S%#t I Wish (Some) Atheists Would Stop Doing (And Saying)

S%#t I Wish (Some) Atheists Would Stop Doing (And Saying) January 6, 2017


So you’re an atheist.

Great. I’m a Christian.

Here’s the thing: I don’t have an issue with you. Some of my best friends are atheists, and over the course of the last few years, I’ve been purposeful about building bridges with the atheist community– because you know what? There’s a lot we actually have in common when you move past the question of the existence of a divine being.

Now, I get it. My tribe makes bridge building hard because we’ve got a pretty decent sample size of obnoxious people. Trust me, they bug the daylights out of me too. In fact, I make my living by writing about all the things they’re wrong about (which means I never have a slow day).

But here’s the deal: While I’ve focused near-exclusively on trying to clean house on my side of the fence, I have to be honest– your team has rabid fundamentalists, too. And those folks? Well, they make it hard even for a liberal Christian like myself to find common ground to work from.

So for any of my atheist friends out there who’d like to do what I do– change your own culture from the inside out, here’s a few things I wish you’d get your folks to stop saying (or doing).

Please stop saying or insinuating that we’re a bunch of uneducated or unenlightened idiots. 

I’m not arrogant, but I have a hard time engaging in dialogue with an atheist who begins the conversation by stating or acting like we’re uneducated, unenlightened idiots simply because we believe in God, in some form or another. Do we have idiots in my camp? Sure thing– but it’s not a belief in God that makes them that way, just like it’s not a lack of belief in God that makes some of your folks ignorant or obnoxious.

Let me give an example: when you paint us all with this broad brush and assume negative qualities about us simply because we are theists of some sort, it feels the way I imagine you feel when you hear a theist explain that you have no morals because you’re an atheist and thus have no foundation for morality.

It’s just dumb to make such sweeping assumptions about an individual human being based upon where they stand on the God vs. no God question. You don’t like it when we do it to you, and it is equally as off-putting when your peeps do it to us.

Please stop insisting that we read our Bible like right-wing fundamentalists.

I get it– there’s some weird stories in the Bible. Plenty of verses to make fun of. But I just want to bang my head into the table when I see some of my atheist friends quote some of these Bible passages as if the only way to read them is the way a fundamentalist would read them. It is amazing to me the way both conservative fundamentalists and many atheists insist on reading and interpreting the Bible with the same rigid literalism that takes into account almost nothing regarding literary genre, authorial intent, context, original languages, etc.

If you want to bring up issues with the Bible, have at it– but at least read a bit of scholarship on a passage before quoting it as if you understand exactly what it meant, what it means, and how a good Christian should apply it. That’s the type of unenlightened, ignorant nonsense that fundamentalists do with the Bible, and I know you’d hate to be associated with them.

Please stop referring to our belief system(s) as fairy tales.

I’m not sure the best way to break this down, but here’s my beef: following the religious/ethical views written by Moses (Torah), or the teachings of Jesus (love your neighbor, love your enemies), is not the same thing as going to Disneyland and believing that Mickey is actually a real-life talking mouse. It’s not the same thing as believing that there actually was an old woman who lived in a shoe who had so many children that she didn’t know what to do.

Religious/ethical beliefs and fairy tales are not same thing. Every time I hear this “fairy tale” insult my inner Samuel L. Jackson voice kicks in and screams, “It’s not in the same ballpark. It’s not even the same $&#@ game!” (Pulp Fiction reference for you.)

Maybe lay off the whole, “religion hasn’t done any good for humanity” type of argument, because it’s obnoxiously untrue.

I get it, we religious people have done a lot of douchey things in the course of history, but that’s not all we’ve done– and to make a broad and obnoxious statement as if we have never contributed to the good of society as a result of our religious beliefs is just ignorant nonsense. In fact, in many eras it’s been religious people leading the way.

Put a list of names of charitable organizations into a hat and pull one out– there’s a pretty good chance that organization is actually a religious one, because religious people are among the most financially charitable from all categories. Modern hospitals? Those were largely Christian endeavors. Orphan care? That’s largely a Christian-led movement. Relief work in countries affected by famine and natural disasters? Throw a dart and you’ll land on a religious organization leading the way in places others don’t go.

I’m not even going to list all the good that’s done in the name of religion, because you have google and a brain. But suffice to say, the idea that religion makes or has made no positive impact on society is ignorant and lazy thinking.

So, back to the beginning: you’re an atheist and I’m a theist. That doesn’t mean we have to be natural born enemies. In fact, I would argue that both sides have reasonable arguments for why they believe what they believe.

When we move past that, there’s a world of commonality just waiting to be discovered– because a human being is infinitely more than what they believe or don’t believe about God. People are complex and cannot be reduced to assumptions or stereotypes without completely dehumanizing them.

But to discover that– to get to that place where we can see the humanity in one another, and begin finding areas of common ground, we need to stop viewing the other as if they represent the worst their tribe has to offer. Both sides have their fundamentalists and antagonists, but they don’t represent the whole of either of us.

Not every Christian is Ken Ham building a modern ark to transport dinosaurs. Not every atheist is Richard Dawkins or the anonymous internet troll who dehumanizes people of religion while acting as if they are morally superior.

I’ll keep working with my tribe to try to reform it from the inside, but these are just a few things I wish we could dial-back within your tribe.

unafraid 300Dr. Benjamin L. Corey is a public theologian and cultural anthropologist who is a two-time graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary with graduate degrees in the fields of Theology and International Culture, and holds a doctorate in Intercultural Studies from Fuller Theological Seminary. He is also the author of the new book, Unafraid: Moving Beyond Fear-Based Faith, which is available wherever good books are sold. www.Unafraid-book.com.

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Junius Stone

    It’s “ark” with a “k”, Corey. If you are going to trash those mean and dumb fundies, step up your game. “I am not arrogant”, best laugh line I’ve seen all day.

  • Mike De Fleuriot

    of course, you could just present evidence for any god and if it tests true, then every atheist would have to accept that gods are real. Or be rightly considered to be a fraud.

    But of course, you would have done that already, if you had the evidence for your claims. So stop whining and building strawmen, show us your gods and then we will talk.

  • In my humble opinion a lot of atheists one encounters here on this blog and elsewhere have a history of being spiritually abused and have been grievously wounded emotionally. Most often I find that they have grown up in the care of spiritual abusers and religious addicts. Those claiming to be atheist can be held emotionally, spiritually, intellectually, hostage to A coping mechanism. I’ve encountered fundamentalism, of a kind, exhibited by atheists that has in common with Christian fundamentalists the black and white thinking that is determined to only speak in generalities making statements such as “all Christians are assholes and stupid buttholes!!”
    It seems to rest their their souls to Declaim such.
    it is definitely a relief to find a place to file a defense against an enemy perceived as the Universal blame for all that is going wrong in one’s life and the planet. Isn’t this the narration of a wounded self covering the emotional wound which is still festering?

  • Andy

    This whole article wasn’t about proving a case for theism, it was about being respectful for those with whom you disagree, which you clearly aren’t being.

  • Chief!! are you a petty officer or are you an officer of the petty?

  • R McLaughlin

    I hear a whole lot of justification for believing in something objectively false. That you can come to the conclusion there exists a higher power, when there is absolutely zero evidence, is why people rightfully assume you’re not educated. When there is a mountain of evidence for the actual origin of humanity and you choose to ignore it, people rightfully assume you’re not educated.

    You don’t seem to understand the inherent arrogance in wanting other people to respect your belief system, allow it to sway public opinion and policy–yet refuse to provide a shred of evidence for it’s legitimacy. THEN you claim that Atheism is a belief system in itself. The arrogance is truly astounding.

  • R McLaughlin

    Do you respect people who believe vaccines cause autism? Do you respect people who believe homeopathy is a real course of treatment? Do you respect Flat Earthers? Do you respect climate change deniers? Do you respect Islamic jihadists? Think about what you’re saying before you claim people should respect everyone they disagree with.

  • Neil Carter

    Agree 100% Particularly this:

    “…there’s a world of commonality just waiting to be discovered– because a human being is infinitely more than what they believe or don’t believe about God. People are complex and cannot be reduced to assumptions or stereotypes without completely dehumanizing them.

    “But to discover that– to get to that place where we can see the humanity in one another, and begin finding areas of common ground, we need to stop viewing the other as if they represent the worst their tribe has to offer.”

    Sharing in my own spaces.

  • JustThink

    Sure. Sounds good on paper. I know there are plenty of believers who are wonderful, caring people (even towards non believers and believers in other gods). And religion has helped push plenty of people to do good things in the name of gods.

    But most in the atheist community are not waging unprovoked attacks on those religious people or the religions themselves. Most atheists support freedom of religion for all. Most atheists believe that ALL people should be treated equally. Most atheists you are hearing about or hearing from are responding to attacks or responding to prejudices against themselves or other minority groups (whether that be other religions, sexual orientations, etc.).

    Sorry if all Christians get painted by atheists with a broad brush. But regardless of how you choose to interpret the verses in your Bible or which ones you choose to ignore (or treat as metaphorical), the fact is that the Christian faith (and other Abrahamic faiths) is still based upon books that contain hate and intolerance. And we are taught that these are the words of God. And that God is perfect. And that God is a loving god. So as long as you stand behind those books, you will continue to be generalized as holding the views that are in the words within their pages regardless of whether they apply to your personal beliefs or interpretations. I’m not going to point to Mein Kampf as a good book just because pages 50 and 83 might have something nice to say. It just doesn’t work that way.

  • Guy McLaren

    Wow, some loss of logic here. Religious people may think they are intelligent, yet they will read stuff in the Bible that is just not there, They will justify rape, genocide and all the other crimes committed by the genocidal rapist of Mary because it seems I have more empathy than God. If I can stop a kid from being raped I will, God watches in glee, while Christians proclaim free will. Me I have Christian friends and acquaintances, we just don’t discuss their fairy tales because I am up front, you want to discuss this? Really? OK get your Bible and let’s destroy a good friendship, because by the end of the conversation, you are either going to hate me or your preacher is going to be doing some serious circular explaining.

  • Curtis Saurer

    What I found funny was his argument about atheists saying he believes in fairytales. Show me the difference between a fairytale and any supernatural story in the bible. I will stop calling religious people deluded as soon as the religious community stops pushing religious dogma on the rest of us. I’ll give Indiana as an example.

  • R McLaughlin

    But it’s not a fairy tale if you believe hard enough in it!

  • Diego Brumini

    The only fact taht one can believe in those crap, make him a less intelligent person, no doubt. There will never be “Bridges” between common sense and believers.

  • Dean Hardage

    Sorry, Doc, but the moment you claim to have reasonable cause to believe in your God, you lose the encounter. There are not reasonable causes for such belief, never have been, never will be. Your god, like all the others, is there to allow one group to feel superior to or control others. As for reading your holy book like one of your ‘fundamentalists’, for centuries it was considered the literal truth and the word of your deity. Lots of your fellow believers still hold that belief. Truthfully, until you can provide some kind of objective method of determining what’s literal, what’s allegory, and what’s just pure storytelling, you have no business using the book for anything, particularly for any kind of moral compass.

    Ok, no fairy tale. How about mythology, because that’s what you have. It’s the attempts of primitives to explain the inexplicable and control the uncontrollable. Do your studies, dig deep into the origins of your faith and you’ll find it has no more reasonable underpinnings than the beliefs in Ahura Mazda, Quetzlcoatl, Odin, Thor, the Jade Emperor, or any other mythical being. Please stop trying to rationalize your belief as anything but what it is. Baseless belief created by indoctrination of a population from childhood. Try some logic, some critical thought on what you believe without the assumption it must be true and then you might have some kind of real complaint about atheists ridiculing your beliefs. For the moment you seem like a nice guy who believes in an invisible man in the sky. I, personally, have grown up and don’t need that any more.

  • David

    Thanks Pastor Corey, building relationships through bridge building is the responsible thing to do and well worth the investment. I have Atheist and Agnostic friends who live out the Beatitudes for better than many Christians I know. There is something about loving your neighbor that is universal in people who care and are Christ like if they believe or not. Thanks for your writings.
    Oh and one misspelled word in 1172 is not bad in my thinking and did not detract from the article.

  • Dean Hardage

    Bullshit. That’s what you want to believe, that we’re all somehow damaged and just seeking an outlet for pain. Couldn’t be further from the truth. I personally had a loving family that all believed. I realized what the believed had no basis in fact and thus liberated myself from that particular fiction. Stop trying to find excuses where there are none.

  • Dean Hardage

    I respect the person, not the belief and it’s the belief I will attack at every turn. If the believer cannot separate him or herself from it, there is nothing I can do about that.

  • Diego Brumini

    you can not respect somebody who believe in things that are compromising the quality of life of other people.

  • I mostly agree with you. That’s why I go by “non-religious” rather than “atheist”.

    I’ll go by the Gospel according to Rodney King, as in “Why can’t we all just get along?”

  • Mike De Fleuriot

    Don’t care, after all, I am attacking his beliefs. Hell, I do not even know who he is, all I know is that he believes in gods and is whining about how we do not respect his belief. And he is making strawmen, because none of what he posts is anything to do with atheists responses to his claims about gods existing. It might be about something else, but that something was not what the article was addressing.

  • Defensive much?
    “personally had a loving family”
    I heard this before!! That, Dean, is probably the b*******!!

  • Damon Howell

    How about instead of “fairy tales,” we go with “Bronze Age fables”?

  • I have six college degrees, including 2 masters and a doctorate. And yet, I believe in a higher power. Not sure how that makes me uneducated.

    And I do understand the arrogance of wanting to sway public policy to enshrine your own belief system. You might want to actually read the archives of what I’ve written.

  • what you have posted is is not honest or to do with atheists responses to claims about gods not existing. In my humble opinion It might be about something else, but that something is not what you are addressing with your post..

  • It’s black and white thinking honey!!

  • Respect, respect, respect!! The word is meaningless here as it’s being used by you. Respect life!! Breathe In Breathe Out be grateful you’re alive. In my humble opinion these are worthwhile things and worthy of respect.

  • Mike De Fleuriot

    I have a pencil.
    Together you and I come up with an acceptable definition of a pencil.
    I present evidence that I claim fits the agreed definition of a pencil.
    If the evidence agrees with the definition, then I have a pencil.

    Can the religious do this?

    No! if they could they would have done it already.

    How is this type of behaviour anything like what he claims atheist behave like?

  • Iain Lovejoy

    “When there is a mountain of evidence for the actual origin of humanity and you choose to ignore it, people rightfully assume you’re not educated.”
    If you think Ben (or indeed the majority of Christians) are creationists you are simply displaying your own ignorance and lack of education (and rather proving the point made in his blog).
    On another point, I am not sure you know what the word “arrogant” actually means, given the way you use it in your post.

  • Andre

    you acuse atheists of being “emotionaly wounded” then ignore the reply has “defensive”

    nice way to ignore facts.

  • Andre

    exactly, people deserve respect, beleifs do not.

  • Haricot

    I applaud the main message of the article but I’m afraid you can’t claim equivalence between religious belief & rational thinking, nor can you claim persecution. We’re all human & all deserve respect based on behaviour. All are entitled to their own beliefs up to the point where those beliefs negatively impact behaviour & impinge on freedoms of other. I condem atheist & religious douchebags alike, based purely on behaviours. And you don’t get to claim credit for religion by dressing up humanist altruism in a religious cloak. I’m more concerned about people who *need* a religious justification for good deeds. Altruism by definition has no intrinsic reward. Altruism to earn credit with a deity or to stave off eternal damnation is not altruism.

    Religious belief isn’t singled out for ridicule: alien abductees, flat earthers & conspiracy theorists are equally (justifiably) mocked for irrational views. Religious believers are the target for more focused opposition because many of their beliefs may be harmful to others while beliefs of the other groups, in the main, are not. The focus of “fundamentalist” atheist opposition is those harmful beliefs & actions. Stop those & theist & atheist camps will become a lot closer.

  • James Stevens

    I’m with Dean. Raised Agnostic, realized the folly of religion but more importantly, embraced reason. I simply operate on the idea that empirical evidence is best, and enough. What science doesn’t yet know, it will eventually uncover. I don’t need to assign a supernatural deity to explain the gap in our knowledge.

    However, you Charles seem to have an axe to grind and I eagerly await your snarky reply.

  • Grim Beard

    I am all for less conflict between people, but I have a few issues to raise with your points and a few questions.

    “stating or acting like we’re uneducated, unenlightened idiots simply because we believe in God” OK, that may be somewhat unfair (and I’m sure I’m guilty of it from time to time). However, when we try to educate and enlighten you and you *still* believe in your god despite the evidence and logic, how are we to think of you? You are like flat earthers, anti-vaxxers, climate-change deniers and so on at that point: you are clinging to irrational beliefs, despite the evidence being entirely against them. Question: what would you call that if not idiotic?

    “If you want to bring up issues with the Bible, have at it– but at least read a bit of scholarship on a passage” Most ‘scholarship on a passage’ I’ve come across could best be described as ‘apologetics designed to make it seem more plausible and/or morally palatable by twisting the plain meaning of the text beyond recognition’. For example, starting at the beginning, the clear and plain description of six literal days of creation being interpreted as ‘six non-specific periods of time’ – even though the order of events still doesn’t make sense. Another egregious example is the attempt to massage what ‘slavery’ meant to something more like ‘indentured service’, when the Bible is clearly talking about ownership-of-people type slavery. Some of the apologetics aimed at claiming scientific accuracy in the Bible are painful and laughable at the same time – although, in fairness, this seems to be more of a Muslim thing with the Quran (e.g. salt and fresh water not mixing being interpreted as referring to a thermocline, even though temperature – the key aspect of a thermocline – is not mentioned in the Quran). Questions: why should we take notice of ‘scholarship’ instead of the plain reading of the text, especially when the scholarship is transparently aimed at changing the meaning to fit later scientific discoveries and/or modern moral values? Furthermore, if you need such ‘scholarship’ to make your holy book acceptable to you, why don’t you just admit that your holy book is *un*acceptable and abandon it? You don’t need it for moral guidance, and can’t use it for moral guidance without re-writing it through ‘scholarship’, so what purpose does it serve?

    “following the religious/ethical views written by Moses (Torah), or the teachings of Jesus (love your neighbor, love your enemies), is not the same thing as going to Disneyland and believing that Mickey is actually a real-life talking mouse” No, but believing that Moses and Jesus were real historical figures (for which there is no evidence) is like believing that Spiderman was once a real historical figure. Similarly, living your life the way a fictional character said you should is the same principle no matter who or what that fictional character is. You choosing to live by the creed of Jesus is no different to someone else choosing to live by the creed of Spiderman. That doesn’t necessarily make it bad – if more people held to the belief that ‘with great power comes great responsibility’ the world might well be a better place – but it also doesn’t make the myth real. Question: why follow the ‘teachings’ of fictional characters at all? Moreover, why do so when you need ‘scholarship’ to change those ‘teachings’ to fit the sorts of things you want to believe, do or not do anyway?

    I’ll agree with you on the charity thing – although there are many secular charities too. However, I have yet to meet a single self-identifying Christian who actually follows the creed of their Jesus to give up all their wealth to the poor. A Christian who donates 5% of their disposable income to charity is probably doing more than most people – atheists and theists alike – but that’s nowhere near what Jesus is claimed to have commanded his followers to do. If Christians truly followed Christ, there would be no rich Christians – and yet there are many, many of them and a large number of very wealthy church organisations (here in the UK the Church of England is one of the wealthiest organisations around, and worldwide the Catholic church probably outdoes most Fortune 500 companies). Question: if the ‘teachings’ of Jesus are so important to Christians, and charity work is your evidence of this, why are there rich Christians, both individually and organisationally? Why, essentially, do Christians not actually follow Christ?

    TL;DR: Whilst I appreciate the sentiment behind your article, your points seem to be fundamentally (no pun intended) flawed and raise some major questions.

  • Thanks for demonstrating the foundation behind this article.

  • Matthew

    Can we provide 100% proof that God doesn’t exist?

    Can we provide 100% proof that God does exist?

  • sTv0

    “I’m not arrogant, but I have a hard time engaging in dialogue with an atheist who begins the conversation by stating or acting like we’re uneducated, unenlightened idiots simply because we believe in G̶o̶d̶ a god, in some form or another.”

    There. Fixed that for ya. And you show arrogance when you use that term “God” as if your god were the only one humans ever worshipped. Your problem isn’t with atheists or even with atheism. Your problem is that you will never be able to get past the fact that we humans have conjured up literally thousands of gods throughout our existence, and your religion has indoctrinated you into dismissing said fact.

    Here’s a clue: your religion borrows heavily from other religions (Judaism is but one). Heavily. In fact, it’s what gives atheists so much ammunition and hilarity! “Kill the gays! It says so in our book!” Yes, yes, it does. And it also says to “put to death people who plant their field with two different kinds of seed”.

    Kinda kooky, no? Think that might have something to do with “obnoxious atheists”? And that’s just passages from the Hebrews good book…not really your book, yet you claim it just the same.

    And y’all stole ideas like the holiday tree, giving gifts during Saturnalia, celebrating the Winter Solstice. Y’all make a point of crying “oppression!” when a cross is taken off the top of a holiday tree in Knightstown, Indiana…yet your whole tribe is hell bent on forcing your religious beliefs down everybody’s throats…BECAUSE YOU FOLKS HAVE BEEN ALLOWED TO GET AWAY WITH IT FOR DECADES.

    Kinda hard not to point and laugh, dude. Rilly.

    Speaking of “point and laugh”: “Please stop referring to our belief system(s) as fairy tales.”

    Well, they are. Fairytales. Bronze Age Fables. To prove my point, I’ll just allow you to do it for me: “here’s my beef: following the religious/ethical views written by Moses (Torah)…”

    Boom. Done. End of argument. Why? Because Moses did not exist. Get that in your head, let it roll around a bit. No Moses. No evidence for him. No evidence for the Jews being enslaved, and the Egyptians were pretty fucking on it about record keeping. No records.

    But that’s not all. This line: “here’s my beef: following the religious/ethical views written by Moses (Torah)” is followed by this line: “or the teachings of Jesus (love your neighbor, love your enemies)”. See the problem? No? I’ll spell it out for you.

    What were “the teachings of Jesus”? “Love they neighbor”? Yeah, maybe he did say that, or maybe he didn’t. But did Moses share that view? What were Moses “religious/ethical views”? Perhaps a bit tribal? Should we ask the Moabites?

    Yes, let’s ask them…except we can’t, because they don’t exist anymore because they were wiped out. By Moses. “So Moses said to Israel’s judges, “Each of you must put to death those of your men who have joined in worshiping the Baal of Peor.”” Numbers 25:5.

    Kinda shitty to include Moses and Jesus as your champions, isn’t it? I mean, sure, you can call up the tired argument about “context”, and how I’m taking out of context that passage from Numbers…the SAME FUCKING WAY YOU’RE TAKING JESUS’ WORDS OUT OF CONTEXT, TOO. Sorry, had to shout to get your attention.

    “If you want to bring up issues with the Bible, have at it– but at least read a bit of scholarship on a passage before quoting it as if you understand exactly what it meant, what it means, and how a good Christian should apply it. That’s the type of unenlightened, ignorant nonsense that fundamentalists do with the Bible,…”

    Um…that *is* what scholarship says about Moses. K? He didn’t exist. End of argument.

    “Put a list of names of charitable organizations into a hat and pull one out– there’s a pretty good chance that organization is actually a religious one, because religious people are among the most financially charitable from all categories. Modern hospitals?”

    Hamas also does charitable works.

    “When we move past that, there’s a world of commonality just waiting to be discovered– because a human being is infinitely more than what they believe or don’t believe about G̶o̶d̶ a god.”

    There, fixed that for ya. Again. And to close, I’ll just let Sir Stephen Henry Roberts drop yet another clue:
    “I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours”.

  • There is no point to argue with someone who has a closed mind. You are fettered with Wounded emotions in my humble opinion. addiction to your rigid and fetid presuppositions and assumptions are slaying your soul. I think you only bring your concerns here because you are dying under your bell jar.

  • Grim Beard

    May we ask which subjects? I’m happy to disclose my own: I have a degree and a PhD in Psychology (both fully accredited by the British Psychological Society) and a Diploma in English Law (accredited by the College of Law in England and Wales).

  • I save my best snark 4 people who can appreciate it!!

  • John c

    You can believe anything, anyway you want, just dont assume you have any moral high ground because of it,or that anyone should accept your input if its based on those beliefs rather than tangible evidence.Nor should you believe your faith gives you any power to enforce yours or its will on others, or that you have the right to influence those who lack the critical thinking skills to question your faith, children, the mentaly deficient,the elderly or those left vunerable by illness.The various scriptures of the many religions all insist they are correct, that to an atheist negates every single one of them as they cannot all be right, so the odds are that none are, please understand this when you come at me with “the bible says”,it will imediately destroy ALL of your credibility.Also, when you tell me to look at the glory of creation, please also look at the nasty bits, the parasites, the childrens wards full of suffering innocents, and ask yourself why would any inteligent being choose that path?If there is a god, he is actually uncaring, or else absolutely evil, certainly not a being i would consider praising or worthy of thanks.That said, if you want to hold a reasonable discussion, consider evidence, and have an open mind to the possibility you may be wrong, you are most welcome to debate with atheists and end up becoming closer to one.

  • PStryder

    > Please stop saying or insinuating that we’re a bunch of uneducated or unenlightened idiots.

    I have said this in the past, I admit. However, I still refer to religious believers, (Especially Christians in the US) as mis-informed or mis-educated. They have bought into verifiably untrue claims about the nature of reality. We see this on display with creationists, pro-birth advocates, climate change deniers, etc. And the common thread for all these people – their religious belief, based on bad information has decided their thoughts and opinions on the matter at hand. They reject evidence and rationality to protect their core belief.

    IN our modern world, with the whole of human knowledge available at your finger tips, to deny reality in favor of a demonstrably untrue belief is an indication of either not being informed, not being willing to consider new facts and change one’s belief in light of them, or simple stubbornness. Having any of those attitudes, willfully is something that I think can accurately be called idiotic.

    Now, I generally consider most believers to be victims of the church and the religion and it’s leaders. I hold no animosity towards them, so long as they are not working to force others to live by their religions dictates. Then we have a problem.

    However, for the religious leaders, who are fleecing their flock, abusing them, and otherwise acting in a way that is (when you consider the consequences of the belief and the attitudes it causes) bad for the entire human race, and currently one of the biggest existential threats our species faces – I have nothing but anger and hatred. Those people are liars, they MUST know they are spreading falsehood, for no purpose other than their own enrichment.

    But then, I am trapped in my own biases – I can’t even understand how anyone with a high school education can believe…but then, I know LOTS of physics. And what I know to be true about our universe, as revealed by science, means there can be no such thing as a god. Thus, I do not believe.

  • Matt Woodling

    OK, I’ll go.

    “Please stop insisting that we read our Bible like right-wing fundamentalists”

    Please stop insisting that one must understand culture, context and the complexities of specific old-world languages to understand God’s message clearly, the most important message that mankind could ever hear.

    Please insist on God, in all his wisdom, making his message clear to 100% of all of humanity at one time so no frail human interpretation is required. God can figure this out. God’s got this one.

  • Ben has a PhD in religious studies, I assure you, he’s aware there are other deities other than the one he worships.

  • 100% of the time!!? When was that!!?

  • Likewise, if you’re going to engage with Dr. Corey’s argument, start with sometime other than pedantic spelling corrections. Step up your game.

  • No!! The fact that you’re asking such a question and expecting 100% or some kind of proof that someone can furnish to you that you’ll accept… Yikes!!

  • Thanks, friend.

  • John T Jernigan

    Wrong. I left religion because I educated myself and stopped ignoring the mountain of evidence against it. It was during one of the happiest time of my life. There was no wound to heal. Stop believing everything that screwball behind the pulpit tells you. He is lying about us. Keeping you and your fellow churchgoers convinced of your superiority is how he makes money.

  • Matt Woodling

    “Please stop referring to our belief system(s) as fairy tales.”

    Please stop insisting on people believing completely unsubstantiated (and sometimes immoral) stories as having more weight than fairy tales. Both have good ideas. Both have really bad ideas. Both have the same weight of evidence.

  • Grim Beard

    Don’t forget Matthew 10:34 “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.” Jesus seemed to have trouble making his mind up about that whole ‘peace on Earth’ thing. Although perhaps we’re supposed to go with the ‘scholarship’ than with what Jesus is claimed to have actually said.

  • Yes, a great many atheists became disenchanted with religion due to spiritual abuse.

    No, that does not mean our disbelief is a coping mechanism.

    Seriously, people.

  • Business management, military science and technology, psychology, theology, missiology, and doctor of intercultural studies.

  • I do not accuse I observe!! That you would choose a word like accuse in this context shows an unhealthy Turn of Mind in my humble opinion. Paranoid? You have a story I’d like to hear it. Specifically what hurt and harmed you, who helped you, and what do you recommend for Recovery of religious abuse?

  • John c

    Not all of them wil justify rape and genocide, what they will do however is ignore the fact that their holy book promotes it,cherry pick a few good verses and ignore the fact that throughout history, there have been people who will help from empathy alone, simply because they are human and another human needs aid.If i encounter someone injured on the road, am i going to check what faith he is, do i care if he needs help, no!Thats nothing to do with god, (i have as much certainty as possible that there isn’t one.i rate myself 9.9999 out of 10 atheist,)its to do with humanity,

  • Frank Dorka

    So? I wish Christians would suddenly go mute and leave this world in a more peaceful and loving state.

  • sTv0

    Dude doesn’t write like it.

  • In my humble opinion Your assumption is that you have some insight on what is the
    >weight of evidence.
    What construes the weight of evidence in your opinion?

  • Matt Woodling

    “Maybe lay off the whole, “religion hasn’t done any good for humanity” type of argument, because it’s obnoxiously untrue.”

    Maybe acknowledge that the primary reason Christianity stopped doing so much damage was that rationality insisting on evidence relegated bad Christian ideas and practices to the scrapheap of unfounded beliefs. Maybe acknowledge that Islam still wrestles with this because Islam in some areas of the world still insists on unchallenged certainty and authority, ideas that conservative Christian fundamentalists want to bring back to “Make America Great Again”, which they can justify because their bad ideas are…

    *written in scripture for all to see*

  • Think of a situation in which your were incredibly, objectively, conclusively wrong.

    Did your wrong opinion mean you were uneducated entirely? Did it mean you couldn’t grasp the very fundamentals of logic and reason? Did it mean you were blindly shutting your eyes screaming “LALALA” to the universe in the face of overwhelming evidence?

    Or did it mean, simply, that you had an opinion on a subject, and it was wrong?

    I’m an atheist. Dr. Corey believes there are supernatural powers. I believe his opinion is wrong. I believe his opinion is based on confirmation bias, misinterpretation of evidence, and the powerful affirmation of a society in which God(s) are simply accepted as true.

    In other words, I think his opinion is wrong. Somehow I am able to express this without inferring that he is deliberately uneducated or willfully ignorant. It’s not a miracle. It’s called honest engagement.

  • Grim Beard

    I’ll admit, I don’t know what’s involved in ‘military science and technology’ – some sort of engineering? Battlefield tactics? That’s probably not relevant to any discussion of religion (unless you’re in ISIS, which seems unlikely).

    Business management should be irrelevant to a discussion of religion, but given the money-making purpose of many religious organisations (such as the Church of England and the Vatican) I’m sure it comes in handy. ;-)

    Theology and missiology are studies of religion and religious practices. They equip you to know about religion, but they both assume that religion is, in some way, ‘right’. For example, studying how missionaries can be more effective does not help to to understand whether the religion they are promoting is actually right or not. Theology is the study of the nature of god(s) and assumes that it/they exist. It does not equip you well to consider *if* any gods exist, it pre-supposes their existence. Having a degree in theology is like having a degree in unicornology.

    Intercultural studies could be anything – what was in your curriculum?

    And finally psychology – my field. What’s your accrediting body and what was your dissertation subject?

  • I wish you wouldn’t curse some people you don’t know anything about. On the other hand it’s very revealing! You can’t even see how a declaration like this is coming from trauma that is still wounding you!!

  • Seriously Irish atheist your denial is blinding you to the truth and you’re missing a hell of a lot!!

  • Shockingly, the relationship between the non-theistic and the devout in an overwhelmingly religious world may contain more nuance than you’ve managed to express in your hastily typed dismissal.

  • I would quibble that fairy tales are often means to expose a deeper truth, a deeper good, so in that sense, religion can be a fairy tale (I think it was Lewis who postulated the idea of a true myth?). So I would disapprove of calling religion a fairy tale only if that’s meant as an insult. ;)

    But really, I highly appreciate this article. There’s no current human mind capable of fully comprehending quantum mechanics, let alone the universe. Humans simply aren’t smart enough to *know* with certainty one way or another, so bashing people for belief (or lack thereof) is nonsensical and arrogant.

    I choose to believe. Some of my friends don’t. I’m fine with either choice, so long as no one is harmed.

  • I’ll have my secretary Hans file that note with the others.

  • I’m not a Christian and I don’t go to church. I’m an alcoholic I go to AA. I follow the 12 steps.

  • How about you look up exactly when the Bronze Age happened and then when most of the Bible was written down. You may notice that they don’t exactly overlap.

    Atheism is not an excuse for historical illiteracy.

  • Matt Woodling


    Give evidence for the existence of a god that can be observed by another person and verified. Any at all. Not proof – I don’t care about proof.

  • This comment was proclaimed On the corner of Echo and Chambers.

  • Oh no, a Christian writer from a Christian background on a Christian blog is writing from a Christian POV about his Christian faith. How shocking it is that he did not also reference Vishnu and Tezcatlipoca in this personal opinion piece.

  • Frank Dorka

    Gosh, being an atheist I don’t believe in curses. Tell me, how does a declaration like this, coming from trauma, is still wounding me?
    (WTF that means.)

  • James Stevens

    I expected more. Pity.

    Since I was not raised in a religious household, and had no trauma associated with religious upbringing, how do I fit into your unsubstantiated hypothesis?

  • I don’t know… Could it be cuz you’re a real sick f***!!

  • Grim Beard

    By the way, I’m sure it was an oversight, but you missed some. You said you have 6 college degrees, 2 masters’, and a doctorate. You’ve mentioned 5 subjects (1: business management, 2: military science and technology, 3: psychology, 4: theology, 5: missiology), and a doctorate (intercultural studies). What’s your other degree subject and your 2 masters’?

    Also, are these all *separate* honours degrees, or are some of them combined honours or half-degree sets (in the USA I think they’re often referred to as major/minor subjects)? I ask because in your profile photo you don’t look old enough to have spent nearly 25 years studying at degree level – but maybe life has just been kinder to you than to me!

  • I would but I don’t want to be disrespected by someone who has no capacity for respect.

  • Hugh Blackwood

    Of course it’s not exactly the same thing as believing in fairy tales, it’s just to us non-theists it appears about as credible. Personally I think that anyone who worships a god has mental health issues. I love the fact that the church is in decline as people abandon a brain washed idea of god worship and look forward to the day when Jesus does not come again….oh, hang on was that today?

  • Hugh Blackwood


  • With respect what do you appreciate specifically? Do we have some things in common?

  • Terry Firma

    I agree with all of these except the protestation that religion isn’t a set of fairy tales. I get that to you, Christianity is a compelling fairy tale; I get that it’s an ancient fairy tale; I even get why you don’t like to hear that it’s a fairy tale.

    But let’s get real:

    A woman made from a man’s rib? A guy conjuring water into wine? A tortured-to-death man coming back to life after three days and floating up to heaven? Snakes that verbally caution against apple-eating? Burning bushes that speak divine wisdom?

    I’ve barely scratched the surface here.

    Come on, man — how do any of these tales differ fundamentally from the rich, fun, but ultimately fact-free stories dreamt up by Hans Christian Anderson or the Brothers Grimm?

    You could argue that those Bible stories are meant to be taken as allegories, and as moral lessons — but indubitably, so are fairy tales.


    EDITED TO ADD: I would agree with you if you said that atheists who habitually call out religions as collections of fairy tales don’t usually accomplish anything. Doing so doesn’t build bridges, it may weaken relationships, it sows unnecessary strife. But that’s strictly from a strategy point of view. In other words, when atheists refrain from talking about religion as fairy tales, they’re being smart, at least as long as they’re actually interested in dialog. But when we move away from strategy and look at the cold, hard substance of the thing, atheist aren’t wrong (I think) when they refer to religion as a having been built on (yes indeed) fairy tales.

  • NickBernardsen

    Well, step one to getting us to acknowledge your intellectual capacity would be not to write such tripe.

  • James Stevens

    Wow, Charles. That is some truly presumptuous crap. “In your humble opinion?” Based on what? Nothing Mike said nothing that would suggest a deep, underlying pain which (for some bizarre reason) you assume consumes all atheists.

    Are you in pain, Charles? Is there something you’re trying to work out by telling people you have never met that you know more about them than they know about themselves? Power trip much? So sad.

  • With respect your pronouncements seem like they come from on high somewhere!!

  • Can you prove they are fables?

  • ensiebee

    You just told this person to not “curse some people you don’t know anything about” and yet you make ridiculous assumptions about them and dismiss their opinions by calling them “wounded”. Might want to take that log out of your eye there.

  • Worf

    “Please stop referring to our belief system(s) as fairy tales.”

    When your beliefs include talking snakes, global floods, creationism, miracles, resurrection, and many other distinctly fabricated claims, we are fully justified in calling them myths and fairy tales.

  • ensiebee

    “I don’t actually have a good argument, so I’m just going to come up with some excuse to not explain my beliefs.”

  • Exploring the answers to why we can’t get along would be an interesting post in my humble opinion!!

  • Worf

    Can you prove they aren’t? It is perfectly rational to not accept the word of an ancient book as truth without evidence. You want us to treat them as truth? Show us the evidence the stories aren’t myths.

  • My work in missiology wasn’t on how to be a better “missionary” but was around anthropology and understanding world religions and cultures. Not to refute them, but to understand them, to understand how the building blocks of culture lead different groups of people to believe different things, and the meaning those beliefs hold for those cultures. I’ve studied everything from Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, many Christian sects, to an ethnography of the tribal region of Assam, India. Intercultural studies is by and large the thrust of my work.

    I wish my work in theology was as easy as studying unicorns. In reality, instead of studying a mythical being, it was more centered around mastering ancient Greek and learning how writers in antiquity thought, used language, and how that might translate into a modern time and language. Not all theological studies include dumping your brain and memorizing whatever dogma they feed you. Some people, such as myself, simply find value in understanding world religions and the role they play throughout culture.

    And my dissertation is on human flourishing in trauma aftercare, specifically working with people who have been the victims of human trafficking. My study covers the challenges and barriers they face in aftercare, along with a phenomenology of what’s currently happening in this emerging field. It’s available for download from any major university via proquest.

  • PStryder

    I’m afraid I don’t understand your comment.

  • Matt Woodling

    “I don’t actually have a good argument, so I’m just going to come up with some excuse to not explain my beliefs.”

    “I’m taking my ball and going home”

  • Matt Woodling

    Earn the respect you crave. Start with that.

  • PStryder

    Can I ask WHY you believe?

  • >Sorry, Doc, but the moment you claim to have reasonable cause to believe in your God, you lose the encounter. There are not reasonable causes for such belief, never have been, never will be.

    I don’t think you’re being honest when you say that you’re sorry. I’m sorry that you’re such an arrogant ass!! As for The rest you may just find, after a little more time going by, and a few more of life’s little owies that by God there is a loving God at the back of all things.

  • I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard this tripe!!

  • PStryder

    Once again, an insult from the Christian as a response to an honest question, after making assumptions about his interlocutor. (Immediately after chastising them for doing the same thing.)

    Which scripture is it in which your God tells you to act this way?

  • Deb Mohr

    … immaculate conception, turning water into wine, parting of the red sea, fitting every predatory and prey species of the world onto a boat, magically feeding thousands with just 12 loaves and a handful of fish…

  • PStryder
  • I don’t need you, who has no respect, to tell me how to have respect!!

  • Alright Dr. Corey, after breezing through your comments, I’m going to engage with some of your points.

    “I have to be honest– your team has rabid fundamentalists, too.”

    This line makes me wish the title of the piece had said ‘Anti-Theists’ instead of ‘Atheists,’ because it’s fairly clear those are the particular atheist circles you’re addressing. Atheism has no fundamentals to be fundamentalist about; anti-theism does. But that’s a minor point.

    “Please stop insisting that we read our Bible like right-wing fundamentalists.”

    This is a difficult task, because right-wing fundamentalists vary greatly in how they interpret the Bible, and even Christians who insist they are the furthest thing from a fundamentalist will often interpret certain verses in extraordinarily fundamentalist ways. (For example I’ve seen Christians horror struck at the idea that all gays will go to hell nod in agreement when the condemnation is likewise applied to non-Christians.) It’s essentially impossible to determine which verses any Christian interprets literally unless you are very familiar with them. And when a Christian interprets something like the resurrection literally, it’s not a great leap of logic to assume they apply the same standard to something like the Genesis account.

    “If you want to bring up issues with the Bible, have at it– but at least
    read a bit of scholarship on a passage before quoting it as if you
    understand exactly what it meant, what it means, and how a good
    Christian should apply it.”

    This isn’t always possible, because theology isn’t applied in a vacuum (or a classroom). Non-religious people have to engage with the Bible at it’s most right-wing, fundamentalist interpretations because those are the interpretations that are having a real effect on our lives. Yes, if we’re having a conversation in a coffee shop, I can engage with the Bible from an academic viewpoint. In a world where the Bible overwhelmingly represents anti-science, spiritual abuse, xenophobia, homophobia, racism, and outright cruelty, that’s the interpretation that I acknowledge and confront.

    “Please stop referring to our belief system(s) as ‘fairy tales.'”

    This one I’ll fully stand behind, as fairy tales are a fifteenth century western European concept and any atheist who credits him/herself with honest engagement should see that the term doesn’t make logical sense and is clearly meant to be pejorative.

    Referring to the ancient myths that make up much of your belief systems as myths, on the other hand, is a different matter entirely.

    “Put a list of names of charitable organizations into a hat and pull one
    out– there’s a pretty good chance that organization is actually a
    religious one, because religious people are among the most financially
    charitable from all categories.”

    Well, ninety percent of the world’s people are in fact religious, so when you have the advantage of overwhelming numbers this isn’t going to be a shock to anyone. It also doesn’t prove in any way that Christians or religious people in general are more giving or charitable than atheists (they aren’t). And that also doesn’t reflect that many religiously affiliated charities enjoy non-theistic patronage. Christians have the advantages of numbers and resources, not overcharitable hearts.

    And where do those resources come from? The Catholic Church has built more hospitals, charities, and orphanages than any other institution in history, but their great wealth was built on centuries of oppressing the poor, of colonialism, imperialism, and race-based slavery, on the backs of non-Christian people of color around the globe. In Game of Thrones, the priestess Melisandre remarks that ‘an onion that’s only have covered in rot is a rotten onion,’ and likewise the charities of the Christian Church are intrinsically linked with it’s atrocities. I reject the premise that they can be separated like this.

    I’ll leave it at that because any longer and I’d have a blog post of my own. I understand the spirit of this piece, and firmly affirm that many atheists address religion in simplistic, dishonest, and often ableist terms. I also believe, however, that the fundamentalism you denounce is not as easily separated from the religion you embrace as you may believe.

  • Deb Mohr

    can you prove they are real?

  • JD

    Have to agree here. It is difficult to take the mythology in the bible seriously. Especially when some Christians want to use said mythologies as scientific facts.

    If you want to believe it, that’s your belief system. Just dont expect others to believe in it too.

  • Here’s a good one from the Urban Dictionary!!
    “This place stinks. I am too qualified to be here.”

  • If worshipping a god is a mental health issue, than it’s the only one that can be cured by education, analysis, and a change of opinion.

    We need to stop using rhetoric like this. A wrong opinion is not a mental health issue. It is a wrong opinion. We do a disservice not only to our vaunted ‘logic and reason’ when we use language like this, but to everyone who struggles with mental health and is told they can just ‘think their way out of it.’

  • Deb Mohr

    very interested in the response.

  • PStryder

    Why do you consider it tripe?

  • Robert Kortus

    Ben, I’m an atheist who’s been following you for a few years and always appreciate your writing. Overall this is a great article, but I take issue with your point regarding referring to Christian’s belief system as a fairy tales: “following the religious/ethical views written by Moses, or the teachings of Jesus, is not the same thing as going to Disneyland and believing that Mickey is actually a real-life talking mouse.” Sure, if that’s actually what Christians did. But the VAST majority of them (perhaps even yourself), believe in a literal Resurrection, that Jesus is alive and in heaven, wants to have a relationship with humans, listens to their prayers, and interacts supernaturally on their behalf. That is on par with believing that Mickey is a real-life talking mouse, and deserving of the term “fairy-tale”.

    (EDIT: I’d like to revise my statement. After looking up the definition of “fairy tale”, I would agree that it is not applicable in this context. Terms like “folklore”, “legend”, and “mythology” would be a better fit.)

  • Skeptic NY

    …don’t forget about the zombies…

  • I also want to add a last point on the subject of Christian charities and the amount of work they do.

    Jesus literally made a point to his disciples that the material amount of charitable giving doesn’t give any indication of the value of a person or organisation. He pointed out a widow giving two copper mites at the gate of the Temple and said ‘She has given more than all of them, for she has given all she had.”

    I think referencing the material wealth behind the Church and the charities that spring from it is your weakest point, Ben, because it sits in direct conflict with what Jesus taught his followers.

  • You got this figured wrong buddy!! This post wasn’t written for you!! One has zero responsibility to prove anything to you. Can you prove that there is or what is
    > perfect rationality?
    I think not!! Perfect rationality is just just as much of a fetish for an atheist as the cross is for a Christian: fabulous, fatuous, fake, fable.

  • PStryder

    Edited comment: I was confused about who I was responding to.

  • Terry Firma

    “…nor can you claim persecution.”

    He doesn’t. In fact, Corey likes to publicly make fun of Western Christians who claim persecution, and he does so periodically right here on this blog.

  • Good!! Shows that you are honest and rational. I respect that!!

  • Andre

    yes you are paranoid, i have no story of harm from religious people, im atheist, my parents are apatheists (they do not care for deities).

    i do care whats true because reality matters.

    i care whats moral, and killing a son because “my god told me so” isnt moral.

    i care for justice, and eternal pain isnt justice.

    i will like for you to read what you wrote, you instantly see atheists like myself as “hurt and harmed”, if you cant see that, theres no hope for you.

  • Can you prove my assumptions are wrong?

  • That’s a fair point, mate. I suppose I’m beginning from a position of believing that Christianity is a religion dedicated to following the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth, perhaps as best summarized by the Sermon on the Mount. I obviously believe that things like the creation poem in Genesis was poetic. I would be happy to call them a myth– a sacred story meant to convey something deeper than the text, so I can see how some would call it a fairy tale. I suppose my push back is the stigma of calling it a fairy tale. To me, it’s a way to reduce our beliefs to childish nonsense, whereas to me, our sacred stories are deep and not childish at all.

  • But you assume I’m a Christian. I’m not!!

  • Terry Firma

    The Bronze Age ended, according to most definitions, about six centuries BCE. Therefore, the Old Testament qualifies (if only just) as a Bronze Age document.


  • Andre

    yes because taking immortality and giving disease to what tecnicaly are children, just because they disobeyed the parent, is poetic ;)

  • Thank you for that I Irish atheist. As one who has suffered with bipolar disorder my whole life I have found being labeled mentally ill and having eccentric Behavior, depression, is social death for one who has not done the work of recovery and learned through suffering and hard labor the lessons of having healthy boundaries.

  • Terry Firma

    “Those claiming to be atheist…”

    A more arrogant phrase is hard to imagine. Apparently, through your magical intuition, you know better what is in the hearts and minds of atheists than we do.

    Also, no, I myself have not been spiritually abused or grievously wounded. Just like millions of other non-believers, I was raised in a tradition of rationality and inquiry, not religion. You assume entirely too much.

  • Mike Repucci

    That would be nice, Neil. Let’s start by eliminating their assumed privilege and moral authority, and the tax exemption status of religious institutions. I’m sick and tired of subsidizing their delusions and intrusions in public policy decisions. Also, I’d argue that you use the term “non-religious” rather than “atheist” (as I did for nearly 40 years) more because you feel a stigmatized in referring to yourself as an “atheist”, from the lack of understanding of the actual meaning of the word (not surprisingly, by mostly theists, who learned to associate the word with evil).

  • Andre

    i do not know what happened to my comment but i will repeat:

    you are paranoid, has of now 2 atheists replied to you and you instantly say “harmed and hurt”, please read what you write, if you cant see theres no hope for you.

    im not harmed or hurt, im an atheist and my parents are apatheists (they dont care for deities or any other fairy tale)

    i do care for whats true because i care for reality.

    i care for morality and killing a son because “god told me to” inst moral.

    i care for justice and eternal pain isnt justice.

  • Helen4Yemen

    “as if we have never contributed to the good of
    society as a result of our religious beliefs”

    Therefore, your good deeds are self-serving, an insurance policy for a reward somewhere where the good ones congregate to reap the benefits of their good acts while I do it for no other reason except that it is the right thing to do and it makes feel good.
    You see, I feel so uncomfortable anytime I debate religion, because the people of religion like the author of this article are essentially decent people who just happen to get indoctrinated in a belief system that simply makes no sense. You see, barely had I finished typing the last sentence and I am already feeling sadness and remorse – worrying about offending their sensitive feelings about their religion. There is never a time that I would ever take offense by anyone saying unflattering comments about my non-belief but I on the other hand have to be extremely careful commenting on religion as it can lead to very unpredictable and tragic ending including loss of life.

  • Oh my God!! did that happen!!? And did it happen to you!!?

  • SkippingDog

    The belief in a literal Resurrection of Jesus’ physical body is inconsistent with the biblical accounts of Christ suddenly appearing among his disciples and being unrecognized.

  • How is that possible?

  • Andre

    cognitive dissonance isnt a disease, if it is we all have it, we all ignore facts to preserve our bias.

  • Yannis Bizakis

    Hi Ben –

    Here is the issue – I think you are really hearing the loudest and largest number of jerks – and you know what, as an atheist / agnostic – I have to deal with the same thing… only the converse. If you are willing to accept a separation of church and state – I don’t have a problem with your belief system. Sadly – just as there are jerks on this side – there are jerks on the other. The jerks tend to talk the loudest. As long as you are willing to accept that the earth is not 6000 years old, that evolution is real, that climate change is real, that science is not a liberal conspiracy – then hey, we can talk. What you think happens in the afterlife does not concern me – as long as you 1) Do not force my government to adopt your religious precepts or teachings in public schools etc 2) Do not force government agencies to adopt your religious beliefs when enacting social or environmental policy.

    In my line of work as a former teacher – I have experienced many more ‘jerks’ on your side of the fence – and many fewer on ‘my side’. All the best and take care.

  • SkippingDog

    Our sacred stories weren’t written down for a century or more after the life of Jesus, and Pauline Christianity presents a stark tangent to the teachings of Jesus in the Gospels.

  • JD

    “So, back to the beginning: you’re an atheist and I’m a theist. That doesn’t mean we have to be natural born enemies.”

    Ben, I get what you’re trying to say here.

    But, let’s be honest; that’s not how your belief system works.

    What always gets me agitated is the underlying tone from Christianity in general that when you say you’re not a Christian (for whatever reason) is that you’re viewed as something must be wrong with you for no one in their right mind would chose to not be a Christian.

    And that’s the rub; that everyone is just expected to believe in a set of mythologies without question or be viewed as you’re messed up in the head for not believing.

    I have no need to adopt your belief system. When treated like I’m some sort of fool because of it is when we have difficulty taking the other serious and respect goes right out the window.

  • Okay, so we’re BARELY on the edge for SOME of the Old Testament (most of the prophets and some of the sacred poetry are certainly post Bronze Age). I stand by my assertion that ‘the Bible is Bronze Age fables’ is simplistic and mostly inaccurate.

  • Mark W.

    The belief in a literal Resurrection of Jesus’ physical body is absolutely consistent with the beliefs of virtually every Christian I have ever met (I can think of two Christians out of several thousands that don’t). What the official literature says doesn’t really matter when virtually every supposed adherent to the religion believes otherwise.

    And don’t even get me started on Catholic transubstantiation! :)

  • It came to my mind while you were talking about religious people doing good, but I suppose it fits more with the point about assuming religious people are uneducated. I can’t stand the myth of the “Christian Dark Ages.” Largely, but not exclusively, because it’s incredibly historically inaccurate. And also Eurocentric, as it completely ignores everything happening outside of Europe during that time period, but even in Europe there were scientific advances happening during these so-called “dark” times.

  • Andre

    ladies and gentlemen we have a troll

  • PStryder

    Correct, I did make that assumption, and I recognize you do not identify as a Christian. I’m sorry, my bad.

    I made that assumption because you sound JUST LIKE a Christian, and I was unaware you do not identify as one. I have since seen that post, and I apologize for my assumption.

  • This, one hundred percent. People who claim the ‘Dark Ages’ brought a halt to scientific learning and advancement must think that China, the Middle East, Byzantium, Northern Africa, and the rest of the world just sat around on their hands waiting for western Europe to get their shit together.

  • Andre

    can you prove youre not a pedophile?

  • Terry Firma

    If nothing else, let’s give Corey props

    (a) for consistently attempting to build bridges with non-believers in a much more genuine way than 95% of Christians I know, and
    (b) for having attracted, to this blog, a readership that includes plenty of non-believers like me. I’m struck by how many atheists have weighed in so far in the rest of these comments (most with criticism but not disrespect), and it strikes me that that’s a feather in Corey’s cap. He’s an interesting, earnest guy who doesn’t have a mean bone in his body and is worth engaging with.

    Disclosure: He and I are are friends in real life. We love each other despite being in different (sometimes diametrically opposed) “tribes.”

  • Yannis Bizakis

    BTW – Dawkins is a major jerk and not a real scientist – when he was asked at a meeting with science teachers what he would say to people that did not believe in evolution – he said he would tell them they were ‘idiots’. Not very helpful.

    And I have often told people that say that religion has done the greatest ‘harm’ to society etc that they are wrong. In our last century the greatest perpetrators of mass murder etc have been fascists and communists – from the Nazis to Stalin to Pol Pot. And these ‘isms’ are non-religious. The problem is not religion – its humans.

    Men have been killing in the name of the gods for centuries. That says very little about the god, and everything about the man.

    Science simple states that we only discuss and consider that which can be measured and studied empirically. One cannot study god empirically – and please don’t mention intelligent design – which is also highly flawed.

    If religion would stay out of our business (Science/Education the here and now) I would happily stay out of ‘its’ business (The afterlife etc).

  • Andre

    ensie hes a troll, that keeps saying that atheists are “spiritualy hurt”, just apreciate the irony.

  • I don’t believe in hell. I’m not a Christian.

  • Andre

    i agree, you arent a christian, youre a troll xD

  • Yannis Bizakis

    Most of those scientific advances were happening in Islamic countries – that had decided that books were a good thing…

  • Andre

    human flesh, yummy!

  • JD


  • Mark W.

    Sorry, dude, but that’s not how the burden of proof works.

  • Lark62

    You have a right to your beliefs. You do not have a right to demand respect and deference for those beliefs.

    Anology – a person has a right to believe Elvis is still alive. I have every right to think that belief is silly. I may or may say what I think to his face, but a belief is not entitled to respect just because someone believes it.

    In the OT and many other ancient cultures, blood sacrifice was a core belief. Most people today would say that slicing the throat of a lamb or a dove or an ox or a human captive to appease an angry god is both silly and barbaric. We have contempt for the Aztecs who slaughtered thousands of captives to ward off drought.

    Yet the core of the Christian message is that something or someone had die to appease god and get it to forgive us for things like eating the wrong foods. A sacrifice was required every month to make a woman “clean” after her period. How is this requirement for blood sacrifice any different, or any more worthy of deference, than the blood sacrifices of other cultures?

  • What makes you assume you’re being asked to accept a belief system? You’re being triggered I think. Something in your past exposure to toxic Christians and their toxic beliefs has Been introjected and is controlling your behavior in my humble opinion!! These old patterns come up from time to time for review.

  • Yannis Bizakis

    Seems like the kind of Christian I wish there were more of ;-)

  • Andre


    i agree, youre a troll.

  • sTv0

    “…what he would say to people that did not believe in evolution…”

    That’s because in science we don’t use the term “believe”. We accept the scientific explanation for natural selection and evolution, but we no more “believe” in it than we do garden fairies.

    Can you provide a link to the Dawkins quote?

  • What makes you assume I would go by that rule?

  • sTv0

    This ^^^ gets many a Christian’s panties in a bind. “Those Muslims had culture and education and advanced mathematics? No way!”

    Too bad all that progress was brought to a screeching halt. By religious fundies.

  • JD

    “What makes you assume you’re being asked to accept a belief system?

    For that is cornerstone of Christianity.

  • Let’s start by eliminating their assumed privilege and moral authority, and the tax exemption status of religious institutions.

    I’m all for eliminating tax exemption status.

    As for moral authority — they don’t actually have any. The religious right demonstrated, by the way that they voted in the last election, that they are morally bankrupt.

    As for the meaning of “atheist” — it does not come from a logical analysis of the etymology of the word. Meanings come from the way people use the word. And this includes the way that atheists use the word.

  • Human psychology is complex (and no, I’m not a psychologist).

    There is a tendency to form groups and support our group (a kind of tribalism) in all of us.

  • Elliot George

    To some extent I agree with you, Ben, and I like you already!

    I too dislike the insulting tone used by both sides and I try not to indulge in it myself. I have frequently been called arrogant but I wouldn’t personally use the term against a theist, many of whom are very bright and merely mistaken. However, Christians who consider themselves to be chosen for an afterlife of eternal bliss, while I supposedly will suffer in a volcanic hell, are asking for it!

    Sadly, in my experience, polite engagement often results in offensive responses, which I take to mean the perpetrator has no evidence to support their god proposition and therefore has to resort to ad hominem in an attempt to defend an indefensible position. It’s the lack of evidence that makes it necessary to involve the ego, which results in an oversensitivity to challenging language. Nobody likes to risk losing the social standing that their personality is involved in; that’s why they have to play dirty.

    Of course, coming from an evidential position, as I am, there is no requirement for the engagement of emotion, so I have the advantage of being able to be dispassionate, which makes it easy for me.

    But the issue begins with the labels. I am NOT an ‘atheist’. ‘Atheism’ is a non-category, a descriptor intended to denigrate non-members of your group in the same way that ‘Gentile’ is an insult to non-Jews and ‘Infidel’ is a despicable name for non-Muslims. ‘Atheism’ makes no more sense than lumping together all the creatures that lack feathers into a class called ‘Abirds’ would. Non-belief should not be mistaken for an ideology.

    To be continued…

  • seanchaiology

    I agree that is the general feel you get from Christianity when we are talking about it in broad terms. I thought that before I was a Christian and still feel that way now that I consider myself one. And that is unfortunate because not everyone who considers themselves a Christian has that view or tone about them. Obviously, based on this post, Ben doesn’t feel that way either. That is the problem when we open up to generalizations and not focus on individuals. I think the point being made here is that regardless of our impressions of the generalities of each worldview, it is much better to get to know the individual person before making assumptions about them. It should go both ways. To illustrate this point, although Ben reached out with these thoughts that clearly indicate he is open to discussion, you responded that it isn’t how his belief system works. In truth, that is not how your view of his belief systems works. Because he identifies as a Christian you took your preconceived notions of Christianity and applied them his personal belief system, when this post (his actual belief system) would seem to say otherwise.
    Furthermore, I can understand that if you are treated like a fool that it would cause difficulty, but take issue with the individual who treated you that way, not the majority of the population who does believe in a deity. There are people who believe in a god and those that don’t that are jerks, just as there are people on both sides that are really good people. It is people that are the problem, and they just sometimes tend to erroneously use their beliefs as their scapegoat for acting like a jerk.

  • Perhaps you could have more of an open mind to the definition of what a Christian is. A good place to start might be with CS Lewis Mere Christianity. In my humble opinion you have a very narrow assumption that serves as an excuse to discriminate against Christians. there may be reasons and wisdom for this about which the survival of your identity, your false Persona as an atheist, is wrapped up in keeping that tightly uninformed assumption intact.

  • You’re a pedophile?!!

  • Mike De Fleuriot

    haha, cool word salad, god but you are religious. Yes, that is an insult.

  • You make a good point, but I think Ben sort of set himself up for a Catch-22 when he chose to address this particular accusation. When someone claims “[X] group never does anything good,” the only decent response would seem to be “here’s a long list of people from [X] group doing good things.” Normally not an issue, unless [X] group is a group whose founder didn’t want the group boasting.

  • Haricot

    Not in so many words but claiming religious beliefs deserve special respect amounts to the same thing. My final paragraph argues religious beliefs are no less deserving of ridicule than other irrational beliefs

  • Thank you for that!! What does
    >sound just like a Christian

  • Haricot

    With respect, any sentence beginning “with respect” is anything but

  • Judge not lest ye be judged have any meaning for you? You’re not playing by the rules and neither am I. The rules. What are the rules.

  • Lark62

    Do you actually believe that since we don’t understand everything about the universe, “the earthquake was caused by unapproved sex” must be given the same respect as the Theory of Plate Tectonics?

    We may no know everything about planetary motion. That does not mean “Apollo pulls the sun across the sky with his chariot” remains a viable explanation.

    Some beliefs can in fact be ruled out, with or without an understanding of quantum mechanics.

  • mason

    Benjamin, the simple fact is that Christian theism myth is dying out in the US and people can be civil, but religious faith and scientific reality are not reconcilable. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yy5yWdVHv3o

  • seanchaiology

    I had just responded something similar about “jerks.” I agree with that assessment completely. Where I do find something interesting is in your last point about more jerks on Ben’s side than on your own. That is probably true, but there are a couple of more things to consider. Even though the scales are moving, there are still countless more people who believe then those who don’t, so by shear numbers you will encounter more jerks on that side because there are more people, and people can simply be jerks (as you indicated yourself). Secondly, we naturally will find like-minded people a little less jerky, it is just the way were are internally. We become a little bit blinded by some things because we have this other major thing in common, that’s natural.
    Finally, I consider myself a Christian and I believe evolution and climate change is real, I don’t think science is a liberal conspiracy. Additionally, I don’t want government to adopt any religious beliefs. I’m a staunch supporter of separation of church and state. So we have much to agree on, even if we have different views elsewhere.

  • Terry Firma

    “Orphan care? That’s largely a Christian-led movement.”

    Is it? I have three adopted daughters and I’m an atheist, which I concede doesn’t mean anything from a statistical point of view. But are you saying that of every hundred families that adopt, much more than seventy-five are Christian? Because that (75) is about the percentage of Christians in the U.S.A. If averages hold, it follows that, in our country, about 75% of adopted children are placed with Christian families. Nothing to brag about. If the percentage is considerably higher, I’ll concede your point, but I’d need to see the data first.

    In addition, I’ve come across more than a few adoptive Christian parents who give me pause, because they see (international) adoption as salvation — their own and especially their child’s. It’s not that they want to improve / save the life of a child as an end to itself; they see it, at least in part, as bagging a soul for Jesus. I’m still glad that those kids have found a loving family, I just wish that that particular string wasn’t attached.

    And finally, if things do go wrong in those kinds of families, religion often makes matters worse … and frequently leads to abject cruelty. Two examples that come to mind:



  • Lark62

    Which is followed a day or so later by a new meaning to the phrase “holy shit.”

  • Andre


    dude i debated with christians for about 1 decade, my false “not beleiving in deities” aside, i have plenty of christians friends and statisticaly know more about the bible than the average christian (there are studies that prove most christians dont even read the damn book).

    but keep your “atheists are spiritualy hurt” and “youre a false atheist!” to preserve your bias.

    go back to trolling people, because your arguments are only falacies and poor logic.

  • Haricot

    Abrahamic religions borrow from those dating back to the early Bronze Age

  • PStryder

    The criticisms you make against atheism are almost identical in both tone and language to the attacks against atheism I have repeatedly heard form Christians. Zero factual substance, assertion that my atheism is based on physical or emotional trauma, etc.

    Really, I assumed you were Christian because you were using their talking points, and you were using language that denied me my agency and intellect.

    I am not an atheist because of emotional issues, trauma, or just because I don’t want to live by anyone else’s rules. (‘Love my sin’, in Christian parlance.)

    None of those things have anything to do with my being an atheist. My atheism is entirely, 100% based on the fact that according to what humans know to be true, a god is incompatible with our reality. (And the Christian god of the Bible has been completely disproven.)

  • Jerks!? There’s no jerks here there’s people just trying to figure things out. People act like jerks but they aren’t jerks in my humble opinion.


    The secret of life is enjoying the passage of time.
    Any fool can do it, there ain’t nothing to it.
    Nobody knows how we got to the top of the hill.
    But since we’re on our way down, we might as well enjoy the ride.

    The secret of love is in opening up your heart.
    It’s okay to feel afraid, but don’t let that stand in your way.
    Cause anyone knows that love is the only road.
    And since we’re only here for a while, might as well show some style. Give us a smile.

    Isn’t it a lovely ride? Sliding down, gliding down,
    try not to try too hard, it’s just a lovely ride.

    Now the thing about time is that time isn’t really real.
    It’s just your point of view, how does it feel for you?
    Einstein said he could never understand it all.
    Planets spinning through space, the smile upon your face, welcome to the human race.

    Some kind of lovely ride. I’ll be sliding down, I’ll be gliding down.
    Try not to try too hard, it’s just a lovely ride.
    Isn’t it a lovely ride? Sliding down, gliding down,
    try not to try too hard, it’s just a lovely ride.
    The secret of life is enjoying the passage of time.


  • Matt Woodling

    That’s fine. Don’t expect unearned respect.

  • Oh my, certainly not. That would be reducto ad absurdum. (I think, for instance, that creationism is an invalid argument because that can definitively, physically proven wrong with normal human understanding).

    The existence of God isn’t exactly a physical question, though. God is supposedly a Being not in our plane of existence. It’s like trying to picture a new color or a different dimension (or all eleven dimensions predicted by string theory, while we’re at it). There’s arguments and evidence each way, which are valid and fascinating, but I’m not sure the human brain is capable of understanding the God concept enough to yield definitive proof either way (yet).

  • I’ve never demanded respect, nor do I need it. I’ve simply said that my atheist friends are some of my most cherished friendships, and that we miss out on a more enlightened journey when we dismiss one another based on stereotypes and assumptions.

    And FWIW, I’ve criticized the whole idea of blood sacrifice a great deal. Here’s just a couple of them:



  • Edit: not all arguments in these debates are valid, of course. (*cries*). But some are.

  • Again, these are ancient thinkers pondering questions, problems, and states of being. What we read is their attempt, in a specific time and culture, to answer those questions. One doesn’t have to agree with their conclusion to affirm the literary genre (poetry).

  • Guy

    Get a life, any organised religion is about exploitation, suppression and evil. Jusat look at yourself critically”!

  • JD

    I mostly agree with you, Sean.

    And yes, I agree Ben isnt like many Christians and does his damnedest to respect others of differing beliefs. I’m all cool with that.

    My point is that, sadly, he is a rarity for Christianity in general does indeed view non-believers as somehow not right in the head for not adopting Christianity. That is a big roadblock to get over to any sort of meaningful dialogue much less shared respect. Not saying its impossible, but it is difficult to reach that space of shared respect.

  • Frank Dorka

    What pearls from the mouth of a believing Christian. Blaspheme on, silly sheep.

  • Frank Dorka

    I would like to see it as well…if you can?

  • Andre

    everything in the bible is from ancient sheep herders, its a fairy tale tould by people that thought that the planet was flat and the sun revolved around earth.

    but you still beleive in it.

    a book that talks about talking snakes and talking donkeys, that thinks that a parent sacrificing his own son is a good thing and not a barbaric act.

    that the offspring must inherit not only the mistakes of their parents but must also pay for them.

    that people must be tortured forever because they dont beleive in the deity of that book.

    your religion isnt a religion of love, is a religion of blood ´sacrifice and obedience.

  • Lark62

    I apologize if I read more into your comment than was there. It sounds like we agree on a lot.

    However, if there is a supernatural being existing on some other plane outside of human experience, it would seem we could conclude that the various descriptions of deities from of around the world are human creations. If humans cannot fathom god then there is no reason to place any reliance on any of the human descriptions of “god”.

  • Terry Firma

    They’re out there. I’m even married to one.

  • Lark62

    Thanks. But “Jesus died for our sins” is a pretty much central to most Christian beliefs. The Lamb of God and all that.

  • Sure. In its most basic form I believe in a higher power because of the existence of matter, and because of personal experiences that I simply cannot dismiss which lead me to choose to believe. Here’s two previous pieces on that:



  • seanchaiology

    I agree! My only comment to that would be that it doesn’t help getting passed the roadblock by responding in kind with things that Ben has mentioned in this article. I hate to say be the bigger person, because, well, quite frankly sometimes that is just rubbish. But I would say, that acting in a manner in which Ben describes doesn’t make the “other” side any more appealing either. In other words, two wrongs don’t make a right type of philosophy.
    By the way, although I don’t agree with 100% of what Ben believes, it is pretty darn close, so count me as a rarity as well. I guess all I’m saying is that I want to be judged by my actions not my claimed faith, because I know there are a lot of Christians out there I strongly disagree with and don’t want to be lumped with them, and then there are others I admire greatly and don’t deserve to be lumped with them either. So judge people on their individual merits instead of a label that might be placed on them.

  • Sounds like today is the first day you’ve ever read anything I’ve written. Welcome. I’d recommend getting to know my beliefs before assuming the worst in me.

  • Haricot

    “Personally I think that anyone who worships a god has mental health issues”. A sweeping statement. Belief in your cultures’ god is as much a mental health issue as speaking the language of your parents. Indoctrination in religion may lead to mental health issues but irrational belief is not one itself

  • PStryder

    > Because of the existence of matter

    Can you elaborate?

    > personal experiences that I simply cannot dismiss which lead me to choose to believe.

    I understand that. I never argue against people’s personal experiences. I usually express it as – I do not deny that you had the experience you remember. I do however question whether that experience is actually what you remember, or was caused by the agency you ascribe it to.

    Another question if I may: How does ‘choosing’ to believe work? I can’t do that – I examine the evidence, experiment and/or test my assumptions and knowledge, and then change my opinion/view based on the results. I never make a ‘choice’ about it – I follow the evidence and focus on trying to understand the nature of the reality I live in. As such, I’ve never understood the concept of ‘choosing’ to believe something.

  • mhelbert

    I don’t think that Ben was talking about the people who adopt children. Rather, historically, the agencies that handle them. There’s no doubt that non-theists adopt children and make super parents.

  • Andre

    i said little about you, i talked about christianity.

    your beliefs arent you, thinking that iit is, is why most beleivers think that moking their beliefs are the same has moking them.

    ps – do or do you not beleive that your god sacrificed his son (blood sacrifice) to save people (mistakes of parents getting into their offspring.)?

  • I’m not a Christian and I’m not a sheep!! But in my humble opinion that you would think I am so says something not so nice about you!!

  • JD

    To me Ben is one who views more resemble a philosophy than a belief system. That I have no prob with and can actually get behind. One can adopt the concepts and stories of what a man who may or may not existed without having to believe in said man and stories as a literal.

    Cant remember who coined it but I agree with this: Once a philosophy is turned into a religion the point is already lost.

    I like how Ben call them sacred stories. I get that, too. As a Native American friend once told me of some of their sacred stories; “I dont know if this really happened or not, but it is true…”

    We can glean insights and wisdoms in the Jesus stories without having to believe in all the supernatural (or superhero) stuff as literal.

  • PStryder

    I just read both of your articles. I want to clarify that in my previous comment I was not trying to say that your experience as you recount it in your article didn’t happen, that you are lying, or anything like that. I meant my comment as my general thought about the ‘personal experience’ reason for believing.

    As for the ‘because of the existence of matter’ – I read your piece on it. I’m not trying to be insulting or belligerent, but do you not recognize the flaw in your argument as presented?

  • Frank Dorka

    Then why crawl up my ass? As for knowing anything about Christians, I was one. Yeah, I actually read the Bible. Studied Old Testament and New testament twice in school. Was a member of various faiths over the years but for the last 20-25 I have been a devout atheist…yeah, religion brought me here.
    Gosh, not so nice about me? Hey I have had death threats from Christians better than you!

  • Lapequenafuriaparlante

    Hi JD, I think one of the main problems is that intolerant people in any realm of religion get more attention from the media and unfortunately people draw conclusions and they think that everyone else is like that. People like Ben unfortunately don’t get much press coverage, since it obviously it doesn’t sell too well. As Seanchiology (Sorry for the misspelling), mentioned it’s definitelty better to get to know someone individually and understand more where they are coming from. Thankfully I have friends who come from different religious backgrounds, plus people that are atheists, and yes you definitely learn a little bit of everything, and what I try to find is more commonality in the things that we share than instead of things that separate us.

  • “I don’t have an issue with you.”

    Nor I you, Brother Corey, until such time as your deity inspires you to commit an atrocity in His (or Her) name.

    And I’d hope my eagerness to dissuade people of the otherworldly notions that might validate that sort of activity PRIOR to people making headlines

    in the name of their particular god[s] is, at the very least, understandable…

  • Yes, for the past 500 years– which is about the age of this concept of penal substitution you’re describing. It’s a product of more modern times that began with Anselem in the 11th century and was further developed by protestant reformers during the magisterial reformation. But it’s not what all Christians believe, at least, in the way commonly understood.

  • seanchaiology

    Yeah, religion, at least organized religion, has some serious faults, and again I contribute that to people more so than what the belief system (philosophy if you like, I can be on board with that) itself fundamentally entails. I also agree we can learn from the Jesus stories, and I thought that before I considered myself a Christian. I also, as now a Christian, believe we can learn from other faith systems (or non faith systems) as well. My belief is my belief, I’m happy to talk about it and share it if someone is interested, by I have no desire to force it on anyone. That’s not my job and not what I believe Christianity is even about at the core, but again people jack things up. We just have issues, all of us. Thanks for the dialog, I appreciate it and I’m glad you were open to what I had to say, that’s what is should all be about.

  • Sam D. Maloney

    Kudos, atheists! If this is all the bad stuff you are guilty of, you are waaaay ahead of the Christians. And for what it’s worth, believing Micky Mouse is an actual rodent is not a fairy tale, it’s a delusion. But believing a fairy tale like The Chronicles or Narnia or the Harry Potter books contain more unambiguous truth and beauty than the Bible is actually a pretty sound literary judgement.

  • JD

    Ben: “I would be happy to call them a myth– a sacred story meant to convey something deeper than the text, so I can see how some would call it a fairy tale.”

    Sacred stories are different than believing in something as literal. You can learn from sacred stories without having to believe them as having been actual people or events. This would be more of a philosophy than a belief system.

    As a Native American friend once told me of some of their sacred stories; “I dont know if this really happened or not, but it is true…”

    I can get behind the philosophy of the sacred stories of Jesus without having taking them as literal.

  • Bones

    Fundamentalists are still nutters though.

  • I’ll do what I can Ben, but it looks to me like the atheist “fundamentalists” control the conferences right now. I tried to say this very thing as a question to a speaker, and gave me the old “yeah but, the problem is people believe, blah, blah,…” and he got a big applause I and slunked off. http://www.milepost100.com

  • Lapequenafuriaparlante

    Maybe along the lines of what Bart Campolo is doing?

  • Yannis Bizakis

    I was present in the room at the meeting where he said it. It was obvious that as an academic at a august institution – that he was completely unaware of what a science teacher in say Kansas has to deal with. So he is completely out of touch. The teacher was asking for a way to present evidence to someone in a non-threatening way… the simplest way to do that is pretty simple – you start with bacterial resistance, work your way through the basics of zoology and botany – and then arrive at Human Evo. But saying even what you just said in Kansas or Oklahoma or even Iowa in K-12 could get you in serious trouble.

  • Yannis Bizakis

    Hi Frank – I was in the room listening to him speak when he said it. I think it was more of ‘disbelief’ in that how could someone be a teacher in a place where one could be questioned like that… it showed how out of touch he is / was to the real issues going on in the classroom. As far as I am concerned – Dawkins, Nye, and even Tyson – are really what I call “ra-ra prophets” – they aggregate people / followers that believe in what they believe – but don’t do a good job ‘convincing others’ – and that is actually what we have to do… this last election is proof of that. All the best.

  • sTv0

    What meeting? Where? Realize that you’re presenting “he said/she said” arguments; they’d not be accepted as evidence anywhere. If you heard him say it, was it quoted anywhere?

    Please provide more. I’m curious why you’d post such remarks, especially with your attacks on Nye and Tyson.

  • Lapequenafuriaparlante

    Ditto :)

  • >my atheism is entirely, 100% based on the fact that according to what humans know to be true, a god is incompatible with our reality. (And the Christian god of the Bible has been completely disproven.)

    In my humble opinion Your atheism is some degree of % based on the belief system of a few humans who don’t have all the facts or the experience, on the assumption that god is incompatible with their reality. you express your addiction to propaganda in the belief that the Christian god of the Bible has been completely disproven when in fact it can’t be proven or disproven. I don’t blame you for such but I wonder why you come to a blog like this to do what exactly? Try to convince Believers that you are right and we are wrong? Is something starting to wiggle uncomfortably in your life that does not Quite fit? Is there something hidden in your subconscious that’s seeking to come to the surface? Trying to breathe. Trying to find a life. Or are you just lonely today and need someone to talk to? I’m listening!!

  • Yannis Bizakis

    Having a discussion with someone on how ‘belief’ is different than facts – when most of what they are arguing about is ‘belief’ does very little persuade someone. The best argument is to simply state that the religious world and the world of science do not concern each other. I am interested in facts, and what I can measure and observe, if you want to debate about what happens in the afterlife – go have a great time in the philosophy department, but I can’t prove a negative – thus I can’t prove that god does not exist. I have no evidence to suggest that there is a ‘god’ – but that does not mean I can prove there is not ‘a god’. There are many other excellent discussions you can have.. but they are not part of the realm of science… As in – If all of this was designed intelligently… then I sure hate god.. or he/she must be evil – as they designed HIV and all of those horrible diseases. Or if its all in gods plan… well that sucks when you look at all the suffering in the world. I prefer to ‘believe’ that a ‘god’ does not exist – as that means he does not have to explain to me why he let his ‘creations’ screw things up so badly.

  • Mike Repucci

    If by “Meanings come from the way people use the word.”, you mean you don’t like that it is common for people to not distinguish between “knowing” versus “believing” (based on the evidence presented by theists), most “atheists” would admit they don’t actually “know” a particular god (by whatever set of characteristics are offered) exists, but given the preponderance evidence (in this case, lack of any), there is no rational reason to believe. This is why I’m an atheist. I assume that if a particular god wanted me to “know” it exists, I’d somehow know. And if I knew, I’d most likely “believe” it to be true. Similarly, theists may “believe” for whatever reason that their god exists, but I seriously doubt they actually “know” for sure. In any case, given the other common word association…if people don’t like the term “atheist” because the religious community finds it an offensive word and associates it with evil, well that is simply too bad; that simply reveals more about “Why can’t we all just get along?”… they are blatantly wrong about that as well.

  • You sound kind of paranoid stupid!! What’s all the hubbub bub? You swallowed some of the Kool-Aid coo?

  • I would never threaten the life of anyone.

  • Yannis Bizakis

    These are not attacks on Dawkins, Nye or Tyson at all – I thought you were a scientist – criticism it the name of the game – we all deal with it. It is part of what makes science great. I am glad Dawkins is the loud and obnoxious voice that he is – and give him a ton of credit for at least ‘saying’ what has needed to be said. But he is not convincing the Trump supporters that serve on PTA boards in the bread basket. Does that make sense. And I love Nye and Tyson. I am so glad they are there for all of the Teachers that are out there teaching in the ‘hinterlands’ that have to worry about whether or not they can even discuss evolution in the classroom. They speak up for those that are afraid to speak – and it makes them feel less alone. That said – while they provide succor for us – they do very little to convince the masses of people that believe the earth is 6000 yrs old. And that is my point.

  • sTv0

    I’ll repeat my request: please provide a link to the Dawkins quote. Thank you.

  • I’m not feelin’ the neighborly love, Brother Charles. #represent

    If you could make your question more coherent, I’d be happy to address it. Thanks for taking the time to read and reply.


  • Yannis Bizakis

    If as a teacher I was afraid to bring up evolution in my classroom – ya think I would just tell people I went to go see Dawkins…. Maybe stop focusing on what you think is the ‘criticism’ of your hero – and focus on the work that needs to be done. Go look at the data – Dawkins, Nye and Tyson do not convince evangelicals to ‘accept’ us. People need your help… get that yet.

  • Please
    stop saying or insinuating that we’re a bunch of uneducated or
    unenlightened idiots.

    While some atheists call people who believe
    in god uneducated idiots I don’t. I do however think anyone who believes this
    planet is less than 10,000 years old is an idiot and anyone who denies
    evolution is willfully ignorant.

    stop insisting that we read our Bible like right-wing fundamentalists.

    I am told by Christians the Bible is the
    word of God and every part of it is literally true. Maybe next time I will ask
    how do you view the Bible before making assumptions. Maybe you don’t think it
    is 100% literally true.

    Please stop referring to our belief system(s) as fairy

    The claims are fairy tales. There was no
    Moses, no Jesus, No Abraham., no ark etc just because some of the stuff Jesus
    might have said has a good point some of the Harry Potter books have god points
    as well…

    lay off the whole, “religion hasn’t done any good for humanity” type of
    argument, because it’s obnoxiously untrue.

    As for your comment about Richard Dawkins, he an atheists are moral
    because we choose to be. You are only moral because you are afraid of burning
    in hell. But you have a point, I am sure if you found out there was no God you
    would still choose to be moral. Maybe religion has done some good so saying it
    has done no good for humanity is obviously false. But it’s done horrible things
    for humanity as well.

  • But if you don’t accept evolution you are willfully ignorant, while name calling doesn’t help that doesn’t mean he is not a real scientist.

  • You Lonesome today coo?

  • Jeremiah Thom

    and please stop trying to categorize disney and religion as if they are two different thing’s, when evidently they are not. The only difference is disney is admitted as a fairytale while religions are not, that’s the only difference. It is a fairytale until “Evidence” of it is brought forth, otherwise if evidence is not a base for which to draw what is true then there are no such things as fantasy, or fairytales.

  • SkippingDog

    I thought the Bible was inerrant.

  • No sir. Huge family and lotsa friends.

    But I do thank you for your concern…

  • Yannis Bizakis

    If you don’t want to ‘believe’ that I was in a room listening to him – that is your prerogative. All the best. Got to get back to the real work now.

  • lollardheretic

    And don’t forget the sexism (which fundamentalist Christianity, too, has in spades). For an “intellectual” movement, there is a lot of sexism and racism in a lot of atheists. They run along side things like the Men’s Rights movements, Gamer Gate, etc.

  • sTv0

    Not disbelieving. Simply asking for corroboration.

  • Chris Crawford

    I’m sure he meant to add, “until such a time as your lack of morality inspires you to commit an atrocity for your own purposes, whatever they may be.”

    Because history has proven over and over again, you hardly need religious reasons to commit an atrocity.

    And I’d hope that my eagerness to persuade people of the moral, ethical and peaceful reasons for belief in a loving God to be, at the very least, understandable.

  • JustThink

    I was raised Catholic. By that, I mean followers of Catholocism tried from the time I was born to instill in me their opinions as if they were fact. I didn’t know any better (same as all children that become indoctrinated into religions). That’s why religions are as successful as they are. As I grew up, I started to question the teachings that didn’t seem to make sense (there were a lot of them). When no one of faith could provide me with any valid reasons for the far-fetched beliefs they expected me to believe, I had no choice but to give them up. It didn’t help religion’s cause that many of the teachings were in direct contradiction to science. I was around ten years old. I’m thinking that your “humble opinion” is baseless, because I’m betting that I’ve had more interaction with other atheists than you have, and your opinion strikes out with pretty much all of them. Atheists become atheists because they realize that evidence is important in establishing beliefs and that faith is not a virtue. I didn’t choose to reject God and become an atheist. I realized there was no reason to believe God ever existed (any gods), so atheism was the end result. It is really that simple.

  • Yannis Bizakis

    No problem – there are reasons why I don’t want to tell you. 1) I don’t know who you are. 2) I don’t want it used against Dawkins – it was an off the cuff remark made during a question and answer period 3) I don’t want the organization to get any flack. We all have enough issues to deal with. And I would prefer to deal with them. It should not really surprise anyone that he said something like this – its sort of his ‘style’. If I was a college prof in say England with a large pop that agreed with me mostly, well that is great. Its great to hear someone say what you think in your head sometimes. But it does not convince people. All the best.

  • Yannis Bizakis

    I know – I know many of them – I just wish they multiplied faster

  • Yannis Bizakis

    And that is the real truth is it not

  • Yannis Bizakis

    No – there are Jerks – If you are a teacher trying to do your job teaching biology at say a HS in Kansas – well – even if they are ‘just trying to figure it out’ sure wish they would let people do their job..

  • JustSaying

    What the author fails to understand is that atheism doesn’t opperate like religion. We share our ideas and hope they’re compelling enough for someone to agree with but we don’t have a holy book or authoritarian leader that says what a good atheist is or isn’t.

    Common courtesy I think is a reasonable enough approach, and I agree it does very little good to be antagonistic, but others feel different. It’s also true that people respond differently to various approaches and personality types so what might be helpful to you is not helpful necessarily to someone else.

    As far as the Bible goes – yes – misquotes do happen and there are some passages that at a first glance seem really obtuse but make more sense when you understand the broader context, but there are verses that are just inexplicable. Like Exodus 21:20-21.

    Right, we know Christians don’t generally think it’s a good idea to own slaves and beat them, but it’s still in your book, and it’s not written in allegorical language. This is an extremely fair point, because it goes back to how do you pick and choose what is worth following and what isn’t? Those are essentially the same questions Theology tries to answer and the fact there’s so many Denominations highlights how problematic those things are if you’re going to start cherry-picking and NOT read it like a Fundamentalist.

    As much as we all hate Fundamentalists, they’re more likely to have the correct interpretation, which leads into why believe at all if you have the liberty to pick and choose what makes sense to you?

    So all that to say, bringing up passages like that are more than valid in such a discourse.

    As an atheist who has many friends and family who believe, I can empathize with where the author is coming from, but when I live in a Country that makes decisions on these beliefs, it exists more than just in your personal world. It affects me too, and I’ll make you offer a real argument to support your position if you continue to insist such laws need to be in place.

    Even if the author personally agrees with me on this point, the Church as a whole doesn’t and that’s where this conflict gets heated. I don’t care what you do in your own home on a personal level. I care very much about what happens in legislation.

  • Grim Beard

    The sentiment, as I understood it, was about building bridges between individuals – even individuals with what seem to be fundamentally incompatible views. I can appreciate that.

    As to your question “do we have some things i common?”, yes of course we do. Atheists and theists, for the most part, have more in common than they have differences. Put simply, most theists live atheistic lives most of the time: they go to work, raise families, enjoy hobbies, read books, watch TV, play sports, etc. exactly the same as atheists do.

  • Chris Crawford

    By feeling that way, aren’t you implicitly saying that the opposite is true? People of faith who believe in such things must be messed up in the head instead?

    I believe it’s possible for two equally brilliant, equally educated and equally informed persons to somehow hold opposite opinions for reasons that are completely valid. The fact that (at least) one of them is wrong doesn’t change any of that.

    I understand exactly where you’re coming from. When I enter discussions with atheists I don’t know, my first struggle is to convince them I’m not an idiot, and then, that I’m open-minded and not judgmental. I rarely do it anymore for one simple reason: it’s exhausting.

  • Forgive me, but I’m not clear on who you might be suggesting lacks morality (and why)…

  • sTv0

    I agree. There is a mountain of work to be done in science education in the USA. As Tyson said, “When you’re scientifically literate, the world looks very different to you, and that understanding empowers you”.

    Have you seen how Tyson talks to little kids about science? He’s terrific! And Nye? Seen him speaking about science to kids? Marvelous! Nye even went to AIG’s Ark. And had a rather interesting conversation with none other than Ham himself. And Ham’s responses/questions to Nye exhibited the perfectly unreasonable position of the seriously deluded…who now have access to even more money and power than before our recent presidential election.

    It’s disappointing that you’d make these claims about these wonderful scientists/teachers without first, as you so prophetically said, “look[ing] at the data”. I encourage you to reexamine your perspective.

  • Erp

    Sean, this is the progressive Christian portion of the patheosphere. This means they are not young earth creationists, they don’t take the Bible literally (no ark, no flood, no Jonah swallowed by the whale), etc. Also the vast majority of historians (including the non-Christian ones) who’ve looked in the matter consider that Jesus actually existed (in the sense of a charismatic man raised in Nazareth, taught, had followers and was executed by the Romans and whose followers then went on to start what was to become Christianity).

  • Yannis Bizakis

    In my humble opinion – I don’t run into that many jerks. And you are actually proving my point – what we need to do is actually have real dialogue with people. But we tend not to do that as much as a society. One of my favorite people I worked with in grad school was a former jesuit priest – we had great talks and discussions. And we agreed on pretty much everything. My point is that there are many teachers in this land that live in ‘fear’ in their own classroom – and they most likely don’t talk much about evolution – because they don’t want to offend anyone as it could get them fired. If you are willing to fire someone because they are teaching facts.. well sorry you are a jerk… and there seem to be many of those people around. Please get on your local PTA board, there are a lot of Bio teachers that would appreciate you there. I have gone to debates and been present at public discussions. The real issue that I see is that scientists really don’t want to do this work. Nye and Tyson and Dawkins are great for helping us all deal with what we have to deal with. But we need people that are really going to interact with others. The best guy that I ever saw do this was a physicist – at a school that I taught at. Who basically came out and just trashed all the assumptions about how evolution could not be real. And then he turned the argument on its head – we need more people that are willing to do that in a non-threatening manner. Trouble is – you don’t get to be an internet star doing that.

  • Frank Dorka

    Good. Me neither.

  • Good then I don’t think he or any of those Christians are idiots. Many scientists believe in God and they are clearly not idiots.

    And what proof did those historians offer? I am aware of the common historical evidence scholars use and they use sources that never even meet Jesus, the earliest source came from 50 years after his alleged death so how did they know? I don’t blindly believe what some historians claim without looking at the proof they provide.

    So if the Bible isn’t literal how do progressive Christians view the Bible?

  • Chris Crawford

    Disagree that Fundamentalists are more likely to have the correct interpretation. Some reasons:

    1. They read it as if was authored in the last two centuries, as a modern book from a modern culture. More correctly, it should be read in the cultural and literary context in which it was written.

    2. They take the “small view” – ignoring overall themes, and instead interpreting sentences and verses as if they contain meaning outside of their larger context.

    3. For reasons above, they miss out on metaphors, idioms, figures of speech and other language constructs.

    Fundamentalist interpretation is easier. Quicker. But as my journey from fundie to progressive has proven, the more you learn about the bible, the less fundamentalist you’re forced to become.

  • Chris Crawford

    I’m not certain who exactly you’re referring to whose deity inspires them to commit atrocities, either, but I made an assumption based on standard stereotypes.

    So I’m referring to the stereotypical atheist who rejects any objective moral basis.

    Yes, that’s only a small percentage of actual atheists, but I’m just following the standard you originally set.

    To spell it out: yes, it’s a ridiculous statement. But so was yours. :)

  • Yannis Bizakis

    I think you are misinterpreting what I am trying to say… Nye has done amazing work – and continues to do so with children etc. Tyson – incredible guy – really helped my nephew want to go into science. These are the people that are showing the ‘nerds’ (like me) that it is cool to be a nerd again. Its like watching a real live version of Dumbledore from Harry Potter. These people are doing the work that helps people ‘like me’. That is not the problem we face. The problem we face is the parents of children that don’t want us to teach the facts. I am saying we need ‘someone’ – that can convince the ‘parents’ of those kids to let us do our jobs… I am sure that Ham came across as deluded to you….that will have done nothing to Hams followers. All I am trying to say is that maybe you need to go walk in the shoes of the people in the trenches.. The proudest I have ever been is when I was teaching a wonderfully smart evangelical student that told me – “Prof B – My religion tells me I can’t believe in evolution, but now I understand why so many scientists do. Based on the evidence and facts, it really makes sense.” – to me – that is mission accomplished. Get on your local PTA Board – I am sure they would appreciate someone like you there. That is my real point. We need people doing the work in the trenches. All the best.

  • Michael La Porte

    Weird way of “shielding” Dawkins (your #2) concern, when that’s what you’ve done – used it against Dawkins. So, better that it lingers as the status of unsubstantiated rumor? Color me confused by this rationale.

  • Grim Beard

    Thanks for the detailed reply Benjamin.

    I can see a consistent thread in your academic work, which is the justification of religion and religious practice. Your dissertation – going by the abstract, as that’s all I have access to – seems to be an examination of applying religion to a (very important) real-world problem. I would argue that this is noble, but misplaced: this is something that clinical and counselling psychologists are engaged in, drawing on empirically and scientifically valid work, not something where the approach should be driven by faith. Perhaps this is something that you address in your actual dissertation, but it appears from the abstract as akin to faith healing in medicine: well-meaning, but applying faith where science is needed. In fact, I note that your institution of study, Fuller Theological Seminary is, well, a seminary – a faith-based institution, not a science-based institution.

    I think this all goes to the issue, raised in your article, of theists being seen as (as you put it) “uneducated”. Clearly you have dedicated a lot of time to becoming very extensively educated – but always, it seems, within the confines of faith. Going by your academic qualifications, you’re probably one of the ‘most educated’ theists I’ve encountered online. However, you seem to have been, as one other commentor put it, “miseducated”.

    To illustrate what I mean by that, in your theological studies of ancient Greek, did you give any consideration to the evidence base for the existence of the Greek gods? Did you acquire any skills in evaluating such an evidence base? Have you applied those skills to evaluating the evidence for the existence of any other gods, including Jehovah and Jesus? When you say you studied “how the building blocks of culture lead different groups of people to believe different things, and the meaning those beliefs hold for those cultures”, did you do so with the assumption that their gods did exist or did not exist? In your studies of psychology, did you learn anything about cognitive biases and heuristics that give rise to false beliefs (including when interpreting personal experiences)? Did you apply what you learned of those within your theological studies, as a possible explanation of why people have religious beliefs?

    Perhaps the ultimate question here is, if you *did* apply such rigorous academic thinking to the beliefs you were studying theologically, anthropologically and/or psychologically, why have you not also applied them to your own beliefs? I note that in a reply just below, you refer to “personal experiences that [you] simply cannot dismiss which lead [you] to choose to believe”. Those ancient Greeks may have had similar experiences: what makes their gods false and yours true? If you have spent decades studying the anthropology, cultural influence, etc. of religion, why are you unable to apply that to your own experiences and evaluate them in the same light?

    Put simply: with such extensive education, how is it possible to be a theist?

  • Aw, no need to apologize! I’d agree with you there. At the very least, if God is real, our most accurate description of this deity (in their God-form) is probably insanely incomplete.

  • Erp

    Might I ask whether you’ve had any training as a historian and in particular in pre-modern history (admittedly my training is only for a BA in history). 50 years after an event is really nice from an ancient historians point of view.

  • Michael La Porte

    Seems we can do him the courtesy of ignoring that he’s religious in the same way that he is willing to ignore the icky parts of the Bible. A convenient fiction that permits us all to live more civilized, polite lives.

  • Michael La Porte

    Yes. And, mix that in with the fact that WE are the minority who are outcasts, not the Christian majority.

  • JustThink

    I’m pretty sure the piece of paper the woman handed you is called a “gospel tract” and is something commonly handed out to draw people into the faith or to a particular church. They hand out tons of them (casting a wide net). In your case, you were already looking for a sign. For me, it would have been a slight annoyance. In any case, I’m glad that it helped you at the moment you needed it.

  • seanchaiology

    Glad you feel I helped to prove your point, I was, for the greater part, agreeing with all you said so I do hope that I was aiding in furthering your stance. I have four school-aged children, and I am fairly active in what goes on in our local school system, and I must say I am a bit surprised that teachers live in fear, at least for this reason. The reason why is that I actually live in a fairly small rural community that is very conservative, yet evolution is openly taught from the lower grades on up. It is not by any means forced all year long in every grade, but it is never shied away from in any science course. My youngest (six years old) has talked about “evolutionary” ideas he has learned at school. Therefore, although I appreciate where you are coming from, my area must be different. I wonder which is more commonplace?

  • Bones

    Mohammads was even earler

  • Michael La Porte

    This makes me think of that interview with Justice Scalia, who believed that the Devil was a real, live, actual person.


    He was a Supreme Court Justice and I’m sorry, but that is freaking cookoo for cocoa puffs!

  • Yannis Bizakis

    Why do you care – he has said plenty of things that are far worse – where do you want me to begin – this is Dawkins MO – he says outlandish stuff to get attention – it should not be a surprise at all http://www.independent.co.uk/news/people/richard-dawkins-says-date-rape-is-bad-stranger-rape-is-worse-on-twitter-9634572.html

  • “I’m not certain who exactly you’re referring to whose deity inspires them to commit atrocities…”

    I did address the author by name, though I didn’t say his deity HAD ordered him to do so as of yet. But Yahweh does have that purported track record though, so yes, I’d encourage wariness given His alleged history.

    = = =

    “I’m referring to the stereotypical atheist who rejects any objective moral basis.”

    I think we can agree that may be a stereotype ascribed to us infidels/apostates by some of the devout, sure. We seem to agree that it’s ridiculous and I’m always happy to find common ground in these forums so, cool.

    Thanks for spending the time!


  • Ditto but I don’t see how our lack of training as historians changes the facts. Or should we just shut up and blindly accept what historians and scholars claim without question?

    Yes, 50 years is recent for historical figures in ancient times but it still gave people time to change the story or add to the story, so even if there was some rabbi and the Josephus passage was genuine (there’s evidence the entire thing was a forgery), all we can know for sure is someone who did amazing works and won over greeks and jews was put to death by Pilate. The language in the passage is entirely problematic…

  • Good point, doesn’t mean every claim of Islam is automatically true.

  • Worf

    Nobody mentioned, nor do I believe in “perfect rationality.” Call me a skeptic. I don’t “believe” in anything. I accept ideas if they meet a certain burden of proof, but I am still open to change my mind if better or counter evidence is shown.

    Here is a good quote on perfection and science:

    “There is nothing in this world that is truly ‘perfect’. Though it may be a rather large cliche, it is still the truth. It is the ordinary people who look up to ‘perfection’ as an ideal and seek after it. But in truth, what is this idea of ‘perfection’ truly worth? Nothing. Not a single thing. I detest ‘perfection’. To be ‘perfect’ is to be unable to improve any further. There would be no scope for ‘creation’, not a single gap in one’s knowledge or one’s ability. Do you see now? To true scientists like you and I, ‘perfection’ is tantamount to ‘despair’. We aspire to reach greater levels of brilliance than ever before, but never, NEVER, to reach perfection. That is the paradox through which we scientists must struggle. Indeed, it is our duty to find pleasure in that struggle. In other words, the second you allowed yourself to spout a ridiculous word like ‘perfect’, in truth, you had already been defeated. That is, if you wish to be treated as a scientist.”

  • Yannis Bizakis

    It depends on where you are at. I would suspect that in the rural west (where I grew up) its not a big deal at all or at least is not treated as such. I have traveled a lot though as a prof, and it is different in lots of other places. In the midwest and south it can be tough. Even where I taught – we had a big evolution display (human evolution) and we were asked by the admin to remove it as they were afraid it would have a negative impact on enrollment… we said no. I have a colleague that had to tread very carefully around Global Climate Change and Evolution – and that was in a large school district in Texas. So it does not have to be a rural vs city thing. I know other teachers that just don’t want to deal with it, as it is too contentious and they have a lot to deal with already. What is happening at the school your kids are at – is what needs to happen across the country – nice to hear.

  • Yannis Bizakis

    I am confused by this – Atheism is not a ‘movement’ per se… there are plenty of racist and sexist people across the planet – and not just in fundamental Christianity – last time I checked you can’t be female and be a priest in the Catholic church…

  • Yannis Bizakis

    It is likely different in different parts of the country. Glad to hear things are well where you are.

  • Yannis Bizakis

    There is some good stuff to review – from Reza and even a nice Frontline Documentary. But the Gospels themselves are full of inaccuracies even when describing the same events. Even a historian will tell you the bible cannot be used for historical reference.


  • AnnieOly

    Really? 80+% of the population has mental health issues? Hyperbole like this does not facilitate having intelligent discussions.
    BTW, the organized church in this country is in decline, not Christianity itself. A number of Christians no longer attend because the institution itself has often been a failure in providing genuine community. However there are lots of places in the world where it is growing by leaps and bounds.

  • Yannis Bizakis

    Hi Seon – like a lot of what you have to say – Dawkins ceased ‘being’ a scientist a long time ago. He is now a writer – and mainly publishes opinions – and books for the lay public – as such – he is not really a practicing scientist (anymore). He does not practice science (I don’t either anymore). His background is in ethology and evolutionary biology… and he did that work a long time ago – if you can point me to a real scientific journal article that he has published in the last ten years – not an op-ed piece nor a review, I would love to see it. I don’t think you will find one. He is fighting the good fight, but he is not E.O. Wilson, nor is he even SJ Gould. If anything he is the modern version of Darwins Bulldog – THH.. I am glad he is there – but we all can deal with some criticism sometimes.


  • Yannis Bizakis

    I will accept ‘was’ – but not ‘is’

    He is no longer a practicing scientist – how is that. He rights books for the lay public and does not publish ‘science articles’ anymore. Sort of like if SJ Gould stopped writing real papers – and just wrote books. He is a celebrity

  • rob

    Muhammad’s was written by Muhammad. There is no collaborative text to verify its content.

  • >I accept ideas if they meet a certain burden of proof,
    You are Arbiter of that burden of proof. It’s as if you have ultimate Authority. How is that different than being perfectly rational? Such as it is seems to me one cannot be objective. Burden of proof acceptable to you is a subjective thing.
    But dear Worf!! I am not a scientist I am an artist. Within my own purview perfection is when I know I have arrived when I get there. Perfection is my goal, within my sphere of creativity and my skill level to create it.

  • No matter how much you’ve watered down your religion and no matter how much of the Bible you’ll ignore so that you can keep believing, your god is a fairy. Deal with it.

  • Mark

    The book of Exodus is the second book of the Torah, that is it is the Jewish scripture. Jesus abrogated many of the Jewish laws either outright or by implication. “you’ve heard it said etc, but I say to you.” and “let he who is free of sin etc” The is only one conclusion: There are errors in the Bible.
    It also has to be taken into account that because a common practice is accepted it does not follow that it is ideal or approved. In third world countries today, if servants who are virtual slaves were freed they would either starve of have to resort to prostitution to survive. In ancient times women whose male relatives had deceased had no means of support hence rules such as successive brothers marrying the wives of the deceased. This would be frowned on in modern times where there are more palatable alternatives.

    As for the subject of why the Bible is contradictory, difficult to interpret and apparently erroneous: The basic principle of theism is ‘free choice’. If God inspired a clear indisputable text then how could we have ‘free choice’. An example: Some people fish the scriptures for condemnation of gays. Others fish for non condemnation. Is this not a test? Are people not showing their choice by what they choose to interpret?

    You also lament on the subject of theocracy. Religion never should be a theocracy and Christianity was never intended to be. Jesus said give what is Caesars to Caesar and what is Gods to God. Jesus taught to obey the authority of the state even if it were unjust. Jesus teachings are essentially ways to attain union with God unlike other religions which are instructions of how to live vis a vis Judaism.

    I also have friends and relatives who are atheist. They are content to not believe but they do not try to impose their lack of belief on others. Fundamentalist atheists have agendas or issues of some type or another. If I am wrong about my Christian belief then I will have lost nothing but still will have gained much. What motivates people to try to take that away? Is it to hurt, born of envy? Or maybe they feel insecure and need evidence that they are right. Or maybe being Christian is too hard for them and it’s necessary to prove the error of Christian teaching.

  • You are most provoking sir!!

  • You are clueless coo!!

  • Alan Duval

    Fine and dandy, but if Jesus abrogates much of the old testament, then either Jesus supersedes God (if you consider them separately), or the omniscient God was wrong, and God (as Jesus) was clearing things up.

    Or, and this begs a lot less questions, one inspirational teacher came along and overturned a whole lot of myths held to by the very society in which he grew up, in the same way that Buddha and Confucius did (neither of whom are prophets or gods). But subsequent authorities found Jesus too radical and so back-pedalled a bit, and so now you ave the Bible, with both Testaments, as propounded by a (decidedly non-Jewish) Roman patriarch.

  • Maybe you’re not humble enough to receive the evidence of a loving God. Just sayin…

  • Alan Duval

    And given that the books were not necessarily written in full knowledge of each other, and edited together poorly, the macro view is probably more informed by your life in the 20th and 21st century than it is by the intentions in the book, anyway.

  • Alan Duval

    Implying that you have received evidence from, and thus have a personal relationship with, the loving creator of the universe. How thoroughly humble of you!

  • Lynn

    What’s wrong with fairies.

  • Lynn

    He is asking for us all to respect each other which makes it hard with comments like yours.

  • Alan Duval


    “The results suggest that exposure to religious ideas has a powerful impact on children’s differentiation between reality and fiction, not just for religious stories but also for fantastical stories.”


  • Lynn

    If a person can have male and female parts It can be possible.

  • Maybe you’re not humble enough to admit that you’re not made in a god’s image and you’re not an important part of its plan, because it doesn’t exist.

  • your post reminded me of this song by Dire Straits

    The man’s too strong

    Well I have tried to be meek
    And I have tried to be mild
    But I spat like a woman
    And sulked like a child
    I have lived behind walls
    That have made me alone
    Striven for peace
    Which I have never known

  • Kathy Ruth

    Again, you are treating all Christians as fundamentalists (and I know at least one atheist who thinks vaccines cause autism, so…).

  • I’m a total wreck but at least I know enough to know that he does exist.

  • if by Rebellion you mean Spiritual Awakening yeah it’s all of that!!

  • Alan Duval

    “Also the vast majority of historians (including the non-Christian ones) who’ve looked in the matter consider that Jesus actually existed (in the sense of a charismatic man raised in Nazareth, taught, had followers and was executed by the Romans and whose followers then went on to start what was to become Christianity).”

    Then why do the earliest letters of Paul speak of a spiritual Jesus, not a corporeal one, and only later works (and other authors) give flesh to the spirit of Jesus?

  • Mark Moore


    If you are not reading the Bible like a fundamentalist, you are reading it as fairy tales.

    We know Genesis didn’t happen, or Exodus, or Revelations. Moses and Abraham never existed. How much of the Bible has to be proven fiction before . . . . . oh why bother

  • Lynn

    I wish we would study the collection of books called the Bible like a history book comparing it to the Koran, The teachings of Buddha, The baha’i, Taoism, Zeus and the gang etc. The Bible left a lot of books out. Great libraries have been destroyed. I think we should find out why we believe what we believe or what we do not believe and discuss how it negatively and positively affects others instead of calling names.
    I also think we have to work harder at keeping religion out of our legislation.

  • Kathy Ruth

    You DO realize that YOU are the fundamentalist he’s speaking of, right?
    Your WORDS may be different from those used by religious fundamentalists but the INTENT is the same–to belittle others and to regard them as somehow beneath you.
    You are NO different from any other extremist!

  • >one inspirational teacher came along and overturned a whole lot of myths held to by the very society in which he grew up, in the same way that Buddha and Confucius did (neither of whom are prophets or gods). But subsequent authorities found Jesus too radical and so back-pedalled a bit, and so now you ave the Bible, with both Testaments, as propounded by a (decidedly non-Jewish) Roman patriarch.

    Yes!! That’s the way I see it.

  • Kathy Ruth

    Every response of yours PROVES his words!
    (And, by the way, he said SOME atheists, not ALL! YOU, however, appear to be one of the SOME!)

  • Lynn

    I totally agree.

  • Lynn

    I never heard of that. Where are they?

  • Kathy Ruth

    Actually, EVERYTHING he has said shows that something off is going on in his mind! He is obviously in some kind of mental pain.

  • Kathy Ruth

    Evidently, you are ALSO in different some kind of mental pain. I do hope you find help!

  • Lynn

    Yet you cling to these blogs like you are looking for something.

  • Lynn

    I would rather live in a world of wonder than without it. There are still so many things we have not discovered and do not understand. Fairies could be real.

  • Yeah I had to be humbled. Here’s a song lyric from one of Leonard Cohen best:
    this might help explain what I mean by humble.

    And Jesus was a sailor when he walked upon the water
    And he spent a long time watching from his lonely wooden tower
    And when he knew for certain only drowning men could see him
    He said all men will be sailors then until the sea shall free them
    But he himself was broken, long before the sky would open
    Forsaken, almost human, he sank beneath your wisdom like a stone
    And you want to travel with him, and you want to travel blind
    And you think you maybe you’ll trust him
    For he’s touched your perfect body with his mind

  • Lynn

    The examples you mentioned I do take literally and scientists have shown it could be possible The whole world as they knew it at the time could have been flooded a boat could be built by someone who wanted to save their family and the animals etc. The Bible contradicts itself but it seems to apply correctly for what was happening at that time in history or to the person being written about. In the context of history is important.
    Originally Christianity was called The Way or a way of life.

  • You’ll have to bear with us. It’s difficult to respect adults who believe in fairies.

  • Terry Firma

    Arrogance masquerading as humility.

    Just sayin’.

  • Dave Ellis

    Some points you raise are valid, others I disagree with.

    Go go through your list one by one:

    1) I totally agree that it’s wrong to call all Christians uneducated, unenlightened, etc. Some Christians are very highly educated, very intelligent people. I think they are wrong on this topic, but smart, well informed people can be wrong about any topic.

    2) Regarding your second point, this really depends on the specific verses or stories. Sometimes the meaning of various passages in the bible can be legitimately horrific or immoral. Some passages may legitimately have a nicer meaning which the fundamentalists ignore, however I’ve also seen a lot of liberal Christians take some terrible verses and try to ignore or rationalize them to something nicer. So, I think it would be wiser to say that atheists should be informed on the verses they attack, and focus on the ones that really are as bad as they sound.

    3) This is the one that I most disagree with. By definition a fairy tale is a folkloric fantasy story that often contains magic, enchantments and mystical creatures. Many bible stories fit that definition exactly. From the various beasts in revelation, to Balaam and the talking donkey, Samson’s hair, and many more. They are literally by definition fairy tales…. the difference between jack and the beanstalk and some bible stories is that more people believe the bible stories are true. Granted, not all bible stories fall into that category, but enough do that it makes the fairy tale jab a valid one.

    4) I agree that religion has provided some benefits to society over the years, something with that much longevity would have to for it to stay relevant so long. That being said, I believe on a whole religion has been a negative influence when you total up the benefits vs the harm that has been caused.

    Lastly, not sure why you’d compare Ken Ham to Richard Dawkins. Dawkins has his fiery moments, but overall he is calm, rational and polite. I find from watching his debates, he gives back what he takes. If it’s a polite discussion, he stays polite. If his opponent gets rude or starts making some pretty extreme statements, Dawkins gets more aggressive. I don’t agree with everything Dawkins has ever said or done, but overall he’s been a positive force.

    Ham on the other hand is a dishonest two bit charlatan. That’s all that can really be said about the guy.

  • Lynn

    Both You and Stupid Atheist can work together for the same purpose, to spread loving acts together no mater where you go.

  • Terry Firma

    My daughters are from a secular country and were cared for — and cared for well — by a system that didn’t need religion to perform competently and admirably.

    That said, our U.S. adoption agency was indeed founded by Christians, more than a hundred years ago. A really good bunch of people, in my experience. http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2013/12/17/when-i-wanted-to-adopt-kids-the-agency-asked-about-my-religious-beliefs-what-would-you-have-done/

  • Alan Duval

    The world as they knew it wasn’t much more than 100 miles in any direction.

    Atheists have been pointing out that flood stories exist in dozens of cultures for years, but the usual response is that these stories corroborate the flood narrative. Of course, floods happen all the time, which is why there are so many local flood stories.

  • Alan Duval

    Congrats on not understanding sarcasm.

  • Lynn

    I like your comment and have read today both sides attaching. I like reading what feels more like discussion and like your point of view. I believe in a God I can not understand.

  • Congrats on being a cynical a******!!

  • it takes one to know one.

  • JustThink

    It’s cool if you would rather go through life not getting to know people for who they really are and instead delude yourself with who you think they are. It’s not the least bit helpful to society, but alas, it is your prerogative.

  • Those of us who come to websites like this are doing just that, unless you think it’s not a loving act to help people overcome harmful delusions.

  • Alan Duval

    You know that when you type asterisks in that it’s still clear that you meant to swear, right?

    If merely looking at a women lustfully is adultery in the heart, then surely by typing “a******” you’ve sworn in your brain.

    Also, you appear to be judging me, and that’s a no-no, too.

  • You seem to know a lot about how the game is played!! It’s just a game!!

  • Who is helping you with yours!!?

  • Lynn

    What I don’t understand is why so many people say the Bible prevents a belief in Evolution. I can not see Evolution being excluded or addressed either way.
    If the Bible believes in free will it should also believe in Change and adaptation to circumstances.

  • Jeremiah Thom

    What makes you think i would not accept such evidence if it was brought to me?

    “Loving God?” Reality totally rejects that claim.

  • Is that how you roll? Sad!!

  • Progress! At least you admit it.

  • JustThink

    Please explain what you possibly could have meant by “is that how you roll?” Thanks.

  • >What makes you think i would not accept such evidence if it was brought to me?

    Maybe you’re not humble enough to recognize such evidence. Do you get the concept of hitting bottom?

  • You “know” he exists? And how do you “know”? Let’s see the reasoning process involved that convinced you beyond any doubt, that this “god” exists.

  • Lynn

    When I say someone is not a Christian I usually am directing it at someone who seems like a christian saying something hateful about someone else or condemning someone else.
    Not right on my part but feels good.

  • Can you admit you’re arrogant too? When one has the character flaw of arrogance one misses a lot. Arrogance: it’s a matter of degree I feel. One can always enter a recovery program after all it’s a daily reprieve. One day at a time!!

  • Oh ev’ry thought that’s strung a knot in my mind
    I might go insane if it couldn’t be sprung
    But it’s not to stand naked under unknowin’ eyes
    It’s for myself and my friends my stories are sung
    But the time ain’t tall
    Yet on time you depend and no word is possessed
    By no special friend
    And though the line is cut
    It ain’t quite the end
    I’ll just bid farewell till we meet again.

    Oh a false clock tries to tick out my time
    To disgrace, distract, and bother me
    And the dirt of gossip blows into my face
    And the dust of rumors covers me
    But if the arrow is straight
    And the point is slick
    It can pierce through dust no matter how thick
    So I’ll make my stand
    And remain as I am
    And bid farewell and not give a damn.
    Restless Farewell
    by Bob Dylan

  • Lynn

    Run for office the Government has a shortage of you.

  • Lynn

    No, he saw him in the mirror daily.

  • When atheist groups put up a sign “There is no god”, that is a claim to know, and not merely a claim to lack belief.

    given the preponderance evidence (in this case, lack of any), there is no rational reason to believe.

    That is a claim to know. Compare with the far weaker “I am not aware of a rational reason to believe.”

  • Lynn

    Well picked apart. Relax.

  • I think some of my fellow atheists need a reminder of what ‘fairy tales’ actually are:

    Fairy tales are a type of Western European literature that focuses on magic, imaginary lands, and are targeted at children. They are not religious works, they do not make a claim to literal or figurative truth, and they are not a synonym for ‘made-up story.’ Fairy tales are not synonymous with myths, legends, sagas, cycles, or any other type of ancient/religious literature.

    The Bible is not a fairy tale. It is not a sixteenth century Western European children’s story. It is a compendium of myths, assorted legends, historical accounts, poetry, proverbs, and propaganda. These things are not the same.

    (And Dr. Corey fully admits that much of the Bible is myth, he just asserts that there’s divine truth behind the myth. Again, not the same as a fairy tale).

    Nuance matters. Words and their meanings matter. They matter because such simplistic, historically inaccurate assertions are detrimental to the points we are trying to make about religion. We often brag that atheists are largely more informed about the Bible than Christians, but when we can’t even properly idenitfy the genre it falls into our boasting rings hollow and Christians (rightly) assert that we are simply being antagonistic instead of intellectually honest.

    If you want to claim atheists are more educated, more intelligent than Christians as many are doing here, you better put in the work to do better.

  • Lynn

    I think the point was that religious people give and help, not to be confused with who gives larger sums of money.

  • To roll, the way I’m using it here, is slang. It means to state your philosophical stance on a situation with a predisposition, a liability or tendency to suffer from a particular condition, hold a particular attitude, or act in a particular way. in the way you, justthink roll, do you think that it’s cool if one were to go through life not getting to know people for who they really are and instead delude oneself with with who one thinks they are? I agree with you It’s not the least bit helpful to society, but alas, it is one’s prerogative. Is it your prerogative? Is that the way you roll? That’s what I meant.

  • I haven’t followed Bart closely, but I like what he is doing.

  • Even if what you say is true, how does one “stop from being a scientist”? and who cares? Dawkins background in biology makes him the perfect spokesman for evolution. Hey even I criticize Hitchens sometime so none of these guys are immune to criticism.

  • Eolande Eliva

    Well said Dave!

  • Lynn

    Not a very Christian thing for them to do.

  • Lapequenafuriaparlante

    He’s on a good route

  • JustThink

    It should have been obvious that I was pointing the finger at you. Several people have told you in no uncertain terms why they are non believers. But, for some reason known only to you, you won’t accept them at their word. You keep suggesting that some traumatic experience must be to blame. Do you allow for the possibility that you are wrong about me/us? Or did you already “know” everything there was to know about all atheists before you got up this morning? I just glanced at your Disqus profile. Over 3,000 comments, and most of the ones I saw were you just being an ass to people. Quite often, you just post song lyrics as a subtle dig. Do want to have conversations or just fight with those who are different from you? Do you have any atheist or agnostic friends?

  • Lynn

    I did not read your whole thing but when someone was an indentured servant
    under Jewish rules they signed on for 7 years and could leave with sheep, goats maybe cattle if they liked the position they could sign on for another 7 years. During Roman times it was not the same. Jacob signed on for 8 years to get a wife and had to do another 8 for the dishonest uncle.

  • Lynn

    Mary was asked. She said let it be as you have said. The virgin birth was waited for for several centuries and many women were named Mary because of the promise of a saviour.

  • You getting kind of hot in there justthink? It’s a good job to move from denial to anger!! Soon you will be at the bargaining stage. I would advise you to get a good peer support team and a therapist for you will be battling depression soon!!

  • PStryder

    > In my humble opinion Your atheism is some degree of % based on the belief system of a few humans who don’t have all the facts or the experience, on the assumption that god is incompatible with their reality.

    Except it’s not. It’s based on our understanding of the physical universe; which I guarantee is better and more detailed, and more CORRECT than you think it is.

    As for how different people conceive of god, their assertions made without evidence can be dismissed without evidence, especially when those assertions are largely incoherent. But those conceptions are not what I dismiss as an atheist – I dismiss the very concept.

    > you express your addiction to propaganda in the belief that the Christian god of the Bible has been completely disproven when in fact it can’t be proven or disproven.

    There are so many ways known science has demonstrated that the Christian God specific does not exist, and I contend it CANNOT exist. Further, we know enough as a species that if there were such a thing as a god, we would have found it by now.

    That’s the thing people who do not have a very deep understanding of physics don’t get – there is NO ROOM for a god left to hide in the gaps of our understanding. He won’t fit there anymore. But, as I said, you need a much deeper understanding of the science than you can get from watching Discovery Channel space documentaries.

  • I understand you are in a fight for your own sanity because your identity is invested in a lie.

  • seanchaiology

    I agree with your first part about how some claimed Christians use the Bible as justification to commit atrocities, it is abhorrent but true. However, I must say we hold a different definition of the word friend. From my point of view, you don’t treat friends how you described you treat your “Christian” friends. But I guess that is just another example of how people see the world differently.

  • Lynn


  • Terry Firma

    Why make this entirely about semantics? No one is saying that the Bible is literally the same as “sixteenth century Western European children’s stories.” But yes, it is as ill-advised and puzzling to believe in the actual existence of Rumpelstiltskin, or in carriages turning into pumpkins, as it is to assert that any major religion’s foundational text is remotely factual, or worthy of being taking remotely seriously.

    One could take those texts seriously as cool allegorical stories with a strong moral message, as Corey does — but that’s precisely what most fairy tales are, too.

  • JD

    Are you saying Mary was intersex…??

  • PStryder

    > when in fact it can’t be proven or disproven.

    Any claim about the Christian God that has results humans can perceive can be tested to find the causal factor. We’ve been doing it for millennia. (And if you want to say God can keep us from investigating it, that’s called special pleading, and as it’s a fallacious argument, I can dismiss it without a thought.)

    > I don’t blame you for such but I wonder why you come to a blog like this to do what exactly?

    Because I enjoy the conversation, when it’s a conversation. Sometimes it’s simply enough for me to reply “It doesn’t matter what you believe, reality is what it is, and your belief is incorrect.” Sometimes I find a discussion worth continuing.

    But I never have these arguments in private – only in or on public forums. Don’t think I have an expectation of changing your mind. That’s not why I’m here. I’m here for them. The other readers. I have never once had a single believer I engaged with directly tell me their mind was changed, but I have had MANY people I didn’t know message me months after a comment to tell me it helped them with some aspect of the issue.

    You’ll notice that I try to stay focused, and try to be forceful, without being rude or mean. (At least I hope, otherwise I’m failing hard.) I try to ask questions that will make you, and the people reading this later, think.

    > Try to convince Believers that you are right and we are wrong?

    Again, just to punch this horse one more time – it’s not about making a believer change their mind. “You cannot reason someone out of a position they did not reason themselves into.” And religion is a position you are indoctrinated into, not reasoned into.

    It’s about providing thoughts, answers and support to those who have started questioning without me mocking their religion, because it already seems stupid to them. But because of the nature of religion, they are trapped, in a myriad ways. It’s about making the argument so that someone who has this argument thrown at them can see an example of a decent response. Maybe it’s even to educate – since the bottom line is that education is negatively correlated with religiosity.

    Yes, my goal is to rid the human race of religion. One mind at a time, by choice, not by force.

    > Is something starting to wiggle uncomfortably in your life that does not Quite fit?

    No. I’m great. My life is great. I sleep well. I don’t have fears or doubts about my immortal soul. (I don’t have one after all.) I’m not concerned about the afterlife, because there isn’t one. I’m not obsessed with sin, because the concept makes no sense without an invisible boogie-man to threaten you. I’m not in twist over moral issues, because I recognize that no moral is absolute, and anything can be justified by someone; but by focusing on reducing harm, and remembering the Golden Rule, situational (or consequential) ethics and morality is not scary or groundless. I don’t have to hate anyone because my invisible friend said to.

    Hell, I consider myself a more moral person than the Christian god. After all, if I saw a child being raped and had the power to stop it, I would.

    > Is there something hidden in your subconscious that’s seeking to come to the surface?

    Nope. I’m actually really self aware. Evidence based medicine and therapy have given me the tools I need to be aware of the ways my subconscious fears, concerns, uncertainties, etc manifest, and how to cope. (Way better than praying for help, BTW, or giving myself over to a higher power. Sorry, I had to take a dig. The evidence is that AA and other programs modeled on it are horrific failures compared to scientific methods of treatment and coaching. Plus, it’s a religion all of it’s own. But good on ya for gettin sober. I am glad it worked for you, but don’t expect me to ever recommend it to anyone.)

    See, this is what I mean about ‘just like a Christian’. I have to be broken – otherwise I’d believe. Stop it. I’m not broken, I simply don’t accept claims without evidence, and I don’t maintain beliefs that are contradicted by the nature of the objective, physical, material, anthropic, deterministic universe we live in.

    Religion (of all kinds) convinces you that you are broken so they can sell you the fix and keep you addicted. We live in a wondrous universe, and religion offers us nothing relevant to it that we can’t get without the supernatural BS. Since I don’t need it, and it has zero evidentiary support, I dismiss the claim.

  • PStryder

    No, you assume such. You understand nothing of what I have said, that I can tell.

  • JustThink

    Tried to have an adult conversation with you. It’s clear that you’re getting off on behaving this way, so I’m not going to be a part of your continued nonsense.

  • Jeremiah Thom

    Give me evidence then, i might consider it, you can’t just say you wouldn’t recognize it if it was shown to you, i could say there is a flying sphagetti monster and there is evidence, but you wouldn’t recognize it.

    Well gee, with that logic we can really live in one screwed up reality as there are reasons to believe everything is true using that kind of “Evidence”.

  • Grim Beard

    Lynn, that’s exactly the sort of untrue apologetic I was referring to. You can find accurate information on Hebrew slavery, as promoted in the Bible, all over the internet if you care to look. It was not indentured service, it was slavery plain and simple.

    Here’s an example of Matt Dillahunty dealing with exactly this issue: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TDL0FttPX-4 It’s quite long (about half an hour) but that’s because it’s quite thorough.

  • Jeremiah Thom

    A poem is your piece of evidence? Do you understand what knowledge is, or do you just use it to bolster your delusion?

    Knowledge is justified true belief, meaning you need justification for it. If you can’t provide such justification than it’s simply a belief. People claim to know many thing’s they don’t know, like how knowledge is used.

  • Jeremiah Thom

    So we should believe in fairies because they “could” exist?

    Belief in something is not the default position we should hold on anything just because something might seem possible, this creates a culture of people who are nothing by psychotic whack job’s that burn people on a pole.

    I would rather live in a world where truth is more desirable than comfort, where we treat eachother based on empathy and not the desires of a supreme being who endorses slavery and burns people forever for not loving him.

  • Mark

    In Christianity Jesus was God who took the body of a man so we don’t consider them separate. The Jews don’t believe that Jesus was God and I personally don’t believe the Bible inerrant. Particularly considering that the method of writing in ancient times was by the use of allegory and in which case there may be no accurate translation of many OT writings. So There could be much missing from the Bible and much that should not be there from a Christian POV.
    Jesus also relied on parables. Did the ‘Good Samaritan’ exist? It matters not, it’s the message contained within that is important.
    I’m a believer in evolution of some kind and therefore Adam & Eve were merely an allegory for the first humans with Free choice or Gods chosen ones or whatever. If this story is literal then God cannot be omni anything. Another basic belief of monotheism is that this is an imperfect creation (too complex to go into here) Therefore the Bible like everything and everyone is imperfect allowing free choice on what to believe. I study physics, metaphysics, philosophy and theology and my conclusion is that the teachings of Jesus Christ are true. Blind faith leads people to error such as jihad. So as the Buddha said each person should not believe on faith alone but should test.
    As for the second part of your post, are you asking why the OT is included in the Christian Bible? People seem to have a great fear of testing and altering interpretations as if God will be angry. Both Catholics and Protestants cling to some very silly beliefs based on blind faith in men who lived centuries ago in very unenlightened times.

    Faith should always be based on some knowledge, observation, sense or reason. Eg. A person who plays the pokies on the belief that they are clever enough to play the machine is going to be in trouble. Whereas an experienced investor who knows their stuff has real faith in their ability to make a profit and can play the shares not with certainty but with sensible faith.

  • I understand the need for addicts to protect their supply. In my humble opinion you have been seduced by an obsession and compulsion to believe that you may control outcomes that will favor you in the ways you choose. I think I understand and have compassion. Where would you have ever been exposed to an alternate spiritual reality except by coming here and engaging with all of us who have had spiritual experiences, Awakenings, enlightenment? You may yet benefit from the exposure to an alternate narrative of reality. You invited yourself here I did not invite you. You have been taking great pains all this afternoon into the evening to get up into people’s faces to present your take on reality. As I have had the benefit of encountering a loving God and the requisite spiritual experiences of faith and the daily Miracle of surviving not only Mental Illness but alcoholism you are not likely to ever convence me to accept the delusional b******* you have on offer!!!

  • Jeremiah Thom

    “If I am wrong about my Christian belief then I will have lost nothing but still will have gained much.”

    Actually you have lost a lot, which is the life you sacrificed believing in false god’s. For all you know, out of the millions of other god’s which have been invented, you could be worshipping the wrong one and just making the real god more angry,

  • Damien Priestly

    Fair enough, the number of atheists commenting shows the author can attract interest and prod discussion.

  • Andrew

    “Please stop insisting that we read our Bible like right-wing fundamentalists.”

    Go back and read this part again. If your comment involves any argument insisting theists deny science or evolution, you have missed a major part of the argument. If you WANT to argue about that you should go find a Young Earth Creationist blogger. There are plenty out there. Yes you have the “right to comment”, but you’re commenting in bad faith. And no, simply existing doesn’t absolve you of an obligation to argue in good faith.

  • Eolande Eliva

    Well ain’t your christian looooove just shining thru there Charlie B! lol

  • Dave Ellis

    Evidence is something that can be used to demonstrate the veracity of a claim. The more effective it is at demonstrating the claim to be true, the stronger the evidence it is. If it doesn’t do anything to demonstrate the claim, then it’s not evidence.

  • Damon Howell

    As was the bit about atheists calling them “fairy tales” and Mickey Mouse.

  • Noel Zeigler

    This article absolutely lost me at the claim that religion does a lot of good in the world because religious charities are so bountiful. The vast majority of religious charities exist primarily to proselytize religion, not to do any real world relief or good work. Religious participation is often mandatory to receive benefits of charities. Many of these charities also discriminate against gay people, like the Red Cross.

    As far as disaster relief overseas, as an anthropology student I can attest that Christian missionaries going to foreign countries often is little more than neocolonialism in which the local religion and customs of the people is weeded out and replaced by westernized Christianity. I remember once in church they played a video talking about how the people of Haiti all believed in Voodoo and how sad it was in preparation for a mission trip there with a charity. Of course they built some schools and fed some people while they were there, but the primary purpose was to tell Haitians that their religious beliefs were wrong and try to convert them to Christianity. I don’t really think that religion should get brownie points for crap like this.

  • Damon Howell

    Considering that there is zero evidence for large swaths of the book, yeah, I feel like I’m on pretty good ground classing it as a book of fables.

  • >knowledge is justified true belief, meaning you need justification for it. If you can’t provide such justification than it’s simply a belief. People claim to know many thing’s they don’t know, like how knowledge is used.

    Dear Jeremiah Thom, your definition of knowledge is that knowledge is Justified true Belief. Are you are attempting to justify the subjective meaning you place on your own reality? I haven’t your frame of reference and I can’t climb inside your mind or have your history, your experiences to get it. I can observe your patterns of obsession and compulsion. In my humble opinion your beliefs provide no absolute justification or meaning. I think it’s absolute rubbish to think you can provide such justification. Yours seems to me to be simply a belief you’ve arrived by means unknown and unknowable to me. I think you are expressing what you know and accept this moment. Something new May penetrate the miasma of your rigid presumptions and fetid assumptions that could change your belief system anytime. There are reasons and wisdom that you must so tightly cling to your delusional beliefs. I think it’s true that People claim to know many thing’s they don’t know, the reason for this is that they are in denial about how limited a resource their own intelligence is. I observe how you are using your so-called knowledge to try to bully, inflict shame and humiliation on those who disagree with your point of view.

  • You can feel any way you want about anything you want.

  • Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
    Hebrews 11:1

  • Eolande Eliva

    I came here because Neil Carter from Godless in Dixie shared this blog post on his FB page.

  • Are you being sarcastic and snarky? Or are you being observant about how loving and concerned I am for my friends comfort?

  • Eolande Eliva

    Consider yourself fortunate your “friend” has been so gracious. Your “love” and “concern” are rather underwhelming from this angle! Perhaps you’re just a little frustrated your “friend” didn’t bite. Aww. Never mind.

  • Dave Ellis

    Simply calling faith evidence doesn’t make it actual evidence.

    Can you use faith to demonstrate the actual truth of the claims? If you can, how?

  • Damon Howell

    As can you.

    Now that everyone has permission to feel how they want, what would you accept as “proof” that they are fables?

  • Jeremiah Thom

    You are the one who said you “Know”, and yet fail to provide justification for what you claim to know. If i said i know that you murdered someone last night and called the cops on you, wouldn’t you demand evidence for it, especially if they are claiming to “Know”.

    How else can knowledge be defined? A subjective super belief? What is considered “Justification” to you? Evidence, or you just need a feeling?

    Is it possible for someone to hold a subjective truth which aligns with objectivity? Yes, i don’t claim there are no god’s, but someone’s subjective truth does not at all provide evidence to me or anybody else. Many people have been wrong in the thing’s they have believed which has uncovered objective truth. So should we still rely on subjective truth’s over objective ones?

    Trying to reverse your position onto me is not going to get you anywhere, it just tell’s me that you have absolutely nothing else. Nobody is bullying, or shaming or humiliating here, you are attacking a strawman to gain favor in your argument.

  • Damon Howell

    The parts that the whole thing is built on (Genesis through the Exodus story) are solidly Bronze Age myths.

    The rest of the OT is begats and “We made Yahweh mad so he sent an imperial power to smite us.”

    The NT is a little bit about the country preacher from Nazareth and his biggest fan that never met him and seems to disagree in the oddest places.

  • clint

    “Please stop insisting that we read our Bible like right-wing fundamentalists.”

    That’s odd, requiring a knowledge of something which one holds fundamental makes sense to me.

    “Please stop referring to our belief system(s) as fairy tales.”
    Talking snakes.

    “Maybe lay off the whole, “religion hasn’t done any good for humanity” type of argument, because it’s obnoxiously untrue.”
    The dark ages, the crusades, the inquisition.

    So an omnipotent creator creates with full knowledge of the suffering that is going to be caused and the outcome and goes ahead with it anyway. That, buddy, is reckless, it is evil and it is the work of a psychopath.

  • Jayden Hunter

    And is not the next logical step from progressive to become agnostic, deist…or to just jump in the pool with the atheists?

    Seems this is route guys like John Loftus, Robert Price, and Bart Erhman took (each with a slightly different position on the nature of reality).

    Why settle for a lukewarm position? It seems like the one least likely to be true, or if it is true, essentially anything goes, so why bother?

  • Jayden Hunter

    Might be a psychopath,,,but He Loves You…!

    Well, it’s good to see that Christianity is dying in America like in Europe; the ones that sound the most reasonable agree that the Bible isn’t fundamentally true.

    Next bus stop: Agnostic deism of some form with Jesus being “one of the better representations in the pantheon of gods of the unknown unspecific absolute truth.”

    Eventually this lands at the atheism station. The ones that want to enjoy life get there faster and they bring wine…

  • John

    The liberal churches are most definitely dying, but the more conservatives churches are actually still growing.

  • John

    I think it’s hilarious how you pass right over the “built of schools and fed some people.” What have you done for those people? I highly doubt it’s more than building them free schools or feeding them.

  • >someone’s subjective truth does not at all provide evidence to me or anybody else.
    On this we agree!!
    >Trying to reverse your position onto me is not going to get you anywhere, it just tell’s me that you have absolutely nothing else.

    It is you who Try to reverse your position onto me!
    Control addicts need scapegoats to blame for their shortcomings. Projecting your crap on me is not going legitimize your vapid philosophy or take away your anxiety and emptiness. In my humble opinion You have exposed yourself as someone who has not grown up enough to take responsibility for your own boorish Behavior. What you have to contribute to this conversation is to provide an example of someone who has no faith.

  • If you have faith you have evidence. If you have no faith you have no evidence. My faith is my evidence.

  • Yours is a purely subjective and rather paranoid point of view in my humble opinion. Stupid atheist and I have history you know not of. He is a gentleman I respect. You may be a black and white thinker and thus incapable of understanding!!

  • *chuckle* that is like asking a man have you stopped beating your wife!!?

  • Dave Ellis

    That’s not how evidence works. Just because you believe something does not make that thing true.

    Likewise, the fact you believe something does not serve as evidence for that belief.

  • >That’s not how evidence works.
    You don’t get to make up the rules.

  • Dave Ellis

    I’m not making up the rules, I’m telling you how evidence works. I didn’t create the rules, I’m simply passing them on.

    If you disagree, then by all means show us how the fact you have faith in something in any way can demonstrate that your belief is true. I don’t see how you can do that.

    However, if you can then you’ll also have to demonstrate how those people who hold contradictory views to yours based on faith are also correct, then explain how the violation of the law of non-contradiction is logically valid.

  • Brandon Roberts

    ok i’ll be fair and admit while not christian some of these annoy me too

  • >show us how the fact you have faith in something in any way can demonstrate that your belief is true. I don’t see how you can do that.

    Show me that you are not a control freak. I don’t see how you, Dave Ellis, can do that!!

  • Eolande Eliva

    Stupid Atheist indeed does appear to be a gentleman. You on the other hand..come across condescending and arrogant. If however, you are friends with him, then there is likely more to your comment than it appears here. Consider yourself lucky he is your friend.

  • Dave Ellis

    Simple, all I’ve done is ask you to justify your statement. I’m not taking control, I’m engaging in a discussion.

    Now can you justify your position, or can you not?

  • come across condescending and arrogant You are!

  • You must be lonely tonight coo. Why not have a nice hot cup of camomile tea, take a long hot shower after you walk your dog & settle down to a long winter nap?

  • Eolande Eliva

    Helped along by an atheist blogger (see my comment above).

  • Dave Ellis

    You speak as if making fun of me is somehow going to validate your position?

    If anything, it’s the tactic someone takes when they know they don’t have a good answer. So, I’ll leave that as it stands.

    The question is, are you going to do the intellectually honest thing and admit your belief is incorrect, or are you going to be intellectually dishonest and stick with it? Up to you either way.

  • No.

  • Dave Ellis

    FYI: People like you are why atheists sometimes get rude with Christians.

    When I attempted to engage in honest discussion on the point you raised, you avoided the conversation and insulted me. When it was then revealed you can’t justify your position, that doesn’t matter to you, and you’re going to continue believing it anyway.

    This is why religion is harmful. It’s a fundamentally dishonest construct which infects the minds of people like you, and causes you to spread it even though you know you can’t rationally justify the position.

    If you had any interest in truth, you’d take an honest stab at finding out what is true. Instead you don’t care, you believe what you want to, and pretend you’re justified because you use a terrible epistemological tool like faith.

    Grow up son.

  • Annoying Christians are more annoying than annoying atheists, to be fair. Actually the only reason why atheists can be annoying is that you can’t really refute what they say if they based their insults on actual observations and facts.

  • If I may answer “What have I done for those people” — if I had the mobilisation and the funding probably the same thing as building schools, hospitals—minus a church and mandatory proselytizing.

    It’s an ad hominem to accuse one of Hypocrisy just because “they haven’t done anything yet” (or even probably won’t be able to do anything at all). It’s actually very prominent among atheists to be very compassionate towards fellow human beings even only for thought and not action, even towards the religious – the only thing we don’t like about the religious is the annoying disregard for logic and consistency.

  • In my humble opinion it would be good to close up the grudge list & start a gratitude list. You may have a dry drunk going.

  • Dave Ellis

    I don’t have a grudge, I’m just pointing out facts.

    Do you think acting the way you are makes Christianity or Christians as people look good?

  • Elliot George

    To continue:
    ‘Please stop insisting that we read our Bible like right-wing fundamentalists.’

    Fundamentalists are the strongest believers aren’t they? Moderates are partway down the path to non-belief…

    But the real question is, why can’t the ‘Creator of the Universe’ communicate better with us?

    Why does He need to rely on the ancient accounts of ignorant iron-age goat herders?

    Why can’t She speak to us today in clear language?

  • Elliot George

    ‘Please stop referring to our belief system(s) as fairy tales.’

    Well, you need to differentiate them then.

    How do you distinguish between fact and fiction?

    I will be interested to hear your response…

  • Elliot George

    ‘Maybe lay off the whole, “religion hasn’t done any good for humanity” type of argument, because it’s obnoxiously untrue.’

    Now, I would be the last one to claim that the non-religious are perfect but let’s look at this realistically.

    Humanitarian acts are NOT the exclusive preserve of any religion. A very great many beneficial programmes are conducted by secular organisations like UNICEF, Medicin sans Frontiers, the UK government and billionaire benefactors like the Gates Foundation. These contributions are likely to be far greater and better focussed than Christian efforts for two reasons;

    1. They do not divert funds to the provision of lavish buildings for worship, resplendently dressed clergy, gold offertory plates and the like.

    2. Their kindness is not conditional on submitting to the control of the ‘Earthly representatives of a god’.

  • Mark

    Well now…. if the real god doesn’t excuse my ignorance because I have no way of knowing its name then it is not a particularly nice god. In which case I like you and everyone else is ‘you know what’ whether I am atheist or theist. So it does not matter. However you are wrong because my life and those I love and care about has been better for believing. My belief is not a sacrifice because I do not follow the traditional ritualistic practices just the ‘good Samaritan’ ones which are a pleasure beyond selfishness.

  • I am not a Christian.

  • Mark

    Rumpleteazer Didn’t God do a hands off thing with creation to allow free choice or the devil was given power on earth or whatever? I did not say the Bible condones things. I said it permits them. Jesus foretold the destruction of the temple. Why didn’t he prevent it or tell the Romans they shouldn’t?
    You’re right about the goofy stuff. To me goofy is better than contradictions or saying it’s a mystery.
    In science they make up goofy stuff and then try to disprove it. If they can’t then it is right until something better comes along. If they succeed then it was goofy. I’m fine with being goofy.

  • “I also have friends and relatives who are atheist. They are content to not believe but they do not try to impose their lack of belief on others. Fundamentalist atheists have agendas or issues of some type or another. If I am wrong about my Christian belief then I will have lost nothing but still will have gained much. What motivates people to try to take that away? Is it to hurt, born of envy? Or maybe they feel insecure and need evidence that they are right. Or maybe being Christian is too hard for them and it’s necessary to prove the error of Christian teaching.”

    This is the part of your response I find most problematic. Anecdotally speaking (as you were), I have never met a Fundamentalist atheist per se, but rather a Fundamentalist anti-theist. And, again anecdotally speaking, atheists tend to become anti-theist as a defensive response to having our basic rights and freedoms repeatedly infringed upon in the name of some theist or another’s god. It is not because the theist’s faith is too difficult for us, our own insecurity or envy, or even a need to be right. Rather, it is the desperate grasp for our very freedom to exist in what is supposed to be a secular society, but all too often in practicality becomes a theocracy. Most Fundamentalist anti-theist Americans I know live exclusively in the deeply red bible belt. Even the most peaceful and progressive of Christians I know consider prosletization to be an essential part of their faith — they’re just sharing the good news! But from people in positions of power that prosletization can become opression. *I* didn’t aquire an “agenda” until I was called upon to protect my secular humanist children from bullying and villification at the hands of their theist TEACHERS as well as their fellow students. I will gladly accept evidence to refute my accertion, but in my experience Fundamentalism in atheists exists almost exclusively as a defensive response to a much more dangerous and powerful theist majority.

  • seanchaiology

    Thanks for the vote of confidence and kind thought, but politics, while fun to talk about and discuss, is not something I have aspirations to do.

  • Joe Fogey

    I think you’ve done a good job of defeating the straw men you’ve created to fight, Benjamin. There are many points I could make about your article, but I’ll stick to two,

    In your section on fairy tales you accuse atheists of comparing christian beliefs about our behaviour to others to fairy stories, I’ve never heard an atheist do that in many years of discussion. What I have heard is a comparison between christian beliefs about miracles and the creation and fairy stories. Both miracles and a creator god, like true fairy stories such as Cinderella or Snow White involve supernatural powers so the comparison, if insulting, is at least valid. It’s interesting that the two examples you quote – Mickey Mouse and the old woman who lived in a shoe – aren’t fairy stories at all.

    I’ve never heard it suggested that religion does no good either, What I have heard suggested is that religion has some harmful effects, That’s a different proposition, which you haven’t dealt with. I guess straw men are easier to fight than genuine arguments.

  • seanchaiology

    You are partially right. It is correct to say that just because an individual believes something it does not necessitate reality. However, when a majority of the earth’s population believes in some sort of deity it does offer some evidence. Although it is not evidence that can be displayed or studied in a lab, it still remains as experiential evidence. To think otherwise is a display of arrogance. With that said, it is not proof of the existence of a deity, but nonetheless it remains evidence that “something” brings forth belief in deity for billions of people. It would simply seem, to me, that someone discrediting such experiential evidence is not doing their due diligence by discounting it so easily. Just my thoughts, open to being wrong.

  • Dave Ellis

    Actually, that’s not correct. You’re committing the appeal to popularity logical fallacy….. Just because a lot of people believe something doesn’t make it any more likely to be true. Large groups of people, even vast majorities of people can be wrong about any given topic.

    For example, at one point a vast majority of humans believed the earth was flat. Does that count as experiential evidence that the earth actually is flat? Of course not, and for me to say there is evidence of a flat earth because a lot of people believe it is, is a logical fallacy.

    Evidence is something that can be used to demonstrate the veracity of a claim. Someone’s belief can’t be used to demonstrate anything, nor can the beliefs of millions.

    And besides, you’re ignoring a very important point… not all people who believe in a god believe in the same god. Some religions believe in a single god (that usually contradicts the monotheistic gods of other religions), and then there are polytheistic religions with hundreds of gods.

    There has been an estimated 30,000 gods created by humans throughout history. Based on that, I agree with you that something brings forth a belief in a god among people, however that also doesn’t serve as evidence that the god in question actually exists… only the belief does.

    The only thing we can really justify is that humans have a long history of inventing gods to worship. Even if you believe in a god, that fact is inescapable. You just think one god is real, while the other 29,999 are made up by people.

    However, that must raise the question why you think your god is any more justifiable than anyone elses?

  • seanchaiology

    You are quite mistaken. Read what I wrote again more carefully and try not to discredit things I did not say. That is a fallacy. I never claimed that a majority believing made the existence of a deity more likely. I said that a majority belief was evidence that “something” caused that belief and that is worth exploring and should not be so quickly dismissed. Secondly, please point to where I made any reference to a single deity. I never claimed that, I said a belief in deity, not an individual or specific god. My choice of words was purposeful. Therefore, you are committing a fallacy by arguing against a claim I never made. You presupposed that I must be referencing one particular god, as well as you presupposed I hold a belief in a particular god. Neither of those points were directly made in what I said, nor were they implied.

  • Janhoi Mccallum

    Speaking as a fellow progressive Christian I can say some New Atheists and ardent Anti-theists are just as hard to dialogue with sometimes as religious fundamentalists. I have no problem with atheism itself but the militant atheists and anti-theists typically just start of a conversation with ridicules and insults and generalizations and the same “us v them” mentality fundamentalists have. The points here I also agree with entirely.

    (i)”Please stop insisting that we read our Bible like right-wing fundamentalists.”

    Couldn’t agree more! I never understood the impulse of anti-theists and critics of religion that insist that every religious person has to read the Bible like a fundamentalists. Fundamentalism itself is a modern movement that begun 150 years ago specifically among certain strands of American Protestantism(specifically outta Princeton University). And their interpretation of the Bible is modern as well. The Ancient Patristic Fathers and the Medieval Scholastics never read the Bible the way fundamentalists do and most Churches(Orthodox Church, Catholic Church, Mainstream Protestant Churches) don’t read the Bible the way fundamentalists do.

    (ii)”Maybe lay off the whole, “religion hasn’t done any good for humanity” type of argument, because it’s obnoxiously untrue”

    Agree with this one as well. Typically when you’re speaking to people about Christian history they just view it through the Crusades, Inquisitions, Galileo Trial, Wars of Religion, Slavery, etc. There arguments aren’t necessarily wrong it’s just a biased and one sided view of religious history. While Christianity has skeletons in it’s closet it also has positives it has done in human history as well.

    1)Social Justice
    -The founding Father of the concept of social justice was a Catholic Priest named Luigi Taperalli in the 19th century who drew off the Parable of the Sheep and Goats during the Industrial Revolution
    -Many of the major social justice movements(Civil Rights Movement and Dr King, Anti Apartheid Movement and Desmond Tutu, Polish Solidarity Movement the Break up of the Soviet Union with Pope John Paul II, Liberation theology in Latin America, Movement to end the Indonesian Occupation of East Timor and the Catholic Church) were inspired by the Churches.

    2)Human Rights
    -The concept of Human Rights derived from the work of Dominican Monks from the University of Salamanca in Spain such as Las Casas, Franscico De Vitoria, Antonio De Montesinos and others who were protesting the atrocities of the Conquistadors and who drew from both St Thomas Aquinas and the Parable of the Good Samaritan as their inspiration.
    -It was Christianization and the Biblical concept of everyone made in the image of God that led to things like the Roman Empire abolishing the Gladiatorial Games, the founding of the orphanage system as pointed out(by St Basil), the ending of infanticide and other such practices

    -People love talking about Galileo but many Clergymen played an important role in the development of the Sciences. It was Nicolaus Copernicus, a Catholic Priest, who initiated the scientific revolution
    -It was Gregor Mendel, a Catholic Monk, who helped discover Modern Genetics
    -It was Fr.George Lemaitre, Catholic priest who helped discover the Big Bang Theory
    -It was the Jesuits who were pioneers in things like Seismology(the study of earthquakes), our modern calendar for telling time, as well as astronomical discoveries hence why 35 craters on the moon are named after them.

    -It was the Church that built the University System of the West during the High Middle Ages
    -Institutions like Cambridge, Oxford, Toulouse, etc where developed by Churchmen and sometimes built off the monasteries that where there.
    -The Church was responsible for the preservation of the Classics in many cases. When Europe fell into the Dark Ages it was Monastics in places like Lindisfarn that helped preserved the Classics of writers like Plato and Aristotle

    I could go on and on on things like the Churches influence on Art, Literature, Music, etc. Typically the response you get when you mention these facts are (i)You’re lying. (ii) “Well they didn’t need to be religious to do that”. No one’s saying that they need to be religious to do those good things. Just like how you don’t have to be religious to commit atrocities in the name of an ideology either.

    I will readily join atheists in denouncing religious fundamentalism and uses of religion that are reactionary or oppressive. But when some atheists make sweeping generalizations of religious people, religious history, and religion in general, or assume all religious people are idiots or have a mental illness(pretty ableists) it just shows the biases some of them have.

  • Elliot George

    Can I call myself a retired science teacher please boss?

  • seanchaiology

    I agree with you that it is people like him that causes some atheists to become rude to Christians. However, that just creates a vicious cycle based on presuppositions and stereotypes. You said it, “people like” him. It is not the religion it is the people. When you assume that all who claim themselves to be Christian act like that then you are becoming discriminatory. Additionally, when people presuppose how someone will be behave based on such stereotypes, they themselves tend to preempt it and become rude before anything is even said or done. Then Christians develop the same negative presuppositions about atheists. It goes and on and on. I’ve said this elsewhere. People think others need to earn respect, but we would do much better and learn more if we simply offered respect until it was no longer deserved.

  • I’ve read the Bible four times, you don’t need to summarise it for me.

  • Because, like I said in my post, the difference in definition matters. Because fairy tales are primarily written for and target at children and are unapologetic about being fantasy, while myths are not. Because there’s really no context in which calling the Bible a fairy tale is not pejorative, while acknowledging and arguing that much of the Bible is myth is honest engagement. That’s why I’m being a stickler on this point.

    EDITED TO ADD: I’m also being a stickler on this point because so many atheists here are interpreting ‘don’t call the Bible a fairy tale’ as ‘don’t suggest the Bible isn’t literal truth.’ Which isn’t at all what’s being argued.

  • Can someone finally explain exactly what a ‘New Atheist’ even is?

    Is it someone who believes religion is detrimental and actively works to dismantle faith and organised religion? That’s an anti-theist.

    Is it someone who simply wants to harass and insult theists without offering substantive dialogue? That’s a troll.

    Is it someone who makes atheism part of their platform, who writes and speaks on the subject of being non-religious in a religious world? That’s just a vocal atheist, and calling them ‘New Atheists’ suggests that you believe a good atheist is a silent atheist.

  • “I’ve never heard an atheist do that in many years of discussion.”

    If you’ve never seen atheists refer to the Bible as a collection of fairy tales, you’ve never been on Twitter. Just because you personally haven’t seen something doesn’t mean it’s a straw man argument.

    As for claiming that Ben has never engaged with the idea that religion has some harmful effects, I’d like to introduce you to something called ‘His Entire Blog.”

  • Katara c.

    I think New Atheists are basically both of those things. They’re almost like evangelical anti-theists, rather than passive non-believers.

  • Katara c.

    No way! I’ve dealt with both types and I find the annoying atheists way more annoying. I guess in my experience, on the Christian side, I’ve had other Christians (I am one myself) tell me I don’t know Jesus cos I like to dress punk. Annoying and not well-supported Biblically? Yes. But much better than atheists telling me my beliefs can be “cured” if only I could be intelligent and reasoned enough ( which is made more annoying by the fact that I have an honours degree in anthropology, yet when talks on evolution or the history of religion come up with my atheist friends, that book they read once always seems to trump 4 years of education focused on the subject).

  • Janhoi Mccallum

    Atheists have a rights to speak up as much as they want. When I refer to New Atheists I am referring to the Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris movement. And I didn’t come up with the term by the way. They themselves came up with the label to label the movement they started that’s been picked up by the media, online blogs, etc.

    Again I have no issue with atheists speaking up about their views. I do have issues with as you mentioned anti-theists and people who just assume that if a person’s religious they are an idiot, and someone who takes a one sided view of religion, religious history, and religious people.

    As I mentioned I will readily join with atheists to tackle many common problems, including the issue of bigotry and prejudice towards atheists themselves.

  • Chris Crawford

    My position isn’t lukewarm. Atheism essentially says “I don’t see any evidence to justify belief.”

    But I do.

    Progressive thinking has helped me realize it’s not about some selfish hope to live forever, but a shared purpose in moving humanity forward to a better place.

    I’ve read a lot of Loftus and Ehrman (nothing from Price). Loftus in particular. It feels like he’s guilty of the same kind of thinking that made him fundamentalist before, it’s just turned the other way now.

  • Chris Crawford

    The phrase “edited together poorly” makes me think you don’t really understand where I’m coming from.

    Masterful editing would indicate the books were altered quite a bit in order to fit them together. What we have indicates each book, written decades or centuries apart, remain fairly close to their raw state, and are thus more genuine.

    Here are a couple of examples of what I’m talking about:

    1. A huge theme throughout the entire bible is that God works through weakness and humility. Genesis follows this closely; despite having the bulk of power, in no case does the eldest son carry the legacy forward. When men gain power, like Saul and David, it goes very badly. Too many examples to list, but understanding the theme informs how the stories are to be read.

    2. Numerology. In the ancient near east, the symbolic meaning of numbers would be considered more “literal” than their iterative values. For instance, a man of twenty-eight might be mentioned as being forty because the latter number expressed the man’s character better.

  • Filip Lindkvist

    The historicity of Jesus can be debated, sure, but look at the story of Noah’s Ark for example. It’s clearly a myth that has been told in many different versions throughout the centuries. It even has some classical fairy tale elements, like a bunch of cute animals all going on a magical boat journey together. Only a fundamentalist would claim that it really happened, but to most Christians, it doesn’t matter that it’s just a story. As with all of Genesis, the point isn’t whether it happened or not, but what the story is trying to say.

    Let’s compare that for a moment with the Nickelodeon show Avatar: the Last Airbender. A lot of people would say that a cartoon can’t be compared to a biblical story, and in a way I can’t really say I disagree. I don’t think Avatar is in the same ballpark as the Bible, because it’s far more beautiful and spiritually fulfilling than anything the Bible has to offer, and I know I’m not the only one who feels that way. We have no problem admitting that it’s a fairy tale, though, because its fictional nature doesn’t rob it of any of its powerful message. Even a fairy tale can contain truth.

    Stories mean a lot to many people, and we’re all affected by them differently. When I look at the stories that have affected me, and mean so much to me, I can’t help but wonder what it is about your (Christian) stories that makes them so high and mighty. Because I sure can’t see it.

  • JustThink

    My wife called me an anti theist the other day. I realized that it does describe the large part of me that sees religion as more harmful and divisive than good. Great things have definitely come from religious teachings and religious people. But on the whole, those same people could have done those same things without believing in supernatural gods (as we see from secularists and humanists all the time).
    But although I may technically be an anti theist, my only real goal is to keep faith out of government (in the US, public policy based on the Christian faith impacts around 30% of the population who are not Christian) and to promote equality. How people can argue against the “live and let live” and “golden rule” mentality that I choose to live by is baffling to me. I’m not out to stop you from practicing your religion unless you are harming other people with it.

  • Alan Duval

    Of course you are right about the Bible being, in large part, allegory. By extension, you have to accept the possibility that the very concept of God is allegory, too. Indeed, read almost any part of the Bible and replace God with I (meaning the author) either believe this, know that my people believe this, or believe that we should adopt this action. The exception being those sections where he is making a statement and finishing it with ‘I am the Lord’, because that is just the author attempting to establish God’s bona fides in the minds of his readers (itself a telltale sign that the God character is allegorical for the sum of Hebrew experience).

    My favourite thing about the ‘Good Samaritan’ is that the only genuinely good character in the story was also the only one that didn’t believe in Yahweh.

    For someone who studies philosophy “my conclusion is that the teachings of Jesus Christ are true” is a borderline meaningless statement. The most you could say is that Christ’s teachings portray a useful means to achieve given goals (personal peace, world peace, whatever). However, if the given goal is eternal life, then the teachings are demonstrably false, as the very concept of an eternal soul is untenable.

    No, I wasn’t asking why the OT is included in the Christian Bible, it is the backstory, without God and belief in the fall, everything in the New Testament is irrelevant. That is, except and unless Christ’s teachings lead to a better society for all. And whilst one might argue that this is broadly true, you would have to note that the primary lesson is the Golden Rule (which appears in every major religion, and is thus, far from unique). And that his proclamations are just that, proclamations, and fail to allow for contexts where any given rule wouldn’t be true.

    I don’t know if it was intentional or not, but conflating the two distinct meanings of faith is sloppy. This article articulates why, well:


  • Alan Duval

    Not sure that new atheists themselves did come up with the term. The general consensus seems to be that Gary Wolf at Wired did, or at least brought it into the mainstream.

    There’s an excellent article floating about on how new atheists are no different from old atheists, but I can’t seem to put my hand to it, just now.

  • Jeremiah Thom

    Oh noes, i have no faith! I also have no mana power either! Faith is the excuse people give for believing in something when they have no good reasoning, if they had good reasoning then they would never need to make appeals to faith.

    If all you are going to do is ad hominem, it tell’s me that you are just mean minded and have nothing on your side, no evidence, no reasoning at all. We are done.

  • Jeremiah Thom

    I agree, and this goes the same to atheists, any god who punishes those for admitting they don’t know is not a god i can worship. I certainly won’t just pick a idea and go with it, that is the difference between us is rationality.

  • I like what
    Janhoi Mccallum said
    2 hours ago

    >I have no problem with atheism itself but the militant atheists and anti-theists typically just start of a conversation with ridicules and insults and generalizations and the same “us v them” mentality fundamentalists have.

  • Jayden Hunter

    I have not read Price yet, but I’ve listened to many hours of him on Youtube, he’s very entertaining, succinct, and poignant, imho.
    I have yet to see his debate with Erhman.

    You say “moving humanity forward” and yet, it seems to me that religion has mostly been a hindrance to such progress, in fact, the very fact that you’ve become more “progressive” is evidence of this. You’ve rejected the narrowness of Judaism, Christianity–at least it’s strict forms–and Islam, Mormonism, etc.

    So, I ask: Why then not become a deist?

    You see evidence of a god, fine. So a god exists, even as an atheist, I understand this feeling, life seems too unreal to not have a purpose, meaning, a cause.

    I get it.

    But the second you put ANY label, any label, any name, doctrine, anything, even a liberal one, you’re just injecting your own subjective mindset and prejudices.

    If a god or God does exist, why wouldn’t that being be just as likely to be hateful and cruel and capricious as kind and loving?

    If you’re going to go with imagination and feeling than any god is as likely as another, in fact, a simple viewing of the news on any given evening would seem to indicate a sadistic god if one exists.

    I just don’t get liberal progressive Christianity, as a former Christian, I understand the faith and what it teaches…I can’t see how watering down (or if that’s not a good word, “progressive making”) of the religion.

    Why bother?

    If progressives are correct, then why not make a religion out of Lord of the Rings…or Narnia?

  • What?

  • I’m not sure if you have kids or not, but I’d submit that every one of us who chooses to have children intentionally, creates them full knowing the suffering they’ll experience in life. I don’t think the vast majority of humans who have ever lived are psychopaths, but by your definition, they are.

  • NavarWynn

    So, as an atheist here’s some $h:t I wish (most) Christians would stop doing.

    Please stop acting like a bunch of uneducated or unenlightened idiots (even though several of you are well educated ;) ) – especially when you don’t like the implications.

    I’m sorry, but science is REAL. It IS how the world works. Physics, Chemistry, and Biology define everything from the ‘miracle’ of a modern smartphone (which we only have today because of an understanding of some of Quantum Mechanics BTW), to electric cars, to kids who SURVIVE childhood cancer (thank a researcher who has an understanding of Biology, Chemistry, and Medicine). This means that you’ll have to accept some related hard truths – like that climate change is real, and it’s (mostly if not completely) a result of the industrial revolution.

    Please stop reading your Bible like right-wing fundamentalists.

    I understand that if you begin to go down the road that the Bible is largely a compilation of contemporary stories , which are tied together to form a cohesive and uniting whole – you know, instead of the literal and specific word of God uttered through the ears of the authors – it begins to diminish the impetus of the central ‘justification’ for your religion. Which would be bad (I assume). But doing so has a detrimental effect on modern society. And pulling out random quotes which seem to have been authored 3000+ years in the past used literally to justify your hate and bigotry and misogyny (…and this is something I see “Christians” doing on a DAILY basis here in the South) only highlights the hypocrisy of calling yourself a Christian when the rationalization for your feelings is from deep in the Old testament.

    Please stop referring to our belief system(s) as fairy tales.

    See, the thing is, we know science works. The proof surrounds us. I can turn on my phone and watch a movie, or surf the internet, or play Angry Birds. Because of science. My kid survived her Leukemia- something that was a death sentence 40 yrs ago – because of Science. GPS works ONLY because it incorporates relativistic time dilation calculations into the software running the satellites. So, yeah, as long as there exists no evidence that a Diety exists, there is no reason for us to believe in one…. and, so far, no evidence has been found supporting God’s existence, but LOTS of evidence has been found to explain most things that were originally attributed to God – and everything we have proven so far (as far as the ‘rules’ of Physics in our Universe) seems to make his defining characteristics very difficult if not impossible. I’m sorry, but the preponderance of the evidence seems to support the conclusion that God is just an imaginary friend. And MY beliefs are called a fairy tale!

    Maybe lay off the whole, “religion has done mostly good for humanity” type of argument, because it’s obnoxiously untrue.

    Yeah, it’s a mixed bag. We all know that, but recall that this statement includes OTHER religions as well. While Christianity has done (historically) a great job of spreading “Civilization” at the tip of a spear. So has Islam. The historic Caliphate was a civilized and educated civilization – FAR MORE so than the contemporary ‘Christian’ countries… The wars that followed were… well… Epic. The pretext of religion (Christianity) was a universal rallying call to perpetrate the heinous activity… Then there was the colonization of the new world… 95-99% of the native peoples (at least in North America) did not survive that. Clearly THAT was GOOD for Humanity? … and before you say “That was all in the past! We are ‘modern’ Christians now!”…. recall that even today, we see “Christians” who call for the registration and detainment of Islamic people in the United States…. So yeah, a lot of good, but just as much if not a whole lot more bad (death).

    So please get off your high horse. Don’t act like every SINGLE argument you’ve used aren’t used by Christians FAR MORE FREQUENTLY against Atheism in general, or doesn’t have a CLEAR and HISTORIC reason for it’s use. Most Atheists don’t have any particular agenda, this is directly contrary to the Christian desire to convert – total number of times I’ve tried to ‘convert’ people? 0. Number of times I’ve been ‘targeted’ for conversion? Too many times to count….

  • “The Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris movement.”

    So…white straight atheist men with a media platform. That doesn’t narrow it down.

  • So if non-believers aren’t ‘passive’ (i.e. silent) we’re lumped into a new, pejorative grouping? Christians can talk about their faith in a multitude of ways and mediums and no one distinguishes them from ‘passive Christians.’ I speak openly and honestly about living non-theistically in a theistic world and I vehemently oppose the power structures of organised religion. Does that make me a ‘New Atheist?”

  • Heh. Sorry, just the way you worded that made me laugh; as if books weren’t a thing anywhere else in the world.

    ((Edited to add: I don’t think that you think books didn’t exist anywhere else in the world at that point; thought I should clarify that, since I’m sometimes not as clear as I’d like to be))

  • “I’ve never heard an atheist do that in many years of discussion.”

    If you’ve never seen atheists refer to the Bible as a collection of fairy tales, you’ve never been on Twitter.

    And have ignored the rest of the comments here; it’s shown up dozens of times over the past day.

  • Robert Conner

    Because you “believe in God in some form or another”? Given that ‘definition’ you could be a Mormon or a Hindu. The Romans had Christianity figured 18 centuries ago.


  • This one might get me in trouble, but here’s another frustration for you (which I’ve had the “pleasure” of experiencing many times):

    Them: Hey, you’re religious, right?
    Me: …yeah?
    Them: Where’s the proof that your god exists?
    Me: …sorry, what?
    Them: You’re religious. That means you’re making a truth statement, and the burden of proof falls on you.
    Me: I’m not, though. I’m literally sitting here minding my own business. I was making no statements at all until you approached me.

    There are of course some deviations, but it always follows that pattern. Maybe it’s initiated because I’m involved in a discussion about what the text says, maybe it’s a discussion about the differences between religions, maybe it comes completely out of nowhere. But whatever the case, it’s for some reason taken as a given that “you have a religious belief, therefore the burden of proof falls on you even though you weren’t attempting to make any truth claims about your religion.” It’s a perversion of logical argumentation, in part because it assumes that I’m making an argument simply by being present.

  • Robert Conner

    Well said! What would we make of someone who “believes in fairies in one form or another”? Or trolls? Well, OK, I do believe in trolls. Christian trolls in particular.

  • Robert Conner

    Yeah, very impressive. Now for that reality check. Here’s a Christian exporting hatred all over the planet and encouraging state-sponsored murder of LGBT people.


  • Damon Howell

    Well, you asked if I can prove that they are fables. Unless you provide some parameters as to what would qualify as proof, your question is nonsensical.

  • Damon Howell

    You questioned why I classed it as Bronze Age fables, I explained.

  • Robert Conner

    The “new atheists” are apparently the out-spoken critics who make Christians and Muslims all butt hurt because they have a public platform. On the other hand, there are what I call “new Christians,” the ones who cling to Christianity even though its central prophecy failed over 19 centuries ago.

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

    Didn’t happen. They all died.

    Even so, you too, when you see these things happening, recognize that He is near, right at the door. Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. (Mark 13:29-30)

    Nope, that generation passed away.

    …we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. (1 Thessalonians 4:15-17)

    Also didn’t happen. Nobody Paul wrote to is “still alive.”

    “I am,” said Jesus. “And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.” (Mark 14:62)

    So didn’t happen.

    When you are persecuted in one place, flee to another. Truly I tell you, you will not finish going through the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes. (Matthew 10:23)

    Also didn’t happen. Again.

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

    Nope, didn’t happen either. All dead.

    What I am saying, brothers, is that the time is short. From now on those who have wives should live as if they had none… (1 Corinthians 7:29)

    Au contraire, plenty of time. Take a second honeymoon in Ireland. Take your gay spouse.

    Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come. (1 Corinthians 10:11)

    Sorry! Wrong again! It’s all still here.

    And do this, understanding the present time: The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is nearly over; the day is almost here… (Romans 13:11-12)

    Almost here? Not even close.

    He who is the faithful witness to all these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon!” Amen! Come, Lord Jesus! (Revelation 22:20)

    Don’t wait up.

    They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.” (2 Peter 3:4)

    Good question!

  • Erp

    Were they paying local Haitian farmers for the food or were they bringing in outside food and undercutting the local economy? Did they hire local people to build the school and buy supplies locally?

  • Noah


    I just push the burden of proof on (the triune :) God. It certainly isn’t our job to prove something that doesn’t or can’t exist in the only realm we share.

  • Noah

    Skipping over most, yup. I assumed all evangelicals were dumb. Then I actually got to know a bunch.

    That said I’m in Massachusetts, so we may feel a need to dig deeper and be more prepared to know/explain/defend our truth.

  • I feel sorry for you d. You seem to be someone who’s haunted and bound by some class of intellectual construct you call parameters. I have no idea what those are or what you assume a parameter is. Makes me dizzy Just to think of it!!

  • Guest2
  • Plainsrabbit


  • PStryder

    The belief IS a truth claim. Having the belief is making a truth claim (even it’s purely private and internal) about reality.

    Now, as to whether I should walk up and ask someone if they are religious; sure, it’s an asshole thing to do. But to claim holding the belief is not making a truth claim is inaccurate at best.

    Also, let’s not forget religious people are trying to shape policy based on their belief. At that point, I have EVERY right to challenge them. (That doesn’t give me the right to go accost people who are just sitting enjoying their lunch – but it’s a FB conversation about policy that is informed by their religious belief and impacts the lives of others – I have EVERY right to jump in and criticize the belief that is the foundation of the opinion on the policy. Still doesn’t give me a right to be an asshole.)

  • 1blueadept2

    Not a fairy tale? Please explain how Noahs ark is not a fairy tale, or virgin birth, or ascending into heaven? Maybe if you would police yourselves better, and get rid of the Ken Hamms, or stop trying to disprove science, we could get along.

  • I’d love to see the line of logic that leads you to conclude that a person can be making a claim (an action) when they are neither saying nor doing anything.

    And I would agree with you that, if it’s a conversation about (e.g.) public policy where a person’s stance is shaped by their belief, it’s entirely fair to discuss and dissect that belief. You’ll notice, however, that I included no such examples when discussing this interaction in my original comment.

  • PStryder

    A belief is, by definition, a truth claim. You are claiming the belief is a true statement about whatever subject is under consideration.

    Whether it is expressed or not, it is still a claim about reality. SO I’m not sure why you are taking issue with this. I already agreed – accosting someone out of the blue about their religious belief is an asshole thing to do. But being an asshole doesn’t negate the belief being a truth claim.

  • Francis Bacon

    Are there jerks that are atheists? Sure. We call them out all of the time. But let’s see what else you wrote.

    Atheist fundamentalists:
    Atheists can’t be fundamentalists as there are no fundamentals. Either you believe in a god (theist) or you don’t (atheist). There is no gray area and no, agnosticism isn’t a gray area because if you aren’t sure if you believe something then you don’t believe it!

    Stop calling us stupid:
    Atheists should not call all theists uneducated/stupid. That’s simply not true as there are many theists that are quite well educated and intelligent. That’s an easy one to refute and other atheists should make sure to police that.

    Gosh! I didn’t mean it like that:
    So if I am able to purchase another human being as property and pass them down to my children what would you call that? What if I could even beat these people I own as long as I don’t beat them so hard that they die right away? If you called this concept anything but slavery you are incorrect. You would also be incorrect if you said that the bible is against slavery (unless it’s against slavery of Israelites… kind of). If you are going to tell me that the correct way to read the bible is to understand that it means the exact opposite of what is written then you can kindly dispose of any notion of the bible being a moral guide. Of course, any Christian reading this already agrees with me as there are about a thousand different denominations that all disagree on what is actually being communicated by the book. If nobody can agree on what it says, what good of a guide is it?

    They’re not fairy tales:
    I guess it depends on how you define fairy tales.

    But religion does good stuff:
    Religious people can do good stuff. Who would argue against that? Now, tell me exactly what good religious people do that can’t be done without religion. I’ll wait the rest of my life if it takes you a while to find something. As for religious organizations having money to do things? Obviously. Religions have had a lot of power over a lot of people for a lot of time. How could there not be religious charitable organizations?

    I agree that atheist groups have their issues that need to be worked on, but the issues in many religions are baked into the cake.

  • PStryder

    They are taking an action – they are HOLDING a belief. Holding a belief is logically equivalent to making a truth claim.

  • I’m taking issue with it because I disagree as a matter of definition. To make a claim is an active verb. To hold a belief is a stative verb. I do not see how a person can be performing an action when they are not performing an action, and so I am asking you to explain. Preferably by doing more than simply repeating the claim.

    And yes, I am indeed glad that we agree that accosting someone out of the blue is an asshole action. But you responded disagreeing with a fundamental aspect of my comment; did you really expect that I wouldn’t push back? Particularly when that disagreement over that fundamental aspect is the justification those assholes give for acting like assholes?

  • PStryder
  • Francis Bacon

    I’m guessing this hypothetical conversation has never actually happened.

  • My disagreement isn’t about the phrase “truth claim.” My disagreement is about the word “making.”

  • You got me. Even though I explicitly stated that I’ve had this conversation multiple times, it never happened. It’s all a lie I made up because I enjoy the attention.

  • In case it wasn’t clear, that was sarcasm.

  • Telling us to police ourselves better is denying any responsibility you might have. It’s classic tu quoque.

  • PStryder

    Adopting a belief (or accepting one) is accepting that belief as true. The act of accepting the belief is an act equivalent to making a truth claim.

    I can’t explain this any other way. I could rephrase over and over again, but I don’t think it will help. I’m not sure how I can make myself any clearer.

  • Mike De Fleuriot

    Maybe I am a fundamentalist atheist, but there is a need for such atheists. We are the ones who are willing to fight the real fight against the religious. We do not make accommodation with the enemy.

  • You realize you just made the author’s point, don’t you?

  • Francis Bacon


  • Then we are at an impasse, because I don’t know how to be any clearer that a person who is not acting is not performing an active verb. I’m sorry that we can’t find common ground here, but I’m very happy that this conversation was as civil as it was. I’d be happy to have this frustrating lack of agreement with you again :-P

    (Because tone is hard to convey in a pure text format like this, I’m serious, it was a pleasure talking with you even though we didn’t reach an agreement)

  • PStryder

    Same here. Perhaps it’s an issue of, as you say, you see holding a belief as a static action, but I taking ‘holding’ as semantically equivalent to ‘accepting’ which is a more active verb.

  • sugarpuddin

    As an Atheist, I don’t really care what you believe. Just stop trying to make it the law. Civil law. If your law requires you to hate someone, then you need to be restricted. Since the Christian fairy tale was told many times before by other religions.. pagans as we call them, I guess it is as good as any and the benevolent parts need to be followed. ….or just shut up about all that peace crap.

  • Are you kidding? I consistently see comments about us believing in an “invisible sky wizard”, “fairy tales” and other clear statements meant to ridicule our beliefs. Ridicule is not an argument however, it’s just ridicule.

  • using what scale? Is there some kind of objective annoyance measuring system that I’ve not heard of yet?

  • That’s using the word fundamental in a different sense than Benjamin used it. Fundamentalists refer to a specific sect of Christianity that refers to the bible hyper-literally. I’m sure you know this. We also know that in other real life situations being hyper-literal is often not constructive or helpful.

  • Some sources would be nice for this, and as a believer, I would be interested in reading them.

  • Yes, but that problem is one of intent vs. outcome. Bill Clinton himself apologized to the Haitian people for doing the exact same thing with his aid initiatives. (Source: Poverty, Inc.)

  • Dessany

    And this is one of the reasons atheists are so disliked and not trusted. After all, if anyone who says or does something hateful or condemning is defined as “not christian”, then of course the atheist is the end of that trail. All the hateful and condemning people fall into the non-religious set. I’m sure it feels good to do that. It doesn’t feel so good to be on the other side of that separation from the hateful.

  • Once again, making the author’s point for him.

  • That’s using the word fundamental in a different sense than Benjamin used it. Fundamentalists refer to a specific sect of Christianity that refers to the bible hyper-literally. I’m sure you know this. We also know that in other real life situations being hyper-literal is often not constructive or helpful.

    The slavery discussion was not directly addressed by this article, you’ve just assumed Christians have no argument for this (that you haven’t heard yet) and based on this assumed premise you make the conclusion that it’s not a moral guide. You could at least be open to a possible future article or discussion on this topic instead of having already closed your mind.

    The use of the term “fairy tales” is intended as ridicule. Ridicule is not a valid form of argumentation, it’s a tactic used to “win” without using reason.

    People can do good things without religion. It’s true that correlation does not equal causation. However, sometimes there IS a correlation, and just because some people act “good” without being religious does not somehow negate religion and belief as a cause for “good” in others.

  • Herm

    You don’t know God. For those who actually do God is infinitely (well seemingly so from our perspective from puny earth) more realized than just a makeup of three influences. It is no more my job to prove to you the existence of the quark than it is mine to prove to you that Cain and Able are a metaphor for the Fertile Crescent becoming civilized. I sought the answer and I received the answer. I can testify that so can you seek the answer, when and if you realize the futility of mankind insisting to believe they are in control of their existence fully capable of instituting the necessary balance to continue. What are the odds?

  • does this mean that somehow we should give up on trying to get along better? Will the world be better if we just hide behind excuses and have petty arguments based on anger and bias?

  • Extreme Republicans and Democrats are the same way. It’s the “extreme” that causes this behavior.

  • Herm

    Thanks Ben! It’s working!

  • By the way I am working on the Ken Hamms, but they are very persistent in sticking around. http://www.christianfreak.com/2015/01/ken-hamm-preaches-to-choir-not-atheists/

  • I agree with you about the first part. There is nothing in the Christian religion that says we must force others by law to be like us. However, after you made that point your tone got kind of derogatory. People will be more open to discussing things if you don’t ridicule their position from the beginning.

  • Basically you just ignored what was posted, dismissed it, changed the subject, and used an example of one evil person to make a hasty generalization about an entire religion.

  • There was no deduction there, only questions. “Does this mean” is asking you if you meant something.

  • Marc B.

    Really fascinating thread. What I realize and what I think is we all look at and evaluate and experience life through our own particular lens. Some experiences and realizations are so powerful that they convict us to a particular belief or non-belief, and it won’t matter what you say or do, that person is going to believe what they believe. Having been a Christian for many years now, I never really felt compelled to convert or convince anyone about what I believe, or what someone “ought” to believe. Sure, there were certain moments where I felt so strongly about it that I wanted to plead my case. However, I think it is a very personal journey for each of us. If I ever met someone who was interested in Christianity or having a discussion about it, I would want to share my experiences and what I believe. But whether atheist or theist, I’m more interested in listening to what shaped that conclusion for that person, because I am just naturally more interested in a persons narrative than just mechanically quoting Bible verses or having a certain religious agenda. What I also notice from reading around the blogosphere is more and more Christians questioning established traditions and dogmas and being “less certain”. I welcome this development. Personally I think it would be better if Christians in general stopped being so vocal and started being more quiet and contemplative.

  • If I may, I think (based on your reaction) that you may have misinterpreted what Ben meant by “please stop insisting that we read our Bible like right-wing fundamentalists.” You seem to interpret that as “please stop insisting that we read our Bible (only right-wing fundamentalists do that),” while Ben meant it as “please stop insisting that the right-wing interpretation is the correct one and that those who interpret it differently are wrong.”

  • I don’t particularly consider myself a dumbass, but I’m sure there are thousands on the internet who disagree with me.

  • The Irish Atheist already explained how it’s not a fairy tale elsewhere in this thread.

    But I’m probably one of just a few Christians you’ll meet who has been fortunate enough to have turned policing my own tribe into a full-time career, so I’m not sure how much more some of you folks would like me to do on that front.

  • Marc B.

    Your comments say more about you than they do about Ben. Just callin it like it is.

  • Curtis Saurer

    If I believed hard enough that snow white and the seven dwarfs was real. And preached the importance of believing in snow white and her apostles (dwarfs). I would leave myself open to ridicule and rightfully so. But when religious people speak the virtues of a zombie that walked on water we are supposed to give that story a break because its old. News flash its not the oldest story out there.

  • Curtis Saurer

    Truth hurts and the religious get their feelings hurt easily.

  • Francis Bacon

    There is nothing to be “hyper-literal” about as an atheist as there is no atheist bible. This is a false equivalency. So even as you have defined the term it is not applicable to atheists.

    Slavery was not directly addressed but rather things in the bible were. If you have a sound argument for why the bible says slavery isn’t okay then by all means present the argument. However, don’t be surprised when you realize I know the apologetic better than you as I’ve heard the same ones about a dozen times. Let me guess, it isn’t REAL slavery right?

    Again, if you define the term “fairy tale” as a means of ridicule then it is a means of ridicule. A thing is what it is.

    Finally, you have again ignored my point. I said that religious organizations can do good things and inspire others to do good. What I said was religion was not needed for any of that to happen. You entirely missed the point.

  • Curtis Saurer

    Religious people do what your saying constantly. I had a guy at work walk up to me and wanted me to explain why I don’t believe. Of course I explained myself and I know for a fact his beliefs where shaken. There isn’t a religious person of any faith that can explain why they believe in their particular nonsense and not others nonsense except because of faith. Faith is nothing of importance, having it is false hope that makes otherwise intelligent people do and believe stupid shit.

  • UglyShirts

    $#!+ I wish Christians would stop doing:

    1) Please stop enabling bigotry against the LGBTQ community.
    2) Please stop pretending women are second-class citizens.
    3) Please stop assuming your god is better than all others.
    4) Please stop acting as though the bible is a science book.
    5) Please stop with the smug, sanctimonious self-righteousness.
    6) Please stop equating any challenge as “persecution.”
    7) Please stop assuming YOUR religion should dictate others’ lives.
    8) Please stop minimizing atrocities committed by your own.
    9) Please stop proselytizing.
    10) Please stop pretending the flawed, contradictory, outdated Bible is the “unchanging divine word of the almighty.”

    That’d be a good start.

  • Francis Bacon

    We would have to define exactly what we mean by the term “fairy tale”. If we define it as a club sandwich then no, no stories in the bible are fairy tales. If we define it as “a children’s story about magical and imaginary beings and lands.” then it’s a fairy tale as long as we consider them to be stories for children.

  • You’re going to have to help me out here, because I just went back and reread my comment and can’t see where I said that this was something that only atheists did. But I must have, or else your response makes very little sense.

  • Robert Conner

    Well, maybe not an “entire” religion.

    “The Catholic Church Has Paid Out $3,994,797,060.10 as a Result of the Sex Abuse Scandals.” (National Catholic Reporter)

  • Curtis Saurer

    Didn’t have to. Religious people by a vast majority do do that.

  • Damon Howell

    And you’re trying to change the subject.

    I’ve given you my reasoning behind referring to the contents of the bible as fables. You asked for proof, I’m asking what would qualify as proof that they are fables.

  • John

    Aw, but you don’t have the mobilisation or funding, do you? That’s the point. The non-religious don’t do that.

    Statistically, non-religious people are the least generous.

  • Let me make sure I’m reading you right; you’re saying that, even though I didn’t say it, I must have meant it, because it’s something religious people say and I’m a religious person? Is that a fair interpretation of what you’re saying right now?

  • Dorfl

    Having grown up in a place where religion basically isn’t a thing, it’s always a surreal experience reading this sort of stuff. It’s a bit like stumbling into an alternate universe where right-handedness is considered a strange aberration, and people write lengthy texts analysing why some deviants persist in using the wrong hand.

  • Realist1234

    1. Simply because one disagrees with same sex relationships, does not ‘enable’ bigotry.
    2. Jesus treated women with respect, and indeed it was a woman who first met the risen Jesus.
    3. Not so much that the Christian God is ‘better’, more is the only one in existence.
    4. It tends to be certain atheists who insist that the Bible is treated as such, and then dismiss it.
    5. Fair point. All sinners.
    6. Fair point, though in many countries around the world, there is genuine persecution of people simply because they are Christians.
    7. Fair point.
    8. I dont think we do. Atheists tend to minimise the atrocities committed by atheistic regimes down through the centuries.
    9. Preaching the Gospel is a command of Jesus, so youll just have to put up with it.
    10. Not sure about that. Jesus’ words in particular are still pretty relevant today. Specify the contradictions.

  • Marc B.

    Big deal

  • sTv0

    “There is nothing in the Christian religion that says we must force others by law to be like us.”

    Um, yes, there is. It’s in your book. You’ve read it, right? In fact, your Jesus makes this point quite specifically clear.

  • Realist1234

    Simply because you personally dont believe such and such an event could happen does not mean it did not happen. The naturalistic mind-set inevitably means miracles, for example, are dismissed out of hand. As for science, I think its great as I studied it.

  • Jeremiah Thom

    Funny thing is, from my point of view, i have not rediculed you or insulted or generalized you at all only showed you how your so called evidence does not work as much as it might for you.

    All along i been asking you for is the evidence of this god that YOU have claimed existed in which i am unable to recognize, and all i got in return has been nothing but “Oh my god, he is attacking me, i am”shakes” gulp being prosecuted by a mean atheist! *cries*

    How about stop whining and provide the evidence in which you claim exists, instead of redirecting towards how you feel you are being treated, that get’s us nowhere. If this is the endgame of when someone ask’s for evidence in which you can’t back up, you are just a child and using word’s that you don’t even understand.

    Yes, i have offended you because you are intellectually dishonest when you claim to know something that you can’t even justify. You have a right’s to believe anything you want, but when you use the word “Know”, be prepared to fork up the justification that you claim to have for such claims, and when it’s asked from you and you get into a corner and cry that you are being prosecuted, that does not work as justification to anybody, it mean’s you have nothing to stand on and you know it.

  • Realist1234

    I think youre talking about some Christians. I would suggest the majority dont hate, and certainly not with a smile on their faces.

  • Realist1234

    Jesus wasnt invisible.

  • In all seriousness, which illness do you think believing in a higher power equates to? Is there some diagnostic criteria in the DSM V one could look to? What would the treatment be?

    If you’re going to make the assertion that one (mainly I) am mentally ill for believing in God, please explain that in a little more detail if you’re not simply intending to simply be childish.

  • Mikko

    1 to 10 stop womansplaining.

  • Jeremiah Thom

    To claim to know something in which you are unable to provide justification for and then go to a corner and cry that you are being prosecuted when asked how do you know, is not humble at all!

  • Dan McLeod

    It is a fairy tale though…

  • Actually you missed MY point. Christian fundamentalists are the ones that have the hyper-literal problem. However you were using “fundamentalists” in a different way toward atheists. So you actually are using the false equivalence, not me. I was trying to explain that there was one in the first place.

  • Ok then. I’m glad we can agree that we all should try to get along better and be less adversarial. This is progress! :)

  • The scientific & medical community disagree with you, and nothing in the DSM 5, the manual for diagnosing a mental illness, classifies belief in God as a mental illness.

    So essentially, what you’re telling me is that your personal belief system leads you to reject science.

    And yet you find yourself superior to the likes of Ken Ham because?

  • Aw, never heard of secular charities? Did you know Bill Gates is an atheist and he has the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation?

    Bill Gate’s foundation isn’t listed here but there’s more: http://freethoughtpedia.com/wiki/Secular_charities

    What I was talking about was from a point of view on an individual, average atheist.

    It’s really unfortunate religious folks do the talking first before the research.

    Ah, Statistics, I LOVE statistics. Would you like to hear about:

    1.) Divorce rates among religious beliefs;
    2.) Abortion rates among religious beliefs;

    3.) Whose kids are more GENEROUS (theist’s vs atheist’s); [I like to have a citation for this one quickly: http://bit.ly/1TEprn2, http://bit.ly/1EmHbwg%5D

    4.) Percentage of believer/non-believer in the National Academy of Sciences;
    5.) Percentage of believer/non-believer in federal prisons;
    6.) Who scored more in the religious knowledge test conducted by the Pew Research Center (for religion and Public Life);

    I love surprising so I would leave you to look that up, but I am also generous… just let me know if you want a read for the other 5 out of the 6 of my favourite statistics.

    Have a wonderful day.

  • Forcing others? You claim it’s in the book but don’t even give one reference?? As believers our job is to share the message of Jesus, if people don’t listen we are actually told to leave them alone! “If any household or town refuses to welcome you or listen to your message, shake its dust from your feet as you leave.” Matt 10:14. The only laws Jesus gives pertain to people who choose to follow him.

  • Realist1234

    Jesus’ kingdom is already here, but not fully. Thats your misunderstanding. You seem to think it is all or nothing, but that is not the case. When Jesus healed someone, it was evidence of the kingdom being here, as Jesus Himself said. And that continues today, and will continue until His return when the kingdom will be fully realised. Paul’s ‘we’ means ‘those of us who are still alive’. You cant assume he includes himself in that, particularly as Jesus Himself said only the Father knows the time. ‘The night is over, the day is almost here…’- Im sure you know the verse ‘With God, a day is like a 1000 years’. Re ‘this generation’, the whole discourse was Jesus responding to his disciples questions about the apparent future destruction of the Jerusalem temple, which Jesus had alluded to, and His final return. He was talking about 2 separate things, the Temple was destroyed by the Romans in AD 70, well within that generation. He said his coming would occur after that, but did not give a time-scale.

  • Based on their context.

    Ever had to explain the full context of the flawed reasoning of the cosmological argument – and the idiot believer insists intelligent design over and over?

  • This is called moving the goalposts. A pastor in Uganda and the Catholic Church are two different things. Are you going to just keep bringing up different things? If so, that’s not a logical discussion, it’s a goose chase.

  • Many of these things Benjamin and I actually speak out against. Especially 1-7. You’d know that if you read his blog.

  • I only reply with ridicule when the threats are busted out. “You’ll have to answer to God someday” or “You’ll change your mind on your deathbed, or else you might go to Hell.” Let me be clear as crystal: if your reaction to an argument boils down to this threat, then the ridicule will start.

    Neither are good ways to argue, but each side has to realize this. Atheists, theists think that we are led astray and are trying to help you. Theists, atheists think we are talking to ourselves and raising monuments to a collective imaginative figure akin to Santa Claus.

    Religion itself does not cause good. Religion is an idea that a group of people hold up and have an opinion about. It just so happens that a large group of people have a common opinion that creates the umbrella of Christianity. With atheists, it’s different. Atheism has to be taken on a person-by-person basis as the only tenet of atheism is you reject the theistic hypothesis. Some Buddhists can be atheists, some can’t. Scientology believes in alien souls, and Raliens are atheists that believe the world was “Seeded” by an alien species to start us off. There is no umbrella for the atheists sadly, so when you ask that they stop doing things, just know that you are talking to conservatives, liberals, pot-heads, professors, lawyers, accountants, and janitors.

    They all have vastly differing opinions on their lives, with only one agreed upon tenet: the rejection of the theistic claim. Religions have a host of tenets that make them easier to corrupt, easier to take advantage over time, and easier to pollute the world.

  • Well it seems like what you’re really saying is that you personally find them more annoying, not that they are objectively more annoying.

  • UglyShirts

    1) And exactly what right do you have to “disagree” with a consenting-adult relationship you’re not a part of? What difference does it make whether you approve? It couldn’t possibly concern you less.
    2) I didn’t say “Jesus.” I said CHRISTIANS. And while I don’t disagree with you regarding how the Jesus of the Bible treated women, why don’t more Christians follow his example? Moreover, why does the bible take such a dim view of women overall, proscribing both their subservience, and status as property?
    3) This is the kind of $#!+ I’m talking about when I refer to smug Christian sanctimony. Anyone in history who has EVER worshiped a god did so because they had faith in that god’s supposed reality. People who worshiped (or worship) Thor, Zeus, Apollo, Quetzalcoatl, Ra, Poseidon, Mithras and Vishnu think their gods are just as real as you think yours is. So stop pretending yours enjoys some special status EVERYONE is obligated to recognize.
    4) Well, no. Christians believe creationism has just as much right to be taught as evolution, when only one has mountains of evidence to support it. EVERY religion in history has had a creation myth. The one Christians believe in is no different. They just pretend what they BELIEVE is as valid as what we actually UNDERSTAND.
    5) No. I’m not. “Sin” is an artificial construct designed to make people feel guilt about their human nature. Some things are objectively wrong, yes. Injuring others, taking what’s not yours, etc. But these are self-evidently wrong, they’re not wrong because “god” says so. The first set of basic laws was literally written in stone thousands of years before Christ. But “sin?” That’s just manufactured guilt, a spiritual symptom concocted by the church so that they can turn around and sell you the “cure.” A cure which you, of course, can only receive through them.
    6) Perhaps. But the US isn’t one of them. For instance – simply reminding Christians that there are other winter solstice festivals observed as year’s end (most of which predate Christianity) is hardly a “War on Christmas.” It’s just a reminder that your religion isn’t the only one, and others would like the same consideration. Christians have just been on top for so long that any tiny competition to their absolute dominance is treated as an affront.
    7) I thought so, too. Thanks.
    8) I’m speaking strictly of Christians clutching their pearls, and automatically calling MUSLIM violence “terrorism” while giving a pass to people like Timothy McVeigh, Elliot Rodger, Dylann Roof, the Columbine shooters and this clown in Ft. Lauderdale just because they’re not Islamic. Lest we forget, Christians were responsible for CENTURIES of crusades, inquisitions, pogroms, witch-burnings, and stonings of “heretics” who turned out to have been right (e.g., Gallileo). Christians pretend they’re above brutal sectarian violence, but they’re not.
    9) Oh? And what of Matthew 6:5? “And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men.” So…Was Paul right in Timothy, or was Jesus right in Matthew? Just one more of those pesky contradictions I was talking about.
    10) What do you mean, “specify the contradictions”? I’ve READ the Bible! Have you? Here’s a good place to start: http://www.skepticsannotatedbible.com/contra/by_name.html

  • How many of those comments like “my beliefs can be “cured” if only I could be intelligent and reasoned enough” have you heard in your lifetime?

    In my case I barely see them. Search 3 atheist facebook pages and compile 10 threads that you find “annoying”. I will then read them and see if they would be no figure to point to facts (in a sense, it’s just plain ad hominem).

    To be honest “my beliefs can be “cured” if only I could be intelligent and reasoned enough” doesn’t sound like a regular atheist comment to Christians at all. To be fair you will always hear Christians telling atheists “your disbelief can only be *cured* if you could only accept Jesus in your heart” more often. (They actually use that too for homosexuals, replace the word disbelief with homosexuality.

    Is there anything else you need clarification?

  • Realist1234

    One definition – ‘New Atheism is a contemporary intellectual movement uniting outspoken atheists. The New Atheists’ philosophies and arguments are generally consistent with those of their predecessors; what’s “New” is a difference in style and profitability. Most of the prominent New Atheists have had at least one book become a bestseller, which was almost unheard of for atheistic literature in the past. New Atheists consider belief in God erroneous as well as detrimental to society, and espouse their views frequently and publicly. In the 21st century, many anti-religious thinkers have been the subject of media attention, although many reject the “New Atheist” label. While some prefer to call New Atheism a trend manufactured by the media (specifically, in a 2006 article featured in Wired) rather than a real organized movement, others later came to openly adopt the term, notably with Victor J. Stenger’s publication of The New Atheism’.

    Have you had any books published? lol

  • UglyShirts

    1-10) Stop trying to use “mansplaining” as a magic trump card to avoid addressing the issue.

    “Mansplaining” is an unnecessarily gendered, derogatory term based on ugly stereotypes; no different than saying “she’s bitching because she’s on the rag” about a woman you’d rather not listen to. It’s intended to silence men and discredit their views based on nothing more than their gender. It’s wrong when men condescend to and silence WOMEN based on gender, and it’s wrong when it happens in the other direction, as well. Fighting sexism with sexism just makes you part of the problem.

  • This is an odd addition to the communication. Is your point that the argument is composed mostly of men, thus it’s sexist and irrelevant? With religion, they tend to put women on the back burner, but I’ve seen several prominent atheist speakers that are women.

    Maybe you just need to look a little harder. I mean you have Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Valerie Tarico, and Tracie Harris. A speaker, a blogger, and a co-host of an atheist show, all female. So I would take your claims of burly circle jerks and take a look at the prominent speakers that you so desperatly believe aren’t around. These “die hards” tend to be just as no nonsense as their male counterparts, with a generally nasty streak when it comes to exposing sexist religious scripture.

    Not all roads lead to sexism. This is philosophy, and all the genders are welcome.

  • Elliot George

    ‘Atheistic’ regimes do not perform actions ‘in the name of no god’

  • 1. People who do this tend to translate their “harmless” beliefs about LGBT people into political gravity by nodding and approving and voting for those who openly desire to legislate against them, and by giving social cover to the bigots who are willing to take their disgust with their fellow humans for loving the wrong person one ugly step further.
    2. The Syrophonecian woman was really respected. I felt her getting respected through the text. But you have something of a point, in that Jesus wasn’t as big a jerk about women as those who came after, like Paul, esp. via Timothy. The actual constructors of the religion that built on the story of Jesus the itinerant rabbi were nasty misogynists that Jesus may well have been appalled by, but he didn’t say anything to stop them.
    3. So you claim knowledge of this, now? You are a gnostic? Kind of a convenient heresy to slip in and out of, I daresay.
    4. The people for whom it was originally compiled and written certainly thought of it as a (proto)-science book. Shouldn’t purposes and origins be part of the way a text is understood?
    5. Universal devaluation of humanity has done humanity no favors. It also takes a certain moral arrogance and practical hubris to condemn everyone.
    6. In every country in the world, there are Xs who are persecuted for simply being Xs. Does that have any bearing on how Xs should understand their situation in places where they dominate and consequently do the persecuting of Ys and Zs?
    7. Well, we can all come together on this one. Nobody likes to be under the power of people who care nothing of their lives and values; kind of a universal.
    8. Stalin killed millions, but he didn’t do it because of atheism Torquemada and Calvin and Luther killed or ordered the deaths of people enthusiastically because of their interpretation of religion. We have the writings and acts of all four of these people; this is not in any significant dispute.
    9. No, we don’t. Following orders buys you nothing.
    10. This one is a pointless rabbithole, so I’ll concede it just for the sake of managing the conversation.

  • Elliot George

    Sadly, experiences are personal and, therefore, not acceptable as evidence.

  • Well, I don’t think you’re insane, but if we’re going for the DSM, I suppose Christian belief could register as Schizophrenia (voices in your head), psychosis (delusions of grandeur in thinking an omnipotent being would listen to your prayers), and maybe paranoia/neurotic disorders (some Christians obsession with Hell)

    This is in no way an attempt on my part to claim you have a mental instability, just a thought experiment. I only bring these up from examples of people believing “unreal” things before being treated.

  • UglyShirts

    I read THIS one. And I reacted accordingly to what I see as glass-housed stone-throwing. I guess I just feel like rather than getting on atheists’ collective case for finally daring to speak up, and make ourselves visible in the last hundred years or so, maybe your efforts would be better spent focusing on your own closet skeletons and rank rot.

  • Realist1234

    I think you’d be surprised at the number of well-known charities which were originally founded by Christians. Not to mention all the church-based work done on a daily basis. In the UK for example, the biggest food bank is run by the Trussell Trust, founded by Christians. Tearfund, Barnardos, Salvation Army, Mercy Ships…etc, etc.

    Interesting that you mention the Gates Foundation. Bill Gates did an interview with Rolling Stone, and said:

    “The moral systems of religion, I think, are super important. We’ve raised our kids in a religious way; they’ve gone to the Catholic church that Melinda goes to and I participate in. I’ve been very lucky, and therefore I owe it to try and reduce the inequity in the world. And that’s kind of a religious belief. I mean, it’s at least a moral belief.”

    In the same interview, Gates said: “I agree with people like Richard Dawkins that mankind felt the need for creation myths. Before we really began to understand disease and the weather and things like that, we sought false explanations for them. Now science has filled in some of the realm – not all – that religion used to fill. But the mystery and the beauty of the world is overwhelmingly amazing, and there’s no scientific explanation of how it came about. To say that it was generated by random numbers, that does seem, you know, sort of an uncharitable view [laughs]. I think it makes sense to believe in God, but exactly what decision in your life you make differently because of it, I don’t know.”

    Sounds like Gates and his wife have both been affected by Christianity in a good way.

  • UglyShirts

    Classic ad hominem – the last refuge of the person with no valid argument. Hey, whatever’s easier for you than addressing the issue, I guess. You can play the persecuted victim all you want, but I’m not the one who ends up ultimately looking like a child.

    Although, maybe I do LOOK younger than I realize? You assumed I’m a millennial. I’m going to be 42 next month. But, I stay out of the sun, so…

  • My word this is a great deal of assertions that have no backing. I’m not an atheist myself (Buddhist) but just because you grew up when the USSR was around doesn’t mean you saw atheist oppression. There is no such thing as atheist oppression. Atheists are just rejecting a god claim, simple as that. Stalin, and many in his staff, may have been an atheist.

    That doesn’t equate to atheism as “Bad.” Stalin never did anything “in the name of atheism!” However, the abrahamic religions have caused many messes. Just looking at the Catholic Church seems to leave (lying about condom use in Africa, persecution of non-Catholics throughout the ages, crusades, inquisitions, genocide) seems to read off of a war crime list.

    I would love to see some statistics to back up that most atheist men don’t read books written by women, as that is a bold faced lie at worst, and just an inflamed comment at best. And because they haven’t read a particular book doesn’t make them any less intelligent than anyone else.

    And I don’t agree with Karen Armstrong entirely. I’m sure you’ll claim it’s because I’m a man, but many of the greatest atrocities in history were motivated by religion. Great acts of kindness were done as well, but that doesn’t outweigh the harm the various religions did during their tenure on this planet.

  • Robert Conner

    LOL. So if a day is a thousand years, then an hour would be about 42 years in Jesus time? Thanks for Jesusplaining that!

  • UglyShirts

    First…No, they weren’t. They’re legitimate issues many contemporary Christians seem to have, and I’m far from the only one who’s observed as much.

    Second, your rights don’t include determining mine. So I’ll complain if I like, and if it’s warranted.

  • DigitalAtheist

    I’ll stop calling it a collection of Fairy Tales when you can show that it is actually a book of truth. Mind you, you won’t be able to get past the first verse of Genesis before the whole things starts falling apart and I’m back to believing it is a collection of fairy tales. The sad thing is that it doesn’t match up to my collection of The Brothers Grimm, or even some of my “religious” texts that your sect deemed heretical and tried to stamp out, along with the people that believed them.

  • As a Historian, I can tell you fairy tales date back far further than the nineteenth century. Every group had tales that had mythical figures in them, and while we may not call them all fairy tales (we stick with myths for Roman and Greek stories) the words are interchangeable. Myths, fables, marchen… they are all synonyms for fairy tales as well.

    Just focus on the argument at hand and don’t nitpick at language. And I don’t know how you can ever be a “former” of a major unless you didn’t graduate, so I can only assume you are using the word former incorrect, which is something of a failure on an English-degree-holding poster. The other assumption, which I won’t make, is that you either never graduated, or merely graduated in a different field.

    Either way, in the context your using it as, your stating the following. “I have some experience using the English language! Stop using synonyms I don’t approve of!” It doesn’t come off very well, and doesn’t add to the argument. Hope this helped.

  • Elliot George

    I have not denied that religions perform some humanitarian work – it may serve a useful brand-washing purpose.

    What I have justifiably claimed is that benevolence does not require religiosity.

    I have also justifiably claimed that many religious denominations dispose of a major portion of their assets in a spendthrift way on their property portfolio and in parading bling to impress their followers.

    The vast wealth of the Vatican is a closely held secret and the Anglican church is a major land owner and share holder in the UK.

    Whatever influences Bill and Melinda Gates may have been exposed to, their generosity is delivered secularly.

  • Alan Hotchy

    Living in the south pf the US it has been my experience here that actually most do hate and to go further some are even further with uneducated beliefs that atheists eat babies and such or that someone without a higher power cant possibly be a good person. so no I am sorry while am sure there are some christians i have not run into many of those personally

  • Francis Bacon

    I’m using the term in the same way for everyone. That isn’t a false equivalence. What you are doing is using the same word in two different ways to make a point which is call equivocation. It’s fallacious reasoning.

  • It’s like you’re intentionally trying to misunderstand what I’m saying. You did, in fact, use the term in the same way for everyone. The problem is, that it is not the way Benjamin meant it, you took it in a different way and then reapplied it. As I said the first time, when Christians use the term fundamentalist, we mean the hyper-literal Christians. That’s the way it’s meant. Then you said well of course atheists can’t be fundamentalists because there are no fundamentals. But the use of the word “fundamentalists” is not literally about fundamentals, it’s about the rise of hyper-literalism in the Christian community. Hopefully this explains it this time.

  • What you said is very true — and the same applies to Christians! They are conservatives, liberals, pot-heads, professors, lawyers, accountants, and janitors. We are not all one entity — we are especially not the stereotype bible-thumping fundie. I actually wrote an article about how we should stop treating all atheists that same: http://www.christianfreak.com/2015/01/ken-hamm-preaches-to-choir-not-atheists/

  • Francis Bacon

    Again, how the hell could an atheist be a “fundamental atheist” when there is no relevant religious text to be literal about?!

  • Well, it’s as simple as connotation and denotation. The connotation we have of the fundamentalist Christians is that they are implacable literalists. They also are aggressive and never willing to admit they might be wrong. These are qualities that an atheist very well could have, kind of like you are demonstrating right now.

  • justsaying

    I can buy into a couple of these, but (there always is a but…) most, sorry I can’t.

    “Please stop saying or insinuating that we’re a bunch of uneducated or unenlightened idiots.” I agree. Just because you are religious does not mean you are uneducated or an idiot. Many are, but most are , imo, just misinformed. When you are raised with the word of god day in and day out, moving away is difficult. I would say though that many religious people just don’t want to discuss the contradictions of their religion. I can remember once talking to a friend and after I explained my points on why the ark really was not possible, she agreed and then topped it off with her own but, maybe god shrunk all the animals so they would fit.

    “Maybe lay off the whole, “religion hasn’t done any good for humanity” type of argument, because it’s obnoxiously untrue.” I agree here also. There are many religious people who do a lot of good. So instead of dissing those that do good, look at all the bad that is done and discuss that. Religion may not be all bad, but more bad is done in the name of religion than good.

    “Please stop insisting that we read our Bible like right-wing fundamentalists.” I can agree with that to a point. The issue is the bible itself though. To refer to the bible as the word of god is the problem. It is not the word of god. It is inconsistent, it contradicts itself, it has horrible stories of what god did, it is not worthy of a god. If it was the word of god, then that god needs to read his own words. I can fully understand the need for some to have a higher power. But please, pick a different book to demonstrate a higher power. The bible reads like a book from men to keep men in power. The stories are meant to scare, more than inspire. The book is the problem and as long as people who follow jesus use it as their holy book, the religion makes no sense.

    Please stop referring to our belief system(s) as fairy tales. This is where i disagree. It is a fairy tale. One of the definitions of a fairy tale includes: “a fabricated story, especially one intended to deceive.” That is exactly what the religion relies on. Jesus walked on water, feed the masses, turned water to wine, saints perform miracles, noah fit all the animals into the ark, the red sea parted, virgin birth, I could go on. These are just not true and are intended to convince believers of gods power. convincing or deceiving, seems like in this case those are interchangeable.

    The belief in a higher power is not the issue with most atheists. Religion is the problem. Religion imposes rules, religion imposes their canned prejudices, religion tries to impose them on everyone because religion feels they are right. A belief in a higher power is a personal belief and you may choose to live your life that way, but without religion, you wouldn’t even consider imposing it on others.

    I wish christians would just learn to live their lives as they want and not try to impose their moral beliefs on others. If that was the case, there would be so much common ground between believers and non-believers. Most atheists do care about society and want a better world. They get frustrated and burned out because instead of working to make a better world, we are fighting all the issues that christianity tries to impose:

    * homosexuality is evil
    * abortion is killing a human from conception onwards
    * contraception is wrong
    * gambling, drinking smoking pot is immoral
    * women should be subservient to men
    * Atheists are evil and are controlled by the devil
    * if you don’t believe in what i believe you are going to suffer en eternity in hell

    stop that crap and believers in a higher power and believers in no higher power could work together for a better world.

    As my name says, just saying.

  • Joseph Coates

    So, when someone quotes the bible, should I take it literally or figuratively? Which verses are up for interpretation and which ones are concrete?

  • Francis Bacon

    So in other words, you are being slippery with your words. Great.

  • Explorer

    I think it’s humorous that you seem to categorize mansplaining as an atheist issue, or (alternatively) that it’s only bad when atheists do it.

    Wouldn’t it be better to object when any man engages in mansplaining, and to point out those cultural artifacts which lead to women being considered not eligible for positions of authority over men, and this deserving of mansplaining?

    That makes your attribution of mansplaining to atheist men so funny and so curious, given that many such American cultural institutions which literally preach against women being capable or deserving of such positions are actually religious in nature, and usually Christian.

    I addressed your point clearly and respectfully, so I’m hopeful you can clarify why you feel mansplaining is an atheist cultural artifact. If you can’t, will you be willing to reconsider your point?

  • Herm

    … or maybe even the entire closet of all of mankind’s closet of skeletons and rank rot.

  • Herm

    Go back over everything I have said in the past few years here and see that I have stopped all of those. It is only a start.

  • Herm


  • E.A. Blair

    “9. Preaching the Gospel is a command of Jesus, so youll [sic] just have to put up with it.”

    Why? Don’t I have the freedom not to listen? To keep on preaching at me when I’ve asked you to cease and desist tells me several things:

    You do not value my beliefs and opinions (but think I should value yours).
    You are assuming I am inferior to you.
    You assume that your beliefs are suitable for everyone in the world.
    Telling me I have to “put up with it” is smug and arrogant – heven’t you ever heard of the deadly sin of pride?
    There are (according to some estimates) 33,000 denominations of Christianity. Why should I accept yours over someone else’s?

    There are probably a bunch more, but I have better things to do.

  • sTv0

    Contradictions in the Bible are many and well-documented. The argument that Jesus commands his followers to “leave them alone” as it says in Matthew is contradicted in many other passages.

    What does your Jesus say about getting into heaven? (“Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” John 14:6 )
    Pretty exclusive club, eh? Excluding anybody who disagrees.

    And what if someone disagrees? Is it simply ignored, or are there consequences? According to the “old Law”, there are severe consequences. Does Jesus have anything to say about the “old Law” (the Law of Moses)? (“Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill.” Matthew 5:17)…


    ““Did not Moses give you the law, and yet none of you keepeth the law” (John7:19)”

    And what is the “old Law”? What does it say about those who believe differently than you? Kill them. (“One who blasphemes the name of the LORD shall be put to death; the whole congregation shall stone the blasphemer. Aliens as well as citizens, when they blaspheme the Name, shall be put to death”. Leviticus 24:16)

    Being put to death just for saying with a shitty attitude the name of some sky fairy who doesn’t exist. Super.

    This is why we point and laugh, dude. Y’all are just as bad at this as our brothers and sisters who follow Mohammed the Prophet. Y’all kill in the name of your god; y’all hold up as someone to be admired a man (Abraham) who would have gutted his own kid just to prove his loyalty to a sky fairy who doesn’t exist…yet when some lunatic woman murders her two little boys (and permanently disables a third) because “god told me to”, where is your outrage? Y’all swallow it and look away while the rest of us are trying desperately to fix our mental health issues. Y’all preach and teach this apocalyptic nonsense and repeat it every goddamned Sunday over and over until these poor wretches accept it as gospel truth…and then they murder their children because of it. (http://www.cnn.com/2004/LAW/03/29/children.slain/index.html?iref=newssearch)

    Our court systems…have three sentences to be pronounced for offenses: guilty, not guilty, and not guilty by reason of insanity. That’s it. End. Of. List.

    When that lady was on trial for the murder of her little boys, she was asked why she did it, and she replied, “God told me to”. There is no “god told her to, so she’s not guilty” sentence in our judicial systems.

    Why is that? Why haven’t you Christians been able to get that entered into our court systems? Y’all seem hell-bent on getting that pushed through, but our secular laws, our secular courts, our secular founding documents stop you cold every time.

    And people like me, and Thomas Paine, and Thomas Jefferson, and Christopher Hitchens and Sam Harris and Daniel Dennett et al stand shoulder-to-shoulder with like-minded thinkers and philosophers and push back against this “theocratic nonsense”.

    “As believers our job is to share the message of Jesus”.
    Fine. Share away. Just share it amongst yourselves. You play with the toys. Take your toys to your fellow believers houses and play with them there. Go to your churches and play with the toys.

    Don’t bring your toys into the public square. Don’t tell me or my kids that we have to play with your toys. Don’t pretend that mental health issues aren’t caused by playing with your toys. Don’t try to push your toys into civic law. Don’t pretend that your toys are science-based.

    Oh, and your Jesus condoned slavery.

  • phhht

    It would save a lot of fuss and bother if you believers would present one – just one – piece of testable evidence for the reality of your gods.

    Until you do that, I will remain convinced that gods are no more real than vampires or superheroes.

  • Herm

    If there is any truth that inspired so many to document preceding stories of metaphor prior to Genesis and the many relationships witnessed to throughout to Revelations then God could be real. If God is real, spiritual in and out of physical then They should be capable enough to relate to you where you, just growing, are not mature enough to relate to Them. Ask for guidance to know of spiritually from what you can glean as led to satisfy your present maturity to trust to seek further.

    If God is not real, more real than mankind, then you will not be answered and there simply is no relationship to be had with the spiritual the Bible is all about.

    The Bible is not the relationship you seek though most religious are lost in their book of spirituality. Read if inspired to do so because that is the budding relationship you seek that in spirit has no end. All that is physical, including all our documents and the computers that hold them is finite. All that is physical has to recycle back to its original state which our science has yet to define.

    Relationship, spiritually or physically, is the only way to know something or someone exists beyond “I told you so”.

  • John Williams

    Is “bronze age Middle Eastern Mythology” better then???

  • Very unbiblical of them.

    “A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner. But women will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety.”

  • UglyShirts

    You logged a 10-part comment demanding I “stop mansplaining.” Who was trying to ‘silence’ whom, exactly?

    You’re really a caricature, y’know that?

  • If God is not real, more real than mankind, then you will not be answered and there simply is no relationship to be had with the spiritual the Bible is all about.

    It’s odd. I’ve found the Bible to have quite a smattering of actual wisdom in between all the other parts. One doesn’t need to believe in the deity described therein nor any deity to learn from the Bible those bits of wisdom. Indeed, the only thing the relationship you speak of seems to be important for is reinforcing belief itself, an epistemic ouroborus.

  • sTv0

    In the book of Samuel, the god of the Bible is outraged that David has sinned. So, he kills a baby. David’s child with Bathsheba.

    But he doesn’t just kill it outright.

    No, he makes it sick just after it is born, then he tortures it for seven days. Then he kills it.

    Now, the baby had not sinned. David had. But did the god of the Bible kill David?

    No. He killed the child.

    The god of the Bible tortured and murdered a defenseless, innocent child.

    And that’s just one child. Just. One. He’s murdered millions of children, from the time of Noah until today. It’s all chronicled in that book that Christians hold up whilst they scream at gay people.

    I find it laughable that an adult in the 21st century would believe in, let alone worship, this god.

  • John Williams

    A Christian…complaining about proselytizing Atheists?

    We are through the looking glass here people.

  • Let’s consider it common ground: people don’t like it when other people (especially strangers) aggressively approach them about religious beliefs, especially when it’s out of the blue.

  • John Williams

    What you are doing right now is like me saying, “Hey I have a Lamborghini Chicken in my garage”

    When you respond, “Wtf is a Lamborghini Chicken, I don’t think that’s real, can you prove it exists”

    And then I say, “I didn’t claim it exists”.

  • Yes. Except replace “is like” with “is entirely unlike”

  • phhht

    1. Simply because one disagrees with same sex relationships, does not ‘enable’ bigotry.

    To make the sanctimonious, authoritarian assertion that you have anything at all to say about who someone else has sex with IS bigotry. If you don’t like sex with your own gender, don’t do that. But shut your mouth about what other people do. You don’t get to tell anybody that.

    2. Jesus treated women with respect, and indeed it was a woman who first met the risen Jesus.

    This story is from your book of fairy tales, right? The “risen Jesus” is one of those fairy tales. Or do you have testable evidence to back up your baseless assertion?

    3. Not so much that the Christian God is ‘better’, more is the only one in existence.

    Nope. There are no gods, not here in reality.

    Or do you have objective, empirical evidence to demonstrate the truth of that assertion?

    4. It tends to be certain atheists who insist that the Bible is treated as such, and then dismiss it.

    Do you have any testable evidence for the reality of your tales? No?
    Then how can I distinguish them from delusions?

    All sinners

    Not me. A sin is an offense against a god, and in reality, there are no gods. Thus no sin.

    9. Preaching the Gospel is a command of Jesus, so youll just have to put up with it.

    Saying that gods are delusions is a command of reality, so you’ll just have to put up with it.

  • None of those references were commands to force beliefs on others. People can choose not to go to heaven. People can choose not to believe. I appreciate that you wanted to go on a rant about this, but the Christian “laws” were meant for those who chose the faith. I’m saying that Christians should not be trying to create laws, in a free country where we have choice of religion, to make others behave a certain way. You’d think this would be a welcome statement. All the OT laws were only applied to people inside the nation, not people of other nations. All the NT laws are meant to apply to believers. It’s that simple. I’m hoping to convince more Christians that trying to make the government enforce Christianity is the WRONG thing to do, even according to Jesus. Thought you’d actually want that to happen.

  • E.A. Blair

    Oh! My! I’m a woman, so anyone who criticizes me for my ideas and opinions must hate women! If I’m not being persecuted because I’m a woman it must be because I’m a Christian! I’m being persecuted because I didn’t complete an English major! (There are lots of English majors in the world – I finished mine.)

    Get off your high horse. Waving your degrees around and the number of languages you speak doesn’t make you better, it makes you smug and arrogant and insufferable. I’ve got multiple degrees and know more than one (in fact more than two) languages, but I don’t slap people in the face with them just to win a pointless argument. I’m really glad I’ll never meet you in person; you’d make me sick. (Was this “mansplaining”? How do you know my initials don’t stand for Elizabeth Anne?)

  • OccupyReality

    Taken as a whole the philosophy of christianity is untenable.
    And how do you tell the “wisdom” from the foolishness?


  • John Williams

    So…the assumption is wrong? You believe in a god but don’t think that one exists based on verifiable evidence?

  • The premise is wrong, because the encounter doesn’t begin with me talking about what’s in my metaphorical garage. Which is why I was rather careful to write the exchange in the original comment the way I did.

  • It’s clear she’s angry about something, but she’s certainly not helping her argument. Name calling is hardly a reasonable position.

  • sTv0

    “All that is physical has to recycle back to its original state which our science has yet to define.”

    You’re obviously not keeping up with current trends in science.


  • 1Myles1

    You forgot “poorly written” fairy tale full of inconsistencies and outright evil stupidities.
    When you claim religion does good for humanity yet their good works always seem to make them rich,are you being naive or wilfully ignoring facts?
    Other than leeches what part of humanity has ever benefited in any way from religion?Do these presumed benefits outweigh all the harm religion continues to do on a daily basis?
    Read Ecclesiastes 9:5 and explain the real purpose of the after-life and how religious people are not deluded and mentally ill.
    Do I still get my “pie-in-the-sky when I die if I continue to support your evil and abusive fraud?

  • And likewise, I find it amusing when atheists insist that I have to read those passages like a fundamentalist would. This is exactly what I was talking about in the article.

  • OccupyReality


    Carter sounded almost sensible until he called Craig Keener “sensible” and Richard Dawkins an “apostle”. (And then lied about his words by not recognizing they were explicitly intended as an ironic statement. Shameful.)

    And nowhere did he support your assertion except in quoting the gender statistics of atheism.

  • sTv0

    Then perhaps you can explain why the god you worship murdered that child?

  • I don’t believe God murdered the baby. Again, you’re reading this like a fundamentalist. David did rape someone. And David did have a baby die. When people wrote about his life, it makes total sense they’d assume God did it to punish him. Doesn’t mean God actually did, but it certainly helps to us peer inside an ancient mind and how they viewed God.

    These are stories about people, the birth of a nation, and how they wrestled with understanding the role of the divine in this world. They are fascinating stories when we stop reading them like fundamentalists, and actually try to understand the people who wrote them, the issues they wrestled with, and the times they lived in.

  • phhht

    Some experiences and realizations are so powerful that they convict us to a particular belief or non-belief, and it won’t matter what you say or do, that person is going to believe what they believe.

    I am an atheist. That is, I have concluded that gods are not real.

    All it will require for me to change my mind, to accept the reality of gods, is just one teeny tiny speck of testable evidence for that reality.

    But there is no such evidence. In all the vast intellectual constructs of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, there is not the slightest whit of evidence for a god. Nor is there any need for one. As far as anyone can tell, the universe works without the actions of any supernatural superstitions. You may be dissatisfied with this situation, but you cannot deny its truth.

  • I do apologize for my behavior.

  • I don’t give you the right to judge me!! If you want to take your question or your presents out of this discussion you may do so at any time. Why prolong the agony?

  • sTv0

    “David did rape someone.” And your book condones rape. No surprise there.

    “And David did have a baby die.” No. No! NO!! David did *not* “have a baby die”. The god of the Bible killed it. “The LORD struck the child that Uriah’s wife bare unto David, and it was very sick.” 2 Sam 12.15

    Goddamnit, Ben! Just. Goddamnit! You’re a so-called scholar. Don’t push this bullshit nonsense as if it were a valid argument! It is unbecoming of your scholarship!

    This is what your book says. It does not say “David had a child that died”. It says this god “struck the child”.

    That’s not how a fundamentalist reads it. That’s how a sentient, rational adult reads it!


  • Taken as a whole the philosophy of christianity is untenable.

    They seem to have muddled through more or less intact, plus or minus a few inconvenient folk, for twenty centuries. It might not be a correct or truth-bearing philosophy, but those qualities are not the sum-total of a philosophy’s tenability. One must also look at the effects, in total, not just the premises.

    And how do you tell the “wisdom” for the foolishness?

    By trying it out and seeing if it works.

    For example, a recurrent repugnant thought constantly recurs in human intuition, called the Just World Fallacy. The Bible has one of the most elegant, devastating counterweights to this thoughtprocess ever written in the Book of Job. I find that to be a precious lesson, and the elegance with which it is articulated improves its ability to communicate the underlying point, where a drier, discursive argument might fail to impress the magnitude of the intuitive error.

    Not to be meta, but even the Biblical text suggests, in part (timidly, and with admitted reservations), that one should “Try everything, and hold fast to what is good.” A good general heuristic for approaching any advice.

  • Yannis Bizakis

    No problem – but technically books were hard to come by in the dark ages – so the Islamic world saved a lot of antiquity by saving books – then and the Irish monks – all the best

  • Guy Norred

    The majority of Christians who identify as progressive (and you do realize you are on a blog categorized as progressive, don’t you?) not only don’t do these things but speak out vociferously against them, especially when done in the name of Christianity.

  • sTv0

    Also, read the Qu’ran. And the Bhagavad Gita. The Epic of Gilgamesh is also a fav. And the Code of Hammurabi. The Analects are also recommended.

    Just for reference. After a time, the plagiarism of the Bible authors begins to shine through like the sun coming from behind the clouds. Bart Ehrman’s books are highly recommended, especially “Misquoting Jesus”.

  • OccupyReality

    “Ridicule is not a valid form of argument. It’s a crutch.”

    Not always.
    Somethings are ridiculous in nature.
    Knee jerk feminism, for instance.

  • Sastra

    Maybe lay off the whole, “religion hasn’t done any good for humanity” type of argument, because it’s obnoxiously untrue.

    Yes …. but. The “whole” argument does include a reasonable point: that when it comes to establishing the field of agreement on what is good and right (vs. what’s bad and wrong,) secular humanism is the standard because it’s the common ground.

    Or, in other words, what’s good is not unique, and what’s unique is not good. If you can make your case for religion’s benefits to an atheist — or a Catholic, say, can make their case for their sects’ benefits to a Protestant — then this isn’t conversion to a different system, it’s an appeal to one which is already shared. This is a much more significant — and ultimately devastating — issue.

    (I came in late and have not read all 640+ comments, my apologies if this has already been brought up.)

  • Yannis Bizakis

    Agree with ya on that – but it seems there are a few non atheists that do take it literally – and they are Trump supporters – I’ll police those asinine atheists out there if you can police your believers…. this is a joke – I don’t mean it literally – I’m pointing out the scale of the problem – great article

  • UglyShirts

    You’re a child. And you’re not helping your position with your craven, naked petulance.

  • phhht

    I don’t believe God murdered the baby.

    Neither do I. That’s just a fairy tale.

    In fact, I believe that gods cannot do anything at all here in reality (as opposed to in fairy tales). I challenge you to cite one single event that is unambiguously the work of a god.

    To do that, you’ll have to start by showing that gods are real.

  • EricBubu

    Oh boy, really a screwed up mind…. The worst is that you don’t even realize it….

  • sTv0

    And the founders of the USA had this argument squarely in their sights when they drafted the documents of this nation. Jefferson’s Letter to the Danbury Baptists is, perhaps, the most compelling clue. No one belief, or non-belief, shall be given power over another, or over all.

    A govt founded on secular humanism is the only way so many religions and non-belief can co-exist. We’re an experiment, here in the USA. And we’re learning, sometimes exasperatingly slowly…but we’re learning.

  • OccupyReality

    {“Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: “} Colossians 1:15

    So you’re saying god is invisible but jesus who is the image of god isn’t?

  • Well, that was hilarious.

  • Dennis Fisher

    I thank you for stating it so plainly.

    I have had many discussions with religious fundamentalists who would say the exact, same thing, so in that you show no apparent difference from them.

  • Dennis Fisher

    Good attempt, Dr. Corey, but as with most things, the people you are trying to reach are the ones who will reject the message the most.

  • OccupyReality

    “…and nothing in the DSM 5, the manual for diagnosing a mental illness, classifies belief in God as a mental illness….”

    That depends entirely on how you go about “believing”.
    If you see and hear a “god” who tells you to sacrifice your children on an altar that is a different thing than arriving at deism through logical argument.

  • Herm

    I have found “quite a smattering of actual wisdom in between all the other parts” in nearly all works that an author or artist has been inspired to spend their short time framing on this earth. I don’t need to believe in the premise of the work to learn from those bits of wisdom.

    The degree of validation we have for any one is measured in the results from our relationship and nothing else. The degree of relationship we have with the potential reality of infinity, only possible by our science today in spirit, as versus our finite moment in relationship with all physical is without measure.

    It may be a metaphor in Genesis 1:26 but the result that draws mankind back to the picture presented is it is the only explanation we have to date that explains, even closely, why we find our carnal species at the clear top of the food chain. It is clear to those who compare time frames from different studies that there is one hell of a coincidence between the supposed biblical timing of Cain (farmer) and Able’s (rancher) contentiousness and the timing of our study of anthropology which places the first Fertile Crescent civilization of mankind from previous hunter gatherers. Oh, who to believe unless you were there? We are here and have the ability to relate to spirit and carnal both in study and relationship today unlike any other species on this earth we are aware of.

    We can choose to remain satisfied with finite or set our goals toward the infinite. We can choose to remain temporal or set our goals toward the eternal. I personally understand to relate with the macro and micro infinity with no beginning and no end for time relative to the revolution of the entire cosmos we know around what I have yet to relate to fully. Just a happy child going in the direction I am going relating with and in God who is spirit. I respect your choice as I would have you respect my choice. I choose to do nothing to interrupt your relationship and ask that you not attempt to interrupt mine. If I can support you just ask.

  • EricBubu

    “If you don’t know anything about literary analysis, you really can’t make a good argument for or against a text.”

    Ah ah ah, you’d better tell that to the flocks of your people who consider the Bible to be a Whole in Itself, Unique and Unprescribable Word of God for Eternity.

    If we call it then MYTHOLOGY, will that make you happier ?

  • Who am I at this moment to you? It seems to me you’ve been needing this discussion to be directed at someone in your past whom you have had an emotional relationship with. Your mother? Your father? A pastor? Someone who would not listen!! You were too young at the time and you loved and trusted these people and they disappointed you. Maybe they even abused you . This discussion has become extremely unreal to me. I’ve had this discussion before with other atheists and it’s always puzzled me until now why they become so demanding, stubborn, unhinged, rude know-it-all, aggressive, argumentative. And my reaction is equally as puzzling to me because I get my back up & I want to dig in my heels and refuse to be manipulated, accused, controlled by somebody who hasn’t had a spiritual experience, will never understand, is bound to ridicule and invalidate me before I even speak about things that are sacred to me. I get the hit that you have possibly been in a hostage situation, with some very sick caretakers as a child, therefore have some kind of hang up with your abuser. Now you have become like your abuser which often happens when someone has been in a hostage situation. it’s a phenomenon called the Stockholm syndrome. Have you ever read anything by Gabor mate? I refuse to allow you to abuse me or bully me. I’m sure you wish you could have said the same to your abusers at the time your abuse happen to you. You spoke of parameters. I have them. I’m all grown up. With respect I would like to end this discussion because your problem is beyond my pay scale. You need the help of Professionals in my humble opinion. Cheers!!

  • margaretpoa

    Your religion IS a collection fairy tales. Sentient snakes, worldwide floods, genetically impossible procreation, miracles, the dead coming back to life, it’s all fiction and I’m going to point that out. While I agree with you about over generalizations, the reality is that your belief structure is empirically impossible. I am not required to automatically grant your belief respect it isn’t due. The ONLY difference between a “religion” and a “superstition” is the degree of social acceptance it enjoys. The only difference between your religion and the Silmarillion for example is that YOUR book was written in the Bronze Age and enjoys popular support but that doesn’t make “God” any less fictitious than “*Illuvatar”.
    One more thing: atheism is not a a philosophy and doesn’t have a”team” it is just a lack of belief in deities

  • I know!!. It is Another Universe in my humble opinion. The kingdom of God is within.

  • OccupyReality

    The difference is we call out our sexists and trolls.

    The religious…not so much.

  • In order to reject it, we first have to consider it.

    Isn’t that a much larger victory?

    To be known in one’s thought-processes to others, so that intentions are clear, desires are known, appreciations are voiced, and objections are clearly lodged?

    Receipt of the message is much more important than whether that message has power to change its recipient, unless one’s true objective is manipulation. A more ethically judicious choice is to rest upon the desire to be known and understood by others, than to long for them to bend to your opinion.

  • Herm

    Interesting you should use the word “trends”. I just went through “Center for Chemical Evolution” and they did not address black holes and big bangs beyond conjecture. The definition I was speaking to was certainty not hypothesis.

  • sTv0
  • OccupyReality

    Ridiculous parsing.

  • I can and I will say that about you!!

  • OccupyReality

    “…They seem to have muddled through more or less intact, plus or minus a few inconvenient folk, for twenty centuries. …”

    Only by mutating and reinterpreting as science has advanced and social mores have changed.

    “…By trying it out and seeing if it works. ..”

    Try not thinking about tomorrow like the lilies of the field and see where it gets you.
    Try loving your enemies in a war zone and see where it gets you.

    So you think “try everything” is a good philosophy then?

  • EricBubu

    Oh my, I’m SO GLAD that you wrote this total nonsensical post, provoking a really interesting back-firing debate about religious insanity. Who are you, by the way, trying to impress with your Doctor degree ? Doctor in Theology, really ?? I really am wondering why universities don’t offer Doctor degrees in Fairy Tale or Mythology…
    Oh, sorry, I just forgot you had to sell your soup, ur… your books (hence this article).

  • >when you use the word “Know”, be prepared to fork up the justification that you claim to have for such claims, and when it’s asked from you…

    This is not school buddy!! I have zero obligation to you to explain any damn thing at all!!

  • John Williams

    So…heaven is for literary analysts then? In your words only THEY possess the skills necessary to evaluate the text.

    I don’t believe in Jesus’ supernatural abilities because i don’t believe in the supernatural. As for whether or not the biblical figure is based on a real person…I don’t know or care. If he DID exist…he couldn’t perform magic.

  • valleycat1

    The problem I see is that those who wish to pick which words in the Bible to take literally and which to choose are allegory or myth select different words and stories from others doing exactly the same thing. Not to mention that such interpretations vary over time . Who is the final arbiter of whether a given passage is to be taken literally? And one could ask why the word of god is so cryptic that there are almost infinite permutations of the meaning?

  • OccupyReality


    And we, in turn, are converted to your religion by the argumentum ad nauseum ad verbosium found in that link.

  • EricBubu

    Well, what did you expect from a “fairy-tale Doctor” ?

  • So how come nobody out in the wider world of everybody seems to be able to ever hear you guys?

    (Hint: Because speech is just air.) One truly persuades of intentions with actions, and all we tend to see anyone doing is making excuses for benighted brothers’ evil inclinations while complaining about how mean and nasty their critics from among their brothers’ victims are being.

    There is a startling thing, when liberal Christians complain about atheists taking your own text more seriously than you seem to. Why is it a reasonable thing, at all, to believe that you have a better understanding of the text than all the twenty centuries prior of Christian history?

    I’m not talking about the fine caviling of distinguishing between strong inerrancy and hyperliteralism, but the big sweeping lessons that every Christian did and most Christians still follow with gusto, like dismissing and denigrating the role of women in the church and society more generally. The modern, liberal convolutions to wriggle free of such clear Biblical commands that they have been faithfully followed for the whole Christian epoch come off as the silliest excuse-making possible for the obvious and persistent moral errors of the text.

    But the focus seems to be complaining that atheists and other critics have the temerity to take not only text but history seriously. Uh, no. It’s a valid criticism. Face it with some moral bravery.

  • OccupyReality

    “You’re resorting to insults now. Very intellectual of you.”

    Look who’s talking.

  • So if someone claims that God did something, it automatically has to be true? It seems you’d already have a leg up in digging deeper since you don’t believe in God. One would naturally think you’d begin asking, “why would these ancient people claim such a thing of their deity?” — When you ask that question, that’s when you get into the fun answers.

    And no, this isn’t unbecoming of my scholarship. What would be, would if I adopted an unsophisticated, wooden approach to ancient literature that makes no attempt to get inside the minds of the people and culture who wrote these stories.

    There’s plenty of criticism to throw our way, but when you insist that there’s only one way to read the Bible, it’s not one of your more compelling points.

  • John Manicouagan

    I think you should re-read the comment more carefully, you appear to have missed the point.

    Edit: This comment applies to The Irish Atheist and Snommelp, as well.

  • sTv0

    Aye. Excellent point. And we *are* having said discussion. Ben has made many valid arguments. There are fundies on all sides. Tiresome.

    But when his argument veers into the unsupportable, we’ve no choice but to call him out on it. If he wants to believe that his god did not commit the crimes against humanity that are clearly referenced time and again in his holy texts, are we to simply shrug and go have a beer? Or do we take a stand and say “this is wrong!”.

    If we do not take a stand, do we not run the risk of normalizing the behaviour of this bullying, capricious and cruel deity? I’d wager that we do, and to support that argument I point, time and again, to the crimes committed in his name, whether it is Allah or Yahweh or…shit, just make one up.

    If we are honest with ourselves, we’ll accept the flaws in our arguments and work to correct them. It’s the human thing to do. But when a religion teaches that to be same-sex attracted is punishable by death, and science says that same-sex attraction is normal in hundreds of species…is it not incumbent upon us to give pause to the killing until we find a reasonable path? Or do we continue to allow gays to be hurled off the tops of buildings, murdered by the tens in clubs, threatened by the thousands by withholding basic human rights such as marriage and insurance?

  • OccupyReality

    Sorry, you came here with guns blazing and a chip on your shoulder.
    You don’t get to complain when you get shot down.
    And everyone here was very deferential to you for a long period of time.

    Bullies come in all genders.

  • To be perfectly honest, I almost went for “Well, that was hysterical.” It occurred to me as more fitting, for the dimensions of irony it would present, and also as a way of saying why I was dismissing the argument without being dismissive of the argument. It also occurred to me that it would be both unnecessarily mean and unnecessarily unfair. Tactical note: If you seek to engage with hostile intent, don’t be so easy to bait that for the interlocutor to consider the thought of trying to bait you seems cruel.

    But I come back to it because the temptation, in the face of your utterly predictable mien, is simply irresistible. My ridicule of the argument is not intended to persuade you at all. You’re like Trump, just tweeting away your anger. The joke is that what you just linked to flies in the face of not just clear textual interpretation but the entirely of historical practice. If that is what you have to do to rescue your love of the text from its explicit and long-standing and powerfully memetic misogyny, then I say “Go for it!”

    But do it for you, because it is absurdly-less-than-persuasive to anyone who doesn’t already occupy such a debilitating sentimentality in regard to the Biblical text. If you need it to forget the Bible urges everyone to hate women and think of them as less-than, don’t make the mistake of then forgetting that it is a necessary self-deception than some sort of independent and defensible assertion of reality. It makes your position look not so much enlightened as deluded.

  • John Williams

    “If you don’t know anything about literary analysis, you really can’t make a good argument FOR or AGAINST a text.”

    Emphasis is mine.

    My statement was intentionally illogical. I’m merely suggesting that your above comment is kinda silly, and anyone with the ability to read can evaluate the biblical texts.

  • Explorer

    You avoided the question.

    Although yes, many Christian denominations rolled back exclusions on women being ordained, many didn’t. If you wish to show that the majority of Christian institutions now allow women to be ordained, I welcome qualitative evidence beyond “many.”

    The fact remains, there are solid Scriptural reasons for some groups, like the Roman Catholic Church, to bar women from ordination. Here’s an straightforward explanation from the Southerbpn Baptist Convention, in case you were unaware of the reasons used in support of not letting those ladybrains in at the top.


    Regarding a majority of Christians being women, the question of whether women are allowed into management is not answered by the number of women in an organization. I’m genuinely puzzled how you thought that the one was answered by the other.

    I’m not arguing that any group is right in excluding certain classes from being judged capable of authority, whether religious or secular. However, you have so far been unable to explain how mansplaining is an issue centered on atheist tendencies. One possible way of doing that, if true, would be to show that atheist organizations have written charters which are exclusionary of women in much higher proportions than Christian organizations. I don’t think you’ll be able to support your attribution of this to atheists in particular, so I’ll understand if you don’t mention it again in hopes it will be forgotten. Still, it would be more interesting and courageous if, when discovering you have made a claim which turned out to be wrong, you admitted it.

    I’m going to admit, I’m also unable to figure out to whom you think UglyShirts was mansplaining, as opposed to stating straightforward objections to a narrative. Could you clarify in what way(s) you thought it was mansplaining, as opposed to normal dialogue about ideas? This should be straightforward to answer, but if not, the courageous and honest thing to do would be to withdraw an unsupported accusation.

    I look forward to your response.

  • So you think “try everything” is a good philosophy then?

    I do.

    It seems like you have a concept of “trying” which is a bit cramped.

    We are imaginative creatures. Gedankenexperiment is a tool we can use to try an idea out without risking much.

    We are social creatures. We can observe our neighbors’ attempts to implement different ideas and see how they do with them.

    We are story-telling creatures. We can explore possible consequences of ideas by situating them in other contexts, such as the past (history) or the future (speculative fiction), or through the transmission of distilled experience (education).

    These are all ways in which we try ideas without personally, directly attempting to implement them. And, most definitely yes, everything should be tested in some way because it is impossible to know a priori what will yield an instrumentality or a insight of significant value. Not every experiment needs to be on live animals (and indeed, most shouldn’t be). Doesn’t mean there aren’t many other ways to run the experiment.

  • Marc B.

    The language in your response seems to suggest that someone is trying to change your mind or that there is a general effort (or even need) to convince atheists that God is real. If there is, I am not a part of that effort and I have no problem with your conclusion and don’t find it in the least bit dissatisfying. It is your personal conclusion and has no bearing on my day to day life.

  • But when his argument veers into the unsupportable, we’ve no choice but to call him out on it.

    Absolutely. One of the built-in possibilities of making a request of someone is that they have the opportunity to reject that request.

    “Please don’t call my religious corpus a bunch of fairy tales, because XYZ” means that a perfectly reasonable response is “Respectfully, No. I will continue to call your religious corpus fairy tales because I find XYZ unpersuasive and ‘In the Beginning’ sounds an awful lot to me like ‘Once Upon a Time’ (and not a little bit like ‘A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away’).”

    People don’t get everything they want, but you can’t blame them much for asking.

  • margaretpoa

    Science must be predictable and reproducible. Anything that is not both of those things are fairy tales. If you can’t demonstrate empirically that the things that you believe exist and behave in a predictable manner, your religion is not evidence based.

  • margaretpoa

    Quoting passages from a book is not evidence of anything other than your knowledge of the content of that book.

  • Someone?

    You have to be joking. Is it common practice to pretend that many of us don’t live in places that are utterly saturated by an evangelical culture? That such places don’t exist, or are somehow bizarre anomalies if you are forced by facts to acknowledge they do?

    It’s this kind of game that endears liberal Christians least to non-believers in Christian lands.

  • margaretpoa

    Wrong. The only thing that popular belief in a deity is evidence of is the credulity large numbers of humanity give to evidence free ideas.

  • Honestly, it is a more accurate name. Plenty of myths in the Bible, but no sidhe so far as I can tell.

  • What do you know about this? In my humble opinion and your Prejudice is showing.

  • phhht

    I – me, the author of this post – I want to change my mind, if I am wrong. I want to believe in things that are true, and abjure things that are false.

    And as far as I can tell, superstitious religious beliefs are false.

    So in addition to all the proselytizing believers who engage in a general effort, no matter how fallacious and futile, to convince themselves and others of the truth of their baseless assertions, I myself am trying to change my mind – if it needs changing.

  • margaretpoa

    Deflection is not argument. Deflection is evidence that you have no valid argument.

  • Shall we agree to disagree?

  • Jeremiah Thom

    Then don’t say you have justification for something in which you obviously don’t. You are the one who went on a tirade because i asked where is the justification, or are you sure you are using the word “know” correctly or as a means to show confidence in what you believe.

  • John Manicouagan

    I don’t believe that this is an intellectually honest response. Are you omniscient or omnipotent? Did you create the world your children are going to grow up in, or have the power to have created any number of other worlds where your children would not have suffered at all? I think you know that yours was not a fair analogy given the information included in the original comment.

  • Jeremiah Thom

    Nobody is judging you? This is exactly what i mean by you victimizing yourself, is this your endgame to a argument?

  • I love this!!
    > A more ethically judicious choice is to rest upon the desire to be known and understood by others, than to long for them to bend to your opinion.

  • margaretpoa

    I know how evidence works and quoting out of a work of fiction is no more evidence in support of reality than any given Star Wars film.

  • Marc B.

    Curious response. My sense is that we (in the U.S) live in a post-Christian culture and if anything Christianity is on the decline, so I’m not sure what you are talking about. What I mean by that is I can only speak from my own personal experience. If you live in “such places”, where does my responsibility lie with that?

  • margaretpoa

    No. That’s the definition of science. You may disagree with it but it would be irrational because you’re not in a position to redefine what science is.

  • Yannis Bizakis

    Love that quote – nice – but at the same time we should not forget that non-theists have also done great harm – eugenics was born from Darwinism – science gave us the bomb, chemical and biological weapons – my point is that humans are the problem – remove there theism and they just turn to an ism – communism or fascism –

  • Jeremiah Thom

    You do not know anything about me, yet there is a bunch of assumption’s you make about me. Is this the result of psychosis? It could be, and you might want to get checked out for that. See i can play that game too, you are the one that turned this into hostility because it is where you wanted it to go so you can play victim…. Very familiar to how a psychopath would handle being put in a corner.

  • phhht

    If you’re going to make the assertion that one (mainly I) am mentally ill for believing in God, please explain that in a little more detail if you’re not simply intending to simply be childish.

    I assert that you are religiously impaired if you defend the reality of things which do not exist. For example, gods do not exist. You cannot defend your beliefs in nonexistent gods because there is no empirical evidence for their existence, and without such evidence, your beliefs are indistinguishable from delusion.

  • Yannis Bizakis

    The Old Testament god and New are very different – in fact one would have to argue they are different gods – biblical scholars don’t read it literally – but many many people do

  • Marc B.

    Ok, thanks for that response. I can only speak for myself, that I see spirituality as simply part of the human experience, and that in and of itself is shaped by my personal narrative (where I live, the people I’ve met, how I’ve been taught, the experiences I’ve had in life). I’m willing to put the need for evidence/proof on hold (I guess this can be considered “faith”) as life unfolds. However, I can understand that someone else’s path may have led them to see spirituality as something false or in need of absolute proof, or something to be “evolved” out of.

  • Chris Crawford

    Ahh, I remember Price now. Mythicist. Meant to watch the debate with Ehrman. So far the mythicist interpretations haven’t impressed me. Seems close to conspiracy theory.

    “Progressive” has very little specific meaning as far as Christianity goes. Lots of different people believing different things. I haven’t watered down my faith; probably a better word is “deconstructed.” Much of fundamentalism is the addition of cultural aspects to a faith that should surpass time, culture and language. Rejecting them is hardly rejecting the bible or Christianity in general.

    Being a progressive Christian is the hardest path you can take, I think. Few people respect you for it. It’s not easy like fundamentalism, where you accept what you’ve heard with question. It’s not easy like atheism where you reject the whole thing. It’s not as easy as agnosticism, where you decide not to think about it. And it’s impossible to explain in fifteen minutes what it took you years to learn; ideas that aren’t discussed in popular culture.

    You may not understand it because it’s ridiculous, or you may not understand because you don’t have the knowledge such understanding would require. The only way you’ll ever know is by trying to figure it out.

  • Jeremiah Thom

    What am i claiming to know which is not backed up by justification? Are you really trying to shift the burden in order for you to define something anyway you want it to be?

  • Thank you for the discussion. It gives me an opportunity, once again, to engage with of people who haven’t had a spiritual experience.

  • Yes I guess I am just like you are!!

  • Chris Crawford

    You can get a doctorate in fairy tales or mythology.

  • You are not in a position to redefine what I think!! I do not submit to your rule.

  • Do I feel superior? Not particularly, but seeing as someone who claims to have multiple master’s degrees is as angry as you does make me pity you a tad.

    Since you were a former English major (obviously you couldn’t master it as some of these sentences are atrocious), you can can take me at my word when I was offering to be friendly. I don’t have any agenda of silencing women or putting them down. I found no amusement in speculating your relative knowledge base as from your words and near constant stream of ad hominem attacks assured me you had very little intelligence, no matter your gender or the number of degrees you studied for. Not an insult, just noting you seem to boil everything down to an accusation that whoever is arguing against you has a penis and is therefore “mansplaining” away whatever argument could be presented.

    I commented on focusing on an argument, not a word. When I pointed out that the words are all synonymous, I’m suddenly the evil patriarch. I don’t see that as constructive exchange of ideas. I see it as the verbal diarrhea that I’ve come to expect from you. You claim men don’t read books by women and seem to look down upon them, but here you are jumping all over me because I offered something to consider when you were screaming at someone else. Perhaps you need to get on some meds. I know mine do wonders for temper tantrums.

  • That is your humble opinion.

  • This is not a game.

  • Rt1583

    “as if the only way to read them is the way a fundamentalist would read them. It is amazing to me the way both conservative fundamentalists and many atheists insist on reading and interpreting the Bible with the same rigid literalism that takes into account almost nothing regarding literary genre, authorial intent, context, original languages, etc.

    If you want to bring up issues with the Bible, have at it– but at least read a bit of scholarship on a passage before quoting it as if you understand exactly what it meant, what it means, and how a good Christian should apply it. That’s the type of unenlightened, ignorant nonsense that fundamentalists do with the Bible, and I know you’d hate to be associated with them.”

    Here’s the thing though, Christians of all stripes profess that the bible is the truth. The truth can only be read one way. There is no room for interpretation based upon literary genre (according to Christians the literary genre is non fiction, would you have it interpreted as such only when convenient?), authorial intent (god’s supposed to be the author isn’t he?) or context (if you want to argue context, context for the bible ran out about 1900 some odd years ago).

  • phhht

    You don’t know God. For those who actually do…

    How do you know that those who claim to know a god are not deluded? Because in the absence of even an iota of empirical evidence to back up such beliefs, they appear to be indistinguishable from delusions.

  • This discussion took place past 1 o’clock in the morning. This person was obsessing and needed rest I felt. What do you like to do for fun. Do you have any hobbies or a pet?

  • JacobBe5

    For those items I agree with, or at least agree enough that it won’t make any difference, I’ll just let them be.

    Please stop referring to our belief system(s) as fairy tales.

    But they are.

    You bring up Disneyland and how your beliefs are not identical to what goes on there. True they have a talking mouse, you have a talking serpent, and sometimes an ass.

    But it isn’t like your stories are any more plausible than the other fairy-tales and magical myths of antiquity. People took those seriously, people were very devoted to them, that didn’t make them true. The same with your beliefs.

    The best argument you could (but didn’t) make for this is that upon being said meaningful discourse often becomes impossible because the theists feelings have been hurt. Therefore I ought to placate your emotional attachment to these particular stories in order to show you how they are identical in unbelievability to other fairy-tales, which as soon as I do you’ll still shut down because you are still having you feelings hurt because I’d compare a talking mouse and a talking ass to one another.
    Should I instead stick to magicians witches prophets turning sticks into snakes and the stronger magic spell god wins.
    Maybe the dead getting up and going for a walk around town.
    Perhaps mystical beings showing up and having dinner with or wrestling people.

    And your bible, and therefore religion, is filled with them.
    Invocations (summoning spells), conjuring (water from rocks), divinations (prophecy), perhaps both evocation and necromancy. What other types of magic are in the bible? Call them miracles if you so desire, but they still fall into the category of magic.

    These are mythical stories, but fairy-tales is more accurate because if they ever were based on a true set of events we will never be able to untangle the magical and obviously made-up elements from them. So all you are left with after your cherry picking is going to be a few statements which aren’t objectionable, no resurrection, and certainly no god of the OT.

    Yet people aren’t referring to the moral ideas, they are talking about the setting you are saying is totally real.

    I’m sure at some point Mickey Mouse has offered up some nice moral lessons, but a talking mouse, or ass for that matter, is obviously not real. But this leads us to the next point.

    I would argue that both sides have reasonable arguments for why they believe what they believe.

    I have to make an objection to this. There isn’t an argument for atheism, there are arguments against specific theistic claims. And far from being a distinction without a difference it is central to these questions.

    In any claim of existence the only side which has any burden of proof is the party making the positive case. The theist must prove deism and then in turn their theism. The most any counter-argument has to do is point out the failure in the theist’s argument. And now you’ve (theists) got the kind of garbage like the Gish Gallop, presuppositional apologetics, and repackaging of previously unpersuasive arguments.

    Maybe lay off the whole, “religion hasn’t done any good for humanity” type of argument, because it’s obnoxiously untrue.

    It may be untrue, but not in a meaningful way, because you are misrepresenting the actual argument. The actual argument is more along the lines that people would do these things without your religion. And we know that because people do it who follow religions you think are false, and people who follow no religion at all. Religion has also been the breeding ground of horrible things, and you don’t get to lay claim to the good without accepting responsibility for the bad.

    Therefore no religion means we still get those good things, because non-religious people still go those things, but we don’t get the Inquisition, we don’t get people blowing up bus stops or flying planes into buildings in order to try and go to paradise.
    People still might do similar acts for other reasons (dictatorships, totalitarianism, fascism, etc) but it will never be because they lack a religion.

    your team has rabid fundamentalists, too.

    I’ll end with what you lead off with. You use Richard Dawkins as an example of the kind of person. Well if that is rabid, a person who says words you don’t like, that is rather tepid.
    I could use those who have murdered abortion providers, but that really is the low hanging fruit. So I’ll limit myself to people you brought up, how about Ken Ham

    Lets compare that now.
    Dawkins: Said words that hurt your feelings.
    Ham: Runs an organization which is seeking to bilk taxpayers out of millions of dollars in order to “building a modern ark to transport dinosaurs” and blaming 9/11 terrorism on the US not sufficiently persecuting homosexuals.

    And one of the signs of even God judging a nation and withdrawing the restraining influence of the Holy Spirit, one of the signs is the sign of homosexual behavior, as it says in Romans 1. And I believe we’re seeing that in this nation, I believe this nation is under judgment. – Ken Ham


    If you think these are even remotely on the same level of outrage I think your moral meter is in need of re-calibration.

  • evidence?

  • Rt1583

    “following the religious/ethical views written by Moses (Torah), or the teachings of Jesus (love your neighbor, love your enemies), is not the same thing as going to Disneyland and believing that Mickey is actually a real-life talking mouse.”
    True. Following religious/ethical views is not the same as believing Mickey is a real-life talking mouse.

    Believing in god and everything ascribed to Jesus is however EXACTLY the same as believing Mickey is a real-life talking mouse.

    See the difference? Your argument is, at best, disingenuous.

  • It doesn’t need to be evidence based to be valid to me!!

  • townie56

    Where do you draw your line in the sand for literal interpretation? Did Jesus rise from the dead? Was he the product of a virgin birth? If your god isn’t doing all the things that the bible claims, what exactly is he doing? Can he control things or not? Does prayer help? And what small percentage of “Christians” are left who only believe what you believe?

  • JustThink

    “So if someone claims that God did something, it automatically has to be true?”

    In my opinion, no. That is precisely why I dismiss all of the supernatural stories of all of the holy books. How could you ever know you should believe A and B but not C?

  • It takes one to know one!!

  • Jeremiah Thom

    You are too stupid to even talk with now, it’s like arguing with a child that has a massive ego who get’s called out on something and then tries to reverse it when they have nothing to reverse with. In my humble opinion, you should go see a psychiatrist, all i asked was where your justification was and you went all crazy on me thinking i am attacking you and everything. What the hell man? There was no reason to go all hostile at all, all you had to say was that you didn’t know but you strongly believed, that was it.

  • Kittens McTavish

    Really? Because I treat my Christian friends the same way: we do not discuss religion. That works for us. I make it clear that I do not believe the same things they do, but that I have no problem with them having those beliefs.

    How would you treat a friend who holds different beliefs than yours?

  • I am confident!!

  • I respect your choice as I would have you respect my choice. I choose to do nothing to interrupt your relationship and ask that you not attempt to interrupt mine. If I can support you just ask.

    Indeed. Our choices about metaphysical matters demand protection and should receive it even by those who don’t share our particulars.

    But there is another lesson from the story of Cain and Abel. It is that we are “our brother’s keepers”. In a better world it would certainly be enough and more for everyone to respect others’ private choices and lend a hand when requested. But we live in a world where those we travel with are hurtful, even when we are not, and we bear some responsibility to lessen that hurt even we are in no way perpetrators ourselves. That does not mean just through the moderation of our own actions, but also addressing the consequences of the brother’s.

    I think this is where a great deal of the broader conversation gets hung up about what it exactly means for a Christian to demand of an atheist, or vice versa, that the contents of their beliefs be respected, as opposed to the somewhat slighter respect of the fact that your beliefs are freely yours. Is it reasonable for one to ask that a another person esteem a particular feature of one’s own beliefs differently? I’m not quite sure, because the “devils” of where harmful actions often proceed from are the particular contents of particular beliefs, whether they are taken literally, or to what extremity, or conceived of with consideration for the humanity of others who do not share them.

  • I think it’s a very good sign that you’re angry now. Better to move through your stages of grief and loss. Denial is a terrible place stay too long. Soon you will be at a bargaining stage. Before you get to depression I hope you got a team of supporters and a peer group going. Depression is a horrible thing to move through without help. I recommend looking into therapy.

  • Jeremiah Thom

    I believe you are confident in what you believe and that’s fine, but do more research on knowledge please… i assure you it is present in a dictionary.

  • Yes, and after looking through her sources and reading her arguments, I fell back on what I learned in college and went and researched. The crusades were not motivated by resources. Nor was the inquisition. Lying about condom use in Africa doesn’t give the church more money, and killing Jews, Gypsies, homosexuals, and free thinkers who argued with the church grant them any increase in goods or services.

    I agree that many wars are about resources, but you’ll note that most of my examples weren’t wars. What about the Ottoman Turks wiping out 1.5 million Armenians from 1915 to 1923? That wasn’t for resources, they were already part of the empire! They were purged because they followed god in a different way than the rulers of the empire.

    And since we’re on a kick about religion and women, what about the horrible restrictions placed on women’s reproductive rights in America? Yes, they can get care, but sometimes they have to wait days after a screening to have an abortion performed. Many women can’t afford multiple days off of work after driving to one of the few clinics in the state. Add to this the lies that abstinence only education brings to the table and female genital mutilation and we have more religious hate towards women than any from the atheists.

  • Yannis Bizakis

    Wow – some of the vitriol here is amazing. I don’t see why it is so hard to accept that atheists could act in a “superior” fashion sometimes. Everyone does – and acting in a superior fashion does not help create dialog – but I think you fail to understand that many in “your tribe” just elected the Orange one – while preaching that they were all for love and tolerance and peace – many also openly support Israel in the hope that it brings about the end times …they are hoping the end of the world comes and voting that way… that could be classified as delusional behavior in the DSMR – seriously – it could. I get why you are irritated – but it’s not really comparable – I know that is not who you are Sir… but it’s a bit soon to ask many of us that are still reeling from this “WTF” moment to say “you need to chill” – All the best –

  • Jeremiah Thom

    Yes, i am frusterated because you are the one who went into your little whole claiming a atheist was beating you up when i did no such thing, but ask for justification for what you believed. You are the one who manipulated and twisted things around, and yes that does sound like a textbook psychopath. So get help please!

  • David did rape someone. And David did have a baby die. When people wrote about his life, it makes total sense they’d assume God did it to punish him. Doesn’t mean God actually did, but it certainly helps to us peer inside an ancient mind and how they viewed God.

    This statement sounds rather like you’re suggesting that the Bible is a collection of fairy tales. In fact, this is precisely how scholars annotate fairy tales: It seems rather disingenuous, then, for you to suggest that we ought to “Stop referring to [y]our belief system(s) as fairy tales” when that is precisely how you’re treating the belief system of (some of) your fellow Christians (and Jews).

    And on that part of your message:

    I’m not sure the best way to break this down, but here’s my beef:
    following the religious/ethical views written by Moses (Torah), or the teachings of Jesus (love your neighbor, love your enemies), is not the same thing as going to Disneyland and believing that Mickey is actually a real-life talking mouse. It’s not the same thing as believing that there actually was an old woman who lived in a shoe who had so many children that she didn’t know what to do.

    Please don’t equate the religious views and the ethical views. Holding to love your neighbor, or loving your enemies may not be the same thing as believing that there was an old woman who lived in a shoe, but believing that Jesus could walk on water sure seems to have the same weight.

    And we don’t require that you must read your Bible like a fundamentalist literalist, but we do insist on some consistency. So if you want to argue that parts of the Bible are metaphorical or allegorical, we’re going to insist that you give us some objective criterion upon which those parts can be distinguished from those parts that should be read as fact. For example, I presume, since you are a Christian that you believe in the resurrection of Christ; what about the resurrection of all of the dead “Holy people” in Jerusalem that Matthew 27 tells us occurred as Jesus died? I can accept that the authors wanted spice up stories to make them more catchy but the problem is, which parts are ‘spice’ and which are we supposed to believe are ‘true’ and why?

    It seems pretty empty to think that all of the gospels can be distilled down to something along the lines of “Jesus wanted us to basically be good to each other and then was executed and resurrected to save us all from our sins.” And that’s to say nothing of the rest of the NT. Did Jesus really appear to Paul as he was on the road to Damascus? Or did he fake it when he realized that he could organize this Christian rabble and become very important and famous?

  • sTv0

    “So if someone claims that G̶o̶d̶ a god did something, it automatically has to be true? It seems you’d already have a leg up in digging deeper since you don’t believe in G̶o̶d̶ god(s).”

    Fixed that for ya. Again.

    “One would naturally think you’d begin asking, “why would these ancient people claim such a thing of their deity?” — When you ask that question, that’s when you get into the fun answers.”

    Damn straight! Why would these unsophisticated, uneducated, illiterate people claim such things of their deity?

    Like, for instance, why would the ancient people of a certain village near a certain volcano hurl live babies into said volcano? Why would ancient peoples allow their holy men to sacrifice young virgin women on high altars by cutting out their hearts?

    Could it be because religion is our first and worst attempt at explaining how the world works?

    Those babies hurled into volcanoes…you think that stopped the volcano from erupting? Or was it, perhaps, say, the buoyancy of the magma, the pressure from the exsolved gases in the magma and the injection of a new batch of magma into an already filled magma chamber?

    Did the sacrifice of those young virgin women change the outcome of drought and its effect on crop yields?

    We know now that epileptic seizures are the explanation for the conditions observed when said seizures take place. Not demonic possession.

    You accept that as fact, correct?

    Is it so much of a stretch to “go one louder”?

    You’ve already accepted that the god of the Bible didn’t murder any children. Of course he didn’t. That’s because he can’t…because he doesn’t exist. Did the god of the Bible kill my mom with a brain tumour? Nonsense! She read her Bible every morning, was raised Nazarene (but converted to Catholicism to marry my dad…Boom!).

    Dr. Ehrman walks that highwire of being an atheist scholar of ancient religion, coming from a background of fundie evangelical Christianity. He accepts the thin evidence for the existence of Jesus, but not the supernatural nature or his divinity. He’s done and gone one louder.

  • What I mean by that is I can only speak from my own personal experience.

    This is emphatically not true, and the essence of my objection. Other people’s plentiful reports are as much a means of knowing as personal sense-datum. Please don’t try to argue that you can know nothing but that which you in person experience.

    The problem is that you literally have to be living under a rock in the US to not know that huge swaths of this country are overwhelmingly Christian-centric communities where evangelism of all is the essential norm of the social religious experience. If you don’t “know” this only because you yourself have never personally experienced it, in the age of the Internet and mass communication that cashes out as a startling exercise in personal self-deception.

    Sorry if that sounds harsh, but this is approximately the most restrained response you’ll ever get to this type of assertion if it were earnestly made to any of the millions of people who live in such communities and experience the pressures therein daily. It is not OK to think that Christianity’s hands are clean by means of pretending that most Christians and their social effects simply don’t exist.

  • phhht

    I’m willing to put the need for evidence/proof on hold (I guess this can be considered “faith”) as life unfolds.

    Or it can be considered religious impairment. It can be considered a cognitive disorder. Because without evidence. you cannot distinguish the real from the imaginary.

  • Many of us are here because Dr. Corey went and wrote an article in order to articulate to atheists what he thinks we’re doing wrong. We weren’t invited for tea and crumpets, but a stern lecture.

    Vitriol is part and parcel of processing criticism and countercriticism, especially when it takes the original shape of a challenge. People feel strongly about what they believe and how they act because those things matter to them, and so telling someone that they are living that part of life wrong somehow is guaranteed to provoke very strong emotion.

  • seanchaiology

    I was referring to Guy’s comment about how a discussion would destroy the friendship and the person could potentially end up hating him. So you have friends that you agree not to discuss these topics, fine, I see no issue with that. However, I still question how much of a friendship it is if hinges on completely refraining from ever talking about it. In my more close friendships I am open to what they believe and I am willing to listen and dialog about those beliefs, my friendship is not contigent upon us having the exact same world view. I simply wouldn’t have that requirement of a real friend. But then again, I don’t have that requirement of anyone. I’m fine with whatever anyone believes or disbelieves and I’m fine with letting them share that. It is how we learn and grow and become more intelligent and understanding of the world in which we live in. My question now would be, if someone holds onto these stipulations, then why would they engage in these comment threads? If the expectation is for friends not to share their different beliefs, then why visit and comment in a place where people have different beliefs? In the case of what Guy said I can only assume the person would be try and get people to hate him since he said that could be a result, but that is an assumption and there could be an entirely different form of motivation.

  • That’s odd because I know of many female atheists (I listed three if you read my post) and yet I don’t know of a single female leader of a Christian sect. It’s almost as if I didn’t know because I don’t go in Christian social circles… You haven’t heard of these people because you haven’t done a google search.

    Two atheist feminists are featured on the only atheist call-in television show out there, and have hundreds, if not thousands, of YouTube clips of them debating with theists. I know I can find female leaders in any religion if I just do a simple google search. It takes just the smallest amount of effort. You should try instead of proclaiming atheism with a broad brush of anti-woman. My wife started a group on our college campus called Atheist Agenda, and it got national news when it did a day where they traded pornography for religious scripture (they called it Smut for Smut). She led the group for a good while and more than half of it was women.

    Then, when I look over at the theist side of the fence I don’t see anything promoting women. I saw your post on Timothy where someone tries to use logic and cultural norms of the time to state that women can be ministers, I saw it. But the book approved by the Abrahamic god is pretty barbaric towards women. Genital mutilation, segregation in temples, women being subservient to their husbands…

    These are not things that make for good bedfellows for women in general.

  • Mark

    It is my belief that atheists can be saved. The CC teaches this I think. Many people have very good reasons to turn their back on a God that they have been misled about. Gay people, remarried divorcees, abused people, mothers who have lost unbaptized babies would be excused by an omni-benevolent God. Even those who cannot control their sins. The thief on the cross only had to show that he had compassion for an innocent man, repentance and ask to be forgiven and all his sins went by the way.
    Rationality? I have sufficient reasons and evidences and sensory perceptions for what I believe. You no doubt have yours. We have come to different conclusions. The awesome part is that we may both be traveling to the same destination.

  • sTv0

    “…the Christian “laws” were meant for those who chose the faith.”

    “As believers our job is to share the message of Jesus…”

    Doesn’t your forehead get sore after beating it against the wall so often?

  • sTv0

    Goddamn right.

  • DakotaMark

    At least some of religious organizations presumed to be beneficial have unreasonable costs. Christian orphanages, for example, do not give their wards an option when it comes to religion. Their beliefs will match the religion of the institution when they leave.

    Catholic hospitals are well known for refusing to provide birth control in any form even to rape victims. Abortion to save the live of the pregnant woman is also forbidden. Doctors who swore to “do no harm” should lose their medical credentials for refusing such care.

    Native American children were once forcefully abducted from their homes and sent to Christian schools far away where they were forbidden to speak their native language, continue to follow their religious traditions, or even to wear their hair in traditional ways. It was mandatory for them to assimilate into the Christian society. Shall we abduct religious children and send them to reservations with the same restrictions and see how they like it?

    Tax exemptions given to so-called non-profit religious organizations from opening their books to auditing makes it virtually impossible in the USA to determine whether religious organizations are indeed charitable or whether they take in much more money than they spend. The Vatican and the huge, ornate churches found in most large cities don’t build themselves after all.

    I don’t support any religious charity. I do support MSF/Doctors Without Borders who travel to war zones and other dangerous places to provide medical care to the victims of horrific violence. The US military has recently “mistakenly” bombed at least two MSF hospitals. I can’t recall a religious hospital being bombed though.

    I don’t refer to so-called holy books as fairy tales. Instead, I call them story books as it’s just a bit less insulting – to the fairies.

    That being said, I will agree that not all religious visitors to The
    Friendly Atheist blog are idiots, science challenged, or overtly hostile and that we should respect those who treat us with respect. Unfortunately, so many of them do qualify for those categories that it becomes frustrating to put up with their nonsense. I apologize to the reasonable visitors who are painted with the same brush.

  • seanchaiology

    Also, you say you have no problem with what they believe, but that is only true if they don’t discuss it. I would take that as having a problem with it. It is similar to saying to a homosexual couple that you are fine with them as long as they don’t show affection in front of you. I guess I want my friends to be who they are and don’t expect them to be something different in my company, otherwise I don’t see myself as much of a good friend. Buy as I said previously, this is just another example of how people view the world differently. If it works for you and your friends, that’s great!

  • Mark

    Basically I think the author would just like fair criticism. However Atheists often have every reason to be angry with all the false teachings that are often aimed at them by apparently hypocritical Christians. Personally I think atheists deserve a fair measure of patience. I don’t mind the attacks at least we are talking. Frequently the vitriol melts into a little mutual respect when patience is demonstrated.

  • seanchaiology

    Since you plainly said I am wrong, there is no need to discuss it further with you. There isn’t anything we can engage on. Have a good day.

  • Marc B.

    Object all you want. You don’t have to restrain anything. I can assure you it makes no difference to me.

    “Other people’s plentiful reports are as much a means of knowing as personal sense-datum.”

    I’m not saying I’m not aware of it in a general sense. I was only responding within the context of my original post and my main point was that I’m not a part of it. For me to somehow respond to it or apologize for it would be for me to speak from ignorance. And if you think I have some sort of responsibility to speak to it just because you think I’m in the same “tribe”, that’s not my problem. We have freedom of speech, so I’m not sure what I can do to make the people in those large swaths stop doing it. I live in the SF Bay Area, which many would agree is one of the most if not the most hostile areas for people’s of faith. Even with that, all I have to do is turn on the TV to hear any sort of mocking of religion. Doesn’t bother me in the least. Like I said in my OP, I’d be okay sitting down and having respectful convos with atheists or whoever because I’m interested in people’s stories. Furthermore, did you read my original post, where I said “Personally I think it would be better if Christians in general stopped being so vocal and started being more quiet and contemplative.”?

  • sTv0

    “We see religion on a hundred fronts losing the argument.” -Sam Harris

    Judging by the discussions ongoing, I’d say Dr. Harris has the decimal in the wrong place.

  • Yannis Bizakis


  • Marc B.

    “Or it can be considered religious impairment. It can be considered a cognitive disorder.”

    It can be, but perhaps only by atheists? I’d say 99% of the time I tell people I’m a Christian, they don’t think I have an impairment or a cognitive disorder (or if they do, they aren’t saying it, but I’m okay with that, as long as they treat me with respect). In fact most of the time when we engage in conversation, there’s mostly respect for my personal beliefs. What people think of me generally doesn’t bother me, unless it’s someone whose opinion I truly value.

  • Jeremiah Thom

    Inventing a mystery to explain a mystery is not rational, and i don’t know what goes on in your brain to understand what is going on to know whether or not your reasons are sufficient or not.

    I am not “Against” what you believe, regardless of what you might of read in my comments, i have pastors and such on my facebook who i very often say hello too and they are ones i have come to respect. I don’t respect people just because they say they are a christian nor do i just respect people who say they are a atheist, these have nothing to do with whether you are good or bad.

    I don’t care what people believe or don’t believe, i care whether or not you are a good or bad person and if you are a bad person then i want nothing to do with you. I accept everybody though.

    If i come off as arrogant or offensive, i guess honesty can come off like that. So trust me when i say, i hold no ill feelings towards you at all.

  • Yannis Bizakis

    Agreed – but I am a Scientist – and constructive criticism is part of the game. I just think it’s simpler to state the factual inaccuracies of his argument – is he is dealing with a very small percentage of atheists like this – while we deal with the vast majority of christians and others that are “jerks” – Dr. Corey is the exception to the rule – agreeing that some atheists could be jerks is not a big deal – all humans can be jerks. If he is a Christian that could possibly convince others to not be so hostile to his fellow humans – I’d rather not throw him under the proverbial bus – but I understand why some would.

  • Sastra

    Yes, when the religious works deliberately bypass “the world” and do things no reasonable, good willed humanist would do, these “good deeds” cannot — and will not — be brought up as evidence for the good religion does. Your examples are not really examples of failing by one’s own standards (which anyone might do, so it’s not a point against religion.) They’re what invvariably happens when a supernatural framework is imported: it will justify what could not otherwise be justified.

    The few Christians who venture into atheist territory automatically have my respect, regardless. It takes courage to be the minority in hostile territory. I’ve never posted on Dr. Corey’s blog before, but I’m afraid I can’t claim any like bravado. It doesn’t look to me like I’m outnumbered. He is welcoming many guests; props, then go to him.

  • sTv0

    But they do address the origins of life, and last time I checked, life is physical and is recycled back to its original state. No divine influence or supernatural direction necessary.

  • phhht

    …as long as they treat me with respect…

    Why should anyone respect you if you appear to be religiously impaired? Why should anyone respect your religious beliefs when you are utterly unable to defend them?

    I think you mistake social mercy for respect.

  • Keith Roragen

    Stuff I wish theists would stop doing: Stop demanding atheists remove the speck from their eyes before you have removed the beam from your own.

  • I’m not a doctor of theology. I’m a doctor of intercultural studies, aka, anthropology. But hey, if you’re not able to read and interact with the article thoughtfully, I suppose I can’t expect the same for the by-line either.

  • DakotaMark

    It makes total sense for the authors/editors of your holy book to assume your God killed the baby? Really? I noted your objection to the term “fairy tale” when referring to the Bible but you’ve made it clear that, to you, it’s not the ‘inspired word of God’ that so many claim it to be. I mentioned in an earlier post that I prefer to use the term ‘story book.’ Do you find that to be acceptable?

  • phhht

    I must say I am decidedly unimpressed with Benjamin L. Corey’s attempts to shore up his religious authority, his justification for telling atheists not to say what he doesn’t want to hear.

    For example, his is apparently unable to cite a single event which is unambiguously the work of a god. He cannot offer a single atom of testable evidence for the reality of gods. He is utterly unable to distinguish his convictions from delusional beliefs. He cannot say how to distinguish his religious beliefs from fairy tales for children.

    As far as I can tell, Benjamin L. Corey is incompetent to defend himself. Given that incompetence, he should keep his silly injunctions to himself until he improves.

  • Mark

    When I stated that we may be on the same destination or page if you like is that we have some common important beliefs, for example: “You’re okay as long as you are not evil.” And I don’t care if you differ in views than me.

    By “different conclusions” I am assuming that we will have differences of opinion because people always do.

    Of course I make no judgement of you and I don’t mind you challenging me. Debating is a great way to learn new things.

  • Marc B.

    Well, again, you’re thinking like an atheist, which is of course because…..ding ding ding, you are an atheist. So no surprise there. As to your questions, not relevant to me. Should they be? I could be mistaken, but the tone of your questions seem to question my worth as a person. Are you saying I’m not worthy of respect because of my religious beliefs?

  • Kittens McTavish

    I don’t expect my friends to “be something different” in my company. My best friend is very religious. Early in our relationship, she said she couldn’t fathom how someone could be “moral” without religion. I said, “Oh, I think I turned out alright.” We had a short discussion, during which I said I don’t personally believe in a deity, but I understand why someone would and it’s basically a non-issue for me. She said she would never try to convert me, but that she would be available to answer any questions I had about religion (I’ve never had any). We’ve been best friends for more than 15 years. We don’t discuss religion and we have so much in common otherwise that it doesn’t matter.

  • Hopes and wishes and private practices are simply a bit lesser than public actions.

    Police often become angry when it is pointed out to them that some cops are bad cops and this often redounds to a disparagement of police in general. “The vast majority of us are good! There are only a few bad apples!” What they misunderstand, almost to a person, is that mediocre is not the same as good. Serpico is a good cop. Most cops go-along-to-get-along. They might not beat suspects or plant evidence themselves, but they sure cover for their brothers in blue when they do, and at a general best only turn a blind eye entirely and decide to not get involved. “Well, I’m not part of the problem.”

    Failing to do evil is mediocre, merely sufficient and not, under most circumstances, deserving of plaudits or even recognition. It is what is expected, and we shouldn’t be applauded for merely meeting expectations. If you wish to meet the situations of others with an unearned haughty indifference and the lame excuse that you aren’t personally, directly involved in perpetrating those situations, and idly “hope they could be otherwise”, expect to be called out on it for the posturing of moral mediocrity it is.

  • Jeremiah Thom

    I must say it is very refreshing to meet people who are more reserved over their anger on this. I was commenting on someone on this page earlier who claimed he “Knows” and all i asked was for justification for what he claimed to know and then he went into a corner and cried that i was attacking him and he was being prosecuted by a mean atheist. That is childish in my opinion, of course i said some wrong thing’s but it get’s frusterating. If that is how people respond when put into a position they can’t defend, why should i take them serious because it is obvious they are ill equipped.

    I debate a lot, and enjoy it and some people might think it’s cause i have this inner anger to hate on people, no it’s because i value truth over comfort. I value honesty, and when you are honest with me regardless on what you believe, we will get along superbly.

    I wouldn’t want to discuss such a thing here, but you can add me on facebook if you are willing to have a go at it but i don’t debate to win, i debate to present my argument. I debated long enough to know that positions never really change, it can trigger different ways to look at something though.

  • :)

  • Marc B.

    “If you wish to meet the situations of others with an unearned haughty indifference and the lame excuse that you aren’t personally, directly involved in perpetrating those situations, and “hope they could be otherwise”, expect to be called out on it for the posturing of moral mediocrity it is.”

    Okay, I consider myself called out. Now what should I do? Keep in mind, I live in the SF BAY AREA.

    Edit: and keep in mind, I’m not saying I agree with any of your round about argumentation. But I’m listening.

  • Mark

    I was only giving some examples of why fundamental atheists are the way they are. It wasn’t intended to be a comprehensive list because I’m certainly not an expert. For a time I engaged in some healthy debating with Muslims and often atheists would try to but in and start a theist debate and I wondered at possible motives for them on what was a theology discussion. Some were downright nasty and apparently evil people. Others maybe were nice people just looking for answers. I don’t profess to be able to judge peoples motives, only speculate.

    You prefer to describe them as anti-theist. Good point, thanks I agree. And yes another reason may be as a response to oppression. In which case it is fair.

    You may be from the US. from what I have learnt the oppression you describe maybe very common in parts there. Thank you for the great post :)

  • Catherine

    There are plenty of liberal christians who don’t profess the bible is the truth or authored by God. I don’t know if the author is one of them though.

  • margaretpoa

    Of course it doesn’t. You’re a deist and no amount of evidence for or counter to is going to change your mind one jot. Your opinion about what constitutes evidence, on the other hand, is just not relevant to this conversation or any other. You are not allowed to redefine terms to suit your ideology.

  • margaretpoa

    It’s not my “rule”. I didn’t define science, other much smarter people than I did that. I’m just pointing out that you may not redefine it.

  • Marc B.

    “As far as I can tell, Benjamin L. Corey is incompetent to defend himself. Given that incompetence, he should keep his silly injunctions to himself until he improves.”

    You do realize this is his blog, right?

  • Catherine

    The same as any other piece of literature.

  • DakotaMark

    It’s my understanding that the prosecutors during the Inquisition were given a hefty portion of the heretic’s wealth, that his home was confiscated and his family left homeless. Another portion of the wealth went to Rome. Knowing that they make more money by accusing the wealthy, not surprisingly, they began to focus on them. (I’m saying this from memory having read the Encyclopedia of Witchcraft and Demonology many years ago.)

  • phhht

    Yeah, I know what you mean. I’d be really embarrassed to put that silliness out in public on my own blog myself.

  • Marc B.

    Well then, I guess you can look forward to (potentially) many more years of embarrassment.

  • Catherine

    I have to admit I don’t live in the US but from what I’ve noticed following what is happening there you don’t hear from liberal chrisitans so much because they are hated and persecuted fiercely by the conservatives. From what I’ve noticed online is that they hate “heretics” as much or even more sometimes than atheists.

  • phhht

    Boy, that was pitiful as a comeback

    I have no blog. I don’t make silly injunctions to loony believers not to say what they believe. Quite the contrary.
    I want believers to justify their beliefs.

    But, just like Benjamin L. Corey, they can’t.

  • I’d start with broadening your gaze beyond the SF BAY AREA. What is it about this thing that you’re not getting (or that you think is “roundabout”)? The first step is acknowledging the relevant problems other people claim to face, rather than dismissing them, and to understanding that your situation (like any one person’s situation) is not a handy synecdoche for the universal.

    Then, once you notice and understand that life in your bubble is not reflective of life in the broader land, what should you do?

    That depends entirely on your personal capacities and resources. You could reach out to people that get harmed in these situations, or contribute time, money, or labor to the many organizations that exist that try to ameliorate these harms and attempt to prevent them. You could be a clarifying voice in your own community to highlight rather than minimize the things you discover and start a conversation about the current state of practice of evangelism. Write a letter to a politician, or a priest, or a pastor. Instill values by being a mentor or a coach or a teacher or a parent that include active engagement with and understanding of differences, and respect for the ability of people to disagree about religion without being harassed for their choices, and confrontation of those that who attempt to do those values harm.

    I don’t know you well enough to tell you what to go do with yourself, but I don’t need to to point out that whatever it is you do should be better than doing nothing. You know you well enough to know what you are capable of doing; the true stumbling block is you aren’t convinced you should, as you yourself admit. Asking me how in light of that is something of a deflection. It’s not a big or complicated ask that your contribution should be greater than not doing harm, and that failing even that, the excuse shouldn’t be, “Well, it’s NIMBY, so whatever.”

    Besides, it need not even really have a lofty moral dimension; do you honestly think if dominionists and theocrats win their way that they’ll treat the likes of you better than the likes of me? To help buttress the separation of church and state, or give some personal maintenance to the public free market of ideas (necessarily including religious ones) and reduce the pull of those who make war upon these bedrocks of our civic life is at the least an exercise in self-preservation.

  • Marc B.

    Are there many people who care what you want? Are we supposed to care?

  • phhht

    I guess you’re the only one, since you’re the only one who tried to reply.

  • That’s precisely why I don’t get it. To speak up would be an act at least partially in self-defense, in self-preservation. If their conservative doppelgangers ever were to prevail in a definitive way, they’d be up against the wall right next to us.

  • Marc B.

    Nope, just asking.

  • Jayden Hunter

    “Being a progressive Christian is the hardest path you can take, I think”

    Negative. Being a Christian, fully in love with Jesus, with a 37 year history of serving God, being well loved in the church, going on missions trips, etc., etc., and THEN really studying the evidence and realizing that you’ve been in the same position as anyone in an obviously false religion, THAT is the hardest.

    I went through severe depression. I struggled, I read, studied, cried, nearly died….

    You’ve chosen a path that’s pretty easy comparable to becoming an atheist and being rejected by all your old church friends and basically being told over and over you’re going to hell.

    “You may not understand it because it’s ridiculous, or you may not
    understand because you don’t have the knowledge such understanding would
    require. The only way you’ll ever know is by trying to figure it out.”

    I was a fan of everyone from popular guys, Yancey and Greg Boyd, to obscure guys like the French anarchist Ellul.

    I lived the Christian life for 37 years, from 10 to 47. I read the Bible and studied everything from Dallas Willard, to old school guys, to John Eldridge, etc.

    If you study without preconceived ideas of what’s true and use the Outsiders Test of Faith, I don’t know you can land on Progressive Christianity.

    But, I get it. Becoming an atheist was insanely difficult.

    I had to realize I’d been fooled all my life.

    And as a progressive Christian, you agree that much of what I believed was deception (I was a young earth creationist for many years).

    So, you’re on a scale from A to Z.

    Where? K,,,,X…..Y?

    I made it to Z and I can say it’s a lot harder.

    Stopping part way is easier because you’ve still landed on accepting what is comforting to you.

  • Catherine

    The liberal/progressive christians in the US I’m familiar with, like Jim Wallis, Spong, Frank Schaeffer, Rob Bell etc. do speak up quite clearly and have done so for a while. The hate and attacks against them are vicious.There could still be a mushy middle ground who aren’t so ready to speak up. In fact I think moderates and liberals could be in more immediate danger as the example of islamic world shows. In places like Afganistan the moderate islamic leaders were taken out by the taliban and islamic state before they took on the world. The last thing religious extremists would want is a dissenting faction of their tradition who are more reasonable and appealing to others.

  • That was in some cases. Most of the time they were just ousting the slums where non-Catholics lived or removing Jews from cities. I’m sure the Catholic church absorbed all the material possessions they could, but actual lands went to the monarchs, not the church (At least in Spain and France)

    In other parts of Europe they used the Inquisition as a witch hunt, gathering up those that weren’t right with the church (prisons were emptied, scholars investigated, and opposing religious homes burned) and putting them to torture until confession and acceptance of Jesus Christ, followed by death. If you didn’t accept Christ, you just got tortured more until they had a mass execution/grave.

    The Spanish Inquisitions were meant to purge the Arabic and Islamic taint left by the Moors during their occupation. If your family had intermarried, you were killed. If you were a child of an Arabic person, killed or forced into the Church. Too old? Killed.

    The Inquisitions were fucking terrifying for everyone, as any Bishop who got an errant desire to punish someone for any reason would happily purge entire family lines. Many did it for wealth, but there were the zealots that honestly thought they were doing God’s work. To be honest, there were also men of the cloth that were really lenient and merely ordered people to leave their homes with what they could carry and never return. So they weren’t all terrible.

  • OccupyReality

    “It seems like you have a concept of “trying” which is a bit cramped.”

    “…These are all ways in which we try ideas without personally, directly attempting to implement them. And, most definitely yes, everything should be tested in some way because it is impossible to know a priori what will yield an instrumentality or a insight of significant value. Not every experiment needs to be on live animals (and indeed, most shouldn’t be). Doesn’t mean there aren’t many other ways to run the experiment.”

    That is Olympic level equivocation.

  • Olive

    I (“progressive Christian”) think Dawkins gets a bad rap. His proselytization is a bit annoying, but I suppose turn about is fair play.

  • I do not submit to your interpretation.
    Are you lonely tonight coo?

  • HanEyeAm

    Dr. Corey’s humor and approach is bridge-building and that is appreciated. Where the blog post falls short is that it depicts atheists and Christians on some sort of equal footing. In the US, atheist (or non-Christians, more generally) rights are infringed upon by Christian practice and there is constant political pressure from a large constituency (and $$$) to force all to take a knee in front of the cross. It’s not so funny when you have to try and explain “under God,” the President saying “God bless,” or the facilitation of churches as de facto community resources (i.e., tax breaks) to your kid who is rationale and considers the Christian God as sensible as Odin or Zeus.

    Speaking of “religion hasn’t done any good for humanity”, sure, religious organizations have done good things and many religious positions that support humanism have influenced paritioners. That said, if there were no churches, people would still do good, and would create secular organizations to do so.

  • You’re a fundamentalist atheist and no amount of evidence for or counter to is going to change your mind one jot until your addictions stops working for you. You are hidebound in my humble opinion and so cannot allow yourself to redefine terms which go counter to you or obsessions and compulsions. There is reason and wisdom for you to be this way.

  • Marc B.

    Okay, so first is this:

    “You could be a clarifying voice in your own community to highlight rather than minimize the things you discover and start a conversation about the current state of practice of evangelism.”

    Please help me understand, specifically, what is it about the “current state of practice of evangelism” that offends you? How exactly are you being harassed?

  • Thank you for reminding me that I may take a time out for mental health reasons. I took your advice and remembered that I have gotten a lot of comfort from my favorite psychiatrist Viktor Frankl. I shall try to apply:

    Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.
    Viktor Frankl
    Have you read his book Man’s Search for meaning?

  • Bossy boots!!

  • Marc B.

    “What is it about this thing that you’re not getting (or that you think is “roundabout”)?”

    It’s not that I’m not getting it. I simply don’t find your arguments convincing. I get that you have convinced yourself. But you took one sentence out of my response above and are building an entire diatribe upon it.

    For instance, you used the example with the police:

    “but they sure cover for their brothers in blue when they do, and at a general best only turn a blind eye entirely and decide to not get involved.”

    Here you’re simply lumping me into whatever group you are taking issue with. I categorically reject that. As you yourself admitted, you don’t know me. I get that this has affected you greatly, but to launch into an indictment of someone you don’t know on the internet is unfortunately going to be a waste of time.

  • Chris Crawford

    I was actually referring to intellectual ease, not that it’s easy as a personal decision. Rejection is simpler and more direct than bothering to re-think the very basis of what you’re been told your whole life.

    And it’s not easy personally for some of the same reasons you mention. Many Christian friends seemed to think I was just an atheist who wouldn’t admit it. The nicer ones wanted to reclaim my soul for God, while the less nice rejected me outright. There was a guy who’d been married three times and currently lived with his girlfriend telling me my eternal soul was damned because I accepted evolution. My wife and kids had to pay the price as well, being slowly excluded and isolated from old friends.

    I understand what you went through. In fact, I wrote a novel about it: https://www.amazon.com/Tuning-Station-Chris-Crawford/dp/B00Y98CDYK. It’s 100% made up, yet in no small way autobiographical of my own journey.

    (Not that I’m trying to hawk a book on this site…just fits in this conversation)

    I’ve been told by atheist readers that the story is honest and respectful. I ended up rejecting being published by a Christian publisher because they’d make me tone down the story.

    Feel free to read it or not, but if you’re interested in knowing a bit about why I am who I am, it’d be a good start.

  • All this was a direct reaction to you idly “wondering” aloud how a person in America could be harassed by a person who want them to believe in their god. “I’m shocked! Shocked I tell you to discover gambling in this establishment!” So you were either taking the piss, or utterly sheltered and naive, or kind of a jerk. I don’t know you so I don’t know if it’s option A, B, or C, but since all options are rather annoying to be witness to I shared my annoyance with its source.

    A bit ironic all around when in the context of an article asking people to be more mindful of their fellows.

    Here you’re simply lumping me into whatever group you are taking issue with.

    And now you’re being deliberately dense. That’s not what that analogy describes in the slightest.

  • Equivocation would be if I were forwarding two different definitions of a word in the same argument.

    This is me pointing out that my definition of a word is more expansive than what your definition of the word allows. Your definition is ‘cramped’, in my opinion, because you only wish to consider certain aspects and certain implications of the concept.

    All I can do is tell you what I meant by my use of the word. If you have some reason to remain attached to your narrower definition, by all means let’s hear it. Why shouldn’t we consider observing the efforts of others, or thought-experiments, or story-telling, methods of trying an idea? Why do you think the only thing that could properly mean “trying” is personal, direct efforts to implement an idea in reality?

  • Today I’ve learned (further downthread) there are even a few liberal Christians who don’t actually believe that any of what you just articulated in your first paragraph is true, or meaningful if true, or relevant in any way to their lives or the health of the society they live in.

    Kind of dispiriting, all things considered.

  • I (“life-long atheist”) have been perplexed for a while at the Dawkins’ “bad rap”. Most atheists I know who have read him think of him as a gentle sort of accommodationist and certainly very polite in his criticisms of religion; there is only ever even the hint of a flare of umbrage when he’s defending the domain of evolutionary biology from creationism, and I gotta think that’s as much professional pride as anything.

  • “We’re gonna need a bigger boat.”

  • Marc B.

    As I said, a waste of time.

  • Feigned ignorance is an obnoxious game, but you were right about one thing.

    What a waste of time.

  • Religions have a host of tenets that make them easier to corrupt, easier to take advantage over time, and easier to pollute the world.

    I’m personally very unsure about this bit.

    If we take a religion as a group of self-reinforcing memes, I’m not sure whether in any particular case the dominant effect of that complex is to make religious people more or less susceptible to certain corruptions than the average unaffiliated-Joe-or-Jane. My suspicion would be that a given religion inoculates against certain corruptions while introducing susceptibilities to others, because religions have content that encourages in their adopters discrete imperatives (in action, in thought, in self-analysis, and so forth) which differ from the baseline.

    Maybe the true vulnerability is that if a given corruption finds itself virulent against a certain religion, it can spread and become endemic in the whole population of believers in that religion quickly and decisively, while the anarchic non-group of unaffiliateds would have a broader variability in resistance and smaller pockets of compromise to any one corruption.

  • Marc B.

    “Feigned ignorance is an obnoxious game”

    As is thinking you’re good enough to make assumptions, generalizations, and judgments about people you’ve never met in person. This is actually the first time I’ve engaged atheists in a blog forum, and I’m pretty sure it will be my last. Good luck.

  • The slogan “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence” is not an empty one. It’s also one that doesn’t bear much on phenomenology. Meaning, it’s not so much a complaint that a person who experienced what they interpret as a miracle believes in it–it actually makes a great deal of sense for someone to interpret an odd experience or anomaly the way that gives it the most sensible meaning to the person experiencing it–it’s much more of a problem when that person asks other people who did not experience what they experienced to believe in the reality of the miracle they interpreted to have happened to them.

    I am willing to readily concede that a person who claims experiencing a miracle experienced something. What I’m much less willing to readily concede is that something was exactly what the person is claiming it to be unless they can give some bit of independent reason for me to believe it. The human perceptual schema is fragile and buggy and easily distracted and confused, and so cannot on its own support extraordinary claims that third parties are obligated to take seriously.

  • ollie

    Interesting, As a Christian I find a very high percentage of atheists that are jerks. But then I find a very high percentage of Christians that are jerks too. Quite simply all he is asking is that people on both sides quit calling names and listen to what the other side is saying. [At least that is what I see]. But Yannis what is your responibility?

  • ollie

    And 3lemenope how is it not a stern lecture when atheists tell us that we believe in fairy tales and are idiots because we believe what we believe? Oh that is right we are idiots because we don’t agree with the atheists!

    Of course I must ask why you would come to read a article with the title:

    “S%#t I Wish (Some) Atheists Would Stop Doing (And Saying)” and not accept dirty laundry to be aired?

  • ollie

    Many of Dawkins criticisms are religion are not very polite. If he says what he believes why does he have to say anything about religion?

    And being you bring up evolutionary biology. May I point out that to believe that requires every bit as much faith as believing in a god?

  • To indulge in another cliche, “Intent is not magic.”

    The predominant atheist criticism against religious charity is not that we think it’s usually a malicious and dastardly plot to burrow into the lives of desperate people in order to convert them. It’s that, somewhat more horrifyingly, we think it’s usually a beneficently-intended effort to help desperate people…by burrowing into their lives in order to convert them.

    If it is a fact that a free Bible will not fill an empty stomach, for example, then how could the intent actually matter when the need that is presented is hunger? It’s only a cartoonish example by half, because there are a few religious charities that do exactly this and believe they’re helping. But it’s only a few steps up to give food for free without taking consideration of how it might disrupt/destroy the local food economy; the intent is to fill bellies, but the effect over time is to cause even more to be empty.

    This analysis can be spun out quite a bit. Is it helping that the Church helped to preserve the works of Aristotle (after they borrowed them back from the Umayyad Muslims) if they acted in turn to hoard that knowledge and prevent its actual dissemination for over a thousand years (because they regarded some of it dangerous and an invitation to heresy)? The intent is preservation of knowledge (and of souls), the result a lack of progress from stifling that knowledge’s very use.

  • The more accurate term is, indeed, mythology, not least because there are no fairies to speak of in the Biblical text.

    But that’s the joke, in part. Is calling it a fairy tale diminutive, and insulting? Perhaps, but then we’ve got talking snakes and chatty donkeys and really big fish goin’ on in there, and to leave that pass without a pointed comment seems a bit daft. Many Christians find the intimation that any of it is mythological at all to be the true insult, and they too would be impatient about the semantic argument. Dr. Corey represents the exception instead of the rule in this regard.

    So, yes, important to get our terms right; it is helpful for clarity in communication. But let’s not pretend that the objection writ large truly hinges on the semantics involved.

  • It’s a bit, um, easy for the person sitting in the dominant position to ask people who are not to “all respect one another”.

    It’s not that what he’s asking for is bad. It’s that it is complicated into a mess by the relative power and social prestige of the two groups in dialogue.

    It’s good that he opened that dialogue. But part of making that move from his position has to be understanding that lecturing from above can feel an awful lot like punching downward when viewed from below.

  • Yep. Parthenogenesis as an explanation leads unavoidably to female Jesus.

  • Of course I must ask why you would come to read a article with the title[…]

    Because Christians are talking about me and mine. See, Christians have political power here, so their opinions wind their way inexorably into law, tradition, and social practice. Their opinions will affect me whether I visit those opinions or not, because they will visit me in one of those forms eventually.

    If someone in a liberal Christian tradition/denomination/headspace writes an article that has overtones of “those mean atheists, they should stop doing things their way and do them mine”, that feeds into wider Christian stereotypes (very broadly held, I feel compelled to emphasize) about what we durned atheists are really about and how we should be dealt with, unless the Christian so doing is very, very careful.

    Dr. Corey, at least, gives that element a good college try, which is why I came here expecting a challenging read and a stimulating discussion instead of a completely dispiriting diatribe that an atheist presented with such a headline can certainly rationally come to expect. Such is to his great credit, and also that of much of the community here.

    Personally, I find the sobriquet “fairy tales” to be unnecessarily insulting and so I don’t use it, and I am certainly not of the opinion that religion is an indication of a lack of intelligence or discernment. But I also understand why some others do use “fairy tales” as a descriptor or are brusque in response to being lectured, and it is more pointed than simply being insulting.

    Christianity enjoys, in most of the US, automatic privilege of place and a consequent automatic demand for respect. It is not vacuous to make a pointed jab to indicate that most of that demand is unearned, such that to desire such unearned elevation in the first place is the greater insult to all in a society that plausibly claims to strive towards a pluralistic ethos. There are only so many ways for the people underneath to scream: “Hey, buddy, whydoncha examine your privilege a wee bit? Thanx bunches.”

  • Many of Dawkins criticisms are religion are not very polite.


    And being you bring up evolutionary biology. May I point out that to believe that requires every bit as much faith as believing in a god?

    You can point it out, but you indicate by doing so only that you do not understand evolutionary biology.

  • seanchaiology

    Then obviously what I am saying doesn’t apply to you. My comment was in response to what Guy said about his friends and you don’t seem to take that same view. So, then, what is your question or argument with what I said? Because it seems, from what you have said here, you view friendship in a similar manner that I do.

  • Kittens McTavish

    I do take the same view as Guy. I don’t discuss religion with my religious friends and neither does he. You said you want your friends “to be who they are” and “not be someone different.” But you also claim that the situation (of not discussing it) is similar to “having a problem with” homosexuality.

    I do not have a problem with my friends having religion. They do not have a problem with me not having religion. We simply do not discuss it. There are plenty of other subjects that interest us and it’s pointless to discuss a topic on which we’ll never agree.

    Maybe I’ve misunderstood what you’re trying to say, because it sounds like you and I and Guy all actually agree. (?)

  • Mikko

    i get the “The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” from street preachers when i say that i’m not interested and they ask why and i tell them i’m an atheist

  • Mikko

    old atheists silent when christians demands it
    new atheists not silent when christians demands it

  • Bill Thomas

    I think religion hasn’t done any good for humanity in the grand scheme of things. It’s quite likely climate change will wipe us out very soon, and I’m relying on scientific evidence to reach the conclusion. I don’t have faith in human technological power to solve such a complex problem in such a short period of time within dysfunctional and resistant political systems while corporations are openly permitted to lie to the public about the major moral issues. All this occurs among an uneducated populace, and any education contrary to the interests of power are not permitted, dismantled and even attacked. That said, I look at it like this. A corrupted moral doctrine is not a moral doctrine. As we see in the world there are clearly corrupted aspects of what any reasonable person might consider moral theology; yet all theology relies upon the same book. We should, assuming we are reasonable people and that moral outcomes are what we place as a highest priority, be able to agree that popularizing corrupted moral doctrines only funnels adherents to those corrupted theologies. Anyone can covert a person to hold faith in the Bible, but they cannot predict which theological doctrine they might later then adopt. So clearly the faith produces both moral and immoral outcomes, and any moral person knowing this cannot continue to claim a moral position by supporting it. This is exactly what Jesus Christ said in the gospels and was likely one of the motivators for his new teaching. Even a good fruit becomes corrupted by promoting a corrupted form of morality. “Even so, every good tree produces good fruit; but the corrupt tree produces evil fruit. A good tree cannot produce evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree produce good fruit. Every tree that does not grow good fruit is cut down, and thrown into the fire. Therefore, by their fruits you will know them” (Mat 7:17-20). “Either make the tree good, and its fruit good, or make the tree corrupt, and its fruit corrupt; for the tree is known by its fruit” (Mat 12:33). “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand. And if Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then will his kingdom stand?” (Mat 12:25-26). “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other; or else he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God (good) and Mammon (evil)“ (Mat 6:24). Ignorance is the shepherd of sin. All organized religion has done has stagnated humanity into camps that fight over things that don’t really matter and prevented any moral progression of the human species that would have made it possible for us to solve our most complex problems. Politics has done nothing but the same thing. The earth is divided. It’s surprising we survived the Cold War, actually. There were several near misses one can cite.

  • crackerMF

    I’m not sure the best way to break this down, but here’s my beef: following the religious/ethical views written by Moses (Torah), or the teachings of Jesus (love your neighbor, love your enemies)….

    you see, this is where you lose me. all the historical evidence points to there never having been any moses and to insist there was puts you in the category of fairy tale believer. and if you think leviticus is a religious/ethical view worthy of emulation, then you not only lose me, you disgust me.

    as for the teachings of jesus – he exhorts his followers to do the decent things he recommends for the purpose of glorifying god and winning entrance to heaven.

    when taken out of context his teachings sound ok but within the context of the bible they are calls to mindless adoration of authority and greed/fear.

    the problem with a morality based on mindless adoration of authority and greed/fear, is that it is far too easily turned from love your neighbor, love your enemies to glorify god and win entrance to heaven to kill the unbeliever to glorify god and win entrance to heaven.

  • Bill Thomas

    They are more attached to doctrinal tradition than they are moral reason. If God was a moral force one would assume God would want morality to be upheld above tradition, and funny thing is Jesus said that. They need to just cut the gospel canon out of the book, but again, the church and tradition. And again, Jesus denounced exalted authority. They are institutional contradictions to everything the guy said. Then they only cite two passages to show Jesus actually supported an institution that contradicting all that he said, inaccurately. Always the same 2 passages. At the same time they ignore the two that he said that state the opposite. It’s stunning the degree of contraction. Jesus preached against others not practicing what they preached but supports Christians not practicing what he preached. So theology basically is saying Jesus is a hypocrite. he denounced others for that over and over again. But no matter. When you know what he was actually saying it is far worse than you can even imagine. Totally corrupted moral doctrine. And anything that cannot agree on the Truth only divides people and turns people against one another. Without a unified understanding of Truth a wider unification of love cannot exist! Truth is a prerequisite of Love. It is all assembled in an attached link. Jesus was clearly anti authoritarian, because exactly as you say, that corrupts the entire moral mission! They just tossed it out. It’s not like he only said it one or two times. It is a significant portion of the red letters in the gospels. https://johnmicahbakies.wordpress.com/2016/11/10/the-teaching-of-jesus-christ/

  • Bill Thomas

    Well said. You might find this interesting. The words of Jesus in the gospels used to invalidate the legitimacy of the rest of the Bible. https://johnmicahbakies.wordpress.com/2016/11/15/how-the-words-of-jesus-christ-correct-all-theological-contradictions-to-his-teaching/

  • seanchaiology

    My point was that Guy stated if one if his Christian friends wanted to discuss it, then it would turn ugly. My view is that is not friendship as I see it. It’s not about whether you agree to refrain from the topic, it is about the contingecies placed on friends. I wouldn’t assume it would turn to hatred because my friend wanted to discuss it, and that is what Guy said and that is what I have to address here. Therefore, I do not think we are all in agreement. From what I gather in this brief exchange is that he is at one end, I’m at the other, and as far as I can tell you are somewhere between but leaning more his direction. Again, it’s not about what you do with your friends in some mutual agreement but what you allow them to do and if your friendship is based on rules of refrain from discussion of their beliefs.

  • Elliot George

    What sort of an ‘omnipotent’ and loving being would leave information for us that is so ambiguous we can interpret it to mean what we like?

  • Janhoi Mccallum

    Nice red herring there. You didn’t even address the subject post that I made. Yeah, Homophobia is a horrible thing and I and Corey would stand against religious sanctioned homophobia. What’s your point? Nice dogde from the subject post.

  • EricBubu

    “So you’re an atheist.
    Great. I’m a Christian.”

    Your post starts with a strange assumption, that you never seem to question later in your post : WHY are you a christian, while some others are atheists, or muslims, or buddhists, or hindus… So we have to remind you here that you were NOT born christian, and that the label you apply to yourself has (most probably, since there are a few exceptions to this rule)been tagged on you by your parents when your brain was still a soft malleable thing, and your conscience not yet securely built by reason and logic. If you want to remain what you were made, in spite of reason and logic, it’s your choice, so don’t blame anyone for ridiculing you.
    Most of us atheists are so, either because we were lucky to be born in families that didn’t tag us at birth, or we decided, through education , personal reflection and responbilisation, experience, to throw away the tag along with the delusions. So, to the contrary of “being religious”, being an atheist is an active choice, not a passive one. It is motivated by rational fundations and not by delusional wishes and fantasms. We all here understand why what we say and think can be a great danger to your self-labelling, but that’s exactly the reason why we’ll keep doing it, because through Man’s History, the gods’ realms have always been reduced by knowledge, reflection, reason, logic, and education.

    “you’re an atheist and I’m a theist. That doesn’t mean we have to be natural born enemies.”
    Indeed we were not made “born enemies”, we were born EQUAL in capacity of rational thinking, of self-responsibilsation. And YOU were brought up to create yourself enemies, to believe that, through your fantasms and beliefs, you were morally and ethically superior to your non-christian brothers, you were “purer” than your non-christians brothers, you only were exposed to “the Truth”, while all others erred in darkness. Please allow us to question this limited, egotistic view of the workd and humanity.

  • Janhoi Mccallum

    Based on this discussion and comment as I have observed it, I’ve noticed 4 trends speaking as a self identified progressive Christian.

    (i)Red Herrings seem to be the bane of conversations
    -Corey directed this subject post to something specific and some of the commentators seem to be bringing up things that have nothing to do with what
    -People are saying on this post that because Corey criticized atheists for generalizations some make of religious people, therefore he “wants atheists to shut up” which is A)not what he said. B) a completely red herring to the conversation
    -People seem to be engaging in a sort of “whataboutism” without even addressing the substance of the points Corey has made in some cases

    (ii)Generalizations seem to be a one way corridor.
    -Generalizations of Atheists are bad and are rightfully condemned(which I support). But it’s perfectly alright apparently to generalize all Christians or religious people in general.
    -Many posters before even investigating who Corey is seem to have made assumptions about his positions and who he is, some even thinking he’s in league with fundamentalists when he is a progressive, thereby proving his point.

    (iii)Ad Hominems and Appeal’s to ridicule seem to be the most convenient way of addressing a subject post for many people.
    -I have seen some commentators who before even reading the post coming at this post with a sense to start launching personal attacks and questioning the intelligence and integrity of the poster.

    (iv)Atheists seem to be the most energetic and persistent commentators on things religious(which isn’t necessarily a bad thing)
    -When Corey posts on the regular topics that he does post on, it usually gets like 30 to 40 comments. When he posts a mild criticism of some atheists(not even all) it explodes to like 1000 comments which is a trend I have been noticing for over a decade now.

    Just some interesting observations I have made on this particular thread so far. There have been a mixture of toxic comments filled with just pure ad hominems, and healthy discussions where there is a dialectic going on and driven by assumptions and an appeal to emotion.

  • EricBubu

    …or the thousands of other gods invented by humanity through its history…

  • EricBubu

    Well, this poor Vicky obviously has a problem with her feminity…

  • EricBubu

    “Having been a Christian for many years now, I never really felt
    compelled to convert or convince anyone about what I believe, or what
    someone “ought” to believe.”

    However, what most people seem to forget or overlook is that the only reason why religions still exist in the scientifically advances XXIst century, is that adults/parents “convert” their kids before they can make up their own mind. I really do have a problem with religious people always claiming the “right to their beliefs”, or “religious freedom”, which they so obviously deny to their own kids. The worst of all is the hypocrisy of “religious freedom” claimed by muslims while kids have no other choice than being muslims when born into a muslim family, and when apostasy is punished by death.

  • JustThink

    “And being you bring up evolutionary biology. May I point out that to believe that requires every bit as much faith as believing in a god?”

    If that is what you believe, then you are choosing to ignore that mountains of evidence exist to support evolution.

    Because of this evidence, if you wiped out all knowledge of the evolution of the different species, the same conclusion would be reached, eventually.

    If you wiped out all knowledge of gods (and scientific research for this example), you would end up with entirely new religious stories about the origins of the species.

    The Christians who believe in evolution (despite that it is contradictory to the Bible) do so because there is just some evidence you can’t ignore. They find a way to make both possible so they don’t have to abandon their faith.

  • Sastra

    Speaking as a self-identified atheist, I can’t say you’re wrong here. I haven’t read all the comments, but people do seem to be drifting a bit. Though it might be interesting to see what would happen if the progressive Christians exploded all over the place, too.

    Assuming that’s something progressive Christians could conceivably do, of course.

  • EricBubu

    Where, I’d love to know ?
    No, you can get get a Doctorate in Literature, with a thesis on mythology or fairy tales, but it’s not a Doctorate in Fairy Tale per se.

  • EricBubu

    “He holds master degrees in theology and missiology (Gordon-Conwell) and
    received his doctorate from Fuller Theological Seminary.”
    Well, this is rather misleading then. Nowhere it says that you doctorate is not in theology and we can rightly assume that it is based on your previous master’s degree.

  • Elliot George

    Here’s a fundamental question: Why do people think beliefs have value?

    And another: Why do people think that ‘atheism’ is a belief system?

  • I agree with your assessment, but would like to add to it. When I said religion, I think it can be said for any group of people. Democrats, Republicans, Unions, Congress, any military, it all has corruption due to the very nature of a gathering of human beings ending up choosing the path of one (or a few) leaders who can be good in some ways, but very bad in others.

    I think Kay from Men in Black said it best: “A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky dangerous animals and you know it. Fifteen hundred years ago everybody knew the Earth was the center of the universe. Five hundred years ago, everybody knew the Earth was flat, and fifteen minutes ago, you knew that humans were alone on this planet.”

    While I don’t know about the alien bit, the fact remains that people, when gathered together, can do heinous things that normally a person wouldn’t do.

  • Sastra

    I’m going to make a small criticism and suggestion to Dr. Benjamin Corey. It was a mistake to put a photograph of Dr. Richard Dawkins as his illustration for a post asking atheists to stop saying all Christians are stupid, all Christians are fundamentalists, religion does no good, etc. First, because Dr. Dawkins doesn’t say or do those things, and always makes a point that he’s not. We atheists know that, we don’t think of him that way, we admire him for his outspoken counterapologetics. On the hypothetical scale of doing stuff, he’d maybe be somewhere in the gentile middle.

    He’s not a good example then of the extremes of thoughtless vitriol and cluelessness. So by using his photo and comparing him to Ham, you’ve ended up shifting your argument so that it looks like you’re complaining that arguing against the existence of God has to stop.

    I think it would have been better if a stock photo of “raging man/woman” had been used instead.

  • Sastra

    Quick answer:
    1.) beliefs form the model of reality an individual or group uses to justify behavior, and this effects others.
    2.) truth has a high value for its own sake as well, and if that is granted then true beliefs have more value than false ones.

    Both practical and principle, then.

    (added: That was in answer to the first question.)

  • JustThink

    A fundamentalist Christian can point to the Bible to justify their beliefs and actions. An Islamic extremist can point to the Quran for their justification. An atheist lets scientific evidence shape their beliefs.

    Where, then, do the beliefs of progressive Christians come from? Believe me, I’d much rather be in your company than that of the first two groups, but I’m still curious how you came to believe some of it happened according to the Bible and some of it didn’t.

  • Elliot George

    But we all disbelieve the beliefs of others – that’s a clue to the valuelessness of beliefs, surely…

  • OccupyReality

    {“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.”} Lewis Carroll

    I’m not going to quibble semantics with you.

    Your definition is so broad that it is meaningless.
    You even want to include Gedankenexperiment.

    That is nonsense.

  • margaretpoa

    There is no such thing as a “fundamentalist atheist”. That is an oxymoron. You and other deists have no evidence or you would have presented it.

  • margaretpoa

    “lonely tonight”? “Coo”? Okay, with that name calling and deflection, I’m done with you. One can’t reason with an ideologue and I’m nt longer going to waste my time attempting to do so.

  • EricBubu

    “The morality of atheists is superior to the morality of believers because it’s totally disinterested, and not subjected to any reward.”

  • jkarov

    @ the Author, seriously!

    Being a progressive Christian means what?

    Do you believe only the words Jesus spoke as being true, as they are related by the 4 gospels, and disregard the rest of the New Testament?

    How much (if any) of the execrable and immoral teachings of the Old Testament do you believe? Read 1 Samuel 15:3.

    Do you reject the misogyny, tyranny, condoning slavery, and gay bashing that Paul of Tarsus expounds upon?

    Quoting the article:”there’s some weird stories in the Bible. Plenty of verses to make fun of”

    Trust me, there is nothing weird or “funny” about Romans 1:32, Ephesians 5:22 and Ephesians 6:5. These are taken as canon law and absoluate truth by many Christians.

    These verses have caused untold suffering and misery for millions of human beings.

    Jesus was steeped in the law and the prophets, and he alludes to them often in his words.

    His sermon on the mount certainly lays out some admirable prinicples and ideas for humans, but he also mentions damnation and hell, and eternal punishment.

    The problem for us atheists is that it’s impossible to separate the wise and compassionate teacher from the Lake of Fire Jesus promised to those who will not believe and “follow him”

    The fire breathing evangelicals promise unbelievers that they will have eternal agony, shame, and punishment forever, and at least that conforms to the words Jesus spoke, however much else they get wrong about the bible.

    How can progressive CHristians embrace the compassionate Jesus, and ignore the condemnation, and hell fire to come for all us unsaved and unwashed humans who don’t follow your book?

    I would love to hear an exposition, however brief from a progressive Christian relating to even a few of my questions.

  • Fish Man

    Keep in mind that the only reason why Christians want to “build bridges” is to CONVERT YOU to their stupid beliefs. That is their sole reason, as it is in their holy book: WITNESS! They must witness and convert in order to make it into their heaven and spend eternity with their zombie god.

  • jkarov

    Well said.

  • Fish Man

    “Why do people think that ‘atheism’ is a belief system?”
    Exactly. This makes as much sense as saying NOT collecting coins is a Hobby.

    The word “Atheist” should not even exist.

    It’s a word that was originated by Religious nuts who used it against people to burn people at the stake, because they were heretics.

    I’m more of a Militant Atheist … and I’m of the mind set of MOCKING these morons out of existence, with FACTS and INTELLECT. The days of friendly dialogue are over. It’s 2017 and guess what? The world isn’t flat and there’s no reason to discuss that … same thing with Jesus being the son of some sky god.

  • Chris Crawford

    I was actually talking more about intellectual ease than being easy from a personal standpoint. Much simpler to reject what you’ve been taught as a whole than to delve deeper into the faith and see it in a different way.

    I do understand the process. In fact, I wrote a novel about it – look for “The Tuning Station” by myself on Amazon. While it’s fiction and made-up, it’s also autobiographical (in a way) of my own personal journey.

    You’re right in that some Christian friends see me like you seem to; as an atheist-in-waiting, trying to suck up the courage to admit I no longer believe. Yes, I know it’s hurtful. But after constantly putting my faith on test by making myself read every challenge I could, I can honestly say my current stance is who I really am.

  • JustThink

    As an atheist, I don’t believe that is the only reason any Christian would want to build bridges with people that hold different beliefs. I’m sure there are plenty that just want to get along with the rest of the people of the world.

  • Sastra

    I’m not sure what you’re arguing here. If we think other people are wrong and ought to change what they believe, then obviously belief matters.

  • Fish Man

    Believe me, it is their long term goal to convert you to Christianity. That is what their entire religion is about … WITNESSING, CONVERTING and SAVING from hell … through JESUS CHRIST.

    You’re a fool to believe otherwise.

  • Elliot George

    But it’s MUTUAL – they disbelieve our beliefs so, objectively, beliefs are valueless…

    Beliefs are merely personally chosen attitudes towards propositions.

  • Bones

    Yeah…..prove that Mohammad didn’t split the moon in two or flew to heaven on a winged horse.

  • Chris Crawford

    You know that feeling when creationists ask questions about evolution that reveal how little they actually understand it? I’m feeling the same way toward many of the questions being asked on this page.

  • Jayden Hunter

    Very interesting. I would read it but I’m on a publishing schedule myself so I just don’t have time to add anything, if I read it has to be inside my own sub-genre.

    Of course rejection is simpler, most things (in this topic) are false. You’ve rejected most religions and 99.999% of all gods yourself.

    You haven’t (I’m sure) taken the time to deeply investigate Mormonism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, nor moved to Pennsylvania and lived with the Amish.

    There is not enough time.

    This is why atheist continue to say the burden of proof is on the believer. Bring us really compelling evidence and we’ll consider it (or even believe it) but if not, we don’t have the time and inclination to investigate every faith claim anymore than you do.

    If you follow the same path you did to get where you are, you’ll become a deist at the very minimum because the evidence demands that all claims of specific things about ancient gods be taken as spurious at best.

    This is why, I’m sure, you’ve become progressive: You’ve realized that talking snakes, a 6000 year old earth are not really things that actually happened.

    Next is the virgin birth, the resurrection, and turning water to wine…

    Once you go down this road your belief is in a non-descript non-specific God (why your Christian friends don’t accept you as a “true believer”).

    I think, personally, that you’ll be happier if you just accept that nothing about a God or god, if there is one, is known by anyone, and that lands you in the deist position.

    Sure, love your neighbor. Love humanity. Be a good person. Give to the poor. Etc.

    But you don’t have to believe that a Jewish carpenter rose as a corpse and floated into Heaven to do all these good works.

    Anyway, check out Robert Price, he is very compassionate and kind, he used to be a pastor, and he has very compelling reasons why the Jesus story fits a “myth” model.

  • Dana Zikas

    Yes. This.

  • Ectricark

    I mean, yeah, it’s a big reason for us, but it also means that we get to operate as functioning members of society with things like friends, and coworkers, and jobs, and New Year’s Eve parties. Sometimes I really just want to have someone to play games and talk about things with.

    As far as conversion goes… if you learned some bit of truth–even scientific truth, setting religion aside for the moment–that you think is worth noting, wouldn’t you, you know… note it? Tell people about it? My impetus for evangelism is more like “this is the cornerstone of my life and makes it way better, why wouldn’t I let you in on that?”

  • Jayden Hunter

    Yeah, it’s still comes down to: “Love me or burn.”

    I have about one Christian friend these days. We are friends only because she approached me about atheism and I believe she’s a genuine seeker of truth, perhaps someday she’ll shift out of Christianity (even becoming a progressive one would be a positive shift).

    All that said, I’ve told her numerous times, even if she or others could convince me that Jesus actually existed and actually rose from the dead and actually offers me eternal life if I believe, I’d still reject Christianity and Christ.

    I do not bow to threats.

    If the Bible is true, than to me, the hero is Satan. He rebelled against totalitarianism and I find that far more compelling than bowing at the knee and kissing butt to avoid hellfire.

    If hell exists, fine. I’ll be among friends, and you simply won’t catch me celebrating with Jesus while most of humanity suffers in hell, a doctrine that is disgusting, and probably another reason many Christians shift to the progressive camp.

    It’s all nonsense is the easier path, but if someone wants to insist the Christian Heaven is a real place, okay, go there and drink wine while I burn forever…

    To me, that makes you the devil.

  • Jayden Hunter

    I agree. I also think the Muslims that are strict have a better position which to claim their faith is real. I think they are foolish (and they are often very evil) but at least they are not weak and double-minded.

    If I was going to be a Christian I think I’d have to become one of those Mennonite ones, maybe an Amish one, and live a simple, quiet life.

    You certainly can’t vote and fund war and claim you’re invested in this Jesus fellow.

    To me: If you’re not out looking for witches to burn, you’re weak sauce.

    And if you acknowledge witches aren’t’ real, well, go the rest of the way and reject Judaism: which means, by default rejecting Christianity.

    And then welcome to the party. We’ve been waiting for you.

  • Ectricark

    We point to the Bible, just in different ways. There are multiple ways to interpret any given experimental data set. I might consider the Bible to be infallible, but my reading thereof is not. For instance, one interpretation of Paul’s admonition against women speaking in church is that it was a universal statement, applicable to all time periods. Another interpretation is that there were a bunch of very wealthy Roman women at the time who expected positions of power within the Church because of their social class.

    This, granted, is my particular brand of progressivism, which is a little closer to the vest than some other types. Again, multiple ways to interpret the text.

  • JustThink

    My beliefs are based on evidence. I don’t have evidence that all Christians seek to convert me. Many of the Christians here are stating that your opinion does not describe them despite that they use the same Christian label as the ones it does describe. Sometimes, you should just take someone at their word UNTIL their actions prove otherwise.

  • Ectricark

    Any view of the world that anyone has is technically a belief system. Even secular philosophers got us there with Kant. The most scientific, rigorously tested, experimentally repeatable phenomenon still relies on the belief that your senses are operating as you think they do, that you understand as well as you hope you do.

    Atheism is a belief system insofar as it is a belief in a world without God.

  • Dana Zikas

    Yes thats right! I tire of this much bandied-about comparison. These Maos, and Pots, And Stalins didnt do the things they did in the “name of atheism”, they did these things because of a twisted view of how they would bring about some utopia. In this, these regimes actually much more closely parallel the activities and behaviors of religions, than the modern, progressive, secular states we see today—Norway, Denmark, Germany, Iceland, et al.

  • JustThink

    I hope you’re not taking my curiosity as an insult. I admit that I don’t understand progressive Christianity, so I am merely seeking to understand where the beliefs come from.

  • ollie

    Thank you, JustThink. It always works to goad someone into defending their religious beliefs of evolution. At least most Evolutionist believe that I believe the way I do about evolution because I believe in a god. But in truth I could not buy the Theory of Evolution at least 14 years before I seriously considered that there might be a god worthy of believing in. The problem with evolution isn’t that there isn’t enough evidence to believe in it but that there are enough holes in it that someone looking for the truth must seriously question if or not it is correct.

    Therefore I find no choice but to label Evolutionists as a religion. At least I am willing to admit that my belief system is based on faith!

  • jkarov

    Some (thoughtful) athiests aren’t (quote) “rejecting the whole thing”.

    We get that 90% of the world’s population believe in unseen deities and religions.

    We acknowledge that in the course of history, humans are prone to belief in gods and religious belief.

    We even go so far as to acknowledge that it’s *possible* for there to be a spiritual realm, or mysteries beyond what science can prove.

    We are surrounded by humans who believe in these systems and entities and religions, without material proof, or evidence, which to us is a non starter.

    The stickiest wicket is where religion holds sway over government, law, and human society, as it does in America, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and many other countries

  • Dana Zikas

    Throughout the history of the church, most any good that was done, was done not BECAUSE of the church, but, IN SPITE of the church.
    The same still holds today…Christians, doing good work, do so, not because of what the bible says (though it MAY contain some passages that enjoin some to acts of kindness and charity), but because of more basic human needs—eg., reciprocity, emapathy, compassion, and community

  • ollie

    By pointing out that I don’t understand evolutionary biology. Most likely means that you refuse to look at the holes in your beloved theology.

    You like the person that believes in a god must take far too much by faith. And so by faith alone, you give the Theory of Evolution the weight of being an undeniable fact.

    That is not science but religion!

  • Fish Man

    If these so called “Christians” are not seeking to convert you … then they are not Christians at all. They are a watered down version of some other religion and need to come up with a different label to describe themselves.

    Here’s some “evidence” for you (of course there’s more in their holy book):
    John 3:16
    (you’ve seen the signs at football games) sums up Christianity best:

    “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only
    begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have eternal life.”

    You don’t do this? You are not a Christian.

  • Explorer

    And it looks like Vicky_L_Hale deleted her comments rather than either support them *or* to admit she couldn’t.

    This is just a microcosm of what often transpires in these conversations, and is (in my opinion) one of the reasons religionists hate conversations with sincere nonreligionists: unfounded assertions get examined instead of getting a pass.

    I’m going to admit, I do find it interesting that conservatives on several internet forums often erase their comments if the conversation doesn’t go their way, as Vicky_L_Hale did here. You can see her now-missing side of the conversation reflected in what remains, but that wish to erase inconvenient parts of reality is strong in certain mindsets.

    Thanks for the lesson, Vicky_L_Hale!

  • Elliot George

    I believe coffee is nicer without sugar.

    Is that a ‘belief system’?

  • ollie

    Have value? When was the last time you witnessed a new species come in to being?

    Why a belief system? Refer to value question.

  • Maltnothops

    Do progressive Christians (generally speaking — I’m sure there isn’t complete agreement) think the Bible passages that describe the Resurrection are factually true? I’m not talking about every last detail. Just the general notion of Jesus revivifying after being genuinely dead for at least some hours.

    If so, I don’t see much value in their taking refuge in the claim that they don’t regard all the Bible as factually true. Yes, the talking donkey story is silly. So is the resurrection story.

    But if progressive Christians don’t think the resurrection story need be true, then I’d like to see them “witness” their faith to their more insistent fellow Christians.

  • ollie

    What we all have to remember is that truth is absolute. While reality is relative. The issue is that none of us know what the truth is. And therefore everyone of us are stumbling around in our own reality that may or may not have much truth in it.

  • Fish Man

    If you live in America, which is over 70% Christian, why are you worried about operating as “functioning members” of society? YOU ARE SOCIETY. You Christians dominate are society.

    More than likely you are scared.
    That 70% figure used to be a lot higher when you Christians were BURNING PEOPLE alive for not agreeing with you.

    You are scared of being the minority.
    And this amuses me and encourages me at the same time.

    I don’t need your one on one contact / playing games at your church etc.

    I’m okay with open forums like this and let people decide for themselves. After all … that is what the internet is all about. And quite frankly this type of forum has de-converted many Christians such as yourself.

    Atheism is on the rise.
    “Thank God!”

  • Ian Ferguson

    Liberal Christian or not, you still believe in something like the tooth fairy that has NO BASIS IN FACT and in fact no evidence whatsoever so it is hard for me to understand how I should tolerate people with those types of beliefs who vote and often push their views on the rest of us – more politely, tolerating this irrationality is dangerous, no?

  • JustThink

    I won’t disagree that using the same broad Christian label to describe vastly different belief systems is confusing, but it’s the label they chose to use, so whaddya gonna do?

  • ollie

    All good points.

    Please understand though that these of us that are Christian and seeking the highest truths are also thrown under the bus. So we feel we are getting it from both sides. It is hard for us (hey we’re human too) to stick up for your side when we feel your right when you throw us all under the bus. And on the Christian side they throw us under the bus because we are not ridgid enough. We find no freinds on either side.

  • Fish Man

    Whaddya gonna do?
    Do exactly what I just did to you and help them see “the light.”

    That they aren’t really true Christians according to the book they clutch to their bosoms every Sunday morning.
    Plant some seeds in their heads and water it every once in awhile.

    One day, just maybe, it will sprout.

  • I think part of the problem is you are conceiving it in terms of ‘teams’, in a certain essential respect. I don’t want a person who doesn’t believe what I believe to back up my beliefs; that’s emphatically my job. What I want is for people, generally, to support the maintenance of structures and ideas (like SOCAS, pluralism, religious freedom, and the free marketplace of ideas) that make it possible for all of us to possess our beliefs and live them into our lives without the anxiety of having to defend against physical violence, denigration, or oppression simply because of an identity or a particular one of those beliefs.

    Disagreeing, even vehemently, with the content of an idea, or criticizing its entailments, is not throwing anyone under any bus. It’s part and parcel of pluralism, of engaging in the free marketplace of ideas. Atheists aren’t, by the large majority, angered or irritated that you or any other Christian believe what you believe metaphysically (rather, mostly just perplexed), but much more that it seems sometimes holding the same beliefs as less savory sorts gets in the way of you properly reacting to them playing out in the world. If two groups hold in high esteem a text like the Bible and one of those groups uses that text to, say, justify abusing gay people, or locking women out of participating fully in the social contract, the other group cannot stand idly by and ignore the effects of the text they love on those groups, or whistle and rush past the evidence of the atrocious behavior it underwrites.

  • JacobBe5

    This is a video you might be interested in that somewhat speaks to this point.

    It was made to address the vitriol coming from some believers when you reject their claims of a god but there is perhaps something in there that answers your question.

    The theist reads their doctrine, and unless a fundamentalist, go about some mental calculus deciding what is true, what is false, and is allegory, what is literal. In short, their religion and god is exactly what they decide it should be. Their religious doctrines are exactly what they think they should be.

    Of course there is more nuance to the particulars when we deal with the fact that religion is also a social exercise, and just as happens in government people often make compromises. So an individual christian might decide the entire story of Moses is just a myth, with very little historical value. But other believers in their religion might say it is very historical. But what happens as these difference build, as the decisions of what their god actually is diverge further and further? We should expect either some irreconcilable conflict to arise, or the conflict should be resolved.

    Now presuming we are dealing with rational actors if they are dealing with a thing that is not subjective, but something which is solidly grounded in fact these schisms should be rare. We may never know if left or right Twix is better, but certainly we can conclude if the Earth is more like a sphere or a pancake. But religion doesn’t have that happen, instead it is schism after schism after schism. And not just on the details, but some of the fundamental questions of their religion. Predestination, was Jesus born to die, resurrections, even the number of gods. The various religions simply do not agree on this.

  • You are talking from the authority of hysteria, and therefore illuminating the points made Dr. Corey.

    If a Christian declared that all atheists were like that, or even worse, insisted that they had to be like that to qualify as atheists, would they be correct?

  • No, ollie. Not true. This is pretty much why people who are familiar with how science works are exasperated by some of the ideas that still have currency even among liberal Christians.

    Science is not a belief structure in the same way that religion is, not even thinly or analogously. That notion is a depressing encroachment of a basic ignorance of what science is and how it progresses, and is (a somewhat embarrassing) swallowing of intentional misdirection from some of your more malignant brothers-and-sisters-in-faith. When you repeat an assertion like “Evolution requires faith!” or “Your science is a theology!” you innocently do the hard work of very evil people.

    When people push back against thoughtlessly repeated lies, that’s not throwing anyone under a bus or denigrating their humanity. It is pushing back against extremely dangerous errors.

  • “Try before you buy” is not a form of “try”?

    Okay, then.

    Gedankenexperiment is literally analogous to test-driving an idea. If you want to insist that it isn’t, be my guest, but don’t expect that criticism to be taken very seriously.

  • Your absolute declaration of “NO BASIS IN FACT”, is also irrational.

    Attitude and poetic interpretation is not measurable. An attitude or interpretation is itself FACT.

    Is it dangerous to tolerate it?

  • JustThink

    Haven’t watched the video yet, but thanks for the link.

  • JustThink

    Your religious beliefs ARE based on faith. The basics of evolution are considered to be fact among the scientific community, despite the term “theory” of which many people confuse the scientific meaning. Scientists are still working to fill whatever holes exist. You don’t need to go back millions of years to see evidence of evolution. Antibiotic-resistant bacteria result when antibiotics kill all of a species of bacteria except those with a genetic mutation that helps them survive and reproduce. The mutation is passed on. So the end result is a bacteria that has evolved and requires a different antibiotic.

  • You’re right– it wasn’t listed there and I had assumed it was. I apologize.

  • Ian Ferguson

    As a famous politician once said “You are entitled to your own opinions but not your own facts” – the tolerance issue is with the claim to facts (existence of a creator) and claims to the truth of the bible – and trying to force other people to live by your opinions. Poetry is a fact and we can all have an opinion or attitude towards it but we don’t try to force other people to live by our interpretation/feeling/opinion about it – believe what you want but keep it out of law, politics, etc. and don’t expect me to respect people who believe ‘facts’ not in evidence.

  • I did in fact reread it, and considered editing my comment on account of my misunderstanding, but held off. Mostly because this criticism can be equally leveled at Joe Fogey; he redefined the parameters so that he could say “this never happens” by redefining all of the instances where it does happen as something different.

  • Herm

    No, quite the opposite. If you do not know something, sense it might be handy, it works better to approach from the other direction. Try and convince yourself that my God doesn’t exist. You would not be fair to your quest if you used other (what it must seem when you don’t know for sure) hypothetical projections anymore than what I claim is a real one on One relationship with God.

    I know, I have the advantage because I’m saying this is They whom I relate in while most of those who disagree hedge a little, just in case, by saying they can’t prove by all conventional methods available to them that God does or doesn’t exist. Most convicted atheists are upset, and rightfully so, from the results of those of religion without relationship.

    The most important picture I am trying to develop here is that if God exists, cares and can communicate They are more developed than any mortal on this earth. They would not then expect you to know how to prove Themselves to you without Their assistance at your level of development in awareness (physically, mentally and spiritually), reasoning, experimentation and honesty with yourself. This is not a quest for knowledge for the sake of increased security in knowledge. This is a self serving quest to understand truth in relationship that has been denied you by mankind’s fragmentation through evolving competitive traditions founded on faithful allegiance to peer group, family, nation and species. If you cannot divorce yourself from the pressures derived from survival of the family (carnal birth/adopted, racial, national, and religious) with an at all cost we survive mentality you cannot know God.

    God (sorry I have to speak as though this is true because it is to me) is big enough to be concerned for the well being of the whole. God is not exclusionary to any of the group pressures I mentioned above but only by attitude for the whole. God is inclusive of all who care to care for the whole for all time. I am very happy and secure to just be a comparative fetus on the womb of earth protected, provided for, growing and learning directly inside the family of God as Their child. I am not poorly waxing poetic but making every childish effort to paint the picture I know to be true which hurts deeply when I see it distorted by blind self absorbed causes from all sides.

    I am amazed to read here, thanks to Ben’s daring to broach the subject, how many “atheists” agree to care for the whole. That’s the only prerequisite for beginning to learn of the whole physically, socially and spiritually.

    Make the effort to convince yourself beyond a shadow of a doubt that God is not real. Challenge Them to Their face without any other influences to prove to you They are real. If you honestly sensitize yourself for an indisputable answer that meets with total silence for your next human year of awareness then you have no need to debate or argue either way for you know. Then you just simply have to tell others to leave you alone; not that they are wrong and you are right.

    You care enough to be here then how much more would it be to say, “if You really exist show me”, and then be attentive and receptive to any or no answer?

  • When this mindset leads to statements like “Science is faith!” and “Evolution is opinion!”, it is unbelievably destructive. Sometimes, we can know certain truths, because we’ve tested rigorously for them and gathered mountains of evidence. When those ideas underlay the ways in which suffering is reduced–for example, evolutionary theory has direct application in, for example, the antibiotic arms race against illness-causing bacteria, which prior to antibiotics killed billions in grotesque ways and will do so again if we choose stick our heads in the sand–to reduce them to opinion for personal psychological comfort is disastrous and harmful and not due any respect from anyone.

  • rascal barquecat

    My list for Christians:
    1.) Stop whining and telling other people they need to cater to your feelings and live their lives the way you want. As long as they are not hurting or harming others, live your life your way and let them live theirs.
    Enjoying all the benefits of sharing the same umbrella with those who want to make laws to dictate how other people can live and who they can love but trying to dodge complicity by complaining that “but we’re not all like that, stop saying mean things to us” isn’t helpful. Don’t whine about atheists saying things that hurt your feelings, organize and restrain fellow Christians who are actively doing things that harm fellow humans.
    IOW, remove the beam from your own eye before complaining about anyone else’s mote.

  • Herm

    We’re all on the only life boat available for as far as we can see.

  • Herm

    The origin of that state was not defined.

  • sTv0

    Yes, it is. It’s basic chemistry and physics. All of the elements are products of dying stars. We got this. No god(s) necessary. The rest is just elements following the laws of physics…which are universal.

  • Olé!

  • JD

    “Please understand though that these of us that are Christian and seeking the highest truths are also thrown under the bus. “

    I get what you’re saying.

    But you have to remember; your belief system is based upon a book that throws humanity under the bus by labeling anyone not believing in said book only worthy of hell/death/damnation/wrath of god/etc for simply not believing in said book.

  • Terry Firma

    Please be careful when you relay what “we atheists” think. It’s unwise to assume that you speak for me, for instance.

    Re: Dawkins, you’re talking about the same guy who went to a U.S. megachurch and then, on-camera, told the pastor that the whole thing reminded him of a Nuremberg rally, and that “Dr. Goebbels would have been proud.”

    Granted, that happened to be the same pastor (the contemptible Ted Haggard) who a few years later got caught with blow and male hookers. But be that as it may — for me, Dawkins’ unprovoked comment wasn’t just extremely hostile, but way over the line.

    Whatever your take, the “gentile middle” it wasn’t.

  • JD

    Ben: “So if someone claims that God did something, it automatically has to be true?”

    The passage does indeed say god struck the baby and thus caused it to later die.

    Are you saying god did NOT strike the baby and kill it? If not then is the passage only a myth?

    At what point does one as a Christian decide which is myth and which is reality?

    For on this side of the street it seems you just said that god did NOT strike the child for that is only mythology. Which leads to the obvious next question: Just how much of the bilbe is mythology?

    God’s making virgins give birth to their sons? Global floods? Talking snakes and burning bushes? Folks rising from the dead? Hell? Heaven? Messiahs?

    What are you using as a litmus test?

    Cannot you see from this side of the street how convoluted the thinking is here?

  • Andrew

    If you don’t want atheists reading every Bible verse literally, perhaps it would be nice for Christians to provide a list of which verses are literal and which ones are metaphorical. Presumably Jesus’s resurrection is literal, but the accompanying part where all the dead bodies got up and walked back into Jerusalem, is that literal too or metaphorical?

    As for calling your beliefs fairy tales, that phrase may be uncouth and a conversation stopper, but to anyone who doesn’t share your beliefs they are indistinguishable from any of the thousands of other mythologies humans have invented. Unless you provide us with some reason why they are different from those other mythologies (for example some compelling evidence that they are true), why shouldn’t we treat them as such?

  • Realist1234

    yea right. You clearly know nothing of history.

  • Herm

    Thank you for that. In reading your reply I think I realized our problem here. Let me brainstorm it here for your consideration.

    I am constructively my brothers keeper only when my allegiance, spoken or not, is to my brother. I’ve been in combat to know that my brother was the one next to me who I was truly in allegiance to, not my nation and not any of my blood family back home.

    Why is it we choose to fragment as fully responsible adults into little bodies of allegiance founded on simple common understanding of evolving traditions (birth/adopted family, religion, nation, hood, race, culture, education, material worth) rather than striving to be in total allegiance to our whole species? It seems obvious that without the support of all of our species our species is weaker than with. It seems obvious that a fragment of the whole most likely won’t survive without the support of the whole. The species mankind has within the realm of our individual reasoning a chance at surviving nearly to forever when every individual has already reasoned they will not.

    I respect and need your perspective of belief for as long as I know you care for the whole to survive. All of us to survive with an ever increasing quality of life, that eventually all can realize the most of their potential to share with all. That is the only foundation all my allegiance is inspired for as long as I live to influence and be influenced on this planet.

    This is found in the Bible but was around to be shared much before the life of Christ: “In everything do to others as we would have others do to us”. This seems so simple until we realize that the “we” is all of us and all of us are the “others”. Without real and honest empathy, compassion, and forgiveness for all others equally as we would have for ourselves our species is doomed to a slow death of fragmented “allegiances to the death”; long before the earth returns to the nearest passing black hole.

  • I am an atheist, and here is my answer: OK, to each of your requests except one.

    I don’t say or insinuate that Christians are all uneducated, I don’t tell Christians how to read “their bible” (or “my bible”, I suppose – I have a few about the house), and I don’t preach that religion has never done “any” good for society. After all religion is such a complex part of the social framework of world history, it would be like saying “monarchy hasn’t done any good for humanity”; there are all sorts of ways to view it.

    However, I reserve the right to refer to your belief system as a fairy tale, a mythology, an ancient fantasy, or any other descriptor that I find apt. People deserve respect; their ideologies do not. Religious ideologies deserve no more privilege in the marketplace of ideas than political, philosophical, economic or any other type of ideology.

  • Realist1234

    Of course you have the freedom not to listen. But you seem to be saying that Christians should not evangelise. Thats quite different. If you have rejected Jesus and do not want to hear about Him anymore, thats fine. Though why you are reading a Christian blog i dont know.

  • Herm

    From where did those dying stars originate?

  • Realist1234

    an image of God by definition is not invisible.

  • Dear Rascal;
    Here is my list for atheists:
    1.) Stop whining and telling other people they need to cater to your feelings and live their lives the way you want.
    As long as they are not hurting or harming others, live your life your way and let them live theirs. 
    Enjoying all the benefits of sharing the same umbrella with those who want to make laws to dictate how other people can live and who they can love but trying to dodge complicity by complaining that “but we atheists are not all like that. stop saying mean things to us.”
    Don’t whine about Christians saying things that hurt your feelings, organize and restrain fellow atheists who are actively doing things that harm fellow humans.
    IOW, remove the beam from your own eye before complaining about anyone else’s mote.

  • Realist1234

    perhaps but their atheistic mindset can lead to it, because for them, there is no ultimate accountability.

  • I respect your humble opinion sir!!

  • rascal barquecat

    Aww, that’s adorable. It doesn’t actually work in reverse, but it’s almost flattering that you assume it would.

  • EricBubu

    “You are entitled to your own opinions but not your own facts”

    Oh, I love that one !

  • EricBubu

    When you have thousands and more of people voting or demonstrating to deny basic civil rights to a number of co-citizens, it’s not “poetic interpretation” anymore.

  • Doctor Corey, a response from an atheist to your demands of us.

    (I concede this is rather long as a ‘comment’ and so will also add it to my own blog – wwww.rejectingjesus.com – where it might be easier to read.)

    S%#t 1: Please stop saying or insinuating that we’re a bunch of uneducated or unenlightened idiots.

    Do atheists say or insinuate this? I’m not sure they do. I would suggest atheists find it difficult to understand why people of evident intelligence choose to believe propositions for which little or no evidence exists, that are rooted in myth and which, in reality, fail to deliver on their promise. It’s not that believers are necessarily unintelligent or idiots – clearly many are not – it’s that they are prepared to disengage their intelligence, critical faculties and rationality in
    order to believe all manner of spurious nonsense.

    S%#t 2: Please stop insisting that we read our Bible like right-wing fundamentalists.

    I’m surprised you offer this as something you wish atheists would stop ‘insisting’. First of course, atheists don’t insist that anyone read the Bible the same way
    as anyone else. We would prefer it if no-one read it at all. It is well past its sell-by date and has nothing to offer people living nearly two thousand years after its creation; it is after all a testimony to the failure of the beliefs that spawned it (the Son of Man ascending to the Earth to establish the Kingdom of God here).

    Second, implicit in this demand is that there is an intelligent way to read the Bible and there’s the ‘ring-wing fundamentalist’ way. In fact, you don’t even
    insinuate that certain Christians are ‘ignorant’ and ‘unenlightened’ because of how they read the Bible, you say so explicitly when you talk, ungrammatically, about the ‘unenlightened, ignorant nonsense that fundamentalists do with the Bible.’

    But at least fundamentalists regard the Bible as the Word of God (agreed they cherry-pick it and don’t behave according to it precepts) and claim it is ineffable and infallible. Perhaps, as you suggest, more enlightened Christians are free to interpret it in more liberal ways, dismissing that which is context-bound and so on. But then, where does that leave it? Is it authoritative or not? Does it speak directly to people or can it only ‘really’ be understood through the exegesis of scholars? If the latter, as you imply, then can it only be read and understood by those with above average intelligence? How does this square with Jesus’ insistence that his Kingdom was for those with child-like trust?

    S%#t 3: Please stop referring to our belief system(s) as fairy tales.

    Difficult this one. It depends whether myth and fairy tale are synonymous. Having taught English literature for many years at a university in the UK, I would argue they’re not. To the layman, however, they probably are in that both involve fantasy beings, implausible events, symbolic characters, sacrifice and enlightenment – just like religion really. So no, there is definitely a case here, Dr Corey, that if the cap fits… if your ‘belief-system’ walks, talks and smells like a myth (or fairy tale) then it probably is. You are stuck with atheists pointing
    this out to you, I’m afraid.

    (By the way, your examples of Mickey Mouse and the Old Woman in the Shoe are not fairy tales. One is a commercial enterprise involving anthropomorphised
    animals and the other a nursery rhyme. I suggest you consult scholars who can explain to you what a fairy tale is, and the differences and similarities between it and myth.)

    S%#t 4: Maybe lay off the whole, “religion hasn’t done any good for humanity” type of argument, because it’s obnoxiously untrue.

    Reference for this quotation or did you just make it up? Sam Harris perhaps comes closest to saying this sort of thing – comes close but doesn’t actually say it. He says on balance that the good religion has done is outweighed by the evil perpetrated in its name. He doesn’t, though, say no good has come from religion. Sorry, Benjamin, but this is a straw man ‘argument’ you’re presenting here and is itself ‘obnoxiously untrue’.

    Would we be better off without religion? Without the myth, the deadening of critical faculties and the adversarial nature of ideologies (even within Christianity)? Of course we would. Without precepts like ‘love your neighbor, love your enemies’? No, but then these are not exclusively religious. Far too many believers disregard them anyway.

  • sTv0

    Krauss makes it quite clear: “If we live in a universe full of stuff, how did it get here? And many people think that very question implies the need for a creator. But what’s truly been amazing, and what the book’s about is the revolutionary developments in both cosmology and particle physics over the past 30 or 40 years that have not only changed completely the way we think about the universe but made it clear that there’s a plausible case for understanding precisely how a universe full of stuff, like the universe we live in, could result literally from nothing by natural processes.”

    Emphasis on “revolutionary developments…over the past 30 or 40 years…” It’s incumbent upon us to keep up. And meanwhile, religion’s story hasn’t changed in millennia. Kinda boring and dogmatic, eh?

    “And we don’t yet know the true origin of life, but we think we’ll understand it by chemistry, and what we’re discovering is that in fact physics has suggested that maybe the same is true for the whole universe, that we don’t need a creator.”


  • EricBubu

    “I’d like to see them “witness” their faith to their more insistent fellow Christians.”
    But somehow it’s much easier to pick on atheists, rather to challenge the beliefs and “truths” of their co-believers…

  • What is the evidence that it doesn’t work? I demand proof!!

  • rascal barquecat

    Refer to your own comment to margaretpoa.

  • Do you have evidence for this that you can prove? As I see it your opinions are just your opinions and really have more to do with your prejudice and pretensions and are not universally accepted. You yourself are trying to do some converting and witnessing here sir in my humble opinion!!

  • With respect what comment specifically?

  • >it is hard for me to understand how I should tolerate people with those types of beliefs…

    Now you know how it feels.

  • Thank you much for your reply.

    To address your, I think, central question:

    Why is it we choose to fragment as fully responsible adults into little bodies of allegiance founded on simple common understanding of evolving traditions (birth/adopted family, religion, nation, hood, race, culture, education, material worth) rather than striving to be in total allegiance to our whole species?

    Because I think every available piece of evidence indicates that the general human capacity for empathy is not infinite. We have our hardware (a perfectly amazing brain-and-nervous-system), and it has operating limits. We can’t love all the time, we can’t hate all the time, we can’t keep up with all the divergent demands of different people from different positions demanding different concessions and considerations. Humans are tribal creatures because that’s how we evolved: From tribal apes. Each person has a limit to the number of stable, three dimensional relationships we can maintain with other human beings; beyond that, abstraction becomes necessary.

    We can try to transcend the consequences of those limitations, but those attempts, in order to have any hope of succeeding, must be heedful of the hardware constraints we labor under. We only have our brain, it is only so big, and it is capable of addressing only so many social demands. It’s why I call myself an Institutionalist, because of all the tricks that we humans have figured out to deny our instincts and predilections for the time being or delay their gratification in favor of a greater, more difficult end (like, caring for the humanity of people we will never meet and thus never know), institutions are the most effective and most precious.

    But they are fragile and unwieldy precisely because they are an attempt to bootstrap our way around a fundamental biological limitation. To grow morally beyond our brains requires something larger than one brain; ways to coordinate minds to work together for a goal that would frustrate any one. This also has an ironic side-effect, though: Institutions can just as easily reinforce the divisions by formalizing them, by introducing concepts of membership and jurisdiction. We transcend the tribe by busily making artificial tribes.

  • …the tolerance issue is with the claim to facts (existence of a creator)…

    Relating to the experience of existence in terms of “creation” and “creator”, is an “attitude. The attitude is its own fact.

    Similarly, the attitude behind other ideas, but NOT THAT (for God’s sake!), is its own fact.

    Existence is a fact that does not exclude anything.

    We choose to break it up into pieces to suit our disparate tastes.

    …and claims to the truth of the bible.. …

    Which version, which interpretation? The spectrum is from literal to metaphoric. Mixed and matched.

    Like your generalizations or my equanimity.

    Different waveform. Different patterns.

    … and trying to force other people to live by your opinions.

    From my vantage point it would be nice if you were more specific about the demographics. But I’m not saying you have to be.

    (It will save time and bandwidth if you don’t assume that I identify as Christian. Also, my knowledge of the Bible is acquired mostly by cultural osmosis.)

  • EricBubu

    “we are idiots because we don’t agree with the atheists!”

    Oh, not at all ! You’re idiots because you never seem to question the utter stupidity of the beliefs and fantasms you claim to be “facts” and “Truth”, and based on which you pretend to control how others ought to live their own lives…

    It has nothing to do with just “disagreement”.

  • OccupyReality

    But an image of an invisible ‘god’ would be invisible or it wouldn’t be an image of an invisible ‘god’.

    Let Father Guido Sarducci explain it to you:


  • When you have thousands and more of people voting or demonstrating to deny basic civil rights to a number of co-citizens, it’s not ‘poetic interpretation’ anymore.

    Tragedy yes?

  • OccupyReality

    Thought experiments are easily divorced from reality and provide fodder only for the games of philosophers.

    How do you “try before you buy” on either of the specific quotes I posted. (And good job of ignoring them BTW in favor of your semantic games.)

    I can’t take you seriously either, guy.

  • sodomite

    Great. I’m a Christian.
    Here’s the thing: I don’t have an issue with you. Some of my best friends are atheists, and over the course of the last few years, I’ve been purposeful about building bridges with the atheist community–

    2 Corinthians 6:14, 15, 17 Don’t team up with those who are unbelievers. How can righteousness be a partner with wickedness? How can light live with darkness? What harmony can there be between Christ and the devil? How can a believer be a partner with an unbeliever? Therefore, come out from among unbelievers, and separate yourselves from them, says the LORD. Don’t touch their filthy things,and I will welcome you.

    There’s a lot we actually have in common when you move past the question of the existence of a divine being.

    Black people and white people actually have a lot in common when you move past the question of the existence of racial superiority according to the KKK.

    Please stop saying or insinuating that we’re a bunch of uneducated or unenlightened idiots.

    If you believe that you are going to live forever because you believe the miracle working son of a virgin molesting war god invented by primitive middle eastern desert nomads actually exists…

    Please stop insisting that we read our Bible like right-wing fundamentalists.

    Please explain why your “reading” of the bible is any more valid than that of “right-wing fundamentalists”.

    Please stop referring to our belief system(s) as fairy tales.

    When you produce evidence for your cosmic version of Santa Claus, I’ll stop referring to your beliefs as fairy tales.

    Maybe lay off the whole, “religion hasn’t done any good for humanity” type of argument, because it’s obnoxiously untrue.

    Nazis did some good for humanity too.

  • River Walker

    Help the all-powerful atheists – persecuted in several countries, ranked as among the least trusted here in the States – are being mean to the Poor Christians!

    This would be more effective if the Christians were not among the most powerful interest groups in the country.

    If only your holidays weren’t federally recognized!

    If only your theology wasn’t used to take away the rights of women, gays and non-Chrisitans!

    If only your god wasn’t referenced on the currency! If only your holy book wasn’t used to seal oaths of office and used as a oath of honesty and integrity (I’ll swear on a stack of bibles)!

    If only your religious ceremonies weren’t accepted and expected at secular events – nativity scenes on public property, xmas plays at school, praying before games and commencement ceremonies, etc.

    If only horrible people weren’t excused for their behavior because they are Christian.

    If only atheists were treated with half the respect that Christians expect as their due and fuss about if it’s at all absent, if only Chrisitans got off their high horse and got over themselves, then I might be more sympathetic that someone called your book fairy tales. I might even be sympathetic that someone doesn’t care that dozens of orgnizations do ‘good things’ in the name of converting people to their religion.

    Maybe but I doubt it. I’m an atheist living in a very religious part of the country and I have zero illusions about what Christians are like when it comes to their religion. They might be perfectly nice people the majoirty of the time, but add religion to the picture and all good intentions, acceptance and tolerance goes out the window.

    So, no, I won’t stop doing or saying any of the above because Christians aren’t above reproach and neither is their religion.

  • Oh no! You mean to tell me that some ways of trying have different strengths and weaknesses than others?

    Mind. Blown.

    It’s not a semantic game, it’s a desperate (and apparently, futile) attempt to get you to broaden your gaze.

    And I already addressed your examples. We live as social creatures. There have been people, historically and contemporaneously, who try these ideas even by living them. From their (lack of) success, I can learn whether the idea is valuable even though I have not met these people personally or know them in any significant other way. Being a social creature means that when somebody else tries, you aren’t compelled to try it too. You can sit back and watch and see what happens to them instead.

    How do we know “do not trouble yourself for tomorrow” is a generally really stupid, self-destructive idea? Only because people have tried it, and it predominantly leads to sub-optimal ends (like poverty, dissolution, anomie, and in extreme cases, death). We have a data set that strongly suggest that we should trouble ourselves for tomorrow.

    Try before you buy. Someone else took the risk of being a first-adopter, and that changes nothing about the nature of the experimentation.

  • Herm

    Being in a reciprocally beneficial relationship with another is accepted as sufficient empirical evidence to continue that relationship. To those closely outside of that relationship, if not blind, deaf and without nerve endings, the relationship can be observed, the surface results considered, but the empirical evidence is not sufficient to qualify or quantify that relationship even when acknowledged as real. To those who only hear of that relationship from another there is no empirical evidence possible because all but the hearing about it was denied substantiation from all other supporting senses.

    The good news: You would have even more true and verifiable empirical evidence of your reciprocal relationship with God than you presently have with your carnal family and your best friend. I can testify to only your reading regarding what is fact in relationship to me.

    The bad news: You cannot have your own empirical evidence to anything in life without your own relationship. In all other things that you believe there is empirical evidence you are dependent upon your sense derived from hearsay only. So many delusions (such as; Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny, riot fever, lynch mobs, partisan fervor, family traditions, religious hearsay, and many more) that unite groups of mankind to defend without empirical evidence.

    I do not have a belief in God (been there, done that, have the t-shirt) I have a relationship in and with God, in human terms described as a child of God, that is indisputably supported by empirical evidence that God (by any name smells the same) is real.

    From my perspective the delusions are of those who would seek to deny me this relationship by their belief founded only upon a mutually acknowledged ignorance of my relationship in God. They seem to believe it is their responsibility to find the omniscience by empirical evidence necessary to control the balance and survival of mankind without what they would term divine intervention and guidance. I saw the same on my elementary school yard from the infantile bullies who needed so desperately to be in control without the intervention of school authorities or adult guidance.

    We do not know what we do not know. Such is indistinguishable from delusions. Once we have a relationship with it we can distinguish it from delusion. What we can know better than any other species on earth is there is seemingly infinitely more to know than we all know today. We don’t have a really large knowledge base. In comparison our knowledge base is closer to that of the most ignorant child that was on my elementary school yard relative to those adults who know us relative to the whole of what there is to know.

  • Thanks, but as long as you respect me, you don’t have to respect my opinion!

  • I love this!!

    >You are talking from the authority of hysteria, and therefore illuminating the points made Mr. Corey.

    I’ve been noticing a phenomenon regarding the commentary of a class of atheist like Mack Mack. They seem to react in a predictable way being triggered by the word Christian. Christian, for them, isn’t just a way to identify a person’s belief it’s a way to identify loathsome enemies and scum!!. How to account for such Hysteria? The shrillness is unique and unmistakable!! indicative of a pattern or a coping mechanism perhaps? That hysteria is there to keep someone safe, to warn others, to convert others to resist a contingency in my humble opinion. What is the motivation that Lies Beneath the surface of such Behavior? I wonder What past event has inspired such a reaction? What motivates one to speak out with such hysteria in a public forum like this?

  • So are you a Christian who doesn’t believe that Jesus actually rose from the dead? Or a Christian who believes that he rose from the dead, but sees a different theological significance to the event than “penal substitution”?

  • …for example, the antibiotic arms race against illness-causing bacteria, which prior to antibiotics killed billions in grotesque ways and will do so again if we choose stick our heads in the sand…

    I’ll point out that nature has its own, ongoing and self emergent project. The autoimmune system. It involves Billions of years, the miracle of DNA, and the drama of life and death.

    The hubris of modern humans, having grabbed the reigns and bent it to their time frame, it is sometimes difficult to appreciate The Old Way.

  • Ficino

    The number of comments continues to rise even as I read and write on here!

    I am all for showing respect in comboxes and for engaging what someone has written rather than insulting. Rather than attacking something the other person did not write as though s/he did write it.

    Re this of Dr. Corey’s: “If you want to bring up issues with the Bible, have at it– but at least read a bit of scholarship on a passage before quoting it as if you
    understand exactly what it meant, what it means, and how a good Christian should apply it.”
    A large amount of unspecified work seems to be done by “should” here. As others have pointed out, it was not completely obvious before the modern era how one should read (and apply) a given biblical text. It is even less obvious after some two centuries of critical study of those texts. Evangelicals have enough problems, but progressives, as far as I can see, have even more when it comes to specifying what parts of the Bible are normative for whom about what to what extent.

    Re this of Dr. Corey’s in the same section: ” … takes into account almost nothing regarding literary genre, authorial intent …”
    How to apply genre theories that prevail at any given time is a problem for the biblical interpreter. Let’s say we classify the gospels within the ancient Greek genre of biography (bios), as various scholars do. If we think it’s OK for the gospel writers therefore to do things like Xenophon or Plutarch, then it’s OK for them to put speeches into the mouths of personages in the story, in order to get across moral or philosophical/theological points that seem important to them as writers. On this approach, we need not think that a speech of Jesus transmits words of Jesus. When the scripture scholar goes on, however, to assert that there are divinely-sanctioned norms in the speech, we have even less reason to accept that conclusion than we would if it were demonstrated that Jesus actually spoke said words. And so on. This is just one example of why some atheists like me don’t find Christianity intellectually rigorous.

    Finally, I remain amazed at how much vitriolic pro-Christian trolling occurs on Patheos.

  • Yeah, I find encomiums to “The Old Way”, such as the one you posted, are really back-door regrets for social errors (like colonialism, or slavery, or relocation, or whatever other horrors more powerful civilizations have routinely visited on their less powerful neighbors). Taken outside that context, they are flatly ridiculous. Norman Borlaug saved a billion lives by changing wheat from what the “old way” provided, by instead having the ‘hubris’ (srsly?) to fix a problem that the old way was powerless to address.

    Yeah, the immune system is really impressive. But the tenacity of bacteria is equally impressive, and when they win that competition to be most impressive, we die. But, the human mind is also impressive in that it allows us to improvise through the problems that have been handed us by posterity and ancient ways and the baseline, whatever their original provenance or intrinsic aesthetic features.

  • On the topic of not reading the “Bible like right-wing fundamentalists”, is there a way to more clearly delineate how you read scripture differently than the “fundamentalists” with whom you clearly don’t wish to be associated?

    The way you describe reading scripture in the comments below sounds like the way any historian or anthropologist might read any given ancient text from any given culture. So would you say that (unlike fundamentalists), you don’t believe in the inspiration of Judeo Christian scriptures?

    Is there anything distinctly “Christian” or “religious” in the way that you read scripture? Or do you read scripture in the same way that anyone with an interest in ancient cultures might read the Enuma Elish or the Bhagavad Gita?

  • Chris Crawford

    Nah, and I’m not targeting you in particular. I’ve just had to explain things way too many times and It’s gotten old.

  • Herm

    … my beliefs do not include such and yet I know I am a child of God (by any name). Do you refer to my relationship as a fairy tale because it is spirit and not carnal?

  • I respect all humans sir, but I don’t respect all humans opinions!!

  • Ficino

    Dr. Corey, above you said that the interpreter needs to consider authorial intent. Wouldn’t you suppose that the author of Samuel intends readers to think that God punished David by making David’s baby die? There’s not much moral point in the story if the writer thinks the baby just died by chance, is there? And if the writer DID think the baby died by chance but nevertheless wrote “The Lord struck the child that the wife of Uriah had borne to David” (II Sam. 12:15), isn’t the writer writing falsehood about God? Just what Socrates condemns in poets in the Republic.

    BTW the baby is spoken of in the text as though its importance lies in its being David’s child, not in its own personhood. But I leave this aside.

    So do we sacrifice authorial intent after all as a control over the text’s meaning? Or we make up assumptions about the author’s intent that give us the hermeneutical outcome we want? Or … ? I can hear postmodernist scripture scholars saying that meaning is not a function of authorial intent but of the believing community’s reception. But then, liberal Protestantism doesn’t have an ecclesiology to support “the community’s” assumption of such a role.

  • Neither do I!

  • Chris Crawford

    It’s not “totally disinterested”. Atheists are subject to the biases of their culture just like everybody else. If your culture considers a certain behavior to be moral, then individuals are more likely to consider it that way as well.

    Also, there are other rewards than heaven. Acceptance by peers. Desires to make the world a better place. A need to protect your loved ones. Maybe even a selfish need to feel like you’re one of the intellectual or moral elite, above “those people who hold some other value.”

    The only superior moral is self-sacrificial in nature. Will you give your life to save or help others? Will you donate your time? Will you put yourself in harm’s way for others that you don’t even know? For instance, doctors who go into poor countries to aid people with infectious diseases. My missionary friends, in a part of the world they can’t reveal because it’s so dangerous, creating a written form of a local language to help tribe of people transition into the modern world. A middle class woman who’s faced violence and rape while delivering medical supplies to some of the world’s poorest people.

    My morality pales in comparison to theirs.

    There are some atheists in that group, and a lot of Christians. I respect them all. Your quote is just an empty platitude.

  • sodomite

    As an atheist, I don’t believe that is the only reason any Christian would want to build bridges with people that hold different beliefs.

    That is the only reason to build bridges with non-christians. Otherwise, nonbelievers are to be avoided like the proverbial plague.

    I’m sure there are plenty that just want to get along with the rest of the people of the world.

    There are plenty of people who just want to fly.

    Too bad those mean old birds are keeping them on the ground.

  • clint

    Not so much. I do have a child and I try to make his life as great as possible. I, however, do not know what his life will look like.

    An omnipotent being on the other hand, does, that is the very definition of omnipotence.

    A slight difference and whether my child has a nice life or not, millions of children have not.

    By the way, we are ruled by ego, therefore we are psychopaths. One would hope an all knowing being would not be the same.

  • sodomite

    Believe me, it is their long term goal to convert you to Christianity. That is what their entire religion is about … WITNESSING, CONVERTING and SAVING from hell … through JESUS CHRIST.”

    Do you have evidence for this that you can prove?

    And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.

    Nonbelievers are to be avoided like the proverbial plague.

  • J. Wojcik

    Christians constantly argue that any evil done in the name of God is irrelevant, because those people would have still been evil anyway….but then they claim the good done in his name is relevant?

    I still don’t buy it, sorry. I think religion has a completely neutral effect on the amount of good human beings do. All those charities would still exist, and in fact, studies show religious people are often the least charitable of all. It comes with believing that this world is merely a stepping stone to a bigger eternity. Of course they’re not going to care as much about the needy.

  • Yannis Bizakis

    I agree with that – whole heartedly – listening to both sides. My responsibility as a scientist is to tell other scientists to think about the consequences of the technology we create / invent. As per Atheists being mean I think there is this false equivalence. In the US – fundamentalist / evangelical Christians are the “loudest” – group by far – protesting at soldiers funerals, screaming that gay people should die, and have actively threatened people that perform abortions with murder – one even shot up a planned parenthood in COS. Dylan roof was a devout Lutheran that went to Church camp. I know this is not the “majority” – but it’s still your tribe. My tribe of atheists might have a bunch of arrogant, even snide members (Dawkins) – but my tribe does not contain a large splinter group that wants to 1) Create a theocracy bound with perceived racial purity 2) Walk over the Bill of Rights 3) Bring about the end times through real actions. My case in point is this last election – your Tribe gave us Trump. It seems hypocritical to call us out after your tribe has created such a large mess – that said – as soon as your tribe apologizes – and those splinter groups are denounced through real action – and separation of church and state is once again held in high regard throughout the land – I’m willing to help you clean it up. I think that is fair. And please understand – this is not an attack on many of my religious friends – I have many. But you are irritated at the people that are pointing out the car crash – instead of looking at your fellow drivers – who appear to have been “drunk at the wheel”

  • sodomite

    Do you refer to my relationship as a fairy tale because it is spirit and not carnal?

    The same as a child’s “relationship” with Santa Claus.

  • sodomite


    “You cannot empirically prove my imaginary friend is imaginary.”

  • Robert Conner

    As a functional atheist, I don’t care what your beliefs “do” for you and I doubt any other unbeliever does either. By all means gather in your churches, temples, grottos, say your words and do whatever blows your dress up. Atheists are more concerned with what religion actuality does; if the religious could manage to murder each other without involving bystanders, I’d be cool with that. If religious loons passed legislation that affected confirmed believers and no one else, I’d shrug it off and move on. Problem is, religion is totalitarian by nature. Religious people are never content with fucking up their own lives. They want to indoctrinate, coerce, and convert. Give them a seat on a school board, a city council, or elect them to some public office and they get that itch they must scratch.

    So long story short, we don’t care how you “read the Bible.” As Sam Harris has pointed out, the “moderate” members of religions are just the tall grass the predators are hiding in. Bring up fundamentalist lunacy and immediately the PC apologists will point out that 90% of religious people aren’t blowing up trains or trying to be the genitals police. What I suspect is that no one will have a safe, sane, decent society until Allah and Yahweh and Jesus all get shelved next to Zeus and Poseidon.

    My apologies (not!) for having no interest in anyone’s modern interpretations of Bronze Age jabberwocky.

  • This is almost a given in all venues on the internet:
    1) An author critiques problem behaviors.
    2) People mob the comments displaying the same problem behaviors.

    Meanwhile, back at the virtual ranch…

  • Ectricark

    Beliefs aren’t physical objects, they don’t work the same way. Think of it like an opinion: stating that you don’t have an opinion is still an opinion.

  • Ectricark

    Yeah, pretty much.

  • Nix

    Unfortunately, no amount of crying about “literary genre, authorial intent, context, original languages” makes the atrocities in the bible acceptable, nor does it explain away the many inconsistencies.

    What was the authorial intent when Moses declared that non-virginal women should be killed, or that if they are raped they should be sold to their rapists? What is the context of the god-ordained genocide of city after city in Palestine?

    You may get tired of hearing your beliefs referred to as “fairy tales”, but I get even more tired of hearing how seriously I’m supposed to take them. When politicians at every level of government are constantly trying to shove it down my throat, when we’re actually debating whether to teach hard science or religion in public schools, and even the future of our planet is being threatened by those who think Jesus won’t let global warming happen so why do anything about it, I’m less than sympathetic. I’m not accusing you personally of any of the above things, but your belief in a supernatural being is inherently unprovable and has no evidence to back it up. It’s a myth, fitting in with the long line of ancient cultural stories of gods and goddesses.

  • Ectricark

    If you’re going to be kind enough to dictate my own emotions and opinions to me, I guess I can go get a pizza or something, since you’re not interested in rational debate.

  • While some studies or associations of “fairy tale” might refer to “sixteenth century Western European children’s story”, you are demanding a limited technical definition for “fairy tale” that is simply false. Scholars of both literature and cultural anthropology use the term “fairy tale” frequently in ways that don’t fit in the tight little “sixteenth century” box you suggest:


  • sodomite

    1) An author critiques problem behaviors.

    Pointing out that people who believe they are going to live forever are uneducated, unenlightened idiots, insisting a group of people gathered under one flag produce a coherent set of tenets to support that flag, calling a fairy tale a fairy tale, and pointing out that religion is harmful are only “problem behaviors” to people who believe they are going to live forever, cannot produce a coherent set of tenets for that which they claim to believe, believe in fairy tales (or myths) as fact, or insist religion is good for humanity.

  • *headdesk*

  • Herm

    Okay, I can’t help this. Man, am I being compelled to step out and introduce, perhaps unfairly, the solution I have found to overcome my “fundamental biological limitation”. Yes tribal grouping is an animal instinct to protect itself in allegiance to the largest pack it can see to trust to have its back. As a side, although, I see most other animal species protecting their own with a much broader concern of the whole species as relative to human beings who tend even to fall into “me and mine” at the acceptable risk of all the rest of my species.

    On to what I know that works to break down the tribal and institutional walls. I know and can fully sense my carnal dependence on each and every one of my species as one body. There is available a single spirit of mankind that unites us all as one entity. The spirit of mankind is not visible when we remain behind the walls of tribal tradition, only the spirit of each tribe can be witnessed from within their enclosure. Stepping away from the blinding light (from which we felt secure in our ignorance within) of our tribal home the cosmos just begins to be seen that we are one with well beyond our species’, much less our tribe’s, influence.

    Empathy is virtually unlimited in its growth but is limited from where it begins. Empathy is being able to be concerned for others as we are concerned for our self. If we aren’t concerned for our self we can’t be concerned for others, no matter how much they demand it. We have to step away from ourselves in spirit before we can see to empathize with those we could not see from within the blinding light of our tribe’s and institution’s intimidating and manipulating self serving structure.

    This is what I now see to interpret the stories told particularly in the New Testament of the christian bible. I am not going to jump around to avoid using previously misconstrued religious terms but to jump head on to draw a different perspective not being shared.

    Until Jesus’ three year ministry the “Holy Spirit” had not been introduced, by any religion, as available to the least and most common of mankind. Running a computer search through all religious, philosophical and spiritually related documents available the concept of the Spirit of God being in and with all receptive of mankind without pause or end just didn’t exist previous to that three year ministry.

    What is even more unique to that ministry is the Dove, the physical image of the Holy Spirit, had to come to reside in Jesus before he could begin his ministry. What I know now as far as communications within God are concerned each depends on the Holy Spirit (the Spirit of truth) in their heart (emotion) and in their mind (reason) to be one God constructive equally for all of God. I know this is corny and may be rejected as there you christians go again, but in the light of what I shared just before to love my Lord God with all my heart, all my soul, all my strength, all my mind (all that is me in spirit) and the second command of God in the same spirit love my supporting neighbor (no matter from what tribe or institution) equal as myself begins to make sense to cover the constructive and productive good of all. Love is no more than empathy, compassion and forgiveness we would want all others to have for us. Top that off with even the most adult in God is the heavenly Father who subscribes to the same command for himself equally in his heart, soul, strength, mind which is relatively exponentially more than me and pretty much all bases of all have been covered with reciprocal empathy, compassion and forgiveness.

    God is spirit not carnal. God is not subject to the limitations of physical. God cannot be defined in physical terms. God can be empirically proved to each who have a reciprocal relationship in God but there is no empirical evidence possible from just the resources available to carnal mankind.

    3lemenope, I am not trying to change your mind to benefit me in any way. At worst I am reacting to many here reacting to Ben’s article who are defending their institution against what they perceive is only another institution attacking what they know to be true within their structure’s light.

    Too many, from all sides of the discussion, ignore relationship (physical, social, spiritual) as the only way to know the truth of each other. From all comments, including mine, it should become clear that we have yet a whole lot more to learn before we will have definitive proof of anything that will satisfy everyone concerned about truth.

    I’m satisfied with my relationship to date because I can’t lose from it. I know by relating that I have had a wonderful opportunity at life so far (much more available to me than have most who I have shared with around the world) and that only one of two things will happen when I leave; that will be to know nothing ever again (eternally oblivious) or having an opportunity to pursue adventure in relationship without end. The deciding factor will be that I can love effectively enough never to be a destructive influence to any other who was judged equally by the same deciding factor.

    I am suggesting that we can break the seemingly endless cycle of transcending tribe by busily making artificial tribes through the spirit of simply hating the results from any tribal influence that we must step away to risk what is outside as having a promise of more constructive, less destructive, results to me and all. So far here, I have only witnessed tribe/institution disagreeing with another tribe/institution. Until we realize to love all of who we are as one we offer no solutions we all can accept as best for me and all.

    Just my thoughts. I wish I could have kept this in a purely logical vein from the perspective of mankind but a good (constructive for all) part of me needed to be put on the table different from belief; in each our own self realized relationship.

    I love your perspective because it obviously cares for more than just you and yours. Thank you!

  • sodomite


    When the first shot fails to hit the mark, rap head on hard object and squeeze eyes completely closed before firing again.

  • Herm

    Then as such that my relationship in God is reliable and tested truth to me and not to you it is your ignorance of spirit that separates us from sharing.

  • boneheadaudio

    IMAX level projection here folks!

  • boneheadaudio

    What time does the movie start? You are the projectionist, right?

  • sodomite

    Then as such that my relationship in God is reliable and tested truth to me…

    The same way a child’s “relationship” with Santa Claus is “reliable and tested true” to her every time she find presents under the tree…

    … it is your ignorance of spirit that separates us from sharing.

    No, it’s just the fact that there is only room for one head inside a certain part of your anatomy that “separates us from sharing”.

  • Ectricark

    It’s the belief that there is no such thing as unicorns. Complete lack of belief would have to be ignorance, where it’s never been brought up or mentioned to someone, and thus there’s no reason for someone to have a position on it.

  • boneheadaudio

    “Missiology is the area of practical theology that investigates the mandate, message, and mission of the Christian church, especially the nature of missionary work …” (wikipedia)
    …..”practical theology”……

  • John Manicouagan

    While I don’t think it was the most eloquent response, he did directly reply to the point that was put forth by Ben. Others here did a better job of addressing the problem with the way that Ben’s objection was worded, and all are valid given the structure of the original post. When people compare religion to fairy tale, they are most often referring to the supernatural aspects of that religion, not the moral, or ethical lessons that adherents take from core writings.

  • Herm

    How many heads were there in your carnal family of birth as a child? There are no more or less in my spiritual family.

    How much was reliable and tested true of your relationship, at 4 years old, with the traffic officer who just cost you your tricycle by citing your father? Did you understand the full spirit or even full carnal ramifications of that relationship? You apparently understand less of mine with God.

    No, sodomite, it still comes down to spirit versus physical. I can relate to both and you are choosing only one. Both are the whole of our anatomy which in spirit is hugely different from the anatomy of all other species of life on earth.

  • sTv0

    “Ladies and gentlemen, the barbarians are not at the gate. They are not at the gate. They are well inside. And who held open the gates for them? The other religious!” -C. Hitchens, on the subject of religious extremists.


  • Ectricark

    Such as?

  • sodomite

    God is spirit not carnal. God is not subject to the limitations of physical. God cannot be defined in physical terms.

    “Then Moses went up with Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel, and they saw the God of Israel; and under His feet there appeared to be a pavement of sapphire, as clear as the sky itself. Yet He did not stretch out His hand against the nobles of the sons of Israel; and they saw God, and they ate and drank.” – Exodus 24:9-11

    So far here, I have only witnessed tribe/institution disagreeing with another tribe/institution.

    “Non-christian” is not a “tribe” or an “institution”, any more than “non-astrologist” is a “tribe” or an “institution”.

  • OccupyReality

    Sorry, if you expand the meaning of “trying” to include thought experiments there’s simply no way we can communicate with each other.

    What you’re saying is we should just think about not taking thought for tomorrow and imagine what might happen and somehow this is valuable wisdom and worthwhile.
    I suspect even your thought experiment would disagree with your biblical “wisdom”.
    Likewise loving your enemies in a war zone might be nice to think about but you know what the results are going to be with a high degree of probability.

    No you didn’t address either example.
    You invented a bunch of nonsense.

    And yes, people have tried it and it fails-so you are throwing your biblical wisdom under the bus in favor of your semantics and I’m done with you.


  • Dave Ellis

    When did I say all Christians? I thought I pretty clearly spelled out that not all Christians act like he does.

    There are plenty who act in a similar way to the way he is during this thread however, and those people like him give the christian worldview a bad name. If that’s the best that can be done to defend the worldview, why would one look at it with respect?

  • sodomite

    How many heads were there in your carnal family of birth as a child? There are no more or less in my spiritual family.

    If Purple People Eaters are real, where do they find purple people to eat? She folded her handkerchief neatly.

    How much was reliable and tested true of your relationship, at 4 years old, with the traffic officer who just cost you your tricycle by citing your father?

    I didn’t lose a tricycle to a traffic officer citing my father; but if I had, the traffic officer and my father would have been plainly evident to anyone who wanted to see them, so your analogy is as reliable as anything else a 4 year old’s mentality could conjure.

    Did you understand the full spirit or even full carnal ramifications of that relationship? You apparently understand less of mine with God.

    I understand the ramifications of your “relationship” with your imaginary friend, just like I understand the ramifications of a 4 year old’s “relationship” with her imaginary friend Santa Claus.

    No, sodomite, it still comes down to spirit versus physical.

    No, Sally, it just comes down to my not buying the snake oil you’re selling.

    I can relate to both and you are choosing only one.

    If we are, in fact, spiritual as well as a carnal beings, we can no more choose not to be or relate to the spiritual than we can choose not to be or relate to the carnal, so there’s that.

    Both are the whole of our anatomy which in spirit is hugely different from the anatomy of all other species of life on earth.

    Awww, people who believe humans are the pinnacle of life are so cute.

  • It is apparently some comfort for to have a group of humans to judge, dismissed, rant against. In my humble opinion your thoughts have been stopped by Propaganda and brainwashing and so you have stop growing emotionally intellectually and spiritually.

  • Herm

    You are treating this particular spiritual publication as literal to be understood by you now. At best the christian bible is an honest expose of Man’s relationship with God written by any who were inspired by their realization to pen their thoughts reflecting their emotions as they were capable. God is spirit and They made an image of that spirit in Man. God can work within the limitations of Man for the benefit of Man not God.

    Any one member who defines themselves and theirs as a lesser part than the whole of a species places themselves in a defined tribe and/or institution. I don’t have any allegiance to anything less than Man as a whole nor more than God as a whole.

  • Yes Hunty!! The movie is called Once Upon a Time. It begins with a man came to Mock and stayed to pray.

  • sodomite

    It is apparently some comfort for to have a group of humans to judge, dismissed, rant against.

    It is obvious that you find “comfort” in a doctrine which judges, dismisses, and rants against everyone who is not a member of your religious cult, and you’re (falsely) accusing someone else of finding comfort in those things.

    Your imaginary friend Jesus spoke against projecting your failures onto others – something to do with motes and beams.

    Also, “comfort” has nothing at all to do with your request for evidence and the evidence you were provided per your request – and you’re about to call me intellectually stunted…

    In my humble opinion your thoughts have been stopped by Propaganda and brainwashing…

    Which is ironic, considering your “thoughts” were stopped by direct quotes from your religion, which is nothing if not propaganda and brainwashing.

    … and so you have stop growing emotionally intellectually and spiritually.

    Says a person who believes in a cosmic version of Santa Claus…

  • Gandolf

    Quote :”Please stop saying or insinuating that we’re a bunch of uneducated or unenlightened idiots.

    I’m not arrogant, but I have a hard time engaging in dialogue with an atheist who begins the conversation by stating or acting like we’re uneducated, unenlightened idiots simply because we believe in God, in some form or another. Do we have idiots in my camp? Sure thing– but it’s not a belief in God that makes them that way, just like it’s not a lack of belief in God that makes some of your folks ignorant or obnoxious.”

    First of all. I agree that a whole lot of atheist are angry.I cannot deny this.Atheist are not inhuman.Not superhuman They have human feelings.Some of those feelings include anger

    Second.I can totally agree that many Christian are educated.Some are highly educated.But sadly education doesnt necessarily always also equal enlightenment, in my opinion

    Put it this way.Atheists have been discriminated against for many generations now.We are constantly discriminated against under the pretense that this has been about freedom of religion and/or religious liberty .(To point out the inconsistency..Just imagine yourself trying to believe that constant beatings, were in fact acts of kindness.While trying to remain happy.Good luck with that)

    Being that we atheist are human, its just not easy to “turn the other cheek” and put a smile on of face and “act” happy and nice .Fact is,we even also happen to be pretty sure, that this life, will be the only life that we will ever be able to live happily and enjoy.Making it so much harder to remain passive

    Try and put yourself in “our” shoes.Ask yourself how easy it might be for you to try and put on a act.To “act” like you really do love Christians

    Obama only just acted on the intuition to finally take the first step forward, to include some protection of atheist

    Why haven’t we seen “more” Christian? getting actively involved themselves in trying to help resolve this problem long before now .

    As far as “im aware” , up until now it has mainly been “humanist groups” whom cared to step up to take an active role in trying hard to help move this issue forward

    I would be interested to see evidence of Christian groups whom have gotten actively involved. Can you? please point out this kind of evidence that i can look into

    I would sure like to see atheist react far differently toward Christians.You are asking atheist to remember to think more thoughtfully toward Christians.Did? Christians remember to do likewise


  • Worf

    I understand there are varying degrees of belief in the myths of the bible. Not all christians believe in Noah’s ark or a literal Adam and Eve, nor do they all believe the world is 6000 years old.

    But christianity is based around the idea of Jesus being the son of the christian god. If you believe that his miracles are factual (water into wine, walking on water, etc…), you believe in unsubstantiated myths. The resurrection falls into the same category. Miracles by definition require a temporary suspension of natural law, and there is not the slightest bit of real evidence that that can happen.

    I never said your relationship with your god was a fairy tale. I am sure you feel the way you do for your own reasons. But your personal feelings are not evidence of your god, no matter how sure you are. Muslims are as confident in their relationship with their version of god as you are. The ancient Greeks were sure their gods existed as well. Feelings might make an individual believe, but they have no bearing on, nor are they evidence of truth.

  • Dave Ellis

    Your quote was: “However, when a majority of the earth’s population believes in some sort of deity it does offer some evidence.”

    No, it doesn’t. That is by definition an appeal to popularity fallacy. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Argumentum_ad_populum

    Your initial point deals specifically with evidence for a deity, not just some nebulous “something”. Your followup where you explain it can’t be studied in a lab but counts as “experiential evidence” (whatever that means), doesn’t change that point.

    The second part of your post acknowledges that this “evidence” can’t prove a deity, but there is something that causes people to believe in one. I agree there is something that causes people to believe in deities, however that says nothing about the actual existence of one.

  • seanchaiology

    You didn’t say all Christians nor did I say you did. My statement is about understanding that blame should placed in the proper spot or it runs the risk of creating a vicious cycle of discriminatory hate based on those who give the belief system a bad name. However, you did say religion was harmful and infects the minds of people. So although you didn’t say all Christians were like him, that is an implication that all have the potential to be like him. That is where I disagree. I do not blame the religion, I blame individuals. People are responsible for their own actions, when you blame a belief system then they have a scape goat at best and justification at worst. I won’t provide them with an excuse, and blaming a religion that is made up of billions of individual people with varying internal beliefs, personalities, and behaviors offers that excuse.

  • sodomite

    spiritual publication

    Euphemism for “fairy tale.”

    Any one member who defines themselves and theirs as a lesser part than the whole of a species places themselves in a defined tribe and/or institution. I don’t have any allegiance to anything less than Man as a whole nor more than God as a whole.

    Be that non sequitur of a response as it may, “non-christian” is not a “tribe” or an “institution”, any more than “non-astrologist” is a “tribe” or an “institution”.

  • Worf

    “Both are the whole of our anatomy which in spirit is hugely different from the anatomy of all other species of life on earth.”

    I beg to differ. I find so many commonalities in emotions (what you might call “spirit”) and behaviors between humans and all other mammals, it is wonderfully obvious how closely related we are. We even share elements with many non mammals.

    I don’t believe in a literal soul. Our “spirit” comes from a beautifully natural and complex (and somewhat flawed) system of chemicals and electrical signals in our brain. And at a fundamental level our brains operate in a nearly identical fashion to all other brained animals.

  • Terance Schmidt

    It seems to me that those who are arguing against this guy fall on the same side as the conservative Christians in saying that people who hold his views can’t be real Christians.

  • EricBubu

    “Atheism is a belief system insofar as it is a belief in a world without God.”
    So, in your view, non-believing in the Great Pink Unicorn or Thor, or Zeus, or the Great Flying Pasta Monster are belief systems ?
    Well, well, well…..

  • EricBubu

    Atheism is not more a belief system than bald is a hair (or wig) color.

  • Ectricark

    Yeah, pretty much. My belief system is that Thor is a pretty awesome comic book character, but the Flying Spaghetti Monster isn’t going to come down and bless people with his noodly appendage. I believe that they are not real deities.

  • Ectricark

    No, but shaven is a hairstyle.

  • Elliot George

    or forgiveness… or afterlife…

    So personal responsibility while alive then…

    And no martyrdom or promise of virgins for atrocities committed ‘In the Name of the Lord’…

    Better, eh?

  • >It is obvious that you find “comfort” in a doctrine which judges, dismisses, and rants against everyone who is not a member of your religious cult, and you’re (falsely) accusing someone else of finding comfort in those things.

    Not My Religion not my Jesus.
    I’m not a Christian.

  • seanchaiology

    My point was not divided into two arguments as you claim. It was all part of a whole. If that was not clear to you I apologize but my intent was never to say it was evidence of the existence of a deity. I thought it was clear as it was part of one continuous line of thought, apparently it was not. I am well aware of the appeal to popularity fallacy, linking to Wikipedia is not necessary. Additionally, you already brought it up once and I have already addressed it, so why are we going there again? Is that just a deflection since you didn’t address your own straw man fallacy of arguing claims I didn’t make?

    You claimed I was ignoring that not all people believe in the same god. You claimed I think only one god is real and others made up. You claim I think my god is more justifiable than others. Please tell me where I made those statements.

  • EricBubu

    BUT not a hair color.
    Why is it so hard for people to understand the BASIC fact that, NO, believers of any kind were not BORN that way, they were just cramed their brains with stories. Then they choose or not, to stick to that. But people who have had the luck to get an education through logic, science, reason, have NO EXCUSE for their choice of sticking to irrationality, no matter what.

  • E.A. Blair

    Tell that to the street preacher that followed and harangued me for three blocks while I was downtown last month, all the while telling me I was going to burn in hell unless I listened to him. Tell that to the JWs who ring my doorbell every Saturday. And I’m on this blog because A: this is a post about Atheists and B: I got here through a link on an Atheist blog. Now I will stop contaminating you with my unholy presence since you imply that only Christians belong here. Is there a test for which one of the umpty-thousand Christian cults…er… denominations one belongs to?

  • Elliot George

    valueless aren’t they…

  • Ectricark

    Nope! If it was valueless, you wouldn’t hang onto it. Your beliefs about the world shape your actions, and your actions shape the lives of those around you. Your opinions on how coffee should be prepared have an impact on every barista you’ll ever meet. Small, sure, but an impact. Our beliefs inform our choices, and our choices have consequences.

  • Encomiums“! Beautiful! Past 60 years now, and I marvel at its debut!

    I won’t try and compete with accusations of “flatly ridiculous“. Or “powerless to address.”

    I did say, that “it is sometimes difficult to appreciate The Old Way“.

    There is much about humans that is wonderful, much that is desperate, and much that is foul.

    However, the long view, and understanding that death is not the big deal we make of it, levels things nicely.

  • Dale Smith

    “It’s the belief that there is no such thing as unicorns.”

    No it isn’t. Lacking a belief in one thing is not the equivalent of believing the opposite.

    e.g. If I place a jar full of marbles in front of you and ask you if you believe there is an even number of marbles, does your lack of belief imply that you believe there is an odd number?

    Of course not, your lack of belief that there is an even number could simply be because you don’t have enough information to hold that belief. It says nothing about your belief in the opposite claim.

  • Sastra

    My apologies, you’re right, I shouldn’t have implied that I was speaking for all atheists. My main point was that Richard Dawkins falls much closer to the middle of the spectrum than Dr. Corey –and you –seem to think.

    Dawkins wasn’t comparing a placid mainstream or liberal church to a propaganda rally. He was specifically criticizing a particular form of aggressive hellfire and creationism fundamentalism, one built around a strong leader and group identity. Haggard isn’t (or wasn’t) part of the gentle middle of Christianity. If it was hostility, then, it was targeted hostility, and wouldn’t I think fall into the category of push-all-religions-together-and-condemn-them-wholesale atheism the OP complains about.

  • Noah

    Hey putz, go back and actually read my comment that you relied to.

    I literally said we can’t prove God to anyone.

    I also put triune in parentheses/smiley face.

    I didn’t put a 30 page defence of faith down for you to critique.

    But by all means keep on telling Christians that they don’t know God.

    Is this honestly the comment you were replying to??!!

  • Ectricark

    That’s a fair point, that one could recuse oneself from making a binary claim, but that in and of itself is a truth claim. You’re just claiming that you don’t have the information necessary to judge something as true or untrue. My example was perhaps too binary, but “I don’t think I know enough to say definitively” is still a belief statement.

  • Herm

    I guess to you I am stupid and worthless. You were clearly not the intended recipient. I truly hope I didn’t hurt your feelings beyond repair.

  • Sastra

    I think you’re conflating beliefs which are conclusions (which may or may not be accurate/correct/true) with individual personal preferences and tastes (no right;no wrong; just different.) And I don’t think I’d grant that either conclusions OR preferences are without “value.”

    How are you defining “value?”

  • Noah

    Is this a spam account?

    I don’t remember this profile being a condescending douche. Or willfully obtuse.

    But keep us abreast of who knows God and who doesn’t. We definitely need that.

  • Dave Ellis

    On the contrary, the religion is the one common element among those people. To say it bears no responsibility for the actions of the adherents of the religion is nonsense.

    The anti-gay rhetoric we currently see in the United States is largely driven by religious teachings. Granted, it’s the people that are being bigoted, however their religious doctrine is what caused the bigotry in the first place.

    This is one example of many. The real problem caused by religion is the teaching that faith is an acceptable epistemology. It allows people to believe things, and act on those beliefs without a good reason, or without having a basis in reality. That is true for virtually all religions, liberal or conservative.

  • Dave Ellis

    The only way the line “However, when a majority of the earth’s population believes in some sort of deity it does offer some evidence” can be taken is that you are arguing that because the majority of the earths population believes in some form of deity, that provides some sort of evidence for the belief they hold.

    If that’s not the argument you tried to present, then you worded it poorly. Likewise, I am not committing a strawman because I am responding to the argument as it was written.

    If that’s not what you meant, that’s fine, I accept the retraction.

    I agree something causes people to believe in a god… however at the same sense, that alone is more or less worthless info on its own. What do you think causes people to believe? That’s what matters.

    My response to you was broken into two sections however. I addressed the first part with the appeal to popularity dismissal. The second section was raising new points to challenge your personal beliefs (or at least the ones I presume you have… you do believe a god exists, do you not?), they weren’t meant to address your previous post, they were new points raised.

  • Maltnothops

    And here I thought we were critiquing the problem behaviors displayed by the author.

  • Yes, it isn’t clear why Irish Atheist thinks that the term “fairy tale” has an enforced definition of “sixteenth century Western European Children’s Story”. That may define a prominent use of the phrase, but scholars don’t limit the term in such a way.

  • seanchaiology

    I still disagree. Just because people claim to be followers of a religion does not mean that the religion is the cause of their behaviors. Instead, I believe people take their own personal beliefs and use their claimed religion as support for them. This is precisely why there are nearly 40,000 different Christian denominations alone. And it is not unique to Christianity as all major religions have multiple sects with varying beliefs. People have shaped, or changed, their religion to fit their internal ideas and beliefs instead of the religion specifically dictating them. If it was not the case then all who claim to be Christian would be anti-gay, to use your example, but instead people take how they feel personally and use their religion as support. Religion is a man-made construct, therefore the problem always goes back to man. I will give that some people allow other people in “authority” of their claimed belief system to sway their opinions on matters, and in that case I grant you that religion has a bearing, but it is still up to the individual. This part of the discussion actually seems more like battling over semantics. My point remains, by your own words there are countless different beliefs, and my original point is that you were wavering on borderline discriminatory comments based on those “who give Christianity a bad name, ” therefore it should be taken up with those specific individuals and not a label as a whole because you already know that not everyone believes, or acts, in the same manner. In sum, my original comment to was that I agree it was people like that that give it a bad name, but my point is that we should not allow those people to lead us to assume all are that way. That is how bigotry and racism operate. I have been blasted by atheists and Christians alike, and treated very poorly by both, however, I am not going to assume that all atheists or all Christians act in such a manner, instead I believe those individual people simply act that way. So, again, you can disagree with me, that’s what makes us all individuals, but I still feel it is better to let the individual’s actions speak for themselves and not what they claim to believe or not to believe in regards to deity.

  • The nonreligious don’t contribute to the Red Cross, Habitat for Humanity, or Doctors without Borders?!

    I beg to differ!

  • seanchaiology

    I will accept, as I already previously apologized if I was not clear, that my “worded it poorly”

    My strawman claim was based on your arguments about me claiming I ignored there was belief in multiple deities, that I think only one god is real and others are made up, and that only one is more justifiable than others when I never made those claims whatsoever. It does not matter if I believe a god exists or not in this case because it remains a claim I never made. You admit to presume, which I said in an earlier response to you. That presumption has no bearing on my argument and therefore is exactly why it is a strawman.

    However, to answer your question, yes, I do believe a god exists. Yet, I make no bold claims about that god. I have my personal beliefs based on my own research, and yes, my experiences. I have no desire to push my belief on anyone else and I fully accept and respect everyone else’s belief or non-belief. And just to clarify for argument sake, or curiosity sake at least, I was agnostic until the age of 36. I was not indoctrinated at some young age, and I know all the arguments against the existence of a deity, as I believed them most of my life and I still find they are strong arguments that are difficult to refute. Still, in my case I hold on to belief based on my own reasoning, experiences, and, believe it or not, science.

  • Andy

    Right, there’s a difference. We can criticize beliefs while still respecting the people that hold them.

  • Andy

    You most certainly can. You can criticize their beliefs, and you can stand up for those oppressed (including yourself), while still respecting people.

  • Herm

    good for you

  • Herm

    good for no one

  • JustThink

    Lol. Just watched the youtube video you linked to. Definitely not the video I was expecting. I’ve watched several from him, and they are always a good combination of entertainment and truth (based on my observations, anyways). Thanks again.

  • sodomite

    Not My Religion not my Jesus. I’m not a Christian.

    Your comment history says otherwise.

  • Tim Boone

    It feels far less insulting to have my beliefs described as mythology… actually, they are………… than it does to have them called fairy tales which they really are not. One thing that helps put the Bible in perspective for me is to see it as a library of letters, essays, sermons, poetry and eschatological narrative that attempts to share the spiritual power inherent in believing in God and Jesus….. trusting in their love and ultimate purpose. The Bible is not a constitution. It is not a legal document. The Bible is capable of facilitating, understanding, peace and love…. just as it can and has been used to justify killing, war and slavery and is currently being used to justify conservative politics…. even the politics of Ayn Rand who was very anti Christian.

  • Research has proven that religious people are less intelligent than atheists. You believe in magic. That is the very definition of stupidity. Deal with it moron. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/religious-people-are-less-intelligent-than-atheists-according-to-analysis-of-scores-of-scientific-8758046.html

  • Dale Smith

    But they aren’t real christians as defined by the christian holy book. If they want to discontinue claiming adherence to the bible and pick a different book then maybe they’d have a legitimate argument.

  • Bones

    The Christian holy book doesn’t define what a Christian is.

  • Bones

    That’s fascinating if it had anything to do with the discussion.

  • Dale Smith

    Not believing in a claim is not the same as making a truth claim or any other kind of claim. It is simply the rejection of a claim.

    Rejecting a claim is not equivalent to stating the claim is false (e.g. claiming the opposite is true). It is simply rejecting the claim because it currently lacks supporting evidence.

  • Bones

    Yeah i’m with Bonhoeffer. The Bible is mostly mythology.

  • Fair enough, I’ve been getting a little wild in the rhetoric. :)

    And point definitely taken on the distinction, and I agree, that it is sometimes more difficult to appreciate the old way for reasons that probably do have a lot to do with hubris. I think that it is part of the paradox of modernity that we finally, after a hundred generations of desperate striving, inherit enough power to work our will to match the heights of our hubris. The precipice of great and terrible things that follow when reach and grasp are one; apotheosis or extinction.

    I imagine our thoughts on death and dying have some pretty wild departures, and that’s a rabbit-hole for another day. But I will at least agree that the way humans tend to act towards death is odd.

  • See Noevo

    The best, sanest thing I ever heard an atheist say was by comedian Penn Jillette:

  • Bones

    Reason, life, study, education.

    And most of us don’t hold that the collection of 66 books was written by God but by early humans – some of whom had agendas.

  • See Noevo

    As this article appears on the “Progressive Christian” Channel and appears
    to be about “bridge building” between Christians and atheists, I’ll note one
    upside for atheists:
    The bridge to be built between atheists and “progressive” Christians should
    be the shortest of any of the other bridges to be built.

  • Martin Hughes
  • JustThink

    How do you know which authors to trust, if you don’t mind me asking?

  • Janhoi Mccallum

    Right you were so uninterested in what I or the poster had to say that you took the time to write this long piece and follower this thread in the first place. And I could care less what a Neuroscientists who has no expertise in the area of religion and speaks outside of his field has to say on the subject anyways.

    His argument that moderate religious people are the “tall grass predators hide in” is a stupid and moronic one. I’m pretty sure for instance religious extremists weren’t hiding in the grass of figures like Martin Luther King Jr or Archbishop Desmond Tutu and others. If anything religious so called moderates(whatever the heck that means) have to face the brunt of extremists way more than nonbelievers do so that notion is just asinine nonsense.

    Trust me…..I could care less about converting you to my beliefs. You really aren’t that interesting.

  • Bones


    Maybe you can take another verse out of context.

  • See Noevo

    You mean you won’t ban him like you did me, Martin?

  • See Noevo

    The best, sanest thing I ever heard an atheist say was by comedian Penn Jillette:

  • Bones


    Got nothing.

  • Dale Smith

    For the sake of argument, I’ll consider your obviously ridiculous response by asking you what, if it isn’t the christian holy book, defines the required actions and beliefs of a christian?

  • Herm

    In New Scientist,
    Michael Brooks wrote, “Krauss will be preaching only
    to the converted. That said, we should be happy to be
    preached to so intelligently. The same can’t be said about
    the Dawkins afterword, which is both superfluous and

    Please, understand I am not one of choir that Lawrence M. Krauss is preaching to. I have not completed the book but what I have read so far certainly does not rise above conjecture, though it is intelligent conjecture.

    I no longer find empirical evidence in anything but direct relationship. Everything else, including the Bible, is hearsay which at best can cause me to search out relationships that all my senses can agree within as reality. My relationship in spirit is very real and has passed the sense test to be more trustworthy than any hypothesis of mankind’s thirst to know and question the unknown.

    There is as yet no proof of origin in either irreligious or religious cosmogony. Thanks for your concern to apply such time and effort in a reply to me!

  • Bones

    BTW 2 Peter was written in the second century.

    It’s falsely claiming to written by the ‘fisherman’.

  • Projection protects you from nothing!! You still have a shitload of things to deal with from your past spiritual abuse. Are you are you in therapy for it yet?

  • The big book of AA is an alternative in my humble opinion. It’s so simple spiritual program account so much baggage!!

  • Beatitudes!!

  • Bones

    ‘How much do you have to hate someone to not proselytize. …’.

    So it’s OK for atheists to proseltyze.


    The Muslims agree.

    If that guys a comedian he needs to get a new job.

    Even Mike Warnke is better than him.

  • Bones

    Probably not as short as your bridge with fundamentalist Islam.

  • If all Christians believed and behaved like the projections and delusions you are stuck with this conversation would be unnecessary.

    My humble opinion you are still very immature probably because of a history of spiritual abuse And other abuse. Your immature self needs somebody or something to be against in order to maintain the fiction of your outraged pose & persona. A black and white thinking broad brush laying down your self-righteous judgement against people you have no relationship with will not stop the anxiety or depression.

  • Bones

    Dude, you made the claim.

    You back it up.

    I’m not doing your work because you’re too half arsed lazy.

    I don’t know…maybe start with google

  • Elliot George

    Beliefs can be wrong and yet tenaciously held on to…

    For centuries people believed that the sun went round the earth, that heavier weights would fall faster than lighter ones and that iron ships would sink…

    Beliefs should be regarded as valueless.

    They should certainly NOT be regarded as reasons for killing.

    What IS valuable is evidence…

  • Bones

    Wow two bloggers going for it….

    Pass the popcorn…

  • Bones

    Must be hard if you’re married to one then.

  • Elliot George

    ‘I believe in gravity’ would be a ridiculous thing to say. No-one needs to believe in gravity. Conclusions are evidential scientifically and, therefore, do not require evaluating or actively believing in practice.

    Beliefs, however, are matters of opinion and DO need evaluating. Sadly, society overvalues them and uses them to make life or death decisions.

  • Bones

    Interesting question.

    It’s how well they can back up the internal evidence of the text with the context of first century Judaism like Ched Myers does in his Binding the strongman : a socio-political reading of marks story of jesus.

  • Bones


  • Bones

    An atheist, a Christian, a Muslim and a jew walked into a bar. They talk,laugh, become friends. Its not a joke. Its what happens when you’re not an arsehole.

  • Herro

    There is an example here in the comments regarding the story of Yahweh killing David’s son. The difference seems to be that “right-wing fundamentalists” believe the events atually happened while believers like Corey simply don’t.

  • Bones

    So logically then archbishop desmond tutu isn’t a Christian because he’s more committed to social justice than converting others. Whereas the apartheid Dutch Reformed Church were.

    THe gospel of John was specifically written AGAINST Judaism.

    And no I’m not interested in converting you to what I believe.

  • Bones

    Yeah because bishops tutu and spong aren’t christians because you said.

    I think you guys are confused by moderate christians as they don’t fit your mold of the nutty US fundamentalist. So best to write them off as not REAL Christians.

  • Bones

    But I don’t feel any of those things because it doesn’t worry me.

    It’s a bit bit like saying you support the San fransico 69ers or the bluesocks.

    That is not the whole sum of you as a person.

  • Bones

    Yeah it’s pretty funny seeing atheists agree with fundamentalists over what a Christian is.