Modern atheism is suffering a great deal. This is due to the growth of a new, evangelical type of atheism. Many have labeled its adherents the “New Atheists”. They’re new only in the sense of mission, drive, purpose, and appeal. There’s nothing new in their arguments. Nothing has been discovered that should increase their enthusiasm.

5 Ways to Be a Better Atheist

Nevertheless, here they are. And despite my claim that they’re suffering, their impact is far-reaching. Their appearance on the cultural center stage is truly affecting people’s beliefs: confirming some in their atheism and causing many theists to tremble.

In spite of this, I believe that this movement is in desperate need of help. While they’re having an effect, its intellectual weaknesses will cut it short.

The New Atheists – A Movement In Need of Help

The New Atheists are filled with emotional rage, relying on their personalities for inspiration. I have some advice to help shape them during this volatile time in their history. Ironically, I truly want them to listen and improve. Why? Because I want every worldview to have good representation. It does me no good in my pursuit of truth to have my worldview challenged by an impotent and weakly opponent. Modern atheism can improve in five key areas which I’ll lay out in detail below.

1. Make More Concessions.

After listening to and reading many of the most popular atheists today, I’ve found that (generally speaking) there’s an incredible lack of intellectual honesty. These volumes are filled with claims that smack of propaganda:

  • Christianity has no evidence.
  • Theism is completely irrational.
  • People believe in God because they are uneducated.
  • To be a Christian is to commit intellectual suicide.

I wish this was the exception and that most public atheists didn’t speak in such a way, but it’s not, and, they do.

Don’t get me wrong… I understand the atheist who says that the case for theism is not compelling enough or, for them, does not make a sufficient case. But to say that there is no evidence for God or that Christianity requires a lack of education is not only an incredible overstatement it’s intellectually uninformed at best and dishonest at worst.

Every atheist knows that there is evidence for God. There are reasons to believe in the resurrection of Christ. There’s much strength in the traditional arguments for theism. The atheist needs to make such concessions. This does not mean that they believe that this evidence warrants belief, it simply recognizes that a case can be made for God that doesn’t require a frontal lobotomy.

Concessions do nothing but help you in the marketplace of ideas. Dismissive overstatements are for manipulation of the populace and as “red meat” for the already initiated. If you truly don’t believe their is any evidence for theism or Christianity and that both are completely irrational, I’d be forced to suppose that you’ve been blinded by your emotions and your prejudices have disqualified you from real intellectual engagement.

Bart Erhman (who is not technically an atheist) is the only one that I have seen on center stage who is wise enough to make such concessions.

2. Kill the “Flying Spaghetti Monster”

The “Flying Spaghetti Monster,” as I am sure you are well aware, is an illustrative tool that has become rather popular in your circles. The basic idea is that there is as much warrant for my belief in God as is your belief (were it present) in a “flying spaghetti monster”. The moment you use this, I think one of two things:

  1. You know better, yet you use this hoping the emotional propaganda will be enough to do the job.
  2. You really think it’s a good illustration.

In the latter case, I’d say you have not studied this issue properly and you need to research that hiatus. The “Flying Spaghetti Monster” routine doesn’t even engage the theism issue. Let me explain.

There are two steps to the process of entering the “existence of God” debate. First, one must establish the existence of a “necessary being.” At this point, the “necessary being” remains nameless. During this stage, one does not identify this being as Jesus, Allah, Thor, Zeus, or the Flying Spaghetti Monster. This stage is very philosophical and has nothing to do with how this being looks, acts, or directs his will. The question here is, is there an uncaused cause, an unmoved mover, a necessary being, or a sufficient and personal explanation for all existence. Once, this is established (and only if it’s established) do we move to the second step and begin to name this being by identifying its particular characteristics.

With the spaghetti monster illustration, the atheist makes the mistake of starting with the second step and uses emotionally charged assertions, which have no relevance to the issue of God’s existence until it has been established. Describing God as a “moral monster” or a “Flying Spaghetti Monster” does nothing but reject characteristics that God may or may not have and use these characteristics to ridicule the idea of His existence. But, again, what God is like does not have any bearing on whether a Necessary Being (God) exists. It would be like saying the institution of marriage cannot exist because Husband Joe is a ridiculous slob and could never get a wife. While it may be true that Husband Joe could not be expected to get a wife, this has nothing to do with whether marriage exists.

3. Admit the Weaknesses of their Position

Of course, if emotional propaganda is your primary way to gain votes, this will never work. For those who are only interested in manipulating the masses, you must have your clothes ironed, your tie straight, deodorant on, and gait stable. Showing insecurity in any area will quiet the crowds and make them begin to think, if not make them shuffle out the door. Frankly, this seems to be the last thing you want them to do these days. It’s politics on the stage of religion. That’s not what we are after, right?

However, if you want people like me (who are really interested in the issue) to listen to you, admit your weaknesses. It gives a barometer to your honesty, both to yourself and to me. I already know your weaknesses, but wonder if you’re secure enough to admit them. If you aren’t, it’s really easy for me to write you off and quit listening.  More importantly, admitting your weaknesses gives a platform for your strengths that will last beyond the emotional high that false confidence fuels.

Concede a weak point of your worldview. Concede that atheism does not have a strong explanation for the existence of morals. If you’re honest and say morals don’t exist (which I respect a lot more), again, recognize how difficult this is.

Concede that atheism’s greatest weakness is its inability to explain where existence came from. Always appeal to the pursuit of the truth, even if it’s at the expense of making people feel good. Once you do this, you’ll disarm me, and I’ll be more apt (even though I might be uncomfortable) to listen to you. If you don’t do this, it’s easy for me to write you off as naive (which would make me comfortable).

4. Be More Open Minded

This whole idea of “free thinking” and “open mindedness” is being claimed by you atheists. You must understand, this doesn’t make sense at all. You’re asking people to abandon one worldview with its beliefs and propositions for another worldview with a different set of beliefs and propositions. How is one open-minded and the other is not? In what way are atheists more “free” than theists?

The only freedom gained in atheism is moral freedom (for those who choose to go in that direction). Intellectual freedom (free thinking) is not attained at all (at least from what I can see). The atheist is not free to believe in God and remain an atheist, is he? Nor is the atheist free to believe in prayer?

The atheist has just as many obligations that bind the intellect as any other worldview. In fact, I would think atheism has less intellectual freedom than theism. After all, atheism exists in a naturalistic box. It literally cannot think outside the box! In the real world, when something happens that cannot be explained, the atheist, unlike the theist, is not able to claim a miracle. You have to be closed-minded. You cannot truly examine all the evidence and follow it where it leads. If it leads to the miraculous (as the resurrection of Christ may), you’re out of luck. That road is closed. Atheism closes your mind to some options.

5. Stop Trying to Position Atheism as Merely a Lack of Belief

Atheists generally don’t like being called “atheists”. Most will tentatively accept the designation while claiming there’s nothing better and making sure the proper qualifications are in order.

They’ll say, “We don’t believe or claim to know that there are no gods, we simply lack belief in any gods.” They think this keeps the burden of proof off their shoulders. “After all,” they say, “we don’t have to provide evidence for our lack of belief in leprechauns. We are not aleprechaunist, just as those who don’t believe in Thor are athorists.”

Again, this is an attempt to shift (dare we say avoid) the burden of proof. The atheist positions himself as judge declairing arguments to be “convincing” or “not convincing” But this attempt fails in at least two ways:

First, people are not called aleprechaunists or athorists because there is no significant movement in either area which promotes and argues for a belief in such things. Therefore, it is only natural that there be no such formal designations. And until such circumstances warrant investigation in these areas, it will remain this way. If circumstances change, we will take sides that will have formal names.

Second (and most importantly), your belief system is not neutral.  Lack a belief in God is only part of a worldview. One’s worldview is produced by asking many questions that include and often depend on belief in God:

  • Is there such a thing as morality?
  • Does man have free will?
  • Why is there something rather than nothing?
  • What is the basis for rationality?

By answering these questions, you are creating a worldview (your system of presuppositions and beliefs). All of these are issues of transcendence. The atheist has to answer the question, ”Why is there something” according to the atheistic worldview. The atheist has to justify their belief in rationality. The atheist must give reason for the existence of free will. While the word “atheist” may give the impression that it only has to do with a lack of belief in God, the reality is that they are “naturalists” (often materialists) and, as such, must give a positive explanation for the claims of their worldview.

I had a few more, but I’m already past my word count.

Both Christians and non-christians must defend their worldview. While this is certainly not always the case, I see an increasing number of Christians doing this well, honestly engaging the issues.

This is just the opposite with atheism. I rarely (if ever) see atheists who are seeking truth more than they are seeking emotional confirmation. Most atheists are fundamentalists with lots of claims to intellectual engagement, but little evidence of it.

I pray these points of encouragement will help you out. If this fails to circulate among the crowd it was intended for, my hope is that Christians can see it as applicable for us as well. These are axioms (basic foundational truths) for all areas of knowledge and effective communication. Unfortunately, the more passionately a belief held, the less likely these will come naturally. We have to work at this.

cta-free-28min-video-of-apologetics


C Michael Patton
C Michael Patton

C. Michael Patton is the primary contributor to the Parchment and Pen/Credo House Blog. He has been in ministry for nearly twenty years as a pastor, author, speaker, and blogger. Th.M. Dallas Theological Seminary (2001), president of Credo House Ministries and Credo Courses, author of Now that I'm a Christian (Crossway, 2014) Increase My Faith (Credo House, 2011), and The Theology Program (Reclaiming the Mind Ministries, 2001-2006), host of Theology Unplugged, and primary blogger here at Parchment and Pen. But, most importantly, husband to a beautiful wife and father to four awesome children. Michael is available for speaking engagements. Find him everywhere: Find him everywhere

    236 replies to "5 Ways to Be a Better Atheist"

    • C Michael Patton

      Paul,

      Thanks for that. Very helpful. What do you think is the strongest evidence for God’s existence?

      As for his non-existence, my argument would be (hands down) his silence, especially in times of trouble. I would say his silence is a convenient “loophole” in a world that functions just like you would expect of he did not exist.

      And this is much more than an objective argument that I have found, it is very personal. He has been most silent to me when all I needed was one little sign.

      Obviously I have to find a way to make this fit, and I do. But it is messy and I don’t need to let you know how I do it.

      • Paul Short

        “Obviously I have to find a way to make this fit, and I do. But it is messy and I don’t need to let you know how I do it.”

        What does that mean?

      • Bob Seidensticker

        Michael: I’ve heard many Christians say that they occasionally wrestle with doubt. Some have said that *every* Christian does, and then they encourage the doubter to push through the doubt, knowing the rightness of the Christian position.

        Most atheists that I know are different in that (1) they don’t care about supporting a presupposition but in finding the truth. Show me the evidence and I’m there. Who wants to back the wrong horse?

        And (2) there’s never any doubt. I’m not certain that there is no god, but I have no doubt that that’s where the evidence points. I never come across some confluence of life events or arguments that makes me wonder if there is a god.

      • Bob Seidensticker

        “He has been most silent to me when all I needed was one little sign.”

        Mother Teresa is remembered for similar doubts. I find her story poignant. She said, “the silence and the emptiness is so great” and “I have no Faith … [the thoughts in my heart] make me suffer untold agony.”

      • chaya1957

        I think you are saying that if you are honest and vulnerable, your position is more likely to be considered? I think this opens up dialogue, but behind that honest, vulnerable person is still a tether to a rigid, dogmatic belief.

    • C Michael Patton

      Konrad,

      You said:

      “I’m not aware of any evidence for god. I’m aware of some claims that x is evidence but all of the ones I’ve encountered so far are open to other explanatiens, so can’t really be called evidence.”

      I say: fair enough.

    • C Michael Patton

      That it is a difficult issue that causes me trouble. And that my answer to this has no relevance right now as our current context is about admitting difficulties, not solving them. If I attempted to solve it for you then we would lose sight about how hard God’s silence is.

    • meggan

      What I don’t get is why believers, in what ever god or gods you follow. Feel as if they have to prove anything. Do you not understand the definition of faith? Faith is defined as believing in something when there is no proof it even exists. When ever I have been drug in to a debate with a militant atheists, there is a difference. At some point I am told that I have the burden of prof because I am the one who has made a claim. To which I reply, no, I have made a claim of faith which clearly requires no prof, while you are telling me that science has disproven God. So you are the one making a claim of fact and therefore you are the one with the burden of prof. I have yet to receive such prof.

      • Jimmy

        Then why is there a field of study called “apologetics” ??

        The problem comes when those with faith (not proof of what they’re saying) start tying to legislate based on their faith. If you’re going to make demands about what those without faith have to do with their lives, then, at a minimum, you should be forced to offer up some evidence(s).

        • William

          Absolutely agree with that.

      • William

        Meggan. I don’t think that is a good or accurate definition of faith.
        ‘Faith’ is the anglicized version of the latin word ‘fide’ which means ‘trust’.
        Like if you sit on a chair at work every day, or perform an action regularly like using your car breaks daily. You build a trust that the given action will result in the same outcome it always does. The chair will not fall apart, or the breaks will not fail.
        In this way, trust can also be built up between people in terms of relationships. And that is what the Christian faith is. A trust in God, but not a blind trust. One with reasons and a foundation.

      • Carrie Hunter

        Lomus you appealed to reason in your comment here.

        Would you please prove to me reason exist? What evidence do you have for it?

        Just answer any of the following:

        What does reason look like? (What physical appearance does it take on?)
        What does reason smell like? (Does it smell like flowers, or cheese, or a rubber tire?)
        What does reason feel like? (Is it scaly, or soft, or fluffy?)
        What does reason sound like? (Does it sound like a trumpet? Does it go “boo”? Does it have a squishy sound?)
        What does reason taste like? (Is it savory, sweet, bitter or sour?)

        With the parameters you have limited yourself in terms of “evidence”, use those parameters to prove reason exist. Otherwise I have to think it doesn’t or at least you aren’t using it.

    • chaya1957

      I have a suggestion. Perhaps the atheists (and others) might write a responsive blog post: How to be a better Christian.

    • chaya1957

      Another suggestion for detente: Atheists are overwhelmingly male, white, upper middle class. Christians are overwhelmingly female.

      There is a plethora of single Christian women believing and desperately praying for God to bring them, “their husband.”

      I suggest you guys get together apply some synergy to the problem. Yes, I am aware that Christian women are told that they can only marry Christians, and, “missionary,” dating is frowned upon while social work dating is encouraged.

      While the Christian single woman says she is seeking, “a strong, godly man,” she is just saying that because that is what she is told to believe and say. What she really wants is a man who can earn a living, provide for the family and is stable and dependable.

      Some may view it as evolutionary, but I believe it is intrinsic that a woman seeks to pair with a man who she views as her socio-economic superior, while men seek out women for permanent relationships that they can look up to as their moral superior.

    • William

      Konrad,
      I think you misunderstand the nature of ‘evidence’. Evidence is not necessarily proof. And nearly all evidence can be argued over and attributed to other things as to it’s given implications. If person ‘x’s DNA is found at a murder scene, it is not ‘proof’ that they are the perpetrator, but evidence that they were maybe at some point on the scene. It is one factor among a group of factors that points one way or another as to person ‘x’s guilt or innocence.

    • William

      I think I should add, this is how it is with theology, there is no empirical proof of God’s existence, merely a ‘weight’ of evidence.

    • William

      Something I struggle with is the following, maybe CMP could help show me my fallacious reasoning?

      1. God is outside of time.

      He is just self existent. He is ‘the being who is’, I think are your words CMP – in one of your videos.

      This implies that He does not experience existence in a chronos way. So in other words, if God does not experience existence this way then He does not decide to do one action after another. All things are simultaneously existing. It is like this; the universe is like a carnival or parade in time. God is outside of this. So imagine He is above it and can see the beginning middle and end all at the same time. Nothing occurs per se from God’s view point, it is already there. For example, Abraham is being born and dying right now, and all the things in between that happened to him. You are dying and being born, and so is everyone who has ever or will ever exist. Why? well from God’s view point this is entirely accurate, to Him you birth is just as presently occuring as your death. He is without time and space. From our point of view it is different, we do have a point in time and space and we do have a chronos experience. We are bound by the time and space He created as elements or foundational structures of this universe. He is not. Potentially, He could go ‘back’ (though it would not be to him, just a different place in the carnival) in time and make us be born into different circumstances and we would have a different life. I remember praying after getting my exam results in school that God would have made me revise harder and get better grades than I got. I checked my grades later on that day, they never changed- still mostly ‘f’s. Lol.

      This leaves us with a problem, firstly, if He is outside of time in this way how would He be able to then at some point ‘create’ the universe or will it into being? He cannot decide to do one thing after another since He is not ‘in’ time in terms of chronos – sequential events, but without it. He cannot go from one thing to another.

      2. God is one
      Secondly, the Bible teaches that God is one and that He is immaterial and not confined to the rule of ‘space’. He has no specific location. Logically, I will go with this, I think it is right that if there is a God then He is necessarily ‘one’ God. The uncaused cause of everything.
      God is also ‘omniscient’, that is – He knows everything and as the above carnival illustration shows, He experiences everything all at once.

      Now I know that the universe exists (I’m in it), and I’ll grant that God cannot change or go from one event to another. That means that the universe then, has always existed. Remember, God never learns anything new, never changes His position, never goes from one event to another. He cannot possible have ‘decided’ to create the Universe. He must be aware of it and experience it completely all at once. This is one of the reasons He knows everything. This unfortunately also means he cannot be ‘one’. Since if you read CMP’s work, God is ‘that which is above the arch’. But then, since the unverse is co-eternal with God, it must also be ‘above the arch’. That makes the universe God as well.

    • C Michael Patton

      William,

      I definitely understand the dilemma as you have presented it. Yet I do not agree with the conclusions that you are drawing.

      You were talking about the mysterious relationship between immanence and transcendence. While this certainly does exist in creation, it exist most precisely in the person of Christ. How could Christ remain within the Godhead eternal, simple, and in mutable yet at the same time be with in the immanent universe acting in choosing and making decisions.

      I believe that it was C. S. Lewis Who called the mystery of the incarnation, because of these issues, the greatest mystery in the history of the world.

      God is stable outside of time. Get inside of time he is in a dynamic relationship with people making decisions changing his mind and acting in accordance with his character. This is not something that we choose because we feel as if it is the best way to interpret the Bible (although we believe it is), we choose this because it is a logical and philosophical necessity for existence. We must have the necessary being existing outside of time. We have evidence that this necessary being is acting within time through the resurrection and various other ways. We are not hard deists who understand this dilemma and say the dilemma is insurmountable.

      This situation presents no logical inconsistencies. In other words there’s no violation of any of the laws of logic. It simply is beyond and transcendent our understanding.

      When I argued against Arminianism in a paper I wrote, this is the situation that I presented. God had everything already figured out and already completed because he lives in the eternal now, therefore everything has already been chosen and done. That Jesus is always on the cross. That God is always choosing. That there’s never anything that God has done that he is not also doing. Yet while this and some may be true, this does not present difficulties with God. Four of God exist both transcendence and immanence in the Bible presents him as being able to work this out, then we trust that he’s able to. Obviously there’s going to be some great mysteries in life and we could never expect to understand transcendence.

      • William

        Hmm, just lost a post. drat.
        Ok so I think I may have garbled that question a bit.
        Outside of creation, there is no time, no space no matter etc. Simply God.
        Because of this, God is completely and fully aware and experiencing all that has ever happened or will happen somehow within His mind continually all at the same moment. But the Bible clearly says there was a ‘before’ the universe. If that is the case then God must have ‘decided’ to create time, space, matter etc. But that implies a ‘chronos’ experience which God does not have.
        So if we adopt this timeless, spaceless understanding of God, we must be left with the view that it has always existed, for God has always experienced it.
        That means they both coexist eternally.
        My mind is too small for this.

      • Jimmy

        This is all wonderful conjecture, but it lends nothing to the truth of a deity. It’s simply one proposition dreamed up by someone that needed an explanation for a belief without an explanation as to how it all could have possibly began. And I would agree, in the realm of almost infinitely possible explanations (since we know absolutely nothing about pre-universe attributes) and can’t even begin to offer legitimate fact based solutions, it’s just one conjecture possible out of millions. For example..

        I believe the best explanation for the universe we see is that before the universe there is a giant green blob, it transcends time and space, yet can shape itself into a machine that’s able to generate a universe seed (called a singularity). It then lights the fuse that causes that singularity to explode into a universe!

        See, I just made that up and it has as much evidence as any cosmological argument ever prescribed by either scientist or theologian ever.

        The point is, pre-universal explanations only serve to quiet the minds of those needing to offer explanations for things they can’t even hope to answer, be they scientist or preachers. By and large..scientist know better than to offer even conjecture, but preachers don’t.

        I mean no offense, but using the cosmological argument as a proof for God seems almost pointless to me. If theologians can prove what created the universe, I’ve heard the nobel prize committee would award someone all of the nobel prized if they can prove there is a deity that create the universe.

        I would apply that last paragraph to the question of “Why is there something rather than nothing?” I don’t know why there is something rather than nothing, I understand scientifically why there is something, but I don’t know why there was something to begin with. So what? Because believers make up a reason why (and no matter the deity, they all do make up a reason), that doesn’t mean their reason has any merit, it just means they needed to come up with an apologetic argument to defend their faith from someone. I’m ok with not knowing, but if I just but make up a fake answer, I will have as much evidence for my made up answer as any believer does.

    • William

      anyone know where all those posts went?

    • William

      The case of the missing posts continues…

    • William

      My posts keep disappearing.

      • Jimmy

        I have lost some comments as well.. I believe that I’m not allowing the blog enough time to process the comment and post it before I click on to something else.

    • Brandon

      I realize this is not on the same scientific chord of the discussion. However, as I read the comments I have noticed some trends and I wanted to mention just two 1) debating over semantics. I realize terms and definitions are important in fact I ask people to clarify all the time but when does it end and the real issue continue. 2) evidence! Show it to me! To the atheist, how much do you want? Really, what if you could have any bit of evidence, would it take? If God Himself came to you personally and said “I AM” God. Would that do it? Sometime I don’t think even that would be good enough. Consider for yourself I don’t need to know. Again, my question is (hypothetically) what would it take? You want evidence and Christians to produce it but I dare say you yourselves do not even know what would convince the masses.

      • Jimmy

        I actually had a “test” that I had come up with that I used to offer to Christians that insisted they had some sort of “personal” relationship with God.

        For my troubles all I ever received was abusive words and extreme criticism and excuses…

        I had written 3 numbers on a piece of paper and put them under a book on my desk. I simply asked whatever christian was making a claim of having some personal relationship with an all knowing deity to go ahead and pray that this deity would reveal to them my three numbers.

        Mostly I heard excuses as to why they couldn’t.. I did have a few say they would give it a god, but after a while, they would all come back with an excuse…

        My normal response to the “what evidence would it take?” question is to simply say “An all knowing deity would know exactly what evidence it would take for me to believe.”

        However, I will elaborate a bit. If I had a Paul like experience, I think that would convince me. I mean, I might wonder about my own sanity, and I would never expect my experience to be useful as evidence for anyone else, but I would most likely believe.

        If the stars aligned themselves into the words “Jesus is real”, for the masses to see. I would consider the evidence sufficient to believe then. I can imagine several events in that realm that would be convincing.

        Now, believing and worshiping…two entirely different things.

        • Brandon

          Jimmy,
          I will admit, saying just have faith to a non-believer is a little unfair. I also don’t expect you to adopt my personal experience for your own. That said I want to address some of the comments you made:
          1) “An all knowing deity would know exactly what evidence it would take for me to believe.”
          Do you mean that God would/should reveal Himself on a personal level? Or, do you mean since there is not enough evidence for you personally to believe that it would be logically incoherent to do so? Don’t get to fixated on my use of “personal”; I also mean globally.
          I am glad you have considered the nature of God but I am concerned you may expect something outside of His nature. After all, if God created a universe and people, do you suppose He would expect that to be evidence enough? Realistically, if you will accept it, the creation account in of itself agrees quite well with Christian beliefs (and yes there is some explanations that are left out which frustrate us all). I have more but I should stop there.
          2) If I had a Paul like experience, I think that would convince me… If the stars aligned themselves into the words “Jesus is real”, for the masses to see.
          First, let me address the stars. Jesus of Nazareth is in fact real and the account of Him meet all requirements of historicity in the scientific definition. Now you may be talking about the claims to deity? He certainly made these claims or else the Jews and Romans would not have cooperatively crucified him.
          (at the risk of sounding crazy, since you brought stars up you may find the four blood moons interesting and pay particular attention to the events taking place in Israel since April).
          Lastly, both items you mentioned would be considered supernatural. Do you reject my statement? If not I would go on to say most of the evidence you have offered for not believing have resulted in natural occurrences. Can you not accept natural evidence of the existence of God?

        • Jimmy

          Hey Brandon, thanks for the reply to my comment!

          1). I would NOT consider it in-coherent for the christian deity to reveal himself personally to me at all. People make such claims of personal revelation from the christian deity (and other deities) all the time. I think there are far more reasonable explanation for creation that needing to use the idea of a deity that exists outside of nature.

          2). There are plenty of people that believe Jesus was a mythical being created from legend. I do not believe Jesus was just a myth, but I also don’t think the historical artifacts are all that great for Jesus. However, to believe Jesus existed (not a supernatural claim) doesn’t require a very high level of evidence for me. Believing Jesus came back from the dead or did miracles, that’s a whole different level of evidential requirement for me and there is minimal evidence for those events at all. Mostly just hearsay far after the events passed down verbally for a long time before someone decided to write some stuff down. I don’t consider that to be convincing evidence at all.

          I have indeed looked into the blood moon thing which seems to be started up and sold by Kenneth Hagee? Isn’t that a christian practicing astrology? Anyway, I remember 30 years ago when I was a super committed christian, Hal Lindsey had convinced me that Jesus was coming back in 1984! I’m afraid these type of claims have been going on since Jesus left (he even made a prediction that looks to have failed about the end).

          I agree, the evidence I have mentioned is supernatural, I think this might be because I could easily enough accept the natural claims offered up, it’s the extraordinary claims that I need the extraordinary evidence for. Since I can’t go back in time and see for myself, I’m left with examining what really comes down to other peoples claims about evidence which I find not very convincing and asking for my own evidence which would need to be extraordinary in nature.

        • William

          O.k. I have a few questions.
          What if you prayed for something, a physical healing for example and it occurred right there with multiple witnesses?
          Or what if you were on a trip in a poor country, and you somehow lost all your money, you knew it would not show up again but you prayed and it was handed back?
          What if throughout your life you had prayed even just for small things, and they had happened?

      • William

        Brandon, you said “1. debating over semantics. I realize terms and definitions are important in fact I ask people to clarify all the time but when does it end and the real issue continue.”
        It ought to end when either the parties can agree on a definition, or if person ‘a’ says ‘my definition for a given word is ‘x”, then the person ‘b’ has to admit that the definition given is indeed person ‘a’s definition. Then they work with that.
        Evidence.
        I think most of the problem with regard to evidence that is provided by Christians (myself included) is that it is often weak. It is impossible to be completely certain about almost anything in this life. What we are dealing with here is what is often referred to as the ‘weight of evidence’. Evidence does not have to be the same as proof, in fact it rarely is yet many atheists demand this strength of evidence to the point they begin to equivocate between the terms. Evidence can be strong or weak. We are looking for strong evidence. The weight of evidence will imply a conclusion. The more strong evidence we have, the weightier our reasons for believing in God become. Hence, the term ‘weight of evidence’.

        • William

          Yes I’m replying to myself as an extension of my previous post. I would point out that this insistence on proof has been demonstrated by the atheist’s commenting on this thread. They ask for things like stars lining up as proof. Who is the more closed minded? Those who demand proof that God is real (all the while not demanding the same type of surety from their brake pads, or water supply’s safety etc.) before they will believe in Him, or those who say ‘well, there seems to be a trail of evidence leading me this way, I’ll go with it’.

    • William

      Dear Mod, Is there a reason I am not seeing any more comments?
      I know I have posted and they were here but now are not. Am I on a time out?

    • Matthew Boland

      Michael, you could have shortened this blog to one sentence: “I personally would like atheists more of they were more like christians.”

      It’s a bit transparent, don’t you think?

    • William

      It isn’t my browser. I’ve tried multiple ones. All my posts show back up when I write a new one.

    • Jimmy

      Test

    • Jimmy

      Test123.. I have to do this to see comments…

      • William

        Me too. Once I post something, it’s fine. But if I close my browser, I have to do this again.

        • Simon

          I’ll have to try that. My comment went as well.

    • Rebecca

      Just today, I found out about your site. Although I am late to the discussion, I would like to add to it. I am known for being a “mean” Christian, but I will make every effort to be gentle with your atheist followers. In this discussion, I noticed some flaws in the arguments of the atheists. Instead of pointing them out, I would like to say something about intelligence, and then bring in a little history, or at least let people know where to find something on the history of atheism and Christianity in the Modern World.

      First, I would like to say reason is only one part of intelligence. Judgment, imagination and memory are also required to make intelligent decisions. Another way of putting it is cognition includes awareness, perception, reasoning and judgment. Modern atheists are trying to have our culture get away from the huge part of modern thinking, dualism of judgment. For example, George Lakoff, would have us believe we only have reason and feelings to go on, and we are to rely more on our feelings, not that icky old school judgment stuff. Memory is also no longer as important in school as it used to be, nor is imagination.

      But the problem with this new atheistic thinking is, Protestant Christians brought in the modern world. In the year 1800, over 95% of the world’s land mass was controlled by nomadic tribes. In those areas nothing was contributed to modern civilization. Only parts of middle Europe, mainly Britain, France, Germany, and the colonies in America settled by Protestants were considered civilized or modern by any standards. The Christian capitalists of around 1800 replaced the Christian mercantilists before them.
      There were atheists around at that time. Universalism was popular around Hungary. Michael Servetus is someone atheists should know about. The Jacobins in France were atheists. Thomas Paine wrote what was dubbed “The Atheist’s Bible.” Paine went to France to help them. The Founders were against him and atheism. George Fox’s “Book of Martyrs,” has atheism in it, and it is available free to read online. The Fabian Socialists like H.G. Wells are atheists. Wells wrote the book “The New World Order,” which is available free online. John Dewey was an influential American atheist. Google him and “creeping socialism,” to get a feel for atheism in America. H.L. Mencken was an anti-American, anti-Christian, pro-Hitler atheist. He translated Nietzsche’s book “the Anti-Christ,” into English.

      Anyway, if an atheist is going to claim have a worldview on par with a Christian worldview, he needs to do some research. Christians with worldviews have studied, cogitated, whatever you want to call it, for centuries. The proof is in the pudding.

    • Mo

      I’ve had endless conversations with anti-theists online and I have yet to encounter one that didn’t do most or all of these things.

    • Southtown Atheist

      Let’s dissect this shall we one point at a time:
      1: No, atheism isn’t suffering. Global data from Pew show the ranks of atheists growing.
      2: No, new atheists are not filled with “emotional rage” whatever that is.
      3: No one is saying Christianity has no evidence. It’s obviously a huge religion. What we are saying is that he supernatural claims within Christian tradition and scripture have no evidence.
      4: Theism is completely irrational. It’s irrational to believe in things for which no evidence exists
      5: No one says people believe in God because they are uneducated. There are many highly educated people who believe in any number of gods.
      6: I’m not sure what intellectual suicide is, but to be a Christian is to sacrifice rational thought in favor of dogma. That is anti-intellectual.
      7: Your statement, “every atheist knows there is evidence for God” is bizarre. By defiinton, atheists don’t’ believe your claims. If there were evidence, we wouldn’t be atheists.
      8: Seems like the FSM has struck a nerve. Ridicule seems to one of the few effective tools that illustrate the absurdity of theism to one who is blinded by their delusions.
      9: Atheism doesn’t attempt to explain where existence came from. Again, it’s simply the rejection of your claim that your god is real. Where existence originated, such as the Big Bang, the planet, the origins of life on earth, etc. are all scientific questions. They have nothing to do with deities.
      10: Theism is bounded by the rules and stories of an ancient book. Suggesting that lends itself to intellectual freedom is ludicrous. The whole construct invites you to stop thinking. All of the answers are already written down for you. The TL;DR version: God did it.
      11: Atheism is the position of lack of belief in your claims that your god is real. Changing the definition doesn’t help you. You do have the burden of proof as it’s your fantastical claim. Your philosophical and scientific protestations aside, atheism is a very simple conclusion. We don’t believe you. All of the morality, free will, determinism, matter, rationality stuff can be happily discussed without leaning on an ancient Hebrew war god.

    • Simon

      Having read the entire article, I come away with one conclusion. All it says to me is ‘We theists can’t handle your main arguments, so if you wouldn’t mind conceding those points we can move on to areas where things aren’t so black and white. I want to hide in the grey’.

    • Über Genius

      Most of these responses seem long on opinions, short on depth of scholarship. There are facts that can be explained in favor of theism/atheism and defeaters for same. Michael is correct about the so-called New Atheist lacking substance. Rhetorical flourish seems to be their focus. That said, Quinten Smith, WVO Quine, Antony Flew, JLMackey, and Graham Oppy have made significant contributions to defending an atheistic worldview. Dawkins and his ilk don’t achieve much more that Bill Maher when it comes to reasoned arguments. Listening to Dennett, Hitchens, Harris, Dawkins, and Krousse often leads to self-refuting statements (generally a bad thing) due to their lack of philosophical understanding (Dennett excepted). Although Dennett is known for serving up mockery in place of reasoned arguments (see notes on Central Divion APA meeting on Dennett’s unprofessional response to Alvin Plantinga’s presentation at an association meeting) seriously people, a lot of these college philosophy professors are as unprepared to defend their worldviews as your average Fundamentalist Christian.

      Watching these guys debate Christian philosophers must be how theists feel watching Ken Ham debate Bill Nye. Atheist everywhere should be shouting down the New Atheists as being poor thinkers and misrepresenting or under-representing the atheistic position.

      I’ve attached a link to an article by Victer Stenger advising atheists on how to debate Christians.

      http://www.huffingtonpost.com/victor-stenger/how-to-debate-religion_b_4876997.html

      For a well-reasoned resource representing the Atheistic position I recommend
      Logic and Theism by Sobel

      http://download.iranville.com/books/index.php?dir=کتاب%E2%80%8Cهای+انگلیسی%2F&download=Jordan+Howard+Sobel+-+Logic+and+Theism.pdf

      The Blackwell Companion to Natural Theology edited by William Lane Craig and Philosphical Foundations to a Christian Worldview by J.P. Moreland and W.L. Craig both do a sound job of representing theism as the best explanation of the data.

      http://www.amazon.com/Philosophical-Foundations-Christian-Worldview-Moreland/dp/0830826947/ref=pd_bxgy_b_img_y

      Finally, there a priori nature of knowledge (arguments) seems to be trumped quite significantly by the a posterior nature of knowledge (experience). The fastest way to convert a lifelong Christian is with the senseless death of a loved one. Likewise I know of one two individuals healed of terminal diseases that were sent home to die with less than three months to live. Both are still alive decades later. Both had no trouble handling all their intellectual defeaters for theism upon receiving the news from their respective doctors of their miraculous healing.

    • Ryan M

      I see a lot of hasty generalizations going on. I can tell we have some diehard fans of logic of all kinds – including informal logic. We should be careful when generalizing from our limited personal experience. For example, your experience of unfriendly atheists from online forums – or from books sold by atheists who gain attention and money through being boisterous and polarizing – is probably not representative of how most atheists think and feel. If I have to explain why, then the argument is already lost.

      I think atheists would appreciate the spirit of your post more if you didn’t try to sneak in a few claims that are perhaps unfair. For example, you seem to summarize all atheistic arguments from evil as evidence of God’s nonexistence as emotional ones. To be sure, this is not the case. Any cursory reading into theodicy will expose you to logically sound arguments against God’s existence from the problem of evil. William Rowe’s: “The Problem of Evil and Varieties of Atheism” is an excellent example of arguing against God from the problem of evil, as well as an example of the kind of epistemic humility you advocate. Rowe believes that both sides have compelling evidence and arguments to offer, but believes that the kind/amount of suffering we see in the world tends to tip the scales in favor of the atheist. He also advocates a friendly form of atheism that doesn’t see itself as an adversary to all theistic worldviews.

      On a somewhat related note, in my own view, I think some Christians (and non-Christians) would benefit enormously from greater exposure to the scientific enterprise. Take a science class. Study philosophy of science from authors that come from a variety of worldviews. I see several comments that betray a lack of understanding of how science is done, that the hallmark of science is supposed to be its ability to revise it’s body of knowledge, that in spite of this some scientific theories lie at the core of beliefs and are so well attested overturning them is very unlikely, etc.

    • Duane

      I asked an atheist to explain the origin of matter. His reply was to wait til someone more knowledgeable comes along who can figure that out. He was blindly confident that it will one day be figured out.

      They’re very good at pushing evolution but have no explanation for the origin of matter. This is foundational. Without an explanation of the origin of matter apart from special creation, they have no case. Nothing else they say matters. They have no foundation.

    • C Michael Patton

      It looks as if this conversation has devolved and gotten off subject. Thanks for all who participated, Christians and atheists.

      • Carrie Hunter

        Done.

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