Friday, April 06, 2012

"Blind Faith" (?): Dialogue with An Atheist, Challenged to Produce Any "Positive" Rational Evidence for Atheism Rather Than Assertions of What Atheists Deny (vs. Jon)


By Catholic apologist Dave Armstrong

Jon is a former evangelical, now an atheist, with whom I have had cordial relations and a few amiable debates. He's been at my house in a group discussion (and probably will again), and I've attended his atheist / agnostic group several times (being the main presenter once). His website is called Prove Me Wrong. Jon's words will be in blue. The following is a condensed version of an exchange in one of my comboxes.

* * *

Well we should get together again. So much we can talk about. Are you a science denying anti-evolutionist? Just kidding with the inflammatory language there. Does God exist? Does the Bible contain errors? Is it rational to believe Jesus rose? These are all fun topics. 

How about this one: you defend atheism without running down something (or anything) else: positive reasons for why you believe as you do. Is it possible? Will the universe self-destruct if an atheist doesn't run down Christianity and the Bible to try to shore up his view? :-)

That would be a quick one though. Why don't I believe in God? Same reason I don't believe in unicorns. Because there's no compelling evidence.

What happens at that point is we start talking about evidences Christians like to offer and if I criticize them would I be breaking the rule to not run Christianity down? I'm actually pretty positive about Christianity, as you probably know. 

Why have a discussion then, if you can't offer me one positive reason why anyone should be an atheist? If something is so indefensible, it obviously isn't rational; therefore, no rational person should ever espouse it.

It's just a basic rule of argumentation that I'm sure you know. The burden of proof falls to the one that makes the positive assertion.

Let's suppose I propose the existence of an extremely small polka dotted fish which happens to have knees, toes, and feathers. I say let's have a discussion about why you don't believe in it. Why don't you believe in it? And if you have no argument other than that I haven't provided any evidence, does that make your view indefensible and irrational?

Okay, so by thus implying that you have no positive assertion about atheism to make, you concede that atheism is such that it cannot be proven at all, since it has no positive assertion: a key element of "proof."

Something that cannot be positively asserted, seems to me, to be logically reduced to mere irrationality and subjective mush. That being the case, no rational person should accept atheism; having no positive, rational proof for itself. It is only "not x."

Even rejecting Christianity or theism in general (for whatever 10,000 "reasons" you can offer up) is no reason to adopt atheism (and you now describe yourself as an "atheist" on your blog, not an agnostic, as formerly).

To say, "x version of 'God' is nonexistent" is not the same as to say "no possible 'God' can or does exist."

And having no reason for believing something is pure fideism: faith in faith, minus all reason. It requires far more faith and turning off one's rational faculties than Christianity ever did, as I have contended for 30 years or more . . .

This is profound thinking that you give us. Imagine! All you can come up with is:

"I am an atheist for no reason other than that it rejects belief in imaginary things such as unicorns, goblins, dragons, and leprechauns (among which silly things are all Christian doctrines)."

I must confess that such depths of wisdom, insight, and "proof" are quite beyond me. But I trust that with further enlightenment from you I can at least grasp why any thinking person would adopt such a ridiculous worldview that amounts to merely claiming:

"I reject patently absurd things that clearly don't exist, but have nothing positive to offer anyone in favor of my alleged belief-system. All I can do is spend my time running down myths." 

Actually I agree with you based on the way I think you are defining atheism. I can't prove there is no God with certainty, if you mean any kind of God. I don't pretend I can. When I say I'm an atheist I just mean it the same way I mean I don't believe in unicorns. 

I wasn't asking for that, but rather, for any positive arguments and reasons whatsoever . . . you have conceded that you can't even offer that, which is quite extraordinary.

I can't really prove it,. . . 

Nor, apparently, give any rational evidence whatsoever in favor of it (by your own virtual admission) . . .

but I believe it anyway.

Exactly! That is the very essence of a fideistic true believer: something I have never been and never will be, because I value reason far too much.

Thanks very much for your honest confession that an atheist can give no reason for anyone else to be an atheist other than rejecting "the belief in leprechauns and unicorns" (ho hum; big wow; yawn . . . zzzz)

Rarely has a debate been so easy . . . :-) 

It's not fideism. It's a rational belief based on the available evidence.

It is irrational mush, and a form of fideism.

Generally it's very hard, sometimes practically impossible, to prove a universal negative. But we are still rational to reject the belief in leprechauns and unicorns. Maybe for you that means I'm an agnostic, not an atheist. I have no problem with that.

* * *

Just so you know, when I invoke unicorns I don't mean it in a mocking way. Is that believable? I hope so. That's actually why I invoked a fish with odd features. I want to talk about the existence or non-existence of something neither of us believe in just so I can understand what qualifies as proof of the non-existence of a thing in your mind. Unicorns imply childish belief, and I don't think belief in God is childish and I don't want to mock it. So I just want to be clear about that.

Let's just say a fish with an odd feature. Say feathers. When you quote me above saying "I believe it" what I'm saying is I believe that there is no such thing as a fish with odd feathers. How about you? Do you believe in fish with feathers? I assume no. What if someone said this made you a fideist? Because you can't prove there are no fish with feathers, right? You can't scoop all the fish out of the ocean and check. So why do you disbelieve in fish with feathers when you can't prove it?

Really, explain the logical process that leads you to the conclusion that there are no feathered fish. I think the logic is not fideistic and leads you directly to the logic that leads me to belief in the non-existence of God.

I appreciate that you don't have a mocking intent. Neither do I. My sarcasm can get rather barbed at times, but it always has a serious polemical (socratic) intent.

I believe certain things, and I have reasons for why I believe them (now collected in 2500+ papers and 30 books).

You can't tell me why you believe what you do (i.e., in a positive and non-negative way, as I have challenged you to do): have not yet given any positive, pro-active rationale. All you can do is tell me what you don't believe, and to some extent, why.

You are spectacularly proving my point: that atheism is perfectly irrational and unworthy of allegiance on the same basis.


[possibly to be continued; will add future installments]


* * *

78 comments:

Jon said...

Just so you know, when I invoke unicorns I don't mean it in a mocking way. Is that believable? I hope so. That's actually why I invoked a fish with odd features. I want to talk about the existence or non-existence of something neither of us believe in just so I can understand what qualifies as proof of the non-existence of a thing in your mind. Unicorns imply childish belief, and I don't think belief in God is childish and I don't want to mock it. So I just want to be clear about that.

Let's just say a fish with an odd feature. Say feathers. When you quote me above saying "I believe it" what I'm saying is I believe that there is no such thing as a fish with odd feathers. How about you? Do you believe in fish with feathers? I assume no. What if someone said this made you a fideist? Because you can't prove there are no fish with feathers, right? You can't scoop all the fish out of the ocean and check. So why do you disbelieve in fish with feathers when you can't prove it?

Really, explain the logical process that leads you to the conclusion that there are no feathered fish. I think the logic is not fideistic and leads you directly to the logic that leads me to belief in the non-existence of God.

Dave Armstrong said...

I appreciate that you don't have a mocking intent. Neither do I. My sarcasm can get rather barbed at times, but it always has a serious polemical intent.

I believe certain things, and I have reasons for why I believe them (now collected in 2500+ papers and 30 books).

You can't tell me why you believe what you do (i.e., in a positive and non-negative way, as I have challenged you to do): have not yet given any positive, pro-active rational reason. All you can do is tell me what you don't believe, and to some extent, why.

You are spectacularly proving my point: that atheism is perfectly irrational and unworthy of allegiance on the same basis.

Jon said...

So when are we going to get together? Actually this week is perfect because as I mentioned my wife and kids are out of town. But I know that's short notice.

I actually could give some positive reasons for non-belief. Reasons and proof are sometimes different things though. But reasons, sure, I have good positive reasons. Lots of them.

Dave Armstrong said...

So now you have reasons! Alright! I'm glad you came up with a few, upon reflection. I know it's tough . . . :-)

I'd need to advertise way ahead of time if you are gonna visit, so this week wouldn't work.

beowulf2k8 said...

How does nothing explode?

beowulf2k8 said...

As for 'unicorns' in the Biblical sense, they did exist at one point...they just went extinct.

Today there is a one horned rhino, but its horn is made of compacted hair. Not strong enough to use its horn in the way described of the unicorn in Job.

But there used to be this thing called an Elasmotherium. Its a supposedly 'pre-historic' (ha!) rhinocerous with ONE horn made of bone. And it was giant like the size of an elephant.

Go ahead...look it up all ye unicorn deniers Aunicornists.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elasmotherium

Now because the thing died out, when people later read references to unicorns they didn't know what the thing looked like, only that it supposedly had only one horn, so some people thought it was a horse with one horn, thus the mythological unicorn was born due to miscomprehension of an extinct animal. But that doesn't prove unicorns never existed ..... it only proves that after they died out people forgot what they used to look like!

beowulf2k8 said...

An if there are positive reasons for believing that nothing can explode I'd like to hear them.

Martin said...

In my brief tenure as an atheist I believed that I had gained a freedom that I owned myself. Freed from my obligation to my Lord and my brethren and unconstrained by" artificial" obligations and laws I was free to so as I wished. . .so I rejoined the Church.

Jon said...

Of course nobody is claiming that "nothing exploded". The picture is kind of funny but I assume Dave knows that's a straw man.

What atheists generally believe is what the science can show us. We can at least mathematically model what the early universe was like. In fact we can do some measurements which confirm the predictions made by the mathematical models.

What happens at the earliest moments though is unfortunately unseeable scientifically. Our mathematical models no longer work. At that point we don't know what the laws of physics were. So here's what the atheist says. We don't know. Not that nothing produced something or something produced something. Whatever happened is something we can't seem to see. So you can speculate if you like. But you can't test it. Testing is the core of science. Since you can't test it you can't evaluate it scientifically, so naturally you can't know it scientifically.

Some people claim they know things in other ways, like Divine revelation. Obviously I can't prove that God hasn't spoken to you. Maybe he has. But he hasn't spoken to me, so I just believe things that are knowable scientifically. I find that following beliefs that are learned through other methodologies has led me astray many times.

For an atheist not knowing is fine. For a Christian that's unacceptable. When we didn't know the cause of thunder he'd say God did it. When we didn't know what caused lightning it was God. We didn't know the cause of disease so Christians attributed it to supernatural agency (demons, God's punishment). Those problems have all been solved with science, but there are still a few gaps in that knowledge. The origin of the universe is one. Nobody knows so Christians think this entitles them to shove God in that gap. Atheists just say we don't know and leave it at that.

Dave Armstrong said...

Hi Jon,

Hey; how about Saturday, April 21st, to come give a talk at my house? I propose (per this thread) that you give a positive, pro-active case for atheism, WITHOUT ever mentioning Christianity or the Bible (or even God): and I will "check" you if you do (sort of like a buzzer on a game show). :-) Agreeable?

You would do that, uninterrupted, for as long as an hour, then when the discussion begins, we would be able to talk freely about whatever we want. I think it would be fun. I hope you can bring a few of your atheist and agnostic friends along, too, so there are more of you guys. They are welcome.

Please let me know, and I will start to announce and advertise right away.

Jon said...

Well I have to be able to mention God to argue for atheism because the word atheism contains the concept of God within it, right?

Looks like that date does work for me, so I'm up for it. Last time I don't think any of my atheist friends were interested, but I'll check again. Maybe I didn't check with the right people. Also it's possible a Christian friend would be interested.

Dave Armstrong said...

"Atheism" does; we know that. But my challenge to you is to present a totally positive view, wholly apart from being opposed to anything else: at least in your talk. You can use the word "atheism" and still do that.

I could go months doing my work and never necessarily mentioning atheism, because it is irrelevant to what I believe. My deepest purpose is not to oppose anything else (though apologetics obviously involves that), but to proclaim and defend the truths of the gospel, Christianity, and Catholicism in particular.

I think you are sharp enough to do the same thing from your side: if indeed it is possible at all. I'm very curious to see how you handle the challenge.

You claim to be able to do it. Very well: you'll have your chance in a roomful of Christians who know their faith. I look forward to it!

Jon said...

Here's my plan. If this violates your conditions you'll have to let me know. I lack belief in God. That's what I take atheism to be. A lack of belief in God. I think there are good, positive, rational reasons to disbelieve in the existence of God. But to make that case I have to talk about what God is. God has to be defined and discussed in order for me to be able to justify my lack of belief. If I can't make reference to this thing that I don't believe in I obviously am not going to be able to make a case that it is unreasonable to believe that this thing exists.

If you said I must come in and defend my lack of belief in X I would have to be allowed to talk about what X is and what X is not.

Jon said...

Maybe you're just saying don't talk about Jesus, Yahweh, or the Bible. I can agree to make a case without reference to that. Obviously if we discuss Jesus as part of some side trail that's certainly fine with me.

Dave Armstrong said...

That ain't good enough, and we are back to my original challenge in this discussion. I don't want "why I reject x [Christianity / God]." I want "positive [non-polemical] reasons for why I believe y [atheism]."

We Christians are sick to death of atheist distortions of what we believe and constant negativity and carping about Christian beliefs: even when they are accurately portrayed and rejected.

Above, you stated (after I pressed you):

"I actually could give some positive reasons for non-belief. Reasons and proof are sometimes different things though. But reasons, sure, I have good positive reasons. Lots of them."

But apparently you meant: "positive reasons for why I reject Christianity."

:-) That's not what I'm looking for, my friend! I wanna see if any atheist can make his case without reference to what he rejects. We Christians do this all the time.

You can say it's impossible. That will prove my entire point in this paper.

Are you up to the challenge or not?
You can still rail against God and Christianity in the actual group discussion. You argued that Paul didn't exist last time. You were treated cordially and got out alive. :-) All I'm asking is to eliminate that in the talk itself.

Do not, e.g., the humanists do something similar in their "Manifesto"? I'd have to look at it, but I don't think it mentions God all over the place. It gives a positive presentation of what their religion is (as even the Supreme Court has defined it, I believe).

One need not believe in God to be religious. Buddhists manage to do it.

Dave Armstrong said...

My challenge means that you can't mention God at all (any conception of God: not just the Christian God), or the Bible, or any Christian belief, unless it is something you also hold.

Jon said...

I'm trying my best to grasp you here, but I'm not sure I do. Let's define an a-fethish as a guy that lacks belief in feathered fish. If I come in and say I lack belief in feathered fish I have to be able to talk about what a feathered fish is supposed to be, right?

How can I justify being a-fethish if I can't talk about what feathered fish are?

Dave Armstrong said...

Then you'll have to concede that you can't do what I am asking. I have expressed it about eight times now. I don't know how else to do it!

Dave Armstrong said...

So you're saying that it is impossible for you to give any positive rationale for your belief-system, other than "x, y, z reasons for rejecting God and Christianity"?

It's only "not something else" -- so much so that you can't even conceive of ever defending it without running down things that are other than what you believe?

I find that extraordinary, and almost equally hilarious. But then, we always highly suspected this about atheism: all it can do is bitch endlessly about Christianity and the God it claims isn't even there . . .

When push comes to shove, and we inquire about the positive substance of atheism, it turns out that there is none: you peel down the onion of atheism, only to discover that nothing is there at all: just like the beginning of the atheist universe! LOL

In fact, the same mentality is exhibited in the question of the origin of the universe: y'all can't give any sensible reason for it, but you're so "sure" it ain't God, whatever it is!

Jon said...

Here's what I think your challenge is.

"Tell us why you disbelieve in unicorns, but you are not allowed to make reference to unicorns." Is that your challenge?

If that's what you're asking me to do, that seems really hard and I'm not sure I can. I would say "I don't believe in a certain thing that I can't talk about." And I think you would all scratch your heads.

On the other hand if you want me to give good reasons for not believing in the existence of God, good positive reasons that make no reference to Christianity or Yahweh, that I can do. Is that acceptable?

Dave Armstrong said...

No; I give up with this challenge. It's an impossible goal. But your replies sure prove the point I was making in this dialogue! Thanks!

I think they have been invaluable in showing the utter lack of substance (not to mention rationality) of atheism: it's very much like an onion: examine it closely at all, and it is nothing whatever.

I always knew this, but it is rare to have it so strikingly confirmed.

Dave Armstrong said...

I've always maintained, too, that the root, basic error of atheism is irrationality, not necessarily immorality or evil intent (though those things are often present, too, and may be leading influences in many cases).

The atheist is a victim of his own irrational premises and thought processes. It's a sad thing.

I do what I can to help rectify what I strongly believe is the sad intellectual condition of the atheist and agnostic, but I can't overcome free will and refusal to examine axioms and first premises.

Martin said...

Jon is clearly smarter than I am because, if I were an atheist, I would have argued that atheism is sufficient. I can eat, drink, work, raise a family, vote and generally live and die as an atheist and not miss anything (this side of death). If an atheist is unconcerned with the origins of the universe and life itself and satisfied with a commonsense approach to morality (admittedly borrowed from Christianity)then he can function well without the extra "baggage" of religion.

Many (Most?)Christians actually function on this level. They may use their Christianity as a touchstone, a way to guide themselves as to right and wrong but they have little desire to serve and know God. Consider how many Catholic churches are supported by less than 25% of the parish, the remainder giving nothing. Consider, relative to how many Catholics there are in church on Sunday, how few show up for an abortion rally. On the face of it the average Christian and average atheist are indistinguishable.

John C. Wright was an atheist for a long time before he converted. Even when he found himself as a prolife, profamily, promarriage atheist staring at his other atheist friends and wondering what was wrong with them he did not convert. A hard headed cus, it took dying of a heart attack and having visions to finally change his heart.

Atheists win sympathy from me because, at heart, I am a GDI (God * Independent)too. One of the hardest things for me to do has been (and continues to be) not just leaning on God but realizing I am nothing without Him. Most atheists have a strong gut reaction to this idea and would rather have it their own way. Yes, that's it, the best argument for atheism is that I have it my way even when I'm wrong which, for them, is better than being right because you are believing someone else.

Jon said...

You have proved that I can't communicate effectively if I'm not allowed to define terms. I don't believe there is a God. To show that this belief is rational I have to be able to tell you what the word "believe" means, what "don't" means, what "rational" means, and yes, even what "God" means.

Based on the way I define words there's nothing irrational about defining terms. In fact it is the very heart of rationality. Logic is about the way statements relate to one another, and statements depend on words that must be defined. To ask me to be rational but then block me from attaching meaning to words is the height of irrationality.

Vicar In Training said...

Jon,

Everyone knows that Atheism is without belief in a god, or more aggressively, against belief in the idea of a god. What Dave is asking is this: what positive reasons do you have for proceding in your worldview on this belief? He's not asking you to re-hash your gripes against Christianity or Theism. We all get that you think it is irrational to believe in such things. But *positively* speaking, what is it about atheism that fills the gaps of your knowledge about the universe and everything? Absent these reasons, it seems Dave is right: Atheism is nothing more than a bitch-fest, and has nothing positive or substantive to replace these alternate views. It appears to be nothing more than a vacuous and blind following after, well, nothing. If that's the case, then why should anyone believe as you do? It's virtually the worst form of fideism I've ever seen.

St. Worm (old reader of Dave's blog, and Anglo-Catholic)

Dave Armstrong said...

Hey Worm,

Long time no see! Are you actually studying to become an Anglican priest?

I'm doing a book of John Wesley quotes right now. That may interest you. I showed with many quotes, how he was dead-set against his movement leaving the Anglican Church, and how he subscribed to all Anglican beliefs (possibly a little lower ecclesiology, though).

Jon said...

If someone says that there is a lion in my house and I say there isn't how do I go about proving that there isn't? I have to talk about what a lion is and what kinds of things I would expect to see if a lion was really in my house. Postive things, like loud roars, squeaking floor boards, feces, maybe dead animal carcasses. Seeing it would be great.

Dave is asking me to prove that there is no lion in my house, but I have to do it with my hands tied behind my back. I'm not allowed to talk about what a lion is or what characteristics it would have. What kinds of things I would expect to see. He pronounces me irrational because I believe there is no lion in my house. I say it's irrational to demand someone prove there is no lion without talking about what a lion is.

Vicar In Training said...

Dave! Yes, brother, I am on the track to Holy Orders. I've been preaching regularly at my church (I have a faculty to preach, a fancy way of saying 'permission', from the bishop).

Hope you had a blessed Easter!

Keep up the good work, Dave.

Steve (St. Worm)

Dave Armstrong said...

That's wonderful Steve. May God bless you as you move forward to the great day.

We had a lovely Easter: Mass with orchestra and choir, then a nice family get-together. It was 60 and sunny here in metro Detroit. I trust that you and yours did, too.

If you have any of your preaching online or otherwise available, I'd love to hear one or more.

Vicar In Training said...

Jon,

To me it is pretty simple: everyone generally knows atheists deny existence in a god because they convince themselves (or are convinced that) the evidence for theism is thin to non-existent. What Dave is asking for is, positively, what reasons do you have in your atheist worldview to allow you to proceed on the belief that there is no god?

And for the record (my humble opinion anyway), the unicorn, the feathfish, or the Flying Spaghetti Monster, are metaphysically and rationally different categories than the idea of a being called God. There is nothing axiomatic about those finite things that would offer any explanatory power to the meaning of our world. The belief or non-belief in them have no radical impact on the definition of ourselves, or our obligations to one another.

So when people make this absurd comparison of belief in a god with those other things, I think they do so because they have nothing remotely analogous to point to. I can imagine a world without unicorns and be philosophically consistent about all things; I cannot imagine a world without God and proceed to live consistently without self-destructing. See the difference?

St. Worm

Vicar In Training said...

Dave,

We aren't yet recording the sermons, but all of mine are written (I am a lively preacher, but very much tied to my script!).

Here's our site with my sermons.

http://holyguardianangelslantana.org/sermons.html

Blessings, dear brother!

St. Worm

Dave Armstrong said...

Dave is asking me to prove that there is no lion in my house

Really? Please cite any line above where I asked you to do that. Thanks. Perhaps I did and forgot, but I don't think so.

You just don't get it. I thought after three, four, five restatements that you would at least understand what I was asking, but obviously you don't.

And it proves my original point beyond my wildest dreams: right from the horse's mouth.

It also demonstrates for the umpteenth time that atheism so distorts one's rational faculties and thought processes that the atheist is literally unable to comprehend even a fairly simple request that is outside the usual tendentious thinking patterns that overwhelmingly characterize the "disorder."

Like I noted above, I've always thought that atheism was primarily a malady of the thought processes.

You have provided an invaluable service to my readers. I think many could be saved from possibly falling into atheism / agnosticism, by observing the intellectual bankruptcy of it in this exchange.

So God is still mightily using you for His purposes, Jon! :-) Keep up the good work.

Jon said...

What Dave is asking for is, positively, what reasons do you have in your atheist worldview to allow you to proceed on the belief that there is no god?

That's not what I understand him to be asking.

Dave the thing is I don't want to show up and defend something and it's not what you are asking. You remember Karl Keating and Dave Hunt. Dave Hunt defined "early Church" one way and Keating did another. Keating assumed a standard definition. Hunt imposed a contrived definition in order to score debating points. I just want to be sure we are all on the same page.

Dave asks me to give positive reasons for atheism and to do so without reference to God. But the very word "atheism" contains the concept of God within it.

So the question you present contains both the word "atheism" and the word "god". According to Dave's conditions this is not what he wants me to defend because he wants me to make no reference to God. But I can't even define atheism without invoking the concept of God. So how are we supposed to even get off the ground? I feel like if I cam over and said "I don't believe there is a God, and when I say God I mean a personal creator of the universe" Dave would say "You've violated the conditions I set up by invoking God, so you have failed."

I don't believe I can defend atheism without talking about what God is. For Dave this means atheism (whatever it means for Dave since supposedly it can't refer to God) is irrational. I guess I agree. Based on the way Dave is defining "atheism" the concept is completely vacuous. But I've never seen a definition of atheism that didn't make reference to God, so I think Dave is using words in a way nobody else does.

Dave Armstrong said...

Wow! It's astonishing . . . talk about ships passing in the night . . .

Vicar In Training said...

Jon,

If I am wrong, Dave can certainly correct me. But it seems silly to assume he or anyone else doesn't know that atheism is a belief in no god as such. What Dave is after, as best as I can understand him, is what positive, rational grounds do you have for proceeding into an atheistic world and life view? You might say, "Well belief in a god is absurd because of x, y, and z." What we're after here is, "Atheism is rational and defensible because of x, y, and z." Underlying the belief that our theism is absurd MUST be something that positively demands you preclude Theism: what is that SOMETHING? Maybe it's a litany of somethings, but you can't very well go around knocking over theism on our supposed demerits all the while making it seem like you are simply using reason to resist our claims. Something is making you push back. What is the positive *thing* or *evidence* or *axiom* that makes you do so?

Does that make more sense?

Blessings, Jon.

St. Worm

Vicar In Training said...

Jon,

I think I have a loose analogy for this problem. Many Protestants, for example, define their existence in terms of being against Rome. So, all they talk about is what they are not because Rome is this or that or the other thing. What Roman Catholics might be interested in hearing from their more extreme Protestant counterparts is a positive case: what principles do they proceed on, positively speaking, that justify their framework. Some Protestants might argue this way: "The apostles intended a congregational model of the church," or, "The apostles preached Sola Scriptura," or "The Sacraments are only symbolic." At least Roman Catholics can then argue with them on those claims.

In the case of atheism, would you say there is something that positively drives it that makes it what it is? If all you can say is, "We just don't believe it is rational to believe in God," then your critics can rightly demand, "Then what do you have left to define everything else in the universe?"

I say it's smoke and mirrors in your case. Lots of hand waving is required to keep negative attention on the benighted Theists to make your position look "enlightened", but at the end of the day you have nothing positively to replace Theism.

You think a belief in the Divine is absurd? Fine! Give me the case for the alternative. If you can't, then I think your cause is objectively the most irrational of all worldviews. Atheists at best can do nothing but stop talking.

Of course we as Christians will always entertain dialogue, but please don't think we'll not hold your feet to the fire of reason, for we believe Reason and Truth are on our side.

Blessings,
St. Worm

Dave Armstrong said...

Superb, ultra-focused comments. Kudos!

Jon said...

Sorry if I'm not getting it. Typed communication is so difficult sometimes. We never have problems like this in person.

Roberto Jung said...

Jon:

"For an atheist not knowing is fine. For a Christian that's unacceptable. When we didn't know the cause of thunder he'd say God did it. When we didn't know what caused lightning it was God. We didn't know the cause of disease so Christians attributed it to supernatural agency (demons, God's punishment). Those problems have all been solved with science, but there are still a few gaps in that knowledge. The origin of the universe is one. Nobody knows so Christians think this entitles them to shove God in that gap. Atheists just say we don't know and leave it at that."

I'm taking this discussion onto a tangent, but I'd like to recommend an article worth the trouble to read despite its length:

Is there evidence for the existence of "spirits" and some "spiritual dimension"?

Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal--have mercy on us.

God bless.

beowulf2k8 said...

Jon,

I come at these arguments about God's existence more from the Deist perspective than the Christian perspective.

"For an atheist not knowing is fine. For a Christian that's unacceptable."

For a Deist, not knowing things is fairly acceptable I'd say. Its not dogmatic like "If you don't believe in Transubstatiation you're damned." You can accuse the Christian by saying "Nobody knows so Christians think this entitles them to shove God in that gap" but the Deist doesn't have to shove God into the gap to make some system of salvation/damnation work. Why does he believe in God? Simply because it seems more logical than that nothing exploded, or that rocks and gas just always existed something and then exploded.

Something had to always exist. Atheist, Deist, Christian, Jew, Mohammedan -- whatever -- we all have to agree on that. Either that "always existing thing" was a nothing that exploded, some gas and rocks that exploded, or it was God. It just makes more sense for a mind behind the universe to have always existed than for an exploding nothing or some rocks to have always existed.

Furthermore, looking at the fruits of Deism, Christianity, Atheism, etc. Christianity gave us Deism, and Deism gave us the Declaration of Independence. Atheism gave us Obama care which will bankrupt us. I'm thinking Deism wins against Atheism here.

beowulf2k8 said...

Atheism also gave us Planned Parenthood and a Political Party that forces Susan G Komen (an organization that raises money to fight breast cancer) to give money to Planned Parenthood (an organization that gives out abortions and birth control pills proven by scientific studies to INCREASE a woman's risk of breast cancer dramatically). So what has it given us? Power mad tyrants who love to kill babies, who shred the constitution, spit on the declaration of independence, force organizations to fund their front-groups who are adverse to those organizations' causes. In other words, Atheism has given us hell on earth.

Dave Armstrong said...

Jon is pro-life (just for the record).

The Ubiquitous said...

To be fair, atheism is necessarily not a positive claim but a negative one. To fill the void, atheists stuff themselves full of one secularist ideology or another, and rarely a vague catch-as-catch-can spiritualistic mysticism. It isn't so much a matter of apples and oranges but rather more like matter and anti-matter.

"With no cause but one, men band together only as barbarians against the eternal city — long enough to divide the spoils, but not so long as to linger together when back home."

Dave Armstrong said...

Secular humanism claims to be a positive worldview. I threw that out as an analogy that Jon could have pursued in constructing some semblance of a "positive" and pro-active view, but to no avail.

For Jon, I guess, all atheism consists of, is "not x," which is pretty pathetic and not a framework anyone should rationally live a life in.

But so it is . . . it's like a person who is always complaining and grumbling about others but never offers any vision or any better alternative at all (sort of like Obama!).

All the atheist can offer, according to Jon, is, "Hey, we ain't THEM!!!"

Grubb said...

Beowulf2k8,

What do you have against Obama care? Dave, I know this isn't the right place to discuss Obama care and why it's good or bad. Do you ever do Open Forums anymore?

I'd like to discuss Obama care from a Christian perspective if anyone else would like to.

Thanks,
Grubb

Grubb said...

Just like old times, I haven't read all the comments due to time constraints but still have something to say. : )

I have a friend/coworker who's very much like Jon as near as I can tell. He calls himself an atheist but is ok with agnostic too since he doesn't 100% discount the idea of a god existing; he just doesn't think any of the current religions have that God portrayed correctly.

So I asked my friend what a better alternative to Christianity was, and he (being very truthful) said, "I don't know." Now I'm not one to say you should believe in Christianity simply because Islam or atheism is unpalatable, but it certainly gives Christianity some non-biblical credibility when discussing this.

This is what I mean by that. When we look at all the world views practiced purely & accurately, Christianity offers the best outcome. I'd say it's because the one, true God designed it. : ) Regardless of what I say, when we see true Islam leading to violence & oppression, true atheism leading to violence & anarchy, true Hinduism leading to accepted poverty, class separation, & preferential treatment, and true Judaism leading to endless sacrificing of animals, true Christianity (with it's one-time sacrifice, all are equal, turn the other cheek, pray for & love your enemies, bear your brother's burdens, and do what's right mentality) clearly looks the best.

Doesn't it?

beowulf2k8 said...

Obamacare is atheism playing God. People of faith build hospitals based on voluntary donations. Ever noticed how many hospitals are named after Saints? But atheists force everyone else to give because they have no charity in their hearts. Have you ever seen a hospital build in Darwin's name? No, but many have closed essentially in his name, by being forced by atheist legislation to pay for things that they couldn't pay for -- things the atheists didn't give them the money to pay for but just mandated must be paid for. They think they're God.

Atheist: "Here, we want more abortions, so you make it happen."

Hospital: "And how will we pay for this?"

Atheist: "That's your problem."

And that Jon himself is not pro-abortion doesn't fix this problem. It just highlights the problem. Atheism is so tied up with abortion that if you bring the subject up now the atheist is on the defensive and has to defend that he even has the right to be pro-life. Why should he be? He doesn't believe in any Creator who has endowed people with an inalienable right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. His own group will press him, "How can you be against killing off a mass of invading cells? Why, a baby is just like a cancer!" He has to defend to his brothers in ungodliness why he defends the unborn, because for him to do so in an aberration.

In other words, Jon's not being pro-abortion is no different from a Catholic not being pro-life. He is out of place in his own group.

Despite the Catholics who are against life, the Catholic church as a whole is still pro-life. Despite the atheists who are pro-life, Atheism is still anti-life.

And at all points, the Atheists proclaim that they get the decision on who lives and who dies. The death panels in Obamacare that Obama swears aren't in there. Well, if the supreme court fails to strike down the whole bill, I guess we'll find out, but its classic Atheism: "We're God now. We get to decide who lives and who dies."

beowulf2k8 said...

"To be fair, atheism is necessarily not a positive claim but a negative one." (The Ubiquitous)

You hear this all the time, even many times from the Atheists themselves. Yet, it is NOT true. Atheism has positive beliefs:

(1) You are an accident.
(2) You are just a hairless monkey.
(3) Unborn babies are just 'fetuses', just 'masses of cells.'
(4) There is no actual point to life.
(5) Because you are an accident, a hairless monkey, and human babies are nothing but 'masses of cells', and there is no point to life, THEREFORE, you should be controlled from cradle to grave by an overbearing Government that tramples all over individual liberty and is run by Religion-Hating Atheists, who alone know everything.

Now, since these "positive" beliefs are so attrocious, its easy to think of them as "negative."

But Atheism is not "negative" in the sense of having no dogmas, which is what I think you meant. You meant Atheism has no dogmas of its own, it just attacks over people's beliefs. NOT SO! They've got dogmas, really awful ones.

Grubb said...

Many of those hospitals named after "Saints" are partially funded by the federal gov't, and the insurance that pays for patients' medical bill is either partially or wholly funded by the gov't. Do you expect the gov't to just give money out and not have a say in what services are provided?

Death panels? Currently we already have them based on income and ability to pay, right? If you have insurance & can pay the deductible, you get a heart transplant; if you don't have insurance & can't afford the surgery, you don't get the transplant.

Why do we need a whole new system of Obama care when we've already got Medicare? Just piggy back onto that. We've already got the rules & regulations established as well as the means to pay for it (via people's paycheck).

I'm not sure whose fault it is, but my insurance went up 12% last year and 15% this year. How long can that continue before having insurance is unsustainable?

At 46, I'm paying more for medical insurance premiums for my family (wife & 3 kids) than I am for tithing or my house payment. And on top of paying all those outrageous premiums, when my wife had minor surgery this year, I had to pay $5,500 out of pocket.

I would much rather the private sector come up with a solution, but instead they raised my rates nearly 30% in just over a year AND charged me a large out of pocket. Nearly 20% of my GROSS pay is going to medical costs this year. That's what the private sector is giving us these days.

Dave Armstrong said...

I haven't had Open Forums for a while on the blog. Most spontaneous discussion has moved over to my Facebook page (link on sidebar).

beowulf2k8 said...

"Many of those hospitals named after 'Saints' are partially funded by the federal gov't, and the insurance that pays for patients' medical bill is either partially or wholly funded by the gov't."

The gov't didn't build them. Sure, some of the care in them is funded by medicare...and?

"Death panels? Currently we already have them based on income and ability to pay, right? If you have insurance & can pay the deductible, you get a heart transplant; if you don't have insurance & can't afford the surgery, you don't get the transplant."

No, that's just life. These death panels will mean that even if you can afford it, you won't get it if the Lord God Obama says you aren't worthy.

"I'm not sure whose fault it is, but my insurance went up 12% last year and 15% this year."

Its Obamacare being passed that caused that, Genius. Mine went up too after it was passed. Mine was steadily going down before that.

Grubb said...

Sure, some of the care in them is funded by medicare...and?

Most medical insurance is paid w/ pre-tax dollars, so you're getting a 20%-25% savings/subsidy from the Federal gov't. Plus, you can write off any non-pretax premiums & medical expenses (including glasses, medication, braces,...) as a deduction on your 1040. The gov't is subsidizing nearly every single person's medical costs. So for every $1 the hospital charges you, the Fed gov't pays 25 cents of it through tax subsidy.

Also, the hospitals get stipends and funding from the federal gov't depending on the neighborhoods they're in and the research the doctors are doing.

Its Obamacare being passed that caused that, Genius.

It is NOT Obamacare! My insurance has gone up between 8%-15% every year but 2 since 2001. So unless Obamacare existed 11 years ago, we can't blame this on him.

Mine was steadily going down before that.

Really? You must be with a company that's paying more of your premiums, or a young man of 18-26, or having your benefits decreased, or possibly your insurance provider was adjusting for an overage they unjustly charged prior to that. The medical trend has never been to charge less.

The real question is: as a nation, how generous do we want to be? If we call ourselves Christians, should we really just let one's financial position be the death panel? Is that really what Jesus was teaching when he said to take care of the poor, the widows, and the fatherless?

Also, Dave has been patient not to rebuke us for straying from the main topic. Thanks Dave. I'm glad to move this conversation to his FB page if you want to continue it their. Please comment here if you make your next comment there, so I'll know when it's occurred.

Thanks,
Grubb

Martin said...

How does this work? Do you pickthe last Armstrong post and write there? L please.

Grubb said...

Martin,

I presume you're talking about on Facebook. I'm not sure yet how it works there.

Grubb

beowulf2k8 said...

All I can say is if you don't claim to be an Atheist and you're ok with Obamacare, then in my book you're just claiming not to be an Atheist. Nobody who believes in God could ever want Government to have this much power.

"The real question is: as a nation, how generous do we want to be? If we call ourselves Christians, should we really just let one's financial position be the death panel? Is that really what Jesus was teaching when he said to take care of the poor, the widows, and the fatherless?"

This is a distortion, since Jesus also said "The poor you will have with you always" when Judas complained that the pricey ointment was wasted by being pored on Jesus. Its also a distortion because of the question "how generous do we want to be?" for if that was a question how generous you want to be with your own money rather than how generous a communist Atheist President wants to be with your money, that would be different. The next distortion, "If we call ourselves Christians" -- this is the gov't we're talking about, and it doesn't call itself Christian. It attacks everything Christian, as you know. What's happening is that Atheists like you are distorting and coopting Christianity by redefining it in such a way that it is nothing more than an argument you can bring out to support your communistic evil. "Well, Jesus would want us to help the poor." Yes, he would, but he would not want us to be forced to it by the gov't, nor would he want the gov't to take away so much of our money that we can't spill any pricey ointment on Jesus Himself because the Judas Gov't says it would be better to sell the ointment and give the money to the poor.

Grubb said...

Beofulf2k8 & Martin,

Dave graciously put an "Open Forum" on his Facebook page, so we could discuss this there. I've posted my most recent comment there. If you don't want to do that or don't have a FB profile, Dave might let us finish this conversation here; or I'd be glad to exchange e-mails if you want.

B2k8, I'm curious as to how young you are. I've told you I'm 46 w/ a family of 5, but you seem much younger. You have a healthy contempt for our gov't (and that's good) but don't sound as though you've seen enough hard times to have an appreciation for how hard getting medical care can really be. I may be wrong, but I'm curious. I look forward to your next reply. You too if you were planning to join in Martin.

Grubb

Grubb said...

Here's a link to his FB page. The Open Forum I commented on is on the right side of the timeline and says "Open Forum".

Hope to hear from you there.

Grubb

Grubb said...

Wow, I forgot the link. Here it is.

http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000749848938

beowulf2k8 said...

The difference between me and you isn't age. Its morality. Maybe I haven't "seen enough hard times to have an appreciation for how hard getting medical care can really be" but I'd rather die than rob people blind for my healthcare. There is not a dime's worth of difference between me coming to your house and sticking a gun in your face and stealing your money to pay for my healthcare, and the government doing it for me via the IRS. I see that, because I believe in God. You don't because you're functionally an Atheist who only cares about himself, and that's the difference.

Dave Armstrong said...

This is a most unfair slander. I've gotten to know Grubb here for many years now, and to say that he is "functionally an Atheist who only cares about himself" is equally outrageous and ridiculous.

If you can't engage discussion without this, then don't do it at all: as slander is a serious sin.

Grubb said...

Thanks Dave.

B2k8,

To support Dave's comment, Peter said, "But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give a reason for the hope that you have, but do this with gentleness and respect." (I Pet 2:15-16) We may disagree, but we're still called to be respectful.

As I pointed out earlier, the gov't HAS the right to take money from us and spend it as they see fit. The Bible gives them that authority and tells us to submit to it. They take money from you and build roads, fund the military, & pay for elderly people's medical costs, & you're ok with all that, right? They took money from me & paid for guys like you to be publicly educated, and I was ok with that, because I realize it's for the good of the city, state, & country.

There is not a dime's worth of difference between me coming to your house and sticking a gun in your face and stealing your money to pay for my healthcare, and the government doing it for me via the IRS

There is a difference. As I pointed out, the Bible says they have the authority, but it doesn't grant us as individuals the same authority. All those things I mentioned above exist, because the gov't has taken money from the population and used it to better this country.

Finally, Jesus taught, "From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked."? (Luke 12:48b) This isn't speaking directly to paying taxes, but it is pointing out that the one who has been given much (whether it be money, knowledge, or faith) should be willing to use it for others. And if you're not out there giving 20% & 30% of your salary to the poor, needy, & sick, why would you begrudge when the gov't wants to use a whopping .65% (not even a whole percent) of your salary to pay for old people's health care? It actually sounds like maybe my position is the more generous & less selfish one, doesn't it? :)

Grubb

Jon said...

Atheists do have a poor track record when it comes to piling up corpses, but let's not forget that Christians are not far behind. I compiled the data. Check it out here. It's sourced. Looking at more recent history Christian killing clearly makes Islamic killing look paltry. And that's not surprising because Muslims are more likely to reject terrorism than Christians.

So why do we hear so much about Islamic terrorism? Because when prominent people are killed (white Americans, as in 9-11) it's going to be discussed loudly because prominent people talk about themselves. The media is owned by and serves prominent, wealthy people.

When a country like Panama goes through a similar atrocity it's not going to be discussed as much. There's another 9-11 prior to our 9-11. It's 9-11-1973. About 3K people died on that day in Chile and many thousands more would die as a consequence of the CIA orchestrated coup. Concentration camps, torture chambers. The whole gamut. Cuba has been subjected to an astonishing campaign of terror. The longest campaign probably in the history of the world. Bombed civilian airliners, hotels, ships. Spraying their crops with biological toxins and chemical agents. Non-stop terrorism. But these are Latin Americans. Who cares? Dead Americans are a different matter. Mostly white. Rich. That's worth discussing. Hundreds of thousands dead in Latin America? Who cares?

By the way we are apes, not monkeys.

Jon said...

Oh, and I have a Bible verse I like a lot and discovered recently, since we are talking about Obama Care.

Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality. At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. The goal is equality, as it is written: “The one who gathered much did not have too much, and the one who gathered little did not have too little.”

2 Corinthians 8


That's another one of those forgotten biblical texts, along with the teachings about dealing with the beam in your own eye before looking to the spec in the neighbors eye. Our government starve 5,000 kids per month in Iraq for 12 years, but Republicans generally have never heard of it and don't bother looking into it. All that matters is that those Muslims are violent. I notice that Jesus barely notices atheists or pagans. His criticism is more for people within his own community. Republicans take the opposite tack. Muslims are evil. Any attempt to look at ourselves is called "hating America." I suppose Jesus hated the Jews.

Jon said...

Sorry, I have the wrong link above. Where I said "Christian killing clearly makes Islamic killing look paltry" I meant to go to this page.

Roberto Jung said...

Jon:

I don't mean to sidetrack the discussion (talking about lousy chapters in U.S. foreign-policy history is very important), but just wanted to ask if you'd had a chance to look at the link I cited earlier in the thread (here it is again for your convenience). What do you make of the article?

Jon said...

Roberto, I confess I didn't read it all. I did look at it. Is it correct to state that he's looking for things like demonic posession or some sort of spiritual control of people?

I'm open to the evidence, but as you might suspect I have a bias in favor of scientific methodologies. Expiraments, testing, peer review, etc. Plausible sounding claims are common. In my experience the scientific method is pretty good at weeding out even the plausibe sounding claims that turn out to be false.

And it seems very difficult to subject these phenomenon to scientific methodologies. Lack of repeatedability. Obviously we lack access to what is really happening in the mind. I wonder if this really falls into the same God of the gaps techniques that the article is trying to rebut. We can't explain certain mental behaviors so we invoke supernatural agency. What's the track record of that approach? Pretty bad. Actually they are batting zero. A 100% failure rate. Do you place your bet on the guy batting 1000 (natural explanations) or the one batting zero? Supernatural explanations have never been proved scientifically to be true, wheras supernatural explanations have been proven false over and over.

Grubb said...

Jon,

If I understand correctly, what you're trying to say is that Christians kill on as big a scale as atheists do and on a much bigger scale than Muslims do. I won't deny that "Christian" men have instigated killing, however the single largest factor that puts "Christians" in the same category as atheists in killing is WWII. I presume the 34.6M deaths you're attributing to Christians is from the European campaign, but in reality those should not be. Hitler and his top officers who are responsible for the European portion of WWII were in no way, shape, or form Christians.

Further, when you attribute England's & America's kills to Christians, you lump them in with all the other kills that are unjustified and/or evil. We should be very thankful that Christian men from England, America, & other countries answered the call to stop atheistic German expansion & oppression, not make it look as though those Christians instigated & were responsible for all those deaths. All those deaths lie at the feet of atheist Hitler & his men.

I realize Hitler was born and (to some degree raised) Roman Catholic, but by the time he and his men rose to power, none of them were acting in the slightest as Christians. Wouldn't you agree? And if that's true, how can you lay 36M deaths at the Christians' feet? That almost doubles the number of "kills" that Christians have; your numbers are radically skewed for that very reason.

Jon said...

I don't buy it Grubb, but to me it's not critical to my point. Here's the key. He wasn't a Muslim, right?

You want to call Germany in 1939 an atheistic country? That's very dubious, but go for it if you like. They self identified as Christian, not atheist. But just roll the clock back a bit and look at British famines in India. Britain at the time was obviously a Christian nation. The famines they induced were not a lot different from the famines inuced by Mao. So I attribute those deaths to Mao and atheism. Let's attribute the deaths in India to the British. Death from famine basically ended when the British left. This is tens of millions more dead. Christianity doesn't look too impressive here.

Grubb said...

Jon,

I don't deny that a majority of Germany was "Christian". The problem I have with laying 34.6M deaths at the Christians' feet is that the guys who took over the nation, started the war, and orchestrated the concentration camps weren't Christians; that's clear.

Plus, there's nothing in the Old Testament or New Testament that would support what they did. Jesus said, "You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven." (Matt 5:43-45a) He also said, "But love your enemies. Do good to them and lend to them without expecting to get anything back." (Luke 6:35a) These don't mean Christians should be a doormat who never fight for just causes, but it does point out that Christians can't go starting WWII and building concentration camps.

However, atheism has no such basis for morality; survival of the fittest is its morality. If this is all there is, do what you want. If there is no ultimate judge and no absolute morality (which Christianity provides), then who's to say ruthless dictators are wrong for doing what they do? Hey, they're just trying to stay in power and maintain order in their land.

During the Nuremberg trials the Defense kept saying they were ordered to do the atrocities by their commanders, so they weren't guilty. They were just following orders. Exasperated with this defense, the Prosecution finally asked, "Is there no law higher than the law of their land?" To which the Defense said, "No." Atheism's morality reverts to survival of the fittest; and even if I didn't believe the Bible whole heartedly, I wouldn't want the standard of morality to be survival of the fittest. But that's all you get with atheism.

So even if "Christians" were responsible for as many deaths as you claim (which I dispute vehemently), Christianity provides a far better standard for morality (when actually followed) than does atheism.

Jon said...

I would suggest, Grubb, that your loudest Christians are the ones that violate Biblical teaching most aggressively. Which party is the so called Christian party? It's the Republicans. These are people that scorn discussion of equality, like what I quote from 2 Corinthians above. Mitt Romney, with his hundreds of millions, should pay even less in taxes.

Do unto others as you would have them to unto you? Is that what we do when we invaded Iraq? We can invade a country that has done nothing to us and is not threatening us because we think some day in the future they MIGHT be a threat. Would we accept the idea that other nations should similarly have the right to attack us? What about looking at the beam in our own eye? Do Christians do that? Look at the stack of corpses. And by the way I didn't attribute all WWII death to Christians. The atheistic Soviets must take responsibility as well.

Not to mention Paul's very clear teaching that women must wear head coverings and not teach in the church. This is unambiguous stuff. Few self identified Christians care. So to reply and say "But the Bible teaches such and such" even if true doesn't matter. Christians don't follow the Bible. They pick the parts they like and ignore the rest. So it's very easy for Nazi's to justify genocide.

I wish Christians followed the Bible. In the Bible the villians are the flatterers of the King's court, telling the leadership what they want to hear. The hero is the guy that criticizes the King, tells him he's wicked, and that these lying prophets that tell the King what his itching ears want to hear are a joke. But to take that approach in the US is to be called unpatriotic and anti-American by the so called Jesus party.

Grubb said...

Jon,

Sadly, much of what you say is true. If Jesus were here today as he was 2000 years ago, he would be neither Republican nor Democrat. I believe the Republicans have it right on some of the bigger issues, which is why I generally align with them.

If I cup my hands in front of my mouth, rattle off a few rap verses, put on some bling, and sag my pants, does that make me a thug rapper? No. It may give the appearance, but what lies beneath the veneer isn't a true thug rapper. Sadly, the same is true of many who call themselves Christians. Simply showing up to church once in a while, being "good" some of the time, and saying you're a Christian doesn't make you a Christian. Christians do those things, but for true followers of Jesus there's a heart that loves the Lord, loves & helps the lost & poor, and wants to help spread the life-saving Gospel.

Like you, I wish more "Christians" were true Christians and honored what the Bible says, because all those things you mentioned from the Bible (except maybe head coverings) : ) offer a much better life than "Getting all I can before I die" does. But that's all atheism offers: get all I can before I die.

Grubb

Jon said...

Dave, if you're still here, I say let's still get together and have a discussion about atheism and the kinds of questions Grubb offers. Is atheism about "Getting all I can before I die"? Maybe you aren't happy with the way I defend my positions, but we'll still have a good time.

By the way, would you be interested in some free books? I'm trying to clear a little space and thought I clear out some of my old Catholic/Protestant debate books. Not all, but a few, just to make some room. Like I have David King's 3 volume set on "Holy Scripture". I also have books by Catholic apologists and of course other books by Protestant apologists like White countering Catholic claims. Timothy Kaufmann, Eric Svendsen. I have some Scott Hahn, James Akin, Karl Keating. If there are certain Prostant books you'd like to have but would rather not pay for let me know what they are and if I have copies you can have mine.

Dave Armstrong said...

Hi Jon,

Is your hotmail e-mail still good? I will write to you there if so, in reply.

Jon said...

Yes, I'm still at hotmail.

Unknown said...

Good morning, everyone.

Jon, I´m an atheist as well, and I´ve got to say: after spending 1 hour reading this WHOLE discussion, I´m utterly impressed you couldn´t understand what Dave is asking. I got it clearly, and I´be be glad to tell him everything I know about the creation of universe, life evolution from scratch and the natural human path in this planet, all based on solid science and astrophysics evidence. I don´t even need to mention anything like "X" because there is no need for it, all things around us can be proven by science and information.

Dave Armstrong said...

Delighted to see that someone got it. :-)

Unknown said...

Hello again, Dave. I don´t know what happened on my previous post, but my name was "cut out" from it. I´m not an "Unknown" guy, my name is Mau Vasconcellos. Nice to meet you.

Well. My concept of "atheism" basically consists on shaping a person´s eyes so one can view this world as a crude, raw place where things happen naturally, during the course of life evolution, not just on this planet, but along all other inhabited worlds throughout the universe, as well.

To understand how things are the way they are today, what may have influenced (or forced) them to be the like this, and above all: to gather scientific material in order to BELIEVE everything that has happened until now was merely by "chance" (a happy coincidence if I may add). The universe is constantly evolving, changing, and as we speak, new planets are growing into magnificent new theaters of life, just as our lucky Earth was, 4.5 billion years ago. Life circumstances are highly unlikely to happen in space, that´s why out of a few trillion planets existing among stars and black holes, just a handful will happen to be on the right place (not too cold nor to hot), sustaining adequate amounts of chemical reactions in order for water to exist and thus, micro-organisms to be developed, evolving into bigger, smarter things. Us.

Science is beautiful, Dave. I hope you won´t judge all us atheists the same way just after exchanging some ideas with only one person (Jon).

May you have a pleasant day. We´ll talk again later.

Dave Armstrong said...

Hi Mau,

Of course science is beautiful. We Christians completely agree, which is why modern science developed in a medieval Christian worldview, precisely because the background assumptions necessary to do it were in place (an orderly universe set in motion by God, uniformitarianism, etc.).

If you give me your e-mail address, I'll send you a free PDF of my book, Science and Christianity: Close Partners or Mortal Enemies?

More info. on it here:

http://socrates58.blogspot.com/2010/10/books-by-dave-armstrong-science-and.html

Again, the utility and beauty of science is not at issue between atheists and Christians. What is at issue are the fundamental assumptions required to do science at all. I argue that a Christian doing science is more rational, and needs to exercise far less faith than an atheist does.

In any event, it is no disproof of God whatsoever to appeal to science. That's why I wrote this book: because atheists were in effect making science their religion and absurdly pitting it against God: being (apparently) grossly ignorant about the history and philosophy of science.