill-conceived religion ever created, I nevertheless give far more respect to Christians who don’t take the Bible as literal truth than I do to actual Bible literalists like Ham, whom I consider the intellectual peers of pickled vegetables.

    • LesterBallard

      Jesus fucking christ. So the people who wrote the Bible didn’t really mean it.

      • http://dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

        For the most part, the people who wrote the Bible didn’t know any better. Their philosophical views are arguable; their views of nature are not.

      • Patterrssonn

        Did they even know they were writing the bible? I bet quite a few of them would be pretty miffed at some of the crap their stories got lumped in with.

        • LesterBallard

          No, they didn’t know they were writing the “Bible”. And please, what parts are crap and what parts are not crap?

          • http://dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

            It’s pretty much all crap. And there’s nothing wrong with a Christian recognizing that and disregarding the stuff that’s obviously factually wrong. That doesn’t make them less of a Christian, it just shows they’re not totally irrational.

            • Reginald Selkirk

               Which leads immediately to the charges against liberal Christians: cherry-picking, which is different from the charges against more thorough literalists like Ham. Fred Clark is playing with a straw man.

              • http://dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

                There is such a thing as rational selection, which is different from cherry picking.

                A Christian can recognize that much of the content of the Bible consists of allegory or simple tales of primitive people, while at the same time taking the messages of Jesus (which cannot be argued factually) as what defines their beliefs.

                • Lagerbaer

                   So why is the creation account in Genesis an allegory, but not Jesus’ resurrection?

                • http://dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

                  The creation account is factually wrong. A rational person can’t believe it because it is contradicted by evidence. The resurrection is not contradicted by evidence, so while it’s a pretty crazy thing to believe, it’s in an altogether different class than the first.

                • ryan

                  Evidence against the resurrection sits in graveyards throughout the world. In many many “replicated experiments” a body coming back to life after three days has yet to be documented beyond some text written centuries later. 

                • http://dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

                  That is not evidence. It is a lack of evidence, and that puts it in a very different category than something like Adam and Eve, a story which is contradicted by actual evidence.

                  I can’t demonstrate in a convincing way that somebody 2000 years ago didn’t rise from the dead, or appear to do so. There are no records. But I can demonstrate that there could not reasonably have been an Adam and Eve as the first humans.

                • Kodie

                  Seriously? Resurrection to another plane of existence seems plausible enough to you that you can’t deny it?                             

                • Bell3000

                  It is convincing enough for me that no historian of the time wrote about such an ‘amazing’ thing as graves opening up and dead people walked the streets and conversed with family and friends. Only in the bible.

                • Kodie

                  “Hey, I’m not a total moron, leave me alone!” No, liberal Christians create what they want to be true. They are the very demonstration of people creating supernatural beliefs from practically nothing, it just looks like they get some from the bible and some from reality, but they are creating their new myths instead of discovering that none of it is true or even possible. Strange how they can rationally dismiss some of it but not all of it, and it’s still supposed to be what a “true” Christian is, you know, instead of some new unrelated bullshit.

                • Kodie

                  I actually give more credit to scientology! At least it’s completely made up and completely original. None of this weak shit excuse-making liberal Christians who believe some of it.

                • Coyotenose

                  Considering that Jesus’s message includes “Abandon your family if they don’t do as I say,” “Do as I say or burn eternally for no good reason,” and “I am the literal Son of God”… yes, they are cherry picking.

                • http://dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

                  It’s pretty easy to read those passages in a different light. Plenty of Christians practice cherry picking, no doubt about it, but there is a rational way to take philosophy from scripture while recognizing most of it as non-literal which is not as simplistic as “cherry picking”.

                • Pseudonym

                  The gospels also say “the Sun came up”, which clearly contradicts everything we know about astronomy.

                • Reginald Selkirk

                   If the garden of Eden/talking snake story is an allegory, then:

                  1) Is Jesus’ death and resurrection also allegory?
                  or
                  2) Did Jesus H. Christ, God and son of God, die for an allegory?

                  What criteria are applied to decide which parts are allegory and which are for realsies? You’re just not going to get around the cherry-picking charge.

                • http://dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

                  The Jesus resurrection story is just a claim by men. It should strike any reasonable person as extremely unlikely to be true, but there’s no evidence either for or against it. That’s quite different from the Garden of Eden story, which is simply wrong, based on powerful evidence that contradicts it.

                  In fact, however, I don’t see why a Christian even needs to take the resurrection story as literal- although I’m sure that virtually all do.

                • Pseudonym

                  Are you seriously asking if a story involving a talking snake is intended to be real or not? Most rational people would use that as a clue to what genre they’re reading.

                • Earl G.

                  And that whole undead people walking around thing?  Are you seriously asking whether a story about a zombie is intended to be real or not?

                • Pseudonym

                  Absolutely! The king coming back from the dead to save his people in their hour of need is a common theme in mythologised history.

                • LesterBallard

                  Picking through the Bible for the “good parts” is like picking through shit for sweet corn. Sure, there’s a little there, but is it worth it?

            • MATT DIXON

              I guess one of the parts of the Bible that you would consider “crap” would be the part from Genesis 1.27:  “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. ”
              This simply means that all people on earth came from one couple, Adam & Eve.
              Including the times of Moses until today, the Hebrew Scriptures have claimed this for about 3500 years and now, the Human Genome Project has recently announced that indeed, humankind did come from one set of parents.
              Next “crap” you would like to discuss? How about the proliferation of racism that “evolved” from Darwinian theory that states whites are the highest form of human with “Negroids”as subhumans (see U.S. biology textbooks from the 1900′s).
              Next??

              • Cincinatheist

                The Human Genome Project states no such thing. Citation please? Preferably one not from AiG, Disco Institute or ICR. 

                What science actually says is that the common female ancestor of all humans lived in Africa about 140K years ago, and our common male ancestor lived about 60K years ago.  So no, all people on Earth today did not come from one couple. They actually lived about 80,000 years apart. 

                Now doesn’t that blow your religiously trolling noodle?

              • Harknights

                Why is there so much straw around here?

                Oh because Matt is busy making straw men. When you are done making all of them let us know so we can set them on fire.

                lol “Textbooks from the 1900′s” did those text books talk about those things before or after talking about the either? Oh and canals on Mars?

              • Reginald Selkirk

                The Human Genome Project has recently announced that indeed, humankind did come from one set of parents
                .
                No it didn’t. This is why scientists should not use religious language and imagery, like “mitochondrial Eve.” Some idiot like Matt Dixon will come along and take it literally.

              • OverlappingMagisteria

                 Ummm… I’m assuming you are talking about mitochondrial Eve and Y-chromosomal Adam. They do not at all support the idea that humankind came from one set of parents. They were not contemporaries and there were many other women and men that were contemporary.

                Here is some more info regarding the common misconceptions about Mitochondrial Eve:

                http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mitochondrial_eve#Common_fallacies

              • http://dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

                No, that part isn’t really what I’d call crap. The crap is most of the philosophical stuff- “crap” being an editorial opinion on such material.

                The Adam and Eve stuff is just factually in error. The Bible is full of factual errors- Adam and Eve, the great flood, how the Earth was created, the origin of animals, and many other things that attempt to explain the natural world. That these things are wrong is certain.

                On matters philosophical, there is no question of being factually right or wrong, so we either choose to accept those positions or not.

      • Pseudonym

        When George Orwell wrote Animal Farm, he didn’t really mean that there was once a real farm staffed by real talking animals.

        • LesterBallard

          Please, give me a fucking list of what in the Bile is allegory and what is not allegory.

          • Earl G.

            I second that.  Just provide a list.  Surely you can do that, right?  

            • ruth

              Has anyone ever done this?  For all the Christian blabbing and writing in the world you would think there would be some proposed lists.  

              • Pseudonym

                Of course they have. Ever heard of the Jesus Seminar?

          • Pseudonym

            You’re not going to find a single list that everyone agrees on, because academic consensus in the humanities doesn’t work that way. But you could start with Bart Ehrman’s new book, or perhaps John Dominic Crossan.

            • LesterBallard

              Read ‘em both. If they are ever looking for work, they could easily get it at a cherry orchard.

              • Pseudonym

                You did know that they’re both agnostics, right?

                Incidentally, my first thought on reading your comment is that you were making a reference to Chekov. Read into that what you will.

                • LesterBallard

                  Agnostics are wimps.

            • LesterBallard

              Where’s your list?

              • Pseudonym

                If I (let alone someone who was an actual expert) attempted to come up with a list, it would be out of date within a week.

                Sorry if that seems like a dodge, but reality is more complicated than fundamentalists like to make out it is. The academic study of the language, literature, anthropology, culture and history of Biblical times is an active research area, and new discoveries are being made all the time.

                It’s kind of like asking me for a list of what we know about Roman history.

          • Bell3000

            You have a list of what is allegory. It is at the start of the bible.

        • Earl G.

          Yeah, it’s silly to think the whole farm was staffed by talking animals.  The pigs could totally talk though, for real.  Just not the horses or the birds.  Duh.  Don’t lump us in with those ignorant talking-horse-believers.

          ALL HAIL THE TALKING PIGS!  

  • Armanaeon1

    The bible NEVER says that GOD created the UNIVERSE or EARTH is 6 days. It talks about the creation of LIFE on earth in 6 days. But in the beginning GOD created the HEAVENS AND THE EARTH. Then the first day GOD created light. How many years did it take God to create the HEAVENS and THE EARTH is unknown. Dont fall for the confusion, and dont debate atheists over the internet. Debate ones who are professors and doctors and etc… Many atheists over the internet, specially on fb, just simply claim they know everything… A wise man knows that he does not know all, but a fool knows everything. 

    • http://yetanotheratheist.com/ TerranRich

      The Bible may not say this, but that is what many people BELIEVE it says. It’s like you didn’t even read the original post.

    • John Small Berries

      Great. Now tell that to Ken Ham, who insists that you’re wrong.

    • Guest

      Even if true, your contention that the Bible only addresses the creation of life on earth, and not the Earth, universe, etc. is irrelevant. Scientists have a good understanding of how to date fossils, geologic layers, etc, and, news flash: the Earth is older than 6,000 years. Far older.

      • Coyotenose

         Just to note, you might want to use a name when posting. It’s easy to mistake a rational “Guest” for one of the more common crazy rant-and-runner “Guests” and just gloss over the post without reading.

    • Patterrssonn

      What?

    • LesterBallard

      You used all caps; you must be correct. I’ll listen to you.

    • MATT DIXON

       Aramanaeon: Sorry dude, that’s exactly what the Bible states: The Truth is, God takes all the guess work out of the “day” argument by plainly saying:
      Gen. 1:31 God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day.

      The word for day “yom,” means 24 hours in dozens of uses in the Old Testament. Guess what, it does here too and the Bible reinforces that by saying there was evening and morning, the sixth day.

      The only way “evolution” and its atheist followers can “prove” their theory is to inject millions of years into creation…and that just doesn’t hold water. . that is one reason they are so filled with venom about Ken Ham as he is proving their theory to be bogus.

      Jesus said: “Do not doubt, just believe! ” and now the very science that atheists tout is proving the ancient Text to be correct: See Adam & Eve and the Human Genome Project! Score one for the Jesus Team!

      • The Other Weirdo

         In other words, Jesus said: “Do not think for yourself, just accept what I have told you and go with it. Let not the thinking brain you have been granted by God trouble you.”

      • Glasofruix

          See Adam & Eve and the Human Genome Project!

        You keep reapeating that without providing anything to back it up. I’m not even sure you understand what you’re talking about…

        • Earl G.

          I am definitely sure MD does not know what he is talking about.  

      • Earl G.

        LOL.  I love it when religious nutbags argue over their different brands of complete nonsense.

  • OverlappingMagisteria

    Quibble:  That 46% statistic includes more than just Young Earth Creationists. It also includes Old Earth Creationists, people who believe that all life except humans evolved, etc.

    I don’t know what subset of the 46% is YEC, but it is a smaller set (hopefully much smaller).

    • http://www.facebook.com/abb3w Arthur Byrne

      Back in 2002, the Cleveland Plain Dealer ran a five-response question in an Ohio-specific poll, that differentiated Young Earth, Old-Earth, Intelligent Design, Theistic Evolution, and Atheistic Evolution. Ohio is a relatively median state on a number of metrics (income, education, religiosity, political leaning), and can be used as a rough proxy for the country as a whole. Looking at the numbers in that poll, and comparing to the 2002 Gallup national numbers, it suggests the Gallup question seems to result in Old-Earth and Young Earth creationists being lumped in together, along with Intelligent Design and Theistic Evolution types being lumped in together.

      The full breakdown is probably circa 30% YEC, 15% OEC, 15% ID, 25% TE, and 15% AE.

      So: smaller, yes, but I wouldn’t call it “much” smaller.

  • Kaoru Negisa

    I just wrote about this today myself. I don’t think that Clark is arguing that we need to stop arguing against Ham, but there’s no point in supporting Ham in order to argue against Clark. Yes, the Bible makes that claim, but it makes a lot of contradictory claims, and if we’re discussing the existence of god or the viability of the Bible as a moral text with somebody, there’s no point in arguing against things they’re not saying. Telling somebody what they believe in order to make points is nothing but strawmanning the argument, and we don’t need to do that. If somebody doesn’t think the Bible makes a claim that the world was created in 6 24-hour periods between 6,000-10,000 years ago, then that’s great! We agree. They can now move on to trying to provide evidence of an invisible man in the sky who takes a rather creepy interest in my life.

    What Clark is arguing, and I agree with, is that we don’t have to side with Creationists and support the “there is one, true Christianity and this extremely ignorant one is it” myth. It makes arguments with people like Clark or John Shore, people who can be allies to the atheist community, meaningless because we’re not addressing their points about the existence of a deity, we’re addressing other people’s points.

    • The Other Weirdo

       The problem is, how do we tell the ignorant Christian from the other? Which one of them is ignorant? Each Christian side calls the others Not True Christians™. You have Christians who believe everything the bible says. You have Christians who don’t. From a Christian perspective, which of them is right?

      • Kaoru Negisa

        None of them are right. But that’s not the point. The point is that we don’t try to tell which is ignorant and which is a Real True Christian, we deal with each based on what they actually believe, not what we want them to believe. Saying that Clark has to believe in a literal interpretation of the Bible in order to be a Christian basically ignores the actual claims he’s making. You and I don’t get to tell people what their faith means any more than people get to tell atheists that we’re all miserable nihilists.

        Rather than trying to argue against a monolithic idea of a faith, we should actually address the actual arguments made by actual people. Clark clearly understands that evolution is true. He doesn’t put Biblical understanding above scientific knowledge. When he doesn’t understand something about the world, he goes to a scientist, not a minister. Claiming that this is either not the case or that that means he can’t be a real Christian is a disingenuous argument. It’s a strawman, and there’s plenty of actual things that he’s wrong about to argue with him that we don’t need to apply other wrong beliefs in order to make a point.

        • MV

           No, Clark doesn’t clearly understand that evolution is true.  He says he does. That’s the problem.

          He charges Ham with using bad science yet does does the same thing.  Sure, Ham’s understanding (or use) of science is worse but you can’t exactly be a Christian without putting your religion above science.  Once you apply science to Christianity, there isn’t much left.

        • The Other Weirdo

           The trouble with this is that there are 50,000 Christian sects and denominations. Each one happily claims the others all wrong and, should the prevailing society allow it, happily go on wars of extermination against the heretics.  Each one of those sophisticated theologies belongs to only one of these sects and denominations and is not recognized by the others. You can’t really fight a monster like that, 1 head at a time. You have to fight the entire beast simultaneously.

  • Burt Likko

    It’s all a question of how challenging a target you want to shoot for.

    YEC is popular as a target of atheist criticism because it’s easy to pluck the low-hanging fruit. If what you’re looking to do is entertain yourself by demonstrating the intellectual and scientific invalidity of Christianity, then the flavor of Christianity you’re going to pick will often enough be the one that’s easiest to demonstrate lacks intellectual and scientific validity.

    A flavor of Christianity that concedes that the Bible is not literally true and that doesn’t insist that evolution, geocentricity, etc. are true simply because an ancient myth says they are is a bit more challenging to take on. Maybe the internet atheist in question is not ready, or just not in the mood, to go big game hunting.

    • Bender

       “Big game”? So there is a group of christians who believe SOME parts of the bible and ignore the rest… and that’s a “challenging target”? I’ve been asking them for some time now how do they distinguish the parts that are literally true from all other parts that are just “alegorical”. No answer so far. I also ask them what the “alegory” is supposed to mean. No answer either.

      • Reginald Selkirk

         Time for a link to Unreasonable Faith:

        Why Can’t You Be More Like Augustine?

      • http://etratio.blogspot.com/ linford86

        I’m not a Christian, I’m an atheist. But here’s my understanding.

        There are a very wide range of beliefs about the Bible amongst Christians. And I think that what you’ve given here is just too simplistic given that diversity.

        The most liberal or sophisticated Christian theologies assert that none of the Bible was written by God. That means that whether the authors meant the text is to be taken as true, allegorical, metaphorical, Midrashic, or whatever, it’s not innerant (i.e. free of factual errors.) Under those theologies, it’s a human production and comes with all of the errors of any other human text. It has religious importance only because it represents the ideological ancestors of modern believers expressing their understanding of the Divine and of their faith. However, those understandings were suited for their time and need to be updated to fit ours. This means that the Bible is a book expressing religious claims, but is not the arbiter of Truth that Fundamentalists would take it to be.

        Usually, these same theologies are absolutely fine with the modern textual analyses of Biblical texts, most importantly Higher Criticism (the Documentary Hypothesis and the like. One should note that several members of the Jesus Seminar are liberal theologians. John Shelby Spong comes to mind as an example.)

        It may interest you to know that there are passages which all Christians, whether conservative or liberal, believe to be metaphorical. For example, in Matthew 5:13, when Jesus calls people the “salt of the Earth”, he doesn’t mean to say that people are made of salt. It’s another discussion as to the interpretation of what is meant there, but it’s very clear from context that this is a metaphor. Even Biblical Literalists don’t take that passage literally (“Biblical Literalism” is really a misnomer; the real doctrine is Biblical *Inerrancy* — i.e. the idea that the Biblical text was written by God and is therefore free from error and that parts which make sense when taken literally should be.)It’s also important to point out that, for most of history, most theologians have taken large portions of the Biblical text to be non-literal. It’s actually only relatively recently in history, and particularly in the United States, where that trend changed. This has a lot to do with the so-called Modernist/Fundamentalist schizm in the 19th century. The positions of Aquinas and Maimonides provide an interesting contrast to those Fundamentalists. And even the early Fundamentalists didn’t take Genesis absolutely literally; the Scofield Reference Bible (the go-to reference for Fundies in the early decades of the 20th century) provides a Day-Age view, *not* the modern 6-days-of-Creation view.

        • The Other Weirdo

           The first problem is, the Christian on the street doesn’t care about “sophisticated theology”. The second problem is that if it’s not sourced directly from God, then what is the point of it? Which stories in are true, which are metaphorical/allegorical/drug-induced flights of fancy? What’s the point of the crucifixion if it’s all just made up? The virgin birth? The Wise Men? Heaven, hell, you name it. How does one tell what’s real in the bible and what isn’t? For nearly 1,650 years, Christians believed that it is, in fact, sourced directly from God. What makes this generation’s Christians more correct? Or are they deluding themselves and the Christians of old had the right of it all along?

          Christians accuse atheists of having no objective moral standard. Which is odd, because they themselves have no objective standard on which to judge their faith and that of them ancestors.

          • MATT DIXON

            Sorry Other Weido, true Christians base their lives on the Bible, the infallible, inerrant  Word of God, given by the Holy Spirit to men. The Bible is the 1st and last word on all things relative to faith and action.
            The differences in the “type” (allegory, parable, etc) of style a particular prophet used is not as important as the spiritual truth the Holy Spirit is relaying.
            The difference between Christians and all other religions including atheist, is we have a relationship with our God through Jesus Christ and you do not. We believe what the Bible says is truth while you rely on facts, which change with new knowledge (fact in 1900, man cannot fly; truth in 1900, man soon would).
            Christians have over 3500 years of God’s Word being true, that is a sure foundation on which to build faith. 

            • OverlappingMagisteria

               “… you rely on facts, which change with new knowledge”

              Gosh. Relying on facts rather than fiction. And not being so arrogant to think that we have it all figured out but instead updating our knowledge with new discoveries.

              Thank you Matt for showing me the error of my ways!

            • RobertoTheChi

              Uggh! I just got a headache from reading that inane bullshit.

            • Kodie

              Christians have such a low bar for what they consider credible evidence, i.e. your “challenge” to atheists to visit the Congo and meet up a week after to prove Jesus is real. And then have the fucking arrogance to deny other evidence that contradicts these ideas (and Ken Ham’s so-called evidence) with actual scientific proof. You obviously BELIEVE IN the concept of proving something to one’s conscious perception by some measure. You don’t believe in faith, you want to prove it is true, Ken Ham and the Discovery Institute want very much to use as many lies as it takes to convince the gullible that it’s true.

              You fucking have no goddamned brains in you at all. And it’s obvious to a smart person, but you persist in your arrogance, MATT DIXON. You are trying to equal evidence and proof of science and have no faith at all. That’s what’s so weird, that you have to make up shit to convince people that it’s true who otherwise know what you’re saying is false, made up, bullshit. You let them be and yourselves be too stupid to be able to know the difference.

            • http://etratio.blogspot.com/ linford86

               I have a personal relationship with Athe! How dare you say such things about our religion!

            • The Other Weirdo

               Dafaque did I just read? You do know, do you not, that even today, man cannot actually fly. Right? When we learn to throw ourselves at the ground and miss, then we can say that man can fly. Until then, we need machines. With lots of pretty spinning parts. Or, you know, hellfire in a tube.

              And also, facts don’t change, merely our awareness and understanding of them changes.

            • Grinch

              This guy has to be a poe…

          • http://etratio.blogspot.com/ linford86

             >For nearly 1,650 years, Christians believed that it is, in fact, sourced directly from God.

            This is actually false. People have been looking at the Bible as non-literal for most of its history. The priority on Inerrancy in American theology is a recent development owing much to the Modernist/Fundamentalist schizm in the 19th century.

            • The Other Weirdo

               Wait! Do you mean to tell me that the witch-burnings and the crusades(both internal and external) and the Inquisition and the slaughter of indigenous cultures in the Americas and the Protestant schisms and the wars that resulted and the raging anti-Semitism that led directly to the Holocaust in the 20th century were due to Christians looking at the Bible in a non-literal, non-fundamentalist way? Holy shit, Batman! What would’ve happened had they been looking at it in a fundamentalist way?

              Oh, and for the record, I never said, literal. I said, sourced directly from God. Gods are wont to speak metaphorically.

    • The Other Weirdo

      As we saw last year from the Harold Camping fiasco, there is scant difference between the fundamentalist Christian and the supposed moderate Christian. The difference, such as there is, is merely one of degree, not of kind. When Harold Camping put a date to the rapture and subsequent end of the world, Christians were tripping all over themselves to be the first to proclaim to the world that he had the wrong of it, that “no man knows the day or the hour, save the Father in heaven”. The moderate believes the same thing the fundamentalist does, only is usually not as vocal about it.

    • Coyotenose

       It’s not at all challenging. Nonliteralists are still inconsistent, hypocritical, promote weak and superstitious thinking, and enable and even encourage bigotry by making the fundamentalists look closer to normal and by rarely criticizing their evils.

      That’s far from a complete list. They take what they like from the Bible, discard the rest, and complain because they don’t like still being accountable for even the parts they took and claim to use.

      Big game? Their beliefs are rabbits at worst. Cute one or two at a time, obnoxious and highly damaging to civilized people when in numbers.

    • Stev84

      There is really no such thing as “sophisticated theology”. That just means adding so much insane bullshit that people get tired of reading it. At the end all kinds of theology have one thing in common: there isn’t a single shred of evidence for any of it

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=553145445 Gordon Duffy

       All of your fruit is low hanging. The only reason it is easier to address Ken Ham than you is that Ken keeps his goalposts in place, whereas your “big game” doesn’t even present goalposts.

  • Tainda

    If the bible is supposedly the word of God, it should be taken literally!  I repeat myself constantly lol

    Last night my daughter said she had a discussion with my parents last week.  My mother says marriage should only be a man and a woman because that’s what the bible says.  I told her the next time she says that tell my mom she should stone my father when he works on the Sabbath.

    My daughter’s other grandmother is a lesbian and these comments really bother her. She hasn’t yet learned to keep her feelings in check when it comes to ignorance lol

    • Kaoru Negisa

      Part of Clark’s point is that a lot of Christians don’t believe the Bible is the word of god. For example, Clark believes it’s a collection of stories that shouldn’t be true. Many Christians do. This isn’t to say we need to let up on Christianity, but if we’re arguing with somebody like Fred Clark, then should we be telling him that he isn’t believing correctly, that the Bible is the literal word of god, and then proceed to argue against that? There are many theist arguments that can be shot down, why add arguments that aren’t there? Sure, when we talk to somebody who thinks evolution is a trick of Satan, we should argue against that. But when we run into people who think evolution is a scientific theory that explains biodiversity and serves as the backbone for almost all biological research, it’s intellectually dishonest to immediately ascribe the other belief to them just so we can argue against it.

      • http://twitter.com/the_ewan Ewan

        I think part of the point of atheist being ‘pro literalist’ is that if you believe that the Bible is  collection of stories that aren’t true then there’s no reason left to believe in any of it’s claims. Which as a rule, atheists don’t.

        The problem for a ‘reasonable christian’ who thinks that the bible is not to be trusted is to explain why they’re still clinging to whichever non-evidence based beliefs they still hold. Ken Ham doesn’t have that problem.

      • The Captain

        If Clark believes the bible is just a collection of stories that are not true, then how the bloody hell does he thinks he still gets to call himself “christian”? Where does his “christianity” come from then if not the bible? Unless he claims to have proof of christianity from outside the bible, he’s just trying to have his cake and not eat it too. 

        If I agreed with everyone that Lord of the RIngs is just a collection untrue stories I don’t get to go around telling everyone Middle Earth is still real without looking stupid.

        • The Captain

          I hate typos! “have his cake and eat it too.” Though I may start using my typo in a different meaning :)

        • Reginald Selkirk

           A good point; there is no credible source for Christianity outside Teh Bible. So it seems more likely that Clark cherry-picks which parts of teh Bible to take seriously, rather than that he thinks the whole thing is unreliable.

          • http://etratio.blogspot.com/ linford86

             That may be true, but we can also ask what he understands himself to be doing. To really engage him in argument is to seriously try to understand what Clark thinks Clark is doing, not just what he’s actually doing.

        • Kaoru Negisa

          He believes that Jesus was a person and divine and that there is a god. I’m not saying he’s right about that. In fact, he’s wrong about that. But that’s the argument we should be having with people like Clark: that there is no extra-biblical evidence for Jesus or his god. Arguing that the bible must be taken literally for him to believe that there was a Jesus is disingenuous. I may as well argue that your life has to be without meaning if you’re an atheist.

          Is Clark cherry-picking? Yes, he is. All theists cherry-pick. He admits to it. My point, and his point, is that we should be arguing against what he actually claims to be true rather than pretending that he believes other things that he manifestly doesn’t.

          • Coyotenose

             But the entire basis of claiming that Jesus was a person and divine and that there is a god is the Bible. It isn’t disingenuous to point that out. If someone claimed that all evidence for evolution was false but that the theory was true anyway, they’d be lucky to get away without their eardrums bursting from the criticism that they’d receive.

            • The Other Weirdo

               And all the LOLing that would accompany it.,

          • MATT DIXON

            Here’s some extra-biblical proof of Jesus Christ being alive and well and you and I can prove it!

            How about this simple test: Next time I travel to Congo, you go with
            me. I’ll hang out with the locals who are Christians and you hang out
            with the locals who are atheists. Then, we’ll meet at the airport after
            one week.

            • http://www.facebook.com/chrisalgoo Chris Algoo

              How about this test : One gay person can hang out with the Ugandan atheists, and another can hang out with Ugandan christians. We’ll see how that goes for them!

            • Kodie

               You are too gullible.

            • Guest

              I have an easy way to prove to you that Allah is the one true god, and Mohammed is his prophet. Next time I go to Iran, I will show you the multitudes of the poor that the mosques there feed. I’ll show you imams that have dedicated their lives to serving Allah, to better the human condition. The only possible explanation for them treating other human beings decently is their belief in Allah! Not empathy, or the golden rule – only Allah being the one true god could possibly explain that!

            • Glasofruix

              What? I don’t even…

          • The Captain

            But I’m not pretending he believes anything. As I explain a few post above, when I use “the bible literally says this…” toward people who do not take the book literally, I’m pointing out the mental gymnastics they have to go through to not take it literally just to support their preferred version.

        • Pseudonym

          If Clark believes the bible is just a collection of stories that are not
          true, then how the bloody hell does he thinks he still gets to call
          himself “christian”?

          I suggest you read his article. The fact that you ask this question in the way you ask it indicates that you don’t really understand the history of Christian thought (and Jewish thought before it), and just how much it relied on teachings rather than historical accuracy.

          This isn’t a problem for you, of course! You don’t need to understand this stuff. Unlike Ken Ham, you don’t set yourself up as a supposed expert on the topic. Or at least, I hope you don’t.

          As an atheist who has no knowledge, and no need for knowledge, about Chrisitanity, you’re the second-last person I’d ask to decide what constitutes “Christianity”. The last person I’d ask is someone who willfully spreads misinformation, like Ken Ham.

    • Bo Tait

      There’s plenty of explanations by Christians for not taking entire bible literally, but only particuloar parts.
      This is a quick explanation from Marc Barnes over at Bad Catholic from his article
      So You Still Think Homosexuality Is Sinful?”The Bible is a library of history, storytelling, poetry, letters, and biographies: Something appearing in the Bible does not indicate that God endorses that practice. The only practices endorsed by God are — wait for it – those which we are told are endorsed by God.”He goes into more detail and provides more examples about what should a dn shouldn’t be taken literally in the article.-

    • MATT DIXON

       Uhhhhh, if your grandmother is a lesbian…where did you come from???? Did her lesbian lover have a congenital defect? Did she evolve into a man and then back into a woman?
      Your comments comparing God’s teachings on His holiness misses that fact that in teaching these truths, God also said He “desires mercy and not sacrifice” and that He is “the Lord of the Sabbath.”

       Together, He teaches us that yes, the Sabbath is holy and set aside that man might rest and worship God, thanking Him for all He has done and all that He is and to forgo that deserves death BUT in His infinite mercy, He forgives us when we break His laws, giving us life instead. 

      Even modern science has proven the validity of the “life-extending” truth of “resting” for a day,  that even applies to machinery, clothing and animals.

      Your daughter’s comments reflect a teaching of Jesus in that He said children understand the Kingdom while we adults do not. See also the teaching on the “millstone.”

      • RobertoTheChi

        “Uhhhhh, if your grandmother is a lesbian…where did you come from???? Did her lesbian lover have a congenital defect? Did she evolve into a man and then back into a woman?”

        WOW! Your logic is incredible! You have me stumped on that one, ALL CAPS DIXON. I mean who in their right mind has ever heard of a homosexual being married to someone of the opposite sex? Especially someone who grew up in those times? Something like that never happens. AMAZING!

        • Earl G.

          It must have been the magical work of god! 

        • http://annainca.blogspot.com/ Anna

          I thought about tring to educate Matt, though it seems like like he’s a lost cause. But in case he reads this, it’s possible for lesbians to have children not only through previous heterosexual marriages, but also through donor insemination and adoption. There are plenty of lesbian grandmothers out there!

          • RobertoTheChi

            I think Matt is very much a lost cause. I’m sure he doesn’t believe that there are lesbians out there with any children. His brain can not conceive that any of those things are possible. If he does reply to you, it will probably be completely off topic (a challenge for the Congo, etc).

  • JohnnieCanuck

    Seminary trickery. That would be setting up your own imaginary conversation so that your straw opponents’ statements actually are false.

    Nowhere does the Bible clearly state that the Creation occurred 6000 years ago. A certain Bishop Ussher carefully counted some begats in his Bible and pulled a significant number of guesses out of  a dark place to come up with his 4004 BC date. It is an extra-Biblical bit of dubious calculation.

    Looks like Ken Ham was right to  warn of seminarians’ trickery, not that Fred Clark has given us any reason to take his word that Ken actually did say so.

  • The Captain

    Clarks’ real aim here is too distance himself from the likes os Ken Ham, and fine. But the problem is when I (and many Atheist I know) cite a literal interpretation of the bible we are not just criticizing those that literally interoperate it that way like Ham and YEC, I am also saying Clark and people who follow a metaphor based interpretation are also just spewing bullshit since they are really just making up what is and is not a metaphor to suit their own goals.

    So when I say things like “the bible literally says this…” I am not just  criticizing those that think it literally says that, I’m also criticizing those that do all the mental gymnastics to claim it doesn’t say that, just so they can keep believing any of it is true.

    • The Other Weirdo

       That’s a very good way to explain it.

    • http://wordsideasandthings.blogspot.com/ Garren

      Seconding that. I criticize Young Earth Creationist views because I
      was a Young Earth Creationist. I didn’t buy the
      arguments from liberal theologians then. I don’t buy them now.

      • MATT DIXON

        Your comment makes absolutely no sense what so ever.  I can tell that you are younger than 50 because you represent the “education” profession once it stopped teaching logic in public schools…as your illogical train-wreck thought process demonstrates.

        • Coyotenose

          And lo, there is a beam in your own eye. Maybe you should tell people to get off your lawn. That would come across as more rational and less pseudo-intellectual.

          Not much else need be said about a guy who claims that the U.S. had  a 99% literacy rate, let alone that said imaginary number was because of religion.

          You know who actually DID have a 99% literacy rate? The Soviets. Go figure.

          • Glasofruix

            Mostly because in soviet union schools and universities were free.

          • MATT DIXON

            I guess the Library of Congress lied to make early America look educated, conspiring with the record keepers of the day so that in the 21st century, I could use the falsified documents to make a comment. And, nanny, nanny poo-poo, your comment about the beam in the eye has nothing to do with what I said…and calling me a pseudo-intellectual simply illustrates my point: inability of most AmeriKans to argue logically.

        • http://wordsideasandthings.blogspot.com/ Garren

          Admittedly, I did go to a private Christian school.

        • amycas

           Actually, somebody older than 50 who went to public school probably has a better chance of learning evolution in public school. Schools started teaching evolution (and ignoring laws against it) in the 1940′s and especially in the 50′s because of the space race (emphasis on math and science). It wasn’t until the 60′s and 70′s that creationists started attacking evolution again. Now kids in public school science classes are lucky if the word evolution is even mentioned.

      • Pseudonym

        Sadly, fundamentalism’s poison can stay around in the mind long after people lose their faith.

  • http://religiouscomics.net/ Jeff P

    I view the genesis bit as only one obvious and glaring example of a much larger problem with scripture. The man problem is people that believe that anything written down about the supernatural is true. In my mind it doesn’t really matter if the writing is about supernatural stories about the origin of matter, arrival of life on Earth, virgin births, resurrections, or divine plans for afterlives.  All scripture is just stuff written down by people who were only inspired by prevailing religious beliefs. None of it was actually inspired by angels or deities floating around. Refuting Ken Ham is just low-hanging fruit because it is so easy.  All the supernatural stuff in scripture, though, can be discounted as human projection and wishful thinking.

    Sometimes the liberal, progressive Christians are just more cleaver in wrapping the subset of supernatural scripture they still cling to in a lot of flowery language and rationalizations. The Ken Hams of the world are more stark when they take a literal stance and are much easier targets for internet atheists who don’t want to get into nuance.

    • Coyotenose

       They’re not more clever, really. They’re more vague is all.

    • MATT DIXON

      HA! I would put Ken Ham up against any of you guys on this site. His teachings are backed up by prevailing scientists in the fields from which he quotes. The problem with those who live outside of Truth is you are so much against it.

      Bottom line, if you want to debate atheism against Christianity, you select a location and bring 100 people whose lives have been changed for the better by following your beliefs and I will bring 1000 who have been changed for the better by Jesus Christ.

      How about this simple test: Next time I travel to Congo, you go with me. I’ll hang out with the locals who are Christians and you hang out with the locals who are atheists. Then, we’ll meet at the airport after one week.

      • Kodie

         His teachings are backed up by prevailing bullshit-peddlers calling themselves scientists. Just because they could disagree with science until the cows came home does not make them credible. And sure, by association, you’re kind of a moron! Go, you!

      • Kodie

         You cannot prove people’s lives have been made better BY Jesus Christ. People who believe in Jesus Christ taught these others to believe in Jesus Christ and some other way, like feeding them and giving them medicine, changed their lives. You cannot prove Jesus Christ is real this way. I can feed someone and give them medicine. I would not waste time to teach them there is no Jesus Christ the way that you waste time teaching them that there is. So you’ve found people to be gullible, does not prove Jesus is a real power in their life or improvements therein. Try again.

      • Hemant

        We should all give up. Matt Dixon’s name is in ALL CAPS so he must be right.

        • amycas

           So, you’ll be changing the blog’s name to “The Friendly Creationist” and moving to the Christian portal??

      • RobertoTheChi

        How about just going to the Congo and helping the people there without pushing your beliefs on them if you really want to be of any help to them. I’m sure we could convince them of the Truth of the FSM while we are there offering help. Just because you can convince someone of something doesn’t make what you’re peddling true. At one time many people believed the Earth was flat, that didn’t make it true though.

        Please give proof of your “truth”. And no, the bible and “feelings” are not proof. Every religion claims to know the “truth”, what makes yours the right one?

      • http://religiouscomics.net/ Jeff P

        Matt, I’m a bit busy in this life and have better things to do but I’d be happy to debate you in the afterlife. —– Original Message —–
        From: Disqus
        To: admin@religiouscomics.net
        Sent: Friday, August 17, 2012 4:32 PM
        Subject: [friendlyatheist1] Re: Why Do Atheists Always Go After Ken Ham?

        MATT DIXON wrote, in response to Jeff P:

        HA! I would put Ken Ham up against any of you guys on this site. His teachings are backed up by prevailing scientists in the fields from which he quotes. The problem with those who live outside of Truth is you are so much against it.
        Bottom line, if you want to debate atheism against Christianity, you select a location and bring 100 people whose lives have been changed for the better by following your beliefs and I will bring 1000 who have been changed for the better by Jesus Christ.
        How about this simple test: Next time I travel to Congo, you go with me. I’ll hang out with the locals who are Christians and you hang out with the locals who are atheists. Then, we’ll meet at the airport after one week.
        Link to comment

        • Tracie, Dancr

          Ok, first, why should Ken get to have ten times as many speakers when his portion in the population of even christianhood is quite small. Also, what, specifically, is he suggesting would happen to one for announcing their disbeliefs in a virulent Christian atmosphere, or Muslim, or whatever? And why would that be something to brag about? And why would someone want to be on a stage with someone who’s stirring his fans like Jerry Springer or Morton Downey? Just some random thoughts…

      • Glasofruix

        Oh come on, Ham cannot stand to even a 5 years old kid’s logic his scientists are not even in the fields he claims to posess the truth of. Anyway, i don’t see what your “tests” could prove, you just keep reapeating the same bullcrap until some idiot agrees with you.

  • Dwayne_Windham

    Well the real problem gets to be trying to pin down “what exactly DO you believe?” once you breach the wall  of absolute literalism. Then – I essentially need a marked up version of your bible – what parts are literal, what parts are metaphorical, symbolic, allegorical, etc.? Which biblical translation do we use? What books are you including or not including? Otherwise, they’ll be a complete amoeba about scripture – accepting it as divine or divinely inspired when it suits their purpose, and ignoring the parts about selling your daughter into slavery, etc.

    • Coyotenose

       We just need to get River Tam working on this and we’re golden.

    • Earl G.

      Can we, as a community, beg Christians – even just one Christian – to give us this sort of marked-up Bible?  Because how else are heathens to understand what is “true” and what isn’t?  Would any Christian* please step up and provide this valuable edited Bible?  I’ll happily provide a pack of highlighters, and they can use a different color for each different level of “truth.”

      *other than Thomas Jefferson, that is.  Because modern Christians really wouldn’t like his edited version.

      • http://etratio.blogspot.com/ linford86

         Some denominations actually do this.

        However, what you are ignoring is the diversity amongst Christians. They don’t agree between each other which parts are sacred and which are not and so forth; how are they supposed to communicate this to us atheists? In some liberal churches, people are even encouraged to debate and discuss different exegetical approaches with each other.

        I’d rather just take a historical, anthropological, and sociological approach to evaluating the text and what the text has done through history and how it is “understood” in different communities.

      • Pseudonym

        Further to what linford86 said, not even non-religious historians of the Ancient Near East can agree on this.

        There are some parts of the Bible known to be historical within the limits of ancient historians. (You’re dreaming if you think that Livy or Heroditus wrote down exactly what happened with no regard for contemporary politics!) There are some parts known to be based on fact, and embellished to varying degrees. There are some parts known to be pure myth. There are some parts known to be later fabrications. And there are some parts whose historical veracity is unknown.

        But for a liberal Christian, this is interesting (and we do talk about current research a lot; we love this stuff), but sort of beside the point. There’s also a hell of a lot of the Bible which is teachings, or philosophy, rather than history, and hence impossible to call “true” or “false”, “literal” or “allegorical”.

        Nobody disputes that the Levitical legal code, for example, was literally part of the Ancient Hebrew civil/religious code at some point in history, even if the story of how it came about is fanciful. In that sense, the Levitical laws are “literal” in pretty much any meaningful sense. But that doesn’t help in determining whether or not they should apply today. The intent behind it is clear from the text itself: the Ancient Hebrews thought themselves a nation “set apart”, and most of the bizarre laws were to support that. Even mainstream Christians (let alone ultra-liberals) believe that we’re not Ancient Hebrews and hence this doesn’t apply to us.

  • Justin Miyundees

    There’s a great Andy Griffith episode where Barney buys a set of mystic paraphernalia and proceeds to dedicate his path in life to following it.  Somehow the kit gets misplaced and Barney is lost – he’s becomes despondent and paralyzed so Andy gets Gomer in on the act and Gomer comes by to buck Barney up.  I think the kit is discovered in the meantime but the point of the episode was summed up by Barney.  He says something to the effect of “you brought Gomer in here so I can see what an idiot will buy into”.  

    That’s why we point out Ken Ham I think – so Christians can see what nut jobs share their absurd opinions and would have public policy written to suit them.

    • Justin Miyundees

      Case in point:  http://www.deuceofclubs.com/tunes/demos/22thank_you_god.htm

    • The Other Weirdo

       Wasn’t Mayberry a religious Christian community of its time and place? Woulddn’t that make the episode kind of hypocritical?

  • 00001000_bit

    While I would tend to agree more with a progressive Christian such as the author on day-to-day matters, I have to continue to believe that “literalism” is actually the more “honest” position (even though demonstrably wrong.) In that case, I sort of agree with Ken Ham.

    If you don’t take the bible literally, then the genealogy of Jesus (either of the contradictory ones) is either partially wrong or wholly made up. If the “gospels” contain fabrications and/or inaccuracies, then why believe the other parts of it that tell is that we need Jesus, or that he is the son of God?

    With biological evolution, death has been part of the world since before humans. This too refutes the “fall” and disputes thee need for a messiah; without original sin, of what need is there of a savior?

    • http://etratio.blogspot.com/ linford86

       Not all Christians (or, rather, those who self identify as “Christian”) believe in Original Sin, the Fall, the need for a messiah, etc. And not all of them believe the Bible to be the word of God.

      I am an atheist, but if you are interested in exploring some of the interesting diversity in Christian theologies, John Shelby Spong’s work is very interesting.

      • MATT DIXON

         Linford, Let me give you a primer in Christianity 101: A person MUST believe that Jesus of Nazareth is the Christ (the anointed One of God), that He lived a sinless life, was scourged, crucified and died (for my sins), was in the grave for 3 days and was raised from the dead to life (that I might have eternal life) on the 3rd day.

        The topics that you list are all foundational beliefs of Christianity. Just because you have found some heretical writing by some off the wall author does not negate  the written Word of God, aka: the Bible or the foundational truths that it tells.

        How is it, that warlike tribes who are filled with deep hatred of white men, can be taught the simple truths of the gospel of Jesus Christ and suddenly have their hearts changed and filled with love for those they hated? How is it that hardened skinheads who hate blacks or other people of color hear the gospel message and suddenly have love in their hearts for the same people???

        Logic? Quantum Evolution? Atheistic reasoning? No! The love of God in Jesus Christ! Its a heart issue, not a head issue, relationship not ritual.

        • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1078695333 David Kopp

          Ahhh, yes. Your god gave you a brain so you could allow it to atrophy. Gotta love that argument.

          • Blacksheep

            Why would you consider people having a change of heart from being hateful to being loving as atrophy?

        • Bryan

          I attended a panel discussion that included Hemant and a former “hardened skinhead” who had converted to Buddhism, abandoned his hate, and turned around his life.

          Now, is that proof that the Eightfold Path is true and everyone can reach enlightenment if they try hard enough?

          • Pseudonym

            I don’t even know what it means for the Eightfold Path to be “true” or “false”. Is the wearing of hats “true” or “false”?

            But since you asked, as anecdotes go, I would consider that a pretty good indicator that the Eightfold Path is useful for at least some people.

            • Earl G.

              ‘Useful’ does not equal ‘true.’

              • Pseudonym

                Of course. But as I said, “true” is meaningless in this context. Something that you do is neither true nor false, unless you mean that it’s true that some people do it.

        • http://etratio.blogspot.com/ linford86

           If you think that all of those things are central to Christianity, then you need to take them up with John Shelby Spong — a man who states that he is a Christian and rejects them. I don’t have a side in debating what kind of Christianity is the “proper” or “right” kind.

        • Glasofruix

            How is it, that warlike tribes who are filled with deep hatred of white
          men, can be taught the simple truths of the gospel of Jesus Christ and
          suddenly have their hearts changed and filled with love for those they
          hated?

          Yeah, black slaves TOTALLY loved their white masters because they’ve beaten up jebus into them….

          • Earl G.

            And never mind how the Bible was used (and still is used) to justify slavery and racism.

      • MV

        Then why, exactly, would they self identify as Christian if they dispute the central tenants of Christianity?  Because at that point they are closer to: Jewish, Atheist, Deist, etc.  The only reason I can see is that they want to gain the benefits of being identified as Christian without the baggage.  That’s rather dishonest.  While I can see why you would not want to suffer discrimination for being seen as not Christian, have those views of Christianity will get you seen as “not Christian” by those who would generally discriminate anyway.  

        • http://etratio.blogspot.com/ linford86

           Well, read his books and find out. I’m not Spong (nor am I a Christian) so all I would be doing is parroting him if I were to describe his views. But you can read, for example, “Christianity Must Change or Die” or “Jesus for the Non-Religious”.

        • Pseudonym

          One thing that characterises Christianity, arguably more so than any other religion, is change. Even before the Bible was finished, it changed from a weird Jewish sect to something more suited for the world of Greek philosophy.

          Everywhere that Christianity has gone, it adapted and adopted that which was good and useful from the local culture. I’m sure I don’t need to tell you where pretty much all of the Christian festivals came from, right?

          Change isn’t dishonest. On the contrary, it’s brutally honest. Religions have to change or die. Evolution is how we survive when the fitness landscape changes. This has always been the case, and I don’t see why things should be different now.

    • Kodie

      Resurrection and salvation is no more plausible than the Garden of Eden or Noah’s Ark, so basically, what are atheists after? The literal biblicist believes only a little more nonsense than the liberal one, and the liberal wants the atheist to lay off the literal interpretations. It really depends who you’re arguing with, but a liberal Christian will bend more to accommodate the bible with reality. They may be easier to get along with because they’re not so crazy, but they make less sense. What value has the bible got at all to someone if they can make up shit as they go along? Liberal theists are inventing a new religion, what I’ve always said. They are denying the bible is completely true and excusing themselves from the extreme fundamentalist/creationist while they make up something that concurs with modern thinking and modern interpretations, and this also needs to be pointed out.

      It’s easy to discredit Adam and Eve and Noah scientifically, and so they do, but when they want points for it, they can’t get them. It’s easy to make up a new religion of what to believe because obviously some stuff just isn’t true. Then what have you got? Explain how you sort your beliefs into myths and truths, please. You have just as much explaining, if not more, than Ken Ham. Isn’t resurrection just as silly to believe in, for a grown-up?

      • Reginald Selkirk

        Resurrection and salvation is no more plausible than the Garden of Eden…

        Plus, if the sin on the Garden of Eden story is just allegory, then where is the need for salvation?

        • Kodie

          I’ve always heard an excuse for that still requiring Jesus to show up, and even if Jesus was also mythological, it’s not thought all the way through. I mean, if it’s a beautiful story to someone, you know, like…. I like Charlotte’s Web, for example. It’s a beautiful story to me, parts of it, not even all of it. I don’t magically believe Charlotte wrote actual English words in her web to save Wilbur; I don’t even believe a spider could make friends with a pig, and it’s just a cute story that, you know, you could learn from, how to be friends, how to be brave, how to stick up for someone else, etc., but here is where I lose track of the liberal Christian – which parts are they defending because they tell a beautiful story and how does it affect their life? Even I think the Jesus story could be nice – it’s nice to know messing up isn’t the end for you, you can still forgive yourself and go ahead in life. Just like any story.

          How does any of it become true or necessary though? Without Charlotte’s Web obviously, all those concepts are still accessible. You don’t need the story to tell you and you don’t need magic to feel something psychologically helpful. Problem is, people do burden themselves with guilt they don’t deserve, and they believe that is something that requires magic to make go away. Then they saddle a couple other beliefs on top that are just part of the package, and may be actively harmful. Religious people, all of them, believe a fairy tale; there is something too harsh about life to overcome, or that’s how it’s sold to them. You are guilty and the feeling, the allegorical description, is ancient born in the species. To get over it, we give you an invisible friend who died just so you can cut this shit out because it’s making you unproductive. I mean, I believe the story of Adam and Eve as describes a perfection that we all could have had, it describes a world that someone fucked up and we have to live with their mistake. It describes why life sucks, basically, why it’s hard, why we get sick, why we have pain, why we lose, why we never get where we want to be. It used to be awesome but we fucked up. Is that true, was it perfect, did we fuck it up? No.

          So how does Jesus figure in to save us – oh yeah, there’s this new club uptown, just opened. It’s just like how the world was supposed to be before someone fucked it up. It’s got some roundabout kind of rules. First, this guy actually died… what? OH GOD NO!!! No, it’s cool, it was actually god. And because he loves you, he died so you can get in this club.

          Now, I find that a ridiculous workaround, but apparently some people are really moved by that!

        • Pseudonym

          That’s kind of like asking why, if Rudyard Kipling’s How the Camel Got his Hump is just a story, is there any reason to think that camels have humps.

          The Eden narrative is a “just so” story to explain an observed fact: that humans have a tendency to do what they know they are not supposed to do, and to fail to do what they are supposed to do. It’s dressed up in flowery language and technical terms like “original sin”, and also accreted a bunch of crap over the years, but it’s a pretty simple concept when you get down to it.

          • http://etratio.blogspot.com/ linford86

             Not to mention that the story doesn’t at all mention Original Sin. That’s a Christian add on to a Jewish folk tale.

            • Pseudonym

              You’re right that it doesn’t. Nor does the New Testament, for that matter. But the observation that the Eden narrative explains is still a real observation.

              In further news, the non-existence of the Tower of Babel does not mean that different nations all speak the same language, and the non-existence of Noah and the ark does not mean that there are no rainbows.

  • http://twitter.com/ftsor ftsor

    What gets me is that many of the Christians I’ve known will say that the bible is the divine, inspired word of god…*and* that it shouldn’t always be taken literally…sometimes in the same breath.

    I don’t know. I think that maybe, perhaps, if I really believed in the existence of a god and had a holy book that was supposedly divinely inspired, I’d be serious as hell about taking the book literally (barring obvious metaphors and parables).

    • http://etratio.blogspot.com/ linford86

       I’m not so sure. I would say that one would want to interpret the Bible as one’s deity intended.

      On the other hand, I’m an atheist. And I don’t think we should adjudicate what the proper ways to be Christian are; let the believers tell us what they believe, and let us attack what they claim to hold to be true.

      • Coyotenose

         Almost half of the country thinks Creationism is true. Roughly half of what remains can’t decide which god-magic they think is true, but are sure that at least enough of it is true to make their opinions more special than other opinions, and often more special than facts. We are attacking what they claim to hold to be true.

      • MATT DIXON

        Well said Linford: you have stated the posture that I find to permeate the atheists mentality: attack, attack, attack!  What are you folks so angry about? If you don’t believe then don’t. But you seem to be the most hostile intolerant people I encounter.

        I have yet to find a “peaceful” atheist…or a “friendly” atheist, although that is the name of this web page.

        • Phasespace

          I have yet to find a “peaceful” atheist…or a “friendly” atheist, although that is the name of this web page.

          You make a series of passive aggressive posts oozing with religious privilege, and then you wonder why you can’t find a peaceful or friendly atheist?  Here’s the answer to your question: You need to take a long look in a mirror.

          And let’s just set the record straight here.  No one here has threatened you with violence against your person.  No one here has said that you can’t believe what you want.  The worst we have done is tell you that your beliefs are wrong and that they can be damaging as result.  That is what we are attacking.  If that is too violent or militant for you, then it is impossible for anyone of differing opinions to discuss their differences at all.   Please grow up.

        • RobertoTheChi

          ” What are you folks so angry about? If you don’t believe then don’t. But you seem to be the most hostile intolerant people I encounter.”

          Why are we so angry? Hmmm…how about we’re angry because laws are passed based on archaic religious dogma that affects everyone and don’t even get me started on all of the bigotry (homosexuals not having the rights they deserve, etc), but something tells me you already know all the reasons why we’re so “angry”. Nice try buddy.

        • http://etratio.blogspot.com/ linford86

          Well, first of all, you came here to attack us. So, at best, you’re disingenuous.

          Second, I think that your beliefs do real harm in the world.

          Third, we attack *each other*. Part of what it means to be a critical thinker is to attack ideas.

      • amycas

         How do they know how the deity intended for them to interpret it? And for that matter, why would an all-knowing all-powerful creator decide to tell people the most important things we should know in the most unreliable manner (written down in dead languages that could be edited and reinterpreted)??

        • http://etratio.blogspot.com/ linford86

           Well, that’s a good question. I’m not a believer either, so I can’t really answer you. But I’m just saying; if God actually existed and wanted to express something as a metaphor, we we should probably understand it metaphorically instead of literally.

  • http://etratio.blogspot.com/ linford86

    I don’t like the way that “Internet Atheists” are being generalised here. I’m perfectly fine discussing whatever exegesis my debate opponent wants to claim. And, frankly, a non-literal, reading of the Bible is just about as likely to be true as a literal reading of that text.

    In fact, I would claim that part of our focus should be on getting better religious education out there. Which includes a discussion of more sophisticated theologians. It may be that sophisticated theology doesn’t pose as great a threat, if any, to us, but we should be interested in furthering the intellectual claims of our community and not just the social justice issues.

    • Yukimi

      I find it funny that he clearly realises that he is a different type of christian than Ken Ham but then groups all internet atheist like we all thought the same and did the same.

    • amycas

       I see no value in “religious education” other than in explaining about the myths in which people used to believe (if only because so much or our language and literature is wrapped up in mythology).

  • http://examined-life.tumblr.com/ Iosue Elegus

    Being an atheist based primarily on philosophical issues, I can partly understand where Fred Clark is coming from.  However, especially in the U.S., where a certain strand of Christianity is grabbing for political power, and has a direct effect on U.S. politics and culture, where roughly half of U.S. Americans believe in creationism, the primary target of atheists today in the U.S. SHOULD be those Christians of a funamentalist variety. 

    Why bother with a smaller, less vocal (and less dangerous) set of Christians who espouse the theology of Tillich, Bultmann or Spong?  Yes, fundamentalism may be “low-lying fruit”–but there is much more of it around and it is having a much more direct, adverse effect on society.     

  • MegaZeusThor

    I have to take things issue by issue. I don’t believe in gods or a deity – that’s why I’m an atheist.

    Creationism is laughable, or at least it would be if it wasn’t constantly fighting to inject itself into the education system and distract from real science.

    As for super liberal Christians: if we agree on an issue, that’s great. Let’s shake on that. But let’s not ignore that fact that instead of disavowing non-sense, you back peddle and latch the remains of a shattered god figure. You use the same book as the Creationists – giving them extra legitimacy where they should find none given what we actually know at this point about the age of the universe, our galaxy, our solar system and planet.

    • Kodie

      I tend to accuse liberal Christians of creating a new religion out of some parts of the old and some parts they know are true scientifically. They are not deriving all of their beliefs from the book but they still rely on the book, the whole book, not edited sections of the book. Right in front of us, they make up new religions, they deny parts of old outdated beliefs, which only fortifies my understanding how religion is created – people making shit up as they want to.

      People who have no idea what is what outside that book are at least not demonstrating the creation of a new belief and denying that they are. Fundamentalists hold very nearly to an ancient belief without stepping outside the line, even when it’s frustratingly clear to the rest of us. Liberal Christians make up shit to suit themselves and obviously align greatly with modern living and dismiss obsolete rules. I don’t think they should believe in, say, YEC, but I think they let themselves off the hook for not being archaic, and being modern and “with it” and making a lot of excuses and changes wherever it suits their convenience. For example, we like it when churches are in favor of marriage equality, but at the same time, they’re just taking part of the book they revere and smash it to bits or mold it to their modern understanding. This doesn’t seem to stun anyone in their church to pay attention. They are all just, well, I like this menu, so this is what’s true. Obviously making shit up as they go along! If there was a god, he’d be god, fucking goddamned god! You can’t decide what feels right or wrong, he has to tell you. And they all decide what feels true or false based on feelings, and not communication.

      Yes, that’s total crap!  Liberal Christians want a lot of credit for being “truer” than obvious made up shit, but they are making up more shit than people who believe in the bible more literally.

      • MegaZeusThor

        I agree. If church goers spent a hour with other church goers from a hundred years ago (or choose your amount of decades) they might not recognize half of what the other group was talking about. It could even be the same flavour of denomination.

        This reinventing – I think it’s a group effort. Popular culture and media, including TV and films all play their part. We want a nicer, kinder God. Some of better sounding comic book explanations (excuses) seem to stick are repeated. 

        Even my notion of what “GOD” is will be different from people in the past and people in the future, even if we all agree that what we’re talking about is a fictional character. This is of course normal – my concept of Batman isn’t the same as 60′s Batman.  

      • http://annainca.blogspot.com/ Anna

        Preach it, sister! Seriously, that’s the most frustrating thing about liberal Christians. They make up their own god and then pretend that it’s the exact same god described in the Bible, when clearly their new-and-improved god is a reflection of progressive, modern, and, dare I say, secular ideals and culture.

      • Pseudonym

        Right in front of us, they make up new religions, they deny parts of old
        outdated beliefs, which only fortifies my understanding how religion is
        created – people making shit up as they want to.

        You say that like it’s a bad thing.

    • MATT DIXON

      MZT: laugh at this: the Bible has stated for over 3500 years of Hebrew history that God created mankind from two people: Adam and Eve.  Recently, the Human Genome Project conducted the highest scientific mapping of the human chromosomes and found that…mankind indeed derived from two people.

      If you would do a little research you would discover that the education system in the USA had an illiteracy rate of under .1% when run by the churches. Now after trillions of dollars and over 100 years of secular operated education, America has over 40 million illiterates and another 50 million who are functionally illiterate, nearing the rate of Zambia (that’s in Africa).

      Reason this one: the ancient Text called the Bible says that God created all things out of nothing while evolutionist say all the matter in the universe just so happened to collect in one spot, compress to the size of a golf ball and then…it just blew up!!!! Now which is the most laughable? Where did all that matter come from?

      Oh, here’s a gut ripper: all the water on the earth came from meteors and comets that crashed through the atmosphere! Let’s say each meteor/comet had 1000 gallons and weighed 10 tons…how many did it take to cover the earth with water…wouldn’t all of that weight have spun the earth farther out into space?  How did they all get past the great space vacuum cleaner, Jupiter?

      Man, this is just too funny…and serious scientist s say this stuff on t.v.!

      • Blacksheep

        Atheists that I know suspend logic as much as they accuse Christians of doing when it comes to creation. I recently watched a PBS special on the origin of the universe. They literally explained the beginning of the universe as “popping into existence – somehow – we’re not sure how.”

        • MegaZeusThor

          Understand that “I don’t know” is much better answer than “a Magic man did it.”

          Science is a methodology. “Scientific method is a body of techniques for investigating phenomena, acquiring new knowledge, or correcting and integrating previous knowledge.”

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_method 

          Ancient books may be interesting, but to progress we need to update our information.

        • The Other Weirdo

           You mean, they weren’t afraid to say they didn’t have those answers instead of simply making shit up like religious people do when confronted with the same problem of knowing having an asswer?

      • MegaZeusThor

        Please note that Mitochondrial “Eve” was NOT a contemporary of Y-chromosomal “Adam”: 

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mitochondrial_Eve#Not_a_contemporary_of_.22Adam.22

        Biologists study evolution; physicists and cosmetologists might study to the origin of the universe. I don’t think you have a firm grasp of what either of these fields have to say about their subjects.

      • Glasofruix

          the Human Genome Project conducted the highest scientific mapping of the
        human chromosomes and found that…mankind indeed derived from two
        people.

        Sources please. Mankind evolved from apes, it’s a fact, but not just two of them. Also, if you look up incest and consanguinty you’ll also see down syndrome attached to those practices.

        If you would do a little research you would discover that the education
        system in the USA had an illiteracy rate of under .1% when run by the
        churches.

        Again, sources please. Just pulling figures out of your ass does not make them true.

        Reason this one: the ancient Text called the Bible says that God created
        all things out of nothing while evolutionist say all the matter in the
        universe just so happened to collect in one spot, compress to the size
        of a golf ball and then…it just blew up!!!! Now which is the most
        laughable?

        So everything from nothing is a plausible explanation and something from something else is not, wow. You’re much more retarded than i thought.

        Oh, here’s a gut ripper: all the water on the earth came from meteors
        and comets that crashed through the atmosphere! Let’s say each
        meteor/comet had 1000 gallons and weighed 10 tons…how many did it take
        to cover the earth with water…wouldn’t all of that weight have spun
        the earth farther out into space?  How did they all get past the great
        space vacuum cleaner, Jupiter?

        Oh my, please somebody shoot him, this man is obviously suffering from an extreme case of idiocy. I can just recommend thet you read some books about astronomy.

      • Earl G.

        How did they all get past the great space vacuum cleaner, Jupiter?And this is how we know you are the most ridiculous troll to have ever graced these pages.  You haven’t even passed first grade astronomy.

  • Guest

    If atheists wish to quote Ken Ham, then I think it’s fair for anyone else to quote Bill Maher, whose own lack of understanding of a subject he has defined himself by attacking is enough set human cognitive development back a million years, and who by comparison makes Ken Ham seem like Isaac Newton.  Oh, and to keep it real, it’s fair to go after Maher because so many atheists appear to cheer him and even quote him and his works as if they are something other than the intellectual embarrassments that they are.

    • Gus Snarp

      I don’t much like Bill Maher, but to suggest he makes Ken ham seem like Isaac Newton? I’m sorry, Bill Maher, for all his faults, is far more scientifically literate than Ken Ham.

      Oh, and if you can pick a specific, demonstrable falsehood that Bill Maher advocates and demonstrate that 46% of Americans believe it, then you might have a point. The most glaring scientific falsehood Bill Maher has advocated is alternative medicine and anti-vaccination propaganda. Find me evidence of any significant number of atheists quoting and cheering him on that. I’ll wait. OK, find ONE. Keep looking.

      • Tainda

        I admit I’m a die-hard Maher lover.  Watch his show every Friday it’s on, have seen him live and of course own Religulous.

        His stance on vaccinations makes me SICK and I gripe about it every time he brings it up.  

        • Glasofruix

          Hasn’t he changed his mind about that? I’m sure i’ve heard about that somewhere.

    • Guest

      Bill Maher isn’t making multiple ignorant claims about (this is not an exhaustive list): geology, abiogenesis, cosmology, evolution, history, etc etc ad nauseum. You can attack Bill Maher for the things that he has actually said that are stupid, like anti-vaccination, but to compare him to the imbecile Ken Ham is fatuous.

    • Patterrssonn

      I have potatos in my garden that aren’t dumb enough to make Ken Ham look like Newton.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mike-De-Fleuriot/611844223 Mike De Fleuriot

    The Mythical Moderates, use the same books

  • Lagerbaer

    It’s simple: If you reject all (atheist view) or accept all (creationist view), you are not cherry-picking. Everything in between requires contrived justifications: Why is genesis a metaphor, but Jesus’ resurrection really happened?

    • http://etratio.blogspot.com/ linford86

      Well, it depends. One way to look at this without cherry picking is to ask how the community which wrote the text of Genesis likely viewed it and what they understood themselves to be doing and how that differs from the community that produced the four Gospels. If the former community understood what they were doing as metaphor (and I’m not saying that they did), then there is a sense in which the proper understanding of the text is as metaphor. But to show this, one needs to appeal to historical and anthropological work and to reach an abductive conclusion (i.e. given the known facts, what is the best explanation to explain those facts?)

      I want to point out an additional thing that a text can do. A text can actually be both literal and metaphorical at the same time. How? Consider the movie/play “Inherit the Wind”. Superficially, this is a historical drama about the Scopes trial. How accurate it actually is is debatable. Nonetheless, the authors were really trying to express issues concerning McCarthyism. So, that production actually has two simultaneous meanings.

      A friend of mine wrote a song which is simultaneously about a guy abusing a girl, coal mining in Southern Virginia (and the associated mountain top removal), and the persecution/exploitation of Native Americans. It features a personification of coal (a woman with dark black hair) who features into all three roles *at the same time*.

      Art often has multiple meanings that are intended by the artist.

      I see no reason why Biblical authors couldn’t have had several meanings in mind while producing their text, some metaphorical and some literal.

    • Pseudonym

      So let me give you an alternative interpretation.

      The claim that all of the Bible is 100% literal journalistic/historical/scientific truth is a claim about all of the evidence. A single story which didn’t happen, a single character who didn’t exist, a single claim about nature which is historically inaccurate would break this claim completely. As such, this claim carries a very high burden of proof.

      The claim that the Bible is 100% inaccurate is also a claim about all of the evidence. Non-existent people don’t say things or do things, so even one saying, deed or story which is better explained by it having happened than by it not having happened breaks this claim completely. So this clain also carries a very high burden of proof.

      The claim that some of it is accurate (to varying degrees) and some of it isn’t is a claim about some of the evidence. As such, it carries a very low burden of proof. It should come as no surprise that this is the position of pretty much every historian of the Ancient Near East.

  • Evee

    wait what 46%? Seriously?
    I mean I knew people believed that but almost half of the U,S? 
    I guess my experience of this is skewed because I live in NYC? I didn’t think this was THAT prevalent. I mean where the hell do they think the early hominid skeletons came from? 
    I just…This is very depressing. I don’t even know anymore. 

    • http://annainca.blogspot.com/ Anna

      Yes, it’s pretty shocking. I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, and I never met anyone who denied evolution until college. And even then it was just one person. We’ve both been “blessed” geographically, for sure. I can’t even imagine what it must be like living in areas where this sort of thing is the norm.

    • http://www.facebook.com/abb3w Arthur Byrne

      Kinda-sorta-seriously, but with some slight inaccuracy.

      The Gallup poll standard question only gives three options. This appears to result in Old-Earth and Young Earth creationists being lumped in together, along with Intelligent Design and Theistic Evolution types being lumped in together. (I base this conclusion on the the five-response Ohio-specific poll from the Cleveland Plain Dealer in 2002, compared to the Gallup national numbers from within a year or so.) As such, it seems more likely that only about 30% that are YEC, and another 15% or so that are Old-Earth. (Filling out the picture: circa 15% ID, 25% TE, and 15% Atheist Evolution.)

      30% nationally isn’t much of an improvement, however.

      And, yes, your experience may be somewhat skewed by living in NYC. The GSS is a fun toy for looking at that sort of thing. The YEC/OEC beliefs are much more common in the South than in the Northeast, and in rural areas than urban.

  • http://www.facebook.com/chrisalgoo Chris Algoo

    As atheists, you all know that the Bible is riddled with
    inconsistencies. It’s therefore impossible to take the whole book
    literally, no matter how hard you claim to – two contradictory things
    can’t both be true. Since all theists cherrypick anyway, it would be
    good to ally with the good ones, the ones who cherrypick the
    passages about love and kindness. They could be friends and allies, if they aren’t pushed away.

  • MATT DIXON

    I would like to have an on-site debate with as many of you atheists as will put your money where your faith is. I can easily prove that Jesus Christ is alive and well….take me up on this?

    Let’s all travel to the Democratic Republic of the Congo for 1 week. While there, I’ll take half the group with me and we’ll hang out with a bunch of local born-again Christians and the rest of  you hang out with a bunch of local  atheists…or just any old group you find hanging around…don’t worry, they’ll find you, day or night.

    After 1 week,  we’ll be waiting at the airport to compare notes.

    • Kodie
    • RobertoTheChi

      Holy christ on a flaming crutch! It is seriously like a child (a simple one at that) wrote that. Thanks for the good laughs though, although I don’t know whether I should be laughing or quaking in fear that there are people on this earth that actually think the way you do.

      • Blacksheep

        I understand that you disagree with Matt – but what he’s saying about comparing real people in places like the Congo holds water. I’ve had similar experiences. You can say that the believers are delusional, and that their peaceful, loving spirits are the result of trickery and brainwashing – but you cannot ignore the evidence that something powerful that actually changes peoples lives is at play. It’s an observable phenomeneon, not sure why you would say it’s laughable or childlike.

        • Kodie

          Holds no water. If you convince someone something is true still doesn’t prove that there is powerful change due to that imaginary thing. The belief in the imaginary thing can be powerful enough to the imagination of people at their most desperate, but that still doesn’t prove Jesus is real and a movement in their lives or improvements therein. Would you say, in the Disney cartoon, that it was actually the feather that made Dumbo fly or Dumbo’s belief in the feather that allowed him to use his goddamned ears? And as much as his ears could help him fly, when he dropped the feather, he stopped using his ears. Doesn’t mean the feather ever had any power in his flight, and if he had been taught to fly without it, he could always fly without it. Jesus isn’t real, you get it? Atheists could help people without adding Jesus and they’d be just as helped, but Christians believe it is Jesus and make it a point to convert people in need in order to get help from them. Neither the giver nor the receiver proves Jesus is real or helped them improve. 

        • Guest

          OK, let’s put it this way: Muslims do all kinds of nice things for one another, as do Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, etc. This is not proof that all those religions are true. Your buddy Matt here is saying that the only possible explanation for the people he references being loving and peaceful is that Jesus is real and is working through them. That is nonsense. People treating others decently is not proof of a deity.

          • The Captain

            What this guy said! ^^

        • ImRike

           You know what? I know several gay couples that you might want to spend some time with (though they might not agree to let you…). Their peaceful, loving spirits are definitely not the result of trickery or brainwashing, and something powerful actually changed their lives when they got legally married! It’s an observable phenomenon and I wonder what you would say about that?

    • ImRike

       Goodness, DIXON, are you suffering from Alzheimer’s? I don’t know how many times now you’ve said the very same thing (about traveling to the Congo) almost word for word in this thread! It doesn’t matter how often you say it, it’s not proof of anything.

    • amycas

       Are there actually atheist groups in the Congo? I’ve never heard of any. In fact a few of the worst groups I’ve heard of from that part of the world all espouse some sort of belief in a god.

  • dantresomi

    I agree Mehta… this Ken Ham fool has billboards all up 75 with “the wise dragon” (yes a friggin’ dragon) as an exhibit at the Creation Museum. And no one bats an eye! except we atheists, of course. 

  • Kimpatsu

    surely the point about the Bible (certainly the OT) is that its various authors believed they were indeed recording history. Modern liberal Xians are in fact reinterpreting the stories in light of what we now know scientifically, but Soapy Sam opposed Darwin in the 19th century precisely because Darwin’s theory disagreed with Biblical literalism. Modern liberal Xians are being disingenuous.

  • The Captain

    [CLAP] [CLAP] [CLAP] LETS HERE IT FOR MATT DIXON EVERYONE [CLAP][CLAP] COMIC RELIEF OF THE DAY

  • PostBibleCollegeAtheist

    I am a fairly fresh face to atheism.  As you can collect from the name I post under I am, however, not new to Ken Ham and his odd-ball ideas of creation.  I grew up in a town going to a church about 40 miles from the well known “Creation Museum” I went there as a kid(I’d say about 9) before it was completed.  My parents, my community donated money to make it the monster it is today.  In fact I live in the town directly north of where they plan to construct the Ark Experience or whatever the hell its going by now.

    I have for a majority of my life, even when I was a pretty firm believer in the existence of a god, been against what they stood for and what they teach.  As a christian and going to a bible college in Tennessee I got quite a bit of negative feedback when I told people I did not agree with what Answers in Genesis was doing.  But it wasn’t necessarily because I didn’t believe in what they believed in.  I did have a different opinion of what creation meant though.  I believed in old world creation: billions of years, single cells evolving into flora and fauna, and the completely fucked up view that god intervened in natural selection to produce human beings.

    My beef with Answers was this, you have a belief system based on faith.  Faith is agreeable among Christians(and likewise), to believe in something that can’t possibly be true.  Knowing there is no possible way for the creation “theory” to be true but being completely convinced by yourself it is true is what faith is all about.  But having faith was not enough for these people.  They feel that a god will not be pleased unless they go against him in professing that it is undoubtedly true and based on scientific evidence.  Which obviously cannot happen because there is no scientific evidence.  So not only is it that they have a very literal and closed minded view of “God’s word” they are faithless and lie.   But try telling that to a bunch of 20-something sheltered home conservatives at a bible college.

  • Keulan

    I posted a comment on Fred Clark’s blog about this. I basically said that I (as an atheist) don’t regard the Bible as Truth(TM), so the various metaphorical/allegorical interpretations of the text are all equally silly to me. Like any other work of fiction, I read what’s in the text literally, and I’m critical of the actual literal text of the Bible because so many people in this country actually think it’s the Truth(TM). I may not have worded it as clearly in my comment on Fred Clark’s blog as I did here, but that’s the gist of what I meant.

    • Pseudonym

      At least some of the Bible is pretty clearly intentionally metaphorical/allegorical. The Book of Job is a good example. So is Genesis 1-3. I can buy that you would think it silly for modern people to base their life around it, but the idea that trying to actually understand an ancient anthology of eclectic literary works, especially one of huge historical importance,  is “silly”… that seems just a bit anti-intellectual to me.

      Part of Fred Clark’s point is that while Ken Ham is not a straw man (he really does exist, after all), and hence you’re right to be critical of him, his position is very new, historically speaking. Christian fundamentalism is a 20th century phenomenon, and was a reaction to the liberal reforms of the 19th century. YEC really only dates back to the 1950s.

      Some atheists really do seem to think that Ken Ham is “right” in a way that mainstream or liberal Christians are not. When people ask what is “new” about the “new atheists”, picking the Christian fundamentalist side in theological debate (let alone getting involved in theological debate!) seems like a good candidate.

  • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/FDGYHBEWVNGUG763L5X4TON3JQ Nazani14

     I was born in ’52, lived in 4 different states, had Catholic and Protestant relatives, and still never heard about the YEC bit until I was in my late 20s.  When I did, I asked why anyone, outside of his particular sect, would pay any attention to Bishop Usher’s calculations.  I asked why they weren’t concerned that Usher used pagan sources in his calculations.  Never got any good answers.

  • Oliver Kent

    the only credible position is that the Bible is true in all it says or it is not. I think Ken Ham is doing a great work standing for the truth of Biblical Creation may God bless him and his ministry

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=553145445 Gordon Duffy

       luckily that position is incredible, even to many christians.

  • Robyn Holder

    Since the whole bible and koran and talmud are just stories ie fiction, I guess people can really take out and use whichever bits they want to believe. But they shouldn’t then use the bits they like as proof of god or rules for everyone else to follow.

  • Tim

    Since you are a math teacher, you know the importance of terms and definitions. There is not a logical conversation to be made with someone else about Christianity unless both parties begin with the same definition. Same application is made by Israel whenever a peace-talk is proposed: Both parties MUST accept the legitimacy of the nation Israel before any talking can take place OR it is a waste of time.


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