Stirring the Atheist Pot Again


— It’s Pretty Thin Gruel In The Atheist Pot! —


It’s funny… I constantly bump into people who simply cannot brook any disagreement. The following is a long post, but it contains a great deal that’s instructive about so many of the interactions I’ve had on the web in the past decade.

My interactions with the Left met with, as I kind of figured they would, vituperative defensiveness showing two things (1) the insecurity the Left has in its beliefs, and (2) the general lack of maturity and character on the Left.

I was surprised to find the same thing among the atheists. We’ll see it in the interaction below, in which I went to KIA’s site to mix it up with the atheists there. No, KIA doesn’t mean “Killed In Action,” as is the most common understanding of the acronym, but rather “Know It All.” KIA believes himself to be a Recovering Know It All. The recovery is not going well.

I mixed it up with several interlocutors there: KIA himself, as well as Arkenaten, Jill Smith and Shiarrael. Jill (who calls herself a Catholic Christian) and Shiarrael were interesting, and intelligent — if maybe overly concerned with fitting in with the KIA crowd — while Ark and KIA were more typical of the atheists I’ve encountered on line.

KIA tried, briefly, to be reasonable, but simply could not handle simple, but persistent, disagreement. His problem is that he thinks he… knows it all. Ark’s main weapon is potty-mouthed name-calling. He’s kind of a baby. And, of course, it’s widely accepted that the first sign that you’ve lost a debate is when you give in to the temptation to name-call and launch personal attacks. Ark begins with that.

Without further ado, I’ve reproduced in toto the exchange, with some in-line comments, in [brackets and red font] below.


[This is the original post. My participation began when I commented on this post]

Oh dear… not JB again…

“Atheism is a Religion like Abstinence is a Sex Position.” -kia

In their efforts to push a false equivalency that both Not Believing and Believing in God or gods require Faith without or even contrary to Evidence and involve a measure of Burden of Proof with those who Don’t Believe also bearing a responsibility to demonstrate That they don’t exist or grant the bold and unsubstantiated assertions of Believers even without Evidence for their claims… JB and someone who has a blog called The Wee Flea (what the heck?? Lol) again put forth the intentional and knowing misrepresentation that Atheism is a Religion and Atheists have a Belief System that they can be both converted TO and deconverted FROM. [This is largely incoherent, but I think KIA is trying to debunk the idea that atheism is a religion. I don’t pronounce on that in this exchange, but atheism certainly has certain important characteristics in common with religions, one of which is a degree of faith, as well as, in the case of the people below, a highly dogmatic(1) adherence to their “beliefs,” or to their “non-beliefs,” or to their “skepticism,” or to their “belief in their non-belief.” You’ll see the atheists in the following exchanges prove to be way more dogmatic in whatever it is they’re trying to say — than most Christians you’ll encounter.]

******

KIA

I can see calling moving from an atheist position, or even agnostic, could be called conversion to a belief, but how exactly would one ‘Deconvert’ from holding no belief in God or gods? Nonsensical and false equivalency

*******

To which once again I say, although I am not atheist, “Atheism is a Non Belief in God or gods, not a Belief that they do not exist. There is a difference with distinction here that the more dishonest and manipulative of Internet Apologists intentionally propagate.

“Proposing that Atheism is a Religion and a system of Belief is like saying Abstinence is a Sex Position.”

[This is a glib little bit by KIA, but I’m not sure that it stands up to scrutiny. Abstinence — that’s not involuntary, at least — is an affirmative choice not to do something. Man is a sexual being with sexual urges. Abstinence represents a choice to deny those urges, and not to engage in sexual activity, for whatever reason. If KIA wishes to stand by this analogy, then it rather better makes the case of the theist who argues that some atheists deny their deepest, innate urge to be with God, and, as I’ve said, they tell God to take a hike. Which God then does. The point: such people — again, if KIA’s analogy is apt — admit to the existence of God, but deny His sovereignty over them. Kind of a Theist-Atheist. Or a Croco-Duck (see further below in the Evolution discussion). Or a Tall-Short. Or a Pushmi Pullyu. Or a self-contradiction. We’ll see later on, that some in this discussion are okay with self-contradiction.]

Atheism is not a Positive Claim THAT God or gods don’t exist. Who would, with limited and imperfect knowledge and information ‘Know’ whether they do or not? Who honestly would claim to ‘Know’ either way? Theism and Atheism deal with Belief and Non Belief. I’m sure if you present your Evidence, fulfill your Burden to demonstrate the Truth of what you Believe to be actually in accordance with Reality, the Atheists would have No other choice to Believe what you say. [Not really: the atheist can, as I’ve said in the notes at bottom simply deny that the evidence is evidence. Ark does that all the time. The atheists in this discussion were able to remain unswayed completely by anything I had to say. And, of course, I don’t rule out the notion that it may have been my ability to express myself that caused that. In which case you do not have to go pound sand. In any case I absolve you from any sand pounding at all.] Whether they would follow, obey and worship your God on fear of Hell Fire if they dont… I’m not so sure, given the nature, morals and goodness of the God you represent.

But rest assured, Atheists don’t claim to Know and don’t positively Believe THAT God or gods do not exist. That’s just YOU playing dishonest and manipulative Word Games for your own benefit, [or you being paranoid.] so you can try to escape your own Burden of Proof to demonstrate the Truth of your claims for the God you represent. [This is an interesting and silly-seeming premise. Why is the denier’s burden of proof any less than the believer’s? Heck, don’t try to tell environmentalists that the “denier” has less of a burden of proof! But, seriously…  the believer has perceived God, and believed. The denier has not. The denier can no more disprove God to the believer — KIA even admits it here — than the believer can prove God to the denier. “Proof” — of God’s existence at least — seems almost irrelevant. It’s why Christians don’t talk of proof, but rather of “witnessing,” meaning talking about their experience of Him. God doesn’t have to provide evidence of Himself, He already has. It’s not our job to prove Him either, but rather simply to point out the evidence that’s all around already.] And they cannot Deconvert from Atheism because unlike Christianity, Islam or Buddhism… Atheism is NOT a Religion, system of Beliefs or Dogma. It’s a position of Non Belief in Your claims that there is a God or gods, that From their point of view You haven’t met your responsibility as Believers to demonstrate actually exist in Reality.

They might or would believe… but they don’t because You havent done Your Job. Do your job and stop trying to Flip the Burden to those who don’t believe you to prove you wrong, or your claims should be taken as True ™ by Default. It’s dishonest, manipulate and rude to say the very least. [More careless incoherence from KIA. Why, I wonder, don’t people re-read what they write? What does “It’s dishonest, manipulate and rude” mean? I’m sure that KIA meant to say “manipulative.” However, it’s tedious to need constantly to translate for a writer’s carelessness or poor proof-reading skills. Anyway, this is kind of my point. Christians aren’t, typically, trying to “prove” anything at all. A Christian understands that to “prove” God’s existence is as pointless as is the atheist’s demand that he do so. To “prove” God’s existence is, kind of by definition, beyond the scope of any person’s abilities. As is, I suppose, the ability of any person to understand any proof that God might offer. I used the example of God’s saying, “Fine! I’ll do it. He comes down, stands astride two oceans — in full view of everyone — picks up Mts. Everest, McKinley and Etna and juggles them like Jason Garfield. Then God replaces the three mountains in their original locations and holds His arms up high triumphantly. No one is hurt, and not a single living creature is even annoyed because of the astonishing display. “Good enough? Does that work for all you unbelievers? Okay now?” He thunders. And disappears. Immediately, an atheist says, “Was that a dream?” Another answers, “Must have been!” The first atheist responds, “But, how could we both have had the same dream?!?” “It happens,” answers the other atheist. “Everyone’s heard of mass psychosis. It’s science!” The response: “Like at Medjugorje? And Lourdes?” asks the first atheist. “Yeah,” says the second atheist, “just like Medjugorje and Lourdes.” And before you know it, the deniers are back in full denial. It’s not that all the deniers would be in full denial immediately, but in the upcoming months, after the furor dies down a bit, all the believers would, probably, continue to believe, while all the deniers, absent a few who would believe — and who probably would have come to believe anyway — would continue to deny. It’s why Christ, and His followers, stress the need for faith — ie belief beyond that which we perceive with our senses. I ended up trying to make that point repeatedly in the exchange below.]

I hope I’ve made myself Crystal Clear. Otherwise… pound sand.

-kia

[Oh, well… I guess the readers of this mess will have to pound sand, ’cause “crystal clear” it ain’t. Note how, KIA actually confesses that he continues to, well… “know it all,” despite his self-styling. He says —  right there in plain sight! — that if he hasn’t made himself “Crystal Clear” — his fault — then you are to go “pound sand.”  As if somehow you’re responsible for KIA’s weakness in self-expression. A know-it-all, genuinely trying to “recover,” would say something like: “If I haven’t made myself clear, please let me know what parts are unclear.” This is the phenomenon I’ve encountered time and time and time and time again with the Left and with atheists: the idea that if you disagree with them, then you’re the one lacking knowledge, insight, perspective… lacking correct thinking. In politics, this is called “political correctness.” You’ll hear echoes of political correctness running throughout the exchange below.]

223 thoughts on “Oh dear… not JB again…”

  1. The fact is, if their own position was strong enough they would not in a million years have any need to even defend their position of an all powerful etc god.
    Yet, in thousands upon thousands of years there has never been a god that has said:
    ”Step aside, Mister Believer and leave this to me. I’ll show these Atheists a thing or two.”

    Let’s be honest, if his own kid couldn’t get it right then what sort of omnipotent deity would require the somewhat less than awesome overwhelming super-powers of such internet luminaries as John Branyan and Mel Wild, to handle his earthly affairs and be entrusted to do a good job? [John Branyan is the “JB” of the title to the essay itself. You’ll notice that in the very first post, Arkenaten’s post drips scorn and contempt. If you read on, you’ll come to understand something: It’s likely that Ark’s just a bad person. Below, I debunked his main point — that God declines to run around proving Himself as non-believers insist He must, else they refuse to believe. What’s funny about all this is that I’ve been down this road with this bunch before, and they continue to say the same things over and over and over and over again. The point I make below should not be all that controversial. It’s definitely plausible. However, it’s a dagger thrust at a principal contention of the atheists — that they should be able to observe “proof” of God scientifically (2)– with their five senses — before they’ll believe.]

    Liked by 2 people

    • Dude: if God had said, ”Step aside, Mister Believer and leave this to me. I’ll show these Atheists a thing or two.” and then done something to prove His own existence, any atheist who had not seen it would deny it, and soon enough it would be — in man’s eyes — as if it had never happened. Hence the twin components of any belief system: evidence and faith. Without faith, no belief system whatsoever can survive.

      Ark: your problem is you never think through the things you say. You never envision anything outside of the pinched, crabbed little box in which your thoughts live.

      Best,

      — x

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      • So you do not believe your god is capable of providing evidence of his existence for the entire human population in an instant? You do know what the word omnipotent means, I take it?

        However , if you think such a feat is beyond your god then please, feel free to present whatever evidence you have.

        I’ll be leaving in a hour or so … [Note: Immediately Ark tries to deflect. I never said nor even implied that “my god” was incapable of “providing evidence of his existence for the entire human population in an instant,” just that there was no point in doing so on Ark’s terms. “Evidence” of God is all around us 24/7/365. Ark simply redefines the universe as: “not evidence.” Ark wants God to prove Himself to Ark in the way Ark wants Him to. My response is that “we’re supposed to dance to God’s tune, not the other way ’round.” It strikes me that that, also, should be uncontroversial.]

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        • Nope. I have faith in the nearly infinite capability of humans to deny even the things right in front of their eyes. That’s why we have leftists, atheists and other assorted half-wits. [It appears that I’ve begun the name-calling. Actually, I’m continuing the history of sharpish exchanges that Ark started several exchanges ago.]

          It’s — still called “free will,” and it’s why leftists, atheists and other assorted half-wits are the half-wits they are: Because they choose to be. 🙂

          Best,

          — x

          Liked by 1 person

          • To be clear. You do not think your god is capable of providing instantaneous evidence for his existence.
            So much for omnipotence …. [Ark’s frequently draws inferences unsupported by any actual evidence. It’s likely because he wants desperately to shoehorn anything anyone ever says into his preconceived notions, regardless of whether it fits.]

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            • Lol! You’re not too bright, are you?

              Omnipotence contains within it the ability not to act, not to coerce…. the ability to grant: free will.

              Duh!

              You’ve shown time and time and time again a complete inability to reason beyond the limited confines of your puny imagination.

              I await breathlessly all the famous Ark dirty words now…

              Best,

              — x

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              • No one is talking about your god coercing merely demonstrating their existence as per the claims of the followers/believers.

                So, do you think your god is capable of at least doing this?

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              • Lol! The ever hair-splitting Ark.

                Did you not read two posts back? There would be no point, as various half-wits would exercise their free will not to believe that it had happened. Even if it had happened right before their eyes. Hence the need for faith. Absent faith, only coercion would make non-believers believe, and coercion can’t be a part of free will.

                You keep demanding that God do as you wish, rather than the other way ’round. Again, not too bright.

                Best,

                — x

                Like

              • I am not arguing the merits or lack thereof of various leftists, atheists or halfwits, merely the capabilities of your god, to which you have stated he would not be able to demonstrate his existence instantaneously to the entire human population on earth.
                To me this is odd as there are ways other than a visual demonstration. Remember, you are limited to your very frail human sensibilities. We are talking about an omnipotent god who can do anything.

                Furthermore, I am not demanding your god do anything. As I cannot communicate with him I am left with Christians, such as yourself, who believe they are empowered to pass on the Good News.
                Oddly enough Hindus and Muslim have similar views concerning their perspective of god/s.

                Personally I would rather trust the word of this omnipotent god that listen to one of his lowly minions.

                Liked by you

              • Let’s take these one at a time, shall we?

                First, though… have you grown up a bit? Usually, when we’ve tusseled in the past, you’ve unburdened yourself of a whole passel of juvenile obscenities by now! If so, I approve! Now, could you try to open up your imagination a bit? I find myself arguing — all over again! — against really superficial stuff with you! Stuff that requires only the merest of efforts in order to expose its weakness. 🙂

                You Said:
                I am not arguing the merits or lack thereof of various leftists, atheists or halfwits, merely the capabilities of your god, to which you have stated he would not be able to demonstrate his existence instantaneously to the entire human population on earth.

                My Response:
                Pointless: Of course God could demonstrate — to all people simultaneously on the face of the earth— anything anyone might require that He demonstrate in order to prove His existence. That would be pointless, though, because such belief wouldn’t survive the first generation that didn’t see/hear/experience the demonstration. At which point, He’d have to do it all over again… In other words, God would constantly be having to do parlor tricks, proving Himself, dancing to the tune of His creation, rather than the other way ’round. Do you see why I exhort you to think things through? I know you don’t because you’re a Socialist too. Those who admit that embarrassing thing about themselves telegraph also that they’re not thinkers. It’s still, however, voluntary for you to be a non-thinker. You can choose to think too. You should try it.
                – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

                You Said:
                To me this is odd as there are ways other than a visual demonstration. Remember, you are limited to your very frail human sensibilities. We are talking about an omnipotent god who can do anything.
                My Response:
                Yep. There are other ways, and I’ve experienced many such demonstrations. Again, we have free will. I’d venture to guess that you’ve experienced many, many demonstrations of God’s existence… and simply chosen to ignore them. I’ve told some people about the overt, clear examples of God’s presence in my life. Most have listened with quiet respect. Others have said things like, “Oh, you only imagined that,” and the like. You, I have little doubt, would fall into both camps: You’d probably listen with quiet respect, and in your mind (yes, I’m imputing thoughts to you) would say, “Oh, he only imagined that.”
                – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

                You Said:
                Furthermore, I am not demanding your god do anything. As I cannot communicate with him I am left with Christians, such as yourself, who believe they are empowered to pass on the Good News.
                My Response:
                Yes, you are demanding that God prove Himself, or else, you say, how can you believe in Him? That God does not do parlor tricks is, for you, compelling evidence. You want Him to dance and sing and juggle mountains or the like, when the greatest parlor trick of all — the universe — is all around you 24/7/365. And, yes, you can communicate with Him. Quite easily. And He’ll communicate right back with you. You’re not well-versed in Christian belief are you?
                – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

                You Said:
                Oddly enough Hindus and Muslim have similar views concerning their perspective of god/s.
                My Response:
                Ooooooooooo… ys don’t say! Good gracious! People never get things wrong, do they?
                – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

                You Said:
                Personally I would rather trust the word of this omnipotent god that listen to one of his lowly minions.

                My Response:
                And yet, you’d still need… faith. After a while, trust me, you’d doubt even the evidence of your own eyes or ears or mind. It’s a human thing. After a while, without faith, you’d recommence demanding that God do parlor tricks for you.

                Furthermore, you, obviously, have not trusted the word of omnipotent God, so you contradict yourself right there.

                – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

                Best,

                — x

                Like

              • This is the only comment worth responding to. The rest is your usual diatribe, [This is the dismissiveness of the lazy. I responded to a couple of Ark’s questions, including the one where he sks me whether God is “capable of demonstrating…etc.” It was, apparently, an adequate response, because Ark declined to respond to it. I can’t rule out, of course, the possibility that Ark was simply too lazy to read the entire thing. This is the other thing about atheists… they tend to be intellectually lazy. I make the point below: If you’re a believer, then that’s just the beginning of your intellectual/spiritual/philosophical/moral/ethical/logical journey. If you’re an atheist, you’re all done… you can go back to your soap opera or sitcom. ]

                Pointless: Of course God could demonstrate — to all people simultaneously on the face of the earth

                Except that he doesn’t, and never has.
                So much for omnipotence.
                Next …

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              • Thank you for proving my point. Again. I’ll explain it for your less-than-adequate intellect: If He had, people like you would insist that He hadn’t.

                🙂

                Ark: I understand why you say you don’t like to respond to me. It’s because it’s so easy for me to point out the feebleness of your thinking. You always make it easy for me to make my point, because you generally end up making it for me.

                Next…

                Best,

                — x

                Like

              • No, you are still being obtuse.
                Recognizing the truth of something – that god had demonstrated his existence – does not mean that one would automatically worship this deity.
                Free will would still have to be intact so as to allow a person to make the choice to accept the terms offered by your god or not.
                ~
                To date all we have is the word of those who claim they have ”heard the word” or who say they are the duly appointed representatives of your god – priests, pastors, clerics vicars etc.

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              • Oh, you still have my last comment in moderation – which you saw fit to edit.,I notice, thank you for you concern.
                Are you afraid to release it now that your marvelous solution to the mass shooting has been shot full of holes?
                You truly are an ignorant rightist, home-schooled christian quarter-wit of the first order. [Ark’s comments on our blog tend to go to moderation, because he uses his potty mouth liberally. I’m not sure to which comment he’s referring, but I tend to edit out the garbage, then approve his comments pretty quickly. I’m also not sure why Ark’s referring to a post in our blog, over at KIA’s blog.]

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              • Thx ark. Reminded me to check spam. Fished on out from yesterday from Dylan that made it in there for some reason

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              • Long as you didn’t think that last terse reply was for you, KIA!
                He is behaving like a Nob as usual over on his own blog.
                He has a post up about how he has single- handedly solved the crisis of mass shootings at schools.

                Like

              • How about Dylan spending two days intentionally trying to misunderstand the definition of atheism… lol [This was a funny comment. KIA, Ark and others spend a lot of time coming up with highly complex definitions for atheism — involving things like “Agnostic Theism” and “Gnostic Atheism,” and more — and then chide this poor guy, Dylan Black, for not understanding it. What’s even funnier is that KIA and Ark both insist that atheism is a cinch to understand and that only idiots try to make it more complicated than it is. Dylan Black is making an honest effort to understand, and KIA and Ark make it all one whole heckuva lot murkier than it seems possible. Shiarrael and Jill do the same with a surfeit of what seems to be a strong desire to fit in with KIA et al.]

                Liked by 1 person

              • Probably because I’ve encoded subliminal advertising on how to make money on reverse mortgages in my posts. Those algorithms are getting better and better. ^_^

                Liked by 1 person

      • Based on what we run into on the internet, they are most definitely the best the various Churches could ever dream of.
        All the ”worst” humans tend to think. [Ark is nothing if not a condescending jerk, 🙂 ]

        Liked by 1 person

  2. @KIA So, my understanding of a person happening upon any particular premise, a person has three options A) Believe it is true B) Believe it is not true or C) Suspend judgment.
    It sounds to me that you are claiming that Atheism generally is described as suspending judgment on whether or not supernatural beings exists. I think you’re right in the most basic sense, but I think it understandably confuses a lot of non-atheists for a couple of reasons that makes it feel that Atheism is more like a belief that the supernatural does not exist. [Below, Ron says that there are, indeed, atheists who are convinced of the non-existence of God. Ron calls these people “Gnostic Atheists.” He distinguishes them from the Agnostic Theists, the Gnostic Theists and the Agnostic Atheists. Okay. I get this. However, KIA and Ark are sure that anyone at all who’s confused by all the possibilities inherent in the concept of “belief” — at least as far as KIA’s and Ark’s understanding of atheism is concerned — are idiots. However, that state-of-mind on the part of Ark and KIA indicates that they themselves, the ones who call themselves “atheists”… haven’t really thought about it all that much. No wonder they’re defensive!]
    In most cases when one suspends judgment, one doesn’t really have a strong opinion that “suspending judgment” is the only correct and reasonable way for everyone to believe. Typically, it’s understood that given different intuitions, personal experiences, and sets of information, either “Premise is true” or “Premise is not true” could be arrived at by a reasonable person. In regard to a lot of active online Atheists, there seems to be a strong antagonism toward anyone who holds that belief is the supernatural is true. This passion is translated as “Clearly, this Atheist thinks there is more reason to believe the supernatural doesn’t exist than to think that it does.” It often does not come across as “I don’t/can’t know” as I think you would agree more accurately defines the atheist position.
    The passion, I think, is what makes certain brands of Atheism appear to be a religion (and meet certain definitions of religion). It also come across as unjustified by the theist, since there’s not a good reason for actively believing against the supernatural. That’s why it seems like faith – a belief without perfect knowledge.
    To further illustrate the confusion, I would contrast belief in the supernatural with belief in The Flying Spaghetti Monster. I think it is fair to actively disbelieve in the FSM as an entity that exists outside of internet parody. That is to say “It is not true that the Flying Spaghetti Monster exists” is a belief that I hold and feel that I could defend. When met with antagonistic atheism, many Christians hear “It is not true that God exists” in the same way I’m saying the FSM doesn’t exist (regardless of whether or not that’s what the atheist believes). It’s believed that an Atheist should be able to defend that perceived premise. That’s why “Burden of Proof” demands get made by both sides. Does that make sense and does that sound to be on the right track?

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  3. @KIA So, my understanding of a person happening upon any particular premise, a person has three options A) Believe it is true B) Believe it is not true or C) Suspend judgment.

    It sounds to me that you are claiming that Atheism generally is described as suspending judgment on whether or not supernatural beings exists. I think you’re right in the most basic sense, but I think it understandably confuses a lot of non-atheists for a couple of reasons that makes it feel that Atheism is more like a belief that the supernatural does not exist.

    In most cases when one suspends judgment, one doesn’t really have a strong opinion that “suspending judgment” is the only correct and reasonable way for everyone to believe. Typically, it’s understood that given different intuitions, personal experiences, and sets of information, either “Premise is true” or “Premise is not true” could be arrived at by a reasonable person. In regard to a lot of active online Atheists, there seems to be a strong antagonism toward anyone who holds that belief is the supernatural is true. This passion is translated as “Clearly, this Atheist thinks there is more reason to believe the supernatural doesn’t exist than to think that it does.” It often does not come across as “I don’t/can’t know” as I think you would agree more accurately defines the atheist position.

    The passion, I think, is what makes certain brands of Atheism appear to be a religion (and meet certain definitions of religion). It also come across as unjustified by the theist, since there’s not a good reason for actively believing against the supernatural. That’s why it seems like faith – a belief without perfect knowledge.

    To further illustrate the confusion, I would contrast belief in the supernatural with belief in The Flying Spaghetti Monster. I think it is fair to actively disbelieve in the FSM as an entity that exists outside of internet parody. That is to say “It is not true that the Flying Spaghetti Monster exists” is a belief that I hold and feel that I could defend. When met with antagonistic atheism, many Christians hear “It is not true that God exists” in the same way I’m saying the FSM doesn’t exist (regardless of whether or not that’s what the atheist believes). It’s believed that an Atheist should be able to defend that perceived premise. That’s why “Burden of Proof” demands get made by both sides. Does that make sense and does that sound to be on the right track? I’m up a little later than I should be, so I may not do words good ^_^

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    • @ Dylan
      In all likelihood you would consider it a ridiculous demand from me that you produce evidence the Unicorn does not exist. , and would, justifiably so in my view, demand evidence that the Unicorn in fact does exist, especially if I have made such an assertion. [This is the sophism of Ark (and KIA). The unicorn was imagined as a fictional creature. God came to human awareness as a result of His efforts, not the other way ’round. That’s the article of faith that we Christians believe. There’s no need to “prove” the non-existence of a creature conceived as a myth. It also seems conceivable that the burden of proof on the denier to prove the non-existence of an entity that does exist, and that has a long tradition of eye-witness and other testimony to its existence, as their is to prove that entity’s existence. There are examples of every day faith — on the part of atheists and believers alike — of things that are beyond our senses. There are numerous scientific conclusions that require the layman to exhibit total faith in their truth or accuracy. An example? All of us, or nearly all of us, believe in atoms, but no one has ever seen one. Scientists tell us detailed things about the structure, actions, reactions, size, width and component parts of “particles” that they’ve never seen. And, if you want to obtain a degree as a physicist or chemist, you’d better repeat back exactly what you learn from professors who pass it along as received wisdom. Oh, they can provide all the numbers, and charts, and cool diagrams they want, but if the basic premises are wrong, then… there’s no such thing as atoms. At last not as scientists conceive of them. Another example? Okay: the vast majority of us believe the results that come back from the DNA identification services. Few understand beyond only the most superficial level how it is that these results come about, or more importantly… why or whether they’re correct. They have only faith. I wouldn’t know how to demand of a scientist to prove the existence of the atom, or to prove the validity and accuracy of DNA testing.]

      Why do you think the standards should be different for gods and especially the Christian god?

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      • Ark, would you say that atheism (our if you feel more comfortable only answering for yourself, you may do so) is more akin to suspension of judgment on the supernatural or an outright belief that the supernatural doesn’t exist?

        I don’t think that a supernatural agent needs to have natural evidence to have some reason for believing it exists.

        Additionally, If you believed in unicorns, I would be fascinated to know why, but I likely wouldn’t get aggressive about it, regardless of how much I think it’s silly. As it stands, I would likely say, “yeah, I don’t think your reasons are worthwhile” and move along.

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        • Additionally, If you believed in unicorns, I would be fascinated to know why, but I likely wouldn’t get aggressive about it, regardless of how much I think it’s silly. As it stands, I would likely say, “yeah, I don’t think your reasons are worthwhile” and move along

          Do you think it is reasonable, therefore, to expect similar behaviour from those who believe in Yahweh/Jesus and all other gods?
          Namely: keep it to themselves. [This is an interesting question from an atheist. There is a case to be made that Christians in the past have tried to impose their beliefs on others. However, a belief can’t be imposed, so Christianity is a proselytizing faith, unlike Islam where you believe or you die. The other creed in which you had to believe or die — at least in the last century — was: atheism. The Soviet Union, Communist China, Cambodia, Vietnam, North Korea, Cuba, Africa… more than 120 million murdered in the last century alone.]

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      • Sorry, posted early too soon.

        To be brief, I’m not sure what your asking – the unicorn believer isn’t keeping it to herself and the disbeliever isn’t interested in pressing the conversation…

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        • In an effort to be more succinct. First, there is no decree ordering Unicorn Believers to spread the word and I am unaware of any group that even believes in Unicorns. Though there well may be , as laughable as such a notion might seem!
          However, if you bumped into such a person – say chatting casually at a party, while wearing a I Love Unicorns T -shirt – and you asked for verifiable evidence for Unicorns you might get more than a little upset if they turned around and said: ”Prove there aren’t!”

          So, using similar criteria do you think it reasonable to:
          A) demand verifiable evidence from Christians for the god they claim is real?
          and
          B) to state one is an a-theist if one is completely unconvinced by the non-verifiable evidence the theist (Christian) has failed to present?

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          • A) I would consider that reasonable (demand may carry more implications than I’d like… Request would be more appropriate)

            B) I’m not sure if your point is about the definition of atheism or asking if I think it’s reasonable to call oneself an atheist. So, I don’t really care how you define a word you self identify as. And I can’t say it’s unreasonable, so yeah, is say it’s a reasonable position.

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          • If I can jump in there, Ark, I think it reasonable to demand verifiable evidence under two circumstances.
            The first is when Christians engage in substantial attempts to persuade you to believe as they do. I say “substantial” because not every Christian reference is an attempt at evangelism. If I said to you, “A man brought his parrot to church this morning, and the bird had one foul vocabulary,” it really isn’t necessary to demand an accounting of the evidence that persuades me to go to church. But if I say, “Ark, just where do you think you will be spending eternity?” I have opened a theological discussion in which you should be free to ask for evidence.

            The other circumstance is when a group of believers attempts to impose a specific religious requirement on people who do not share their beliefs. Obviously I do not mean the rules and laws on which most people of all or no faiths have agreed, such as laws against theft. But if a group of Catholics (improbably) demanded that every American of any or no religion must eat fish on Fridays, I had better be able to persuade you that there is a deity and that you need to follow his dietary plan (let alone having to persuade you that the Catholic understanding of God’s feelings about fish on Fridays is superior to that of every other faith).

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            • @ Jill.

              “A man brought his parrot to church this morning, and the bird had one foul vocabulary,”

              If he brought a chicken to church could we consider the bird had a fowl vocabulary?

              How do you feel about the view of the Catholic Church condemning contraception and thus consigning untold numbers of Africans (mainly) to death because of the HIV/AIDS virus?

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              • Interesting. I believe a great many Catholics ”cheat” in this regard, though am not aware of any that are so open.
                They would probably be regarded as lapsed Catholics, much as my wife is, though she still considers herself as Catholic! ( yes, culture is a difficult thing to pry us apart from, I guess, right?)
                Why do you disagree with your church’s position on this issue?

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              • Once again my reply button has disappeared so I hope you can sort out which questions I am answering. According to a recent Jesuit study, 89% of US Catholics either accept the morality of artificial birth control or do not see it as a moral issue period. I would imagine that European Catholics would be pretty similar in their views. So it takes no bravery these days to disagree with the Vatican on this issue!

                Many Catholics prayed that Paul VI would lift the ban, and the only comfort was that he did not attach papal infallibility to his encyclical. I think that artificial contraception is justified for the purpose of limiting family size, avoiding unwanted pregnancies, and preventing the transmission of disease. The ability to control fertility has led people out of poverty and has improved the lives of women. There are couples who do not want eight children and cannot afford them; there are women whose health is wrecked by having a baby every two years. I think that God who gave us enough brains to use our sexuality responsibly also gave us medical science that helps us do that.

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              • KIA, taking them one at a time. Papal infallibility, yes according to its strict definition which is often misunderstood. When speaking ex cathedra (which happened only once in the twentieth century) on a matter of faith and morals, the pope is guarded from error. There are numerous safeguards attached to this; any teaching proclaimed by the pope as infallible must not conflict with traditional doctrine. Infallibility itself was not a formal doctrine until around 1870. I believe there have only been three instances of an ex cathedra pronouncement. People who are not Catholic often assume that it applies to the pope’s every utterance They assume that if the pope tells the faithful “Listen up, people. The Blessed Virgin came to me in a dream last night and told me to spread the word. From now on, no Catholic is allowed to keep a pet snake; she doesn’t like them. And banks are the devil’s counting house so Catholics have to keep their money under their mattresses,” we’re all going to jump to obey. In reality we would be exchanging worried glances until we heard that the pope was having a nice rest cure somewhere. My own interpretation is that over the long arc of history, the church will be guided to greater levels of righteousness and virtue. Past injustices will be repented and corrected. For example, the church has formally repented of the role that its teaching played in the persecution of the Jews, the murderous actions of Catholic people and institutions, and of the error that Jews were collectively guilty of the crucifixion. The church now recognizes the Jews as our fathers in the faith who have their own covenant with God.

                The perpetual virginity of Mary is a stumbling block for Protestants because it is not scriptural. If I can believe in the incarnation and the resurrection, it is no great leap of faith to accept perpetual virginity. I don’t understand why the doctrine is important as I think nothing would detract from Mary’s holiness if she had experienced a normal married life with Joseph. I think this doctrine came from a time when virginity was seen as holy and when the church was inclined to go a bit overboard in heaping honors on Mary.

                The assumption of Mary. Yes, I believe it but my personal interpretation might not satisfy the men who wrote the Baltimore Catechism! I think of shifting dimensions and unseen worlds, not of a human rocket ascending into the skies. Think of curvatures of space time.

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    • Dylan,

       (without) + theos (gods) = ἀtheos (without gods)

      therefore:

      a (without) + theism (belief in gods) = atheism (without belief in gods)
      a (without) + Gnosticism (having knowledge) = agnosticism (without having knowledge)

      From Wikipedia:

      Atheism is, in the broadest sense, the absence of belief in the existence of deities. Less broadly, atheism is the rejection of belief that any deities exist. In an even narrower sense, atheism is specifically the position that there are no deities.

      And from the American Atheists What is Atheism page:

      Atheism is one thing: A lack of belief in gods. Atheism is not an affirmative belief that there is no god nor does it answer any other question about what a person believes. It is simply a rejection of the assertion that there are gods. Atheism is too often defined incorrectly as a belief system. To be clear: Atheism is not a disbelief in gods or a denial of gods; it is a lack of belief in gods.

      Logic dictates that A cannot equal not-A. You either believe in something or you don’t — there is no in-between position. So a lack of belief cannot be a form of belief anymore than a lack of illness can be a form of illness or a lack of hunger can be a form of hunger.

      The only choice is how strongly you believe or disbelieve. Hence the following four alternatives are possible:

      Gnostic Theist – a person who believes in gods and is 100% certain they exist.

      Agnostic Theist – a person who believes in gods but is not 100% certain they exist.

      Agnostic Atheist – a person who doesn’t believe in gods but isn’t 100% certain they don’t exist.

      Gnostic Atheist – a person who doesn’t believe in gods and is 100% certain they don’t exist.

      As to anti-theist passion:

      The reason that atheists are vocal isn’t just because theists don’t keep their beliefs to themselves, but more importantly, because theists wish to enforce those beliefs upon others. So using your example of Unicorn believers: if Unicornists lobbied the government to set public policies in congruence with their beliefs, the otherwise disinterested aUnicornists would become just as fervent in stating their opposition. [This was where this “debate” got to. To participants jumping through every possible hoop to try to convince the others of just how right or wrong they were. The atheists tried really hard to convince everyone that, whatever it is, atheism is “content-free,” meaning not “something,” but actually “not something.” Then we learned that while atheism’s not really something, there are all these different kinds of atheists. Ron introduced us to the “Gnostic” and “Agnostic” atheists, while Allallt (in a different thread) told us all about the “anti-theists,” (who, Shiarrael assures us in this thread, are not actually atheists) as well as a whole bunch of other categories of atheists… I myself pointed out the “Evangelical Atheists” and the “Militant Atheists.” all of whom, apparently believe ummm… nothing, but are, somehow ever so easy to differentiate! Here’s what I came to suspect a long time ago: These “atheists” — probably like most atheists — haven’t really thought about it (possibly confirming my contention that atheism is the lazy way out), and this particular discussion has made them actually think about it. They’re scrambling to come up with something on the fly, and they need constantly to invent things. Furthermore, they then purport to speak for all atheists, as if they know what every atheist is thinking. It becomes kind of funny, and results in things like the above exchange about proving the non-existence of unicorns.  ]

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      • @Ron. I really have no qualms with defining atheism however an individual wants. [Dylan recognizes what I just said, and tries to cut through the c##p.]

        I appreciate your defining the four categories, though I question their actual utility. [Dylan pointing out the fog.] I would be highly suspect of anyone claiming gnostic knowledge of anything outside of self existence, let alone supernatural experiences. The widely encompassing range of the agnostic positions means that so much nuance is needed on a case by case basis, I don’t see them as even all that distinct when you get to middling confidence ranges.

        To your vocal atheist point, I kinda get it. There have been many policies with religious bases that I think should not be generalized to the public. I suppose trying to deconvert people is a legitimate strategy to have, too. I just disagree that it’s effective enough to pursue on a broad spectrum rather than addressing individual issues… I guess it’s easy to say in generalities, though.

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        • Dylan,

          At heart, the issue is that it’s difficult to have a meaningful conversation unless all participants agree to adhere to the most commonly accepted definitions of everyday words. To illustrate, if we were to conduct a random street survey asking participants to define religion, which outcome is more likely:

          a. they’d cite the first and most prominent definition, or
          b. they’d cite the last definition and include atheism as a major world religion?

          Likewise, if you’re tempted to opine that it takes more faith not to believe in God, consider how you would respond if someone stated it takes more faith to not believe in Santa Claus than it does to believe in Santa. Would you deem that to be a sound argument? [In an otherwise sound post, Ron goes off the rails. While Santa is believed by children, his “invention” was as a fictitious character. As such, Ron’s contention that it’s just as logical to say that it requires more faith not to believe in Santa, then to believe, is wrong. No one is out there trying to make the case for a real Santa Claus. Many do, though, like me, believe in God. ] Because that’s how precisely silly it sounds to atheists when apologists assert that it takes more faith to lack faith than it does to have faith. [To come to this conclusion, one has to think about it a bit. Believers believe that the Universe has a point. A Creator could make a universe with a point, or a completely pointless universe. This universe contains life, which has a point. All life tries both to survive, and to perpetuate itself. It’s hardly unreasonable to suggest that the first life that ever appeared… came from life itself. In the world of real science, there’s not one single, solitary scientist who can tell you what life is. They can describe it, but in Biology 101, we learn a simple truth: no one knows what life is. To suggest that things like life, the point of life, the incredible structures of life and the universe, didn’t just appear out of nowhere, is also not unreasonable.]

          And whether it was intentional or not, your last point amounts to tone policing. In my experience, the only time someone suggests their opponent’s current strategy is ineffective and volunteers another is when they’re worried that the current one might be too successful. Just saying.

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          • @Ron. I’m more concerned that individuals in a conversation agree on definitions of terms than which definition they use. Concepts are what’s discussed in conversations, not words. Words are just tools to access the concepts.

            I’m not sure why you’re bringing up the “more faith” opinion. You may be trying to head off a view I’m not laying claim to. On a side note, i want to refer again to the importance of discussing concepts, not words. You can say “faith” is being used wrong when describing an atheistic worldview, but clearly there is a concept behind the word that Apologist X is trying to discuss. It looks like avoidance to some Christians when it gets written off by the assertion “atheism is not a faith/religion”. Let me be clear, I’m not saying it is avoidance, but from being in many discussions in Christian circles, I know that is how it’s perceived by many people.

            I thought my last point was more observational… You’re right I have no say in how people other than myself operate, regardless of their agreement or disagreement with me… I can still hold my own second-level views and express them as well. I appreciate your letting me know how it comes off, though. I’ll try to be more mindful of my words.

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              • @KIA. It really doesn’t matter to me. However, the first definition that usually springs to mind before I ask for clarification is “an individual who believes there is no god”. If the others in the conversation prefer to use “an individual who lacks belief in god”, then I’m fine with using that definition. Or honestly, whatever the conversational partners want to use.

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              • Dylan, that sounds like the problem. If you continue to think the eeefin8tion of atheism is a Positive belief that there is no go or gods, you still don’t get it. [Here KIA pretends that there are no people who believe that God doesn’t exist. Or, that those who believe that God doesn’t exist are not atheists! That’s the silliness to which KIA, and Ark along with him, have arrived.]

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              • Do you think it is possible that an individual can have a positive belief that there is no god? I think that’s possible. I think the term atheism can be used to describe that. [Ummm. Yep. Dylan states the obvious.]

                I also believe, as stated above, that the term can be used to to describe lack of belief in a god, as you suggested I do in this conversation. Which I’m fine with. I really don’t sense disagreement here…

                As stated above, the purpose of words is to discuss concepts. I don’t care what definition we use, as long as we attempt to use the same definition. [This is interesting… Dylan is bending over backward to be agreeable, but the atheists are telling him that he just doesn’t get it. Then, the atheists refuse to tell him what atheism is. In so doing they say silly things like pretending that there are no people in the world who affirmatively believe that God doesn’t exist. Without even trying, Dylan backed them into a corner from which they seem to have no ability to escape. Dylan’s point is right on the nose: No discussion is possible unless the participants agree on the basic terms being used.] It’s interesting how many of our (KIA s and my) perceived disagreements seem to revolve around how terms are used. That’s why I’ve asked about postmodernism in the past.

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              • I think it’s possible too, but that is not atheism. Not generally anyway. [Oh? So, KIA is trying to be slippery here. Sometimes the affirmative belief that God doesn’t exist is atheism after all? Just generally not?] That’s someone making a claim that they believe there are no gods. [aka: an atheist] Atheism is simply a lack of belief in God or gods. They dont believe. [This is really just a weak attempt by KIA to separate himself from the bloodthirsty atheists of the 20th Century. These are the ones we debated over at Allallt’s place. Stalin, Hitler, Pol Pot, Mao, Castro, etc. KIA pretends that these people who exactly meet KIA’s definition of “atheist” — “a lack of belief in God or gods” — are, however, not atheists. Dylan blocked them into this corner from which their struggles to escape are becoming kinda funny. ]

                Liked by 1 person

              • You’re right, Unless that’s what the person actually believes.

                So, that’s why I usually don’t define it – it’s more useful to have the person who identifies that way to define it. Remember how you and ark pressed me really hard to see if I was a Christian? Once I met your low standard for Christian, you made a lot of assumptions that later you found out (at least some) weren’t true. [That perfectly sums up KIA and Ark.]

                So again, I’m fine with working with the “lack of belief” atheism definition. I think all of my comments in this post reflect that, as well.

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              • I’m sorry Dylan. I’ve never met anyone who was atheist, either online or in real life, that believes that Atheism means that. Rather than be defensive, maybe you should adjust your default answer when asked to define atheism. [Lol! Dylan’s still wrong, according to KIA! Here’s the classic debating dodge: tell the other guy to “stop being defensive.” 🙂 ]

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              • I don’t see a problem adjusting my default definition to lack of belief. Mostly because you’re the only person in recent memory who had asked me (I don’t usually define it, because I’m not vested in the term). Again, I’m not sure what I’ve said in any post of yours would be different. My actions to try clarify beliefs will remain, though. Assumptions based on labels can make oneself look foolish.

                You never encountered anyone who says “there is no god”? I’ll grant you I’ve never encountered anyone who projected much expertise in the discussion express that, but I know I’ve encountered a few. [Dylan points out the obvious: if KIA has never met an atheist who has an affirmative belief that God doesn’t exist, then KIA certainly has led a sheltered existence!]

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              • Nope. Never encountered an atheist who defined atheism as the belief that there is no God or gods. Just Christians who try to define it that way for strawman argumentation sake

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            • Dylan,

              Yes, I agree the dictionary definition is less important if everyone agrees to use the same definition. But when there’s disagreement the dictionary definition becomes the final authority.

              On faith:

              “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Hebrew 11:1

              Christians believe in God, salvation through the blood atonement of Christ and an afterlife. Atheists do not. Please explain how the defintion of faith found in that verse applies to atheists, bearing in mind that almost everyone you are conversing with here other than Arkenaten was once a devout Christian.

              To your last point:

              There’s no need to apologize. You made your point and I made mine. As a rule, I try to keep my comments short, on point and devoid of emotion. Nonetheless, to fully address your point about atheists operating on a broad basis instead of addressing individual issues: we already do both.

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              • @ Ron. I’ve wrestled with what that sentence means in general for a while and I still don’t have a high confidence in what exactly it’s getting at. My current opinion is that faith is essentially equivalent to the amount of doubt one has in a premise they still believe.

                Regarding atheism – to whatever degree you doubt that atheism is the right or most reasonable position to take when you consider if a god exists but still embrace atheism, that is the amount of faith you have in atheism.

                That is at least similar to what I think most apologists mean when saying atheism requires faith. I could be misunderstanding them, though. It’s not the preferred language I’d like to use without context… So I can’t defend them for doing that… [Dylan may or may not be an atheist, but of the trio of Ark, KIA and Dylan, he’s plainly the brightest one… by quite far.]

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              • False equivalency in a nutshell. It takes no Faith, no Faith at all to not believe in a god or gods. It’s not a religion or a worldview one converts to or from. Exactly the kind of dishonest strawman that my post was pointing out and trying to correct. Dylan, you are smarter than this and probably a lot more honest in your regular life. Just stop it [The classic definition of “defensive.” 🙂 ]

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              • @ KIA. That is where I’m at. You can assert that I’m dishonest, but I’d prefer you try to explain why I’m off without changing my definitions.

                Two other routes I’m fine pursuing : are you comfortable saying that atheism is at least a position? If not what is it? OR what do you mean when you say faith?

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              • Sorry, not going to argue this out with you. [Because he can’t.] I’m quite sure you know what the terms actually mean, I’m less sure about why you keep pretending to be unsure and wanting to maintain your incorrect definition. [Lololol! So, KIA has the correct definition! Find out all the other definitions, and toss them! Because KIA has spoken!!! 🙂 ] Your motivation seems to be dishonest, but of course I can’t read your mind. There is no need whatsoever to continue debating it and trying to force the definition back to what it seems you’d like it to be once you’ve been corrected on it… other than for dishonest reasons. [Uhhhh… Whuh? When KIA is out of gas, he goes all incoherent.]
                Atheism is an answer, not a position or a worldview, to one question and one question only. “Do you Believe in God or gods?” To which the atheist answers “no, I don’t believe” not “no, I believe there is no God or gods” [For some atheists, anyway. But, as Dylan points out… not all of ’em.]
                Got it? Good. Now stop trying to massage it into anything different. It’s dishonest and insulting to atheists and embarrassing to honest Christians and theists everywhere. [Now KIA goes all insulting and condescending. It’s kind of funny, because KIA chides me further on for “my tone.”]

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              • @KIA. Again, we fundamentally don’t agree on how words are used. You can’t say I’m defining faith wrong without offering an alternative and expect to have meaningful conversation.

                I’m fine with saying atheism is an answer. So to refine my statement about faith and atheism: the degree of faith that an atheist has in atheism is equivalent to her degree of doubt that atheism is the most reasonable answer to whether or not she should believe in a god(s).

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              • Dylan,

                I’ll restate it:

                Christians say they believe in a God who takes an active interest in human affairs and trust in the promise that God sent his son to die for our sins so that we might have eternal life. Many, if not most also believe that the Bible is the inerrant word of God.

                Atheists respond that they have no reason to believe those claims until they are provided with empirical evidence.

                Using Hebrews 11:1 as a template for what it means to have faith, explain why it takes more faith to be an atheist than a Christian? (A common claim leveled at non-believers by Christian apologists.)

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              • @Ron. I’m not sure which direction to take, so take your pick.

                I don’t like using the language the question assumes… the closest premise to “it takes more faith…” that I feel I can actually agree to is the following- “it would require more faith for me to be an atheist than a theist, since I am confident enough in the existence of God that it is more reasonable for me to affirm that belief than to abstain from judgment”. I don’t think that statement is universal to each individual.

                There’s more nuance I’m happy to explore… But yeah, since I don’t feel that I hold to the position the question assumes, I could only offer a defense of an approximation – not sure if that’s interesting to you, so I’ll explain more as requested.

                The other direction is to explain what I think others mean by that language. Essentially, it makes more sense to Apologist X that God exists than for him to not exist. Apologist X then extrapolates that feeling to everyone and boom, it takes more faith to be an atheist. I really don’t hold to this, so I don’t feel qualified to defend it… But that’s a more direct answer to your question.

                I do enjoy our conversations. Thanks for the thoughtful engagement!

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              • Dylan,

                What I’m trying to impart is that to Christians the word “faith” means more than just a belief in gods. It’s a package deal that includes belief in one particular god (i.e. the Hebrew god YHWH), the fall of man, being born in sin, vicarious redemption, a physical resurrection, and a strong conviction that the promises made by Jesus will come to fruition based — all based solely on the recorded hearsay of unknown authors, which is not exactly a firm, evidence-based foundation. So it’s absurd for Christian apologists to claim that those skeptical of these claims requires more faith not to believe them than than those who do. [Interestingly all of history can be accurately described as “based solely on the recorded hearsay of unknown authors, which is not exactly a firm, evidence-based foundation.”  This is because, until the beginning of the last century, we have no visual evidence whatsoever of anything that ever happened in the past. Furthermore, we now have PhotoShop, so that even visual evidence of  the present can be suspect!]

                And it sounds equally absurd when those same apologists claim that not attending religious services and not worshiping God and not praying and not basing one’s entire life around the teachings of the Bible is equivalent to practicing a religion.

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              • @ Ron. I think i agree with your assessment. I get that it sounds absurd and I think it’s essentially apologetic click bait to try to get at a lesser point when those statements are made. As I said, I don’t like the language that’s used by such apologists and can’t agree to the statements without several caveats.

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              • I mean this for Dylan, but there is no button under his post. You said that an atheist might claim to be positive that no deity exists. What this would mean is that he or she would maintain that position regardless of any imaginable future evidence. I don’t think any atheist would be willing to go that far. It is one thing to say, “I have seen no evidence for the existence of a deity, and I do not believe in supernatural explanations for phenomena that can be explained naturally.” [Jill is a nice, intelligent interlocutor, but she errs here. No one has ever been able to explain life naturally. Describe, yes… Explain, no. Furthermore, I believe that, beyond responding: “Science!” KIA is pretty adamant that atheism has no “natural explanations” for anything.] It would be quite another thing to say, “I could see every Christian ascend into the skies wearing white robes and playing harps and I would still say I am positive there is no god.”

                Imagine that a Scientologist is trying to persuade you that Xenu brought millions of his creatures to earth, stacked them in a volcano, and then killed them with nukes. Chances are you would ask for some sort of proof which he would not be able to provide. He says that your refusal to believe that Xenu is real is as much a faith position as his own. But, clearly, it’s not. His is a faith position; yours is a rational review of the available evidence position. If we change the usual statement to “It takes more faith to be a non-Xenu believer than to be a Scientologist,” that should help explain why unbelievers find it so inaccurate and irritating. [Except: Christians do offer “evidence.” Yes, it’s in our holy book, but there’s nothing that suggests that the Bible is one iota less accurate than, say, the writings of Herodotus, or any other historian. We base much of what we understand of ancient life on the writings of ancient historians, and we say that we “know” much of how it was back then.]

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              • @Jill. Again, I will reiterate for the beneft of all 1) That I recognize that the typical atheist simply suspends judgment on the existence of dieties and 2) The “more faith” arguments are irritating and inaccurate when applied universally. [This is funny. The atheists here are trying desperately to say that there’s nothing in atheism to debate about, but as soon as Dylan says something even slightly “wrong,” they jump all over him.]

                I’m not sure that I’m being clear about what a positive disbelief in God is. It’s not that one is 100% certain there is no God, but simply holds the belief “There is no God” rather than simply “I don’t believe there is a God.” [Ah, the gymnastics!]

                To your Xenu point, I still agree that “more” faith is pointless. I would maintain (if we’re using the language of “faith”), I do have faith in my senses and cognitive abilities to come to a belief that Xenu as described does not exist. Again, I don’t prefer using the term faith (really, ever), but I think it’s the same concept as described in my comments above and is the concept that is used by Apolgist X [I think that “Apologist X” is supposed to be me.] when saying an Atheist has faith in his abilities to claim his position is the most reasonable..

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              • Hi Dylan. What do you think? Should I let the Praetorian out of moderation? Seems like he was only spitting and cussing. [This was funny… I never cuss. At this point, though, I didn’t know I was “in moderation.” It should be noted that — since I never use bad language — “moderation” is the path of the coward, who knows he’s outta ammo.]

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              • @ Kia. Honestly, I’ve not been following that thread closely… I’ll read some more later. I think by starting a little early with the condescension, he’s done his position a disservice. I’m generally I’m favor of not censoring, but rather just ignoring if comes to it (after quite a while of trying to understand what he’s even saying). It’s a humble leveling of the playing field, since you’re not exercising a power he can’t.

                Keep in mind, I’ve only read about half that thread

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          • I have always found the “more faith” argument profoundly silly, but I have generally only encountered it on the less cerebral type of apologetics site. As you say in your post below, it is implausible that it is easier to believe the entire body of Christian doctrine than not to believe it. If that were true, Christians would not consider faith to be a gift or a virtue–it would be simple recognition of the obvious. If that were true, Christians would never be troubled by doubts and pray for a stronger faith.

            Although that is what the statement means, I don’t think that is what people usually have in mind. The kind of person who says that means something more like: When I look at the vastness of the universe and the amazing diversity of life on earth, it is easier for me to believe there must have been a supernatural creator than for me to believe that it all came about through natural processes. And if it is easier for me, then it must be easier for you as well. And if you disagree with me, you’re just being tiresome and refusing to think like the rest of us. And how weird and un-American is that? [Jill’s pleasant and smart, but this kind of cheap shot is unworthy. She can’t read minds, nor can anyone else. Her assertion denies the possibility that I might have thought my position was so simple to understand that surely KIA and Ark, who style themselves experts on Christianity, would understand.]

            I think it ties in with the general suspicion and dislike of atheists. Polls show that Americans and Canadians view Muslims much more tolerantly than they do atheists, which means that as long as there is belief in God, they’re willing to cut some slack on the details. The real offense lies in the perceived rejection of the tribe. The atheist is often seen as deliberately rejecting religious belief because he thinks he is smarter than everyone else. [KIA and Ark sure seem to think they’re smarter than anyone else.] The only way to make this explicable (and tolerable) is to recast unbelief as a rival religion for nonconformist smartypants. [Hardly the only way. It’s also a potentially valid conclusion.]

            Hence the uncharitableness and unholy glee some Christians expressed over the death of Stephen Hawking. “He thought we were a bunch of dumb rubes for believing in God but we get the last laugh because now he’s in hell.” I am not so sure about the last laugh part. I think that God might find honest disbelief a lot easier to stomach than vicious Christian hatred. [I don’t know of a single Christian who rejoiced in the death of Stephen Hawking. Not one. I wouldn’t be surprised if there were people pretending to be Christians who mocked Hawking after his death. Christians feel only sadness at the passing of someone who has not accepted Christ’s gift of eternal salvation. Again, this should not be at all controversial. It’s Christianity 101.]

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        • Definitions are always tricky beasts.

          If we conducted the exact same random street survey that Rob suggested and asked the participants to define atheism and the outcome we got was that the majority of people defined it as “the active disbelief in a God.”

          Would most atheists accept that definition or instead conclude that most people don’t understand the term correctly? The point isn’t the definition itself right now so much as to note that this isn’t necessarily a good standard for deciding on a correct definition.

          Similarly dictionary definitions are not platonic forms. There is no official objective meaning of each word floating out there in some realm of ideas. Instead the definitions in dictionaries are social conventions, reflecting how the average person on the street uses it or the typical “average” meaning of the word as it’s used over the majority of written publications (usually mainstream and non-scholarly).

          The problem here is that in certain academic discourses, individual scholars or fields, often offer and use definitions of a terms sometimes very different than it’s everyday use. Religion, for example, is notorious for many different variant definitions, but what people sometimes forget is that the scholars who create these different definitions didn’t do so necessarily because they were trying to pull a fast one, but rather they often have very good reasons for redefining a term.

          If a person has no reason to hold a different definition then sure the dictionary can be a good arbiter, but in instances where someone turns to. Scholarly definition and states the reasons why they feel this definition is better then I don’t think one should just turn to the dictionary and treat it as if it is the final word on the matter. [A very well done post on definitions. It’s well said. Dylan should have appreciated this one.]

          Liked by 1 person

      • Ron, I think that sometimes sincere but muddled people come to view lack of belief (or a commitment to philosophical materialism) as inherently religious because they are constantly told this by their preachers. This can be an innocent belief. But I also believe that this formulation (the atheist is just as religious as the Christian) is often used for purposes that are not innocent. [The atheists in this post are sure really dogmatic! You must understand atheism as we understand it, or else you don’t know nuthin’!!! Sounds a lot like all the things they excoriate believers for! Dogmatism, stubbornness, slippery definitions, faith… the whole shebang.]

        Some creationist Christians have used this false equivalence to promote the idea that secular humanism (as they always call it) is a religious belief with its own high priests (the wicked Mr Darwin, for one), its temples (universities and science labs), and its own fanatically held doctrines: evolution, global warming, and the importance of indoctrinating children into having tons and tons of guilt-free sex. There is a reason for this. They hope that by legally defining atheism/secular humanism as a religion, they can demand equal time in the science class for their own religious beliefs. They hope to be able to exclude global warming from curriculum as a religious tenet rather than a scientifically supported reality. Alternatively, if they can persuade the ordinary person that atheism is a competing religion, why doesn’t basic fairness mean that a Christian curriculum should be introduced for “balance”? [Wow! Weird paragraph! Jill, the supposed Christian, pretends that she can read the minds of other Christians. It’s a bit odd that Jill — a Christian! — believes all the ridiculous, uncharitable, and generally wrong, stereotypes about Christians!  As KIA apaprently doesn’t know other atheists, apparently Jill hasn’t met any other Christians! 🙂 ]

        I think another purpose is the attempt to discredit science. If the scientist is a religious zealot who worships the primordial ooze, why should anyone think his views on evolution should carry any more weight than my crazy uncle’s? Formulating everything as belief enables the high school drop out to say that his thoughts about human origins must be taken just as seriously as Ken Brown’s. [Wow! Jill sure has contempt for Christians! To be clear: the atheists in this thread sure treat atheism as a belief they hold very, very dear. If it were really “content-free,” why would they care in the least, what others think of it? Why the accompanying desire to paint (you’ll see this further below) Christians as belonging to a death cult, guilty of far more atrocities throughout history than even the Socialist Atheists who murdered more than 120 million people in the last century alone. ]

        Finally, I think this formulation is used consciously to beat up on unbelievers. This way the nonbeliever is not merely mistaken; he is a willing member of a false and sinful religion. I think all this is why it is so important to keep hammering away at any attempt to conflate the two. [Ditto the previous comment.]

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    • Hi Dylan, nice to run into you again. You say that there is no good reason for actively believing against the supernatural. Even as one who believes firmly in the supernatural, I have to quibble with this a bit. I don’t think the natural default position is that the universe has to be created and sustained by the supernatural. It was at one time, but I know many happy scientists who are content with materialistic explanations. Even the part of the human mind that seeks the immanent and numinous can be satisfied with explanations derived from evolutionary psychology. This is why I don’t think the atheist is practicing his own kind of “faith” when he says he has seen no evidence of anything beyond the material world. [But where does life come from?!? “Materialism” is just the lazy intellect’s dodge.]

      We see this easily when we consider supernatural beliefs that we personally do not hold. If you had been a priest in the temple of Dionysus, you might have said there was no good reason for anyone not to believe in the full panoply of Greek divinities. Yet, would this really have made sense? Were the Greeks who disbelieved in the deities acting irrationally? [No. They were responding to man’s deepest desire: to be with God.]

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      • @ Jill. Good to see you again as well. To clarify, i don’t think the general atheist position is actively believing against the supernatural – it’s the lack of belief in the supernatural, as Kia has been reiterating to me ;). Additionally, I don’t think there is a universal natural default position on the matter. The diversity of views (among all levels of education, intelligence, and class) would say there is not a universal natural position.

        The pithy point about faith is that no person can be 100% sure that their own answer to the question is the most reasonable. That level of doubt is where “faith” comes in. I know Kia would step in and say that’s false equivalency, but I see them as the same. Faith is trust – whether it’s in a person, platform, or answer to a question.

        To your Greek divinities point, I’m not sure how rational it would have been at the time to believe in those divinities. Given that I understand most people in the culture believed in the divinities and were generally reasonable, I’d assume it was a reasonable position.

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  4. Kia: Kind of a disappointing post. There are, indeed, atheists who say that they affirmatively believe that there is no god. [This is my original post.]

    Yes, there are plenty who have said that they have no belief, and then there are the ones I call the “Evangelical Atheists.” These are the ones — like Stalin, Mao, Castro, etc. — who would also prevent others from expressing their belief in God, and from practicing the sacraments of their faith. Your pal Allallt called them “anti-theists,” as if to divorce these monsters from the general crowd of atheists. If you’ll recall, I called him on that sophistry: an “anti-theist” is, of course, also an atheist. A slightly different flavor of atheist, but an atheist all the same. [That still seems a reasonable conclusion.]

    Allallt’s “anti-theists” were also, what I’ve called: “militant atheists.” Atheists who were willing to kill or otherwise persecute believers because of their beliefs. Now, if you’re going to kill someone because of his belief system, then you yourself possess, obviously, a countervailing belief system. [Also sounds right to me.] A belief system in which you place so much faith that you’re willing to do the unthinkable: snuff out another’s life. No one does this kind of monstrosity without believing deeply that he’s right to do it, because it’s the ultimate act of negation, and an act that can never be undone.

    All this is obvious. It’s not outside the realm of logic to call atheism a faith. After all, it was Pascal, I think who made the nifty little aphorism: “If an atheist is wrong he’s lost everything; if a believer is wrong, he’s lost nothing.” Something like that. A man willing to risk eternity for his “non-belief” is man exhibiting a strong faith in his conclusions indeed.

    Best,

    — x

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    • Well, if that’s how you like to define the terms for yourself, that’s fine. It might cause misunderstandings, and muddle some conversations, but a lot of things do that.

      But maybe consider that not everyone will agree with you, similar to the debate among Christians who is Real™ and who isn’t.

      Similarly, I tend to go for the literal definitions:
      A-Theist = no god/s.
      Anti-theist = against god/s.
      Helps me a lot when interacting with them.

      And if we’re talking Stalin: I doubt the old bastard would have bothered attacking and dismantling the church it if hadn’t been a serious threat to his power.
      Just so there’s no confusion: that doesn’t justify a damn thing. But it explains why religions became a target under the regime. There can be only one cult.
      The tragic irony is that Stalin and his cohorts took their strategies right out of the religious playbook. From the “There can be only one True Doctrine” all the way to eradicating dissent.
      And yes, Stalinism, as well as Maoism, is a cult. Because those guys realized you can’t just take away religion from the masses who’d been kept dumb for centuries, and replace it with actual atheism. They had to replace it with something familiar enough to be attractive.

      It’s not outside the realm of logic to call atheism a faith.

      Again, it depends on how you look at it.
      To me, no-god/s means no-faith. That can include not liking some religions, and/or getting along just fine with others. Not mutually exclusive.

      Kinda like being a civilian and having a dislike for the Navy, but getting along just fine with the Air Force. Still a civilian, still not a member of any armed forces.

      A man willing to risk eternity for his “non-belief” is man exhibiting a strong faith in his conclusions indeed.

      You’re arguing from a believer’s point of view, that’s bound to throw off your perception.
      I’m not even an atheist and I don’t feel like I’m ‘risking eternity’. Because I’m just not sure about the whole thing.

      For an actual non-god/s person? Pascal only works if you think you have something to gamble, something to gain. If you’re reasonably sure there is nothing there… what farmer would put dead husks into the ground, invest work and time and sweat and love … if s/he’s reasonably sure nothing will grow there, ever?

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      • Pascal also had specifically the biblical Christian God in mind. Not just any old God, as he would have rejected Islam, Shinto and many more other religious conceptions of God and gods as false and idolatrous. When Pascals wager is brought up, the best way to answer is.. “which god of the thousands throughout history, and how do you know when you get to the end of your life you won’t be tossed to hell by a different God you never considered?”
        Also… would God really not be able to tell that you are only ‘believing’ just in case, and therefore just trying to deceive Him?
        Pascals wager is flawed and not a reliable way to go at all.

        Liked by 2 people

        • “which god of the thousands throughout history, and how do you know when you get to the end of your life you won’t be tossed to hell by a different God you never considered?”

          The agnostic’s dilemma in a nutshell 😋
          Even if we limit it to ‘current’ deities, the number of options is still staggering.
          Worse, even if we limit our search to the Christian fate – which splinter group has it exactly right? And if none has it ‘just right’, does close enough count? Considering the horrible fate if you get it wrong… can we afford ‘close enough’?

          […] would God really not be able to tell that you are only ‘believing’ just in case

          An omniscient deity certainly would. Which brings us back to the “does trying count?” question.
          Some believers say yes, some say no. What am I to make of that….

          Liked by 2 people

      • You said: Well, if that’s how you like to define the terms for yourself, that’s fine. It might cause misunderstandings, and muddle some conversations, but a lot of things do that.
        My Response:
        Yep: Words do that. If you have two people, and 100 words, you really have 200 words.

        You said: But maybe consider that not everyone will agree with you, similar to the debate among Christians who is Real™ and who isn’t.

        My Response:
        But in the end, either (1) Someone is right, and someone is wrong, or (2) Both are wrong. Both can’t be right.

        Similarly, I tend to go for the literal definitions:

        You Said:
        A-Theist = no god/s.
        Anti-theist = against god/s.

        My Response:
        I see A-theism as the larger category, fully encompassing the smaller Anti-theism category, as well as the doubters, the skeptics, the agnostics, the Evangelical Atheists, the Militant Atheists, etc. On Allallt’s site, I did a whole Venn diagram kind of thing. I think it holds true still.

        I’m pretty sure that you don’t think the anti-theists are believers who simply don’t like God? More to the point: I’m pretty sure that you believe that anti-theists are also atheists, correct? They certainly can’t be mutually exclusive, but rather overlapping concepts, with atheism being the larger, umbrella idea.

        You Said: And if we’re talking Stalin: I doubt the old bastard would have bothered attacking and dismantling the church it if hadn’t been a serious threat to his power.

        My Response:
        Lol! And, let’s not forget: atheism is a central tenet of Marxism, the creed of which Stalin believed himself to be the High Priest, and eventually, the god. I think you echoed this sentiment a bit further on in your “cult” remark. I think that you and I are in agreement that Marxism is a cult, demanding of its followers blind adherence to it and only it.

        You Said: Just so there’s no confusion: that doesn’t justify a damn thing. But it explains why religions became a target under the regime. There can be only one cult.
        My Response:
        This is not true. Certainly, latter 19th-Century, 20th-Century and 21st-Century Christianity tolerates quite nicely the presence of other beliefs. No problem at all. It’s because Christians finally understood a truth about their faith: It’s a proselytizing faith, not an obligatory faith. Christians have had a problem with fully implementing God’s incredible command to allow for free will. They haven’t, generally, had such a problem for more than a century now.

        It’s an interesting phenomenon, but it’s only the man-inspired cults that compel adherence, and ritualistic incantations of belief. Marxism, Islam, American Leftism, Environmentalism, Feminism are a few examples… The members of a belief system truly focused on the eternal, have no need to impose their beliefs on others. The Christian wants to pass along the Good News, but feels no need to compel others to believe. Furthermore, the Christian understands that compelled belief is not even possible. One believes what one believes, and we’ve not yet developed either the technology (though rumors are that it’s close) or the ability to determine what anyone else believes.

        Just to forestall your inevitable riposte about Christians acting like totalitarians, etc., my point still holds: a perfect doctrine — Christianity — as practiced by flawed humans will always be flawed. However, since the doctrine is perfect, eventually the kinks will iron themselves out, but not before — yes — a lot of people having been hurt by the flaws.

        People often say things — like “There can be only one cult” — just to say them. There’s no real truth to it, though.

        You Said:The tragic irony is that Stalin and his cohorts took their strategies right out of the religious playbook. From the “There can be only one True Doctrine” all the way to eradicating dissent.
        My Response:
        Close. It’s the other way ’round: Religious people often take “their strategies right out of the totalitarian playbook.” That’s when believers get it wrong, as they often do. And, it’s an important distinction.

        You Said:And yes, Stalinism, as well as Maoism, is a cult. Because those guys realized you can’t just take away religion from the masses who’d been kept dumb for centuries, and replace it with actual atheism. They had to replace it with something familiar enough to be attractive.
        My Response:
        Well… that’s kind of a shot at the common people! I don’t know what your political persuasion is, but this disdain for the common ruck, this conviction that the common man can’t surpass the half-wittedness of frequently half-witted, totalitarian overlords, who themselves don’t realize what half-wits they are, is a depressingly leftist, élitist, totalitarian mindset. I hope this was only a momentary lapse on your part. 🙂

        You said (quoting me): A man willing to risk eternity for his “non-belief” is man exhibiting a strong faith in his conclusions indeed.

        To which you replied: You’re arguing from a believer’s point of view, that’s bound to throw off your perception.

        My Response:
        It’s just as valid to say, therefore: “You’re arguing from a non-believer’s (or agnostic’s, or skeptic’s) point of view, that’s bound to throw off your perception.” The point that, “A man willing to risk eternity for his ‘non-belief’ is a man exhibiting a strong faith in his conclusions indeed,” remains true. Why should the more limited perspective of the one denying, or doubting, be superior to the one who has belief? Furthermore, if the one who has belief is correct in his belief, then, by definition, his belief — being correct — is superior to the non-belief. And, again, even if he’s wrong, the believer risks nothing, while the non-believer risks it all. Don’t get me wrong… I see your point, and it’s a good one, but it’s limited by the fact that most people who pronounce themselves to be atheists, have tried, and failed, to grapple with understanding eternity and the larger perspectives. Because they’ve failed to come to terms with it all, they’ve often simply said, “This is too much work for me, I’ll simply declare myself supreme and move on from there.” It is true: Atheism requires vastly less actual intellectual effort, less struggle… less than belief. After you come to belief, then you have to grapple with how to live in accord with your belief! It never ends! However, for the atheist it does, and he can go back to playing cards, drinking beer, watching Jeopardy, being an accountant…without ever having to grapple again with… What’s the Point?” or “How did it all come about?” or, “Why?”

        For the atheist, the only answer to any “Why” question is, “No reason.” Why are you eating? Well, because I don’t want to be hungry, but that’s pointless. Why are you climbing that mountain? Because I want to say that I did, but that’s pointless. Why are you exercising? Because I want to be healthy, but that’s pointless. Why are you working? Because I want to have a nice house, but that’s pointless. Since, if he’s telling the truth, the atheist always finishes everything he says with “…but that’s pointless,” then after a while, he’ll simply answer, “No reason” to any such questions. If he tries to argue that his “Because I don’t want to be hungry…” is the point, the questioner, he knows, can simply scoff, “Sez you! Who died and made you God?!?” And the questioner would be right… at least according to the honest atheist. In other words, the atheist is forced to conclude, his point is no point at all. Even after he’s declared himself to be supreme! Atheism is the lazy man’s way out, as well as a silly, pointless way to take the off-ramp of the intellectual highway of life.
        – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

        You Said:I’m not even an atheist and I don’t feel like I’m ‘risking eternity’. Because I’m just not sure about the whole thing.
        My Response:
        I don’t know… I suspect, though, that not to let God into your life, is, substantively, the same as overtly kicking Him out.

        You Said: For an actual non-god/s person? Pascal only works if you think you have something to gamble, something to gain. If you’re reasonably sure there is nothing there… what farmer would put dead husks into the ground, invest work and time and sweat and love … if s/he’s reasonably sure nothing will grow there, ever?
        My Response:
        While I love analogies, I think this is not a good one. The farmer has vast experience, or sufficiently compelling evidence, indicating that putting dead husks into the ground will not result in new plants. The non-believer — in my humble opinion 🙂 — has evidence of God all around him and simply denies it. One tiny bit? Sure: Without God, all is pointless, all is acceptable, nothing matters, there is no right, wrong, good, bad… only infinitely indifferent. Yet, even non-believers — in perfect imitation of God — act with purpose, do things to achieve a goal, do things for a point, implicitly answer the question: “What’s the point?” And then they say they don’t believe in God. Seems pretty silly!

        Best,

        — x

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        • The non-believer — in my humble opinion 🙂— has evidence of God all around him and simply denies it. One tiny bit? Sure: Without God, all is pointless, all is acceptable, nothing matters, there is no right, wrong, good, bad… only infinitely indifferent.

          And this is why you, in all likelihood, remain an ignorant a##e.
          However, you will receive a sincere apology if you are able to produce verifiable evidence to support your Christian worldview and the statement in the above comment.

          PS. You don’t have a humble opinion as you are anything but. However, you do have an unsubstantiated opinion. [Ark contributes another mindless post.]

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          • The only post you’ve written worth replying to is… oh, yes, none of ’em.

            I’m afraid I’ve grown tired of playing in the shallow end of the pool with you, Ark. Run along, I think I hear your babysitter calling you again.

            Best,

            — x

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              • Ark: Whether or not I’m a “young earth creationist,” you are, I suspect, right about one thing: it will, indeed, be the goons and the thugs who take over the gene pool. What a shame that you consider yourself one of their number. Not surprising… but a shame all the same.

                Best,

                — x

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              • Yes, rational thinkers have always threatened insecure religious idiots such as you.
                And oddly enough it was the thugs and goons in the form of the Catholic Church -of which you count yourself a member – were the ones behind such things as the sanctioning of slavery as part of your god’s plan, the Inquisition, the attempted liquidation of such Christian sects as the Cathars, the internecine wars throughout Europe, the genocidal wars that attempted to liquidate the indigenous peoples of the Americas, the rampant disease your Jesuit led minions brought with them everywhere they went, the modern day unnecessary deaths because of HIV/AIDS and the Catholic Church’s stance on contraception.
                And let us not forget that t was largely the view of the Christian Church toward Jews that saw the sanctioning of Antisemitism and the slaughter of Jews during the reformation.
                You do realise you represent one of the most vile organisations of humanity?
                Why don’t you at least feel ashamed for what they have done, and for what they continue to do?

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              • Lol! You just keep on deluding yourself, Ark… You just keep telling yourself that a doctrine that teaches us that we’re all supposed to love each other unconditionally is somehow “vile.,” and responsible for all the badnesses witnessed in the past 2,000 years.

                Don’t give up your day job to write more comedy though, ’cause while what you write is funny, it’s also… kinda stupid. What’s funnier is that all your “examples” above were long ago debunked, and you never got the memo. No one pretends anymore what you pretend. Not even the brain dead American Left. Just you.

                What’s funny is that in the last century alone, even if we were to stipulate to what you said, your thought tendency confrères exceeded any atrocities that could rightly or wrongly be attributed to “my ilk,” many times over! And yet you still pretend you’re the enlightened one! Lol!

                Okay. “Hmmm…the delusion is strong with this one, Obi wan.

                Shiarrael may have a point, that you and I are just talking past each other. However, in your case, it’s most likely because you’re unable, or likely unwilling, to get past your ego to be able to admit when you’ve been wrong. I’m impossible to offend, and have no problem admitting it when I’m wrong. It’s what makes it easy to best you in a fracas like this.

                You should go back to the shallow end of the pool with the rest of the little goons and thugs. Your babysitter worries when you get out over your head. 🙂

                Best,

                — x

                Like

              • You seem not to know history very well praetor.
                All those ‘loving’ Christ followers thru history responsible for the crusades, witch trials, genocides or native Americans and even European religious wars and killing… even between different denominations of True Christians ™ throughout the centuries…
                You with don’t know history very well, or you DO but won’t admit it. Or you DO but think it was just THOSE false christians.
                Since you say you are Catholic, I would think you should know better about your own history in Europe, seeing how the reason the first settlers from Europe to America were trying to escape religious persecution and death… from other Christians. [This is where KIA shows his ignorance of the real history of the Crusades. Presumably he’s also ignorant of that other thing that non-believers always try to hang around the necks of Catholics: The Inquisition. Why do I say this? Simple: before I researched it, I had a lot of these same ideas. The real truth of the Crusades: it’s a real shame they failed. Even Ark and KIA believe this, but they’re too cowardly to admit it. Besides, it takes away two of their go-to arguments. The real truth of The Inquisition: It was an attempt to end extra-judicial killings and oppression of non-Christians by those calling themselves Christians. the Inquisition, while wrong, dramatically reduced the incidence of violence against non-Catholics in Europe. This is not to excuse The Inquisition, by any means, but I can’t say that there was any other way to reduce the incidence of violence against non-Christians except for that. What I said should be construed as a defense of the Crusades. Yes, it would have been far better for the world if they’d succeeded.]

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              • Lol! See? As I explained to Jill, one finds only this kind of Kindergarten-level flapdoodle on this site.

                How does one defeat the already defeated, who are just too ignorant to know their rudimentary arguments were brushed away long ago?

                Best,

                — x

                Like

              • Ah… Then you have chosen that you know… But refuse to take responsibility for your own history. Dishonest f##k. Get lost. How about that for having grown up and learned big words? Bugger off [KIA adds to the evidence that atheism is the intellectually lazy man’s way.]

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              • Lol! Pretty stupid stuff, KIA. I guess I don’t expect more.

                It’s always a test to see which one folds first. Obviously, the one who loses his temper is automatically the loser in any such exchange.

                Why? Simple: he’s the one out of intellectual ammo. That’s this site in a nutshell: Out of intellectual ammo.

                Hey! I just wrote your tagline for you! You’re welcome.

                Best,

                — x

                Like

              • You just keep telling yourself that a doctrine that teaches us that we’re all supposed to love each other unconditionally is somehow “vile.,” and responsible for all the badnesses witnessed in the past 2,000 years.

                Unconditionally?
                So what happens to those people who decide to reject this so-called unconditional love?

                Please try to be succinct and restrict your reply to a sentence or two – preferably one.
                Here, let me start you off: ( excuse my atheist phraseology on this one)

                Those who deny Jesus Christ will not enter heaven to spend eternity with the Father once they die, but will be separated from the Lord Jesus and spend eternity in torment and torture in H —. 
                Can you fill in the missing three letters or should I have rather used asterisks?

                Like

              • Yes, I understand the meaning of the word perfectly thanks.
                The writers/compilers of the bible obviously did not … and neither do you it seems.
                Perhaps you need a thesaurus?
                If you don’t know what this is open a dictionary and work forward until you arrive at ‘T’.

                PS. Is it at all possible you could stop signing of your comments with a kiss (x) ?
                It is decidedly off-putting.

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              • More I-know-you-are-but-what-am-I-level snark. Silly, juvenile and low-quality. Please do better. I really do like good snark, you know!

                Also, could you stop misinterpreting what’s obviously the simple letter “x” as a kiss? It’s creepy.

                Best,

                — x

                Like

              • Oh, and I had to laugh… the one who “penned” this: “Yes, rational thinkers have always threatened insecure religious idiots such as you.” is calling me insecure.

                Now, that was good comedy!

                Best,

                — x

                Like

              • Of course you are insecure. You believe you are an unworthy sinner who was guilty by association of the brutal murder of the biblical character Jesus of Nazareth.
                Didn’t your local Priest tell you that you helped hammer home the nails?

                Like

              • Lol! You really are completely Christianity-illiterate, aren’t you!

                I covered this pap of yours many times in the past with you, yet you’re still on it. We Christians may or may not believe in evolution, but the naysayers should just point at you for pretty compelling evidence that humans, or at least ignorant ones, never evolve! 🙂

                One thing you should try to stop doing is telling others what they believe. It’s a common characteristic of the Left to believe they can read minds, that they can know what everyone else is thinking, what they believe, want and need. You, and they, should cut it out.

                Best,

                — x

                Like

              • I would wager I would stand a pretty good chance of matching you in the Christian literacy stakes. And remember, I am not bound by specific doctrine or inculcated as you are.

                Evolution is demonstrable fact.
                You actually have nothing of value to add to the matter.

                Like

              • The Theory of Evolution is, of course, a theory. Its greatest critic — at least in the sense of how it’s commonly perceived today — was one… Charles Darwin, who said that if there were not countless “missing links” in the fossil record, then his theory was dead. No one has yet found a single “missing link.”

                Of course, there’s evolution of different characteristics — species adapting to their environment, recessive traits disappearing, animals becoming bigger or smaller, etc., but no one has ever come up with a way to demonstrate that any species ever became another species through evolution.

                You don’t know much about things like science, do you?

                Best,

                — x

                Liked by 1 person

              • The Theory of Evolution is, of course, a theory.

                And you wonder why you are labelled a D####ead.

                You are doing a fine job. I imagine even Jill is cringing in front of her Laptop reading your drivel.

                Like

              • Lol! Nope. I never wonder why you do what you do, Ark. there’s little point in wondering why you behave idiotically. First of all, I don’t care, and second, I’ve given you numerous opportunities not to. Opportunities, you’ve declined. Okay. Your loss. Maybe one day you’ll grow up.

                Sooooo… you’re telling me that the Theory of Evolution is misnamed? That it should be called “The Fact of Evolution?”

                Even though there’s nothing in real science that’s ever considered settled fact?

                Lol! You are a funny one, Ark! You’re Christianity-illiterate, and now you show that you’re science-illiterate. Is there anything on which you do have any actual post-Kindergarten thinking you could offer?

                Best,

                — x

                Liked by 1 person

              • Sooooo… you’re telling me that the Theory of Evolution is misnamed? That it should be called “The Fact of Evolution?”

                Seriously, you should think about doing Stand-Up.
                I am laughing my a##e off over here.

                Liked by 1 person

              • Like the theory of gravity. Theory doesn’t mean what you think it does, in the scientific terminology [Here, again, KIA tells someone else what he’s thinking, and how he should think… in order to think correctly, of course.]

                Like

              • Ah! So in KIA-world, “theory” doesn’t mean “theory.”

                Oooooookay.

                Did you go to public schools, KIA? 🙂

                You should be able to tell me, then, why there’s even a “Theory of Gravity,” even though gravity is a named, observed, measured phenomenon.

                The answer is: there are various theories of gravity, including a particle-based one (involving “gravitons” — few adherents 🙂 ), as well as space curvature, etc.

                Evolution, however, is different from gravity in that the phenomenon itself is both observable and theoretical. Species change. They become bigger, smaller, faster, slower, change colors, etc. That’s obvious and states the obvious, and science has named that phenomenon “Evolution.” Makes sense.

                Now, the theory part for that: Darwin posited the idea that these adaptations occurred as the fittest survived their environment, and passed along their traits to their offspring. (to summarize) Also makes sense.

                Somewhere in that mix, however, the common understanding of “Evolution” came to be that it caused many species to “evolve” into other, new, different species… the ape –>man thing, leading to sillinesses like the Chimp –> proto-man –> Homo Erectus poster. A phenomenon that has never been observed. A phenomenon about which Darwin made the fossil record observation.

                In this way, Evolution is both an observed, named phenomenon, as well as a theory. It’s the theory part that’s, well, theory. Not fact. Still not proven. Still undergoing measurements, observations, experimentation, and the like.

                All irrelevant. Evolution is not in the slightest incompatible with Christianity. [This should have ended the Evolution detour. However… it didn’t. 🙂 ]

                Best,

                — x

                Like

              • Awwwww… now you’ve gone and hurt my feelings! 🙂

                Just kidding.

                And yes the “jackass named Arkenaten” was funny, I have to admit.

                Best,

                — x

                Like

              • Lol! You should also not try to tell Jill, or anyone else for that matter, what she’s thinking. It’s gauche. And the would-be mind-reader rarely gets it right.

                She can, and does, speak very well for herself. Furthermore, I don’t mind her critiques, because she’s not a jerk like you. 🙂

                Best,

                — x

                Liked by 1 person

              • Dude: I believe you’re the one trying to pretend that theories are facts!

                Honestly, I feel like I’m arguing with third-graders. Real scientists know that people can accept nearly as facts, many things, but that real scientists continue to test those facts. It’s why the stupendously brilliant Isaac Newton was able to be toppled from his perch as the great discoverer/describer of physics.

                It’s obvious you do a whole lot of snarking, and very little thinking, Ark. You should reverse the two. We should call you Ark the Snark. 🙂

                Best,

                — x

                Like

              • When you find a fossilized bunny next to a dinosaur let me know, all right?
                For interest sake, just why do you believe in Young Earth Creation?

                Like

              • Lol!

                No. Ark is pretending that because I’m a Catholic he can read my mind. He desperately wants to be able to say, “Ah hah! A Young Earth Creationist! What an idiot! I don’t have to deal with this blatherskite anymore!”

                My observation that he approves of mass murder is simple: because he’s an atheist, and atheists are the single greatest cause of violent or premature death — of murder — in human history, then he believes in mass murder.

                He doesn’t like it when what he thinks is compelling logic is turned around back at him.

                Best,

                — x

                Like

              • Round and round and round we go! Too funny, KIA! Needless to say, I’ve answered this one many, many times — in these pages! — already.

                Why, I wonder, do you folks either on the Left, or in atheist circles always have to be so insulting?

                No one can ever disagree with you — and be firm about it — without being crazy, or stupid, or ignorant, or evil, or all the rest.

                It’s an odd phenomenon that I’ve witnessed, and I can only conclude that it means you’re deeply insecure in your beliefs that you so frequently resort to such silly tactics.

                Best,

                — x

                Like

              • You may want to consider why even your fellow Christians have tried to tell you about your conduct on this thread. As for me, I’m tired of your pejoratives and Personal insults [I think it was at this point that KIA “banned” me, the pansy. 🙂 However, I never knew that he’d banned me. I had to find out when he told me he had.]

                Like

              • Lol! This from the one who’s called me “crazy,” and numerous other sillinesses?
                And, you’re okay with Ark’s “d####ead?” Really?
                It appears, Mr. K,. that you grow tired of pejoratives and personal insults only when they come back at you.
                You’re just fine tossing them out at others, and you’re just fine when others toss them out at me, but when they come back you go all snowflake?
                Yer full o’hogwash. [Ummmm… Yep. That turned out to be true. They said a bunch of c##p, and when I called them on it, they began whining.]
                Best,
                — x

                Like

              • Dude… you banned me because I engaged in snark after Ark called me a “d####ead” numerous times, you called me crazy, you both questioned my intelligence, and numerous other aspects of my character… and then you banned me because you were upset at my use of “pejoratives” and “personal insults.”

                You’ve got to be kidding.

                I’d gladly exchange ideas with Jill and Shiarrael, but you and Ark are simply not mature, informed, educated or secure enough in your beliefs to debate with the possibility of arriving at fruitful places.

                So, you got your wish… I’ll go find less silly interlocutors. I’ll go see whether Jill or Shiarrael has a web site where we can converse. [I’d grown tired of their immaturity, and of the round-and-round-and-round we’ve been doing.]

                Best,

                — x

                Like

              • Is this still a productive exchange on the post? I’m getting tired of the Praetorian. Thinking of closing comments or just blocking him

                Like

              • When is it ever productive once xP makes an appearance?
                He’s good for a laugh and to show just how idiotic god botherers can get.
                I love him to bits.
                He raises the IQ of the wall in my office.
                Apart from that …. well, ’tis your blog.

                Like

              • You did. You admit you’re an atheist. And atheists are the single greatest cause of violent or premature death — murder — in human history.

                You’re an atheist, therefore you approve of mass murder.

                On a more serious note, as an atheist you certainly can’t point to anything that would allow you to condemn mass murder, so it’s the same thing. You can personally condemn it, but anyone can simply respond, “So what! Who died and made you God?!?”

                And that, if you actually think it through, is a trap out of which you can’t wiggle.

                Best,

                — x

                Like

              • It is becoming more baffling with each comment that you write – you listed all the jobs you have done in the past, which could either suggest you got fired a lot or you have quite diverse talents and yet you write comments like a complete ar####le.
                I’m serious, why on earth do you behave like an ignorant ar####le, xP?

                Like

              • He’s never here for dialogue just like I told Dylan at the outset. He’s only here to fight, call names and insult. [Reverting to type, KIA pretends he knows what others are thinking.]

                Liked by 1 person

              • Which, if you’d been reading, you’ll see is what I said. However, no species has ever been shown to have become a new species as a result of evolution. To have had differences? Of course. Which is what I said before.

                All this is, of course, completely irrelevant, as evolution, properly understood is not in the least incompatible with Christianity.

                This is not controversial. Seriously, dudes, we’ve done this all before. Evolution is, of course, a real, solid theory. It is not a fact. To call a theory a fact is as unscientific as it gets. It’s why everyone calls things like The Theory of Relativity. Dudes, this is kind of basic stuff.

                I’m a believer in evolution, and realize that, as said above, there’s nothing in evolution that’s incompatible with Christianity.

                Now, can we get off the irrelevant? [Another attempt to get these people off the irrelevant. Presumably they remained so long on the irrelevant because they realized that the relevant was no longer a safe place for them.]

                Best,

                — x

                Like

              • Pray tell, praetor… Which part of the evolutionary process you dispute?
                Reproduction
                Genetic variation of offspring
                Or the selection (selection out) of less ‘fit’ or not as well adapted Life forms to the environment they live in?
                Over time… Life forms change to adapt to changing envirnomental and predatory factors.
                Over time, life forms may even diverge into two different and ‘reproductively isolated’ species.
                Evolution isn’t an IT. it’s a process. And it happens all the time.
                The theory of evolution is as firmly established by evidence that it happens and has happened in the past as the Theory of gravity or Germ theory. Theory doesn’t mean ‘best guess’. It’s more like best explanation given the available evidence.
                Evolution happens and it’s absolutely a fact that it does.

                Like

              • It’s been demonstrated to have happened. You aren’t looking.
                Who are you reading? Kent hovind? Ken ham?

                Like

              • Lol! Stop with the attempts to do dueling sources! It’s dumb!

                And no… no one has ever proven, shown, demonstrated, observed, or produced any evidence — except in, you guessed, theory — that one species ever became a new, different species.

                Yes, there is, I believe, evolution, as I’ve mentioned many times before, and it’s a force to make any and all species change, sometimes to the species’ betterment, sometimes not, generally depending on external, environmental factors acting on the members of the species.

                Now, enough with evolution… it’s not relevant. How about the fact that you atheists believe in magic? We should cover that. 🙂

                No, Ark, Harry Potter was not non-fiction. It was all made up, I’m sorry to have to tell you.

                Best,

                — x

                Like

              • So, tell us, xP, Catholics, as fr as I am aware, at least believe in guided evolution(sic) so why do you accept Young Earth Creationism?

                Like

              • So tell us, Ark, as anyone who’s studied even a little bit of history is aware, atheists have murdered more people than any other group, by far, in the history of the earth, so why do you support mass murder?

                Best,

                — x

                Like

              • Which atheists praetor? [As I’ve said many times in these pages: Stalin, Pol Pot, Hitler, Mao, Castro, Lenin, et al.]

                Like

              • Have they? In the history of the earth? [Yep.]
                Good heavens, your knowledge in this regard is phenomenal, considering humans have been around for … well let’s say 100,000 years in their present form, more or less.
                But yes, I suppose it is possible they have.
                I take it that when you use the term atheists in context you are referring to anyone who is not a Christian, which to my mind might be a bit unfair. [No. Stalin, et al., were not muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Taoists, or any other religionist either.]
                If we are to do a point score in this regard surely we should include all those of a god/s/belief persuasion, including Aborigines and other such peoples?

                Be that as it may, in the interests of clarity, while atheists most certainly have been responsible for genocides and a great many other horrors, they didn’t do it in the name of atheism or because they were atheists. They were simply monsters.
                And I shall even give you dear Adolf as an atheist if you need him to bolster your numbers. And I think you will, you know? [Ark used to try to argue that Hitler was a Christian.]

                Now, consider the other side of the coin. Christians and other flavors of religiously minded people.
                Their crimes against humanity were/are in the main because of their religious beliefs.
                And we can list some of them if you like?
                Here are just a few …
                You may be interested in the attempted liquidation of the Cathars. How’s your history xP?
                The Church ordered the complete liquidation of what were considered an heretical group of Christians. [Nope. The Catholic Church has never “ordered the complete liquidation” of any group. Catholics surely have tried to convince others of the errors of their ways — as KIA and Ark are doing in this thread. But this is a disgusting libel, and Ark knows it, but Ark is not, as mentioned above, a good person.] There are a few extant documents if you care to research?

                Or the Crusades or the numerous internecine wars, the stance by Luther regarding Jews and the ensuing slaughters this caused, slavery, apartheid, or the current ongoing position regarding contraception that affected millions who contracted the HIV/AIDS virus.
                A good old Catholic stalwart!

                Probably my favorite is the attempt at genocide of the Native Americans,all in the name of your god and your religion. [Needless to say, this is completely ahistorical. Christianity never xaused slavery — slavery preceded Christianity by millennia — and Ark shows that he knows nothing about the Catholic Church’s position on contraception. Likewise, there was never any attempt to wipe out any ethnic groups in American history. It was after reading this passage that I figured that it wasn’t worth it here anymore. This passage by Ark is aggressively stupid. By that I mean that Ark knows full well that this post is garbage, but he needs to blast out a bunch of disgusting libel in order to get the discussion anywhere away from where it was… where he was getting shellacked. How do I think that Ark knows that his post is garbage? Well, no one is this stupid. However, there are people of really bad character. That’s Ark.]

                Like

        • Hi X, I am Christian but I am struggling a bit with some of your conclusions. As a Catholic I have been taught that religious faith is a gift; it is not the result of my being confronted with two alternatives and making a rational analysis to see which one makes more sense or offers me a happier life either here or eternally. We are taught that religious faith is a mysterious operation of divine grace. It can’t be compared to looking at the evidence for string theory and deciding to provisionally accept it. I think Christians sometimes talk as if belief is something that can be achieved by force of will, which removes grace altogether. I think that when we accuse nonbelievers of intellectual laziness (presumably because they have not struggled with the issues that believers sometimes do), we are assuming that the nonbeliever’s provisional rejection of the supernatural is as faith-based as our acceptance of it. I can’t see that.

          I also have never been able to see that rejection of the supernatural inevitably leads to a belief that human life is pointless. A belief that this life is all we have may be depressing to those who would like it to go on forever, but it does not make human life meaningless. “What is the point of my eating this pizza if death is truly the end?” has always struck me as a really silly question. Even as a Christian, I am eating the pizza, not because I believe I will live forever, but because eating pizza contributes to the happiness of my life on earth. Even if there were nothing beyond the grave, there is still beauty and knowledge and love and curiosity to be enjoyed on earth.

          Liked by 3 people

            • The Catholic church doesn’t make it a matter of faith, but the last four popes have accepted evolution as the theory (used in the scientific sense, not as hunch) that best explains life on earth. I have not personally encountered an anti-evolution Catholic let alone one who is a young earther, but I am sure they exist.

              Terminology is tricky. The National Academies of Sciences explain that evolution is both fact and theory. [Ummm… kind of exactly what I said before, no?] It is a fact that evolution has occurred. The theory of evolution comprehensively explains change in allele populations over time. While it is always possible that a currently accepted theory might be discarded in the future, the theory of evolution is supported by overwhelming evidence from numerous branches of science.

              I am puzzled by a statement that there are no missing links, i.e. transitional fossils. One of the ones I find most interesting is Tiktaalik, partly because its discovery shows the convergence of various lines of inquiry. [Darwin’s point was that the fossil record should be stuffed to bursting with “missing links.” He further said that if the fossil record were not overflowing with obvious missing links, then the notion that some species evolve into other species was invalid.] Biologists theorized that there must be a transitional fossil between fish and tetrapods, something that had the beginnings of hind limbs yet still lived in the water. They also predicted that this development must have occurred around 360 million years ago. So they consulted geologists who told them where to look, and after several summers digging in the Canadian Arctic, they found it. [It? Really? It? Again, Darwin said these so-called “missing links” should be all the heck over the place!]

              Some creationism apologists get around existence of hundreds [not hundreds, but hundreds of thousands] of transitional fossils by continually moving the goalposts or by changing definitions. This is a real time waster because, if they will be satisfied only by the discovery of a croco-duck, one will never be found. It is ironic that the discovery of a croco-duck would blow evolutionary theory out of the water! [Jill, really? Trying to fit in, are you? No species has ever been found to  have evolved into another species.]

              Liked by 1 person

            • Be fair, KIA! The Praetorian has not called into question my orthodoxy based on my acceptance of evolution. As I said, It is a matter on which Catholics are free to differ. That being said, Catholic parochial schools and universities teach standard evolutionary theory, and they were doing it when I was in school 50 years ago. [Good points by Jill! I’ve made these points above as well.] Our experience with Galileo had the good effect of making later theologians very cautious in their treatment of scientific discoveries!

              In the words of my dear Pope Francis,

              And “When we read the account of creation in Genesis, we risk thinking that God was a magician, complete with an all-powerful magic wand. But that was not so. He created living beings, and he let them develop according to the internal laws with which he endowed each one, that they might develop and reach their fullness.”

              And do remember that one of the great minds behind the Big Bang Theory was a priest who served as the Vatican’s astronomer.

              Like

          • Hi, Jill! What a delightful, wonderful post! Thank you for it! I’m a Catholic too. I do not in any way pretend to hold all wisdom, but when I look at what people like Ark put out there, it seems evident that they’re making a conscious effort to push God out of their lives, and then to say something like, “See? See? God’s no where to be found! I need hard proof! or I’m not buying it!” Motivation? Who knows? However, all the cool kids, the edgy kids were the ones who saw themselves as out there, aloof, not needin’ no one, especially God! Certainly the kids who went to church each Sunday, the Christians, were not, in any way, “cool.” The temptation to be seen as “cool” can be strong. With that lead in, here are my thoughts on your very thoughtful post.

            You said: Hi X, I am Christian but I am struggling a bit with some of your conclusions.

            My Response:
            Okay. So did I. I still do. The way of faith is not, by any means, the easy way out! 🙂
            – – – – — – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

            You said: As a Catholic I have been taught that religious faith is a gift; it is not the result of my being confronted with two alternatives and making a rational analysis to see which one makes more sense or offers me a happier life either here or eternally.

            My Response:
            I agree. Faith is a gift, like all good things. However, the offering of a gift has at least two parts: (1) the offer itself, and (2) the decision on the part of the intended recipient to receive the gift… or not. That part of faith is, indeed, the result of a rational analysis by the intended recipient. This is true, by the way, of all gifts. When someone gives us a Christmas gift, we have many different reactions. Sometimes we even reject the gift outright and throw it away (like the atheist when offered the gift of faith), or we might decide that we need to return it in exchange for another of a similar type but different size, color, shape… or we can decide to accept it completely and be grateful to the giver for the gift.

            There is surely a truth about all truths: If it is true, then it is true on all levels: on the faith-based level, as well as on the rational level, as well as the philosophical, the metaphysical, the practical, and any other level of consideration. This is true of the gift of faith, which operates just fine on all levels of our comprehension.
            – – – – — – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

            You said:
            We are taught that religious faith is a mysterious operation of divine grace. It can’t be compared to looking at the evidence for string theory and deciding to provisionally accept it.
            My Response:
            I think that the above paragraph might cover this one too. 🙂 One quick thing: I don’t think there’s anything provisional about accepting the gift of faith. It’s like being on the end of the pier in the lake, on the hot summer day, and leaping into the cool, clear water, but half-way down saying, “Oops… I changed my mind. I think I’ll go back now.” I don’t think faith works that way. If you have it, then you understand that you’ll always have it. If you don’t have it, then you likely never did. But, you still can… you simply have to choose to accept the gift. It is a rational decision to open yourself to the notion that you’re going to have faith, and stop demanding, like Ark, that God do parlor tricks to prove His existence.

            God is not here to dance to our tune; we’re here to dance to His. And, serious question, why not? When we were very young, we quite willingly danced to the tune of our parents, because we knew that they knew more than we, that they had more experience, that they were wiser, that they had perspectives that only they could have. It’s only when we achieve a certain age that we then think, “Hey, maybe I know more than Dad!” Generally, if Dad has been staying intellectually active, we’re wrong, but we acknowledge that Dad did at one point know more than we. God will always know more, be wiser, have perspectives we can’t have, etc… It should be joyful for us to “dance to His tune.” 🙂
            – – – – — – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

            You said:
            I think Christians sometimes talk as if belief is something that can be achieved by force of will, which removes grace altogether.
            My Response:
            I agree. Some Christians do. I hope I don’t. It could be that I don’t express myself well enough here. the arguments here tend to be so superficial and silly, that it’s hard to respond at that level. However, it’s not, I think, force of will that brings about belief, but force of will that allows us to open ourselves up to belief. There’s a difference. To maintain an open mind requires an act of that will. I think that it’s that “force of will” that is involved with accepting the gift of faith. Don’t forget: you can tell God to take a hike anytime you want. And He will, if you do so. That rejection is an act of the will, every bit as much as is the acceptance of God’s grace.
            – – – – — – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

            You said:
            I think that when we accuse nonbelievers of intellectual laziness (presumably because they have not struggled with the issues that believers sometimes do), we are assuming that the nonbeliever’s provisional rejection of the supernatural is as faith-based as our acceptance of it. I can’t see that.
            My Response:
            I may have been overly glib with that accusation. (-blush-) I should have accused Ark of intellectual laziness. His questions — generally in the vein of “Oh, yeah? Tell him to prove it!” — are so dumb, and he’s been asking them for years! He’s received many responses that, if he were not intellectually lazy, would have allowed him to get off that very rudimentary thinking and onto more intelligent ground. That he hasn’t budged in years is convincing evidence that he’s intellectually lazy. I’m trying (not always with success) to avoid calling him an idiot — because I think he only plays one in blog posts. 🙂 I dobelieve that atheism represents the easy way out. Again, it’s the way of the “cool” kids, which everyone wants to be… until they realize how dumb that can be, and it does grant to the atheist a moral “Get Out of Jail Free” card. Certainly, to be a person of faith is to take the more demanding, arduous intellectual road, as your outstanding post demonstrated. His demand for God to “prove” Himself is every bit as dogmatic, every bit as much a demonstration of faith in his conclusion that God can’t prove himself, as the most religious person. It’s why I’ve said numerous times to Ark that even if God were to do the parlor trick that Ark would believe, Ark wouldn’t, then, believe. Now, that’s faith!
            – – – – — – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

            You said:
            I also have never been able to see that rejection of the supernatural inevitably leads to a belief that human life is pointless. A belief that this life is all we have may be depressing to those who would like it to go on forever, but it does not make human life meaningless.
            My Response:
            Good point… and again, I might have been too glib here. However, a “rejection of God” (not just of the supernatural 🙂 ) can, and often does, lead to the belief that human life is pointless, or worse — valueless (cf, eg: Stalin, Josif, Hitler, Adolf, Mao tse Tung, et al). An acceptance of God is an acceptance of our subservience to God, and an understanding that our lives ought to be ordered by the rules and regulations set down by God. If one is a Christian, then those rules and regulations are pretty clear, and we’re called to consider — frequently — how we ought to act when presented with the various circumstances of our lives.
            – – – – — – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

            You said: “What is the point of my eating this pizza if death is truly the end?” has always struck me as a really silly question. Even as a Christian, I am eating the pizza, not because I believe I will live forever, but because eating pizza contributes to the happiness of my life on earth.
            My Response:
            Again, this might be because of a surfeit of glibness on my part in a previous post. The conclusion that the pizza is pointless is not inevitable, but permitted for any atheist. Why? Simple: if his life is over, over, over and done when he dies, then anything he does can have only the value that he decides it has in his own mind. Because, if there is no God, then the atheist has no choice but to believe that he himself is the only logical “supreme being” in his own life. Therefore, he is able to assign to that pizza any value he chooses; from perfectly meaningless to divine, and all points in-between. You and I, as Christians, don’t have that particular“luxury” in our lives. It’s why we consider that pizza still another gift, and why we thank God for it in “grace” before a meal. Christians are always thanking God for this gift and that gift, with the realization that, really, all things are gifts — even bad things. If, that is, we allow them to bring us closer to God. (a central lesson I’ve always told my children.)

            As Christians, we realize that our purpose in life is to draw closer to God. My corollary to that is simple: Everything — no exceptions — can help us to be closer to God, and should be thought of as a gift. Again, though, the gift requires the rational, conscious acceptance of the gift also. 🙂
            – – – – — – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

            You said:
            Even if there were nothing beyond the grave, there is still beauty and knowledge and love and curiosity to be enjoyed on earth.

            My Response:
            Sure. Or, there’s nothing, and no point. The atheist is permitted this bleak perspective; the Christian not so much. Some notable atheists have taken this bleakness, and run far and fast with it. Again, see the list of notable atheists above.
            – – – – — – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

            Jill (one of my favorite names, btw) thanks for your thoughtful, well-written post!

            Best,

            — x

            Like

            • Amazing, Jill puts up a straightforward post and this D#####ad, Praetorius feels the need to write a patronizing and almost condescending tome in reply – and seems compelled to include me in almost every paragraph.
              And he says he is a Catholic. Phew! I am sure Jill is absolutely stunned by this revelation – stunned in an, Oh WTF sort of way!

              Like

              • Lol! Typical Ark… you were included in the post because you’re such an archetype. Ark: you read “patronizing and condescending” because you would have read that no matter what I’d written.

                Jill wrote a thoughtful rejoinder to what I wrote; a rejoinder that seemed to request some clarification of what I was thinking. I provided that clarification.

                Certainly nothing condescending or patronizing was intended, though I can’t rule out that my ability of written self-expression is less than stellar. You do tell me, after all, that I’m an idiot, which is kind of funny because you almost always use really idiotic language to tell me so. 🙂

                “D####ead.” Is that a college word?

                My intent was to be respectful, polite and to answer Jill’s intelligent, respectful response to my post. Was that somehow wrong of me?

                I’m curious, Ark… was I supposed not to respond to Jill’s excellent post? Was I supposed simply to ignore it? You seem to have appointed yourself the etiquettarian (my coinage) here.

                Best,

                — x

                Like

              • Yes , I do ”tell you” that you are an idiot, although, in truth, it is not in fact necessary as it is plain for everyone to see.
                I just enjoy writing the words.

                D#####ad is a character description that I find tends to fit your ilk perfectly.
                Tell me, do you think by substituting letters with asterisks you are somehow not fouling your conscience by actually writing the word in full?

                Like

              • No, words like “d####ead”‘ are just stupid.

                I too used to use such language when I didn’t have the vocabulary to express myself more coherently.

                Then I grew up, and learned some words.

                Best,

                — x

                Like

              • Then I grew up, and learned some words.

                Yet you remain a Christian? This demonstrates a contradiction of terms regarding having grown up – and you are still a D#####ad

                Like

              • Lol! Additional note: Don’t give up your day job to write snark either… you’re not good at it, having apparently resort only to a very limited vocabulary.

                What’s got to be the worst for you is that you always get so soundly thumped by someone you consider an “idiot” and a “d####ead.”

                By rights, you ought to be really embarrassed. I suspect, though, that you’re insufficiently self-aware, and have an inadequate vocabulary, either to experience embarrassment, or to know what it is.

                Hold on, though… I’ll write your next post for you:

                That’s what you call “beating” me? You really are a d####ead, you d####ead.

                There, I saved you some additional illiterate typing, and probably an hour’s worth of hunting and pecking amongst all those, you know, letters and things! Now you can go back to playing with the other little goons and thugs.

                Best,

                — x

                Like

              • I generally utilise a level of vocabulary I deem fit for the individual I am speakiong or writing to.
                WordPress doesn’t allow me to use a font that depicts colored crayons when I reply to your comments, and as much as I really try, even I am unable to restrict myself to writing one syllable words for your benefit, so I guess that at some point you are just going to have to think a little bit more.

                Like

              • Darn! I predicted the other post!

                Now, that was actually some adequate snark, showing a spark of imagination!

                ‘Bout time, Ark! Now, if you could up your intellectual game just a bit, that would be a good thing too.

                Best,

                — x

                Like

            • X, thank you for your kind comments. I’m only going to address a couple of points because I am supposed to be helping my daughter pack her suitcase. What I question is the assumption that, if there is nothing beyond this world and that death is final, that realization produces despair and a sense of meaninglessness. It has not been my experience of nonbelievers that they experience an existential terror of death, or any sense that their lives lack meaning and purpose. In fact, their awareness of their mortality may heighten both appreciation and joy. Think of Wallace Stevens’ comment: ‘Death is the mother of beauty. Only the perishable can be beautiful, which is why we are unmoved by artificial flowers.’

              Or, consider this trivial example. I adore Paris with every fibre of my being. Suppose a benefactor said to me, “I will pay for you to live in Paris for ten years. You will have every opportunity to immerse yourself in everything Paris has to offer. You can even live in a bijou apartment on the Boulevard St. Michel, and the house of Chanel will design all your clothes. But, at the end of ten years, you will leave and never come back again.” Who would turn down such an offer simply because the wonder must end one day? Wouldn’t the awareness of the deadline add piquancy to the experience?

              Even among religious people, large numbers find solace and meaning in their beliefs while having very sketchy views about whether there is survival of the individual consciousness after death.

              I think I disagree with you about the possibility of losing one’s faith. What about the dark night of the soul where one soldiers on solely through obedience although every sense of God’s existence has been obliterated? The nuns used to tell us to guard our faith which surely must mean that it is possible to lose it. But I agree with you that a superficial, unexamined faith can be lost because it was never real to that person in the first place. We often see this with adolescents who realize they had been giving lip service to something they had never really believed. And faith can be lost for a time, perhaps through personal tragedy, and then regained

              Liked by 2 people

              • Just a couple of quick things: First: again a delightful response, and I thank you for it.

                I too love Paris, possibly about as much as you describe, which is weird because I’m decidedly a country boy. For some reason, I fell in love with Paris, and not at all with any of the other major cities I’ve been in around the world. I lived in Paris some time ago, and have returned several times since. I was in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower, and was both a student and an underwear model at that time. How’s that for having an experience of Paris?!? I think that later in life, your Paris deal might be a good thing to accept, but the younger person might not want to limit his or her experience of Paris to ten years. 🙂

                I have to disagree a bit with Wallace Stevens. I understand his point, but I have some very realistic-looking outdoor artificial hanging plants — not flowers — that local birds have for several years now found to be perfectly congenial to their needs for housing and family raising. I love those artificial plants, and find them quite beautiful!

                I agree with you that non-believers can gain an enhanced appreciation for the preciousness of life, but also atheism can produce the exact opposite, as it did in the Hitlers, Stalins, Maos, etc… In Christianity, there is no possibility of a Hitler, or a Stalin… There is nothing in Christianity that permits such a state of mind; and much that absolutely, unambiguously prohibits it. While with atheism, there is no prohibition for the Hitlerian or Stalinist or Maoist state of mind.

                You’re absolutely right… it would seem perfectly logical for the atheist to think that life is gigantically, vastly, incomprehensibly precious… However, at any point in his life the atheist also can contemplate his short existence in the context of billions and billions of years of universal existence, and conclude that his 100 years are pretty much the same as three years, or three hundred… or three thousand. At that point, he has the opportunity to conclude: “Well, I guess life is meaningless after all.” That’s a life/thought exercise that we Christians don’t face. People like Hitler, Stalin, etc. did come to such a conclusion. Was it in response to the contemplation of the awful math inherent in atheism, or was it a slavish adherence to Marxism, and its militant atheism, or was it indigestion? No way to know, but it’s still a sure thing that we Christians don’t have anywhere to turn to find justification for such a conclusion, whereas for the atheist his justification for any and all behavior is right there at any time. I agree that he shouldn’t interpret the lack of a prohibition for his worst impulses except to embrace the preciousness of life, but that’s because I do appreciate the preciousness of life… a concept that some notable atheists have rejected violently in recent history.

                As to your last paragraph, you are, I suspect, correct. I sometimes have the fault of expressing myself in overly general or absolute terms. Here’s a sure thing: There are seven+ billion people on the Earth, and seven+ billion completely different experiences of God. If there is only one God, as I have faith that there is, then there are still seven+ billion experiences and perceptions of Him, and seven+ billion expressions of those different perceptions. And every last one of those seven+ billion expressions of those seven+ billion perceptions is being delivered in hundreds of different languages, using words that — even in the same language — are easy to misuse, misinterpret and misunderstand. Saul’s unambiguous blinding light conversion experience makes a whole more sense in light of all that.

                Still, despite it all, there is, I believe, a single truth: that a person’s relationship with God is what counts above all. 🙂

                Again, Jill… a wonderful, thoughtful and thought-provoking comment, and I thank you for it.
                Best,

                — x

                Like

        • Wow, that’s quite a detailed response … might need more coffee for that 😉

          But in the end, either (1) Someone is right, and someone is wrong, or (2) Both are wrong. Both can’t be right.

          Depends. We’re talking about humans here, and humans are a weird bunch.
          Also, both can be right, but be missing pieces of information, or have issues about definition.
          I say “The horse is brown”
          You say “The horse is tall!” [This is an excellent post by Shiarrael, proving my point that as soon as you get into the weeds, the sophistry of KIA is nearly inevitable. Out of that come fifteen different definitions for what are — plainly — atheists, as well as countless ways to try to wriggle out of inconsistent positions through the mere manipulation of words.]

          Both is correct, if we’ve a 16 hand bay mare standing there. But we both missed the ‘mare’ part, a horse person would argue “It’s called bay, not brown!” and a pedantic person would complain “Tall compared to what?”

          Unless we’re talking about faith, in which case it’s the agnostic’s predicament again. How does one figure out who has it right, and does trying and/or ‘close enough’ count for anything at all?

          I’m pretty sure that you don’t think the anti-theists are believers who simply don’t like God? More to the point: I’m pretty sure that you believe that anti-theists are also atheists, correct?

          I’m actually not quite sure about that.

          To clarify: If someone tells me they don’t believe in any gods at all, I’m inclined to take their word for it unless and until their words or actions seem to indicate otherwise. Then I might ask “Are you sure?”
          Same goes for believers. If they say “I’m Christian” I take their word for it. If they don’t act of talk the way I think one should, I might also ask “Are you sure?”
          But in the end I try not to apply my perception of what an atheist or a Christian or a Muslim or a Hindu should be like. I may be entitled to an opinion, but unless I’ve studied the Vedas and Upsa … somethings forward and backward and had an intimate talk with Ganesha.. I’m hardly an authority.

          In that vein, I think there might be anti-theists who are genuinely angry at a being they believe exists. [This seems unlikely. It’s likely that the anti-theists are atheists too.] Most (I’m guessing) will be more angry with the human spokespersons of that deity, and expand their feelings onto the man behind the curtain, uncertain whether the latter is real and/or distorted.
          Others will fit your description above – actual non-believers who vehemently protest against what they perceive as humans making up stories and inventing gods to gain power and influence.

          People often say things — like “There can be only one cult” — just to say them

          We were on the subject of Stalin and the Orthodox Church of Russia. In this context, the statement isn’t a platitude, but a comment on how to gain and maintain (absolute) power. Tolerating the church would have undermined Stalin’s authority, as the Church leaders would likely not have simply accepted their loss of influence. [Without getting too far into this, I think this is close to correct. However, Stalin was an equal opportunity oppressor. He killed anyone and everyone who even hinted that they might threaten his authority. The Church — like, for example, the Boy Scouts, was not an organization that Stalin and his group of monsters had formed, so he squashed it. Stalin tolerated no organizations of which either he was not the founder, or Lenin was not the founder.]

          And since you brought up modern Christianity’s splintering and newfound tolerance: there is a connection between the loss of power and said fragmentation.
          When the Catholic Church ruled supreme, heretics burned. [Yes, few. But some. Compared to atheistic Socialism, Christianity isn’t even close.] When there was but one dominant Christian faith, the Pope ruled his own lands, could bend kings to his will.
          Even with two denominations at each other’s throats (after Luther) there was still power consolidated in two major groups. Neither of whom tolerated dissent within their respective sphere of influence. There could be only their version.

          No problem at all

          That would be nice.
          But I get what you mean (I think) – 16 hands is tall compared to what? [Ummm… compared to the average for the same species, I guess.  Yes, something like that is built into the assertion that “16 hands is tall.” When we say “Shaquille O’Neal is tall,” we mean compared to the average human. If built into the discussion is “compared to skyscrapers,” then Shaquille becomes a pipsqueak.]
          Compared to their own history, compared to some modern forms of Islam, most modern Christians are content to proselytize.
          If the methods of some groups seem betimes questionable, if other groups’ threats of hell and damnation are off-putting to me personally … well, that’s a matter of taste.

          What worries me sometimes are the groups who talk and act like they wouldn’t mind at all throwing a few undesirables off a roof, or stoning some others. If those guys ever consolidated power again and became The Only One… [Shiarrael means: “muslims.” here. Because these are the only ones who might threaten to do what Jill fears. Christians never did this. Not as a group. Christianity 101, again: Christians are asked to persuade others of the validity of Christianity. Tossing them from the roof will not result in persuasion.]

          Environmentalism, Feminism

          A matter of taste, too?
          I don’t know what your political persuasion is, but this roundhouse condemnation of of benign ideas by reducing them to cult status is distressingly élitist in the “Who cares about them as are not me” sense, as well as totalitarian in the “My way or the Highway” sense.
          (sorry about the mild snark, it seemed a playful way to illustrate how two people can look at the same thing and see somewhat entirely different…) [I appreciate good snark! This was not bad snark.]

          You see, I rather like nature. I was born and raised surrounded by it. If greedy corporations poison my beloved rivers, you bet I’ll have some choice words for them. What good is a job, if I can’t drink the water? Especially if there is a better way to do things.
          If I catch you leaving your trash in the forest behind my parents’ house, I’ll have words for you, too. It’s not just rude, it hurts the little critters and the plants.
          If I make you pick it up and be a responsible and considerate person, does that make me a member of the Environmentalist Cult?  [If this were the extent of Environmentalism, that might be okay. However, it’s not, and it should be noted that Environmentalists are cultists. You cannot safely speak against Environmentalism in America today.]

          I am female. I rather like being equal before the law, and equal pay for equal work seems only fair to me. Making allowances for biology when appropriate seems also fair, but I realize it requires a bit of discussion and goodwill. Prostate exams for you, breast cancer screens for me?

          I think I’m a feminist because I like being seen as a person first, a woman second. Like a horse is a horse first, and a mare or stallion or gelding second.
          If someone tells me to go to the kitchen and make a sammich because I have no business doing a job I’m damn good at just because I wear a bra… I’ll have words for them.
          Am I cult-ish? [You’re not but, like Environmentalism, if this were what Feminism was all about, that would be wonderful. What you’ve described was achieved more than 40 years ago. Also, what you’ve described is the general perception of the definition of feminism, but again like Environmentalism, you cannot safely speak out against Feminism in America today Feminism is, indeed, a cult.]

          Religious people often take “their strategies right out of the totalitarian playbook.” That’s when believers get it wrong, as they often do. And, it’s an important distinction.

          A chicken/egg dilemma?
          If I look at some major religions, they have the totalitarian approach built right into the foundations. [Only Islam.]

          do think the early Catholic Church got their ideas on consolidating power and spreading their doctrine from the Roman Empire. Which it then used as a vehicle to spread its version of Christianity.
          Egg/chicken … ?

          I think we can at least agree that it’s a bad approach all around. For believers and non-believers alike.

          Well… that’s kind of a shot at the common people!

          It’s rather an angry defense of them.
          Were kept dumb. In utter ignorance. Willfully, with the intent of keeping control of them.
          If you don’t know your fine and noble lords manipulate you by telling you “You’re born a lesser human than I because I’m a duke of Hihghsoundistan”, that you actually have the same potential to be a genius (or a dumbass) … if everyone you know tells you it’s true, … if you see what happens to people who challenge the status quo…

          If you can’t read or write because it’s considered ‘not needful’ for dumb peasants, if the ones in power control access to education and knowledge, how will you ever realize you’re a born engineer? How many Einsteins toiled Russian fields all their lives, never allowed to realize what they were? [Fair points.]

          is a depressingly leftist, élitist, totalitarian mindset

          Oh, I’m much worse than that 😋
          I’m a full throttle Liberal Hippie Snowflake with a gun (and your tax dollars paid to teach me how to use it). [Oof. What a shame! Life’s way too short for any snowflakery. I like Shiarrael, but the snowflake thing is just… unfortunate.]

          Alright, need a quick break but I’ll get back to you on the standpoints and Pascal …

          Liked by you

          • 🙂

            GREAT post, Shiarrael!

            Just a couple of quick remarks…

            Before we get too far down the road, I think there was a good reason for which Saul saw a great light… a blinding, unambiguous, no-doubt-about it, light… a light that laid him low for an extended period of time. It had the effect of preventing any ambiguity in God’s message to Saul. The ambiguity that is causing this vast flow of verbiage. 🙂

            I’ve had several such incidents… not quite so dramatic, but unmistakable, in my life.

            Also, I think the story of the Gordian Knot is instructive here. The points you make about your mare’s tallness or brownness or mareness are excellent, and prove that, with words, and a strong command of them, there is always, always, always a way around them, an argument for or against any other argument.

            I don’t know whether you’re aware of Allalt… a blogger congenial on this topic to the viewpoint of Ark and KIA. All three of those bloggers met the following description: Never once admitting that I might have had a point, all while complaining that I never admitted that they had a point.

            Allallt proved to be a sophist’s sophist, with a fine command of words, and the ability to use them, as well as a delightful interlocutor. However, he quickly proved unable to accept the possibility that others might have a different — or even superior! — argument. (Yes: superior… there’s nothing wrong with observing that one argument is better thought out, better reasoned… better.)

            As you can surmise, all that can become circular very quickly as each “side” tries to find the right word or phrase either to lock the other into a corner, or to escape any corners into which they might have been locked.

            In reference to your last paragraph, and to simplify a bit: No contradiction in what I said about the atheist acting with purpose. I believe that the human being yearns at his deepest, deepest level to be with God. Hence, the atheist does — even unintentionally! — act with purpose, with a goal, as if things mean things.

            If I’m right, then I suspect we should all be open to the possibility of dramatic, unambiguous conversion experiences, appropriate to what each individual requires to get him back to God. I believe also that we can close God out of our lives completely… We don’t have to know what or who He is, merely that we’ll not allow Him — in any form — into our lives.

            I see and concur with your points about the Inuits and the Berbers, but disagree about the sand/snow thing. After all, the notion of creation/Creator is abstract and universal, requiring no concrete specifics like the difference between the two substances. However, your point is well thought-out and well-made, and potentially a good description of the conversations between atheists and believers. I have to consider it a bit more, before I conclude what I actually think of it. Thank you for that.

            It’s a sure thing that when Ark, for example, sees a post from me, doors close in his mind, essentially closing off the possibility of fruitful conversation. He immediately becomes hyper-defensive, abusive and, well, stupid. I believe he chooses to be that way, and can choose not to be that way. He simply chooses to be that way toward me, which I perceive as a failure in my choices of ways to address him. I don’t know whether he’s that way everywhere. The point: conversation and understanding can be stymied by a participant’s ill will also. Conversation — especially written conversation — is complicated as it is, without sabotage.

            Best,

            — x

            Like

        • Alright, second pot is brewing…

          On standpoints:
          I think we had another near-miss here. We got close, but I seem to have neglected to elaborate what I meant.

          Yes, I’m looking at it from the perpetually befuddled but endlessly inquisitive agnostic’s point of view, and try to take that into consideration when talking with either side.
          I do think it sometimes gives me an “Out of the box” perspective, where I see believers and atheists come at the same thing from their respective angles, and I’m standing in the middle getting run over… (sorry. German coffee makes me a bit goofy).

          Anyways.
          A man willing to risk eternity for his “non-belief” is man exhibiting a strong faith in his conclusions indeed.

          You’re sure there is an eternity.
          The atheist is sure there is not [Not if you read Ark, KIA or Ron. 🙂 If you read them, either they believe nothing (KIA), or their beliefs are all over the map (Ron), or they’re just complete buffoons (Ark).]

          Those are your respective perspectives. (that’s my poetry for the day)

          From yours, he is gambling (and badly).
          From his, there is no gamble as there is nothing to be gained. [Or, as I pointed out, he could be simply taking the lazy way out. This is Ark. Let’s not forget, that his style of self-presentation indicates nothing edgy or sophisticated, or smart and witty, but rather just… lazy. He’s an idiot because he chooses to be an idiot.]

          Just like you may have trouble understanding how someone can think this way, he has trouble understanding how you came to your conclusion.

          You don’t just have near misses, you each completely fail to see the other’s view. Like a Berber explaining the Rif to an Inuit, and vice versa.
          “No, I’m talking about sand not weird yellow gritty snow. And it’s a mountain, not a stationary iceberg!”

          Do you ever get the feeling atheists just don’t get what you’re talking about?
          That they (perhaps willfully?) twist, reinterpret, poke at words, and eventually just toss the whole thing? Because you’re not making any sense? [Yes. Good point. However, there is also the possibility that ]

          You’re assuming everyone knows the Rif, and what a Sirocco is, and a wadi.
          They don’t.
          Perhaps you try to explain, but you still use Berber words. Heat and rocks and rivers that disappear.
          None of this means anything to the Inuit. They have words like snow, and ice and sun at midnight, and seals and ocean and silver whales and hard snow and fluffy snow and bugger more snow.
          If they’re willing to talk, they might try to interpret what you’re saying with things they know. “I see! Like a weird iceberg!” – no, that’s NOT what a mountain is… and round we go.

          Might as well be talking Mandarin it would be easier. Your experiences, your way to see the world, to interpret what your senses tell you, your viewpointsare so different.

          (Meanwhile the agnostic sits on Ireland surrounded by lush green, getting drenched by rain, with nary a clue as to what either of you are talking about but realizing it’s not going well. Rocks, yes, I get that. Whales, too. But the rest? How to see what the other sees? First, perhaps, realize that the other can’t see what I see? Take it from there?)

          Why should the more limited perspective of the one denying, or doubting, be superior to the one who has belief?

          Why should the person who sees fairies be superior to the one who sees a bunch of flowers and a dragonfly?
          Why are we talking superiority in the first place? [Depends. If it’s a field of fairies, then that’s the superior perspective.]

          […] but it’s limited by the fact that most people who pronounce themselves to be atheists, have tried, and failed, to grapple with understanding eternity and the larger perspectives.

          Have they? [I think so, yes.]
          Is “I don’t understand the whole thing, but I’ve figured out some parts and it’s awesome!” a failure? [No. But not success either. Maybe just a waystation on the way to truth. If that waystation is, indeed, on the way to truth, then that’s at least a good thing.]
          Is wonder, and searching, and journeying, and admitting “There is so much I don’t know but what marvel are the things I learned” .. failing? [See previous comment.]

          Maybe there are some atheists who fit your perception, I have come across maybe one or two who’d come close. One at least I know was a deeply faithful person and … well, bad things happened. They have given up, in a sense.
          But they’re hardly representative of the majority.

          It is true: Atheism requires vastly less actual intellectual effort, less struggle… less than belief. After you come to belief, then you have to grapple with how to live in accord with your belief! It never ends! However, for the atheist it does, and he can go back to playing cards, drinking beer, watching Jeopardy, being an accountant…without ever having to grapple again with… What’s the Point?” or “How did it all come about?” or, “Why?”

          This is where I really wonder about standpoints.
          I wonder if this is something you tell yourself to feel better, something you want to believe and thus convinced yourself it is true because it must be true … or whether you’re looking at the Aurora Borealis and are seeing green and purple sand falling from the sky.

          Because it doesn’t fit. [Oh? How so?]

          Agnostics don’t have the monopoly on daft questions, atheists give us a fair run for our money.
          “What’s the Point?” is in fact an all time favorite!
          “Why?” is asked with the obnoxious persistence of a horse who knows you got carrots in that pocket, and if none ever asked “How did it come about?” we’d not have people cheerfully poking holes into the fabric of the universe (until a rodent accidentally falls into the LHC. Yes, that happened).

          I’d even argue the intellectual effort is more strenuous.
          The atheist doesn’t have the luxury of saying “Because god!” [But, “Because God” never flies for anyone. It’s a fair point when it comes to arguments, but my point was that the believing path is the more difficult intellectual path for life.] and promptly go to lunch. S/he has to search question, question again, and keep on searching.

          For the atheist, the only answer to any “Why” question is, “No reason.”

          Nihilist. You mean nihilist. [Okay. The nihilist is an atheist too. Add him to the list, along with the Agnostic Atheists, the Gnostic Atheists, the Evangelical Atheists, the Militant Atheists, the Materialists, the Agnostics, the This, That and The Other Thing Atheists… and so on. ]

          Yes I know, there are scores of people who think this is how atheists ought to think (and they go and disagree, the scoundrels).
          That atheist must automatically equate to nihilism and materialism and a few other isms. That non-compliance with this assumption equates to dishonesty.
          Thus leaving moral authority firmly … where?
          Ah.

          As someone outside either box, I’d like to recommend you don’t fall for that self-built trap (daft internet, no tone of voice or body language. Please insert friendly puppy with squeaky toy here, offering a wag).

          Atheists are not obligated to think or act in the way you think they ought to. They are not obligated to make believers feel better about themselves (neither am I but that’s another kettle of fish). [I completely agree. However, atheists are, indeed, free at any time to conclude that they are. They’re free at any time to conclude any ol’ thing they want! For any ol’ reason they want to use! That’s long been one of my main contentions. Some atheists conclude that it’s okay to murder millions upon millions upon millions upon millions of people, and there’s not a single thing that any other atheist can say to condemn it. The Christian can, though, say, “Because God!” and point to an absolute set of rules, laws and beliefs that unambiguously condemn mass murder. ]

          For the atheist, the actual answer to any “Why” question is, “Because I like puppies” or “Because gravity” or “Because gas prices” or “Because Einstein” or “Buggered if I know, ask Steve” or “That’s interesting, let me google it’ or “Because of the loveliness of the other chicken” or …. [Or… “It’s just fine to murder millions upon millions of people.” Just sayin’]

          Speaking of lovely – Jill beat me to the pizza question 😋

          Even after he’s declared himself to be supreme! Atheism is the lazy man’s way out, as well as a silly, pointless way to take the off-ramp of the intellectual highway of life.

          Great, now I got AC/DC’s classic stuck in my head…
          If I go down in a handbasket, I’ll blame you! [Apologies.]

          There sure is no shortage of theists and atheists accusing each other to be acting ‘supreme’. I might declare this very paragraph as an example of theistic declaration of supremacy, if I were grumpy. [I believe that a theist declares God to be supreme, no?]

          But I’m thinking you’re either venting some frustration, or still trying to feel better about having antagonistic emotions towards the other side by making them seem ‘less’. [Nope. I don’t consider anyone “less.” Never have. People can be “less,” but it’s generally by choice.]
          It’s okay. I disagree, but I sort of get it. My rants about some atheists sound distinctly different from yours, I accuse them of the opposite in fact. But it’s ranting all the same. 😋

          —————————————
          (Har, I’m borrowing this, it’s a good idea!)
          ————————————-

          I don’t know… I suspect, though, that not to let God into your life, is, substantively, the same as overtly kicking Him out.

          Rif. Rocks. Wadis.

          How does one let a being one doesn’t begin to understand into ones life?
          Let alone kick somewhat one cannot define in way shape or form out of it?

          I’m quite serious.
          How? [I believe that God is always trying to communicate with us. We can exclude Him with an act of will — free will, that is. I’m quite serious, and have experienced some of these efforts to communicate with me. Also, I don’t have all the answers. As I mentioned above, there are seven+ billion people on the planet, and therefore seven+ billion different experiences of God.]

          I’ve gotten a plethora of answers, none particularly helpful

          “Read the bible!”
          OK. Tried. Didn’t get that part, that one was icky, that over there was lovely, that one was…
          “Heathen!”
          Right. Never mind.

          “Read the Quran!”
          OK Tried. Errrrr… hard pass? Sorry…
          “Unbeliever!”
          Right. Sure. I’ll show myself out?

          “Go to church!”
          Which one?
          “Mine!”
          OK. Is this it, now? Am I doing this right? What’s happening next? How do I know I’m doing it right?
          “Get out!”
          Right. My bad.

          “Pray!”
          Ok. How? To whom? Is “to whom it might concern” alright for beginners? Is parroting the classics acceptable, or do I have to personalize the thing, like..
          “Heretic!”
          Right. Gotcha. [Lol! A bit glib, all this, but this last one may be your answer. (Again, I don’t have all the answers.) When you pray, you don’t have to “pray to someone.” If you have the notion that you’re praying to your Creator, then that’s enough. He (just the generic pronoun… don’t read anything into it) doesn’t need to be named. Only to know that you’re trying to communicate with Him. What form do your prayers have to take? You tell me. If you call your mother, does your conversation always have to take the same form? Say whatever you want, only direct it sincerely to God. Ask for things. Ask for courage, for peace, for forgiveness, for rest, for cure, for love, for companionship. Tell Him things. Tell Him what ticks you off. Tell Him what you don’t understand, what you love, what drives you nuts, what thrills you. Yes, He knows it all already, but He’ll be thrilled to hear from you. And listen. When you call your mother, do you do all the talking? Be open to hearing something. Maybe not in the same room, but in your mind. Be open to receiving the answer to your prayer. If you pray for peace, be open to receiving the gift of peace. If you pray for forgiveness, be open to being forgiven, because you will be. If you pray for courage, be open to the notion that you’ll have courage the next time you need it. ]

          (may contain mild exaggerations. May.)

          I realize it may seem natural and effortless to you.
          It isn’t. [It doesn’t have to be. But one should make the effort.]

          ————————————

          The farmer has vast experience, or sufficiently compelling evidence, indicating that putting dead husks into the ground will not result in new plants. The non-believer — in my humble opinion 🙂 — has evidence of God all around him

          Another near-miss.
          I was trying to explain the Inuit to you.
          How I think an atheist sees the matter.

          From his point of view, the husk is dead, and his experience stems from looking back at millennia of human history and countless dead gods. None of whom ever amounted to anything. Maybe a crumbling temple or two. Athens has a nice one. Who knows the deity it belonged to?

          and simply denies it.

          No, I don’t think that’s how it works.

          It’s an easy (lazy? 😉) conclusion to come to, especially if one has been taught that something evil blinds those who don’t believe as you do. [I don’t think that “something evil” blinds those who don’t believe as I do.]

          To be in denial one must, in some part, believe.

          An atheist will look at your evidence and see somewhat different. A narwhal, perhaps, but not a unicorn.

          Yet, even non-believers — in perfect imitation of God — act with purpose, do things to achieve a goal, do things for a point, implicitly answer the question: “What’s the point?”

          This is where we’re going in circles.

          An ancestor of mine would have argued humans act like this because of Óðinn. A Buddhist would argue it’s because of Karma, or the desire to reach enlightenment. A Muslim would sort of agree with you, and then proceed to tell you what you’re wrong about.
          Are they silly, too?

          An atheist … takes the gods out of the equation. All of them.

          (By the way, you sort of contradicted yourself there a bit. I can’t square the lazy, pizza-eating, nihilist atheist with the ” act with purpose, do things to achieve a goal, do things for a point” thing…)

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            • As tritely predictable as always, Ark! The funny thing is to watch the flailing! Shiarrael’s post is brilliant… and long. It’ll take me some time to respond with the attention it merits.

              And I just arrived home from my son’s triumphant volleyball game. He’s a great player, standing 6’8″ or so, known as The Great Wall. And he has realistic Olympic possibilities. Needless to say, I’m pretty psyched!

              Bottom line, I’m kinda tired, and might not be able to get to it tonight, though I’ll try.

              Best,

              — x

              Like

              • Breathe, Praetorius 😉

                Ark made an amicable nerd-jest, which I quite appreciated.
                Serves me right, I rather presented it to him on a silver platter. Someone was bound to pick up that squeaky toy and run with it. 🐬

                Liked by 1 person

              • Good point, Shiarrael… However, the point is that no one should have picked it up.

                42 is on the same level as “Take my wife… please!” for way, way, way overused triteness.

                Worse, it’s what all the kids who think they’re ever so cool (but really aren’t) say, to show how ever so cool they are.

                Wildly cringe-inducing.

                Best,

                — x

                Like

              • Huh, this is interesting… I admit that kind of reaction would not have occurred to me.

                Nor would I count myself as “cool” – I’m old enough to have been the weird kid in high school for liking Star Trek and chemistry and physics rather than makeup and quarterbacks. That ‘outsider’ feeling tends to stick.

                Standpoints again? Question of personal preference?

                To me it’s like a friendly “Hey there fellow nerd” – like two complete strangers in dirty riding boots and with hay in their hair launching into horsey talk. Mutual recognition (it’s the smell).
                I daresay if Ark had equines on his blog, we’d banter about long faces and alfalfa.

                Trite… or classics? Easily recognizable, at least.

                […] the point is that no one should have picked it up.

                This is where a bit of “alright bud, you do you, and I’ll be over here rolling my eyes so had I’ll sprain something” comes in handy.

                Telling people what they should or should not do, especially if they mean no harm, especially if it didn’t involve you … just makes you look rude, no? [No.]

                Speaking of horseys – got a blog post to finish! 😁
                Alfalfa! (*ducks and runs….*)

                Liked by you

      • Even if you believe there is something to gamble/something to gain (or lose), this kind of argument still seems to me to miss the point. It assumes that the nonbeliever can, on the basis of self-interest, flick a mental switch and accept as true propositions that he has previously sincerely viewed as false or unsubstantiated. [No. The non-believer needs merely to be open to hearing from God. the non-believer does not need to be “convinced.” Merely open.] Perhaps in Pascal’s day religious belief was so widespread that most people had some basic acceptance of God which could either be embraced or suppressed. But not now.

        A lot of people grow up with no religious belief at all. It has never been presented to them, and it is alien. [Like Madalyn Murray O’Hair’s son? 🙂 William Murray became a Christian in 1980 and his mother said this of him “One could call this a postnatal abortion on the part of a mother, I guess; I repudiate him entirely and completely for now and all times … he is beyond human forgiveness.” Nice.]  If I were to say to my niece “Here is what you must believe if you want a happy afterlife,” she could no more force herself to believe those things through will power alone than I could suddenly decide that Scientology makes more sense than Catholicism. I guess what I am trying to say is that Pascal’s wager can only work–if it does–in the presence of some religious belief, however small. But in my Catholic experience the afterlife is not the primary driver of religious belief. [Hmmmm… I think it might be.]

        Liked by 2 people

        • Hello Jill!

          it is alien
          Here I was babbling on about Inuit and Berbers… and you just went in and hit that nail. 😄

          Yes, it is.

          Even to someone like me, who has been exposed to religion in a haphazard if mostly well-meaning way, it can be like trying to nail pudding to a wall.

          Liked by 1 person

      • I sometimes question the value of this totting up of the numbers killed by totalitarian atheists as opposed to totalitarian Christians. We Catholics do badly because of the number of centuries involved, while twentieth century dictators do badly because of the lethality of new technologies used for oppression.

        I wonder if it is more helpful to look at the commonalities between them in order to derive a general principle. Mine would be that any individual (or institution) which believes it is in sole possession of the truth, has a messianic desire to change the world, believes that the ends justify the means, is willing to use coercion and violence, and has no respect for human rights or the supremacy of the individual conscience is likely to do great harm and kill a lot of people. Once such people become willing to oppress, rob, and kill their fellow humans, it matters little whether comes from a delusion that they are pleasing God or a delusion that they are benefiting the masses.

        Any rigid ideology is dangerous in the hands of the wrong people. There is nothing inherent in Christian doctrine that demands the slaying of nonbelievers. [Not really. There is much in Christianity that absolutely forbids mass murder.] There is nothing inherent in socialist doctrine that demands murder. [There is. Much. Read Lenin, who made a specific justification for mass murder.] I think it is true that religion, like communism, has the capacity to make a bad person dangerous. But it is not inevitable. [Religion, maybe. Not, though, Christianity.]

        Finally, I think what bothers me about the number accounts is the reduction of human tragedy to numbers. If Pol Pot’s final death count was higher than Torquemada’s, does this somehow let Torquemada off the hook? The murder of a dozen people in the name of religion or a political ideology is a dozen too many. [No. However, the totaling of “the numbers” is important. In order to be aware of the horror of it all.]

        Liked by 1 person

        • Jill, I agree. That plus… a lot of the so called Atheists were anything BUT atheist. Hitler was a Catholic, with the blessings of the church at the time. [This is just nutty…. and, again, historical illiteracy. Needless to say, the Catholic Church did not “bless” anything that the atheist Hitler did. ]

          Liked by 1 person

          • Hey KIA,

            are you sure about old Adolf? I know it’s a hotly debated subject, and there’s no question he made a sort of “mutual non-aggression” pact with the Vatican.
            But I have serious doubt the guy was doing anything but using the church to appease those of his followers who still clung to it.
            Pragmatic and strategic reasons, rather than belief.

            He also tolerated/supported (though sometimes mocked) his sycophants who were into mysticism and a bastardized version of ancient Germanic paganism.

            Liked by 1 person

        • Wow. That was amazingly well put Jill.
          The numbers game tends to vex me as well, but I never seem to be able to get that “reducing human tragedy to numbers” point across. As if a lower body count somehow made anything less horrible. [Actually, “lower body counts” are less horrible than… “higher body counts.” This is obvious. Still horrible, but less horrible. Do a small thought exercise with me: A terrorist takes a hundred hostages and says, “I have some bad news and some really bad news: I’m either going to kill all of you, or only half of you. Your choice. You have 10 minutes to decide. I’ll be back in 10 minutes to get your decision. (1 … 2 … 3 … … … 10) Hi, I’m back! Okay, what’s your decision?  What do you think the 100 people will decide? Now, why? Okay, okay… I’ll answer it for you: They decide: half. And because a body count of 50, while horrible is, indeed, less horrible than a body count of 100.]

          [..] that any individual (or institution) which believes it is in sole possession of the truth, has a messianic desire to change the world, believes that the ends justify the means, is willing to use coercion and violence, and has no respect for human rights or the supremacy of the individual conscience is likely to do great harm […]

          So. Much. This.

          Madame, herewith the horse and I shall take a bow and leave the field to you to plant your flag. The day is yours.

          Data: “Would you choose one life over one thousand, sir?”
          Picard: “I refuse to let arithmetic decide questions like that!”
          [This is different. Picard disputes the validity of the question itself. He chooses to take the risk that he can save all thousand lives. In my thought exercise, there are only two alternatives. Half of ’em or all of ’em.]

          Liked by 1 person

        • Yes!
          This is what has always made me smile when halfwits like xP go off on the You-Lot-Killed-More-Than-Our- Lot, so there, nyah nyah nyah. [Well… they did.]

          The problem is, we tend to condemn Pol Pot and his ilk a lot faster than we would any ,primarily , Christian leader and their minions. But not Islamic religious clerics/Imams etc, funnily enough for whom we usually condemn out of hand. [This is nonsense, of course.]

          ”Let them all burn – God will know his own.”
          A famous quote, supposedly from a soldier during the French civil war I believe?

          And of course the biggest mass-murderer of them all – God!
          Now there’s a guy you want to work for right? Er…. no thanks! [How’s this for nitwittery?!? Obviously God can’t commit “murder.” ]

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  5. Interesting viewpoints…I can only answer for myself. I am 99.9999% atheist. The other minuscule percent is the “of course there could be something beyond human’s capability of “seeing”, some creative force or universal continuum.

    But in my opinion, which is not faith, but arrived at through simple logic and reason, it could not possibly be the god of the Bible for many reasons. This god is straight out of ancient mideastern times and is unbelievably cruel, revengeful, petty and certainly not omnipotent.

    If you believers want to worship a god and have faith in a god, at least make him a good one. One that any sane person could be proud of, feel grateful by the examples of decency, kindness and lack of egotistical narcissistic behavior he has set.

    I don’t feel my atheism is faith, but is simply logic and reasoning when you look around at all the history, science and logical reasoning….but call it what you want….doesn’t matter to me. [The first somewhat intelligent, and honestatheist post so far! With all this, why does the atheist even care? Why are Ark and KIA so testily defensive?!? What does it matter? If there’s no God, why on earth would they give the teentsiest, weentsiest hang about what anyone else thinks about what they believe, or don’t believe? Or believe they believe… or believe they don’t believe? Seriously. maryplumbago says the only thing that an atheist can ever, really say… if, that is, he’s being honest: “doesn’t matter to me. Or, if it does, I’m wrong to believe it does.” 🙂 ]

    Liked by 2 people

    • It’s always good to let people, atheists in this case, speak for themselves isn’t it? I think it’s rude for Christians who are just trying to skip out on their responsibility to redefine atheism as a religious system or a belief system to be ‘deconverted from’. Thx Mary for your comment.

      Liked by 2 people

        • Hi Mary. Do you think an atheist could deconvert from an unscientific view of the world even though that view did not involve belief in a deity? As a believer, I am well aware that I open myself up to criticism when I call someone else’s beliefs ridiculous. But I have often been puzzled by unbelievers I have known (ones who see no evidence for a deity) who believe strongly in astrology and other forms of woo. Could such a person deconvert in the sense of examining the evidence for such things and then abandoning them?

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          • I would answer yes. All the time. But that’s not what the post was responding to. And deconversion from unscientific understanding is a poor and I think very inaccurate phrase for something as simple as accepting reality vs unsupported or incorrect understanding. Not quite the same at all. Therefore, in my humble opinion, it doesn’t really apply to the situations you describe

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          • Well there’s no evidence for astrology, ghosts and many other forms of woo. And yes some non believers believe in silly stuff like that.
            I would think anyone could deconvert from anything that had no scientific verifications. But if the thing their deconverting from does have good scientific evidence, they would want to examine their new beliefs to see if they met certain criteria of logic, observations, tests, studies over time etc.
            It just depends on if you want to believe or you want to know as best as you can, given the tools of discovery in today’s modern world.

            Like

          • Aries:
            Monday 16th April.
            Do not entertain questions about astrology as these could be bad for your health, especially if reading this while walking under a ladder in front of a black cat.

            Liked by 2 people

      • I think it is rude and presumptuous to tell people what they believe, let alone why they believe it. I have very little patience with the line of chat that says all atheists choose nonbelief because they want to sin like Caligula without having to worry about the consequences [This is not what I’m saying. Only that the option to “sin like Caligula” is always open to the atheist. Not, though, to the Christian.] The fact that atheists have lower incarceration rates than any other group must surely disprove that idea. [Hardly!] I tend to feel the same way about the “cool kid” argument. I read some polls recently, and the average American has very nasty views towards people who identify as atheist. It sounded like they would rather elect the Taliban than the head of the Atheists United. [This is an exaggeration. People ought to have a low opinion of atheism, but not of individual atheists. Atheism is like homosexuality: abnormal, unhealthy, and dumb. However, there’s no reason to dislike homosexuals. Especially since Catholics and all other people have an equivalent amount of abnormal, unhealthy and dumbnesses in their lives.] Even Canadians who are much less religious rank atheists lower than every other group. So I think it’s unreasonable to assume that any normal person would toss aside sincere religious belief in order to look cool! [Islam is cool — super cool — on the left. So’s atheism. Cool and edgy. They’re both stupid, but there’s a lot on the Left that’s just dumb-as-a-stump.]

        Liked by 1 person

  6. @x, I don’t know why you’re being insulting to Ark in this particular conversation. I know in past conversations, he’s been rude and outright mean, but to a casual reader, I feel like you’re looking like the prudish jerk this time around.

    I guess so what you want, but I do not

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    • But I do not understand why you would engage antagonistically [Just a continuation of the conversations we’ve had for several go rounds. Plus, Ark;s a jerk. 🙂 ]

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      • Hi dylan. I’ve learned to just ignore him until he goes away. He’s not here for dialogue. He just wants to fight. [Ark, like all leftists, pretends he can read others’ minds.]

        Like

          • Hi, Dylan… it’s because Ark has been as he has been that I decided to try to argue on his turf. I didn’t feel obliged to be polite, as I usually am, because Ark is generally immediately rude and antagonistic. I decided to try to pre-empt him.

            I have a nearly iron-clad rule: if you’re polite with me, then I’ll be polite with you. Ark, and a couple of others, are the only ones to prompt me to try something else.

            Ark has shown himself, as you’ve noticed, either unable or unwilling in the past to produce cogent argumentation, or even to present what he considered important arguments politely. I felt no obligation to be polite out of the gate this time.

            As for KIA’s silly assertion that I’m not here for dialogue, that’s just stupid. Certainly beneath someone who sees himself as a rational commentator. KIA has, also, failed to produce any kind of second- or third-level argumentation, sticking instead with worn-out and easily countered pabulum like, “Oh, why doesn’t He prove Himself?” Then, when an obviously logical response has been forthcoming, neither KIA nor Ark has shown himself able to say even something like, “Good point. I hadn’t thought of that. But here’s why I disagree.” Or even: “Good point… I have to agree with it, and now I’ll go and see whether that changes my larger view.”

            Over the years, I’ve found myself saying something like those a lot! It’s why people like Ark are unable to win any arguments… because, since he’s convinced that he already knows it all, or at least more than you and I, or worse… that he knows enough, then he’s apparently concluded he doesn’t have to inform himself, or think anymore.

            That was always true of KIA, of Ark, and of Allallt, who viewed himself as the more cerebral observer. Ark, KIA and Allallt, despite their lofty views of themselves, rarely went beyond the Kindergarten level in their thinking and in their presentation of their thinking.

            Contrary to KIA’s snippy remark, I was absolutely here looking for dialogue, but was unable to find any intelligent dialogue. Just snide, sarcastic, contemptuous… defensive flapdoodle.

            Best,

            — x

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            • @ xPraetorius
              Can you please give an example of where I have failed to produce a cogent argument?
              And while you are at it, can you produce a single piece of verifiable evidence to support a single theological claim you have ever made to me.

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    • Thank you , Dylan, you have no idea just how much this means to me.*sniff* . I shall try not to be rude and mean to you in future.
      May the gods bless you. Anygod you like.
      I need a tissue to blow my nose … excuse me. *sob*

      😉

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  7. I hate this particular argument, because it is just wrong-headed. Mostly, when a religious person asks, “Why don’t you believe in God?”, what they mean to ask is, “Why don’t you endorse my tradition; it is a perfectly serviceable tradition, right?”
    The response is mostly on the same level, with reference to religious wars, social oppression, etc.
    When (and if – as the occasion is rare) you get to the specifics, nobody has thought through their proposals.
    From the religious, on those rare occasions, you get some version of psychic Superman (and why would I care to form a belief about psychic Superman?) mashed up with a bunch of incoherent metaphysics (e.g. timeless nowhere-man who thinks about things nonetheless), about which one cannot form a belief.
    From the non-religious, you generally get responding arguments about evidence and other epistemic nitty-gritty that is a tangent all its own.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’d have to challenge this a bit. I’m a believer, and when I ask, “Why don’t you believe in God?” I’m genuinely curious to know why. Furthermore, I’ve always assumed that the person making the assertion has genuinely thought about it, and actually has a reason or two for his conclusion. I’ve often been wrong in this assumption, but I still assume it. 🙂

      I don’t know of a single religious person — except islamists — who are trying to demand that you endorse their traditions. In fact, I’ve never met a single person in my decades of life who seemed concerned that I endorse his or her traditions.

      I’ve been a professional baseball player, a professional musician, a politician, a software developer, a consultant, a television personality, a radio personality, a writer, commentator, “contributor,” and more. I’ve met probably twenty or thirty thousand people, with whom I’ve had hundreds and hundreds of in-depth conversations as part of my various jobs… and, again, I’ve never met anyone who asked that I endorse his or her traditions.

      As for the rest of your post, I don’t disagree overly. These are the arguments I’ve been calling “Level One” arguments. It’s certainly difficult to find Level Two or Three arguments, and you won’t likely find any at this blog.

      Best,

      — x

      Liked by 1 person

      • I am not suggesting that people are asking for an endorsement of their tradition outright.
        I am suggesting that their arguments amount to that request, though the arguments ostensibly refer to other things – I am thinking about stuff like meta-ethical appeals, the design-argument-from-incredulity, the meaning-argument-from-incredulity…all those things that say, “You don’t subscribe? How can you not subscribe, I don’t see how you can get along without these vital member benefits?!”

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      • X, you may not have encountered fundamentalist presuppositional apologetics. They are very much focused on steering their target to an endorsement of a very narrow definition of Christian dogma. In my experience, this has been Reformed and Calvinist theology. The point of PSA is to guide the nonbeliever through a series of supposedly logical syllogisms at the end of which the target throws up his hands and says, “Through internal logic you have shown me that there is a deity, that the nature (and demands) of that deity are accurately portrayed in the Christian bible as interpreted by people who believe in sola scriptura, total depravity, and predestination.”

        PSA practitioners would not look at someone as a success story if at the end of all this he or she said, “Okay, you’ve convinced me. I’m going to be a Catholic.” Or, “Your arguments make just as much logical sense when applied to the Koran, so I am converting to Islam.”

        Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Keith, even as a Catholic I have to admit the force of your first statement. I don’t go around asking people why they don’t believe in God (I have found that people will often volunteer that without my asking), but if I ever did, I wouldn’t mean “why don’t you believe in the deity that lives in yonder tree?” In this country it tends to mean the Judeo-Christian deity. Some people (like Catholics) identify that deity with Islam as well, but I have discovered that some Christians don’t.

      Liked by 2 people

 

— xPraetorius

Notes


(1) I use the word intentionally. Ark made nearly obsessive reference to talismanic terms like “Young Earth Creationist,” trying to paint me as one. His idea was to trap me into one of what he thought were cleverly laid traps, to get me to admit to being one of some group that others of similar beliefs scorn as idiots. One such group for Ark is what he calls “Young Earth Creationists.” These are people who think that the Earth is only several thousands of years old, and who therefore cast a wary eye on the idea of Evolution. For Ark, people who are skeptical of Evolution are idiots and show themselves unworthy of  interaction because they’re too stupid, or misinformed, or ignorant, or indoctrinated. Ark, though, shows his own ignorance with this approach, because there are many highly reputable scientists who are skeptical of large portions of the Theory of Evolution, as well as many scientists, like me, who see no incompatibility whatsoever between Evolution and belief in God. Some of us, also, who have a strong grounding in Einstein’s Theory of Relativity recognize that there’s not even any incompatibility between a “Young Earth” and Evolution! That doesn’t, of course, mean that we believe in a “young earth,” scientifically at least, it can’t be ruled out. Ark, though, lacks any kind of meaningful grounding in the following three things: (1) Evolution, (2) Christianity, and (3) Relativity. It’s no surprise, therefore, that he leads off with insults and personal attacks. 🙂

(2) All the atheists I’ve encountered do have a religion. It’s: “Science.” The problem is that all the atheists I’ve encountered are poorly versed in both science and religious belief. Ark and KIA are notable examples.

 

 

 

2 thoughts on “Stirring the Atheist Pot Again

  1. Wow, that is quite the breakdown, X. First a clarification, then two reiterations.

    When I mentioned Apologist X, I actually meant the theoretical Apologist in the conversation. Didn’t even occur to me until reading through again that I could’ve meant you, haha. Sorry if that felt confusing or misrepresentative.

    Second, I too get frustrated with how Ark and Kia use language. In particular, I’ve noticed a tendency to assume that everyone knows what they mean when they say certain words and they contend that the words are concrete and unchanging, yet refuse to define words for fear of a supposed trap. I’ve appreciated Ron for actually making strides to engage some sort of material ( like though not always the direction I foresee the conversation going, but at least the conversation can continue).

    Finally, I want to reiterate caution in how one presents himself and his position. I knew Kia and Ark prior to this conversation, so I was quite certain that they have been caustic to you in the past (to put it gently). However, to the lurkers and random googlers, if you start the feud in any given thread, I think it reflects poorly on your position. I don’t think it’s immoral to do it (I don’t think the “appearance of evil” passage gets exegeted correctly, usually), but I just think it makes your position look weak.

    I appreciated the breakdown and clicked the follow button. Thanks!

    1. Many thanks, Dylan! Your points are well-made. You’re right… I was (as I think I mentioned) simply picking up where I left off with Ark elsewhere.

      Some years back, I asked Ark repeatedly simply to avoid the dirty words so that my 12-year old son could read it. Ark used them even more.

      I even explained to him that he wasn’t really hurting my feelings by calling me all the names, and that — outside of allowing my son to read the blog — I didn’t care what he called me.

      As a point of fact, it’s impossible to hurt my feelings in a blog; nearly impossible in life. And after explaining all that, Ark did it even more.

      Since I don’t censor anyone, I did, reluctantly, have to put him into moderation so I could edit out the nitwittery. Kind of annoying.

      All-in-all, though, I decided to come out of the gate swinging, this time, to see whether that would change Ark’s behavior. It didn’t work out, but I think it was a good idea to make the attempt. I need, I think, to be able — for my various research projects — to be able to say that we tried everything.

      I agree that the lurkers might have an inaccurate impression of my participation in the debate, and I can probably check it off for future such exchanges. 🙂

      I found your contribution to the other thread to be refreshing and thought-provoking and enjoyable, and I never really figured out why KIA was so defensive. Your questions were absolutely legitimate, and Ron proved it.

      The other thing that Ron did was to expose the fact that there is a wide variety of understanding as to what the term “atheism” means. KIA and Ark want to be able to say nothing more nor less than that their definition of the term is the definition, and that anyone who has another idea on the topic is… wrong. And, of course, all the other bad things that accompany wrongness: ignorance, poor education, primitiveness, or in my case — all of the above, plus evil, unenlightened, Remember: Ark says that Christianity — really Christians — are the greatest evil the world has ever faced.

      It’s to that point that KIA and Ark are reduced.

      Best,

      — x

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