“I think we were worth it”: Arguing About Religion


Is arguing with religious believers worth it?

The Secular Student Alliance conference last weekend has left my head buzzing with ideas, which will be filtering out into my writing over the coming days and weeks and probably years. The one I want to talk about today came from Jerry DeWitt, executive director of Recovering from Religion (CORRECTION: it was Keith Lowell Jensen), who gave an answer to this question that’s still echoing in my head.

There’s a talk I sometimes give, called “Resistance Is Not Futile: Is Arguing About Religion Worth It?” (Here’s a video of it.) In it, I make the case that arguing with religious believers is worth it — and give some ideas on how to do it. And when I give this talk, there’s a little interactive exercise that I do. I ask the people in the audience to raise their hands if they’re an atheist. I ask them to keep their hands up if they used to be religious. and then I ask them to keep their hands up if they were persuaded out of their religion — at least in part — by arguments against religion that they read, or saw on YouTube, or heard from their friends, or whatever.

There are always lots of hands still in the air. Proving my point: that arguments against religion can be effective, and are not a waste of time.

At the Secular Student Alliance conference last weekend, Jerry DeWitt (CORRECTION: Keith Lowell Jensen) made very much the same point during his talk — but in a way that was both more succinct, and more powerful.

He was talking about this notion — very prevalent in the atheist community — that arguing with religious believers isn’t worth it.

He asked the audience to raise their hands if they used to believe in religion.

And then he said, “I think we were worth it.”

I think we were worth it.

When this question of arguing about religion comes up, we sometimes see it purely in adversarial terms. As if arguing with people made them the enemy… and as if saying, “I think you’re mistaken and here’s why” were the same as saying, “I think you are stupid and inferior and worthless.”

But I don’t see it that way. When I argue with a believer about religion, I’m not saying, “I think your beliefs make you stupid.” I’m saying, “I think you’re smart enough to get this. I think you’re open-minded enough to be willing to change your mind. I think you’re strong enough to deal with changing your mind about something important.”

I think the atheist community is awesome. Sometimes totally maddening… but awesome. I think becoming an atheist can make your life better… if for no other reason than that it is correct, and a correct understanding of the world makes us better able to cope with it. And most people in the atheist community used to be religious. Many people in the atheist community had their minds changed, at least in part, by arguments against religion. Including me.

I think we were worth it.

Comments

  1. John says

    If it wasn’t for reading atheist arguments against fundamentalist Christianity on the internet about 3 years ago now, I never would have started the path that deconverted my wife and I.

    If it weren’t for that, then the baby we have in a few months would’ve been indoctrinated just like I was as a child.

  2. Loren Petrich says

    I argue because I want to set the record straight.

    That may seem a bit self-centered, however.

  3. mnb0 says

    I don’t care if it’s worth it or not. I think arguing fun, including arguing about religion and especially arguing with creacrappers. The nonsense they produce is sometimes hilarious and I love to expose their silliness.
    But I never have been religious and have never lived in a country with more than 40 percent stupid bigots (if it’s correct that there are that many creacrappers in the States). So religion is not an emotional thing for me.

  4. Mina says

    I was JUST saying this yesterday to a religious co-worker. I said as well that it often isn’t the direct argument that is the point. The person you are speaking to may never change their mind. But the people READING the exchange? They might start thinking.

    That’s a big part of what helps me stay above the impulse to throw in the towel and call some people morons. They are morons, but that’s okay. I don’t have to say it. It shows and people reading will get that, while I keep making careful, rational points.

    (Or so I keep telling myself right before I scream at the monitor and call someone a goat f**ker.)

  5. r3formed says

    I am the exact opposite story. I was a actively devout atheist who was converted to Christianity through research and argument.

    God did just jump in and save me, without all my questions answered right away, but that is a difficult thing to discuss with non believers.

    I really enjoy reading articles like this from atheists. It’s comforting to know not all of you are angry bigots who are just as clouded by ideology as most Christians. Unable to see or accept or even attempt to understand what any opposing view might say. If we only ever talk to people who agree with us how can we expect to learn new ideas and concepts, not that we can’t but if you surround yourself with people that tell you one thing and you never hear anything else…

    I don’t know how many atheist I have talked to who firmly believe that all Christians are either ignorant, dumb, or are just outright deceptive. That is such a ridiculous statement it doesn’t merit a response.

    It has turned into an ideological battle in many cases. Where both sides make ridiculous arguments and base their beliefs on very shaky ground. The Christians making ridiculous statements regarding science and atheists making ridiculous statements about Christianity.

    We could all stand to do a little more research and be a little more open minded.

  6. machintelligence says

    r3formed @5:
    What is an actively devout atheist, exactly? Were you constantly being told “We don’t believe that religious nonsense” and you believed that? I suspect that there is great variability in degree of skepticism between individuals in any population (as there is with any trait.) I was raised as a Lutheran, attended Sunday school and was confirmed, but I cannot recall that I ever truly believed any of it. I quit the church shortly after confirmation. You, on the other hand apparently were born to be a believer. You “devoutly believed” in atheism and then traded that belief for religion. Big deal. That does not make religion true, it just makes it true for you. Next week you might believe in astrology or homeopathy. It sounds a bit condescending, but I feel sorry for people like you because I think they are gullible.

  7. Gregory in Seattle says

    @r3formed #5 – I would be interested in seeing why you selected Christianity and not, say, Islam or Wicca or Asatru or Sikhism or Buddhism or any of the scores of other religions in common use today. How do you know it was the Trinity who “saved” you, and not Ahura Mazda or Brahman or Asat?

    In my experience, very few atheists are “angry bigots” who are “clouded by ideology.” Most are willing — eager, even — to be persuaded by reasoned argument and rational evidence. With the lack of such reason and rationality, atheism is where we end up.

  8. Kilian Hekhuis says

    “Where both sides make ridiculous arguments and base their beliefs on very shaky ground.” – There’s only one side though, that is right, in a sense that it aligns with reality. I know which side that is, and which side I’m on. It has nothing to do with ideology. It has everything to do with the truth.

  9. fredbloggs says

    r3formed – would you be kind enough enough to outline EXACTLY what research and argument took you from having an absence of belief in a god to believing in a very specific god (or indeed any god at all)

    I have no reason to doubt that you are being genuine, but I just can’t see a path leading from one to another that ever involved “research and argument”. Almost all the committed Christians I have met were either brought up that way (i.e., they had no choice), or claim to have had some form of “religious experience” (which is of course nonsense – people “experience” being kidnapped by aliens, but I suspect you’d give their experience short shrift.)

  10. says

    @r3formed
    Yeah, I too want to know what you could possibly mean by “actively devout atheist”? Were you a Raelian or did you practise ancestor worship or something like that? I can only conclude that you were not ever a rationalist because rationalist atheists (even former ones) would not use the language you do. Not only “devout” as a descriptive adjective for atheism, but the rest of your comment betrays a lack of understanding of the rationalist atheist (hereafter just “atheist”) position.

    Like this:

    It’s comforting to know not all of you are angry bigots

    Um. Yeah. Not many of us are, and most of those are bigoted toward women, not believers. There are some religionists we don’t like, even hate, but that’s not because of their religion, it’s because of what they do because of their religion.

    Unable to see or accept or even attempt to understand what any opposing view might say.

    Most atheists were religious at one time and therefore have a thorough understanding of the opposition.

    I don’t know how many atheist I have talked to who firmly believe that all Christians are either ignorant, dumb, or are just outright deceptive. That is such a ridiculous statement it doesn’t merit a response.

    It’s not ridiculous. It’s the truth. If you are a Christian you are either

    *Deceptive: you know that Christian doctrine isn’t true, but you’re getting something from belonging to the religion whether that’s community, peace within your family, job security, or mansions and fancy cars

    *Dumb: you were indoctrinated as a child or during another vulnerable time in your life and either don’t have the mental capacity or the desire to investigate or evaluate what you were taught

    *Ignorant: you are intelligent, and are only Christian because you don’t yet have the knowledge (biological, historical, cosmological, neurological, archaeological, geological, anthropological, philosophical) that would demonstrate the truth to you.

    This is the whole point of this post. It’s worth arguing about religion because the ignorant are only ignorant because they don’t know better. The more arguments are made, the more information is out there, the more likely someone will be exposed to the information they need to convince them that Christianity (or whatever other religion they subscribe to) is a fiction.

    atheists making ridiculous statements about Christianity

    Such as?

    We could all stand to do a little more research

    You definitely could, but I think I covered it with my graduate degree in the history of Christianity, thanks. (Or am I to hold my breath waiting for some sophisticated theology now?)

    and be a little more open minded.

    Having conviction isn’t a problem when you already have the facts. I’m open minded to new evidence about the truth of Christianity in the same way I’m open minded to new evidence about the shape of the Earth or the heliocentrism of the solar system. If it’s out there, I’m willing to listen and change my mind, but the likelihood of such evidence existing is so tiny that the likelihood itself doesn’t bear consideration.

  11. Kilian Hekhuis says

    “or claim to have had some form of “religious experience” (which is of course nonsense – people “experience” being kidnapped by aliens, but I suspect you’d give their experience short shrift.)” – A religious experience can be very real for those experiencing it, and calling it “nonsense” is calling those who had them liars. I think I get what your saying, viz. that experiences classified as “religious” are not actually triggered by supernatural phenomena; but that doesn’t make them less real for the experiencer, and calling it “nonsense” is therefore not called for. Also, alien abduction “experiences” are caused by false memory, which is something altogether different from an actual experience that classifies as religious.

    In the case of r3formed, I think they were an atheist by upbringing, not by conviction. They were an empty vessel so to speak, instead of one filled with rationality to counter supernatural believes. If they had a personal crisis, they could easily have been triggered by a “suporting” Christian (I hate when they prey on the weak, but that’s a different discussion) to embrace Christianity. I’ve encountered a number of born-again Christians that had similar experiences and “guidance”.

  12. fredbloggs says

    Claiming personal religious experience to be the same as objective truth is “nonsensical” because everyone claims it and claims everyone else is wrong. All religious people claim “personal experience”. They can’t all be right.

    “Also, alien abduction “experiences” are caused by false memory”

    Really? Ah, false memory. As opposed to the “true memory” that people have when they have a “religious experience”?

  13. Chris L. Robinson says

    I got smacked around pretty good some months ago on a science blog for arguing that ridicule shouldn’t be the default position when talking to believers. As someone else wrote, I think a lot of people give up on the idea that people might change their minds and so they ‘throw in the towel” and abandon attempting to be persuasive. EVERYTHING is accommodationism to some people. But if you see religion as the means used by the the wicked to justify their crimes, I can see why it would all seem futile. I really think that many of the faithful are good people, fearful of losing their moral footing if they examine, or worse, abandon their religious beliefs. So they take the good (love thy neighbor) with the bad (but not if he’s gay). They don’t necessarily like it, “But God said!”.

    I say, “No, he didn’t. Let’s talk about it.” [Actually, he kinda did, but he said (and did) so many other things that even his followers reject that I just argue we should throw this one on that pile, too.

  14. Kilian Hekhuis says

    Claiming personal religious experience to be the same as objective truth is “nonsensical” because everyone claims it and claims everyone else is wrong. All religious people claim “personal experience”. They can’t all be right.

    Perhaps we are arguing with different definitions of “religious experience”. What I mean by it, is an actual experience (say, the sun coming up over a mountain top, displaying it’s golden rays one of which happens to touch the Mary statue making her bathe in golden light) and interpreting it as a supernatural phenomenon (“God sent me a message to turn my life around”). So the experience is real (there was an objective trigger), but the interpretation of it is religious, and therefore false. But the “religious experience” in itself is real, in so far as both the experience is real (actual sensory input etc.) and the interpretation of it being religious is real (the experiencer’s brain actually interpreted it that way). It is a wrong interpretation, but a real one.

    Really? Ah, false memory. As opposed to the “true memory” that people have when they have a “religious experience”?

    False memory in that no actual abduction event took place, and the recollection of it is therefore false, even if real. That’s the difference with the religious experience, which is as I argued above a real experience. When someone has a religious experience, they could even sit next to you, explaining their interpretation of what you both see; “same data, different interpretation”. But since there are no actual abductions, it’ll never happen someone tells you, in your presence, they are being abducted right now.

  15. FredBloggs says

    I’m sure that there are many kinds of religious experience, and I’m sure that many (although probably not all) do not arise from objectively true incidents. People see Jesus, Mary, God, hear voices, “feel the presence” etc, and in this sense they are no different from alien abductions.

  16. machintelligence says

    From Paul Krassner, in “Realist” magazine ca 1965: I went on my eleventh LSD trip yesterday, I saw God, otherwise it was nothing.
    *Not an exact quote but pretty accurate.
    So much for religious experiences.

  17. vel says

    on a forum I used to be on, the powers that be on it decided that no one could agressively challenge the theists who came onto it, that they had to be handled with kid gloves since some of they “felt bad” when they were asked to support their claims. They refused to allow theists to be called liars when they repeatedly made the same unsupported claim and refused to acknowledge that they were wrong.

    To call someone is a liar is strong, but it does get someone’s attention and no one likes to be called one; in any other venue the person would do all they could to avoid it. Saying someone is mistaken is not wrong, nor is callign them a liar when they are. To avoid such words is doing no more than trying to appease theists to make them think that atheists are harmless. I am not harmless and I am indeed worth the effort to counter such nonsense.

    Now, when someone does try to repeatedly lie, to assume that such ineptness will work, then there is a good reason to think that they are stupid or at best willfully ignorant.

  18. Barbara_K says

    Greta – reading this post reminds me of our very brief conversation on this very topic at last year’s rapture RAM, and I so regret not being able to stick around once the party started, to talk about it some more. I don’t think I’m going to argue anyone out of their beliefs, but even if the person I’m arguing with doesn’t end up agreeing with me, it hopefully at least gives both of us more experience in actually questioning our positions – and if even one of them ends up having the same sort of positive, freeing experience I had when losing my faith, then that’s icing on the cake.

    The thing that’s really nice about making these arguments publicly, in videos and in blogs and forums, is that the arguments can been seen and heard by more than just the people involved or present when the conversations are actually happening. It can be a bit tricky to ask questions about a subject that’s so fraught with declarations of religious concepts as personal identity. Observing the conversations and hearing responses to questions with no risk of endangering personal relationships can help people, who may have otherwise just shied away from engaging anyone on these topics out of fear, explore the questions they have.

    And I am very glad that there are so many people participating in these conversations, who felt that I was worth it. While I wasn’t argued out of faith, I’m much more comfortable with tackling difficult questions because of all the content related to rules of arguments and logical fallacies that other atheists have contributed. I’m actually in my first ever long online conversation with a Christian, who had a question about an atheist perspective, and think that even if they just come away with some assumptions about atheists challenged, it’s worth it.

    But – yes, it would be even nicer if they dropped their faith. Hearing about their deeply sinful nature and need for salvation is really disturbing, now that I’m years removed from that framework. I would really hope for them that they’re able to shed that horrible psychological straitjacket.

  19. Bruce Gorton says

    Kilian Hekhuis

    One of the important things to remember is that we all see the world with human brains – we do not see it as it actually is, but as it is modelled by our minds.

    This perceptual weakness is part of what fuels newspaper games like “Spot the difference.” Our brains cannot quite process reality as it actually is, it can only process enough of it to be useful to us.

    And it is buggy software. We see things that aren’t there, feel things that aren’t touching us, hear things that don’t exist etc…

    We are all, in some way, a little bit insane because true sanity would require more processing power than our brains can actually deliver.

    Thus we need a means of sorting out whether our perceptions are true or nonsense. We simplify our perceptions, use evidence, logic and to some extent the perception of others, to help us sort out the divide.

    The thing with a religious experience is, in my experience at least, it is never something that can be verified using evidence or logic. There is no real sense to it, because there is no filter against all the bugs that come with our perceptual framework.

    Thus I would argue that religious experience, even as they are experienced with utmost sincerity, are in fact nonsense. Personal experience doesn’t amount to a hill of beans because there is no filter that has been applied to it.

  20. rork says

    It is because I am a missionary that I call myself an atheist rather than an agnostic.
    It is because I think it will change the world for the better that I am a missionary.

    PS: I’ve met theists whose moral calculations (and reading of the bible) are indistinguishable from my own (except they are considerably more learned about that book). I worry that some atheists think such people don’t exist.

  21. albiefarinas says

    As a matter of policy, I do not debate the religious…. I find it impossible to debate the religious without belittle-ling, ridiculing and casting insulting mockery upon them…. I know that many in the religious community are well meaning and I try to respect that, however, when discussing religious assertions, I just can’t help myself….. I just can’t… Therefore, I keep the old adage in mind… “… If you try to teach a pig to sing, you will waste your time and irritate the pig….” No thank you, thank you, but no….. I was not converted to atheism, my indoctrination into religion just didn’t take, my family and the Catholics could not persuade me and in the end they were unable to beat it into me….

  22. Greta Christina says

    Therefore, I keep the old adage in mind… “… If you try to teach a pig to sing, you will waste your time and irritate the pig….”

    albiefarinas @ #21: Religious believers are not pigs. Religious believers are human beings with a mistaken and harmful idea.

    If you never believed in religion, good for you. But your experience is not universal. Lots of people do believe. And lots of atheists used to believe, and had their minds changed, at least in part, by arguments made by atheists.

    If you can’t debate the religious without belittle-ling, ridiculing and casting insulting mockery upon them, then I agree that you probably shouldn’t do it. But I would ask you to reconsider whether the general attitude you seem to have towards believers is reflective of reality — and whether it’s ethical.

  23. Gregory in Seattle says

    @Greta #22 – I agree with your statement quite strongly, but I think you mistook a proverb for a literal statement. If it makes any difference, my dad’s family (mostly German/Prussian) uses a similar proverb about trying to teach a bear to dance.

  24. Rod says

    I was raised Baptist (Conservative Baptist denomination), and I was a believer until sometime in high school, but I became an unbeliever simply by looking at what the church taught as compared to what I observed, combined with too much reading the bible myself. Later, when I married, I tried to be a Missouri Synod Lutheran – but failed. (Since divorced)

    I’ve had a few arguments, over the years, but I rarely do so. I’ve found it causes distress, and I don’t like doing that.

    Understand, while I have quite liberal views, and embrace free thought, I live a quite conservative lifestyle. I’m reserved, but kind. I’ll help you if I can. And I don’t expect others to have my views.

    Most of the time, if religion comes up, I simply state I don’t believe. If it’s a new-agey thing, I say I’m not spiritual. I’m always met with a sort of deer-in-headlights look. Seems people just expect I believe like they do. I like to think that just learning I don’t is challenge enough. I’m not someone easily dismissed as fringe-y.

    Thing is, there’s lots and lots of people like me, at least in my experience. Many still go to church, not regularly, but to keep peace with family members. Thankfully, I don’t have to do that, anymore.

    While I agree that the arguments are worth making, I’m not willing to be the one arguing. If someone wants to hear it – well, that’s a different thing. But I value the people willing to stand up and make the arguments.

    That makes me a weak-stick, I know. But that’s the choice I make, at this time.

  25. Greta Christina says

    I agree with your statement quite strongly, but I think you mistook a proverb for a literal statement. If it makes any difference, my dad’s family (mostly German/Prussian) uses a similar proverb about trying to teach a bear to dance.

    Gregory in Seattle @ #23: Yes, I’m familiar with the proverb. But I think the intent behind the proverb is somewhat patronizing. If the rest of the comment hadn’t been dripping with condescension, though, I might not have bothered to say anything.

    While I agree that the arguments are worth making, I’m not willing to be the one arguing. If someone wants to hear it – well, that’s a different thing. But I value the people willing to stand up and make the arguments.

    That makes me a weak-stick, I know. But that’s the choice I make, at this time.

    Rod @ #24: I don’t think it makes you a weak-stick. I don’t think everyone has to engage in these arguments; I think we should do whatever form of activism we enjoy and are good at. I have no problem at all with atheists who don’t want to argue about religion with believers. I just have a problem when atheists try to argue other atheists out of doing so, on the grounds that it never works and isn’t worth it.

  26. carlie says

    I think if I had been in the audience when that happened I would have teared up a bit.

    Thank you for relating that idea to us.

  27. fredbloggs says

    I think most skeptics don’t seek to cause offense, but when engaging with someone who has deeply-help beliefs, just questioning those beliefs almost invariably causes offense.

    Ultimately, we all have to make our own mind up about what is a reasonable approach. I personally have no problem causing offense, if I believe my position is a reasonable one.

    And it’s not as if theists are a persecuted minority.

    They are given tax breaks and a voice in the public sphere that is totally disproportional. The BBC Radio program “Thought for the day” for example, has rarely had a atheist/humanist make a contribution, despite the fact that 35-40% of Brits “Do not believe in god”.

  28. r3formed says

    I will provide definitions since some of you seem to need it.

    Actively- in a manner involving great or constant activity

    Devout- firm in one’s allegiance to someone or something

    Atheist- one who believes that there is no deity

    Is that helpful? I understand your aversion to the word “devout” but no better word applies to my spreading of the atheist gospel for 22 years of my life. I’ll go ahead and state your arguments for you (just being helpful):

    See you cant have possibly been an atheist since you use religious language to describe rational atheists.

    Well in your opinion sure, fine, whatevs bra,but I’m not using religious language as much as language of belief. ATHEISM IS A BELIEF SYSTEM! I wouldn’t go so far as to say the Red Sox fan mentioned in the above definition is religious but he is devout and had hope. You must believe, not know, that there is no God because you cant prove it at all. Not through any of the following means that were suggested, biological, historical, cosmological, neurological, archaeological, geological, anthropological, philosophical. It is simply not possible and I welcome any true verifiable evidence to the contrary.

    It would take much more time, even though it is a ridiculous question, to outline EXACTLY (really? can you outline exactly what made you believe that there is no God succinctly and without using language of belief) what changed my mind. What began the process was a question from a christian that I couldn’t explain. The historical(!) evidence for Jesus was one piece that proved instrumental to my rational decision towards Christianity. It did not save me though and it will not save you.

    I literally was laughing when I read your post ibis you contradict yourself and only illustrate my point.

    “Um. Yeah. Not many of us are, and most of those are bigoted toward women, not believers. There are some religionists we don’t like, even hate, but that’s not because of their religion, it’s because of what they do because of their religion.”

    you then follow that (if we were speaking you would have said this in the same breath they are so close)with;

    “It’s not ridiculous. It’s the truth. If you are a Christian you are either

    *Deceptive: you know that Christian doctrine isn’t true, but you’re getting something from belonging to the religion whether that’s community, peace within your family, job security, or mansions and fancy cars

    *Dumb: you were indoctrinated as a child or during another vulnerable time in your life and either don’t have the mental capacity or the desire to investigate or evaluate what you were taught

    *Ignorant: you are intelligent, and are only Christian because you don’t yet have the knowledge (biological, historical, cosmological, neurological, archaeological, geological, anthropological, philosophical) that would demonstrate the truth to you.

    This is the whole point of this post. It’s worth arguing about religion because the ignorant are only ignorant because they don’t know better. The more arguments are made, the more information is out there, the more likely someone will be exposed to the information they need to convince them that Christianity (or whatever other religion they subscribe to) is a fiction.”

    That sure sounds like an angry bigot who opposes Christians for their religion not what they do with it like you said. I am a hypocrite as well so its ok bud. It seems to be a function of human nature. Churches are full of hypocrites and I feel so at home with them.

    The most ridiculous statements made by atheists regarding Christianity is the evolution of religion. There is about as much science in that theory as in the ancient alien theory. does that satisfy your such as? i wouldn’t expect people like you to be aware of the ridiculous ideas you may have because your belief system clouds your mind (like rose covered glasses).

    A graduate degree in the history of Christianity? Really? So you teach right? ’cause what the hell else could you do with that! I am a pilot and a doctor and the president of Russia myself but i would hope professors and other scholars would be of the mind to be constantly learning but that’s just me. You obviously are an expert and know everything there is to know and don’t need to learn anymore. Hey ummm what school do you teach at because I never want to send my children there. They must make horrible hiring decisions and I would prefer them to be taught by humble people with a passion for learning. Oh and how is it open minded to only desire things that coincide with your beliefs? Your last statement illustrates your close-mindedness.

    I was also stunned at all the assumptions made about my upbringing. I like how I cant possibly be rational since I’m a christian. I hope that all the incorrect assumptions made about my life isn’t indicative of how you draw all of your conclusions. If so Lord help us.

    None of you were right by the way. I must be a Raelian or something though right? lol

    You all are constructing a straw man. Burn it though, it comforts you in a way religion comforts people, so so gullible though…

    Religious experience is not a good evidence of faith. The bible tells us to test ourselves against the scripture to see if we are in the faith not to expect some burning in the bosom, or light shining on Mary.

    It would do you good to actually read the bible before making argument against Christianity that do not coincide with beliefs expressed in the bible. I’m not talking about what people believe and practice but what it actually says. I was raised in a home that was “christian” but none of the things we believed or practiced were biblical simply dogmatic which is why I turned because it was so clearly opposed to facts and truth.

    The thing is we probably agree on a lot more than you think and I know that I am a rarity and in most instances all your statement would be correct regarding religious people. There are rational Christians out there though! We are just few and that’s sad.

  29. fredbloggs says

    r3formed, let me correct one of your definitions:

    “Atheist- one who believes that there is no deity”

    should read

    “Atheist – one who does not believe in gods”

    “Atheism – absence of belief in gods”

    NOT

    “One who believes in the absence of gods.”

    It’s an important distinction, and one that theists often get wrong, as you yourself have done. Atheism is not a belief system, is the ABSENCE of certain belief systems.

  30. r3formed says

    Its Merriam-Websters definition.

    Where did you get yours?

    And I understand what you are saying but it is, as you said, and absence of a belief in gods.

    So you believe there is no gods. It is an absence of a belief in gods which in turn is a belief in no gods.

    Can you not see that?

  31. fredbloggs says

    The two statements

    A. I don’t believe X exists

    and

    B. I believe X does not exist

    Are not equivalent.

    Statement A is a statement of fact. i.e., I do not believe. It does not require proof. I KNOW I do not believe

    Statement B is a statement about the universe external to my own mind. You are placing a constraint upon the universe. It has some (in the case of gods) burden of proof, although I would argue it is slight.

    There are varying definitions of what constitutes atheism, but the one thing that is common to ALL atheists, is the absence of belief in gods. Note ABSENCE of belief.

  32. r3formed says

    Note ABSENCE of belief in gods*

    I corrected it for you. You seems to leave the last bit out.

    As you said it is an absence of certain beliefs.

    Your word play doesn’t fly here.

    I know you KNOW but how do you know? Was it a burning in your bosom?

    It is a belief and just becuse you know it doesn’t change that.

    I don’t believe x exists does require proof and I’ll show you how.

    Why?

    Now you have to explain why you don’t believe which wil be your belief system.

    I believe the sun will come up tomorrow because of science. Just because it’s true doesn’t mean it isn’t a belief.

  33. fredbloggs says

    It’s not just word play. Absence of belief is NOT belief.

    I’m also interested in your claim that you became a Christian through “research and argument” but you fail to describe the nature of either the arguments or the research.

    Exactly what research let you, not just to adopting a religion, but to adopting a SPECIFIC religion? All the arguments for the existence of deities that I’ve previously heard just don’t hold water. What convinced you to become a Christian specifically?

  34. Kilian Hekhuis says

    #15

    and in this sense they are no different from alien abductions.

    Yes, they are both not conforming to the truth. But false memory and hallucination (or wrong interpretation) are different psychological processes, and in that sense they are very different.

  35. Kilian Hekhuis says

    #19

    we all see the world with human brains (…) And it is buggy software

    Heh, the “buggy brain” argument is one I ferquently use when debating with the religious, as about everyone must admit that they can be wrong (“I’m sure I put my keys in the drawer” – only to find them in your pocket) or fooled (illusionists). Too bad most won’t extend that to their perceived prove of god.

    The thing with a religious experience is, in my experience at least, it is never something that can be verified using evidence or logic. (…) Thus I would argue that religious experience, even as they are experienced with utmost sincerity, are in fact nonsense.

    Not every wrong is nonsense. I’m pretty sure that, given someone has a reference framework as a result of religious education, at the moment of the religious experience, their brain actually makes a logical conclusion – it wouldn’t just register any experience as religious. It must fit the framework.

  36. Kilian Hekhuis says

    #28

    ATHEISM IS A BELIEF SYSTEM

    Merriam Webster defines “belief” as:

    1: a state or habit of mind in which trust or confidence is placed in some person or thing

    2: something believed; especially: a tenet or body of tenets held by a group

    3: conviction of the truth of some statement or the reality of some being or phenomenon especially when based on examination of evidence

    Especially the 3rd definition fits most atheists fine. I would say much finer than most religious people.

  37. r3formed says

    “It’s not just word play. Absence of belief is NOT belief.”

    you are now redefining atheism to simply be the absence of belief then and that does not coincide with your previous definition and YOU still have not addressed where you get your definition from.

    Absence of belief would better be defined as nihilism and that is very different than atheism.

    You are adjusting definitions to suit your needs. Don’t worry I’ll correct it for you again but one more time and I’ll have to charge.
    “It’s not just word play. Absence of belief in gods* is NOT belief”
    Now doesn’t that just sound ridiculous…

    I know its long but I addressed your concerns in post 28. I would gladly explain in detail but I am unwilling to do that here. We could certainly correspond more privately if you so desire.

  38. r3formed says

    “Especially the 3rd definition fits most atheists fine. I would say much finer than most religious people.”

    I agree

  39. Maria says

    I don’t often see people insisting that a lack of belief in any other beings from myth and fantasy (that most of us also don’t believe in, but that many people seriously do believe in), apart from a few of those beings from myth and fantasy called gods, is a belief… Is it nihilism if there is an absence of belief in fairies? Are there devout aleprechaunists?

    Maybe it’s techincally true that my lack of belief in Di sma undar jordi, is just a belief, and could then indeed be said to be only another belief system, and so who am I to criticise those who do believe in Di sma undar jordi or ask they give evidence that these creatures really exist if they come to me with such claims, but… theists usually don’t insist we talk of things in this way in regards to all other mythical creatures and made up concepts of fictional characters, or anthromorphized natural occurances, and so on.

    Somehow all this is suppose to not sound as absurd when when we talk about gods that has enough followers though O_o Only then are such technical definitions insisted on. Me thinks it’s just an attempt to shift the burden of proof!

  40. r3formed says

    Maria you clearly don’t understand what I’m saying and are making conclusions that I didn’t make. My point is to simply illustate that atheism is a system of belief. Not make an argument based on that. That is the argument I’m making.

    Burden of proof is a logical fallacy committed by many in the new athiest movement. at least in the way you and others present it as solely being in the hands of theists.

    I feel that anyone making a statement as fact carries the burden of proof.

    Study logic. It will prove helpful

  41. Maria says

    My point is to simply illustate that atheism is a system of belief.

    Uh… I know you did, and it didn’t make sense, for the reason I illustrated! What is the difference? Why do you single out atheism in such a way?

    Burden of proof is a logical fallacy committed by many in the new athiest movement. at least in the way you and others present it as solely being in the hands of theists.

    My brother’s wife claims she regularly sees and talks to “småfolk” (close to a leprechaun). She’s a smart woman, working in medical research, but she still believes this genuinely and fully (it’s not a mainstream belief here in Scandinavia, but not all that uncommon either). They help her with all sorts of things. She says they are physical, but knows magic. When she says this to me my reply is “I don’t believe in these creatures”. Who has the burden of proof here?

  42. FredBloggs says

    r3formed. I doubt that there is any official authority on the meaning of words, but this from Wiki:

    “Most inclusively, atheism is simply the absence of belief that any deities exist”

    A definition which includes myself and many others.

    i.e., however you describe atheists, this is the one characteristic they all share.

    NOTE AGAIN

    ABSENCE OF BELIEF

    The fact is, you only want atheism to be defined as “Belief of absence of gods”. so you can call it a belief system and claim it has burden of proof. Sorry to disappoint.

    Still waiting for your reasoned arguments for the existence of the Christian God. I expect to be waiting for a long, long time.

  43. Bruce Gorton says

    r3formed

    Ahh, this is going to be fun.

    Lets start shall we?

    Well in your opinion sure, fine, whatevs bra,but I’m not using religious language as much as language of belief. ATHEISM IS A BELIEF SYSTEM!

    And you have just proven that you were lying about having been an atheist. Atheism is simply a lack of belief in one thing (God/s) it may be the product of a belief system, such as rational skepticism, but in and of itself it is simply a tentative conclusion.

    You must believe, not know, that there is no God because you cant prove it at all.

    You must believe, not know, that there is no Yeti because you can’t prove it at all. Wow, being an a-Yetist must be a belief system.

    Popular companions to this belief system are a-fairyists, a-bogeymanists, a-unicornists, need I go on?

    You cannot disprove the existance of Zeus. You cannot disprove the existence of Ganesh. There are lots of things you cannot disprove, and yet you do not believe in. This is perfectly rational because it is for the one asserting existence to provide evidence.

    Otherwise you end up believing in a whole load of bunk.

    The historical(!) evidence for Jesus was one piece that proved instrumental to my rational decision towards Christianity.

    That evidence doesn’t actually exist, and you know it otherwise you would actually bring it up rather than go into this little bullshit excuse.

    It did not save me though and it will not save you.

    Nice bit of weaseling you have going there.

    That sure sounds like an angry bigot who opposes Christians for their religion not what they do with it like you said. I am a hypocrite as well so its ok bud. It seems to be a function of human nature. Churches are full of hypocrites and I feel so at home with them.

    I am sure you do. The thing is your entire line of argument here is utter horse-shit. Being an adult means operating under the assumption that what we think we know is provisional upon further evidence, in other words understanding that we may be wrong. The corrolary of this, is recognising that other people may be wrong for a lack of data.

    To try to persuade other people to beliefs you think are true by using data you believe to be true is not bigotry.

    The most ridiculous statements made by atheists regarding Christianity is the evolution of religion. There is about as much science in that theory as in the ancient alien theory. does that satisfy your such as? i wouldn’t expect people like you to be aware of the ridiculous ideas you may have because your belief system clouds your mind (like rose covered glasses).

    And yet, you have no sources to back you up.

    I was also stunned at all the assumptions made about my upbringing. I like how I cant possibly be rational since I’m a christian.

    Given your response here, I would say you aren’t rational but that has nothing to do with your Christianity. It has a lot to do with the fact that you think people figuring they might just know something you don’t is bigotry.

    As to assumptions made about your upbringing – what, that yours was likely a pretty normal one?

    Oh and how is it open minded to only desire things that coincide with your beliefs?

    Ever noticed how people only call for open mindedness, when they are either A trying to talk you into a particularly uncomfortable sex act, or B trying to talk you into beliefs they themselves think are batshit insane?

    It would do you good to actually read the bible before making argument against Christianity that do not coincide with beliefs expressed in the bible.

    Oh most of us have read the Bible. For a lot of people it was the first step towards becoming atheists, what with the slavery, the genocide, the rape, the incest, the blatant misogyny, the racism, that whole hideous bit about ancestral sin being visited upon later generations, the fact that page one contradicts page two, the fact that both are outright contradicted by just about every field of natural science etc…

    Far from being divine, the Bible is basically a bad book written by bad people who were also bad writers.

  44. says

    Greta,

    I agree completely, I think we need to keep the argument going!

    If you have a moment I would like your thoughts on my first YT video.

    Thanks,

  45. r3formed says

    its amazing how little you all read.

    and a wiki… really?

    I am bewildered by some of the things said here but i will not continue this conversation because i feel I am repeating myself and you all are still not getting it because the arguments you are making have NOTHING to do with what I am saying.

    I will leave you all with a bit to chew on and although i have yet to make a single argument for Christianity, i have been simply stating that atheism is a belief ( see post 37), I will provide you with just some of the historical evidence for Jesus Christ. I will not do it for you though so you may have to do a bit of reading.

    The Talmud records the death of Christ in Sanhedrin 43a. (it’s in Hebrew so you may need to find a translation or learn to read Hebrew)

    The annals of Tacitus reference Christus and his “death by Pontius Pilate” Annals 15.44

    of course Josephus but we are very certain that most all copies of that are forgeries by well meaning Christians. There is an Arab version though that most all scholarship feels is accurate. Jewish Antiquities, XVIII 3.2. there are other references in there but that is the most convincing.

    There is also Pliny the younger, Suetonius, Phlegan, Celsus, oh and the gospel accounts. We do have a piece of John that dates to the mid 50’s AD but its authenticity can be discussed.

    Justin martyr references the Acts of Pilate, which we don’t have anymore but we do know they existed, in his “First Apology” specifically section 35 and 48. Now there is a fraudulent version of the acts of Pilate that was around in the 4-5 century but this isn’t what martyr is using.

    WOW Bruce and Fred! It does exist! I worry about your beliefs when you do such little research. How else could you say the things you do…

    Now as to the video here of the young angry man with a bad spray on tan the problem isn’t religion it’s people. Do you really think that religion is responsible? If so how do you explain the all the horrible tragedies that are performed in the name of science? What about Trofim Lysenko? Do you even know who he is? Most people don’t but his scientific conclusions may have been responsible for the starvation in the USSR! He very well may have been the sole responsible party in the downfall of the USSR!

    More evidence of the ridiculous statements made by illogical people claiming to be intellectuals.

    I’m sorry if someone hurt you all in the name of religion but you can not blame an inanimate object or an idea but rather the people. A brick can be used to build a hospital or break a window but the brick itself is not responsible but the person.

    I don’t see anyone clamoring to abolish bricks…

    God bless

  46. r3formed says

    I did enjoy the demand for evidence from people who didn’t provide any themselves.

    I did have fun though and I hope you did too brucey. :)

    2 timothy 4:3
    For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions. ESV

    God bless

  47. Bruce Gorton says

    Even if one was to take it as being a non-interpolation, the likely source for Tacitus’ history could quite simply have been Christians contemporary to his time, which was long after that of Jesus.

    Pliny’s letter is worthless with regard to the existence of Christ, given that Pliny does not actually say Christ existed, simply that a cult had sprung up around him. It would be like taking the existence of cargo cults as evidence of John Frum existing. Also, it was in about 110CE.

    Suetonius speaks of Chrestos, and Claudius reigned from 41-50 CE. Jesus was supposed to have died around 30 CE, so it is pretty unlikely that he was telling people to riot at that point.

    Or you could take the Life of Nero where Christianity is basically called a new and villainous superstition. Hardly a ringing endorsement of its veracity.

    As to Josephus, there are two problems. First of all Jesus was a pretty common name (he references about 20 of them) and the name of a fairly highly ranked priest that Josephus mentions called Jesus Damneus.

    The second problem is Josephus was born in 37CE, and Antiquities was written in 97CE. We don’t know his sources.

    None of the sources on Jesus, are contemporary with Jesus, they are all written after he, and his original followers, died.

    Finally, on historicity and the historical Jesus – the consensus amongst historians is there was a historical Jesus, but this character was a human being who didn’t rise from the dead, who didn’t do all the miracles and who likely didn’t teach all the things ascribed to him.

    The consensus I think is going to change over time given the growing strength of the challenges to historicity, but even as it stands it is not in favour of the Biblical Jesus.

  48. Bruce Gorton says

    Justin martyr – 100CE to 165 CE, and so suffers from the same problem of being quite a lot after the fact. He also suffers from the fact that he was not a neutral source – being a Christian.

    Also, we know Pilate existed, but that isn’t evidence for Jesus any more than the fact that Obama exists is evidence for Spiderman.

  49. Kilian Hekhuis says

    #46

    I will provide you with just some of the historical evidence for Jesus Christ.

    I’m not in a good position to argue, but Ftb’s own Richard Carrier has thoroughly debunked (or, at least, made strong arguments against) the existence of a historical Jesus, or at least the Jesus of the Bible. The strongest argument imho is that for the gospels to be true, Jesus had to be quite a rebel rouser, while historical writing just doesn’t indicate that. There’s just to little to be found for it to be true.

  50. fredbloggs says

    “and a wiki… really”

    Sigh.

    Probably as good as any source you can quote. But here’s a definition from the OED:

    Atheist – a person who disbelieves or lacks belief in the existence of God or gods.

    Note: “disbelieves”, “lack of belief”, NOT “Belief of absence”.

    Regardless, NO-ONE OWNS the definition of atheism, but the one thing they ALL have in common is “absence of belief in gods”.

    One thing they DO NOT all have in common is “Belief in absence of gods”.

    I’m not sure why you find this difficult to understand.

  51. fredbloggs says

    By the way r3formed, in addition to getting the definition of atheism wrong, you appear to be a little confused about what defines a “rational argument” for the existence of a supreme being and that the supreme being is the Christian supreme being.

    Your arguments appear to revolve around the fact that there was a human being called Christ. If the man existed, then he was god on earth.

    That’s your argument?

    I’m willing to concede the MAN MAY have existed (nothing supernatural in that.) although the sources you quote ARE NOT CONTEMPORARY, so it is by no means certain that he did (I find it interesting that the only two books of the NT that claim to record Jesus’ birth date, give two dates that are at least 7 years apart)

    But SO WHAT? How do you get from:

    “There was a real man around whom the cult of Christianity coalesced”

    To

    “The great sky fairy exists and came to earth about 2000 years in the form of his avatar to forgive our sins and blah blah blah”

    Please connect those two things for me in a “rational argument”.

    Please.

  52. Sensemaker says

    Yes, arguing against religion works. Just be reasonable about your expectations. To think that someone would give up their faith here and now and admit it is to ask to much even if you arguments would be inhumanly perfect. Give a few good, easy-to-remember arguments and be reasonably polite. It is unlikely that they will be very receptive, we humans tend to focus on “winning” in a discussion. However, when they have a crisis of faith or are just alone with their thoughts, they might remember your words and give them serious consideration.

    Sensemaker

  53. Bruce Gorton says

    If so how do you explain the all the horrible tragedies that are performed in the name of science?

    Eugenics was essentially the result of Christian inspired racism being secularised. Prior to the eugenics movement, the exact same populations that eugenics targeted were already being targeted on religious grounds.

    One of the features of the human mind is we are inclined to reinforce our own beliefs. If you believe members of a given racial group are bad drivers, then you are more likely to notice them driving badly. This is called confirmation bias.

    The eugenicists had the exact same prejudices about members of other races, the only real change was how they excused them, and the fact that confirmation bias made it very easy to do so.

    When people drop their religions, they don’t necessarily drop the prejudices that religion engendered in them. Each belief that was built up from that religion needs to be overturned individually.

    A great example of this is in sexism in the current atheist movement. The origin of that sexism is a generally sexist society, which was shaped to a large extent by the very sexist religion of Christianity. Atheists may be less likely to be sexist, but we are still products of our upbringings, and thus sexism is still rife.

    Plus you still get kooks.

    What about Trofim Lysenko?

    Lysenko was outright hostile to science. He adopted a view in favour Lamarkism and used political and legal pressure to persecute scientists who dared criticise his research. You are using someone who was historically anti-scientific method to justify your anti-science stance.

    I’m sorry if someone hurt you all in the name of religion but you can not blame an inanimate object or an idea but rather the people.

    This argument is bad, and you should feel bad. Okay just to point out what this comes out at – “people who have been abused in the past cannot be taken seriously, after all that they have been abused robs whatever they have to say of any legitimacy.”

    Logically this fails because it is a pure ad-hominem, but aside from that it makes you a horrible person.

    A lot of atheists have had reasonably happy childhoods and never faced much in the way of abuse, some have. To use that abuse as a tool to dismiss their views is not something a decent human being would do.

  54. fredbloggs says

    I really have no problem with people’s beliefs (as long as they aren’t granted privileges based on them)

    But I object to someone popping up here, telling us that they know what atheists are better than we know ourselves (after accusing atheists of doing the same to Christians)

    But what really burns me is the claim that there are RATIONAL reasons for believing in the Christian god (specifically), but then completely fail to present those arguments.

  55. Maria says

    Why are the most cluless so often the most arrogant? He thinks this is funny. I don’t. I think it’s sad. It’s like watching an adult defend the existence of Santa Claus in the most condescending ways toward us poor people who don’t get it.

    It’s… sad.

    “Atheism is just another belief.
    I haven’t made any arguments so I don’t have to answer any questions.
    All the old historical ‘Jesus existed for sure’ examples (so what? who cares? doesn’t mean he was a god).
    The ‘what about the evil scientists’ argument.
    What about [insert bad person who was also atheist/scientist].
    Atheists are only angry with religion because they were hurt by it.
    Religion has never anything to do with anything bad, it’s all bad people corrupting religion.
    I used to be a ‘devout’ atheist. (That one there, right away in the beginning of the first post told me how this would go).
    We are all uneducated and doesn’t understand him.”

    Well, I could go on. If he really once was an atheist he would have known from the start, too, how this would go over. Surely he would have known that no one would be impressed from the first to the last words of his posts?? But I guess his posts are a very typical sample book of the “reasoning” people like him use to be able to: keep believing unreasonable things, not having to consider arguments against it, feel like everybody else are just stupid and blind, and also feel smug about it.

    So, a good chance to see that kind of reasoning play out.

  56. fredbloggs says

    Maria I actually (usually) enjoy discussing these subjects with the religious, but I remain utterly unconvinced by their arguments. Those who at least have some integrity agree that there is no rational basis for their belief. r3formed doesn’t come across as having integrity.

    The old tactic of trying to claim atheism is a belief system is tedious yet oft repeated.

    Whenever people quote the bible at me, I’m often tempted to respond with a passage from Lord Of The Rings, or other fantasy work.

  57. Kilian Hekhuis says

    #47

    2 timothy 4:3
    For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions

    This is the best Bible quote I wasn’t aware of I’ve seen in quite a while. It even continues for the better:

    They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.

    Required memorization for all atheists to be used the next time the creationists / intelligent design movement rears its ugly head again.

  58. fredbloggs says

    Why don’t Christians ever repeat Gods instructions to commit genocide?

    It’s almost like they’re hoping no-one will notice that their own god is the worst mass-murderer in the history of mankind.

  59. Maria says

    Maria I actually (usually) enjoy discussing these subjects with the religious, but I remain utterly unconvinced by their arguments.

    I know what you mean, I often do too. But sometimes it just stricks me as sad. I am utterly unconvinced as well.

    The old tactic of trying to claim atheism is a belief system is tedious yet oft repeated.

    Yes! I have no idea how many times I’ve seen it. It comes with more or less arrogance, that’s all.

    Whenever people quote the bible at me, I’m often tempted to respond with a passage from Lord Of The Rings, or other fantasy work.

    I can’t resist usually, as you could see :-) I know it’s a bad tactic, really. It’s just amazing to me to watch one believer in one sets of myth and supernatural beings/phenomenona claim their set of myths are real, while dismissing all others. When to me the God of the Bible is in the exact same category as Cinderella – folk tale characters! My brother’s wife who believes in the Scandinavian version of leprechauns does so as genuinely as Christians believe in magical Jesus, but she would only laugh at the notion of believing in God.

    I don’t get that kind of thinking!

  60. r3formed says

    You expect more from the historical Jesus than any other figure and no one has explained how religion is ultimately responsible an not just bad people. Your eugenics response again doesn’t hold water and the your missing the point. It doesn’t matter if he was a bad scientist what matters is he was a bad person and not religious. The problem is that it was said the info didn’t exist and it does and there is just as much scholarship that agrees with me as their is you.

    The evidence demanded from the other side, which you don’t require the same evidence for your own beliefs, is like that episode of Chappelles show about R-Kelly.

    Honestly if I ha a picture of Jesus raising from the dead with two forms of Id you would still create an argument to oppose it becaus it doesn’t coincide with your belief system.

    Basically the point I’ve been trying to make. Not all atheist are like that just as all Christians aren’t.

    All you’ve done is reaffirm my opinion with your ridiculous ideological views. I only wish you could all be rational enough to see that.

    I do look seek find other arguments and am more than willing to listen to rational argument the problem is I haven’t encountered that and I did know where this would go because I have made those arguments. I was just hoping for a good solid discussion from people who are rational and sane and can do so without takin things personally which you all seemed to. I was wrong.
    Construct your straw man though. Again it comforts you like religion comforts the gullible who are in religion.

  61. Maria says

    I was just hoping for a good solid discussion.

    Wouldn’t it be swell if we could establish the existence of the thing before we discuss it?

    The existence of magical Jesus has not been established.

    You expect more from the historical Jesus than any other figure.

    Not many historical figures walked on water, turned water into wine, and rose from the dead, so… Yes!

    If you believe that Jesus did rise from the dead we do need a bit more than that he might have just existed as a normal man who might have inspired the start of a cult. There are no good evidence for that either, but it’s fully plausible and not something atheists really have a problem with – we just don’t think that such a mundane thing justifies this whole religion-thing that still tries to influence our socities! If you don’t believe in any of the miraculous claims of Jesus… Well, isn’t that what being a Christian means? That Jesus Christ died for your sins and conquered death?

  62. fredbloggs says

    So, you believe:

    1. A man walked on water
    2. Turned water into wine
    3. Turned a sardine and a ciabatta roll into a meal for thousands
    4. Calmed stormy waters
    5. Brought the dead back to life
    6. Cured leprosy with the touch of a hand
    7. Was himself nailed to a cross, left to rot in a tomb for 3 days but came back to life

    Does this sort of thing happen a lot in your life? Or if you saw any of the above happening today would you suspect either fraud or a conjurors trick? If the latter, then why do you accept such events when you haven’t even witnessed them personally.

  63. Maria says

    Honestly if I ha a picture of Jesus raising from the dead with two forms of Id you would still create an argument to oppose it becaus it doesn’t coincide with your belief system.

    Okay, now this was funny, I admit :-) I know you were being sarcastic, but…

    A photo of Jesus rising from the dead… in the era of photoshop, with IDs!!! :-D Like… “Take THAT! Atheists!!” :-D

    But this is actually a good example! Such a picture would be a good example of something we could easily have an argument against. It would be very clear that, considering how easy it is to fake photos convincingly, and that IDs didn’t exist in Jesus’ time, we would be justified dismissing such evidence as very bad and unrealiable. No one would be justified in insisting the reason we dismissed that was because it doesn’t coincide with our beliefs, and what really happened was that someone built a time machine, went back to Jesus’ time, waited for him to rise, and asking him to conjure up two IDs and pose for the camera to convince future ‘doubting Thomases’.

    Thing is… Much of the evidence Christians present IS of this kind. It’s not very realiable, and there are simpler explanations that doesn’t contradict established knowledge, such as that a dead brain don’t come back to life. You are so entrenched in your belief that we are ‘dismissing things only because it doesn’t coincide with our “beliefs”,that you refuse to see how we are, in fact, justified in dismissing much of this evidence.

  64. Bruce Gorton says

    It doesn’t matter if he was a bad scientist what matters is he was a bad person and not religious.

    And who said all bad people have to be religious? That religion is a source of bad things, doesn’t mean it is the only source of bad things now does it?

    The problem is that it was said the info didn’t exist and it does and there is just as much scholarship that agrees with me as their is you.

    Pfft. No, the nearest scholarship you get to supporting you, and I am talking real scholarship here, is people who figure Jesus may have existed as a semi-obscure very mortal human being.

    That is hardly something to hang a God claim on.

    The evidence demanded from the other side, which you don’t require the same evidence for your own beliefs, is like that episode of Chappelles show about R-Kelly.

    You are asserting the existence of a supreme being. I am not asserting such a thing. As I am not asserting anything exists, I don’t have to demonstrate anything, you do.

    I have a working hypothesis that there is no God, show me evidence to the contrary and I will change my mind. You have not done so.

    This isn’t rocket science, this is basic rationality. We don’t accept existence claims for other things without good evidence, why should we accept them for your God?

    We actually are being 100% consistent, the inconsistency is on your part. You would not accept the level of “proof” you have provided for your God from, lets say, a Hindu.

    Can you disprove Vishnu?

    The question about why you thought Christianity was true and not some other belief with equally weak evidence, is a real one.

    And it is one you have avoided answering for an awfully long time.

  65. Pete D says

    r3formed said:

    “You expect more from the historical Jesus than any other figure.”

    No. I expect more from someone claiming that the historical Jesus existed without a doubt and is the Son of God without a doubt. If you want the historical Jesus treated as other historical figures, then you must be willing to admit that this historical Jesus only might have existed (and may not have) within relatively wide bounds of certainty.

  66. Pete D says

    r3formed said:

    “You must believe, not know, that there is no God because you cant prove it at all.”

    It is trivially true that I cannot prove there is no god at all. However, if you believe in a god that caused a global flood (or even a catastrophic local flood that may have inspired the Genesis story) then I am on pretty solid ground in claiming that your god does not exist. Why don’t you describe your god so I can determine if it is consistent with evidence.

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  1. […] “I think you’re worth it: “But I don’t see it that way. When I argue with a believer about religion, I’m not saying, “I think your beliefs make you stupid.” I’m saying, “I think you’re smart enough to get this. I think you’re open-minded enough to be willing to change your mind. I think you’re strong enough to deal with changing your mind about something important.””" “I think we were worth it”: Arguing About Religion – Greta Christina’s Blog […]

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