Is the Early Creed of First Corinthians 15 Sufficient Evidence to Believe in the Bodily Resurrection of Jesus?

Image result for image of thomas sticking his finger in the wounds of jesus

 

The Early Creed (found in First Corinthians 15):

For I handed on to you as of first importance what I in turn had received:

-that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures,

-and that he was buried,
-and that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures,
-and that he appeared to Cephas,
-then to the twelve.
-Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers and sisters at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have died.
-Then he appeared to James,
-then to all the apostles.
– Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me.

 

Gary:

Almost every conservative Christian argument for the historicity of the bodily resurrection of Jesus begins with a big assumption: that the Gospels are primary source documents written by eyewitnesses or the associates of eyewitnesses. The problem for conservative Christians is that the majority of Bible scholars say that this assumption is FALSE. Here is a link to a list of scholars, including conservative Christian scholar Richard Bauckham, confirming this majority consensus position:

https://lutherwasnotbornagaincom.wordpress.com/2016/11/08/majority-of-scholars-agree-the-gospels-were-not-written-by-eyewitnesses/

Without confirmed eyewitness testimony, the alleged detailed appearance stories of a resurrected Jesus as found in the Gospels are nothing more than unconfirmed hearsay. The strength of the evidence for this supernatural event is indeed very, very weak.

 

Robert, conservative Christian:

Gary, I would disagree that the argument for the bodily resurrection of Jesus begins with the Gospels as the primary source. I would argue that the best source is 1 Cor 15 which provides the earliest evidence for the resurrection. You could still affirm the resurrection of Jesus from this passage alone – without reference to any of the Gospels. This considerably weakens your objection.

 

Gary:

The Early Creed does not provide any details regarding what these eyewitnesses allegedly “saw” appear to them. Maybe what they all saw was just a bright light which they mistook for an appearance of Jesus. Without the Gospels as eyewitness sources, you are left with appearance claims completely devoid of any description of anyone seeing a walking/talking/broiled-fish eating corpse.

 

Robert:

The creed says that they saw Jesus alive. What would convince them to think that he was alive when he really wasn’t?

 

Gary:

Please quote the part of the Early Creed in which even one of the eyewitnesses say that they saw Jesus “alive”?

 

Robert:

I’m not quite sure I follow. The part here: “that he was raised on the third day” could be interpreted in no other way by Jews.

Similarly: that he appeared to Cephas,

-then to the twelve.
-Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers and sisters at one time, most of whom are still alive.

Thanks, Robert

 

Gary:

It is true that some Jews in the first century believed in a bodily resurrection, but not all Jews. The question is: What did the earliest (Jewish) Christians, the ones who claimed to have received an appearance from Jesus, believe?

We know from the writings of Paul that the concept of resurrection was still in dispute during his time. If all Christians in the mid 50’s (when Paul was writing to the Corinthians) believed in Paul’s concept of “bodily resurrection”, Paul would not have had to have spent so much time in his epistles explaining it.  The concept of “resurrection” was not clearly defined among all Christians even twenty years after Jesus’ death!

The bottom line is this: We have no idea what the earliest Christians saw nor what they believed about what had happened to Jesus.  All we know is that they believed that Jesus had appeared to them…in some fashion.

The anonymous author of Acts tells us that Paul saw a bright light on the Damascus Road. He never says that Paul saw a body. But the fact is this:  we really have no idea what Paul saw because Paul never tells us in his own epistles what exactly he “saw” when he says, “Have I not seen the Christ”.

For the last two thousand years, thousands of Christians have seen bright lights and believed it to be Jesus, so why couldn’t this have been the case with the original “eyewitnesses”?

Image result for image of a bright light as jesus
Jesus?

 

 

 

 

 

End of post.

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63 thoughts on “Is the Early Creed of First Corinthians 15 Sufficient Evidence to Believe in the Bodily Resurrection of Jesus?

  1. Early creeds simply tell us what some of the earliest Christians believed. Creeds, that is statements of faith, don’t become true simply because they are early, or a prominent belief. They’re still propositions, and all propositions can be false. I doubt the Shahada of Islam, which is also an early creed, would sway Christians that there is only Allah, and Muhammad is his messenger.

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  2. I wrote in a recent post that the entire episode is told from a Christian perspective to the almost total exclusion of the Romans and more pertinently, Pilate.
    It would have become known that Jesus was running around for two days let alone forty and therefore it is unthinkable that Pilate would not have heard.
    He was known for his brutality and even if the stories were simply rumours he would had no qualms hauling in any number of followers for interrogation, not least of them would have been Joseph of Arimathea to whom he had granted permission to take the body in the first place.

    The entire episode is palpable fiction, and so utterly ridiculous it beggars belief that anyone who has any regard for history at all would still try to defend this nonsense

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    1. That is a very good point about Joseph of Arimathea, Ark. Joseph had assumed responsibility for the body so if it is true that the tomb was empty and hundreds of people were claiming to have seen that same body popping up all over Judea and Galilee, one would think Arimathea would have been in very hot water with Pilate. But alas, J. of A. is never mentioned again in the entire New Testament! And while all this turmoil would have been occurring, what were the disciples doing? Hiding out in the hills? No. Not according to the Gospels of Matthew and John. The disciples were back in Galilee, tending their nets, as if nothing had ever happened. Pilate and Herod would have had them all arrested on suspicion of stealing the body and perpetrating a public fraud!

      I agree. There is a strong smell of BS (fiction) here.

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      1. When one considers how he was mobbed and feted upon his arrival in Jerusalem and even before, how he could hardly go anywhere without being mobbed – all according to the gospels. (Feeding the 4 and 5 thousand as a perfect example) it would be idiotic to even suggest that the Romans were not aware of him.
        During Passover week every Roman soldier would have been ordered to be on high alert for even a whiff of trouble, much like any major event police and other branches of security often round up potential troublemakers beforehand..

        So when people like Habermas trot out the empty Tomb crap the Roman reaction is never mentioned.
        In fact it simply isn’t part of the the story at all, as if they were completely insignificant.
        Yeah, Pilate would sit back and be made to look like a complete arse just like the ”Release Brian” scene in Life of Brian.
        No, I really don’t think so.

        And if oral tradition is how the tale initially spread, and if the final verses in John about all Jesus’ exploits are true then it must have spread through the community like wildfire.

        So one has to ask: Would someone like Pilate really have sat back and done nothing?

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  3. Gary,

    I have read some of your entries. I haven’t read any of Bart Ehrman’s books, but I have watched a few of his talks and interviews in youtube (including a couple about “Misquoting Jesus”). Importantly I have watched Ehrman debating several Christian apologists (notably William Lane Craig) and I have to say that while he -Ehrman- makes great points, they are only effective against uninformed Christians who have spend their lives navel-gazing without looking too much outside their parochial bubbles. But I can say that the same is true of atheists brought up in secular homes. I can point to several conversion stories of learned, un-churched atheists who became believers later in life. The issue of uninformed believers is as old as Christianity itself. Take for example this passage,

    “Now, it is a disgraceful and a dangerous thing for an infidel to hear a Christian, presumably giving the meaning of Holy Scripture, talking nonsense on these topics; and we should take all means to prevent such an embarrassing situation, in which people show up vast ignorance in a Christian and laugh it to scorn.”

    You’d think these words come from some 21st century theologian who is expressing dismay at something he has heard a Christian say but in fact, this is St Augustine -who lived in 4th century AD- admonishing the ignorant Christians of his day.

    I have been a Christian believer, then an atheist -and a very obnoxious one at that- and then a believer again. I am also in my middle age years and I can say that I have never felt more strongly that Christianity is true all while at the same time I admit that sometimes I have doubts. But experiencing doubt is also part of being a mature believer. Only the simple minded and parochial (believers and atheists alike) have 100% certainty of things and never experience doubt. There is no other religion on Earth like Christianity in which it’s God who does something for his creatures out of pure love for them. That’s what sets Christianity apart from other world views (including atheism and its several humanist traditions).

    Related to 1st Corinthians 15, only if somebody where to show me incontrovertible evidence that Jesus did not rise from the dead -such as his bones- I would reconsider my belief in Jesus. Even Ehrman says that those who claim that the historical Jesus didn’t exist are seriously wrong. So the challenge is simple: find me the bones of Jesus and I’ll stop believing the entire thing.

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    1. @LMCS Lutheran

      Why would you start with the position that Jesus rose from the dead, and expect the rest of the world to prove such an idea as false? Your falsification criteria for Christianity are so narrow that there’s pretty much no chance that somebody could ever falsify it, but that doesn’t mean that such beliefs are justified.

      You may have been an atheist (that isn’t really hard), but I don’t believe you were ever a skeptic, or have actually thought critically about what you now accept.

      I’m curious, what was it that caused you to convert back to Christianity?

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Hi! Welcome to the blog. Thank you for your comment.

      You said, ” I can say that I have never felt more strongly that Christianity is true all while at the same time I admit that sometimes I have doubts.” I became a Lutheran because I was weary, as an evangelical, of measuring my faith and my salvation by my “feelings” of the presence of Jesus in my heart. Feelings, perceptions, and private personal experiences are notoriously unreliable methods of determining universal truths. I prefer EVIDENCE. Good, old fashioned, objective evidence.

      I loved conservative (confessional) Lutheranism because my salvation was based on objective evidence—my baptism—not my subjective feelings of a “presence” inside me. In addition, unlike evangelicalism, Lutheranism can trace its roots and core doctrines to the apostolic, 2,000 year old, Catholic church. And the evidence for the veracity of those teachings and doctrines could be found not only in the Bible but in the writings of the Church Fathers. And since the majority of the Christian Scriptures (the New Testament) was written by eyewitnesses; eyewitnesses who were willing to suffer torture and death for their claim that they had seen with their own two eyes a walking/talking/broiled fish eating resurrected Jesus, I believed that my conservative Lutheran Christian faith was based on very solid objective evidence.

      Until…I found out that the Gospels, the Book of Acts, half of Paul’s epistles, and the rest of the New Testament were most likely NOT written by eyewitnesses, but non-eyewitness Christians writing in far away lands many decades later.

      The foundation of my belief system cracked. Big time.

      And after four months of studying the Bible with open eyes, I came to realize that traditional Christianity, whether Lutheran, Roman Catholic, or Orthodox, is built upon numerous assumptions, conjecture, and…superstition. Lots of superstition. I came to realize that my cherished faith was nothing more than…a big house of cards.

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  4. Gary,

    Thank you for your warm welcome and for sharing your thoughts. I have heard critiques along those lines before. There are two key words in operation here that I assume, based on what you said, will lead us to agree to disagree. The first one is epistemology. The second one is scientism. I do not share the view that scientific evidence is the only valid form of evidence and that all knowledge that is not scientific is invalid. I say this as somebody who happens to be a hard scientist. The word “science” gets thrown around these days to mean many things, but to me science means both applying the scientific method and having predictive power in falsifiable experiments.

    I am an LCMS Lutheran, but as you probably know not all LCMS Lutherans are alike. In fact, this is true of every denomination in my experience: there is a common core that makes people prefer to be say Lutheran vs Methodist or Catholic, but there is also a lot of disagreement among them. My view on the Bible is that it is a book of theology whose mission is to convey God’s message to humanity: the old testament as it pertains to tell the story of the people of Israel as His chosen people to bring about the birth, death and resurrection of Jesus; the new testament tells us about the new covenant. There are many analyses that have been made on the reliability of the books of the new testament and I believe they definitely tell the story of the life of Jesus and the apostolic age. There might be some minor disagreements among the different accounts -like those pointed out by Ehrman’s “Misquoting Jesus”- but they do not alter the narrative they convey. I am sure that you are aware of these, but for those who might not be, I just want to point out for example the discovery of the so called “Pilate stone” in the 1960s. Until then, there were plenty of mentions of Pilate (both inside and outside the biblical accounts) but no physical evidence of his existence. More recently, there was an archeological discovery of a crucified cadaver in Italy that confirms many of the details of how the gospels describe crucifixions happen. I could go on forever, but you get an idea.

    Importantly. I consider faith a valid epistemological way of knowing on spiritual matters. It is not an independent way of knowing because, as I said, I would reconsider my Christian faith if the bones of Jesus were to be found, but I do not buy the theory of the supremacy of hard science over all other ways of knowing. Hard science is great to learn about the inner workings of the natural world. It tells as very little about other things that also matter to humans such as love, relationships, the arts, etc.

    I am looking forward to reading more of what you write.

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    1. I believe that the scientific method (science) is the best method yet discovered by humans for determining universal truths. I do not suggest that science is the best method to determine subjective truths such as whether or not my wife truly loves me. If Christianity were strictly a personal belief system (such as a form of meditation) that did not affect others, I would probably have no problem with it. But that is not the case. Christians attempt to impose their subjective truths on everyone else in society; they attempt to impose subjective truths on everyone as if their subjective beliefs are universal truths.

      I cannot prove that the scientific method is THE one true method of determining universal truths, only that so far it is the most reliable in determining universal truths. Science has forced Christians to reinterpret their “holy” book time and time again, not the reverse. That should tell you something.

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  5. @Atheist Lehman

    I was both an atheist and a skeptic. In fact, I am still a skeptic. But all people make all sorts of assumptions all the time. Even hard core atheists/skeptics have faith that the laws of physics are immutable and that they are not going to change in a couple of seconds even though it is impossible to prove one way or another. So we all have faith in something. The disagreement lies on the things we have faith on.

    As to what made me come back. There are usually two kind of events that make people reconsider atheism and they have to do with the beginning and end of life. In my case it was the latter. I had the misfortune of losing a couple of people who were very close to me over a short period of time. The emotional experience of having to confront death and the lack of answers of atheism did the trick. In my way back to faith I did a lot of work to study the reasons for belief beyond my own desire that there must be a grand master plan that makes sense of the absurdity of being. I reached the conclusion that of all the possible explanations of why we are here and why there is something instead of nothing, atheism was the most absurd of them all. This notion of “being” having no explanation is one of the biggest scams that today’s intellectuals perpetrate on humans. I do not doubt of its popularity among top notch academics, but then again, given that eugenics was also popular among academics in the first half of the XX-th century, and that before that astrology was the thing top intellectuals believed in, ours would be the first generation of elite academics that doesn’t believe in nonsense. Thus, my take is that taking a holistic view of human history, it is very likely that the atheist academics are the ones who are deluded with their own nonsensical beliefs of the current age. Believing in a supreme being that holds everything together is in fact a very rational conclusion. Note that I am not getting into idiotic debates about evolution, which I consider to be red herrings that distract from the important questions. Whether evolution is true or false has no bearing on the question of why there is something instead of nothing.

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    1. @LCMS Lutheran
      You: But all people make all sorts of assumptions all the time

      Me: Yes, everyone needs to make certain assumptions, however, but not all assumptions are equally justified. This is a tired refrain that tends to come out of supernaturalists, but doesn’t really stand up to scrutiny. Assuming that the supernatural exists, and has any ability to interact with our world, is very different from our continuous observation that the laws of nature remain the same. One of these is the basis for science and has given us every single scientific advancement. The other has given us very little, and produced much pseudoscience.

      You: The emotional experience of having to confront death and the lack of answers of atheism did the trick

      Me: The fact that atheism doesn’t answer any questions is not a bug, but rather a limitation of exactly what atheism is. Atheism is simply the rejection of the claim that any gods exist. It says nothing about the origin of life, morality, meaning, purpose, or anything else. At best, all that atheism can say about these topics is that gods are not the reason. The fact that atheism cannot provide you with answers is not a reason to reject it, and it certainly doesn’t justify belief that a god exists to explain it.

      You: I reached the conclusion that of all the possible explanations of why we are here and why there is something instead of nothing, atheism was the most absurd of them all.

      Me; Atheism, at best, only says that the reason were here is not because of any gods. Again, atheism is not something that tries to explain the world, it’s just thew rejection of a claim. I find it slightly concerning that you tried to turn atheism into a worldview, as you cannot create a worldview based on atheism (for the record, you can’t build a worldview on theism either.) There are worldviews that are compatible with atheism, but atheism itself isn’t what you make it out to be.

      You:This notion of “being” having no explanation is one of the biggest scams that today’s intellectuals perpetrate on humans.

      Me: Assuming that you’re talking about why the universe exists, we don’t know. I understand that humans have an innate desire for cognitive closure, and don’t like not having answers to important questions, but leaping at an answer that isn’t justified isn’t the right way to go either. Jumping at “God is the reason” doesn’t get us any closer to the truth until you can actually establish that your God exists.

      You: Believing in a supreme being that holds everything together is in fact a very rational conclusion.

      Me: Except that we have no reason to believe that this “supreme being” actually exists, aside from our strong desire to find an agency.

      You: And in fact, the historical record is very much against atheism when it comes to who is the worst offender. Atheist regimes have killed more people throughout history than all theocracies combined (including Islamic theocracies).

      Me: Nobody kills because they reject that gods exist. While this line of argument is popular, it’s complete nonsense. I’d like to point out that communistic governments are effectively non-religious theocracies. The state is “god”, and the idea that the state is god is not one that can be questioned. Those who dare to criticize the idea are seen as deserving of death.

      https://infidels.org/kiosk/article/communism-is-religion-238.html

      You:Whether evolution is true or false has no bearing on the question of why there is something instead of nothing.

      Me: Agree 100%. Evolution doesn’t offer any explanation as to why the universe exists, and I’ve never had the pretense that it did. Why does the cosmos exist? I don’t know, and I’m willing to accept that and not inject some highly speculative answer onto the problem. Like I said, you can be an atheist, it’s easy to do (all you have to do is reject the claim that any gods exists), but reading your response, I’m convinced that you aren’t a good skeptic, and that some of your epistemological foundation is questionable.

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    2. The emotional experience of having to confront death and the lack of answers of atheism did the trick.

      As per every single convert I have ever come across – belief because of the inability to deal with one form or another of emotional trauma.
      Francis Collins return to evangelical Christianity followed very much the same path.

      Atheism most certainly does provide answers! We die, the body decomposes. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust – remember?

      Not having an answer you felt comfortable with is a problem you were unable to deal with in the real word. Therefore you opted to return to god-belief and in particular the christian god, the biblical character, Jesus of Nazareth.

      This return to faith has absolutely no bearing on fact and has no evidence to support it.
      People die all the time.

      What you suffer from is called death anxiety which is a recognised psychological disorder.

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    3. Your conversion (back) to Christianity sounds to me to be based on two factors:

      1. Emotions: The thought of death troubled you. You wanted there to be a purpose to your life. So you went looking for it and you found the “answer” that is most ubiquitous in your culture: Christianity. If you were in a Muslim culture you probably would have turned to the Koran. Human beings like to feel safe. Human beings like to feel important; they want to believe that they matter. A world based on natural selection and genetic drift is of no comfort. It is cold and harsh. It is scary. Believing that there is an all-powerful superhero-like being watching out for you in this life, and who after your death will fly you to his wonderful Never Never Land is incredibly appealing.

      2. Common sense: Common sense tells us that something cannot come from nothing. Every something in our experience has a cause, so it only makes sense to believe that the universe has a cause. And since the universe operates so smoothly following the laws of physics, that cause must be intelligent: A Creator God.

      I would suggest that emotions and common sense are not the best methods to determine universal truths. We each know that when we have made decisions in the past based solely on emotions, we often regret those decisions. In addition, common sense has been proven wrong time and time again. For millennia, human beings believed (due to common sense) that the sun revolves around the earth. Each one of us sees the sun come up in the East and set in the West each and every day. So there are millions of eyewitnesses who could testify that the sun revolves around the earth. But those millions would be wrong, wouldn’t they.

      I do not claim that a non-supernaturalist world view is the prettiest or the most comforting. I only claim that it is very probably…the truth.

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  6. Gary,

    Two things:

    – On the issue of the universality of the scientific method, I recommend you read the book “Monopolizing Knowledge” by MIT professor Ian Hutchinson on the topic. There are also several of his talks available in youtube where he discusses the content of the book. I largely agree with Hutchinson’s take on the matter.

    – On the issue of Christians seeking to impose their views on other people, everybody does that, including the atheists. Everybody has a philosophical motivation behind his/her opinions on different issues (particularly when it comes to the ballot box). Even atheists! And in fact, the historical record is very much against atheism when it comes to who is the worst offender. Atheist regimes have killed more people throughout history than all theocracies combined (including Islamic theocracies). So if I am given a choice between being ruled by atheists seeking to impose their views on society at large or religious people seeking to do the same, I take the religious bunch! In reality, I prefer what we have in the United States: strict separation of church and state. But that doesn’t mean preventing people from expressing their religious views in the public sphere. All I want to emphasize is that this notion that only religious people are motivated by their worldview is a straw man.

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  7. @Atheist Lehman

    I think we are very much in agreement that the best course is to agree to disagree. I will only add a couple of comments related to “I’m convinced that you aren’t a good skeptic, and that some of your epistemological foundation is questionable”. That’s your opinion but as they say, opinions are like a-holes. Everybody has one.

    Now seriously, take the issue that some assumptions are more justified than others. The assumption that the laws of physics will be valid 2 seconds from now as they have been valid in the past runs quickly into the problem of induction (ie, whether induction leads to valid knowledge). This issue was discussed at length by David Hume, who is not suspect of being a religious zealot. The assumption that induction -as a principle- leads to valid knowledge is onto itself a dogma. You might want to say that it is shared by very smart people, etc, but that onto itself would be an argument that appeals to “popularity among smart people”. As I said, smart people -particularly those at the top of the power pyramid- have been very wrong in the past, so such an argument is not very comforting. Now, I do believe that the laws of physics won’t change 2 seconds from now. Not only because we have past empirical verification, but also because it fits very well the idea of a rational universe created by a rational supreme being. The key point here is that just because some dogma is shared by many smart people, said dogma doesn’t become more justified than other dogmas. And the point here too is that we all have dogmas, otherwise we wouldn’t be able to interact with the world.

    Then take the idea that regimes like the Soviet Union were not atheist regimes. I am afraid you haven’t read your source material from Marx and his followers (Lenin, Stalin). Atheism was an intrinsic part of what the Soviet Union stood for. In fact, the slaughtering of people of faith, particularly clergy, as an intrinsic part of these regimes’ attempts to create an atheist utopia on Earth. Going back to your critique of my epistemology, you are arguing in favor of atheism as if we were in the 1910s, before we had the knowledge of what the Soviet Union, Mao’s China or Pol Pot’s Cambodia produced in the next 80 years.

    I am in pretty solid ground, enjoying both the spiritual peace of mind that comes with being a follower of Jesus Christ and the results of rational thinking that comes with God’s gift to humans that is absent in animals: a rational mind.

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    1. You: “The assumption that induction -as a principle- leads to valid knowledge is onto itself a dogma.”

      Me: Wow. If the idea that using induction leads to knowledge is dogma, then you either have a seriously whacked out definition of knowledge, and dogma. That, or you actually contend that we cannot know anything about the world.

      You: You might want to say that it is shared by very smart people, etc, but that onto itself would be an argument that appeals to “popularity among smart people.”

      Me: Do you have a better way to gain knowledge about reality? If not, induction is pretty much all we have available to us.

      You:Now, I do believe that the laws of physics won’t change 2 seconds from now. Not only because we have past empirical verification, but also because it fits very well the idea of a rational universe created by a rational supreme being.

      Me: I’ve never understood this from either side. Why should a created universe be rational, and an “uncreated” universe not be rational? I’ve never heard a good justification for this idea. It always seemed to me to be a non-sequitur pumped out by apologists to prop up their idea that the Universe needs God.

      You: Then take the idea that regimes like the Soviet Union were not atheist regimes.

      Me: Oh, I’m not disputing that they were atheist regimes, but nobody does anything because they believe there is no God. No, the communist regimes were just as much a religion as the Orthodox churches of Christianity. The State was the ultimate authority, and everyone was expected to worship the state. Those who didn’t worship the state faced the prospect of being treated like a heretic. There was one religion in Communist countries: That the State is the all powerful ruler of your lives, and you will worship the State.

      You: Going back to your critique of my epistemology, you are arguing in favor of atheism as if we were in the 1910s, before we had the knowledge of what the Soviet Union, Mao’s China or Pol Pot’s Cambodia produced in the next 80 years.

      Me: Is a non-sequitur. Even if some atheists, or even every atheist, acts poorly, that does not tell you that atheism is false. By the same line of reasoning, some Christians act badly, therefore Christianity is false and there is no God. Hopefully you can see how stupid this line of reasoning is, and why you stop arguing this way!
      Forcing everyone to accept a set of ideas, under the punishment of death, is not a good way to run a society, and goes against

      You: I am in pretty solid ground, enjoying […]the results of rational thinking that comes with God’s gift to humans that is absent in animals: a rational mind.

      Me: Humans are animals, and our rationality is a product of evolution, not God. If you believe that there was suddenly a human who was rational, and their parents were not, then you don’t understand how evolution works.

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  8. Gary,

    “I do not claim that a non-supernaturalist world view is the prettiest or the most comforting. I only claim that it is very probably…the truth.”

    Using the word “probably” in this context does not increase the likelihood of your conclusion. Probability theory, since it was systematized by Kolmogorov, provides for very precise ways of computing probabilities of events provided -and this is the key- that the a-priori probabilities are known. The reality is that we don’t have a basis to compute the probability o non-probability of the super-natural from looking at the natural world alone. Believers in the anthropic principle claim that the fine tuning of the universe is onto itself evidence of the supernatural. Atheists counter with the so called “multi-verse” even though we don’t have any evidence for it other than these atheists own desires not to agree to the possibility of the supernatural. Behind all these positions, there is the same phenomenon going on: our own belief system. Your statement above is colored by your own desire to find rationales to justify your current status as “unbeliever”. Qualifiers like “probably” do not make them truer or “more likely”.

    If atheism works for you, great! More power to you. Materialistic science has no say whatsoever on whether the supernatural exist or does not exist because by its very definition, if the super natural were to exist, it would be outside nature.

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    1. “I do not claim that a non-supernaturalist world view is the prettiest or the most comforting. I only claim that it is very probably…the truth.”

      I make this probability estimate based on collective human experience. I believe that there is massive evidence that many of the events in the lives of humans (floods, drought, lightening, etc.) which ancient humans believed to be due to the ill temperament of invisible gods have subsequently proven to have natural causes. I therefore feel comfortable predicting that there are even more events in our universe (such as its origin) which will turn out to have natural explanations.

      I cannot offer 100% certitude for my worldview, but it has proven to be MUCH more reliable than the supernatural alternatives. Supernatural organizations (religions) have repeatedly revised the interpretations of their holy books to keep up with science, not the reverse. That should tell you something.

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  9. @Arkenaten

    “What you suffer from is called death anxiety which is a recognised psychological disorder.”

    This is the “belief in God is a mental disorder” kind of line of attack? Interesting. Do you know how so mental disorders are defined, or to use your own word, “recognized”? They are essentially recognized by vote. I will give two examples of why we cannot trust this system of voting as a valid epistemology, one old, another recent.

    Until the 1970s, the American Psychiatric Association considered homosexuality to be a mental disorder. That meant that people could be “treated” of homosexuality, in some cases against their will. While this abuse has been, thanks God, corrected, there are many other similar abuses that remain in psychiatry’s sacred book, the DSM (you can google a fellow by the name of Allen Frances who will tell you everything that is wrong with the current edition of the DSM and why his opinion matters).

    The second example I want to bring about this system of knowledge is video game addiction. We learned a couple of weeks ago that the World Heath Organization has voted to recognize video game addiction as a valid mental disorder (the American Psychiatric Association is not on board yet), creating a world split between whether video game addiction is indeed a mental disorder. If you live in the US -where the APA rules- the answer is no. If you live in other countries where the opinion of the World Health Organization takes preference over that of the APA,then video game addiction is indeed a disorder.

    Let’s get real. People who suffer genuine emotional distress should be helped. But this notion that religious belief is a mental disorder is the type of absurd argument that makes a mockery of atheism more than of religious belief. I know it is popular among certain high powered atheists, but remember, high powered academics also believed that eugenics was scientific in the first half of the XX-the century or that homosexuality was a mental disorder until the 1970s. To me the “religious belief = mental disorder” line of attack is a 21st century manifestation of the same phenomenon: powerful people with totalitarian tendencies using pseudoscientific arguments as they seek to impose their belief system under the disguise of “science”.

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    1. This is the “belief in God is a mental disorder” kind of line of attack?

      And I suppose your reply is the Whining Persecuted Christian response is it?

      Why you went off on a tangent about homosexuality and tended to focus on this is beyond me.Unless you are a gay and were targeted? If so, you have my sympathies.
      However, It was a lousy comparison.
      Although there are still a considerable number of Dickhead religious people, Christians included, who think homosexuality is a ”lifestyle choice”.

      Death anxiety affects a great many people and not just god-believers.

      Yet it is somewhat typical of the selfish nature of the holier-than-thou god-bothers who, having suddenly recognised just how vile they always were – steeped in sin thanks to Adam and his wife – and how wonderful their new life has become simply by admitting to a narrative construct that they believe in him and how a brutal human sacrifice was just the ticket to right all the wrongs of the world. Now all their troubles simply melt away and they are safe in the knowledge they will be spending eternity with said narrative construct, fully equipped with a brand new body in a place called Heaven.
      Are tequila sunrises part of the package, do you know?

      Maybe you no longer suffer from Death Anxiety? Good for you!
      That you have traded a potentially debilitating mental health problem for one of delusion may be just what the doctor ordered in your case.
      If you’re content with it, fair enough and I wish you well.
      But please, keep this faith to yourself and don’t pass it on to kids, okay?

      Like

  10. “I cannot offer 100% certitude for my worldview, but it has proven to be a hell of a lot more reliable than the supernatural alternatives.”

    I think that you lack understanding of how science has progressed over the centuries. Somethings that today we consider “superstition” were at the time considered state of the art scientific theories by the wise men of their day. Let’s start with geocentrism. The hypothesis of geocentrism together with the Ptolemaic theory of epicycles was in fact pretty a pretty accurate model to predict the movement of the planets and the moon that was used successfully for centuries. Its origin was not religious but rather a scientific theory proposed by Claudius Ptolemy, a Greco-Roman astronomer and mathematician that lived in the second century AD. This model was first challenged by Nicolaus Copernicus during the Renaissance. The heliocentric model failed to gain acceptance among the scientific community of its day and came again to public light during the Galileo affair. The core of the Galileo affair was in fact a scientific dispute in which the Roman Catholic Church took sides with what the majority of the scientists of the day thought to be true (akin to say today Francis siding with those who say that climate science’s mathematical models predict the evolution of weather patterns accurately). The view the Roman Catholic Church defended turned out to be wrong as proved by later historical developments but their reasons for condemning Galileo were not mostly theological (since Copernicus had defended the same ideas many decades earlier).

    You are also confusing metaphysical questions over which science will never be able to say one way or another with questions like the right modelling of gravity (say Newtonian mechanics vs Einstein’s relativity theory). I recommend the talks/books by atheist anthropologist Eugenie Scott, who has actively opposed the teaching of creationism and intelligent design as scientific theories all while admitting that methodological materialism (the way science reaches to its conclusions) is insufficient to answer metaphysical questions such as why there is nothing instead of nothing or whether there exists a supernatural reality. In fact, many of the arguments I have used here to criticize yours and those of other atheists are borrowed from her.

    The bottom line of this discussion is that you are setting up a straw man, namely, the notion that science and religion deal with the same questions and that they are necessarily in conflict. They don’t and they are not destined to be in conflict. There might be a narrow subset of areas where one might inform the other (such as the finding of Jesus’s bones falsifying Christianity or that the idea that a rational universe governed by mathematical laws fits the world view of that is common to all Abrahamic religions) but religion and science deal, for the most part, with different sets of questions. Anybody who has a basic knowledge of epistemology will tell you so.

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    1. I certainly agree that science and religion deal with two very different sets of questions: one deals with reality as modern advanced western cultures define that term and the other deals with unprovable yet at the same time unfalsifiable superstitions (supernatural claims). I suggest that scientists stick to science and theologians stick to theology. The world will be much better off. Here is an example of what happens when a theologian sticks his nose beyond his area of expertise.

      “There is talk of a new astrologer who wants to prove that the earth moves and goes around instead of the sky, the sun, the moon, just as if somebody were moving in a carriage or ship might hold that he was sitting still and at rest while the earth and the trees walked and moved. But that is how things are nowadays: when a man wishes to be clever he must needs invent something special, and the way he does it must needs be the best! The fool wants to turn the whole art of astronomy upside-down. However, as Holy Scripture tells us, so did Joshua bid the sun to stand still and not the earth.” –Martin Luther

      Liked by 1 person

  11. @Arkenaten

    Your comment is weird. On the one hand you seem to understand that labeling as “mental disorder” world views you disagree with can get us quickly into dangerous territory.

    On the other hand, this other stuff of yours makes me think that you don’t fully understand the implications of your own intolerance,

    “That you have traded a potentially debilitating mental health problem for one of delusion may be just what the doctor ordered in your case. If you’re content with it, fair enough and I wish you well.”

    I say this as somebody who is definitely not making the “prosecuted Christian” defense, at least not yet : – ). Thanks God we live in a country that was founded on the principle of separation of church and state. I am not sure if Gary knows this, but this principle is what attracted the founders of the LCMS to the United States in the XIX-th century. Back then, Lutheranism in Germany was still very much a state religion. So they came to the US to practice their religion as they saw fit, free from government interference.

    Polls show that an overwhelming majority of Americans would never vote for an atheist. The above couple of sentences show why. I think that you’d have more success with your atheistic program in countries whose leaders are more aligned with your own thinking, like you know, the Cuba of Castro or even China, although in China currently there are more Christians than recognized members of the Chinese Communist Party. The Chinese case should tell you that efforts to suppress religion through the coercive atheistic force of government usually go nowhere. That was the lesson learned from the Soviet Union too.

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    1. Your comment is weird. On the one hand you seem to understand that labeling as “mental disorder” world views you disagree with can get us quickly into dangerous territory.

      On the other hand, this other stuff of yours makes me think that you don’t fully understand the implications of your own intolerance,

      Oh, fear not, dear heart, I understand fully!
      Labeling homosexuality as a mental illness was simply bigotry, which is how so many religious people still behave.
      Death anxiety, which is what you suffer from, is a medical fact. Al you did was substitute it for a delusion. YOu still have the death anxiety, only now you channel it differently.

      I say this as somebody who is definitely not making the “prosecuted Christian” defense

      The word I used was persecuted . Which is what a great many Christians whine about – lke you are dong right here.
      Perhaps you need to read a little closer?

      Thanks God we live in a country that was founded on the principle of separation of church and state. I am not sure if Gary knows this, but this principle is what attracted the founders of the LCMS to the United States

      And isn’t it marvelous that your forbears were able to found a nation on such wonderful non-religious principals then go right out and enact one of the largest genocides in human history upon the Native Americans in an attempt to share the word of your god with them?
      Aren’t you Christians such wonderful examples of human tolerance?

      Spain has an atheist president, so does Australia, and I’ll bet you dollars to donuts there are loads of atheist leaders but they just don’t come right out and say it. Yet!

      Who is suggesting suppressing religion? Not me!
      Just tell the kids the truth instead of lying to them like religious people do and you can say bye bye to religion in one or two generations.

      The real reason you yanks won’t vote for an atheist is simply because of religiously indoctrinated [censored by blog owner] like you.
      But I’ll let you into a secret. It is because people like you are such religious [censored] that more US Presidents than you think could not give a shit about your god and simply go through the motions because [censored] like you will think; ”Hey, this guy is alright. He was chosen by God.”

      Like

  12. @Gary

    “I certainly agree that science and religion deal with two very different sets of questions”

    This is where I think we should focus. And I think it is good for everybody involved, both the scientists and the believers. The case of why it is good for the believers is easy to make: those of us who deeply care about our religion and who see the Bible as containing God’s revelation to humanity on the meta questions of life, want it to continue to be relevant two thousand years from now just as it has been relevant during the past 2 thousand years. Attempts to reconcile the biblical narrative with the current state of the art of science undermine the bible as far as I am concerned. What I take from the Genesis creation narrative is that God created the universe. Attempts have been made to fit both the “steady state” (which go all the way back to St Augustine) as well as the “big bang” theories. I find both unnecessary since the Bible was never meant to be a book of science. A different question is the incompatibility of statements the Bible makes about Jesus’ divine nature with statements about the same topic found in the Koran or rabbinic literature. But that’s Christian theologians arguing with Muslim or Jewish theologians, which is totally different from theologians telling scientists details about how the world works or scientists telling theologians about metaphysics.

    What might be less obvious to some (I don’t know if that’s your case) is that this view also helps with getting deeply religious people attracted to STEM fields. That’s the reason stated by Eugenie Scott, the aforementioned atheist, for making this the right way of thinking about science and religion. We live in a world that is increasingly complex and that requires as many of our young people as possible interested in STEM fields. Importing cheap labor from other countries like China or India (at this time mostly India) to fill the STEM jobs Americans are not interested in filling is only patchwork. Religious belief is not going anywhere (I refer to the Soviet and Chinese cases as examples of what happens when the state suppresses religious beliefs: it just causes those beliefs to go underground).

    With respect to what Martin Luther wrote. You are probably aware that the LCMS as a body, while acknowledging the role Martin Luther played in the Reformation, does not agree with each and every one of his writings. It’s the Book of Concord that forms the basis of confessional Lutheranism (and incidentally, since at the time of the Reformation, justification was the main divisive issue among Christians, the Book of Concord says nothing about the intersection of science and religion). Martin Luther wrote a lot of nasty stuff. More than the paragraphs you mention it’s his deeply anti-Semitic writings that I find troubling. The founder of Christianity was not Martin Luther, John Calvin or any of the popes. It was Jesus Christ. When I need inspiration, I look up to the things he did, and said, as reported by the Bible. What Martin Luther, or any other theologian, has to say about them is an opinion as good as anybody else’s,

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    1. Here is the bottom line for me: Neither one of us can prove that his reality is the correct reality. Supernaturalists (such as yourself) cannot prove that their god exists and non-supernaturalists (such as myself) cannot prove that he does not. We are stalemated.

      I suggest that my worldview based on science, reason, and the principles of secular humanism may not necessarily be better for YOU than your worldview, but I do believe that my worldview has the potential of being better for all humankind; infinitely better than multiple, antagonistic, competing supernatural worldviews in which each individual or group of individuals determines reality and morality for every person in his society based on his sectarian holy books and prophets. I agree with you that atheism alone is not enough. Atheism is simply the denial of the existence of a god or gods. It does not offer humans a way to live and interact with one another. Secular humanism does!

      I believe that our world would be much better off if everyone adopted a secular humanist worldview. I don’t believe we should force this worldview on people. I believe we should encourage the adoption of this worldview by spreading the news of its potential benefits to every person we can and by encouraging people to abandon their fear-based superstitions. That is the primary purpose of this blog.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. @Gary

    “I suggest that my worldview based on science, reason, and the principles of secular humanism may not necessarily be better for YOU than your worldview, but I do believe that my worldview has the potential of being better for all humankind;”

    I was a member of the Council for Secular Humanism during my atheistic years. I do understand the difference between atheism and secular humanism, just as I understand what secular humanism stands for. Here is the problem: secular humanism is essentially liberal Christianity with all references to God removed. There is nothing, absolutely nothing, in a materialistic world view that suggests secular humanism is the necessary worldview that would arise if religion were to disappear. In fact, quite the opposite as we saw in the Soviet Union. The peace and prosperity that we enjoy in the US and other parts of the Western world are an exception in human history across both time and geography.Throughout all of their history, Americans have been a very religious people even as they setup a secular government (which is different from saying an atheist government). The founding fathers did not set out to crush religion in the public sphere rather, to setup a system different from those in Europe during the 1700s where subjects were forced to adopt the religion of their rulers (the Reformation brought freedom of religion to rulers and governments but not to subjects).

    Stripping Christianity of its divine inspiration essentially devalues it. The great German intellectual Jurgen Habermas -who was a very aggressive atheist in his younger years but who has adopted a more moderate stance in his senior years- puts it best,

    “For the normative self-understanding of modernity, Christianity has functioned as more than just a precursor or catalyst. Universalistic egalitarianism, from which sprang the ideals of freedom and a collective life in solidarity, the autonomous conduct of life and emancipation, the individual morality of conscience, human rights and democracy, is the direct legacy of the Judaic ethic of justice and the Christian ethic of love. This legacy, substantially unchanged, has been the object of a continual critical reappropriation and reinterpretation. Up to this very day there is no alternative to it. And in light of the current challenges of a post-national constellation, we must draw sustenance now, as in the past, from this substance. Everything else is idle postmodern talk”

    So you remove Christianity from the public sphere at your own risk! I understand why one can feel betrayed when confronted with things like Bart Ehrman’s books, but the key here is to understand that Christianity was founded by Jesus Christ, not by the fundamentalists (or the atheists of the council for secular humanism) that have attempted to hijack His message. He never said that Scripture is to be taken literally in the way Christian fundamentalist do. I don’t lose hope that you’ll find your way back to faith.

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  14. @Arkenaten

    Most of your demeaning writings are self-disqualifying and they don’t help your cause in front of readers of this blog who might have doubts about their faith. I found the following particularly enlightening of your worldview,

    “Spain has an atheist president, so does Australia, and I’ll bet you dollars to donuts there are loads of atheist leaders but they just don’t come right out and say it. Yet! ”

    So now your model for what a healthy country looks like is Spain and Australia? You should have begun your replies but stating so! Are you familiar with the concept of PIGS countries? Those are the European countries largely seen by both European elites and ruling class as posing the largest existential threat to the stability of the European Union and the eurozone because of their being badly run. Whether I is for Italy or Ireland, S in all cases is for Spain. Then, the European Union as a whole is imploding demographically as we speak, pushed first and foremost by their embrace of a “culture of death” after these countries became largely atheistic.

    When it comes to Australia, I could focus on the many problems this country has, but with the topic at hand their lack of explicit recognition to freedom of speech (there is only implicit recognition in a few cases derived from court cases) is to me a big no no. I could never live in a country like that. I understand that people are probably free to say a lot, but in general governments tend to reflect the values of the people they govern.

    So to recap, your vision of what an ideal country is like seems to be an economic disasters with huge demographic problems that are the result of atheistic values coupled with severe freedom of speech restrictions. I say, thanks but no thanks. I prefer the United States where the high degree of religiosity of its people explains our prosperity and the numerous individual freedoms we enjoy. And yes, that means that we won’t get any time soon an openly avowed atheist president but given the countries that elect this type of political leaders, we are not missing much!

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    1. The United States is a rich, prosperous country because of RELIGION??? I don’t think so.

      We are a rich prosperous country because of our massive quantities of natural resources, the presence of a large middle class…thanks to private sector labor unions…and because Germany, in two world wars, destroyed the economy and empire of our greatest international competitor, Great Britain.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. *Smile*

      We are fortunate that numerous countries are moving away from the religious mores that have for so long been the bane of humanity.
      In fact, on the general index of well-being countries that are slowly but surely embracing secular humanism come out tops every time.
      Sure, there is going to be a knee-jerk reaction at first when any country initially shrugs off the shackles of idiotic religious influence and goes on a bit of a non-religious bender.
      Much like all the ”partying” in Ireland over the recent overturning of the abortion laws.
      But such novelties pass as we move towards a world that will eventually move from utter contempt to mild curiosity for religion and religious dipshits.

      I understand that people are probably free to say a lot, but in general governments tend to reflect the values of the people they govern.

      And the US has Trump. Enough said I’d say.

      Oh, by the way, I was so impressed how you immediately latched onto the atheist President angle and completely ignored all the wonderful things you Christians did to the Native Americans. Good one!

      Religious hypocrisy and ignorance is staggering.

      Ark.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. @Gary

    I didn’t say that. But certainly the focus on individual freedom and free enterprise -that includes religious freedom- embedded in the founding of the republic is what differentiates us from other Western countries. The approach towards religion is very different in the US vs in Europe. The US has never had corrupt state churches -precisely because of the first amendment but more importantly because of the traditions developed over the 200 years preceding the founding of welcoming Europeans who were escaping religious prosecution but who were allowed to worship as they wished. On the other hand, in Europe state mandated religion was the norm until well into the late XIX-the century. In some cases even well into the XX-th century (one of the countries that Arkenaten seems to like, Spain, had Roman Catholicism as it state religion until the 1970s, together with Portugal). Even today, several European countries collect so called “state tax” on behalf of several religious traditions. In the case of Scandinavian countries, the collection is on behalf of Lutheran state churches =these state churches are generally in communion with non confessional Lutheran bodies like the American ECLA. Membership in the church of Sweden was required to every person born in Sweden until the late 1990s.

    So my bottom line is that part of what makes America such a prosperous country is its founding as a beacon of individual freedom -that includes freedom of religion. This deep tradition of religious freedom has produced even faiths that are indigenous to the United States such as Mormonism, Pentecostalism or -if you consider it to be a religion as the US government does- Scientology. Europe on the other hand has a tradition of state mandated belief systems. During centuries that “belief system” imposed by governments onto their people was different forms of Christianity. Today is secularism. In other words, Europe’s secularism is more the reflection of the value system of its atheist leaders than a genuine pursue of atheism by its dwellers. From a European perspective, it is very obvious that this atheism is producing the demographic implosion of the different European countries. Frankly, there is nothing to envy about Europe as far as I am concerned.

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    1. Christianity is in major decline in North America. You can try to focus on the problems of Europe if you wish, but I suggest you take a look at your own continent. Your own denomination is in serious trouble; so much trouble that your president is recommending that your denomination give up on evangelizing the general US multi-ethnic population and focus instead on establishing churches in predominantly “Northern European” zip codes of the United States.

      http://congregationsmatter.org/synod-membership-plummets-under-harrison/

      Wow!

      So much for going out into “all” the world and preaching the Gospel. I guess the Gospel only appeals to “Northern Europeans”.

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  16. @Gary

    Nice red herring. My point is that the type of society you like (government imposed atheism on the public sphere with religious belief being a private matter) already exists in Western Europe and the results speak for themselves. I estimate that 100 years from now -if demographic trends do not change- the European civilization will have banished from what we call Europe today. Demographic numbers don’t lie. Several European countries already have experienced negative population growth for several years courtesy of their atheist “culture of death” leaders.

    With respect to the LCMS, sure it has problems but that doesn’t mean they cannot be solved. America as a whole remains a deeply religious country even though membership in organized religion is decreasing. But these two things (membership in organized churches and religiosity) are different things. As this article explains https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2018/05/american-atheists-religious-european-christians/560936/

    “Americans are deeply religious people—and atheists are no exception. Western Europeans are deeply secular people—and Christians are no exception.” . In fact ” the researchers found that American “nones”—those who identify as atheist, agnostic, or nothing in particular—are more religious than European nones. The notion that religiously unaffiliated people can be religious at all may seem contradictory, but if you disaffiliate from organized religion it does not necessarily mean you’ve sworn off belief in God, say, or prayer.”

    I also have to say that Americans loss of trust in organized religion mirrors Americans’ loss of trust in institutions at large https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2018/01/trust-trump-america-world/550964/ .

    In short, I think that you yourself understand that the decrease in membership in organized churches is not the same as a decrease in religiosity in America and that European style secularism dooms society.

    The connection between secular humanism and “culture of death” tendencies is not even hard to explain. If you tell a human being that there is nothing to live for after death, that this life is all there is, the logical conclusion of a rational actor is to become hedonistic and spend all of one’s resources in oneself while one is alive. Is there any point in worrying about (let alone raising!) the next generation? There isn’t any connection between secular humanist values and the need to create a next generation. What remains from Christianity after removing all references to God is a mere code of conduct along the lines of “be nice to your neighbor”. But “be nice to your neighbor” and sustain a thriving civilization are two different things. What Europeans are doing is being nice to their neighbors and dying without replacements. However, somebody has to pay for all that hedonistic lifestyle (in the case of Europeans largely funded through government paid welfare programs), thus the need to import immigrants from elsewhere, thus the explosive situations that countries like Germany, France or Sweden live today.

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    1. “The connection between secular humanism and “culture of death” tendencies is not even hard to explain. If you tell a human being that there is nothing to live for after death, that this life is all there is, the logical conclusion of a rational actor is to become hedonistic and spend all of one’s resources in oneself while one is alive.”

      This is ridiculous, mysupernaturalist friend. We non-supernaturalists do not abandon our wives/husbands and children and run off to the nearest hedonist sex colony just because we don’t believe that a magical Never Never Land exists after death.

      Your supernatural world is a fairy tale. Sorry to break the news: Fairy tales are not real.

      Liked by 2 people

    2. @ LCMS Lutheran

      government imposed atheism on the public sphere with religious belief being a private matter) already exists in Western Europe and the results speak for themselves.

      What a load of bullshit!
      If ever there was a disingenuous argument then this is it.
      What a grubby, mealy-mouthed individual you are.
      I sincerely hope to the gods you have no access to kids.

      Liked by 1 person

  17. @Gary

    “This is ridiculous, mysupernaturalist friend. We non-supernaturalists do not abandon our wives/husbands and children and run off to the nearest hedonist sex colony just because we don’t believe that a magical Never Never Land exists after death.”

    I forgot who said the thing about you are entitled to your own opinions but not to your own facts. You are providing anecdotal evidence, I am providing data, such as https://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/aug/23/baby-crisis-europe-brink-depopulation-disaster . The correlation irreligiousiy + demographic implosion is there for everybody to see. You might say that correlation doesn’t imply causation, but it is hard not to see at least a clear trend that decreases in fertility have followed decreases in religiosity in Europe.

    You are also somebody who grew up in the church and only became unbeliever later in your life. I never said that atheistic people are more likely to abandon their children. What I definitely say is that atheistic people are less likely to have children to begin with and more likely to spend whatever income they have in their own hedonistic pleasures. That again is data, not my opinion.

    I love the United States too much to see it transformed into the land of the dead as Europe is today.

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    1. You: The correlation irreligiousiy + demographic implosion is there for everybody to see.

      Me: You’re appealing to unpleasant consequences. I care about what’s true, and this in no way tells me that theism is true.

      You: What I definitely say is that atheistic people are less likely to have children to begin with and more likely to spend whatever income they have in their own hedonistic pleasures

      Me: Even supposing that this is true, what exactly is your point?

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  18. @Arkenaten

    Dude, take it easy. Your utterances increasingly look like glossolalia. I don’t think that speaking in tongues is your goal, but that’s how you look like.

    @Atheist Lehman

    “You’re appealing to unpleasant consequences. I care about what’s true, and this in no way tells me that theism is true.

    Even supposing that this is true, what exactly is your point?”

    My point is that all world views have consequences for the societies that adopt them. From your parochial point of view, you you might think that Christianity is bad for your own reasons. I am giving empirical data as to why secular humanism is also bad, unless of course, the replacement of the Western European civilization by a largely fertile -and Muslim- civilization doesn’t concern you. Every atheist I have ever known (including my former myself) cares about data/evidence and throws cliches about who has the biggest “burden of proof” until that data proves their view corrosive. As I said, even Jurgen Habermas understands the value of Christianity as the force that gave rise to the Western civilization. The notion that removing it from the public sphere will leave its good effects intact is clearly false and what is happening in Western Europe is a good example of what happens when former Christian societies become atheist.

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    1. You: My point is that all world views have consequences for the societies that adopt them. From your parochial point of view, you you might think that Christianity is bad for your own reasons. I am giving empirical data as to why secular humanism is also bad, unless of course, the replacement of the Western European civilization by a largely fertile -and Muslim- civilization doesn’t concern you.

      Me: First, what exactly does this have to do with the truth of Christianity? That’s what I care about! Social problems can be dealt with, but not if we cannot agree on what’s true, and what isn’t. If you don’t value truth, I don’t know what I can tell you to get you to value truth.

      Second, when did I ever say that I thought Christianity was “bad”? I think it’s a set of ideas that cannot be established as true, and that the null hypothesis should have us treat them as if they are false.

      You: As I said, even Jurgen Habermas understands the value of Christianity as the force that gave rise to the Western civilization.

      Me: And yet Christianity repressed the ideals of Western Civilization for almost 1500 years. I think one of the greatest frauds being perpetrated today is that Christianity is somehow responsible for the rise of the enlightened values that we see today. I’ll grant that Christians were the ones who revived these ideas (which originated in Pagan Greece 2300 years ago), but these are NOT Christian ideals; far from it!

      Frankly, the Bible is a sock puppet, and if you dig far enough you’ll find a verse to support just about any idea you want. There really is no clear support for the ideals of freedom of thought, or freedom of expression, contained within the Bible. If there was, it should have been obvious to Christians over 1000 years ago, and it certainly shouldn’t have taken so damned long for Christendom to embrace such ideals.

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  19. @Atheist Lehman

    Let me address your two points. First,

    ” I’ll grant that Christians were the ones who revived these ideas (which originated in Pagan Greece 2300 years ago), but these are NOT Christian ideals; far from it”

    I know this is a very popular myth among the so called “atheist/skeptic/secular humanist” community but it is an assertion divorced from the historical record. It would take a very long discussion with facts to disprove it, but suffice it to say that Habermas himself -as I said a highly respected and credentialed intellectual- said referring to the Judaeo-Christian tradition “This legacy, substantially unchanged, has been the object of a continual critical reappropriation and reinterpretation.”. That’s essentially what secular humanism has been trying to do -without much success- during decades. To note the most obvious difference between the Greco-Roman tradition and the Judaeo-Christian tradition: their respective conception of the supernatural. Greek gods were capricious and jealous. The idea of a rational universe operating according to mathematical laws is antithetical to Greco-Roman theology. On the other hand the idea of a rational, predictable universe is intrinsic not only to Judaism and Christianity but also to Islam. I also take issue with this notion that Christianity kept so called “enlightenment values” hidden. Certain parts of the Christian world were ruled by an obscure top down bureaucracy (but even under the Roman Catholic Church things were not uniform). The scientific revolution of the XVI and XVII centuries can be traced all way back to the Reformation, which onto itself was an attempt to take Christianity to its more pure roots. Some of the most cherished enlightenment thinkers, such as John Locke, were deeply devout Christians that were very concerned with the slippery slope of atheism. What I am saying wasn’t a controversial view until recent revisionist attempts by what I call, for lack of a better world, the New Atheism industrial complex. Here is Richard Feynman -the only American physicist who is regularly considered among other physicists among the top 10 physicists who ever lived- speaking of the heritage of the Western Civilization http://calteches.library.caltech.edu/49/2/Religion.htm ,

    “Western civilization, it seems to me, stands by two great heritages. One is the scientific spirit of adventure – the adventure into the unknown, an unknown which must be recognized as being unknown in order to be explored; the demand that the unanswerable mysteries of the universe remain unanswered; the attitude that all is uncertain; to summarize it – the humility of the intellect. The other great heritage is Christian ethics – the basis of action on love, the brotherhood of all men, the value of the individual – the humility of the spirit.”

    I must say, that when you base your research about Western history on the ruminations of a third rate scientist like Richard Dawkins, it is not surprising that you affirm nonsense like the one above.

    On the second question,

    “First, what exactly does this have to do with the truth of Christianity”

    It does if you care about truth. One of the basic tenants of Christianity – which was codified very clearly in this 1st century treaty https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Didache – is that truth leads to light and prosperity whereas lies lead to darkness and death. I see what is happening in Western Europe as a clear manifestation of what the Didache calls “the way of death”. Almost word by word.

    @Gary

    I agree, but it is very obvious that from all the people I have had exchanges in this thread, it’s Arkenaten who is unable to have a rational and civic conversation about these topics. So I have stopped engaging him (or her?) and return his(her) insults in kind.

    Like

    1. I’m not interested in arguing about what gave rise to modern Western civilization.

      You: It does if you care about truth. One of the basic tenants of Christianity – which was codified very clearly in this 1st century treaty https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Didache – is that truth leads to light and prosperity whereas lies lead to darkness and death. I see what is happening in Western Europe as a clear manifestation of what the Didache calls “the way of death”. Almost word by word.

      Me: You keep talking about something I haven’t asked about. None of what you’ve presented so far can tell me that Christianity is true. At best it suggests that people who hold these beliefs seem to have better societies than those who don’t (which I don’t accept anyways.)

      Tell me how any of this leads me to conclude that Jesus died for my “sins”, was resurrected, and the belief in Jesus’ death and resurrect is an assurance of eternal life, based on anything you’ve presented so far? I simply fail to see any connection. That’s what I care about! If you cannot show me that any of these claims are true then Christianity should not be treated as true. Any “benefits” from Christianity should be achievable through secular means.

      Like

  20. @Atheist Lehman

    I take your latest comment as you implicitly admitting that you were conned by the New Atheists about the actual forces that gave rise to the Western Civilization. You are not the only one, as this fellow will tell you https://medium.com/@gore.burnelli/how-richard-feynman-changed-my-mind-about-christianity-ab64d566f6b4 .

    With respect to the connection of the teaching of the Didache to the truth of Christianity, I think it is obvious, but to recap:

    – Epistemology is a complex field. The view that the only way to achieve justified belief is through the strict application of the scientific method is called “scientism” and it is not a view shared by all intellectuals. In fact, scientism is not even a recent development. Check this https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cult_of_Reason .

    – If you are part of the “Cult of Reason” the only result of this conversation is “agree to disagree”.

    – My first take is that it is very hard to be part of the Cult of Reason because all humans make dogmatic assumptions all the time to interact with the natural world that are not justified by reason alone, such as the idea that the universe is rational and that its laws will not change 2 seconds from now.

    – Since I consider religious faith a valid way of reaching justified beliefs, the question is which faith is the right one. This is something we haven’t explicitly discussed, but it implicit in the conversation. I consider the Christian faith to be the one true faith. At the same time, as I have said already, I consider that Christianity can be falsified if Jesus’ bones were ever found.

    – I do not take the Bible to be a document that can be interpreted literally in the way some American fundamentalists do. I have done my own study on the history of Christianity and I don’t buy parochial narratives of the kind “Christianity began with the Mayflower” or one that is common among some of my fellow LCMS Lutherans “Martin Luther gave us Christianity”. Christianity was founded by Jesus Christ who preached to be the Messiah promised by the Jewish scriptures. If you want a more precise argument: I belief that God is infinite. The Bible, by its very definition is a finite object (no matter which translation you use). Therefore, the Bible cannot contain all that is true about God even though I believe that it contains God’s message to humanity. Getting more technical about this would require me talking about Godel’s incompleteness theorems, which is out of scope of this discussion.

    – There is plenty of historical evidence -outside the Biblical record- to corroborate not only that Jesus was a historical figure but that the earliest followers of Jesus preached that Jesus had been raised from the dead and were willing to die at the hands of the Roman Empire justice system for preaching this.

    – Along these lines, Christianity gave rise to the most advanced and just civilization ever known to man: the Western Civilization.

    – And finally, what we see in Western Europe is that abandoning the Christian faith -even if it had been imposed in the past by their rulers to their subjects- to adopt secular humanism has a cost to the societies that follow this path. Thus, if one cares about truth (understood beyond the way scientism understands truth), the cost of abandoning Christianity for paganism is an important data point to consider.

    Like

    1. You: I take your latest comment as you implicitly admitting that you were conned by the New Atheists about the actual forces that gave rise to the Western Civilization

      Me: You should not. The fact that I’m not interested in arguing this side point is not an implicit acceptance of a con. Please don’t stick words in my mouth! I’m not interested in this topic, and that is all.

      You: There is plenty of historical evidence -outside the Biblical record- to corroborate not only that Jesus was a historical figure but that the earliest followers of Jesus preached that Jesus had been raised from the dead and were willing to die at the hands of the Roman Empire justice system for preaching this.

      Me: Frankly, the evidence outside the Bible for Jesus isn’t that great. The evidence for the claim that he rose from the dead, outside of the Bible, is zilch, until centuries later. I accept that there was probably some guy named Joshua, who was executed by the Roman state, and that his followers believed that he was resurrected. This doesn’t tell me that he died for my sins, was actually resurrected, or that believing this nonsense has any effect on me after I’m dead.

      You:– Along these lines, Christianity gave rise to the most advanced and just civilization ever known to man: the Western Civilization.

      Me: Appeal to consequences. Even if I accepted that Christianity was the cause of this, it doesn’t tell me that the central beliefs are true. Why can’t you get this through your head?

      You: And finally, what we see in Western Europe is that abandoning the Christian faith … to adopt secular humanism has a cost to the societies that follow this path.

      Me: Again, appeal to consequences, and doesn’t tell me anything about the truth of Christianities claims.

      You claim that at one time you were an atheist and a skeptic. I accept your claim that you were an atheist, I’m skeptical that you were ever a skeptic. I’m reasonably convinced that you don’t understand logical fallacies, and how they relate to truth. If you value truth as much as you value your feelings I doubt you would make such terrible arguments for what you believe.

      At this point, I’m pretty much done with you. I hope others will engage you, but I have no interest.

      Like

    2. LCMS Lutheran says: ‘There is plenty of historical evidence -outside the Biblical record- to corroborate not only that Jesus was a historical figure but that the earliest followers of Jesus preached that Jesus had been raised from the dead and were willing to die at the hands of the Roman Empire justice system for preaching this.’

      This is some assertion:
      i) There is a very limited amount of ‘evidence’ outside the bible that Jesus existed. Even that has been tampered with by believers to make it seem more conclusive than it actually is.

      ii) Yes, there is evidence, but primarily from the bible, that early cultists believed Jesus rose from the dead – but so what? No one is disputing that they believed this. That doesn’t mean it happened. Even Paul doesn’t hold that Jesus rose physically; his Christ is a visionary, spiritual being.

      iii) There is hardly any evidence that early believers died as a result of their belief that someone rose from the dead. Most stories about the martyrdom of the apostles don’t appear until 200 years after they lived and are uncorroborated. In any case, why would preaching that a man had returned from the dead be a capital crime? It wasn’t. The ‘crime’ was announcing that his death and resurrection heralded the overturning of the existing system and oppressive Roman rule. This is what the gospels say Jesus’ mission was about – the first will be last and the last first etc. This is what Jesus was executed for, and why, if they did actually suffer the same fate, his disciples would have been killed too – for sedition, not simply for their belief that their dead leader was somehow still alive.

      Like

  21. @Atheist Lehman

    ” I’m reasonably convinced that you don’t understand logical fallacies, and how they relate to truth.”

    I do, but as I have said numerous times, I believe that from an epistemological point of view there are several ways to reach truth, and reason is only one of them. I am not part of the Cult of Reason.

    I didn’t want to get there, but even if you believe that mathematical deduction is the only way to reach truth -which is again being part of the cult of Reason- the greatest logician of the XX-the century Kurt Godel -a Lutheran- proved that not everything that is true within the most interesting axiomatic systems can be derived from the axioms following mathematical logic. More info here https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/G%C3%B6del%27s_incompleteness_theorems .

    “At this point, I’m pretty much done with you. I hope others will engage you, but I have no interest.”

    I was done with you a while back. I have interacted with many members of the Cult of Reason over the years and I recognized you early on. So yeah, I think that agree to disagree is the only option here between you and me.

    Like

    1. When a Christian starts using complex mathematical formulas and philosophical theories to defend his belief in first century corpse reanimation/transformation (aka:
      resurrections)…I yawn.

      I yawn because it is soooo silly.

      I know for a fact that if a Muslim attempted to use these ploys to defend the veracity of the Islamic claim that Mohammad flew to heaven on a winged horse, the very same Christians would snicker and completely ignore these tactics, believing that they are nothing more than a obvious, desperate attempt to dress up a superstition as acceptable reality.

      Liked by 1 person

  22. @Gary

    “When a Christian starts using complex mathematical formulas and philosophical theories to defend his belief in first century corpse reanimation/transformation (aka:
    resurrections)…I yawn.

    I yawn because it is soooo silly. ”

    Don’t get distracted from the core of my argument. You can double check with any mathematician friends you might have. This is a result that is well known among the people who make a living as professional mathematicians. To put it in simple English: the process of starting with a few axioms and then applying rules of mathematical deduction from them DOES NOT produce every true result within the system. On other words, there will be statements known to be true -from the way the system has been constructed- but you cannot reach to those statements via mathematical logic. What we are discussing here has a long history in mathematics. The great German mathematician David Hilbert formulated it as its famous second problem: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hilbert%27s_second_problem . Promoting the Cult of Reason is another of the great cons perpetrated by the New Atheists.

    One needs to be illiterate on many levels (philosophy, mathematics) to take at face value the arguments of the New Atheists. When writing about Richard Dawkins’ book “The God Delusion”, the noted Marxist intellectual -read atheist- Terry Eagleton said https://www.lrb.co.uk/v28/n20/terry-eagleton/lunging-flailing-mispunching

    “Imagine someone holding forth on biology whose only knowledge of the subject is the Book of British Birds, and you have a rough idea of what it feels like to read Richard Dawkins on theology. Card-carrying rationalists like Dawkins, who is the nearest thing to a professional atheist we have had since Bertrand Russell, are in one sense the least well-equipped to understand what they castigate, since they don’t believe there is anything there to be understood, or at least anything worth understanding.”

    I get that there is a generation of you, people unhappy with their Christian fundamentalist upbringing, hungry for intellectual food to justify your newfound atheism. I also get that Richard Dawkins has made lots of money selling books to people like you. But what I have been trying to say here is that the people you have chosen as role models -the New Atheists- are intellectually sub-par.

    I still think that you’d be better served by looking to Christianity holistically and its contributions throughout history. You don’t like Christian fundamentalism as practiced by many American Christian fundamentalists? Me either. You can find a different spiritual home. You don’t like the LCMS? Fine. There are things about the synod I don’t like either even though I think that overall is the best spiritual home for committed Christians in the US. You can always find a tradition that you like better. If you are going to get inspiration from atheists though, at least pick serious ones, like the aforementioned Bertrand Russell.

    Like

  23. @Neil

    I have already stated where I am coming from (epistemology, the limits of reason, etc). There are plenty of debates where the questions you raise were argued at length available in youtube from the time where so called New Atheism was at its peak that you are free to watch. The general consensus, even among atheists – read this http://commonsenseatheism.com/?p=10018 – is that the best atheist debaters lost their debates against the best Christian apologists.

    It is not very hard to see why they lost. New Atheists on the mold of Richard Dawkins are the atheist equivalent of Christian prosperity gospel televangelists. In the case of the New Atheists, their converts buy their third rate books instead of giving cash to the televangelist. Buying a book might look more “intellectual’ but the reality is that there is plenty of junk on paper and the books of these New Atheists are a prime example of that. So what happens when you have one of these third rate thinkers confront the best Christian apologists in circulation like William Lane Craig or John Lennox? Well, you get the same effect as if a resurrected Bertrand Russell were to debate somebody like Joel Osteen.

    The Bible combined with all other surviving written material contains a finite amount of information. Therefore, it is possible to come up with an infinite number of narratives to fit that information. I find the Christian narrative as it has been developed throughout thousands of years the most compelling. I am particularly skeptical of narratives that were first developed hundreds of years after the original events took place, such as the atheist narrative that you are echoing that was first developed during the enlightenment in the 1600s-1700s. I could say the same thing about the so called “Gnostic gospels” that were first developed hundreds of years after Jesus’ time. For God’s sake, it didn’t take any more than a few decades to have within our lifetime people to come up with narratives that deny the holocaust, even though the evidence of what had happened was clear. People are people and are going to believe whatever they want to believe. In my case, as I said, I find the Christian narrative the most compelling explanation for 2000 years of Western Civilization. If you want to falsify my belief system, please find the Jesus’ bones!

    Like

    1. I didn’t dispute your claims on the basis of texts written centuries after the creation of Christianity. I used evidence from the bible: Jesus’ dangerous seditious views that made him an enemy of the state; Paul claiming Christ rose ‘spiritually’, not physically; the apparition-like appearances of the risen Jesus in the gospels; the absence of any suggestion, in the New Testament and for two centuries afterwards, that the apostles died for simply believing a man had come back to life.

      As for your challenge that ‘all’ we have to do is produce the bones of Jesus, you know this is absurd. No-one can produce with any degree of reliability the bones of a dissident – any dissident – executed 2000 years ago. As Gary has explained, the onus is on you to demonstrate a man returned from the dead, not on others to prove he didn’t.

      I suggest your read Gary’s latest post. You’re far too desperate for your beliefs to have some sort of intellectual underpinning when they don’t. Your willingness to regard William Lane Craig as an intellectual giant demonstrates just how much you’re ready to believe almost anything!

      Liked by 1 person

  24. BTW, that the New Atheists have been bad for the atheist movement as a whole has been widely recognized among serious atheist thinkers for several years now. See below excerpts of https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/nov/30/we-can-save-atheism-from-the-new-atheists . New Atheism has been great for the bottom lines of Dawkins, Harris and the late Christopher Hitchens (whom I consider to be the most intellectually rigorous among all the New Atheists even though he shared with them some of the other shortcomings listed below) but not so good for those who would like to see atheism as a respected option.

    “Dawkins and Harris are still, by far and away, the most recognisable frontmen for the New Atheist show. So how did a movement ostensibly full of progressives end up so identified with writers who sound less and less like incarnations of pure reason and more and more like your Islamophobic uncle after he chugs his sixth pint?”

    “As a philosophical tendency, the New Atheists were popularisers rather than innovators, using advances in biology and neuroscience to illustrate pretty well-worn arguments against religion. Indeed, in some crucial ways, they represent an intellectual step backward from a left that had recognised atheism as necessary but scarcely sufficient.

    As early as 1842, Marx dismissed those who trumpeted their disbelief to children as “assuring everyone who is ready to listen to them that they are not afraid of the bogeyman”. For him, intellectual disproofs of God were trivial; what mattered was building a world that didn’t give rise to mystification of any kind.

    That is, if you investigate the material basis of religious belief, you immediately confront a phenomenon that operates on many different levels. In particular circumstances and particular settings a faith may function as a guide to morality, or an aesthetic, or a social network, or a collection of cultural practices, or a political identity, or a historical tradition, or some combination of any or all of those things.

    You don’t have to be a believer to see that religion genuinely offers something to its adherents (often when nothing else is available) and that what it provides is neither inconsequential nor silly.

    By contrast, the New Atheists engage with religion purely as a set of ideas, a kind of cosmic rulebook for believers. On that basis, it’s easy to point out inconsistencies or contradictions in the various holy texts and mock the faithful for their gullibility.

    But what happens then? You’re left with no explanation for their devotion other than a susceptibility to fraud. To borrow Dawkins’ title, if God is nothing but an intellectual delusion then the billions of believers are, well, deluded; a collection of feeble saps in need of enlightenment from their intellectual superiors.

    That’s the basis for the dickishness that so many people now associate from the New Atheism, a movement too often exemplified by privileged know-it-alls telling the poor that they’re idiots. But that’s only part of it. For, of course, the privileged know-it-alls are usually white and those they lampoon the most are invariably Muslim.”

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    1. Younger generations of Christians in educated regions of the world are leaving the religion in the tens of thousands. Belief in superstitions, including religious superstitions, is in decline. This is largely due to one factor never present before in the history of humankind: the Internet.

      How wonderful!

      Imagine a world where little children do not grow up being taught to fear capricious invisible spirits and ghosts. What a wonderful world!

      Liked by 1 person

  25. To all,

    To supplement what I said earlier about how New Atheism looks like. Haaretz is an Israeli, left leaning publication akin to the New York Times. You might get an error that it’s behind the paywall but getting there from Google lets you read the whole thing. As the article says, the problem with being driven by hate -as the New Atheists were(are)- is that you end up becoming like the very thing you despise. All the arguments that I have seen thrown at me in this thread -including the insults- sounded a lot as coming from somebody playing the New Atheism playbook. Not good!

    https://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-what-do-new-atheists-and-christian-fundamentalists-have-in-common-1.5362079

    ” What do the self-anointed high priests of non-belief known collectively as New Atheists have in common with Christian fundamentalists?

    Though this may sound like the opening line to a joke, the punchline is actually not terribly funny, especially given its dire consequences. The answer is a deep distrust and a profound misunderstanding of Islam and the Muslim world.

    This was amply illustrated in a recent email exchange in which the well-known New Atheist and neuroscientist Sam Harris decided, uninvited, to pick an intellectual fight with America’s leading political dissident, the scholar Noam Chomsky. After reading the debate, I was left with the impression that Harris has a knack for speaking truth to the powerless – and in doing so, sounds quite a lot like the religious fundamentalists he so disdains. “

    Like

  26. @Gary

    “Younger generations of Christians in educated regions of the world are leaving the religion in the tens of thousands. Belief in superstitions, including religious superstitions, is in decline. This is largely due to one factor never present before in the history of humankind: the Internet.”

    Actually, you’ve got your statistics wrong. The world is becoming more religious, not less: http://time.com/3769287/religion-atheists-study/ . Certain parts of the Western World -which are the ones committing a demographic harakiri – are the one that are becoming less religious but they are being replaced by religious people. Asia and Africa are the continents where Christianity is growing the fastest. In China https://www.economist.com/briefing/2014/11/01/cracks-in-the-atheist-edifice “Many experts, foreign and Chinese, now accept that there are probably more Christians than there are members of the 87m-strong Communist Party. Most are evangelical Protestants.”

    I think that you are still under the spell of New Atheism’s cons.

    Like

    1. “educated regions of the world…”

      I was very careful in the selection of my wording.

      I am fully aware that Christianity (and Islam) are growing rapidly in Africa and Asia (and Islam is expected to overtake Christianity in population totals in the not to distant future). However, in the educated world, Christianity is dying.

      The answer to this situation is NOT to uneducate the West, but to educate the less educated areas of our planet where superstition still grips the fearful imagination of less informed men and women.

      Let us double our efforts to give each and every one of them: an education, economic opportunity, and…unfettered access to the Internet!

      Like

  27. @Gary

    Dreams of atheistic, enlightened utopias led by enlightened leaders as as old as the enlightenment itself (ie, 1600-1700s). We have enough data to show that not only these utopias don’t happen but to assert that when those who used these arguments to seek them, the result is destruction (Soviet Union, Cuba, China and its cultural revolution, etc). Further, that, as it happened in the Soviet Union or as it is happening in China, the process only causes religion to underground, not to make it go away. Every time I read the word “educate” in the context of teaching the “goodness” of atheism, the Soviet Union comes to mind.

    As the article from The Guardian mentions above ” As a philosophical tendency, the New Atheists were popularisers rather than innovators”. You are not saying anything new, just recycling known bad ideas -both in theory and in practice- that were made “popular” by the New Atheists among those who were sympathetic to their views. These tended to be, in my experience, people with limited knowledge of history and philosophy.

    Like

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