Christian Apologist Josh McDowell Is Clearly Running Out of Ways to Keep His Brand of Faith Alive

There’s no doubt Christians are threatened by atheists. We challenge their views, our demographics are growing, we just make more sense… but I don’t think some Christians really understand what they’re fighting against.

Famed apologist Josh McDowell made news a couple of years ago when he warned Christians that the Internet was coming after their children:

“The Internet has given atheists, agnostics, skeptics, the people who like to destroy everything that you and I believe, the almost equal access to your kids as your youth pastor and you have… whether you like it or not,” said McDowell…

It’s not like we’re kidnapping them and forcing them to stop believing against their will. We’re only popping the Faith Bubble and asking the questions they’re not used to hearing in church.

The truth is, if Christianity did a better job of equipping children to deal with challenges to their faith, the Internet wouldn’t be a problem. But there’s really no defense against anti-gay bigotry and anti-science beliefs and anti-women stances.

Over the weekend, McDowell spoke at the National Conference on Christian Apologetics and doubled-down on his wacky ideas.

He’s still blaming the Internet for somehow harming children of Christian parents:

“Every pastor, youth pastor, and every parent is in competition with the Internet and the information it is spreading,” said McDowell. “Most young people don’t get their news from CNN or CBS, they get it from bloggers. There are about 181 million bloggers vying for the attention of your children.”

The unlimited amount of online information that people have access to has caused an increase in skepticism that will only continue to become more pervasive, says McDowell.

To which I say:

The 181,000,000 is a tad high, but McDowell is wrong about something more important: The access to all the online information doesn’t (generally) lead to skepticism about all ideas, only bad ideas. The truth has a better chance of emerging when all the viewpoints are out there, not when you’re sheltered and only hearing what your pastor wants you to hear. If Christianity is losing that battle, it’s not the Internet’s fault.

McDowell went on about one of the most damaging effects of the Internet: It causes kids to — *gasp* — ask questions!

… “Fifteen to 20 years ago, the questions that you used to hear at universities about faith, Jesus and the Bible, about skepticisms, questioning what you believe in; questions that you used to hear in the last two years of college are now being asked by 10- and 11-year-olds. It’s coming all right down through Facebook.”

Can you believe it? Kids who are old enough to think about the Big Questions… are actually thinking about them! We should welcome that! I thought the mutual enemy here was apathy, not engagement. But I guess I understand where McDowell’s coming from — if you lose every fight you’re in, it makes sense you don’t want more people challenging you.

Plus, it’s all the more embarrassing when your arguments are taken down, not by college students, but by pre-teens.

But none of that was as bad as McDowell’s next point: The Internet allows people to watch pornography… and that’s the Worst. Thing. Ever.

Have you ever heard of the slippery slope fallacy? Well, get ready, because here’s a textbook definition:

… McDowell emphasized that young people are increasingly becoming addicted to pornography, adding that it is the greatest threat to the body of Christ in 2,000 years.

“The average person starts with heterosexual sex then after a while, that no longer satisfies, then there’s anal, from anal there’s oral, from oral to homo, from homo to bestiality then to children,” said McDowell.

He continued, “The sad thing is, after child pornography doesn’t satisfy, where do you go? Pornography is why sex-trafficking, sex abuse and rape are major issues, they (addicts) end up living it out, it becomes a reality.”

What the hell…?

Heterosexual sex leads to anal sex (which, someone should point out to him, is a form of heterosexual sex) which leads to oral sex (which should probably show up earlier in this sequence) which leads to “homo” (which makes little sense to me because I don’t think most straight guys are “working their way up” to gay porn) which leads to bestiality (Huh?) which leads to children (?!?!?!).

I just have one question: What fucked-up pool of people is McDowell getting his “average person” from?

There’s no room in his brain for the possibility that porn isn’t damaging, or that couples might even watch it together, or that porn prevents some of the very things he’s most worried about.

(Yes, porn can be damaging for some people, but that sort of nuance is beyond the grasp of McDowell’s reach.)

When it comes down to it, what McDowell is most worried about is that he can no longer keep young Christians in a box. He knows that his brand of evangelical Christianity can only succeed in a vacuum. When pastors are challenged, and other people have good answers to life’s biggest questions, and you meet people who are happy and kind and confident and non-Christian, the mythology gives way to reality.

McDowell can’t deal with that. He’s an old magician who’s been doing the same show for decades. Now, the Internet has exposed and unveiled his entire bag of tricks and no one’s paying attention to him anymore. He doesn’t know how to cope with it.

All he has left is Fear. And those scare tactics won’t last much longer, either.

(Thanks to Nancy for the link)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the chair of Foundation Beyond Belief and a high school math teacher in the suburbs of Chicago. He began writing the Friendly Atheist blog in 2006. His latest book is called The Young Atheist's Survival Guide.

  • Coraulten

    Clearly this guys is an idiot. Everyone knows Kids come before bestiality :p.

    • momtarkle

      And he totally ignores masturbation! What a dope.

    • C.L. Honeycutt

      Kids? What, like baby goats?

    • phantomreader42

      I’d point out that sadism and necrophilia come after bestiality, but that would be beating a dead horse…

  • KMR

    What I don’t get is this worry. Or maybe it’s better to say that I get the worry that McDowell feels but why doesn’t he understand how ridiculous it is for him, a man of such huge faith, to have it? He supposedly worships this big awesome God who is the three o’s and his comments seem to say to me that this God isn’t going to handle this perceived problem of his. And if God isn’t going to handle it then why should he, a mere human care. Maybe it’s God’s will we all drop religion, that some people view porn occasionally, that 10 year olds learn to critically think (hell my six year old recently asked me who made God and where does he live and how does that work exactly. At this point she’s a theist. I’m pretty confident she’ll drop it.). Why the fuck do I have to hear him and his co-horts constantly raise the alarm about the most asinine stuff ad nauseam? If his God doesn’t like it, I would assume that his all powerful self will correct it. I guess McDowell’s answer will be that it will be corrected, you know during the end times when we all go to that tropical paradise that Christians term as hell. Well great then. Nothing I can do about it, nothing you can do about it, apparently it’s all set in stone that we screw up so shut up.
    Sorry for the rant. The holidays are coming up and I’ll have to hear a lot of this very same shit (interspersed in between rants about gays) and I’m already dreading it. And I can’t even drink a lot to get through it since God for some damn reason hates alcohol. Although Jesus drank it so for the life of me I can’t get where they pull that from (sigh).

    • SeekerLancer

      I’ve heard the excuse from them that Jesus wouldn’t drink alcohol today and that he only drank it at that time because alcohol was made in part to purify the drinking water.

      To which I say; you think Jesus would’ve just turned water into clean water instead of turning it into wine then. But I guess that wouldn’t have made for a good story even though Jesus would’ve been a lot more convincing today if he was teaching his followers about germ theory two-thousand years ago.

      And I’m going to be spending the holidays with my girlfriend’s family in Texas (we are both out of the closet atheists) this year so I feel you.

    • ZeldasCrown

      I think this is about the time they usually pull out something about “free will” as to why God doesn’t correct all these problems you raise. Which seems a little like entrapment to me, but whatever.

      But, I agree that if one’s ideas are really sound, there’s nothing to fear from scrutiny. If one’s religion is strong and infallible, there’s nothing to fear from the internet. If one’s religion falls apart at the slightest questioning, then, yes, there’s a lot to fear from the internet. This guy is basically just whining that his church can’t keep it’s claws into kids for as long as it used to (they used to get about 18 unquestioning years;now they’re only getting 10-12).

    • C Peterson

      Most people “of faith” know that their beliefs are batshit crazy. Theism and religion make no sense, and that is patently obvious to anybody who even gives the matter a modicum of thought. So when your whole sense of self (usually because of a poor upbringing) depends on faith, you walk a narrow path defined by fear and denial. For people like this, open access to discussion and information is very, very scary. Because they know- consciously or otherwise- where that leads.

      • momtarkle

        CP, I must respond to what you say in your first two sentences. In them you generalize that billions of earth’s residents know that their beliefs are batshit crazy and that their theism and religion make no sense. Really? Wouldn’t people who think that their beliefs are crazy change those beliefs? If they know that something makes no sense, wouldn’t they change their thinking about that thing?

        There is a We and a They issue here, regarding beliefs. I think that you are mistaken to classify the Theys as idiots because they do not (yet?) believe as we Wes.

        • C Peterson

          I stand my my assertion. Indeed, the religious beliefs of billions of the Earth’s residents are batshit crazy. Their religion makes no sense. It has no- absolutely zero- foundation in reality. It isn’t supported by even the thinnest thread of evidence. More often than not, it demands belief in the demonstrably false.

          Most don’t change because they are raised to treat their religion as unquestionable truth. Those that actually do question often lose their religion. But most never examine their beliefs closely.

          • momtarkle

            Will you at least allow me to assume that your assertions are “IMHO”, maybe without the H?

            I think that religion is a mental condition, IMHO, malevolent. Atheism, using that reasoning, is also a mental condition. We think that it is benevolent. Not everyone agrees.

            • C Peterson

              All my assertions are opinions. In a forum like this, which is almost entirely opinion, it hardly seems necessary to qualify every statement with that disclaimer!

              I also think religion is a mental condition. I wouldn’t use the term malevolent, but I do think the condition is usually harmful to the individual, and even more so to society. I disagree that atheism can really be called a condition, however, benevolent or otherwise.

    • Name

      where does it say god hates alcohol?

      • KMR

        It doesn’t. That’s my point.

        • Kodie

          I’m not absolutely sure, but it makes sense for some to regard alcohol as sinful. For one thing, it messes up your thoughts, at least temporarily. It certainly makes one more comfortable and less conscientious. To some this is as much of a danger as anything, to lose your capacity for rigid uptight rules they have to follow and make slight allowances. Drinking just leads to losing your way and sinning even more.

          Then there is the obvious – falling into addictive behavior and ruining your life and your family. Drinking makes some people sullen and others enraged. It leads to gambling and makes you forget to come home until dawn because you passed out in a gutter. That kind of stuff, also leading to harder things. Hardly the best image for an upstanding righteous reverence for the lord and all things he provides, etc.

          Anyway, a lot of it is kind of true! And a lot of it seems superstitious. Ya know, if you can’t hold your liquor, if you’re afraid you won’t know when to stop, this signals to me just a fear of how far things can go off the path, if you’re religious. It’s not exactly that alcohol is forbidden, but certain sects probably forbid it on grounds of avoiding the trap of being inebriated and messing up your salvation while under the influence. It’s almost as if the devil invented it just to get you to do things Jesus hates.

          • KMR

            Sure! I get the distrust of alcohol. But prohibition of it is not mandated in the Bible. Use rational discussions to discuss the problem with imbibing, not religious ones. The religious ones don’t hold any water.

  • C Peterson

    I just have one question: What fucked-up pool of people is McDowell getting his “average person” from?

    Obviously, this can only come from the pool he himself swims in. Which makes him a pretty scary guy, even without all his crazy religious beliefs. You wouldn’t want to leave him alone with your kids, that’s for sure!

    • SeekerLancer

      Yes, every time I hear some of those extremely bizarre slippery-slope arguments I can’t help but wonder if they’re speaking in-part from personal experience. I can’t understand how someone can make connections that daft otherwise.

    • keddaw

      Or your pets…

      • diogeneslamp0

        Ruh roh!

      • C.L. Honeycutt

        Or your plants and candy bars.

        • Sweetredtele

          What an adult does with stinging nettles and kit kat is their own business.

          • C.L. Honeycutt

            Not when they’re your housemates, it’s not!

            http://www.desura.com/members/moxbestro/videos/christopher-walken

            • baal

              I’m playing the link — and dying laughing here.
              The bit feels like way too many of the discussions we have with the various antis.

              • C.L. Honeycutt

                I think that, “Well… what do most people say?” is the crowning gem of a great piece of work.

        • Stev84

          There is really nothing they won’t sexualize.

        • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

          Especially your *cough* plants, but munchies? Dude, munchies were meant to be shared!

    • highnosethehighway

      Wow, what an intelligent and scientific deduction..you are genius man!

    • jdm8

      Maybe their own depraved minds? Somehow it’s usually the very conservative areas that have these reports of bestiality happening.

      I recall Bill Maher once made it a point of saying he’s been very perverted for a long time, but never had any inclination of getting sexual with animals.

    • Drew Baye

      Or your pets, apparently.

  • http://abb3w.livejournal.com/ abb3w

    The truth is, the Internet doesn’t give any inherent advantage to atheists over Christians. Both have equal opportunity to use it to promulgate their ideas, with both TalkOrigins and AnswersInGenesis available to see.

    And if the questions coming from today’s ten-and-eleven-year-olds were being asked by college graduates 20 years back, then that implies the Christians have had 20 years to try and come up with solid answers. If the likes of Ken Ham’s team is the best they’ve produced, that would appear to indicate an actual weakness in their position.

    • jontv

      Yes, and there’s no question that Christians are using the Internet to successfully spread their ideas as well. It’s very easy for people to just seek out information that they already agree with. If atheism is winning the battle for minds on the Internet, that would seem to suggest that atheists have arguments worth listening to.

      • highnosethehighway

        No, they are simply more compelling to the postmodernist worldview…and to those who have already decided God is dead…

        • FaithIsGlorifiedDelusion

          …or not.

        • jontv

          Perhaps. But all worldviews come with assumptions. Postmodernism is not some kind of evil plot, just an attempt to describe the world and society we live in. I don’t think religious principles are wholly irrelevant, but they do have their roots in a period of human history that’s very different from the contemporary. It’s a challenge to make a set of rules from 2000-4000 years ago relevant, but it’s hard for the faithful to admit that when they are hung up on the “word of God”, absolute/eternal truth assumption.

        • Pappy

          “God is dead” presupposes the existence of your god. I don’t believe Sasquatch is dead because I never thought it existed.

          • rtanen

            “God is dead” seems to be used as code for “Worship of my religion’s god is going away”.

          • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

            “God is Dead” is a fucking awesome song.

            http://youtu.be/uMa2ga8gqEw

          • highnosethehighway

            You are missing the point. I’m using the “God is dead” argument as a generic position for all anti-supernatural postures. But yes, any opportunity is good for repeating ad-nauseam the same old cliches.

            • Pappy

              Sort of like how all the apologists repeat the same cliches in an effort to convert me, even though they’ve been repeatedly debunked?

              • highnosethehighway

                Debunked? It’s only in the eye of the beholder. Dawkins and Hitchens have been debunked many times by either WLC or John Lennox…but the skeptics would always say it’s been the other way around…I respect the agnostics but not the self defeating atheist position.

        • jontv

          Who is “we”?

    • http://CoffeeShopAtheist.com/blog Patrick

      Christians have had around 1850 years to come up with answers. And none of them are good ones.

      • highnosethehighway

        “And none of them are good ones.”…..not good ones? Or simply not adequate to your pre-conceived worldview?

        • Scott_In_OH

          Not good ones. Thanks for asking.

        • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

          Feel free to provide an answer from Christianity, or any religion you like, that adequately and verifiably explains anything better than answer from science.

          Just one.

          • highnosethehighway

            I follow the “Non-overlapping magisteria” rule. To each his own.

        • Pappy

          Look! It’s someone who reads apologetics! Have you finished Lee Strobel’s book yet, or did you just take a break to come online and school us on our anti-supernatural bias?

          • highnosethehighway

            Oh, you are one of those who feel sarcasm is the best argument? Conversely I could say: Look! It’s someone who reads Dawkins, Dennett and Harris! Are you gonna school me now on my supernatural bias?

            • baal

              Recognizing that you believe in the supernatural is a step on the road to recovery. The stronger believers will deny that belief in god is belief in a supernatural entity (not that they can ever show him in nature but that’s secondary).

              • highnosethehighway

                By recognizing I believe in the supernatural I’m just being consistent with your atheist worldview. Where’s the problem? God is certainly above and beyond the natural world. Duh!!!

            • Pappy

              Actually, I’ve never read any of their books. I find them tedious.

              • highnosethehighway

                Me too…LOL!

        • baal

          No, the apologetics suck. I’ve bothered to pay attention to more WLC than is healthy for a person. This has lead me to conclude that unless you’re still believing what you were taught as a child (or have some sort of emotional hole that religion fits into) you simply don’t become a believer.

          As far as I can tell, the real effect of christian apologetics is to provide mental ruts or social pressure to keep wavering christians in-line.

          • highnosethehighway

            Perhaps your conclusion is based on your own experience? Any research done to conclude categorically such a thing? Lots of people have embraced christianity due to apologetical outreach…but yes, I do admit that a christian upbringing makes it a lot more easier….

        • C.L. Honeycutt

          You’re rather demonstrating the point by complaining that someone noticed that the Emperor has no clothes.

          And interesting that you’d complain about sarcasm after making a post like this, though sadly unsurprising.

          • baal

            CL stop refreshing your page to see where the newest comments are ;p.

            • C.L. Honeycutt

              NO U

              DISQUS only shows the newest five in the sidebar, which sort of limits my options. I do readthroughs, and stuff pops up while I do. :P I’d prefer to be able to see a list of simply relatively recent conversations, but I never receive updates in a timely fashion, grrr.

              Plus I’m trying really hard to find an excuse to not go run errands.

  • Tainda

    A good parent teaches their children to form their own opinions and think for themselves. I feel sorry for them that bloggers and we evil doers on the intarwebs are teaching THEIR children that.

  • SeekerLancer

    The Internet provides a completely level playing field with an unfiltered marketplace of ideas. If your idea sinks instead of swims the opposition likely has a more convincing argument.

  • Sajanas

    Really, this is only Christianity’s own fault. They keep discussion of all the big, difficult questions shut up in adult study groups, and even then, if you ask too many hard questions, you get shown the door. The trick is that not everyone was brave enough to ask in the first place. If Christianity is going to continue, its not going to be able to take its ability to do easy indoctrination for granted.

    • closetatheist

      I asked why we were sharing explicit and sensational stories about other people’s personal lives during “prayer time” and was kicked out of the group…This is what typically happens to someone who is “disruptive.” No one even bothered to make sense of the question, the question alone was proof of a negative personality which would not be tolerated.

  • R Bonwell parker

    Yeah, really the only thing I have a problem with is his assertion that people try anal before oral. His wife must have been pissed. But as for the rest of it—the atheists are coming for your children, you can’t protect them from the outside world—I think he’s got a point, and he’s right to be scared… a lot of the most aggressive atheists grew up Christian, they know all your clever little tricks to convert people.

    • keddaw

      “His wife must have been pissed.”

      Yes, alcohol often plays a part in sexual experimentation.

      • baal

        oh. I took it literally.

        • Cafeeine

          Taking it literally would imply golden showers, and I am curious that this doesn’t show up in McDowell’s list of deviancy.

          • Bob1955

            Does not show up in the list because they are already allowed…….since Jimmy Swaggart (note: I’m a Christian but could not help it!)

  • Art_Vandelay

    If they had any decent answers, perhaps they wouldn’t be so threatened by questions.

    • badgerchild

      So stealing this.

  • FaithIsGlorifiedDelusion

    It is indeed difficult for professional christian apologists to understand atheists when their livelihoods depend on them not understanding atheists.

    • phantomreader42

      I’m curious, has there ever been an instance where any apologist convinced anyone of anything other than the fact that apologists are stupid liars?
      No, shoring up the delusions of the gullible does not count as convincing anyone of anything, since they already believed what they were told.

      • Artor

        Someone dropped this line on me,”In fact, there is more historical evidence for the murder and resurrection of Christ than there is for evolution.”
        I LOL’ed.

        • FaithIsGlorifiedDelusion

          My response to that would be: “Bro, not only do you not even history, you don’t even science, either.”

      • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B5OWRRJh-PI&list=FLYJP3MjZQ-BJugrvyegfQ7Q&index=1&feature=plpp_video Alberto Knox

        and that is a viable business model as well. Just ask Rupert Murdoch.

      • curtcameron

        The role of the apologist is to convince the people who are already believers, that their beliefs are actually supported, so that they don’t need to go look for themselves.

        Apologists are not even trying to convince us atheists, that’s not their goal.

    • PaulDouglas1

      Upton Sinclair?

  • R Rose

    Sounds like the man is still holding a grudge because anyone on an Internet board with a little logic and chewing gum can dismantle his books in about 15 minutes…and they have.

    • Artor

      I have come to reason logically and chew gum…and I’m all out of gum!

  • Jim Charlotte

    “from anal there’s oral” So McDowell likes ATM pron? Yeah, they might all do that in the videos but good luck getting ATM IRL.

  • Oranje

    Sounds like there’s a silent epidemic of priests abusing animals.

    In other news, I never want McDowell anywhere near any kind of planning for a sex ed curriculum. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go back to flipping through a porn catalogue to find a good anniversary gift for my partner.

    • MyScienceCanBeatUpYourGod

      Your opening line was a joke I assume, but it occurs to me that animals are even less likely to come forward and accuse their assailants…

      • baal

        I think animals are mostly safe unless the parish has a dog or if they keep a donkey on site for various ‘entering the city’ reenactments.

        • islandbrewer

          …keep a donkey on site for various ‘entering the city’ reenactments.

          Parish donkey shows? And that’s the first I’ve heard the phrase “entering the city” in that way.

          • baal

            My greek is bad. Jesus may have ridden an ass into the city.

            Mathew @ 21 or so (totally legal at that age!).

            • Ron

              That’s the scene from Bareback Jerusalem, isn’t it?

  • arensb

    [pornography] is the greatest threat to the body of Christ in 2,000 years.

    Okay, just what is Christ doing to his body while watching porn? Or don’t I want to know? Either way, I think he’s doing it wrong.

    • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

      Maybe that’s where we go after child porn. Necrophilia. He’s worried that people are going to jack off to dead Jesus.

      • kagekiri

        Wait, isn’t “jacking off to dead Jesus” just called “Sunday worship service”?

        • arensb

          I’ve seen signs in front of churches that say “Everyone is welcome to come” or “Come one, come all”. I didn’t realize that was what they meant.

          • baal

            Joy to the world
            The lord is come
            let earth receive her king

            • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

              Oh, well that’s a little pagan-sounding, there! And suggestive, considering how many mythologies have anthropomorphic deities or deities that essentially are their realm of influence, such as Mother Earth figures, and Sky King (or the Holly and Oak Kings), or the Dying and Reborn God motif, or, oh, hey, the divine conception thing (Zeus used a lot of different guises, and not all of his “conquests” were willing), the whole concept of a demigod, not terribly original either.

  • Kellen Connor

    Is it just me, or does that guy look like an inflatable Mickey Rooney playing a cheesy villain?

  • advancedatheist

    Again I ask: Why does atheism imply liberal social positions about gays and women? Gays and women belong in a totally different category from our tribe’s supernaturals, in that we can, you know, observe them with our brains’ evolved pattern recognition system, and we have cultural mechanisms called traditions which preserve and transmit this body of learning and experience down through the generations. If this pattern recognition tends to put gays and women in a bad light – well, you can’t blame that outcome on the gods, now, can you?

    In other words, the allegedly “superstitious” priests who promote negative beliefs about gays and female sexual behavior have an empirical basis for their doctrines. The religious rationalizations for them just amount to historically contingent hitchhikers.

    By contrast, liberal atheists apparently have no qualms at all about forming and promoting negative beliefs about financially successful people and how the latter who made their fortunes through legal, voluntary and peaceable exchanges in the market somehow deserve persecution, shackles and confiscations at gunpoint.

    • allein

      oh jesus.

    • baal

      oh hai!

      @paragraph 3

      I don’t actually find a lot of my expenditures legal, voluntary and peaceable. At the very least, I find I have no ability or next to no ability to effectively prevent oligopolies (cable, trash removal, credit card rates) from extracting as much money from me as they can. In a very weak job market as well, even though I’m a valued employee, it’s not all that possible to negotiate for a higher wage. All I can do is a good job and hope that I rank out better than my peers.

      Your libertarian notions that single normal people have power equal to mega corps is shocking. Also, who is effectively limiting CEO pay? Historically, the control was a two element system of extremely high tax on the highest tier of income coupled with personal or partnership type ownership of companies. This made it to the advantage of the business leaders to reinvest in the company and make the company strong. Today’s incentives are set to bleed as much value out of the company and dump those huge piles of cash on the undertaxed highest paid ‘leaders’.

    • GCT

      Again I ask: Why does atheism imply liberal social positions about gays and women?

      Because it’s based on reason and rationality and there are no reasonable or rational reasons to withhold rights from gays and/or women.

      If this pattern recognition tends to put gays and women in a bad light – well, you can’t blame that outcome on the gods, now, can you?

      What pattern recognition? Are you claiming that gays and women are inherently inferior in some sense and that you have objective evidence for it? Further, if a doctrine that cannot be challenged because it comes from god tells people that gays and women are inferior, then sure as hell we can blame that doctrine for being intolerant as well as those that continue to push it.

      In other words, the allegedly “superstitious” priests who promote negative beliefs about gays and female sexual behavior have an empirical basis for their doctrines.

      Bullshit. There is no empirical basis. No one has yet been able to produce one.

      By contrast, liberal atheists apparently have no qualms at all about forming and promoting negative beliefs about financially successful people and how the latter who made their fortunes through legal, voluntary and peaceable exchanges in the market somehow deserve persecution, shackles and confiscations at gunpoint.

      What the hell are you on about here? Are you really making the incredibly stupid arguments that taxation equals theft and all money is distributed in equitable ways? Grow up.

      • MD

        You are much more patient than me. I just wanted tell him to fuck off.

        • C.L. Honeycutt

          There’s plenty room for both responses.

    • baal

      ” If this pattern recognition tends”
      Why is thinking failure a justification for failed thinking?

    • Oswald Carnes

      The only good bigot is a dead bigot. Let me know if you need a helping hand.

    • TCC

      Have you ever considered that our “evolved pattern recognition system” often sees patterns that do not in fact objectively exist? There’s one of many fatal flaws in your bigoted argument.

    • Sven2547

      Why does atheism imply liberal social positions about gays and women?

      In the absence of superstitions that promote bigotry, the default position is usually equality. It’s not complicated.

      liberal atheists apparently have no qualms at all… …persecution, shackles and confiscations at gunpoint.

      Strawman, much?

    • trj

      Huh? We can observe that women and gays are different from – well, from us superior straight men, I assume. And since we can observe them to be different it’s totally justified to treat them as inferiors?

      Where the fuck do you get from a to b – from observing people are different from you, to concluding they are therefore inferior?

      “Empirical basis”, my ass. You’re not using empiricism to form your bigotry.

      • phantomreader42

        trj:

        Where the fuck do you get from a to b – from observing people are different from you, to concluding they are therefore inferior?

        In a word, narcissism. A grotesquely inflated sense of self-importance. If one has such delusions of grandeur as to believe one is the most perfect and glorious being in existence, then obviously anyone who differs must be inferior. As always, facts are irrelevant.

    • DrShinolaGonzo

      One would think an enlightened libertarian like “advanced”atheist would be too busy swimming in his mountain of cash from all of his wildly successful “legal, voluntary and peaceable exchanges” to post comments in a lowly blog for proles.

      • trj

        He probably would be, if it weren’t for those liberals keeping him down. And the women and the gays. And the people who confiscate his property at gunpoint.

    • Oranje

      The strawmen, mate. Think of the poor strawmen.

      Caricature artists must line up to study how you do it.

    • phantomreader42

      The delusional idiot fraudulently calling himself “advancedatheist” babbled:

      In other words, the allegedly “superstitious” priests who promote negative beliefs about gays and female sexual behavior have an empirical basis for their doctrines.

      If that’s true, then why is it that neither you nor any other misogynistic homophobic shitstain has been capable of actually presenting an empirical basis for your misogyny and homophobia that can survive even the most rudimentary examination? You claim to have the facts on your side, but when asked for facts you flee in abject terror, flinging strawmen in your wake in a desperate attempt to hide from the fact that your claims fall apart the instant a light is shined on them.

      • phantomreader42

        This reminds me of a thread a couple months ago, where aa claimed there was evidence in favor of patriarchy, then ran away when asked to present it. As I said then “Claiming you have evidence is worthless unless you can actually demonstrate it. Put up or shut up. Or just run away and hide because you’re too much of a coward to even try defending your bullshit.” Of course, he chose the latter, as I knew he would, as his ilk always must.

    • Nemo

      What are you babbling about? What is this empirical basis for discriminating against gays and women? What is this pattern you claim is being recognized?
      As for negative beliefs about the upper classes, some liberal atheists do that. Some left leaning churches do that as well (liberation theology). Some conservative Christians revere the upper classes. Some atheists (such as Ayn Rand) do as well.

    • Bdole

      Even a one-off incident or experience can be an “empirical basis” for a belief. Doesn’t make it necessarily rational.

    • Miss_Beara

      Oh look everyone! The guy who thinks women are sluts but still thinks he is entitled to sleep with them but they refuse so they are bitches, anti gay and anti immigrant is back!

      Hai!

    • http://confessionsfromthepeanutgallery.blogspot.com/ YankeeCynic

      If people actually take the time to respond to your facile comments are you actually going to engage in a CONVERSATION with them, or are you just going to do with its post what you always do: roll a snooty, bombastic comment into the room like an especially ill-lettered grenade then walk out, never to be seen again.

      You clearly enjoy indulging in the bizarre stage performance that you’re the only actual rational atheist in the room. I half suspect that actually having to stick around and defend those views would shatter that illusion, so I honestly doubt you will. That’s why you’re so tiresome: you’re *predictable*, to the point of being almost a parody of yourself.

    • Obazervazi

      Your mistake is assuming traditions came into being through careful research and survived because they work.

      In reality, traditions are based on “common sense”. An important part of science is questioning “common sense” until we can prove it’s right, because “common sense” is remarkably unreliable. The reason we see headlines declaring “Science proves incredibly obvious thing” is because there is also a lot of “Science disproves long held notion that seem obviously true.”

      “Women are inferior to men” seemed like a good idea at the time, but it was a mistake, so we should just move on. Stop acting like our ancestors were infallible.

    • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

      meh.

  • Lauryn

    You always make me actually LOL when I read your blog posts.

  • guest

    That whole information thing is a real tough one for these “snake oil” salesmen to handle. Damn facts and believable answers always mucking things up for them.

  • Andrew L

    here, here.

    • trj

      Where?

      • allein

        Over there.

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B5OWRRJh-PI&list=FLYJP3MjZQ-BJugrvyegfQ7Q&index=1&feature=plpp_video Alberto Knox

    We can slow down on the patting ourselves on the back. Yes, great strides have been made, but these shallow public advocates for fundamentalism are the easiest targets. We have a long way to go and our own issues. it is awkward for us to post about how the church treats women when we have a rash of atheist blogs posting misogyny.

    • baal

      “rash of atheist blogs posting misogyny.”

      Pedal your lies elsewhere.

      My experience is that the several and many atheist blogs are better than average about misogyny. The folks suggesting otherwise are playing a ultimately self-defeating game of beating up various segments and teaching folks that civilization (use the least harmful tools first) is a bad thing. They are also willing to cry wolf rather than analyze issues in context and provide rules of general applicability (as opposed to special rules for some but not others).

      • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B5OWRRJh-PI&list=FLYJP3MjZQ-BJugrvyegfQ7Q&index=1&feature=plpp_video Alberto Knox

        Perhaps “rash” was overstating. Substitute “prominent.”

        The “rash” of misogyny would be in the comment section of those blogs. The rest of your post is borderline incomprehensible. Rather than saying civilization is a bad thing I am saying modern atheism should make an intentional effort to be more inclusive and welcoming if we want the movement to grow.

        • baal

          No one is disagreeing with being more inclusive and welcoming. I also agree that each of us has a duty to do better.

          Some of us, however, view social punishment as the tools of authoritarians and reject certain means to otherwise agreeable ends. I also assert that social punishes are incapable or unwilling to admit the harms of their views.

          Also, AA down thread is one of the worst misogynists here and I’m seeing very little support for him.

          • Tainda

            Agreed.

            He IS a prime example of misogyny. Some of the things people complain are misogyny are not.

            As a woman I have never felt unwelcome here or any other blog.

            As always, please note this is my experience. I really shouldn’t have to say that but of course I always do.

    • Artor

      Yes, there are a few vocal atheists who peddle in misogyny. Notice how they are treated by everyone else? With derision and point-by-point debunking of their ignorant & spurious claims. Notice how the church treats misogyny? By enshrining & institutionalizing it, and holding it up as a virtue instead of a grievous character fault. Every organization and movement will have it’s bottom-feeding scum. The question is how are those scum treated? Are they elevated to positions of power, or are they kicked to the curb and denounced?
      Take your false equivalency and go somewhere else.

      • GCT

        Notice how they are treated by everyone else? With derision and point-by-point debunking of their ignorant & spurious claims.

        This isn’t entirely true. There are quite a few atheists out there who claim that doing this amounts to “drama” and/or the idea that atheism has nothing to do with women’s rights, so therefore they shouldn’t talk about it. We do have quite a few people who silently sit and don’t speak up. Sure, the original comment may have been engaging in false equivalence (I’m not convinced of that) but it’s not false to point out that we atheists still have some issues to iron out.

      • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B5OWRRJh-PI&list=FLYJP3MjZQ-BJugrvyegfQ7Q&index=1&feature=plpp_video Alberto Knox

        I simply suggest that what newly born skeptics see when they look at atheism today is often not a welcoming face. Certainly many deride the posts deriding women and feminists, but many support them too. the nasty tone of discussion has driven many, me included, from participating in atheist events.

        Intentional inclusiveness will help us win new recruits, as will a less mocking tone. People who spent their life to this point truly believing a religion will not be attracted by overt mocking of their past faith (and that of their friends and family). Mocking the evangelicals is almost unavoidable, but mocking Pope Francis will not be effective at winning converts.

    • DrShinolaGonzo

      Oh no! You mean atheists aren’t all marching in lockstep like the brownshirts religious people make us out to be? That some atheists might be, I dunno, assholes? Dumbshits? Embarrassments to adulthood?
      We’d better shut the whole thing down then.

      • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B5OWRRJh-PI&list=FLYJP3MjZQ-BJugrvyegfQ7Q&index=1&feature=plpp_video Alberto Knox

        I’m just saying the loud and rude ones (like you, apparently) post quite a bit and tend to make atheist forums generally unpleasant to the large section of the public that regularly attend church. Just because they lose their faith doesn’t mean they will instantly become uncouth trolls.
        —-
        I have tried to be polite and rational in my posts here and have been met by defensive emotional irrational yammering. Exactly the kind of talk that keeps the ‘good people’ away. It is a pity you folks won’t take a step back and look at the bigger picture. Being offensive will keep people from adopting a public atheist identity. Stupid cunts.

        • Atheist Bunneh

          Concern trolling? That’s your solution? And then responding in the condescending way you cce others of doing?

          How much time do need to figure out why you’re not g taken seriously?

        • Kodie

          We have a long way to go and our own issues. it is awkward for us to
          post about how the church treats women when we have a rash of atheist
          blogs posting misogyny.

          Stupid cunts.

          It’s very hard to find the part where you actually care about a given issue and wish to see it gets resolved.

  • Jason Alexander

    This is a great column. McDowell is mind-numbingly silly.

  • Ron

    And the LORD was with Josh … but could not drive out the inhabitants of the Internet, because they had google.

  • Stev84

    See the Bible.

    • Mark W.

      I see the problem. You guys have forgotten some essential elements. When you do these things it’s dirty and perverse and criminal. When biblical figures did these things they were ok, because God told them to. See, the big G.O.D. says it’s ok, your good to go, but if you do it because you’re a sick freak, that’s bad. Understand the difference.

      Oh yeah, I should also mumble about cultural differences or something equally self serving.

      • C.L. Honeycutt

        Context! Cultural relativism even though we claim that’s a thing that liberal atheists do! STALIN!!!

  • diogeneslamp0

    McDowell: “Pornography is why sex-trafficking, sex abuse and rape are major issues”

    Actually, your Bible is where sex-trafficking, sex abuse and rape are major issues; as ordered by your god and carried out by God’s people. Indeed, in Num. 31:1-47 Moses is perfectly furious because God’s people didn’t exterminate the Midianite non-virgins and sexually enslave the virgins; for more see Deut. 20:10–15; Deut. 21:10–14; Isaiah 13:16; Judges 5:30; Judges 21:10–14. No Bible-literalist Christian can oppose sex abuse and rape and be logically consistent.

  • Paula M Smolik

    I’m a woman who looks at gay male porn. So where am I in that spectrum? Because he is just talking about men looking at porn. Sexist.

    • Kevin_Of_Bangor

      It’s only a matter of time…

  • Stev84

    And as usual it’s immediately “porn addiction”. For them, anyone who watches a porn movie every now and then is already addicted. That’s how they come up with these huge numbers of “addicted” people.

    Sure, some people are, but they just can’t distinguish between normal porn consumption and addiction.

    • Oranje

      I would love to know where that theoretical line is for them (I’m assuming the slider is almost completely over to “addicted”) and for the general population at large.

      I’m also pretty brain-dead from work, so my mind has kind of gone whee at this point.

  • flyb

    Seeing the picture reminds me of this

  • Joseph George

    Speaking of McDowell, wonder if he has a facebook which I can post this to. . .

  • Yong Tan

    “The access to all the online information doesn’t (generally) lead to skepticism about all ideas, only bad ideas. The truth has a better chance of emerging when all the viewpoints are out there, not when you’re sheltered and only hearing what your pastor wants you to hear. If Christianity is losing that battle, it’s not the Internet’s fault.”

    If we’re going to run with this argument, then what’s the rationale of not “teaching the controversy” in science classes?

    • GCT

      Why should we devote class time to ideas that have already been defeated? “Teach the controversy” is nothing more than an attempt at proselytization anyway.

      • Jon M Wilson

        Slightly off topic, I think there’s a place in science education for teaching about ideas that have been defeated. It’s part of understanding how science works and ideas are refined and developed over time.

        I have vague recollections of learning about the the four humours, phlogiston, the geocentric astronomical model and the “plum pudding” atomic model at school.

        • ufo42

          Good point. Science classes should also teach how ideas about evolution themselves evolved and how the religious authorities tried and failed to suppress them. There should be history of science classes which teach about how science emerged from under the heel of religious dogma as part of the Enlightenment and the French Revolution.

          • Jon M Wilson

            I think some of that (religious suppression, etc) belongs in a history class, rather than a science class, to be honest.

            Dealing with how science “works” – observing, hypothesising, modelling, validation, rinse, repeat – sits fair and square in a science curriculum, if you ask me.

            During the progression of science education from primary school through to university there are areas of science that get revisited with the ‘warning’ that the earlier information wasn’t quite how it works, but was a suitable approximation.

            I see that as a micro version of the macro development of scientific understanding. (Kids learn solids, liquids, gases… older kids learn molecules and atoms… later subatomic particles… then quarks and strings and p-branes but I digress. Often.)

    • baal

      Teach science in the science classes. The non-science messages should be non-censored outside the classroom. To be parallel, teach religion in the churches and have non-religious message be non-censored out side the churches (or equivalent).

      Josh McDowell is arguing that religious ideas should be protected and children of religious parents should live in a bubble.

    • islandbrewer

      There’s nothing wrong with teaching scientific controversies in science classes. However, controversies over, e.g., whether evolution occurs or the globe is getting warmer aren’t scientific controversies. The science isn’t split on these issues.

      They’re cultural/political controversies, where one side wants to teach the science, and the other side wants to teach it’s denial dressed up as science. That doesn’t belong in a science class.

    • Oranje

      Because only one of them is actually science?

    • phantomreader42

      Yong Tan babbled:

      If we’re going to run with this argument, then what’s the rationale of not “teaching the controversy” in science classes?

      Did you somehow not notice that a science class is not the Internet? There’s a lot less swearing and porn, for example. But tell you what, when entire biology classes are taught solely by means of Lolcats, then MAYBE there’d be some grounds to introduce “CEILINGCATDIDIT!!!!111111eleventyone” as if it were a viable hypothesis rather than an object of ridicule and derision.

      • Yong Tan

        I’m sorry, I must’ve overlooked the apparent fact that when Hemant wrote “The truth has a better chance of emerging when all the viewpoints are out there”, there was the unspoken insinuation that this applies only when atheists are preaching their agenda, and is strictly forbidden when it’s the other way round.

        My bad.

        • alfaretta

          Yes, we have no access to the Creationist point of view. There are no creationist books or websites available to questioning minds.

          Doesn’t everyone remember when the staff of the Discovery Institute was perp-walked on national television?

          Me neither.

        • phantomreader42

          Oh, so are you going to recommend we also “teach the controversy” in regard to alchemy? Demonic posession? Crystal healing? Flat Earth? Alien pyramid builders? Holocaust denial? Or do you only want to pretend that idiocy without a speck of supporting evidence is equivalent to well-established fact in the area where your sick reality-denying death cult orders you to?

          • Yong Tan

            Geez, bro, it was the author who asserted that “”The truth has a better chance of emerging when all the viewpoints are out there.” I’ve already apologized for assuming the author intended his argument to be consistent instead of being applied in only one direction. I’m sorry, okay?

            • alfaretta

              You have obviously missed the fact that Josh McDowell’s problem is that all the viewpoints ARE out there, and that his is having a hard time competing.

            • phantomreader42

              Creationism had its chance. It failed miserably, just like phlogiston and phrenology. This is well-known to anyone willing to look at the facts.

              Despite your desperate need to pretend a science class is the same thing as the Internet, there is limited time in the school day, and thus teaching must be limited to shit that actually WORKS. Evolution works. Creationism does not. Now you can quit whining.

              • Yong Tan

                In other words, take pretty much the exact same arguments that creationists use, flip it around and use them yourself while mocking the other side, AND pretend that you’re the one advocating the free sharing of viewpoints.

                Got it.

                • phantomreader42

                  The creationist viewpoint has been freely shared, and it has been found to be a worthless load of shit. Your whining will not change that. Your cult can’t magically rewrite reality by crying about how unfair it is that you can’t hijack the government and steal tax money to force your sick death cult’s lies on other people’s children.

                • Yong Tan

                  I don’t need to rewrite reality. All I’m doing is to point out that “The truth has a better chance of emerging when all the viewpoints are out there” apparently applies only for the viewpoints you like. You can huff and puff with loads of rhetoric and angry words about how we should only teach one viewpoint and one side of the story to children in schools and block out the rest… except that all you’re succeeding in doing is to demonstrate my point.

                  So, uh, thanks?

                • ufo42

                  There is only one story that is science. There are 10,000+ stories that are religion. The difference is that science converges on an approximation of the truth about the real world about which everyone with access to the facts can agree. Science also builds on itself and makes modern life — including your ability to use outwardly reasonable arguments to promote nonsense — possible. Science adjusts its view of truth as new evidence comes in. Religion does the opposite: It attempts to suppress evidence which appears to threaten its dogma. Religion brought the science of the Greek philosophers to a screeching halt for over 1500 years. It is only in the last 200 or so years that we are painfully and fitfully clawing our way out from under the blanket of religious fog.

                  Religion splits into an endless series of schisms occasioned by the egos of the psychopaths who found new religions on a monthly or even more frequent basis all around the world. I am all in favor for putting out there (as is happening) on the internet (but not in Science class, the time for kids to learn real science is too short and too precious to waste on nonsense). Let all 10,000+ religious cults fight it out in religion classes. They will never agree about anything and will quickly become 20,000+ mutually antagonistic death cults. Meanwhile, science will take us to the stars.

                • Taz

                  ‘”The truth has a better chance of emerging when all the viewpoints are
                  out there” apparently applies only for the viewpoints you like.’

                  Context matters. The difference in the two examples is not the viewpoint, it’s the forum. The author made that statement in regards to the open marketplace of ideas that is the Internet. And indeed, I’m certain he has no problem with creationist ideas being exposed on the Internet. On the other hand, he would have a problem with a science teaching stating “there is no god” in a science class.
                  Quit trying to score cheap debate points.

                • ufo42

                  Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, does NOT go away! Religion is the opposite. Once someone stops believing it, it goes away and nobody misses it.

            • Oranje

              Wow. Missing the point AND playing the victim card. You do so much with so few words.

            • Kodie

              I don’t see how it’s only being applied in one direction, but you keep acting like you read something that isn’t there. Okay????

        • Pattrsn

          What’s forbidden exactly?

        • ufo42

          Christians are not only welcome to preach their agenda, they are extremely persistent and insistent about it. They have their own radio and TV networks. Atheists have the internet. The rationale for not “teaching the controversy” in science class is that there is no controversy in science over the issues about which the religious zealots want to manufacture fake controversy. There is plenty of controversy in religion, though, so I and most atheists are all for teaching the controversies (all 10,000+ worth of different religious cults worth) in RELIGION classes. The quickest way to turn a christian into an atheist is to get her to actually read her bible — all of it, not just the cherry picked Kum bay Yah passages the priests and apologists focus on. I suspect the same applies to the holy books and beliefs of all the other major religions as well. By all means, let’s teach the real controversies about the nature of the sky monster and what He wants of us!

        • GCT

          It has nothing to do with that. When it comes to evolution and science, there are many views that can be discussed, but none of them are creationism. It doesn’t rise to the level of a scientific view, and therefore does not merit time in a science classroom. Additionally, creationist views are out there on the internet, and no one here is trying to have them shut down or removed. Not only are you wrong, but you’re being highly dishonest as well.

        • Oranje

          And, again, in a science class, we look at the viewpoints that are, you know, scientific. We don’t randomly consider medieval literature or latin american history or the history of hockey in there just because it’s another viewpoint.

          Honestly, this isn’t as hard as you’re making it.

    • Obazervazi

      The internet and the classroom are vastly different environments.

      For instance: A child exposed to Time Cube Theory in the classroom may think “I don’t get this, but my teacher wouldn’t waste my time with nonsense, so I must not be smart enough to understand it.” A child exposed to Time Cube on the internet will think “Wow, this guy is crazy.”

      Kids trust teachers, so teachers should never tell kids things that are demonstrably untrue.

      Feel free to expose kids to creationism through the internet, though. With luck, they’ll realize that everything in the bible is a myth.

  • Kara O’Hara

    I’m a Christian but I find nothing wrong with exploring and gathering facts. And I respect that others don’t believe, aren’t sure what to believe, and those who question everything. For me, a big part of it all isn’t “why” but “how”. I frequently several blogs such as this, Christian blogs, and many others. If I find their views too radical, regardless of subject, I’ll avoid them.

    • Mitch

      If only there were more with your intellectual honesty and curiosity. Thanks for stopping by this little corner of the internet.

      • Kara O’Hara

        Thanks, Mitch! And sorry about the typo before :)

    • momtarkle

      What you say is so good to hear.

      • Kara O’Hara

        Thanks. It’s just how I feel. I actually discovered Christianity on my own and made my own decision for it. And I avoid churches… God yes I avoid churches. But I want to know what we are, where we come from, and where we’re going. I respect any path that holds true to that. ANY.

        • Isaac

          Be careful of opening your mind too much, for it may fall out

  • Drew James

    I see dumb people….religion of any sort is a con used to subjugate the masses….question repeatedly, it can only lead to a better understanding of everything ;-)

    • Taz

      None of those people butchered in the name of atheism, and no one has implied that religion is the sole tool of subjugation. Political philosophies are often used for that purpose. And Bonaparte? Really? Are you actually claiming that the Napoleonic wars were religious conflicts?

      • Taz

        What you’re really stating is that any atrocity committed by an atheist is due to the fact that they are an atheist. But that’s simply not true any more than the equivalent statement about theists is true.

  • Ron

    “The sad thing is, after child pornography doesn’t satisfy, where do you go?”

    Cosmic Jewish zombies.

    “Maranatha, come Lord Jesus.”

  • Timmah

    Where do you go? A role-play server in World of Warcraft. What happens in the Stormwind to Ironforge subway STAYS in the Stormwind to Ironforge subway.

    • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

      Sadly, no, no it doesn’t. Go to Pornshire instead, that’s what it’s there for. Even has inn rooms and everything.

      • Timmah

        Ugh, I forgot about Goldshire. I remember early in the game being part of a Horde raid on Stormwind. After we got pushed out of town we went to Goldshire, only ot be very confused as to “Why are none of these n00bs wearing armor of any sort and just standing around emoting?”

        • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

          It’s the alliance version of The Crossroads :D

    • C.L. Honeycutt
    • Tainda

      Journeyman boots for sale! EC Tunnel!

      • C.L. Honeycutt

        oh
        my
        GOD

        • Tainda

          Sorry, subway made me think of tunnel which made me think of that :D

          • C.L. Honeycutt

            Somehow I was far more irritated by the later auction house, where you had to put your items up for sale and then sit still all night while people ran over to click on you.

            • Tainda

              I hated having to leave my computer on lol

              You don’t have to do that anymore, which is good

              • C.L. Honeycutt

                Ugh, I turned on EQ last week and was horrified at how user-hostile the interface was. Even examining item stats required a Google search. I had all the sads.

  • http://friendlyatheist.com Richard Wade

    An apologist is someone who comes to an empty banquet table bringing no food, only arguments for why you should not feel hungry. That might work for a while, but eventually arguments just don’t satisfy.

    • C Peterson

      You’re too gentle. We should hope they bring no food; in fact, they bring poison.

    • ufo42

      Beautiful analogy, Richard. Right on!

  • the moother

    Well done to “the internet” for getting your children before the priests did…

  • Tony Cummo

    mcdowell is a con-artist…like all other religious ‘leaders’…

  • Nemo

    In McDowell’s book, Evidence that Demands a Verdict, he tries to present himself as someone who concluded the Bible to be true based on an honest look at the facts, and insists that faith plays a very small role in his beliefs. At least, he tries to present himself that way. In later parts of the book, and in the quotes Hemant just provided, he makes it quite clear that he doesn’t care about reality whatsoever. Anyone who hasn’t watched Steve Shives destroy McDowell really needs to.

  • kagekiri

    As someone who was a 10-year-old 15 to 20 years ago, I can say that, even with crap dial-up and a rabidly Christian upbringing, I was still dealing with existential crises long before I knew what the heck that meant (which was reading Hume in college).

    They were triggered directly thanks to my studious reading of the Bible: Ecclesiastes is a shining example of existential nihilism and despair, and just about the most anti-humanistic piece of crap I’ve ever read.

    This is yet another example of Christians in glass houses throwing stones.

    • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

      Joseph, Hemant doesn’t ban much, but one of the things he does ban is people posting the exact same shit over and over and over. Just don’t whine if you get booted for spamming, because that’s what it is.

      • http://springygoddess.blogspot.com/ Astreja

        I could re-post verbatim My critique of Joseph’s Bible-spam from the other thread, but that would make Me a spammer too.

        What we really need is a shiny red button that opens a trap door and drops spammers into a pool full of sharks with frikken’ lasers on their heads.

        • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

          Screw the laser beams. Give ‘em plasma beams.

          • http://springygoddess.blogspot.com/ Astreja

            Wouldn’t that ionize the sharks?

            • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

              Okay, one of these, then?

              • http://springygoddess.blogspot.com/ Astreja

                BFG9000! *squee* Haven’t seen one of those for years. Save us lots of money on sharks, too.

                • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

                  You just can’t go wrong with the classics…

        • C.L. Honeycutt

          What we really need is a shiny red button that opens a trap door
          and drops spammers into a pool full of sharks with frikken’ lasers on
          their heads an interview chair where they have to talk to Oprah.

      • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

        It wouldn’t be the first time.

      • Kodie

        I just wrote to Hemant and Hemant does not think Joseph is a troll, just a Christian. “:)”

        Bad blog. Sorry guys,

        • islandbrewer

          It appears he changed his mind.

          • Kodie

            I hope that’s ok with everyone. I was surprised that it actually happened.

            • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

              It’s ultimately Hemant’s responsibility, not ours, so no need to worry. Joseph was hijacking and basically making a mess of numerous threads. Although it would perhaps be nice for his posts to stay so new people know WTF’s going on, they would also attract more useless arguing. I’ve been tempted to ‘carry on’ some of it, but I think it’s better under the bridge. Joseph has his evidence as to how evil and censoring atheists are, and we can go on to discuss things that are more important to us than comparing and contrasting the various biblical and historical systems of slavery.

        • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

          And I haven’t flagged anything because I think we should hesitate to ban anyone who’s actually engaging. But there comes a point where posting the exact same thing over and over is no longer engaging. And pointing links back to your own same thing on the same blog is just attempting a loophole.

  • Poose

    From the article:

    How can this be checked? You can use the content control on a computer, but what about their cellphone, and their friends’ computers? “Folks, you can’t isolate your kids.”

    Probably the most accurate statement in the sea of BS he just spewed.

  • highnosethehighway

    How much hate!!! and besides, all your comments only validates McDowell’s comments..sarcasm does not hide the truth.

    • Matt Bowyer

      What truth?

    • Oranje

      Bad poker player. Multi-punctuating is such a huge tell.

    • allein

      I don’t know, how much?

    • islandbrewer

      How much hate!!! and b Besides, all your comments only validates McDowell’s comments..s Sarcasm does not hide the truth.

      I’m sorry that I can’t do any more for you.

    • Pattrsn

      Validates how exactly?

    • C.L. Honeycutt

      Your projection and ad hominem are noted.

  • jdm8

    I would contend that young children have always been asking these questions, but in the past, they get shut down with no outlet to have the question being taken seriously, directly or honestly, and nowhere to learn more.

  • Timothy McLean

    Ignoring the reasoning behind the existence of a continuum…how the heck is it Hetero->Less-usual Hetero->Homo->Animals->Children->Real Life?

  • Daniel Maldonado

    I say lets have it out. Let all the atheist run wild and lets fight this intellectual war.

    I’m confident that we (the believers) will win and it won’t be because of the likes of McDowell, but of intelligent believers who can meet atheists where they are and reason with them.

    You will win some of ours and we will win some of yours.

    • baal

      You have more to lose. Dan Dennet even suggested that schools should have a class where different religions (not just all protestants from closely related branches) get 2 weeks to say whatever they want, no limits.

      • Anna

        Somehow I don’t think Catholic elementary schools are going to go for that, LOL.

      • Daniel Maldonado

        Then so be it. If we do have more to lose, then let’s still have it out.

    • Obazervazi

      Why does everything have to be a war?

      • Daniel Maldonado

        It doesn’t – that was the just the language I chose to use.

    • Taz

      You can reason all you want, but if expect to convince most atheists of the existence of a supernatural being you’d better bring some evidence – and you don’t have any.

      • Kodie

        So now you are linking to other posts you made where you posted a blind link?

        I want to ask you why you think you’re a good person?

      • Taz

        Philosophical arguments do not constitute evidence, and the reasoning behind the Cosmological Argument is weak and has been refuted many times.

        • Taz

          I’m not sure why Polanco’s comments were removed. He seemed to be arguing in good faith. At any rate his last comment asked for a link to a counter of the Cosmological Argument:
          http://counterapologist.blogspot.com/search/label/Countering%20the%20Kalam

          • baal

            He only made good faith arguments until it was clear to him that he was wrong. At that point he’d lash out including RL threats or just double down on repeating himself. He also endlessly posted blind links to his own writings.

            • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

              Well… writings he claimed were his, at least. It’s been shown repeatedly that he also plagiarizes other people’s writings.

        • Daniel Maldonado

          Again, the question is what would constitute evidence for you to prove that God exists?

          • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

            God speaking to me and to everyone else in their own language. That’s about as best I can get. Me hearing a voice could just be my delusion. But if everyone else tells me they hear the voice- thinking everyone around you is saying something specific is not a common delusion.

            Ok, your turn. What evidence would convince you that God doesn’t exist?

      • Daniel Maldonado

        That depends, of course, on what that evidence would have to be in order for you to be? What evidence would I have to show you in order to prove that an omnipresent, omniscient, omnipotent, transcendent, immaterial personal being exists?

    • Anna

      It’s not a fair fight when your side manages to get almost everyone as babies or toddlers.

      • Daniel Maldonado

        Even if you raise a child as an atheist, I think they will be more inclined to believe in something rather than nothing.

        • Anna

          Of course, your side would never want to test that. Christians tell children that their god is real, and then they say that such belief has come naturally to the children. But the children weren’t born believing what the adults have told them to believe.

          And I’m a lifelong atheist who was never told to believe in any gods, and from my perspective, it absolutely does not come naturally. I think if more children were left alone, we’d see a lot more adult atheists. If your side stopped inserting theistic beliefs into the minds of babies and toddlers, it might actually be a fair fight. People would be free to evaluate evidence without the baggage of childhood indoctrination.

          • Daniel Maldonado

            That’s the problem though, you think it’s an issue of evaluating the evidence in order to come up with a belief. You’re essentially boiling down one of mankinds most ingrained sense of self in religion to some empirical process.

            Sorry, it doesn’t work that way.

            I will teach my kid about our Catholic faith because I believe it to be true. Just as you will teach your kid what you believe to be true.

            • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

              Why do humans have an ingrained sense of religion? Answer: they don’t. Children only believe in gods because their parents tell them the gods exist. Gods were humanity’s first attempts at explaining things they didn’t understand, and they are like most first attempts- unsophisticated and nonfunctional. We learn a lot by failure, don’t get me wrong, but the god-hypothesis still fails as an explanation for, well, everything. Of course one must evaluate the evidence for a belief and discard the belief if the evidence is not forthcoming, unless of course one doesn’t care if what ze believes is actually true or not. Then, feel free to say evidence doesn’t matter. I really, really hope you care if what you believe is actually consistent with reality, though.

              I will teach my child that I don’t believe in any gods because I’ve seen no evidence for any of them, but ze is free to believe in any ze likes. I will try to instill an appreciation for evidence, logic, reason, and the scientific method (all meritorious because of their successes and empirical utility), and teach hir what logical fallacies are, how to recognize them, and how to avoid them. I think my child will probably end up atheist, but if not, whatever.

            • Anna

              I’d love to see some evidence that children spontaneously start believing in the supernatural without having been introduced to the idea by an adult. Sadly, we haven’t got any because your side won’t leave children alone. It’s not possible to raise children in modern society without them encountering supernatural claims.

              I will teach my kid about our Catholic faith because I believe it to be true. Just as you will teach your kid what you believe to be true.

              You’re free to indoctrinate your children if you want, but I won’t be indoctrinating mine. I will not tell them gods and goddesses are imaginary, even though I think they are. I won’t present my opinions as facts, keep them away from alternate views, and then pretend they have made a free choice about what to believe.

              • Daniel Maldonado

                You will indoctrinate them despite your attempt to not indoctrinate them.

                • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

                  To the extent that it’s impossible to raise a child without influencing them yes.

                  I’m not going to pretend that I do believe in God. But when I tell him I don’t believe in God, I also explain how I can’t prove there are no gods, and that most people do believe in some kind of god, although not all the same god. Most importantly I want him to have good epistemology.

                  Now, tell me how many theists explain to their children that there might not be a god, or that they might believe in the wrong god.

                • Daniel Maldonado

                  You’re right, not many theists would do that. But why should you expect them to? If I believe that God exists, why should I tell my child that it’s possible that God doesn’t exist?

                  Would you tell your child that it is possible that God exists?

                • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

                  Would you tell your child that it is possible that God exists?

                  I thought that’s what I just explained. Or, from the Catholic’s perspective, it’s possible that maybe the Muslims or the Mormons are right after all, right?

                • Daniel Maldonado

                  From the Catholic perspective it is NOT possible that Mormons or Muslims are right.

                • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

                  And that’s why you fail to understand the difference between your indoctrination and our ‘indoctrination’. You are a gnostic theist. We are agnostic atheists.

                • Anna

                  How ridiculous. I will not be doing any such thing with my children. I feel indoctination is morally wrong, and that it’s taking advantage of a child’s trusting nature and developing mind. I plan to present my children with accurate, objective information about all world religions, past and present, but at no point will I ever tell them what to believe. Your side, obviously, is not willing to do the same. You know you will be more successful at passing along your beliefs if you get children young. That’s why you’re not willing to let them make up their own minds.

                • Daniel Maldonado

                  You presuppositions will be your indoctrination. When I believe a truth about the reality of the world, namely that God exists, I will teach my kids about this truth.

                  I will, however, ensure that my children know, to the best of my ability, that if they ever question god or our faith, they can always tell me and I will never judge them for it. And I will welcome their challenge and welcome their need to investigate it themselves.

                • Anna

                  If you don’t feel guilty about it, then indoctrinate with pride. But don’t pretend everyone else does what you do.

                  Indoctrination involves giving young children one-sided information and presenting personal opinions as facts. I refuse to do that. I will raise my children the same way I was raised. Funny how neither of my parents are atheists. They both believe in supernatural things, yet their “presuppositions” did not indoctrinate me to believe in the supernatural. They never tried to get me to believe or disbelieve in it.

        • Fred

          I was raised, inadvertently, as an atheist. Didn’t hear much of anything about god or jesus even from relatives. It just wasn’t that important or even mentioned in our household. Cousins and aunts and uncles never mentioned religion either. Churches were just buildings people went to get married in just like auditoriums were where you went to hear concerts or car shows. Part of my childhood was spent reading fanciful tales of greek and roman mythology.

          (going to be long, brace yourself)

          My first exposure was to the concept of god and jesus was when I was 11 years old when a neighbor brought me to their AWANA meeting. I thought it was just a place to play games and group activities and make new friends. Then the bible study started and they handed me a workbook filled with fanciful stories much like I’ve read before in greek mythology. But this one had different characters and one of them was named jesus.

          I attended meetings once a week. I played their group games and memorized their passages and verses like it was a memorization game. I collected their badges for completing activities in my book. (Bringing a friend to an AWANA meeting was an advanced goal.) It wasn’t until there was the activity that involved the 10 commandments where the wheels came off. They asked me to read the 10 commandments in the bible and then come back to the workbook and write down my understanding of what they were and why I wasn’t supposed to break them.

          I read the 10 commandments and except for a few, none of them made any sense to me.
          1. “No other gods” That couldn’t be true. There were all kinds of other gods. The American Indians had gods (not worth splitting hairs), the Greeks had gods, the Incas and Aztecs had gods. It seemed really unusual for them to some how deny it in a commandment that actually tells you that other people have other gods.

          2. “No graven image” What!? Just downstairs in the hall they had this giant cross with this guy stuck to it. People walked around holding or wearing a cross around their necks. That didn’t make sense. What was this business about punishing people for what their grandfathers had done? Does that mean I don’t even get a chance to be good and obey these rules that nobody else seems to be following. Maybe that’s why they were all carrying the crosses since their parents broke the rules maybe they should also.

          3. “Name in Vain” What did that even mean? God had a name? I thought god was his name. And what does vain mean? People said god bless you when you sneezed, was that taking it in vain? People said god dammit when they were mad at something like a lawnmower or when they hit their thumb with a hammer. It seemed silly. I shortened this to no swearing like using the word fuck or shit. This is one of the entries I put in the workbook.

          4. “Holy Day no work.” People work on Sundays all the time. That doesn’t make sense either. We went to auctions and garage sales. The stores were open on sunday, the movies were open on sunday. People at AWANA talked about the work and stuff they did on Sundays after church, that didn’t seem like a day of rest. Why is this a commandment?

          5. “Honor Mom and Dad.” Well duh, they take care of me. But what if they’re wrong about stuff? What if dad hits mom? or What if they are like the people on the TV show Happy Days. Sometimes the dad got stuff wrong and their children explained their feelings and they both talked about stuff and the parents came to see that their initial impressions were wrong. How can that happen if you just accept whatever your parents told you as true?

          6. “No Killing” yeah killing is bad. But I know wars go on and people get killed in those. Also if you commit a bad crime they can kill you for doing it. So all killing must not be wrong. I shrugged and put this one in my workbook.

          7. “No Adultery” I’m 11 I kinda know stuff about sex but I don’t think people are supposed to know that I know stuff. I read about it in those magazines I’m not supposed to touch. Anyway sex is adult stuff I don’t understand why its supposed to be wrong anyway. Its better to play ignorant and not let on that I know.

          8. “No Stealing” Not stealing from others seemed so obvious I didn’t put it in my workbook as I didn’t think it was necessary. In fact it was so short and self explanatory it seemed out of place when you considered it alongside those other commandments. I mean everyone knew stealing is wrong, why would there need to be a special rule against it?

          9. “No false witness.” Mom and dad told me not to lie. I don’t want people
          to lie to me. That seemed reasonable. I put it down in the workbook.

          10. “Though shall not covet” What was that? Did that mean if my best friend had a Big Wheel I wasn’t allowed to want one too? How does that work? When we played with our Hot Wheels cars and track did that mean they weren’t supposed to buy the same little cars that I liked? or when we rode bicycles was I not supposed to ride one too? Commercials on TV showed us what was new and fun. Why were they on there if we wasn’t supposed to want them for ourselves and have fun.

          When they sat me down to go over my workbook and asked why I left so many of them blank. They started to go over them with me. I suddenly realized that this wasn’t a memorization game, they believed these stories like they were TRUE. I asked them about the stories of Zeus and Hercules and they said they were just stories but god was real. I pointed out that people thought the same thing about the Greek gods a long time ago and these ones were no different, just more recent. They told me to read more stories in the bible. I already was and they still didn’t make any sense except as stories and some of them were pretty horrible. Besides the Greek and Roman stories were in a book too. They just told me to just open my heart to know it was true. That didn’t make any sense, as If I asked them to open their heart to Zeus I was pretty sure they wouldn’t convert over to the Greek pantheon. Besides the Greek gods were stories, just like Jesus.

          Even now as an adult, some 30 years later, I still don’t know why people believe that some ancient myths are true and not others.

          • Kodie

            I had a similar upbringing, except for the indoctrination meetings. My grandfather brought up atheism a bit, but my family was secular. I was expesed to religion by friends and sometimes on tv, and thought it was something other people had, like a pride in their heritage – kind of diverse beliefs that were important to them but it was ok if they weren’t important to me. I would say that I probably considered myself an atheist then, but I wasn’t as I am now. This is one reason I know there are a lot of people who identify with the label who probably never thought of the deeper arguments, or aren’t active on the subject. I was actually in my late teens or early 20s when it struck me how seriously people take their religious beliefs and not just have an identity or an upbringing in a particular culture.

            This sometimes comes back in arguments from theists, that atheists are just arguing against cultural behavior and don’t really get what it is they believe. I would say, yeah, when it was just people going to their favorite church and doing their habitual rituals, I was fine with it. I was even kind of envious of it. When I realized they took it to heart there was an invisible guy speaking to them through their thoughts, everything changed. This is what did religion in for me. It’s one thing to go along with the crowd, it’s entirely another thing to acknowledge something that isn’t there and to preach at me as if I can see your hallucinations. I could take the stories for stories, and even learn a little from them, but when I found out people – adults – carried on as though their invisible friend was real, then I started on a more intentional journey toward atheism, by which I mean, rejecting theistic claims.

            Starting with the premise that there’s some kind of deity in some kind of intentional control or concern for my life, that is a fantasy. If I thought about what I’d learned when I was young, I could come up with a list of instances when I was led to consider atheism. Every once in a while, someone makes a comment and reminds me of some episode in my life when I was taught something that indirectly pointed at atheism, but I don’t write it down. Without being indoctrinated at home, I’d say it might not have been adequate for all children. I could have just as easily been vulnerable at a young age to a neighbor kid asking me to church. When there were no kids to play with after school on a Wednesday afternoon, I asked my mom what CCD was and why couldn’t I go too? I thought my friends got to do something cool that I was not signed up for. My mom said, “Because we’re not Catholic.” If my atheist grandfather hadn’t rejected Catholicism, I would have been, but I already know I would have been one of those defensive “I’m Catholic” Catholics who swear and have abortions and get divorced, like all the other people I grew up with. But they’re Catholic and don’t say shit about god or their mother or anything, because they’re Catholic.

            • Daniel Maldonado

              My upbringing was very pleasant and my parents allowed me the freedom to explore my beliefs. They took me to Church, but weren’t very religious themselves. We just sort of went out of tradition or because my grandparents were over.

              When I started seriously thinking about it, I found that I believed in God.

              So despite my parents not being staunchly religious or indoctrinating me, I still came to believe.

              • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

                I wonder if you had been raised that way in a predominantly Muslim culture if you would have ended up embracing RC. It certainly does happen, but not very often. People usually find that the major religion they group up with, whether that of their family or their community, is ‘true’.

                • Daniel Maldonado

                  No, I probably would be Muslim, since it is indeed true that we are conditioned from a young age to see the world through our cultural lens.

                  But, as it is, at some point men and women come to a rational age where they can question these things and some of them become atheists, which I believe is perfectly reasonable.

                  I’m not a fundie who thinks atheists have no reasonable reasons to be atheists. I just believe the reasons I have for being a theist override those reasons for being an atheist, which is why I’m not one.

              • Anna

                Daniel, perhaps you are underestimating the effect your upbringing had on you.

                Here’s what you said upthread:

                I can tell you that since I can remember I’ve always believed in God. I grew up Catholic and it was just a belief that I took for granted. … Looking back at my life I discovered that there wasn’t ever a time that I really doubted Gods existence and I wondered why it is that I believe in God. I found that it was a belief that I simply couldn’t shake, I somehow “knew” that He existed because I felt Him immediately present in my consciousness and couldn’t ignore that.

                Do you really think this has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that you were taught the supernatural was a real thing when you were a small child? You seem to think this belief was inherently within you, but you weren’t born with it. It’s something that was implanted into your brain before you were even old enough to intellectually comprehend the concept of deities.

                People hear the word “indoctrination” and think “brainwashing,” but that’s not how I use the word. I think it’s simply the presentation of one-sided information, and the presentation of that information as fact, not opinion. Your parents didn’t tell you that their god might not be real. They told you a particular god existed and that it had certain characteristics. Presumably, when you were a little boy you assumed that the adults around you were telling the truth.

                Even if they weren’t very religious, your parents still had fundamental supernatural beliefs about the universe which they imparted to you. I’m sure they never told you that what the priest was saying during Mass might not be true, that a god might not be listening to prayers, that a god might not love you, that gods might be wholly imaginary, etc.

                • Kodie

                  To be fair, religion prevails in society, so that if you learn nothing about it at home, nor how to avoid it, you can be tricked into falling for it by someone at school. I know I went through a Catholic wannabe phase, and a friend of mine brought up in loose Buddhism converted to Catholicism to get married. It was nothing, to me, at the time, to do with what Catholicism teaches and everything to do with the mystique of ritual and beads and stuff like that, along with a few key movies in which at least one character was Catholic. I actually thought I wanted to be a nun at one point because it looked really important in a movie. I also wanted to be a marathon runner, an accountant, and a fashion model, among a few other things. (The “it’s not a religion, it’s a relationship” is actually a point against it, in my opinion; actually believing it is not as cool as they think it sounds).

                  You neglect to acknowledge how appealing a structure can be for some people, or conformity for people who don’t care one way or the other. I don’t talk with my siblings about whether or not we all turned out atheists, and I can gather from one of them that they are not. Some kind of vague “spiritual but not religious,” but hanging onto or clinging to this or that that seems like “everything happens for a reason” or whatever I can determine by facebook/pinterest fave quotes. Seriously, religion was not something we talked about when we were young, and critical thinking seems to be something I just happened to acquire along the way and not a skill I picked up at home to counter the claims or arguments of religious believers.

                  Even if you don’t learn anything at home about religion, it’s because religion is so prevalent in society. I thought people had religions like they had nationalities and cultural customs at their home. My group of childhood friends was diverse enough that I could see it that way, and not like, they were all Catholic and I was nothing. I still had nothing in that slot. I didn’t really have anything in the “cultural” column either, so you could say a “god-shaped hole” is also an “Irish-shaped hole” or something like that. We’re white. My mom made hot dogs and fish sticks. In a lot of places, that would be normal and presumed Christian, but I kind of felt like the kid with no “extras” or “features” like everyone else. Of course religion appealed to me, in some sense, and if I didn’t have critical thinking skills from here and there, one of them might have claimed me.

                • Anna

                  That’s all true. Even people who are not specifically taught that a god is real can pick it up from the culture. It’s basically assumed in most of society that the supernatural exists, so I can understand even a non-indoctrinated child coming to believe in it.

                  The problem is that all children are exposed to supernatural assumptions. It’s the rare child who manages to escape them. While people like Daniel were told specifically that a certain god is real, many others pick it up by chance. However, I do believe that indoctrination is responsible for the vast majority of religious adherents. If all religious people stopped indoctrinating their children, you’d see a major shift in the religious landscape within one generation. We might not get rid of supernaturalism totally (that would require isolation from the current culture), but there’s every reason to believe that people would no longer believe things that they had not been taught to believe as small children.

                • Daniel Maldonado

                  No, I absolutely believe that what my parents did by bringing me to Church had something to do with my inherent belief in god.

                  But I’m saying that I lived in such an environment at home that if I doubted Gods existence, my parents would’ve been fine with it. I was free to think.

                • Anna

                  I’m glad your parents gave you freedom to explore. I don’t think all religious people are rigid authoritarians who try to keep their children away from differing opinions. Most moderate religious followers don’t attempt to control every aspect of their children’s lives.

                  I just think that the original choice of whether to start believing in the supernatural is taken away from their children, like it’s taken away from upwards of 90% of children in American society. They’re taught to believe in a certain god before they’re even old enough to understand what the word “god” means.

                  To me, that’s indoctrination. It’s the presentation of certain beliefs as facts, before the child is old enough to understand that the beliefs are merely one group’s opinion, and before the child is old enough to realize that he or she could choose to believe otherwise.

          • Quis ut Deus

            My story is sort of similar.

            Basically, my family never really talked about God. I learned of God when I went to school. And I immediately had some problems with the whole idea because I wondered ‘if everything has to have a creator, then who made God?’. I asked my mom if I could go to Sunday school in order to learn the answer to my question, so she sent me to Sunday school. Suffice to say, I didn’t learn a thing in Sunday school, so soon quit.

            I soon became staunchly atheist and have remained so for many years. I did go to Bible camp once with a friend, and that was the closest I ever came to ‘believing’ if only because the camp counsellors tried their damndest to scared the shit out of me. I told them how atheist I was, so they tried to convince me to believe in god by describing all of the horrors of hell to me. And then one fucker started speaking in tongues and it was all I could do to hold in my laughter. However, the fear-mongering about hell did sort of scar me a little. I understand now how easily it is to indoctrinate people, especially children, if you scare the shit out of them with threats of eternal torment.

          • Anna

            That’s similar to my upbringing. I was never taught that the supernatural was a real thing, and I never started believing in gods, even after I became aware (at age ~7) of the god concept. I had no idea people thought things like gods, angels, and heaven were real. For the longest time, I thought everyone knew they were just fantasy stories about fantasy places, like Rainbow Land or Care-a-Lot. It took me a very long time (middle school) to actually understand that modern-day people seriously believed in religious things that actually existed, not just as stories or metaphors or beliefs from “the olden days.”

          • Daniel Maldonado

            You wrote a lot so there is a lot to respond to—not sure if you even want me to.

            First, there are a few misunderstandings on your part about the 10 commandments, but that is not uncommon. I get annoyed when I hear stories about intelligent young people (like you were) who ask hard questions and get brush off answers.

            What makes the Christian religion different from Greek Mythology is the historicity of its central figure, Jesus, and its novel claims about God.

            I’m curious to know what stories didn’t make sense to you and which ones you found horrible?

            • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

              Jesus’s historicity is very much an open question, actually. There’s surprisingly little (that is, none at all) extra-Biblical indication that he ever existed. Additionally, Mohammed’s historicity is far more documented, yet you don’t use that as an argument that Islam is true. Siddhartha Gautama also maybe/probably existed, and you don’t use that as an argument for the truth of Buddhism either.

              What novel claims does Christianity make about its deity?

              What did Fred get wrong on the 10 Commandments? He seemed pretty spot on to me, and I grew up Jewish so we cared about them quite a bit.

              • Anna

                I also find it strange that people point to the supposed historicity of Jesus as a reason to take Christianity’s claims seriously. There is nothing outside the Bible. Nothing at all. It’s like pointing to the Book of Mormon as evidence that the Book of Mormon’s claims are true. Or to the Koran as evidence that the Koran’s claims are true. Surely, Christians must understand why atheists consider this an unconvincing argument?

                • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

                  Well, there are a couple of accounts, but pretty slim. What’s more telling IMO is the number of historian who wrote about everything BUT Jesus. And the couple of accounts that do exist don’t address anything supernatural going on.

                • Anna

                  I thought there wasn’t anything? The earliest is Josephus and even if it were accurate (it’s been tampered with), he’s writing about the events long after they were purported to have happened. It’s not a contemporary source.

                • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

                  ‘contemporary’- yeah, that’s a sticking point.

                • Anna

                  It’s especially puzzling to me because no one denies the existence of the religion itself. It would be like pointing to a text that someone wrote in 1904 about Joseph Smith and saying that the text not only proves the existence of Joseph Smith (who died in 1844), but also proves that the Book of Mormon is true. And we actually have lots of evidence of Joseph Smith during his lifetime. Imagine if this text from 1904 was the only thing that existed. You couldn’t use it to prove anything. It would just be evidence of a person writing about someone who had supposedly lived and died decades earlier. That author would have had no way of verifying his information.

                • Daniel Maldonado

                  That’s not necessarily true. Are you familiar with N.T. Wright’s work on the subject of Jesus’ resurrection. He has a monster of a book on it titled “The Resurrection of the Son of God”

                  Here is an article he wrote on the subject as well: http://ntwrightpage.com/Wright_Jesus_Resurrection.htm

                • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

                  Have you read anything by Richard Carrier or Bart Ehrman?

                • Daniel Maldonado

                  Yes, both. I commend their effort, but they are in the minority. That doesn’t mean that what they say couldn’t be true, but both religious and secular historians have rejected their hypothesis for sound reasons.

                  http://ntwrightpage.com/Wright_Five_Gospels.pdf

                • Anna

                  What’s not necessarily true? I have no particular interest in the historicity of Jesus, but if there is something outside of the Bible earlier than Josephus, perhaps you could provide a direct link to it.

                • Daniel Maldonado

                  I think you need to brush up on your history in this regard. Also, you cannot simply cut out the Gospels or Paul’s letters as historical evidence.

                  You’re operating from a presupposition that the Gospels do not present any factual evidence regarding the person of Jesus Christ. Also, no serious historian would deny that Jesus was a real person.

                • Anna

                  I have no opinion on whether Jesus existed as a single historical figure. The point was that there’s nothing outside of the Bible that mentions Jesus during the time he supposedly lived. The stories about him in the Bible were written by followers of the religion and thus are not an objective source. You didn’t like my Book of Mormon example, so just think of the stories about Muhammad that are found in the Koran. You don’t believe any of the supernatural stories about him, do you? To me, it seems manifestly clear that the Koran is not a credible source for accurate information about Muhammad’s life.

                • Daniel Maldonado

                  The sources for the Koran come from hundreds of years after, so it is manifestly different.

                  Josephus speaks about Jesus, Tacitus speaks about Jesus, and there are texts from the sanhedrin that speaks about a Jesus who performed wizardry.

                  But why cannot the text in the Gospels or Pauls letters be considered historical sources? Why do you assume that they can’t be?

                • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

                  The sources for the Koran come from hundreds of years after, so it is manifestly different.

                  Wait, what? The sources for the Koran are the Koran. Are you talking about historical evidence for Muhammad outside the Koran?

                • Anna

                  Yes, it’s actually quite similar to the Jesus story. Followers of Muhammad began compiling the Koran after Muhammad died. Very soon after he died, in fact.

                  Muslims believe that the Quran was verbally revealed from God to Muhammad through the angel Gabriel (Jibril), gradually over a period of approximately 23 years, beginning on 22 December 609 CE, when Muhammad was 40, and concluding in 632 CE, the year of his death. Shortly after Muhammad’s death, the Quran was collected by his companions using written Quranic materials and everything that had been memorized of the Quran.

                  Based on earlier transmitted reports, in the year 632 CE, after Muhammad died and a number of his companions who knew the Quran by heart were killed in a battle by Musaylimah, the first caliph Abu Bakr (d. 634CE) decided to collect the book in one volume so that it could be preserved. Zayd ibn Thabit (d. 655CE) was the person to collect the Quran since “he used to write the Divine Inspiration for Allah’s Apostle.” Thus, a group of scribes, most importantly Zayd, collected the verses and produced a hand-written manuscript of the complete book.

                  Assuming Muhammad was a historical person, this is actually a contemporary source, just as the Bible is. People who knew Muhammad and believed his supernatural stories collected them and preserved them. But no one would ever expect a non-Muslim to agree that this means the supernatural stories about Muhammad should be taken seriously. No one would say the men who compiled those stories are a credible source for information on Muhammad’s life. It’s a contemporary source, but it’s useless as an objective contemporary source, just as the Bible is.

                • FTP_LTR

                  Indeed.

                  If we’re looking for historical figures, Gulliver kept contemporaneous diaries of his activities which were collected and preserved after his death by his family.

                  It says so in the text.

                • Anna

                  How is it manifestly different? Both Josephus and Tacitus were born after Jesus supposedly died. Their writings (whatever they might contain) are not contemporary sources on the life of Jesus. No one denies the existence of early Christians in the region. It would be natural for a historian to mention them. Tacitus is writing in 116 about an event that took place in the year 64, long after Jesus was supposed to have died.

                  How would Josephus or Tactitus have been able to verify information about Jesus when they would have had no direct knowledge of the purported events? They were both writing long after ever living person who would have known Jesus (assuming he existed) had died. They were writing about the existence of people who believed Jesus was a real supernatural person. That says nothing about whether he was actually a real supernatural person.

                  I’m really quite puzzled that you don’t seem to see that writings by followers of a religion are not objective sources. Anything in the Bible was written, compiled, and edited by people who believed the supernatural stories were true.

                • Fred

                  Yeah if there were any supernatural things going on contemporary historians should have noted with great panic the zombie uprising that happened around the time of Jesus’s resurrection.

                • Daniel Maldonado

                  The book of Mormon is not on the same plain as the Bible for several reasons, not the least of which is the time and places it describes, along with multiply attested events in other sources, as well as rulers of the time.

                  The book of Mormon has zero credibility when it comes to the historical data we have in the Americas.

                • Kodie

                  Way to miss the point.

                • Daniel Maldonado

                  Not really. I responded to the analogy she gave about Mormonism.

                  I don’t think the historicity of Jesus in and of itself is a reason to take Christianity as a whole seriously. But I think the evidence of the historicity of Jesus’ resurrection is.

                  I haven’t had the chance to talk about that.

                • Kodie

                  Exactly what kind of engraved invitation are you waiting for?

                • Anna

                  Like Kodie said, you’re completely missing the point. If you don’t like my Book of Mormon example, then use the Koran instead. Or the Vedas and Upanishads. Or any other holy scripture. A book written by followers of a religion in order to promote that religion is absolutely worthless as a credible objective source.

            • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

              “I’m curious to know what stories didn’t make sense to you and which ones you found horrible?”

              Let’s see… ALL of them.

              • Daniel Maldonado

                That’s just dishonest. I asked an honest, serious question. To say that there is not one story in the Bible, which btw is comprised of 73 different books (66 if you’re protestant), that doesn’t make sense is ridiculous.

                Have you read at least one whole book of the Bible?

                • FTP_LTR

                  Hmm… so if wmdkitty finds all the stories either horrible or lacking in sense, they are either ridiculous or dishonest? You were taking the high ground, Daniel before you stooped to ad hominem arguments.

                • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

                  Seeing as I’ve read the whole damn thing, I’d say it’s perfectly honest to say that NONE of the stories make any kind of sense. On top of that, it’s a very badly written book.

                • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

                  I think a lot of them make sense, from the perspective of having been written by humans (i.e. men) long ago. They teach and or explain things from the point of view of those who wrote them.

                  e.g. Cain and Abel was written by shepherds.

                • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

                  Yeah, when taken as individual stories, they make a certain sort of sense, as most just-so stories do, explaining things like why Mosquito buzzes in people’s ears.

                  But — BUT! — when taken as any sort of truth, as something to guide you… they really don’t. Mostly due to the fact that many of the stories are in direct contradiction to observable, testable reality (mate your goats in front of striped sticks, and you’ll get striped goats, people living to truly absurd ages *cough*Methuselah*cough*…), and therefore can’t be anything other than fiction. Also, many of the stories are not internally consistent (four different accounts of Jesus’ life and death, two creations…), and all that’s without delving into the supernatural and god bits!

                • FTP_LTR

                  I think the standard replies to these observations, wmdkitty, are:

                  * you need to see the context;
                  * it’s a metaphor;
                  * God wants you to see the hidden truth; and
                  * something about Jesus and stuff.

                • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

                  Why is it all of a sudden “metaphorical” when people start asking questions? I mean… what the hell? And context? It’s never about context until one of us points out how nasty, brutish, and cruel certain passages are?

                • FTP_LTR

                  Don’t shoot the messenger, wmdkitty. I’m just trying to save the wandering Christians some time and effort.

                  You know, I know, we all know, the arguments are going to be the same. Sorry, arguments are going to be truthful and eternal. Because Jesus. Or something.

                • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

                  I know, I’m thinking “out loud”.

                • Daniel Maldonado
                • C.L. Honeycutt

                  Oh, I LOVE that. It’s objective moral truth, except when you have to read it in the context of cultural relativism. It’s literal truth, except when you have to know that it’s metaphor. And it means exactly what it says, except when you need to read it in [insert language of choice that is probably not the language in which that part was written anyway].

                • FTP_LTR

                  You forgot the fact that it is inerrant and eternal, until it gets reinterpreted and clarified.

                  Because (join in with the chorus) “That’s God’s Plan”

                • C.L. Honeycutt

                  Gah, too many fallacies and shifting goalposts, I can’t even keep them all listed!

                • Daniel Maldonado

                  Don’t attribute this line of reasoning to all Christians.

                • Daniel Maldonado

                  I’m Catholic, so you’re going to have to make some distinctions here.

                  Protestants hold to a principle we call “sola scriptura” , which means “Scripture alone.”

                  Catholics don’t hold to that. We’ve always believed that there are two senses to scripture – one is the literal and the other is the spiritual sense. Given that it is divine, it can have a multiplicity of senses for us and the Church is the interpreter of the Sacred Scripture.

                  So while I agree that sometimes people’s answers to hard questions about what the scriptures say are rather dishonest – the Church (the Catholic Church that is) has always taught that one must pay attention to the senses of scripture.

                  Genesis 1 , for example, is obviously not “literal” in that it is not attempting to describe material origins, but more theological truths.

                • FTP_LTR

                  From my perspective, that’s where it all starts to become troublesome. The ‘sense’ of the scripture, and the ‘interpretation’ of the scripture is open to manipulation and change.

                  One man’s inspired interpretation is another man’s weasel-wording and goalpost shifting. Today’s description of theological truth is yesterday’s literal fact.

                • Daniel Maldonado

                  I agree with you, which is why I’m Catholic.

                  The Church has always held that there are three legs of authority.

                  Two of which comprise the deposit of faith: Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture – both of which must be considered together.

                  The third leg is the Magisterium of the Church, which by virtue of their apostolic authority through the continuous, unbroken line of succession from the Apostles, properly interpret both Sacred Scripture and Tradition.

                • FTP_LTR

                  But is it “properly” or “conveniently” ?…

                  When the ‘proper’ interpretation of the Scripture and Tradition differs from the previous ‘proper’ interpretation, why was the previous apostolic authority wrong?

                • Daniel Maldonado

                  That assumes that there are two contradicting infallible interpretations of a doctrine that need to be reconciled.

                  For Protestants, that is always the case since their standard in completely subjective. If one person disagrees over some particular doctrine, then all he has to do is start a new church.

                  The Catholic church interprets in light of all previous said doctrines – in the light of tradition in other words.

                  So our doctrine develops, unfolds from a seed into a full grown tree, organically. We don’t synthesize random doctrines and attach them for convenience.

                • baal

                  Reciting dogma is hardly an effective way to convince me the RCC is worth more than instant and then a walk away.

                • Daniel Maldonado

                  It’s only troublesome if Christianity is simply a conglomeration of groups of people who use the Bible as their sole rule of faith. That’s Protestantism.

                  The reason the Catholic Church opposes the Protestant schism is not because of the abuses that Luther pointed out, remember that the Pope agreed with about half of Luthers 95 points. The reason the Church wanted to prevent this schism is because how destructive it would be to Christendom, creating total anarchy by appealing to this “bible alone” approach to everything.

                • baal

                  “the Church (the Catholic Church that is) has always taught that one must pay attention to the senses of scripture”
                  Yeah, no. One must do as the priest says. The priest will tell you what the scripture means. Your job and place as the laity is to Obey. That’s the dogma that the protestants were directly counting with the “sola scriptura” argument.

            • Fred

              My answer isn’t going to differ much from wmdkitty’s.

              Pretty much all of them were horrible. Horrible in a sense that people are actually supposed to believe these things? Things that make no logical sense. Things that only make sense if your definition of good is having the power to do whatever you want.

              They are not all horrible if you view them as a bunch of just so stories about how life was and how people tried to explain the workings of the mysterious world around them.

              • Daniel Maldonado

                Could you possibly point out some relevant examples?

                • Fred

                  Other people have asked you some very direct and pertinent questions. I am not going to answer yours until you begin to show some common courtesy.

              • FTP_LTR

                …a bunch of just so stories about how life was and how people tried to explain the workings of the mysterious world around them.

                This.

                Similarly there are a number of prohibitions and warnings that made sense at the time and place.

                Eating shellfish, for example – quite risky when there is only a rudimentary understanding of hygiene, and no refrigeration. Safest to avoid altogether. Pork, likewise. Trichinosis, anyone?

                Given the understanding at the time, if Ezrah eats shellfish and dies, what killed him? You’re telling me it was a colony of little creatures, so tiny we can’t see them with the naked eye? Pull the other one. Clearly God struck him down. Back away from the oysters… careful now…

                I find parallels in feng shui

                For good luck, site your house near running water, not stationary water. Old Lao built his house near the swamp, and bad luck struck – he was always sick from the bad spirits, and his house was mysteriously full of mosquitos!

                For good luck, always sit facing the door, not with your back to it. Old Lao sat with his back to the door, and bad luck struck! They found him next morning, mysteriously stabbed to death by bandits…. I mean bad spirits.

                • Kodie

                  I read a Feng Shui book about 10 years ago that made a few practical points, beyond association with bad luck, and because people are so against the whole idea, they don’t listen. I mean, it’s weird how many people believe Jesus has a plan for their lives and their horoscope and whatever juice cures everything still vehemently reject anything that starts with “feng shui”.

                  I took special notice at a section about where to live, if you have a choice, and what to do about where you live if you don’t. The book says living opposite a T-intersection is bad, and I lived in a house located at a T-intersection. Obviously, it is not optimal, as a car running the stop sign might end up in your living room. It gave a lot of advice about how to arrange your furniture and tv in the front room of a house located at a T-intersection, since at night, headlights will regularly point toward your window.

                  The room was a piece of shit to arrange, since it was a railroad apartment in a Victorian multi-family, so there were two places to put a couch and one was over the intake, but the advice made sense. Arranging your furnishings to be ideally placed and not awkward or uncomfortable is kind of important for your happiness in that home, and reducing daily irritants tends to make someone less stressed and more productive.

                  You don’t have to read a feng shui manual to know that headlights glaring in your window every couple minutes while you’re unwinding in front of the tube is going to drive you crazy, but reading a feng shui manual before you sign a lease might make you more aware of issues you wouldn’t notice until you live there, though. It’s not creepy spirits, it’s traffic patterns. I’ve lived and learned enough to avoid a few other things as well that I didn’t read in a manual about how to repel bad spirits, like not to live on the 1st floor, or over a restaurant, in a basement, or in a building without a laundry room. Small windows, no closets, a bathroom without its own sink, and not enough outlets also bring bad spirits.

                • FTP_LTR

                  We’re in the same camp on this one I think, Kodie. I’ve read and implemented enough feng shui to recognise that a lot of it is very practical, straightforward advice. (I think the placement of TVs is probably extrapolated from the content of original feng shu texts… :-D )

                  But I also recognise that it’s not about maximising the flow of positive energy, or balancing the yin and the yang in a harmonious way. (Don’t have furniture with sharp edges projecting into a room because it’ll cut the flow of energy, oh, and you’ll stub your toe on it, which certainly leads to negativity!) In its time and place – in pre-literate, rural feudal China, just above subsistence level – it makes for a digestible guide for the everyday folk.

                  Aesop had some good advice too; because of the practical application, not because of the talking bunnies. These days many of Aesop’s morals can be recognised as variations on, or corollaries to Wheaton’s Law.

                  I think the Bible has similar qualities – there’s some practical stuff that makes sense because it’s practical, not because of the smiting and the damnation.

                • Kodie

                  It makes a lot of sense, for another example, to read up on customs if you are traveling to a foreign country, and learn what to avoid if you don’t wish to offend anyone inadvertently. Us Americans already have such a low ditch to climb out of to behave minimally acceptably. At least this is what I heard.

                  To be on the safe side, stick to the rules, even if you don’t know what might happen if you break them. You could get laughed at, or you could get killed, or cause an accident, or insult a new friend, or nothing, because it’s a bullshit archaic custom that no longer applies. Of course sticking to these rules in one country does not guarantee you safety in another. It makes more sense to have a sense of the customs and also be able to navigate on site and alter or defy any of these customs as needed.

                  Back at home, you have your comfort level. You know which rules are serious offenses and which are bullshit, and which are in between. I take most, if not all, religions to be, partially, some basic kind of guide to living well – actual psychological well-being and peace of mind, if you can imagine. Some things make sense in the context of the time and place, given some kind of dictatorial rule, obedience, public safety; and some make sense a little more universally, and are still malleable and interpretable to locale because they apply to how to get along with others, or how to gain perspective, empathy, and lack of judgment. It seems to me that people who follow the bible or any book “religiously” are forgetting what the outcome is supposed to be for (getting along, helping someone in need) and are performing more ritually without consideration of purpose other than it says to do it in a book.

            • Anna

              “Novel claims about God.” I had a very long conversation with a fundamentalist Catholic on another thread, and he also pointed to this as one of the reasons he thinks his religion should be considered more likely to be true than any other.

              I find it a completely and utterly bizarre argument. There are other religions in which gods interact with men and also pose as human beings, so I’m not sure why Christianity’s claims are considered “novel.” But regardless, even if it were true, how does that make it worthy of special consideration? Even if it was unique, how is that relevant? All religions have unique elements and unique stories. If I were to point to a unique claim in Hinduism and say that it means Christians should take that religion more seriously, they wouldn’t agree that it means any such thing.

              • Fred

                I agree with Anna.

                What are these Novel claims about god that a comparative religions class couldn’t resolve?

              • Daniel Maldonado

                I agree that other religions have unique claims about their gods or central figures. Notice that I didn’t use this as an argument for my particular religion, but made a distinction between Christianity and Greek Mythology.

                That being said, the Judeo-Christian conception of God is quite novel, or at least very different, when compared to the vast majority of all other religions.

                For one, God is not in and of himself, in his essence, a creature of the universe. He is transcendent and furthermore, he is one.

                Hinduism has several gods, some of which are primary, and they have a conception of god as “all things” that could point in a similar direction to what we’re saying.

                All religions have an aspect of truth within them. I find it at least interesting that every religion has this concept of a mysterious “greater” being that is one and above all others.

                Aristotle for example rejected greek mythology, but believed in a “first mover” that was transcendent and one. The native americans have many gods or “spirits” they believed in, but all of them have a reverence for the “Great Spirit,” which is above all of them.

                My point being that you’re right that certain novelties about our religion doesn’t necessarily make our religion right. That would be a bad argument. Furthermore, novelty in and of itself shouldn’t even make one stop and consider one religion over the other since they all, in some way, are novel.

                On the other hand, I mentioned that the historicity of our central figure and his claims makes the reality and truth of our religion much more immediate, which could potentially make it more relevant for someone.

                • Anna

                  I’m glad you at least agree that novelty or uniqueness isn’t relevant in and of itself. The last Catholic I talked to was convinced it was of fundamental importance.

                  I find it at least interesting that every religion has this concept of a mysterious “greater” being that is one and above all others.

                  Then you might want to do some more research on world religions. There are polytheistic religions which don’t have a “main” god or goddess, and there are also religions without any deities at all.

            • baal

              Other culture’s myths are a lot more interesting and credible. I like the idea that the world was fished up out of a huge ocean or that the gods throw lightining bolts and stuff.

              I’m sorely tempted to found a Cthulhu worship center for all the fun I could have creating and carrying out various over the top rites begging Him for oblivion. It really does make just about as much sense as the freewill solves evil crap (and is a lot more fun, plus I’d set it up so we were at least topless, ’cause everyone loves boobies!).

        • C.L. Honeycutt

          Atheism is not “believing in nothing”.

          • Kodie

            Atheism, to me, is not believing the claims made by theists. They do not make any sense and are unnecessary. Beyond responding to the claims, atheism isn’t really even a thing.

        • Kodie

          It’s the same imagination we have that comes up with solutions to real problems. You are talking about children here. You are saying, without any instruction, they will likely believe some kind of bullshit they made up instead of some bullshit they were fed by an adult – an adult who should know better, but is paralyzed at the prospect of not living forever or having someone invisible check on them every second of the day. Of course, children are inventive, and they don’t know all the real answers yet.

          If you raise a child as an atheist, the best you can hope for is they can separate fiction from reality, but that they will keep on imagining anyway. They will be inclined to search for real answers and not be pacified with easy answers or comforting answers, and to use their inclinations to cut through false promises and bullshit bargains and realize they are animals on a planet and their parents love them very much not to fill their brains with crap that will only get in their way.

          • Daniel Maldonado

            You’re assumption of course is that there aren’t any good reasons to believe that God exists and that adult believers are terrified by the prospect of dying.

            That assumption is false and you should realize that you’re operating from this assumption when attempting to discredit what we believe to be true.

            There are plenty of people who were atheists and converted because they saw good reasons too, not because they were afraid of dying.

            • Kodie

              You keep talking about these good reasons, and you promised to challenge us with the really good reasons no one ever told us before, so why are you still stalling?

              Shit or get off the pot, as they say.

              • Daniel Maldonado

                I don’t have a problem with that and I’m not stalling. If you go back and read everything, this hasn’t really been a debate about reasons God does or does not exist.

                I can tell you that since I can remember I’ve always believed in God. I grew up Catholic and it was just a belief that I took for granted. Sometime in my teen years I wondered off form organized religion and messed around in the New Age realm, finding that to make more sense at the time and because I couldn’t stand Christian fundies.

                Sometime in my very late teens I encountered the claims of Jesus Christ and found that I believed them. I dabbled in Protestantism for a while, but eventually came back to the Catholic Church for several theological and philosophical reasons.

                Looking back at my life I discovered that there wasn’t ever a time that I really doubted Gods existence and I wondered why it is that I believe in God.

                I found that it was a belief that I simply couldn’t shake, I somehow “knew” that He existed because I felt Him immediately present in my consciousness and couldn’t ignore that.

                Now I realize how ridiculously subjective and probably annoying that could sound to someone like yourselves. What person in any religion hasn’t had some mystical experience, right?

                That’s true. But I think it’s important for me to point out the primary personal reason I believe that God exists.

                That being said, I’ve found that there are some evidential problems when it comes to this claim. To say that God exists does in fact require some evidence.

                I cannot imagine any of you haven’t dealt with some of the reasons us theists give, so whatever I say will probably not be that novel to you.

                When I first encountered Aquinas’ five ways, I found them to be very strong arguments philosophically.

                One of the most classical, still debated, arguments in the first cause argument, which I believe is very convincing.

                I should note that I’m a Catholic, not an evangelical fundamentalist, so I don’t necessarily reject evolutionary theory or some of the other plausible scientific explanations for certain things.

                • Kodie

                  I don’t have a problem with that and I’m not stalling. If you go back
                  and read everything, this hasn’t really been a debate about reasons God
                  does or does not exist.

                  No? You’ve been beating around the bush since you first posted this:

                  I say lets have it out. Let all the atheist run wild and lets fight this intellectual war.

                  Don’t pretend that’s not why you initially posted. Don’t pretend all of a sudden this might be off-topic and you don’t really want a platform to proselytize.

                  I’m confident that we (the believers) will win and it won’t be
                  because of the likes of McDowell, but of intelligent believers who can
                  meet atheists where they are and reason with them.

                  You will win some of ours and we will win some of yours.

                  I don’t even understand the point of declaring a premature win and then saying we’ll each break even. Do you listen to yourself, first of all? When does it start to get intellectual?

                  Keep in mind that Catholicism is just one of the choices atheists reject.

                • Daniel Maldonado

                  Kodie,

                  NO, I was not beating around the bush since I posted that. That post was self-sustaining, a simple statement, not meant in anyway to start a long winded intellectual debate on the combox of this blog.

                  If you don’t see the point in what I’ve said, then don’t bother worrying about it.

            • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

              I don’t think Kodie’s assuming that there are no good reasons to believe any gods exist.

              I think Kodie’s never seen or been presented with any good reasons to believe any gods exist, and she’s seen lots and lots of reasons presented. They were just all bad reasons.

              Care to lay out your “good reasons”?

    • Matt Bowyer

      You’ll never win me.

      • Daniel Maldonado

        I’ll win you right now.

    • ufo42

      As Sam Harris so aptly pointed out: “… I’m saying that religion is losing the argument on every other front,
      it’s losing the argument ethically, it will lose the argument
      spiritually, I mean we will understand spiritual experience so well at
      some point, at the level of the brain, at the level of the way in which
      using attention in certain ways can change the human experience.

      We’ll
      understand it in a way that makes a mockery of this kind of
      denominational religion talk about Jesus and grace or about Buddha and
      magic powers. And that will break down in the same way it’s broken down
      on medicine. That’s a process we have to be honest about and let it
      unfold.”

      • Taz

        “After all, on this view there is nothing good or evil, right or wrong, beautiful or ugly.”

        That strawman picture is equivalent to saying that all theists believe in human sacrifice to appease their god. When you start off with a blatant lie there’s really no where to go.

        “On this view, for instance, the Atheist who rapes a little girl to death has done nothing wrong.”
        So the only reason you don’t rape little girls is because God wouldn’t like it? By all means then, keep believing.

  • Brandon Akey

    Very good article!

  • breyana

    I love the Tyler Oakley gif. :)

  • MBear

    Quoting a friend of mine who commented on this on Facebook:

    “Oral comes before Anal – everyone knows that”

  • Rain

    … McDowell emphasized that young people are increasingly becoming addicted to pornography, adding that it is the greatest threat to the body of Christ in 2,000 years.

    Somewhere there is a joke in there but I’m not taking it. It’s not my call. This one is best left for the professional comedians to handle. Do not try this at home unless you are a professional.

    • TheLump

      As an amateur comedian, I can attest to the truth of your post. I immediately thought, “I can handle this” and attempted writing the joke. BIG mistake!

      My fingers promptly cramped up and, somehow, entangled themselves, hand to hand! Now I’m stuck writing this with my nose until my wife can get me untangled again. Leave it to the pros, boys and girls!

      • http://springygoddess.blogspot.com/ Astreja

        I think the joke is already written, right there in the quoted part of the article, and there’s nothing we can do to improve upon it.

        • TheLump

          Well, you read my disastrous attempt to do so.

      • Rain

        Tough break bud. Be careful out there folks.

  • Rain

    Dumbest apologist ever.

  • Jason Bock

    I remember seeing him a couple of times when I was part of Campus Crusade for Christ 20-odd years ago. He seemed to use fear/scare tactics in his talks then too. I was just too blind back then to realize what kind of person he really was.

    • http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Maury_and_Baty/ RLBaty

      Jason,

      Were you familiar with Tip Killingsworth of the Campus Crusade? He and I crossed swords in recent years; before he cut and ran. He was some kind of executive sort and is now out of the organization and enjoying his retirement, funded by his friends, in Ireland where he does charity work with some kind of rehab center.

      I wonder if you might have a personal opinion of him that you might share.

  • Dave Foda

    I was there, Hemant. I sat in on McDowell’s lecture. I go to these things specifically to take notes, to live-tweet, and then to write about the nutball things that are being said.

    “It is wise to know the ways of one’s adversary.”

  • Robster

    Says McDowell:”starts with heterosexual sex then after a while, that no longer satisfies, then there’s anal, from anal there’s oral, from oral to homo, from homo to bestiality then to children”. So, there’s obviously many, many clerics, imams, bishops, cardinals, rabbis, priests etc. that have gone through this process too, it would seem. Is he perhaps speaking from experience?

  • Carpinions

    That picture of McDowell at the top says it all. Pretty much any modern picture of someone doing some version of the captured-in-deep-thought moment – that they paid to have taken of them – is an exercise in self-aggrandizement. It’s so forced, so the opposite of genuine, so staged. I don’t think more of you when I see you in those poses, I think less.

    But I digress from my pet peeves…

    McDowell sounds like the typical idiot railing at anything that is making his “job” harder. I say “job” because being a proselytizer is not a job, it’s more of an, ahem, unfortunate meritocratic loophole. How do I know? His sampled comments. The end.

    • C.L. Honeycutt

      He seems to be either stroking his invisible goatee or wiping mustard from the corner of his mouth. He has pretty hands, though. They look like the hands of someone who works for a living, except that the nails aren’t worn down. Must be genetic if he has them.

      Edit: Spoken from the viewpoint of someone who considers hands that have seen honest mileage to be attractive.

  • Debbie

    ” from anal there’s oral”

    Never go ass to mouth!

    • C.L. Honeycutt

      Dude might mellow out if he watched a few Kevin Smith movies, eh?

      I got my sister to watch that one. Trolling complete.

      • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

        Have you seen “Red State”? It’s Kevin Smith’s take on the horror genre, and it’s pretty fucking awesome.

        • C.L. Honeycutt

          I have not, but I will now work to correct that!

          Really, most of his movies are pretty junky on the whole, but each one has so many gems in it that I have to forgive the rest and recommend them anyway.

          • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

            Just… just watch it.

            • C.L. Honeycutt

              I… I watched it.

              Gonna go walk in front of a train now. Gah! *flails*

  • Cybershaman

    I was oral before I was anal… :P

  • Gandolf
  • CC

    Hello, in quoting Mr. McDowell the following is indicated in this article:
    “The Internet has given atheists, agnostics, skeptics, the people who like to destroy everything that you and I believe, the almost equal access to your kids as your youth pastor and you have… whether you like it or not,” said McDowell….

    What was the rest of the sentence after ….”and you have….?” When did he say this? Can it be found on the Internet? Thanks.


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