Atheists Say the Silliest Things

With a major atheist revival meeting currently being held in Melbourne, all the true unbelievers have come out in force, emboldened to proclaim their faith. Plenty of media attention is being given to their religion, with its high priests given a very good run indeed.

Thus Richard Dawkins (‘There is no God, and Dawkins is his prophet’) is getting a dream run with Australia’s mainstream media. No wonder that, since so many of the MSM are themselves card-carrying atheists and God-haters.

Even before the weekend conference began, the Dawkins’ disciples were pushing their creed. For example, on Wednesday a Herald Sun columnist felt empowered to push her anti-God agenda. With a piece strangely entitled, “We atheists are not all godforsaken,” Cheryl Critchley seeks to enlighten us all on the wonders of misotheism.

It is a rather silly and shallow piece, but because it has appeared in the most widely read newspaper in Australia, it is worth responding to nonetheless. And a response is not very hard to produce, given how vacuous and trite the whole piece is.

It did not take her long to get things wrong – big time. She begins by bewailing religious education, referring to it as something out of the “dark ages”. That phrase of course is a pejorative term, used by Enlightenment figures to refer to the Middle Ages.

But the truth is, this was a very important feature of Western history, in which Christians primarily were holding back the darkness of the barbarian hordes, preserving learning, knowledge, books and education. Indeed, medieval monks and monasteries almost single-handedly kept Western civilization going during this period.

She says if we must have religious education in schools, then teach them all: “If all children understood all religions the world would be a much more tolerant – and hopefully peaceful – place.” Sorry Cheryl, but no dice. Just the opposite is the case. Never have we had greater understanding of all the world’s religions than now, but conflict still abounds.

Indeed, the more one does understand the various world religions, the more one finds them to be so very incompatible with each other. But that is not really the issue here. If peace and tolerance is the main concern, then we need to remind our writer that it has been the secularist and atheist religions of last century that have unleashed the most bloodshed and death.

She goes on to whine about miracles as found in the Bible (such as feeding the crowds) and then says, “Why didn’t Jesus come back and perform miracles like that in Africa?” Actually he has Cheryl, in the form of his followers. Countless Christians over the centuries have gone to Africa and other parts of the world to do that very thing: help the poor, the marginalised, those in distress, those in need, etc.

Please inform us all Ms Critchley just how many atheists are doing similar things in Africa or anywhere for that matter. I am not aware of any hospitals or aid organisation established and promoted by those of the atheist religion. But I know of thousands which have explicitly been set up and run by dedicated disciples of Christ.

She then offers us a moral absolute which we all should adhere to, claiming that we should respect the rights of others to hold their own beliefs – but then she immediately retracts this by making an exception to it. She says we must not respect those who disagree with homosexuality, or put down women.

So she is demanding that millions of people who may have concerns about the promotion of homosexuality must respect her views, but she will not respect their views. Sounds like a great way to get a new religion off the ground, one that promotes tolerance and will lead to peace. Heaven on earth will be achieved if we simply all think exactly the same as the divine Ms C.

She concludes by saying that one day she might start her own “atheist religion”. Sorry Cheryl, but it sounds to all of us like you already have. And she gives us her ten commandments of atheism. Sorry again Cheryl, but nothing very original here: this has all been done before. For example, your fearless leader Richard Dawkins has a very similar listing in his The God Delusion.

But let’s go through her rather juvenile list anyway:

All men and women are created equal. Um, what? Created? But who did the creating then Cheryl? And yes, Christianity already teaches that very thing anyway. Christianity treats all people equally, but your atheism cannot. Blind evolution, as Darwin said, will always favour some races over others. That is how life operates in a godless, purely naturalistic world.

Live your life according to what is right, not what is written in a 2000-year-old book. And just who decides, in such a world, what is right and why? Indeed, morality is a concept which only makes sense in a personal world, but makes no sense at all in an impersonal, material world. Morality makes sense if there is a universal moral law and a moral law-giver.

Treat others as you want them to treat you. Again, that comes straight out of the Bible and the teachings of Jesus, Cheryl. Why is it that most of your ‘morality’ is basically pinched from the very faith that you reject? You cannot even write about these issues without stealing from the moral universe made possible by the Judeo-Christian worldview.

Respect difference in others. But why, given your worldview, should we? And as you just wrote earlier, you want others to respect your point of view, but you reserve the right to not respect those who disagree with you. Your double standards are showing here big time.

Watch out for those less privileged. Yep, we have had that happening now for two thousand years, thanks to all those followers of Jesus Christ. And what exactly are you and your fellow atheists doing about the less privileged Cheryl? Anyone can pontificate about these matters, and seek to take the high moral ground here. But in this case, the proof is indeed in the pudding.

Never judge people based on their religion, gender, race or sexuality. What!? You have just spent an entire article doing that very thing. You have been judging religious folks in general and Christians in particular this whole time, and now you dare to tell everyone else not to judge? There is a word for this Cheryl: it starts with ‘h’ and ends with ‘ypocrisy’.

Respect relationships between consenting adults that do not hurt others. Oh, so I should respect polygyny, group sex, incest, and all sorts of other kinky sex acts, simply because people agree to them? Sorry Cheryl, but no society would last long following your immoral and amoral advice. Fortunately most nations know better than to follow that sort of idiocy.

Question authority if it unfairly oppresses you or others. OK, so can I question your authority as well? Indeed, why should I buy one word of what you are saying, or those of Dawkins or any of the other atheist guru authorities?

Never compromise what is right for money or promotion. Agreed, and that of course also can be found quite clearly in the New Testament, and other religious writings. By the way, does your morality say anything about theft – at least the theft of other people’s ideas and concepts which are not at all unique to you or atheism?

If and when God shows him or herself in person we will believe. Will you Cheryl? Will you really? Somehow I think you are just bluffing us here. The truth is, God already has done the very thing you have demanded of him: he has revealed himself. But you have simply rejected him. Two thousand years ago God came to earth and lived amongst us. Just as so many back then rejected him, so people like yourself are still doing so today.

I am afraid all your lame excuses and pseudo-rationalism here impresses very few of us. It certainly does not impress God. But this is the usual superficial and mushy drivel that atheists come up with time and time again. It is logically incoherent, intellectually flimsy, and polemically weak.

I find it quite hard to see how atheism can win many converts based on this sort of secular silliness.

www.heraldsun.com.au/news/we-atheists-are-not-all-godforsaken/story-e6frf7jo-1225838884008

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117 Replies to “Atheists Say the Silliest Things”

  1. Hi Bill,

    I believe Fred Hollows was an atheist, and he dedicated a good chunk of his life to helping restore vision to people IIRC. I agree that when weighed side by side, the atheist side of the ledger is pretty small, but it isn’t empty.

    Thanks for reprinting Cheryl’s idiot list of commandments. They gave me a chuckle. Funny how her list of commandments is more or less, “Do all the nice relational things Christians do except for the stuff about sexual restraint”. I think that might pretty much reveal the core of her philosophy (what veneer like depths that is has) as she seems so keen to embrace any sort of sexual deviancy provided it is between “consenting adults”. Of course I doubt she could provide a reasoned foundation for those “puritanical” restrictions.

    Thanks for giving me a good afternoon chuckle. It is atheists like this and their DeepThoughts(TM) that remind me why Christianity is such an intellectually sound religion.

    Jason Rennie

  2. Hear hear Bill. I keep hoping for something intelligent from a secularist but I think it is a vain hope. With a mere backhanded slap you show how her piece is not even substandard, its puerile (I teach high school students). Living comfortably numb in the secular cocoon doesn’t prepare for public airing of their beliefs. If such massive stupidity is so baldly unaware of itself at this level of public discussion we shouldn’t wonder anymore about failures of leadership or the traction secular manias like global warming receive.
    Martin Snigg

  3. Thanks Jason

    Actually we can take your line and extend it further. She and other atheists basically want to pinch many of the ethics of Christianity, but divorce them from the teachings and beliefs of Christianity. Of course it cannot work that way: the ethics of Christianity flow from and are based on Christian thinking and doctrine.

    She wants to steal the bits she likes, and just leave behind those bits which she does not like. They are a bunch of thieves – and quite selective ones at that!

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  4. And as to Hollows, he once studied for the priesthood, but later rejected God. But his humanitarianism was only possible because of, and explicble in terms of, the reality of God and the moral universe we all inhabit. Hollows was still made in God’s image, still was under God’s common grace, and still lived and acted in God’s moral universe. That is why he could do what he did.

    So yes, non-believers can do good things, but not on the basis of their own worldview, but on the basis of the one they reject. The dog eat dog world of philosophical naturalism and impersonal evolution do not offer the basis or motivation for genuine atruism and self-sacrifice for strangers. But the biblical worldview certainly allows for it and makes sense of it.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  5. Thanks for the Friday afternoon chuckle. Reading Ms C’s list of moral absolutes (funny how the apparent moral relativists subscribe to a core set of non-negotiable fundamentals) it struck me how closely these align with the philosophies of the liberal left-leaning progressive ‘mainstream’ denominations – it’s all utopian peace on earth idealistic mush, where life is oh so sweet and easy without the complications of eternal consequences or righteous judgment!
    Ben Williams

  6. I read it also and could not help but shake my head at the way she stumbled (not danced!) around the proverbial mulberry bush. I must admit that despite shaking my head at the nonsense she wrote, I felt a pang of sadness for her in the fact that God loves her and wants to give her so much and one day if she dies in her sin, then she will experience so much angst, heartbreak, sadness and regret. Let’s pray for her.
    Steve Davis

  7. “The fool hath said in his[her] heart . . .” But by far the greater fool is he [she] who says it publicly.
    Lindsay Smail

  8. Hi Bill,
    I feel I must respond to your so-called pulling apart of my arguments. As I said, my “ten commandments” were intended to show that you can live a good, moral life without having to look to a higher being for guidance. Nothing more. Are we not smart enough to come up with our own moral code? Of course some of my points reflect Christian ideals. As I said, you can live a good moral life without believing in God.
    I am not belittling anyone who is religious (unless it hurts others). The opposite is true. As I said, I respect people who are religious and have many religious friends. Why is it that religious people can make physically impossible claims like walking on water and a virgin birth while those of us who look at things rationally are wrong?
    Religious people hardly have a mortgage on morality and compassion. I know many atheists who care for the less fortunate via social work, voluntary work and whatever you would care to name.
    The religious responses to my article have smacked of “playing the man and not the ball”. Not one has come up with an ounce of evidence that there is a God or that Jesus ever walked this earth in the way the bible describes. And unlike many atheists, who respect the religious views of those who differ to theirs (unless they hurt others), people like me who don’t believe are painted as evil.
    I am comfortable about who I am and what I believe, and all I am saying is that those who do believe in God should respect the views of those of us who don’t. That is why we should educate our children about all religions and allow them the freedom of thought to make up their own minds.
    Thanks for your time and have a nice weekend,
    Cheryl Critchley

  9. Thanks Cheryl

    Nice of you to drop by for a chat. If I may, let me offer a few replies. As to atheists living a relatively moral life, I have already addressed this issue, both here and elsewhere. The issue is not, ‘Can a non-believer be moral?’ The issue is, ‘How can one be moral, and why, given the atheist’s worldview?’

    I can fully account for morality on the Judeo-Christian worldview. We are moral persons who live in a moral universe, with moral obligations and a moral law giver. But what can atheists offer us here? The chief guru of atheism, Richard Dawkins, can only offer us this:

    “In a universe of blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won’t find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but blind, pitiless indifference. As that unhappy poet A.E. Housman put it: ‘For Nature, heartless, witless Nature. Will neither care nor know’.”

    There are plenty of other such quotes one can present here. Let me just offer two more. Atheist ethicist Richard Taylor put it this way, “The concept of moral obligation [is] unintelligible apart from the idea of God.”

    Or as atheist Kai Nielson asserts, “We have not been able to show that reason requires the moral point of view or that all really rational persons, unhoodwinked by myth or ideology, not be individualists or classic amoralists. Reason doesn’t decide here. The picture I have painted for you is not a pleasant one. Reflection on it depresses me… The point is this: Pure, practical reason, even with a good knowledge of the facts, will not take you to morality.”

    You say, “Are we not smart enough to come up with our own moral code?” One wonders. Hitler, the Nazis, and the bulk of the German people all thought they could. Indeed, recent history has been the story of secular regimes slaughtering millions of people, all because they thought they could figure out their own moral code.

    And you also say, “I am not belittling anyone who is religious”. Sorry Cheryl, but your entire article was nothing more than one long exercise in belittling religious people, and being disrespectful to them. The same with your comment. You just can’t help yourself here, can you? You repeat your silly claim that for one to have religious beliefs (such as a belief in the miraculous) renders him or her irrational.

    And can I humbly suggest that the truth claims of Christianity extend a bit beyond whatever experiences you may have had as a child in a Catholic church. They need to be investigated on their own merits, not simply dismissed because of some childhood experience.

    And sure, many bad things have happened in the name of religion. But one could argue that many bad opinion pieces have been written by newspaper writers. Does that mean we dismiss them all as worthless?

    A bit of discernment and critical realism would be in order here. And given that millions of PhD’s, scientists, intellectuals, doctors, lawyers, world leaders, academics, professors, and countless others have all embraced as fully rational and coherent the biblical worldview, you are being far too dismissive here.

    Indeed, world-renowned atheist Antony Flew has recently abandoned his atheism, as he can no longer hold to it and retain his intellect and rationality.

    And my article was simply a point by point rebuttal of your various ‘arguments’. In your comment you have not yet responded to anything I have said, just complained about how you perceive you have been treated. So I will leave it to the readers to decide just who is being rational here, and who in fact is running away from rationality.

    By all means marshal any arguments of consequence to make your case. But with all due respect we have not seen any from you thus far.

    And thanks, I will indeed have a great weekend. You too. Thanks for writing in.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  10. No one has come up with an ounce of evidence that there is a God???? What do you say to a comment like that? I remember Paul exhorting the saints to avoid useless arguments about geneology and the law and I sometimes wonder if there is any sense in arguing with a viewpoint like that? You certainly put foward a very good article Bill and I am sorry to say Cheryl that you came a very distant 2nd best on this one. Also nobody is belittling you here – Bill seems to have responded in a very professional and articulate manner to an article you wrote. One thing I seem to notice about athiests is that they will dismiss the notion of a higher being out of hand and so far I have seen virtually no solid evidence presented by them to back up their claims. I think any fair minded person, acting openly and honestly, who has been prepared to consider the evidence available, will have to at least admit that we were created.
    Steve Davis

  11. Hi Bill
    I remember reading a book years ago by Edwin Orr and he tells the story of a man who claimed to be an atheist and asked him how much he knew of all there was to know to which he obviously had to reply – very little. Edwin Orr told the man that really he was an agnostic and not an atheist, because outside of the little he knew it was possible that God existed. However he went on to explain that there are two kinds of agnostics. The first is an ordinary one who believes that outside of his knowledge God may exist. The second kind is what was called an ornary one who says “I don’t know and it’s not possible for anyone to really know”.
    Seems to me that for any one to claim that they are an atheist doesn’t add up.
    Wilfred Parmenter

  12. Great points Bill! I especially like this one:

    All men and women are created equal. Indeed Darwin did say that all men and women are not equal nor did he call them “created” equal as you pointed out. Darwin actually said that women were lesser evolved then men, because they aren’t as strong. Just a bit sexist of Darwin if you ask me… so why isn’t she jumping up and down about that? A lot of athiest males still think that way, and treat women that way too…

    Be consistant woman!

    And by the way, I recommend being a Christian. Jesus actually thought that women had intrinsic value and treated them with high regard and respect, unlike most cultures of the time. If you don’t believe me, just read through scripture and see how He spoke to women who didn’t have faith as opposed to men who didn’t have faith…

    The same goes for how He treated children too, though that is a bit off topic.

    Felicity Shepherd

  13. Hi Bill and everyone,
    I’m sorry but I don’t have time to spend hours quoting and gathering “evidence” as I am busy with three young children and a book I have to edit. As with religion, there are atheists who believe and act differently so quoting various atheists does not mean I am like them or believe everything they say.
    All groups have a range of people and behaviours. There are evil atheists, just as there are evil religious people who take advantage of or persecute the gullible.
    My point is that we do not need religion to be good people and to come up with our own moral code. We are intelligent enough to do that as a race, and then try to deal with those who don’t abide by it through laws and unwritten rules about how we treat each other – atheist or not. Hitler was evil regardless of his religious beliefs or lack thereof. Just as religious cult leaders whose misguided pronouncements lead to the death of gullible followers are evil.
    One other point, when I say all men and women are created I used “created” as a general term. Of course we were created one way or the other, whether it be by God, biology or whatever. I could argue all night about the flaws in Creationism but I don’t have a spare 10 hours :-). I am never going to win an argument with the readers of this blog, who are just as set in their ways as I am in mine! Let us agree to disagree. Thanks and bye for now,
    Cheryl Critchley

  14. Thanks Cheryl

    I too have three children who keep me quite busy and I too have a book which must be finished real soon. Indeed, my deadline is in five days – when is your deadline Cheryl?

    Yet I have managed to provide evidence for my arguments here while you have not. Indeed, it was you, not me, who decided to write an article for a major newspaper, knowing full well that your rather bigoted and disrespectful comments would insult and offend many tens of thousands of believers. Indeed, you seemed to have all the time in the world to do that, but now suddenly you do not have the time to actually establish your claims with the slightest amount of evidence.

    I did not write the article for the Herald Sun – you did. Although you appear to not be any more busy than I am, you can still blast religious people for being irrational, even though when it comes to an evidence-based rational argument, it is the religious folks who came up with the goods here, not the atheists.

    So I again leave it to my readers to decide just who is using, logic, rationality and evidence here, and who is simply throwing around reckless accusations without a shred of evidence to back them up. You certainly have not provided one iota of evidence or solid argumentation that “we do not need religion to be good people and to come up with our own moral code”.

    So perhaps when your book project is finished you can offer a cogent and coherent argument for your claims. And more importantly, maybe you can begin a proper, evidence-based search into the truth claims of biblical Christianity, instead of simply relying on past youthful experiences to summarily dismiss them.

    But please, no more cheap shots at the faith of millions of Australians!

    All the best,

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  15. It’s a great pity that people such as Cheryl Critchley don’t understand that today’s society is a result of 2,000 years of Christianity and the momentum that this has provided to give us what we now enjoy – our democracy. This momentum will slowly (perhaps rather quickly) erode as various pressures mount to satisfy the liberal/progressive voices within our western culture and in the wider world.
    Gerry Van Hees

  16. I would also like Cheryl to understand that when Bill speaks of the “faith” of atheists, he is not just using a rhetorical device. Atheism is dependent upon faith in certain presuppositions in the same way that all worldviews/religions depend on presuppositions. So let’s not hear any more of this nonsense from the atheists who like to portray “religious” people as “people of faith” whilst they claim to be “people of reason”. The reality is that we are all people of both faith and reason. The real question should be “whose faith is the most reasonable – the Christian’s or the atheist’s?”

    Ewan McDonald, Victoria.

  17. Apparently Cheryl doesn’t seem to realize that if she has the temerity to publish something in a major metropolitan newspaper, it is utterly reasonable to expect her to be able to back up her claims.

    It is tiresome to watch people constantly changing goalposts and then claim they are experts at playing the game. Perhaps the first thing Cheryl has to do is explain to all of us what level of criteria would actually be enough to convince her of anything and, more importantly, why that criteria would be valid. And then, actually stick to it.

    I don’t know what kind of God she expects people to believe in, because one that couldn’t work beyond the laws of science would be utterly worthless. (Or for that matter, work beyond the inconsistent ‘rules’ of Cheryl Critchley.)

    Mark Rabich

  18. Bill, actualy Fred Hollows studied for the Ministry of the Churches of Christ, and in his dying days was quoted in the newspaperas saying that one of the greatest pieces of literature ever written was the first 12 verses of the Gospel of St John.
    As for Cheryl Critchley, she at least has the courage to come over here and restate her opinions, which shows not only how democratic you are Bill but also Christian grace. One of the attendees at the atheist conference, Peter Singer once refused to debate a Christian because they came from L’abri Fellowship. Francis Schaeffer, who had founded l’Abri had labelled – in his last book THE GREAT EVANGELICAL DISASTER – Singer’s philosophy as being vicious. Singer obviously is not democratic or a philosopher in the tradition of Socrates. (My brother is apparently a friend of Singer’s – I thought he had better taste.)
    Wayne Pelling

  19. Oh dear God! So Ms Critchley is a lapsed Catholic. They’re the worst.
    Louise Le Mottee

  20. I am comfortable about who I am and what I believe, and all I am saying is that those who do believe in God should respect the views of those of us who don’t.

    That is garbage, Cheryl. Absolute garbage. I don’t expect you to respect my views, I expect you to respect me. There is a difference.

    I certainly wouldn’t respect the views of a paedophile, for example. But I wouldn’t kill him in cold blood either (which is about the only amount of respect I could give him).

    And why cannot you respect the views of those who are homophobic or misogynistic, if it comes to that? Cannot you see that your morality is a long list of double standards?

    Louise Le Mottee

  21. As a Catholic, I’d also like to know why I should care if your daughter’s thinking the male-only priesthood is fair?
    Louise Le Mottee

  22. This debate is intriguing. I read the article on Wednesday, commented on the Herald Sun website on Thursday, and read this on Saturday. I have cut out the article; it is sitting on my desk.

    I will say only this; morality is relative unless there is an ultimate truth to measure against.

    Lauren Dymke

  23. “atheist revival meeting”
    haha now there’s an oxymoron for you.

    Great article, Bill. It continually amazes me when atheists try and pull off such arguments. Part of me wonders how many of the readers actually buy that nonsense or if they recognize it for what it is.

    Nathan Schellinger

  24. Cheryl is protected by an editor who would not publish this post in a fit. She is firing his bullets, therfore he is my target not her.
    Stan Fishley

  25. Of course we don’t have to be religious in order to be moral people. Doesn’t the Bible say that what is evident about God’s existence both in the external, physical world but also within each and every conscience is plain to every man, woman and child? But who put this ability to recognise beauty, both physical and moral, in a world which according to atheists is ammoral, without purpose, design, intelligence, will or personality? How can blind chance produce a mechanism for responding to something that is not there in the first place, something greater than itself? How can nothing produce something?

    With regard to sexual acts, Cheryl claims that as long as the participants are consenting and that no one is being hurt, then who is to complain? Peter Tatchell would agree. He says: “Acknowledging these social changes is, however, no reason to lapse into anarchic moral relativism. Instead, we need a new moral framework for teaching sex education that can encompass diversity while also giving young people guidance on how they are most likely to find erotic and emotional happiness. This new moral framework involves three very simple principles: mutual respect, consent and fulfilment. In others words, when it comes to lust and love, treat others the way you would like them to treat you. Don’t have an egotistical, selfish, me-first attitude. Be thoughtful and caring towards the other person. Never coerce or pressure a partner into doing something they don’t want to do. Make sure both of you get physical and psychological enjoyment. That’s it! Simple, inclusive and moral – without being moralistic.”

    But against what standard and whose morality do the participants decide what is egotistical, selfish and me-first sex, or what is coercive and abusive? The words respect and equality are measured precisely against moral relativity. They are defined simply by how the autonomous sexual participants wish to define the terms. All that matters is that the participants are consenting to what is taking place – even if that involves sadomasochism, near death or actual death sexual practices. Sadomasochists and those giving and seeking the “gift,” or as they call it in the trade, ”bug chasers,” sole aim is to hurt and be hurt. The National Aids Trust has more or less said that giving someone the GIFT should not result in prosecution: NAT is still campaigning for an end to prosecutions for reckless transmission of HIV through consensual sex.

    David Skinner, UK

  26. Hi Cheryl, I was sitting at the lunch table at work when I read your article and was so surprised that an editor would bother to print such nonsense that I read it out to the assembled group. The group consisted of some Christians (various denominations), a hindu, a muslim, a couple of atheists and a few who wouldn’t say.

    Putting aside the views you espoused, we quickly pulled your arguments apart, picked up the double standards and commented that for a world according to your views to exist, someone would still need to determine the “rights” and “wrongs”. Would that be you Cheryl?

    Given your inability to write a logical article, I think that for now I’ll continue to refer to the 2,000 year old book. You see, the 2,000 year old book has withstood 20 centuries of people trying (unsuccessfully) to pull it apart. Your article lasted 2 minutes!

    Honestly speaking, I’d be embarrassed to even write an article of such standard let alone present it for publication. But I think it’s publication says more about the standard of editorship that it does about you.

    I hope you are having a nice weekend.

    Frank Norros

  27. What a silly comment by Cheryl – the old “Who made God?”

    Dawkins makes this ignorant statement/question time and time again. Yet all it takes is a simple course in Christianity 101 – By definition God is uncreated. He is the High and Lofty one who inhabits eternity. As someone once said – “A comprehended God is no God at all”

    It’s interesting how atheists like to target religion as the cause of evil etc, but if atheism/evolution was true than we’d have to blame evolution for religion existing!

    They like to rage with moral indignation at the ‘evil’ in the world’ but who are they appealing to? ….With one hand they angrily say ‘there is no god’, and with the other hand they get angry at God for the bad things in the world! There really isn’t such a thing as an atheist – the truth is they know in their heart that God is there but they deliberately suppress the truth as Romans 1 says.

    Jeremy Woods

  28. I’m wondering how Cheryl explains production of an “ought” (morality) from an “is” (mere existence). I have quite a number of atheist friends. I don’t doubt that Cheryl is highly moral; most of my friends are too. But the question that interests me is not “Can atheists be moral” but “What coherent explanation can atheists provide for why people should be moral”.

    Yes, atheists are moral. But should they be moral? If the majority of the people in the world decided to be amoral (most are already noticeably immoral after all), then what can the atheist reply to bring things back on to the straight and narrow.

    As I am not an atheist myself, I have tried to imagine what arguments they might mount, but can’t come up with anything convincing. I have asked my atheist friends to participate, by posing to them a number of difference “what if” scenarios, and checking their response. Thus far, the responses are rather unsatisfactory.

    Atheists proclaim on their bus posters “Celebrate Reason”. I am wondering what it is that they think they are celebrating. If indeed there is materialism at the core of their world view (and it seems that there is), then what they are celebrating is the rather inexplicable stirring of atoms and electrons in a small region of space that they rather comfortingly call “my brain”. Why should that be celebrated? Why is it any more important than anything going on in any other region of space? Who is this “I” that they think should be doing the celebrating? Just a bag of atoms in a particular region of space. Why is that collection of atoms any more important or valuable than any other?

    That’s what seems to happen when you apply reductionism to a materialist/atheist worldview. There is no reason. There is no “ought”. So atheists appear to have no justification for acting morally. Yes, they can act morally, but they have no particular reason for doing so; and if someone decided to act amorally, they have no justification that I can see for taking corrective action.

    So next time an atheist tells you “we are moral too”, agree, but drill down and try to get them to justify their morality. In my experience its nothing but smoke and mirrors.

    As for this so-called “lack of evidence” for God’s existence, Cheryl seems to be consumed by scientism. My suggestion: you need to get out more. The idea that scientific knowledge (i.e. knowledge derived by scientific method, whatever THAT is) is the only valid knowledge, is an extraordinarily narrow world view that is unfortunately very prevalent. Humean skepticism abounds today. But since Hume assumed (not demonstrated) in his argument for skepticism that we should use deductive methods to acquire/test knowledge, such skepticism rests on the idea that we should ignore knowledge acquired by inductive methods. The Australian philosopher David Stove (an atheist incidentally, as best I can gather) demonstrated this hidden assumption in Hume’s skepticism quite masterfully.

    There is a wealth of inductive evidence for God. Our world’s, or more correctly, Western society’s, obsession with deductive knowledge is like someone putting a blindfold over one eye (induction) and then complaining about not being able to see properly and then insisting that people who aren’t blindfolded similarly CANNOT POSSIBLY have better binocular vision than them.

    Nuts. The world is going completely nuts! What ARE they teaching them in schools these days?!

    Stephen Frost, Melbourne

  29. Let me make two points on Cheryl’s latest attempt to establish the old, old rationalist shibboleth of “morality without religion”.
    The Apostle Paul deals with this in Romans 2:1-16, and the C20th preacher Martyn Lloyd-Jones used to make quite a point of it in his undermining of “the modern moral man”. To the one who objects that “I have ideals, I have standards, I have aspirations” God is not interested in his ideals etc. Au contraire, “It is not hearers of the Law who are just before God, but the doers of the Law.” The issue is whether you have lived up to those ideals, and also the matter of conscience comes in: have these erstwhile moralisers violated the voice their God-given conscience by “re-programming it to suit their preconceptions? Clearly they have. they had the Law written on their hearts and in the conscience, but they have violated that voice in all sorts of ways. The re-writing of the Ten Commandments is very much a case in point, and no amount of special pleading is going to change the fact that they are creatures made in God’s image, with a God-consciousness written on them. That is indeed why they hold conferences on atheism, write inflammatory books and articles, and generally get belligent about the whole “God’ thing. It is all an exercise in suppressing the truth on their conscience (cf. Rom.1:18-19).

    2. Cheryl pleads for us to respect relationships between consenting adults, as long as this does not hurt others. If this is the case, why not reintroduce duelling; you know, two consenting adults having a shoot-out to settle a quarrel. Certainly in the days when this was accepted ‘gentlemanly’ behaviour it was not seen as hurting anyone else. Why not reintroduce it? Certainly nothing in Cheryl’s moral creed would there be anything to stop it.

    Murray Adamthwaite

  30. Hi Bill,

    Some well known non religious aid organizations

    Red Cross
    Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières
    OxFam (Has religious roots but is now secular and not for profit)

    to name just a few.

    Of course there are also many religious organizations that also do great things so I think it is a belief in humanity rather than some ideology that drive people to do great things. I think our actions speak louder about us than our words.

    Ben Green

  31. I can see a new Bus slogan campaign by the Atheists: “There’s probably no God, so get on with life, and Cheryl put that pen away, that is very worrying”.
    Wayne Pelling

  32. In response to Murray, I wish to add that both Isaiah and Paul say that all our deeds are but filthy rags.

    On the other hand Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury said that as long as gays image the love of Christ in their homosexual relationships then that is Christian love. What does he mean by “image the love of Christ?” He probably means being sacrificial, consensual, committed, respectful, mutual and all the rest of it.

    All those practising incest, adultery, polyamory, paedophilia and zoophilia can all claim to be imaging the love of Christ towards their partner(s), but they are all relationships and practices that are forbidden, no matter how much they protest.

    The Greek family of words porn or porneia used in the Bible refer to fornication, a word which encompassed a whole range of sexual sins, including sodomy. Jesus Christ used this porn root word seven times and the Greek root word, moich, denoting adultery, nineteen times. When added up we find he used twentysix prescriptions against sexual sins as compared with only thirteen connected with our dealings with the poor, ptochos.

    Maybe Rowan William’s mind needs to image that of Christ.

    David Skinner, UK

  33. Thanks Ben

    But you really need to keep you thinking cap on here! Just what exactly do you think the ‘Cross’ stands for in Red Cross??!! Come on Ben! This was a specifically Christian organisation when it was founded, as were most of the others. That is exactly my point. Whether they have since gone secular is neither here nor there. The point is, it was mainly dedicated, committed Christians who got most of them going in the first place.

    I repeat: I am not aware of any such aid group set up specifically by committed ideological atheists. Those whose lives have been transformed by the love of God are quite happy to serve mankind. But why should militant atheists? They are simply here by accident, with no moral reference point, headed to a meaningless dead end. So why bother? After all, the survival of the fittest is the order of the day, not self-sacrifice and altruism.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  34. What an interesting post. When I read it initially, I thought, I wish Cheryl Critchley could read Bill’s response. And then presto – this morning I notice she had written in to this very debate.

    She has however disappointed me. She has failed to argue any of the objections well written by Bill, to advance her inital arguments. Instead she uses the excuse of being busy at home trying to run a family.

    This is no excuse. If you want to make money Cheryl, by spinning your “ex-Catholic hangups” in a national newspaper, you need to defend your comments, in an intelligent manner.

    You sound no more intelligent than a senior student in high school in this country who asks the most basic of questions regarding religious matters. You provide no evidence of deep understanding of religious philosophies, worldviews etc. In fact, your piece could’ve been written by one of these students.

    In fact you sound like the product of a Catholic school system, departing with no knowledge of the Catholic religion, but just that burning ‘hatred’ for Catholicism. Stick to raising your children.

    Jane Petridge

  35. Hi Bill,

    The Red Cross Symbol:

    “The Red Cross on white background was the original protection symbol declared at the 1864 Geneva Convention. It is, in terms of its color, a reversal of the Swiss national flag,[1] a meaning which was adopted to honor Swiss founder Henry Dunant and his home country. The ideas to introduce a uniform and neutral protection symbol as well as its specific design originally came from Dr. Louis Appia and General Henri Dufour, founding members of the International Committee. The Red Cross is defined as a protection symbol in Article 7 of the 1864 Geneva Convention, Chapter VII (“The distinctive emblem”) and Article 38 of the 1949 Geneva Convention (“For the Amelioration of the Condition of the Wounded and Sick in Armed Forces in the Field”). There is an unofficial agreement within the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement that the shape of the cross should be a cross composed of five squares. However, regardless of the shape, any Red Cross on white background should be valid and must be recognized as a protection symbol in conflict. Of the 186 national societies which are currently recognized by the ICRC, 152 are using the Red Cross as their official organization emblem. In addition, the Red Cross is currently used by the national society of Tuvalu which has applied for official recognition.”

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

    Hmm, to be honest I did not know all of that. Interesting nevertheless.

    Ben Green

  36. Thanks Ben

    But with all due respect you keep digging yourself further in a hole! You will have to rely on something far more substantial than Wikipedia to try to rescue yourself. Yes the Red Cross was founded by Henri Dunant, but who was he Ben? A Swiss Calvinist! As I say, it was a committed Christian who set it up. Certainly not a committed atheist.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  37. Although you may entertain the thought that there is no scientific evidence that God exists, then there is no scientific evidence that He doesn’t exist.
    So atheists are very unscientific in believing something they have no evidence for. Tell me, what is your scientific proof that there is no God?
    You do science and we do science because God created science. We are only testing and exploring small parts of His very big original artistic expanse. Everything we create and test is a copy of His original.

    Rebecca Field

  38. You know, Bill, as an American you really should have said, “Atheists say the darndest things.”
    Louise Le Mottee

  39. Thanks Louise

    Actually I did have in mind an old American TV program when I came up with my title: Art Linkletter’s Kids Say the Darndest Things.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  40. Bill, you are unbelievably moronic and vile in your treatment of someone who disagrees.
    Adam Worsley

  41. We’ve just built a unit. The walls are “true” according to the spirit-level used by the builder. That’s one “truth”.
    I’ve set my watch according to the “pips” on 774 ABC radio. They set their “pips” according to the “truth” at Greenwich near London, UK. That’s another “truth”.
    My son tunes his guitar to the “truth” of the “A” he hears on his tuning fork or on his electronic tuner. That’s yet another “truth”.
    My grandchildren learn that 2+2 always = 4. Not a smidgen more or less. Another “truth”
    If I put “truth” into my computer, it prints out “truth”.
    Try some real TRUTH Cheryl! Truth is a Person.
    Robert Colman

  42. Hi Ben,
    You didn’t dig deep enough! Looking at the origins of the Swiss national flag, which was used in reverse to derive the Red Cross flag, you find:

    … the characteristic white cross and the red background of Switzerland’s flag have their origin in late middle ages. Until 1648, Switzerland was still part of the German Empire. The member states of the Old Swiss Confederacy did not try to build a nation, they just wanted to get rid of the counts of Habsburg that had tried to strengthen their influence. In the 13th century, the German emperor carried with him a flag with the cross as a holy sign, understanding himself as a protector of christianity.

    (ref: http://history-switzerland.geschichte-schweiz.ch/history-flag-switzerland.html)

    It seems there’s always something new to learn!

    Stephen Frost, Melbourne

  43. Well Bill, That’s one of the best essays you have ever written. I have only one complaint, you have covered just about everything and left me without anything else to say. This would no doubt surprise some of my family, who probably think that I sometimes have far too much to say anyway.
    Frank Bellet, Petrie Qld

  44. Entertaining post this one.
    1. Cheryl really has had a good working over! (that’ll teach her to wrestle with Christians, who know their onions! … well, maybe it won’t).
    2. And Oh Ben, that Red Cross really was a clanger!
    3. All we can hope for now, is for the Editor to show up, and justify his employing of Cheryl for such riveting pieces. Perhaps she is there like the beast, in ‘beauty and the beast’ just to enrage and enlarge the audience.
    4. O for the day, when the standard of public discourse bottoms out, and we begin to grow a little again.
    5. Perhaps the Atheist conference with be the marker of the low point in the graph!
    6. Three cheers for Bill. Nicely put (though you did give her a pretty solid going over!!)
    7. Who needs a TV drama? This post, was both informative and entertaining.
    Trevor Faggotter

  45. And no doubt Cheryl would be so upset if anyone tried to “force religion down her throat.”
    Try this for size, Cheryl: one day every knee is going to bow, and every tongue is going to confess, that Jesus Christ is Lord. If someone does indeed try to “force religion down your throat” (and we should all be more sensitive than this), be thankfull, Cheryl – at least you will have been given a chance to “flee the wrath to come” as Jesus put it.
    Ian Brearley

  46. Hi Stephen,

    Dig even deeper and we find that the flag of that era you mention was used as a war flag. It is an interesting read but the link you provided is too brief. The link below gives a more detailed chronology and explanation of the evolution of the current day flag.

    The colour inversion of the swiss flag to create the red cross flag was done to honor the founding member Henry Dunant. Are you inferring that this has something to do with Christianity?

    http://switzerlandisyours.com/e/guide/general/swiss.flag.history.html

    Ben Green

  47. Thanks Ben

    I am not sure what your latest comment adds to the argument. The point still stands: The Red Cross was founded by a Christian, not an atheist.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  48. Dear Cheryl, “why is that religious people can make physically imossible claims like walking on water and a virgin birth while those of us who look at things rationally are wrong?”
    I would like to say that these “claims” are only physically impossible to those who are limited in their mind.

    Those like you who like to think you look at things rationally are not wrong simply at a level where you refuse to see the world other than by your mind, your logic as you call it, and nothing else could possibly exists and that in itself is your limitation yet you wish to convince us all that you are more liberated than us who do believe in a higher power, who do believe in God. That in itself is your veil and your trap, not your liberation.

    Siti Khatijah

  49. Thanks Siti

    Yes, the possibility of the miraculous is only irrational if you have ruled miracles out ahead of time. Philosophical naturalism is a faith-based presupposition. If you declare as a matter of faith that nature is all there is, then yes, on those terms, the miraculous would be impossible. But that is simply to prejudge the question. If the supernatural does in fact exist, then the miraculous become quite probable.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  50. Cheryl, you write:
    “Not one has come up with an ounce of evidence that there is a God or that Jesus ever walked this earth in the way the bible describes.”

    Within 30 years of the crucifixion, when there would have been plenty of witnesses still alive, there were so many Christians in Rome that Nero blamed them for burning Rome. The Christians would rather be killed than deny that Jesus is God’s son as proved by His rising from the dead. Even the non-Christian journalists and commentators of the 1st century AD, acknowledged those basic claims.

    Atheists don’t come up with an ounce of believable evidence to support the three main legs necessary to support any belief system: 1. Origin of Cosmos: The universe sprang into existence from nothing, for no reason, via no known mechanism?; 2. Origin of Life: Zero information content dead matter, contrary to all experimental science, then became alive?; 3. Origin of sentient morally aware humans: Simple pond-scum (wherever it came from) eventually evolved into people via mutation and natural selection?

    Re item 2: Dawkins is on record as unable to give an example of how the information of the genome increases: (see http://www.tccsa.tc/articles/dawkins_pause.html or watch it on Youtube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zaKryi3605g).
    As for Natural Selection, a mechanism first described by a creationist, it simply eliminates information – devolution not evolution.

    No wonder Dawkins regularly refuses to debate knowledgeable creationists but sets up biased debates with soft targets or interviews with fellow believers where he controls the agenda. For examples of Dawkins’ tactics, see Sarfati “The Greatest Hoax on Earth? Refuting Dawkins on Evolution”.

    Peter Newland

  51. Hi Bill

    Boy you really started something with this one. Let me add a little story to the mix.

    A few years ago a friend of mine was talking to an Indonesian man who wanted to learn to read English (he did speak a little English). She had a small Christian pamphlet that was aimed at Aussies. She read the opening line “a lot of people believe there is no God”. “Thats not true” said her indonesian friend, “everyone knows there is a God”.

    Our society is a victim of a philosiphy that claims that there is nothing that exists beyond what we can experience with our 5 senses and yet there are bilions of people around the world who will testify from personal experience that there is indeed a spiritual realm. Unfortunately many of those people have experienced the dark side of that realm but they have no doubt as to its existence.

    Personally, I think the athiests are fighting a losing battle. It is as if they are trying to tell the world that there is no such thing as pain when nearly every one on the planet knows better.

    Kevin Clark

  52. Thanks so much Bill and everyone else who have contributed to this blog. A greatly interesting and entertaining read. A big thanks also to Cheryl for adding her little bit.

    It only goes to prove that she was quite out of her depth here, which is all too often the case with the secular humanist writers.

    What is really sad though, is the way that their blind bias is favoured by editors and the like, and apart from blogs and sites such as this, largely goes unchallenged.

    I greatly appreciate your work Bill, and for the volume of those who post here with excellent and articulate content. May God continue to bless you, your work (especially the new book), and this site.

    Shalom,
    George Kokonis

  53. I still can’t get over atheists continuing to name themselves in terms of theism. I suggest they use “nothingists”. And that we as Christians refer to them as such. In love of course.
    Greg Brien

  54. Hi Bill, Another excellent article and one I will certainly print out. However, you end with a slightly unusual sentence: “I find it quite hard to see how atheism can win many converts based on this sort of secular silliness.” The reason atheism can win converts is very simple and hinted at by Kevin Clarke who mentions the darker side of the supernatural. Basically “The god of this world (satan [omission of capital deliberate]) has blinded the eyes of the unbelievers”. We need to keep praying in love for these folk. I was once driving down South Street in Perth, quite upset by David Attenborough’s atheism AND by the hate mail he has received from so called Christians and was asking God to bring him to know Jesus because I love that naturalist – he has been one of the people whose programmes and adventures I have long enjoyed. I felt that God said how much He loves David Attenborough and that we should be very careful to go on loving and praying for the ‘sinners’ while hating ONLY the sin.
    Katharine Hornsby

  55. Bill – well done in reponding to more of the same ordure by the semi-literates. The Dawkins era of producing tertiary pagan moron graduates in ‘communication studies’ continues to bear fruit. Can we have a reporting system whereby we are advised of such nonsensical articles early – so informed people can reply before the unhinged take hold? I wish.
    D. M. Ryan

  56. Bill,
    Well done good and faithful servant. Your reward will be great.
    We are all called to use our God given talents to the best of our ability. You do that with much charity and love.

    Madge Fahy

  57. I would just like to add my two cents, I will admit i have read the entire article and about half of the comments, but I am at work and had to skip a few lines otherwise my boss will kill me 🙂
    First and foremost, I will put it out there and proudly state that I am an atheist. I’ll just give you a bit of a story of how I arrived at this conclusion.

    I was brought up in a “If you want to go to Church, go to Church, if not, then don’t” family. One of my best friends was Christian as she was brought up in a Christian family, and my other best friend was the same as myself, which is ‘Open’ to anything. We were about 7 years old at the time.

    We went to Church, we did our thing, and in the end, this is where I landed. I am now 24. My childhood best friend that was a Christian still is (and lives in rural NSW), and has children of her own, who also go to Church. My other best friend who I am still great mates with to this day, is about to have a baby and is agnostic in it’s purist form. He just doesn’t know.

    Now I will stop ranting and raving about my childhood and let you know that as an Atheist, I find the entire religious argument and story intriguing. I love it. I don’t believe it, but I love it.
    Now I am not going to make a rebuttal to anyone in particular, as I first was, but I don’t have the time and I want to make some points.

    Morals. For me, morality came from 3 sources. The first one was my parents. They taught me compassion. The second came from friends, who as I mentioned before have been life long. Friends taught me that when you say the wrong thing, you hurt their feelings. Or if you play too rough, they bleed. The third, being myself. You can see with your own two eyes if something is wrong. My moral compass did not come from any higher being; they came from peers and learning.

    You can be an Atheist and have morals. Now if you’re brought up in a home where it’s OK to go out and stick some fireworks into a cat, or it’s OK to break into someone’s house because they have money and you don’t – then of course you will not have any morals.

    I have made my own decisions, and my conclusion is that life is 50/50. Some people get it, some people don’t. For every Hitler out there, there’s a Fred Hollows. For every murderer, there’s somebody helping the homeless. For every good person, there’s someone ready to take his place as a bad person. It happens all the time. Paedophiles live a long life, and good healthy people die young.

    I will not make any derogatory points here as I am not in the mood for a debate, merely to lay my thoughts on the table and show some reasoning. Some Christians refuse to believe that Atheists can be moral, and some Atheists refuse to believe that Christians can be rational (again, 50/50). We can argue until we’re blue in the face about what’s out there, who created us and why we’re here, the fact is that no one right now can prove either way. Blind faith does not count, nor does any argument that one could argue for Atheism. In the end we all have beliefs, one way or another, and that’s that.

    One of my major concerns is that for all of the religions that are out there (or non-religious), one of them is right. So for the billion or so practicing Hindu’s, as far as any other religion is concerned, they will all burn in hell. From the Hindu’s perspective, all the Christians will burn in hell – or their idea of hell anyway. From an Atheists perspective, when I die, I will just fade into oblivion, remembered by my friends and family for the things I have done, and I am totally happy with that. I am happy with that because I got the chance to live a full life, where billions, if not hundreds of billions never got that chance due to mis-carriages, the holocaust, murder etc.

    The one fact that still gets me to this day though, is Hell. I refuse to believe in a God that would send me to hell for not believing in him/her/them/it. In fact, basically every religion mentions “You must believe in or the literally hundreds, if not thousands of other gods out there, or you will be sent to hell. But if you do believe in XXXXX God than you will be given an eternity of bliss. What if, hypothetically, I was born on an island, in the middle of BF nowhere. I live a life that has been shaped by my surroundings, I know nothing of religion or science because of my situation. Do I deserve to go to Hell?

    As an Atheist, I have lived a moral life, I work 42 hours a week, I support myself, I donate to charity, I help out with volunteer work, I have never murdered, stolen or slept with neighbours wife. I live a good life and all without regret. The last thing I want to mention here, is that there are a lot of people who have commented on this article, and have just as much.. I guess, anger, as what they say the Atheists do. Not all Atheists are perfect, not all Christians are perfect. No one is perfect. The blatant sarcasm I have read on this page is tremendous, and as I read it I had to cringe. (Keep in mind this is aimed at everyone) Quotes such as “Indeed, my deadline is in five days – when is your deadline Cheryl?” and “…someone would still need to determine the “rights” and “wrongs”. Would that be you Cheryl?”. Come on, we’re old enough not to press each others buttons.

    I could have easily written two pages with rebuttals and claims, but I decided not to. I decided insight is a much better thing. Whether you find that, is another thing.
    Anyway that’s my two cents and now I’m broke 😛

    Thanks for your time.
    Heath Dunn

  58. Thanks Heath

    Hey, I hope you don’t lose your job because of all this! A few general replies if I may.

    You do not seem to have read carefully what has been said here. I mentioned several times that yes, all people can be moral, or be concerned about morality. Even atheists. So that is not the issue. The issue is this: if atheism is true, why should anyone be concerned about morality? Where and how in a naturalistic world do such things as morality emerge?

    Morality is about our personal moral obligations. But to whom do we owe such obligations? If the entire world is nothing but matter (as atheists believe), then it is hard to see how moral obligations can exist. Morality is something only persons deal with, not animals or plants or minerals. But in a purely naturalistic world, talk of morality makes little or no sense at all.

    I know why you have moral concerns. My worldview clearly allows for it. You are made in the image of a personal, moral God, and you live in a moral universe, where objective morality exists, because there is a moral law giver. So I can explain your moral notions and concerns, but it seems your worldview cannot – at least not logically and consistently.

    I have already provided a number of quotes to Cheryl on this issue of morality by fellow atheists. Refer to those comments please. These atheists say morality is very problematic in an atheist worldview.

    You say you get your morality from three sources. One, your parents. But where did they get it from? Two, your friends. But where did they get it from? Three, “being myself . You can see with your own two eyes if something is wrong.”

    But can you? All the time? Consistently? Hitler and the Nazis thought what they were doing was right. Do you agree with them? If not, why not? If simply seeing with your own eyes is the last word on morality, then why do so many people strongly disagree over moral issues? Are not all sides simply seeing with their eyes?

    What if the way I see morality leads me to want to torture everyone whose name is Heath and is an atheist. Does that make it right because that’s the way I see it?

    And why does the fact that different religions exist drive you to atheism? Do you refuse to buy a car because there are so many different models to choose from? You compare and contrast, do some investigation, and decide which is the best car to buy. One can do that with competing truth claims, although the stakes are obviously higher than in just buying a car.

    And who said God sends anyone to hell? A person who says to God all his life, “I don’t want anything to do with you” will simply get his way in eternity as well. God is too much of a gentleman to force anyone to love him. So those who end up in hell are those people who want to be there. As C.S. Lewis once said, “better to rule in hell than to serve in heaven.” So don’t blame God for the choices people make as they reject Him.

    The bottom line is this: truth is important, and if God exists, along with an afterlife, we should really want to get it right. Life is too short, and some things are too important to just let them slip by. I don’t know if your mind is made up, or if you are still searching. I hope it is the latter.

    I too was once like you – an atheist who thought I had all the answers. But I did in the end keep searching, knowing that I could be wrong. I, like millions of other people, are so glad they were serious about the search, and kept going on with it. I will pray for you in that regard as well.

    Thanks for writing – now get back to work!

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  59. Hey Bill

    I will start this by saying thank you for your fairly rational response and now I will try and provide my own rational response. It is good to be able to have this discussion. I now classify this as my lunch break 🙂

    This will pretty much be a paragraph rebuttal as best as I can in the situation I’m in. (I manage a team and thus have to be on the ball as much as possible).
    ————–
    “You do not seem to have read carefully what has been said here. I mentioned several times that yes, all people can be moral, or be concerned about morality. Even atheists. So that is not the issue. The issue is this: if atheism is true, why should anyone be concerned about morality? Where and how in a naturalistic world do such things as morality emerge?”

    I’m not sure if the question you pose really hits the nail. “If Atheism is true” – for one, I’m not arguing that Atheism is true, I’m looking to find the thing that makes most sense to me. A creator does not make sense to me. So with that, why should anyone be concerned about morality? Well, for one, I believe as humans, we have evolved into where we are today. We have evolved (if you don’t like that word, how about, we have ‘learnt’) throughout the many years that humans have been on this planet, that wars, torture, murder, rape and other haunting things, make us scared and sad. In a naturalistic world, when people are murdered, the people nearest and dear to us, we are sad. This is a negative thing. I would not go and steal from your house, because I know it is wrong. Why do I know it’s wrong? Because if someone stole from my house I’d be upset. That does not mean that the only reason I do not steal is because I fear retribution, I don’t steal because that’s not how a functioning society works. I hope this outlines your second paragraph as well.

    ————–

    “I know why you have moral concerns. My worldview clearly allows for it. You are made in the image of a personal, moral God, and you live in a moral universe, where objective morality exists, because there is a moral law giver. So I can explain your moral notions and concerns, but it seems your worldview cannot – at least not logically and consistently.”

    Refer to my above paragraph. The only person(s) I believe I was made in the image of is my mother and father. I know this because I understand how sex works. As much as I don’t want to think of my parents having sex, it’s how it happened. Sperm fertilises an egg, the baby grows with the DNA of both parents. It’s as simple as that. I’m sure I don’t need need to explain that because as you yourself mentioned, you have children, and you obviously understand the steps you took to make those children. I’m not going to go into any more detail on that because I’m sure my last two paragraphs sorted it out

    —————-

    “You say you get your morality from three sources. One, your parents. But where did they get it from? Two, your friends. But where did they get it from? Three, “being myself . You can see with your own two eyes if something is wrong.””

    Woah, slow down turbo. I think you missed my point. I understand morality as I said, through 3 sources. My parents being one. Where did they get it from? Well of course they got it from their parents, and their parents, and so forth and so on. My friends? Same story.
    I have seen it time and time again. A kid brought up in a good home, with good values, such as myself, turns out to be a good person. A kid brought up in a home where they are abused, are encouraged to act outrageously, and are not nurtured, tend to end up in an immoral situation. Simple as that.

    —————-

    “But can you? All the time? Consistently? Hitler and the Nazis thought what they were doing was right. Do you agree with them? If not, why not? If simply seeing with your own eyes is the last word on morality, then why do so many people strongly disagree over moral issues? Are not all sides simply seeing with their eyes?”

    The difference between myself and Hitler, is that I do not live in a brainwashed society, that fears retribution if they do not do what they are told. I live in a society that is democratic and has protection from such evils. If we don’t like what we are presented by our politicians, we vote them out. If we don’t like what’s happening in our neighbourhoods, we protest. I would also like to mention that you just brought up Godwin’s Law which states that in any argument, eventually someone will bring up Hitler. Just thought I’d share that 🙂

    The point is, people disagree over moral issues all the time. That’s because we aren’t all brought up the same. As I mentioned in my previous post, people are brought up totally different and thus will always have differing opinions on morals, politics and religion. 50/50.

    —————-

    “What if the way I see morality leads me to want to torture everyone whose name is Heath and is an atheist. Does that make it right because that’s the way I see it?”

    Hitler thought so. However it was Jews, and not Heath! Doesn’t make it right. Hitler might have thought he was doing the right thing, and in his society, at that time, he was steadfast in his ways. We don’t live in a society like that anymore. Look at Saddam Hussein. He thought he could do the same thing, too bad he found the end of a rope because of it.

    —————-

    “And why does the fact that different religions exist drive you to atheism? Do you refuse to buy a car because there are so many different models to choose from? You compare and contrast, do some investigation, and decide which is the best car to buy. One can do that with competing truth claims, although the stakes are obviously higher than in just buying a car.”

    Definitely not. When I went to church at an early age, I didn’t know about any other religion. I didn’t even know anything about it, I didn’t care, because I was a child, having fun and enjoying what I knew about life. I had 2 best friends living in my same street, as if I cared about the rest of the world. That’s what teenage years are for, learning and developing. I agree with your car analogy, you do compare and contrast benefits of each model, and make your decision. The thing is, I have seen no reason to believe in god. Not one. That’s just me, no arguing can change that. The only thing that will change my mind is physical, undoubtable proof. And it better not be a bible.

    —————-

    “The bottom line is this: truth is important, and if God exists, along with an afterlife, we should really want to get it right. Life is too short, and some things are too important to just let them slip by. I don’t know if your mind is made up, or if you are still searching. I hope it is the latter.”

    I can use your paragraph for my point. Life is short, as an Atheist, as I stated before, I have no doubt that when I die, it will be just the same as before I was born. It will be dark, I won’t even know it, and it will be like sleep with dreams. I started thinking about this when I was 13, and I was really, really scared. I was scared of living eternity in darkness. Over 11 years, I have come to accept that this life IS short, and we should enjoy what we have, who we have, and what we do every single day of our lives. This is where morality pops up once again. I am moral because I was taught morality by my peers. Dying doesn’t scare me now; it makes me appreciate what I have right now, and how lucky I am to be here. Again, billions (OK maybe hundreds of millions) of people over time have died through war, poverty, murder, miscarriages, slave labour etc, and here I am, out of all the sperms that could have made it to fruition, it was me, it was you, it was everyone you know and care about. 50/50. Some live, some die.

    By the by, I have made up my mind, I know where I stand, thank you.

    —————-

    “I too was once like you – an atheist who thought I had all the answers. But I did in the end keep searching, knowing that I could be wrong. I, like millions of other people, are so glad they were serious about the search, and kept going on with it. I will pray for you in that regard as well.”

    You know what, good on you. I’m glad you have found what you were searching for, and if it makes you happy, more power to you. I know what makes me happy. What makes me happy is the freedom that I live in, the freedom to choose what I want, the ability to come home to a girlfriend who loves me, and whom I love, to a house that I pay for through hard work, to food I eat, provided by a society driven through needs. I need food, farmers need money. Easy swap. As for your praying, well, again, more power to you. I once read a quote; I can’t remember where, or by whom, that said “The hard work of one does more than the prayers of millions.” You may not agree with that, I dare say you will not agree with that, but I believe it is true. That’s all.

    Alright, that’s enough from me for now. I want to say thank you once again for sharing this intelligent debate with me, and I hope you reply once again, as I’m sure you will. I hope you also realise that this is all that this will be – an intelligent debate, because neither you nor myself shall be swayed. I just wish to bring some points to the table that currently is one sided towards your side. I don’t believe that Cheryl Critchley performed the best of articles; however I do want to remind you that everyone has their own opinions. Different strokes for different folks, if you will.

    Thanks for your time. Have a good afternoon.
    Heath Dunn

  60. Heath, people argue not just about the possibility of a loving God sending anyone to hell, but the possibility of hell existing in the first place. Is there such a place? Well if hell does not exist history sure continues, right up to the present day, to put on some pretty impressive impressions of it. And if the impressions of it can exist, like Plato’s shadows playing on the wall of cave, how are we to know that there is not in fact a reality behind these shadows, far worse than anything we can imagine.

    There is a spectrum on this earth from places like Belsen, Auschwitz, North Korea, and Haiti through to places like Australia and Surfers Paradise. By and large we could say that those living in each of these locations did not choose to live there. It is just the way things happened. But I think you would agree that it is far more likely that those living at Surfers Paradise would have chosen to live there, and that those living in Belsen did not make the choice. Doesn’t it seem strange to you that we can only exercise choice when we want to move out of a bad place into a good one, but that as we move further and further into a bad place we have less and less choice about it. Who put this freedom to choose within us? Where did it come from? But hey just because we cannot answer these questions does this mean that we must cease to make a choice and allow ourselves instead to possibly end up where we don’t want to be.

    When you catch a plane, just because you may not know or understand everything there is to know about the running of airports, of air traffic control, of aircraft engineering, of the science of aerodynamics, of flying a plane, of navigation, or meteorology etc., does this mean that you won’t make a choice and simply allow yourself to end up possibly where you didn’t intend to be? No, you exercise faith that the indications, the directions, the signs and symbols telling you to go this way, rather than that, are trustworthy and true. You might even get a friendly fellow passenger who comes alongside to point out that you do have to make a choice, because not all routes go to the same place, not all paths lead to freedom or Heaven for that matter. But if you make a wrong choice you may find that your options become less and less, until eventually you no longer have any choice but are in fact driven and dragged along at a terrifying rate against your will to a place where you didn‘t intend to be. If you find that you are driven in this life, that you find yourself doing things that you would prefer not to do, this is a sure indication that you’re heading in the wrong direction. Why not trust, as millions, billions of others have done, from savages in the jungle, from half wits and children, to astronauts and nuclear physicists, to follow the signs to the straight and narrow path that leads to eternal life, that is Jesus Christ himself. Understanding only comes after believing and trusting, not the other way around. Jesus said to the doubting Thomas, “Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed; blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.” But you have to make a choice, whilst you may.

    David Skinner, UK

  61. Thanks Heath

    But we are violating my short comment rule big time here!

    As to “we evolved this way” you unfortunately do not resolve anything. Evolution is about the survival of the fittest, about the stronger having advantages over the weaker. There is nothing moral about that. Indeed, the Nazis picked up on this and took it to its logical conclusion.

    So what if you are sad or upset about certain activities? Other people may be glad and elated about such things. The Germans last century were quite glad to see countries annexed and peopled obliterated. What does mere emotion have to do with any of this?

    No, it not just that simple as you say. Of course you picked up your morality, in part, from family and friends. But where did the first parents get it from? You just push the question back further and further. You are not out of the hole yet.

    Sorry, but your defence of yourself vs Hitler fares no better. The most civilised, advanced, well educated nation on earth in the 1930s was Germany. They went wrong big time and embraced the Nazis. Why do you assume you and your society will not?

    Why doesn’t the support for what Hitler did make it right? They thought it was right. On what basis do you say it was wrong? Unless you can appeal to some universal, transcendent and objective standard of morality that all nations and all people are subject to, then we are simply left with might makes right. If there are no moral absolutes which we all obliged to observe, then Hitler and the Nazis were right to do what they did, and you have no basis whatsoever to condemn them.

    And what in the world do you mean by “physical, undoubtable proof”? Do you believe that such things as love, truth, justice, beauty and happiness exist Heath? If so, please provide me with physical, undoubtable proof for their existence.

    And why do you rule the Bible out ahead of time? That is called prejudice. It has nothing to do with being open-minded or willing to follow the evidence wherever it may lead.

    But the scariest thing you have said is “I have made up my mind”. Have you indeed? How incredible. With all due respect, a 24-year-old telling us he has enough knowledge and understanding of all reality that he has made up his mind. What a frightening and arrogant place to be. Socrates was put to death for telling people that the “unexamined life is not worth living”. Millions of people throughout history have given everything to pursue truth and discover ultimate reality, yet after a measly two decades you have given it all up, declaring the case is closed. Wow, what a sad place to be in.

    But your last paragraph is equally worrying. What does happiness have to do with anything? This is about truth and reality, not whether you feel happy or not. Sorry, but if life is merely about being happy, then we should all just get stoned and live as complete hedonists (something which I did by the way in my younger days). But life is far more than mere happiness. It is about discovering what is true, what is right, what is important.

    Indeed, I must ask why you have even bothered to come here in the first place. If you were on a search for truth and seeking answers to the big question of life, I would happily spend all the time necessary with you. But if you just like to have little debates, and get your jollies out of having your intellectual palette tickled, then sorry, I am not at all interested.

    We are dealing with life and death issues here. The issues that philosophers, scientists, theologians and billions of people have desperately sought for. But if you see this as just a little mind game, then I will have to move on to more serious commentators here.

    And Hitler would have loved your “different strokes” line. But in a real world where truth matters, and right and wrong are important issue, we need far more substance than that.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  62. Heath, just read your first post but have the same problem as you with the boss, so I will read the others later and would also like to recommend, what I believe, some of the best teaching on the issues you mentioned as, from what I’ve seen you might have some misunderstandings about some of these things. Things really became a lot clearer to me after I read it. Will get back to you on that though and trust you will have a look at it as you seem like someone willing to take the effort in the search for truth.

    One thing that bothers me though about what you said was that you’re not willing to believe in a God who does A,B and C – a common atheist argument. Does that mean that a God is very probable to you but not one with such and such a character? Or does it mean that if God does not turn out to be who you thought He should be you will ignore evidence of His existence and decide not to believe He is out there or even among us? Maybe you already discussed it in the posts I have not read yet but as I said I’ll check it out tonight after work.

    Talk later.

    Servaas Hofmeyr, South Africa

  63. Just thought I share with Heath a new idea that I coined called ‘Rabich’s Law’. It is defined this way:

    Rabich’s Law – there is an inverse relationship between the willingness to discuss an issue and the non-justifiable citing of Godwin’s Law.

    Given that both of my German parents grew up during WWII, (Dad was 18, mum 16 at the end of the war) I’m pretty sure that the rules of the International Internet Committee Administrating Protocol, Talk And Information Notices* state that because I clearly exceed the minimum “I have a friend who… XYZ” criteria, I’m allowed to invent this.

    (* – may or may not be an actual organization)

    On a more serious note, regarding Christianity being above the alternatives, there are many possible responses, but here’s 2 things that come to mind for me.

    Christianity is unique in its view of human nature. We cannot save ourselves in any way whatsoever. We are fundamentally fallen creatures, having knowledge of good, but incapable of achieving perfection. All other belief systems give the possibility of ‘salvation credits’ – so to speak – for our own efforts in some way. But Christianity says that Jesus dying on the cross is what has saved us, and we did not deserve it in any way. You cannot buy your way into heaven (although you may affect what you get when you arrive)

    This idea – that humanity is imperfect and, indeed, in need of saving – resonates strongly with the world we see around us.

    On this simple criteria, Christianity is so far in front of the others I often wonder why people try to lump what Jesus did with Buddha or Mohammed or any of the rest. It is very different in its basic assumption of human nature and what is required to avoid hell. It paints a far more realistic picture of human nature than any other philosophy.

    The other thing that simply amazes me is that the humble beginnings of the Christian Church. It should’ve been more than enough to finish it off in the very first days when Jesus was arrested and crucified. His closest friends – a small rabble of followers for a few short years – ran away. If it ended there we should not even be regarding it as anything more than a minor footnote to history – yet it is almost the total opposite. Heath, if Jesus didn’t rise again, why do we have Chrisitianity today, including the external historical reports that Christians were willing to die for their faith?

    You don’t die for a lie that you know is a lie, especially if you already have a history of cowardice. Something happened, and that something is monumentally more impressive than any other story going. The only thing that ties up all the loose ends is the proposition that Jesus rose from the dead and had been witnessed being alive again.

    That’s why Jesus is head and shoulders above the rest. Christianity agrees with our helpless human nature and offers a perfect solution that makes sense of history – and morality and reason. Jesus defeated death and freely offers eternal life to us, regardless of status, gender, merit, skin colour, country of origin, intelligence or any other criteria. There’s no comparison. Dawkins, Myers, Critchley and the rest have nothing to offer except smoke and mirrors about rationalism, but challenge them, and like three blind mice, see how they run!

    I’d continue searching, Heath, I’m 42 now and I’m still learning a great deal.

    Mark Rabich

  64. Heath
    So you’re OK and thats great but what about everyone else?
    Have you got anything to offer them? Perhaps a bed in your house for a homeless person?
    And by the way, I dare say your parents have been praying for you for many years which is pricisely why you’re OK. We are given free will and you’re quite happy where you are for the time being. I’m praying for you Heath.
    Daniel Kempton

  65. On the origin of morality:

    * Morality exists

    * Therefore, which explanation (atheism or theism, to pick the candidates currently under consideration) better explains the existence of morality?

    * Theism explains it on the basis that God has set standards.

    * Atheism has no basis for why morality exists.

    * Therefore, morality is evidence of God.

    However, the following is atheist thinking which I’ve encountered before, and which Heath seems to be using:

    * God doesn’t exist

    * Morality exists (I have it, for example)

    * Therefore morality can exist without God.

    Philip J. Rayment

  66. Bill,

    Your claim that objective morality can only have come from a god, and more particularly that it originates from the Bible, doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. The Golden Rule (or Ethic of Reciprocity) exists in every religious belief system, in non-theistic ethical systems such as humanism, in the traditional customs of pagan cultures, and even amongst other species. It’s origin can be traced to humanity’s earliest writings.

    The main reason why it is such a fundamental human philosophy is because we are dependent on one another for our continued existence and well-being. We don’t need it to be written down in some sacred book.

    The arguments for the existence of God seem to boil down to two points:
    1. That some supernatural being must have created everything.
    2. Many people believe in God so he/she must exist.

    Firstly, humans have always sought supernatural explanations for anything they didn’t understand, but the gaps in our knowledge have been gradually eroded. A materialistic world provides a much better explanation for natural disasters and human suffering (I know you have written elsewhere on this subject, but your explanations make little sense to me).

    Secondly, millions believe fervently in religions that are mutually exclusive with Christianity, so belief cannot itself be used as evidence for a god. Most people believe according to their cultural upbringing, and never question anything for fear of divine retribution in the afterlife. How can such fears be a rational basis for belief?

    But the major issue that makes me unable to believe in a god is the claim that we survive death. Everything that makes us who we are, our mind, our consciousness, our personality, our thoughts, are clearly tied to our physical brain. When the brain dies, all of those characteristics disappear, even in cases where the body is still “alive”. It defies reason that some spiritual part of us can somehow “escape” the body when oxygen stops circulating. And there is not a shred of real evidence to support the notion.

    I know you will want to argue against everything I’ve said, but I’ve heard it all before. I’m merely trying to explain how this unbeliever thinks. I’m not trying to convert anyone.

    Carpe diem.

    Veronica Elliston, Qld

  67. Thanks Veronica

    Hey, I’ve heard it all before as well! I have heard plenty of atheists argue ad infinitum, ad nauseam, just like you. Indeed, I used to argue the same way, since I too was a committed unbeliever at one point. So I already know the usual atheist objections. But thankfully I have moved on, while you atheists are still stuck in your narrow little world. I simply find the drab, routine atheist arguments to be so much bluff and bluster, requiring far too much faith to commit to.

    You claim that you are “not trying to convert anyone”. But of course you are. Why even bother to come here otherwise? Atheists not only have their own sacred dogmas, but they feel compelled to share their gospel with others, just as you are doing here. Of course the good thing about a democracy is that we can have these debates, although so many of the famous god-haters really want to see all such debate shut down, since they believe all religion is pure evil, and can only harm society.

    But since you have come around, offering the usual atheist objections, let me offer a few replies if I may. You are wrong on a number of fronts regarding the so-called Golden Rule. It does not exist in every religion. And it is far from the last word on our moral obligations.

    But the fact that it is fairly widely found simply pushes the question back one step. Why is it found so widely and how did it come into being? Sorry, but the silly notions about the evolution of morality just don’t cut it. You want to call the Golden Rule the “Ethic of Reciprocity”. That is because naturalistic evolutionists have to somehow explain morality, which really does not fit into their system at all. Thus Dawkins for example can speak about “reciprocal altruism”. This is the ‘I’ll scratch your back if you scratch mine’ idea.

    But it is problematic for all sorts of reasons. It says absolutely nothing about genuine altruism: when people do good things for others, often in a sacrificial fashion, expecting and demanding nothing in return. There are plenty of moral actions and behaviours which confer no reciprocal or genetic advantage. And all this has very little to do with how most people actually think about morality, including concepts of love, forgiveness, justice, compassion, and so on.

    And this sort of ‘morality’ is merely pre-programmed into us by our genes. Nothing very praise-worthy or blame-worthy about that. And two Darwinists recently wrote about rape being “a product of the human evolutionary heritage”. We simply are what our genes have programmed us to be. So why bother being “good”? It is a meaningless concept anyway in a purely naturalistic universe.

    If there are real objective moral obligations, they need a proper grounding. Atheism has not yet provided that, and seems unlikely to ever do so. Sorry, but it takes far too much faith to believe the atheist line on morality.

    As to your two arguments for God’s existence: there are many more important ones than just those. The cosmological argument is far from dead in philosophical circles, while the second is seldom really relied on, although the fact that belief in the transcendent is both historic and universal does have to be accounted for (but spare us the evolutionary theory of religion which is so very foolish and unsubstantial).

    As to your materialistic account of suffering and evil being a ‘better explanation” I almost have to laugh here. ‘Crap just happens so get used to it.’ That is all materialists can tell those who are suffering. How in the world is that a better explanation? In fact it is no explanation at all, and offers no hope or comfort whatsoever.

    As to competing religious beliefs – so what? There are competing scientific theories, even competing view of evolution. And sure cultural upbringing may explain why a person believes what he does. But that cuts both ways. A person born into an atheist household or society will likely end up an atheist. You simply commit the genetic fallacy here, confusing the origins of an idea with reasons for believing in an idea.

    And sorry, but your reductionism about the brain just doesn’t cut it either. I could suggest some titles here, but it seems that your mind (sorry, brain) is made up here. And you are picking the wrong argument any way. If you want a purely reductionist view of persons (we are nothing but slabs of meat – end of story) then you should be touting the line that none of us are the same persons if we live long enough. Every seven years all of the cells of the human body are replaced by new ones. Thus if you are 49, there have been at least seven of you.

    But of course no one can really live this way – even silly atheists. You are the same person you were decades ago, because there is more to you than mere matter. But on your view, your genes have presumably forced you to write what you did, since there is no real ‘you” that transcends your physical body.

    But of course in that case my genes made me write what I have written. So why have this silly argument at all? We are just programmed automatons, spouting off what our genes demand of us. In which case, why waste your time coming to websites like this? It is such a sad, pitiable and foolish worldview these atheists force themselves to live with.

    And theists can certainly seize the day, but for atheists their tiny reductionist box seems to make that difficult to achieve to any worthwhile degree.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  68. Hang on, morality exists because my parents gave it to me, and my grandparents gave it to them…..!!!!

    The funny thing is that atheists have all these good notions that a Christian worldview can clearly explain, but an atheistic worldview can’t.

    Jane Petridge

  69. Ok, ok, ok.

    I never intended to get anywhere here, I didn’t think that I would sway any opinions, the first thing I said was “here’s my two cents”.

    Unfortunately today is my day off, and I don’t have time to get into another lengthy debate, though it has been interesting. I am sure I will come back and keep going, when my next shift is on 😉

    I did want to say two things, from skimming over the last few posts. My morals come from my parents and those around me, just as you learnt to talk through your parents and those around you. It’s as simple as that. I was talking to my girlfriend whom is agnostic and really doesn’t care for either side, in fact she tunes out when I start talking about it all. However when I asked her where she got her morals from (without any information from this page), she said from her parents and those around her.

    In fact the last 3 people I talked to gave the same answer. I’m not sure why you don’t understand my POINT OF VIEW on this subject.

    Anyway, as you can see, for every post I give (and Ms Critchley), there’s 4-5 posts back for us. I didn’t come here (I believe you asked why I came here) to have a multi page debate, I came here to add my two cents which I feel I have.

    And the one thing that did annoy me, was “You’re 24”. Mate, I have been thinking of these things for over 11 years, I have studied it, I have talked, argued, debated.. It would be naive of me to pretend I know everything, I don’t. I’m not 60 years old and I apologise for that. One day I will be, I can only learn what I can for how old I am. Please don’t use age as a barrier.

    Anyway, in the end, if I am wrong, and you are right, kudos to you. If not, well none of us will ever know, right? If there is no god, then no one will know. As for the physical proof, I think I chose a wrong word then. How about this. When I see a god, or whatever, I will change my mind. Until then, all there is a 2000 year old book a whole lot of people love it. (I know that will get some more posts to it).

    And if I did have to choose a god, it would be the Sun. For the Sun gives us light, the son gives is warmth, and the best bloody part about the sun? For 12 hours a day I can look up to the sky and SEE IT with my own two eyes.

    Thanks.
    Heath Dunn

  70. Quote: “If and when God shows him or herself in person we will believe.” As it happens I was listening to a sermon by Erwin McManus from Mosaic church just last night on this topic – it’s called “Is Faith Nonsense?” I think it is one of the most profound sermons on this idea. People challenge Christians that God should show Himself to us – why doesn’t He show Himself – why must we take it on faith?

    Find it on itunes – http://itunes.apple.com/au/genre/podcasts-religion-spirituality/id1439

    Chris Cullen

  71. Thanks Heath

    But of you want to throw your two cents around, then you should expect others to do the same!

    As to morality, so what if 3 people or 300 say they got their morals from their parents? That adds nothing to the debate I am afraid. What we are trying to determine is whether there are moral absolutes which we all must submit to, or whether morality is simply based on the culture we grow up in (which seems to be your contention). But what happens when different cultures disagree? The Nazi culture felt they were doing the right thing. If morality is not universal and absolute, but simply the product of where we grow up, then we cannot condemn the Nazis.

    And it is not an issue of apologising for not being old. What should merit an apology is an attitude which arrogantly says I have made up my mind and don’t plan to change anything, as you have told us. That is a scary place to be in.

    And of course we already have had God appearing to us. We can see him. But most people choose to reject him. And so what if the historical record concerning this visitation by God is in an older book? Since when is truth determined by the page of a calendar? We might as well dismiss your first comment because it is now several days old. Truth is not determined by the hands of a clock, so spare us this rather foolish objection. Do you disbelieve in Alexander the Great or Julius Caesar simply because of their antiquity and because old books have documented them?

    There are millions of suns. Why worship this one? And what happens when it goes out? With all due respect, your comments are degenerating into real silliness here.

    But the most important point is why you even come here. As I said, if it is simply to engage in little mind games, please consider going elsewhere. These issues are far too important to simply engage is futile intellectual sparring. And you should not be so presumptuous that you will be blessed to live to be 60. If tragically your life is cut short, you really want to be ready for that fact. Thus the importance of seriously considering these issues now, with openness to the truth, wherever it may lead.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  72. Thanks Chris

    I have not yet listened to the sermon (life is real busy at the moment!). But of course in one very real sense God already has appeared to us. Jesus came to show us who God is like and what he expects of us. So that atheist excuse actually does not stand up. God has come to earth, and it is now up to us how we respond. So they can no longer complain, “If only God would reveal himself to us”.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  73. OK, Bill.

    I concede that hitler was built in Gods image and his morals came from God.

    Yes there are millions of suns, I love this sun BECAUSE IT IS KEEPING THIS PLANET (and myself, and you) ALIVE. Why would I worship a sun that does nothing to me? Geez, you really make this hard on me.

    Have you made up your mind? As you have said, life is short, but have you made up your mind? I have made my mind up to the best of my knowledge thus far, and again, not much can change it, except “God” standing in front of me.

    The difference between Caesar and Alexander the Great, is that several hundred documents reference these two.

    Only one historical document references the bible.. and funny that, it’s the bible.

    Now I await your reply that will assuredly, repeat what you have said before. I have enough respect to not berate you and accept your opinions, please respect my point of view and stop repeating yourself.

    Heath Dunn

  74. I was certainly shocked to hear that there’d be an atheist convention in Melbourne. What would they do there? I can imagine it’d be quite different to the planet shakers conference!

    Incidentally I picked a good week to be reading the Dawkins’ Delusion, and managed to catch a few people looking at my book, and I even had a lady give me a dirty look.
    Earlier Bill you mentioned that some people were going to be outside protesting or doing something of that nature? Is there any word of how that went?
    Either we need to have Apologetic conventions or buy 2500 tickets for the next one!

    Anthony Lichoudaris

  75. Thanks Heath

    Theism offers a solid grounding for the reality of objective morality. Atheism does not. But biblical theism says we have turned our back on the source of morality (God) and now therefore gravitate toward sin, selfishness and evil. That is the biblical doctrine of the Fall.

    Thus biblical theism can account for great goodness (say a Mother Teresa) and great evil (say a Hitler). Atheism cannot account for either, nor can your moral relativism and/or cultural relativism.

    I have followed the evidence where it leads over the years. Thus I have abandoned my atheism and embraced theism. If any solid counter evidence is forthcoming, I will examine that as well. I have been open to change. Are you?

    And as I said, God already has stood in front of us. It is up to you what you do with this. But no more cheap excuses about ‘God doesn’t reveal himself’.

    And respectfully you are woefully out of your depth on the issue of historical reliability. In fact you couldn’t’ be more wrong here. There are of course numerous extra-biblical sources which speak about Jesus. But the manuscript evidence for the reliability of the New Testament beats hands down all the other works of antiquity.

    As just one example, we have over 5,600 manuscripts of the New Testament, dating from as early as just 40 years after they were first written. Compare that to the mere ten copies of manuscripts we have for the writings of Caesar. And these copies are 1000 years older than when the originals were written.

    So you really need to get up to speed on some of these debates, instead of throwing out completely reckless and wild charges lacking a grain of truth. It simply highlights the flimsiness of your ‘arguments’.

    If you don’t like my replies, then no one is forcing you to keep coming back here.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  76. Thanks Anthony

    I believe some Christians came on the first day and had some interesting conversations with the misotheists there.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  77. Hi Heath, I still haven’t had the chance to read your other posts but will eventually because I care about your two cents. I’m 26 and willing to talk as someone with similar life experience. I just saw again you mentioned Alexander the Great and Ceasar. As far as I know the history documenting their stories fail greatly in comparison to that of the Bible. The Bible is in fact the most accurate historical document of ancient times when measured against historians’ criteria. I will provide you with the info for my claims here. You say several hundred documents reference these two. What are those docs and how do they compare to the docs referencing and supporting the Bible? Honestly, check it out.

    I would like to reason with you about the other claims still as far as you are willing and share those teachings with you if you are interested. I will also try not to repeat points if someone else commented similarly already.

    Cheers

    Servaas Hofmeyr, South Africa

  78. Thanks Heath for being the only person on here who hasn’t assumed I am evil for daring to question religion. I just want to re-iterate that no-one has ever proved any so-called religious miracles, just as no atheist claims to have proof of there being none. They are our beliefs and we are both entitled to them. I have a thick skin and can take whatever posters want to throw at me, but just find it interesting that I am being accused of pushing untruths and insulting people when all I am pointing our are many arguments used by religious people are based on things they can never prove. That is why I said if God appeared I would believe. No-one can prove to me that there ever was a God or that Jesus did what he was supposed to have. You can study all the ancient scripts you like – they are not proof. They could have been made up by anyone.
    As for researching and providing proof for my arguments, there is no point me wasting any more time trying to rebut religious arguments because as the posts here show, nothing I could do or say would change anyone’s mind. I have readily admitted I have no proof, these are just my beliefs, but few people here will respect them as I do people who are religious. My arguments are based on rational science and the pretty safe knowledge that the miracles Jesus was supposed to have committed are physically impossible, and even given 2000 years of technological advancement no-one has come close to replicating them.
    If only people spent more time being nice to each other and agreeing to disagree the world would be a nicer place. And for the record, some of my best friends are religious and we do respect each other’s beliefs.
    I was not ridiculing religious people, just saying that some of the things they believe, to me, are physically impossible.
    As for the Herald Sun printing my article, there was no agenda behind it – it was plain free speech, pure and simple. It was my idea and I have no idea whether my editors are religious or not. It’s a free country and they simply gave me my say.
    Bye for now.
    Cheryl Critchley
    PS I am off to spend my time productively with my children.
    PPSS My book deadline has just passed.

  79. Thanks Cheryl

    Actually you have not read this thread very carefully because a number of atheists have come here defending you and slamming theism.

    And who exactly called you ‘evil’ here? Another red herring on your part I am afraid.

    You keep going on about how rational you are and how irrational theists are. Yet a number of very rational arguments have been presented here and you have been unwilling or unable to answer even one of them. So just who is being rational here and who is not?

    You say “all I am pointing our are [sic] many arguments used by religious people are based on things they can never prove”. Yet you just got done telling us no one can prove miracles do not exist! So you are doing the very thing you slam religious folks doing. Is intellectual consistency and coherence actually important to you Cheryl?

    As I said, if you already have made up your mind that the universe is a closed system with nothing but nature, then of course miracles are impossible. You have simply ruled them out ahead of time as a faith commitment. You have prejudged the case simply because you do not want to believe. There is nothing especially rational about ruling something out ahead of time simply because it does not square with your preconceived biases.

    We are not very convinced about your just wanting to agree to disagree. You were the one who wrote a deliberately provocative and offensive article. And now you keep complaining when people dare to respond.

    And God has already appeared to you but you have decided to reject him. So why keep raising this disingenuous point?

    Yes, my book deadline had just passed as well. Off to the kids (until the next argumentative atheist comes along)!

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  80. Cheryl, I will quote Bill, “who exactly called you evil?” Normally its you lot that calls us who believe in God evil, wrong, not normal, etc, etc. We have had enough and are not taking it quietly anymore.
    Siti Khatijah

  81. Cheryl, I am amazed at your last post. I did NOT say or suggest any evil on your part, so let’s get that part right to start off with.

    Your article did ridicule religious people, in fact it was the offensiveness of the piece that got my back up. You basically said we were not rational and it was impossible to have any such beliefs given scientific knowledge. For you to then say “I was not ridiculing religious people” is disingenuous. In your article you spoke as though athiesm is by logic the only rational actuality, yet you now contradict yourself with ” They are our beliefs”. So now athiesm is a belief???

    And this other statement is a beauty – “You can study all the ancient scripts you like – they are not proof. They could have been made up by anyone.” Correct, but ‘possibility’ is not the issue, rather it is ‘probability’. There is a whole body of modern (if you like) evidence law relating to testimonies. If we take your line of thinking, then witness statements would cease to be considered as evidence for anything! So now you want to rewrite evidence law as well?

    “My arguments are based on rational science and the pretty safe knowledge that the miracles Jesus was supposed to have committed are physically impossible, and even given 2000 years of technological advancement no-one has come close to replicating them”. Spot on, could the fact that they cannot be replicated be proof that they came from a higher source? Mmmm… lets see, with all the physiology science we have today, including the ability to identify genes and DNA, science still hasn’t generated life from nothing, “no-one has come close to replicating” it. So I have a hypothesis for you – I now claim that life does not exist because it cannot be replicated by science, rational or otherwise.

    You have made three posts here and each one has been ripped apart. I will again repeat what I said before, “Given your inability to write a logical article… Honestly speaking, I’d be embarrassed to even write an article of such standard let alone present it for publication.” My comment now stands for not just the orignal article but for your three posts as well. I was taught argument assessment in high school English. I don’t know if they still teach it these days, but if they do, I can only suppose you were absent for those classes.

    Frank Norros

  82. There is no way a self respecting editor would publish writing under his/her own name with this level of reflection. Stan Fishley is correct, and Bill has shown it again: “is intellectual consistency and coherence actually important to you Cheryl?”. In the era of the internet how can this stuff really get published and have papers still wonder why they’re going down the tubes? I expect more thoughtful stuff after a few lessons googling from my students.
    Martin Snigg

  83. Perhaps help really is needed? *shrug* The greatest atheist of all time despised Christianity for its solicitude of the weak and vulnerable. No replacement for this systematic care can be found in universal atheism. Atheism pretends to replace in efficacy Christianity in producing heart centred virtue: it has to replace in Christianity; the sanction:- what happens if you don’t do the good? (ultimate judgment); the inspiration:- why do the good? (ultimate beatitude and fulfillment of our nature); and the content: what is the good? Jesus’ in word and deed (affirmation, correction and extension of the natural law and an anthropology that utterly revolutionised the ancient world). David Bentley Hart rightly calls thoughts atheism can build or sustain a civilisation ‘Atheist Delusions’.
    Martin Snigg

  84. As for the Herald Sun printing my article, there was no agenda behind it – it was plain free speech, pure and simple. It was my idea and I have no idea whether my editors are religious or not. It’s a free country and they simply gave me my say.

    Perhaps you could ask your editors if they would accept a rebuttal article from Bill. In the name of free speech, of course.
    Philip J. Rayment

  85. Thanks guys

    Our friend Heath has just submitted yet another comment, but it just the same old same old, so I have nipped it in the bud. I have exercised my unofficial ‘three strikes and you’re out’ policy here. He has had a good run, but shows not the slightest sign of genuine inquiry – just argument for argument’s sake.

    As I have said many times before, I simply am not interested in wasting my time – or anyone else’s – with those who have their minds made up and simply want to engage in their little debates for whatever reason. I will spend all the time in the world with genuine seekers and those asking honest questions. But I am not into playing little debate games.

    So the invitation is this: honest inquirers are welcome, but those who just want to push their agenda or engage in mind games are not.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  86. Hey Bill and Cheryl & Heath,
    Lots of comments, Bill. And good debate. There is a little too much fingers in the ears “I’m not listening” from some Atheist for my liking. But that is ok as long as they are at lest reading the posts.

    Cheryl what are you thinking? You are a Parenting writer for the Herald Sun, surely you can put together some type of rational argument, please.
    Like, you refuse to accept History as being fact and that it cannot be proved, I quote you “You can study all the ancient scripts you like – they are not proof. They could have been made up by anyone.” You, I assume, are talking about the Bible but you in effect call into question all historical accounts and texts.
    If you will not even look, at things you cannot see or prove yourself, how can you say “My arguments are based on rational science and the pretty safe knowledge”. Do you think all science and knowledge started last week?
    Bill has already pointed out your double standards but please at least try to be rational in your comments.
    I disagree with your ideology but I don’t think you are evil, not at all, not in any way, not at all in any way…at ALL (I hope thats clear).. you’re not evil, God loves you,really truly. You need to differentiate disagreement from dislike. But just because you are not evil does not stop you from making a mistake, I make them all the time. You could be wrong about God.
    I on the other hand have experienced God in a way that has totally changed my life. “It changed my Life”! So trying to disprove that which I have already experienced would be very difficult. (that seems arrogant but that is not they way I meant it..I just have had my life changed by God, not church, not a religious leader but by experiencing God)

    Just have a look at the claims God makes and don’t be afraid of looking into something different. Personally I have great discussions with my very good Sikh friend about Sikhism and what the 10 Guru’s say.

    Heath, wow! “take a chill pill mate”. Be careful “My way or the highway” probably should not be a life creed, it really does not work in the real world. All those questions you obviously have not had answered yet just keep an open mind.

    Jesus Christ is the answer the world is looking for, if you think the world is just going peachy, “cricky” read a newspaper. Atheists got nothin. The world is looking for answers.
    But I’m game if you are…… all the christians should sit down shut up, the Atheist are gonna step up to the plate. Firstly by taking on welfare (as the hundreds and hundreds of christian organisation bow out) The people of Atheists organisations begin to sacrifice their time and money ….”I don’t think so”. Atheist believe in “Nothing”. They got nothin!
    But feel free to prove me wrong, I love being wrong because I learn more stuff 🙂

    Peter Baldry

  87. Bill,

    There’s a big problem with discussing complex issues here. You dislike long posts, yet it is hard to deal with these issues in brief. So I’ll just respond to two of your points.

    I’m puzzled by your attitude to natural disasters. Science can provide us with an understanding of why “crap happens” so that we can better predict and be prepared for the next disaster. To me, a naturalistic explanation for the vagaries of nature provide far more comfort than the hand-wringing religious response which invariably comes down to “God’s mysterious ways”. I would find no comfort at all in believing in a God who could prevent such evil but declines to do so, or worse actually causes the evil. And even if you can somehow find “comfort” in such a belief, what has comfort got to do with which explanation is actually true? Are you suggesting that comfort is more important than truth?

    Your statement about cell turnover in the body is also puzzling. Some cells have much longer lives than others, especially brain cells. In any case, mental function, memory etc.invloves more than individual cells, but rather the way that brain cells interconnect. But that is really beside the point I was making. All evidence indicates that our mental faculties are intimately tied to our physical brain, and we lose such faculties as our brain deteriorates with age. Where then is the evidence for a non-material soul that survives death?

    Veronica Elliston, Qld

  88. I’m sorry, but atheist posts on this thread have done nothing to enlighten/further/advance the argument that there is not God.
    I would love to see real debate. Cheryl has proven herself to be someone who rabbits on in The Herald Sun and can’t defend herself in what she has rabbited on about. She just claims she is expressing “free speech”.
    Didn’t two pastors go to court for HATE CRIMES against Islam?? Cheryl maybe we should put you up for the same charge.
    Or, why don’t write an equally flattering piece about Islam??? Go on…..I dare you to have it published in the Herald Sun.
    Don’t carp on about not understanding the backlash to your article. You offend hundreds of thousands of Australians who work for Christian-affiliated organizations with your silly comments.
    Jane Petridge

  89. Hectic! That’s a lot of posts!
    Finally have read through them and seen that Heath (and Cheryl) received decent feedback and there is no need for me to repeat the same arguments as some people did it better than I might have even.

    Just to draw out one example of the problem I have with atheist arguments: “rational science and the pretty safe knowledge that the miracles Jesus was supposed to have committed are physically impossible” Exactly! That is why it is called a miracle. It is always word games but totally lacks substance. What you should argue here is why you believe there exists nothing outside of the natural (ie. why what we see is all there is), not state that Christians and other religious people calls a miracle a miracle.

    I will offer (to Heath or whoever wants to have a look), however, the reading and watching material I spoke of earlier and truly hope that you will consider the evidence suggesting the contrary to what you believe and not simply be content with your own beliefs and remain ignorant and make uninformed statements in the media:

    1) Visit John Piper’s website http://www.desiringgod.com and read/listen to his study of Romans, especially the first few chapters. Very decent explanation of what the bible teaches on our condition of sin and why a moral conscience exist among people and how we will be held accountable because of it. This is not so that you should necessarily agree with it but at least understand better what the bible teaches on it and avoid building straw men in arguments because of what a Christian friend says the bible says. I recommend any of Piper’s sermons on any biblical passage or topic(its all on this website), he is an excellent and honest, scholar and teacher.

    2) Josh McDowell’s New Evidence that Demands a Verdict. McDowell puts the bible’s credibility to the test after being challenged to do so which resulted in this book and some other works. It is written in a more academic style.

    3) CS Lewis’ Mere Christianity – easy to read, basically an atheist’s thought journey/argument to the conclusion of who God is. Very well received by non-Christians as I understand.

    4) Finally, get hold of this DVD: An Unconventional War. Not sure what is cutting among the pagans/atheists in Aus but here in Africa the culture is not ignorant of the unnatural (both good and evil). Whether you’re a Christian or not, you don’t make statements such as: it is not scientifically possible.This is the story with documented footage of how witch doctors had Uganda in a stronghold and how the government finally turned to the church to overcome the guerilla armies through dedicated prayer, not hard work on this occasion as the natinal army failed. This war was spiritual, not natural.

    Do yoursleves a favour and get hold of these material (google it!) and be informed.

    Servaas Hofmeyr, South Africa

  90. PS Heath – I have the audio version of Piper’s whole book of Romans and will gladly send copies to whoever would like it – it is not copyright protected.

    Servaas Hofmeyr

  91. I just have to laught when i see ”Cheryl” talk about ”free speech”! LOL

    You have got to be kidding!! In my city’s paper ‘The Advertiser’ the last 2 fridays a columnist – David Penberthy has attacked christianity quite severely, but just like the hundreds of other times(that i’ve written letters to the Advertiser in response to similar articles) my letter didn’t make it in to refute his misotheistic comments. I wrote in asking him among other things “when was the last time a creationist or ID supporter had a column in the paper to say exactly what they believe without editing?….Like Never!”

    The newspapers in Australia are always biased against creationists, or any believers who make intellectual arguments…..They like to portray them as ‘crazy fundamentists’ or believers in a ‘flat earth. Another columnist in the Advertiser – Tory Shepherd is often attacking God or anyone who disbelieves in evolution or abortion etc…

    Jeremy Woods

  92. Bill,

    Sorry. I guess my questions are just too difficult for you.

    Thanks for demonstrating how shallow and irrational Christian thought is.

    Veronica Elliston, Qld

  93. I consider myself a fool for trying to argue with an evangelist, especially one as ignorant as yourself. I don’t mind if you don’t post this, but at least you read it.

    Have a good day!

    Heath Dunn

  94. Thanks Veronica

    Yes I agree that short comments cannot do proper justice to complex topics such as these, but then again neither can long comments. But the preference for shorter comments at least narrows things down a bit here.

    Truth has to be both epistemically valid as well as experientially coherent. I believe theistic truth claims are logical as well as liveable. The atheistic worldview is not only something no one can really live with, but seem to fail the truth test as well.

    As to suffering, the fact that a wise and loving God may at least be able to work good out of evil, or have purposes for it that we may not at this point appreciate offers far more than the atheist position. Suffering can be redeemed and transformed in the Judeo-Christian worldview, but not in the naturalist’s.

    The point with naturalism is there is ultimately no “you” who is sending in these comments. Your very ability to reason, communicate and do numerous other non-material things (love, feel, care, wonder, question, perceive, contemplate, and so on) are more than mere materialistic responses. No one can really live as a reductionist slab of meat.

    Sure, mental states and brain activities are connected – just as soul and body are connected – but the former are not reducible to the latter. Your reductionism is nice in theory but impossible to sustain in the real world.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  95. Hi Veronica,

    I am interested in this statement you made

    “Where then is the evidence for a non-material soul that survives death?”

    I think there are a number of lines of evidence along those lines, but what you you actually consider as evidence ?

    I suspect the answer may be “nothing” but you are welcome to prove me wrong. Before I’d consider it worthwhile to enter into such a discussion with you, it is only reasonable that you set some goal posts for what you expect.

    Jason Rennie

  96. Thanks Veronica and Heath (for your latest)

    I always love it the way atheists come to a site like this. At first they are all sweetness and light. They can put on such a good act. But before you know it their real nature starts to emerge. Their ugly, hate-filled intolerance starts to shine forth big time. They pretend to be oh so tolerant and accepting, but then they bare their fangs. Of course most of their hate-filled comments I have to send straight to the bin. But I let the two recent ones by you two in to show the world what we are up against.

    For what it is worth guys, I happen to be overseas, and getting opportunities for Internet access here is few and far between. But thanks for your patience and kindness – always great to see atheist tolerance and grace in action.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  97. Jason,

    I’m willing to consider any evidence of an afterlife for which there is no other rational explanation. I would reject any “hearsay” evidence along the lines of “My aunt heard from her dead mother”. I certainly have no time for “mediums” or “psychics” like John Edward who prey upon the grief of vulnerable and gullible people by using well established “cold reading” tricks.

    Bill,

    My comments were made after my post sat there for over 24 hours, during which you approved several others in other threads. I assumed I had been censored. Now that you have explained your situation I will be more patient. But before you accuse me of being “hate-filled” you might consider some of your own words towards atheists. Descriptions such as “God-haters” are rather silly when the definition of an atheist is someone who doesn’t believe that God actually exists.

    I’m really little different from you or anyone else here, just a seeker of truth trying to make sense of life and the universe. It’s just that I am not prepared to take anything “on faith”. I want to see evidence. Many Christians talk about “evidence” for their faith, but it all boils down to what a lawyer would call “hearsay”, never anything tangible or observable.

    While you may find it impossible to accept that “sentient meat” can exist, the evidence is that it does. Cogito ergo sum. As life on this plant became more complex, so did its level of intelligence. I find the complexities of the atom as least as astounding, yet we don’t ascribe supernatural properties to atoms. Nor do we ascribe supernatural properties to viruses, bacteria, earthworms or even dogs, yet each exhibits degrees of “intelligence”.

    Similarly, we increasingly understand more and more about the causes of disease and natural disasters. And ultimately it all boils down to the properties of matter. No supernatural explanation is needed any more to explain an earthquake or a tsunami. Now one might legitimately ponder how the matter in the universe came to be endowed with the particular properties it has, but if your answer is God it seems more like a remote, impersonal deistic kind of god rather than the personal god that you believe in.

    And finally, the reason I am here is because I am puzzled by what makes Christians tick. I was brought up as an evangelical but abandoned the church because it all began to seem like mumbo-jumbo that couldn’t be reconciled with the real world. My pastors were only capable of preaching dogma, and never able to answer deep questions. Even daring to question beliefs was considered heresy and I was shunned.

    This is one of the few places that at least engages in some form of debate, even though I have yet to see any satisfying answers to my questions. I live in hope.

    Veronica Elliston, Qld

  98. Gosh you are right Bill, the minute they cannot get someone to agree with them their fangs and lower self appears, venomous, getting angry and saying horrible things all because Bill didn’t reply when THEY expected him to. Is this rational? No this is EGO of the first order. The mind in control and nothing else exists. If a heart is already hardened how can God ever enter as He is not wanted? However I know that God can fit into the heart of his servants who want and wishes to seek Him. Not so for those who have shut him out long ago. Then proceed to blame Him for all evil in this world because their minds cannot reconcile anything about God and frankly they don’t want to anyway. How can you see God when you have started from a point of “He does not exists”? There is a saying of old, “for one who already believes no amount of proof is necessary, but for those who don’t then no amount of proof is enough”.
    Siti Khatijah

  99. Not one has come up with an ounce of evidence that there is a God or that Jesus ever walked this earth in the way the bible describes.

    Cheryl, I don’t know if it is worth saying this but you must be blind as a bat. I surfed the internet and found at least 200 sites that offered proof that there is a God.

    Can I suggest that you don’t want to know there is a God, which is quite different to saying there is no evidence.

    Roger Marks

  100. Hi Roger,

    I think the mistake you are making is assuming that Cheryl has a consistent standard of evidence when it comes to such things. I suspect you will find that she would reject out of hand any evidence presented as insufficient, even though she wouldn’t hold anything else to this sort of standard.

    In my experience, people making claims of the sort she is making are really not interested in evidence and need to toss out such ridiculously fatuous comments like that because, and lets be honest, they are to scared to consider the possibility that there is evidence and that it might be true and this would require them to change their lives and admit they are not the centre of the universe after all.

    Jason Rennie

  101. Thanks Veronica

    Like many atheists, you finally ‘fess up to your rejection of Christianity. However I fail to see any convincing reasons why you remain in your unbelief. Your reductionist naturalism takes far more faith to believe in than does biblical Christianity. Not only have I and others here offered evidence for belief, but there exist plenty of top-rate scholarly resources, if you are really interested. I can list hundreds of books for example written by scientists, PhD’s, academic, philosophers, and so on – far brighter and more qualified than you or I – in any area you wish. But all we get from you is the impression that your mind is made up and you really are not all that interested in following the evidence where it may lead.

    And it all depends on what you mean by evidence anyway. It is a term used very loosely by atheists, and the sort of overwhelming proof they are looking for is found hardly anywhere in the real world. We all live with a mix of faith and evidence.

    So as I keep telling atheists whose minds are made up – please argue elsewhere. But if you have a genuine interest in pursuing truth, let me know and I can send a few title suggestions your way. Your willingness or otherwise to pursue some of these books would seem to be a good indication as to whether you are being honest here or not.

    And reading a few books is a helpful way to proceed, since obviously complex arguments cannot be made here in what are supposed to be brief comments. But I have had plenty of atheists come here, and when offered some reading, have refused to follow up on it. That tells me a lot about their supposed openness.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  102. Thanks Jason

    Yes this is true of most of these atheists. Jesus could stand before them today with his nail-pierced hands and they would still not believe. That is because they do not want to believe, and no amount of evidence will move them. Jesus told his critics the same thing 2,000 years ago.

    God of course will not force anyone to believe, and those who have their minds made up will never be convinced of anything to the contrary.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  103. Hi Veronica,

    Ok first up you say,

    I would reject any “hearsay” evidence along the lines of “My aunt heard from her dead mother”. I certainly have no time for “mediums” or “psychics” like John Edward who prey upon the grief of vulnerable and gullible people by using well established “cold reading” tricks.”

    Fair enough I have no time for such parasites either.

    But lets investigate the criteria a bit further,

    “I’m willing to consider any evidence of an afterlife for which there is no other rational explanation.”

    Ok. Could you give some examples please? I’m just trying to understand your goal posts. It seems from other posts that you embrace some sort of metaphysical naturalism that says such things are by nature impossible. But if you embrace such a view, then any alternative explanation is going to be “more rational” than a “supernatural” one regardless of how absurd it appears to be because it is limited to “naturalistic processes”. I will illustrate with an example I came up with years ago. I freely admit it is an extreme case, but I think it makes the point nicely.

    Say you are down to two possible explanations to explain the resurrection of Jesus with nothing to tell between them except this appeal to “only invovles naturalistic processes” (Please focus on that part, instead of claiming there are other explanations and missing the point entirely. I am sure you are smart enough to do that, but plenty of other atheists haven’t been and might be reading this).

    So the two competing explanations.

    1) That Jesus rose pretty much as the bible says, and it is taken as a vindication of his claims about who God is and how salvation works. Clearly this involves an appeal to something “supernatural” as the idea is normally conceived.

    2) The entire resurrection was staged by a group of time traveling insurance salesmen lead by a clone of Elvis as part of an elaborate plot to get the idea of “Act of god” written into insurance law. You will note that this is an entirely _naturalistic_ explanation that makes no appeal to things normally conceived of as “supernatural”.

    If these were your two choices, and a “naturalistic explanation” was always preferable to one that invoked the supernatural you would be forced to prefer explanation #2. Of course most people would rightly regard anybody doing so as an idiot.

    So can you elaborate on what you mean by “more rational” explanation with some examples of what would be provided. It is easy to say “no other rational explanation” but as the above example demonstrates what you mean by “no other rational explanation” needs some elaboration. If you consider #2 explanation above superior to #1 and “more rational” because it doesn’t invoke the “supernatural” then I would contend you aren’t really a very rational person.

    So if you could elaborate with an example of two of what would count as evidence, so I have some idea of what to aim for, perhaps we can take this further.

    Jason Rennie

  104. Hi Jason,

    It isn’t rational to believe in time travel, so I would reject explanation 2 on those grounds alone. But that doesn’t mean I have to therefore accept explanation 1. It’s a fallacious line of reasoning because you have deliberately excluded all other rational lines of enquiry.

    Let me pose a question to you. The Book of Mormon is claimed by its followers to be a translation by Joseph Smith in 1829 of “reformed Egyptian” texts inscribed on golden plates, which several witnesses claimed to have seen. There are around 13 million Mormons today who firmly believe this story and its surrounding supernatural tales of angels and magic stones. Yet most non-Mormons would dismiss this story as a fabrication.

    Assuming you dismiss it (if you didn’t I would have to ask why you are not a Mormon), you would presumably do so because there is no evidence apart from hearsay. Yet that is exactly how I view the supernatural claims of the Bible.

    Getting back to the question of an afterlife, if our consciousness can survive death that would run counter to everything we know and observe about nature in general and the human mind in particular. It would be an extraordinary claim, so the evidence would have to be beyond dispute. If you know of any such evidence, please present it instead of asking me to do hypothetical thought experiments.

    Veronica Elliston

  105. Ok Veronica you’ve missed the point.

    Given only two explanations, which is more “rational”? Time travel and cloning aren’t preculded by the laws of physics as far as we know. Currently problematic, but not impossible. As any line of inquiry proceeds you will whittle down the total number of explanations using different criteria. What I was trying to determine was whether your concept of “rational explanation” included clearly fallacious assumptions like “naturalistic assumptions are _always_ more rational”, when as the example clearly shows they are not.

    Actually I reject Mormonism because it fails empirical tests based on empirical claims it makes. No evidence of the ancient civilization it claims existed has been found and based on genetics it does not seem to be the case that native americans share any common heritage with israelites. But those are empirical questions based on the claims made.

    The same isn’t true of the Biblical text though. Of course I would ask you a question about that. Clearly you think the Biblical text is unreliable, but what would a reliable biblical text that accurately reported miracles look like different from the current text? Or do you a priori reject as a fabrication any claim of an eye witness to a miraculous event? Which is hardly reasonable unless you a priori assume all such occurences are impossible, but in that case, your claims to be a reasonable person on this topic is fallacious.

    I can’t present evidence though Veronica as you’ve not attempted to show what you would consider reasonable evidence. There is plenty of reason to think that a Substance Dualist version of human nature is true from philosophy and there are many interesting data points from things like Near Death Experiences that provide some insight, but you have not indicated that you would not simply dismiss data points out of hand because you have already made up your mind about the possiblity of such things.

    Until you set some goal posts, which will either reveal you are utterly unreasonable or that you are actually reasonable, it is a waste of time to present any evidence.

    Your “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence” line is fallacious and just an example of trying to avoid setting concrete standards for evidence that you cant freely move around to avoid conclusions you find uncomfortable.

    Jason Rennie

  106. Veronica,

    Today we have the Christian Church with hundreds of millions of adherents all over the globe. Given the different historical accounts of Jesus and the early church, how do you explain the beginnings of Christianity and account for its persistence today without the death and resurrection of Jesus?

    The fact is, the church exists today in 2010. But Jesus’ small and motley bunch of followers ran away when he was arrested and were in fear for their lives when he died. Hardly an auspicious beginning likely to blossom into a history changing movement, don’t you think?

    Plausible and ‘rational’ ideas only please. Preferably ones that cite historical accounts, but I would certainly be interested what you think, since it is a straightforward and simple fact that you must account for in order for your worldview to have any credibility whatsoever.

    Mark Rabich

  107. Thanks Jason

    Yes the “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence” is a real furphy. It is a case of smuggling your conclusion into your premises. Simply assume that naturalism is true, and then, ta-da, of course the miraculous cannot occur. Those who have decided ahead of time that there is no supernatural have of course ruled out the very possibility of the miraculous. But this anti-supernatural bias is simply an act of faith on the part of atheists.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  108. I’m praying for you Veronica, that God will reach out his hand and touch you. Oh what a warrior you will be.
    All praise be to GOD……
    Daniel Kempton

  109. Dear Veronica,
    You wrote:
    “My pastors were only capable of preaching dogma, and never able to answer deep questions. Even daring to question beliefs was considered heresy and I was shunned.”
    Many pastors seem unable or unwilling to defend the bible as history and so come across as dogmatic. Yet biblical Christianity is a reasonable, evidence-based, faith – the Bible it crystal clear: if Jesus is not raised from the dead then Christians are a pitiable lot.
    Other posts above defend the NewTestament history of Jesus as being superior to any other contemporary history, the written history re Jesus being about a thousand times more than what is available re Julius Caesar and about 10-times closer to the events reported. But that may be peripheral to answering your ‘deep questions’.
    What deep questions? Who am I? Why am I here? Is there a God? What about tsunami’s and earthquakes? What about Attenborough’s boy on a river bank in Africa with a parasitic worm boring through his eye making him blind? What about good and evil, suffering and morality etc? Whatever your questions, too many pastors and Christians can’t give logical answers to succinct and logical arguments such as:
    “Now that we know that Adam and Eve never were real people the central myth of Christianity is destroyed. If there never was an Adam and Eve there never was an original sin. If there never was an original sin there is no need of salvation. If there is no need of salvation there is no need of a saviour. And I submit that puts Jesus, historical or otherwise, into the ranks of the unemployed. I think that evolution is absolutely the death knell of Christianity.” -Atheist Frank Zindler.
    Many pastors and Christians don’t answer this well because they don’t believe Genesis is history. They believe the atheists’ origins myth (that the universe and life came into being for no reason and evolved over billions of years – all contrary to the known laws of experimental science) and then they say God did it. But this tacitly concedes a weak, cruel and wasteful god of the gaps who ‘created’ using millions of years of death disease and destruction, and then claimed to be the omnipotent God of Love who blames Adam and Eve for sin and death! Not a nice god – but a god totally contrary to the God described in Genesis.
    Christian who concede Genesis, are on slippery ground. History tells us that evolution has severely weakened Christianity – probably because theistic evolution has no logical answers to the deep questions. For real answers Veronica, please read the Bible for what it claims to be: God’s endorsed history of the universe which answers your deepest questions.
    And if you think that the Bible is wrong to claim that the earth was created baout six thousand years ago, go to creation.com. Or tell me why evolutionary scientists: Claim diamonds and coal are millions of years old despite the evidence that they carbon date to recent times; or, Claim that dinosaurs died out millions of years before mankind existed despite the evidence than man and dinosaurs co-existed in recent times.
    Peter Newland, Melbourne

  110. Couldn’t have put it better myself Jason. Thanks. Of course as you point out, evolution has no meaning unless man is the centre of the universe and if you think that, your bound to get a dose of the “me, myself and I.”
    Roger Marks

  111. Hi Bill
    It was nice reading your article, and I agree into this matter. I’m catholic and I have God in my life. Well it’s sad to be discriminate by Atheist for my beliefs, but I still hold on to my faith and they cannot affect me, I recently google about the silliest thing Atheist say or do and I found your article, well I also found one link that is also very true also about atheist, most of the time they didn’t know how often times they become silly in their life. Hope you don’t mind me to share this link that I found :> God bless and continue writing more informative post
    cheers
    Ina Bruguerra

  112. Sigmund Freud’s ID relates to materialism in a deep symbiosis and atheism is the result.
    Then the superego is implanted upon the personality and the wild child of our ID becomes either tamed and civilized or it sinks into an abyss of foul and destructive hedonism.
    This article demonstrates the point and poor Cheryl a prime example of the Fall into this abyss.
    Keep it simple stupid.

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