Standing Up To the Crusading Secularists

The militant secularists and atheists have declared war against the rest of the world. But given that the overwhelming majority of mankind both now and in the past have been religious, have been theistic, and or have recognised that there is more to reality than just the material world, these militants are in a very small minority.

Nonetheless they have started a war, so they can expect to get a bit of resistance along the way. And this is not just some arcane debate here. Worldviews have real consequences and we have seen the consequences big time of the misotheists.

Last century alone millions upon millions of people were killed by regimes which were committed to these materialistic ideologies. And now they are working overtime in the West to impose their agenda on everyone else. They really are fightin’ fundies. They are evangelists and crusaders for their reductionist worldview.

Fortunately there are a few voices being heard, who will not allow them to get away with all this. While the Christian church should be doing its best to withstand the militants and to proudly proclaim their faith, often they are not. Thus it is amazing to find this Muslim woman saying what Christians ought to be saying.

One report begins this way: “A Muslim member of the House of Lords told Vatican officials today that Europe must beware of growing ‘militant’ secularism and become ‘more confident’ in its Christianity. Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, a political appointee to the House of Lords and chairman of the Conservative Party, led a delegation of British ministers this week on a visit to the Vatican.

“‘For me one of the most worrying aspects about this militant secularization is that at its core and in its instincts it is deeply intolerant. It demonstrates similar traits to totalitarian regimes – denying people the right to a religious identity because they were frightened of the concept of multiple identities,’ she said.

“In a speech today to future Vatican diplomats at the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy in Rome, Warsi quoted Pope Benedict’s speech at Westminster Hall in 2010, warning against an ‘intolerant’ and ‘militant’ secularization that is taking hold of British and other European societies.

“‘Too often there is a suspicion of faith in our continent. It all hinges on a basic misconception – that to create equality and space for minorities we need to erase our religious heritage,’ she continued. Referring to the many cases in recent years of secularists suing or harassing Christian believers, Warsi warned that Britain is sliding into a totalitarian mindset, ‘when signs of religion cannot be displayed or worn in government buildings; when states won’t fund faith schools; and where religion is sidelined, marginalized and downgraded in the public sphere’.”

She is of course exactly right. But the only troubling thing here is why are Christians not saying this? Why does it take a non-Christian to get enough courage and conviction to stand up and say what needs to be said? Why are the churches so silent on this?

A second example of a fightback also comes from the UK. While the militant atheist heavyweights seem to so often get a free ride as they dish out their nasty attacks on all things religious, they are sometimes properly called to account. There was a great piece in yesterday’s Telegraph in this regard.

It is a great read, and I here present the first half of the article to you: “Which of us hasn’t groaned when the Rev Giles Fraser, former canon of St Paul’s, pops up with his Thought for the Day on Radio 4? Dr Fraser is the archetypal 21st-century vicar, as predictably Lefty as he is drearily on-trend. That ‘former’ prefix is because, you’ll recall, he resigned after welcoming the Occupy protesters to his cathedral. And since leaving St Paul’s he has, in a form of caricature made flesh, become a Guardian leader writer. But I take it all back. Giles Fraser, you are now my hero.

“In a discussion on the Today programme yesterday, Dr Fraser skewered the atheist campaigner Richard Dawkins so fabulously, so stylishly, and so thoroughly that anti-religion’s high priest was reduced to incoherent mumbling and spluttering.

“The two men were debating some new figures produced by Prof Dawkins’s think tank, the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science. (A typical Dawkins touch: not just any old Foundation for Reason and Science but the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science.) The statistics purport to show that most people who identify themselves as Christian turn out, when questioned on what they actually think, to be ‘overwhelmingly secular in their attitudes on issues ranging from gay rights to religion in public life’. Dawkins’s conclusion is that these self-identified Christians are ‘not really Christian at all’.

“If you were trying to come up with a definition of misplaced intellectual arrogance, you could not do better than having the planet’s most famous atheist issuing diktats on who does and doesn’t count as a proper Christian. Prof Dawkins then announced, triumphantly, that an ‘astonishing number [of Christians] couldn’t identify the first book in the New Testament’. The transcript of the next minute or so only hints at how cringingly, embarrassingly bad it was for Dawkins.

“Fraser: Richard, if I said to you what is the full title of The Origin Of Species, I’m sure you could tell me that.
Dawkins: Yes I could.
Fraser: Go on then.
Dawkins: On the Origin of Species…Uh…With, oh, God, On the Origin of Species. There is a sub-title with respect to the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life.

“It was a golden minute of radio. But as well as being hilarious, it was hugely symbolic. In The Daily Telegraph yesterday, Baroness Warsi highlighted the militant secularism on the march in Britain. But as Dr Fraser revealed, the atheist army is led by an embarrassingly feeble general. The arrogance and intolerance of the atheists, exemplified by Prof Dawkins, is their Achilles’ heel.”

Quite right. It is always great to see the false gods come crashing down to earth. They are ever so smug and cocksure. But if you think Dawkins got a hiding here, just wait till he really gets a good grilling – when he stands before his maker and gives an account of his foolishness.

As always, we must pray for these deluded folks, and hope that God will break through these tough nuts. But while we by all means pray for these guys, that does not mean we have to just lie down and let them roll all over us. I presented here two folks who are taking them on.

We need many more like them.

[1113 words]

60 Replies to “Standing Up To the Crusading Secularists”

  1. Typical Richard,

    Never good under pressure.
    It’s one thing to write books on the topic but heaven-forbid you actually have to engage with people about what you wrote.
    Unless of course your are William Lane Craig and then you should just ignore his debating requests completely (despite Dr Craig not being a young-earth creationist).
    With Hitchens gone the four horseman are looking quite dreary. Despite his atheistic position he was always the life of the party.


    Cameron Spink

  2. Spot on again Bill.
    You are right about the sheer irony that it is “this Muslim woman saying what Christians ought to be saying.”

    Indeed so, and one longs for such a Christian leader to give a bold, openly public lead, expressing a Christian world view, and especially a clear reiteration of the Gospel – say, something like a resume of Jesus words about the absolute necessity of the New Birth, and faith in Christ as Saviour, which alone must generate real faith (as opposed to the sociological multi-faith mish-mash we get served up)

    Back to Dawkins. I believe that there are many ‘real’ scientists who regard him as less than an impressive representative of ‘science’ and of the secular values that many of them hold. I may be mistaken, but I seem to recall that it was Dawkins who made the absurd suggestion a year or so ago that atheism should be made compulsory lesson teaching in some schools in the UK. Naturally the suggestion met with ribald derision from all sides.

    I made the point that the ‘lesson’ would be over in less than a matter of minutes! If as Dawkins and his fellow secularists pronounce pompously ‘there is no God’, then of course, there is not a lot left to say about anything is there?

    Graham Wood, UK

  3. “Militant” atheists “declaring war”? I would hardly call debating in the favour of science and reason “declaring war”. The regimes you talk of killed millions because of their dangerous political ideologies, fascism and communism, not because of a lack of religious belief. What about the countless lives lost in wars fought in the name of non-existant gods? Secularists do not deny people the right to religious identity, we just don’t want it forced on us through government and education. We are not “frightened of the concept of multiple identities”, whatever that means. Suspicion of faith is based on the complete lack of evidence for anything supernatural, not some “basic misconception that to create equality and space for minorities religious heritage must be erased”. I suppose these irrational arguments are to be expected in defense of a faith based belief system, which is by definition irrational.
    Jamie Sargeson, Perth

  4. Thanks Jamie

    But let me call your bluff here. Just “because of a lack of religious belief”? Spare me. These mass murderers killed specifically in the name of their atheistic anti-God ideology. It was because of their severe misotheism that they declared war on the churches, on believers, and anyone who did not embrace their ugly materialism. Thus over a hundred million people were put to death in the name of an ideology – militant atheism and secularism. If you took all the people killed in the name of religion for the last 20 centuries, they would come nowhere near to the totals your camp massacred in just one century.

    And spare me this joke about science and reason somehow being purely the domain of atheism. The overwhelming majority of the founders of modern science were all theists, mostly all Christians. And Western civilisation is filled with great theistic minds. Whether we speak of the great scientists, such as Galileo, Kepler, Pascal, Boyle, Newton, Faraday, Mendal, Babbage, Pasteur, Kelvin, and Clerk-Maxwell, or the great classical philosophers and towering intellects, such as Plato, Aristotle, Descartes, Leibniz, Spinoza, Kant, Hegel, Locke, and Berkeley, to name a few, none of them shared you militant secularism.

    Sorry, but tossing out such weak arguments which have absolutely no backing whatsoever has been done before quite often by your side. It failed before, and it still is a failure. It is back to the drawing board I am afraid.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  5. Cameron, do you imply that Richard Dawkins is an expert:
    ex = has been
    spurt = a drip of water under pressure

    Light hearted rejoinder at 23:30…
    John Angelico

  6. I appreciate your reply and the healthy debate.

    These genocides were committed by totalitarian governments in the name of racist, xenophobic political ideologies, and against many different cultural and ethnic groups. I don’t know a single person, atheist or otherwise, who would agree that these despicable and atrocious mass killings were justifiable. To say that these people were put to death in the name of atheism is just plain false and somewhat offensive. The radical political parties responsible for these needless genocides are in no way part of “my camp”.

    I make no claim that only atheists could exercise reason or study the sciences, only that a religious world view is incompatible with one that emphasises strict rationality, intellectual honesty, and the scientific method, seeing as a leap of faith is always necessary, which equates to belief without proof.

    Finally, I don’t consider myself a militant. I try to exercise restraint in presenting my beliefs and feel genuine guilt when challenging the beliefs of others. I believe that as this age of technology and heightened understanding progresses, the majority of people will come to secular conclusions on their own.

    Jamie Sargeson, Perth

  7. Thanks Jamie

    But you are basically repeating yourself from last time, still living in denial here. We have the express writings of Lenin, Stalin, Hitler, Mao and Pol Pot. We know what they did and why they did it. They made clear their animus against religion, the church, and those who had a faith commitment, and the need to exterminate them. Such religious people cannot be allowed to exist under tyranny, since they have competing allegiances. So these mass murders knew they had to be eliminated, and they did so with amazing efficiency. It was all done in the name of the coercive utopian and materialistic ideology. Plenty of quotes can be produced here. So I repeat this truth of history: more people died at the hands of secular mass murderers in one century than the entire preceding 19 centuries. There is blood on the hands of the secularists, so I understand why your side is so uncomfortable with all this, and wants to weasel out of it.

    And sorry but your hope that everyone will embrace your narrow little world of materialism is just not going to happen. There was a big secularisation theory making the rounds in the 60s, but many of those proponents, such as Peter Berger, have now recanted, and admit that the earth’s population is perhaps even more religious and interested in spirituality than ever before. As I said, most thinking people just do not have enough faith to become atheists.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  8. Oh no! Professor Richard Dawkins FRS FRSL attacked on a theocrat’s blog. How will his reputation ever recover?!

    The man is 70+ years old. Yet you’re happy to gloat that his mind is showing signs of slowing down, probably due to the onset of old age. How generous spirited, and so typical of your lot.

    Your lot is quite happy to pretend that Dawkins’ specialist subject of the biological sciences doesn’t exist and fight for it not to be taught to children. In return you expect Dawkins and fellow rationalists to tolerate your beliefs?

    Morton Dill

  9. Thanks Morton

    Ah, so nice of you to come along with this line. We simply need to compare it with a similar line from your camp from not so long ago. Recall the world’s greatest living atheist at the time, Antony Flew. You guys used to love him so. But then something tragic happened: in his older years he actually dared to reject his faith in atheism. He became an apostate from the religion of misotheism.

    Boy did your side ever go ballistic over that one. You were rambling on about how he obviously had dementia, his mind was caving, in, he could no longer think straight. Any stupid excuse would do, simply because you would not allow an individual to choose to leave atheism. That sort of defection from the camp is the unforgivable sin. Such apostasy must be utterly and totally condemned – especially since it might become contagious.

    Indeed, go to earlier posts on my site about Flew, and you will see one atheist after another peddling this idiotic stuff. But here, we have an altogether different spin on things. Poor little Richard – he is getting old, and ‘slowing down a bit’! So we must excuse him when he seems to be all mixed up. Here the prophet and high priest of atheism demonstrates that he is not such a bright after all, and you groupies fall over yourselves trying to make excuses for the poor little fellow.

    But when the world’s foremost atheist and philosopher consciously and deliberately chooses to turn away from the narrow confines of atheism, then you attack him and put it all down to him losing his marbles. Gee your side is a pretty desperate bunch.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  10. Of course Dawkins was stumped, because to reveal the sub title of the Origin of the Species, reveals a dark truth about the book, since it basically shows up the philosophy of Hitler since it talks about the preservation of the favoured races, which Hitler tried to do with great efficiency.
    Ian Nairn

  11. Yes very good point Ian. Since poor Richard did not even know the name of the title of the greatest sacred text for the misotheists, let me share it here for everyone. It certainly is a chilling title indeed:

    The Origin of Species: By Means of Natural Selection or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life (Charles Darwin, 1859)

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  12. I don’t know how many times I hear or read a statement such as what Jamie wrote:
    “a religious world view is incompatible with one that emphasises strict rationality, intellectual honesty, and the scientific method”
    and wonder what level of blindness one needs to employ in order to believe such rot. The mere fact we even ask any intellectual questions at all is in itself a massive problem for a strict naturalistic view of the universe, let alone the importance of finding meaning in life for the vast majority of people.

    Jamie, the reason many people veer away from looking only to science for answers in life is that the answers to the hard questions simply aren’t possible to answer under that paradigm. In my view, so-called sceptics like Dawkins begin to act jelly-spined, evasive and hypocritical when their philosophical worldview is put to the same scrutiny they employ on Christianity. Suddenly all their scepticism becomes blind faith. I find it difficult to respect double standards.

    It seems to me that anybody that claims there is a conflict between science and God clearly has a false concept of God. I see no incompatibility whatsoever. I fail to see that if – for example – somebody develops a more efficient engine, how that has any bearing (no pun intended) on anything to do with the supernatural one way or the other. A proper view of life would embrace both the natural and the intangible in my book, otherwise life is empty and devoid of anything worthwhile like love, music, humour and art.

    As for taking offence about millions of people dying under the worldview of atheism, why then do you think that it’s ok to claim that “countless lives” have been lost and lay (at least in part) the blame on Christianity without us taking offence? Even though the numbers are clearly skewed in one direction? Never mind it seems strange to talk on one hand of strict rationality and then on the other expect deference from others to your emotions.

    I don’t think you’ve properly considered that you have to borrow ideas and concepts from the invisible in order to build your case that it doesn’t exist.

    Mark Rabich

  13. I think Morton’s comment is funny because to me Dawkins is 10 times the theocrat of Muehlenberg. The imposition of beliefs by force (even if it’s only a soft form of tyranny) is quite OK with the great high priest of atheism, so long as they’re the right beliefs – freedom and debate be damned.
    Mark Rabich

  14. Who knows what is actually meant by “strict rationality, intellectual honesty, and the scientific method” as espoused by Jamie.
    Renowned scientist Stephen Hawking has gone to attacking religions recently. And this is the same guy that is terrified of an alien invasion (been watching too many alien-invasion films, have you Stephen?).
    Mark Wong

  15. In 1979 I was allowed to complete my Bachelor degree in Science by taking two courses in religious studies. There was no conflict between the rigorous requirements of my physics, math and engineering courses and the spiritual inspiration provided by theological understanding. Indeed one of our eminent physics professors was an ordained RC priest. (St. Francis Xavier U., Nova Scotia, Canada)
    My current work involves counselling the less fortunate, but I still keep my eye on the sciences and the way science is often misused or misrepresented by most of our popular media sources. It easily becomes used as little more than propaganda in support of certain wealthy interests groups.

    Richard Bunn

  16. Athiests who champion the removal of “blind” faith from science (and culture) are guilty of a double standard.

    Science is a tool which removes supernatural explanations or causes to explain natural events. This is implicit in the methods used. Also implicit is that science should not and cannot attempt to explain the supernatural. Philosophy and Origins are outside the scope of observational science.

    Yet the atheists then turn around and claim that science is all there is! By design, science cannot explain or prove God, but that does not mean the tool explains all there is. There is a jump to a conclusion which is without warrant.

    Athiests have used science to define, or declare the absence of that reality which by definition is excluded from science.

    Lennard Caldwell Clifton QLD

  17. Exactly right Lennard. These guys are not dealing with science here, but scientism. This is the belief that only matter matters, and there is no supernatural. It is a philosophical precommitment, not a scientifically verifiable claim. They have chosen in faith ahead of time to regard only material reality, and then rule out anything which does not fit into their preconceived schema. So it has nothing to do with science, and everything to do with a faith commitment.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  18. Look at all the atheists coming out of the wood work. I see they haven’t lost the pretense they seem so fond of.

    Good to see Richard Dawkins getting exposed. I’ve never been particularly impressed with him. He seems rather impressed with him self though.

    Peter Sanderson

  19. How would you like it if your daughter’s VCE English teacher had you up against a wall all by yourself in class because you said you believed marriage is between a man and a woman? It happened recently in a state school in Melbourne.

    What happened was that this girl dared to pronounce the above belief and the teacher directed the class – all who agree with Jenny (not real name) stand against that wall with her and those who disagree against the other wall. She was left all by herself against one wall! This girl is doing VCE therefore it is all the more important for her future studies that she not be injured and isolated like this.

    While there were others who agreed with her they were too gutless or intimidated to join her. The teacher should apologise don’t you think? I remain very angry.

    Anne-Marie Modra

  20. It’s a gross oversimplification to say the cause of genocide is purely an “animus against religion”, blatantly ignoring the multitude of historical, political and social factors at play here. Also, there are more people and more sophisticated methods of killing in recent centuries, so of course the death count is higher. By the way, there is no blood on my hands, and I’m not uncomfortable in the least.

    This argument is besides the point, anyway, the point being that there is absolutely no evidence for anything supernatural (not to mention that the whole concept of “supernatural” is a flawed one – if it exists, it’s natural). Belief or disbelief in a creator of the universe is one thing; belief in specific religious tenets or fairy tales that have no basis in reality is quite another.

    Jamie Sargeson, Perth

  21. Mark(s), I agree that people historically search for a meaning or greater purpose in life, and the absence of any answers is a reason people turn to faith. I have found sense of relief and enlightenment in philosophy, specifically absurdism, which basically embraces the fact that our lives are ultimately meaningless and our efforts ultimately futile. The resulting freedom allows us to focus on enjoying life and pursuing happiness within the confines of our fleeting existence. We can still appreciate love, music, humour, art, etcetera, while bearing in mind that none of these things have any real significance.

    I don’t see a conflict between science and god, only science and religion (for example, creationism is clearly incompatible with the fact of evolution). I would argue that seeing as “nature” encompasses all that exists, “supernatural” is an invalid concept, and in fact the “intangible” must be considered also “natural”. I acknowledge the possibility of some natural force or final causality in nature comparable to “god” but outside human comprehension.

    By “strict rationality, intellectual honesty, and the scientific method”, I mean that opinions should be formed on the basis of logic, reason and science. Easier said than done, and I endeavour to keep an open mind and continue challenging my conclusions against all I see and hear.

    Jamie Sargeson, Perth

  22. Thanks Jamie

    No proof for the supernatural (the non-material)? But what exactly do you mean by proof? Do you believe in such things as truth, justice, beauty, love, aesthetics, ideas, conscience, to name but a few. Please prove just one of them to me. The silliness of the atheist worldview is so very easily shown up for what it is. No one in the world can live as a consistent atheist. Indeed, let me just ask you one question: are you married? If so, and your wife says she loves you, do you deny it and say love does not exist because it cannot be proven or empirically tested? Any decent wife would give you a good kick in the backside for that sort of foolishness.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  23. Thanks Jamie

    Short answer: if everything is simply absurd, then so too are your comments, in which case why should anyone pay the slightest bit of attention to them?

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  24. Jamie, if “our lives are ultimately meaningless and our efforts ultimately futile” it makes no sense for you to be here repeatedly stamping your feet declaring how utterly useless everything is. Clearly it matters to you that someone disagrees. Yet again, you destroy your own argument.

    Are you not aware that you are brilliantly making my case for me?

    Mark Rabich

  25. I don’t think supernatural means “non-material”, but perhaps rather, “beyond nature”, which must infer no interaction with the material world, in which case I suppose it is unprovable. As I said, I don’t think it is a valid concept, anyway.

    I think truth, justice, beauty, love, aesthetics, ideas and conscience are all constructions of the human mind (which might be considered an incredibly complex biological computer, and conciousness something like the operating system). I’m not married, but I believe love can be boiled down to chemical releases in the brain. There are millions upon millions of potential partners, and which one you choose is arbitrary. This doesn’t make the sensation feel any less real or enjoyable.

    You misunderstand the absurd – it’s not that everything is simply absurd, it’s that the human search for inherent meaning or purpose in the face of a silent, indifferent universe is absurd.

    Things can still matter to us on a personal, impermanent level, but it doesn’t matter to the universe, and it doesn’t matter when we’re all dead. An absurdist keeps an ironic distance between himself and the meaning he creates. He doesn’t confuse the subjective for the objective. This debate is inconsequential if not stimulating, challenging and entertaining, for which reason I continue to stamp my feet. It doesn’t matter to me that someone disagrees unless I allow it to matter.

    I won’t proclaim to be the ultimate authority on any of these issues, only someone who does his best to be honest with himself in his attempts to understand, so of course it’s up to you whether or not you pay the slightest bit of attention. Bill, I am grateful that you have allowed me the opportunity to present my arguments.

    Jamie Sargeson, Perth

  26. Thanks Jamie

    If ideas are just constructs of the mind, and also absurd, then we still find it hugely curious that you keep coming here assuming that somehow your ideas might be true or worth advocating. They are nothing of the sort under your wordview. They are simply absurd words and sounds, which no one should take any notice of.

    And respectfully, we now all know why you are not married. And can I submit, as long as you hold to such patently ‘absurd’ and unhelpful views, you never will be. No wife – or any normal human being for that matter – could ever live with someone who dismisses love as merely that which “can be boiled down to chemical releases in the brain.”

    And again, if any attempt to find meaning is simply futile and an exercise in absurdity, then you really should stop trying so hard to convince us that your views are somehow right or worth arguing for. Absurdity does not offer arguments, it just is. Absurdity is simply absurdity, so why waste your breath?

    If we really did live in a “silent, indifferent universe” then yes you are quite right, it would be absurd. But the good news is, it is not. The creator of that universe speaks to us throughout his creation – we learn from the created world about his power, love of beauty, amazing creativity, incredible mind, and so on.

    But even more than that, he has often spoken to us, and especially through his son Jesus Christ. If you want to know what God is like, look at Jesus. He is God in the flesh, revealing to us what God is all about. And he has also given us a record of himself and his will for us in his written word. So God is not silent, he has spoken, and he craves a love relationship with us. He even said he came to give us life, and abundant life at that. That sure trumps mere ‘chemical releases’ any day of the week.

    The only question worth asking is this: will you listen to what God has said, or will you seek to shut God out of your life? You can pretend he is not there, or in humility you can come to him on his own terms. I pray you find the newness of life that I and so many countless millions of other people have found. I too was once a despairing, suicidal atheist who thought everything was meaningless. But Jesus has turned my life around in remarkable ways.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  27. Jamie, sorry for entering this discussion so late, I was just scanning through the posts now.

    Just one question I have now is this:
    You are open to the idea that there is a “possibility of some natural force or final causality in nature comparable to “god” but outside human comprehension.” This is because you are a rational man, you see things around you and make a logical conclusion. Many atheists deny that they come to this conclusion at all which is what blows my mind sometimes.

    Ok, so you make that conclusion but do you wonder sometimes whether in fact we can know who/what that force is, although we are not able to comprehend it? You do your homework and listen to people’s opinions on the matter and so on and then of course you come across the documents relating to Jesus of Nazareth. He claimed he was (and is) the bodily manifestation of that ‘force’ and that you can know (not necessarily comprehend) that force through him. Some others have also claimed they are God/related to God/in touch with God/whatever and you yourself claim for instance that force/god can’t be comprehended (or known perhaps?). So of all the people with all their stories and claims, who do we believe? And in particular, I’m interested in why you choose not to believe Jesus but you believe others in stead? Why do you trust your ability to discern what is false from what is true?

    Servaas Hofmeyr
    Stellenbosch, South Africa

  28. Mark – Well, seeing as all the studies are inconclusive, and require further scientific investigation, I’ll say there’s not enough evidence to decide which it is yet and so I can’t form an opinion. We’ll have to wait and see.
    Jamie Sargeson, Perth

  29. Jamie I’ve recently read “The Language of God” by Francis Collins the scientist who led and coordinated the mapping of the human genome, an utterly extraordinary scientific achievement ! He is a theist and a brilliant scientist whose book is a very easy and interesting yet impressively erudite text. For someone interested in examining profoundly reasoned and evidence based arguments for Theism it makes convincing reading.You are clearly a reflective person, interested in ideas and knowledge so you would likely enjoy the book I think.
    Anna Cook

  30. Ian Nairn makes an excellent point above saying “of course Dawkins was stumped on the sub title of Darwin’s book, as it speaks of the “preservation of favoured races”, which became Hitler’s genocidal obsession. Also in his flustered state, he came out with “Oh God!” in whom he has no belief. You would think anyone with intelligence would have been aware of the potential pitfall of the subtitle in its dubious odiousness and consequently been well-versed in it. To be fair, he did have a rough idea of the subtitle, which he mumbled later, but the short video clip of the question and answer made Dawkins seem extremely flakey.
    Rachel Smith

  31. To Anne-Marie Modra, that teacher is lucky I was not the girl’s parent because I would be up to that school like a rocket to sort that teacher out quick smart. That young girl’s parents need to deal with this very quickly otherwise the incident will just dissipate and be forgotten.
    Steve Davis

  32. By the way, Jamie, I just wanted to say I appreciate the civility. I am not always that great at it myself and I need to be reminded from time to time. Thanks.
    Mark Rabich

  33. I believe my ideas are worth advocating because they acknowledge, in modesty, the fact that humans simply don’t/can’t know the answers to the great metaphysical questions, as opposed to attempting to provide all the answers within the pages of a single book, and sacrificing reason in the process.

    I’m not married because I believe marriage is just a tradition that somebody made up (also, I’m still relatively young). Just because love is a biological phenomena, doesn’t make it feel any less profound or worthwhile. As a naturalist I believe all human experience (including love) is based on the physical, as opposed to the transcendental. What do you think love boils down to?

    You’re right, it is challenging to meet others who are appreciative of this philosophy, mostly because nobody really thinks about this stuff, and if they do, can find it difficult to accept that it’s all meaningless at the end of the day. I don’t push these ideas on the people I know in real life. I worry about sending people through existential crises, as I have gone through.

    As was said, Jesus claimed he was the bodily manifestation of God, just like many others have. It seems most likely that in fact they were all wrong. All religions believe all the others are wrong. How can we can believe anyone? I was raised as a Christian, have read the bible through, have desperately pleaded to God for guidance, and have eventually rejected irrational religion in favour of a world view based on reason and the reality I see in front of me.

    I’m not despairing or suicidal. I choose to live in the face of the absurd, and in that there is freedom.

    Jamie Sargeson of Perth

  34. Thanks Jamie

    But we might have a case of false modesty here. There is really nothing very virtuous about promoting a worldview which is so nihilistic and untenable as yours. It helps no one – and I dare say it does not even help you. It might make for a nice head-trip, but it offers nothing of value. Just consider your worldview in terms of important moral issues. If everything at the end of the day is simply absurd, then we can no more blame Hitler for killing 6 million Jews than we can praise Mother Teresa for saving the poor lepers and outcasts. Both are morally equivalent on your terms. Thus your system is not just amoral, it is really immoral. It offers no genuine help to anyone, and is simply an abdication of personal and social responsibility. So respectfully I would not be too pleased with yourself for embracing this dead-end belief system.

    And as we say, with your rather subhuman views on love, you will never find any close loving relationships. And we are not talking about things just “feeling profound”. An axe murderer undoubtedly has profound feelings as he chops up his next victim. But in your impoverished worldview, you cannot even condemn him. He is just acting out his biological urges.

    So respectfully, you really have nothing to be proud about here, or anything worth sharing here, in terms of your worldview. It is morally bankrupt and utterly deficient as any way for human beings to live, act and be of use to one another. Thus I urge you to rethink your position, both for the good of yourself, and of others.

    And I have atheists come here all the time telling me they know all about Christianity, but when they are pressed, it is not at all the case. If you are so young as you claim, then any childhood experiences you may have had with Christianity is certainly not what I am talking about. It is as an adult that you need to investigate the truth claims of Christianity. As I say, if you are really so open-minded, then why not try properly and carefully reading the Gospel of Mark or the Gospel of John. Unless your mind is closed like a steel trap, you owe it to yourself to really investigate the most influential person in human history, and not dismiss him so cavalierly.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  35. To Jamie – maybe all mobile phone studies are just another meaningless pursuit.
    Mark Wong

  36. Exactly right Mark

    If all is absurd, then it is of course absurd to even be discussing it. Sorry Jamie, but you will convince no one with your inherently contradictory beliefs. You are kidding yourself and everyone else. You might as well tell us you are absolutely certain that we can never be absolutely certain about anything.

    Respectfully, your beliefs seem to be more of a silly ego trip than anything else. You cannot live consistently with your worldview, nor can anyone else. So it is a bit hard for us to take you seriously here. Your openness to truth will be determined by how soon you jettison this futile and self-destructing worldview.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  37. On truth

    One person would draw a circle and say, “You can live within this circle.” The next person would cross it out and would draw a different circle. The next person would come along and, crossing out the previous circle, draw his own — ad infinitum. So if you start to study philosophy by pursuing the history of philosophy, by the time you are through with all these circles, each one of which has been destroyed by the next, you may feel like jumping off London Bridge!

    But at a certain point this attempt to spin out a unified optimistic humanism came to an end. The philosophers came to the conclusion that they were not going to find a unified rationalistic circle that would contain all thought, and in which they could live. It was as though the rationalist suddenly realized that he was trapped in a large round room with no doors and no windows, nothing but complete darkness. From the middle of the room he would feel his way to the walls and begin to look for an exit. He would go round the circumference, and then the terrifying truth would dawn on him that there was no exit, no exit at all! In the end the philosophers came to the realization that they could not find this unified rationalistic circle and so, departing from the classical methodology of antithesis, they shifted the concept of truth, and modern man was born. Francis Schaeffer

    Jesus Christ boldly claimed “I am the way the truth and the life …”

    So was Jesus Lord, a liar, or a lunatic? He is Lord. Truth.

    People who refuse to believe the truth make up different ‘truths’. Because those belief systems continue to fail, their truth has now become that there is no truth.

    Annette Nestor

  38. Jamie, What a roundabout way to get there. Would have been less irritating and much better use of time, if you just forwarded your last entry. So you’re grappling with God, your young and it’s about dying to self. Remember the true you, is absurd, so hand it over to God and he will clean it up.
    Daniel Kempton

  39. Roundabout way to get where? Way to and completely misunderstand and intentionally belittle everything I’ve said. I’m not “grappling with God”, I realized the concept of a personal god was ludicrous a decade ago. Being “young” (early 20s) doesn’t invalidate my words or my convictions. I hesitantly decided to let you in on my Christian upbringing to give you an idea where I’m coming from.
    Jamie Sargeson, Perth

  40. Hi Jamie

    “I was raised as a Christian, have read the bible through, have desperately pleaded to God for guidance, and have eventually rejected irrational religion in favour of a world view based on reason and the reality I see in front of me.”

    Very similar to my own story: was raised Christian, noticed all the opposing worldviews, realised all could not be true (or even none of them), cried out to God, was very tempted to tell myself ‘truth can’t be known’ (not to knock you, this is how it happened) and it became very clear to me that Jesus’ claims are the only ones that makes sense of this world, my personal situation and desires – all others are ultimately irrational. And when I reacted to how Jesus urges us to react to what he revealed about himself, the outcome was as he said it would be – freedom through salvation in him.

    So it is me and you, two men experiencing the exact same life/reality both claiming they are rational and coming to the exact opposite conclusions.

    I can’t say you haven’t explored all there is to explore because I do not know you but my obvious suspicion, taking into account my own experience is that you haven’t.

    My question remains: on what account do you reject Jesus’ claims about himself and life and believe others?

    Feel free to ask me the opposite: on what account do I believe Jesus’ account and reject so-and-so’s theories on life?

    Servaas Hofmeyr, South Africa

  41. Morality is a perplexing issue but I definitely don’t think there is a set standard for what is right and what is wrong, nor any universal force of “good” or “evil”. Perhaps a useful moral code for society can be deduced from mutual self interest, that is, live and let live. Beyond that, there are no boundaries. I think morality is certainly subjective. Hitler obviously thought race purification was the “right” thing to do. Hebrews and early Christians thought slavery was “right”.

    Perhaps I will go back and reread the gospels some time, but I might as well read the old testament, or the Qur’an, or the Buddhist and Hindu texts, or about dianetics, or tales from the dreamtime.

    As for being a utterly deficient way to live, I’m managing to get by without too much difficulty so far. The ideas and implications of Absurdism have been a source of tremendous relief for me, as if an enormous weight was lifted off my shoulders.

    Absurdity arises out of the realisation that the human search for objective meaning is ultimately fruitless. I like to consider living in the face of futility a heroic struggle. Accepting that nothing matters frees us up to spend our lives as we please, pursue what we wish to and attempt to make the most of each moment in the knowledge that this moment is all we will ever have.

    I think I’ll leave it there. I originally commented because references to atheists as “militant”, “arrogant”, “intolerant”, “misotheists” and “deluded” in combination with Warsi’s flawed arguments in the original post made my blood boil. As said, I appreciate the thought provoking scrutiny on my philosophic beliefs. If anyone else is struggling to get by without the crutch of baseless religious belief, I recommend reading the works of Albert Camus.

    Jamie Sargeson, Perth

  42. Thanks Jamie

    But the moral poverty and bankruptcy of your position is getting more obvious with each passing comment. No set standard of morality? So then we certainly cannot say Hitler and the Holocaust was wrong. And if I track you down, slowly torture you to death for the fun of it, then feed you to my dogs, none of us can say it was wrong. Crap just happens right?

    And your hubris is showing up again I am afraid. Sure you are getting along fine just now. For heaven’s sake, you have only been on the planet for two lousy decades. Wait til some real issues creep into your life. I don’t think your hollow worldview will get you very far them.

    And Christianity is just a crutch? Maybe when you get a bit older you will come to realise that when you are lame, a crutch can be a very useful thing indeed.

    But can I highlight one crucial point? You inform us that you are in your early twenties, and that ten years ago you rejected Christianity. Do you realise how bizarre this sounds? So as a twelve-year-old you had somehow fully managed to investigate all there is to life, studied all the world’s great religions, examined all the noted philosophers, and decided that absurdity was the only worldview worth running with. Wow, that is some 12-year-old kid! I was playing baseball and reading comic books at that age.

    So we just ignore all the other great intellects of history – many of whom I listed before – and say, yep, a 12-year-old kid is running rings around them. As I say, your ego seems to be showing here a bit. A little more humility might allow you to go back and revisit some of these matters. I really don’t think you managed to grasp it all as a mere child.

    But again, the ball is in your court. You can admit that you are not the centre of the universe, and that there is truth out there, and begin an earnest quest, and not give us this silliness about your big spiritual journey being all wrapped up by 12.

    Really Jamie! BTW, still praying for you!

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  43. I know I planned on stopping posting but when directly asked questions I feel compelled to reply.

    “On what account do you reject Jesus’ claims about himself and life and believe others?”

    My answer remains: I have a general principle of not believing anyone who tries to tell me they have the ultimate answers on how we got here and for what reason, and especially not anyone who claims to be the embodiment of God.

    I will ask you a version of the opposite – how can you believe that Christianity is the correct religion, and the billions of individuals who have the misfortune to be predestined by God to believe otherwise are condemned to an eternity of torture and suffering in the fiery pits of hell?

    Bill, I recognize I was hasty in saying I realized “the concept of personal god was ludicrous” ten years ago, rather, that was when I started entertaining my doubts. I didn’t come to that conclusion until much later.

    Bill, do you agree that morality is subjective? Where do you think morality comes from? Is there a set standard? Did God not say it’s alright to sell your daughter into slavery? Did he change his mind?

    Jamie Sargeson, Perth

  44. To say that all morality comes from god and religion is just erroneous. Morality in our society has improved by leaps and bounds and recent centuries (women’s rights, abolishing slavery, gay rights, etc). These changes have nothing to do with religion or god.
    Jamie Sargeson, Perth

  45. Thanks again Jamie

    Hey, I will keep seeking to answer as long as you keep asking honest questions. Of course morality is objective. If it is not, then we cannot condemn Hitler or praise Mother Teresa, as I said. Answer me this Jamie: did you ever unjustly get run off the road, or did some car cut you off while driving, or any number of things which got you angry and caused you to shake your fist, or maybe even raise a finger in protest? Of course you have. But what was that all about, if all morality is subjective and just a matter of personal opinion, like your preference for a flavour of ice cream?

    You knew it was wrong, and you knew he knew it was wrong. That is, you fully assumed that the both of you were subject to a standard that is outside of yourself, that is objective, and that acts as an arbiter between disputes. You expect the culprit to agree with you that this was wrong. But why should he, unless there is an objective moral code that you are both subject to? These things do not come out of thin air. If something is really wrong, then what is the grounding or basis for it? Mere personal preference obviously will not do here.

    And God of course is that perfect moral being whose character is the source of right and wrong. Because he is true, it is wrong to lie. Because he gives life, it is wrong to murder, etc. He created us in his image, so we are personal moral beings just as he is. His laws are written in our hearts – we have a conscience and know intuitively that certain things are right or wrong. But because of the fall, we have all sinned, rejected God, and our moral radar is greatly distorted. That is why God gave us his word to show us what his moral requirements are, and that is why Jesus came, to die for our sins, and make it possible for us to get right with God again.

    As to slavery, it was already in existence in all cultures at the time. What God did was actually make commands about it which greatly alleviated it, and softened it. Then of course by the time Jesus comes on the scene, this is even further emphasised. So at the end of the day, it was not atheist, and it certainly was not existentialists like you or Camus who fought the slave trade, but biblical Christians like Wilberforce and Finney and others.

    So here you go again, showing the glaring deficiencies in your own worldview. If everything is absurd, who gives a rip about slavery or anything else? And no one with that worldview is going to lift a finger over slaves. Why should they? They certainly have no ideological reason to do so.

    As to women’s rights, etc, you are confusing objective moral standards with changing human approximations of them. In fact, you have here perfectly demolished you own case. You seem to assume that somehow it is a good thing that women have advanced over the years. But by what standard Jamie? If all morality is subjective and personal, then who is to say it is good that women progress? Indeed, for many centuries the surrounding culture was content to have women viewed as second class citizens. So if there is no objective standard which says women should be equal in dignity to men, then to even be concerned about this makes no sense whatsoever. But you seem to be concerned about it. So bingo: you are not really a true believer in absurdity. You talk as if things like slavery and other issues are not morally good. Again, we need an outside standard to be able to make such a moral claim – it sure does not fit in your worldview. And BTW, while all cultures basically accepted the inferiority of women, only one did not: Jesus and Christianity changed the Western world in this regard. Only Jesus, of all the religions and philosophies at the time, took seriously the rights and wellbeing of women.

    But if all this is not just mere rhetorical questioning on your part, I have written much about this elsewhere, and I suggest you read up further here:

    If, after you have read these posts, and still have questions, then feel free to ask some more. Thanks again,

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  46. BTW Jamie, a leading theistic philosopher has written a very cogent, rational, and intelligent book on another existentialist: Sartre. It is online (or maybe good hunks of it), and is well worth a read. See here:

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  47. Jamie,

    Actually, the bible never claims to have “all the answers”, just enough for us to make a decision for God and the saviour he gave us, Jesus. The contention we must sacrifice reason is 180 degrees from the truth. God actually respects our freedom enough to stop short of making it so obvious we would not need to think about it. But in my view He only stops just a very small step from that point. And even when it is pretty clear, some people still choose death over life. Witness the fact that one of the thieves being crucified next to Jesus presumably did not repent, although he had access to the same information and experience that the other had. They had both started out abusing Jesus.

    To the subject of information:

    “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.” – Romans 1:18-20

    Consider when Jesus tells the story about the man in hell pleading to Abraham for the beggar Lazarus to come back from the dead for his brother’s sakes
    ‘”…if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’ “He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’” – Luke 16:30-31

    So from God’s perfect perspective, there is literally more than enough information – which is verified by the fact that many believers exist. Obviously they believe for some reason!

    But then on the subject of revealed knowledge and other things that God deliberately keeps hidden:

    “The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law.” Deut 29:29

    “Listen to my words:
    “When there is a prophet among you,
    I, the LORD, reveal myself to them in visions,
    I speak to them in dreams.
    But this is not true of my servant Moses;
    he is faithful in all my house.
    With him I speak face to face,
    clearly and not in riddles;

    he sees the form of the LORD.” – Num 12:6-8

    Moses, unlike most of the rest of us, gets straight answers from God for straight questions. Why? Well, why not? It’s God prerogative. (Which is also a point worth considering!) And it’s not as if Moses kept hidden the reality of God from us. He wrote the first 5 books of the bible! (and one Psalm.)

    Also in Revelation John writes this:
    “And when the seven thunders spoke, I was about to write; but I heard a voice from heaven say, “Seal up what the seven thunders have said and do not write it down.” – Rev 10:4

    Daniel recorded this:
    “But you, Daniel, roll up and seal the words of the scroll until the time of the end. Many will go here and there to increase knowledge.” – `Dan 12:4

    “I heard, but I did not understand. So I asked, “My lord, what will the outcome of all this be?” He replied, “Go your way, Daniel, because the words are rolled up and sealed until the time of the end. Many will be purified, made spotless and refined, but the wicked will continue to be wicked. None of the wicked will understand, but those who are wise will understand.” – Dan 12:8-10

    It actually says there that although some things are hidden, the wise will figure out enough, but others will not get it even as they go to considerable effort to search for knowledge. The reason is that their motivations are wrong! They care only about themselves, not God! The bible called them “wicked”.

    So why would God consistently do this kind of thing? I submit it is ultimately for our own safety and/or benefit. A hint is in Genesis 11 when the population of the earth began to build the Tower of Babel:

    v1 Now the whole world had one language and a common speech.
    v6-8 The LORD said, “If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.” So the LORD scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city.”

    Interesting that Revelation at the other end of the bible talks of one-world systems of governance and finance, simultaneous with great evil. I have to trust that God knows what He is doing and has probably done all this (including keeping certain things hidden) to restrain evil and maximise the opportunity for grace and forgiveness. The other ‘bookend’ worth mentioning is the tree of life in Genesis 2:9 and Rev 22:2. The plan is to make things right – fully fix the things that have been broken for thousands of years – and do a complete job of it.

    “What no eye has seen,
    what no ear has heard,
    and what no human mind has conceived”
    the things God has prepared for those who love him – 1 Cor 2:9

    Enough information is available, Jamie, and Abraham’s answer to the man in hell is still valid. You just need to abandon your flawed preconceptions – and your desire to be in charge – not your reason.

    Mark Rabich

  48. If there is, as you claim, some mystical, objective moral standard and indeed it has been defined by the Christian god, mustn’t Hitler and the entire population of Nazi’s known, intuitively, what they were doing was “wrong”? Mustn’t Muslim’s know that it is inherently “wrong” to stone a woman to death for adultery, or cut off a man’s hand for theft? Mustn’t cannibalistic tribes know, deep down, that they are “wrong” for eating other human beings?

    Mustn’t anyone who has sex outside of marriage feel intuitively that they are doing “wrong”?Mustn’t homosexuals “know” that they are committing “evil” acts? Mustn’t anyone who worships a god besides the Judeo-Christian one know deep down that they are worshipping a false god?

    How could an omnipotent, omniscient God allow the existence of slavery in all cultures at the time if he did not endorse it? Why else would he dictate specific values for men and women? How can Christians pick and choose which rules are applicable from the bible?

    Why would a benevolent God put the tree of life in the garden of Eden if he knew his children would eat from it?

    I still think morality is just a matter of perspective. Everyone thinks its the other fellow who is the immoral one! And of course it is convenient for one who follows a certain religion to think that his God’s system of morality is the objective one.

    As I pondered earlier, I think a basic moral code for society might be determined rationally from mutual self interest. We are all individual consciousnesses, and we all share the same planet. Nobody wants another to do them harm (i.e., commit force or fraud) or encroach upon their freedom. Extrapolated, nobody should do another harm or encroach upon their freedom. Perhaps this could considered the basic guideline for what is ethical and what is not (dare I say, the golden rule?).

    And of course, none of this matters when we take into consideration that it all takes place on one infinitesimal rock hurtling through an incomprehensible cosmos. Thanks again for the interesting discussion. I only wish I could more elucidate my positions more skilfully.

    Jamie Sargeson, Perth

  49. Thanks Jamie

    There is nothing mystical about morality. It is just as real and important as are love, truth, beauty, joy, the imagination, and so on.

    And you apparently have not read the articles I suggested. I already stated that our moral apparatus is badly damaged because of sin. We do not see things as we ought to see them. Imagine a man born totally colour blind: he would likely scoff at your descriptions of a beautiful colourful rainbow. His sight is greatly tainted, so he cannot see things as they really are.

    Sin has damaged not only our moral makeup, but our intellectual makeup as well. That is why people come up with nonsense like self-destructing philosophies of absurdism. Any bizarre theory will be clutched at rather than admitting that we are not God, and we will all one day bow to him.

    But having said that, we are still all made in God’s image, so we still all retain some basic notions of morality. As C.S. Lewis so brilliantly pointed out, all cultures agree upon basic strands of morality. All agree that certain things are always wrong for all people at all times. Let me try just one, since you have not replied to my previous example. Do you think it is ever right to torture kittens to death for the mere fun of it? Yes or no Jamie?

    So there is in fact a largely agreed upon understanding of basic right and wrong. That of course cannot come from mere personal preference, but from an objective moral standard which transcends us and to which we are all accountable to.

    As to your other queries, it all comes down to love – something which you earlier made clear you do not really know much about – at least not yet. Sorry, but love is not mere chemical reactions in the brain. It is the greatest thing in the universe. And God loves us and respects our freedom so much, that we might love him in return, that he did not create us to be automatons. He created us with free will. One day you may learn the truth of the old saying: “better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all.” That is God’s thinking on this. He took the risk of making us free moral agents so that we might freely love him, and enjoy a love relationship with him. That of course must include then the possibility that many will reject that love. So be it. Better real love, and the possibility of its abuse, than no love at all.

    If and when you actually learn to love someone, perhaps marry, and have kids, you will then know exactly what this is all about. You will love your children, even knowing they may resist that love and reject you and spurn you. It will hurt like all get out, but that is the price of love. You know you cannot coerce your kids into loving you – it must come freely, or it is not real love.

    That is how you – and all of us – are with God as well. Fortunately some of us have responded to his outreach of love, laid down our arms, given up our juvenile rebellion, and admitted we were created to have a love relationship with God, and nothing else will be able to take that place. But tragically some will not

    And please spare us this “rational self interest” baloney. When you get around to studying some history, you will learn that we have been there and done that. All throughout human history that has been attempted, and the results were horrendous. Hitler and the Germans thought they were doing that very thing. Their rational self interest led to the concentration camps and the death of millions.

    And if you really truly believe that “none of this matters” then please don’t waste our time here. With all due respect, we prefer to talk to people who know that these things very well matter. Life and death matter greatly. Right and wrong matter greatly. Truth and error matter greatly. If this is just some jolly little head trip here where you are enjoying having your intellectual palette tickled, then please take it elsewhere. These are life and death issues of eternal consequence, not the stuff of little theoretical debates. Life is real serious, in others words. I for one am not really all that keen on “interesting discussions”. I am interested in the truth. I hope you are too.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  50. Jamie

    You seem to want to sweep everything of meaning within human culture under the rug of mental projection. But how do you propose to explain mental processes in purely naturalistic terms?

    This is a perennial problem in the philosophy of mind and consciousness studies vis. how to account for the intentionality (the aboutness of propositional attitudes represented by a that-clause like believing “that it is raining outside” or hoping “it will not rain tomorrow”) and phenomenal first-person-ness that is inherent to mental properties.

    Philosophers haven’t got a clue how to deal with it. I’m guessing you would say that all mental states are just neuro-chemical processes. But neuro-chemical processes aren’t about anything; they have no inherent directedness and there is no first-person-ness to physical states. Therefore you have to say that mental states are really something other than what we think they are. You are, to paraphrase Jerry Fodor, saying that mental states are really something else!

    This is all just sweeping the problem under the rug to me (you have to explain mental states, not eliminate them all together) and represents the paucity of the naturalist worldview. (On the other hand you can accept that mental states really exist as they are but then how to explain their coming into existence except by saying there is inherent teleology in the natural world?)

    Damien Spillane

  51. No, of course I don’t think it’s right to torture kittens to death. Somebody else might think its right, though. In some Asian countries they torture dogs to death because they think it makes them taste better. A matter of perspective, even on this extreme issue. The Nazi’s clearly did others harm, which according to my theory of mutual self interest is unethical. I am very interested in what’s true and what isn’t, and I am also very interested in interesting discussions. I too have loved and lost. I still don’t believe in the transcendental, however. I thought I had made clear that I truly believe none of it matters.
    Jamie Sargeson, Perth

  52. Thanks Jamie

    Either it is right or it is wrong, end of story – spare us this nonsense that it’s all a matter of perspective. Same with the Nazis. They thought what they were doing was right, good and helpful, and according to their ‘theory of mutual self interest it was ethical’. With no objective morality, we have nothing to say to them. Nor do you. So stop talking about them causing harm. There is no such thing in your view.

    As to your last remark: then please stop coming here trying to persuade us that your views matter. I just am not into such juvenile games. Really.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  53. “I will ask you a version of the opposite – how can you believe that Christianity is the correct religion, and the billions of individuals who have the misfortune to be predestined by God to believe otherwise are condemned to an eternity of torture and suffering in the fiery pits of hell?”

    To start of, I believe Jesus lived and walked this earth and proclaimed that he was the Son of God. Some times in more hidden messages and other times more straight forward. The way he fulfilled ancient prophecies through His life, the way what he preached makes practical sense in my life, makes practical sense of life around me – it fulfills me both intellectually and existentially – lead me to conclude He could be trusted. And amidst all that I realised my life was not good and perfect and I had serious lack so I responded by asking Him to work His salvation in me. He did then work it in me and still does. I see his manifest power in and around me and among my friends also walking with Him.

    I can’t say i fully understand the process by which people will enter hell but i do trust Jesus and therefore trust Him when says that’s how it will be.

    Servaas Hofmeyr, South Africe

  54. Thanks Bill for your link for Jamie, entitled “Atheism, Darwinism and Morality” which I found very enlightening. It talked of the age-old conflict between sexual restraint and desire for sex unfettered(pun intended!) by morality, the Epicurian philosophy and Theo phobia, the ” cosmic authority problem” as discussed by prominent writers and thinkers. This sheds light to me on the LGTBQ lobby in their incessant quest for unlimited sex and the necessary erasing of God from the equation. It also sheds light for me on Obamacare, which appears to condone unrestrained recreational sex, with any unwanted side effect such as disease or unwanted pregnancy to be taken care of and paid for by diligent risk-averse solvent people. “Abstinence” is a word not allowed in education programmes in the US and the low expectation of a lack of responsibility is expected and catered for. I realise that abortion can be obtained on the English National Health service but the difference is that people are not encouraged in advance that they have rights to have unlimited sex.

    All this in turn seems to emanate from the idea that it is unfair for women to be burdened with giving birth to babies and having to mind them rather than being free to do what they want, as men are erroneously supposed to.

    I came across an article which gives a valuable insight into What’s behind the war against religion?” and it hightlights each cog in the wheel which has been taken and turned around anti clockwise. The link is below. Apologies is this has strayed from the original topic but I for one have found it a fascinating winding road to discovery, following all these links.

    Rachel Smith

  55. Jamie, I have to ask why anyone should accept your ‘theory of mutual self-interest’. If the universe (and the mind) is merely atoms banging around, then why should we care about anyone’s self-interest? Also, why should your ethical system come before, say, the Nazis’? What makes the way the atoms bounce under your system so much better than the way they bounced under the Nazi regime?
    Furthermore, you keep on saying that even though something matters little in the grand scheme of things, it can still be important to you. But this is flawed, because under an atheistic worldview, there is no ‘you’ for it to be important to. All your thoughts, all your personality – it’s nothing but chemical reactions. You are a bag of chemicals, not a person. Indeed, under atheism, the concept of a ‘person’ is itself flawed. What you feel as pleasure or pain is an illusion – in fact, the idea of you feeling anything is an illusion, because you as a person don’t really exist. Atheism destroys all that makes us human – love, free will, emotions, hopes, personalities and identities are all not only meaningless, but a mere illusion.
    So under atheism, something cannot even be subjectively important. One day, after enough deep thought, you may finally realise the utter bleakness of your worldview.
    Finally, Bill here deals more with moral and socio-cultural issues than with apologetics. If you want to read more about evidence for the truth of the Bible, I’d suggest checking out some apologetics websites, like for a start.
    Justin Nowland

  56. Thanks guys

    But since Jamie has made it quite clear that this is all one big game for him, and he doesn’t give a rip about anything anyway, then we will be wasting no more time with him. As I have said so often before, I will spend all the time in the world with those who are genuine, and are asking honest questions, and are sincerely seeking truth. But those who come here just to stroke their egos, to play their little head games, or to argue for argument’s sake I will not spend any time with. These issues are far too important to allow them to degenerate into mere stupid games. So we can keep praying for him, and that is about all at this point.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

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