“I contend we are both atheists, I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours.” —Stephen F Roberts

This is a quote that is found often on the lips of atheists these days. It can be summed up this way: “I don’t have to take the time to reject Christ any more than you have to take the time to reject all the millions of gods that are out there. It just happens by default. The justification for my atheism is the same as yours with respect to your rejection of all the other possible gods.”  

While I understand the spirit of this quote, I think it fails to understand some of the very basic beliefs that Christians are claiming about their God as opposed to “the other possible gods.”

I have heard my favorite atheist, Christopher Hitchens, compare belief in Jesus to belief in the Tooth Fairy or Santa Clause. This is really saying the same thing using different illustrations. But he also likes the “I don’t believe in other gods thing too.” As he once said, “No, I don’t believe in Yahweh. I don’t believe in Hercules either.”

As effective as these types of implicit appeals of association might be emotionally, they miss the mark completely.  All assume a parallel that is simply not present when the claims are understood and the evidence is considered.

Take the “I don’t believe in Hercules” argument for example. This assumes a parallel between belief in Christ and a belief in any one of the millions of gods that have ever existed, especially those who belonged to a system of religion which espoused many gods (polytheism). These type of systems are represented by ancient Egyptian, Canaanite, Assyrian, Greek, and Roman cultures (as well as others today). There is really not too much difference between the basic philosophical structure of each.

There are two primary reasons why I believe drawing parallels between belief in these gods (or Tooth Fairies) are misleading:

1. The type of belief

Whether we are speaking of this from a political or rural position, the commitment to religious pantheonism (note: not “pantheism”), especially of the Egyptian, Greek, and Roman world, don’t have as committed adherents as we often think. The religious culture that Christianity demands needs to be distinguished here. People did not really believe in Shu, Nut, Hercules, Baal, Wearisomu, Enki, Utu, Diana, and the like in the same way that people believe in Yahweh. Their belief was more of a social convention which included all the pressures that such a system demanded. Their gods were more “faddish” than anything else. Their existence was rather fluid, changing and even morphing into other gods and sometimes moralistic ideals such as “justice” and “reason.” This is why the Caesers could so easily deify themselves and expect people to jump on the bandwagon. Did these people really suddenly believe Caeser was a god? If so, what does this say about the type of belief they had? Both in the philosophical world of the day and among the laity, “belief” as we think of it, was not present.

Don’t get me wrong. I know that we have “faddish” Christianity today where people follow the tide of the culture in believing in Christ the same way that people believed in these ancient gods. In this social folk religion, there is a parallel. But the basis for belief in these other gods was founded on social convention, not philosophical, rational, and historic necessity as is the case with Christianity. Christianity exists not because of rural pragmatism, but because of historic events.

2. The type of god

More importantly, the gods of these pantheons were/are not really gods in the proper sense. In order to call them such is a misunderstanding of what “god” means. In other words, they were functional deities who carried a role that was expedient to the life and happiness of the people. They were the gods of rain, sun, crops, war, fertility, and the like. They were the “go-to” immanent forces who had no transcendence or ultimate creative power. They were more like superheroes from the Justice League than gods. In this system, human beings and these gods shared the same type of life, having similar problems and frustrations. The deistic philosophy of the people did not center around a “universe” in which one god was controlling and holding all things together, but a “multiverse” where each god was responsible for his or her respective career. Therefore, these gods would have much more in common with the Tooth Fairy and Santa Clause than they would with the God that the Bible describes. 

While most systems had a “top dog,” if you will (Zeus, Re, Enlil, Marduk, etc), these were not thought of as the ultimate creators of all things who, out of necessity, transcend space and time. They were simply really, really powerful beings that happened to be caught up in the same world we are. More powerful than us mortals? Yes. But none qualify for the title “God.”

Christianity believes in only one God (monotheism). We believe this not simply because we want to have the most powerful being out of the millions, but out of theological and philosophical necessity. We believe that God created all things out of nothing. We believe that existence necessitates a “first cause” or an “unmoved mover.” This first cause is by definition God. Simply put, whoever started it all (the time, space, matter creation) is the only true God. There cannot be multiple first causers. God, while able to interact and love mankind, must transcend all that we see and know. He must be outside of our universe holding it all together, not simply the most powerful actor in our current play. We are simply talking about two different species here. One that is transcendently holy, both ontologically (who he is in essence) and morally (what he does) and the other which is but a hair’s breath from us.

In the end, the theistic type of God espoused by Christianity cannot be compared to the pantheon of gods of polytheistic religions. It is comparing apples to oranges.

Let’s look at this statement again:

“I contend we are both atheists, I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours.” —Stephen F Roberts

I understand perfectly why Stephen F Roberts and Christopher Hitchens reject all the other gods. It is because they reject polytheism. But I don’t understand how this parallels to the rejection of the Christian God. It is a slight of hand to make such a comparison (effective as it may be). People believe in these two completely different things for completely different reasons and, therefore, must reject the two differently.  The same arguments used against these gods cannot be used effectively against the Christian God. Once polytheism as a worldview is rejected, all the millions of gods go with it. I don’t have to argue against each, one at a time.

My time is up, but I understand the much needed sequel. While there is a philosophical barrier that does not allow us to equate belief in the Christian God to belief in the myriad of gods in polytheistic systems, this does not mean that the Christian God cannot be compared to the god of Islam. However, if Stephen F Roberts would have said, “When you understand why you dismiss Allah, you will understand why I dismiss Yahweh,” then it would be philosophically correct. The comparison would be in tact and the conversation would not be manipulated into this accept-all-or-nothing resolve. However, it still would not make sense. I do reject Allah and my reasons are very specific. But they are not the same reasons why he rejects Christ.


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]

    79 replies to "Why I Reject Other Gods: An Answer to Stephen F Roberts"

    • A. M. Mallett

      Robert’s forgot to mention he was a firm believer in the god of self.

    • Gary Simmons

      Positively golden.

    • Vinny

      People may have different reasons for believing in leprechauns, gnomes, sprites, fairies, unicorns or dragons, but the reason for rejecting belief is the same for all of them, lack of evidence. I would agree that believing in a monotheistic God is much more rational than believing in Thor and Odin, but I think the reason that you reject Thor and Odin is the absence of evidence that they exist, which is the same reason that Roberts rejects your God.

    • Daniel Pulliam

      @ Vinny. Is it the absence of evidence, or a refusal to accept the evidence presented?

      • Randy

        And exactly where is the evidence?

    • C Michael Patton

      Exactly.

      People can’t compare the reasons for belief in an immanent super powerful being (whether Thor or Santa Clause) with the belief in a transcendent uncaused cause.

    • John B

      I agree with Daniel. Evidence can always be found for belief of some kind of another. Whether that evidence is counted acceptable or not is a subjective matter.

      I would like to read the follow-up post on Allah. 🙂

      • Randy

        @John B

        Evidence isn’t subjective. “Faith” is subjective and that’s what any religion bases its “evidence” on.

    • Vinny

      Michael,

      I am not comparing the reason for belief. I am comparing the reason for disbelief.

      Daniel,

      I think it is probably a question of the sufficiency of the evidence.

    • C Michael Patton

      Vinny,

      Would you say that the validity of disbelief for Thor is equal to the validity of disbelief in Christianity?

      As well, would you agree that one cannot classify the type of deity that Thor is to the type of God Christianity is proclaiming?

    • bethyada

      The solution to this argument is to note (as you have hinted at in a round about way) that the argument is nonsense: the person is comparing a quantitative difference with a qualitative one. A disagreement over the number of objects is completely (logically) distinct from a disagreement over the the existence of such objects.

    • Vinny

      Michael,

      That is a very interesting way to phrase the question.

      On the one hand, I might say that disbelief is valid when there is insufficient evidence to make the proposition more likely than not. In that case, the validity of disbelief is not a matter of degrees and the disbelief in Christianity is just as valid as the disbelief in Thor.

      On the other hand, it seems clear to me that belief in a monotheistic God is more rational that belief in Thor and that belief in most forms of Christianity is more rational than belief in Thor. I guess that means that disbelief in Thor is more valid than disbelief in the monotheistic God of Christianity. I think that the reason for disbelief is still essentially the same.

    • Christianity rejects other gods because it claims to have found the one God that transcends all the others and makes them unnecessary and irrelevant. It is not that we start eliminating gods and have only one left, but we start with a God who is true and sees the others as contrary to the true God. Christians and atheists reject the polytheistic gods for opposite reasons so there is no real analogy. God is not the one flashlight left after the others go out, but the sun who makes all flashlights unnecessary.

    • DagoodS

      The quote is accurate—albeit not communicated well. It is a statement on methodology; a focus on the reasons why we accept our own beliefs to exclusion of others. Perhaps emphasizing one word to demonstrate:

      “When you understand why you dismiss all other possible gods…”*

      That ”why” refers to a method; a meticulous, initially skeptical approach whereby the person requires persuasive evidence before believing a proposition. It is the demand theists require convincing arguments from opposing theistic claims, yet often give their own claims “the benefit of the doubt” or “it is possible…”

      Once we conceptualize our own rigorous demands upon other god-concepts, we may understand why others (using the same uncompromising requirements) reject our own position. For example, many creedal Christians are not convinced regarding the Book of Mormon’s claims of silk, iron, steel, and horses in Mesoamerica, because no convincing archeological proof has supported the claim. Yet these same Christians tightly hold to a belief in the Exodus—an event with equal lack of archeological proof!

      We could apply the statement as:

      “When you understand why you dismiss the Mormon claim of steel in Mesoamerica [because you require archeological proof; the Book of Mormon is not persuasive enough on its own], you will understand why I dismiss your claim of the Exodus [because I require archeological proof; the Tanakh is not persuasive enough on its own.]”

      *the quote presumes the person is using reasoning to arrive at their conclusions. If the person is a Christian because “Jesus is Cool” or in order to date a prospective spouse, this doesn’t really work.

    • Hodge

      Dagoods,

      Actually it’s a bit more complicated than that. Christians reject Mormon beliefs based on their ultimate beliefs gained from the Bible. Evidence to a Christian has to do with whether the Christian’s authority says something is true. All data is then pulled through this grid and interpreted accordingly. Likewise, the atheist has his authority in himself, i.e. his senses. Hence, only his observation of the physical world is capable of being verified as true. Since he does not experience what the Bible says is true (not because it is not, but because his ultimate authority and beliefs dictate against interpreting the world that way), he rejects the exodus, Christianity, etc. The real question, then, is whether one of these ultimate beliefs is self contradictory. If atheism requires empirical evidence to verify truth, what empirical evidence (absent of a belief that drives its interpretation a priori) verifies empiricism without assuming it first?

    • Michael T.

      Hey Hodge,
      Not that I disagree with you necessarily – more so just trying to understand you’re method of apologetics better so I have a couple questions.

      1. How do you define ultimate belief?? I sometimes get confused when you use this term because you seem to use it different ways sometimes (at least from my understanding)?

      2. Do you completely reject empiricism? I mean if I put a mustard seed and a orchid seed before you are you going to tell me the mustard seed is bigger because the Bible says it is even though you’re eyes tell you otherwise??

      3. How do you respond to people like William Lane Craig and others who claim that they have personally convinced people based upon the evidence as well as former atheists who claim that they have been convinced by this evidence?

    • […] Parchment and Pen – Why I Reject Other Gods: An Answer to Stephen F Roberts […]

    • DagoodS

      Hodge,

      It’s always more complicated. *wink* I understand creedal Christians view claims through their own parameters, and may reject other claims—such as Mormon claims—simply because it is contrary to the creedal Christian’s belief.

      I used the example because a quick google search regarding Mormon claims and archeology will result in many citations regarding Christians utilizing archeology to prove Mormon claims incorrect. And I have interacted with many such Christians who do hold to the Exodus with its equal lack of archeological backing.

      Obviously this doesn’t apply to all Christians—I was merely using it as an example to attempt explaining the point.

    • cherylu

      Question for DagoodS or anyone else that has an answer out there:

      If I have correct information, there has been no proven archeological evidence at all for the claims made in Mormon Scripture. Is this correct or not?

      DagoodS,

      If it is true that Mormon Scripture has no archeological proof at all, it seems to me that would put it in a whole different ball park then Christian Scriptures which do have a lot of archeological evidence behind them. Not every thing in the Bible has been proven by archeology. However, doesn’t the fact that much has been proven seem to show a much greater liklehood that even something like the Exodus will be shown to be true by future findings? Or, for that matter, that it is still true even if no archeological findings are ever found?

      It seems to me that knowing at least some parts of a books history are accurate from archeology certainly increases the chances that the rest is true too over the chances of any of a books history being true when no evidence has been found to support it at all.

    • Vinny

      I have never read any Mormon apologetics, but I did hear in one of The Great Courses from The Teaching Company that they can make a respectable argument for Joseph Smith lacking the knowledge and skill needed to come up with the Book of Mormon by himself. I think it was in American Religious History by Patrick Allit of Emory University. Professor Allit, who is definitely not a Mormon, said that they can do a pretty good job of debunking most of the alternative hypothesis that have been proposed to explain how the book was created. I don’t know anything more about the argument than that, but I found it interesting because it seems to parallel the form of arguments for the resurrection that rely heavily on debunking alternatives.

      If the ability to debunk naturalistic explanations is sufficient basis to conclude that a miracle has taken place, maybe the Mormons have a good case.

    • DagoodS

      cherylu,

      It depends on your level of credulity. According to Mormon apologists, Copan Stela B demonstrates elephants in Mesoamerica in 2500 BCE to support the Book of Mormon. I am not convinced for a number of reasons.

      Likewise, according to some Christians, the Ipuwer Papyrus is archeological proof the ten plagues happened. For many of the same reasons, I am equally not convinced.

      Simply put, there are archeological finds. They are rarely convincing to those who do not believe the same as the apologist. Not many creedal Christians convert to Mormonism based upon finding Nahom in Saudia Arabia.

      I would agree with the general premise that if some things within an ancient book are supported by archeology, this provides greater credibility that other items might also be true. However, this depends on what has been supported, and what is being claimed. The Exodus would be particularly hard to support, and at this point would take a miraculous archeological find—the equivalent of finding Joseph Smith’s golden plates!

    • Hodge

      Michael,

      1. How do you define ultimate belief?? I sometimes get confused when you use this term because you seem to use it different ways sometimes (at least from my understanding)?

      I use “ultimate belief” to describe a foundational belief, or starting point, from which one’s knowledge/understanding of the world stems. It cannot be reasoned to, and must simply be believed. In other words, it can only be evaluated for its consistency, but not from another overarching belief (otherwise, it’s not ultimate). It’s essentially, then, a presupposition that drives other secondary beliefs based upon it. I view one’s belief about God (or lack thereof) as an ultimate belief. I can be buried in multiple secondary beliefs that contradict it, simply because most people don’t question their secondary beliefs too often. When they finally do, they often try to make their secondary beliefs more consistent with their ultimate or primary ones.

      2. Do you completely reject empiricism? I mean if I put a mustard seed and a orchid seed before you are you going to tell me the mustard seed is bigger because the Bible says it is even though you’re eyes tell you otherwise??

      Yes, I completely reject empiricism, which is a naturalistic methodology of inquiry. I completely accept empirical knowledge, which is simply one method of obtaining SOME knowledge of a particular object or phenomenon. I would not see the Bible as teaching that the mustard seed is the smallest seed in the world. I would see the Bible as teaching the Exodus, although it is possible to believe that the Bible does not teach the Exodus, but only the theology it communicates. I personally believe otherwise though.

    • Hodge

      3. How do you respond to people like William Lane Craig and others who claim that they have personally convinced people based upon the evidence as well as former atheists who claim that they have been convinced by this evidence

      Craig’s methodology would not be mine, but I don’t discount the need to discuss historical evidence for the resurrection. My issue would be: 1. We’re commanded to give the gospel and people need to believe not see, otherwise, they are still just believing themselves and relying upon naturalistic empiricism (although to be fair, Craig’s apologetic is not completely empirical). Instead, the Spirit causes one to believe the report and place his or her life in that. Naturally convincing someone is problematic, but can be used by the Spirit (I don’t deny that).
      2. Many people may already have certain presuppositions that allow them to consistently apply Craig’s argument to what is already presupposed. It is also a possibility, and a truth if the person has really become a Christian, that the Spirit has caused them to believe the gospel through its being proclaimed in apologetics, and their ultimate beliefs have been replaced.

    • Hodge

      DagoodS,

      I see. I agree that the evidentialists do this, and if applying the same principles to the Bible, they may end up rejecting some events in the Bible as being literal (although not necessarily indicating that the Bible is not true).

      Our presuppositions allow us to see the evidence for the Exodus as either non-existent (ala you), very existent (ala James K. Hoffmeier), somewhat existent, or irrelevant (ala me).

    • Hodge

      Cheryl,

      As one who used to do a lot in Mormon apologetics, their claims, in regard to archaeological evidence (e.g., the Hebrews being here and genetically linked to Native Americans) are rejected by most archaeologists.
      No scholar I know, except for Mormon scholars, would say that Joseph Smith couldn’t have produced the Book of Mormon from his lack of education. The vast majority of that book is copied out of the KJV. If you read it, you’ll see that the Old English is retained in a century that no longer uses it.

    • cherylu

      Hodge,

      Just to clarify, is there anything at all, as far as you know that is accepted by most archeologists that substantiates any Mormon claims?

      I am trying to be certain of this in my own mind as much as trying to make a point to anyone else.

    • Hodge

      Cheryl,

      I’m not aware of minor issues, but all of the major issues of which I am aware (e.g., the Book of Abraham, Native Americans being related to Hebrews, etc.) don’t pan out. The Native American inscriptions that are claimed by Mormons to verify their positions don’t. DNA testing has not worked out. Above all, the Book of Abraham says nothing like what Joseph Smith claimed it did (and I can verify that one myself because I read Egyptian). Of course, any argument can be made from anything, but certain things are either unlikely or just plain contradictory. This doesn’t mean Mormonism is false. It just means that this stuff can’t be used to verify it (although I think the Book of Abraham thing may show that Joseph Smith’s translation ability was fraudulent). Of course, the profs at BYU are going to argue otherwise, but that’s because they think they need this stuff to give credence to Mormonism.

    • cherylu

      Thanks, Hodge.

    • charles

      the bible is mythology. jesus never existed. the notion of god is nonsense.

    • JasonC

      From the blog –

      “This is why the Caesers could so easily deify themselves and expect people to jump on the bandwagon. Did these people really suddenly believe Caeser was a god? If so, what does this say about the type of belief they had?”

      According to the Bible, Christianity was largely rejected by the Jewish community, and they thusly turned to the Gentiles, mostly Romanized Pagans, for converts.

      I wonder if this is why Jesus could so easily deify himself and expect people to jump on the bandwagon. Did these people really suddenly believe that Jesus was a god? If so, what does that say about the type of belief they had?

    • Stephen Wolfe

      All you have to have to say to show this quote is absurd is to point out that every subject, no matter if it is ethics, philosophy of science, epistemology, philosophy of mind, anthropology, sociology, or most certainly Psychology, has thousands of different views all claiming to be correct. For Roberts to be at all consistent he would have to admit that everything he believes must logically be arbitrary in the same way as his atheism. If Christian monotheism is one of a thousand choices, as is atheism, and by choosing to believe one or the other is purely arbitrary given the amount of options, then choosing a particular branch of Kantian ethics is just as arbitrary given that ethics has thousands of different options.

      He can’t have his cake and eat it too.

      • Randy

        Atheism is not a religion. I think you missed that point.

        • Dave

          Nowhere does he say that atheism is a religion. It’s one of the choices of worldviews and truth claims about the universe.

    • […] about this as well.  Michael Patton has done a good job formulating the beginning of a response already.  I would encourage you to read his thoughts on the matter.  He even takes on the claim that […]

    • Thad

      Hi cherylu

      There is no substantive evidence to support LDS archeological claims. Also, there is so much evidence, internally and externally (with regard to the Book of Mormon) to show that Jospeh Smith plagiarized many books and the KJV Bible, in order to ‘produce’ the BOM. He is regarded as a trickster and conman.

      God bless,

      Thad

    • Thad

      IT would be interesting to see how Stephen F Roberts defines ‘god’ and if he draws a distinction between the Christian God (triune) and the non-Christian god(s).

    • Thad

      “I contend we are both atheists, I just believe in one fewer god than you do.”
      This is an illogical, non-sequitur statement. Is it being suggested by the author that a person can be both a believer in God/a god and still be an atheist?? Isn’t this a contradiction in terms???

      • Randy

        [quote=Thad]Isn’t this a contradiction in terms???[/quote]

        No, it’s just a clever way of pointing out that religions are being hypocritical by denying other religious fairy tales while still believing their own.

    • Pow

      You are deciding how the people of Roman and Greek societies believed? thats oddly presumptuous not to mention judgmental to say that “oh well see its a silly comparison between Yahweh and Hercules because ya know they just didn’t believe in Hercules as much as we believe in our god.”

    • Danny

      Swing…and a miss! Yikes. The author completely missed the point. Unfortunate too, it looks like they spent a little time on it.

      • Dave

        So do you have an actual rebuttal to the argument? Or just meaningless tripe that adds absolutely nothing to the dialogue?

    • Snowflake

      The fact that you do not get it, is what gives this argument it’s validity…

      It’s a mirror, whatever criticism you give the image reflects back at you and whatever validity you impose upon yourself, also is imposed upon the individual in the mirror.

      The fact that this blind spot in your reasoning remains there, is what makes this such a favorite argument amongst atheists.

      You keep not getting it…. that person in the mirror, is you.

      As if your religion is actually more probable then all the other ones COMBINED.

      • Dave

        The fact that you do not understand the rebuttal if what makes you an idiot. It’s not a mirror, because the author shows distinct differences between between the monotheistic Abrahamic God, and the ancient pagan religions He is being compared to. The fact that you can’t see that disproving that analogous relationship between two things being compared disproves the comparison is what makes this argument completely and utterly meaningless, and the sooner you give it up, the sooner we can move onto legitimate issues. You keep not getting it… they are two different things, that cannot be compared in the manner asserted by this shitfaced “argument”.
        As if millennia of philosophy, metaphysics, theology, and epistemology don’t support Christianity. Try reading some Aristotle, Plato, Augustine, Anselm, Aquinas, Descartes, Leibniz, Kant, Plantiga, etc…

    • MG

      Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Is that really monotheism? And what about Satan? How does he fit into the one god theme?

      • Dave

        God is one in nature and three in persons. They are not separate deities. Satan is a fallen angel, angels are not deities, they are just beings, albeit slightly higher than humans through their creation, but lower in final glory.

    • Jared

      The author is either a clueless idiot or THE most intellectually dishonest fool on the planet. Like the coward with no argument that he is, he tries to sidestep the question by running to ancient pagan deities, like Hercules. No. Not gonna happen, jackass.

      There are only 2.1 billion Christians on the planet. The VAST majority (of the remaining 7 billion) believe something else. Approximately 1.9 billion Muslims plus approximately 1 billion Hindus plus every other non-Christian who collectively represent nearly five-sevenths of humanity don’t believe in Hercules or Thor or Baal or Apollo or any of the other gods that this idiot is drawing reference to.

      The author’s argument fails. And largely so.

      • Dave

        Well… the argument is based off of comparison to ancient pagan deities… read the essay “Memorial Service” by HL Mencken from 1922 (or the 500 Dead Gods argument for the same argument with a more exhaustive list of pagan deities).
        If you really want to get your noggin’ joggin’, read the respone to the Russell’s Teapot argument in the book “Why People Don’t Believe”.
        I also enjoy how you respond to his rebuttal of the argument (which is based upon circular logic and fallacies such as the appeal to popularity) with another appeal to popularity: “oh more people believe in something other that Christianity, Christianity must be fake”. You’re an idiot and should be ashamed of yourself. Next time think before you type.

    • Darren

      I shall keep it brief for time and space limitations.
      The author’s refutation of Roberts is mostly knocking down of a Straw Man. The author claims belief in Yahweh / Christ is not equate-able with ancient polytheisms. Maybe yes, maybe no, but only a small subset of Robert’s argument. The rejection of equivalence ‘feels’ sound to the faithfull, no sense arguing.
      Let us hit closer to home. Brahmans, Muslims, Jehova’s Witnesses, Scientologists, and all manner of contemporaries.
      I read The Case for Christ recently. Much trumping of “evidence” and “proof”, but such as it is falls into two camps: self-referential, i.e. the Bible says that that Bible is true, therefore it is true; and evidence that there actually _were_ Christians. The fact that a holy book claims that it is true, and that a group of people believe it, is not compelling evidence that it is true. See Brahmins, and Muslims, and Mormons, etc, all making the same claims.
      My personal favorite, the Mormons. I like the Mormons as we are only a bit further out from Joseph Smith, timewise, than the writers of the gospels were to Jesus Christ. Apply the same logic and standards of evidence to the Book of Mormon, then come back and tell me exactly how the Baptist version is more true than the Mormon version, and we can talk.

    • Henrique

      You wrote so much and didn’t really say anything.

      You reject the polytheism just because you believe in monotheism.

      You say that romans and greeks didn’t really believe in their gods, but where do you support this claims?

      And taking your final claim as acceptable… why don’t you believe in Allah?

      PS.: I’m not an Atheist.

      • Dave

        We know through logic that any polytheist worldview is impossible. “There is only one God and, according to the laws of logic, there can be only one. If there were two gods, then the one god would be a limit on the other; neither of the two would be infinite, neither one perfect; in these respects neither of the two would be ‘God’.”
        “The supreme being must be unique, without equal. . . If God is not one, he is not God” (Tertullian, Adv. Marc., 1, 3, 5: PL 2, 274).
        The the quote by Stephen Roberts is based on the 1922 Essay “Memorial Service” by HL Mencken which alludes entirely to ancient pagan polytheistic religions when questioning the legitimacy of the Christian God.
        This leaves us with a few monotheistic religions. And on top of that, the whole argument is an appeal to popularity and what people regard as untrue, rather than what is actually true.
        Furthermore, it’s not an “all or nothing” matter, it has now been reduced to an “one or none” matter. In this case, proving the existence of one of these monotheistic Gods would disprove the rest. And the existence of God has been proven dozens of times, by Aristotle, Plato, Augustine, Anselm, Aquinas, Descartes, Kant, Plantinga, etc..

    • lazerpants

      I’m in total agreement with Henrique. This entire post is like a pamphlet distributed by christians about how they debunk evolution, but do not infact debunk anything at all.

      You claim that a all knowing, all encompassing “God” is more likely then a Germanic god like Thor. That’s a big assumption right there buddy.

      There is NO objective reasoning behind any of the things you use as an argument. If you use an absurd axioma as a basis, then by default the absurd can be explained and argumented to be correct if the said axioma is used.

      Axioma:x & y e of |R: x + y = x in |R
      proof: 2 + 0 = 2

    • TE5LA

      There is not a single thread of credible evidence that a Christian god exists. People claim that God answers prayers. So why is it there has never been a person missing an arm or leg that grew back? Nobody ever prayed for this? Why not? Because it’s a lie.

      • Dave

        Ok I can see that you’re a retard, so I’ll try to make this simple.
        1) You need to stop getting all your information of Christianity from hyper-modernist fringes, pop culture, and hostile secular public schools. I don’t know if your “understanding” (or lack of) of Christianity is genuine or an attempt at a strawman.
        2) The existence of the Christian God has been proven dozens of times throughout history. There are millennia of philosophy, metaphysics, theology, epistemology, etc. Try reading some Aristotle, Plato, Augustine, Anselm, Aquinas, Descartes, Leibniz, Kant, Plantinga, etc
        3) “Prayer is not so much about influencing God as much as it is to change the nature of the one who prays” It’s a good measure of hubris that you think you can empirically test God’s existence based on His willingness to responded to your demands.

    • Nicolas

      Wow, you’re so much missing the point of that quote. It’s not about rejection of polytheism, it’s about the rejection of the christian god being as legitimate as the rejection of any other god since they are all based on your so-called “faith” and dont really have any further fundament except of man-made documents.

      Too bad, now this superlong Essay was basically for nothing. It actually says nothing and proofs nothing and just looks nice with its few nice formulations. Congratulations on that.

      • C Michael Patton

        Actually, you missed the point of the post. Comparing any polytheistic system to a monotheistic system is comparing apples and oranges. They require completely different metaphysical worldviews. Polytheism is simply the acknowledgement that there are very powerful being (understood or not) which demand our acknowledgement and homage. Monotheism is the philosophical and metaphysical acknowledgment that there must be an ultimate first-cause, whatever you name it. So it is not a religion (as people may not even worship this first cause). And this first cause can be named whatever you like. It does not deminish its necessity in a world where something exists and demands an explanation. Whether it is “alternative universes” (another name for this metaphysical reality) or the crystals of Richard Dawkins (another name for this metaphysical reality), it is different than comparing it to Thor, Marduk, Zeus, or Santa Clause.

        • Mike

          You keep saying that people don;t understand the point of the post – assuming we are all idiots. We understand the point of the post, and your arguments – although well written, are not valid. Just because you say that it is apples to oranges, does not make it true. You are asserting, for some unknown reason, that a monotheistic god is a more “rational” belief that polytheistic. What evidence do you have to back this up. Personally, I find polytheistic gods just as believable as the christian god, in fact more so, when you consider the thought of the holy trinity and the fact that your god was half man, half god, or something. Either way, there is not a single shred of evidence for your god, just as there is not a single shred of evidence for Thor. Apples to Apples – both are the creations of man to explain things they don’t undertand.

          • Dave

            We know through logic that any polytheist worldview is impossible. “There is only one God and, according to the laws of logic, there can be only one. If there were two gods, then the one god would be a limit on the other; neither of the two would be infinite, neither one perfect; in these respects neither of the two would be ‘God’.”
            “The supreme being must be unique, without equal. . . If God is not one, he is not God” (Tertullian, Adv. Marc., 1, 3, 5: PL 2, 274).
            The the quote by Stephen Roberts is based on the 1922 Essay “Memorial Service” by HL Mencken which alludes entirely to ancient pagan polytheistic religions when questioning the legitimacy of the Christian God.
            This leaves us with a few monotheistic religions. And on top of that, the whole argument is an appeal to popularity and what people regard as untrue, rather than what is actually true.
            Furthermore, it’s not an “all or nothing” matter, it has now been reduced to an “one or none” matter. In this case, proving the existence of one of these monotheistic Gods would disprove the rest. And the existence of God has been proven dozens of times, by Aristotle, Plato, Augustine, Anselm, Aquinas, Descartes, Kant, Plantinga, etc.

    • I agree with Vinny and the other naturalists here. Ti’s not a matter of Being Itself against gods but any form of supernaturalism based on misinterpretations of evidence for evidence.
      The parameters do not make evidence of fine-tuning. Carneades’ atelic argument notes that fine-tuning begs the question of divine directed outcomes, which even Thor could do, even though he and the other gods could not create.
      And the real being itself is the quantum fields, which as eternal need no sustaining cause than themselves and whence came the Cosmos- the Megaverse.

    • Kyle

      I’d like to add to Michael’s comment that its a little absurd to try and use Greek mythology as an example to talk down this quote. Especially for the end of your comparison needing to specifically mention Allah and Yahweh to be philosophically correct for referring to monotheistic religions is off-base. Every religion calls their god by something else and there are more than two monotheistic religions so a direct comparison is unnecessary. Talking with any followers of a monotheistic religions will make it evident that they all have reasons for thinking the other’s God doesn’t exist. Thus since I enjoy math and its simplicity I’ll use the transitive property on this. If every “monotheistic” religion thinks that their God is the only one and every other religion thinks that they are wrong, well then its not too far of a stretch to believe in just one less God than anyone from another religion. Either way you still don’t believe “at least one” god from a host of well followed and historically represented religions which makes you an atheist to the people of the religion you don’t believe in. In all, I think that Stephen Roberts quote is fantastic and should be a reminder to religious followers who like creating their separate community of people who think they are “right” that this isn’t high school anymore and cliques are not necessary. Choose to believe or not believe but please do not assume you are right… because there are plenty of people who think you are wrong.

      “I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours”
      – Stephen Roberts

    • KF

      The argument of poly vs mono is an non-starter because its simply a matter of semantics. To use the author’s example of Zeus. Zeus was not the origin of the universe according to Greek mythology, but there WAS a single god (Chaos) who was the beginning of the universe. Speaking of a pantheon of gods… it sounds much like the Host of Heaven (Angels) running around doing certain tasks for God. These angels seem to have god-like powers to the humans that may have interacted with them. While the parallels might not be exact, they are similar. The Christian God isn’t really a mono religion anyways with regard to the holy trinity and Lucifer. The entire argument of mono vs poly is a semantic one.

      • Dave

        We know through logic that any polytheist worldview is impossible. “There is only one God and, according to the laws of logic, there can be only one. If there were two gods, then the one god would be a limit on the other; neither of the two would be infinite, neither one perfect; in these respects neither of the two would be ‘God’.”
        “The supreme being must be unique, without equal. . . If God is not one, he is not God” (Tertullian, Adv. Marc., 1, 3, 5: PL 2, 274).
        The the quote by Stephen Roberts is based on the 1922 Essay “Memorial Service” by HL Mencken which alludes entirely to ancient pagan polytheistic religions when questioning the legitimacy of the Christian God.
        This leaves us with a few monotheistic religions. And on top of that, the whole argument is an appeal to popularity and what people regard as untrue, rather than what is actually true.
        Furthermore, it’s not an “all or nothing” matter, it has now been reduced to an “one or none” matter. In this case, proving the existence of one of these monotheistic Gods would disprove the rest. And the existence of God has been proven dozens of times, by Aristotle, Plato, Augustine, Anselm, Aquinas, Descartes, Kant, Plantinga, etc.
        As far as angels go, they are not deities, and are only slightly above humans, and certainly don’t approach God in any important respect.
        As far as the Trinity, God in one in nature and three in persons. There are not three separate deities.
        Lucifer is a fallen angel.
        The argument is based in logic, not semantics.

    • […] “god” with the word “religion” as you can examine in this post from the Credo House web site that provides a reasonable good counter to Roberts’ […]

    • Tim

      so I have friends that have different Gods and or beliefs. They all have sound reasons and “proof” of their different Gods. I find them all to be believable and I have faith in their ability to be right. Sometimes I think they ALL may be right, and sometimes I think they may ALL be wrong. But just in case I try to be what I think, is a good person to others….just in case one of them is right ….or wrong. In the end, if I felt I had to choose….I would say they are all wrong in that, they may all be right, but wrong to think only theirs is the, or only God. I do like what Roberts says, but I think many on here bring in the fantasy Gods like Thor to misrepresent what Roberts was referring to, and that is other peoples “real” Gods.

    • Niles

      I think you’ve missed the point of the quote entirely. Do you not think that those of other faiths consider their justifications for their beliefs to be every bit as rational as you consider yours to be? You might laugh at polytheism, but it its day it was widespread and not questioned.

    • Matt

      Terrible argument. Whether it is polytheism or monotheism is completely irrelevant. You believe in the Christian God because you want to believe. In fact this only further proves Robert’s quote. The real evidence for your god is exactly the same as that of any of the other gods; absolutely none. Hence, Robert’s quote.

      When you understand why you reject all other gods…(you and polytheism, your big sticking point),

      You will understand why I reject yours (the Christian God-monster).

      There is absolutely no objective difference. Just your own subjective bias.

    • Greg

      Wow Dude you sure are no rocket scientist!

    • Serge

      HI,

      what EVIDENCE, as mencioned above?????
      It is not because someone told YOU a god exists, he, she or it exists.
      get REAL

    • Reality Check

      Wow. There’s some asinine conversation going on here, to accompany the asinine article above it. There’s absolutely NO “rationality” to believing in any God. You just think there is because you’ve been brought up, or otherwise conditioned through convenience or wish-thinking, to believe in whichever one you do. Religion is as much about geography as “correct” faith.

      • Mike

        I wish there was a “Like” button. Good points, Reality check.

      • Dave

        Hi, please read some kind of metaphysics, Aristotle, Plato, Aquinas, Leibniz, Descartes, etc before you ever speak or comment on a forum like this again.

    • Mike Jones

      Christianity is a hoax. It is based almost entirely on Mithraism.

      Jesus never existed. The New Testament was written by the Roman aristocracy in order to keep the slaves from converting to Judaism.

      Jesuo neniam ekzistis. La Nova Testamento estis srkibita fare de la Romania aristokratio por malebligi, ke la sklavoj konvertiĝu al la Judismo.

      Mithras, like Jesus Christ, was considered to be “a being from beyond the universe”. These two figures, Mithras and Jesus, are to some extent both manifestations of a single deep longing in the human spirit.

      • David

        Wow, its not often you run into someone deluded enough to deny the academically and scholastically accepted fact that Jesus existed, as least as a normal human person. As far as Mithras, he was fabricated as a mockery of Christianity lol

    • John

      You forget that Christianity is not the only one that has a monotheistic god.

      Muslims do.

      Zoroastrians do.

      Jews do.

      Sikhs do.

      Druze do.

      etc. etc.

      Monotheism is not solely a christian construct, so I am not sure why you utilize that discussion point.

      • Dave

        Yes but surely you realize that this issue is reduced from an “all or none” issue to a “one or none” issue.
        This is based on logic: Any polytheist worldview is impossible. “There is only one God and, according to the laws of logic, there can be only one. If there were two gods, then the one god would be a limit on the other; neither of the two would be infinite, neither one perfect; in these respects neither of the two would be ‘God’.”
        “The supreme being must be unique, without equal. . . If God is not one, he is not God” (Tertullian, Adv. Marc., 1, 3, 5: PL 2, 274).
        So we can see that aside from disproving any polytheistic religion, monotheistic religions still have a chance at legitimacy.
        We can also see that if one of the remaining monotheistic religions were proven to be true, the rest would be discredited….

    • Randy

      If you question any religious person about evidence of their god, they will say silly things like “the wind is evidence, the rain is evidence, people being born is evidence”, etc. They never produce real evidence because it isn’t possible.

      It used to be that Christians contributed everything to be God’s doing: Every weather event, every single action of every person in the world was God’s doing. When it was proven that thunderstorms and tornadoes and earthquakes had other actual causes and after not being able to answer those who asked things like “Why does God allow bad things to happen to innocent people?”, they backed down on their dogged beliefs and insist now that, although God created the universe and us, he gave us “free will” to do as we wish. This way they can explain away all the bad things.

      Very convenient. And let’s not forget how they edited the Bible to remove a lot of crazy passages that gave their belief a bad reputation. Can you say “Deuteronomy”?

      • Dave

        Uh oh we’ve got an empirical absolutist, who doesn’t realize that it’s self-refuting. Or that there are dozens or reason or logic-based proofs for God’s existence. There are literally millennia of philosophy, theology, metaphysics, epistemology, etc…
        The Problem of Evil is an insubstantial intellectual argument, and at best a significant emotional obstacle to belief in God. (Although St. Thomas Aquinas considered it one of the only two arguments that had the potential or aim to actually disprove God’s existence).
        Consider learning some history of Biblical compilation. Specifically, the creations of the Septuagint and Vulgate.

    • dudely

      There are still plenty of other monotheistic religions out there and i noticed that you didn’t take the time to explain your reasons for rejecting any of them. I feel as though you avoided a hard topic to confront by diverting it to something you could easier argue such as polytheism. Also within your second paragraph you rephrase what you interpret the quote to mean, in which you write “I don’t have to take the time to reject Christ any more than you have to take the time to reject all the millions of gods that are out there. It just happens by default”. This only further states your ignorance. By saying, “it just happens by default”, you have only gone to say that that is your own reason for dismissing all other religions.

    • C Michael Parton

      I appreciate the comments. I think you misunderstand the purpose of the post. True, I did not take the time to refute other religions that correctly define what God must be to be called “God” because my purpose was simply to illustrate the category distinction. The next step, after correctly defining God, would be to make an argument for his existence. I did not even do that (as it was not my purpose here). THEN I would need to argue that the Trinitarian God of Christianity is the true transcendent necessary being.

      My purpose here was only to make sure we were defining our terms the same. Don’t you believe that being in the same page on how we define God is a necessary first step?

    • JohnT

      Since you reduce the argument to that of a monotheistic God,how does your discussion relate when considering a God such as Mazda, who predated Yahweh by some significant centuries.

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