An Atheist Celebrates the Comfort of the Christian Worldview

An Atheist Celebrates the Comfort of the Christian Worldview May 3, 2019

In 2010, John Steinrucken wrote an article, “Secularism’s Ongoing Debt to Christianity.” Like philosopher Antony Flew’s ghost-written appeal to deism a few years earlier, Steinrucken became a short-lived darling within the Christian apologetics community. Finally, they had found an atheist with a little common sense who could appreciate Christianity as the foundation that Western civilization rested on.

The most ludicrous line in Steinrucken’s scattered argument was this:

Has there ever been a more perfect and concise moral code than the one Moses brought down from the mountain?

Grab a barf bag and compare your reaction to mine.

Déjà vu all over again

I’d only seen one other instance of an atheist praising the Christian worldview.

But then I came across yet one more example. In a rambling 2015 email titled, “You’ve Ruined My Life, Professor Craig!!” a gushing fanboy named Adam tells William Lane Craig how fabulous he is. Craig ruined Adam’s atheist worldview by presenting such danged good arguments for Christianity.

Kevin Harris, Craig’s podcast sidekick, said,

Many are, in fact, saying (including myself) this is the greatest letter in the question and answer forum on Reasonable Faith.

The greatest letter? That’s something we must investigate.

Problem the first: nihilism

Adam said that he was a happy atheist who loved philosophy until he read Craig’s article, “The Absurdity of Life without God,” after which everything changed. (I have responded to this article of Craig’s.)

Craig declared that the atheist worldview “was worthless in every possible way.” Adam’s reaction:

[That article] completely shattered my worldview. . . .

What you say the atheistic worldview entails is true. There is no escaping the nihilism as an atheist.

Everything has died for me.

You have ruined my life.

It doesn’t sound like Adam was much of an atheist but more on this later. Adam is saying here that life has no ultimate meaning. Well, yeah. So what?

Adam apparently gets anxious at the thought that God, a billion years from now, won’t leaf through his little notebook, see Adam’s name, and think fondly of the good times they had together during Adam’s brief life on earth. Sorry Adam, but out of the billions of people on the earth right now, you’re not that big a deal. You’re even less important when seen with all of history as a backdrop.

Neil DeGrasse Tyson has a helpful observation: “If you are depressed after being exposed to the cosmic perspective, you started your day with an unjustifiably large ego.”

Life has plenty of meaning, just not transcendentally grounded meaning. It has the meaning that we assign to it and that we find for it, not that someone else like a religious leader assigns for us. Most of us find that not debilitating but empowering.

Problem the second: moral grounding

Adam had another concern:

There is no foundation for morality outside of God.

Wrong. He begs the question by assuming that morality means a God-grounded morality. It doesn’t—look it up. Morality is simply the set of beliefs about good and bad, right and wrong. I’ve never seen evidence for objective morality (morality that would be true whether humans were here to appreciate it or not). Examples inevitably offered such as the wrongness of torture for fun are instead examples of shared or strongly felt morality. We don’t need God to explain human morality; evolution does the job.

(I discuss morality here and here. I respond to Christian apologists’ weak arguments about morality here, here, and here.)

Who is this guy?

Kevin Harris assures us that Adam’s letter is what it claims to be rather than a hoax. I believe him, even though that’s hard to believe given ingratiating flattery like this aimed at Craig:

You are and always have been my favorite living philosopher. I have seen every debate you have ever recorded and put up on the internet. I watch all your lectures and talks. . . . I think you are the epitome of what a philosopher should be. You’re uber logical, fantastically clear, and “computeresk” with the speed and precision of your responses to objections against your position, particularly the criticisms you respond to in your debates.

(I’m imagining William Lane Craig concert posters taped up on the walls in Adam’s room.)

I must disagree with Adam’s assessment. Craig is a good debater and puts on a good show on stage, but that’s about all I can find positive to say. I’ve responded to his unscientific approach to reality here and here. Some of what he writes sounds like what would get a failing grade in a college freshman paper.

So why isn’t Adam a Christian?

Adam says that he’s bowled over by the fabulousness of Craig’s deist arguments but can’t take that last step to become a Christian. Still, it sounds like he’s tempted:

The deeper I dive into philosophy, the more the theistic worldview seems more plausible. The concepts or “language” of mathematics seems to “cry out” as you put it for an explanation, objective moral values seem to be real (but they can’t be “real”, if atheism is true), the idea of “existence” nauseates me to no end (just the thought of anything, at all, existing, and especially existing without any reason, frightens me), and I could go on and on.

I’ve responded to Craig’s Argument from Mathematics, and we’ve talked about objective moral values above. As for Adam’s fear of stuff existing without a reason, I have no idea what he’s concerned about. Doesn’t science explain why things exist? And where it doesn’t (yet), can he be saying that God is hiding in those gaps of science’s ignorance?

This admission of fear tips his hand. He’s not much interested in the truth but in finding a respected scholar who can pat him on the head and reassure him that he is indeed living in Fluffy Bunny Land, just like he’d hoped.

Adam’s concern

Adam hates his “nihilistic-atheistic world” and sees Christian belief as his salvation. If he simply swapped in a new set of beliefs, these unpleasant thoughts would be gone.

Theism is a dream come true. The world would make sense, the existential mysteries that haunt me would be solved, life would be livable. It is atheism, however, which seems to be true, yet I do not want to live like this. I have become depressed to no end. I have been in a nihilistic rut for years now. I have become utterly recluse. Yet, even with all this, I cannot come to believe in God. . . . You may be my last hope. . . . I know the “answer” is Christianity, but as I said, I cannot get myself to believe its truth. I am an atheist who hates atheism. I want there to be a God more than anything, yet I cannot get myself to believe in one.

If Adam is this depressed, he needs therapy. But if he desperately wants Christianity to be true and knows that Christianity is the answer, then he’s a Christian.

That was easy. Adam, be sure to contact me if this becomes a problem again. Please pay on the way out.

Craig’s response

Craig does little besides bask in the adoration, though a couple of his points need a response.

You need to escape the cloying bonds of naturalism by catching glimpses of a transcendent reality beyond the material world.

If anything binds us, it’s religion. Look at a map of world religions to see how the Big Questions get different religious answers based on where they’re asked.

Genesis 1 tells us that God shaped the earth like Play-Doh, while science tells us that a typical galaxy holds 100 billion stars and that your little fingernail held at arm’s length covers a million of them. Oh—and it backs up its claims with evidence.

If any explanation is cloying (or condescending), it’s Christianity’s childish Bronze Age view of reality.

Craig riffed on Adam’s concern about nihilism:

[Atheists who reject nihilism are] inconsistent with [their] worldview. In fact, I argue it is really impossible to live consistently and happily within the framework of an atheistic worldview. So if you want to be happy you are going to do what your friends do, and that is to live inconsistently.

Thanks for the condescension, but I can have happiness and consistency. There is no ultimate meaning or purpose to the universe, humanity, or my own life. Ordinary meaning and purpose—discovered and invented by humans—works just fine, thanks.

Craig assured Adam that God is chasing him (in a way that made me wonder if Adam might need a restraining order):

He is after you and will continue His pursuit until you recognize in Him all that you are longing for.

Tell that to the ex-Christians whose faith waned and who begged God to reveal himself. Didn’t happen. Read more at Rational Doubt, the blog of the Clergy Project, a safe place for clergy who doubt.

We were born of risen apes, not fallen angels.
— Robert Ardrey

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(This is an update of a post that originally appeared 4/8/15.)

Image from David Blackwell, CC license

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  • ThaneOfDrones

    Once upon a time there was a young man who was superficially impressed with Craig’s arguments which use science and mathematics. I told that young man, “Lo, you are only impressed because you do not know much of science and mathematics.” That young man proceeded to teach himself some science and mathematics, and lo, he was no longer impressed with how well Craig’s arguments held up. That young man was Luke Muehlhauser.

  • JustinL

    Did they ever do any follow-up on this guy? I still haven’t ruled out that he’s completely made up.

    • A fair question. This is an updated post, and I believe the original author joined us in the comments back in 2015. Maybe others with a better memory can verify. Or you can poke around yourself.

      https://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/2015/04/does-this-atheist-have-a-point-or-is-this-a-sycophantic-poe/#disqus_thread

      • Damian Byrne

        First, of course we can keep numbers in our head, but in order for them to be true, the idea goes, they have to relate to something in reality, i.e. in an abstract realm. So, while we may be able to keep the number “2” in our head, we cannot (and this is the point of the criticism of psychologism) keep infinities in our head. So, you are not impressed with something that the psychologist would agree with you on, haha. I hope you understand that now.

        Yeah I’m reading through the original and the guy…I can imagine infinities. I can either imagine the infinity symbol, or I can imagine a large group of objects, and then imagine me imagining constantly zooming out, constantly seeing more and more and more objects, never ending. There, I’ve done it.

  • RichardSRussell

    Bob, I’m a long-time fan of your work, but if I ever send you a groveling, pandering, suck-up message like this, you have my go-ahead to have me shot.

  • Raging Bee

    Has there ever been a more perfect and concise moral code than the one Moses brought down from the mountain?

    Um…the words of Jesus Christ?

    • Jim Jones

      The words of Fred Rogers:

      1) Be kind.

      End of list.

      • Raging Bee

        Yep, that works too. So does the Pagan commandment to “do as you will, so long as you harm none.”

    • Damian Byrne

      Here’s a challenge to you, Raging Bee. Look at Jim Jone’s response, and try to convince me that Fred Roger’s words (Be Kind) are somehow lesser than the words of Jesus Christ?

      • al kimeea

        One fishing trip, we boiled it down to ‘be nice’. Nice people are kind, and unlike JC, detest slavery.

    • al kimeea

      not really, slavery was a word JC was OK with

    • Lark62

      The Satanic Temple’s 7 Tenets are far superior to the 10 Cs.

  • Raging Bee

    I’ve never seen evidence for objective morality (morality that would be true whether humans were here to appreciate it or not).

    What makes you think that’s the only possible meaning of the phrase “objective morality?” How about “morality that is based on observation of beneficial or harmful consequences of actions?” That’s the morality driving nearly all of the progressive social-justice movements in human history (observing a certain set of actions are harmful and organizing to fight them); so why shouldn’t we be using that definition, instead of the one that pretty much defines the concept out of existence?

    • That’s how it’s usually defined, and so he addresses that. What you just described has also been held to be objective. If not though, another view would be equally valid. Except for “impartial” I’m not aware of another definition the word “objective” has.

    • Greg G.

      How about “morality that is based on observation of beneficial or harmful consequences of actions?”

      Distinguishing between beneficial and harmful is subjective, especially so when the decisions are favoring the species doing the distinguishing.

      • Raging Bee

        No, it’s nowhere near that subjective.

  • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

    I’m thinking this is definitely in the realm of r/thathappened or #ThatHappened….

    • LastManOnEarth

      “Cool story bro!”

  • The Bofa on the Sofa

    Wrong. He begs the question by assuming that morality means a God-grounded morality.

    I’m more of a “Bill-and-Ted-grounded morality” guy myself.
    1) Be Excellent to Each Other! and
    2) Party on, dudes!

    I will also note that this is a more concise and perfect moral code than the dumbass Ten C.

    It doesn’t sound like Adam was much of an atheist but more on this later.

    I won’t say he wasn’t an atheist, but if he was, he was pretty damn shallow. If your thinking is really that shallow, then go ahead, be a Christian instead. It’s not like you are making anyone look good.

    • Michael Murray

      I think his atheism is just “I’m a teenager who doesn’t believe in God”. He’s not a fully qualified Level 8 Dawkinsian acolyte with a Sword of Hitchins 🙂

      • Grimlock

        How do I get such a sword?

  • zenmite

    “Theism is a dream come true. The world would make sense, the existential mysteries that haunt me would be solved, life would be livable.”

    I too suffered from this sort of existential angst for a long while, especially as a teen. Nihilism, life was without meaning, everything is ‘just’ atoms, just chemicals, etc. At the time, I too was a sort of on again off again atheist. I think many christians (like WLC) believe all atheists are like this, but just won’t admit it. Most any belief system will ‘solve’ these types of questions. They solve them by giving you simple, easy answers. To the degree that you can actually convince yourself that the beliefs are true, they can and do provide comfort of sorts. This is what most people do. I chose a different route. I decided to confront this existential horror and meaninglessness head on. I haven’t believed in god since I was 19 and I’m 60 now.

    Whining about life having no meaning because it does not last forever is sort of like complaining because a beautiful song eventually comes to an end or a great novel doesn’t last forever. I hated it when Breaking Bad came to an end, but I didn’t go into existential meltdown. Life has meaning just as art, music or literature has meaning. The meaning is right there, not in some ultimate, idealized future or heavenly place. In my view, there is no ‘ultimate’ purpose to life any more than there is ultimate purpose to laughter or love.

    • This “OMG there’s no meaning!!” problem is one that I never faced. Thanks for your perspective.

    • Otto

      Christians also hand wave away the problem that in their worldview one might not believe or do the right thing and face eternal consequences for that. A rational Christian has to admit that they could be doing it wrong and might end up on the short end of the stick. I know as a child and as a believer I faced that question and it caused a lot of existential angst…as a 12 year old Christian I came to the conclusion it would have been better if I hadn’t been born at all rather than take even a small chance that I am not ‘doing it’ right in God’s eyes. There are the Christians that believe there is no way God could not be on their side…and aren’t they fun…

      • al kimeea

        Oh yeah. Party like it’s 1618. Say hi to Julie.

      • Treyarnon

        I’m with you on that. My early life immersed in evangelical Christianity was full of existential angst, fearing the possible consequences of displeasing God, worrying about the “eternal destiny” of my friends and later my daughter etc. I definitely spent much more time silently wishing I’d never been born then than I do now, no matter how difficult life can be at times. It’s another example of Christians refusal to see that the answers they offer up only complicate life and create further problems.

    • Kodie

      I like to say, just because you had breakfast doesn’t mean you’re not going to be hungry again – does this mean you shouldn’t eat? And then I go for, why eat anyway, why is there eating? Why do all living things need to eat or be nourished continually, somehow. That is another clue for evolution, another clue that we’re not special, that other beings do what we do, yawn, have sex, poop, and eat, etc. While humans try to make some meals very special, and create new combos of food, eating is mundane and necessary, which makes it kind of a weird system overall for a god to establish, especially if some people (if people are the special creatures among all of earth’s living things) do not have regular access to food or water.

  • argyranthemum

    Christianity is not a cure for depression. Just ask ex-Christians like me who spent much of their time in the faith worrying that they/d never be good enough for God because no matter how hard they tried they still had doubts. And who noticed dreadful things in the Bible like God commanding genocide and rules for how to treat your slaves and your wife.

    • Damian Byrne

      Aye. As a child, I hated my mother, for quite deserved reasons which I won’t get into here. As a child, I was a comitted Christian, who often walked home trying to puzzle the ten commandments, especially the honour thy mother and thy father. I couldn’t do it towards my mother. I couldn’t, was literally incapable, of honouring someone I didn’t like. This teaching from a supposed perfect god had me in all sorts of existential crisis.

    • Pofarmer

      This pretty much describes my mother in law to a T. Catholicism gave her the disease, and the cure. And the cure is Always more Catholicism. More. Faster. Funny how that works, eh?

  • Atheists are saying, ‘You see New Zealand, Sri Lanka, and California, religious people attacking each other. The world would be a better place without religion. There will be peace without God’.

    Not really. Look at North Korea, an officially atheist nation. You remember how horribly they killed Otto Warmbier. This morning his mother said, on his beathbed, ‘my son’s eyes looked as if ‘he’d seen the devil’. Now, we know, most atheists are peace loving citizens. Yet atheism provides no justification for peace. Naturalism cannot explain why non-violence is moral and violence is immoral. Darwinism teaches us that we are the products of millions of years of violence. It does not say, ‘now, human beings, you ought to live like Gandhi’.

    John Earnest clearly wrote in his manifesto that he did not learn his white supremacist beliefs from his Christian family. He got it from the social media rife with secular White supremacist and anti-semitic bigotry. Almost all of the recent white nationalist terrorists have been secular like Dylann Roof, Adam Lanza, the Las Vegas shooter etc.

    John Earnest violated Christian faith and its fundamentals. In naturalism, you cannot violate any thing. You dance to your DNA. If pacificst genes dominate, you will be a peaceful person. If violent genes dominate, you will be a violent person. Naturalism does not elevate love above hate. That is only possible with God. That is only possible with Jesus who said, ‘Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you’.

    If you are supposed to give such treatment to your enemies, how should you treat Jews, who are not even our enemies?

    Wrong theology will cost lives as the story of John Earnest showed us. There are two things in Christianity, Orthodoxy and Orthopraxy. Right belief and right living. May God help us in both areas.

    • It does not say, ‘now, human beings, you ought to live like Gandhi’.

      We’re social animals. Evolution does indeed tell us to be nice to each other (though it says other things as well).

      Atheism is one answer (no) to one question (do you have a god belief?). That’s it. Don’t blame Stalin on atheism.

      Christianity looks like an invented religion, just like all the rest.

    • MR

      What is this except a scare tactic that is overblown?

      “Oh my God, the world is going to hell in a hand basket! Won’t someone think of the children! You must believe in fill-in-the-blank or… something!”

      Meanwhile the rest of us keep living our lives normally.

      None of this even shows us that God exists. Where is the evidence that God exists? We should believe in something because you’re scared and don’t know how to navigate life without a religion? Oh, brother. Grow up.

    • Damian Byrne

      Look at North Korea, an officially atheist nation.

      Care to go to North Korea, and publicly insult
      the Kim dynasty? Or ask if Kim-jong il (the previous leader) didn’t score 18 holes in one, write a 1,000 books, or have his birth ontop of a sacred mountain heralded by the creation of a new star (it’s in his official biography)? I don’t see much of a difference between worshipping Kim-jong il and his father and his son, (hey, a trinity!) or worshipping the trinity of Jesus the Son, God the Father and the Holy Spirit.

      You remember how horribly they killed Otto Warmbier.

      What would you say if I pulled names for people killed byofficially Christian nations or regimes?

      Yet atheism provides no justification forpeace.

      So? I’m a person who is an atheist and yet if I want peace, I don’t go looking to atheism for it. Just like I don’t go looking to an electrician for a diagnosis on diabetes.

      Naturalism cannot explain why non-violence is moral and violence is immoral.

      And yet within Christianity, I see this violence being celebrated anyway. Christianity has its Jesus tossing people out of a temple, has its Jesus urge the purchase of weapons, and since this Jesus is either an incarnation, or agent, of the Old Testament God Father character, then what Jesus specifically did in the 20s/30s AD is of ultimately little importance regarding this discussion. The Old Testament Godfather employed violence a lot.
      Anyway, check the following link out – it’s a discussion I had with Christians on how they celebrate violence, and would do nothing to prevent the violence done towards Jesus, their innocent messiah saviour, if they had been there at his crucifixion on that day.

      https://debatingchristianity.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=34068

      Darwinism teaches us that we are the products of millions of years of violence. It does not say, ‘now, human beings,you ought to live like Gandhi’.

      Christianity teaches that we are the product of thousands of years, if not millions of years, (depending on whether one is youngearth creationist or old) of sin and violence. It says one ought to live like Jesus, but also that one will fail. Also, out of curiosity, why do you say in your example there to live like Gandhi, and not Jesus? Is this a slip of the tongue, so to speak, is Gandhi a quote unquote better moral exemplar than your Jesus?

      John Earnest clearly wrote in his manifesto that he did not learn his white supremacist beliefs from his Christian family.

      And yet other Christian families taught hatred to their children.

      Point?

      Almost all of the recent white nationalist terrorists have been secular like Dylann Roof, Adam Lanza, the Las Vegas shooter
      etc.

      Even supposing for a moment this to be true (I’m not going to bother to check)…so what? If I say these people violated the tenets of secularism, would that count for anything in your mind?

      John Earnest violated Christian faith and its fundamentals.

      Says who? You? Who died and made you the new Pope?

      In naturalism, you cannot violate any thing.

      Other than physics, chemistry, biology, etc…?

      If pacificst genes dominate, you will be a peaceful person. If violent genes dominate, you will be a violent person.

      And if, according to Christianity, sin dominates, then one will be a sinful person…

      Naturalism does not elevate love above hate. That is only possible with God.

      And yet here I am, full of love. Odd that. I feel love, and in fact, feel it to a greater degree than when I was a Christian.

      Thatis only possible with Jesus who said, ‘Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you’.

      How poorly you think of people, that in your worldview, people just can’t love or feel love, or were or are incapable of it, up until a specific Jesus
      Christ character says that one line.
      I suppose everyone was full of hatred right up until Yoda said in the Star Wars prequels that fear is the path to the dark side, fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate and hate leads to suffering? Once he said that wise line, then everything became right as rain?

      There are two things in Christianity, Orthodoxy and Orthopraxy.

      And if someone believes or says something within Christianity that is not orthodox…?History has shown us what happens then.

      Wrong theology will cost lives as the story of John Earnest showed us.

      Yes, I agree. At the hands of those who perceive a slight to their orthodoxy.

      Also as an after thought – this site needs to ditch Disqus. While I was crafting this reply, anytime I copied and pasted new parts from Paul in order to respond, the page would distort the text, creating huge blank spaces. It got to the point where my machine with 16GB of RAM hung. When I copied and pasted what I had done in the comment box into a word processor, I literally had over 400 pages of nothing but blank.

    • Greg G.

      Atheists are saying, ‘You see New Zealand, Sri Lanka, and California, religious people attacking each other. The world would be a better place without religion. There will be peace without God’.

      Name one atheist who has said that.

      If there was a being who cared enough about people to prevent unnecessary suffering and was omnipotent enough to make all suffering unnecessary, then all that suffering is proof that no such being exists. Why pretend that there is one?

    • Michael Neville

      While North Korea may be “officially atheistic”, in reality the Kim family is worshiped as gods. The Great Leader, Kim Il-sung, is credited with single-handedly defeating the Japanese at the end of World War II (ignoring Soviet, Chinese and American efforts). . Over the course of his life he was granted titles of esteem such as “Sun”, “Great Chairman”, and “Heavenly Leader.” After his death Kim Il-sung was named the “Eternal President” by his son, Kim Jong-il and the national constitution was changed to reflect this. In 1997 the calendar was revised to begin with the birth of Kim Il-sung on April 15, 1912.

      The Dear Leader Kim Jong-il continued the practice of deification. Did you know that he never defecated? He also played one game of golf, in which he shot at least ten holes-in-one. He also wrote 1000 books and six operas. After his death he was named “Eternal Secretary General of the Workers’ Party” and “Eternal Chairman of the Defense Commission”. His son, Kim Jong-un, has carried on this family tradition.

    • NS Alito

      Yet atheism provides no justification for peace.

      You’re right, it doesn’t. That isn’t the point of not having a belief in any gods.

      Theism, on the other hand, provides no justification for believing in the existence of a supernatural being. No evidence, just internal feelings and apologetics.

      I think what you seek is humanism, with or without supernatural involvement. No cults of personality (Pol Pot, the deified Kims of North Korea, Stalin, Idi Amin, etc.), no tribal supremacy, no supernatural edicts, no clinging to mistaken traditions.

    • Greg G.

      Yet atheism provides no justification for peace

      Nor does it give any justification for war or killing. The Bible is strong for war and killing.

      Atheism does not give a justification for anything. It is the null position on the existence of god thingies.

      Critical thinking does provide justification for peace, science, healthcare, and lots of good things. It also helps with god thingy fixations.

      You should try it. Maybe you would reduce the number of nutty things you bother to type out.

    • Rudy R

      Yet atheism provides no justification for peace. Naturalism cannot explain why non-violence is moral and violence is immoral.

      Atheism is an answer to the god question, not an answer to justifying peace. You’re committing another category error comparing theism to naturalism in terms of morality. Most atheists would consider themselves humanists, which is a far superior moral code than theism.

      • Grimlock

        Most atheists would consider themselves humanists,

        I wonder, is this accurate?

        • ORigel

          For internet atheists, yes. Worldwide, probably not.

        • Grimlock

          What makes you say that? It’s not that I have reason to think that you’re wrong. But neither do I have reason to think that you’re right.

        • ORigel

          For the first part, if you spend any length of time on Internet atheism, you find that self-professed humanism is the default.

          I don’t know if the typical Western atheist outside of the Internet community has even heard of humanism.

          Worldwide, we have many Eastern atheists. I doubt they know of humanism.

        • Grimlock

          I have spent quite some time on the internet, frequenting sites that cater to atheists. And the thing is, I haven’t really formed the same impression as you.

          Sure, humanism is a common response if an alternate world view to a religious one is called for. But I don’t think that by itself means that most atheists on the internet identify as humanists. I certainly don’t, for what it’s worth. (Though I might from time to time be accurately described as such.)

          As for the western world, I imagine that varies between countries. In my own native country, I’d say most people in general are somewhat familiar with humanism, as it’s actually covered in school. (In a descriptive manner, not prescriptive.)

        • ORigel

          Whether or not you identify with it, you are a “humanist.” I don’t really use the label outside of this context, because secular humanism is vague. Kantian…hedonist consequentialism…well-being consequentialism…as long as it feels good and isn’t derived from religion, it seems to be “humanist.” Worst of all are the “I’m not feminist, I’m humanist” types.

        • Grimlock

          Hmm. At this point, I’m not sure what you mean by “humanism”. In your original comment to which I responded, you wrote

          Most atheists would consider themselves humanists, which is a far superior moral code than theism.

          The latter half seems to imply humanism in a somewhat codified sense. Perhaps like the International Humanist and Ethical Union:

          Humanism is a democratic and ethical life stance, which affirms that human beings have the right and responsibility to give meaning and shape to their own lives. It stands for the building of a more humane society through an ethic based on human and other natural values in the spirit of reason and free inquiry through human capabilities. It is not theistic, and it does not accept supernatural views of reality.

          What do you mean by “humanism” at this point?

        • ORigel

          The statement doesn’t show a specific moral system. Should I formulate morality on using human beings as ends in themselves and not means? Or should I adhere to consequentialism? Or should I go with virtue ethics? Should I just use common sense? Should I hold to relativism? None of them require gods.

          The field of ethics is more than just divine command theory vs. a monolithic humanism. That’s why I identify as a rule utilitarian– the principle of which is to follow the rules that produce the most well-being. It’s a true ethical system, unlike the collection/mishmash that is secular humanism.

        • JustAnotherAtheist2

          So long as you are referring to human well being and your rules are secular in nature, then you are very much a secular humanist. What you are describing here is a subset, not a different set altogether.

        • ORigel

          I am referring to the well-being of all sentient animals. I hope insects do not feel pain…

          Yeah, I know it’s a subset of humanism. But I think there’s a need for subsets to be distinguished, which some humanists apparently gloss over.

        • JustAnotherAtheist2

          Thanks, I have a better sense of your complaint now.

        • JustAnotherAtheist2

          You seem to be using “humanism” differently in this post than I’ve ever encountered it.

        • ORigel

          Several competing secular moral systems can be described as “humanist.” Stephen Pinker really shows this in a passage from his book Enlightment Now!:

          The idea of a universal human nature brings us to a third theme, humanism. The thinkers of the Age of Reason and the Enlightenment saw an urgent need for a secular foundation for morality, because they were haunted by a historical memory of centuries of religious carnage: the Crusades, the Inquisition, witch hunts, the European wars of religion. They laid that foundation in what we now call humanism, which privileges the well-being of individual men, women, and children over the glory of the tribe, race, nation, or religion. It is individuals, not groups, who are sentient—who feel pleasure and pain, fulfillment and anguish. Whether it is framed as the goal of providing the greatest happiness for the greatest number or as a categorical imperative to treat people as ends rather than means, it was the universal capacity of a person to suffer and flourish, they said, that called on our moral concern.

          And the two opposing views, which Pinker says is “framing,” are the two most important ethical systems in philosophy. The difference is not trivial.

          The “greatest happiness for the greatest number” can apparently justify, say, outlawing a minority religion the majority doesn’t like. Kantian ethics raises its own problems, with following maxims even when that would cause a lot of deaths. Kant himself thought lying is never moral.

        • Kodie

          I have a hard time saying I’m a humanist. I am in favor of civil rights and not hating people just for who they are, but the species tends to be really fucking annoying, selfish, short-sighted, tribal, materialistic, elitist, loud, and too in love with themselves, etc. It’s like this – you can’t live with ’em, you can’t do anything you want to do without ’em, by which I mean, the infrastructure, the gas station, Target, construction workers, the tellers at my bank, the actors in my television. I could not get by without modern conveniences, for which we need the people who get in my fucking way and are going to extinct us all.

        • axially/tilted

          Fuckin A Kodie. Keeping it real. Much respect.

    • Otto

      Atheists are saying, ‘You see New Zealand, Sri Lanka, and California, religious people attacking each other. The world would be a better place without religion. There will be peace without God’.

      I have no doubt there are atheists that say that, however I don’t see religion that way at all.

      The problem with religion is that the results that it outputs are completely unreliable, and at the same time to the believer they are unimpeachable. Believe God told you that the best thing you can do is to serve your fellow man and you get a philanthropist. Believe God told you to spread the word that certain people are icky (gays, people of different faiths or color… or fill in the blank) and you get a bigot. Believe God told you to eradicate those same people…and you get a murderer. You can’t talk anyone of them off their position because ‘God is on their side’. The best we can hope for is some other religious person can get them to believe in a better version of God…of course that knife cuts both ways, some people switch to more fundamentalist/authoritarian versions from the kinder gentler kinds. Again, it is completely random. Sure you can point to the positive stuff…but so what.

      • Neo

        Otto, to spring board off your premises, I believe the real problem with religion is not that the results that it outputs are completely unreliable, but that they are unverifiable. 1 + 1 = 2 proof. Face it, if it could be proved true, the atheists would believe and the believers, if they were facing those doubtful moments, could pull out their equations and whoosh, back to feeling high again with the spirit. But, we don’t have that, and anyone who says they do is a liar. The riddle is that people place their faith and hope in these man-made institutions in spite of their unsubstantiated and mysterious claims – and they have done so for a long time. More good than bad, having religion in the world? I think the scales are tipped in favor of good, – and the art and music that has come from the people expressing their faith is magnificent.
        Ironic, I think, that in John Lennon’s song, “Imagine”, he urges us to imagine a world without religion to increase in the world a type of love that I believe is most represented by love practiced by the religious person.

        • We don’t need proof, just compelling evidence, and religion doesn’t have it. There’s insufficient evidence for unicorns, so I don’t believe that. Ditto Yahweh.

          There are no “doubtful moments” within science. Science is an excellent (though not perfect) route to reliable knowledge about reality. That’s why we accept it. We don’t need to sing or pray to strengthen our faith in science; it just works.

          You need to expand on your good vs. bad argument. Is this your primary defense of Christianity–that it’s useful? Wouldn’t it be smart for us to acknowledge that the art and music association with religion came 100% from humans? Let’s give credit where it’s due. God is a no-show.

        • Neo

          It is true, in my attempt to suggest that the world is better off with religion than without it, I did defend religion. Bob, I do believe that I we don’t have to guess on whether some art and music that have become part of our reservoir of beauty was inspired by religious beliefs, as the authors have acknowledged it themselves in their own words.

        • Yes, obviously the art and music was inspired by religion–that religion was manmade, too, just like the art and music. Muslim art or sculptures of Greek gods are beautiful, too, but that doesn’t make it anything more than fantasy.

        • Neo

          Agreed, it is certain the “thing” was made by a person. Funny too, how much of our works of art are not the result of love but unrequited love – for instance Shakespeare’s sonnets – But, you could argue religion is “useful” as it does help in identifying or classifying or corralling the motivation or the inspiration of those works of art and helps one appreciate more fully the artwork.

        • Greg G.

          The church sponsored a lot of art to be created but the cynic in me can’t help wondering how much of that money was guilted out of the poverty-stricken. There can be an ugly side from the unwholesomeness of beautiful art.

        • Alchymist

          Be fair. A lot of it was guilted out of rich people who were told they could reduce their time in purgatory if they paid priests to say mass for them.

          Of course, those rich people had generally made their wealth off the poverty-stricken in the first place.

        • Ignorant Amos

          And there are scholars who believe Shakespeare was atheist, or at least had atheist tendencies.

          Shakespeare’s contemporary, Christopher Marlowe proclaimed himself an atheist and his writing is just as rich as Shakespeare’s.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Passionate_Shepherd_to_His_Love

          Religion just isn’t a pre-requisite for great art and music, end of.

        • Otto

          The first part sounds pretty pedantic to me. Unreliable and unverifiable are just 2 sides of the same coin, you can’t have one without the other.

          I think the scales are tipped in favor of good, – and the art and music that has come from the people expressing their faith is magnificent.

          I think you are engaging in some major league confirmation bias. Sure there is good stuff that has come out of religion, I said as much…you need to address the mountains of garbage produced too.

          Ironic, I think, that in John Lennon’s song, “Imagine”, he urges us to imagine a world without religion to increase in the world a type of love that I believe is most represented by love practiced by the religious person.

          Well there is a rather convenient, non-supported assertion you seem to have pulled out of your rear.

          I could be wrong but it seems like we had this conversation on that topic and I don’t think it went well for you.

        • Kodie

          Another problem with religion? Oh, look at all the art! Look and listen to all the arts and music that glorifies …. basically fiction. Humans have stories, and those stories might be in the bible, that’s why you fools love the bible for how it relates to your life so much. We have a range of relatable experiences, interactions, emotions, and aspirations, that are all glorified in all art. Also disgusting things, because that’s human too. There is no reason to glorify religion for producing superior art!

          I just hate religion appropriating all the good things in life, defining the world, all words and concepts, and what it feels like to be human. There’s a fundamental delusion with that perspective.

    • Grimlock

      You do realize that atheism is not equivalent to naturalism, I hope? As for your assertion that naturalism cannot account for morality, I fail to see that you provide any justification for such a (strong) claim.

      Speaking of morality, I’ve been hoping you’d get back to this comment of mine regarding the arbitrariness of theistic morality.

    • Ignorant Amos

      Not really. Look at North Korea, an officially atheist nation.

      North Korea is an atheist state on paper, but it isn’t irreligious by any means. The atrocities being carried out in North Korea aren’t because there is a lot of no god belief.

      https://www.azquotes.com/picture-quotes/quote-north-korea-is-a-necrocracy-or-a-mauselocracy-or-a-thanatocracy-in-which-the-one-kim-christopher-hitchens-124-48-57.jpg

      North Korea operates on the “Cult of Personality” concept. It’s a quasi-religious set-up. Ever heard the term “Heavenly Leader”?

      https://iamevan.me/ucc/northkorea/leaders.html

      Yet atheism provides no justification for peace.

      How has that religious justification for peace been working out for religion?

      The best places in the world to live are also the most atheistic, so your logic is completely flawed.

      You really need to let go of your imagined understanding of atheism.

    • Joe

      If you are supposed to give such treatment to your enemies, how should you treat Jews, who are not even our enemies?

      Yous say this like there were never any pogroms against Jews by Christians. Where do you think the roots of antisemitism come from?

    • JustAnotherAtheist2

      The world would be a better place without religion. There will be peace without God’.

      The latter sentence appears to be a bastardization of the former. Can you point out anyone who has make the explicit “peace without god” claim.”

      Look at North Korea, an officially atheist nation.

      Nations cannot be atheist, since nations have no beliefs. What NK is doing is suppressing religion in an attempt to replace it with their own dogma and power structure. Is it your contention that this is the inevitable outcome of having atheist leadership?

      Darwinism teaches us that we are the products of millions of years of violence. It does not say, ‘now, human beings, you ought to live like Gandhi’.

      Darwinism (aka evolution) neither teaches or says anything, it’s merely a theory that offers the best explanatory and predictive power. How is having an accurate understanding of reality a bad thing?

    • Kodie

      Most wars are religiously motivated, or at least try to pretend they are. More land means more people under law, more theocracy. You cannot separate white supremacy from biblical teaching, you just can’t. It’s in the bible, and justified in the bible. You cannot say those aren’t really Christians, just because they violated your personal sensibilities, just like you can’t say atheism doesn’t have a sensibility at all.

      That’s the FUCKING PROBLEM with theism. You cannot think clearly about any issues.

  • Jack the Sandwichmaker

    Has there ever been a more perfect and concise moral code than the one Moses brought down from the mountain?

    George Carlin famously reduced the 10 commandments to 2

    1) THOU SHALT ALWAYS BE HONEST AND FAITHFUL, ESPECIALLY
    TO THE PROVIDER OF THY NOOKIE.

    2) THOU SHALT TRY REAL HARD NOT TO KILL ANYONE, UNLESS,
    OF COURSE, THEY PRAY TO A DIFFERENT INVISIBLE MAN
    THAN THE ONE YOU PRAY TO.

    • al kimeea

      St. Carlin had the goods on “bullshit central”

  • Damian Byrne

    It doesn’t sound like Adam was much of an atheist

    Was he? I haven’t read the linked articles, but what was quoted from them doesn’t ring to me to be indicative as to how much of an atheist he was. In fact, I don’t think one can even quantify that, beyond the simple “Do you believe in the existence of a god or gods?” “No” “Then you’re an atheist”/ “Yes”, “Then you’re a theist”

    Perhaps you meant to say he wasn’t much of an atheist skeptic?

    • His letter makes him sound like he believes in god(s). I’m not sure where the angst comes from–if Christianity makes sense (as apparently it does), he should be a Christian.

      • Ignorant Amos

        It could be an example someone writing a bit of Poe.

    • Michael Murray

      You can use the Dawkins’ spectrum of theistic probability

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spectrum_of_theistic_probability

    • Rudy R

      Sounds like Adam did not come to his atheism through skepticism. I consider myself first and foremost a skeptic. And as a result, I’m an atheist. Atheists all share a common bond and pride ourselves on following the evidence, no matter where it leads, but there are some bat shit crazy atheists out there that still baffle the rest of us.

      • No, we don’t, and the “crazies” are evidence for that.

      • Ignorant Amos

        We’ve had atheists on these very boards that fit your “batshit crazy atheists” definition.

  • Ellen Mottley Tannenbaum

    Re: the idea that someone is convinced Christianity is the answer but cannot bring themselves to commit: I once worked in the office of a Church of the Nazarene. We were working on the bulletin for a service baptizing their latest class of recruits when the first assistant pastor offhandedly mentioned he had never been baptized. I still can not comprehend how -or why – he got that job. (And, yes, the main pastor and board of elders knew.)

  • Damian Byrne

    I want there to be a God more than anything, yet I cannot get myself to believe in one.

    If this is indeed not a troll letter, I would say to the kid – that’s it! That’s what you’re SUPPOSED to be doing! Yes, you may indeed have this emotional desire for something to be true, but here you are saying basically that you’re not letting your emotions get in the way of what you actually think is true, where the research and evidence have led you. And for that, I would shake his hand and thump him on the back.

    I want there to be a loving god, who looks after all of us…but I don’t believe it, precisely because I see no evidence for it and much against.

  • Michael Murray

    Proof there is beer in the apologists fridge: If there is no beer in the fridge that would be really depressing.

    “Appeal to consequences”

    • Grimlock

      I try that argument in real life once in a while. It frequently fails, and it is indeed very depressing when it does!

      But then, I am an atheist, and so I a depressing state of affairs is par for the course. Maybe if I convert to Christianity, there would be more beer in my fridge.

      • Michael Neville

        If you convert to Pastafarianism there’s the beer volcanoes.

      • Michael Murray

        Of course there would be more beer. You’d just have to fill the fridge with old beer bottles full of water, close the door and say a blessing.

  • eric

    Has there ever been a more perfect and concise moral code than the one Moses brought down from the mountain?

    This made me lol. Doesn’t this “I want to be Christian but I can’t” guy realize that, according to the Christian doctrine he’s so enamored with, the golden rule trumps the 10 commandments? “More perfect” might be a judgement call, but the golden rule is obviously more concise and more generally applicable. Additionally, unlike the 10Cs, multiple cultures across the world discovered/developed essentially this same moral code.

    • NS Alito

      And the bestest part of the 10Cs is that most entail the death penalty. Sign me up!

    • Although they usually cite common morals as an argument for God, here they might refrain so as not to give Confucius etc credit for it.

      • Michael Neville

        The Buddha also came up with the Golden Rule.

    • Ignorant Amos

      And the Golden Rule is far from perfect too.

  • aCultureWarrior

    I recently asked an atheist what great things atheism has contributed to society (other than the mass murder of between 100-200 million people in the past 100 years), things that they haven’t stolen from Judeo-Christian doctrine and one of his answers was “George Carlin”.
    I kid you not. Yes, atheism is a mental disorder.

  • Rudy R

    Has there ever been a more perfect and concise moral code than the one Moses brought down from the mountain?

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CE8ooMBIyC8

    • Norman Parron

      A true genius. I’m glad he lives forever in my DVD collection!

  • Greg G.

    aCultureWarrior posted:

    I recently asked an atheist what great things atheism has contributed to society (other than the mass murder of between 100-200 million people in the past 100 years), things that they haven’t stolen from Judeo-Christian doctrine and one of his answers was “George Carlin”.
    I kid you not. Yes, atheism is a mental disorder.

    Ask a silly question, get a silly answer. Atheism is a belief position on one subject, basically the null hypothesis on whether any gods exist. That’s it. Atheism is a result of critical thinking. Critical thinking contributes more to society than any religion.

    Atheism cannot motivate anyone to kill. The Bible directly orders killing and war.

  • Michael Murray

    Has there ever been a more perfect and concise moral code than the one Moses brought down from the mountain?

    Surely the Golden Rule if you want concise.

    EDIT: Ah eric already noticed this below. The wiki link is interesting though.

    • Michael Neville

      The Flying Spaghetti Monster’s Eight I’d Really Rather You Didn’ts [LINK] are much more moral than the 10 Commandments. I particularly like #2:

      I’d really rather you didn’t use my existence as a means to oppress, subjugate, punish, eviscerate, and/or, you know, be mean to others. I don’t require sacrifices and purity is for drinking water, not people.

    • ORigel

      The Seven Fundamental Tenets of The Satanic Temple?

    • Alchymist

      Not least because he apparently met up with some Hittites and Mesopotamians while he was up there and got several of his ideas from them.

      • Michael Murray

        And of course there is the missing 5 commandments which we only know about from the CCTV on the mountain. They were probably the ones about treating women, homosexuals, atheists and other religions with respect.

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nXeTsWGPT0w

  • Ficino

    I do not respect Wm. Lane Craig as a philosopher, because he allows theological commitments to trump conclusions that he would draw through philosophical argument. I attended a panel discussion featuring Peter van Inwagen and Craig and Greg Welty. Van Inwagen said that if we are to hold to Fregean logic, we must allow that abstract objects exist – otherwise we can’t say things like “there are faulty sentence forms in your paper.” Craig said he would like to hold that there exist abstract objects, but if he did, they would threaten the aseity of God, since there would be things other than God that are not parts of creation. Craig admitted that his confessional commitments trumped philosophical ones – so he fudged on the sense of “exist” and explicitly posited that ‘exist’ has different meanings, as required by doctrines about God and the contents of God’s mind. He could not get with van Inwagen’s insistence that Craig’s position destroys logic. BTW van Inwagen is also a Christian. He did not think that abstract objects like “sentence forms” theaten God’s aseity because those abstract objects do not have causal powers.

    • To his credit (?) WLC does seem to lay his cards on the table. But the result is a philosophical argument that he’d give an F to if included in a freshman college student’s essay.

      • Grimlock

        Totally unrelated to the comment I’m replying to, but this post might be of interest to you, ref. the case for the historicity of Jesus.

        https://www.patheos.com/blogs/godlessindixie/2019/05/05/was-jesus-a-real-person/

        That seems to be close to what you asked for from McGrath.

        • Neil Carter’s stuff is almost always worth stopping to read. Thanks.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Not this time am afraid. The OP is a litany of errors.

        • Pofarmer

          Whoever this poster is, doesn’t know about half of what he thinks he knows. It would be a major undertaking to Fisk the thing.

        • Ignorant Amos

          I might do the whole thing if there is any kick back about the comment I made decrying the OP and pointing out a few of the more obvious errors I could pull without making it a tl;dr comment.

          It’s one thing to criticize the non-historicity position as the fringe position, but it behooves the author to at least have an idea what it is he is talking about when doing so. And this putting it on a par with 9/11 deniers or creationism grips my fucking shite and demonstrates complete and utter ignorance on the part of the person making that assertion.

        • wtfwjtd

          Yeah, I was less than impressed with that article as well. Comparing mythicism with climate data and holocaust denial seems, er, a bit of a stretch, or more like comparing apples to oranges. I wasn’t overly impressed with the attempts at reading the gospels back into the epistles, either. Without putting too fine a point on it, I think Neal did make some valid points, but also missed the mark in some places as well.

        • Thanks for the review. Now I’m even more intrigued.

        • The point that I object to the most is his Regular Joe Jesus vs. Magic Jesus. I see the distinction, of course, but given that the story is about Magic Jesus, how do you even know there’s a Regular Joe Jesus in there in the first place? Superman does ordinary stuff (walks, eats, talks), so if you pull out just that and leave the super parts, must that Regular Joe Superman likely exist?

          I can imagine a rebuttal: we know Superman is 100% fiction, but if Christianity did originate with a real person, the resulting story would look like the gospel story. But pulling out the natural bits from a supernatural story is not guaranteed to give you the natural origins.

          I think that a full analysis would need to be a broad survey of examples. There’s a “natural Zeus,” but no one says that the Zeus myth started with that. There’s a “natural John Henry,” and people do say that the John Henry legend started with that real guy. Etc.

        • Ignorant Amos

          The point that I object to the most is his Regular Joe Jesus vs. Magic Jesus. I see the distinction, of course, but given that the story is about Magic Jesus, how do you even know there’s a Regular Joe Jesus in there in the first place? Superman does ordinary stuff (walks, eats, talks), so if you pull out just that and leave the super parts, must that Regular Joe Superman likely exist?

          Those are the questions that are not adequately being addressed.

          I can imagine a rebuttal: we know Superman is 100% fiction, but if Christianity did originate with a real person, the resulting story would look like the gospel story. But pulling out the natural bits from a supernatural story is not guaranteed to give you the natural origins.

          There are many similar examples in fiction.

          The one am making over there is the analogous Harry Potter example.

          https://disqus.com/home/discussion/godlessindixie/was_jesus_a_real_person/#comment-4454611279

          I think that a full analysis would need to be a broad survey of examples. There’s a “natural Zeus,” but no one says that the Zeus myth started with that. There’s a “natural John Henry,” and people do say that the John Henry legend started with that real guy. Etc.

          According to the “biography” of Romulus in Plutarch’s histories, “The Parallel Lives”, there was a “natural Romulus”,

          http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Roman/Texts/Plutarch/Lives/Romulus*.html

          But that’s not generally accepted as historical. Or based on an historical individual. Even though Plutarch’s credentials are far more superior to any of the NT authors, as are the other sources far superior for that myth too.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Romulus_and_Remus#Primary_sources

        • I haven’t gone back to look at the comments to his post. Have you?

        • Ignorant Amos

          Yep…and there are a few of the regulars from here giving it large too.

        • Greg G.

          I responded with a TL;DR explanation of the nativity stories to someone who thought the contradictory stories favored a historical Jesus.

    • Sample1

      I do not respect Wm. Lane Craig as a philosopher, because he allows theological commitments to trump conclusions that he would draw through philosophical argument.

      Bingo. This behavior needs a formal fallacy designation. Fallacy of composition, category error?

      Mike, excommunicated

      • Otto

        You were excommunicated?

        I am jealous.

        • Sample1

          I am, and you can be too! The punishment of excommunication latae sententiae is available to all. I procured my own early on by retaining a consecrated host from mass and feeding it to my hamster, or kept it in my pocket (I do not remember).

          But mostly I use the tag line as both a visible reminder for other Catholics who fear the word for themselves (indicating a cultish connection where one cannot truly leave, freely, without consequences) and in solidarity for all those who were persecuted and killed by that institution for thought “crimes.”

          Mike, excommunicated

        • Sample1

          For the full effect, at time 00:11 is how the word sounds to me every time I sign off with it.

          Enjoy: https://youtu.be/xaOERHG7Qr8

          Mike, excommunicated

        • Otto

          It is not just the voice inflection, it is the hand wave too. That is awesome…lol.

          Also I have not seen this movie. It is now on my list.

        • Sample1

          Plus the hushed gasps of the assembled, don’t forget that! Some of the vid comments complain that the vestments are all wrong, in color and parts of the costume. Facepalm.

          Yeah, it’s a great movie that wasn’t well received by some critics, probably because it has an uncommon, emotionally mixed theme for the main character. Don’t want to say too much.

          It’s well made, high budget with A-list actors, including Dustin Hoffman. Based off a German novel that was highly successful, on the best seller list for some nine years. One of my favorite flicks to the last drop.

          Enjoy!
          Edit: some of the lines from that clip are hilarious: “O God, in my most merciful spirit, bring down thunderbolts upon his head and may the devil make soup of his bones!”

          Mike, excommunication! Diabolist, necromancer, carbuncle.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Great movie.

          Some of the vid comments complain that the vestments are all wrong, in color and parts of the costume.

          Because they couldn’t be wrong. Dickheads.

          Costume Designer Pierre-Yves Gayraud spent fifteen weeks researching costumes prior to anything being finalized. In total, over one thousand four hundred costumes were made. After they had been shipped from Bucharest, Romania, the costumes then had to be aged and dirtied, and once they were ready to be worn, Writer and Director Tom Tykwer insisted that the actors and actresses wear them continuously for several days at a time, even to the point of sleeping in them, as this was a common practice in the period, in which this movie is set.

          But the problem for the Catholic geeks is that in the 18th century France, there were no rules of uniformity and Bishops could more or less wear what they wanted, and did. Hard and fast rules of uniformity didn’t come in until Vatican II and even then they get ignored.

        • Sample1

          Didn’t know that. Thanks. Cool you liked the movie. It was so painstakingly crafted. Hardly a scene without artistic merit. Human olfaction doesn’t seem to be an appreciated sense like vision but it’s there, taken for granted. Not as keen as dogs or moths but with mindfulness and training it amazes me, especially its ability to recreate memories. Damn near magical but better.

          We had a sperm whale stranding locally and I had hoped to find some ambergris, enormously expensive vomitus prized by perfumers. Not sure if it’s allowed to be taken in the US because of the marine mammal protection act but I see a musician in Wales, beach combing, found about a pound of the stuff estimated at £200,000! Coincidentally, ambergris used to be a password of mine for disqus with the s as $.

          Mike, ignominious carbuncle, diabolist, vile viper

          Edit done

        • Ignorant Amos

          Human olfaction doesn’t seem to be an appreciated sense like vision but it’s there, taken for granted.

          If I’m to lose one of the big five senses, I think that’s the one, though I’d be far from happy. The compensation level by the other senses intrigues me.

          Not sure if it’s allowed to be taken in the US because of the marine mammal protection act but I see a musician in Wales, beach combing, found about a pound of the stuff estimated at £200,000!

          I wouldn’t think it a problem. Whale vomit being akin to Whale poo…how would finding either on a beach be detrimental the whales?

          Coincidentally, I’m off to Wales in the morning for the weekend. My friends son is getting married. He is a training SNCO at the Officer Training Academy at Sandhurst. Wouldn’t mind finding some Welsh whales vomit in Wales myself.

        • Pofarmer

          funish trivia. My Maternal Grandfather couldn’t smell. Supposedly it also affects sense of taste a lot.

  • Doubting Thomas

    I was waiting for Adam the atheist to tell us how much he hates god because of something bad that happened to him as a child. Then the caricature would be complete.

  • Grimlock

    Craig assured Adam that God is chasing him (in a way that made me wonder if Adam might need a restraining order):

    He is after you and will continue His pursuit until you recognize in Him all that you are longing for.

    Sometimes, it’s a bit disquieting the ways some believers describe their relationship with God. I really wouldn’t accept some of the stuff – such as that quoted above – in one of my personal relationships.

  • Greg G.

    Faith means the will to avoid knowing what is true. –Friederich Nietzsche

    • sandy

      I always think of this quote when I hear people state about themselves or others that”their faith is strong” like it’s a virtue.

  • Michael Newsham

    In Doetevski’s “Demons” (or translated “The Devils” or “The Possessed”) Ivan Shatov is a former Nihilist who has become an ardent self-professed follower of Christ, believer in the role of the Orthodox Church, and supporter of Moscow as the ‘Third Rome’. After making a fervent declaration of this another character sardonically asks him “Have you caught your rabbit yet?” i.e. do you believe in God? He is unable to say he does. So it is possible to profess adherence to all kinds of positions, while still being unable to actually force yourself to believe.

    • Grimlock

      While I don’t necessarily disagree with your point, it’s not very convincing to use a character from a work of fiction to demonstrate its possibility.

  • Phil Rimmer

    I’m frustrated by the numbers of atheists who still lead with religiously derived concepts and seek to adapt them to our actual godless existence.

    Too soon are ideas of virtue ethics and deontology arrived at contrived as primary drivers for social behaviours.

    These (both) are a secondary and subsidiary means of encapsulating the complexities of past, successful moral behaviours into heuristcs like thus and so as modes of behavior in advance of the details of an actual social problem. They may be part of our self rehearsal of those strategies. Most likely they will be contingently adapted.

    But, but, the very start of it all is super simple.

    Morality comprises those thoughts and actions that better facilitate our mutuality.

    What a voyage of discovery that continues to be. How it propels us.

    • Sample1

      I like your definition of morality. There are a few good ones out there.

      David Deutsch takes a sparser route, if not in meaning but number of words: morality is solving moral problems. Physics is solving problems in physics. Math is solving problems in math. And so on. For some reason we don’t typically hear morality simply being that of solving moral problems.

      Mike, excommunicated

      • Phil Rimmer

        Well d’uh.

        And gezernonplatty is solving gezernonplat problems.

        But thanks! Again reposting from elsewhere I got to thinking about moral thoughts and actions and how they might relate to the classical virtues…

        This got me reading and thinking a lot about the four Socratic “Virtues” and the three Christian adders that Thomas Aquinas shoved on the end,

        Wisdom, Justice, Courage, Moderation;

        Faith, Charity and Hope.

        The four are as good a set as any and have far more reach than might appear the case at first glance. I loathe the thinking that Virtue Ethics (centred on a person’s character) is the root of all that is moral, a reductive religious idea, that misapprehends what morality may be and how it became a thing. In fact…

        Morality comprises those thoughts and actions that better facilitate our mutuality.

        No more, no less. It must flow from living with others. Among the actions, necessarily cultural, are those (endless!) Cultural Codifications (and re-codifications) of Wisdom and Justice.

        Among those thoughts, necessarily personal, are our endless rehearsals of our inevitable encounters with those externalities and our desire (if we are moral), more reliably, to enact them. Courage and Moderation as the Personal Virtues in rehearsal of actions, seek to balance confidence and a need to act, with uncertainty. Wisdom grows we see. Justice refines its sensibilities.

        So, what of the trinity of Christian “virtues”? Well it seems to me…

        Faith is for when you fuck up Wisdom.

        Charity is for when you fuck up Justice, and

        Hope is for when you fuck up Everything.

        • Sample1

          Ha, true. I was hesitant to post that bit about Deutsch without context. You got me.

          But the keepable nidus is still in there, the word problem. It would seem all subjects of human interest have them. What to do next? captures human existence in a little question. And knowledge is the antidote to problems. Specifically, knowledge that is hard-to-vary while still explaining the phenomenon of choice.

          Seemingly another d’uh simplification but simplicity turns on understanding the word knowledge when previous inventions for problem solving such as faith, authority and revelation only provided an unreliable and easy-to-vary method for explaining something.

          If you haven’t read Beginning of Infinity, you’re in for a good ride.

          At any rate, your faith, charity, hope observation is t-shirt worthy!

          Mike, excommunicated

  • Alchymist

    If there is a purpose to the world according to the christian viewpoint, then it’s god’s purpose, not ours. As an atheist my life can have whatever purpose I give it, even if the greater universe doesn’t care. As a christian, I could choose to assist god’s purpose or attempt to thwart it, but i would have no purpose myself.