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.

  • http://skepticaljew.blogspot.com MKR

    Who would ever have imagined that the author of a book entitled “The Invisible World: Understanding Angels, Demons and the Spiritual Realities that Surround Us” would be given to faulty reasoning and erroneous beliefs! I’m going to tell all my invisible friends to boycott this DeStefano clown!

  • http://calabriarose.wordpress.com Kelly

    yay! Much more fun to read than the letter I rattled off to USA Today! Not that it’s exactly known for being great journalism, but what the heck!

  • http://blogs.geniocity.com/eby/ MahouSniper

    Well, this certainly solidifies my decision to never, ever buy USA Today. I might pick up free ones to use for kindling.

  • Dylan

    Here’s a fun game, you can quickly turn this article into an extremely controversial piece by replacing “atheist” with “Jew” or “Muslim.”

  • Pingback: A little Bank Holiday entertainment. | Unreasonable Faith « Carlton Enoch "On the Streets" Twitter Blog

  • Bill

    Custador – Loved the comments.

    Mine would have been considerabbly shorter and less enetrtaining: “Prove It!”

  • arrakis

    I’m glad I read this here with Custy’s comments. Had I read is sans annotations, I think my brain would have melted from teh stooopid.

    • B.O.B.

      Agreed. Reading the original parts was a bit like having a steaming pile of dung rubbed vigorously into my eyeballs.

      • Len

        I agree (although I don’t need to know how you know what that feels like).

  • Justice Gustin

    I thoroughly enjoyed the annotations. Keep them coming.

    @Custador- Hope you have a great day off.

  • SteveE

    USA today is getting removed from my Xoom and phone.

    Brilliant comments

  • http://fugodeus.com/ Nox

    “I have to say I’m shocked that BS like that could get published on USA Today.”

    I’m not.

    USA Today is basically Good Morning America: The Newspaper. They start by doing something sort of like journalism, then comb through it and water down or cut anything that might be offensive to people in Kansas. The end result is the pandering you see in this piece (slightly in their defense, it is in the opinion section).

    What I’m trying to figure out is how easter and christianity undermine atheism (which was the title of that article and was never really mentioned). I thought it was going to be something like “atheists shouldn’t celebrate religious holidays because it makes them look inconsistent” or something to that effect. All I could come up with in this article is “some people are still celebrating easter, so those who don’t are wrong”.

    • http://ohmatron.wordpress.com/ Custador

      I think the part where it was supposed to undermine atheism was the killer finish about “Christ DID rise!” (which I was going to subject to a morning glory joke), but the whole point of not believing something just because it’s in the bible is a bit lost on the author.

    • Noelle

      USA Today’s not a real newspaper. It’s what displaced travelers read in hotels over their free continental breakfasts. I didn’t even know it had an opinion section. Tell me people don’t actually spend money on it.

      I read the article a few times to figure out when the undermining was coming too. I don’t see it. A better argument would be that no one can resist Reeses peanut butter eggs and Cadbury eggs (mmm…chocolate-covered frosting), not even a hardened, aggressive, book-reading atheist. Oh, and those Starburst jelly beans. yum. Or how much fun it is to buy the kiddos presents, hide them in baskets, and make the little buggers search for them. And eventually I’ll have to explain why in the world we get to do this every Spring and what religion is and why we don’t do church. So if anything, Easter may be a delicious subliminal sugar-filled message to kids to be either Christians or pagans (or diabetics)

  • Mark the Pilgrim

    This was a great post; you should do more of these annotations. They’re hilarious and highlight the lameness of the author’s article. I hope to see more!

  • John C

    A little too much time on your hands there Custy? :) Nice reBUTTal bro.

    You and Charlie…winning!

    • Ty

      You are becoming less of the odd occasional poster, and more of just a complete asshat, Johnny boy. Is your frustration at your total failure to defend your faith here starting to wear on you?

      Also, capitalizing the naughty words hidden in the middle of other words is an awesome burn to 3rd graders. Time to step your game up a bit.

      • Jabster

        You need to remove the word “becoming” from you post Ty. John C has always been a cock spanner, is a cock spanner and will continue to be a cock spanner.

      • John C

        Defense of what? No defense required, that’s in the lower mind, all that contentious mess, is most unprofitable bro. All the best.

    • http://ohmatron.wordpress.com/ Custador

      Deary me, you test my patience, John. You really do.

      • John C

        Wasn’t intended the way you seem to have taken it. Honestly it wasn’t. Take care.

        • Skippy

          How did you intend it?

          • John C

            Merely as poking fun, not so much at Custy but the vanity of rebuttals, arguing in general, etc. How did it come across?

            • Skippy

              Like your typical passive aggressive jackassery.

        • http://ohmatron.wordpress.com/ Custador

          Comparing me with a drug-adled celebrity and calling me an arse “wasn’t intended the way I seem to have taken it”? You’re really claiming that? Wow.

          • John C

            I wasn’t calling ‘you’ an arse, i’ve never. I was simply making fun of the whole back & forth. Please accept my apologies, i’m sincerely sorry Custador, its my fault.

            I do hope you a wonderful weekend.

            • http://ohmatron.wordpress.com/ Custador

              You know, I really don’t mind you insulting me, John. It’d be hypocritical of me if I did – I just wish you had the spine to own it afterwards. Seriously. At least if you’d said “Yeah, I think you’re an arse and I said so, what of it?” I could respect you for being frank about it. But, just to recap, saying “A little too much time on your hands there Custy? :) Nice reBUTTal bro. You and Charlie…winning!” and then acting all surprised that people would read that as offensive? Unconvincing, John. Very unconvincing.

              However.

              Apology accepted.

            • John C

              Like I said, it wasn’t intended as an insult, really wasn’t. Kinda hard to joke with unknown folks via text I suppose, wasn’t too wise of me to even try.

              Thanks for your understanding.

            • Kodie

              You’re not good at jokes.

            • Jabster

              That’s because it wasn’t a joke – it’s typical cock spanner behaviour from John C. Insult someone and then try and claim that he didn’t as in his version of his character he doesn’t do that sort of thing but back in reality he does.

            • Sunny Day

              Remember your audience John. It’s almost impossible for someone to joke with a group of people who have zer0 respect for you.

  • Iason Ouabache

    And this guy is a professional writer. As in, people actually pay him good money to write this kind of dreck. Obviously I picked the wrong career path.

    • http://ohmatron.wordpress.com/ Custador

      To be fair, the line “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” should be a slight clue about how (un)sucessful as an author he is and how much he resents sucesful authors…

  • Skippy

    This guy purports to believe in “angels” and “demons”? Ugh. And his writing is more suited to Puffington Host’s “Religion” page.

  • Gabrielle Guichard

    Thank you for your comments. Usually, discussions that look like the original article leave me mute because the piling up prevents me from thinking at the arguments one by one and I don’t know how and what to reply.
    I may be wrong but I happen to feel that theists pile up arguments of all kinds because they don’t have a good one that could do the job.

  • http://slantrhyme.wordpress.com/ slantrhyme

    Isn’t USA Today referred to as “McPaper” by, you know, REAL journalists. All filling, no value, etc. But, I hardly doubt the average punter cares whether his paper or news source is considered credible by their professional peers (cue Fox News theme music).

    Thank you for the annotated version though. It did help assuage the stupid. All I want to do is find this Anthony DeStefano and publicly ridicule him, or at least let his ideas unravel themselves in public when faced with, well, these annotations would do just fine. Actually, I’d probably make a right hash of it, so I’d ask someone WAY more capable like Custador or vorjack to fill in for me. I’d just stand in the corner saying, “Yeah! How you like me now! Whammy!”

  • Nova

    Great commentary Custador!

    There is just something about the line, “Christ has Risen” that makes me want to shout ‘Like Yeast!”

    • John C

      “There is just something about the line, “Christ has Risen” that makes me want to shout ‘Like Yeast!”

      Yes, exactly! Great observation Nova. In fact, that’s the same analogy He used in Matt 13, the shortest parable that speaks of the kingdom of heaven being like a bit of yeast or dough that a woman puts in a three peice meal (spirit/soul/body) until its permeated our entire being. Then we are finally liberated, restored back to our originally-intentioned, pre-fall state having been re-made in the ‘very image and likeness of God’ who is love Himself.

      Excellent observation.

      • Nova

        Well, slap me happy and make me a hamburger bun. Thanks John C. ~ not.

  • Michael

    Ooh, can I play?

    I would use blockquotes, but too much formatting can be a bad thing.

        “How Easter and Christianity undermine atheism”
        By Anthony DeStefano [With notes for sceptics from Custador][And additional notes for nitpickers from Michael]

        This Easter it seems that atheists have a lot to rejoice about. [We do? Happy days! Do tell!] [Well, there's the weekend . . . ] 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?] [You are missing the point, Custy; this means there are approximately 700,000 fewer Christians]

        In a nation that once prided itself on its [fictional] 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] [To be fair, most founders were at least to some extent part of a Judeo-Christian heritage] 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?] [Despite what he may have said, I think it is clear the author is not trying to talk to atheists here. These statistics are pretty relevant to church-going Christians.]

        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.] [Are you sure? I thought atheism was the new Charlie Sheen.]

    The superstition of atheism
        Of course, it’s not quite fair to say that atheists believe in nothing. They do believe in something [Really? Woah, you're going out on a limb there.] — the philosophical theory known as Materialism [Sweet Gorilla of Manilla, you really don’t know what “atheism” is, do you?] [Christians divide the world into "God" and "Matter," so if you don't believe in God, you must be a strong materialist. Either that or they divide the world into "God" and "God's Creation," so if you don't believe in God, you don't believe in anything], 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] [3) That's not even what physical means. I'm willing to bet he doesn't even know what "matter" means (albeit, it is hard to define).]

        The problem is that this really isn’t a theory at all. [Technically, this is true.] It’s a superstitionstraw man; 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.] [It is worse than just that. It is quite obvious that not "everything in life" is the result of our brain's biochemistry. For one thing, I quite like my spinal cord. Also, I don't HAVE any "beliefs in God and salvation and damnation," so those at best satisfy his statement vacuously. More fundamentally, defining abstract emotional and social constructs based on one's own brain chemistry is borderline absurd.]

        What nonsense. [I couldn't agree more.]

        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 aren't.] [Humans lie with their minds (perhaps more proximally with their tongues), not their senses. Rather, they can misinterpret their senses.] 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.] [My senses tell me that the world is hilly and rough. On really big scales it takes more intuition to determine the shape, but yes, they do tell me that it is round.] and yet it’s not. [O RLY? The world is flat to pretty good precision. l2manifold] 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.] [WTF does that even mean? Well-ordering makes good sense in math, but not such good sense in physics. Also, l2entropy.] Our senses tell us that we’re stationary, and yet we’re really moving at incredible speeds. [Relative to an arbitrary reference frame you chose such that we are moving incredibly fast relative to it?] We I 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.] [Speeds are relative. And people who tell you we are moving with great acceleration are wrong, because it isn't particularly great. (Exception: The Earth's gravitational field is pretty noticeable.)]

        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.] [The only sense in which an idea cannot be seen is that it is not a concrete object. In other words, it doesn't really exist.] 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.] [Is that really "seeing love," or merely seeing someone experience it? I guess it depends on what you mean by "love." Again, it's a matter of semantics and abstraction.] 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.] [See, at this point Custador, I find your answers to be getting ridiculous. Honor is not merely a behavior, but a virtue. You can determine someone's honor by watching her behave honorably, of course, but you aren't "seeing honor" for the simple reason that honor is merely an abstraction. I cannot "see math" either, but I can see symbolic representations and applications of it, and I can see people study and teach it.] 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] [To a Christian, "teach" is nearly synonymous with "declare."] 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.] [Obviously those are just "lower forms of reality," Custador. The "higher forms" are incomprehensible because he defined them to be so. (That way he doesn't have to bother learning about them.)] God didn’t mean them to be. [And yet YOU personally know God’s mind well enough to make that assertion?] [1. DeStefano knows God's mind. 2. God's mind cannot be known to humans. 3. Therefore, DeStefano is not a human. Q.E.D.]

        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.”] [To Einstein, "wonder" didn't mean merely "gawk," but rather "investigate." Note that he says that those who do not experience wonder have closed eyes, presumably because they do not attempt to see. It is the Christian, with his canned answers and unshakeable "knowledge" who experiences no real wonder. God is not so much "mysterious" if he is entirely unknowable as boring. If the unexamined life is not worth living, then surely the unexamined world is not worth living in.]

        Too many people go through life today with their eyes closed. [See above. I sort of agree.]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?] [He is saying he would rather you accept your inability to experience some things than attempt to actually discover them. It is better to claim to know through faith than to actually know through science.] 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?] [In this funhouse world of yours, does this article equal good writing?]

        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] [Actually, mainline Christians are currently losing to Scientologists, but the race is still heated among fundamentalists.], 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?] [I'll give him partial credit for the "fear of death" bit, though it is clear he never did his homework.]

        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!] [Sometimes I wish there were some sort of hell (as long as it weren't truly eternal). If it were real, it might be more effective at moral enforcement.] 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] [And it's unfortunate; clearly the best way to live your life is to help others, and in doing so, fulfill your desires.] Is it wishful thinking to believe that we should discipline our natural bodily urges for the sake of some unseen “kingdom”? [again, wat].

        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.”] [This is not exactly a ringing endorsement of Jesus, Anthony. You might want to work on that.]

        If human beings were going to invent a religion based on wishful thinking, they could come up with something a lot “easier” than Christianity. [But could they come up with something responsible for a greater absolute quantity of misinformation?] 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] [Anthony, is your claim that religion makes no sense? Because this article is making a compelling case for that.] 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. [I think Sagan's quote on Hindu theology is appropriate here: It is said that men may not be the dreams of the Gods, but rather that the Gods are the dreams of men.]

        But atheists can scoff all they want. They can write all the bestselling books they want. [Actually, I would say Christians have the bestseller thing down.] 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 3) OH YEAH!!?!?!?!??] 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.] [I care.]

        Because aside from all the logical arguments for God’s existence [Name just ONE that stands up to competent debate.] [He can't Custy; they are ineffable. Your human mind wouldn't comprehend them.] and all the miracles [for which have no evidence] [The Virgin Mary appeared on a grilled cheese sandwich, dude. What more do you need?] and all the truths [Alongside the glaring contradictions, the mistakes and the outright lies, you mean?] [No, he means the other ones: the ones not contained in the Bible, per se.] contained in Scripture, one simple fact remains: 2,000 years ago, on that first, quiet Easter Sunday morning, Christ did rise. [I'm going to go ahead and say that is not only "beside" the miracles and Biblical truths, but in fact a counterexample to them.]

        Anthony DeStefano is the author of the Doubleday book, The Invisible World: Understanding Angels, Demons and the Spiritual Realities that Surround Us. [Oh, he's a published author? Well I retract all my criticism then, this was a terrific article.]

    (I really hope this formatting works.)

    • Michael

      It looks like all the formatting worked except <q></q>. (But then, that could just be my browser.)

      • Michael

        Nope, not my browser.

        It looks like that tag is broken on this site.

  • Tyrrlin

    *applauds* I like your additions, Custador. It made the article much easier, and more entertaining, to read.

  • Nick1987

    “… 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”
    Brilliant! You’d make a killing writing satire. Lovely read, this. :-)

  • MrCheese

    Custador, great post, except…

    You’ve said in your comments that A) Atheists don’t care what theists believe and 2) Atheists don’t want to destroy religion. For A, I would say that I do care about many of the specifics of religious beliefs. If they believe that ‘God hates fags’ and vote accordingly, I care.

    For point 2, I would says that I do want to see an end to religion. I don’t want to ban it, but I would like to see religion educated out of people. The whole ‘belief in the privacy of your own home’ thing is a myth. If you believe that gays shouldn’t marry or women shouldn’t speak when you’re at home, you may be able to conceal those beliefs outside, but you will still vote accordingly. I’d also quite happily eradicate all the other, so-called ‘harmless’ parts too. Believing that Jesus could raise the dead with magic may not cause you to do any direct harm, but is someone who is incapable of study evidence and making a rational decision really the kind of person you’d want to give you medical/financial advice? If their logic is flawed in one area, why not another?

    Also, if original poster was to respond to that, he could make the point that bothering to write the rebuttal and post it on an atheist blog would indicate that you do care and do want to stop religion.

    • http://ohmatron.wordpress.com/ Custador

      You’re confounding two issues. I personally couldn’t give a rats arse what a theist believes so long as they keep it to themselves. I’m not saying we don’t care what theists do, that’s a different issue. As for point 2), I would like to see more people receive good education in science and critical thinking regardles of the outcome. If that diminishes religion, so be it – but that’s a side effect, not a goal.

    • Mark the Pilgrim

      Believing that Jesus could raise the dead with magic may not cause you to do any direct harm, but is someone who is incapable of study evidence and making a rational decision really the kind of person you’d want to give you medical/financial advice? If their logic is flawed in one area, why not another?

      Just because someone might have an illogical belief in one area, it doesn’t mean that it will necessarily factor into the vast majority of their life choices. If a Christian pharmacist is giving you drugs, he isn’t necessarily thinking about a Creationist way to approach pharmacy (assuming that he is a creationist), he’s most likely (or should be at least) thinking about performing his duties in the conventional scientific way. There are some avowed secularists who believe in batshit conspiracy theories. It doesn’t mean that they are any less capable of rational thought besides from that particular area.

      While I think that religion has a massive influence upon society, in terms of day-to-day living, it doesn’t have the largest of effects. That void is filled by culture and how the person was raised. And then many people forego belief for necessity. It would be detrimental in this day and age to apply some sort of biblical reasoning towards finances and medical advice. Many Christians recognise that fact.

  • Francesco

    really, I cannot longer tell the difference between trolls and fanatics.

  • cjmybad

    I just love your responses to this article! You can tell Anthony DeStefano doesn’t know any atheists or has never talked to any of us or has studied his own bible for that matter! I had 2 christians lie, cheat and steal from us, almost ruining our lives and their attitude is ‘ that never really happened because I’ve been forgiven’ – I think that is the attitude of most christians I’ve dealt with.
    Keep up the great work Custy!

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