It’s That Time Again: Atheist Cranks Put Up Another of Their Annual Anti-Christmas Displays

Who reads the Bible more than the President of the Southern Baptist Convention?

Atheists.

Who talks about Jesus more than the Pope?

Atheists.

Who worries constantly about the fact that somebody, somewhere, might be enjoying Christmas?

Atheists.

Who misquotes the Bible and misapplies those quotes more than Archie Bunker?

Atheists.

In their annual campaign to ruin Christmas for the rest of us, the Freedom From Religion Foundation has somehow or other persuaded the government of Wisconsin to allow them to use the Wisconsin state capitol to promote their bizarro view of the world. The post, Tis the Season: Atheists stage “alternative” Nativity scene, by Deacon Greg Kandra who blogs here at Patheos at The Deacon’s Bench describes one of the many spitballs these folks throw in this annual Grinchfest. The article reads in part:

Atheists, clearly agitated that Christians purportedly “stole” various holiday traditions from pagans, have come up with a solution: A potentially-offensive “natural nativity scene” that removes baby Jesus and replaces traditional Bible characters with some eyebrow-raising alternatives. The Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) is behind the spectacle , which emerged this week as part of a diorama inside the Wisconsin state capitol.
The angel that typically graces the nativity is replaced with an astronaut. And the wise-men – prominent figures in the Biblical account of Jesus’ birth — are replaced with evolutionary theorist Charles Darwin, scientist Albert Einstein, anarchist Emma Goldman and author Mark Twain. The Statue of Liberty is also placed in the alternative nativity to purportedly symbolize freedom.
Rather than including Mary, whom the FFRF dismisses as “a mythical fertility figure,” the display includes Venus, the Roman goddess of love. And forget about Joseph — this depiction has Thomas Jefferson, a figure atheist groups enjoy touting for his purported church versus state views. According to the FFRF, Jefferson “would have disavowed Christian devotional scenes on state property.” (Read more here.)

My first thought on reading this is one I often have when I encounter the antics of these people: They don’t sound like adults.

My second thought is another one that I often have when dealing with them: They are obsessed with what they claim they don’t believe. I don’t know of any other group as obsessive, compulsive, negative and, finally, boring as evangelical atheists. Did I forget rude? Forgive me. I don’t know any other group of people as rude as evangelical atheists.

I don’t believe any saint in history thought about Christ and his Church as much as these people do. Based on their public utterances, they must think about Him 24/7. I would guess that when they aren’t out posting repetitive insults on Christian blogs and dreaming up equally insulting slogans to put on buses and in dioramas at Christmas, they must be perusing the Scriptures, looking for verses to take out of context and use for spears to hurl in their various attacks.

I was never a full and absolute atheist, but I did spend 17 years of my young life in an all-out anti-religion mode. I was probably more anti-God in my way than these people are. The difference is I was good at it. I didn’t spend my days obsessing over God. I didn’t read the Scriptures. I didn’t insult anybody. I just didn’t care. I left Christians alone in much the same way that I don’t now go busting into Free Thinkers’ meetings to razz at them. They’ve got a right to think what they want. And I don’t care.

You see, that’s what unbelief, or in my case, rejection, actually looks like. You don’t obsess over what you don’t believe. These people are odd. And they’re really negative and nasty in the things they say. I’ve said this before, but what they remind me of are adolescents who are searching frantically for significance. I think the reason they spend so much time driving the rest of us bonkers is because it makes them feel special and important.

All I know for sure is that Christmas 2012 is just around the corner, which makes it time for the cable networks to trot out their annual Christmas specials complete with “experts” to dismember the Nativity Story. It’s also time for the various atheist groups to file lawsuits in an attempt to suppress and oppress any ideas but theirs. Along with that they’ll treat us to ridiculous “Christmas” displays like the one in Wisconsin.

As for me, I’m just beginning Advent, which, unlike this nonsense, is a serious spiritual season. I have much to repent of, much to pray about and much to learn during this time. I don’t think I’m going to let the annual atheist attempt to ruin Christmas for everybody else distract me.

  • Sus

    From what I understand, historians have proved that Jesus was real person and was killed on a cross. From a secular point of view, why would it be bad to celebrate someone from history’s birthday? Isn’t it the same as Martin Luther King’s birthday? I don’t understand why atheists wouldn’t look at Christmas like this and enjoy all the lights and decorations. Even if you don’t believe, you can still enjoy all the festivities and decorations. If you don’t believe and don’t want to enjoy the decorations, ignore them.

    Some people will say what about the children that are being raised as nonsecular or atheist? It’s your job as a parent to weed out everything in this world you don’t believe and explain it to your kids. If you can’t do that, it’s not everyone else’s responsibility to do it for you.

    I think it’s obnoxious for people to try to convert uninterested people to their religion. It’s just as obnoxious when an atheist does the same thing.

    Please correct me if I have the history about Jesus wrong.

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      I’m not a historian, but from what I’ve read, I think you are correct.

      • http://fpb.livejournal.com/ Fabio P.Barbieri

        The date of Jesus’ birth in terms of day and month is proved – http://fpb.livejournal.com/270073.html – in day and month if not, curiously, in year – although 4BC seems the best estimate. And only cranks and fools reject his death on the cross. Actual classical historians such as Robin Lane Fox, by no means an admirer of Christianity, take all the New Testament narratives as historical documents. It’s those who do not study history as such who imagine that they can be dismissed.

    • Ted Seeber

      It has nothing to do with celebrating somebody’s birthday, and everything to do with an attempt to preserve politically correct censorship by force and farce.

      What I can’t believe is that anybody could describe that alternative display as pagan. Not a single character in it was from before 1850.

  • Dr. Peter John Resweber

    I’ve never been a big fan of Freudian theories.
    Still, doesn’t it seem that there’s an almost Oedipal quality to their approach?

    As in:
    “I can’t simply move away from, ignore or forget the father.
    “I must kill and supplant the father if I am to have any significance.”

    If God was truly irrelevant, they could and would simply move on.
    All the “sound and fury” gives the lie to their rhetoric.

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      I think so too.

      “If God was truly irrelevant, they could and would simply move on.
      All the “sound and fury” gives the lie to their rhetoric.”

  • Bill S

    I’m an atheist in what I believe deep down inside but at the same time I can’t deny the positive outweighing the negative as it applies to Christianity in general. Yet I see that some Christians including devout Catholics seem to vote and lobby/demonstrate in ways that tend to go against the personal freedoms found in a democratic society. The FFRF seems to be trying to strike at the root of Christianity, which is Jesus. They oppose anything that gives any validity to his claim to divinity. Of course, reverence for his birthday is especially inappropriate to them. I myself enjoy Catholic tradition and any secularization that has been mixed in with it.

    • Ted Seeber

      That’s one thing that has been puzzling to me about you Bill. You claim to have been convinced by New Atheism- but the majority of New Atheism isn’t anything close to sensible logical argument, it’s all rock throwing, vandalism, and performance art.

      Even the most intellectual New Atheists, like Dawkins and Hawking, create arguments that seem much more aimed at unthinking American Southern Baptist “We are the BodyGuard of King David’s Line, not Christians” (I’m thinking Westboro Baptist in specific) types than what Pope Benedict XVI called “Rational Religions” in his address to the University of Regansburg.

      So what attracted you? Is it just the culture of death/avoidance of suffering stuff you’ve been spouting here, or was it something more rational?

      Because I’ve got to tell you, I find the avoidance of suffering to be rather cowardly. Maybe it’s because I spend 3 days a month in a dark room with a migraine, and know what chronic pain is, and have actually *been tempted* to suicide by it, to know that what the terminally ill need is not release from life, but just more understanding and care.

      • Bill S

        Wow Ted,

        That must be difficult having to deal with that condition. I must be a coward because I definitely seek the avoidance of suffering, not only for myself but for others. That’s why I was so interested in Question 2. I’ve since been convinced that it was not a good law to vote for.

        I’m sorry, but the term “Rational Religions” sounds like an oxymoron to me. If rationality is the only factor in choosing between the Catholic faith and the New Atheism, I would go with the latter. But I am interested in what people like you have to say and I believe that there will always be a need for the Catholic Church even though I disagree with many of its teachings.

        It’s always good to hear your point of view. There you are a conservative from Oregon, and here I am, a liberal from Massachusetts, both Knights but with different opinions on Faith and Patriotism. Don’t pass up on the 4th degree. You’ll get a lot out of it.

  • http://www.philomenasmile.wordpress.com Anna Dawson

    These folks recently had a fit about a cross on the town seal of Buhler, KS (near where I grew up). It makes me wonder what would happen if these folks came to the town where I attend Mass: The town is named after the Blessed Virgin, is centered around the Catholic church and school there, the priests lead religious processions through town that can block the main road for half an hour or more, public Nativity displays (and, granted, a menorah tossed in to represent). There are streets with names like Calvary Road and St Joseph’s Landing, and statues, crosses, and symbols on houses and businesses all over town. I think FFRA folks would cross the bridge into town and immediately burst into flames.

    More evidence perhaps that they really are vampires?

    • http://www.philomenasmile.wordpress.com Anna Dawson

      And if they didn’t burst into flames, there’d be a city full of people who’d just say, “Aw, shut up” and ride them back out of town. Folks need to stop rolling over to let these people take away what they don’t believe in.

  • http://jessicahof.wordpress.com/ Jessica Hoff

    How sad these adults are not better educated and have so little sense .

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      True.

  • http://nebraskaenergyobserver.wordpress.com neenergyobserver

    Someplace I once read that hate is the inverse of love but, the opposite of love is indifference. My reaction is the same as Rebecca’s, I just wish they’d quit scaring the horses.

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      I’ve seen that attributed to various people, including St Augustine, Sigmund Freud, and Eli Wiesel. You can see how each of them might have meant it. Whoever said it, they were onto something.

      Love the quip about the horses!

  • Terry

    I think the athiests protest way too much and that makes them irrelevant.

    • Bill S

      Would you say the same thing about pro-lifers?

      I don’t see atheists protesting as atheists that often. Are many of the people protesting atheist, that I don’t know.

      • Dr. Peter John Resweber

        Apples and Oranges much?

        Of course no rational person would “say the same thing about pro-lifers”.

        This is because there is almost no rational way to equate:

        1) Supporting someone’s right to live
        …and…
        2) Supporting someone’s “right” not to encounter any ideas they dislike.

        • Bill S

          Rational people say the same thing about pro-lifers all the time.

          I don’t support anyone’s right not to encounter any ideas they dislike. That would be ridiculous. If that is what the FFRF is doing, I am against it.

          • Dr. Peter John Resweber

            Define “rational”.

            • Bill S

              Using reason and logic, as opposed to dogma and superstition.

              • Dr. Peter John Resweber

                In that case, “rational” people do not “say the same thing about pro-lifers all the time”.

                Because and as already noted “there is almost no rational [aka: reasonable and logical] way to equate:

                1) Supporting someone’s right to live
                …and…
                2) Supporting someone’s “right” not to encounter any ideas they dislike.”

                • Bill S

                  I should not have said “all the time”. I stand corrected.

                  No. There is no rational way to equate the two. I stand corrected again.

                  • Dr. Peter John Resweber

                    Fair enough.

      • Dr. Peter John Resweber

        Follow up:
        You may have had a bit more of a point if you rephrased your question to ask,
        “Do both groups truly act consistent with their stated convictions?”

        If atheists truly were convinced and focused by the idea that God was no more than a superstition or a silly childhood fantasy, they’d probably learn to ignore the rest of us and let us live in peace.

        If pro-lifers truly were convinced and focused by the fact that we kill over three and a half thousand children each day, they’d probably do much more to stop the slaughter.

        • Bill S

          “If atheists truly were convinced and focused by the idea that God was no more than a superstition or a silly childhood fantasy, they’d probably learn to ignore the rest of us and let us live in peace.”

          I agree. I feel that Catholics should do the same in regard to gays. Ignore them and let them live in peace, which includes enjoying equal rights under the Constitution.

          “If pro-lifers truly were convinced and focused by the fact that we kill over three and a half thousand children each day, they’d probably do much more to stop the slaughter.”

          I don’t know what more they can do that wouldn’t be counterproductive. Maybe you need to re-assess your definition of children.

          • Dr. Peter John Resweber

            “Maybe you need to re-assess your definition of children.”

            Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight. ;)

            Because redefining some subset of the human race such that it has no rights has always worked so well in the past.

            • Bill S

              I’m just saying that I wouldn’t call week old fertilized eggs “children”. Some people see no difference between ending a pregnancies and killing children. It is the same thing to them and that is just so wrong.

              • Dr. Peter John Resweber

                On what “rational” [aka: reasonable and logical] basis do you deny their humanity?

                The reasonable and logical science of biology is against your position that they are not human.

                • Bill S

                  I should not have said “all the time”. I stand corrected.

                  No. There is no rational way to equate the two. I stand corrected again.

                • Bill S

                  Forget that last response. It was misplaced. I was only disagreeing with you calling them “children”. Can I call myself “Doctor” because I have the potential to be one someday? In nature, not all eggs, embryos, etc. make it to birth. I know, the ones that die naturally do so at God’s will and the same end result by human means is against God’s will. I get it.

                  • Dr. Peter John Resweber

                    You are reasonable up above; but, here your reasoning is getting progressively more strained. By what passes as the logic of your snarky rebuttal, should I not be opposed to murder or to rape because all people eventually die and (before that) many of them willingly have sex?

                  • Dr. Peter John Resweber

                    Follow up and as a response to your other point (namely “I was only disagreeing with you calling them “children””) I would essentially reinforce and repeat my unanswered, earlier question:

                    Why NOT call them children? Or as I put it earlier, ON WHAT “RATIONAL” [AKA: REASONABLE AND LOGICAL] BASIS DO YOU DENY THEIR HUMANITY?

                    The reasonable and logical science of biology is against your position that they are not human(children).

                    • Bill S

                      “The reasonable and logical science of biology is against your position that they are not human(children).”

                      I can say all children are humans but not all humans are children. Yes, they are humans, and to you, a fertilized egg is a child. So you can call them children and I won’t belabor the point.

      • Rebecca Hamilton

        Bill, there are quite a number of atheist who’ve tried to comment on this post that I haven’t allowed for the simple reason that I don’t want the discussion hijacked by their one-note agenda. I’m thinking about doing an entire post, discussing their comments.

        • Bill S

          That would be good. I appreciate you letting me have my say. As you know, I am both a practicing Catholic and an atheist. If I ever got some satisfactory answers, I would drop the atheist part in a heartbeat. It hasn’t made my life any better and it is hard for me not to start arguing with the Catholics around me. This is my only outlet.

          I would like to read some of the comments by those who were censored.

  • http://fpb.livejournal.com/ Fabio P.Barbieri

    Who reads the Bible more than the President of the Southern Baptist Convention?
    Atheists.
    Who talks about Jesus more than the Pope?
    Atheists.
    Who worries constantly about the fact that somebody, somewhere, might be enjoying Christmas?
    Atheists.
    Who misquotes the Bible and misapplies those quotes more than Archie Bunker?
    Atheists.

    You know, you’ve got the kernel of a really nice satirical song here. Just tighten up the lines a bit and you might have the first stanza of something like the Cowardly Lion’s courage song. Which is exactly what we need here: not arguing – because nothing about that fanfaronnade in Wisconsin calls for arguing – but blasting them off the ground with a storm of Homeric laughter. How did things ever get this stupid, after all?

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      I never thought of a song. If someone wants to do something with it, I’d love it, but that’s not my talent.

      As for how did things ever get this stupid, I’m with Forrest Gump: Stupid is, as stupid does.

  • JoFro

    My anger is not directed at the idiotic atheists and their war on Christmas! My anger is at the spineless imbicles in town coucils who capitulate to their idiotic demands because they threaten to sue…and then make the excuse that they do not want this to be dragged to the courts and they do not have the money to fight this…oh puhleeze! Spineless snivilling cowards!! Are you telling me they cannot go to church groups around the country and get lawyers and christian groups to come and fight alongside them against these childish threats? For crying out loud, I’m sick and tired of reading stories of towns losing their heritage because the men and women they voted in do not have the balls to deal with these idiots…

  • Bill S

    Atheists are just trying to point out the correlation between religion and intolerance. If they are right and there really is no God, what does that make Christianity? Why should anyone listen to the Catholic Church when is comes to matters of personal freedom? Why bash homosexuality? Why oppose contraception? Why attribute infallibility to the Pope?

    These are legitimate questions if atheists are right, and maybe even if they are wrong.

    • http://fpb.livejournal.com/ Fabio P.Barbieri

      Atheists are intolerant. They should feel right at home. Oh wait, it’s not their own intolerance that they claim to oppose.

      • Bill S

        As many things that you find intolerable in a religion like Islam, someone who has been convinced by science that all religions are wrong finds as many things intolerable in your religion. Its OK to be intolerant when you find something intolerable. For example, Catholic opposition to abortion at any stage of pregnance, even day one, is intolerable. The Church’s teaching against the use of condoms is intolerable considering the benefits. The sex abuse scandals are obviously intolerable as is the requirement of celibacy, which is a contributing factor. The attitude of Catholics toward homosexuals is intolerable. So to say that atheists are intolerant is not as much of an insult as you may think since there is so much to be intolerant of.

        • Rebecca Hamilton

          Bill, I don’t think most of the atheists who try to post on this blog are “convinced by science.” They are, rather, poseurs, pretending to be intellectuals because it makes them feel important.

          • http://peicurmudgeon.wordpress.com peicurmudgeon

            This one is very much ‘convinced by science’

            • Dr. Peter John Resweber

              Really?

              You are ‘convinced by science’ that there is no God?

              Please elaborate…

              • http://peicurmudgeon.wordpress.com peicurmudgeon

                The argument is actually the other way around. Research in virtually every field has been successful at explaining the universe without the need for any god or aspect of the supernatural. It there a god? Possibly, but highly unlikely.

                • Dr. Peter John Resweber

                  Ah, so the a priori assumption is taken as proof.

                  Interesting way that your mind works (but very unconvincing and very unscientific).

                  • http://peicurmudgeon.wordpress.com peicurmudgeon

                    What a priori assumption is that? Do you mean the assumption that there is a natural explanation for phenomena? Without that assumption, we would still believe that lightening and thunder were caused by angry gods.

                    Please, if you say that my mind works in an uinscientific manner, please explain further.

                    • Dr. Peter John Resweber

                      Yes, precisely. The a priori ASSUMPTION “that there is a natural explanation for phenomena” is a useful and valid part of the scientific method. However, that ASSUMPTION is not in and of itself of proof of anything and by definition it cannot speak to the reality (or lack thereof) of what you would call the unnatural (perhaps more properly the supernatural).

                      Confusing useful assumptions with derived proofs is utterly unscientific.

                      If you claim to operate from science you should at least understand the basics that any reasonably intelligent junior high student could explain.

                    • Dr. Peter John Resweber

                      What would happen if we apply a type of reductio ad absurdum to your previous failed attempt at ‘scientific’ reasoning?

                      We might then argue (completely irrationally) that “research in virtually every field has been successful at explaining the universe without the need for any [Peicurmudgeon] or aspect [thereof]. I[s] there a [Peicurmudgeon]? Possibly, but highly unlikely”.

          • Bill S

            I actually think it is just the opposite. I think they have a fascination with science. They look at the Big Bang, 14 billionyears ago, the creation of earth 4 billion years ago, the creation of life 700 million years ago (don’t hold me to these numbers. You get my point). The evolution of life that has resulted in the human race as possibly the most intelligent beings in the universe (who knows?). If they see any possibility for God, they don’t see it as a person but as the intelligence that created the laws of nature. Ancient story tellers knew next to nothing about such a God and modern scientists don’t even think that such an entity was even necessary to get us from there to here.

            I personally believe that the Catholic faith evolved for a purpose and that this world would have been in far worse shape without it. But it needs to continue to evolve and it is falling behind at a rapid pace.

  • http://peicurmudgeon.wordpress.com peicurmudgeon

    Wow, build strawmen and take them down. The atheist law suits are not about ‘hating’ christmas, they are about the junctiomn of church and state. No atheist cares anout nativity scenes on private property. The lawsuits all focus on public (taxpayer owned) property.

    Atheists are still one of the most hated groups in America and are actually fighting against the prejudices they face every day. Some go overboard, but as in so many things, the dividing line between enough and too much is subjective.

    Misquoting and mis-applying bible quotes? Again, a matter of opinion as the differing sects of Christianity differ in their interpretations of the bible, and each believes they alone are correct.

    • Bill S

      “Atheists are still one of the most hated groups in America and are actually fighting against the prejudices they face every day.”

      If I were to tell anyone I know that I am an atheist, my life as I know it would be over. I’d have to find a new wife, new friends, new everything. I think that if there were a God and I knew there were, it would be worth it to state that belief (maybe – it would have to be a God that required people to believe in Him). But there is no purpose in telling people I don’t believe.
      I’m not going to ruin my life for a non-belief. I don’t know how many people feel that way but I can’t be the only one.

  • http://peicurmudgeon.wordpress.com peicurmudgeon

    @ Dr. Peter John Resweber You are mistaking assumptions for conclusions. I assume there must me a natural cause for thunder. Following investigation I have proven my assumption correct. So far, virtually all scientific endeavours have functioned in the same manner.
    You really aren’t helping your arguments with personal slurs.

    • Dr. Peter John Resweber

      @Peicurmudgeon:

      a) Show me the mistake in my logic.

      b) Show me the personal slur.

  • http://www.peicurmudgeon.com peicurmudgeon

    @ Dr. Peter John Resweber for some reason, I cannot reply directly below your comment.

    There are a couple of obvious problems with your last comment. You are corre
    ct in your statement that my existence or non-existence is not established by a naturalistic or scientific explaination. However, most proponents of god ascribe some explanatory power to that entity. None is attached to me.

    Also, I have a physical presence. I type, therefore I am. Should you require proof, I can send you my address and you can met me in person.

    • Dr. Peter John Resweber

      Re: “For some reason, I cannot reply directly below your comment.”

      Fair enough and no (significant) problem.
      Technical glitches can be frustrating. :(

    • Dr. Peter John Resweber

      Re: (the rest)
      a) So you concede that your (and presumably God’s) “existence or non-existence is not established by a naturalistic or scientific explaination”. If I was simply interested in rhetorically “besting” you I could stop there. Point conceded and debate done.

      b) However, you follow up the previous point with an interesting caveat worth exploring further (namely that “most proponents of god ascribe some explanatory power to that entity”). I think you may be performing an inadvertent category error here. Most DO ascribe explanatory power to God; but, not in the sense you seem to mean here. God is not inconsistent with science but He is beyond it.

      By way of woefully inadequate metaphors, science may be able to explain musical notes and paint patterns. But science is utterly inadequate to truly explain beauty.

      Science can explain pheromones and sexual attraction. But science is utterly inadequate to truly explain love.

      Science may be able to explain certain social interactions and even origins of species. But science is utterly inadequate to truly explain life’s meaning.

      God is beauty and love and life’s meaning.

      c) You note that “Also, I have a physical presence” and that I could meet you in person. Indeed, I believe this is true. And yet, I HAVEN’T met you. Why do I believe? I wonder…would you actually have to meet me to believe I exist? Rather, would you take our interactions as sufficient proof? Failing that would you accept the testimony of others who have met and interacted with me as sufficient proof?

  • http://www.peicurmudgeon.com peicurmudgeon

    For logic, see my other post.

    If I suggested that your logic, was at a junior high level, would you consider it to
    be an insult?

    • Dr. Peter John Resweber

      Re: For logic, see my other post.

      Ditto and see above for my response. You have still not shown where my logic is faulty (in fact, you essentially conceded that it was sound).

      Re: If I suggested that your logic, was at a junior high level, would you consider it to be an insult?

      http://libelandslander.uslegal.com/defenses/truth/ ;)

  • http://www.peicurmudgeon.com peicurmudgeon

    Back to the original post, I am disappointed that Ms. Hamilton, as a lawmaker, is criticizing people for recognizing the separation of church an state.

  • http://www.peicurmudgeon.com peicurmudgeon

    I god is outside science, he is outside of physical interactions and irrelevant to our daily lives. While we may rely on the evidence of others to ‘prove’ our existence to one another, it does not change the fact that, should you choose, you could see for.yourself using your senses. The same cannot be said of god.

    Neuroscientists have made great progress in explaining how and why we interact as we do, we do not need god to explain love anymore than we need god to explain enything else.

    • Dr. Peter John Resweber

      Re: “I god is outside science, he is outside of physical interactions and irrelevant to our daily lives.”

      WRONG!
      a) First, I said beyond science not outside (I try to chose my words carefully and to convey meaning).
      b) Are love, beauty and meaning “outside of physical interactions and irrelevant to our daily lives”?

      Re: “While we may rely on the evidence of others to ‘prove’ our existence to one another, it does not change the fact that, should you choose, you could see for.yourself using your senses. The same cannot be said of god.”

      I am tempted to write “There are none so blind as those who will not see” and leave it at that. But, let’s continue to explore the limits of your logic/rhetoric. Can you directly see (using your own senses) Columbus, Alexander, Caesar, Newton, Hammurabi, or Tutankhamun? If not, do you therefore deny their existences?

      Re: “Neuroscientists have made great progress in explaining how and why we interact as we do, we do not need god to explain love anymore than we need god to explain enything else.”

      I am tempted to ask if you understand the meaning of the word “metaphor” but you might accuse me of “slurring” you again.

      • http://peicurmudgeon.wordpress.com peicurmudgeon

        What do you mean by ‘beyond’? From my understanding, it still means unmeasurable, and without way physical way of interacting with us. Love and appreciation of beauty are emotions that are fully explainable by neuroscience – either you mean this or they are metaphor. Choose.

        The phrase of none so blind.. also applies to those who refuse to see scientific evidence. So, you are correct, best not to use it.

        The examples you give of historical figures is also not applicable. Historians have techniques for establishing the veracity of individuals from the past. As in so many fields, evidence mounts and is accepted by experts.

        None of these things have any relationship to the existence or non-existence of a god. As I said earlier, the place for the supernatural interacting with our world gets smaller and smaller. We know now that god does not cause storms, disease, or affect plant growth. The earth is not the centre of the universe, nor is our solar system. There may be a god, but he seems to be growing more impotent as time goes on.

        • Dr. Peter John Resweber

          Re: “What do you mean by ‘beyond’? From my understanding, it still means unmeasurable, and without way physical way of interacting with us. Love and appreciation of beauty are emotions that are fully explainable by neuroscience – either you mean this or they are metaphor. Choose.”

          If you think that science already can fully explain every emotion that we have and every choice that we make (including ‘Why Bobby loves Janie more than Suzy’), you need to study more science. Alternately, if you think that “science can’t yet explain every emotion that we have and every choice that we make – but I know that one day it will be able to do so” then you have made a faith statement and are no longer engaging in actual science.

          With that being said, let me now try to address the previous question (What do you mean by ‘beyond’?). I contrasted ‘beyond’ with ‘outside’ because their implications are somewhat different. To me, something ‘outside’ of rationality is something which negates or is inconsistent with rationality. However, something ‘beyond’ rationality is fully consistent with rationality and does not negate rationality (as far as that goes). Nevertheless, it is something which cannot be fully contained or explained by rationality.

          Your faith statement reductionism notwithstanding, no one has yet fully explained love (not psychologists, not psychiatrists, not physicians, not biologists, not even neuroscientists). Each of these specialties can say something about love (or beauty or the meaning of life) but none of them (and no combination of them) has yet done any of these experiences full justice.

          By the way, they are both (metaphor and not). Love and beauty and the meaning of life are things which are absolutely real and yet beyond the explanatory powers of science. In this way they serve as useful metaphor for explaining what I mean by a God who is beyond science…a God who is absolutely real…a God who neither negates or is inconsistent with science…but still a God who cannot be fully explained by science or contained by it.

          Re: “The phrase of none so blind.. also applies to those who refuse to see scientific evidence. So, you are correct, best not to use it.”
          & Re: “The examples you give of historical figures is also not applicable. Historians have techniques for establishing the veracity of individuals from the past. As in so many fields, evidence mounts and is accepted by experts.”

          I thought it might be good to combine these two ideas. Indeed let’s accept evidence. Do you refuse to accept the evidence that the historical figure of Jesus existed? That evidence is accepted by most experts (even among those who are not Christian).

          Re: “None of these things have any relationship to the existence or non-existence of a god. As I said earlier, the place for the supernatural interacting with our world gets smaller and smaller. We know now that god does not cause storms, disease, or affect plant growth. The earth is not the centre of the universe, nor is our solar system. There may be a god, but he seems to be growing more impotent as time goes on.”

          I spot no actual ‘rational argument’ here. I see simple rhetorical devices and repeating of a priori assumptions, nothing more. Perhaps I’m missing something? ;)

          • Dr. Peter John Resweber

            By the way, it’s probably useful to temporarily get “off track” and give a “heads up” to anyone else who may be following along in our little debate.

            What am I doing here? Apologetics.

            What do I mean by apologetics? What is it? Read on…

            You could probably get a lot of definitions depending where you look/research the idea. It might be good to start with “what it’s not” (at least from my point of view). Notwithstanding the phonetic and etymological similarities, apologetics is not apologizing. While there are many things in the faith that may need explaining, I would posit that there is nothing in it for which I must apologize. Apologetics is more about explaining and defending the faith. However, even that definition can be misunderstood and misapplied (in my opinion). You can’t really force or cajole anyone into believing. It just doesn’t work. So apologetics isn’t (or shouldn’t be) about “beating anyone down” with logic.

            Then what is it?
            The way that I’ve heard it best explained, the way that it makes the most sense to me is that:
            APOLOGETICS IS ABOUT REMOVING OBSTACLES.

            Often people want to believe. Often they think they should or could believe. But some misunderstanding is getting in the way. The job of a good apologist is to clear away those obstacles and misunderstandings so that the yearning of the heart can be realized.

            Fair enough?

          • Dr. Peter John Resweber

            Now after reading the immediately preceding post, dear reader, you may understandably ask the following:

            Wait. If that’s the case, why are you doing ‘apologetics’ with Peicurmudgeon?
            Clearly he has no interest in believing. Clearly he is opposed to belief.
            You already said apologetics “isn’t (or shouldn’t be) about ‘beating anyone down’ with logic”.
            You also said that no one can “really force or cajole anyone into believing. It just doesn’t work.”

            To that valid question I have at least a couple of responses.
            First, you never fully know what is in the heart and mind of another.
            Perhaps at some deep level that even he won’t admit, Peicurmudgeon actually does want to believe.
            Perhaps he acts so bitter and angry and combative because he feels that this option is cut off to him.
            Perhaps he has bought the lie that faith is inherently irrational and can only be embraced by simpletons.
            If so, I am doing him a service.
            The service is not in “forcing” him to believe (again, that really doesn’t tend to work).
            The service is in letting him see that intelligent and rational discourses are not inconsistent with a solid faith.

            On the other hand, what if he has truly and completely closed his heart and mind?
            What if he wouldn’t be convinced even if someone would return from the dead?
            Then what is the point? Isn’t this simply a waste of time?
            Not necessarily, because that is where YOU come in dear reader.
            If YOU need bolstering of your faith…
            If YOU secretly wonder if faith is inherently irrational and can only be embraced by simpletons…
            If YOU want to hear answers to some of the challenges to faith…
            Then my time is well spent on your behalf.

            • http://www.peicurmudgeon.com peicurmudgeon

              Although I said I wasn’t going to reply, I mst state that you simply do not have a god grasp of the latest understanding in neuroscience, and you continually.insert the statement ‘we don’t know, so god’. Sorry, but that is a dead end in understanding the universe.

              I did believe in a god once, but then I realized that the concept did not explain the world.

              • Dr. Peter John Resweber

                Could my communication possibly be that unclear?

                Let me simplify greatly for clarity.

                The statement you try to attribute to me of “we don’t know, so god” is:

                a) Not good science.

                b) Not good faith.

                c) Not good reasoning.

                and

                d) Not my position.

                • http://www.peicurmudgeon.com peicurmudgeon

                  It is the position you have been arguing. Science is obviously not your strong suite, and perhaps you don’t see the gaps.

                  • Dr. Peter John Resweber

                    If you believe it is the position I have been arguing, comprehension “is obviously not your strong suite”.

                    It also seems I may have been wasting my time trying to have a reasonable conversation with you…

  • Peg

    Hey Bill,

    Are you sure it’s the right thing to do to live a lie? Would telling those close to you that you don’t believe drive them away? It seems so unhealthy to live in duplicity. My brother identifies as Buddhist and does not believe and we talk all the time — we disagree but talk about it and care for each other. It’s hard for him sometimes in family gatherings but we jokingly remind him that he usually brings up religion first. And he knows that’s true but everyone loves him and enjoys his company. We also have gay family mbers who don’ believe and they are all welcome in the family too.

    If you love your wife you should be honest with her and she can work through things with you. Also I have many friends who are aerheiar or agnostic. What kind of friends would abandon someone for a differing belief. There may be limits to the friendship or behaviors that can’t be supported in good conscience…

    Their are brilliant reasoning minds out their in Catholicism where you could engage in a long discussion and research that would be more in depth than these

  • Peg

    Sorry accidentally hit publish–anyway there are places outside of com boxes to go more in depth and bright folks to discuss with. There’s also an aetheist who wrote for the village voice that has great arguments doe prolife. I’ve never met anyone who hates atheists just annoyed with them at times.

    No matter what belief system one follows it’s not good to not live honestly. I’ m praying for you and I know God is real– and I think a part of you wants him to be too. Take care.

    • Bill S

      Peg: I think it is great that you are able to interact so well with non-believers and still retain your faith. I don’t see how something like that could happen. To me, the argument against the existence of God is so strong that those that don’t buy it are in denial. On the other hand, acceptance of the argument can put someone over the edge. If you really want to hurt someone, take away their God.

      People around me who have faith live relatively happy and productive lives while I am on a disability for depression. Why would I want to bring them down? I debate with people I don’t know in the hope that they can tell me something I don’t know and return me to the faith. I hope that the faith of the person I am debating is strong enough that nothing I say will have any lasting effect on it and perhaps will even strengthen it. I hate the fact that there is no God after all the years I spent worshipping Him. I will search for these brilliant reasoning minds and when I find them, I hope I don’t hurt them. Thanks for your prayers. I don’t know how it works but I know it does.

  • Peg

    Thanks Bill,

    I would say there is evidence in those happy and productive lives–that is not the result of believing in a fairy tale. I feel tha same as you except from an opposite perspective. To me the evidence is overwhelming that God exists and that those who don’ except Him are in denial.

    Nothing anyone says or does can shake my faith. I spent a decade researching and rechecking including considering the strongest argents against. I found my proof in history, antiquity, prophecy, science and experience.

    I do feel that aethiesm is one of the most negative and soul crushing belief systems out there and produces anarchy and totalitarian regimes. I worry much for the souls of my family and friends who are there and see where they are blinded and live somewhat in darkness.

    I am guessing you have already looked at catholic answers and Scott Hahn. I bet you could find a catholic atheist debate out there that might be worth listening to. Would it hurt you to try making a full sacramental confession of your unbelief or even throw up a prayer regarding your disability and see what happens. Why not try out Pascals wager this season and see what happens. With Christ people live incredibly joy filled lives no matter the disabilities. Those faith filled folks around you as Christians would help and not feel burdened at all not if they are truly I’m Christ–they would want to move heaven and earth to help. Best of luck on your journey. Let people and Christ in just an inch and see what happens.

    • WFS

      “I do feel that aethiesm is one of the most negative and soul crushing belief systems out there and produces anarchy and totalitarian regimes.”

      I agree.

      ” I worry much for the souls of my family and friends who are there and see where they are blinded and live somewhat in darkness.”

      I wouldn’t worry. It’s a totally different worldview with its own meaning and purpose.

      I listened to an audio cassett of Scott Hahn a while ago when I was a believer. I made my Cursillo in 2009 and felt great until I decided that it was too good to be true.

      “Those faith filled folks around you as Christians would help and not feel burdened at all not if they are truly in Christ–they would want to move heaven and earth to help.”

      They satisfy me with things as they are. I am really not that depressed anymore and probably should not be on a disability. I was hospitalized and had to go on it for financial reasons and I kind of depend on it. I am self-employed which is as close as you can get to unemployed.

      Thanks for your advice and prayers.

      • Bill S

        Excuse the name change. I got blocked for posting too much earlier this morning when I was responding to several posts in a row and I forgot to change it back. My response has to go through moderation so you might not get it right away. I’m back to Bill S if I can get through.

  • Peg

    Sorry I thought of a few things. Chesterton’s Orthodoxy is a good read of his journey from agnosticism to faith. Ambrose writings are good too. I have a friend who has a great blog titled “Reflections of a Paralytic” that might be worth checking out. She is conservative but one of the coolest ones I’ve ever met. She’s young and smart and humble and has had to overcome a lot.

    Also, I really hope you are not receiving communion. Trust me on this one-you can do great harm if you don’ believe. Hang in there it really is the season of miracles and I think lots of folks on here will be praying for you.

    • Bill S

      If I had committed a mortal sin, even missing mass, I would not receive. I am going through the motions and I don’t see any harm in receiving. Thanks again for your prayers. You should be getting my first response soon.

  • Bob Seidensticker

    Don’t like atheist displays on public property? Not a problem–then the state should prohibit all religious displays. But if the state allows Christian displays, then it must allow other viewpoints. Makes sense, right?

    It’s hard to imagine that some people think that churches and believers’ front lawns aren’t sufficient to celebrate Christmas. Why is that insufficient?

    War on Christmas?

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      Bob I don’t want to get into a circular debate with you, but I can’t resist commenting on this. Your comment sounds like extortion. We’ll stop being such intolerable, insulting jerks if you just give up all your rights to free speech and not say anything that causes us to get angry and insult you some more.

      That’s exactly the argument that men who beat up women and children use, you know. “You ‘made’ me do it.

      I do like the fact that you admit by association that your atheism is a form of religion. If that’s true, then, by your own totalitarian approach to things, you should be banned from the public square the same way you want to ban everyone who disagrees with you. After all, Christians and Christian thought should be confined to their homes and behind the closed doors of their churches where they won’t offend anyone and “make” them attack with insults and jibes, right?

      The reason, btw, it is insufficient is that what you are so aggressively advocating is tyranny. No one has ever forced atheists to confine their speech and assemblies to their living rooms and behind closed doors, nor should they. It is equally reprehensible to try to do that to Christians.

  • Peg

    Bill, sorry it’s taken me awhile to get back, but there is great harm in you receiving communion in this state. I don’t know in your case if the three conditions are present but whether you are in mortal sin is not determined solely by your opinion. St. Paul warns severely in 1COR11 of receiving while not discerning the body and blood–you are bringing condemnation upon yourself.

    Also you aren’t just harming yourself- you do grave harm to our Lord’s body and the unity of Christ. You are harming the church–the whole body of believers-all of us by taking the Eucharist while not believing–this is very grave and I respectfully ask you to refrain while you are not in communion for yourself and all of us.

    Living honestly is the only way in life. Those willing to live a lie will likely believe a lie. Do you want to someday find out you were wrong about Christ and because of your actions forfeit eternity without him. I hope you will come back now before it’s too late–it will be harder the longer you hang on the fence. Go for repentance and grace and never look back. It’s the BEST! Peace

    • Bill S

      Peg,
      I have been trying to decide how to answer this. I could continue lying so as not to do any harm to anyone’s faith or feelings and tell you that I will stop receiving communion. Or I could be honest and tell you that I think you are misguided in your beliefs as I have been for 60 years.
      I accept your statement : “Living honestly is the only way in life.” And I am trying to do that but it is fraught with difficulties. Just as it is difficult to tell you that you shouldn’t think like that, it would be difficult for me to stop receiving communion just because I think it is just a symbolic act.

      At present, my only recourse is to assure you that no harm is going to come to anyone. You also should stop worrying about non-believers that you know. We all ought to concentrate on living good lives and not worrying about what will happen to us when we die. “Imagine there’s no heaven. It’s easy if you try. No hell below us. Above us only sky.

      I’m sorry to disrespect your faith, but I have to try to be as honest as I can even if I can’t all the time. Not to worry. Everything is going to be fine for you, me and those you worry about.

  • Peg

    Lennon may be rewriting that lyric now for all we know. I’m glad that you don’t want to hurt anyone but you are when you receive our Lord without belief. I know you don’t believe but we do and you know exactly what we believe and that’s disrespectful. I’ll say it for the last time you are playing with fire, eternal fire,the reality of which is not contingent upon your personal belief. As Dylan sang, “you’re gonna have serve somebody, it may be the devil, it may be the Lord, but you’re gonna have to serve somebody…”

  • Bill S

    Peg,

    The only person I seem to be hurting is you. I wish you wouldn’t worry about it so much. I think sometimes we just make problems for ourselves. I doubt very much that the God that created this universe cares one bit about what I believe or what I don’t believe. I accept what you have to say about living a lie and I am working on it. I’m sorry if any of this upsets you but you are just going to have to learn to live with it. You can’t expect people to change just to be consistent with your beliefs. I appreciate your concern, but I’m good.

  • http://www.maryckirchhoff.com Mary C. Kirchhoff

    Great article, Rebbeca. Very well stated.

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      Thank you Mary.


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