December 1, 2014

Online troll or therapist? Atheist evangelists see their work as a calling

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Matt Davis, 33, from Buxton, England, photographed in his home, where he often posts comments on blogs and religious websites. Religion News Service photo by Alison Baskerville

Matt Davis, 33, from Buxton, England, photographed in his home, where he often posts comments on blogs and religious websites. Religion News Service photo by Alison Baskerville

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(RNS) Two years ago, “Max” was a devout Catholic who loved his faith so much he would sometimes cry as he swallowed the Communion wafer.

Then came the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, where 20 schoolchildren and six adults were murdered by a troubled gunman. At that moment, a bell went off in his head, he said, ringing “there is no God, there is no God.”

Now, Max goes by his online handle “Atheist Max.” A 50-something professional artist from the Northeast, some days he now spends two or more hours online trying to argue people out of their religious beliefs in the comments section of Religion News Service.

Max left more than 3,600 comments in the past 12 months, making him RNS’ top commenter. Many of his remarks can be interpreted as angry, hostile and provocative, casting him in some minds as an Internet “troll” — a purposely disruptive online activist who delights in creating comment chaos.

He’s written “Jesus is despicable” or its equivalent more than once — red meat to some readers who come back at him with fervor. Other users have called him “mean-spirited” or “angry.”

Matt Davies, 33, from Buxton, Derbyshire uses his tablet at home, where he often posts comments on blogs and religious websites. Religion News Service photo by Alison Baskerville

Matt Davis, 33, from Buxton, England, uses his tablet at home, where he often posts comments on blogs and religious websites. Religion News Service photo by Alison Baskerville

But interviews with Max and other atheist “super-commenters” on various religion websites reveal there is more to their motives than disruption and rage. While some may see them as trolls, they see themselves as therapists. And far from seeking chaos, they have their own codes of conduct they say help them keep their online conversations from becoming a stream of insults and hate.

At a time when online trolls are often blamed for spreading hate online, Max and others say they’re actually living out a kind of vocation that calls them to push back — sometimes gently, sometimes not — against what they see as the true source of hate and intolerance in the world.

“I really don’t want to be a jerk,” Max said, speaking on condition of anonymity to protect family members, including an uncle who is a priest. “I’m determined not to attack the person, but the belief. I’m not sure if that has worked, but I’m looking for better ways all the time.”

Max is not alone in classifying his online commenting as more benevolent than belittling. Several atheist super-commenters mentioned a concern for others as motivation for spending up to 10 hours a day arguing about religion online. They characterized their comments as a duty, maybe even a kind of missionary work.

“I suppose you could describe it as a responsibility,” said “Rocky,” an 18-year-old Canadian atheist who discusses religion and politics on computer game chat boards including TombRaiderForums.com. “First it started as a way of expressing myself, but I realized more and more how changes really can happen in people and how I could help those changes happen.”

A lifelong atheist, Rocky has his own rules of engagement. He tries to be respectful, to place himself in the other person’s shoes, and refrain from name-calling. (One swear word from another commenter and he is out.)

Sometimes, he says it actually works. He noted a virtual conversation he had with a gay Christian who expressed depression and self-loathing because he felt his faith condemned his homosexuality.

“What I did was question what about the Bible makes homosexuality wrong,” Rocky said. “I asked him to try to break apart the religious belief and the hypocrisy. I think he came to terms with it because of what I said.”

Max’s personal code of conduct is in flux. He is always “pushing the envelope” in his comments, he said, as a way to work out his own, newfound unbelief.

Atheism and commenting are “still new for me,” he said. “I don’t know where the limits are. I’ve crossed the line and then I felt bad. I’m trying to sort out how to attack religion forcefully … but not attack the person who has the belief.”

Matt Davies, 33, from Buxton, Derbyshire photographed in his home, where he often posts comments on blogs and religious websites. Religion News Service photo by Alison Baskerville

Matt Davis, 33, from Buxton, England, photographed in his home, where he often posts comments on blogs and religious websites. Religion News Service photo by Alison Baskerville

But most atheist super-commenters don’t report much success de-converting the religious. Matt Davis, a 33-year-old British atheist who engages in religious debate on multiple American religion and atheist sites, says he often feels frustrated by the distance between himself and those he spars with.

“Most people won’t change their minds,” Davis said. “But maybe some of the people reading and not commenting might be on the fence and I might influence them.”

Maybe, said Jonathan Bishop, the expert behind The Crocels Trolling Academy, a website dedicated to online trolling. He calls atheists who try to de-convert the religious via the comments sections of websites “domination iconoclasts” and notes they have their own contribution to make to the free-for-all Internet.

“Where the trolling is done to inform, as opposed to harass or stalk, then religious trolling of this kind can be helpful in encouraging those religious or anti-religious groups to look at themselves before pointing at others,” he said.

Hemant Mehta, whose Friendly Atheist blog attracts an estimated 4 million page views a month, experienced that firsthand when he posted an interview with a Texas Christian whose daily comments on his posts often result in the blog’s longest comment strings. Behind the provocative commenter, he said, was a “real human being” who was thoughtful, considerate and measured in his opinions and his comments.

“He is not trying to be antagonistic for the sake of being antagonistic; he is just on the other side of the fence from me,” Mehta said. “He honestly thinks I am wrong about everything and I think the same thing of him. And that is interesting. I think my site is stronger for not necessarily giving him a voice, but for not shying away from that conversation.”

Prompting conversation is what keeps Davis, the British atheist, commenting. He reads a lot of online stories about religion, as well as comments from “fundamentalist Christians” and “right-wing” people, and worries when he feels there is no counterargument to their statements.

“I feel it is important not to let that stand without putting my point of view across,” he said. “If I can make a couple of people slightly more reasonable, less confrontational, then it makes the world a better place.”

KRE/AMB END WINSTON

  • Texas Dervish

    I’m sure no one is surprised that trolls don’t see themselves as trolls. No one is the villain of their own story. But trolling is as trolling does. Who asked them to provide this “therapy”? Whom do they think they are serving, other than their own obviously outsized egos? As a religious person, I see people like this as paramount examples of the way a lack of religion leads to arrogance and pride.

  • Larry

    One thing that sets Max apart from most atheist/anti-theist internet posters is that he will look beyond the usual offensive/goofy parts of the Old Testament and discuss the hypocrisy and unpleasant aspects of the New Testament as well.

  • rob

    He displays to much hate for Jesus for me to believe that he believes Jesus does not exist…
    Sin death and the devil for now are A max- god and masters

  • Fourth Valley

    The most successful missionaries were those that forcibly converted people through violence.

    However, putting those aside, the next most successful ones are the ones that attempt to bridge the gap, to foster understanding, emphasize points of commonality betwixt the missionary’s beliefs and the beliefs of the ones they are trying to reach. Ones who seek to attack or demolish the beliefs of another are met with resistance. The missionaries who try to work with another to explore that persons beliefs are the only ones who can cause real change.

    If they truly see themselves as evangelists, they need to come to terms with that fact, and reassess their strategies. Attacking a person OR their beliefs does NOT work, as many, many studies on debate have shown. Until they learn to work with their targets’ beliefs, they will only be seen as trolls.

  • Larry

    The irony is just amazing here.

    How often do we see arrogance and pride from those with devout religious belief as a matter of course? Its the general attitude taken by believers. Especially most devout Christians.

    In many ways devout Christian belief serves to satisfy one’s ego. One deludes themselves into the idea that they are the only people who are really of the faith, who read the scripture correctly and follow it as intended. Everyone else is either going to hell or too ignorant to be considered.

    The typical response to a difference in belief is not polite discussion but a pronouncement that the other person will be going to hell but they speaker as, “being tight with God” shall not. That the believer considers their view of scripture as the only one which God mandates.

    Even worse is the patronizing and ignorant aspersions cast towards atheists, members of other sects or faiths. That they are somehow without purpose or moral content because those people do not believe in the same things. What makes it especially galling is the blatantly repeated use of canned half-thought out (or completely factually incorrect) arguments on given subjects. The Gish Gallop wasn’t invented by atheists.

  • Larry

    It is far from hateful to tell the truth of a matter. That there is no credible or objective evidence for something.

    It is hateful to wish someone harm for telling you something you do not want to hear, but is honest.

  • @Texas Dervish,

    “Who asked them to provide this “therapy”?”

    Nobody asks for battered wife syndrome – yet that is what religion looks like when you leave it and look back at what you have been through. My natural human desire to be helpful is reach back to those people and hold their hand, so to speak. Is that really so cruel. I hope not.
    Because the therapy goes both ways. I am enormously grateful to those patient Atheists in my life who ‘gave me permission’ to think freely when my own Atheism hit me hard.

    I mean, who asked to be indoctrinated in the first place?
    It starts when we are too young to think – our infant bodies are dipped in the baptismal fountain and we are raised henceforth to utterly fear the thought process.

    Surely, you would rather see a Muslim extremist convert to Atheist Humanism!
    Surely, you would rather see a Christian teenager live without constant fear that his natural masturbation will lead him to Hell!
    Surely you would rather not see homosexual teens kill themselves for seeing themselves as incurably evil!?

    “…a lack of religion leads to arrogance and pride.”

    You claim to know what God wants of me.
    I’m okay with that as long as you don’t call yourself ‘Humble’ for doing so – okay?
    Don’t kid yourself that the arrogance comes from the doubters like me who say “Does God exist? I don’t know, but I can’t believe in it.”

    You holding fast to a claim. Not me.

    ____
    AM
    For Peace, Humanity and the Separation of Church and State

  • Eric Fry

    Whether atheist or Christian, if you have to hide behind anonymity in a religious discussion, you’re probably just trolling

  • @rob,

    Yes. I do hate the Jesus character.
    I hate the things he is claimed to have said (I’m not sure he even existed).

    But I don’t hate you. Nor do I blame you for believing. I believed once also.
    Please don’t take my hatred of the Christian idea personally.

    “Bring to me those enemies of mine who would not have me as their King and execute them in front of me.” – JESUS (Luke 19:27)

    This is from Jesus’ parable of the Minas.
    It is a horrible, disgusting parable.

    rob – I care about people – not parables!
    Real people have been slaughtered because of the words attributed to Jesus.

    I only ask, is this really necessary?
    Can’t we agree that the New Testament is full of terrible nonsense without taking these things personally?

    Religion is a terrible way to interact with people and it is a terrible, primitive philosophy which should be overhauled or chucked.

    ____
    AM
    For Peace, Humanity and The Separation of Church and State

  • Bob

    Re the title, no, speaking for myself, what I do is not a “calling” in that no deity, nor any other being, is “calling” me. I won’t claim to speak for other atheists here. However, my criticisms of religion and the religious are a social responsibility, as others including Max have said eloquently.

    It is classic religio-think to try to assign cause of some effort to a deity or some other mysterious entity by labeling the effort source a “calling”, but that is neither justified nor necessary, and merely hides the question rather than looking at it honestly and openly. I see it as laziness.

  • rob

    The World Hates the Disciples of Jesus

    John
    18 “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. 19 If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you

  • The Great God Pan

    The definition of a troll is not “someone who disagrees with you.” The only obvious troll I have seen on RNS was “ronald.”

  • @Eric Fry,

    “Hide behind anonymity”

    That is a fair criticism. It won’t be forever.

    But As Kimberly Winston pointed out, it is not my Atheism that is the problem. The problem is my ANTI-Theism.
    Why needlessly harm someone? I’m dealing with those people one at a time and it is going slow.

    Besides, arguments should be lucid enough on their own and it is the arguments which must succeed – not who said it.

  • rob

    A-Max

    I always will take it very personally when some one hates the head of my family .. Jesus is my Lord and savior and he is my brother and the head of my family ..

    and any one who reads all of Luke chapter 19 will see how dishonest atheist’s have to be as they pretend to be creditable sources about the bible .. which they are not. or never have been .. and you so easily prove about atheist’s

  • Pingback: Weekly Buzz: 12/1/14 | Jesus & Dawkins()

  • Max is a regular at my site also. Others in my commentariat consider him an annoying presence and have urged me to deal more strictly with him. I find his personal commentary far more interesting than when he bumbles in quoting Scripture at non-fundamentalist Christians.

    3600 comments? That’s a description of desperation. Not delivering therapy.

  • MG Bazemore Jr

    You’ve never seen the religious exhibit this arrogance? Might be time to revisit Matthew 7:5

  • Texas Dervish

    “You holding fast to a claim. Not me.”

    False. You are making a claim as surely as I, and to believe otherwise is philosophical laziness. Since we are debating competing claims, it’s no surprise that we each view the other as arrogant in holding to a false claim. Humility, in each of our worldviews, lies in submission to the truth; we merely differ on what that truth is. That’s why I qualified my remark with “As a religious person” — I was laying my bias out openly, for all to see and take into account.

  • Texas Dervish

    First, you’ve have assumed — incorrectly — that I am a Christian. Second, you have made assumptions about Christians which are themselves gross generalizations and largely incorrect themselves. Third, you have misunderstood the process by which I concluded that the subject of the article is prideful. That’s three strikes. Care to swing again?

  • Chris LaRosa

    “As a religious person, I see people like this as paramount examples of the way a lack of religion leads to arrogance and pride.”

    You can’t be serious. You must be reading different sites than I am. The most arrogant and devisive commentors I’ve consistently experienced are fundamentalist Christians. Of course, that’s not how they SHOULD act, but, alas, the power of pride and bigotry has overtaken many of them. And sadly they are too blind to see their ineffectiveness as “ambassadors” to Christ. I figure God is going to have to raise up another generation of believers that are humble and loving because these past generations pretty much effed it up. Arrogance and pride, indeed.

  • Texas Dervish

    Battered wife syndrome is a false comparison. A battered wife goes to a licensed psychotherapist to discuss her problem; she makes an appointment to see him/her, and pays for the privilege (or someone does). What you do, gratuitously and unsolicited, can be most charitably advertised as advertising your services. But you display no qualifications to perform the “therapy” you claim to offer, neither any way for people who have been genuinely abused by religion to receive it — apart from your angry rantings on this website. To describe what you do as therapeutic to anyone other than yourself is, by any reasonable measure, the height of arrogance.

  • Rocky

    @Bob

    I was a little surprised at the title of the article myself, people treating Atheism as if it’s another religion has always been annoying to me, and hinders actual discussion involving it. Evangelist is a distinctively religious word for instance.

    Social responsibility is definitely the way I would prefer it to be presented, rather than analogous to religious concepts. I’d chalk the title up to an editor looking for more clicks though.

  • @Texas Dervish,

    “You are making a claim as surely as I..”

    No, I’m not.

    I am an Atheist. I say,
    “I don’t know if god is real. I see no reason to believe that it is.
    So I don’t believe in it.”

    That is not a claim.

    You are a Theist. You make a distinct claim.
    This is the Theist claim:
    “God Exists, I know it, and I know which God is true and I KNOW exactly what that God wants of me.”

    Not only do Theists make this claim, but they insist it refutes all other Theist claims as well as the Atheist who simply shrugs if off.

    If you have evidence that your claim is valid, please show it.
    Whether a person is ‘religious’ or not, there should be some way to demonstrate that your claim is true. Your self-proclaimed religious person bias does not educate me regarding your evidence.

    I don’t mind if you want to believe these things but remember that there are millions and millions of us who do not need these beliefs and we do not want them in our laws. And it is the invasive, clerical bullying which is most troubling about religion. It can’t just keep to itself for some reason – it must project itself onto everyone else.

    ____
    AM
    For Peace, Civility and The Separation of Church and State

  • Texas Dervish

    Tu quoque fallacy. Strike one.

  • Texas Dervish

    As I said to someone else, you are invoking the tu quoque fallacy. Many things lead to pride. Bad religion is one of them, as you point out. Atheism is another. True humility and true religion go hand in hand. When you practice one, you are practicing the other — even if you don’t know that’s what you’re doing. Humility is one of the essential virtues at the heart of religious practice, and the one that is easiest to overlook nowadays.

  • Texas Dervish

    Occam’s Razor is not a rule of logic. It is a heuristic used in the empirical sciences to simplify analysis — where “simple” is in the eye of the beholder. To a medieval astronomer, the Ptolemaic system of circles-within-circles was “simpler” than Aristarchus’s heliocentric model because it involved fewer challenges to his existing worldview. Only when Kepler presented decades’ worth of careful observations could the heliocentric model be accepted as simpler than the geocentric one.

    All of which is to say: You are making the claim: “If no empirical evidence exists for God, than I should not believe in God.” Your failure to recognize this as a claim is the philosophical laziness I spoke of.

  • @Texas Dervish,

    “To describe what you do as therapeutic to anyone other than yourself is, by any reasonable measure, the height of arrogance.”

    You are taking the ‘therapy’ thing too far.
    I read RNS new stories carefully and challenge the claims as I find them.

    The lovely thing about debate is that anyone can ignore Atheists
    if they want to. I’m sure you agree with that.

    Meanwhile, I must remind you what arrogance
    looks like:

    “The only remedy for homosexuals is that they be put to death.”

    – PASTOR ROBBY GALLATY
    Tennessee Megachurch
    September 4, 2014

    Yes.
    If someone goes through their life thinking this Jesus stuff is real
    they will need to do a lot of work to figure out how and why they ever allowed this religion stuff to play with their heads and their hearts for so long.

    I don’t know if god is real or not.
    But if there is no truth to these claims it all adds up to one heck of a dangerous set of toys to be playing with! And all religions seem to have the same sinister plan:

    “Slay the unbelievers in daylight” – Yahweh God of the Chosen Jews (Num.25:1-9)
    “Slay them all wherever you find them” – Allah God of Muslims (Surah 2:190)
    “Slay them in front of me” – Jesus God of Christians (Luke 19:27)

    You are defending a nightmare.

    ____
    AM
    For Peace, Civility and The Separation of Church and State

  • Rocky

    Evangelist was only used in the title, and it’s certainly not how I described myself.

    Atheism is not some religion with different beliefs from all the others, it is simply the lack of belief. It’s impossible to reconcile beliefs in the way you describe, because it is belief itself that mark the difference. The way the beliefs are deconstructed is what’s most important in this context anyway, I think. Probably depends on what you constitute as an attack on your beliefs however. I’ve also rarely been called a troll for expressing the problems I have with religion, though that may have more to do with where I discuss it.

  • Hi Todd,

    Yes, I tried to engage in a few things at your blog a few weeks ago.
    You were very gracious.

    Thank you for allowing me to try to discuss a few things there.
    I appreciated the chance though it was short-lived.
    I think many of your participants have difficulty with the word “Atheist” and that was my problem there.

    I still have a hard time letting a religious claim go unchallenged:

    “God turned into his own son to come to earth and die”
    Why?
    “Because God needed a blood sacrifice”
    Why?
    “Because God wanted to save us from the Hell that God made”
    Why?

    It is just incoherent to me now.

    Here is the question which bothers me the most:
    “How did I ever believe this nonsense?”

    Yet, I surely did.

    ____
    AM
    For Peace, Civility and The Separation of Church and State

  • @rob,

    I don’t doubt that you believe these things. You are free to do so.
    I have nothing against you at all.

    But why does your Jesus force you to support laws which infringe on my rights?

    The Hobby Lobby court decision granting Christian religious rights to a corporation is only one minor example of the poison that is infecting our country because of religion.

    Creationism in schools, rolling back women’s rights, gay rights, reproductive medicines – all of this is a nuisance to the rest of us.

    “Selfishness is not living your life as you wish,
    it is asking others to live their lives
    as you wish.”

    – Oscar Wilde

    I make no demands of anyone except this:
    Please keep your religion out of our laws!

    and we will all get along fine…

    ____
    AM
    For Peace, Civility and The Separation of Church and State

  • @Texas Dervish,

    “You are making the claim: “If no empirical evidence exists for God, than I should not believe in God.””

    Thanks for your response but you have made a huge mistake.

    The word which reveals your fallacy is ‘SHOULD’ as in, ‘should not believe in God.’ You are talking as if we have a choice in what we believe.
    And this is absolutely not true.

    For example:
    I do not have a choice to believe in Gravity.
    If I try to NOT believe in gravity it will not prevent me from falling as I leap out of a window.

    Nor can I choose to believe in mermaids. I will require evidence first.

    We have no control over what we believe. When we are young we are told that there is evidence for God and our parents and priests show us the ‘evidence’ and we completely believe in it.
    But once that ‘evidence’ vanishes you are in a place where you either need new evidence or a new way to see the old evidence.

    I once had reasons to believe in God, but those reasons have vanished as I gained new information.
    The reasons are gone.

    Belief is not a choice.
    You are not choosing to believe in God, you have (what you think to be) strong evidence of God. Unfortunately, that evidence does not appear to be valid to those of us who have tried to examine it.

    I should remind you that ‘faith’ is not evidence. Faith is pretending that evidence exists despite the lack of evidence.

    Is there some evidence of a God that you can point to which would change my mind? I am open to any evidence you think you have – but I’d be surprised if I haven’t already considered it.

    ____
    AM
    For Peace, Civility and The Separation of Church and State

  • @Texas,

    So much to unpack.

    “Many things lead to pride.”
    What is wrong with a little pride? Evolution clearly decided it would be helpful for our survival – better to seek wise ways of taming it and recognizing it than to banish it.

    “…Bad religion is one of them, as you point out. Atheism is another.”
    All pontificating is prideful to a degree. As I said, better to tame it and be aware of its use than to banish it as if it were ‘sinful’ – which it cannot be.

    “True humility and true religion go hand in hand.”
    The ‘no true scotsman’ fallacy won’t help you. One could easily argue that Humility is more dangerous than pride. For example, “The meek shall inherit the earth” (Jesus, sermon on the mount) is a despicable preachment – it appeals to the masochistic in us as well as the sadistic – promising riches for the subservient and obedient. “Question Authority” would have been far more useful to humanity than this insipid slavish nonsense.

    “When you practice one, you are practicing the other — even if you don’t know that’s what you’re doing.”
    That is part of the problem with religion – it is unthinking and doctrinaire. Casual subservience to authority and primitive surrender.

    “Humility is one of the essential virtues at the heart of religious practice”
    The fact that humility is considered a virtue is exactly why religion is so immoral. To teach people to act slavishly toward an unaccountable authority is anti-human, anti-liberty, and anti-civilized.

    Please don’t take it personally Texas, because this comment is not toward you.
    But religion truly disgusts me. And your argument in favor of humility illustrates why. Humility is so wrong.
    It throttles liberty and the only freedoms we have ever achieved from the dark clutches of human history.

    ____
    AM
    For Peace, Civility and The Separation of Church and State

  • Rocky

    No True Scotsman then, huh?

    You’re making the assumption that all religions require humility for someone to be a true member of that religion as well, while there are plenty of religions where humility is a virtue not all of them require it. It would be quite arrogant if you’re saying you’re a true member of your religion and others are not, if that is what you are saying. Not to mention implying no Atheist could be truly humble.

    Your first comment was also about how the lack of religion is what you think causes arrogance and pride, you mentioned nothing about bad religion causing it.

    To phrase it like you have, you’re invoking the No True Scotsman Fallacy and moving the goalposts of discussion.

    ‘Bad’ religion or not it’s still religion that causes such things is it not?

    (Additionally, trolls are aware of what they are even if they don’t call themselves such. A troll posts with the intent of causing outrage. Being enraged by a comment does not make the commenter a troll unless that was their original intent.)

  • Larry

    That is too funny. As if there hasn’t been anything patronizing in your tone whatsoever. The “assumptions” I made about devout Christians and their prideful online behavior is more of an observation. A not kind description of typical often seen conduct of such people. Christians being the most common people behaving in such a fashion.

    Religious people like yourself are all too quick to see the arrogance and cockiness in atheists without much reflection of their own conduct, Generally all sorts of rude, tone deaf and nasty-minded behavior gets ignored, gets a pass or encouraged if one is doing it “for God’s team”.

  • samuel Johnston

    Hi Texas D.,
    ‘Who asked them to provide this “therapy”? ”
    Who asked Christians to aggravate others with their mission to evangelize the world? Who asked God to sacrifice his son, to invent hell and heaven.
    Your assertion that atheism leads to pride is unsupported. Your claim to religion is undefined. In short, you are playing games, and yes you can call this “ad hominem” , and try using you own name so you will not be called a Troll.

  • Larry

    I guess, “people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones” is just a false aphorism. It has no meaning to people whatsoever.

  • rob

    A =MAX JUST MORE OF YOUR DISHONESTY in pretending now to be credible about Christianity ..

    show us where Christians have ever claimed God turned into his Son..

    your just full of crap ..

  • Larry

    “True humility”, “bad religion” so why would these not be completely self-serving meaningless terms? You will determine what these things are?

    Such pride and arrogance your belief seems to have that you can tell what is really true humility and good religion when believers besides yourself can not. Its amazing how you can talk of humility yet show no trace of it whatsoever.

  • Thanks for responding, Max.

    Somehow, you don’t strike me as the type of person to be daunted by the possibility of people objecting to your atheism. I have one or two regulars who probably wear their Catholicism a bit more gaudily than I. But they are pussycats, really.

    I don’t think much of those three claims you listed either.

    You are welcome to my site any time. (I don’t believe in trolls–at least not in the working definition, “People who insist on saying stuff I disagree with.”

  • The Great God Pan

    Why is it that your comments here evince a smug condescension that most people would associate with arrogance and pridefulness rather than humility? Do you suppose you could ever convince anyone that you are not deeply impressed with yourself?

  • @Rob,

    “show us where Christians have ever claimed God turned into his Son…”

    That is easy.

    GOD MADE HIMSELF INTO JESUS

    “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (John 1:1)
    “The Word [God] became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
    (John 1:14)

    JESUS IS THE ONE TRUE GOD

    “Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28)
    “God was manifest in the flesh” (I Timothy 3:16).
    “For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form.” (Col 2:9)
    “Jesus said to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am.'”
    (John 8:58)
    “I and the Father are one.” (John 10:30-33)

    Though I do not believe any of this stuff anymore to be true, When I was a Christian it was clear who ‘Emmanuel’ was.

    Isaiah 7:14 (NIV) – Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.

    Matthew 1:23 (NIV) – “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).

    Emmanuel means “God With Us” as in, God became man that his pure blood could be the proper sacrifice for redeeming humanity.
    God required a blood sacrifice and only God had pure blood so….God did it himself – sacrificed Himself for humanity.

    It is ridiculous.
    Yet that is what is the Christian claim.

    Remember. An Atheist is only a person who finds these stories unbelievable. I am not claiming they are impossible – only that I cannot believe it at all.

    ____
    AM
    For Peace, Civility and The Separation of Church and State

  • I won’t believe I am an Evangelist
    Until the Government gives me a tax break for it

    ….like the tax breaks Evangelists get.

  • @Fourth Valley,

    Corporations like Hobby Lobby
    have been handed the right to use religion to limit the insurances their employees can purchase as per the corporation’s religious decrees!

    THAT is Evangelism becoming fascism – it is a very European thing to do!
    And it is what Thomas Jefferson hated about Europe.

    Hobby Lobby is an attempt to force people to behave according to religious decree. This sort of thing should be unconstitutional – instead the Supreme Court has ‘blessed’ it.

    “In every country and in every age, the preacher has been hostile to liberty. He is always in alliance with the despot, abetting his abuses in return for protection to his own.”
    
-Thomas Jefferson

    Religion poisons everything.

    If that makes me an Evangelical, so be it. I’ll be expecting my Tax Break.
    The kind of Tax Break Evangelicals get!

  • samuel Johnston

    @ Rob,
    “hate for Jesus ”
    Since almost nothing is known about the historical person Jesus, it is difficult to
    see how hatred of a “person” is really relevant. The Bible does not present a person. It presents a supernatural story of creation and causality involving the relationship of the men to the Gods. It is this story that Max and myself object to.

  • @Todd,

    Thanks again.
    And yes, I was surprised to read how many posts I have made at RNS over the last year or so. I learned a lot and got to know many posters here – it has been awesome. I appreciate RNS and other commenters for bearing with these often long discussions in the comment sections.

    “you don’t strike me as the type of person to be daunted by the possibility of people objecting to your atheism.”

    Oh, you are quite right about that. I meant to say that your readers seem to have difficulty looking past the word “Atheist” – it certainly doesn’t hinder me, but I think it hinders them.

    At least one of your contributors spent quite a long while scolding me for being Atheist before he got to the point.

    “I don’t think much of those three claims you listed either.”
    I wish you would elaborate. If not here, perhaps via your blog on a special page for doubters.

    There are millions of us Atheists who simply don’t speak up. But given an opportunity you might get to know them. Many are in church each Sunday (as you probably know).

    ___
    AM
    For Peace, Civility and The Separation of Church and State

  • Doc Anthony

    Mr. Atheist Max, they say that you have done “3600 comments in the last 12 months.” Unexpected news, to say the least.

    Sheesh, I thought I was doing pretty good as an RNS troll, but I see now that I gotta REALLY crank up the juice around here.

    Atheism is ***totally worthless*** on its best day, so this Max troll needs some good hot repartee around here. For his own good, of course. So turn up the heat, RNS posters, TURN IT UP !!!!

    PS…Make sure Larry gets a little brimstone too!!

  • Doc Anthony

    You may want to re-read the article, Max.

    “Max said, speaking on condition of anonymity to protect family members, including an uncle who is a priest.”

    Don’t be so quick to let folks talk you out of anonymity. It’s okay to be mindful of family.

    If you are an RNS blogger like Winston, then you have to use your real name. Don’t even try to hide. But if you’re just a commenter, there’s nothing wrong with using a little anonymity to protect your family. (Especially if you know that you’re going to lob a few grenades every so often.)

  • Doc Anthony

    Here’s the problem Max. The RNS article says…

    “Then came the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, where 20 schoolchildren and six adults were murdered by a troubled gunman. At that moment, a bell went off in his head, he said, ringing “there is no God, there is no God.”

    …And now, because of this one Sandy Hook tragedy, you spend 3600 posts a year, 300 posts a month, trying to convince rational people that God-Hates-Women and Jesus-Wanna-Kill-Everybody.

    There’s just this big RATIONAL DISCONNECT that’s going on somewhere here, you see? You’re leaving question marks strewn all over the place.

    For example, why didn’t this big bell of yours start ringing after the Colombine Massacre? The Virginia Tech massacre? The World Trade Center bombing? Did you have the snooze button pushed or something?

    In other words, how did you avoid falling into the quicksand trap of atheism on THOSE huge tragedies of the past, yet this one Sandy Hook gig totally messed you up, all by itself, and turned you into a big-time RNS Atheist Evangelist? Where’s the rational explanation for your newfound atheism?

    I do have a lot of fun bantering back and forth on RNS. I enjoy being a Fundie Troll, honestly. But sometimes there are serious questions (not attacks, just questions) that pop up all of a sudden. I invite you to respond to these questions.

  • rob

    Now just like a kid caught in the cookie jar your trying to prove your dishonest statement that Christians believe God turned himself in
    to Jesus by bible verses.. that disprove that ..

    are you really that mentally challenged when it comes to interpreting and comprehending
    simple sentences the bible makes ..

    I think not .. your just dishonest .

    was means turned into

  • Life has been a reaction to the void since ‘Eve’ asked ‘Adam’ “Why am I?” and he couldn’t find an answer. One of the ways we react to the void is by trying to fill it and one of the ways we try to fill it is our religious/philosophical reaction to the void. The religious part of the reaction contains myriad created life views and if someone believes the Christian view their answer to the question of meaning is “I am to be a Christian”. Atheism is on the philosophical side. An atheist can also have life views but they are without God. Their answer to the question of meaning is “I am to be an atheist”.

    Thus by trying to fill the void with opposing views theists and atheists contribute to the conflict that is obviously destroying humanity. We can only save humanity by discarding our opposing views, agree to wonder and become what we are capable of being, the ideal reaction to the void.

    RNS has always graciously allowed me to attach links to expand my comments. There are several I could leave but I don’t want to test their limits so I leave the link to God which seems appropriate. http://www.thelastwhy.ca/poems/2006/9/26/god.html Thanks.

  • rob

    @ Doug Barr

    You said
    “Life has been a reaction to the void since ‘Eve’ asked ‘Adam’ “Why am I?” and he couldn’t find an answer.”

    Most likely because Eve never asked Adam SUCH A silly question ..

    SHE knew very well that she was created by God and that why ..

    HER FAULT WAS IN THE DEVILS QUESTION TO HER ..DID GOD REALLY SAY ?

    WHEN SHE KNEW.. God DID say for her not to eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge ..

    its where all heresy’s begin the devil asks

    did God really say YES HE DID homosexuality is sinful
    DID God really say he hates divorce ? YES HE DID
    THE DEVIL knows each persons weakness and comes to them with did God really say love your enemies .. well yes as a matter of fact he did.

  • rob

    ADAM and eve were made in the image of God .. that does not mean Adam looked like OUR TRIUNE God for—— God is Spirit .

    IMAGE MEANS KNOWING GODS WILL FOR ONES LIFE PERFECTLY..

    Adam KNEW why God made him and eve and eve knew it to.. do you?
    Isaiah 43:7?

  • @Doc Anthony,

    “Where’s the rational explanation for your newfound atheism?”

    There is more to the story. Kimberly is limited for space.

    9/11 gave me my first real doubts about God. But I still believed in Jesus. The difference between having a little bit of faith in God and ATHEISM – is oceanic. Huge.

    I explain it on my blog.
    https://atheistmax.wordpress.com

    About 3600 posts? yeah. That was a surprise to me too.
    But hey. This has been huge life-changing thing. And it was exhilarating to learn that I am not alone.

    There are millions of us Atheists who once believed in God who are experiencing Atheism for the first time in our lives. I have met many Atheists who were as shocked to arrive at unbelief – as I was.

    I DID NOT ask to be an Atheist. It happened and I sought out like-minded people to discuss these matters.

    RNS just happened to have an engaged readership so here I am.
    I felt betrayed not by my family, or God but by religion itself – a compilation of claims pulled from thin air centuries ago.
    Though I don’t object anyone’s right to believe in God, I am very much against those who push God into our laws and force the rest of us to comply.

    One of my first thoughts after discovering God had vanished was…What do I do with my Rosary?

    The one thing people must not say about this experience is that I have been ‘dishonest’ or ‘arrogant’.
    I have never been more honest or more in awe of how much I do not know.

    Religion is dying off in America – it is disintegrating. And it is nothing to be afraid of.

    But if you want to know why it is happening, listen to what Atheists are telling you. We are being honest – we see no god behind the wheel.
    Most of us are as surprised as you are.

  • @Doug,

    “agree to wonder”

    Yup.

    Atheism = “I don’t know if god exists or not, but I see no reason to believe in it.”

    That is the ideal platform for wonder.
    No dogma. No claims.

    But wonder cannot survive if Theists keep running things,
    making religious decrees and laws and shutting down the debate with ‘Faith’ and Creationism and other nonsense about Hell thrown at children.

    ____
    AM
    For Peace, Civility and The Separation of Church and State

  • Neon Genesis

    I don’t really care if Atheist Max is trying to argue in favor of his atheist position or not and I don’t really care that he’s an atheist. I call Atheist Max a troll because he’ll hijack articles that have absolutely nothing at all to do with immorality in religion and start throwing out random bible verses that have nothing at all to do with the subject the article is talking about and completely ruin any reasonable discussion that might have been going on with his off topic ramblings. He quite simply has zero debating skills and continues to ignore any valid counter points anyone makes in response to his paranoid sensationalist claims. For the record, I feel the same way about the religious fundamentalist bigots that keep trolling these articles too.

  • coffemidget

    I have to disagree with you there, Eric. At least in the U.S. there is such bias against atheists that there really is no benefit to be gained from revealing one’s non-belief. Atheists are the most hated minority group in the country after all. Religious people tend to get VERY upset when their beliefs are challenged. There is little to no upside in going public with one’s non-belief and a tremendous downside.

  • Fourth Valley

    “It’s impossible to reconcile beliefs in the way you describe, because it is belief itself that mark the difference.”

    If that is what you believe, you should not be trying to convert people to your belief system as nothing you do will work. However it sounds as if you are not trying to gain converts, thus my post is not talking about you. I was only talking about the ones that view themselves as missionaries, yet are so hostile they’ll never gain converts.

  • Fourth Valley

    So?? Your method of debate only makes the Hobby Lobby supporting goons more fanatical. You ironically strengthen religious belief, you make the “poison” more potent, so to speak.

    Good job Max!!

    Thanks to you, by ignoring everything science says about the proper way to convince people of your viewpoints, the religious fanatics are more sure of their beliefs and more fanatic!!

    But eh, you’re a man who thinks bats do not have wings, so strengthening religious belief in an attempt to destroy religion is about where your intellegence level is at.

  • Abra

    And the term “true religion” is an oxymoron, (unless of course, used to reference your egocentric religion of choice.)

  • William Deitenbeck

    This jerk puts the lie to the fiction than atheists are not devious, immoral characters, that they just want to be left alone. I don’t appreciate RNS for trying to legitimize such hateful behavior.

  • Jon

    Thank you Atheist Max, for your posts.

    They are well supported, honest, and refreshing.

    I of course haven’t read all of them (who could?), but of those I read, I can see that you have likely already helped hundreds of people open their eyes.

    You help make me proud to be human.

    Have a great day-

    Jon

  • Greg

    The ability to add your voice to a conversation (in my opinion) is one of the greatest opportunities the internet has provided for the Christian voice. Why? (1) It’s a place where Christians who never share their voices, can get their feet wet. Most Christians will never openly share there faith because there are either afraid, too nervous, or don’t know where to start. The internet is a great place to start. You can practice. (2) It helps to formulate a solid opinion on various social topics. Many Christians today have a very weak worldview because they never take the opportunity to engage the world with the Good News. The internet is a great place if not the best place, because all the important social issues of the day are only a click away. (3) It is a great way to temper your conversation and response. Like anyone else, Christians are passionate in what they believe. It is easy to get drug into unhealthy, mean spirited and unproductive conversations. The internet can teach us to be more patient and loving in our responses. Before you respond, stop and read what you just wrote, take a breath, cool down before you respond. I call it the “Thumper rule.” “If you can’t say something nice don’t say nothing at all!” (you get the point” And finally (4) How we respond can teach us something about ourselves. For every “internet troll” I find there are a dozen so-called Christian “internet trolls.” No wonder why the world has such poor view of Christianity as being divisive, unloving and mean spirited. Stop and read what you write! Ask yourself: “What does my response, say about me?” “What does it say about what’s my heart?” “Is my response more about my ego or is it about sharing the good news of Jesus Christ.?”

    “For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the same measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?” Matt 7:2-3

    Something to think about! 🙂

  • Karla

    Jon-Read Romans 1:18-32. Creation is proof there is a creator. For someone
    to look at the universe then say that this world of design is just random chance
    is just being blind and it takes more faith to believe that this whole world formed
    from nothing than to believe in God. God/Jesus are very,very real. God bless.

  • Nothing wrong with a little questioning, ridicule, or education.

    Evangelically Atheist: Leaving Worship –
    http://www.eatheist.com

  • John

    Another vapid article from RNS that exposes the worst troll on their site. By the way, interviewing him and giving him a forum only weakens your already poor reputation!! Unfortunately you don’t seem to be smart enough or willing enough to do anything about it.

  • Frank

    Thanks for confirming who exactly needs long term and intensive therapy.

  • Larry

    As they say, there is plenty of room under the bridge for the trolls. 🙂

    Thanks for the shout out!

  • Larry

    I could not agree with you more about the anonymity.

    I had a bad experience many many moons ago on another board where a brief accidental departure in the anonymous account on my part led to someone doxing me (releasing personal information from one’s online footprint as a harassment tactic).

  • ben in oakland

    You know what is really funny?

    Exactly the same thing can be said of religious dominionists, people who define the sins of others– by which I mean homosexuality in particular– as the worst sin, people whose ignorance on the subject is just astounding, whose detachment from the reality of facts, logic, and experience is beyond amazing.

    But it doesn’t stop them, does it?

    as an atheist and as a gay man. I see people like this as paramount examples of the way RELIGION, especially of the biblical literalist type, often (but not always) leads to arrogance, pride, and a really nasty sense of entitlement.

    And the worst party of it is their pride in their ignorance, and their arrogance in being willing to harm innocent others and call it “love”.

  • Ron

    You hang yourself on your own comments.
    “As a non-religious person, I see people like (the above) as a paramount example of the way religion leads to arrogance and pride.”

    Thank you sir. As an Atheist I have nothing to add.

  • ben in oakland

    We’ll, now I’m hurt. I post almost as much as Max does on a variety of websites, and no one interview me.

    I’m not an atheist, though. I’m an it-doesn’t-matterist. I know very few thoughtful atheists who will proclaim there is no god as a matter of absolute certainty. Most of us would give worlds to see proof of any god at all, let alone the three-in-one Christian god. Hell, I’d settle for incontrovertible proof of a leprechaun. But there isn’t any.

    I’m not an anti-theist, I don’t hate god, I don’t hate religion. What I hate is DOMINIONISM. It’s a real love the sinner, hate the sin kind of a thing, doncha know?

    I hate the mindset and beliefs of people who think god told them it’s just fine to fly airplanes into buildings, or set off a nail bomb on a crowded bus, or who marry ten year old girls and have their clitorises cut off.

    I detest the theology of people who proclaim that “God said it. I believe it. That settles it.” when what they really mean is “I believe that my particular version of god said something that I prefer to believe despite all of the evidence and I will use the coercive power of the state to enforce it on you.”

    I despise the churches and ministers that proclaim how much they love people, and then do anything in their power to harm those people, under the pretense that to do otherwise is not loving. “I’m only doing this because I love you, just as god commanded. ” What the hell kind of an excuse is that? Max is right. That’s the abusive husband talking to the battered wife.

    I’m with Max on one thing. I’m not trying to convert anyone that I’m arguing with about the rightness of my beliefs. If that were possible, I’d be happy, but I don’t expect it. No, I’m writing for all of the people who don’t post, who are trying to understand.

    I’m writing not for the antigay theocrats. No one is ever going to change their minds. nothing short of a rhetorical 2×4 upside the head will EVER do that. For whatever reasons they have– and I’m sure none of those reasons bear much scrutiny– they are giving the thinnest veneer of respectability to this ancient and vicious prejudice by calling it “sincere religious belief.” As if that were any kind of an excuse.

    I’m writing for the people who are thoughtful, kind, and decent, who really haven’t made up their minds yet.

  • ben in oakland

    and yet, here you are.

    RNS is not a religious site. If you want that, go to wing nut daily or Barbwire.

    RNS is a site about religion.

  • ben in oakland

    name calling does not prove your point. AT ALL.

  • ben in oakland

    As always, rob, you like to make up stuff.

    Let us make man in our own image, after our likeness.

    Of course it doesn’t mean what it says,.

  • ben in oakland

    I know of no atheist who has flown a plane into a building in the name of atheism.

    I know of no atheist who has claimed “youre just not good enough and I will harm you” in the name of a being he doesn’t believe in.

    I have never heard of an atheist who claims that to prevent men form sinning, the clitoris of a little girl should be cut off.

    Yes, there have been some very bad atheists, but the crimes they committed were not done in the name of atheism, but in the name of ideologies that proved themselves to be harmful and destructive to human health and happiness.

  • ben in oakland

    As a gay man, I do hide behind a pseudonym. but not because I am trolling.

    40 years ago, I did it to protect myself.

    35 years ago, I did it because I received more than one death threat for daring to speak publicly.

    10-30 years ago, I did it to protect my livelihood.

    Now I do it because of all three.

  • C

    “I’m writing not for the antigay theocrats. No one is ever going to change their minds. nothing short of a rhetorical 2×4 upside the head will EVER do that.”

    –this violent imagery may be the type of thing Max was referring to when he said “I’ve crossed the line and then I felt bad.”

  • ben in oakland

    Whoopsie. not what I meant to say at all. Now I do it on the internet only, because there is way to much crazy out there.

    Just delete that last line.

  • Garson Abuita

    Max, congratulations on the write-up and please tell the rest of us how to get a RNS feature of our own. Three hopefully constructive criticisms: 1. Why not embrace the “evangelist” label? Aren’t you trying to spread the “good news” as you see it? If anything, your “concern for others” often comes across just the same as the evangelical Christian “God loves you so much that he is sentencing you to eternal hell if you don’t believe in him.”
    2. You have compared your work to oncology, seeing yourself as fighting the “cancer” of religion without harming the “patient” believer. But as you know chemotherapy is a pretty brutal process. So consider whether your dosage is proper.
    3. At least as to the Old Testament, as I’ve pointed out before, your Bible quotes are often out of context and sometimes just incorrectly translated. You’d be harder to skip over if you did not do this.

  • Neon Genesis

    I must also say it’s very offensive to real therapists and people with actual mental illness to compare Atheist Max’s trolling to therapy. Any real therapist that behaved like Max does would be in jail or at least fired and other sensible site would have banned Max instead of giving him a platform for his bigotry.

  • Jon

    Karla-

    Please read Upanishad Mundaka 9:18 – 24,
    Rigveda 3:4-11
    and from the Holy Qu’ran Sura 27:25

    Oh, did you say that you consider those to be simply the writings of humans, distorted over the ages and having no authority?

    So anything based on them is simply a baseless assertion with no validity to you?

    So how does that feel?

    Best – Jon

  • Hi Garson,

    Thanks, RNS is trying to research why people leave comments. I stand out because I have been the top commenter (I’m embarrassed by the 3600 posts). I absolutely will cut way back from now on which should please the faithful.

    1. I guess I don’t mind being called Evangelical. My Evangelical messages are:
    “It is okay to be Atheist”
    “Keep Church State Separation” and
    “Religious Freedom for Everyone.”

    However what I am NOT Evangelizing is, “God does not exist.” That is not my message. I have no idea whether a god exists and no intention of taking away people’s religious freedom to believe.

    2. “consider whether your dosage is proper.”
    I agree. But this is what we are up against:
    “The only cure for Homosexuality is that they be put to Death” – Pastor Rob Gallaty, Tennessee Megachurch, Sept 4, 2014.
    How does civilization continue with such bigotry at the direction of gods? I’ve been struggling with how one even approaches such a religious person to help them examine the dangers they are promoting – it is not easy.

    3. “your Bible quotes are often out of context and sometimes just incorrectly translated.”
    I understand – but I hate a wall of text so I struggle with ways to paraphrase
    while pointing out that people should do further research on their own.
    As for the translations, I use Bible Gateway. There are several to choose from.

    For the record, I’m not alone.
    Millions of us have abandoned religion and we are trying not only to figure out why we ever believed it – but who we can talk to about our journey.
    And what we can do to nurture a little skepticism about the god claims. One can easily understand how this huge shift away from Religion would be an important RNS story.

    The price of religion is unbelievably high to society (Creationism, Dominionism, Armageddon, Vicarious Redemption) and it should be abandoned.

    ____
    AM
    For Peace, Civility and the Separation of Church and State

  • @Neon Genesis,

    “Bigotry”

    Nonsense.
    If it is not bigotry to preach about Jesus
    It CANNOT be bigotry to preach against Jesus.

    People have rights. People have a right to religious freedom.

    But Christianity, Islam and other religions are just bad ideas in the world.
    Bad ideas do not have rights.

    It is not bigoted for a Democrat to argue with a Republican or vice versa.
    Ideas must be argued.
    Don’t fetishize your religion to something more than it is. Jesus is nonsense.
    If you have no evidence for your claims about God don’t rely on others to agree with those claims.

    ____
    AM
    For Peace, Civility and The Separation of Church and State

  • Jack

    I guess this is the equivalent of becoming the teacher’s pet in school. Atheist Max is politically correct so he gets a patronizing pat on the head and a little gold star from the “progressive” school marms at Religion News Service.

  • Ben in Oakland

    There is a difference between rhetorical and real.

    Look at Mary Griffiths, mother of bobby Griffiths, who killed himself in despair because he could never be straight, and his mother let him know just how much he was worth in her eyes, and in the eyes of her god.

    He was worth NOTHING, not in comparison to her insane beliefs about homosexuality and what it means to be gay,. and he killed himself.

    Now Mary Griffiths realizes the price she paid for her spiritual arrogance, and her preference for some badly translated passages of an ancient book to the love she should have born for her son.

    That was the rhetorical 2×4 upside the head.

  • Karla

    Jon-Bible prophecy is why the Bible can be revered/trusted. Read
    Psalm 22:16-18 and also Isaiah 53:3-7. Jesus among other gods by
    Ravi Zacharias is a good book to read as well. Only one God went
    to the Cross/died for our sins because there is only one God. If there
    were/are other ways why would Jesus go to the Cross? Jesus Christ
    is the Messiah and He/Jesus is the only way to heaven! God bless.

  • Jack

    Max unintentionally provides comic relief so I don’t consider him to be a “villain.” He is, however, not exactly a stickler for accuracy, to put it mildly. If something’s on an atheist hate site, it’s good enough for posting, whether it is accurate or not.

  • Jack

    Larry, let’s be candid here. If everybody and his uncle, non-Christians and Christians alike, continually point out the obvious — that you regularly engage in rather sweeping generalizations about Christians (much the way southern whites did with black Americans), you probably need to take that accusation seriously and correct your problem.

  • Ben in Oakland

    People preach violence and hatred against gay people on a daily basis. They are willing to tell any lie, no matter how vicious, distort any truth, no matter how obvious, reach for any fallacy, no matter how divorced from facts, logic, or experience, for that purpose.

    Today, Scott Lively said that gay sex is worse than genocide. Really. Cardinal George said that by wanting marriage, gay people have lost touch with humanity. Really. Pat Robertson said that gay people have special rings to cut the hands of people in order to give them AIDS. Really. Peter sprig wants gay people exported or jailed. Really.

    And these are just the so-called Christians. ALL OF THEM. We have the mullahs in iran that judicially murdered two boys a few years ago for the horrible crime of being gay. Really. We have the rabbis in Israel that called a gay pride march the rape of the holy land. Really.

    And you are complaining about the “”violent imagery” in referring to a rhetorical 2×4.

    REALLY.

  • Neon Genesis

    See? This right here is exactly my point. Atheist Max completely ignores any of the legit points I made about him taking the subject of an article or post off topic to rant about something completely irrelevant and just repeats his same ‘ol nonsense and misconstrue everything I said in my post. Atheist Max is a troll and a liar plain and simple.

  • Jack

    Okay, Ben, so there are lots of arrogant people on all sides.

    But I could have told you that long ago.

    I would say this fits rather nicely with the biblical assertion that humanity is fallen and needs redemption.

    Hang around anybody long enough and you will see ample evidence of it.

  • “Bad ideas do not have rights.”

    Alas, Max has echoed the very worst of organized Christianity here: error has no rights.

    Max, you may say you have divested of Christianity, and that you have nothing in common with religious fundamentalists, but I don’t see it. I’ve responded to your first premise above, pretty much blowing it up, on my own site.

  • Jack

    True, Larry…..Max is an equal-opportunity basher of both testaments. No artificial division for him between the supposedly vengeful God of the Old vs. the supposedly merciful God of the New.

    Whenever Max sees any mercy or compassion in either testament, he unsheathes his magic marker and puts a big X through it.

    And that’s why Max’s Bibles are filled with X’s, cover to cover.

  • I have no problem with Max getting a feature. Good to know he has his own blog, too. It looks worth visiting.

    His own story is illuminating, and answers a lot of questions.

  • Jack

    Your problem, Max, is that you are an anti-religious fanatic in the same way that other people are religious fanatics or political fanatics. It becomes a monomaniacal obsession….and the fanatic becomes a walking billboard for his obsession.

    It’s comical in one sense, because all obsessed people can be unintentionally funny and easy to lampoon.

    But since the topic you’ve chosen to obsess about is an admittedly serious one — ie ultimate questions about the nature of reality — people can be forgiven for not always laughing at your antics.

  • Jack

    Max, I believe that Larry and the others are correct. It is a good idea to stay anonymous and anyone here who is posting their real name is not doing the smart thing.

  • Jack

    It has nothing to do with being gay or not gay, Ben. It’s simply crazy for people to post their full names on message boards, unless they’re the writers of the articles, obviously. You don’t need any special reason not to post your full name. It’s simply a bad idea no matter what.

  • Jack

    Wrong, Eric. Totally wrong. Relinquishing anonymity on public message boards is a bad idea.

  • Jack

    You are correct, Rob…..Even if Christians behaved perfectly, they would be hated because of their message, which is one that exposes every member of the human race, including themselves, as deeply fallen people living a lie who need redemption. That is a deeply humbling message that nobody naturally wants to hear. The miracle is that anyone at all, let alone hundreds of millions of people, hears and heeds and responds.

    Christians in that sense are the ultimate whistle blowers — on themselves and on everybody else. Every Christian’s testimony is a reproach on everyone else. It is saying that we’re all in on this lie about ourselves, God, and reality, and the Christian is the one saying, “I want out of this lie and I’m going public about it.”

    That is ultimately why Christians are so hated, even to the point of being violently persecuted unto death in certain places.

  • Jon

    Karla, try some google-fu.

    If you look into the prophecies from the various, different Bibles (you’ll have to pick which Bible, how many books, etc, first), you’ll see that they are vague and often wrong. There are plenty of instances of clearly false prophecies, as well as “prophecies” written about past events.

    If you see the vague prophecies as being convincing, they you can see that the same type of fulfilled prophecies can be found in other religious books, such as the Qu’ran – so you can either argue that they are both inspired by a god, or that neither are.

    Both? Neither? Your choice.

    -Jon

  • Todd,
    Are you saying “ideas” have rights?

    A Christian has a right to practice Christianity.
    But he doesn’t have the right to silence criticism of Christianity.
    The right to one grants the other.

    “execute them in front of me” – Jesus (Luke 19:27)

    This is a bad idea, a bad parable, a bad bible lesson and it has no rights except that it not be censored.
    I know you don’t like everything Jesus said, you don’t like my proof texting and you don’t agree with my interpretations of the bible.

    Christians are free to practice the legal portions of Christianity if they want to (Witchburnings and stonings are out).

    Which is why I take such issue with this:
    “The only remedy for homosexuals is that they be put to death”
    – Pastor Robby Gallaty
    Tennessee Megachurch
    Sept 4, 2014

    The problem is my proof texting.
    The problem is the proof texting by people who believe this stuff.

  • Larry

    Its hardly a sweeping generalization when one sees the behavior on a regular basis. The baseless and rather silly insult hurling at atheists by Christians is so obvious at times, it would be grossly dishonest not to take note of it.

    There is nothing more pathetic than showing annoyance over being accused of something rather than trying to refute the accusation. People like yourself are always quick to attack others but seldom have the nerve to deal with responses in kind.

    Texas made a rather silly remark about atheism as a source of unearned pride and arrogance in a way that showed unearned pride and arrogance.

  • Rocky

    Atheism is not a belief system, please stop acting like it is some kind of religion. Since it is not religion, you cannot use the same methods used to convert people to a religion if one wants to convince people to be less religious. Just because it has to be done a different way does not mean it cannot be done.

    You would not try to convince a racist individual that all races are equal by reconciling with their beliefs of racial superiority; reconciling a belief is a great away to get someone to agree on something that does not contradict their beliefs but it won’t change the belief you are appealing too. Calling their belief stupid isn’t going to get you anywhere either, but explaining why it is wrong can. It doesn’t always, but it can.

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  • Karla

    Jon-Read the Case for Christ by Lee Strobel. Someone is right and
    someone is wrong! Both can’t be right. Every other religion says you
    have to do good works and earn your way to heaven but Christianity
    says there are none good…not even one.That’s why we need Jesus
    to save us! Who went to the Cross? Only Jesus did! Many want to
    discredit Bible prophecy but it is very,very specific. Psalm 22:16-18
    and Isaiah 53:3-7 are both very specific about Jesus and came true
    with 100% accuracy. Thanks for all of the feedback. God bless.

  • A 50-something professional artist from the Northeast,

    I.e. group home resident collecting disability.

  • Dave W.

    “You must be reading different sites than I am.” What a “Duh” comment. We all tend to read sites, that enhance our predetermined beliefs. The fact is. Perception is everything. When an atheist argues with a believer. He. as well as most atheists, who are reading the exchange, will see his comments as logical. While the believer may find them to be arrogant. It works the other way, as well. The believer thinking hes’ logical. While the atheist thinks he’s arrogant. Thus, no matter the site. We will see the logic of those whom which we agree. And we will see the arrogance of those with whom we disagree.

  • David

    Texas Dervish, you assert that lack of religion leads to arrogance and pride. How does this happen? What is it about atheism that leads to this?

    In one of your other comments you qualify that only bad religion leads to pride, but that all atheism leads to pride. How does this happen?

    Thanks!

  • martha

    Art Deco, what does your insult accomplish? Belittle Max and maybe people won’t listen to the meat of what he says?

  • martha

    What in particular is funny about Max? What is comical? Do you find him funny because he has such a dramatically different world view from you that it can’t be anything but hilarious? I don’t understand that. I don’t find what Christians say as funny. I find what they say generally sincere, albeit misguided. Certainly not funny.

  • Deb

    You see these “ironic” attitudes ONLY in Christian writers? Apparently
    you have only read “Christian” writers answers.

  • Jon,

    “Please read Upanishad Mundaka 9:18 – 24,
    Rigveda 3:4-11
    and from the Holy Qu’ran Sura 27:25”

    Excellent answer.

  • @Jack,

    “Your problem, Max, is that you are an anti-religious fanatic….”

    I’m quite upset about Beheadings of innocent people by religion.
    Genital mutilation of innocent children, boys and girls by religion.
    Creationism taught in schools from Tennessee to Texas.
    Armageddon taught as a solution to Global warming.
    Stripping gays of civil rights.
    Stripping women of rights to their own bodies.
    stripping humanity of its own rights against the religious rights of corporations.

    If you cared about anyone other than yourself
    maybe you would make it YOUR problem also!

    For shame.

    ____
    AM
    For Peace, Civility and The Separation of Church and State

  • Signature Max is to dump into the thread a kitchen sink of Bible quotations over and over again. Like everyone else, I skim over it.

  • No, martha. He’s ‘funny’ because he is barely coherent and highly repetitive and his interventions have the texture of a schizophrenic on a city bus muttering to his auditory hallucinations. Now Kimberly Winston tells us, in all seriousness, that he was terribly surprised to discover at age 50 something that s**t happens. Which is mordantly funny.

  • Neon Genesis

    For once, I actually agree with you.

  • Max, you’re going to have to do better than quote some podunk pastor to avoid that you got punked by your own comment. He’s not in the conversation. You and I are. I note you stole a comment from the Church. You had nothing more to offer, so I will take it as a concession on your part. Better luck next time.

  • @Art,

    Why did God allow the murderer to find a parking spot at Sandy Hook Elementary knowing he would kill 20 beautiful children, 6 amazing, loving adults and terrorize hundreds of other children?

    Your purpose here is to hide your god from responsibility for his actions.

    You are behaving in a profoundly immoral way.

  • Why did your God want those children killed?

    Do you think God answers your prayers, but not the prayers of those children?

    How special you must feel. Your prayers have a special place in God’s heart but not the prayers of those children who were so excited for Christmas only two years ago but got shot to bits instead.

    For shame.
    Religion clearly makes people cruel, unthinking and indifferent.
    More reasons to hate religion.

  • @Todd,

    Do bad ideas have rights? Yes or no?

    Is it right to shut down a conversation to protect a bad idea
    from being revealed?

  • @Neon,

    Since when is a Religion comment ‘off topic’ at Religion News Service?

    Did you think you were posting at
    Let’s.Be.Nice.And.Not.Blaspheme.Jeebus DOT COM?

  • Bruce Gorton

    @jack

    So when Texas makes a generalisation about atheists (a lack of religion leads to arrogance and pride), that’s fine, when Larry makes a generalisation about Christians suddenly it’s not.

    Suddenly I don’t think Larry’s generalisation is unfair at all.

  • Bruce Gorton

    True religion does not in any way lead to humility.

    You claim to know the origin of the universe and have a personal relationship with the being who did it.

    You claim that the universe was made for you.

    You claim to be able to talk to that being and sometimes get him to do things for you.

    You claim that you have objective morality, that you know what is just plain right and wrong.

    You claim that when you die, you will go on to live forever for all eternity.

    You make all of these claims without one shred of evidence, and proclaim anybody asking for any to be not simply wrong, but immoral sinners to boot.

    And this isn’t specific to Christianity, this is pretty universal to God beliefs.

    Here is the thing about true religion – when we atheists say your God doesn’t appear to exist, you’re not upset because God’s a friend of yours.

    You’re upset because we are saying you may be wrong. You aren’t upset because you believe in some infallible being out in the cosmos, you believe yourself to be infallible.

    It is the only way you can maintain your “faith”, believe in some infallible “sensus divinitis” so you can know the answers so damn well that you can use your ideas to lord it over the rest of humanity.

    And sorry, that isn’t humility. You want humility, look to the atheists.

    No certain knowledge, no claims to infallibility, no aggrandising myths about eternal life or eternal damnation for their enemies.

    Atheists see themselves as just being people, you see yourself as being the elect.

  • I sometimes comment on a certain general pop culture discussion board that has no stated religious leaning, but its polls show it to be 85% Christian, with much interest in the paranormal. It has several sections for discussions, including debate, of religion and the paranormal. Skeptical and atheist commenters are few, but tend to be more educated and more civil than the other commenters, and most avoid ad hominem. But because they are in the minority there, they are routinely labeled “trolls,” and a majority of the comments responding to them are bullying personal insults.

    There are “super commenters” on both sides who clearly are coming from a do-gooder activist mindset, wanting to make the world a better place. But only the skeptics and atheists get labeled as “trolls,” because the believers say that skeptics and atheists “don’t believe in anything,” therefore they must be motivated only by “hatred.”

    The religion and paranormal activists seem to be utterly incapable of viewing the skeptic activists as good people who are just as well-intended as they are.

    The skeptics, however, often preface their statements with, “I genuinely believe you’re well-intended when you say this, but here is why I think it’s harmful…”

  • Jon

    Karla –

    First, Ps 22 is a mistranslation. Scholars agree that the likely reading is “like a lion”, not “pierced”. The rest of the passage doesn’t help you either, since taking garments from executed criminals was common, and the “bones” part contradicts the Jesus story, since there is nothing in there about Jesus being starved. The Isaiah passage is also a mistranslation, not reading “virgin” but “woman”. If you think those passages are prophecy about Jesus, then you are basing your faith on falsehood & human translation error. Stronger cases of prophecy than those are seen in the Quran, so since you were fooled by Ps 22 and Isaiah, then if you are consistent you’ll convert to Islam. I’ve looked over Strobel’s book, and it is based on argumentments that have been long shown to be false, and worse, Strobel hides evidence well known among scholars which undermines his points. http://infidels.org/library/modern/jeff_lowder/strobel.html

  • nosacredcow

    If someone cried when they got the communion wafer their mental stability may be called into question. Neither side religious or irreligious can claim the high ground when it comes to mental health. (although the religious argument does start with the delusion of “visions” and imaginary father figures)

  • Earold D. Gunter

    I see non-believer commenters like Amax and others, myself included, not as evangelists, as this has a distasteful religious connotation that really isn’t applicable. I also don’t see us as therapists either, as this would indicate that those who are religious need therapy (well maybe some ;-). Rather I see those willing to speak out against religion as beacons of reality shining as brightly as possible in an attempt to lead those still lost in the fog of religion out of it (reminds me of the song “This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine”).

    I can only speak for myself, but I think others, like Amax would agree it is our moral obligation to speak out. For me anyway, it is for selfish reasons as well, as I am part of society, I am human, and want to live in a world that I think is better than it is, and the best way to do that it to get rid of religion, if not for me, then for the sake of my grandchildren.

    Many of us who have come to realize that religion is not true, have also realized the massive negative impact it has on society, an impact that far outweighs anything positive it may bring.

    I comment of RNS because that is where my target audience is, that is where I may have a chance at starting a nick that ultimately unravels the rope of religion that is so tightly tied around just one human, with the ultimate goal of all humans discarding this poisonous way to think.

    Amax does this in his own unique manner, and I applaud him for it.

    The subject of commenting pseudonymously has come up in this discussion and I’d like to comment on that as well, as I have spoken out against it in prior posts.

    Although I respect the right of everyone to choose to post under a pseudonym, and I used to do it myself, I finally decided for myself that I needed to use my real name.

    I have been reading RNS and commenting, although nowhere near what Amax has, for what must now be almost two years. I have seen several frequent commenters come and go (anyone remember Duane Lamers?), and have many interactions with them, some positive and some negative.

    I have found using my real name has served to moderate not what I say, but how I say it. Because it is something that is directly tied to me, it makes me think about how my words will be perceived. Will I offend, probably, but will that offense be so egregious that it closes the mind of the religious reader as Forth Valley warns, maybe. Perhaps though, it may just be enough of a shock to them to cause them to momentarily wake up and take a peek outside of the fog of religion and start questioning how what they see does not jive with what they have been told; hopefully.

    Yes, I understand the risks, and have had at times (not many) had responses that lead me to believe the responder may be mentally unstable, and so to mitigate the risk, I did not respond back.

    But posting in my own name also demonstrates my commitment to my beliefs. This is important to me because I feel many people who claim to believe only do so due to societal pressure. The more people who stand up say they don’t believe lessens that pressure somewhat, and hopefully one day being an atheist will no longer have the negative stigma it does now.

    Keep doing what you’re doing Amax. Humanity needs it.

  • Max,

    I have a broad trust in an open sharing of ideas. I think people have responsibilities. These are more important than rights, as they direct our activity beyond narcissistic concerns about what we might be “owed.”

    You are the one who brings silly quotes and silly interpretations of religion into these comboxes. I have been on record in this forum you should be allowed to post as you see fit–this is not a danger to anyone, really.

  • Well said, indeed.

  • Shawnie5

    “First, Ps 22 is a mistranslation. Scholars agree that the likely reading is “like a lion”, not “pierced”.”

    John, scholars do NOT agree that this is the “likely reading.” What they DO agree on is that the word “ka’ari” (like a lion) found in most (not all) Masoretic Texts is a corruption–a mistake that turns on a single stroke on a single letter. “Like a lion” is a prepositional phrase that makes no sense in the context of the passage which requires a verb — and of course seventy Hebrew scholars who compiled the Septuagint translated the operative word as the verb “pierced” or “bored through” (oruxsan in Greek, karu in Hebrew) long before the birth of Christ. And the earliest Psalm 22 manuscript of all, from the Dead Sea Scrolls, reads “k’ru.”

    Oddly enough, the strongest evidence in favor of your reading of this psalm is simply that the New Testament writers did not specifically refer to it. They took the “piercing” prophecies from Zechariah, not the Psalms.

  • @Earold D. Gunter,

    “hopefully one day being an atheist will no longer have the negative stigma it does now.”

    Exactly. And Thanks. Glad we are not alone.

    As I discovered my faith had vanished, I was desperate for honesty – I sought out intelligent, articulate discussion and engagement on these claims of religion – and more often than not, I found it at RNS.

    It has been quite helpful to me, and it is good to know there are others who agree.

    I have treated my handle Atheist Max as if it were my real name. That has helped me to stay civil while at the same time giving me freedom to attack the claims about Jesus as needed.

    I have tried to show respect the believers while arguing against the belief.
    It is incredibly difficult to thread that needle – but as a society we need to find ways to do that.

    Islam needs to be argued against also. But as long as people get away with calling such arguments ‘bigoted’ we cannot make progress.

    These are very difficult and urgent matters for our over-bibled societies.
    It is good that Atheists are keenly aware of the hurdles and responsibilities while trying to figure out how to proceed most effectively in a respectful, moral and decent way.

    ____
    AM
    For Peace, Civility, Culture and The Separation of Church and State

  • Jack

    Larry, anyone who has been on these boards for any length of time knows how prone you are to sweeping generalizations. Even when the subject isn’t Christians per se, you can’t seem to stop yourself.

  • @Todd,

    “I think people have responsibilities. These are more important than rights….”

    No. Because a bad idea has no rights.
    The definition of an irresponsible is a person is one who advocates a bad idea instead of a responsible idea.

    Telling people to jump off the Empire State Building to test gravity would be a bad idea. No responsible person would advocate it.

    Christians advocate vicarious redemption – a terrible idea.
    No responsible person would advocate it. Vicarious redemption is the pinnacle of irresponsibility.

    If you advocate for ‘responsibility’ you must confront the bad idea honestly and with boldness.

  • Jack

    But you are remarkably sanguine about the unmistakable connection between the totalitarian genocides of the 20th century and the atheist belief system which undergirded them…..as admitted by the perpetrators themselves, who claimed atheism as integral to themselves and their regimes.

    Your elaborate attempts to wiggle away from that reality make me wonder how long your back and joints can take it before you end up under the surgeon’s knife.

  • Jack

    Wrong, Jon. The Bible is filled with prophecies that are remarkably accurate. Rather than reading books and web sites about the Bible, maybe you should read the text itself.

    I have to admit it’s occasionally fun to watch people like Jon stumble onto a message board like this one, people who have read skeptics alone and, thinking they’ve read the final word, have neglected to read any debunking of the debunkers.

    This should be fun indeed.

  • Jack

    No, Max, what’s “profoundly immoral” are your attempts to disconnect atheism from 20th century genocide, the worst in history (especially since atheists who committed it said they were atheists and that they were following through on their atheism after setting up states that were avowedly atheist).

    150 million dead, Max…..all in the name of a political philosophy that was (1) founded by a self-proclaimed atheist who claimed his philosophy derived from atheism (2) whose premises are logically inseparable from atheism (3) which committed genocide after genocide through perpetrators who claimed atheism as their foundation, exactly like the philosophy’s founder and (4) who founded states that were officially atheistic.

  • Jack

    Bo, obviously you haven’t been reading these boards very closely. I have said repeatedly that there are plenty of good atheists, plenty of bad theists, and that other factors often play a role in people’s character formation other than the atheistic or theistic views they hold as adults.

    And there are plenty of ad hominem attacks by both sides — all sides — on this board. Virtually everyone who has posted on these boards for any length of time eventually falls into that trap — atheists just as readily as theists or agnostics.

  • Max, you are the one who brought in the question about ideas having rights. I don’t care much for ideas. They can be good or bad, and used for good or ill effect by people well-meaning and otherwise. What you are saying about ideas is exactly what was said at the Council of Trent: “Error has no rights.” Intentionally or not, you have echoed the institutional Church at one of its most dogmatic moments.

    Can you cite accurately what I’ve said about redemption and incarnation? Or are you playing a broken record in your head and it matters not at all what people are saying in their conversations with you? Can you stop quoting Scripture out of context and just tackle the discussion man to man?

  • Jack

    That’s the key point.

    He wakes up at age 50 and suddenly starts wondering about life’s injustices.

    Where was his head all those decades…..in the Magic Kingdom?

    Had he never heard of the Holocaust or gulags, or children dying of starvation long before he was born?

    Were the Connecticut shootings the first instance in his life where he took note of anything about life that wasn’t fun?

    Did he not read books? Newspapers? Was he oblivious to all human suffering anywhere? Did he never meet a single person in his life who seemed to be suffering for no reason at all?

    Or did he just float above it all — like a Pee Wee Herman character?

  • cruel.

  • @Jack,

    “what’s “profoundly immoral” are your attempts to disconnect atheism from 20th century genocide,”

    Wrong. Those are Straw men – all of them.
    Agrarian Religious Cults such as Stalin’s, Pol Pot’s and Mao’s are the oldest religions in history. They are old as the Cults of the Sun Gods – such as Hirohito.

    Don’t call it ATHEISM if it includes the leader as a God with supernatural powers: Stalin, Hitler, Pol Pot, Kim il Sun, Mao, Hirohito, etc.

    Besides,
    What have you got against genocide? Your God commands Genocide as a moral duty for you:

    GOD COMMANDS IT ….Kill the women and Rape the little girls:
    “Moses was furious with all the military commanders who had returned from the battle. ‘Why have you let all the women live?’ he demanded. …They are the ones who caused the plague to strike the LORD’s people. Now kill all the boys and all the women who have slept with a man. Only the young girls who are virgins may live; you may save them for your pleasure.” (Num:31:18)

    God commands Raping women in daylight to punish HUSBANDS.
    “Thus says the Lord: ‘I will bring evil upon you out of your own house. I will take your wives [plural] while you live to see it, and will give them to your neighbor. He shall lie sexually with your wives in broad daylight. You have done this deed in secret, but I will bring it about in the presence of all Israel, and with the sun looking down.’ ” (2 Samuel 12:11)

    GOD COMMANDS RAPING AND STEALING
    “Lo, a day shall come FOR THE LORD when the spoils shall be divided in your midst. And I will gather all the nations against Jerusalem for battle: the city shall be taken, houses plundered, WOMEN RAVISHED; half of the city shall go into exile, but the rest of the people shall not be removed from the city.” (Zechariah 14:1-2)

    GOD COMMANDS KILLING BABIES AND SWEET CHILDREN
    “Anyone who is captured will be run through with a sword. Their little children will be dashed to death right before their eyes.” (Isaiah 13:15)

    GOD SAYS GENOCIDE IS A GOOD SOLUTION TO MANY PROBLEMS:
    “My angel will go before you and bring you to the Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, Canaanites, Hivites, and Jebusites; and I will wipe them out.” (Exodus 23:23)

    GOD SAYS GO AND KILL MORE – EVEN IF THEY SAY THEY ARE SORRY:
    “Then the LORD said to me, ‘Even if Moses and Samuel stood before me pleading for these people, I wouldn’t help them. Away with them! Get them out of my sight!” (JEREMIAH 15:1-7)

    GOD COMMITS MASS ABORTIONS
    “Ephraim shall bring forth his children to the murderer… Give them a miscarrying womb and dry breasts…they shall bear no fruit: yea though they bring forth, YET WILL I SLAY even the beloved fruit of their womb.” (Hosea 9:11-16)

    JESUS SAYS “EXECUTE” ENEMIES – AND DO IT “IN FRONT OF ME!”
    “And as for these enemies of mine who didn’t want me to be their king–bring them in and EXECUTE THEM right here in front of me.’” – JESUS (Luke 19:27)
    [from the “Parable of the 12 Minas”, perhaps the most dangerous words in the Bible and Hitler’s favorite Christian parable]

    You live under an Atheistic document which insures your freedom.
    You should respect it more than you do:

    “Congress shall make no law establishing a religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”

    That is Atheism.
    If you don’t think so, take a look at the first Commandment of Yahweh.

    “Thou shalt put no other God’s before me” (Exodus 20:3)

    Not according to the Constitution!
    In your face, Yahweh.

    ____
    AM
    For Peace, Civility, Culture and The Separation of Church and State

  • @nosacredcow,

    “If someone cried when they got the communion wafer their mental stability may be called into question.”

    Now I’ve heard it all!
    I’ve been told I never really believed in God.
    I’ve been told I believed incorrectly.
    I’ve been told I hate god.

    Now you tell me, I believed too much?
    Yet – Isn’t there a reason they call it ‘rapture’?

    I believed for years and now I don’t.
    Simple as that.

  • Neon Genesis

    You must have skipped over my post then where I specifically said that I thought the religious fundamentalist bigots of RNS were just as bad as the atheist trolls and I think you’re holding atheist posters in a romanticism light. Go on any atheist board and start a topic on abortion or feminism and atheists can be just as sexist and dogmatic as any fundamentalist.

  • Do you care about what is true and what is false?

  • Todd,

    “What you are saying about ideas is exactly what was said at the Council of Trent: ‘Error has no rights.’ ”

    No.
    I said “ideas have no rights”. Ideas are just notions of human minds.

    An error is not an idea.
    Errors are evidence of a bad idea, they are not the bad ideas themselves.

  • Shawnie5

    It IS fun, I’m rather ashamed to say. Popcorn goes great with it,

  • Shawnie5

    Ah, but nature know nothing about “cruel,” remember?

  • Jack

    No Max, not “cruel.”

    Real.

    Your story doesn’t add up.

  • @Todd,

    “Can you cite accurately what I’ve said about redemption and incarnation?”

    Where did you do this?

    I have seen only Jack mentioning redemption here.
    Besides, redemption is an idea – there is no evidence that it is a real thing. I don’t believe in redemption. Our guilt stays with us and we must apologize to those we hurt and live with all of the consequences.

    To accept claims that one is redeemed without evidence for it
    is to behave very immorally. No one is washed clean of their guilt.

  • Jack

    I agree, Neon Genesis. Both sides, indeed all sides, can be pretty rough. So can anybody who posts long enough.

  • @Neon,

    “atheists can be just as sexist and dogmatic as any fundamentalist.”

    Atheism is not equal to Wisdom.
    It is a necessary first step.

    ___
    AM
    For Peace, Civility and The Separation of Church and State

  • Jack

    Right Shawnie.

  • Jack,

    I submit only a cruel heart can defend your god.

    Did your God know those children were being shot?
    Did Jesus have the power to intercede?

  • Jack

    Atheist Max, you have no evidence that belief in redemption leads to behaving “very immorally.” It’s just another baseless assertion you’ve added to your growing list.

    Come to think of it, if atheism is true and nature is all that there is, what does “immoral” mean to you? Do you believe it is just your subjective judgment, or do you believe it is objectively real? If the former, it is empty and meaningless, so why say it? If the latter, you may not be as atheistic as you think…..you’ve just smuggled in a key implication of theism.

  • Jack

    So, Max, based on your own words, you had a “cruel heart” for over a half century of your life.

    Then suddenly….you didn’t?

    Come on….You have no idea how ridiculous you sound.

  • Jack

    Trying to strip reality of anything other than the bare workings of nature is hardly the “necessary first step to Wisdom.”

    No philosophy in history that is based on nature alone has brought humanity anything but inhumanity — because nature is, by itself, tooth-and-claw.

  • Rocky

    Jack, atheism is not a belief system, it does not have tenants or dogma attached, it is a description of those who lack belief. To claim genocide was done in accordance with atheist belief systems is false, they were done in the name of Communist doctrine (or nationalistic fascist doctrine, in Hitlers case) and whether or not the leaders were self identified atheists doesn’t change that. People were executed for disobeying the state, not disobeying atheism. Whatever the beliefs of those who instigated these atrocities are, it is the beliefs they used to control people that allowed it to happen.

    Communist states sometimes deified their leaders by the way, North Korea most notably, which directly contradicts the idea that it is an atheist state.

  • Esoteric Knowledge

    Max,

    I have read some of your posts here and you seem quite logical and non-combative.
    I’ll say sorry to you, on behalf to all the insecure bullies labeling you ‘troll’ or ‘crazy’ for expressing your First Amendment Right to Free Speech, which frightens less tolerant and authoritarian types with weak sensibilities. Perhaps they would like to express their desire to abolish the First Amendment instead of painting people falsely.

  • Esoteric Knowledge

    If you have any questions about God, I can inform you, perhaps. If I can catch you as well.

  • samuel Johnston

    Hi Ben in Oakland,
    “I’m not an atheist, though. I’m an it-doesn’t-matterist.”
    Please clarify. I am not an atheist, but that is because I do not wish to be defined by my opponents. Your statement supra, appears to contradict your actions.

  • Jack,

    Even when I was a Christian, I was a better Christian than you.

  • This is your god of love.
    You get your morals from this Militant Hater:

    JESUS – I WILL DISMEMBER PEOPLE WITH A SWORD
    “The master shall cut him to pieces” – Jesus (Luke 12)
    JESUS describes what he intends to do to his own enemies.

    JESUS – I SHALL RETURN TO EXECUTE MY ENEMIES
    “..bring to me those enemies of mine who would not have me as their King, and execute them in front of me.” – JESUS (Luke 19:27)

    JESUS – YOU SHOULD DROWN THEM
    “Drown him with a millstone” (Matt 18:6)

    JESUS – KILL YOUR CHILDREN
    “And why do you break the command of God
    for the sake of your tradition? …. ‘Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death.’ ” (Matthew 15:3)

    JESUS – YOU MUST JUDGE OTHERS HARSHLY
    “…if they are unworthy..REMOVE your blessing of peace.” – JESUS (Matt 10:13)

    JESUS – I CAME TO BURN UP THE WORLD AND DESTROY IT
    “I have come to bring FIRE…What constraints! I am impatient to bring NOT PEACE BUT DIVISION.” – Jesus (Luke 12:49-51)

    JESUS – HATE THOSE WHO LOVE YOU
    “Hate your parents…hate your life” – Jesus (Luke 14:26)

    JESUS – I’M A MAFIA GODFATHER. DO IT, OR ELSE.
    “Eat of my body” and “Be baptized and believe” or “Be condemned to Hell” – Jesus (John 6:53-54) (Mark 16:16).

    JESUS – I WILL KILL THE CHILDREN MYSELF
    “I shall kill her children with Death” – Jesus (REV. 2:23)

    JESUS – I WANT YOU TO LIVE IN A HOUSE FULL OF ENEMIES
    “Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death…for ME.” – JESUS (Matthew 10:21)

    JESUS – I’M HERE TO RUIN YOUR LIFE AND ALL THAT YOU LOVE
    “I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I came to set a man against his daughter, and a daughter against her mother, AND A DAUGHTER-IN-LAW AGAINST HER MOTHER-IN-LAW; and A MAN’S ENEMIES WILL BE THE MEMBERS OF HIS HOUSEHOLD.” – JESUS (Matthew 10:35)

    JESUS – JUDGE OTHERS SO GOD CAN PUNISH THEM
    “And whosoever will not receive you, when ye go out of that city, shake off the very dust from your feet AS A TESTIMONY AGAINST THEM.” – JESUS (Luke 9:3-5)

    JESUS ENDORSED the stoning laws – He rejected any change to the stoning laws of Moses.

    JESUS – KEEP ALL 500 STONING LAWS AS GOD COMMANDS
    “For truly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. Whoever then relaxes one of the least of these commands and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but he who does them and teaches them shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” – JESUS (Matthew 5:18-19 RSV)

    JESUS – STONE THESE PEOPLE TO DEATH:
    “not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the law” – JESUS (Matthew 5:18-19)

    I choose civility over this nonsense.

    ____
    AM
    For Peace, Civility, Culture and The Separation of Church and State

  • samuel Johnston

    @ Art Deco,
    Re: to discover at age 50 something that s**t happens
    You are shamefully lacking in empathy. I suspect that a lifetime of Catholicism has deadened your senses. Protestantism may be stupid, but at least it lacks the sophistry that obscures perception.

  • samuel Johnston

    @ Jack,
    ” if atheism is true and nature is all that there is, what does “immoral” mean to you? Do you believe it is just your subjective judgment, or do you believe it is objectively real?”
    If you have to be told what immoral is, then you are lost indeed. You have moral confused with ethical.
    Immoral is an imprecise term, but it generally means having no sense of right and wrong (subjective). Ethics have to do with devising some rational system of behavior. (objective). Lots of philosophers and theologians create ethical systems.
    Your game of “gotcha” seems sensible to you because you just associate with those who agree with your narrow viewpoint.

  • samuel Johnston

    @Jack,
    And so the God theory is an improvement on nature how? You assume that nature is what- amoral? You have never read Darwin. If God created nature, then God is the author of tooth -and -claw. Oh, man is a special case. Got it. God gave man original sin- big help. Then he gave man the possibility of redemption. No thanks God, I’ll just turn them both down.

  • @Jack,

    “No philosophy in history that is based on nature alone has brought humanity anything but inhumanity”

    What Nature-based philosophy has brought to humanity:

    Vaccines:
    Smallpox
    Measles
    Mumps
    Flu
    People saved: BILLIONS

    Cures for Infections:
    Penicillin
    Amoxocyin
    Vancomycin

    Communications
    World Wide Web
    Google Search
    Email
    Amazon
    Telephones
    Quantum Cellphones
    Satellites

    Painless and Effective Medical Treatments
    Bone breaks
    Heart bypass
    Blood transfusions
    Heart transplants
    Kidney transplants
    Excisions of Nascent tumors
    etc..

    Healthier Relationships
    Psycho-Therapy
    Contraception
    Safe Air Travel
    Airplanes
    Jets
    Helicopters
    Safer Cars
    Cars
    Communication Systems

    Accelerators
    semiconductor industry
    sterilisation – food, medical, sewage
    radiation processing
    non-destructive testing
    cancer therapy
    incineration of nuclear waste
    power generation (energy amplifier)?
    source of synchrotron radiation (biology, condensed matter physics…)
    source of neutrons (biology, condensed matter physics…)

    Particle detectors
    Crystal Detectors
    medical imaging
    security
    non-destructive testing
    research
    Multiwire Proportional Chambers
    container inspection
    research
    Semi-conductor Detectors
    countless applications

    Informatics
    Ease of personal banking and assets
    Simulation programmes
    Fault diagnosis
    Control systems
    Stimulation of parallel computing

    Superconductivity
    Particle physics
    multifilamentary wires/cables
    nuclear magnetic resonance imaging
    many others (cryogenics, vacuum, electrical engineering, geodesy…)

    ——–

    What Religion brings to the world:

    Osama Bin Laden
    9/11
    Popes

  • @Samuel Johnston,

    “If you have to be told what immoral is, then you are lost indeed.”

    Exactly.
    What Christians don’t seem to understand is the choice about morality is no different than the choice to follow a good solution. If you think Jesus has a good rule, you follow it. If you don’t – you do what you think is the better thing. Then they give Jesus credit for their own decision – it is ridiculous.

    Christianity tricks people into thinking the decisions they made were not their own.

    Religion is an insidiously brilliant ancient mind trick.

  • Karla

    Jon-We can agree to disagree but if Jesus never rose from the dead
    why would people who didn’t believe in Him/the Roman soldiers lie
    and say His body was stolen/why would saul change his name to
    Paul and start preaching Jesus is alive/the Truth if Jesus was still
    in the grave? Jesus is real. Read Romans 1:18-32 and as I said
    before for you to look at the universe then say that the sun being
    where it is so we don’t freeze or burn is just random is being blind.
    God is real. Read the Bible. Thanks for the feedback. God bless.

  • Shawnie5

    Not one of those things were produced by “nature-based philosophy.”

    They were, however, produced by the scientific method.

    And here is what the father of the scientific method had to say about philosophy: “A little philosophy inclineth man’s mind to atheism, but depth in philosophy bringeth men’s minds about to religion.” — Francis Bacon.

  • @Shawnie,

    Bacon is full on nonsense.

    Religion produces planes flying into building.
    Science produces planes.

    Celebrate your Jesus all you want – but don’t think you can win points by disparaging science or the Natural Philosophies of Materialism.

    You need ‘Faith’ to believe in Jesus. Without it he won’t exist.
    That should be embarrassing enough for your entire position.

  • @Esoteric,

    Thanks.
    What do you believe? And why do you believe it?

  • Shawnie5

    Who is disparaging science? I believe, as did the first great scientific minds of the modern era in the west, that it is a sacred duty to study the rational laws of a rational God. That has nothing to do with materialism, however. Materialism is a different animal (and I do mean animal) altogether.

  • Jack

    I’m not even including Adolf’s genocide, since Nazism was more pagan than atheist….although my guess is that in reality, he did not believe in any god or any religion.

    I am including Communism since it is absolutely inseparable from atheism. While most atheists are not Communists, virtually all serious Communists are atheists, and Communism is unabashedly atheistic and proceeds from consciously atheistic premises.

    To try to divorce Communism from atheism is an utterly hopeless endeavor….and it’s silly even to try.

  • Jack

    Samuel, it’s pretty obvious that you are ignorant of how historians go about determining what is history and what is myth. You probably think that documents like the Gospels are refuted through the absence of corroboration, as opposed to the presence of contradiction.

    If you think that, you are mistaken. While the Gospels are the sole first-century accounts (besides Josephus’ account, which is partly authentic and partly interpolated) of the life of Jesus, there is no reason to doubt the basics — ie born in Bethlehem, grew up in Galilee, lived until about 33, preached about the Kingdom of Heaven, claimed to be the Messiah of his people, saw his mission as dying for people’s sins, was crucified by Pontius Pilate, was laid in a tomb which was empty on the third day, and had followers who claimed to have seen him after that. There are no contemporary first century accounts either by Jewish or Roman authorities which contradict those basic assertions. Again, while it would be nice to have lots of outside accounts corroborating the Gospel accounts, the lack of plentiful corroboration is hardly fatal — and the lack of contradiction both within and outside the text is, according to the rules governing historical evidence, reason to believe in the basic veracity of the accounts.

    But most of all, anyone who reads the Gospels gets a pretty clear picture of a very real figure named Jesus. His personality comes across as clearly as a bell, and he is not hard at all to picture.

  • @Shawnie,

    “sacred duty to study the rational laws of a rational God….”

    Annoying nonsense.
    There is no evidence of a god behind a damn thing.

  • @Jack,

    “anyone who reads the Gospels gets a pretty clear picture of a very real figure named Jesus.”

    N.O.N.S.E.N.S.E

    Anyone who reads the Gospels is caught it in a vortex of a fantasy spun by ancient scalawags.

    “Bring to me those enemies of mine…execute them in front of me” – JESUS (Luke 19:27)
    “Blessed are the meek”

    One must have more respect for oneself than to fall for this malarky.

  • @Jack,

    “To try to divorce Communism from atheism is an utterly hopeless endeavor”

    I noticed how your argument didn’t make god appear.

    If god doesn’t exist, why pretend that he does?
    Communism is wrong because it is an agrarian anti-capitalist religious cult. You think a world without God is easy? Well it isn’t.
    Of course a godless world requires a level of personal responsibility which you are afraid of. You would rather keep imaginary nonsense – But there is no alternative!

    Humans have a problem. There is very probably no god and we have got to run our society with more intelligence than we have been doing!

    Wake up!

  • @Jack,

    “But you are remarkably sanguine about the unmistakable connection between the totalitarian genocides of the 20th century and the atheist belief system….”

    1. You have no evidence that God exists.

    2. DO YOU REALLY THINK I WANT PEOPLE KILLED???????
    FOR FREAKIN SAKE!

    What are you on?
    I hate the beheading of ISIS!
    Why would I want more death????

    I just want this nonsense to stop.
    We live in a country of rights and laws not personal opinions.

    “Congress shall make no law establishing any religion…”

    Why the hell isn’t that good enough?
    It is one of the most beautiful things ever written! It protects you from the genocidal nonsense of Hitler, Stalin and all the rest!

    And it protects you from you friggin’ Yahweh god!
    Stop the nonsense please.

    ____
    AM
    For Peace, Civility, Culture and The Separation of Church and State

  • Jack

    @AtheistMax

    You need to make up your mind about whether you think Jesus existed and hate Him or whether you think there was no such person, in which case there is no Jesus out there to hate.

    In like manner, you need to do the same thing with theism vs. atheism.

    You say you don’t believe God exists, yet you seem to have a psychological need for Him to exist so you can hate Him.

    To sum up, it’s interesting how you have the same problem with Jesus specifically as with a deity generally. You insist He is a figment of the imagination, but you realize the folly of hating what is imaginary.

    You need to make up your mind, because you can’t have it both ways. You can’t hate what doesn’t exist.

  • Jack

    Shawnie, it will be fun to watch Jon come back and try to debate you on this.

  • Rocky

    What premises of Communism are consciously atheistic?
    By serious Communists do you refer to leaders and high ranking state officials or all of those who are seriously invested in Communist doctrine?
    And what of the deification of North Korea’s leader? That firmly contradicts your statement that communism is inseparable from atheism. (Atheism is the disbelief of deities, nothing more)

  • Jack

    In other words, you are intolerant of people who have the temerity to disagree with your position as strongly as you disagree with theirs.

    That’s what Reinhold Niebuhr once called the test of tolerance:

    Can we truly tolerate people who disagree with us strongly on the issue or issues we care most about?

  • Jack

    Neon Genesis is correct, Max.

    Bigotry is more a personality trait than anything else. If you were born in the pre-civil-rights south, you would be a racist troll, as opposed to an anti-theistic troll. You would be posting long, tedious diatribes against black Americans.

    I know this because I once dealt with a racist troll who posted exactly as you do — same style and format — same lengthy laundry lists of hate against black people, and same refusal to come to grips with bigotry and prejudice.

    And in both cases was a transparently bogus story of how the person came to be a bigot. In both cases there was a supposedly sudden revelation well into adulthood that converted the person to a hateful state of mind.

    IN both cases, emotion rules. Trying to reason with bigotry is quite a challenge.

  • Jack

    In a way, I wish it did for his sake. His story does not add up.

  • Rocky

    You can hate fictional characters though, you can hate idea’s, and the effects those idea’s and fictional characters have on people as well. Things do not need to physically exist for them to be hated.

    Someone can hate Darth Vader for instance, doesn’t make him real.

  • Jack

    Max, if you say you were a good Christian, that means you likely were no Christian at all. Being a Christian means realizing that one is anything but good — someone who needs to repent and trust Jesus and not their goodness in order to be reconciled to God and humanity.

    The more you post, the less plausible your story seems.

  • Shawnie5

    Max, you’ve already made your “nonsense” comment numerous times. It adds nothing and refutes nothing. How about you just save yourself some time and put a post at the top of every comment thread that says “I say nonsense to every Christian’s comment that follows.” It would be easier and accomplish about the same thing.

  • Shawnie5

    It would be, but I’d be surprised if he does. Did you notice the source he cited? Not exactly a site for the well-versed.

  • Jon

    I have Jack, cover to cover. It’s one of the clearest paths out of religious delusion – to actually read the text that describes talking animals, flying people, and then presents the beheading of children as something that God likes, among many other eye-opening sections that are rarely read in most churches.
    Being that Karla presented two that turned out to be weak at best, I’ve yet to hear what you are basing this on – and also very important, why you reject the similar “fulfilled prophecies” in other holy texts.

  • Jon

    Shawnie5-

    You are right that there are reasons to support either reading, and that scholars are not unanimous in this on either side. For instance, it is pointed out that the same phrase is translated as “like a lion” when it appears elsewhere, such as in Is 38:13. So on that point, I agree there is room for reasonable people to disagree.

    However, that wasn’t the full claim. The claim was that Ps 22 was “very, very specific” prophecy. It’s not for many reasons. In addition to the mismatches pointed out earlier (Jesus not being starved, etc), it rests on a questionable reading – as we’ve discussed. Even a translation not of “like a lion” reads “they dug at my hands and feet”, hardly a clear description of a crucifixion. So I think we can agree that Ps 22 is not a good example of a clear “very, very specific” fulfilled prophecy, for many reasons. Karla’s other example was the “young woman” word – where again I suspect we can agree that it is not a clear example of a “very, very specific” fulfilled prophecy.

  • samuel Johnston

    Hi Jack,
    At the very least you are not familiar with the Great Quest for the historical Jesus, now more than a Century and a half old. From the Dutch Radical school, to Albert Schweitzer, Alfred Loisy, and the notable/notorious Dr. Funk. There is widespread agreement among the independent scholars (those who do not represent the church) that Jesus was not born in Bethlemem, did not live in Nazareth, and did not say the bulk of the statements attributed to him in the collection of writings assembled at Carthage in 419. I have read all these and more. If you would like a reference list, just Google “The quest for the historical Jesus”.

  • Jack

    Apparently Rocky has never heard of Karl Marx while AtheistMax probably confuses him with Groucho.

  • Jack

    Shawnie, I think Max should issue a disclaimer with every post — that there is no necessary relation between any of them and either objective reality or logic and that any apparent resemblance is purely coincidental.

  • samuel Johnston

    @Rob,
    Do you seriously believe that there was a man named Adam, and he was the first man? That is really going off the deep end of the pool.

  • Jack

    Samuel, I know all about the quest for the historical Jesus, as well as higher criticism and its less-than-robust descendants.

    Most of it has led nowhere, partly because the leaders were people who were out of their league when it came to literary criticism and its tools, not to mention the rules of historiography, including the rules of historical evidence.

    The claim that Jesus did not say most of what was attributed to him was popularized by the so-called Jesus Seminar, which even its initial defenders now admit was drowning itself in a sea of subjectivity, with any and all references to supernatural allegations such as healings automatically discounted as fictional. The problem with this approach, besides its subjectivity, is that it meant discounting background facts associated with the miraculous claims. Yet it was those very background facts, about people and places and events, which have been verified by archeology and by other writings. One of the remarkable aspects of John’s Gospel, for example, is the writer’s thorough knowledge of every nook and cranny of pre-70 AD Galilee and Judea. As you presumably know, much of what he was describing was wiped off the map with the Roman destruction of 70-73 AD. It follows that whoever wrote John’s Gospel was likely a resident of either Galilee or Judea long before the destruction.

    But in their frenzy to refute the miraculous claims of John’s Gospel, as well as those of others, skeptics have been forced to discount background facts as well, such as all of the rich geographical and biographical detail of early first-century Israel in John’s Gospel, most of which has been corroborated either by archeology or by other writings.

    In other words, the “quest for the historical Jesus” is a fancy way of saying “the quest to strip the Gospels of every miraculous claim, even if the cost is stripping them of background information about people and places and non-miraculous events associated with the miraculous claims.”

    Result? No historical Jesus…..and in fact no anything.

    And the hilarious thing is that the skeptics then respond by saying, “See, there was no Jesus!” or “See, we don’t know anything about Him.”

    And the obvious answer to the skeptics is, “Of course not — you just removed giant-sized portions of the very thing you claim to be looking for. What do you expect?”

    As anyone with an ounce of common sense can see, if you initially leave the Gospels alone and let the story flow, before doing any analysis, the figure of Jesus shines brightly and extraordinarily and consistently across the pages. His is not a murky personality, but one that is crystal clear and focused. Not even the most clever naturalistic or realistic fiction writer could have invented such a personality and its nuances. And as many people have argued, realistic and naturalistic fiction writing is a modern genre. Fiction is ancient, but not real-to-life fiction.

    Again, one of the problems with the older biblical criticism you mention is its ignorance of how historians decide what is history and what isn’t. Professional historians don’t play gotcha games with texts, biblical or otherwise. They let the texts speak for themselves and only begin to doubt accounts when the accounts contradict themselves or other information.

    Let the Gospels speak for themselves before doing analysis and what you get is, again, a clear and precise picture of the personality and character of Jesus. That’s your historical Jesus. But start hacking away from the get-go, based on subjective biases, while disobeying the normal rules of historical evidence and what you end up with is nothing. Nada. No historical Jesus…..no Jesus of any kind, and page after page of text, demonstrating pinpoint authorial accuracy as to people and places and events, lying on the cutting-room floor.

  • Ben in Oakland

    Jack, will you define “prophecies”, “remarkably”, and “accurate”? Can you provide some examples of prophecies that are remarkably accurate?

    Here is my take on these three words. The word prophet comes from a greek word that means “advocate”. It does not refer to fortune telling. The OT prophets were not seeing the future, they were advocates for the word of god.

    “accurate” means to me who, what, where, how, and when. Not something that has to be interpreted into existence. “Remarkably” means even more so.

    Your turn.

  • Ben in Oakland

    What you said, except double.

    Well, not exactly. Though I consider the vast majority of religious belief to be false, I don’t really have a problem with it…IF it makes your life better, and you a better person. And that is a mighty big IF.

    My objection is to religious dominionism. Believe whatever you like, but keep the hell– now there is an apt word– out of my life, and the lives of my loved ones.

  • Jack

    Jon, regarding Psalm 22, note that it opens with “my God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

    Those of course were the words cried out by Jesus hundreds of years after Psalm 22 was written, as he was dying on the cross.

    His crying out this verse corresponded with such things as the soldiers casting lots for his garments, which also was in Psalm 22.

    So according to the Gospels, two things were happening — first, Jesus was crying out the first verse of Psalm 22, and second, at least some of Psalm 22 was occurring before everyone’s eyes.

    Now of course, you can try to make the case that the Gospel writer(s) simply made up the whole scene and patterned it after Psalm 22.

    But there are at least two obvious problems with that explanation.

    First, why would they have the hero of their story, Jesus, crying out about God forsaking him? That is not the kind of thing a writer would likely make up on behalf of his hero.

    Second, note that just as Jesus is portrayed as crying out those words, his enemies, upon hearing them, say, “Look, he’s calling out for Elijah.”

    In other words, they completely misinterpreted him.

    He said, “Eli, Eli” — my God, my God – and they thought he was referring to Eliahoo, meaning Elijah, a famed past prophet of Israel.

    Now….let’s think about this. If you’re the Gospel writer, and you’re making up a story about Psalm 22 being fulfilled at the cross, from the mocking to the casting of lots for Jesus’ garments, all the way to Jesus crying out Psalm 22’s first verse, why…..oh why….at that climactic moment, would you have his enemies misunderstanding his words, turning a dramatic moment into one of buffoonery?

    Picture John F. Kennedy delivering his famous words, “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country” and then some guy from the crowd yells, “speak up, sonny, I can’t hear you!”

    It would ruin the whole story…….

    Unless…..of course, it’s not a story but something that really happened, in which case the writer is simply relating to us what happened, including the buffoonish retort by Jesus’ foes.

  • Jack

    No, Samuel, Art Deco is making some key points. Something is really wrong either with Max or his story or perhaps both.

    And while I am not a Catholic, I find your anti-Catholicism revolting.

  • Jack

    Well, Ben, I wrote a lengthy response earlier that was wiped out by this technologically marvelous (NOT) site.

    I went into great detail about the Cyrus prophecy, including not just my side but its attempted debunkers. It was very long because I wanted it to be thorough.

    But….it was all for naught…..

    So I’ll try to post this as a test and see what happens.

  • Jack

    I see you dodged the question with your usual mountain of foolishness, Max.

  • Jack

    Samuel, if morality is relative, then words like “immoral” are without objective meaning. Try making morality absolute if you begin with an atheistic premise. Come back when you’ve succeeded.

  • Jack

    So you admit that nature is tooth-and-claw. Good. Now explain how you get to a moral universe if nature is all that there is.

  • Jack

    Max, you are a philosophical dunce. Go to your room.

  • Jack

    Okay, I feel like I’m talking to a billy goat on crack, but I’ll give it one quick try:

    What makes science possible in the first place is a series of premises that are unabashedly theistic:

    (1) Nature has a creator.

    (2) The creator pre-exists nature and hence transcends it.

    (3) This creator designed nature in an orderly manner.

    (4) The creator gave human beings the same ability to transcend nature as he has.

    (5) Thus, human beings are able to approach nature and study it. They can be confident that being orderly, it is capable of being studied. And they can be confident that because they, like the creator, transcend nature, they can study it objectively.

    This is why all of first modern scientists were theists.

    This doesn’t mean one can’t be an atheist and be a great scientist.

    But what it does mean is that the first scientists had to have been theists, because the premises behind the belief that nature can be studied in the first place are inescapably theistic, as we just saw above.

    Atheism never could have led to the rise of modern science because atheism assumes that we are all simply a part of nature and hence have zero ability to transcend it and thus come up with findings that are objective in any sense of the word.

    Science, in other words, depends on the validity of the subject/object relationship, which, in turn, depends on nature not being all that there is.

  • Jack

    What triggered the rise of modern science were the twin beliefs that nature is orderly and capable of being studied, and that human beings, while being in nature, also stand outside of nature and hence are capable of studying it objectively.

    There is no way you can reach these two conclusions without smuggling in theistic premises.

  • @Jack,

    “Nature has a creator”

    Idiotic nonsense.
    What created the creator?
    Besides, why are you proving Allah instead of Jesus? Can’t you make up your mind?

  • @Jack,

    None of that answers why Jesus acts like he doesn’t exist.

    You have nothing.

  • samuel Johnston

    @ Jack,
    Moral universe? I have never entertained such a Platonic idea.

  • Rocky

    It would improve your position if you answered my questions. Karl Marx being an Atheist does not make anything he came up with atheistic in nature, if you want people to think communist premises are consciously atheistic as you say, you will have to at the very least say which ones are.

    And you’ve repeatedly refused to address North Korea, and the fact that they view their leaders as deities.

    You start off by saying atheism has inspired great atrocities. You attribute these atrocities to atheism by conflating communism and atheism as intertwined. But you’ve failed to explain what aspects of communist beliefs are so intertwined with atheism, ignored communist states that are inherently theistic in nature and your only explanation for what you think is that I “must not know who Karl Marx is.”

  • Shawnie5

    @Jack. I’ve always believed that theologians have read way too much into Jesus’ “my God my God” words from the cross. No need to make it into some complicated thing about part of the Trinity separating from the rest of it. I think Jesus was simply reciting Psalm 22 as if to say, hey geniuses, here’s prophecy being fulfilled in front of your faces if any of you care to pay attention.

  • Shawnie5

    Here is what Deut. 18 says about what prophets are: “If what a prophet proclaims in the name of the Lord does not take place or come true, that is a message that the Lord has not spoken.”. Obviously the did (sometimes) foretell the future.

  • Shawnie5

    @Jack: Thank you, Jack. I would have felt compelled to write all that if you hadn’t read it first, and my time is a bit short these days.

    I’m surprised anyone still takes the Jesus Seminar seriously. But I do love how some scoffers, in trying to prove a point, will throw out a quote or a reference to some random “scholar” (never mind who) and think they’ve defended their position. Rarely ever a word about WHY they feel said scholar’s position is sound. It’s expected of some scoffers around here, but somehow I expected better of Samuel. Why, I wonder, does he feel that a crew of modern-day johnny-come-latelies must needs be believed about whether someone two millenia ago did or did not say what was attributed to Him by His contemporaries? Care to elaborate, Samuel?

  • Samuel Johnston

    @Jack,
    1. You do not understand evolution, therefore you cannot intelligently contrast it to creationism. All you have is a logical inference from a false premise. You do not appear to understand the differences between causality, correlation, probability, and possibility.
    2. Another logical inference from a false premise.
    3. Another logical inference from a false premise.
    4. Unsupported speculation
    5.You have no understanding of Kant’s Critique of pure Reason. Therefore you assume incorrect notions about the human mind and its relationship to reality, hence what is knowable.
    Seriously, if you would read Darwin’s “The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex”, published in 1871, it might prepare you to discuss the subject. Your current position is like a Bible critic who has never read the Bible.
    P.S. I replied to your Historical Jesus post but it was somehow eaten by the site computer monster.

  • Jack

    Remember that, Samuel, the next time you make a value judgment about anything.

  • Jack

    Max, you need to find a good community college and take a course in logical argumentation. Without it, you sound like a babbling squeegee man. I have no idea how your response is related to anything I or anyone else has posted.

    Samuel, you’re beginning to imitate old Max: Nothing I wrote had anything whatsoever to do with “creationism.”

    The rest of your post completely misunderstands how philosophical argumentation works:

    When I said that science rests on a number of theistic premises, I wasn’t attempting to prove those premises. I was simply showing that absent those premises, it would be hard to see how modern science could have emerged. It is interesting that modern science emerged precisely in a part of the world where such premises were taught and believed.

  • samuel Johnston

    @Jack
    “What makes science possible in the first place”
    This sentence should read, the History of Science Originating in Christendom etc.- not science.
    Your arguments are all rhetoric. You start with the conclusion you want to argue, and then look for a way to present it as convincingly as you are able.
    Newton is celebrated for his useful equations, not for his many books on theology.

  • Jack

    In other words — School marm with 16 cats pats drooling loon on head and calls him a king.

  • Ben in Oakland

    I didn’t see your question, so I didn’t respond to it earlier. sorry.

    I tried to find something complete about it-doesn’t-matterism that I wrote a few years ago, but it has disappeared into the vortex of my files. So this will not be complete. Some day I will get my files organized fully. But then, my husband will insist that I write my book and appear on Jon Stewart. There’s always something.

    1) There is a world of difference between a belief in god and what religion says about god. At a local PCUSA church, I heard the minister talk about communicating God’s will and word in “this sinful and broken world.” My immediate response? If the world is sinful and broken, if these are everywhere, how do you know you’re speaking the word of god? How do you know that the being you believe to be god is god? How do you know he’s telling you the truth? One could certainly posit that religion’s behavior for the past 2000 years in the west– pogroms, anti-Semitism, homobigotry, witch burnings, religious wars, slavery, segregation, Christian vs. Christian vs. Jew vs Muslim vs Muslim– argues against any reliable connection with god, assuming there is such a being. You have only the bible’s word for it, and that book is notoriously immoral in so many ways.

    Atheism isn’t really a statement about god, therefore, it is a statement about religion. I suspect even Athiest Max would agree with that statement more readily than he agrees with the statement that Atheism=certainty. The statement “I believe there is no God” is not a statement of fact, but of belief. It doesn’t mean the same thing as saying “I have no belief there is no god.”, which is a statement about evidence.

    2) As I wrote above…

    I’m not an atheist, though. I’m an it-doesn’t-matterist. I know very few thoughtful atheists who will proclaim there is no god as a matter of absolute certainty. Most of us would give worlds to see proof of any god at all, let alone the three-in-one Christian god. Hell, I’d settle for incontrovertible proof of a leprechaun. But there isn’t any.

    I’m not really an atheist, but an “it-doesn’t-matterist”. As far as I can tell in my 64 years, the ultimate answers to ultimate questions ultimately don’t matter all that much. The question of atheism vs religion is one of those. Either god is the all powerful, all knowing, omnipresent eternal being that we imagine him to be, or he isn’t. If he isn’t, then he is merely an immensely powerful being, but not our god in any sense. sort of like Q in the old Star Trek: next generation series. Immensely powerful, but not actually all that bright. Sort of like the god in the Sodom story, who didn’t seem to know that Abraham’s wife was hiding behind the door.

    But, if he is how we imagine him to be, then his existence is irrelevant and answers no questions, because everything would be exactly as it is now, with god responsible for everything, instead of everything just existing as it does for no particular reason. Religionists tell us that not a sparrow falls but god knows about it. But the sparrow still falls.

    So what purpose does God serve in this?

    3) Is God necessary for morality? Not as far as I can tell. Gods, especially the Judaeo-Christian god, he who murdered little children who couldn’t have sinned even if they wanted to, have very little to teach me about morality. As Mammy Yokum said, Good is better than Evil because it is nicer. You won’t find that bit of wisdom in the bible.That’s how I know the difference. Which leads me to…

    4) If I believed in a supernatural being at all, it would be Koschei the Deathless, Who Made Things As They Are. Koschei has asked: “What are your beliefs to me, who made things as they are?” “What is your pride to me, who made things as they are?” But that’s why I don’t even believe in Koschei.

    Because he made things as they are. My beliefs are irrelevant.

    I hope that explains it all to you.

  • Its true atheists are angry. Is that a surprise to anyone? God is not mocked. “What a man sows that he will also reap” They have rejected God and try to live their lives apart from Him. The result is they are miserable, and it shows. But it doesn’thave to be that way. Turn from your rebellion and folly. Receive Christ as Lord and Savior, and follow Him as He leads you. Then you will know peace. God’s peace that this world cannot give.

  • ben in oakland

    “(1) Nature has a creator.”

    That’s a premise, not a conclusion. Where is the proof? And where has science required this as a conclusion OR a premise?

  • samuel Johnston

    @Mark,
    Give up and die- that is your advice? Ever read Milton? “better to rule in hell….”
    Or Perhaps Faust?

  • samuel Johnston

    @ Jack,
    “it would be hard to see how modern science could have emerged”
    In a world where mere heresy was punishable by death, it is a tribute to tenacity of the human spirit that science emerged anyway. The church was not only NOT a supporter of the scientific method, but it was its chief inhibiter. For a thousand years superstition and censorship reigned.
    It is outrageous for the church to claim credit for the development of science over the last half millennium. Even today, the Church demands belief in the supernatural -the very thing that Science rejects. You simply have been sucked by church propaganda.

  • Samuel, my advice to you would be to step out of the darkness and into the Light. It sounds like you could use some spiritual vitamin D. You need J (Jesus) to show you the way my friend.

  • As a formerly superstitious person, raised as a Christian, and now an atheist with a healthy respect for Buddhist insights, I do spend some time responding to forums where people misrepresent atheists, or where they seem to be stuck in a literalist or fundamentalist rut, not even comprehending their own religion due to being stuck in a cultural backwater and not having been given exposure to other religions. In my experience it is very hard to crack the literalist fundamentalist mindset. Literature, poetry, and study of natural sciences may help to pry open the provincial mind, but argument and explanation rarely does. The only thing that typically brings people to the crisis-point is realizing the hypocrisy of religious institutions, and their own religion’s tendency to use social pressure and other means to suppress the intellect and curiosity about other views. Often this comes about because a priest abuses his position, or because family chooses adherence to dogma or the fostering of bigotry over the core values of kindness and compassion. It is often the case that in order to reclaim one’s soul, he or she must escape the clutches of religion. I am here to help people with doubts to break through the spell and to counter the demonization of freethinkers by the self-protective strategies of religion.

  • dmj76

    Dear Doc Anthony
    Sometimes when bad things happen people lose their religion. One of my favorite people stopped being religious when her beloved sister died from cancer. This kind of thing is not necessarily an argument against religion, it is just how people sometimes react to tragedy. It works both ways – people may become more religious when something horrible happens.
    Best wishes

  • @Mark,

    “You need some Jesus…”

    That is the problem.
    Which Jesus?

    “Bring to me those enemies of mine who would not have me as their king and execute them in front of me” – Jesus (Luke 19:27)

    If Jesus is God, don’t you think he should say nicer things?

  • @Jack,

    What triggered modern science?
    Look into Modernism in 1900 Vienna; Freud, Darwin, Rockitansky, Mahler…

    You really have no clue.

  • samuel Johnston

    Hi Mark,
    Read Plato’s cave myth, and then get back to me.
    It is not about belief or even knowledge. It is about realization.

  • @Mark,

    “God is not mocked. “What a man sows that he will also reap” They have rejected God and try to live their lives apart from Him.”

    Nonsense. What did the little children in Newtown do to wrong to “reap” their murders? They didn’t sow evil. And they weren’t Atheists. They were just kids waiting for Christmas.
    Your disgusting statement is cruel and despicable and ignores that there is no cause and effect where god punishes bad people and rewards the good. Your statement is typical ignorance.

    “The result is they are miserable, and it shows.”
    Paul Newman was miserable?
    Charles Schultz was miserable?
    Gene Roddenberry was miserable?
    Carl Sagan was miserable?
    Oskar Schindler was miserable?

    Sorry, but I’m happy every single day. Except when I have to point out when someone is grossly uneducated.

    “But it doesn’thave to be that way.”
    Childish, petulant nonsense.

    “Turn from your rebellion and folly. Receive Christ as Lord and Savior, and follow Him as He leads you.”
    Again, you apparently need to be taught some things – MOST Atheists were believers once. We’ve been through the nonsense and figured out that the whole industry of Jesus is a fake out.

    “Then you will know peace. God’s peace that this world cannot give.”
    Going into an intellectual coma is not a remedy for anything.
    You are advocating a complete suspension of personal responsibility for a drug – you are selling something as sinister and unthinking as heroin!

    Religion is nonsense. Jesus is despicable. All of it needs to be abandoned as much as possible.

    ____
    AM
    For Peace, Civility and the Separation of Church and State

  • Max, your quoting a parable. Have you ever read the NT or New Covenant? Jesus/Yeshua The Promised Messiah of Israel and the Savior of the world gave His own life so that we could live. You may want to read the Bible sometime instead of quoting others who are citing verses out of context. “If a blind man follows another blind man both will fall into the pit.” Jesus

  • Max, I read about your epiphany above, wow, really? You seem to be confusing earth (present era) with heaven. Let me help you out-they are NOT the same. Have you ever heard of Evil? Have you heard of sin? Have you heard of the devil? Non of those things will be present in the eternal state which God has prepared for those who love Him. For those who have received Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. You have NO FAITH! A man of faith does not shrink back at the first sign of adversity. A man of faith does not turn away from God because evil is in this world. God has made it clear that evil is with us now and that it will get much worse before it gets better. He has also made it clear that evil WILL be dealt with. This wll occur in His time now ours.

  • @Mark,

    “…gave His own life so that we could live.”

    Nonsense.
    Dangerous and silly.

  • @Mark,

    “No Faith”

    Faith is pretending. A cloud of seahorses encircles your head even now – if you have faith.
    Santa Claus will bring you new car with rainbow colors all over it – if you have faith.

    Childish nonsense. It leads to misery.

    ____
    AM
    For Peace, Civility and The Separation of Church and State

  • samuel Johnston

    Hi Thinky,
    “raised as a Christian, and now an atheist with a healthy respect for Buddhist insights” Yup, me too.”it is very hard to crack the literalist fundamentalist mindset. Literature, poetry, and study of natural sciences may help to pry open the provincial mind, but argument and explanation rarely does. ” Yup, my experience too.”The only thing that typically brings people to the crisis-point is realizing the hypocrisy of religious institutions, and their own religion’s tendency to use social pressure and other means to suppress the intellect and curiosity about other views.” My story too.” I am here to help people with doubts to break through the spell and to counter the demonization of freethinkers by the self-protective strategies of religion.” Me too.
    I can only add that I live in an area where Congregationalists dominate the culture. I want them to know that freethinkers live here too ( along with lots of religious folk whose views are widely divergent from theirs). Further, we freethinkers have a political history, a moral history, and a claim to America as valid as any they can produce to justify their point of view.

  • Henry

    I’d just like to pass on another way to help spread the gospel and it’s simply this:-

    Include a link to an online gospel tract (e.g. http://www.freecartoontract.com/animation) as part of your email signature.

    An email signature is a piece of customizable HTML or text that most email applications will allow you to add to all your outgoing emails. For example, it commonly contains name and contact details – but it could also (of course) contain a link to a gospel tract.

    For example, it might say something like, “p.s. you might like this gospel cartoon …” or “p.s. have you seen this?”.

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