A little Bank Holiday entertainment.

So, Kelly posted a link on another thread to a “story” on USA today that’s got something of the “War on Christmas” feel to it, only for Easter. I had some time to kill (hey, it’s Good Friday, I’m taking a day off here) so I thought I’d burn a few of the straw-men. Think of it as educating the challenged. And boy is this guy challenged.

“How Easter and Christianity undermine atheism
By Anthony DeStefano [With notes for sceptics from Custador]

This Easter it seems that atheists have a lot to rejoice about. [We do? Happy days! Do tell!] According to the latest poll released by the U.S. Census Bureau in its American Religious Identification Survey, the number of self-proclaimed atheists in America has nearly doubled since 2001 — from 900,000 to 1.6 million. [Um… And? What are we celebrating here?]

In a nation that once prided itself on its Judeo-Christian heritage, [WOAH! Let’s drag that straw-man out of the fire before we start! America was founded mostly by Deists, not Christians or Jews] one out of every five Americans now claims no religious identity whatsoever; and the number of self-proclaimed Christians has declined by a whopping 15%. [Again, this matters to atheists… Why?]
Yes, those who believe in nothing seem to be winning more and more converts every year. [No. Nope. Nu-uh. That’s not how it works. We ain’t winning them, because we’re not evangelical. Most of us couldn’t give a rat’s ass what you believe so long as you keep it to yourself. No, my friend – we’re not winning them – YOU’RE losing them. Big difference].
The superstition of atheism
Of course, it’s not quite fair to say that atheists believe in nothing. They do believe in something — the philosophical theory known as Materialism [Sweet Gorilla of Manilla, you really don’t know what “atheism” is, do you?], which states that the only thing that exists is matter; that all substances and all phenomena in the universe are purely physical [1) That’s not what materialism is; 2) Atheists don’t necessarily believe in your version of materialism OR the actual real thing].
The problem is that this really isn’t a theory at all. It’s a superstition; a myth that basically says that everything in life — our thoughts, our emotions, our hopes, our ambitions, our passions, our memories, our philosophies, our politics, our beliefs in God and salvation and damnation — that all of this is merely the result of biochemical reactions and the movement of molecules in our brain [No, wrong again I’m afraid! The whole duality thing is the myth; the link between brain anatomy and chemistry and mood, behaviour and personality is well proven. Everything you are as a person really is contained in that friable lump of goo inside your skull. In short: You’re wrong, and provably wrong at that].
What nonsense.
We can’t reduce the whole of reality to what our senses tell us for the simple reason that our senses are notorious for lying to us [Er, no they don’t]. Our senses tell us that the world is flat, [again, no they don’t. The BIBLE says that. My eyes say it’s round. Seriously, go up in an airplane. Try it. Honestly]. and yet it’s not. Our senses tell us that the world is chaotic, and yet we know that on both a micro and a macro level, it’s incredibly organized [“Well organised”? Really? You’re reaching]. Our senses tell us that we’re stationary, and yet we’re really moving at incredible speeds. We just can’t see it [What a fantastic inability to grasp relative motion you have. If I stand still on the road, I’m stationary relative to the planet Earth, which is where I take my reference from because it’s what I happen to stand on and the only thing which has an appreciable gravitational effect on me personally. I can also “see” the Earth moving around the Sun perfectly well by noticing that the Sun appears to move across the sky].
But the most important things in life can’t be seen with the eyes. Ideas can’t be seen [Yes they can. I’ve got an idea, I’ll make a cup of tea, be right back…. TADA! And here’s my steaming hot idea, sitting on my desk. Lovely]. Love can’t be seen [Yes it can. The hormones that cause the feeling of love have been known for decades. The average biochemist could probably spin a pint out of your blood just from the reaction YOU get looking in a mirror]. Honor can’t be seen [Yes, it can. Honour is a behavioural system, nothing more, nothing less. Thus, you can “see” honour by watching how “honourable” people behave]. This isn’t a new concept. Judaism and Christianity and Islam and Buddhism have all taught for thousands of years that the highest forms of reality are invisible and mysterious [“taught”… I do not think that word means what you think it means. “made unfounded claims that” would be more accurate, in context]. And these realities will never be reducible to clear-cut scientific formulae for the simple reason that they will never be fully comprehensible to the human mind [I hate to fill-in the gaps that your God lives in, but… Well, actually I don’t need to, various scientific researchers have been doing it for me for centuries]. God didn’t mean them to be [And yet YOU personally know God’s mind well enough to make that assertion?].
No less a genius than Albert Einstein once said: “The most beautiful thing we can experience in life is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead: for his eyes are closed.” [He also said: “For me the Jewish religion like all others is an incarnation of the most childish superstitions.”
And he said “It was, of course, a lie what you read about my religious convictions, a lie which is being systematically repeated. I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it.”

AND he said “Scientific research is based on the idea that everything that takes place is determined by laws of nature, and therefore this holds for the action of people. For this reason, a research scientist will hardly be inclined to believe that events could be influenced by a prayer, i.e. by a wish addressed to a Supernatural Being.”

Did I win at Quote Mining and Appeal to Authority yet? Well, you started it.]

Too many people go through life today with their eyes closed. They miss out on the mysterious because they’re so fixated on what they can see and smell and touch and taste and hear [Are you saying that being atheist disbars me from using mind-altering chemicals?]. They’re so steeped in the “superstition of materialism” that they’re totally blind to the existence of another world — a radically different world than the one they’re familiar with, but a world nonetheless: a world of miracles, a world of grace, a world of angels, a world of diabolical warfare, a world where the highest values are completely opposite from those of our secular society — where weakness equals strength, sacrifice equals salvation, and suffering equals unlimited power. [Well, that was a self-righteous pile of needlessly asserted crap built on a foundation of pure bullshit… Did it have a point?]
Wishful thinking? Really?
Atheists, of course, claim that all of this is absurd. Christianity, especially [No, not especially. Christians are no more or less deluded than any other theists – hate to pop your persecution complex, but it just ain’t so], they say, with its belief in Easter and the Resurrection, is nothing but “wishful thinking” — the product of weak human psychology; a psychology that is so afraid of death that it must create “delusional fantasies” in order to make life on Earth bearable [Um. No. Really, no. You haven’t studied the psychology of faith, have you?]
But is it wishful thinking to believe in hell, the devil and demons? [Yes, because you get to feel all smug about people you don’t like going there, and have handy scapegoats for everything that goes wrong – THE DEVIL DID IT!] Is it wishful thinking to believe we’re going to be judged and held accountable for every sin we’ve ever committed? [Yes, because you’re so solipsist at root that you think “I did it = it’s the right thing to do” and are largely incapable of admitting you’re wrong. It’s very emotionally stunted, really] Is it wishful thinking to believe the best way to live our life is to sacrifice our own desires for the sake of others? [No, that’s just your indoctrination at work] Is it wishful thinking to believe that we should discipline our natural bodily urges for the sake of some unseen “kingdom”? [again, indoctrination].
And while we’re at it, is it wishful thinking to believe God wants us to love our enemies? For goodness sake, what kind of demand is that? [One that I’ve seen very, very few Christians follow, frankly. It’s been my experience that a shocking number of Christians are small minded, petty, insular xenophobes who equate “different” to “evil”].
If human beings were going to invent a religion based on wishful thinking, they could come up with something a lot “easier” than Christianity. After all, why not wish for a religion that promised eternal life in heaven, but at the same time allowed promiscuous sex, encouraged gluttony, did away with all the commandments, and forbade anyone to ever mention the idea of judgment and punishment? [Because then it wouldn’t be any use for controlling people. Obviously]
Wouldn’t that make a lot more sense? [No] And yet, atheists persist in this ridiculous notion that human beings “invented” God merely because we’re afraid of death and want to see our dead relatives again. [Atheists do no such thing. We couldn’t care less why God was invented – though as a matter of fact the real reasons differ markedly from your own bland assertions about what “we” believe] Amazing.
But atheists can scoff all they want. They can write all the bestselling books they want. No matter how hard they try, they will never succeed in making Christianity “a thing of the past.” [1) that’s not our goal, and 2) Christianity is doing perfectly well dying out on its own without any outside help] And they will never succeed in snuffing out that faith in God that all human beings naturally possess; a faith that is ingrained in our minds, hearts and souls forever. Why? [Because WE DON’T CARE WHAT YOU BELIEVE. Did you get that yet? We. Do. Not. Care].
Because aside from all the logical arguments for God’s existence [Name just ONE that stands up to competent debate] and all the miracles [which have no evidence] and all the truths [Alongside the glaring contradictions, the mistakes and the outright lies, you mean?] contained in Scripture, one simple fact remains: 2,000 years ago, on that first, quiet Easter Sunday morning, Christ did rise [prove it].
Anthony DeStefano is the author of the Doubleday book, The Invisible World: Understanding Angels, Demons and the Spiritual Realities that Surround Us.

DeStefano seems to have decided that “Atheism” is some big, moody, shadowy organisation that we’re all somehow connected to or affiliated with. I have to say I’m shocked that BS like that could get published on USA Today.

Bob Cargill on the Holy Grail
Where the Fire Comes From
Atheists in the Evangelical Mind
Meet The Wife

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