As Long As There’s Fear, We Aren’t Ready for Atheism: A Conversation with Theologian and Ex-Priest Daniel Maguire

fear
Christianity Without God: Moving beyond the Dogmas and Retrieving the Epic Moral Narrative Book Cover Christianity Without God: Moving beyond the Dogmas and Retrieving the Epic Moral Narrative
Daniel C. Maguire
SUNY Press
October 1, 2014

Professor Daniel C. Maguire’s latest book, Christianity Without God: Moving beyond the Dogmas and Retrieving the Epic Moral Narrative, is an ambitious project that functions as both a primer on the logical and ethical failures of theism and as a reimaging of the biblical narrative to meet the great moral challenges of our day. As a theologian and former priest who teaches ethics at Marquette University, a Jesuit school, Maguire fills a critical gap in a body of atheist literature that has frequently demonstrated its authors’ limited understanding of religious texts.

Armed with a rigorous academic background in religion and the attendant understanding of the gravity of the God-loss, Maguire’s theological and pastoral training sets him apart from fellow atheists. By recognizing the poetic and ethical value of biblical stories in a more nuanced way than those scholars who offer only perfunctory nods to the Bible’s poetry, Maguire’s book offers a gentler welcome to atheism than its more dismissive predecessors. RD spoke with Maguire by phone about his latest book and the future of belief.

What was the impetus for undertaking this after a long career as a priest and theologian who was once a believer?

I started out as the absolute true believer. I believed everything the Vatican taught. One of the things that helped me was working in a parish. I started to meet real people and to discover that some of the things I had just gotten good grades on were dead wrong.

When you do realize that something is wrong in a system that you thought was airtight, your first impulse is to say, “Well that was the only thing wrong. They were wrong on birth control, but the rest of the structure is fine. God, Jesus, everything else is fine.”

But you’ve been shaken at the foundations and you’re more open to finding more problems in the system. So it was a progressive thing that moved me toward atheism. I finally decided with this book to spell it out in detail.

Do you see this as a political position? I never really identified political belief with real theological commitments.

I think the main passion of the conservative mind is fear and there’s no greater fear than that the universe is without meaning. That chaos is our destiny. So I think the God concept is very consoling.

In the book you call the tendency to personify God, to make God one of us, “an act of despair.” That recognition of human grief and the epilogue on the God-loss read to me as very pastoral.

A theologian who read this book—very theistic—once she read the manuscript, she said, “You have to say something to us who hate giving up God.” And she said, “I love waking up in the morning and seeing the sun shine and the sky blue and the birds in flight and saying, ‘Thank you God,’ and you’re taking that away from me.”

You write theism promises simplicity and security and delivers neither,” but you do refer to a world that was “not yet ready for atheism.” Do you believe the world is now ready for atheism?

As long as there is fear, it will never be fully ready. Fear makes you reach for a supernatural insurance policy. But yeah, I think so. As I was dealing with Catholics who were slowly liberalizing, the most common thing I would hear after giving a talk is, “I’ve always felt that.” That’s a great word “felt.” It was there. It was nibbling at them. I’m beginning to have that same reaction here about the God question. People are uneasy in their sense of God.

Do you have a response to those who would respond, “I just feel that God exists”?

When I gave my first talk on this book [I said], “I am going to say things that are going to cause you pain. And disappoint you.” Yet at the same time, I have never written to please people, I pursue the truth. I think people appreciate that. The two nuns that were there probably went home and prayed for me, but they also came and had champagne with me. The bond was not broken. That’s a good sign of maturity in the culture.

You have a lot of historical information and theological background in this book that religion students would already know. So was this for a more mainstream audience?

I wrote it because I was annoyed with some writers because I knew they knew better. I said, “There’s bad faith here.” These people are supplying the data but they go along with the lie. But I was also writing it for a number of people having these doubts who needed some data. What I’m saying isn’t brand new, but it’s saying, “Come on folks, let’s be honest about this.” 

You lead the moral vision of the book with a challenge to protect the environment. Was that intentional?

I think that it opens people to the things that disturb them theologically. There is a growing sense that the wrecking of the Earth is progressing and we’re past tipping points. That point allows them to forgive my non-theism.

Do you believe there’s a future for the idea (or identification) of being culturally but not theologically Christian? 

Definitely. I grew up in a household with four sons and three of us became priests. That’s part of my story and its still part of my thinking. My moral creed for all Christians does not require belief in a god; there’s a whole cultural development that’s very dependent on Judaism and it’s something that I treasure. Many of my sensitivities are still rooted in that tradition.

This is a book called “Christianity Without God” but instead of the Gospels, you use the story of the Exodus to form your great, more moral project.

What attracted me from the Exodus to the New Testament was the conviction that the given is not necessarily permanent. We can transcend it. In the vision of Isaiah there is a new heaven and a new earth, a new possibility, and a new testament. Transform everything in your thinking. Level every mountain, raise every valley. The great heresy of all time is, “There is no alternative.” The hell there isn’t! There are alternatives all over the place. That is what is at the heart of the epic biblical moral narrative.

You call that thinking at one point “the suicide of small expectations.” Do you think we live in a culture that is overly forgiving of our ethical laziness?

Augustine said we have “the seeds of virtue” but it’s very undeveloped and that’s where ethics have to move in. That’s a huge problem. The danger is, that in responding to crisis, we stop working on it and think, “The status quo is the status quo.” And that’s why the species is headed for a short tenure.

Do you think the species is headed for a short tenure? You do leave that sort of ambiguous in the book.

This species has it in it to self-destruct. It also has it in it to make a new earth, to turn things around. The dream is the only thing we have; if these dreams grip us then policies will flow from that. The other thing about the Bible is that it has great hopes. You’re a little less than the angels, then it says you are hopeless and beyond redemption. Parodox is often the mark of truth: we are a downer species that is egotistical and short-sighted. On the other side, we have potential for, to use a funny word, the divine.

  • Jim Reed

    This species has it in it to self-destruct. Well now it seems we also have it in us to possibly leave earth, and establish ourselves off the earth, and even go to Mars. If we can go to Mars, then we can spread across the solar system, and live in a thousand places off the earth. Christianity is a religion about life and death here on earth. Once we are off the earth, Christianity no longer applies, and we can mature beyond doomsday religions.

  • Whiskyjack

    I think you underestimate the plasticity of religion and its capacity to absorb contrary evidence. The utterances of the Bible are sufficiently vague, and I have no doubt that Christian missionaries will follow to whatever extraplanetary colonies that are settled, reinterpreting things to apply to other planets.

  • Jim Reed

    I think it will be more like Mormons going door to door. Eventually people learn to ignore them.

  • Jim Reed

    AS LONG AS THERE’S FEAR, WE AREN’T READY FOR ATHEISM

    That’s not how the atheism question is decided. As long as atheism is small enough and weak enough it can be pretty effectively silenced, one way or another. Once atheism is strong enough that it can no longer be silenced, then ready or not, here it comes.

  • Laurence Charles Ringo

    Hmm…One thing you (And this ex-priest, I’ve already forgotten his name.) can be sure of, Jim Reed: atheism will NEVER silence Jesus the Christ.

  • DKeane123

    “The great heresy of all time is, “There is no alternative.” ” – love this.

    “These people are supplying the data but they go along with the lie.” – I guess Ill have to read the book to find out a bit more about this.

  • Jim Reed

    And by Jesus I guess you mean the church.

  • GeniusPhx

    there is a process of getting to atheism from belief. It can take years. not just the intellectual fact finding, but going through the stages of grief over and over, being angry that ppl have lied to you your whole life, and the final stage; accepting that what you have leaned is the truth, that there is no god. Letting go of the crutch is the final step, and the hardest one.

    BTW seeing ‘god’ in a sunset is what our founders did. they saw ‘nature’s god’, the deist god, not the christian god. they didn’t believe anything they couldn’t see or experience first hand. no supernatural god for them.

  • Jim Reed

    Letting go of the crutch is the final step, and the hardest one.

    It is a little easier if you are reading RD.

  • Rmj

    He lost me the moment he said he thought his “system of thought,” i.e., his idea of Christianity, was “air-tight.”

    Now he wants another air-tight system of thought.

    Good luck with that. Sounds more like just another person who wants a God who can fit his theology (i.e., his thinking) and so fit in his pocket. Even “the idea that the God concept is very consoling” is on the cutting edge: of the 19th century.

    Feh.

  • Laurence Charles Ringo

    Uh…No.I said what I meant, no need to guess. But sure, let’s say that. I’ve been to a few places in my day, and its been my experience that every place I’ve been, God has always had a person, persons et.al. (Something Gideon found out in the Book of Judges.).As our Saviour said, …”Where two or three are gathered in My Name,there I am in the midst of them”…I know that as long as I live, I’ll be one of those two or three, Jim Reed. PEACE.

  • Jim Reed

    The harder religious people work to express their faith, the more it just doesn’t seem believable any more.

  • apotropoxy

    “.. you call the tendency to personify God, to make God one of us, “an act of despair.”
    ___________________

    At a minimum, it is an act of infantilism.
    Kudos to the Jesuits. They have the maturity to keep an articulate atheist among them. Ave Maria College is not likely to show similar courage.

  • NavyBlues05

    I gave up on you after, “I said what I meant…’
    Another my way or the highway believer.

  • joeyj1220

    And the fact that Laurence said he had never heard of Maguire (“Ive already forgotten his name”) makes me realize he is not well read in theology.

  • Frank6550

    Why would anyone be afraid of the false and foolish belief that there is no God?

  • EqualTime

    I haven’t read the book, but it sounds like it’s on the continuum of the Jefferson Bible.

  • Laurence Charles Ringo

    I’m well read enough in theology to know Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour, joeyj1220.I’m familiar with the works of many atheists, agnostics, secular humanists, etc.It’s unlikely I’ll be particularly deprived by not knowing one more—PEACE IN CHRIST.

  • Jim Reed

    It might turn out to be true.

  • Jim Reed

    Religion works better if you stick to the approved reading list.

  • Frank6550

    No chance.

  • Craptacular

    Then why kill or seek to disenfranchise atheists, if it is not fear based? Why do believers rank atheists as the worst of the worst of humanity? Why is belief the first commandment in the precious list of ten? If there is an explanation other than fear, here is your chance to enlighten us.

  • Frank6550

    I am not seeking to kill anyone.

    If you were on a road that end at the edge of the cliff but you deny that reality wouldn’t it be loving to say “hey watch out?”

  • EqualTime

    It wasn’t that painful for me. I was raised Catholic, and found comfort in the community and having someone to thank for my many blessings. Then, when I buried by parents at (my) age 50 and 51, it was as if the veil was lifted, and I realized I was believing for their benefit, more than my own. I am not bitter at all – my experiences are what make me who I am. I’m very comfortable in understanding that this is all there is – and we need to make the best of it. I continue to pray for my parents, which is my way of remembering them in the way that they would want to be remembered, and say a general thanks before meals, out of habit, as a reminder of my blessings. I’ve gently “come out” to my family, and to my less religious friends. My more devout friends suspect, but I don’t make a point of discussing it as I have with my family.

  • Craptacular

    Are you assuming the mantle of responsibility for all christianity and religion in general? That is what the article is about…unless you feel the book and article are about you, personally, why would you assume I meant that you, Frank6550, are seeking to kill atheists?

    Or are you trying to say that the past few thousand years of history made up all that stuff killing, persecuting, and disenfranchising atheists?

  • Dave

    This author has not done the hard work of defining what the logical conclusions of his new found theology without god mean, (er, atheism) in terms of origins.

    As a philosophical naturalist he is forced to believe in the non-reality that something came from nothing, and that life sprang from non-life, and out of this came morality. Not an enviable position, nor is it one that he seems prepared to defend.

    It is true that those who place faith in a creator, or just believe that there is an intelligent designer are willing to accept that there are super-natural truths that we are not currently capable of understanding. I don’t find this to be hard to accept. It is much more difficult on your end, to place your faith in the idea that a protein molecule occurred randomly. This is what your current reality is based on, but feel free to stick with sneering condescension.

    The logical conclusion after observing the fine-tuned universe is that there is a designer. I prefer to call him God. I too give thanks for the sunrise, but mostly that God chose to reveal himself in the person of Jesus Christ, and die for our salvation.

    Peace be with you,

  • Jim Reed

    Lots of molecules occurred randomly. That’s life.

  • Dave

    Sorry Jim, do the research on the odds of a protein molecule forming itself from nothing. The odds of this happening randomly by happenstance are not on your side. I know it is politically correct for you to place your faith in this particular origins model, but in the end there is at the very least a designer. Start there.

    Your model requires more faith than I have.

  • M K

    I haven’t believed since I was 13, so for about 40 years now. There were no “stages” to go through: I just understood that what the religious around me believed was nonsense. I got to that conclusion from listening to them and thinking about it for a little bit. A reasonably intelligent adult should be able to do the same without a lot of drama and hoohaw.

  • M K

    I think our spread to the stars is inevitable. But religion will bottom out under the 20% nutcase threshold long before then. That threshold is, I think, inevitable: 1 in 5 of us are committed to thinking the Earth is flat or the Sun revolves around the Earth, or the moon landings were faked, or lizard overlord aliens are among us, or ESP is real, or prayer-cloths and faith-healers can regrow severed limbs, etc etc.

  • Russ Dewey

    What jumped out at me, from this article, was this quote:

    “…she said, “I love waking up in the morning and seeing the sun shine and the sky blue and the birds in flight and saying, ‘Thank you God,’ and you’re taking that away from me.”

    Baloney! Nothing at all changes when you re-describe your world as natural and drop the supernatural beliefs. What is real and lovable remains real and lovable. The sun shines, the sky remains blue, the birds fly and sing, people remain moral and loving, people retain the urge to celebrate life, share good times, raise their children to be good people. Saying “Thank you God” is perfectly reasonable and acceptable as a statement of profound gratitude, and if you want to be technically correct you can add “…whatever you are…” So even you think God is the generative potential of the universe, and not an alien super-power, it still works.

    I do think there is a third step beyond where this author has gone: you can re-sacralize the ancient writings if you approach them as metaphor, as expressions of people’s experience. A lot of people know this! People like John Shelby Spong take that approach and I would not call them atheists. They have just moved to an appreciation of spirituality that is fully consonant with the reality science shows us. It really is not that hard. IMHO the one thing you have to give up is a conception of God as an agent-apart, but there are many existing faiths (such as progressive Quakerism) that did that long ago.

    That quote from the “very theistic” theologian DOES support the author’s point about fear being a dominating motivation of conservative Christians. They really do fear that if they drop their magical beliefs and embrace reality, they will lose everything. This is what happens when you cling, when you grow attached to a belief system. The older citizens in Russia have the same nostalgia for communism. They believed it, they miss it, and they feel that when they gave it up, they lost hope and inspiration. The younger people feel a bit differently!

    The good news for our age is that you can actually embrace the truth and you will be fine. Better than fine: liberated, happy, healthy. I know that is unbelievable to people who feel the final revelation was delivered 2000 years ago, but you can’t push those people into new religious beliefs against their will, so let them be. It is enough that we are free to write about these things in our society, and people can take inspiration from others who have made the journey, if they wish.

  • Jim Reed

    You have faith in a designer who you can’t see or hear and who has no scientific evidence. You just heard about this designer in church.

  • Jim Reed

    you can’t push those people into new religious beliefs against their will, so let them be.

    I think we need to fight them because they formed a conservative Christian voting block to empower the rich, probably because they know if the Democrats are in power they will never get end times and rapture. Your advice (let them be) was good for the 70’s, but I think it is bad advice today.

  • M K

    The fine-tuning argument is just silly. Yeah, we only observe realities we exist in, no kidding. That’s called an observation-selection effect. No imaginary magical buddy needed.

    Jupiter’s Great Eye, the hummingbird outside my window, the temperature outside being 58.6 Degrees Fahrenheit, and every single fact of the uncountable number of facts are “just so” because only a reality which allowed them to be “just so” is. Concluding that therefore must be an entity which created everything to be “just so” is pre-pubescent logic.
    Resting absurdities like “Jesus replicated a few loaves of bread and some fish to feed a multitude” and “Odin will smite cowards who refuse to kill our enemies” on “fine-tuning” is even more embarrassing.

    Just stop.

  • M K

    Dave, you don’t understand observation-selection effects. See if this helps:

    It is orders of magnitude less likely that a randomly-selected piece of rock on the Moon has exactly the shape, composition, size, and location it does than that a protein molecule would form from constituent chemicals under reasonable conditions. Do you conclude that there must thus be a creator/designer dude who made the universe so that rock would be what it is and where it is?

    That rock might think exactly that if it could think. But if it could think it might also come to realize how absurd such a conclusion is, that it had blundered by not understanding observation-selection effects, and conclude that believing in imaginary magical buddies is embarrassing.

    Dave, come on.

  • dogged

    There is no God that fulfills my finite mind’s expectations of a God…
    nor fulfills Dan McGuire’s nor Pope Francis’ nor Billy Graham’s…
    “He is wholly other.” — Karl Barth

  • Hominid

    Learn some biology and physics and stop reading science fiction. Sapiens evolved in accordance with selection forces on Earth. We do not have the capacity to live off Earth. Sapiens will go extinct right here, as do all species sooner or later. The energy and material requirements for travel over the necessary distances cannot be met.

  • Hominid

    What’s “reasonably intelligent”? If it’s what I think it is, the vast majority of adult humans won’t qualify. Moreover, you missed the essential and correct point that credulousness is rooted in FEAR and a few other EMOTIONS, not rational thinking. That’s not going away for most people.

  • Hominid

    The theist fails to understand that the instant he begins to define god, it ceases to be god.

  • Russ Dewey

    I didn’t say you shouldn’t vote! 🙂

  • Graeme Cree

    Could be. He’s got the same circular arguments and argumentum ad hominem circumstantial arguments that marked 19th century thinking, along with the same obliviousness that his new position is as subject to them as his old one was. The very idea that disagreeing with the Vatican on birth control helped make him an atheist just makes him look like a very weak thinker, no matter what side he’s on at the moment.

  • Graeme Cree

    Who’s trying to kill atheists? As a matter of fact, they have a higher body count than all the religions in all of human history combined. Check our Rudolph Rummel’s book, “Death by Government” for the numbers.

  • Graeme Cree

    If they don’t understand that, don’t you think you ought to try to explain it? Really now…

  • Graeme Cree

    When your belief starts out at zero, it’s hard to climb that it’s dropping lower. I’m sure you’ve got a faith of your own that you wouldn’t dream of questioning. Most people do.

  • MiguelSe

    My biology does not allow me to fly, but I am pretty sure I flew from Palm Springs to DC yesterday. In short, never say never.

  • Graeme Cree

    What do faith healers have to do with it? That’s like saying you can’t believe in real money after you’ve seen a counterfeit bill. The logic isn’t there.

  • Graeme Cree

    How do you know? You have to understand that there’s a good reason that the petitio fallacy is called a fallacy.

  • Graeme Cree

    For faith, substitute inferential reasoning. If you’ve read Carl Sagan’s Contact, you know that something as seemingly simple as a transmission consisting of all the prime numbers from 1-100 would be regarded as proof that the message had an intelligent source. Maybe you consider that to be faith too, but Sagan didn’t. But either way, there’s a difference between faith and inferential logic.

  • Craptacular

    Ah yes, all those people killed by …without even arguing whether or not they were atheist…has absolutely nothing to do with the article or the questions I asked.

  • Craptacular

    So Graeme, why all the hostility against atheists? Is there something other than fear that motivates the religious to attack atheists and atheism? Give us another reason there are laws still on the books in the United States that disallow atheists to hold office, even though those laws have been ruled unconstitutional.

  • M K

    Huh? The argument was just that about 20% of people is the lowest we can go for “irrational” and “nutcase” – 1 in 5 will believe any fool thing no matter the evidence, arguments, or case against that fool thing.

    Faith healing was a solid example. A majority of Americans believe that faith healing is real. Even the nuttiest Evangelicals like Todd Bentley and Benny Hinn and Earnest Angley have devout fans. I expect the number of folks who believe that drivel will drop as religious belief ebbs. I think that about 20% of folks will still believe, no matter what.

  • Jim Reed

    A few people have been living off the planet for a few years now, and that shows it is possible. We evolved on Earth, but there will also be some advantages to lower gravity environments. As soon as we make a permanent move to space, we will start splitting into two species, one on Earth and another one for lower gravity. That’s what life always does. It adapts to the environment.

  • M K

    Please. Carl Sagan would laugh (and did mock) the idea that you could infer the existence of your imaginary magical buddy from the facts as they exist.

    But I will admit that if, tonight, the constellations shifted in the sky such that they displayed the 25 primes <100, I would seriously consider believing in the existence of extremely impressive aliens. Not God, because that's nuts, but really advanced ETs would rise fast on the list of possibilities.

    But doesn't it bother you that your imaginary magical buddy never told any of the dudes you think she spoke with about DNA or that the brain was the seat of cognition or that the Earth revolved around the sun or gravity? Isn't the obvious explanation for their ignorance that there is no God?

  • dogged

    Carl Sagan’s take on God or “divine matters” simply didn’t pass scientific muster:
    Sagan always touted as the (blatantly non-falsifiable) “God Hypothesis”. You won’t find any nuanced arguments about the complementary aspects of science and faith in his writings. His core dogma—that grand non-falsifiable claim—was: “The Cosmos is all that was, all that is, all that ever will be.” — Carl Sagan (1934-1996)

  • Jim Reed

    Jesus is falsifiable, and in our Christian nation that is enough.

  • CityDweller71

    I was more than ready to become an atheist after waking up to all the evil that religion causes around the world. Best decision I ever made!

  • CityDweller71

    Muslims sentence atheists to death all the time. Christians used to do it, too, though it’s thankfully now illegal.

  • modoccus1

    What is astounding is that it is over 75 years since quantum physics destroyed the empirical base of the philosophy of scientific materialism and yet it remains so pervasive, but the cycle will change.

    To those of you emotionally committed to scientific materialism review this — https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4C5pq7W5yRM

    The words of Jesus: “but be brave! I have defeated the world!” John 16:33.

    The fundamental problem in biology by two prominent molecular biologists: the genome project turned out to be a big bust because there are less than 22,000 genes in the human genome whereas the tiny water flea has 32,000.

    The genes function as blueprints for the sole purpose of making specific proteins, but do not have the information for morphology —-that is the size, shape and form of the organism. This information is external in what they call the field. If this is true Darwinian evolution is non- functional

    Review of this — https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wXpndnjHvqw

  • modoccus1

    All experimental testing of quantum physics has consistently confirmed its validity to the extent that a growing number of physicists are speculating that we may be living in some form of simulation. If so, this raises some interesting questions: what communication does the Great Simulator have(if any) to simulated beings that are, nevertheless, independently sentient, self-aware, and morally cognizant?

    Suppose this is the communication : “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life”. John:3,16

    This message is encapsulated in the story of the sinful woman brought before Jesus, and Jesus told her in the end “neither to do I condemn you, go and sin no more.”

    The perspective here is that God created man sentient, self-aware, and morally cognizant — something far beyond the capabilities of other animals —-thus man is accountable to live above mere primal instinct. (For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another. Titus 3:3 )

    God’s message is that he is willing to let bygones be bygones with this proviso: go and sin no more

  • Gabriela Garver

    He sounds like a confused mind. What is he offering as the basis of his ethics (which sounds like environmentalism)? Why be good? What is good, anyway? Why save the earth, why do we matter? I’d like to ask the Mr. Maguire to explain where St. Thomas Acquinas was “off the mark.”

  • Gabriela Garver

    What are his objections to St. Thomas Acquinas? He just sounds like another environmentalist to me.

  • Jim Reed

    If there was a simulator God that wanted to communicate with us I am sure that God would find something better than Christianity. It just makes things worse for us.

  • Jim Reed

    I was trying to find something to disagree with you on. You didn’t leave much room.

  • Hominid

    I’ve done so in the past . . . if one is logical, it’s obvious. A definition or description is the placement of bounds (limits) on the object in question, a confinement in scope.

  • Hominid

    That’s illogical and ignorant. You did not fly anywhere – you sat in a flying machine. Moreover, your comment implies limitless technology – an unwarranted conclusion. Just because you can imagine something doesn’t make it possible.

  • Hominid

    Nope! People have been re-creating a simulator of the Earth’s environment adequate to survive for brief periods and travel short distances in space.

    A lower gravity environment is a death sentence. We cannot “make a permanent move to space” – our physiology proscribes it.

    Life RARELY adapts to the environment – it far more often goes extinct. What misleads you is that you commonly see the lucky winners, but you’re unaware of the billions of losers in the game of evolution.

    Like I said, you’d benefit from learning basic biology & physics.

  • Hominid

    The odds of Joe Average winning the lottery may be millions to one, but, wow! – Joe won the lottery. Learn something about probability.

    You haven’t a clue what the “odds” were for the formation of self-replicating hydrocarbons on Earth at the time life emerged.

    What are the odds that a “designer” created life? Based on what observations?

  • Hominid

    Where’s that transmission?

  • MiguelSe

    There are astronaughts living in space right now…Stephen Hawking has proposed the idea of moving off this rock, but them again, what does he know?

  • Hominid

    Much of modern christianity provides an excellent ethical code. Nothing wrong with that. Mankind cannot live together without a codified morality, however arbitrary it might be. It does, however, seem to work best where there is a largely uniform culture.

  • Hominid

    Morality arises from instinct and reason, no mysticism required. The codification of morality – which is necessary for civil society – is what is problematic. The more genetically and culturally alike people are, the easier it is to agree upon a moral code.

  • Hominid

    See The Hominid’s response to Jim Reed below. You’re illogical and ignorant of biology & physics.

  • Jim Reed

    The ISS has been continuously occupied for years. We have been as far as the moon, and getting to Mars will only require the will to do it, and that is now here. Mars is 40% earth’s gravity. Life will flourish under low gravity. The ISS has no gravity, but new space stations will have some, and low gravity below the level of the moon or Mars will also have benefits.

    Remember, life adapts to every environment it reaches. That has always been the way.

  • Jim Reed

    You can debate moral code, but as a people Christians suck. The world would be a better place without them.

  • Hominid

    Nope! You’re wrong on every count.

  • Hominid

    You’re an imbecile.

  • Jim Reed

    The theory of Christianity is Christians have God and Jesus in their hearts guiding them according to the principles of God’s love. This should make these people morally way way above the rest of the people who have the devil in their hearts guiding them. But Christianity leads to inquisitions and crusades and all manner of mean spirited conservative politics. I just can’t see how these people are a special class of people with God in their hearts. Everything seems to say the religion leads to war and conflict and the world would be a better place without that.

  • Jim Reed

    I know Christianity would like to keep everything contained here on earth because that would match their end time prophecy, but life is now ready to move on. You can’t stop it.

  • Dave

    Hominid – Read below what a few of the most prominent atheists and physicists say about the odds of origins and life formations occurring by random chance. These guys would no doubt be your heroes and it seems they are not quite sure about the odds:

    It is not uncommon for atheists to argue for the following claims:

    The universe is all there is and it luckily popped into existence, out of nothing, uncaused. The universe’s fine-tuning, or ability to support life, is the result of luck and luck explains the origin of first life. Lucky positive mutations worked on by natural selection explain the complexity of life forms. It is more believable that the universe came about by luck than for God to exist because evidence for His existence is less obvious and more inaccessible.

    These claims, at the very least, reveal the atheist’s overall
    attitude or an epistemic stance (i.e., how they approach what is
    knowable); not only about God’s existence, but also about the role of evidence and wishful thinking in one’s belief formation.

    Consider Richard Dawkins’s admission in The Blind Watchmaker that “we can accept a certain amount of luck in our explanations, but not too much….We can allow ourselves the luxury of an extravagant theory [regarding the origin of life on our planet], provided that the odds of coincidence do not exceed 100 billion billion to one.”1 Dawkins goes on to say that “gradual evolution by small steps, each step being lucky but not too lucky, is the solution to the riddle” of how first life arose.2

    Dawkins is not alone in these pronouncements. Other scientists have asserted similar explanations. For example, Nobel Prize winner Jacques Monod wrote that “chance alone is at the source of every innovation, of all creation in the biosphere. Pure chance, absolutely free but blind, at the very root of the stupendous edifice of evolution.”3 Similarly, in an attempt to explain the origin of the universe itself, physics professor Edward P. Tyron considers that “in answer to the question of why it happened, I offer the modest
    proposal that our Universe is simply one of those things which happen from time to time.”4

    Should we entertain these arguments with a straight face? Are such atheist supercalifragilisticexpialidocious explanatory appeals to luck a distraction from the real issues? Above we noted that Dawkins said that our explanations shouldn’t be luckier than “100 billion billion to one,” which is 10 to the 20th power. But Fred Hoyle, who Dawkins himself called a “brilliant physicist and cosmologist,”5 likened the probability of life originating on Earth as “no greater than the chance that a hurricane, sweeping through a scrapyard, would have the luck to assemble a Boeing 747.”6 We can’t even imagine that happening, right? Similarly, Nobel Prize winner Francis Crick reported that the pure luck assembly of one polypeptide chain “of
    rather modest length” to be 10 to the 260th power. To explain the immensity of this luck, Crick pointed out that all the atoms in the visible universe only come to 10 to the 80th.7 What does belief in this supercalifragilisticexpialidocious kind of luck tell us about those who argue for it? How should we respond to such claims?

    from an article by Clay Jones and Joseph Gorra

    Just because you cannot see God now with your eyes, does not mean God does not exist. When you look at the complexity of the creation, it is folly to put your faith in random chance. Seek the light of the universe and more light will be revealed to you. God wants his creation to reach out to him.

  • Gabriela Garver

    I don’t agree, Hominid. This is where moral relativism and atheism utter collapse. Who says we can agree on what is “reasonable”? We need to appeal to a higher moral authority, outside ourselves, which we agree is a benign and purely good “referee.” Otherwise, your good is not my good, and it’s the law of the jungle: “might makes right,” and the law of wall street greed: “heads I win, tails you lose.”

    Hominid, is there absolute truth? If you say “no,” then you are claiming there is at least one truth (namely, no truth), and so you’ve contradicted yourself. If you say “yes,” then I must ask you, what is the source of truth? If you say reason is truth, I say, what is reason and what is its source.

    Ayan Rand was asked “where did all this stuff (the universe) come from if there is no God?” She said “Nature.” Yes, and where did nature come from?

    Stephen Hawkings said we don’t need God for creation to have taken place, we only need gravity. Yes, but where did gravity come from? Do you see the problem? There has to have been an uncreated prime mover, and that mover is God.

    God is revealed in both His creation and in the heart of man, which longs for Him. (This is Acquinas.) Even Einstein came round to the belief that there had to be an intelligence behind the universe–it’s too beautiful and it’s too “regular” in places.

  • Whiskyjack

    If you specify an endpoint to a chain of contingent events, nothing is probable. What is the likelihood that you exist? Think of all the random, contingent events that were involved in your parents meeting and having a child, and their parents…and their parents before them. Wow – it’s astronomically unlikely that you exist.
    Another example: outside it’s snowing right now. If I look closely at a specific snowflake, I will find out that it’s pretty close to being absolutely unique. It is the result of a long chain of stochastic events – travelling through clouds of varying temperature and pressure until it has formed in its unique form. Does that mean that every snowflake is a miracle? No. It just means that it has been formed by a chain of random events.
    When you specify the endpoint (like a specific protein fold, or a particular set of environmental variables) everything contingent seems unlikely. Sorry, Dave, you aren’t a special snowflake, nor is the Earth, nor is the universe. We are just the product of a long chain of stochastic events. If you want to invest the endpoint with specialness because God, go ahead. Just don’t expect that people with an understanding of probability will agree with you.

  • Dave

    MK, you realize that is Gobbledygook, right? Read below what a few prominent physicists and atheists say about random chance. I particularly like what Nobel Prize winner Francis Crick said regarding the pure luck assembly of a polypeptide chain of modest length. I just cannot fathom the faith it takes to believe in this model:

    It is not uncommon for atheists to argue for the following claims:

    The universe is all there is and it luckily popped into existence, out of
    nothing, uncaused. The universe’s fine- tuning, or ability to support life, is the result of luck and luck explains the origin of first life. Lucky positive mutations worked on by natural selection explain the complexity of life forms. It is more believable that the universe came about by luck than for God to exist because evidence for His existence is less obvious and more inaccessible.

    These claims, at the very least, reveal the atheist’s overall attitude or an epistemic stance (i.e., how they approach what is knowable); not only about God’s existence, but also about the role of evidence and wishful thinking in one’s belief formation.

    Consider Richard Dawkins’s admission in The Blind Watchmaker that
    “we can accept a certain amount of luck in our explanations, but not too much….We can allow ourselves the luxury of an extravagant theory [regarding the origin of life on our planet], provided that the odds of coincidence do not exceed 100 billion billion to one.”1 Dawkins goes on to say that “gradual evolution by small steps, each step being lucky but not too lucky, is the solution to the riddle” of how first life arose.2

    Dawkins is not alone in these pronouncements. Other scientists have asserted similar explanations. For example, Nobel Prize winner Jacques Monod wrote that “chance alone is at the source of every innovation, of all creation in the biosphere. Pure chance, absolutely free but blind, at the very root of the stupendous edifice of evolution.”3 Similarly, in an attempt to explain the origin of the universe itself, physics professor Edward P. Tyron considers that “in answer to the question of why it happened, I offer the modest proposal that our Universe is simply one of those things which happen from time
    to time.”4

    Should we entertain these arguments with a straight face? Are such atheist supercalifragilisticexpialidocious explanatory appeals to luck a distraction from the real issues? Above we noted that Dawkins said that our explanations shouldn’t be luckier than “100 billion billion to one,” which is 10 to the 20th power. But Fred Hoyle, who Dawkins himself called a “brilliant physicist and cosmologist,”5 likened the probability of life originating on Earth as “no greater than the chance that a hurricane, sweeping through a scrapyard, would have the luck to assemble a Boeing 747.” We can’t even imagine that happening, right? Similarly, Nobel Prize winner Francis Crick reported that the pure luck assembly of one polypeptide chain “of rather modest length” to be 10 to the 260th power. To explain the immensity of this luck, Crick pointed out that all the atoms in the visible universe only come to
    1080.7 What does belief in this supercalifragilisticexpialidocious kind of luck tell us about those who argue for it? How should we respond to such claims?

    taken from an article by Clay Jones and Joseph Gorra

  • Jim Reed

    I don’t think that means anything.

  • Jim Reed

    Questioning, that’s what dreams are for.

  • Dave

    Been hittin’ a little of the whiskey….jack? Just kidding.

    Not my numbers Jack, but those of prominent physicists and atheists. But I will give you this argument. Certainly it is easier to believe that a snowflake freezing out of water in the atmosphere into a random configuration is more likely than the polypeptide molecule popping up out of nowhere. Or even the human brain, mind, and soul. I am still waiting for someone to show me the transitional forms in the fossil record, necessary for the hippo to evolve into the whale. Please show me any of the fantastic transitional forms that would be necessary for the complexity of animal life to have evolved as we now know it. Or, just for kicks do some research into the Cambrian explosion.

    These discussions of creation vs. random chance typically evolve (hahaha) into tit for tat arguments. And the participants just talk past one another. And in the end I am the winner. LOL.

    I offer this from my side. I do not view my relationship with God, as my “special buddy”, or my “imaginary friend”. I can only tell you that God is there for those who seek him. You can see that I have put thought into both sides of the argument, and God has given his creation enough information to get the message. The love of God is a reality for myself and billions of people.

    No one can be dragged kicking and screaming into a faith in God. I understand that. This is certainly true, but the idea of being eternally separated from creator of our universe makes one pause.

  • M K

    I thought “let them be” in my 30s, a couple decades ago. That is not good advice.

    It allows the con artists free reign to run their grift to extract wealth from and exercise power over the vulnerable, the gullible, and the stupid. Including children like my young son. The victim/perpetrators of religious frauds are dangerous, yes, but they make life less than it could be for billions.

    Fight.

  • Hominid

    You’re over-generalizing & stereotyping and you’re unreasonably hubristic – I’m guessing another doctrinaire Lib-Leftist.

  • Hominid

    You’re a muddle-head.

  • Hominid

    People say all kinds of things – it proves nothing.

    Give me an experiment – argument is not a substitute for experiment. Show me evidence.

  • Hominid

    He commits the appeal to authority fallacy repeatedly as well. He’s devoid of logical thinking. But, then, one has to be to believe the unbelievable.

  • Jim Reed

    I don’t see how you can call it overgeneralizing when there is such a long history showing that is the case

  • Hominid

    That’s because you don’t think.

  • Jim Reed

    I guess that is about all you can say if you think life is stuck here on earth.

  • TexasStomp

    That’s why we say “believe” instead of “know” H. Don’t cost nuthin to ante up and dumb luck is still luck so who “knows?” :)))))))))))

  • Hominid

    Gibberish!

    Mankind has always and will always determine law either by agreement or force, regardless of the ideological window dressing that accompanies it.

    It is clear to even a casual observer that absolutes do not exist. Everything resides on multidimensional continua.

    Where did god come from? See how easy it is to destroy your argument?

    You’re full of baloney that there need be a prime mover – the universe may be eternal and infinite as far as you know. You don’t get to make up answers.

    Your final paragraph is illogical, not to mention sappy.

  • Hominid

    “…as a people Christians suck” – is overgeneralization.

    “…the world would be a better place without [religion]” – you think you’ve cornered the market on wisdom.

    Like I said – you’re an imbecile.

  • Hominid

    Faith is for fools. “I don’t know” is preferable to make-believe.

  • Craptacular

    Then why the hostility towards atheists? Why do atheists receive threats when they point out others who are breaking the law? Why do the religious react to atheist/secular holiday displays as if they were a threat?

    I am being honest here, Frank6550. You are much closer to the religious than I am so perhaps you can shed some light on the situation. You don’t seem to be afraid, but your religious compatriots react as if they have been physically attacked when someone points out that forcing everyone into a public prayer to jesus before a high school football game is against our laws. Are these simply religious extremists or do they represent the majority opinion of the religious?

  • Jim Reed

    The world Would be a better place. That’s not cornering any market. It is just something that has been becoming more clear from national and world news in the last few days,

  • Gabriela Garver

    Aha, you have contradicted yourself, hoisted yourself on your own petard, I see. If “Absolutes do not exist,” then your OWN statements are not true, either, are they? There are no absolute truths then, right? Oh, but wait. There must be at least ONE truth, namely, there is no truth. So, Hominid, time to go back to your cave, scratch your head for a few hours (get all the lice out) and try to get this through your thick, dull skull: the statement that there is no such thing as truth contains a contradiction and is therefore FALSE.

  • TexasStomp

    I’m no fool. My experience being clinically dead might have been neurons randomly firing but if that’s what death is like all I can tell you is, no worries. It ain’t half bad. 🙂

  • Whiskyjack

    The random configuration of the snowflake was just an example of confusing improbability with “specialness.” That is a categorical mistake. I can deal a set of bridge hands. The specific ones that my partner and I pick up are hugely improbable, but that doesn’t make them special. Fine tuning arguments make the same mistake. Yes, the conditions that made humans evolve are immensely unlikely, but that doesn’t make them special. It is only the arrogance of humans that invests them with inordinate significance.

    Polypeptides do not “pop out of nowhere” – they result from a number of steps which you can learn about with a quick search, and are the result of chemical properties that are in turn the result of underlying physics. As far as whales go, the transitional forms are well attested, and I’ve included a couple of links for you if you’re interested (which probably you’re not.) The information is there if you want it.

    http://www.talkorigins.org/features/whales/

    http://www.transitionalfossils.com/#whales

  • NavyBlues05

    Good luck getting an answer from Frank6550. He’s rather rigid, hide bound, and narcissistic when it comes to his interpretation Christianity. He’s quick to insist one seek professional treatment should they disagree or point out his fallacies.

  • NavyBlues05

    He can’t answer. He just insists upon full capitulation to his beliefs…kind of like The Inquisitor General. Convert or die…21st century Inquisition.

  • Frank6550

    I think only those with weak faith would fear atheism.

    Now one could make the argument that fear is not the best word. They may “fear” the consequences of the atheist worldview and what will result from it but it’s a misnomer to say they fear atheism itself.

    But I can only offer conjecture.

  • Frank6550

    I am unaware of atheists being killed by Christians for their atheism. Source?

  • Dave

    Very interested Jack, but the evidence is weak. We should be riddled with these fossils. I prefer the Cambrian explosion, which Darwin himself was very concerned about.

    Everyone believes (places faith) in something. Random chance, or God/designer, they are both belief systems.

    I wish all atheists the best, I just don’t envy them.

    Just for kicks let me posit a question:

    Why is a group of terrorists gunning down a school full of children wrong from the atheist’s perspective? Or, to put it another way, what gives one atheist the authority to tell another atheists that a specific act is wrong?

    I ask this based on the writings of Dr. Alex Rosenberg, in his book An Atheist’s Guide to Reality. He is a professor at Duke University. He holds to a theory of “nice nihilism”, which at it’s heart contends that you cannot really make a case for ethics and morality, if you are being an honest atheist.

    I find that concept interesting, and thus believe that morality was introduced by a different means. Keep in mind that Rosenberg would argue that morality came about through natural selection, if it exists at all.

    Good luck fellas!

  • Dave

    MK

    Just curious if you know anything at all about the history of this world?

    It is primarily 3 or 4 atheists who have been responsible for the hundreds of millions of deaths and genocides that have been inflicted on humanity.

    Are you familiar with Mao, Pol Pot, Stalin, and Hitler. All militant anti-god atheists.

    My faith teaches me to love my enemies, turn the other cheek, and help out the poor. Is that the danger that wakes you up in the middle of the night?

    splash some cold water on your face, and shake your head back and forth vigorously. Just a thought.

  • Hominid

    LOL!! You’re not actually going to drag out that middle school linguistic paradox as a logical argument, are you? I’m not going to argue over artifacts of language ambiguity.

    My statements are high probability approximations of useful reality – not truth. Your statements are nonsense.

  • Hominid

    Superstition and wishful thinking. No verifiable reports from the dead. Like the essay said, fear is powerful and makes it hard not to engage in fantasies of eternal life. But, remember, dead men have no regrets. Oblivion won’t bother you after you’re dead any more than it did before you were born.

  • FA Miniter

    Then riddle me this: Why have believers so often executed non-believers over the centuries if they were not afraid of what the non-believer had to say?

  • FA Miniter

    Radical Muslims are, however, killing anyone who does not agree with them as we speak. Some right-wing Christians in America think that it is right and proper to assassinate abortion doctors. Puritans killed members of other religions who came into the Massachusetts Bay Colony. The Mormons slaughtered a whole wagon train of people. The Spanish gave Jews the choice of converting or dying in the 15th century. The Crusades and the Wars of the Reformation showed Christianity has a great ability to kill those whom they believe do not believe.

  • FA Miniter

    After Pandora’s Box was opened, all that remained was hope.

  • FA Miniter

    What resources do you find in outer space for humans to live on independent of Earth?

  • Frank6550

    Can’t speak for the Muslims, spaniards or the puritans.

    A couple, literally a couple, so called Christians have shot abortion doctors. Statistically irrelevant.

    Crusades were misguided at best for sure.

    Aside from the past what Christians are trying to kill atheists.

  • Frank6550

    Why have non believers executed believers?

    Let deal in the here and now.

  • FA Miniter

    Mars does not have an atmosphere in which we can live. It is mostly carbon dioxide which would kill us quickly It lacks all but the minutest amount of water. Its temperature is too cold for us. At best, at noon on a summer day at the equator, it is 70 degrees F. But at night it would be -100 degrees. The poles stay at about -190 degrees.

    Venus and Mercury are too close to the sun. Jupiter is a gas giant, as is Saturn. Neptune and Uranus are frigid rocks. Where exactly do you think we are going to go and how?

  • Whiskyjack

    I’m curious why you think that “we should be riddled with these fossils.” The length of time since the fossils were deposited, along with the highly unusual set of conditions required for fossil formation and preservation render it extremely unlikely. As far as the Cambrian “explosion” goes, once again I would direct you to talkorigins.org. They have very good discussions of various aspects of the era.

  • FA Miniter

    “Can’t speak for the Muslims, spaniards or the puritans.”

    Then study your history.

    As to Muslims, start with this: http://www.economist.com/blogs/erasmus/2014/12/atheism-belief-and-persecution

    And this, which cites persecution of atheists in Scotland, among other places: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/politics/how-the-right-to-deny-the-existence-of-god-is-under-threat-globally-9913662.html

    Christians these days are, for the most part, not trying to kill atheists, but they are persecuting them. Britain’s Ministry of Education has dropped atheism and humanism from religious studies in state schools. Christians in America are clearly at war with atheists and are trying to christianize the nation. Seven states (Arkansas, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas) have religious tests designed to prevent atheists from holding public office. It is political suicide for a politician in America to say he or she is an atheist.

    A 2009 poll in Brazil shows atheists are the most hated demographic group.

  • FA Miniter

    If you want an answer, then answer my prior question first.

  • Jim Reed

    First step is Mars. People planning to go there plan to live in space suits and indoor structures. Gas giants are not possible locations, but they have hundreds of moons that might be of value. If you are interested in learning how, there is info available on the internet.

  • Jim Reed

    You can find water, metals, everything that you can find in the earth’s crust.

  • http://atlantarofters.blogspot.com/ The Sanity Inspector

    Fear, and the cynicism that resulted from resentment of that fear, was the hallmark of ancient paganism. Those gods were to be propitiated, and little else. Judaism was different:

    One of the greatest advantages of the Hebrew religion over every system of paganism was the peculiar excellency of its precepts and the means of acquiring moral and religious instruction which it afforded to every class of the people. The pagans never appointed instructors to deliver moral precepts in the name of the gods. The people frequented the temples and attended the solemn rites of religion as well as other public shows; but they did not receive any moral or religious instructions from their priests, who never considered it as any part of their duty to enlighten the minds of the multitude. Among the Israelites the case was totally different. The Scriptures were read and explained in the synagogue every Sabbath day and thus became intelligible to the meanest capacity. The same laudable plan, being adopted by the Christians, has diffused a moral and religious illumination over a great part of the world.
    — John Bigland, An Historical Display of the Effects of Physical and Moral Causes on the Character and Circumstances of Nations, 1816

    Plus the dimensions of joy and gratitude that came with Judaism were little known to other religions at the time. To Buddhism life was suffering, to be transcended. To Hinduism life was an illusion, to be dispelled. But in Judaism, God said that life was good, tov, which set it and its daughter religions on an entirely path, which was not bound solely by fear as the author suggests.

  • FA Miniter

    Not a good enough answer. We have a space station now, but it needs regular re-supply of the necessities of life. We cannot even make the space station independently functional, let alone Mars. The amount of energy that would be required to make even a small terrestrial bubble on Mars – and keep it warm!! – would be enormous. Mars does not appear to have any life forms, so we cannot rely on the planet to supply needs. Everything, even earthworms and microbes, would have to be brought from Earth.

  • FA Miniter

    See the reply I just posted to your other comment.

  • Jim Reed

    Keeping a bubble warm on pars will be no more difficult than keeping the space station 250 miles up warm, in fact it will probably be easier on Mars because you can build underground. These things will be done by those who think it can be done, not by those who think it is impossible so they would never consider trying. There may be no good enough answer, but that won’t stop it from happening,.

  • Jim Reed

    Then Rome wiped them out and they started adding apocalyptic chapters to their scriptures. See the Life of Brian movie.

  • Craptacular

    Your Google-Fu is weak if you can’t find anything on the internet about christians killing atheists. But I don’t want this discussion devolving into “those aren’t real christians,” “it is all past history,” etc. Let’s focus on the topic at hand, which is your contention that fear is/was not the motivation behind anti-atheist behaviors as the author of the book contends. Specifically, you said, “Why would anyone be afraid of the false and foolish belief that there is no God?”

    So tell us, why, other than fear, would the religious want to keep atheists from holding office? Why do the religious threaten unbelievers with death for not believing? Current christians make death threats when their rights or privileges are questioned.

    If you don’t know, or if you don’t have contact with those that are hostile, then why are you even posting your comment?

  • Craptacular

    “But I can only offer conjecture.” – Frank6550

    So your line, “Why would anyone be afraid of the false and foolish belief that there is no God?” was just a crock of crap to make yourself feel better about your belief?

  • http://atlantarofters.blogspot.com/ The Sanity Inspector

    Apocalyptic writings are found in both Testaments. The Old Testament predates the Roman occupation of ancient Palestine, in case you were unaware.

  • Craptacular

    ” Who says we can agree on what is “reasonable”? We need to appeal to a higher moral authority, outside ourselves, which we agree is a benign and purely good “referee.” Otherwise, your good is not my good, and
    it’s the law of the jungle: “might makes right,” and the law of wall street greed: “heads I win, tails you lose.”” – Gabriela Garver

    Uh..history says so. Plenty of disparate cultures have carved out agreements, treaties, etc. without divine intervention. Humans can even agree to disagree. We managed to develop rules for driving, yielding right-of-way, etc. without any supernatural assistance, so I would say, yes, humans can agree on “reasonable.”

    This doesn’t mean everyone agrees with everything, but that is why the current trend for the religious to reject any compromise as a compromise of their “deeply held values” is so dangerous. This is putting us on the fast track to the “might makes right” society you ascribe to the non-religious.

  • Gabriela Garver

    Hominid, nice try, but no banana. There has to be such a thing as truth, or there’s nothing to discuss. There is a God in heaven, and He watches and waits and helps us. Yes, even nonbelievers. The purpose of life is to come to know, love, and serve God. Better start while there’s still time.

  • M K

    I happen to know a bit, yes.
    First, being ethical, caring, conscientious, and thoughtful do not depend on being a victim/perpetrator of religious nonsense. In fact, the reverse is true.
    Religion takes much much much more wealth than it redistributes to the poor: the Vatican’s gold-leaf and pomp are matched by the gaudy bling of TV preachers, mullahs, sadhis, Reverends, and witch doctors the world over. Your personal self-righteousness is easy to aver on the internets, Dave, but I bet you’re just another huckster posing as a good man while abusing the vulnerable, gullible, and stupid.
    At a minimum, the local pastor lives off the fleece he scrapes off his flock: he should get an honest job, instead. But that same scam funnels the gold coins up the hierarchy to the head hucksters wearing the pointiest hats.
    Second, I think Communism is despicable, as is National Socialism. I long ago read Rummel’s work cataloging atrocities, but your dishonest accounting looking to blame atheism is just nauseating.
    Hitler was not a “militant anti-god atheist,” he was a Roman Catholic who, until his death, spoke about his devotion to God. That’s why the Vatican, rather than condemning him or Mussolini, variously supported or looked the other way as committed massive atrocities. So Hitler is on you, not atheism.

    Third, Stalin and Mao and Pol Pot were atheists, but not a single one of their murders was for atheism, in the name of atheism, or because of atheism. They were to collectivize agriculture, purge their opposition, consolidate power, and industrialize the peasantry. They were horrors, yes, but none of their atrocities are remotely the responsibility of atheism.
    Even you can understand that, right? About 90% of murderers and rapists in the US prison system are self-professed Christians. But no sane person would conclude that Christianity was responsible for those tens of thousands of rapes and murders just because the rapists and murderers are Christians. Similarly, all of the leaders of the WW1 countries were Christians, but no one with a brain blames Christianity for the horrors of WW1. That’s because those crimes and atrocities weren’t committed for Christianity, in the name of Christianity, or because of Christianity.

    Finally, your argument is just dishonest bilge. If you blame atheism for the crimes and atrocities of atheists, then Christianity would immediately be the worst horror show in history: Christians have murdered, pillaged, raped, and committed genocide on far more individuals than even Communists.
    The honest thing to do is the opposite of your move: blame atheism/Christianity only for the evils committed in their names, for them, or because of them. If you do that, then atheism is the light of goodness in a world darkened by religion’s monstrosity.

  • modoccus1

    Recorded history is largely a depressing repetition of the same old story that drives history. It’s about the intoxication of power that drives the will to power with the development of a belief system that justifies authoritarian centralized power (To be the alpha of primal instinct). It is these belief systems that allow men to become as gods among men — controlling the lives of millions.

    The playbook is always the same: history is full of ruling hierarchy merging church and state into one religious, political unit. The Egyptian pharaohs claim descent of the sun god. Even as late as in the 20th century the Emperor of Japan was obliged to renounce divine lineage after World War II. Every society has that priestly class who feel at the bottom of their dark little hearts that their destiny is to rule others and they have to develop a rationale for authoritarian rule because any authoritarian system cannot last only by being the big man of the ruling mob.

    Radical socialism had their “cult of personality” which essentially means they were god on earth to people; indeed when they control your destiny of life and death they are — and if you read the prose and poetry extolling these human “gods” it was worship. And when we thought the autocracy of divine right to rule was in the historical dustbin, behold, it resurrected with Islam. They really believe they are the emissaries of God giving them license to behave as God on earth.

    Jesus was truly revolutionary, which is why he warned his followers of being hated because he separated church and state. He clearly stated his kingdom is not of this world. In the temptations of Christ the devil takes him to the high pinnacle and said that if Christ would worship him he could have all the kingdoms of the world, which Jesus rejected.

    The spiritual kingdom of Christ is where God is love and the creator of life and all that is good, which ultimately led to the foundation of the greatest civilization this world has ever seen, America.

    The kingdom of Christ should never be compromised with a political system.It would appear most authoritarians apparently have made their deal with Beelzebub and they are infatuated with their power to kill and destroy.

  • M K

    You are misinterpreting Rummel.

    He catalogs the greatest atrocities by states and individuals. While it is true that Hitler (a Roman Catholic) and Communists (atheists) have the largest body counts, that doesn’t say anything about whether the religious views of those men had any role in those atrocities.

    Rummel certainly doesn’t claim that the greatest atrocities are more than a small fraction of the total horror visited on people by people. While Hitler, Stalin and Mao were the worst, the sum total of atrocities by positions 4 through 100,000 swamp the totals by those monsters.

    So if you insist on being a simple dolt and adding up the murders, rapes, and maimings by religious stance of the perpetrator, Christianity will win the Bodycount of Evil and it won’t be close. There have been very many more violent Christians than violent Atheists.

    I think sane and honest people don’t do that. They blame religions for the violence done in the name of those religions, for those religions or because of those religions. If you do the honest accounting, atheism is the light of goodness in a world darkened by religion’s monstrosity.

  • Jim Reed

    I think the Bible shows there isn’t any actual Jesus. He was created by the gospel writers late in the first century

  • modoccus1

    The biological instincts of genetic imprint that affect behavior are the same in all primates, the most important: the biological imperative of reproduction: otherwise, no survival.

    Unlike other primates, man historically was largely a predatory carnivore. Herbivorous animals tend to easily socialize in herds and do not actively seek to kill except for self-defense. Carnivorous animals inhabit the world of red tooth and claw. Thus man comes by his feral tendencies as biologically imprinted behavior. That silly tabula rasa (the clean slate) fiction is not needed here.

    The motive for Rousseau’s philosophical invention is avoidance of personal accountability to God of Christian theology (and the guilt), allowing a degree of license into the wild side of animalism and place blame elsewhere.

    Core Christian perspective: man is sentient, self-aware, morally cognizant, and capable of countermanding and controlling primal instincts with superimposed religious, cultural software that makes civilization possible and he is personally accountable to God for his moral condition.

    The only thing science has to say is the natural law of nature: power of strong over the weak, kill or be killed for the survival of the fittest of the human animal.

    And when this animal in human form acquires totalitarian power, through radical political ideology, millions are enslaved and die (Stalin, Hitler, Mao, PolPot, etc).Their psychopathic infatuation with death and destruction unwittingly follows the primal instinct of dominating and destroying competing gene pool. This is just as natural as sexual instinct in procreation for predatory carnivores.

  • Frank

    I would encourage any atheists here, as well as Mr. Maguire, of course, to read “The Experience of God” by David Bentley Hart. It is a very powerful demonstration that the atheist position is logically untenable. One may reject God for emotional reasons, such as in reaction to the presence of evil and suffering in the world, but it has to be acknowledged that this position has no basis in logic. Those of you who are agnostic or are experiencing doubt will find in this work some great philosophical consolation. Atheists who read it with an open mind will have to do some very serious reflection and may arrive again, or even for the first time, at the threshold of faith.

  • Hominid

    Perhaps you could invest your post with some coherence.

  • Jim Reed

    Of course the religious perspective has no basis in logic, in fact it often rejects logic. At least the atheist position doesn’t do that.

  • Craptacular

    Someone’s been drinking more than their fair share of the Kool-Aid. I thought you were a Poe when I first read this post. Now I am just sad.

  • Craptacular

    “…but it has to be acknowledged that this position [atheism] has no basis in logic.” – Frank6550

    I will pick up the book and read it, on your recommendation. However, I am not sure we agree on what constitutes “logic” by the way you bandy the term about. Especially since in my life, I eliminated the emotional appeal for god and religion from my life in order to figure out there was no logical need for any sort of god, gods, or supernatural beings to explain anything or heed any of the so-called guidance that their adherents advocate .

    I see a warning flag in your last statement, though, “Atheists who read it with an open mind…” which usually indicates if I disagree with some or all of the book, then you will claim my mind is not open. If that is truly your view, then this is an indicator of how closed your mind is and I will be wasting my time.

  • Dave

    Jack,

    I am curious why anyone who puts faith in natural selection would not ask themselves why there is not a myriad of fossils representing the fantastic and amazing creatures that must have existed for reptiles changing into birds and gaining flight, etc… Just a few here and there. Where is the curiosity? There should be an ongoing pattern of changes occurring in the fossil record. Not just from long long ago.

    It is self evident that the dearth of transitional forms in the fossil record is an embarrassment to neo-darwinian evolution. And if Darwin were alive today I believe he would admit as much.

    No one is going to win this argument, but for me it is a stretch given the lack of evidence for macro evolution, the changing of one species into another, along with the odds of a DNA chain occurring by random chance.

    When I think of the vastness of the universe, it is not difficult for me to believe that a much more advanced power could have set our existence into motion.

    Thanks for you comments and links.

  • Frank6550

    My statement stands.

  • Frank6550

    Not fear. Just a different worldview. Life without God is a pitiful life.

  • Frank6550

    The playground is that way ->

    When you are finished playing games come back.

  • Frank6550

    The only persecution I see is against Christians.

  • Dave

    Yawn, methinks thou dost protest too much. Individuals are responsible for their action regardless of what they claim motivates them. My response was just to point out that your obvious anger towards Christianity overwhelms your psyche, and ability to see the world logically.

    I am guessing that if any of these men had put true faith and understanding into the teachings of Jesus Christ, they would not have committed said atrocities. It was a lack of God in their lives that allowed them to take the path they chose.

    The average salary of a local pastor is probably about $60k per year, and most of the congregations are happy to contribute a few dollars for the seven days per week many of these men and women work. There will always be corruption where sinful men are present, but sadly that is all you choose to see.

  • M K

    Ridiculous.
    I am not angry toward Christianity or any other religion. I rarely get angry at all, in fact. But your dishonest rhetorical trick of “explaining away” my arguments by ascribing them to “anger” is annoying. How about you try honesty and attempt a real answer? Just this once?
    Your 2nd paragraph is just silly. 90% of the murderers and rapists in US prisons are self-identified “Christians”. Almost all of the “Good Christians” who executed about 40,000 persons as witches “had put true faith and understanding into the teachings of Jesus Christ.” The 9/11 terrorists and the ISIS murderers beheading innocents are creatures of “true faith” as well.
    The problem is that once you disconnect from reality so thoroughly that you truly believe in an imaginary magical buddy, its hard to track reason, evidence, or rational discourse in any meaningful way. There are other ways to disable your humanity, as Mao and Stalin prove, but religion is a straight, sure, and well-travelled path to gone.
    Yes, the average pastor makes 30% more per year than the average US citizen. My point is that they don’t earn that money, they scam it. They don’t paint walls, serve food, teach kids to read, construct houses, heal diseases, apprehend criminals, and so on. They fleece their victims so they live well.

    That their marks are “happy” to give them money only says that the scam is thorough. Their marks really do believe that the prayer cloth will help them get a job or the prayer will get Yaweh to help their team score the winning touchdown.

    But that pastor making good bank off the marks is near the bottom of the ladder of the scheme. The dudes up the ladder wear pointy hats and live like Kings. And so do the Jeremiah Wrights, the Benny Hinns, the Pat Robertsons, the Eddie Longs, the Billy Grahams, etc etc.

    It isn’t “corruption” of otherwise good men and women of the Lord at work. It’s that religion is a scam and they are the grifters getting rich off it.

  • Craptacular

    “The only persecution I see is against Christians.” – Frank6550

    Because that is all you allow yourself to see. Anything else would cause cognitive dissonance to great to be ignored.

  • Graeme Cree

    Um no, I never said I was being a simple dolt and blaming every rape, murder or hubcap theft by someone who, by complete coincidence happened to be an atheist on atheISM. I was going by Rummel’s own method of counting (are you SURE you’re familiar with his book?)

    Hitler never killed anyone in the name of Roman Catholocism, although the Spanish Inquisition did. It’s a simple distinction. The Soviet Union and China racked up huge body counts in the name of creating, maintaining and stamping out any resistance to avowedly atheist states. THAT, we blame on “atheism”, just as we blame the Spanish Inquisition on “religion”. Random rapes, murders and the like by members of those societies are not counted at all. That should have been evident from the title, “Death by Government”.

  • Graeme Cree

    You can never tell these days. If someone writes something stupid, is it because they ARE stupid? Or because they’re arrogant? (They think their audience is stupid and deliberately dumb down their message).

    I saw something today by a credentialed economist and former presidential adviser on his Facebook page. His response to an economic claim (something right in his level of expertise). His only response to it was some vague assurances and ad hominem attacks against someone who isn’t even going to be running again. In other words, stuff that the lowest media hack could have written.

    So is this guy stupid? I don’t think so. He must know better on some level. He might have gotten so crusty that he just can’t be bothered to give substantive replies any more. Or too lazy to do it. Or maybe dishonest (he thinks simple BS arguments will fly better than more complicated quality arguments.

  • Graeme Cree

    As I said, it’s in the book “Contact”, along with Sagan’s assurance that it’s too complex to have come from a non-intelligent source. If it will help convince you, I’ll send such a message myself.

  • Craptacular

    “Let deal in the here and now.” – Frank6550

    Let’s. Arkansas, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas all have laws and/or constitutional prohibitions against atheists holding office. The Boy Scouts of America don’t allow openly avowed atheists in their ranks or as leaders. These are only a few examples of the prejudice.

    Death threats from christians against Amanda Scott, Blair Scott, and others for attempting to get Americans to obey their own laws.

    Here and now.

    Why are they so afraid of “just a different worldview,” as you phrased it?

  • Graeme Cree

    Maybe you have in the past, but the nature of the Internet beast is that
    every day is like going up before a brand new crowd that doesn’t know
    you from Adam (pun intended). You can’t assume that anyone will be
    familiar with anything you’ve written in the past (Unless you’re posting
    on a place like your own Facebook page, where people can see your
    previous writings.

  • Graeme Cree

    If your audience is not understanding what you’re saying, then you’re failing to get your message across. I understand what you’re saying (although you did phrase it in a very clunky and awkward way). Just watch. I’ll explain what you said to Jim Reed, and what’s wrong with it, in a clear way that he’ll understand.

  • Craptacular

    “My statement stands.” – Frank6550

    Your statements stand logic on its head. Your words are without substance or merit. It wasn’t even a “nice try.”

  • Craptacular

    During the Thirty Years’ War, a religious war, by the way, Swedish armies destroyed a third of all German towns then in existence. Yet we still allow protestants and catholics (the combatants) to hold office here in this country. You cite the murder count of three (arguably) atheist dictators, all in the past century, yet the anti-atheist laws have been on the books in the United States for far longer, since before any of those dictators were even born. Why is that?

  • Graeme Cree

    He’s communicating his point very badly, but what he’s getting at is this: A definition limits something.by putting it into a category, and simultaneously EXCLUDING it from other categories. For example, take an arrow. Without a definition, it could be just about ANYTHING or everything. But if I define an arrow as a long wooden thing with a sharp end on one side and a feathery end on the other, then things have narrowed. With our new definition, ONLY things which match that definition can be called “Arrows”. Other things are Not Arrows.

    That’s what he’s getting at. He’s saying that God is unlimited, definitions limit things and so defining God makes him cease to be God. The mistake he’s making is in confusing Eastern ideas of God with Western ones. In Eastern thought, God literally is EVERYTHING. He’s me. He’s you. He’s that Chiclet wrapper you through out this morning. Anything less would not be God in Eastern thought.

    Western thought is completely different. In Western thought, God is very definitely NOT everything there is. He might be the most interesting or powerful or what have you thing in all of reality, and the source of all the other things. But he’s not everything. Western thought sees him more like an artist, and people, planets, and universes as being like paintings or sculptures he has made. We may say that an artist “put a lot of himself into his work”, but we don’t literally mean that the artist IS his work.

    So, Hominid’s statement that the theist can’t define God, really doesn’t apply to the people he’s talking to in any way. What he really means is that Eastern mystics can’t define God, which is why they tend not to do that anyway. It’s a useless comment. Doesn’t apply to most, and the people who it does apply to already know it.

  • Hominid

    You’re incoherent.

  • Hominid

    You’re absurd.

  • Hominid

    You flatter yourself.

  • Hominid

    You’re an imbecile.

  • Hominid

    That’s not my problem – it’s theirs.

  • Graeme Cree

    Not at all. You can read for yourself that that’s exactly what I did. I explained your point for you, since you were unable to do so, and then pointed out the flaw in it. As Phil Harris said, “Braggin’ is when ya think ya got it, and ya ain’t!”

  • Hominid

    Aquinas (note the correct spelling) was full of baloney – a BSer.

  • Hominid

    Blather.

  • Hominid

    Nonsense! You have to be psychotic to believe the unbelievable.

  • Hominid

    You mistake excess verbiage for clarity – a common mistake of the sophomore.

    And, you “ain’t got it”!

  • Graeme Cree

    Are you following this thread at all? I’m the ONLY one who understood what you’re saying, and only because I’d heard it expressed coherently by others. Reed pointed out that your claim was incoherent, and you blamed your failure to communicate on him. That might have made you feel good, but did not help get your message across. My clarity was in expressing YOUR point. You of all people can’t claim not to understand it.

    I’m doing you a favor here. You communication skills are atrocious, and you seem to have enormous difficulty stringing more than two sentences together at a time. If you care about making points, you’d better work on these problems. If you don’t care; if you just talk to hear yourself talk, then keep doing what you’re doing.

  • Graeme Cree

    Anyway, let’s forget the charity work. You can be as incoherent as you like, it’s not my problem. The important part is that you’re idea has been proven wrong. You don’t deny that you confused Eastern thought with Western thought when saying that God couldn’t be defined. So, case closed.

    Obviously I do got it. Your begging and pleading for me to accept that I’ve made a mistake that you can’t quite put your finger on is a failed bluff, nothing more.

  • Graeme Cree

    The Rich have been pretty empowered for as far back as history goes. It’s certainly not a 1970’s thing.

  • Graeme Cree

    Hitler’s religious views are complex and uncertain. His mom was a Catholic, his dad an anti-clerical skeptic. He himself seems to have been a New Ager Before The New Age Movement. Goebbel’s Diaries refer to him as “Deeply religious and deeply anti-Christian”. So probably not an atheist.

  • Graeme Cree

    “But your dishonest rhetorical trick of “explaining away” my arguments by ascribing them to “anger” is annoying.”

    You haven’t been on the internet long, I see.

    “The problem is that once you disconnect from reality so thoroughly that you truly believe in an imaginary magical buddy, its hard to track reason, evidence,”

    Speaking of reason, that was a circular argument you just made.

    “”Yes, the average pastor makes 30% more per year than the average US citizen. My point is that they don’t earn that money, they scam it”

    I don’t see that that’s true, unless they’ve promised something under false pretense, like healing or some kind of snake oil. The average parishioner WANTS to go to church, WANTS someone to run it, and is willing to pay to make it happen. By my reckoning, that’s not a scam. You’re thinking it’s a scam because they don’t want what you want them to want.

    I hear what you’re saying about prayer cloths and the like, but surely anyone who’s been in a church for more than a few days knows that being a member doesn’t guarantee that one’s team will win the Superbowl. Anybody who joined because they were promised that really was scammed. But I question whether such people exist.

    When you go up the food chain to the Benny Hinns of the world, you may have a point. I think a lot of Christians decided at some point that they wanted to have their own rock stars too, and they got what they asked for in spades. They not only have rock stars, they’ve got the same faults that real rock stars do.

  • http://atlantarofters.blogspot.com/ The Sanity Inspector

    I’m just describing how these beliefs unfolded in history, not requiring anyone to believe them.

  • Graeme Cree

    No, it’s YOUR problem because it’s keeping YOU from getting your message across. It’s hard to believe you don’t see something so obvious. They don’t care about hearing what you have to say. It’s you that cares about making them understand.

    In this case you were doubly wrong. First of all, you failed to express your point coherently (I only understood it because I’d seen it expressed clearly by others and was able to mentally fill in the missing pieces). And secondly, your point was wrong. Defining the God of Western thought does not in any way make him cease to be God. With Eastern conceptions, yes. Which is exactly why those people don’t try to define him.

  • Gabriela Garver

    Get specific. Until you refute his logic (and don’t just call him names), I’m sticking with Aquinas, Hominid. A lot of his work was based on Aristotle. How do you feel about Aristotle? Something tells me you’ve read neither.

  • FA Miniter

    Then you are wearing an amazing set of blinkers, maybe blinders even. They seem to be able to reverse the direction of actions.

    Yes, Christians are persecuted to some extent in Muslim countries, especially for proselytizing. In some countries, importing a Bible is a crime. But in America, it is the Christians who are on the warpath to impose their conservative values on the rest of America. The persecution is one-way.

  • FA Miniter

    Yawn. Frank6550 is not a serious dialoguer.

  • Dave

    That’s funny stuff, Mr. Craptacular. I had never heard the the description “Poe”, before. Speaking of Poe, I do love “The Raven”.

    So sorry to disappoint and sadden you.

  • Frank6550

    When you present something cogent and worthy of dialogue I’ll be there.

  • Frank6550

    See above. Your name is very descriptive of your views I see.

  • Frank6550

    I can’t answer for the states but the Boy Scouts believe in God.

    And where are those executions again? Non existent that’s where.

  • FA Miniter

    Listen, you stated that religious people could not possibly be afraid of atheists. So I asked you why then they persecute and kill them. Since then, you have done everything to try to wiggle out of answering the question. I must infer from your behavior and your implicit refusal to answer the question that you have no other answer. So fear it is.

  • Frank

    Ad hominem attacks are never useful, Hominid.

  • Frank

    What I mean is that Hart demonstrates logically that belief in God is a more coherent position than atheism. By “open mind” I simply mean that one reads his book with a spirit of open inquiry. I’m sure if you ultimately came to disagree with it you would do so in good faith and not because you had a closed mind.

  • Frank

    If you would read his book, Jim, you would see that faith does indeed have a strong basis in logic. What I’m talking about here is belief in God as the source and ground of our being. However, this is distinct from elements within specific religions that, I acknowledge, can be illogical.

  • Dave

    You are dreaming. Christians are losing all the battles that are important to them. Gay Marriage, Abortion, prayer in schools, etc..

    In my children’s public schools you can have displays of Kwanzaa, and Muslim holidays, but you are not allowed to say Merry Christmas, or even decorate in red and green. Of course I live in the suburbs or Washington, D.C..

    I am tune with these things, and no one even discusses atheists. I don’t know what percentage of the population atheists represent, but no one seems concerned about them, and especially not persecuting them.

    Christian churches are being burned to the ground in Africa and Iraq, while Christians are killed and tortured.

    What I would say to atheists is…… cry me a river. Secular humanism is winning the day everywhere, while at the same time turning a blind eye to muslim terrorism, afraid to call it what is out of some twisted notion of political correctness.

    The world we are witnessing now is the result of denying god, and letting muslim fanatics wreak havoc. It will get worse as God continues to be pushed away.

  • Jim Reed

    That sounds like apologetics.

  • FA Miniter

    Abortion: An issue where Christians want to impose their values on other people. They are not content simply not to have abortions themselves.

    Gay Marriage. Same thing. Christians want to impose their values on other people. They are not content simply not to engage in gay marriages themselves.

    Prayer in Schools. Same thing. Christians want to make all people – from Atheists to Muslims – recite the Lord’s Prayer as it was done 60 years ago. Again, they want to impose their values on others. They are not content to pray in private themselves.

    You have listed three areas where Christians are trying to persecute others.

    And I do not believe you about your son’s school. The rest of your rant is tainted with misinformation. No one is letting Muslim fanatics wreak havoc. There is a war on in Iraq and Syria and Yemen, if you had not noticed, to defeat those fanatics. And ISIS just lost Kobani, but I doubt you follow the war that closely.

  • Hominid

    Accurate statements are not ad hominems just because they displease someone – they are indeed useful.

  • Frank

    Referring to someone you disagree with as “psychotic” is certainly an ad hominem attack, Hominid. Try reading the Hart book. It is a very important work that is powerful challenge to the atheistic position. And the man who wrote it is not a “psychotic,” nor am I.

  • Frank

    It is apologetics in the sense that is a philosophical defense of belief in God. But apologetics in the classical sense (as I understand it, anyway) would be a defense of a particular religion, or of elements within a religion. “The Experience of God” is not about religion per se, but about defining God and demonstrating that belief in God is a true philosophical position.

  • Jim Reed

    I think apologetics is the art of convincing yourself and others when there is a lack of evidence.

    I guess another way of looking at it is when there is a lack of evidence, it becomes philosophical.

  • Northern_Witness

    Daniel Maguire makes same the logical and factual mistakes
    that Atheists usually make about other religions. In doing so, he throws the
    baby (no reference to Jesus) out with the bathwater. He merely trades one
    religion (Catholicism) for another (Atheism).

    He confuses the accretion of tribal/social habits of thought
    and the personal biases of clerics on the core of a religion with that essence
    of the religion.

    He confuses the peace that comes from practicing a religion
    and attending religious services with a quest for security.

    He wrongly believes that religion, including his previous
    religion, Catholicism, believe in God as an individuated entity. A mature,
    non-literal, non-fundamentalist religion does not consider God to be an
    individual. It is only fundamentalist religions such as Atheism that consider
    God to be an entity. For God to be an entity means that there is some place
    where God is not. This is not the case.

    Yes, God may be presented in discrete terms for children but
    as the children grow up they are introduced to more subtle concepts of God and
    the sacred. Even these concepts are mere placeholders until the aspirant has a
    direct experience of God.

    He confuses ethics and morality with the core message of
    religions. In doing so, he forgets that morality and ethics are human developed
    codes of behaviour and therefore reflect the beliefs of the person or group.
    Because Atheism disavows the existence of God and the divine, Atheists are left
    with a morality or code of ethics based on some form of materialism – not a
    very desirable state of affairs. It is the ethics of the powerful and
    self-interested.

    He is unable to understand the subtlety of religion and
    religious experience. He avoids answering the question relating to the fact
    that people intuit the sacred. While people are able in their quiet moments to
    intuit or sense the sacred, they may not know how to develop that feeling. The
    purpose of religion is to provide various methods of developing one’s spiritual
    intuitions and to provide venues free from distraction in which to practice
    them.

    Incidentally, fear is one occasion where one temporarily
    suspends attachment to the phenomenal and to linear thinking (because those
    attachments are precisely the reasons for the fear developing in the first
    place) and thereby intuits the sacred. Far from being the basis of religion,
    fear is but one situation by which one comes to sense that there is more to
    them than is normally evident to them.

    The author lacks the subtlety and insight that would have
    informed his view of Catholicisim, the priesthood, and religion in
    general. It is human nature to blame
    something other than one self for personal deficits. Maquire blames religion
    because of his inability to understand it. One wonders if he became a priest
    only because it was expected of him as a member of his particular family.
    Perhaps he is suffering psychological effects because he was unable to cope
    with the stresses of being a priest.

  • Dave

    Are you reading what you are saying? Certainly Christians like myself have our specific opinions on the issues you mention. But we have lost on all of those issues. Issues related to God and faith are being systematically removed from all walks of life.

    Are you telling us that the fact Christians “want” things is oppressive to atheists? Atheists also “want” things, does that mean they are persecuting Christians?

    Again, as an anti-God atheist you should be cheering for all of your victories.

    I am content to pray in private, and believe that is where it should be done. However as a country that was founded on Judeo-Christian beliefs we do have a history praying before certain events. I like the tradition in some cases, but the most important thing for people like me is that I am able to practice my religion as I choose.

    In the U.S. Christians are not as much persecuted as they are mocked. It is acceptable for comedians and commentators to make vile jokes about Christians, and our faith. But for some reason they are not as likely to make the same jokes about other religions that will remain unnamed.

    In Africa and the middle-east you are more likely to see Christians persecuted and murdered.

  • Jim Reed

    You are mixing a lot of blame for the other guy with a message that your religion is beyond comprehension of everyone else. It sounds almost good enough to be the start of a new 21st century American religion. That would be great because the 19th and 20th century American religions have kind of run their course.

  • Northern_Witness

    Any religion is not beyond the “comprehension” of anyone. All that is required is practice to move past the limits of linear thought and past attachment to the phenomenal accompanied with a suspension of disbelief, a willingness to go where the practices to you, and fearlessness.

  • Trolly McTrollers

    “You can read for yourself that that’s exactly what I did.” HA! So funny. So very funny.

  • Jim Reed

    Moving past the limits of linear thought sounds like believing what the church tells you to believe. They set up a system where they praise you for agreeing with the church, and they use words like that to tell you how great you are doing. If you get caught up in it, you don’t notice it doesn’t mean anything

  • Northern_Witness

    It is clear that you not very knowledgeable about the nature of consciousness. Your misapprehensions about and bias against religion are also evident. I’ll leave you to wallow in your ignorance.

  • Jim Reed

    Is consciousness the pathway to divinely revealed truths? Religion would like people to think that, at least about their own religion. But science seems to be showing us religion is always wrong. Religion comes up with beliefs that are unsupported by evidence. In earlier ages this approach had a lot of appeal, but in a more scientific age it always leads to contradictions and problems.

  • Northern_Witness

    We can now add ignorance of science to the long list of areas in which you exhibit an astounding lack of knowledge.

    Science and religion come together nicely in the area of quantum mechanics. Quantum theory is mentioned in the Hindu Vedas. Additionally, science obtained all of its techniques from religion. Calculus; trigonometry; algebra; heliocentrism; geometry’s square, cube, triangle, trapezium, circle and sphere; the value of Pi; the big bang theory of cosmogony all came from Hinduism 4,000 years ago.

    Science and religion agree on many things. In addition to the aspects mentioned above, they agree that there is no such thing as matter, for example, and that all is energy.

    There are only two differences between science and religion:
    (1) science has not yet discovered that that one energy has consciousness and is self-aware and
    (2) science mistakenly believes that human consciousness is located solely in the brain. Religion has known that consciousness/awareness is due to neurons in the brain, spinal cord, heart, and gut and they must be used together. Science has only just discovered that every cell in the body has consciousness so it has a long way to go to catch up with religion.

    Incidentally, your reliance on “evidence” is merely a plea to stay located in the illusion of a phenomenal universe. It is dualism and a dead end. Mechanical applications of science are similar to and about as useful as neatly rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic as it sinks.

  • Jim Reed

    Mechanical applications of science have given us everything this modern world has to offer. Quantum mechanical applications of religion have given us nothing but illusion.

  • Northern_Witness

    That which mechanical applications of science have given is superficial and serves only to make Atheists even more complacent. They dull them selves down with their egocentricity.

    Science and religion both agree that everything is an illusion, including those inventions of mechanical science. You need to educate yourself re science, religion, consciousness and cosmology before you make any embarrassing mistaken claims.

  • Jim Reed

    Science discovers what is reality, and is unconcerned with whether reality is at some level an illusion. It still follows the rules and is predictable. That is everything we have that is of value. The religious pretend game wants to place itself at a higher level than science, or at least at the same level. The pretend game has limits because it can only discover what science has already discovered.

  • ToadieJay

    Where Catholicism retreats, Islam advances. Where democracy withers, Islam advances. Where the West dithers, Islam advances. All you weak, cowardly liberals will spend your elderly years alone, hiding in your government apartments, watching the daily Inshallah purity marches and public floggings outside your window. It’s happening right this very minute in Syria and Iraq, which were once prosperous, secular Arab countries. It will be happening very soon in Europe. Then outside your door. Because of you.

  • Northern_Witness

    Science has not yet discovered reality but in the quantum mechanics area it is close. There are a growing number of scientists who think that physical reality is a hologram, i.e. an illusion. Yes, there are many scientists who plodders, who do not have the capacity to understand the depths of quantum mechanics and who are content to follow rules and their own biases. But they are heading toward extinction.

    And you have it backwards, it is science that is discovering what religion has known for millennia.

    As you add nothing new, and just regurgitate your mistakes, I think we are done here.

  • Jim Reed

    Understanding of quantum mechanics gave us the integrated circuit and computer chips. That is science and not religion. Every other critical advance of the modern world is science and not religion.

  • Jim Reed

    The West has tried to advance democracy with drones, and now is facing some push back.

  • phatkhat

    Not at all!!

  • phatkhat

    Then you are not looking. And there is NO persecution of Christians in America!

  • Craptacular

    “Christians are losing all the battles that are important to them.” – Dave

    They lost a lot of them already: the fight against interracial marriage, the end of slavery in the US, the unconstitutionality of religious tests for voting/holding office, etc. So perhaps you should take some of your own advice and, “…… cry me a river.” Your constant attempts to view the world through your sin-tinted glasses can’t hide the fact that social justice is, in fact, on the upswing, despite the idiotic ramblings and shenanigans from adherents from one religion or another.

    “The world we are witnessing now is the result of denying god…” – Dave

    And you are able to witness it thanks to the efforts of scientists, engineers, and technicians that refused to be content with whatever drivel their clergy attempted to force down their throats when they were kids.

  • Dave

    Crappy,

    It was predominantly Protestants and Quakers who were responsible for the abolitionist movement to end slavery.

    Christians never claim to be perfect, far from it. Being a follower of Christ means understanding our need for forgiveness.

    However, in today’s secular environment it is more than likely to be the Christian who is under assault. That was my point, but your kneejerk anger blknded you to the truth.

    Science is great. It continues to reveal more and more of the creation.

  • Craptacular

    “It was predominantly Protestants and Quakers who were responsible for the abolitionist movement to end slavery.” – Dave

    So you are saying those that fought to retain slavery were not religious or not true christians? I will absolutely admit that there were religious people that stood against slavery, since secular humanism was in its early stages and did not have the political clout necessary to eliminate slavery on its own. But there were plenty of religious-based pro-slavery arguments, as well. Pretty much the same arguments that get dusted off and reused every time our society inches towards further diversity and inclusion.

    “Christians never claim to be perfect, far from it.” – Dave

    Yet despite their past track record on human rights and social justice (those that I referenced in my previous paragraph), a significant percentage seem unwilling to incorporate new data points into their worldview. Instead, we see them fighting to maintain their social and political privileges by calling them “rights,” and by putting the onus on everyone else to adhere to whatever their god(s) command.

    And, by the way, terming it “christians under assault” is almost a slap in the face of the minorities that have actually been under physical and emotional assault by the majority religion in this country.

    “Science is great. It continues to reveal more and more of the creation.” – Dave

    As long as the new data points fit into the paradigm of your worldview. Anything that doesn’t support your preconceived ideas and beliefs seems to labeled an “assault on christians.”

  • Dave

    You are unable to see that it was largely the Judeo Christian values of the founding of America that led to it becoming what was once a beacon to the rest of the world, and led to the ending of slavery, and compelled us to fight off the tyrants of the 20th century.

    Those who chose to fight for other’s freedom did it due to their belief in a higher purpose. It is doubtful that a country led by secular humanists would have risen to the occasion. But that is a broad swipe, and I do know that there are many atheists, and agnostics who have taken up arms to defend freedom.

    You should get out a little more often and see just what has been taking place in Christian denominations around the country, and globe. Most have now given into politically correct world views, some good, some bad. IMHO.

    For the most part Christians would like to limit the number of abortions in this country, and be left alone to worship Jesus Christ. I don’t worry about prayer in schools, gay marriage, etc.. As I mentioned, we have lost those battles anyway. I am fine gathering with other Christians at church, and feeling the love of Christ. I suggest to everyone, if you have not asked Jesus to reveal himself to you, it is something you should do.

    The history of slavery is complex, as it was part of a global economic system. And you are correct that Southern slave owners who considered themselves Christian made arguments for the practice. That does not make their arguments correct, Christian, are biblical. They were just men with a greedy purpose.

    The historical Bible acknowledges slavery in biblical times for the reality that it was. Slavery was different then, in most cases used as a means of paying off a debt. But it existed, and the Bible discusses how slaves should be treated as a part of the extended family.

    Billions of modern day muslims would tell you that islamic terrorism does not represent their religion, but it exists nonetheless. Because men choose to wrap their evil deeds in the protective blanket of religion, does not mean the inherent faith is bad or wrong. Some would argue that it is the terrorists are the ones actually carrying out the teachings of the koran, but that is a different discussion.

    It is hard for secularists to wrap their minds around the concept of evil. It exists, and has little to do with people who seek God.

    What do you say to the muslims living in your community about the terror that is running rampant in world? Do you tell them that their religion is responsible for the abuse of women, the murder of homosexuals, the crucifixion of babies, the kidnapping of teenage girls, the beheading of jounalists, and the burning to death of pilots?

    I think Christians are the least of the problems the world is facing.

  • Craptacular

    “You are unable to see that it was largely the Judeo Christian values of the founding of America…blah, blah, blah…I think Christians are the least of the problems the world is facing.” – Dave

    To be clear, these are your arguments regarding bad christian behavior:

    1. American Exceptionalism – despite the fact that England beat us to the punch by outlawing slavery 30 years prior to the US.
    2. America is a judeo-christian nation – despite the fact that it was formed using Enlightenment principles, not religious principles.
    3. “It is doubtful that a country led by secular humanists would have risen to the occasion.” – see number 2 above. Human secularism is a product of the Enlightenment.
    4. “For the most part Christians would like to limit the number of abortions in this country, and be left alone to worship Jesus Christ.” – This is my personal favorite…it reads like a saying I saw once: all I want out of life is what is mine, and maybe a little of yours. Your religion doesn’t get to force non-members to comply with its rules. Nor do we base our laws on whatever you believe your god(s) said or command. Remember, this country was founded on Enlightenment principles, not religious principles.
    5. A bunch of finger pointing at other religions you perceive as worse than christianity. – you can try to change the subject by pointing out other peoples’ religious flaws, but the uncomfortable feeling about your own religious views will remain until you address your cognitive dissonance.

  • Frank6550

    Your blindness is embarrassing.

  • Frank6550

    Case proven. Thank you!

  • Frank6550

    Where are Christians killing atheists outside of the history books.

    The ignorance here is astounding.

  • FA Miniter
  • Frank6550

    So all you have are one off examples as I thought. Pitiful that this is all you could come up with.

    Afterall every creed and philosophy and religion has murderers. That’s humanity.

  • Dave

    American Exceptionlism is by and large self-evident. Even today our per capita economic dominance dwarfs the rest of the world. Our poor people are obese due to the over-abundance of food production. No other nation has the unique problem of the rest of the world effectively beating down our doors to get into our country. You make one statement about slavery, and think that completely discounts the American experiment of freedom and opportunity. Talk about a self loathing American. We fought one of the bloodiest wars in history to end the practice of slavery.

    The country was founded by people seeking religious freedom. And they were Christians. Not perfect Christians, just people who wanted freedom from an oppressive government. To pretend that the founders were not guided by Christian values is dishonest.

    We have empirical evidence of what happens when secular humanists and atheists attempt to govern. So far this does not have a good track record. The founders of the U.S. had it right, because they understood what it was to be persecuted for your faith. So their genius was to write the Constitution to say that the Government would not institute an official religion. They also understood that Christianity at the time was part of our culture. Now, not so much.

    Crappy says – “I am sorry, but your religion doesn’t get to force non-members to comply with its rules. Nor do we base our laws on whatever you believe your god(s) said or command.”

    This is where I am amazed at your persecution complex. Ummm, Roe v. Wade has been the law of the land for 43 years! Us demanding Christians are doing a pretty lackluster job of forcing anyone to comply with our rules.

    Our laws obviously have their roots in Judeo-Christian values. Laws are indeed based on morality. Thou shalt not commit murder, thou shalt not steal, thou shalt not bear false witness, ever heard of these? When you write something as completely idiotic as; “Nor do we base our laws on whatever you believe your god(s) said or command.”, are you even hearing what you are saying?

    If Christians can win certain arguments at the ballot box against issues like abortion and gay marriage, that is playing fair and square. But obviously we are not having much luck in either case. But your brain is telling you that Christians are forcing their will on you, even though there is no evidence of this. Again, we Christians are losing all of the battles. You should be thrilled. In fact as a Christian in 21st century America I am more likely to be mocked and oppressed for my beliefs. I don’t worry about it, but Christians do need to be careful in some cases about outward expressions of their faith. It happens all the time at schools and in the work place. Everyone is supposed to tolerant of every aberrant behavior, unless it is a Christian behavior, then it is no holds barred.

    I just find it interesting that philosophical humanists love to pretend they are somehow being oppressed by Christians. I only point out Islam’s current role in the world because it is amazing how silent your group seems to be regarding the mass murder of school children, the kidnapping and rape of teenage girls, the slaughter of magazine publishers, the beheading of journalists, the burning alive of pilots, throwing homosexuals from the tops of tall buildings, genitally mutilating young girls, and crucifying babies. But let a Texas HS say a prayer before a football game and your head is about to explode. You will not condemn real evil, it is only the Christians who are persecuting you…… in your mind. I am not sure how this world view got into your psyche, but you should work on eliminating the unresolved anger. Christians are not your problem.

    Try to put things in perspective. If you have never asked Jesus Christ to come into your life, you should consider it. Christians are taught that “light came into the world, but men love darkness”. Jesus Christ is the light of the World.

    Peace be with you.

  • Craptacular

    Once again, there are so many historical mistakes in your postings, starting at the very first sentence, that I refuse to teach a history class on RD (and you wouldn’t listen if I did).

    Let me just leave these tidbits with you:

    The first Western-European settlers may have been seeking religious liberty, but they did NOT found this country. Read a bit more about US history before you try to push that judeo-christian lie too far.

    Slavery ended in the UK with the passing of a law and did not require hundreds of thousands of Brits to kill each other…are you claiming that this is American Exceptionalism at work? I see it as American stupidity.

    The German aggression in WWII was defeated by, wait for it…Russia! The “godless commies” beat the Germans, not the UK, not France, not even the “American Exceptionalism” of the US. Check out the German troop dispositions on the Eastern Front vs. the Western Front, if you don’t believe me. Also make note of the year the Germans achieved their high-water mark in Russia.

    And, despite the Roe v. Wade decision 43 years ago, christians in the US still seek to impose limitations on women’s healthcare services every year.

    This is the kicker, though: “In fact as a Christian in 21st century America I am more likely to be mocked and oppressed for my beliefs.”

    More likely than who? You obviously have never been a minority, of any sort, in this country. Nor do you understand what “oppression” is.

    By the way, I am through discussing things with you…you harp on the same canards without any understanding or the desire to even learn.

  • Dave

    Go in peace my friend. I pray that you do well. Perhaps one day you will understand the errors of your historical musings. Do not seek an enemy where there is none. I too have grown weary of the idea that a group wanting something like fewer abortions is a form of oppression.

    Maybe drink a beer or something and chill out.

  • Phoenix Down

    Two factors make your question difficult.

    The first is the identification of a person as being explicitly an atheist; blasphemy and heterodoxy are not enough in and of themselves to register as “atheism”, and the legal ability of one to admit outright atheism (along with various other social and intellectual influences that would have kept one from identifying even the possibility of the denial of the existence of God) made this identification difficult.

    So, for example: “Outright atheism had been known in ancient Greece. Some of the best known philosophers in the ancient world had been atheists. Before Christianity appeared many educated Romans were also atheists, regarding all gods, including the Christian one, as man-made. Christianity would not countenance such ideas. Atheism was plainly blasphemous, which meant that atheists could expect to die unpleasant deaths if they admitted to their lack of belief. Those original enough to work out their own atheist ideas were generally intelligent enough to keep their ideas to themselves, though there were occasional exceptions. In Ireland Adam Duff O’Tool espoused views that had been common in early times but which seemed blasphemous in the fourteenth century: He denied the Trinity, doubted the Virgin birth, and regarded bible stories as fables. For these beliefs he was burned alive in Dublin in 1327.” (http://www.heretication.info/_atheists.html)

    Second is that the acknowledgement that if ecclesiastical authorities were willing to execute blasphemers and heterodoxy, then we must reason that they would have executed those who were outspoken atheists as well; this goes hand in hand that some of the individuals as would be described by my first point were charged with the crime of atheism, whether they explicitly fit the description or not.

    In other words, who counts as an atheist? And, some of those who were charged with and executed for atheism, did not fit the technical definition; however, they were, as we say, “close enough”.

    This is apparently a modern, Christian source: http://ipost.christianpost.com/news/have-you-killed-an-atheist-today-10748/

    Then there’s Vanini: https://archive.org/details/lifeoflucilioali00dura

    See also:

    http://www.amazon.com/History-Atheism-Britain-Hobbes-Russell/dp/0415822114/ref=sr_1_6?ie=UTF8&qid=1423230476&sr=8-6&keywords=history+atheism

    http://www.amazon.com/Western-Atheism-History-James-Thrower/dp/1573927562/ref=sr_1_7?ie=UTF8&qid=1423230476&sr=8-7&keywords=history+atheism

    http://www.amazon.com/Atheism-Reformation-Enlightenment-Michael-Hunter/dp/0198227361/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1423230275&sr=8-1&keywords=Hunter+history+atheism

  • Frank6550

    Yes I agree it’s difficult to know which is why it’s foolish to make those blanket claims unless you have specific examples and even then they are just one example which doesn’t make a pattern.

    Thanks for the info.

  • PieRatz

    Deepak Chopra! I know this is you, you little minx!! I recognize your expert-level ability to drip pseudo-intellectual nothingness into any conversation! Can I get your autograph? 🙂

  • PieRatz

    Frank- I would then encourage you to read “Green Eggs and Ham” by Dr. Seuss. Please follow that up with “One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish” or if your prefer “Their Is A Wocket in my Pocket” All three of these make excellent cases for the suspension of belief without evidence.

  • Northern_Witness

    It is interesting that Atheists claim to believe in science and yet remain ignorant that science and religion reach agreement in the area of quantum mechanics. Atheists like mechanical science because it resembles their mechanical thought processes but they disown science when it move beyond the mundane in the field of quantum mechanics where no Atheist can follow.

  • Frank

    Well, if something can be demonstrated as true philosophically than that in itself is a kind of evidence, is it not? As for empirical evidence, which is what I presume you must have in order to assent to God’s existence, you are, by making that demand, placing God on the level of rock–something that can be analyzed and measured. But Hart makes the case that God is not a demiurge–a “thing” “out there” that is part of creation. Instead God must be understood as the ground of being that both permeates and transcends creation. If you want evidence, then start praying. It is actually contemplation done with discipline over time that reveals God’s existence to our consciousness.

  • Frank

    If you want evidence, Pie, then start praying. That is the only way for human consciousness to have an experience of God. It takes discipline and time, but there is a vast literature attesting to God’s presence in the lives of many people in human history. I presume the evidence you seek is empirical in nature–but that is not possible with God. God is not a “thing” “out there” that can be analyzed and measured. God is present as the source and ground of our being who both permeates and transcends creation. So, in order to “know” God we must direct our attention to this presence. Prayer and contemplation are the only pathways to God’s evidence.

  • Jim Reed

    If something is actually true then you can demonstrate that truth in a scientific sense rather than appealing to philosophy. Trying to explain God in transcendent language is just pushing a church argument. Saying contemplation with discipline reveals God’s existence to our consciousness is only trying to get people to think they see it that way, and that only adds another level of self-deception to the religion game.