Response to Atheists’ “Five Worst Arguments” (2 of 2)

Response to Atheists’ “Five Worst Arguments” (2 of 2) June 27, 2019

Evangelical blogger John Mark Reynolds is trying to help out atheists with a survey of “The Five Worst ‘Arguments’ (or Claims) Made by Internet Atheists.” It’d just be rude to not open this gift.

Part 1 looked at the first three arguments. Let’s continue to see if these atheist arguments are all that terrible.

Bad argument 4. “Stalin was trained in a seminary and his tyranny was really a religion not True Atheism.” 

Atheism is just one answer (“No”) to one question (“Do you have a god belief?”). So, yeah, you can’t find Stalin’s tyranny in atheism. There is no atheist bible that would guide Stalin’s actions.

Reynolds falls back on his 2015 post that took “Stalin was bad,” combined it with “Stalin was an atheist,” and spun a scary tale to spook the kids at the campfire.

Stalin was an atheist before he was a communist. He found a worldview to fit his atheism. He allowed a “state church” since atheism is so counter-intuitive that even with great persecution, theism kept cropping back up.

Stalin was bad because he was a dictator. Atheism is relevant only because a dictator couldn’t have a competing source of power, the Russian Orthodox Church, second-guessing his orders. Shutting down the church and imposing atheism was a consequence of his being a dictator, not the other way around.

Atheism isn’t at all counterintuitive, but religion thrives in desperate times. That a familiar and comforting religion pops up in a bleak Soviet Union says nothing about religion’s truth value, and if the traditional Russian religion had been something besides Christianity, that would’ve “kept cropping back up” the same way.

Atheism says nothing about morality. Christianity, on the other hand, says a lot about morality, and much of that sucks (more on genocide, the Flood, and slavery).

I rebut Reynolds’ Stalin argument here.

Bad argument 5. “Faith is believing things despite the evidence.”

“There are out of the two billion Christians (not even counting the other theists) surely someone who asserts this.”

I bet more than someone asserts it. The popular book I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist by Norm Geisler and Frank Turek makes clear in its very title that “believing things despite the evidence” is exactly how they’re defining faith. Just in case it wasn’t clear, they say in the book:

The less evidence you have for your position, the more faith you need to believe it (and vice versa). Faith covers a gap in knowledge. (p. 26)

If Reynolds wants to say that Christians using this kind of faith is embarrassing, I get it—it is. But he can’t pretend that it isn’t a widespread idea within Christianity.

Here are a few more examples of this interpretation.

[I don’t understand to believe but rather] I believe to understand. (Anselm of Canterbury)

If all the evidence in the universe turns against creationism, I would be the first to admit it, but I would still be a creationist because that is what the Word of God seems to indicate. (Dr. Kurt Wise, geologist)

Should a conflict arise between the witness of the Holy Spirit to the fundamental truth of the Christian faith and beliefs based on argument and evidence, then it is the former which must take precedence over the latter, not vice versa. (Dr. William Lane Craig, philosopher)

Snake handlers have much of the unevidenced kind of faith. Pastor Jamie Coots died after a snakebite in 2014. If anyone knew that God doesn’t protect believers from snakebite it was him, since that was his ninth snakebite. In the face of this evidence, these Christians maintain faith in the (noncanonical) words of Jesus, “In my name . . . they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all.”

Here’s a final quote, this time from Reynolds himself:

Almost all the world’s Christians will use the world “faith,” but they have varied understandings of what “good faith” would be. . . . When Soren Kierkegaard uses “faith,” the term is different in important ways than when Saint Thomas Aquinas uses it.

Returning to Reynolds’ quote above, yeah, I guess someone thinks that “faith is believing things despite the evidence.” If Reynolds is frustrated by the various ways evidence and faith fit together, I suggest using “trust” to mean belief well supported by evidence and leave “faith” for the fuzzier version.

Reynolds says that he’s annoyed when atheists tell him what he means by faith, and I see the problem. Important words like “faith” often have multiple meanings, so we should make sure we’re not talking past each other.

6. “Bonus: Jesus did not (or probably did not) exist.”

“This is so foolish, I have never met more than one relevantly trained atheist who believed it.”

You need to get out more. I’ve met two, Dr. Richard Carrier (doctorate in history) and Dr. Robert M. Price (two doctorates: one in Systematic Theology and another in New Testament).

I’m not well read on the historical Jesus issue and so don’t make this argument, but I also avoid it because it’s tangential. There are much simpler and more effective attacks on Christianity.

Some religions start with real people who actually lived (Joseph Smith for Mormonism, Mary Baker Eddy for Christian Science, Bahá’u’lláh for Bahá’í), and some may not have (Buddha for Buddhism, Lao Tzu for Taoism, Zoroaster for Zoroastrianism). “Jesus was just a myth” is hardly a radical claim. Said another way, providing overwhelming evidence that Jesus was historical would be a difficult challenge.

If having good historical foundation at the birth of a religion is important, I’m surprised that Mormonism isn’t more attractive to evangelicals like Reynolds. No one doubts that Joseph Smith existed. We have a painting of him and might even have photos. And every historical argument Christians make about the New Testament (lots of manuscripts, short time from event to autograph, short time between autograph and best copies) has a much stronger equivalent within Mormonism. If they value historical grounding as much as they say they do, these Christians should become Mormon.

Agreements

Reynolds is right that some atheist arguments are poorly framed or thought out. I’ll summarize these six arguments and try to highlight points of agreement.

  1. The church had enormous power in Europe for 1500 years, and yet this was a period during which social conditions regressed before progress returned. Since God promised bounty on those who followed him, what we should’ve seen instead was Europe making remarkable, unexplainable (from natural means) growth to a universally healthy and prosperous society. What we saw instead was natural growing pains in a society handicapped by wars, famine, and disease.
  2. I agree that we should confidently comment only on those things we have competence in. Nevertheless, Plantinga’s modal ontological argument was a bad example. That argument doesn’t point to a God, and Plantinga himself admits it. Reynolds’ rejection of evolution undercuts his demand that we rely on competent experts.
  3. Science delivers. Philosophers who pretend to be scientists add nothing.
  4. Yes, Stalin was a bad man. No, atheism didn’t drive his ruthless policies. Atheism was a consequence of his being a dictator, not the other way around.
  5. Faith defined as “believing things despite the evidence” is a perfectly good definition and is widely held within Christianity. If you want faith to mean trust, I suggest you start using “trust.”
  6. The Jesus-was-a-myth argument is widely rejected by New Testament scholars. I don’t use it, partly for that reason, but also because it’s a tangent.
In response to my quoting the Bible, I got
“You shouldn’t quote the Bible unless you read it every day.”
I resisted the temptation to respond,
“Does it change that often?!”
— seen on the internet (paraphrased)

.

Image from Simone Berna, CC license
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  • JustAnotherAtheist2

    Given the ubiquity of responses like, “you just have to have faith, I guess” is it any wonder people interpret the word in some contexts as meaning belief despite insufficient justification?

    • That’s how the Hebrew writer defines it! Speaking of eternal reward in Heaven, which no one had seen, the writer says “faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” In other words, faith is a substitute for substance and evidence. It’s the reason a person would believe there’s such thing as eternity, and eternal reward, when there’s nothing tangible to support (or even hint at) that such an existence.

      • abb3w

        That’s how the Hebrew writer defines it! Speaking of eternal reward in Heaven, which no one had seen, the writer says “faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” In other words, faith is a for substance and evidence.

        Compare the definition of “inferred justification” given in "There Must Be a Reason”: Osama, Saddam, and Inferred Justification by Prasad et alia.

  • ThaneOfDrones

    Stalin was an atheist before he was a communist.

    So what? Does blame get assigned chronologically?

    • I think he’s trying to suggest cause and effect. It’s not that he was a communist and (since everyone knows that communists have to be atheists) then became an atheist. It was the other way around. That is, it was the atheism leading the parade, not the communism.

      Which doesn’t get past the little problem of atheism having no policies or dogmas.

      • NS Alito

        And Stalin didn’t embrace Communism anyway. Stalinism, IIRC, was serfdom imposed from the top, with him calling all of the shots.

  • ThaneOfDrones

    Some religions start with real people who actually lived (Joseph Smith for Mormonism, Mary Baker Eddy for Christian Science, Bahá’u’lláh for Bahá’í)

    Where the comparison fails: Those “real people who actually lived” wrote books. We know that those books exist, and were written by someone. JHC did not write any books. He appeared as a character in books written by others. So it would be more appropriate to compare JHC the the angel Moroni than to Joseph Smith.

    • Pofarmer

      I really think it’s more apropos to compare Jesus to Rhett Butler, or Jack Ryan.

  • RichardSRussell

    Theists try to pull the ole switcheroo all the time when it comes to what faith means. I dissect their duplicity as I lay out the 8 methods of “How We Decide” in the 3-part essay that begins here:
    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/2016/10/how-we-decide-an-analysis-of-an-essential-process-we-take-for-granted-decisions/

    You will perhaps not be at all surprised to discover that faith, clearly defined and not masquerading as something else, is at the rock bottom of the heap, as laid out in detail in Part 3 of that analysis.

  • ThaneOfDrones

    I do not make the Jesus myth argument, but I am sympathetic to it. A large majority of scholars accept the historical existence of Jesus H. Christ, but when you ask to see the evidence for it, it is truly underwhelming.

    • larry parker

      I think there was probably some preacher named Jesus (or maybe his name was Bob) that the stories are loosely based on. Just like there was probably an adventurous lumberjack(s) that formed the basis of the Paul Bunyan stories.

      • Michael Neville

        some preacher named Jesus (or maybe his name was Bob)

        I’ve always wondered how a Middle Eastern Jew had a Hispanic first name

        Seriously, I’m willing to accept that an itinerant preacher named Yesua bar Yosef was wandering around Palestine in the first part of the 1st Century. But I need more than the Bible to convince me that the miracle working Son o’ Gawd called Jesus existed.

        • Kodie

          I’m willing to believe it, but not willing to settle on it once and for all. Lots of people really exist NOW, and fiction writers use prototypes and composites of people they know. Maybe there was a miracle son of god and they changed his name to something they thought was more impressive, or embellished the details on some really popular cult leader, because they were in his cult! The name itself sounds like it could be pretty ordinary or what an author would name such a character. I don’t care either way if THE Jesus really existed, because, like I said, lots of people really existed. That doesn’t make any of them magical sons of god.

        • Michael Neville

          Hi Kodie.

      • I Came To Bring The Paine

        There was probably some photographer named Peter Parker who lived in New York City that formed the basis of the Spider-Man stories.

        • hrurahaalm

          >There was probably some photographer named Peter Parker

          >who lived in New York City

          >that formed the basis of the Spider-Man stories.

          Two out of three ain’t bad.

      • Jesus (or maybe his name was Bob)

        I think Bob was his middle name. (Or was it Danger?)

        there was probably an adventurous lumberjack(s) that formed the basis of the Paul Bunyan stories.

        The story of Paul Bunyan seems to better parallel the story of Santa Claus in that there is a lot of commercialization and little history behind each. A better example might be John Henry, who it seems really existed.

        • larry parker

          Saint Nicholas, although that may be christian “history”.

        • larry parker

          I also found this (from Wikipedia):
          “Paul Bunyan is a giant lumberjack in American folklore.[2][3] His exploits revolve around the tall tales of his superhuman labors,[4][5] and he is customarily accompanied by Babe the Blue Ox. The character originated in the oral tradition of North American loggers,[2][3][4][5] and was later popularized by freelance writer William B. Laughead (1882–1958) in a 1916 promotional pamphlet for the Red River Lumber Company.”

        • hrurahaalm

          Ha. Mythicism or historicity of Jesus makes little difference to atheism, I’d say. However, there’s a related point that may conceivably matter:

          Early Christians never seemed to claim that anyone met Jesus on the street after his supposed execution. Rather, they seemed to assume that religious knowledge and authority came through visions. Paul, the earliest Christian writer whose work we (may) have in the original form, explicitly talked about people being caught up to the Third Heaven. At no point does he talk about people learning from Jesus on Earth, unless you count the instruction to keep the Eucharist; at no point does he make any concession to the idea that teachings passed down from Jesus have more authority than visions.

        • Pofarmer

          The instruction about the Eucharist is almost certainly an interpolation.

        • Didn’t he hang around for 40 days to teach in Acts 1?

        • hrurahaalm

          The Book of Acts, fun fact, is typically dated to ten or twenty years after the war in Jerusalem which destroyed the Temple there. We do not know of a single Church leader from the early years who was definitely still alive after the war.

        • ThaneOfDrones

          RE Paul Bunyan: there is an interesting detail in that some historians think he is based on a real person… who was not named Paul Bunyan. When I suggested a similar thing in a historical Jesus thread, I was scoffed at.

      • Jim Jones

        See pocm.info

      • Greg G.

        There were lots of dudes name Jesus walking around the region in the first century. But the early epistles are not about any of them. They only refer to Jesus in terms of the Old Testament. Gospel Jesus is about that Epistle Jesus, not a first century dude.

      • ThaneOfDrones

        I think there was probably…

        I’m not really interested in what you think. I am interested in the evidence and arguments you can muster to support it.

        • larry parker

          Pardon me.

        • Illithid

          I like Hitchins’ take on this question. If Jesus was completely fictitious, there would have been no need for the transparently fabricated birth narratives explaining how “Jesus of Nazareth” was born in Bethlehem as the Messianic prophesies required. He would have just been said to have been from Bethlehem.

          The Jesus of the Gospels may well have been based on more than one roving preacher. The name might even havd been made up or assumed, since it’s the same as “Joshua” (I’ve read). Haven’t looked into it in much detail because the existence of a guy named Jesus is fairly irrelevant to me.

        • Greg G.

          I like Hitchins’ take on this question. If Jesus was completely fictitious, there would have been no need for the transparently fabricated birth narratives explaining how “Jesus of Nazareth” was born in Bethlehem as the Messianic prophesies required. He would have just been said to have been from Bethlehem.

          The Matthew birth narrative seems to be based on the Moses birth narrative, not from Exodus, but from Josephus’ Antiquities of the Jews 2.9.2-4, 3.63, 3.6.6, 3.10.7, 17.2.4, 17.11.4, and 17.8.1. Herod’s motives for the killing of male babies are more like the pharaoh’s in AJ than in Exodus. Exodus doesn’t have warnings in dreams but AJ does.

          Luke seems to have rejected Matthew’s version and turned to the census at the beginning of Antiquities of the Jews 18. That puts both no earlier than the end of the first century.

          Perhaps the birth narratives were written to answer the conundrum post by the Gospel of John:

          John 7:40-42 (NRSV)40 When they heard these words, some in the crowd said, “This is really the prophet.” 41 Others said, “This is the Messiah.” But some asked, “Surely the Messiah does not come from Galilee, does he? 42 Has not the scripture said that the Messiah is descended from David and comes from Bethlehem, the village where David lived?”

          That wouldn’t make sense if Matthew and Luke had already solved the issue.

          Luke may have rejected Matthew’s birth narrative simply because of the baby killing. Matthew’s genealogy makes a big deal about the three sets of fourteen generations, but he omitted four generations from the Old Testament for the second set while the third set has only thirteen names unless the Exile is counted as a generation so Luke had good reason to reject Matthew’s genealogy.

          Luke 2:42-52 is the story of Jesus teaching at the temple when he was 12. This story is remarkably like the story from Josephus’ Life 2 where he says he used to talk with the men at the temple when he was 14.

        • Pofarmer

          If Jesus was completely fictitious, there would have been no need for
          the transparently fabricated birth narratives explaining how “Jesus of
          Nazareth” was born in Bethlehem as the Messianic prophesies required. He
          would have just been said to have been from Bethlehem.

          The problem arises when you realize that there were mulitiple competing prophecies. The Messiah was supposed to be a “Nazarene” from the House of David “Bethlehem” and come out of “Egypt.” Which also get’s worked in. It’s ALL based on OT fiction.

      • Jim Baerg
    • It does seem to be a “the lady doth protest too much” problem. They come back at you like a sledgehammer, amazed that you could be so insanely dense to actually go against the consensus view of NT scholars (and blah blah blah). What they don’t come back at you with is an argument.

      • Jim Jones

        ISTM that there is better evidence for Robin Hood.

        • All that supernatural stuff surrounding the Jesus story makes me wonder if that makes it inherently less plausible. There’s nothing supernatural around the Robin Hood story. Or William Tell, or John Henry, or King Arthur (ignoring the Merlin bit). And if there is, the story survives after you remove the supernatural. In the case of Jesus, nothing remains if you remove the supernatural stuff.

        • Jim Jones

          Jesus is more like Moroni or Xenu.

        • Michael Murray

          Like Jesus Warrior Princess ? Oh no that is Xena. Might raise attendance at Church though.

        • Pofarmer

          There was all kinds of supernatural stuff around, say, Alexander the Great, or say, Nero, or some of the Ceasars. I think that was pretty common in the day. That doesn’t make me wonder. What makes me wonder is all the stuff that ought to be there from an historical person that, ya know, isn’t, and all the stuff that we would expect from historical fiction, that, well, is.

      • Michael Neville

        I know you’ve discussed this, but the consensus of NT scholars doesn’t mean much since the majority of them are Christians. It’s expected that a Christian will believe that Jesus Harold Christ, the Son o’ Gawd described in the NT that these scholars study so diligently, existed.

        • More relevant would be to ask the consensus of religious scholars … but of course that would be a trick question since there is no consensus.

      • epicurus

        I generally like Ehrman’s work, but his book trying to show Jesus existed was truly underwhelming for me, even though I’m neutral on the issue.

        • That’s my feeling as well. Carrier and Price seemed to think that he farmed out too much to his grad students.

        • Greg G.

          I was questioning whether Jesus existed and was aware of the evidence but I thought the experts had some way to be sure of it. I figured Ehrman would present that argument in DJE?

          He gave a list of independent gospel sources: Mark, Q, M, L, sayings source, passion narratives, and protoThomas. How would he know that they are independent? The only one that actually exists as evidence is Mark. The other six documents are assumed to have existed based on the assumption that there was a real Jesus and the other six documents were written about him.

          I gave in to being a mythicist because of those unfulfilling arguments.

        • epicurus

          Yeah, Ehrman seemed to use many of the arguments or forms of arguments that he rejects when apologists use them to attempt to prove the resurrection. I remember thinking that could come back to haunt him if he ever debated someone like WLC, who tends to research beforehand people he debates. I took the book out of the library but did not take notes and it was many years ago so unfortunately I can’t give any concrete examples.

    • democommiescrazierbrother

      I would bet that a lot, if not most, of those scholars that accept the historical evidence have sound reasons for not wanting to say what they really think.

      I may well be wrong, but I think that anyone who is a serious scholar must have some factual basis for things that are not purely subjective–beauty and art, to think of a pair. Physcial Science is just a lot less forgiving of arguments from authority whereas Christian Science depends on them.

  • eric

    #4 is really a reach. I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone try a “reverse Stalin” and claim that his bad behavior + religious training = Christianity is wrong. At best, citing examples like Torquemada is relevant to a somewhat narrow set of Christians who try to claim that accepting Christ alters your behavior for the better. And those folks typically resort to No True Scotsman defenses anyway, so the exercise is kind of pointless. So I’d say that his #4 is really just pointless; it’s not an argument of much relevance for either theists or atheists.

    #5 is much more common, as Bob says both on the Christian side of citing faith as a justification for belief and on the atheist side of stating that it’s an inadequate foundation. I’d personally call this one a good, conditional argument. It’s good because I think the atheist response is credible. It’s conditional because it only applies to a subset of apologetics and believers. But given that the subset is probably pretty large, I don’t see how it’s “stupid” to tackle it. There is no argument that sweeps in all possible types of belief; every atheist argument is likely to only be a response to some believer claims, purely due to the fact that believer claims are so varied. This one responds to some believer claims, but not Mr. Reynolds’. So be it.

    #6…meh. I’ll let the history scholars hash this one out. My own personal feeling is that atheism is going after much bigger fish – theism in all its forms. It’s not just a reply to the Jesus claims, but also the Muhammed claims, Buddhism claims, Vishnu claims, etc. ‘Show evidence of your miraculous claims’ is a much broader argument, for which the Jesus/New Testament case is merely one instantiation.

    • Yeah–Jesus as a real man or not doesn’t change things for me. Nevertheless, some of the more erudite commenters here have studied it (Greg G comes to mind), and I find their comments quite interesting.

  • Polytropos

    Bad argument 4. “Stalin was trained in a seminary and his tyranny was really a religion not True Atheism.”

    Right, and I suppose the Conquistadors were just misunderstood. But all this stuff about dictators is a big red herring. Stalin was not bad because of his religious beliefs, he was bad because he was a totalitarian dictator. Totalitarianism is a completely different phenomenon from religion.

    Bad argument 5. “Faith is believing things despite the evidence.”

    Another instance of “I don’t like it, therefore it’s wrong”. If faith was really based on evidence none of us would be here having this discussion in the first place. I can understand why Reynolds gets annoyed when atheists tell him what he means by “faith”, but the Christian faith means believing in events like the resurrection, virgin birth, miracles, and so on, for which there is no evidence and which contradict everything we know about how the universe works. None of this is compatible with reason or science.

    6. “Bonus: Jesus did not (or probably did not) exist.”

    Reynolds bl&#8203ows this one off as if it’s not even worth considering, but there are well researched, credible mythicist hypotheses out there. And while Reynolds implies scholars are sure Jesus existed it’s probably more accurate to say that most scholars think one or more real people inspired the stories about Jesus. This is a very different thing from saying the gospels are true and reliable narratives about an actual deity.

  • I agree that we should confidently comment only on those things we have competence in

    Pity so many Fundies ignore that part, and keep sprouting PRATTs ’bout science being absolutely clueless about it.

  • Michael Neville

    5. “Faith is believing things despite the evidence.”

    I have a great deal of difficulty with a creationist whining about faith vs evidence.

    • Wisdom, Justice, Love

      Yeah. Ignoring evidence to the contrary doesn’t mean this is no evidence in support of your belief

      • democommiescrazierbrother

        To paraphrase the DorkLord Cheney’s Pitbull, Donnie Rumfilth:

        “Absence of your belief in evidentiary fact doesn’t ‘unfact’ it.”

        • Wisdom, Justice, Love

          Ah yes.
          The known knowns and known unknowns, but those unknown unknowns, they can getcha.
          Can’t forget his graphics of the advanced bunkers in the mountains of Afghanistan, that are just east, west, north and south of there.
          Good times.

          And you may ask yourself; well, how did I get here?

        • democommiescrazierbrother

          Well, I never had a beautiful wife (is there another sort?) so, no worries, there!

        • al kimeea

          partly due to Colin Powell being at the wheel of a large dog and pony show…

        • Wisdom, Justice, Love

          He and Rummy were always at odds on policy. You break it you buy it. He tried warning them. And quite frankly was the only legitimate appointment that gave W’s administration the hint of competency.

          And Rummy, Darth Cheney and the gang had been working that plan since Nixon.

        • al kimeea

          the presentation Powell gave was laughable, the invasion, criminal

          when anyone mentions the “Deep State”, it’s people like Rummy & Cheney that come to mind

        • Wisdom, Justice, Love

          Yeah, Powell “took one for the team”. And yes The Invasion was a smash-n-grab by the Neo-Confederates.

          Deep State is another projection. When QAnon announces the Mass Arrests™ (any day now…), they will reminisce on when Obama was going to imprission them all, and lock up Jade Helm with the Birth Certificate and the Poor Children of the sex slave colony in the Pizza restaurant basement on Mars.

          This has been a long time coming. This may get a rise out of some, but if you’re interested look up a person named:
          Leo Strauss

          I think lot’s of Straussian philosophy got us here.
          https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0430484/

        • al kimeea

          Ah ya, Leo Strauss. U of Chicago? Ran across his name some years ago. I have seen that series, also a while back. Yes, make them afraid, that there’s a crisis in say, education. Then implement changes at will. As per a Minister of Education:

          “Shortly after his appointment, Snobelen was filmed arguing that the PC government (Ontario) needs to “bankrupt” and to create a “useful crisis” in the education system so as to initiate significant reforms.” – from Wiki

          Everybody’s afraid of WMDs, especially in Iraq. Not happy Canada played the good, wee vassal, and helped free up troops for that mess.

        • Michael Neville

          There’s Philip K. Dick’s comment: “Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away.”

        • democommiescrazierbrother

          I LIKE it!

        • Michael Neville

          Me too.

  • Thanks for the vocabulary-building comment.

    • abb3w

      If you’re referring to Münchhausen, you might find the Terry Gilliam movie fun.

      If you’re referring to Sensism… well, that seems most useful as a cautionary tale.

      • The former. I can imagine a lot more being said about that. Thanks for the “The Adventures of Baron Munchausen” film suggestion.

        • abb3w

          The former. I can imagine a lot more being said about that.

          Yeah. I think increasing atheists’ familiarity with the trilemma might do a lot to further discussion of “faith” with the religious — in particular, increasing recognition that some level of “faith” is required for any non-vacuous philosophy, albeit perhaps one infinitesimal.

          Project Gutenberg has the original book, but it does not seem to have aged quite as well as (say) Gulliver’s Travels; and the tie of the name to philosophy is a 20th century development.

  • Jim Jones

    > Stalin was an atheist before he was a communist.

    Unless you are the lead dog on the dog sled team, the view never changes. Stalin wanted a better view. He wanted to become the Czar.

    He did, using religion as his tool. Communism is just another religion, and one he followed in name only.

  • JBSchmidt

    4) Are you defending Stalin from the attacks of the Christian? Under Stalin rule, nearly 1000 people per day were executed between 1937-38, alone. Sure, they were political dissidents, but that was the morality of the Stalin regime. Stalin’s worldview was one of atheism/naturalism born from science claiming there is no god. As such, with no objective morality, Stalin could do anything, like killing 85,000 priests. Further, if objective morality doesn’t exist, you should defend him as who are we to judge his actions.

    5) Frank Turek either changed his mind or you misquoted him, but in 2/26/16 his blog gave Reynolds description of faith.

    I would be interested to see the context for Anselm’s quote. During that time and thru Christians today, they use their believe in God as the basis for exploring the world. That God has created an ordered world for man to reason through. I could be wrong, but understanding the context would be helpful.

    Craig’s quote is taken out of context and doesn’t imply as you wish.

    I would also be interested to see the context of the Wise quote. As I have pointed out in previous blogs, you will take statements and misrepresent them.

    Bonus) “I’m not well read on the historical Jesus issue and so don’t make this argument, but I also avoid it because it’s tangential.”

    Followed by making the argument.

    Agreements) Is this how you discuss with people in your day to day life? Discuss extensively about how ignorant they are on the topic(s). Then return to each point, claim some common ground, only rehash why they are ignorant.

    Who discusses like this?

    • eric

      Stalin’s worldview was one of atheism/naturalism born from science claiming there is no god. As such, with no objective morality, Stalin could do anything,

      zzzzz…this again. Do you guys ever tire of being demonstrably wrong? There is no correlation between atheism and higher crime or less prosocial behavior. None. Whatever sociopathic behavior you think atheism should lead to, it doesn’t. Your belief conflicts with reality, with the actual behavior of actual people. The smart person in that position rethinks their belief. For completeness, there is no correlation between Christian belief and higher – or lower – crime either. Statistically, people who think morality is subjective and people who believe morality is objective behave pretty much the same. They stop to help strangers the same amount. They cheat on their spouses the same amount. Your belief does not increase good behavior, and our belief doesn’t decrease it.

      Further, if objective morality doesn’t exist, you should defend him as who are we to judge his actions.

      You’ve got it exactly backwards. If morality is subjective and there is no God, then humans are the only agents that can judge his behavior. We are the right and only judges. OTOH if God exists and morality is objective, then we are NOT the correct judge, and you shouldn’t be judging Stalin’s actions. You’ve been given your orders:
      “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned.” Luke 6:37 (and Matthew 7)
      “When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”” John 8:7
      “There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you—who are you to judge your neighbor?” James 4:12
      And so on, and so on. The bible tells you over and over again not to judge other humans, that that’s God’s job, not yours. So under your objective morality, it is a sin for you to judge Stalin. Could YOU cast the first stone against him? No, you couldn’t. OTOH, under my morality, it’s perfectly – albeit subjectively – moral behavior for me to judge him.

      • epicurus

        And shouldn’t countries with very low levels of religion like the Nordic countries be awful hell holes where you can’t even walk down the street without getting getting killed or assaulted? Yet they are safer than religious ones like the US.

      • Doubting Thomas

        OTOH if God exists and morality is objective

        I don’t see how the existence of god would make morality objective.

        • Susan

          I don’t see how the existence of god would make morality objective.

          It doesn’t.

          They never show that it does.

    • Pofarmer

      Ever heard of the Albigensian crusade? Or the 30 years war?

      • Michael Neville

        Or the Inquisition? Or auto-de-fe?

        • Pofarmer

          And the Inquisition is another good example, because the mere existence of it would serve to keep the population in line. You don’t need to torture everyone if the threat is real and demonstrates.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          “Let them h‌ate, as long as they fear…”

          Dunno who said it, but seems to fit here.

        • Michael Neville

          The Roman playwright Lucius Accius (170 – c. 86 BCE) had the line oderint dum metuant (let them hate, so long as they fear) in one of his plays. The Roman emperor Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus Germanicus, better known as Caligula, (12 – 41 CE) was fond of quoting the line.

    • 4) Are you defending Stalin from the attacks of the Christian?

      Obviously not. (Well, obvious to almost everyone.)

      Under Stalin rule, nearly 1000 people per day were executed between 1937-38, alone.

      He was a bad man. You’ve convinced me.

      Stalin’s worldview was one of atheism/naturalism born from science claiming there is no god.

      So the real driver of everything was atheism? Not his wanting to be a dictator? You’ll have to explain that to me.

      As such, with no objective morality

      Objective morality? I’ve seen no evidence of such a thing. Provide some.

      if objective morality doesn’t exist, you should defend him as who are we to judge his actions.

      That doesn’t follow. I happily will judge someone else’s moral actions.

      But it’s adorable when you try to cobble together a logical argument.

      5) Frank Turek either changed his mind or you misquoted him

      Other possibilities come to mind, but I didn’t misquote him:
      https://books.google.com/books?id=3zrgdXIeRtwC&pg=PR37&lpg=PR37&dq=%22The+less+evidence+you+have+for+your+position,+the+more+faith+you+need+to+believe+it+(and+vice+versa).+Faith+covers+a+gap+in+knowledge.%22&source=bl&ots=UzEnkVtJUw&sig=ACfU3U0_68Qtv3551wOOx1qyuOiJMHfhaQ&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjJrv6-sIvjAhVyLH0KHcSHAkAQ6AEwAnoECBkQAQ#v=onepage&q=%22The%20less%20evidence%20you%20have%20for%20your%20position%2C%20the%20more%20faith%20you%20need%20to%20believe%20it%20(and%20vice%20versa).%20Faith%20covers%20a%20gap%20in%20knowledge.%22&f=false

      Craig’s quote is taken out of context and doesn’t imply as you wish.

      Expand on your point. Looks in context to me.

      I would also be interested to see the context of the Wise quote. As I have pointed out in previous blogs, you will take statements and misrepresent them.

      I’m tired of homework assignments. Look it up yourself.

      I’ve seen zero evidence that I misrepresent people that I quote. Defend your statement.

      Who discusses like this?

      Yeah, maybe I should deny all common ground next time. Easier.

      • JBSchmidt

        -“I happily will judge someone else’s moral actions.”
        By what authority can you judge Stalin’s actions? In the absence of objective morality, his life is as moral as yours. His conclusions came to him through the natural processes as yours. But now your natural processes were more moral?

        -“Other possibilities come to mind, but I didn’t misquote him:”
        Correct you did not misquote him; however as usual you take the quote out of context. It does not mean as you claimed. You said, “Norm Geisler and Frank Turek makes clear in its very title that “believing things despite the evidence” is exactly how they’re defining faith.”. This is a false statement, they were not defining faith. They were drawing a comparison between Christian faith and the faith of the atheist. The phrase “despite the evidence”, is not found..

        -“Expand on your point. Looks in context to me.”
        The portion of the book you are quoting from is in regards to conversion and whether it is best to use the Bible or apologetics from sources outside the Bible. It states nothing about a definition of faith or that your faith must take precedents over evidence. When witnessing to someone in a conversation, remember not to let the external sources of evidence take precedent over the Word of God.

        -“I’ve seen zero evidence that I misrepresent people that I quote. Defend your statement.”
        I am about to go three for three.

        I did a little more digging on the Anselm quote. Funny thing, I am right again. Here is the entire quote:

        ‘For I do not seek to understand in order that I may believe, but I believe in order to understand. For this also I believe-that unless I believe I shall not understand.’

        Notice the second sentence, fits exactly as I said. It is his belief that fosters his desire for knowledge. To further bolster my argument Anselm says, ‘Hence, we do not reflect in order that we may believe; on the contrary, we believe in order that we may arrive at knowledge.’

        -“I’m tired of homework”
        Not sure how this is possible, you didn’t actually do any. My guess is you lifted those quotes off other blogs that claimed to have done the homework. You got lucky on one with Dr. Wise. Would you let your children be honest only 25% of the time?

        -“maybe I should deny all common ground next time.”
        You did. That’s my point.

        • Ah, JB, my little ray of bitter sunshine (to quote Scott Adams). How nice to get another thoughtful and generous epistle from you.

          “I happily will judge someone else’s moral actions.”
          By what authority can you judge Stalin’s actions?

          That’s cute. You seem to imagine that you have some different way to judge than I do. Of course, you’ll say that you’re following God’s judgements, but then we’re back at square 1 with you making a nutty claim with zero evidence.

          When I say “that’s wrong,” I’m obviously saying, “that’s wrong from Bob’s platform” or “that’s wrong in Bob’s opinion.” The buck stops here.

          In the absence of objective morality, his life is as moral as yours.

          Wrong again. Show me the objectiveness in the definition of “morality.” The dictionary is your friend. Morality works without any appeal to objective grounding.

          But now your natural processes were more moral?

          They are, in my opinion.

          This is a false statement, they were not defining faith. They were drawing a comparison between Christian faith and the faith of the atheist. The phrase “despite the evidence”, is not found..

          No need. They say: “The less evidence you have for your position, the more faith you need to believe it (and vice versa). Faith covers a gap in knowledge.” Sounds like a definition of faith to me.

          QED.

          Notice the second sentence, fits exactly as I said. It is his belief that fosters his desire for knowledge.

          Belief comes first. Yeah, I get it. That’s precisely opposite of how science works. They follow the evidence and then come to a conclusion.

          Not sure how this is possible, you didn’t actually do any.

          You accused me of misquoting Turek, and (even though I had the title of the book and page number in the post) I showed you were wrong. That’s enough homework.

          My guess is you lifted those quotes off other blogs that claimed to have done the homework.

          For your next trick, accuse me of copying the entire blog post from someone else.

        • JBSchmidt

          “When I say “that’s wrong,” I’m obviously saying, “that’s wrong from Bob’s platform” or “that’s wrong in Bob’s opinion.” The buck stops here.”

          Cop out. That statement means nothing. In fact, by that standard, Reynolds is equally correct in his view..

          “Show me the objectiveness in the definition of “morality.””

          Morality assumes a good/bad behavior exists. If everything is subjective, all actions should exist on an equal plain. Maybe one of your neurons fire making you cringe at murder, but if another’s neurons fired in the oppostie, enjoying murder, they are no less right or wrong. Using you standard.

          “Sounds like a definition of faith to me.”

          Correct, if you close your eyes to the rest of the paragraph it says exactly what you want. You said in your response, “Belief comes first.”. I will take that as your statement on how science is done. I am quoting you and by your standard that quote is accurate.

          “That’s precisely opposite of how science works. They follow the evidence and then come to a conclusion.”

          Not true, you have to believe the evidence leads somewhere to engage in science. Evidence is nothing without belief of next steps Science has both followed false evidence on belief and overlooked correct evidence on belief.

          “That’s enough homework.”

          You have no idea what Turek was talking about in that quote. You did nothing but a google search. As I pointed out, the quote is correct, but you have chosen to falsely represent it.

          “accuse me of copying the entire blog post from someone else.”

          You did a couple of blogs ago when entire sections were lifted from an article. #homework.

        • Greg G.

          Cop out. That statement means nothing. In fact, by that standard, Reynolds is equally correct in his view..

          In Reynolds mind, he is correct and Bob is not. In Bob’s mind, Bob is correct and Reynolds is not. Pretending to have an objective morality is not the same as having an objective morality.

          If a morality were objective, it would not have loopholes. If Christianity were true, it would be a great, big loophole regarding morality.

          How do we determine what is objectively moral and what is not? The Old Testament tells us that eating pork and shellfish is immoral. The New Testament says the food laws are abrogated. If the Bible is the word of God, was God lying about that in the Old Testament or lying in the New Testament? How can you trust either knowing that the books of the Bible are written for different people, using subjective morality?

          Not true, you have to believe the evidence leads somewhere to engage in science. Evidence is nothing without belief of next steps

          If your religion is bad-mouthing science, there is a very good chance that your religion is lying.

          Research is the process of going up alleys to see if they are blind. –Marston Bates, The Nature Of Natural History

          If a researcher knew which lines of research would be fruitful, they wouldn’t need to do research.

          Science has both followed false evidence on belief and overlooked correct evidence on belief.

          Of course! How do we know this? It is because science is self-correcting!

        • MR

          At its root, morality is the judgement of something that takes place in the individual’s mind and then the collective conversation that we have about whether certain actions are acceptable in society. Of course it’s subjective.

        • Pofarmer

          Morality assumes a good/bad behavior exists.

          Morality isn’t a “thing”. Morality is a concept based on human experience.

          If everything is
          subjective, all actions should exist on an equal plain.

          Is moral behavior the same for chimpanzee’s as it is for humans? How about dogs? Field Shrews?

          Maybe one of
          your neurons fire making you cringe at murder, but if another’s neurons
          fired in the oppostie, enjoying murder, they are no less right or wrong.
          Using you standard.

          This is why we say that morality is “intersubjective”, ie, it’s widely agreed to by groups. Different groups have different ideas about morality. This should be obvious.

          And I noticed, you never commented about the morality of the Albigensian crusade.

        • “When I say “that’s wrong,” I’m obviously saying, “that’s wrong from Bob’s platform” or “that’s wrong in Bob’s opinion.” The buck stops here.”
          Cop out. That statement means nothing.

          Which gets us nowhere. Maybe you should show us how your “that’s wrong” is different from mine.

          In fact, by that standard, Reynolds is equally correct in his view.

          He’s equally entitled to his opinion and to expressing it. But when his moral opinion differs from mine, I think he’s wrong on every single count.

          You’re telling me that you do morality differently?

          “Show me the objectiveness in the definition of “morality.””
          Morality assumes a good/bad behavior exists. If everything is subjective, all actions should exist on an equal plain. Maybe one of your neurons fire making you cringe at murder, but if another’s neurons fired in the oppostie, enjoying murder, they are no less right or wrong.

          From an objective standpoint, yes. Now show me that objective morality exists. I’ve seen zero evidence. I’m pretty sure you have none.

          Suggestion: start by looking up “morality” in the dictionary to see if there’s any objective anything there.

          “That’s precisely opposite of how science works. They follow the evidence and then come to a conclusion.”
          Not true, you have to believe the evidence leads somewhere to engage in science.

          Uh . . . yeah, I guess if you don’t believe that science works, you probably shouldn’t do science. Or something. Thanks for that insight.

          “That’s enough homework.”
          You have no idea what Turek was talking about in that quote.

          I read his fucking book. I quoted it in the post, with the page number. And then, after you accused me of misquoting him, I found that page online.

          Nope, I didn’t misquote him. You were wrong. Maybe be a little more cautious next time about accusing people? Then you wouldn’t have a steaming turd on the table that you’d have to deny was yours.

          “accuse me of copying the entire blog post from someone else.”
          You did a couple of blogs ago when entire sections were lifted from an article. #homework.

          #citationneeded

        • Otto

          You’re telling me that you do morality differently?

          Of course he does it differently. He comes to a personal opinion about the god he thinks is in charge and then follows what other people’s opinions are about what that god thinks is (and is not) moral.

          That is completely objective…no?

        • Greg G.

          Not sure how this is possible, you didn’t actually do any. My guess is you lifted those quotes off other blogs that claimed to have done the homework. You got lucky on one with Dr. Wise. Would you let your children be honest only 25% of the time?

          First you accuse him of misquoting Turek. Then you say that Bob lifted it from another site. Bob does take things from other sites but he tells the reader that he did and provides the link. If he had done that here, why would he not just provide the link?

          Try addressing the argument Bob presents instead of taking such a low road.

          PS: I just Googled the quote. It is all over the internet. Why didn’t you just do that before you accused Bob of misquoting Turek?

        • before you accused Bob of misquoting Turek

          It’s OK. He apologized.

          (Gotcha! I’m kidding, of course.)

    • No, he isn’t defending Stalin. Please. What a strawman. You would need to demonstrate that such a worldview is also irreconcilable with any objective morality. Plus that objective morality exists at all and such a worldview is the cause of these acts, otherwise it may be another factor. Whether or not objective morality exists we can judge others (by our standards, if nothing else).

    • Doubting Thomas

      As such, with no objective morality, Stalin could do anything, like killing 85,000 priests.

      If only he had had the objective morality of the Bible, then he could’ve killed:
      -500,000 Israelites
      -1,000,000 Ethiopians
      -27,000 Syrians
      -120,000 Midianites
      -millions others

      The psychopathy of your god would make Stalin blush.

    • Greg G.

      5) Frank Turek either changed his mind or you misquoted him, but in 2/26/16 his blog gave Reynolds description of faith.

      It appears to be a direct quote from the book. He even gives the page number. You should at least look at the book before making such an accusation.

    • epeeist

      4) Are you defending Stalin from the attacks of the Christian? Under
      Stalin rule, nearly 1000 people per day were executed between 1937-38,

      Let’s examine this shall we:

      P1: Stalin killed large numbers of people
      P2: Stalin was an atheist
      C: Stalin killed large numbers of people in the cause of atheism

      We can do a couple of substitutions

      P1: Harry Truman had a large number of people killed
      P2: Harry Truman was a Christian
      C: Harry Truman had a large number of people killed in the cause of Christianity

      EDIT: bad copy-paste

      • Jim Jones

        Every serial killer has eaten mashed potatoes or rice.

        • epeeist

          Well we both know that the “argument” made by JBSchmidt is a pile of foetid dingos kidneys. We, and everybody else here, knows that it isn’t going to stop him pressing the reset button and repeating it again in a few weeks time.

    • Jim Jones

      > Sure, they were political dissidents, but that was the morality of the Stalin regime. Stalin’s worldview was one of atheism/naturalism born from science claiming there is no god.

      Caedite eos. Novit enim Dominus qui sunt eius.

    • Otto

      As such, with no objective morality, Stalin could do anything, …

      Picking a god subjectively to follow does not lead to an objective moral standard. Additionally picking a god that only expects one to apologize to it would allow one to do ‘anything’ as well.

      • al kimeea

        “do anything” like, oh… rape children and cover it up for centuries

    • Ignorant Amos

      Stalin? Is this like Top Trumps and you win because of the numbers?

      How well does the God given “objective morality” stack up?

      Joseph Kony? Commander of the Lords Resistance Army (LRA).

      Why he matters: During two decades of civil war, Konys Lords Resistance Army has killed more people than al Qaeda, Hamas, and Hezbollah combined. Kony, a former altar boy, aims to overthrow the Ugandan government and establish a regime based on the Ten Commandments. In pursuit of this goal, the LRA has abducted over 20,000 children to serve as soldiers and sex slaves, often forcing them to kill their own parents. Although Kony frequently uses biblical passages to justify his actions and has his child soldiers make the sign of the cross before battle, he mixes Christianity with mysticism and claims to be advised by a spirit council from beyond the grave. The LRA is currently in the process of negotiating a peace deal with the Ugandan government, but Kony is reluctant to leave his hide-out while under International Criminal Court indictment.

      Roman Catholic dictators of the 20th century?

      Leon Degrelle, Belgium
      Ngo Dinh Diem, Vietnam
      Engelbert Dollfuss, Austria
      Francisco Franco, Spain
      Emil Hacha, Bohemia-Moravia
      Konrad Henlein, Sudetenland
      Adolf Hitler, Germany
      Father Andrei Hlinka, Slovakia
      Miklos Horthy, Hungary
      Father Anton Koroshec, Yugoslavia
      Pierre Laval, Vichy-France
      Ferdinand Marcos, Phillipines
      Benito Mussolini, Italy
      Ante Pavelic, Croatia
      Henry Petain, Vichy-France
      Antonio Salazar, Portugal
      Father Josef Tiso, Slovakia (hung as a war criminal)
      Father Augustin Voloshin, Ruthenia

      This whataboutery is fun isn’t? The non-believers don’t make god claims that give them the moral high ground, so nothing to live up to, but how are the believers faring any better?

      Weren’t the two antagonists during the battle for the Pacific during WW2 religious folk? The Christian one in charge of one of the sides, dropped the bomb, twice.

  • skl

    If all the evidence in the universe turns
    against creationism, I would be the first to admit it, but I would still be a
    creationist because that is what the Word of God seems to indicate. (Dr. Kurt
    Wise, geologist)

    He could just as easily say
    ‘If all the evidence in the universe turns against physical
    resurrection, I would be the first to admit it, but I would still be a resurrectionist
    (i.e. a Christian) because that is what the Word of God seems to indicate.’

    This should not be surprising. Christianity is, and has
    always been, based entirely on supernatural phenomena (i.e. miracles).

    • Christianity is, and has
      always been, based entirely on supernatural phenomena

      And this comes from a guy with a PhD (from Harvard, I believe). Incredible.

      Christianity is based on not-evidence.

      • skl

        Christianity is based on not-evidence.

        Yes, I suppose that’s another way of saying it.

        Christianity is, and has always been, based entirely on things
        one does not see and cannot prove/demonstrate/replicate in the natural world.

        • Greg G.

          Christianity is, and has always been, based entirely on things
          one does not see and cannot prove/demonstrate/replicate in the natural world.

          Exactly! Xtianity is based solely on things that have to be imagined.

        • Really, yet they claim people did see miracles.

    • He could just as easily say: ‘If all the evidence in the universe turns against physical resurrection, I would be the first to admit it, but I would still be a resurrectionist (i.e. a Christian) because that is what the Word of God seems to indicate.’

      I strongly suspect that this is exactly what would happen to a large number of Christians. Their position has little to do with evidence, and much more to do with strongly held beliefs. Rather than simply dumping their beliefs about Christianity, they’d simply reform them into something else that cannot be challenged by evidence.

    • Doubting Thomas

      This should not be surprising. Christianity is, and has
      always been, based entirely on supernatural phenomena (i.e. miracles).

      A better and more relevant summary would be “Christianity is, and has always been, based entirely on rejecting reality in favor of nonsense.”

  • skl

    The church had enormous power in Europe
    for 1500 years, and yet this was a period during which social conditions
    regressed before progress returned. Since God promised bounty on those who
    followed him, what we should’ve seen instead was Europe making remarkable,
    unexplainable (from natural means) growth to a universally healthy and
    prosperous society. What we saw instead was natural growing pains in a society
    handicapped by wars, famine, and disease.

    I don’t get this. The new testament depicts Jesus and his
    followers having just about the exact opposite of earthly bounty. And that time
    was followed by persecution of Christians for centuries.

    • Pofarmer

      And that time

      was followed by persecution of Christians for centuries.

      Yeah, not so much.

      Candida Moss, the Myth of Christian Persecution.

      https://www.amazon.com/Myth-Persecution-Christians-Invented-Martyrdom/dp/0062104551

      • Ignorant Amos

        According to soft boy…the NT was a work of fiction, so the words of Jesus are as informative as those of Harry Potter…but the stories about the early Christian persecutions, they’re real and accurate enough.

        Why the feck are we all still feeding this trolling waste of space?

    • You can’t figure out what a society basking in God’s favor would look like? Hint: not like Europe in 1100.

      • skl

        You can’t figure out what a society
        basking in God’s favor would look like?

        The text indicates such a society would have a lot of rough
        stuff, especially hate. For example

        “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself
        and take up his cross daily and follow me.”

        “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation, and put
        you to death; and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake.

        “If the world hates you, know that it has hated
        me before it hated you.”

        • Uh … Jesus thought the world would end in his hearers’ lifetime. He was wrong. Wondering what Jesus would think about Europe in the medieval period is just speculative fiction, because he made it clear that he wouldn’t.

        • skl

          Actually, thinking that “Jesus thought the world would end
          in his hearers’ lifetime” is what qualifies as “just speculative fiction.”

        • How ignorant are you of the Christians’ holy book? You’re telling me that you can’t find a couple of passages that support Jesus thinking the end would happen in the near future?

        • skl

          In fact, one might say you’re doubly speculative:

          1) Speculating about what a character was thinking/meaning by his words, and

          2) Speculating about the truth, if any, in a work of fiction.

        • So then you know the Bible so poorly that you can’t respond to your own question. I guess I’m not surprised.

        • Greg G.

          Matthew 16:28 (NRSV)28 Truly I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”

          Mark 9:1 (NRSV)1 And he said to them, “Truly I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see that the kingdom of God has come with power.”

          Luke 9:27 (NRSV)27 But truly I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God.”

        • skl

          As I said to Bob S. a moment ago,
          In fact, one might say you’re doubly speculative:

          1) Speculating about what a character was thinking/meaning by his words, and

          2) Speculating about the truth, if any, in a work of fiction.

        • Doubting Thomas

          In fact, one might say you’re doubly speculative:

          1) Speculating about what a character was thinking/meaning by his words…

          How else do you discern what someone is thinking or meaning if not by their words? Isn’t that the whole point of language?

        • Greg G.

          I am not speculating anything. I am presenting what the text says.

        • skl

          These verses seem consistent with your ones above:

          Acts 7:54-60
          “Now when they heard these things they were enraged, and
          they ground their teeth against him.

          But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God;

          and he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing at the right hand of God.”

          But they cried out with a loud voice and stopped their ears and rushed together upon him.

          Then they cast him out of the city and stoned him; and the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul.

          And as they were stoning Stephen, he prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.”

          And he knelt down and cried with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep.”

        • Greg G.

          So Stephen said he saw the Son of Man standing in heaven, staying there bu not coming in his kingdom. Then Stephen tasted death.

        • skl

          One might speculate about what “coming” meant in the text
          you quoted.

          One might speculate that it did not mean
          the “second coming” with its supposed end of the world. A
          reason for such a speculation is that elsewhere the text also has Jesus saying he doesn’t know when the end of the world will be, that only the father knows.

          One might speculate that the verses you quoted might refer (in
          addition to the Stephen thing above) to the transfiguration in Matthew 17, or to the resurrection, or to Paul’s visions in 2 Corinthians 12, or to John’s visions in Revelation.

          And as I suggested earlier, one might speculate about the
          value of speculating about the truth, if any, in works of ancient fiction.

        • Greg G.

          Your argument seems to be “nyah, nyah, made you speculate.”

        • skl

          No, my argument shows why I’m skeptical of your and
          Bob S’s speculation.

        • Otto

          No, your argument is ‘I know that is what he said, but that is not what he meant’.

        • Greg G.

          Your position would require the abolition of all literature if we are not supposed to infer what the character thinks by what the author has the person speak.

          You had a flaccid argument and are trying to save face with an even softer argument. Boring!

        • skl

          You had a flaccid argument
          and are trying to save face with an even softer argument. Boring!

          What I find “flaccid” is your and Bob S’s position that
          “Jesus thought the world would end in his hearers’ lifetime”
          as if it’s some infallible, “gospel” truth.

          And I explained why.

          And I found your responses quite uncompelling, even…
          “Boring!”

          Bye.

        • Greg G.

          Your argument is still “nyah, nyah, made you speculate.”

        • What I find “flaccid” is your and Bob S’s position that
          “Jesus thought the world would end in his hearers’ lifetime”

          And what is your position? That Jesus said nothing of the kind?

        • skl

          And what is your position?

          It goes without saying, or without saying again.
          It’s right there in this thread.

        • Spoken like a true weasel trying to run away from a previous argument.

          You know, you could just say, “Let me retract my previous statement of X” or something like that.

        • Pofarmer
        • That’s a fascinating study. It’s impressive that the result is so dramatic.

          (For those who haven’t read it, the article is “U.S. foreign policy to restrict abortion funding results in more abortions.” Less funding to family planning organizations means less contraception, which means more unwanted pregnancies, which means more abortions.)

        • skl

          I’m not retracting anything. If you truly don’t know my position, just re-read my comments in the above thread.

        • I asked a yes/no question. Answering it might mean fewer words than all your denials and tap dancing.

        • skl

          No.

        • So you say that I’m wrong in saying, “Jesus thought the world would end in his hearers’ lifetime. He was wrong.” Dunno why that was so hard to beat out of you.

          You reject my claim, and yet Jesus says, “this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened” (Matt. 24:34). Read the entire chapter to see what “all these things” are.

          I say “read the entire chapter” because it’s clear that you haven’t. You really ought to read the Christians’ holy book before you declare what’s in it.

        • skl

          Bob S.: “And what is your position? That Jesus said nothing of the kind? … I asked a yes/no question.”

          Skl: No.

        • OK, so we have no idea what your point is. And no further interest in finding out.

        • And that’s skl after he’s taken his smart pills.

        • Ignorant Amos

          They ain’t working. He must be visiting a homeopath for his script.

    • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

      Not so much.

      Xtians were such a threat that the Byzantine Emperor made xtianity the state religion before he suffered a revolution.

  • Wisdom, Justice, Love

    Faith defined as “believing things despite the evidence” is a perfectly
    good definition and is widely held within Christianity. If you want
    faith to mean trust, I suggest you start using “trust.”

    That’s one I’ll have to keep an eye on. I’ve done it.

  • Pofarmer

    There are some interesting statistics at this Gallup survey. Maybe it has been discussed here, I don’t remember.

    https://news.gallup.com/poll/248837/church-membership-down-sharply-past-two-decades.aspx

    I’m going to try to post a graph.

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/f4aeec9b3583af60c90914ac4ddf74f998343acb291f65bc73d4e16d3f809e25.png

    • Part of that is probably inherent in that cohort, but part could just be time of life. Young people may have no use for God, but I think they look for stability, morality, and so on as they get a little older, especially for their kids.

      • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

        Young folks haven’t been returning to religion, as that’s tied to buying a home and having kids…which they can’t AFFORD to do.

        Ironic, isn’t it?

      • Pofarmer

        They did say though, that adjusting for age, the numbers are still high.

        I’ve certainly seen people get more religious as they have kids and age. There’s one chick who appears on EWTN who basically has that story. She was an agnostic, married to a Catholic, and basically became Catholic for the sake of the kids, which is, Ironic.

        • Otto

          That is like joining NAMBLA for the sake of the kids.

        • Yes, I think there’s an important positive trend.

    • Wisdom, Justice, Love

      I take exception with this poll. And I think I see why:

      Note: Based on 2016-2018 combined data in surveys in which church membership questions were asked

      I’m no expert, so if someone can verify any of this let me know

      To me generation are about 20 to 22 year. The longest generation outside “Traditionalists” is Millenials with 20. GenX is 14 year span? Boomers an 18 span? So how does “Traditionalists” cover 45 years, over twice the longer specific generation, assuming 1945 or “earlier” means 1900 to 1945.

      A) Why aren’t we breaking down the Boomers parents, the Greatest generation, and their parents, the Silent Generation?

      B) The periods are off:
      Silent: ~1901 – 1923
      Greatest: 1923 – 1946
      Boomers: 1946 – 1967
      X: 1967 – 1989
      Millenials: 1989 – 2012
      Z: 2012 – Now, maybe 2034?

      Anecdotally, how recent have we been hearing “Millenials are turning 30”? Last one, two, five years? According to this chart, we would have been saying this before 2010 (1980 + 30).

      I’m skeptical.

      This could be an attempt to skew the Millenial number, passing GenX off as Millenial. See look, “our percentage of ‘Millemial’ participation/membership has increased.”

  • democommiescrazierbrother

    I don’t think I can “brain up” to make an argument from anything I can actually point to as a source but my take on Stalin has pretty much always been that he had to choke out THEIR god so that he could replace him.

    • abb3w

      My take is that he was an atheist from one of the more violently authoritarian Marxist schools.

      However, I also like to point out that it was precisely the practical defects of that school as demonstrated by the Russian Revolution that led to a major schism, with the likes of Dewey reviving interest in ideas the Ethical Culture movement and publication of the first (and subsequent) Secular Humanist manifestos.

      Which makes talking about Stalin to Secular Humanists seem rather like talking about the excesses of the Medici Popes to Protestants.

      Which analogy seems to occasionally make evangelicals harping on Stalin stop and try to think for a few fractions of a second — although perhaps not often enough.

      (I’ll note, I don’t self-identify as a “secular humanist” precisely over some problems with what seems poor anchoring at the philosophical foundations. While I tentatively agree with a lot of their ideas, I merely consider myself a “fellow traveler”.)

      • democommiescrazierbrother

        That’s certainly as good (and satisfactory for me) an explanation as any that I’ve heard. I’ve always seen dictators as some cocktail of narcissistic personality disorder, sociopathy and delusions of superiority. They are also, charismatic–at least to their cadres who get to play out all of their goreporn fantasies on shitscared civilians.

        “try to think for a few fractions of a second — although perhaps not often enough.”

        Well, can you blame them? Grind the starter on one of those lizardbrains too hard/long, it’ll just defecate on the mattress!

        • abb3w

          I’ve always seen dictators as some cocktail of narcissistic personality disorder, sociopathy and delusions of superiority.

          I presume you’re familiar with Altemeyer’s “Authoritarians” book? Social Dominance Orientation seems likely to play a role. Atheists aren’t immune from that; SDO does not appear significantly correlated to religiosity.

        • democommiescrazierbrother

          I am not familiar with most books that are educational by design, reading them is nearly impossible for me; Not dyslexia, dysinterest.

        • abb3w

          You might find Altemeyer’s a bit of an exception.

        • democommiescrazierbrother

          You could be right. I’ll see if I can get it at my lokal liebury!

        • abb3w

          While they seem more likely to have more technical (and less readable) works by him, most libraries don’t have copies of that one. Getting the PDF online is probably easier.

          If you’re not certain it’s interesting, I’d suggest skipping the preface and start with the Introduction. If that doesn’t pique your interest, then my apologies for the wasted time.

        • democommiescrazierbrother

          Time wasted in research is rarely wasted time. I find that if I can read without falling asleep (what happens when I read anything very technical) I’ll gain something. Thanks for the suggestion!

        • democommiescrazierbrother

          Sorry, I meant to add.

          I know that SDO cuts across all groups–I’ve worked with a fair number of them.

  • #4: I really want some evidence that Stalin only became an atheist when he was a dictator. From what I’ve read he became a Marxist (thus an atheist also) while in the seminary, then dropped out to become a revolutionary. That doesn’t mean it was all caused by his atheism even so.

    #6: If you go to that LDS link, they say none of the photos are known as being Smith. That doesn’t change the larger point you made, but it was an error nonetheless.

    • Michael Neville

      Louis Daguerre had the first commercially viable photographic process patented in Britain in 1839. Smith died in 1844, when photography as still in its infancy.

      • That makes sense as well.

    • #6: good catch. I’ll update the post.

  • Brian Curtis

    Beware the sincere, heartfelt advice of people who hate you and everything you stand for.

  • Pofarmer

    As per my understanding when I was younger that religions were more like
    having a cultural identity you have, it’s like, no big deal to just
    start going to some boyfriend’s church

    That was the way it was for me growing up, as well. It wasn’t until I was exposed to the fundamentalist side of Catholicism that I realized that it could just as easily go the other way. That people could get sucked into it as TRUTH! baby.

    At this point, a lot of people of conscious are clamoring to leave the Catholic Church, but they don’t know where to go. They aren’t interested in being atheists, and they’ve been taught their whole lives that them other guys are wrong, so they’re stuck, effectively. It’s a sad state of affairs.

  • David P. Graf

    Considering that none of the attacks made against Christianity by ancient skeptics like Celsus ever doubt that Jesus existed as a real person, it seems a bit fanciful to think that today. But, each to their own folly.

    • Ignorant Amos

      Whaaa?

      There were Christians that doubted Jesus was a real person, let alone ancient skeptics ffs.

      Have you never heard of Docetism or Marcionism?

      In Christianity, docetism (from the Koinē Greek: δοκεῖν/δόκησις dokeĩn “to seem”, dókēsis “apparition, phantom”) is the doctrine that the phenomenon of Jesus, his historical and bodily existence, and above all the human form of Jesus, was mere semblance without any true reality. Broadly it is taken as the belief that Jesus only seemed to be human, and that his human form was an illusion.

      • David P. Graf

        Which ancient skeptics? Regarding docetism, they said that Jesus only appeared to be human. That’s not at all the same as denying his existence altogether. I can’t find any reference either in marcionism about denying the existence of Jesus.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Regarding docetism, they said that Jesus only appeared to be human. That’s not at all the same as denying his existence altogether.

          Perhaps your reading for comprehension skills are a tad lacking. You said that not even ancient skeptics ever doubt that Jesus existed as a real person.

          So, the doctrine that the phenomenon of Jesus, his historical and bodily existence, and above all the human form of Jesus, was mere semblance without any true reality. Means he didn’t exist in human form and suffer, because God would do that. If Jesus did exist as a real person and suffered, then he couldn’t be God.

          https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=yipXIHcteRsC&pg=PA179&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q&f=false

          Marcions were gnostics that believed…

          In Marcionite belief, Christ was not a Jewish Messiah, but a spiritual entity that was sent by the Monad to reveal the truth about existence, thus allowing humanity to escape the earthly trap of the demiurge. Marcion called God, the Stranger God, or the Alien God, in some translations, as this deity had not had any previous interactions with the world, and was wholly unknown.

          Spiritual entities are not real persons that exist. Least not where I come from.

        • David P. Graf

          Let’s skip the argument over what “real” means. Both docetists and marcionists would agree that if you had been there at the time of Jesus you could have seen him with your own two eyes and touched him with your hands. It may have been an illusion but there was no denial that of the existence of Jesus which is what this thread was about originally.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Let’s skip the argument over what “real” means.

          No…really. let’s not. You make a claim, stick by it, or withdraw it…but at least own it.

          Both docetists and marcionists would agree that if you had been there at the time of Jesus you could have seen him with your own two eyes and touched him with your hands.

          Ballix.

          It may have been an illusion but there was no denial that of the existence of Jesus which is what this thread was about originally.

          Yeah, there is, because only gullible fuckwit believe ghosts exist. And no corporeal spirits/phantasms are ghosts.

          As far as Marcion, and most modern mythicists are concerned, Jesus was unearthly as a real existing human being. Paul only knew him from scripture and dreams…and a heavenly spirit. That’s why Marcion had sch a hardon for the writings of Paul.

        • David P. Graf

          If I’m wrong about docetists and marcionists saying that one could have seen Jesus with their own eyes and so forth, then please feel free to cite some evidence.

        • Ignorant Amos

          If I’m wrong about docetists and marcionists saying that one could have seen Jesus with their own eyes and so forth, then please feel free to cite some evidence.

          Whether they could see Jesus with their own eyes means nothing. They believed he was a phantasm, a spiritual image, a ghost if you like.

          “Docetists […] maintained that since Christ was fully divine, he could not have been fully human and could not have really suffered (people suffer, God doesn’t suffer). Why then did Christ ‘seem’ to be human? For docetists, it was all an appearance. Christ didn’t have a real flesh-and-blood body and didn’t really suffer and die. He only seemed to do so. […]

          Some docetists claimed that Christ’s body only seemed to be human, because it was, in fact, phantasmal (like Casper the Friendly Ghost).” ~ “Forged” by Bart Ehrman, 2011, p52-54,57

          That no folk denied Jesus existed as a real person is the point being argued. The heretics known as Docetists were an early (1st century?) group of Christian cults that didn’t believe Jesus existed as a real person.

          According to the Gospel of Judas, Jesus was a shapeshifter.

          From a docetist point of view, this makes sense, as the spirit of Christ is a phantom-like projection, so could of course appear however he wanted to appear.

          http://www.vexen.co.uk/religion/docetism.html#BI_006

          The question the modern Christian should be asking themselves, is that if Jesus was as widely renowned as a real person at the time the NT gospels suggest, then how could such controversial beliefs that these heresies record, be so popular?

          http://www.vexen.co.uk/religion/docetism.html

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

        • Ignorant Amos

          …and so forth,…

          What does that mean?

          …touched him with your hands.

          Nope. You can’t touch the immaterial.

        • David P. Graf

          But, Jesus would not have appeared immaterial to those who were with him. It may have been an illusion that Jesus had a human body but that’s how it would have seemed to others.

        • Ignorant Amos

          But, Jesus would not have appeared immaterial to those who were with him.

          Who was with him?

          You made the assertion that nobody doubted Jesus was a real person. The Docetists did believe Jesus was a real person in that he had a human body. They believed something else.

          It may have been an illusion that Jesus had a human body but that’s how it would have seemed to others.

          What others?

          That makes a lot of unwarranted presumptions based on the reading of the canonical gospels.

          If the Docetists believed Jesus was a immaterial entity, then they believed that he couldn’t be touched. Your hypothetical scenario that if the Docetists were there at the time of Jesus then they could’ve touched him. Well, yeah, if he was actually a real person, but that’s the point. They believed he wasn’t.

          You are reading the gospels back into the argument.

          Paul claimed to have seen Jesus, in what way did he do that? Not the Acts of the Apostles version of the nonsense, in the words of Paul himself.

          Marcion based his canon, and held the letters of Paul, in high regard, while dismissing the gospels, if he even knew of them.

          There is no reason to accept that Paul knew of a “real person” in Jesus. A celestial spiritual Jesus that took on a human form to be crucified by demons in the lower heavens fits the narrative just as well.

          But this is all irrelevant. The point remains that certain Docetists in early Christianity believed Jesus was a purely spiritual entity that appeared to be a human person, but was not.

    • Suppose Jesus was a real person. Where does that take you? You’re going to jump from that to accept the supernatural claims?

      • David P. Graf

        It doesn’t take us very far. Even if you agree that Jesus was a real person that does not mean that the supernatural claims made by Christians for Jesus are valid. All it does is to remove one line of attack used by skeptics.

        • Ignorant Amos

          All it does is to remove one line of attack used by skeptics.

          This skeptic doesn’t give a feck. Was John Frum a real person or not? Was the angel Moroni a real angel or not?

          Whether there was a real person called Jesus…Yeshua if ya like…apparently 6th most popular name at the time…and was put to death for a lot of things not least insurrection against the state, doesn’t matter. That person didn’t do the biblical fuckwittery.

          It is just a bit of novel thought and hobby for the likes of me that it is a pig in a poke. A religious ruse, like many a religious ruse before it and since it.

          It could be absolute bullshit, I care not a jot. No gospel Jesus existed. End off.

          It seems to matter more to the Christers than the non-Christers for some reason am sure you’ll take great pains to explain.

        • Sounds like we’re in agreement. I don’t make the “Jesus was a myth” argument, though that to me is a very plausible possibility.

          But let’s return to your original point:

          none of the attacks made against Christianity by ancient skeptics like Celsus ever doubt that Jesus existed as a real person, it seems a bit fanciful to think that today

          Lots of people, even non-Christians can believe that Jesus existed as a real person. Jesus as a myth or legend remains very plausible.

        • Grimlock

          It might be worth noting that there is a fairly wide range of what is meant by “historical Jesus”. Everything from there was an historical person about whom the Gospel narratives came from, but we don’t know anything with any certainty about this person to everything but the supernatural stuff in the Gospels is a pretty good description of an historical Jesus.

          Sometimes, it feels as if some apologists play the equivocation game with this.

        • David P. Graf

          You are right. Christian apologists are no more immune than others to playing word games if they think it will serve their cause. My point is that even if everything in the gospels was confirmed beyond a shadow of a doubt including the resurrection, that would not be sufficient to convince someone to become a Christian. You have to look not just at the existence of Jesus but His teaching as well.

        • Grimlock

          That’s an interesting perspective. What do you mean by looking at the teachings?

          I do think that, e.g., the resurrection is insufficient to demonstrate the existence of God. It demonstrates the possibility of resurrection, but that’s not by itself sufficient for demonstrating the existence of God. (Unless by “resurrection” one means “raised by God”, in which case, yeah, resurrection demonstrates God’s existence.)

        • Ignorant Amos

          (Unless by “resurrection” one means “raised by God”, in which case, yeah, resurrection demonstrates God’s existence.)

          And since resurrection myths are not exclusive to the YahwehJesus yarn, clearly other gods can’t be ruled out either.

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

        • David P. Graf

          You look at what Jesus is said to have taught such as summing every rule of behavior up into loving God and loving one’s neighbor including one’s enemies and whether that makes sense or not to you.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Yeah, the doctrine of eternal Hell, that one is a doozy.

          What other teaching of Jesus is there, that wasn’t plagiarised?

        • Kodie

          1. It’s obviously someone’s thought. It was written in a book a long time ago. So someone put it down in writing a long time ago. Jesus didn’t write the bible, so we don’t know if the thought came from a person Jesus, or even if Jesus was a fictional character or literary device to communicate ideas. .

          2. Take into account that every religion has similar thoughts, and altogether, humans have thoughts. Some of them make sense for good living, and some of them are dangerous, paranoid, and biased. Humans are not perfect, and subject to the power of suggestion, as well as confirmation bias and all sorts of things that one may generalize to the population in general which are merely one’s perspective on how things look to them personally. The bible is full of this combination of ideas that all come from people, and so do all other religions.

          3. Taking what makes sense, i.e. cherry-picking what works for you, and ignoring everything that doesn’t, does not mean any person named Jesus or anything else is or was divine, or intuited those ideas from a deity. The way these ideas are communicated in a book like the bible and then expressed by a magical character in essence says people won’t do what they should (and take the entire bible), if there is no reward for them or punishment if they don’t, from beyond. That means people use anything in the bible to come from beyond if they want to, and use religion to threaten and dismiss people who do not believe what it says.

          There’s no magic, just people saying things they think you ought to do, for your own good, or for their own good, or for the good of imaginary people like god. I mean, people think if you do or don’t do something, god will get angry and they have to make you change your ways, and they don’t get that it’s propaganda to fulfill some human agenda, or they think if you don’t love your neighbor the right way (Christians have various interpretations as to the way this looks!), you’ll be on your knees begging god on judgment day. What they really want is for you to join their army against gay people or abortion or whatever, so they can change all the political leanings on earth, but they think it is really for heaven and they don’t want to jeopardize their salvation and they don’t want to condone certain behaviors or for any cent of their tax dollars to be siphoned off for these causes. They are pawns of a political agenda, it has nothing to do with Jesus.

          Conclusion: You look at what the whole bible says and all of the things Jesus is supposed to have said, and all the kinds of ways that Christianity is interpreted from anywhere in the whole bible through what Jesus implied by anything he ever was supposed to have said, which was indeed said by someone, by all the different kinds of “true Christians”, and tell me they are not trying to frighten people with propaganda based on superstition that a mythical entity is going to reward or punish people, but it’s really about forcing society through fear of said mythical entity.

        • Ignorant Amos

          It might be worth noting that there is a fairly wide range of what is meant by “historical Jesus”.

          As there is with Christ Myth theory.

          https://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Christ_myth_theory#Meanings_of_.22Christ_myth_theory.22

  • David P. Graf

    Uhhh….I understand why atheists in particular want to downplay the connection between atheism and people like Stalin and movements like Communism. Christians do the same kind of thing with historical embarrassments such as the inquisition in Spain and the sexual abuse of minors by religious authorities and the killing of non-believers by Christians throughout our history as with anti-semitic pogroms. The point, though, is that Stalin was not just a dictator but a communist. We’ve had plenty of dictators who did not kill religious believers. Communism wherever implemented has persecuted religious believers not just because they may be a competing source of authority. Even if believers stayed out of the political process altogether, they would still be persecuted because religion misdirects people to put their hope in a heaven after death instead of working to bring about communism. That’s why religion is referred to as the opiate of the people.

    Now, does this mean that atheism is the same as communism? No! One can be an atheist and be a capitalist. But, communism in practice is atheistic.

    • Stalin was a dictator. That’s why they shut down the church in Russia–he didn’t want a separate power structure second-guessing his statements. Atheism didn’t cause anything; it was his being a dictator. There is no dogma within atheism that demands that churches be shut down.

      More:
      https://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/2019/05/stalin-was-a-mass-murderer-and-im-not-too-sure-about-myself/

      • David P. Graf

        You are correct. There is nothing within atheism which requires it to shut down churches or do anything else to religious believers. However, atheism is an integral part of the way communism has been implemented due to the belief that religion represents a wrong path which prevents the achievement of “true” communism in a society. That whacking religion also kills a possible competitor for power is an additional advantage.

        • Do we agree then that Stalin deserves much blame and not so atheism?

          Atheism is one answer (No) to one question (Do you have a god belief?). Let’s blame Stalin (or the needs of a dictatorship), not atheism.

        • David P. Graf

          I think that it’s best to blame not atheism but those like Stalin, Marx and Lenin who incorporated it within communism. I see a similar paradigm at work in others who incorporate Christianity into their “free market” version of capitalism to justify all sorts of things which would otherwise fail the laugh test when you consider that we are to love our neighbors.