Response to “Nine Not-so-Good Reasons To Be an Atheist” (2 of 2)

Response to “Nine Not-so-Good Reasons To Be an Atheist” (2 of 2) August 15, 2018

An article in Pakistan Today recently attacked nine atheist arguments. Though they probably came from a Muslim perspective, I responded with rebuttals as if these were Christian arguments (part 1 here). Let’s finish up.

“5. Free will and belief in God are incompatible.”

Nobody can believe in responsibility and culpability of humans, and at the same time believe in an omniscient God. If God already knows what one is going to do, how is one free to do anything to change the future (which is already known to God)? Either we are automatons or are responsible for our actions; and the latter rules God out.

Nicely stated! I leave free will arguments alone, knowing only enough to realize that it’s a big, contentious topic about which I have nothing interesting to say. But that’s not really where the author is going:

The error in this form of argumentation is that it places God inside the framework of time. According to any sophisticated theistic concept . . .

Whoa—stop there. Any sophisticated theistic concept? What does that mean? Confusing? Complicated? And how is “sophisticated” measured? A claim about reality should be measurable by how well it fits with the evidence, but somehow I think that evidence isn’t what the author wants to use here.

Perhaps “sophisticated” means thoughtful. I’ve read countless apologetic arguments that claim to be thoughtful but turn out to be some witches’ brew of confirmation bias, ad hoc thinking, rationalization, cherry picking of evidence, and cognitive dissonance. Just because someone is smart and able to defend nonsense doesn’t mean that what they say is correct (for examples we can all agree on, look to apologists from any foreign religion). Give William Lane Craig a year to build a case for the flat earth hypothesis, and he’d have as compelling a case as the one he uses for Christianity.

And I can’t ignore the slightly tangential Courtier’s Reply. This fallacy imagines one of the emperor’s courtiers responding to those rubes who declared that the emperor was newly unclothed, but it then maps this situation onto Christian defenders annoyed at Richard Dawkins because of his book The God Delusion. The Reply ends: “Until Dawkins has trained in the shops of Paris and Milan, until he has learned to tell the difference between a ruffled flounce and a puffy pantaloon, we should all pretend he has not spoken out against the Emperor’s taste.”

In the same way, too many apologists try to shield poor, defenseless God from critique by inventing ever more roadblocks for atheists to get around. “You haven’t responded to McConnell’s Inverted Counterclockwise Gluten-Free argument for god,” they’ll say. “I can recommend a couple of books that cover that one thoroughly. And if you get past that one, which I doubt, I’ve got plenty more.”

The author isn’t making that argument, but I do get a sense of “you’re disqualified from offering an argument until you have far more theological training” when I read that only “sophisticated theistic concepts” need apply.

Back to the article:

According to any sophisticated theistic concept, God is independent of time, and therefore it’s meaningless to apply words such as ‘future’ or ‘already’ to God.

Be careful: a god outside time is frozen and inert. Only with time can God judge, decide, take pleasure in things, and so on—all actions that the typical Christian apologist says God does. What does “God is independent of time” mean? Is that like being a time traveler? Or is it that he’s above time? But how can he be above time without being outside time and therefore inert?

All this science fiction needs to be justified. Apologists try to say something profound, but then they expect a pass so they needn’t justify their exuberant claims.

“6. Where’s the proof for the existence of God?”

Just to be clear, I don’t ask for proof, just for compelling evidence that God is better than any other explanation.

What would be so special about a god who existed like everything else?

So if your claims about God’s existence were easily tested, that would defeat the purpose? Nope—you make a claim, and then I see if I can verify it. That’s how it works with everything else, and that’s how it must work with this, the claim that you say is the most important of all. That’s certainly what you’d demand from an evangelist from another religion.

You claim God exists? Okay, I’m listening, but don’t expect any special accommodation. I demand at least as much evidence as you’d demand from a foreign religion.

God is Absolute (the most Basic) and is the reason for all existence. He is not a theorem that can be proved by starting from more basic assumptions.

So God is both hidden and eager for us to know him? You may want to recheck that.

It’s easy to make this claim—that everything relies on God—but I need evidence. Show us, for example, that since everything including our familiar logic rests on God, a godless universe would have different logical axioms.

“7. Theists usually behave horribly.”

This is text-book ad-hominem. This is like rejecting relativity on ‘grounds’ that Einstein abandoned his daughter. How a person behaves has no bearing on the validity (or otherwise) of his belief systems.

You underestimate the New Testament, which makes clear that someone sins if and only if they are not “born of God”: “No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him. . . . No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in them; they cannot go on sinning, because they have been born of God” (1 John 3:5–9).

No, it’s not an ad hominem fallacy; it’s yet another example of putting the Bible’s claims to the test and seeing them go down in flames.

“8. Theism causes strife.”

Sometimes it does. But, so does soccer.

(Cleverly said!) The author continues:

Not enough reason to cast aside either.

I’m interested in whether God exists, and strife is irrelevant. This is the negative side of popular Christian arguments like “Christians have less divorce” or “Christians are more generous.” Christians in the U.S. actually don’t show all that well in comparisons like this (studies show that they have more divorce than average and are no more generous than average), but that’s not my point. I’m happy to concede that if you pick the right subset (American Christians or worldwide Christians or fundamentalists or Baptists or whatever), you’ll find some areas where they have more of some positive trait.

All this is irrelevant to the interesting question, “Does God exist?”

“9. It’s cool to be an atheist.”

There was a time when being an atheist was cool; when merely by being an atheist one appeared sophisticated and enlightened. In many cases it had some justification too, because being an atheist was rare, and usually it wasn’t something inherited. Now atheists can be found under most rocks and it’s no more fashionable because of being rare.

Dang! Now I’ll have to return to wearing my baseball cap backwards to prove I’m cool. More to the point, I’m surprised to hear that “atheism is cool” was ever a thing in Pakistan, where atheism is punishable by death.

As for no longer being rare, that’s correct. The Rise of the Nones is one of the biggest news stories of American Christianity in the twenty-first century. “No religion” as a belief category was steady in the U.S. through the seventies and eighties but then began to climb. It went from 6% in 1990 to 20% in 2012 and continues to climb.

Here’s a projection of that trend into the future.

Graphic copyright 2015, Pew Research Center. Permission to reprint graphic provided by Pew Research Center.

The rise of the Nones (my religion is “none of the above”) is a big story, whether atheism is cool or not. But here again, this is irrelevant to the truth of theistic claims. Atheism isn’t a fashion statement or an act of youthful rebellion. Rather, I see theism’s fundamental claims being challenged with increasing boldness, and the statistics report a steady decline, first in western Europe, now in the U.S., and perhaps later in the rest of the world.

Acknowledgement: this article was brought to my attention by thoughtful commenter ThaneOfDrones.

Truly I tell you,
if you have faith as small as a mustard seed,
you can say to this mountain goalpost,
“Move from here to there,” and it will move.
Nothing will be impossible for you.
— a tweak on Matthew 17:20
from commenter Lark62


Image via Wikimedia, CC license


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  • ThaneOfDrones

    According to any sophisticated theistic concept, God is independent of time

    Another consequence of this is that it should be senseless to pray to a God who is “independent of time.” Do you think He is going to change His mind after hearing your prayers? Therefore, I would think that any religion which involves praying to a deity would be “unsophisticated” and “childish” according to this author. And that would include most of the religious people on the planet. Rather than going after atheists, why doesn’t he tell all those other religious people that they are obviously wrong?
    (I made a similar comment at the original site, but the author has not been responsive to clarify his views)

    • eric

      Do you think He is going to change His mind after hearing your prayers?

      Ah, but in the bible He does change his mind. At least several times, IIRC. The “God is outside of time” argument seems to be extremely selective; arguments against God that use a chronological framework are considered invalid, but positive statements about God that use such a framework remain valid.

      I guess the selectivity is what makes the view ‘sophisticated’? Consistency is not one of their hobgoblins.

      • ThaneOfDrones

        The writer never mentions the Bible. If I were writing rebuttals, I would probably avoid the many mentions of the Bible and Christianity that Bob uses. I know that he is using them as examples for broader points, but you do want to reach your audience, which in this case is probably not Christian.

        You are correct in that many ways the God of the Bible is not consistent with the God of western philosophy of religion. The God of the Bible is not omniscient, omnipotent or omnibenevolent, for other examples.

        • You’re right. I deliberately responded for a Christian audience, which to some extent will lose a Muslim audience. I don’t know Islam well enough to respond.

        • al kimeea

          The arguments were quite familiar on their own

      • Kevin K

        The author of the list is Muslim, so you’d have to use the Koran for your proof source. The Koran is bits and bobs of Judaism, Christianity, and Zoroastrianism.

        • eric

          AIUI muslims generally accept Genesis – Deuteronomy as being legitimate scripture. And God changes his mind in those.

          So while I agree it might be better to cite instances in the Koran of God changing his mind (if there are any – I have no idea), citing Exodus 32 (two instances of mind-changing) is probably still a legitimate go-to reference.

    • Jim Jones

      ‘Sophisticated’ is a real red flag. It usually means some weird explanation that no one, not even the author, can follow.

      • epicurus

        “Nuanced” can also sometimes be used in the same way. A straight forward refutation of Mormonism is fine for some Christians, but they demand “nuanced” arguments when that same straight forward approach is turned on them.

        • ThaneOfDrones

          Despite the signed eyewitness testimony!

        • Kevin K

          I’ve seen video evidence of Bigfoot!

        • al kimeea

          I saw one in ice.

        • epicurus

          Yes it can sometimes be quite a double standard.

  • ThaneOfDrones

    You claim God exits?…
    I’m interested in whether God exits

    Nominated for best typo of the week. And bonus point for consistency.

  • ThaneOfDrones

    (Repeated from the part 1 thread)

    Now atheists can be found under most rocks…

    Do you suppose they are hiding under rocks because atheism is punishable by death (by the action of either government or fanatics) in certain parts of the world?

    • Kevin K

      Actually, computer screens are rarely hidden under rocks.

    • I wonder if he realizes that that idea (hiding under a rock) is vaguely insulting.

      Reminds me of someone who had “Village Atheists” in the title of a post. (I wanted to call him on it and demand an explanation, but that blog didn’t allow comments.)

      • ThaneOfDrones

        The Godless Constitution by Isaac Kramnick and R. Laurence Moore: “dimestore atheists

      • al kimeea

        Oh he knows

  • epicurus

    I received a dressing down by a Muslim commenter a couple years ago over at Jonathan Pearce’s Tippling Philosopher blog because I dismissed Islam and the Koran without having studied at the feet of Muslim scholars and attained advanced degrees in Islamic studies. But of course that ignores the implication of not being able to say any religion is false without a lifetime of intensive study – an impossible task, and also an ignored one as most people in all religions have not studied any other religion.

    • eric

      an impossible task

      I think that’s the point. This is an ideological defense mechanism rather than any sort of counter-argument. It’s there to assuage the believer rather than convince the non-believer. After all, who was ever convinced to change their mind by someone else’s “you can’t convince me I’m wrong?”

    • Kevin K

      Ask him if he had studied Christianity with Plantinga, et al. Pot meet kettle. He cannot dismiss the validity of Christianity without first becoming a scholar who can accurately recite all of Aquinas’ Summa Theologica (it’s about 6 million words).

    • Raging Bee

      Apologetics: the bluff that keeps on bluffing.

    • Michael Neville

      When I’m in that sort of situation I ask if the theist believes in Huitzilopotchli. Upon being told no (and sometimes being asked who he is), I then ask how often did human hearts have to be offered to Ol’ Huitz so the Sun would continue to rise each morning. I’ve never been given the right answer, which is four times a year at the solstices and equinoxes. I then say, “You reject Huitzilopotchli as a god without knowing the basics of Huitzilopotchlism but I’m supposed to know if angels dancing on the heads of pins are waltzing or line dancing before I can reject your god. That’s quite hypocritical.” Inevitably the conversation goes to a different topic.

    • Tommy

      Did this person admit he dismissed Christianity because he studied at the feet of Christian scholars and attained advanced degrees in Christian studies?

      • epicurus

        No, but given his arrogant tone and how he rambled about the unity and excellence of Islam and how we must be Zionists because we talked about atheism and didn’t mention Judaism (what?!) I’m sure he would say he didn’t need to because he knew Isalm was true.

        • Michael Neville

          There must be two groups of people in that person’s world, Muslims and Zionists.

    • Greg G.

      You have no right to criticize a religion until you have been completely brainwashed by it.

      • TheNuszAbides

        and even then, criticism = Clearly Doing It Wrong.

  • The Bofa on the Sofa

    I note the implicit acknowledgement that both 5 and 6 are correct. Free will and belief are logically inconsistent, and there is no proof (or evidence) for God. The writer just dismisses them by abandoning rationality. Logic does not apply!

    “8. Theism causes strife.”
    Sometimes it does. But, so does soccer.

    (Cleverly said!) The author continues:

    Not enough reason to cast aside either.

    Actually, it can be enough reason to cast it aside. For example, I used to play golf. However, when I didn’t play as much, and got worse, and it got very frustrating, creating a lot of strife. So I quit.

    Who is this clown to tell me how much strife I need to put up with before I cast it aside?

    And, once again, notice that they don’t refute the point. Yeah, they concede, it does create strife, just not enough to reach THEIR threshold.

  • Raging Bee

    Be careful: a god outside time is frozen and inert. Only with time can God judge, decide, take pleasure in things, and so on…

    Some Christians talk of something they call “ontological time,” Whatever the fuck that means. Maybe a second time-dimension, with time passing independent of time in this universe?

    • eric

      I found this on ontological time. Not sure how useful or relevant it is, but if i read it right, they could be saying that God is aware of the pace of different events occuring within the universe (their tempo, duration, sequence etc.) but does not psychologically experience things as a sequence of events. He reads the score rather than listening to it played. This interpretation, however, would seem to support the deterministic position and not get anyone out of the free will problem. After all, to read a score it must be written down first.

      • Raging Bee

        Isaac Asimov wrote a novel about something like that: basically an outside-of-time office complex called “Eternity,” where Eternals (humans going back and forth in time fine-tuning human history) could observe the Universe (or at least the Earth where all humans still lived) at all points in history, from about 2000-something up to “Nova Sol,” and step in to tweak events to make history go the way they decided was best.

        • eric

          The novel Darwinia also used it as a theme. Pretty good book.

        • Raging Bee

          By whom? Never heard of that one. BTW, the Asimov book was titled “The End of Eternity.”

  • Michael Neville

    God is Absolute (the most Basic) and is the reason for all existence. He is not a theorem that can be proved by starting from more basic assumptions.

    What we have here is a classic petitio principii, also known as assuming the consequent, circular logic or begging the question. If you’re trying to give evidence for a god, you cannot assume that this god cannot be shown from more basic assumptions

  • MadScientist1023

    Their answer to #5 is at least somewhat creative. You could argue that we know every decision that X historical figure made, and it didn’t compromise their free will. So if God exists “outside of time” then I guess you could say that it solves the problem.
    Of course, solving the problem in this instance means invoking the kind of logic one might find in an episode of Doctor Who, so that’s probably not a good sign you’re on the right side of a theological argument.

    • Raging Bee

      See eric’s response to my comment on that subject below.

  • Otto

    Any sophisticated theistic concept? What does that mean?

    It usually means special pleading was used or is about to be used.

    • al kimeea

      There are plenty of sophisticated concepts that don’t pan out. Using obscure, convoluted verbiage doesn’t make the basic premise of xianity any more palatable.

      • Otto

        Sophisticated concepts and sophisticated theistic concepts are not the same thing imo….;)

  • Damien Priestly

    The problem with that Pew graph in the OP showing 66 % Christian by 2050…and 26% unaffiliated (Nones). It is flawed because we have already reached those numbers now !!

    The Unaffiliated are also about 25 or 26% in 2018. So Pew originally way underestimated dying religion in the US.

    • It’s odd how different surveys get different numbers. Maybe different questions? But they all seem to agree on the trend.

      • Damien Priestly

        True…about a steady 1% a year down for team Christian.

      • epeeist

        Maybe different questions?

        Yes. In the UK we have a question on the census “What is your religion?”. In 2001 they put “None” at the bottom of the list of possible answers, 72% of the population reported themselves as Christian. After considerable arguments they refused to split the question into two (“Are you religious”, if so then “What is your religion”) but they did move “None” to the top of the list for the 2011 census. Only 59% of the population reported themselves to be Christian in 2011.

        There is another survey, the British Social Attitudes Survey. This asks “‘Do you regard yourself as belonging to any particular religion?” and if you say “Yes” then you are asked to give your religion. In 2016 only 46% reported themselves as Christian.

        You also have to note that this is what people report themselves to be. For example 15% of the population report themselves to be Anglican but what you don’t see is 8 million or so people attending church each week, you see 800,000 or so.

        Try looking for research that measures actual church attendance in the US and see what the trend is there.

        • Yes, Christian leaders have lamented the problem of butts in pews for a while. One interesting theory is that the people who are actually Christian (believe the supernatural claims, etc.) in the US is pretty much the same as it is in northern Europe; it’s just that Europeans are more comfortable answering the questions honestly. Americans are more likely to feel that the correct answer is “I’m a Christian” and so answer that way, regardless of reality.

          For a while I’ve wondered if that’s the primary cause of the “rise of the Nones”–Americans answering more honestly, not falling away from the faith.

        • epeeist

          One interesting theory is that the people who are actually Christian
          (believe the supernatural claims, etc.) in the US is pretty much the
          same as it is in northern Europe

          There certainly seems to be more cultural pressure to say one is religious in the States than here in Europe.

          One thing that gets said is that one can’t talk about one’s religion, that there is an element of anti-theism over here. I don’t buy into that, religion is just something that isn’t relevant to most people.

        • Pofarmer

          It’s not just that. There’s a lot more pressure to support religious groups and religious themes. Let me give just a couple of small examples from my own small world. A couple of years ago we had a local Baptist Church split up rather acrimoniously. I was our county fair board President at the time. The splinter Church, which is Evangelical Southern Baptist, and rather pushy, wanted to set up a baby changing station at the fair as a “service”. I kindly explained that we didn’t do religious things at the fair and couldn’t show any favoritism with one group over another and didn’t want to start. Fast forward to this year. I’ve given up my office. So, we had a bunch of leftover soda to do something with from a fundraiser kind of gone bad. So, two board members immediately suggested that we go about donating it to a couple of local religious outreach groups. I had to politely remind them that we are a 4H and FFA organization, and that our priorities ought to be to help our own orgnaization out first. We wound up donating product to a local FFA function happening the next week, which aided their funding. It’s just constant crap like this that wears down on you.

        • epeeist

          Now that kind of religious pandering would be looked on as somewhat odd over here.

        • Pofarmer

          Quite common here. Drives me up a wall.

        • Kevin K

          You raise an interesting question — in my little corner of Eden, we don’t have a county fair, but we do have something that is advertised as a “state” fair (despite the fact that it only covers a small part of the state) that is operated under the auspices of the State Department of Agriculture. In any event, that particular fair is chock-a-block full of Christian whatever, including a Christian puppet show/clown ministry that is pretty much right in the middle of the proceedings and has been for years.

          One wonders if I asked to be able to have a Satanic Temple “baby changing station” (or whatever) whether I would get the stink eye.

          Too late to start the proceedings now (and I’ll be out of the country during the fair in any event). But you’ve set me to wondering.

        • al kimeea

          In Europe, so in Canuckistan. Big Nana, born in Kirkcaldy, also spoke about not speaking of religion. Most here don’t depending on environment.I have her 1905 special edition buybull.

          We went to a night of comedy at the Sally Ann. Oh my, I was 10 again with all the prayers twixt the bits.

          Strangely, my wife & I are officially Presbyterian. We married in a Presby kirk for the pomp. The officiating fucker raped three boys, as I read in the local fascist daily newspaper 4 years later.

        • RoverSerton

          OT/ HI Bob, Dave Armstrong is still using you as his whipping boy. He writes re you: “He’s a bigoted (and very ignorant about theology and the Bible) anti-theist, is what he is. But he offers a golden opportunity to show how intellectually bankrupt much atheist analysis of the Bible and Christianity is. If we take the lies and refute and expose them, good comes out of it.”

          This is from his most recent post. I hate to give this guy blog traffic but when he brings you up, I have to look. I am proudly banned from his site FWIW.

        • Thanks for the summary. I truly can’t imagine how an adult (Dave) sees this “Bob was mean to me!!” kind of argument puts him in a good light. I’ve corrected him, and he has no interest in the correction. He likes his little reality distortion zone.

          If I follow him in his race to the bottom, he’d beat me on experience. He’s a much better schoolyard bully than I am, and I’ve lost interest in his whining.

        • epicurus

          I wonder if he was this vicious in his Evangelical protestant days defending that position before he converted to Catholicism.

        • I hesitate to imagine.

        • Otto

          And yet not a word of the crimes of his Church that were released this week…but Bob is the bad guy.

        • Susan

          And yet no a word of the crimes of his Church this week

          Come on, Otto. You are just showing your anti-catholic hatred. There are always people raping children. That they protect rapists from secular authorities is what everyone does. How desperate are you to attack the one true church if you bring that up?

        • Otto

          I read on a Catholic blog from a commenter that the reason the Church is having so much trouble with child rape is that Satan attacks that which is close to God…so child rape is proof of the RCC being the one true church…I truly wish I was kidding.

        • Pofarmer

          Yep, up is down, black is white.

        • MR

          That’s pretty much a Protestant sentiment, too. “If we weren’t such fine, upstanding Christians, Satan wouldn’t be afflicting us with so many terrible things.” It’s a win-win. You absolve yourself of all guilt and get to blame someone else.

        • Otto

          So apparently if everyone in the Church acted decently than that would be proof that it is not ‘of God’….?

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower
        • Pofarmer

          Many of us here are banned, Rover. He’s a charlatan, a liar, and a person of questionable moral fiber, in my view. Screw him. Maybe some people will come from here to there. I dunno. Don’t really care any more. He’s got to get in his 5 minute hate.

        • Susan

          OT/ HI Bob, Dave Armstrong is still using you as his whipping boy

          I have found it bad form to even mention someone who’s been banned.

          Dave Armstrong makes a career out of banning people and then lying about their position when they can’t defend themselves.

          He has a very long record of doing this. His reputation precedes his behaviour here with Bob and others at Cross Examined.

          He is known for misrepresenting anyone who disagrees with him, for editing his responses without putting it on the record, for banning people willly nilly (including banning them for something they’ve said elsewhere, often without being specific or honest about it) and not only claiming victory but for then using that to write more “papers”.

          Ignore him.

          Everyone, ignore him, please.

        • Pofarmer

          Dave strikes me as someone who can’t separate his religion from his personal identity. My wife has this problem. He’s indoctrinated so far that any kind of an “attack” on a Catholic idea is an attack on his very person. It’s debilitating. I’m not so sure this isn’t what’s going on with Dave.

        • Otto


        • Susan

          I’m not so sure this isn’t what’s going on with Dave.

          I think there’s more to it than that. His behaviour goes beyond that.

          I’m not going to speculate further than that as I am not qualified.

          Also, he’s not worth the energy.

        • No point in bringing up the Pennsylvania case with either of them, I suppose.

        • Greg G.

          That didn’t stop me from bringing it up, though.

        • Kevin K

          So, you’re going proactive in terms of joining the Banned By Dave Armstrong Club™.

        • Well, yeah, but you’ve got no tact. Does no one consider Dave’s feelings in all this?

        • al kimeea

          It seems a number of those child raping bastards were banished to Canada.

        • epeeist

          He’s indoctrinated so far that any kind of an “attack” on a Catholic idea is an attack on his very person

          Yes, I have pointed this out as a problem with Salman Rushdie’s ideas on debate before, it works so long as the person involved in the debate doesn’t have a personal identity that is tightly bound with the system of ideas that is being criticised.

        • Pofarmer

          So then the only option is to remain silent?

        • epeeist

          So then the only option is to remain silent?

          No, I think the days when theists could tell atheists to STFU are long gone, at least in developed countries.

          What I think it does mean is that one needs to consider one’s strategy in this kind of situation.

        • Kevin K

          Honestly, I don’t care what he says. I blocked him ages and ages and ages ago when he outed himself as a non-thinking, knee-jerk, wanna-be-apologist-but-can’t-hack-it insufferable twit.

          I ain’t giving him clicks, no matter what he says about anything.

          The only exception is if he decides to apologize for giving aid and comfort to the child molestation ring known as the Catholic Church priesthood. Otherwise, he can fuck right off. And fuck off from there. And continue to fuck off until he fucks right off.

        • Lark62

          I don’t want to give him any more clicks than necessary, but on his main page he has a series of about 8 “Bob the Awful Atheist” posts. 2 had 15 or 17 comments, the rest had 0 to 2 comments each. I dont care enough to actually read either posts or comments.

        • I’ve always seen comments as good feedback that the post meant something. Pretty sad.

          6 months ago, I’d have been delighted to have him be interested enough to give thoughtful critique to some of my arguments. I highly doubt that “thoughtful critique” is what they’ve received, and I now have zero interest in trudging through his posts to find out.

        • Lark62

          Don’t bother. I glanced at the most recent for grins. A big chunk was criticism that you haven’t responded to the previous 8 posts, with no hint that he had banned you so you couldn’t reply. Dishonest even for a christian.

          I think he’s getting lonely in his echo chamber, and without commenters he has nothing to plagiarize from. It reads like he’s trying to goad you into a reply on your blog so he gets traffic again. Thoroughly pathetic.

        • Yes, pathetic indeed. I don’t want to give him traffic, and (and this is actually lamentable) I have no reason to suppose that he’s got any interesting, provocative, or novel arguments that I haven’t responded to. He and his posts are probably a waste of time, and I have zero interest in going there to find out.

        • Lark62

          Look at the bright side, you can use the time in a more meaningful and productive manner. Even cleaning hair from the tub drain would qualify.

        • Otto

          Or playing solitaire until dawn, with a deck of 51

        • Greg G.

          I’ll watch Captain Kangaroo for you.

        • Otto

          …smoking cigarettes

        • Lark62

          But counting flowers on the wall wouldn’t bother me at all.

        • epeeist

          2 had 15 or 17 comments, the rest had 0 to 2 comments each.

          But isn’t his blog amongst the most popular Catholic blogs on Patheos, at least according to him?

        • I think he’s right, at least according to the information I have. Keep in mind though that his competition might also have few comments or might disallow comments.

          When I see a crazy Christian post that I expect to disagree with, I first scroll down to see if comments are allowed. If not, I almost always don’t bother reading it.

          In their defense, I do see downsides to comments, but in the domain of Christian apologetics, comments seem to be mandatory.

        • Otto

          >>>”comments seem to be mandatory.”

          I think I am going to need you to define your terms…;)

        • Yes, I was ambiguous, wasn’t I?

          Let me try again: An honest debate needs to allow readers’ comments.

        • Otto

          OK fair enough…now we need to merge ‘Christian apologetics’ with ‘honest debate’….Yikes!

        • I think you’ve identified the rock on which my happy ship of honest discussion has foundered.

        • Otto

          And it is a breath of fresh air!

        • Pofarmer

          You could probably power a starship with the resulting reaction.

    • Illithid

      I was about to point that out as well. I was thinking the graphic was too pessimistic, given recent polling data.

  • Kev Green

    I don’t have a problem reconciling free will and an omniscient God. I do however have a different problem with the free will issue. Free will requires full information. I can’t freely choose to worship God without knowing if he exists. Taking God’s existence solely on faith is nonsense; faith leads one to whatever conclusion one wants to come to. A God that condemns people to eternal damnation for failing to believe in the correct version of him owes it to us to make it clear which version of him to worship. Otherwise, he needs to stop pretending that he is offering us actual free will in determining our eternal fate.

    • ThaneOfDrones

      Host: ” And which will you choose? Door number one, door number two, or door number three?”

      Guest: “Door number two!”

      Host: “And door number two contains (drum roll) …. a goat! The new car is hidden behind door number four.”

      Guest: “WTF? There’s no door number four. No one told me about this. How am I suppose to choose the correct door if I don’t even know about it?”

      Host: “And now, a word from our sponsor…”

    • Pofarmer

      To loosely quote Homer Simpson “But what if there is a God, and we’re worshiping him wrong, and we’re just making him madder, and madder…………………..”

    • JustAnotherAtheist2

      Out of curiosity, how do you reconcile omniscience and free will? Does this fix apply to god himself?

      • Kev Green

        Knowing the outcome (omniscience) and controlling the outcome (free will) are two different things. I’m an Agnostic. I prefer to just say ‘I don’t know’ when dealing with purely philosophical issues. There are far too many other reasons why the Abrahamic God is inconsistent with the world as we know it.

        • JustAnotherAtheist2

          Merely saying they are different doesn’t actually reconcile it. You still need to explain how the two can coexist.

          FWIW, I’ve found a way to reconcile the two, but the circumstances required sacrifice several essential characteristics of god. I’m just curious if you’ve come up with a different way.

        • Kev Green

          Nope, my thinking doesn’t get any deeper than acknowledging that they are different concepts. To even begin to go further would require a concrete understanding of what being omniscient even meant.

          I see it as a purely philosophical exercise to reconcile them so I don’t have a problem with just ignoring whether or not they can be reconciled.

        • I say “I don’t know” as well, and that’s why I call myself an atheist–I have no God belief.

    • eric

      Free will requires full information.

      Sorry, I don’t see it. I think it’s certainly possible to make ‘free’ decisions given limited information. In those cases you acknowledge there’s some risk of being wrong, so you may not have a high confidence in your decision, but IMO ‘freedom’ /= absolute confidence. In some way they are in fact contradictory, as I really don’t have much freedom in believing 1+1=2. If you have the information, you’re pretty much stuck accepting it.

      Now if you want to argue that God is a moral monster for consigning people to hell after they’ve done the best decision-making they can with the limited information that they have, I will agree with you. But that’s not a free will argument.

      And if you want to argue that the arguments for free will are generally bad, and determinism has the stronger case, I’ll agree with you there too. But within the context of discussing free will, I really don’t think it requires ‘full information’ in order to be free. At the very least, that would be an historically odd definition since nobody in history has had perfect information.

  • The existence of this article at least attests to the fact that atheism is now more known in the Muslim world. On point 7 though, bear in mind that this may not be Islamic too.

    • ThaneOfDrones

      There are religions which are not Islam, but are they given column space in Pakistan Today?

      • Probably not. My point is 7 may not apply to Islam.

    • epicurus

      Yes It’s good they are at least becoming aware of an actual atheism that denies a supernatural world, rather than just calling everyone who isn’t Islamic and or Judeo Christian an atheist.

      • I’m not even sure the term they use literally means “atheist” in Urdu. Perhaps it’s more like “Godless”, which is broader. In any case, it does help to illuminate actual atheists. However, some atheists believe in the supernatural (depending on the definition).

  • Meepestos


    I can think of a lot of reasons to pretend to not be an atheist.

  • RichardSRussell

    This just in from BuzzFeed News:

    In a reversal of years of branding and more than a century of colloquial use, the religion commonly known as the Mormon Church has asked that people stop using the word “Mormon” when referring to the faith. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced Thursday in an update to its style guide that the nickname “Mormon” and the abbreviation “LDS” should be avoided. Instead, the church would prefer to be called “the Church,” “the Church of Jesus Christ,” or “the restored Church of Jesus Christ.”​

    Geez, I dunno about that first one. Isn’t “the Church®” the exclusive property of the Roman Catholics? I sense a trademark-infringement suit in the offing.

    I suspect that the real motivation behind this move is the number of people who kept leaving out that lower-case “m”.

    • Kevin K

      I always write it thusly … Mormon.

    • Otto

      The LDS also said “Jell-O eater” is right out…

      P.S. Whew…I am glad you posted and you are not the guy that stole the plane…;)

      • RichardSRussell

        Another reason why I always use my middle initial, tho it started out as a distinction between me and the racist, misogynistic, militaristic Senator Richard B. Russell of Georgia.

        • Here’s another Richard Russell you might want to distance yourself from. Did you hear about the Horizon Air employee who stole a turboprop airplane, buzzed around Puget Sound for an hour (tailed by two F-15s), and then crashed into an uninhabited island? Yep–Richard Russell.

        • RichardSRussell

          Yup. I go into my reaction to that event on my blog.

        • Otto

          OK I read that piece and that is hilarious…not the part about the man dying that shared your name, the part where you made up an aviation company (and a great pun) and then got unintentionally mixed into the story. I am sure it hasn’t been completely funny to you…but as someone looking from the outside like me…it is really funny. I do hope you don’t come to any harm or difficulties though.



          With regards to that plane event…I know about that first-hand. That idiot went right over my home several times. We hear planes around here a lot due to several airports and military bases, and usually pay no attention to them. But when I heard what sounded like a big plane coming awfully close, I went outside to check it out–and here’s this nut job doing acrobatics overhead and being hot-tailed by a couple of F-15s jets. McCord AFB is close by, so I thought they were training from there–until the news cuts in on what was really going on. Then when this prop plane crashed, it was not far from us, just a few miles due west. Talk about thinking we oughta move! BTW–my roommate’s last name is RUSSELL! No relation, tho’–and with a lot more brains than either of those two.

        • I like to hang out with Christians sometimes, and I go to the biweekly Reasonable Faith meeting in Tacoma, which is also near McChord. Small world.

    • Tommy

      The People Formally Known As Mormons® 😉

  • Gary M

    Top reason for being an a-theist: It is the truth.