Dad is getting my emails part V

Here’s the end.  Here are parts one, two, three, and four if you need/want to catch up.

Robert wrote back to dad…

“And I am tired of being preached at. If I wanted that, I would go to a church. You wanted an opportunity to give me evidence. You failed to do so, but gave me lame arguments and superstitious hocus pocus” ——well if this is not evidence enough of you questioning my intelligence…. Maybe this is convincing enough…….” I didn’t come on here offering to try to change your mind, you came in here wanting to ” put my two cents in on your atheist view point.” You have done so. I remain unconvinced, you have still after all this time provided absolutely zero evidence or good arguments. All you have done is offer afterlilfe threats and promises, guarantees on things there is no possible way you could guarantee, and a bunch of superstitious mumbo jumbo that you believe in passionately from a bronze age book of myths that have talking animals.” Your a bully John. Because I dont give full and compelling physical evidence to support something that I claim is based on faith, and not evidence in the physical world, my ideas and beliefs are mumbo jumbo to you. Have you even read the entire bible, studying it out, with the intention of finding your salvation? Or were you just out to prove God wrong from the start? Not a horrible world huh, well gotta call you on this one with…..compelling and startinling evidence…here it goes…..”and will pray that you can see the light of Christ.” There are 9 million children under the age of 5 who die every year. I would prefer you pray for your god to do something about that instead of for me to see the light of a being who is supposedly all powerful but allows that to happen.”——— These are your words, John, so at least be consistant. Is the world bad when you want to disprove God, or is the world a great place for you when you are once again trying to disprove the need for the saving grace from God out of this present and evil world. It seems like your pyhsical proof thing has created an issue here.

In your awesome exploitation of the need for proof through evidence, I have in fact exposed a contradiction in what you are saying. All things fair, which is it? Good world?/ Bad world?

Dad responded…

“These are your words, John, so at least be consistant”. I am consistent. For me, it is a great world even if 9 million children under age 5 die every year. It isn’t horrible or unfair, it is what you would expect if there were no god. I think MEN could do a better job of preventing it, but that they don’t doesn’t make it a “horrible world”. However, I think if you are claiming an all-powerful god who cannot stop that or an all good god who lets that happen, it is YOU who are being inconsistent.

Bully? You asked to come in. You asked to give your thoughts on my atheist viewpoint. That isn’t what you did though. You gave your thoughts on how wonderful god is and so on…….the same line of preaching I can hear at any church. I hope you don’t call everyone a bully whom you fail to convert.

“Because I dont give full and compelling physical evidence to support something that I claim is based on faith, and not evidence in the physical world, my ideas and beliefs are mumbo jumbo to you.” Yes. Yes they are.

Two things I think you need to understand about this. The definition of mumbo jumbo is “language, behavior, or beliefs based on superstition”. The definition of superstition is belief in the supernatural. Gods are supernatural: they are outside of nature. You admit this with “not evidence in the physical world”. If you have belief in gods (supernatural) then your beliefs are by definition mumbo jumbo.

“Have you even read the entire bible, studying it out, with the intention of finding your salvation?” Like most kids raised in this area where there is a church on every corner–no mosques, tabernacles, freethought societies, etc.—I was surrounded by the drumbeat of Christianity growing up. I was even baptized. Of course I wanted all that wonderful stuff….and then I realized (to me) it just wasn’t logical, reasonable, nor did it have evidence… just didn’t make sense to me, it didn’t add up.

In college, I studied the New Testament from a scholarship viewpoint in Origins of Christian Thought. So, I read the entire New Testament and studied it hard at that time: made an A in the course. I have also read the entire Old Testament, but it has been a while.

I have also read the Koran and Bhagavid Gita, as well as having a bachelor’s degree in Philosophy. Hope that works for you. Have you sought truth through any books or ideas other than Christianity?

Enough about me. I suspect I know things about your bible that you don’t know. For instance, did you know the gospels weren’t written by whom they are attributed? You know, Matthew, Mark, Luke, John? Don’t take my word for it, google up “authors +gospels”. Read what the scholars (not the apologists) have to say.

As to “Or were you just out to prove God wrong from the start?” I’m not out to prove anything….but you are. And I asked you for evidence. And you didn’t have any. You want me to believe the bible, because the bible says the bible is true, and remember: this is a topic that you raised. I pointed out that the bible has inaccuracies, such as the Big Flood, and you tell me that the Big Flood doesn’t leave the evidence that every other flood leaves. Come on. Bigger doesn’t mean it doesn’t do what floods do. You tell me we can’t know when the flood was. But biblical scholars can calculate from other things in the bible when it supposedly happened……and we have written records from that time from a variety of cultures. There is no way the world could have repopulated since that time. There are a number of physics reasons why it was impossible.In other words, it is impossible that event occurred according to archeology, geology, physics, and written history.

If you can ignore incontrovertible physical evidence in order to cling to your belief, we will have no basis for agreement. If your determination that your book o myths cannot have inaccuracies is so strong that you ignore reams of empirical evidence, then I do not want to by what your are selling, because I will not turn off my B. S. filter to that extent.

“All things fair, which is it? Good world?/ Bad world?” It is a natural world. To ask that question is like asking if a rock is good or bad. PEOPLE do the moral good/bad thing. The world being natural is neither. Remember the tsunami a year or so ago? Sad, unfortunate, I would rather that sort of thing didn’t happen…but it doesn’t make this whole world horrible. Not only is it a great world… is the only one we have. People need to focus on making it as beneficial as possible instead of counting on justice in an afterlife that may not exist. I don’t deny horrible things happen, but wonderful things also happen. That horrible things happen sometimes doesn’t make it a horrible world. I reiterate: from my point of view it is a great world.

One last thing, since you ask if I have read the bible. Let me ask you this….Would your god designate as a good man any man who incestuously made his young daughters pregnant or offered them up for gang rape? Would your god approve of or participate in genocide? Would he kill innocent children and pregnant women, thus destroying fetuses? Would he approve of slavery? Is it possible to define a god who does any of these things as all good or all love?

Robert wrote back…

I get it. I have been down this endless rabbit trail with folks. You pull some heinous act from the Bible and use it against a believer. I try to show you how it fits into a reasonable and logical context within the full scope of the Bible. You claim a variety of acts that qualify God as a contradictory character…….so on and so on. I get it. John, you are correct. I came to you, on your turf. I had intentions of an intellegent debate in mind, with a side dish of hope I could persuade you to listen to a Bible teacher I know. I got an intelligent debate from your side. I hope you can see that I am not trying to compare things on the same level as you (physical vs. spiritual). I have from the beginning quoted the book I use to reference and establish my belief in God. My biggest difficulty has been finding a way of explaining this. In doing so, I have allowed you to manipulate my words, as I surely have tried doing to yours. Final comment: I believe in God and that he is capable of all things, within and without our human reasoning. I believe he has a purpose for any and all the things he has done, all the things he is presently doing, and all things that will come. I do not frustrate those things when I am incapable of some of the simplest tasks in life. ——— I am trying to use that logic on somone who does not even believe in God, or gods, or anything spiritual whatsoever. Conclusion: I am exhausted from going in circles trying to get the bus going, when you will never, ever want to ride. I cannot deal with you on my level, only yours. That level is not dealing with faith based subject matter as being         true, unless presented with physical evidence. That’s your view, thank you for presenting it. I apologize for occupying so much of your time on this, having not given you satisfactory arguments and ideas. You have read the Bible, you have done your own extensive research, and it seems you landed nowhere near the conclusion that there is God. I have done my best at the same, and have found different conclusions. I will not invade your space again.

My dad wrote…

Well, Robert, I hope you understand that I like you personally and have found you in our business dealings to be honest and dependable. I hope you don’t take it personally that I find religion to be a bad idea and refuse to pretend that I view it otherwise. I certainly don’t hold it against you personally that your view isn’t the same at all.

I don’t feel an obligation to respect what I deem to be bad ideas, but I do try to respect PEOPLE.

I tried to be perfectly clear right up front, when I said “I am not interested at all in bible study or in what you believe. I am interested in what evidence you have for a god—other than what the bible says because we all know it is not accurate.”

I didn’t think I could make it any plainer than that.

I don’t think you wanted a CONVERSATION, I think you wanted a CONVERSION.

Anyway, nice talking to you. No hard feelings on my part, and I hope none on yours.

And that’s where it ends.

Here’s the deal.  Christians trying to convert people isn’t the problem.  If you think you’re right and someone else is wrong on something of consequence, you should make it known.  Christians who do that actually have more moxy and more appreciation for the importance of beliefs than Christians who don’t.

Here’s the problem: society, at least in America, has moved to a point where calling them on being wrong in return is tantamount to an insult.  Society tells them their hurt feelings are justified.  That idea needs to die, and the only way to make it die is to trample all over it until people get acclimated to it.  We must consistently remind people that respect means telling them the truth, not placating them by assuming they want to remain wrong rather than have a two-way conversation.

And what is the truth?  The truth is that a world in which people feel the need to research their opinions before voicing them for fear of being called out is a better world for finding the truth, whatever it may be.  Opinions need to be the product of consideration, not a substitute for it.  We must invest much, much more in the reliability of the methods we use to reach beliefs than we do in the beliefs themselves.  We must work to create a world where that is the expectation.

This is the message we must put forward.  It is the message we must not back away from, regardless of whose feelings are hurt.  Sometimes they’ll retreat to church and write you off as the enemy.  It sucks.  I know.  But the fault doesn’t lie with you.  The fault lies with a religion telling people that without belief in god there is no happiness, no life, and eternal consequences, such that they cling to their beliefs over other people.

That religion is anti-human.  It’s anti-happiness, and it needs to die.

About JT Eberhard

When not defending the planet from inevitable apocalypse at the rotting hands of the undead, JT is a writer and public speaker about atheism, gay rights, and more. He spent two and a half years with the Secular Student Alliance as their first high school organizer. During that time he built the SSA’s high school program and oversaw the development of groups nationwide. JT is also the co-founder of the popular Skepticon conference and served as the events lead organizer during its first three years.

  • Jasper T

    If he thinks having his views critiqued is “bullying”, I wonder what he’d think of the peer review process.

    I don’t think he’d survive.

    • Mike de Fleuriot

      Theistic Peer Review, now there is an oxymoron.

  • DaveL

    Here’s the problem: society, at least in America, has moved to a point where calling them on being wrong in return is tantamount to an insult. Society tells them their hurt feelings are justified.

    It’s the Big Lie principle, otherwise known as cognitive dissonance. Goebbels only rediscovered what the world’s most successful religions have known for a long time.

    If I believed that Texas was bordered by Arizona to the west, I would be wrong. I would be wrong, but I could find excuses for being wrong that don’t have any seriously unpleasant connotations. It’s just one more state over. It’s still the desert southwest. An easy mistake to make.

    Now, when you’ve granted your wholehearted assent to the proposition that a 1st century rabbi was an infinite and ineffable being who was born of a virgin he impregnated himself, so that he could sacrifice himself to himself to change a rule he made up, things are a lot trickier. There’s no way to justify holding such an outlandish belief except if its true. All the other excuses have some pretty nasty implications – like you were conned by people you trusted, or maybe you’re really gullible, or you have a tenuous grip on reality, or maybe you’re just not too bright. Maybe a combination of all of the above.

    Of course, this very analysis shows there is a viable explanation why people believe ridiculous things despite not being stupid or crazy. The problem is that it isn’t intuitive. Maybe the power of the Big Lie technique would go away or be diminished if it were taught earlier on, or more widely. I honestly don’t know, but if anyone knows of any psychological research on the subject, I’m all ears.

  • FireInTheNight

    That was great. Awesome entertainment. Now get the hell on with it and post your reply to John Henry’s jumbled joke of a response in your ongoing blogalog! Also, I demand you call it “JT’s Shooting Gallery”! There, how’s making a couple of demands for a first comment on your blog?

  • Leo

    One of the things that seems to make these conversations difficult is that Christians think they are saying something profound — likely things they picked up in church — when it’s really nonsense. In this last part, Robert is quoted as saying, “I try to show you how it fits into a reasonable and logical context within the full scope of the Bible.”

    Where was this? Is that this chunk from Part I?

    It is simple. There was a change of program at the cross. Just for the sake of research, take the books of Genisis through John and study the prophesy and the promises and all of that pretty tough to understand scripture, then, match that up with the Books of Hebrews through Revelation. It all makes pretty good sense, chronologically and spiritually speaking. Now add in the books of Romans through Philemon. I bet you will get confused again, seeing as how none of it lines up. I would be sceptical as well. Here is the fundimental difference, John. The formentioned books including the old testimant, are writen specifically to the nation of Isreal (Jacob)- this is an entanglement of oridnances, laws, and promises for that group of people. The Apostle Paul clearly identifies many, many differences in his message, contained in Romans through Philemon. Paul is the Apostle to the Gentiles, which he clearly states in He points out the differences in fact, and warns the people to watch out for the same religious behavior that made Christ necessary i the fist place.

    Words cannot describe how unclear that is. He hasn’t shown me anything, and that’s even granting him the use of the Bible in his argumentation.

  • stubby

    “I get it. I have been down this endless rabbit trail with folks. You pull some heinous act from the Bible and use it against a believer. I try to show you how it fits into a reasonable and logical context within the full scope of the Bible.”

    You would think a loving god wouldn’t need his believers to make excuses for all the horrible things he did/inspired.

    • ‘Tis Himself

      The problem with the Bible is that Ol’ Yahweh comes across as a sadistic, narcissistic bully with the emotional maturity of a spoiled six year old. He kills people just because he can.

      Here’s the appropriate song:

  • ‘Tis Himself

    Conclusion: I am exhausted from going in circles trying to get the bus going, when you will never, ever want to ride.

    One thing many goddists never seem to realize is that most atheists don’t need gods. We don’t have a god-shaped hole in our psyches cried to be filled.

    Robert finally understood he was not only selling John something he couldn’t show exists, but that John didn’t even want. But it took a good while for Robert to come to that realization.

  • Daniel Schealler

    I cannot deal with you on my level, only yours. That level is not dealing with faith based subject matter as being true, unless presented with physical evidence.

    Very interesting turn of phrase, there: “Not dealing with faith based subject matter as being true…”

    Implication being: It’s true, you’re just not dealing with it, because you have this really unfair way out of dealing with it, which is to harp on about physical evidence (as if there were another kind).

    Such a warped perception about the relationship between evidence and belief…

    To the point that Robert gets it backwards. Robert has a belief that he insists is true, and then wants to find anything that can possibly support that view, then define evidence as whatever that support turns out to be.

    Eberhard on the other hand starts from cross-verifiable and measurable evidence, and then builds up confidence (or lack thereof) in beliefs only in relation to the quality of the total evidence he has available.

    To utterly incompatible methods of thought. Robert’s is religious, and Eberhard’s is scientific.

    Science and religion are not compatible.

  • Kaoru Negisa

    I’ve got to give Robert credit, but not too much. His last letter does seem to hit the point quite nicely. It’s too bad he’s lamenting the fact instead of understanding it.

  • TCSF

    That was interesting — thanks for posting it!

  • Cynthia

    It’s so hard to take anyone seriously when they can’t be bothered to USE THE SPELLCHECK. Seriously, how can you even read what he’s trying to say thru all the typos and word salad?

    In any case, he makes the same arguements the religious people always do – the bible holds all the answers, it’s not our place to question god’s will, etc, etc…

    And he will never see that he’s wrong about any of it. Your dad shows that he’s an incredibly patient man in his responses. And he knows how to spell, too! Thanks for posting this exchange. It was enlightening to see how your dad handled his end – and disappointing to see how your old classmate handled his.

  • Dennis

    Lets get this right:

    There is no way the world could have repopulated since that time. There are a number of physics reasons why it was impossible.In other words, it is impossible that event occurred according to archeology, geology, physics, and writen history.

    Physics doesn’t have anything to do with this argument nor do many of the sciences mentioned, biology, zoology, and all bug sciences does. Physics doesn’t deal in life sciences. I am a geophysisist and I don’t deal in living things either! But I am not stupid about life. And, I understand flood geology.

    Well sorted sediments – large rocks saltate, lesser rocks, gravel, pea shale, and soil move in the water collum. When they reach areas where the water slows (say a farmers field) they fall out in order of weight – heavy larger rocks first lighter items last. this is not what the sedimetology shows.

    In the oldest exposed layers show (China and Canada 3.5 Bya) is small things Eukariotes (single celled organisms with no defined nucleus, the DNA flotes in the cells cytoplasm. Then a billion years later prokariotes (modern cells) with a defined nucleus with DNA enclosed in the nucleus shows up. Then 100 billion years goes by and we see multi-celularity but not like us. Same cells attached head to tail in a sybiotic relatonship (if a cell is not in the nutrient flow it can get nutrients from cells attached). Then we see modern multicellularity where cells perform unique functions about a 100 millon years after that. then the cambrian yada..yada. things get more complicated after that (heavier, biger, more complex)

    If the flood were true dinosuars would be in the lowest layers. They are not!

  • EEB

    It’s not that I didn’t know people were like this. My mother is a pastor; I’m surrounded by religious people constantly. I know religious people disregard evidence and take disagreement as personal insult and attack.



    This is wonderful, because these letters lay out so clearly the flaws in Christian reasoning, in a way that I think even Christians would get. He comes into your space (well, your dad’s), uninvited, and begins to preach. In a calm, measured, respectful way, your father disagrees. He gives evidence. He explains way. He is astonishingly patient. And Robert becomes beligerant and tries to play the martyr card (and good on your dad for shutting that down quick). It’s so clear the incredible nerve of this guy, to press himself on someone and take a polite rebuff as a great insult.

    Good resource, and I’m bookmarking it. I think most Christians think like this, but you don’t often see it so unambiguously.

    Thanks for posting these. And mad props to your dad.

  • jdotrdot

    Sir -

    Just a brief comment: Robert complains that you are asking for -Conclusive- evidence for the existence of God, while it is clear that what he has actually failed to produce is -Any Evidence Whatsoever-.

    And then, of course, he complains that you remain unconvinced. (God’ll get you for that.)


    PS Please excuse the odd punctuation, as I am neither brave nor proficient enough to attempt -italics-.

    • tubi

      Just use [i] to open the italics and then [/i] to closed the italicized section, but replace the sqaure brackets [] with angle brackets ><

      • jtradke

        In short, like this: <i>

        You can make those symbols without having them interpreted as HTML by using &lt; and &ampgt;.

        And, to reveal the magician’s secret, you can make an ampersand by writing &amp;!

        • jtradke

          And of course I screwed it up. Don’t forget your semicolons when escaping your HTML!

        • John Horstman

          I always have fun writing &amp;amp;, what with all the “amps” and semicolons. :-)

  • kagekiri

    I love how he hand-waves all the God commanded genocide, infanticide, and abortions in the Bible as “us atheists pinning stuff on believers”. Then he says he’s managed to somehow fit all that into the “full scope of the Bible.”

    I wonder where he actually did that…I’ve tried personally, and it’s not possible without:

    -massive hand-waving and circular reasoning like “God is good, so this somehow must have been good despite looking like pure injustice and evil”

    -or the utterly ignorant morality-of-the-gaps “the Bible is man-made, so whatever parts seem evil are the man-made parts while all the good parts are God’s words” (which begs how we’re supposed to get any moral standard from such a book that wouldn’t just be a mirror of our own standards)

    -or the nihilistic and obviously self-hating “God owns us so we deserve anything he does to us”.

    Oh yeah, and God specifically says he will help abort children born out of adultery in Numbers 5, so it’s not even just God indirectly killing children and pregnant women with his soldiers or a flood: he’s happy to punish fetuses personally in the womb. Basically, the husband makes the suspected adulterous wife drink water cursed by a priest, then if she’s guilty, God will abort the child and make the wife barren and make her a “curse”.

    It’s hilarious reading it, because basically, it reads like a magic spell. The priest makes the woman agree to the curse, writes down the curse, washes the scroll in water to wash off the cursed words, then makes the woman drink it. Ridiculous.

    I went through the Bible pretty thoroughly as a Christian (13 years of Sunday school, 7 years of Bible Study Fellowship, plenty of seminars and retreats, and a solid 8 years of sermons), but I don’t remember any pastors or bible study leaders explaining that silly passage.

    God does the same in the story of David and Bathsheba, killing the resulting adulterous fetus for the sins of its parents.

    Can’t wait to throw that Numbers passage in the face of “pro-lifers”. If God’s willing to abort babies for their parent’s sins, why not allow abortion for rape victims to punish the fetus’s father? Or other out-of-wedlock babies for both their parents’ sins? Or any unwanted babies for the sin of having sex without intention to get pregnant??

    They’re failing to be even internally consistent within their own wacky book, and act like it’s our fault that their Bible is full of ugly shit or that we’re just looking at the small picture. If genocide, torture, rape, slavery, and the murdering of innocent children is not enough reason to question God’s love or goodness, your moral standards are utterly horrifying.

    • kagekiri

      Oh, yeah, JT: Your dad is awe-inspiringly good at these arguments and really cutting the BS with masterful strokes.

      I used to look up to my dad for his reason, and he taught me the basics of humanism from his time before being Christian, but now he’s a faith-head who likes to denounce science. It’s terrible to see how he leans harder and harder on that empty Bible thinking and hope in the afterlife, rather than happiness or fulfillment in this one.

      Your dad blows mine out of the water in clear thinking. Everything you link from him is just awesome. I guess amazing-ness just runs in your family, eh? : ]

    • John Horstman

      All of the justifications require accepting the premise that Yahweh is good, therefore anything he does is ultimately good; because, in the Christian worldview, morality comes from Yahweh, there is literally no other basis for judging the goodness or badness of Yahweh’s actions. It’s entirely circular – the best way to break the circle is by pointing out to the believer that ZE doesn’t actually agree that e.g. slavery or genocide are morally good.

  • Mr.Kosta

    I admire your dad, it takes some extra level of patience to deal with this degree of stupidity.

  • jtradke

    I believe he has a purpose for any and all the things he has done, all the things he is presently doing, and all things that will come.

    I think I would have responded: Are you sure? Do you actually believe those things, or do you just really, really want those things to be true? There’s a difference, but I think you want to lie to yourself and say there isn’t.

  • dcortesi

    Yeah. Your dad has the patience of… dare I say it?… a saint.

  •!/Erulora Erulóra Maikalambe

    My dad has finally accepted the Big Bang, and seems somewhat open to evolution, except he still wants to believe in the Garden story. Maybe some day I’ll get him to accept that the fault may lie with the story, rather than reality.

  • Djudge

    Robert: Bow to my god or burn in hell!
    John: You’re being silly.
    Robert: You bully!!!