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Debunking One of the Worst Arguments Against Atheism

Head in Hands

There are a lot of good arguments against atheism (like the argument from contingency). There are also some good ones which unfortunately have been used incorrectly so many times that they have been misidentified as bad ones (like Pascal’s Wager). Even more unfortunately, there are also some genuinely bad ones (like the argument from the banana), and some of these are quite popular.

One of the worst is all the more dangerous because it sounds enough like a good argument that it is often made by seasoned apologists. I don’t think it has a name, but the idea is that in order for someone to know that there is no God, one would have to have to be God. Even the more “sophisticated” versions of this schoolyard argument are fallacious, and this needs to be called out before the argument does any more damage.

Proving Universal Negatives

It is popular in apologetic circles to argue that one cannot prove a “universal negative” (aka a “negative existential proposition”) such as “God does not exist.” This has some intuitive appeal – after all, how can one make an assertion concerning all of reality (i.e., “God does not exist anywhere.”) without knowing all of reality? Indeed, the famous atheist philosopher Bertrand Russell once admitted that when it comes to the existence of God, the proper “attitude may be that which a careful philosopher would have towards the gods of ancient Greece. If I were asked to prove that Zeus and Poseidon and Hera and the rest of the Olympians do not exist, I should be at a loss to find conclusive arguments.” However, the argument still fails as an apologetic strategy.

The underlying mistake is that the problem of proving a universal negative only applies to things that (at least) can possiblyexist. So, for example, it might be impossible to completely disprove the existence of unicorns, simply because of the difficulty of searching out every possible location such creature might inhabit (perhaps extending to other planets). Thus, it would be extraordinarily difficult to definitively prove that “there are no unicorns in existence anywhere.”

When it comes to the existence of Santa Claus, however, it would not be nearly as difficult. This is because the existence of a being answering to the standard description of Santa Claus can be shown to be definitively impossible. Rather than surveying all possible locations where such a being might be found, one can simply note that the conditions required for such a being to exist are essentially impossible.

Put another way, while I may not be able to prove the non-existence of any 10′ tall bachelors, I can certainly prove the non-existence of married bachelors. In a similar fashion, if one could show that based on the type of being that God would be if he existed that such a being was impossible, then the universal nonexistence of God could be known without “knowing it all.”

Requiring Godlike Powers

A corollary to the above mistake is the followup conclusion that one would need to be godlike oneself in order to coherently deny God’s existence. The idea is that one would have to be omniscient and / or omnipresent (know everything there is to know or be everywhere there is to be) in order to posses the knowledge that God does not exist, because anything less would leave the door open for God’s existence in a heretofore unknown part of reality. But omniscience and  omnipresence are attributes of deity. Thus the popular conclusion is that in order to disprove God, one would have to beGod.

This is a popular but philosophically ill-informed apologetic tactic. For example, seminary president and popular apologist Alex Mcfarland writes,

“It is important to realize something about being an atheist that even most atheists fail to acknowledge and that is that atheism requires omniscience (complete knowledge of everything).… An atheist is making a positive assertion that there is no God. The only way that anyone could make such an assertion would be to presume that he knew everything about everything.” (“The 10 Most Common Objections to Christianity”, 37-38).

The same claim is made by the president and founder of Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry (the top Evangelical apologetics website) Matt Slick:

"Then you cannot KNOW there is no God. . . . atheism is illogical. You cannot know there is no God. To do that, you’d have to know All things to know there is no God." (“An Atheist Says He Knows There Is No God”)

This argument is also made by Christian research institute president Hank Hanegraaff:

“Atheism involves a logical fallacy known as a universal negative. Simply stated, a person would have to be omniscient and omnipresent to be able to say ‘there is no God’ from his own pool of knowledge. Only someone capable of being in all places at the same time — with a perfect knowledge of all that is in the universe — can make such a statement based on the facts. In other words, a person would have to be God to say there is no God. Hence, the assertion is logically indefensible. By using arguments like this, you will often find that an atheist quickly converts to agnosticism and is thus making progress rapidly in the right direction.” (“The Folly of Denying God” CRJ, 1990)

The same conclusion is repeated by popular apologists Ron Rhodes and Kenneth R. Samples in their respective articles on dealing with atheists in the Christian Research Journal in the 1990’s.

The argument does not seem to be losing any steam, either. As late as 2013, Ravi Zacharias made a similar claim on his Facebook page:

Ravi_Zacharias_-_To_sustain_the_belief_that_there_is_no_God____

These alleged requirements are really just another species of the previously-discussed problem of proving a universal negative. Only empirical inductive arguments that require as their support the totality of reality (a “perfect induction” on a universal scale) would fall into such a trap. Rational deductive arguments (especially those involving direct contradictions) do not suffer from this flaw. (Interestingly, given the generally poor reception of the only purely deductive argument for the existence of God – Anselm’s Ontological Argument – among theists and atheists alike, it may be the case that atheists actually have the upper hand in attempting to argue their position based on logic alone.)

Conclusion

This particular argument fails due to the basic difference between empirical-inductive and rational-deductive proofs for a universal conclusion. Because inductive arguments are (by definition) those which (usually) give only probable support to their conclusion, and are usually based on empirical facts for their support, the idea that one could use such a method to disprove God is clearly problematic. There are, however, purely rational deductive arguments which would (in theory) definitively prove their conclusion by demonstrating that the notion of God is self-contradictory. And, since these kinds of arguments are indeed given against the existence of God, then it is not the case that “atheism is logically indefensible” (at least on these grounds). Thus, it is also false that atheists would have to posses godlike powers to know that God does not exist, because contradictions can be proven with merely human abilities.

Although not a lot of atheists have spoken out against this specious argument, it is a very bad one and makes theists look bad. To my fellow theists, I ask that you please do not use this argument, and alert those who have to its failure.
 
 
(Image credit: Wikimedia)

Douglas Beaumont

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Douglas Beaumont earned a Ph.D. in Theology at North-West University. He is the author of Evangelical Exodus, The Message Behind the Movie: How to Engage With a Film Without Disengaging Your Faith, and a contributor to The Best Catholic Writing. Follow Douglas at www.douglasbeaumont.com.

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  • Mike

    Works badly for both:

    Christian: you can't know God isn't right now somewhere on some distant planet but you claim he doesn't exist therefore you claim to have god-like powers which is absurd.

    Atheist: you admit God isn't even on some distant planet or anywhere else in the universe, therefore the only logical conclusion is there is no God.

    • Krakerjak

      It is important to realize something about being an atheist that even most atheists fail to acknowledge and that is that atheism requires omniscience (complete knowledge of everything).… An atheist is making a positive assertion that there is no God.

      Not true for most atheists. An atheist is simply saying that he/she does not believe that there is enough evidence available to convince them that god exists, especially the Judeo/Christian version of said entity.

      Well....I for one do not make the positive assertion that there is no God, nor do I personally know any other nontheists or atheists who make that assertion.....though I am sure that such atheists do exist.

      An atheist is making a positive assertion that there is no God.

      Simply not true. In most cases of atheism. This seems to me to be one of the most silly articles that has ever been posted on SN....though others come close.

      • Robert Caponi

        "Well....I for one do not make the positive assertion that there definitely is no God, nor do I personally know any other nontheists or atheists who make that assertion.....though I am sure that such atheists do exist."

        I often hear this claim, and always find it a bit fanciful. I find it fanciful because, even more often, beneath any Huffington Post or Salon article that even grazes upon the topic of religion, the comments section is chockablock with atheists who absolutely must make their astoundingly clever and original bon mots about fairy tales, and Santa Claus, and the tooth fairy, &c. &c. &c.

        So comparing Christianity to a fairy tale is in no way meant to suggest it isn't true, and comparing God to the tooth fairy is in no way meant to suggest He doesn't exist, correct?

        • Krakerjak

          atheists who absolutely must make their astoundingly clever and original bon mots about fairy tales, and Santa Claus, and the tooth fairy,

          It is silly, childish and just stupid for atheists to make such references to tooth fairies and flying spagetti monsters et al and is fairly moronic.

          • Michael Murray

            I agree they are sometimes used as an insult. But they also I think can serve a useful purpose in challenging people to justify their own beliefs and in questioning religious privilege in a political context.

          • Daryl K. Sauerwald

            "contempt towards those who believe in God.And religion has no contempt for any of the people it killed,raped and tortured.When you preach that those who don't believe as you do,are evil,endanger society,can't know right from wrong,that sir is contempt,murderous contempt.

        • Jim Dailey

          The marketing of religion does occur. We all know it happens and we all know it is appalling. So, I can see where the atheists are pissed off about it.
          When I compare the real story of St. Nicolas with the merchandise-hawking, control freak knows when you've been bad or good Santa Clause, it actually even pisses me off.

      • Mike

        That sounds more like agnosticism to me.

        • Krakerjak

          Most atheists do not deny the possibility that a deist type of god could exist, and in that sense they are not making a "positive" assertion that there is no possibility that god could exist.

          • Peter

            I do not think that it is possible that a deistic god can exist, not in the proper sense of what it means to be God.

            God must be the explanation for the whole of creation, its coming into being and its continued existence. A deistic god by definition is responsible only for bringing creation into being and has no interest in its continued existence.

            There must be something else, therefore, other than the deistic god which sustains creation in existence. If that is so, the deistic god is not omnipotent but has to share its power with whatever sustains creation. Being less than omnipotent, therefore, it is no longer God.

          • Krakerjak

            Hi Peter,you are excluded and one of the exceptions to what I was saying if you are an atheist or agnostic. I was not implying that all atheists believe in the possibility that some intelligent entity deist or otherwise behind creation exists.

          • Krakerjak

            blockquote>There must be something else, "therefore, other than the deistic god" which sustains creation in existence.blockquote>

            If you drop the "therefore, other than the deistic god" part of your comment, I will concede that it is a reasonable and attractive concept to believe that there may be "not must be" something else, which sustains creation in existence, be it an entity, energy "fields" aka matrix,AI or superior intelligence.

          • Mike

            When pushed i agree most atheists will admit they personally aren't certain but prefer to live as though God especially the Christian version does not exist and so they label themselves atheists - actually most practical atheists are ppl who just couldn't care less about God and anything like philosophy, spirituality or any other deep questions; they are ppl who are "into" their immediate lives and don't care about things like this and don't see any point in them.

      • Daryl K. Sauerwald

        I know no atheist that claim a belief in "Omniscience". Modern religion first mistake: science=Atheism.Atheism has been around longer then science,longer then christianity. Please define " omniscience".

  • Robert Caponi

    Of course, many new atheists claim that they are not asserting God's non-existence, but rather that they "lack a belief in God,"— a statement that, like most self-reports ("I'm happy", "My leg hurts", "I'm thinking of a polar bear") we're pretty much bound to take at face value with little or no evidential support.

    However, in defending the supposed superior rationality of "lacking a belief in God"- or more precisely the active deferral of such a belief- they can't help but stumble into a universal neagtive of the exact same form— "There is no evidence for God," which has become, in my opinion, the foundational dumbness of contemporary atheism. While it is understandable that there could be, in principle, an argument made against the logical coherence of God ("God cannot be both all-just and all-merciful," &c.,) it is not clear how one could possibly know, even in principle, that there can be no evidence for God. Asked to provide evidence for this universal negative, they will either repeat the assertion as evidence for itself (a tactic as fallacious as saying "the Bible is true because the Bible is true"— an argument they would rightly reject) or they'll switch the burden of proof and demand you prove there *is* evidence for God.

    Of course, as any reader of this website knows, there is pleny of evidence to support the existence of God, and as any reader of this website similarly knows, most atheists are determined to reject any such evidence no matter its merits. The argument from ignorance they'll use to, as a third way, to defend the non-existence-of-evidence-for-the-existence-of-God (whew!)- namely, that all negative propositions are to be assumed correct until proven otherwise- entails, in practice, that all negative propositions are to be assumed correct no matter what, since some people will never to be satisfied with *any* evidence. I doubt these same atheists would be so accepting of the premise if they were faced with a Young Earth Creationist who said "there is no evidence for evolution," and whenever presented with fossil records, would blithely respond, "No! That's been debunked! Look, it even says so in answersingenesis.org!"

    • Krakerjak

      many new atheists claim that they are not asserting God's non-existence,

      I am at the end of my seventh decade of life, and would not consider myself "new" by any stretch of the imagination and am definitely not asserting God's non-existence in any way that it is not possible for him to exist..:-)

      They'll demand you prove there *is* evidence for God.

      I don't demand anything.

      • Robert Caponi

        "I don't demand anything."

        Well I was describing patterns of behavior typical of atheists defending the premise "there is no evidence for God", in my experience. I wasn't attempting to characterize all atheists everywhere.

        • Krakerjak

          Well perhaps not characterizing every atheist, but you seemed to be characterizing atheists in general. I suppose that it would be wise of you to exercise more care in in your choice of words,

    • Actually, my impression has been more along the lines of:

      My words...As any reader of this website knows, there is hardly any evidence to support the existence of God, and as any reader of this website similarly knows, most theists are determined to advance any argument no matter how flimsy.

      Funny how two people can get such divergent impressions from the same set of data.

      • Robert Caponi

        How flimsy the evidence may or may not be can profitably be discussed on a case-by-case basis, quite unlike the towering proclamation "There Is No Evidence For God™,"

        It would be perfectly reasonable to say, for instance, "I don't believe in God, because I haven't seen any reason to," and such a statement might actually lead to productive dialogue, and would not incur any unanswerable burden of proof. Atheists never seem to be content to leave well enough alone, however, and compulsively go for the gross overreach in their attempts to establish the ultimate objective rationality of atheism.

        • Krakerjak

          the towering proclamation "There Is No Evidence For God

          Perhaps it would be more accurate and fair to quote atheists as saying that there is no compelling evidence for god, instead of referring to The Towering proclamation that there is no evidence for God Very poetic and hyperbolic, but not really accurate or fair.

          • Robert Caponi

            Again, I'm speaking from my own experience, and I have been told "there is no evidence for God"- in those exact words- literally hundreds of times.

            But yes, the qualification for *compelling* evidence might seem more plausible, at the very least, since a clever enough person can usually manage to marshal some evidence even for outrageously untrue statements like "Achilles can never outrun the tortoise", or "O.J. Simpson didn't kill Nicole Brown."

            Still the assertion doesn't accomplish anything in any persuasive sense, since we still have to discuss the evidence on a case-by-case basis, as well as what it means to be compelling.

          • Krakerjak

            what it means to be compelling.

            Compelling:
            Oxford Dictionary: Not able to be resisted overwhelming:
            Mirriam Webster: capable of causing someone to believe or agree.

            Let us not quibble as children do. We all know what the word means in the colloquial sense.

          • Robert Caponi

            The distinction is neither childish nor academic (nor both.) Evidence, by definition, is capable of making someone believe or agree, so by that metric, all evidence is compelling evidence. At the same time, the evidence for God's existence is not so unavoidable that to deny it leaves a person unable to feed or bathe themselves, or to die at a happy old age.

            That, after being presented with evidence, the atheist can just peremptorily declare, "Yes, but there isn't any *compelling* evidence for God" doesn't seem like much of an improvement over the atheist who says "There is no evidence for God, because for any evidence you provide, I can find a page on [IronChariots, RationalWiki, &c.] claiming it's been debunked."

            You're free to believe there is no compelling evidence for God, of course, but declaring it as fact doesn't accomplish much.

          • Krakerjak

            You're free to believe there is no compelling evidence for God,<

            Why thank you Robert for giving me permission to not believe. And you are also free to believe that there is compelling evidence for god but by declaring it does not accomplish much either my friend.

          • William Davis

            It also doesn't accomplish much to have such a "snooty" attitude. Christians have always thrived off persecution (whether real or imagined). Don't play into their stereotype if your goal is to convince them of the merits of your position. If your goal is to come on here and make yourself feel smarter and superior to them, I suppose you are going about it the right way, but hurting your position in the process. It's a lot like what Evangelicals do to non-Christians actually...do you want to be like them? I've actually been successful in disarming a lot of misplaced Christian dogma, but having the right attitude and turning the other cheek goes a long way. What you said isn't all that bad, of course, but I feel obligated to point it out. I've been quick to point it out when its been coming from Christians, so I'm trying to be fair :)

          • Krakerjak

            You are obviously a superior individual.....and thanks for pointing out how "snooty" an attitude I have. BTW as you were "pointing" did you happen to be looking in the mirror? :-)

          • William Davis

            I used to get into debates to prove my own superiority, it's a pretty common motive, sometimes it still happens, especially if someone is a complete insulting ahole. Once I determine there is no hope for real conversation, sometimes I let my inner arrogant snob out to play. It never really accomplished anything, it's not like anyone is going to change a real ahole's mind about anything. Trying to find common ground with someone else and steer them in your direction is much more satisfying, and you can even make friends along the way, even if you disagree with them. If you don't care about any of that, so be it. Feel free to peruse my comment history and point out any tactical flaws you find, constructive criticism is always useful :)

          • Krakerjak

            I hope you have a sense of humor, and keep up the good work.

        • I share your frustrations about the "no evidence for God" claim. I think many atheists (and theists, for that matter) make the claim out of a misunderstanding of what evidence is.

          The purpose of my comment is to emphasise that different people will reach different conclusions on the arguments presented here and elsewhere, because of prior probabilities they may assign to God and because of how persuasive they find the arguments.

          None of the arguments and evidence I've seen on Strange Notions have affected much how likely I think God's existence is. Being here has changed the way I think about the arguments and those who make them, in a mostly positive way. Conversations here have also revealed to me serious weaknesses in my own beliefs and arguments, weaknesses I am presently confronting.

      • William Davis

        Confirmation bias, and a different set of underlying premises for understanding the nature of truth :) Everyone should take a class in meta-cognition/critical thinking or read a book at least once. Recognizing flaws in our cognition helps us overcome them (though we can never really get rid of them, they are built in).

        • I suspect that, for some of the arguments for God's existence, fine tuning for example,. since my prior probability for God's existence is either very low or inscrutible, it is difficult to say whether the evidence has substantially changed anything.

          • William Davis

            Fine tuning is an interesting and compelling example. I leave room in my mind for a Deistic God. It is often useful to think of the universe as designed when engaging in physics, but that of course does not mean it is of course. I think it is hard for us to imagine things working out elegantly, as they often do in physics, without their being intent, since intent is so fundamental to the human experience. Any way of looking at it, there are still great voids in our knowledge. One comical fact in physics is that, best we can tell, 96% of the universe is dark matter and energy. What is dark matter? No one has a clue, but we can measure its gravity and some of its effects. Therefore one can safely say we only understand 4% of the universe, and we only partially understand that. I think it is much easier to prove that "divine revelation" is man-made than it is to prove/disprove God. God as the prime mover behind the internal workings of reality is possible even within a fully scientific and rational framework of reality, at least with our current knowledge. We understand so little it is really hard to judge. Let's call this God the Ensteinian God, not to be confused with the personal gods of religions. Intellectual greats like Ben Franklin and Thomas Jefferson also held this view.

    • Mack The Mike

      Atheism is the positive belief that no good reason exists to believe in God. Thus the theist and atheist are similarly situated. Both are making positive assertions that require argumentation, niether party has a special burden to prove his position to the other.

      • Robert Caponi

        A clarifying point to the needlessly muddied issue concerning burdens of proof as it applies to atheists and theists: We incur a burden of proof not by virtue of what we believe, but rather by virtue of what we assert to be true. In a debate, the person demanding evidence for a theist's assertions may well be another theist, and the person demanding evidence for an atheist's assertions may well be another atheist. The burden still applies even when playing devil's advocate. The atheist and the theist may both avoid incurring immodest burdens of proof simply by making more modest claims.

      • Michael Murray

        Atheism is the positive belief that no good reason exists to believe in God.

        An atheist is a person who holds no beliefs in gods. As Oxford dictionaries puts it

        late 16th century: from French athéisme, from Greek atheos, from a- 'without' + theos 'god'.

        PS: I lower case deliberately, not to be offensive but to make the point that it is not only the Catholic God I hold no belief in. It's all of the thousands of them.

        • Mack The Mike

          "An atheist is a person who holds no beliefs in gods."

          This definition has the absurd implication that new born infants are atheists. The greek roots of a word and the meaning of a word are two different things.

          • Michael Murray

            If you want to look for absurdities you can find them in any definition. You can of course be a little more precise if you wish. Perhaps ...

            "An atheist is a sentient being of sufficient mental capacity to hold a belief in gods who does not hold a belief in gods."

            Or modify as you wish.

            The central point is that not believing and disbelieving are different things.

            Sometimes these two options are called weak and strong atheism or negative and positive atheism. See for example

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

            The Oxford Dictionary actually rolls the two of them together and defines an atheist as

            "A person who disbelieves or lacks belief in the existence of God or gods:"

            Of course some of us are igtheists but they are never mentioned on these pages

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

          • Mack The Mike

            "An atheist is a sentient being of sufficient mental capacity to hold a belief in gods who does not hold a belief in gods."

            That doesn't work either. Take, for example, a curious young person who has been raised in non-believing household. He or she has decided to investigate the broad questions of spirituality and religion and is actively reading about, and talking to members of, various faiths. This person has no belief in God or gods at the present time, but is actively open to the possibilities thereof. She or he is NOT an atheist as the term is commonly used.

          • Michael Murray

            She or he is an atheist according to the Oxford Dictionaries. She or he is is an atheist as many people I know commonly use the term. Maybe you need to get out and meet some more atheists?

            I could also point out that someone who thinks God is the ground of all being is not a theist as any of my Catholic relatives understand the term. Are they wrong ? Is the ground of all being believer wrong ?

          • Mack The Mike

            "She or he is an atheist according to the Oxford Dictionaries. "
            The quote of OE gave two definitions, only one of which applies to the seeker in my example.

            "Maybe you need to get out and meet some more atheists?"

            In fact I have met a person in just the situation I described, and no, he didn't describe himself as an atheist.

            It just doesn't make any sense to call a lack of belief an "-ism" All -isms are sets of ideas, not sets of the absence of ideas. Monetarism, Calvanism, Racism, Reganism -- you name it. They are all sets of ideas. Atheism is an idea as well: the idea that there's no good reason to believe in God.

          • Michael Murray

            The quote of OE gave two definitions, only one of which applies to the seeker in my example.

            Sure. They are two alternative definitions. One of them describes your seeker so she or he is an atheist by that definition.

            One person doesn't contradict what I am saying. I'm not claiming universality.

            I agree there is a lack of consistency with the other isms. But you will have to take that up with Oxford dictionary and all the other atheists (besides me) who use the word this way.

          • Mack The Mike

            "I agree there is a lack of consistency with the other isms. But you will have to take that up with Oxford dictionary and all the other atheists (besides me) who use the word this way."

            I deny that you or anyone else really uses 'atheism' to refer to the position of seekers such as the one I described, or of infants. Oh sure, you *define* 'atheism' that way, but you don't *use* 'atheism' that way. I'll wager that no group of self-described atheist activists includes any seekers.

            As for the OED, I think they are just incorrect on this.

          • Michael Murray

            I deny that you or anyone else really uses 'atheism' to refer to the position of seekers such as the one I described, or of infants. Oh sure, you *define* 'atheism' that way, but you don't *use* 'atheism' that way. I'll wager that no group of self-described atheist activists includes any seekers.

            So I must just be a liar. That ends the conversation for me. You might like this seeker's blog

            http://www.patheos.com/blogs/yearwithoutgod/

            I'm done.

          • Mack The Mike

            I don't think you are a liar. I think you are mistaken.

            Thanks for the link. Interesting piece. I think it supports my point. The author is a seeker, but in the reverse direction from the example I gave. In his introductory post he writes:

            "It’s important to make the distinction that I am not an atheist."

            So, no, seekers are not atheists.

          • Loreen Lee

            Would this mean that 'scient-ism', or the belief in value/existence of materialism/naturalism, over some kind of rationalism, is therefore merely another form of 'pagan-ism'. >???

          • Mack The Mike

            Loreen, I'm afraid I don't follow. I suppose a materialist could be a polytheist as long as the gods of the pantheon were purely material, but I don't think I've ever heard of a polythiestic materialism in reality.

          • Loreen Lee

            I am often a bit ironic. I was referring not to a form of polytheism, (indeed Christianity with its triune god and the plethora of saints has also been regarded by some as polytheistic) which is only one characteristic attributed to paganism. I was referring to another criteria:: i.e. that the material world, naturalism, the cosmos takes priority to Mind. Empiricism over rationalism. Or to be more brief: Body assumes the priority in value to Mind, within the mind body distinction. Hope this fills out the comment enough.

            That's all.

        • Robert Caponi

          "An atheist is a person who holds no beliefs in gods. As Oxford dictionaries puts it"

          One sense of the word, at least. It is at least preferable to having a "lack of a belief in God" as the sufficient condition for atheism, which would leave raccoons and tree stumps as atheists.

          But I suspect "a person who holds no beliefs in gods" is not really the definition most self-identified atheists would be satisfied with, since by that definition, the atheist does not necessarily think the theist is erroneous or unjustified in their belief. A person identifying as an atheist would simply be describing their own mental state, not making a claim about the world outside themselves.

          "late 16th century: from French athéisme, from Greek atheos, from a- 'without' + theos 'god'"

          Yes, atheism is is belief that there is no God. It is important to note that "theist" is in fact the back-formation of "atheist", coined only in the 17th Century. Properly speaking, atheism is the "-ism" of atheos, not the "a-" of theism.

          "PS: I lower case deliberately, not to be offensive but to make the point that it is not only the Catholic God I hold no belief in. It's all of the thousands of them."

          The Egyptians worshipped cats as gods, you know.

          • Michael Murray

            A person identifying as an atheist would simply be describing their own mental state, not making a claim about the world outside themselves.

            I don't see the problem with that. Atheists will differ in the degree to which they disbelieve in gods and why the disbelieve in gods. That can be discussed and I don't see a need to load it all into a definition. What unites them all is their lack of belief in gods.

          • Robert Caponi

            Question: This morning, while making breakfast, I was so engrossed by the task of scrambling eggs that I momentarily forgot to think about God's existence. For that moment, was I, too, an atheist?

          • Michael Murray

            Dunno. Do you have to think about something all the time to believe in it ?

            When I say I don't believe in God I mean something really simple like if you ask me "do you believe in God" I would say "no".

          • Michael Murray

            Actually I guess depending on the circumstances I might also say "define God". But that is my igtheism coming to the surface.

          • Robert Caponi

            You agreed earlier that atheism is a mental state- the mental state of "lacking a belief in God"- something shared by you and people who positively affirm God's non-existence and children raised by wolves who have never even heard of God- rather than an affirmative statement about the world-out-there. Now it's a self-indentification? A mendacious Christian might give the same "no" response to the question, and a wolf child would ask me "What's God?" if they were to say anything at all. Even more ineffectual than atheism as a self-description of a mental state along the lines of "I'm happy" or "I'm thinking of a polar bear", atheism is now simply how you would *report* that mental state? Atheism seems to be getting more vacuous by the minute.

          • Michael Murray

            So for you a belief has to be something you hold in your awareness at all times? Even while scrambling eggs ?

          • Robert Caponi

            "So for you a belief has to be something you hold in your awareness at all times? Even while scrambling eggs ?"

            No, of course not, which is why a meaningful distinction has to be drawn between the Christian who may not actively be believing in God while making scrambled eggs, and the child raised in a Christian home who then has a crisis of faith and decides they're an atheist or an agnostic. Both may "lack a belief" in the sense of not actively believing in God at a particular time, but only one does so while affirming something beyond their own mental state. For that matter, I walk around with wolf-child-consciousness most of the day, and the wolf child would be as little inclined to say they "lack a belief in God" as I do.

            I think a good definition of atheist is, "A person who thinks God does not, or probably does not, exist." It makes proper allowances for agnotic atheists, agnostic theists, and doesn't lasso together tree stumps with people who believe God definitely doesn't exist under the same insipid rubric.

          • Michael Murray

            "A person who thinks God does not, or probably does not, exist.

            But that requires you to define God.

          • Robert Caponi

            "But that requires you to define God."

            That is no more of an issue for "A person who thinks God does not, or probably does not, exist." than for "A person who lacks a belief in God", since- in the latter case- atheists are simply defined to the exclusion of people who *have* a belief in God. That God is a defined term is assumed in both cases.

            If you "lack a belief in God", but don't believe God definitely does not exist, then you obviously believe there is a non-zero probability that God exists. Let's say you think there's a 1% chance that God exists… you're an atheist, right? Now what if you think there's a 2% chance God exists… you still "lack a belief in God", correct? At what point do we draw the threshold before reaching the absurdity of an atheist who "lacks a belief in God", but believes there's a 90% chance God exists?

          • Michael Murray

            That is no more of an issue for "A person who thinks God does not, or probably does not, exist." than for "A person who lacks a belief in God",

            Yes it is because I didn't say "A person who lacks a belief God" I said "a person who holds no beliefs in gods". So I don't need a definition of God.

            I'll let you take the probabilistic definition up with Dawkin's who popularised it. I don't like it personally because again it doesn't define what it is you have the percentage belief or disbelief in.

            But if you want a threshold though I would take "believe enough in god X for it to affect the way I live my life" or "disbelieve enough in god X for it not to affect the way I live my life". That is the practical issue for most people.

          • Mack The Mike

            "Personally I would rather one catch all word to describe the general position of not believing in gods."

            Agreed. But your definition of atheism as the lack of belief in God doesn't describe a position at all. It describes the absence of a position. The correct definition of atheism as the doctirne that there is no good reason to believe in God does describe a position -- one that includes strong atheists, agnostics, igtheists, and some apatheists.

          • Michael Murray

            So here is an idea. You tell me what you think atheism means. Taking care to define all your terms.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            You could say that about any belief. I haven't thought about the roundness of the earth for a few days now. Does that mean I don't believe that the earth is round?

          • Michael Murray

            The Egyptians worshipped cats as gods, you know.

            Indeed. They are of course. At least in their own eyes.

          • Vicq Ruiz

            One may demonstrate by deductive reasoning the existence of a god. There have been dozens of articles at SN which purport to do so.

            But I don't think it's possible to determine by purely deductive methods that said god is concerned with and intervenes in the affairs of humans. (As I asked in response to an earlier article, "Why is 'Unconditioned Reality' concerned with my buying a box of condoms?") And if that is not determinable, then it follows that:

            - whether or not god does so intervene is a matter of induction and observation, not deduction. The accounts of such interventions have yet to satisfy me.

            - whether or not the existence of an impersonal god can be deduced need have no bearing upon our daily lives. This is why I personally find the discussion of the purely deductive proofs for god to be lacking in any real value.

      • David Hennessey

        Actually, the Christian and Jewish theists agree that there is no good reason to believe in God, that's the whole point of faith.

    • GCBill

      I agree with you with regard to the "no evidence" claim. I generally take "evidence" for a to mean anything that should alter my confidence in the truth of a claim under discussion. One very easy way for something to count as "evidence" is if we should more strongly expect that thing given one claim than given a competing claim or claims. In this case, the degree to which a fact counts as evidence for C1 over C2 is proportional to the difference in prediction strength between C1 and C2.

      Atheist though I am, I find it hard to imagine that there are no facts within the entire universe that we should more strongly expect to be true if God exists. Yet, on one common conception of evidence, that's exactly what would have to be true for there to be "no evidence for God." I happen to think the evidence for atheism is actually pretty strong, but there is evidence for theism. My decision hinges on the perceived balance of the evidence, not on whether or not it exists. This seems to be a much more robust position, because in its modesty it resists falsification by a single counterexample.

      You might be interested in the Reasonable Doubts Podcast's take on evidential reasoning in PoR, which is better-informed than much of the discussion which occurs in internet comboxes. They cover some of the same ground as my comment, although they're more knowledgeable in this area than I am, so you might benefit to hear it from them as well.

      • Robert Caponi

        Thank you for the intelligent, sane response. The strangenotions combox is vastly, vastly, vastly better informed than the YouTube discussions I'm used to. What's "PoR"? The link doesn't take me anywhere.

        • GCBill

          PoR = Philosophy of Religion

          The link is fixed (I forgot to paste the URL into the hyperlink tag...oops).

    • Bob

      "There is no evidence for God,"

      "there can be no evidence for God"

      You realize that you have straw-manned your own hypothetical here, right?

      • Robert Caponi

        I was following up to what Doug Beaumont said in the article about proving universal negatives. Discounting the possibility that the nonexistence of evidence for God could be proven by an exhaustive, brute-force search, your only recourse would be to prove the nonexistence of such evidence a priori, in the same way we can prove the nonexistence of married bachelors. Sounds confusing? Well it is. I'm not saying such a thing is impossible, but I'm not smart enough to see how it could be possible.

        • Bob

          I think you missed my point.

          Do you not see an important distinction between the two snippets I identified?

          • Robert Caponi

            Yes, the distinction between something there being no evidence for God, and there *necessarily* being no evidence for God, which I addressed in my post.

    • William Davis

      "Of course, as any reader of this website knows, there is pleny of evidence to support the existence of God, and as any reader of this website similarly knows, most atheists are determined to reject any such evidence no matter its merits."
      That goes both ways. The problem is that most of the evidence is ambiguous, and purely philosophical in nature. Reason doesn't take you very far if its premises are flawed, so lofty philosophical proofs don't hold up that well to many because they are so divorced from measurable reality. It is better to say that an honest atheist interprets the "evidence differently". There are always those who dismiss any "evidence" out of hand, but many of us genuinely believe we are correct, and continue to reevaluate their position. I think there needs to be a clear distinction between dogmatic, and non-dogmatic atheist. I do the same for dogmatic and non-dogmatic believers.
      I was raised protestant, but was always skeptical, even as a child. This fact may have been related to my profound interest in the sciences. Long studies in science have shown that many complex and fascinatingly well reasoned theories have turned out to be flat out wrong when actually tested. The scientific mind, of necessity, is highly skeptical of the ability of reason alone to find truth. Just because something makes sense, doesn't mean it is true.
      I really enjoy this site, and honest apologists who genuinely believe and want to convince someone of their ideas. This environment attracts a different kind of atheist than many news sites. Many atheists are simply vindictive after being bombarded with John 3:16 billboards and implication from tv preachers that they are inherently evil because of their worldview. I'm not trying to excuse their vitriol, but many forces in the world are reactionary, it is just the way society operates.
      For the record, I'm an agnostic/atheist (I cannot know there is know God, but I believe I can be certain that human religion does not come from God, at least in the form of revelation and miracles) who believes in God at the same time. We created him, he exists in our minds, and I think that on a fundamental level, many of us need him, whether or not he exists in objective reality. Neurologists have been studying spirituality over the past decade, and in some sense there seems to be a psychological happiness and contentment that can only be achieved through some form of spirituality. I practice meditation myself, but sometimes I still pray. It really doesn't matter if God is my imaginary friend, I can still talk to him. I think we are headed to a place where we can keep all of the goods things about religion and recognize the mythology for what it is. The core problem we face (and have faced since the beginning of civilization) is where does moral authority come from.

    • Ignatius Reilly

      However, in defending the supposed superior rationality of "lacking a
      belief in God"- or more precisely the active deferral of such a belief-
      they can't help but stumble into a universal neagtive of the exact same
      form— "There is no evidence for God," which has become, in my opinion,
      the foundational dumbness of contemporary atheism.

      Usually atheists will say either

      a) The definition of the Abrahamic God is inconsistent with the world we observe
      or

      b) They have not found any evidence for God, therefore they are justified in not holding a belief in God.
      or
      c) The God claim is an extraordinary claim which requires extraordinary evidence. We have not yet found evidence sufficient to believe in the God claim.

    • Kip

      "as any reader of this website knows, there is plenty of evidence to support the existence of God"
      Like what?

    • Doug Shaver

      Of course, as any reader of this website knows, there is pleny of evidence to support the existence of God, and as any reader of this website similarly knows, most atheists are determined to reject any such evidence no matter its merits.

      As any reader of this website knows, there is insufficient evidence to support the existence of God, and as any reader of this website similarly knows, most Christians are determined to deny this fact no matter how obvious it is.

      • Lazarus

        Hold on with the "most Christians", Doug. Who finds it "obvious" that the evidence is "insufficient "? The evidence is not convincing to you. Don't extrapolate vast hordes of supporters from that.

        • Doug Shaver

          Who finds it "obvious" that the evidence is "insufficient "?

          Every atheist posting to this forum.

          The evidence is not convincing to you.

          And it is convincing to you.

          Don't extrapolate vast hordes of supporters from that.

          I said nothing about how many people we're talking about. You're the one who said something about "any reader of this website."

          • Lazarus

            No, one Robert Caponi said that. A year ago.

          • Doug Shaver

            I was inattentive to the authorship of that post. My apologies.

          • Lazarus

            Pffft. Minor detail.

  • I think the most common error on both sides of
    the philosophical argument of theism vs atheism is believing one can start with
    a definition of God. ‘God exists’, as a premise, cannot be proven. The existence of things is typically a matter
    of experience not a matter of a reasoned conclusion. However, God is nothing within our experience. Therefore, the existence of God cannot be
    known within the normal course of human experiential knowledge. Also, the nature of things is apprehended
    through experience. Since God is not
    within our experience his nature cannot be apprehended in the usual way. We cannot have a proper definition of a
    nature, which we do not know.
    Consequently, ‘God exists’ cannot be an initiating premise to be proven
    because God, in an initiating premise, is undefined. For the same reason, ‘God does not exist’ cannot
    be an initiating premise to be proven. The valid argument starts with the
    observation that no entity within our experience explains its own existence and
    consequently cannot explain the existence of anything else.

    • Krakerjak

      Thanks Bob for injecting a modicum of diplomatic wisdom into the discussion.

    • Robert Caponi

      "However, God is nothing within our experience. Therefore, the existence of God cannot be known within the normal course of human experiential knowledge."

      You seem to be skirting negative theology here, which to me always seems a take-it-or-leave-it premise. Direct experience with the Holy Spirit- or at at least the possibility of such direct experience- is foundational to most all flavors of Christianity.

      "Also, the natures of things are apprehended through experience. Since God is not within our experience his nature cannot be apprehended in the usual way."

      I see this as more a quantitative rather than qualitative distinction. I can apprehend a cow as a more or less provisional aggregate of predicates. Perhaps this aggregate of predicates will need revision further down the line, and perhaps the most important thing to know about cows is that they are in fact the virtual reality avatars of an alien race, but for the present moment I feel fairly secure in my illusion that, for the most part, I know what makes a cow a cow.

      With God, I know I am only grasping at the hem, but I can apprehend God, and I can know God, even if I know that I am apprehending and knowing a small part of the whole.

      "Consequently, ‘God exists’ cannot be an initiating premise to be proven because God, in an initiating premise, is undefined."

      God can be arbitrarily defined, and still be provable in principle.

      • Bob

        "God can be arbitrarily defined, and still be provable in principle."

        So could anything else one could possibly imagine.

      • A unicorn is arbitrarily defined as a cut and paste image, not as a potential entity. Agreed we cannot know the full nature of God. However, we also cannot know the full nature of any entity within our experience. Consequently any cut and paste image or any inventive definition cannot be that of a real entity. As I understand it, the discussion is confined to philosophical knowledge, thereby excluding theology.

    • Mack The Mike

      "The existence of things is typically a matter of experience not a matter of a reasoned conclusion."

      God isn't a "thing" in the relevant sense, so this point doesn't apply. Prime numbers are real (in the non-mathmatical sense) but we don't apprehend their nature through experience.

      • Michael Murray

        What does prime numbers are real in the non-mathematical sense mean ?

        • Gigahoo

          I would imagine it means that in the real world you can amass or identify a finite set of whole numbers that meet the definition of a prime number. However, I understand computers have been used to prove famous theorems regarding prime numbers, therefore the first sentence may be a minimal characterization.
          However, in agreement with Mack the Mike, higher mathematics exposes properties of primes that are beyond the ken of any real world experience. I think it is similar with God. As with Mathematics, debate about the existence of God can only be fruitful if the thinking is rigorous and disciplined.

          • Michael Murray

            You might be right. I thought perhaps it was some kind of statement about where mathematical ideas live.

            But taking up your second point you have put your finger on exactly my complaint about theology. As a mathematician I find that the level of rigour in theological discussions far less than what would be required in mathematics. Things are not defined, relations between things are not defined and reasoning is sloppy. For example what is God, what does it mean for Got to be infinite, what is the ordering when w say God is largest this or largest that etc ...

            Mind you even if you could get these things right you have to then connect these theoretical constructs with the real world we all seem to live in. Unless there is some notion of pure theologian like a pure mathematician.

          • Mike
          • Ignatius Reilly

            I find that the level of rigour in theological discussions far less than
            what would be required in mathematics. Things are not defined,
            relations between things are not defined and reasoning is sloppy. For
            example what is God, what does it mean for Got to be infinite, what is
            the ordering when w say God is largest this or largest that etc

            This a thousand times. I usually have found that the most interesting thinkers on theology (at least the ones that I have personally met/talked to) were either mathematicians or physicists who happened to be Jesuits.

          • “But taking up your second point you have put your finger
            on exactly my complaint about theology. As a mathematician I find that the level of rigour in theological discussions far less than what would be required in mathematics.”
            I agree, the integrity of thought in logic and math does appear to us to be more rigorous than the integrity of thought in the philosophy of being. However, this is a paradox. It is a paradox because the intellectual integrity of logic and math are a reflection of the inherent intellectual integrity of reality and not vice versa. Plato couldn’t reconcile thought and material reality, so he placed intelligibility in a universe of its own. Aristotle reconciled the two with the realization that material entities are composites of a principle of intelligibility and a principle of particularity. The modern philosophers, most notably, Descartes, once again divorced human thought from reality.

        • Mack The Mike

          To be real usually means to be objectively part of the all-that-there-is. However in mathmatics, the term has a technical meaning when applied to numbers. (what it boils down to is that real numbers can be uniquely placed on a numberline along with rational numbers, which are also real).

          Or, to put it another way, something is real if it is part of that hypothetical model of all experience towards which an unlimited inquiry by rational beings would asymtotically approach.

          • No one objects to the use of the word, real, as opposed to imaginary in mathematics. However, that has nothing to do with existence of entities. Mathematics is a logical construct. From such no conclusion of existence or non-existence can be drawn. We know the natures of entities, which exist outside of our minds, through experience, but we do not know their natures fully. We know through experience the nature of a cat, but not fully. There is no such thing as a unicorn because it is a mental construct. We cannot mentally conceive the full nature of anything.

  • Michael Murray

    So this sounds like the old "you can't prove there isn't a god"? Whereas for us poor limited humans the only question of relevance is "is there enough evidence for gods for it to affect the way we live our lives".

    Thanks anyway for withdrawing that one. A few more to go. Even atheists can live in hope !

  • It might be worth noting some of the issues with respect to inductive and deductive arguments, and the strength of arguments rather than validity.

    A deductive argument:

    If God exists, God's nature is such that he would never allow any human to suffer unnecessarily.

    Humans suffer unnecessarily.

    Therefore God doesn't exist.

    This is a valid argument but it is not 100% strong, because the premises cannot be proven deductively. Even the fact that humans suffer can only be known inductively, it is an empirical claim which is subject to global skepticism, the problem of solipsism. Whether god would allow it could be an empirical claim, but in this case it is definitional. Theists generally don't believe premise one so it is a not a terribly persuasive argument.

    The inductive form is:

    If God exists, he would not allow any unnecessary suffering.

    Unnecessary suffering seems happen.

    Therefore God does not exist.

    Premise one here is generally acceptable to theists who believe God is maximally benevolent and powerful. The question is whether it is reasonable to accept that some suffering is unnecessary. I think it is, but again we can't be sure.

    In ANY argument, at least one of the premises will require some empirical claim which makes it then an inductive claim. However, if the premises are accepted as true, then there can be no disputing the conclusion of a deductive argument. When it is framed as inductive, you can accept the premises without the accepting the conclusion is true, but you would not be reasonable to dispute the truth of the conclusion.

    In other words, if you accept that unnecessary suffering seems to exist, an all good god might exist and have unknown reasons for the suffering to happen, but you have accepted that it seems this is not the case. To continue to believe in the god as defined is not reasonable.

  • Another approach to inference considers it irreducibly trialogical such that it completes a hermeneutic cycle of abduction, deduction and induction, each inferential form integral to the others in a triadic phenomenology of possibilities, actualities and probabilities (metaphysical presuppositions).

    I sometimes refer to an abductive-deductive dialectic to describe certain metaphysical musings but that shorthand is incomplete. Charles Sanders Peirce explores three aspects or stages of inductive inference 1) classificatory - somewhat of an exercise in experimental design, mapping general putative categories, e.g. causation, onto specific known properties, e.g. unexplained effects, toward the end of making predictions 2) probative - the actual testing or controlled experimentation, variously in/formal 3) sentential - somewhat akin to tabulating results and drawing conclusions.

    Now, while all inference remains irreducibly trialogical and phenomenology triadic, Peirce draws a distinction between the formulation of an argument and the process of argumentation. The former successfully cycles through abduction, deduction and classificatory induction. The latter proceeds with its probabilistic probative and sentential induction. The decision to stop at classificatory induction, of course, isn't arbitrary but comes from various sticks being poked through our inferential wheels. Whether a given stick happens to be some methodological constraint, which might get overcome, or from some ontological occulting, which would, in principle, be permanent, we often would not a priori know.

    Paying careful attention to our God-talk, as sufficiently nuanced by various univocal, analogical, equivocal, apophatic, kataphatic and other conceptual predications and to the realities (primal realities and ultimate concerns) toward which it still aspires to better vaguely refer, much less ever successfully describe, they, in principle and by definition, propose a certain ontological occulting, in fact, open our ontology to a new modal category, necessity.

    God arguments cannot be robustly inductive, only very inchoately so, of logical necessity stopping before complete inferential cycling. Peirce formulated his own God argument, but he derisively labeled God-argumentation a fetish.

    If one thinks in terms of the old scholastic notation, where each day's notes distinguished between those propositions that were: possible plausible probable certain uncertain improbable implausible impossible -
    God is eminently possible and God arguments have been decisively determined as logically valid, philosophically, including in several modal logics (not that dissenters don't remain but the possibility of God generates little controversy except among the sophomoric).

    Beyond the logical arguments, of course, there is evidential argumention. Some facilely refer to same as induction, which, in principle, cannot proceed for a host of epistemic criteria. These arguments, however, are necessarily abductive-deductive and unavoidably halt before probative induction. They traffic in the scholastic notations of the plausible and implausible, in the intuitive and counterintuitive. It's not that abductive reasoning is not essentially probabilistic, though, but that abduction is so weakly inferential that, for all practical reasons, it cannot settle ontological disputes. So, the term plausibility refers to very weak probabilities.

    Finally, what makes certain God-concepts immune to parody are their apophatic predications, whereas leprechauns and unicorns, ha ha ha ... (cf Christopher McHugh's debate at infidels.org).

    Good article. I agreed with your thrust and hoped to introduce further distinctions.

    • Loreen Lee

      Some of my remarks that I mistakenly put in the com boxes above were intended to be made directly to you. Anyway thanks.

  • Loreen Lee

    I truly want to thank everyone for contributing to this discussion. I am viewing it as more than coincidence that on running into 'communication' problems over the last few posts (i.e. questioning my ability) I decided to drop out, to study for awhile. (now I understand that my identification of having a problem with categories is (at least) related to an aspect needed in inferential reasoning.. Even looking up definitions of words used in this post is going to keep me busy over the weekend. But may I say, that the only limitation I find, is that, within the dichotomy of thinking and being, most arguments for the existence of God strike me as 'pure epistemology'. Thus my difficulty with previous arguments based on Aristotelean logic, which I identify with an understanding of the transcendental God, but which seems to be somehow too 'static'. And this, with respect to my intuition, poses some limitation on the need for 'recognizing'? what is perhaps something 'dynamic' when it comes to either the concept or Being of God. Here again, I suspect I am expressing again the problematic I 'originally' spoke of" my limited training and my lack of ability. :Yet somehow I 'believe' 'living and thinking' (epistemology and ontology), are intimately related (in some way). . Thanks again for your patience..

    • Loreen Lee

      Quote: I don’t think it has a name, but the idea is that in order for someone
      to know that there is no God, one would have to have to be God

      Actually, I was musing before or attempting to fall asleep, and I thought, well wasn't that what Hegel attempted, and even though he had achieved: that is with the announcement that God is dead, and its parallel thought that mankind had actually achieved the 'Spirit' or German Geist within the state.

      Well, without going into the history of the 20th century, and indeed I believe these thought were not initiated or completed in Hegel, perhaps it would be helpful to consider his Dialectical Logic: which begins with Being, Nothing and Becoming, goes through states of empirical experience, or sensation and even through a dialectic of mathematics, of which of course I had no understanding and was in fact incapable of reading. But you mathematicians might be able to get something out of it, hopefully. Because the premise I am putting forth here is that these logical arguments, and indeed mathematics can be regarded as 'fitting' into a larger whole.

      And is that not what God is 'conceived' if not proven to be: a larger whole, even though a consideration of Unity, (a mathematical concept in Kant's categories) is not even being considered in either the necessity, the simplicity or the uniqueness, (as I have just reconsidered) in the on-going Monday series.

      Anyway, just a thought. I'll leave the rest to your more brilliant minds, and I'm not being satirical or sarcastic in this statement.

      Oh, that this idea also holds for the sinners that Jesus took on as friends might also be considered.. Because rather than the possibility that mathematical proof or logical proof of God, is not, and can never be complete, it may also be related to the concept of 'becoming God', an accomplishment which is within some orthodox thought mused upon and I believe considered and questioned with regard to its possibility. Perhaps this is not a closed issue. But I believe, with a little thought this could relate also be related to the topic at hand. Some thoughts that might produce either arrogance or humility, within one's being are possible in this case, and consideration that this issue can possibly be related both to the grandiosity of some thought, but also to prayer: contemplation, meditation............Just a thought that hopefully is consisted with the critique of the critique which is the subject of this post. Thank you.

      • Loreen Lee

        Just a correction. What I called Hegel's Dialectical Logic, (which is a true description) is actually referred to as his 'Scientific Logic' in my copy. Note the term - scientific. As I said I gave up when the book reached such concepts as Quanta, etc. Wish I had the energy and capacity to pick it up again. But I did read his Phenomenology of Mind, several times, so I believe I have the gist of it. Especially the great dichotomy that followed between the "Idealists' and the 'Marxists': the left and right wings that continue to this day. Just believe that getting a grip on this thought could throw some light on today's discussion. Kierkegaard and Nietzsche were some of the perspectives that followed as you know. What can I call it? The 'temporalizing' of philosophy?

        • Loreen Lee

          Thank you for this. Learned many new words, and now feel that I can say I 'understand' it.
          With respect to occulting, in another combox I referred to the concepts prayer, contemplation and meditation. I feel I could make a triadic relationship between these and the triads found in Christianity and Kant's trilogy. But what I wonder about, even when I think of my experience with Buddhism, is the (another triad) concepts of thought word and deed, and thus can put the Buddhist definition of enlightenment within this context.
          Also reviewed (that is read again) Hegel' description of the relation of Being to Nothingness: that is that they are the same: another way of expressing the concept of a 'contained contradiction'. I know I am vague, but also that I can indeed find a reference to some of these concepts within my own experience. Thank you.

  • Guest

    ...

  • Daryl K. Sauerwald

    Bullshit all an atheist is,is someone who dose not feel there is a God' because he sees nothing and feels nothing that tell him a god or any supernatural thing exist. Prove him wrong; you can't an never will. If god exist an whats the atheist to know he exist he will make sure the atheist knows. There really is nothing to debate,is god such a loser he needs mere human beings to intercede for him?This is not about theism v atheism its about religion v beliefs that contrary to that religion, including other religions.

    • Krakerjak

      I hear/feel your frustration friend!

      • Daryl K. Sauerwald

        Hay! and Im not even an atheist! But what I feel is not proof,and I can totally see the atheist point of view but part of the problems with these type of debate is they over simplify the problem as though it all about atheist v theist forgetting that religions have just as much problems with each other. If I believe in God but its not the why christian,( or what ever group),nothing is solved your still going to hell and your still a danger to society. So like proving God exist dose not make you right about what gad wants. It is really only meaningful to folks who want to dominate society.

    • Jim Dailey

      You say that nothing tells an atheist God exists. It seems to me there are plenty of people around you willing to tell you God exists.....

      Sorry for finding your frustration funny, but you remind me of the Seinfeld episode where there is 3D artwork with a "picture inside the picture" and only some people can see it and Elaine's boss Mr. Pitt gets furious he cannot see it. I think it was in season 6.

      • Daryl K. Sauerwald

        Classic logical fallacy. Your comment is not valid because your basing the logic of your argument on what people say. Your comment " there are plenty of people willing to tell you God exists" so what if plenty of people tell me Islam is true? What if plenty of people tell me God dose not exist?What if plenty of people tell me I don't really have a right to arms? What if plenty of people eat cat shit and tell me it is good for me?What if most people say having sex with children is what God wants? What you think was a snappy,logical comeback is total bullshit.You need to do why better then that.

        • Jim Dailey

          I really was not going for a logical response. Especially since you already declared that you already found all logical arguments for the existence of God were lacking. Pretty sure I am not going to out-do Thomas Aquinas.

          So I thought I would go for a little light humor. Seinfeld and the episode with the 3-D painting and Elaine's boss Mr. Pitts (Season 6 "The Gymnast") are a pretty good parody of why it is silly to try to argue someone into seeing something they can not see. I thought you might enjoy it. Maybe not though.

          As far as Christians telling you to eat cat shit, well, I really don't blame you for being angry about that.

          • Daryl K. Sauerwald

            You said " i really was't going for a logical response" I say bullshit, you got caught with your pant down and now your making lame excuses.

  • Jon DeRienzo

    , Unfortunatley, the author is confused about the definition of the term atheist. He states: “An Atheist Says He Knows There Is No God”. Ooops WRONG! Atheists do NOT make that claim. That is a claim made by an anti-theist. Ive grown so weary of people touting this ignorant perception about the atheist's position regarding the existence of gods. Here's what the term atheist ACTUALLY means:

    a·the·ist
    ˈāTHēəst/
    noun

    a person who disbelieves or lacks belief in the existence of God or gods.

    You're welcome. : D

  • David Hennessey

    In order to assert that God exists, you must know what a God is, is God a person, is God inside or outside the Universe, is God matter, energy or thought? For Christians, they assert that Jehovah exists, the specific entity mentioned in their scriptures.

    Atheist: So, does any other God exist besides Jehovah?
    Christian: Of course not.
    Atheist: So, if I can prove Jehovah was not God, we will both be atheists?
    Christian: Well, that's logical.
    Atheist: Is God all powerful?
    Christian: Of course.
    Atheist: Jehovah couldn't drive out the inhabitants of the valley because they had chariots of iron, your document, he wasn't God.

    If Jehovah wasn't God and the Christian accepts the proposition that no other entity is God, there is no God.

    That is where the fallacy lies, before a court case you must establish what each side agrees on, the ground rules and the definitions. If there were a pure Deist who believed in no particular God, just a theoretical God, that imaginary Deist might almost have a point.

    Almost,except that a theoretical God is no God at all, case closed.

  • KNH777

    **
    1 - Nothing exists if No-Maximality is exemplified

    2 - Maximal greatness is possible only if Maximality is exemplified.

    3 - Without Maximality, then Maximal Greatness is impossible!

    4 - Since Maximality exists, ONLY those who are made in the image of Maximality can achieve the highest possible Maximum Greatness in the image of Maximality!

    5 - Those who are made in the image of Maximality achieve Maximum Greatness by an ever present goal within themselves, and set before themselves ever reaching for their Maximum Greatness with standards reflective of the image of Maximality!

    6 - The goal to achieve Maximum Greatness can never achieved if Maximality is altered by a lesser image of Maximality in any and every possible world!

    7 - Maximum Greatness is achieved by reaching it's Maximum Potential in it's Maximum Purpose through achieving it's highest possible likeness to an unaltered image of Maximality.
    **

  • KNH777

    What would it be like if God didn't really exist, if there was no Maximality and no Maximum Greatness Potential?
    Without any basis of standard of Maximality qualities?

    If there is no basis for Conscience without a Maximality to define and establish a standard of conscience, then how does conscience exist, and an even more disturbing question, why is it exclusive to 1 species? So then why would conscience exist among humanity, yet not exist in any other living thing produced in the same possible world?
    Wouldn't it make sense that if conscience was evolved, that there would be further samplings of conscience in the same possible world?

  • This argument fails because it misrepresents what an atheist is. Atheism is the lack of belief that a god or gods exists. That is not the same as making a claim that god does not exist.
    If you tell me you met Elvis yesterday and I say I dont believe you, its not up to me to prove that you didn't meet him. You're the one making a claim, not me. Therefore the burden of proof falls on you, not me.

    • Atheism is not the "lack" of anything. It is a REFUSAL to believe, based on a lack of evidence. Belief is " Choosing to Believe ... 'Alternative Facts' " , the title of the latest post in my blog (blindfaithblindfolly.wordpress.com).

      • Doug Shaver

        It is a REFUSAL to believe, based on a lack of evidence.

        That might be your atheism. It is not mine.

        • Sorry, Doug (and Tristan). To say that "atheism is a LACK of belief" is to suggest that it is a deficiency, something we should have or need to have. Webster's New World Dictionary states : " 'Lack' implies an absence or insufficiency of something essential or desired (e.g. 'she lacks experience')". Believers have cunningly succeeded in conning atheists into saying they "lack" belief in God. No sir ! They might feel the need; I don't. Define your atheism as you see fit. But don't call it a "lack". It is a refusal.

          • Doug Shaver

            To say that "atheism is a LACK of belief" is to suggest that it is a deficiency, something we should have or need to have.

            It can do that. It doesn't have to do that.

            Webster's New World Dictionary states . . . .

            That's proof-texting. It isn't how dictionaries are supposed to be used.

            " 'Lack' implies an absence or insufficiency of something essential or desired (e.g. 'she lacks experience')"

            Do you know what the word or means? If the statement "X is A or B" is true, then "X is A" is a true statement even if "X is B" is a falsehood.

            Believers have cunningly succeeded in conning atheists into saying they "lack" belief in God.

            No, they have not. I used to believe that I had to deny God's existence to be an atheist, but it was from theists that I got that idea. It took another atheist to show me that I was mistaken.

            .

          • Sample1

            To be without or to lack what theists throw down with is an honest description of an atheist's point of view, is it not?

            Calling it a refusal could imply knowing what exactly a theist purports to be and, as is commonly shown here on SN and elsewhere, virtually every believer is an island unto themselves regarding their theological/spiritual opinions.

            A personal favorite is being faith-free.

            Mike, faith-free.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            Or as the saying goes: Three theists and four opinions.

          • Michael Murray

            Four ? Shouldn't the rule of the Trinity mean 3 = 3 x 1 = 3 x 3 = 9 ? I always have trouble with advanced Catholithmetic.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            Possibly, but since 2=0 there are other options. 9 = 9+0= 9+2 = 11 and so on and so forth. You can even get an irrational amount of opinions, because sqrt(0) = sqrt(2). Careful with the Catholic math - It is all very fungible.

          • The Saint

            Or one religion (christianism) thousand of versions of it.

          • Tom More

            Knowing God exists is just a fact about reality. It's just normal human experience. It can be the result of philosophical examination. And it can be the effect of the experience of God which I think most people have experienced once or twice in their lives. I know I have. And its undeniable.

            Faith is a different thing. Faith is a reasoned assent of the will. It is not blind, without evidence or anything less than reasonable.. God IS Reason.. why reasoning works. I am a Catholic, and I have faith as well in the person of Christ present in the sacraments of His church. This is a gift received not earned. One might describe faith as belief in action, though faith is not belief. It's an inspiration for and enabler of action.

            So one may indeed be aware of the existence of God but relatively faith free. It's rather like having free will and knowing this knowing that something about the human person and ourselves cannot be reduced to the merely physical. This naturally leads to the reasonable belief that the human person is very likely to some extent eternal as spiritual. Spiritual means an active principle or power or capacity that is not reducible to the material. Contemporary philosophy of mind is also discovering the inadequacy of physicalist attempts to explain consciousness or mind.

            https://duckduckgo.com/?q=Thomas+Nagle+MInd+and+Cosmos+&t=opera&ia=products

          • The Saint

            You are a Catholic most likely by chance, by tradition; because you were born into a Catholic home. As for your faith, it is blind and dead Tom.
            If you had any faith, just a tad (mustard seed), you should be able to:
            * Move mountains
            * Cure the sick without medical intervention
            * Heal the blind
            * Raise the dead
            * Do greater works than your lord's
            - This is al per your lord - Yet, with all your faith, you could not move a feather.
            So who is is lying, you or your lord?
            'Yeahbut' is not a rebuttal, it is self-deception.

          • it is self-deception.

            That's what they say about atheists. You keep on sounding just like the worst of them.

          • The Saint

            Consider the source Doug; that is what they say about other religions and even other sects within their religion.
            You can't get a catholic, an evangelical, a Mormon, and a Baptist to agree on the ' truth.' They each have their own version of it, this should give you a clue.

          • that is what they say about other religions and even other sects within their religion.

            Yes. It's a bad argument when they use it, and it doesn't become a good argument just when nonreligious people use it.

          • The Saint

            It is not what I say about christians that makes them self-delusional Doug, it is what christians say about themselves and their behavior what makes them so:

            This is what the bible say Jesus told the followers:

            20 He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I
            tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” Matthew 17:20

            - The facts is ‘nothing is possible for them –

            * This is what Christians say when you challenge their faith; "yeahbut…'

          • it is what christians say about themselves and their behavior what makes them so:

            It's still your say-so. I used to be one of them. I know what they say about themselves.

            This is what the bible say Jesus told the followers . . . . The facts is ‘nothing is possible for them –

            That is not a fact about Christians. That your interpretation of something the Bible says about Christians. If Christians cannot agree among themselves how to interpret their own book, I see no reason to give your interpretation any more credence than any of theirs.

          • The Saint

            No one says this about atheists Doug;

            The so-called christians self-delusion lies in that they claim to have faith in the god and that they believe:

            “12 Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do
            the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. 13 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 You may ask me for anything
            in my name, and I will do it.” John 14:
            12 – 14

            Key points:

            * Believers (‘whoever believes in me) will do greater works
            than he.

            - He changed water into wine

            - He cured the blind

            - Healed he sick (without medical intervention

            - Raised the dead

            + Now, how many christians do you know who can these thing, much less greater things than these?

          • No one says this about atheists Doug;

            What anybody says or doesn't say about atheists has nothing to do with what you're saying about Christians.

          • The Saint

            You might thin you are clever by skirting what I illustrated above Doug.
            What christians (the holier-than-thou) has everything to do with what I say about them; I point out their self-delusion and hypocrisy; it is self evident.
            * They claim to believ
            * They claim to have faith
            * The claim to be holier-than-thou (attack and demonize others, i.e. atheists, Muslims, gays, etc.

          • it is self evident.

            Self-evidence is the last refuge of a philosophical scoundrel.

          • The Saint

            Employing the ad hominem in a failed attempt at a rebuttal is the last refuge of an ignoramus; see how this works Doug?

          • see how this works Doug?

            I know how diversions work.

          • The Saint

            Are you and yay joined at the hip? Doug

          • Are you and yay joined at the hip? Doug

            Hardly. I just happen to think it possible to disagree with someone without calling them a liar.

          • The Saint

            Fine you can disagree with me, but you bear an uncanny resemblance to yay; mostly by the content of your comments

          • The Saint

            While you are at it, kindly point whom I called a liar? So that I may correct you. Doug

          • While you are at it, kindly point whom I called a liar?

            You say the New Testament narratives are all fiction. How do you think the first Christians came to believe they were history?

          • The Saint

            You did not answer my question.
            To answer yours; it is called self-delusion, which is the effect of suspending all logical, rational, cognitive faculties Doug.

          • You did not answer my question.

            I intended to base my answer on your response. Now that I have it, I can admit that you have not called anyone a liar. I thought you had, but I was mistaken.

            With that out of the way, I have a followup question. Do you believe that whenever anyone believes a falsehood, it is because they have suspended all of their logical, rational, and cognitive faculties?

          • The Saint

            Good, glad we got that out of the way. Clearly, other cases of delusion might depend on different factors. There are people who can't grasp basic concepts, i.e. 'flatearthers' who believe the earth is flat; then there is the narcissist delusional who thinks he is loved by everyone, then there are the compulsive gamblers who believe they will hit the 'big one next time,' and usually end up losing the farm.
            As for the religious, they normally fall under narcissist delusion:
            * I'm special because a god made a universe just for me.
            * I'm special because a God killed his son just for me.
            * I don't have to accept responsibility for my actions because I'm special, (forgiven by the god).
            * I belong to a special, elite group because I'm Christian, Muslim, Jewish, etc al.

          • Clearly, other cases of delusion might depend on different factors.

            Is everyone who disagrees with you about anything deluded? Or just people who disagree with you about some things?

          • The Saint

            Precisely, there are several forms of delusion, that is a given.
            Where do you get the idea that 'everyone' who disagrees with me is deluded; is that the case with you?

          • Is everyone who disagrees with you about anything deluded? Or just people who disagree with you about some things?

            Precisely, there are several forms of delusion, that is a given.

            I asked you "A or B?" Which is it?

            Where do you get the idea that 'everyone' who disagrees with me is deluded

            It isn't my idea. I'm asking whether it's yours.

          • The Saint

            One more time, where do you get the notion that everyone who disagrees with me is deluded, have you seen me debate other topics?

          • The Saint

            I recently debated with an engineer the theory that in a DC circuit, current flows from negative to positive; that is that electrons flow from negative to positive. My contention is that electrons don't flow at all. The other person's views are based on conventional acceptance of the theory; I disagree but by no means think he is delusional. Do you get my drift Doug, or do feel that you need to defend those who live under the ' god delusion'?

          • My contention is that electrons don't flow at all.

            That says something unflattering about your scientific literacy.

            do feel that you need to defend those who live under the ' god delusion'?

            I feel a need to defend anyone who is a victim of the sort of bigotry you're expressing.

          • The Saint

            Actually your response says more about your scientific 'illiteracy' Doug.
            I've had to point out to others under the god delusion that Goldstein a public forum where anyone may debate about any topic. Some make claims to fantastic tales; I challenge those tales.
            Based on your logic, you and those who oppose my views are bigots because I too have a valid opinion; so, who defends me from your the bigotry you express?
            [BTW, here is another scientific challenge for you: Where do trees and plants get the substance to produce trunks, bark, leaves, fruit, etc?
            If you say "from the ground," which is the common convention, you would be wrong.]

          • Actually your response says more about your scientific 'illiteracy' Doug.

            Nice tu quoque.

          • The Saint

            Not as nice as your failed rebuttal Doug.

          • BCE

            Guilty, sort of, for using the "worst argument"
            I've argue with atheists who suggest how God should be, they sound like they have a superior design and want to make themselves... The Master of the Universe.
            ie...there should be no pain, or at least no gratuitous pain.
            For me, there is pain, so to say God shouldn't allow it, says I'd either think I know better than god(I'm the Master)
            Or I Know better than the Universe (biology, chemistry etc.)that has brought life to the point of feeling pain and the intellect to remember and fear it. So I prefer to to not consider it a flaw whether a theist or atheist.
            Mind you I appreciate relief, like water, I love a cool glass
            but hate the idea of drowning. I long for summer and sitting in the sun, but hate the idea of skin cancer.
            I naively avoid thinking it is the fault of a mean and disinterested god
            but admit I think those who do, ascribe to themselves a bit more godlike intellect. So I say I'm guilty, in my heart, as the article suggests.
            I get it when atheists say they don't believe in god because they find no evidence and no need for one.
            I respect your restraint , than you

          • BCE

            I normally would not respond...
            Apology, exchange not constructive

          • The Saint

            Normally I would not respond to such an inane response to a simple (high school-level) question BCE, but I could not help myself. You too a stab at the question anr got close to the answer; I will give you 'E' for effort.
            As for your baseless insinuations; I take no responsibility for your seeming stupid, you do well without me.

          • BCE

            You posed ...
            Apology, edited

          • The Saint

            To put it in the simplest terms, you are pissing outside the pot BCE.

          • Tom More

            Valid opinion? The new jargon king. atheism really is unintelligence.

          • The Saint

            You might've noticed in this forum a person (yay), who attempts to debate that Noah's ark actually existed. I asked how did the polar bear reach the Middle EAst, or the penguin which are only found in the Antarctic, or the marsupials of Australia? He (she) contends that the god gave Noah plenty of time and that there land bridges. This not only reflections an obstinate delusion to cling to a myth, it also reflects extremely poor debate skills in trying to pass baseless (no scientific or biblical base) conjecture as if it were a fact.
            How do you defend such delusion?
            De

          • How do you defend such delusion?

            I don't call it a delusion. I call it a mistake.

          • The Saint

            A rose by any other name...

          • Calling a pansy a rose doesn't put thorns on it.

          • The Saint

            Did the concept really escaping Doug?, it has nothing to do with roses.

          • it has nothing to do with roses.

            Yes, I know. It has something to do with what you can and cannot do with words.

          • The Saint

            Diverting from the topic with semantics does not add to the conversation.

          • Phil

            I think a good point that Doug is making is that the purpose of these discussions is to seek the truth together. That can only happen when there is good will on both sides. This means giving each other the benefit of the doubt.

            So instead of using things that will probably not help the process of seeking truth together (for example, ad hominem attacks), seeing someone as mistaken, rather than as "delusional" will help to further discussion towards the truth of reality.

          • The Saint

            Doug is making no such point, he insinuates that because anyone who disagrees with me that person is deluded. I have made no such observation, ever.
            As for "seeking the truth;" the truth via not subjective to believes or delusions. A person who clings to an irrational belief is delusional (this does not mean the person is not entitled to a belief, no matter invitational.)
            Quite often when people don't have the truth (facts), they make up things which, at a glance are baseless and irrational.
            Take this yay person that when asked how did Noah get the penguin from Antarctica, the marsupials from Australia or the polar bears from the North Pole to the Middle EAst (the ark).
            He makes up the inane conjecture that the god gave Noah plenty of time and that there were land bridge's.
            The delusion (self-delusion), lies in that there is no biblical or scientific proof to support the absurd notion.
            It would be wiser to say "I don't know," rather than to try to pull of such an irrational notion as the truth (fact).
            From this Doug surmised that 'everyone' who disagrees with me us delusional.
            Being mistaken and being delusional are not synonymous; a compulsive gambler lives under the delusion that "next time I will win the big one," and end up losing the farm.
            What will help discussions in these 'public' forums is to remain objective and not rely on truisms or on superstitions.

          • Diverting from the topic with semantics does not add to the conversation.

            A delusion is a consequence of mental illness. I don't believe Christians are mentally ill.

          • The Saint

            You are correct about what a delusion is Doug, and you might be mistaken in what you believe.
            A religious person who flies an airplane into s building is not mistaken, he is a delusional fanatic, and so is the one who kills medical personnel because they practice a legal medical procedure that he considers a sin.

          • A religious person who flies an airplane into s building is not mistaken, he is a delusional fanatic

            Oh. So, you think a delusion is not a mistake?

          • The Saint

            Not in his mind, thus the delusion; if you can't see the difference I can't help you.

          • Oh. So, you think a delusion is not a mistake?

            Not in his mind

            So, I'm not making a mistake unless I think I'm making a mistake. That's good to know. Really good to know.

          • The Saint

            You are getting confused with semantics again Doug.

          • You are getting confused with semantics again Doug.

            Are you saying you meant something other than what you said?

          • The Saint

            I'm not sure you read what you think I said or if you think that what I meant to is not what I meant to say Doug.

          • The Saint

            "To err is humane..."
            Humans are expected to err, that is why there is an eraser at one end of a pencil and 'undelite' is on a PC menu.
            Being delusional usually takes therapy, meds or a rude awakening.

          • Tom More

            He seems to suffer from the delusion that most theists are fundamentalists like he is. Such cowardice.

          • The Saint

            Tell us, is everyone who disagrees with you deluded the Doug?

          • Tell us, is everyone who disagrees with you deluded the Doug?

            I think that when anyone disagrees with me, at least one of us is mistaken, and I try always to think it possible that I am that one. In my lexicon, a mistake is not a delusion unless it is the effect of a mental illness, and I will not believe that all religious people are mentally ill.

          • The Saint

            People can be mistaken or they can be delusional; some professionals have concluded that some religious sufferclinical delusion. Take the followers of Jim Jones, he persuaded 900 + people to comitt suicide by taking cyanide. Warren Jeffs, the leader of the FLDS, and who is serving life + 20 for multiple sexual abuse charged (he had several 'wives' who were minors), yet, still has several thousand followers. I know of at least two Christian couples who have been convicted of homicide and child neglect for denying a sick child medical services and relying on prayer instead, because this is what their church teachers.
            While these might be extreme cases, they they are not isolated cases; and they were not 'mistaken,' they were delusional.
            Then you have thousands of sects who sell invisible real estate and millions fall for it.

          • some professionals have concluded that some religious suffer clinical delusion

            I'm not denying that some do.

          • The Saint

            Thank you; in fact I have spoken to a couple of mental health professionals recently who have stated that clients or patients who rely on a god are the most difficult to treat; they don't respond to therapy or even take their meds.

          • David Hardy

            Hello The Saint,

            I don't post here too often, but I feel it is important to briefly offer some thoughts on this discussion.

            1) Religious belief is not delusional, although delusions may incorporate religious beliefs. One may take many issues with The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (Currently in its fifth addition), but it is the standard by which mental health disorders and mental health terminology is used. Delusions specifically exclude widely held religious and cultural beliefs, for at least two reasons. First, a delusion is an atypical set of beliefs, and a set of beliefs that are widely held is not atypical. The explanation for the beliefs are in that the person was exposed to them within the culture/religion, rather than developing a conclusion through thinking not passed to them from others. Second, trying to pathologize cultural and religious differences has an unfortunate history of discrimination in the mental health community, and so differences resulting in these areas are no longer pathologized through terms such as delusions. On the other hand, a specific person may have a delusion incorporating religious symbols in the same way as any other area of life may be drawn into a delusion, but the religious do not suffer a higher than average rate of delusions, which supports the position that being religious also does not lead to delusional thinking.

            2) I would suggest that you may have not taken a representative sample in the mental health professionals with whom you spoke who find that those with a strong belief in God are difficult to treat. There are a number of effective mental health therapists who specialize in counseling from a religious angle, and certainly there are therapists and similar professionals who can effectively work with the theistic without being theistic themselves. Among other things, therapy relies on the therapist being able form a positive relationship and present new strategies in a way that makes sense to the client, which requires utilizing that client's cognitive framework. In my own experience, mental health professionals who are unable to effectively treat those of any specific worldview are usually not proficient and comfortable in presenting their therapeutic knowledge within the framework of that worldview, which speaks more to the limitations of the professional than the worldview. One might make a point regarding those who do not take medications due to their worldview, but this is by no means exclusive to religious views -- some people refuse medication because the belief they are "medicating away their feelings", for example.

            Sorry for the long post, hopefully all of this is helpful to the discussion.

          • The Saint

            Hello David, I don't know about you but the mental health professionals I have dealt with are adept, professional and diplomatic in dealing with patients or clients who suppress reality because of religious 'beliefs.'

            Some religious groups, i.e. the Jehovah Witnesses take selective scriptures literally:

            “… Both the Old and New Testaments clearly command us to abstain from blood. (Genesis 9:4; Leviticus 17:10; Deuteronomy 12:23; Acts 15:28, 29) Also, God views blood as representing life. (Leviticus 17:14) So we avoid taking blood not only in obedience to God but also out of respect for him as the Giver of life.”

            - While they are entitled to their beliefs, the health and welfare of a child takes precedence over religious dogma which is a form of delusion.
            * Much too often, believers follow charlatans which convince them to practice inhumane and even criminal acts; this conditions clearly fall under some form of delusion and mental health problems. (Mental health professionals are required by law to report to the appropriate authorities when a person can cause harm to himself or others and they can do this without violating privacy rights.)

            “A Washington couple accused of following the philosophy of a controversial book on child-rearing has been convicted of manslaughter for the death of their 13-year-old, adopted Ethiopian daughter, who died of malnutrition and hypothermia in 2011.
            Carri Williams, mother of now-deceased Hana Williams, was convicted by a jury Monday of homicide by abuse and manslaughter, while her husband, Larry Williams, was convicted of first-degree manslaughter. The jury declared a mistrial for a homicide by abuse charge for Larry.

            Both parents were also found guilty of assault stemming from their mistreatment of their 10-year-old adopted son, also from Ethiopia, who investigators argued received similar treatment to Hana Williams.
            The couple lives in the Sedro-Woolley area of Washington and are parents to six biological children and two adopted children. They were arrested in September 2011, four months after the death of their adopted daughter, Hana, who passed away from hypothermia at age 13 after she was allegedly locked outside in the cold. Her extremely low body weight could not produce enough heat, and she passed away in temperatures around 40 Degrees Fahrenheit.

            The couple reportedly adhered to the controversial
            child-rearing book, ‘To Train Up a Child,’ written by Tennessee-area Christian pastor Michael Pearl, founder of No Greater Joy Ministries.”
            [http://www.christianpost.com/news/couple-who-followed-controversial-christian-child-rearing-book-convicted-of-manslaughter-104237/]

            - These are not isolated cases.

            * David and Ginger Twitchell, a Christian Science couple
            from Massachusetts who relied on prayer rather than on doctors as their young son lay dying from an obstructed bowel, were convicted of involuntary manslaughter last month. It was a stunning verdict, coming as it did in the very shadow of the Mother Church in Boston.

            But the death of 2-year-old Robyn Twitchell and the
            conviction that followed was only the latest of a number of successful prosecutions of Christian Scientists whose children died agonizing deaths after spiritual healing failed.”
            [http://www.nytimes.com/1990/08/06/us/in-child-deaths-a-test-for-christian-science.html]

            * Here it took the death of a second child before the delusional christian couple was made responsible and the remaining children were no subject to the same faith:
            “A Pennsylvania mother and father who believe in faith-healing were sent to jail Wednesday for causing the death of their young, sick child by refusing to take him to the doctor. It was
            the second of Herbert and Catherine Schaible's children to die under their care.

            "You've killed two of your children...not God, not your church, not religious devotion — you," Philadelphia Judge Benjamin Lerner told the couple, as he sentenced them to between three and a half and seven years behind bars. The Schaibles pled no contest to third-degree murder in their eight-month-old son Brandon's death last year from pneumonia.

            The Schaibles lost a first child in 2009, a two-year-old who died from pneumonia. They were sentenced to ten years probation for involuntary manslaughter for that death. Part of their probation stated that they must seek medical care if another one of their children became sick.

            Herbert Schaible told police last year that medicine violates their religious beliefs. "We believe in divine healing, the Jesus shed blood for our healing and that he died on the cross to break the devil's power," he said.

            The couple belongs to a small Pentacostal community. They have seven surviving children.”

            [http://time.com/8750/faith-healing-parents-jailed-after-second-childs-death/]

            - Notice that the
            couple belong to a group where other believers might be causing the death of
            their children because of their delusional beliefs.
            -- Never in the history of mankind has it been proven conclusively that prayer works; to believe it works is delusion.

          • David Hardy

            Hello The Saint,

            First, I wanted to appreciate the amount of effort you clearly put into providing specific examples for your position. I will do my best to respond to several of your points with a similar level of consideration.

            Hello David, I don't know about you but the mental health professionals I have dealt with are adept, professional and diplomatic in dealing with patients or clients who suppress reality because of religious 'beliefs.'

            Most mental health professionals I have worked with are adept, professional and diplomatic in general. However, most also have certain areas where they are most comfortable. I know at least one therapist who is excellent at working with women, and less effective with men. Many therapists prefer either children or adults, and are less comfortable with the other group. And I know that discussing religion in a therapeutic context is an area where many therapists are not fully comfortable -- some refuse to engage in it at all, directing clients to address those matters with authorities within their religion. My point, however, is that if a mental health professional reports any worldview (such as a theistic one) to be resistant to therapy, it should not be assumed that this is because the worldview is intrinsically resistant to therapy, especially when there are therapists that do work well with that worldview.

            Regarding your examples, I agree completely that a person's beliefs can lead them to make highly questionable choices that can lead to serious harm or death. However, I disagree that theistic viewpoints are innately inclined to harmful choices. Jehovah's Witnesses and Christian Scientists, both groups that you mentioned, do have specific directives that can lead followers to reject medical treatments for themselves or minors in their care. That does not, however, justify the inference that all theists, or even all Christians, accept such directives. Even within groups that have such directives, there are individuals that reject and ignore them, much less individuals who aren't part of the group at all. There are also people who, although they have no directive in their worldview to do so, commit harmful acts, or people who, although not raised with a worldview that supports harmful behaviors, come to embrace one. I would submit that understanding the factors that lead a person to accept and enact particular harmful beliefs requires looking far beyond the beliefs themselves, and can include local socioeconomic and community conditions, upbringing, culture, as well as unique individual life events. After all, there are also many theists who enact pro-social behavior that they link to their beliefs -- understanding the factors that go beyond those beliefs is vital to understanding what leads a person to his or her particular interpretation and expression of the belief system.

            Finally, I notice you continue to use the term "delusion" in regards to religious belief, in contradiction to its clinical use. Am I correct in understanding that you are using it colloquially, to mean "a belief that does not reflect reality?" I ask because I would like to better understand your reasoning for choosing this specific term, which seems to pathologize and dismiss the worldview to which it is being applied, when conversing in a forum that includes people of that worldview.

            EDIT: Fixed a typo

          • The Saint

            Some therapists specialize on gender-specific patients or in pediatrics.

            Famous christians: (infamous)

            * Hitler

            * Jeffrey Dahmer

            * Jim Jones

            * David Koresh

            * Sun Myung Moon

            * James Holmes

            * Pat Robertson He claims that hurricanes and other natural disasters are caused by god because of gays, but not to worry, he has claimed
            to be able to deflect hurricanes by praying to God,)

            * Pastor Matthew Hale - is currently serving 40 years in prison for attempting to solicit the murder of Judge Joan Lefkow)

            * Warren Jeffs – Leader of the Fundamental Church of Christ of Latter Day Saints; Is currently serving life plus 20 for multiple child sexual abuses. (Yet, Jeffs still has thousands of followers.)

            * Rev. Michael Bray - He served 46 months of a 10 year sentence for conspiring to bomb 10 abortion clinics in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington D. C. He is currently labeled a terrorist.

            * Paul Jennings Hill - minister of the Presbyterian Church, but the church excommunicated him in 1993 for taking such a militant stand against abortion, and for becoming a member of the Army of God, a Christian terrorist, anti-abortion organization.

            On July 29, 1994, he murdered a doctor at an abortion clinic, and his bodyguard, point-blank with shotgun blasts. He wounded the
            bodyguard’s wife. Then he calmly put down the shotgun in the grass and sat and waited for the police. He was later executed.

            * Marshall Herff Applewhite, Jr.- A self-proclaimed prophet/Jesus incarnated; persuaded some of his followers that a UFO was coming to take
            them to heaven and that hey had to die to get there. They killed themselves with mixtures of
            phenobarbitol and applesauce, followed by vodka. They also put plastic bags over their heads to be sure of asphyxiating, in case the poison didn’t work.

            * Herbert and Catherine Schaible - Were sentenced
            to 3½ to seven years in prison for denying their second son medical attention while sick with pneumonia and praying for him instead; they were on probation for letting a two-year old son
            die under the same conditions. The
            Schaibles are third-generation members and former teachers at the First Century
            Gospel Church, a small, in northeast Philadelphia.
            (They don’t believe in home ownership. (Everyone rents.) Or birth control. Or seatbelts. Or eyeglasses. Or college degrees.)

            - They got off easy but will never have custody of the remaining seven children.
            They still believe in their ‘faith healing’ power.
            “We pray and ask God to heal … the way Jesus did when He was on Earth.”
            This people cannot be allowed to remain free in society, they killed two of their sons and remain in delusion.

            * Fred Phelps – Most know his story.

            * Dylann Storm Roof

            * The Duggars

            * Mike Huckabee [“You know, in my hometown of Hope, Arkansas, the three sacred heroes were Jesus, Elvis, and FDR, not necessarily in that order.”]

            * Kim Davis

            * Robert Lewis Dear

            * David Ali Sonboly (Most recent
            shooter in Germany)

            * Roy S. Moore, the chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, was suspended for the remainder of his term for violating the state’s canon of
            judicial ethics.

            The suspension was imposed by the state’s Court of the Judiciary, a nine-member body of selected judges, lawyers and others, which found Judge Moore guilty on six charges. Moore’s January order to the state’s 68 probate judges to refuse to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples cost him and some of his colleagues their career.

            Dylan Roof (is a registered Evangelical Lutheran)

            I could go on…

          • David Hardy

            Hello The Saint,

            Thank you for all of the examples that you find indicative of your position. However, I find that it is not hard to find examples of people who self identify as part of a group (or that others identify as being part of that group) who fit a certain description and use it to try and justify an inferred correlation between the group and the descriptor. I question some of the examples you gave, due to the wide difference in beliefs, but this is really beside the point. Picking your sample to fit the conclusion is part of the reason the confirmation bias is so easy to fall into. I prefer to rely on studies that attempt to use a random sample or otherwise survey a wide range of individuals to reduce bias, and must be subjected to the peer review of other researchers. Since you seem to prefer examples, I will start off with one:

            Salas-Wright, C. P., Vaughn, M. G., Hodge, D. R. & Perron, B. E. (2012). Religiosity Profiles of American Youth in Relation to Substance Use, Violence, and Delinquency. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 41(12) 1560-75.

            Using data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, these researchers performed an analysis to look for correlations between reported religious belief, participation in religious services, drug use and criminal behavior. It found that high religious belief on its own had no significant correlation with greater or lower drug use or criminal behavior. However, when coupled with regular participation in religious events, it was correlated with a reduction in both substance use and violent behavior.

            Now, as with any study in psychology, there are cautions necessary here. It was survey data, and correlation is not causation. Further, one could argue that attending religious services is just one example of community engagement, and that any strong engagement in community may be protective, so this is not truly indicative that religion itself is protective. This is especially possible since religious belief on its own show no strong correlation either way. However, it is suggestive that religion and engagement in a religious community did not result in anti-social behavior, as your examples seem to imply, and both together were associated with the opposite effect.

            I will leave it to you if you wish to continue. However, if you would like to discuss this further with me, I must insist on a single condition: If you want to provide evidence that supports religion as dangerous or harmful in some psychological way, I must ask that you provide me with at least one peer-reviewed research article published in an established scientific journal that supports the position you are taking. I know that finding, reviewing and referencing an article can be a demanding task, and I understand completely if you are not interested. However, I fear that we will otherwise have no forward movement in this conversation, since anecdotal data is often all too easy to use to support a range of different and often contradictory positions in relation to psychology. What I can say is that I have never come across such an article supporting a link between religion and anti-social behavior, which is why I question this conclusion, so I would be appreciative if you are familiar with such research and willing to share it.

            EDIT: Had to correct one of the findings in the study referenced.

          • So then, it seems, religions are just delusions that got really popular. What if there was just one person who was a Christian on Earth? Would Christianity be a delusion then?

          • David Hardy

            Hello The Thinker,

            So then, it seems, religions are just delusions that got really popular.

            No, delusions are the result of certain atypical cognitive patterns. I pointed to the widespread nature of religion to highlight how the cognitive patterns that are related to religious thinking are not atypical. Nor are they the same as those found in delusions.

            What if there was just one person who was a Christian on Earth? Would Christianity be a delusion then?

            Following up from above, no. Sorry if my prior post was not clear on this point.

          • No, delusions are the result of certain atypical cognitive patterns.

            Like what? Are specific religious beliefs qualified as delusions? It seems to me that the popular definition of a delusion arbitrarily cuts out religion from it.

            Following up from above, no. Sorry if my prior post was not clear on this point.

            The only point above this that you made was that delusions are atypical. If only one person were a Christian that would be atypical.

            On Wiki:

            A delusion is a belief that is held with strong conviction despite superior evidence to the contrary.

            Sounds like religion to me.

          • David Hardy

            Hello The Thinker,

            I do not rely on Wikipedia for my definition, and certainly not a single sentence (even in the link you gave there is a note immediately after the sentence you quoted distinguishing delusions from dogma, including religious dogma). Personally, I rely on current edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual. It is the central authority used among mental health professionals when describing mental health conditions and symptoms, at least in the United States. With some research, you could certainly find more about the type of thought patterns that leads to delusions, how to distinguish delusions from other beliefs, and different efforts to treat it, but I would suggest sticking to works that are peer reviewed in scholarly journals or are put out by reputable publishers in the field and written by mental health experts. For the purpose of trying to misappropriate "delusion" as a term for religion in order to imply a mental health pathology, it is enough to simply point out that anyone doing so is speaking against the majority consensus of professionals in the mental health field. You are, of course, free to use or misuse the term any way you like, my aim was only to highlight that in the conversation in question the term was being misused.

          • The DSM to me seems to simply exclude religious belief specifically so that religious belief wouldn't be counted as delusional, all the while religious belief meets the criteria for delusional belief. This appears to be so that the billions of religious people aren't stigmatized as delusion.

            As far as what Wiki says when it says,

            As a pathology, it is distinct from a belief based on false or incomplete information, confabulation, dogma, illusion, or other effects of perception.

            That can exclude certain kinds of religious belief, but not all religious belief. Someone who thinks they're god, or hearing a demon, spirit, angel, or god, speak to them falls under delusional. Wouldn't you agree?

          • David Hardy

            Someone who thinks they're god, or hearing a demon, spirit, angel, or god, speak to them falls under delusional. Wouldn't you agree?

            Not necessarily. It would depend on additional factors in the case. A person who could not distinguish the voice from sensory data might be hallucinating, but not necessarily delusional. A person who hears this voice, but is able to evaluate the suggestions and take an internally consistent approach to what the voice is saying would also be demonstrating a level of self-regulation and coherence not seen in delusional thinking.

            The DSM to me seems to simply exclude religious belief specifically so
            that religious belief wouldn't be counted as delusional, all the while religious belief meets the criteria for delusional belief. This appears to be so that the billions of religious people aren't stigmatized as delusion.

            I think that I will bow out of this discussion at this point, as you seem interested in turning it into a debate on whether your opinion on delusions is more sound than the official position taken among mental health professionals. I will leave it to you to decide what is more likely:

            1) You have noticed an apparent resemblance between delusional and religious thinking. This link is real, but the majority of professionals studying and treating delusional thinking have chosen or been compelled to pretend that this link is not present to avoid stigmatization of religious believers, as you suggest.

            2) You have noticed an apparent resemblance between delusional and religious thinking. The reason this resemblance is not promoted by the consensus of professionals who study and treat delusional thinking is because close examination has revealed that any apparent resemblance is superficial only.

            As I said, I am unlikely to respond further on this topic, as I do not see any likely benefit to either of us in doing so. Be well.

          • Not necessarily.

            OK, so then you're saying some religious belief is indeed delusional.

            A person who could not distinguish the voice from sensory data might be hallucinating, but not necessarily delusional.

            So then religious belief is hallucinatory?

            A person who hears this voice, but is able to evaluate the suggestions and take an internally consistent approach to what the voice is saying would also be demonstrating a level of self-regulation and coherence not seen in delusional thinking.

            This is not something most deeply religious people do, since consistency is not a mainstay of religious evaluation. Think of how Mohammad kept contradicting his earlier revelations in a process called abrogation.

            I think that I will bow out of this discussion at this point, as you seem interested in turning it into a debate on whether your opinion on delusions is more sound than the official position taken among mental health professionals.

            I think the main issue is whether the definition of a delusion is arbitrarily defined as such to exclude religious belief. If that's the case, then yes, psychiatrists certainly would have an incentive to do that. Comparing accepted delusional beliefs and comparing them with religious beliefs I think does show overlap, meaning, some religious beliefs are delusional, but not all.

          • Tom More

            It's impossible and incoherent for an atheist to label another a narcissist. Moral purpose to existence is denied.. no use of the word "should" permissible. So dumb.

          • The Saint

            Thank you Tom, for demonstrating how religion turns your brain to dog shit.
            Now go slap your mother for not aborting a brain dead child.

          • Tom More

            Such twaddle about logical, rational, cognitive faculties.... never read Thomas Nagle on Mind and Cosmos obviously. What a bore.

          • The Saint

            Why are you still wasting good oxygen Tom?
            There is a paramoecium somewhere out there that could better use that oxygen.

          • BCE

            Again, Thank you

          • Tom More

            Ad hominems are just fine and no insult if the dummy being addressed is a willful dummy. It's just simple description.

          • The Saint

            Maybe around your trailer park or your church Tom, but not in a forum where some form of intelligent debate is expected.

          • @tom_more:disqus and @nacho_zaragoza:disqus :

            Guys, we've given you a pretty long leash in this thread and others, but I'm asking you to tone down the snark and cut out the insults and ad hominem attacks.

            Please reread our commenting rules:

            https://strangenotions.com/commenting/

            If the mean-spirited tone continues, we'll unfortunately have to remove you from the site. Thanks!

          • The Saint

            Thanks for mediating Brandon; I'm a card-carrying atheist so snark and other evil traits are expected of me, but what can be said about a religious person who has to be admonished?

          • BCE

            Thank you

          • The Saint

            What they say about me does not help their delusional state Doug, do you know anyone who can actually achieve the things their Lord say they could achieve? I didn't think so.

          • What they say about you proves as much as what you say about them.

          • The Saint

            The answer would be No, you know of no one who can; move mountains, cure the sick, heal the blind, raise the dead or do greater works than their lord's.
            What they say about me is predictable and futile as a rebuttal.

          • The Saint

            It is self-deception Doug. But I alone don't say this.
            They can argue with their bible: "For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead." James 2:26
            'Yeahbut' is the most common attempt at a rebuttal from so-called christians; just watch the replies.

          • just watch the replies.

            I will address their replies when I'm talking with them. At any other time, their replies are irrelevant.

          • The Saint

            You didn't get it Doug; it is 'watch the replies' to my assertion that their faith is dead. They will attempt to rebuttal with ad hominem and with baseless conjecture. This is where the Bayes' theorem comes in handy. So-called christians are predictable.
            Their replies (to me) will prove my point.

          • Their replies (to me) will prove my point.

            They reinforce your belief about them. That much is obvious.

          • The Saint

            My belief? It is an obvious observation of their behavior.

          • My belief?

            Do you deny believing the things you say about them?

          • The Saint

            Do you believe the things you say about others Doug?
            I.e.

            "I just feel that that Catholic PR push back goes way too far, sometimes to the point of claiming virtually all the credit for modern science.
            The church's apologists have had 2,000 years to work on their PR. They've gotten so good at it, they've even got evangelical Protestants giving Medieval Catholic theologians credit for inspiring the scientific revolution."
            - This is rhetorical, of course you do; just as I stand by my (irrefutable) assertion that so-called Christians' faith is dead.
            -- I will ask you again; do you know anyone who can?:
            * Move mountains
            * Cure the sick
            * Heal the blind
            * Raise the dead
            * Do greater works than their lord's
            - Neither do they, Doug.

          • I stand by my (irrefutable) assertion that so-called Christians' faith is dead.

            Is irrefutable anything like infallible?

          • The Saint

            If you need a dictionary there is one online Doug.

          • The dictionary can't answer my question. I was asking about your own intended meaning.

          • The Saint

            This a fact which is probably beyond your grasp Doug: When you go past a word in a paragraph and you can't define that word, the rest of the paragraph will make no sense to you.

          • When you go past a word in a paragraph and you can't define that word, the rest of the paragraph will make no sense to you.

            If you want me to understand you, then it's up to you to tell me what you mean. If that's too much bother for you, then I have to doubt that you even care whether you are understood.

          • The Saint

            See a 5th-grader to splain a dictionary to you. In the meantime, I have to tend to the rabbits.

          • BCE

            Good day Mr Shaver
            I'll take the hit
            Bayes' theorem and "christian predictable"
            I could predict there will be shootings in Chicago next month, and
            more red roses will be ordered on Valentines day.
            But doesn't prove a value of murder.
            However our brain may have evolved to be excited by red
            The Saint expects a predictable "yeahbut" .....
            let's "just watch the replies"

          • Tom More

            Saint.. like most deeply unintelligent westerners you're poor mind has been rendered dysfunctional by the really, really dumb postmodern base..if you can coherently call postmodernism a base for anything. . that makes so many people just stupid. Your problem is you're really, really stupid Saint. The existence of God is demonstrable and has been for centuries for people too dumb to just see it in a sunset or prayer. If you ever get curious to know how you failed to become intelligent you can try the father of western science, Aristotle.. and along those lines you might smarten up a little. Hopefully you won't be such an unintelligent bore. http://edwardfeser.com/

          • The Saint

            Pull your head out Tom, and breath before you go completely brain dead; or is it too late?

          • The Saint

            Believing in a god, any of the many created by primitive, superstitious minds, is the result of suspending all rational, logical, cognitive faculties.
            As for your faith, it is dead; for "faith without works" is dead.
            Please don't be so dense as to claim your faith has gotten yoy anything.
            Anything you claim to have achieved through your faith can be achieved by praying to a small flat rock. Tom

          • Tom More

            Thanks for your dull thoughtless response Saint which is at least entertaining as illiteracy so often is. Can't beat illiteracy. And its hard to argue with someone so unintelligent. I find the new atheist crowd as bad as the religious fundamentalists but with less of a chance of smartening up. You obviously don't even know the questions.

          • The Saint

            You obviously don't know the answers Tom. And you are the one demonstrating illiteracy by assuming that an ad hominem is a rebuttal.

          • Tom More

            Not bad. What theists throw down is life, truth, goodness and hope. Atheism is just unintelligence in all these things held in blind faith.. or an arational act of the will. Often to protect other investments.

          • Tom More

            It's really just incoherence. A reasoned hope in the unreasonable. Theism is almost completely unavoidable if sanity is valued.

          • Tom More

            Atheism is simply and necessarily radical incoherence. Unutterable confusion at best. Unutterable flows from atheism which denies ordering toward ends.. Which is the act of Mind. No Mind, no order.. Therefore no words. Unutterable. Or radical unintelligence.

          • Sample1

            Are you claiming Bishop Barron and Brandon Vogt taught/teach you this?

            Mike

          • Using the word "refusal" is incorrect if you intend to use it as part of a blanket definition of the word. If I was unaware of the idea of a god or divine being, I would be an atheist by default. A refusal takes active participation. While that may be the type of atheist you or some others are, it is not a requirement of the term.
            And "lack of belief" does mean there's a deficiency in your belief of a supreme. You have to remember the word atheism comes from theism so of course the definition is going to explain that it is the opposite that. That isn't a judgment call. It's just an explanation that it is the opposite of the origin of the word.
            An example of this would be saying that I have a lack of desire to inflict pain on others. Obviously inflicting pain on others isn't viewed as a desirable characteristic by most people so this would probably be viewed as a positive statement.

          • If an individual is lucky enough to have lived totally "unaware of the idea of a god or divine being" or - more likely, more realistically - to have remained immune to such a belief of people around him (unless we are talking of an isolated tribe in the Amazon, totally devoid of religious beliefs - an unlikely possibility in 2017), then such an individual could be called an "a-theist", though he would have, by definition, no idea what the word meant ...
            Apart from this exceptional circumstance, there ARE people "unaware of the idea of a god or divine being". We call them "infants" ! If they are born into an atheist environment, they may remain atheists. In reality, they will inevitably be exposed, sooner or later, to religious belief. They may accept it or refuse it, but they will have to decide. In the modern world it is inconceivable that one could remain "unaware" - except, maybe, in the example of the Amazon, where the choice does not exist. This exception, in fact, proves the rule. With this one, hypothetical, exception, atheism IS a refusal.

            As for the "lack of belief" : Health is not, unfortunately, a universally and equally shared attribute. But if it is not the norm, it is at least the state we prefer. Sickness is "ill-health", a lack of health, "a-health". The negative word "atheism", "not theism", "un-belief", makes belief sound like a state of normality, the norm. Not-believing therefore is perceived as a ... lack. It is, in reality, our primordial, pristine state of mind. Hence my preference, in my Blog (blindfaithblindfolly.wordpress.com), for calling believers "non-atheists" : it is normal, not a lack, not to believe in God.
            Sapienti sat. Finis coronat opus. That's all, folks !

          • Lazarus

            So, it is normal not to believe in God.

            And yet, by your own admission this is not what we find. How did this abnormality come about? How did the non-atheists accomplish this deviation from our "primordial, pristine state of mind"? Why would they even seek to do such a heinous thing if it is actually "lucky" to live unaware of the idea of a god?

          • "Quod scripsi, scripsi". Take it or leave it. I did conclude my last comment with "That's All, Folks !"

          • Sample1

            Concluding with a Looney Tunes epithet?

            Mike

          • Phil

            Hey Frank, I know your were ducking out, but wanted to make a few quick comments.

            While one can claim that there is not evidence for God, most when you get down to it don't believe in God out of "blind faith", but rather do have good evidence for believing in God.

            In regards to people naturally coming to believe in a god of some sort, history shows that humanity does seem to have a natural tendency towards god(s). I am no history buff, but I'm actually not aware of any societies that didn't have a natural tendency towards mono/polytheism. Most examples of societies that were generally atheistic seemed to have not naturally arisen, but it was an atheism forced upon the people in some way. I could be wrong of course.

          • The Saint

            In the history of mankind, no gods, of the many out there, have ever been proven to exist; except in the mind of the believer.
            Humans have a tendency to attribute to gods what they can't explain, and even then, christians can't explain their god; this is why they have thousands of versions of it.

          • Phil

            Hey The Saint!

            I'd say that is a myth about God, that there is no "evidence". Ultimately, if one wants to search using reason, we come to the point where reason leads us to conclude that God must exist. It is simply following where reason leads us. We should believe nothing in "blind faith", including God. People confuse faith with blind faith a lot of the time.

            Now, if one is looking for scientific evidence, you're never gonna find evidence for or against the existence of God because God is necessarily outside of what science can study (the material cosmos). He is the reason the material cosmos itself exists in the first place.

            And one can also come to know the existence of God through an encounter with Him rather than through reason. That's the other main path to him.

          • The Saint

            Hey Phil, your ignorance is showing; you assume that 'god' is the name of your god; it is a title given to any of the many mythical entities created by the primitive superstitious minds; I e. Mars is the 'god' of war, Thor is the 'god' of thunder, Zeus is a Greek 'god'
            Do you even know why your god has no name? (there are some 100 names of the god in the bible, they are mostly adjectives.)
            As for an 'encounter' with the god, it is called delusion; self-delusion and can be usually treated with therapy.
            Again, there is no evidence of any god, none.

          • Phil

            That is a fair question to ask, "what does one mean when one says 'God'?" Ultimately when one uses God with a capital 'G', that is referencing not the mythical 'gods', but the one God that can be approached through both reason and revelation. Traditionally known as the God of the philosophers and the God of Judeo-Christianity.

            And there a decent amount of names for the one Creator God. If one is talking about the God who created all outside God's self ex-nihilo, then we are probably on track referencing the same God.

          • The Saint

            Every believer of every religion believes their 'god' is the real 'god.' But they don't call their god, 'god;' they might call it: Thor, or Zeus, or Quetzalcoatl, etc. - They have a name for their god.
            Those who call their god, 'god,' don't know the name of their god.
            So what does your magic book (bible) say is the name of your god? The bible has a number of names for the God and normally they are adjectives, not proper nouns.
            In Jewish tradition, if you know the name of a thing or entity, you can control it; so they gave the god a noun that could not be pronounced, "JHWH," (Jehovah is anglozised).
            Additionally, the Jewish scribes considered the name of the god so sacred that when they came to the point of writing the name they had a special pen and only after a prayer the name was written and only by a special scribe who was sanctified to do it; but they never called the god just ' god.'

          • Phil

            Sure, one can use different names to signify the same entity. For example, both "house" and "casa" reference the same thing. Likewise, both "God" and "YHWH" reference the same entity. So when one uses whatever name for God, we have to ask the clarifying questions to make sure we are talking about the same entity.

            It is all about using reason.

          • People confuse faith with blind faith a lot of the time.

            Why? How did that mistake originate?

          • Phil

            Why? How did that mistake originate?

            You know what, I have no clue when it originated, but I wouldn't be surprised if one could read about "faith" being used to mean "blind faith" back in ancient non-Christian writings. In other words, one could use "faith" to mean "blind faith", but that is not in the orthodox Christian tradition.

            The crux of this discussion is that when one use "faith" in regards to the Judea-Christian tradition, that primarily means "trust".

            The question is always, is it reasonable to trust (i.e., have faith) in God and what He has revealed. Of course, this follows upon the question of whether it is reasonable to posit the existence of God.

            But once we establish that it is reasonable to believe in the existence of God and also what He has revealed in and through the person of Jesus, then there are supra-rational beliefs that can follow, such as the existence of God as Trinity.

            (The difference between irrational, rational, and supra-rational is a whole 'nuther topic.)

          • The crux of this discussion is that when one use "faith" in regards to the Judea-Christian tradition, that primarily means "trust".

            The question is always, is it reasonable to trust (i.e., have faith) in God and what He has revealed.

            I don't see how the question of whether I should trust God is separable from the question of whether I should trust the people who tell me about God. I see no reason, aside from some people's say-so, to believe he has revealed anything.

          • Phil

            I don't see how the question of whether I should trust God is separable from the question of whether I should trust the people who tell me about God. I see no reason, aside from some people's say-so, to believe he has revealed anything.

            Sure, that is why one evaluates what people are saying as reasonable or not. We ought not seek to take anything on "blind faith". We never ought to believe something that contradicts reason. So if we find that to be the case, then we ought to reevaluate our belief.

            We ask, is it reasonable to believe that God has actually revealed himself?

            Ultimately, we need to approach every single person from as neutral as a position as possible (perfect neutrality is never possible). Because if one automatically doesn't trust people who one would label as "religious", that is a bias and is not reasonable. Just as it would be a bias to blindly trust a religious person or a scientist just because of who they are.

            Ultimately, we trust a lot of people--like scientists--but it shouldn't be a blind trust. It should be a reasonable trust.

          • We ask, is it reasonable to believe that God has actually revealed himself?

            I have found no useful algorithm for deciding whether a given belief is reasonable. The nearest I've gotten is to suppose that if many reasonable people believe something, then prima facie it is a reasonable belief. I also think charity compels the assumption that most people are reasonable most of the time.

            So, to not really answer your question: I'm not interested in proving that the answer is no. I'd rather stipulate an affirmative answer and then defend my assertion that it is also reasonable to believe that there has been no such revelation.

            I would also argue: The notion that reasonable people may disagree about such an important issue is not itself unreasonable.

          • Phil

            Maybe to phrase what I was trying to point out in a different way is: we evaluate whether it is reasonable to believe in any claim in similar way. We gather evidence and use reason.

            This goes for ultimately any claims, such as:
            -That space and time are/aren't dynamic.
            -The speed of light is/isn't constant.
            -That humans are/aren't causing dangerous climate change.
            -That Donald trump is/isn't a bad president.
            -That morality is/isn't objective.
            -That God does/doesn't exist.
            -That Goes has/hasn't revealed Himself in some way.

            So doesn't matter what kind of claim it is, we always can evaluate it to see if it is reasonable to believe or not. None of these claims ought to rely on pure "blind faith".

            And I agree, reasonable people can disagree upon most anything.

          • We gather evidence and use reason.

            We have testimony that God has revealed himself, and I agree that testimony for any proposition is evidence for that proposition. However, my reason tells me that in this instance, it is insufficient evidence.

          • Phil

            We have testimony that God has revealed himself, and I agree that testimony for any proposition is evidence for that proposition. However, my reason tells me that in this instance, it is insufficient evidence.

            Sure, and reasonable people can disagree about things and the strength of evidence and such.

            The only point of this was to say that one ought not believe that God has revealed Himself on blind faith. One can argue whether they are good reasons or not to believe in God's self-revelation, just like in all those other things I pointed out above, but it ought never be on blind faith.

          • The only point of this was to say that one ought not believe that God has revealed Himself on blind faith.

            OK.

          • Tom More

            Agreed. One can't believe in blind Faith just as a blind man can't see. Faith is always reasonable and often just on a trusted intuitive level. Intuition examined is evidence supported by reason and logic. (Thanks Socrates)

          • Tom More

            Well said Phil. Catholicism is the most brilliant light in the universe.

          • Tom More

            Hi Doug. Its your philosophical presuppositions which are doing that and they will almost certainly turn out to be (no insult intended) naïve 17th century materialism.. its normal.. and easily blown out of the water. Ed Feser's book does that.

          • Its your philosophical presuppositions which are doing that

            How did you learn what my presuppositions are?

          • Tom More

            Philosophy is grounded in the proposition that things are what they are.. or the principle of non contradiction. The west got really, really stupid after William of Ockham in the 14th century.. and profoundly stupid after David Hume's dumb empiricism. I'd highly recommend the following book from Ed Feser.. https://www.amazon.com/Last-Superstition-Refutation-New-Atheism/dp/1587314525 It will walk you through western thought and intelligence in a very well written manner. The existence of God does not have to be held in faith.. it's so easily demonstrable.. And Aristotle and Aquinas led the way. You won't be asked to swallow anything but common sense well delivered. Mortimer Adler of Columbia U was another really good and easy guy to read on this.. the most important stuff. Good luck.

          • I'd highly recommend the following book from Ed Feser..

            I got myself a copy a few months ago, and I've been working on a critique that I'll eventually post on my website. It's been slow going, but the work continues.

          • Tom More

            that's great Doug.I look forward to hearing it. I found Aristotle's framework virtually inarguable. cheers

          • Tom More

            I agree with you there Doug. Trust who? Trust what? I spent a long time questioning everything .. everything about Roman Catholicism before I would let myself surrender to her decades ago. She's the real deal, but I had to pry myself open and read quite a bit to finally let myself be happy. She's wonderful and .. very contrary to the horseship image she gets in the secular dummazz press.. she's the home of joy and love. Literally.. as of course she should be if really the body of Christ.. which is exactly what she is. Become catholic if you like to grin a lot and for good reasons. And she profoundly respects reason in all things by the way because God IS REASON. God is why the universe can be seen to be intelligibly ordered..why science took off in Catholic Europe.

          • I spent a long time questioning everything

            So did I. And I never stopped, because I never found a reason to stop questioning everything.

          • Tom More

            I'd find better philosophers to read then Doug. It's obvious. Dumb matter doesn't create free willed intelligence. And if you don't have free will.. You're not free to judge if you have free will. Reasoning rests upon necessary assumptions if one is to avoid absurdity. Materialism is frankly stupid of necessity as I just showed.

          • The Saint

            In biblical terms, humans don't have free will, never have.

          • I'd find better philosophers to read then Doug.

            You mean, philosophers that agree with you?

            When I try to distinguish between good and bad philosophers, I try to use criteria other than whether they support ideas that I already hold. Unless I presuppose that my own philosophy is already perfect, I must think it possible that a really good philosopher will manage to change my mind about something.

          • The Saint

            If you had any reason, you would not be religious.

          • The Saint

            You claim to trust, but you look both ways before crossing the street and keep your doors and windows locked Doug.

          • You claim to trust

            Where, in this discussion, did I do that?

            and keep your doors and windows locked

            I do that precisely because I don't trust everyone who lives in or travels through my neighborhood.

            I also don't believe everything I read in newspapers, because I used to be a newspaper reporter and learned how many of my coworkers were untrustworthy.

            There are plenty of people whom I trust a great deal, but there are none whom I regard as infallible. There are a few things I will not believe no matter who tells them to me, unless they can produce evidence other than their say-so.

          • The Saint

            I see, you pose it mostly as a question or doubt. As a journalist you would know that if your mother says she loves you, you check it out.

          • I see, you pose it mostly as a question or doubt.

            The only question I have is "Why should I believe it?" What constitutes a good enough answer depends among other things on the particulars of what is being asserted.

            As a journalist you would know that if your mother says she loves you, you check it out.

            I heard that often enough. My colleagues and I understood it to be hyperbole. If applied literally in the real world, there would be no newspapers because no story would ever get written.

          • The Saint

            I concur on what it constitutes a good answer based on what is being asserted, one must also consider the source; coincidentally, 'd your mother says she loves you...' is more of an axiom on the premise that a priority in journalism is accuracy, accuracy and accuracy.
            Although today journalism operates on the "if it leads it leads," concept, or sensationalism.

          • an axiom on the premise that a priority in journalism is accuracy, accuracy and accuracy.

            It's way more complicated than that. Accurate reporting can convey all kinds of falsehoods.

          • The Saint

            Reporting falsehoods would fail to be accurate. Doug

          • If I'm interviewing a creationist named Smith, and Smith claims there are no transitional fossils, I'm being accurate if I write, "Smith said, 'There are no transitional fossils'." They do exist, but if Smith denies their existence, then a report of his denial is an accurate report.

          • The Saint

            You would be accurately reporting what Smith said; however, the proper format would be: Smith said, "there are no transitional fossils." - What Smith says goes in quotations.

          • You would be accurately reporting what Smith said;

            Right. And depending on the context in which the quotation appears, I could be deceiving my readers.

          • What Smith says goes in quotations.

            And that is where I put it.

          • The Saint

            This is a cut and paste from your post: , Quote starts here --> "Smith said, 'There are no transitional fossils'." (Smith said should not be part of the quote - only what Smith said.

          • The Saint

            And speaking of accuracy in journalism (and checking sources), I'm sure you heard the story of rescuers working diligently to rescue a little girl named Frida Sofia from the earthquake rubble in Mexico.
            You might've learned that after a couple of days it was discovered that no such girl existed.
            Everyone questioned if rescuers had misled the media and why.
            Several stories were spun by media and rescuers to justify the "error."

          • The Saint

            Continuing with the 'Frida Sofia' story; Sources in Mexico tell me that the Sofia story was created to divert attention from what rescuers had been directed to 'rescue' from the rubble.
            It turns out that a powerful and influential archbishop, Norberto Rivera, who happens to own the school that was demolished by the quake, had tasked the rescuers to 'save' some relics that he had in a private chamber.
            Obviously, it would not look good that rescuers might fail to save lives of those believed to be hurried under the debris while searching for material Godspeed by the archbishop.
            Chances are the public will not hear the facts.
            I have a reliable source there.
            As you might be aware, they kill journalists in Mexico for being 'accurate.' (More than 100 killed since 2000).
            The Catholic church still exerts great power there and they don't lack the scruples to silence the press.
            If you would note from videos where rescuers were looking for Sofia, no rescue dogs were used.
            And there is a cord of rescuers around the perimeter who don't seem to be doing anything but 'guarding' the perimeter; just a couple of observations.
            BTW, there are also reports of some politicians diverting funds and supplies to private holdings.

          • I have a reliable source there.

            You say so, but I know nothing about your judgment of reliability except your postings to this forum. Those postings lead me to doubt that you are a good judge of reliability.

          • The Saint

            And this is precisely why you check out everything that is reported. You know nothing about my judgment or reliability; I could be accurate.

          • And this is precisely why you check out everything that is reported.

            I can't do that, and neither can you or anyone else. Our social lives depend on trusting certain people. If we live long enough, we might get pretty good at figuring out which people have earned our trust. Or we might not.

          • The Saint

            You can, to a certain degree, employ logical deduction based on the information you have.
            By the second day of coverage of the 'Sofia' story ( covered by Mexican and U.S. media), I became suspicious that something was not exactly true.

          • You can, to a certain degree, employ logical deduction based on the information you have.

            I know how to use Bayes' Theorem, if that's what you mean.

          • The Saint

            Sure, given the social climate in Mexico and how it affects the veracity of journalism and the dubious integrity of the catholic church you can use probabilities, or you could use plane good ol' hose sense and the power of observation to deduce certain things.

          • When science is inconsistent with horse sense, I deduce that horse sense is for horses.

          • The Saint

            Horse sense is a synonym for 'common sense;' although we find it is not so common.
            It has little to do with horses and more an idiomatic expression which indicates one has, gumption, or sagacity, or the ability to 'sniff out' fact from bunk.

          • Whatever. If it's inconsistent with science, it needs to be questioned hard. Natural selection gave us our common sense to help us survive, not to find the truth. Knowing the truth usually helps us survive, but there have been plenty of times in our history when that would not necessarily have been the case.

          • The Saint

            Science, schmscience; we are talking about journalism or reporting events not splitting the atom.

          • we are talking about journalism or reporting events not splitting the atom.

            The prevalence of that attitude within the journalistic community is a major reason for its shortcomings.

          • The Saint

            There is no prevalence of my attitude, other factors might affect shortcomings.

          • How do you know? How long did you work in the business?

          • The Saint

            I suspect there is more than skepticism that keeps you from verifying facts.

          • Suspect all you wish. When you're ready to show me some evidence, I'll take you seriously.

          • The Saint

            "You can lead a horticulture but you can't make her think."

          • You respond to a request for evidence with an insult, and you call that thinking?

          • The Saint

            "The child Frida was buried (in the rubble of the earthquake), without being born." Mexican senator Layla Sansores.
            You are resourceful, check it out.

          • You are resourceful, check it out.

            To what end? How is the Frida story relevant to anything I have said? Are you actually trying to make a point, or just sidetrack our discussion?

          • The Saint

            Try to keep up Doug.

          • Try to keep up

            Tell me where we're going.

          • The Saint

            We've been Doug, now move on to the next topic.

          • The Saint

            Yes, because you are not reporting on whether or not there are transitional fossils, you are reporting on what Smith said.
            BTW you don't put "Smith said..." in quotations, only what Smith said goes in quotes.

          • BTW you don't put "Smith said..." in quotations, only what Smith said goes in quotes.

            I was quoting myself quoting Smith. I correctly punctuated my statement as a quotation and Smith's statement as an internal quotation.

          • The Saint

            The Mexican Media and even some U.S. media reported on the rescue efforts of a Freda Sofia; the story turned out to be false but the media did not indicate that until later.

            [http://time.com/4952839/mexico-earthquake-frida-sofia-trapped-girl/]

          • The Mexican Media and even some U.S. media reported on the rescue efforts of a Freda Sofia; the story turned out to be false but the media did not indicate that until later.

            I don't see how that is inconsistent with anything I have said. You seem to be trying to change the subject.

          • The Saint

            It is not about you Doug; it is merely an observation.

          • The Saint

            I see what you are doing her, but I'm sure you get my gist that if you personally report something false as being fact, that is not accuracy.

          • I'm sure you get my gist that if you personally report something false as being fact, that is not accuracy.

            It was not apparent to me that that was the point you were trying to make.

          • Tom More

            Phil.. Christ knew his claims had to pass the test of reason. He would say things like.. I do this that you might believe. The blind faith thing is a dumb rejection of reason. It is no part of most of Christianity and is only held to be by people who are just ignorant of same and just repeat stuff. ..in blind faith. Illiteracy coupled with other character faults too often. We are reasoning creatures. Atheism is an argument against reason.. but incoherent.. There's nothing so obviously true as God... TRUTH. Aristotle and Aquinas, Thomists. are great at leading the mind to see these things for themselves.

          • The Saint

            The Christ, being a mythical character knows only what believers attribute to it Tom; what you believe was in the mind of the Christ is not what other christians believe. BTW, the quotes of the Christ are merely what some writers assumed he would say, since there are no eyewitness accounts of the Christ; for obvious reasons.

          • Jim (hillclimber)

            Just noticed this. Sincerely, that is the best question I have seen in a while.

          • Tom More

            Faith has been since the earliest days and still is very obviously a "reasoned assent of the will".

          • Faith has been since the earliest days and still is very obviously a "reasoned assent of the will".

            Obviously to whom?

            For anyone who claims to have faith, it is whatever that person means by the word. That is how language works.

          • Tom More

            can't be or communication is impossible. Defining terms is important of course.

          • can't be or communication is impossible

            When you and I talk about faith, we are communicating if we're referring to the same thing. We are not communicating if we are referring to different things.

            Defining terms is important of course.

            It is important for that reason. When you define a term, you say: This is what I am talking about.

          • The Saint

            All (christian) faith us blind.
            You have never seen any of the things your religion promises.

          • You have never seen any of the things your religion promises.

            My religion? I have no religion.

          • The Saint

            Don't be optuse, any religion, the religion you attempt to deffend.

          • Don't be optuse

            I can't read your mind. You were talking to me and you said "your religion."

          • The Saint

            You are defending the religion, why?

          • You are defending the religion

            No, I'm not. I am disagreeing with what you say about the religion.

          • Tom More

            Atheism is incoherence.

          • The Saint

            Atheism would be incoherent to those who live under a God delusion.
            How is it coherent to believe in one God, of the many out there; and to believe without evidence?

          • Tom More

            Nonsense. Pay attention.

          • Pay attention.

            I can pay attention without believing.

          • Tom More

            Horsepucky. You don't know what the words even mean and are asking us to ignore evidence and reasonable to follow you're blind Faith in unreason.

          • The Saint

            "Horsepucky" are you so delusional you consider that a rebuttal Tom?
            If you see ghosts, apparitions, or hear voices you are in need of psychiatric therapy; there is no evidence (that you believe is not evidence), and if you had any reason (sanity), you would not suffer from the God delusion.
            This is an irrefutable fact Tom: You cannot even prove to yourself that your god is real, or reliable; try it.

          • The Saint

            I know 'horsepucky' and it is not a rebuttal, try again Tom.

          • Tom More

            God in the west is Being. We are finite being. We are grounded in God. It's why things are good, true and beautiful. The little monkey running around in Saint's head scratching himself .. is not what we're talking about.. Like that colossal dummy Dawkins he suffers from what Peters called metaphysical univocity. The big stupid since people confused Newtonian physics with philosophy of science. Result.. land of dummies. That includes a lot of religious people too of course, but they have the hope of development. Atheism is necessarily too dumb even for words.. and I mean that exactly.

          • Tom More

            Hi Phil. Aristotle's profound understanding of what "change" is led to the traditional excellent proofs for the existence of God. https://youtu.be/BAIHs5TJRqQ

          • Lazarus

            Quia putabant se magis esse

          • The Saint

            The religious, of any religion are normally exposed to religion at home. Everyone is born an atheist but, depending on the culture, will be indoctrinated into the religion traditionally practiced by their culture. A person born in the middle East will most likely be indoctrinated into Islam, in Asia, most likely Buddhism, in the west, any of the Christian sects and so forth.

          • Tom More

            Atheism unavoidably is just radical unintelligence as has been known since Aristotle implicitly.

          • "Atheism unavoidably is just radical unintelligence as has been known since Aristotle implicitly."

            If you want to see what radical unintelligence is, submit copies of all the comments you've made to an elementary school English teacher for grading.

          • Tom More

            I'll stick to Aristotle, but thanks for confirming my point.

          • Negative prefixes only serve as being the opposite of an affirmative statement. Affirmative has nothing to with right/wrong or good/bad. Their meaning is solely contingent on the word they modify.
            Here's a few examples off the top of my head: unburden, impenetrable, nonconformist, uneventful, impartial, nonporous, intangible, anti-establishment, anti-venom and unrestrained.
            By your logic, these words are all negative. The anti-venom saved my life. Facing an uneventful night, she slept soundly. My jacket is nonporous so I stayed dry in the rain etc. etc. etc.
            Instead of relying on whatever internal logic you seem to be pulling this stuff from, take a minute and Google "negative prefix" and then post whatever info you find that says I'm wrong.

          • The Saint

            Then there are the unintelligent who through life with an unopened mind.

          • Tom More

            Atheists have the lowest belief transmission rate to their children. And I would argue that our common (80%) human experience includes a natural apprehension of the supernatural, as we know that no natural power creates natural powers or something out of nothing. Philosophy examines such matters, often profitably, but the essential intuition or intellectual apprehension or experience is pretty universal. The idea that persons are the end not even accidental effect of mindless matter in motion is again, contrary to common experience. We don't get the greater from the lesser, the higher from the lower. If persons.. us.. are the effects.. Personhood must somehow be in the cause. If you hit a table with a hammer you get a hammer mark. The rise towards complexity and consciousness is a singularity in our universe of astonishing unlikelihood. Some variety of theism is perhaps actually unavoidable. It doesn't have to be taught. It may actually be impossible to be an atheist on even the speculative level. God knows.

          • The Saint

            Which 'god' knows Tom? Some use the word as if it were a proper noun; it is not. The word 'god' is a title given to any of the many deities created by the primitive, superstitious minds. I.e. Mars is the 'god' of war, Thor is the 'god' of thunder, etc.
            The gods have the characteristics and attributes of the society which create them.
            In human history it appears humans invariably have an intrinsic need to create god's, some are more sophisticated and complex than others, but invariably all gods have have human traits based on the culture.

          • Tom More

            I don't find you very honest Saint. One really funny thing I find about the most gullible people.. atheists.. is that they think Thor is a less intelligent proposal than mindless matter in purposeless, meaningless motion .. to explain reality. It is most obvious that the Greeks were a hell of a lot closer to the truth. For if you could be right.. which you can't be for reasons that can become clear to you.. then your "thinking" is just the latest mindless , purposeless meaningless quantum event of no possible significance. It is you who are 'creating" gods amigo..and the really dull one you've created here is just your own profound confusion and unintelligence which you manifest when you attempt to deal with the most important questions.

          • The Saint

            So which 'god' was that Tom?

          • The Saint

            Even the most primitive (an isolated tribe in the Amazon), have religious beliefs, not your conventional beliefs but this is precisely how religions (theism), originates, in the primitive mind.
            If one toys with semantics, one could say christians are atheists to the god's of primitive tribes.

          • The Saint

            Except that an isolated tribes likely to have their own religion and god(s), no matter how primitive Frank; in fact, all religions have primitive roots.
            An atheist is more aptly to be someone who refuses to suspend all rational, cognitive thought to submit to a primitive superstition (religion).

          • The Saint

            Whatever term is used can be used to describe the so-called christians because they 'refuse' to believe in Thor, Krishna, Osiris, et al.

          • Tom More

            Its a lack. It's an absence of something that should be there in a natural person. It is of course often a refusal.. perhaps always. .. but refusal or no it can only be the absence of something that should be and is therefor an ontological evil, culpable or otherwise. God knows.

          • G'day Tom ! I see you've resurrected, come back shooting from the hip. Sorry to disappoint you, but I am not going to reopen the dialogue of the deaf I concluded with "That's All, Folks !" Just one thought : like Richard Dawkings, I am an aleprechaunist. I REFUSE to believe in these Irish fairies. Such belief is not something I LACK. I just consider it too silly to believe. Hey, Tom, why don't you read some of the more recent of my 600 posts on blindfaithblindfolly.wordpress.com ? "Questions for a Kamikaze" would open up some new thinking for you.

        • The Saint

          I concur Doug; based on thst fefinition, a Christian believer is an atheist because they refuse to believe in say, Krishna, Rah, ect.

      • Tom More

        With atheism the idea of evidence itself becomes unintelligible. Atheism IS unintelligence. Its literally too stupid for words. It will take quite a bright fellow to figure out why what I just wrote is unavoidably true. I don't think I've heard of a would be atheist (one can't be an atheist obviously) who can do it. But its unavoidable.

        • Dear Mr More : Don't expect any bright fellow, a would-be atheist or not, to figure out why what you wrote is unavoidably true. By "unavoidable", one has to assume that you mean "self-evident", in short, an indisputable axiom such as 2+2 = 4. "Atheism IS unintelligence" may be evident to you, dear fellow, but not to millions of others. Atheism, you say, is "literally too stupid for words". But I'm sure, given your intelligence, that with a little effort you could come up with ... evidence of your gratuitous assertion. Stick and stones, my friend, sticks and stones.

          2017-08-27 23:22 GMT+02:00 Disqus :

    • Alexander Hamilton

      So your definition of atheism doesn't require any sort of justification? If that is so what reason do you have to suppose it is true? Only claims and beliefs can be true or false. Therefore your definition essentially has no content and exists in a vacuum apart from evidence. Also, your Elvis illustration is intriguing because you'd have positive reasons for not believing in him being alive because you have good reason to believe he is dead. This is a belief/claim! To say Elvis isn't alive requires some level of justification - resulting in a level of confidence that would allow you to chose not to engage the person making the claim - but then only beliefs can be justified... This definition you've given is just atheist dishonesty.

      • Claiming to be an atheist is not a declaration of truth or knowledge. It's merely stating that "I don't believe that god exists." I'm not saying I know for a fact god does not exist, I'm stating I don't believe he does. Maybe my Elvis analogy was flawed because he was an actual person but if you replace Elvis with Allah, Mohammed, Ra, Thor, whatever, it's the same thing. I don't have to prove they aren't real to say I don't believe in them. By your logic, I could make any claim like invisible cows living on the dark side of the moon and if you didn't believe it, you would need to disprove it. That's not how it works. I don't believe the earth is flat, I don't believe martians have visited earth, I don't believe 9/11 was an inside job. I don't need to provide evidence for my lack of belief of those things. I'm just declining to believe something another person has posited.

        • Tom More

          This captures somewhat my view of the religion like aspect of atheism. It's an act of the will. A preference.

      • So your definition of atheism doesn't require any sort of justification?

        Definitions are justified by usage. Most people who claim to be atheists use the word "atheism" to mean "lack of belief in any god."

      • Michael Murray

        If you look at Mirriam-Webster and Oxford dictionary websites they include both possibilities. An atheist could be someone who lacks a belief in gods or could be someone who disbelieves in gods.

        Instead of arguing about semantics if you want to know if atheists have a reason for their lack of belief in gods or perhaps their disbelief in gods and what those reasons are then why not just ask ?

        • Alexander Hamilton

          Aren't definitions supposed to add clarity to the meaning of a word? The definition that atheism is "a lack of belief" would also mean that rocks, cats, teapots and trees are atheists as they lack belief in God. I'd say semantics is important in this regard as this popular definition is simply irrational and adds credence to the nonsensical belief that atheism requires no justification.

          • Michael Murray

            Well I think we can discard rocks, teapots and trees as not capable of holding a belief so the definition does not apply. Cats of course think they are God.

          • Alexander Hamilton

            So should the definition of Atheism be amended to: "The lack of belief in God(s) by creatures that have the ability to form beliefs"?... seems like a bit of a non-sequitur to me. Isn't atheism not supposed to be a belief, but a lack of belief?

            I concede the cat remark though!

          • Michael Murray

            Or you could stick with the definition of atheist I guess where the Oxford Dictionary covers it by putting in "person"

            A person who disbelieves or lacks belief in the existence of God or gods.

            Of course there is always the spectrum of theistic probabilities

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spectrum_of_theistic_probability

          • So should the definition of Atheism be amended to: "The lack of belief in God(s) by creatures that have the ability to form beliefs"?

            Dictionary editors apparently think that their readers will assume a statement about belief is simply irrelevant to any entity incapable of having beliefs.

          • The Saint

            More aptly, an atheist is one who refuses to suspend all rational, cognitive thought to believe in any of the many gods out there. There is one predominant narcissistic group who assumes "the world hates" them if any one does not believe in their god.

          • The Saint

            You nailed it Michael.

          • Aren't definitions supposed to add clarity to the meaning of a word?

            Not exactly. They're just supposed to state what people mean when they use the word. That is why so many words have several definitions in any good dictionary: different people mean different things, or the same people may mean different things in different contexts. Dictionary editors are not in the business of saying "This is what the word is supposed to mean."

      • The Saint

        There is reasonable 'belief,' and there is 'unreasonable' belief; it is unreasonable to believe someone has seen Elvis since his death, it is also unreasonable to believe in any god without actual proof or evidence, belief by itself is not proof.

    • Tom More

      Atheism is just radical unintelligence. Often with a strong component of will involved due to prior investments.

  • Jackm Cm

    Eternity where will you spend eternity? Death is a reality we all must face and the question you need to ask yourself is: Where am I going when I die? The bible says that when we die we either go to HEAVEN OR HELL. To get to heaven on our own merits we must be perfect. However no one is perfect. In fact, we have all sinned against God. We naturally do which is wrong: we lie, steal, lust , hate,... disrespect God, get drunk etc. Because God is good judge he must punish sin and the way he punish sin and the way God will punish us for our sins by sending us to hell for eternity. However God provided the way for you to have your sins forgiven and enter heaven when you die. Jesus Christ came to earth to die on the cross in the place of sinners and 3 days later He rose again, defeating sin and death. To be forgiven of all your sins, you must repent (turn from and forsake your sins) and trust in JESUS death and resurrection as the only means by which all your sins can be forgiven. Please do that today

    • Choppa200

      Awesome do you have any proof for any of your assumptions?

    • Death is a reality we all must face and the question you need to ask yourself is: Where am I going when I die?

      If someone tells me they know the answer to that question, why should I believe them?

      The bible says that when we die we either go to HEAVEN OR HELL.

      Why should I believe whoever wrote the Bible?

      • The Saint

        Actually, the bible says no such thing Doug, but you should believe the 'truth' as presented by any of the thousands of sects which claim to have it.

        • Actually, the bible says no such thing Doug

          Actually, given all its inconsistencies, it seems to say whatever believers (and a bunch of nonbelievers as well) want it to say. I was just asking one believer, for the sake of argument, why I should believe anything it says.

          • The Saint

            Precisely Doug. It has been proven that among the religious, christians are the most ignorant about their religion; so when they don't know something they conjure up conjecture based on their own self-delusion.

            This is what the bible says about the dead:

            “4. For as long as a person is linked with the living, there is hope — better to be a living dog than a dead lion! 5. For the living know that they will die,
            but the dead know nothing; there is no longer any reward for them, because all memory of them is lost. 6. What they loved, what they hated and what they envied all disappeared long ago, and they
            no longer have a share in anything done under the sun.” Ecclesiastes 9: 4 – 6
            The essence of this is that the 'dead know nothing,' yet some religions teach praying to them.

          • It has been proven that among the religious, christians are the most ignorant about their religion;

            Knowledge is often useless without critical thinking. I have found that in that respect, there is scant difference between the religious and the nonreligious. Your proof-texting skills seem to be equal to those of the people you hate.

          • The Saint

            By presenting one truism then being stumped by typos you fail to demonstrate 'critical thinking' Doug.
            And you make a false assumption, I hate no people; the people you imply I hate, hate me for pointing out their fantasies.

          • the people you imply I hate, hate me for pointing out their fantasies.

            Do you think it possible for anyone to disagree with you without hating you?

          • The Saint

            Do you think it is possible to disagree with people without hating them, is a better question dough, why do you hate me?

          • why do you hate me?

            Other than my disagreeing with you, what makes you think I do?

          • The Saint

            Precisely, you are catching on Doug.

          • Alexandra

            (You said the Church exploits the poor. I couldn't find the thread, so I respond here.)

            Anyone who exploits the poor, commits a serious sin and places their soul in danger. Anyone who uses the Church in any way for this purpose, compounds this sin and is committing evil.

            The Church teachings on the poor is clear -we are to love the poor; it is part of the works of mercy, and a form of justice. We are called to love all our brothers and sisters; but, there is a preferential option for the poor, in part because of their extraordinary need and vulnerability.

            From the catechism:

            VI. Love For the Poor

            2444 "The Church's love for the poor . . . is a part of her constant tradition." This love is inspired by the Gospel of the Beatitudes, of the poverty of Jesus, and of his concern for the poor. ...

            2446 St. John Chrysostom vigorously recalls this: "Not to enable the poor to share in our goods is to steal from them and deprive them of life. The goods we possess are not ours, but theirs." ...

            When we attend to the needs of those in want, we give them what is theirs, not ours. More than performing works of mercy, we are paying a debt of justice.

            Therefore, there is a special focus by the Church on the works of mercy:

            2447 The works of mercy are charitable actions by which we come to the aid of our neighbor in his spiritual and bodily necessities. Instructing, advising, consoling, comforting are spiritual works of mercy, as are forgiving and bearing wrongs patiently. The corporal works of mercy consist especially in feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and imprisoned, and burying the dead. Among all these, giving alms to the poor is one of the chief witnesses to fraternal charity: it is also a work of justice pleasing to God:

            "He who has two coats, let him share with him who has none and he who has food must do likewise. But give for alms those things which are within; and behold, everything is clean for you. If a brother or sister is ill-clad and in lack of daily food, and one of you says to them, "Go in peace, be warmed and filled," without giving them the things needed for the body, what does it profit? "

            There are many examples of Catholics, across the generations, showing extraordinary virtue in their love of the poor, like St. Vincent De Paul, St. John Bosco, and Dorothy Day. They have generously shared their extra coats.

          • The Saint

            You are correct Alex, anyone who exploits the poor commits a sin; the church teachings and the church actions are incongruous.

          • Alexandra

            Who exactly do you mean is being incongruous, and how?

            If you mean someone who's sinning (against the poor), obviously they are violating the Church's teachings.

            And then there are the many Catholics who are dedicated to helping the poor. So you can't mean them. Yet they are certainly a part of the Church.

          • The Saint

            Don't play dumb Alex, the church as a whole is a nefarious organization made up of gluttonous, greedy, deviate, corrupt men. Every Catholic, by their silence and contributions is complicit in the sins (crimes) of the church.
            There are atheists, Muslims, Buddhists, Rastapastarians, etc., who help the poor. The catholic church does more harm than good.
            Where have you heard that a fountain cannot bring forth both fresh and sour water at the same time?

          • Alexandra

            ...the church as a whole is ...made up of gluttonous, greedy, deviate, corrupt men.

            Yes. That's why the Church has been called a hospital for sinners.

            The Church is made up of adulterers and addicts too. Men and women. Name a sin- you'll find it among the church members.
            It is part of the frailty of being human. Who can say they are without sin? Who has not struggled to be a better person, and fallen short?

            Through the Church, what you also find among these very people, these same sinners-- prayer, virtue, loving kindness, forgiveness, interior conversion, wisdom, and even holiness and heroism.

            The Church is a fount of grace and redemption. It breathes life into the soul. And it sustains us, as we strive to become the good people we are meant to be. So despite our very human imperfections and failings, the life of faith brings real hope.

          • The Saint

            The (catholic) church is a nest adulterers, sexual deviates, gluttonous and greedy men; and we are talking about the clergy. Going to the church to be healed from sin is like going to a bald headed man for a hair growth solution Alex.

          • Alexandra

            Did you mean to say priests instead of men, or are you now changing the subject?

            Edited.

          • The Saint

            "The clergy" are men; still on subject.

          • Alexandra

            Ok. sure. I'd let my priest know that you think he's exploiting the poor, but he's busy making sandwiches for the homeless right now. ;)

            I just came across this quote, and found it apt towards this discussion:

            "A Catholic may sin and sin as badly as anyone else, but no genuine Catholic ever denies he is a sinner. A Catholic wants his sins forgiven – not excused or sublimated." -Archbishop Sheen

          • The Saint

            Catholics, like most religious, live in deludion; no god can defeat karma.
            I'm a card- carrying atheist, I make make sandwiches for the homeless.
            Unless his righteousness exceeds mine, he is scum.

          • Alexandra

            You make sandwiches for the homeless. That's nice. What kind of sandwiches?

          • The Saint

            Nice sandwiches, ham, chicken, turkey, cheese, pb&j
            Btw, I carry a cooler in the car to pass out to people begging in the streets.

          • Alexandra

            The cooler is such a great idea.
            At church, in addition to food, we find that socks are a popularly requested item too. So we collect those and blankets for them.

            Thank you for the conversation, because it has been a reminder to me to appreciate priests, and all that they do. :)

            Be well. Best wishes for your sandwich work.

          • The Saint

            Yes priests do a lot of good when they ate not sexually abusing children or women and exploiting the poor (hint, I was a Catholic for many years).

          • The Saint

            Thanks for your well wishes, be well and peace. Alex

          • The Saint

            The priest feeds the homeless from money he exploits from the poor, he does not produce a viable product to generate revenues.

            I came across this quote and found it apt towards this discussion:

            “Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then He is
            not omnipotent. Is He able, but not willing? Then He is malevolent. Is He both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil? Is He neither able nor willing? Then
            why call Him God?” Epicurus
            -- If you attempt to explain this by saying evil comes from man, that makes the god weaker than man.

          • The Saint

            Hospitals can heal the sick, the church can't heal sinners, it only exploits them.

          • I hate no people

            You remind me of people I knew back in the early 1960s who liked to say, "I don't hate n***ers, I just think they stay in their place."

          • The Saint

            You remind me of people back in the 60s who liked to say " some of my friends are n***ers." See how this works Doug?

          • I have made no claim to have any friends. You have made a claim of hating nobody. See how that works?

          • The Saint

            Frankly you disappoint me Doug, at a glance I thought you had a greater intellect and effective debate skills, I was mistaken on both counts.

    • The Saint

      The bible says no such thing, read Ecclesiastes 9:5 (the dead know nothing).
      Your selective reading of the text which saves you from death is mere sel-delusion based on a false premise; the existence of a god.
      BTW, ponder this: how will you spend eternity?
      You plan vacations, possibly education a career or a business and you endeavor to fulfil your plans with productive activities. What activities would you have in heaven? Worshiping a narcissistic god might get get old after the first billion years. The fact is you have no clue.
      Think for gawzake think...
      And BTW, you don't actually trust Jesus or you would be doing greater works than him, this us per Jesus. Jackm

  • Jacob Heimer

    since u have a phd and brag about it try researching what u spread around. possibly learn the definition of your topic instead of looking like a fool for the rest of history.

  • MariusDejess

    I like to talk to an atheist here, if you are one, please tell me, in just say 50 words or less, How do you describe yourself as an atheist.

    For example, in my case I am a theist and I describe myself as "a person who knows for certain that God exists, in concept as first and foremost the creator of everything with a beginning."

    The words within the " " make up 22 in number; in your case, you can just tell me as I tell you that I am a theist, in just 50 words or less, like this: "a person who knows for certain that God does not exist, etc."

    You get the idea?

    • Caravelle

      The "basic definition" I believe Jacob Heimer refers to is "someone who lacks a belief in (a) God(s)".

      This is different from "someone who believes there isn't (a) God(s)", though both can be a meaning of the sentence "doesn't believe in God".

      To expand on the difference between "not [believing something exists]" and "believing [something doesn't exist]"; I think of the difference as being about our mental image of how the world is. Is it that it just doesn't contain the thing - it could, but doesn't? Or is it that it is incompatible with the thing?

      To illustrate, say you asked me if I have a belief that there are fluorescent purple frogs in the Amazon, I might say I don't: I've never heard of such frogs, I don't know that "fluorescent purple" is a color that frogs can be. When I list all the animals in the Amazon I can think of, "fluorescent purple frogs" aren't on the list. But it's not like I believe there aren't purple fluorescent frogs in the Amazon either; I don't know everything that's in the Amazon so I expect there to exist plenty of animals I don't currently know about, and purple fluorescent frogs could absolutely be one of them. If I was told that some actually exist it I'd be like "oh, okay, cool"; it wouldn't change my view of the world other than adding "there are purple fluorescent frogs in the Amazon" to it.

      On the other hand if you asked the same thing of purple fluorescent kangaroos, there not only does my image of the world not contain purple fluorescent kangaroos in the Amazon, but everything I know about mammals, where kangaroos are found, what kind of animals tend to be colors like purple or fluorescent, etc, tells me that there aren't purple kangaroos in the Amazon. So in that case, I don't only "not [believe there are PFKs in the Amazon]", I also "believe [there are no PFKs in the Amazon]"; my view of the world doesn't just not contain them, it can't contain them as it currently is. If told that such creatures existed there I would be completely flabbergasted, probably find it hard to believe at first, and if all evidence pointed it to be true then at the end of the process of learning this new fact my image of the world would have changed significantly; not only would it now include purple fluorescent kangaroos in the Amazon but it would also say different things about the native range of kangaroos, the processes by which animals can be purple and fluorescent, the kinds of animals found in the Amazon, etc.

      Note that this isn't necessarily an either/or thing; there is probably a continuum of just how much of your worldview a given fact would change if you found out it were true, which can be a proxy for how certain you are that the given fact isn't true, and where people set the boundary between "I lack a belief in X" and "I believe X isn't true" may differ from person to person. And that's not even getting into the shades of certainty, and how confident a person typically is of X before they'll use the word "belief", let alone "certainty", about it. (the use of the word is even context-dependent - if you say "I believe God exists" you're typically describing a much greater level of certainty than when you say "I believe I left the keys in the left drawer").

      • The Void

        There are actual words that would be useful in talking about theism and atheism that, for some reason, most folks seem unfamiliar with. Gnostic/Agnostic and Theist/Atheist. Gnostic vs Agnostic is a position on certainty or uncertainty. Theist vs Atheist is a position on belief. I think most religious folks assume atheists are of the Gnostic type, when the truth is most atheists are Agnostic. An Agnostic Atheist doesn't pretend to know whether or not a thing exists, but chooses not to believe. That's where I am. I don't believe in Angels, UFOs, Bigfoot, Unicorns, Dragons or whatever god or gods you prefer to send your prayers and entreaties to. I don't need to claim with certainty that that UFOs don't exist to not believe in them and am open to their proof, just as I am with all other such extra-ordinary claims.

        • Caravelle

          The problem with that division is that it makes it look like "Gnostic" and "Agnostic" are two different groups of people, but they aren't. I've never seen or heard of a "Gnostic Atheist", someone who presented their view that way - "I know with 100% certainty God doesn't exist". As a philosophical statement, it seems self-evident to me that anybody who's thought about it a bit, or has seen The Matrix, would not talk about "knowing" anything 100%.

          The problem there is that by that naïve understanding of the word "know" (where it means "to believe something that is true") it is impossible to know anything. It's not a contradictory word per se, just one that can never, ever be used. And yet it is a basic word of the English language, and all other languages I know of, so what gives?

          The way the word "know" is *actually* used is to mean: "to believe something with enough confidence that one rounds it up to 100% certainty for the purposes of the discussion". The level of certainty it points to is context-dependent, like for belief in my comment you're replying to - for example I might say "I know where my keys are" but "I don't know that the sun will rise tomorrow"; it seems paradoxical because one would think a lot of the time one would be much less certain of where one's keys are than that the sun would rise the next day. Put another way, if you said both sentences every evening over a few years you'd end up wrong on the first a lot more often than on the second. But those two sentences are used in different contexts: the first in day-to-day life, the other in philosophical or scientific discussions that afford much less uncertainty and where we avoid this "rounding up".

          This makes the difference between "Gnostic" and "Agnostic" not a qualitative one, but a quantitative one: how confident someone is that there is or isn't a God.

          That's why I think the distinction "people who don't believe there is a God" and "people who believe there isn't a God" is more useful; it's also a quantitative distinction hiding behind a qualitative difference in the description, but it has the merit that both descriptions have people who self-identify that way.

    • The Saint

      Except that you don't 'know' a god exists, you merely believe or hope one exists Markus.
      As an atheist, I know no God, of the many created by the primitive, superstitious mind, exists, not one.

    • I'm an atheist because I lack a belief in deities.

  • Jackm Cm

    Eternity where will you spend eternity? Death is a reality we all must face and the question you need to ask yourself is: Where am I going when I die? The bible says that when we die we either go to HEAVEN OR HELL. To get to heaven on our own merits we must be perfect. However no one is perfect. In fact, we have all sinned against God. We naturally do which is wrong: we lie, steal, lust , hate,... disrespect God, get drunk etc. Because God is good judge he must punish sin and the way he punish sin and the way God will punish us for our sins by sending us to hell for eternity. However God provided the way for you to have your sins forgiven and enter heaven when you die. Jesus Christ came to earth to die on the cross in the place of sinners and 3 days later He rose again, defeating sin and death. To be forgiven of all your sins, you must repent (turn from and forsake your sins) and trust in JESUS death and resurrection as the only means by which all your sins can be forgiven. Please do that today

    • Eternity where will you spend eternity?

      Nowhere. I won't exist after I die.

      The bible says that when we die we either go to HEAVEN OR HELL.

      The Bible was written by men whom I have no reason to trust.

      • The Saint

        I concur with your conclusion Doug.
        This brings to mind a question for those who believe they will spend eternity in heaven:
        How will you spend eternity in heaven? Worshipping a narcissistic god might get old by the first few billion years.
        One plans vacations, education goals, jobs, career, etc. But has anyone actually planned their activities for eternity?

    • Eternity, where will you spend eternity?... I have a better question for you. What will you do for all eternity? I mean think about it. Who really wants to live forever? Don't you think you would get bored after a few hundred years? What about a thousand years? Still think you would find something new to do after a million years? How about a billion years? Because from what I hear, eternity is kind of a long time. Just say'n.

  • Jackm Cm

    that is proven by aJesus you do not understand as you are blind and you need to born again,

    • The Saint

      A mythical character can't prove anything; Jesus can't save you anymore than Quetzacoatl (the god of the Aztecs), can.

  • Mitch_Haelan

    Reasonably well written article, except for the first paragraph. Neither the argument from contingency nor Pascal's wager have ever been good arguments, and have been debunked so many times that the mere mention of them makes most atheists roll their eyes with both exasperation and contempt.

  • Sydney Lone

    the problem with this obvious...at least to me, lol

    right now, somewhere living up north, could there be a man dressed in a santa outfit, subjectively calling himself santa?..yes, thats possible.(maybe he loves kids)

    could it not also be possible that this man works as a trade making toys for kids?..yes, thats possible to

    could this man live to make kids happy by his trade? yes thats possible too.

    could this man also have a plane that he hooks a sled to on the bottom to make it look like hes flying a sled?..sure thats possible.

    and could this man every christmas, fly his plane with sled attached and deliver his hand made toys to kids???

    sure, if thats his thing.

    the point is, subjective, some guy calls himself santa for fun, dresses up, makes toys as a trade, flys a plane with a sled on the bottom, that plane loaded with his own toys....could deliver then where ever he likes and there is NOTHING IMPOSSIBLE ABOUT THAT HAPPENING!!!

    the term santa claus is subjective...a man could call himself that

    unicorns?...well guess what? they found a Siberian unicorn (national geographic reported it)

    the point is...NEVER SAY NEVER AGAIN (that was a movie wasnt it?) they have found small skeletons of what they used to think was impossible, of diminutive humans, future data may reveal even smaller ones....

    so i say keep the minds open....

    just when you apply this reasoning of whats possible when the track records show that what we thought was impossible, became possible.

    flight, space travel, go to moon, lasers, computers, etc...al viewed through the lens of ancient man, they would say such things then, WERE IMPOSSIBLE!!!!!

    but low and behold, they were NOT.

    i think this all reeks of biologos site....kissing behind to create a dialogue between atheists and US...

    selling out a firm position to kiss up and create common ground....not a smart move dude!!!

    .