Questions for atheists

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Now that the postings regarding religion are back with a vengeance, I thought I’d tackle this. This is a set of questions I grabbed off the website of CARM (Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry). The purpose of the questions, according to the author, is to better understand atheists. So I answered the questions and sent them back to the institute, as instructed. Here are my answers to said questions.

1. How would you define atheism?

Atheism is the lack of belief in God, or more specifically the idea that there is not enough evidence to prove or verify that God exists.

**edit** A lot of people seem to think that my definition falls more in line with agnosticism. To clarify, to me, an agnostic would answer the question of, “Do you believe in God?” with an “I don’t know,” while an atheist would simply answer “No.” Since I would answer with the latter, I self-identify as an atheist. Even though my use of “evidence” leaves open a probability that God exists, I am firmly rejecting that possibility due to the available body of evidence to the contrary.

2. Do you act according to what you believe (there is no God) or in what you don’t believe in (lack of belief in God)?

I’m really struggling to see a difference between the two choices presented here, but for the sake of answering the question I suppose I’d have to say that I act more in accordance with what I don’t believe, lack of belief. As a scientist, I don’t like absolutes. Acting from a lack of belief, in my opinion, leaves more room for future evidence or argument.

3. Do you think it is inconsistent for someone who “lacks belief” in God to work against God’s existence by attempting to show that God does not exist?

Not at all, especially given the fact that people who believe in God are responsible for creating policies and affecting legislation that can and does directly impact my life as an American.

4. How sure are you that your atheism properly represents reality?

I’m reasonably sure. I’m extremely sure that religion does not properly represent reality. What I would say is that I am 100% sure that science properly represents reality.

5. How sure are you that your atheism is correct?

Very confident until proven otherwise. I have absolutely zero scientific evidence that God exists, therefore it makes no sense to reach any other conclusion than that He does not exist. Of course, if new physical evidence entered the picture, my confidence in atheism would change.

6. How would you define what truth is?

I’m not really sure that this is truly possible, but for the purpose of this survey I would say that as it serves us in our day to day lives, that which is true is that which is observable, measurable, testable, and repeatable.

7. Why do you believe that your atheism is a justifiable position to hold?

Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. So far, religion has offered zero evidence. If religion had any credible evidence that God actually exists, then faith wouldn’t even be a word in religion. As it is, religion is predicated exclusively on the idea of faith–accepting something without evidence. I see no compelling reason to do this, so I do not.

8. Are you a materialist or physicalist or what?

I’m a scientist.

9. Do you affirm or deny that atheism is a worldview? Why or why not?

I would deny such a claim. Atheism is not a worldview because I do not make decisions or choices based on my lack of belief in God.

10. Not all atheists are antagonistic to Christianity but for those of you who are, why the antagonism?

Mostly because a good portion of Christians believe that their beliefs should supersede those of all others. Other religions are guilty of this, too. But in the US, Christianity colors our legal and governmental policies and practices, which means that Christianity affects my life. To my knowledge, nobody has ever tried to legislate atheism in this country, nor is anyone particularly interested in doing so. However, I could cite numerous instances of Christians trying to legislate their beliefs onto others.

11. If you were a believer in the Christian God, what caused you to deny his existence?

Before I answer this question, I would like to point out that this is worded in a somewhat condescending way. “Denying his existence” makes it sound like you categorically know that I’m wrong and you’re simply humoring me with these questions. If the intent or spirit of this survey is to better understand atheists, I suggest rewording this question.

The answer to the question is rather complicated, but I used to be a believer, yes. I was raised Catholic. However, when I reached my adolescence, I began to read and learn about science, and I realized that a lot of the claims that Christianity makes are not reflected by reality. Furthermore, the older I became and more I learned to think logically, the more I could not overlook the gross contradictions contained in the bible.

12. Do you believe the world would be better off without religion?

Yes. I think that history shows that the world would be a more tolerant and peaceful place if people hadn’t spent the better part of a millennium killing each other for believing in different gods and religions. It wouldn’t be a utopia, for sure, but it would be better.

13. Do you believe that faith in God or gods is a mental disorder?

Disorder, no. But I do believe that the brain structure and chemistry of some people predispose them to faith. Scientific experiments have shown that by stimulating certain areas of the brain we can induce people to have “religious experiences” where they feel like they’re in the presence of something greater than themselves, etc. What this shows, I believe, is that some people naturally tend to exhibit religiosity more than others. But it is not a disease or disorder.

14. Must God be known through the scientific method?

I think the better question is why shouldn’t He? If people are willing to kill and be killed over God, I would think that they’d want to be certain He exists first. Moreover, if people essentially want me to give my entire existence over to God, I’d like some proof that such a being exists. Otherwise what’s the difference between a Christian telling me to believe in their God or a homeless man telling me to worship the invisible man that follows him everywhere?

15. If you answered yes to the previous question, then how do you avoid a category mistake by requiring material evidence for an immaterial God?

Sneaky question. My answer to this would be what reason do I have to assume that God is immaterial? Please, give me one reason. The idea of defining God as “immaterial” is a convenient way to escape the burden of proof. But that idea also opens up a whole host of other problems. What exactly does it mean to be “immaterial” in the first place? Does that mean to not have a physical presence? How is it possible for something that doesn’t exist to exist? How is it possible for something immaterial to affect something which is material?

16. Do we have any purpose as human beings?

No. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t value or cherish our lives or time any less. It simply means that my existence is not predicated on a specific, predetermined role given by a creator.

17. If we do have a purpose, can you as an atheist please explain how that purpose is determined?

N/A

18. Where does morality come from?

It comes from logic and the human desire to survive.

19. Are there moral absolutes?

No. As an example, most rational people would casually say that murder or killing is wrong. Yet those same people wouldn’t hesitate to kill in self-defense, to kill in order to save others, or to kill as a form of punishment. Even though we clearly think of ending another life or having our own life ended as the worst thing that could possibly happen to us or another human, we are in no way absolute about it. It’s even one of the ten commandments, and we STILL find ways to justify it.

20. If there are moral absolutes, could you list a few of them?

N/A

21. Do you believe in such a thing as evil? And if so, what is it?

That’s an interesting question. Do I believe that people are capable of doing bad things? Yes, of course. But I don’t believe there’s a supernatural element to evil.

22. If you believe that the God of the Old Testament is morally bad, by what standard do you judge that he is bad?

I wouldn’t call the God of the Old Testament “bad” in a moral sense. But I would definitely say that he’s grossly incompetent. Wouldn’t the fact that God had to make a new covenant with man speak to the fact that this omniscient and all-powerful being who can see past, present, and future goofed up somehow? Or at the very least did something he knew he’d have to rectify later instead of just doing it correctly in the first place?

23. What would it take for you to believe in God?

I suppose if God revealed himself to us all physically, like if he literally descended from heaven and performed a bunch of miracles, I would be hard pressed to continue being an atheist.

24. Must this evidence be rationally based, archaeological, testable in a lab, etc?

Of course. We live in a physical world, so why wouldn’t the requirement of physical proof make sense?

25. Do you think that a society that is run by Christians or atheists would be safer? Why?

The short answer is neither would be objectively safer. Seeing as how there has never been a country run by atheists, I have nothing with which to compare Christian-run countries to make a conclusion. However, I have a feeling that even if religion disappeared tomorrow, people would still find reason to kill or harm each other. Love, greed, fear, etc. would all still exist whether we’re in an atheist country or a Christian one, and would all still cause aberrant behavior in people which could lead to violence.

26. Do you believe in free will (free will being the ability to make choices without coercion)?

Yes.

27. If you believe in free will, do you see any problem with defending the idea that the physical brain, which is limited and subject to the neuro-chemical laws of the brain, can still produce free will choices?

If we’re defining free will as the ability to make choices, then no. Every random thing that happens to anyone will only ever have a set number of outcomes. For example, if someone throws a ball at me, I can only respond to it in three dimensions. But I guess my concern about this question would be in the way that the brain is presented as “limited.” I would agree the brain is governed by physical laws, but why is that mutually exclusive with the idea of free will? The way you’re asking the question would make it seem that free will is basically infinite, therefore a finite system like the brain would never be able to cope with it. But I see no evidence that free will is rooted in the unlimited.

28. If you affirm evolution and that the universe will continue to expand forever, then do you think it is probable that given enough time, brains would evolve to the point of exceeding mere physical limitations and become free of the physical and temporal and thereby become “deity” and not be restricted by space and time?  If not, why not? 

First of all, I do not affirm that the universe will expand forever. I affirm that it seems to be expanding currently, and that’s all I’ll affirm. Expansion forever is a possibility, but given the timescale of the universe a lot can happen or be discovered that changes our understanding of the universe.

As to the evolution question, this is a fundamental misunderstanding of evolution. The question that you’ve posed is indicative of the false notion that evolution is a linear process that always results in something “better” or “higher” or whatever you want to call it. The fact is that there is nothing in evolutionary theory that suggest people are going to evolve into non-corporeal beings, super humans, or any other such iteration of this idea. All evolution states is that the gradual accumulation of genetic mutations will produce an organism which can successfully live in its environment. Furthermore, there is no evidence that it is physically possible to exist beyond time and space.

29. If you answered the previous question in the affirmative, then aren’t you saying that it is probable that some sort of God exists?

I did not answer the last question in the affirmative. But I will take this last question as an opportunity to clarify something. Even though I do not believe that God exists, I will still admit as a scientist that there is a probability that He in fact does exist; I just happen to think that based on the available evidence that probability is incredibly small, and that it is far more probable that he does not exist. But that’s part of the problem in this discussion. Atheism is rooted in science, and therefore subject to change with available evidence. While there is no current evidence to indicate God’s existence, perhaps there will be one day. And our views would change. There is no such open-mindedness in Christianity, and from my understanding such an open-minded view is discouraged as falling prey to temptation, sin, or the devil. No matter how much evidence exists to refute the existence of God, Christians will never believe it. The atheist, however, is open to all possibilities. The evidence could literally take us anywhere in the future. And that’s part of the fun of being a scientist–you’re really an explorer of possibility. Religion, however, is a denier of possibility.

I sincerely hope that this survey provides the people at CARM a better glimpse into the views of an atheist. And I also hope that this survey is rooted in a genuine desire to understand and not merely as a means to formulate responses to atheists and propagate Christian points of view. I eagerly await some kind of response from CARM and to see what becomes of the answers they receive.

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39 thoughts on “Questions for atheists

  1. Kind of surprising that Crocoducks didn’t pop up in this list. Either way, I agree with almost everything here. The one thing I’m wondering is why you define Atheism as a belief that there’s a lack of evidence for God? To me, that would go more into the definition of Agnostic rather than Atheist.

    1. Fair point. I guess I define myself as an atheist because the only answer I can give to whether or not I believe in God is a resounding “no” and not “I don’t know.” I don’t think there’s anything wrong with either answer, though. The lack of evidence informs my disbelief, so I suppose I naturally tend to equate the two.

      1. There isn’t anything wrong with those answers since I don’t think anyone can say for sure whether or not God exists. I’ve also heard Agnosticism used more as an adjective than a religious stance. It’s more of an admission of knowledge than belief.

      2. That’s the point I was trying to make, although I did it in a rather piecemeal way here, my apologies. I don’t believe in God right now based on what evidence I have to work with–but that’s subject to change in light of future evidence. Ergo it’s impossible for me to be 100% certain about it in general.

  2. “Before I answer this question, I would like to point out that this is worded in a somewhat condescending way. “Denying his existence” makes it sound like you categorically know that I’m wrong and you’re simply humoring me with these questions. If the intent or spirit of this survey is to better understand atheists, I suggest rewording this question.”

    I answered these questions on my blog and noticed this also. I skipped it, but in hindsight, maybe I should have called them out on it. Many Christians call it a ‘denial’ of God, which implies it exists, but it’s a lack of belief.

    Enjoyed your post!

    1. Thanks! I saw your post as well and drew some inspiration from it.

      I tried to be polite about that particular question because I don’t think it was intentionally arrogant. But still, I think it was kind of a bump in the conversation, so to speak.

  3. I don’t want to get into a snit with a band of atheists, but, technically, atheism is the believe in NO god. Not just a lack of belief in the “God” associated with Christianity/Catholicism. Yet, I get this feeling that it is Catholicism that drives many to atheism for whatever inane reason. I feel there is a conspiracy in this, some evil plot conceived by an evil twin to rob the faith of its followers. But, while I blow this steam, millions if not billions will blow pot smoke in my face and call me names for speaking my mind. And, yet, I see the later questions are all skewed to “the belief/disbelief in God.” So, the first question seems limited to one answer. I’d stop right there.

    I think the second question (as you printed it) is in error. The second option should have “(God)” instead of “(lack of belief in God)”.

    Do you like arguments? Is that what you said? You look forward to more arguments? Why would anyone want to argue versus finding harmony?

    Question three is an annoying echo. It’s telling you to prove God doesn’t exist. There is no question.

    Question four compares what people see as believing to what people cannot see but believe, one of the big lessons/philosophies mentioned in the Bible.

    By question five, I think this should have been one of those number rated tests, with a scale of 1 to 5 (least certain to most certain).

    Question six should be easy if you are certain in your belief.

    I see in question ten you express the common dislike of what are referred to as “bible thumpers.” If that’s your basis for being atheist, that’s sad. I am not more religious because of scientologists or atheists speaking out. I’m not part of an anti-smoking movement because smokers annoy me and make me fear for my health. I maintain my faith because I respect my roots, I invested my life time into this thus far and I won’t let a few million jackasses turning the church and its possibly outdated or mutated-over-the-decades rules (not the faith) into something troublesome. I suppose, in response to my classmates behaving so rudely in church/mass, I decide to stick by my faith out of displeasure with them and respect for what asked for it.

    Question eleven is not condescending. The act of going atheist is to deny the existence of a god. The question is skewed–like many atheists–to only one god. The quiz is flawed but not condescending. Yet, it seems many atheists feel “harped” upon by religious folks, turning every question into an attack.

    Aside from the Crusades and terrorist groups acting out in the name of their radical beliefs, I don’t think religion is the problem. It’s the misuse/abuse of religion for violence and peer pressure that needs curbing. If everyone was scientific, we probably wouldn’t trust each other with anything, question everything an have the same wars except fight over who’s hypothesis is more accurate. So went the Newton War of 2095.

    In response to question fourteen, if you had the greatest secret anyone could ever know which could destroy everything you could ever learn/know, wouldn’t you put that under the greatest protection? I am talking about something more important than your online business or bank accounts. Something so important and potentially dangerous that the wrong human hands would surely abuse it. Think of God this way, you don’t know the password til you earn it. God sends you the email and already knows your address. You might as well think of Facebook or your email service as your gods.

    Why can’t there be moral absolutes just because you or I haven’t found any of them in human form? It’s just one more of those unknowns that could be speculated for eons.

    Whoa. Stop the presses. Question twenty-two. You don’t believe in any god…you gave up believing in God…but you claim Him (giving gender) incompetent, thus suggesting He (or she) exists.

    You’re just in doubt.

    1. With all due respect, I’m not in doubt. I answered a hypothetical question. That doesn’t mean that’s what I personally subscribe to.

      Furthermore, I am not an atheist because of bible thumpers. As stated earlier, I’m an atheist because there is no proof that God exists. The question specifically attempted to get to the root at why some atheists are antagonistic–not why they’re atheists at all.

      I also don’t think that the dichotomy of “argument vs harmony” is the only paradigm that exists, and I don’t see why the two have to be in an adversarial relationship. My friends and I argue about things occasionally, but that doesn’t mean I will henceforth consider them mortal enemies. Not all arguments have to be heated or filled with mud-slinging.

      With respect to your other points, I never said that people shouldn’t be free to believe in God. I personally think the world would be better without religion, but that doesn’t necessarily mean without God. But I also realize that a world sans religion is not realistic. This is a free country, and people should be free to believe whatever they want…which is why I take issue with Christians to trying to legislate their beliefs above all others.

      1. Okay, then who or what made you think about needing proof of God’s existence?

        I think we’re all in doubt to some degree. I suspect even the most devout have moments of weakness or uncertainties in their faith. But, it is the choice we all eventually make to believe in something, whether that is believing in ourselves, our “stuff” or something we cannot see.

        You cannot see any aliens, either. Do you believe they exist? I think it’s very possible. But, I have no proof. I also think ghosts and angels exist.

        The quiz was skewed, as I stated. It seemed limited in scope of vision and geared toward specific answers.

        And, a difference of opinion need not be an argument. I consider arguments heated differences of opinion.

        Mortal enemies is a bit extreme for a debate opponent.

        I was bothered, I think, by the focus on the one God versus all gods as atheism is defined. I get irked when I see people of my faith turn “lazy” on that faith by claiming to be atheists. It’s disrespectful among other things. Yet, they went through sacraments to please their parents. It irks me the same way many discuss an treat sex.

        I think it’s American Christians and Catholics that have given the religion a bad name. It’s the American “I can do whatever I want” ego that has caused recent problems in the world. It’s not the fault of the core faith.

      2. Well I’ll certainly give you that the survey itself was skewed, or at the very least a little haphazard. Anyway, to answer your question. I think that if you pieced several of my answers together from the survey you’d have the whole picture as to why I require proof, but I’ll do my best to sum it up here.

        I’d start by asking this of you: should we just take everything on faith then? That may seem an extreme question, but I ask it because I am certain that there are many things out there for which you would require proof. For instance, if you were sick and a drug company wanted to give you some brand new drug you’d never heard of, you’d probably want proof that it worked before you took it, or proof that it at least wouldn’t kill you.

        What I’m getting is where do you or any religious person draw the line between things that require proof and things that don’t? It seems pretty arbitrary to draw the line at God, considering how profoundly He or they affect our behaviors. People kill for God without needing so much as a single shred of proof of his existence.

        As to why I specifically need proof? The claims that religion make are grand in scale and scope. Why should I blindly accept it without evidence? Nobody has given me a compelling reason so far to believe in the existence of an omnipotent being who watches everything I do and judges me from beyond time and space. Why should I believe that? Because if I don’t I’ll go to hell? To a place that, again, there is no proof to suggests exists at all?

        Yes, I believe it’s strongly possible that aliens exist. The difference between that and God, though, is that I don’t go around claiming that this is a certainty or truth. I don’t go around telling people exactly what the aliens I’ve never met or seen look like, sound like, value, want, or do. I don’t claim any literal truths in my belief that extraterrestrial life exists, and more importantly I don’t advocate it.

      3. Faith is like trust. We can’t have proof in writing someone we meet will do what we want or will do it as well as we think in our minds. We can be given promises and look at past records of their actions/performances. But, we have no proof of what is to come. Yet, we trust the auto mechanic to fix the car right or the artist to draw our portrait in a pleasing way. I would hate to see the scene when that does not happen and the laborer is “sued” for “malpractice.” I suppose this is where insurance stemmed from and why so many make a living off instilling fear and doubt in humanity instead of being fair and responsible.

        Should we take everything on faith? [What is extreme about that?] Well, if you CAN prove something “scientifically” or learn from your mistakes/trials, then you have more “evidence” upon which to base your next decision. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. If we repeat our mistakes, we misplaced our trust/faith. In any case we have no evidence upon which to base a decision, I suspect faith is needed. We cast our “dice” on a whim. But, true, deep faith comes from life decisions, not those made once in a while. You place faith in the person you marry. You place faith in a job covering your debts/financial butt. You place faith in a roof to keep you safe from harm. If you had all the cold, hard facts behind every case, you might not marry, own a home or take a job, at all.

        Unlike math, we cannot form exact outcomes for every instance every little thing happens in life. If we did, I suppose that would suck every last drop of spontaneity out of this life/world. We can predict. But, we can’t always if ever be exact every time.

        You bring up drugs. And, I get very irked by the topic. I have had a negative experience from being told and forced to use some. I nearly lost my life to trusting a professional with a drug I knew no better than him. I may have read some negative side-effects and dodged the Prozac bullet of death; but I still was put at risk, and this made me furious. Yet, I think the inventors of the pills are no smarter than the rest of us. I wrote a piece recently on human smarts and how we haven’t evolved that much since the Stone Age. It’s scientists who feel this need to test their theories on other lives. And, that’s just as dangerous as someone pressing their beliefs on another. Except, I don’t expect anyone to die from ingesting words. But, people, in desperation for quick fixes for ill-planned actions, turn to these “professionals” for aid and risk their lives in the process. Before there is any proof, there are countless errors which I think are a higher power’s way of saying, “Why are you doing this? I gave you everything you needed; still you choose to test and manipulate nature. Are the nuclear/toxic spills that make land unlivable not enough proof?”

        I would not compare trusting pills to believing in a higher power because something that powerful beyond my given nature can’t possibly be fully conceived by my brain. But, I CAN conceive many if not all of the grim possibilities of bad medicine because I hear of so many disaster cases and have read lists of side-effects.

        I am not sure I want to make this comparison…but, if you entered a fight tournament, unless you were able to research the opponent, you wouldn’t know what they would unleash upon you. But, you’d go in confident enough to try, anyway, with your mind set on the win.

        I can’t know what my (God) will throw at me or why. But, I can accept the strong possibility (He) exists. And, I can be mindful/respectful of that. Just as I can respect others seeing that same entity in some other form. I have done a little research on the “evolution” of such gods as Athena.

        I draw my lines this way: There are those things controlled/impacted more by man. And, there are those controlled/impacted more by forces beyond man. When man errors, that’s man’s fault. When he/she experiences or is affected by something he/she cannot fully control, that is where something else is in play. I also suspect moods/mentalities can be affected this way, by something outside of “simple science” even if some want to dissect brain activity and blame it on the chemicals. It helps, sometimes, to also chalk up certain events to something I can’t fully understand rather than try to work out the “math” of it. One thing I have learned about “the details” is that “over-thinking” things adds to one’s grief. It doesn’t as often make one feel better. So, in that way, you might say I prefer faith to science. But, modern medicine and some of the unnecessary experiments I’ve become aware of contribute as much or more prominently to my resistance.

        What others do in the name of their god does not need to label me. But, I don’t see many good shades of atheism (yet). Instead, I see people turning blind eyes to the faith they were given as a right of passage to their unique culture/homeland. I see people disrespecting and abusing their faiths. But, that doesn’t make the faith bad. Nor does it make Hindus, or gays or African Americans all bad. In ever barrel, there’s a likely but inexact measure of good and bad. Not every Catholic priest is going to be a sexual deviant. But, I will display a certain measure of caution out of fear from current events, from amounting evidence. But, again, that’s turning on MAN, not my faith in what’s beyond man. I can accept someone turning from the church because of priest abuse. But, that should not be tied to the faith itself, as well.

        I’ve heard stories from those of the same faith as the terrorists who seek to slaughter countless lives in the west, namely Americans. And, they say those who kill in the name of their faith are misusing the old texts. I suspect the same can be said of some Catholics in America. But, I have yet to see them kill over their faith…unless you consider extremists like the KKK which I’ve known atheists (or those who reject their Catholic roots) to claim membership when they act out violently. There was a time when the “Dead Kennedys” were running amok with similar radical ideas, too.

        I don’t have to accept or believe everything written in a Bible (as fact). Some may be parable or metaphor (or riddles woven to conceal some plans to slip under Roman noses like the Underground Railroad during the black slavery movement). I don’t have to expect someone to turn water into wine or make wounds magically disappear. But, I can say it’s possible. Some, other than myself, might take these “miracles” more literally or seriously because they need to feel more strongly about their faith/actions. Just as some might get more emotional from a novel while others see it as just a fictional story. I prefer to be open to other interpretations hidden within the text and choose not to use my faith as a weapon to inflict pain or death upon anyone (yet). [There’s no telling what I may be compelled/forced to do under different circumstances.]

        As I said in a previous comment, if you had knowledge beyond the necessary understanding of an entire planet or solar system…and if that knowledge was more dangerous than an apple and a snake in some jungle…you might place it under higher security than any human could unlock. And, only the “safe keeper” should decide when and if he/she shares that “wealth” with anyone “lesser.”

        And, again, why should you buy insurance? Why take any pills or use sun screen? How do you know years from now such decisions won’t impact you negatively? Oh, because some scientists did tests on a set number of subjects? And, did they have your exact DNA type/code to prove it wouldn’t affect you differently? What if your science gave you a fatal illness? Where do you turn then?

        Then there is the principle of forgiveness and how we give those who make mistakes more chances. I’d be more inclined to give those chances to a proven friend (who’s done more good than bad or who I at least have spent more time with to know better) than a stranger with a degree on a wall, a crazy appointment schedule and a costly payment plan. I trusted a reputed doctor and nearly lost my life. Science failed and scared me. So far, I haven’t been scared by my faith…just those who misuse it, those who make me think of those evil entities I’ve heard stories about.

        You may not go around saying aliens exist. But, would you accept someone being so convinced they don’t? And, if asked, would you defend your belief they do or could?

        Part of my response and/or opinion in response to your answers is in awareness of your objection to what I referred to as “bible thumpers.” You keep generating this nagging twitch to anyone who speaks aloud about God and who SEEMS unwilling to accept anything less than complete support/agreement. These few are not reason enough to cast off your chosen faith or adopt a new one. You can align yourself with different people/believers. But, a few pain-in-the-ass eggs are not sufficient–in my opinion–to change beliefs in something beyond man. But, if you decide to reject some form of scientific testing you find cruel or unnecessary, I would be inclined to agree with you as I am sure there are plenty of unnecessary scientific practices which risk our livelihood.

        In a way, I feel this debate is moot. It’s like a court case without the defense or prosecution present. Consider faith a freedom we, hopefully, can have outside of “the law.” Some places don’t even allow this. I think that could be rather depressing and limiting to the little time we have on this planet however you choose to look at it.

        Telling people what aliens are like might just be fun theorizing. Just as “wise men” can formulate ideas of how the planets affect our behavior or fate. And, what if you were the only one who DID meet that alien? How would you convince anyone else to believe what you saw? Some might put faith in you as a friend. Others who don’t know you as well are inclined/expected to be skeptics.

        Pen me as “open to the possibility.” And, hopefully, by being more open with my faith, I can better bring the divided of the world together (though I am good at creating division by unintentionally pissing people off…human error).

      4. There was a lot to respond to here, and I’ll try to be brief. I don’t think that people become atheists because of other people. In other words, the actions of religious people are not what “drove me to atheism.” Yes, there will always be a few bad grapes in the bunch, but this goes for any group–including atheists. Therefore I do not let the behavior of anyone influence my values or beliefs. Even if every single religious person on earth kept quietly to themselves and was incredibly humble about their religion, I still wouldn’t be a believer because of the content of religions.

        I think the crux of the matter was brought out when you said this: “I draw my lines this way: There are those things controlled/impacted more by man. And, there are those controlled/impacted more by forces beyond man.” I can’t speak for all atheists, but it’s my general experience that we don’t believe that there is anything beyond man. That is to say there is nothing beyond the universe that we exist in.

        And that is the difference between people of faith and people of science, I feel. If a person of faith is presented with an unexplained or uncontrollable situation, they will assume that it is due to some power or force greater than them and beyond the laws of the universe–luck, fate, God, etc. A scientist, on the other hand, would close that gap in knowledge or ability by using the scientific process.

        I’m not trying to admonish people who believe that they are powerless or incapable in certain matters. People are free to believe whatever they want, everyone experiences things differently, and everyone has different abilities and limits. But that is not the view that science subscribes to, and it is not the view that an atheist subscribes to. I guess I would tend to say that I view science and atheism as embracing and expanding human potential, while I see faith and religion as limiting or denying it.

      5. When both (at least my) answers get long-winded, I start to worry I (or we) are giving this more time/energy than we should. Like I said, maybe it all boils down to choice. You follow what you do because of how your life has been impacted. And, I do the same. Except, I know my path is partly a choice that was initially made for me. I didn’t choose my faith. Yet, I also don’t subscribe to it with every bit of my being. I stand by the core beliefs. But, I am willing to be proven wrong by those parties involved (not by some scientist out to be “more right” which could be viewed as arrogant or self-serving as the religious folks who swear an old text is all fact). You might compare this to gossip versus getting the truth from the “horse’s” mouth. The only way I can disprove my faith is to find God or Jesus and get the full truth. But, I still make my choice. And, while I cannot and would not want to force my choice upon you or any who choose to be atheist, I merely express feelings/opinions when certain concepts mentioned irk me. Just as you were/are irked by those who stick religion in the faces of others and go as far as killing in the name of their god, I am bothered by those who (at least seem) to turn on their faiths by baptism/birth because of some human component who may represent or wear a faith label but are by no means the best example or only model of that faith.

        Some think of Shakespeare as a literary god. I have never understood his writing (other than one boring play). So, I choose not to believe in him as this god. I think he is a man of riddles which were, perhaps, once better understood or more commonly spoken.

        Saying you would still be an atheist even if all religious types were peaceful (not hostile) kinda counters or exceeds your previous statements. And, while you could claim to be a purely scientific person, you also made clear mention of concerns or peeves related to those very (hostile) types. Therein, your decision or belief may be impacted by them while my faith is not chosen because another faith irks me. I don’t choose Catholicism because I hate/distrust Scientology. And, if I can be open to both scientific proof and my faith, what does that say of atheists?

        I tell people I feel less of a lively person believing solely in what is at hand. I suppose, in a way, I am as bad as the scientists pursuing other worlds instead of dealing with what’s at hand. But, my methods aren’t as costly to others. I think those who commit suicide have resigned themselves to what is at hand. They have given up their beliefs in anything greater/elsewhere…unless it is their belief that their higher power will accept them into those heavenly hands at that time. But, I see life as a trial or marathon we must complete until some outside force takes us out. Anything less feels…sad and cowardly.

        You could spend a lifetime pursuing the science of some event. Einstein pursued a theory to encompass everything because everyone kept instilling in him this pursuit. “Go on, smart guy, keep coming up with these theories. You’re on a roll.” He died without achieving his “ultimate” goal. Sometimes, believing or thinking outside the science of things makes living more “at peace.” It may seem a lie or falsehood to some. But, everyone has their form of self-therapy. When they don’t use this therapy, they’re inclined to harm themselves.

        Also, don’t link atheist and scientist as one entity. I am sure there are religious scientists. I would say the Magi were a few.

      6. I would agree that there are religious scientists, but my overall point was that I don’t think you can be an atheist without science.

        I guess what this boils down to is that I’m a person who requires proof in order to believe in something. I probably should have just said that right off the bat and saved a lot of time and energy. Anyway, yes, some things about religion clearly peeve me, but I think I maintain objective about my views of religion as a whole. I don’t think religion itself promotes bible thumping or anything like that. A lot of my friends are people of religion or faith. I don’t think believing in God(s) or following a religion inherently makes someone “bad” or below atheists or anything like that. It’s just a different value system. It doesn’t happen to work for me, but it clearly works for them. And I’m not interested in taking that away from anyone.

      7. Actually, if you don’t believe in a god, you COULD also deny science. You COULD reject everything around you and really lock yourself away. I suppose this could drive the average person quite mad:P But, it’s possible. And, it’s possible someone out there neither supports scientific research nor follows a religion. I suppose “wizards” of the Earth (other than pagans/Wiccans who might still worship some unseen entity) might live in a way that is neither scientific nor religious. By being open to possibility, that in itself is a form of faith. I suspect it’s only when we become firm in a belief that it is labeled our religion. I suspect most of us, then, have slightly different shades of a religion.

    2. I would have to disagree with your definition of atheist. It is not a belief in “no god”. A theist is one who believes in the existence of god or gods, thus an atheist is one who does not believe in the existence of a god or gods. The prefix ‘a’ in the English language simply negates the meaning of the root word. Just like if an object that is symmetrical has at least one line of symmetry (perhaps more), and an object that is asymmetrical has no lines of symmetry. Another example would be typical and atypical. The prefix ‘a’ here simply negates the root word. The dictionary definition also supports my interpretation of “atheist”.

      An atheist does not have to believe there is no god because a god has not been proven to exist. For instance there are dogs. You can see them, touch them, hear them, taste them (if you’re Korean). I could thus believe there are no dogs, but that would just be belief and somebody could prove me wrong. Before I can wrongly believe there is no god, god would have to be proven to exist. If I assert the existence of something in the universe it is my job to prove it exists. If I cannot do so then no one is required to prove it doesn’t. This is why the god can never be proven to not exist, simply because it has never been proven to exist in the first place. Just saying something is there is not proof. The existence of such a being also has to be derived at through inductive reasoning. Meaning that without any prior knowledge of an omnipotent being evidence needs to be analyzed and god is the conclusion of that evidence. And as Ryan pointed out that conclusion has to be reached by numerous researchers who independently reach that conclusion with repeatable results. No such evidence exists.

      1. Compared to the guy who wrote the post and replied to my comment, yer an idiot. My dictionary strangely specifies God and dieties. I would assume all other gods outside Catholicism fall under that category. But, the dictionary specifies “God.” If I were to be as literal as you, a theist wouldn’t solely be a Catholic who believes in THE God with a capital “G.” A pagan could be a theist. A Hindu could be a theist. But, an Hindu is not an atheist. I not so long ago learned Buddhism is technically a form of atheism.

        But, don’t compare dogs to gods.

      2. I merely was pointing out the differences in responses. You speak with intelligence and grace. He did not. I realize it doesn’t help the peace. But, what he said rubbed me the wrong way. Apparently, my opinion/s had a similar impact on him.

      3. Name calling is always the sign of a person who has no valid argument. The fact that you have no logical retort to my comment is clear. I don’t know what dictionary you are using, but I agree, it is strange. Here is a link to the Oxford Dictionary definition for atheism: http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/us/definition/american_english/atheism

        Here is the Oxford Dictionary definition for theism:

        http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/us/definition/american_english/theism

        If you still have a complaint about the way these words are defined then I suggest you take it up with those who make the dictionary.

        And yes quite literally any religion can be theistic provided they believe in god or gods who intervene in the physical world. So pagans can be theists (although most likely many pagans would be deists instead of theists). And you don’t need to even belong to a particular religion as long as you believe in a supernatural being who has some influence in the physical world. No Hindus are not atheists, they are in fact theists. In fact many people incorrectly label Hinduism as believing in many gods, but it is actually monotheistic, they simply believe that god reveals himself in many forms. http://www.gitananda.org/faq/is-hinduism-polytheistic-or-monotheistic.html

        You seem fond of bringing knives to gunfights.

    3. If this band of atheists needs a guitar player I have lots of gigs under my belt.

      Seriously, you come here and pretty much second guess everything Ryan had to say, then finish up with a “your just in doubt.”

      If there was ever a great reason for a believer to leave a religion behind, you just demonstrated it. That sort of arrogance can only come from the mindset of religion, or some other authoritarian based societal strucure. The differences between us atheists and the TRUE believers, aren’t just the things we believe, but how we get there.

      1. I also questioned the nature of the quiz he took. I was not–if that is what you are insinuating–attacking his choices/answers. The quiz was faulty. I should/could have said nothing and let you all save your edgy attitudes and drugs.

        If you think I am one of those “bible thumper” types, you are sorely mistaken. I am REALLY sick of the word arrogance. And, that is not what I was displaying. Had I, I would have used a few more choice antagonistic words like a bully or jackass.

        Your rebuttal is to say, “Thems words can only come from one of you religious folks!” Well…I guess I am one of those religious folks. If you are against authority, then I guess you support chaos or anarchy? Do you like to make pipe and stink bombs, too?

        And, where are you getting or going with your atheism?

      2. You don’t have to be a bible thumper to be arrogant. Religion itself is a form of arrogance. It’s not a belligerent arrogance like bible thumping, but it’s an arrogance nonetheless. Religion proclaims to have all the answers to everything without any proof or evidence. If that isn’t arrogant, I don’t know what is.

        As scientists, at least atheists have the humility to say “We don’t know” in response to a question. A response I’ve never heard uttered from the mouth of a religious person.

      3. When you are arrogant about your faith (or use a faith you don’t truly follow to get your way/perks/paid), you are usually behaving like a “bible thumper.” Or, at least, that’s the label I use as it’s been most widely used by those I’ve met who have turned on their faiths.

        No, not every arrogant person or person who sticks firmly to their beliefs until it irks someone who overhears them is going to be a “bible thumper.” But, not every belief is religious.

        I disagree. Religion is not arrogance. Religion itself is a focus on a power outside oneself. Arrogance is what a person defends in favor of themselves. Often if not always, believers of a faith are placing their lives in the hands of another being. Is that claiming oneself as more important than the entity?

        I’m not sure I’ve ever heard any religious text claim to have the answers to everything…but there is the possibility that the deity upon which one turns to might know more than they know themselves.

        I think some throw the word arrogant around in defense when they feel smaller than someone or something else. It’s the old Napoleon complex of “you think you’re better than me?!” The little Chihuahua barking at the bigger dog just to avoid feeling afraid or inferior.

        Okay, so you have a scientist who says they don’t know, yet they will try even if it puts lives at risk…whether those are the lives of “lesser” animals (our natural neighbors/siblings of a sort) or other humans. I don’t put you or anyone at risk by choosing to believe in the possibility of something outside my knowledge. In fact, if you want to talk about arrogance, am I not the opposite by admitting I don’t have all the answers yet am open to possibilities? I just–as apparently you have chosen–choose to believe in a higher power and not put greater “faith” in anything man-made. It is my belief that humans are more often than not foolish. And, someone or something is waiting for us to get that through our heads, that we act in haste foolishly, to change our ways. I think…I believe any alien life we have not yet met is waiting, as well, for humanity to “wise up.” And, we are foolish to pursue other planets when we have yet to master our present one. And, in the meantime, it is costing us more than we dare imagine trusting scientists with our hard-earned money, blood, sweat and tears to risk everything on curiosities and greed.

      4. To be clear, I’m not talking about you specifically. I’m talking about religion and faith in general. I don’t really know where you fall on the faith spectrum. All of my statements come from general experience. Is not the purpose of any religious text of scripture to explain exactly why everything is the way it is? To explain what happens after we die? To explain why we exist in the first place?

      5. I don’t think any religious text is exact. As I said, there is “rumor” the texts have been laced with metaphors, fables/moral lessons and coded language. Some have used this to predict events (like the Magi) and build churches/temples by “the numbers.” Water may have been turned into wine. But, we can’t be sure of the amount. We have a rumor. This isn’t sufficient to turn on or wave a finger at the existence/nature of an entity quite possibly “grander” than we can conceive.

        Gosh, I can feel my brain popping with all sorts of metaphors that may not make sense on the surface. Now, I know we need to stop:P

        No living person (unless they HAVE had a genuine out of body experience or spoken with a higher power/spirit…which we cannot disprove) knows what happens after death. But, those who wrote about the experience either trusted their guts or amassed a theory. It’s also possible some just wrote fiction that was selected by some publisher as favorable and passed on. No matter how you paint it, I still believe a higher power beyond my understanding is possible if not certain. And, at the same time, I prefer not to think there is nothing more than what’s in front of me…if for no other reason than being so “scientific” limits my creativity and dampens my “spirit.”

        Just as we make different decisions than what our parents tell us as we get older, we make choices about what we believe. Again, we’re going in circles, here.

      6. Perhaps I should make the delineation with regard to fundamentalists. A lot of the religious people I deal with are fundamentalists who interpret everything literally.

        It doesn’t seem like you follow that line of thinking though, so I suspect that we actually probably agree of a fair amount of things when it comes to religious text and scripture.

      7. I’m glad you said “suspect” instead of “assume”:P…actually…probably…

        I do get irked by people who take some things literally. But, I could also be irked when people ignore what is literal and think more/otherwise of it. It’s the pesky matter of interpretation/perspective.

      8. Okay, lemme get this straight, you are religious, but not a bible thumper?

        Just because one will not bow to a supposed authority (religion) does not mean they support chaos and anarchy. That right there is a fine example of right wing Faux news, mouth breathing idiocy. Again, arrogance displayed by one who claims to have none. This time with a touch of ignorance. Put that in your stink bomb and smoke it.

        Where am I going with my atheism? Is there some sort of atheistic nirvana I should be looking for? Is there a killer travel destination for atheists? (if you say hell I will egg your house) Atheism isn’t about going somewhere, or being an atheist somebody. It is about having the freedom to evaluate the facts, and go where that takes you. It is about shedding the unnecessary baggage that so many carry around. It is about having the ability to step back from a claim or assertion that has no supporting evidence, and ask why the devil would anyone belive that claim or assertion based soley on someone else’s opinion or authority. It is about thinking for yourself, unhindered, uninfluenced, by those that would want you to join the hive mind. It is resisting the fucking Borg. It is viewing the world, the universe, as the cold, dark, uncaring place it really is. It is being thanful for every single sunrise, and every moment you can be with your kids and family. It is knowing your time is limited here and when the lights go out, thats it. There is nothing left of what was once you, except that part of you that lives on in your kids, and the memories of those close to you. It is about living every damned day knowing these things and behaving appropriately.

        That’s where my atheism is taking me. I am fine with it.

      9. Yes, you may consider me religious but not a “bible thumper.” I was classified a priest by my classmates because I was probably one of less than a dozen who took church seriously in school while the rest were disrespectful “delinquents.”

        I didn’t base my assessment of choosing chaos and
        anarchy solely on being atheist. It was another choice of words that led me to say that. I thought that was clear.

        Well, in terms of Buddhism, apparently, that IS the goal of that “non-theist” belief system. It’s all about making “good” decisions to improve the outcome of your death/next phase of life.

        I thought I made it clear I don’t use the H word. So, no, I would not recommend anything of that sort for a vacation for atheists. But, I know some old students who might have spent some time there.

        I consider myself religious but not bound solely to one fixed, tight little package of religious rules. No church is going to rule my life entirely. But, I respect all faiths that I can. When I am among Buddhists, I will try to respect their ways. Same goes for Muslims or Hindus. But, I will not let them change or harass me. And, if you prefer to believe in nothing but what comes out of a test tube, have at it. I hope you don’t turn into a chemical or zombie disaster. And, I hope your life is just as full of life if not better than mine. If you have trustworthy friends and love in your life, you’re going places.

        But, to me, those I’ve met who choose atheism seem to act without much conscience, doing as they please and standing more risk of committing suicide because nothing is stopping them from committing what some religions consider a crime. They simply took down the “ten commandments” to do as they please.

        I know some Catholics and Christian movements–not to mention Jehovah witnesses going door-to-door–who can get you down and make you feel oppressed. But, so can a boss on the job or the scientists with more “authority” than you. Coworkers or neighbors can be as bad of jerks as the religious folks that turn you away from your birth/given faith.

        Okay, you’re fine with it. Nuf said. Adios.

      10. “those I’ve met who choose atheism seem to act without much conscience, doing as they please and standing more risk of committing suicide because nothing is stopping them from committing what some religions consider a crime.”

        Ok…you are one sick puppy. Delusional at best, much worse at the worst. If that is what you see, it is because it is what you want to see.

        You have not even begun to approach enlightenment, you just think you have. I see what is trying to pass as an open mindedness, but you sir/ma’am are far from it.

        Your dogma is showing.

  4. Very well done sir. I fear that by the time I’d have got to question umpteen, I’d had just told em to stick it into an uncomfortable orifice. You can’t convince me they are doing anything with this information they are gathering, for anything other than to fine tune their dumbass arguments.

    Swarn, you make a good point.

    Ryan, your atheist definition is pretty much what I would consider a strong agnostic. So -1 point, you still get a 99 in my book. But wait! You did a great job of swerving outside the lanes they had set up for you. So a +10 for critical thinking skills, and a +5 for having the gumption to step outside the box and hold your ground.

    Extra fucking credit for the win!

  5. Okay, time for me to jump in here. 1) You act more in accordance with what you don’t believe (lack of belief). 2) You claim it’s not inconsistent to work against God’s existence by showing that he doesn’t exist. 3) You take issue with Christians creating policies and legislation you oppose. Yet you deny that atheism is a worldview because you don’t make decisions or choices based on your lack of belief in God. That’s not making sense to me. If you’re opposing policies and legislation based on the existence of God, then your actions are based on your lack of belief in God (and therefore atheism would be a worldview or religion). You certainly wouldn’t be opposing those policies if you believed in the existence of God and that his rules have our best interests in mind.

    I’m glad you’re 100% sure that science properly represents reality. I believe that too. I also believe God created an orderly world that is predictable and can be observed, and that’s why the first scientists, like Francis Bacon, were Christians and young earth creationists.

    You keep saying there’s zero evidence for the existence of God, but I have trouble with that viewpoint because it’s based entirely on a philosophical worldview and not science. I think there’s plenty of evidence for the existence of God; it’s just that unbelievers refuse to acknowledge it. I constantly provide evidence; therefore, there can’t be zero evidence for the existence of God. If, however, you said that you reject the evidence presented, then that would make more sense.

    I like your answer about truth: “that which is true is that which is observable, measurable, testable, and repeatable.” But I don’t think that describes evolution or the belief in the Big Bang. None of those are observable, measurable, testable or repeatable. Such beliefs are based on faith.

    It’s true that religion is predicated on the idea of faith, but the definition of faith isn’t “accepting something without evidence”. God tells us not to have blind faith, but to have a reason for the hope that lies within us (1 Peter 3:15-16). And he defines faith as being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see (Hebrews 11:1-2). And that’s why there’s certainty with faith. Evidence and faith work together.

    You’re opposed to Christianity affecting your life through legislation, but why? There will always be something affecting your life through legislation, so why should we have godless laws based on humanism? If we have those rules, laws and legislation imposed upon us, how is that an improvement? At least Biblical laws are based on morality, rightness and goodness. Why is that so bad? Wouldn’t the opposite lead to the kind of society we’d oppose? If Biblical laws oppose immorality, corruption, wickedness and evil, then why would anyone want to oppose them, only to usher in the kinds of things that will bring harm to the nation? That doesn’t make sense to me. But to oppose Christian legislation requires another type of imposition- that which you welcome based on your own political and religious beliefs; those which you seem to think should supersede the beliefs of others. So how is what you want any better? Atheism and secularism are imposed upon us as the result of the “separation of church and state” (which isn’t even in the Constitution). Atheists have indeed legislated their beliefs upon us, and that’s why we can’t teach creation in the classroom- not because it’s untrue, but because of legislation making it illegal. You claim that atheist beliefs are virtuous while condemning Christian-based legislation, yet these secular beliefs are just as guilty as the Christianity you’ve condemned.

    The belief that the world would be better off without religion is absurd (you even allude to this later on). Sure, there may be less killings based on religion and gods, but there would be increased killing for all other reasons. There would be territorial wars, domination, greed, etc. Survival of the fittest would cause nations to rise up against one another. People of different races would strive for power and domination. It’s crazy to think that the world would be a more peaceful place without religion, especially if there’s a real God who is righteous and holy and calls for peace and love. A godless society, however, has no basis for peace. It would lead to worse corruption. Murder might be frowned upon, but it wouldn’t be wrong or sinful. Without God, all hell would break loose (literally).

    You ask for proof that God exists. I don’t know if your response is genuine, but I’ll assume it is and offer one “proof” (as if such a thing exists). The first time that I really took a close look at a strand of DNA in biology class, I was overwhelmed by the complexity and beauty of it. And then to learn how it functions, and to learn about cells and how they work, I think this all speaks of a creator. None of this comes about by chance. When lightning strikes, we don’t run to that spot to see if it created any proteins or complex molecules that may have come to life. No. Even the simplest life forms are vastly complex. And this is what we’d expect if there was a God, and that’s why I suggest that every living thing we see cries out, proclaiming the existence of God. We wouldn’t expect anything so complicated to arise by pure chance. And to contemplate billions of years being the hero is a leap of faith.

    Regarding an immaterial God, I’d say that God is spiritual, and therefore he’s not physical the same way you and I are. But he’s also omnipotent and became fully human so that he could be a worthy sacrifice for our sins. Being spiritual doesn’t mean that God doesn’t exist. It just means that he exists in a different form. And being omnipotent means that he has the power to do whatever he chooses because he has all authority. Matthew 8:23-27 tells us that even the winds and the waves obey him.

    Moral absolutes: As a Christian, I wouldn’t say that all killing is wrong. Only unjustified killing is wrong, and that’s called murder. Justified killing is not wrong because it’s not murder. Therefore capital punishment isn’t wrong if the murder suspect is found guilty following a just trial. And that’s why killing in war isn’t necessarily wrong. Or self defense.

    Regarding God being morally bad, you claim he’s grossly incompetent for having to make a new covenant with man. But this viewpoint ignores what the Bible actually says. All of history is unfolding exactly as God planned. His prophecies have worked out, and even Satan couldn’t stop Jesus’ plan of salvation foretold in Genesis 3:15. The new covenant was part of the plan, not an afterthought.

    You say you’d be hard-pressed to be an atheist if God revealed himself physically, but he actually did that many times in the past, and still people refused to believe. People are stubborn. They refused to believe when Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, or when he performed miracles, healing the lame and blind, or when he rose from the dead. Pharaoh refused to believe in God despite all the miracles. So there’s no reason to think that a physical revelation would convert anyone into a believer.

    I disagree that atheism is rooted in science. The first scientists were young earth Christians who believed that God created a consistent universe that could be understood through observation. So science has nothing to do with atheism. And, once again, there’s plenty of evidence for the existence of God; I’m just not sure why you choose not to examine it. Christianity doesn’t possess that “open-mindedness” because God has given us certainty and assurance in our faith. Religion isn’t a “denier” of possibility, but accepts reality for what it is. And that’s part of the fun of being a Christian; we know what’s in store for us when we reach the end of our lives, and we look forward to that with eagerness and joy.

    1. I’m going to try to reply to each of your responses, but it’s very late, so forgive me if I ramble or meander.

      “You certainly wouldn’t be opposing those policies if you believed in the existence of God and that his rules have our best interests in mind.”

      So what? You would be opposing those policies if you were an atheist. I don’t really get what your statement is getting at other than the obvious fact that if we had the same viewpoint we’d agree with each other. But we don’t, which is why trying to legislate one over the other is inequitable. And no, atheism is not a world view. When I have to make a decision, never have I ever thought to myself, “Well, since there is no God obviously I will do x,” or “Well a good atheist would do Y,” or “Since the bible is wrong obviously Z is the correct choice.” Atheism does not inform my morals. In fact, atheism doesn’t inform my world at all. How could it? How could something that doesn’t exist lead to a worldview?

      “I like your answer about truth.”

      I’m glad we agree about something 😛 (even if I disagree with the part about God having created such a quantifiable world).

      “If, however, you said that you reject the evidence presented, then that would make more sense.”

      Fine, I guess this is me formally saying I reject it. Although, I have never seen scientific evidence that God exists. The only “evidence” I see for God’s existence is a lack of explanation, ie “Well how else can you explain _____?” Or the classic, “All the evidence you need of God’s existence is the beauty of the sunset.” In short, the only evidence I’ve seen offered as to the existence of God is essentially, “We don’t know ____, therefore God did it,” or my personal favorite, “The bible says it so it must be so.” Of course none of that is really “evidence” in the scientific sense of the word. But as philosophical evidence or spiritual proof or whatever you want to call it, no, I cannot accept it.

      “It’s true that religion is predicated on the idea of faith, but the definition of faith isn’t “accepting something without evidence”. God tells us not to have blind faith, but to have a reason for the hope that lies within us (1 Peter 3:15-16)”

      Not to be snarky, but what else besides blind faith would you call believing in something you can’t see, hear, touch, taste or feel? You’d kind of have to believe blindly in a being that lives beyond space and time, would you not?

      “But to oppose Christian legislation requires another type of imposition- that which you welcome based on your own political and religious beliefs; those which you seem to think should supersede the beliefs of others. So how is what you want any better? Atheism and secularism are imposed upon us as the result of the “separation of church and state”

      That’s patently false. Atheism is not at all imposed upon you in any way, shape or form. Nobody has legislated atheism onto you. In order for somebody to have legislated atheism, it would have to be a law that you can’t practice religion at all, anywhere. To my knowledge, no such law exists. To my knowledge, there is no law trying to get churches torn down. To my knowledge, there is no atheist legislation trying to mandate that evolution be taught in Sunday school so that kids can “hear both sides of the story.” Your claim is completely unfounded–there is no atheist legislation or movement that exists which seeks to prevent you from having your faith or from practicing it. Nobody is trying to take away your right to believe whatever you want. But Christians are certainly interested in telling you what you can’t do with your body, who you can or can’t marry, etc.

      “At least Biblical laws are based on morality, rightness and goodness.”

      Why can’t we have laws promoting goodness without religion? Why is “thou shalt not steal so sayeth the lord” somehow more effective than “Don’t steal?” You don’t need religion to arrive at any conclusions that benefit society as a whole. I think we can all agree that stealing, murdering, and raping are bad. I can do without all crap that comes along with that with Christianity though, like about how homosexuals are abominations and a woman’s uterus makes Jesus weep. Come to think of it, ideas like banning killing, stealing, and raping are not unique to Christianity, so stop acting like you own them. Plenty of cultures around the world that existed long before Jesus walked the earth had already figured that shit out. And what biblical laws? I assume you’ll only pick the good ones, and leave out the bad ones. Which makes no sense if the bible is the infallible, literal word of God. So if you’re going to throw in the bits you like, why not include the other parts. You know, like stoning people for working on Sunday, owning slaves, women are property, etc. It’s all in the bible, therefore those things must be moral and just, right?

      “Sure, there may be less killings based on religion and gods, but there would be increased killing for all other reasons. There would be territorial wars, domination, greed, etc. Survival of the fittest would cause nations to rise up against one another. People of different races would strive for power and domination.”

      With all due respect, that’s idle speculation. There’s zero evidence to lead anyone to conclude that without religion killing would INCREASE. What in history leads you to believe that? Unless you have a machine that let’s you travel to alternate universes that I’m not aware of.

      “People of different races would strive for power and domination.”

      Oh, you mean how different religions went to war and slaughtered countless people for power and domination? Yeah.

      “A godless society, however, has no basis for peace.”

      Why? This is just your opinion. I think the drive to NOT die is a pretty strong motivator. I think people would probably choose the economic prosperity that peace brings instead of the poverty that war brings. You’re not giving human beings enough credit here. Plus, I think you’d have a hard time telling the people who died in the Crusades that it was peaceful. The Inquisition wasn’t all the peaceful, either, come to think of it. And neither is suicide bombing or flying planes in skyscrapers.

      As touching as your DNA story is, complexity is not an argument. Where in the bible does it mention the universe being complex? Where did God ever say “behold my magnificently complex creation.”? For being so “divinely and miraculously complex” life sure is inefficient. That DNA you so fondly speak of, for one thing, is really prone to a lot of errors. Complexity is completely subjective. Where you see complexity, I and others do not. So what is that supposed to prove to us? Other than your own subjective experience.

      “All of history is unfolding exactly as God planned.”

      And, as I’ve argued before, it’s a grossly over complicated and incompetent plan. You don’t need to be an omnipotent being beyond time and space to see that there is usually an easier, simpler way for God to do things. The ONLY way I would ever buy this explanation is if God is just bored and seeking to entertain himself.

      “You say you’d be hard-pressed to be an atheist if God revealed himself physically, but he actually did that many times in the past, and still people refused to believe. People are stubborn. They refused to believe when Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, or when he performed miracles, healing the lame and blind, or when he rose from the dead. Pharaoh refused to believe in God despite all the miracles. So there’s no reason to think that a physical revelation would convert anyone into a believer.”

      The problem is that I didn’t see any of that. And, as you’d be apt to point out based on previous arguments you’ve made, if I didn’t see it with my own eyes, how can I KNOW that it happened? I can’t. I’ve always found it profoundly strange that there is a point in time where, beforehand, God was content to perform miracles and speak to people and reveal himself at the drop of the hat, and then after that point–poof!–he just ups and disappears, so to speak.

      “I disagree that atheism is rooted in science. The first scientists were young earth Christians who believed that God created a consistent universe that could be understood through observation.”

      Come on, now. Science 500 years ago looked a hell of a lot different than it does now. Your statement is disingenuous at best; it would be like me saying that the Republican party of today and the Republican party of 1860 are the same. They not.

      1. My point about opposing policies was meant to point out the hypocrisy. Atheists do the very things they accuse Christians of. Therefore, they shouldn’t complain if they’re only going to demand and impose their own secular laws. And if they do, then we have every right to enact and maintain the laws we want. It may not be equitable, but at least our laws will do the most good for the most people.

        Atheism is a worldview and a religion. Just read their definitions. And, as you’ve already demonstrated, you do say, “Well, since there is no God, obviously I will oppose Christian-centered legislation.” Your comments often center around an atheist worldview. A worldview is the way someone thinks about the world, and you think about it from an atheist point of view. That’s pretty obvious. And atheism does inform of your morals- it tells you that truth and morality are subjective and relative (rather than absolute), does it not?

        Thanks for formally rejecting the evidence for creation. I respect that. But I’ve never used the argument, “Well, how else can you explain _ _ _ _?” Or “God did it”. I think I’ve been pretty specific.

        Believing in a God that I can’t see is more than blind faith because I’ve seen God work in other people and myself. I also have a personal relationship with Jesus; I know Jesus like I know my own family and friends. I’ve seen the power of prayer, and I see how history is connected to the Bible; I see how science compliments the Bible. Archaeology confirms the Bible. It’s a whole lot of factors that confirm my faith.

        Yes, atheism is imposed upon us. Such laws have removed prayer from school, or from mentioning evidence for creation, or for criticizing evolution. Therefore, as a result of imposing atheism on all American students, they are being instilled with secular values; it’s no wonder our education system is in shambles, and why we have so many murders and violence. We became the greatest nation in the world as a result of Christianity, and now that we’re a post-Christian nation, we’re well on our way to becoming a third-world nation.

        Without getting into the whole homosexual argument, I’ll just say that it’s not natural (even if one can provide a few examples, such as bonobos). It can’t sustain a population. America has a right to define marriage in a way that is most beneficial and ideal for the family unit. And Perhaps other nations have figured out that the idea of murder, stealing and rape are wrong, but they’re borrowing it from a Christian worldview. If God is real, then he’s written right and wrong on our hearts, and that’s why we know right from wrong.

        Okay, you threw out some hardballs. Why don’t Christians call for stoning people for working on Sunday? It’s not that such a law would be wrong, but it’s that we live during the new covenant. Prior to Christ, God demonstrated his judgment and wrath with justice. Justice means that it was necessary to enforce the penalty for sin because the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23). But God is also merciful and forgiving, so after Jesus paid the penalty for our sin, he now demonstrates his mercy by withholding the punishment we deserve. And that’s why we no longer stone people for violating the Sabbath. We’d be justified to do so, but God calls us to extend mercy and forgiveness (Matthew 9:13). And God never commanded that slaves or women be abused or treated poorly; on the contrary, he commanded they be treated with respect and justice.

        If I’m speculating that all other forms of killing will increase in a religionless society (as if atheism isn’t a religion), then isn’t it speculation to assume otherwise? It only makes sense that other forms of killing would increase. Mankind is sinful, greedy, selfish, and will covet and kill to get what they want. Without God, who’d stop them from doing what comes naturally? There would be no accountability, except to their fellow man, and that’s never been much of a deterrent. Those with power would have no reason to be just and fair. They would resort to whatever corruption they could get away with. Most politicians do that now. But what if no politician believed in God? Further, can you think of a single nation with no religion at all? I can’t. So it’s kind of hard to come up with a case study. But about 60% of the people of the Czech Republic have no religion, yet there have been 7 wars involving them since 1990. Not exactly the utopia, huh? We can also see how badly evolution influenced communist nations, and more humans have died as a result of such a worldview under Stalin, Mao, Lenin, Hitler, Trotsky than all the religious wars combined.

        Perhaps someday we can do a case study here in the United States. Maybe we can put all Christians in one part of the U.S, all atheists in another, and all other religions in a third. And then observe what happens over the next 25 years. That would be quite interesting.

        Yeah, I don’t give humans much credit because we’re all sinners. That’s why God wiped out mankind with the flood (except Noah and his family). And even you have admitted how crappy humans are.

        I think the complexity of DNA is a fine example. Yes, it’s subjective- but so is the idea that DNA is inefficient and prone to a lot of errors. Secular science used to believe life was simple. Supposedly we came from “primordial slime.” Secular scientists used to believe life arose spontaneously from meat until creation scientist Louis Pasteur demonstrated that that wasn’t true. But now we can see how complex a simple strand of DNA is, and we know that life couldn’t come about on its own through chance. Life only comes from life. Every time. No exceptions. The most logical conclusion is that the Bible is correct: God created life. Occam’s Razor applies, and secular science violates this rule.

        God hasn’t disappeared. He’s working right now and still performing miracles to this day. I’ve heard many stories of healings and miracles from people I believe to be genuine. Maybe you’re just at the wrong place at the wrong time 😉

        Sure, the science of 500 years ago is different, but, nonetheless, atheism isn’t rooted in science, unless you’re talking about a distorted view of science.

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