New York Avenue Presbyterian Church in Washington, D.C., photographed on Oct. 15, 2013. RNS photo by Kevin Eckstrom

Seven follow-ups on 10 reasons for Christian decline

Last week I offered 10 suggestions to try to explain the declining hold of Christianity in the United States. The numerous threads that followed were really quite illuminating. I also received some interesting emails.

I could go for this civilized discussion thing. Thanks everyone.

Here are seven things I learned, and a bit of where I would like to go next.

  1. Bracing dismissals of the intellectual coherence of Christianity, and sometimes of religion in general, came out in abundance. Pew Religion reports that the "nones" have risen to over 20 percent of the U.S. population. They add one percent a year while Christians drop one percent a year. That's a lot of defectors from Christianity. Clearly, many of them are people who tested Christian faith and found it did not make intellectual sense to their adult selves. Christian efforts to argue "them" out of their skepticism or atheism rarely get anywhere. It seems as if the burden of proof is shifting, from defending disbelief to defending belief. Christian faith can mainly be defended by the good fruit it produces, not by arguments.
  2. Perceived conflicts between science and faith remain a major flashpoint. Sometimes Christianity is taught in such a way that even a rudimentary acceptance of modern science becomes impossible. Sometimes modern science is taught in such a way that what is understood to be Christianity becomes impossible to accept. My personal versions of "Science" and "Christianity" do not cancel each other out in this way. Clearly, those attempting to advance Christian faith have crucial work to do here.
  3. Historic and contemporary harms done by Christian leaders and Christian teaching remain important. I should have mentioned the clergy sex abuse problem, as one commenter did; that has ruined Christianity in the eyes of many, and not just those directly victimized. And of course harms done by Christian anti-LGBT teaching were raised by several readers. Any time we are unwilling to acknowledge the wrongs Christians have done in history and even today, we discredit ourselves badly. Proud Christian triumphalism is past its sell-by date.
  4. Some readers mentioned the Christian Right and the politicized version of Christianity on offer since at least the days of Jerry Falwell. If indeed, Christian = Republican then you lose the majority of Americans who are not convinced that this equation should be made. (There is of course a Christian Left, where Christian = Democrat, but it is much smaller and quieter by comparison and hasn't had an equivalent cultural impact.) Well, the good news on this front may be that the Christian Right has never looked weaker in the last 40 years.
  5. The Internet, and other forces of globalization, received some nominations last week. I think this is definitely a factor. For most of world history people were raised in a religion and surrounded by its adherents. Now we have information about all of the world's religions at the touch of our fingertips -- often incarnated at work and in the neighborhood with us. The unassailability of our version of religion is harder to sustain when we encounter so many other reasonable people with so many other beliefs. Finding a way to foster a confident, tolerant Christianity for a globalized era is the challenge ahead of us.
  6. I received some queries about my claim that evangelism is dead. I think that this relates to the last point, in this way -- the Onward Christian Soldiers era in which we knew we had the Truth and needed to share it in a world of Dark Heathenism has passed. So what exactly is our message? What needs are we seeking to address? What hope are we offering? What, really, is the Gospel? What if multiple churches and traditions are offering multiple competing versions?
  7. The only comments relevant to my provocative claim that we lack talented, compelling Christian leaders came from several readers who noted a growing unwillingness to accept claims based simply on authority. I Say to You as Your Pastor As I Quote God's Holy Word that this or that is true and you must obey unquestioningly -- these kinds of statements don't work for as many people anymore. So what kind of leader is next? How do we cultivate authoritative, compelling leaders, people who are neither timid time-servers nor authoritarian demagogues? This is one of the questions of the hour for all who train Christian leaders, as I do.

Let the conversation continue.

Comments

  1. Much improved follow up! It’s clear that the author read the comments, thought about them, and looked into the things presented. Still no mention of the actual data, where polling those millions who left Christianity showed that the fact that they just simply no longer see the mythology as factually true is the main reason they left – though points 1 and 2 above certainly point to that (and it makes sense to put them at #1 and #2). Here’s the link again. http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/08/24/why-americas-nones-left-religion-behind/

  2. Well I must say, those points are quite relevant, and I myself can be found in most. What I think unifies all of those points can be found in the last one, authority. If we as Christians claim that we want to know the truth, love to embrace the truth, it is blind authority that is destroying this. Too many times, from too many people, has personal opinion, feelings, personal interpretation are being dictated as gospel, rather than what they are, opinion. With technology, globalism, people want to get into the conversation rather than the sit and listen and take what is spoken as mandate. Then when you factor in the abuse crisis, yes it is still an active crisis, I don’t believe that “leaders” understand the devastating damage that in and of itself caused to Christianity as a faith. This again is where authority has caused so much damage to the faith. If the question is how do we salvage a faith that is dwindling the only way I see is preachers/priests must preach the Gospel and only the Gospel. They must sever the multitude of tentacles reaching into areas that remove themselves from preaching the Gospel. Keep interpretation of the Gospel limited in venues such as homilies where personal opinions arise, and allow venues where conversations on the Gospel can be discussed. Allow people to hear the Gospel and the Holy Spirit to guide them to action. Then the church must address the hypocrisy we see from our “leaders” which like myself makes people want to walk away.

  3. The most refreshing observation in the original post is the mention that clergy bear responsibility. Members are so accustomed to hearing about their failure as if it is always in spite of or in defiance of universally stellar leadership. Many pastors are silent on issues that might personally affect them and their congregations, reserving their advocacy for politically correct issues they can desert without fallout. And yes, some are just not that good. Thank you for putting this into words! Perhaps church leadership has bowed to the god of abundance. The mindset that encourages a demand for calls that compensate for years of study rather than recognizing the needs of others creates a culture that defends comfort and status. Result: the church of the upper middle class. A silent clergy looks the other way as denominations embrace abuse. This is likely to increase as failure begins tapping on denominational doors. They have power no one else in America has. The courts are reluctant to enforce law within churches—granting an advantage that pits them against their members—who don’t dare speak up. Church leaders can abuse power without fear. After all, failure is never their fault! Whether it is sex scandals or land grabs or fiscal greed, the temptations of abundance result in nullifying the Ten Commandments. The church has become a hurtful place—not a place to invite the unsuspecting. Sadly, the era of the Christian soldier is past.

  4. It is interesting that we have Christian congregations in much of what we call the 3rd world growing by leaps and bounds, mostly led by people with no professional seminary education – and indeed, with very little formal education at all. Meanwhile, we have tens of thousands of stagnant and declining congregations led by pastors with degrees from any of dozens of professional seminaries, most requiring an earned bachelor’s degree as a prerequisite.

    This is not to suggest any sort of anti-intellectualism in any way. Higher education is a wonderful thing, and ways should be found to make it available to our poorer brothers and sisters overseas. However, we may have made a serious mistake when we elevated a seminary degree to be the primary and only really important credential that we expected of our pastors. Perhaps a better model would have been to cultivate and develop spiritual leadership within each congregation, and then to send those who have been identified as having the most promise in their personal character and giftedness to take advantage of what a seminary has to offer when they are really ready to benefit the most from it. When I say “to send” them, that also implies that the cost will be carried by the entire congregation and not by the seminarian. We really need to get away from a system where people go tens of thousands of dollars in debt, and then are under great pressure to do anything to get and to hold on to any position at any church in order to pay off their debt. Pastoral leadership needs to grow organically within the congregation rather than being a matter of engaging roving hired guns.

  5. To me, the accompanying picture of the American Flag and the church steeple tells part of the story. Maybe the question being discussed is better written as, not why Christianity is in decline but why the American brand of Christianity in decline? For sure the the North American brand is declining which I think may well be a good thing. But I don’t think it is in decline worldwide. The United States is not the whole world.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp/2015/05/20/think-christianity-is-dying-no-christianity-is-shifting-dramatically/

  6. Thank you for referencing the ongoing conservative Christian not-just-clergy abuse problem. Now that it is out in the open, can we start talking about safeguards need to be put in place to keep the children of today and tomorrow safe?

  7. I believe Gushee’s #5 is possibly the most relevant. BOTH conservative and liberal streams of Christian thought are to blame. They are roughly of equivalent strength, as mainline churches are less vocal but have decidedly liberal positions well embedded. To a large extent each side has abandoned Christianity as the main source of spirituality, and instead tried to tug their religion in the direction of their politics.

    In this year’s campaign we definitely have a social justice liberal extolling the religious virtues of her lifetime political involvement on behalf of those with less. She deifies government as the great Arbiter of who gets what in this life. The other side is more blatantly political, trying to appeal to both white evangelicals’ conservatism and the black churches who may be growing tired of the once-every-4-years attention of the Democrats.

  8. Regarding your points 1 and 2 : you claim, “many of them [defectors from Christianity] are people who tested Christian faith and found it did not make intellectual sense to their adult selves” but they insist on applying a literal rationalism to scripture and religious teachings despite figurative language being necessary to present religious/spiritual truths and a poetic, non-linear mind being necessary to understand those truths.

    It is the nones and the skeptics that need to step up, admit there are other methods of acquiring wisdom and then develop competence in using those non-linear methods.

    Religion and science come together at the outer edge of quantum physics.

    http://www.strangenotions.com/modern-physics-ancient-faith-an-interview-with-physicist-dr-stephen-barr/

    http://discovermagazine.com/2011/mar/14-priest-physicist-would-marry-science-religion

    http://motherboard.vice.com/read/dalai-lama-religion-without-quantum-physics-is-an-incomplete-picture-of-reality

    It is not as you claim, “those attempting to advance Christian faith have crucial work to do here” but rather that those mired in the mechanics natural science with their dependence of sense impression its limited ranges and confinement to being on the outside as well as their dependence on rationality, mathematics and logic with their emphasis on difference have to recognize that there are many ways other then sense impressions and its above derivatives for gaining wisdom.

    It is the nones and the skeptics that need to step up, admit there are other methods of acquiring wisdom and then develop competence in using those methods. Religion could help them through explanation and demonstration.

  9. You keep saying that the challenge Christians must address is how to change Christianity into a form that is more palatable to Modern audiences. I disagree. I think the challenge Christians should address is in figuring out how to live without Christianity. You should all be giving serious thought to how you will live your lives once Christianity is no more. Explore secular ethics and morality. Learn legitimate history in regards to your religion and the ways it has influenced the world, instead of the white-washed propaganda you are accustomed to. I think you will find the world a much richer place once you have assured Christianity out of your life.

  10. Where have you been for the past 50 years that you missed hearing conservative Christians insisting the Bible is literal truth? The nones and skeptics would not object to it being interpreted as a combination of allegory, history, and ancient political propaganda. That would be great.

  11. I think that belies a terrible anti-intellectualism inherent in Christianity. Congregations are growing in parts of the world that suffer from incredibly poor educational standards, if they have them at all. Meanwhile, in parts of the world with much higher education standards, congregations are shrinking. Which tells me that no matter how much effort you put into becoming better liars and salesmen, proper understanding of how the world works still inoculates people against religious belief. Training better salesman will not make it easier to sell snake oil to people who know that it is snake oil.

  12. Science builds airplanes. Religion flies them into buildings.

    Science discovers that gay people are a natural part Of the world, really not all that different from heterosexuals. Religion creates phony studies to prove we are a threat to everything good and holy.

  13. I mentioned #’s 4 & 5 as reasons the first go round. The difficulty in sustaining insularity and sectarian cohesion undermined adherence in all religions.

    #4 goes to the heart about how wildly unpopular fundamentalism really is for the majority of people who identify as Christians. The appropriation of the term and the public appearance that it only applies to fundamentalists is jarring and offensive to many.

    #5 Congregations disperse with mobility. The ability to stay isolated among fellow believers is nearly impossible in modern society. The flow of information and increasing diversity of population makes usually autocratic religious appeals tougher to sustain.

    #1 simply notes the undue privilege as and burden shifting by believers has reached its proper point. Putting the burden of belief on those making the claims. As dictated by rational Socratic argument forms.. Belief is not really a default position. That was just assumed as a way to avoid questions one did not want addressed.

    #2 is noted that if science and religion are in conflict, one doesn’t understand or appreciate the strengths of either. Religion does not have the objective credibility of science. Science does not address beliefs based on faith. Creationism as implied in the article is a dishonest attack on both science and religion.

    I cannot comment on 6&7. I see 3 as a reason people leave sects, but it doesn’t say much for Christianity in general.

  14. Cultural elite means exactly the same thing as political correctness. Both define a mysterious other who is in control of the process, where in the average person’s voice is not heard and dismissed as not being valid. Both mean “five black robed lawyer tyrants” who assume authority over “the good, decent common people” who have no such authority.

    In other words, both terms mean not very much at all, other than the court of public opinion has moved on.

  15. “What if multiple churches and traditions are offering multiple competing versions (of the gospel)?”

    Something I haven’t seen mentioned in your original or this follow up to the question of the decline of Christianity in the West is simply God’s eternal decree. But then again judging by the analysis I do not think that you believe that God has decreed anything.
    As to the above question, you completely leave out the fact that conversion is entirely a supernatural act and man plays no part in it. God has decreed that some men will be saved and he has also decreed that the gospel, dispite fallible mans corrupting influence, will be the means in which he calls them out of spiritual death and into life. Christianity may indeed be on the decline, thanks in part to Dr. David Gushee, but the church that Jesus Christ said that he would build is not. Christ will continue adding to the church those who are being saved.

  16. Actually, Michael, I’m starting to doubt this entire “Christianity is jn decline” meme. Yes, Dr. Gushee’s seven points ARE important. However, this past Sunday at church, I saw some individuals who have no more than a high school education — no joke — and yet are visibly on fire for Jesus Christ. (That included the pastor, by the way. No college degree, but a lot of spiritual power.)

    Every week or two, there’s a few diverse people, NOT regular churchgoers, who are visiting that church and finding God. Prayers and needs are being answered. People are getting supernaturally helped and healed and saved. God is showing up there. No media coverage, no radio-TV ads, no social media. But it’s happening all the same.

    So maybe you better forget about “decline.” YOU may want to steal our sheep, but WE are the ones on fire, WE are coming to your house first, and WE gonna steal a bun’cha YOUR sheep instead !!

  17. I think the no. 1 point in this article shows the author’s misunderstanding on the burden of proof as well as what constitutes the position of the nones in general and atheists as a specific subset of that group.

    The burden of proof is always on the person making the positive claim. In this case the burden of proof is on the shoulders of Christians to prove that their claims are in fact true, and have empirical evidenc rather than just faith. (Faith being a belief held in the absence of supporting evidence or in the face of contradictory evidence, and also being definable as asserting something is true without actual knowledge or evidence of its truth.)

    In practice this looks something like the following.

    Christian: “A god exists, that god is named Jesus, to be free from death one must worship Jesus.” (This is a positive assertion which requires imperial evidence for one to be justified in claiming the belief as true.)

    Atheist: “I don’t believe you. Because you haven’t provided sufficient evidence to substantiate your burden of proof.” (This is not a positive assertion, this is a statement of disbelief, it requires no evidence to substantiate and there is no burden shifting.”

    Disbelief is not a positive assertion, which is why atheism is not an assertion that there is no god, but merely a statement of individual belief with regard to the claims made by Christians and other various theistic groups. While some atheists may assert that “no god exists,” creating a burden of proving the positive assertion. The vast majority of us merely disbelieve the positive assertions of Christianity and other theistic beliefs systems, based upon the lack of substantiating empirical evidence. Such a position, is not a positive assertion, and as such requires no burden of proof.

    In the end one of the major reasons Christians are loosing followers is because when logic is applied, it shows the basic problems with the claim. If you have to try to shift the burden of proof on to those who don’t accept your claims you are loosing the battle to convince others to accept your belief as true, because you aren’t justifying the beliefs in any meaningful way.

  18. 1: anecdotal evidence is not actual evidence. Statistics strongly disagree with your observations.

    2: I find it very offensive that you were referred to people as sheep.

    3: your claim that the people who are falling for your religion have no more than a high school education supports a point I have made elsewhere. Religion is growing amongst people who have little to no education or understanding about the world around them. The more people learn about the world around them, the more religion dies.

    3: I have no desire to steal your sheep. My greatest desire is to clean them of their brainwashing, so that they realize they are not sheep at all, but wolves who have been tricked into behaving like sheep. If we are to indulge in that particular metaphor.

  19. Do you have any actual empirical evidence that there is something supernatural?

    What you’ve provided is called annecdotal evidence, which in this case justifies your personal beliefs, but is insufficient to show actual counters to the trend…

    Further, the less education a person has the more religious they tend to be, partially because religions offer easy comfortable though often wrong answers to big questions. Why are there earth quakes? Because loki’s wife failed to catch the poison that is dripped on him by a snake and he writhes in agony.

    Why is there lightning? Because Thor is mad and has smashed his hammer causing sparks and noise.

    People visibly on fire with “Jesus” is not evidence of the truth of your religion, but on the psychological effect that religion and group/mass psychology has on people who have been indoctrinated.

    If you are truly on fire, might I suggest an experiment to prove your faith. In Mark 16:18 Jesus says Christians can drink poison and survive. Do you burn with the passion for Jesus? Are you willing to take the test? You are not testing God, but your own faith. If you are a true Christian and believe in Jesus try drinking a bottle of bleach, or sulphuric acid. Tell you what, if you do it on camera and survive with no ill effect I’ll convert.

  20. fundamentalist/literalist Christians are a minor sect. You are committing a logic error in attempting to apply the characteristics of some members of a group to the group as a whole

  21. Your airplanes into buildings analogy is false. You attempt to judge a group by the actions/beliefs of a few. Besides, the act was not a religious act it was an act of war, an act bring home to the U.S. what the U.S. exported when it decided to wage war on foreign soils.

  22. Atheism is the belief that there is no god, Christian or not. It is a positive claim since no one can really know that. While you may personally claim that atheism, to you, means that you reject established religions because there is no physical evidence that stands up to your logic, I think this is just agnosticism.

  23. “God has decreed that some men will be saved”
    That’s really just your Calvinist understanding of God’s will and the idea of free will. It’s not at all universally accepted by Christians.

  24. Completely incorrect. Atheism is the lack of a belief in God or gods. It is not, and never has been, a positive claim. This has been explained I don’t know how many times.

  25. But that’s what Americans outside of the church are used to, because the public face of Christianity is largely evangelical, and largely anti-intellectual.

  26. I like that quickie disclaimer that you put in your last paragraph there, CV. “You are not testing God…”

    That tells me that you’ve previously suggested this particular experiment to other Christians, who then correctly informed you that while Mark 16:18 is true, it’s equally true that the very same Jesus who said Mark 16:18, **also** said in Luke 4:12, “Thou shalt not tempt the Lord your God”, when Old Scratch suggested a SIMILAR deadly experiment like what you are suggesting.

    As for “anecdotal evidence”, I personally witnessed all those living anecdotes in action last Sunday, and what they’re doing is very real. They may not show up as “statistical evidence”, but people’s lives are being changed, and you DO have something to watch out for, whether or not you are sincerely interested in “converting.”

  27. You are still listing anecdotes. Personal observations that are not backed up by evidence. What you are doing is akin to claiming that because you see several people getting sick with malaria, that the global incidence of malaria is rising. To which I would point out that the global frequency of malaria cases is dropping as better Sanitation and Medicine slowly disseminates throughout the world. It doesn’t matter if you have personally witnessed individual cases, these statistics show that the rates of the harmful conditions we are fighting against are dropping.

    And just like with malaria, the key factor in the decline of religion is education. The more people learn about the world, the less likely they are to believe religion. The Wider this information spreads, the greater the decline we see in religions across the board. That is why you see large gains in religious belief in third world countries with no education standards, and why you see consistent decline in religions in countries that holds to excellent education standards.

  28. “I saw some individuals who have no more than a high school education — no joke — and yet are visibly on fire for Jesus Christ.”

    You saw some people who were uneducated being gullible?

  29. The power of the mind is still not fully explained. It’s a powerful thing and can fool us easily.

  30. I’m sorry I haven’t been perusing the comments page of this website for years, because I only recently found it. And I mixed up the thought that someone can say “I don’t believe there is a god” instead of “there is no god” and say they don’t need a proof even though both statements imply the same thing.

  31. It’s nearly gone in Ireland never mind in decline, And this was considered a Catholic country only 30 years ago. The UK is over 50% atheist as is most of northern europe. The only place it grows is where education fails.

  32. There you go with that ” other means of acquiring wisdom” nonsense again. Truth time: those means of acquiring wisdom you like to talk about? Have all been tested and have failed their tests. They do not Grant any form of knowledge, wisdom, or information that is reliable in any way.

    They do not do what you think they do. In fact they do the exact opposite. They lead people to completely incorrect results which are provably incorrect. If you have a book that only gives you the wrong answers to every test you take, what should you do with that book? The answer is to throw it away. Or at the very least edit it to contain disclaimers so that nobody else would ever make the mistake of trusting it.

  33. Not quite. You have to look at the structure of the words.” Theist”. It means someone who believes in a God or gods of some description. The Greek prefix “a-” means “not”. So the word atheist can be correctly translated to mean ” you know all of those people who believe in claims about gods? I’m not one of those.”

    How certain they are about their belief and whether or not they make claims to knowledge about it is a question for gnosticism and agnosticism.

    An easy way to remember it is to remember that all animals on Earth are atheists. Anything that does not actively believe that at least one God is real is an atheist. That does not tell you about anything else they do believe or any claims they might make. It is just the state of not believing in God claims.

  34. Eh, it just doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me because there is no objective viewpoint of neutrality. For example, in the statement you used, “you know all of those people who believe in claims about gods? I’m not one of those,” the conversation wouldn’t just end. It would either become “I believe there are no gods,” or “I believe there is no way of knowing what god is or if it exists,” or “I believe that religion or god is irrelevant to the way I live.” No matter what, you’re always making some kind of claim. That’s the way I think of it, but I’m not a philosopher.

  35. Dr. Gushee has abandoned biblical doctrine for man centered explanations as to why people are abandoning something they never believed in the first place. I am approaching this from a theological presupposition that God has decreed all things that whatsoever come to pass. The reasons Dr. Gushee gives are every bit in line with Romans 1 and God demonstrating his wrath by the giving the rebellious over to their desires. Nothing happens outside of God’s decree.

  36. It’s my understanding based on what’s in the Bible.

  37. That is not evidence. You did not answer my question. Please do so.

    Additionally, approaching any discussion from a theological perspective is a guaranteed way to be wrong about everything. Your theogical presupposition needs to be justified in some way.

  38. The question still stands though. Do you believe Jesus? Do you believe when Jesus says Christians who believe in him can drink poison and survive? Do you have empirical evidence that this is true or do you merely believe it on faith?

    Will you in fact test your faith and prove its truth beyond a reasonable doubt thus upholding your burden of proof. Or instead are you scared that by testing a claim made within the bible that your could be proven wrong, ad suffer horrible injury.

    Are you merely asserting that you hold these beliefs to be true, when really they just offer you cold comfort and a mechanism to think you are better than others.

    Faith is a bad mechanism for discerning anything close to objective truth.

    I will give you a thought experiment to prove to you why this is so. Replace the word god in every statement about faith with the flying spaghetti monster. I.e. substituting one god for another does nothing to change the underlying claim.

    “I have faith the flaying spaghetti monster created the universe exactly as it stands.” Because faith is such a bad determiner of what is objectively true, one can without making the belief change in any meaningful way able to use the same justification for an intentionally made up deity as one can for your specific deity, which was probably made up in close to the same way.

    You personally witnessing the anecdotes does not in any way negate the trend… This is what we mean when we suggest anecdotal evidence is insufficient, because it is subjective and dependent upon confirmation bias. I.e. you believe x, and then use you observations as conclusions that x belief is true rather than testing whether or not the small sample size is actually representative of the rest of the whole.

    I don’t disagree that people’s lives are changed by accepting religious beliefs, but this is across all faiths and not simply Christianity, and the change is not always one that is beneficial.

    For instance Christian children have a much harder time discerning between reality and mythology due to Christianity’s reliance on meta-magical thinking. I.e. Miracle is a synonym for Magic, and thus when language is couched in meta-magical terms like miracle, Christin’s are much more likely to accept made up stories as true.

    “and you DO have something to watch out for, whether or not you are sincerely interested in converting?” Is this another veiled threat? Why do theists in general and Christians in particular have to resort to threats about what is going to happen in the great unknown beyond ignorer to justify their beliefs?

    Worship Jesus or he will punish you. Better love god or it’s gonna send you to hell. etc. etc. etc., All of these threats are designed to reduce critical reasoning and incite the fight or flight mechanism in ones head. We don’t have any good reason to accept the claim that Hell exists as a literal place or that a god is real, so why should we be worried about the potential to be sent there, or to anger said imaginary being.

    You don’t worry about upsetting Santa, or Thor, and I have no worry about Jesus or Yahweh. Once you understand why it is you don’t fear Thor then you will know why we don’t fear Jesus.

  39. It was a religious act when the people involved state that their justification for the act was religious. Why do we not take these people at their word?

    If you believe your religion is true and that your god(s) want you to spread the truth by any means necessary, you will probably use violence. If you believe the troops who are in your country at the bequest you your govt. are Crusaders, who hold a false religion and who are sullying our holy land, you will probably justify violence against them through religion.

    An act of war can also be a religious act, thus why we have the term holy war.

    This doesn’t defame all religious individuals or paint all members of one religion as inherently violent, but all certainly all Abrahamic religions originate from Iron age Mythology, which tended to justify the genocide and violence meted out by its followers with religious reasons.

    Why else does god call for the slaughter of all males and the rape and enslavement of the females? A plethora of examples exists from the Old Testament, through to the Quran.

  40. You might ask that of Dr. Gushee since he’s an ordained minister of the gospel.

  41. I could, but I asked you. Do you have any good reason to think that the Bible is true?

    More importantly: what possible reason could you give me that would encourage me to care what the Bible says?

  42. I think you have failed to keep up with the evolution of language and are relying on an anachronistic definition created by theists to force atheists into a corner.

    Atheism and agnosticism are not mutually exclusive. Agnosticism refers to knowledge… I.e. an agnostic claims no knowledge about the existence of a god. While atheism refers to personal belief… I.e. an atheist does not believe in any gods.

    Thus one may be both an agnostic and an atheist. It’s true that some atheists go a step further, these are referred to as strong atheists, or Gnostic atheists. These particular people assert that there is no god and they have knowledge of that position. For these particular people a burden of proof exists, because they are making a positive assertion.

    Thus, one who sates “I do not believe any gods exists, because there is a lack of empirical evidence to support the conclusion that said gods do exist.” is an atheist, because they are a(without) theist (a belief in one or more gods)

  43. One is a statement of personal belief the other is a statement of truth.

    Person 1: “A god exists.” This is an expression of a truth claim. Either one or more gods exist or the do not. This claim needs to be supported by evidence ignorer for it to meet the burden of proof.

    Person 2: “I don’t believe you.” This is not an expression of a truth claim. Instead it’s a statement of personal belief. I.e. a god or gods could still exist, regardless of whether the person believes in them or not.

    Person 3: “No gods exist.” This is an expression of a truth claim. It’s a negative statement, which is impossible to actually prove, because by definition gods are non falsifiable special pleading, but it still a positive assertion requiring the person making the claim to substantiate it to meet the burden of proof.

    Person 2 and person 3 are making separate claims and statements, person 2’s claim does not imply the same thing as person 3’s statement. However, both person 2 and person 3 are atheists, because both are without a positive belief in any gods.

  44. This is because you have been taught that to be an atheist one must make an assertion of whether a god does or does not exist. When atheism is instead merely a statement of personal non-belief, in the generalized claims we collectively call theism.

    I don’t have to make a positive claim. For instance, I don’t believe in any gods. This doesn’t require me to believe no gods could or do exist. However, I still lack a belief in any gods.

    The best analogy is a court room. In a criminal trial the question is guilty or not guilty, rather than guilty or innocent. A person may have committed a crime, but can still be found not-guilty, because the prosecutor fails to uphold their burden of proof.

    The defense doesn’t have the burden of proving the defendant is innocent. Instead they merely have to show the Prosecutor has failed to meet its burden of proof, that beyond a reasonable doubt.

    In much the same way, Christians and all theists are like a prosecutor who must prove beyond a reasonable doubt or maybe even a higher burden (extraordinary claims requiring extraordinary evidence) that their claims are literally true. While an atheist can simply sit and say, no you haven’t met your burden of proof, without the burden of proof shifting to their shoulders.

  45. So you don’t believe in free will is what you are saying. An omniscient god that has nothing happen outside its decree negate free will. It also place the entire burden of evil on the shoulders of said god.

    Why did Timmy get cancer and die a painful death at six? Well god hated Timmy and so he decreed that he get cancer.

    Why did Shirley get gang raped by a group of guys with aides? God decreed that Shirley should get raped and die a painful death.

    Why did Shirley’s rapist get to go to heaven while Shirley went to hell? Well god decreed that the rapist could be forgiven since he decreed they would worship him and have their sins forgiven, while god decried Shirley would be an atheist and as such should be punished for eternity, for the evils things her ancestors did which god knowingly created them to do just so he could punish them.

    Some kind of nice god you got there. If that god is real I wouldn’t want to worship it.

  46. If the bible is not literally true, then why do you worship its ever changing Protagonist as being literally true?

    The bible is clearly wrong on a number of factual details, and makes absurd claims. Knowing that this is the case, readers of it should question whether any of it is actually true, especially the major claims.

    For instance we know the Genesis account of the formation of the world is false. Adam and Eve weren’t literally real, there was no literal garden of eden, and a talking snake didn’t cause a rib woman to eat the fruit of knowledge, so there is no literal original sin for Humans to be punished for. Thus, Jesus call to action, salvation of humans from death as punishment for sin, is negated because we understand that there was no original crime for which death is a mandatory punishment.

  47. Yeah, you have been more clear in how you put it, but I still don’t feel that there is ever a place of neutrality as you claim non-positive (or non-strong) atheism is.

  48. Good religion improves the mental health of the believer. The pertinent question is, can Christianity be configured to accomplish that goal without insulting anyone’s intelligence, or abusing children or minorities? If it can, Christianity will survive as a force for good in the world. If it can’t, it will survive as a force for evil in the world. That’s the choice.

  49. The gospel. That Jesus came to save men from the righteous wrath of God. However, I do not believe that I could present you with anything, no matter how convincing, in my view at least, that you would accept. It’s my presupposition you see. I believe that man in his sinful state from birth is incapable of believing the what the Bible says least of all the gospel of Jesus Christ unless God, through the Holy Spirit and in his mercy, applies the gospel to the heart of a guilty sinner like he did for me. He changed me.

  50. Do you have any personal opinions about whether or not life exists on the fifth planet of this star system which astronomers designate Wolf-359?

    If someone said that there was life on that planet, would you believe them? If no, you’re an a-359-ist. Does that mean you firmly believe that it is a barren rock without even micobes or plankton? No, it just means that the claims that life does exist there have not been satisfactorily supported by evidence.

    The default position on any issue where the existence of something is in question is to not believe in the claims of existence until evidence is presented for them. I do not need to disprove the existence of life on Wolf 359. I do not need to disprove the existence of the chupacabra. And I do not need to disprove the existence of a god. The default position is to not believe things until they are supported by evidence.

  51. Well, that’s a really poetic way to simply say “no, I don’t have anything to back up my beliefs”

    Problem: we know, for a historically verified fact, that the Bible was artificially manipulated. If you read the oldest manuscripts of the four gospels, they do not mention a death and Resurrection or a virgin birth or The Sermon on the Mount. Those were created later or adapted from other belief systems and added in to try to add more credibility to the Bible. Furthermore, there are absolutely no independent verifications of any of the stories in the Bible. Historians are extremely certain that the Jews were never slaves in Egypt, which means the entire story about The Ten Commandments The Exodus and the law of Moses is completely made it up. On top of that, the Jesus described in the Bible did not fulfill any of the Messianic prophecies of the ancient Jews. He was not a direct descendant of King David, he was not an Unstoppable Warrior whom death could not touch, he did not conquer and overthrow Rome, and he did not turn Israel into an indomitable nation. No historian of the time recorded Jesus in any way. Not only did they fail to make records of the Miracles Jesus is supposed to have performed, but they don’t even have records of his mundane in life. The town of Bethlehem, where Jesus is said to have been born, did not exist at the time the event was that to happen. It had been wiped out over a century prior and did not get rebuilt until much later. Nazareth also did not exist at that time.

    So, you take as true a book which has been verified to be completely incorrect and contradicts itself frequently.

    Why?

  52. This is a situation where feels =/= to reels.

    To better explain it atheism isn’t a position of neutrality. It just isn’t inherently a positive assertion. Meaning that while the basis of disbelief requires no burden of proof, it’s not always a neutral stance.

    It would be wrong to claim atheism is a neutral position. Instead try to think of it scientifically. It’s the null hypothesis to the theist hypothesis of god(s). I.e. it still takes a position, the position is just a negation rather than a counter positive assertion.

    A: “It’s raining,” (assertion)
    B: “It’s not raining,” (Counter assertion)
    C: “I don’t believe you,” (Negation, but not a counter assertion)

    This is most obviously seen in why theistic counter claims rely on the argument from ignorance.

    Exp. One person makes an assertion, another counters with incredulity or disbelief to the assertion, and the initial speaker comes back with well “you don’t have a good enough explanation so mine stands as true.”

    This is called the argument from ignorance, because merely not having a sufficient counter explanation does not make a given explanation true.

    We are all born atheists, that is without a belief in gods one way or the other. Through billions of years of evolution we have developed a hyper sensitive threat detector and a need to give meaning and explanation for that which we don’t yet know. This natural inclination is strengthened, by years of indoctrination and by authority figures telling us certain things are true.

    Brain scans using MRI machines comparing atheist to theist show that while we have the same hardware the software we introduce actually has an impact in the sizes of different areas of our brains. This is part of why different types of claims are received differently by atheists and theists.

    For instance this is one explanation for why children who are raised as Christians have a harder time discerning reality from fiction when fiction is couched in meta-magical terminology. Because there brains have been trained to see meta-magical claims (aka Miracles) as being true and valid.

  53. Actually the same benefits to mental health can be found without religion. Most of the positives that are created are the result of being part of a supportive community and are not inherently tied to religion per se. This is why the benefits can be found in non-believers who have a community.

    Things like meditation can create the same mental harmony that prayer provides, both can be achieved without organized religion or even the belief in a higher power.

    Christianity will most likely die out like every other religion. Sure there will still be some adherents, but most people will treat it like the outdated mythology that it is.

  54. “If that god is real I wouldn’t want to worship it”

    Congratulations, you are in the majority of those who also reject a sovereign God.

  55. Quoting the Bible doesn’t get you anywhere. You need to support the Bible is actively true.

    Uncle Ben said that, “with great power must come great responsibility.”

    Captain Kirk asked the Devil why he needed a starship to escape a black hole.

    Captain Picard demanded to know by what authority the god-like beings known as Q presumed to judge humanity.

    Hank’s letter proclaimed that Hank is always right about everything.

    Quoting something is your Authority does not in any way do you have anyone, including you, a good reason to trust it.

  56. Yeah, but can you give me a justification for why I should want to worship such a monster? Can you also give me empirical evidence that supports your claims such a monster exists?

    Or is the boogyman in your mind just so scary that you don’t care whether it can be proven real or not?

  57. Says Michael Griffin and some theologians while others will dispute what Michael Griffin and other theologians say.

  58. Yes but according to the movie it was actually the devil pretending to be God trying to escape a prison at the center of the Galaxy, for which he needed a Starship. Not my favorite Star Trek movie.

  59. I always forget that part. Star Trek V was probably one of the least thought out of the Original series films. Even undiscovered country made more sense.

  60. This is not a matter of theology. It is a matter of objective scholarship and history.

    (Also: there is no ‘R’ in my name. Don’t worry about it, common mistake.)

    And you still haven’t actually given a reason but you believe what you believe, or for me to believe the same. The closest you have come he’s claiming that the Bible changed you in some way. If that is your claim, then we can get somewhere. What was this change?

  61. Agreed. Sometimes they just throw out an obvious cash grab without putting any effort into it. Sad, really.

  62. I don’t base my understanding of faith in a god that exists on miracles. The underlying reason why I am not an atheist (let alone what I believe about Christianity) is that the universe exists. The reason it is very hard for me to understand the atheist non-belief as non-positive is that, in non-belief in a god, it claims that something exists from nothing. It implies that. I’m sorry but that’s my perspective.
    Stop backdoor insulting me with those last two paragraphs. You were the more helpful between you and Michael Giffin, because for some reason, your comments came off less angry and more helpful.

  63. Still it makes more sense to ask what would god need with a starship, as the Devil is an inherently limited character in the narrative, while a god is at least by Christian definitions supposed to be omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent.

  64. I have not been commissioned to provide empirical proof of the existence of God, I have been commissioned to give the gospel to a dying world. It is God who calls his elect to belief.

  65. That is not the public face of Christianity. It is the public face of a Christian sect. You are still making the logical error of assigning the characteristics of a few not only to all members of the group but to all members of all religions.

  66. I did not say there were no other ways to get good mental health. But on a practical basis, this was one of the original functions of religion, and it would do no harm and a lot of good if those houses of worship on every street corner could return to that function.

    As to religion dying out, don’t get your hopes up. It has too much psychological capital to do that anytime soon. The form will persist for a long time. The question is, will it persist as a force for good or a force for evil?

  67. Your first mistake is to assume that God is an individuated entity. No major religion makes this claim. Your second mistake is to read the Bible or any scripture literally. Spiritual messages are given in figurative language because those truths go beyond the limits of literalism.

  68. Conservative Christianity has been the dominant force in American religion, both in terms of population and political influence, since 1980. To pretend otherwise is disingenuous.

  69. Incorrect. Religion proclaims “in the beginning there was nothing”.

    Physics, which most atheists trust, states that “matter can neither be created not destroyed.” And as far as we have been able to test, this is true. All of the matter and energy currently in the universe has always existed. The Big Bang was simply when it changed from what it was before into its current configuration. There was never a time when nothing existed.

  70. I think you have taken what I made as an observation as a personal attack. If you re-read what I wrote you will find that it is a generic statement not an ad hominem.

    The two links provided are just to start you on your research, and not the actual studies, but rest assured this is what hard science is showing us: 1. believers and non-believers have slightly different brain scans; 2. Christian children exposed to meta-magical thinking seem to trend towards believing it to be literally true when given fictional passages.

    http://blog.al.com/wire/2014/01/religious_brains_function_diff.html

    (blog on brain can showing different brain activity)

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/07/21/children-religion-fact-fiction_n_5607009.html

    (Report on recent study regarding Christian Children and meta magical thinking.)

    Again this is not an insult, but if you look back at your last post and mine you will find that your logical justifications are what we call the “argument from ignorance.”

    I.e. that the universe exists is not evidence that a god is responsible. And the atheist position is not that something comes from nothing. While most theists accept a biogenesis on our planet, and the big bang as the explanation for the existence of our universe, that alone is not sufficient to mean all atheists believe something comes from nothing. Regardless of what most scientists and atheist believe about the origination of life, or how the universe came into being is irrelevant, because atheism is a one trick pony, it merely refers to a non-belief in the existence of any gods.

    Atheist not having a sufficient explanation for where life comes from is not justification or evidence for your explanation, and is thus you have fallen into the trap of the logical fallacy of “the argument from ignorance.” Again this isn’t an ad hominem, I’m not calling you ignorant, I’m saying your justification is a logical fallacy.

    That’s part of the problem for many atheists like myself. The theistic assertion isn’t based on empirical evidence which can be show to be true to any level of confidence, instead it’s based upon logical fallacies. If it weren’t your justification for why you believe something wouldn’t be contingent upon what you believe the other position to be.

    Again I don’t mean this as an insult, or to be aggressive, but this is the internet and you can’t see my nonverbal communication, so I understand why you might take it as such. For a minute resist the urge and try a thought experiment,

    On a piece of paper, define the characteristics of the thing you call god (do so without the biblical claims first then try comparing your entity to the biblical claims). Now List all the empirical evidence that would be required to justify and prove said entity exists. Now list all the empirical evidence you have for that deity. The point I’m trying to make is to get you to define and justify what you believe in without using what others may or may not believe as a reference point for why you believe something.

  71. Means of acquiring wisdom that lie beyond the limits of sense impression and the dependents logic science, and rationality obviously cannot be tested by logic, rationality or science. No matter how many different ways you try to claim otherwise you are still incorrect.

  72. I would argue that the mere existence of religion does psychological harm, because it encourages people to believe things without evidence and discourages people from rational thought and inquiry.

    Now, if you wanted to convert every Church into a legitimate Mental Health Care Facility or homeless shelter, THAT Would Do no harm and a great deal of good.

  73. No. Although the one that I respect the most is Vedanta.

  74. Of course quoting the bible won’t have any effect on natural man. However it is not my duty to convince you that God exist, it is my duty to give the gospel.

  75. You have done a very good job of describing the U.S. wars in the Middle East over the last decades.

    You first mistake is to claim that Abrahamic religions originate from mythology. They originated from direct experience.

    Your second mistake is to confuse the historical content of scripture with the spiritual content of the same scripture.

  76. You are playing pigeon chest. Northern_Witness things that there are things logic cannot explain, and that meditation and dance are reasonable ways to gain understanding about the world. He believes in an entire mythology built around pseudoscience and unfalsifiable claims.

  77. If you would prefer…

    Religion burns witches. Science discovers there are no witches.

  78. Not every single religion depends on external supernatural beliefs. I expect better from someone on a religion forum.

  79. So in other words you believe you are here on earth to tell other people about four books written by three anonymous authors, who were not percipient witness to the events they describe and who all wrote accounts that pretty much mutually exclusive.

  80. Again, you are wholly wrong. You are saying that the only tools (logic, reason, empirical confirmation) which have proven themselves reliable, are not reliable for testing information you get from a source which can be and has been tested and proven to be unreliable.

    I do not say this lightly: you are fundamentally insane.

  81. Yes it is.

    1st Peter 3:15.

    You are obligated by your own rules to be able to provide justification for your beliefs.

  82. Religion has been around for 10’s of 1000s of years. Thirty-five years for a religious sect is nothing. You comments say nothing about religion but only refer t a very minor sect which has been hijacked by the 1% to promote the well being of the 1%. It’s fear-based linear judgements and condemnations allow it to be used by the 1% to divide and conquer. But it is a side show in history.

  83. No abrahamic religions originate from Mesopotamian polytheism. I.e. before monotheistic Judaism was polytheistic Judaism. This is why Yahweh has a wife, because he was just the Jewish war god before he became named as the only god.

    Direct experience? Kind of like Tyre still standing, or there being no evidence of an exodus, or the accounts of genesis which were not direct experience because they are not literally true.

    Your last paragraph is confusing. The bible is filled with things that aren’t true. This directly negates the claim that the bible is the inspired word of god. The bible is filled with spiritually contradictory statements, further negating the claim that it is the inspired word of a deity. The bible is filled with directions to do immoral things and things that will actually result in one dying, this stands in direct negation with the claim the bible is the inspired word of a god.

    The spiritual content is the same as the historical content, merely examples of bronze and iron age mythology recorded by people who believe it to be true.

  84. Those tools have proven to be reliable in a superficial way in a specific venue. They are not applicable to other venues that lie beyond their scope despite your false claims.

  85. Yeah, got that form one of his other comments, where he seems to think there is a distinction between the factual inaccuracies and some sort of spiritual claims made by the bible.

  86. If not reading literally than it is a fictitious story… Thus there is no reason to take any of its claims as being true or inspired.

    Me thinks you like to use a lot of Gishgallop and woo, ignorer to make yourself feel smart. Instead merely what you’ve done is describe your self a pantheist and not a Christian.

    Tell me what truth does Mark 16:18 refer to if not a literal one?

  87. The question of the moment regards contemporary and near future religious practices. If you have nothing to say about that topic, stop trolling.

  88. Those spiritually contradictory statements may seem contradictory to you but they are contradictory when understand properly. You make a lot of claims about what is supposed to be in the Bible but present no examples.

    Your inability to distinguish between spiritual and historical references betrays your ignorance. Incidentally, myths are stories that present spiritual truths in figurative language so that the reader may be persuaded to use non-linear means to understand them. You apparently are not able to do this.

  89. Arguable. I might be slightly immortal ( running joke amongst those who know me in real life. I have been run over on seven separate occasions, stabbed a dozen times, lit on fire, bitten by brown recluse spiders so many times my flesh has stopped reacting to their venom, struck by lightning twice, exposed to the rabies virus without a vaccine, drowned, thrown out a second story window, and had 2 heart attacks. I *might be* immortal. Takes its toll, though.)

    But that is irrelevant. Even if I die, the world will still go on without me. Matter can neither be created nor destroyed. The matter that makes up my body will break down over time and be rearranged into other materials. Just because I am going to die, and you are going to die, does not mean that the world itself will die.

    In fact, we are currently living in a golden age. There are less Wars happening today than at any point in human history. There are less plagues throughout the world today than at any point in human history. More people meet certain arbitrary minimal educational standards like literacy and knowledge of mathematics than at any other point in human history. Fewer people are going hungry today then at any point in human history. By every measurable standard, the world is doing better today than it ever has been at any point throughout all of history. At least for us. So I get very confused when I hear Christians talking about how the end times are upon us and how horrible things are happening in the world. Sure, the world needs a little Improvement, but on the whole, things seem to be pretty amazing.

  90. Technically, you are correct. But those religions that do not rely upon Supernatural beliefs are statistical outliers.

  91. Mark 16:18 Christians can drink poison: “They will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.”

    Tyre: (Ezikial 26: 7-14) Tyre still exists to this day.

    http://errancy.org/tyre.html

    There’s no such thing as spiritually true. Something is either true or it is false. You need to brush up on your logic an the rule of non-contradiction.

    The thing is I can totally take a fictitious story and relate it tony own life and find meaning from it, claiming it speaks to universal truths, but that’s a far cry from reading Harry Potter or the Bible and actively believing that I can literally do magic, because the protagonist does or says I can.

  92. You are being ridiculous. The entire canon of literature is fiction but rather than dismiss it, why not read it to be educated. Think in terms of parable, metaphor, simile, etc. The spiritual adept can literally rise above the perils of life and/or access other worlds

  93. No they can’t. Everyone who has claimed to do this has been proven to be a fraud.

  94. Regardless of one’s opinion on religion it’s clear that this website is just another agenda-driven globalist site which promotes “religious syncretism” and nothing more. Anyone serious about exploring real religious beliefs should ignore this site.

  95. The trolls are all the Atheists who have to have their voice heard no matter how illogical or factually. I responded to points 1 and 2 of the article. You have chosen to go off on a tangent.

  96. Please accept your own invitation. This isn’t a platform for your beliefs, it is a website concerned with religion.

  97. To give reason for the hope that within me? That the Holy Sprit has changed me, that I now live for Jesus rather than myself, that I have received a new heart, a new nature with new desires from how I thought and acted before? This because I heard and by God’s grace I believed. I testify and bear witness with my life. I cannot however, by my shear reasoning ability make you believe that Jesus saves anyone one, not even me for that matter. That is the sole prerogative of God alone.

  98. That simply is not atheism, but a theist definition of atheism to make it into a belief system, and not the lack of belief.

    An anti-theist believes there is no God. An atheist has no belief that there is a god. World of difference.

  99. Or, 4) I have no belief in any God. Show me some actual evidence.

  100. Nope. Your conclusion is your premises. It is a circular argument – and a false one.

    Miracles not contrary to nature, but only contrary to what we [i.e. you] know about nature. – St. Augustine.

  101. I am neutral. But them, I am strictly speaking, not an atheist. I just use it for shorthand. I am an it doesn’t matterist. I’m pretty sure that none of the claims of any religion about a god and his/her/its/their message to the world have any basis in reality. If it does, then what I believe about it doesn’t matter. If it doesn’t, what I believe matters even less.

  102. Dr. Gushee:
    As an elder in an old ‘mainline’ church, I’ve thought a lot about your point #7: how to improve leadership.
    In my personal experience, we do have need for better leadership, but its not really senior leaders we need more of, its middle-level leaders.

    The wider Church has many brilliant pastors, leaders and scholars, who have excellent ideas about how to re-invigorate the Church, and congregations. The bigger problem is that there is a huge lack of good mid-level, lay, leaders to generate interest and passion among ordinary Christians and congregants, and organize and lead congregations and other groups in the specific efforts, missions, and projects that are needed to make grand vision a reality. In short: we have plenty of good pastors, but a dearth of committed and trained elders and committee chairs.

  103. Parsing out your sloppy poetic language, here is what I get from that statement:

    1: you used to behave differently from how you behave now. Something happened that changed your behavior. You attributed this to God. Why?

    2: you received a new heart. Is this metaphorical or literal?

    3: you have a ‘new nature and new desires’

    4: and all of happened because you heard someone quote to you out of a book and you believed them. *Why*?

  104. To all extents and purposes in the Untied States it is the public face of Christianity. I am sorry, but mainline churches have not distinguished themselves by calling out these fundamentalist sects, and those sects and preachers, with the air time they are given, do represent to our younger generations what christianity is, and to them it appears hateful, unintelligent, and useless.

  105. Hey, I’m a functionalist. I’m not fussed about the particulars of a belief system as long as it does not insult the intelligence and does no harm. Religion is a lagging social indicator that is slow to respond to social change. It still hasn’t processed the Industrial Revolution yet. The greatest period of extended change before that was the Rennaisance, and it gave us Protestantism. Before that was the creation of the metropolis in the Middle East, that gave us Christianity and Islam. I have no doubt that we are no more than a century away from a new great religion that responds to the needs of contemporary people. I just want to work on the outlines.

    As to religion dying out, that’s what they were saying in the Middle East as the old agrarian religions failed to reflect the needs and lifestyles of the new metropolitan population — until a rising new religion was reconfigured to do the job. I have no doubt it will happen again.

  106. I have said it before, and I will say it again: getting better sales people will not help you sell snake oil to people who know that you are selling snake oil.

  107. So you are saying I should start a cult and get my foot in the door?

  108. If you want to say that the people of the Northern Europe and North America are the only educated people in the world, that’s your right. But I googled the the number. And what I found is that number of believing people in the world dwarfs the population of Northern Europe and North America combined.So I just don’t think we are looking at the death throes of Christianity just yet

  109. Oh, good point. As suggested in another comment, it appears to be a 1st world problem, but it would be good for American religion to focus on America.

  110. You’ve drawn a good connection. Why do you think that is so?

  111. With all due respect, I don’t care who is in the pulpit unless I first know that my children are safe from harm. That they will not be assaulted, bullied, or taught to bully others. Without those assurances, and they better have some teeth in them, all the musical chairs in the world doesn’t matter.

  112. Maybe an example would communicate my point better Michael: One project my church has is an after-school tutoring program for neighborhood children, particularly ESL kids. The pastor was easily able to convince the congregation what program was needed and valuable. However, ongoing leadership for that program is badly needed, to help recruit and train volunteers, oversee the program, and make sure that rules to protect the kids are effective and being followed.

    A second example: We and other churches in town cover weekend evenings at one of two local soup-kitchens. Most of the churches struggle with mid-level leaders to recruit and co-ordinate volunteers, make sure heals are happening, etc…

  113. Nope. Apparently women don’t get in on this. Just men.

  114. I have yet to see a defense of religious belief which passages on evidence or reason. Religion neither requires it nor works well with it. To accuse atheists of being illogical or ignoring facts is to employ projection. Your responses to 1 are disingenuous. Fundamentalists may be a small subset, but their exposure is far greater than its numbers allow. Mainstream and liberal Christian sects are notorious for their failure to speak up in light of fundamentalist excesses.

  115. Something exists from nothing is most emphatically not an atheist viewpoint, but a religious one. The universe exists. No one but religionists say that it came from nothing. But religionists will say that God came from nothing, or that God has always existed, but that God, which is a something, didn’t come from nothing.

  116. So, God is deciding who will live eternally, and who will burn eternally, according to his whim.

    If a human being behaved that way– and many have– you’d call him a monster. But that’s because you have a moral sense. But when God does it, the very God who gave us our moral sense, you excuse it.

  117. Moses described his own funeral. Thus, someone added something to the bible on at least one occasion.

    At least.

    One.

  118. He actually, probably was a descendant of David, on both sides of his family– the real one, not the mythical one. That,s why the Jewish people of those days dumped him.

  119. Those are very worthy causes, but I can’t help but think that the community would be better served if the group organizing them was dedicated solely to those causes and not connected to a church.

  120. I’m thinking something merging communal childcare, ancestor veneration, community service, and sexual liberation (because sex sells). Think it has a shot?

  121. 1. The plural of anecdote is not data.

    2. Perhaps sheeple is better?

    3. Religion rises in the less educated parts of the world, declines in the more educated parts. A lot of other statistics follow the same trend. Southern states vs. northern states,

    4. Good luck!

  122. But is it wisdom? Does it come from external sources or internal?

    In my youth, I took a fair number of acid trips which, if done properly, can help you find the still, quiet, knowing center from which you finally see yourself without the masks, illusions, rationalizations, and deceptions. Most importantly, you can see the totality of the anger, hurt, and betrayal in your life, and learn to ask, “So what? What are you going to do now?” Being gay, and the process of coming out, wherein you must pick up your sexuality, turn it around, examine it from all angles, and put it back, but this time in its proper place and orientation, certainly helped. It often helps to be an outsider, if you can see clearly, except when it doesn’t.

    Both of these are not examples of the universe telling me a thing, but me telling myself.

  123. I will leave that to the burners of thousands or hundreds of thousands of witches over some 700 years.

    Oh, wait. They didn’t have a definition, they had belief.

  124. Your typo was an inadvertent indicator of the truth.

    Understood properly? The whole of apocalyptic literature, starting with Daniel, right through to revelations. Of which Jesus himself was a prime expositor, was all about contradictions. The last shall be first? Nope. It’s not the earth that the meek inherit, it’s the dirt. It was true in Jesus’s day, and despite his promises, remains true today.

  125. The public face of Christianity says that the first parents, for which there is no evidence that they ever existed, and a lot of evidence against, committed a grave sin, which was passed onto their children, and condemns all to hell, unless they believe that God had a son, and that believing in this son, whatever that may mean, saves them from burning in hell forever, because God loves them so dam’ much.

    All the rest is just window dressing. Unfortunately, it’s a window in a store store that sells only one product, and makes a hell (so to speak) of a lot of money selling it.

  126. Only if you send me a lot of money, in small unmarked bills. ?

  127. I’m completely in agreement with you Lioness – I would not have left my kids under another’s care or supervision at church without being comfortable that there were good safeguards in place (and being followed) to provide reasonable protection, and would strongly recommend others insist on the same.

  128. Sorry Michael, but your attempted escape-hatch is a total dog-eared failure. You don’t get to shift the burden of proof by denying that atheism is a positive claim.

    “(David) Gordon’s point is that the atheist cannot shift the burden of proof onto the theist by providing a negative definition of ‘atheist’ for the simple reason that the theist can avail himself of the very same definitional strategem. He can introduce the term ‘antitheist’ and then demand that the antitheist — one who denies that God exists — prove his antitheistic contention. If the atheist can be defined as one who is devoid of theistic belief, then by parity of reasoning the theist can be defined as one who is devoid of antitheistic belief.” — Atheist Bill Varricella, “The Maverick Philosopher”, 03-10-2009.

  129. I had actually never thought about considering it on a country by country basis. Of course, I also never bought into the argument that America is or ever has been a “Christian Nation.”

  130. Wrong again. Anecdotal evidence IS actual evidence, especially when you’re being given eye-witness testimony by somebody who was there (in this case, me!).

    If you want to argue that anecdotal evidence isn’t as strong as some other types of evidence (e.g. statistical), then do so, but that’s NOT the same as your visibly false claim that “anecdotal evidence is not actual evidence.”

    On another issue, the term “sheep” is a Bible term, used for people, and it carries NO inherent derogatory meaning towards people, any more than the the Bible’s term “shepherds” to describe leaders. It’s not a slap at anybody’s intelligence or abilities. So make no mistake: WE Christians are gonna **respectfully** steal your Atheism-deluded sheep, baby!!

  131. I totally agree, we have turned into a church of the head not of the heart! It is also true that credentials are what determines a religious vocation, rather than zeal, love, and commitment. As you said this is not about anti-intellectualism, but about knowing the essence of God/Jesus which is nothing more than cultivating unconditional love for our fellow brothers and sisters. That spirit of love has been covered over or worse, perverted to cause devastating harm.

  132. He could not have been. David’s entire family was wiped out in a failed military campaign. It is one of the big sticking points that Jewish Scholars do not like to talk about. They are prophesied savior must be a descendant of King David, but all of David’s descendants are dead. Technically, the Jews are never getting their savior.

  133. Yes. Check my earlier posts. I’ve SEEN real live examples, real-time examples, of Everett Lunday’s last sentence there, just in the past two weeks. Eyewitness testimony evidence.

    You atheists, skeptics and assorted whatnots, are having a helluva time trying to stop Jesus Christ around here. Y’all better quit while you’re behind !!!

  134. “Christian faith can mainly be defended by the good fruit it produces, not by arguments.”

    Thanks for conceding that the truth claims of the Christian religion are irrelevant.

  135. I have seen your posts, and they are functionally meaningless. If you want to list anecdotal evidence, I have personally caused two priests to abandon their faith and get real jobs. I did this with nothing more than reasonable argument. I have helped dozens more realized the Folly of religion, Christianity especially, and abandon their former faith. You are not the only one with anecdotes which support their position.

    You are however the only ones here arguing a position which is not supported by empirical facts or statistics.

  136. Okay, I should just accept that I’ll never be able to use it, unless whatever I can dig out of the couch cushions is enough. ?

  137. Your last paragraph there is very perceptive. At least your logic is good, IF “the Genesis account of the formation of the world is false”, as you (mistakenly) claimed.

    Many Christians and clergy have been fooled into thinking that they can ditch the historicity and accuracy of Genesis without ALSO ditching the historicity and accuracy of the Gospels. They think they can let the termites eat up the foundation of their theological house (the Creation), but still keep the house (the Cross) intact anyway. Doesn’t really work.

    So that’s ANOTHER major reason for the so-called “Christian Decline.” People of all flavors, are seriously watching to see whether or not Christians really, totally agree with the historicity and accuracy of ALL the supernatural claims of the Bible.

  138. agree to send it, but that it might be a while in the future……

  139. Nope. Your trying to apply a methodology to religion which is inappropriate is just you trying to down religion to your level. Why not step up?

  140. In the realm of world religion, Southern Baptist is not only minor but miniscule. Focus on the big picture and don’t try to judge religion based on the antics of some who profess a religion. That is a logical error.

  141. Think of the first parents story as a morality tale and see if that gives you a different perspective on it.

  142. You are exactly right. Your example is not religion but psychology. Your abusing acid has zero to do with religion.

  143. Your inability to understand the apparent contradictions of scripture is evidence only of your willful ignorance.

  144. Your label of pseudoscience is a thinly disguised plea for the supremacy of science despite all the limits of science and regardless of the existence of other better ways of knowing that which is beyond the limits of science. Yours is a circular argument.

  145. I’m not sure why you add the word If or claim I’m mistaken in claiming that genesis is false. It’s pretty clear that the Genesis account is most likely false. Or at the very least that the narrative stands in direct contradiction to all of the available and observable evidence that we have which serves to falsify the accounts.

    While Genesis is a large text and only part of a longer modified series of books here are a couple of examples.

    We know that we observe no evidence for the so called global flood. there’s nothing in the geographic record that indicates a global flood, and there is insufficient water on earth to create the conditions described.

    The narrative of the ark stands in contradiction to genetics, both of humans and other animals. For instance if Noah really was responsible for repopulating the planet through copulation with his children. not only would we all be inbred, but we could trace back the Y chromosome, to a common ancestor. That we have greater genetic diversity, and can’t trace the Y chromosome back to Noah indicates the story is further false.

    We also know the account makes no sense with regard to the distribution of humans and other animals that we find across the planet. Why are there no kangaroos in Africa or North America?

    Then you have the fact that it runs in contradiction to the histories of other peoples that existed prior to or at the time it’s supposed to have occurred. If the global flood occurred, no one told the ancient Egyptians, Mezo Americans, Chinese, or Indians, all of whom had thriving societies during the period the flood is supposed to have occurred.

    Further we have the original source material for this story. We know the epic of Gilgamesh and its precursor narratives are source material for the claim of the ark and the global flood. So we know where the original story comes from historically speaking and that it was a mythological fiction told in the general region.

    Then we have the claim about the cosmology of the universe. We know that there is no solid firmament above us, we have sent people into space and know it’s not solid as is claimed in the bible. We also know that the sun came before the earth and we have good reason to believe that the big bang is a plausible explanation for how the universe came to be without requiring a god to start it.

    We know that for plants to exist and survive there must be a source of light, which means the sun couldn’t have been created after. We also know the sun existed before our planet did, and that the earth is a globe that revolves around the sun, rather than a flat disk which the sun revolves around.

    We also have Geology, biology, and genetics which stand as hard sciences in the face of the claim for how life developed on earth. While some people may not accept this because it contradicts the biblical narrative, we have significant numbers of transitional fossils and can follow our own genetic transition through several ancestral cousins and grandfather species of our own human family, in addition to our ability to trace evolution in other creatures.

    For example genetics establishes that the closest living relative to a T-rex is a chicken, meaning the egg definitely came first. Scientists have gone as far as degrading the genetic codes of birds to turn their beaks into snouts. But we also have fossils that prove that certain dinosaurs developed feathers, hollow bones and the ability to achieve flight, well before anything we would define as a bird even existed.

    So it’s not a question of If, Genesis is untrue, but whether you accept the overwhelming weight of the empirical evidence that we have indicates that it’s more likely than not that Genesis is not a literally true story.

  146. Thanks for the entertainment. Those links were hilarious. The bias was obvious just from the URL name. No objective source, just as I thought.

    My favourite line was from the last one where the writer says that the more Christians say that an event was miraculous, the less likely such an event occurred while the more they argue that an event occurred, the less likely that even was miraculous. Talk about illogic and a circular argument. If I was teaching a class in introductory logic I would use that as an example of what not to do. I wonder if the writer ever bothers to think about what he writes or if he just assumes his stream of consciousness, bias and wishful “thinking” is able to pass the smell test.

  147. I have to agree with your assessment there. Good post.

    That’s EXACTLY the steep price tag that comes up, if a Christian tries to buy into the “good fruit it produces, not by arguments” claim, (which itself is actually a line of argument, ironically).

    Gotta be words and deeds together, not one or the other. Gotta be “fruit” AND “truth claims” together, not one or the other.

  148. There you go making threats again because you don’t have any evidence and can’t take the fact that people might not accept that you imaginary friend is real and special. First you try to threaten people with hell, then you make a veiled threat to violence about how your going to burn people and conquer us.

    Unfortunately for you, atheism is not a religion. A religion can be atheistic, such as the Satanic Temple, Secular Humanism, or some forms of Buddhism, but atheism itself is the absence of theism, or the belief in any gods, rather than a religion with any dogma or credo.

    It’s nice that you try a tu quequoe fallacy, and I’m sure it provides you comfort to be able to frame it as something that you are familiar with. But you should be clear that what your doing is creating a straw man, rather than addressing the underlying problems with your own world view.

    Second be prepared, because you keep making threats that are easy to make online behind a computer, but get out in the real world and one of these days your going to find out that we aren’t all pacifist hippies and your attempt to conquer and burn us might be met by a response with steel or lead that could be legally justifiable as self defense.

  149. Well, you are definitely familiar with the standard talking points of the atheist/skeptic/evolution websites. You’ve probably spent a lot of time therein, (me too.) But I’ve also spent a lot of time with anti-atheism anti-evolution websites and books, so I have (hopefully) a small dollop of how to answer those talking points.

    For example, your claim of “If the global flood occurred, no one told the ancient Egyptians” can be countered by Dr. Elizabeth Mitchell’s article “Doesn’t Egyptian Chronology Prove That the Bible Is Unreliable?” (06-22-2010). I could also point out that there are over 270 Flood stories all across the world, including the Chinese that you mentioned.

    It’s like most of Earth’s nations and cultures remember SOMETHING about a global flood, even if they don’t believe it. Go figure.

  150. Wrong.
    42% of Americans believe in Biblical Creation.
    Run away from the facts some more.

  151. I think of it as mythology that has nothing to do with morality. In Fact, given that Adam and Eve, having no knowledge of evil or death, could not understand the warning they were given, and considering the uses to which it has been put to, it has everything to do with immorality.

    But more to the point, if it is not a true story, than the whole of Christian thought falls apart. No original sin, no inherently sinning people. If they are not real ,then Jesus’s death and resurrection– to save us all from our sinful natures– becomes pointless.

  152. Do you think either great literature or great wit are to be had for a mere pittance?

    Sure, send it. ?

  153. Do you have a citation for that? I’d like to see it. I’ve been long an advocate of the idea the Jesus was descended from David on both sides– Joseph the king, Mary the priestess.

    Thus the priest King.

  154. No. Cultures have statements about floods, which makes sense because all cultures near water suffer from flooding. None of the accounts you discuss a global flood, nor do any of those stories match up in time or details.

    Further, the narrative of the flood in genesis states that the whole population of the world was wiped out, if this were the case then other cultures having flood myths would indicate further that the narrative in genesis was un-true.

    Follow that up with the fact that we know that oceans rose during the end of the last ice age as water melted, but that this isn’t the same as global flood or the biblical narrative.

    The fact that Dr. Mitchell’s article is on answers in genesis tells me all I need to know. The fact that Ken Ham has a financial stake in continuing to sell a biblical narrative to willing rubes ignorer to fluff his six figure salary is almost as amusing as his claims that dinosaurs and humans co-existed.

  155. Again, it is a logical error to claim that the characteristics of some members of group are also characteristic of the all the members of a group.

  156. It’s so good that there are truly enlightened people to show the rest of us how wrong we are.

    Exhibits: cotton Mather, Torquemada, Joseph smith, and Martin Luther in his full I-hate-Catholics-and-Jews mode,

  157. I would argue that religion has very little to do with religion.

    Let alone God.

  158. What is it with you people that makes it impossible for you to understand allegory? Is it stupidity? Fear and a need to strike out? Complacency? An illusion of competence? A need to feel superior or to argue.

  159. I believe we weren’t talking about the entire world.

  160. You said, “None of the accounts you discuss a global flood, nor do any of those stories match up in time or details.” But let’s look again …

    “Another flood story is from China. It records that Fuhi, his wife, three sons, and three daughters escaped a great flood and were the only people alive on earth. After the great flood, they repopulated the world.”
    — snipped from Monty White’s article, “Flood Legends”, 03-29-2007, AIG.
    So in fact, the Chinese that you mentioned, DID “discuss a global flood” in which Fuhi and his family were the only people left alive on the entire Earth.

    And notice something strange: according to the Chinese story, there were only EIGHT survivors. That happens to be the exact number of survivors mentioned in 1 Peter 3:20 !!!

  161. I’m sure in the confines of your mind that seems profound. In the light of day it is just ridiculous.

  162. I’m just happy when people do good things. I don’t like it much when they do good things, laud themselves for doing good things, but have a price tag attached.

  163. Umm, nope. You gotta focus on your Reading Comprehension there, CV.

    I specifically said “it’s time to burn up **the religion of atheism**, did I not?
    Last time I checked the laws of physics and chemistry (which was last weekend in fact), it’s ***physically impossible*** to burn up a religious belief.

    Therefore NO threats of “violence” or of “burn people”, whether “veiled” or otherwise, have been offered against ANY persons of any belief systems whatsoever.

    You’ll make a much more effective atheist if you’ll just Read For Comprehension, no?

  164. Maybe you shouldn’t have called atheists illogical or impugned their understanding facts then. Since you have plainly stated that facts and logic have no place in the discussion of religion.

    Insulting, inaccurate and inappropriate arguments towards atheists is nothing new from religious believers. I am not surprised.

  165. It teaches very questionable moral principles.
    -Ignorance is preferable to knowledge.
    -Authority should never be questioned, no matter how arbitrary it seems to you.
    -Collective guilt as a species for the acts of predecessors (Christian version only)

    These are TERRIBLE lessons to take from a mythological story.

  166. You are an insulting troll who doesn’t bother to read responses. Ben was saying that even as allegory, the lessons taught are immoral.

    Punishing people who do not understand and appreciate the gravity of their acts is cruel and arbitrary.

  167. You are just insulting enough for me not to want to bother to explain it to you.

    Have a nice evening.

  168. Oh, but I haven’t said (or even suggested) anything to you about going to Hell. That’s not the topic nor the postings I’ve offered, not at all.

    (Hmm. Is your conscience bothering you about something? If so, you should check it out. Just in case!)

    What you and Michael specifically need to “watch out for”, is some on-fire Christians whose rational and Scriptural arguments ultimately result in some of your fellow atheists dumping all that Atheism (and agnosticism and gay-activism too!) and becoming saved, on-fire Christians.

    People debate about “Christian decline”, but YOUR belief system is already way too bogged-down with baggage and problems!!

  169. AIG fabricates and misrepresents flood stories that are unlikely to be familiar to modern western aurdiences to make them appear more like the Noah/Babylonian story than reality permits. So my answer to the Chinese flood story is that it is probably not an actual myth. But instead is more dishonest nonsense one expects from Creationist arguments.

    Flood stories vary wildly from culture to culture in effect and nature. They are most prevalent in riverine cultures because flooding is a common fear for them and about the only natural disaster capable of wiping out whole communities at a time.

  170. Perhaps you should actually check your science before you invoke the authority of science, yes?

    “ReligionLink reports data from the 2008 ARIS (American Religious Identification Survey) in comparison to 2001 data. They state: **Specifically, the number of Wiccans more than doubled from 2001 to 2008, from 134,000 to 342,000, and the same held true for [other] neo-pagans, who went from 140,000 in 2001 to 340,000 in 2008.**
    — Snipped from the religioustolerance.org article, “How many Wiccans are there? Estimates for the US, Canada, etc.”

    So there are at least 342,000 WITCHES in America, as of the year 2008. Probably more now.

  171. You mean the cult of atheism? You’re several millennia too late to start THAT one.

  172. Wow dude, you’ve got more self-healing abilities than that movie superhero Wolverine! I’m impressed.

    Of course, a biblical Christian might be tempted to ask if maybe it’s actually God who keeps on healing you from
    ***the stuff that kills everybody else*** …

    … so that maybe YOU can decide to repent from all that Quicksand Atheism Mess, and actually decide to hook up with God Himself, a living personal relationship with God, through putting your trust in Jesus Christ as your personal Ruler and Savior of your life and asking His forgiveness of all your sins. Do you think that’s a possibility?

  173. Wow one of the Chinese myths regarding a flood has common elements and the same number of people as one of the narratives in your bible, color me shocked.
    I learned something new. Thank you.

    A couple of things occur to me:

    First, I’ll ignore that fact that 1 Peter is from around the year CE80 and isn’t the oldest written version of the flood myth in your book. Or the fact that its authorship is disputed by historians and instead get right to the meat.

    I notice all you can provide is examples of flood myths, rather than empirical evidence that would establish those myths are true rather than fiction. In our history we have a plethora of myths and stories some of which cross cultural lines, but more often than not we find that those myths are not literally true.

    For instance some cultures used to believe their gods could be appeased only by blood. We generally as a species don’t believe this anymore because there is no empirical evidence to support the claim that a supernatural being requires human blood on its alter for it to shower its blessing upon us.

    Unless you have empirical evidence there is little reason to suspect this is more than a story passed around.

    Second, and I’ll frame this as a question. And I apologize if I make an incorrect assumption. Why is it that you accept the biblical explanation for why the flood happened, rather than say that Hat-hor was sent to take vengeance on the human race? Or that the flood occurred before humans existed and was caused by Odin, Villi, & Ve killing the Giant Ymir whose body created the flood and drowned the ice giants?

    I think, if you suppose a literal genesis, that taking these examples as justification for the biblical narrative you are cherry picking the theme and attaching it to your own myths, rather than actually looking at the evidence objectively.

    Third, I’ll frame this explicitly as opinion. What I see when I read the numerous myths is a number of common stories that spread as humanity did. Humans like to recycle stories, like a long game of telephone they continue with us with details changing. This is why if you look at the spread of say Heathenism (Indo-Germanic paganism) as compared to Celtic paganism. Both groupings share similar stories and similar gods, but both groups myths and gods also vary regionally and linguistically. What that means is that they share certain roots and branches, but the tree is still different.

    Fourth, and this is not opinion. The same goes if you follow the evolution of religions. Christianity began as Judaism taking all of the collected myths of its parent, plus those of groups it later conquered. Wednesday is named in english after Woden’sday, or Odin’s day. Friday is Frey’s day, Thursday is Thor’s day, Saturday is Saturn’s day. Easter comes from Eoster, a pagan goddess.

    Judaism itself was a pagan faith before it was monotheistic. Yahweh had a wife, and was part of a pantheon of gods, which is why the common myth written in the old testament has a lot more in common with myths like Gilgamesh than appears, because there was a steady fade and mixing of myths into the version recorded in the old testament, and then further mixing and editing before you come to 1 Peter around CE80.

    Fifth and hopefully the last. Even assuming hypothetically these stories are all based off one true story, recording an event in which the earth was completely covered in water, that alone would not in of itself justify your explanation for why as being true. This is because most of the stories are now mutually exclusive. Both your reason and many if not all of the others are not both capable of being true, because they negate one another.

    So what we are left with is the question, what empirical evidence do you have to prove a global flood occurred, and why do you believe that your explanation for why it happened is true?

  174. Atheistic heathenry fits that definition, but I’m sure you could find something just as good.

  175. If it’s allegory, then the whole of Christianity, decidedly not allegory, is false. No need for anyone to die and expiate allegorical sin..

    But in fact, this story of the savior and or redeemer is an ancient one, not just Christianity’s.

  176. Wiccans are not witches, not on any sense of the term as it was used in witch burning times. That they call themselves witches means simply that the two meanings carry the same etymological root.

  177. Lotta pent-up-anger there. It’s good to vent, but Internet discussion board may not be the right place to find healing.

  178. Of course, I’d ask you for “empirical evidence” of your claim that according to Judaism, “Yahweh had a wife.”

    (Certainly such a claim is TOTALLY unsupportable from either the Hebrew Bible, the Christian New Testament, or just plain Reason. And where is “Mrs. God” now, for example?)

    But that’s just one example of what’s wrong with your post.
    (And by the way, any claim that Genesis borrowed the Flood account from Gilgamesh, simply does NOT fit the available data on the two texts. No “empirical evidence” to save your bacon, as it were.)

  179. I do, but you’ve already demonstrated that you believe personal anecdotal evidence over empirical so it won’t really matter. You also fail to refute any of my points, answer any of my interrogatories, or provide any refutation logical or otherwise with which to burn me or the straw man atheist religion you have attempted to create.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asherah

    See the thing is there is solid evidence to support that at some point for some people believed Yahweh was a god and was married to another god. That’s a totally valid claim, because the region was a polytheistic melting pot. There exist physical items attesting to such a belief. Even your own biblical narrative has the Israelites reverting to paganism several times and discusses other gods.

    Gilgamesh fits the same narrative theme as well as two siblings being the last people after a world flood, or the world flood being caused by the slaying of a giant, or a natural disaster which is the most common rational for why the flood occurred. They are all myths, yours is no different, no more real. You tried to use another myth to legitimize the details in one of your preferred incarnations of the story, but failed to account for the fact that the myth you used most often justifies the events by calling the facts of nature and not by design of a god.

    Have fun living in your delusion with the rest of the deplorables. Me and the growing number of nones will continue to grow as humans understand more and more about the natural world and recognize that secular predictive models are generally much more successful at explaining the world around us than theistic models like Christianity. .

  180. If the author considers that having a smidge of common sense makes you a “cultural elite”, I guess he has a very poor image of the people of the USA.
    “Bigotry of low expectations” and all that stuff.

  181. Are you saying that we shouldn’t treat religion as something that might be true? I wholeheartedly agree. We should treat fiction like the fiction it is, not like the reality claims that some religious say it is.

  182. Is the moral “you shouldn’t blame your children for mistakes made only because you neglected your duty to educate them”?

  183. The Genesis account of the formation of the world IS false, no “if”s there.

  184. The number of people who say they believe or are forced to say they believe may dwarf the population of Europe. But I have a bit more faith in the intelligence of the masses. Religions were invented to control people. If everyone had a choice then they would be long gone.

  185. I’m quite late to this conversation, generally I try to get my licks in early, that way I usually get the most intensive response, the parade may have passed me here. I think Mr. Gushee made some very good points with respect to the responses he received regarding his earlier commentary, but as usual I find points of disagreement. I agree with floydlee that words and deeds are complementary to one another in the advancement of the Gospel, unless one supposes that St. Paul was no polemicist.
    I agree that Triumphalism does no good service to the advance of the Gospel, but I reject the notion that active homosexuality can be reconciled with inclusive fellowship within the Church; without denying that other sins have been winked at by a complacent Church.
    The unassailability of the Gospel poses no problem at all; it will survive those that reject it however “reasonable” the opposing belief. I am somewhat weary of so called Christian teachers who find a need to apologize for the doctrine of exclusivity, though I agree that precept needs to be elucidated as graciously as may be done.
    As to Dark Heathenism, I think he has missed the boat, it appears to me that things are growing ever darker in that regard, but such darkness in the end cannot overcome the Light of the Gospel, even if only a few can grope through the darkness to find it.
    As to leaders God will provide them as He always has done.

  186. People who with a bible in one hand and a newspaper (iPhone, tablet) in the other, proclaim that we are in the end times confuse me too. We have been living in the end times since Jesus’ ascension.

  187. You obviously do not understand allegory. No big surprise.

    Also, the fact of a redeemer being a common allegory over centuries and cultures should suggest to you that it refers to an elemental truth, which is what an allegory does. Congrats, you just defeated your own argument.

    I love watching Atheists create nonsense, then argue against it, and finally defeat their own creation. It is just as entertaining as watching dog chase its own tail.

  188. Those are not the lessons the allegory is presenting. They are only the lessons that your literal and linear thinking creates.

  189. Atheists are illogical and factually impaired when it comes to religion. While logic will not get one to the core of religion or spirituality, pointing out the illogic of Atheists could convince them to change methodologies.

  190. I guess we have faith in different things. Thanks for your comments. Have a good day.

  191. So atheists are illogical because they apply logic to religion? I am not going to pretend that was supposed to make sense. But for certain believers, any dig at atheists is perfectly acceptable. Oh well.

    You don’t have a methodology. Its all stipulation, declaration, and expression of personal feelings.

  192. That was hardly an honest answer. Its simply reading the text as given.

    -Ignorance is preferable to knowledge. (Adam and Eve were cast out of the Garden of Eden for gaining knowledge)

    -Authority should never be questioned, no matter how arbitrary it seems to you. (Adam and Eve are punished for disobeying, “Do not eat the fruit of the tree of wisdom” but God never bothered to tell them why they shouldn’t have)

    -Collective guilt as a species for the acts of predecessors-Christian version only (Simply describing Original sin in its plainest form)

    The Bible is not a talisman and its words are not a magic spell. If you are getting anything beyond what the text is telling you, its in your head. Your personal belief. Nothing anyone else has to take seriously.

  193. Hint, you are treading water trying to handwave away simple readings of the text.

  194. And you say this on a device which was created using nothing but the logic and rational thoughts and methods you have been decrying.

    From here on in, I will communicate with you only in the methods you support most. Through prophesy, signs and portents.

  195. Atheists are illogical and/ factually wrong in their comments about religion. In addition, they are illogical in insisting that logic applies to an area beyond the limits of logic.

  196. In “simply reading the text as given” you are applying literalism to allegory. It is a mistake.

  197. “Simple readings” of scripture is just another way of advocating a literal reading of scripture when scripture is presented in figurative language. In repeating this error you committing the logical fallacy of argumentum ad nauseum whereby you believe that more times you repeat nonsense the more likely it is to magically become true. It doesn’t.

  198. Every thing in its place. Or, as Jesus said, “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and unto God the things that are God’s”. Two thousand years later you and the other Atheists still don’t get it.

  199. Why is “the good news on this front may be that the Christian Right has never looked weaker in the last 40 years”?

    Is it because you like socialism and using other people’s money to do God’s work, rather than the church?

  200. There was nothing literal about my take. It was entirely recognition of symbolism evoked by the text. Archetypes, tropes and subtext. You are making a patently false argument here. Even as symbolism, the Adam and Eve story has a reprehensible meaning to it.

  201. I see the main problem as Christians refusing to be / act like Christians.. I used to see them as the most loving, accepting , non-judgmental people I knew.. Today I see them as hateful, angry, and self-centered folks with more concern about how others act than themselves.

    They focus on violence and insist they need a side arm to protect themselves. They remove all power from their all mighty God and place it in their own hands.. Guns are necessary because God won’t protect them & they are afraid of heaven… The wrong politicians are elected because God does not have the power to influence voters… They are discriminated against because other people have rights too.. They spend most of their times shouting Kill Muslims; Kill Refugees; Promote ignorance; Stop the Gay’s; and Facts don’t matter. They believe in guilty until proven innocent with no way to prove innocence (sort like the witch trials)
    Just angry, pissed off people with little faith.

    No wonder people are leaving their ranks.

  202. That is a flat out lie on your part.

    I guess literary and symbolic readings are far too rational for your tastes. Allegorical readings are too literal for you.

    The problem is not that I am reading it as allegory. Instead I found a meaning to the allegory you didn’t feel comfortable with.

    Just because it is read symbolically doesn’t mean the message is automatically a good one. Literature is replete with symbolism where authors convey terrible messages. Even if intended to be beneficent.

  203. Probably not.. It is most likely because the Religious Right believes they are more powerful than their God… They put more trust and belief in their church dogma, guns & politicians, than in the beliefs themselves. Church has become an ego building activity.. They are right everyone else is wrong and their God is so weak, he depends on them to kill oppose views.

  204. While focusing on the “big picture” I am reminded of this: “We are all atheists about most of the gods that humanity has ever believed in. Some of us just go one god further.” Dawkins

  205. Religion Made Simple — Religion grew out of fear of the unknown, namely fear of natural phenomena and fear of death. In ancient times, there was no scientific understanding of the events in nature. Bad events, such as storms, earthquakes, crop failures and epidemics were attributed to supernatural deities, such as Ra, Zeus, or Apollo (just to use some Mediterranean world examples). When these events occurred, people assumed the gods must be angry. Out of this grew the pagan religions with their rituals and their organizations of priests who orchestrated ways to please the gods.

    Along a similar line, the fear of death led to a belief that an “afterlife” existed. Rather than accept physical death as the end of life, people prepared themselves and deceased relatives for perceived pleasures of the next life. For the well-to-do, especially rulers, this meant the building of elaborate tombs, the Pyramids of Egypt being of course a prime example. Most people were buried with more simple material goods.

    In the monotheistic religions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, there was one god responsible for all natural wonders and events. In these religions, unlike most of the earlier religions, there were two paths in the afterlife: one of eternal paradise, and the other of eternal torture and pain. So, the goal of pleasing the one god was not only meant to prevent natural calamities but also to insure that a person made it to the afterlife of eternal paradise.

    Today, the scientific understanding of events of nature has for the most part eclipsed the use of deities to explain unusual events. However, the fear of death and of the risk of eternal damnation in the afterlife ensures the continuation of religion.

    Religion, in other words, rests on superstition and ignorance. “Sacred” books, such as the Bible and Koran, are only books of fictional literature, like the Iliad and the Odyssey, and should be treated as such.

    So, why do I reject religion? Quite simply, where’s the proof that a supernatural deity exists? Without the proof, religion – along with its fears and desires to please the gods – crumbles like a house of cards.

    “There are no gods, no angels, no devils, no heaven or hell. There is only our natural world. Religion is but myth and superstition that hardens the hearts and enslaves minds.” — Robert Ingersoll

  206. I don’t think the people or the religion itself has changed. It has always been about hatred, fear, bigotry, and ignorance. What has changed is you, and the amount of scrutiny focused on the religion. They used to be much better at hiding their evil back before information flowed freely, back when they were given utmost respect by default. Now that we can see the rotten fruits they produce and the filthy parasites they encourage, they are losing everything they never deserved in the first place.

  207. The Bible is a dreadful book. No child should have to read it. Oh, all right, the Gospels are OK, Paul occasionally inspiring. But US Christianity prefers the vengeful Christ of the psychotic Revelation and refuse the well grounded historical limitations and allusions of this book. And what about the insane TV preachers and their constant dating of the world’s end, only to abandon all talk of their lack of truth in this matter. As for Christian behavior being the best argument for Christianity, please, it’s why most of us would actually like to see Christianity disappear. And what about Franklin Graham and his sanctimonious practice of witchcraft, “channeling” his dead father? And the Franklin’s nutty belief that government aid of any kind to the poor, and Social Security, are idolatrous and must be destroyed. The majority – and the growing part – of Christianity in the US is a a house of wackos.

  208. Atheism isn’t a cult. It has no dogma or tenets or rituals. It’s just an answer to a single question.

    Technically? Many buddhists qualify as atheists. And jews too. If you do not actively believe in a god, you’re an atheist.

  209. No, pretty sure it’s the doctors and duct tape holding me together.

    As for converting back? Not going to happen.
    1: i know the dirty secrets the church doesn’t like to talk about.
    2: the idea of the christian god is logically contradictory.
    3: I have no rulers or masters, why would I enslave myself to anything?
    4: I’m not a sinner because there is no such thing as sin.
    5: *if* despite all the evidence and reason to the contrary, your god is real and the bible is an accurate representation of it? I will face it fearlessly and demand it answer for its crimes against humanity.

  210. One of the main things that seems to be evolving (and perhaps only starting to be addressed) is a new view of God. In his book “Putting God Second”, Rabbi Donniell Hartman basically describes the Judaic God of the Bible as highly dualistic — at once loving yet also punishing and judgmental. Brain McLaren’s idea of God 5.0 addresses much the same issue. Both seem to suggest that we need to read the Bible in a new way — moving beyond the “tribal” view of God of the Hebrew Bible.

    That would be a powerful thing. If, for instance, we hold to the idea that we are created “in the image and likeness of God”, as long as God has punishing and judging characteristics, we can “justify” our similar behavior. But, if God is only loving, that shadow side of ourselves becomes less justifiable.

    The problem is that it is hard to “erase” or “write out” the “dark side” of God from a book that’s been around for 3 millennia…. Seems to me it is time for a “new edition” of the Bible — one that features a more natural (as opposed to supernatural) God …. a God that doesn’t play favorites … but has characteristics more akin to the robust, unpredictable, but still basically “all-providing” (despite all sorts of “natural disasters”), etc. As Joseph Campbell wrote a few decades ago, “All the Gods are dead — and the new ones haven’t been created yet!”. Perhaps it’s time for us to get real — and get creative!

  211. Baggage and problems such as? You don’t know what I believe. Just what I don’t.

    As for your ‘on fire’ christians, I’m not particularly worried about a vroup of ignorant suckers who were fooled into buying your snake oil. Give me 20 minutes with them face-to-face and I can douse their fires.

    Conviction and passion are not evidence. In fact, they’re functionally useless in any reasonable discussion.

  212. oh, that. The “evidence” that david actually existed.

  213. As a former Catholic and current atheist, I’m actually impressed by the first article and this follow up. A demonstrated ability at self reflection followed up by a willingness to listen and understand? That’s impressive and not seen enough in any field.

  214. so, in other words, let’s recreate god in our own image, since we botched the previous creation job.
    As for the OT god being at once loving and highly punishing? Plenty of evidence for the latter. just about none for the former.

  215. “Give away all that you have and follow me.”
    That damn socialist!

  216. Don’t forget Mother ‘Mass-Murder’ Theresaand her legion of slaughter-sisters.

  217. Actually, what I’m saying is that creating a God in the human image hasn’t worked out so well. So, it might be better to transcend humanity and look to nature itself for the characteristics that God seems to be expressing.

    As far as a loving God in the OT, I think there is a lot of evidence for that…. take, for instance, the Garden of Eden, the Rainbow Covenant, the still small voice, and many other stories. I find that when I move beyond reading the Bible literally to reading it metaphysically, there are many blessings to be found. Take, for example, the meaning of names and places as described in The Metaphysical Bible Dictionary. it identifies many of the positive (as well as the negative) meanings of Biblical persons and locations.

  218. “Now we have information about all of the world’s religions at the touch of our fingertips….The unassailability of our version of religion is harder to sustain when we encounter so many other reasonable people with so many other beliefs.”

    The birth of the printing press in the 1400s gave the lay people access to knowledge on a scale unimaginable in prior times. Before the printing press, the only way to copy a book was via handwriting, something that religious institutions had a near-monopoly on. The printing press made the Reformation and the Renaissance possible. It broke the stranglehold of the Roman Catholic Church on religion and science. Without it, Martin Luther might have suffered the same fate as earlier reformers, like Jan Hus, who was burned at the stake in 1415.

    The printing press was banned in the Ottoman Empire from 1483 until 1727 with limited exceptions for non-Arabic script. Even in Persia (Iran), the press didn’t arrive until 1820. As a result, the Middle East didn’t experience the massive explosion of debate in science and religion that was going on in Europe. Islamic religious authorities didn’t see their power challenged until fairly recent times. Even today, they still weld enough influence to keep the societies in the dark ages, especially in Saudi Arabia.

    Today, the internet has led to another revolution in the circulation of knowledge. Individuals only need access to a computer, tablet or smart phone, instead of a print shop or library, to access information. It’s causing even more headaches for religious authorities still trying to control their flocks.

  219. We tried that before. Zeus and Ra and Baba-Tiki the Volcano God didn’t really work out.

    I’d rather see us mover away from religion entirely. It serves no positive purpose anymore. Any fringe benefits it may carry with it can be better performed by non-sectarian groups. Hell, social media does a better job building community than any religion ever has.

  220. 1: we have no reason to believe Jesus ever existed, let alone ‘ascended’.

    2: what about the passage in the bible where Jesus claims the ‘end of the world’ would happen before the people listening to him that day died?

    Face facts: there will never be an ‘end time’ and the world is a pretty OK place.

  221. Or worse: when they claim to do good things, get people to donate resources in support of those things, then pretend to do them while actually causing harm.

  222. Nope. The problem is that you applied an interpretation that reflects your own bias and ignorance. There is nothing spiritual in your interpretation.

  223. Citing a confused but well-publicized Atheist is a logical mistake known as argumentum ad verecundiam.

  224. Flinging poo is not much of an argument. If you have an explanation which differs, it is encumbent on you to provide it. Otherwise, I couldn’t care what you have to say. You are just trolling otherwise.

    If you want spiritual here is one:

    I could not accept a loving and caring God who punishes people for acquiring knowledge, expects unquestioned compliance with authority without explanations or purpose, and punishes those not even born yet for the alleged transgressions of ancestors. Such a God would be deadening to the inquisitive and perceptive spirit of mankind.

    The Garden of Eden is a morally and spiritually dead place that was best to be left. A cage from which disobedience and thoughts were used to escape from. Christian notions of Original Sin are really Original Virtue. Akin to Prometheus’s punishment for giving mankind the inner spark of fire from the Gods. (One which he was freed from by his progeny).

    Why do you hate humanity so much?

  225. We lack talented, compelling Christian leaders is a crisis in the Church. Seminaries have curriculum that in no way prepares pastors for ministry. Yet, the non denominationals while growing have leadership that lacks basic pastoral skills. Its not uncommon for a large mega church to hire MDivs to help research sermons, and do basic pastoral counseling because the pastor lacks the skills. Mega church pastors will routinely hide their lack of pastoral skills in a large congregation. If you can never get to know the pastor you will never ask for minor things like pastoral couseling, marriage counseling, home visits etc.To these pastors that is for failing churches!!! OR is it simply that the “pastor” never learned the skills?
    Mainline pastors have routinely failed to provide a compelling vision that is communicated throughout the congregations and that relates to the actual community the congregation resides in. Denominations have failed to use media , let alone social media to effectively spread their mission. Many of these congregations are small but the infrastructure at the denominational level has not adjusted to meet this and as a result the pastors are pressured to support the general church to the detriment of the local church driving people away. In one extreme case the the third world is driving strategy in the US church and basically driving it into the ground. Seminary which no longer prepares for ministry is the albatross hanging around pastors necks. They need to pay their student loans which are insane and they need to feed their families so they compromise to survive. Its not that we lack talent we lack talent that is uncompromised by mammon or their bishop bosses.

  226. LOL! The “good fruit” argument of Christianity is completely negated by all the “bad” fruit: slavery, genocide, patriarchy, misogyny, rape, child abuse, and anti-LGBT teachings. Religion has decidedly done more harm than good in the world (see: The Dark Ages, the Crusades, Inquisitions, rampant child abuse, etc.). The only good “fruit” results from humans acting altruistically. If an altruistic person happens to be religious, it is by-in-large superfluous, because altruism is a human trait. You can wrap it in “religious inspiration” if you like, but it remains that altruism/empathy is a trait that most people have intrinsically (Christians/non-Christians/Atheists). No religion required.

  227. But the Elohim blamed Adam and Eve for mistakes they made only because the Elohim had neglected their duty as parents to educate their creation. That’s a fact. In your myth, the Elohim punished Adam and Eve for something that was the Elohim’s fault.

  228. Reason and science are tools to study reality. To know. To determine whether claims are true or not. If you claim that reason and science are methods that aren’t appropriate for religion, you claim that religion isn’t related to reality.
    Which is something everybody knew already, but that’s beside the point.

  229. The Christian preachers in the public arena place a lot of emphasis on “repent – the end is near” instead of do unto others as you would have them do unto you, love thy neighbor, and (the right wingers hate this one) judge not lest ye be judged. They want to use government to propagate their beliefs and protect the “privileged” status of their religion. They yearn for the days of mandatory school prayer and bible readings, when LGBT individuals stayed in the closet, and non-Christians just kept quite.

    Gandhi once said that he liked Christ but didn’t like Christianity.

    I grew up as a Lutheran. Now, thanks to science, I’m an atheist. Fortunately, there wasn’t much fire-and-brimstone preaching in my church.

    P.S. Franklin Graham’s father, Billy Graham, is still alive at the age of 97. But I don’t recall his father being half the hatemonger Franklin is.

  230. Yada yada yada. What Christians ALWAYS ignore is the massive leap from theism (“there is a god of some sort”) to worshiping a dead Jewish chap as a man-god. Many of the Founders were Deists who detested Christianity and viewed it as pagan. But they weren’t atheists.

  231. “How do we cultivate authoritative, compelling leaders, people who are neither timid time-servers nor authoritarian demagogues?” – You can’t. Religion is authoritarian by definition. You get in line and do EXACTLY as you’re told or depart into everlasting fire. Oh, and you must LOVE the one holding damnation over your head.

  232. Please pay attention!!
    The Bible states that the real warfare is not early but in heavenly places..
    The Bible states that the devil goes around seeking to mess up God’s plans, and attempts to sway people and nations the same way he did in the garden.. temptation to do things without thinking about God first..
    Simply removing things like the 10 commandments from being shown, removing Bibles from everywhere, promogating “if it feels good or tastes good do it, no one’s looking.
    Removing the the ideas of God, marriage between man and woman, the “Shall Nots ” abortion, putting man’s laws before God’s laws, all have man kind to no longer feel guilty because ” every one’s doing it.
    Dullness of clear thinking , I me Mine takes over and God is pushed out of everyday thinking.
    Mankind who do not worship God and His Son Jesus will face a fearful future in my opinion.
    Jesus is coming back for His.
    For some a wonderful happy event.
    For others, a day of recogning.

  233. There is NOTHING wrong with the world, ONLY the people in it.
    People need what David prayed to God in the psalms…
    CREATE IN ME A NEW HEART AND A NEW SPIRIT!!

  234. The predominance of the Christian faith is/was an anomaly that America has been blessed with until recent generations. That time is coming to an end, in my opinion. Just as the Israelites abandoned God many times in their history, most Americans are doing the same. Yes, the church has made many mistakes…sometimes lacking grace, sometimes becoming ‘soft’ or even rejecting important truths about God. But our culture outside the church has embraced the contemporary enemies of faith…secularism and post-modernism. For post-modern Americans, who maintain there is no ultimate truth, the claims of Biblical accuracy are far-fetched at best. For the secular humanist Americans, relying on ancient texts for truth is absurd.

    However, we Christians should know that we will be a minority in this world. The gate is narrow…the way is difficult, and few find it. The world will know we follow Christ, ultimately, by our love for each other…not our flashy churches, or charismatic speakers, or our ability to mesh faith and science. Paul said that some want miracles, others want knowledge…but the truth is in Jesus Christ. But following Jesus is not an attractive proposition for a people bent on living according to their own rules and fulfilling their own desires…in a place and time where everyone does what is right in their own eyes.

  235. Ed, secularism is hardwired into the American system. When our system strays from secular notions, it is always a bad thing. It means sectarian discrimination has occurred.

    To decry secularism is to say that you do not appreciate or value religious freedom. That you want you religion to dominate our government and those of your faith to be granted some privileged status over others. There is nothing more Un-American than such beliefs. It speaks badly for your version of Christianity.(There are plenty of sects which do not have your animosity to religious freedom)

  236. I am not sure if Society of Friends (Quakers) believe that. But they also don’t have centralized leaders either.

  237. Spuddie, I would respectfully disagree with you. Secularism, often referred to as Secular Humanism is the belief that accumulated human wisdom supercedes any imagined eternal principals. Also, secularists believe that, as human wisdom changes with time, thus the concepts of ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ change with time. Thus, things we might value as ‘good’ today, in the humanist mind, might be ‘bad’ in the future. Today, secular humanists in America might generally agree that ‘freedom of thought’, ‘truth’ and ‘fairness’ are all virtuous. But devout secular humanists in other places and other times might determine that human understanding has ‘evolved’ and the revised virtues are ‘forced unity’, ‘slavery’ and ‘execution of those who descent’ are the best rules for their new, enlightened society. Those people would be just as ‘secular’ as well-meaning secular folks today.

    Secularism generally puts all control in the hands of an ‘elite’ who are charged with making the rules and disciplining the ‘unenlightened’. It’s no wonder that totalitarians often embrace a secular worldview, which gives the most power to those who can shape opinions by any means necessary. It’s also unsurprising that secularists often despise religions because their consistent value system is a threat to an ever-changing model of thinking.

    People with a Christian world-view (which is NOT everyone who claims to be a ‘Christian’), would argue that truth, fairness, charity, forgiveness, and respect for others are eternal virtues and are not changed by human decisions or cultural trends. For a Christian, stealing, lying, cheating, murder will always be wrong. A secularist has no assurance of any permanent values.

  238. You are grossly misrepresenting secularism and humanism entirely. This is typical of believers, especially those of a Fundamentalist Christian bent when describing beliefs that are not their own. First of all secularism is not atheism. It simply means not referenced to any specific faith or sect. Secularism is meant to protect religious beliefs from both dominant religious groups and its own excesses. Typically secularist notions embrace all faiths, or none. The idea is not to show favoritism to any given religious belief.

    “thus the concepts of ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ change with time. ”

    This is a complete and total fiction! Secular concepts of right and wrong are based on something other than adherence to unquestioned authority and arbitrary rules. They are based on how one’s actions impact others.

    Religious arguments against secular morality always pretend religious notions are unchanging and accuse others of being “relativistic”. Truth of the matter is the opposite. Religious morality is slippery and relativistic as it comes. Any act is justified if one claims it is God’s word, no matter how harmful or repugnant it may be. One supports their claims through proof-texting rather than weighing one’s actions against its effects. Worst of all, especially with Christian notions of morality, it is based on self-interest. Divine punishment or reward guiding actions. Sociopathy on a divine leash.

    “But devout secular humanists in other places and other times might determine that human understanding has ‘evolved’ and the revised virtues are ‘forced unity’, ‘slavery’ and ‘execution of those who descent’ are the best rules for their new, enlightened society”

    Actually you are describing how religious tropes become adopted by Communist autocrats. Not secular in any sense. Think 1st Amendment religious rights instead.

    “People with a Christian world-view (which is NOT everyone who claims to be a ‘Christian’), would argue that truth, fairness, charity, forgiveness, and respect for others are eternal virtues and are not changed by human decisions or cultural trends. For a Christian, stealing, lying, cheating, murder will always be wrong”

    Actually none of that is true.

    People use “Christian world-views” to justify lying, cheating, indifference to the poor, malice. Stealing, lying cheating and murder is always OK if one is doing it on God’s command. As he has done on numerous occasions. You still have preachers calling for murder of certain people, abusing their flock with impunity and grifting them on a regular basis. All claiming it is in the interests of Christian morality.

    If our nation was run on “Christian principles and religious concepts” it would be a dictatorship. It would be exactly the kind of sectarian discriminatory state our Founders wanted to avoid creating at all costs.

    If you really want to see a declaration of secular moral principles read the link below. But I doubt you will.
    http://americanhumanist.org/humanism/humanist_manifesto_iii

  239. “It seems as if the burden of proof is shifting, from defending disbelief to defending belief.”

    The burden of proof is always with the claimant. Doubters have no obligation to disprove the Leprechaun living in my pants; the assertion is mine to demonstrate.

    [ Note: Anybody wishing for proof of my claim must buy me a beer, first… ]

  240. One “fruit” could be the charity wherein a small fraction of the collection plate helps the needy. Such charity isn’t unique to religion. Another claimed “fruit” would be that it makes you a better person. Science is having a very, very difficult time detecting evidence of this “fruit.” Good people will do good and bad people will do evil. Religion doesn’t seem to have any positive effect on the ratio of good/bad people. Instead studies find a slight negative correlation between religion and societal health, and yet this is the biggest claim made by religions i.e. it makes it’s followers better people.

    Of course, the “fruits” of religion have no bearing on the actual truth of the underlying principals and can’t logically be applied to defending or attacking those principals.

  241. Sure anecdotal evidence is a type of evidence. It’s called bad evidence that cannot be used to establish a conclusion.

  242. That’s what I thought. This follow-up is a recognition of the valid arguments presented in the initial article. My congratulations to the author as well.

  243. Atheists certainly do have the burden of proof to show with facts and reason why God does not exist.

    Public school education is making people stupid.

  244. Its not wrong by atheism to lie. Atheism cannot show why anything is evil.

  245. What is not impressive is your embracing of atheism. Did you really study what atheism claims without any facts for it?

  246. One needn’t assert that gods do NOT exist to be unconvinced that they DO.

    If you claim a god exists, it’s your task to prove it, not ours to disprove…

  247. Only if atheists make the claim that God does not exist. But no, that is the theists claiming that atheists state that God does not exist.

  248. Personally, I would prefer to live life according to my own desires, not based upon your beliefs about your interpretations of your holy book– in other word, I am not about to live my life according to YOUR rules for it.

    If only you so called Christians were actually content to be a minority in this world, and live your lives according to your faith. If only you actually believed “blessed are those who are persecuted for my name’s sake.”

    But you are not and you don’t.

  249. A whole lot of straw men, enough for the entire state Of Kansas and then some.

    But your last paragraph says what this is really about: the True Christians vs. The Not True Christians, the Elect vs. The Merely Human.

    I have permanent values. But Christians, who no longer burn witches and heretics, don’t really seem to at all.

  250. In your imagination only. Which proves spuddie’s points.

  251. I like this starting paragraph that is just an opinion that no one has to follow:
    “Humanism is a progressive philosophy of life that, without supernaturalism, affirms our ability and responsibility to lead ethical lives of personal fulfillment that aspire to the greater good of humanity.”

  252. I am an atheist. I believe lying is wrong. I have always believed it, I will always believe it. There you go.

    Now, let’s go back into your comment history to show how many times you have lied about gay people. LEt’s show also Patty Robertson’s comments that gay people have special rings to cut people and give them AIDS. Patty is a moralist and Christian crusader. Obviously, he thinks lying is ok.

  253. Says you!

    I see more “truth bending” and outright fibbery done in the name of the Lord than I have ever seen from atheists around here.

    “Atheism cannot show why anything is evil.”

    Because it is impossible to show something is wrong unless you have unquestioned arbitrary authority to tell you so? Of course you are dead wrong here.

    I will entertain your trollery on this just once. Evil are acts which are both malicious and harmful to others. Ones which disregard the sanctity and preciousness of life. Evil is deliberate harm to others serving purely hateful motives. One judges actions and its effects.

    I believe firmly especially as an atheist that evil exists and don’t need religion to point that out to me. In fact religion is great for making excuses and justifying evil acts. Anything is permitted if you say God gave approval.

  254. “just an opinion that no one has to follow”

    The idea that anyone’s opinion is compelled is not the most moral concept out there. Morals compelled by force or coercion are not morals. They are simply following orders out of self-preservation.

    With or without religion you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion.
    -Steven Weinberg physicist

    http://www.physlink.com/Education/essay_weinberg.cfm

  255. Ben…do you really believe those who burned witches and heretics were true Christians? Is that what Jesus taught his followers to do? Or were those evil doers claiming to be Christians, when in fact they were not? Should Christians be known by their fruit/deeds, or what they call themselves?

  256. Yes. They said they were. It was the official church, after all.
    No. But when has that ever stopped them?
    Yes they did, and yes they were.
    Yes they are, and yes they are.
    In short, “the no true christian” fallacy is NOT a defense. It’s an indictment.

  257. “I like this starting paragraph that is just an opinion that no one has to follow”
    You said it. Not us.

  258. So then, if some group claims to be followers of ‘Ben in Oakland’, and do things that are completely against your teaching and beliefs…things you would argue against….let’s say rape, murder, arson, child abuse, etc. Let’s say they even gather some sort of official legitimacy…recognized by worldly authorities and given a legal jurisdiction somewhere.

    Using your logic, I would be justified in condemning ALL ‘followers of Ben’ and ‘the beliefs/religion of Ben’ based on what some so-called followers of Ben did. Right?

  259. No, that would be called bigotry, and religious bigotry at that.
    Try again.

  260. Well, it all depends whether you’re cute, the leprechaun is cute, whether you’re both into three ways, and if you won’t tell my husband.

  261. “…it all depends whether you’re cute…”

    In that case, you’ll probably need a beer or two yourself…

  262. Correct…that would be wrong of me. Now suppose there is another group of Ben-followers, let’s call them the Benjamites. These Benjamites closely follow your teachings, perhaps fairness, respect for others, showing integrity, etc.

    Both groups claim to be Ben followers, but only one group is truly committed to your principles. I would need to conclude that those in the second group are truly followers of Ben, and the first group are not what they claim to be.

    There are true Christians….I know many of them…they are not perfect people but their priorities and principles are aligned with the teachings of Christ. Unfortunately, many in the non-religious community seem to believe that anyone (or group) who claims to be Christian really is a Christian.

  263. Without no enforcement of a moral code its ineffective. This is why Christianity is much more effective than atheism or humanism. God will hold all men accountable to His moral code.

  264. You mistake a moral code for a legal one. A moral code is what we carry inside ourselves to guide our actions. It is enforced by our actions. If your moral thinking is informed by worries of punishment or reward, you are not using morals at all. Merely variations of self-preservation instinct. Morals are enforced by one’s conscience.

    If they have to be enforced from outside parties, you are essentially saying you are a sociopath. That you would do evil acts unless restrained because you lack the connection to fellow human beings and a conscience which would hold you back. Your argument makes terrible implications about religious belief that I don’t believe you want to convey.

    You know as well as I do that moral actions typically involve actions which won’t necessarily benefit the actor. In many cases acting moral means giving up potential benefit in exchange for doing what is right.

    What you describe is precisely why Christians can easily use their religion justify reprehensible behavior. That one only justifies their actions in light of (what they claim is) God’s word but not to the people their actions affect. There is nothing effective about such slippery morality.

  265. 😀 no, lets work the “starving artist” angle, Ben will be even more productive sans the money!

  266. JP…I think see your point, but I think Ben might have missed it. Any atheist can believe lying to be wrong OR right. Atheism says there is no God, thus the concept of right or wrong must come from some other source….usually the atheist himself…which is why Ben stated HIS view about lying. Other atheists would argue that lying is okay is some circumstances…like during political campaigns, or to achieve an important goal or result.

    Regardless, there can be atheists that believe any behavior (lying, cheating, murder, rape , child abuse) is good or bad….their moral beliefs do not affect their atheistic worldview.

    On the other hand, Christians cannot believe lying, cheating, murder, rape and child abuse are acceptable without stepping outside of their faith.

  267. You don’t have to disprove God does not exist but give reasons why He cannot exist. For example, what facts have you shown that no god could it exist? Have you refuted with facts the arguments for the existence of God? If so, what facts did you use?

  268. Good points. The atheist can never prove by his atheism that any action is evil or good. This puts them in a predicament because they know there is good and evil. They have to deny their atheism to believe so. Atheism is unlivable and contradictory.

  269. You can never show by atheism that lying is wrong. You can say but never prove it so via atheism.

    I have never lied about homosexuals but have warned them.

  270. “…give reasons why He cannot exist.”

    Again, I’ve not asserted god[s] cannot exist. I’m merely unconvinced that they DO.

    I would, however, be very interested in what evidence would convince you that there were no gods…

  271. People usually live according to their worldview. Atheism is part of some worldviews, but the belief of ‘no God’ makes necessary other constructs which divide atheists into many camps. Thus, one might argue J. Stalin’s killing of millions was in-line with his atheism, while other authentic atheists might be complete pacifists. You are right, atheism simply does not offer any guidance on matters of good and evil.

  272. You subjective feelings about something are irrelevant to the issue. God either exist or not. The answer to that question has nothing to do with your feelings.

  273. I haven’t introduced feelings into the discussion, either. Are you certain you’re hitting the right “Reply” link[s]?

    If you have objective empirical evidence to substantiate any god claim[s] I’d be delighted to consider it…

  274. If I eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, it provides the same health benefits whether it says it in the Bible or it is just part of my cultural heritage. Whether the Bible is fact or fiction, living a life of loving and giving has the same rewards, and I see it in my children as an atheist. I know the story of Christmas is fantasy, but it is still a great way to celebrate the darkest days of winter, which was done in the Roman Empire (the celebration of the winter solstice) long before the birth of Jesus.

  275. Since you have not given any facts for being unconvinced nor any factual arguments for your position then you must only feel God does not exist. Its your preference like your favorite flavor of ice cream.

  276. Everyone worries about breaking the law. That’s why people don’t.
    Its irrelevant to a moral code if there is rewards or punishments. Something can be good or evil without that. Rewards and punishments enforce the moral law.

    For the atheist and humanist there is no compelling reasons to follow their moral codes because there is no way to enforce them. There is no moral force to them. You can take it or leave it.

    For the Christian and anyone else who violates God’s law will face the Judgement for doing so.

  277. “…you have not given any facts for being unconvinced…”

    Insofar as it’s a fact that I AM unconvinced, this is another bizarre assertion. I fear you’re conflating subjective evaluation with objective and demonstrable facts. Do you want the reason THAT I’m unconvinced? Easy: The arguments for god[s] have been unconvincing.

    I’m also unconvinced that there is a Loch Ness monster. If I give you no “facts for being unconvinced” that there’s a living Scottish plesiosaur, is that proof there IS one?

    I’m equally unconvinced that 2 + 2 = potato. My reasons are that the empirical evidence for 2 + 2 being 4 is demonstrable, verifiable, falsifiable, and replicable, whereas similarly compelling arguments for the “potato” conclusion are not forthcoming.

    Sorry, potatoists…

  278. “Everyone worries about breaking the law. That’s why people don’t.”

    I don’t commit murder, rape and theft because they are not good things to do. Whether illegal or not. They are just wrong.

    You really don’t want to go down this route if you want to demonstrate some kind of notion of morality. Your remarks tell me more about your own possible disregard for others and perhaps a level of sociopathy. That is not a good argument to make on behalf of defending your religion and attacking beliefs of others

    “For the atheist and humanist there is no compelling reasons to follow
    their moral codes because there is no way to enforce them. There is no
    moral force to them. You can take it or leave it.”

    Other than the idea that you don’t harm people out of malicious reasons!
    That you don’t want such bad behavior returned to you in kind!

    You really have no conception of the conscience, nor have any regard for your fellow people!

    Even the most basic notion of reciprocity informs such things. The Golden Rule is not just a religious slogan. Its a basic notion of human behavior regardless of notions of divine punishment or reward common to all societies. People don’t like to be harmed and are likely to do the same to those who harm them. Added to that basic empathy humans who are not sociopaths have. One can imagine what it is like to be on the receiving end of harm, therefore one doesn’t want to do it to others.

    You are positing that Christians are all sociopaths who would run amok if not held tightly by divine leashes. That is a horrific impression to make! A great way to turn people away from religious belief.

    You can do better. That is if you weren’t being so arrogant, dishonest and eager to prove alleged moral superiority to those who do not believe as you do.

    ….
    Btw eternal heaven and hell are purely Christian concepts. Jews, Muslims and every other faith get along just fine without having eternal punishment or reward hanging over them for their actions. By all means make a silly statement that they have no concept of morality.

  279. Caveat: I have also seen the term “anti-theist” to refer to those atheists who are actively seeking the eradication of religion and the deconversion of adherents. This is as opposed to those atheists who are more interested in secular laws and society, but let religion and its adherents alone. Truthfully, I don’t know how well a lot of these terms are defined with everyone agreeing to their definition.

  280. 42% is not a ‘minor’ amount, Numbnutz.
    Thanks for playing.

  281. I believe you wished to address that comment to someone else.
    If for no other reason, my nutz are not numb.

  282. Those would be anti-theists. I simply don’t care about what other people believe, in keeping with my idea that the basis of civilized society is to leave everyone the hell alone. I care about what they do. That practically makes me a Christian.

  283. I don’t believe black holes exist. That must mean they don’t exist.

  284. Floyd, of course it’s not going to be in the Hebrew canon. However, there is solid evidence that pre-Babylonian exile, the Israelites were monolatric, i.e. they worshipped one god without denying the existence of others. Perhaps the most striking evidence is a 8th century BCE jar found in the Sinai wilderness with the inscription “To Yahweh… and his Asherah.” The Bible comes out strong, as you know, against any worship of “other gods.” The Israelites are commanded specifically to strike down and not set up any Asherah worship poles. There’s a reason for this.

  285. Murder and rape are not evil by atheism nor humanism. You can say they are but never prove by atheism or humanism that they are. They may be wrong for you but for someone else they may not be.

    There is nothing in your genes or atoms that makes up your body that has anything to do with the Golden Rule.

    So what people don’t like to be harmed. You may not like it but that doesn’t mean its evil for everyone.

    The problem you have is that you have no foundation for your morality. Its all preference based as all moral codes are that reject God as the foundation for morality.

    Jesus spoke more about hell and heaven than anyone else in Scripture. He warned those that sin that it would be better to cut your right hand off and gouge your right eye out if it causes you to sin because your sin will condemn you to hell forever.

  286. Says you!

    Why don’t you stop pretending to know anything about atheists and humanists, making defamatory remarks about what they believe, and actually find these things out.

    You make stuff up about them in a feeble attempt to feel superior. Plus your posts show a deeply immoral mindset for Christians like yourself. The more you write, the less moral you appear. If you need God to tell you harming people is wrong, under penalty from above, you are a terrible person with no sense of humanity.

    Since you have no interest in understanding another point of view and insist on lying about them, there is no point in going further. You are just trolling. Dishonesty and malicious conduct for the Lord isn’t moral conduct. But you insist on doing so. You are not a moral person nor can you presume to discuss the subject with anyone who understands it.

    I don’t make up stuff about your beliefs. You could not be bothered to return the courtesy. So go eff yourself.

  287. Don’t need to pretend about atheism and humanism. Its quite easy to see the implications and weaknesses of both systems. I’m just pointing that out to you and its not immoral to do this because its true. This has nothing to do with my feelings.

  288. I am sure you scored points at church with this reply but a few sad things come to mind.

    1) Did you even hear what Rational Life said? it’s like you have a tape that plays when your illusions get challenged. He counted critical horrors perpetuated by religion. you went la-la and pretended they weren’t said.

    2) “There is NOTHING wrong with the world, ONLY the people in it.” – yea yea, except that people are in the world, see? There’s no “world” sterile of people. We are not separate and it does not run beside us. there is nothing wrong with coffee except all that water in it. There is nothing wrong with Washington DC and politics, its all those people in it. these are not things you can separate.

    3) your god was supposed to make people – so the world is perfect in all it is BUT we’re a hopeless screwup? god has a flawless warranty on the rest of the place, but we’re required to fix our manufacturer’s defects on our own? god made life here for millions of years and really didn’t care if it ate each other and did nothing but poop and roar, but we’re in trouble and will be tortured forever if we touch our junk wrongly?

    I do not expect you to answer these questions. I expect you to look at them and wonder how such nonsense came out of your head without you noticing.

    You resort to David, someone of no blood relation to you, singing psalms,

    This is the actual function of a delusion. This isn’t name-calling, its concern.

    Erik

  289. No, it only means you’re unconvinced that they do. Likewise, I don’t believe the case has been made that god[s] exist.

    You’re quite justified in demanding from any astrologer proposing the existence of black holes their evidence for such. Just as I am justified in asking you to substantiate any god claim[s] you might make…

  290. Wearing my other hat – You can do this, but in bringing compelling questions and ways for a seeker to engage in their own relationship with god. The seeker in the end has to his/her own work.

    Sadly the current economic model of Christianity is have a building, sell fear, offer a spurious solution to that fear, and repeat. As a priest of Thor, that’s how I do it. I also rarely sell.

  291. Astrologers don’t say anything about black but astrophysicists do. So when I tell them that I don’t believe black holes exist then they are wrong. They don’t exist.

  292. That is a complete hustle. To believe in god in the christian context involves us to take as given a number of invisible objects. Soul, Demon, devil, afterlife, sin, judgement, all of which are completely invisible if you ask me to believe in invisible things, I’m going to ask you to prove they are there. You don’t get to look at me and ask me to prove they aint. You want my bucks in your collection plate? get proving.

  293. [Good catch! I’ma leave the typo to embarrass myself into never doing that again.]

    Again, you’re free to argue for the non-existence of black holes with whomever you’d like.

    If you’d ever care to discuss whether and/or why you entertain the notion of god[s], I’m all ears…

  294. Tricky
    A BRIEF HISTORY OF TIME – Hawking

    I will plead guilty to “picking at it.” The pre Big Bang in amazingly difficult to fathom. I will agree that you are correct. The initial singularity is “something” but with time equaling zero, infinitely hot (hawking pg117) infinite gravity and strangely energy equalling zero (all negatives and positives in sum = 0 ) This is so close to “nothing” that there are no observers.

  295. You are just lying for the sake of self aggrandizement. Where do you get this garbage from? You aren’t pointing out anything. You are making stuff up. Nasty defamatory things.

    You obviously didn’t bother to ask atheists or humanist what they believe or read anything they write on the subject. You just go with the defamatory nonsense people tell you about atheists from your preachers and whatnot.

    You are full of it! I don’t make up stuff about what you believe, but you felt the need to lie about what I believe. That is immoral and dishonest.

    You have no morality. As long as you’re stumping for God, obviously any untruth is acceptable. Any malicious aspersions can be cast. You are a perfect example of how religion promotes sociopathic behavior. I have further nothing to say to you. Your posts are dishonest nonsense. Good evening.

  296. Well you did your due and told us all about it.

    We won’t bother you about that Devil being pesky and one of god’s own creations – he shoulda made something else like the cow-snake that day. We wont bother you that all the real warfare being in heavenly places, far far from any witnesses, so its a made up fable.

    Christian commentator Lew Rockwell said ” suppose that the federal government posted the Ten Commandments in
    every federal courthouse and mandated that all states and counties post
    the Ten Commandments in their courthouses. That is exactly what most of
    the above people want, isn’t it? Would posting the Ten Commandments be a
    sign to the world that America is a godly nation? Would posting the Ten
    Commandments be a signal to God that America is a Christian nation?
    Would posting the Ten Commandments mean that America as a nation was
    honoring God? Would posting the Ten Commandments mean that America as a
    nation was giving God the glory due his name? Would posting the Ten
    Commandments mean signify that America was a land of virtue, decency,
    morality, and religion? Would posting the Ten Commandments mean that
    justice was actually taking place in U.S. courtrooms? I suspect that the
    posting of the Ten Commandments in every courthouse would simply
    deceive dumb, ignorant, easily manipulated, easily deceived God and
    country Christians into thinking that these things were true.”

    Jesus is coming back? Based on what? People do that? Your god needs to be complimented and worshiped all the time? He’s that insecure? We’re going to face a fearful future? Most definitely! But probably from ISOL, Trump, and the next super-plague, not some eternal torture chamber we get thrown in for jerking off to porn. If god made my arms to hang at crotch length and didn’t want me to touch it, he’s got a sick sense of humor. Next thing you’ll be saying is licking my teeth will be bad.

    The worrisome thing is that you just spouted all that nonsense and didn’t notice it was nonsense.

  297. I’m on the edge of my seat. What’s THE most compelling evidence for God you have…?

  298. Creation and the life of Christ.

    BTW- you know God exist but suppress that knowledge. He has written it on your mind.

  299. I’m happy to start with the first

    What do you mean by “Creation”, and how is it compelling evidence for a god…?

  300. Your making more acertions about persons and events that you admittedly have absolutely no creditable knowledge of what so ever .!
    I have a relationship with God. He dwells inside me, my heart, my spirit.
    You have proven that this has not happened in your life.
    Yet you offer no proof that my assertion about God’s ability to change me, to adopt me into His family is not real.
    So I will ask you one last question..
    Do you deny the existence of God ?

  301. Try reading Lee Stowell case for Christ. He has written a few books on the existence of God

  302. If you think the universe came from nothing, why do you need to invoke a creator…?

  303. What is, to you, the most compelling argument you’ve culled from Mr. Stowell’s work…?

  304. Well said – and yes, i do not know your personal relationship with the gods. I don’t think i need any special education and information to reject your fearful future and the placement of my junk at hand’s length. of course i have no knowledge of the wars in heaven – and neither do you. No one does, no one can witness this, its a line in a book that you take to be word of your god and I know is an agglomeration of essays written for and edited by old time political forces.

    I am not buying your fear. I am not believing in it.

    I don;’t believe magic tricks with water and wine make someone a god.

    You said, “The Bible states that the real warfare is not early but in heavenly places.” And the Lord of the Rings warns us about the evils of Mordor. You give us this brainless warning about invisible things that we should care about and want to be treated like you’re sane. I work in reality, you work in…something else, proudly. What education do i need to reject something as crazy as that?

    “Jesus is coming back for His.
    For some a wonderful happy event.
    For others, a day of recogning.”
    …see? this is meaningless in reality. Jesus died. He’s gone and dust.

    In all truth, i am pleased you have a vibrant relationship with god and hope it moves you to build the world. I am thrilled god has changed you. but he might install some interest in the real world. Whether i deny the existence in god is really not your business. I’m not selling it.

  305. Because nothing, no thing can create anything let alone a universe.

  306. PSSSt. Even as an exercise, it’s kinda black-holish to argue with him. Nothing, not even light, escapes.

  307. “You can do better.”

    Ummm, no he can’t. Someone who makes a nonsensical statement like “murder and rape are not evil by atheism or humanism” is someone who long ago left sense.

  308. “Any atheist can believe lying to be wrong OR right.”

    As can any Christian. Witness pat robertsons remark about special rings,capita Bryant’s claims about divorce right before she got divorced, Ted haggard so avowal that he was straight when he clearly was not. All believers. All lyin’ for the lord.

    As does JP. as do you,

  309. He can’t obviously. But there are far better arguments for religious moral concepts that don’t make you sound like a socioopath. But of course if one is a sociopath, it tough to come up with them.

  310. I like to give everybody the benefit of the doubt.

    And even playing tennis against a wall improves your game…

  311. Just so I’m clear, is it your position that:

    a) Everything requires a cause;
    …or that…
    b) Something can exist without a cause

    …?

  312. If that is the case why hasn’t any atheist proved the statement wrong? The fact is that the atheist can’t.

  313. Cool. So is it your position that:

    a) Something can exist in perpetuity;
    …or that…
    b) Nothing can exist in perpetuity

    …?

  314. If there ever was a time when nothing was the state of affairs there would be no universe today or ever.

  315. Yes and that something is God because only God can create and cause things to happen.

  316. So something (in your assertion, God) actually CAN exist without requiring a creator…?

  317. Yes. God is a necessary being that must exist for anything else to exist.

  318. So is it fair to summarize your position[s] as:

    Things that exist require a cause.
    God exists.
    But God did not require a cause.
    So not everything that exists required a cause.
    Thus God is the exception to “Things that exist require a cause.”

    …?

  319. Not quite. Whatever begins to exist requires a cause. God has always existed so He doesn’t require a cause.

  320. So hypothetically, if the matter/energy of the universe has always existed it wouldn’t require a cause either…?

  321. Yes.
    What is the proof that matter/energy has always existed?
    Nothing in our universe is older than 14 billion years.

  322. I’ve not made that assertion. I said “hypothetically”. And I addressed the matter/energy of the universe, not the universe itself (lest we confuse the seed for the tree).

    If matter/energy can neither be created nor destroyed then we’d seem to agree that it’s possible for it to exist without a creator, no…?

  323. All matter and energy came into existence at the big bang. It didn’t exist before that.

  324. Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country actually did very well at the box office and critically. It was nominated for two Academy Awards, and won a Saturn for Best Science Fiction Film, the only Star Trek movie to get one. V, on the other hand, is considered by fans and critics to be one of if not the worst in the franchise. In fact according to producers it almost killed the franchise altogether.

  325. The conflict between science and Christianity is more than just “perceived”. Science has conclusively demonstrated there were no Adam and Eve, and, thus, no Original Sin. It has shown there was no Flood and no Exodus. It has shown Jesus’ claim that demons cause disease is nonsense. Etc, etc, etc.

    All told it has exposed the Bible as a book of falsehoods.

  326. Shifting burdens of proof much?

    How about the lack of evidence for their existence. Nobody has to assume they existed. Couple that the plethora of evidence of similar stories which predate the Biblical version from the same region of the world.

    One does not have to disprove Adam and Eve when there is no reason to believe the story is anything more than allegory.

    Please by all means, make the silly claim that Genesis 1 needs to be accepted as objectively credible evidence. I need a good laugh.

  327. Sorry, that’s off-topic anyway.

    I’m happy to pursue the “universe must have been caused” route.

    How do we know it was that specific god (specifically, Yahweh, since I think you referenced His kid earlier) and not any of the other purported creator Gods, or an advanced alien life form or, for that matter, natural causation…?

  328. The claim was made that Adam did not exist. He bears the burden of proof to show that with facts.

  329. Genetics, archeology, linguistics all demonstrate Adam and Eve are a fiction.

  330. The only way we could know this is by revelation. The God of the Bible claims to have created the universe. This God appeared in history. Christ who was God in the flesh agreed with this.

  331. Your evidence of God is that He has revealed Himself to you…?

  332. No. I see evidence in creation, in this world, in my hands, in my life and in the Scriptures.

  333. How so?
    How does genetics and archaeology prove who were the first human beings? How do rocks and bones prove something like this from thousands of years ago?

    What makes you think they got it right?

  334. Proof something didn’t exist is easy. Its nothing. There, done!

    What do you base his existence on? Nothing. Figurative literature. Adam has as much of an existence as Little Red Riding Hood and Superman. Prove Little Red Riding Hood didn’t exist.

  335. Nope. But I believe you don’t understand the Theory of Evolution.

  336. Calling it “creation” begs the question by presupposing a creator.

    How do we demonstrate that all of existence is a supernatural creation and not simply (like so many other things we observe) merely a natural phenomenon…?

  337. Now you’re just being mean! But funny.

    Well not actually mean. But funny

  338. Ben….I think we might have different definition of what a Christian is, as I tried to explain to you recently. You seem to believe anyone who says they are a Christian really is a Christian. The Bible is quite clear that is not the case. Reading the book of 1 John might clear things up for you.

  339. The brother and brother in law of my mother and my father’s brother.

  340. Not at all. Well, we do have a different definition of what a Christian is, but As I said, it’s just more flinging of theo-poo by True Christians (TM) at Not True Christians.

    I know this will be hard for you to understand, but all that you are demonstrating is that religion does not give people morals, and that morality does not guide religious people.

    They say they are Christians. They profess Jesus as their lord and savior who died for their sins. They go to church as often as they go, sometimes three times a week. They worship Jesus and god. They justify the harm they do to other people as “sincere religious belief.” Many wear crucifixes to demonstrate how jesusy they are. They remonstrate against others for not being Christians.(Just like you, and the have their bibles to prove it). They follow the parts of the bible that appeal to them– usually having something to do with condemning others and enjoying bacon sandwiches and shrimp cocktails– just as you do. They don’t slay all of the unbelievers, a moral necessity according to Deuteronomy, just like you don’t.

    And on and on and on.

    In all ways they are Christians by every definition except YOURS. In short, according to your definition, they are liars. Hence, their religion does not make them moral. And ACCORDING TO CORINTHIANS, you are reviling and slandering them by attacking their faith, and destroying the brotherhood of Christ by so doing. So you are no more moral or Christian than they are, and every bit as worthy of hell as they are.

    One of my favorite examples to demonstrate who YOU are, and what True Christians are, is Anita Bryant. She attempted to make a career out of what a good Christian she was by attacking gay people. More accurately, lying and slandering and persecuting innocent people with lies and slanders she pulled out of her holy butt. May 9 was the 46th anniversary of the date that uber-Christian and arch-homohater Anita Bryant filed for divorce from her husband Bob. It was not because of adultery, either his or hers, which was the only reason that divorce was not sinful, according to Jesus. He was god, and he should know.

    It was because, according to Bryant’s statement, which the AP reported she released “from her 25-room Miami Beach home” (Who said, ” It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than it is for a rich woman to enter the kingdom of heaven?” No one important.)……….

    Anahoo, she charged that Good Ol’ Bob cooperated “with certain hired staff members who conspired to control me and to use my name and reputation to build their personal careers instead of my ministry.” Her statement brought to a close their twenty year marriage. She even went so far as to claim that her divorce was “against everything I believe in.”

    Well, almost everything. But convenience is such a harsh mistress. Who said “Scribes! Pharisees! Hypocrites!?” No one important.

    And that is my point.

    Exactly who are YOU to condemn other people, to see the speck in their eyes through that big ol’ beam in your own, to state that they are not saved like you are because they are not Christians like you are– and that is indeed what you are saying. Since when did god start confiding in the likes of you who is a true Christian and who is not, who is going to heaven and who is not.

    In short, let’s ask the Only True Christian (TM) about you. Here is his response:

    For they preach, but do not practice. They build up heavy burdens, hard to carry, and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them. Everything
    they do is meant to be seen by others. They make their prayer books wide and the fringes of their prayer shawls long, and they love the place of honor at feasts and the best seats in the synagogues, and greetings in the marketplaces,and being called teacher by others. But you are not to be called teacher, for you have one teacher, and you are all brothers. And do not call any man your
    father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven. Neither be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Christ. The greatest among you shall be your servant.

    Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.

    —Jesus, the Christ, Matthew 23:3-12

    Personally, I think it is ironic beyond words, funny beyond description, that it is an ATHEIST who defends some Christians from the attacks of other Christians.

  341. I believe in God while not being a conservative Christian who consigns all Atheists to hell. It seems that science is based on what we can see with our eyes and observe. There are NT texts which state that God is unseen. Therefore, one cannot establish the existence or non existence of God by scientific observation. I only go by that the Biblical story speaks to me. Conscience is good criterion for belief or disbelief. Also, my faith does not depend on Adam and Eve being real historical figures. The stories about these two do convey a lot of truth of the human condition, however. For instance, the “forbidden fruit.”

  342. If we trace your linage to primates we would find that your uncle is a monkey. Right?

  343. The reason is that nature itself needs an explanation for its existence. After all, everything universe was created at the big bang. No laws, no time existed before the bang.

  344. I hope we can agree that “before time” is as incongruous a notion as “above up” might be.

    But how does your demand for an explanation necessitate a deity (and eliminate any other option) AS that explanation…?

  345. You really should learn about the theory of evolution before criticizing it. So far you appear utterly ignorant of its premises.

    You also don’t understand English language familiar nomenclature. An uncle is a male relative who is a sibling by blood or marriage to ones parent.

    Human beings ARE primates.

    Your willful ignorance and cretinous beliefs are duly noted. Clearly you reject proven scientific ideas because it doesn’t make you feel as special as. You like.

  346. Ok. So you should be able to trace your lineage to the monkeys and apes. Isn’t that what evolutionists tell us?

  347. If God did not do it, then give me another reasonable explanation for the origin of the universe and its laws. Then we can compare.

  348. If I don’t know, does that somehow validate your God hypothesis…?

  349. What it means is that I have a theory-belief that explains why there is a universe and why its designed and fine-tuned for starters.
    You can’t even give me any theory that could explain these things. You have no way to disprove my theory.

  350. “You can’t even give me any theory that could explain these things.”

    In ancient Greece plenty of people thought Zeus was hurling lightning bolts. That assertion wasn’t proven just because there were not meteorologists yet. In other words, the honest answer back then to “Why is there lightning?” was “I don’t know.”

    “I don’t know” was not proof of Zeus. Nor is it evidentiary of Yahweh.

    “You can’t even give me any theory that could explain these things. You have no way to disprove my theory.”

    That’s not my burden to bear. You’re the one making the God assertion. Your (third now) logical fallacy is Argumentum Ad Ignorantiam, or “the Argument from Personal Incredulity”, wherein the illogical leap is made from “I don’t know” to “therefore God[s]”…

    https://yourlogicalfallacyis.com/personal-incredulity

  351. Of course you bear the burden of proof for the origin of the universe and its laws. Without a counter theory you have nothing. You certainly have not disproven that Yahweh didn’t do it.

  352. Nope.

    Go and actually read about the actual theory of Evolution. Preferably from something other than a ridiculous Creationist source. Then get back to me. Your ignorance prevents any meaningful discussion on the subject.

    Btw there is no such thing as “evolutionist”. They are called
    scientists and the public. Nobody has to believe evolution. It is merely accepted. All based on the
    weight of its evidence and research. Rejection of scientific evidence and research is just a sign of
    willful ignorance. Your opinion on the subject doesn’t change any of that. Akin to arguing against the existence of gravity.

  353. I’m disappointed. I thought you understood evolution well enough to show me. Guess I was wrong. You don’t know it well either.

  354. I’ve not set out to disprove anything, only to examine your purported evidence for your God claim.

    A defense lawyer need not prove who DID rob the bank, only to call into question the charge of guilt. Likewise, how the claim for universe came to be is not my burden to prove because I’m not the one accusing God of existing.

    Conversely, you’ve folded your hand with the refreshingly candid admission that you: “have a theory-belief that explains why there is a universe”. Swell. So did my grandmother: Unicorns made it.

    I’m as leery of her claim as I am of yours, until such time as one of you can back it up with something other than unsubstantiated assertions…

  355. So the bottom line is that you have nothing to offer in defense of your view. We can’t even compare which of our beliefs is true or not because you have offered nothing. Its a total blank.

    This means I and others like me are on solid ground to claim God created the universe.

  356. No, the bottom line is that you have nothing to offer in defense of your unsubstantiated God assertion other than more unsubstantiated assertions and logical fallacies.

    If you come up with something of substance, I’d be anxious to talk about it.

    And I do appreciate your time, my friend. Thanks…

  357. I already gave a number of reasons for my beliefs and you have given nothing for yours.
    None of what I presented to you was unsubstantiated while you have offered nothing for your view.
    I have not given you any logical fallacies while you have offered nothing for your view.
    You view is nothing and has no substance.

  358. “I already gave a number of reasons for my beliefs…”

    Agreed. When you have actual evidence to back them up, I’m all ears. More unfounded assertions don’t get us anywhere.

    I’ll illustrate what’s wrong with your shifting of the burden of proof. Since you demand an assertion from me, suppose I made this one:

    “There’s a transcendental Leprechaun living in my anus. He created the universe.”

    Now, under the common standards of rational discourse, it would be my burden to prove it. Under yours, you are obligated to either take my word for it or crawl up my hole and have a look-see for yourself.

    Neither of us is obligated to DIS-prove the other. The one making the claim bears sole ownership to the burden of substantiation…

  359. I am disappointed that you would rather argue points based on ignorance of a subject rather than have a meaningful discussion. But life is full of disappointment.

    It is obvious you just don’t understand evolution and proclaim your lack of knowledge of it proud of it. No point in continuing. Bye bye.

  360. You have not offered any support for your views. You have not borne the burden of proof for them. In fact you haven’t disproved my beliefs about this either. Your screen name proves what atheism is.

  361. You asserting “X” does not obligate me to assert “Y”. It obligates YOU to make the case for “X”. Period…

  362. No it doesn’t. What our conversation shows is that you have nothing at all for your view. Its a bankrupt view because it has no facts or sound reasons for it. You need to reject atheism because it leads atheist to nonsense. Its a dead end.

  363. Are you seriously demanding you can assert “X” and not be the party obligated to substantiate “X”…?!

  364. Genetics proves there were never so few as 2 human beings. It also shows that humans were not created separately from other lifeforms on this planet and that humanity has existed for far longer than the Bible can account for.

    Archaeology doesn’t involve rocks. That’s geology. That said, archaeological discoveries demonstrate that there were never as few as just 2 people in one place in human history. These discoveries also demonstrate that human history goes back far farther than the story in the Bible can account for.

    I think I’ve got it right because those are cold hard facts. All Adam and Eve are is a story thought up by people we would today describe as ignorant savages.

  365. If “Genetics proves there were never so few as 2 human beings” then this supports the flood of Noah where only 8 human beings survived.

    The Bible goes back to the beginning of the universe in Genesis 1:1

    Archaeology does involve rocks in certain objects such as buildings and coins etc.

    So how did the very first cell come into existence?

  366. There is no facts or proof that atheism is true. No atheist has ever produced one fact for atheism being true. Yet the atheist asserts that its true.

  367. Atheism isn’t an assertion OF truth. It’s a label for one who is unconvinced by the claims of theism. That’s all there is to it…

  368. Atheism is making a knowledge claim about reality i.e. no gods exist. It has nothing to do with your subjective state of mind.

    According to the Encyclopedia of Philosophy, the historic definition of “atheist” is one who “maintains that there is no God, that is, that the sentence God exists expresses a false proposition.” Paul Edwards, ed., “Atheism,” Encyclopedia of Philosophy (New York: Macmillan, 1967), 1:175.

    “Atheism’ means the negation of theism, the denial of the existence of God.”

    “For the assertion that “There is no God” is just as much a claim to knowledge as is the assertion that “There is a God.” Stanford University Encyclopedia of Philosophy

  369. They also never traveled more than 50 miles from their homes and drank wine from lead cups.No wonder they experienced miracles.

  370. A- = “not”. Atheist = Not a theist.

    Do you consider “not believing X” to be the same thing as “believing X is not”…?

  371. I understand what you believe but have never seen any facts that support that belief. Since atheism is a knowledge claim about reality i.e. no gods exist then you need some facts for this. If you don’t have facts to support your atheism then all you have is a preference. You prefer God not exist not that He really doesn’t exist.

  372. Do you consider “not believing X” to be the same thing as “believing X is not”…?

  373. “If “Genetics proves there were never so few as 2 human beings” then this
    supports the flood of Noah where only 8 human beings survived.”

    Unmitigated bullshit. Genetics also show that there were never so few as 8 humans. Geology also shows that the so-called Flood never happened. It’s a myth borrowed from the Epic of Gilgamesh.

    “The Bible goes back to the beginning of the universe in Genesis 1:1”

    Genesis is nothing but a story thought up by people who didn’t even know where the sun goes at night.

    “So how did the very first cell come into existence?”

    Abiogenesis. The details are not yet fully understood but current science certainly offers a better explanation than the non-explanation of “god did it”.

  374. So, I , as a Christian, am not allowed to define what a Christian is. But you, as an Atheist are allowed to define who is and isn’t a Christian. I find that unusual.

    Since you seem to like Bible verses, the Bible teaches Christians to discern the spirits (1 John 4:1) so that Christians can tell what is from God and what is not. But, as an Atheist who doesn’t believe in God or spirits, you can define what a true Christian is? As I mentioned before, 1 John is a great resource if you want to find out the biblical definition of who and who isn’t a Christian.

    By the way…I’m not condemning anyone…Jesus himself does plenty of condemning in scripture, and he also warns people to be ready for ‘the day’. Sharing information is not condemning someone. If a mechanic says your brakes are shot, a wise person would probably get them repaired, or at least be careful going down a steep grade. But the mechanic who warned the driver actually did a good thing. It’s up to the driver to make the big decision. But, I guess some drivers would rather argue with mechanics all day.

  375. What do I believe that I lack the facts to support…?

  376. That God does not exist. You don’t even have reason or logic on your side.

  377. I haven’t asserted God does not exist. I’ve pointed out that the case hasn’t been made that He does. Again (again, again):

    Do you consider “not believing X” to be the same thing as “believing X is not”…?

  378. How does genetics know there was never fewer than 8 people at one time? Are saying mankind evolved as a group? How could that be when according to evolutionary theory everything came from one cell?

    Abiogenesis has never been demonstrated and never will. The cell is to complicated for it to have come from non living materials by the forces of nature without any intelligence guiding it. For example, how could the mindless forces of nature create the 20+ parts of the molecular motors in cells and put them together?

  379. The case has been made for His existence on multiple levels. You have never refuted any of the facts for His existence nor given me any reasons to think He doesn’t exist.

    I guess black holes don’t exist either. I just don’t want them to.

  380. “You have never refuted any of the facts for His existence…”

    No, my friend. You’ve never offered acts. Only assertions that seem to crumble readily under the most rudimentary of questions as to their veracity…

  381. Creation, appeared in history, the life of Christ are all facts for the existence of God.

    Now refute these arguments with facts that shows otherwise.

  382. “How does genetics know there was never fewer than 8 people at one time?”

    Such a constriction of human DNA would be noticeable. For example, human DNA shows that about 50,000 years ago (which is impossible according to the myth of the Bible) the human population dropped to around 3000 to 10000 individuals.

    Any answer more complicated than that would obviously be beyond your ability to comprehend.

    “Abiogenesis has never been demonstrated and never will.”

    Funny, scientists say the exact opposite.

    “For example, how could the mindless forces of nature create the 20+
    parts of the molecular motors in cells and put them together?”

    Evolution. You’re assuming the first life was as complex as life is today. That’s just stupid and shows a complete lack of understanding of either abiogenesis or evolution.

    I’m done here. You’re just spouting ridiculous and oft-debunked creationist blather.

  383. Proving the universe was the product of a creator is the challenge before you. Have at ye…

  384. Your “reality” is nothing but the illusions created by the senses which are then compared and contrasted by logic, mathematics and science. It is all legerdemain. Religion moves beyond those illusions to the ultimate source.

  385. https://philosophynow.org/issues/61/What_Is_The_Nature_Of_Reality

    In discussing the nature of reality, we must distinguish between physical reality and immaterial (non-physical) reality. Physical reality is that which is constrained by physics or physical laws. Perhaps the best person to relegate this part of the discussion to would be a physicist, since a physicist is probably more qualified in discussing physical reality then an armchair philosopher such as myself.

    Immaterial reality then pertains to what is not constrained by physical laws, eg concepts such as ‘character’ and the ‘mind’

    http://www.livescience.com/38234-is-reality-real-or-not.html

    http://motherboard.vice.com/read/there-is-growing-evidence-that-our-universe-is-a-giant-hologram

    http://www.space.com/32543-universe-a-simulation-asimov-debate.html

  386. No. But it was a good try. You are perfectly fine to define what a Christian is. But so are other Christians. That’s the right YOU would deny them, not ME. You see, we atheists are not people you seem to need to believe we are.

    Two dogs were arguing on a bridge about which should get a delicious bone. A horse was passing by, and they decided to let him decide. The horse took the bone and through over the bridge and into the torrent below. The dogs asked the horse, “why did you do that?”

    “I’m a vegetarian.”

  387. “Character” is part of “the mind” which, being an emergent property of the organic brain, is constrained by physical laws. Information doesn’t exist without a physical substrate.

  388. The organic brain is not the only part of the human body that has neurons. There are neutron structures in the spine, gut and heart. In addition, there are chakras or energy plexii in the body . But even all of that doesn’t fully explain mind. One also has to factor in the karma load with which one is born as well as the karmic consequences developed in a lifetime. If your notion of character has anything to do with morality then the character of an Atheist is quite limited because morality for an Atheist can only be a variant of self-interest or advantage. You are right that information doesn’t exist without a physical substrate but all that means is that information is, by definition, forever limited, partial, and not capable of addressing that which lies at the core of our being.

  389. And the evidence that supports that chakras and karma exist in the first place is…

  390. http://www.collective-evolution.com/2014/03/15/scientists-quantify-graphically-chart-energy-of-human-chakras-in-various-emotional-states/

    An interesting comment in this article is that humans can only see one percent of the entire electromagnetic spectrum. Relying on the senses is useless.

    http://hubpages.com/education/The-Anatomical-Proof-of-the-Existence-of-the-Chakras

    The caduceus, the symbol of the western medical profession symbolizes the seven primary chakras as well the flow of energy, Kundalini, that leads to enlightenment.

    You should be less smug and more inquiring.

  391. And all of these claims made in the links you posted are supported by exactly which peer-rewieved studies?

  392. Have you read the articles?

    Are you aware that peer view is questionable. At the least it is an example of the magical logical fallacy, argument ad numerum, whereby the truth of a proposition is determined by the number of people who believe it. In addition, those on peer review panel have biases.

    “We know that the system of peer review is biased, unjust, unaccountable, incomplete, easily fixed, often insulting, usually ignorant, occasionally foolish, and frequently wrong.”
    * Richard Horton, editor of the British medical journal The Lancet

    Levy flights is my favourite example of the silliness of the peer review process, as outlined below:

    The peer review process is actually a process of groupthink, even group hypnosis, whereby those of a certain opinion or mind set tend to publish and/or favourably evaluate articles that ape that opinion or mindset. It is knee-jerk science, a combination of wishful thinking, laziness, smug egoism, and the logical fallacy known as argumentum ad verecundiam or appeal to authority.

    1. Lack of Substance

    The lack of substance behind the peer-review phenomenon may best be illustrated by looking at the 1990’s issue of Levy Flights. In 1996, a British Antarctic Survey “proved” that albatrosses follow flight patterns called Levy flights, named after a French mathematician. This information was duly published in a peer-reviewed journal. Then came a season of silliness as other researchers sought to show a whole host of fauna also followed these supposed Levy Flight patterns. There were findings of Levy flights in bees, reindeer, grey seals, spider monkeys and microscopic zooplankton. One study even found evidence of Levy flights in the movements of Peruvian fishing boats going after anchovies off the coast of South America. Another even suggested in 1999 that Levy statistics applied to Jackson Pollack paintings. All of these findings were submitted to and published in peer-reviewed journals. People were claiming an evolutionary advantage to having Levy statistics.

    And all of them were wrong.

    In October 2007, Dr Andrew Edwards, a research scientist currently with Fisheries and Oceans Canada, showed that the original Levy flight study was flawed in two respects. First, there was an error in raw data collection from tracking devices attached to the birds. The birds were mistakenly thought to be in the air when they were, for much of the time, soaking up the sun while sitting on rocks. The more important error, however, was in methodology, a statistical method of calculation, which was wrong and is what started the chain-reaction of mistakes.

    It is Dr. Edwards who suggested that the two reasons for the errors in the original Levy Flight report was laziness and wishful thinking. If laziness and wishful thinking are the reasons numerous researchers made their silly claims of Levy flights, those same reasons could be attributed to the so-called experts who constituted the peer review panels of the various journals to accept the spurious studies.

    With the Levy flight bubble we have an excellent example of people essentially wasting their lives and careers due to laziness and wishful thinking, and possibly the publish-or-perish atmosphere in academia, all under the flawed aegis of peer review.

    While one cannot question the validity of all articles in peer reviewed publications based on their passing a peer review process, one can say that being included in a peer review publication is certainly not evidence of validity.

    2. Narrowness of the peer review process harms subject knowledge.

    Peer review has been termed a “social form of boundary judgment” (Gaudet); a crude means of discovering the acceptability – not the validity – of a new finding (Horton); and a vehicle for suppressing dissent against mainstream theories (Martin, Campanario). It is not multi-disciplinary in its outlook and therefore excludes other interpretations of the same phenomena or ideas being discussed.

    The well-known story of three blind men describing an elephant by examining only the elephant’s trunk, tusk and tail respectively and coming up with three different versions of “elephant” is a good description of the peer review process. There is no provision for integrating descriptions from different perspectives into a coherent whole.

    Moreover, there is not way to be assured that those writers who claimed to be grasping a tail, a tusk or a trunk were actually doing so or were mistaken or, even worse, deceitful.

    3. Peer Reviewers

    Those who are peer reviewers have several drawbacks:

    – They have an ego investment in protecting their work and so only qualify that which supports it. Wikipedia is a leading example in addition to scholarly journals.

    – There may be personal animosity toward or friendship with the writer.

    – Many of them have been subverted by industry to qualify articles that promote an industrial agenda. The leading industries in this endeavor are pharmaceutical, petrochemical, oil and gas, and coal. There are also interventions by the military, political parties, national or state organizations and PACs (political action committees). The subversion may be in the form of money, jobs, or research grants.

    – The peer review may not have actually been conducted merely claimed to be conducted or foisted off to a junior.

    – Unlikely to detect plagiarism or autoplagarizism.

    – The reviewer may use the material being reviewed for their personal or professional gain.

    – The criterion for being selected as a peer reviewer is dubious, and seems to consist of the reviewer having already had an article or book published, a self-justification of the process.

    In short, peer review is has no basis. It is only as good as the reviewer is competent, open, unbiased and uncorrupted. It can, at best, provide only a partial picture of a small area of a larger reality. At worst, it provides a skewed or false notion of a small area of a larger reality, thereby preventing access to that larger reality.

  393. there is no conflict between science and the Bible. What the author probably is eluding to is Darwinian macro-evolution, which isn’t scientific. He likely has bought into the false premise of Darwinism as “science”.
    Also, the church should never embrace the LGBT movement. Apparently Revelation is correct about how Babylon has fallen. Truth lies in the street, crushed by those who are afraid of the enmity of the world. Like the above author.

  394. David Gushee writes: “Christian faith can mainly be defended by the good fruit it produces, not by arguments.”
    Nice and biblical, but Christian theology (as opposed to the religion of Jesus) has always rejected “salvation by good works” and demanded “faith”; not in God, but in Christian doctrine! This Pauline doctrine cannot be traced to the historical figure Jesus. In short, Christianity, as we know it, is a fraud from beginning to end, claiming to follow Jesus, but really, just seeking worldly power.
    If Christians really attempted to follow Jesus, they would minister to the sick, and dispose of their worldly wealth in order to benefit the poor. As a poor minister’s son, I know whereof I speak. I choose not to follow Jesus, but I do not despise those who do. I do despise “Christians”, however.

  395. Why do people spend so much time trying to prove that Jesus isn’t real or the bible isn’t true? Why is it that when people curse, it usually involves the name of Jesus Christ, but no one spends time trying to refute Thor or Buddha or Santa. If Jesus wasn’t real, you wouldn’t be talking about Him. The reason you are spending so much time fighting is because you know He’s real and He has placed requirements about how he expects all of us to live. If you’ll be honest with yourself, the reason you don’t like Jesus is because there are some sins you would like to commit and Jesus convicts you about them. There are always going to be converts to Christianity. When people run to science and atheism during the storms of their lives and find no protection or shelter, except in Jesus Christ, they’ll come running back to Him. I was one of them.

  396. A corollary topic would be the attempt to define “Religious Freedom” as either the right to define secular law or be exempt from it.

  397. The bible says you know something by the fruit it produces. Well let’s see…..the fruit is rotting and the vine is withering. I conclude Christianity is dead, or at the very least on life support for many reasons. Many people today look around and see these multi-million dollar “houses of worship” being used 3 times a week when people in their community are starving and living in poverty. The hypocrisy is mind boggling. The bible says it is easier to thread a camel through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to get to heaven. Indeed.

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