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Dec 01 2012

Doubts About Atheism? Fifteen Questions for Atheists Answered

I got these “questions” sent on a Facebook message after I corrected a friend on the whole “Israel Malarky”. Someone took umbrage to me stating that “If god is telling United States of America (or at least ‘MERICA!!!) to support Israel then perhaps we should stop listening to the voices in our head and rather use knowledge, skill and common sense to come up with solutions”.

A little google wizardry helps me find the OP… Matthew Clayton from the blog Loving Christ With Your Mind.

And I figured I should give an answer.

1. Why are atheists so obsessed with religion?

If life were meaningless and ends at the grave, why even bother. If life is just a monopoly game that’s going to be put up, why even try to take the property and money of others (in a metaphoric sense, of course)? It doesn’t make much sense. Given atheism, nothing really matters since it’s not going to last. So, again I ask you, why bother with religion and its negative effects?

Just because something ends doesn’t mean that it has no meaning. Why do you have pets? Unless you are an avid tortoise hobbyist (I like to call them Cheloniaks) most of your pets will die before you. You may as well shoot them right now.

But the answer is already there. We play Monopoly because it’s fun. Life for most of us is a relatively pleasurable experience. Oh we may whinge and moan about stuff but the vast majority of us are lucky to be alive in the places that we live. We live, we love, we experience. The game is more important than packing up the box. If you go on holiday fixated on the end then you will never enjoy it. The same applies to life.

The thing is? Many religious people ask this question. Why are we obsessed with faith. Because blind faith seems harmless until it isn’t anymore. Because religion cannot keep it’s mitts to itself. Religion is the weird kid in school who used to touch people constantly  and kind of look like they got dressed by being suplexed through laundry.

Religion is the unwanted dancer in the nightclub who insists on attempting to dance some sort of forbidden dance with you despite the fact that you don’t know any of the moves and even if you did would much prefer to do them in the privacy of your own home rather than surrounded by the teeming hordes of people. In fact you would want nothing better than to go back to your quiet existence of rhythmic shuffling and simultaneous pointing rather than perform this dance that makes sex look like church. You can either make your excuses and leave or you can keep dancing in silence, in the hope that your incredible pointy dance gets the message across.

Or you can ask this person to find someone more appropriate to dance this with. That is pretty much what Atheists are doing.

2. Why are atheists so obsessed with monotheistic religions?

Why only the big three? If all religions are equally false, why only bother with Christianity, Judaism, and Islam? What about Hinduism or deism? Again, it doesn’t make much sense. Perhaps there’s a reason that atheists are so amazingly obsessed with Christianity?

The big three? What? Judaism isn’t “big”. There are way more Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Taoists and Shintoists than Jews. Jews are like a tiny amount of people. They are just very very well known in the world courtesy of a variety of histoical events that aren’t important in this context and will merely distract us from the question.

Hinduism is the religion I don’t believe in. It’s clearly made up. And it never really tried to exist in the world of reality because Hinduism makes the claim that reality is an illusion and Morksha or Nirvana is just you “waking up”. Also? The majority of Hindu lunacy is concentrated within India and rarely effects anyone in the West. Most of the Hindus there are rather peaceful, well educated and don’t run around calling for the death of Ronald McDonald.

The crazies were left at home. Ultimately there is very little knowledge about Hinduism and it’s Atheists within the wider community. In addition Hinduism has a strong tradition of atheism and doesn’t really harm or force it’s atheists to do anything to fit in. Yes, there are wankers. But for most of you they are very very far away. Again the news stories of Hindu madness generally stays away from western media so most people never get to hear about them. So most don’t comment. If you look at places with Hindu atheists blogging they do deal with Hindu issues too.

HOWEVER! The majority of us (and I include myself in it as I am a product of western culture too) live under the shadow of a christian majority first and a rising issue of Islam. So we deal with those issues.

3. How do atheists explain the beginning of the universe?

Often atheists have pointed to the Big Bang to justify their worldview, but the Big Bang actually proves theism. Here’s a simple syllogism:

1. Whatever begins to exist has a cause
2. The universe began to exist
3. Therefore, the universe has a cause

There is great evidence for the Big Bang. We can be led to it by first stating this fact: The universe is either eternal, or it is not. If it’s not, than my argument is scientifically supported. The universe cannot be eternal because of the Second Law of Thermodynamics, which states that energy is running out. If the universe is eternal, it should’ve run out a long time ago. The Big Bang proves God because it proves the universe came into being from nothing, and nothing cannot create nothing, for it is nothing. Therefore, Something must have caused the Big Bang. So how do you explain away this evidence for the existence of God?

I don’t know.

“I Don’t Know” is the most powerful phrase and most important phrase available to human beings. The second is “Let’s Find Out”.

We don’t know what was around before the Big Bang. No one does. To claim otherwise is clearly delusional. We have no ability to guess how the Big Bang came about. We are running experiments to test our hypothesis to come up with theories but as of now? We simply do not know. But here is the thing.

Religion doesn’t know either. Just because you don’t know how something works doesn’t mean that you have to invoke magic. Nor do you have to invoke magic where you claim to know the magician’s distaste for bumming, the consumption of owls and his frankly ridiculous and frivolous use of super powers to interfere with proper toast. It also raises the question of where the fuck did this magician show up from. What? The  Universe has to be finite but this graffiti artist of breakfast doesn’t?

All this does is raise a tonne of questions about the existence of such a being without even the need to check the logical and scientific veracity of such claims.

4. How do atheists explain away objective moral values?

Objective moral values are ones that are independent of human thought. If God doesn’t exist, they wouldn’t exist either. There’d be no one in charge to make a universal standard of right and wrong. It’d simply be a matter or opinion. But moral relativism fails. For one, it says that moral claims are only a matter of opinion but it asserts that as a fact. Also, we know things such as rape, murder, and child abuse are wrong, and if everyone agreed that they were right, they’d still be wrong. We know things are objectively wrong because we feel guilt when we do what is wrong; If morality was just our opinion, we wouldn’t feel guilty, for we would be doing what is right for us. So how do atheists justify the fact of objective morality?

The universal standards of right and wrong are not static. They have consistently and constantly changed over time.

Morality exists due to the fact that moral society is a cohesive society and cohesive society is better in a fist fight than a bunch of people who are all selfish, untrustworthy and generally dicks to each other. We are a social species. Now we are more like a hive animal. We stick to morality to ensure we can co-operate in order to achieve bigger goals. Those who couldn’t during our evolution simply died. The amoral human mode of survival is frankly more detrimental than ours. Morality is a way of every human getting a fair deal.

We once didn’t consider black people or brown people to be human beings. That’s changed. Rape wasn’t a crime once. Neither was child abuse. Things we all consider as immoral now. The Bible talks very candidly about people being superior to others solely for being born into some tribe, while portraying genocide, rape and a variety of other distasteful things to be perfectly moral things to do. Even mandated directly by a god.

I know of rapists who aren’t at fault for the rapes they committed (Child Soldiers. You either raped victims or you may yourself get raped or worse… Killed. Don’t worry… Many of them were made to do this by “good christians”) that’s the thing with relative morality. You can take circumstance into account. These child soldiers aren’t at fault for the rapes. The people who forced them to are. I can use my common sense to realise what is wrong and can use my own skills and the skills of other people to try and stop it. I know of an abused woman who just snapped and set their husband on fire. I know of people who due to psychiatric illness have killed others. I can use my “Moral Relativism” to differentiate between these and thus make better sense of why these things occurred, how to prevent them in the future and an appropriate punishment.

I can also use moral relativism to deal with and play through real world problems. The world is made of grey, not black and white.

5. How do materialists justify immaterial realities?

Logic, math, morality, and other things such as free will, human dignity, and time exist. These things are all immaterial. We can’t put the number 7 or the Law of Noncontradiction in a test tube. But if God doesn’t exist, matter would be all there is, since there’d be nothing to be the foundation of immaterial things. Everything would come through by matter, and thus, be matter. How can atheists give an answer to this argument?

Logic is based on a variety of things ranging from philosophical logic to mathematics logic. Mathematics is fundamental and the complete irony is that no matter the universe the laws of mathematics would still function as is because it’s a true universal language. It is quantity conceptualised. Now, early mathematics thought along the lines of “If we give each number a symbol”. However there was a remarkable concept. The decimalised system. Zero.

Zero and decimalised mathematics are not native to the west. In Arabic they are called “hindu numbers” or “indian maths”. Because they are Indian. The modern western numbers are incredibly similar to the ones used in India. It sounds useful but consider how you would write 17 in Roman Numbers and how you would write it in “numbers”. It let you use a limited number of symbols to express any known number and decimalisation allowed you to apply that rule to fractions too. So 22/7 became 3.14 and so on… These are technological developments that helped us conceptualize quantity. All our advancements come from the sharpened stick. But the distance between sharpened stick and your laptop is as far away as the early humans concepts of quantity and modern mathematics. It’s a technological invention that many people simply don’t understand. I understand enough to realise I don’t understand what powers math can have. But educated enough to see it’s significance. Saying what makes a 7 a 7 is to completely not understand the evolution of mathematics.

These aren’t divine in origin. Every single one of these has been developed through human ingenuity. Humans never started with this, they have grown through hard work to achieve this.

6. How do atheists explain the existence of the universe?

If atheism is true, there isn’t a reason for anything. It’s all an accident. There isn’t any purpose. But if there weren’t a purpose for anything, how do things exist? If God does not exist, the universe would have no meaning for its existence, and would, thus, not exist. So how can we living in a universe that both exists and has no reason for its existence?

Why do you think something needs a purpose to exist. Your entire argument is “but if god doesn’t exist your particular reason for the universe existing will vanish.” There doesn’t need to be a reason for the existence of the universe. It doesn’t have to have a purpose. The land does not exist for you to walk on. You just happen to walk on it.

7. How do you explain away circumstantial evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus?

Here are just two facts that help lead up to the conclusion that Christ is risen: 1. The early Christians died for their belief that He rose from the dead. You don’t die for what you know is a lie. No one does, and no one ever could. 2. Christianity started in Jerusalem. If the tomb weren’t empty, the Jewish pharisees would’ve proved it and ended the Christian movement. But they didn’t. How can an atheistic worldview explain this? 

There are martyrs in every religious movement. There have even been people who have died for their atheism. Are you planning to ignore their sacrifices?

There are no tombs amongst Hindus. Therefore all Hindus are capable of resurrection. If you open the memorials of Hindus you would not find any bones. Therefore resurrection. (There is another reason for this)

Do you know where the current tomb is? How do you know the record isn’t a lie? Or that the body wasn’t destroyed? Or that it wasn’t dragged away by animals. Three more sensible answers than “magic”.

8. If the gospels are just pieces of historical fiction, why are there embarrassing details in there? 

Jesus being accused of being a demon. A prostitute wiping Jesus’ feet, which was seen as a sexual approach. Peter being called “Satan” and denying Jesus three times. Jews being told to pay taxes to the Roman empire. One criteria of finding a historical truth is to see if the text is embarrassing to the writer. If it is, they probably didn’t make it up. Could you clear this up for me?

Harry Potter and Ron Weasley also get accused of being Death Eaters. Hermione gets turned into a cat and Ron’s hilarious relationships are often laughed at.

Seriously? You think that an area that has been conquered by the Romans doesn’t have to pay taxes? All roman holdings across Europe paid taxes. Saying that Jews had to pay taxes is not a lovely piece of detail, it’s common sense. Just because the London Underground is in the book doesn’t mean wizards are real.

9. If we are just matter, and not souls, why would some atheists support life-sentences?

The matter in our body is totally changed out every seven years. If Cartesian dualism—a view I embrace—is false, and we are just matter, that means I am not the same person as I was seven years ago.  And this is also true for a criminal.The justice system is completely futile if atheism is true. If matter is who we are, why don’t we change as our matter changes?

Are you honestly stating that you haven’t changed or improved or grown as a person in the last 7 years?

“This, milord, is my family’s axe. We have owned it for almost nine hundred years, see. Of course, sometimes it needed a new blade. And sometimes it has required a new handle, new designs on the metalwork, a little refreshing of the ornamentation . . . but is this not the nine hundred-year-old axe of my family? And because it has changed gently over time, it is still a pretty good axe, y’know. Pretty good.”

- The Fifth Elephant – Terry Pratchett

Your axe doesn’t become a new axe if you fix broken things. The molecules and structures that make you up are roughly the same. You are still the same chemistry that has continuously carried on since the even seven years ago. And that chemistry having committed a crime against some other chemistry has to prove itself capable of responsibility before independent existence. Just because the reaction has continued doesn’t mean the previous actions of such marvellous chemistry shouldn’t be taken into account.

10. Why do so many atheists deny historical facts?

The common view today that most atheists hold is that Jesus didn’t exist. But Jesus did exist. How do I know this? Historically reliable sources such as Josephus, Tacitus, Lucian, the Jewish Talmud, and Pliny the Younger wrote about Jesus. So why do atheists hold to the Christ-myth hypothesis in spite of what we know through historical facts?

I believe most atheists postulate that if Jesus existed he would not have existed in his magical format but in a more sensible format. Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il both existed but they certainly didn’t do anything that North Korea claims they did. Chuck Norris exists but he certainly is only capable of mildly racist tirades and right wing paranoia rather than his memes.

Kim Jong Il was believed to control the weather by magic, the USA was hit by Katrina… Maybe Kim Jong Il was right! Or you know… Kim Jong Il was a dude who made it out to be magical and I have just correlated one of his claims about his powers against world events.

11. Why do most atheists, such as Richard Dawkins and Daniel Denette, equivocate evolution with atheism?

Evolution does not prove God exists, nor does it prove God doesn’t exist. Darwin did not kill God. Most Christians accept evolution. Why, then, do so many atheists point to evolution as if it disproves Christianity?

Because it denies the historical veracity of the Bible. You did not come from Adam and Eve or Moses… This makes the entire Old Testament a giant pack of fairy tales. If the veracity of that is suspect then why should the veracity of the New Testament be considered as valid. It proves the Bible is allegorical rather than canonical.

12. Why don’t atheists actually question everything?

They’re always advocating skepticism, but fail to question their own views, including that of skepticism. If we should doubt everything, why not doubt atheism?

I have said this and so has Richard Dawkins… There is no evidence for the existence of any gods. Which is why we don’t believe in one. The existence of such a creature is extraordinary and therefore we demand extraordinary evidence. So far the evidence has been not forthcoming while evidence for the physicality of the universe keeps increasing.

You would have to demonstrate a true omnipotent being that exists outside the known constraints of the universe.

And all that would achieve is create more questions such as what caused it to be created, what its motives are, why create an entire universe for one planet with life when a solar system would do? Are there more like it?

We do question, but I am afraid the priests don’t like the questions we ask.

13. Where do rights come from?

Most atheists are supporters of the gay rights movement, and are furious when someone denies a homosexual of his or her rights just because of their sexual orientation. So it’s pretty clear that atheists believe inalienable rights exist. But where do they come from? How can they be explained naturally?

They are a humanist concept. We accept that all human beings are equal. That there is no essential difference between people bar the biological ones between men and women. For all intents and purposes we are equally capable irrespective of our race or creed or faith or gender bar some cases where common sense applies.

The “inalienable” rights of mankind were drawn up by humanists who wanted to enshrine a code as to how we should treat each other. They agreed that some rights should never be taken away on principle. That the removal of these rights is a gross violation of humanity as a concept.

A simple ethos is “people who are born should have a chance at a decent life. People should be free to do as they wish provided that it doesn’t interfere with the first right. People should be free to earn value and possessions through actions as long as they don’t interfere with the first two rights.” It’s simplified, but it contains the essence of what the idea of inalienable rights are.

And many people DO NOT believe in those. The entire concept of warfare is the break down of the inalienable rights of people on an organised scale. The bible’s ideas of “human rights” are frankly unacceptable by modern standards.

14. How can there be no objective evil, but religion causes it?

A top argument in the atheist arsenal is that religion causes evil. This doesn’t prove a thing, for Pythagoras caused evil but no one doubts that a^2 + b^2 = c^2. But when atheists argue against religion by pointing out its sins, they assume that objective morality exists. If morality were a matter of opinion, there’d be no point in asserting it as a fact. So why do atheists use religious evil to try to disprove theism, when it actually does the opposite?

Morality is a not a matter of opinion but of a logical process where we look at the rights and privileges we have afforded people and how those were used and abused. For instance. Let’s say “Condoms”. The right of people to have sexual intercourse without fearing disease and death while ensuring they can feed their family and enjoying one of the many pleasures of life. Facing off against those is “immoral”. Let’s say paedophilia. It’s rape, statutory rape. A child is incapable of making decisions. That’s why we make them for them. To abuse the trust children have in us as adults particularly while preaching morality is not just immoral but high hypocrisy. Religion doesn’t cause evil. Religion causes people to be blinded by faith and so do things that are bad for other humans and often plain stupid because they don’t stop to think about what their actions mean and what effect they will have.

15. Why are there no good reasons to believe atheism is true?

Whenever I ask an atheist to disprove God, they can’t do it. When something is true, there are good reasons to think it is true. But there are no good reasons to believe God does not exist. So why do non-believers count me as irrational when I embrace theism?

Okay?

1. There is no evidence to suggest one exists.

2. The abilities of the any god break the known laws of physics and there is no evidence of magic.

3. There is no evidence to suggest that any such god is the source of morality considering nearly every single religion does things considered immoral and bad by the standards of modern morality.

4. There is no evidence in the historical veracity of any texts particularly in the aspects of miracles. Mere existence of locations, events and names doesn’t mean that the miracles occur.

When one makes the claim of the possession of a being of unfathomable power then the person making the claim has to prove it. If I claimed I had proof that I could cure AIDS but never proved it then I don’t have a cure.

And as I said. There is no evidence. If “No Evidence” equals “Good Reason To Believe” then you aren’t operating on logic. One cannot disprove imaginary beings because one does not possess the total knowledge of the universe. By your logic dentists should dispose of teeth the appropriate tooth fairy approved way and you should hang garlic on your windows lest the vampires come for your blood.

We don’t fear those things despite having no proof that they don’t exist. Why should we fear an even more fantastic creature with even less evidence and credence to its legends?

23 comments

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  1. 1
    sbh

    You have a great deal more patience than I do. These questions are idiotic, all too familiar, and mostly contain false assumptions (that is, they are known as loaded questions).

    Question 10 is the only one that has any point of interest to it; I myself have often wondered why so many supposed skeptics are gullible enough to fall for the Jesus-never-existed line. There is as much evidence for Jesus as a historical figure as there is for most ancient people who weren’t rulers or members of ruling families; more than most in fact.

    On the other hand to speak of “Josephus, Tacitus, Lucian, the Jewish Talmud, and Pliny the Younger” as “Historically reliable sources” that mention Jesus is a bit much. Lucian was a satirist; he wrote of Jesus only indirectly (as that crucified sophist if memory serves) in a piece making fun of a man he described as a charlatan and fraud and who for a while took advantage of simple-minded Christians who made him their leader (he even wrote some of their scriptures, says Lucian). This is akin to taking The Onion as a reliable historical source. Pliny the Younger refers to Jesus only indirectly and in passing when he wrote to the emperor Trajan to ask how he should deal with an infestation of Christians that had broken out in his district. Tacitus (and for that matter the philosopher Celsus, not mentioned by the source) wrote sketches of Jesus, clearly taking him as a historical figure, but there’s no reason to suppose that any of what Tacitus, Celsus, Pliny, or Lucian had to say came from any source independent of what the Christians themselves were saying. The Jewish apologist Josephus may well have had such independent knowledge (he refers to somebody as “the brother of Jesus called the Christ”) but if so it was lost when Christian copyists decided to replace or alter the main passage about him (assuming that there was such a passage in the original Antiquities) to reflect a Christian viewpoint.

  2. 2
    Jean

    sbh, you should read more from Richard Carrier. And I don’t think gullibility would really describe his arguments for the non-historicity of Jesus.

  3. 3
    Acolyte of Sagan

    Great post, Avicenna. The whole thing from top to bottom should be printed up onto giant billboards and displayed outside every church and school; even better, outside all of the creationist ‘museums’.

    sbh said;

    I myself have often wondered why so many supposed skeptics are gullible enough to fall for the Jesus-never-existed line.

    I don’t think they do, they merely reject the Jesus-figure specifically described in the Bible (or not, it is a rather vague book when it comes to the physical appearance of their Lord); I’m pretty sure most accept that there was probably an itinerant preacher around at the time called Jesu or Jesus or Joshua who was the inspiration for the exaggerated -nay, fantastical claims made in the Bible.

  4. 4
    John Conolley

    Gullible? Jesus never existed “line?” You pretend to more knowledge than you have. I’ve gone looking for the historical Jesus, and I find that the closer you get to him, the more he disappears. There’s not one single bit of evidence in existence from the supposed time of his life. Not one word of the New Testament can be taken as eyewitness testimony. There are even good, Christian scholars who think the epistles of Paul are second-century forgeries.

    It can’t even be said for sure the Christianity began in Jerusalem. Alexandria and Antioch also have very early claims. Personally, I’m inclined to believe that Christianity began among Hellenistic Jews in Alexandria, spread from there to Antioch, and from Antioch to Jerusalem.

    In any case, if you have actual evidence for the existence of Jesus, I’d like to hear it. I haven’t found any. Oh, and don’t refer me to “Did Jesus Exist,” by Bart Ehrman. That thing’s an abomination.

  5. 5
    Kelsey Isabelle

    Jesus the historical figure *didn’t* exist. There is no good evidence at all that he existed. Note well: The Bible is not good evidence. Look outside the bible, and the evidence for Jesus is non-existent.

    As Jean says, start with Richard Carrier. He’s a FTBer, so it’s not hard to find him.

  6. 6
    gshelley

    Good answers, though I’d agree with others on the question of Jesus historical existence. If you ask a believer for evidence that Jesus was a real historical figure, you get terrible answers that they would not accept for any other claim. 7 and 8 are good examples of this, and “Josephus, Tacitus, Lucian, the Jewish Talmud, and Pliny the Younger wrote about Jesus” just about proves it. Josephus is a forgery the debate is whether there was an original section about Jesus, but all arguments to reconstruct it fail and at their heart, rely on circular reasoning – Jospephus would have written about Jesus, therefore there was some original comment, which was likely (insert alleged reconstruction) therefore Jesus was real. Pliny and Tacitus wrote about what Christians believed 90 years after the events and provide nothing independent and Lucian and the Talmud are even later than that.

  7. 7
    anne mariehovgaard

    Wow. Just… wow. This person really does live in a demon-haunted world – or at least a world where narrativium exists. All those bizarre questions put together paint a very clear picture – it’s as if they’re seeing the world through the eyes of a 4-year-old. No capacity for abstract thought. No understanding of logic. No understanding of natural, non-directed, non-teleological processes (physical or cultural). They are the center of the universe, and incapable of understanding that a different perspective is even possible. Their opinions (which have all been handed to them by someone else) are the “objective” truth. Everything that happens, happens because someone intends for it to happen, for a purpose (a purpose that has something to do with them, obviously).

  8. 8
    garnetstar

    “Whatever begins to exist has a cause”. Wrong. Fundamental particles pop into existence all the time, without cause.

    “The Big Bang proves God because it proves the universe came into being from nothing”. Wrong. The universe came into being from the singularity, from being compressed into an unimaginably small volume. That is not nothing.

    “…the Second Law of Thermodynamics… states that energy is running out.” Wrong. It states that energy in the form of entropy is increasing, not that energy is going away.

    “this evidence for the existence of God”, which is not evidence for any such thing.

  9. 9
    Gadfly

    I feel like sort of a jerk for saying this, since I thought your post was well-reasoned and presented a lot of good points, but you lost me when you said Monopoly was fun. :P

  10. 10
    msm16

    I love question three as it comes up so much and is a good ignorace detector. The question itself shows its own answer. To ask “what came before time” is a nonsense question, its lke asking what is the sound of banana?” The concept of ‘before’ only has meaning within the context of time. The ‘begining’ of the univers is the begining of time the concept of before is meaningless.

    This sounds like i am being pedantic or simply avoiding the issue by redefinition but that is not the case at all. Infact this issue is central to modern physics as it now seems that time is not so immortal and constant as we once though. Time itself may change just as much as all other physical quanties we can measure. The problem is that time is so fundumental to our reality that it is hard to concive as anything other than something truly immutable and fundumental; at least without the use of high level mathematics.

    Sorry for the tangent this is ust something that i find facinating.

  11. 11
    msm16

    Sorry for the double post this will teach me for posting before i finish the whole document.

    “Jews being told to pay taxes to the Roman empire”

    Jesus also praised roman soldiers humm sounds like propaganda to me. Considering christiantiy became the official religion of the roman empire it is more likely that they inserted these pro imperial statements at a later date. After all it would be impolitic for your own official religion to condem the state. And as anyone who is in any way remoetly assciated with roman histor should know the romans were a very very practical people and would have be no way above wholesale rewriting religious texts.

  12. 12
    Jasper of Maine

    15. Why are there no good reasons to believe atheism is true?

    The question doesn’t even make sense.

    “Why are there no good reasons to believe ” I don’t believe you” is true?”

  13. 13
    Tyrant

    1. Whatever begins to exist has a cause

    No. The “common sense” idea that all things, including the universe itself, must have a cause, stems from every day experience and is unjustly extrapolated to the universe as a whole by the person making this statement. Incidentally, it is not even true within the universe, and therefore has no basis at all.

    2. The universe began to exist

    It is not clear whether this statement is even well-defined. In any case, it is not necessarily true. We don’t know currently and it is not sure whether we will ever be able to determine this.

    3. Therefore, the universe has a cause

    This schtick is so mind-numbingly stupid, and it is repeated over and over again as a cargo cult philosophy argument by idiots who don’t understand what they are talking about, and on purpose by liars like WLC. I guess it sounds plausible as long as you don’t actually think about it or if you don’t know anything.

  14. 14
    Kevin

    Re the historicity of Jesus.

    Yes…Richard Carrier actually blogs here, so should be the go-to source.

    However.

    All of the folks mentioned as being reliable “witnesses” to the existence of Jesus were nothing of the source. They were all born decades to CENTURIES after the alleged life of Jesus.

    That would be like relying on my “witness” to establish the life of Teddy Roosevelt.

    There are precisely and exactly zero contemporaneous eyewitness documents corroborating the existence of someone named Jesus of Nazareth. The Talmud references, FWIW, are of a totally different guy named Jesus. (In Hebrew “Joshua”, which was at the time and place about as common as the name Mohammed in that region of the world currently).

    Seriously. I question the historicity of Jesus because there is no evidence in support of it. None. Zero. Zilch. Nada. Zip.

  15. 15
    A Hermit

    Wow, that was like my last ten years on the internet summed up in one blog post…nice work!

  16. 16
    sc_58f4e03a5100d985a8c0488e472bfa16

    We once didn’t consider black people or brown people to be human beings

    Who are “We”? I think black and brown people always considered themselves to be human beings.

  17. 17
    ChristineRose

    Proof of the non-existence of God:

    God, if He exists, wants us to worship Him. (Part of the definition.)

    God, if He exists, wants us to worship Him in particular way. (Part of the definition.)

    God, if He exists, is omniscient and omnipotent and benevolent. (Part of the definition.)

    Therefore, God, if He exists, is capable of informing humans how to worship Himself in a way that would make it clear to a sincere student exactly how He should be worshiped.

    All the books and arguments that tell us how God should be worshiped are full of contradictions and are not convincing as divine documents.

    A benevolent deity that is capable of helping us out here would do so.

    Therefore, God cannot exist.

    QED

    The weakness is in the definitions of course. Define God as a being that can do anything but chooses to act in such a way as to be indistinguishable from something that doesn’t exist and it all falls apart.

  18. 18
    Nemo

    “If God does not exist, the universe would have no meaning for its existence, and would, thus, not exist.” The “no meaning” argument is very popular, but I’d never seen it extended to “and would thus not exist” before. But maybe that was implicit? Certainly, the apologists always seem to think they’ve scored with this point, and I’ve never quite understood why. I’d assumed that it was an emotional argument rather than a logical one — with the implication being that a universe without “meaning” would somehow be a terrible thing, and therefore you shouldn’t want to believe in it.

  19. 19
    davidhart

    Good job, but you misssed a spot:
    “1. The early Christians died for their belief that He rose from the dead. You don’t die for what you know is a lie. No one does, and no one ever could.”

    AhemJosephSmithcoughcough

  20. 20
    StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return!

    Off topic sorry and you may well have already seen this but just in case not Avicenna :

    http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/a/avicenna.html

    you’ve been quoted. (Sort of.)

  21. 21
    Avicenna

    StevoR

    I am afraid you have found my more famous historical name sake. I don’t think I have said any of these things except the wit one which I may have heard from Ibn Sina in the first place.

  22. 22
    nishant

    why are you claiming Buddha as God
    he himself said he is just a normal human being
    people who says he is God are ignorant
    Also Buddhas teachings is not Religion its the way to live your life
    All Buddhist teachings are based on Science and there is no room for miracles

  23. 23
    James Smith

    The Pharaohs Could Fly

    Much of what people have regarded as magic and “god” over the centuries have really been things they just didn’t understand so they attributed mystical significance to normal events.

    A great example of this is a piece I read by Richard Bach (Jonathan Livingston Seagull, Illusions) who wrote that the ancient Egyptians could fly. Obviously, we know that they did not. They left us so many records in the form of artwork and writings that we would know if they had.

    But, they had bamboo, papyrus, linen, plus the thermals and steady winds of the Nile valley. They could have built gliders capable of sailing hundreds of miles. Unfortunately, they were ignorant of the laws of aerodynamics even though they were as much in effect then as now. But they didn’t know, so they didn’t go.

    It’s possible that there are laws of physics that we don’t know about today that, if we did, we would be capable of feats as astounding to us as flying would have been to the Pharaohs, who would have assumed that was supernatural, but was only the application of physical laws effective for anyone.

    Even today, we see the same thing when people, observing anything they do not understand, assume it has a supernatural source. “God cured me of cancer” “The lord was with us. It’s a miracle only 12 people were killed. It could have been worse.” “I don’t understand how evolution could possibly work, so it must have been god.”

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