by A. Uiet Bhor
Religions claim to have many things to offer many virtues lacking from secular philosophy, I’m going to address this.
I recently read an interview with Richard “The Meam Man” Dawkins, he was going on about how truth was so important to him, and how he wanted others to see the world the way he did, but he admitted there was a vacuum when religion was removed. He said he was unable to fill it, that he could only speak for himself and how happy he was. Fair enough, but I reckon I can go one better.
I required the same conclusions as to the meaning of life, the nature of the universe, and the virtue of the scientific method, but from a completely different angle, that of morality. To me the inherent value of human life was self evident, and only philosophies that served life without subverting it through its own self interest were good enough to be considered applicable to answer the questions posed by sentient existence. Life is more important than truth, but if the quest to serve the former leads to the later all the better.
My life has been guided by the principle of humanity first, and the horrible realisation that most of my species was barking up the wrong tree. No religion was clearly good enough; non delivered the minimum required humane properties, by any conceivable standards. The only people who would claim otherwise were those with a vested interest in the faith in question, and whose opinions could be ruled inadmissible though bias. As my only bias was humanity, only such an agenda could be considered moral, as morality has to be defined by what reduces human suffering to a minimum. Always aiming at an “ideal amount of zer0 suffering” as I tend to say. Except for pain via exercise, birth, and others intrinsic to human existence, I should say unnecessary pain really.
I then went through metaphysics in about a second, nothing concrete there, just words, and I was after results. Then there’s philosophy, this I’m still working on, but many are too abstract, or to removed from the objective reality of humanities existence to be useful. The work of Bertrand Russell, Voltaire, Socrates, Joseph McCabe, inspired me, but it’s work in progress, as long as I’m finished by the end of my life, that’s the important thing.
There is one thing however that I can deal with now, and that is religion. I’ve studied it more than anything else, and always will, it as always held a horrifying fascination for me, but I can’t stand by any longer. Atheism is under attack in America and the Pseudo sciences are gaining ground, and most scientists haven’t waken up to the fact that their tolerance, or humouring of it through religious or spiritual language is helping those with agendas that stand opposed to that of truth and secular morality. These people cannot win; the Meam Man needs help. He seems to be the only one who can see what’s going on, creationism et al piss him off, he sees the purity of science being contaminated by these perverted hybrids of lies and half truths. Other scientists and teachers who have begun to cotton on, have put it down to their failure to teach the difference between science and made up bull, but it more than that, Newton’s legacy is being demonised by the masters of the art. The war to de-throne science is on.
Let’s be clear before I start, science is not amoral, it in itself has a culture that, if transplanted onto society can lead to enormous improvement, the true scientific community is dedicated to the search for truth, noble in itself but it’s the way they do it that’s important. They have a yearning for knowledge for its own sake, like an inquisitive child, no other goals, but truth itself. When a theory, beloved of a scientist is debunked, his or her ideal reaction is joy. In research for every door that closes another one opens.
Even if this ideal was never realised in the lab of reality, it is still a wonderful notion of selflessness. Ego would not be allowed to come before the interests of science as a whole, if applied to a moral society this could bring about an altruistic mindset with as many positive applications as it creates in the collective achievements of science. Then there’s the fact that science ignores borders, is pear reviewed, open to all, an Israeli scientist makes a discovery and it is of immediate interest, and maybe even help to every other scientist on the planet, Arab, or xtian or atheist, the work comes first. All achievements are collected together united across all divides, all generations, every single scientist contributing to the whole, every failed experiment or debunked theory still ads data, and helps the rest.
I never judge an ideal by anything other than it’s results, that why I’m not religious. Science is mostly only as “good” as the people who use it, so it’s humanity as a whole that we need to focus on, but science has shown us a way to do that.
I was never popular with the lecturers at art college because I kept questioning the status of the great masters, who I felt were over rated, I realised to late my terminal scepticism was more suited to science were such attitudes are actually encouraged. This is because it has learned it’s lesson, whenever it got dogmatic about the revealed wisdom of old, Aristotle et al, their preconceptions were shattered and they were made to look complete dolts by some maverick on the edge, daring to question the status quo. Providing a new idea has solid reasoning and evidence anything can be excepted eventually. Try to get all theists to accept a new idea.
There is a mistaken impression that sceptics and atheists go about removing god and miracles from people’s lives because we enjoy destroying people's dreams and innocent presumptions, and are miserable doubters.
What people fail to realise is that many of us do this because we are very worried about the consequences of belief. When you start hanging everything on god, you lose your moral responsibility to your humanity, to other people, and the world as a whole, and you only become responsible to god, the moral consequences of which have proven to be quite disastrous.
It is our concern for life & reality that turns us against religion. We are not out to harm people not out to cause mischief, we genuinely think that we are doing what is best for humanity by debunking beliefs. This is what it means to be a sceptic an atheist, wanting to get the truths and being very worried due to our knowledge of the consequences of religion. We are not going around saying that there are no fairies at the bottom of the garden or Santa Claus isn't real to children. We'd be happy to leave everybody alone with their beliefs and constant references to god in everyday conversations and thought. But these beliefs have major consequences and we can't just ignore the crucial power religions have. The problem is most theists are complacent about their religion, they don't really think about what is going on the world and the part that religion has to play in its problems unless that religion happens to be opposed to theirs.
We care, we care a lot, some of us care too much, theists often only see the debunking and the sceptical side of us. We don't go around getting rid if people's dreams and allusions for the sake of it, we do it for a greater, higher purpose, life and morality. These things are important to theists as well, but because they recognise their deities, or sacred laws, or other theological concepts as being of equal if not of greater weight, these important things which are acknowledged by all, are only truly recognised as being of ultimate significance to the sceptics and the atheists. Consequently we are drawn into conflict with the believers.
The following is a work in progress, I’m still working on the second section, and will be glad to hear from anyone with advice on my answers or with more “quotes” to include in the next one.
Claims from the theists, some are just general statements, some are specific comments taken from debates I have had.
"As a believer my life is so much more meaningful"
Theists are not capable of living life to the full as much as an atheist, they don’t even realise what life really is. They are made to picture it as an intermediate test between infinite alternate existences. Many spend much of the time preparing for the after life, but as there isn’t one this is a complete waste of time. To waste one second of your life praying, going to church, confessing, participating in a foolish empty ceremony, is a terrible abomination in the eyes of a godless person, as they will never get that time back. It’s an investment that will never pay off. The only way to live a worthwhile life is to contribute to the world, create a legacy for mankind, through science, art, children, humanitarianism, charity, serving the many higher purposes that actually exists as opposed to all the ones that don’t. The meaning you may feel is not an accurate reflection of reality as much as you would like it to be, its capacity to make you feel special does not validate it. You have to stop be so selfish and realise meaning depends on the individual and his/her relationship with others. You have to figure yours out on your own, and the responsibility is also yours to bear, there’s no deity to take it away for you. We all have different meanings, as were all too different to share an identical one, handed down from some authority, I guarantee their meaning is meaningless, it just happens to make sense to the ill informed. We have the freedom to decide it for ourselves not have it dictated from on high, what we are defines us, to reduce us to what a god what is to demean us, we are worth more than that.
"Being religious makes you a better person, take it away and you have no reason to help others"
Bull, altruism is the greatest moral philosophy, if there is a vacuum when religion is removed then helping others is the key. Helping someone rewards you instantly, gives purpose, gratification in itself, and the self evident worth of humanity makes many dedicate themselves to assisting all they can, with out thought of gods and after lives. The universe is oblivious to us; we are on are own, no on to look after us, no one but ourselves. NO eternal reward and punishment system, NO other realities conveniently based on archaic ideas of right or wrong, and ruled by anthropomorphications of good and bad.
If there is to be any ultimate salvation it is up to us and our descendants to achieve, for them do we act, as our ancestors acted for us, and before that, are pre human predecessors struggles against long extinct terrors. For their children they struggled, for us and not their own personal paradise, and it is our responsibility to continue, and recognise who we do this for, people we cannot see, cannot hear, but nonetheless we know will be there when we die. No one alive today is descended from one who broke this chain. This is not just about the need to procreate, but make the world in our image, so that there may be less pain, less disease, less war, and more food, more education, more compassion.
In every way we have made improvements to human life though science, philosophy, art, and just the desire to better our existence. Some do this for their family, some for their nation, and others for all, the last may be the greatest, though all contribute and only time will tell how important was each part. This is selfless creed, and the lie that atheism is immoral has to end. It has to potential to build on it’s pure foundations and come closer to utopia as we can ever get. Atheism is a blank state we can tear it down and start from scratch whenever we need to, all aspects can be improved, all modified to remain the constant moral force of our lives. Try to improve any passages in the bible, no matter how much bloodshed they cause, and feel the weight of the purists come down upon you.
From a purely scientific viewpoint, a human life is by far the most important and precious thing in the universe. Most of what exists, (baring dark-matter) is energy, and hydrogen, then helium, and every now and again an exploding star creates other types of matter, much of which become planets, all of which decay into uniform energy. This is a common pattern and the only thing that defies this cycle is life, the only example we know of being on this planet. Its is therefore absolutely precious and unique, whether or not any more life exists in the universe.
Its amazing properties can be observed quite dispassionately, even if there were atheist who didn’t appreciate life aesthetically from a biological perspective it is intricately interesting, and worth preserving above all other things in existence. The power of evolution is still being fathomed, as well as the nature of DNA and genes, and life’s implications on chemistry and physics is still being discovered. Even if we were all un-religious, soulless, emotionless, amoral entities, there would still be every reason to preserve all life, its value is self evident regardless of any spiritual leanings.
Then there is humanity, a species, that although physically is no more remarkable than most mammals, has cognitive powers that allow for the perceptive creation of entire universes inside each human mind. With unlimited learning capabilities, the capacity to understand and manipulate all around including itself, possessing personalities, each one utterly unique, irreplaceable, with a finite time so therefore each second should be treasured, and made full use of, and the life prolonged and valued above even other forms of life. Each person governed by emotions, needs, wants, and creative abilities that make the species the most unique and important resource that is known to itself, and to the objective reason and logic that may outlive it.
The closest to immortality for those who still persist in that selfish quest is to make something that can be passed down through the generations. Both good deeds and bad will outlive you, decide which you want to be remembered by. Writing a symphony, painting a masterpiece, are things only a few can do, but anyone can help someone else, and there are plenty of people who need help, now. If you have children, then teach them to be selfless and you will be doing the successive generations a great service. If you truly want to help others as you claim, do so not for selfish ends but as a decent person, an example to others of goodness itself, not of religious principle. Don’t you see religions sully altruism by inventing selfish ends? Heaven, immortality rapture etc. It is far better to do good that you can see for yourself and be sure of, than hand over money to a collection plate, and take their word for it that good will be done with your money. Your temple is an unnecessary middleman, be direct, good deeds are what do good, not worshipping the right god.
“What about the wager?”
Pascal’s wager is for the selfish, my version is better. Do selfless actions without belief, and if there is no god you would have lead the best life you could with your finite existence.
If god does exist and he punishes you for leading a good life without him then he is clearly an immoral egotistical douche who didn’t deserve your praise anyway! How’s that?
“Religion inspires me to higher things than exist outside the physical world”
Leaving aside the fact that there is still no evidence that anything outside the physical world is actually real, what makes you think these things are so important? Why should they be when what we know is important, life and humanity, definitely exists predominantly in the physical world, and possibly only there.
There may seem virtue in the teaching of religion but these higher purposes even when they do result in good deeds encourage them for motives other than good for its own sake. Motives such as to get into heaven, please god, make up for sin, spreading a faith, saving a “soul”. These are not necessarily good in themselves, you are only told that they are. The problem is that there are many other things that one can do to achieve these religious goals that are defiantly not good, holy war, oppression of women, animal or child abuse, terrorism, torture, bodily mutilation. Religious goals need to be taken out of the equations, they clearly do more harm than good, seeing people do terrible things for motives that are just made up and meaningless religious dogma is enough to drive one insane with the pointlessness of it all. God is an unnecessary middle man, cut him out and what you are left with is a clear, pure, noble truth, human life is the most important thing in the universe, and nothing should be made more so.
“My religion can unite the world in brotherhood, one nation under god etc”
Religion is not a uniter of people, it is the great divider, do you honestly think the rest of the world will see the light and give up their own beliefs? When has that ever seemed likely? No religion will ever gain ascendance over the other, they are all just as determined and convinced as yours and the more convinced you are the more they will be. Look at the increase in xtianity in America, correlating to the increase in Islam in the Middle East, is either doing any good for international relations? No, they are only heightening tensions between the west and the Middle East. That’s basic Newtonian physics.
When Iraq was under Sunni control it warred with the Shiite Iran, now the Shiites are in control and they and the Sunni minority are at each others throats, and to make matters worst evangelists brought in from America are going in to add yet more division. Who knows how many more Iraqis will die at the hands of other Iraqis due to rival faiths? The divisions in the Christian denominations are irreconcilable, and there are more new ones every year. Can you see Catholics and Mormons uniting? There are so many other cases of suffering as a result of divisions, which would otherwise not exist. With no faith, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel/Palestine, India, Pakistan, would all be at peace. No faith has the right to us the term “peace on Earth” it its sermons, it does not reflect the reality of religion. All dogmatic absolutes lead to irreconcilable division, the only exceptions are religions based on moral principles. The ideal is not the reality.
”The Bible explains how we got here”
Get real, just because a few ID nuts write a few fancy books doesn’t make their work proper science. Real scientists publish peer reviews articles; not begging the question paperbacks based on other people miss-quoted research. It is but the work of a moment for anyone with real scientific understanding to see through these shallow claims. They are written in order to con the layperson or student into become a activist for there cause. They are trying to bypass the 1st amendment to get their crap in public schools by conning the public. The correct judge of what is science lies with the scientist, not the naive parent or pupil, you don’t get physicists walking into churches saying their work proves all theological arguments are false, or the bible is a hoax. They are not qualified for that, and although there may be creationists with PhDs they are rarely in areas they have the right to publish “findings” in. They are just academics who have been programmed to get their agenda of conservative or full right wing xtians into as many areas of American life as possible.
This is not about evolution Vs creationism, as if evolutions was some questionable theory that can be removed from the bulk of scientific knowledge without any trouble, it’s the backbone of all biology for feck’s sake. This is about science Vs religious authority, same as in Galileo’s time. It’s not just Darwin’s work that creationism is against, its geology for daring to say the world is older than 6000 years old, or wasn’t created in a day. Its against astrophysics, cosmology and astronomy for claiming the universe is billions of years old and trillions of light years in depth, this contradicts creationist’s calculations for the probabilities of life spontaneously developing on earth, as well as their precious 6000 years. Its against palaeontology for daring to suggest dinosaurs lived millions of years ago, and that transitional fossils have been found, not to mention evidence of our simian ancestors. And then there’s chemistry, particularly the attempt to create self replication matter using materials resembling the early earth, that they constantly claim are failing to make any progress, even though they are. And of course physics, trying to prove light speed calculations are all wrong, as well as the rate and nature of radioactive decay and entropy, again so they can fiddle with calculations for their model of the universe, which unfortunately happens to contradict all known objective evidence. Remember these creationists didn’t stop being scientists when they started talking about god but when they stopped publishing legitimate findings and research.
The choice is yours, either you go with all genuine science all just shift your brain into neutral and let these fundie Idiots just make it up as they go along.
“We know our place in life”
Yer, if your happy for women to become foetus factories under the god that is man. For blacks to be the Hamish slaves, the pagans, righteous targets for extermination, the gays as fire wood, the unruly child to be murdered, the Jew the Christ killer, for the one who dares ask questions to be swallowed up by the earth. Need I go on? Probably.
“ It sets us free from the enslavement’s of life”
It was Sparticus that was crucified for trying to end slavery, not Jesus.
”Life is clearly designed by a perfect being”
Check out Oolon Colluphid’s Detecting design study and still say that. www.freewebs.com/oolon"
”The Bible is the basis for modern law”
Oh yer, there were no laws before xtianity, that’s why civilisations like the Babylonians, Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, Sumerians, Chinese, Indians didn’t appear till after Jesus! Der! What do you think they used to prevent crime, Robocop? Seriously this is dumb dumb time, if you think the laws of the west are based on the bible. Point to the bible commandment that corresponds to a modern law, that wasn’t from Hannerabi or the Romans. The OT laws, (those that apply to gentiles) were based on Babylonian/Sumerian edicts and the NT doesn’t have any commandments, just moral suggestions that can hardly be made into working laws. How do you enforce “love they neighbour”? At most, the bible has created a sense of charity, and behaviour, but the Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Jews, Buddhists who live in my county all have similar if not superior standards, common to all people. It’s called instinctive empathy, or basic good, unless your suggesting only xtians can be good, in which case go live on mars and leave the rest of the human race alone you sanctimonious twit!! *calms down, chews biscuit* s’okay just give me a minute. *has minute* you’ll excuse me, I just get het-up when I hear that sort of thing, even when I’m writing it myself. However my point is the human race is not divided into “them and us”, there has to be a sense that we are all ultimately one. All peoples have created cultures, societies, traditions, and although the west has been heavily influenced by xtianity, I tend to regard most of it as being for the worse, and the few virtues we have from it are not unique to the west.
Many other cultures have influenced us, especially mongrel nations like the US and the UK. There are unfortunately many who think of everything in terms of their brand of deity, but there are many others that don’t, and they are no less part in western culture for that. If anything, it’s our non-xtian, or non conformist ancestors of the enlightenment and other revolutions that have made us what we are, and a lot of progress has been made, unique to the west, in spite of, not because of, the bible. It doesn’t mention democracy, human rights, abolitionism, sexual/racial equality, freedom of speech or free publishing as legal entitlements. Try to live in a county without these things, go on try.
The bible is not of interest to the progressive reformer for what it does mention but for what it doesn’t. Many people have had progressive ideas and found that religion stood in the way of their implementation, which is why many freethinkers turned against the church.
“The stories in the Babble are very good, and inspiring”
So? Go to the fiction section of any book-store, there are plenty more were they came from.
“Jebus™ loves me!”
If you need an invisible Nazarene tramp to feel loved you are a very sad person, six billion people for company, and you go for a character in a book. If that’s where you get your friends see above for advice on finding more.
“I don’t what to go to hell”
Who would? Lucky it for us it doesn’t exist, (Whew!).
Think about it, if heaven and hell are so important how come there not mentioned until the end of the bible, should they not have been a major part of Jewish faith? Then how come they only have a very different idea of heaven, and only introduced recently? This suggests the idea was only put in by the later writers to add an extra carrot and stick, as talk of temporal reward/punishments were so obviously not fooling anyone, and that Job “mysterious ways” explanation just took the piss.
If fear is the only thing keeping you in church then you might as well admit that it’s just an extortion racket, I prefer not to negotiate with terrorists, especially ones with lame ass threats like that. If you feel you need hell fire to keep you on the strait and narrow then you can’t have much intrinsic goodness in you and you probably deserve to go there.
“I’ve seen god with my own eyes”
Is it just me or are these suggestions getting worse? Sorry it’s just me, as I’m the one writing them, but anyway, if you think you have, that is just what you have experienced. To anyone else it is just your claim, and hearsay is not proof. Unless you can prove you are a prophetic messenger, miracles and so on then a reasonable person would, (should) not just take you word for it, but go with more reasonable and empirical models of the universe rather than the one in your head.
Another persons mental problems shouldn’t be allowed to influence others, mentally ill people can cause enormous problems for others. They can effects other peoples mental health, (I nearly had a nervous breakdown due to another persons schizophrenic condition), it can inspire devotion in impressionable others, similar to tribes in the Americas that believed madmen were blessed by the gods and were hollowed, not a very good idea. The amount of rituals based on obsessive compulsive behaviours, or epileptic fits misdiagnosed as possession, or deformities put down to ill-led previous lives, or diseases considered “just” punishments, has resulted in terrible suffering out of ignorance.
The only way to avoid such nightmare scenarios is through education and scientific understanding. In days past when such things were unavailable, we all would have been party to absurd ideas or unjust practices. Now we have the ability to know better, it would be a crime not to use the information we’ve gained and to shrink back into ignorance. Like witch doctors objecting to vaccinations, Catholics preventing condoms being used to prevent STD’s in Africa, or creationists rejecting to evolution based treatments for HIV. If the xtian fundies had their way we’d just stand back and let it kill everyone, rather than stop god with his clearly tailor made “gay buster”. When faith prevents science from saving lives due the preference for the opinion of a long dead madman over generations of proven understanding, that’s when its time to just say “piss off you stupid superstitious prat!” and just get on with it regardless of their objections.
You may disagree, regarding you traditions as being genuine “higher guidance” instead of just looking like its out the head of a nut case, but that’s just a matter of faith. You can’t except others to give up the reasonable and humane interpretations in favour of what sounds like the equivalent of a weather forecast by interpreted chicken entrails.
At the end of the day we either believe you or we don’t. As the only evidence we need for the theory that you’re nuts is the fact that your saying these things, and the evidence for your claim amounts to sod all, don’t be surprised it you end up in a padded cell.
“You hate god© or you’d be an xtian/Muslim/whatever”
Sure, I go around hating non-existent nature anthropomorphications like nobodies business! Every morning I wake and say, “Which cultures deity shall I hate today? Zeus, or how about Bas, that cat goddess?” Ooh how I hate those things! And sometimes I take my anger out on passing saints, last week I beat up the patron saint of cough sweets, ooh how he squealed, just like that unicorn I mugged! Then I tie up pixies and us them for a piñata! Then, of course I spread racist slurs about trolls and what they get up to with dragons! Why, only on Friday I wrote on a toilet wall with my best day glow graffiti can, the immortal words “ Hou Ji the Chinese grain god has gay sex with Hikule’o the Samoan deity of the Tongan islands, pass in on!” Then there’s all the death threats I send to the mermaids down the road, not to mention the abuse I give my neighbours, Great Eagle and Elvis the god of Elvis impersonators, and people who keep claiming they saw him working at McDonalds.
The main problem here is that believers can’t seem to grasp that there are people who DON’T BELIVE IN MADE UP STUFF! GET IT? Evolution is not a region! Non Christian scientists are not pagans! And there is not an Evil Atheist Conspiracy™! (Outside that stupid web site, which in case you hadn’t heard is being satirical) I may slag off the god in the bible but that to me is just a character in a book. A character who’s attitude and behaviour I strongly disapprove of, that doesn’t mean I am against the idea of a supreme being, I’d just hate it to be the guy described in the O.T.
In and attempt to demonise not just rival faiths, but people who have decided not have anything to do with the whole sorry mess, they refuse to believe in atheism, oh the irony! They assume that as they can’t get by without their weekly edible rabbi fix, the rest of us must be on something too, as if getting off the stuff was impossible. Well I’ve been clean now for over 15 years, and I feel great, I can run up the stairs again and my doctor says I might live another 40 years! I quite so can you! Go on give it a try!
“Hey, this is the 21st century, we’ve progressed, we have women priest now!”
I admit, I disapprove of women priest, but then I disapprove of male ones, I wouldn’t say no to an ordained snail, as long as his mouth was sown shut.
But anyway, a woman priest makes as much sense as a Jewish Nazi. Of course, Christianity hasn’t treated women as bad as the Nazis treated the Jews, no, the Jews got the soft end of the intolerance sword, at least most of the Jews were dead before they were roasted. With women it was always stipulated that they be alive and the flame a slow roasting one, and this went on for centuries.
The same goes for black priests, or even black xtians at all, how many more Africans were taken across the Atlantic because of the churches efforts to justify the practice? It’s like when Jews convert to Christianity, it just feels like there’s something wrong with the natural order of things. How can you be part of a legacy that included the persecution and slaughter of your own denomination let alone other humans? I’m a white, English male with no history of xtians doing anything to my ancestors (much) and I’ve never met an xtian that even remotely offended me, yet I would be a traitor to by species if I even encouraged them! Is it just me or have people got really short memories?
“I’m scared of death”
Death is only a tyranny when we allow it to over shadow our lives, but when we invent pretty fantasies to vanquish that shadow we are under the tyranny of those fantasies.
For more details - see reality.
“ Mankind’s knowledge is finite, you cannot understand the mystery of god™®”
Mystery is a good way of hiding what isn't there.
Honestly how can a primate, and therefore something that is curious about everything, be happy with that? The priest puts us all down, but never explains his devotion to something he admits no one can understand, using that faith dodge again.
If we can never understand god, why does the bible bother to go into so much detail, about what that god wants, why explain creation at all, if the deeper meaning is beyond us? Why not just give us the required scientific or intellectual understanding to comprehend what it’s all about. That is of course if god works through science, if not, why not explain his orders and tell us to get on with it, instead of writing all those psalms, praising over and over again his wisdom and goodness that we cannot ever comprehend? Did they have some sort of higher understanding we don’t have know? Theist would say they had faith to understand, so how come the faithful now can’t explain the apparent problems with god’s actions to others? Why does he look to my understanding like a brutal psychopath, I’m I more moral than god is, if not what’s going on? Have I misinterpreted it all? Because it only makes sense as an ancient mythology about a god, no more enlightened than another of it’s era. We have surpassed the wisdom, knowledge and power of all the gods and prophets today, I see nothing in the bible left to surpass.
As far as I can tell, nothing is beyond the comprehension of mankind, the universe is awesome but so are we. All attempts to prove the bible is unassailably good, or knowledgeable and failed.
“Jesus died for your sins, don’t be ungrateful! See him suffer in the passion, don’t you feel guilty he had to do that?”
Great, resorting to guilt pressure, not to mention the original ad homonym. Emotionalism is the sign that they’ve run out of “rational” arguments and resorted to sentimentality. As for the passion, it’s a film, likes the original plays are just plays, and the bible is just a book. Emotion is not a solid foundation from which to built a life, its fades, it need to be constantly reinforced, it fucks up the judgement, as anyone who’s been in love will know.
“There are good solid reasons to consider god’s©®™ existence”
You cannot argue for a rational belief in god before you have a reason to consider his existence in the first place. That reason cannot exist unprompted, it has to be derived from data gained from investigation, but unless a thinker allows himself to be influenced by others he has no reason to investigate. Were would he begin anyway? Can an impartial investigator with no presumptions or prior knowledge find anything that conclusively demonstrates the existence of a particular deity?
It is only under the influence of others that one begins to acknowledge that a god may exist.
No one has, with no preconceptions explored the world and found reason to believe in the god of any particular faith. Maybe though introspection he may decide a being exists, based on a limited understanding of reality, but no one from out of a vacuum as said, “I’ve found a god called Jesus!” All who “discover” him knew of the proposed existence of said entity from someone else, or from religious literature. It is all about information handed out from one point spreading outwards, bias though the influence of others. No one independently came up with the same faith. Not even though personal “revelation” which would have been convincing. I don’t ask for much, just a faith that doesn’t look just like all the others, and cannot be reasoned away. The “good solid reasons” are only evident following influence and bias.
"Even with Evolution you admit that life had a beginning, so why block out the possibility that god was responsible?"
Well, its all about probability, Darwin showed that life could develop from an amoeba to us without external guidance, so it is reasonable to conclude that in all probability life was created from a similar self propelling process. Evolution shows many incredible things can come into existence from something much simpler, and it is only applying this model to the very beginning that leads to a reasonable naturalistic understanding.
Abiogenesis as made enough progress were we can say it is at least possible that life originated by combination of chemicals, it may seem a strange idea, but so was evolution as a whole. Yet here we are and even the hardest things, such as eyes, and wings have been explained, at least to my satisfaction, I just require enough evidence for reasonable cause, that’s all, I see millions of pieces for evolution, not one for god, and believe me I have looked. To except all life today is the product of natural forces, but insist that I should consider god for the start, when it seems a rather unlucky jump from what we know to what we don’t, is an unreasonable suggestion. Why does it seem likely? We have simplicity, why introduce unnecessary complexity, we’d only have to start again, when we are so close to the end. I want the truth, and the truth to me is whatever answers all my questions in a convincing way.
I just a take a bit more convincing that you average sheep that’s all. I listened to both sides and made a judgement call, I am entitled I think, and now I realise there was only one real option anyway, as the other side cannot even convince me it deserves to be even considered. It is an illegitimate pretender, that lacks all the honesty and virtue of its rival. In science respect has to be earned to given out automatically as if it was some inalienable right.
“Give up your worldly ways, your materialism is demeaning to your soul”
In order to present god as higher that anything in the world they have to demean the world. You believers don’t respect the world, or see there is anything worthwhile about it, despite the fact that genesis calls it “good”. You try to make out that all will come to dust and nothing outside your spiritual realm actually matters, and that to consider the world to be all there is, despite all there is in it, this makes one a shallow “materialist”. Xtians particularly have this image of the atheist as a drunker, porn reading, cocaine taking, whore using empty shell, going from one meaningless and short lived pleasure to another. There may be people like this, but I’d be surprised if none were xtians.
Atheists are many and virtually all types of people, they’re not all this bigoted caricature you are told exists. I can only speak for myself, and I’m hardly an ideal, but none of that is me. I’m an anti materialist, I don’t like having money, I don’t like cars, clothes, possessions, other that what I need. I managed to live in Greece for 2 weeks on a small school rucksack, not for unworldly minimalism but because I enjoyed the freedom to just explore and think. I take pleasure in reading, writing, music, nature, conversation, and yes sometimes TV, (especially history documentaries) but I’d hardly regard this as lacking. I feel many things, from music, my learning of science and philosophy, and even come close to affirmation, but never from transitory things, I am constantly after meaning, I invest my time the best I can.
I have at times wasted my life, but it is mine to waste and I hate myself afterwards, but I hardly regard lying in, or spending 8 hours on a PC game a “sin” and my conscience is my judge not you or anyone else. Especially as no theist has ever proven they have any more insight into humanity than the rest of us, they’re just reading it from a book. I may criticise a person’s harmful attitudes, if I consider them hateful, inhumane or just nuts, but I don’t ever question a persons lifestyle. I would have thought it was not my business, but xtians seem to think they can poke their noses into everybody’s lives, and judge absolutely everything, I don’t tell people not to drink or gamble even though I think they shouldn’t, I have no right. No matter how sure of my ideals I can only recommend, offer advice, not insist, and bully. Why is it theist can get away with intrusive questions and methods? We give them to much leeway, and they enjoy what they never proved they deserved, they get instant cred, just for being xtian, but why? I think its time to ask some bloody hard questions, the ones they never answer.
“How can you stand to think you came from a monkey?”
Leaving aside the fact that is an ignorant oversimplification...
Because I don’t regard nature with contempt. I love and respect the animal kingdom, I see humanity as in partnership with all life. We can’t do without it, we are in symbiosis, microscopically, agriculturally and in are relation to are food, pets and helpers. Not to mention all they teach us about are heritage and the joy we get merely from sharing this planet with them. To me a simian is what we are, not are shameful past but are current state, we may one-day go beyond nature physically, but are minds came out of lesser things, and the traits are still there. If we can’t except that, we will never fully understand ourselves. Science has united all mankind, and now all life, you would have us on a pedestal, looking down on everything else with disgust, while humbling ourselves to a “higher” mind. I see nothing noble in that view, it demeans everything, when all should be exalted. We must all sanctify life itself, and channel our emotions into what is, instead, all such feelings go to that which isn’t, what a waste.
“The paradox of Scripture is that submission gives the greatest freedom and that death brings life.”
Funny, I always thought paradox meant something that was impossible or didn’t make sense!
“The Christian is constrained to face reality, he understands his responsibility for his own action and choices, the godless do not.”
Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! (I included this one just to cheer me up)
"No one can take away from Christ, either in this life nor the next. He is willing to forgive for a season, but he can only restrain the wrath of God Almighty the Father for a short while. Turn your back on sine NOW and receive life eternal and everlasting to the Glory of the Holy Father in Heaven."
This is just good cop, bad cop. Actually, that could make a good sitcom.
“That Bible Show” - This week, that nasty OT Semitic god of pork haters, has to be held back by his NT hippie son, who keeps taking the fall for everyone else, so his dad keeps changing his mind and we all live happily ever after. Next Week, ditto.
“Now that Christ has found me life is no longer senseless, random and chaotic.”
If that was your life before, I’m not surprised you decided to get reprogrammed. The rest of us however don’t need a god to sort our lives out, we can do it on our own. Independence, self respect, try it.
"Comparing Christianity to a \"fantasy matrix mind controlled cult\" is the most absurd thing i have ever heard of in my life. no one has ever in my life \'forced\' me to believe anything.”
Bully for you. If you are one of the few who chose xtianity, either though personal investigation or conversion that still makes you a minority. Most are victims of geography, and what applies to you doesn’t to everyone else.
Those who chose freely go on about choice, but what choice did the babes who were baptised then killed by the conquistadors have? Or the Jews in Spain, or heretics forcibly converted, under threat of death? The modern equivalent being ostracised from the god-fearing community. Then there’s all the dishonest, underhanded and manipulative methods used to convince people to a convert. From emotionalism, to repetition, to continual use of logical fallacies, misrepresentation, spin, false science, veiled threats, apologist double talk and forged documents. Not to mention the way churches time their proselytising to get to people when they are at their most vulnerable. “Charities” for the homeless, dependence creating “aide” for those starving in the 3rd world, the weak and sic in their hospitals, those grieving at funerals, alcoholics in AA “rehab”, counselling sessions, those with emotional problems, prisoners, the lonely.
All people in a vulnerable state, when they can’t make balanced, informed or clear decisions. Other than in cold calling, the strong are avoided, all conversion methods are designed not to give people time, it is always “urgent” you could die tomorrow the end is near etc. See mourners at funerals and the ways priests see the really upset people and the way they pounce for the kill. Kindness is often a front, making it easier to drive the message home, it is all ulterior motives. I will never trust a member of a religious establishment, as they see atheists as tickets to eternal bliss, to rack up as many “hits” as possible, And some dare to think they are doing there victims a favour!
And of course, when if someone doesn’t convert, do they respect their decision? Do they buggery, xtians keep going on and on, until he or she does. Achieving victory at all costs, as global hegemony is the ultimate prize.
The percentage of truly voluntary xtians is so small, and there’s many times when some form of manipulation still took place, that as far as I’m concerned, religions such as theirs is the mental equivalent of invasion by a foreign power. The victim subjected to enough propaganda to believe it’s in their best interests to be occupied, unless the conditioning fails, in which case they are spared, remain free or feel compelled to become a hypocritical atheist, a secretly unwilling tool. Maybe you’re one as well.
“We must spread the word, as only those who hear about Jesus will be saved”
This never makes any sense. Think about it, why would god? set things up so only those who happen to hear about his kid get into heaven and everyone else goes to hell? Why is hearing about him be so important, I understand the following of the laws thing, he wants us to be good, in which case those who are good, even without knowledge of said laws would still get into heaven. Obedience to the law being a means to an end, and if that end is arrived at independently just as good. But for it to depend on one piece of information regardless of whether a person is good or not, just seems to me a rather desperate attempt to get people into the xtian “club”.
What about people who never get to hear about xtianity, or are raised in an alternate faith and taught to consider it an enemy? Muslims consider their faith complete and superior, converting them would be hard as heck, or the people who lived before Jesus, or died before they can learn, or are raised in the wrong denomination? Some are mentally incapable of comprehending, why would god make them unable to gain this essential knowledge? It just doesn’t work, he goes from caring only about one nation to wanting everyone to know about his attempt to save said nation, resulting in an act that supposedly applies to all humanity, why were his horizons suddenly broadened? He just suddenly gives a shit? Or was it that the xtian cult leaders just stopped being so picky about the genealogy of their converts?
Some may say the many obstacles are tests, Islam is a test, the vast distances and continents new challenges, but that only looking at it from the xtian perspective, what about all the people who could never have possibly found out about Jesus before very recently? All those in Australia, the new world, India, china, were those millions for so may centuries just abandoned, sent to hell for being borne thousands of miles away from the nearest “saint”? Surely god would know that the small group he set up could only cover so much ground, and “save” so many people a generation. It just seems an odd way of doing it, messy, and inefficient. All nations to bear witness? Sounds like global domination or at least mass re-education. Maybe only those who hear but reject go to hell, but I still keep thinking about the many who never did, or will. Why not spread the “good news” from multiple locations? Why always start from one place, and with so few people? All faiths begin in one area, no god every came to 2 areas independently. Funny that. I just wish I could understand it.
Truth is good, but underrated, even what may not be true is satisfying to study, I know scripture better now even though I’m convinced it’s false. It still bugs me though, how do people rationalise their odd beliefs, or is it they just don’t think about it, scared it will fade away? I really would appreciate some answers on this one. I don’t expect anyone to explain the whole dying for our sins bit, but the necessity of conversion and its virtue over morality has me stumped. As far as I can see there is no connection between heaven and hell, as eternal punishment and reward, as a good person will be go to hell if non-xian, and a “sinner” can be forgiven and go the heaven. Were is the carrot ‘n stick the xians claim we all need to be good? Its seems xianity is amoral, based purely on the salvation model, or maybe I missing something, I can hardly be dimmer than the early coverts, didn’t anyone ask these questions?
If the salvation plan is of a higher mind, how come it resembles a load of nonsensical shite?
“You hate religion, unbeliever!”
Yer, why not? Is it wrong to hate Nazism? Is it wrong to hate Communism? They were oppressive regimes that killed a lot of people. Put simply, so is xtianity, that is a historical fact, no point arguing about it. I don’t hate xians, just what they stand for, their churches, their denominations, they have all failed. I am just sick of the whole Jesus thing, why can’t we all try something else, Epicureanism, or Buddhism? They have stood the test of time, have less to be ashamed of, seem to work, and are in every way morally superior. OK, they can’t offer you immortality in a perfect realm, but if that is the sticking point for you, then you are a selfish being.
If I love life then I have to hate what kills it, simple as that.
"Repent the end it here!"
Giving your claims a sense of urgency only works on those who believe in the first place. Why do you hate the world so much that you look forward to it being destroyed? Xtianity was originally a doomsday cult, the amount of end of days stuff, and the constant suggestion that it is near is very noticeable in the NT. They clearly imagined it would be around 70 AD, the time of the destruction of Israel, which for many Essene and zealots was the end, for the world, not just their nation, as the messianic concept was about the world’s fate resting of Isreal’s.
That generation felt it was the last before the next stage in god’s plan for them. They felt they were running out of time, due to the apocalyptic turn biblical interpretation had taken, they couldn’t imagine the world would keep on spinning without them. Their faith completely took over any sense of reality, and the NT writers were heavily influenced by this craze, but they were wrong, and 2000 years later they are still wrong. You can’t keep postponing it, saying it’ll happen “soon” as it was soon then, it can’t be soon now. It was the fanatical mentality of a small group in a highly religious county on the brink, and their writings created a desperate legacy, one I feel has run its course. We can’t keep trying to make everyone as crazed as those poor doomed Israelites, the roman empire is gone, the second temple is gone, its all over. We are left with the raw emotions, fears and aspirations of a people long ago, we cant let that dominate our world today, it was a small piece of humanity’s story, not all of it.
"Yes God did command the murder of many people and poured out his wrath on men, but so what I ask!! Who are you to question the almighty God who created you? Who are you to question the higher power? Who am I to even question this?"
His greatest creations? The beings made in his image? When we apparently ate from the tree of knowledge we gained understanding of good and evil, the biblical concept of absolute morality and became like god in every way but immortal. In which case we know his morality, we have his “knowledge” from the tree, we alone are in a perfect position to cast a moral judgement on his actions. Even if we judged him by his own laws, he is clearly immoral, he tells us not to do this or do that, then he does this and that himself. If the rules in the Bible are just, though I think they are not, then he is a hypocrite by those standards, let alone the more enlightened standards of today. And if he is not meant to follow his own rules then what kind of example is he? Surely by saying “I'm a great brilliant god who worship me”, and then by going around massacring millions of people, here is inviting some terrible atrocities that his worshippers may commit, even to the present day.
“You claim that God does not exist, that is arrogant, you cannot do that without absolute knowledge. Who can know such a thing for certain?”
I can understand how such bold claims made by positive or militant atheists can be seen as arrogance. But some of these people do have point. They are not all denying the existence of an all-powerful being as such, many are debunking specific religious claims. Many philosophers when debating about God go into an intellectual abstract definition of God. They ignore the religious claims and go into a “universalist” mode. In that sense, yes, the idea of a Einstein, Stephen Hawking style “sum of the laws of physics” God is very difficult to disapprove. In a sense you are inventing an un-provable, unfalsifiable concept, and then pointing out that it cannot be disapproved or falsified.
Obviously in that sense you cannot claim for certain that any such being does not exist. However you can point out that they have just invented this concept for the sake of argument and thusy there is no reason to believe or even debate about such a being. It is an invention, this claim is far more rational, as you are not playing their games. You are not looking at the resulting being that they have postulated and trying to tackle that, but merely pointing out that this being has been postulated, for academic reasons and not for any reason that may suggest such a being could actually exist. We may look at the universe and say “what if a conscious super being created this?”, but there is nothing specific about the universe that suggests that once you understand how it is came about naturalistically.
This idea of a universal God is made for the sake of argument, and debunking it can seem arrogant to those who forget that there is no credibility to any such claims. I would not bother making positive claims about this kind of notional deity, what I would do is attack the God of scripture. It is the religious institutions that myself and many other strong atheists take on, they claim we are arrogant and so do weaker atheists and agnostics but they miss-understand what we are saying.
It is philosophically arrogant to make an absolute statement, but that is not what we do when you say God does not exist, who are making an educated statement, and understanding that God in the vaguer sense is merely an anthropomorphication of the sum total of reality. It does not require absolute knowledge to say that, it is reducing or explaining away, but this is the conclusion you come to when you look at the only being that goes on about God, mankind. You realise that God is a projection not a viable concept in itself, no force in the universe, known element in nature, and nothing in science suggests any such entity’s existence, so you go to the source of the projection, us. You stop asking "is there are God?" and starts asking "why are we asking this?". You use methods such as psychology and sociology to deal with the real creator. The institutions we have created to maintain that God exists is what many of us consider more productive targets than God itself.
There are two ways to deal with a religion, externally by using reason, logic, evidence, science, rational dissection or critical thinking. As well as by pointing out archaeological contradictions, contemporary historical accounts that do not match, and by comparing similarities with other religions, and tracing a pattern of influence that shows that the religion in question is a product of cultural and linguistic amalgamation. Or you attack from within, by showing that the doctrine does not hold up according to it’s own internal logic. There are many ways to do this, by pointing out contradictions, scientific errors, failed prophecies or just by demonstrating that its claims or concepts simply do not make any sense.
Once you have discredited the claims made by a particular religion, then that particular God is largely out of the picture. This does not rule out the idea of a supreme being in a deistic sense, however you do not really need to, as it is not deism is that currently screwing up the world. A religion debunker must have his eye on a goal. Mine is to prevent the human suffering at the hands of religion. As a result it is not an abstract concept that I attack but the God of xtianity or Islam, and any other religions that hurt people. I by myself am a noncognitiveist, I consider the idea of God totally meaningless, we cannot really rule it out or in, or even have a productive discussion on the matter. But that has nothing to do with the God of Abraham, the specific being with a specific personality supposedly said and did specific things. And with him I have a lot of the very specific complaints.
"I live in agony till Jesus comes"
Better get used to it then.
“Yes xtians have done terrible things but don’t blame god or xtianity”
Give me one reason why not. Do you blame the terrible things the Nazis did just on the individuals who committed such acts or on the abhorrence institution that created these people? The fact is that many terrible acts done by Christians was under the orders of the Christians leaders, who used Christian doctrine to justify those orders. You cannot separate the Bible, the Christian God, the Christian institutions, the religion as a philosophy, the leaders of the religion, or the followers, they all affect each other and are all in it up to the armpits. You can study many terrible “incidents” and trace the justifications for such things back to the words of God, or specific lines in the Bible, or on interpretations of God's nature, or anything else that is an intrinsic part of Christianity. At every level in every way from every angle Christianity itself is morally abhorrence. There is no point in shifting blame as it lays not just with human weaknesses but with the religion, it is not some innocent patsy that is twisted and abused by humanity.
Yes this is at a humanly derived institution hurting human beings, and as a humanist I do ultimately lay the blame on human nature. However the Bible contains many dangerous and poisonous ideas, and the character known as God does do many terrible things. When someone kills someone else with a gun, the person responsible does get the blame, but you should also take the gun away.
Humanity is always the principal victim of Christianity and this is not about blaming someone but about protecting something far more important than any mere idea. Xianity results in suffering. Blaming the principal victim is a desperate attempt to protect your precious assumptions at the cost of something far more important, at least in the eyes of a moral person. Religion is a weapon, and I aim for total unilateral disarmament. Protecting humanity is more important than blaming it.
Although Christianity fails due to human failings, life is abused as a result of the theology itself.
Online Reading List
- An Outline of Intellectual Rubbish by Bertrand Russell (1943)
- Bible Teaching and Religious Practice by Mark Twain
- God is Imaginary
- Is there an Artificial God? by Douglas Adams (1998)
- Skeptics Annotated Bible
- The Age of Reason by Thomas Paine (1795)
- Which Way? by Robert Ingersoll (1884).
- Why I Am Not A Christian by Bertrand Russell (1927)