Monday, June 4, 2007

Scattered Reflections

It has been a while since I last made a post, so I figured I would collect my thoughts on two issues and compose “short takes” on them.

Dr. Richard Dawkins, one of evolution’s foremost proponents and atheism’s most ardent defenders, was at his most brilliant in articulating the following devastating observation in "A Devil’s Chaplain":


…modern theists might acknowledge that, when it comes to Baal and the Golden Calf, Thor and Wotan, Poseidon and Apollo, Mithras and Ammon Ra, they are actually atheists. We are all atheists about most of the gods that humanity has ever believed in. Some of us just go one god further.


I once posed a query that I termed The Unanswerable Question for Christians. It read: “If Christianity is the one true faith, and God wants everybody to go to Heaven by accepting it, then why did it take our species (which is about 195,000 years old) approximately 190,000 years to discover it (while in the meantime worshipping all manner of 'false' Gods and following scores of 'fake' religions)?” This, essentially, is the same point Dr. Dawkins raises. Looking back through history, we see myriad gods and goddesses (about whom we all are now atheistic), exhibiting diverse natures, preferences and degrees of anthropomorphism. Highly regarded deities, such as Enlil, now have literally no followers.

Does this give modern-day theists pause?

I have no doubt that Sumerians were supremely confident in Enlil’s existence, just as were other ancient civilizations in their own respective deities. Today, equal confidence is in abundance. Tom Cruise is convinced of Scientology’s veracity. The 9/11 hijackers seemed quite sure that they were destined for eternal paradise in Allah’s warm presence. Various cults throughout the years—Jim Jones’ Peoples Temple comes to mind—have demonstrated their confidence with their actions. And, from personal experience, I can attest to the certainty Christians have about their faith. But isn’t betting on your pet superstition rather like playing the lottery one time and hoping to hit the jackpot? After all, the various God characters (and their inerrant, perfect, Holy texts) are mutually exclusive (i.e., Yahweh is not interchangeable with Zeus is not interchangeable with Enlil). What are the odds that every single God conception throughout the history of time was wrong—save your own? In fact, theists’ odds are far worse than playing the lottery one time. A real possibility exists that there is no God at all; thus, the religionist is betting on one character—of an infinitely large set—and hoping not just that his number will come up, but also that a drawing will take place!

I often make the following request of Christians: Present extraordinary evidence that Yahweh exists, to the exclusion of other God characters.

I have yet to see any convincing evidence for any individual deity. Indeed, the former Christian in me fears that, sometime in a future, Yahweh will be looked upon exactly as Mithras is at present—a quaint storybook character of antiquity.

Shifting gears now, I quite often make the point that Christianity has more than its share of ludicrous, impossible claims. I often cite Jesus’ alleged asexual birth, his alleged bodily resurrection (not unlike George A. Romero’s famous zombies) and Bible characters allegedly living to be nearly 1000 years old, to name a few. However, there is one ludicrous claim that, to this point, I have not addressed. This is ironic, given that I used to be a Catholic. Reading Dr. Daniel Dennett’s wonderful new book, "Breaking the Spell," has gotten me interested in the truly laughable idea of transubstantiation.

In an essay, Dr. Dawkins writes, “It is easy and non-mysterious to believe that in some symbolic or metaphorical sense the eucharistic wine turns into the blood of Christ. The Roman Catholic doctrine of transubstantiation, however, claims far more. The ‘whole substance’ of the wine is converted into the blood of Christ; the appearance of wine that remains is ‘merely accidental’, ‘inhering in no substance’. Transubstantiation is colloquially taught as meaning that the wine ‘literally’ turns into the blood of Christ.”

Bearing that backgrounder in mind, consider Dr. Dennett’s observations:


But what could you do to show that you really believe that the wine in the chalice has been transformed into the blood of Christ? You could bet a large sum of money on it and then send the wine to the biology lab to see if there was hemoglobin in it (and recover the genome of Jesus from the DNA in the bargain!)—except that the creed has been cleverly shielded from just such concrete tests. It would be sacrilege to remove the wine from the ceremony, and, besides, taking the wine out of the holy context would surely untransubstantiate it, turning it back into ordinary wine. There is really only one action you can take to demonstrate this belief; you can say that you believe it, over and over, as fervently as the occasion demands.


Indeed, Dr. Dennett often makes the point that well-adapted religions have been designed so deviously as to eliminate the possibility of real, objective testing. As such, faith is encouraged and empiricism rejected.

Consider the following:

  • Christians admit that there is no way to confirm Mary’s virginity at the time of Jesus’ conception.
  • Christians admit that there is no way to confirm the ages at which Adam and Noah (if they even existed) died.
  • Christians admit that there is no way to confirm that Jesus, after suffering the ravages of brain death, spontaneously came back to life, suffering none of death’s nasty symptoms.
  • Finally, we see that Roman Catholics also are unable to confirm that the wine in the chalice has become a dead man’s blood.

I suppose, at last, this is the question: Should manifestly extraordinary claims, such as talking nonhuman animals and asexual human reproduction, be accepted by faith or biblical revelation?

The answer is clear: No.

Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. When religions' devious designs effectively preclude empirical study, faiths betray the flimsy foundation upon which their assertions rest.

40 Comments:

Blogger Tommy said...

Here's my argument: In Genesis, God promises Abraham his descendants would be mighty and powerful and be in permanent possession of the land he gave them, but neither happened. By any measurable yardstick, the Israelites lose when compared to the Egyptians, Assyrians, Babylonians and Persians. Be it territory ruled, technological advances, cultural and religious influences, you name it. The Israelites never controlled all of the territory that God promised them, except for a brief period under David and Solomon, assuming either of them really existed and the extent of their domain is really what the Bible says. Regardless, the Israelites were never in permanent possession of the land they were promised. So those are two promises of God in the Bible that were not fulfilled. Hence, the Israelites were not the chosen people of the creator of the universe, and thus destroyed is the foundation for Christianity.

11:36 PM EST  
Blogger montag said...

I do indeed find your posts of interest.

I agree totally that Faith should makes no claims such that these claims appear to be verifiable, yet Faith denies to subject them to any process of verification.

This is an error in the minds of those of Faith. This is also an error in the minds of those of Reason.

We can propound an infinite number of statements that are not able to be shown to true or false.
When we make statements that are of a religious nature, and these statements are not able to be proven true or false, then we are in the realm of Faith.
Isn't that what Faith implies? Faith is how one affects an emotion of certainty for religious statements that cannot be proven true.

When Tertullian said "I believe it because it IS unreasonable." he may have also been implying that he has Faith because there is no finite computation that renders a statement of Faith true nor false

6:45 AM EST  
Anonymous bet said...

http://www.christiananswers.net/evangelism/beliefs/atheism.html

4:19 PM EST  
Blogger The Jolly Nihilist said...

I have read all the theist websites before; remember, I used to be Catholic. However, each Christian website I have read lacks the solid evidence I so actively seek. I do not care about rhetoric. I only want EVIDENCE.

My list of requests for Christians is not particularly difficult--especially if their tales are true.

1. Present extraordinary evidence for Jesus' bodily resurrection.


2. Present extraordinary evidence that Jesus was born asexually (of a virgin).


3. Present extraordinary evidence that some Biblical characters, such as Adam and Noah, lived in excess of 900 years.


4. Present extraordinary evidence that immaterial “souls” haunt our carcasses.


5. Present extraordinary evidence that human consciousness survives bodily death, passing to another realm of existence.


6. Present extraordinary evidence that Yahweh exists, to the exclusion of other god characters.


7. Present extraordinary evidence that the cataclysmic flood described by the Bible actually occurred.


8. Present extraordinary evidence that evolution—the cornerstone of modern biology—is incorrect.


9. Present extraordinary evidence that “miracles” are possible, let alone actually have occurred.


10. Present extraordinary evidence that serpents and donkeys can speak in human language, whether with Yahweh’s aid or by their own linguistic genius.

I hardly care about the fate of my eternal soul, given the fact that I have not yet been convinced my eternal soul exists. Again, rhetoric and fear mongering have no effect on me whatsoever. My mind is open only to EVIDENCE. So, where is it?

Save my soul by way of empiricism.

8:00 PM EST  
Blogger Tommy said...

Hey Jolly. I gave mention of your blog over at mine. I did an extended post based on my arguments with your Christian troll PCG.

1:53 AM EST  
Anonymous pgc1981 said...

And the beat goes on and on and on and on and on. Different day same BS. Jolly repeating the same questions over and over and tommy clinging to insults

1:07 PM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe Jolly repeats his questions over and over because he hasn't yet been given any actual evidence.

As he clearly stated: The only thing he cares about is evidence...not rhetoric, or appeals to emotion or theological dogma.

Is there evidence?

If the answer is, "You have to have faith," then Jolly has won by default.

7:04 PM EST  
Blogger Tommy said...

What insults did I utter PCG? What I wrote are historical facts. If you want to deny reality, that is of course your choice. You are also free to take a hike any time you want if you are not satisfied with the answers we give you here. And don't let the door hit you on the way out.

8:32 PM EST  
Anonymous pgc1981 said...

Tommy,

"I did an extended post based on my arguments with your Christian TROLL PCG."

You called me a troll (I capitalized it in case you forgot what you said already) tommy, that is the insult I'm refering to.
You have insulted my time after time on this site and that is why I don't even bother with your site because it shows your character and I have no respect for you. At least Jolly is decent enough not to riducule people.

1:22 PM EST  
Anonymous bethanne said...

There are some things in this life that require faith. You cannot have eternal life without faith in God. Maybe it would be best if you tried having faith in God instead of trying to find a scientific reason for everything. The need for evidence could send you to eternal hell.

6:45 PM EST  
Blogger Tommy said...

Bethanne, hell would be being stuck in an elevator with you for all eternity.

PCG, I called you a troll because you keep recycling the same arguments, you make statements that are wrong, you whine that Jolly doesn't answer you yadda yadda yadda.

If being called a troll hurts your feelings, then I am really really sorry. I will ignore you from now on and you can ignore me. Sound fair? Oh, right, you're not supposed to answer that.

7:26 PM EST  
Anonymous pgc1981 said...

Tommy

Don't worry you didn't hurt my feelings I actually laugh most of the time at you come backs. Maybe I should have said you've thrown insult after insult after me. I just find it funny that most athiests seem to use insults at Christians instead of using good arguments. Jolly is one of the few that does it right. So if you used logical points without all the BS and mocking approach I may not ignore you, but that's up to you.

10:30 PM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is there evidence?

If the answer is, "You have to have faith," then Jolly has won by default.


Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. Have faith and be saved.

1:09 AM EST  
Blogger Tommy said...

"Maybe it would be best if you tried having faith in God instead of trying to find a scientific reason for everything. The need for evidence could send you to eternal hell."

"Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. Have faith and be saved."

To the authors of the comments quoted above, if that is the best you've got then that is really pathetic.

Just imagine if we applied such "reasoning" to other fields of endeavor.

We wouldn't need to have trials for criminal defendants anymore.

"Your honor, we the jury do not need to hear the state's evidence against the accused. We just know that he is guilty. It's simply a matter of faith."

Doctors could dispense medications without having to conduct an examination.

Police officers could arrest suspects without any evidence whatsoever because the person just "looks guilty."

Airline pilots could take off without having a preset course to their destination. "Not to worry passengers and crew, I have faith that Jesus Christ will guide me to the right airport!"

You confirm Sam Harris's claim that "religion is the one area of our lives where faith in dogma -- that is, belief without sufficient evidence -- is considered a virtue."

Those of us who are atheists refuse to accept this. If you cannot offer any rational evidence as to why I or any other atheist should convert to Christianity, then you are wasting your time and embarrassing yourself.

12:50 PM EST  
Blogger pgc1981 said...

Tommy,

The significant evidence we have is the Bible, you however say it's BS and just a fairy tale, so you denounce the biggest piece of evidence we have. We supply websites that have sufficient evidence and you again call it BS or propaganda. So what more are you looking for? The only thing that will truly make you believe is God himself coming down from Heaven appear before you and slap you in the face and say 'look tommy I'm real.'

Look at the world around you, look at history. Do you think Jews and Christians have been persecuted in spit for thousands of years (Christians 2,000) just because? Do you think it's just coincidental that all this has happened? Do you think it's simple coincidental that Christianity started with one man, Jesus, and has grown to billions times billions and is probably the biggest and most controversial subject this world has ever seen? Why do you think Hitler butchered 6 million Jews in WWII? Just for fun?

Belief in God comes down to the individual and the evidence in their eyes or mind. If you don’t believe in God you will denounce any piece of evidence that is presented to you. You put complete trust and faith in science that they are right and yet darwinian evolution has only been around for 150 years. Something that godless people came up with to explain life for those who don't believe in God. Your faith and your god is evolutionary science, for you hold undoubtable faith that they are right and we are wrong. What would we be if we didn't believe in anything?

1:43 PM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I said: Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.

This is a scientifically and logically true statement. One cannot say that because one has no evidence that God exists that God does not exist. Your lack of understanding of this truth indicates that you need more science-based education.

You, yourself, must offer proof that God does not exist. I do not think you will succeed. Many famous philosophers have tried, including Nietzsche, and all have failed.

Have faith and be saved.

7:12 PM EST  
Blogger Tommy said...

Anonymous, by that logic I can say unicorns exist. Absence of evidence of the existence of unicorns is not evidence that unicorns do not exist.

As for the existence of God, I have never argued that one cannot disprove the existence of some sort of supreme being or deity. What can be argued is that the existence of the God of the Bible is highly unlikely.

But I refer to you my comments at the very top of this page. I just proved that God's promises to Abraham did not come true. Hence, the Israelites were not the chosen people of God, and that knocks out the foundation for Christianity.

7:51 PM EST  
Blogger Lui said...

"There are some things in this life that require faith. You cannot have eternal life without faith in God. Maybe it would be best if you tried having faith in God instead of trying to find a scientific reason for everything. The need for evidence could send you to eternal hell."

Wow, that's an argument? Maybe you're just an imbecile.

1:31 AM EST  
Blogger Lui said...

"We supply websites that have sufficient evidence and you again call it BS or propaganda."

It is. Reams and reams of bullshit don’t equal one iota of good evidence. The people who maintain these sites are more often than not ignoramuses who have exactly the same types of misconceptions as you do.

Allow me to turn the tone around and apply it to you: the scientific community supplies journals, websites, hundreds of serious books written by people with masters degrees, PhDs, Nobel Prizes and other distinctions, and mountains of real evidence is presented everyday at conferences held by research institutions, and yet you call it bullshit, and don't even acknowledge it as one iota of evidence. It's you who's living in a fantasy world. Grow up.

"So what more are you looking for?"

What more are you looking for, when you think you can casually dismiss the reality that science has revealed to us (and yet utilise the knowledge that made such a reality visible when it suits you, like when you use your computer or go to a high-tech hospital?)

“The only thing that will truly make you believe is God himself coming down from Heaven appear before you and slap you in the face and say 'look tommy I'm real.'”

What’s wrong with that? You have complete faith that Fluffy, my invisible unicorn, (and queen of the universe) doesn’t exist. Prove it. What proof do you have that she doesn’t exist? None. Therefore, she’s real.

“Look at the world around you, look at history.”

We have, and it utterly contradicts the fiction you subscribe to. Look at natural history especially. You have the gall to say “I’m not scientifically minded”, and yet you’re telling us, “look at history”? How arrogant can you get? Do science and evidence only count when they support the story you want to believe in?

“Do you think Jews and Christians have been persecuted in spit for thousands of years (Christians 2,000) just because?”

Do you think non-Christians have been persecuted in spit for thousands of years just because?

“Do you think it's just coincidental that all this has happened?”

“Coincidence”? You’re so confused you’re not making any sense.

“Do you think it's simple coincidental that Christianity started with one man, Jesus, and has grown to billions times billions and is probably the biggest and most controversial subject this world has ever seen?”

No, NO ONE says this. Please stop inventing things to bolster your arguments. And this question has been answered extensively. We’ve already gone through the methods religion uses to brainwash kids, spread itself through fear and bullying, and so forth.
Do you think it’s simple coincidence that Islam started with one man (Mohammed) and has grown to well over a billion followers (through pretty much the exact same method as Christianity has: indoctrination of kids. In other words, non-mysterious methods, easily scrutinised with the tools of psychology) and is the fastest growing faith in the world? Or is that just “coincidence”?

Why do you think Hitler butchered 6 million Jews in WWII? Just for fun?

You mean Hitler the Christian and devout follower and admirer of Christ? You mean that Hitler? No, it wasn’t for fun.

“If you don’t believe in God you will denounce any piece of evidence that is presented to you.”


If you assume from the outset that every world of the Bible is 100 percent true, you will discount the masses of evidence from the Earth and life sciences that contradict its bizarre, utterly fantastic claims. It’s not we who are being close minded.

You put complete trust and faith in science that they are right and yet darwinian evolution has only been around for 150 years.”

That’s because it’s a relatively new science. What’s your point? Imagine if someone said about Isaac Newton 150 years after his discoveries: “You put complete trust and faith in science that they are right and yet Newtonian gravitation has only been around for 150 years.”

“Something that godless people came up with to explain life for those who don't believe in God.”

Wrong, completely wrong. Darwin himself was a creationist, and his own theory was a hard one for him to realise because it went against what he had been brought up to believe. Nevertheless, his intellectual honesty forced him to acknowledge what his investigations and research led him to see.

“Your faith and your god is evolutionary science,”

It’s neither a faith (we have lots and lots of evidence to back it up, unlike your God, which really does require faith), nor is it a god (we bestow no supernatural powers upon it when we invoke it, nor does anyone worship evolution, nor does anyone consider it a conscience “thing”: all unlike your God).

“for you hold undoubtable faith that they are right and we are wrong.”

Right, but of course you don’t?

“What would we be if we didn't believe in anything?”

Again, who says we don’t believe in anything? Why do you keep repeating the same crap? You complain about Christians and Christianity being attacked, and yet you resort to the same, tired old caricatures about atheists, even though they have been dealt with numerous times, here and on other atheist blogs.

"One cannot say that because one has no evidence that God exists that God does not exist."

Yes, but what reasons do we have to suggest he does exist?

"You, yourself, must offer proof that God does not exist."

Wrong; it's not the job of scientists to disprove every piece of nonsense just because religionists want to believe it. It's you who needs to learn a bit about how science operates.

"Have faith and be saved. "

That's all you have? Lame, dude.

2:07 AM EST  
Blogger Tommy said...

Lui, and he wonders why I make insulting remarks about him.

It is really sad. I feel sorry for him and some of the anonymous commenters here. They obviously had moments of crisis in their lives and turning to religion was a familiar and comforting path. Maybe their faith really did help them cope with difficult situations, and I certainly would never want to take that away from anybody.

The problem is, when they think that their faith steered them through a rough patch in their lives, it leads them to the conclusion that the things in which they have faith must therefore be real. It is a boost to their self esteem to believe that they are "saved" and that after they die they will spend an eternity in paradise in the afterlife with "the Lawd".

This belief that their savior loves them and cares for them gives them a sense of entitlement that is otherwise unearned. So they come to blogs like this one to tell us that we are going to suffer for eternity in the afterlife because it makes them feel better about themselves. "I'm gonna be saved and you're not. Nah nah nah nah nah nah! Unless you believe what I believe. Nah nah nah nah nah nah!"

Speaking of historical coincidences. Before the Muslim Arabs burst out of the Arabian Peninsula in the early 7th century, the two major powers in the Middle East, the Byzantines and the Persians, had beaten each other to a bloody pulp for about twenty years. So when the Arabs attacked them, they were unable to put up much of a fight and the Arabs ended up taking a Syria, Palestine, Egypt and North Africa from the Byzantines and overran all of Persia. If I was a pious Muslim, I could easily argue that this was the hand of Allah work, making the infidel enemies weaken each other to ease the path for the warriors of the faith. So it is Islam that must really be true.

8:52 AM EST  
Blogger The Jolly Nihilist said...

For anybody who says, "Have faith and be saved," I have the following questions:

Have faith in which God...in which religion...in which belief system? Should I believe in Yahweh, or put my faith in Zeus? Should I believe Jesus is the messiah, or entrust my soul to Apollonius of Tyana? Should I eat like normal on Yom Kippur, or must I fast in order to please God?

If you will permit the self-indulgence, I think a quote from my own post bears repeating:

"But isn’t betting on your pet superstition rather like playing the lottery one time and hoping to hit the jackpot? After all, the various God characters (and their inerrant, perfect, Holy texts) are mutually exclusive (i.e., Yahweh is not interchangeable with Zeus is not interchangeable with Enlil). What are the odds that every single God conception throughout the history of time was wrong—-save your own? In fact, theists’ odds are far worse than playing the lottery one time. A real possibility exists that there is no God at all; thus, the religionist is betting on one character—of an infinitely large set—and hoping not just that his number will come up, but also that a drawing will take place!"

I repeatedly have said the Bible is not good evidence for Christianity. I will provide three reasons why:

1. There are myriad holy books in the history of world religion. The Bible has plenty of company. And, quite apparently, a great majority of these holy books claims perfection, inerrance and a monopoly on truth. So, why should I give the Bible one bit more credence than the Quran, for example? Why is the Bible more reliable than the Book of Mormon? Why are the texts of the African tribal religions false, whereas the Bible is infinitely reliable? In short, why is YOUR perfect book better than THEIR perfect books?

2. The Bible has many errors, contradictions and omissions that effectively preclude its being of divine origin. Many people have gone through the whole litany several times over. What's more, and perhaps what is most revealing, the Bible does not contain a single sentence that could not have been written by a first century man or woman. It contains no great insights on the structure of DNA. It has nothing to offer with regard to a cure for cancer. It does not warn about the AIDS pandemic's approach. It is mundane as all hell--and revealingly so.

3. The Bible contains extraordinary claims, many of which I have highlighted at length. Extraordinary claims cannot be substantiated in ordinary ways. This is why I made that post about The Mighty Redwood. Could any document of antiquity convince you that my Redwood story actually took place? Could any ancient book make you believe that a Sierra Redwood uprooted itself and walked away? I would venture that the answer is No. Similarly, no book could convince me that Jesus--against all scientific knowledge--came back to life after dozens of hours of being dead (and having suffered irreversible brain death).

Faith, to me, is worthless. Claims need to be supported by EVIDENCE. If there only is weak evidence, the claim should be treated as baseless; it tentatively should be set aside, until such time as better evidence is discovered. Anybody making a positive assertion about the nature of reality suffers the burden of proof. I am merely the skeptic.

If you really believe the Bible is accurate, then answer this:

What is the best evidence you have that Adam and Noah lived hundreds upon hundreds of years?

The Jolly Nihilist


P.S. Tommy, that really was a terrific post!

12:59 PM EST  
Blogger Tommy said...

Thanks Jolly.

And to add to your question about Adam and Eve, I would ask Biblical Literalists if the great flood really happened and Noah really lived to be 900 years old, then why is there no Book of Noah?

I mean if I went through an experience like he is alleged to have gone through, and I lived for 300 years after the event, I certainly would have written about it. Instead, all we know about a guy who is alleged to have lived for 900 years is that he built an ark, crammed it full of animals, and after steering himself and his family through the crisis, proceeds to get drunk and curses his grandson Canaan. As I wrote in a post on Noah in my blog, "You know what they say, once you've reached your 600th birthday, it's all downhill from there."

1:58 PM EST  
Anonymous beth said...

Have you ever stopped to think that there is really no such thing as an atheist? To be adamant that there is no God, you must know everything that there is to know. You must have 100 percent of all the knowledge of everything in the universe. Let's assume you have 1 percent (which would be high for the average person) of all knowledge. That means that you do not know 99 percent of all the things there are to know, so you are really agnostic, because you dont know if there is a God because you cannot know everything.

Also, I find it hard to believe that you dont believe that everything has a maker. What if I showed you my home - it is made of bricks and mortar, but then I told you that no one made it - it just appeared here by accident. That's unbelieveable - just like its unbelieveable that the earth and everything and everyone on it just appeared here by accident.

10:47 PM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"You, yourself, must offer proof that God does not exist."

Wrong; it's not the job of scientists to disprove every piece of nonsense just because religionists want to believe it. It's you who needs to learn a bit about how science operates.


Wrong - If the scientist is making an assertion that God does not exist then it is up to the scientist to offer proof that God does not exist. If the scientist says that he/she believes God does not exist then no proof is required; it is up to each individual as to what they believe.


Anonymous, by that logic I can say unicorns exist. Absence of evidence of the existence of unicorns is not evidence that unicorns do not exist.

This is true.


I just proved that God's promises to Abraham did not come true.
The Israelis are firmly in control of most of what happens in the Middle East, even in lands that are not incorporated in the state of Israel. Israel decided that Iraq should not have a nuclear reactor; boom!

For anybody who says, "Have faith and be saved," I have the following questions:

Have faith in which God...in which religion


Listen to God and God will guide you. Have faith and be saved.

10:54 PM EST  
Blogger Tommy said...

Beth, I am 100% atheist with respect to believing that the God of the Bible exists.

Is there some higher power that created the universe and everything in it? Perhaps. As I wrote above, such a thing can neither be proven or disproven.

That is what people like you do not understand about the debate. You define a creator or supreme being as being the God of the Bible, so you limit yourself as to the possibility of what the creator is.

What if there is a creator, but it takes no particular interest in us? In other words, what we think of us as god or deity does not sit over us in judgment, it does not care what food we eat, who we have sex with, whether or not we leave our dirty laundry on the floor and so forth.

So you see, even if there is some creator entity, I don't worry about receiving divine punishment in the after life, because the kind of God I can conceive of simply would not operate in such a fashion.

Let us pretend for the sake of argument there is a supreme being or creator. It created this entire vast universe filles with galaxies, stars, planets, and other celestial bodies, and for all intents and purposes is essentially infinite. Now, to believe that the God of the Bible is this entity, I would have to force myself to believe that this God is going to pick one planet in this infinite universe and on that planet this God is going to behave as the personal tribal deity to a small confederation of semi-nomadic peoples who for the better part of human history had a negligible impact on world affairs.

Which makes more sense on the face of it, that the mightiest being in the universe is going to reduce itself to being a tribal deity, or that Hebrew priests invented this concept of a God as a means of imposing a sense of cohesion on a fractious group of people? Of course, I would have to say that the latter is the more sensible choice.

A commenter above wrote "Look at the world around you, look at history. Do you think Jews and Christians have been persecuted in spit for thousands of years (Christians 2,000) just because? Do you think it's just coincidental that all this has happened? Do you think it's simple coincidental that Christianity started with one man, Jesus, and has grown to billions times billions and is probably the biggest and most controversial subject this world has ever seen? Why do you think Hitler butchered 6 million Jews in WWII? Just for fun?"

Well, let's just take a look at that, shall we? With respect to the Jews for the last couple 1,900 years, exactly who was persecuting them? Why the Christians of course. The Jews were vilified as Christ killers and suffered terrible persecution because of it. When some of the armies of the First Crusade were making their way through Eastern Europe on their journey to Constantinople, they engaged in massacres of Jews along the way.

It is a matter of debate as to whether or not Adolf Hitler was a Christian or an atheist, but even if he was the latter, the Germany that embraced the Holocaust, or at the very least did nothing to stop it, surely considered itself to be a Christian nation.

As for the persecution of Christians, it is absolutely false that there was a steady policy of persecution of them for 2,000 years. For the most part, Christians in the early Roman Empire were largely under the radar. The Roman state paid little attention to them, and what persecution took place was not systematic throughout the empire. It was really not until the reign of Diocletian in the late 3rd to early 4th century that the persecution of Christians was vigorously enforced, by which time Christianity had become widespread. The Roman Empire was experiencing tremendous strain at the time, and after Diocletian's death, his successors decided that there resources and time were better spent in other endeavors.

After the Roman Empire became a Christian state during the reign of Constantine, it was more of a situation of Christians persecuting Christians. As the emperors tried to harmonize the different Christian movements, the sects or movements that were not deemed correct were labelled heretics and suppressed, like the Arians and the Donatists. During the 7th and 8th centuries, the Byzantine Empire was racked by the dispute over Iconoclasm. Some Christians, when praying to Mary of Jesus, liked to use icons that represented them as a way of focusing their prayers, but they were suppressed by the Byzantine church and state because it was held that icons represented graven images, which were forbidde, according to their interpretation of the Bible. In fact, this is where the term iconoclast has its origin, as the upholders of orthodoxy would literally smash the icons of the people who used them in their prayers.

I could go on and on, but I think you get the point. If you want to talk about Christianity, whose Christianity are you talking about?

11:23 PM EST  
Blogger Tommy said...

Uhh, Anonymous, I am talking about Bible Times, as you people like to refer to it. For most of recorded history, the Jews did not control their "promised land" nor did they have an independent existence as a state.

Nice way to dodge the argument by the way.

11:26 PM EST  
Blogger Tommy said...

Be saved from what?

That's what cracks me up about you people. You are filled with this delusion that unless we all believe what you believe that we are in some kind of peril.

The fact is that until about a little over 500 years ago, the majority of the planet never heard of Jesus. If believe in Jesus is necessary for salvation, the all powerful and all knowing God sure chose a lousy way of transmitting the message.

11:36 PM EST  
Blogger Lui said...

"Have you ever stopped to think that there is really no such thing as an atheist? To be adamant that there is no God, you must know everything that there is to know."

True, except no atheist claims to have absolute knowledge that there is no God, just as you don’t have absolute knowledge that there is no Zeus or Enlil. Much less do they claim to know everything. Certainty is the preserve of religious fundamentalists and other dogmatists, not those who simply ask for evidence of God. Your characterisation of atheists is a crude caricature bearing little resemblance to how we actually think. We ask for something more than threats of damnation, moral chest thumping and weak arguments about "meaning". We ask for that which we use in all other domains of life. Why should religion be shielded from the same scrutiny? Is it because it has nothing else going for it, other than fancy claims that it can’t back up and must be believed through “faith”?

"Also, I find it hard to believe that you dont believe that everything has a maker. What if I showed you my home - it is made of bricks and mortar, but then I told you that no one made it - it just appeared here by accident. That's unbelieveable - just like its unbelieveable that the earth and everything and everyone on it just appeared here by accident."

This is an argument from incredulity: "I can't imagine how this could have come about. Therefore, God must have done it." It always amazes me how people with no knowledge whatsoever of a given phenomena can profess to lecture those less ignorant. They seem to think that their religiosity gives them some authority to speak down to others.

Please refer to previous discussions on this blog and others, or just read a bit about cosmology and evolution. The sad thing is really that you think that your argument is a compelling one. It isn’t.

12:30 AM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If everything needs a creator, then what created God?

If God was not created, then everything does not need a creator.

12:35 AM EST  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...

I see that "beth" has been doing the rounds. She posted exactly the same monologue on my blog.

8:04 AM EST  
Blogger The Jolly Nihilist said...

Listen to God and God will guide you. Have faith and be saved.

OK...when I'm wrong, I'm wrong. I actually did pray last night, to try to receive God's guidance, and I did have a powerful experience (much to my shock!)

I now worship Zeus, who personally "spoke" to me and led me on the path to salvation.

I encourage others to save their souls by worshipping Zeus--and Zeus alone.

12:50 PM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We atheists here are really missing the boat. Let's go back to the source, back...back...back... When Moses came down from the mountain he found his people worshipping a false idol: the golden calf! How could we have missed it! The proper course of action has always been there for us, written in black and white: they were testing the limits, as any good scientists would.... "Hey, if we play with this golden statue, will this 'God' get pissed? Let's see how pissed he'll get!"

I now propose a day of the year -- the anti-Christmas, let's say Feb 13--my Birthday!--where people will completely, lasciviously, disgustingly, OUTRAGEOUSLY tempt God. Take your girlfriend to the church steps and do the nasty. HEY! Whada they gonna do? Arrest you?
Shake your hand at a thunder cloud and say you can beat God at poker, whatever, baby, whatever.

If we get struck by lightning, we get struck by lightning. We'll be living up to the great example set down in the BIBLE! People test the limits to find the truth!!!!

Will it make a difference? Dunno. Scenario: 2120, a group of people discussing God: "Sheesh, remember what they did Feb13, 2087? I wouldn't have done that with all the blinds drawn and behind steel doors! God must be really pissed?....Right?"

Remember: Feb 13: DO IT BABY!!!!

4:48 AM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is archaeological evidence for the parting of the red sea (Egyptian chariot wheels, human bones etc found on the sea bed.

Go surf around the various sites here:

http://search.yahoo.com/search?p=%22red+sea%22%2Bparting%2B%22chariot+wheels%22&toggle=1&cop=mss&ei=UTF-8&fp_ip=SG&fr=yfp-t-501&b=1

11:37 PM EST  
Anonymous pgc1981 said...

lui, tommy,

just like i said no matter the evidence how credible and good and no matter the scientist you won't believe. So what's the point in even trying? why ask for evidence when all you do is say it's bogus? why ask for evidence when you already know what you response will be?

What's so great about atheism that I'm missing out on? What makes it so good?

Lui, where's the proof that hitler killed all those jews because god told him? you've said that two or three times and i've asked you for proof two or three times and you fail to offer it up, so where's the proof? or is it just some bogus statement made up by you?

4:00 PM EST  
Blogger Lui said...

"just like i said no matter the evidence how credible and good and no matter the scientist you won't believe"

That's what I've been saying to you. You've presented no evidence, just crude caricatures about what atheists and evolutionists supposedly believe. Even when corrected numerous times (which I intended as a means to help you reconsider your mistakes and actually think about them, so that you could at least have a bit of a clearer understanding of what we're really saying), you seem to revert back to your prior mistakes, and snidely retort with the nauseating, mob-mentality "I'm right because lots of people think the same way I do" argument. Sorry, but you're not right. You're wrong, and that's unfortunately all there is to it.

"So what's the point in even trying? why ask for evidence when all you do is say it's bogus?"

Because it is. I want actual evidence, not prejudiced opinion and sound-bite commentary, which unfortunately all too often passes for "analysis" in the most powerful country on earth.

"why ask for evidence when you already know what you response will be?"

Exactly, so why do you keep doing it? Someone who wants simple, comforting answers isn't going to embrace the vagaries and complexities of science. You yourself have said on several occasions that you’re not scientifically minded. So just who are you to tell me about evidence? If you effectively admit that you don’t care about what science shows us, what sort of evidence would you have me look at? What sort of evidence does it take to compel you? Does “evidence” have to come sugar coated with a nice warm message of salvation before you’ll take it seriously? (On that basis you shouldn’t believe in cancer or HIV) And upon what basis should I take your evidence seriously, if it’s even evidence at all?

Like I said, grow up.

"Lui, where's the proof that hitler killed all those jews because god told him? you've said that two or three times and i've asked you for proof two or three times and you fail to offer it up, so where's the proof? or is it just some bogus statement made up by you?"

I don't remember you asking me. And no, it's not something I made up.

From www.nobeliefs.com’s article on Hitler:

"Many have questioned Hitler's stand on Christianity. Although he fought against certain Catholic priests who opposed him for political reasons, his belief in God and country never left him. Many Christians throughout history have opposed Christian priests for various reasons; this does not necessarily make one against one's own Christian beliefs. Nor did the Vatican's Pope & bishops ever disown him; in fact they blessed him! As evidence to his claimed Christianity, he said:

"My feelings as a Christian points me to my Lord and Savior as a fighter. It points me to the man who once in loneliness, surrounded by a few followers, recognized these Jews for what they were and summoned men to fight against them and who, God's truth! was greatest not as a sufferer but as a fighter. In boundless love as a Christian and as a man I read through the passage which tells us how the Lord at last rose in His might and seized the scourge to drive out of the Temple the brood of vipers and adders. How terrific was His fight for the world against the Jewish poison. To-day, after two thousand years, with deepest emotion I recognize more profoundly than ever before the fact that it was for this that He had to shed His blood upon the Cross. As a Christian I have no duty to allow myself to be cheated, but I have the duty to be a fighter for truth and justice... And if there is anything which could demonstrate that we are acting rightly it is the distress that daily grows. For as a Christian I have also a duty to my own people."

-Adolf Hitler, in a speech on 12 April 1922 (Norman H. Baynes, ed. The Speeches of Adolf Hitler, April 1922-August 1939, Vol. 1 of 2, pp. 19-20, Oxford University Press, 1942)

“Hitler's anti-Semitism grew out of his Christian education. Christian Austria and Germany in his time took for granted the belief that Jews held an inferior status to Aryan Christians. Jewish hatred did not spring from Hitler, it came from the preaching of Catholic priests and Protestant ministers throughout Germany for hundreds of years. The Protestant leader, Martin Luther, himself, held a livid hatred for Jews and their Jewish religion. In his book, "On the Jews and their Lies," Luther set the standard for Jewish hatred in Protestant Germany up until World War II. Hitler expressed a great admiration for Martin Luther."

Like Tommy said, even granting that Hitler was an atheist who was just playing up to the mob in order to win over their allegiance, it was largely the environment afforded by centuries of religious "education" that Hitler and the Nazi Party that allowed them to carry out their atrocities. Sure, everyone likes to play dumb afterwards; you’ll see documentaries where former Waffen SS killers will appear like humanitarians who had "no choice". (That’s the odd thing about Nazi Germany; “no one knew what was going on”; “they didn’t tell us about the gas chambers”; “I didn’t hate the Jews but I couldn’t refuse the party’s orders”, “I was a patriot”; “the Russians killed my men” etc etc. You could be mistaken for thinking that no one except Hitler was a Nazi).

You should also read Tommy's Getting Killed by the Messenger. It too makes do without a sugar coated whitewash of history.

12:47 AM EST  
Blogger pgc1981 said...

Lui,

No matter the validity of that site, I can say with 100% certainty Hitler did not do God's work by killing the Jews. Any Christian who hates Jews is wrong, because if you hate Jews then how can you love Jesus, his disciples and all the prophets, since they were all Jews. From Abraham on, I believe, is where the Jewish people began, so you would hate everyone from Abraham on. I don't hate Jews one little bit, they are God's people. And any Jewish hatred sprung by Christians over time was completely wrong and I’m glad we as Christians have grown up and realized that the Jewish people are not evil.

Romans 10:12 & 13
For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile – the Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.

It’s a shame what Christians have done to people while all along they should have loved. Christianity is based on Jesus Christ not man’s actions and the influence evil has on men. Tell me one passage in the New Testament were Jesus told people to hate the Jews and kill them or hate all who oppose and kill them? I bet there isn’t one single verse, not one. So if Hitler decided to butcher Jews that was his choice and his choice alone, not the work of God

1:10 PM EST  
Blogger Tommy said...

PGC, Jesus is not mentioned in the Gospels as telling his followers to hate Jews. But whomever wrote Matthew saw fit to have the Jews of Jerusalem, in response to Pilate's defense of Jesus, cry out "His blood be upon us and our children."

The truth is that for most of its history, Christianity was anti-semitic to its core.

And the Jews were not God's chosen people. A supreme being is not going to create a universe and then select one guy and his descendants and be their special deity. If there is a creator, then all are holy, and not just a select few.

As for what is so great about atheism? Well, atheists are not much different from Christians. We go to work, raise our children, pay our taxes, mow the lawn, vacuum the rug et cetera. The only difference between you and I is that I do not go to church, I do not pray, and I do not believe in the existence of a supreme being.

9:05 PM EST  
Blogger pgc1981 said...

Tommy

"PGC, Jesus is not mentioned in the Gospels as telling his followers to hate Jews. But whomever wrote Matthew saw fit to have the Jews of Jerusalem, in response to Pilate's defense of Jesus, cry out "His blood be upon us and our children."

I know Jesus did not mention to hate Jews, He didn't mention to hate anyone. I've read matthew and the verse you are refering to is what the jewish people were saying to Pilate to get him to crucify Jesus because Pilate wanted to let Jesus go because he knew who Jesus was and he knew Jesus did nothing wrong. That doesn't mean to Christians should have hated Jews because of that.

"The truth is that for most of its history, Christianity was anti-semitic to its core."

Was, past tense, not anymore because people realized how stupid and wrong they were.


"And the Jews were not God's chosen people. A supreme being is not going to create a universe and then select one guy and his descendants and be their special deity. If there is a creator, then all are holy, and not just a select few"

Your confusing holy with chosen or selected people. Nothing makes the Jews more holy, all are equal. God chose the Jews to lead the people to salvation and that was accomplished through Christ Jesus. He chose a specific race of people, his chosen people, came a man who died to save all. And the "one guy" was God himself, or the spirit of himself in Human form.

"As for what is so great about atheism? Well, atheists are not much different from Christians. We go to work, raise our children, pay our taxes, mow the lawn, vacuum the rug et cetera. The only difference between you and I is that I do not go to church, I do not pray, and I do not believe in the existence of a supreme being."

than if its not much different than why do you care what I think or believe?

10:51 PM EST  
Blogger Tommy said...

PGC, the thing is, I don't care what you think or believe. You are the one who is coming to this blog, and now to mine even though you said you would not, I am not coming to your blog and asking you to defend your beliefs.

For me, blogs like mine and Jolly's are forums where we state what we believe and why. I am happy to answer any reasonable and intelligent question you or anyone else has to ask.

Now, you say that God chose the Jewish people to lead the people to salvation. Surely, the creator of the universe was powerful enough to appear to every person on the face of the earth, or even in their dreams, and tell them the path to salvation. Instead, in Rube Goldberg fashion, this supreme being allows this allegedly urgent and necessary news to take some 1,500 years to span the globe after the alleged resurrection of Jesus. For me, that is one of the most powerful arguments against Christianity.

11:25 PM EST  
Anonymous pgc1981 said...

Tommy,

Lui inspired me to visit your site.
you made a good post and that's why I visited your site.

10:42 AM EST  

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