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Dear Bodie Hodge – What people get wrong about Atheism

Dear Bodie,

Someone sent me your letter to atheists and I fear you seem to have a very bizarre notion of how atheism works. I am pretty sure we have told you how exactly we work over and over again, but you seem to pretty much ignore whatever we say in exchange for your 6000 year old world where all of humanity was born out of super incest and a complete disconnect from science.

However? People do read your work, and that requires a rebuttal and indeed I have gotten your particular letter not once but twice. So let’s begin. First we have to see where exactly you have gone wrong.

Are you tired of all the evil associated with the philosophy of atheism—Stalin, Hitler, Pol Pot, and so on? After all, most murderers, tyrants, and rapists are not biblical Christians, and most have rejected the God of the Bible. Even if they claim to believe in the God of the Bible, they are not really living like a true Christ follower (who strives to follow God’s Word), are they?

History Lesson Bodie… Hitler was a Christian. He used to send people like me to the “Camps”. And I am not talking about the fun ones where you eat bratwurst and wear lederhosen and oggle the frauleins or whatever notion of Hitler you have in your head.

Don’t be Stupid, Be a Smarty! Come and Join the Nazi Party! (Godwin Averted)

It’s wrong. Please, pick up a History book. Your version of Hitler is no different from the one above. People like my ancestors and many millions of people fought and died for and against a man like this. So to alter the history of that war is to tarnish their deaths. Their deaths don’t mean anything really in the grand scheme of things. But their deaths mean little things to the people who were related to them. It is these memories Bodie trods on. The memories of your grandparents who fought a horrible ideology be it in some little way. Some little way of defiance or some grand way of war.

The war was a tragedy of humanity, but the stories from WW2 demonstrate some of the finest principles of human beings to ever walk the earth. On both sides we saw bravery and valour and humanity. For all the inhumanity of that war there were still good people on every side who did good things for other humans. And that’s the one little piece of good that we can take away from that horrible event in human history. That in all the evil that man can do to each other, there are people who will stand up for what is right and do the right thing based on what they think rather than blind faith to a man.

And that’s the most important point. Blind faith. Stalin was a cult of personality. A religion of a man and blind faith in a human being rather than a fictitious character. The same with Pol Pot. I am one of the last “real” Khmer out there. Pol Pot’s reign of terror killed and destroyed more Khmer culture as did the Junta of Burma resulting in most expats to have held onto their roots better than people back in their nations. My grandmother taught me my heritage. And I know for a fact that Pol Pot wasn’t an atheist, he believed himself to be a god. My grandmother’s family were part of the original khmer, people who genuinely believed they were the children of the celestial snakes. I ate better khmer food growing up in the UK than people were eating during the 80s and 90s and 2000s in Burma and Cambodia. Khmer food is famous for eating a lot of insects, that’s because of starvation. Our seafood and our rice and our fish culture was gone. Destroyed by a cult of personality. To call the desolation of Cambodian and Burma (the two khmer culture nations) a  rape wouldn’t be far. Colonialism, Missionaries, The Empire of the Sun and Pol Pot all had their say. I am the last of my grandmother’s line. She has no sisters, she hopes they died because the alternative treatment at the hands of the Empire of the Rising Sun was too painful to bear for her. Her brothers and sisters went to war as brave and fearsome and as savage as the legends that carried my ancestor’s names. My grandmother told me about people from our “family” who fought in Belgium, Africa, China, Afghanistan. And since I was the closest to her she taught me of shadow puppets, of Angkor Wat and of the road to Mandalay.

Pol Pot and the Burmese Junta killed our culture not because they were atheists, but because they thought their culture inferior because it failed to halt the advance of the british imperialism and Japan and was being beset by missionaries. It was the knee jerk of people who didn’t think for one second that the way to make culture strong was to indulge in it. To keep tradition alive. And that’s the price people paid.

But it’s not all sad. I may not have a family related by blood and by allegiance like my ancestors used to, but neither am I feared as a monster of the night (We weren’t nice people honestly… I mean a Jaguar Warrior was part of Mexican Culture but wasn’t a nice guy to meet in a jungle). My friends help keep it alive too. My grandmother at this point has more people who follow her ways than when she was my age. And there is always hope that my friends will pass it on.

Atheists don’t bow to men either. There are no gods, not even human ones. We have our heroes but they are based on achievement and even they are subject to criticism. Despite what people may think, should PZ Myers or Dawkins or Penn or Teller or Adam & Jamie or any one of the many open and well meaning skeptics and secularists and atheists who stand up as visible pillars of the community stray, we are perfectly capable of telling them what we think of their squid lusting tentacular beardy ways (You know what I am talking about.)

Do you feel conflicted about the fact that atheism has no basis in morality (i.e., no absolute right and wrong; no good, no bad?) If someone stabs you in the back, treats you like nothing, steals from you, or lies to you, it doesn’t ultimately matter in an atheistic worldview where everything and everyone are just chemical reactions doing what chemicals do. And further, knowing that you are essentially no different from a cockroach in an atheistic worldview (since people are just animals) must be disheartening.

Oh there is a good and bad in atheism, but in order to know good from bad you had to really REALLY think. You see, we amongst all animals have evolved a method of analysing what our actions mean. Now some animals like the raven are pretty damn smart. An adult raven is probably as smart as a toddler if not smarter.

And it can plan out the consequences of it’s actions. In this case it analyses a problem and plans out what an action it takes will do to solve it’s problem.

We are capable of that on a grand scale. We can play chess, we can play games of such simplicity that the complexity within will astound you. And because of that we can see what effect our actions have and we can rationalise whether an action is good or bad and what consequences our actions will have. Our morality is entrenched in evolution. It’s simple. You can see the increase in complexity of rules between hunter gatherers, early agriculture, village, town, city and national level. These rules are what was required for the survival of the species. People who killed and stole were killed by the moral people. It’s why these rules are universal or if they aren’t specify which targets are suitable for killing and stealing (AKA people form other tribes and other cities and other nations in times of war and people who are disruptive to established society).

It ultimately matters if someone stabs you in the back, treats you like nothing, steals or lies to us. It matters a lot when people do these things because they hurt human beings. And human beings are precious not because some god says so but because we can understand and empathise with other people.

And because we can empathise we can put ourselves in their shoes and see what they see and try and feel what they feel. We can then base our actions on that rather than to do things blindly because a book and a man in a silly hat says so.

You are an animal. You are also chemistry. Such marvellous chemistry that Bodie would weep if he knew it’s true capability. You see we started off simple but that Chemistry grew and grew. You are essentially a very complicated chemical reaction and this insults Bodie’s view of the world because he would rather be powered by very simple magic. The evidence for this is the ability to alter who you are through “chemistry” and “structure”. Drugs and Injuries can change who you are by changing the way your brain works and the chemistry that takes place inside it. Your entire soul is a illusion brought on by the complexity of chemistry. While this would cause Bodie to go into an existentialist crisis you have to realise that in itself is remarkable. That we are so complicated we cannot grasp for a moment how our brain works and we would rather be a machine with a little operator inside it.

Existential crisis about piloting a bipedal suit, souls, vague Christian references and the scarring of children?  Oh look! It’s time for Evangelion!

Can you imagine the Chemistry that the raven in the video used to do something that simple to us? It is astonishingly complex, there are greater things in the universe than

Are you tired of the fact that atheism (which is based in materialism, a popular worldview today) has no basis for logic and reasoning? Is it tough trying to get up every day thinking that truth, which is immaterial, really doesn’t exist? Are you bothered by the fact that atheism cannot account for uniformity in nature (the basis by which we can do real science)? Why would everything explode from nothing and, by pure chance, form beautiful laws like E=MC2 or F=MA?

Let’s look at some basic mathematics. Geometry in fact…

1. If you connect two points using the shortest route you will require a straight line

2. If you extend a straight line you will continue to get a straight line

3. If you draw a line around a point always maintaining a set distance from it you will get a circle

4. All right angles are equal to each other

5. If a straight line that intersects two other straight lines forms interior angles equal to 90°, then the two lines are parallel

Avi! You say! These are stuff we learn in school! What does it have to do about faith and atheism and this Bodie malarkey? Let’s play a little game. This is particularly useful if you have kids.

Get a pen and paper out. Try these “postulates” out. These make sense don’t they?

These are the Euclidian Principles, an object of “faith” taken based on observations made by Euclid. But here is the thing. Euclid based these principles on faith in his own senses and FAITH on the behaviour of mathematics. BUT you have to really look at the last point. No. 5 was revolutionary for it’s time, people literally went mad for it’s proof because it was so remarkable a thing to say.

If you take a strip of paper and make three folds in it, each in the same direction so that the two loose ends touch each other. Now try and draw a straight line on that piece of paper. I just connected one dot with itself with a straight line. Isn’t your faith in Euclid weak? I have just broken your faith in the geometry we teach our children at schools.

What if we start bring out weird shapes? Were the postulates wrong? No… This elegance only applies to flat surfaces. In the context of our geometry education these are more than sufficient to teach us because most of our school education has to do with “paper geometry” rather than the advanced geometry of modern mathematics and Euclides is just fine there. All these postulates are fine IF they are on plane surfaces. The modern postulate specifies a plane surface.

But here is the thing, our kids in our schools faffing around with this geometry would have been considered geniuses around Euclid. Their knowledge would have been elegant and their grasp of his ideas better than his own. Because we build on our faith and we are constantly testing it. Bodie may think a sexy person in revealing clothes may be a test of faith, but really our entire world is a test of our faith in science. It’s EASY to say god did it, it’s very simple. You just need to stop asking questions. The difference between science and religion is just that we test our postulates and if they are found wanting we change them and adapt them to fit the world. That is why religion thinks a single cured leper is impressive, while I think the inhibition of dihydrofolic acid synthesis has had more to do with the elimination of leprosy than prayer. We are constantly asking questions. If we knew all the answers science would stop.

The beautiful laws Bodie quotes are just words in his mouth. He has no idea how they work and what they mean. The physics behind his claims is as alien to him as the biology of evolution. He thinks those formulae are elegant but they are no more elegant than 1 + 1 = 2. They are mathematical fact because we have created mathematics. It is safe to think of mathematics as a universal language. The numbers will not change from civilisation to civilisation even if the method of counting changes.

If you want to try and other experiment I shall teach you a non-western way of counting. Your left hand counts individual numbers based on the joints of your fingers and thumbs (3 for 4 fingers and 2 for the thumb) and your right hand calculates the number of times you have counted. So 2 counts on your left hand and 2 on your right would be 2 X 14 + 2 = 30. It’s just that base 14 isn’t as used as base ten because of various variations of history.

Now imagine meeting someone you never have met before. Neither of you spoke the same language. How would you communicate?

Mathematics would be one of the first things you tried to teach and learn from this person. It’s why one of the first lessons  in any language is mathematics because it is UNIVERSAL. To quote F=MA as some sort of proof for the existence of your god is like claiming that if god didn’t exist 1 + 1 = 3 (for particularly large values of 1). And this is without going into things such as logs and calculus which would simply blow Bodie’s mind.

Do you feel like you need a weekend to recoup, even though a weekend is really meaningless in an atheistic worldview—since animals, like bees, don’t take a day of rest or have a weekend? So why should atheists? Why borrow a workweek and weekend that comes from the pages of Scriptures, which are despised by atheists? Weeks and weekends come from God creating in six literal days and resting for a literal day; and then the Lord Jesus resurrected on the first day of the week (Sunday). And why look forward to time off for a holiday (i.e., holy day), when nothing is holy in an atheistic worldview?

Want to know something funny? Bodie thinks animals work all the time because of the bees. He has never seen animals “at work” and “at rest”. He has never seen animals at play and animals relaxing and sleeping. He is never ever seen the pleasure on the face of a cat whose nose is getting scratched at just that spot that causes their eyes to shut and to start making noises like a buzzsaw.

Want to know something even funnier? Bodie thinks Sundays are sacred.

That’s fine…

But why do we have a holiday on the Saturday then? Jews? Bah! Jews never really took that day off and we never really treated Jews that well till recently. Certainly not well enough to give them a holiday…

One of the major forces for the recognition of the 2 day weekend were the unions.

AKA Communists. AKA religion is an opiate of the masses.

TGIF Comrades? I got a manifesto that will make that happen.

Oh look watch out for Fidel, he certainly is a whiz at Dance Dance Revolutions. But guess what?

All of these guys were for 2 day weekends. If Sunday is a “holy day” then Saturday is a day to get wankered (or at least recuperate from getting wankered. And I use the term wankered to mean anything from jello shots to an early bedtime with a copy of Dirty Dancing).

I also believe that if Bodie really accepted the truth of communism and the things it HAS done for us he would drag his children out of schools to make them work on saturdays in a coal mine because he would want nothing to do with “Atheism and Communism”. And that really is quite sad. The inability to discern good ideas and take the good ideas without the bad is something sorely lacking in people who only believe in an entrenched and inflexible view point.

For professing atheists, these questions can be overwhelming to make sense of within their worldview. And further, within an atheistic worldview, atheists must view themselves as God. Essentially, atheists are claiming to be God. Instead of saying there may not be a God, they say there is no God. To make such a statement, they must claim to be omniscient (which is an essential attribute of the God of the Bible) among other attributes of God as well. So, by saying there is no God, the atheist refutes his own position by addressing the question as though he or she were God!

As it should well be!

These are questions we are still discovering the answers too. If Bodie were into geometrics he would have classed non-euclidean geometry as heresy and my little demonstration would have more in common with magic than just a different way of showing how structure affects geometry. A simple concept but one we have struggled to get to grips with.

Closing your eyes and believing in Bodie’s god doesn’t answer these questions. It just ignores these questions.

And I repeat there are no gods, not even human ones. The atheist view point is that there is no evidence of a god so there isn’t one. The Christian has no evidence of Shiva or Jehovah yet still thinks Jehovah exists while Shiva is a silly blue guy with a snake for a necklace. Until any religion can provide proof of a god without referring to their holy books as a source of evidence they are in the same realm as unicorns and leprechauns. Bogie’s argument is built on massive assumptions and it is here we have to apply logic again. Remember how I explained how the euclidian principles work? These are his Bodie Postulates

1. There is a god

By god we mean an entity that exists outside the boundaries of space and time.

2. This god possess astonishing powers

This entity is capable of either eschewing the laws of physics at whim (AKA Magic) or possess technology that makes it seem like it has. For all intents and purposes Bodie postulates that this god is omnipotent or “all powerful”.

3. There is only one god and it is eternal

This god is sentient and sapient as much as we are if not more, however there is only one of it and this entity is purely eternal

4. This god is omnipresent

Despite existing outside the boundaries of all ken this being is fully capable of being everywhere and knowing everything. From the exact position of an electron in your toe nail to the position of all life forms on a single planet.

5. The universe exists for us alone

That there are no other worlds capable of life and we were divinely ordained for existence

6. The universe is a creationist one

You know the drill 6000 years old, women made from ribs. Super incest…

7. That the god is an interventionist but leaves no trace of his intervention

Repeated miracles occur with little to no evidence.

8. The Bible rather than Torah or Koran (or The Vedas) is the one true message from this god

Again the others are just wrong.

9. Everything in the bible is therefore true and provided by this being because he wants to save us from eternal damnation which the being created and give us eternal reward by getting us to “pray” to this being.

Seems mightily suspicious.

Look there are a LOT more postulates that Bodie needs for his world view to be taken true. But with just these 9 you can question nearly all of them for a lack of ANY evidence. Many of these are just simply not true in light of science and it’s evidence. Many of these are just massive assumptions with no basis on logic. For 1. 2, 3. 4. 5 and 7 you may as well say “Assume a Magic Wish Granting Unicorn” and be just as valid as Bodie. The only difference is the Magic Wish Granting Unicorn is an absurd creation while Jehovah is worshipped by more than a billion people who often do things based on these (amongst many other) faulty postulates.

Do you feel conflicted about proselytizing the faith of atheism, since if atheism were true then who cares about proselytizing? Let’s face it, life seems tough enough as an atheist without having to deal with other major concerns like not having a basis to wear clothes, or no basis for marriage, no consistent reason to be clean (snails don’t wake up in the morning and clean themselves or follow other cleanliness guidelines based on Levitical laws), and no objective reason to believe in love.

Because of what I said earlier.

The cultural desolation of the planet can be squarely pointed at the usage of Christianity and Islam to convert people. Where local traditions are run over roughshod by people whose superstitions are no better but clad in the trappings of science. Bodie has no clue about how any of the marvels of science that make his life function smoothly, but it would not stop him claiming that all the things he has are due to worshipping Jehovah and painting Jehovah as “Uncle Sam” and the blessings as Cargo.

While the genuine cargo cults were based on postulates brought on by a massive technological disparity between the civilisations involved, Bodie still flogs it as if his faith was the sole method of scientific advancement.

Which is why Bodie thinks Clothes, Marriage, Cleanliness guidelines are all based on his Levitical laws rather than “common sense”. Clothes are mainly based on keeping yourself safe from the elements. The biblical notion of prudishness has much to explain for the oppression of women across the globe. Marriage has it’s basis in tribal societies and societies that pre-date Judaism (Oh don’t worry! Bodie Postulates that those societies plain didn’t exist!). And Christians for a massive amount of time were so clean that they didn’t really take baths all that much. The notion of daily baths was alien to a lot of Christians who thought it was “bad” for you.

As for love? It’s purely chemistry too, but so is adrenaline. Ever felt that rush of life from adrenaline? That thumping of life and feeling when you sit on a roller coaster? Why should adrenaline be chemistry but love not? Chemistry is as real as real can get. It’s empirical and in stone. You love people because they mean something to you that causes a chemical reaction.

You watch that and tell me we aren’t capable of “love”. The Chemistry, Physics and mathematics doesn’t cheapen the concept of love. It just makes what you feel more understandable and more valuable.

Are you weary of looking for evidence that contradicts the Bible’s account of creation and finding none? Do the assumptions and inconsistencies of dating methods weigh on your conscience when they are misrepresented as fact? Where do you suppose those missing links have gone into hiding? Surely the atheist sees the folly and hopelessness of believing that everything came from nothing.

The world is nearly 6 billion years old, the Bible claimed it was 6000 years old. It’s a value 0.0001% of the real figure. It’s so wrong it’s not even funny because according to the Bible mankind was around before the universe was formed since we have evidence of definitely and identifiable humans dating back to more than 10,000 BC. We have stone tools from around 3 million years ago. The inconsistencies of dating methods are because Bodie uses dating methods like a dog uses a laptop.

Poorly and Incorrectly.

And there is no such thing as a missing link or a transitional fossil. We are all transitional, if we stopped transitioning it would mean that there is no evolutionary pressure on us to change which means stagnation which means when there is an evolutionary pressure we up sticks and die. And the only way to satisfy Bodie would be to possess a complete lineage of fossils which is simply impossible since animals have to die in very specific ways to be fossilised. And the DNA evidence is enough to point out a universal source of life and there are sufficient fossils to produce a rough idea of progression. There is way more evidence for the law of Evolution than there is for the existence of a magical entity that can break the laws of physics that Bodie specifically talks to.

In fact, why would an atheist care to live one moment longer in a broken universe where one is merely rearranged pond scum and all you have to look forward to is . . . death, which can be around any corner? And in 467 trillion years, no one will care one iota about what you did or who you were or how and when you died—because death is the ultimate “hero” in an atheistic, evolutionary worldview. Of course, as a Christian I disagree, and I have a basis to see you as having value.

Because it’s fun. Because for most of us life is pretty “fucking good”. And despite the little complaints there are things that make it worth while. Are there not experiences on this planet? Is there not more knowledge? Are there not people? Are there not games? Stories?

Is there not music to sear your soul and art to make you think? To an atheist these matter because these are important to the living.

Who cares about 467 trillion years, no one will be around. Is that all you want your descendants to do? Care for the dead? They have their own lives to live and their own experiences? I wouldn’t want any kids I have to be sad. It would be nice to be remembered but frankly I am not going to be in any fit state to complain about not being remembered because “I will be dead” and dead people have little say in the matter. BUT I wouldn’t want my loved ones to be sad, I would want them to live and experience life and help others to do the same thing. I will be alive in the things that I taught them to do.

It’s not a race to some magic reward. It’s life, it may not be the greatest but it’s the best we got and it’s up to us to make the best out of what we got. Sometimes we get dealt a good hand, sometimes we get dealt the worst. Sometimes we give up because we think there is no hope. It’s nothing to give someone a bit of hope, it’s nothing to try and make the world better so that the people who have a bad hand can still enjoy life.

You have no value. Ask those who don’t love you what you are worth then ask those who love you what you are worth. The discrepancy is because you are worth absolutely nothing to those who don’t know you, but there are some people in your life who are worth more than anything. That you are valued not as currency but as a human being by the bonds you make as a human being.

You can be valued by time, by patience by things that aren’t quantifiable. Because most of us don’t put a cost on human interaction.

And eventually we may die and everyone of us may forget who we are but you won’t care. You will be dead. You will be part of the world we came from. It’s sad but remember, would you rather live your life knowing this truth and knowing that your actions had real meaning to you and the people around you or live life as if you were rushing to some finishing line for a reward?

To Bodie everything outside Jesus is a distraction, to me Jesus distracts you from everything outside. If you don’t believe in a god then most of this is obvious to you. If you do believe in one then take a moment to write down all the postulates that you have to make for your god to exist and then compare them to real world evidence outside of your religious text.

If you want answers, then I cannot provide them to you. What makes life amazing is different for each of us. Living is it’s own reward. You already live in the best paradise we are going to get.

You may as well make sure everyone gets to live in it not just you. That’s why I work in a place where kids sometimes get their faces eaten by maggots, because I can make their lives better and I will give them a little piece of my paradise. That’s why many of us fight for what we believe in. We think paradise is for everyone and everyone should have that chance so we have to build heaven or paradise or morksha or whatever at our feet rather than in some hypothetical world. While we may be struggling to create it our paradise is real. And it’s fleeting nature just makes it even more precious to us.

If there is one message that Bodie should take from this it is this…

He who walks with love in his head always has paradise at his feet.

Comments

  1. TGAP Dad says

    Great post. I have a question: with length clearly not a limitation, and Hitler being discussed, why was the catholic church’s institutional collusion with the nazi regime not mentioned? I also would like to have seen the questioner called out for trotting out the “no true Scotsman” argument.

  2. A Hermit says

    Ah yes, I saw this one a while ago.

    My favourite bit was this one:

    Christians do have a basis to wear clothes (to cover shame due to sin; see Genesis 2:25; 3:7)

    I have a better basis for wearing clothes: the outside temperature here is -21C, with the windchill equivalent to -31C. I wear clothes so I won’t freeze to death…lots of clothes…

  3. smrnda says

    These people make a lot of assumptions about atheists. I really don’t feel conflicted, whereas many religious people I know have to do a lot of mental gymnastics to keep believing in religions that contradict scientific knowledge or which frequently advocate barbarism (like slavery, women being property, that killing kids is okay if a god tells you to, or that consensual sex can be wrong but somehow, it’s okay to sell your daughter as property and keep concubines for men.)

  4. says

    @2.

    My issue with that is while the Catholic Church behaved like monolithic muppets with an official line of kowtowing to the Nazis, there were individual catholics who behaved with humanity. It was less of a post attacking religion for it’s hypocrisy or it’s harm of which there is plenty, this was basically pure theory. A demonstration of science (Euclidian Geometry) and a simple way how we build on our hypothesis and theorems vs. religion stopping purely at faith and not progressing from there. The OP who sent it to me was struggling with faith and so a kinder tone is required…

    Both sides have faith, it’s what we have it in and how we use that faith that defines the two sides. We build on our faith and test it. The religious make faith the sole focus of everything to the exclusion of progress, well not all religious people but the two religions that tend to make the news more than others.

  5. says

    We ourselves are the arbiters of the meaning of our own lives. Anyone who tells you different is, to be blunt, robbing you. Not just of your time, spent in supplication to a fiction in your head but most likely your money as well. Religion can do good for people, I saw that this very morning, prayer is a form of comfort to the afflicted. But that does not give it a pass to conflict with the facts of this world. I grew up without the placation of religion, and have not suffered for it, faith is not an automatic precursor to living a good life, in any sense.

    This is a very well done post; I laughed at the raven video and was brought to tears when that speaker proposed, all the while learning good stuff.

  6. CraniumRat says

    Beautiful post, as ever… you, my dear sir, are quickly becoming one of my favourite writers! Hats off.

  7. Owosso Harpist says

    I’ve always wanted to know the truth about Pol Pot and his religious views. He’s been long assumed to be an atheist, but you clarified that Pol Pot was a self-proclaimed “god” who regard everything else as inferior, including atheism. Spectacular post!

  8. bradleybetts says

    Great post Avi; I’m getting really sick of religiots opining about how Atheists think when they clearly have no fucking clue, so It’s nice to see one of them being ripped apart :)

    One small thing though; the Earth is 4.54 billion years old, plus or minus about 0.05 billion years (error bars get bigger the further back you date something, so for something this old they are pretty collosal), not 6 billion. As a geology graduate that kind of jumped out at me. But still, great post :)

  9. Kanzeon says

    I don’t think you’ve read very many history books. Bodie, who is no scholar either, said:

    “Are you tired of all the evil associated with the philosophy of atheism—Stalin, Hitler, Pol Pot, and so on?”

    Is his statement defensible? Of course. Start with Hitler. You seem to think that just identifying Hitler as a Christian settles the question. Of course, no one is really sure what Hitler’s religious views were:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religious_views_of_Adolf_Hitler

    But what we see is a persecution of people in all religious traditions in the Nazi state as well as non-believers. The Nazis relationship with Christianity was complex

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religion_in_Nazi_Germany#Nazism_and_Christianity

    At times they professed that they were tolerant of freethinkers. Certain factions wanted to eliminate Christian churches altogether. There was an attempt to replace sectarian Christianity with a new “positive Christianity.” In no way was Nazi Germany a friend of traditional Christianity. The Nazi philosophy was based on scientific social engineering and eugenics.

    In the end, Hitler’s social engineering was erratic and never held to any particularly consistent principle.

    As to Stalin and Pol Pot, and all communist states, the issue had little to do with hero worship. Communist states believe that the existing social order must be destroyed and remade to reflect Communist values. The Soviet Union declared its goal to be the elimination of religion. Pol Pot decreed that the entire culture be remade from “Year Zero.” Mao had his cultural revolution. Part of this process was to develop a cult of personality – however, that wasn’t the cause of violence. The destruction of social institutions was the cause of violence.

    Let’s take his other observations:

    “Do you feel conflicted about the fact that atheism has no basis in morality (i.e., no absolute right and wrong; no good, no bad?)…And further, within an atheistic worldview, atheists must view themselves as God.”

    On the first point, he is of course right. You can’t get an ought from an is. On the second, he is somewhat metaphorical, but the point has been made that, without a religion, humanity must undertake the task of engineering its own future. Man must determine his own morality. You say: if there is no God, how is this different – he is merely substituting a superstitious creation for a scientific one. But the history of social engineering is not pretty. Communism is mass murder carried out to destroy tradition to install an enlightened, scientific state. Nazism was mass murder carried out in part based on theories of eugenics:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nazi_eugenics

    And of course there was Nazi science:

    http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2008/12/04/was-nazi-science-good-science/

    The experiments in the death camps applied the scientific method. In no way was the Nazi state superstitious.

    There are two questions: 1. do atheists, individually, act immorally? and 2. do atheist states act immorally?

    As to the first, there are probably too few atheists to determine, but there isn’t any reason to assume that atheists are more anti-social than anyone else. Or less.

    As to the second, the answer seems to be yes. States attempt to engineer outcomes. Cultural traditions provide a mixed bag of good and bad influences. Religion may strengthen family, for example, but encourage racism or sexism. The problem is that in the end, a culture or subculture must believe in something. Without a respect for tradition, brutal social engineering is a real possibility. In fact, since the communist experiment is the only set of avowed atheist states, that is the only result that we have seen to date.

    You might note that countries with higher levels of atheism today may have good social outcomes. But these states are in no way hostile to religion. Science isn’t the ideology of these governments. Atheism is part of the religious and cultural diversity of those nations, and more diversity can be good. These states, notably, operate on non-scientific principles: enlightenment ideas of human dignity which are most often rooted in theories of natural law that are currently scientifically untenable. Remove these old theories of natural law, and what to you have? Science cannot, and never will, respect human dignity. Humans are objects of science, and societies just experiments.

  10. Vin says

    “Hitler was a Christian”…that’s where I stopped reading your article…Hitler was just a much a Christian as you are.
    If you want something to chew on…read Cornelius Van Til’s “Christian Apologetics”; real reason and logic that you cannot refute…or just read the Bible because it is The Truth from God himself and has the power to do the will of God in anyone’s life who is humble enough to ask. My God grant you favor so that you can know Him.

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