CultureWatch

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More Atheist Tirades

Sep 4, 2009

In one of the more bizarre ways to seek to explain away the universal phenomena of religion, some atheists have invented the idea that a god gene exists. Yes, there is no God, but we have a gene that makes us want to believe there is.

They do this of course for at least two reasons: to discount the overwhelming longing for transcendence found among mankind, and to discredit those who are believers. After all, if we believe in God simply because there is some gene or meme that makes us do so, then there obviously are no good, solid rational reasons for doing so.

Of course two can play this game. It makes as much sense to argue there are no rational arguments for atheism. Instead, we simply have an atheism gene which forces some people to adhere to atheism. Indeed, in a totally materialistic world, our genes end up explaining – and causing – everything we do, believe or value. We are simply the product of our genes.

This is simply one oddity of atheism. Indeed, atheists are a strange bunch. They spend large hunks of their adult lives getting all hot and bothered about someone they claim does not exist. They spend zillions of hours informing us how lousy, bad, twisted, putrid and rotten God is.

It is about as sensible as me continuously telling everyone how wicked, demented, harmful and poisonous the Collingwood Football Club is – and then promptly informing one and all that no such thing as the Collingwood Footy Club even exists. Duh.

We had another brilliant example of all this in the Melbourne Age. Yes, you’re right: resident God-hater Catherine Deveny is at it again. Another column full of bile, bitterness and anger aimed at a being who is not supposed to exist.

Now Ms Deveny is not a theologian, a philosopher, or even a mildly deep thinker. So one can easily dismiss her as just a raving misotheist. But she sadly has access to lots of people through her privileged position as an Age opinion writer. So a response is in order, especially since the Age has appeared to censor out any criticisms of her article in the letters’ pages.

So what great pearls of wisdom does she offer us this time? Simply this: “God has narcissistic personality disorder.” And her proof? Consider some of these sagacious insights:

“? Feelings of grandiosity and self-importance (I am God); exaggerating accomplishments (I made you and the world) to the point of lying (I exist and there is a heaven); demands to be recognised as superior without commensurate achievements (Worship me and only me because I am great and almighty and I know everything).
? Obsession with fantasies of success, power, brilliance, beauty or perfect love (I will love you, you will love me and we will live happily in eternity).
? Conviction you are unique and special (I am almighty. I am the one and only God).”

Gee, for millennia mankind has thought that belief in God was a reasonable and valid human response. But here in a few short paragraphs it is all blown away. Thanks Catherine. I guess we can all get on with our lives now, given that you have so brilliantly overturned the wisdom and knowledge of human history.

Why didn’t I see this earlier? Yes of course. God is just on a big ego trip. But wait a minute. If God doesn’t exist, then how can we ascribe any properties or attributes to the divine? In fact, her complaints really sound like those of a spoiled five-year-old who really can’t stand acknowledging or submitting to her own parents.

This really is a bit of a temper tantrum and dummy spit here. “I can’t stand the idea of some grand being in the universe other than myself. I will not bow down to anyone or anything other than myself. Thanks, but I am really the centre of the universe, not God.”

This is one long petulant childish rant, a shaking of the fist against a being she insists does not exist. Sorry, but this piece is simply more nonsense and insensibility from our resident misotheist. There may well be someone here suffering from a ‘narcissistic personality disorder’, but it is clearly not God. Indeed, there seems to be an obsessive-compulsive disorder at work here as well.

These continuous rants about God are becoming as predictable and tedious as they are acerbic and bitter. And all they really do is tell us about the complainant, not the object of the complaint. Just what exactly does this piece offer to constructive debate? Consider just one gem for instance: God, according to the divine Ms D, is into ‘exaggerating accomplishments’. Sorry, but if I had created the universe and all that is in it, that might be something I would proudly splash around on my CV.

The truth is, humility is being known for who you are. For God to be honest with us and himself means to state clearly his accomplishments and attributes. Sorry, but those of Ms Deveny – and all of us – pale in comparison. Indeed, despite all her whining to the contrary, I bet even she cannot live in the world that she writes about.

What about her own children? When they were young and she set boundaries for them, telling them what to do, and exercising a bit of parental authority – all for their own good and safety – was she exhibiting “feelings of grandiosity and self-importance”? Was she having an “obsession with fantasies of success, power” and the like?

We are all in positions of authority and power at times. There is nothing wrong with that. That is how life works. And if there is a God, then by definition he would be the sum of all excellencies. One can be great, even perfect, without being narcissistic or egocentric.

Indeed, the Biblical definition of God – which is presumably what Ms Deveny is targeting – informs us quite clearly that this most supreme and powerful being is also one who stoops to our level, condescending to where we are at. The same hands that threw out the stars at the beginning of time become the hands nailed to a cross, as Jesus gives his life for us.

I don’t see any arrogance or narcissism in that. I see love unlimited, and humility that no man has known. I see a God who is willing to temper justice with mercy, and pay the ultimate price to woo us back to himself.

This divine love is unconceivable. Yet all Ms Deveny can see is a picture of maybe her own poor parentage or upbringing. She seems to be projecting her own unresolved issues and problems onto the divine canvas. Perhaps she needs a bit of help here. We can pray for her. We might even suggest some helpful counselling.

But she really does need to grow up. Whatever her problems are, simply throwing out ugly rants at God is not going to solve anything. It will likely just make things worse. But the good news is, Jesus will continue to hold his nail scarred hands out to every one of us. Whether we accept his love, forgiveness, mercy and grace is completely up to us.

Or we can choose to go on in our mind-numbing and soul-destroying bitterness, resentment, and anger. Even secular folk know that this is not a good state to be in. But for the Age it seems to serve a purpose, and evidently it provides some momentary relief for Ms Deveny. I only hope she snaps out of her atheist delusions before things get any worse.

www.theage.com.au/opinion/our-father-to-thine-own-pathological-self-be-true-20090901-f6vg.html

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29 Responses to More Atheist Tirades

  • Hi Bill, great critique! I read the Age article. It isn’t even well-written or witty; how pathetic. Her arguments are also all over the place (if you can call them arguments): Her Galileo quote plastered on right at the end doesn’t have any relevance to the gist of the article, and it’s obvious from that quote that Galileo wasn’t an atheist anyway.

    My 16-year old son could write a better essay than that …

    Anne-Kit Littler

  • “This is simply one oddity of atheism. Indeed, atheists are a strange bunch. They spend large hunks of their adult lives getting all hot and bothered about someone they claim does not exist.”

    That fits my observations. At the Wieland-Willis debate I ran into an atheist and Humanist whom I vaguely knew. As I spoke to him I expected the usual social niceties such as “good to see you”, “nice weather today” or “how are the wife and kids?” Instead he solemnly announced, quite out of the blue, that God doesn’t exist as if it was obvious (we were in a church). What a bore. I don’t mind being thrown into the deep end of the philosophy pool as I can swim rather well but this was too much. I have had similar experiences at Humanist meetings where atheists have been known to be more obsessed with God than an overheated Christian. They are obsessive personalities who can’t get the God-idea out of their heads. They are particularly upset by the idea of an angry or punishing god. Never underestimate the emotional charge behind atheism. And always note how they present themselves as people of “superior” rationality, scientific “brights”. But it is a narcissistic veneer with holes.

    With luck, these obsessive atheists will keep the God-idea alive for centuries.

    John Snowden

  • There is also the idea that religious belief is the product of a part of the brain wired for survival and that since man has now achieved a certain degree of control and mastery over life – even to the point where scientists are exploring the possibilities of giving us eternal life – this then makes religious belief redundant. This ignores the fact that what motivates man to create his cities, culture, artistic and scientific achievements, for as long as history has been recorded, is not the need for survival but a profound dissatisfaction with mere existence.
    If scientists could find such a part of brain responsible for this eternal torment they could cut it out or control it with drugs so that we, or some sections of the population, could live in blissful disengagement with the real world, and like some autistic children could put our hand in the fire or chain saw without a flicker of emotion.

    David Skinner, UK

  • The oldest human urge is the desire for autonomy, idependence, being your own boss, being top dog, being able to do what you like with their being no possible consequences (this is what motivated Adam and Eve). Atheism, in its modern form, and no doubt in its earlier forms also, is the best possible route to this consequence-insulation, that’s why it will always be popular – perhaps always has been. The need to destroy the Creator is the same as the Oedipean desire for patricide – see the excellent “Psychology of atheism” artiel by Paul Vitz – http://www.leaderu.com/truth/1truth12.html
    John Thomas

  • Couldn’t agree more with the observation that anti-theists are behaving rather like young children throwing a fit because Mom/Dad said “no” to Baby’s sacred whims.

    In my own experience and observation, atheism seems to have two root causes (both do not necessarily apply to a given individual, but one or the other most likely does): either pride (“I’m the greatest being there is, and anything bigger than me, like God, simply can’t be because then I wouldn’t be the top of the ladder”) as you mentioned, or the aforementioned petulant refusal to accept any entity having a right to tell one what to do. Lots of atheists I’ve observed have real issues with secular law, too, since it “infringes on freedom”.

    Seanette Blaylock

  • I have a book by Paul Vitz on the psychology of atheism. We probably tend to focus on the more visible atheists like Russell and Dawkins so we are at risk of availability bias in generalising from them to atheists overall. They may or may not be typical of the class even if their followers imitate them. There is plainly variation in the causes of atheism. The causes range from adolescent rebelliousness to priestly corruption to the official production of blinkered atheist drones in Soviet education. I am not in favour of causal explanations coming out of Freudianism as that in my mind has questionable scientific credentials.

    There’s plenty of literature on the psychology of religion but not much on the psychology of atheism, possibly because the atheists are a boring lot whereas the behaviours of religious people at times scream for rational explanation (I have just been reading about the odd sado-masochistic practices of Aztec priests).

    There is a lot to be explained about atheists. For example, why do they persist in being promoters of homosexuality even when they themselves are not that way inclined? As devotees of evolution they must know that it is biologically pointless and as devotees of the science of psychology they must know that homosexuality per se confers no obvious benefits on society or personality. If they were rational, they would be funding NARTH. We can also probe their moral thinking. Why do they so easily get lost? I am not saying of course that their thinking always detours to the barnyard like Peter Singer’s, but they do get lost. For example, they can’t grasp that a right to die will become a duty to die.

    John Snowden

  • The reason atheists get so hot and bothered over God is because deep down inside they KNOW He exists but don’t want to face the moral implications that His existence points to.

    It’s akin to teenagers that want to be taken care of materially by their parents but don’t want to be hampered by rules, discipline or authority. They want their cake and eat it too. Good article.

    Victoria Demona

  • “Of course two can play this game. It makes as much sense to argue there are no rational arguments for atheism. Instead, we simply have an atheism gene which forces some people to adhere to atheism. Indeed, in a totally materialistic world, our genes end up explaining – and causing – everything we do, believe or value. We are simply the product of our genes. ” Bill

    “There’s plenty of literature on the psychology of religion but not much on the psychology of atheism,” John

    Homosexuals still claim that they are born homophiles; they have no choice by to be besotted with their own kind. So why can’t I claim that I was born homophobe and therefore have no choice in the matter?

    David Skinner, UK

  • Einstein said, “The area of scientific knowledge has been enormously extended, and theoretical knowledge has become vastly more profound in every department of science. But the assimilative power of the human intellect is and remains strictly limited. Hence it was inevitable that the activity of the individual investigator should be confined to a smaller and smaller section of human knowledge. Worse still, this specialization makes it increasingly difficult to keep even our general understanding of science as a whole, without which the true spirit of research is inevitably handicapped, in step with scientific progress. Every serious scientific worker is painfully conscious of this involuntary relegation to an ever-narrowing sphere of knowledge, which threatens to deprive the investigator of his broad horizon and degrades him to the level of a mechanic … It is just as important to make knowledge live and to keep it alive as to solve specific problems.” (Albert Einstein, 1954)

    Indeed scientists have not only become degraded to the level of mechanics but they degrade us to the level of machines: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/faith/article6823229.ece

    Yet when we hear of their definition of religious experience it is little different from illusions and psychedelic experience. Why do they not instead ask why, the human heart, whilst in the process of desperately crying out for justice, suddenly becomes convicted of guilt itself and tries to hide from the source of all justice; which they know is there but for the existence of which they can find no mechanistic proof, this side of death?

    Job 38: 33 Do you know the laws of the heavens? Can you set up God’s dominion over the earth?
    Job 38: 36 Who endowed the heart with wisdom or gave understanding to the mind ?
    Job 40:8 “Would you discredit my justice? Would you condemn me to justify yourself?

    David Skinner, UK

  • Even a non-Christian social commentator, Dr Theodore Dalrymple, showed up the flaws in this evolutionary reasoning, as promoted by the atheist philosopher Daniel Dennett:

    ‘Dennett argues that religion is explicable in evolutionary terms—for example, by our inborn human propensity, at one time valuable for our survival on the African savannahs, to attribute animate agency to threatening events.
    ‘For Dennett, to prove the biological origin of belief in God is to show its irrationality, to break its spell. But of course it is a necessary part of the argument that all possible human beliefs, including belief in evolution, must be explicable in precisely the same way; or else why single out religion for this treatment? Either we test ideas according to arguments in their favor, independent of their origins, thus making the argument from evolution irrelevant, or all possible beliefs come under the same suspicion of being only evolutionary adaptations—and thus biologically contingent rather than true or false. We find ourselves facing a version of the paradox of the Cretan liar: all beliefs, including this one, are the products of evolution, and all beliefs that are products of evolution cannot be known to be true.’ [What the new atheists don’t see: to regret religion is to regret Western civilization, City Journal, Autumn 2007]

    Jonathan Sarfati, Brisbane

  • Hi Victoria,

    I was brought up without the usual childhood indoctrination into religion. I really didn’t even become aware of the various religious doctrines until about 12 when I met my lifelong friend at school (an anglican). I guess because of this I began to see their views as “quaint” – and obviously something instilled at an early age by their cultural background.
    No – I’m not religious. Yet I still see myself as moral. I have empathy to my fellow beings, and certainly don’t need authority to tell me what is right and wrong. Where did I get my values? From loving and caring parents who taught me how to think – not what to think.
    I don’t think of myself as “atheist” even though I am almost (99.9%) certain there is no god. I try not to attach labels. I don’t even think about a god or lack thereof. In the same way you probably don’t give much thought to the existence or otherwise of the Loch Ness monster.

    I lived and worked for some time in Stockholm (Sweden) and Aarhus (Denmark). What a wonderful people. Crime rates were probably the lowest in Europe and I always felt quite safe when my daughter was out with her boyfriend at night. These countries only have approximately 20% church goers (80% non-religious). I also spent some time in the USA (Boston, New York, and Washington). We are talking about one of the most religious countries in the western world, and I couldn’t reconcile this with the daily shootings and other crimes. My daughter had returned to New Zealand by this time, thank Zeus :o)
    I am now 60 and all I can say is be tolerant – your beliefs are cultural and should have little to do with your morality.
    I have three wonderful, happy and well-rounded adult children and two wonderful grandchildren. All are non-religious however I couldn’t be prouder of them and their ethics.

    Mike Sloane

  • Thanks Mike

    While it is nice to hear about how you and your family are getting along, that really misses the point. The question that needs to be answered is how does one explain moral life in a world without God? Your morally–infused humanity makes perfect sense in a theistic worldview. People are moral agents because they live in a moral universe. Being made in God’s image, they reflect his moral character, even though that has been distorted by sin and selfishness. So your moral nature is easily understandable in a world created by a moral God, but much less so in a purely materialistic world.

    And I would not play the religion=violence, secularism=peace card too much. The bloodiest century on earth – last century – was also the most secular century. With secular tyrants around like Stalin, Hitler and Mao, I’ll take religion any day thanks.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Bill,

    I don’t think I missed the point at all.
    How can morals be related to religion?
    The church used to sanction torture, now it doesn’t thank goodness. I think if you were to take an unbiased look at history you’d see that our ethics have evolved over time.
    It may well be that religion follows or adopts the changing ethical view, but I can’t seem it being responsible for it.

    I’d still like your thoughts on why the US is such a violent society in comparison to many others? This is a valid question. I could point to many other examples (but won’t).

    While I’m not strong in politics, I can certainly tell you that Hitler was a catholic – but I certainly wouldn’t blame the holocaust on the catholics. It was the result of a deluded mind.

    Don’t laugh – I had to look up secularism. Not a word that I use much :o) Wiki defines it as “…belief that religion and authority should be separate.”
    I hope you aren’t saying that citizens should be ruled over by religion ? It would scare the pants off me to think I was to fall under sharia law. Who will make the decision on which god ? which doctrine ? who interprets the doctrine ? No – think I like the sound of “secularism”.

    But as you know, these conversations rarely change minds.

    Have a good life (I’m 99.9% sure its the only one you’ll have :o)
    Mike Sloane

  • Thanks Mike

    But you are still missing the point. When did I talk about religion? My claim is that moral obligations, duties and sentiments make sense if a moral lawgiver exists, but make much less sense in a purely physical world.

    As to your evolving ethics, without a transcendent unchanging moral standard, then who is to say that today’s ethics are preferable to tomorrow’s, or yesterday’s? If next week the majority decide that everyone who is named Mike will be slowly tortured to death, is that OK because the majority decides, and ethics are evolving?

    And there are plenty of secular regimes today that employ torture. So with no binding absolute mortal standards, who is to say torture is wrong, in your view?

    Nations which are largely socially homogenous, as Scandinavian countries have been – except for just recently – are usually less riddled with crime and violence. But immigration is now changing all that. And who says America is a religious nation anyway?

    And you simply peddle the usual bluff about Hitler. He grew up in a Catholic home. So what? Stalin grew up in a Russian Orthodox home. Dawkins grew up in an Anglican home. All three of course repudiated their faith early on. Sure, Hitler was happy to use Christian terms and symbols to help push his agenda, but he had no Christian convictions at all. Indeed, he regarded Catholicism as a “religion fit only for slaves” and he hated its ethics, as historians have amply documented. So you will need to do better than surfing the usual atheist websites here.

    And the term ‘secular’of course also refers to that which is temporal and worldy, as opposed to that which is eternal and other-worldly.

    But if you have already closed your mind on all this, and have no intention of following the evidence where it leads, then why even bother coming to a website like this? So much for the open-mindedness and reasonableness of atheism.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Bill,

    About your point about morality…
    a) Why do moral obligations only make sense if a moral lawgiver exists ? Why do you think humanity cannot determine ethical behaviour on its own terms ? It has done this countless times if you think about cultures that knew nothing for millenia of (for example) christianity (the maori, aborigine, torres strait islanders, chinese, japanese, etc.)
    b) Had to look up “transcendent” – not a word I tend to use. Just to ensure we interpret it consistently, the definition I got back was “being beyond the limits of all possible experience and knowledge”. If that is the definition you intended, then it is clear you have no way of knowing what the moral standards are.
    c) Can you give me some explicit references to where these morals are stated ? Some specifics please.
    d) you are dead right – who is to say that today’s or tomorrow’s ethics are preferable ? Is that you ? The pope ? The queen of England ? This is a serious question.

    To answer your question on who is to say torture, (or any other ethical issue), is wrong must be the law of the day. This law reflects the consensus of the population. Is it perfect – no. Would I want it to be a religious body dictating the law – no. As I previously stated, it has and will continue to evolve. I think we are seeing this right now with the gradual acceptance of gay rights, just as we saw in the 60’s with the blacks in the USofA. In both cases, bigotry is being overcome and the law updates to reflect this.
    Your example of all Mikes being tortured because the law decrees is more than somewhat absurd. Can’t see the point of this one. If it is trying to make the point that we would be better under a religious legal system, I’d be even more worried about being stoned for a trivial offense.

    No Bill, not closed minded. I just haven’t seen the convincing evidence you speak about. Please point me to it. Don’t just make discursive statements and generalities. Be specific. Trust me – if you have positive evidence (of what?), I’m with you. Its your golden opportunity to make a convert !

    Mike Sloan

  • Thanks Mike

    You raise too many points here to do justice to what is supposed to be a short comment (as my rules state!). But as a self-confessed agnostic (you don’t think God exists), let me offer a few thoughts. The real issue here is whether in fact you are really open to the God question, as you claim to be. It seems to me that this is the most important issue any person can deal with. If you are genuinely open to the evidence, there is plenty there, and I am happy to point you to some of it.

    You said earlier “I’m 99.9% sure [this life is] the only one you’ll have”. Yet you admit to plenty of things you don’t know about in this life. If you have so many questions and doubts about mere earthly matters, how can you be so sure about spiritual matters? It seems odd – and arrogant – to make your 99% claim. Even a person who has studied heaps of philosophy, history, religion, science and all other sorts of knowledge would not be able to make such a bold and reckless claim.

    Simply the fact that the overwhelming majority of the world’s population always has believed in God and the afterlife should make a person think twice. Not that truth is determined by mere numbers, but one has to ask why this has been the case.

    And the question can be turned around: what evidence and proof do you have that God and the afterlife do not exist? It seems you have simply made up your mind on this, and yet you admit to so much that you don’t know about. Humility would be a good place to begin here, in being open to following the evidence where it may lead.

    As to evidence, and converting you, as you say, this is a huge topic that I cannot quickly answer here. I happen to be a Christian. So the first bit of evidence I would ask you to consider is the historical documents concerning the life and teachings of Jesus. So I would ask you get a copy of Mark’s gospel, or the gospel of John, and give them a read with an open mind. They can be found here for example:
    http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Mark+1&version=NIV
    http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=John+1&version=NIV

    After you have done that, feel free to come back and ask more questions.

    Thus for the time being I won’t reply to all your questions on morality, as they will take us too far afield, although I am happy to engage those issues a well. So please follow my suggestion, and when you have done that, let’s see further what you think. A deal?

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • I was hoping for some specific evidence.
    As you say, numbers prove nothing – after all nations have believed in all sorts of things in history that we no longer accept. Unfortunately, if it all falls back on “transcendent” then by definition there can be no evidence – it can be neither proved or disproved.
    However, as you suggest, I’ll make the effort to check out the links and get back after a read.

    Mike Sloan

  • Thanks Mike

    Yes give it a shot. But bear in mind that if a God does exist, he is the boss, not us. That means we should come to him on his terms, not our own. And one such term would be that God rewards the diligent seeker, but not the casual enquirer. Thus the seriousness or otherwise of your quest will in large measure determine what you find.

    And again, if God and the afterlife do in fact exist, and our eternal destiny depends on what choices we make in this life, then taking such matters seriously would be very wise indeed. But happy reading. As I say, if you approach this with an honest and open mind, you may be surprised at what you find, just as billions of other people throughout history have. Why even I was genuinely and radically changed from a wild amoral hippy bent on self-destruction after my encounter with the living Christ.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Bill,

    First thing first – I will to do some research on the provenance of these authors first to determine their authority.

    Mike Sloan

  • Sorry Mike, but your last comment now has me worried. You will tend to find what you are looking for. If you are already half sure that the gospels are not authoritative and untrustworthy, then of course you will simply gravitate toward those sceptics who want to trash the gospels and push their own agenda. That is not reading with an open and honest mind.

    A genuine seeker will first simply read these gospels, and along the way one can make critical assessments. But if you go into reading these with an antagonistic mind to begin with, then you will not get very far. Then the exercise will be a complete waste of time, and you will simply have arrived at the place you wanted to arrive at.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Bill,

    Read what you just wrote – you are asking me to do just what you accused “those skeptics” of. Why it should worry you is odd. I’m sure I’ll see both religious and non-religious bias but I have a logical brain between my ears.

    Bill – you are a believer. Surely you understand the nature of research. When buying a car, I still have it looked at by an independent mechanic – I don’t take honest-John-the-car-delaers word for it.

    I spent many years in meteorological research (the agricultural sector) – I understand research. I understand the nature of evidence, and can spot bias 100km away.
    I’m an independent thinker, old boy.

    Mike Sloan

  • Thanks Mike

    But you miss my point. At this time I am not asking you to commit to anything, simply to read the gospels with an open and unbiased mind. But if you trawl the usual sceptics and atheist websites first, you will hardly be in a position to have an open and unprejudiced mind. As I said, certainly you can and should read critically as you go along, and afterwards you can do all the extra reading you want. But don’t prejudge the case first – that’s all I’m saying.

    But if you must, then to be fair, for every hostile website you turn to, you should also read one that argues for the reliability and historicity of the gospel accounts. If you have trouble locating those, just let me know. Or if you prefer books, I can recommend those as well.

    It is only after you have read the gospels, and you know what is involved, that the opportunity for commitment arises, one way or another. And then yes, it will be far more important than simply buying a car, and proper research and important decision making will be called for.

    But as I say, if this is a mere intellectual exercise, with no desire of actually being open to having your thinking – and life – turned around, then it will be a fairly useless exercise. Again, it is all up to you.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Okay – as you say. I’ll try the links first.
    I will be going to serious study (uni) sites for info later. Wiki I have also found to be a reasonable place of reference.
    Atheist and religious (including yours) would never be considered for an unbiased view.

    I’m in the middle of work right now as I have a tender to release mid week, but hopefully then I should be able to make a start. These discussions have been a welcome interlude from the legalise :o)

    Mike Sloan

  • Thanks Mike

    But remember that all sites and sources will ultimately be biased to some degree. Wiki is far from a fount of objectivity and neutrality, let alone scholarly inquiry. And it all depends on which unis you seek out. Most secular unis of course in their humanities departments would be quite hostile to religious beliefs, so again care is needed in where you go to for info. While it is quite easy to come across sites and sources that are critical of Christian belief and the Bible, a bit more attention is needed to find those which give it a good run. Again, let me know if you want me to suggest a few for you.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Dr Sarfati: “Even a non-Christian social commentator, Dr Theodore Dalrymple, showed up the flaws in this evolutionary reasoning, as promoted by the atheist philosopher Daniel Dennett”

    My questions are somewhat off topic. I like and enjoy Theodore Dalrymple’s bright little essays but so far I have not seen him question gay activism or the current fad for Western governments to promote this particular irrationality. Have I missed such a critique? Anyone here know why Dalrymple leaves these irrationalists unscathed?

    John Snowden

  • Bill,

    I laboured through most of the John gospel.
    As you point out, your ‘rules’ are for short comments (and as such aren’t geared to deep philosophical discuss) – so here are a few bullets:
    1. Yes – I am open to all philosophies, but not to the point of gullibility.
    2. What a discursive read. It might resonate with the less educated people of the time, but not me.
    3. Miracles: water to wine ? no further comment.
    4. Morals: a couple of time a point was made, however he places women as inferior – 50% of the world population ! Sort of undid it for me.
    5. Haven’t even looked at provenance of the docs in question, but don’t have the compulsion to investigate further based on what I read.

    Bill – I’ll leave you and yours to enjoy life in whatever manner you chose. But I have seen no evidence to convince me to change my philosophies.

    Mike Sloane

  • Thanks Mike

    Being genuinely open seems to be the key hear. (And openness is not at all the same as gullibility.) Your remarks do not express much openness at all. They certainly do not seem to indicate serious inquiry or diligent searching. They seem to indicate a mind that is already made up, in which any case further searching will not be very fruitful.

    You “laboured through most of the John gospel”??? I would not have thought that 21 brief chapters of text would not call for much labour. And given that the very one thing that sets Christianity apart from every other religion and philosophy in the world – the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ – comes at the end of the gospel, a section you may not even have made it to, then you have missed the very heart of the story.

    And of course there are 65 other books in the Bible. So you won’t win any rewards here for diligence or perseverance. You might as well say that you have read a few chapters of Das Capital or The God Delusion, and cannot accept what they have to say, based on those few minutes of reading.

    And you have spoken before of ‘evidence’. Just what do you mean by that, or by the term ‘proof’? I hope you realise that perhaps 99% of what we do in life is not based on solid evidence or 100% proof. You don’t even have 100% proof that the chair you are sitting on will continue to support your weight for the rest of the day. All we have in most of life are stronger or weaker probabilities.

    And again, an open mind reading the entire gospel of John would have been hit by the strongest evidence possible: here was a man who died, but came back to life again. How does one account for this, assuming the gospels are historically accurate and trustworthy? God would be the most sensible hypothesis to account for the empty tomb.

    But of course if you rule out the miraculous ahead of time (as you scoff at the water into wine episode), then no amount of ‘evidence’ will ever convince you. If you own child died, and then came back to life three days later, if you rule out the miraculous ahead of time, then you will spend the rest of your life trying to explain away what just has happened. That sounds like gullibility to me.

    And your disparaging words about being educated also need to be challenged. Many of the most brilliant and educated people of all time – doctors, lawyers, philosophers, scientists, educators, and so on – have been convinced by the evidence of Christianity’s truth claims. Were committed Christians like Augustine, Aquinas, C.S. Lewis and Francis Collins, head of the Human Genome Project, to name just a few, uneducated? It takes a lot of arrogance to make those sorts of claims.

    And you evidentially did not read very carefully. Jesus’ treatment of women – as recorded in the four gospels – was revolutionary for his time. Unlike the surrounding culture, he treated women seriously and with utmost respect. He was centuries ahead of his time on this.

    But as I say, it all boils down to how open one is. If one has already made up one’s mind ahead of time, then nothing can be said or done to convince a person otherwise. But I will continue to keep you in my prayers, and hopefully one day you may again explore the most important questions which any of us can deal with: Is there a God and an afterlife? If so, what is this God like, and what does he expect of me?

    However, thanks for writing.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Wow. Needless to say I’ve spent about an hour reading all the comments left. I just had a couple words to say: It seems to me that athiests and agnostics alike say they want to know our arguments and evidence, but when it comes down to it, they just want us to speak so they may lay out thier responses and “seem” more educated then we are. Seems to me that athiests are just as “childish” as Mohler made them out to be in his recent book “Atiesm Remix.”

    But again, I must side with Brennan Manning who said, “The greatest single cause of atheism in the world today is Christians, who acknowledge Jesus with their lips and walk out the door, and deny Him by their lifestyle. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable.”

    Caleb Childers, USA

  • Thanks Caleb

    At the end of the day unbelievers will be responsible for their unbelief, and they will be without excuse at God’s judgment seat. But you are right to note the role Christian can play in all of this. Since I have been reading a lot of Tozer recently, let me mention a few lines from one of his articles: He speaks of the “glaring disparity between theology and practice among professing Christians. . . . Certainly the non-Christian is not too much to be blamed if he turns disgustedly away from the invitation of the Gospel after he has been exposed for a while to the inconsistencies of those of his acquaintance who profess to follow Christ. The deadening effect of religious make-believe on the human mind is beyond all describing.”

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

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