Would God Want You to Tell a Gunman, “Yes, I’m a Christian”?

Would God Want You to Tell a Gunman, “Yes, I’m a Christian”? November 9, 2019

In 2015, a shooter at a rural community college in Oregon killed nine and wounded more. The incident was unusual because reports said the shooter targeted Christians.

Was he persecuting Christians? Was he promising them an afterlife based on his Christian views? Since the shooter killed himself, we can’t know for sure, but I’d like to focus on another aspect. John Mark Reynolds is a fellow Patheos blogger in the Evangelical channel, and he responded to the incident by imagining a situation where someone with a gun was singling out Christians and killing them. If placed in such a situation, he hoped that he would have the courage to stand firm rather than deny his Christian belief. “I don’t wish to die yet,” he said, “but there are some things worse than death.”

I admire that bravery. It’s pointless, thoughtless, and stupid, but it’s brave.

(Dr. Reynolds and I have had some interaction before. He was the one who sounded the alarm about anti-theistic Stalin wannabes like me eager to establish an atheistic dictatorship and rule the world. I responded here and here.)

Reynolds sums up his dilemma in facing this imaginary shooter: “Better dead than betraying the High King of Heaven.”

Would you die for your father’s honor?

Let’s imagine a parallel. Suppose that instead of God, you’re defending your biological father. The gunman declares that your father is a dirty, rotten scoundrel and will shoot you if (and only if) you disagree. Is your father’s honor in the mind of one deranged idiot worth dying for? No father would want that. No father would find it sweet or caring that his child sacrificed their life for his honor or reputation. Instead, he’d find it stupid and pointless.

This example is so meaningless—defending with your life the honor of a god that many Christians admit to occasionally doubting—that I almost wonder if Reynolds imagines an ending like that in the Abraham and Isaac story. God saved Isaac’s life at the end, and the whole thing turned out to be a bizarre and heartless test. The god who knew everything had to see if Abraham was so blindly obedient that he would follow even the most immoral of commands.

I’ve written other posts about Christians’ excitement over Christian persecution (here, here, here). Jesus promised that Christians will be persecuted, so some imagine that this is vague validation that they’ve backed the right horse.

Christian persecution 2000 years ago

The post alludes to Christian martyrs in Roman times, and I guess Reynolds worries about modern Christians not living up to the sacrifices of their ancient forebears. But let’s be clear about what we’re talking about. Category 1 is people forcibly rounded up and executed for being Christian. Category 2 is people given the choice of forever abandoning their religion in favor of the Roman religion or die. And category 3 is Reynolds’ imagined situation where he has the option to lie or die. Unlike the other situations, Reynolds has an easy out.

(The “Who would die for a lie?” argument is tangential, and I respond to that here.)

Would God want your sacrifice?

Reynolds gives the obvious parallel: would you lie to Nazis to protect Jews hiding in your house? He concludes, “Nazis did not deserve the truth.” But a mass murderer does? Reynolds would lie to Nazis but feels obliged to tell the truth to a psychopath with a gun? He might respond that it’s not the recipient of the message but the message itself. “There are no Jews here” hurts only the Nazi plan, while lying that “I’m not a Christian” makes God sad (or furious or disappointed or something).

This is the god that Christians tell us is overflowing in love and understanding . . . but he also wants Christians to sacrifice their lives in meaningless tests? Is this just an Abraham-and-Isaac thing, updated for modern times? Any loyalty test is pointless since God already knows the outcome, so why worship this guy?

The Bible sometimes approves of white lies. The Hebrew midwives lied to Pharaoh (Exodus 1:15–21). Rahab lied to protect the Israelite spies in Jericho (Joshua 2:5).

Jesus said, “When you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you” (Matthew 6:6). Does God need anything more from you to know where you actually stand?

And take an extreme case: Peter denied Jesus three times, and he turned out okay (h/t commenter Jack of Sandwich).

Reynolds wrings his hands. “There are worse things than death for a Christian and one of those things is a life of secret shame.” Shame? Then apologize afterwards to God. Could God be so stupid that he doesn’t understand what happened? He’s a billion times smarter and a billion times more understanding than any father. And what’s there to apologize for anyway? You preserved God’s gift of life—sounds like God would congratulate you for making a smart decision.

Death is not the worst thing for a Christian. A life that continues based on cowardice in the face of the ultimate test would be worse.

Personal doubt (which I’ve been pleased to see many Christians acknowledge) is a test of your faith. Performing an arbitrary procedure to save your life is not. Isn’t God smart enough to get it? What kind of delicate flower of a god would care that you didn’t defend his honor? There’s a difference between a noble cause and a stupid one.

This is a lot of drama for the honor of someone who gives no evidence of even existing.

The Bible:
because a bunch of guys who didn’t know
where the sun went at night
totally have all the answers.
— WFLAtheism

.

(This is an update of a post that originally appeared 10/5/15.)

Image from Peter Anderson, CC license
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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Cozmo the Magician

    OK, so it is totes WRONG for a xtian to lie and deny their sky daddy. But it is TOTES ok for them to LIE and make up a BS story about a gunman asking a girl if she was a god botherer. They made MOVIES about stories that turned out to be PURE CHRISTIAN LIES. God must be real happy about that BS.

    • firebubbles310

      Of course. It brings people to Christ.

      • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

        /s

        • firebubbles310

          I knew I forgot something.

    • Jim Jones

      Cassie Bernall. Christians do love this 8=shit=8.

    • NSAlito

      They made MOVIES about stories that turned out to be PURE CHRISTIAN LIES.

      Why do you think they call it Pure Flix.

  • Neo

    I did a lot of hiking when I was younger, and this became the topic of my friend and my conversation as we forded streams, and weaved our way through woods. I let him answer first, and he argued that he would lie to the gunman and tell him “no, I do not believe in God”, why, I asked, he replied, so he could live another day to worship the lord. To this I replied, first, what if the gunman didn’t believe you and shot you anyway, do you really want to die, denying knowing or loving God, if indeed you do believe and love God? I believe we are given many opportunities to show we believe and love God – the test of one’s faith, I believe, its trying never to back down from any opportunity. My answer that day to my friend, that day on our walk, Yup, I’ll take the bullet, and who knows maybe I’ll end up saving the soul of the gunman – my friend thought I was very misguided, but he then again, he did choose me as his best friend at his wedding, many years later.

    • Doubting Thomas

      It’s weird to have martyrbation fantasies as a child.

    • Jim Jones

      You’re nuts. This is mere virtue signaling taken to the extreme. The people you will impress will still be alive.

      And it’s pointless, since this is wrong theology. Here’s the right one.

      All will lie in the grave until the end of eternity. At that time, all will be raised and judged. When you see Jesus, you will know the truth and can accept him and be saved.

      So you died for nothing, which is suicide.

      • Even if time is not felt there, eternity is very long especially at its end and next to it even the times required to have a Boltzmann brain or even a new Big Bang (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeline_of_the_far_future) popping up from the vacuum are peanuts.

      • Greg G.

        When resurrected, I will hit the snooze button to sleep 5 million minutes more.

      • This is mere virtue signaling taken to the extreme.

        Oh, surely not. I’m sure he goes into a closet to pray.

    • And I’d pray Mielikki, the Forest Queen, for you.

    • Kuno

      1) Why would it matter if the shooter kills you anyway? Wouldn’t God know the truth?
      2) How would not lying to the shooter lead to you saving the shooter’s soul?

    • my friend thought I was very misguided

      Smart friend.

    • Søren Kongstad

      I don’t know what kind of christian you are, but for most protestant faiths, salvation is by faith and not by deeds.
      So since speaking is not faith, but a deed, how would lying with your last breath about your faith have any impact on your fate after death?

      If you lie and live you spare your loved ones, and indeed get the chance to save other souls by leading them to belief

      • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

        Then you’re arguing that the end justifies the means?

        That’s not a very nice morality.

    • gusbovona

      What if the gunman threatens to torture and kill your grandmother if you say you’re Christian?

    • Otto

      I believe we are given many opportunities to show we believe and love God

      If lying about loving my friend saves my life but in doing so my friend is offended….he isn’t a very good friend.

  • I know this is about Christianity, but I will point out that while Jews have our martyrs (see: Masada), our answer to this question is really clear.

    LIE!! Lie your face off. Do what it takes to survive. If you’re someone who keeps kosher, and your choice is between eating forbidden things or dying, eat the freaking things! All rules are suspended in favor of the single, biggest rule. Save a life, and that life can be your own. It’s why Orthodox Jewish doctors will answer the phone or their pager on Shabbat, because they are needed to save a life. Any god that values obedience over survival is a pretty awful god, honestly.

    • And in Islam, too.

      [Taqiya] is an Islamic term referring to precautionary dissimulation [to hide under a false appearance] or denial of religious belief and practice in the face of persecution.

    • Yes, absolutely. As the post mentioned, people did this to save themselves from the Holocaust (or gentiles protecting them did). Who is going to argue with that? How does it matter when it’s a mass shooter today in the US instead of Nazi killers then?

    • Cynthia

      Honestly can’t understand how this is even a question. I know plenty of religious Jews who survived precisely because they lied to save their lives – for example, pretending to be gentile children during the Holocaust, or figuring out how to fake immigration documents.

  • Lex Lata

    So Reynolds believes the moral choice is to martyr himself with honesty and leave his wife a devastated widow and his children grieving orphans, rather than to BS a maniac with a quick lie regarding his belief in a god whose capacity for love and mercy, accordingly to orthodox Christianity, is limitless? I get the value of honor, but I simply can’t agree with the decision to put other human beings through that sort of misery rather than live with whatever forgivable shame Reynolds imagines he might feel by briefly faking non-Christianity during an active shooter event.

    • Did you forget that God is a fragile snowflake? Did you take his feelings into account??

      • Lex Lata

        Oh, right. The Greatest Possible Snowflake spin on the Ontological Argument. Must’ve slipped my mind.

        But seriously. If one of my kids somehow faced a stark choice between lying about me and being executed, I hope he’d let the falsehoods flow with abundance, creativity, and enthusiasm–whatever it took to spare him and us the pain of his death.

    • Maltnothops

      Also, Reynolds would be carrying little or no life insurance because the Lord’ll provide.

  • Jim Jones

    You tell him whatever you must to live another day. Then you hunt him down and kill his entire family in front of him.

    Oh, wait. Slipped into bible mode for a while there.

    • al kimeea

      make sure he hears the lamentation of the women before you crush him

      • JustAnotherAtheist2

        Yes, we will rape the horses and kill the women!

  • Some claim that in Roman times even if there were prosecutions from the Empire, most of the deaths were caused by infighting among their different sects. Others that they wanted to be martyrs and seeked death, so they’d not have to wait when Jesus came even if oblivion knows no time.

    As one notes below, that is brave but stupid knowing things may be very different to what you think in the afterlife, and as someone notes below there’d be later opportunities to mend that lie for example attempting to save the largest number of wicked heathens one could.

    • From what I understand, it was mostly due to Christians’ rejection of doing things such as throwing incense onto Roman alters (a ritual sacrifice) and denying their gods’ existence. The Romans killing or torturing them wasn’t right, but the reaction could also have been avoided very easily. Apparently, early Christians believed that by doing so they would be denying Christ. Catholics in Japan later also felt this about being forced to tread on an image of Jesus. Pretty extreme to me.

    • One of the reasons so many Roman Christians were asked to deny their faith was because the officials burdened with passing judgement on them didn’t want to kill them and were doing their best to avoid doing so. Then when the Christians took over and the tables were turned, a person could receive the death penalty for owning non-Christian books or artworks, were even suspected of owning such items, or for failng to denounce neighbors or family members for “un-Christian” behavior.¹ The Christians weren’t interested in offering similar chances at mercy, but enthusiastically killed in Jeebus’ name, usually in mob actions.

      ¹See The Darkening Age: The Christian Destruction of the Classical World by Catherine Nixey, Chapter 15.

  • Dan Hunter

    What kind of a god would send a gunman threatening to shoot you as a test of faith? That is just crazy.

  • Phil Rimmer

    I wouldn’t die for such an Old Testament God even if I were a theist.

    This is evidence of His unworthiness. Were He this reduced, testing God I’d spit in his eye if I got the chance. Now that would be a martyrdom of value. He may think again or others perhaps might see his unworthiness.

    Besides being alive I may help others threatened. I may then, indeed, offer up my life in wrestling the shooter to the ground.

  • RichardSRussell

    Gunner: “Do you believe in God?”

    Student: “Uh, sure. Sure I do.”

    Gunner: “Which one?”

    Student: “Um, ah … oh, yours, of course!”

    Gunner: “Which one is that?”

    Student [pulls out d20, rolls it]: “Ahura Mazda?”

    Gunner: BAM!!!

    • Ignorant Amos

      Hitchens anecdotes about being stopped late at night in Belfast by a gang of fellas.

      He is asked if he is Protestant or Catholic?

      He tells them he is an atheist.

      There reply is Protestant atheist or Catholic atheist.

      It was actually a regular thing living in 70’s Belfast and various lines of questioning were employed to verify the answer.

  • This reminds me of the much-maligned taqqiya doctrine Shia Muslims follow. It allows them to lie about their beliefs if threatened with death (this had happened often at the hands of fanatical Sunnis-claims are made it allows Muslims in general to lie about their beliefs). That seems far more reasonable than to just stand on your beliefs no matter what.

    • I believe there’s an extension of that where Muslims can lie if it advances the faith–an “ends justify the means” kind of thing.

      • That’s what has been claimed. Apparently not though.
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oyq_0la254U

        • Interesting, thanks. My takeaway: yes, taqqiya is a thing, though it probably isn’t a widespread concept. Majority Sunni Muslims are less likely to know about it than Shia. Best advice: don’t assume that a Muslim is using or even knows about taqqiya.

      • Ignorant Amos

        That’s in Christianity too.

        • Is it? Interesting.

          I don’t remember that. Is that Christian tradition, or is there a verse in the Bible to support that?

        • Ignorant Amos

          Well, I wasn’t necessarily punting towards scripture as equating the concept vis a vis Islam. But since ya asked….

          Someone might argue, “If my falsehood enhances God’s truthfulness and so increases his glory, why am I still condemned as a sinner?” Why not say — as we are being slanderously reported as saying and as some claim that we say — “Let us do evil that good may result?” Their condemnation is deserved. ~Romans 3:7-8

          Lying for Jesus is a form of pious fraud which happens when some Christians believe that falsifying information is acceptable if that brings people to Jesus or somehow supports his historicity, saintliness or supposed godliness. The practice has a long and venerable history in the Christian religion dating back to the Council of Nicaea.

          https://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Pious_fraud

        • Helpful!

  • Quinsha

    Pretty weak god if he needs a human to defend his honor. Any god worth their worship would say “Deny me, I’ll get that jerk69 later myself”.

  • Michael Neville

    Is Reynolds afraid that his god will feel all butthurt if someone denies belief in him? Does Reynolds think his god is that narcissistic?

    • Greg G.

      His god thingy damned the whole human population because two humans ate a fruit that they were essentially dared to eat.

  • Another thing: what about lying for Jesus here, something so many Fundies love so much?. Why lying here is bad and the former not?.

    • Ignorant Amos

      Pious fraud abounds all over the place.

  • Andrew Cheng

    Referring to the psychopath and gunman scenario, it is utterly meaningless if there is no life after death. In fact, if there is no life after death, whether you choose to deny or not to deny, both would be meaningless ultimately. But there IS life after death. So for the Christian who chooses not to deny, he is simply choosing not to withhold the information that there is life after death. After all, death to him is simply a departure from his earthly body. There is a new body waiting for him. So for a Christian not to deny it but to witness it to somebody who so clearly needs to hear it is but natural for him. It is the ultimate witness. For those who believe in eternity, this life led is but smaller than a dot in the spectrum of eternity. So why give up eternity to conserve just a small little dot in that spectrum?

    But it is different from that of the Nazis case of killing the Jews. The Jews did not receive Jesus as their Lord and Saviour. So to save them is to give them a further chance for them to receive salvation. It really is that simple. When we receive the Holy Spirit, we are empowered to see others the way God would see them. So Jesus did not resist when He was crucified on the cross. He was determined to fulfil His Mission.

    In the gunman scenario, when there is really no chance of overpowering the gunman, then that would simply be just a natural step forward for the Christian.

    • Susan

      it is utterly meaningless if there is no life after death. In fact, if there is no life after death, whether you choose to deny or not to deny, both would be meaningless ultimately.

      But one would be meaningful locally. And deeply meaningful. Your presence for your family, your friends, etc.

      Anyway, I was about to upvote you (before the ultimate thing) but then, you followed up with this:

      but there IS life after death

      So…

      Members of Heaven’s Gate believed that a UFO would take their souls on board.

      Your claim and theirs seem prosperous and equal at face value.

      What’s different about yours? What support do you have for it?

      • Andrew Cheng

        I am not talking about some heaven gate thing. I am talking about Jesus Christ. He died for you and me. Salvation is freely given. If you believe in your heart and confess Him as your Lord and Saviour, you will be saved. He made it so easy. Or you need to do is to accept it and receive it.

        • Susan

          I am not talking about some heaven gate thing.

          You have provided no more support for your claim than there was support for Heaven’s Gate claims.

          How do you know their souls weren’t taken on board?

        • Pofarmer

          Some Heaven Gate thing. As if that crazy belief could be delineated.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          I am not talking about some heaven gate thing. I am talking about Jesus Christ.

          Same-same for those of us not duped by your vile superstitious meme.

        • Otto

          Salvation is freely given. If you believe in your heart and confess Him as your Lord and Saviour, you will be saved.

          Than it is not freely given, there are conditions attached and therefore it is not free.

        • Why is there an extra step? God needed a sacrifice (let’s ignore that a proper sacrifice is burned, so the death of Jesus was a futile gesture), and he got it. So I guess I’ll see you in heaven.

          Perhaps you’ve forgotten Romans 5:18-19.

    • Lark62

      But it is different from that of the Nazis case of killing the Jews. The Jews did not receive Jesus as their Lord and Saviour. So to save them is to give them a further chance for them to receive salvation.

      What decent or moral person would worship a deity that punishes decent and normal people with hell just because they were born into the wrong religion. This deity is no better than the nazis69, except his torment never ceases.

      • Andrew Cheng

        No one should embrace religion blindly. He is not mocked. And not everyone who calls Him Lord will be saved. The judgement is His. And that is why Christians reach out to all…. sometimes even when their life is at stake.

        • Pofarmer

          Calvinism it is then. Just live your life, It’s already decided.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          He is not mocked.

          Wrong. Your supposed ‘god’, YOUR KIND, and your little dog Toto, too…we mock all of you, and will as long as you continue to try to gain authoritarian dominion over us.

    • epeeist

      The Jews did not receive Jesus as their Lord and Saviour. So to save them is to give them a further chance for them to receive salvation.

      Ah, the Richard Swinburne gambit, the Holocaust gave Jews the opportunity to be noble and courageous. Personally, I am with Peter Atkins on this, to Swinburne’s comment he replied, “May you rot in hell69”. What an outrageous lack of empathy Swinburne’s comment and yours show.

      • MR

        It truly amazes me how little thought people give to the apologetics they regurgitate.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          It’s not thought, it’s ‘teh feelz’…

        • Andrew Cheng

          Faith is not led by feelings.

        • Michael Neville

          Faith is led by wishful thinking, hopes and fears.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          Faith is not led by feelings.

          So now you’re denying Hebrews 11:1?

          Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

          Or are you going to try to argue with the black-letter text?

        • Faith is not led by evidence. It is contradictory to reason.

        • epeeist

          It truly amazes me how little thought people give to the apologetics they regurgitate.

          In the years since the extent of child abuse in the Catholic church came to light I have never ceased to be amazed how little empathy some people show when it comes to deciding whether to side with the church or with the victims.

        • Pofarmer

          Why the Catholic Church is still allowed to operate as an independent entity in Civilized countries is somewhat of a mystery. Given the levels of abuse found it, say, Australia, you wold think they would kick the organization out of the country, or subject it to strict State oversight. But will that happen?

        • Michael Murray

          Nope. In fact we are probably going to get a religious discrimination bill that protects the religious right to be bigots. Fingers crossed we finally lock the door on Pell’s last remaining right of appeal tomorrow.

        • Pofarmer

          Nope. In fact we are probably going to get a religious discrimination bill that protects the religious right to be bigots

          Well, they are the victims, here, after all.

        • Michael Murray

          Of course. This is payback for the marriage equality bill that passed last year. Someone has to save the bakers from being forced to bake rainbow wedding cakes. I expect a few politicians in backrooms got paid off with “we can’t go on ignoring the 70% of Australians who want this but don’t worry we’ll put through a religious discrimination bill”. I looked at the draft and it didn’t seem to define religion so I imagine there will be some fun with pastafarians and devil-worshippers if it goes through. Ramen to that !

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          /s

        • Andrew Cheng

          Reading some of the comments here, I think I would agree with you.

        • Susan

          Reading some of the comments here, I think I would agree with you.

          For example?

        • MR

          Yes, yours for example. If you’d thought about the implications of what you said, you’d see that a) it makes no sense, and b) it makes God look like an incompetent monster. Instead of lol-ing at everyone, why don’t you try to explain what you think your stance is with clarity. Then you will see where the things you’ve been fed come up short. Think about it instead of just regurgitating it.

        • Ignorant Amos

          I think we’re dealing with an immature child…or someone at said level of thinking skill.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          Taking YOUR KIND at your word isn’t thoughtless, it’s demonstrating YOUR thoughtlessness.

      • Andrew Cheng

        You can be noble and courageous every day. LOL. Dun need the Holocaust for that.
        You seem to me like you are describing yourself.

        • epeeist

          You can be noble and courageous every day.

          Indeed, though both you and Swinburne seem to think that a dose of Zyklon B helps.

          You seem to me like you are describing yourself.

          The difference between me and you? I value people, whether they follow a religion (whether Christian or otherwise) or not. You only seem concerned about those of your own particular variant of Christianity.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          Especially by opposing unjust power.

          Which is what atheists do every day, since YOUR KIND unmercifully and unscrupulously abuse, malign, and 69kill nonbelievers whenever YOUR KIND gets the opportunity.

        • Alitheia

          Correct me if I’m wrong but weren’t Danton, Lenin, Sanger, Than Shwe, Stalin, Mengele, Mao, Kim Il Sung, Ceausescu, Honecker, Castro, Pol Pot, Broz Tito, Milosevic, Bonaparte and Mussolini oppressive, sadistic, democidal atheists who, collectively, murdered hundreds of millions of helpless men, women and little children?http://bit.ly/2hXQKwX http://bit.ly/2iLX3jT http://bit.ly/2iLWtCL http://bit.ly/2iLZNxL http://bit.ly/2iLPCZW http://bit.ly/2iLKsNE http://bit.ly/2iLAX0Y

        • Jim Jones

          Mother Teresa was an atheist.

          So was Sir Nicholas Winton.

          Jeffrey Dahmer was a believing Christian.

        • Alitheia

          You’re not making any sense. How does any of that answer my simple, straightforward query?

        • Jim Jones

          Your list of villains weren’t atheists. They believed in god. They believed they were god.

          Stop being a bigot.

        • Alitheia
        • Jim Jones

          Dictators either exploit the popular religion or suppress it so that they have no competition.

          Neither of these makes myths valid.

        • Alitheia

          None of which is evidence that they were not Atheists.

          Try again.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Atheists or not, until you can demonstrate the reason why they committed those atrocities was no god belief, you lose.

          On the other hand, it is well documented that god belief has been the reason for atrocious activities historically. It is documented in your not-so-good-book ffs.

        • Alitheia

          Here you go:

          “It was Dostoevsky, once again, who drew from the French Revolution and its seeming hatred of the Church the lesson that “revolution must necessarily begin with atheism.” That is absolutely true. But the world had never before known a godlessness as organized, militarized, and tenaciously malevolent as that practiced by Marxism.

          Within the philosophical system of Marx and Lenin, and at the heart of their psychology, hatred of God is the principal driving force, more fundamental than all their political and economic pretensions. Militant atheism is not merely incidental or marginal to Communist policy; it is not a side effect, but the central pivot.”

          ― Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

        • Ignorant Amos

          That is the opinion of a Christian novelist with an axe to grind. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn gave that speech on the occasion of his acceptance, in London on May 10, 1983, of the Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion.

          You are dead set on committing this fallacy.

          Religious apologists, particularly those of the Christian variety, are big fans of what I have dubbed, the atheist atrocities fallacy. Christians commonly employ this fallacy to shield their egos from the harsh reality of the brutality of their own religion, by utilizing a most absurd form of the tu quoque (“you too”) fallacy, mingled with numerous other logical fallacies and historical inaccuracies. Despite the fact that the atheist atrocities fallacy has already been thoroughly exposed by Hitchens and other great thinkers, it continues to circulate amongst the desperate believers of a religion in its death throes. Should an atheist present a believer with the crimes committed by the Holy See of the Inquisition(s), the Crusaders and other faith-wielding misanthropes, they will often hear the reply; “Well, what about Stalin, Pol Pot and Hitler? They were atheists, and they killed millions!”

        • Jim Jones

          Whoosh!

          And all of those you list either ate potatoes or rice. But they all had different religious views.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Also, this one doesn’t seem to get the “cult of personality” effect.

          Often, a single leader became associated with this revolutionary transformation and came to be treated as a benevolent “guide” for the nation without whom the transformation to a better future could not occur. This has been generally the justification for personality cults that arose in totalitarian societies, such as those of Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, and Mao Zedong. The admiration for Mao Zedong has remained widespread in China. In December 2013, a Global Times poll revealed that over 85% of Chinese viewed Mao in a positive light. Jan Plamper argues while Napoleon III made some innovations it was Benito Mussolini in Italy in the 1920s who originated the model of dictator-as-cult-figure that was emulated by Hitler, Stalin and the others, using the propaganda powers of a totalitarian state

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

        • Alitheia
        • Pofarmer

          Timothy McVeigh killed a lot more people than Jeffery Dahmer, even if Dahmer was an atheist.

          Mother Theresa………Gah……..

        • Jim Jones

          Sure, but her post is stupid. We all know that dictators are homicidal, irrespective of religion.

        • Ignorant Amos

          You’re wrong.

        • Alitheia
        • Ignorant Amos

          Nah, you first.

          You asked if you were wrong. The answer is yes.

          You made the initial unsupported assertion. You have to demonstrate that those folk on your list were godless and that it was due to this godlessness and not some other driving factor that caused the numbers of deaths you are claiming. Support your claim.

          It’s your claim, so it’s your onus probandi. Deal with it.

        • Alitheia

          That which can be claimed without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.” Accordingly, consider your fatuous claims dismissed.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Ditto.

          Yer another religious fuckwit that doesn’t do irony very well, aren’t ya?

        • Alitheia
        • Ignorant Amos
        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          Uh, you DO realize that’s what’s called, in sport, an *own goal*??!!

        • Alitheia

          How do you mean?

        • Ignorant Amos

          You made an unsubstantiated assertion without evidence…i.e. a supporting citation, then you demanded a citation off your interlocutor.

          Own goal:- an act that unintentionally harms one’s own interests.

        • Ignorant Amos

          The Hitchens-Lenin meme is lying for Jesus quote mine out of context for the purposes of pious fraud.

          As Lenin tried to transform Russia into a socialist state, did he leave any of the old government intact?

          Lenin’s Russia was an attempt to start from scratch. The war had already pre-destroyed a lot of the old order for him. It had destroyed the Czarist army for example, turned it into a rabble, which the strongest element, the strongest element were mutineers who already supported the Bolshevik party. It had crucially undermined the autocracy, the Romanov dynasty. And I think it had very much discredited the Russian Orthodox Church, for which he had a particular dislike. But he was very willing to finish those jobs, all three of them, to wipe out the Romanov family, to rebuild the army, and under Trotsky’s leadership of the Red Army, and to seize the opportunity to confiscate church property and to dissolve, as far as possible, the influence of the church.

          One of Lenin’s great achievements, in my opinion, is to create a secular Russia. The power of the Russian Orthodox Church, which was an absolute warren of backwardness and evil and superstition, is probably never going to recover from what he did to it.

          The difficulty was that he also inherited, and partly by his measures created, even more scarcity and economic dislocation. The Bolsheviks had studied what had happened to the French revolution and they knew there was a danger of autocracy developing in their own ranks, and they were always on the look out for another Bonaparte. And the person who most looked like Bonaparte to them was Trotsky, who had flamboyance and military genius and charisma. And so they often didn’t trust him. But the person who least looked like a Bonaparte was a mediocrity from Georgia, a pockmarked, mustachioed, rather unintellectual fellow, Joseph Vissarionovich Djugashvili, Mr. Stalin. They thought, well actually, he’s probably quite a reliable guy.

          Goes to show that what people learn from history is that they don’t learn.

        • Alitheia

          One of Lenin’s great achievements, in my opinion, is to create a secular Russia.

          So it’s ok when you quote it but not when I do?

        • Ignorant Amos

          I can only infer by that reply, that reading for comprehension is not one of your strong points..typical Christer.

          Context is everything.

          One of Lenin’s great achievements, in my opinion, is to create a secular Russia.

          Given that…

          The power of the Russian Orthodox Church, which was an absolute warren of backwardness and evil and superstition, is probably never going to recover from what he did to it.

          That Lenin went on to promote, encourage, and enforce an ideology that resulted in so many deaths, is irrelevant to the achievement of creating a secular state. You seem to want to conflate the two. That’s disingenuous.

        • Alitheia

          Riiight, because Hitchens was was completely oblivious to the horrors Lenin’s atheist state perpetrated . . . oh . . . wait . . .

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          A hero can become a villain…that doesn’t change the heroics once performed…the villainy might *outweigh* the heroics, but that’s a different question.

        • Alitheia

          So when Hitchens said, “One of Lenin’s great achievements, in my opinion, is to create a secular Russia” he did so with full knowledge of the millions and millions and millions of people his regime massacred . . . got it . . .

          https://holodomorinfo.files.wordpress.com/2013/09/vladimir-lenin-genocide.png

        • Ignorant Amos

          Dime Bar…do you know what a non sequitur is?

          Is stupid a hobby of yours, or do you train to be expert at it?

          Genghis Khan Introduced Laws And Religious Freedom

          What is there to say about Genghis Khan that hasn’t already been said about the bubonic plague? Erupting from the Mongolian steppe, his forces raced across Eurasia, destroying ancient empires and killing an estimated 40 million people (around 11 percent of the global population). According to Julia Pongratz of the Carnegie Institution For Science, the slaughter Genghis unleashed removed 700 million tons of carbon from the atmosphere. That’s right, Genghis Khan killed so many people that it noticeably effected the carbon output of the Earth.

          But Genghis wasn’t just a destructive maniac—he was intent on building a Mongol nation. In 1208, he captured a Uygur scribe named Tatar-Tonga, who adapted the Uygur alphabet to create the first alphabet for writing the Mongol language. Genghis also created a legal code and applied it throughout his empire. Astonishingly, Genghis insisted that these laws should apply to himself as well as his subjects. In a world where monarchs were considered to be above the law, this was an incredible step (his heirs dropped it almost immediately).

          Genghis even made his adopted brother supreme judge and encouraged him to keep a record of all legal decisions.The Khan also granted religious freedom to everyone within his empire and gave tax exempt status to places of worship. He was known to be very spiritual himself, often praying before campaigns, and enjoyed discussing religion and philosophy with scholars like the Taoist Qiu Chuji.

          Now, I might think that introducing laws and religious freedom is a good thing, the best thing the Kahn ever done even, but it doesn’t follow that I think the Kahn killing 40 million people was too.

          Then there are the bad things done or said by folk generally deemed good.

          Winston Churchill diverted food aid that was destined for India, to feed Europeans. It is estimated 3 million folk in India starved to death as a result.

          Ya think Hitchens was out of order for praising the secularisation of Russia by Lenin…that pales in comparison to what war hero and good Christian author Roald Dahl said, if it’s notes ya want to compare….

          “There is a trait in the Jewish character that does provoke animosity, maybe it’s a kind of lack of generosity towards non-Jews. I mean, there’s always a reason why anti-anything crops up anywhere; even a stinker like Hitler didn’t just pick on them for no reason.”

          Your line of argument is just complete silly pants.

        • Ignorant Amos

          The Dahmer meme? That’ll be the reason the jails of the world are full of atheists…NOT!

          In the meantime, I’ll see yer Dahmer and raise ya a Samuel Little, who told a sheriff…”God put him on this Earth to do it”.

          Have you any idea the number of killers that say God made them/told them to do it?

          Seems having God in yer life is no reason to modify your behaviour to within acceptable ranges either, so pah!

        • Alitheia

          You’re not making any sense. How does any of that address my simple and straightforward query?

        • Ignorant Amos

          No, you are the one not making any sense. But I don’t know why I should expect any less from a knuckle-dragging creotard Christer.

          Your silly meme infers that a god is needed for folk to be accountable to, otherwise they’d be running amok raping and murdering indiscriminately. We don’t see the worlds jails full of atheist murderers and rapists. What we see is the world’s jails full of god believers who have murdered and raped, regardless of being accountable to a god. So who cares what asinine bullshit Dahmer came off with?

          The meme is a piece of lying for Jesus bullshit. It is quotemined and Dahmer wasn’t an atheist when he made it, he was a Christian. So two lies. And you are proliferating the lie, which makes you complicit.

          The bit conveniently left off the quote at the end, “If a person doesn’t think that there is a God to be accountable to, then what’s the point of trying to modify your behavior to keep it within acceptable ranges? That’s how I thought anyway.

          Well who cares what Dahmer thought, he was a lying, murdering, raping, necrophilic scumbag whom it can’t be demonstrated was ever an atheist.

          There are mass murderers that cite Jesus or God as the reason they committed their heinous acts. Like Samuel Little who on last count, murdered 93, or Peter Sutcliffe who hammered to death 13 women and attempted same on 7 others. If you are going to be stupid enough to assert that having no god belief allows free range, then having god belief appears to give carte blanche too.

          Like Penn Jillette says it, I murder and rape as many folk as I want to. And the number I want to murder and rape is exactly zero.

        • Alitheia

          Argumentum ad hominem. Your position is forfeit. There’s the exit.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          Nope.

          YOU are guilty of setting up a strawman.

          You seem disappointed to have it knocked down.

        • Alitheia

          If it was a strawman why couldn’t he dismantle it?

        • Ignorant Amos

          “He” did, you’re just too stupid to realise it.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Argumentum ad hominem.

          Nope…go learn what the ad hominem fallacy is before making a further arse of yerself.

          If I’d said your argument is nonsense because you are a knuckle-dragging creotard Christer, that would be an ad hominem fallacy.

          Saying you’re a knuckle-dragging creotard Christer and your argument is nonsense because x, y, and z reasons, is just an observation and mocking ridicule, while also explaining why your position is nonsense.

          Learn the difference.

          https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/character-attack/

          Your position is forfeit. There’s the exit.

          Nope. And if fallacies forfeited one’s position, you arse would have been out the door from the get-go ya moron.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          Easy.

          It shows you’re trying to change the subject and keep repeating a big lie in the hopes that it will permeate the consciousness of the gullible.

        • Alitheia

          To what lie are you referring?

        • Ignorant Amos

          As for the fuckwittery in that last meme…

          I think that theists who posit atheism as a necessary or defining causal factor in these atrocities is doing a disservice to history, politics and rational thought. It is evident that this prima facie approach to understanding what caused such genocide and atrocity is very naive, at best. That the experts in the relevant fields fail to see atheism as not even a, let alone the, driving factor is telling.

          https://www.patheos.com/blogs/tippling/2019/03/24/a-great-myth-about-atheism-hitler-stalin-pol-pot-atheism-atrocity-redux/

          As for Kim il Sung and North Korea…wise to fuck up.

          Some South Korean scholars categorize Juche as a national religion or they compare its facets to those of some religions. For instance, Juche has been compared to pre-existing religions in Korea (notably neo-Confucianism and Korean shamanism) due to their shared familiar principles. While the influence of traditional East Asian religions on Juche is widely disputed, the ideology has been thought of by several academic studies as having aspects of a national and indigenous religious movement in addition to being a political philosophy due to the following features: the presence of a sacred leader, rituals and familism. Despite the religious features of Juche, it is a highly atheistic ideology that discourages the practice of mainstream religions. This draws from Juche’s Marxist−Leninist origins. North Korea is officially an atheist state, but some argue that it maintains a cult of personality identical to a religion.

        • Alitheia

          Tell that to every one of the tens of millions of orphans and widows the world over whose loved ones were murdered by those filth . . .

        • Ignorant Amos

          That’ll be a no then. Ya can’t demonstrate that the tens of millions of orphans and widows the world over whose loved ones were murdered by those filth, were made so, because of that filths godlessness. I thought as much.

          Now, you go tell the tens of millions of orphans and widows the world over whose loved ones were murdered by those religious filth that their god orientated worldview and belief is what made them do it. Nah, a didn’t think so.

          Go and take yer head for a shite. This whataboutery apologetic doesn’t get you off the hook, even if ya could make it stand, which of course ya can’t or ya woulda done it already….ha-haa!

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          Just as soon as YOU apologize to all those 69killed, 69raped, 69mutilated by The Lord’s Resistance Army, who are fervent xtians.

          The difference is that the LRA *is* committing 69atrocities in ‘god(s)’ name, while those you condemn did NOT commit their 69atrocities in the name of *atheism*, but in authoritarian 69bloodlust.

        • Alitheia

          If Joseph Kony and the LRA are Christians then Muhammad was Jewish . . .

        • Ignorant Amos

          Another fallacy.

          The No True Scotsman sort.

          You lose.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          “Men have died and the worms have eaten them, but not for love.”

          Substitute in ‘atheism’ there for ‘love’, and you’ll be close.

          You could just as easily blame their being male, or having moustaches, or having their early education being xtian.

          You seem to be blaming the *tool* (used to denature and destroy religion as an opposition power center) for those USING the tool.

        • Alitheia

          “It was Dostoevsky, once again, who drew from the French Revolution and its seeming hatred of the Church the lesson that “revolution must necessarily begin with atheism.” That is absolutely true. But the world had never before known a godlessness as organized, militarized, and tenaciously malevolent as that practiced by Marxism.

          Within the philosophical system of Marx and Lenin, and at the heart of their psychology, hatred of God is the principal driving force, more fundamental than all their political and economic pretensions. Militant atheism is not merely incidental or marginal to Communist policy; it is not a side effect, but the central pivot.”

          ― Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

          Try again.

        • Ignorant Amos

          “It was Dostoevsky, once again, who drew from the French Revolution and its seeming hatred of the Church the lesson that “revolution must necessarily begin with atheism.”

          What a loada ballix. Fucking quote mining Christers. The French Revolution didn’t begin with atheism. There were atheist leaders in the leadership, that’s not the same. The hatred of the Catholic Church was due to its complicitness with the aristocracy and the monarchy in particular.

          This rougher sphere of his upbringing manifested itself in Dostoyevsky’s early adulthood. He became involved in a group known as the “Russian Utopian Socialists,” influenced by Belinsky, a well known literary critic. The partnership formed by the two presumably shook Dostoyevsky’s faith, as his revered mentor found that “as a socialist, he had to destroy Christianity in the first place. He knew that the revolution must necessarily begin with atheism.”7 Later, though, Dostoyevsky broke off from the specific branch of the movement, forming the Durov circle. He was arrested for “the circulation of a private letter full of insolent expressions against the Orthodox Church.”8 Evidently, he had forgotten his mother’s teachings.

          Dostoevsky was thinking as a revolutionary socialist when thinking “the revolution must necessarily begin with atheism” and viewed the French Revolution positively. Later, after incarceration and finding his Christian faith again, he came to view the French Revolution negatively.

          Rebellions and revolts have had all manner of reasons behind them, and most of them never began with atheism. Quite a lot were as a result of religion.

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

          That is absolutely true. But the world had never before known a godlessness as organized, militarized, and tenaciously malevolent as that practiced by Marxism.

          So what? They weren’t driven by godlessness…it was the communist ideology of Marxism.

          Within the philosophical system of Marx and Lenin, and at the heart of their psychology,…

          Bingo!

          …hatred of God is the principal driving force,…

          More fuckwittery. Hatred of something one doesn’t believe exits is just sheer stupidity. Hatred of anything deemed to threaten the movement was the principal driving force.

          …more fundamental than all their political and economic pretensions.

          Biased Christer crap.

          Militant atheism is not merely incidental or marginal to Communist policy; it is not a side effect, but the central pivot.”

          When it was prudent. But it was still not the reason for the atrocities carried out by the dictators in charge. That has to be demonstrated. And since the dictators in charge murdered atheists and believers alike, with impunity, if they were deemed a threat, the argument that godlessness was the reason is bullshit.

          Citing a speech by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn to Christers at an award ceremony by Christers for a Christer, still doesn’t get you to godlessness being the cause of those atrocities.

          Try again.

          See, no one is trying to defend the fact that atheists carry out atrocities. We know that already. You’ve got to demonstrate that it is no belief in the existence of gods is the reason for committing said atrocities. So far you’ve failed.

          Counter to that, we know that belief in gods has been the reason for atrocities since belief in gods was a thing. It’s in yer own holy book ffs.

        • epeeist

          Correct me if I’m wrong but weren’t Danton, Lenin, Sanger, Than Shwe,
          Stalin, Mengele, Mao, Kim Il Sung, Ceausescu, Honecker, Castro, Pol Pot,
          Broz Tito, Milosevic, Bonaparte and Mussolini oppressive, sadistic,
          democidal atheists who, collectively, murdered of helpless men, women and little children?

          Correct me if I’m wrong but none of these people committed the atrocities they did in the cause of atheism.

        • Alitheia

          You’re wrong-

          “It was Dostoevsky, once again, who drew from the French Revolution and its seeming hatred of the Church the lesson that “revolution must necessarily begin with atheism.” That is absolutely true. But the world had never before known a godlessness as organized, militarized, and tenaciously malevolent as that practiced by Marxism.

          Within the philosophical system of Marx and Lenin, and at the heart of their psychology, hatred of God is the principal driving force, more fundamental than all their political and economic pretensions. Militant atheism is not merely incidental or marginal to Communist policy; it is not a side effect, but the central pivot.”

          ― Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

        • epeeist

          Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

          You want me to accept testimony from Solzhenitsyn as evidence? I was rather hoping for things such as trial reports where people were sentenced to death for not adhering to atheism (even if it was only show trials).

        • Alitheia

          Dismissing the council of established experts as well as authorities transforms adequate skepticism into denialism. Deferring to an authority is an effective heuristic all of us employ almost every day on matters of comparatively minor significance. It is certainly not in any way irrational or even an error in reasoning to embrace information and facts as veridical by legitimate authorities.

          That’s what Flat-Earthers, Anti-Vaxxers, Geocentrists and other conspiracy theorists do.

          Try again.

        • epeeist

          First of all let’s accept that what was done to Solzhenitsyn and others who were sent to the Gulags was appalling, and that Stalin was a moral monster.

          Dismissing the council of established experts as well as authorities transforms adequate skepticism into denialism.

          Testimony is not, of course, primary evidence and hence we have to evaluate the person who is giving the testimony: Several factors can place credibility in doubt and require a separate argument to establish the evidence

          1. Is the person an authority on this subject?
          2. Is there a clear basis on which the person reached the conclusion?
          3. Does the person have a bias or vested interest?
          4. Do credible sources disagree?

          Now one would have to ask whether indeed Solzhenitsyn was indeed an authority on the subject and whether he had a bias or vested interest, having being jailed for the criticism of Stalin.

          From your other posts I see that you are demanding solid and detailed information on things like evolution, nothing wrong with that, science should provide the utmost rigour in coming to its conclusions. But it would seem that you are perfectly willing to accept the testimony of a single individual when it comes to atheism being causal in the killings by those that you list. Don’t you think you ought to accept the same requirements for your claims as you do for science?

          So, back to my original request. What documentation do you have from such things as trial reports that those who were executed were accused and convicted in the cause of atheism?

        • Alitheia

          Then there’s the fact that Lenin regarded Marxism as “absolutely atheistic and positively hostile to all religion.” -The Attitude of the Workers’ Party Towards Religion

          Hostile indeed . . .

        • epeeist

          Then there’s the fact that Lenin regarded Marxism as “absolutely atheistic and positively hostile to all religion.”

          Indeed he did, he was also a member of the League of Militant Atheists.

          Hostile indeed . . .

          I can’t see you why you are having difficulty here. You are claiming that atheism was causal in the killing of people both in Russia and elsewhere. This being so you need to provide both evidence and a causal warrant to support your claim. Surely you must have something more substantial than Lenin’s antipathy to religion and the opinion of a single individual?

        • Alitheia
        • epeeist

          The fact that your response consists mainly of a set of animated gifs means that we can assume that you can’t find any actual evidence to support your claim.

          So far we can summarise your “argument” as:

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

          But of course we can make an argument by analogy with just a few substitutions

          P1: Truman was a Christian
          P2: Truman had large numbers of people killed in the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki
          C: Truman had these people killed in the cause of Christianity

        • Ignorant Amos

          P1: Stalin Lenin was an atheist
          P2: Stalin Lenin had large numbers of people killed in his purges
          C: Stalin Lenin had these people killed in the cause of atheism

          Ftfy…not that it matters much to the point.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Repeating the same Christer’s fuckwittery won’t make it any more factual.

        • Please get back to the issues instead of focusing on your opponents.

    • Michael Neville

      In the gunman scenario, when there is really no chance of overpowering the gunman, then that would simply be just a natural step forward for the Christian.

      And to Hell, literally, for everyone else. Thank you for showing that Christianity ultimately derives from a sociopathic, sadistic god.

      • Andrew Cheng

        You referring to the gunman? A sociopathic and sadistic God would give eternal life. You are a very confused man.

        • Michael Neville

          So what’s your evidence that this thug of a god you admire so much exists? You’ve got to show that your favorite pet god is anything other than a figment of your imagination before you can pretend it does anything.

          You are a very stupid man.

        • Our case opposing Cheng is so strong that we don’t need to insult him.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          So don’t.

          Tone trolling is SO declasse, don’t you think?

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          A sociopathic and sadistic God would give eternal life to anybody sycophantic enough to suck up to it and waste the one life we’re **sure** of in so doing.

          FTFY.

        • Nonsense. If God did exist, he would give people the punishment and reward which they deserve, and it is unlikely anyone would get eternal reward.

    • HairyEyedWordBombThrower
      • Doubting Thomas

        You do realize that he thinks you’re asking for him to quote Bible verses for you, right?

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          Yep.

          Then I get to 69kick him in the *other* shin… 😉

        • Andrew Cheng

          LOL. You run out of words so fast that you have to talk about kicking? LOL.

        • Michael Neville

          Now that you’ve dropped your little turdd of wisdom, how about giving the citation you were asked for? Or is that too difficult for your puny mind to conjure up?

        • Our case opposing Cheng is so strong that we don’t need to insult him.

        • Ignorant Amos

          You do what ya like, don’t tell me what “we” need, or don’t need, to do. Tone trolling is a pain in the arse.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          True….but it’s *fun*

        • It may be fun for you, but it’s not fun for your target and many bystanders. It is unethical.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          You apparently are as bad with figurative language as you are with everything else.

          Why not just answer me with a NON-‘bible’ citation, a non *religious* citation, a REAL SCIENTIFIC citation, that demonstrates this ‘life after death’ you’re prattling about?

          I mean, 69Attacking the Messenger is a fun logical fallacy, but it’s weak and demonstrates you don’t have actual evidence.

    • Michael Murray

      Evidence for this life after death please!

    • AC: Referring to the psychopath and gunman scenario, it is utterly meaningless if there is no life after death. In fact, if there is no life after death, whether you choose to deny or not to deny, both would be meaningless ultimately.

      GW: Oh, I totally disagree. The response in the scenario is more meaningful if there is no life after death than if there is life after death. A few more years of a good life is better than nothing.

      AC: But there IS life after death.

      GW: Evidence, please?

      AC: So for the Christian who chooses not to deny, he is simply choosing not to withhold the information that there is life after death.

      GW: Nonsense. Now you are trying to change the scenario. It’s not yours to change. Stick with the original Q posed by Bob.

      AC: After all, death to him is simply a departure from his earthly body. There is a new body waiting for him. So for a Christian not to deny it but to witness it to somebody who so clearly needs to hear it is but natural for him. It is the ultimate witness. For those who believe in eternity, this life led is but smaller than a dot in the spectrum of eternity. So why give up eternity to conserve just a small little dot in that spectrum?

      GW: But your theory of God is mistaken, if he even exists. God would want you to lie in the situation posed, not tell the truth! If fact, you would be punished by God for telling the truth in this situation.

      AC: But it is different from that of the Nazis case of killing the Jews. The Jews did not receive Jesus as their Lord and Saviour. So to save them is to give them a further chance for them to receive salvation. It really is that simple. When we receive the Holy Spirit, we are empowered to see others the way God would see them.

      GW: I believe that is probably an insult to Jews. Besides, the ethical and practical response in the situation is the same for all persons – lie to live another day.

      AC: So Jesus did not resist when He was crucified on the cross. He was determined to fulfil His Mission.

      GW: Yes, he was determined to commit suicide by cop.

      AC: In the gunman scenario, when there is really no chance of overpowering the gunman, then that would simply be just a natural step forward for the Christian.

      GW: That’s better – you imply that overpowering the gunman might be a good response. It could be the best response. Depends on the calculated probability of success. But still, aside from that, you should lie to live another day.

    • But there IS life after death

      A life well described by Isaiah 65:17 and Revelation 21:4 among others of becoming basically a mindless robot (no sin = no free will) worshipping God for all eternity long after even stars had died out in the real Universe. Be careful what you wish for, knowing claim sheets are hard to come by in the afterlife and maybe either Ereshkigal or Kelemvor among many others are waiting in the other side.

      I will pray Mielikki, the Forest Queen, for you.

      The Jews did not receive Jesus as their Lord and Saviour.

      Because Jesus did not fulfill the Biblical prophecies. Yet another Fundy who shows the actual reasons why they claim to love both Jews and Israel.

    • Jim Jones

      Is it fair that Jesus died on the cross so that Adolf Hitler could go to heaven and Anne Frank would go to hell?

      Is it just that Jesus rose from the dead so that Jeffrey Dahmer could go to heaven and Carl Sagan would go to hell?

  • 3vil5triker .

    I call BS.

    First of all he doesn’t he’s actually going to die. To him, death is not the way we think about it, meaning the end one’s existence; for him dying just means waking up somewhere else and starting the next stage of life. Not only that, but he sees dying as a martyr as a surefire way to get into heaven.

    In other words, he doesn’t think he’s actually making a sacrifice; if anything he probably sees the opportunity to die for a faith as a good thing. It kind of renders the whole discussion pointless.

    • Lark62

      Not only that, but he sees dying as a martyr as a surefire way to get into heaven.

      And exactly why aren’t Christians sure they are going to heaven?

      The Bible says salvation is by faith alone. Then it says faith without works is dead. The Bible says anyone with faith as small as a mustard seed can move a mountain. But nobody can move mountains, so nobody has even faith as small as a mustard seed.

      Christians are terrified of death and in a constant state of panic about whether they are truly saved.

      This is a feature not a bug.

      • Michael Neville

        A minister once gave me a reasonable response to the conflict between “saved by faith” and “faith without good works is dead”. He said that faith is expressed by good works.

        • Lark62

          So? There is still no way for a person to know whether they have met the vague and mutually contradictory requirements for salvation. For millennia, Christians have been killing each other over arguments of who got it right.

        • Andrew Cheng

          Please tell me why it is contradictory. Who are the Christians killing each other? Or are you referring to the Catholics.

        • Michael Neville

          Ever hear of the Thirty Years War (1618-1648)? About one-third of the population of Middle Europe died in that conflict between Catholics and Protestants. How about The Troubles in Northern Ireland? Over 3,600 died and many thousands more were injured. The only reason why your Christians don’t continue to kill each other is that intelligent, moral people are keeping your bloodlust in check.

        • Michael Murray

          Hang on a second. Listen ? Can you hear that noise ? I think it’s the “no true Scotsman fallacy clomping over the plains towards us”. Yes I’m sure of it. Should be here soon.

        • Greg G.

          Sectarian violence among Christians
          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sectarian_violence_among_Christians

          Why Is There Conflict Between Tutsis and Hutus?
          https://www.thoughtco.com/location-of-conflict-tutsis-and-hutus-3554918

          But many observers would be surprised to learn that the longstanding conflict between the Hutu and Tutsi has nothing to do with language or religion — they speak the same Bantu tongues as well as French, and generally practice Christianity —

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          Interesting that you immediately rush to excluding catholics from xtianity.

          They STARTED your 69idiot club, Andie-poo!

        • Michael Murray

          The only True Christians are Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1912.

          https://www.theguardian.com/stage/2005/sep/29/comedy.religion

        • Ignorant Amos

          Not quite. But I’ll grant you trinitarian version of his idiot club.

        • Catholics are Christians, BTW. Catholics and Protestants killed each other in Ireland, right?

        • When I was a child in Catholic grade school, I was told that I was not a Christian, that I was a Catholic, and that the only people who called themselves “Christians” were hellbound heretic Protestants.

          Another thing we were told was that we should be sad that there were so few opportunities to die for the faith today and become a martyr. Those Roman Christians were sooooooooooo lucky…

        • You were told falsehoods. Of course, Catholics are Christians. Talk to philosophers of religion about this.

        • Jim Jones
        • Andrew Cheng

          Not exactly correct. It is saved by His Grace through faith. You need at least a tiny bit of faith to access the abundant Grace.
          Faith producing works is a natural thing. You dun even need to think about it. If you have to think about it to show that your faith is not dead, then I would doubt that it is true faith.

        • Michael Neville

          So how is faith measured? For that matter, why faith? Is your god so narcissistic that it needs people to believe in it? What does it matter if nobody had faith that the sadistic bully you worship exists or not?

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          That’s pure drivel, without any evidentiary basis.

          Have you no shame?

        • “True faith”? Sounds like a No True Scotsman Fallacy to me.

        • Faith is a lie unless it can be corroborated by facts.

        • JustAnotherAtheist2

          What is faith?

        • Jim Jones

          Still wrong.

        • You need at least a tiny bit of faith

          Show us how it’s done. Believe by faith in unicorns.

          And, no, no faith required: Romans 5:18-19.

        • It can be, but some people relapse into sin. Are they still saved? Is their salvation vested?

        • Jim Jones

          Making it up as they go.

          That isn’t even Christian theology. Here’s the right one.

          All will lie in the grave until the end of eternity. At that time, all will be raised and judged. When you see Jesus, you will know the truth and can accept him and be saved.

      • Andrew Cheng

        Oh….. your first sentence is really warped. You dun get saved because you died a martyr. You get saved because you have accepted Him as your Lord and saviour. You understand that there is simply nothing you can do to save yourself.

        To answer your question simply: wrong doctrine. Wrong beliefs. Erroneous understanding of the bible.

        About the fear of death among Christians, I do agree with you. Many of these Christians go and attend church but they don’t grow in the Lord. Some are simply religious with no real belief. Others dun even know how to answer unbelievers about their own faith…. then of course some are just pretending to be one. So there is definitely some truth to your statement. But common sense should tell you that they dun represent Christianity very well. Look to the Lord in His Word. Look to Him only.

        About your comment on mountain moving faith…. I really cannot help but laugh! So what do you want to see happening? One mountain moving here… and then another mountain moving there? So Christians when exercising their faith would be causing earthquakes? God is not a God creating chaos. If you look at the context in the bible when Jesus says it, He was referring to the Ministry of spreading the Gospel primarily. He was using it metaphorically. Your faith can literally move mountains, so do not be dismayed at the obstacles you (His disciples) would face in their effort to fulfil the Great Commission.

        • Greg G.

          Oh….. your first sentence is really warped. You dun get saved because you died a martyr. You get saved because you have accepted Him as your Lord and saviour. You understand that there is simply nothing you can do to save yourself.

          Do you see that the first sentence is in italics? That means something. Lark62 is quoting from the post he is replying to.

          To answer your question simply: wrong doctrine. Wrong beliefs. Erroneous understanding of the bible.

          Matthew 7:21-23 (NIV)21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’

          Nobody can know if Jesus knows them. You can only pretend that the New Testament is valid and that your interpretation is correct. Since there are ~49,000 denominations of Christianity, the only thing that is clear is that the Bible is not clear. You only have faith in your ignorance.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          You dun get saved because you died a martyr. You get saved because you have accepted Him as your Lord and saviour.

          So Hitler and Jeffrey Dahmer are in ‘heaven’, while Ghandi and Anne Frank are in ‘hell’?

          That doesn’t say good things about your ideas.

          ETA:

          About your comment on mountain moving faith…. I really cannot help but laugh! So what do you want to see happening? One mountain moving here… and then another mountain moving there?

          So you’re officially saying your ‘bible’ is lying? Interesting…sounds to me like you’re trying to shame somebody for actually demanding that xtianity live up to the hype it peddles.

        • Jim Jones

          Just use the escape clauses: Mark 13:10 (answer no) and Romans 1:20 (answer yes).

          So never let anyone tell you about the gospels.

        • If God did exist, nobody would be saved by faith, works, or grace. Everybody would be punished proportionally for their sins, no exceptions. If any god exists, Christians are just mistaken about it.

        • Jim Jones
      • Jim Jones

        Indeed.

        > The Bible says anyone with faith as small as a mustard seed can move a mountain.

        Those who claim faith like a mountain can’t even move a mustard seed.

    • Andrew Cheng

      Sure fire way to heaven cannot be dependent on what one does. In other words, there is nothing you can do to work yourself to attain heaven. Only the blood of Jesus which cleanses is when you accept Him can. Nothing else.
      No it is still a sacrifice. But he thinks that the sacrifice is nothing compared to the eternity he is about to enter to.

      Opportunity to die for a faith as a good thing? Yes and no. When Jesus journeyed in His ministry, He always kept close to the coast. Because mainly the rich own boats, being in the boat would provide a good way to get away from the masses when things went wrong. There were a few times when the people wanted to stone Him and beat Him. But yet He escaped. He didn’t want to die yet. He had yet to complete His Mission. So, running away from danger because of one’s faith is not a cowardly act. In fact, He did mention to carry swords to protect oneself.

      Sorry, I dun get why this discussion would be pointless.

      • 3vil5triker .

        You keep talking about how “the sacrifice is nothing compared to the eternity he is about to enter to”, but you’re actually making the opposite point than what you intend to. Giving away something in exchange for a better version of it, is not a making a sacrifice, its just trading up.

        In order to have a real discussion with a Christian on this topic, the question has to be reversed:
        For what reason would a Christian publicly renounce his religion, knowing it might cost them their chance at eternal salvation?

        Then we can talk about what it means to make a real sacrifice. Sometimes the most courageous act we can make is to live.

      • Jesus probably cleverly evaded the truth rather than lied. That is, until he committed suicide by cop.

      • I will pray Lurue, the Unicorn Queen, for you.

      • Jim Jones

        Jesus never existed.

    • Would the Christian lie to save himself from assignment to Hell? That might be a better analogy.

  • Michael Newsham

    So it is better to be a living dog than a dead lion? What of those Germans who didn’t support Hitler- better to say “Long live the Fuhrer” and agree that Jews are scum. Those silly Uighurs in concentration camps- all they have have to is accept the Party, give up their beliefs, and they can live normal lives.
    It’s one thing to lie once to save yourself from a madman- how about every day?

    • Doubting Thomas

      all they have have to is accept the Party, give up their beliefs,

      That’s the whole point of the situation is that the people don’t have to give up their beliefs. They just have to say they did. And the god that they claim to believe would know that they were just lying to protect themselves.

      • Andrew Cheng

        I think it is the loss of that identity that makes it pointless for them to want to live.

        • Michael Neville

          If you’re in that big a hurry to get to heaven then why don’t you commit suicide to get into Jesus’ arms sooner? After all, Jesus wants you with him so why wait?

        • If God did exist, he would not want you to commit suicide.

        • Michael Neville

          You know this how?

        • Jim Jones

          He made it up. Until Diocletian, most stories of Christian persecution were as false as they are today.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          Actually, committing suicide being a ticket to ‘hell’ was a later addition, according to the historians of xtianity…because so many of the poor and downtrodden were becoming xtians and then offing themselves to go to their great reward, which was seriously decimating xtianity’s numbers.

        • In fact, once Christianity became the Roman Empire’s official religion, hundreds of people, deprived of official persecution, committed suicide and were honored as martyrs. The preferred method was jumping off some high place.

        • From a historical perspective, you could be correct. But I was approaching it from a philosophical one. What would God want if he really did exist?

          I am an atheist.

        • I’ve also seen claims of most of them looking for a death as martyrs those early days before they got the upper hand, hoping they’d be the first to come back from the dead when Jesus came.

          I’ve to say I often find that exaggerated but if in this world, where except on nasty places as North Korea and the like where persecution is real they’re ignored or at worst reprimanded for showing their “love” for others as well as the science they dislike, they complain about prosecutions in those long-gone times with a culture so different to ours and when they were a minority that is likely to have happened even if not at large scales. Maybe.

        • Chuck Johnson

          God-the-fictional-character really does exist.
          What he wants is what the religious leaders need Him to want.
          It’s very ad hoc.

        • Does any fictional character really exist? I think that stretches the meaning of “really exists” too far. But I understand your point.

          Religious leaders imagine that if God did exist, he would want exactly what they wish him to want. But I usually think that he would want something different, something consistent with his nature.

        • Chuck Johnson

          Fictional characters are human inventions.
          Inventions are ideas.
          Inventions and ideas both exist.

          Human ideas exist as cultural artifacts and as patterns of matter and energy within the human brain.

          Fictional characters continue to have a huge impact on the development of human cultures.

        • I disagree with just one of these claims — “ideas…exist within the human brain.” They don’t. If you think otherwise, then find one of these ideas in the brain, extract it, and display it to us. I think you are making a category error here.

          Also, when you say that fictional characters “really exist,” that is misleading. That would mean that Superman “really exists.” I have seen no good evidence that he does. I know what you intend, but I think you are stating it poorly.

          Finally, this side discussion is pretty far off the original topic.

        • Chuck Johnson

          “Also, when you say that fictional characters “really exist,” that is misleading.”

          If that’s all that I said, that would be misleading, but I explained in more detail than that.
          You ignored the extra detail that I provided in order to show that you are right and I am wrong.

          You have engaged in the politics of deceit.

        • Ignorant Amos

          You have engaged in the politics of deceit.

          That is not an isolated incident of said deceit with Gary unfortunately.

        • Your statement was misleading in context and out of context, either way. No deceit on my part. I didn’t hide anything.

        • Chuck Johnson

          Now, you are lying in an attempt to show that you are right and I am wrong.

        • I disagree. I am not lying. I believe your statement was misleading and I told you why. If you disagree, that’s ok.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Gary will do that.

          God-the-fictional-character really does exist.

          Which clearly means that God really exists as a fictional character, if nothing more. If it didn’t there would be no conversation about it.

          Fictional characters exist, just not in the physical sense.

          Lot’s of abstract phenomena exist as concepts and ideas, just not physically.

          An abstract object is an object that does not exist at any particular time or place, but rather exists as a type of thing—i.e., an idea, or abstraction.

          I think Gary gets into semantics and hung up on his definition of words being definitive to the conversation at all others expense.

          Existence is the ability of an entity to interact with physical or mental reality.

        • Chuck Johnson

          “Which clearly means that God really exists as a fictional character, if nothing more. If it didn’t there would be no conversation about it.”

          Yes.
          Saying that God does not exist is an exaggeration and an overstatement.
          This tends to divert or shut down the conversation.

        • Chuck Johnson

          “I disagree with just one of these claims — “ideas…exist within the human brain.” They don’t.”

          It has been well known for many years by scientists that emotions and ideas exist within the brains of humans and other animals.

          Engaging in the politics of ” Is so ! . . . Is not ! ” arguments is quite inappropriate to examine this scientific question.

          Go study some science.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Individual ideas are created in minds in brains as abstract phenomena. Therefore they exist in brains as part of that mind. They can then be transported via various mediums to other brains minds. Where they can then coexist with other ideas in the same mind, and the mind the idea originated within.

          The category error is yours. You might as well be suggesting that I cut an electric cable so that I can demonstrate you the electricity pour out the end in the form of ohms, watts, and resistance. That can’t be done, but no normal person will deny electricity exists in the energised copper cable. Stick your tongue on the end of a 415 volt cable and prove me wrong.

        • Chuck Johnson

          “Does any fictional character really exist?”

          Yes, but their embodiment is different from the flesh-and-blood embodiment that living humans have.

        • They aren’t “embodied.” They have no bodies. Show me Superman’s body.

          I know what you mean, but I think you are expressing your point in a misleading and philosophically inaccurate way.

        • Chuck Johnson

          Try the dictionary.
          Look up embodiment.
          Stop pretending that you know words that you really don’t know.
          I am an inventor.
          I know what “embodiment” means.
          I know what “preferred embodiment” means.

          You are ignorant enough to not know these things, and arrogant enough to pretend that you do know.

        • I disagree. Sometimes even inventors make misleading statements, as is the case here.

        • Alitheia
        • Jim Jones

          Danes killed to get killed

          Eighteenth century suicide candidates were afraid to take their own lives because the church said doing so would send them straight to hell. So they had to find another way out.

        • Alitheia

          That was Lutheranism, not Christianity.

          Try again.

        • Jim Jones

          Whoosh!

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          When did ‘lutherans’ cease to be ‘xtians’?

          And provide evidence for your assertion.

        • Alitheia

          With the code of conduct he supplied his loyal ones, Christ drew a bright line and then announced that absolutely everyone on the other side is not a Christian.So wholly devoted to this code would these be that all non-Christian world-views/conduct would be effortlessly recognized. (Malachi 3:18 cf. Titus 1:16)

          These preach the gospel, and if necessary, use words.

          Meaning that, just as we are able to distinguish genuine legal tender apart from Monopoly money, any sincere person can make a distinction between a Christian and an Anti-Christian (Satanist).

        • Ignorant Amos

          That’s not my Christianity, my Christianity is the trooooo Christianity…Jocks [Scottish folk] and porridge anyone?

        • Ignorant Amos

          Fallacies, fallacies, every comment there’s a fallacy…you lose.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          Fifth Century, St. Augustine, The City Of God

          Here’s a link:

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

        • Alitheia

          “Wikipedia is not a reliable source.” – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Academic_use

          Try again.

        • Ignorant Amos

          “Wikipedia is not a reliable source.”

          Spoooiiiing! Bwaaaaahaaaahahaha! Then ya go and cite a wikipedia page, irony is lost on you knuckle-dragging Christers.

          Wikipedia is reliable enough if ya know how to use it properly.

          I see that’s not you though, ya daft bastard.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wi

          I know it must be difficult for ya, but try reading your own citation for comprehension, it will prevent ya looking so simple.

          In the meantime…

          Augustine addresses what some later thinkers have argued is the deepest issue about suicide for the Christian tradition as a whole, the tension between the promise of a personal afterlife and the wrongness of seeking death to achieve it. If Christian belief promises a heavenly afterlife for those without sin, but one is always at risk of sin while in the body in this life, why wouldn’t the believer commit suicide to reach that afterlife, just after confessing, repenting, and receiving absolution for all previous sins? Augustine’s reply to this question becomes definitive for virtually the entire remainder of the Christian tradition: suicide is a worse sin than any that can be avoided by it. It cannot be, so to speak, as later thinkers might call it, a shortcut to heaven.

          https://ethicsofsuicide.lib.utah.edu/selections/augustine/

          Try not to be so fuckin’ stupid again.

        • Ignorant Amos

          From HEWBT’s wiki citation….

          https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/suicide/#ChrPro

          Try again….using that amoeba sized organ between yer ears next time.

        • Doubting Thomas

          The person isn’t giving up their identity. They’re lying. Lying to save their life. It’s not even close to the same thing.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          It would only be a ‘loss’ of ‘identity’ if the denial was sincere…and a better identity can form, as many ex-religious can tell you.

      • Great response there, Thomas.

    • Well, you could lie to save your life that day, and then join the rebellion. That would make more sense than telling the truth that day.

    • Save a life. Lie if you have to in order to do so. To agree with Hitler69 was to kill, or condone killing, but if an SS officer stopped you in the street? Damn69 straight you said “Heil Hitler69” and saluted. You’d be a pretty bad resistance fighter if you stood up and proclaimed it, would you not? And Uighers aren’t being given any choices at all, simply rounded up and sent to concentration/reeducation camps.

      Unlike for you, this isn’t (wasn’t) theoretical for Spanish Jews in the Inquisition. Many of them converted falsely in order to survive; many of them moved to Mexico. The marranos kept so many of their Jewish traditions alive that they were welcomed to Israel as Jews hundreds of years later, but they lied and said they were Catholic; they lied to the government, they lied to their neighbors, and eventually, their children didn’t realize exactly what the truth was because it had gone on so long. And they were celebrated, for surviving and for keeping the traditions alive both. Is that not better than having all those people, and their descendants, die?

      In other words, if lying will save you or others and won’t hurt you or others, then you have a moral obligation to lie. Period. It gets more complicated when lying may save some but hurt others, but hard choices are hard, and this hypothetical situation isn’t. When the option is lie and make God angry, or tell the truth and die, then you lie and you lie some more. You live, and you deal with blasphemy later. If you’re Christian, you just be very sorry about it and God forgives, yeah? Like, wipe your feet on the “Oops mat”, say a prayer, maybe pray a rosary if you’re Catholic, and you’re done? You’d choose to die to avoid doing that?

  • Lord Backwater

    Off-topic: another item for the Origin of Life file:

    Life on Earth probably originated in deep-sea vents and aliens could be growing the same way now, scientists suggest
    For the first time, the researchers succeeded at creating self-assembling protocells in an environment similar to that of hydrothermal vents. They found the heat, alkalinity and salt did not impede the protocell formation, but actively assisted it.

    • Michael Neville

      Life on Europa is possible.

    • Alitheia

      If the experiment’s conditions represent a supposed prehistoric earth, whom do the scientists who engineered the experiment represent?

      • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

        Scientists TESTING A HYPOTHESIS.

        That is all…

        • Alitheia

          If that’s true then the experiment’s engineered conditions were not, in fact, representative of a prehistoric Earth.

  • performing and arbitrary procedure to save your life is not a test of your faith.

    It is not a test. It is an act of faith. It is a testimony of faith.

    Contrary to what Bob implies, life is not the biggest issue. Our military men and women are committed to giving their lives if necessary for the sake of the nation. (This is Veterans Day, so the example.) For a Christian, life is not an issue at all. We do not see being killed for being a Christian as a choice between life and death. There is no death. It is a choice between life and LIFE. And a momentary dying because we are Christians is a choice to testify to that truth.

    • Michael Neville

      I’ve never understood why faith is such a big deal. You have faith in your god for the simple reason that you not only don’t have the slightest bit of evidence that it exists but you know you don’t have evidence. As Pseudo-Paul explained: “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” (Hebrews 11:1 NIV) The epistle-writer is admitting that faith is based on hope and wishful thinking. Over the millennia theists, realizing that there’s zip point zero evidence the figments of their imaginations actually exist, have convinced themselves that hopes and dreams are a virtue.

      • Why is faith a big deal? That’s a great question. I can tell you why it is for me; you’ll have to ask other Christians for their reasons.

        It connects me to God and completes life for me. It is not simply believing God exists, though if you don’t believe that, trusting God makes no sense. Believing that God exists really requires no faith (Soren Kierkegaard notwithstanding). It is not based on hope and wishful thinking. The evidence is perfectly adequate. So faith or believing (same word in Greek) is about trusting the God you have come to know does exist. That is where faith takes over. Related to the scenario Bob lays out, I trust what God said through Jesus. See John 11:25,26

        “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; 26 and whoever lives by believing in me will never die.

        So dying by a shooter targeting Christians – or by any other means – is meaningless. I will not die. I will simply find myself alive in another realm. There might be momentary pain, but that will be forgotten. Life goes on.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          It connects me to God and completes life for me.

          If only you understood how pitiful and pathetic a picture you’re painting of your worldview and life.

        • Michael Neville

          We both know that sooner or later we’re going to die. Because there is absolutely no reasonable, reliable evidence that any sort of afterlife exists, I realize that when I die I’m going to go back to the state I was in before I was born. You wish and hope, based on nothing but what people afraid of death have told you, that you’re going to have pie in the sky when you die. “Mommy, I’m afraid of dying!” “Don’t worry Don, the magical sky pixie will kiss you all better so you can stop being afraid.” How pathetic is that?

          Believing God exists depends entirely on faith because there’s no evidence that your god, along with all the millions of other gods dreamed up by human imagination, exist. If you had evidence that your god exists then you’d be throwing it at me instead of writing platitudes and giving citations from a 2000 year old collection of myths, fables and lies.

        • DC: Why is faith a big deal? That’s a great question. I can tell you why it is for me; you’ll have to ask other Christians for their reasons.

          GW: Faith is a big deal for Christians. Their belief cannot survive without it, and most are indoctrinated early in life.

          DC: It connects me to God and completes life for me.

          GW: I disagree. If God did exist, faith would disconnect you from God and would leave your life incomplete. If God did exist, he would expect you to renounce faith, not embrace it! It would constitute a dishonoring of the rational faculties given to you by God.

          DC: It is not simply believing God exists, though if you don’t believe that, trusting God makes no sense. Believing that God exists really requires no faith (Soren Kierkegaard notwithstanding).

          GW: This is nonsense. Of course, believing that God exists requires faith, if you use the definition presented in Hebrews 11:1 NIV. What is your definition of “faith”?

          DC: It is not based on hope and wishful thinking.

          GW: Of course, it is based on hope and wishful thinking.

          DC: The evidence is perfectly adequate.

          GW: Nonsense. Of course the evidence is not adequate to conclude that God exists, beyond a reasonable doubt, or even on the lesser standard of the preponderance of the evidence. If you think otherwise, present your BEST piece of evidence for the existence of God, and we’ll take a look at it.

          DC: So faith or believing (same word in Greek) is about trusting the God you have come to know does exist.

          GW: Faith is not the same as believing! Two different concepts. You do not know that God exists. Nobody knows that. However, you can trust in a fiction. For example, some people pray to God, which is trusting in a fiction.

          DC: That is where faith takes over. Related to the scenario Bob lays out, I trust what God said through Jesus. See John 11:25,26

          GW: You believe by faith not only that God exists but that the verses in John 11:25,26 are true. But faith is a vice, not a virtue.

          DC: “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; 26 and whoever lives by believing in me will never die.

          GW: I don’t know why any person today in the 21st century, thinking rationally, would believe such a claim.

          DC: So dying by a shooter targeting Christians – or by any other means – is meaningless. I will not die. I will simply find myself alive in another realm. There might be momentary pain, but that will be forgotten. Life goes on.

          GW: So, you would not lie in the situation described by Bob. That’s irrational and unethical, and would be against the wishes of God, if he did exist.

          GW: What should anybody do in the situation described by Bob? If you can disarm and restrain the one with the gun with a low probability of anyone getting hurt, do so. If not, lie and escape. After you escape, call 911, provide as much information as possible, and help others escape, and help anyone wounded. Don, what you fail to appreciate is that if you lie you have a better chance of saving your life and OTHERS’ lives than if you tell the truth. Don’t think just about your own little life or death. That’s rather selfish.

        • You are welcome to your opinions, Greg. I think otherwise.

          Faith is a regular and necessary part of life. We trust what other people tell us all the time. When I come to a road sign that warns of a flooded road ahead, I believe it and take care. You would be a fool not to. I dare say that you yourself believe some things about origins and the nature of reality. (We call it a worldview.)

          So if you believe in a wholly natural cause to the universe, what is it? And what is the evidence? Since there is no non-debatable evidence that I know of you must be taking by faith the speculations of someone.

          Reasons for believing in the existence of God:
          1) The universe. It is fine-tuned to an extraordinary degree given the alternative of random chance.
          2) The people of Israel. It is very unexpected that a small group of people could survive what the Jews have endured for 3500 years and yet continue to exist as a distinct people, even as a distinct nation.
          3) The Bible. Stand back and look at the whole book. It is a single story with all the characteristics of a story. Yet it was written over as much as thousand years by dozens of different authors who were not writing a cohesive and unified story. Yet they did. As a student and teacher of literature for many years, that is extraordinary to a huge degree. I know of no other piece of literature or anthology anywhere in history like that.
          4) My own personal experience with God.
          5) Prophecy. No one cannot tell the future like the Bible does.
          6) Jesus. He is the most extraordinary person in history. Those who knew him in life called him the Son of God. His resurrection is the cap on that argument. Who else has ever emerged from death alive and in a different though the same body? Yet that is what people who were there claim.

          Taken all together. that is more evidence for God than you have for a wholly natural universe.

        • MR

          Please don’t confuse Greg with Gary. It’s an insult to Greg and it annoys the pig.

        • Chuck Johnson

          I have seen this before.
          Don is a confused guy.
          His comments consist of memorized talking points from his Christian studies.

        • Michael Neville

          You are conflating two types of faith. One is faith built on experience. We’ve all seen warning signs and found the warnings to almost always be valid. So we have faith that the warnings are about real problems because we have real evidence to support that faith.

          The other type of faith is the faith you have that your imaginary, fictitious, non-existent god does exist. It’s not based on experience, it’s based on your desires and hopes. Evidence has nothing to do with your faith in your god. If you had evidence you wouldn’t need faith.

          99.999 recurring percent of the universe is hard vacuum at 3K. That’s hardly conducive to life as we know it. The universe isn’t fine tuned for us, we’re fine tuned for the African savannah of half-a-million years ago (with some minor modifications since then). Nope, fine tuning is not evidence that your pretend god is anything but a figment of iron age priests’ imaginations.

          We (and we includes you) don’t know how the universe came about. “We don’t know” is much more honest than “the universe was created by an Iron Age tribal god.” In the early 19th Century astronomer Pierre-Simon Laplace gave a copy of his book on the origin of the solar system to Napoleon. When asked why there was no mention of God in the book Laplace answered: Je n’avais pas besoin de cette hypothèse-là. (I had no need of that hypothesis.)

          The Australian aboriginals have lived as a more or less unified group for the past 50,000 years. There is genetic and linguistic evidence that the Basques have survived as a group for at least 8,000 years (some scholars put the origin of the Basques back 16,000 years). Similarly, the Ainu are believed to have lived on Hakkodio for at least 5,000 years.

          The Bible is a collection of myths, fables and lies promulgated by Hebrew priests who designed their religion to give them jobs with power and riches and no heavy lifting. Christianity is a heretical off-shoot of 1st Century Judaism with its own collection of myths, fables and lies. The Bible has been edited, translated, redacted, emended, censored, revised, and generally mucked about with over the centuries by different groups of people with different agendas. The only people who accept it as evidence are Christians. You don’t accept the Quran, the Vedas, the Book of Mormon or the Tripitaka as “holy books”, a moment’s thought will show why non-Christians don’t accept the Bible as a “holy book”.

          EDITED to correct minor typos.

        • Michael. It’s [faith] not based on experience, it’s based on your desires and hopes.
          Evidence has nothing to do with your faith in your god. If you had
          evidence you wouldn’t need faith.

          I can’t speak for others, but for me faith was initially based on trust in the message and the confirmation of the Holy Spirit. Neither of those are desires and hopes. I had no desires or hopes because I had no idea what the hopes of a believer were. I waned life to make sense, and I was convinced by the Holy Spirit that God made sense out of life.

          Michael. 99.999 recurring percent of the universe is hard vacuum at 3K. That’s hardly conducive to life as we know it.

          That is non sequitur. It means nothing related to this discussion. It is the percent left over that is important. But the fact is that all the universe is probably required for life to exit. It is the process of star death and reformation of the elements created in the stars that makes life possible. It is the mass of the universe that allows the universe to exist for long enough for that process to come to the point that there are enough heavy elements for life to exist.

          Michael. The Australian aboriginals have lived as a more or less unified group for the past 50,000 years.

          I suppose this is an argument against a young earth and for evolution. But I am not a Young Earth Creationist. I believe in evolution. And I don’t think it proves anything one way or another about the existence of God.

        • Michael Neville

          for me faith was initially based on trust in the message and the confirmation of the Holy Spirit.

          So your faith is based on what the voice in your head told you. There’s a psychological term for that.

          That is non sequitur. It means nothing related to this discussion

          You’re the one who brought up fine-tuning. I was just pointing out that the fine-tuning argument is fecal material straight from the bull’s rectal orifice. Implicit in the fine-tuning argument is the belief that the universe was created with humanity in mind as its ultimate end product. Therefore, those advocating this view must not only make the case for a universe fine-tuned to allow for the existence of atoms, molecules, stars, and life; they must argue that the universe was tailored specifically for humans. Hence, the fine-tuning argument cannot be successfully made without simultaneously making a cosmological case for human exceptionalism. This is hubris and the deepest flaw in the argument.

          I suppose this is an argument against a young earth and for evolution.

          You suppose incorrectly. It was a rebuttal to your contention: “The people of Israel. It is very unexpected that a small group of
          people could survive what the Jews have endured for 3500 years and yet continue to exist as a distinct people, even as a distinct nation.” That the Jews have remained a unique culture despite the Diaspora is an interesting topic. That a magic sky pixie had anything to do with survival of the Jewish culture is disproved by the complete and utter lack of effort on the part of your god to stop the Holocaust. But then imaginary critters are well known for being ineffectual.

        • I am constantly amazed how mere human atheists think they are smarter than God.

          The holocaust was horrific for the Jews as well as for everyone else in Europe. It did accomplish one thing, however. It sent the Jews back to their homeland. After 1900 years. It made them a nation again.

          The Jews have suffered greater losses if you measure by the percentage of the population. And they survived as a people. Interesting, don’t you think? Especially since it was predicted 3500 years ago that the people of Israel would survive all efforts to destroy them

          BTW what is wrong with seeing that the universe was created with us in mind? Is that any different than seeing that humans are the apex of creation here on earth? And we are aren’t we? Is there any other creature on earth capable of what we are? Either for good or evil. I think it is false humility to claim otherwise, and it sidesteps the responsibility that goes with it.

        • Doubting Thomas

          I am constantly amazed how mere human atheists think they are smarter than God.

          That’s because you are clueless about what it means to be an atheist. I am smarter than god just like I am a better toy maker than Santa. Existence is required for intelligence, though, as you show, not a guarantee.

          The holocaust was horrific for the Jews as well as for everyone else in

          Europe. It did accomplish one thing, however. It sent the Jews back to

          their homeland.

          What’s a few million dead Jews when Biblical prophecy is on the line. It all works out in the wash. Mysterious ways. Mysterious and evil, evil ways.

          BTW what is wrong with seeing that the universe was created with us in mind?

          Well, besides the obvious fact that it wasn’t…..nothing.

        • Michael Neville

          I am constantly amazed how mere human atheists think they are smarter than God.

          It’s not difficult to be smarter than something that doesn’t exist. Try it sometime, you’ll amaze yourself. Start small by thinking yourself smarter than pixies, then go to thinking you’re smarter than brownies, then leprechauns, then other small imaginary creatures, then think you’re smarter than fictional children, and gradually work yourself up to larger and grander imaginary beings and finally realize that you’re smarter than your imaginary god. It’ll take some effort on your part, but you can do if you’re smart enough.

          It made them a nation again.

          The Jewish homeland was established in 1917 by the Balfour Declaration. Learn some history, that’ll help you not to look ignorant in discussions with people who do know history.

          The existence of the Jewish culture says nothing about whether or not your or any other gods exist. But I do appreciate that, unlike so many other Christians, you’re not antisemitic.

          BTW what is wrong with seeing that the universe was created with us in mind?

          It’s hubris, overconfident pride, usually misplaced. Do you have the slightest idea of how large the universe is? It’s estimated that there are over two trillion galaxies in the observable universe, each with billions of stars and planets. Do you think that the creator of all that cares about which sports team wins games or what consenting adults do in bed? You are not the center of the universe.

        • Michael. You are not the center of the universe.

          How do you know, Michael? Not literally and physically, of course, but we are it seems at the center of God’s attention and plan.

          Now, the universe is huge. We agree on that. And it may be there are other intelligent beings in the universe. The Bible doesn’t eliminate that possibility. Logic doesn’t eliminate that possibility. If the universe produced us, it could produce others. But the statistics are definitely against it. And more importantly, that possibility does not change the fact that we are the apex of living things on this planet. We have the ability both intellectually and physically to manage for good or for ill this world. We have a spirit that apprehends God allowing us to have this conversation about God. And from my perspective, we are so by God’s design.

        • Michael Neville

          we are it seems at the center of God’s attention and plan.

          You honestly think that the creator of a universe so large that it takes light traveling at 186,000 miles per second some 93 billion years to cross cares about you? You are the epitome of arrogant hubris. I’m surprised that you find the space to fit a god into your overweening ego.

          If the universe produced us, it could produce others. But the statistics are definitely against it.

          Pure supposition on your part. But let’s not get sidetracked.

          Just by biomass alone humans are the most numerous mammals on this planet. And so what? As long as we have CHRISTIAN idiots like the Trumpistas (note that I am not claiming Trump is a Christian because he isn’t) denying climate change then we show we’re unfit to “rule” this planet. And guess what, your imaginary god isn’t doing anything to change the mind of your fellow Christians. Of course that’s not surprising, since your god doesn’t exist.

        • Jim Jones

          > Just by biomass alone humans are the most numerous mammals on this planet.

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/660118b6606789478c7fb04951fe51af5143f9663ac9ea9386d1b6b5f444774c.png

        • Michael Neville

          I didn’t know that there were that many cattle in the world.

        • Jim Jones

          All farting methane.

        • Ignorant Amos

          And more importantly, that possibility does not change the fact that we are the apex of living things on this planet.

          Not this religious fuckwittery AGAIN!

          Apex in what way? Apex of fucking the place up?

          Humans just 0.01% of all life but have destroyed 83% of wild mammals

        • Jim Jones

          > but we are it seems at the center of God’s attention and plan.

          Of course you are, because your god is yourself.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          we are it seems at the center of God’s attention and plan.

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/e4f3150ef1736a97f38e5331eec815059a13ac6a27961f02da4b1e26161c6dbf.jpg

          Your ‘bible’ doesn’t count as evidence.

        • Every citation would be an opinion. There is no way measure God’s attention. But you probably knew that already.

          In which case the Bible does way in with an opinion, one I value.

          As far as you and I go personally, we are both loved by God. We are both made in God’s image. God sent his Son to communicate himself to us. He was willing to take the just punishment of our failures and sin upon himself. For not other creature that I know of is all of that true.

          Whether there are other creatures in the universe enjoying the same attention from God, I do not know. It is possible. But that would not take away from the fact that we are the center of his attention.

          All of this is opinion, of course. But that we are capable of knowing God personally, that we can read and hear and understand his communication with us, that we are aware of our estrangement from God and need for reconciliation is unique among all the other creatures on this planet. That may be considered evidence.

        • Ignorant Amos

          The verbal diarrhea is dribbling again.

        • Jim Jones

          > The Jewish homeland was established in 1917 by the Balfour Declaration. Learn some history, that’ll help you not to look ignorant in discussions with people who do know history.

          The Portage to San Cristobal of A.H. is a 1981 literary and philosophical novella by George Steiner. The story is about Jewish Nazi hunters who find a fictional Adolf Hitler (A.H.) alive in the Amazon jungle thirty years after the end of World War II.

          The book was controversial, particularly among reviewers and Jewish scholars, because the author allows Hitler to defend himself when he is put on trial in the jungle by his captors. There Hitler maintains that Israel owes its existence to the Holocaust and that he is the “benefactor of the Jews”.

        • Alitheia
        • Michael Neville

          I’m a high functioning autistic (Asperger’s Syndrome in my case) and I’m an agnostic atheist*. So what?

          *I’m also a pedant so I must tell you that atheism and agnosticism are not proper nouns and so don’t need capitalization.

        • Alitheia

          I’m a high functioning autistic (Asperger’s Syndrome in my case) and I’m an agnostic atheist*.

          Which is consistent with my experience with the overwhelming majority of Atheists I’ve interacted with.

          In contrast, the neurotypical are predominantly theistic/spiritual: http://csjarchive.cogsci.rpi.edu/proceedings/2011/papers/0782/paper0782.pdf

        • Michael Neville

          You dropped a non sequitur into a discussion. Then you sneered at a joke you didn’t understand. What is your point, other than to make a completely unsubstantiated claim?

        • Alitheia

          Funny thing about questions. When you ask one you typically get an answer.

          Now, if only there were a way for you to stop that from happening . . .

        • Michael Neville

          Yes, I asked a question, one which you not only refused to answer but seemed proud about your refusal.

          Do you have a point to make or are you just dropping semi-intellectual turdds on this blog?

        • Alitheia

          What question do you feel I’ve refused to answer?

        • Michael Neville

          Read my previous comments to you. I’ve asked you twice what the purpose of your non sequitur is. Twice now you haven’t answered it. Why did you make the claim that agnostics and atheists tend to be autistics?

        • Alitheia

          Why did you make the claim that agnostics and atheists tend to be autistics?

          Becuase Science: http://csjarchive.cogsci.rpi.edu/proceedings/2011/papers/0782/paper0782.pdf

        • Michael Neville

          That still doesn’t answer the question about WHY are you making the claim. You’ve blown me off three times now, that tells me that you’re just trolling us. So here’s an additional question, why are you trolling?

        • Alitheia

          The scientific evidence pointing to the link between the neurological disorder known as ASD and Atheism is to shine a light on your contempt for all things spiritual.

        • Jim Jones

          And thus autism causes vaccinations!

        • Alitheia

          These kinds of things you say wouldn’t be as comical if your part of the debate had a tad more cohesion, development and direction, imho.

        • Jim Jones

          It’s a shame you are humorless.

        • Ignorant Amos

          And are clueless.

        • MR

          Probably because they’re not as influenced by emotions and social convention like we are with religion.

        • Alitheia

          Rather, similar to their lack of empathy and social awareness, their struggle with making and sustaining friendships, their inability to infer the thoughts, feelings, or emotions of others, either gazing too intently or avoiding eye contact, their lack of interest in socializing/making friends, their unchanging facial expression, or use of exaggerated facial expressions, their lack of use or comprehension of gestures, their inability to perceive nonverbal cues or communications, their disregard for interpersonal boundaries, their abnormal sensitivity to noises, touch, odors, tastes, or visual stimuli, their inflexibility and over-adherence to or dependence on routines and their stereotypical and repetitive motor patterns such as hand flapping or arm waving, their lack of spirituality is a result of the tragic neurological deficiencies they were born with- http://csjarchive.cogsci.rpi.edu/proceedings/2011/papers/0782/paper0782.pdf

          (https://www.additudemag.com/screener-autism-spectrum-disorder-symptoms-test-adults/)

        • MR

          Nah, they just see through the religious bullshit easier.

        • Alitheia
        • MR

          I don’t know what facts you think you have, don’t really care. Regardless, believing in silly myths is a sign of gullibility.

        • Alitheia

          What an odd thing to say . . .

          If I may, do you have ASD?

          (https://www.additudemag.com/screener-autism-spectrum-disorder-symptoms-test-adults/)

        • MR

          Nope. Lived most of my life believing and came to realize it was all a myth. Why do you believe? Or were you indoctrinated since childhood? You sound like you were indoctrinated.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          It made them a nation again.

          The Jewish homeland was established in 1917 by the Balfour Declaration. Learn some history, that’ll help you not to look ignorant in discussions with people who do know history.

          IIRC, Hebrew was also a dead language, and today’s pronunciation is educated speculation? Not sure that counts as being a continual ‘nation’.

          Just a thought.

        • Ignorant Amos

          I am constantly amazed how mere human atheists think they are smarter than God.

          Ah, incredulity at its finest.

          There are believers that think they are smarter than God. They keep waffling on about how we can’t know the mind of God. It’s beyond the realm of we mortals. It’s all a mystery. Then they go on to claim knowledge about Gods wants and needs.

          See, here’s the thing…we don’t believe in your imaginary being anymore than you believe in gods of any other religions. Because like them, yours too is a pile of antiquated nonsense compiled by folk who didn’t know where the sun went at night, in order to give their people a cultural background.

        • Jim Jones

          > There are believers that think they are smarter than God.

          And claim we can trick god.

        • Jim Jones

          > BTW what is wrong with seeing that the universe was created with us in mind?

          Because that is the Queen of stupid ideas. We can’t even get to the universe.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          I am constantly amazed how mere human atheists think they are smarter than God.

          I *do* consider myself smarter than evidence-free delusions.

          Don’t you? Don’t you consider yourself smarter than Rama, Set, Odin, etc?

        • Well, Hairy, I don’t know what wisdom Rama, et al. had to share with human beings. Maybe you do. If so, maybe you could share with us.

          God has been free with sharing his wisdom: love one another as we love ourselves; submit to one another; to give is more blessed than to receive; faithfulness is a virtue, avoid hypocrisy; tell the truth to one another, and such simple but profoundly relationship changing things. So, let’s hear from Odin.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          I can’t speak for others, but for me faith was initially based on trust in the message and the confirmation of the Holy Spirit. Neither of those are desires and hopes.

          So…a naive emotional reaction with zero evidence, purely subjective.

          Gotcha.

        • I don’t think you have been listening. I’ve gone way beyond that. But I also wonder if you are thinking at all about how you have come to believe what you believe.

          You no doubt believe the earth is a globe. How did you come to believe that? In all probability you told that as a child and learned in in school. You did npt personally do the observations that brought people to believe it. You probably were not even aware of the observations when you first were introduced to this fact. BUT EVENTUALLY YOU WERE.

          If you are an atheist, you probably are also a believer in a wholly natural universe. Yet you have no actual proof that it is. Yet you believe it. (I personally think that a wholly natural universe is a failed hypothesis and the least likely alternative to a God who created it. )

          My point is that belief begins almost always with no evidence and rests on the credibility of the one who told you it was so. That is subjective. Sometimes it remains no more that trust in someone who says it is so, like Naturalism. So putting faith in God is a different category really is not really accurate.

          *******************
          EDITED
          There is one more thing to consider. Physical and material things will have physical evidence that can be measured. Abstract concepts are not physical and will have no direct physical evidence. There might be indirect evidence, like a diamond ring. Physical things and abstract concepts are in different categories.

          A non-material being – if there is such – would also not have direct physical evidence. There might be indirect evidence, but to demand direct and measurable physical evidence for either an abstract concept or a non-material being is foolishness. But a non-material being just as in the case of an abstract concept can have indirect evidence which can be measured.

        • DC2: You are welcome to your opinions, Greg. I think otherwise.

          GW2: Don, you are welcome to your opinions also, but my name is “Gary” not “Greg.”’

          DC2: Faith is a regular and necessary part of life.

          GW2: For you and others it is a regular part of life, but it is not a necessary part of life for anyone. We can live quite well without it.

          DC2: We trust what other people tell us all the time. When I come to a road sign that warns of a flooded road ahead, I believe it and take care. You would be a fool not to.

          GW2: You are confusing faith and trust, and they are not the same thing. Your example illustrates the use of reason, not faith. Reason entails belief in alignment with the evidence, and in this case the road sign is relevant evidence. If you were operating on reason, you’d be wise to turn around. If you were operating on faith, you’d probably pray and drive on ahead. People have died doing that. Of course if you don’t care about dying now, you might drive right ahead.

          DC2: I dare say that you yourself believe some things about origins and the nature of reality. (We call it a worldview.)

          GW2: All persons have a worldview, articulated or not. But none of that worldview needs to be based on faith.

          DC2: So if you believe in a wholly natural cause to the universe, what is it? And what is the evidence? Since there is no non-debatable evidence that I know of you must be taking by faith the speculations of someone.

          GW2: I don’t believe that there was a cause to the universe, so the “if” here does not apply to me. Nobody should accept the speculations of someone on faith! Faith is a vice, not a virtue.

          DC2: Reasons for believing in the existence of God:

          GW2: Thanks for trying. So many theists won’t even touch that subject on this website.

          DC2: 1) The universe. It is fine-tuned to an extraordinary degree given the alternative of random chance.

          GW2: You are making unwarranted assumptions here 1) that the universe could be basically different than it is. There is insufficient evidence to draw that conclusion. 2) that if the universe could have been different, it was caused to be one way rather than another way by a Tuner. Also insufficient evidence for that.

          DC2: 2) The people of Israel. It is very unexpected that a small group of people could survive what the Jews have endured for 3500 years and yet continue to exist as a distinct people, even as a distinct nation.

          GW2: This is not unexpected, and even if it were, it wouldn’t be evidence for God. Natural causes are a better explanation for this.

          DC2: 3) The Bible. Stand back and look at the whole book. It is a single story with all the characteristics of a story. Yet it was written over as much as thousand years by dozens of different authors who were not writing a cohesive and unified story. Yet they did. As a student and teacher of literature for many years, that is extraordinary to a huge degree. I know of no other piece of literature or anthology anywhere in history like that.

          GW2: One group of authors wrote over maybe 900 years (OT) and then another group of authors wrote over maybe 100 years (NT). Some were probably writing fiction and others were probably writing what they believed to be history, philosophy, or politics. So, they followed the same general story line, so what? I don’t find that particularly surprising or amazing. It certainly does not require that the contents to be true or that God exists.

          DC2: 4) My own personal experience with God.

          GW2: You mean your own personal experience with the IDEA of God. God does not exist, so you must be misinterpreting or misunderstanding your own experience in life. But please share that ONE experience which you believe best points to the existence of God.

          DC2: 5) Prophecy. No one cannot tell the future like the Bible does.

          GW2: There are many good natural explanations for these alleged “prophesies.”

          DC2: 6) Jesus. He is the most extraordinary person in history. Those who knew him in life called him the Son of God. His resurrection is the cap on that argument. Who else has ever emerged from death alive and in a different though the same body? Yet that is what people who were there claim.

          GW2: I think Abraham Lincoln was the most extraordinary person in history, so that is just a matter of personal opinion. If people called Jesus “the Son of God,” then they believed the same as you do, but concordance or popularity of belief is no guarantee of truth, as you know. The evidence that Jesus came back to life is too weak and insufficient to conclude that he did. What people claimed two thousand years ago is not necessarily true, as you know. I believe that Jesus probably existed, but was in no way divine or supernatural.

          DC2: Taken all together. that is more evidence for God than you have for a wholly natural universe.

          GW2: I’m sorry, Don, but that is just nonsense. 6 X 0 = 0. None of the points you presented here is good evidence for God’s existence. I don’t know that the universe is “wholly natural.” I just know that neither you nor anybody else has presented sufficiently good evidence, reasons, or arguments to establish the existence of God. But you are welcome to try again.

        • Zeta

          Hi Don,

          You have been peddling the same stale, unsalable goods over at Debunking Christianity over the last 3 or 4 years until John Loftus could no longer tolerate your nonsense and asked you to leave (to put it politely) about 6 months ago. It has been obvious that you have built yourself an impenetrable cocoon. All the counter-arguments to your comments have no effect because you keep parroting the same garbage. You knew that your so-called arguments could not convince any of the regular commenters there yet you persisted. I have put it to you, more than once if I remember correctly, that your aim was not to convince atheists but to try and save a few souls from among the silent readers who have doubts about their “faith”. As far as I know, you have neither admitted nor denied this.

        • Hello, Zeta. One of my objectives, once I got to know what atheists believe, has been to correct from a Christian point of view the misunderstandings and misstatements made on the blogs. I do not expect to convince any of the regular commenters. Reasonable discourse does seem to have value if we are to understand each other. If that includes any silent readers of whom I am not aware, so be it. But I am not targeting those readers. I am speaking to you.

        • Jim Jones

          You don’t know Christian theology.

        • See my reply to nydiva, Jim.

          If I don’t know Christian theology, there are few who do. I have an graduate degree from a rather fundamental biblical seminary where, at least in that day, the Bible and theology were taught, along with the tools of independent biblical research such as Greek and Hebrew. Bible study and theology were are the heart of the curriculum.

          I’ve pastored two fundamental and evangelical churches and traveled in the circles where excellent biblical theologians regularly spoke. I taught subjects like Old Testament Survey, New Testament Survey, The Gospel of Matthew, Romans, Historical Theology, et al. I have taken Bible courses from liberal professors at well known universities and at the other end of the spectrum have read widely journals like Bibliotheca Sacra. I have over 60 years experience as a Christian. I do not know it all, but there is little I have not encountered.

        • Jim Jones

          > If I don’t know Christian theology, there are few who do.

          True dat. And those who know it don’t talk about it. The majority of theists have a fluffy delusion and don’t like even ‘real’ religion.

          The gospels are pure myth, no more realistic than the 50 Shades books. They were written 300 years after the supposed events, not in Aramaic but in Greek, for Greeks, by Greeks. They are pure Greek paganism.

          http://pocm.info/

        • I think you need to do more research, Jim. The Old Testament books have a different history than the New Testament books. The OT was for the most part written in Hebrew, and we have Hebrew texts (the Dead Sea scrolls) written in Hebrew and some as old as the third century B.C. Small portions of a few of those books were written in Aramaic.

          They were translated into Greek some about 200 B.C. and we have that translation. It is called the Septuagint.

          The NT was written entirely in Greek. We have pieces of manuscripts copied from earlier sources as early as the mid-second century. There are thousands of fragments and manuscripts of the NT texts written in Greek as well as various other languages in use in the first couple of centuries A.D.

          Later Christian thinkers were fascinated by some of the Greek philosophers, Plato in particular, and saw in them a similarity to the scriptures. During the middle ages Plato did have some influence on Christian thinking and theology. But the differences are far greater than the affinities.

          The authors of all the NT books except the Gospel of Luke and Acts were Jews, not Greeks. But all, with the exception of the Gospel of Matthew, Hebrews and James, were directed primarily to Greek speakers or gentile readers. But that is not the same as “for Greeks.” New Testament theology is quite different from anything the Greeks believed. Christians considered the Greek gods to be pagan myths and strongly wrote against paganism, as did defenders of Judaism. It would be truly surprising if any Jewish orthodox writer or Christian writer would adopt anything from pagan world.

          That’s a brief sketch of the origin and history of the scriptures and theology. There is much more, so I suggest if you are really interested that you look beyond one source. Read both all sides of the debate.

        • Ignorant Amos

          I think you need to do more research, …

          Spoiiiiingity, spoiiiing, spoiiiiing, spoiiiiiiiiiiing!

        • Jim Jones

          > The authors of all the NT books except the Gospel of Luke and Acts were Jews, not Greeks.

          Nope. The authors were Greeks, like Paul. They would not have gotten so much wrong if they were Jews.

        • They would not have gotten so much right if they were anything other than Jews. Please give attention to the actual experts in this field. Try someone like Dr. Bart Ehrman, an agnostic and a professor of biblical history.

        • Jim Jones
        • Ignorant Amos

          We have pieces of manuscripts copied from earlier sources as early as the mid-second century.

          No we don’t. We have pieces of mss that might be from the mid-second century. And what they’re copied from is anyone’s guess.

          There are thousands of fragments and manuscripts of the NT texts written in Greek as well as various other languages in use in the first couple of centuries A.D.

          Citation?

          The authors of all the NT books except the Gospel of Luke and Acts were Jews, not Greeks.

          We don’t know that at all. The only books of the NT that can be safely assigned an author are the genuine Pauline corpus. Who wrote the rest, when and where, is speculation.

          But all, with the exception of the Gospel of Matthew, Hebrews and James, were directed primarily to Greek speakers or gentile readers.

          We don’t know that either.

          But that is not the same as “for Greeks.” New Testament theology is quite different from anything the Greeks believed. Christians considered the Greek gods to be pagan myths and strongly wrote against paganism, as did defenders of Judaism. It would be truly surprising if any Jewish orthodox writer or Christian writer would adopt anything from pagan world.

          Where do you pull this shite from? Even Christians are aware that the Pagan world influenced Christianity ffs.

          https://www.ucg.org/vertical-thought/paganism-in-christianity

          The Jews got their religion from the Pagans. Yahweh is first mentioned in Egypt. The Jews were polytheistic until the time of King Josiah. Archaeology proves this aspect of the developing culture.

          It was only at the very end of the First Temple period, during the reign of King Josiah (the second half of the 7th century B.C.E.) that the cult objects of Asherah were taken out of the Temple, quite dramatically. There are quite a number of references to Josiah’s monotheistic reforms, such as:.

          https://www.haaretz.com/archaeology/.premium.MAGAZINE-when-the-jews-believed-in-other-gods-1.6315810

          That’s a brief sketch of the origin and history of the scriptures and theology.

          And it is erroneous crap.

          There is much more, so I suggest if you are really interested that you look beyond one source. Read all sides of the debate.

          Spooooiiiiing! Another Christer that doesn’t do irony too well. Ya need to take some of yer own medicine, that God Virus has made ya delirious.

        • Amos. The Jews were polytheistic until the time of King Josiah.

          The Jews were polytheistic after the time of Josiah. It cannot be said that the Jews were free of idols. That is hardly news, however. It is part of narrative of the Old Testament as far back as Moses. But worship of Yahweh was also part of their life. Josiah was standing within sight of the temple of Yahweh when he read the words of the Book of the Covenant to the people. It was a priest of Yahweh who brought the book to Josiah.

          The fact is that Israel and Judah were both led away into idolatry from the time that they came into Canaan. The whole force of the judges’ and prophets’ messages from shortly after Joshua was against the mixing of the worship of Yahweh with the Canaanite gods.

          It was not until the Jews returned to the land after the Babylonian captivity that they could be said to be free of mixing idol worship with the worship of Yahweh. But then their captivity was intended by God to eradicate idol worship from their life.

          But that does not mean Yahweh was not the God of Israel.

        • Ignorant Amos

          The Jews were polytheistic after the time of Josiah.

          Ah, but it wasn’t until the time of Josiah that they weren’t supposed yo be. The problem is, that the claim is, ant the buybull asserts, that they were monotheistic at least five centuries earlier. Ergo, the buybull is made up mythical nonsense.

          It cannot be said that the Jews were free of idols.

          Again, that is besides the point. The claim is monotheism from the get go.

          That is hardly news, however.

          Ahem…I think you’ll find that it really is news to most folk. Bart Ehrman says that finding out this sort of stuff is a deal breaker for many entering seminary.

          It is part of narrative of the Old Testament as far back as Moses.

          You misrepresent the narrative. The narrative is that worshipping idols is taboo and YahwehJesus will fuck ya up for it. The truth is, that narrative is a loada ballix made up centuries after the supposed time of the narrative setting. It’s all mythological crap.

          But worship of Yahweh was also part of their life.

          So what. The claim is that worship of YawehJesus was the end all and be all, when in fact, it wasn’t. You are following a lie.

          Josiah was standing within sight of the temple of Yahweh when he read the words of the Book of the Covenant to the people.

          Absolute ballix. Josiah turned the temple into the temple of YahehJesus and had the “Book of the Covenant” made up.

          It was a priest of Yahweh who brought the book to Josiah.

          Nope. Try harder.

          The fact is that Israel and Judah were both led away into idolatry from the time that they came into Canaan.

          Except the evidence just doesn’t support that rubbish. It’s just a made up story that gullible idiots have bought into for centuries.

          The whole force of the judges’ and prophets’ messages from shortly after Joshua was against the mixing of the worship of Yahweh with the Canaanite gods.

          Nope. More unsupported yarning.

          It was not until the Jews returned to the land after the Babylonian captivity that they could be said to be free of mixing idol worship with the worship of Yahweh.

          That’s as may be, but the claim is that the Hebrews were monotheistic from the 13th century BCE and that’s just not the case at all.

          But then their captivity was intended by God to eradicate idol worship from their life.

          Nope. Stop lying. It wasn’t idol worship anymore than YahwehJesus worship was idol worship. The time of Josiah was when other gods worship was being curtailed.

          But that does not mean Yahweh was not the God of Israel.

          It means YahwehJesus was just one of the gods of the Hebrews until favouritism promoted him to thee god of the Hebrews. That isn’t the story propagated by the book or the one taught to most Christians. Which is dishonesty…even if it is by omission.

        • I don’t know where you are getting the idea that the Israelites were monotheists from the get go. Certainly not from the Bible. Abraham came from a polytheistic family and culture. Even if you don’t believe he narrative, it would be hard to deny that the culture of the early 2nd millennium was monotheistic.

          Likewise the Hebrews brought the idols of Egypt out of Egypt with them in the exodus. And in the period of the Judges the people of Israel were into adopting the religion of the Cananites. That mixing of Yahweh worship and the religions of the Cananites was the primary condemnation of Israel by the prophets.

          The idea that the temple was constructed as a temple for the worship of Canaanite gods is also unsupported by the biblical text. So maybe you could provide some hard evidence to support that assertion. I would be interested in hearing it. I have asked almost everyone who espouses this idea for evidence and have never been provided anything but speculation. So something from archaeology or some textual evidence from that period would be appreciated.

        • Greg G.

          I don’t know where you are getting the idea that the Israelites were monotheists from the get go. Certainly not from the Bible.

          Yes, from the Bible. Bob wrote an article which points out Old Testament verses with the polytheism still showing.

          Polytheism in the Bible
          https://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/2013/02/polytheism-in-the-bible/

        • Amos. Even Christians are aware that the pagan world influenced Christianity…

          Yes, of course, Christmas, Easter, etc. But neither of those were taught in the Bible. They were added primarily by he Catholic Church in an attempt to turn pagan holidays into Christian holidays.

          In fact, there are no new holidays instituted by any apostolic writer. Even Sunday worship in not officially required as a holy day. Many Christians did meet on the first day of the week in recognition of the resurrection. But many also continued to meet on the Sabbath. In fact, in both Romans and Colossians that even the Old Testament holy days were not required and were a shadow of the reality which was Jesus and the new order of worshiping in spirit and truth. Whatever a Christian decided was unto God was acceptable. (That did exclude pagan worship.)

          So the article on paganism in Christianity is right IN LATER CHRISTIANITY but not in the New Testament.

          So why do Christians celebrate Christmas and Easter? They do because today there is no association of those holidays with paganism, and they both do recognize a genuine Christian event.

          The association of the tau and Chaldean influence with the cross is silliness. The Romans did use a cross as well as a stake. (The Greek word means literally a stake but was used for either type of execution.) Though the Chaldeans did have a cross as symbol, a cross is used in any number of different applications in both the ancient and modern world. None of those imply borrowing.

          It should be said, however, that the actual word in NT Greek is “stake” and not “cross.” And that has Jewish connotations rather than Chaldean because the OT says “cursed is one who is hung on a tree” (Galatians 3:13 and Deuteronomy 21:23.) It should be noted that Paul is referring to Jesus’ crucifixion.

          So if you have a beef with the symbols and holidays, those all come later in the history of the church and not from the New Testament.

        • nydiva

          If I don’t know Christian theology, there are few who do

          If anyone is interested in a wonderful smack down of this self proclaimed Bible teacher, please go to Debunking Christianity and type in Don Camp in the search button. Don was the subject of several posts where his “Christian theology” was routinely debunked. Unfortunately, Delusional Don is a troll for Jesus. But I guess even a troll for Jesus can serve a purpose by demonstrating the false claims of Christianity. One hardly needs to be a bible scholar to discover the resurrection is a myth.

        • Now, that should be interesting.

        • nydiva

          Yes, that’s why I suggested it. Folks will become familiar with your MO and save themselves the trouble of reading your special pleading.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          I have an graduate degree from a rather fundamental biblical seminary

          School, year of matriculation, and year of graduation, or that’ll be entered as one more falsehood on the rolls of your mendacity.

        • nydiva

          Hello, Zeta. One of my objectives, once I got to know what atheists believe, has been to correct from a Christian point of view the misunderstandings and misstatements made on the blogs….

          First, there is no one Christian point of view. There are as many Christian point of views as Christians. Christianity is all over the map when it comes the nature of god, salvation, prayer and so forth. Second, most of the atheists on atheist blogs are former Christians and have a better grasp on Christianity than your “make it up as you go” theology. Third, despite your best intentions, you weren’t correcting anyone. You were simply engaging in evangelistic special pleading. And as time went on and your lame apologetics was debunked, you abandoned any pretense in having a reasonable discourse as evidence by your disregard for John Loftus’ house rules.Thus, he had to banned you from Debunking Christianity. So when you tell an atheist about your imaginary friend’s grand plan, you are not speaking to them. You are simply talking to yourself.

        • The interesting thing, ny, is that though there are different expressions of Christianity only one seems to be known and experienced by most atheists whom I’ve encountered on blogs. That expression is what I’d call fundamental literalism. That is becoming a smaller and smaller part of Christianity, at least here in America. Yet it is predominantly the experience of many if not most who describe themselves as former Christians.

          I am not puzzled by that. I once heard a Texan Southern Baptist describe the experience and biblical knowledge of most SBC people in Texas as a mile wide and an inch deep. That includes Dr. Tim Sledge whose book John or someone else alluded to over on debunkingchristianity.

          The praise was so high that I was curious, so I bought the book and read it. Sledge was a rising star in his denomination and pastored a large and growing church. He had all the credentials of an excellent education and a well known family in that circle. But as I read I wondered if he had ever really gotten it.

          The reasons for his doubt and eventual exit from the church and the faith were typical of what I’ve heard others say, but I expected a bit more from someone who had been a Christian for so long. I found, however, that what he was troubled by were issues that most people in his place with his education and, I presume, knowledge of the Bible would have encountered and solved long before they became pastors and, if I can say this without offense, “stars” as Christian pastors and leaders. (If interested you can see my reaction on https://biblicalmusing.blogspot.com/2019/11/dont-check-your-brain-at-door.html )

          So if Sledge is representative of former Christians including you all, I don’t think you have a better grasp of Christianity than I do or than mot educated and thoughtful evangelical Christians have. You have one rather narrow view, and few have bothered to examine their former faith beyond that. Instead they make their narrow experience into a straw man argument against faith, the Bible, and Christians. So bringing a new perspective to the table can’t really be harmful, can it?

        • Susan

          I don’t think you have a better grasp of Christianity than I do or than mot educated and thoughtful evangelical Christians have. You have one rather narrow view, and few have bothered to examine their former faith beyond that.

          I have to disagree. I have spent years playing whack-a-mole with christians who make many claims, many of them contradictory.

          You seem to be claiming that an agent exists who cares only about humans and who became human on earth. If I’m wrong, correct me. I don’t want to attack a strawman. (Although, in many cases, it is not a strawman, it might be a strawman version of your argument.)

          If I’m wrong, tell me what you’re claiming and how you support it.

          If I’m right, provide support for that claim.

          I can’t bear another round of being accused of not understanding “sophisticated” and “nuanced” arguments.

          They’ve all led no where.

          =====

          Edit to add 2 minutes later:

          bringing a new perspective to the table can’t really be harmful, can it?

          I haven’t seen you provide a single new perspective. Can you point out where you have?

          That’s not sarcasm. It’s a genuine request.

        • nydiva

          The interesting thing, Delusional Don is that you are rather well know for accusing atheists of having a limited knowledge of the Bible because we dare to challenge your peculiar twist on Christianity.

          You are rather infamous (at least on Debunking Christianity) for attempting to change the damming meaning of a story (e.g, god killing David’s newborn son, etc.) when it suits your purposes. So it’s no surprise to those familiar with your games that you inject Dr. Sledge’s de-conversion story into this conversation to make a broader point about other atheists.

          So if Sledge is representative of former Christians including you all…

          Yes, the No True Scotman fallacy. Your favorite straw man. According to you, Dr. Sledge obviously never really had an encounter with Jesus or the true and living god. Well, neither have you but unlike Sledge you are still delusional. And no, Dr. Sledge is not representative of me and from what I’ve read, most of the atheists here know way more about the Bible than you do.

          I found, however, that what he was troubled by were issues that most people in his place with his education and, I presume, knowledge of the Bible would have encountered and solved long before they became pastors and, if I can say this without offense

          Regardless of how you say it, it is still condescending and demonstrates your arrogance and ignorance. You obviously fancy yourself a spiritual authority on all things Christian which you ain’t.

          So bringing a new perspective to the table can’t really be harmful, can it?

          But you don’t bring a new perspective to the table. You haven’t said anything that hasn’t been said in the last 2,000 years. Remember when you challenged Dr. Hector Avalos, a bonafide Biblical scholar with outdated research you found on Google? Nor have you have said nothing new in your repeated defense of the failed Second Coming or the failure of prayer. It’s the same old, same old. And you always fall back on personal experience when challenged for objective evidence of the supernatural. Stop kidding yourself. You bring nothing new to the conversation.

        • You are welcome to your opinion, ny, but what ever you think of me I at least bring a new perspective and inspire a lot of conversation. I find that interesting even if you don’t. Without someone like me, bloggers and commenters end up preaching to the choir and patting themselves on the back. I would think that would get old after a while. On my own blog I have had people who wrote in contradiction to my opinions. I have no problem with that. It is interesting.

          The easy alternative to my troubling ideas is to ignore me. You are welcome to do that if you wish.

        • nydiva

          You are welcome to your opinion, Delusional Don, but what ever you think of atheists at least we bring a new perspective and inspire a lot of conversation about the mythology of Christianity. I find that interesting even if atheists don’t understand Christianity like you do. And without atheist blogs, troll for Jesus like yourself would have no audience because few visit your Christian blogs where commenters end up preaching to the choir and patting themselves on the back. I would think that would get old after a while, don’t you? On atheists blogs we have Christians people who wrote in contradiction to our opinions. I have no problem with that as long as they ain’t trolling like you do. Having a discussion is interesting; someone preaching at us is not.

          So the easy alternative to our troubling atheists ideas is to ignore us. You are welcome to do that if you wish.

        • Jim Jones

          I like to poke Christianity with my finger. It always turns out to be tissue paper thin. When the wind blows, you hear it whistling through all the holes.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          One of my objectives, once I got to know what atheists believe, has been to correct from a Christian point of view the misunderstandings and misstatements made on the blogs.

          Assertions won’t do it.

          Bring *evidence* or watch your drivel be mercilessly mocked here, too, until you cease to be an amusement, become an active annoyance, and likely find yourself banned here, too.

        • Ignorant Amos

          It has been obvious that you have built yourself an impenetrable cocoon.

          It’s the God Virus…he has it severely.

          All the counter-arguments to your comments have no effect because you keep parroting the same garbage. You knew that your so-called arguments could not convince any of the regular commenters there yet you persisted.

          So it’s not just here where he keeps hitting the “Reset Button”?

        • Pofarmer

          the level of ignorance there is just astonishing.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          As is the *willfullness* of the ignorance.

        • Ignorant Amos

          1) The universe. It is fine-tuned to an extraordinary degree given the alternative of random chance.

          The universe is as much “fine tuned” for black holes as it is for human beings.

        • nydiva

          Reasons for believing in the existence of God

          LOL. There you go again. I remember first reading this nonsense on Debunking Christianity just before the blog host kicked you off from repeating yourself ad nauseam. You obviously don’t have evidence for your religious belief, just reasons for your from religious mania.

          Prophecy. No one cannot tell the future like the Bible does.
          Besides, the failed Second Coming where Jesus predicted he would return soon (soon: definition: in or after a short time.), Rationalwiki does a fairly good job of pointing out some failed Biblical prophecies. Check it out. Enjoy.
          https://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Biblical_prophecies

          6) Jesus. He is the most extraordinary person in history. Those who knew him in life called him the Son of God. His resurrection is the cap on that argument. Who else has ever emerged from death alive and in a different though the same body? Yet that is what people who were there claim.

          Was Jesus the most extraordinary person in history? We know very little about “those” who knew this Jesus. So what if they called him the Son of God if they did. That doesn’t prove a resurrection happen. Only that some anonymous folks believed it did.

          Really Don, your so-called evidence is laughable and pathetic. Still I’m glad you have posted this because it demonstrates the mythology of your beliefs.

        • Jim Jones

          Gods are impossible, Jesus never existed and the bible is fiction from the first page to the last.

        • Damien Priestly

          Hmmm…the Muslims say Mohammed, not Jesus is the most extraordinary person and the best Prophet. Also, the Quran is the most amazing book. Ditto fo the Hindus-Vedas, also Buddha and the Sanskrit scriptures…Confucius and Mencius in China, etc. etc..

          Jesus, if real, was illiterate, why didn’t God send a son with a brain in his head?. The Bible is actually pretty incoherent. That is why it is completely in the eye of the beholder for meaning.

        • Greg G.

          Luke 4:17-19 has Jesus reading Isaiah 61:1-2 in the synagogue in Nazareth. But the version he reads is from the Septuagint. The Hebrew version does not have “recovery of sight for the blind.”

          But a synagogue in early first century Galilee? With a Septuagint?

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower
        • Connie Beane

          If a Christian sincerely believes, that dying is meaningless, that “I will not die. I will simply find myself alive in another realm,” why not commit suicide and move on to that wonderful existence? As it happens, some early Christians took precisely that tack, and their leaders rushed to tell them that they shouldn’t do that, that suicide was a sin! My late father-in-law, who was a physician, used to say that in his experience, his most die-hard, church-going, Christ-believing patients weren’t any more ready to die than the sinners.

        • Why not commit suicide? Because God has a purpose for us to complete AND we want to leave the date of our death and the events leading up to our death in his hands.

          I cannot speak for others, but for myself, I was very close to death for about a week this summer. I was totally at peace with dying or living. As it turns out I lived. But like most who have had an intense experience of God in a near death experience, I have no anxiety about dying. I know what it is like, and it holds no fear for me.

        • Doubting Thomas

          I was very close to death for about a week this summer.

          Did you go to a hospital?

        • Ignorant Amos

          If he did, It was in God’s purpose that he did. Fuck all to do with the medical staff that he made it. Others have more confidence in God’s purpose and resort to the power of intercessory prayer.

        • Greg G.

          Why not commit suicide? Because God has a purpose for us to complete AND we want to leave the date of our death and the events leading up to our death in his hands.

          Who are you to say that God’s purpose for you is to not commit suicide to prove to non-xtians that you are eager to get to heaven? It seems like a personal conceit to stick around as if you are claiming that God has some other purpose.

        • Greg. Who are you to say that God’s purpose for you is to not commit suicide
          to prove to non-xtians that you are eager to get to heaven?

          It has been a very long standing conviction that taking one’s own life violates God injunction not to murder and it takes into our hands what belongs only in God’s.

        • Our lives belong to us. Call them a gift from God, if you must, but they’re a gift–they’re ours now.

        • Ignorant Amos

          That rule is a 5th century fudge to stop folk taking the fast track to what they think is Heaven. See, there’s not much revenue return from a corpse, and how long will a religion filled with lemmings jumping off the cliff, last for without such a rule.

          In the fifth century, St. Augustine wrote the book The City of God, in it making Christianity’s first overall condemnation of suicide. His biblical justification for this was the interpretation of the commandment, “Thou shalt not kill”, as he sees the omission of “thy neighbor”, which is included in “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor”, to mean that the killing of oneself is not allowed either. The rest of his reasons were from Plato’s Phaedo.

          See, the problem with this theory is that YahwehJesus has no real issue with killing. Including the killing of neighbors. The OT is riddled with him doing it, or ordering it done, or helping with the getting of it done.

        • Greg G.

          According to the Bible, the penalty for murder is the same as the penalty for picking up sticks on the wrong day of the week. God sends plagues that kill thousands as a temper tantrum because he is mad at one person. Your god thingy seems pretty indifferent to his follower’s lives.

        • The Jack of Sandwich

          Notably the person he was mad at was not among the people he killed.

        • Ignorant Amos

          So many souls sent to the mixer right outta the womb. In such suffering manners too. All part of God’s mysterious plan. A purpose complete.

        • Ignorant Amos

          I have no anxiety about dying. I know what it is like, and it holds no fear for me.

          You may have no anxiety or fear of dying, but you certainly don’t know what it is like, otherwise you’d be dead.

          Lot’s of Christians are shitting themselves about dying. The anxiety and fear is in large part because they might not have been good enough to get into the happy place. You, on the other hand, seem well confident you are getting to the happy place. You seem to know the criteria ahead of time.

          Pascal’s Wager again.

        • Pofarmer

          To parphrase Mark Twain. “I was dead for billions of years, and was not inconvenienced by it in the least.:”

        • BlackMamba44

          My man’s nephew got Leukemia at 13 and died (after getting a bone marrow transplant) a few weeks before his 18th birthday. What was God’s purpose for him to complete?

        • Jim Jones

          The Danes found a way around that.

        • Greg G.

          Life is pleasant. Death is peaceful. It’s the transition that’s troublesome. –Isaac Asimov

          Although the time of death is approaching me, i am not afraid of dying and going to hell or (what would be considerably worse) going to the popularized version of heaven. I expect death to be nothingness and, for removing me from all possible fears of death, i am thankful to atheism. –Isaac Asimov

        • JustAnotherAtheist2

          If I can commit suicide despite it being against god’s plan, can’t anyone do anything? So why do we assume anything going on now is in god’s plan? Couldn’t it have all gone off the rails centuries ago?

        • God has given human beings moral freedom. That is why individuals can act contrary to God’s purpose for individuals. God has, however, a larger purpose for the world. That purpose has been accomplished to date despite the failure of some individuals because of the obedience of others.

          One of those world purposes is to proclaim the gospel throughout the world. That is very nearly completed.

          Another is to bless the world through the sons of Abraham. And that also has happened. Do a little search for Jews who have made significant contributions to science, the arts, education. Wiki has a list. But you could probably list some of the better known: Albert Einstein, Gerald Schroeder, Iksak Pearlman, Barbra Streisand, et al.

          In every field Jews have excelled in numbers far beyond the percentage of general populations engaged in the same fields. See http://jewishvirtuallibrary.org/medicine
          given their very small numbers, the Jews are the most remarkable people in the world. Did they set out to be? Likely not. But God’s purpose for them proceeds without their intentional participation.

        • JustAnotherAtheist2

          You didn’t answer any of my follow up questions, so I’ll bring them down to this comment.

          [Given our free will to defy him] why do we assume anything going on now is in god’s plan? Couldn’t it have all gone off the rails centuries ago?

        • Chuck Johnson

          “The evidence is perfectly adequate.”
          For the gullible, the ignorant. dishonest and the indoctrinated.
          People believe lots of false things, this is commonplace.

        • Don Camp

          Hi Chuck. I’ve listed the evidence for the existence of God a number of times, but maybe once more. Remember that God and abstract concepts are both in different categories from physical thing, so the evidence will be indirect.
          1) The universe. It displays purpose and design from the fundamental laws to the end product, us.
          2) The people of Israel. God made a promise to preserve Abraham’s family and make them a blessing for the whole world. That has happened despite more than one attempt to destroy Israel and the Jews over their 3500 year history.
          3) The Bible. It is a single story written over 1000+ years by dozens of authors who were not writing in collusion. That the Bible exhibits the coherence and unity it does, along with the story structure it does, is unique in the history of literature.

          4) Jesus. He too is unique, at least in ancient literature.His deeds and his teaching stand out 2000 years later as world shaping. His resurrection seals his message that he is the Son of God.

          5) No other alternative to God when it comes to explaining the world or the cosmos makes sense.

          6) Personal interaction with God by millions and millions of people over 4000+ years.

        • Greg G.

          1) The universe. It displays purpose and design from the fundamental laws to the end product, us.

          If you start with your conclusion only. If you start with any other conclusion, or no conclusion at all, it looks like there is no purpose or design with nothing but complexity from simplicity.

          2) The people of Israel. God made a promise to preserve Abraham’s family and make them a blessing for the whole world. That has happened despite more than one attempt to destroy Israel and the Jews over their 3500 year history.

          It looks like there was no Moses nor anything like the Bible stories preceding the Exodus. The Hebrews were just another Canaanite group who wrote a fictional backstory.

          3) The Bible. It is a single story written over 1000+ years by dozens of authors who were not writing in collusion. That the Bible exhibits the coherence and unity it does, along with the story structure it does, is unique in the history of literature.

          It’s mostly fiction. The most truthful parts of the Old Testament is political spin. The New Testament began as correspondence about a fantasy.

          4) Jesus. He too is unique, at least in ancient literature.His deeds and his teaching stand out 2000 years later as world shaping. His resurrection seals his message that he is the Son of God.

          The epistle fantasy with borrowed Greek fiction to flesh out the fantasy.

          5) No other alternative to God when it comes to explaining the world or the cosmos makes sense.

          The Argument from Incredulity fallacy.

          6) Personal interaction with God by millions and millions of people over 4000+ years.

          Confirmation bias. Your warm, fuzzy feelings are evidence of gullibility and wishful thinking.

        • Chuck Johnson

          You are listing prepackaged Christian facts that have been developed over centuries.
          The Muslims, Hindus, Jews, Scientologists, and all other deceivers have their own lists of proof that their favored superstitions are really true.

          You keep on showing us your inability to think logically, along with your eagerness to promote Christian dogma and traditions as being true.

          You don’t like to think.
          You like to repeat and recite.

        • Don Camp

          These are the best evidences for God no matter how often you’ve heard them. Novel is not always better,especially when so many have given thought to the question.

        • Chuck Johnson

          The best evidences available are not necessarily good evidences.
          You have shown us repeatedly that you have trouble thinking rationally, scientifically and empirically.

          Many of the people who have given extensive thought to the question are people who have been brainwashed and indoctrinated.
          This is a very poor path to discovering the truth.
          Brainwashing and indoctrination can lead to just about any kind of belief, no matter how outlandish the belief might be.

          Novel is not always better.
          Traditional is not always better.
          Scientific, logical, rational empirical thinking and investigating have a track record of revealing the truth and communicating the truth.

          Morality based upon truth and rationality is better than morality which is based upon ancient stories, miracles, superstitions, obedience to authority, etc.

          Ancient morality is being replaced by newer morality which is superior.

        • Doubting Thomas

          These are the best evidences for God no matter how often you’ve heard them.

          You are correct.

          It’s also true that the “best evidences for god” suck no matter how often you repeat them.

        • Susan

          1) The universe. It displays purpose and design from the fundamental laws

          How so?

          to the end product, us.

          No reason to see “us” as the “end product”. You’re merely asserting it.

          2) The people of Israel.

          Nope. No reason to think a god explains the survival of the descendants of Israel. Another mere assertion.

          The Bible.

          Written by humans. One of many “sacred” books. It’s not very coherent or unified. It looks exactly like a cobbled together tradition written by humans. Worth preserving for that reason. But nothing supernatural about it.

          Jesus.

          There is nothing particularly special about the Jesus characters.

          No other alternative to God when it comes to explaining the world or the cosmos makes sense.

          Of course there are. But you haven’t defined what you mean by “God” and explained how it does anything to “explain” the world or the cosmos.

          “Goddiddit” is not an explanation. It does not address the evidence or the gaps in the evidence. It’s another mere assertion.

          Personal interaction with God by millions and millions of people over 4000+ years.

          People have believed in gods, ancestors, and ghosts all over the globe. There is nothing special about yours, nor does believing in gods make any of them real.

          People have believed in curses, goblins, fairies, vampires and countless other things and believe they’ve had personal interactions with them. That doesn’t make it so.

        • Chuck Johnson

          “Believing that God exists really requires no faith. . . ”
          Everyone believes that God exists.

          God, to me, is an ancient story and a fictional character.
          This God does not think.

          Apparently you believe in a God who thinks.

        • The Jack of Sandwich

          So you think your life has no value? You don’t think you will ever accomplish anything worthwhile? Make life better for anyone else?
          You don’t think the world would be better if you lived than if you died?

          I never had such a pathetic view of life, even when I was a Christian.

        • I th ink my life has great value. I think I and every human being was made for a purpose. I think that I and every human being can accomplish great things. I hope and pray that my life may make life better for others.

          But sometimes, like a soldier on the battle field making the world better may require my giving my life to that cause. I would not seek out someone to shoot me. But if the issue was to renounce everything I’ve lived for for the sake of one more day of life, it seems like a poor bargain.

        • The Jack of Sandwich

          As I said, in this case your death would accomplish nothing. You’re not dying for a cause, you’re dying for literally nothing, making the world a worse place.

          Even if you believe in God, your death doesn’t help anything, and means you can’t serve him on Earth any longer. Why would God prefer you die in this case?

        • Zeta

          Don Camp: “every human being was made for a purpose.”

          What was your god’s purpose in making Hitler?

        • To know God and enjoy him and to participate in the oversight of the world. That is true of every person including Hitler. Obviously not everyone orients his or her life by that purpose, including Hitler.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Fudged cop out…try honesty…it’s invigorating.

        • Pofarmer

          Given God’s history, Hitler might have very well been oriented to God’s purpose. Hell, maybe we accidentally Thwarted God’s plans.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Hitler was morally no less or better than Moses and Joshua…except the cunt was real.

        • JustAnotherAtheist2

          Lol!

        • Zeta

          You are changing the meaning of your claim to mean every human being was made for the same purpose. This is a useless statement. As Ignorant Amos says: It is a “Fudged cop out”. Can’t you do better than that?

          Your god has no control over Hitler and let him murder 6 millions of his very own “Chosen People” while watching all the atrocities unfolding before him. A loving god? What a shame!

        • JustAnotherAtheist2

          I th ink my life has great value. I think I and every human being was made for a purpose.

          What are humans worth without considering a potential designer’s purpose?

        • You can answer that. As an atheist what is your worth?

        • Susan

          As an atheist what is your worth?

          What worth does Yahwehjesus add?

          That is your implicit and explicit claim.

          Support it.

        • Rudy R

          Atheists have the same worth as theists, with one significant difference. Atheists rely on one less mind (god) in determining their purpose, which is generally defined as those goals pursued to attain human happiness and flourishing.

        • JustAnotherAtheist2

          Commendable dodge attempt, but a bit too transparent. If my question was too difficult to answer, feel free to answer Susan’s question from below:

          What value does god add to the worth of humans?

        • His image. We are in some important ways like God. One way is that we have the responsibility to be God’s agent in caring for the creation. And we have the ability to do that and we alone.

          Another is that we have a spirit enabling us to know and communicate with God.

          We have the ability to create and the ability to understand wisdom.

          Those things give human beings a dignity and worth that other creatures do not have. (Yes, I know that isn’t a popular idea today.)

        • Greg G.

          His image.

          We look more like chimpanzees than invisible.

        • Ignorant Amos

          His image.

          What’s that then?

          We are in some important ways like God.

          No, we are a lot better.

          One way is that we have the responsibility to be God’s agent in caring for the creation.

          Why? Can’t billy big balls the garand omnipotence not manage?

          And we have the ability to do that and we alone.

          Hows that been working out so far?

          Some evangelicals argue that global warming is of little concern when the end times are approaching. Indeed, it could even be proof of it.

          Bible verses are also pointed to as evidence humans are required to subdue Earth, that God is in control, and global warming is part of His plan. Others see it as a liberal hoax and a means to push folks away from religion towards the government.

          Another is that we have a spirit enabling us to know and communicate with God.

          Nope. This is demonstrated in the fact that there are billions of folk believing in thousands of gods and none.

          We have the ability to create and the ability to understand wisdom.

          Not evidence for a need for a god. So pah!

          Those things give human beings a dignity and worth that other creatures do not have. (Yes, I know that isn’t a popular idea today.)

          Apart from being a loada dominionist crap. It’s dangerous and flies in the face of that earlier comment about responsibility in caring for the planet.

    • eric

      I would never devalue my friends or coworkers like that. This seems quite a selfish attitude; an Eric Cartman-like “screw you guys, I”m going home” feeling.

      • How does admitting that you are a Christian under those circumstances devalue friends and co-workers? Presumably the shooter is only looking for Christians. That means you are safe, right?

        If the shooter is indiscriminate, shooting everyone, there is nothing to be gained or lost by identifying as a Christian. So save your life if you can.

        • The Jack of Sandwich

          Do you think your friends and coworkers want you dead?
          No.
          By pointlessly getting yourself killed you have brought additional trauma to them.
          And accomplished nothing. You did nothing for them. You did nothing for yourself. You did nothing for your god.

    • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

      Folks in the military do it for something REAL.

      Your religion can’t say the same.

    • I disagree. If God did exist, he would expect you to lie in this kind of situation. And so, you would actually sin if you told the truth, i.e. that you believed in God, in this situation.

      • Max Doubt

        “I disagree. If God did exist, he would expect you to lie in this kind of situation.”

        It’s just as foolish for you to suggest you know the mind of a god as it is for anyone else. What you’re really talking about is not “God” but the gods you imagine. So it’s if the god you imagine exists, then…

        “And so, you would actually sin if you told the truth, i.e. that you believed in God, in this situation.”

        ‘Cause you know the characteristics of a god? Tell us, Gary, how is it you’ve come to know this?

        • Ignorant Amos

          Gary doesn’t believe in gods…except for himself of course.

    • JustAnotherAtheist2

      I’ll ask you the same thing I asked above. What is faith?

      • Chuck Johnson

        Religious faith is believing in things based upon poor evidence in order to perpetuate the religious belief.
        Too many religionists believe that their religion is more important than any other thing in the universe.

        • JustAnotherAtheist2

          That’s how I see it, but I’m open to using his definition, which is why I asked. I’ve just found it tiring and unproductive to assume what theists mean by “faith”.

      • Jim Jones

        Religious faith is wishful thinking.

    • Chuck Johnson

      You have not yet killed yourself.
      So, your confusion, hypocrisy, ignorance and dishonesty are clearly showing.

      And yes, I know that you can provide additional comments full of ignorance and bad logic in an attempt to prove that Christians should not kill themselves.

      Such dishonesty and confusion then undermine your morality.

    • Phil Rimmer

      The very fuel for so many disgraceful wars right here.

    • Jim Jones

      They give their lives for their comrades. Despite the poem.

      Then out spake brave Horatius,
      The Captain of the Gate:
      “To every man upon this earth
      Death cometh soon or late.
      And how can man die better
      Than facing fearful odds,
      For the ashes of his fathers,
      And the temples of his Gods.”

  • Otto

    No father would find it sweet or caring that his child sacrificed their life for his honor or reputation.

    Missing here is also that God will punish the Christian for sullying his honor and reputation (denying God). The Christian (in their mind) will not only not get the pat on the head from God, they will also get the eternal smack in the mouth.

    • Michael Neville

      Showing yet again that, if it exists, the Christian god is a sadistic, narcissistic bully.

  • Mythblaster

    Retreat and live to fight another day. This reminds me of a scene from Game of Thrones.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z2Yy0pkcfiA

  • Good essay, Bob. I agree almost totally with the points you made.

    Of course, God does not exist. But I believe that if God did exist, he would expect you to lie in the described situation in order to save your life. If you should lie to save another’s life (Anne Frank situation), then surely you should lie to save your own!

  • “He’s a billion times smarter and a billion times more understanding than any father.”

    Even if this were true, he’s the perfect example of the sh!ttiest father that ever existed (in fact or fiction).

  • Carla Gifford

    “Better dead than betraying the High King of Heaven.” you mean like Abraham did with Sarah his wife so that he would not be in jeopardy? This is the capstone of Christianity? Really??

  • MuttsRule

    This reminds me of the Columbine shooting. Initially, it was reported that Cassie Bernall had died because she answered yes when asked whether she was a Christian, implying that if she had denied her faith, the gunman would have spared her. Later, investigators sorted out, through witness testimony and a cell phone recording, that Cassie was shot and killed without this exchange. It was another girl, Val Schnurr, who was praying and asked sneeringly by one of the gunmen whether she believed in God. She said she did and was asked why. “Because I believe and I was brought up that way.” This happened, though, AFTER Val had already been shot. This was still brave because she had to know her answer might have provoked more shooting, but it wasn’t quite the picture-perfect martyr story of the Cassie Myth. Billy Graham admired the story and commented that he wished he could similarly die for his faith.

    Even now, when the truth has been sorted out, evangelicals won’t give up the Cassie Myth. This seems to me to dishonor Cassie Bernall by repackaging the tragedy of her death into something more cinematic.

    This also illustrates the fundamentalists’ unhealthy martyr complex. In reality, the chances of something like this happening are vanishingly small and, if they did, the survival instincts of most of these Walter Mittys would have them do what they had to do to get out of the situation.

    • Jim Jones

      IIRC, Val didn’t die and wasn’t even shot. Bernall said nothing.

      • MuttsRule

        Actually, Val was shot with a shotgun and had 34 separate wounds to her chest and abdomen. But again, that was before being asked about being a Christian, which is inconsistent with martyrdom.

        • Jim Jones

          OK. For some reason I remembered Val not being shot and Cassie getting all the ‘credit’.

  • Connie Beane

    I could–by stretching my imagination almost to the breaking point–see some moral value in telling the truth about my religious convictions if a murderous government official demanded I make a public declaration or else they would execute a member of my family, or even a random stranger, if I refused. But telling a lie to a crazy gunman, when there was no one’s life at risk but my own? Nah. Not even if there were witnesses. Not even if the witnesses were my co-religionists who thought I ought to tell the truth. But then, I’ve never been that kind of Christian, even when I was a Christian.

  • Michael Murray

    I thought you could disavow Jesus three times as long as the rooster hadn’t crowed and still go onto to an eminent career in the Church ?

    • Maltnothops

      I like the way you think.

  • Cynthia

    Let me ask a variation on the question.

    You are in a country that has the death penalty for blasphemy. You sincerely believe that the national religion in this country is not true, and that it is causing harm. Do you risk speaking out about your lack of faith? Why or why not?
    __________________________________________________________
    I once heard an explanation of why lying to Nazis was okay. The Nazis weren’t persecuting Jews for their beliefs – they were just persecuting them for existing. Therefore, there was no choice to be made.

    I’m wondering if the same logic would apply here – a crazed gunman might be liable to kill, so say what you need to say and try to get away.

    A harder question might be whether pretending to go along with Nazi beliefs was okay, or if one should take a stand even if there was a risk. At that point, declaring personal values might not be just a useless exercise – if there was a chance that it could result in others taking a similar principled stand and not participating in mass murder.

  • The Jack of Sandwich

    When I was in school, 20 some years ago, I remember a friend of mine talking about a situation like this. It was scary how he sounded like he WANTED it to happen. He WANTED to be killed for his faith.
    I was still Christian at that point, but he freaked me out.

    • Cynthia

      As someone with close relatives who fled actual religious persecution, I really don’t understand at all this desire to be, or at least feel like a martyr. I also assume they don’t understand just how insulting and cringe-worthy they sound.