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Jun 11 2010

A Christian’s Life Is Worthless?

We received a letter recently from a viewer who wanted to know how to talk to a Christian friend of his.

“She’s a moderate Catholic, and I’m an atheist. A few days ago, we were talking about religion, which we had done many times before, and I was explaining my reasoning for not believing in God, or an afterlife. I explained that I’m happy we only have one life to live. I make the most of life because of this. She said if it was proved tomorrow that I’m right, and there’s no God, no afterlife, and that death is the end of everything, she would kill herself.”

His actual question, however, was this:

“I didn’t know what to say, except ‘that’s insane’. I want to offer her a better response, and maybe enlighten her. What would you recommend I say?”

Well, I’m tempted to say “that’s insane” about covers it, but I understand what he’s asking.

My personal thought is “It’s sad religion has messed this girl’s values up so horribly that she believes her life isn’t worth anything at all on its own.” To her, living is a horror worse than death. How non-life-affirming.

The obvious question is, “If you don’t value this life, except in the context of a prelude to an afterlife—why not kill yourself now and move to the next level?”

But as we know, she can’t, because she’s Catholic, and suicide is, therefore, taboo. This means she’ll have to suffer through this cesspool of horrors she despises so much she’d rather die—until she dies naturally.

Wow. And some Christians wonder why not everyone subscribes to their ideology?

This ranks right up there with theists who call the program or write to us to say, “Sure, I’d rape my own daughter if god said I should.”

Seriously, what else can a sane atheist say to the statement: “I’d rather die than have to change my ideology if, in fact, you can demonstrate to me it’s wrong?”

This is your brain on religion.

81 comments

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  1. 1
    BeamStalk

    Wow, I would think suddenly realizing this is the one shot you get makes life that much important. One of the first things I did when losing my faith was take a trip to England. I try to travel and see as much as I can now, because I know this is my one shot.Christians, like this girl, seem to have to exaggerate just to justify their own belief. I honestly doubt she would kill herself.

  2. 2
    R. Daneel Olivaw

    Why would somebody do that? Why would somebody end his life after realizing it's the only one he's got? That's like throwing away your ice cream because someone tells you that's the last one left in the world. Is like killing a Panda because it the last specimen of its kind. Learning that something sui generis makes it more valuable and cherishable, not more disposable.

  3. 3
    tracieh

    Beam:I tend to agree with you. But I don't think it's exaggeration. It's indoctrination. She's been told so long and so hard that god is the only possible purpose in life, that I do believe she is incapable of considering there may be other modes of purpose and meaning in life. HOWEVER, until she steps over the bridge and looks back, she can't understand that. She probably is sincere in her believe her life would be meaningless, because she's been stunted in her capacity to create meaning. But yes, one would hope that if she found there was no god, she'd start a journey of personal growth and not actually off herself. Agreed.R. Daneel:I couldn't agree more. It's ridiculous logic.

  4. 4
    BeamStalk

    Tracie, hyperbolise would probably been a better word to use there, but yes it all comes down to indoctrination. The whole without God I am nothing bullshit.(my spell check dictionary has bullshit in it but not hyperbolise?)

  5. 5
    tracieh

    >The whole without God I am nothing bullshit.One of my first comics…http://www.atheist-community.org/atheisteve/?id=1While the strip is a joke. I do believe the underlying message is buried in there somewhere. If I am nothing without god, then I am god. It wasn't just a play on math. People often speak metaphorically without realizing it. When they literalize it, they sometimes say more than they mean to…?

  6. 6
    Adrael

    As pathetic as it is, it doesn't surprise me anymore, I've gotten used to this kind of sick thinking. I think I got desensitised to this level of delusion a couple of months ago when I spent 15 minutes reading the #withoutgod feed on Twitter. I wanted to scream but I felt needed to keep my mouth closed to prevent myself from projectile vomiting.It was truly disturbing: "#WITHOUTGOD I AM NOTHING!!!" "#withoutgod there's no reason to live" "I would be lost #withoutgod" "#withoutGod I couldn't go on"… well, you get the point. No wonder close-mindedness is so rampant, they've made their entire life's worth(and even the universe's worth) dependent on magic being real.Destroy an individual's self-worth and replace it with the myth you're peddling so they'll never leave it… nice scam they got there. This is why I laugh every time someone tries to pass off religion's survival as evolutionary proof that it's good. After all, if it's managed to survive, it must be beneficial. Right, so have all sorts of disease-causing microorganisms and other awful traits(you think a bird who got "cuckooed" benefited much from that particular surviving feature?).Parasites evolve too. Religion's a parasite and hopefully we won't be its willing hosts for long. Aaaaand I just noticed I'm ranting at nobody xD Oh well, it's nice to practise my English every now and then. By the way, nice avatar, Ms. Harris, it's like a less-cartoony version of Atheist Eve, I wonder how a strip would look like in that style? *hint. hint* :D

  7. 7
    BeamStalk

    That is one of my favorite comics of yours. I use the math of it whenever I can. :)

  8. 8
    Rohkna

    He should ask her if she would like him to kill her out of mercy so she can go to heaven without delay. Obviously he shouldn't actually kill her, but if she isn't willing to entertain the hypothetical, she is clearly attached to this life or at the very least rationalizing her desire to continue living in the face of eternal bliss.She may believe she would kill herself, but I'm inclined to believe that her religious indoctrination is merely co-opting her innate desire to live by attaching itself to her desire to live thus causing contemplation of a lack of belief to trigger her sense of self-preservation.

  9. 9
    Rohkna

    I've just come to realize that her comment actually reveals that she views living as a priority above religion because she in essence says her religious beliefs are dependent on her desire to live, that is to say that if she did not want to live, she would not have (apart from the whole fire and brimstone thing) any reason to believe. I think that if he were to show her this curious Freudian slip it might help her understand the sickening grasp religion has on her. Perhaps not, but it is an interesting comment.

  10. 10
    Afterthought_btw

    I always wonder (when theists say that kind of nonsense) how they think that the person they are talking to gets through each day. Why do they think the atheist they are talking to doesn't kill themselves?The very fact they are talking to an atheist seems to disprove the assumption.

  11. 11
    tracieh

    Adrael:Not "at nobody." I read your rant, and loved it. You nailed it.Unfortunately my avatar is the product of software generation. Believe it or not I was a studio art major for not a little while. But Eve doesn't inspire me to any artistic quality–for whatever reason, I don't seem to care at all what it looks like. But you're not the only person to suggest an upgrade to the art. Probably not forthcoming, though.

  12. 12
    Guillaume

    Tracie, this is so familiar to me. I have heard this kind of crap (excuse my French) during all my childhood and a fair deal of my teenage years, I even said things like this myself. Indoctrination is putting it mildly, I'd say it is mental suicide. I was thinking the same thing younger and I didn't even come from a religious family! But Catholicism was THE dominating ideology in our school system, as I mentioned before on this blog (hope I am not boring anyone). I remember a very Catholic fellow student back when I was 16 saying that he couldn't wait to die, as he would see Jesus and be in bliss in Heaven (now back then I had started knowing that it was absurd). One of our great poets (Felix Leclerc) made this analogy: when stuck in glue, a fly will end up thinking that it is lucky being in there, laughing at the other ones flying free, as their lives were uncertain and dangerous, while its own was stable, secure, unchanged. Leclerc said that this is how he was as a Catholic child: a fly stuck in glue, happy of his situation. Pretty acurate I think.On another note Tracie, are you okay? Your posts have been very short recently.

  13. 13
    Adrael

    @tracieh: Aww, no, no, no, now I feel awful. That was NOT supposed to mean "when are you gonna upgrade the comic's art already?." I really like how Eve looks, "cartoony" wasn't an insult. I just saw the image and got the idea of a strip in that style. Like a special one-shot.I certainly wasn't saying that you should change it. It was merely one of those "what if/who would win in a fight" moments. Sorry for coming across like a jerk. u_u

  14. 14
    Murphy

    Kindof reminds me of when that collage student committed suicide in the US a few years back and the father tried to blame it on his biology professor challenging him to read 'The God Delusion”.My first thought was “it wasn't the god delusion that did this. It was the fact that his brain had been so poisoned by religion that when he finally had to face reality on realities terms, he was completely incapable of dealing with it. The god delusion didn't cause it. A lifetime of irrational christian indoctrination did”

  15. 15
    ChaosSong

    What I would say to this person is something along the following:"I don't think you really mean that, let me ask some questions about where exactly you are drawing the line."What if it were proven to you that a God does exist but it's not the God you expected?For example, it could be Allah, very upset with you for immodesty and alcohol, or it could be Lord Vishnu saying that you could have achieved Nirvana with Tantric sex, or maybe a Deist version of God who is indifferent to your immortal soul as he's busy with some other project. Is life still worth living?I think some of the things that make life worthwhile are aesthetic beauty, intellectual and physical challenges, and that sort of thing – do you not agree that these things are worth living for?I can see the conversation going two ways. The theist will either try to argue that these things that you enjoy all come from God and you end up talking about where things come from, or they will talk about feelings they get or maybe events in their lives that they attribute to God and you can talk about confirmation bias.

  16. 16
    Ryan

    She may be less moderate than you make it seem. I had a similar discussion with a coworker who said to me "Just because you go to church, doesn't mean you're right" as in right with your faith. Which is an obvious statement when we see all the scandals with priests, etc. Anyways this is coming from someone who sees faith as important. But she also realizes that even though Atheists don't believe in God that we don't all act like heathens and can actually be nice, God or no God. I think your encounter was with someone who may be closed-minded or kind of sheltered from the rest of the world, which can lead to this kind of ultimate backwards rationalization of hers. However, I guess if you prescribe to the faith you are expected to follow their exact philosophies or else you're out, or not fully accepted into the "afterlife". Giving up your life for god is the ultimate martyrdom, and she is obviously playing that role to get shock value out of a nonbeliever as response to the obvious shock she must have felt after meeting the Antichrist or whatever she thinks of us.

  17. 17
    Βασίλης Περαντζάκης

    It reminds me of a Christian friend of mine who believes all atheists are immoral people (since there is no one judging them).I my self am agnostic. I really don't care if there is a God or not, but generalizations like this… I find extremely prejudice.

  18. 18
    tracieh

    Adrael:Even though I apparently misunderstood, I didn't think it sounded jerky at all. The art is primitive–I totally agree with people who assert that. So, even if it had been critical, it wouldn't have been baseless.Guillaume:Martin is busy, so, I'm trying to not let the blog stagnate. If I see something worthwhile, I'm just tossing it up without much commentary–because I'm attempting to be more active in an effort to do my little part in making up for Martin's inability to handle the blog as normal. Additionally, I have stuff to do of my own, so no time to expound! But I'm fine. And it really is me, not some "who are you and what did you do with Tracie?!"Ryan:Except that we hear this from Christians just about daily. This girl isn't an isolated case. Usually it's stated passively rather than aggressively, but the point is always the same "There's no reason to live without god." The general comment is usually stated as: "Why does an atheist even get out of bed in the morning?" I don't know one atheist who hasn't gotten this at least once from a Christian. And I recall this very thing being taught _commonly_ from the pulpit–that life without god is empty and purposeless. This is what many Christians are taught. They actually are taught to _pity_ people who think their lives have any inherent value. It's a dehumanizing and horrible doctrine.>the obvious shock she must have felt after meeting the Antichrist or whatever she thinks of us.Again, I think she's sincere in so far as having difficulty thinking of how a person can live without god. She's probably never even tried to run that program through her head. I recall once a writer doing an excellent job of describing this: Theists who say "If I were an atheist…" really seem to mean "If I were a theist and lost my theism…" They don't actually release the theist value set from their evaluation of "atheism"–they don't try on the atheist shoes. They just put their own shoes on backwards and say "This feels awful!"Vassilis:>It reminds me of a Christian friend of mine who believes all atheists are immoral people (since there is no one judging them).Yes, I always find it interesting how they discount human beings. If it's only other people we have to be concerned about–why be kind? Oh, I dunno–because maybe it's OK to like other humans? Maybe we're not actually repugnant vermin who don't count for crap?I don't get that, either–except that I used to believe it–so I sorta do. But it's sad to see people mired in the same crap I pulled myself free from. Self-loathing is not "affirmation." And being taught that humans are garbage that deserve hell is a horrible thing to teach children.

  19. 19
    Βασίλης Περαντζάκης

    As I said, I am agnostic. I could of told you what a certain atheist friend of mine says, that all Christians (and any religion followers by the way) are fools. It is the same thing. One persons thoughts and feelings on matters of religion cannot and shouldn't be used to judge everyone of that belief. Don't get me wrong, I don't think you or the person who send the letter are somehow… evil!!! I just think that you or him have a misconception common to all beliefs. I am agnostic because I choose to be. I was raised an orthodox Christian and although I don't adhere to the letter of the Dogma, I find the moral and social teachings of Christanity quite interesting and "humanitarian". The Dogma however is another story. The said Catholic was probably too attached to her God to believe that it was worth a life without him. However the most difficult thing in the world would be to convince her that there is no God!!! So the whole thing becomes kind of a null point… don't you think?

  20. 20
    deZ

    I'm surprised at all the attacks on this Christian. If she says that without God and an afterlife, she may as well kill herself, I find it a noble thing.If God represents goodness and peace, then the absence of God could be evil and corruption. I can see her viewing herself being stripped of her clothes and surrounded by bloodthirsty rapists. At that point, she'd prefer to pull the plug on herself and escape before she becomes tainted.The statement, without good, there's no point to life, isn't that much of a stretch.Alot of people hide behind God and use him as a framework to their lives and entire psyche. Taking God from them would be like pulling the carpet from underneath.I think it's safe to say that people will believe in God for the next 100 years at least, and so why not be respectful to their belief. Why call it bullshit and stupidity? Alot of atheists have been theists at one point.How is it pathetic and sick minded to believe in God? I don't think it's necessary to have a god, but people who believe in God and don't believe in God often act identically. Isn't equality a more reasonable pursuit than insulting theists and declaring their philosophy nonsense?

  21. 21
    Ithonicfury

    Obviously they don't feel life by itself is worthless, if they did then just slapping God on top of it and saying "problem solved" doesn't really work. But they may at least think life is sub-optimal.That kind of thinking probably doesn't screw up too many people because deep down (or pretty much just scratching the surface) they think life is good and is worth living. Until you get someone who's a little bit broken, then it can really fuck them up.Speaking just from my experience, if you think life is worthless and you believe in God, then you may think that life is in itself a punishment that God is forcing on you, probably because he hates you (and that is of course backed up by all the crap that they teach you in church). If God hates you, you must have done something to deserve it, since everyone else keeps saying how much god loves them. If you did something to make God hate you then after you die he's just gonna throw you in hell. So, now not only does this life have no meaning, but your after life definitely doesn't either. Just 1 long unbroken stretch of torture.Those kinds of thoughts and feelings can wear you down pretty fast, and their kinda self-fulfilling, so now you really do have no reason to live, and nothing to look forward to when you die, and you deserve it. Who knows what it would have been like if I hadn't had to go through the church shit, probably still be fucked up, but those feelings definitely never go away, and they certainly couldn't have helped.I believe Matt called Earth the "giant inefficient soul filtering machine", and God could just as easily only create good souls, no need for earth to weed them out, and no need for a hell to throw the ones that aren't. So what worth does God bring to the whole earthly life?

  22. 22
    tracieh

    Vassilis>As I said, I am agnostic. I could of told you what a certain atheist friend of mine says, that all Christians (and any religion followers by the way) are fools. It is the same thing.To claim that I owe it to no human being to be a decent person to other people is not at all on the same level as calling someone dumb.>I just think that you or him have a misconception common to all beliefs. Not a misconception if believers routinely repeat this idea–which they do.>I am agnostic because I choose to be.Then you are a unique individual. Most people claim to not know things because, in fact, they don't know them.>I find the moral and social teachings of Christanity quite interesting and "humanitarian".Not as they are outlined in the Bible. The inherent depravity of humanity is the reason for the Resurrection, which is the foundation of modern Christian belief. To teach all humanity deserves condemnation or death, and that killing an innocent to somehow pay that price for the condemned constitutes "love," is not what I consider "humanitarian." In fact, it's the very definition of dehumanizing. And teaching that to a child is damaging.deZ:People aren't attacking the Christian–they're attacking the sad doctrine that resulted in her sick attitude.>If God represents goodness and peaceIt doesn't. That's the problem. Convincing someone that the best attributes of humanity are not attributable to humanity, but rather to some sort of divine fantasy concept we can never deserve is not only a lie, but a self-loathing one.>Alot of people hide behind God and use him as a framework to their lives and entire psyche. Taking God from them would be like pulling the carpet from underneath.Religion pulled the carpet out first, by stripping her of her humanity and giving her in return a dismal substitute for the self-esteem they robbed her of.>and so why not be respectful to their belief.Because it's a dehumanizing lie. We'll have racists around for another 100 years as well, and misogynists. Should I respect those ideas as well, then?>How is it pathetic and sick minded to believe in God?On the face of it, it's merely a lie. It becomes pathetic and sick minded when 9-11 happens or when a church indoctrinates some poor girl to the point she views her life as worthless.Please go back and see my post on Christian hymns. Then tell me how not "sick minded" this belief is.>I don't think it's necessary to have a god, but people who believe in God and don't believe in God often act identically.Except in CA where they voted down gay rights. Or in the mid-east where they marry off and ritually circumcise little girls, or in states where they attack women's rights. Or when they're not blowing up icons of the Great Satan from strong holds in the middle east, stopping sex ed, not getting their kids medical treatment because prayer is enough, or when they're not killing one another in Ireland, passing legislation to execute gays in Uganda, or stoning women to death in Africa. Or teaching children they're worthless. Undermining science and history education in Texas…? Should I go on?>Isn't equality a more reasonable pursuit than insulting theists and declaring their philosophy nonsense?When they stop spouting harmful nonsense, it will end. But for now, I side with open public dialog where anyone can insult any idea–atheist or theist.

  23. 23
    Murphy

    @VassilisI could of told you what a certain atheist friend of mine says, that all Christians (and any religion followers by the way) are fools. [sic] I just think that you or him have a misconception common to all beliefs. I'm with Tracieh on this one. Calling someone a fool for credulously believing ridiculous nonsense they have no evidence for, isn't even in the same ballpark. I find the moral and social teachings of Christanity quite interesting and "humanitarian". OH YEAH. Endorsement of slavery. Killing the infidels. Substitutionary atonement. Stoning disobedient children. Damn boy, get your genocide on! Seriously though, Christianity is one of the most objectionable moral philosophies ever put to paper… No matter how much spin believers try to put on it.I my self am agnostic.As I said, I am agnostic.I am agnostic because I choose to be.So anyways, ignoring for a second your obvious avoidance of the logical dichotomy that regardless of gnosticism/agnosticism, if you aren't a “theist”, you must therefore be an “a-theist” by definition, since you've made such a song and dance about being agnostic in this thread, I have to ask…. are you agnostic about the tooth fairy as well? What about Santa Clause? Unicorns? Fairies? Zeus? Allah? The Easter Bunny? The Flying Spaghetti Monster? Raki healing? Acupuncture? Alchemy? Astrology? Underpants Gnomes? I mean, you can't really know right? Maybe the underpants gnomes really are the reason some of you're apparel seems to go missing in the wash? At what point does claiming an implicit 50/50 fence sitting probability in everything under the guise of agnosticism become just as credulous as actually believing in any one of them?

  24. 24
    Murphy

    @deZIf God represents goodness and peace, then the absence of God could be evil and corruption.[sic] The statement, without good, there's no point to life, isn't that much of a stretch. Not a stretch? Its completely different. Assuming that as a starting point you think there is goodness in the world and you think god exists. If you take god out of the picture by showing he doesn't exist or whatever, the world is still operating exactly as it did before. Everything is the same. The goodness you saw in things before is still there now, its just that you were originally mistaken about its underlying cause.I don't see how you can make that logical jump from “no god” to “no good”. Likewise jumping from “no god” to “no reason to live” is ridiculous. Just because god doesn't exist doesn't mean all the things that made life worth living beforehand like love, pleasure, friendship and choc chip icecream go out the window with god. All those things still exists exactly as they did before, and there is nothing noble what so ever about killing yourself because you were originally mistaken about those things being cause by a magical sky fairy.

  25. 25
    Admin

    Are there any statistics on the number of suicides each year which are triggered by a loss of belief in one's religion? Something tells me that there are not, and for good reason.

  26. 26
    SaintDL

    First Dez, although it seem that way. We aren't really attacking her, but that we are attacking the religion that made her there is nothing worthy in this life if there is no supernatural divine 24/7 omnipresent babysitter with wish granting superpowers.If this life is so worthless, why bother doing good? Why bother doing anything?If there is no reward to what she do in this life she might as well stop living? I can hardly see it this way. The truth is everything we do have an impact on things or people around us. Even without an afterlife, we still know what we want and desire in this life, and we can still do good by people.Since when do god represent goodness? The god of the bible slaughtered over 2 million human beings just because of a difference in belief and he had a good time with a prostitute if i'm not wrong.It is troubling that you can visualize her getting raped by so many people when she is without her belief.Indeed many people hide behind god in their weak psyche. Just as many drug addicts dwell and submit to their desires and the unreal delusions the drugs bring. Do we make them suffer for a short time in rehabilitation(from the withdrawal effects) where they get well afterwards or do we let them sink in whatever delusions they have such that they never outgrow their weaknesses and find strength in themselves.This brings me to a true story of a woman who lost her husband some years ago and began playing The Sims fanatically. She created a character in that game which she treat as if her husband. She was so obsessed with it. She really believed that her husband still lives on in that game. Her world now revolves in that game. She believes that without that game she has no purpose in life. Is it ok to let her continue? Or is it better to get her to a psychologist to treat her?Before you can believe in something you need to verify its truth. It is sad that people of this religion will go out to assert to people that their worldview which was unverified, unproven, unevidenced for 2000 years is the real and only truth in this world. It is people like them who preyed on the children before they were able to think logicaly. It is these people who preyed on the weak minded when they are at their worst.True that alot of atheists have been theists at one point. But why the change? Most can tell you it is because they realised how stupid it is.It is also true that maybe humans will continue to believe in a god for the next 100 years. But is this because our human brains have, thanks to these religious people, never had the opportunity to evolve without the need to believe in something non existent? Or is it because it is good to have such a belief?I think religion in certain aspect allows the weaker bunch of us some safe haven and personal space to fall back on when we need emotional support and where there is none around to give that. But i do not think that this aspect of religion should be fervently preached and advocated, especially in the name of 'this is true and the only truth'.I would think that her view is nonsense. Not viewing it as such would mean telling them that if tomorrow scientists searched every corner of the universe and declare there is no god it is perfectly fine for you bunch to go commit suicide for the last and final affirmation of your beliefs.

  27. 27
    Mark B

    I agree with the posters who have questioned whether she actually meant what she said.I view people who threaten suicide (not those who actually commit suicide) as a type of hostage taker. They are playing on your humanity to shock you into stopping a particular line of inquiry ("stop questioning my faith or I'll kill myself"). Most people would become disturbed by this statement and drop the discussion, which was the intention.

  28. 28
    Murphy

    @Mark BI view people who threaten suicide (not those who actually commit suicide) as a type of hostage taker. They are playing on your humanity to shock you into stopping a particular line of inquiryI completely agree with you mark, and i think that's a really good analogy (which i may have to steal if i find myself in a similar discussion again) However, I don't think whether or not she plans to follow through with her threat in the event of loosing faith, makes what she says right now any less objectionable.In that sense, it's kind of like the believer who's complicit with, and thinks its perfectly ok, to knowingly worship the god they think is going to torture you for the rest of eternity. I mean, sure they think you're perfectly nice and all, but their god can't be wrong so you must deserve it… but hey, Its not them personally. They're not the ones actually passing judgement. Their god is. No blood on their hands right?Basically the same semantic trick in my opinion. If this was her intention, not only does it make her an equally credulous believer as before; it also makes her deceitful and emotionally manipulative in the highest degree.

  29. 29
    Guillaume

    I don't have to add up much to what people have said here as a reply to Dez, but I do still have a thing or two to say. First, one does not even have to mention the Bible advocating slavery, women explotation, the stoning of children and Draconian laws being enforced. Even "modern" believers who would not take the Bible literally defend a faith that is harmful. I come from the same background as this girl, i.e. I once was a non-fondamentalist Catholic. I too thought I needed God to have a good life and to be moral. I know how opressive can be Catholic faith. If the Catholic Church had its way, homosexuals might not be condemned to death, but they would be second class citizens, women would be second class citizens and free thinkers would be stygmatised. I know, I come from a Catholic society. The Church opposes progress, the pursuit of knowledge, education, they favour censorship every step of the way. If the priests are no geocentrist anymore and accept evolutionism, it is because they know they lost the battle big time a while ago, but they certainly don't tell the faithful who are still in the delusion that the Bible is historically acurate.

  30. 30
    Guillaume

    I don't have to add up much to what people have said here as a reply to Dez, but I do still have a thing or two to say. First, one does not even have to mention the Bible advocating slavery, women explotation, the stoning of children and Draconian laws being enforced. Even "modern" believers who would not take the Bible literally defend a faith that is harmful. I come from the same background as this girl, i.e. I once was a non-fondamentalist Catholic. I too thought I needed God to have a good life and to be moral. I know how opressive can be Catholic faith. If the Catholic Church had its way, homosexuals might not be condemned to death, but they would be second class citizens, women would be second class citizens and free thinkers would be stygmatised. I know, I come from a Catholic society. The Church opposes progress, the pursuit of knowledge, education, they favour censorship every step of the way. If the priests are no geocentrist anymore and accept evolutionism, it is because they know they lost the battle big time a while ago, but they certainly don't tell the faithful who are still in the delusion that the Bible is historically acurate.

  31. 31
    felix

    I think people who claim they would slip into nihilism are, with very rare exceptions, not honest. They simply regurgitate what they've been taught to believe about disbelief, but they have never dared to experience the unshackled freedom of thought and the grandeur of existence – including an unobscured view of its downsides – that makes a rationalist 'tick'.They obviously, most of them, know how to cope with problems and obstacles in the real world, using the tools of the real world. But they habitually add in a seasoning of mysticism, prayer, and other obscurantism. When the problem is solved, they thank the fairies instead of reckognizing that it was only their intellect, their own compassion, their own effort that did it, without the slightest help from any fantastic dimensions where resurrected ancients dwell.

  32. 32
    Libbie H.

    That's awfully sad. I wonder if she was making a statement about the strength of her belief in (or desperate hope for) an afterlife, rather than stating that she thinks life itself is so unbearable that she can't wait to die.I mean, maybe her point was "If there's no God, I don't want to face that prospect" rather than "Life is horrible and I'd rather die than live."Either way, it's a depressing stance, and yes, that is your brain on religion. I'm so glad I got over that. I'm immeasurably happier as an atheist than I ever was as a theist.

  33. 33
    Afterthought_btw

    Mark B – whilst to a point I agree with you, I think you have to be very careful of generalisation there.Whilst you are very likely right in this situation, depending on how you mean 'threatening suicide' you may be including genuine pleas for help.You might justifiably say that often when people mention this kind of thing, the way they say the words is just as important as the words they are saying, but that's not always the case.Speaking as someone who has had difficulty with depression and thoughts of suicide in the past (watch a certain type of theist grab that and say 'see: this is why you turned away from god'), I can tell you that for the longest time the only way I personally was able to make that plea was in jokes about it, because I could not face coming right out and admitting it. I'm pretty certain the people I was talking to didn't see through the jokes tho'.Whilst it wouldn't apply to me, I could understand how people could threaten suicide in a similar way – the emotion they have at the time could be the only way that are able to express it.Sorry for going off on a tangent – I admit, the subject is one I feel very strongly about, for people suffering with depression are often misunderstood.

  34. 34
    tekhiun

    Well, best question you could make to that girl, is "well ,if you don't have an afterlife, why would kill yourself, instead of enjoying all the time you have left to live ?" This is why I think that belief in afterlife diminishes the value of real life.

  35. 35
    rrpostal

    I "choose" to be agnostic about whether that brisket I just ate instead of exercising was a good idea…Darn, that's not working. How 'bout this? I just "don't care" that I ate it so I am agnostic about it….wait, what does agnostic mean again?

  36. 36
    March Hare

    To summarise:"I'd rather be dead than wrong."

  37. 37
    Ing

    "If God represents goodness and peace, then the absence of God could be evil and corruption.[sic] The statement, without good, there's no point to life, isn't that much of a stretch. "Allow me to quote GOD HIMSELF (or at least Morgan Freeman) "They say this world is good and worth fighting for…I agree with the second part"Living in the West off the streets and free from facing hunger, thirst, fear of violence for the most part, and still thinking this world is too unlivable without god? Coward. The world at that point is your oyster, offering you plenty and you spit in its face. There's this one series that I follow that has that exact situation. Life is AWEFUL because God is evil. The characters struggle on because trying to do something, doing anything, is indeed infinity better than giving up. So, no. It's not noble at all. It's cowardice and massive arrogance. If I actually believed that someone thought this 100% I'd be tempted to say "Good, then go do it. If you're not willing to run in life's race than get out of the way for everyone else". I'm also going to defy tracie and actively attack Christianity itself for doing this shit. Its a cowardly insane religion that teaches people to avoid the essesential dread and recognition of mortality, keeping them in a pre-moral infantile state.

  38. 38
    deZ

    Whether God exists or not, he does in her mind from her perspective. The Christian woman has associations tied to God. It doesn't matter whether God is perceived as Good or Evil in the bible or by other people's accounts, as far as this woman goes, she may see God as salvation, complete wisdom, and the harbinger of peace. I believe the death of her god could be the death of her.Racists and misogynists, I would argue, don't get cured by telling them that their ways of thinking are bullshit, but by explaining the flaws of having such ideologies and the benefit of being more accepting and compassionate. Frankly, I think blatant, tactless insults alienate the people who you're trying to connect with and have meaningful discussions with.There have been instances where God has helped people, whether he exists or not. The Alcoholics Anonymous program has kept many people alive and functioning within society. Do you think their belief in God is harmful? Many of them argue that without God they would have died. They may not have had the confidence to reestablish their life without a concept such as God.I do have a question for atheists. Are you willing to let people die so that a secular, more evolved world can exist?

  39. 39
    Guillaume

    "I do have a question for atheists. Are you willing to let people die so that a secular, more evolved world can exist?"Are you implying that atheists are essentially more fanatics, or insensitive to suffering when it comes to promote secularism? Or that belief in God is essentially good regardless? I do believe, and there is evidence for this, that a secular worldview is better for society and individuals than a religious one. It is the pope's intransigence on contraceptives that kill people in Africa, not modern medicine. It is Catholic's obscurantist worldview that has prevented people from my country to progress as a nation, that has turned for generations women into baby-making machines until they died, that has prevented generations of Quebeckers to get a proper education, that has enforced censorship on art, that has opposed progress every time they could. And it is religious faith that has thrown those planes on the towers of the WTC, it is religious faith that imprisons muslim women in black shrouds to hide their oh so suggestively erotic hair! Theists can believe in anything they want, but they will find me to challenge their claims, especially if they want to impose them.And not everyone is ready to kill or die for truth, but that does not make it any less truthful. Galileo refused to be tortured for something he know was the truth, while the Church was ready to kill him for something that was false.

  40. 40
    Mastema

    Whether God exists or not, he does in her mind from her perspective. The Christian woman has associations tied to God. It doesn't matter whether God is perceived as Good or Evil in the bible or by other people's accounts, as far as this woman goes, she may see God as salvation, complete wisdom, and the harbinger of peace. I believe the death of her god could be the death of her.This sounds VERY close to the tripe I often hear, about how most people are not strong enough to live without God/religion. That position is insulting to the average person. Everyone can live without God. They can live a life full of meaning and wonder. They just have not been given the tools to do so.>Racists and misogynists, I would argue, don't get cured by telling them that their ways of thinking are bullshit, but by explaining the flaws of having such ideologies and the benefit of being more accepting and compassionate. Frankly, I think blatant, tactless insults alienate the people who you're trying to connect with and have meaningful discussions with.False. One of the major factors in the downfall of the KKK was the Superman radio show, which helped change people's minds by pointing out their absurdities. Go ahead and do a google search for "Superman KKK". Now, it wasn't JUST Superman that led to the downfall of the KKK, but a wide range of tactics and organizations. Similarly with religion, mockery and ridicule are but one way to get people to change their mind, but it should never be the only way. If you don't believe me, go to commonsenseatheism.com and read Luke Muelhauser's deconversion story. Matt Dillahunty calling God an imaginary friend who grants wishes was one of the major factors in getting him to see his faith from a different perspective.There is still a need for calm, reasoned discussions with people as well. The point is that no one tactic will work. If you're always a dick, people will shut down and not listen. If you're always too nice, they'll patronize you and not pay attention to what you are trying to say, so stop concern trolling.> There have been instances where God has helped people, whether he exists or not. The Alcoholics Anonymous program has kept many people alive and functioning within society. Do you think their belief in God is harmful? Many of them argue that without God they would have died. They may not have had the confidence to reestablish their life without a concept such as God.Programs like AA can benefit some people, but statistics show that they are as effective as people quitting on their own. Different approaches work for different people. I have a problem with AA in that it creates a dependence on those seeking recovery. They don't realize that they have the power to change their lives. AA also makes people more amenable to full on religious conversions, making them more dependent in other areas of their lives.>I do have a question for atheists. Are you willing to let people die so that a secular, more evolved world can exist?I don't even know where to begin with this one. What do you mean "let people die"? I can only imagine you're setting up an absurd false dichotomy, but I'm willing to listen to you explain exactly what you mean.

  41. 41
    Murphy

    @deZWhether God exists or not, he does in her mind from her perspective. The Christian woman has associations tied to God. It doesn't matter whether God is perceived as Good or Evil in the bible or by other people's accounts, as far as this woman goes, she may see God as salvation, complete wisdom, and the harbinger of peace. I believe the death of her god could be the death of her. First of all, this is logically flawed from the very first sentence. God only exists in her mind, from her perspective until she stops believing. After she stops believing, what I said before applies. All the things she felt before her lost of faith, she must therefore have felt without god, she just didn't realise it at the time. All of those things she experienced in life still happened and still exist, she was just mistaken about the cause.I will concede that people aren't always rational though, and its possible that she does believe that the death of god is the death of her, and that would be horribly unfortunate. However, regardless of what she my continue to believe, my point was, there was no way to rationally and logically get from “no god” to “no reason to live” and if this girl spent even 5 minutes thinking about it rationally, she would have to come to the same conclusion. The fact that she might believe the death of god is the death of her doesn't make it a tenable position.Racists and misogynists, I would argue, don't get cured by telling them that their ways of thinking are bullshit, but by explaining the flaws of having such ideologies and the benefit of being more accepting and compassionate. I would argue these are the same thing. You can't just call something bullshit because it is. You have to explain why its bullshit. And frankly I don't know any atheist that does what you're claiming here.Frankly, I think blatant, tactless insults alienate the people who you're trying to connect with and have meaningful discussions with.Look, specific words have specific meanings. The word fool isn't just same empty insult. It isn't the same as calling someone stupid. A fool is someone that might be intelligent, but for whatever reason are not applying those faculties. And I'm sorry, but that perfectly applies to theists (and depending on the situation, a number of atheists I know as well)I'm sorry if you don't like words like this, but tough luck. If someone acts life a fool, that's what they're going to get called. I mean, imagine for a second that a woman has been raped, and the case has gone to trial, but nobody in the court room is allowed to mention the word rape during the trial because implying that someone is a rapist is insulting and alienating… How do you think that trial would go? How far are we supposed to take this political correct nonsense of yours?You remind me of Bazil Faulty dancing about shouting “DON'T MENTION THE WAR!”… Well i'm sorry, but the war fucking happened, and we can't discuss modern history without bringing it up. The same thing applies to religion. If people are being irrational, that's what they will be labelled.Besides, regardless of the meaning behind blatant tackless insults, the very fact that you're on this discussion thread getting long rational logical dialogue responses from us “blatant, tactless insult[ing] alienat[ing] “ atheists, basically nullifies this whole argument of yours. So how about you stop making shit up about us, and actually deal with the facts presented to you.

  42. 42
    Murphy

    @deZ continuedThere have been instances where God has helped people, whether he exists or not. The Alcoholics Anonymous program has kept many people alive and functioning within society. One simple question… Would a secular alcoholics support group be able to do the same job? If the answer is yes, the how the fuck is god (or the belief there in) even relevant to the equation? Give us one case where belief in god is necessary. Give us one case where a religious program gives us some benefit that couldn't also be achieved by secular means.Furthermore, I would actually side with MattD on this one, who's pointed out many times in the past, that AA is actually a very poor motivator, because it shurkes personal responsibility by placing it all on god, rather than the person who's actually trying to get better and has to do the hard work. Only one person can stop you from being alcoholic, and it isn't God. Saying that it is may quite well hinder the healing process.I do have a question for atheists. Are you willing to let people die so that a secular, more evolved world can exist?You come here, crying about how atheists shouldn't insult peoples precious little beliefs, and then you turn around imply that if people loose faith we're all murderers? Ok now I am going to throw out some insultsFuck you deZ, you ignorant deceitful prick. You are becoming a perfect example of why it is almost impossible to have an honest conversation with a theist.As i've already mentioned in my first post on this thread, if someone kills themselves because they lost their faith, that isn't the fault of atheism, but the fault of religion programming them to thinking life is worthless without it. It is the fault of the religion for corrupting their mind to the point where they can no longer adequately deal with reality when presented with facts they don't like. That blood is on religions head, not atheisms.Let me ask you a question. One that's actually grounded in reality. Between children dying because their parents think prayer is more effective than medical science. Parents murdering their children so they can go and be with Jesus. Churches causing countless deaths in Africa through anti condom campaigns. Modern day witch hunts. (and thats just to name a few of the atrocities still happening today, and excluding all the ones that don't actually result in death such as priestly paedophile rings) How many people are you willing to let die before you admit religion is harmful?

  43. 43
    MethodSkeptic

    Are you willing to let people die so that a secular, more evolved world can exist?They used to have a steak dinner challenge on the show if you could show one actual, tangible benefit that is dependent upon the truth of a religion.Thus far, there's really nothing that religion provides that's demonstrably true that can't be had via secular means.

  44. 44
    Ithonicfury

    Except rates for successful recovery for AA are no better then secular alternatives which don't have the side effect of beating them into submission by constantly telling them they are powerless. So in that regard, yes, I'd say AA's belief in god is harmful.As has been said many times on the show, there is NOTHING that belief in god offers that is unavailable to secular means, and in many cases the secular means are better, especially in the long run.

  45. 45
    Ing

    I do have a question for atheists. Are you willing to let people die so that a secular, more evolved world can exist?"a) AA's statistics aren't all that hotb) Excuse me with the accusation? Whose god supposedly has a track record of doing EXACTLY that. Flood, plagues, genocidal wars, and crucifixion human sacrifice? Killing off many for the good of the righteous is right out of gods play book. so screw you. If you people would die without god than what a miserable life you have. Don't blame US because you believe people need lies in order to live. What bullshit. Oh boohoo I'm feeling SO guilty about all the people i'd kill by shattering their delusion of a perfect christian world. OH BOOHOO BOOHOO!!

  46. 46
    Peter Thomas Coll

    My guess, Fellow Thinkers, is that this woman is speaking literal words with a figurative heart. It is like the threat: "If someone ever killed a member of my family, without question, I would kidnap the guilty person and torture him or her to death!" The statement is less a statement of intent than it is a profession of love, or, as in this woman's case, a profession of faith. In either case, the listener, is entreated, to consider the devotion the speaker holds toward his or her loved one (however real or imaginary). Also, I have often professed that I would kill myself if I ever suffered a life altering calamity such as an amputation of a limb or paralyzation from the waist down. But my statement lacks any real credibility because I have no real evidence of how I might act when confronted with a life altering calamity because I have no prior experience with such calamities against which to guage the veracity of my claim. I understand that the will to live, in most animals (with, of course, the obvious exception of the Lemming)is much stronger than one would think. Regardless of the conviction with which I make my threat, I know, deep down, that, like most survivors, I would probably make the adjustments necessary to carry on further for more of life's torture.

  47. 47
    Mark B

    @ Dez:"There have been instances where God has helped people, whether he exists or not."No. If a god does not exist, it can't help anyone. Whatever helped these people was inside their own heads.

  48. 48
    Mark B

    @ Dex:"I do have a question for atheists. Are you willing to let people die so that a secular, more evolved world can exist?"I have a question for you: Seeing that the woman from the original post claimed to be willing to kill herself if god didn't exist; are you willing to let people die because of their belief in god?

  49. 49
    March Hare

    @ Dex:"I do have a question for atheists. Are you willing to let people die so that a secular, more evolved world can exist?"Yes. See the French and American Revolutions. Or the forthcoming Muslim one where tens of millions will die.However, no-one is forcing you to drop your religion. No-one is saying you can't use it as a crutch to get you through hard times. In light of this I am somewhat confused as to your point – secular societies allow all religions and only impinge when the participants are doing something dangerous or damaging.Try going to a Muslim country and see how far your reliance on a Christian god gets you. It is religious countries that ban religious freedom, with the backing of the state, not secular ones.

  50. 50
    BeamStalk

    Ing,Aren't AA's statistics exactly the same as someone trying to quit on their own?

  51. 51
    BeamStalk

    (with, of course, the obvious exception of the Lemming)That was a lie, the documentary that lie came from forced the lemmings off the cliff.

  52. 52
    Afterthought_btw

    "I do have a question for atheists. Are you willing to let people die so that a secular, more evolved world can exist?"No. Good thing I want to get to a secular, more evolved world without letting people die, isn't it?Nothing about the world being more secular means people will die. It's a rather silly question.

  53. 53
    Thomas

    @dezI don't think I have seen anyone express that in your scenario, the Christian is conflating everything good in the world with her one exclusive group, and then conflating everything evil in the world with outsiders.Doesn't this seem a bit prejudiced to you? How about if we change a few words around?==================================If white people represent goodness and peace, then the absence of white people could be evil and corruption. I can see her viewing herself being stripped of her clothes and surrounded by bloodthirsty rapists. At that point, she'd prefer to pull the plug on herself and escape before she becomes tainted (by non-white people).==================================If you hear someone describe their views this way, would you consider it to be noble, or just plain racist?

  54. 54
    Ing

    "Aren't AA's statistics exactly the same as someone trying to quit on their own?"And possibly less by some stats. It's successes are bunk since they consider sobriety a condition of completed the program…so only those who DO quit are counted as completing the program. If the program failed you, by definition you didn't complete the program and aren't counted.So at best it offers false hope

  55. 55
    Guillaume

    Hey, the blog look changed!

  56. 56
    Ing

    "It is religious countries that ban religious freedom, with the backing of the state, not secular ones."Except of course for Castro, Stalin and Mao…

  57. 57
    SaintDL

    @ Dez (1), i am sorry if you did not realise or notice my reply to you but maybe it is just because of the overwhelming responses to you that you simply imssed it.First you got to respond to my question how far can respect to religion go?If this life is worthless to her if her religion is proven false and that god does not exist, would you stand by and watch her commit suicide as the final affirmation of her belief and respect her for that or would you rather instill in her a will to live and help her find a new purpose in life? Because from your first response to this post it would seem that you will very much respect her decision and watch her kill herself and you seem to defend that as a good act.Also how do you know god represents good? If god does not represents good and this woman is trying to kill herself because of years of indoctrination of this religion asserting in this worldview and that god is real, letting the woman kill herself when her god is realised to never have existed is a totally immoral act. How can you even try to defend that?By defending it do you mean that if the belief system is proven false tomorrow, do you thyink it is ok for people of that particular religion to kill themselves?

  58. 58
    SaintDL

    @ Dez (2)Your remark about racist and misogynists and tacless insults, i dont see how they play a part into this discussions but that you are somehow implying that just because we disagree with her, we are somehow taclessly and blatantly insulting her. The closest thing i see can be the source of your response is that question to you along the lines of "what if god is replaced by white supremacy ideology?"How is telling them their ideas is bullshit different from explaining in detail how flawed those beliefs are? Bullshit is a overly simplified generalised answer while explaining in detail is to elaborate in detail how much of a bullshit those ideas are.Moreover we were never really attacking the poor girl for the sake of attacking her. You have to realise that we were sick with the idea that this religion can make people think and feel that there is nothing else in life that is of any worth or value and it is what we are attacking. I would agree with you that some of us do not really form a well structured response to that and it would seem that most of your points stems from that the belief itself is worth defending.No there has not been instances where god helped people. There has been instances where people claim god helped them. For example, a missionary who go to third world countries as aid workers BY CHOICE will respond, when they were thanked by the locals, saying it is not them who helped by god, despite the fact that they are in person over there and it is human hands that did the work and a decision made by him/her(a human being).Other things include people praying for something and got what they want. To that i would quote Sun Tzu "……people ask me… why do people pray to the gods for rain and get rain? To which my reply is that there is no reason, as it is the same where people never prayed for rain and get rain……"and to which i will ask you what about the more plentiful times when a prayer goes unanswered?If you still think praying and getting something is a sign of god helping people, i will tell you what. Pray to my penis for a year. You get the same response. 'yes your prayers are answered', 'nothing yet you got to wait' or 'you got the trust that the holy spirit(in this experiment… my holy penis) knows whats best for you'. If you can acknowledge the previous, so you shalt acknowledge that my penis is holy and godly, and that of course, it grants wishes.'god has helped people whether he exist or not'that is simply hideous. i can talk to you in person, whether i am alive or not. sure that makes sense. in your first response to this, you mentioned you believe there is no need for a god instead of there is no god. does that mean you are an atheist or that you believe there is a god but you are merely trying to sound like you reject the idea of having a god just to appeal to us better to get your arguments through?I am sorry but it seems to me that you are either trying to pass yourself off as an atheist to defend this girl's suicidal tendencies for her religion or god and it is imo dishonest. If you would defend a girl killing herself if it is proven to her that her god does not exist, you would have to defend muslim extremists dying for their god who they believe exist.

  59. 59
    BeamStalk

    And possibly less by some stats. It's successes are bunk since they consider sobriety a condition of completed the program…so only those who DO quit are counted as completing the program. If the program failed you, by definition you didn't complete the program and aren't counted.So at best it offers false hopeSo they cream the numbers, like Chuck Colson and his Prison Ministries, makes sense. When you don't have the stats, cheat!

  60. 60
    Murphy

    @IngExcept of course for Castro, Stalin and Mao… Hmm… I guess I'd have to agree in the strictest sense, but it depends on how you'd classify the cult of personality. Despite the lack of blatant supernaturalism, all three of those communist states mentioned (perhaps with the possible exception of Castro's), were heavily dogmatic, hierarchical, and featured very strange religious like saviour/martyrdom depictions and worship of the leaders. Stalin and Mao are prime examples of personality cult propaganda.

  61. 61
    Ing

    I might also ad that there are medications for beating addictions some of which have good records…pretty much all are discouraged by AA.So yeah, science beats the "higher power"

  62. 62
    deZ

    “This sounds VERY close to the tripe I often hear, about how most people are not strong enough to live without God/religion. That position is insulting to the average person. Everyone can live without God. They can live a life full of meaning and wonder. They just have not been given the tools to do so.”Complete contradiction. If they don’t have the tools, they can’t live without God. I brought up AA because it’s an organization that has helped people survive. You can say there are similar groups with lower or higher success rates, I’m just mentioning that the concept of God has aided people and saved their lives. This is like a doctor who’s very devoted to Christian faith who operates on a man and saves his life. God influenced that doctor, and so you see that God is a powerful concept in the minds of people. In this sense, it wouldn’t matter if God existed externally, out of said person’s mind. I’m talking about God as a symbol of goodness. It’s funny that people have said, “What if God doesn’t represent goodness,” I’m only referencing the woman’s perspective of God.Say in the future, none of the doctors were religious. People would be saved by nonreligious people, but what about the past when there were religious people saving people. Why shouldn’t God be acknowledged for good actions taken in his name? Bad things happened in God’s name too, but if we try to see where God has aided people, whether he exists or not outside of their mind, he should be commended. When God inspires people to do good things, you should be happy for them and give them a green light. When God inspires them to do bad things, you can think of the harm religion has done, and you can firmly disprove of it.Approving of any part of religion or God may seem like it’s a bad thing as it can give power to all of religion and all of God, but I think it’s worth its merit. Atheists like to discuss issues around God because it interests them and philosophically at the core, it’s indecipherable. There’s questions to think about that lead to the edge of the unknown which should be asked and pursued. I don’t see a reason to condemn all religions and assert a comical, parody-like party tries to take the moral high ground meanwhile ridiculing religious beliefs.As far as harsh words, I think you can have better taste than saying ‘this is your brain on religion’, and classifying it as stupid and insane.“Furthermore, I would actually side with MattD on this one, who's pointed out many times in the past, that AA is actually a very poor motivator, because it shurkes personal responsibility by placing it all on god, rather than the person who's actually trying to get better and has to do the hard work.”That’s a very close-minded way to view that. It’s just an opinion that people who believe in God don’t take any responsibility for themselves.“You come here, crying about how atheists shouldn't insult peoples precious little beliefs, and then you turn around imply that if people loose faith we're all murderers?”Neither. I think religions shouldn’t be deemed as insanity. That’s like saying atheism is insanity. It doesn’t help the argument for either side to claim the other to be insane. It’s safer to assume we’re all sane and logical. There’s a reason people believe things, and it’s more interesting to pinpoint that rather than say, “As pathetic as it is, it doesn't surprise me anymore, I've gotten used to this kind of sick thinking.”

  63. 63
    deZ

    “I think religion in certain aspect allows the weaker bunch of us some safe haven and personal space to fall back on when we need emotional support and where there is none around to give that.”I think that’s opinion and not reality. You can’t claim everyone who believes in God is weaker than someone without God. God is simplified to a magic carpet auto-pilot that steers peoples lives until they die. That’s not the case. People who believe in God don’t have it easier or have less moral obligations because they can confess their sins. Atheists and theists are humans with capable minds.“If we must give respect to her belief, it will set back the human kind really, because we won't be able to even tell people that their beliefs are seriously disturbing.”And what would you like back? For them to think your non-belief is seriously disturbing? Respect goes both ways.“But what is god? Does it exist? Have it materialised before in these few thousand years of human worship during the ceremonies to thank the humans for their love?Never. How do you know there is such a being? How do you know it represents good?”I was only speaking of God in the sense that the Christian woman has mental associations with God and goodness/peace.“First you got to respond to my question how far can respect to religion go?”Tolerance should be exercised by the theist and atheist.“If this life is worthless to her if her religion is proven false and that god does not exist, would you stand by and watch her commit suicide as the final affirmation of her belief and respect her for that or would you rather instill in her a will to live and help her find a new purpose in life?”I’d let her commit suicide if she so desired to. Someone compared letting people drown in their sorrows of alcohol and drugs versus getting them rehab and I don’t think rehab is automatically the answer. People should be able to live their lives as they choose, even if it’s dangerous, irresponsible, and morally questionable. Why should people ever be forced to live past the day they no longer want to?“Moreover we were never really attacking the poor girl for the sake of attacking her. You have to realise that we were sick with the idea that this religion can make people think and feel that there is nothing else in life that is of any worth or value and it is what we are attacking.”Maybe it’s not a sick idea. Maybe God has been such an integral piece of her mind that she refuses to live in a world without God.“No there has not been instances where god helped people. There has been instances where people claim god helped them.”Yet without their concept of God whatever feat they accomplished may not have been done. “'god has helped people whether he exist or not'that is simply hideous. i can talk to you in person, whether i am alive or not. sure that makes sense. “Belief of God has helped people whether he exists or not. You can’t talk to me if you’re dead. But if I idolized you after perhaps some great thing you did and it gave my life new purpose and I was driven, I could claim that you inspired me. People inspired by the concept of God has helped people.“you would have to defend muslim extremists dying for their god who they believe exist.”And if they died with good intention towards their God then the act isn’t as barbaric as one who committed the same act with ill intention, defying their God.“And those who made it out of AA finds the determination in themselves. If god exists and helps no matter what, and those who failed failed because of demons”That’s not how the program’s described. You don’t just break sobriety because of demons. It’s usually a lack of willpower.

  64. 64
    Mark B

    @ AfterthoughtMark B – whilst to a point I agree with you, I think you have to be very careful of generalisation there.Oh sure, I agree 100%. It's obviously something that you need to take on a case by case bsis.But I do stand by my use of the word threaten to distinguish it from a typical cry for help.And just to be a bastard, IMHO if you are more concerned with someone else's well-being than they are, its probably a losing proposition.

  65. 65
    Murphy

    @deZThis is really just more of the same substance lacking nonsense, so i'll try to keep it short and answer only the parts that were relevant to my responses and leave the rest to everyone else, cause I grow increasingly weary of this crap:I’m just mentioning that the concept of God has aided people and saved their lives. This is like a doctor who’s very devoted to Christian faith who operates on a man and saves his life.I don't care how it influenced his personal life. How does his Christianity have any practical bearing over the medical procedure that saved the patients life? That credit don't go to his delusional sky fairy, but to modern medical science, and his hard work in the field of academia to become a doctor.It’s funny that people have said, “What if God doesn’t represent goodness,” I’m only referencing the woman’s perspective of God. I never said “what if god doesn't represent goodness”. I said, what if god does represent goodness, but then she comes to the conclusion that god doesn't exist. It doesn't logically follow that the goodness stops existing as well. Everything that happened before that she though was good, still happened. She was just mistaken about the cause. Please stop obfuscating and read what people have actually written.Say in the future, none of the doctors were religious. People would be saved by nonreligious people, but what about the past when there were religious people saving people. Why shouldn’t God be acknowledged for good actions taken in his name? Bad things happened in God’s name too, but if we try to see where God has aided people, whether he exists or not outside of their mind, he should be commended. Bullshit. Their belief in god has not bearing over the practical application of medicine. Likewise, sure, bad things happened in Gods name, but I don't think any of the atheist here would actually put the blame on god. They would put the blame on the delusional believers that did the bad things. The magical delusion itself shouldn't be commended or condemned as if its some kind of separate entity for the actions taken by the individual. That’s a very close-minded way to view that. It’s just an opinion that people who believe in God don’t take any responsibility for themselves.Did you ignore on purpose the very next sentence where I wrote: “Only one person can stop you from being alcoholic, and it isn't God.” Whether you think god gives you some imaginary strength or not, you still have to do the hard work. That isn't an opinion, that's a fact. And saying “Oh, Oh, i'm not worthy. I am nothing without you god. I can't do anything without your magical help” is a deference of responsibility, however slight it may be. I don't give a shit how close-minded you think I am cause I don't give the credit to the great juujuu in the sky that you can't even prove exists. The individual is the only on that can choose to stop being alcoholic. Facts are facts.Neither. I think religions shouldn’t be deemed as insanity. That’s like saying atheism is insanity. It doesn’t help the argument for either side to claim the other to be insane. It’s safer to assume we’re all sane and logical. There’s a reason people believe things, and it’s more interesting to pinpoint that rather than say, “As pathetic as it is, it doesn't surprise me anymore, I've gotten used to this kind of sick thinking.” Nowhere in those last few paragraphs did I say religion was deemed insanity. It was a rebuttal against your implicit accusation that atheism leads to people dying. And then a return question based on your own reasoning about what is an acceptable amount of collateral damage before religion is considered harmful? Nice way to obfuscate and not answer a single one of my points here.In future, please respond to what I've actually written, or please stop wasting my time with bullshit that has little to no relevance.

  66. 66
    Ing

    "I’m just mentioning that the concept of God has aided people and saved their lives. "Noooooooooooo a support group aided those people. Are you really that dense? Hell, look at this way. Believing in Quizicotal and sacrificing virgins kept the Aztec Empire together and unified, keeping the society from chaos and lawlessness. You wanna join me friday for a sacrifice?

  67. 67
    Murphy

    @deZI'm sorry, I know I said I would leave it at that, but reading back over your post I noticed this and just couldn't resist:That’s not how the program’s described. You don’t just break sobriety because of demons. It’s usually a lack of willpower. Ok. So if you fail its not demons but a lack of willpower…I brought up AA because it’s an organization that has helped people survive. You can say there are similar groups with lower or higher success rates, I’m just mentioning that the concept of God has aided people and saved their lives. But if you succeed god gets the credit? Selection bias much?

  68. 68
    rrpostal

    We aren't really sure what the statistics are for AA. They don't allow that much science in relation to their procedures. I am somewhat jaded by some personal experiences with AA. If it works for a person I'm totally fine with it as an option. Even if it's no better than average, if it currently helps an individual, it should be an option. But we'll never have other, potentially better, options available if we continue to push it as the only choice. And in doing so it is falsely claimed to be much more successful than any legitimate studies would indicate (because there's not enough definitive evidence either way). The very worst thing that happens involving AA/NA/XA is that it is court ordered very often. They use the asinine "we're not saying god has to be your higher power" bullshit to somehow pretend it isn't pushing any particular religion. Even if I believed that, I still don't want the government forcing a "non-specific" religion on people. Why should the courts order me to worship a rock as my savior because I have a legitimate problem that may need help.Once again the answer is not always obvious. It is a tough question and addiction has sociological, psychological and medical components. But just because we are not sure and there are gaps in our knowledge, it does not mean we shove a rock in it and call it god.Sorry for the slightly off topic rant

  69. 69
    Ithonicfury

    I love how God can mean anything, everything, or nothing, all at once or individually when required. As a word, He truly is all-powerful.

  70. 70
    deZ

    “I don't care how it influenced his personal life. How does his Christianity have any practical bearing over the medical procedure that saved the patients life? That credit don't go to his delusional sky fairy, but to modern medical science, and his hard work in the field of academia to become a doctor.”Do people not pay homage to things? Are they not inspired and motivated by mere concepts? People have done good things when inspired by God. Why can’t you acknowledge the upsides of having belief in God?“Everything that happened before that she though was good, still happened. She was just mistaken about the cause.”Prior to knowing God didn’t exist, she had a security blanket over her. Now that she knows God doesn’t exist, that security blanket is gone. Before she can assemble a new type of security, she may kill herself. It’s not impossible to think she may take her life.“Whether you think god gives you some imaginary strength or not, you still have to do the hard work. That isn't an opinion, that's a fact. And saying “Oh, Oh, i'm not worthy. I am nothing without you god. I can't do anything without your magical help” is a deference of responsibility, however slight it may be. I don't give a shit how close-minded you think I am cause I don't give the credit to the great juujuu in the sky that you can't even prove exists. The individual is the only on that can choose to stop being alcoholic. Facts are facts.”Yes, you still have to do the hard work, whether God is acknowledged or not in the attempted recovery. It’s as if your atheism doesn’t allow you to acknowledge the good things that have happened which are associated to God.“Ok. So if you fail its not demons but a lack of willpower…”I’ve never heard anyone at AA blame God or demons or Satan for the reason they failed maintaining sobriety.“But if you succeed god gets the credit? Selection bias much?”Belief in God can have altruistic results. To say anything associated to God is bad and that all religions are lies, is a simplification and an effort in dehumanizing religious people. How is it any different from a heterosexual saying homosexual behavior is bad and people who practice it are liars, and nothing fruitful can come of it? Why write off all religions because you don’t agree with their beliefs? Where’s the ‘live and let live’ mentality? There’s a good chance religion will be around your entire lifetime.Why would you spend time trying to insult religion with comical stereotypes like “ridiculous nonsense; It was the fact that his brain had been so poisoned by religion; the tooth fairy as well? What about Santa Clause? Unicorns? Fairies? Zeus? Allah? The Easter Bunny? The Flying Spaghetti Monster? Raki healing? Acupuncture? Alchemy? Astrology? Underpants Gnomes?; Maybe the underpants gnomes really are the reason some of you're apparel seems to go missing in the wash? ; a magical sky fairy; the same substance lacking nonsense; this crap; delusional sky fairy; the great juujuu in the sky?Why obsess over trying to ridicule religion? Wouldn’t the time be better spent trying to coexist?

  71. 71
    March Hare

    @deZ,People who are in abusive relationships very often have the same feelings this woman has. Should we simply stand aside and let her get on with it, knowing that taking her out of the relationship would remove her security blanket and leave her open to suicidal thoughts?People in this situation can often be exceptionally good parents, shielding their kids from the abusive spouse and living vicariously through them, but in a supportive way.They are also reluctant to leave as single parents or divorcees are frowned upon – by the religious!Are these positives enough to allow the victim to continue in the abused position?If you do not see the parallels then so be it, but I hope others will.

  72. 72
    Murphy

    @deZJeez, its like trying to have a conversation with a plank of woodDo people not pay homage to things? Are they not inspired and motivated by mere concepts? People have done good things when inspired by God. My all time very favourite movie is Fightclub. Its been a massive influence on me throughout my life… but if I do a good job finishing a project at work, Tyler Durten doesn't get the credit for that work. And God doesn't get the credit for the work of the medical doctor. How are you not getting this….Why can’t you acknowledge the upsides of having belief in God?Because there is no tangible benefit to having a god belief. It offers nothing that can't be achieved by secular means. Even by ALL of your own arguments presented so far, the only noticeable benefits of a god belief occurs after, and only after, the believer has already been detrimentally indoctrinated to believe that they can't function, survive, or move forward without it, even to the point of suicidal tendencies. Even by your own arguments presented, the only positives of a god belief in these situations, is to act as a rough illogical band-aid to the damage already cause by the indoctrination process. The harm necessarily outweighs any benefits. There are no upsides to be had here.Prior to knowing God didn’t exist, she had a security blanket over her. Now that she knows God doesn’t exist, that security blanket is gone. Before she can assemble a new type of security, she may kill herself. Right, a logically indefinable position with no discernible upsides, that if lost can lead to suicidal tenancies. Then all I can say is that its a terrible security blanket.It’s not impossible to think she may take her life.Agreed. Doesn't change the fact that it still isn't a rationally tenable position. And its still nothing in the way of being noble.Yes, you still have to do the hard work, whether God is acknowledged or not in the attempted recovery. It’s as if your atheism doesn’t allow you to acknowledge the good things that have happened which are associated to God. My atheism doesn't allow for me to logically acknowledge the existence of god based on the current evidence. That's all. If god doesn't exist, I can hardly give him credit for things that happen. Its sort of a tautology. The skeptic, critical thinker, and rationalist in me on the other hand, looks at the benefits and side effects of the individuals god belief and concludes that it offers no tangible benefits that can't be achieved by secular means, that that there are detrimental side effects such as this girls threats of suicide. I’ve never heard anyone at AA blame God or demons or Satan for the reason they failed maintaining sobriety.Belief in God can have altruistic results. You've entirely missed my point here, and committed the same fallacy of selection bias again. Either its entirely a failure/success of the individuals willpower to maintain sobriety, or its entirely a failure/success of gods altruistic results. You can't have it both ways to pick and choose when it suites your purposes.

  73. 73
    Ing

    "Why can’t you acknowledge the upsides of having belief in God?"I'm not going to acknowledge the 'goodness' of an able bodied person using a crutch to walk.

  74. 74
    Ing

    "Prior to knowing God didn’t exist, she had a security blanket over her. Now that she knows God doesn’t exist, that security blanket is gone. Before she can assemble a new type of security, she may kill herself. "If I thought I put a candy bar in my pocket for later, only to find out i had grabbed a granola bar or a bar of soap or the like, have I actually lost any candy bars?

  75. 75
    Ing

    my last example sucked…I got in the mail a notice that I had won a free vacation to Aruba, but it turned out to be one of those scams trying to get you to buy something…I'm not going on a cruise…there is no cruise…but did I actually LOOSE anything?

  76. 76
    Guillaume

    @dez-I don't know how to put it politely, but your doctor exaple is the stupidest example I have read in a long time. Big news Sherlock: many doctors are atheists, maybe a majority of them. And, while I am sure that the theist ones are very competent, it is not their faith that cures the patient. If it was the case, the curches would be filled with sick people and hospitals would be empty. No, doctors get people better because of their skills and knowledge in medicine, God, even IF he exists, has nothing to do with it. One does not treat an illness with prayers, prayers does not do chemotherapy, or radiotherapy, it is useless for heart transplant, for blood transfusion, for any kind of operation. You wouldn't expect a surgeon to perform an operation by first doing a rosary, would you? And if you want to give God credit for the good things done in his name, then we should also have the right to blame him for all the atrocities done in his name, or all the stupid things believers do in his name.

  77. 77
    SaintDL

    anyway Dez i appreciate your debate i really do… normally i would have replied alot faster but… i'm playing Oblivion and the lockpicking is hard to level up.ciaos

  78. 78
    Βασίλης Περαντζάκης

    @tracieh and Geoff,I fail to see why you think that I have to choose sides. I won't since you can't proove there is no God, and religion cannot prove there is one. My only critisism is that people who claim to know the truth, are always enraged with other people that claim to know another… truth!!! Well, I am sorry, but that is simply foolish. People can very well have foolish beliefs without being fools too. So don't read much into my critisism, please!!!As for the woman in question, as I said, convincing her there is no God would be a pointless exercise. You can't!!! As I said, it is a null point. She won't kill herself because she would never believe something else.As for those attacking Christianity because of phrases in the bible, I cannot believe that they fall in to the same trap that "true believers" fall. The teachings of Christianity are not in the story of the bible (which is just a story) but in the words and actions of the "son of God". Also you have to remember that they are directed to a society that is barbaric compared to ours. I hardly think that today's thinking would have much success during the times of the Roman Empire!!! Even stuff like "do not eat unclean flesh" are translated by some religious fanatics as "don't have transplants" when the only intention was to teach some basic health rules to improve life and expand it. Cleaning their hands and feet prevented spread of disease… The meaning of those "godly instructions" cannot be taken as a "shopping list". Their use and meaning in those times was very different since the society was very different."Love thy neighbour", "give","turn the other cheek", "forgive" are the true teachings of Christianity. You don't have to believe in any God to know those are meaningful teachings. As for God "itself", I believe that if there is one… it is something far greater and far more complex than any religion can think of or any science can prove or disprove of… yet. I also believe that humanity will evolve to a point where creation (the godly type creation) would be in our capabilities. Imagine then what our creations would think of us.

  79. 79
    medic

    Here's the logic of the position:Given (1) time is flowing and indivisible. You can't pinpoint a moment in time; when you do, it's gone. Sort of like Zeno's paradox.(2) pleasure is momentary. This is why we repeat pleasure, and can't just live off the memory of one pleasure in the past. To actually enjoy pleasure, we must grasp it in the moment. But, the second we try to grab it, the second and the pleasure is gone. This is why people overeat, love drugs, and are sex addicts…it is NEVER enough. In fact, it seems that often the only small pleasure we humans can eke out is to "remember the good times", and of course, once we are dead, we can no longer remember…rendering the remembered moment or potentially remembered moment null and meaningless. Try it…try actually enjoying something the exact second it happens…you will find it impossible, as there is no "exact second". We cannot experience time as particles, it simply moves too fast. It follows from this, that true pleasure…true fulfillment, must be experienced either (a) in a world with no time, or (b) infinitely. Neither of those are plausable in this world…hence any pursuit of pleasure is illusory, as is any thought that we actually ever enjoy the pleasure itself. Pleasure can be easily dissected and obliterated on careful examination. Faith, whether true or not, on the otherhand, does offer this…infinity and timelessness.Furthermore, If our consiousness ends…so does our whole world. All that we have built and done. It may go on (actually not, see next paragraph), but not for the one who dies. Hence, ultimately…all one's actions in this world will mean nothing at all to the one who did them. All that he will accomplish will be gone to him. Therefore, why accomplish anything? Why endure the horrible sufferings of the world to experience an occasional fleeting pleasure which is no pleasure at all (see paragraph one)? And at the end to know, it will all be for naught? Faith, on the other hand, offers the holy grail…permanent appreciation and pride in one's actions. Permanent.Furthermore, science tells us that the universe will eventually run out of energy..heat death. All human life will be gone. Anything one may accomplish for humanity will ultimately…not matter. We are, ultimately, wasting our time, even if it's a long time off. Either that or the universe will collapse in itself again, with the same result.When given these choices…once god is lost…to either live life knowing every second that we will die and all we do is for naught, or die immediately and avoid all that suffering…is not the fair choice obvious?This is the standpoint. Atheists, in this view, are seen as either insane or simply short sighted…ignoring reality to pretend that the moment is forever. I know it is difficult to picture this view, but…to those in the moment…it makes sense.

  80. 80
    Unknown

    The poster above is correct. It is a very real problem, and it's actually not insane at all. On atheism, we don't have any rational reason not to kill ourselves, bar the fact that most people just choose not to think about it, and go around calling religious people insane (most people are also incapable of thinking about it to that extent). But intelligent people who dare to press their philosophical inquiry to the end do recognize the severity of the problem. I ran a search for "Camus" on this comment thread and I didn't get a single result, which is no surprise.

  81. 81
    Murphy

    "On atheism, we don't have any rational reason not to kill ourselves"What about the fact that living (ie, eating ice cream, riding motorcycles, having sex, etc) is pretty fun, and you can't do any of those things you like doing once you're dead… Sounds rational to me… Hmmm, guess you didn't think this one through much huh steve?

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