Perfect atheism

Now here‘s an interesting perspective:

A perfect atheist is one for whom god never comes up. They never talk about it, they don’t go to meetings or read books about it, they never use the word “atheist” to describe themselves, and they aren’t rebelling against anything.

They just live their lives guided by internal and external morals and desires, directing themselves towards tangible, terrestrial goals. They find community in friends in their daily lives and online. The big spiritual questions are simply not relevant – they aren’t interested in being a soldier in the war between Dawkins and god. These are the millennial Nones.

I think the writer is guilty of just a bit of band-wagon jumping when he slams Dawkins and Hitchens as old-school traditional atheists. But, that said, there’s something intriguing about the idea of a new generation that finds religion neither right nor wrong but simply irrelevant.

The third option

As a few people have pointed out, there’s something missing from my discussion of religion as the leading source of atheism. I said that when you find a mistake in your religion, you have two options: either leave the church, or become a hypocrite. The possibility of correcting the church’s error is not really an option, because the church’s whole authority system is predicated on the assumption that it cannot make any mistakes in the first place. Acknowledging the existence of an error means admitting that the church’s authority is based on a false premise.

Some people suggested that the third option is to start a new religion, or at least create a schism, but I would include that as a sub-category under the heading of leaving your old religion. When you start a new religion, or a new branch of the old one, you’re saying in effect that the old one is wrong and therefore you’re leaving it. I got to see this a lot in the Church of Christ: each half of the church split would promptly declare that the other half was on its way to hell, because they were rejecting the Bible’s plain declaration that _______ (fill in the blank: “communion is/isn’t one cup”,”missionary societies are/aren’t a permissible means of spreading the gospel”, etc). You may be staying within the broad outlines of religion, but you’re leaving your original faith.

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The leading cause of atheism

The other day I watched an Orthodox Jew engage in a little ritual that struck me as being strikingly pointless. No doubt it had some point in the ancient past, or was at least thought to have a point. But it was pointless—a trivial, superstitious obsession institutionalized into the whole Orthodox lifestyle. And that got me thinking. Here’s somebody’s silly little superstition, that somehow got attached to the religion, and now the religion can’t get rid of it. For thousands of years, they’ve been stuck with it, even when it ceased to make any sense. And there’s nothing they can do about it, because the core of the religious worldview is the supreme authority of tradition. Whatever was believed and practiced in the past is, by definition, the truth. Any attempt to amend it or remove part of it must be apostasy. Hence, religion is not only lacking a way to correct its errors and deficiencies, the very nature of religion is antithetical to the possibility of improvement. To be improvable, religion must first admit that it does not possess the infallibility upon which its authority and existence depend.

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The rest of the [back]story

Like I said yesterday, I decided in my mid-teens that I was going to follow God no matter what men said about Him, and that more than anything else led to my eventual rejection of Christianity. When you try to go beyond what men say about God, to the reality behind the words, you discover that the words are all there is to the reality. Superstition and subjective feelings reinforce the words, but when it comes down to the substance of the faith, it’s just words.

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A top ten list

Happy Easter everybody—I hope you all have prepared your colored eggs for Astarte, the pagan fertility goddess, and have filled your house with other fertility symbols like rabbits and such. Remember, Astarte is the reason for the season (and even gave it her name, slightly misspelled).

Oh yeah, and some guy died too. I suppose we ought to remember him. So here, by way of holiday celebration, I present the Top Ten Ways the Bible Tells Us Jesus Did Not Literally Rise From The Dead.

10.
If Jesus had been literally and physically raised from the dead, the tomb would not be empty—there would have been a living Jesus in it.
9.
If Mary had seen an angel fly down from heaven, roll away the stone, and tell her that Jesus had been raised from the dead (Matt 28:1-5), she would not have run to the disciples weeping over the missing corpse (John 20:1-2).
8.
If Jesus had been physically raised in a physical body, he would not spontaneously appear and disappear and change his shape to fool the disciples (Luke 24:28-36) and would not have needed to “prove” that he was not a spirit (Luke 24:36-43) by showing him his hands and feet and by eating their food—which angels and the pre-incarnate Jehovah can also do, even though they are supposedly spirits (Gen. 18:1-11).
7.
If Jesus had been physically raised from the dead, still bearing the wounds from his beatings, his crown of thorns, his crucifixion, and the spear thrust in his side, people would have noticed him walking to the room where his disciples were hiding, and he would not have been able to enter the room while the door was shut and/or locked (John 20:19, 26).
6.
The Sanhedrin would not have put a guard on the tomb because they had no reason to expect Jesus to rise from the dead (Matt. 27:62-65, cf John 2:19-21 and John 20:9—even the disciples were surprised!).
5.
If the priests found out Jesus had risen from the dead, they would have worried about Jesus, not about the empty tomb (Matt. 28:11-15).
4.
If Jesus had risen from the dead, the priests would have plotted to kill him again (John 12:9-11) instead of plotting to tell lies about the tomb.
3.
If the priests were going to bribe the guards to tell a lie, they would not have picked an obvious falsehood like “The disciples stole the body while we slept.” (Matt. 28:11-15.) If they were asleep, how would they know? Duh!
2.
If Jesus had literally and physically been raised from the dead, Paul would not have insisted that the body that was raised was a spiritual body rather than the body that was buried, and would not have expanded on this claim by insisting that the “last Adam” (i.e. Jesus) “became a life-giving Spirit” (I Cor. 15: 42-48).

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A good Friday: miracle in Texas

Now here’s a miracle I can believe in.

Zachary Moore, DFWCoR’s spokesman, tells Unfair Park that the group reached out to the Angelika chain after being it’s-not-you-it’s-me’d by Movie Tavern. “Initially they said no, and then they said maybe if we changed the ad, and then they said yes to the original,” he writes. “It’s an Easter miracle!”

The ad will begin playing at the theater on Friday.

This would be the ads for the Dallas-Fort Worth Coalition of Reason, on the theme of happy atheist families and what makes them tick. After initially being refused by local theaters, it now looks like the ads are going to run after all.

via “It’s an Easter Miracle”: Dallas Atheists’ New Pre-Movie Ad Will Run at the Plano Angelika – Dallas News – Unfair Park.

Excusing God’s absence

A few days ago I published a piece by a Christian apologist who goes by the handle “Mighty Timbo,” on the topic of why Mormonism is false. He has a web site devoted to Christian apologetics, so I thought I’d stop by and see what kind of defense he has to offer to the kind of disproofs he levels at the Mormon church. And I found this.

One of the more common questions we get from Atheists is “If God is actually real, why doesn’t he prove it? Why doesn’t God show himself and eliminate the faith?”

That’s certainly a valid question and if you’re a Christian you may have asked it yourself at weak spiritual moments.

I’ll get to his answer shortly, but first I want to point out that he has the question really, really wrong. First of all, if God were to show up, it would not eliminate the faith, it would eliminate the doubt. There are all kinds of people who show up all the time, and yet I have no faith in them whatsoever (and a bunch of them want to be President of the USA, apparently). True faith is a confidence that is built up by repeated real-world experience, and God’s being here would only help that. Mighty Timbo is confusing faith with gullibility—the willingness to believe what men tell you in the absence of real-world confirmation and/or presence of real-world contradictions of the things they say.

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A temple for atheists

As you’ve probably heard, Alain de Botton has announced plans to build a “Temple to Atheism” somewhere in London. Seems a rather silly idea to me. What’s next, a museum for non-stamp-collectors? Given that atheism is the absence of belief in God, the most suitable “temple” ought to be—no temple at all. And we’ve already got that.

Some very large subset of atheism might also be served by a “temple” that consisted of reality itself, since reality is the true “supreme power” to which we all must submit. But again, we’ve already got that “temple,” and always have. de Botton’s plans are a waste of money that would be better spent somewhere else.