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.

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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. He can be contacted at [email protected]

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

    • Wolf Paul

      Michael, I get no end annoyed with secular journalists who do not know the difference between “evangelical” ( = originally a term for “Protestant”, hence ELCA, now a label for conservative Protestants who stress the need for evangelism and conversion) and “evangelistic” ( = engaged in evangelism, thus by extension keen on spreading one’s own belief or ideology).

      Now you, of all people, in the very first paragraph of this article, make the same mistake. I am shocked, really shocked.

      No wonder the secular press doesn’t ever get it right …

      • William

        I thought in general it was a good article. Most atheists (unlike Jimmy) fit the description CMP gave.

        • Jimmy

          Actually William. I think most atheists do not fit the description Michael is offering.
          By the number of people that have quietly told me that they don’t believe but also just don’t care to talk about their belief I think most atheists fall into the category of “apatheist”. Don’t belive in a god, dont know if there is a god, and dont feel the drive to try and find out..

          • chaya1957

            Also, I’ve seen that most agnostics/atheists aren’t necessarily purists or consistent, much like the religious world.

          • William

            Ok, well it seems reasonably obvious to me that they are not going to attack you because you are one yourself. That would be like me walking into a church (haven’t been to one for years, but just imagine) and telling folks I’m a christian, and they try and convert me. Wouldn’t that be odd?
            Well whenever I step into (virtually) any atheist forum, I am immediately met with name calling and ridicule. That is what I expect to happen, and that is what happens. Even the so called ‘friendly atheist’ has a post or two supporting the like of Boghossian, a man who is far less than civil with people who pretend to know something to be true, when they know is false. So quite clearly our experiences are vastly different.

      • Über Genius

        Mr. Paul,

        I get no end annoyed with people misrepresenting the most liberal division of the Lutheran church in America (ELCA) as Evangelical. As my ECLA-Minister friend never forgets to tell me, “We do not believe in proslytizing like you Evangelicals do in the ECLA!”

        NO WONDER THE SECULAR PRESS DOESN’T GET IT Right…

    • chaya1957

      Couldn’t you turn all your criticisms back upon your own doctrinal camp? New Atheism is fundamentalist, like some Christian and Muslim sects. At least so far they haven’t been slaughtering anyone as Christians and Muslims have done for centuries.

      The weakness of atheists is not their intellect; that is where they are strong. Their weakness is with their lack of love, kindness and empathy. “When I was young, I admired a man for his cleverness; now that I am old, I admire a man for his kindness.” Abraham Joshua Heschel Of course the kindness tends to flow towards those who accept your belief system, or at least don’t pose any serious challenges.

      Defending Worldviews is based upon Greek/Western logic, which has its uses in areas such as science, but isn’t terribly useful in spiritual endeavors. That’s why apologetics rarely nets you any converts, as its purpose is to attempt to keep the ones you have from thinking, questioning or leaving the fold.

      I see no purpose for defending a worldview, as our view of the world and everything else is so limited, as his thoughts are as high above our thoughts as the heavens are above the earth. That doesn’t do much to stem the self-assurance of some.

      • rob

        “so far they haven’t been slaughtering anyone as Christians and Muslims have done for centuries.”

        And Stalin, and Mao, and Hirohito and Hitler, and Pol Pot. Add it up. Here is another quote: The best thing is to let Christianity die a natural death…. When understanding of the universe has become widespread… A. Hitler.

      • Rebecca

        Actually, atheists have killed more people than Christians and even Muslims combined. Hitler and all of the communists such as Lenin and Stalin were atheists and have caused the murder of over a hundred million people. The Red Chinese are atheists and have killed millions. The French Revolution was done by atheists, the Jacobins and they enjoyed killing Christians.

    • C Michael Patton

      Yes, I would and do turn this on my own camp, to the degree that this is consistently represented. But, as I said, I find this most consistently in the atheist camp.

      And I would not say that atheism or atheist are strong in the intellectual category, only strong in continually claiming intellectual backing all the while committing these failures which, IMO, are because emotion, not intellect, dives them.

      But I don’t think their can be a true intellectual offense from naturalism. But if I could find balanced representatives who follow the advice above, I would have a better chance of taking them seriously when it comes to rational.

      But, ironically, this response of mine (not being able to take them seriously intellectually unless they become more balanced) assumes an epistemology that I cannot justify. First , maybe emotions communicate more clearly and definitively than rational (I.e. “I cannot worship a God who allows for such evil”—an emotional argument cf “a necessary being must be in control of all things”—a rational argument). Second, is my rejection of unbalanced atheism (or any imbalance) and emotional reject?

      But, again, when people claim that naturalism has rational on its side, I believe they have bought into the very concerted sound-bite contention put forth from this new atheism pulpit.

      • Jeremiah

        Bro. Michael,
        I couldn’t find where to post my individual post, so I hope you don’t mind too much me posting here as a reply to you.
        Firstly, I appreciate what you are doing, or trying to do. But, in reading many posts here, all I see is a bunch of posturing and everyone just trying to show what they know and how much they think they know. This thread is not demonstrating dialogue or people trying to reason our differences, just a whole lot of of people trying to prove how stupid the other camp is. The thought process behind “rational” is definitly subjective. An Atheist would have to change a Christions way of thinking and rationalizing before the other’s view can be changed. This, of course, happens at times, but I believe not frequently. All I can see here is Atheists playing cards that they think they have against Christians and fallacies in our thinking and reciprocal. Unlike what I glean from you, no one is really looking at or acknowledging weaknesses in their own worldview, and looking to address it/them, we are only bragging about our “truths”. I am an old school martial artist. and as such, there are those who have weaknesses in their defenses, so they try to compensate by building on their strengths. While this is initially always a good idea, if one doesn’t work on that weakness and is avoided, more times than not, will catch up to you.

    • C Michael Patton

      Also, the production of converts on the spot is not what this is about. Is Guinness talks about this as the preevangelism of the culture. It is the background ethos that prepares and predisposes people in one way or another.

      Finally, and most importantly, this is a significant part of the battle where strongholds are built and destroyed. We cannot win the culture if we don’t don’t win the mind. And if we abandon what is our strongest fort (as anyone can be nice and loving) then we have essentially said that there are not compelling and objective reasons to be a Christian. Once we go here, not only will be be acting quite unbiblically, we will find our camp filled with insecurity and failing commitments.

    • Paul Short

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

      This list proves beyond a doubt that you have no idea what atheism is. Atheism is (and only is) a lack of belief. Period. End of Story. Your ignorance and discomfort notwithstanding.

      I can only assume you’re a Poe at this point.

      • C Michael Patton

        Paul, that may be, but you are probably going to have to do better than that and try to respond to my reasoning. Just saying your wrong and backing it up with claim of ignorance is not quite enough.

        I appreciate you commenting though.

        • Paul Short

          If I told you that I was convinced that Jesus was the Norse god of thunder, could we have a rational discussion about Jesus?

          All 5 of your points are so far out of the realm of “rational” that you couldn’t be further wrong if you were trying to write satire.

          • William

            @Paul Short
            Man, you just blew him right out of the water!
            I’ll bet Mr. Patton just became atheist.

          • chaya1957

            Not the Norse God of Thunder, but there is a 3rd Century mosaic in the Vatican that shows him as Helios the Sun god.

        • M Ankrom

          The trick here, though, is that Paul Short is correct in that you have demonstrated with your fifth point that you seem to not know what an Atheist is.

          An Atheist is, by the definition of the word, (A-not Theist-believer in supernatural entity/s) a non-believer in the supernatural, or in this case, gods. Any other beliefs associated with an Atheist indevidual are just that: the indevidual.

          As an example, we could replace position number 5 with:
          5. Stop Trying to Position Christianity as Merely a Belief in Christ. This would, in the same way, demonstrate my own lack of understanding of what is likely to be the most basic tenent of Christianity.

      • chaya1957

        I have a question. I was having a discussion with an atheist, who said, in response to the comment that Carl Sagan believed in superior alien beings that visited earth – almost sounds theistic?

        She mentioned that atheism just means a rejection of a deity. I understand that is the linguistic meaning, but it seems almost conjoined to naturalism, which would preclude a belief in alien beings, reincarnation, out-of-body travel and other claims of the supernatural.

        Then there is the issue of religion, and a person may be part of a religious community for various reasons and not believe in the existence of a deity or the supernatural.

        What do you think?

        • Paul Short

          I think your understanding of Atheism is slightly flawed.

          Atheism is simply a lack of belief in a god (or gods). It is, by definition, agnostic and does not preclude the existence of a god, or aliens, or whatever.

          When you make the claim that there is nothing beyond “us” (as naturalism would seem to do), then you’re in the world of “gnostic atheism” or “anti-theism”. As I’ve said before, very few atheists fall into that category. And in fact, none of the atheists who have commented on this topic are in that category. That should tell you something.

          • chaya1957

            Yes, there are religions that have no deity, yet I doubt most atheists/agnostics would validate them.

            That is interesting – the distinction between belief conjoined with not precluding potential possibility?

            I remember when I was in Israel, the divide is not between believers and unbelievers as in the Christian world, but between secular and religious – the belief issue of marginal importance. I assume that is because Christianity is rooted in Greek philosophical thought, whatever the claim, and atheism employs the same Greek logic to refute it.

          • Randy Everist

            I *know* your understanding of “atheism” is flawed. “Theism” is not an epistemological claim, it’s an ontological claim. This makes a “theist” one who believes that “a deity exists.” Atheism is the negation of that ontology. The problem is most fundamentalist-atheists are quite ignorant of philosophical issues.

          • Rose

            You have obviously not read the Atheist Manifesto. Signed by Dawkins et al, it states categorically that atheists deny there is any god, god force etc. it us not a passive document, but a strongly worded statement of belief. Atheism is not a lack of belief in god – it is a humanistic world view.

        • Francis

          I understand naturalism as a pre-supposition that underlies naturalistic sciences and philosophies, the belief of the lack of an artificial or supernatural cause for what is deemed a “natural” phenomenon until proven otherwise, hence the lack of rational to search for one until “natural” explanations are proven inadequate. But since scientific research will likely persist for as long as human civilizations continues, and since it will probably never find ALL knowable truths of this physical universe, there is also never a need to subscribe to “unnatural” causes for an individual who expects that the answer shall be found some time in the future, perhaps after his lifetime.

          While naturalism does not have to be the only outlook for atheists, it is the only viable and rational philosophy of any serious atheist. This system necessarily rejects the possibility of a supernatural deity, because such a supernatural cause is unsatisfying, unnecessary and inadequate. On the other hand, it does not necessarily reject the existence of alien beings, superior or inferior, but would rather proposed it as a possibility and a speculation waiting for more definitive proof. A hypothesis, so to speak.

          Going back to your question on “superior alien beings that visited earth” and atheism. The idea of creator aliens seeding life on earth is most famously advocated at some point by Francis Crick. While it doesn’t invoke the idea of “God”, it goes against the basic tenets of naturalism, and at its core is no different from theistic (“unnatural”) creation except for a reluctance to admit the existence of a deity. At best it defers the mystery of life to another world, and stops short of addressing the origin of either macromolecules or life itself. As such it is an irrational application of atheism, and we will almost certainly never find it in the mainstream of naturalistic science.

      • Rebecca

        If atheism is only a lack of belief, then why are there atheist TV shows on cable, and atheist books, and even atheist movies? Why are atheists proselytizing?

    • chaya1957

      Thank you for your reply C. Michael.

      You may be an exception, but pretty much all the evangelicals I know are highly irrational. They accept urban legends and conspiracy theories as true, and if you present facts that disprove their erroneous beliefs, they get angry or seem to not hear. Most American Christians (who believe the world revolves around them) add right-wing politics and American patriotism to the mix. I’m sure you are aware that democracy came to us from pagan, ancient Greece, and did not have its roots in Christianity, Judaism or any monotheistic religion.

      Some of this becomes dangerous. There are people who won’t vaccinate their children and those who claim mental illness is only sin. It seems that when reality and belief collide, reality looses.

      • Jimmy

        Chaya1957, I’m so glad you brought this up! I’ve noticed that as well. I’m sure it’s not true in every case, but my christian relatives are almost universally easily drawn into conspiracy theories and highly irrational superstitions. They also tend to not bother with fact checking anything, no matter how whacky.

        I’ve been baffled by it for a long time, you can deliver them well researched information and they will dismiss it out of hand while they will readily believe every word their next door neighbor told them without question.

        I can only say this for myself and I’m sure it relates completely to worldview, but my wife experienced the same phenomenon. When we went from christian to atheist, how desire to research almost everything we are told increased by an order of magnitude. We both became completely skeptical of any claim that even sounds out of the norm (and some that do sound in the norm). I think perhaps that after being fooled/fooling myself for so long believing in a diety, I’m not going to be so easily fooled again.

        • Dale

          The fact that you were once a believer then came to the realization that God does not exist kind of defeats your argument. If you were a true believer why if all believers or so easily fooled did you rise above the rest a begin questioning everything. I think it might be a truer response to admit that you always had questions about things like menu people do both christian and atheist. I also would like to add if you are the type of person who questions everything that is great keep it up and remember Atheism should not be above questioning either.

        • Jeremiah

          Jimmy, As a Christian, I cannot “change” your mind, as you cannot change mine, so I am not going to even try to prove why I think I am right, and believe you to be wrong. As a “strong” Christian, I strongly believe that…..lol Too much of that going on and it is accomplishing absolutely nothing. I CAN say this, honestly: I question EVERYTHING. My mom was an Atheist, but I always sought for the truth, no matter where it leads. Yes, there where somethings that came up that I initially could not “reason” my way through. People made statements and questions that I had no answer for. There are things that Christians try to gloss over because they can’t explain, or try to redirect the burden of proof, which Atheists reciprocate. What I can say, is after looking for my own answers to who God is (not looking at other people’s explanation of who THEY made God out to be), or if “He” even really exists (It’s useless to even begin to address if Christ is Savior, if he really existed or if He is who He claimed to be, etc unless the question of God is understood), all I did was look at nature, and how the human body works. In my mind, how can “random chance” allow, when working properly, all of what it takes to make a heart and brain work independently , yet it all work together with the rest of the body, and all that it takes for each individual part of the body to operate as one, EVERY TIME? Can randomness cause my brain to always be where it is supposed to be and not wind up in my stomach? How could my lungs, when function correctly, work perfectly with the air we breath, in conjunction with the trees contributing to that, and the earth, planets and sun are all in a particular, perfect place for the earth to sustain life?How come trees don’t grow upside down, ever? With everything else that I could write, the final question for me was, you have all of these separate, individual things in nature and life happening in and of itself, and yet we happen together, perfectly? We have what evolutionist would call the big bang. I would concede the possibility of it. My question than became, what caused the big bang that flung out all that is needed for this planet and life to exist?The answer came back something like a big spark, or something like that. Uhh, doesn’t make sense to me, but once again, I concede. My question was then “Well, What was before the spark?” There was nothing before the spark. “ooookkkayyy, then where did the spark come from?” The answer was that it came from nothingness. “Well, I am no science major, but aren’t at least 2 things needed to create any type of spark?” so on and so forth, until I was left with the answer of the One thing that I could not explain, and that is God. I, personally, came to the conclusion, (ME, not because I conversed with “apologists” or what ever they call people who debate this stuff. In my opinion, they are always sanctimoniously trying to throw around big words that I, as a Christian, don’t know or understand WHAT the heck they are talking about, so how can I reasonably explain it to others? ) that it all came from a Creator. Now, I know that I can’t explain Him, and that is the ONLY hole in my logic, because quite honestly, the big bang can’t be reasoned or proven either, so we both have faith. I ended and started with a Creator that I can’t explain. For ME, there was more proof that pointed to a Creator, than not. Proof as I define it, but maybe different from what you consider “proof”, and I acknowledge that. We may have 2 different meanings of the word “proof”, and “rational”. Even in my “conspiratorial” stuff, I have rationally reasoned (although, because of all of the research I have done, it may take me a little bit to explain) how I arrived at the conclusions that I ended up with, all separate of my walk with Christ.
          As you shared your particular experiences, I wanted to share mine that seemed to have paralleled yours, to some degree. To me, THIS is what dialogue is about. A conversation between two people who may not agree on particular matters. You seemed open to honest dialogue.

    • Jimmy

      Well damn. I wanted to be the first one to comment! But I’m actually glad that Wolf got in first, he brings up a point I was going to talk about!

      Atheists (I am one), just like Christians seem to suffer from an ambiguous identity problem. The tact and the methods are all over the spectrum and we often don’t know who or what we’re addressing. Just like Christianity, how an atheist approaches their worldview is completely unique to each atheist in some way.

      Generally, as an atheist I would agree with almost very point that Michael has made here. But allow me if you will to offer up something that I think may explain some of the more militant atheism, I speak from experience, because I was once a militant atheist myself.

      When one comes to a conclusion that is completely contradictory to what they’ve believed, many times for years and years, there is often a very painful period. When I came to the conclusion that Christianity was not true, I experienced many emotions. Anger, Joy (I know, that’s a paradox), fear, and on and on. It has been somewhat documented that many atheist experience great anger and a need to strike out at their former deity. I think I did that. You want to “get even” with a deity that isn’t there but was very real to you in the past. Since one can’t in any normal way strike a deity, the next best target is the followers of that deity. I suspect that drives a good number of militant atheist. I’m sure it’s more complex than my simple explanation.

      Now, onto the actual suggestions that Michael mentioned..

      I would concede that these are untrue..

      Christianity has no evidence. <– It does have some.
      Theism is completely irrational. <– It's not completely irrational.
      People believe in God because they are uneducated. <– Clearly and demonstrably not true.
      To be a Christian is to commit intellectual suicide. <–Clearly and demonstrably not true.

      Now, as for The “Flying Spaghetti Monster”, I think it's pretty funny and does illustrate a point that does get taken too far by atheist sometimes.

      I've never viewed the cosmological argument as good evidence whatsoever for the existence of a deity. I think it's REALLY good evidence for scientist not knowing what happened or existed in the moments before the universe came into existence and most scientist will say as much. Atheist have no special ability to explain what happened before that moment (and before isn't even a very useful word as I believe time breaks down the closer you get to the beginning. But christians and other theists, while they may pose an explanation, certainly are not offering real proof of their own claims.

      I think believers and non-believers alike should put down the cosmological argument as any sort of evidence. It's evidence for neither a god or a not-god. It's an argument from ignorance and/or a god of the gaps argument for believers. There just isn't enough information available or the information we have isn't understood well concerning how things came into existence.

      I am an atheist and I am an agnostic, I like to expand that when I talk to people.. I don't believe there is a christian deity, but I don't have all knowledge either and I could be wrong. Perhaps there is some sort of super being out there. I have no proof that there isn't. I do believe the burden of proof remains with those making the positive claims however. If you want to move the burden of proof to those making the negative claim, then you need to go ahead and prove every belief and every claim that you don't believe in to be false. You need to offer real proof to the negative.

      I'll concede that you could be right about your christian deity. I don't think you are at this point and I've not seen sufficient evidence that you are. But I could be wrong and I'm open to be convinced that I am wrong.

      Our worldview completely weight how we analyze evidence, it completely alters how we see it. Our worldview is a filter that is nigh impossible to remove. I would love to dismiss my own bias and see evidence with it's exactly appropriate weight, but I'm not sure it's even possible.

      • Paul Short

        “Atheists (I am one), just like Christians seem to suffer from an ambiguous identity problem. ”

        No, sir. They do not. The only identity problem Atheists have is that Christians insist on not allowing atheists to self-identify. I said in an earlier post today that, ” The obsession to characterize atheism as something that it’s not can only be explained as a glorified Strawman fallacy. ”

        The more I think about it, the more I’m convinced it’s true. Christians can’t attack atheism as a lack of belief. They have to turn it into something it’s not, in order for their arguments to gain purchase.

        • Jimmy

          Paul..that’s the point I was making. I’m just sayung it goes both ways.

      • chaya1957

        Jimmy, that seems to fit with the, “jilted lover,” theory that someone wrote a very good blog article about. However, if you have a painful romance – and I suspect most have, does that lead you to vow lifelong, “I’ll never fall in love again?” Is there a possibility of a deity that is not the one you grew up with?

        Someone has posted an interesting set of comments in a class discussion forum. He quoted various passages from scripture that proved, in his mind, that God was a bad, bad God. But then he claimed there was no God. I tried to point out the discrepancy: 1. There is no God. 2. God is a really bad boy. One and two cannot be both true. He just kept up with the, “God has been behaving badly,” narrative.

        • Jimmy

          I would certainly agree with the “jilted lover” theory. I would agree that it is possible that there is a deity that I didn’t grow up with. That is possible. I’m not sure how to research such a being however, wouldn’t know where to start.

          • chaya1957

            Jacob wrestled with a divine being and wouldn’t let go until he received a blessing. Maybe that is what we all need to do. I have my favorite authors, but that doesn’t mean you would share my interests. I like scholars who think creatively and outside the box.

        • Bob Seidensticker

          Yes, these points are contradictory, and I jump back and forth between them myself when I argue with Christians. I just assume that they know that any comments about God have the implicit, “Let’s assume for the moment that God exists” qualifier.

      • rob

        “I am an atheist and I am an agnostic, I like to expand that when I talk to people.. I don’t believe there is a christian deity, but I don’t have all knowledge either and I could be wrong. ”

        Then, how do you feel about Pascals Wager? If you admit you could be wrong, you may be “Dead” wrong in the long run and gain very little for believing in nothing.

    • C Michael Patton

      Paul,

      I am not sure whether you are trying to illustrate my point or just joking so I will pass over it for now.

      • Paul Short

        I’m illustrating your point. Your appraisal of atheism is so far off the mark that it’s nonsensical. I mean, seriously, you ask for atheists to define atheism as something that it’s not… why would you do that?

        • C Michael Patton

          Well, Paul, the best I could interpret is that while you don’t agree with anything I have said you primarily disagree with the point about atheism and it being a lack of belief? And you simply make the claim that I am wrong without dealing with what I wrote.

          Although, the way I have defined it, I don’t see why a concession here is damaging to your case.

          However, let me try again and see if we can’t talk this thing out with our gloves on.

          Would you agree that the worldview produced by atheism is naturalism?

          • Paul Short

            No, I would not.

            You’re making the flaw of assuming that atheism necessitates something. Or that my lack of belief on the one hand requires a belief on the other. None of that is true.

            • chaya1957

              Are you saying that atheists have doctrinal camps in the same way Christians do? And just like Christians, one may belong to a certain camp for various reasons while not buying the whole bundle?

    • C Michael Patton

      Richard Dawkins responded to one of my posts on doubt recently. It was
      It was about preparing children for doubt. http://www.reclaimingthemind.org/blog/2013/05/twelve-ways-to-prepare-your-children-for-times-of-doubt/

      He called it “child abuse”.

      This is a good illustration of so much of the attitude I would like to see changed. Dawkins is the other side of the Fundamentalist table from Ken Hovin. Both will, unfortunately, have their impact.

      • Jimmy

        Very excellent example Michael.
        I know more than a few atheist that find Dawkins too harsh in his approach.

      • chaya1957

        However, Kent Hovind is a fraud as to his education, is spending time in jail for tax fraud and obstruction of justice and I was informed sold antisemitic books like, “Protocols of the Elders of Zion.”

        I don’t know any atheist activists with fake degrees and backgrounds, but would be interested if you know of any.

        Dawkins is more like the atheist version of John MacArthur.

        Maybe it is a form of child abuse to teach children not to think or question what they have been taught and are being taught and to reject other people as, “the other,” which is prejudice. It seems the major, “doubt,” problem is people who assumed that their faith/belief/obedience would preclude serious difficulty and suffering in their lives, and felt they got a bait and switch. However, I know many atheists think Dawkins goes too far.

        • chaya1957

          Hovind’s supporters claim he is the victim of some elaborate government conspiracy theory. Good thing his passport was pulled, as he planned to escape to South Africa to join with their equivalent of white supremacists.

          • Gerrie

            I’m afraid this remark about South Africa proves CMP’s view of the role of emotions. What does it have to do with the topic at hand? Several prominent “white supremists” of South Africa are outspoken atheists and this clearly makes your statement null and void. I have yet to encounter an atheist able to debate in good mannerly fashion – focusing on the content instead of emotional jargon.

          • Jeremiah

            Question: why does it seem (and I use this word honestly not in sarcasm) that many who don’t like Ken Hovind, explain his viewpoint away with, “he was jailed for tax evasion” and/or he is a conspiracy theorist? Does that make him any more right OR wrong?

        • Jeremiah

          Apart from the Elders of Zion book, Why does questioning, criticizing or challenging the Jews or Israel’s motives, say what they are doing or have done is wrong, make you anti Semitic? We can criticize the seeming rioting mentality of some of the young African Americans, if South Americans crossing the borders are creating criminal acts, We can criticize Russia, China, heck, we can even criticize the President of America accusing him of crimes against America, but the Jews are off limits? Inquiring minds want to know.

    • Thom waters

      I think the Christian and especially the Christian apologists should also be willing to admit to the weaknesses of their position, arguments, or beliefs. This is especially true with regard to the Resurrection. The weakness to this belief and the arguments for it should be admitted. Thanks.

      • Jimmy

        I agree with you Thom!

        The problem is that our worldviews so weight our ability to evaluate evidence as to make it almost impossible to see the weaknesses.

      • chaya1957

        I commend anyone who can get a Christian to admit they are wrong about anything, including (but not limited to) idolatry and near infallibility of their favorite teacher, conspiracy theories, nasty stuff about Christian history and revered historical big shots, and their politics.

        • William

          I’m wrong all the time. Just ask my wife!

      • Esther O'Reilly

        Thom, which arguments for the Resurrection do you find especially weak, and why?

    • C Michael Patton

      Okay, Paul, then I will say this: to the degree that atheists are not naturalists they can continue to define their belief as the lack thereof. But I have never met one that is not a naturalist so if I am going to deal with this I will just have to ask each time whether they are or not.

      So, are you a naturalist (I.e. Do you believe that the natural world is all there is with nothing transcendent)?

      What other worldview options are there for the atheist?

      • Paul Short

        No, I am not. There can be such a thing as “undecided”. There’s no requirement that forces someone to automatically adopt a worldview.

        Just like buying groceries at the supermarket doesn’t make me a capitalist. It doesn’t mean I hold an economic worldview. It simply means I need my groceries for the week.

        “so if I am going to deal with this I will just have to ask each time whether they are or not. ”

        I apologize if I’m challenging you to not be so intellectually lazy. I realize it’s easier to paint everyone who disagrees with you in a single shade of black (as evidenced by what you’ve already written…)

        • William

          Come on Paul, you sound like a fifteen year old. Try a little politeness.
          What you are describing sounds more like agnosticism anyway.

          • Paul Short

            Your gnostic position is not the same as your theistic position.

            http://actok.org/?attachment_id=460

            • William

              Lol. I’m not gnostic.

            • William

              and I don’t click links. Too much porn spam. Write your own material.

    • C Michael Patton

      So you believe that there might be something transcendent to the natural world? Could you describe one or two possibilities of what that might be?

      Also, you would agree that just about all atheists are also naturalists, correct? After all, without such science, methodological naturalism and philosophical naturalism is not quite the answer so many believe it to be.

      By the way, I am encouraged that you are agnostic with regard to transcendence. From a philosophical standpoint, I think you may really be agnostic with regard to God. After all, God can and has been defined as that which transcends the natural world, and being simple is all that can transcend.

      If you stick to your guns here, I really have no problem with you saying that your atheism is simply a lack of belief. However, the exception does not define the rule.

      • Paul Short

        Where you are mistaken is that 90% of atheists agree with me. That is to say that they are agnostic atheists. Very few atheists assert that there is no possible god.

        As to most atheists being naturalists…I wouldn’t say one way or the other. You’d have to more clearly define naturalism. (You seem to think it’s more closely tied to anti-theism…)

        • William

          90%?
          Do you have the data on that?
          Who wrote the paper?

          • Hermes

            The 90% seems about right even in the more active groups.

            If you are interested, you can go and ask them yourself, like I did.

            For example, here is a survey I did a few years ago on the *Why Won’t God Heal Amputees* forums;

            * http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forums/index.php?topic=833

            Note that the survey allowed for multiple votes per entry. Even if we throw out the fun entries at the bottom, the majority of theists select some form of gnosticism (‘I know for a fact that one or more gods exist’) and that most atheists select some agnostic position (‘I do not think any gods exist, but I do not claim to know that for a fact’). In the case of the atheists, it is common to vote for multiple entries. So, when someone says that they know for a fact that omnimax deities do not exist (gnostic), they are likely to also vote for some other non-gnostic position (agnostic, ignostic, apnostic) when they consider the general category of god(s) or some specific subset (such as deistic or pantheistic deities).

            ——————–

            Here is the FAQ for Reddit’s atheism forum;

            * http://www.reddit.com/r/atheism/wiki/faq#wiki_what.27s_the_difference_between_agnosticism_and_atheism.3F

            Excerpt;

            > the vast majority of atheists are at least technically agnostic

    • Steve Martin

      I don’t understand the antipathy towards atheists…except for the belligerent ones.

      It’s no skin off my nose if someone doesn’t believe. and there’s nothing you or I can do to shoehorn them into believing. As Jesus told Nicodemus, “It has to come from above.”

      I share the gospel with people, when I believe the timing is best, when they are really hurting or in the midst of death (theirs, or their loved one – for the law is now really working on them)…and then I pray for them. If they come to faith(down the road)…great! If not….I move one.

      • William

        Yeah, but as Christians we have a great commission. There is a chance that Arminius was right and if so, a whole bunch of people whom you have come into contact with over the years will go to hell, simply because it was ‘no skin off your nose’.

        • William

          I was typing quickly. Should have reread what I was writing. and made it kinder. Sorry.

        • Steve Martin

          Did I say that I did not (to the extent that I can) share the gospel with people?

          And Arminius was wrong. Unbiblical. There is not a chance that we was right, for it would make us all blasphemers.

          • William

            “There is not a chance that we was right, for it would make us all blasphemers.”
            Well we could all be blasphemers. Easily. So that has no bearing on the claim that he was wrong.

      • chaya1957

        My experience is that anger/hatred is based in fear. Think of why Christians might be afraid of atheists. And perhaps vice versa sometimes.

      • chaya1957

        You don’t understand the antipathy of Christians towards atheists? Try understanding the antipathy of Christians toward Jews. Or Mormons, but that is far more recent and they haven’t killed as many.

        • Theresa Easley

          I am a Christian and I have no antipathy towards any of those groups you mentioned. I am even married to a Mormon.

    • William

      Dear atheists, maybe this will help a little. God is the personal, infinitely powerful, uncaused, necessary first cause of that which is not God. Some attributes of the Christian concept of God are
      I. Aseity (independent, self sufficient, uncaused)
      II. Divine simplicity
      III. Eternality (has always existed and always will)
      IV. Immutability (unchanging over time)
      V. Incorporeality (not having any physical matter or substance)
      VI. The necessary being
      VII. Omnipotence (unlimited power),
      VIII. Omnipresence (present everywhere)
      IX. Omniscience (infinite knowledge)
      II. Transcendent

      • Jimmy

        Thanks for the clarification William.
        Im met many Christians that do and don’t hold to many of those attributes.

        Also, I’ve never been offered actual proof of any of those claims.

        • William

          Thank you Jimmy, for your kind response.
          You are quite correct. Maybe I could have better put it as ‘one’ christian concept of God. Though most of these things are necessary for God to indeed be God.
          As to proof, well of course one cannot ‘prove’ much in this universe, rather one has to ‘go with the flow’ of the weight of evidence for most things. And if one can honestly say that they have explored multiple avenues in respect of the existence of God, and still come up simply unable to believe then that is their position and I respect them for it, like atheists like Peter Millican, and Graham Oppy. Good blokes as we say in England. As for me, the weight of evidences points very heavily in the direction of God.

          • Json

            It is not evidence that convinces you but merely lack of an answer, today. Like most Christians, you are to impatient and can not sleep at night without some sort of answer (even if it is made-up) Scientific history has shown over and over and over again, that what was once thought as an answer from religion, was actually wrong. You just need patience.

            • C Michael Patton

              Sounds a bit like scientism. Just “have faith” and patience (interesting virtues) and all your questions will be answered eventually. Yet, even the method and the “goodness” of the method must borrow from a worldview that can provide transcendence so our free-will can use rational to make the right decision. Freedom, rational, and rightness have to lean on God to deny them a okay st the right hand of science.

            • Paul Short

              It’s not “scientism” per se.

              The disconnect is that Christians (by and large) claim that their faith provides all the answers they need, whether explicitly in the bible, or implicitly through the holy spirit. This allows them to claim knowledge on pretty much everything. And thus they see the ateists’ honest answer of “I don’t know” to be a weakness.

              Classic examples are always questions or origins. Christians claim to know, atheists don’t, so the Christians claim a sort of victory.

              These same Christians don’t understand the fallacy of Arguing from Ignorance, but that’s another story.

            • William

              Seriously Json?

            • RW

              I have a set of 100 year old encyclopedias… Scientific History shows over and over again, that what was once thought as an answer from SCIENCE, was actually wrong.

              Science has never proved anything in the Bible wrong, it may have given us reason to reinterpret some of what we’ve read but has yet to prove anything wrong. (I’m talking to you literal six-dayers here.) Science is very very limited in what it can tell us if the science minded person is intellectually honest. That isn’t to say science isn’t worth doing, what little it has truly proved is precious and valuable.

          • Wayne

            William,
            I’ll take a couple of examples from your list. What evidence or ‘flow’ has led you to believe that the Deity is “immutable” (does not change over time)? Or ‘omnipresent’? I’m honestly struggling to understand what possible evidence there could be for such qualities.

    • C Michael Patton

      Paul, I did not say that they were agnostic.

      I said 99% of atheists are naturalists. Again, my previous question still stands. Since you are not a naturalist who believe that there is nothing transcendent, can you give me one or two possibilities of what might transcend the natural universe or universes?

      And, again, you do understand that99% of atheists (if not all besides you) are naturalists, right. It is almost like saying “you do understand that most triangles have three sides. I think it might be an analytical truth, although I am open to hearing your defense otherwise.

      • Paul Short

        Regarding agnosticism… I’m wondering if we’re using the same language.. I suspect we aren’t.

        A person’s gnostic position is not the same as their theistic one. (See the chart linked below) When you use the word “naturalist”, I assume you mean that the person is 100% sure there is god. That puts him into the anti-theist, or gnostic atheist category. Is that what you mean?

          • Glenn Shrom

            I’ve just checked out the Stanley Colors page that Paul Short provides the link to. It seems that both agnostic atheists and gnostic atheists are atheists – just two different types. Michael Patton’s point 5 seems to be saying that many gnostic athesists talk as though every atheist were really an agnostic atheist, including themselves, when really they are not. They are really gnostic atheists.

            Paul Short seems to think that 90% of atheists are agnostic atheists, whereas Michael Patton seems to think that only 1% are. I don’t see how to resolve that discrepancy merely through posting opinions on the internet.

            “There could be a god, but I choose not to believe in him whether he exists or not” seems to be a whole other category of statement. Michael’s details on point five seem about yet another spin on it: “I am an atheist therefore I don’t believe in anything. I only agree with facts, no faith involved ever, since all faith is blind. I only go where we can see.” Some people talk this way, but human beings find it impossible to actually live this way.

            • Paul Short

              You would resolve it by actually asking atheists what they believe.

              Michael has no basis for his point of view, other than to strawman the argument to make his point of view seem more valid (Note: anti-theists, or gnostic atheists simply make the same claim that Christians do… that they have knowledge of the supernatural)

              If you ask most atheists if they claim to know that no god exists, most will tell you “no”

      • Wayne

        Michael,
        I notice that you keep returning to the assertion that “99% of all atheists are naturalists.” But I do not see any support for the statement. By naturalist, I assume you mean ‘philosophical naturalism’, i.e. someone who believes that the physical world is all there is. I can honestly say I have never met or read an atheistic makes such an audacious claim to such knowledge. How could any one know this? What I have heard them say is that the evidence that they see does not, so far, necessitate them hypothesizing a ‘supernaturral’, so they don’t. Their experience of the universe to this point gives them no need of that hypothesis. That is a far, far cry from ‘claiming with certainty’ that ONLY the natural exists. And it is certainly not the same thing as ‘methodological naturalism’ that scientists employ when they investigate the natural world. Hope this helps.

    • C Michael Patton

      At that point Jimmy, you are right, they would not fit into the band of New Atheists who are passionately committed and evangelistic.

      This post would be limited to those of this surgence.

      • Jimmy

        Like I would estimate most Christians to be, fairly apathetic concerning discussing religion and debating over how it all came to be. Honestly Michael, I think most human beings don’t really care that much about belief or unbelief. They just want to be left alone to live out their lives in peace. Not that they’re believers or non-believers, there are plenty of both, they just have other things to concern themselves with.

        I am pretty happy with my worldview at this point, I would like to not bother with either christian or atheist sites, or concerning myself with apologetics/counter-apologtics. I just can’t seem to ignore it…

    • Json

      Are you writing a new standard dictionary for word meanings? Where in the meaning of atheism does it state that an atheist must answer the questions of morality, existence, free-will, etc.?Where does the definition of atheism demand that??

      You couldn’t be more wrong just on definition alone!
      You are guilty of mixing definitions and meanings. Naturalism is separate from atheism.
      Are you going to be so dishonest as to blend the two?

      Besides a simple response of “I don’t know” is suffice to answer all your questions that you demand an atheist must answer. Atheism makes no claims of absolute knowledge. That is why the burden of proof is on the religious person who claims to know the answer.
      An atheist merely states, “I don’t know the answer to existence yet”.

      Please stop mixing words and their definitions together.
      And please cite ONE claim that atheism makes which requires some “burden of proof”.

      I think that if you will be honest in word definitions and stop mixing things up just to provide yourself with the latitude to make absurd assumptions about atheism, then you’ll find there is no such claim atheism makes with requires any proof.

    • C Michael Patton

      I’m not so sure about that. The Christian faith has the same category of mystery as anybody else. We have mystery with in the revelation itself. There are many things that the scripture has told us but much much more that it hasn’t told us. Therefore to say that we think we have answers through the Scriptures are through the Holy Spirit is misleading. We have some answers, but very limited. It’s limitation is to those issues dealing with Soteriological history

      But the category of the natural world and science is the Christians as well. In fact we are encouraged very much in the Scriptures to seek God’s face through nature. Nature is so clear in so many ways Romans one tells us that we are without excuse for not believing it.

      But to say that the greatest question in this debate, why is there something rather than nothing, is a Mistry for you, is simply to say that you must be agnostic. That is the question around which all other questions find their life. Without this question having some sort of answer, the best I believe one can claim is agnosticism. I think many atheists including Stephen Hawking’s and Richard Dawkins see this. Both of them have tried to offer some type of explanation for the beginning of all things, insufficient as those may be.

      Answering the question why is there something rather than nothing., is the most important question. There are only five rational choices that anyone can choose, and to say anyone of these besides atheist God created everything is the height of your rationalism. Therefore the only thing an atheist can do is punch to mystery. But in doing so, it is my opinion that the atheist is part of themselves right out of the game. At this point they can no longer claim to be the most rational for they choose not to answer the most important question fearing that they’re only options are irrational.

      Therefore, at the very least I think the eighth you should see the weakness in the wrong position here admit it. At the same time seeing the strength of the Christian position and admitting it. Finally, they should recognize that the reasons they reject God do not have to do with the insufficiency of Christian reasoning but due to the emotional difficulties that come with the problem of evil and God and pain.

      But this is not the concession that I am saying must be. It is just an example of a concession that I think is important. The point of my post is that concessions need to be made. Both sides need to make these concessions. There are plenty of them to go round!

      • Jimmy

        This was a little hard to read, I think because of the voice to text thing you may be using.

        We have a long long history of believers declaring natural things to be supernatural, only to find out later on that they indeed were natural, just not understood at the time.

        When something as seemingly complex as the beginning of a universe (where literally time and space most likely break down), I believe the most rational explanation is “I don’t know”. It’s certainly more respectable to insisting that you know the answer but just can’t prove it…

        • Jimmy

          Well..not the most rational “explanation”, but the most rational response..

        • Jimmy

          In fact…I can’t think of one thing that was claimed to be supernatural that turned out not to be natural..not one thing.

          • Pthance

            Galileo was arrested for his theories on heliocentrism. In the Catholic world prior to Galileo’s conflict with the Church, the majority of educated people subscribed to the Aristotelian geocentric view that the earth was the center of the universe and that all heavenly bodies revolved around the Earth,[53] despite the use of Copernican theories to reform the calendar in 1582.[54] Biblical references Psalm 93:1, 96:10, and 1 Chronicles 16:30 include text stating that “the world is firmly established, it cannot be moved.” In the same manner, Psalm 104:5 says, “the Lord set the earth on its foundations; it can never be moved.” Further, Ecclesiastes 1:5 states that “And the sun rises and sets and returns to its place.

            Specifically Psalm 104:5 would seem to say that some supernatural force turned out to be not only wrong but of a natural cause. While it could be argued that “God set it all in motion”, that argument is a dishonest trump card that can be used to explain everything with no actual evidence to back it.

            Philosophically I can get behind the possibility of the existence of a god or creating force, but I don’t see any evidence to back the claim. In fact the evidence used by most revealed religions (holy texts) is often found to be riddled with inaccuracies and inconsistencies. If the evidence is suspect, so is theory surrounding it.

            This is not to say that there is no god, but I am fairly confident that the human interpretation and representations of him/her/it in any revealed context is most certainly wrong on every count and front. I don’t believe there is a god, but I don’t claim knowledge that one doesn’t exist….and I’m open to the possibility that one could given proper evidence.

            • William

              So you use explicitly poetic material, and try to shoehorn a scientific claim into it? Do you think that is good epistemology?
              My washing machine is broken, where is my Shakespeare collection???

            • Glenn Shrom

              Galileo was actually arrested, not for having certain theories, but for publishing them in what the Church authorities considered to be a premature fashion, even when Galileo himself had promised to hold off. See Ronald Numbers “Galileo Goes to Jail and Other Myths about Science”, Ronald L. Numbers et al.

            • Glenn Shrom

              One of the proofs that Galileo offered for the rotation of the earth was the tides, which he saw as the “sloshing effect” of a spinning body. Today we consider the tides to be caused by the moons, but it was prudent of the Church to not wholeheartedly endorse Galileo’s theory at the beginning, when the reasons he were giving included some of this speculative fluff. The Church wanted more and better proof first, things that would stand the test of time, instead of capriciously throwing the traditional mindset of multitudes into jeopardy for no good reason.

    • C Michael Patton

      By the way, I am trying for the first time to type with this voice activation on my phone. I have not even read over the text after I say it. Therefore I don’t know what’s coming out. It could be very rational or very irrational. If it’s rational it does not have anything to do with me but mistakes that are made in the text as it recognizes my voice. If it’s irrational but it’s probably doing well! 🙂

    • C Michael Patton

      Jason, I never said atheism must be defined this way. What I am trying to deal with is the issue. And the issue has to do with the atheist desire to keep from having the burden of proof placed upon them. In that, this is what I am trying to wrestle with. The atheist, being a naturalist, must answer these worldview questions one where the other. It may be and I don’t know therefore agnosticism or some positive answer with regard to morality, free will, why is there something rather than nothing, etc. but my main point is no one can escape a large burden of proof because everyone has to give justification for positive believes. No one exists just with negative believes.

      Having said that people also defined atheism as the believe that there probably no gods. I understand the huge debate here. As I said in the original post, people who lack believe in things don’t necessarily have to have a formal designation about their lack of bullies. I understand that. However, one something becomes an issue culturally, scientifically, socially, politically, or in any other way, it is at that point that it gets designated and people take sides with formal designations. No one would expect people to be designated according to their lack of believe in leprechauns or fairies or the Loch Ness monster. So it’s a bad example.

      Another way to put this would be this; I believe in traducianism . You may not know what that means. You may not know whether you were a traducianist or a creationist. But if I were to introduce you to the debate and give you both sides of the debate explaining to you that it has to do with the existence of the soul, and where it came from, then you would probably be more apt to take a position with a formal designation. It is only after we have been introduced to these debates find interest in them and form arguments one way or another in our own minds that we feel comfortable taking formal designations. But no one has to. That’s why none of us will ever be called aleprechaunist or atoothfairist. And this is why I believe the illustration of the flying spaghetti monster not only lacks an understanding of the debate but attempts to manipulate the debate with sleight-of-hand associations.

      I don’t really care what position anyone takes here. Again, I’m willing to concede that atheism be defined as a lack of believe in God. But again that is not the issue.

      • Glenn Shrom

        The point about the Flying Spaghetti Monster is much better explained and a stronger argument than the one about “stop saying atheism is a lack of belief”. In many ways, they dovetail together into the same point, as in this post. This comment #20 is a very good post! As human beings, it is necessary to have a world view about ultimate questions, even if we don’t like discussing them. When worldview features become salient in public decisions and shaping of belief systems, we have a civic duty to be aware and engaged. When we are aware and engaged, we should admit we are doing so and not pretend we have no interest.

      • Wayne

        Again, I think the entire premise is found wanting.
        “The atheist, being a naturalist, must answer these worldview questions one where the other.”

        The entire line of argument seems to crumble if the assertion that atheists are by necessity philosophical naturalists is not true. As I wrote before, if a person’s experience of the natural world has not led them to a need to hypothesize a supernatural to explain their experience, that is not the same as an insistence that only that natural world exists.

    • Bob Seidensticker

      Michael:

      Your impression of atheists doesn’t much match my own views (I’m an atheist). I’d like to touch on a few points.

      I’m happy to make concessions, and I agree with your point that acknowledging weaknesses honestly is the way to go.

      “Every atheist knows that there is evidence for God.” OK, but there’s also evidence for most other religions. For starters, that they have/had believers (why would thoughtful adults accept a belief that wasn’t true?). There is a huge cloud of arguments in favor of Christianity, but when the dust settles, there isn’t much there. (That’s an assertion without evidence. Space requires me to be brief. I’ve written more at my blog.)

      “There’s much strength in the traditional arguments for theism.” I disagree strongly (same caveats as above).

      “there is as much warrant for my belief in God as is your belief (were it present) in a “flying spaghetti monster”.” The FSM was invented as a response to Creationism, not Christianity. You’re right that atheists use it to lampoon religion, but I wanted to get that clarification in there.

      “2. You really think it’s a good illustration.” Yes, I do.

      “With the spaghetti monster illustration, the atheist makes the mistake of starting with the second step” Huh? I *grant* (for purposes of the argument) the first step! Where’s the problem?

      “admit your weaknesses” As above, yes, I agree that this is a good policy. Let me know what they are (I’m guessing that we disagree).

      “Concede that atheism does not have a strong explanation for the existence of morals.” I disagree. In the first place, whether atheism has an explanation for a particular thing is irrelevant. (Perhaps you can think of a counterexample?) Look at a map of world religions—the answers to the Big Questions, which religion will proudly tell us is their bailiwick, *depends on location!* The Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, Shintoists, and so on have different answers to these Big Questions. Sure, you can have an answer. That doesn’t mean that it’s well grounded.

      In the second place, we see moral actions in other primates. Evolution does a decent job of explaining morals: a social animal like humans does better when it is trusting, moral, generous, and so on.

      “If you’re honest and say morals don’t exist” *Absolute* morals don’t exist. The regular ones do—look up the word in the dictionary, and I doubt that you’ll find anything about God, transcendence, absoluteness, and so on.

      “the atheist, unlike the theist, is not able to claim a miracle” Is there evidence for this miracle? If so, bring it forward so we can analyze it and perhaps accept the existence of miracles. If not, you’re wasting our time with groundless claims.

      “Atheists generally don’t like being called “atheists”.” Works for me.

      “Again, this is an attempt to shift (dare we say avoid) the burden of proof.” Don’t imagine that our positions are symmetrical. The null hypothesis with any incredible claim (and “A supernatural god exists who created everything” is about as incredible as they come) is that it is false. But I’m open minded—tell me why you make that claim.

      I can and do make the positive claim “God doesn’t exist.” But that’s a step 2. With step 1, you’re the one making the bold claim, and the burden of proof rests on your broad shoulders.

      “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.” Yes (tragically) those advocating for leprechauns and Thor are pretty much all gone. But what does that have to do with the burden of proof? The rules of evidence are different for popular vs. unpopular beliefs?

      • Glenn Shrom

        The “necessary being” idea is one that must be dealt with separately from who the necessary being is (who they are) and what to name it / them / him /her.

        This is where I have a problem with so many atheism debates, is when people frame it as “versus religion”, but then only one religion is discussed, which is normally Christian theism. At most it will be expanded to mean monotheism, but not normally. Religion includes so many other things, such as animistic spiritism, Buddhism, and a long etc. Most “religious believers” do not fit into a western frame of reference at all.

    • Bob Seidensticker

      (I don’t see my comment–are comments moderated?)

    • C Michael Patton

      I think we need to be careful here. It cuts both ways. Certainly science has not been a stable enterprise. Hopefully there is been progression and we are gaining in our understanding because God is created us in such a way that we can gain more understanding, but there has been so many changes and revisions and paradigm shifts and science that I would never claimed that any paradigm we are at right now is either final or progressing in the definite right direction. As well I would be careful when we talk about the claims to supernatural issues that became natural. I am sure the main thing most people have in their mind is the idea of sicknesses that were claimed to be demonic in years past but now are found to be viruses and causes that can be seen under a microscope. But this in no way rules out the biblical idea of demonic forces and evil and Satan working in and with the natural world. In fact I would not see Satan working any other way. The way I believe the connection to the body and the soul Liz, anything that happens to the body is also happening to the soul. And vice versa. The whole basis for this is in the Christianview of the resurrection, and the necessary unity that the body and the soul are supposed to have. I don’t think, unless I’m missing something, the argument amounts to much.

      • Wayne

        “I am sure the main thing most people have in their mind is the idea of sicknesses that were claimed to be demonic in years past but now are found to be viruses and causes that can be seen under a microscope. But this in no way rules out the biblical idea of demonic forces and evil and Satan working in and with the natural world.”

        Exactly. For all we know, back in First Century Palestine diseases were caused by demons and then once the microscope was invented God started to make them be caused by genetics and bacteria and viruses. Once we start positing supernatural causes for things, anything goes. It then becomes a contest to see who can come up with the most entertaining explanation that don’t violate their suppositions.

    • C Michael Patton

      Also we must understand that the word supernatural and anomaly are very closely related whether were talking about the natural world or the supernatural world. And God’s mind nothing is an anomaly and nothing is supernatural. We just wrestle these things because we attempt to understand them one way or the other. Then we designate them such. This is okay to a degree, but think about it as if we were with God and he was explaining things to us. He explained the resurrection and how it happened. He explains the new birth through the Holy Spirit and how it happens. He explains demonic forces. Then he also explains the creation of the world through the Big Bang and through evolution. Once he explains all these things they equal out. There’s no more supernatural or natural. There are no more anomalies or the intervention of God. They all become one. Because you got to remember science is gods, nature is gods, the things we don’t understand we don’t understand either because God is not allowed us to understand them or we have yet to progressed far enough in science to understand them. But they are not one way or another because of some maternal breach the natural hats with the supernatural.

      In saying this creation itself the phenomenon of everything coming into existence is both natural and supernatural. It is the most incredible unfathomable crazy thing to imagine. Yet the fact remains that we all understand that it is true. Therefore we label it one way or another. But it does not take away from its extraordinary nature. The breach that we see between those things that we can explain, those things that we call supernatural, and those things that we call anomalies in science will one day be filled. It will be either here on the earth through the natural progression of science and understanding, or in heaven as God explains things to us. Or it may never be filled.

      • Jimmy

        You’re creating a whole lot of non-falsifiable propositions there. The same ones that the follower of any other deities also make.

        I’ll stay in the naturalist camp of saying “I don’t know, let’s wait and see”. I believe it’s the only rational option at this point in time. If I’m givin more data and better evidence, I could decide that some other option is more rational.

    • Jimmy

      Oh I think I would agree completely. Science needs to be questioned and in fact, science demands that of itself. I would assume that science is at a final stage by any means. It does reach finality in certain areas though over time.

      You have to concede I think, religion goes to great lengths to resist change.. That makes me suspicious of it.

      I wasn’t thinking of sickness and demons, but I was thinking of thunder and lightning and volcanoes etc. Soul? I know not of what you speak. Never viewed any proof of some sort of soul.

      • chaya1957

        That may be why it ends up a mess when we mix science and religion. For progress to occur, science needs to change as new info corrects old. Science is about seeking to disprove a hypotheses, rather than looking for info to prove it and guard it from question. I heard an atheist professor say, “When someone proves me wrong it makes me very happy, because I have learned something new.” That is not the attitude of religion, that finds any new information or change threatening. John Calvin believed anyone who thought the earth revolved around the sun was demon possessed.

        • Clint Roberts

          I’m starting to tire of this dreamy-eyed version of perfectly unbiased scientists who jump up for joy when their theories hit the crap-can. It is nonsense. The philosophers of science have shown us what we might have known about human nature all along: that people tend toward “belief tenacity” and they adopt special love for their own theories (or those they’ve gone to bat for in print).

          BUT, even to the degree that scientists DO proceed in the way you described, so what? Good for them. That’s the process by which this one kind of knowledge advances. I’m glad of it. I enjoy indoor plumbing, air conditioning & all the other goodies that this useful process has yielded.

          But other kinds of knowledge are not like this. There will be no new find that makes basic principles of math, geometry, logic or morality obsolete. We need not hold loosely to the fundamental axioms in these areas in anticipation that we will have to happily let them go and adopt a new paradigm.

          Let’s not get foolish and start acting as though the unique methods employed within the empirical sciences are the methods for all truth discovery. That is just as goofy as if a logician looked down his nose at everything the sciences have discovered since 1900 because they’re all way too new to be respected (compared to the basic truths of logic that have millennia of staying-power behind them).

          • Ryan M

            Clint, your point about scientists not being perfect epistemologists and always looking out for truth even at the expense of their own work and reputations is well taken. Anyone who’s read Thomas Kuhn’s: “The Structure of Scientific Revolutions” and actually been involved in doing science or browsing peer-reviewed journals understands your point. But that’s why the scientific enterprise is peer-reviewed and competitive. Eventually, the more parsimonious and predictive theories carry the day. So, I hope we aren’t going to dispute the obvious, that science is by far the most successful domain of inquiry at predicting and understanding the behavior of matter.

            There’s a subtle claim in there somewhere that truths of logic are to be more respected than recent scientific developments because of their age. Quantum mechanics is one of the strangest, most seemingly illogical scientific disciplines, yet its truths are well demonstrated and employed in many convenient and life-saving devices. I think this demonstrates an important fact about epistemology: Let the universe tell us how it works. Using reason divorced from experience has historically been shown inadequate to predicting/explaining how matter behaves.

        • Glenn Shrom

          How can “religion” have an attitude? There are so many religions, and the religion can’t itself have an attitude. There are many people in any given religion, and each person can have a different attitude.

          Cognitive dissonance is not a happy moment – it is uncomfortable in the short term, but in the long term we can be very happy for it because of what was learned through it. A resolution is sought to bring consonance, and usually we find that resolution and come to greater intellectual and emotional peace. I love learning, even though it is hard work, sort of the way I enjoy exercise sometimes. There may be pain in the process, but the gain makes it worthwhile.

          I don’t think theist versus atheist is what creates the difference in attitude towards learning or having your worldview challenged, but I do believe that the Holy Spirit develops greater humility and maturity in a person than what the person could ever have without His work.

    • C Michael Patton

      Bob,

      I don’t see any in moderation. Let me check spam. If you put links on it, that is what happens.

    • Bob Seidensticker

      Michael:

      Your impression of atheists doesn’t much match my own views (I’m an atheist). I’d like to touch on a few points.

      I’m happy to make concessions, and I agree with your point that acknowledging weaknesses honestly is the way to go.

      “Every atheist knows that there is evidence for God.” OK, but there’s also evidence for most other religions. For starters, that they have/had believers (why would thoughtful adults accept a belief that wasn’t true?). There is a huge cloud of arguments in favor of Christianity, but when the dust settles, there isn’t much there. (That’s an assertion without evidence. Space requires me to be brief. I’ve written more at my blog.)

      “There’s much strength in the traditional arguments for theism.” I disagree strongly (same caveats as above).

      “there is as much warrant for my belief in God as is your belief (were it present) in a “flying spaghetti monster”.” The FSM was invented as a response to Creationism, not Christianity. You’re right that atheists use it to lampoon religion, but I wanted to get that clarification in there.

      “2. You really think it’s a good illustration.” Yes, I do.

      “With the spaghetti monster illustration, the atheist makes the mistake of starting with the second step” Huh? I *grant* (for purposes of the argument) the first step! Where’s the problem?

      “admit your weaknesses” As above, yes, I agree that this is a good policy. Let me know what they are (I’m guessing that we disagree).

      “Concede that atheism does not have a strong explanation for the existence of morals.” I disagree. In the first place, whether atheism has an explanation for a particular thing is irrelevant. (Perhaps you can think of a counterexample?) Look at a map of world religions—the answers to the Big Questions, which religion will proudly tell us is their bailiwick, *depends on location!* The Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, Shintoists, and so on have different answers to these Big Questions. Sure, you can have an answer. That doesn’t mean that it’s well grounded.

      In the second place, we see moral actions in other primates. Evolution does a decent job of explaining morals: a social animal like humans does better when it is trusting, moral, generous, and so on.

      “If you’re honest and say morals don’t exist” *Absolute* morals don’t exist. The regular ones do—look up the word in the dictionary, and I doubt that you’ll find anything about God, transcendence, absoluteness, and so on.

      “the atheist, unlike the theist, is not able to claim a miracle” Is there evidence for this miracle? If so, bring it forward so we can analyze it and perhaps accept the existence of miracles. If not, you’re wasting our time with groundless claims.

      (continued in part 2)

    • Bob Seidensticker

      (Trying part 2 again.)

      “Atheists generally don’t like being called “atheists”.” Works for me.

      “Again, this is an attempt to shift (dare we say avoid) the burden of proof.” Don’t imagine that our positions are symmetrical. The null hypothesis with any incredible claim (and “A supernatural god exists who created everything” is about as incredible as they come) is that it is false. But I’m open minded—tell me why you make that claim.

      I can and do make the positive claim “God doesn’t exist.” But that’s a step 2. With step 1, you’re the one making the bold claim, and the burden of proof rests on your broad shoulders.

      “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.” Yes (tragically) those advocating for leprechauns and Thor are pretty much all gone. But what does that have to do with the burden of proof? The rules of evidence are different for popular vs. unpopular beliefs?

    • Bob Seidensticker

      (I had a few more points to make in a Part 2, but I’m not able to post. Perhaps that’s Fate telling me to shut up and that I’ve said enough.

      Message received.)

    • C Michael Patton

      I have to admit that I have some hypocrisy here. At least I think it’s hypocrisy. While I would be willing to make concessions towards many aspects of atheism, I would never be able to make a concession towards its rationality in any sense. I actually believe that it is the least rational of all worldview options.

      Having said that, I understand emotionally how difficult she is a minnows and Christianity in particular. I empathize with people who have lost their faith. I empathize with those whose emotions push them in such a direction to where they are there intellect begins to fall apart.

      And I’ve actually gone in that direction before for short period of my life, even while in ministry. I came to a point where I lost all my faith. Or better, I lost my ability to have faith. I came back to the faith not because of rational reasons, as I never lost the rational aspects of Christianity (though my emotions were pulling me in that direction).

      Blind rationality is such an ugly thing to have in the Christian faith. It’s cold, hurtful, and ugly. And that’s what I had. At that point in my life it was not enough. Though it all made logical sense and I could find nothing better—there were no better options—I still did not feel as if I had faith anymore or could continue in the faith.

      In the end the rationality did stabilize me and I was glad it was there. So many times that’s all we may have the stand on. I stood on the questions of why is there something rather than nothing and the historicity of the resurrection of Christ. It was enough for me to say there was nothing else. But we all need more. And when were hurt by God, the emotions overflowing overwhelm our intellect and can even cause us to see our rationality and a completely different light.

      • Jimmy

        No offense is intended, but I think if you ended up having faith because of the question of something rather than nothing and the historicity of the resurrection of Christ, then your requirements were pretty low.

        I’ve studied both of those topics in depth and I’m just not seeing the question of why is there something rather than nothing as a push towards a deity (much less the one mentioned in the bible). I also don’t find much good evidence for the Resurrection of Christ.

        It’s hard enough to determine the reliability of something that isn’t a super natural claim having happened in a certain way in history, I don’t even think one can get close to putting forth good evidence for a super natural event.

        When a natural explanation is available, no matter how far out it is, I think it trumps any super-natural answer.

        Anyways, I know this blog post wasn’t about either of those arguments, so I’ll move on.

        • Glenn Shrom

          Can’t recommend enough the book “Reason Enough” by the late Clark Pinnock. It gives five broad categories in which we find evidence for Christianity, making the point that if any of the five alone were all we had to go on (as is the case with many other religions and belief systems), there wouldn’t be such convincing reason, … but because all five converge, we still can’t call it empirical proof, but we can definitely call it reasonable and convincing.

          A similar work which I can’t say I know as much about, is Mary Poplin’s “Is Reality Secular: Testing the Assumptions of Four Global Worldviews”. I’ve heard her speak on the book, but haven’t actually read it. Three of the worldview categories each contain certain things that match our reality and certain weaknesses. One of them contains all the strengths of the other three, yet answers the weaknesses in the other three. Every idea can be categorized as either true, partly true, or false. Every worldview must contain truth to some degree, or else nobody would hold it; no world view is completely false.

        • Glenn Shrom

          I tried to reply earlier, but it seems to have gotten lost somehow. I was recommending two books. One was Clark Pinnock’s Reason Enough. The other is Mary Poplin’s (with Dallas Willard) Is Reality Secular: Testing the Assumptions of Four Global Worldviews. These both talk about how there is more than just a resurrection and more than just “something rather than nothing”. Reason Enough is a book that goes into five broad categories that converge in Christianity to make it very convincing. Is Reality Secular? is a book that goes into four broad worldview categories, and shows how three have partial truths and total truths (none is altogether false or nobody would believe it) and the other has all the strengths or the other three while also answering the weaknesses of the other three with things that match our reality.

      • Glenn Shrom

        A concession should be made here. “no strong explanation for the existence of morals” should be changed to read that atheists have “no strong defense for the endorsement or judging or preservation of morals.”

        Evolution may be considered an explanation, even perhaps a strong one, but something we have thanks to evolution is not something of ultimate value, not something sacred for us to preserve. Evolution can explain perhaps why mankind cannot fly on our own, but we are free to change that by creating flying devices and machines. If morals are simply a result of evolution and nothing else, then we should be free to change the morals into anything artificial or contrary to them without problems, to go outside of our evolutionary limits.

    • C Michael Patton

      Awesome conversation. I am usually never involved in the comments. I think that is is going to have to be the last one. I hope it does not get flooded and/or one sided for any position.

      God bless you all.

    • Paul Short

      It’s interesting, and revealing, that every atheist who posted here today disagrees with Michael’s definitions of Atheism.

      • Jimmy

        I do not disagree with all of them. I disagree with some of them.

        • Paul Short

          “Some” is enough to prove the point that his blanket generalizations are fallacious.

          • Theresa Easley

            According to you they are. I think you are closed-minded.

    • David Holland

      Atheism summed up in two statements…

      1. There is no such thing as God.
      2. I’m angry with Him.

      • Bob Seidensticker

        2. I’m angry at the Christians excesses within society.

        • Carrie Hunter

          They just evolved to have those excesses. Tis how it is not how it ought to be.

        • William

          I’m angry with Pol Pot, Joseph Stalin, Chairman Moa, Kim Jong Il and all the other atheistic despots who slaughtered more people in their godless beliefs than all the religious wars put together.

          • Bob Seidensticker

            Huh? I don’t think Kim Jong Il was an atheist, but to your overall point: there were bad guys who happened to be atheists (the church was a threat, so they shut it down), but show me a single person killed in the name of atheism.

            Hitler was a vegetarian and he was a bad man. What does that tell us about vegetarianism? Perhaps not a lot.

            • William

              Lol. Ok, my point was this, that all too often people point out some bad things theists have done in the name of their belief. I was pointing out that actually, some atheists have done some pretty bad things also.
              The men I mentioned were atheists. Their set of beliefs led the to the actions they performed.
              The point was, that the original point was no point at all.
              North K is a communist state, and communism does not allow for a god.

            • chaya1957

              I wanted to reply to William, but there is no reply button by his comment.

              North Korea is officially atheist, which doesn’t allow gods, yet Kim Jong Un is their god. What else would you call it when 9 people die because they rushed into a burning building to save a portrait of dear leader?

            • William

              says:
              August 13, 2014 at 4:47 pm

              I wanted to reply to William, but there is no reply button by his comment.

              North Korea is officially atheist, which doesn’t allow gods, yet Kim Jong Un is their god. What else would you call it when 9 people die because they rushed into a burning building to save a portrait of dear leader?

              Well Chaya,

              It certainly doesn’t imply theism. Blind/foolish/naive devotion is not the same as theism.

            • Glenn Shrom

              The vegetarian analysis is perfectly valid, and that is the point many Christians are trying to make when atheists (or anybody) tries to blame religion for the evil in the world. We see titles such as “How Religion Poisons Everything” that makes arguments similar to trying to judge vegetarianism by looking at Hitler.

          • chaya1957

            Not true, look at statistics. Technically, communism has killed more numerically than religion, however, much of that number is due to failed economic policies rather than warfare.

            I was having a discussion with atheists, and I would agree that communism is actually a personality cult religion much like that of ancient Rome, rather than atheism.

            Are you also angry with the church fathers, Popes, reformers who are responsible for bloodshed?

            • William

              Thank you Chaya1957.
              I think the failed economic policies can be put down to the greedy narcissistic attitude of the leaders quite easily. No ultimate authority, they are in control, all they want is a bunch of cash and they can do whatever they want to get it and stay in control.
              As to a personality cult, I don’t think that is quite the same as a religion. Nor would I say ancient Rome falls under that category specifically, since Cesar was claiming to actually be a deity.
              As to your last question, well yes obviously. My initial point as I explained already was simply to point out that Christians are not the only guilty folk of committing heinous crimes.
              In communism, there is no place for a deity at all. Of course atheists would not want to admit that communism incorporates atheism, it makes them look bad.

    • Brandon

      I would like to tackle 3-5. 1 and 2 are impossible to defend. The FSM is a gimmick meant to poke fun at religions and is no more than hyperbole that puts the theist on the defensive. While I have heard many prominent atheists make concessions, there will always be cases where theist think atheists need to concede some points and vice versa.

      3) As you say in #5, atheism is not a full worldview. In my self identification, atheism is not a worldview at all. Atheism has no stance on morality, many atheists are humanists, secular jews, secular christians, or some derivation thereof which provide a basis for their morality. Atheism has no stance on the origin of existence, though many will accept the big bang or simply accept there are unknowns.

      4) Atheists have claimed the free-thinker and open mindedness titles as we are a minority. It takes little thought to believe as your parents, friends, family does. It takes a lot more thought and courage to reject common beliefs and traditions. When you come out as an atheist and lose friends, family, and jobs. When I have told some theists of my position, I have been called Satanist, hedonist, immoral, etc. Granted this doesn’t come from serious apologists, but it does come.

      That being said I think there is a similar courage and free-thinkingness to theists who actively question their beliefs, listen to argument and engage in honest debate. I am more than happy to apply those monikers to theists and atheists alike who demonstrate that ethos. Though I think few, on either side, can accurately be defined as such. The simple truth is that most people place their trust in people they respect and follow.

      5) I happily accept the mantle of atheist, I am not ashamed of it and it accurately defines my position in this debate. However, this does not mean I have the burden of disproof. I freely admit I cannot disprove the concept of a god, because god is poorly defined; the evidence for gods are made up of personal testimony and/or abductive reasoning, there is no demonstrable nor predictive evidence, at least that I have seen. So if god is completely metaphysical and doesn’t intervene in the physical world, there is no proof for or against its existence.

      The most the atheist can prove is that the basis for an individual theistic argument is invalid. Saying there is no possibility for an undefined concept is a preposterous notion.

      As for your questions, this is where you go back on your statements in #3, though I wanted to hit them here since it coincides. You say, in #3, for the atheist to concede atheism’s weaknesses, then you, accurately, admit that atheism is not a “full” worldview. Atheism is not meant to explain the origins of morality, nor is it meant to explain the origin of the universe, life, etc. That is why we fight against theists conflating atheism with religion/worldview.

      So for me, atheism answers none of your questions; I presupposed little based on my being an atheist. However, other concepts I ascribe to, do provide me with deductive justification for them. Atheism is not my worldview, it merely describes the position I take in the debate over the existence of a god or gods.

      • Glenn Shrom

        There are myriads of diverse worldviews all compatible with atheism. One atheist may think history is circular, another linear. One atheist may call certain morals good for society, another may think they are all to be discarded; yet another may think they are good for society AND should be discarded under the idea that society itself is not valued.

    • Steve Cornell

      Very good. Now consider 5 reasons not to be an atheist, http://thinkpoint.wordpress.com/2012/11/29/five-reasons-not-to-be-an-atheist/

    • Wayne

      I think the conversation could be helped along by using unambiguous terms.

      Example: The assertion atheists say that ‘Christianity has no evidence’. What does this even mean?

      That atheists assert that there is no evidence that people who call themselves ‘Christian’ exist?
      That atheists assert that there is no evidence that Christianity sprouted from a first century movement in Palestine based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth?
      That atheists assert that there is no evidence for anything that has ever been asserted by a Christian at any point in history?

      Clarity is much more important than agreement. Without clarity, you can never understand the nature of a disagreement.

    • Paul C. Rhodes

      Yes, the “new atheists” are a group of complete idiots.

      But there are also NOT new atheists. They were always here. And they are not smarter or better than other people. The only made a decision: they will never ever follow any rule only because it is said to come from a higher power.

      That is all.

      Your whole article does not come to that simple point. Why not?

      • C Michael Patton

        Because that lacks gentleness, respect, and truth. But, more importantly, it has nothing to do with what the post is about.

        Even if your comment were true, what good does it due to anyone?

        • Paul C. Rhodes

          A comment is not “true” or “false”. It is a contribution of a new point of view.

          What “lacks gentleness and respect” when I say, that an atheist is not a NEW atheist, but an atheist only made a decision: he will never ever follow any rule only because it is said to come from a higher power.

          That is simple. That is closer to reality than your whole article.

          Why didn’t you come to that simple point every little child understands? Why do you ever think about “new atheists”? They are irrelevant.

          It’s the atheists that count. They do not obey. That means, that do not obey OTHERS who claim to have the truth. They make their own decisions. That’s it.

          It is the simplest thing on earth.

          • Carrie Hunter

            “A comment is not “true” or “false”. It is a contribution of a new point of view.”

            Then why bother correcting Michael. To do so is to suggest something Michael has said is incorrect, untrue, or unhelpful.

          • William

            A comment can be true or false. It depends on the nature of the comment.
            A proposition is a statement that may affirm or deny something and is capable of being true or false. As a part of an argument, a proposition becomes a premise, a premise is a statement that is accepted as true. Two or more premises leading to a conclusion make an argument called a syllogism. So simply put, a proposition says something about reality which is either true or false. Other statements, such as questions or exclamations are not propositions because they are not either true of false.

        • chaya1957

          But it certainly is an example of the not uncommon black and white thinking. I suspect he never sat down over coffee and had a conversation with anyone who held to a different viewpoint.

    • Carrie Hunter

      I think the title of this post could be summed up with “Stop being a Fundamentalist”.

      I say that because the parallels in the thinking between the Fundamentalist Christian and the vast majority of Atheists in contemporary culture is uncanny.

      Their pattern of thinking is identical. While they think about different things the way they think is uncannily similar. Both camps thinking are filled with false either/or dilemmas, irrational rationalism, blindly believing that which they are saying is true without ever having really critically examined it, highly emotional approaches to their views being challenged, and the suspicions that if someone is at least charitable with an opposing view that person is compromising and probably going to end up in “the other camp” because they are already on that path.

      I see it here in the comments from Atheists.

      Hey you lack God belief, your system isn’t a religious one or insert “any given pat objection to pinning down Atheism as an actual worldview system” here. I am not suggesting anything to the contrary when I call you a fundy. What I am suggesting is you think exactly like they do.

      I wonder if it’s to do with perhaps some or most of those who are Atheist today have come out of a ya-just-gotta-believe, folksy type Christianity. And if perchance they never changed *how* they think about things. They just changed what they think about.

      I think I’m on to something here.

      Michael, I may just blog this!

      • Paul C. Rhodes

        The position of the (regular, not “new”) atheist is NOT, that he does not believe in any god.

        His position is that he does not believe the PEOPLE, who claim that they know something about gods. Or that they have relevant rules or messages from gods.

        Atheists do not believe these PEOPLE.

        And the only problem is: all we ever heard about gods comes from these PEOPLE.

        • Carrie Hunter

          Paul –

          As I said above ^

          “….. or insert “any given pat objection to pinning down Atheism as an actual worldview system” here. I am not suggesting anything to the contrary when I call you a fundy. What I am suggesting is you think exactly like they do.

      • chaya1957

        True, nothing like seeing oneself in the mirror and not liking the reflection.

        I’ve had some interesting experiences. Question the integrity and “science,” of bullies like Ken Ham, and I am called an atheist. Point out flaws of George Bush back in the day when evangelicals had, “their,” boy in office, and I was labeled a communist. It is nice to speak with people who are at least literate.

    • Carrie Hunter

      Oh wait a new worldview –

      Atheistsism. Not Atheism.

      Athesistism is someone who does not believe in Theists. Or they lack belief in what the Theists claims. Or …

      Oh dear Lord. Honestly.

      • Paul C. Rhodes

        I don not believe what the PERSON Moses, or the PERSON Mohammed or the PERSON Paulus or the PERSON Jesus or whatever PERSON says about gods.

        Or YOU say about gods.

        That is the real conflict. I do not believe YOU.

        And you (like many other religious people) cannot live with that fact without becoming aggressive.

        That is YOUR problem. Not mine.

        • Carrie Hunter

          Paul, I am not really seeing where I’m being aggressive.

          I actually looked over all I said and I genuinely don’t see it.

          Sure, I’ve made assertions. But I’m not shouting or crying or moaning about anything.

        • William

          Paul,
          What about yourself? Would you believe your own reasoning if it led you to the conclusion that there may be a god? or just dismiss it as erroneous thinking?

    • C Michael Patton

      Keep it more civil and irenic. This blog tries to be different. Go out of your way to be kind. A good start would be to stop using CAPS so much. There is too much emotion coming through in your posts right now.

      I do appreciate you being here.

    • C Michael Patton

      Watch how Jimmy posts. He is a great example.

    • William

      Jimmy rocks.

      • Jimmy

        Jimmy doesn’t really rock that much. I’ve just beat my brains out trying to beat the brains out of believers to make them see it my way. It doesn’t work and in fact works the opposite.

        I found myself being disgusted with believers insisting that they have some truth and their lack of willingness to entertain that they could be wrong. I’ve now realized that I’ve insisted that I’m right and I’ve had a lack of willingness to accept that I may be wrong.

        When I was a believer (for 30 years or so), I never stopped to think I may be wrong. No offense to the believers, but I consider that to be 30 years wasted (even though that’s most likely not true, as it shaped me in some ways for the better).

        I just want to know the truth and I don’t want to inhibit my own ability to interpret what is true. Dogmatism, no matter the world view is an inhibition to being open to find out you’re wrong.

        • William

          One thing I struggle with, and it sounds odd, is eschatology.
          Simply put, I wonder about the universe and how it is supposed to ‘get sorted’ by God at the end of time.
          For example, our universe is expanding and will eventually fizzle out into nothingness, so when God is making this ‘new heaven and new earth’ is He going to adopt a steady state model, one that will never come to an end as the Bible says?
          And if so, why didn’t He do that in the first place? It all seems contrived, to me.

          • Jimmy

            Never heard anyone wonder about that issue William. Fascinating.

            Believers often bring up the cosmological argument. I always want them to answer how did a being..outside of space and time and having existed for eternity suddenly decide to do something?

            I mean the words “when, time, before, and after” have no meaning as the universe is near planck time. We have some pretty reasonable evidence that as cosmic density increases (inversed exponentially for all of time before now and right up until now) that gravity also increase and we know that time is related to gravity and velocity). How would a being outside of time have a progression of ideas and desires?

            I think apologist should concede that the cosmological argument lends nothing as proof of a deity..

            • William

              Yes, it is a weak point of the argument. I think I even read Bill Craig admit that. Though he tries to talk about a vs. b theory of time. These things quickly descent into speculative difficulties and much obfuscation. As for the God of the Bible, God’s name – some have said simply can mean ‘the one who is’ or ‘the self existent one’. I think I saw CMP say that as well as Walter C. Kaiser jnr and Wayne Grudem. (if I’m wrong CMP – sorry) Which is how they get the idea that He is just always there, existing unshackled by that which He has created, namely our universe and its properties including time. That he does not experience a ‘chronos’ time – or events sequentially. You’ve no doubt heard all this before because you have the same idea I do – that exactly how did the ‘when’ occur?. I can believe this concept of God. That this ‘person’ is necessary for all that is, so omniscient he is that if he becomes ‘unaware’ of something, it ceases to exist.

            • Brandon

              I think someone like Bill Craig would say that the explanation does not require and explanation in most cases. Science does lend a little grace here. The example Jimmy
              Craig uses is: Suppose a archeologist finds arrowheads and broken pottery and concludes the artifacts are from an intelligent tribe many years ago. In this case an the explanation for the artifacts has been explained and the explanation (the tribe) does in fact exist. The nature of the tribe does not need to be explained for it to exist. My point is that because God’s reasons are unknown is not a sufficient argument for non-existence.

            • Brandon

              Jimmy
              Sorry for putting your name in front of Craig’s name. Maybe a little proofread next time

          • Brandon

            I wonder if you have considered the creation story on this subject. I understand God’s original plan for heaven and earth to be eternal. But I seems the fall of man required a new covenant between man and God. This covenant required a new heaven and earth. For the Christian this is a false dilemma since God would simply restore the initial natural laws. I realize this comment falls short on many instances, just understand that I wanted to provide a basic concept.

            • William

              Yes I have Brandon. But it doesn’t quite help. Ive read the Bible nearly eight times straight through so I’m reasonably familiar with it.

            • Jimmy

              I’m replying to the post Brandon made above, since I can’t reply to that one directly. No worries on the name issue, I’ve noticed some of my own comments end up looking like they were written by someone who’s first language isn’t English…

              I’m sure Bill Craig would say his excuse doesn’t require an answer. That’s where he goes off of the tracks. He would be correct if he could prove his claim, but he can’t prove it at all, it’s pure conjecture.

              The problem with the analogy is that arrow heads and pottery are well understood, as is the concept of a tribe. Let’s assume we nothing of those materials or beings and that would be more applicable to the cosmological argument.

              In that case any scientist worth is weight would withhold his judgement until he had further data and anyone making claims to know and demonstrating a complete unwillingness to bend to new data would be a fool.

              It’s easy to draw a conclusion when you have empirical evidence to guide you, but in the case of what was before the big bang, we have nothing and know nothing. To claim to know what was before is just making it up in an attempt to support a claim. What William Lane Craig is doing is starting with a conclusion and declaring that what no one else knows makes his conclusion correct.

          • chaya1957

            What if the new heavens and new earth work by entirely new laws of physics?

    • William

      What caused you to doubt and walk away?

      • Jimmy

        Not one thing in particular, but a lot of things. I think it started with a 2 month visit to a busy neonatal intensive care unit. That planted the seed I think (subconsciously). Getting to see a mothers tears run down the side of an incubator as she begged her deity to but take away the cruel torture that life had handed her. Getting to see that the prayers to the christian deity were ignored (as were the prayers to the muslim deity, and the mormon deity, and the jehovah witness diety and so on and so on). Realizing that no matter the diety, the outcomes were the same, realizing that all deities have the same answer, and that answer is Yes, No, or Maybe. Realizing that every believer of every deity is prepared to jump through hoops to maintain faith at all costs. Finally, realizing and accepting that bad shit happens all the time and only those needing to hang onto a dogma need to make up a reason to reconcile their faith. Atheism has answered the questions that theism couldn’t make up a good answer for.

        The list could go on and on. It really was about a six month process and it started when I decided to stop ignoring the doubts and start asking the really hard questions and to stop accepting ‘non-answers” as answers. Ironically, I started the journey from theism to a-theism with a prayer, that prayer was “God, I want to know the truth, I don’t care if I like it or hate it, just truth.”

        I remember the minute that I became an atheist. I was sitting at work, researching biblical innerancy (a belief that most christian do NOT hold to). The data I was absorbing finally reached a tipping point, where I couldn’t have continued belief even if I had wanted to. I was completely stunned at that moment. I had honestly honestly believed that my “search for truth” would confirm that what I believed was really true, but it did the opposite and my commitment to truth had to be allowed what I had promised it.

        Five years down the road now, it was the best decision I’ve ever made (as much as it was a decision). Does one decide to believe in something for which they deem there isn’t sufficient evidence? No, I had no choice in the matter of belief. I can’t begin to believe in santa clause, or the tooth fairy, no matter how much I would like to, I cannot.

        In my opinion, there are no deities that care to interact with humanity in any provable/measurable way. I’m always open if some deity decides it wants me to know something, but so far none have stepped up. The “evidence” offered by those that believe seem to be the same no matter which deity (I’ve studied comparative religion) and I’ve spoken with members of numerous world faiths. They ALL use the same evidences and they all say the same things convinced them of their correct choices and they’re all convinced that everyone that has chosen another deity than their own are fools.

        • Esther O'Reilly

          Jimmy, a couple of things:

          1. First of all, it seems that you would only accept a miraculous intervention in the here and now as sufficient “evidence” for the Christian God. This is unnecessarily restrictive. If there is sufficiently convincing evidence that God miraculously intervened in the past, this shouldn’t just be thrown out the window, any more than we would say “Who knows what Caesar Augustus was up to really, it was all 2000 years ago!” Otherwise we’re falling into the Jesus Superstar trap: “If you’re no fool, come walk across my swimming pool!” If there’s enough evidence already, why does God have to?

          2. While it is unfortunately true that some Christians share the language of Mormons and others that they believe because of the burning in the bosom, the origins of Christian religious claims are vastly different from those of Mormonism, Islam, etc., and rational Christians can test the claims of Christianity and find they are solidly based in evidence. If you sit down soberly and compare all the religions’ origin stories, you’ll come to realize there’s really no comparison between Christianity and the others. These include factors like motivation, sincerity, eyewitness testimony to miraculous claims, whether miracles have been claimed at all, manner of the founder’s death, etc.

          Anyone who says “All religious claims are the same!” clearly needs to study divergent religious claims a bit more.

    • Konrad

      1. There really is no evidence for God. If you or anyone else could produce evidence that there really is a god, then I would not be an atheist.

      Now I’m not entierly opposed to this idea as there are certain supernatural claims I would very much like to be true, its just that none of them are supported by the available evidence.

      2. No we will not kill the FSM. It has a role to play, though granted at the extreme end of the debate, mostly against the creationist movement.

      3. Its for you to demonstrate the that atheism has a unique weakness. And really when it come to Morality is a more general problem in philosophy. At present every explanation ever proposed has had faults problems and edge cases that don’t work.

      4. I don’t really see the relevence of this point. where there is a fact of the matter being free to believe otherwise is not a virtue.

      5. My world view is not purly defined by my Atheism, any more then A Christians world view is defined by the fact they are Christian. If this where the case there would be far less disagreement between people in these communities. And far fewer instance of the No True Scotsman fallacy.

      • Glenn Shrom

        I think Michael Patton’s point is not, with his blog post here, to show weaknesses in the atheistic worldview, but to lay some civil and rational ground rules to use when world view is discussed. If the ground rules are acceptable and followed, let the debate thrive; that is what Michael seems to be saying. If people can’t admit their world view’s weaknesses, for instance, the integrity of the intellectual debate suffers and we can’t really evaluate the world views well.

    • C Michael Patton

      Notice how many who post here illustrate the post. All faiths and anti-faiths have their closed minded fundamentalists.

      I continue to encourage those who are such to listen to what I have said here. The closed minded attitude suggests an insecurity in one’s position. The more black and white one acts like things are reveals a grey conviction.

      Of course, many of us have no choice in our present condition as we are insecure. Therefore, my encouragement cannot be followed. What I encourage in such circumstances is to relax you ego. Being wrong isn’t that bad. Being unsure and admitting it is part of the human condition of finitude. Open yourself up to the mysteries that might exist beyond you current conviction. It might be uncomfortable and it might have implications that are weighty, but we should be seekers of truth above all else.

      • Bob Seidensticker

        And you take this medicine yourself? You’re open to new ideas, and you admit that you might be wrong?

        I like your talk, but very few Christians that I talk with are eager to go where the evidence points.

    • C Michael Patton

      No, but I try. None of us are as consistent as we should be. Emotional commitments are very strong. No such thing as white coat theology (or science for that matter)!

    • C Michael Patton

      I ask my students if they think they can approach theology objectively for the purpose of the class. “Hang your theology up at the door and you can get it when you leave.” Most importantly, I ask them if they think they can do that. When they respond “yes”, I tell them they have just been disqualified. It is only when we admit we can’t that they grip of tradition, emotions, and preconvictions begin to loosen their grip ever so slightly.

      • chaya1957

        Thank you for the honesty. Perhaps your students are mostly young and looking for you to fill their waiting minds and hearts with truth? An older person who has experienced life might think differently.

        How much of your own traditions, emotions, preconvictions are you willing to let go of?

      • Jimmy

        I think that’s brilliant Michael!

        But I do think you’re working against most of the previous religious teachers, their parents, and their churches who have taught them to hang on to that faith no matter what. I’ve talked with many many christians that told me no matter what evidence there was, they’re not changing their mind.

        • chaya1957

          Think about it. They refuse to even look at evidence because changing their mind would not only destroy their social network, emotional sense of security and identity; it might lead them to burning in Hell for eternity.

    • Isaiah

      This is a good post. I truly feel where some people are coming from in regards to suffering. Very interesting to see why people reject God because He doesn’t intervene personally though He did in the Person of the Son about 2,000 years ago. The church needs to wake up and realize it is through us and by us in the Spirit that bring heaven to earth. Love to hatred and peace to war but we must never forget we have a responsibility as did Adam to cultivate the garden so to speak.

      • Jimmy

        Doing so in person for someone 2000 years ago is fabulous, but it doesn’t do a thing for me. I know lots of church members, my mom died recently, she was a very devout christian. As her power of attorney, as she suffered and died a miserable death, I was careful to allow what I thought she would want. I allowed anyone and everyone to come and pray for her, even anointed her with oil and all of that.

        Didn’t make the tiniest bit of difference in her suffering.

    • C Michael Patton

      One of the best ways to illustrate my thoughts in this post (and I should have included this in the OP) is that if this post were written by an atheist, I would probably visit that site every day. I would be disturbed that someone had enough confidence to write such a critique, yet compelled by the honesty. Ironically, I would be closer to converting due to the admission of weakness than the proclamation of confidence.

      Would you all agree?

      • Paul Short

        Can you rephrase the question? I don’t get what you’re asking.

    • C Michael Patton

      Konrad,

      Could it be that there is evidence for God, just not, in your opinion, sufficient enough to warrant belief?

      • Paul Short

        Only the most bigoted and ignorant Atheist would say there is “no” evidence for god.

        Almost all atheists would fall into the category of “insufficient enough to warrant belief”

      • Konrad

        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.

    • 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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