The Value of In-Your-Face Atheism 

The Value of In-Your-Face Atheism  March 28, 2019

Editor’s Note:  Here, as promised, is the response by a fellow Clergy Project member to Chris Highland’s Is There an “Orthodox Atheism?  posted on this blog a few days ago. One thing we’ll know for sure after this is that non-believing clergy do not necessarily think alike about religion. /Linda LaScola, Editor

========================

By David Madison, PhD   

It seems to me that Chris Highland fears a rigid orthodoxy among atheists, one that requires strident opposition to religion. I have no quarrel with Chris’ appeal for civility, which is how I read his rejection of “irascible attacks and mean-spirited memes” that come from some atheists. Do I really mean it? John W. Loftus recently said,

“As it turns out, David Madison is one of the worst nightmares imaginable for the Christian faith…”

I do not shrink from ridicule and sarcasm in my critiques of Christianity, and I’ve been accused of effectively using humor in skewering it. (I hope this is true).

But even so, I have never said some of the things that Chris mentions, e.g.,

“Religious people are mindless sheep and faith is stupid” and “Real atheists have to belittle believers, telling them how ignorant and delusional they are.”

I have been called a fool—and much worse—so often by Christians on the Facebook page for my book that I’ve gotten used to it.  They freak out at any of the criticism of their faith, let alone my suggestion that there are ten tough problems with it. No, it’s not cool being called a fool, so I know that name-calling shuts down dialogue.

But how’s Psalm 14:1 for an irascible attack?

“Fools say in their hearts, ‘There is no God.’ They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds; there is no one who does good.”

Really, we’re that bad? Seems like the tone of the debate was set a long time ago!

Chris is right, however: to avoid escalation, extreme statements from either camp should be avoided—although I don’t rule out sharp criticisms. I myself cringe when I see crude—even obscene—memes about Jesus or the Virgin Mary. What do they accomplish? And I also cringe when I hear atheists gloating,

“Jesus never even existed!”

These four words seem to be a new weapon of choice, as if the issue had been settled. When Christians offer outraged responses, my reply is,

“There are three primary reasons that some scholars question the existence of Jesus. Have you thought about them? Do you know what they are? Let’s discuss.”

But does Chris include In-Your-Face Atheism in what he calls “orthodox atheism”? Let’s give credit to those who have made a difference. Recent research indicates that “nones” (“adults who describe their religious identity as atheist, agnostic or ‘nothing in particular’” Pew Research, 8/18) now are as numerous as two major religious groups — evangelical and Catholics.

How did this happen? As of 2014, Richard DawkinsThe God Delusion had sold an astonishing three millions copies. Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris and Daniel Dennett also set the aggressive tone with their bestselling books, thereby fueling the unprecedented atheist-publishing surge—more than 300 new titles (since the 1990s). It seems that a lot of people are receptive, even eager, to hear blunt deconstructions of religion.

My point is that aggressive—sometimes even rude—atheism has found an audience, and that has probably unsettled Christians as much as anything else. Chris says that, in his view, “few religious people are listening. Why should they?”

But perhaps sometimes they can’t help listening – a scathing remark can serve as a wake-up call. Following the 1996 school massacre in Dunblane, Scotland (16 kids killed), among the hundreds of bouquets left outside the school was a Teddy Bear holding a note:

“13 March 1996, the day God overslept.”

This made the news throughout the UK. “Overslept” is not as rough as Nietzsche’s “God is dead,” but the troubled layperson (I assume) who penned the note knew how to plunge the dagger: “So, God knows when even a sparrow falls to earth — what about these 16 kids?”

I wonder how many parents of those kids had ‘the faith’ knocked out of them by “God overslept.”

As much as anything else, we wish Christians would think about their faith and its incoherence. Far too often they seem to be easily satisfied with the shallow excuses for God offered by apologists (“He has a purpose we don’t know.”). Hey, Chris kinda nailed it himself:

“…the church was exhibiting a kind of mental illness, speaking only with itself.”

The problem, in my experience, is that few religious people listen to any atheists. When I am rudely addressed on the Facebook page for my book—and the only thing they know is that I have identified ten problems—my appeal for dialogue is always rebuffed. They have no interest. Maybe Chris has had more luck in his thirty years of engagement with calmer believers.

My sense also, however, is that Chris doesn’t take sufficient account of the damage caused by religion, which can fuel atheist anger. He wrote:

“Many of the memes, cartoons and atheist graffiti posted around the walls of the Internet show a lack of broad knowledge of the history or daily reality of religion.”

But we know for sure that many atheists have indeed seen religion from the inside and have suffered from its “daily reality.” Even so, it’s true that they can be ignorant about religion, but it is overwhelmingly the case that Christians themselves—yes, the vast majority of laypeople—are stunningly ignorant of their religion and its history. Chris suggests that atheists use Google to get up to speed; to Christians I say as well — “Go to Google!

Most Christians couldn’t begin to discuss the origins of the New Testament; how the writings of the apostle Paul are in so many ways at odds with the gospels; why the gospels of Mark and John present such radically different portraits of Jesus; and why they believe what they do. I love the title of Philip Jenkins’ book: Jesus Wars: How Four Patriarchs, Three Queens, and Two Emperors Decided What Christians Would Believe for the Next 1,500 Years. Do Christians who dutifully recite the creeds really have a clue that they’re not at all just believing in Jesus?

I think there is some merit in Chris’ protest:

“Simply arguing incessantly in an agitated defense of some imagined atheist orthodoxy is no viable alternative. Who really believes—and I think it does approach its own belief system—that religion is dying, doomed and should be destroyed? Maybe you think or believe that, but is that your ‘gospel’?  Is this the best ‘good news’ you can offer?”

I do what I do—my business card reads Atheist Author and Advocate—precisely because I don’t see religion dying, although it may be losing ground, as recent surveys show. I remain haunted—and terrified—by what I read on a Christian website, not long after the turn of this century: that by 2025, there will be one billion (yes, that’s with a “b”) Pentecostals in the world. That should scare us as much as global warming.

Religion dying, doomed, destroyed. Well, yes, I do think that would be good news. Christians themselves have advocated as much themselves! Right now I’m reading Catherine Nixey’s book, The Darkening Age: The Christian Destruction of the Classical World. Christians were savagely committed to wiping out the pagan religions they despised, and they left wide swaths of destruction, literally. Do Christians today, who resent the atheist assault, really appreciate what zealous faith is capable of?

Chris wants nothing to do with finger pointing:

“I hear people say, ‘THEY do it! Christians do it! They’re attacking us, it’s a war and we’re gonna fight back!’ Well, have at it, but don’t count me in. I don’t hang with nasty people on either side of that border wall.”

I never use the word war in describing my deconstruction of Christianity, and many folks construe candor and bluntness as something nasty. Maybe Chris wants to take the high road above the fray, preferring not to hang with nasty people, but religion bludgeons the world. The In-Your-Face atheism we see today—and sometimes wince at its tasteless memes and graffiti—has been a response to 9/11.

I was stunned by Chris’ reference to “some imagined boogeyman of faith.” Imagined? Does he fully grasp the crisis, the trauma, that religion, including Christianity, represents? The 9/11 attacks were religious terrorism, and so many serious thinkers responded with enough is enough; with outrage that religion does so much harm. (See Richard Carrier’s eloquent piece, “What’s the Harm? Why Religious Belief Is Always Bad.”)

I would like to see religious folks come to terms with our outrage. Chris is outraged about strident orthodox atheism, but can he help his “valuable friends, reasonable believers” see what fuels our alarm? Maybe ask them to read Greta Christina’s Why Are You Atheists So Angry? 99 Things That Piss Off the Godless.

Last month I was stunned to see the General Conference of the United Methodist Church take a giant, mean-spirited step backwards, opposing marriage equality and LGBTQ clergy (about which former Methodist ministers Paul Adams and David Mercer have written recently on Rational Doubt). I’ve since read that many local Methodist congregations are balking. Indeed, the arrogant, aggressive ignorance displayed by the General Conference is unconscionable. Can it possibly be true that the denominational thought leaders—dare I call them that? —are still stuck on the famous Bible clobber verses about homosexuality? That they have not done the homework now at their disposal—as it wasn’t fifty years ago—on human sexuality? It appears not.
I will be more sympathetic toward Chris’ “valuable friends, reasonable believers” when I see them on the front lines, massively, passionately condemning homophobia. Just days ago, another member of The Clergy Project, Fernando Alcántar, posted his reaction on Facebook to an article, “America’s Biggest Christian Charity Funnels Tens of Millions to Hate Groups.” How’s that for a kick in the teeth?

Here is Fernando’s eloquent rebuttal (can Chris assure us that none of his “reasonable believers” are to blame?):

My friends,

This touches on why I struggle so greatly with many who tell me “I love you” one day of the year, but support things the other 364 that hurt me and those like me. Need examples?

  1. If you support Christian charity organizations like the one in the article, the Salvation Army, and other Christian anti-LGBT groups, you can’t call it love. You can’t.
  2. If you attend a church or school that promotes marriage being only between one man and one woman, you can’t call it love. You can’t.
  3. If you attend a church or support a group who agrees with gay conversation therapy or pray-the-gay-away beliefs, you can’t call it love. You can’t.
  4. If you give away books or study from a book (even if selectively) that literally calls us “an abomination”, you can’t call it love. You can’t.
  5. If you vote for candidates, like Mike Pence and Ted Cruz, who oppose#LGBT equality, you can’t call it love. You can’t.

At the very least, it comes across as undereducated. And in the worst case, even if not on purpose, as complicit.

Think about it the next time you say, “but I love you.”

——————

[Full disclosure here, by the way: I am gay, and have been with my husband for forty years—we were legally married a few months after our 30th anniversary—so I am especially pissed off about blatant homophobia in the church. Chris advises against taking sides. Say what?]

The United Methodists, however, are small-time players in the homophobia game. Last month, Fédéric Martel’s 550-page book was published in eight languages, based on four years of research: In the Closet of the Vatican: Power, Homosexuality, and HypocrisyThe beloved Pope John-Paul II, and the not-so-beloved Benedict XVI—who fled the office—were virulently, cruelly anti-gay (as well as misogynistic), and pursued disastrous policies that have caused incalculable human suffering; while the enormous scandal of child abuse by their clergy worldwide was given far too little attention. And all of this is disguised by the most exaggerated piety imaginable.

Could Chris find any of his “valuable friends, reasonable believers” at the Vatican?

Martel points out that the Catholic clergy system attracts men who want to escape relationships with women, yet are terrified to accept that they are gay. This manifests as self-hatred and poisonous homophobia; the Holy See is a sea of dysfunction. And who knew there could be so many hatreds just within the College of Cardinals! What has Christianity come to? It is so hard for me to as gracious as Chris Highland recommends.    

At one point, reflecting on his departure from the faith, Chris says,

“I thought the whole damn (damned!) Church should be writing big checks and joining me ‘out there in the real suffering world—with Jesus, by the way.’”

Well, Yes, I want to see millions of Christians kicking up a royal fuss about homophobia, hate-groups of all kinds—and against complicit Christian charlatans who seem to dominate the conversation. Chris says that he got over his “profound pissed-off-ness.” And that’s too bad. It’s up to decent citizens, Christians especially, to take back the conversation, big time, full time. How come there’s not a vibrant Christian League Against Televangelism? A devout Catholic woman I know can’t gush enough about Joel Osteen.

How is that possible?

Finally: I would appeal to clergy who are trying to get over theism to also get over Jesus. I winced when I read Chris’ comment about being in the “real suffering world with Jesus.” There are many alarming negatives about Jesus in the gospels; I can’t get started on that, this late in the article! So, just this: there are clusters of feel-good texts, the Hallmark Moments that Jesus is famous for, but, on balance, for many reasons, Jesus fails to qualify as a great moral teacher. And his sympathy for the poor seems to have been motivated by his vision of a Kingdom of God that would soon replace all earthly regimes and rulers. Well that never happened – and look at the mess we’re in.

=====================

Bio: David Madison, a Clergy Project member, was raised in a conservative Christian home in northern Indiana. He served as a pastor in the Methodist church during his work on two graduate degrees in theology. By the time he finished his PhD in Biblical Studies (Boston University) he had become an atheist, a story he shares in the Prologue of his book, published in 2016: 10 Tough Problems in Christian Thought and Belief: a Minister-Turned-Atheist Shows Why You Should Ditch the Faith.

>>>>Photo Credits: Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=27127270 ; Fernando Alcantar, by Greg Dart ; By RobertMWorsham – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=50224944 ; https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:The_Creation__Bible_Historiale_(c.1411),_vol.1,_f.3_-_BL_Royal_MS_19_D_III.jpg#/ ;  Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 via Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Four_Horsemen.jpg#/media/File:Four_Horsemen.jpg

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • alwayspuzzled

    There is a very symbiotic relationship between atheist extremists and Christian extremists. In order to gratify their need to project their superiority, they need each other to be superior to. And who says God doesn’t provide?

    • Raging Bee

      The Christian extremists need the atheist extremists more — they need stereotypical uncivilized meanie atheists to reinforce their bigotry.

      • alwayspuzzled

        The atheist extremists need the Christian extremists more — they need stereotypical uncivilized meanie Christians to reinforce their bigotry.

        Symmetry!

        • Raging Bee

          Imagined symmetry. We’re perfectly capable of refuting religious BS without depending on bogus outdated stereotypes.

          • alwayspuzzled

            “religious BS”

            This is the use of a stereotype. Perhaps atheists are as self-deluding as Christians. More symmetry!!

          • Iron Chariots

            “religious BS”
            Not a stereo type, just the truth.
            Read the bible and see for yourself

    • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

      When xtian extremists cease their attacks, atheist militants will disarm.

      Just not unilaterally or when under threat.

  • wannabe

    I hope we’ll have more articles by Dr. Madison in the future.

    • Linda_LaScola

      He is a regular contributor here and at Debunking Christianity.

      • wannabe

        Thanks! I’ll be on the lookout.

  • Tawreos

    I hate it when I get to the end of a post and the only thought I can come up with is “Ditto”. =)

  • Raging Bee

    Speaking of homophobia, has any Pope said anything about the brutal persecution and mistreatment of LGBT people — and their “propagandists” — by Orthodox Russia and Muslim Chechnya? Or is mending that ancient Roman-vs-Eastern-Orthodox schism more important than standing up for the oppressed?

    • Tawreos

      I think it is more like don’t get in the way when someone else is doing the work you want done but can’t ask anyone to do.

  • Mark Jones

    Firebrand atheism/Militant atheism/New Atheism have been disasters as of late. In the United States, Americans have sharpened their views against atheists since a survey was taken about a decade ago (see: https://cla.umn.edu/news-events/news/atheists-remain-most-disliked-religious-minority-us ). In China, which has the largest atheist population on the earth and whose leaders practice militant atheism (most atheists in the world are East Asians), Christianity is seeing explosive growth (see: https://www.christianpost.com/trends/china-seeing-explosion-of-faith-as-underground-churches-drive-religious-revolution.html ).

    • Linda_LaScola

      Are these your own, original thoughts? They sound more like talking points copied and pasted from a fundamentalist Christian website.

    • Raging Bee

      Firebrand atheism/Militant atheism/New Atheism have been disasters as of late.

      Really? Was atheism more popular or prevalent before “Firebrand atheism/Militant atheism/New Atheism” came along?

      • Tawreos

        I think someone just likes to string a bunch of unconnected statements together and then believe that they have made a cogent argument for…something.

      • Mark Jones

        Please read the article: The world, the USA and the UK since the launch of the New Atheism movement back in 2004. The data shows the New Atheism movement failed at: https://examiningatheism.blogspot.com/2019/04/google-trends-data-for-usa-since-launch.html as it gives information which points to “in your face atheism” failing.

        • Raging Bee

          My company’s nanny-ware flagged that site. Also, it’s a Blogspot site, not an actual news source. I’ll look again later, but offhand, I’m not impressed.

    • Geoff Benson

      Sheer wishful thinking on your part!

    • Mark Mathews

      Mark, you are correct. Especially about China. Atheist authors like Loftus and Madison, who engage in caricature, sarcasm, and emotional venom, more frequently than anything substantive in their arguments, are obnoxious in their tone and I wonder how this helps their “cause”. I really do. Furthermore, as most atheists do, they seek to define what is “evidence” and if you don’t agree with their ground rules,then you are engaging in “special pleading” and a whole list of other out of bounds labels for theist args. It’s tiresome. Madison likes to talk about how religious thought arose from a bronze age, tribal group of dunderheads. But he ignores the influence of the Greek philosophical tradition which is hardly the realm of ignorance. Madison and Loftus types don’t even engage with thinkers like David Bentley Hart, or Richard Swinburne. Out of all the Atheist writers, Madison is the worst, especially for intellectual rigor.

  • Good response, David. I don’t know who this “Chris” guy is, but must be a fool. . .
    Seriously, I appreciate you taking the time to wade through my essay.
    I’m glad you found at least some of it salvageable.

    A couple responses back:

    The first line. I don’t think anything I say shows any “fear” of what I call orthodox atheism. I’m merely asking the question and exploring via what I know and experience. Later you say I’m “outraged.” Really? I’m certainly showing disappointment and pointing out reasons for that. How is that fearful or outraged?

    I voice many strong critiques of Xianity and supernaturalism in general in virtually all of my writing, so maybe this is primarily about degree or style or level of anger? My own book of exiting faith, “Life After Faith,” contains many critiques of faith, yet tries to emphasize the “Life After” part–the good beyond god, what non-belief offers as a positive alternative to faith. If the “good news” of atheism tends to be negative, incessantly focused on “clever” anti-faith arguments, well, that’s what I’m addressing.

    I DO include “in your face” atheism in my critique of OA, IF this is merely mean-spirited and directed at any and all believers. It’s often another way of “Diss them as they Diss unto you” kind of thing. Who needs that? Maybe Westboro church. . .but my rabbi or buddhist priest friend, my sister, my wife?

    It’s great we have so many books coming out, about coming out! As one commenter suggested, it just seems some “newly atheist” people are “coming out” and that means dumping a lot of anger. As I say, good for them, but who is listening to that? More rational voices would be more helpful, and communicate. . . IF we really want to communicate with someone other than our own echo chamber. (some see themselves as “atheist apologists” but just as with “Christian apologists” most other people aren’t interested).

    Yes, aggressive atheism HAS found an audience, just as aggressive preachers have. I suppose I just hear the shouting and change the channel. And I think most people do.

    I DO take account of the “damage” caused by religion. In other places, I address that. Here, I try to offer a balance, drawing upon long experience with many good stories of good things done by people of faith (and let’s please include more than Fundamentalist Christians). Why should this make anyone mad and want to argue?

    David, when you say, “Religion bludgeons the world,” you are affirming my point that this kind of overstatement is unhelpful at best. Do you not know ANY people who believe in ANY divine being who are not bludgeoning or poisoning or deluding the world?

    You also mis-characterize that I say not to “take sides.” Is that all I said? Of course not. Looks like you missed what I said just a few lines later: “How can we work together to question and confront those who want to beat their theism or their atheism into swords?” I’ve advocated for justice and inclusion for decades (and alongside LGBTQIA friends and family too), so I don’t take this lightly! I’m emphasizing Humanity and Humanism here, not blind nonchalance.

    You, and some others, may get upset because I’m not caught up in endless “pissed-off-ness,” but I would hope the thrust of the essay was holding a mirror up to those who might find more good out there, and more allies, if they take the time to look deeper and wider.

    As Linda likes to say, we need ALL the atheist voices. Mine seems to be unpopular, but I would just add that we need to listen to more than our own voices.

    Thanks again, David, for your thoughts.

    • Linda_LaScola

      Your voice is popular with me, Chris. So is David’s.

      • Linda_LaScola

        The comment I responded to was NOT intentionally marked as spam. DOn’t know how it happened It’s a perfectly fine comment by Chis Highland and will return somehow, sometime soon.

  • Steve Buckley

    Wow.
    Interesting article.
    Well, the only thing that strikes me as important to respond to is your list of items that you say can’t be called love.

    I’ll agree that if we use your definition– which you never actually defined, and so leaves us with an undefined, nebulous concept of love— of love, nothing I hold as true, right, beautiful, lovely, pure, praiseworthy and honorable can be defined as love.

    Thankfully, God actually does define love for us, and I happen to think it’s far more profound and powerful than whatever your as yet undefined version is.

    Love is patient
    Love is kind
    Love is neither boastful nor rude.
    Love doesn’t foist itself on others, nor forcefully get pushy.
    Love takes no delight in wrong, and takes great delight in the truth.
    Love bears all things
    Love believes all (in spite of everything thrown at it to make it give up)
    Love endures all (it never quits, no matter how much hate is thrown at it)
    Love hopes all (it looks to engage and focus on bringing the very best to the table).

    Love will never fail.

    The problem with your undefined version of love is that it lacks a basis for reality, beyond how you perceive it. So there can be no truth in your version.
    Truth is the essence of love, because it starts and ends with the person of Jesus.

    So, this is the love that God brings to the human race .

    You included.
    Yes, you included.

    Have a great day.
    Jesus Loves you !!!!!

    • Steve, you will no doubt hear some angry pushback here, but you identify what may be the heart of the matter. If love was the center of faith and atheism, maybe we could figure out how to get along better and do some good for our world, together, we could hope.

      • Linda_LaScola

        In my opinion, it’s unnecessary to prepare Steve for “angry pushback” unless any disagreement with his point of view would be considered as angry.

        It is pretty provocative to come onto an atheist site saying “Jesus loves you” and that our “undefined version of love… lacks a basis for reality….” and that “…there can be no truth in your version.”

        • Steve Buckley

          I agree. Very provocative .
          I however have repeatedly been accused of being provocative simply because I am alive.
          So. No. I didn’t think your comments were angry push back.
          I think David’s comments above were far more angry and pushback than anything anyone else has said thus far.

          While I hadn’t prefaced my background ,allow me to do so here.
          I’ve been following Jesus for over 41 years now. I’ve been reading the bible for as long.
          I’ve been talking with atheists and agnostics online dating back to at least 2003, perhaps to 2001.
          Moreover, I am a stage 4 metastatic melanoma survivor and have lived through far worse than atheists have been capable of throwing at me. I’ve lived with my cancer for 32 years this summer. I’ve been told for 20 years now that I am classified by my oncologists as an actual miracle. So, yeah…. provocative is an understatement.
          So, I’m not particularly concerned about angry pushback.
          I’m generally pretty easygoing.
          If I sense an argument solely for the purpose of winning a fight, I know how to handle myself, and generally shut them down because no argument exists that can definitively prove or disprove the atheist is right about God.
          Knowing God is a life experience not an academic argument or philosophical construct.

          • Linda_LaScola

            Good for you — beating cancer. Have you ever wondered why God spared you and not other good Christians with cancer?

          • Steve Buckley

            Hi Linda.

            I’d like to say,
            You’re kidding, right?
            But let me say that living with instead of dying because of a cancer that typically kills within one to two years has had a major effect on my life.
            I’ve had 6 surgeries.
            I’ve lost parts of my insides that have resulted in a complete change of my life.
            A lost career. A couple of associates degrees, a stint studying physics, a couple of new careers, learning to program, creating a computer program in 3 different platforms, and languages.

            Living with cancer, while watching loved ones die of their own respective diseases and cancers.
            So….
            Yeah…. I’ve asked a lot of times.
            The only thing that I’ve been able to ascertain is that God takes no delight in anyone’s death.
            He’s given me the opportunity to learn how to live a full life and know him.

          • Linda_LaScola

            God may not delight in it, but he does it, while he chose you to live – for a while.

          • Steve Buckley

            Good morning Linda.
            Everyone dies. Death has a rather unique effect on the human race.
            1 out of 1 people die. Nobody escapes death .
            People have tried . entire movements exist for this purpose.
            Transhumanism, post humanism.

          • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

            You don’t know your ‘bible’ very well, do you?

            Elijah & Elisha for two, didn’t die that we know of, AND

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

          • Geoff Benson

            I’ll answer your survival question in one word and one name.

            Statistics. Stephen Hawking.

          • Steve Buckley

            Gee. I’m glad to see that humans understand so much about this when several doctors with at least as much experience as the now dead doctor Hawking can attest to the reasons for why I’m still alive and cancer free.
            Kind of sad that you have to trust someone who you don’t actually know, while claiming that my medical professional staff don’t know enough.

            Thank you for your input.
            Have a great day.

          • Geoff Benson

            I’m not sure I understand, but I think I can guess at what you’re saying.

            What I am saying is that doctors, in the interest of patients (I’m not a doctor, but my family consists of several) say what is best for the patient. If a patient recovers well from an ailment, and especially when the statistics were against them, then they might refer to that in different ways. Doctors, in the main, know that the world, and medicine, is natural. There is no supernatural interference. On the other hand, many of their patients don’t feel the same way and if they want to believe they are the beneficiary of a miracle then a doctor is unlikely to disagree openly. Of course, this leads to outrageous, sensationalist newspaper headlines of ‘doctors stunned by miracle’, and other such nonsense. No they weren’t stunned, they were very pleasantly surprised when an unlikely recovery takes place, just as they are saddened when something routine goes wrong.

            I mentioned Stephen Hawking simply because one could regard his extraordinary longevity as a ‘miracle’ (though as one nasty christian commentator put it, he was a puppet of the devil). Of course it was actually just a matter of statistics.

          • Steve Buckley

            In general I don’t have a problem with your description.
            I do however have a point where I will state the following.

            I’m not the one who has been using the term miracle.

            My doctors have. Since 1999.
            Every time I walked into their office and they did their medical exams, tests, imaging diagnostic procedures, etc….
            The results would return and they’d respond,
            Well Steve. I don’t know what to say but this is definitely a miracle. There’s no other way around it.
            After a few years it went from being this is miraculous to
            Steve, you are a walking miracle! There’s no other way to say it.

            A thousand different ideas can be thrown out there to try to describe or explain it. But as your family members who are doctors are familiar with the biology beneath it…..
            Cancer doesn’t stop on its own.
            It requires an intervention to repair the cellular damage.
            I’m not concerned that you discount the supernatural.
            I’m alive regardless of whether you agree or not.
            No medical doctor has ever been able to succinctly explain it.
            Thus to them…. I am a miracle.
            I’ve been asking for years now for anyone to do a write up on this.
            So far no one is motivated.

            If you have an oncologist in your family, ask them if they are interested.
            I’m a physicist and have a fairly good grasp of the atomic structure and have long been curious about how to hash through this.

          • Geoff Benson

            Well I’m delighted for you, whatever the underlying reason. As you say it would be interesting to see a paper on the subject from your doctors.

          • Linda_LaScola

            I think, based on the research I’ve conducted, talking with physicians across the country and with scientists at NIH, that the reason no one will write an article about your miracle is because they know it would never get published in a respected professional journal.

            Such an article must be based on scientific facts, and until medical science figures out what caused your cancer to go away, there won’t be a scientific article about it.

            I’m very happy for you that your cancer has gone into remission for such a long time and hope that someday soon, medical science can figure out what happened, so many others can enjoy a similar outcome.

          • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

            Two words, this time: “spontaneous remission”.

            It happens, and you don’t have to be an xtian to benefit from it…even animals can experience spontaneous remission.

          • Steve Buckley

            Here’s a physics concept for you.

            Spontaneous remission caused by what?
            Perhaps the concept of cancer isn’t in your experience or knowledge base.

            My doctors have described it to me as follows.
            Cancer, once started is limited only by the limits of the host. Once the host body is no longer able to sustain and feed the cancer the body dies.

            Cancer is a molecular mutation of normal healthy cells. A switch in the cell that tells the cell that its life cycle is complete breaks, and the cell grows unchecked and out of control, passing its broken genetic code through the body until it reaches the limit of the body to sustain it.
            Therefore for cancer to spontaneously cease growing it requires a reset of the genetic code that allowed it to begin in the first place.
            Nobody has ever been able to observe this take place but they understand that it has to occur for cancer to stop dead in its tracks.

            So, you can indeed claim spontaneous remission but that’s just a fancy term for we have no idea why it happened. It just did.

            What you want to define using spontaneous remission my medical doctors with decades of experience and education have called a miracle.
            Not once, not twice but dozens of times for 20 years now.
            Thank you for your clearly lacking information.

          • Linda_LaScola

            Your doctors may have called your absence of disease a miracle but I assume they have not diagnosed it as a miracle, because that is not medical terminology. “Spontaneous remission” is, and beyond meaning that the disease ended on its own, it means something like “we medical professionals don’t understand what happened, but we’re hoping to someday so we can help make it happen for others.”

            A religious miracle is something “God” decides to do for one person. In contrast, medical treatment is more widely available.

          • Steve Buckley

            Linda,
            So far you, Chris, AP, and Elizabeth have been the most respectful towards me.
            Why would you assume what you have no idea about?
            Is that a common practice amongst atheists?
            Instead of assuming, try asking.
            It makes this a far more enjoyable conversation if you ask, instead of trying to guess about things you have no background or awareness about.
            Thank you.

          • Iron Chariots

            Your imagining a god did something is as valid as you imagining a pixie did something.
            Without evidence you have pixies

          • Linda_LaScola

            Actually I have a lot of awareness and background. I have conducted qualitative research with physicians for a long time and have a handle on how they think about many issues.

          • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

            Kindly look up the word ‘spontaneous’, then get back to me.

            Not everything requires a mind motivating a cause.

          • Steve Buckley

            So your claim then is that spontaneous means miracle, and magic, and faith.
            Bit you’re not actually allowed to use those words because you’re a magician and that’d give your secrets away.
            Ok.
            Thank you for letting us know that.

          • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

            So?

            You’ve had excellent medical personnel, then.

            If you don’t believe me, try limiting yourself to praying when the cancer reoccurs.

          • mason

            it’s a delusional experience … after thousands of years of abuse by Christians, they have more coming to them than just “angry pushback”

          • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

            Your aliveness doesn’t disturb me in the slightest.

            Your arrogant assertion of rightness without a willingness to provide corresponding *evidence*, and to try to force others to live by your shared delusion, is what angers me.

          • Steve Buckley

            Here’s an article about this idea.

            https://kenboa.org/apologetics/20-compelling-evidences-that-god-exists/

            The question is whether or not you’ll take the time to learn more.

          • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

            I debunked this elsewhere in this thread.

            The very first point is 3 easily debunked lies.

            Based on that, it would be a waste of my time to look any farther, as most arguments start with their strongest point(s).

            You’re a real one-trick pony, aren’t you?

          • Steve Buckley

            Calling something a lie without actually working through them doesn’t make them debunked.
            It just means you don’t know what debunk means.

      • Steve Buckley

        Hi Chris.
        That would indeed be interesting.
        I suppose the only problem I see is the difference between the love David doesn’t describe yet espouses with great enthusiasm and the love that God has given us, but David considers to be hatred.

        I don’t really know how to cross this wall that everyone who rejects the reality of God and Jesus .

        It says in the bible that those who fear God hate evil. Proverbs 8
        It also says that God delights in those who fear him psalm 147.

        Jesus said something that has always intrigued me as well as made me wonder why he said it.

        Unless you hate Father, mother, siblings, etc…. yes, including your own life, you cannot be my follower.

        In another place he said,
        Do not think that I came to bring peace to the world. No. I came to bring a sword. To set a man against those of his own household.

        I’ve been following Jesus for over 41 years now. I’ve read, and prayed, and asked others about these.

        The only thing that I have been able to understand is that God hates the destructiveness of sin on the human race so deeply that he’s calling a people who will love him so much that their natural love for family and friends and their own lives will appear as hatred towards those who are not believers.

        The idea of the sword as opposed to peace is that people who don’t believe him are in stark opposition to what we love that they would war against us.
        Even David says, and my whole reason for responding, that no matter what anyone says, what we call love he views as hatred.

        So….. while I do indeed appreciate your comments, with so great a divide between the views of those who reject Jesus and the bible, and those who fully believe the bible, how are we able to accomplish this?

        No matter how much we love– by God’s definition of love– non believers will always view us as hating, based solely upon their own non-defined views of love……

        • Linda_LaScola

          Could be that the insurmountable problem is that atheists, non-christians and liberal Christians don’t take the Bible literally, as you do.

          I will let Chis speak for himself, but I would say that I accept that you believe as you do and I don’t believe that way myself.

          I won’t try to talk you out of your beliefs and wish you would not press yours onto me and others like me. Keep in mind that many people who are now atheists were once Christians who have thought things through and come to a different conclusion. We are not afraid of the hell you want to save us from because we don’t believe in it.

          • Steve Buckley

            Hi Linda,

            I would agree with your statement that liberal “believers” and atheists don’t see the world as I do, and as a result believe that my views are radical.
            you will never however see me or other Jesus followers brandishing weapons in the same manner as do radical Islamists.

            The reason why is this:

            I’d say that the distinction is what John says in 1 John 2.
            The things of this world, the evil desires of the flesh, the evil desires of the eyes, and the pride of life are not of God, and those who adhere to them are in opposition to God.

            So, the next thing is that we have been given the opportunity to learn more about Jesus and the impact he’s had on the human race.
            In short, without extensive lists of bible verses, God has introduced himself to us, and has been teaching us who he is, who we are in light of his nature, and design for us, and we are learning who Jesus is and what he’s done on our behalf.

            This is the basis for the “radical” perception and perspective changes in our lives.

            Because each of us are so unique in the way we learn and understand, we’re all at different stages of our lives and knowing God.
            But be clear here…. God actually does give us the complete package to know him.
            This is the entire purpose for why Jesus came to earth.

            Our job as Jesus followers is to make him known so everyone may have the choice to know God, and become adopted children and sons and daughters of God.

            So, I’m ok that people don’t believe as I do.
            It’s everyone’s own eternity where they want to spend their’s.
            Jesus came to give life to all.
            The only people who will be excluded are those who exclude themselves.

          • Iron Chariots

            Everyone is excluded from things that don’t exist.
            Although folks can imagine things are real and turn them into their personal reality.
            There is a high possibility you are one of these people.
            May I suggest when refering to bible god or bible Jesus, you actually provide evidence they exist before attrubuting anything to them.
            I can only hope that one day you think about the Jesus story honestly to find its rediculous nature.
            You should know your fantasies aren’t my reality.

          • mason
          • Iron Chariots

            Thanks. The ultimate sicko that is bible god has no show in reality

          • Steve Buckley
          • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

            I debunked this elsewhere in this thread.

            The very first point is 3 easily debunked lies.

            Based on that, it would be a waste of my time to look any farther, as most arguments start with their strongest point(s).

            Again…

          • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

            WE GOT A *NO TRUE SCOTSMAN* HERE!!!

            😉

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          Nope.

          You don’t get to use that until you’ve demonstrated it’s more than a shared delusion.

          • Steve Buckley
          • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

            I debunked this elsewhere in this thread.

            The very first point is 3 easily debunked lies.

            Based on that, it would be a waste of my time to look any farther, as most arguments start with their strongest point(s).

          • Steve Buckley

            Debunked?
            Not even remotely.
            All you did was call the first three items lies.
            If you call that debunking, you’re using a dictionary I’ve never seen before. Care to provide that dictionary?

      • mason

        Chris … surely you know atheism has no center but non belief in any of the BS deities. Human history is clear that love is not the center of the Abrahamic religions.

        • alwayspuzzled

          “atheism has no center but non belief in any of the BS deities”

          According to this, atheism is not an assertion about objective fact. Instead, it is an assertion about the subjective state of mind of the atheist – non belief, just as belief is an assertion about the subjective state of mind of the theist. Interesting symmetry.

          • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

            Belief is subjective, period.

          • ElizabetB.

            the term and its uses are really interesting… thanks for exploring

    • Linda_LaScola

      I don’t think this qualifies as “angry pushback” but it is a critical comment. You claim that “Truth is the essence of love, because it starts and ends with the person of Jesus.”

      This leaves out not only atheists, but people of other non-Christian religions. Yet, non-Christians can experience love just as much as anyone else.

      • Steve Buckley

        Hi Linda.
        How indeed….
        Jesus is the one who said,
        I AM the Way, The Truth, and the Life. No one can come to the Father except through me. John 14:6.
        The type of love that Paul describes in 1 Corinthians 13 is the love that God has for us. In the Greek language it’s the term, agape.
        It’s a completely different kind of love and is based entirely upon the value that the lover places on the beloved.
        It’s totally independent of the responses, and reactions to the lover’s actions and attitudes by the beloved.
        I.e, the beloved may fight against the love with great rage. But the lover keeps going.
        It’s only when the beloved drops their guard, and barriers to defend themselves and open their heart and mind do they see they truly are loved, do they get to enjoy the power of such great love.
        Thus, Jesus is described as an husband, a friend who sticks closer than a brother, the one who went all the way to death and was raised from the dead by God so that he would demonstrate his love for us.
        That’s the power of God’s love for you, towards you, indeed the entire human race .

        So, can you, do you, are you able to actually love to that degree?
        I know that I have failed. Thankfully, God’s love doesn’t quit.
        The premise is that we can indeed experience love, but apart from the power of God in our lives, our ability to expess love is truly finite.

        • mason

          more twisted Evangelical love blather … the message of a pitiful Hebrew God who declares, “I’m so pitiful you must love and worship only me or I’ll burn your ass forever.” Sick, sick, sick.
          “Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I came to set a son against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man’s enemies will be the members of his household. -Jesus character, Matthew 10:34

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/c6ca1fd5423554469e3536d84505ee53510da4ca926464689abc8c50586ce19f.jpg

          • Iron Chariots

            A magical tree that bible god put there in the first place.
            Making sure it bore the most delicous and attractive fruit on the planet.
            Containing an “evil force ” that bible god created.
            A talking snake that bible god put there in order to ‘deceive’, that bible god knew would be sucessful.
            Bible god wanted ‘its creation’ to remain ignorant but also knew ‘its creation’ through that snake would gain knowledge so it could punish.
            Bible god, the sickest most messed up character in the history of fact or fiction.

          • Steve Buckley

            Hi IC.

            These things would actually be amusing if they weren’t so telling about your power of imagination, assumption, and guesswork.
            Here’s the only real problem I have with your ideas…..
            A complete disconnect between what is known today, about today, and what is not known in history.

            Beyond that, thank you for a great laugh.

            If you ever reconnect with the idea that your lack of knowledge and experience with history, simply because it’s not documented in a manner that satiates your ego, let me know.
            Have a great weekend.

          • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

            Hey, it’s not OUR fault you’re refusing to accept the black-letter text because it deflates your preconceptions.

          • Steve Buckley

            Just out of curiosity,
            Who pissed in your face, and what makes you such an angry person?

          • Iron Chariots

            I can’t see any reason in what you say except more practise for you in not addressing anything in reply.
            Steve, are looking for the prize of the most delusional poster on this site?
            You’ve just stepped up a few place with that one post.
            Congrats

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          I don’t believe you.

          Demonstrate it’s anything other than fiction before you try to tell me how to live life based on it.

          • Steve Buckley
          • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

            I just did.

            Christianity encourages critical questions, discourages naivete, and offers factual reasons to believe its astounding claims.

            – The first clause is a lie, as you’ve been evading answering critical questions here
            – The second clause is a BLATANT lie, as there is zero evidence for xtianity but one is *required* to believe DESPITE the lack of evidence
            – The third clause is pure bulls**t, as xtianity has been trying and failing to do this for about 2 millennia now, and I also note that it makes the claim but doesn’t deliver the goods (the actual *factual* evidence…arguments are NOT reasons)

            Based on that manure pile IN THE VERY FIRST POINT, why should I waste any more time on it?

          • Steve Buckley

            Then you have exactly what you want.

            10 and with all deception of wickedness for those who are being lost, because they didn’t receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved.

            11 Because of this, God sends them a working of error, that they should believe a lie;

            12 that they all might be judged who didn’t believe the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

            Because you did not receive the love of the truth, and took pleasure in unrighteousness, God will give you the delusion that you seek.

            It’s actually quite sad.

    • alwayspuzzled

      It would probably be well if atheists and Christians took to heart another famous line from ICor13 – “through a glass, darkly”.

      • Steve Buckley

        Hi ap.
        While this sounds good, in the other letter to the Corinthians it states that those who do not believe Jesus are blinded by the God of this world.
        Paul is explicitly talking to people who are following Jesus.
        So, if we who follow Jesus see through a smoky window, and the rest are blinded, just how does that work?

        • alwayspuzzled

          If you are a biblical literalist, God bless you, but there is no point in reading this comment.

          Actually, in II Cor Paul was not “explicitly talking to people who are followers of Jesus.” He was explicitly talking to people who were followers, or hoped for followers, of Paul. He was seeking to reestablish and perhaps expand his apostolic authority in Corinth, where it was being eroded by competitors. By implication, it was those who did not accept Paul’s apostolic authority who were ‘blinded by the God of this world.”

          Of course, as the Jesus movement evolved into the institutional Christian Church, Paul won out over the competition and he was recognized as the primary apostolic authority. One of the things that made him so popular with the institutional leadership of the 3rd – 5th century Church was that his writing validated the leadership’s strategy of saddling the laity with Original Sin, which could only be relieved by the sacramental operations of the institutional Church.

          Anyway, although Paul’s use of “through a glass darkly” is disingenuous, it still has a lot of epistemological punch. It is all of Wittgenstein in four words.

          • Steve Buckley

            Hi AP.

            Actually, the first few verses of 2 Corinthians explicitly stated that it’s written to the “saints in Corinth….” i.e., Jesus followers.

            Also, the people who were being blinded were those who were perishing.

            Eg,

            3 Even if our Good News is veiled, it is veiled in those who are dying,

            4 in whom the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving, that the light of the Good News of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should not dawn on them.

            The concept of original sin as detailed in the bible is simply that Adam passed the genetic code through his lineage down through the ages.

            The genetic code is the spiritual death that Adam brought onto himself and his progeny.
            This spiritual death has passed down throughout the entire human race.

            The spiritual death is why we are prone to sin. It’s why we are cut off from God and are unaware of his existence.

            Whatever later institutional church governance sought to accomplish, they too were affected by spiritual death. Any basic read of institutional church history shows clear corruption and manipulation by leadership. The clear goal of preventing people from reading the bible for themselves.
            So, seeing through a glass darkly may carry weight with the inexperienced, but like the medieval institutional church, it’s promoting ignorance that is manipulative and counterproductive to learning the truth.

            I find it difficult to understand why atheists would actually want to act in this manner.

          • alwayspuzzled

            “that Adam passed the genetic code through his lineage”

            The theory that Original Sin is transmitted by sexual intercourse comes from Augustine, who is famous for having said, “Lord make me chaste, but not quite yet”. Augustine himself did a lot of transmitting, without benefit of matrimony. There is a message there somewhere.

          • Steve Buckley

            Good morning AP.
            I wouldn’t know. I’ve never read Augustine. Tried a couple of times, but it was just too dry for me.
            I’ve gotten this idea simply by reading the bible for 41 years.
            So, perhaps where Augustine got it was from reading the bible too.

            Nobody has ever provided a more reliable description for this, so I’m good here.
            Thank you for the history lesson.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          So?

          That’s just a delusion protecting itself.

          Common in psychology.

          • Steve Buckley

            Ironic.
            That’s what the bible says you’re doing exactly that.

            10 and with all deception of wickedness for those who are being lost, because they didn’t receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved.

            11 Because of this, God sends them a working of error, that they should believe a lie;

            12 that they all might be judged who didn’t believe the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

            Your entire collection of posts sum this up to the T.

    • So, this is the love that God brings to the human race
      You included.
      Yes, you included.
      Have a great day. Jesus Loves you !!!!!

      You’re joking, right? This is useless sentimentality, AND is a profound misreading of the New Testament. You gotta be IN the Jesus cult to qualify for God’s love. The bad theology of John 3:16: whosoever believes will have eternal life. If not, you’re out of luck. Romans 10:9. You have to say with your lips and believe in your heart that Jesus was raised from the dead to be saved. Let’s not get all gushy about the Jesus who says in Luke 14:26 that you have to hate your family to be his disciple. Yes, the Greek word miseo means HATE. And Luke’s context shows what he was up to by including this text. To Luke, it was not an embarrassing things to have Jesus say. He had his agenda to protect and grow the cult.

      • Steve Buckley

        Hi David .
        nope. I’m not joking at all.
        Nor am I embarrassed with what Jesus said.

        And I’ve already explained my point on hate, and love.

        You know what would be nice, since you said that we can’t call God’s laws love….

        You provide a clear definition of love.

        And since you clearly don’t believe that the bible is true, give us something that is not in a constant state of flux because humans are constantly changing their minds and ideas about life.

        Thank you.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          Nor am I embarrassed with what Jesus said.

          It’d be interesting to watch your reaction if you were fed this line and told that Muhammed said it.

          • Iron Chariots

            Yes Steve would be selective in what he coats with teflon

    • ElizabetB.

      Hi Steve! Happy to hear your good health outcome!

      About love — I’d say the ICor13 description could certainly be the missing definition of Fernando Alcantar’s 5-item list. When someone is patient, kind, modest, respectful, truth-loving, enduring, loyal, hopeful, they will resist harming someone, which anti-glbtq actions do. I know Christians differ profoundly on whether such “anti” actions are harmful — for me, decades of studying, discussing, and reflecting have me firmly agreeing with Alcantar and Christians who see his list as in no way contradictory to Paul’s beautiful words. From my point of view, it’s so tragic for people striving to live into this love to be unintentionally causing such harm to others. I appreciate your dialoging here; thanks

      • Steve Buckley

        Hi Elizabeth.
        Ok. I’ve found Alcantar’s blog. But I’m not able to find anything that would be called the 5 item list. Do you have a link for it?
        Thank you for your kind comment regarding my health.
        It’s a pleasure to be alive and able to breathe fresh air.

        • ElizabetB.

          Thanks for the followup!
          I was replying to your comment about love and ICor13, which I thought referenced David’s quotation of Alcantar in the Original Post here — David quotes Alcantar as saying,
          “1. If you support Christian charity organizations like the one in the article, the Salvation Army, and other Christian anti-LGBT groups, you can’t call it love. You can’t.
          2. If you attend a church or school that promotes marriage being only between one man and one woman, you can’t call it love. You can’t…..” etc.

          David’s quotation in the OP here sounds like Fernando’s comment was originally on FaceBook, but I didn’t see it there, only here. Sorry to send you off into the wilds of cyberspace!

          Yes, Spring here is a joy!

          • Steve Buckley

            Oh. So the “if you….. you can’t call that love” list of David’s that initially brought me to respond is the approved, sanctioned list of what atheists classify as love?

          • ElizabetB.

            It’s a partial list of what Fernando Alcantar says is NOT love. David is quoting from Fernando’s list of things that can NOT be called love, as Fernando responded to the article “America’s Biggest Christian Charity Funnels Tens of Millions to Hate Groups.”

            When you offered ICor13 as a definition of what CAN be called love, I observed that that fits Alcantar’s quotation exactly. When someone aspires to love that is patient, kind, modest, respectful, truth-loving, enduring, loyal, hopeful, they will resist harming someone, which anti-glbtq actions do.

            I said that I know that Christians differ among themselves about whether such “anti” actions are harmful — for me, decades of studying, discussing, and reflecting have me firmly agreeing with Alcantar and Christians who see his list as in no way contradictory to Paul’s beautiful words. From my point of view, it’s so tragic for people striving to live into this love to be unintentionally causing such harm to others.

          • Steve Buckley

            Hi.
            You know what I see with the list?

            Unless you approve of and condone my behavior, regardless of how destructive it is to my humanity and wellbeing you’re acting in a hate filled manner towards me.

            I don’t, nor have I ever understood that mentality. In fact, it actually reminds me of a child who throws temper tantrums in order to get their way.
            I understand people who want to live the way they want, and don’t care about the consequences for choosing.
            I lived like that for years.
            But eventually I began to realize that the people who loved me were deeply hurt by the choices I was making.
            So, this is why I asked for what the definition of love, from the atheists perspective is. Not what it isn’t.

            I have no idea how people here were treated before I came. I won’t even try to guess. It’s clear that only a couple of people here have engaged in reasonable terms.
            I’ve given myself to over 19 years of engaging with unbelievers on the internet and it’s been consistent throughout the entire time.
            Angry, and getting angrier still.
            I’m actually surprised that there hasn’t been a war that’s broken out. Although in China, the atheist government has been attacking Christians for the past several years.

          • Linda_LaScola

            There’s nothing angry or hateful about Elizabeth.

          • ElizabetB.

            just wishywashy : )

            (except on compassion, and seeing condemnation of beloveds who are not straight as a grievous mistake)
            .

          • Steve Buckley

            I ran across an article last night about this idea yesterday.
            It’s actually quite educational .

            A guy goes for a drive one nice sunny day and once he reaches a corner of the road, the bridge is gone and there was no warning or signs, so he drives off the road, and plummets to his death.
            https://sonsoflibertymedia.com/the-day-i-learned-my-fathers-heart-part-2-god-gave-his-law-because-he-loves/

            I hope you read the article.

          • ElizabetB.

            The problem is, what to do when people have such different ideas of what the danger is. If we were applying 2,000-year-old medical books to people today, we might still be bloodletting… googling it just now, I see that George Washington may have died as complication from the bloodletting that was administered the day before. I think we must listen to people who are telling us how our ministrations are affecting them. President Washington’s attenders respected and admired him; they were doing the best they thought possible; but tragically they were possibly unwittingly causing his death. (BC Medical Journal)
            https://www.bcmj.org/premise/history-bloodletting

            Actually, I see very slight evidence in the Bible for not welcoming beloveds who are not straight. The 6 passages in the whole Bible that are usually pointed to are literally very weak (several hinge on a single word of uncertain meaning), whereas the whole trajectory of the Bible is toward greater and greater realization that once abhorred groups (like us Gentiles) are honored parts of the family.

          • Steve Buckley

            ???
            I don’t see where I said she was angry or hateful about Elizabeth.

            I was talking about the list, apparently the Alcantar list of what love cannot be.

          • ElizabetB.

            Steve, I think Fernando is expressing the pain that he feels, naming some of the things that bring him pain…. it’s hard for me to see how that qualifies as “hateful” ….

          • ElizabetB.

            Thanks, Steve…. I was trying to say that ICor13 can be a shared definition of love, valued by theists AND non-theists.

            I notice that Fernando’s list takes us away from a difference between theism and atheism, and focuses instead on the difference between people who celebrate faithful beloveds of whatever gender, and those who believe that anything other than straight beloveds is “destructive to [one’s] humanity and wellbeing.” Both views contain people of all religions and no religion.

            I think of Fernando’s list as describing his own hurt, not as hurtful to others.

            When I first became aware of these questions, back in the 70’s, one thing that made me pay attention to what people who are glbtq were saying, and made me study the questions, was the stories of Jesus I had read all my life — how he seemed to be constantly in trouble with customs of the day, as he put human need ahead of tradition. Now in our day, we have to decide whether the tradition of straight-only is part of the enduring moral law, or part of the cultural tradition we have inherited and which needs in its turn to be revised. I think too about Jesus’ saying, “I have much more to say to you, but you cannot bear it yet.” And his teaching, “By their fruits you shall know them,” and I know so many people who are not straight, yet who really overflow with the fruit of the spirit — love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. I celebrate faithful beloveds of whatever gender, and hope the hurtful condemnation and discrimination they face will soon be in the past.

            That is an interesting vocation, dialog on the internet! Thanks for the comments!

    • mason

      Finding anything decent, moral in the so called “Bible” and not the twisted message of a fascist totalitarian Hebrew God & Son is like dumpster diving in the worst part of a trashy neighborhood. Bible Jesus style “love” is twisted sociopath love of the most pathological nature. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/5908802165a35bd567e4815eedb4c71fdbd8254d679dbda87b558230f3d261ea.jpg

      • Steve Buckley

        Hi Mason.
        You know the truly sad thing about this is….

        When judgment does come, it’ll be your own words that you will be judged by.

        As you want, so shall you receive.

        Have a nice weekend.

        • Iron Chariots

          Hi Steve,
          You’ll probably find that your sick judgement day fantasy is not an atheists reality.
          “sick”? Yes. Anyone who comes up with infinate punishment for anything is the sickest of beings.
          But bible god doesn’t hand out this punishment for killing babies.
          No bible god hands out infinate punishment, just for not beliving in something unbelieveable.
          Yes that is sick alright

          ” One time I was asked if I was afraid I would go to hell for being an atheist. I said sure, to the same extent that you are afraid of being eaten by a dragon. She replied ” but dragons don’t exist”.
          I suggested she look up the definition of the word Atheist and then think about what I said.
          Do you understand?

          • Steve Buckley

            God morning IC.
            I studied physics at the university north of where I live. Throughout my studies, my advisor would tell us about people who would come in or write really detailed letters to the department claiming that physics wasn’t real, and they didn’t believe it.
            We’d typically laugh about it and move on.

            When people tell me they don’t believe that hell is real, or that God is not real, I’m consistently reminded of my physics professor who was the department chairman and the stories of people who would assiduously argue that physics wasn’t real.

            The thing that I’ll say here is that it doesn’t require your belief to be real.
            It only requires your belief in Jesus for you to escape the judgment due your sin.

            All you have to do in order to ensure that you go to hell is exactly what you’re already doing. Don’t change a single thing.

            If however you do decide you’re not interested in spending your eternity in a place not designed for you, and would rather spend your eternity in a place prepared for you from the beginning of the world, and explicitly designed for you, come to Jesus.
            He’s got this.

          • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

            You’re *demonstrating* physics (quantum physics, in fact), just by being on the Internet with a computer.

            Provide a similar demonstration for your ‘god’ or admit it’s a childish terror you’re protecting from exposure.

          • Iron Chariots

            “It only requires your imagining something is true without any evidence in Jesus for you to escape the judgment due your sin.
            Maybe you too should look up the word ‘atheist’
            And read the bible honestly to find what a dispicable imaginary being you worship.

            You attempt at prothletising is bizarre and makes me wonder if you read anything I said.
            You remind me of a biologist who was employed by the ‘Ark Encounter” being interviewed…
            Interviewer: So you follow the scientific process and see where the evidence leads.
            Biologist: Sure. It’s an essential process
            Interviewer: So what do you do when the evidence goes against your bible beliefs. There is a lot of this evidence.
            Biologist: I just go with what the bible says
            Interviewer: Do you see anything wrong with that?
            Biologist: No, not at all.

            The biologist is totally blind to his corruption of thought and actually sees this corruption as a virtue.

            Steve, there are many gods you don’t believe in. Thousands of them. Pity you can’t apply the same critical thought process that makes these thousands of gods clearly imaginary, to the god you do imagine is real. Take the teflon off your god.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          As usual, as soon as YOUR KIND is losing, the pathetic attempts at threats come out.

          I don’t believe in your supernatural fantasy, and accept the fact that, per science, when I die my mind is gone and my body is slowly cooling, rotting meat.

          I don’t accept your ‘soul’, so nothing to BE tortured, as you’re martyrbating about.

    • mason

      You probably think men who beat their wives love them. Evangelical Jesus style “love” is theistic sadomasochism at it’s worst. “Happy is the one who seizes your infants and dashes them against the rocks.” Psalm 137:9
      “Their children also shall be dashed to pieces before their eyes… and their wives ravished.” Isaiah 13:16

      • Steve Buckley

        Hello again Mason.

        Instead of assuming what I think.
        Why don’t you try asking.
        I’ve never really understood why atheists have such a difficult time with this idea.
        Tell you what though.
        I’m heading to bed now for the night.
        Please read Ephesians 5, vss 25 thru 33.
        Then read 1 Peter 3, vs 7.

        I realize that it’ll be a real challenge to focus on just those passages, but since you clearly believe that you are justified in your views, I just gave you the job description of how God expects husbands to treat their wives.
        I skipped the parts that describe the wife’s job description.

        Something that most people have a difficult time with is that God created woman to be the man’s help mate. Not his slave, nor his servant, nor his ruler.
        An equal in every way, but the man is the one with whom the buck stops.
        I.e., God holds the man to account for his treatment of his wife and his family.

        Have a great night.
        Sleep well.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          I don’t believe your book any more than I do Harry Potter books.

          So why should I waste my time on it?

          • Steve Buckley

            Well, if that’s true then why are you wasting your life arguing with people who you don’t believe exist?
            Sounds rather whacked to me.
            Go live a more enjoyable life. Especially when it’ll be over faster than you can fathom.

            Since you don’t think you will exist once you die, is this really what you want to spend your brief 70 to 90 years on?
            Sounds like a waste to me.

          • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

            Well, if that’s true then why are you wasting your life arguing with people who you don’t believe exist?

            Typical strawman.

            YOUR KIND exist….the object of your shared delusion, I doubt.

            And when YOUR KIND just believe without trying to foist it on the rest of us ACTUALLY GOOD people, I’ll be as quiet as a mouse.

            Don’t demand that atheists unilaterally disarm, though…it ain’t happening.

          • Steve Buckley

            Nobody forced you into this website.
            Nobody forced you to read my comments.
            Nobody is forcing you to type out your rants.
            I’m here because I want to be.

            If you’re feeling forced, then you’re doing that all by yourself without any help from me.

            Here’s a novel idea.

            Since you’re so convinced that you’re right, why don’t you actually read the bible for the purpose of understanding.
            This way you can actually know what you’re talking about, and people with whom you engage just might take you seriously.
            Oh. And change your user name.
            Hairy eyed word bomb thrower sounds like a radical Islamist who lost their face in a failed suicide attack.
            It gives me the sense that you’re a pathetic person who lost their way, and needs to feel important, but can’t quite get it up without stepping on others to feel justified.
            It really is sad.

          • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

            You assert.

            I argue.

            You refuse to support your arguments.

            It’s really easy to see.

            Why should *I* quit?

          • Steve Buckley

            This isn’t an argument.
            Had you stopped long enough to take the time to read and understand what I’ve been saying you would have recognized that.

            Furthermore, it’s clear that a discussion isn’t what you are interested in, so why would I want to engage with someone who isn’t actually listening?

          • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

            As long as you keep pushing nonsense, I’ll keep on replying.

            It’s *fun*

            🙂

    • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

      Until you can demonstrate this ‘god’ of yours, that’s so much pretty poetry.

      • Steve Buckley

        Good morning Bomb thrower.
        Looks to me like your user name is the description of your modus operandi .

        YHVH has demonstrated himself for millennia.
        Granted the only way for you to actually recognize this is by learning.

        YHVH has demonstrated himself by the existence of the Jewish people and the Israeli nation.

        You can read more about it in the bible.

        The other day I read an article about this in wikipedia regarding the growth of the middle east and near east. It was quite elucidating.

        But, if your mo really is just throwing word bombs, then it seems unlikely that you’ll actually take the time and personal responsibility to read.
        Which is too bad.
        Have a great day.
        Ciao!

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          Bunch of assertions, but no evidence.

          I want evidence as real as gravity, or wind, both of which exist whether one believes in them or not, and both of which can help/harm one in obvious/measurable/REPEATABLE ways.

          • Steve Buckley

            If the existence of a genetic lineage of people isn’t obvious, measurable and reproducible, you need to learn more about life, and quit hiding behind excuses.

          • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

            The genetic evidence of people has demonstrated that humanity has NEVER experienced a bottleneck of exactly two, one male, one female.

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

            We also, genetically, are a minor offshoot on the hominids, with less variation than chimpanzees inside their own species.

            Genetics demonstrates that your ‘bible’s story doesn’t match reality.

          • Steve Buckley

            It’s still Male and female.
            Just like the bible says.

          • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

            Genetics, once again, shows your ‘bible’ is heuristic at best.

            Look up ‘intersex at birth’.

            Better still, here’s the wikipedia link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intersex

        • “You can read more about it in the Bible?”

          Seriously? You come into a group of non-believers and think we don’t already know much more about the Bible than most people who still believe?

          • Steve Buckley

            Good afternoon Lerk.
            If you guys know more than others, you’re sure not demonstrating that.
            What I’ve observed on this site are a lot of seriously twisted, totally wrong, aberrant and corrupted views of the bible.
            It’s like someone threw a bunch of scrabble letters on the floor and you guys have piecemealled ideas together from bits and pieces.
            It’s no surprise that you guys are so angry. If I viewed the bible the same way I’m seeing here, I’d never even be willing to open my mouth to bible believers.
            I don’t know what happened to make you so angry about the bible, God and Jesus, but one thing is absolutely clear and certain.

            Nothing that’s been posted here, including David’s article are accurate in respect to the bible.
            I see tons of belief, more opinions than I can bury in the Pacific ocean, but not one lick of truth.
            So, unless it’s now illegal to carry on a conversation about differing positions, and punishable by assassination, yes.
            I am here, and I am challenging the status quo.
            I think that unless you actually like living like ostriches and shoving your head in the sand, it’s a genuinely healthy and responsible thing to carry on discussions on this topic.
            Unpleasant, sure. But still healthy and responsible, as well as important.

          • Linda_LaScola

            Steve — You seem rather harsh and angry in the comment.

          • Steve Buckley

            Hi Linda.
            Ok. I’ll byte.
            How is it that I seem angry and harsh?
            Because I have a perspective that differs from the status quo of those who normally post here?

            The atheist forum that I normally engage on– the posters often tell the believers have the problem of only talking amongst themselves and because they don’t consider the opinions of atheists and agnostics, they’re most susceptible to confirmation bias. Because they only hear what they want to hear.

            It seems to me that the atheists here are doing exactly the same thing, and anyone who has a different perspective is angry and harsh.
            Where I come from, we call that inbred.
            Closing off outside ideas prevents learning and knowledge and understanding.

            I’ll leave you with the following article.
            I encourage you to read it .
            I’ll be honest and tell you that it’s the complete antithesis of the approved world view promoted here.

            https://www.beliefnet.com/faiths/christianity/articles/how-can-a-loving-god-send-anyone-to-hell.aspx?utm_content=buffer2af69&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook&utm_campaign=ILJC

            Whatever you choose, I hope you find the truth. I can assure you that the angry atheism I view here is not it.
            Have a great life.

          • Geoff Benson

            There’s hardly a trace here of what I’d describe as ‘angry’ atheism. There’s perhaps frustration that you fail constantly to grasp the point that is being made, something I understand but decided was pointless engaging further.

            You repeatedly use the bible to support your views, yet it is clear that, as atheists, nobody here sees the least point. If the bible is to be considered reliable then you must demonstrate this without quoting it! If I were to argue about evolution I wouldn’t ever refer to Darwin’s Origin of Species, I’d point at the vast accumulated evidence since it was published. And that’s your problem. The only evidence for the bible is the bible, and the fact that it contains (very) occasional matters of scientific or historical fact, or odd snippets of wisdom, doesn’t render the whole compellingly true. Quite the reverse. The bible reads as it always was, a mix of folklore, pragmatic imperative, deluded imagination, and fraudulent presentation.

  • Good response, David. I don’t know who this “Chris” guy is, but must be a fool. . .

    Seriously, I appreciate you taking the time to wade through my essay.

    I’m glad you found at least some of it salvageable.

    A couple responses back:

    The first line. I don’t think anything I say shows any “fear” of what I call orthodox atheism. I’m merely asking the question and exploring via what I know and experience. Later you say I’m “outraged.” Really? I’m certainly showing disappointment and pointing out reasons for that. How is that fearful or outraged?

    I voice many strong critiques of Xianity and supernaturalism in general in virtually all of my writing, so maybe this is primarily about degree or style or level of anger? My own book of exiting faith, “Life After Faith,” contains many critiques of faith, yet tries to emphasize the “Life After” part–the good beyond god, what non-belief offers as a positive alternative to faith. If the “good news” of atheism tends to be negative, incessantly focused on “clever” anti-faith arguments, well, that’s what I’m addressing.

    I DO include “in your face” atheism in my critique of OA, IF this is merely mean-spirited and directed at any and all believers. It’s often another way of “Diss them as they Diss unto you” kind of thing. Who needs that? Maybe Westboro church. . .but my rabbi or buddhist priest friend, my sister, my wife?

    It’s great we have so many books coming out, about coming out! As one commenter suggested, it just seems some “newly atheist” people are “coming out” and that means dumping a lot of anger. As I say, good for them, but who is listening to that? More rational voices would be more helpful, and communicate. . . IF we really want to communicate with someone other than our own echo chamber. (some see themselves as “atheist apologists” but just as with “Christian apologists” most other people aren’t interested).

    Yes, aggressive atheism HAS found an audience, just as aggressive preachers have. I suppose I just hear the shouting and change the channel. And I think most people do.

    I DO take account of the “damage” caused by religion. In other places, I address that. Here, I try to offer a balance, drawing upon long experience with many good stories of good things done by people of faith (and let’s please include more than Fundamentalist Christians). Why should this make anyone mad and want to argue?

    David, when you say, “Religion bludgeons the world,” you are affirming my point that this kind of overstatement is unhelpful at best. Do you not know ANY people who believe in ANY divine being who are not bludgeoning or poisoning or deluding the world?

    You also mis-characterize that I say not to “take sides.” Is that all I said? Of course not. Looks like you missed what I said just a few lines later: “How can we work together to question and confront those who want to beat their theism or their atheism into swords?” I’ve advocated for justice and inclusion for decades (and alongside LGBTQIA friends and family too), so I don’t take this lightly! I’m emphasizing Humanity and Humanism here, not blind nonchalance.

    You, and some others, may get upset because I’m not caught up in endless “pissed-off-ness,” but I would hope the thrust of the essay was holding a mirror up to those who might find more good out there, and more allies, if they take the time to look deeper and wider.

    As Linda likes to say, we need ALL the atheist voices. Mine seems to be unpopular, but I would just add that we need to listen to more than our own voices.

    Thanks again, David, for your thoughts.

    • Linda_LaScola

      You’re back! good — I hope this comment sticks. I’ve reported the banned commet to the tech team, so maybe your original (identical) comment will re-appear as well.

      • Linda_LaScola

        Chris’ Comment was deleted AGAIN. How weird! I’ve contacted Patheos about it. Meanwhile, here it is again:

        By Chris Highland
        Good response, David. I don’t know who this “Chris” guy is, but must be a fool. . .

        Seriously, I appreciate you taking the time to wade through my essay.

        I’m glad you found at least some of it salvageable.

        A couple responses back:

        The first line. I don’t think anything I say shows any “fear” of what I call orthodox atheism. I’m merely asking the question and exploring via what I know and experience. Later you say I’m “outraged.” Really? I’m certainly showing disappointment and pointing out reasons for that. How is that fearful or outraged?

        I voice many strong critiques of Xianity and supernaturalism in general in virtually all of my writing, so maybe this is primarily about degree or style or level of anger? My own book of exiting faith, “Life After Faith,” contains many critiques of faith, yet tries to emphasize the “Life After” part–the good beyond god, what non-belief offers as a positive alternative to faith. If the “good news” of atheism tends to be negative, incessantly focused on “clever” anti-faith arguments, well, that’s what I’m addressing.

        I DO include “in your face” atheism in my critique of OA, IF this is merely mean-spirited and directed at any and all believers. It’s often another way of “Diss them as they Diss unto you” kind of thing. Who needs that? Maybe Westboro church. . .but my rabbi or buddhist priest friend, my sister, my wife?

        It’s great we have so many books coming out, about coming out! As one commenter suggested, it just seems some “newly atheist” people are “coming out” and that means dumping a lot of anger. As I say, good for them, but who is listening to that? More rational voices would be more helpful, and communicate. . . IF we really want to communicate with someone other than our own echo chamber. (some see themselves as “atheist apologists” but just as with “Christian apologists” most other people aren’t interested).

        Yes, aggressive atheism HAS found an audience, just as aggressive preachers have. I suppose I just hear the shouting and change the channel. And I think most people do.

        I DO take account of the “damage” caused by religion. In other places, I address that. Here, I try to offer a balance, drawing upon long experience with many good stories of good things done by people of faith (and let’s please include more than Fundamentalist Christians). Why should this make anyone mad and want to argue?

        David, when you say, “Religion bludgeons the world,” you are affirming my point that this kind of overstatement is unhelpful at best. Do you not know ANY people who believe in ANY divine being who are not bludgeoning or poisoning or deluding the world?

        You also mis-characterize that I say not to “take sides.” Is that all I said? Of course not. Looks like you missed what I said just a few lines later: “How can we work together to question and confront those who want to beat their theism or their atheism into swords?” I’ve advocated for justice and inclusion for decades (and alongside LGBTQIA friends and family too), so I don’t take this lightly! I’m emphasizing Humanity and Humanism here, not blind nonchalance.

        You, and some others, may get upset because I’m not caught up in endless “pissed-off-ness,” but I would hope the thrust of the essay was holding a mirror up to those who might find more good out there, and more allies, if they take the time to look deeper and wider.

        As Linda likes to say, we need ALL the atheist voices. Mine seems to be unpopular, but I would just add that we need to listen to more than our own voices.

        Thanks again, David, for your thoughts.

    • mason

      Great response Chris … loved you opening satire line. 🙂

      Coming from a rather liberal theistic background, I surmise you have difficulty relating on a visceral level to those of us who came out of the Evangelical cult. Yes, we do indeed need all the atheist voice. I also you think you tend to think we of my more aggressive atheist voice spend time fomenting with theistic neighbors, friends, relatives, who are theists, when this is not the case. I haven’t had even a single encounter like that. All the nasty personal stuff I’ve heard about, and it’s a whole lot, is when Evangelicals attack a person who has become post-theist. Most of the cultural war of atheism vs theism is occurring in books, programs, formal debates, social media.

      That’s why I conclude the Chris guy you mentioned is not a fool, but does have a Don Quixote complex. IMHO irrational theistic belief/faith and science are not reconcilable. Peace bro. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yy5yWdVHv3o

      • alwayspuzzled

        “Most of the cultural war of atheism vs theism is occurring in books, programs, formal debates, social media.”

        Exactly!!! Especially social media.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          I’m detecting a case of “WAAAaaaah!! S/He hit me BACK first!!!”

          • alwayspuzzled

            Does your comment have an English translation?

          • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

            It doesn’t require one, to anybody who understands colloquial English and contempt.

          • alwayspuzzled

            Interesting. Contempt seems to be the high bar for both atheist fundamentalists and Christian fundamentalists. Good thing you have each other.

          • HairyEyedWordBombThrower
    • At the very end of your response to my article, Chris, you mention Linda LaScola’s observation that “we need ALL atheist voices.” There is such a wide range of these voices, to be sure, and we tend to gravitate to those that capture our own sentiments. And I would resist being herded into an ‘orthodox’ atheism, as if even a lot of voices could set the standard. All the voices have a role and a place.

      I do get your concern: “If the ‘good news’ of atheism tends to be negative, incessantly focused on ‘clever’ anti-faith arguments, well, that’s what I’m addressing.” But my argument is that the focus on anti-faith arguments—whether incessantly or not—needs to be maintained, precisely because this approach does have an impact. Maybe there has been a need for an aggressive phase (e.g., The God Delusion, God Is Not Great) to being some balance. Atheism finally out, and outspoken.

      But I will come back to one of my central points: There are so many examples of religion bludgeoning the world (yes, I think it’s appropriate to say this), which are not outweighed by thousands of acts of generosity performed every day by people of faith. These are touted so often, by the way, without giving credit to the thousands of acts of generosity performed every day by secular people. As if faith is required to be good and do good. And it is disheartening that decent religious people aren’t on the front lines resisting the bludgeoning done in the name of God, Christ, and correct doctrine.

      As I mentioned in my article, why isn’t there a Christian League Against Televangelism? Or a League of Catholic Laity for Planned Parenthood, in an effort to move massively against a church hierarchy stuck in extremely harmful mediaeval policy? You acknowledge the amount of damage caused by religion (not sure why you put ‘damage’ in quotation marks); I just want to see Christians as upset and galvanized by these evils as much as secular folks can be. So much atheist anger is fueled by Christian inaction. The article I cited about the largest Christian charity funneling millions of dollars to hate groups: what a ghastly thing to have on the Christian conscience. What are they doing about it?

      You wrote: “I would hope the thrust of the essay was holding a mirror up to those who might find more good out there, and more allies, if they take the time to look deeper and wider.” Indeed, I would welcome religious allies who are aware of the damage that is done in the name of faith, and who are obsessed about cleaning house from within. Please, what can they do about Jim Bakker and Pat Robertson?

      Despite our differing here on the Rational Doubt Blog, Chris, I don’t feel we’re really that far apart. No matter how much we disagree about nuances and approaches, we are allies. There are niches for your approach and for mine—and I agree that we should resist expectations about any “orthodox atheism.”

    • At the very end of your response to my article, Chris, you mention Linda LaScola’s observation that “we need ALL atheist voices.” There is such a wide range of these voices, to be sure, and we tend to gravitate to those that capture our own sentiments. And I would resist being herded into an ‘orthodox’ atheism, as if even a lot of voices could set the standard. All the voices have a role and a place.

      I do get your concern: “If the ‘good news’ of atheism tends to be negative, incessantly focused on ‘clever’ anti-faith arguments, well, that’s what I’m addressing.” But my argument is that the focus on anti-faith arguments—whether incessantly or not—needs to be maintained, precisely because this approach does have an impact. Maybe there has been a need for an aggressive phase (e.g., The God Delusion, God Is Not Great) to being some balance. Atheism finally out, and outspoken.

      But I will come back to one of my central points: There are so many examples of religion bludgeoning the world (yet, I think it’s appropriate to say this), which are not outweighed by thousands of acts of generosity performed every day by people of faith. These are touted so often, by the way, without giving credit to the thousands of acts of generosity performed every day by secular people. As if faith is required to be good and do good. And it is disheartening that decent religious people aren’t on the front lines resisting the bludgeoning done in the name of God, Christ, and correct doctrine.

      As I mentioned in my article, why isn’t there a Christian League Against Televangelism? Or a League of Catholic Laity for Planned Parenthood, in an effort to move massively against a church hierarchy stuck in extremely harmful mediaeval policy? You acknowledge the amount of damage caused by religion (not sure why you put ‘damage’ in quotation marks); I just want to see Christians as upset and galvanized by these evils as much as secular folks can be. So much atheist anger is fueled by Christian inaction. The article I cited about the largest Christian charity funneling millions of dollars to hate groups: what a ghastly thing to have on the Christian conscience. What are they doing about it?

      You wrote: “I would hope the thrust of the essay was holding a mirror up to those who might find more good out there, and more allies, if they take the time to look deeper and wider.” Indeed, I would welcome religious allies who are aware of the damage that is done in the name of faith, and who are obsessed about cleaning house from within. Please, what can they do about Jim Bakker and Pat Robertson?

      Despite our differing here on the Rational Doubt Blog, Chris, I don’t feel we’re really that far apart. No matter how much we disagree about nuances and approaches, we are allies. There are niches for your approach and for mine—and I agree that we should resist expectations about any “orthodox atheism.”

  • Iron Chariots

    The sucess of modern christianity is in large part due to the fact the followers can imagine christianity to be anything they want it to be.
    Imagining what they prefer while still getting the carrot that is a fantasy forever afterlife escape from mortality while at the same time avoiding the stick of a fantasy forever punishment for not following what they prefer to imagine christianity is.
    There are also many other hooks.
    Just a couple being,
    * The Jesus’s death guilt trip. Even though as part of a god he wouldn’t die anyway.
    * The ability of the christian to feel superior and ‘knowledgable’ without having to really do or acheive anything, Very much how prayer ‘works’.

    Many perceive the likes of Dawkins, Hitchens, Harris and Dennett as hardcore, while they are icebreakers, they really are a little soft on christianity considering the corruption of humanity they are addressing.
    Peter Boghossian does a good job of treding lightly in “A manual for creating atheists” and some of his material I have put to use in getting christians to the rare feat of actually thinking about what they believe.
    Steve Wells does a good job of exposing the “god is love” lie in his direct referencing of the bible in his book ‘Drunk with blood. Gods killings in the bible’
    Chris Matheson also does a good job of exposing the nonsensical nature of the bible god story in ‘The story of God’

    But there is a space for some really hard edge cutting critique of Chrisianity addressing its belief and its curruption of humanity.
    I know someone who is currently writing a book which hammers bible god but also shreads the Jesus is a good guy fantasy that most christians run to when ther god is exposed. I expect the book to be published next year. 🙂

    • mason

      Jesus the “good guy” … nah … just a fascist totalitatarian mythical Hebrew deity like his Dad. I’m sure this will be part of the “good guy” myth destruction.
      “Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I came to set a son against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man’s enemies will be the members of his household. -Jesus character, Matthew 10:34

      … “the likes of Dawkins, Hitchens, Harris and Dennett” are far far more civil and decent than the Evangelical apologists and their mantra parrot lines of damnation and hell fire threats.

      • Iron Chariots

        “…Jesus is a good guy fantasy that most christians run to …”
        This option is what has to be disolved and there is more than enough to do so.
        Bible Jesus/god are supposedly one, therefore the sickest of things bible god’s reported to have done is jesus.
        Dispite this, the victims of christianity, in this case its followers, still run to the Jesus fantasy with different versions of, “But thats god of the old testement. I follow jesus..”

        • Linda_LaScola

          The God of the old testament is Jesus’s Dad.

          • Iron Chariots

            god the father, god the son, god the holy spirit..
            The three are one
            But one can take bible Jesus standing alone and bury him in his own.
            To my knowledge this hasn’t previously been done, comprehensively and needs to be done to take away the perceived escape for believers when confronted with bible gods toxic character.
            Half way there with the help of my close friend spell checker 🙂

          • mason

            I and the Father are one … John 10:30 … it’s a mythical three horned fascist deity of the most despicable kind per the Bible https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/65726d11c8cd3dd3be167e62649ba4f5476615bbfa5da6fb282b5a15d9803558.jpg

    • Ohyetwetrust

      Well said.

  • mason

    David writes: “Jesus fails to qualify as a great moral teacher.” The understatement of the millennia. A demigod who runs his megalomaniac mouth like the mythical Jesus character did is no candidate for the Pulitzer Peace Prize, surely not a moral teacher but a very immoral teacher: “Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I came to set a son against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man’s enemies will be the members of his household. -Jesus character, Matthew 10:34 Talk like that only holds appeal for the die hard fascist personality fan who longs for the fascist King, the strong man, the celestial bully, to come rule the third rock from the Sun.

    Once an Evangelical clergy is willing to address the things they clearly know are immoral, but are suppressing, in the Bible God-Son tale, and acknowledge they’ve been bamboozled, and are now a bamboozler, the path to honest human integrity opens and the journey out of this tragic theistic cultural situation can commence.

    All totalitarian fascists mix in something that sounds good, like the mythical Jesus did. “As a Christian I have no duty to allow myself to be cheated, but I have the duty to be a fighter for truth and justice.” -Adolf Hitler

    Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/adolf_hitler_390849

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/65f2091bad5b7f940e00bd2c1afb957a6da26411cfbd0c9a2346b0eb29c6051f.jpg

  • See Noevo

    “Patheos NonReligious” used to be called “Patheos Atheist”.
    The change to the more ambiguous name was made a couple years ago.

    But neither name was apropos, given what one sees here.
    A more accurate title would be “Patheos In-Your-Face Atheism”.

    Regardless, I think it may well be the case that the more in-your-face atheism is practiced, the more in-your-face Christianity may be
    practiced.

    • Steve Buckley

      Hi See.
      I’d agree that the greater the level of “in your face atheism” is practised, the more Jesus followers are going to be “in your face” with the gospel and the bible.
      The Chinese government is clearly in the face of Jesus followers over in China and the church growth is through the roof.
      It happened in Soviet Russia and it’s presently happening in the Muslim world as well.

      The more difficult it gets for Christians who actually believe the bible the more God shows up in our lives.

      It’s well documented in the bible and the history of the church.

      • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

        Matthew 6:5-6.

        So go away and do your biblical duty.

        Also note that the ‘great commission’ is considered a later addition, and not likely part of the original xtian writings.

        • Steve Buckley

          Already at it.
          I don’t know what planet you live on, but here on planet earth, I’m not a catholic, nor a denominationalist.
          If you’re really that desperate to be right, and don’t actually want to know, then you’ve already got what you want .
          Nothing.
          I’ve been following Jesus probably longer than you have been alive. So your tantrums aren’t actually helping you.
          If you want to have an actual conversation, then drop the ego, because it’s really embarrassing to watch you keep shooting yourself in the face.

          • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

            You’re wading in here to annoy us, in a safe space we’ve constructed to get away from YOUR KIND and your incessant blathering in public.

            That alone establishes you as an ill-bred cur…which you seem happy to reinforce.

          • Steve Buckley

            Actually, I came here to make a statement about an article I read from a guy named David Madison.
            Numerous other people have since commented but you’re the only one who is being rude and self-righteous.
            I keep giving you the opportunity to become human but you keep putting your foot in your mouth.
            You’re more than welcome to walk away, or engage in adult conversation.

          • Linda_LaScola

            OK, you two, cut it out.

          • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

            Will do.

            I tend to give the Steves of the world short shrift.

      • Mike Panic

        IF your effing god has something to say it can tell all of us in person. It is, per your claims, omnieverygoddeamnedthing.

    • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

      When we come to your door, pound it down, and start screaming in your face about how there’s no god and how we’ll kill you to show it’s true (hypothetical), then you’ll have a point.

      Right now you’re just an a**hole demanding we tone our discourse to avoid bruising your feelings, you arrogant brat.

    • mason

      80% of Christians are liberals … it’s only the 20% absurd hell fire worshipers of the fascist style Bible God-Jesus that have always been the threats in your face brand of Christians. In your face atheists don’t threaten anyone, they merely point out the absurdities, bigotry, and immorality in the Evangelical nonsense.

    • Then why do you hang out here? Anyway, you’re wrong. There are a lot of Patheos Nonreligious blogs, and most are pretty tame. You just troll the ones where people are willing to engage you, so basically you cause something to happen and you “get to be right.”

    • Mike Panic

      Just as soon as you bring your sorry little god along for proof.

    • Mark Jones

      Here is one result of “in your face atheism”/New atheism: In June 2012, the UK based Dorset Humanists wrote: “There’s been a forceful backlash against the ‘new atheism’ of writers like Richard Dawkins and the late Christopher Hitchens, inspiring a new wave of Christian apologists. This group includes: Alister McGrath, Professor of Theology at King’s College London, Keith Ward, former Professor of Divinity at Oxford, and John Lennox, Professor of Mathematics at the University of Oxford. Many atheists make the mistake of assuming religion is wholly irrational, relying on faith alone but, in a series of interviews recorded for DVD, the apologetics heavyweights from the list above demonstrate their ability to challenge us with reasoned arguments.” (source: https://dorset-humanists1.blogspot.com/2012/06/philosophy-science-and-god-debate.html ).

      Humanists is another word for atheists. Even the atheists are now admitting that Christians have reasonable arguments.

      • Raging Bee

        Please specify these “reasonable arguments.”

        • Geoff Benson

          I see that you never got a reply to a perfectly sensible question. Not surprising; there isn’t one.

          • Raging Bee

            There isn’t?!! Wow, I don’t have the words to express how surprised I’m not!

    • Raging Bee

      Yeah Christians will get in our faces even more if you question their longstanding habit of getting on our faces every chance they get…

  • mason

    There is such a broad continuum of types of atheists available today, if one desires to be more specific type of atheist, other than the basic brand X non-believer in any deity. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/33807bf4c0fb33aaaa2a8932cce5834c465aa8effcd9083c1bb2538879679106.jpg