Why We Christians Always Lose Debates with Atheists–Thank God

debateThe other day I read the recent Newsweek piece in which Rick Warren (Purpose-Driven Life—like you didn’t know) debated the eminently rational and mind-bogglingly articulate Sam Harris (The End of Faith, Letter to a Christian Nation). In that “debate,” I thought Mr. Harris waxed the floor with Mr. Warren. For one, nobody out-rationalizes Sam Harris. The guy has a brain the size of Europe—and all of it is connected to his mouth. He also seems entirely compassionate and utterly Pro-Human, two qualities I know I enjoy in a person. I think Sam Harris stands as pretty much the ultimate example of what a person can be and think when they insist that rational thought, above all, should be respected. And I can respect that. It’s certainly not the worst thing for a person to stake their claim on.

The capacity for rational thought being core to all humans means that sooner or later every human must decide whether or not there’s a God. Everything is either created by some sort of Divine Overseer, or the universe is the result of purely mechanistic coincidences. Those are our two choices. It’s not like there’s a third one. (Unless you count the decision not to decide whether or not there’s a God—which, to my mind, is a “choice” entirely too spineless to take seriously.)

There either is a God, or there isn’t. And everyone definitely wants to know which of the two it is. Not a one of us wants to exist in a system that’s grounded in pure unknowable mystery.

So people do what they must: They choose either God, or No God.

We Christians, of course, have chosen God. It’s what our hearts tell us is true. More: It’s what God tells us is true. To be perfectly accurate, we didn’t choose God at all. God chose us.

But we Christians have got to understand that once we decide, for whatever reason, to Vote God, we necessarily mark ourselves, in the eyes of someone who’s gone with option No God, as extraordinarily irrational. At that point we can’t help but seem to them as fundamentally (so to speak) bonkers.

Which is not to say that we cannot fully justify our faith: My first book, Penguins, Pain and the Whole Shebang, proved (if I say so myself) that the entirety of the Christian belief system is nothing if not rationally supportable. Once anyone decides there is (or must be) a God, Christianity makes as much sense as opening an umbrella in the rain. It’s actually difficult to posit a God, proceed logically from that assertion, and end up anywhere but at the Christian cross.

God became human to right us with himself. It’s … well, perfect.

But as rationally sound as the Christian theological system is, the essence of what makes Christianity real and alive is a mystical, deeply personal phenomenon that has no more to do with reason or logic than fins and gills have to do with koala bears.

Rick Warren lost his Newsweek debate with Sam Harris because Sam Harris can take rational thought and language all the way down to the base of what he believes, while Mr. Warren, struggle though he might, can only take rational thought and language down to the point at his belief where language become useless.

So Rick Warren lost his debate with Sam Harris. Big whoop. In the end, we Christians will always lose the debate with atheists. Because they’re using the language of logic. And there are no words for the essence of the Christian experience. And there never will be, thank God.


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  • Ron

    I'm not sure I would agree that belief in God is an irrational leap of faith. That may be true of Christianity but I'm not sure it is true of God. Belief in God may be rationally justified. To be quite honest, I wouldn't want Rick Warren defending Christian theism against an atheist. I'd choose someone like J.P. Moreland or William Lane Craig, who have experience in that area. I think Warren is a generally good guy but he is best in the pastoral sense, not to debate sense.

    Rationalism is the hallmark of much of atheistic thinking but I believe that human rationality only makes sense because we were gifted with that from the ultimate Rational Mind. Our rationality was created and exists by the grace of God's rationality. To me this makes much more sense then if our rationality just came out of a blind series of mechanistic physical events. If 'rationality' could arise from such a dubious series of events I doubt we could trust it. The philosopher Alvin Plantinga has an argument called, "The Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism," which tries to show that if evolution is true then naturalism must be false. I haven't looked at the argument in depth but on the surface it seems plausible.

    Anyway, while we Christians have faith we ought not cede rationality to the atheists.

  • Bad

    And the simple fact is that there are no words for the essence of the Christian experience.

    But of course, the exact same goes for the Muslim experience, the Hindu experience, the Greek Gods experience, the Buddhist experience, and so forth.

    Experiencing things is something humans do. But experiences aren't direct paths to truth. They aren't wrong or right: they are experiences. They are personal. But they aren't then foundations on which to claim that one knows something is so about the world outside of internal experience.

  • I think that's where I have trouble Ron. Not that I wouldn't find a personal experience convincing. I'm sure I would. But I would also question myself.

    Maybe this sounds too much like Scrooge in "A Christmas Carol", but the smallest things can affect out senses. If I witnessed/saw/experienced something that no one else did, I would question whether or not I could have been mistaken. I would investigate and try to find a rational explanation. Only if I couldn't find an explanation would I start to consider supernatural/religious forces.

    Of course, nothing like that has ever happened to me, so perhaps I'm wrong as to how I would react. I don't know.

  • John,

    "But the final truth behind Christianity is a spiritual, dynamic, mystical, deeply personal phenomenon that has no more to do with reason or logic than fins and gills have to do with koala bears."

    I would agree with you that in the beginning of the journey of faith it can seem illogical. God calls us to a relationship that is often mysterious, complex and illogical (from our point of view). As we step into this faith, choosing to trust that love really works and that we need to grow up as human beings, we experience the deeper logic of Christianity.

    Yet love is not really illogical but consistent with the order of the universe. Harris would admit so. And to move logically towards love is not illogical nor irrational. It's also pragmatic.

  • John, again you make me want to say so much in response but I'll try to keep it short and respond to Ron as well.

    As for a human having the ability to be rational, I do not see the need for God as the cause for us having the ability to think rationally, for two reasons.

    Reason #1) If God gave us rationality, where did God get his from? This is much like the First Cause Argument; what caused God? (And what caused the cause of God, and so on.) And if God didn't need a cause, then maybe the universe didn't need a cause either. If God was already perfect before he created the universe, why did he create it? How did it` benefit him? Why would he bother? And if the universe was caused, perhaps something other than God caused it?

    Reason #2) Evolution explains rationality quite clearly; it also explains a lot of other things like xenophobia and racism. However, on the rationality piece, Evolution of ourselves and societies (teachings, etc.) quite simply shows rationality over the time of Man becoming more rational. I can make it so simple as to say that rational thinking is a much needed tool for survival and in large an effect of learning to survive. You can see this in a lot of other animals as well, not just man.

    I want to set the record straight though, I'm not calling any one that believes in any god irrational in thought, you can rationalize things however you want, that's the wonderful thing about our minds. That being said, I envy believers, they have a wonderful ability that I do not posses, and that is to pick and choose which science they trust, which facts are "facts" and so on & so forth.

    The end of John's post says, "So Rick Warren loses the debate. In the end, we Christians will always lose such a debate with atheists. Because in such exchanges, atheists (naturally enough!) depend upon the language of logic." I am honestly blown away that this can be written, acknowledged and yet a belief in God still exist. If not for pioneers in LOGICAL THOUGHT, we’d still be in the Stone Age or biblical times; you can see Evolution on more ways than one taking place all over earth and it's measurable. But, I guess that is the wonderful thing about Faith, no rationale or logic is needed.

  • I could not agree more. Here's my take on it:

    When I announced I was getting married during my sophmore year of college, my dad was ahh… upset (?) You could always tell when dad was upset. Everyone in a 1-mile radius could tell. He could not understand and try as I might, I could not explain. In the end the reason is "I love her, Dad."

    Imagine (or remember) something like that. You know, finding The One you know you want to be with the rest of your life. Imagine or remember all the things you experience in that moment of revelation (like the proposal). Take all of that experience (love, joy, excitement, fear, goosebumbs, nervousness, trembling, etc, etc, etc) and multiply it by like 1000 or 1,234,532 or some really, really BIG number.

    Such an experience cannot be explained, meassured, taught, defended … or ignored.

  • Ric, ummmm.. what!? Read a science book! Research the science of love. All those things you explained you felt are hormones released from your brain, specifically the Hypothalamus, and they have those EXACT effects on your body and mind. Much like the effects of certain drugs.

  • Ron

    "Reason #1) If God gave us rationality, where did God get his from? This is much like the First Cause Argument; what caused God? (And what caused the cause of God, and so on.) And if God didn’t need a cause, then maybe the universe didn’t need a cause either. If God was already perfect before he created the universe, why did he create it? How did it` benefit him? Why would he bother? And if the universe was caused, perhaps something other than God caused it?"

    Theists argue that God does not need a cause. The universe, you and I are contingent beings or entities, meaning that we don't have to exist but were caused by other things. God is the prime necessary Being in that all being comes from Him (or Her, grammar requires that we use some pronoun but God is above gender and captures both of them more wholly then any of us here on Earth). Now, is there any necessary about the universe existing? To claim that the universe needs no cause would be to give a divine attribute of God to all the created realm, which wouldn't really make much sense since my car and my dog wouldn't have that attribute. Just because the universe encompasses by car and dog and everything else doesn't mean that it escapes from this problem.

    Concerning God being perfect and thus not needing to create, I have a question. Does being perfect mean that one would not create? From a human point of view I suppose that a perfect entity wouldn't need to create since we create things to fix our imperfections. That's why cosmetics exist. But creation doesn't always have to be to fix an imperfection. A perfect Being could create. The only thing that is necessary is that He wills it, or chooses it. That is the universe exists because God wanted to and choose to create it.

    About evolution explaining rationality I'll quote C.S. Lewis and then try to unpack his argument, "“It is only through trusting our own minds that we have come to know Nature herself. If Nature, when fully known, seems to teach us (that is, if the sciences teach us) that our own minds are chance arrangements of atoms, then the sciences themselves would be chance arrangements of atoms and we should have no reason for believing them.” That is the sciences were born because we believed that the universe out there was rationally ordered. People believed this because they believed that it was created by God as we were. But if naturalism is true and that there is no God, then that entails we are a product of blind chance admist a wholly materialistic world. It's just about atoms bouncing off each other. But if it's all about a mindless cause and effect of atoms then why should be trust our 'rationality'? What is the likelihood that a long series of materialistic causes could produce mind? Is it more plausible that our minds came from a Divine Mind or that it arose by blind chance? The trust of the argument is that naturalism undermines science at its very foundations because science assumes that we can rationally discover things about the universe because 1) we can be rational and 2) the universe is rationally ordered. This makes more sense from a Christian perspective then from an a naturalist perspective.

  • Well Ron, I sort of agreed with what you wrote. Twisted religion is all in the eye of the beholder, because to 'them', Christianity is twisted. That is the dilema, no matter what religion you pick, if you happen to pick the wrong one, whoops! So, I go with what is concrete, what is fact, what can be tested, proven and so on, all while requiring no faith but mearly the ability to reason, read and think logically, but not blindly.

    I don't think anyone will ever solve the problem of evil, as long as an economy is involved, evil with be ever present and rightly so, how boring would the world be if we all did good, sheesh.

    I just have one question to your response. How can your God be all-loving when innocent children, who have no belief system yet, suffer, and suffer at the hands of adults who do have faith?

  • Bad

    I'm afraid that doesn't really answer anything for me John: it's first of all about a different question, and second of all doesn't really explain any of the issues on the table, such as what free will is or how it works or even why it's incompatible with people being such that they simply choose not to do evil always.

    As I said, concepts like "Zombified Automatons" have a lot of emotional resonance and images behind them to things that we think we know, but they don't ultimately make much sense in the context of trying to explain what our wills are, and why they are the way they are, and why they couldn't simply be otherwise. We can think of being controlled and not having any will of our own, but that's really not particularly analogous to the question of us being a certain way internally because of past events that shaped who we are.

    Nor does it particularly explain anything about evil that is simply part of the natural world, such as natural disasters, which kill infants just as surely as any human murderer.

  • Ron

    I think experience can be personally convicting. I know it has been for me. I agree though that it holds no power to convince others for the very reason that it was only experienced by me.

  • Nick,

    My Love, I Love what you do to my Hypothalamus! The hormones excreted make you look hot in my eyes. Happy Anniversary!

    Doesn't rhyme but she'd laugh … and then there would be like no sex for a month. Or for a period of time that feels like a month. So… No.

  • Well said, Taryn.

    Great post, John. It was worth posting again, though I didn't read it the first time.

  • It is wrong always, everywhere, and for anyone to believe anything upon insufficient evidence.

    Well, Reason #1, I won’t debate any longer. The Theist thought of “doesn’t need a cause”, “no evidence” which is fine, is something I choose not to debate, because it always falls back on faith and I can’t walk in those shoes.

    For the second part where you Quoted C.S. Lewis, I’ll say this.

    Some, of us humans have come to trust our minds through testing, trial and experience of concrete facts that are not able to be disputed unless you shrug your shoulders and give the “just because” mind set.

    “The fact that our minds are a chance arrangement of atoms, then the sciences themselves would be chance arrangements of atoms and we should have no reason for believing them.” WHAT? This makes absolutely no sense. I get what the intended message is, but why should the fact that we’re here by chance, and everything else being here by chance, have anything to do with what we know is fact? I guess this statement very much relies on someone not being ok with being here by chance and having an overwhelming feeling of insignificants and needing to believe something else is looking out for them, fear maybe? I don’t know.

    “The trust of the argument is that naturalism undermines science at its very foundations because science assumes that we can rationally discover things about the universe because 1) we can be rational and 2) the universe is rationally ordered. This makes more sense from a Christian perspective then from an a naturalist perspective.” I think you are vastly over simplifying this. “1) We can be rational and 2)…”

    The sciences were not born because we believed the universe was naturally ordered, the sciences were born because unexplainable things happened to people that were able to derive theories, had the means to test those theories and could repeat said theories. Then they could apply that which the learned to other aspects of the unexplained and through ABSOLUTENESS make it science.

    We can be rational because after thousands of years we have grown as a species. The universe certaintly didnt appear rational back the when myth, magic and the bible were created and thus supernatural beings helped to explain a lot of what could not be tested and tried because the tools and technology simply did not exist. The universe is very complex, sure. But we are chopping away at it, as new science and technology is developed.

    I think the underlying message here is, I as an Anti-theist, am ok with being here by chance and I find it amazing that life finds away. I cannot for a second think, that anything as complex as even a honeybee was created by any single “being”. I of course get that when you call that thing “God”, it becomes an all-powerful being capable of anything, I might as well shut my brain off and chalk it all up to that “God”. Because why would should I care, if my life is ultimately in the hands of a “God” why even bother?

  • It is not irrational to contemplate that there might be some unknown higher power that kicked something off some where. Though there is no direct evidence of such a power, science (for the most part) does not have any deeply satisfying answers for anything that might have occured up to the point of the big bang. This would be the deistic stance.

    It IS irrational to believe in any of the characters from the Abrahamic faiths (let alone mormonism, scientology, et al) as those faiths make truth claims that have been refuted . . . soundly. Evidence is non-existent . . . completely. Bronze-age, human-written texts are flawed . . . invariably. ‘Spiritual’ experience has been reproduced by science . . . electro-chemically.

    That being said, a personal faith should not be condemmed if it stays just that . . . personal. When public policy, education, health care and more are warped through mythology . . . then ‘you got some ‘splainin to do’.

  • Taryn Anderson

    Pardon my unintellectual answer here, but I’ll insert it anyways. For the Christians my response is directed. I know that intellectual thinking is good, and I’m not bashing it in any way. But sometimes when we get so rapped up in the arguments and debates, we lose sight of something very important.

    Jesus said we must be like children to enter the kingdom. Children don’t think in scientific terms, they don’t debate the reasons why and why not. They simply believe. That’s all that God wants from us. A simple belief in Him. I’ve taken the philosophy classes, I’ve thought of theology, but the thing I like best is the simple, child-like faith.

    Yeah, it doesn’t have the answers some people are looking for, but for Christians, it should be enough.

    Don’t know if this really fits in here, but I felt like inserting it anyways.

  • Nick, Thanks for the suggestion. I’ll have to shop for that Hallmark Card on my next anniversary. I do see your point. And as I said (and as you discovered), I really can’t explain mine.

  • Ric, you better make that card before someone else does, you know they will sell!! ;o)

  • Ron

    Nick H,

    I typed too fast and was unclear in that sentence you quoted. What I meant to say was that, “If our minds are caused by chance arrangement of atoms, then the sciences wouldn’t make much sense because rationality doesn’t come out of irrationality. Assuming that the universe has no divine Mind behind it, doesn’t it seem out that the universe is rational? That is, if materialism was true then why would their be such a thing as reason or logic?” Something to that effect anyway. I fear that you are missing my point here.

    In your comment you keep assuming what is in question, that is whether we are here by chance or by intention. May I ask why you comment on this blog? I ask because if your reason for being here is to bash Christians and Christianity then I don’t think this discussion will be productive. But if you are honestly skeptical and would place your trust in Christ if presented with a good case, then perhaps it would be beneficial. Of course, only the Holy Spirit can convert someone. All any other human can do is help remove the intellectual barriers. This all depends though on your will.

    Dang, I would say more but I have to get back to work…

  • Ron

    That should read, “doesn’t it seem weird”

    I really ought to read over my comments. Or get more sleep at night.

  • Ric, I love the card… it sounds fantastic. Not a lot of people would get it. So, it might be a good call to let it go. Ha Ha!

  • Doggone it, Nick H, I read down the whole page making mental notes about things I wanted to say, and every time, there you were saying it first, and probably better than I could. Particularly the point about if Religion A has it right, then Religions B-F, along with the atheists, must be wrong. (Which really gets scary when Religion A decides that its mission is to convert the world.) So I not only have to believe Christians are right, I have to believe they are "more right" than Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, etc? Somebody explain to me how that works.

    John, coincidentally, I read Harris's "Letter to a Christian Nation" just a few weeks ago, and I agree with your assessment. He's so logical and concise that I may never plow through "The God Delusion" and "God Is Not Great," which are currently gathering dust on my shelf.

  • Ron, I understand more of what you meant to say now. But I have no time to comment, so maybe later.

    However I just want to clear up something. I’m not here to bash Christianity or Christians. I’m an Anti-theist sure, so I’m against religion. However like anything else in my life, if I were given a substantial case for the existence of the Christian God or any other God, then yes I would likely convert and believe.

    My non-believing status has not come easy and is not like I woke up one day and just decided to do it. I look at the world like I manage, from an outside perspective, with just the facts in front of me.

    Religion has caused the great majority of wars in written history, including the current war in Iraq; religion has adverse side effects on society. I’m not saying religion hasn’t done good things, and the followers of certain religions aren’t human and able to make mistakes, but I just can’t for the life of me understand how God is supposed to the provider and meaning of “good” when he/it/they/her allow for such hypocrisy and atrocities to take place. How a person can suddenly find Jesus and be given a lighter sentence and more accepted/forgiven within a given society for heinous acts. I can keep going on and on. If you can see it from my point, as I HAVE seen from your vantage point, I think it’s very sad to see that there is one SCIENCE and many-many religions, yet blindly people can choose faith over fact.

    So again, I’m not meaning to bash religion, whatever gets your through the day, is cool with me. When it begins to affect me, my family and my friends I do feel the urge to stand up and ask questions and sometimes make strong remarks, because they are necessary at times to get my point across when explanation is not enough.

  • Bad

    Ron, your and C.S. Lewis’ argument is simply the genetic fallacy: there’s simply no compelling logic there. Arguments like “then the sciences wouldn’t make much sense because rationality doesn’t come out of irrationality” don’t themselves make any sense because they juggle unrelated and misapplied concepts (for instance, there’s nothing “rational” or “irrational” about a particular state of reality: rationality is a quality of arguments, not of facts: there’s nothing “irrational” about there not being someone that intended for a boulder to roll down a hill).

    This is what I find so disappointing about theological arguments in general: they simply toss out some words and concepts, often just with a lot of emotional resonance, but they just don’t add up to anything, And yet, because God is involved, we just pretend that they do: they get a free pass for some reason. It’s roundly hinted that theological explanations explain things better than anything else… but then no explanations ever show up. Not even bad explanations: NO actual explanations, when you unpack the claims made.

    Morality is a good example: it’s claimed that theism somehow explains morality better than any non-theistic situation, or perhaps is the ONLY explanation. But then when it comes time to explain what morality is and where it comes from, there is nothing but begged questions and “just because we say it is” answers, none of which provide any insight into the problem we set out to solve.

  • Ron

    I hear you, Nick H. It’s good that you are open to faith if the evidence warrants it. I think there is both evidence and reason to believe in Christianity. I could even recommend books to you if it is just an intellectual barrier that you have. However, this is not just a matter of one’s intellect but one’s whole being. There is a lot there about one’s aims, desires, and such that can also get in the way. If Christianity it true then man is in a state of rebellion against God and does not want to believe. Repentance and faith don’t come easy to the natural man. Heck, they don’t come easy to me.

    I agree that a lot of wars are caused by religion. There are a lot of twisted religions out there that promote people doing evil things. There have also been wars about the Christian religion. But, I think that Christianity specifically should be judged by the claims and teachings of the New Testament. If Christianity is true then seeing evil religious people in history is not surprising. All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

    I don’t think I can solve the problem of evil in this post. I don”t pretend to have a solid solution to it, except to say that having faith in an all-loving God may not make sense to us because of our very limited and finite perspective but that it might make sense in the big scheme of things. Of course, believing in an all loving God is a risk. It has always been a risk. No amount of Christian philosophy has been able to make the risk go away. I don’t think God would want it to go away.

  • Well, as it happens, I CAN solve the problem of evil. Good thing I stopped by!

    Not too long ago I wrote a piece called “Evil: Surprise! It’s a Good Thing!”. It’s here:


    Thanks for all the great comments, you guys.

  • Taryn, the idea of a child-like faith is what I'd definitely associate with a religion that was made-up, to prevent and then cover up any criticisms, making any religion effectively unfalsifiable.

    1. Don't question what you're told.

    2. The Great Being works in mysterious ways.

    3. Science, a method of observation, examination and testing, cannot be used to examine a religious thing.

    4. If you don't believe, it's either your lack of open-mindedness or subconscious [lack of] belief that's stopping you.

    I'm a bit curious, though. What do, for instance, Christians, think about the religious fervour and experiences of Muslims, for instance? If Christians believe in their religion, then they must believe that Muslims are mistaken and that it is possible for pious, religious Muslims to be mistaken in their personal experiences.

    Do these Christians contemplate the fairly high possibility that it might be them who are wrong instead of the Muslims, the possibility that in fact both are wrong and Judaism is correct or that all of them are wrong? How does that work?

    Do people have a "religious experience" and just select the closest religion (e.g. Islam the middle east, Christianity in the States, Judaism in Israel) without finding out about the other religions, who could field the exact same [by default non-falsifiable] arguments against atheists?

  • ES

    "God became human to right us with himself. It’s … well, perfect."

    Yes, that is exactly what I would do if I were the omnipotent, loving creator of a universe containing billions of galaxies, each with billions of planets circling its suns.

    I would incarnate myself in a remote Middle Eastern area, invoke enough ire by dissing the local religion to get myself executed for religious reasons, and then make believing in my miraculous resurrection a contingency for "salvation" from my own wrath.

    Of course I would be sure that I myself left no writings and that there were NO contemporary accounts to confuse the issue.

    All roads do lead to Christianity, indeed.

  • M.A.

    Haven't posted comment in a while…work calls…but have been catching up to the recent blogs… Wow.

    Just reading this one's comments is overwhelming to an extent. Not that I haven't read or heard some of the hypotheses and logic arguments…

    Seems to me that when I get all up in my head, I ignore the straightforward simplicity of nature and thinking and humanity and, well, God. Whether or not people believe Jesus is who He says He is, you gotta admit He had a point when He talked about receiving the kingdom of God as a little child. We get so cynical. Why do we want things so complicated that we think and talk ourselves right out of life's beautiful things. Aren't some of these things why we appreciate a child's perspective so much?

  • lazy

    M.A. I agree with you a little and disagree with you a little …

    It's great to manage to keep the joy playfulness and amazement of a child when being a grown up. But that doesn't mean to shut down my brain, not think not be critical and believe everything that others want me to believe. Quite contrary the more one thinks and examines nature the more he discovers it's beauty. Most people look at a flower and say "oh it's pretty". But if you know what happens inside the flower, how it soaks the water from the ground and get' s energy from the sun and air and that it's pretty colors come from the way it's molecules swing and giggle and how it let's other molecules into the air which come into our nostrils and let us say wow it smells great, then it's not just a pretty flower it becomes something amazing and wonderful. There's a very smart guy who talked about the same thing just with better words…

    you can see him here

  • -30-

    I'm still waiting for a good explanation of why Christians (or any other religion, denomination, cult, etc.) think theirs is THE truth and all the other guys are wrong. When I was a child, if my mom or my minister said "Because I said so," that was reason enough. I'm not a child anymore (haven't been for a long time), and I need a better reason now.

  • Karen


    "Seems to me that when I get all up in my head, I ignore the straightforward simplicity of nature and thinking and humanity and, well, God. Whether or not people believe Jesus is who He says He is, you gotta admit He had a point when He talked about receiving the kingdom of God as a little child."

    Sorry to be skeptical (not cynical) but, this is why religion insists on people being submissive and accepting revealed truths from ancient holy books as "divine right" that's not to be questioned. This is how children are taught to obey parents, and how believers are taught to obey a divinity represented by priests and other authority figures.

    When you start to look at things more logically, objectively and "get all up in your head," you do start to see the flaws and illogic and contradictions of religious doctrine. The blinders come down and the questions start to fly. For instance, if the holy spirit is really at work in believers' hearts, as I was taught as a Christian, why is there no measurable distinction in their actions? Why is Christianity the "right" way to god and all other religions are wrong (as others have asked)?

    This is why de-conversion is an intellectual process and conversion is for the most part a highly emotional process that encourages turning off the brain, and "becoming like a little child" (i.e., obedience without question).

  • man way to sell out and bump your own post…jk

    i really like your last few posts, as i just came upon them. i’m often taken back at the fear of science many of my fellow christ-followers display. i’m currently reading “being a christian in a brave new world” by joni eareckson tada and while it highlights some areas of concern, it also embraces many advancements that have to be god-given in my opinion.

    it is interesting to witness the pure pride on both of these sides in terms of absolutes and the lack of acknowledgment that every theory/hypothesis requires faith.

  • lazy

    michael ,

    “…every theory/hypothesis requires faith.”

    For the n-th time this is not the case.

    The first thing that I do when I start up with a new theory or hypothesis is to try to prove it wrong. Or to see in which cases it does not apply. And if can’t prove it wrong and nobody else can than i continue work on it. Recall popper who said (simplified) that a good theory is one that is falsifiable.

    Creationism isn’t , the flying spaghetti monster isn’t and superstring theory isn’t. That’s why i don’t bother with any of them.

  • Karen, I hope you can hear the applause.

  • Doug

    Taryn, I don't know about you, but when I was a child I loved asking "why?" and I loved learning how things worked. I was curious. I liked asking questions. And I wasn't satisfied with adult answers like "because" or "I know better and someday you'll grow up and understand."

    I just don't see a child-like mentality in Christians. Instead, I see frightened and tired adults who have retreated from that initial playful curiousity. I see people who just want an easy answer to the hard questions, no matter how intellectually unsatisfying those kinds of answers are. People who got worn down by life and just want something to go along with. People who freak out whenever anyone questions the path they've taken because they've got doubts down deep inside but they are too afraid to do anything else.

  • Ditto.. thank God!

  • A similar sentiment, from the naturalist viewpoint, expressed by Owen Flanagan in The Problem Of The Soul: Two Visions Of Mind And How To Reconcile Them:

    "…If you or your friends believe in God because of these arguments, you believe in conclusions that logic will not support and in arguments that no decent logician will accept.

    I must admit to an urge to stop writing. The urge is not caused by fear of offending people, although this is what I'm about to do. The reason is this: I've explained why the arguments don't work to many smart students over the years. They almost always see why the arguments are abject failures. But many of them don't seem to care. I sometimes suspect that people don't really care if some of their most cherished beliefs are rationally groundless. This is sad, if true. Or bad, since we should want our beliefs to be true."

  • For one, nobody out-rationalizes Sam Harris. The guy has a brain the size of Europe—and all of it is connected to his mouth. He also seems entirely compassionate and utterly Pro-Human, two qualities I know I enjoy in a person. I think Sam Harris stands as pretty much the ultimate example of what a person can be and think when they insist that rational thought, above all, should be respected.

    FYI: Sam Harris has a new book out that I just ordered on Amazon. I look forward to reading The Moral Landscape: How Science Can Determine Human Values [ http://www.amazon.com/Moral-Landscape-Science-Det… ]. It addresses an old argument of non-overlapping magisteria . As is typical with publishers; the title is more overreaching than Harris' actual thesis. The subtitle should read How Science Can HELP determine human values.

  • I've been looking forward to reading this book since Sam's TED talk.

    Now to the important question: Why is the used hardcover more expensive than the new hardcover?

    Amazon, like god, seems to work in mysterious ways.