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Mar 09 2009

Does the term “atheist evangelism” acknowledge that atheism is a religion?

Dale writes:

Russell,

I am 40 years an atheist and have countless communications with theists. The blogoshere has opened a deversified line of communications with theists. I have just watched your lecture series on You Tube and thoroughly enjoyed them.

I am presently debating a theist that is trying to perpetuate the myth that atheism is a religion. He is now pointing out your lectures and saying, “see, they are “evangelizing.” That proves that atheism is a religion.

My observation is that using the term “evangelizing” may not have been the best choice of words. I understand that it is meant to mean “carry the message,” but it seems that “evangelize” is strictly used in a religious connotation.

I was wondering if you you have had any other feed back on this and how you might respond to my dilemma.

I know you must be very busy but hope you have a moment to respond.

I will be supporting you and the ACA more in the future and keep up the great work that you are doing!

Best Regards,

Dale

When I titled my lecture “How atheists can be effective evangelists,” of course I was intentionally invoking the obvious religious connotation of the word.  I would say this was partly a joke — I like to use a little bit of clever wordplay in the titles of my posts and lectures whenever any occurs to me, and I picked the image of an atheist evangelist precisely because the words are so jarring together.

I recognize, though, that it’s a problem that atheists grapple with already.  Theists frequently dismiss atheism by saying it’s “just another religion” — which is hilariously ironic, since the implied irrelevance of religion makes our point for us.  But let’s tackle this question of whether atheism is really a religion.

A while ago I came up with a strategy for dealing with the “Atheism is a religion” charge on the show.  My reply can be summed up in two words: “So what?”

That’s a bit glib, sure, but let’s look at the accusation.  The problem with the charge is that “Atheism = Religion” is a huge equivocation fallacy.  It relies on the fact that “religion” is poorly defined and has many different meanings.  So when somebody tells you that atheism is a religion, the appropriate follow-up question is “What do you mean by that?”

This puts the ball more squarely in their court, and lets you evaluate the MEANING of the word rather than quibbling over the word itself.  One perfectly acceptable definition of religion is: “something one believes in and follows devotedly; a point or matter of ethics or conscience: to make a religion of fighting prejudice.

Gosh!  Fighting prejudice is a religion!  I certainly don’t have a problem fighting prejudice, I guess I am pro-religion!

On the other hand, another definition is: “a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, esp. when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.”  Atheism is not that.  Duh.

So you see, the active meaning is the important thing.  Not the word.  There are ways that atheists do the same things religious people do.  For instance, I like the way religions form social outlets for people to get together and discuss common interests.  I think atheists should do more of that.  If they did, they’d be more like religions.

So what?

I don’t think you should take things on faith.  I don’t think you should form major unwavering beliefs on the basis of little evidence, or in spite of contrary evidence.  In that sense, atheism should not emulate religion, and probably never will.

For the purposes of the Supreme Court, secular humanism is a religion.  So what?  Should we revile secular humanism on those grounds?  Or should we say “Yeah, I can see the relevance of the legal definition, and I’m glad that this is used to confer more rights on secular humanists that were already implicit in the legal meaning of religion”?

Next time people tell you that atheists are just as religious as Christians, ask them what they mean by that.  And if they use a definition of religion that is so broad that it really does include your concept of atheism, then just reply, “So what?”

45 comments

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  1. 1
    Ben

    The argument that using the term “atheist evangelist” proves that atheism is a religion is so weak that it shouldn’t even be called an argument. Leave aside the nonreligious uses of the word “evangelist” (does the existence of Apple Evangelists prove that Steven Jobs is god?) and ask yourself this: If someone sneezes and I reply reflexively with “Bless you,” does that even INDICATE (let alone prove) that I am a theist?Of course not. There are such things as convention (we use certain words and phrases because they’ve “always” been used) and metaphor (we refer to influential enthusiasts as evangelists).

  2. 2
    Eric Davison

    Every atheist I know hates the “see it’s a religion too” meme (not even going to call it an argument…), and I know my personal frustration with it in the past was primarily because it’s such an obviously ridiculous thing to say, but it’s not easy to rebut. There’s two things I reply with now:1) Is that an insult or a compliment? Are you saying, “See, religion is bad, but atheism isn’t any better”? Or are you saying “See, atheism is just as good as religion!” It’s obviously the former, or they wouldn’t be using it as an argument against atheism, but pointing that out explicitly makes them aware (since, despite their slip-up, they probably didn’t even realize they were saying that religion is bad).2) Why would they need to argue that atheism is a religion by definition? Nobody ever says, “See, Hinduism is a religion by definition!” because Hinduism is, you know, an actual religion. But yet they do with atheism… why is that?It’s because they’re trying to slip in extra properties that you wouldn’t otherwise ascribe to atheism. “Atheism fits this definition of religion because it [uses evangelism|worships Darwin|has faith], therefore it also [is just as harmful|has no verifiable claim to truth|is just a cult|fill in the blank...].” That’s the real argument they’re making, they just can’t say it explicitly because then it’s obvious that it’s ridiculous.From the link above:”Which is to say: People insist that “X, by definition, is a Y!” on those occasions when they’re trying to sneak in a connotation of Y that isn’t directly in the definition, and X doesn’t look all that much like other members of the Y cluster.”

  3. 3
    TheBrainFromPlanetArous

    When people try this nonsense on me, I have a cookie.Well, first I ask them if they believe in leprechauns. “Of course not,” comes the inevitable reply. So you ARE into this leprechaun thing, I shoot back. You’re just a Leprechaun Denier instead of a Leprechaun Believer!I then leave it to them to explain how there is a big difference between the two positions while I have a cookie.

  4. 4
    TheBrainFromPlanetArous

    Oh, you can also point out that the term “evangelist” comes from the Greek word εὐαγγέλιον (a reward for bringing welcome news) which had no specifically religious meaning.

  5. 5
    Tom Foss

    The impression I get from the “atheism is just a religion” meme is “atheism is just another religion, therefore it’s no more valid than the other religions, therefore I can ignore its claims like every other religion because I already know which religion is right. Also, it means they’re hypocrites and they’re just like the fundamentalists of the other religions, who they hate.” It’s the kind of postmodern denial of objective truth that Russell has discussed with Chuck Colson. The believer here seems to be saying that all religions are based on faith and therefore no one is right (except theirs, of course), and so if they can cast atheism as a religion, they can ignore it the way they ignore Hinduism, Buddhism, Paganism, and so forth.

  6. 6
    hellboundsmoker

    I always liked the “Calling Atheism a religion is like calling ‘bald’ a hair colour” chestnut, as obviously baldness implies a lack of hair. But I’m also on board with what BrainFromArous said… every great analogy uses Leprechauns sooner or later! If I had a dollar for every time I said something like “Well, I can’t prove Leprechauns don’t exist, but…”, I’d have mad bread to break up.

  7. 7
    Curt Cameron

    It doesn’t bother me all that much if someone refers to atheism as a religion. What pisses me off is for someone to refer to the Theory of Evolution as a religion.

  8. 8
    Tom Foss

    BrainFromArous: I always liked the “Calling Atheism a religion is like calling ‘bald’ a hair colour” chestnut, as obviously baldness implies a lack of hair.I’ve always liked that phrase, but I’ve had a problem with it in that, just as I’d fill in the “atheist/nonreligious” bubble in a form asking my religious affiliation, if I were bald, I’d fill in the “bald” bubble under “hair color.” It has as much prescriptive value as Russell’s use of the word “evangelism,” but it’s one of those sticking points on which annoying theists can drive a wedge (like every moron who tries a third option when I use “the sky is blue” as an example). Lately I though of a new one, though it could stand to be more pithy: “atheism is a religion the same way having no fish on my bumper is a decoration.”

  9. 9
    hellboundsmoker

    People have fish on their bumpers these days? I’ve just got a bumper-sticker that says “Doing my part to piss off the religious right.”Oddly enough, I’ve never had any complaints… not even the times I’ve parked (deliberately!) outside a Church.

  10. 10
    Earl

    The thing to take from the “atheism is just a religion” meme is that this means that atheism should be protected under the “free exercise of religion” clause of the 1st amendment to the US Constitution. That sounds like a win to me.

  11. 11
    -C

    Isn’t it already covered under freedom of expression?

  12. 12
    Earl

    Think of it as multilayer protection, like Kevlar.

  13. 13
    Froggie

    Here is a news article I had saved that I have seen used as “proof” that atheism is a religion.”Radical atheists and secularists likely won’t applaud this ruling, favoring some religious discrimination over none at all. They’ll argue for a ban on scholarships to students at any institution with any religious affiliation at all.That can’t be achieved lawfully, however, because “religion” has a fuzzy definition. A federal court, in an effort to help atheists, ruled in 2005 that atheism is a form of religion that deserves the same protections as beliefs more commonly recognized as religion (Kaufman v. McCaughtry). The Supreme Court of the United States has treated secular humanism as a religion, granting the Fellowship of Humanity religious tax exemption because it’s philosophy is analogous to religion (Torcaso v. Watkins). Religion at its root is belief, which means it has everything in common with atheism and secular humanism. No theological position – “there is a god,” “there isn’t a god,” or “it doesn’t matter” – serves as common ground upon which the state can reside in order to avoid establishment and prohibition of free exercise. The only way to maintain religious freedom – avoiding de facto establishment, while providing equal protection and protecting free exercise – is to allow religious chaos.”http://www.gazette.com/opinion/breaking_38600___article.html/opposes_court.html

  14. 14
    Cafeeine Addicted

    One point I tried to make once, with a more intelligent theist, was that atheism is as much a religion as theism is. Theism is a belief in a supernatural higher power, that applies to several religions such as Christianity, Islam etc. but is not itself a religion. Atheism can be a component of a religion (Jains, wiccans etc) but is similarly not a religion. More than anything else its a category error.The problem that I find with this is that the ‘atheism’ tag is mostly used by a more or less cohesive group of people that differentiate themselves from jains and wiccans etc. Maybe Thunderf00t’s recent offer to call ourselves PEARLists has some merit.

  15. 15
    Reynold

    You should probably let Debunking Dan, the Dingleberry in on your joke…I am posting this to eradicate any confusion that “Not collecting Stamps” must indeed be a hobby since I just found out that atheists are instructing to be effective Evangelists.Presented, of course, by the dingle berries over at Atheist Experience that has always denied that atheism is a religion. Yea, riiight.Well, I tried to set him straight, we’ll see…

  16. 16
    Jeremy

    The only thing that really gets me about this claim is that, in my experience, it is almost always a build up to the “atheism leads to bad things… look at what Hitler/ Stalin/ etc… did” claim.

  17. 17
    Tommykey

    Lately I though of a new one, though it could stand to be more pithy: “atheism is a religion the same way having no fish on my bumper is a decoration.”Tom, I came up with one. Atheism is a religion like abstinence is a sexual position.

  18. 18
    Froggie

    Cafeeine Addicted said… One point I tried to make once, with a more intelligent theist, was that atheism is as much a religion as theism is. ——————–So, you were arguing that atheism is a “religion?”

  19. 19
    Cafeeine Addicted

    *sigh*Theism is not a religion,although it characterizes some religions. So does atheism (see above examples). That was my point. its a category error.

  20. 20
    Cafeeine Addicted

    Interestingly enough, I seem to be currently discussing with the above Dan from “Debunking atheists” on an unrelated YT thread. Completely unplanned.

  21. 21
    Ai Deng

    This claim that atheism is a religion is a diversionary tactic to put theists on the offensive. It intents to correlate between atheism and dogmatic belief, which they hope leads to the atheists realization of self-contradiction. Theists make this claim by twisting the meaning of words. But in the context of their definition, suddenly everybody is religious, suddenly all it takes to be religious is to have a singular belief, or lack one. Forget any surveys you may have read, where however many such individuals identified themselves as non-religious, they were obviously all liars, or just didn’t understand the true definition of the word.Regardless, this theistic outlying definition is born out of convenience only, it is their’s, not mine, and not the commonly accepted one. The commonly accepted one typically identifies with a deity or deities, a set of beliefs, attitudes and practices. While what makes someone an atheist…just no belief in god(s). Does this singular decision alone make an individual religious? Let me get this straight, I don’t believe in a god, therefore I am religious??? How oxymoronic!!! On the same token, does being a theist necessarily preclude that an individual is religious, not at all. Its about what an individual does in light of that belief.

  22. 22
    Jason

    Microsoft has an entire department dedicated to Developer Evangelism. Does that mean Microsoft is a religion?

  23. 23
    Ai Deng

    Cafeeine Addicted,Agree with your above comments. Its like person A walks up to person B and asks, ‘What religion are you?’.Person B responds ‘theist’.Person A responds, ‘No, I didn’t ask if you believed in god. I asked what set of beliefs you identify with?’

  24. 24
    Cafeeine Addicted

    That’s exactly it.Of course, when the shoe is on the other foot, and you are asked “what religion are you?” and you reply “I’m an atheist” that’s just as nonsensical, if you ignore the convention that ‘atheist’ is an identifier for a smaller group within the actual whole atheist set.The issue here is that by this definition you can’t make any other claims about atheists, such as love of science, the tendency to look for proper evidence to evaluate claims etc. as these are not necessary to be an atheist (see Raelians). This, as a consequent, makes it difficult when we claim that we as ‘atheists’ want somethingThe best description for the position I hold seems to be antidogmatist, which is still a negative position.

  25. 25
    ls

    I hear the charge from time to time that atheism “requires just as much faith as religion/belief in god/etc.I have always wanted to ask “what do you mean by that exactly?” to that charge as well.It’s the same muddling of definitions Russell refers to concerning religion – what the religious critter means by “faith” is similarly confused typically. Usually it’s not clear that faith is an acceptance as true of something held in the mind _but not verified or manifest in any way by evidence_. The Faithful tend to lump that in with something like trust which is a reliance on something that _is_ in evidence.So naturally they think anyone who says they think, trust, accept and even believe, is assigning the same meaning to the term as they are.So when I hear that charge leveled I like to ask what is meant, so I can determine if they’re projecting their notion of faith onto my notion of truth/trust etc. That’s usually whats at the root of it.LS

  26. 26
    Tom Foss

    Tommy: Tom, I came up with one. Atheism is a religion like abstinence is a sexual position.That’s great. I’m totally using that.Caffeine Addicted: One point I tried to make once, with a more intelligent theist, was that atheism is as much a religion as theism is.This is a great point, and one I’ve used before occasionally (though as you mention, generally with a higher intellectual caliber of believer). The “it takes as much faith” relies on the only options being theism and strong atheism–”I believe there is a God” or “I believe there is no God”–both positive positions. What they miss is that this suggests that either everyone has faith in every proposition, positive or negative (it takes as much faith to disbelieve in unicorns as to believe in them), or that the only position which requires no faith is some middle ground between–I neither believe there is a god nor believe there is no god. The point to make, quite simply, is that that position is still atheism.

  27. 27
    MrFreeThinker

    Atheism isn’t a religion but the kind of atheistic naturalism Dawkins and Hitchen and people here are promoting is a kind of worldview.And people can be dogmatic and evangelistic in their respective worldviews.Off topic but the most annoying meme I have ever encountered is the “I just reject one more God than you meme”. It is annoying and made of fail

  28. 28
    Martin

    MrFreeThinker: While I’m sure the meme you refer to is one that annoys you, I’d be interested to hear you defend the position that it’s made of fail. What it points out to Christians is that there have been thousands of religions all through history, worshiping thousands of gods, none of which either the Christian or the atheist believe in. The difference at this point is that the atheist goes one god farther, and rejects belief in the Christian God as well. The idea then is to get the Christian to do a little inner work, and actually think about why their God is any more worthy of belief than the thousands of other gods they’ve rejected. If they only come up with something like, “Well the Bible says…” then it’s pretty straightforward that they do not have a rational basis for their belief. So, sounds like that’s a meme made of hot, buttered win to me. Perhaps, if you were to be honest, you’d admit that’s why you find it so annoying.Also, don’t mistake conviction for dogmatism. It’s possible to be dogmatic about anything, but Dawkins, for one, is not. Just because you’re willing and able to defend your opinions passionately (and well enough that those who disagree with you have trouble refuting you) doesn’t mean you’re dogmatic.

  29. 29
    MrFreeThinker

    One can just as easilly reverse engineer the argument. For example,There have been thousands of worldviews throughout history.Thales believed everything was made of Water. Anaximenes believed everything was made of Air.Heraclitus believed everything was made of fire.I reject the atheistic naturalist/materialist worldview that everything is made out of matter.I just reject one more worldview than you do.Oftentimes people do not realize the weaknesses of their arguments until they are turned against them.

  30. 30
    Cafeeine Addicted

    While I understand the rationale behind the ‘one less god’ meme, I was also one who found it ineffective as an argument.The reasons being are two: there is a fundamental difference between thinking an overarching intelligence guides the world and that none does. The theist worldview has a lot more in common with that of other theists than with an atheist, even if both reject 99.99% of the same gods.Secondly, the theist will often have rationalizations within their worldview that explain away other religions. the phrase “when you understand why you reject all other religions, you will understand why I reject yours?” falls flat when the person thinks opposing religions are the work of the devil, or your inner body thetans, or your personal desire to sin.I don’t think the argument is ‘full of fail’ though. I usually present it in a different fashion, whenever I reach the ‘you gotta have faith’ wall, to point out that faith sustains thousands of religions, they can’t all be right, but they can all be wrong. I ask them how would they discern the real one from a non-believer’s POV which usually leads to some really bad arguments, following by retreat among cries of “I’ll be praying for you”.

  31. 31
    MrFreeThinker

    Let me point out that Christians disproved the existence of Thor a while ago too.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thor%27s_Oak

  32. 32
    Kazim

    You linked a story about a Christian missionary who impressed some locals by doing something to piss off Thor. When he didn’t get struck by lightning, they all stopped believing in Thor and converted.Obviously this in no way proves that Thor doesn’t exist. Had the roles been reversed, with the Thor-believers taunting the Christian God, nothing would have happened either. See, I’ll prove it. Your god is a limp wristed, latte drinking, Volvo driving homosexual.Huh. No lightning. Fancy that.Does that prove there is no Christian God? Of course not. I imagine you’re already scrambling to explain the lack of fireworks, with “My god is mysterious” and “He is too awesome to respond to taunts” or perhaps “God is not tested.”Perfect. So this still leaves open the possibility that Thor exists.

  33. 33
    Tommykey

    Kazim, just for the sake of humor, you should have ended it abruptly:See, I’ll prove it. Your god is a limp wristed, latte drinking, Volvo driving homosexual.Huh. No lightning. Fa

  34. 34
    Tommykey

    Back to the prior point though, that used to be a common tactic of Christian missionaries in the early Middle Ages. They would forcibly destroy sacred groves and other pagan holy places just to prove to the pagans that the gods they worshipped weren’t real. Of course, today, if you tell them “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas” they blow a gasket and cry oppression, but destroying pagan holy places, that’s okay.

  35. 35
    Martin

    One can just as easilly reverse engineer the argument. For example,There have been thousands of worldviews throughout history.Thales believed everything was made of Water.Anaximenes believed everything was made of Air.Heraclitus believed everything was made of fire.I reject the atheistic naturalist/materialist worldview that everything is made out of matter.Except for the niggling little detail that the existence of matter is not a belief produced by an “atheistic naturalist/materialist worldview,” but a fact supported by, oh, the entire science of physics.It’s really no use trying to compare what people believed about the universe prior to the advent of the scientific method used today. You might as well try to “reverse engineer” the argument by saying, “Ancient people believed illness was caused by evil spirits. I reject the atheistic naturalist/materialist worldview that illness is caused by bacterial or viral infection, or for genetic reasons.” And you’d sound just as silly. There’s nothing innately dumb about rejecting unfounded beliefs, such as those pertaining to gods or other sundry invisible magic beings in the sky. Rejecting established facts…well, yeah, that’s mighty dumb. But Christians do love that word “worldview,” don’t you? It’s the all-purpose catchphrase of apologetic post-modernism. Whenever atheists bring up pesky talking points like “evidence” or “proof,” just call everything a “worldview,” and presto, there are no such things as facts any more! Everything becomes a “worldview”-based belief, and truth gets decided by popularity.Oftentimes people do not realize the weaknesses of their arguments until they are turned against them.And if you ever manage to do that successfully, I’ll be the first to let you know.I would, in the interim, be tremendously amused to hear what you do think the universe is made of, if not matter. Oh, and show your work.

  36. 36
    Tom Foss

    CaffeineAddicted: the phrase “when you understand why you reject all other religions, you will understand why I reject yours?” falls flat when the person thinks opposing religions are the work of the devil, or your inner body thetans, or your personal desire to sin.Which is why, I think, it’s good to use the exact quote: “I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours.”The key words here are “possible gods” and “understand,” I think. It’s not just “why do you reject Zeus,” but “why do you reject all the other gods but your particular Jehovah, including all the ones that no one’s ever thought of worshipping yet?” The ones who’ve never been made up can’t be the creations of Satan; they aren’t the creations of anyone–they don’t exist.And that’s where the “understand” part comes in, I think. If a theist thinks that Zeus, Thor, etc. were all fabricated by the Devil, while they may disagree with atheists on the source, the conclusion is the same: the other gods are fabrications. They don’t exist. On the other hand, if they believe in other gods, but believe they’re all false gods (a sort of henotheism, I suppose), then it kind of falls apart.MrFreeThinker: I just reject one more worldview than you do.No you don’t. Are you completely without worldview? I don’t know how such a thing would even be possible. Clearly you have a worldview that there is something other or more than matter (and presumably that “something” isn’t energy or space or emergent property). So you don’t reject “one more worldview,” you reject “one different worldview.” Of course, your use of a vague, undefined weasel-word like “worldview” really lays bare the weakness in your position. The “one fewer god” argument is not an all-encompassing defense of philosophical materialism, nor is it meant to be. It’s a pithy consciousness-raising point about atheism which is (everyone sing along) only the lack of belief in gods. There are many atheists who are not philosophical materialists, and while I don’t know if there are philosophical materialists who who are theists, it’s not entirely impossible to imagine such a thing (people who believe in a god like Dr. Manhattan, for instance).

  37. 37
    Cafeeine Addicted

    “And that’s where the “understand” part comes in, I think. If a theist thinks that Zeus, Thor, etc. were all fabricated by the Devil, while they may disagree with atheists on the source, the conclusion is the same: the other gods are fabrications. They don’t exist.”That’s the point where the analogy breaks down. The Xian may very well accept that “Zeus copulated with an ancient greek woman in the form of a (ahem!) golden shower, but that the whole event was orchestrated by Ole Scratch. the theist doesn’t necessarily disbelieve in other gods, he just incorporates them in his own worldview. Islam and Mormonism are good examples of this, in that they both incorporate a large chunk of other theists in their worldview as ‘misguided’ or falled from the true path. The God of Abrahamof the Jews existed yes, Jesus existed and was intouch with the divine supposedly, but their followers missed the latest newsletter and are lagging behind.As for all possible gods, most theists will not dwell on it. A non-existent possible god is inconsequential, while any new one, is just Satan up to his old tricks…

  38. 38
    cipher

    There are many atheists who are not philosophical materialists, and while I don’t know if there are philosophical materialists who who are theists, it’s not entirely impossible to imagine such a thing (people who believe in a god like Dr. Manhattan, for instance).I think the Mormons may qualify, or come close. My understanding is that their conceptualization of God and the afterlife is pretty corporeal. I think they think that God is material in nature; he’s just in another dimension, or is temporarily hiding from us, or something along those lines.A few years ago, I heard a Mormon theologian speak at Harvard Divinity School. It was… bizarre.

  39. 39
    cipher

    The reasons being are two: there is a fundamental difference between thinking an overarching intelligence guides the world and that none does. The theist worldview has a lot more in common with that of other theists than with an atheist, even if both reject 99.99% of the same gods.By the same token, fundies often claim they have more in common with fundamentalists from other religions than they do with liberal Christians. It’s more a matter of conceptual ability than a position that’s been arrived at rationally. I’m convinced a lot of it has a neurological basis.This is why I keep saying there’s no point in arguing with them. Reason doesn’t work.

  40. 40
    Tom Foss

    Caffeine Addicted: the theist doesn’t necessarily disbelieve in other gods, he just incorporates them in his own worldview.And in this case, I agree that the phrase would be ineffective. But I have yet to meet any kind of orthodox Christian who would say that the gods of other religions did exist, but were just made by Satan, in league with Satan, or something along those lines. As I said, that makes them henotheists, not monotheists, and I imagine that would represent a minority of Christians. Most of the Christians I’ve argued with believe that the gods of ancient religions are just myths, and the gods of other modern religions don’t exist, which is pretty close to the skeptical position–they just believe it based more on the First Commandment than reason and evidence. If they were consistent, though, I think more Christians would hold your proposed position, though. There are enough places in the Old Testament that suggest other gods exist that you have to do some amazing mental gymnastics to reinterpret them. Which is, of course, no problem for most theists.

  41. 41
    MrFreeThinker

    I think you guys missed the point of my “worldview” analogy. The point is that nobody cares about these ideas that have long been abandoned.My ideas on the other religions is that people are sinful and so they invent other religions and Gods (some people even deny God altogether) because they do not want to be held accountable to the one true God.As ot the founders I think some (like Mohammed) had genuine experiences but were deceived by Satan. Perhaps Joseph Smith too was deceived.

  42. 42
    cipher

    My ideas on the other religions is that people are sinful and so they invent other religions and Gods (some people even deny God altogether) because they do not want to be held accountable to the one true God.Yes, that’s right. That’s precisely what happened. The founders of these other religions realized God exists, but taught their followers to pretend he doesn’t, so they could delude themselves into thinking they wouldn’t be judged.Do you and the other jokers over at that cracker factory you call a blog every think before you speak, or do you just open your mouths and say any damn fool thing that comes into your heads?

  43. 43
    Cafeeine Addicted

    My ideas on the other religions is that people are sinful and so they invent other religions and Gods (some people even deny God altogether) because they do not want to be held accountable to the one true God.As ot the founders I think some (like Mohammed) had genuine experiences but were deceived by Satan. Perhaps Joseph Smith too was deceived.Thank you for confirming my above analysis.

  44. 44
    Tom Foss

    MrFreeThinker: I think you guys missed the point of my “worldview” analogy. The point is that nobody cares about these ideas that have long been abandoned.Um…how is that the point of “I just reject one more worldview”? Since you don’t reject one more worldview, just a different worldview, your rebuttal doesn’t hold up.As far as nobody caring about ideas that have long been abandoned, then you still have to deal with all the active religions, with all their active gods and goddesses and other assorted deities. But then again, I have a hard time believing that anything is ever really abandoned. My ideas on the other religions is that people are sinful and so they invent other religions and Gods (some people even deny God altogether) because they do not want to be held accountable to the one true God.Right, every other religion is a human invention, just like you say. Now, take off your special pleading blinders and see what that might suggest about your own religion.As ot the founders I think some (like Mohammed) had genuine experiences but were deceived by Satan. Perhaps Joseph Smith too was deceived.Yes, perhaps Mohammed was deceived, and perhaps Joseph Smith, and perhaps L. Ron Hubbard, and perhaps Marshall Applewhite, and perhaps David Koresh, and perhaps Buddha, and perhaps Saul of Tarsus, and perhaps whoever came up with the idea that there must be a supernatural source of deception.Caffeine Addicted: Thank you for confirming my above analysis.If I’m reading your above analysis correctly, then he’s not confirming it. You seemed to suggest that the Christian would believe the other gods existed, that the events discussed in the mythologies actually occurred, but that Satan was behind it all. MFT is saying that the other gods and religions are human inventions, possibly inspired by Satan, but not that the gods of those religions actually exist or the stories behind them are actually true. If I’ve misread the implications of your earlier posts, though, feel free to correct me.

  45. 45
    Cafeeine Addicted

    My argument was centered around the ‘who’ more than the ‘how’. Whether other gods were actually manifested as entities, or stories disseminated among the people is a moot point for the believer if he thinks it was all derived from Satan. They can bypass the intricacies of how this occurred by holding through a faith-based position that they know why it occurred.It is not too dissimilar to how they view the natural world. They don’t understand how it works, but they think they know its ulterior purpose. The way it works then becomes unimportant, as it is a lesser quantity than the ultimate purpose giver, with whom contact becomes a priority. After all, after God, “we” are the pinnacle of creation, so everything else is of lesser importance.These are of course my own conclusions from my own interactions with theists.

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