Online atheist forums »« Open thread on AETV #831: God’s mistakes

Open thread on AETV #832: Indoctrination

Tracie and Russell discuss indoctrination and field viewer calls.

[...]

The topic for the episode was indoctrination, how children are instilled with fear and doubt, in order to create a situation where they apply pressure to themselves to believe a god exists, even when the external pressures of family, social circles, and church groups are not around to pressure them. Their fear leads to a situation where they are so desperate to believe a god exists, they will accept very weak “signs” or “evidence” to form some justification to prop up their faith, in order to shed the fear, doubt and worry.

After they adopt the belief, they experience the expected relief, and go on to credit god/religion with that outcome, interpreting the situation not as an abusive situation where they were instilled with fears in order to leverage their capacity to more easily believe, but as being “saved” from a real threat, and real fear. Later, as a Christian, they will express their belief in terms of love, but tell-tale signs of the past threats will linger in the form of things like Pascal’s Wager and statements that imply the atheist must be full of doubt and searching for god. In other words, they are not able to even imagine a situation where a person is not “at risk” or confused and lost in doubt, without having god in their lives. This is a reflection of their own fears of what life would be like without their faith—because their only point of reference is that same environment—created by indoctrination—before they adopted the belief in god.

The opening topic was aimed at young Christians who are struggling to believe and experiencing these fears, to explain to them what they are actually being subjected to, and to assure them that there are more options available to them than a life time of fear or faith in god–that you can, in fact, not believe a god exists, and be no more afraid of the consequences than you are of the consequences of not believing in vampires. We don’t generally hang garlic on our doors, and yet we don’t spend each night concerned about vampire attacks. While not all people have an easy time shedding the fear of hell, the fact that some have is a demonstration it can be done. It is an achievable option.

It was further discussed that religious frameworks offer a very distorted view of human nature and interactions, which leaves the adherent at a disadvantage in trying to negotiate the real world if they attempt to do so outside the confines of the religion. The example used was sex versus driving. In reality, deaths and accidents occur on the roads daily. But it would not be a realistic solution to suggest that nobody should drive. In the same way, the religious model of sex—that no one should do it or think of it outside of very narrow restrictions—is not realistic. However, because their view of sex is that anyone engaging in it outside of extremely narrow circumstances is being irresponsible and sinning—they teach “abstinence only” to any unmarried adherents. In the face of incomplete and incorrect information about sexuality, the adherent has a higher risk of making errors in their attempts at sexual relationships, much like someone only taught to never drive would have difficulty trying to safely drive a car if they had only incomplete and incorrect information about the safe operation of the vehicle. When things fail, they see the “test” as being fair, when it is, in fact, stacked. Their conclusion is often that life without god/religion can only be unsuccessful for them, and life with god/religion works much better, even with the challenges of having to grossly distort and deny one’s human nature and instincts.  In essence, they conclude that the option is either car crashes or never to drive—which ensures no crashes. They never have an opportunity to test the world with complete and accurate information on how to drive a car safely—which cannot ensure a safe experience, but can give one an extreme advantage in avoiding a deadly wreck over someone with little information about how to drive safely. Lacking this experience, they accept this as confirmation that the religious life is superior to a secular life, and as further evidence god knows better than humans.

Comments

  1. Brian O says

    Love the car driving/sex analogy…..really gets across the idea that without education the “test” is skewed in favour of abstinence…. :-)

  2. John Kruger says

    The driving analogy is pretty great. More than that, though, they are advocating not educating or training people how to drive in the fears that they might try it, and calling things like seat belts, air bags, and following traffic laws evil excuses for driving in the first place. Then of course anyone brought up that way might well have a terrible experience driving.

    Of course there are some severe consequences that can arise from irresponsible sexual behavior, but educated people are more than capable of managing the risks, just like they do with cars and driving.

  3. meskibob says

    I never went through religious indoctrination as a kid, and I have been an atheist (although not always called that) as far as I can remember. But, religious indoctrination is one of the main reasons I am an open and proud atheist. I had classmates as early as third grade tell me I was going to hell, and this only got worse as I got older. They were so scared of the eternal punishment that had been pounded into their skulls, that they were willing to condemn a classmate to eternal torture, projecting the same fear that was instilled in them under the guise of “helping me see the light”. This pissed me off then, and even more so now, despite not being directly condemned to hell for many years now. The only way I see to stop it is to be open and out. Show the fearful that not everyone is afraid, and that they can be too.
    Thank you for covering this topic again, and please continue to do so in the future.

  4. says

    I’m a very strong opponent of indoctrination. (Aren’t we all?) I think it’s probably one of the worst aspects of religion. You stated the reason why so eloquently here. It all starts with the children. “Brainwashing” them into being content with nothing but faith and the ability to deny the evidence. From there your doctrine further propagates and humanity suffers for it. While I believe the separation of church and state should be on top of the list of things to fight for, indoctrination should be number one. We need to abolish this practice first and foremost.

  5. says

    Thank you for your comments. When I was part of fundamentalism, if a life-long atheist had told me that I need not fear hell, I likely would have just thought they were not informed about it–that it was their ignorance that made them so brave. I still think that being out helps–if only to show that you can live a good life and not be religious. They will at least see that. But what I hope to give them is the support and knowledge that these “either/or” scenarios are lies. That the choices aren’t “believe or live in fear and doubt the rest of your life,” nor “try it without being well taught and fail, or don’t try it at all”). To the young, these seem like truths, because they have no life experience and a very limited point of reference. The more people who *have* been indoctrinated who stand up and say “I shed that garbage, and I don’t believe, and I don’ t fear,” the better. It at least shows that the options presented by these churches are lies. When all the older people you know keep saying that’s how it is, you believe it, because you know no better in your teens. But some people challenging that–can make a world of difference, especially when they used to believe exactly those same things.

  6. Paul Wright says

    The wall of separation between church and state is indeed a fine thing. Perversely, we have no such thing here in the UK, and yet our government and society is way more secular than America. Being an atheist here, is more a badge of honour than a veto on being elected.

    I feel there will always be some indoctrination because the parents often do it. To combat this, you need an education system that teaches children the importance of critical thinking, logical argument, evaluation of evidence etc., give them the tools to assess truth claims in the proper way. Teach children the sciences. Teach evolution, and NOT creationism. This whole ‘Teach the controversy’ bull shit makes me laugh and cry in equal measure. There is NO controversy. We are evolved mammals ! Simple. Teach children that’s it’s ok to question.

  7. meskibob says

    Too that point, could a person who’s never believed effectively apply the same strategy? I can point out the false choice all I want, but it’s not going to help if they are just going to shrug it off thinking that I don’t grasp the “real” threat of hell or that I haven’t felt the same level of fear. That I’m some brazen atheist without the religious experience to fully comprehend the danger coming my way. To me this seems like a tool that only the previously religious could successfully use. Thoughts…?

  8. says

    Yeah, it’s likely a believer will simply use that fact to dismiss your claim (i.e. they’ll say “you never WERE a believer!”), so that’s where someone like Tracie making the statement is more powerful, since she WAS.

    Of course, they’ll often just resort to dismissing HER claim too, saying “you weren’t a TRUE believer” (a variation on the “No True Scotsman” fallacy).

    Debating with infantile and feeble minds gets tiring and tedious very quickly, so you have to decide whether it’s even worth trying (depending on if it’s a relative, a stranger, etc).

    Dave

  9. ChaosS says

    I’ve gotten this in the form of “I’m trying to pull you out of the way of an oncoming truck.”

    I reject this analogy and say, no, you’re shouting to anyone who will listen to “Beware the Unicorn!”

  10. says

    Tracie, you are brilliant. I am totally stealing the Vampire analogy. You are so good with the analogies. Do you have some sort of file in your brain or do you come up with those as you go. Either way I’m impressed!

    About MLK, yes, he was a Christian but he borrowed his method of protest from Gandhi who was not. Also remember that the civil rights movement could only have come from the African American churches because in the south black people were often not allowed to congregate anywhere else. Yes, MLK’s religious beliefs do inform what he was doing and especially play a major role in the formation of his oratorical style, but there are other secular and non-Christian influences as well.

    And finally, I have not seen an episode of Godless Bitches on itunes since June. Are the GBs on hiatus or do I need to be looking for them someplace else. This godless bitch needs a regular dose of the Austin Godless Bs!!!

  11. says

    I think the problem is that sometimes we don’t take the time to teach the science behind evolutionary biology properly. It’s not true because this or that book says so. It’s true because we have all this evidence. At this point just the DNA evidence would be sufficient even if there were no fossils to show us what some earlier species looked like. You are right, there is no controversy, but we do ourselves a disservice when we teach science as “this is true because someone said so”. that’s what religion is and the main argument the theists use against science is to make it sound like it is just a belief system like religion. It’s not. I don’t “believe” in evolution, at least not in the Christian was of believing something. I have a basic understanding of the science and I accept that as the current best explanation of how things got to be the way they are now. If someone has better evidence or better concepts to explain that evidence, please present it and experts in the field can critique it. But it’s not a “belief”. It requires no faith on my part. Actually it’s the opposite of faith because I demand and get evidence and reason from scientists. From theists, not so much.

  12. Jamie Gairns says

    When I was 15, I went with a friend to a kid’s camp. I didn’t realize it at the time, but it was a Methodist camp. It was fun – we played games, socialized, ate and had a great time. Then, after dinner … “payment” time. We sat around and then the preaching started. It seemed relatively harmless, a question “Does anyone here not believe in god?”

    I put up my hand and, before I knew it, I was amidst a sea of kids patting me on the shoulder with the minister offering me words of support, all leading to the arms of the lord, of course. It was a gentle attempt to bring me into the fold, I suppose. They honestly seemed to believe they were helping me. They told me how I fit in there, how I could find strength there and other gentle coercion.

    I am sure it works for those that need that sort of spritual contact, but in fact, it made me feel extremely uncomfortable. I am not so good at following (or leading), but I love to ask questions until I understand. That is the enemy of indoctrination.

  13. says

    The Catholic dude’s voice sounded familiar and I have a sneaking (but I unsubstantiated) suspicion that he may be out screaming Catholic from about a year or so back. That said — notice how theists want to give religion the credit for all the great things folks do but atheism doesn’t get credit when an atheist does something good. No one notes Hypatia and says , “See what good atheism has done.” Another indicator of how we defer to religion in this country, so much so as to credit the actions of individuals to it but don’t do so when an individual follows no gods.

  14. says

    Let’s not forget WHO instituted slavery in the Bible: Noah, who condemned Caanan (son of Ham) to be a slave to his brothers.

    That was the only “justice” that Noah is recorded as delivering after the Flood, where God appointed “just” Noah to institute a system of law by delegating Divine Authority to him, authorizing Noah to enforce God’s newly-minted “no blood-shed” law (found in Genesis 6:5-6).

    Obviously the Law of Moses regulated slavery.

    Jesus never condemned slavery; instead he used the practice as the basis of his parables (faithful and wise servant, where the master was justified to dash his slave to death for not following his orders).

    The Civil War saw 600,000 lives lost, when both the South and North pointed to Bible passages that supported their stance. The South pointed to the OT, while the North pointed to Jesus’ “love thy neighbor as yourself” (as if they actually thought Jesus was referring to slaves as one’s neighbors, when they weren’t: slaves were the POSSESSIONS of one’s neighbors).

    So MLK using the Bible as the moral basis to protest civil rights is questionable, at best.

  15. Chris C. says

    I love this show and it has helped me lot, but I have not been able to get through the past two episodes (at least) that Tracie hosted because her hair keeps sweeping across her mike. Can’t you guys hear this? PLEASE Tracie, either put your hair back or move the mike to the middle of your shirt. I miss the show, and you’re one of my favorite hosts.

  16. says

    Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a great man not by who he believed in but rather what he believed in. As an atheist I too believe in human rights, I just don’t believe in any supernatural beings. Human rights is worth believing in the other is just a waste of time. Was Dr. King a hypocrite or just someone, like most theists, misguided by their own beliefs? If anything this should demonstrate how our lives are influenced by who and/or what we choose to believe.

  17. Corwyn says

    “God said, ‘You must not eat it or even touch it; if you do, you will die.’”

    The bible disagrees.

    “but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it. For *in the day* that thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die.”

  18. chris lowe says

    Childhood indoctrination is a very sticky problem indeed. Obviously the indoctrinators would probably not respond well to being told to stop. You’d have to fly around the sides to help the kids. There only solution is the same as most problems. Education and information.

    The situation many children face who have parents that want to raise their children to have a strong religious upbringing is very similar to a cult. There is a strong reinforcement of their own viewpoint and a shielding against other values. There can be isolation, intimidation, haranguing, threats and fear tactics involved. These don’t have to be Gestapo tactics. Being overbearing and dominant can be sufficient to cow most kids.

    Extraction and intervention is out of the question. So where do you go from here?

    A change in the zeitgeist must occur. More of the emerging philosophy of the child belonging to the community rather than the parents so much. “It takes a whole town to raise one child.”

    Home schooling should be banned. Mandatory attendance to a educational institution (public or private) with national ,or state,or provincial standards enforced must occur. Religion classes should be taught as part of the curriculum in the sense of a social studies class in that all the major religions be neutrally examined for their origins, societies they rest in and their basic beliefs. It must be emphasized that this be done in a non judgemental way.

    More access must be given to programs where stressed children can go to decompress. A safe place for kids to escape and talk about the religious, sexual and social strains they are experiencing.

    There you go. That’s my world through rose tinted glasses.

  19. says

    Chris said:

    Home schooling should be banned.

    Although I agree with you (I see home-schooling as a form of intellectual incest, the cognitive equivalent of inbreeding), banning it is not going to happen anytime soon. Although the State has a compelling interest to set educational standards, parents enjoy the right to determine how they’ll meet those standards.

    Dave

  20. Corwyn says

    Home schooling is a *solution* to state indoctrination when that is occurring. What happens when you outlaw home schooling, and the fundamentalists get creationism only taught in schools? Or a curriculum so lacking in any science at all as to be totally useless?

    As with all things political, it is best not to advocate for giving up power when you don’t know how it will used.

  21. says

    In the end, I don’t think Homeschooling that is the issue–many secular parents shome school–it’s that there is no real over sight as to what is taught and how. A good friend even complained that his neighbor’s home schooled kiddos barely crack open a book and spend most of thier time just dicking around…

  22. chris lowe says

    Dave, Corwyn and Alicia,

    You all have legitimate points to ponder. Like I said …”looking through rose tinted glasses.”

    In order to work the public education system must be separated from any direct religious influence and divorced from politics. Private schools for obvious reasons not so much. There would always be the risk that a government might embrace an anti science, fundamentalist agenda, and you indeed see this being attempted in the U.S. here and there. To the secularist that would be a major setback coming from the society as a whole.

    Would we get the equivalent of the Islamic world’s madrases? Very unlikely.

    Certain basic standards must be insisted upon, and you can’t be sure the criteria is met at home. A good education for our children should be a basic human right..

    Threats to “skew” the system shouldn’t deter anybody from trying to accomplish high standards and high performance of students and teachers. America has a large and unwieldy population which instinctually tries to protect freedoms and rights. But I don’t see the right to dumb down our children having any legitimacy as a corollary to education. Deliberately stultifying kids by withholding accurate and verifiable information should be viewed as unethical, if not downright criminal.

    I know I come across as pie in the sky writing like this. I know too that if enough people want some of that, then achievement is not out of the question. Go you Yanks! I know you can do it. It wouldn’t be the first time you turned everything on its head in a positive way!

  23. says

    I don’t even know where to stand on it actually. Sometimes, with the road American education is trying to take, I want to yank my kids out of school and go fully secular–however, I don’t think I have the patience, time or even the ability to do this well, as I am not a trained educator. Sadly MOST parents who decide to home school don’t have the credentials to do so either. Not sure what the answers are…but if it gets too bad here, heck–I may move to another country–you got a spare bed Chris? LOL

  24. says

    That’s when you join a watch-dog organization like FFRF that is there to ensure that there is a seperation of church and state so that you don’t have any biased religious organization trying to influence the government.
    Atheists do have the right to defend and ensure that the boundary between church and state isn’t infringed upon. Keep the propaganda in the church, and leave it out of public shcools because unlike the church atheists pay taxes.

  25. says

    Yeah, for whatever reason, there really is something to someone saying “I’ve walked a mile in your shoes, and what they’re telling you is just what they told me, and I came out the other side, fine.” The indoctrination tells them that they’re taking a HUGE risk with their eternal souls–afterlife existence–if they don’t believe–they’re doomed. The kid *has no other experience* outside of worrying about this potential doom. When I was younger, someone who had never been in church, I would probably have considered that person uninformed. So, one might say that a person who runs into a burning building is brave or stupid. Do they really understand the risks, but they’re willing to try and save people? Or are they running in there because they don’t understand the risks?

    THAT is how it is internalized to the child who is struggling with the effects of long-term indoctrination. The un-churched person is not informed, and their decision to not be afraid “doesn’t count” because they just don’t understand what a HUGE risk they’re taking–they’re walking blindly into that inferno of a house, without an understanding of what fire can do. If they understood it…and you see where this is going?

    So someone who can say “I was so worried. And I believed that belief was my only way out–that unless I had that assurance of safety, I’d live my life always looking over my shoulder, terrified of death, concerned for my immortal soul! But what I learned was that once I was not feeling that pressure, and could look a the claims objectively, the belief–AND THE FEAR–began to fall away.”

    Clearly some people do continue to fear. I *like* to think ultimately that will fade with time and understanding. But it may not. I only know that I was able to overcome it–as were others–and so it’s fair to say “It CAN be overcome.” The claim that it’s a choice between a life of distress or embracing the sweet relief of belief in and obedience to Jesus–is not true.

    I’m not sure I’d say a lifetime atheist could not drive this point home. But I do think they’d have additional hurdles to get past in order to do it.

  26. says

    Yes. On the opening talk, I mentioned another topic I might address if there was time. This was part of that topic. I never addressed it, but I wanted to talk about how it’s not a fair comparison to compare the effects of things that can be demonstrated to exist with those things that have not been demonstrated to exist. And you’re right to replace the analogy with a more one-to-one version.

  27. says

    Well, it’s like the statement (and apologies for not knowing who said it first), that if the world fell into another Dark Age, and all memory of our current religions and our science disappeared–one day the science would come back exactly as it was–but religions would not be similarly replicated. You wouldn’t get another Bible. But you’d get the same physics..

  28. says

    I’d be creeped out. I had a guy pray for me once, and he touched me like that. He didn’t ask if it was OK to do so, and I didn’t know him. WTF? Yeah–creeped me out. Having a lot of people touching me would be very surreal.

  29. says

    For the record, it wasn’t my hair. The studio gave me a note telling me my hair was on the mic, but they confirmed after the show that the noise continued even when the hair was behind me and not touching the mic. They actually didn’t even think ultimately it was my mic, but Russell’s, that had the interference.

  30. says

    From the blog:

    >Atheism: The “no” position originating from the Greek word “Aethos” which means “without god(s)”. I apologize if I offend anyone at “The Atheist Experience” by this statement, but logically Atheism isn’t really the “null state” as some of you have claimed. By the definition of the word alone, this “no god(s)” response implies the very same kind of conviction that any religious fundamentalist might claim when they say they “know without any doubt that their god(s) exist”. Both responses beg the question: “Oh yeah? Well prove it!”

    >Agnosticism: The true logical null state that says “I just don’t know”. This originates from the Greek word “Agnosis” which means “without knowledge”. This can range from “I believe that there is some sort of god but I just don’t know what kind of god he/she/it is” to “I have no idea one way or the other whether a god or gods exist” or even “Ya know… I really don’t care…”

    It doesn’t offend me. It’s just incorrect. Any person who is capable of belief in god who does not adopt belief in god is an atheist. WHY they don’t believe is an irrelevancy. If they don’t believe because they accept there are no gods, I agree, that’s an atheist. Additionally, if they don’t believe a god exists because the evidence for or against the claim is inconclusive, that is also an atheist:

    http://atheism.about.com/od/definitionofatheism/p/overview.htm

    The article above is an overview of how atheism is defined both today and through history in areas such as theology, free thought, general definitions, and so on. Different resources have more or less robust explanations of atheism, surely. But the broad definition has been a person who does not believe a god exists. In your article, you do not label “implicit atheism.” Where do implicit atheists fall? In labeling the agnostic,” you use “know”—which has nothing to do with atheism and theism, which are questions dealing with “belief.” If agnosticism is the null position with regard to BELIEF—then why do you appeal to “knowledge” in explaining the agnostic position, rather than the agnostic belief?

    Many claims of gods can be demonstrated to be false. Anyone who is not an atheist in regard to those claims is simply being unreasonable. Some god models, are, in fact, logically contradictory. Those gods cannot exist. And only someone who fails to see the problem a logical contradiction presents would say otherwise. Additionally, with regard to gods that cannot be demonstrated to be nonexistent, those gods, it is just as justified to say they do not exist as it would be to say fairies do not exist. Does that make me, then, agnostic? I have not claimed to know fairies do not exist. I don’t “know” they don’t. But I certainly believe they do not. And I have the same position on gods. “I don’t know” they do not exist, but they appear to be as existent as fairies. So, just like fairies, I don’t believe they exist. And I’m comfortable, based on that, asserting “they do not exist.” So, since I am willing to say “I admit I cannot be logically 100% certain of their nonexistence”—I am admitting “I do not know.” That, according to you, makes me agnostic. Right? You said the agnostic says “I don’t know.” But what I *believe* is that they do not exist. And that would seem to make me an atheist, because I am happy to assert “they do not exist,” based on that belief. So, what does that make me? It sounds like it makes me an agnostic atheist—one who does not claim to know, but also does not believe…? And I’d say further, speaking solely for myself, one who believes they are not existent. That’s not required to be an atheist, but I am in that category. I believe both fairies and gods do not exist, for the same reasons: There is an abundance of nothing to indicate such things are.

    You seem to realize a person can “not know” and “believe god exists,” but then you seem unable to grasp a person can “not know” and “believe no gods exist” OR, more importantly, not believe gods exist AND not believe no gods exist.

    I think there may be some trouble with your definitions, because you don’t seem to be agreeing someone can be both an atheist and an agnostic, but according to your categories, I seem to be both?

  31. says

    Here’s a prime example, in this article:

    “Doing right for right’s sake is atheistic. Christian’s should do what’s right for God’s sake; because the Bible teaches us to do everything for the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31). But God is not glorified if we leave him out of account, and say that doing a right deed is it’s own justification. Nothing is its own justification, if God is left out.”

    God gets credit for all the good, people get blamed for all the bad.

    http://crossmap.christianpost.com/blogs/john-piper-dont-do-gods-will-like-an-atheist-3706

  32. says

    The different U.S. states have different levels of regulations and oversight for home school. I think there needs to be a basic required curriculum and state reviews for home schools. I think we need to take the most well regulated models with the best success, and implement those. States are already using them, so why not just roll them out universally?

    As regards teaching odd things in school, until they take the kids away, parents still get their kids and have plenty of time to teach them whatever they like outside the school day. So, I learned science as a kid, but my parents were creationists. Their take was “well, you have to learn it for school, but it sounds silly to me.” They denigrated it when I was at home–“people coming from monkeys?!”–but I learned it in school. There are many inputs into a child than just school.

    And I agree with the “it takes a village” mentality. Whatever education, indoctrination or socialization does/does not occur, at 18, in the U.S., that “child” becomes the community’s problem or joy. So, I think it’s an error to say that “whatever the parents want to do for the first 17 years is cool, so long as they don’t kill the kid.” After 18, that kid may live another 60 years, where he’s not mom and dad’s responsibility, but will impact society. I think that makes us “interested” in his social integration and how well he’s going to interact in our community. He doesn’t have to buy into what we offer as a society, but he does have to at least understand how it works and how others in his society do function and motivate and what they believe. As my parents’ did (and I say this with no false admiration for my parents), they understood that I should KNOW what the other kids were being taught–regardless of whether I adopted it personally or not (which they hoped would not be the case). The were able to see the difference (which some have a hard time with) between exposure to information and accepting that information as reality. Just because I read about serial killers doesn’t mean I’ll be motivated to become one. I may be revolted by it, interested and disassociated from it, whatever. But just knowing about it simply adds to my body of understanding of some part of my social setting and environment. And there is no harm in that.

  33. says

    Agnostic-atheism per Atheism is still a somewhat confusing and apparently devisive concept, particularly for relative newbies like mah self. Even now, I am not quite sure how to announce myself. I tend to stick with agnostic on most occasions–I am not lying per se–just not going into depth about my entire belief system. In any case, it is a less explosive term, as I think it is the concept of absolute knowledge that people seem to have an issue with, e ven though atheists make no such claim of absolute knowledge..or is it the fact that theists think there is some hope of changing an agnosti’cs mind, whereas an atheist’s mind may never change?

  34. says

    Me too. I dont mind the gltiches but they can be distracting…maybe when they get into their own building some of that stuff will get fixed.

  35. says

    and yet, the direct opposite happens to atheists. We godless heathens get credit for the bad, even for things we don’t directly have a hand in, like earthquakes or tsumani’s, but the whole of atheism doesn’t get credit for the good done by a non believing individual or organizations.

  36. Corwyn says

    Why do people seem to care so much about the *word* ‘atheism’? It is not as if, even everyone agreed on the definition, that a single mind would have changed in the slightest.

    And also why does the word seem to acquire a degree of certitude (from others) that no other word has? You can’t be an atheist unless you are 100% certain there is no god of any sort? AND can prove it? Frankly, I am not 100% certain of *anything* (and only close to certain about things in the mathematical realm).

  37. says

    I know right–I even heard one of the main apologists say that we are attempting to redefine what atheism means. I was like, “No, we are trying to get folks up to speed on what atheism truly IS because folks like you keep muddying the waters.”

  38. says

    I’ll never grasp this idea that the way words were originally coined dictates what they must mean until the heat death of the universe… and that it’s not allowed for languages to evolve… ever.

  39. Corwyn says

    I will however argue vehemently for words to keep some semblance of usefulness. One example I see a lot is the ‘humans are natural, therefore anything they make is also natural’ argument. So what does the word ‘natural’ not denote? If ‘Atheist’ can only apply to someone who is 100% certain, who exactly would it apply to? Anyone? Bueller?

  40. says

    Indeed, soceities evolve, architecture evolves, hair evolves, clothing evolves but language can’t it seems (yet it does at a near constant rate, all the time). I recall being taken to task for spelling “All Right” as alright in school and yet this is now an acceptable alternative spelling that we see even in major publications. Likewise with regardless and irregardless–I have seen ppl come to fisticuffs over this. I suppose they want to hold us to ancient definitions because they can demonize us better by the older, more negative defintions of atheism.

  41. says

    I suppose they want to hold us to ancient definitions because they can demonize us better by the older, more negative defintions of atheism.

    While I cannot read minds, that is my impression… just one in their massive repertoire of “CHECKMATE ATHEISTS” arguments.

  42. says

    Speaking of such — Ohhh, emmm Geeee! Just had the most insane argument with a theist who was using an argument that just had to be fresh off the conveyor belt of Christian apologetics. The argument smacks of the projection/shadow game approach they adore . Stop me if you’ve heard this one “You are giving Science credit for the things people do.” Dude, I am NOT even shitting you. This after I said that science was demonstrable and she countered, “No, it is observable.” All my near elementary examples of how science is demonstrable went in one ear and out the other. She claimed it was so evil for me to take away the achievements of Bill Gate by giving due reverence to science. I spent an hour trying to explain that science is a tool–and a discipline–and that those in the sciences or who use applied sciences are in no small measure utilizing scientific methodology. I gave the example of how a mathematician can credit their use of math for the solving of equations. No avail. Mark my words that we will be seeing this shadow argument used in future debates. I finally just blocked her and walked away–how in the world do you reason with what is so clearly unreasonable?

  43. Corwyn says

    “Agnosticism: The true logical null state that says “I just don’t know”. This originates from the Greek word “Agnosis” which means “without knowledge”.”

    But this does NOT describe me (or presumably many people here). We have knowledge. We know of no verified miracles. We know of laws of physics which prohibit various claims made. We know of lack of evidence that should exist.

    Assuming that we start with an agnostic position of 0 decibans of confidence in the proposition that a god exists, every study showing no efficacy to prayer, drops that in the negative*. Even theist arguments like ‘something can’t come from nothing’ or intelligence is too complicated to arise from chance’ should make our confidence in the proposition decrease.

    * – see: http://rationalnumbers.james-kay.com/?p=306 for an explanation of confidence expressed in decibans.

  44. says

    I haven’t heard that one yet. It sounds like how presuppositionalists are shouting arguments at you, not to convince you, but to convince themselves…

    I can sort of understand what they’re trying to do… but it’s silly. It’d be like arguing that vaccines didn’t prevent diseases X, Y and Z… it was the arbitrarily chosen doctor at the hospital who did it.

    … when the point is that those people wouldn’t have accomplished what they did without the tool.

    Did the person mean Bill Gates, as in the computer guy? What was his scientific accomplishments? If anything, Microsoft specialized in software… not figuring out semiconductors, etc.

  45. says

    You’re right about that one. I’m not 100% certain about anything myself when it comes to knowing, but there is a difference between being certain beyond reasonable doubt and simply believing something because it’s makes you feel secure. If I’m going to trust or have faith in something or someone I would at least have to know if they or it exist in this reality or not. Establishing something is the first thing that is required when making a claim. In other words how would anyone know if they are telling the truth or not? As an atheist I do not require from a theist something that goes beyond empirical proof, just something that is more tangilble then a book.

  46. says

    I would say that if being charitable, but I fear she was simply trying to find a way to play the I am rubber you’re glue game that theists love so much.

  47. says

    It’s not just fear that church’s use as a tool, it’s also promises and guilt as well. The only thing as an atheist I would expect out of anyone is that they have an open mind, think for themselves and be objective. This isn’t the case for the theist who would expect one to have faith in their god, love their god and obey their god without question as to why. As a former Christian in what I have observed is that most if not all organized religions are in on it for the control and money. They use fear, guilt and empty promises and as a tool to manipulate those who are too insecure and ignorant to know better, which is why they want to indoctrinate.
    This is simply a form of brain-washing in which one is condition into how to think.

    No one should ever feel guilty unless they are and no one should have to be a slave to some supernatural being if there are none, and there should always be a seperation of church and state to ensure that my rights are not being infringed upon.

  48. says

    I see it more like an after-life insurance policy that’s full of terms and conditions that no one could or should ever abide to and empty promises that no one can guarantee. It is good to see that you’re not sick and not in need of any cure or insurance. It’s good to think for myself and to truely be free.

  49. steele says

    Tracie,

    I hope this is not off topic, but I am very curious about your deconversion and your previous belief. Is there someplace you discuss it. On a blog or you tube video.

    More on topic:

    I don’t feel like I was indoctrinated but its hard to say I guess; I went to church with my Mom, sunday school, and even confirmation but then stopped going for over 20 years. I don’t think I ever really believed because I didn’t really understand any of it. I tried reading the bible a few years back and thought this is crap, why would the infinite God of the universe care about a womans period? I rejected the bible as absurd.

    I delved into science and philosophy to look for answers and I do love science still to this day and it fascinates me but I realized it doesn’t answer the really big questions, in my opinion. I guess I was a deist for awhile because I was awed by nature and science and thought there had to be a god, but my deist god was a figment of my own imagination. I’m sure you would say the same about my current Christian God as well, so I can understand that I can be deceived by my own conceit at times.

    All that aside though I saw the evil in my heart, I have experimental evidence every day of just how evil I am, more evidence than all of science could reproduce. I saw my desperate need of a Saviour. Its strange I don’t really feel like it was an emotional decision, I mean obviously it was to some extant, because I wasn’t really looking for it or wanting it and maybe I am not explaining this very well but it just seemed to happen despite myself.

    I thought I was deceiving myself so instead of going to church I read atheist material and watch a lot of atheist you tube videos but didn’t really find their arguments moving me away from my faith….in fact many of them convinced me of my faith even more.

    I am curious about your experience because I find you interesting, the others on the atheist experience are definitely less so. Don and Russell are the worst, I think Matt is getting angrier and less convincing as time goes on. I do like Jeff Dee for some reason and Aron Ra is probably the smartest. You and him seem to at least listen to the people that call in with some level of respect.

    Anyway I do pray for you Tracie and for the others on the show there. I know you know the Bible so I won’t quote Bible verses at you but I really hope you will let God back into your life. Take Care

    Erik

  50. says

    Erik said-

    Anyway I do pray for you Tracie and for the others on the show there. I know you know the Bible so I won’t quote Bible verses at you but I really hope you will let God back into your life. Take Care, Erik

    You cannot have Tracie back, Erik, for she is OURS (mu-ah-ha-HA-HA-HA!!!).

    Oh, sorry: is this mic on? ;)

    Dave

  51. says

    OH, PS, Erik:

    You can PRAY for “Tracie and the others on the show there”, and rest easy knowing they’ll continue to do your share of rational thinking for you, in return.

    Dave

  52. steele says

    Davey,

    you state:

    “You can PRAY for “Tracie and the others on the show there”, and rest easy knowing they’ll continue to do your share of rational thinking for you, in return.”

    LOL, I am glad to hear that me like a chump trying to use my brain all these years, I have been told I’m not paid to think anyway so its nice I can shuffle this off onto these enlightened rationalists. No more thinking, thanks Davey, BTW I will throw in a prayer for you as well! LOL

    Take Care

    Erik

  53. says

    Erik said:

    LOL, I am glad to hear that me like a chump trying to use my brain all these years, I have been told I’m not paid to think anyway so its nice I can shuffle this off onto these enlightened rationalists. No more thinking, thanks Davey, BTW I will throw in a prayer for you as well! LOL

    Come on now, Erik: you mean to tell me you don’t possess even the slightest bit of social awareness of others, or respect for other’s beliefs to see how telling Tracie et al that you’d pray for them is more than a bit condescending and insulting? Really?

    That’s well beyond passive-aggressive cluelessness, and deep into religious delusion.

    Hence whenever a Xian says “I’ll pray for you” line, I don’t hesitate to respond with how I’ll gauge God’s immorality for them, or do their rational thinking for them, etc.

    No one is forcing you to set yourself up like that (and no one knows that more than an ex-believer who’s an atheist: verily I say to you that NO INVISIBLE DEITY is forcing you to “preach the good news of the Kingdom”).

    Dave

  54. steele says

    Dave,

    I am not really understanding why you take exception to me saying I pray for the people on the Atheist Experience show. I was being sincere when I said that to Tracie. When I responded to you I was being somewhat condescending based on your response to me.

    I’m not sure why atheists would be offended by me saying I pray for them. When I was an atheist and people said that to me I always thought that was them trying to be nice and it was basically like saying Have a Nice Day. Are you so thin skinned that this upsets you that greatly? Are you one of these atheists that hates crosses in Arlington National Cemetery and when people wish you a Merry Christmas too?? I mean your response when someone says that to you is pretty childish and defensive really.

    you say:

    “Come on now, Erik: you mean to tell me you don’t possess even the slightest bit of social awareness of others, or respect for other’s beliefs to see how telling Tracie et al that you’d pray for them is more than a bit condescending and insulting? Really? ”

    I thought atheism was not a belief system Dave? I thought atheism was non-belief which is it? You are wrong about preaching the Good News of the Kingdom as you well know, we are commanded to share our Faith, just because you don’t believe that is fine but that is just your opinion.

    Anyway Dave if it bothers you that greatly I won’t say it to you but I won’t apologize for sincerely praying for someones well being and showing concern about them as a person. I am glad Tracie is cared about by here fellow atheists as was shown by your and Alicia’s posts. I care about her too in my own way and how I choose to express it you can agree with or not but I have little concern with your claims about my “sensitivity” and my passive-aggressive cluelessness.

    I will pr……I mean Have a Nice Day, lol JK!

    Erik

  55. says

    I suppose some atheists find “I’ll pray for you” offensive (though I’m not offended by it, just bemused) because it’s pretend concern. If you really wish someone well, you can do one of two things. Actually put forth an effort to do something for them that will improve their well-being, or simply sit back and say “I’ll put in a good word for you with my imaginary pal.” You may think the latter sounds sincere, but it doesn’t to us. “I’ll pray for you” lets believers feel pious, but doesn’t actually make a change in anyone’s lives.

  56. Clarity says

    Oh Erik…It seems you are merely one more human that is incapable of functioning outside of your fears and ego. Without knowing you, I cannot speak to what weaknesses in understanding or controlling yourself you might suffer from, but is obvious that you ARE possessed of weakness and I would conclude that this is why you seek for a saviour outside of yourself. Whatever evil you have been committing is your business, but to end it, you must first learn that all evil stems from either ego, fear, or a combination of both. Amongst their many destructive influences, ego and fear both tend to lead us away from truth, a fact that religion has used well in its survival. God is ego. Religion is fear. What answers or comfort do you really hope to extricate from either, Erik? I would suggest to you that you should not yet ask the bigger ontological questions, but instead ask deeper questions of yourself. Perhaps, with an intense and truthful exploration of yourself, you might become aware of just how much influence ego and fear may be having on both the questions you ask and the answers you are willing to accept as true.

  57. says

    Erik said:

    I am not really understanding why you take exception to me saying I pray for the people on the Atheist Experience show. I was being sincere when I said that to Tracie. When I responded to you I was being somewhat condescending based on your response to me.

    Oh, don’t worry: I get it. In fact, when I’m bored, I seek out sites where Christians are known to congregate and tell them how ignorant they are for believing in God. It’s kinda the flip-side of your “I’ll pray for you” bit.

    I’m not sure why atheists would be offended by me saying I pray for them.

    No? Perhaps you’d understand better via the use of an analogy (they’re kinda like ‘parables’, but have 50% less creamy paradoxical filling)?

    A theist saying he’ll pray for atheists is a bit like a child telling an adult that he is BFF with Santa, and will put in a few good words for him so that he leaves LOTS of presents that are on his wish list! So no, it’s not insulting or offensive, but just kinda DUMB.

    When I was an atheist and people said that to me I always thought that was them trying to be nice and it was basically like saying Have a Nice Day.

    Hate to break it to you, but you likely were an atheist for the same reason you’re now a theist: you didn’t want him to exist, but you now want him to exist). Unfortunately, reality doesn’t hinge on the basis of a popular opinion poll, and the Universe couldn’t give a flyin’ flip what you or ANYONE else wants to be true. You and I cannot will God(s) into or out of existence; you and I are NOT Peter Pan, and God is NOT a fairy, where “every time a child says fairies don’t exist, one disappears”.

    Are you so thin skinned that this upsets you that greatly? Are you one of these atheists that hates crosses in Arlington National Cemetery and when people wish you a Merry Christmas too?? I mean your response when someone says that to you is pretty childish and defensive really.

    Precious and delicious irony noted, after you trolled an atheist site with nothing to offer, other than your hopes and dreams.

    I thought atheism was not a belief system Dave? I thought atheism was non-belief which is it?

    Hmmm, practically speaking, how does one differentiate between a “non-belief” and a “belief”? If I say, “I believe God doesn’t exist”, isn’t THAT a belief, too? As such, am I not allowed to carry other related beliefs in my head and call it a ‘belief system’?

    Or is this yet another case of a theist telling an atheism what they believe? (No sirree, we’ve never seen THAT kind of thing happen before!)

    Hint: look up the difference between ‘soft’ and ‘hard’ atheism to discover the answer, if you were asking with the intent to learn (and note I’m a ‘hard atheist’ for Abrahamic God).

    Anyway Dave if it bothers you that greatly I won’t say it to you but I won’t apologize for sincerely praying for someones well being and showing concern about them as a person.

    As the old saying goes, “The road to Hell is paved with good intentions” (and that saying neglects to include how some workers laying asphalt on the road to Heaven actually have far-worse intentions)!

    PS I’m not buying the “I’m concerned for Tracie as a person” bit: as a believer I parroted it, too, but in the end, it’s faux sincerity. Christianity is ALL ABOUT kissing up to Jesus, since he’s the one who does the judging work: EVERY PLEASANT UTTERANCE of a Christian is automatically suspect, covered with a cloud of taint, since it’s known that the believer is ultimately trying to save THEIR eternal soul.

    (When an atheist expresses concern, it’s USUALLY more sincere, and offered with less strings attached.)

    I am glad Tracie is cared about by here fellow atheists as was shown by your and Alicia’s posts. I care about her too in my own way and how I choose to express it you can agree with or not but I have little concern with your claims about my “sensitivity” and my passive-aggressive cluelessness.

    Do as you will, since whether you admit it or realize it not, you are ALREADY operating by your own moral code, just like we are: difference is, we KNOW there is no safety net, and believers won’t admit that they’re operating without a safety net.

    I will pr……I mean Have a Nice Day, lol JK!

    Well, that’s a start, LOL!

    Dave

  58. steele says

    Clarity,

    Thank you for providing so much clarity, well not so much, but I do appreciate the concern.

    you say:

    ” Without knowing you, I cannot speak to what weaknesses in understanding or controlling yourself you might suffer from, but is obvious that you ARE possessed of weakness and I would conclude that this is why you seek for a saviour outside of yourself. Whatever evil you have been committing is your business, but to end it, you must first learn that all evil stems from either ego, fear, or a combination of both. Amongst their many destructive influences, ego and fear both tend to lead us away from truth, a fact that religion has used well in its survival.”

    I couldn’t agree with you more, for me it was/is always more ego than anything.

    1st John 2:16

    16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.

    That pretty much describes who I was but through Christ I know this struggle with my ego/flesh will end one day and be able to submit fully to God in love.

    Where you and I disagree however is I don’t need to look inside myself as I said I have already done that and seen the wickedness within. I don’t buy pop psychology and feel the need to get in touch with my feelings about myself.

    As far as my weaknesses though go I would just say this:

    2nd Corinthians 12:9-10

    9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

    Thanks again

  59. says

    Erik said

    1st John 2:16

    16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.

    Uh, Erik, you DO realize that we’re atheists, not Satanists, right? We don’t believe in ANY woo-woo, God or Satan.

    I’m just sayin’, since you may be disappointed if you think we’re going to start screaming about how it burns our eyes and skin when you quote scriptures like that….

    Dave

  60. Narf (the abdicator) says

    Erik, if you were ever really an atheist, you must have been a pretty irrational one and didn’t have a very good logical foundation. The Bible is bullshit, man, and quoting the first Bible verse generally makes us tune you out. It’s a circular argument from authority which isn’t even close to justified.

    You should know that, if you were really an atheist, for anything approaching good reasons. Were you one of those Kirk Cameron atheists who just didn’t think much about it, but you always believed there was a god? Were you one of those mad-at-God atheists who considered yourself an atheist because you didn’t worship the god that you still believed existed?

    … because those aren’t atheists, man. Upon which sort of foundation did your atheism rest?

  61. steele says

    Dave,

    I really don’t come on these site to troll as you suggest, I don’t have a lot of time to do that. I am like you I am curious what the other side has to say. I sometimes post if I think I have something to contribute or have a question. I really don’t come on here much to preach hellfire and brimstone, I don’t think that has much effect on atheists who don’t believe in that anyway. If something I said would make someone on here look at things in a different perspective fine if not fine too.

    As far as quoting the Bible I was doing that to make a point to Clarity not to clear out the atheist demon spawn, LOL. I know what I believe and Clarity’s psychoanalysis of my weaknesses and to look into myself, while it is all touchy feely, I’ve already done that and that was my only point with that verse.

    Lastly you state:

    “PS I’m not buying the “I’m concerned for Tracie as a person” bit: as a believer I parroted it, too, but in the end, it’s faux sincerity. Christianity is ALL ABOUT kissing up to Jesus, since he’s the one who does the judging work: EVERY PLEASANT UTTERANCE of a Christian is automatically suspect, covered with a cloud of taint, since it’s known that the believer is ultimately trying to save THEIR eternal soul’.”

    I’m sure you don’t buy that Dave and I think that is the difference between us and probably why you left Christianity, sorry to psychoanalyze lol, but seriously I do mean it because I do believe pray works and I don’t believe in trying to convince people by being phony. My immortal soul was saved by Jesus and nothing I do can add to the salvation He has provided. Trying to snatch a person from the fire doesn’t get me browine points in heaven, I don’t notch how many atheists I witnessed to and think it gets me a reward.

    Be that as it may you also say:

    “No? Perhaps you’d understand better via the use of an analogy (they’re kinda like ‘parables’, but have 50% less creamy paradoxical filling)?

    A theist saying he’ll pray for atheists is a bit like a child telling an adult that he is BFF with Santa, and will put in a few good words for him so that he leaves LOTS of presents that are on his wish list! So no, it’s not insulting or offensive, but just kinda DUMB.”

    LOL, funny, Your analogy though is a little crude and not all that analogous but lets leave the aside, I can see your point and I agree perhaps it is a little dumb, I don’t apologize for it but I can see it from your point of view of how this seems insincere, as if I am doing them a favor.

    I still think you need to lighten up on your response to people that say that too you, many people are sincere when they say they will pray for you and do it out of concern for you as a person. You reacting with your snarky comeback as I said is childish, irony or not that is what it is.

    Take Care,

    Erik

  62. steele says

    Narf,

    you say:

    “Erik, if you were ever really an atheist, you must have been a pretty irrational one and didn’t have a very good logical foundation. The Bible is bullshit, man, and quoting the first Bible verse generally makes us tune you out. It’s a circular argument from authority which isn’t even close to justified.”

    and ask what my logical foundation was,

    Well I thought the Bible was bullshit and a circular argument that was unsupported by the evidence of the natural world (science) and logic. I thought the God of the Bible was a jerk, not that I thought He existed, and I thought people spouting bible was at me where just irrational and their arguments were fallacious.

    So I don’t know what your definition of an atheist is but Narf to question if I was really ever an atheist is no different then me telling an atheist they were never really a Christian either. Try not to commit the genetic fallacy here Narf, I was an atheist who became a theist.

    BTW what is your logical foundation for atheism? Please enlighten me.

    Thanks

    Erik

  63. unfogged says

    The logical foundation for atheism is the complete lack of any credible evidence supporting the theist position. Arguments from authority, ignorance, and popularity are not compelling and arguments from personal experience, no matter how compelling for the individual, can’t be distinguished from delusion by an outside observer. There simply is no actual evidence for a god, let alone one with the many specific attributes ascribed to the Christian god.

    You said that you believe prayer works. In what sense? It has benefits for the person doing the praying similar to those found in meditation in that relaxing, clearing the mind, and collecting your thoughts has value. It has no demonstrable external effect above that produced by random chance. “Believing” can be a powerful personal motivator but that doesn’t make what is believed true.

  64. Narf says

    and ask what my logical foundation was,

    Well I thought the Bible was bullshit and a circular argument that was unsupported by the evidence of the natural world (science) and logic. I thought the God of the Bible was a jerk, not that I thought He existed, and I thought people spouting bible was at me where just irrational and their arguments were fallacious.

    The Bible is unsupported by evidence from the natural world and logic. Forget being scientifically correct, which it’s not. The Bible isn’t even historically correct.

    There are major problems in the Gospels, with the census … which didn’t happen the way it was told in the Bible … with kings not lining up the way it says they did. The stories were made up by people, long after the fact. We get incorrect blending of events, as you would expect from a story told by someone who was not an eyewitness to the events and was trying very hard to seem to be.

    The Old Testament is even worse. The Jews were never in Egypt, and everything before that is just ludicrous.

    God isn’t just a dick. He’s incompetent. Read your own freaking holy book. The Old Testament reads like a comedy of errors, with your short-sighted, weak, boastful god repeatedly trying to make the world and humans in a certain way and screwing it up at every turn. The god of the Bible is neither omniscient nor omnipotent, and he sure as hell isn’t benevolent.

    So I don’t know what your definition of an atheist is but Narf to question if I was really ever an atheist is no different then me telling an atheist they were never really a Christian either. Try not to commit the genetic fallacy here Narf, I was an atheist who became a theist.

    I wasn’t committing any sort of fallacy, in offering the possibility of you never being a real atheist. I was being charitable. Did you not notice the either/or construction?

    The alternative is that you’re too gullible for polite company, if you’re not lying to us in some way. Did you fall for the bullshit scholarship of people like “Doctor” William Lane Craig, Lee Strobel, and Josh McDowell, rather than turning to real scholars? They also claim to have once been skeptics or atheists, before discovering the solid evidence of the Bible … then go on to demonstrate that they know nothing of either skepticism or atheism. Everything I’ve read by you so far doesn’t come across as much more truthful than their conversion stories.

    BTW what is your logical foundation for atheism? Please enlighten me.

    Initially, when I was 5 or 6, it was the exposure to Greek and Norse mythology. When the people in church started telling me stories out of the Bible, I recognized them for what they are: mythology. I didn’t even realize that they expected me to take the stories as fact, for several years. What’s wrong with your analysis, that you’re not able to comprehend what I grasped at such a young age?

    When I got older, it was reinforced by … well … fucking everything. We now know what causes people to talk to God and be possessed by demons: schizophrenia or some other dissociative personality disorder. We’ve discovered a great deal about the pre-human and early-human state of the earth and our early culture. It all flies completely in the face of the myths of the Bible. We’ve tested prayer, and it doesn’t do shit, any more than a sugar pill does.

    On top of that, your god allows millions of frauds to commit their crimes in his name. No god who gives a shit would allow himself to be used in such a way, when he would strike people dead for the least slight, in Biblical times. Your myths are not just false; they’re also completely incoherent.

    Your fellow Christians can’t even string together a valid, sound, logical argument for a deistic god, never mind the god of their holy book. The whole mass of crap fails on almost every level.

  65. steele says

    Narf,

    Thank you for responding about your logical foundations, I was curious about that. I do want to address one thing you mention, not to be argumentative but again out of curiosity.

    you say:

    “The alternative is that you’re too gullible for polite company, if you’re not lying to us in some way. Did you fall for the bullshit scholarship of people like “Doctor” William Lane Craig, Lee Strobel, and Josh McDowell, rather than turning to real scholars? They also claim to have once been skeptics or atheists, before discovering the solid evidence of the Bible … then go on to demonstrate that they know nothing of either skepticism or atheism. Everything I’ve read by you so far doesn’t come across as much more truthful than their conversion stories.”

    LOL, Thanks for the charity I suppose I could be too gullible for polite society, I am pretty socially inept. That aside I can understand if you have always not believed that any conversion story will sound like BS, so mine is no different I guess but it doesn’t mean it isn’t true.

    As far as the Craig, Strobel, and McDowell. I have read a little of them all but that was after I became a Christian they didn’t have that much to do with it. I would say the New Testament and Pascal were definitely more influential on me anyway. I am interested in what scholars you would suggest….please don’t say Dawkins, Stenger, and Hitchens as I am already familiar with their work. Seriously though if you have some suggestions I would enjoy looking into them, I try to be open minded and fair.

    Thanks

  66. Narf says

    Pascal’s Wager? Seriously? :D That is one of the weakest arguments out there. Why would you chose Christianity, based upon Pascal’s Wager? Islam seems to be the way to go. They have a much better heaven than the Christians. Hanging out in Heaven, praising a megalomaniac eternally seems like a really shitty way to spend the eons. I’d rather take the virgins.

    I do appreciate your self-effacing/self-abusive streak, by the way. I tend to go that route, when I’m not on the attack.

    Dawkins and Hitchens are more for people who are on the fence, already leaning towards atheism. I wouldn’t suggest them first, although a few, like Leo Behe (Michael Behe’s kid), were broken away from their religious indoctrination by Dawkins.

    Definitely not Hitchens. Reading his stuff is like atheist porn, if you get what I mean. You have to already have a bit of an anti-religious streak, or you won’t like his writing at all.

    Hell, why would I even put them forward as scholars? Dawkins is a biologist; Stenger is a physicist; and Hitchens was a journalist. I would never point anyone to them, for biblical scholarship.

    I’m a fan of Steve Shives. His channel is at http://www.youtube.com/user/stevelikes2curse/videos?flow=grid&view=1. That link is to his playlist page. He’s done a fantastic job of ripping apart Lee Strobel, C.S. Lewis, William Lane Craig, Norman Geisler, and Frank Turek, demonstrating what weak arguments they make.

    He’s currently ripping apart Josh McDowell’s best-known book, and he also did one by Rick Warren. Rick Warren doesn’t really count, though, since that book was just a Christian inspirational book, not apologetics, despite the half-assed, brief mention by Warren of attempting to appeal to unbelievers.

    Just look at the “An Atheist Reads …” playlists on that page. They’re a very fun and entertaining listen, if you have a few dozen hours to burn. Hell, you said you’re socially inept, so you should have your evenings and weekends free. :)

    If you want real Biblical scholarship, you should go to Bart Ehrman, Richard Carrier, Robert Price, and others who aren’t fundamentalist nuts. They’ll demonstrate to you what a contradictory, mismatching mess the New Testament is. Hell, half of Paul’s letters are forgeries, and the Gospels were not written by Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Those names were slapped onto the anonymous Gospels, at a later date.

    Biblical scholars tend to come in two flavors: fundamentalists who bring their infallible preconception to their biblical studies, who find what they expect to find, because they warp their conclusions to fit their preconceptions … and atheists. There’s very little middle ground. That should tell you something.

    Hell, Ehrman started as a fundamentalist Christian, but his honest examination of the Biblical record eventually broke through that and exposed it to him as the made-up crap that it is. My own father went to Catholic seminary but dropped out part way through, after he learned too much about the Bible and the history of the church. I suspect that he only kept up the pretense because of his parents and my mother.

  67. says

    Narf said:

    Hanging out in Heaven, praising a megalomaniac eternally seems like a really shitty way to spend the eons. I’d rather take the virgins.

    Sounds great, until you stop to think about it: if a guy can barely please ONE woman, why would he want 69 pissed off women glaring at him? ALTHOUGH, I suppose that’s that’s what the ‘virgins’ bit is all about: they wouldn’t have anything to go on, by way of comparison…

    In fact, I’m betting that’s EXACTLY what drives the whole “no sex before marriage” policy: it’s all about protecting the male’s fragile ego within a misogynistic culture.

    If you want real Biblical scholarship, you should go to Bart Ehrman, Richard Carrier, Robert Price, and others who aren’t fundamentalist nuts. They’ll demonstrate to you what a contradictory, mismatching mess the New Testament is. Hell, half of Paul’s letters are forgeries, and the Gospels were not written by Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Those names were slapped onto the anonymous Gospels, at a later date.

    Erik, I’d also recommend Reza Aslan’s latest, “Jesus: Zealot” to the list. It’s an easy read, but the guy can present in a manner that’s very accessible and is a good intro to Judaism in 1st CE. Also good is Elaine Pagel’s “The Gnostic Gospels”, an interesting account of the battles between the Gnostics (with all their various sub-groups) and the orthodox Xian believers who eventually won the battle in determining what the Bible that you hold in your hand today actually says. Both are easily-accessible, entry-level reading.

    If you want to get into Bible scholarship, I enjoy reading the likes of John Van Seters, Milgrom, and if you want to get in still deeper to learn about other ancient cultures, I’d recommend looking at RB Orian’s “The Origins of European Thought”, a fascinating study from 1940’s that looks at how ancient men conceived of themselves, their World, the soul vs spirit, etc. thru an examination of ancient documents. Thomas McEvilley’s “The Shape of Ancient Thought” examines the influence of the Far East on Early Judaism, explaining why Jesus seems like a Buddha (answer: Zoroasterian influence was injected (syncretized) into Judaism after the Persians conquered the Babylonians in 587BC).

    As far as New Testament frauds go, the book of 2nd Peter was the last to be accepted in the Canon, and without doubt is NOT written by the Apostle Peter, but another unknown early Christian. I’ve written a few articles on my blog discussing the obvious errors in 2nd Peter, eg misreading the portrait of Lot in Genesis and declaring his as “righteous”, something that the author of Genesis went out of his way to avoid! I wrote another article on 2nd Peter’s questionable claim that Noah was a preacher of righteousness, when the Genesis account reveals exactly WHY God picked him for the job (to enforce the new “no bloodshed” law after the Flood).

    I recently finished an article on the mess Paul left behind by missing the point of the Cain and Abel account, misreading Cain’s punishment of manslaughter with lax punishment of murder due to the absence of “blood for blood” justice (lex talionis), as was required under later Mosaic Law.

    My blog:

    http:www.awgue.weebly.com

    Regards,

    Adam

  68. steele says

    Narf,

    Thank you for the recommendations, I will definitely check them out. I didn’t know about Michael Behe’s son that is interesting.

    As far as Pascal goes, its not so much the Wager but his work the Pensees, even if you don’t agree with him it is a good read, you can get it for free here:

    http://www.ccel.org/ccel/pascal/pensees.html

    I do understand your position about the Bible and God, I really was there once. People living to 900 years old, floating axe heads, blood sacrifices, etc… I understand how these can be unbelievable and absurd to someone and I don’t pretend to understand them all but just like when I was learning Mathematics, sometimes I wouldn’t understand a problem and I would come back to it later and solve it or it would make more sense, I find that in the Bible as well but it could be me just trying to rationalize my Faith in my head. Like I told Tracie I just find myself believing despite myself sometimes, I can’t really explain it all but by the grace of God I am what I am.

    I want to leave you with something Pascal says:

    We know truth, not only by the reason, but also by the heart, and it is in this last
    way that we know first principles; and reason, which has no part in it, tries in vain to impugn
    them. The sceptics, who have only this for their object, labour to no purpose. We know that
    we do not dream, and, however impossible it is for us to prove it by reason, this inability
    demonstrates only the weakness of our reason, but not, as they affirm, the uncertainty of
    all our knowledge. For the knowledge of first principles, as space, time, motion, number, is
    as sure as any of those which we get from reasoning. And reason must trust these intuitions
    of the heart, and must base them on every argument. (We have intuitive knowledge of the
    tri-dimensional nature of space and of the infinity of number, and reason then shows that
    there are no two square numbers one of which is double of the other. Principles are intuited,
    propositions are inferred, all with certainty, though in different ways.) And it is as useless
    and absurd for reason to demand from the heart proofs of her first principles, before admitting
    them, as it would be for the heart to demand from reason an intuition of all demonstrated
    propositions before accepting them.

    This inability ought, then, to serve only to humble reason, which would judge all, but
    not to impugn our certainty, as if only reason were capable of instructing us. Would to God,
    on the contrary, that we had never need of it, and that we knew everything by instinct and
    intuition! But nature has refused us this boon. On the contrary, she has given us but very
    little knowledge of this kind; and all the rest can be acquired only by reasoning.
    Therefore, those to whom God has imparted religion by intuition are very fortunate
    and justly convinced. But to those who do not have it, we can give it only by reasoning,
    waiting for God to give them spiritual insight, without which faith is only human and useless
    for salvation.

  69. Corwyn says

    “I do understand your position about the Bible and God, I really was there once. People living to 900 years old, floating axe heads, blood sacrifices, etc…”

    It is even these absurdities. None of it makes sense, or is morally uplifting, or even pleasant.

    I want to leave you with something Pascal says:

    We know truth, not only by the reason, but also by the heart, and it is in this last
    way that we know first principles; and reason, which has no part in it, tries in vain to impugn
    them.

    Subsequently, we have discovered that this is just factually incorrect. The heart pumps blood.

    The sceptics, who have only this for their object, labour to no purpose. We know that
    we do not dream, and, however impossible it is for us to prove it by reason, this inability
    demonstrates only the weakness of our reason, but not, as they affirm, the uncertainty of
    all our knowledge.

    Goobledegook. We don’t dream? Then why do we even have a word for it?

    For the knowledge of first principles, as space, time, motion, number, is
    as sure as any of those which we get from reasoning. And reason must trust these intuitions
    of the heart, and must base them on every argument.

    Wouldn’t Pascal be surprised that reason has now shown the ‘heart’ to be wrong about all those first principles that he thought he knew so well.

    (We have intuitive knowledge of the tri-dimensional nature of space and of the infinity of number,…Principles are intuited, propositions are inferred, all with certainty, though in different ways.)

    Again, all those have been overthrown by reason. Oh well.

    And it is as useless and absurd for reason to demand from the heart proofs of her first principles, before admitting them, as it would be for the heart to demand from reason an intuition of all demonstrated
    propositions before accepting them.

    Useless and absurd because the heart never knew them, and when reason went out and looked, it found the the heart was wrong.

    Stick to math, Pascal.

  70. Cambo says

    “If every trace of any single religion died out and nothing were passed on, it would never be created exactly that way again. There might be some other nonsense in its place, but not that exact nonsense. If all of science were wiped out, it would still be true and someone would find a way to figure it all out again.”
    -Penn Jillette

  71. Narf says

    Sounds great, until you stop to think about it: if a guy can barely please ONE woman, why would he want 69 pissed off women glaring at him? ALTHOUGH, I suppose that’s that’s what the ‘virgins’ bit is all about: they wouldn’t have anything to go on, by way of comparison…

    In fact, I’m betting that’s EXACTLY what drives the whole “no sex before marriage” policy: it’s all about protecting the male’s fragile ego within a misogynistic culture.

    Still sounds better than the Christian heaven. :D

    Besides, I’m not pushing for 72 virgins (I think you got stuck on 70); that’s just the package deal that was offered. I’d be happy with half a dozen or a dozen. Even then, they’d better all be bisexual, so that they can sort out some of their sexual needs with the help of the others. I’d like to have time to do something else in the afterlife, besides have sex all the time. I don’t think the people who came up with the concept thought it through fully.

    I don’t have a particular preference, one way or the other, on the virgin part. Although, my understanding is that the houris in that afterlife are some sort of spirit women specifically created to reward the martyr, so I guess there’s no reason for them not to be virgins. *shrug* Besides, I don’t mind teaching them stuff.

  72. Narf says

    I do understand your position about the Bible and God, I really was there once. People living to 900 years old, floating axe heads, blood sacrifices, etc…

    No, you weren’t where I am. I feel insulted by the comparison. You may have been an atheist, but you weren’t (and obviously still aren’t) a critical or rational thinker of any sort.

    I would require traumatic brain-damage before I could say to myself, “Well, all that has been discovered by archaeology and anthropology has not discovered anything to indicate that humans lived much longer than they do now, but this book of myths says that humans lived for hundreds of years, about 3,000 or 4,000 years ago. So, I guess the book of myths is right, and all of the evidence is wrong.”

    That is such a grotesque failure of reasoning that I don’t even know where to begin with you. You don’t have the first clue about what constitutes good evidence.

    I understand how these can be unbelievable and absurd to someone and I don’t pretend to understand them all but just like when I was learning Mathematics, sometimes I wouldn’t understand a problem and I would come back to it later and solve it or it would make more sense, I find that in the Bible as well but it could be me just trying to rationalize my Faith in my head. Like I told Tracie I just find myself believing despite myself sometimes, I can’t really explain it all but by the grace of God I am what I am.

    Your comparison with mathematics is such a crap analogy. With mathematics, there’s a solid, structured method for how it works. With religion, there’s a bunch of obfuscation and deliberately bad wording, which you need to twist around in your head until it makes some sense to you … which you might eventually make, when you’re bombarded with sufficient emotional manipulation, such as the love-bombing that some Christian cults to with new members, coupled with the perpetual threat of hell. Religious conversion is the opposite of learning about mathematics.

    I want to leave you with something Pascal says:

    And you can stop right there. I didn’t make it more than one sentence into the quoted material, before I saw something that was complete bullshit. When a passage begins that way, I feel safe dropping the rest of it.

    You have the same problem as the guy, Rocket, that we had here, a few posts back. Everything you’re saying is wrapped up in a logical fallacy … often the argument from authority, as is the case here.

    When we quote Dawkins or Hitchens, as you offered as an example, we quote them because they made a good argument. The arguments stand and fall on their own, though. Steve Shives, who I mentioned in my previous comment, has made a few bad arguments in his videos, and when he does, I rip him apart for it. When Dawkins says something stupid, as he has, the atheist community jumps all over him for it.

    Pascal did a lot of brilliant work with mathematics. A lot of his other work was a little less than brilliant. A great deal of it was pretty stupid.

    Same with Newton. He did some brilliant work in the field of physics. Does that also mean we should accept the extensive work he did in the field of alchemy? … because he was absolutely obsessed with alchemy, even though it was a huge step backwards, even for his time period.

    Both of these men were very religious. That’s just one of the many areas in which they were wrong. When you make a good argument, it stands on its own. When you push forward a bunch of fuzzy thinking and poorly-worded slush, expecting it to stand unchallenged, based upon your previous good arguments, you should get ripped a new one for it.

  73. steele says

    Narf,

    Oh yes, please tell me again how irrational I am, lol. Enlighten me with your rationality! I always find it funny when atheists charge Christians with emotional responses when I find atheists are some have some of the most emotional laden drivel about things out there. I am glad you are the final authority on what is rational and what is not Narf.

    “Sir, a+b^n/n=x, hence God exists—reply!”

    “We do not require great education of the mind to understand that here is no real and lasting satisfaction; that our pleasures are only vanity; that our evils are infinite; and, lastly, that death, which threatens us every moment, must infallibly place us within a few years under the dreadful necessity of being for ever either annihilated or unhappy. There is nothing more real than this, nothing more terrible. Be we as heroic as we like, that is the end which awaits the world. Let us reflect on this and then say whether it is not beyond doubt that there is no good in this life but in the hope of another; that we are happy only in proportion as we draw near it; and that, as there are no more woes for those who have complete assurance of eternity, so there is no more happiness for those who have no insight into it. Surely then it is a great evil thus to be in doubt, but it is at least an indispensable duty to seek when we are in such doubt; and thus the doubter who does not seek is altogether completely unhappy and completely wrong. And if besides this he is easy and content, professes to be so, and indeed boasts of it; if it is this state itself which is the subject of his joy and vanity, I have no words to describe so silly a creature.

    How can people hold these opinions? What joy can we find in the expectation of nothing but hopeless misery? What reason for boasting that we are in impenetrable darkness? And how can it happen that the following argument occurs to a reasonable man? “I know not who put me into the world, nor what the world is, nor what I myself am. I am in terrible ignorance of everything. I know not what my body is, nor my senses, nor my soul, not even that part of me which thinks what I say, which reflects on all and on itself, and knows itself no more than the rest. I see those frightful spaces of the universe which surround me, and I find myself tied to one corner of this vast expanse, without knowing why I am put in this place rather than in another, nor why the short time which is given me to live is assigned to me at this point rather than at another of the whole eternity which was before me or which shall come after me. I see nothing but infinites on all sides, which surround me as an atom and as a shadow which endures only for an instant and returns no more. All I know is that I must soon die, but what I know least is this very death which I cannot escape.”

    One day Narf you will wake up and see what a passion driven, weak, and in my opinion sad creatures us humans, including yourself, really are maybe that will humble your reason and pride so you will call upon God for forgiveness but until that day you will remain blind and in darkness.

    Read Romans 1 there Narf you are without excuse no matter what excuses you choose to find.

  74. Narf says

    Read Romans 1 there Narf you are without excuse no matter what excuses you choose to find.

    This is exactly the sort is inanity I was talking about. It makes me suspect that you were never an atheist. If you were actually an ex-atheist, as you claim, you would know how worthless quoting Bible verses at us is.

    And no, I’m not making a no-true-Scotsman fallacy, claiming that you were not a real atheist. It makes me suspect that you’re lying to us, flat out. I suspect that you’re a poser. If you’re not lying about that point, then you’re just a fool who can’t even remember how he used to think.

    We’ve had this problem for a while, with evangelists mimicking Lee Strobel’s and Josh McDowell’s pitches which involved some song and dance about having been an atheist and a skeptic. One of the evangelistic techniques they teach involves claiming understanding of the position of whoever you’re preaching at, no matter how untrue it might be. “I was just like you, and then I found Jesus …”
    It’s dishonest bullshit. I’ve had some evangelists who are so inept at it that they claim understanding of my position before I’ve even explained my position.

    On top of that, that section is a particularly useless bit to quote at us. Any of the verses that go something along the lines of “God has put the knowledge of himself into us, so no one is without excuse,” are about the most idiotic sort of thing you could preach to an atheist.

    What’s the evidence I have that that isn’t true? My own mind. I know God didn’t put knowledge of himself into me, because it isn’t there.

  75. says

    Indeed, I have yet to meet a suppose ex atheist who approaches us the way an ex atheist would–with reason. But then how can they, when the position is unreasonable?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>