love and heretics

It's better to light a candle than curse the darkness

What were the most powerful arguments for atheism to you?

A fellow blogger who is a theist made a post called
Interesting arguments for Atheism, and welcomed readers to add their own.
I found this refreshing for someone to be able to reach across the divide, and look at
a differing perspective than their own.
I encourage others to add their thoughts on the blog.
http://ichthysthinktank.wordpress.com/2013/05/20/interesting-arguments-for-atheism/comment-page-1/#comment-5

The problem of evil was a big one for me. The free will answer was not quite convincing enough for me. Considering the idea that babies and developmentally /mentally disabled are generally granted “heaven” rights by most. If babies go to heaven, without needing to experience free will…, then doesn’t that call into question allowance of all pain and suffering and evil in order to be with god?

Another one is the lack of difference between a “believer” and “non believer” in the reality of their life.
With or without prayer to an “all powerful all omni being” the lives seem to be…the same…
(lack of miracles) combined with “rain upon the just and unjust” and basically the same type of answers to prayers whether they be to god or a moss covered teddy bear…

Lack of difference in life….(overcoming sin/temptation) seems to be the same …some do…some don’t…regardless of belief systems…

(these were my tops)

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90 Comments

  1. Thank you for sharing, Holly! The more minds the better.

  2. I have some issue, I guess, with the argument that peoples’ lives, whether theist or atheist, are the same. First, I know many Christians whose lives are radically different and profoundly shaped by their faith and prayer life.
    Second, while I think a person’s faith must make a difference in someone’s life, or its just useless religion and hypocrisy, isn’t it a bit unfair to judge God by the look of His followers? Thats like judging the quality of a Giant Sequoia by its pine cone.
    I guess, at the end of the day, I just wish you knew better Christians…

    • Hello Brad. Please do not misunderstand …I too have known many shaped by their religion. Some for better…some for worse. My questions came about exactly because I thoroughly believed Jesus made a difference in a persons life. I knew of stories of people like Nicky Cruz , who turned from street thug drug addict to street preacher…dedicated to getting kids off the streets. Only thing is I met people from other faiths who had these…..”transformations” and ..oddly enough …. Some non believers who had transformations due to other things that were not attributed to anything supernatural.
      I had to ask…why? Then add too that the “rain upon the just and unjust”….do miracles happen today? What is prayer for? What about those verses that talk about power in prayer, etc?

      • Those are all big questions. And they all deserve answers though I am sure you don’t want your comments jammed up with a long discourse.
        I think for me, the biggest question is the resurrection of Jesus. Its kind of a bog deal. What do you think about that issue?

        • The resurrection of Jesus is a non issue! If we leave out whether he lived or didn’t live, he knew he was going to die and come back to life. It’s like a card game, nothing important, a trick! So it is nothing Brad.

        • I welcome opposing points of view and thought here. So do not fear my disapproval of answering questions you deem deserving of answers.
          I am on my way to work, but will respond to the resurrection issue upon my return.

        • The resurrection of Jesus. If it occurred is indeed something worthy of noting and reckoning with. The idea that their could be power of death…(and to include other miracles recorded to be performed by him…healing of sickness and resurrection of the dead. , power over how to live….(born again in the spirit/power over sin) etc..)
          If true…wouldn’t everyone be interested? Power beyond what we physically see? more to this life than what is here? life after death? miracles?
          sure….that would be kinda a big deal.
          But…if there was such power…do you believe it would be evident in how we live today? or….do you believe we are supposed to just believe (by faith) that it happened the way it did in the book, though we don’t experience miracles/power over death etc here and now…and will see it all after we die…?

          kind regards,
          holly

          • Well, I am glad to know at least that you would admit that if the resurrection were true, that it would be something worth note. Below, I copied 13 items that scholars and skeptics agree on that I think make the resurrection a matter of historical fact.
            As far as the residual power of such an event today? I think it does exist. I have seen people healed of cancer and doctors have no answer for it. I saw a man, right before my eyes, healed of a heroine addiction-no detox required.
            I will admit, most Christians have no idea what they believe and what would be possible if they followed even half the New Testament. But don’t throw the baby out with the bath water. I have enjoyed our discussion. Thank you for being kind.
            Here is that list:

            Scholars and Skeptics Agree Upon 13 Things

            1. Jesus lived in the time of the Biblical accounts.

            2. Jesus died by crucifixion.

            3. Jesus was buried.

            4. Jesus’ death made the disciples despair because they believed His life was over.

            5. Tomb was empty a few days later.

            6. Disciples had experiences that they believe were actual sightings of Jesus alive after his death.

            7. Disciples were transformed from doubters to proclaimers.

            8. The Gospel was the center of the preaching of the early church.

            9. The message was proclaimed in Jerusalem; where Jesus died.

            10. Because of this message, the church was born and grew.

            11. Sunday became the primary day of worship for many.

            12. James, the half brother of Jesus, went from skeptic to believer; once he thought he saw Jesus alive after his death.

            13. Saul (Paul) converted after he believed that he saw and talked to the risen Jesus of Nazareth.

            • That is an interesting list brad. I realize that those things are stated in the bible. I am wondering where it is noted that “skeptics and scholars” agree upon these things? I have seen many who argue the point that Jesus even actually existed. (I personally think its very likely he did, but just as Johnny Appleseed, and other legends, the stories were much bigger than the man.
              As far as I know…most skeptics and scholars don’t take the bible to be historically accurate in many accounts?

              • Notice I didn’t quote any bible verses. These are items of historical fact, credited to historians from the first century like Josephus and others.

                • Brad, are you even aware that scholars have known since the 18th Century that Josephus’s “Testimonium Flavianum” is an outlandishly careless 4th Century interpolation attributed to Eusebius of Caesarea. Do please learn your history before committing yourself to nonsense.

                  • Not actually true. They have discovered mid-2nd century manuscripts of that text that corroborate much of what we had received over time. It’s not as flowery about Jesus as we had previously thought (Josephus doesn’t really admit that he was the messiah. I would admit the early church probably wrote that in the margins early on) but so much of it looks like an accurate early edition.
                    But it’s not just Josephus. There are early Latin writers who attest to these events and the birth of the church. There are more documents from the first and second centuries citing the existence of a historical Jesus than there are documenting the life of Aristotle. But no one doubts his existence?

                    • What 2nd Century manuscript? Who is “They”? Sources please.
                      If it wasn’t a complete forgery do please explain why none of these people mentioned it:
                      • Justin Martyr (c. 100-c. 165), who obviously pored over Josephus’s works, makes no mention of the TF.
                      • Theophilus (d. 180), Bishop of Antioch–no mention of the TF.
                      • Irenaeus (c. 120/140-c. 200/203), saint and compiler of the New Testament, has not a word about the TF.
                      • Clement of Alexandria (c. 150-211/215), influential Greek theologian and prolific Christian writer, head of the Alexandrian school, says nothing about the TF.
                      • Origen (c. 185-c. 254), no mention of the TF and specifically states that Josephus did not believe Jesus was “the Christ.”
                      • Hippolytus (c. 170-c. 235), saint and martyr, nothing about the TF.
                      • The author of the ancient Syriac text, “History of Armenia,” refers to Josephus but not the TF.
                      • Minucius Felix (d. c. 250), lawyer and Christian convert–no mention of the TF.
                      • Anatolius (230-c. 270/280)–no mention of TF.
                      • Chrysostom (c. 347-407), saint and Syrian prelate, not a word about the TF.
                      • Methodius, saint of the 9th century–even at this late date there were apparently copies of Josephus without the TF, as Methodius makes no mention of it.
                      • Photius (c. 820-891), Patriarch of Constantinople, not a word about the TF, again indicating copies of Josephus devoid of the passage, or, perhaps, a rejection of it because it was understood to be fraudulent.
                      As the acknowledged authority on the life and works of Josephus, Louis H. Feldman said: “Pseudo-Justin and Theophilus in the second century, Minucius Felix, Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria, Julius Africanus, Tertullian, Hippolytus and Orgen in the third century, and Methodius and Pseudo-Eustathius in the early fourth century – who knew Jeosphus and cited from his works do not refer to this passage, though one would imagine that it would be the first passage that a Christian apologist would cite.”

                      What early Latin writers? You’re just making things up here and looking rather foolish. The fact is there isn’t a single external source mentioning Jesus. Nothing.

                    • So at then end of the day, you’re saying that Jesus is a made up character? He never existed?

                    • That’s beyond the point. Please address the questions i presented.

                    • So, off the top of my head (at McDonalds with my son right now) Tacitus comes to mind. I wanna say he was writing around the turn of the first century. He treats the death of Jesus as historical fact and even mentions Pilate by name I believe.

                    • You have a roman commenting on Christians 2 generations after the alleged death. Why is that remarkable? I’m not doubting Christian cults sprung up toward the end of the 1st century. What you have avoided answering is why none of the apologists I named mentioned Josephus…. As you seemed so confident Josephus was important. Now you suddenly don’t want to talk about it.

                    • Who’s Christopher Price? What are his credentials? I can’t find him anywhere. What is this magical 2nd century document you referred to?

                      I think it’s plain to see you don’t know what you’re talking about.

                    • I think it’s kind of unfair to have this discussion on the page of someone else’s blog. So, we should stop now. But, I do want to point you toward one person who I think has some really well thought and documented answers to questions you’ve raised. His name is Gary Habermas. He is well credentialed apologist. His dissertation on the historicity of the resurrection is excellent, as well as his book “A Case for the Historical Jesus.” Both can be accessed for free by just going to http://www.garyhabermas.com.
                      thank you for your time and your thoughts.

                    • A Professor of Apologetics at the department of theology, Liberty University, huh?

                      Well, thanks for the offer, Brad, but I prefer my authorities to be of the non-biased, impartial, open-minded persuasion.

                    • Well, he did do his Phd at Mich. St..? But what you really want is someone who thinks like you to say it to you. But isn’t that bias of a different sort? Maybe you need that computer that won Jeopardy. There’s no such thing as a non-biased, impartial, open-minded human. We all have our presuppositions that effect how we even examine evidence.
                      But I appreciate your view on the subject and I hope that you continue your journey.
                      Many Blessings,
                      Brad

                    • Peace.

                    • And what is this magical 2nd Century manuscript “they” discovered?

                    • Brad, are you familiar at all with the Quest for the Historical Jesus?

                    • I am. At least in parts I am. It was part of a larger movement that began in the middle of the last century. In general, a bunch of skeptics and very liberal theologians got together and decided he wasn’t a real historical figure…but he was still an idea worth admiring.
                      A man named Gary Habermas wrote a book in response to this movement, which I am linking to you here. http://www.garyhabermas.com/books/historicaljesus/historicaljesus.htm

            • Scholars and Skeptics Agree Upon 13 Things…. Groundless and rather childish appeal to authority. The statement is in fact woefully incorrect. The failure of any historian to actually even mention Jesus casts severe doubt on whether the character even existed.

              Now, to your points:

              1. Jesus lived in the time of the Biblical accounts…. Who says? There’s not a scrap of evidence for his life.
              2. Jesus died by crucifixion… Again, not a scrap of evidence for this alleged event.
              3. Jesus was buried…. Evidence?
              4. Jesus’ death made the disciples despair because they believed His life was over…. You’re taking this from a story, not historical evidence.
              5. Tomb was empty a few days later…. Again, a story with no historical backing.
              6. Disciples had experiences that they believe were actual sightings of Jesus alive after his death…. Story.
              7. Disciples were transformed from doubters to proclaimers…. Story.
              8. The Gospel was the center of the preaching of the early church… anonymous authors, rife with contradictions written 2 generations after alleged characters death. Product of the 1st Council of Nicaea.
              9. The message was proclaimed in Jerusalem; where Jesus died…. What message?
              10. Because of this message, the church was born and grew…. So have many religions. Islam grew faster, does that make Islam true?
              11. Sunday became the primary day of worship for many…. Whathas this got to do with anything?
              12. James, the half brother of Jesus, went from skeptic to believer; once he thought he saw Jesus alive after his death….. Fairytale with no evidence.
              13. Saul (Paul) converted after he believed that he saw and talked to the risen Jesus of Nazareth….. Fairytale with no evidence.

              • rautakyy

                1. Jesus lived in the time of the Biblical accounts.
                No contemporary information outside the story later told about him exist. Even though one could expect such as he was supposedly the one and only son of the creator entity in a culture, time and place where a number of demigods appeared as either historical, or mythical characters. However, even if we could establish that such a man existed, it has no bearing on the truth value of the resurrection claim.

                2. Jesus died by crucifixion.
                No medical expert was there to confirm his death. Even modern day medical experts sometimes make a mistake in this respect. Contemporary sources tell us, that people could survive the crucifixion. Jesu’s legs were not broken, he was taken from the cross rather early in comparrison to the normal lenght of the execution method, and he was given to wealthy supporter who had (for free?) and he bled righ before he was taken down. Dead people do not bleed, but he contemporaries did not necessarily know this. This is not even an eye-wittness account. It is a hearsay story at best.

                3. Jesus was buried.
                A nother hearsay story, but he was actually put in a tomb cave, and right after that the alledged wittnesses left.

                4. Jesus’ death made the disciples despair because they believed His life was over.
                Yes, these men had invested in Jesus, their entire lives and were obviously desparate to find new meaning.

                5. Tomb was empty a few days later.
                According to some of the same alledged eye-witnesses who had wittnessed the burial, though the sources do not agree about this. The descriptions of the empty tomb contradict each other in alarminly many issues. Apparently angels are indistinguishable from young men, so no reason to assume any angels present at the event. Anybody had a plenty of time to remove Jesus from the tomb in between him being put there and women coming to embalm him finding the tomb empty. The guards at the tomb is obviously a fabricated version inveted to refute contemporary suspicion of how Jesus disappeared from the tomb. The tomb was not sealed, otherwise the women could not have possibly thought they could embalm Jesus.

                6. Disciples had experiences that they believe were actual sightings of Jesus alive after his death.
                If these were not fabricated to give the diciples back their self respect, it only means, that Jesus did not die on the cross, wich is more than likely.

                7. Disciples were transformed from doubters to proclaimers.
                They allready had invested their lives on this one dude, the only way for them to awoid public ridicule was to move on and keep up appearances. Perhaps they actually thought that their buddy who had survived the execution performed a miracle. The fact that they were skeptics up to this point proves the previous miracles attributed to Jesus as fables.

                8. The Gospel was the center of the preaching of the early church.
                Yes, so what?

                9. The message was proclaimed in Jerusalem; where Jesus died.
                How does this contribute to any truth value of the miracles or even the entire story? Jerusalem was a big city and the movement never got a hold of it, untill the crusades. Even though, if the story of the dead rising from their graves (asserted only by one Gospel) during the crucifixion of Jesus was true, it would certainly have affected allmost the entire populace.

                10. Because of this message, the church was born and grew.
                There have been a number of religious proclamations that have produced a number of ever growing religious movements. The popularity of an idea tells us nothing of the truth value of the story.

                11. Sunday became the primary day of worship for many.
                What has this got to do with anything?

                12. James, the half brother of Jesus, went from skeptic to believer; once he thought he saw Jesus alive after his death.
                One skeptic turning to a believer is no more evidence, than any one believer turning into a skeptic. Poor James was in a situation that he would have been ridiculed for the rest of his life for being the relative of this Jesus and only way for him to awoid the scorn was to join the group of people who would not ridicule him for being the brother of Jesus. Perhaps he even believed in the resurrection story, but his belief in it is no evidence for it to be true. People in those days had no idea how miraculous the idea of resurrection actually is. If he had grown as a brother to the flesh and blood son of the creator of the entire universe, why was he a skeptic untill it became socially awkward for him not to be?

                13. Saul (Paul) converted after he believed that he saw and talked to the risen Jesus of Nazareth.
                Personal revelation is no evidence for anyone else. Having read the letters and description by Paul from the Bible it seems much more propable that he had a psychotic episode as a result of a very very unethical life.

                No historical research method with scientific integrity would conclude the supernatural events of the Bible to have taken place. Not with the awailable evidence. There are plenty of quite mundane explanations even if we could establish the characters as actual historical characters. Jesus was no more the son of YHWEH, than any of the Pharaos were the sons of gods, or Alexander the Great was the son of Zeus. Sorry. We do not even know if Jesus was any more historical character, than Heracles, or Achilleus, other famous sons of Zeus.

            • This is why I said if the resurrection were true it would be a non issue. First we already have in the old testament Elisha and Elijah bringing people back to life. In the NT we have Lazarus raised from the dead, whatever for I don’t know!
              When it comes to the Jesus story, you must accept that christians claim he was god and he knew he was to die and be resurrected on the third day and be joined with his father. For the resurrection to be a powerful show, one it should have been a mere mortal with no pretensions of divinity, he needed not know he would be raised from the dead. If the christians and all those who believe in the resurrection story have to see it as something worth our attention, they must show that he didn’t know he would rise again, that he was not god and it should have been the only one to happen.
              As long as we have people being raised from the dead whether by prophets or by spirits of god or whatever means, then his resurrection becomes just one like the rest.

              • Point well made Noel….

          • Argus

            Wouldn’t power over death (and the ability to resurrect) be interfering with God’s Great Plan?

            First it would reduce the uniqueness of Jesus to a mere statistical norm and so blow his case; second everyone would be frantically doing so before long with all the very human behaviour we’d be up to our mountain-tops in people copulating like fury anyway; third off Barack would be looking for a new job ‘cos there’s no point in bombing every sucker if it ain’t gonna kill ’em. Naaaaah, I think good ol’ Death is here to stay … thank God.

        • Are you familiar with Albert Schweitzer’s quest? He actually argued for the historical existence of Jesus, but held that the life and thinking of Jesus must be interpreted in the light of Jesus’ own convictions, which he characterized as those of “late Jewish eschatology”…I will check out the link you offered….but I did not see anything about Schweitzer’s work there in my brief glance…
          As for the discussion here, I have always welcomed opposing points of view, and most of the gang enjoy hearty discussions. don’t let the “place” deter you….
          😀

          • Argus

            Ol’ Albie was a product of his time (ain’t we all?). So—what exactly was his time, and how relevant? Some of the greatest minds in history have been religious, often with very deep convictions. (Mistaken, of course, the guys that built the pyramids weren’t Christians … but Adolf Hitler was a Catholic—no wonder he helped all those Jewish folks into the lap of God.)

  3. I ask the question in reverse: what are the arguments for the existence of God? If there are no convincing ones, I stay being an atheist. Needless to say, I haven’t found any sound arguments for the existence of God.

    • Good point David. I am not familiar with your whole story. Were you ever a believer?

    • Argus

      David: you don’t need arguments to accept God! You just have to believe. Open your arms and accept Christ, just stop disbelieving and love Him!

      Failing that go buy a Big Mac, there’s a lot of satisfaction in an ersatz burger …

  4. I read most of the arguments for god’s existence when I had already started to lose faith. The problem of evil I read much much later when I was already an atheist

    • So what played the largest role in your deconversion Noel?

      • Came from a very unlikely quarter. One was reading The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand, it is not explicitly atheist, but it can get you there. Next was bible contradictions brought to my knowledge by a muslim friend then once I was on a roll, there was no stopping me.

  5. I don’t think arguments ever swayed me – facts did
    🙂

  6. rautakyy

    One of the most convincing reasons for atheism in my view is, that all the many god stories are obvious fiction. Most of the people, if not almost all people on this planet are convinced, that most of the religions are fables. And for a good reason, as they have all the fairy tale elements in them, from wich we recognize fiction from fact.

    It is only their own religion, wether actually chosen by them (wich is comparatively rare), or if they were raised as an adherent of it (as in most cases), that they believe to be true. Not because of any particular arguments, or because of any evidence. Very few people have personal revelations, and it is very hard to have any indicator in those cases, that it was not merely a mental disorder. They do seem to come during the highest possible stress situations, wich alone speaks tons about their reliablity. It is obvious, that most people do not choose to worship any particular god, they mainly join religions through their own cultural heritage and indoctrination. It is only through that heritage people find any suggestions plausible, and if it happens to include supernatural as a valid model of explaining stuff, for wich one has no reasons…

    Not one depiction of a god stands apart from all the others. The different gods may have different attributes, but in the end they are all obviously mere andropomorphications of natural processes.

    • rautakyy, this was interesting. Were you ever a believer? I know of some who have had experiences that cause them to believe. They have called themselves even …reluctant believers. Which was very strange to me. they said they do not have a choice in believing, because of their experiences. I myself had some …”experiences” but my own were indeed in serious times of distress, and at one point, I was fasting in an attempt to purge myself from the pull of the “physical world” and to be closer to the “spiritual world”.
      Fasting, and chanting…both of which have known psychological effects on the psyche….

      • rautakyy

        No, I have never been a believer. I am an atheist in the third generation from both sides. The first outspoken atheist in my family was my grandfather, who became an atheist fighting in the Finnish civil war (wich was a bloody mess) almost a hundred years ago.

        My perspective on religions has allways been that of an outsider. I have had a couple of personal experiences, that I can imagine how I would have interpreted them, if I was a Christian, or how I would have interpreted them, if I believed in the ancient Finnish gods, or what ever supernatural. The mere realization, how very different, the interpretation of an extraordinary event would be depending on the cultural heritage of a person, has been a personal “revelation” to me, about how unlikely any explanation what has been percieved as supernatural is. Yet, I do not expect anyone ever to be convinced by my personal experience.

        Perhaps, it is a missconception, that we choose to believe something. I think people believe stuff according to what convinces them, but we may make desicions about what we would want to accept as convincing. However, we all carry our own cultural heritage, and it informs our desicions and interpretations of our personal experiences and any information we have. The first thing to evaluate anything objectively is to recognize our own biases.

        Yeah, fasting, meditating, chanting all affecting the physiology of the brain causing psychological effects. It is not so much a clever trick as it is a selfdeluding method correctly interpreted to cause one to feel weird and falsely interpreted to bring one closer to the supernatural… 😉

  7. Why is atheism something people would want to share? Check out my post on this http://moralessence.wordpress.com/2013/05/13/the-atheist-preacher/

    • Oh well Moralessence…I understand why it is a mystery to you…But for myself…coming out of religion/magical thinking was beneficial to my sanity. And it brought me peace. I believe some others have experienced the same. On the flip side, some of us have witnessed how religion has indeed caused harm to people. (not all religion or believers mind you) but anyone driven by “faith” alone without reason can be dangerous…
      Some are willing to step up and speak out because not only have they been hurt, but they have witnessed others being so hurt….

    • Argus

      As an atheist ‘wanting to share’ … if I saw an innocent wee child wandering out of the gateway towards a busy street I’d be tempted to (at the risk of being misunderstood) grab said infant and draw him/her back from the brink. No?

      If I saw a nice strange man with a bag of sweeties approaching children in our local park I’d be tempted to get over there and hover … no?

      • indeed Argus. to not….would be inhuman.

        • Argus

          In case my intent was a bit subtle for ‘moralessence’ — questioning why do atheists want to share — it’s exactly the same motivation prompting me to “spread the Good Word” of atheism; I’d no more stand by and watch a religious ‘church’ milk the flock and skin the sheep than I’d watch a kid toddle out in front of a speeding truck. Or a nice priest offering sweeties to the innocent …

  8. I agree with you that life feels easier without faith, after all, I’ve had the opposite journey to you, but I believe it is worth holding onto. I wish I could just relax and fall back into a sinful way of life but I believe that my love for God is more important than that. It doesn’t matter how much pain I feel, I hold on.

    • You either mishear…or misrepresent. Or perhaps see a reflection instead of what I am saying? Life does not “feel easier” without the faith. It feels more truthful…more honest. I know longer have to carry around things that don’t make sense…or walk in cognitive dissonance with reality. I do not understand exactly what you mean by…”wishing you could just relax and fall back into a sinful way of life…”
      what do you mean by…sin?
      I have found that my life hasn’t changed that much. I dont’ have any desire to cheat on my husband, or lie, or steal or murder or …or cause harm to others..if that is what you mean…lol…
      Coming out of my magical thinking, allowed me to stop relying on “hope and prayers” and just DO….accept what could not be changed, but yet change what could. It also took the torment out of wondering how a loving god could allow so much evil and suffering in the world…

      • I don’t think we were ever called to rely on hope or prayers. God’s will prevails in the end, prayer is just an act of obedience, a form of worship and a way of having a relationship with God. As for evil and suffering, I think I’m just about to write a post on that.

        • Argus

          As you said above “God’s will prevails in the end” — which, I guess, blows it for the concept of Free Will.

          And if God knows what you are going to do long before (millions of decades before) you form the impulse yourself, I guess you just don’t got no free will no how no way anyway?

          • I don’t believe in free will so I guess that isn’t a big deal.

            • Argus

              Neither do I. But many Christians scream out that only our having ‘Free Will’ excuses God’s tolerance of what we do …

              • Well I’m a lot more thoughtful than that. I used to be an atheist and some things don’t make sense whether you believe in God or not.

                • which things are your toppers moralessence?

                  • Well I was just talking about free will really

                    • ah, thank you for explaining.

                • Argus

                  True. We should weed ’em out and discard them. Any suggestions? (I have oodles.)

    • Argus

      MorEss:

      ‘Sin’ is in the eye of the beholder. Once upon a time the eatingof meat on a Friday was a sin. Now it’s not. God is no longer offended by a Friday Big Mac. I like that.
      So it’s fear of God that keeps you on the ‘straight and narrow’ path? You’d sin if He weren’t watching?

      To me a sin is any deliberate act that needlessly harms other people, animals, things. And I really don’t give a damn if a priest or even Big G Himself is watching—I’m my own judge.

      And I’d say I sin a lot less than you do; or most devout religious (Christians, Jews, Mohammedans, Hindus, Buddhists—name your franchise).

      • It’s fine that you think that. All I’m saying is you could be wrong. I’m not saying I’m definitely right and I’m not trying to make this into an argument.

        • Argus

          Arguments are good when they clarify points. Arguments are not good when they get nasty.

          I may be sarcastic sometimes, cynical other times, blunt when needed but if even I degenerate into nasty please point it out. I never intend nasty although I do tread on toes sometimes.

          So: let’s have an argument—if I may draw your attention back to the title of this post? 🙂

          • okay, well I agree with you – although I’m not too good with sarcasm in general. As for the title of this post, there weren’t any arguments for atheism powerful enough to keep me an atheist so I guess I struggle to remember what my own issues with religion were.

            It’s easy to have a problem with religious people – they can be idiots but the religions themselves seemed arguable enough despite an inability on many people’s parts to ‘practise what they preached.’

            But that’s the point to Christianity at least, nobody’s perfect and everyone falls short in some way; some in many.

            • Argus

              As always, to each his own.

              I guess we all see only what we want to see—you see in your religion your pathway to union with God;

              in any formal religion I see merciless Big Business grinding out a non-product and sending sales teams out into the world to convert the heathen to the brand. Franchise.

              And I only use sarcasm when it’s called for … peace.

              • No-one makes any money from my faith so I don’t think your point is entirely valid, although I know that there’s a lot of that sort of thing out there so I can see where you’re coming from.

                But like I said earlier the religions themselves don’t call people to con people into giving them money, only the people who distort them – so I would say that this isn’t an argument for atheism at all.

                • Argus

                  Possibly not from you personally; but the C of E in England has vast holdings and is (so far as I know) tax exempt. And the monarch can’t be monarcated without the Arch-Bish’s input, guaranteeing him at least wide exposure.

                  The Catholic church claims poverty and begs alms whilst the Princes of the Church live like kings (hell, it even cost the church a mere billions recently to buy off or otherwise silence all the brouhaha about Catholic priests fiddling with little children. Nothing new there, but the Holy church didn’t even blink an eyelid (or sell off the family jewels) to pay for it …

                  There’s no end of churches and ‘crusaders’ driving in around in Rolls Royces and private jets and things, all in the name of keeping God happy. My guess is that religion is Big Business …

                  • Fair enough, but, like I said, I belong to neither of these religions. So what about mine?

                    • Argus

                      If yours is formal with a priesthood and ‘churches’ and/or a hierachy in premises it’s entirely probable that the upper echelons will be pleading poverty whilst living in overt or covert splendour.

                      The buddha too is quoted as having turned his back on wealth and power to become a humble man … and I’ve been in Buddhist temples with gold abounding; in what at the time were poor countries.

                      So … what about yours? Do tell …

                    • Mine is fairly informal, you’re not required or expected to give any money to the church itself and there is no true hierarchy, although there is a pastor. It’s just a genuinely community based church and it’s lovely to be a part of it.

                      This sort of thing may be hard to come across, but it’s out there

                    • Argus

                      Prophecy time:

                      a. Either your wee church will expand, get bigger still, recruit more officers, get impressive vestments, send out salespeo— missionaries, bigger premises, open new branches; or

                      b. it will disappear in a couple of generations.

                      In the meantime it sounds idyllic and I wish you all the luck in the world. It sounds exactly how they all should be …

  9. Argus

    Again it all boils down to ‘faith’ versus facts; people we term rational require facts, people we term religious don’t.
    Which means the better (most appealing at the time/place) salesmanship wins the whole pot. And the pot is what it’s all about: sales of nothing to bring in good incomes and vast holdings (untaxed too—beat that!).

    Salesmanship is given a head-start in lands wherein their particular franchise is already well established—in some lands it is effectively compulsory anyway (with a death sentence, figurative or literal, for major* non-compliance).

    Facts will not convert a genuine devoted faither, no more than appeals to Jesus, God, gods, goddesses, virgins, spooks, ghosts, eggs, Bibles, Korans, miracles, science, satire, Torahs, priest, sarcasm, facts, mullahs, kindness, fictions, rabbis …

    The whole argument is a form of absurd and quite fruitless mental masturbation—for both sides it accomplishes nothing (but feels good at the time). Unless you are in the presence of mundane religious power, in which case better to either shut up and make meaningless obeisance or get the hell out of Dodge—be it Riyadh or Alabama.

    True, we can explain and make public our own reasons for ‘conversion’ (in either direction) which as Catholicism well knows is good for the soul; but our personal reasons would only convert a mental pigmy on just our say so. Logic will not convert—possibly never has, possibly never will—it has to be an emotional thing. Faith cannot be defeated by logic. The seeds have to fall on fertile ground as it were.

    As I said, it’s fun trying though …

    *Financially threatening

  10. Argus

    An afterthought: as any Jesuit knows, get ’em while they’re young. Reach the kids before they are too contaminated—

    first up = best dressed

  11. rautakyy

    I went to see the blog you posted the link to and had a somewhat interresting conversation there and one in a nother topic the author of the blog “braudcj” invited me to, but as so many other Christian blogists, he applied censorhip of ideas. No matter, if you are being polite, it seems many believers feel personally insulted, if their core beliefs are questioned.

    Braudcj refused to play with me any more. He is within his right as a blog author not to publish any of my comments, but I have no other explanation to his behaviour, than that he could not come up with a rebuttal to my comment in wich I refuted his “Thomistic Argument”, since he never published it. His blog now looks like he had the final word in our conversation. I hope he revells in his little delusion.

    This same thing has happened to me one too many times with Theistic blogists, even though I have allways been polite in my conduct. Perhaps the true believers can not help feeling insulted, if their gods are put to test. Are the gods such an inherrent part of their personality, that they really do not know where they themselves end and their gods begin?

    • Yes, It looks as if it will not be a very productive discussion, but i have not had time this past week to look more deeply into it. I just noticed that he seems to be getting to some of the posts that were left in que now?

    • Argus

      RAUT:

      Censorship is a very powerful argument. Can’t be beaten, in fact—if the opposing point of view isn’t aired, then it simply doesn’t exist.

      I think it could be (to a degree) countered by googling the guy’s name, and everywhere he posts a comment work your own point in as well, there? (He can censor his own but not other folk’s blogs) (that would take collusion).

      • rautakyy

        Thanks for the advice Argus, but he finally came through and published my final comment. He never replied it, but I do not mind. I do not enter these dialogues to collect “coups” or have some sort of petty victories. I only want to learn what other people think, why and have a conversation, aaand perhaps to point out there might be an alternative point of view – namely mine.

        It might be, that I allready overreacted as the comments by me and Allallt had been just waiting in a queue while the blog owner was busy somewhere else. Though, in light of my previous experience with Christian bloggers, I doubt it. I have had entire exchanges between me and a blog host removed from the comments section after some Christian host felt they and their god were somehow (politely) cornered. I do not care. That is interresting in itself.

  12. Your question turns the whole idea of atheism on its head for me. There were no arguments for atheism so much as a lack of arguments for any particular religion. I seem to be in a odd situation of not having been raised with a religion in the first place, so it’s the religious people who want to convince me of something that I don’t already believe who have the burden of proof on them. I was reading some of the earlier comments here and one thing that strikes me again and again when I read comments by Christians is the degree to which they think Christianity and religion are synonymous. That’s not a given for someone like me.

    When I was in my late teens and early twenties, I went through a period of finding out about religions. I can’t say that I gave Christianity any greater thought than any other religion. Perhaps a little bit more, but that probably because I have a few friends who are practicing Christians (well, were…) and they used to ask me to go to church with them, which I did on a few occasions. However, it’s not all about the prayer, the meditation, the community and love, like they want you to think it is when they’re trying to sell it to you. Pretty quickly you get to the things they want you to do, most of which I won’t do. They tell you things are bad that I think are good, that black is white and up is down.

  13. I do want to add that I’ve come to agree with you in respect to the importance of free will even in the afterlife. I find the solution in the concept of Purgatory (though I have other theological reasons for it) which would allow the effects of freely willed decisions in the afterlife to have their course.

    • Very interesting Braudcj. I certainly understand your position. I think the “free will” idea certainly has holes if one does not include something that lasts after what we see here.
      Purgatory, or reincarnation would be two possible ways to fill some of the holes.
      Have you read CS Lewis’ The Great Divorce? My favorite write up on the afterlife by far. (fiction of course…but…it works. 😉 )

      • Lewis’ work is probably the foremost reason I take the free will element so seriously. As it turns out Lewis himself was a believer in Purgatory, though most evangelicals seem to conveniently forget that ;P.

        • Ah, well many evangelicals consider him quite the heretic. (especially those that have read all his works deeply… 😉 )
          As a youth, I read all Lewis, and George MacDonald…I saw no problem with god…
          ultimate reconciliation, everything is redeemable…suffering and evil (and free will )all fit into that easily. It was all the theology and doctrines of Christianity that caused me to re-question everything. (as they did not fit)
          Free will in itself is quite the bugger though. It’s not all it cracked up to be. I think it is rather a mix of some things we have choices on..and many we do not. And people have various amounts of freedom or choice, from lots to very little if none…
          So for there to be justice…in the sense that we generally define it…there would have to be more than we see here….

          • I’m not sure it would be a matter of having more free will, so much as it would be a matter of having free will with respect to the right situations (like in choosing whether you will believe a or non-a instead of having your belief determined).

    • Argus

      Purgatory? I never really understood that—I’ll have to revisit via Wiki and bone up a bit. I did read somewhere this—

      “Mr Gabriel, Sir, I think I’ve just died—can I come in?”

      “No, my son! It says here that you’ve a few unexpurgated sins you must clear before you may enter—”

      “Bugger~! … oops?”

      “Have that one on me, Lad, we’ll let it pass. Now off you go to Purgatory—it’s a sort of halfway clearing house. Once you’ve been purged clean come on back up and we’ll let you in; just go down the clouds and first left.”

      flit – flit – flit – flit

      “Is this—”

      “Purgatory? Yup. Says here yer down for ten million aeons, that’s not too bad—kicked a cat, did ya? Aah no … blasphemed the name of the Holy One, not good—”

      “It doesn’t look too bad—”

      “You gets yer choice, y’know. One choice only and yer stuck wiv it. Some guys choose the hot coals … ya get disrobed then run around while the angels toss embers at you. Gotta wear the ball and chain though, slows yer dahn a bit—”

      “I’ll pass, thanks. What else?”

      “Ya could sit in the booth and listen to Blilly Graham sermon recordings 24/7, with a background of Gregorian religious chants—”

      “Sounds good—”

      “But it doubles yer sentence—”

      “I’ll pass on that too, thanks. Hey—what are those guys doing over there, the ones up to their waists in liquid shi—”

      “Don’t say it! Naughty words add to your time! They’re just having their tea break, ten minutes every three hours for tea and bikkies, a meal break of thirty minutes every four hours—”

      “Yuk! Is there any other alternative?”

      “Nope. One of three, make yer choice, quick nah, the queue’s backing up behind yer—”

      “I’ll join the tea and bikkie bods, please.”

      “Okay, but it’s irrevocable? Okay then, get over there and just join in. No need for interdukshuns.”

      squelch squelch squelch

      “Hi, friend. I’m new here—”

      “Hi, Newbie! We’re just finishing tea break. Not a problem, just listen to the Sergeant Major and do what he says—but be sharp about it, he doubles your term if you’re too slow. There, he’s about to orde—”

      “ALRIGHT YOU LOT! EVERYONE, BACK ON YOUR HEADS!”

      • Well the Purgatory I have in mind is more along the lines of becoming more righteous in your desires, not necessarily a place for being punished for some unforgiven sins. One is called a “Satisfaction model” and the other (the one I hold to) a “Sanctification model”.

        • Argus

          Put me down for whichever has the hugs and coffee …

          • (((argus))) 😀 so glad to see you around again. 🙂

            • Argus

              Always likewise, Ma’am.

              Here’s a few to start with—

              wag wag wag wagwagwag

              —and plenty more where they came from~!

              • extra cups for you argus. 🙂

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