When Will Anti-Atheism Be Viewed as Bigotry?

In recent years, as atheists have become more comfortable stepping out of the closet and living as out, open nonbelievers, we’ve seen an influx in believers lashing out against atheists, publicly stating they’re not welcome, or worse yet, should leave the country.

In just the latest example of this, the Boy Scouts of America, already known by the secular community to be discriminatory against atheists, reinforced their stance at their 2018 annual meeting. During the event, the BSA National Executive Board adopted a resolution entitled, “Reaffirming Duty to God.” In part, it says:

The recognition of God as the ruling and leading power in the universe and the grateful acknowledgement of His favors and blessings are necessary to the best type of citizenship and are wholesome precepts in the education of the growing members. No matter what the religious faith of the members may be, this fundamental of good citizenship should be kept before them.

So basically, BSA doesn’t care which “God” you believe in, as long as you’re not one of those nasty nonbelievers. Those filthy atheists couldn’t possibly be good citizens. But was this resolution necessary? Did it change anything in the Scout Oath or Scout Laws? No. It didn’t do anything but restate what they’ve already said for decades. This was purely an effort to publicly reassure religious groups who have aligned with BSA through the years that BSA is still full of God-fearing people who deserve financial support. Translated, this says, “Hey baby, I know you’re mad about us letting in the gays, transgender kids, and now the girls, but we still love Jesus and want to keep out the atheists, so are we cool?”

While the Boy Scouts have recently loosened their membership rules to include LGBTQ children and girls, it seems their exclusion of atheists will stand as long as their current leadership is in place. In a letter signed last October by BSA’s National President, National Commissioner, and Chief Scout Executive, they stated, “We believe this nation needs and deserves more youth focused on the foundations that still serve as bedrock of our movement — duty to God and country with a desire to help other people at all times.”

Supporters of the Boy Scouts might say, “So what? They can admit whoever they want.” While that’s true, what we need to be aware of is that BSA receives federal funding and support, and according to federal law, should not be discriminating based on religion. But I digress. The issue I’m focused on here is the openly accepted bigotry against atheists — the idea that atheists aren’t welcome and that without religious belief, a person cannot be moral, or a good citizen in BSA’s case.

We see this type of open bigotry applauded every day and celebrated by the religious. We’ve all seen the poll numbers suggesting that atheists are the most mistrusted, or even hated, demographic in the US. Most of this sentiment comes from a basic misunderstanding of who atheists are, what we actually believe, and what many of us stand for. Hell, I even wrote a book about it (shameless plug).

But what if this type of bigotry was directed toward any other group?

What if preachers were standing in the pulpit railing against Muslims, Jews, or Buddhists, telling them to leave the country?

What if radio hosts went on the air to say that African Americans weren’t “real Americans” because they weren’t included in the founding of America, and as such should be excluded from military service?

What if Fox News ran a piece on their website that began with, “There’s no polite way to say it. Women today are the most arrogant, ignorant and dangerous people on earth.” You’d better believe the columnist would have lost his job. But instead, the real article had “atheists” instead of women in the opening line. That’s apparently acceptable and encouraged.

What if cable news pundits said they were “tired of” equal rights advocates or activists, and instead of taking them seriously, said, “if they don’t like it, they don’t have to live here?” That would be an outrageous and un-American statement if it were about any other group, but since it was about atheists, a colleague instead says, “good point.”

At what point will the masses refer to anti-atheist discrimination as bigotry? What will it take? Hate crimes? We’ve had those too.

I’m not sure what the answer is.  Maybe it will take a dedicated national campaign. Maybe it will take a serious disaster committed by a religious zealot against atheists. I surely hope not. But bigotry needs to be called out when it happens, and it needs to be corrected.

How do we correct it? Through civil and criminal legal action, for sure. But aside from that method, I think we can all take part in enacting change. Living in a society where so many people feel it’s ok to openly discriminate against nonbelievers, we need to show them why it’s not ok. While it’s true that the blame for bigotry should be placed solely on the bigot, there are things we can do to expedite the change that needs to happen. We need to do a better job educating instead of debating. We need to show the religious that we’re their friends, neighbors, coworkers, family members, and public servants — not the nameless, faceless evil-doing strawman atheists their pastors warned them about. We need to have civil conversations incorporating ideas that could spark change in a person’s mind. I’ve had plenty of these conversations with friends, acquaintances, and family members alike.

“This is why discrimination is wrong, regardless of the target.”

“How is this different from discriminating against any other group? What makes it acceptable?”

“Does your god say to love your neighbor or to lash out against him based on his belief system?”

The bottom line, though, is that we need to call it what it is and stop glossing over this type of discrimination. Bigotry is bigotry, regardless of your feelings about the target or how many people agree with you. And standing by in silence, allowing it to continue without calling it out makes others complicit and just as despicable. Putting the proper name to it and raising awareness, though, will help bring about change.

 


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Kevin Davis

Kevin Davis is the head writer and editor for SecularVoices, co-founder of Young Skeptics, and author of Understanding an Atheist. He is known for local and national secular activism and has spoken at conferences and events such as Reason Rally 2016 and the Ark Encounter Protest and Rally.

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560 thoughts on “When Will Anti-Atheism Be Viewed as Bigotry?

  1. The Boy Scouts wouldn’t be any better if they let in atheists. It was built on racism and the idea of the “noble savage.” How do you expect an organization to teach morality through “playing Indian”? You can’t fix the organization. It’s best to just put it out of its misery.

    1. “Playing Indian”? That sounds like a bigoted remark, but please explain what you mean. BSA has already been fixing itself. Removing the god stuff may be next.

      1. Re: “‘Playing Indian’? That sounds like a bigoted remark…”
        https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/978136353921b23f630a3b6627fd55d7933df87d99cca7846382737882252353.jpg
        What else do you call it when an organization encourages white people to dress up as a “noble savage” caricature? Does “cultural appropriation” have less of a sting?
        If you want to do your own research on the topic, here are some links to get you started:
        https://ais.arizona.edu/thesis/truth-against-tradition-origins-and-meanings-indian-motif-boy-scouts-america
        https://lastrealindians.com/boys-scouts-order-of-the-arrow-guilty-of-cultural-appropriation-by-ozheebeegay-ikwe/
        https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2015/8/8/1409988/-The-Boy-Scouts-of-America-Has-a-Long-Way-to-Go

        1. Are you claiming that the Boy Scouts encourages the boys to dress up like Indians? Ok, maybe occasionally in some troops. I was a boy scout when I was a boy and I never dressed up like an Indian and was never encouraged to do so.

          Also, in those cases where this has happened, it may be an act of respect rather than disrespect.

          1. Re: “in those cases where this has happened, it may be an act of respect rather than disrespect.”
            Because turning someone’s culture into a caricature is always entirely respectful. (/sarcasm)
            Baden-Powell and Ernest Seton built the BSA on the myth of the “noble savage.”
            From “The Boy Scouts of America Has a Long Way to Go,” which I cited before:

            This appropriation and wearing of faux regalia causes harm to Native American communities, continuing the erasure of American Indians from the general consciousness and continuing the myth that Native Americans were eradicated. By wearing headdresses, sacred regalia, scouts are disrespecting Native American religions. Furthermore, as with so much of white people “playing Indian”, the Order of the Arrow is continuing as a minstrel show, furthering stereotypes.

            and

            Worse, when confronted with the racism inherent to these traditions, leaders and rank and file scouts refused to recognize the pain felt by protesting Native American students, instead consistently deflecting to their lodges supposed connections to local Native Americans or Nations while claiming to be “honoring” Native American culture.

            https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2015/8/8/1409988/-The-Boy-Scouts-of-America-Has-a-Long-Way-to-Go

          2. “Noble” is a term of respect, but “savage” is a term of disrespect

            So, if the scouts occasionally dress up like Indians, this is a caricature and is always disrespectful? I’m skeptical of that view.

            If the founders of BSA built the organization on the myth of the noble savage, I doubt that this characterizes the group today. To me it seems that the BSA resembles more a paramilitary group or quasi-law enforcement group than a noble savage group.

            Don’t you think it is possible for the BSA to offer a badge for understanding and honoring Native Americans? I think so.

            The problem of discriminating against atheists is much more of a problem than an improbable bias against Native Americans.

          3. The “noble savage” is a common trope in literature. The concept goes all the way back to Ancient Greece. You might want to familiarize yourself with it. It will help you look at stories, new and old, with a greater understanding.
            https://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Noble_savage

            Re: “Don’t you think it is possible for the BSA to offer a badge for understanding and honoring Native Americans? I think so.”
            I’m familiar with what passes for “understanding and honoring” Indigenous Americans within the BSA. No, I don’t think it’s possible.
            If you want to actually learn about Native Americans, try the Center for American Indian Research and Native Studies: http://www.nativecairns.org/CAIRNS/Educational_Resources.html

            Re: “The problem of discriminating against atheists is much more of a problem than an improbable bias against Native Americans.”
            Says someone whose culture hasn’t been turned into a parody, repeatedly, over the course of a few hundred years.
            For a little humor on the topic, check out this Native American makeup tutorial, as she addresses a few examples of Native American culture having been turned into a parody: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zYWt2mnalP8

          4. Bravo Sierra, I’m going to have to do some hard thinking about what you’ve brought up.

            I’m an Eagle Scout, and a member of the Order of the Arrow. Our local branch was connected with our local native tribe the Modocs. They welcomed us into their homes and taught us their traditions and culture. I participated in their dance competitions, and made my own regalia. It’s one of my favorite memories from childhood, and never felt like appropriation or exploitation.

            I never once thought of them as ‘noble savages’. I was extremely proud to be accepted and welcomed there. But I have to wonder, how many other scouts had the genuine connection that we had? How many viewed my connected and hard work at learning their traditions as a valid excuse to play dress up as an Indian? Did my participation in their ceremonies help to perpetuate a stereo type?

            On the other hand, if we remove these connections, how many young white kids will miss out on the experiences I had?

            I’ve got some hard thinking to do on this one. Thanks for bringing it up.

          5. You’re welcome. My young white kid’s grandmother was adopted into the Quapaw tribe, but he has yet to spend much time around that part of his family or learn their traditions. I made the mistake of signing him up for Cub Scouts, but we kept at it till he grew out of it. The adults were astonished and a little insulted when we opted out of some of the more blatant “watching an older white kid dressed as a caricature of an ‘Indian chief’ handing out feathers” type of stuff at the local campground.

            If you removed those types of fake connections, maybe more kids would get valid experiences. There are so many more good stories you could use that have nothing to do with appropriating another people’s culture and reducing it to a single caricature. But I don’t anticipate the BSA to reinvent themselves to that extent anytime soon. Fortunately, there are good alternatives for kids who just want camaraderie, camping, and a little character building.

          6. BS: I’m familiar with what passes for “understanding and honoring” Indigenous Americans within the BSA. No, I don’t think it’s possible.

            GW: Well, I do. But I will leave that decision to a majority of the tribe of indigenous Americans who are being “understood and honored.” For example, some college and professional sports teams use logos or mascots which reflect indigenous Americans. I think some are appropriate and some are inappropriate. If the sports team has received the approval of the tribe, then I think it is appropriate. Otherwise, not.

            GW: But I am not convinced, as you seem to be, that the modern Boy Scouts of America is modeling itself after indigenous Americans, or engaging in a parody or sarcasm.

            GW: I suspect that native Americans are not denied entry into the BSA, as atheists are.

          7. Re: “If the sports team has received the approval of the tribe, then I think it is appropriate. Otherwise, not.”
            There are 562 federally recognized Indian tribes, bands, nations, pueblos, rancherias, communities and Native villages in the United States. Don’t you think that it’s problematic to reduce all those people to a single voice, “the tribe”? Don’t you think that attitude might be part of the problem of erasing them, of continuing a tradition of cultural genocide?
            https://www.bbc.com/news/blogs-trending-36277112

            Re: ” But I am not convinced, as you seem to be, that the modern Boy Scouts of America is modeling itself after indigenous Americans, or engaging in a parody or sarcasm.”
            Then you haven’t read enough about Baden-Powell.

            Scouting began in 1907 with Robert Baden-Powell’s creation of a youth organization aimed at promoting physical, moral, and imperial fitness among British youth by capitalizing on their fascination with “frontier woodcraft” and “tribal” life. He incorporated these elements into scouting in order to inspire young Britons to emulate what he interpreted to be the most praiseworthy aspects of African life. A diverse and eclectic mix of tribal peoples that included Amerindians, Arab Bedouins, and New Zealand Maoris served as inspirations for the movement, but Africans occupied a central place in Baden Powell’s thinking. A 20-year career fighting colonial wars made him a self-proclaimed expert on “tribal” cultures, which he claimed to have incorporated into the scout movement.

            http://chnm.gmu.edu/cyh/case-studies/95

            Re: ” I suspect that native Americans are not denied entry into the BSA, as atheists are.”
            What does that matter? Why be a member of an organization that romanticizes a stereotype of your culture?
            https://lastrealindians.com/boys-scouts-order-of-the-arrow-guilty-of-cultural-appropriation-by-ozheebeegay-ikwe/

          8. GW1: If the sports team has received the approval of the tribe, then I think it is appropriate. Otherwise, not.

            BS2: There are 562 federally recognized Indian tribes, bands, nations, pueblos, rancherias, communities and Native villages in the United States. Don’t you think that it’s problematic to reduce all those people to a single voice, “the tribe”?

            GW2: No. I think it is appropriate if the sports team has gotten the approval of a specific tribe which is their focus.

            BS2: Don’t you think that attitude might be part of the problem of erasing them, of continuing a tradition of cultural genocide?

            GW2: Cultural genocide? No.

            GW1: But I am not convinced, as you seem to be, that the modern Boy Scouts of America is modeling itself after indigenous Americans, or engaging in a parody or sarcasm.

            BS2: Then you haven’t read enough about Baden-Powell.
            Scouting began in 1907 with Robert Baden-Powell’s creation of a youth organization aimed at promoting physical, moral, and imperial fitness among British youth by capitalizing on their fascination with “frontier woodcraft” and “tribal” life. He incorporated these elements into scouting in order to inspire young Britons to emulate what he interpreted to be the most praiseworthy aspects of African life. A diverse and eclectic mix of tribal peoples that included Amerindians, Arab Bedouins, and New Zealand Maoris served as inspirations for the movement, but Africans occupied a central place in Baden Powell’s thinking. A 20-year career fighting colonial wars made him a self-proclaimed expert on “tribal” cultures, which he claimed to have incorporated into the scout movement.
            http://chnm.gmu.edu/cyh/cas

            GW2: 1907. Britons. I said modern BSA.

            GW1: I suspect that native Americans are not denied entry into the BSA, as atheists are.

            BS2: What does that matter?

            GW2: Because discrimination against applicants for admission to the BSA was the topic of the essay. You’ve gone off on your own little tangent which I am no longer interested in discussing with you.

          9. Re: “Because discrimination against applicants for admission to the BSA was the topic of the essay. You’ve gone off on your own little tangent which I am no longer interested in discussing with you.”

            My point was that the BSA isn’t worth worrying about. Their demise will not be soon enough. The BSA has a long tradition of bigotry and cultural appropriation. You took it upon yourself to contradict me. I’ve gone to the trouble of researching and citing, and you just keep coming back at me with your tired opinions.

            You’re not actually discussing anything with me. You’re listening to unpleasant voices in your head.

          10. BS1: My point was that the BSA isn’t worth worrying about. Their demise will not be soon enough. The BSA has a long tradition of bigotry and cultural appropriation. You took it upon yourself to contradict me. I’ve gone to the trouble of researching and citing, and you just keep coming back at me with your tired opinions.

            GW1: I disagree. The BSA is worth worrying about. Its discrimination against atheist boys is both unethical and illegal. My opinions are vigorous, not tired.

            BS1: You’re not actually discussing anything with me. You’re listening to unpleasant voices in your head.

            GW1: Now you’re just being mean to someone who disagrees with you.

          11. Re: “The BSA is worth worrying about. Its discrimination against atheist boys is both unethical and illegal. My opinions are vigorous, not tired.”
            Yeah, you’re vigorously avoiding listening. The BSA is all about their traditions. They have a long tradition of being unethical, one that started with Seton and Baden-Powell. It’s not realistic to expect them to change that now. The best thing we can do is lobby to end their federal charter. Even if someone somehow fixes their discrimination against atheists, they will still be built on the ethnocentric narratives and ethics of colonialism. The patient is lost. The disease runs too deep to cut it out.

          12. Lobbying to end their federal charter is not a bad idea. But I’ve listened to all your ideas, even the ones that go off on your tangents.

          13. Re: ” I’ve listened to all your ideas, even the ones that go off on your tangents.”
            Calling someone’s supporting evidence for their argument “tangents,” really demonstrates that you’re listening.

          14. You might want to look up “Indian schools”
            What is happening at the border these days isn’t the first time the government has stolen children from their families.

          15. It’s part of the overall cultural genocide that’s taken place in the U.S. and Canada, as is using Native American culture as a romanticized caricature, like what the BSA does.

            More than two decades ago, residential schools’ scholars such as James R. Miller and indigenous leaders began to describe the efforts of the Canadian government to assimilate the Indigenous Peoples through the residential schools and other related policies as cultural genocide—arguing that assimilation was intended to destroy the Indigenous Peoples of Canada as a culturally distinct group.

            https://www.facinghistory.org/stolen-lives-indigenous-peoples-canada-and-indian-residential-schools/chapter-7/cultural-genocide

  2. “We need to do a better job educating instead of debating.”

    I disagree. We need to do a better job educating AND debating, not instead of debating. Often when we are educating, people disagree with us, and then we may need to debate.

    1. Atheists generally lose their debates to Christian apologist William Lane Craig. The atheist Luke Muehlhauser wrote about Craig:

      “William Lane Craig is a prolific Christian philosopher, apologist, author, and public debater. He is the best debater – on any topic – that I’ve ever heard. As far as I can tell, he has won nearly all his debates with atheists. When debating him, atheists have consistently failed to put forward solid arguments, and consistently failed to point out the flaws in Craig’s arguments.

      I’m not the only one who thinks Craig has won nearly all his debates. For some atheists, it is rather maddening….

      This is especially embarrassing for atheists because Craig’s arguments and debates are easily available, and he uses the same arguments all the time.” source: http://commonsenseatheism.com/?p=392

      1. I’ve always been bothered by the idea the Craig ‘won’ debates. I’ll agree that he’s a gifted orator, and snappy with the quick comeback. If that’s the measure of ‘winning’ debates, then I say debates are meaningless. It’s like electing a President on the idea of if you’d like to have a beer with him.

        Einstein won the debate with Hoyle over the topic of the Steady State Universe. That was a real debate, where people laid out facts and observations. In the beginning, most were behind Hoyle. After the debate was done, Einstein was the clear winner and changed how we view the universe.

        Debates about God and how many angels can dance on the head of a pin haven’t changed since the days of Epicurus and Tertullian. It’s really just entertainment for those who care about the argument.

      2. MJ1: Atheists generally lose their debates to Christian apologist William Lane Craig.

        GW1: I have watched maybe ten debates of WLC with atheists, and I am very skeptical of your claim here. I do not believe you can prove that.

        MJ1: The atheist Luke Muehlhauser wrote about Craig:
        “William Lane Craig is a prolific Christian philosopher, apologist, author, and public debater. He is the best debater – on any topic – that I’ve ever heard. As far as I can tell, he has won nearly all his debates with atheists. When debating him, atheists have consistently failed to put forward solid arguments, and consistently failed to point out the flaws in Craig’s arguments.

        GW1: I disagree with that opinion. However, I believe the WLC is the best Christian apologist I have seen among that group.

        MJ1: I’m not the only one who thinks Craig has won nearly all his debates. For some atheists, it is rather maddening….

        GW1: I disagree with both them and you.

        MJ1: This is especially embarrassing for atheists because Craig’s arguments and debates are easily available, and he uses the same arguments all the time.” source: http://commonsenseatheism.c

        GW1: It’s embarrassing to you.

        GW1: But none of your comments here justifies the claim you already made that I was disagreeing with. Your word “instead” was mistaken, IMO.

        1. To be fair, Garry wasn’t able to eat nearly as many chess pieces as the pigeon. That’s the real shame right there.

      3. Simply not true !! Winning and losing debates is subjective…but WLC ( also known as Mr. Kalam) is regularly mocked on various debate blogs or video comments…not just by atheists.

  3. Question: When Will Anti-Atheism Be Viewed as Bigotry?

    Answer: When hell freezes over.

    Consider:

    1. Sociological research indicates that atheists are widely distrusted in both religious cultures and nonreligious cultures. Source: https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/anti-atheist-distrust-deeply-and-culturally-ingrained-study-finds-a6952276.html

    According to a study published in the International Journal for The Psychology of Religion: “anti-atheist prejudice is not confined either to dominantly religious countries or to religious individuals, but rather appears to be a robust judgment about atheists.” The study found that many atheists do not trust other atheists as well. Source: https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/anti-atheist-distrust-deeply-and-culturally-ingrained-study-finds-a6952276.html

    2. As a percentage of the world’s population, atheism peaked in 1970 and it is now declining both now and in the forseeable future due to demographic reasons related to fertility rates of the religious and nonreligious. sources: http://www.science20.com/writer_on_the_edge/blog/atheism_peaks_while_spiritual_groups_move_toward_convergence-156528 and Shall the Religious Inherit the Earth?: Demography and Politics in the Twenty-First, Century, Eric Kaufmann, Belfer Center, Harvard University/Birkbeck College, University of London at: http://www.sneps.net/RD/uploads/1-Shall%20the%20Religious%20Inherit%20the%20Earth.pdf

    3. The Western/developed world is expected to experience a trend of overall desecularization by 2050 or sooner. Source: Shall the Religious Inherit the Earth?: Demography and Politics in the Twenty-First, Century, Eric Kaufmann, Belfer Center, Harvard University/Birkbeck College, University of London at: http://www.sneps.net/RD/uploads/1-Shall%20the%20Religious%20Inherit%20the%20Earth.pdf and http://www.sneps.net/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/jssr_15101.pdf

    4. For additional points/data, please see: http://examiningatheism.blogspot.com/2018/06/when-will-anti-atheism-be-viewed-as.html

    1. Mark Jones gets it. Many of us in the atheist/agnostic/secular community are suffering from a delusion that we are winning the culture war. It’s not true. We are losing. In fact, we might have already lost. The future looks grim for non-religious people.

          1. Sophotros is completely wrong about atheists winning the culture war and recent setbacks not indicating a long term trend. I say that due to the powerful demographic trends (and other trends} atheists activists (especially secular leftists) are up against. Please see my recent post above as I provide additional data.

            Secular leftists have used the power of the state to get their way – particularly the courts. But now religionists and right-wing populists are sweeping them out of power around the globe. And the power of the state is decreasing due to: overburdened welfare states facing aging populations, the internet making it difficult for governments to control the political narrative, etc. etc.

            Consider:

            According to the University of Cambridge, historically, the “most notable spread of atheism was achieved through the success of the 1917 Russian Revolution, which brought the Marxist-Leninists to power.” source: http://web.archive.org/web/20130728215151/http://www.investigatingatheism.info/marxism.html

            Could a WWIII happen? Of course. Yet that doesn’t negate the powerful demographic, political and other trends that face atheist activists both now and in the future.

        1. Atheists are winning the culture war faster than ever before. In most ways, we’ve already won.

          That we’ve taken some short-term hits in a political war is not the doom-and-gloom scenario you envision.

          That the potential upcoming WWIII would make both of those wars irrelevant is probably the bigger worry.

          1. Atheists have taken “short term hits” and are winning the culture war faster than ever?

            You are completely wrong.

            I provided data above indicating that the global atheist population has seen its market share shrink since 1970 and religion/irreligion demographers are indicating this will continue in the 21st century and beyond. I also pointed out that secular leftists are taking some big hits right now due to the rapid growth of right-wing populism in Europe/USA.

            Already, Donald Trump is about to install his second Supreme Court judge (which is expected to have a big effect on the ideological balance of the court for decades), Brexit passed, right-wing governments appear to be growing at a faster and faster rate in Europe and sweeping through Europe at a breathtaking pace, there is sharia law in various courts of the UK and the fastest growing religions in France are evangelical Christianity and Islam.

            On July 12, 2012, the Christian Science Monitor reported:

            “French scholars say, evangelicalism is likely the fastest-growing religion in France – defying all stereotypes about Europe’s most secular nation…
            Daniel Liechti, vice-president of the French National Evangelical Council, found that since 1970, a new evangelical church has opened in France every 10 days. The number of churches increased from 769 to 2,068 last year.” see: https://www.csmonitor.com/World/2012/0712/In-a-France-suspicious-of-religion-evangelicalism-s-message-strikes-a-chord

            In 2012, Professor and author Eric Kaufmann, an expert in religious/irreligious demographic trends (and an agnostic himself) wrote:

            “I argue that 97% of the world’s population growth is taking place in the developing world, where 95% of people are religious.

            On the other hand, the secular West and East Asia has very low fertility and a rapidly aging population… In the coming decades, the developed world’s demand for workers to pay its pensions and work in its service sector will soar alongside the booming supply of young people in the third world. Ergo, we can expect significant immigration to the secular West which will import religious revival on the back of ethnic change. In addition, those with religious beliefs tend to have higher birth rates than the secular population, with fundamentalists having far larger families. The epicentre of these trends will be in immigration gateway cities like New York (a third white), Amsterdam (half Dutch), Los Angeles (28% white), and London, 45% white British.” source: https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/eric-kaufmann/london-a-rising-island-of-religion_b_2336699.html?guccounter=1

            Pew Research indicates: “By 2055 to 2060, just 9% of all babies will be born to religiously unaffiliated women, while more than seven-in-ten will be born to either Muslims (36%) or Christians (35%).” source: http://www.pewforum.org/2017/04/05/the-changing-global-religious-landscape/http://www.pewforum.org/2017/04/05/the-changing-global-religious-landscape/

            In 2012, the W. Edwards Deming Institute published a report by the World Future Society which indicated:

            “In 2100, however, the world will likely be only 9% unaffiliated — more religious than in 2012. The peak of the unaffiliated was in 1970 at around 20%, largely due to the influence of European communism. Since communism’s collapse, religion has been experiencing resurgence that will likely continue beyond 2100. All the world’s religions are poised to have enormous numeric growth (with the exceptions of tribal religions and Chinese folk religion), as well as geographic spread with the continuation of migration trends. Adherents of the world’s religions—perhaps particularly Muslims, Hindus, and Buddhists—will continue to settle in the formerly Christian and ever-expanding cities of Europe and North America, causing increases of religious pluralism in these areas. Christians and Muslims together will encompass two-thirds of the global population—more than 7 billion individuals. In 2100, the majority of the world’s 11.6 billion residents will be adherents of religious traditions.” source: http://denninginstitute.com/pjd/PUBS/futurist-sep12.pdf

          2. You are wrong. Non-religious people enjoyed a brief surge in recent decades, but now the pendulum is swinging hard in the opposite direction. Right-wing religionists have a lock (or soon will) on all branches of the government. The fox is guarding the hen-house! We are facing the complete annihilation of the separation of church and state. There will be legalized (if not mandatory) Christian indoctrination in K-12 schools. Objective history textbooks will be replaced with White Christian Nationalist propaganda. Legitimate science education will be corrupted into “Biblical science.” We can also expect legalized discrimination/persecution against any and all minorities, especially black Americans, LGBTQ Americans, and non-Christians. Free press and free speech? Don’t make me laugh. Once the theocratic-plutocrats are entrenched in the courts, there will be no one to defend civil rights, and no one to stop the Dominionist takeover.

          3. I doubt the GOP really is sincere in its piety. When Evangelicals and hardcore Catholics become politically irrelevant, the GOP will become a fairly secular hard-right party. Before then, America will be under attack from theocrats.

          4. I see things evolving differently. Evangelicals and hardcore Catholics will never become politically irrelevant, because those groups, in cooperation with the GOP, are engineering a society in which their belief systems will be perpetuated (e.g., indoctrination in K-12 schools). More than just a symbiotic relationship, the the Christian theocrats and the GOP plutocrats, largely overlap with each other. I see no reason why they would allow a major component of their populist appeal (Christian superstition) fall by the wayside.

        1. It’s grim; not only for non-religious people, but for any minority maligned by the oppressive majority.
          (Note: my conception of the future is limited to reality; speculative afterlives are not included)

          1. Your conception of the future is indeed limited. You’ve a knack for accidentally saying the right thing.

          2. And yours is not limited? I suppose you believe in every future imaginable? You believe in the prophecies of all religions, even when they are mutually exclusive?

          3. Not limiting one’s conception of the future to the material world of today doesn’t imply believing in the prophecies of all religions. I have no idea why you’d jump to that conclusion.

          4. Your conception of the future is limited to that envisioned by Christian dogma only. So when you say my conception of the future is limited, it’s a case of pot calling kettle black.

          5. Are you claiming that your conception of the future is not limited? You believe in all posited futures? You believe in all the futures envisioned/prophesied by all religions, even when they are mutually exclusive? Don’t be silly. It is wise to limit what one believes, to maintain a high threshold of credibility. To have an unlimited conception is to believe anything and be a gullible fool.

          6. You’re confused. My conception of the future is informed by the word of God, and it’s limitless in depth, not breadth. That is to say, God is infinite and all His children will explore His universe for eternity. I’m pretty happy about that.

          7. The witness of the Holy Spirit who indwells me as a believer in Jesus Christ gives me irrefutable evidence. I have first-hand evidence of God’s truth, and He illumines scripture. You cannot benefit from this evidence, because you’re blinded by the god of this world (can you guess his name?). I know what that blindness is like, since I experienced it for many years.

  4. I’m am atheist myself. But I have to disagree. The BSA has every right to run the organization as they see fit. Being racist, sexiest or homophobic only makes me pity them. But if we start telling private organizations what to do where will it stop.

    1. I guess you missed the part where I said:

      Supporters of the Boy Scouts might say, “So what? They can admit whoever they want.” While that’s true, what we need to be aware of is that BSA receives federal funding and support, and according to federal law, should not be discriminating based on religion.

      So I’m not sure what you’re disagreeing with, since based on your statement we actually agree.

  5. Perhaps when some Atheists cut it out with all people with beliefs other than ours have come to the wrong conclusion and must change their mind immediately (not quite, but some of them are that bad)

  6. Do you not realize the amount of privilege you have to, at this point in history, you have decided to focus on the fact that an American atheist child might not be able to participate fully in Boy Scouts? Maybe you ought to use this privilege to advocate for children who are in desperate need of legal assistance right now.

    1. Ah, the “If anything worse is happening anywhere, you have no right to complain about this right now” argument.

      Please go and stay go.

  7. “Does your god say to love your neighbor or to lash out against him based on his belief system?”

    Absolutely the Bible does.

    1. More specifically:
      * “Does your god say to love your neighbour?” Yhwh? Yes he does.
      * “Does your god say to lash out against your neighbour based on his belief system?” Yhwh? Yes he does.

  8. I sympathise with American atheists, but am also annoyed that you don’t take up your right to believe anything you want, so long as you’re doing no harm. In the UK, and Northern Europe, one is presumed to be atheist, unless a religious faith is claimed. That’s fine; carry on. Isn’t that better for society?

  9. Couldn’t help but notice that this article singles out Christianity to criticize, ironically based largely on behaviors that Christ Himself would criticize. If you want to use general terms like “religion” and “anti-atheist,” you ought to bring into play one particularly anti-atheist religion, Islam, whose adherents violently subjugate, torture and kill atheists based on the teachings of their prophet Mohammad. Strange, but not surprising, that this article highlights the Boy Scouts, preachers and some vandals, but not the Islamic elephant in the room.

    Careful — your bigotry is showing.

    The gospel is that Jesus Christ died to save sinners, and as He gave His life in mercy and love for them, His followers are called to do the same. Any time you see so-called Christians doing otherwise, you’re witnessing the sins of men, and not the Christian gospel.

      1. That’s quite a claim. Do you think you see everything clearly, enough to know certainly that I’m delusional? That is to say, do you think you know the truth about God?

        1. This isn’t a claim, but I do know the truth about god. God is an absurd assumption that rests on top of a mountain range full of assumptions.

          1. Here’s an absurd assumption: your consciousness is a product of chance plus time. But knowing that the materialist assumption is absurd is not enough to reveal truth — I need positive revelation of truth in order to know it — so why do you think your opinion that the God of the Bible is absurd means you know truth?

    1. Nice “no true Scotsman” defense. So it’s just the ones who aren’t REAL Christians who are the problem, right? Funny, if you ask them, they sure as hell would declare themselves to be quite devout.

      Currently, the dominant religion in my country and its government is Christianity, not Islam. That’s the religion that our zealot lawmakers reference in their attempts to persecute people. Should my country be overtaken by Muslims who wish to impose their religion on me, then I’ll write about them too. For now though, it’s just you folks. So own it and stop trying to redirect.

      1. Just because a so-called “fallacy” has been given a cute name, it doesn’t make it a legitimate point. Yes, false Christians exist as assuredly as all men are sinful creatures. Good thing we’ve been given the Bible to keep us from straying into error.

        I completely own up to my own sin, the sin of Christians, the sin of so-called Christians and the sin of unbelievers.

        I do appreciate the fact that you feel persecuted, though. It’s a shame when people generalize in order to denigrate. I’m not mad at you for saying “it’s just you folks,” for instance, since it’s only natural to behave that way when you feel challenged by the other.

        1. “Good thing we’ve been given the Bible to keep us from straying into error.” — Funny, that’s what Christians use as an explanation to persecute others. Slavery, homosexuals, atheists, the list goes on… The bible is awful. Some of us don’t need a book full of contradictions to tell us how to be moral and ethical humans.

          1. We all have a moral sense, believer and unbelievers alike. I certainly knew right from wrong before I was saved. It is by God’s grace that we’ve all been given our sense of right and wrong (Rom 2:14). This is why we’re all culpable for our sins, and why we have no excuse.

            The Bible contains no contradictions. Paradoxes, yes, but nothing that violates the logical rule of non-contradiction. Go ahead and google some so-called contradictions, and I’ll be happy to point out your error.

            Do you think slavery in the Bible is the same as slavery in antebellum America? Yes or no? We’ll work from there to clear up your confusion.

            As for homosexuals, I’ve spent most of my life defending gay rights. I canvassed door-to-door to fight for gay marriage in Oregon, and I had a gay transvestite in my wedding party (my “groomsmaid”). That was before I was saved. Now I understand God’s order, which is clear, and I still love my friends who choose to identify as “LGBTQ folks.”

            Yes indeed, people have committed many atrocities, in God’s name and against God’s name. Did you know that the Bible is all about that?

          2. As much as I’d like to go back and forth with yet another “Joe Christian Apologist” who thinks he can educate me on the infallibility of a book written by desert dwellers who didn’t know where the sun went at night, I’m going to pass. I’ve been at this a long time and have had hundreds of people just like you try to engage me with their apologetics. It’s tired, old, and boring. I have zero interest in your inability to think critically. Have a good night.

          3. If you really felt that way, you wouldn’t have already engaged in this conversation. Clearly, you had enough interest to try and defend yourself up until this point.

            What, exactly, do you think you’re achieving with your blog, anyway? If you find engaging with me to be tired, old, and boring, do you find it exciting to participate in an atheist echo chamber? Is that why you’re here? That sounds quite boring and repetitive.

            I understand that you find yourself above my level — so far advanced, in fact, that you’re bored. I promise to do my best to keep you entertained, Kevin, if that’s what you desire from these sorts of conversations.

            I’ve asked you a number of simple questions. If you’re scared, just say you’re scared. Otherwise, do try to answer.

          4. “It is by God’s grace that we’ve all been given our sense of right and wrong” Prove it.

          5. It’s sad that you believe your moral sense came by chance interactions of matter and energy, but it’s even sadder that you’ve abandoned God’s equally gracious gift of reason and logic to demand proof that your absurd blind faith in chance is wrong.

          6. Attributing straw-man beliefs to others, is a sign of a weak mind. I don’t believe my moral sense came by chance. You don’t know what I believe. Didn’t anyone ever teach you to speak for yourself, not for others. I don’t find anything sad about my liberation from superstition and junk-thought. I am a happier, kinder, more caring and compassionate, life-affirming person since I abandoned belief in the supernatural and embraced the joy of living free in the real world.

          7. This is your big chance to tell me your natural explanation of where your moral sense came from. Go for it.

          8. I do not owe you an explanation for my morality, but I already gave a hint of it above. My own personal life story is not the issue here. Why do you insist on making it personal? Why can’t you discuss ideas objectively? You seem to crave opportunities to make personal judgements. The issue is not my personal moral code. The issue is that it’s not necessary for anyone to believe in supernatural deities to be a moral person.

          9. I didn’t ask for your personal life story, silly. I’m asking for an objective, materialistic explanation of morality. Since you seem to be a materialist who values a moral standard, certainly you should be able to explain where that standard comes from, and on what basis you consider it objective.

          10. I told you above. It came from a lifetime of thought, study, observation, experience……

          11. I’m not judging “God.” I don’t believe in it. I can’t judge something I don’t believe in.

          12. “Not only does Yahweh reward men for wicked acts, but he’s often the one who commands men to commit the wicked acts in the first place.”

            A few hours later…

            “I’m not judging ‘God.'”

          13. That’s not a judgement. That’s an objective fact. Read your Old Testament.

            Perhaps more to the point, it is a strange kind of “loving God” that creates inferior beings, then judges them and tortures them forever because they failed to believe in far-fetched tales for which no reasonable evidence was provided.

          14. The Old Testament does not say God committed wicked acts. That’s your value *judgment* on God. I know you think your judgments are facts, but you’re just wrong about that.

            Strange kind of God to you, yes, and you think it’s strange because you don’t understand the gospel. God will not torture people forever “because they failed to believe in far-fetched tales for which no reasonable evidence was provided.” God will render His promised judgment of eternal torture to those who, following their own desires to sin, choose to disobey His law.

          15. But… I know that YOU think YOUR judgements are facts, but YOU’RE just wrong about THAT.

            How fortunate that out of some 30,000+ different interpretations of the gospels, YOU just happen to have the right one.

            How do you know that “God will render His promised judgement of eternal torture to those who, following their own desires to sin, chose to disobey His law?”

            What exactly is his law?

            Above, you said that I cannot save myself, that only “God” can save me by drawing me to the “Son.” Now you’re saying that people are damned because they choose to follow their own desires to sin.

          16. No, I believe the revelation of God in His word is absolutely true. I don’t claim that my judgments are facts; I claim that the judgment of God is righteous, and His word is true.

            I said gospel, which is the saving work of Jesus Christ. My interpretation of the gospel is standard among Christians. What I said about standing condemned by God because of your sin is Christianity 101 across all denominations.

            I know that God will render His promised judgments because I believe the Bible. I know you don’t believe it, but that’s your problem.

            “What exactly is the law?”

            Besides the decalogue, the Bible is clear on the greatest commandment:

            “Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets” (Matt 22:37-40).

            Yes, you’re powerless to save yourself. You’re already dead in your sins. Unless God gives you a new heart and changes your desire to sin — unless God saves you out of His abundant mercy and gives you new life — you will get exactly what you deserve.

            If we saved ourselves, we’d have reason to boast. God does it all, and deserves all the glory for saving a wretch like me.

            This doctrine, which is called monergism, is debated among Christians. Yes, it’s true. Some Christians believe in decisional regeneration, which has become popular in America. You’ll hear it preached as “come to Jesus,” “choose Jesus,” “decide today to accept Jesus.” You’ll find no appeals like this in the Bible.

            Thank God that neither belief affects the gospel or salvation. However, it affects how you deliver the gospel, for sure. For instance, I’m not asking you to take some action to save yourself. When I say you need to believe in Christ to be born again and saved, I’m giving you an indicative (a descriptive fact), not an imperative (a prescriptive instruction). I’m just giving you the plain gospel truth, and you’re free to reject it if you so desire. That’s cool with me. I’m saddened that you’re a lost soul, but I respect your freedom to follow your own desires. The Holy Spirit must intervene and save you.

            Tons of issues that don’t affect the gospel are debated among Christians, such as eschatology and various details of liturgy like types of worship music, and none of them have any bearing on salvation. I count myself a brother to Christians from lots of denominations. I thank God that He doesn’t force us all to listen to the same worship music in church!

          17. “I know that God will render His promised judgments because I believe the Bible.” – Why do you believe the Bible? (Notice how you move from “believing” to “knowing” – evidence of your flawed epistemology.)

            “Besides the Decalogue…” – Which Decalogue? The one in Exodus 20, or the one in Exodus 34? And what about the other 603 mitzvot? Why don’t you follow them?

            I’m “dead in my sins.” This how you play tennis without a net. Religionists make up their own meanings for words, and then pretend that they’ve said something profound, when in fact they’ve said something meaningless. I am alive by any true, objective measure. I challenge you convince anyone that I am dead in the real sense of the word. But you don’t traffic in reality. You traffic in infinitely obscure concepts that defy applicable definition – that way, you can never be wrong.

            “You’ll get exactly what you deserve.” – There it is. Unable to persuade, frustrated proselytizers inevitably resort to threats and bullying. Indeed, much of religion is little more than psychological fascism.

            “God does it all, and deserves all the glory for saving a wretch like me.” – What did God save you from?

            “I’m just giving you the plain gospel truth, and you’re free to reject it if you so desire.” – That still doesn’t hold water. If it’s up to God to lead me to it, then it’s not a case of me rejecting it. It’s a case of God not leading me to it. And it follows that you’re wasting your time preaching to me, because, according to your theology, it’s not up to me. Seems to me, if you’d like me to be saved, you should be talking to God about it, not to me.

          18. “And what about the other 603 mitzvot? Why don’t you follow them?”

            I follow the New Covenant in Jesus Christ. I’m not an ancient Israelite — I’m a Christian.

            You don’t have to get what you deserve. You can get what you don’t deserve, which is salvation in Jesus Christ.

            “What did God save you from?”

            I thought I was a good person before I was saved, but I was wrong. The Holy Spirit convicted me. Jesus saved me from dying in my sins, like He can save you.

            I do talk to God about you getting saved.

            As for the rest of your opinions, you can have them.

          19. “I follow the New Covenant in Jesus Christ. I’m not an ancient Israelite — I’m a Christian.” …… You mentioned the Decalogue. Where does Jesus say that it’s OK to ignore the other 603 mitzvot? I recall him quoted as saying that not one jot or tittle shall pass from the Law. I also recall him telling various persons to obey the Law, presumably the entire Law since he did not tell them to obey the Decalogue only. Also, you failed to answer my other question: Which Decalogue? The one in Exodus 20, or the one in Exodus 34?

            “You don’t have to get what you deserve. You can get what you don’t deserve, which is salvation in Jesus Christ.” …… As I said, unable to persuade, frustrated proselytizers inevitably resort to threats and bullying. Much of religion is little more than psychological fascism. Muslims would no doubt say that you’re going to get exactly what you deserve because you don’t submit to their creed. And you have no more evidence to support your claim than they have to support theirs. For that matter, there are surely other Christians who believe that you’re damned because you adhere to an incorrect interpretation of scripture.

            “I thought I was a good person before I was saved, but I was wrong. The Holy Spirit convicted me. Jesus saved me from dying in my sins, like He can save you.” …… How do you know?

            “I do talk to God about you getting saved.” …… Does he talk back? Do you literally hear his voice? In my opinion, your time would be better spent doing something concrete to help your fellow humans.

            “As for the rest of your opinions, you can have them.” …… Thanks for giving me your permission to have my own opinions. I realize that allowing other people sovereignty over their own minds is a difficult concession for totalitarian-minded religionists to make.

          20. Jesus said He came to fulfill the law. Why do you think He was responding to accusations that He came to abolish the law? It was because He was preaching that people are saved by putting their faith in Him alone.

            Paul makes this point clear in Galatians. Hebrews also discusses the New Covenant in Christ, which is based on better promises (8:6).

            It’s tiresome to go in circles with you guys.

            “You mentioned the Decalogue.”

            That’s because Jesus reiterates every point in the decalogue except keeping the sabbath. Christians are mixed on that one, but for shorthand, all of us refer to the decalogue. It’s easier than reiterating all the basic moral commandments Jesus preached.

            “Which Decalogue? The one in Exodus 20, or the one in Exodus 34?”

            Same thing. Both accounts.

            “As I said, unable to persuade, frustrated proselytizers inevitably resort to threats and bullying.”

            A warning about justice is not a threat — it’s a warning. I do understand why you feel threatened by justice, though. All criminals feel threatened by the law.

            “Much of religion is little more than psychological fascism.”

            Nice philosophy. I used to hold that opinion. I was writing a novel on the subject, in fact. As I read the Bible for research, I was a saved. Changed everything.

            “Muslims would no doubt say that you’re going to get exactly what you deserve because you don’t submit to their creed.”

            The preponderance of false beliefs does not impugn the one absolute and objective truth.

            “And you have no more evidence to support your claim than they have to support theirs.”

            The evidence is all around you if you have eyes to see it. I cannot open your eyes to see the spiritual things of God shown in everything that is made — only God can do that. I’m just here to clear up your error regarding the Bible.

            “For that matter, there are surely other Christians who believe that you’re damned because you adhere to an incorrect interpretation of scripture.”

            Scripture says you must believe in Jesus Christ to be saved. Any Christian who thinks I’m damned for any doctrine I’m giving you — which is straight-up gospel — just doesn’t understand the basic doctrine of salvation. The Bible ain’t mysterious on how you get saved. Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved.

            There’s no accounting for false beliefs. People believe the wrong things all the time. Thank God He gave us His word in holy scripture to keep us on track.

            “How do you know?”

            The Holy Spirit testifies with my spirit that I’m a child of God. You cannot understand or appreciate this, and that’s fine with me. I hope God saves you and you see the light.

            “Does he talk back? Do you literally hear his voice? In my opinion, your time would be better spent doing something concrete to help your fellow humans.”

            No, I don’t hear a literal voice in my head. I pray and God directs me through the working of His Spirit, which I use to search the scriptures.

            “Thanks for giving me your permission to have my own opinions.”

            You’re welcome. Sometimes unbelievers think I’m trying to force them to believe, as if I could do such a thing. Some think I’m trying to threaten them, which is interesting. Anyway, you are indeed free to have your own opinions.

          21. “Jesus said He came to fulfill the law. Why do you think He was responding to accusations that He came to abolish the law?” …… I don’t think I said that. I’m asking you why you make a point of obeying “the Decalogue” but not the other 603 mitzvot, especially considering that Jesus never dismissed them, and told people to obey them.

            “It was because He was preaching that people are saved by putting their faith in Him alone.” …… Lots of people preach lots of crazy things. Why should I believe the alleged teachings of one ancient rabbi over the teachings of any other religious figure/cult leader?

            “Paul makes this point clear in Galatians. Hebrews also discusses the New Covenant in Christ, which is based on better promises (8:6).” …… Lots of people write lots of crazy things. Why should I believe the writings of “Paul” over the writings of anyone else? The Bible is just the claim. You present it as if it were evidence. The Bible can’t be evidence for its own claims. That’s just bad reasoning.

            “It’s tiresome to go in circles with you guys.” …… You’re telling me! There’s nothing like a Bible-believer to steer a discussion into circular reasoning (e.g., the Bible is evidence of its own claims).

            “Same thing. Both accounts.” …… No, they are not the same thing. Not even close. I thought I was talking to someone who knows the Bible, but evidently not. Do I have to post the relevant verses from both chapters here?

            “A warning about justice is not a threat — it’s a warning. I do understand why you feel threatened by justice, though. All criminals feel threatened by the law.” …… I don’t feel threatened at all. I’m all for justice (the real kind; not the make-believe, wishful-thinking, after-you-die kind). By the way, your feeble attempt to walk back your threat is unconvincing. You had the opportunity to answer my question, but instead you chose to “warn” me. This is typical bully behavior, no matter what word you use to describe it. Unable to persuade, and lacking sound arguments, frustrated proselytizers inevitably resort to “warnings.” See, it doesn’t matter what you call it. What matters is that your adolescent bully tactic reveals weakness in your argument and perhaps in your emotional development as well.

            “Nice philosophy. I used to hold that opinion. I was writing a novel on the subject, in fact. As I read the Bible for research, I was a saved. Changed everything.” …… Purely anecdotal. Not even slightly convincing. I was out of work and sad. As I watched a movie, I got inspired to expand my career interests and to look for employment opportunities in a new fields. Changed everything. I was “saved” by Tom Hanks!

            “The preponderance of false beliefs does not impugn the one absolute and objective truth.” …… True, but you have no claim to “one absolute and objective truth.” If you did, you’d present the evidence. Isn’t it remarkable that of all the millions of belief systems that people have held throughout the ages, you just happened to have the “one absolute and objective truth?” You’re funny.

            “The evidence is all around you if you have eyes to see it.” …… That’s exactly what every other believer of every other faith would say. They have as much conviction in their beliefs as you have in yours. They have as much evidence for their claims as you have for yours. What sets yours apart? Clearly, you’re not able to address the lack of evidence, so you have to resort to special pleading. Saying “the evidence is there, but you don’t have eyes to see it” is special pleading. It’s also nonsense, because it completely ignores the meaning of evidence. Real evidence is incontrovertible.
            –Look! Here are the muddy footprints the burglar left on the carpet!
            –Where? I don’t see them.
            –Oh, sorry. You don’t have eyes to see muddy footprints. Only we special, chosen people have eyes to see them.
            Give me a break.

            “I cannot open your eyes to see the spiritual things of God shown in everything that is made” …… Again, special pleading (see above). What do those “spiritual things” look like? Describe them to me.

            “I’m just here to clear up your error regarding the Bible.” …… Which error is that? Are you referring to my ability to distinguish between Exodus 20 and Exodus 34? Frankly, I don’t think that’s really why you’re here. Come on, admit it. Why are you really here?

            “Scripture says you must believe in Jesus Christ to be saved.” …… Again, the Bible is just the claim, not the evidence. The Bible cannot be evidence for its own claims.

            “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved.” …… Saved from what?

            “There’s no accounting for false beliefs. People believe the wrong things all the time. Thank God He gave us His word in holy scripture to keep us on track.” …… Again, the Bible is just the claim, not the evidence. The Bible cannot be evidence for its own claims.

            “The Holy Spirit testifies with my spirit that I’m a child of God. You cannot understand or appreciate this, and that’s fine with me.” …… Why can’t you explain it to me? Seems odd that “God” gave you this gift, and wants you to tell me about it, but doesn’t give you the ability to explain it. If you were really “indwelt” by a “holy ghost,” your arguments would be more sound and more effective. Could it be that you can’t explain things because you’re actually talking about meaningless abstractions?

            “No, I don’t hear a literal voice in my head. I pray and God directs me through the working of His Spirit, which I use to search the scriptures.” …… Ah, so you search the vague, obscure folklore of an ancient, exotic, superstitious culture, and you find ideas that are applicable to whatever happens to be on your mind, and you take that to be divine guidance. You’re just a hair’s breadth from being Charles Manson following the deranged commands that he imagined he found in Beatles songs.

            “You’re welcome… you are indeed free to have your own opinions.” …… Do you not realize how arrogant it is for you to believe that you are in a position to grant me permission to have my own opinions?

          22. “Jesus said He came to fulfill the law. Why do you think He was responding to accusations that He came to abolish the law?” …… I don’t think I said that. I’m asking you why you make a point of obeying “the Decalogue” but not the other 603 mitzvot, especially considering that Jesus never dismissed them, and told people to obey them.

            “It was because He was preaching that people are saved by putting their faith in Him alone.” …… Lots of people preach lots of crazy things. Why should I believe the alleged teachings of one ancient rabbi over the teachings of any other religious figure/cult leader?

            “Paul makes this point clear in Galatians. Hebrews also discusses the New Covenant in Christ, which is based on better promises (8:6).” …… Lots of people write lots of crazy things. Why should I believe the writings of “Paul” over the writings of anyone else? The Bible is just the claim. You present it as if it were evidence. The Bible can’t be evidence for its own claims. That’s just bad reasoning.

            “It’s tiresome to go in circles with you guys.” …… You’re telling me! There’s nothing like a Bible-believer to steer a discussion into circular reasoning (e.g., the Bible is evidence of its own claims).

            “Same thing. Both accounts.” …… No, they are not the same thing. Not even close. I thought I was talking to someone who knows the Bible, but evidently not. Do I have to post the relevant verses from both chapters here?

            “A warning about justice is not a threat — it’s a warning. I do understand why you feel threatened by justice, though. All criminals feel threatened by the law.” …… I don’t feel threatened at all. I’m all for justice (the real kind; not the make-believe, wishful-thinking, after-you-die kind). By the way, your feeble attempt to walk back your threat is unconvincing. You had the opportunity to answer my question, but instead you chose to “warn” me. This is typical bully behavior, no matter what word you use to describe it. Unable to persuade, and lacking sound arguments, frustrated proselytizers inevitably resort to “warnings.” See, it doesn’t matter what you call it. What matters is that your adolescent bully tactic reveals weakness in your argument and perhaps in your emotional development as well.

            “Nice philosophy. I used to hold that opinion. I was writing a novel on the subject, in fact. As I read the Bible for research, I was a saved. Changed everything.” …… Purely anecdotal. Not even slightly convincing. I was out of work and sad. As I watched a movie, I got inspired to expand my career interests and to look for employment opportunities in a new fields. Changed everything. I was “saved” by Tom Hanks!

            “The preponderance of false beliefs does not impugn the one absolute and objective truth.” …… True, but you have no claim to “one absolute and objective truth.” If you did, you’d present the evidence. Isn’t it remarkable that of all the millions of belief systems that people have held throughout the ages, you just happened to have the “one absolute and objective truth?” You’re funny.

            “The evidence is all around you if you have eyes to see it.” …… That’s exactly what every other believer of every other faith would say. They have as much conviction in their beliefs as you have in yours. They have as much evidence for their claims as you have for yours. What sets yours apart? Clearly, you’re not able to address the lack of evidence, so you have to resort to special pleading. Saying “the evidence is there, but you don’t have eyes to see it” is special pleading. It’s also nonsense, because it completely ignores the meaning of evidence. Real evidence is incontrovertible.
            –Look! Here are the muddy footprints the burglar left on the carpet!
            –Where? I don’t see them.
            –Oh, sorry. You don’t have eyes to see muddy footprints. Only we special, chosen people have eyes to see them.
            Give me a break.

            “I cannot open your eyes to see the spiritual things of God shown in everything that is made” …… Again, special pleading (see above). What do those “spiritual things” look like? Describe them to me.

            “I’m just here to clear up your error regarding the Bible.” …… Which error is that? Are you referring to my ability to distinguish between Exodus 20 and Exodus 34? Frankly, I don’t think that’s really why you’re here. Come on, admit it. Why are you really here?

            “Scripture says you must believe in Jesus Christ to be saved.” …… Again, the Bible is just the claim, not the evidence. The Bible cannot be evidence for its own claims.

            “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved.” …… Saved from what?

            “There’s no accounting for false beliefs. People believe the wrong things all the time. Thank God He gave us His word in holy scripture to keep us on track.” …… Again, the Bible is just the claim, not the evidence. The Bible cannot be evidence for its own claims.

            “The Holy Spirit testifies with my spirit that I’m a child of God. You cannot understand or appreciate this, and that’s fine with me.” …… Why can’t you explain it to me? Seems odd that “God” gave you this gift, and wants you to tell me about it, but doesn’t give you the ability to explain it. If you were really “indwelt” by a “holy ghost,” your arguments would be more sound and more effective. Could it be that you can’t explain things because you’re actually talking about meaningless abstractions?

            “No, I don’t hear a literal voice in my head. I pray and God directs me through the working of His Spirit, which I use to search the scriptures.” …… Ah, so you search the vague, obscure folklore of an ancient, exotic, superstitious culture, and you find ideas that are applicable to whatever happens to be on your mind, and you take that to be divine guidance. You’re just a hair’s breadth from being Charles Manson following the deranged commands that he imagined he found in Beatles songs.

            “You’re welcome… you are indeed free to have your own opinions.” …… Do you not realize how arrogant it is for you to believe that you are in a position to grant me permission to have my own opinions?

          23. First, you don’t accept my explanation that the law is fulfilled in Jesus Christ, and then you ask, “Why should I believe the alleged teachings of one ancient rabbi over the teachings of any other religious figure/cult leader?”

            Without the Holy Spirit convicting you of sin and showing you the truth, you have no reason to believe. To you, it’s foolishness.

            “The Bible is just the claim. You present it as if it were evidence.”

            No, I’m presenting it as the truth. You’re free to reject it, but I provide it for your future reference.

            “There’s nothing like a Bible-believer to steer a discussion into circular reasoning (e.g., the Bible is evidence of its own claims).”

            Straw man. Being given new life in Christ, the believer receives the evidence in the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit illumines scripture. First comes the saving grace from God, and then comes the evidence.

            “‘Same thing. Both accounts.’ …… No, they are not the same thing. Not even close. I thought I was talking to someone who knows the Bible, but evidently not. Do I have to post the relevant verses from both chapters here?

            Save yourself the work of cutting & pasting. I figured you were going to spring the Hitchens argument about Exodus 20/34. It’s a pretty weak point, and I’ve been looking forward to cracking it open.

            I didn’t say all, or even most, of Exodus 34 is comprised of the Decalogue. Exodus 34 focuses on idolatry and proper ceremonial worship, given the Israelite’s previous transgression in making the golden calf. The Decalogue written in stone, the first time and the second time, is the exact same ten commandments, whether referenced in Exodus chapter 20 or chapter 34. Chapter 20 is obviously the fuller, comprehensive account of the Decalogue, while chapter 34 alludes to the action of Moses etching all ten of them again in only three verses (1, 4 and 28).

            “Isn’t it remarkable that of all the millions of belief systems that people have held throughout the ages, you just happened to have the ‘one absolute and objective truth?'”

            Yes, it’s remarkable.

            As for your blindness, that’s an appropriate analogy for your spiritual condition, and it’s biblical.

            “‘Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved.’ …… Saved from what?”

            Saved from righteous judgment according to your sins, of course. We’ve all sinned, and God is just. We who are saved in Jesus Christ thank God that He’s merciful and took on the penalty for our sins.

            “Seems odd that ‘God’ gave you this gift, and wants you to tell me about it, but doesn’t give you the ability to explain it.”

            It’s odd indeed, from a man’s perspective, but it works according to God’s wisdom. Check this out:

            “For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe” (1Co 1:21).

            “Could it be that you can’t explain things because you’re actually talking about meaningless abstractions?”

            Nope.

            “You’re just a hair’s breadth from being Charles Manson following the deranged commands that he imagined he found in Beatles songs.”

            I serve a Holy and righteous God, whose words are given in scripture — words that instruct me to love my enemies, to communicate gently to them and to pray for them. You, on the other hand, serve your own desires in all things. In that respect, you’re closer to going full-Manson than I am.

            “‘You’re welcome… you are indeed free to have your own opinions.’ …… Do you not realize how arrogant it is for you to believe that you are in a position to grant me permission to have my own opinions?”

            You’re confused. I’m not trying to grant you any permission whatsoever. I’m explaining my view (and God’s decree) that you’re free to have your own opinions. I say this in response to your continuing accusations that I’m trying to bully and threaten you.

          24. “First, you don’t accept my explanation that the law is fulfilled in Jesus Christ,” …… You never offered an explanation. You merely stated it as a given fact without providing any kind of substantiating evidence. For starters, you’d have to back up and prove that “the law” is something that could be and was intended to be “fulfilled,” and what phenomena would constitute its fulfillment. Only then would it be meaningful to claim that Jesus Christ fulfilled the law. And then you’d still have all your work ahead of you in proving that he did so.

            “Without the Holy Spirit convicting you of sin and showing you the truth, you have no reason to believe. To you, it’s foolishness.” …… You’re partially right. It is foolishness.

            “No, I’m presenting it as the truth. You’re free to reject it, but I provide it for your future reference.” …… Right. Because without you, I would never have heard the Biblical claims (that’s sarcasm). I know you want to think of yourself as some kind of modern-day apostle, but I had the Bible preached to me my entire life so you’re not telling me anything I haven’t heard a thousand times before. So far, I haven’t heard any sound arguments or convincing evidence supporting the Bible’s truth claims. On the other hand, many things in the Bible are demonstrably false. So, it’s not looking good for Biblical literalists.

            “Straw man. Being given new life in Christ, the believer receives the evidence in the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit illumines scripture. First comes the saving grace from God, and then comes the evidence.” …… That’s a perfectly unfalsifiable proposition, and therefore meaningless. How convenient. Or, put another way, “only those who believe can believe,” which is a perfectly insignificant statement.

            “Save yourself the work of cutting & pasting. I figured you were going to spring the Hitchens argument about Exodus 20/34.” …… Hitchens argument?

            “I didn’t say all, or even most, of Exodus 34 is comprised of the Decalogue.” …… You didn’t have to say it. Exodus 34 says it.

            “Exodus 34 focuses on idolatry and proper ceremonial worship, given the Israelite’s previous transgression in making the golden calf. The Decalogue written in stone, the first time and the second time, is the exact same ten commandments, whether referenced in Exodus chapter 20 or chapter 34. Chapter 20 is obviously the fuller, comprehensive account of the Decalogue, while chapter 34 alludes to the action of Moses etching all ten of them again in only three verses (1, 4 and 28).” …… The text doesn’t support that. You’re making assumptions and reading things into the narrative in order to cover up the contradiction inherent in the plain text.

            “As for your blindness, that’s an appropriate analogy for your spiritual condition, and it’s biblical.” …… Saying “it’s biblical” does not lend it any more credibility than if you said it was Homeric. As I’ve pointed out, the concept you’re putting forth is fundamentally fallacious. It boils down to special pleading and meaningless claims (e.g., You can’t see the muddy footprints, only we specially chosen people can see them / Only people who believe can believe). If that’s all you have to offer, I feel sorry for you. Moreover, before anyone takes seriously your claims about “spiritual conditions,” you need to define what they are and prove that they exist.

            “Saved from righteous judgment according to my sins, of course. We’ve all sinned, and God is just. We who are saved in Jesus Christ thank God that He’s merciful and took the penalty for our sins.” …… So many assumptions. What are sins? How do you know that “God” is just? What is God? What’s so “merciful” about a deity that creates sin in the first place and tortures inferior beings?

            “It’s odd indeed, from a man’s perspective, but it works according to God’s wisdom.” ….. What perspective do we have other than human perspective? Are you claiming to have full understanding of God’s wisdom now?

            “Check this out: ‘For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe’ (1Co 1:21).” …… So what? It’s called anti-intellectualism. Though its prevalence waxes and wanes, strains of it have always existed in civilized cultures. In the context of religion, it’s used to keep people ignorant and gullible so that they won’t see the contradictions and absurdities of religious teachings.

            “I serve a Holy and righteous God, whose words are given in scripture” …… Again, so many assumptions in everything you say. How do you know “God” is holy and righteous? How do you know its words are given in scripture? If you respond with some hocus-pocus about indwelling ghosts, that’s not a real answer. It doesn’t explain anything; it only raises more questions that can only be answered with more hocus-pocus. In any case, it’s clear that you don’t serve anything other than a childish need for comfort, wish-fulfillment, and reassurance against your fear of death.

            ” — words that instruct me to love my enemies, to communicate gently to them and to pray for them.” …… As for “communicating gently,” I’ll remind you once again that you trolled me with a verbal attack that was not even related to the original topic of my comment. So you just exposed your holier-than-thou Christian arrogance. You flat-out lied in a self-serving attempt to make yourself look better than me.

            “You, on the other hand, serve your own desires in all things.” …… Who are you trying to kid, yourself or me? The fact is, you don’t have any knowledge of what I do. I serve real, living people, not speculative, otherworldly, totalitarian-minded spirits. On the other hand, it’s obvious that you spend a great deal of time online, lurking and trolling, and concocting theological (i.e., imaginary) excuses for your poor behavior.

          25. I’m a freelance writer, which affords me a lot of flexibility in participating in online forums such as this.

            “What perspective do we have other than human perspective?”

            God’s perspective, of course.

            “Are you claiming to have full understanding of God’s wisdom now?”

            I don’t claim to have full understanding of God’s wisdom, but I do lean on it rather than my own understanding. I’ve been claiming this the whole time. God’s wisdom is revealed in his word, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit brings it to my understanding. This doesn’t make me unique — it only makes me a follower of Christ.

            You say I verbally attacked you. That’s pretty strong language — please provide some evidence.

            Speaking of evidence, you keep demanding evidence for God’s existence, the truth of the Bible and, ultimately, the truth in Jesus Christ. Tell me, then:

            What substantive evidence would you accept that would irrefutably prove to you that God exists?

          26. “I’m a freelance writer”
            What have you written? Anything I might’ve read?

            “which affords me a lot of flexibility in participating in online forums such as this.”
            This doesn’t refute my point. In fact, it reinforces it. Evidently, when you’re not engaged in “freelance writing,” you choose to spend your time lurking & trolling online. In my opinion, you’d do better to spend your free time serving people in need in the real world.

            “God’s perspective, of course.”
            You have yet to provide any clear proof that such a thing as “God” exists, let alone what its perspective might be. Indeed, you have yet to provide even a lucid, meaningful explanation of what you mean by “God.” Honestly, everything you’ve said so far has only served to convince me more that the Biblical God is a fiction. You really haven’t offered anything that’s even slightly convincing.

            “I don’t claim to have full understanding of God’s wisdom, but I do lean on it rather than my own understanding.”
            Superstition and magical thinking of this kind is the biggest problem humanity faces.

            “God’s wisdom is revealed in his word, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit brings it to my understanding.”
            I understand that you’ve been able to interpret the Bible and read between the lines in such a way that comforts you, but that does not lend any credibility to the metaphysical abstractions about which you speak.

            “You say I verbally attacked you. That’s pretty strong language — please provide some evidence.”
            Go back and look at your initial response to my original comment on the above article. Tell me what your words to me had to do with the topic of the article. I’ll save you the trouble. Your first words to me had nothing to do with the topic of the article. Your remark was tangential, snarky, intended to provoke/antagonize.

            “Speaking of evidence, you keep demanding evidence for God’s existence,”
            Wrong again. I’m not “demanding” anything. You showed up out of the blue and started preaching to me. I’m simply stating that if you want me to take you seriously, you need to provide evidence/arguement more convincing than an ancient anthology of the folklore of ancient peoples known to be highly superstitious. I’m not demanding anything; you’re the one asserting an unlikely claim, so the burden of proof is on you.

            “Tell me, then: What substantive evidence would you accept that would irrefutably prove to you that God exists?”
            If a god wanted something from me, it would let me know. It wouldn’t leave the task of passing along vital information to reporters known to be unreliable. If a god wanted me to know something, it would deliver the message itself, clearly and directly. Its message wouldn’t be endlessly confused, garbled, and misused. A god’s message of any importance would be obvious and well demonstrated. It should be indisputably clear what the deity wants and doesn’t want us to do. Any disputes would be easily rectified by reference to its clearly communicated message (in whatever form it was delivered). The fact that believers can’t agree on who/what the deity is, or the content of its message, refutes the idea that there is an omnipotent deity that wants humans to understand their duty. In addition, the message would need to be durable and contemporary. Apparently, if you lived a couple thousand years ago, evidence for “God” was easy to come by. He was writing books; parting oceans; making personal appearances in clouds, bushes, and columns of fire; he was enjoying the smell of burning animal flesh from the many gory animal sacrifices that he demanded; he was walking around healing people; walking on water; turning water into wine, etc. And he was doing all this repeatedly and in front of many witnesses. But now, 2,000 years later, we’re all obliged to believe these ancient tales without the benefit of contemporary evidence. If a god revealed itself, I would believe in it. But where are his personal appearances? Where are the miracles? And if we don’t believe it, then the so-called “loving and merciful God” will torture us (flawed and inferior beings) forever. Puh-lease. Besides, so what if people are unwilling to believe? What kind of “superior” being abandons weak, vulnerable, “inferior” beings? If I saw someone trying to commit suicide, I would try to save them even if they didn’t want to be saved. But not the God of Good, not the Prince of Peace. No way, sir. If you don’t kneel and worship him willingly, he tortures you forever. What kind of insecure egomaniac is this God of yours? In conclusion, yes, if there were a god, it would be capable of providing evidence that I would accept as proof of it’s existence. But there’s no evidence, just lots of special pleading and “dragons in the garage.” Now tell me, what evidence would you accept that would irrefutably prove to you that the Biblical God doesn’t exist?

            Lastly, do you deny that people of other faiths hold their beliefs with as much conviction as you hold yours? For example, do you deny that there are devout Muslims whose faith is as sincere as yours?

          27. Judging by your wall-o-text replies, you spend at least as much time here as I do. As for your advice for the best use of my time, I don’t value your opinion.

            I asked you for evidence that I verbally attacked you, and you just waved your hands. That’s not evidence.

            “I’m not ‘demanding’ anything… you need to provide evidence/arguement… I’m not demanding anything… the burden of proof is on you.”

            Oh boy.

            “If a god revealed itself, I would believe in it.”

            What revelation would satisfy you, exactly? I asked you to describe the evidence you would accept as proof, and all you did was rant.

            “If I saw someone trying to commit suicide, I would try to save them even if they didn’t want to be saved.”

            This is exactly what I’m doing for you, friend.

            “Lastly, do you deny that people of other faiths hold their beliefs with as much conviction as you hold yours?”

            I don’t deny that false beliefs are rampant, and people believe strongly in them. You’re a prime example.

            “If there were a god, it would be capable of providing evidence that I would accept as proof of it’s existence.”

            Once again, for the cheap seats: What evidence, exactly, would satisfy you and prove that God exists?

          28. “Judging by your wall-o-text replies, you spend at least as much time here as I do.”
            Wrong again. I don’t spend time here at all. I get an email notification when you reply to me. Then it sometimes takes me 1, 2, or even 3 days to reply back. You, on the other hand, respond within a few hours, if not immediately, which suggests that you are lurking. Check the dates and times, and you will see that this is true. Why are you being dishonest? As for my “wall-o-text replies,” I would think that an accomplished writer such as yourself would find my breezy missives to be short and sweet. I don’t find anything here to be long-winded, and I’m not even a “freelance writer.” Maybe you have difficulty reading. If so, there are tutoring programs that can help you with that. By the way, I notice that you didn’t answer my question about what you’ve written in your “freelance” work.

            “As for your advice for the best use of my time, I don’t value your opinion.”
            The feeling is mutual. I gave you the benefit of the doubt at first, kept an open mind as I always do; but in all this time you haven’t presented any convincing ideas or even any interesting ones. You merely offer the same old special pleading and “dragons in the garage” that have already been debunked a million times.

            “I asked you for evidence that I verbally attacked you, and you just waved your hands. That’s not evidence.”
            You’re being very dishonest. I pointed you to the verifiable evidence. Just scroll up; it’s right there for you to read. You’re deliberately choosing not to look at it. In addition, Disqus tracks all your posts. So all you have to do is go back and look at your very first outreach to me, and you will see that it was a snarky, provocative comment that had nothing to do with the topic of the present article. By flat-out denying the verifiable textual evidence, you’re setting a very poor example of Christian honesty.

            “Oh boy.”
            An epic dodge in lieu of honestly dealing with the facts.

            “What revelation would satisfy you, exactly? I asked you to describe the evidence you would accept as proof, and all you did was rant.”
            Evidently, you have difficulties with reading comprehension. Go back and read my “rant” more carefully. It contains the answer to your question. I compared the “evidence” that was allegedly available in the ancient past to the “evidence” that’s on offer in the present day. If you didn’t comprehend it, then, again, there are tutors who can help you with reading comprehension.

            “This is exactly what I’m doing for you, friend.”
            Only in your fantasies. All you’re doing is spouting laughable metaphysical abstractions, and pretending that your preachings are beneficial to humanity. But they’re obviously not. If I see a drowning child and I jump in to save his life, he lives. If you see a drowning child and ask the Holy Ghost to save him, he dies. Your inane words about speculative spirits and afterlives do not compare to helping people in the real world.

            “I don’t deny that false beliefs are rampant, and people believe strongly in them. You’re a prime example.”
            So then: we’ve established that a Muslim (for example) can be as sincere and as certain of his faith as you are of yours. If he can be mistaken about his certainty, then so can you be about yours.

          29. I have reading comprehension issues, so please repeat for me here the exact evidence for God that would prove His existence to you today.

          30. Per your request, I’m repeating this paragraph from my previous post:
            If a god wanted something from me, it would let me know. It wouldn’t leave the task of passing along vital information to [human] reporters known to be unreliable. If a god wanted me to know something, it would deliver the message itself, clearly and directly. Its message wouldn’t be endlessly confused, garbled, and misused. A god’s message of any importance would be obvious and well demonstrated. It should be indisputably clear what the deity wants and doesn’t want us to do. Any disputes would be easily rectified by reference to its clearly communicated message (in whatever form it was delivered). The fact that believers can’t agree on who/what the deity is, or the content of its message, refutes the idea that there is an omnipotent deity that wants humans to understand their duty. In addition, the message would need to be durable and contemporary. Apparently, if you lived a couple thousand years ago, evidence for “God” was easy to come by. He was writing books; parting oceans; making personal appearances in clouds, bushes, and columns of fire; he was enjoying the smell of burning animal flesh from the many gory animal sacrifices that he demanded; he was walking around healing people; walking on water; turning water into wine, etc. And he was doing all this repeatedly and in front of many witnesses. But now, 2,000 years later, we’re all obliged to believe these ancient tales without the benefit of contemporary evidence. If a god revealed itself, I would believe in it. But where are his personal appearances? Where are the miracles? …

            So, the “exact evidence” to which you’re trying to pin me down could involve an almost infinite variety of occurrences. But in short, the simplest evidence would be for “God” to be present in this world in ways similar to the ways that he was allegedly present in “Biblical times.” I emphasize the caveat that rumor and hearsay are never sufficient to establish a miracle. The divine manifestations would have to be direct. They would need to be confirmed and corroborated by many independent, unbiased witnesses. In fact, considering the majesty and the salvific purposes attributed to “God,” every human being should be provided with the direct, verifiable evidence fist-hand. The evidence/manifestations would have to be objectively/scientifically verifiable. Basically, the existence of “God” would be as evident as the existence of Donald Trump.

            Now tell me, what evidence would you accept that would irrefutably prove to you that the Biblical God doesn’t exist?

            Also, what have you written as a freelance writer? I never met a freelance writer as reluctant to promote their work as you seem to be.

            Also, what did your initial reply to me have to do with the topic of the present article? Or do you finally acknowledge the demonstrable proof (above) that you trolled me?

          31. 2000 years from now, people could very easily doubt that Donald Trump ever existed. It was all fake news and holograms.

            Anyway, it sounds like you would like Jesus to visit every person on earth and perform miracles for them. Since new people are being born all the time, Jesus would have to stay and perform for people until the end of the world.

            Do I have that right? If Jesus performed for you personally, and for everyone else, then you would believe?

            People would still die, you understand. Many people would be angry at Jesus for allowing people to die, and would demand that He puts an end to it. If death continues, goes their thinking, then God is either a fraud or the devil.

            Would you be one of those people, or would you be satisfied after you received the personal Jesus performance? If you continued in belief, lots of people would say you’re gullible. They would mock your beliefs online and call you names. Cool with that?

            Before leaving, Jesus would command you to repent from your sins, you know. Would you keep His commandments?

            “Now tell me, what evidence would you accept that would irrefutably prove to you that the Biblical God doesn’t exist?”

            Knowing the truth, all evidence irrefutably proves God to me.

            “Also, what have you written as a freelance writer? I never met a freelance writer as reluctant to promote their work as you seem to be.”

            I write copy for private clients.

            “Also, what did your initial reply to me have to do with the topic of the present article?”

            My initial reply to you was a reply to you, not a statement about the present article.

          32. “2000 years from now, people could very easily doubt that Donald Trump ever existed. It was all fake news and holograms.”
            Your analogy doesn’t apply. As I said, the existence of “God” would be as evident as the existence of Donald Trump. That’s for me and my contemporaries. But 2,000 years from now, the existence of “God” would be as evident as the existence of the major public figures of that time and place, because “God” would still be as active and as obviously present in the world then as now. I stated this explicitly when I said “the message [i.e., the evidence] would need to be durable and contemporary.” Did you skip that sentence? Again, reading comprehension!

            “Jesus would have to stay and perform for people until the end of the world.”
            Yes, that’s right. Isn’t he omnipotent enough to manage it? Would he get tired out? More to the point, why did a few people 2,000 years ago get to meet “God” in-person and witness his miracles, but the rest of us are expected to pass an arbitrary and childish test of faith?

            “People would still die, you understand. Many people would be angry at Jesus for allowing people to die, and would demand that He puts an end to it. If death continues, goes their thinking, then God is either a fraud or the devil.”
            That’s highly speculative. You don’t know how people would react if they had clear, obvious, incontrovertible evidence of a deity who loves and cares for them, and assures them that paradise awaits them after death. Why would they be angry about death in that situation? Wait a second. Don’t YOU believe in salvation? Are YOU angry at Jesus for allowing people to die? Do YOU demand that he puts an end to it? Have YOU concluded that he is either a fraud or the devil? I’m guessing you answered ‘no’ to those questions. So, if you haven’t concluded that God is a fraud or the devil, then why would the believers who have Jesus teaching them in-person conclude that he is a fraud or the devil? And with that your entire speculative story-line falls apart. Try harder next time.

            “Knowing the truth, all evidence irrefutably proves God to me.”
            What evidence? You haven’t presented any. Also, you’re confusing believing with knowing. They are two completely different things. It’s a failed epistemology. Again, a sincere Muslim “knows” that his faith is the one, true faith. If he can be mistaken, then so can you be. Until one of you presents evidence, it’s all just hot air.

            “I write copy for private clients.”
            That’s suspiciously vague. What kinds of subjects do you write about? Is it published material, or some kind of internal, organization-specific documents?

            “My initial reply to you was a reply to you, not a statement about the present article.” Exactly. That’s what I’ve been saying. When you lurk in the comments section and post snarky, deliberately provocative replies that have nothing to do with the topic under discussion, that’s trolling. Thank you for admitting your trollishness.

          33. Someone’s been deleting some of my responses to you. This one got deleted, for example:

            No, I believe the revelation of God in His word is absolutely true. I don’t claim that my judgments are facts; I claim that the judgment of God is righteous, and His word is true.

            I said gospel, which is the saving work of Jesus Christ. My interpretation of the gospel is standard among Christians. What I said about standing condemned by God because of your sin is Christianity 101 across all denominations.

            I know that God will render His promised judgments because I believe the Bible. I know you don’t believe it, but that’s your problem.

            “What exactly is the law?”

            Besides the decalogue, the Bible is clear on the greatest commandment:

            “Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets” (Matt 22:37-40).

            Yes, you’re powerless to save yourself. You’re already dead in your sins. Unless God gives you a new heart and changes your desire to sin — unless God saves you out of His abundant mercy and gives you new life — you will get exactly what you deserve.

            If we saved ourselves, we’d have reason to boast. God does it all, and deserves all the glory for saving a wretch like me.

            This doctrine, which is called monergism, is debated among Christians. Yes, it’s true. Some Christians believe in decisional regeneration, which has become popular in America. You’ll hear it preached as “come to Jesus,” “choose Jesus,” “decide today to accept Jesus.” You’ll find no appeals like this in the Bible.

            Thank God that neither belief affects the gospel or salvation. However, it affects how you deliver the gospel, for sure. For instance, I’m not asking you to take some action to save yourself. When I say you need to believe in Christ to be born again and saved, I’m giving you an indicative (a descriptive fact), not an imperative (a prescriptive instruction). I’m just giving you the plain gospel truth, and you’re free to reject it if you so desire. That’s cool with me. I’m saddened that you’re a lost soul, but I respect your freedom to follow your own desires. The Holy Spirit must intervene and save you.

            Tons of issues that don’t affect the gospel are debated among Christians, such as eschatology and various details of liturgy like types of worship music, and none of them have any bearing on salvation. I count myself a brother to Christians from lots of denominations. I thank God that He doesn’t force us all to listen to the same worship music in church!

          34. Friend, you are the neediest lurker I’ve ever encountered. There is a world out there away from your screen, you know. You should check it out sometime. It’s much more edifying than being a 24-hour troll.

          35. “Go ahead and google some so-called contradictions, and I’ll be happy to point out your error.” I don’t need to Google anything, thank you. Please tell me, according to the Gospels, what is the name of Joseph’s (Mary’s husband) father?

          36. Depends on if we care about the Davidic line (as in Matthew) or the physical line (as in Luke). It would appear that Jacob died and his brother, Heli, married His brother’s widow and conceived Joseph. According to Hebrew tradition, either Jacob or Heli could be called the father of Joseph, depending on the sense. Thus the language “as was supposed” in the Lukan genealogy.

          37. There’s some serious apologetic acrobatics. Look how simple this is. My dad’s name was Anthony. His dad’s name was Raymond. Easy-peasy. If you’re explanation is correct, then why doesn’t it say that in the Bible? God’s poor writing skills? You’re inventing facts that aren’t there. “It would appear that Jacob died….” Well, I can just as easily say that it would appear that different gospellers filled in different background details to the bare-bones Jesus legends.

          38. Apologetic acrobatics? It’s a matter of reading the whole Bible.

            “If brethren dwell together, and one of them die, and have no child, the wife of the dead shall not marry without unto a stranger: her husband’s brother shall go in unto her, and take her to him to wife, and perform the duty of an husband’s brother unto her” (Deut 25:5).

            “Moses said, If a man die, having no children, his brother shall marry his wife, and raise up seed unto his brother. Now there were with us seven brethren: and the first, when he had married a wife, deceased, and, having no issue, left his wife unto his brother” (Matt 22:24-25).

            There’s nothing mysterious about the Levirate marriage laws. Go ahead an google it.

            You know what constitutes apologetic acrobatics? The materialist explanation (or lack thereof) for everything.

          39. I have read the whole Bible. Neither Matthew or Luke mentions Levirate marriage in their given genealogies. But it doesn’t matter. Your Levirate marriage hypothesis might make sense if it were only a name or two that didn’t match. But that’s not the case. The majority of names in the two genealogies don’t match. The number of generations don’t match. (And Matthew apparently couldn’t even count, because the third section of his list doesn’t add up to 14 generations as he says it does.) So by your logic, the majority of offspring in the genealogies would’ve had to be from Levirate marriage, which makes it all the more suspicious that neither evangelist bothered to mention it.

          40. If I refute everything you just said, will you just go back to google for more ammunition? I just want to know how long you want to play. At what point in having your so-called contradictions refuted will you be satisfied?

            To be clear, I’ll be happy to refute every issue you’ve raised (it’s not difficult). I just want to clear idea of your own goals here. A hater of God’s word will continue to hate, no matter how long we go at it. Is there any limit to your objections?

            Perhaps you should try to find some fulcrum of disbelief. By that I mean, is there any contradiction you find in the Bible that, if it were refuted, you would stop protesting and start trying to understand in honesty?

          41. Calling ancient writings “God’s word” does not prove that they are “God’s word.” What evidence do you have to support this highly unlikely claim? You’re illogical. I can’t be a hater of something that I don’t believe in. I can’t hate “God’s word” if I don’t believe it exists. Give me some proof of “God’s word” and I’ll believe it.

          42. I already told you that you cannot benefit from the evidence because you’re blind to it. You must be born again. You must be transformed by the renewing of your mind. God the Father must draw you to the Son. You’re dead in your trespasses and sin.

            I’m only hear to give you the bad news, and the good news. God must save you. You cannot save yourself — otherwise, you would have reason to boast.

          43. “I already told you that you cannot benefit from the evidence because you’re blind to it.” Monumental cop out. Again what evidence or even reasonable argument can you offer in support of claims like “You must be born again…. God the Father must draw you to the Son…. God must save you.” Your position boils down to this: if you were a believer you would believe all these baseless, outlandish, nonsensical claims; but since you’re a non-believer you won’t believe them.

          44. Yes, that’s basically my position.

            “The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1Co 2:14).

            I’m not bothered at all that you find the wisdom of God to be foolishness. You’re just a man.

          45. Stop playing the persecution card. It is not my aim to bother you. Recall, you began this dialogue with a tangential attempt to antagonize me..

          46. Your response makes no sense. I said I’m not bothered at all. No persecution card played, friend.

          47. At least two times you have remarked that my comments or my viewpoint doesn’t bother you. But I never claimed to be a bother to you. Why do you keep making a point of saying that you are not bothered? Seems like a pretty big ego problem to think that I’m here just to bother you.

          48. “Do you think slavery in the Bible is the same as slavery in antebellum America? Yes or no?” No, slavery in the Bible was not the same as in antebellum America. But it was still slavery.

          49. Do you think slavery in Israel was more regulated or less regulated by the Mosaic law than in all the surrounding nations at the time?

          50. Doesn’t matter. Slavery is slavery. There’s no way to sugar-coat it or ameliorate it. Owning human beings as material possessions is always and everywhere wrong. It is one of the very few absolutes that I will sign on to. The fact that “God” condones slavery in any form at any time, while condemning people to heinous execution by lapidation, followed by eternal torment, for the most insignificant infractions and petty thought-crimes, renders such a “God” a moral monster. The good news, of course, is that “He” is a purely fictional character.

          51. Where did you get that absolute moral sense of yours? Certainly, you have a basis for it.

          52. It’s complicated, of course, but basically, I reasoned it out from careful consideration of various teachings, compared with my own experience and observation of the human condition (and by extension, all living creatures).

          53. God is not a puppet master who hides us from our own error due to sin, but His infallible word does provide a light of guidance and a rock of foundation in Jesus Christ. Men are free to fall into confusion as they will — you’re a prime example of that, friend — dare I say, proof of that.

        2. “Good thing we’ve been given the Bible to keep us from straying into error.” Yeah, that has worked out just fine. That’s why there are tens of thousands of different Christianities, each with its own interpretation of the infallible Word Of God. You would think that an omniscient, omnipotent, omnibenevolent deity would be capable of writing a book that wouldn’t be so easily misinterpreted, especially since “his” presumed motive for writing his bestseller was to “keep us from straying into error.” In short, by your own reasoning, God failed. His patchwork instruction manual is endlessly self-contradictory and has led to utter confusion among the people it was intended to guide.

    2. “The gospel is that Jesus Christ died to save sinners, and as He gave His life in mercy and love for them,” Yeah, right. Jesus makes up rules that humans don’t/can’t follow (thus, sin). So then Jesus comes up with a plan to save the so-called sinners from the rules that he made up in the first place. The plan is for Jesus to get himself cruelly and gruesomely executed as a blood sacrifice to himself. This is the best plan of salvation that an allegedly omniscient, omnipotent, omnibenevolent deity can come up with?! It’s absurd. No mentally sound person would believe this rubbish; so Christianity can only survive by brainwashing young, impressionable children.

      1. It takes a special kind of arrogance to believe you can imagine a better plan for salvation than God. Your petulant rant amounts to baseless slander of God, otherwise known as blasphemy. I’m hardly surprised, though — it’s a natural reaction. What you need is a renewed mind that comes only with new life in Jesus Christ.

        1. It takes a special kind of willful ignorance to set aside rational thought and scientific discovery and believe the tall tales of the bible. You engage, ask what issues people have with your supposedly infallible book, then yell “blasphemy!” instead of addressing the logical failures of the Jesus story. What a bunch of horseshit. Sorry, but biblical laws don’t apply to those who realize it’s a bunch of nonsesnse. I also wear mixed fabrics and eat shellfish with impunity. It’s very freeing.

          1. I’m not setting aside rational thought and scientific discovery — I embrace both of those things. What I set aside are the foolish assumptions and superstitions of men, particularly those assumptions that are blindly believed because they deny the one true and living God.

            I didn’t yell “blasphemy!” I find it funny that you’d say that right below my actual use of the word.

            What “logical failures of the Jesus story” were raised in S. Arch’s rant? You confuse opinionated enmity with logic.

            I wear mixed fabrics and eat shellfish as well. Thank God I live under the new covenant in Jesus Christ, and not under the Mosaic law.

          2. Wrong. You set aside both. You set aside rational thought by clinging to a belief in a deity when there’s no demonstrable proof of any existing ever, and much more evidence that if a creator exists, it sure as hell isn’t omnipotent or benevolent. You set aside scientific discovery when you say things like: “It’s sad that you believe your moral sense came by chance interactions of matter and energy.” Yeah, that’s textbook anti-science rhetoric. Now go ahead with your nonsense reply. You’re really good at them. All preaching, zero substance, and a total lack of self-awareness. Aaaaand GO.

          3. I like that you used the idiom, “sure as hell.”

            To say it’s absurd to believe that your moral sense came by chance interactions of matter and energy is not “textbook anti-science rhetoric.” Find me the science textbook that gives you this explanation of the origin of morality, and I’ll show you an unscientific atheist tract.

          4. I’m the guy who said it was an idiom. My only point is that I like that you used it. You’ve got a habit of jumping to unfounded conclusions.

          5. My rant? I merely pointed out the absurdities of Christian theology. Not a rant at all. I think critiquing religious beliefs tends to sound like a rant, because the concepts are so outrageous in their own right. No matter how calm and rational one is being, it’s still difficult to talk about ideas like virgin births and atonement through blood sacrifice without sounding hyperbolic.

          6. How about the absurdity of you coming from nothing through chance plus time? Do the terms “quantum” and “gravity” somehow make the proposition more credible in your mind? Tell me, since you’re so rational: why have you trusted such an absurd notion? And don’t try to tell me it’s provisional — you’ve got a full-on blind faith in materialism, without a shred of evidence.

          7. The straw-man arguments of “chance plus time” have been debunked many times over. Go do some reading and then come back. I don’t have time to educate you. No, the mere words “quantum” and “gravity” do not make anything credible in my mind. But the repeatable/testable results that are achievable through the application of the theoretical frameworks called “quantum” and “gravity” do warrant limited, tentative credence.

            I don’t have full-on blind faith in anything. That sounds like you’re projecting your own epistemology onto me. I find most scientific explanations of the world to be more convincing, because they make repeatable/testable predictions, than religious/supernatural explanations, which make no repeatable/testable predictions, and thus amount to little more than fables unless one invests them with full-on blind faith without a shred of evidence.

          8. What do you mean by “repeatable/testable results that are achievable through the application of the theoretical frameworks?” Are you talking about computer models? I worked for over 25 years as a software architect, and I spent some time in research with ANNs, genetic algorithms and deep learning. The models are bunk. Complexity doesn’t emerge from randomness without memory and goal-seeking heuristics. Without a design, you get meaninglessness.

            You’ve got full-on blind faith in everything, my friend. Even before I was saved (for 40 years), I didn’t have faith in the materialist worldview. I knew the emperor wore no clothes. I’m a consistent skeptic, unlike you.

            Yes, I have evidence. If you have eyes, you’ll see it. Without eyes, you’re blind to it.

            When looking for explanations of the world, I too look to science. I appreciate true phenomenological scientific enquiry. What I despise, however, is the self-deceiving presupposition of materialist godlessness. There’s no basis for that, and all the theories that have been propped up, from Darwin to Hawking, are completely laughable. Fables, without a shred of evidence.

          9. If science didn’t work, we couldn’t be having this discussion right now. Science works. Meanwhile, cancer still exists, though millions of sincere, believing Christians have been praying for a cure for longer than I’ve been alive.

          10. I affirm that science works. I don’t know where you get the audacity to claim you have a monopoly on science over the believer, but it’s a ridiculous assumption. I like science. I use science. I don’t believe the godless theories that lack all evidence — because they’re rubbish.

            As for cancer, may I point out that we’ve got death. Why not ask for a cure for death while you’re at it? Why not pray for an absence of all sickness, all hunger, all suffering? Come on, man — have some guts and just ask for it all while you’re at it.

          11. Don’t tell me. I’m not the one doing the praying. Tell it to the prayer proponents who claim that anything is possible through prayer.

          12. Is there an echo in here, or am I hearing the careless response of a mocking child?

          13. “Yes, I have evidence. If you have eyes, you’ll see it. Without eyes, you’re blind to it.” A childish comment like that, doesn’t deserve anything more than to be mocked. And speaking of childishness, this whole exchange began when you showed up and attempted to antagonize me with a comment that had nothing to do with the original article above — very troll-like and childish.

          1. You have a very manly understanding of power, which is to say you’re foolish. God is so powerful that He works through weak men, so that no man can glory in himself, but only in God.

          2. That’s very humble of you, if you have an imaginary friend who supposedly runs the universe and who still finds time to give you orders to boss other people around, to still call yourself a “weak man.”

          3. “That’s very humble of you, if you have an imaginary friend who supposedly runs the universe and who still finds time to give you orders to boss other people around, to still call yourself a ‘weak man.'”

            You must think it’s arrogant to believe in an almighty savior. That’s very revealing about your opinion.

          4. Yes, it’s a little arrogant (or delusional) to believe your imaginary friend created the universe and is everyone else’s almighty savior.

          5. My imaginary friend? Are you under the impression that I wrote the Bible?

            Given your perspective, delusional makes sense. Arrogant makes no sense.

            Furthermore, you’re the one who’s constructed his own worldview, even to the exclusion of his creator. Now that’s arrogant.

          6. The Christian bible is not proof of the existence of Yahweh any more than Beowulf is proof of Grendel or the Iliad is proof of the Pantheon of Greek gods. If I came up to you and insisted that you needed to worship Zeus or Mars and said you were an awful person who only wanted to satisfy the pleasures of the flesh when you declined to worship either god, you might think I was a little arrogant. In fact, anyone who pushes their own world view on others and says they know how to run your life better than you do when they don’t even know you is arrogant.

          7. Re: “Do you think it’s possible for anyone to know the truth?”
            No. But I do think it’s possible for someone to say reasonably what’s not the truth, e.g. Christianity.

          8. “Do you think it’s possible for anyone to know the truth?”

            “No.”

            That’s a truth claim, you know, and it’s self-contradictory. If you were consistent, you would leave open the possibility that people can know the truth. But instead, you say “No” definitively, as if you know the truth about the matter.

            Do you want to adjust your answer now?

          9. Re: “Do you want to adjust your answer now?”
            No. Look up at the stars at night and ask yourself what kind of fool can say he knows “the truth” about where the universe and humanity came from, especially one who assumes “the truth” was captured in a 1700-or-so-year-old anthology of ancient lore.

          10. I know only the truths that God has revealed in His inspired word.

            Only a fool makes the claim, Nobody can no the truth, and that’s the truth!

            Just because you’re ignorant of the truth — which you freely admit — that doesn’t mean everyone shares your ignorance. To think everyone must be as ignorant as you is the height of arrogance.

          11. Re: “The only true wisdom is knowing you know nothing.”

            Why do you believe that is the truth?

          12. You didn’t get it. You’re the guy who professes he knows nothing. I was only reminding you of your own foolish philosophy.

          13. Socrates professed he knew nothing. I said you can’t know “the truth.” You professed you know it all, which according to Socrates, means you know nothing.

          14. Why did you quote Socrates? Do you agree with the quote or not?

            I never professed to know it all. I profess to know the truth, Jesus Christ.

          15. If Jesus Christ is the myth that suits you, that’s fine, but you don’t get to tell other people what their “truth” is.

          16. “Their ‘truth’,” you say? Do you believe objective truth exists, or do you think it’s all relative?

          17. I know what a false dilemma is. Asking if you believe in objective truth is not a false dilemma. Plenty of people believe that all truth is relative. They’re called relativists.

          18. I don’t know enough philosophy to be a relativist, but there are things you’ll know and things you’ll never know. Do you know where Jimmy Hoffa is? Do you know who killed Tupac? Do you know how the universe or mankind came to exist? (Spoiler: No, no, no, and no.)

          19. So you think it’s absolutely impossible that God created the universe and gave us a book about it, right?

          20. Of course it does. The question was “So you think it’s absolutely impossible that God created the universe and gave us a book about it, right?”
            You don’t even believe that happened, and you’re clearly inclined to believe some wacky scat.

          21. Paul is long dead; what some people think is his body consists of dust and a few bone fragments. He lived about 1,900 years ago and about 5,000 miles away from me. If you want to consider what he supposedly wrote to various Roman churches and tribes as personal messages addressed to you, then have at it. But please leave me out of that particular fantasy.

          22. Says the guy who quoted Socrates, a man who lived about 2,400 years ago.

            And we have more manuscript evidence for what Paul wrote than anything Socrates said.

            Man, it’s embarrassing to witness you fumble all over yourself.

          23. Paul’s dead and doesn’t talk directly to me. Never said he did, and you’re out of line calling me an idiot.

          24. (edit) Re: “Paul’s dead and doesn’t talk directly to me. Never said he did”)
            Earlier, you said, “Paul is talking about you.” (Edit: Notice the present tense.)
            Re: “you’re out of line calling me an idiot.”
            That’s rich.

          25. Yes, Paul is talking about you — in that passage.

            That doesn’t mean I think Paul was talking directly to me.

            Seriously? That’s what you think?

          26. So you think it’s a claim that I think Paul talks directly to me. Do I have that right? That’s how you interpret it?

          27. I don’t know what weirdness you believe. For all I know, you believe in talking snakes and zombie Jesus.

          28. You mean the words “Paul is talking about you,” written in present tense? Those words?

          29. Are you still unclear about that, or do you have some words of mine explaining what I mean by that?

          30. I’m a bit shocked that you interpret (and continue to interpret) it that way, but whatever.

            The quote comes from Romans 1:18-22, and it’s about the evidence for God being obvious in everything He’s created, and that’s why nobody has an excuse, but some people became vain in their thinking and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, Paul writes, they became fools.

            Paul is indeed talking about you in that passage, not me (as you first asserted).

            To be clear, I don’t think the dead talk to me, even the holy men of God like Paul who wrote scripture as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. In fact, knowing the Bible, I’m absolutely sure that the dead don’t talk to me.

            Glad we could clear that up.

          31. Re: “Professing themselves to be wise, Paul writes, they became fools.”
            I’m not the one saying I know “the truth.”

        2. Talk about “baseless.” First you have to prove there is a such thing as a “god.” Only then is it possible to slander it. Moreover, it takes neither arrogance nor imagination to devise a better plan for salvation than the one that’s so sloppily and unconvincingly portrayed in the Bible. What you need is a renewed mind that comes only with the adoption of reason and the relinquishing of childish dependence on an invincible father-figure.

          1. Why do you put God in quotes? I don’t put evolution in quotes, even though I know it’s a materialistic fantasy.

            What are you going to do about the issue of your wicked tendencies? Don’t tell me you think you’re a “good person.”

          2. “I don’t put evolution in quotes, even though I know it’s a materialistic fantasy.”

            AAAAHAHAHA HAHAHAHAHA AAAHAHAHAHAHHAHAAAA!!!

            Oh man, and you insist you “embrace scientific discovery.” That’s rich. How do you not see your own hypocrisy? Once again your lack of introspection and self-awareness are on stage.

            Just thought I’d check in real quick and you gave me quite a chuckle. Thanks for that. Oh man you’re fucking hilarious. Later!

          3. You can address me like I’m here, you know.

            And you really think your response of “AAAAHAHAHA HAHAHAHAHA AAAHAHAHAHAHHAHAAAA!!!” and childish taunting is meaningful and deserves a rational reply?

          4. Why do I put God in quotes? That’s complicated and would require a lot more explanation than I have time for. Chapter 2 of George H. Smith’s Atheism: The Case Against God would be a good, though not exhaustive, starting point, if you really want to know why I put God in quotes.

            What wicked tendencies? Now we come to it. You’re unable to refute my arguments, so you’re going to start playing the moral condemnation card. On what basis do you determine I am not a good person? People who know me love me, trust me, and think very highly of me. That’s not a boast (people also say that I’m very humble), I’m just telling you what they tell me. In any case, my individual behavior is not the issue. If I’m a murderer and a rapist, that doesn’t prove that any god exists.

            What are you going to do about the issue of your wicked tendencies? Don’t tell me you think you’re a “good person.”

          5. It’s interesting that you judge yourself in terms of other people. People love you, trust you, and think very highly of you.

            I could say the same thing about myself before I was saved. I was very proud of my good behavior. I did many exceptional things, and by all measures, I was better than any of my peers. My friends and family all agree.

            When I was saved, I was judged by another standard. Not the standard of men, but the standard of God. I was guilty, and I know that now.

            I do like that you wrote “(people also say that I’m very humble).” That’s almost hilarious. Almost. Like you’re satirizing yourself. Unfortunately, I know that you’re trying to be serious.

            “If I’m a murderer and a rapist, that doesn’t prove that any god exists.”

            This is true. If you’re a murderer and a rapist, that doesn’t prove that cops and county judges exist either. But being a murderer and a rapist, you’re still guilty.

            I’m not judging you, friend. God judges you. There’s a difference.

          6. Other people are the only people who can judge me. Yeah, the humble line was meant to be a bit funny. Again, I don’t claim these things for myself. Others say these things about me. I’m just telling you the truth.

            How do you know “God” judges me?

          7. You’re only righteous if you judge yourself in terms of other people. This is an important point. Note the term “judge yourself.” You’re judging yourself when you claim other people really dig your style. You’re trying to be your own defense attorney, and you’re using the opinions of other people as your evidence.

            You’ve got to ask yourself who you’re performing for. You’re showing all these exhibits of your good works, but who is really the standard?

            I know God because I’m a believer, but since you’re an unbeliever, I don’t expect you to know Him. Of course you don’t realize that God will judge you. That’s why I’m here. At your service.

          8. I’m not really interested in being my own defense attorney. I try to live my life as best I can. I’m not “performing” for anyone, and I owe you no explanations. Which brings up another point. We have wandered far from the topic of the article. Indeed, you never seemed interested in the article at all. You showed up and attacked me tangentially. What does that say about you? That’s some kind of “service.”

    3. So Islamic states are worse so that makes it ok to discriminate against non believers? Hardly logic 101. Here in Europe your scouts would not get a penny of state money because over here we recognise that scouting has nothing to do with religion. America needs to decide if wants to be more like Europe or keep the kind of bigotry that makes them more like Islamic countries.

      1. Logic 101 begins by understanding the proposition correctly. You don’t understand the point I made. Most atheists, including the examples I see on display here, claim there are no gods, and religion is hogwash, while they rebel against only one God in particular — our one true and living God — and against one religion in particular — the belief that salvation comes only in Jesus Christ. It’s disingenuous. An honest unbeliever would admit that he or she hates the God of the Bible, while they’d be just fine (and *are* fine) with a pantheon of other gods, idols and spirits. It’s a totally natural response to the righteous God who will judge you — to try to hide in the darkness — but it doesn’t make you logical or honest.

        1. No you absolutely don’t understand what logic is but keep it up you make your own position more ludicrous with every post. Prothletising is not a proposition. A proposition requires premises that are demonstrable leading to a sound argument. All you have done is preach. You haven’t even remotely addressed the issue of religious bigotry in the scouts but instead have made a series of very poor assertions based on your faith. Speaking personally if the Hindus or Sikhs were banning boy scouts for religious resons I would be against that too, or any other majority religion including Islam.Your statement ( not an argument) is 100 percent horseshiit.

          1. First, watch your language. You probably think it makes you look cool and edgy, but instead you’re acting like a child.

            Second, psychologists call what you’re doing “projection” when you claim I’m not using logic, but the Bible just calls it foolishness.

            Third, my comment is about the questionable epistemological status of atheism when it’s based on judging the sinful acts of men. The Bible affirms that the hearts of men are wicked, without exception. That’s why we all need Christ. To point out that people sin, even while calling themselves Christians, only affirms the gospel.

            Fourth, and to reiterate, the demonstrable premise of my argument is that this article frames its argument as atheism when it’s really anti-Christian (see previous point). Your personal stance that you’d reject Hindus or Sikhs if they acted like the bad Christians on display in this article is irrelevant.

          2. I support Garry’s freedom to use adult language. He’s presumably an adult and can speak like one if he’d like. This isn’t your site, TC. You don’t make the rules. I do, and you’re a guest here.

          3. I don’t pretend to make up any rules, Kevin. My advice to “watch your language” is just that (Jam 3:8-12).

          4. Yeah, I used to swear a lot. I used to do a lot of drugs, too. I played in metal bands and greeted my friends with a “hail Satan” sign. I’m covered in blasphemous tattoos.

            But when I was saved, I put away childish things.

          5. Yes, it’s true (and way to judge me, atheist). I was a slave to sin, who confused my death-drive for freedom and control, and now I’m a slave to Christ.

          6. Humans judge each other every day. It’s part of our nature and has assisted us with survival for millions of years. It’s only your book of fiction that tells us it’s not ok. You can’t honestly tell me you haven’t judged me or anyone else in this thread. Do I need to provide quotes?

          7. You don’t understand the gospel. Jesus said to judge righteous judgment. The injunction to “judge not” in Matthew 7 is to not judge hypocritically, since you’ll be judged by the same standard. Widely misunderstood. Judgment is a matter of discernment, and we’re to engage the word of God when judging our fellow man.

            Now, I would ask you, atheist, by whose standard are you judging me, and where did that standard come from?

          8. Yup. I don’t understand it. You know nothing of me or my background, yet there you are judging me again after admonishing me for doing the same. Your entire thread is dripping with hypocrisy but you lack the introspection to realize it. I was you once. I was “saved” and spouted the same exact bullshit you’re doing now. But as you said, I put away childish things. Now I live in the real world. And this life is so much more fulfilling. I’m a slave to no one. My life is mine.

            Alas, I’ve grown tired of you again. I suggest you go elsewhere to troll. I’m hanging it up for the evening. My godless wife and children are much more fun to talk to than you.

            P.S. I’m judging you by MY standard. I don’t need a bronze age book to tell me who is or isn’t a person worthy of my time and attention. I can do that myself. Good luck with your weak apologetics in your future endeavors. Unfortunately, you’ll never have reality on your side. Christianity will someday suffer the same demise as every other religion that came before it. I hope the next big religion isn’t so full of holes.

          9. Anecdotal stories of personal successes do not prove the existence of a deity, let alone the specifics of Christian doctrine. How do you get from “I quit taking drugs,” to “Jesus was born of a virgin and died as a blood sacrifice to save us from sin?”

            But if anecdotes are your thing, try this one. When I was a Jesus believer, I used to abuse alcohol and treat women as disposable sex objects. Back when I believed in “God,” I was an asshole. Then I began to acquire a diverse education. I began to question, and eventually turned away from, supernatural beliefs. I discovered a scientific worldview that is far more magnificent and edifying than the crude, violent, tribal fairy-tales found in the Bible. I began to find joy in the natural world, and to treat people like the precious, transient living beings that they are. I became active in charities and humanitarian efforts. This all happened after I gave up faith in “God.”

          10. Wow. So you clearly never served Jesus, even when you believed in Him. Who do you serve now?

          11. When you believed in God, did you believe that all living creatures were creatures of God?

          12. Why is it, then, that you can serve “all living creatures” now that you reject God, but you could not do so when you believed in God and knew He created all these creatures in His own image?

          13. First of all, I don’t “reject God.” I don’t believe in any gods. There’s a difference. You seem to fundamentally misunderstand what an atheist is (or, at least, what MY atheism is; I don’t wish to speak for others). As for your question, you tell me. Maybe it has something to do with Christian doctrine being a license to behave badly now and repent later.

          14. Christian doctrine is not a license to behave badly now and repent later.

            “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?” (Rom 6:1-2).

            Before you ask, I’m quoting the Bible because you brought up Christian doctrine. You’re just wrong about it.

          15. With the exception of blaspheming the “Holy Ghost” (whatever that might mean), Christian teaching holds that a person can be forgiven for ANY sin no matter how, heinous. True or false?

          16. True! Even you can be saved, sinner.

            And when we’re saved, we do not continue to practice sin as if we can get away with it. Being in the flesh, we’re not perfect. Justification is instant, but sanctification is a continuing process. To continue in sinful behavior without regard to the will of God after being saved implies that you haven’t been saved. The good tree bears good fruit.

            Blaspheming the Holy Ghost means to say the works Christ did were actually done by Satan. It has a particular context.

          17. “Even you can be saved, sinner.” Above, you said you’re not judging. You’re a typical holier-than-thou hypocrite. And you’re as self-contradictory as your human-written holy book.

            Who said anything about continuing in sinful behavior after being saved? I didn’t. I said that Christian teaching is a license to behave badly now and repent later. You can “sin” your whole life, and in the moment before death have a sincere repentence and “come to Jesus” and you’ll be rewarded with eternal joy in “heaven,” correct?

            How do you know that the works “Christ” did weren’t done by “Satan?” How do you know that the legendary works of Jesus were done at all?

          18. We’re all sinners, friend. “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Rom 3:23).

            If you truly repent and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ at the moment before death, you will be saved. Faking it for safety’s sake, as in Pascal’s Wager won’t work. God loves a broken and contrite heart, and He alone is able to search the hearts of men (Psa 51:17, Rom 8:27).

            The Holy Spirit indwells believers and bears witness that they’re children of God. Indeed, this is the only thing that men can truly trust. Without the Holy Spirit, you can only work from provisional beliefs.

            By the way, you’re not unique in accusing Christ of doing the work of Satan (Matt 12:24). You’re in some bad company.

            Fact is, you don’t know if your senses are being deceived when you trust empirical knowledge. On the other hand, Christians have a solid epistemological foundation in Christ.

          19. I did not accuse Christ of doing the work of Satan. I *asked* you how you know that his works weren’t done by Satan. See that squiggly symbol [?] at the end of the sentence? It’s called a question mark. You should pay attention to it.

            “If you truly repent and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ at the moment before death, you will be saved. Faking it for safety’s sake, as in Pascal’s Wager won’t work.” — Who said anything about faking it? I specifically said “a sincere repentance.” Please actually read my comments before you respond to them. Thank you for acknowledging that I am correct: Christianity is a license to behave badly now and repent later.

            “The Holy Spirit indwells believers and bears witness……” Metaphysical hooey. This is how you play tennis without a net. Religionists make up unverifiable concepts and then assert them as profound facts; a convenient way to never be wrong.

            Fact is, you don’t know if you’re of sound mind when you imagine “Christ” is talking to you.

          20. Typical addiction personality: You swapped chemical drugs for the opiate of religion. Throughout your posts here you defend and rant about it with the fervor an addict embraces their former drug while avoiding anything that resembles reality. The other trait former addicts that swap one addiction for another is to levy rigid judgments of others. You are a raging success in swapping your addiction… just a raging failure at leveraging your judgment into a salient arguments for your new drug (your spin on Christianity and god).

            Having had both addicts that achieved and maintain recovery as well as those that swapped one addiction for another in my life, I should have recognized the impenetrable denial of addiction you maintain with your “god opiate”. Now I know why you dismiss Psychology and Psychiatry… it would mean you would actually have to give up the addiction behavior rather than swap it out if you acknowledge it.

            All your posts on Patheos now make perfect sense: You’re an active addict in denial.

          21. No doubt. He proudly (and naively) admitted to switching his addiction in response to me calling that out a while back. Everything he posts has addiction written all over it. He’s created his own reality where his religion is the only thing that matters. Replace “his religion” in that last statement with any drug, and his loved ones (if he has any) would be clamoring to set up an intervention.

          22. I missed the admitting part (I believe you… I just missed it) but just noticed him acknowledge the addiction. I cannot believe I didn’t recognize it sooner. It was like attempting to speak to my aunt who is drowning in her Jesus drug which came miliseconds after she started AA and the 12-step program. I should have recognized the pattern. Shame on me… But all the pieces of his disjointed dismissals of rational and valid science and medicine now fit clearly into the rationalizations rather than logic of an addict.

            NOTE: This is not a slam on AA or 12-steps… I do know those who don’t do the addiction swapping and remain in sobriety mostly due to the other humans in the program.

          23. I’ve led a wicked life, but I don’t think anyone who knows me would’ve ever called me an “addict.” You seem to have taken that idea and really ran with it — straight into a wall.

            How do you discern truth from error?

          24. Actually….. I saw where you admitted to Kevin the moderator that you were an addict and even acknowledged that you swapped one addiction for a religious substitute. I stand by everything I wrote in the comment.

          25. I guess you missed my biblical reference. The Bible says we’re all slaves — either slaves to sin or slaves to righteousness in Jesus Christ (Romans 6:20-22). All slaves to sin are addicted to serving their own desires as if they were autonomous beings, and in this sense, I was indeed an addict, as is every single unrepentant sinner. Was. Now I’m a slave to Christ.

            No, I was not literally addicted to chemical drugs or anything else that the world would consider an addiction, which was the accusation above. I certainly abused drugs for recreation, though.

            I was happy and materially successful as an atheist, and I wasn’t seeking salvation from anything when I was saved. I certainly never considered myself a sinner, since I didn’t believe in sin and I thought I was a good person. I was wrong.

            How do you discern truth from error?

          26. Point one – distraction . I’m from the North East of England and we obviously have different ideas about what constitutes offensive language . Horses shot. It’s fact. A bad argument is “horse shot” . I don’t feel the need to conform to American prudishness.
            To me your prating theologising is annoying but I recognise your right to use it.
            Point two . Well you’ve just confirmed that you don’t understand the concept of logic if you think it is s

          27. Look, my fellow man, we were all born in blood and water, but we have been raised to behave as men who know how to behave ourselves. If you truly can’t understand how your swearing is taken outside of your “North East of England” upbringing, then you’re either terribly sheltered or a sociopath. We all know what it means to speak vulgarities, and that applies to you.

            Thank you for recognizing my basic right to theologize. I think it’s important.

            I look forward to hearing the rest of your response, since you got cut off while telling me how I don’t understand logic.

          28. Oh cry me a river. “The big bad man on the internet used a curse word! I can’t clutch my pearls hard enough!” Get over it. You worship a book full of rape, slavery and murder references but “bullshit” offends you. Pathetic.

          29. Correction: I worship the God who condemns the wicked acts of men, and who gave His Son to save us.

            Now, as for swearing, it’s true that your words reveal what’s in your heart. Act accordingly.

            I’m not offended by swearing. After the wicked life I’ve lived, hardly anything offends me. All I’m doing is sharing some truth with you. Let that advice drop to the ground if you like — that really doesn’t offend me either.

            If you think swearing offends me more than rape, slavery and murder, then you’re desperately confused.

            I’ve got the gospel of Jesus Christ showing us the righteous way. What have you got to defend against rape, slavery and murder? Evolution? A selfish gene? Just because? Please — your godless worldview gave us the 20th Century atrocities that led us to coin the word “genocide” in the first place. After all, in an evolutionary sense, where survival of the fittest reigns supreme, what’s wrong with rape? Under this model, what’s wrong with slavery and murder?

            Of course, you know what’s wrong with it. You’ve been given that sense of morality by God, after all (Rom 2:14).

          30. “I worship the God who condemns the wicked acts of men,” That’s demonstrably false. Read the so-called Old Testament (perhaps with an open mind this time). Not only does Yahweh reward men for wicked acts, but he’s often the one who commands men to commit the wicked acts in the first place. To read the Old Testament and not see the atrocities committed at Yahweh’s request is to be a blinkered fool with a malfunctioning mind.

          31. On what basis do you judge God rewarding men for wicked acts? Surely, you have a moral basis for making such a judgment.

          32. Yes, I do have a moral basis. I’m a highly moral individual. It’s just that my morals are not based on anything “supernatural.” Morals based on things that don’t exist are too easily corruptible.

          33. Does your alleged god intend to send even one sentient being to hell, Brother TC? Then you are worshipping a being of infinite, eternal evil and making an utter mockery of justice. I find that considerably more offensive than the word “horseshit.”

          34. Yes, I do think criminals should be punished — but in strict proportion to their crimes, and with no deliberate infliction of physical or mental suffering.

            I am not in favour of the death penalty. I feel that the penalty for first-degree murder should be life imprisonment, which effectively deprives the murderer of the opportunity to live his own life in freedom; prevents the murderer from killing someone else; and safeguards against wrongly-convicted people being executed.

            “Thought crimes” such as disbelief warrant no punishment at all.

            Much is said about “crimes against God” meriting infinite punishment, but that’s silly tosh. A god doesn’t need to be protected from mortals. Hurt feelings don’t justify eternal torture in hell, and mortals simply are not capable of doing anything in their finite lifetimes that would justify infinite punishment.

          35. So you favor locking people up in cages for their whole lives. That’s called torture, you know.

            Do you believe intent should be factored into legal judgments?

          36. Ah, incendiary language and hyperbole regarding the word “torture.”
            What about my point regarding the injustice of executing an innocent man in jurisdictions where the death penalty is used?

            As for intent, that can only be discerned from available evidence as we do not possess the means to read minds to determine a criminal’s motive. In that respect, intent is factored into judgements — for example, finding someone innocent of first-degree murder but guilty of manslaughter, and the appropriate penalty then applied. I do think it’s appropriate to apply a lesser penalty if a death was accidental rather than premeditated.

          37. You seem to be missing the theological point behind my question.

            God’s justice is perfect, and He does not execute innocent men (Psa 145:17).

            Intent is fully discerned by God, who knows the hearts of men (Jer 17:10).

            (Before you ask, I cite the Bible for your future reference.)

            This is all in response to your initial question,

            “Does your alleged god intend to send even one sentient being to hell, Brother TC? Then you are worshipping a being of infinite, eternal evil and making an utter mockery of justice. I find that considerably more offensive than the word [expletive deleted]”

            God will not send even one innocent being to hell. In fact, He won’t grant even one innocent being access to heaven either, because we’re all guilty of sin without exception. Only by the substitutionary atonement of Jesus Christ can anyone have life.

            Your embarrassing mistake is thinking you’re righteous enough to judge your creator.

          38. First of all, your imaginary fiend is not my “creator.” It’s a second-hand god borrowed from Canaanite mythology and nothing more.

            Secondly, Brother TC, sin is an imaginary crime against an imaginary victim.

            Thirdly, I unconditionally and eternally reject this barbaric “salvation” that you and your coreligionists insist is the only way to avoid infinite agony at the behest of an infinitely evil (and almost certainly fictional) demonic being masquerading as a god. I do not consent to anyone dying in my place for any reason whatsoever. As far as I’m concerned, to say the Sinner’s Prayer is to take the real “mark of the Beast.”

            I have every right as a sentient being to judge the god of the Bible, and I am exercising that right. If your god actually exists and has a problem with that, it can bloody well come here to my office and tell me that to my face. I do not take instruction from deluded mythology-pimps like yourself, nor do I take it from primitive anthologies of myth and pseudo-history.

          39. My phone ran out of juice mid sentence. We aren’t going to agree on swearing – I think you’ve got it exactly backward. A grown up recognises it is part of normal adult discourse and after all it wasn’t ad-hominem, I didn’t insult you, I said your argument was pish. I’ve read a bit of psychology and i know that people who have a rules based – conservative (not necessarily political) mind set are far more bothered by swearing than others so i’m happy to avoid swearing if its going to upset you. I note with interest though that your concept of a vengeful god who is going to punish me for eternity for exercising freedom of thought – that’s ok. Swearing is bad but torturing people for eternity that’s fine.
            My point about logic is that as yet you haven’t put together anything vaguely resembling one, no sound premises, nothing resembling a syllogism, nothing. You keep mentioning the bible but what has that to do with logic? The greeks were formalizing the rules of logic long before Christianity. Any argument that requires religious faith to accept it is by definition a fallacy. You could certainly attempt to make a logical argument for a god and attempt to defend it but you don’t seem able to do that. You keep dragging in mythology and mythological concepts such as sin. How do you expect somebody who doesn’t accept these things to agree to any argument you make that requires apriori acceptance of the same?
            Anyway I’m done with this argument. Not because of the circular arguments, or your gish- galloping into irrelevant thoughts, but because of your absolute refusal to stick to what the argument is about.
            Read the article. Where does the word “Christian” appear? The article is quite precise about highlighting the boy scouts selective discrimination towards atheists. The author is not attacking Christianity but attacking the boy scouts for exercising religious discrimination. Its clear as day, but somehow you seem incapable of seeing that and instead claim that the author is attacking christianity?!? Drop the persecution complex and please just stop tap dancing and come out and say whether you think the boy scouts are right to refuse atheists entry and why.

          40. After preaching the unbeliever’s gospel, which I’m familiar with as an ex-atheist (and serial swearer), you finally got back to the article’s topic and said,

            “Where does the word ‘Christian’ appear? The article is quite precise about highlighting the boy scouts selective discrimination towards atheists. The author is not attacking Christianity but attacking the boy scouts for exercising religious discrimination. Its clear as day, but somehow you seem incapable of seeing that and instead claim that the author is attacking christianity?!? Drop the persecution complex…”

            Exhibit A: This is called mocking a group of Christians:

            “’Hey baby, I know you’re mad about us letting in the gays, transgender kids, and now the girls, but we still love Jesus and want to keep out the atheists, so are we cool?’”

            Do you see that name right there? Jesus? That’s short for Jesus Christ, whose followers are called Christians.

            Exhibit B: This argument is clearly singling out Christians:

            “What if preachers were standing in the pulpit railing against Muslims, Jews, or Buddhists, telling them to leave the country?”

            Yes indeed, the article doesn’t contain the word “Christian,” but it’s certainly criticizing them to the exclusion of every other faith. It’s “clear as day,” as you put it, but somehow you’re incapable of seeing that.

            As for my opinion on the BSA’s statement that belief in God is a wholesome precept and necessary to the best type of citizenship, I agree only if that belief comes through faith in Jesus Christ. Jesus is the way, the truth and the life, and no man comes to the Father except by Him. That means it’s an exclusive deal: believing in false gods will not save you, and neither will believing in no gods at all.

            I know you don’t believe that — that’s what makes you an unbeiever, after all — but your unbelief (your lack of faith) has no bearing on the truth.

            I’m using plenty of evidence and logical reasoning here in my arguments refuting a couple of your claims, but I avoid such tactics when explaining the gospel. Not because I’m incapable of putting forth an analytical philosophical argument for God, but because it just won’t lead you to the truth. I’m arguing from the wisdom of God, and I don’t claim to be arguing according to man’s wisdom. 1 Corinthians 1-2 is all about this distinction, and I encourage you to read it if you want to know what I’m up to.

            Finally, from the article, “Did it change anything in the Scout Oath or Scout Laws? No. It didn’t do anything but restate what they’ve already said for decades.”

            From that resolution from the BSA that changed nothing about their oath or bylaws, you claim religious discrimination. You claim you’re persecuted by their statement, and then tell me to drop the persecution complex. I’m not claiming to be persecuted here. Nice projection.

          41. I replied to you in detail, but somebody decided to report it and now my reply is hidden. Not sure why, since I’ve carried on plenty of heated theological discussions all around this particular comment, but whatever. Thin-skinned atheists abound.

          42. No I saw it, I have a copy. I’m pretty annoyed at the fact it was deleted as it laid out your clear bigotry and confirmed the authors viewpoint one hundred percent and got the point I wanted which was for you to show that you supported discriminating against atheists.
            Anyway, to address your first point re- whether the article attacked Christianity or attacked the boy scouts. you quote mined and left out the context of the quote “’Hey baby, I know you’re mad about us letting in the gays, transgender kids, and now the girls, but we still love Jesus and want to keep out the atheists, so are we cool?’”. But as anybody can clearly read this was a hypothetical comment the BSA might make to groups that supported them: “This was purely an effort to publicly reassure religious groups who have aligned with BSA “.These are christian groups are they not? So the author is mocking groups who want the BSA to discriminate against non believers as you your self advocate: “As for my opinion on the BSA’s statement that belief in God is a wholesome precept and necessary to the best type of citizenship, I agree only if that belief comes through faith in Jesus Christ. “.
            So there we have it. You are complaining about the author highlighting Christian bigotry whilst yourself advocating it. That’s priceless.
            You know on this side of the pond we scratch our heads at a country that came up with the first attempt to provide secular government where religion is kept out of a decision making process that effects the lives of all citizens what ever their beliefs, through a written constitution, and yet many of you are so backward, so much like the Islamic states you mentioned. Well, that’s all I want to say. I still don’t think you understand what logic is, or evidence versus rhetoric, but I don’t suppose without further study you will understand that. You don’t know what you don’t know.

            Over and out.

          43. Jesus Christ said He is the only way to the Father (Jhn 14:6b). Now that’s some righteous discrimination right there.

            Why did you save a copy of my comment? Were you afraid it might vanish?

            No worries, though – it would appear that you’ve mined the most salient quotes from my post. No need to share the context of those quotes, mate. Honesty is rubbish, right?

            You’re quite arrogant to sum up your entire nation by claiming you all scratch your heads at our country. Get over yourself. It takes a special kind of solipsistic keyboard jockey to speak for a whole country. It’s time for some self-examination, my friend.

            “You are complaining about the author highlighting Christian bigotry whilst yourself advocating it.”

            If you think my assertion that salvation can only be found in Jesus Christ constitutes bigotry, then let’s start a dialog there. I’d love to talk about this batty opinion of yours.

            I use some stern language with people when I think they can handle it. Now put on your big-boy trousers and let’s have a talk about your prejudice against God.

          44. Another response deleted. Did you save it? Perhaps you can do some more quote mining, mate.

          45. As the moderator already informed you… if you don’t like the language on here by Kevin or anyone… there are plenty of places for you to go rant your insanity.

            Suck it up buttercup….

        2. Re: “while they rebel against only one God in particular”
          When former theists complain about religion, it’s usually the religion that they grew up in or that’s prevalent and powerful in their region. Why should I complain about a religion that doesn’t affect my everyday life? If I had to move to Asia, though, I’d probably be complaining more about Hinduism or Islam or Buddhism or something.

          But what you’re attempting to use is a variation of the tu quoque fallacy, otherwise known as “whataboutism.”

          1. “Why should I complain about a religion that doesn’t affect my everyday life?” Truly, you said more here than you know.

          2. Sure. I can barely swing a stick without hitting a church or turn on the television without some Christer trying to tell me how to live.

          3. I’ll need to take your word for it. I don’t walk around swinging sticks, and I don’t watch TV.

          4. But you sure come onto the Interwebs and try to tell others what to do and how to think.

          5. That’s rich, Mr. Tu Quoque. I don’t pick on you for advocating your godless worldview — I just try to argue against it. You do the same, arguing against my worldview, and we’ll get along fine. But if you claim that my advocacy for a particular point of view is itself fallacy, based on the fact that I’m advocating for it, you’re way out of line.

          6. Re: “But if you claim that my advocacy for a particular point of view is itself fallacy, based on the fact that I’m advocating for it, you’re way out of line.”
            Huh? Isn’t there some place where your message might be better received, where people speak your language, like a church where they speak in tongues or handle snakes or practice ritual cannibalism or something?

          7. It’s really up to you to answer that question, but I would guess that you’ve been wounded by people calling themselves Christians, and now you’re among the religiously abused. People in that position tend to lash out. Just a guess on my part, and being a guess, I don’t put much confidence in it.

          8. Or it could be that Christianity doesn’t make sense and Christians are pushy. Why is it that your omnipotent god had to sacrifice himself to himself, again?

          9. We live in a fallen world full of sin and evil. That’s a fact, and even you can admit we have lots of evidence for that. This point ought to tell you something about the truth of the Bible, but sadly, in your case it does not.

            As for your self-righteous judgment of God for allowing this world to come into existence, that’s really your big problem.

          10. It’s not just me, though. The problem of evil predates Christianity, and It’s something that, if you’re going to push this particular world view on other people, you ought to be familiar with. You owe it to yourself to educate yourself about it, mainly because the “it’s a fallen world” explanation falls flat among former Christians or people who didn’t grow up within the Christian mindset. The problem of evil goes like this:

            What one has here, however, is not just a puzzle, since the question can, of course, be recast as an argument for the non-existence of God. Thus if, for simplicity, we focus on a conception of God as all-powerful, all-knowing, and perfectly good, one very concise way of formulating such an argument is as follows:

            (1) If God exists, then God is omnipotent, omniscient, and morally perfect.
            (2) If God is omnipotent, then God has the power to eliminate all evil.
            (3) If God is omniscient, then God knows when evil exists.
            (4) If God is morally perfect, then God has the desire to eliminate all evil.
            (5) Evil exists.
            (6) If evil exists and God exists, then either God doesn’t have the power to eliminate all evil, or doesn’t know when evil exists, or doesn’t have the desire to eliminate all evil.
            (7) Therefore, God doesn’t exist.
            https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/evil/

          11. I didn’t grow up within the Christian mindset. I was an atheist for over 40 years, raised in an atheist family.

            The problem of evil does indeed predate Christianity. The Word became flesh and dwelled among us in the person of Jesus Christ about 2000 years ago, while the problem of evil goes back to the garden of Eden.

            God does have the power to eliminate all evil, but in doing so He would also eliminate our free will, and thus, our capacity to love Him and glorify Him as our holy creator *and* savior.

            I like that you sourced a philosophy site named after the Greek philosopher Plato. That’s a good one. Now take a look at Acts 17 beginning in verse 16.

            Ye men of internet atheist forums, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious.

          12. Re: “I was an atheist for over 40 years, raised in an atheist family.”
            What is your definition of an atheist?

            Re: “God does have the power to eliminate all evil, but in doing so He would also eliminate our free will, and thus, our capacity to love Him and glorify Him as our holy creator *and* savior.”
            You don’t see a contradiction there? A god gave you “free will” to make the decision to love him, but if you choose not to, he’ll either kill you or send you to eternal torment? That’s a strange idea of freedom. Under your mythology, god will save us from himself?

            I’m not impressed with your religion or your wholly babble.

          13. I was an atheist because I didn’t believe in any gods without evidence to prove otherwise.

            No, God does not condemn you to hell for not loving Him. God condemns you to hell for the sins you commit. You follow the desires of your flesh rather than the will of God, and to condemn sinners to hell is a matter of justice. God is loving and merciful, yes, but He’s also a righteous judge. Justice will be served.

          14. Re: “without evidence to prove otherwise.”
            So you found proof of the existence of gods?

            Re: “You follow the desires of your flesh”
            But in your mythology, god made your flesh, and your desires. But that still doesn’t explain childhood cancer or ebola.

          15. I didn’t find anything. Rather, God drew me to His Son and showed me the truth by the witness of His Holy Spirit. I now see the light. I was blind, but now I see.

            Evidence abounds, if you’ve been given eyes to see it.

            In your mythology, nothing made you, and your desires are the only thing you need to serve.

            God made man upright, and then man chose to transgress the clear word of God. The evil in the world is not a thing, as such, but an absence of the good, a separation from God.

          16. Re: “In your mythology, nothing made you, and your desires are the only thing you need to serve.”
            If that’s your idea of what an atheist is, you not only weren’t one, you don’t know anything about it.

            Re: “Evidence abounds, if you’ve been given eyes to see it.”
            You either care about proof for your mythology or you don’t. I can’t figure if you’re attempting to gaslight me, or you’ve already gaslighted yourself.

            Re: “the clear word of God”
            If you don’t want to have an honest conversation, go back to church. No one here wants to be preached at. The wholly babble was put together by a committee in the third century and, among other things, says that it’s okay to kill kids and has a prohibition against mixed fabrics.

            Re: “The evil in the world is not a thing, as such, but an absence of the good, a separation from God.”
            So you’re going with the idea that your god is not omnipotent?

          17. “The wholly babble was put together by a committee in the third century.”

            Show some reliable documentary evidence for that, and you’ll have a point. Otherwise, you’re just believing what the interwebs has told you.

            “… says that it’s okay to kill kids and has a prohibition against mixed fabrics.”

            You must be confused again. I’m a Christian, not an ancient Israelite.

          18. Re: “Show some reliable documentary evidence for that, and you’ll have a point.”
            You’ve never heard of the ecumenical councils? Nicaea?

            Re: ” I’m a Christian, not an ancient Israelite.”

            “For truly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass the law until all is accomplished. Whoever then relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but he who does them and teaches them shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:18-19 RSV)

            “It is easier for Heaven and Earth to pass away than for the smallest part of the letter of the law to become invalid.” (Luke 16:17 NAB)

            “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. Amen, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest part or the smallest part of a letter will pass from the law, until all things have taken place.” (Matthew 5:17 NAB)

            “All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for refutation, for correction, and for training in righteousness…” (2 Timothy 3:16 NAB)

            “Did not Moses give you the law, and yet none of you keepeth the law” (John7:19) and “For the law was given by Moses,…” (John 1:17).

          19. Oh, I’m familiar with the Council of Nicaea, and I know what happened there because we have lots of solid documentation. What you’re claiming happened there, however, is pure fiction of the Dan Brown sort. Internet hogwash. Again, show your sources. If you can’t show any sources, then I can only assume you’re just being gullible and prejudiced.

            I like that you’re quoting the Bible. Keep going!

            “I have come not to abolish but to fulfill.”

            Do you know what Jesus means here by saying He came to fulfill the law? Why do you think He was responding to the accusation that He came to abolish the law?

            You’ve quoted some single verses from Jesus to give a misimpression of the gospel, but you’ve failed to communicate His entire message in context.

            You sound like a Judaizer. I consider all of the Bible to be holy scripture, including Paul’s letter to the Galatians, which plainly refutes the false teaching you’re trying to put forth.

          20. Re: “we have lots of solid documentation”
            I think you’re mischaracterizing it. It’s not like we have minutes from the meeting.

            Re: “fiction of the Dan Brown sort”
            Truth is much stranger than fiction.

            Re: “I like that you’re quoting the Bible.”
            I studied theology and the bible at the local Christian University. It’s not a particularly magic book. Keep reading it, though; reading it is how I realized how messed up it could be.

          21. You failed to provide any evidence for your claim that the canon was decided, or even discussed, at the Council of Nicaea.

            You failed to respond at all to my point that you mischaracterized the gospel, to the point where you spouted a common heresy that Paul clearly refutes in scripture. Instead, you tried to build up yourself as some kind of authority on the subject. More of an authority than Paul? Please.

          22. Re: “More of an authority than Paul?”
            When you cite the bible to support the bible, it’s called circular logic.

          23. I brought up Paul’s letter to the Galatians to explain what the Bible clearly says, since you tried to lie about it. I wasn’t citing the Bible to make an argument for inerrancy. Do try to keep up.

          24. Maybe I could keep up if you didn’t speak solely in Christian dogwhistles. Why, again, should I care about your interpretation of an anthology of ancient mythology?

          25. You tried to interpret the Bible just a couple hours ago (and failed), and now you’re demanding to know why you should care about my interpretation, when in fact all I did was point out that Paul refutes your point.

            And I don’t think you know what the dogwhistle idiom means. I’m not trying to encode anything to get past your unbelieving ears and to Christians. You’re the guy who said he studied theology at the university level.

            You’re really striking out here.

          26. Seriously? Are you on drugs?

            Pay attention, now:

            You tried to make the point that Christians need to follow Mosaic law. Paul refutes that claim in Galatians.

          27. I think the bible can be interpreted a lot of different ways, which is one of the reasons why there are so many different Christian sects.

          28. There’s no accounting for the whacky beliefs of people. You provide ample evidence for that, believing that you can’t know anything for sure — except that you can’t know anything.

          29. You’ve confused yourself. You can’t even keep track of your own bunk.

            A day ago, Brother TC said “Do you think it’s possible for anyone to know the truth?”

            And I replied, “No. But I do think it’s possible for someone to say reasonably what’s not the truth, e.g. Christianity.

            And now you say I said that “you can’t know anything for sure — except that you can’t know anything.”

          30. Thanks for the recap. It shows that you definitely do not think it’s possible to know the truth.

            When I asked, “Do you think it’s possible for anyone to know the truth?” you said, “No.”

            It doesn’t matter that you “think it’s possible” for this or that. You said “No,” meaning you don’t think it’s possible for anyone to know the truth.

            I’m starting to think you’re just not capable of comprehending this conversation.

          31. No. You purposely misconstrued what I said, a liar who purports to know “the truth.”

          32. Oh boy. No wonder you can’t properly interpret the Bible.

            Okay, let’s roll this back, then. So you’re saying it’s possible for anyone to know the truth? Yes or no?

          33. Absolute and objective truth, with no amount of falseness, subjectivity or relativity to it. You know, truth.

          34. That doesn’t answer the question. I don’t want to misrepresent your beliefs on the subject of truth — you already called me a liar for it — so it’s important for you to answer the question. Is it possible for anyone to know the absolute truth about anything? Yes, no or “I don’t know” are all valid answers.

          35. I’ve told you I’m not a philosopher. I’m a relative beginner at this epistemology game.
            However, I’ll try to play along, since you seem to insist on it. From the way I understand it, a person can be relatively certain of empirical knowledge; i.e., knowledge based on demonstrable, objective, and replicable facts, things that they experienced with their senses. However, even our five senses can be unreliable at times, so even empirical knowledge can be suspect.

          36. Since you say my use of the phrase “reveals a lot about (my) worldview,” you should tell me what you’re thinking I’m comparing it to. I also used the phrase “relative beginner.” Why did you not take issue with that phrase?

          37. All I know about “relatively certain” is that you’re comparing empirical knowledge to something else. I don’t know what you’re comparing it to because you haven’t told me.

            I know what you’re comparing yourself to when you say “relative beginner” — you’re comparing yourself to philosophers experienced in the area of epistemology. You told me that.

            So what are you comparing with empirical knowledge to come up with the idea that it’s “relatively certain?”

          38. Re: ” you’re comparing empirical knowledge to something else.”
            No. I’m comparing levels of certainty. Like, on a scale of 1 through 10 — 10 being the highest level of certainty, and 1 being the lowest — I’m about a 9 on the fact that you’re just trolling me and barely paying attention to what I’m saying. I’m at about a 4 on the idea that you might be a paid Russian sock-puppet agitator. And I’m at about a 10 on the idea that you’re an ignorant, pushy asshole who thinks he knows better than everyone else what “the truth” is.

          39. You sound pretty pushy there. I wouldn’t call you any nasty names for it, though.

            On what basis do you trust any empirical knowledge as acquired through the senses? Are you going to try to tell me it’s because of the empirical evidence? Surely, you wouldn’t commit the secular sin of circular reasoning, would you?

            Or is it that you have nothing else, so you put your faith in empirical knowledge? That’s a blind faith, you know.

            I happen to agree that we can be relatively certain of empirical knowledge — I think science is great — but unlike you, I also happen to have a foundation of knowledge on which to make that relative judgment.

            See, you demand that empirical knowledge, which you can’t entirely trust, proves that God is true. You’re taking a lower authority (your senses) and applying it to judge a higher authority (God). You’ve got it all upside-down.

            By the way, believers do have an empirical knowledge of God, but that experience does not come through the five senses.

            When it comes to thinking about God, why do you reduce your scope of knowledge to the five senses? Don’t you experience love? You can’t prove love through demonstrable, objective, and replicable facts acquired through the five senses. You can take a poll and quantity occurrences of love felt by people or you can analyze brain scans to find correlations — and this is what psychology does — but the same can be done with believers in God.

            In other words, God is as real as love.

            I don’t demand that you believe that, but if you’re going to be honest with yourself, you ought to sort through the questions raised here.

          40. The only question you’ve raised is your sanity. Let me get this straight: You want me to trust your imaginary friend before I trust my own senses? Is that about right?

            I think you’re confusing intuitive knowledge with empirical knowledge.

          41. No, you don’t have it right. You’re free to continue believing any way you wish — I’m not forcing you to do anything. I’m telling you that believing in God provides a solid epistemological foundation, unlike your blind trust in empirical knowledge.

            My knowledge of God is hardly intuitive. Intuitively, all men find the gospel to be foolishness. It takes the Holy Spirit to make one aware of the wisdom of God.

            I think I know why you don’t want to answer my question about if you can know the absolute truth of anything.

            (Again, valid answers are Yes, No and “I don’t know” — but you won’t answer. Feel free to answer now, but if you won’t, just say you won’t, and I’ll give you my thoughts on the matter.)

          42. I know what I ate for breakfast; that is, unless my memory is tricking me.

            Knowledge without evidence, belief, is in the category of intuitive knowledge. If you want to elevate your intuitive knowledge to the level of empirical knowledge, that’s your business. I won’t answer your question the way you want me to because my intuitive knowledge tells me it’s your go-to gotcha question, and I don’t want to give you the satisfaction. Why can’t you just be honest and explain to me how the trap you’re trying to set for me works?

          43. Do you think there’s a way to answer the question other than Yes, No, or “I don’t know?” Just calling me names is not an answer.

            Yes, it’s a trap. In that trap lies your error, and you’ll see it face-to-face. If you’re scared, just say you’re scared.

          44. Re: “Yes, it’s a trap.”
            I’ve already answered it. I know what I ate for breakfast. You’re proving your dishonesty.

          45. That’s an ambiguous answer. You’re clearly afraid to answer the question honestly, so we can just be done here.

          46. You’re clearly a dishonest “one-trick pony” who doesn’t want to explain how his trick works, so yes, we can be done here.

          47. It’s not a trick, but it’s a trap. I’m withholding information that you would use to further equivocate. I’m not being dishonest — I’m very up-front about this fact. We’re stopping here due to your weakness and fear of your own error, not any dishonesty on my part.

          48. (edit: Re: “It’s not a trick, but it’s a trap. I’m withholding information…”)
            In other words, you’re being very up-front about the fact that you’re trying to entrap me into saying something that you could then use to argue that you’re right and I’m wrong, but you won’t tell me what your trap is or admit that it’s a dishonest tactic.

            But if you have to resort to dishonest tactics in order to win your argument, how right could you possibly be?

          49. I’m trying to get you to honestly answer the question without equivocating. You’ve shown yourself to be less than forthright with your answers.

            It’s a fair question, and you haven’t answered it. It’s funny that you think it’s a trick, because it’s not. It’s an extremely simple question that’s impossible for you to answer without revealing your error. There’s a difference.

            My tactic is not dishonest. It doesn’t sound like you know what “dishonest” means. Do you think your teachers were/are dishonest for not showing you their teacher’s editions of your textbooks? (And no, I don’t think I’m your teacher; it’s an analogy.)

            Yes, I can see that you’re frustrated by not having access to all the answers before you provide yours, but you just need to put on your big-boy pants and give it a shot, and then find out how your answer stands up to deeper analysis.

            You could tell me that it’s impossible for you to answer the question, but then I’ll ask you to explain why Yes, No, or “I don’t know” aren’t a complete set of valid options.

            And like I told you before, you can just admit that you’re scared and I’ll give you the goods. I wouldn’t want to deprive you of it if you’re actually scared.

          50. Bravo Sierra Brother TC • 2 days ago
            What do you mean by “the truth”?

            Brother TC Bravo Sierra • 2 days ago
            Absolute and objective truth, with no amount of falseness, subjectivity or relativity to it. You know, truth.

          51. Bravo Sierra Brother TC • 2 days ago
            Truth about what? dipshit.

            Brother TC Bravo Sierra • 2 days ago
            Truth about anything. Why are you calling me names? That’s just childish.

          52. Re: “I’m trying to get you to honestly answer the question without equivocating. You’ve shown yourself to be less than forthright with your answers.”
            Says a person who is equivocating and being deceitful.
            You’re equivocating about trying to trick me. You’re equivocating about defining the phrase “the truth” by using a circular definition.
            You’ve acknowledged that your question is a trap. You’re trying to patronize me by calling yourself “my teacher” and telling me to “put on my big boy pants.”
            You even at one point said “we can just be done here,” but then you’re obviously lying about that because you keep replying.
            Why don’t you take your incredibly dishonest worldview and attempt to peddle it to someone who wants to play your screwed-up games. (Notice that this is not a question.)

            The truth is that you’re a liar; this, I know because the evidence abounds within this thread. That should, once again, answer your question.

          53. I’m perfectly willing to give you the answers if you’re too scared to answer. Despite your baseless accusation, I’m not being deceitful. Do you know what equivocating means? It’s exactly what you mean by saying you know what you had for breakfast. That’s an ambiguous answer, and you give that answer in order to conceal your real answer.

            My definition of the truth is not circular. That’s just a nonsensical claim.

            I already told you that I don’t think I’m your teacher. I told you it was an analogy.

            Yes, you need to put on your big-boy pants and answer the question. It’s the grownup thing to do.

            I said we can be done, yes. I’m not forcing you to answer. I didn’t say I’m done, so I’m not lying by replying.

            Claiming that I’m a liar without providing evidence is slander. Yes, I’ve told lies in my life, and in that sense I’m a liar. We’re all liars in that sense.

            Look, man, you can just stop replying if you want this to be over. I’m fine with that.

            And my offer stands to show you your error if you’re willing to admit that you’re too scared to answer the simple question:

            Can you know the one absolute, objective truth about anything, anything at all? Yes, No, or “I don’t know.”

          54. Re: “Can you know the one absolute, objective truth about anything, anything at all?”
            No.

          55. In my case, a combination of life experience and what I’ve learned. In my limited understanding of epistemology, in order of trustworthiness, there are intuitive, authoritative, logical, and empirical ways of knowing. And empirical knowledge, the most reliable, relies on the senses, perception, and memory, which are themselves sometimes unreliable.

          56. The reason I’m not trapping you to show your error is because I gave the question wrong the last time. I should have asked, “Can anyone know the one absolute, objective truth about anything, anything at all?”

            Since I mischaracterized the question, I won’t ask you to answer this much more problematic question because you already answered. But to let you in on things, “No” is the only logically erroneous answer.

            Still, we can talk about your answer, which obviously only concerns your own knowledge rather than the knowledge of other people such as myself.

            Your belief system has made it impossible for you to know God. You’ve mocked my beliefs, called me insane and demanded proof of God’s existence, but by your existing beliefs in unreliable knowledge you’ve made yourself unable to believe in Him. Since even your most reliable form of knowledge is unreliable, you can never trust that God exists — until God changes your mind, that is.

            We all have faith. You have faith that empirical knowledge is the best you’ve got. In other words, you have faith that you can’t know anything for sure, absolutely. That’s your personal view, gleaned from what you’ve experienced and learned.

            I have faith that Jesus Christ died and rose from the dead to save me — and I used to think like you. When I was saved in an instant, a different faith came upon me, and I knew that it was finally possible for me to know the truth.

            In your list of ways of knowledge, in order of reliability (intuitive, authoritative, logical, and empirical), I would add spiritual to the end of the list. God’s Holy Spirit testifies with my spirit that I’m a child of God. I never had that way of knowledge before, living as I did all my life as an unreligious person for 43 years. You already said you think this kind of thinking is intuitive, but I intuitively reject the gospel. Intuitively, my body says to give it all up and be free to serve my own desires and understanding, but my spirit rejects it, backed by the power of God. My flesh has no chance in this spiritual battle, and I thank God for that.

          57. Your concept of “spiritual” knowledge falls under intuitive. And there’s no way a person can know what other people can or cannot know; they can only extrapolate it based on their own schema of what they themselves can know.

            I’d urge you to keep learning. Re-read the Bible, even the ugly parts, and ask yourself “Could this have been inspired by a God in the way that I understand him?” If you’re intuitively inclined to reject the gospel (god spell) or other parts of the Bible, maybe your internal logic is trying to tell you something. Listen to that voice a little. That said, I’m not telling you to give in to whatever personal addictions or destructive version of hedonism you were practicing before your big conversion.

            Despite your insistence that you used to think like me, you keep misunderstanding what being an atheist is about. And I think your lack of understanding about who and what an atheist is is problematic. As an atheist, after what some people call “deconversion,” not much changed from when I was a Christian. I’m still inclined to serve others. I haven’t changed into an ultra-hedonistic, selfish jerk. I still keep my promises to my family and my community, and I still care about others. Your insistence that someone who rejects Christianity has to “serve their own desires” doesn’t make any sense to me because that’s not me, and that’s not who most atheists are, and I’ve seen quite a few Christians who “serve their own desires.”

          58. Do you think it’s wrong to swear and call people names?

            I considered myself to be a good person before I was saved. Other people told me the same thing. I was wrong.

            That’s right — you cannot know what other people know.

            I was an atheist for 43 years, and you think I don’t know what an atheist is. That’s funny.

          59. Re: “Do you think it’s wrong to swear and call people names?”
            It depends upon the circumstances. Sometimes it’s part of an art form or a catharsis or it’s done to get people’s attention as a sort of a verbal punctuation. I enjoy studying language, and swearing is an important part of language.

            Re: “I was an atheist for 43 years, and you think I don’t know what an atheist is. That’s funny.”
            You keep misrepresenting what an atheist is. Atheism has nothing to do with selfishness or destructive hedonism. One can be an atheist or a Christian and still be either an actively kind and caring person or a selfish and destructive hedonist (not that there aren’t benign or even constructive forms of hedonism). Life isn’t about what clubs you belong to; it’s about listening and learning and keeping your promises.

            So if your version of atheism was destructive and selfish hedonism coupled with drug addiction, you’re probably better off for leaving it. But if that’s the case, I don’t think atheism was what was causing your problems, and it doesn’t license you to condemn others for their beliefs or lack of beliefs.

          60. Do you think it was wrong for you to swear during this discussion and call me vulgar names?

          61. Re: “Do you think it was wrong for you to swear during this discussion and call me vulgar names?”
            Did it get your attention?
            Did it hurt your feelings?
            Was it unfair?

          62. It got my attention that you were swearing. It didn’t hurt my feelings, but it reflected the nature of yours. It was neither fair nor unfair; it was rude.

            Now please answer my question.

          63. Did you feel that way about swearing and calling people vulgar names when you considered yourself to be a Christian?

          64. I figured you could google something like that. It’s not a matter of opinion. Jesus says that the spirit behind cursing is wicked, and He condemned it (Matt 15:18-19). He also condemned name-calling in general, saying it amounted to committing murder in your heart (Matt 5:21-22).

            Did you think swearing and calling people vulgar names was okay when you were a Christian?

            You must think it’s okay to swear and call people vulgar names in a church, or in a court of law, or in front of the elderly, or at cops, or at teachers.

          65. Matthew 15:18-19 says “But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them. 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.”

            That’s pretty rich, coming from someone who tried to trap me and slander atheists in general and who was, and I quote, “withholding information that you would use to further equivocate.” I don’t see where those verses are talking about swearing and calling you a dipshit. Is there anywhere I mentioned murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, or slander? In fact, when you assert “You must think it’s okay to swear and call people vulgar names in a church, or in a court of law, or in front of the elderly, or at cops, or at teachers,” that could amount to false testimony or slander, seeing as you know nothing about me. I might just think it’s okay to respond to pushy holier-than-thou internet troll types with a little swearing and name-calling.

            And Matt 5:21-22 says, “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ 22 But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother[a] will be liable to judgment; whoever insults[b] his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell[c] of fire.”

            For someone who purposely came to harass people at an internet forum just because those people think differently than you do, and then complains about the language they respond with, that’s rich, too.

            And here’s a few comments you’ve said about me along the way:
            “I can only assume you’re just being gullible and prejudiced.”
            “Seriously? Are you on drugs?”
            “Oh boy. No wonder you can’t properly interpret the Bible.”

            And some you’ve said to others, that I noticed along the way:
            “If you can’t take thinking seriously, then I can’t take your atheism seriously. You’re speaking like a child.”
            “You make poor assumptions.”

            It seems, according to you, that you’re failing at being a Christian. It’s a good thing “the hell of fire” is mythical, rather than literal.

          66. I’m very pleased that you’re quoting (and presumably reading) scripture. I know you said you were a Christian, and I assume you’ve read at least some of the Bible. Keep it up! I read it lots, every day, and God willing, I will do so for the rest of my life.

            I figured the words of Jesus would be clear to you, at least to indicate the general Christian consensus on the matter, but if you’re going to claim that it still sounds like cursing is okay, then read James 3:1-12.

            How does my withholding of my answer so you won’t use it to equivocate violate Matt 15:18-19? I do know that you were very upset over it, but that doesn’t make my words or actions hurtful. Teachers are not hurting their students when they withhold an answer. And no, I don’t think I’m your teacher. It’s an analogy.

            You said, “I don’t see where those verses are talking about swearing and calling you a [vulgar name].”

            But you see where those verses are talking about me withholding my answer to a question until you answer the question? That doesn’t make sense.

            You said, “Is there anywhere I mentioned murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, or slander?”

            Jesus is here describing the wicked source of saying terrible things. Yes, when you swear and call people vulgar names, it speaks of your heart.

            And again, by your (flawed) reasoning that only topics of murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, or slander qualify under Jesus’ injunction, how does my withholding of my answer to a question until you answer it qualify? That doesn’t make sense.

            You said, “In fact, when you assert ‘You must think it’s okay to swear and call people vulgar names in a church, or in a court of law, or in front of the elderly, or at cops, or at teachers,’ that could amount to false testimony or slander, seeing as you know nothing about me.”

            I’m following your statements to their logical conclusion for the sake of argument, and leaving you open to clarify. That’s not slander, lying or false witness. You’re free to tell me how you don’t think it’s okay to swear and call people vulgar names in a church, or in a court of law, or in front of the elderly, or at cops, or at teachers.

            You said, “I might just think it’s okay to respond to pushy holier-than-thou internet troll types with a little swearing and name-calling.”

            That’s no excuse. Nothing someone else says ever makes it okay for you to swear and call people names. (This is the sort of thing parents need to tell their kids when they’re fighting. And no, for me to say that doesn’t make my behavior un-Christ-like. I’m sternly rebuking you with a plain fact.)

            “For someone who purposely came to harass people at an internet forum just because those people think differently than you do, and then complains about the language they respond with”

            I didn’t come here to harass people just because they think differently than me. I’m not angry at you, and I’m not calling you a fool.

            As for my statements, I’ll defend them one at a time:

            > I can only assume you’re just being gullible and prejudiced.

            When I say “I can only assume,” I’m basing an assumption on your words — you’re free to clarify with clarifying words.

            > Seriously? Are you on drugs?

            This was a real question. You were being incoherent. This is not a wicked thing to say.

            > Oh boy. No wonder you can’t properly interpret the Bible.

            You had so misinterpreted my plain statement (you thought I was claiming that the apostle Paul talked directly to me) that I could understand how you could misinterpret the Bible. This is not a wicked thing to say.

            > If you can’t take thinking seriously, then I can’t take your atheism seriously. You’re speaking like a child.

            You were speaking like a petulant child would, and you weren’t taking the current point seriously. I didn’t call you a child — I said you were speaking like one.

            > You make poor assumptions.

            Yes, you make poor assumptions. I stand by this observation.

            Now, you still have a question to answer. Did you think swearing and calling people vulgar names was okay when you were a Christian?

          67. Is there some reason to think otherwise? It wasn’t Paul’s letter to the world, after all.

          68. Have you read it? Yes or no? If not, why are you trying to guess who he’s talking about? This deserves an answer.

            He’s making universal application of the gospel in the face of their false teachings. If you’ve read it, I’ll be happy to show you how this point is very clear. And then I’ll ask you how you missed it.

          69. It is written to the churches of Galatia. I am not and have never been a church in Galatia. It’s rude to read other people’s mail.

          70. So you think it’s rude to read the book of Galatians. If you’re just joking about that, then you still haven’t given a good reason to believe Paul isn’t clearly telling Christians why they’re freed from the Mosaic law.

            Do you base your atheism on such frivolous arguments as “It’s rude to read other people’s mail?” If you can’t take thinking seriously, then I can’t take your atheism seriously. You’re speaking like a child.

          71. You need to work on your sense of humor. It’s MIA. “It’s rude to read other people’s mail” was damned funny. I know because I laughed.

            Have you read the Koran? The Bhagavad Gita? No, and yet you dismiss these as untrue religions? I have read much of the Bible. Enough. The basic stories are clearly untrue, and the idea of substitutionary atonement is downright evil. I wouldn’t accept anyone to die for me and I don’t know how you can.

          72. I already suspected you were joking, so my sense of humor isn’t the problem. The fact that you laugh at your own jokes is funny, too.

            Yes, I’ve read the Quran. I have two translations (though Muslims call them “The meaning of…” and not translations). I read Ali’s version about three years ago, with commentary, and I keep Pickthall’s translation for reference.

            I read the Bhagavad Gita in college, in a course dedicated to the subject and taught by a devout Hindu. The professor said my final essay was “pithy,” and I had to look that up.

            You say I have not read these things. You’re wrong again. You make poor assumptions.

            You say you’ve read much of the Bible and that the basic stories are clearly untrue, but you’ve done nothing to challenge the inerrancy of scripture. You don’t believe it because you don’t believe it — that’s called circular reasoning. If I’ve got your argument wrong here, please let me know and I’ll be happy to address it.

            I can accept God becoming flesh and entering His own creation to die for me, and then to be risen again in three days to show me that His promises of a resurrection into eternal life are real. It’s sad that you wouldn’t accept that (and on your personal “moral” basis!).

          73. But God didn’t die for you, not really. He rose in three days. Dead people don’t do that. Assuming any of it happened, and I see no reason to believe it happened because people don’t come back from the dead, the entire world has never flooded, our genes did not come from one couple, water doesn’t turn into wine, the Red Sea has never parted, etc.

          74. “But God didn’t die for you.”

            Says you. I believe the Bible, not you.

            Your assertion that “the entire world has never flooded, our genes did not come from one couple, water doesn’t turn into wine, the Red Sea has never parted, etc.,” is all based on your presupposition to believe God doesn’t exist. The evidence is neutral, and supports either conclusion. Our mutually-exclusive conclusions are dependent on our presuppositions, not the evidence.

          75. No, the evidence is not neutral, and you need to go back to school. Preferably one that does not have the word “Christian” or “Liberty” in its name.

          76. Do you think it’s rude to read MLK Jr.’s Letter from Birmingham Jail? He addressed it to his “fellow clergymen,” and I can only assume you’re not one of those.

            Do you think it’s wrong to consider what MLK Jr. wrote in that letter because it’s not addressed to you?

            How about Bobby Henderson’s famous atheist letter? He addressed his remarks to the Kansas School Board. Can you read it or not? He didn’t address it to atheists, so by your reasoning, atheists shouldn’t read it.

            Fact is, the epistles are open letters. I’m surprised that I need to explain this to you, but you’re allowed to read them.

        3. “Most atheists, including the examples I see on display here, claim there are no gods…”

          You really do need to furnish a citation for that assertion. In my experience, the overwhelming majority of atheists do not claim that there are no gods. They say that there is no evidence for any particular god but that would gladly accept any god for which there is sufficient evidence. .

          1. Fine. Let me amend that: Most atheists, including the examples I see on display here, claim there are no gods unless proven otherwise using material science.

            While you’re at it, you may as well claim there is no justice and no true love unless proven otherwise using material science. Want to go there?

          2. Thank you for acknowledging the absence of evidence for hypothesized gods. Do you believe that Thor was an actual god? Why or why not?

            I don’t understand your assertions about justice and true love. Could you expand on those.

          3. I don’t believe in Thor because I know the one and true living God.

            Do you have hard scientific evidence for justice?

          4. So you don’t believe in Thor because of the absence of material evidence for his existence?

            Re Justice. Sorry, I still don’t understand your question. Could you expand on it please.

          5. No, I don’t disbelieve in Thor because of the absence of material evidence for his existence. I disbelieve in Thor because of the presence of my God who has revealed Himself in the person of Jesus Christ and given us His word in holy scripture, both of which confirm in no uncertain terms that no other gods exist.

            Do you believe justice exists?

          6. Now I’m confused, You think there is or is not material evidence for Thor?

            Re Justice. You seem to be repeating yourself instead of explaining what you mean. Please try the latter instead of the former. Thank you.

          7. The material evidence for God is all around you if you have eyes to see it. The atheist sees nothing. Pagans believe the evidence points to all kinds of false gods and spirits, including Thor (but Thor believers these days are mostly white supremacists in prison).

            Are you a bot? Why can’t you understand the simple question, “Do you believe justice exists?” Go ahead and google the word “justice,” and then try to answer yes or no. I have confidence in you.

          8. So you think there is material evidence for Thor but you don’t believe it? That’s strange. Why would you reject material evidence for Thor?

          9. I have a feeling you’re being deliberately obtuse.

            The material evidence for God, which all believers in Christ see in abundance, is confused by unbelievers for lots of things. Romans 1.

            Do you believe justice exists?

          10. Do you believe in Thor? We can talk about Thor if you believe in Thor.

            Why are you afraid of answering my question about justice? Do you believe justice exists?

          11. Why is a conversation about Thor premised on my belief in Thor instead of your atheism about Thor?

            Re Justice. Why are you afraid to explain what you mean?

          12. We can talk about my atheism about Thor if you’d like. My atheism about Thor is based entirely on my belief in God.

            Do you believe Thor exists?

          13. It doesn’t matter, I suppose. Thought you might give me the same courtesy I gave to you, however, since I answered it when you asked it.

            Why do you trust material evidence? How do you know you’re not being fully deceived?

            Now that’s an important question that you need to answer if you hope to maintain any semblance of rationality. Descartes asked the same question, because it’s so crucial to validating the whole scientific method, and he had a very good answer. What’s your answer?

          14. You should read some Terry Pratchett, this isn’t a new point you’re making.
            There’s no justice. There’s just us.

          15. Never claimed to be making a new point. Do you actually believe that line from a fictional character representing death?

          16. If the line in question is true, it doesn’t matter if it was spoken by a real character or a fictional one.

            Personally, I do not believe in any ultimate justice. There is only the justice that the living can achieve by their actions and by cooperation with one another, and once someone dies they can neither be punished nor rewarded any further.

          17. Since the statement is made in the first person, and by a fictional representation of death, it does indeed matter who said it.

            You seem to be saying that you believe justice exists for the living. Why do you believe that?

          18. Why do I believe that justice exists for the living? Because the living are the only ones who can appreciate it.

            I see no evidence whatsoever for gods or for life after death.

          19. The existence of courts, and of individuals who feel that justice has indeed been served. I myself have experienced numerous examples of justice in my own life, and it only takes one example worldwide to prove the concept to my satisfaction.

            Now tell your imaginary friend Jesus/Yahweh/HolySpook to get its imaginary butt over to my very real office right this instant to prove that *it* is anything more than an ancient fable.

          20. I’m amused that your juxtaposition exposes your epistemological inconsistency. To demonstrate, let me reformulate your first paragraph, in which you intend to provide the evidence that justice exists for the living. Here’s some evidence that God exists, which conforms to your standard of evidence for the existence of justice:

            The existence of churches, and of individuals who feel that God has indeed saved them through Jesus Christ. I myself have experienced numerous examples of God’s presence in my own life, and it only takes one example worldwide to prove the concept to my satisfaction.

            For the person who has never experienced justice, or witnessed justice served in a court of law, your evidence would appear weak and fallacious indeed. Such a person who has never enjoyed justice may call your claim that justice exists to be imaginary and an ancient fable.

            God is as real and present to believers as justice is to you. Keep that in mind before you set yourself to mocking.

          21. Your god is not real to me. It has never been real to me. That’s why I self-describe as an atheist — I do not believe that your god is anything more than a trick of the imagination.

            And if your imaginary friend has any problem with my mocking, it can bloody well come tell me that to my face. Your services are not required, mortal.

          22. Not sure if you read my comment. I’m clear on your atheistic beliefs.

            The point is, the kind of evidence you trust in order to believe justice exists (personal, experiential) is the very same kind of evidence you denigrate Christians for believing. That makes you inconsistent.

            As for God having a problem with your mocking: be not deceived; God is not mocked.

            My services are indeed required — not by you, of course, but by One much greater than you (Mark 16:15). I fully expect you to find the message of the cross to be foolishness, and that’s cool. I hope God opens your eyes to see the truth before you perish.

          23. I refuse the “sacrifice” of Jesus unconditionally. I will not worship a god such as yours under any circumstances, even if it did exist, and this is why:

            It is the very height of dishonour and cowardice to allow someone to take punishment in your place, and I consider acquiescence with substitutionary atonement to be the real “mark of the Beast,” as it strips humanity of self-actualization and maturity and enslaves us to the whim of a cosmic tyrant from whom no escape is possible.

            If we cannot pay our own debts with our own efforts, then the debt was inflicted upon us by a loan shark who deliberately cooked the books, making the debt infinite and unrepayable although it was incurred via finite actions in a finite lifetime.

            I seal the deal by committing the Unforgivable Sin with malice of forethought: I see no difference whatsoever between the Holy Spirit and Satan. Both are sock puppets used by the god of the Bible to manipulate humans into a desired course of action by meddling with their thoughts and emotions, thereby destroying any pretense of human free will.

            Brother TC, you had best hope that your god is not real, because in the long run you’re no better off than I am. You could end up as Job 2.0 in the blink of a divine eye. Read your Bible again, and this time pay more attention to the parts that portray your god in a less-than-flattering light.

          24. “I will not worship a god such as yours under any circumstances, even if it did exist.”

            God is a He, not an it. If you’re going to hypothetically consider that God exists, for the sake of argument, then you can at least get His pronoun right. Otherwise, you’re obviously talking about a god of your own invention and not the God of the Bible.

            “It is the very height of dishonour and cowardice to allow someone to take punishment in your place.”

            What if that someone is God Himself? Does that still offend your sense of honor?

            “I consider acquiescence with substitutionary atonement to be the real ‘mark of the Beast'”

            No offense, but I believe the Bible, not you.

            “If we cannot pay our own debts with our own efforts”

            Why do you think you can’t pay your debts with your own efforts? What does the Bible teach about this, from Genesis to maps?

            Fact is, you’re a sinner and you just can’t stop sinning against your Creator. It’s interesting that you pair self-actualization with maturity, as if they go together. To think you deserve self-actualization rather than justice is the attitude of a spoiled child.

            “destroying any pretense of human free will.”

            The Bible affirms that you have free will, and that you’re culpable for your sinful actions. You must understand that you don’t have autonomy, however. You’re free to make choices, but you’re not free to make the consequences of those choices. Your creaturely free will works within God’s decretive will. God is sovereign, not you.

            “Brother TC, you had best hope that your god is not real, because in the long run you’re no better off than I am.”

            Your second clause doesn’t follow from the first one.

            “You could end up as Job 2.0 in the blink of a divine eye.”

            I get the feeling you didn’t read to the end of Job.

            “Read your Bible again, and this time pay more attention to the parts that portray your god in a less-than-flattering light.”

            I read the Bible continuously, front to back, and God’s glory shines throughout.

          25. I say again: I reject substitutionary atonement unconditionally. This is not negotiable.

            As for Job — at the end of the fable, essentially your imaginary fiend says the equivalent of “Suck it up, sunshine; I’m the one in charge here.” Clearly an evil god. Oh, and Job’s original children stayed dead, too.

            Your faith will die, Brother TC — maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but after you draw your last breath your brain will die and everything you ever believed will be gone forever. You won’t even know that you never made it to heaven. If I were you, I would give this serious consideration so that you don’t waste any more of your life foisting an evil mythology on humanity.

          26. “This is not negotiable.”

            You seem to think we’re negotiating. I ain’t negotiating, and neither is God. I’m just trying to clear up your confusion.

            “Your faith will die, Brother TC.”

            Once again, I believe the Bible, not you. I hope that doesn’t offend you.

            “If I were you…”

            And I thank God you’re not me…

            “I would give this serious consideration”

            I was an atheist for 43 years. I was saved while reading the Bible in order to write a cynical novel against all religions. I read the Quran right before the Bible. Got lots of material against the Quran, but then the Holy Spirit got lots of material against me while I read the Bible.

            Anyway, God’s powerful enough and merciful enough to save even you, friend, even while you’re an enemy of God (Rom 5:10, Col 1:21). I know you don’t believe that right now, and that’s fine.

          27. You are not my friend, Brother TC. You are my enemy because you teach evil concepts like sin and substitutionary atonement.

            Accordingly, I recuse myself from this and all future conversations with you, as there is nothing more to discuss.

          28. I can’t speak for Guestie, but I think he’s trying to make the point that there is no better reason to believe in the literal God of the Bible than there is to believe in Thor. Sure, if you believe, you will see evidence for your beliefs in abundance, but that is hardly proof those beliefs are correct.
            If you could jump into H.G. Wells’s time machine and go back to Scandinavia in the year 900 A.D., I doubt you’d have any better luck in a dispute with a believer in Thor than Guestie is having with you. He might say something like, “How do you explain the thunder and lightning if Thor doesn’t exist? Besides, people SEE the big redbeard! My neighbour Oslaf is renowned around here as a steady, sensible man, and he was caught out on the moor hunting robbers when a great storm started. He saw the thunder god riding through the sky in his chariot drawn by two goats, swinging his hammer! Are you saying Oslaf’s a liar? No, and by the stars, you’d better not! His sons were with him too and they saw it. Honest men all three, even at risk to themselves; they’re noted for it.”
            And if you tried to explain to my hypothetical Viking that Oslaf and all his sons together actually SEEING Thor in the sky, and honestly saying so, doesn’t prove at all that Thor exists, I reckon you’d have difficulty. And a fight on your hands.

          29. “Sure, if you believe, you will see evidence for your beliefs in abundance, but that is hardly proof those beliefs are correct.”

            Agreed. Take evolution, for instance.

            The preponderance of false beliefs does not impugn the objective and absolute truth of matters. Explaining that some people believe in false gods only piles on more evidence that people get things wrong all the time. Meanwhile, the truth is the truth.

            Now, if you want to argue that nobody can know the truth, absolutely, then we can talk about that self-contradicting truth claim.

        4. That’s flat wrong. Atheists disbelieve all religions, and that includes Islam and Judaism — not to mention Hinduism. Before you can “rebel” against any God, you have to believe there is one. They wouldn’t by any means be “fine” with a pantheon of other gods if a powerful movement was trying to impose belief in them and seeking to penalize unbelief. It’s mortal fallible human beings (like you) who claim on no evidence that their god is the “one true and living God” and threaten us with his judgement, come the day, who set our teeth on edge. Besides, we’re seeing a certain amount of evidence that you’d punish us in this world, if you could, with social ostracism, job loss, maybe legal penalties if you could push the necessary laws through the legislative system.
          While not of major importance in itself, there is also the fact that believers who rant against “atheists” often have a damned shaky grasp of what atheism is. I’m reminded of Edgar Pangborn’s novel “Davy”, set in a post-apocalyptic America ruled by the “Holy Murcan Church.” The narrator at one point recalls an incident in his home town in which a man was tried and burned for atheism, because in what he mistakenly thought was a private conversation with a friend, he said that he did not believe anybody was ever born of a virgin. “I’m not clear how this made him an atheist,” Davy writes, “but I knew better than to ask.”
          Wise boy.

          1. “Atheists disbelieve all religions.”

            Not an accurate statement. Plenty of atheists identify as Buddhists.

            “We’re seeing a certain amount of evidence that you’d punish us in this world, if you could, with social ostracism, job loss, maybe legal penalties if you could push the necessary laws through the legislative system.”

            You’re seeing evidence that I’d do those things? In my opinion, doing such things would work against spreading the gospel, not for it. You’re quite prejudiced. Please try to be more discerning.

            I was an atheist for over 40 years, and a good number of atheists have said I wasn’t actually an atheist — based only on the evidence that I’m now a professing Christian.

            No True Scotsman, back in their faces.

        5. Brother, you need to read a little wider, or better yet talk to more atheists and pagans because there appears to be confusion.
          “…they rebel against only one God in particular…” many of us don’t rebel at all, we plain old don’t believe. Religious choices should be analogous to not eating lima beans: What you do with your lima beans is your business, but not all choose to partake. No rebellion, no disingenuousness, no hatred.

          1. I was an atheist for over 40 years, and I studied literature and philosophy in college. I read copiously and I own a used bookstore.

            True religion is nothing like eating lima beans (?). Your policy on lima bean consumption does not convict you of crimes that require atonement. It’s not that atheists from the Dawkins/Hitchens/Dennett/Harris camp simply don’t believe in the God who will judge them — the very idea offends them.

          2. I’m not offended. And yes, religion is like lima beans. It’s a personal preference. Your god doesn’t need to judge me – I get plenty of that from your coreligionists.

          3. Do you think the judgment you get from my “coreligionists” supplants or satisfies the judgment of God to come? (Yes, I know you don’t believe in God, but your unbelief has no bearing on the truth.)

          4. Why Yes, Brother, I am terrified of the god I don’t believe in, just the way The Supreme Golden Unicorn that you don’t believe in makes you drop to your knees in prayer.

            I don’t believe you were ever atheist. Atheists usually have a better grasp on logic.

          5. I didn’t think gods or any sort of spirits existed without evidence to prove otherwise, and I didn’t consider any of the so-called evidence to be proof. I called myself an atheist, and my parents called themselves atheists. All my friends were either atheists, new agers or satanists. I’ve shot up Bibles at the shooting range (not proud). So if I wasn’t an atheist, what do you think I was?

          6. India paper blows up in a spectacular fashion when you shoot it. Confetti everywhere. A shooting friend, also an atheist, brought them along one day. Since I considered the Bible to be nothing but a manmade fiction, I had no problem shooting it like I’d shoot any other paper target.

          7. Interesting.. perhaps you are projecting the anger and hostility you felt back when you were shooting up bibles onto Atheists now?

            Because you were angry enough (at Christians/ Bible????) to shoot at bibles does not render Atheists angry and rebellious. It may have rendered you that in general at the time… I have no idea but you make lots of false correlations and false causal relationship assertions throughout this thread.

            I will point out that most Atheists, Humanists, Pagans, Muslims and other non-Christians wouldn’t shoot up a bible simply out of respect for other people’s beliefs. Funny that even as an Atheist (if you ever were) you were intolerant and disrespectful of that which disagreed with you. You are consistent with that entitlement here.

            Keith Taylor already pointed out the holes in your logic so I won’t do it again.

          8. Evidence please? What was intolerant in anything I wrote.

            Because you are held accountable to your words or actions is not intolerance, it’s accountability (resonsibility, not blame). Because Christians words or actions performed in the name of Christianity are held to account, that is not intolerance either. That is being held responsible. You fall to manufactured victimhood the moment you have no substantive reply.

            One other point you ignored…

            “I will point out that most Atheists, Humanists, Pagans, Muslims and other non-Christians wouldn’t shoot up a bible simply out of respect for other people’s beliefs. Funny that even as an Atheist (if you ever were) you were intolerant and disrespectful of that which disagreed with you. You are consistent with that entitlement here.”

            I am a gun owner and NEVER would I shoot up a bible (koran, etc.) not out or reverence for the book or the religion itself, but out of tolerance, civility and resepect for the people that subscribe to the doctrine.You are the person that shot up the bible becausse you didn’t value it at the time. Guess what, that would be you that exhibits intolerance and disrespect.

          9. First, I don’t claim victimhood. I’m on the victors side of everything, after all.

            You assume that I shot up Bibles because I was angry at Christians, despite my clear explanation to the contrary.

            You’ve accused me personally of discriminating against atheists:

            “I don’t care why you discriminate, I just care that you do in our secular country with freedom of and from religios persectuion.”

            I haven’t demonstrated that I pretend ideas are invalid just because they don’t fit with my already made up mind, though you’ve accused me of such.

            “So if some idea doesn’t work for you, you just pretend it’s invalid because it doesn’t fit your already made up mind. Got it.”

            Fact is, I’ve changed my mind drastically, and against my most heartfelt opinions and inclinations.

            But more generally, you’re judging the actions of people based on their faith, when you acknowledge that they’re acting contrary to their faith when they do these hateful things. You do this while giving atheism a pass in Stalin’s case, citing that he’s other things besides an atheist, but you can’t give Christianity such generosity when Christians act against their faith. You’ve got uneven scales.

          10. You assume that I shot up Bibles because I was angry at Christians, despite my clear explanation to the contrary.
            ——— Note nothing to do with disrespecting Christiantiy as a religion
            ——— You disrespected your religion, not me by shooting up bibles
            ——— I questioned if you were angry as that is a likely driver for such behavior (Insert more psych references you will ignore)

            You’ve accused me personally of discriminating against atheists:
            ——— Note nothing to do with disrespecting Christianity as a religion AGAIN
            ——— You asserted repeated tropes and misinformation about Atheists throughout your posts (I detailed them in my other answers – I refer you back)

            “I don’t care why you discriminate, I just care that you do in our secular country with freedom of and from religious persecution.” I haven’t demonstrated that I pretend ideas are invalid just because they don’t fit with my already made up mind, though you’ve accused me of such –
            ——— Note nothing to do with disrespecting Christiantiy as a religion AGAIN
            ——— Point of fact, you did pretending that Truth was exclusively your subjective and mythological definition for evidence of god and when objective truth (provable and repeatable) was sought you obfuscated and asserted the commenter (not me) didn’t know what truth was effectivcely because of being an Atheist (read your own comments). AND you blatantly did this during the Stalin narrative re: rejection of Psychiatric diagnosis and lack of empathy, Pschopathy, etc.

            “So if some idea doesn’t work for you, you just pretend it’s invalid because it doesn’t fit your already made up mind. Got it.” Fact is, I’ve changed my mind drastically, and against my most heartfelt opinions and inclinations. But more generally, you’re judging the actions of people based on their faith, when you acknowledge that they’re acting contrary to their faith when they do these hateful things. You do this while giving atheism a pass in Stalin’s case, citing that he’s other things besides an atheist, but you can’t give Christianity such generosity when Christians act against their faith. You’ve go
            — —-LIE: I Never gave Stalin a pass so you are literally making that up. I condemned him for his actions but rejected the idea that Stalin’s actions were due to his Atheism. You made a false causal relationship but wouldn’t acknowledge it
            .——- Holding someone accountable to the tennents of what they claim to be is not disrepecting, it is calling out the hypocrisy. This is where you fall to victimihood again
            ——– Note nothing to do with disrespecting your religion AGAIN
            ——– My comments are to YOUR assertions and to YOU, never did I say anything about Christianity. I held you responsible. This is you flipping the script rather than address the issues on their merits

            .

          11. “You disrespected your religion, not me by shooting up bibles”

            Now that’s an interesting assertion. No Christians were present or even knew this happened. How then, as an atheist, do you explain that a religion was disrespected? Do you subscribe to some sort of universal energy force that conveys moral meaning such as disrespect?

            “I questioned if you were angry as that is a likely driver for such behavior (Insert more psych references you will ignore)”

            I haven’t ignored any of your psych references. You questioned if I was angry after I explained that no anger was involved — it was just another kind of paper target.

            “Note nothing to do with disrespecting Christianity as a religion AGAIN.”

            You’ve accused me of disrespecting atheism by bringing up Stalin (which my point did not do; in fact, the opposite), and yet you’ve attempted to separate Christianity apart from other belief systems because of the foul treatment you’ve personally received from some Christians. This is not only disrespect, but it’s bigotry.

            “You asserted repeated tropes and misinformation about Atheists throughout your posts (I detailed them in my other answers – I refer you back)”

            Are you talking about your mischaracterization of my Stalin remarks? I would hope you don’t want to refer me back to that.

            “I haven’t demonstrated that I pretend ideas are invalid just because they don’t fit with my already made up mind, though you’ve accused me of such.”

            Dude. You called the Christian faith a mythology.

            “Note nothing to do with disrespecting Christiantiy as a religion AGAIN.”

            Dude. You called the Christian faith a mythology.

            “objective truth (provable and repeatable)”

            You’re confusing truth and fact. Facts (provable and repeatable phenomenon observed through experimentation) are not necessarily truth.

            I submit that you probably don’t even believe anyone can know objective, absolute truth. Correct me if I’m wrong.

            “rejection of Psychiatric diagnosis”

            I don’t reject any diagnoses of psychopathy. I reject the causal and neurological model underlying most psychological research into the area.

            “LIE: I Never gave Stalin a pass so you are literally making that up.”

            I didn’t say you gave Stalin a pass. Read it again. I said you gave atheism a pass.

            “This is where you fall to victimihood again.”

            Check yourself. I’m not claiming victimhood anywhere.

            “Note nothing to do with disrespecting your religion AGAIN.”

            Dude. You called the Christian faith a mythology.

            “My comments are to YOUR assertions and to YOU, never did I say anything about Christianity.”

            Here’s how you characterized my belief, which is fully Christian: “mythology about sin”

            You may claim you’re not saying anything about Christianity, but you’re saying much about your opinion of Christianity.

          12. You spin and obfuscate exceptionally well… You lapse to the disingenuous here. I’ll address the new points but not the ones I already addressed elsewhere.

            (1.) I already addressed this in my other comments (re: Atheists and other religions not disrespecting people through their holy-literature out of tolerance and civility). If a non-Christian shot up a bible, you would call it disrespecting your religion. Don’t play both ends against the middle. You run on a SIN narrative but assert here that disrespect doesn’t occur if no one saw it. By this logic your churches could be burned down and so long as no one saw someone do it, it isn’t discriminatory or disrespectful. Disingenuous is the kindest characterization of this.

            ******************** You disrespected your religion, not me by shooting up bibles” Now that’s an interesting assertion. No Christians were present or even knew this happened. How then, as an atheist, do you explain that a religion was disrespected? Do you subscribe to some sort of universal energy force that conveys moral meaning such as disrespect?
            “I questioned if you were a ngry as that is a likely driver for such behavior (Insert more psych references you will ignore)” I haven’t ignored any of your psych references. You questioned if I was angry after I explained that no anger was involved — it was just another kind of paper target.

            2. Bringing up Stalin was not what elicited the assertion. It was when you asserted a false causal relationship followed by the disingenuous comparison of Christianity with Atheism as if it was a religion. It was a circular effort that then asserted lack of worldview didn’t allow for being held to hypocrisy, etc. etc.

            ******************** You’ve accused me of disrespecting atheism by bringing up Stalin (which my point did not do; in fact, the opposite), and yet you’ve attempted to separate Christianity apart from other belief systems because of the foul treatment you’ve personally received from some Christians. This is not only disrespect, but it’s bigotry.

            3. I get it, you believe the Bible (whichever translations and versions your sect of Christianity subscribes to) are the direct word of your god. Most if not all religions are built on this assumption that their holy book/ writings are the direction of their god/gods. They are all mythology to non-believers of whichever ideology.

            4. You invoke victimhood when you are held accountable but infer that I am disrespecting Christianity when nothing I wrote in the post had to do with Christianity per se, it was about your comments and claims. You ignored the content of what I wrote in favor of the victim approach in the response.

            Can’t find where I supposedly wrote “mythology about sin”… I referenced you leveraging sin in your logic and I already addressed mythology. Neither is derogatory no matter how hard you try to force that square peg into the round hole. You merely not liking the facts rather than your preference is really not my concern.

            ******************** Check yourself. I’m not claiming victimhood anywhere.
            “Note nothing to do with disrespecting your religion AGAIN.”
            Dude. You called the Christian faith a mythology.
            “My comments are to YOUR assertions and to YOU, never did I say anything about Christianity.”
            Here’s how you characterized my belief, which is fully Christian: “mytho logy about sin”
            You may claim you’re not saying anything about Christianity, but you’re saying much about your opinion of Christianity.

          13. “You run on a SIN narrative but assert here that disrespect doesn’t occur if no one saw it.”

            My question was about your worldview, not mine. I’m not saying disrespect hasn’t occurred, but you’re asserting that disrespect has occurred. I want you to explain how you think disrespect has occurred, according to your worldview.

            “By this logic your churches could be burned down and so long as no one saw someone do it, it isn’t discriminatory or disrespectful.”

            I can’t tell if you deliberately mischaracterize my statements or you’re truly confused. Again, my question was about how you support your own assertion that disrespect has occurred.

            “It was when you asserted a false causal relationship followed by the disingenuous comparison of Christianity with Atheism as if it was a religion.”

            I made no such religious comparison.

            “It was a circular effort that then asserted lack of worldview didn’t allow for being held to hypocrisy.”

            I don’t understand your accusation of circularity, but beyond that, I see two big problems with your statement. First, nobody who is self-aware lacks a worldview. Atheism isn’t a lack of worldview — it is most assuredly a presupposition to withhold belief in deity unless shown physical evidence of such, believing that unless and until evidence is shown, there is nothing in the universe but matter and energy interacting according to certain physical laws. That’s a worldview. Second, atheism does not allow for moral hypocrisy because it leaves morality open to subjective interpretation. I suspect you still don’t understand this point, and you’ll accuse me of treating atheism as a religion, but you’d just be wrong again.

            “the Bible (whichever translations and versions your sect of Christianity subscribes to)”

            I like a lot of English translations (KJV, NASB, ESV, NKJV), and I judge them by their conformity to the massive amounts of manuscript evidence in Hebrew and Koine Greek, which exceeds any other work of antiquity by orders of magnitude.

            “Most if not all religions are built on this assumption that their holy book/ writings are the direction of their god/gods. They are all mythology to non-believers of whichever ideology.”

            First, not all religions are built on this assumption. Buddhism, for example, doesn’t even assert that God exists. Second, I don’t consider other religions to be mythology. I consider them to be false beliefs, because God has provided the truth in His word, which is Jesus Christ.

            You can continue to rack up examples of false beliefs, including your own, and I will continue to point out that the preponderance of false beliefs does not impugn the one absolute and objective truth. I’m not pointing this out as an argument to support my belief, but as a statement about your logical fallacy in pointing out false beliefs.

            “You invoke victimhood when you are held accountable but infer that I am disrespecting Christianity

            I don’t claim victim status just because you’re disrespecting Christianity.

            “Can’t find where I supposedly wrote ‘mythology about sin'””

            Of course you don’t know what you wrote. You’re extremely confused. Here’s what you wrote:

            “you have no objective evidence to support your opinion but inject mythology about sin as the justification for not believeing in neuroscience and psychiatric science.”

            You can say you’re just talking about me, but I’m just talking about basic Christian doctrine. Find me a Christian who doesn’t believe in sin, and I’ll show you someone who rejects the gospel of Jesus Christ.

            “never did I say anything about Christianity.”

            Okay, then, let’s get this straight. The essential gospel doctrine is based around the existence of sin in the world. Do you think this constitutes a mythology about sin (as you put it), or are you willing to admit that sin may in fact exist?

    4. There’s hardly an Islamic elephant in the U.S. room. Not according to the numbers. The percentage of Muslim citizens in the U.S. is one per cent — actually, a bit less. The percentage of Christian evangelicals, fundamentalists, is twenty. Another fifty per cent identify as Christians without being evangelicals, making seventy all told. And a significant percentage of those are loudly calling for discrimination against those who don’t believe as they do. They are calling for the doctrine of creation of life on earth, as separate species from the start, by a divine power, to be taught in science classrooms on equal terms with evolution. The president, himself as irreligious and immoral a man as you could find, is pandering to them as an important part of his political base, and doing it with complete cynicism. The vice president, Mike Pence, has an avowed religious-political agenda. Betsy DeVos, who is now — grotesquely — head of the Department of Education, is taking public education apart with an axe and promoting ignorance in the name of her oft-expressed fundamentalist convictions. There are voices loudly saying that God appointed Donald Trump president to save the U.S.A. and comparing him to King David. One of the loudest belongs to convicted fraudster (his original sentence was forty years) and long-time religious grifter Jim Bakker. Others belong to obviously crazy people like Coach Dave Daubenmire.
      I’d witness it with utter horror if an Islamist theocracy should be established in the U.S.A. But there is not the slightest chance that will happen, and that is not the danger. The danger of a Christian fundamentalist theocracy being established is real. It’s every bit as horrifying a prospect as the other, and as perilous to liberty — not to mention people’s power to perceive reality.
      Once we lose the second of those, we’re all too likely to lose the first.

    5. Don’t tell us what Christ did or said, tell his followers, too many of whom are out of the loop. Thank you.

    6. yes, when you live in a society where Christians hate you, it’s logical to focus on a religion that has no political power to wield against you, and so few numbers you rarely run into its members. Logically, such a religion is obviously the elephant in the room, not the religion of the people who actually live around you and have power.

      Did you learn logic from a Dunkin Donuts online course or something?

        1. See Bryan Fischer and John Hagee above. Search for the pushback from other Christians. Then circle back to this point.

          1. What if I judged all atheists based on the genocidal atrocities committed by the Stalinist Soviet Union? They were indeed atheists, they encouraged atheism in their society, and many of their policies were explicitly based on that ideology.

            So do you think it would be fair for me to base my anti-atheist beliefs on the Stalin example? It’s no small matter — these atheists killed about 20 million people.

            If you’re going to say atheism has nothing to say about killing, and thus it’s not atheism’s fault, then you ought to be at least as generous about Christianity, because Jesus and His apostles had much to say about loving even your enemies. So just as you think atheism doesn’t tell people to kill (though I argue that the worldview allows it), Christianity clearly tells believers not to hate you.

            The Christians and preachers that do tell believers to hate others are called hypocrites, and they’ll get their fiery reward if they don’t repent. Jesus teaches that too.

            Your problem is with hypocrites, not Christianity. The existence of hypocrites in the world who think and do terrible things does not imply that God doesn’t exist — to the contrary, it affirms everything the Bible says. No matter how much you dislike Christianity and Christians, the fact that evil exists and haters will hate lends no support to your atheist beliefs.

            By the way, Stalin can be called a lot of things, but you can’t call him a hypocrite based on his atheist beliefs. However, you would be able to call him a hypocrite if he claimed to be a Christian. That should tell you something.

            You were given your moral sense by God as a matter of common grace (Rom 2:14). You know it’s wrong to murder, as do most atheists. Some atheists use that knowledge to argue that it’s sad that Christians need a book and an imaginary sky daddy to tel them murder is wrong, but that’s not the case at all. Christians know murder is wrong outside of their religious beliefs, just as atheists do.

            You may or may not know that hating people is wrong. This issue is way more contentious than murder. Lots of atheists hate. They hate people that do evil things, so they judge those people worthy of their hate. At the same time, they know in their hearts that hate is wrong — thus, the notion of “hate crimes” we have today — but then they override this plain fact because they consider themselves capable of deciding when it’s okay for them to hate. Atheists are their own moral judges, and they get to decide when it’s okay to hate. On the other hand, the Bible clearly teaches that Christians should never hate another person because we’re all image-bearers of God. (If you’re going to point to Luke 14:26, I’ll be happy to clear that up for you; it shouldn’t surprise you that Jesus wasn’t telling people to hate their parents, children and siblings at the same time he was telling them to love their enemies. The parallel verse in Matthew 10:37 will tell you what He means).

            So if you’re going to pick on religions for terrible things, pick on a religion that instructs its followers to think and do terrible things.

          2. So, about that push back from other Christians. There is none. It is rare for one Christian to publicly call out another. Franklin Graham preaches little other than hatefulness, but is honored throughout the Christian world. Pat Robinson lost his marbles over a decade ago, presuming he ever had them, and he is honored by Christians.

            But atheists on Stalin? They are brutal. The man is called dictator, narcissist, tyrant and other such names. He is castigated.

            And that is setting aside that Stalin did what he did to get and consolidate power not in the name of atheism, but in the name of communism – although the form of government was more fascist than communist. Atheism was not his driving motivation. Atheism was a mere tool used to take power from the Orthodox Church, because Stalin did not like competition for power. Consolidated power in a centralized government controlled by Stalin was his driving motivation.

            My moral sense is biological. It is the moral sense of animals who live in groups. That’s why we don’t murder or steal and why people are quick to distrust those who look differently or sound differently – they aren’t the in-group. My moral sense is also mental based on what I have read and learned. That’s why people can overcome that inherent distrust of strangers and welcome them. When people damage the part of the brain that handles moral judgments, or are born without it, they become psychopaths and have to be taught moral rules because they do not innately behave with in-group behavior.

            Whether hating people is wrong or not, it’s exhausting and I don’t have the energy for that. Anyway, they are my species and I’m committed to making the Venn diagram of my species and my in-group a single circle.

          3. “So, about that push back from other Christians. There is none.”

            Maybe you should read the Christianity Today article titled “Evangelical Christians Are Sick.”

            Or check out the Christian Century article, “American evangelicalism and the politics of whiteness.”

            These voices aren’t nearly as powerful as the hypocritical ones who serve their own desires rather than Jesus Christ. No surprise there.

            I push back all the time on so-called evangelicalism in America, and I personally know lots of Christians who do the same. I consider them my brothers and sisters.

            Anyway, you’re just plain wrong that “There is none.”

            But even more importantly, your new (and counterfactual) point doesn’t address my points at all. You just jumped to something else.

            “Atheism was not his driving motivation.”

            I never even implied that atheism is a driving force. I said atheism allows for such atrocities to occur. Christianity explicitly disallows these atrocities, though it does not control man’s freewill to the extent that it prevents them from occurring.

            “My moral sense is biological.”

            Does your moral sense tell you to “distrust those who look differently or sound differently?” And you’ve overcome that inherent prejudice by what you’ve “read and learned?”

            That’s startlingly frightening. What if you’ve read and learned terrible things, in fact, things that reinforce your bigotry against strangers?

            Doesn’t this mutable moral basis of yours lead to the very sorts of atrocities committed by 20th century dictators? The word “genocide” was coined to describe them, not God.

            Since your morals are relative, who are you to call someone else a psychopath? Sounds to me like they’ve simply read and learned different things, and now their psychopathic tendencies are completely valid for them. What’s so bad about that?

            “they become psychopaths and have to be taught moral rules”

            Whose moral rules? Yours? Some psychopaths embrace in-group behavior. We call them CEOs. They have a hyper-charged sense of Us vs. Them, and they’ll do anything to win for their team because it pays off for themselves. They’re only giving in to their selfish genes, right?

            And whose moral rules do you need to teach people? Yours? What if you’ve learned and read the wrong things (suspending for the moment that your worldview doesn’t allow for truly “wrong things”)?

            You’ve arbitrary set a standard for morality based on your own ideas, and you formulated those ideas from the presupposition that God does not exist. If you knew God exists, you would never even set along the path of thinking all your errors even resemble truth.

          4. I said atheism allows for such atrocities to occur. Christianity explicitly disallows these atrocities…

            Except you know, when Christianity becomes the motivating force for atrocities. As it has so many times. Atheism does nothing to stop atrocities – we can agree on that. Atheism is not a moral code or a set of rules to live by or anything like that. Atheism is simply an understanding that there is no evidence as to the existence of any god and no reason to believe in any god. That’s it. For morality, once must look elsewhere. I find that humanism fills that need for me. I like the tenets of The Satanic Temple in particular.

            That’s startlingly frightening. What if you’ve read and learned terrible things, in fact, things that reinforce your bigotry against strangers?

            Doesn’t this mutable moral basis of yours lead to the very sorts of atrocities committed by 20th century dictators? The word “genocide” was coined to describe them, not God.

            Yes, we should teach ethics in public schools as a required course. Since we don’t, I covered this at home with my own child, as most parents do. Nonetheless, there are plenty of crappy parents in the world and I do wish we would provide those kids with lessons in critical thinking and ethical decision making. Otherwise we end up with 30% of the country voting for Trump, one of the most unethical people I’ve ever seen in action.

            Since your morals are relative, who are you to call someone else a psychopath? Sounds to me like they’ve simply read and learned different things, and now their psychopathic tendencies are completely valid for them. What’s so bad about that?

            I didn’t call anyone a psychopath. That would be a medical diagnosis to be made by a medical professional. There are clear diagnostic criteria for psychopathy and it isn’t “different ethical rules.”

            Whose moral rules? Yours? Some psychopaths embrace in-group behavior. We call them CEOs. They have a hyper-charged sense of Us vs. Them, and they’ll do anything to win for their team because it pays off for themselves. They’re only giving in to their selfish genes, right?

            Ethical and moral rules of a society are formed by the society, and differ from one group of people to another. Some psychopaths do follow those rules. Others can as well, if they are taught how to and that to do so is in their best interests.

            You’ve arbitrary set a standard for morality based on your own ideas, and you formulated those ideas from the presupposition that God does not exist. If you knew God exists, you would never even set along the path of thinking all your errors even resemble truth.

            And you follow an arbitrary standard for morality based on iron age shepherds, formulated with the presupposition that God exists because why else would we have rainbows.

          5. “Except you know, when Christianity becomes the motivating force for atrocities.”

            No, Christianity is never a motivating force for atrocities.

            The motivating force for atrocities is sin. I know you don’t believe in sin, so let’s simply call it “the tendency for mean people to do mean things.” You’ll agree that mean people will do mean things, no matter what their religion or non-religion, correct? In the case of Christians committing atrocities — like I’ve clearly said — that’s hypocrisy, a sin. I mean, whoops, that’s something mean people do. The fact that Christianity doesn’t actively prevent mean people from doing mean things should say something to you about the religion — it doesn’t seek to control anyone by force.

            You’re happy to place the blame for atrocities on Christianity, which explicitly condemns them, but you’ll let atheism off the hook because it simply allows for them. You’re not thinking clearly. You’re letting your hatred of the other community get the best of you.

            “Atheism is not a moral code or a set of rules to live by or anything like that.”

            That’s right, so you’ve made up your own set of rules. Nicely done.

            “For morality, once must look elsewhere.”

            Right again. You must look inward, at your own desires, and then follow them. You’ve got no other authority. Mean people will look inward and find mean things to do.

            “I find that humanism fills that need for me.”

            Of course you do. It serves your desires.

            “Ethical and moral rules of a society are formed by the society, and differ from one group of people to another.”

            If ethics and moral rules are culturally defined, then genocide must have been okay within Nazi Germany. According to the culture they developed, subjugating, torturing and killing non-Aryans to support the motherland was completely ethical — in fact, required to live a moral life as a German.

            Is that how you take it? It was moral for Nazis to commit atrocities, but not for us?

            “And you follow an arbitrary standard for morality based on iron age shepherds, formulated with the presupposition that God exists because why else would we have rainbows.”

            Good one. I disagree, obviously, but that has no impact on the serious problems following standards of morality taught by men, flowing with whatever is culturally acceptable at the time (see: Nazis).

          6. Let’s be clear, I have no hatred for Christians. I love, deeply love, many Christians. I just think they are wrong. Lovely, dear people who are wrong about religion.

            Christianity was the motivating force behind the Crusades, the Inquisition, the many witch trials, the Ku Klux Klan and their reign of terror, the genocide of Native Americans, slavery, the French Wars of Religion (between Catholics and Protestants), the Irish “troubles” (war between Catholics and Protestants), the Thirty Year War (between Catholics and Protestants), the Westboro Baptist Church, the murders of abortion doctors and bombings of abortion clinics, the torture and murder and driving to suicide of many LGBT people. Christianity is steeped in blood and always has been and still is.

            You aren’t, presumably. The Christians I know aren’t. But a lot of wrong has been done specifically because someone felt a Christian god wanted it done. Right or wrong, they believed the evil they did was justified because it was what the Christian god wanted. Atheism doesn’t do that. There is nothing in the idea of “no reason to believe in a god” that would make a person kill another person. Nothing to stop them, yes, but then there’s clearly nothing in Christianity to stop evil either.

            If ethics and moral rules are culturally defined, then genocide must have been okay within Nazi Germany. According to the culture they developed, subjugating, torturing and killing non-Aryans to support the motherland was completely ethical — in fact, required to live a moral life as a German.

            Yes, within the Nazi regime, killing Jewish people was considered a reasonable moral and ethical choice. Other societies disagreed strongly about that. That’s not why we fought a war – that was over annexation of countries – but it became a motivating factor. The United Nations has helped develop a sense of international ethics which include being against genocide. The Bible on the other hand is not against genocide, at least in the Old Testament when God tells the Israelites to kill everyone, including their stock. God seems to revel in genocide then. Now, you say he hates it. And then you call my morality relative. Pot, meet kettle.

          7. Do you think the Bible (the whole Bible, not deliberate misinterpretations made by cutting out most of the Bible) supports any of the horrible things you listed?

            “The Bible on the other hand is not against genocide, at least in the Old Testament when God tells the Israelites to kill everyone, including their stock.”

            By your own standard, that should be okay. Like slavery at the time and in that region, bloody invasions and ruthless slaughter were just a matter of operating a nation. To use your words, those things were “considered a reasonable moral and ethical choice.” The Israelites themselves were held to a lot of laws that were downright objectionable today — such as stoning a kid who won’t listen to his parents — and then Jesus came and gave us a better way. Thank God for Jesus. Now there is neither gentile nor jew under Jesus Christ.

            Also, we’re not talking about Judaism here. While the Old Testament is crucial for Christianity — I’ve been reading it even more often lately than the New Testament — you’ve got to consider the whole Bible. You’ve got to consider Jesus Christ and the New Covenant when talking about Christianity. There are reasons why God had Israel drive out the heathen nations and so forth, and it all points to His plan to have a holy people separate from the world. (Before you criticize the holiness of driving out nations and eliminating whole people groups through war, read the previous paragraph again.)

            As for God hating, it’s true. God said “Vengeance is mine.” But neither hate nor wrath is condoned for followers of Christ. The Bible makes this clear.

            So if you read the Bible, the whole Bible, you will understand that it’s very much against genocide, hate and wrath.

          8. The Bible provides little in the way of a moral code is my point. It does not ban genocide and provides a host of examples of times God ordered it. It does not ban slavery and provides rules for God-approved slavery. It does not ban, or even mention, child rape. I’m glad that our society’s morals have evolved past the Bible.

            And it is not okay by my standards, because my standards are the norms of my society. In general, the moral arc of the world seems to bend toward increasing justice. Not always, not in a straight line, but over time it does. I find the moral standards of the Bible to be simply awful.

          9. I can’t keep you from misinterpreting the Bible. If you want a delusion, you can have it. God will give you what you desire.

          10. It’s not blame, it’s responsibility. There is a world of difference in holding accountable those Christians that actually commit atrocities and justify it with biblical rationale than merely claiming that without actual evidence. This is the semantical game where suddenly Christians are victims (getting blamed) when held accountable for what they do or is done in the name of their religous doctrine. It’s childish logic.

            You seem to just levy an unsupported opinion (that the Psychopaths are not devoid of empathy… as one) and subsume it into your narrative. So if some idea doesn’t work for you, you just pretend it’s invalid because it doesn’t fit your already made up mind. Got it. Hmmm the height of arrogance… also something that your religion frowns on but I bet you will justify it with more cognitive dissonance.

          11. I do believe psychopaths lack empathy — that’s a clear point of observation — but I reject the psychological, mechanistic theory that says a neurological malfunction prevents their conscience-thingy (my pejorative term, not theirs) from operating correctly. I rejected the theory before I was saved, and now I understand lack of empathy to be due to sin — which is a natural inclination in people.

          12. LOL… so you have no objective evidence to support your opinion but inject mythology about sin as the justification for not believeing in neuroscience and psychiatric science.

            I could cite peer reviewed, medical research to demonstrate that empathy can be something a human lacks. But you dismiss facts for mythology any time it doesn’t serve your narrative.

          13. I have personal and experiential evidence supporting the truth in Jesus Christ. The fact that you lack such evidence doesn’t make the gospel a “mythology.” That would be a blind assertion on your part.

            No need to cite peer reviewed, medical research demonstrating that “empathy can be something a human lacks.” This is exactly what I expressed in my last comment:

            “I do believe psychopaths lack empathy.”

            Again, I reject the mechanistic explanation. I reject the mechanistic model for the mind because it’s based on materialistic assumptions arising from a correspondingly naturalistic worldview. I rejected this worldview before I was saved. I’m a consistent skeptic.

            “But you dismiss facts for mythology any time it doesn’t serve your narrative.”

            Your assumption is at odds with my clear words. I don’t dismiss facts. I dismiss unsupported theories based on blind faith in materialism.

          14. “I have personal and experiential evidence supporting the truth in Jesus Christ. The fact that you lack such evidence doesn’t make the gospel a “mythology.” That would be a blind assertion on your part.” This is so good I just couldn’t resist.

            That’s the same level of evidence people have for alien abductions, Sasquatch, ghosts, and every other version of myth and legend. Yours isn’t any more real or evidenced. In fact, many would say people have more evidence for a Sasquatch than for any sort of deity.

            Also, on the topic of your whiney complaints about disrespecting your religion… Beliefs don’t deserve respect by default. If they did, then racists, anti-Semites, flat-earthers and conspiracy theorists could make the same claim of people not respecting theirs. People deserve respect (unless actions negate that). Beliefs don’t. Beliefs should be questioned, scrutinized, and called out until they’re proven to be true. That’s how the scientific method works and it’s the best process for finding the truth that humanity has ever invented.

          15. “Yours isn’t any more real or evidenced.”

            Do you believe justice exists?

            “Beliefs don’t deserve respect by default.”

            So you get to decide which beliefs you will tolerate, and which you will disrespect. And you do this according to culturally-defined morality, which shifts across space and time.

            “People deserve respect (unless actions negate that).”

            Jesus Christ didn’t include your parenthetical qualifier. The whole gospel teaches that all people are image-bearers of God, and not only do they deserve respect, but they deserve unconditional love.

            “Beliefs should be questioned, scrutinized, and called out until they’re proven to be true.”

            Agreed. Further, none of that pursuit of the truth needs to involve disrespect or intolerance of beliefs. You happen to think disrespect and intolerance of beliefs is warranted when you decide it’s warranted.

            “That’s how the scientific method works and it’s the best process for finding the truth that humanity has ever invented.”

            What makes you think the scientific method, which is concerned only with observing the natural world, can teach you anything about absolute truth?

            I count science among God’s great gifts to mankind, giving us the ability to explore his glorious and ordered universe using our perception. But natural science, by design, has nothing to say about God. When science is used to bolster an atheistic and materialistic worldview, as you just did, it’s an abuse of science.

          16. *Filing under worst reply ever.

            This response is full of irrelevant references and questions that had nothing to do with anything I addressed. You’re a fucking jack ass, plain and simple. You’re only concerned with trying to leverage an argument into some corner where you think you may come out the “winner.” (See: insertion of justice question where it makes no sense except for in your deluded mind) Your presuppositional apologetics don’t work here. Your book of fairy tales doesn’t apply to me. If I wanted to choose a fictional guidebook for my life I’d pick something much more eloquently written and relevant.

            But here we go (because I have time to kill):

            “Do you believe justice exists?”
            –Irrelevant and a distraction. It has nothing to do with the fact that your deity has no evidence and the “evidence” you cited is shit. You failed to address my point.

            “So you get to decide which beliefs you will tolerate, and which you will disrespect. And you do this according to culturally-defined morality, which shifts across space and time.”
            –Yes, based on critical thinking and empathy. I don’t need a 2000-year-old book to tell me how to behave. I’m an adult and can think for myself. I see you have a deficiency there.

            “Jesus Christ didn’t include your parenthetical qualifier. The whole gospel teaches that all people are image-bearers of God, and not only do they deserve respect, but they deserve unconditional love.”
            –Your mythological deity was wrong. I don’t love or respect murderers, rapists, abusers, bigots, etc. You can respect those people all you want. I’ll pass.

            “Agreed. Further, none of that pursuit of the truth needs to involve disrespect or intolerance of beliefs. You happen to think disrespect and intolerance of beliefs is warranted when you decide it’s warranted.”
            –Yup. Again, I’m an adult with solid critical thinking skills. When I decide something is worthy of disrespect based on the evidence I’ve gathered, I have every right to shit on it, especially when it’s a belief system whose members feel it’s acceptable to discriminate against me (as in the topic of this article).

            “What makes you think the scientific method, which is concerned only with observing the natural world, can teach you anything about absolute truth?”
            –Another one of those dumb misdirects. The natural worls is all we have. It’s only you and your ilk who try to convince us otherwise.

            “I count science among God’s great gifts to mankind, giving us the ability to explore his glorious and ordered universe using our perception. But natural science, by design, has nothing to say about God. When science is used to bolster an atheistic and materialistic worldview, as you just did, it’s an abuse of science.”
            –Science wasn’t gifted to man by anyone or anything. Science is the study of the natural world by HUMANS. Sorry, you don’t get to look around the universe, see something that’s cool, and say, “hey, I like that. Let’s claim it for the religious! I’ve decided it’s a gift from god!” It’s science that has helped to debunk the nonsensical claims of your useless book. Sorry, it’s not useless. Apparently by your own admission, it’s fun to riddle with bullets.

            You’re a blast.

          17. Please stop swearing and calling me names. That’s not very kind.

            “insertion of justice question where it makes no sense except for in your deluded mind”

            If you can answer the question, I’ll show the relevance.

            “Your book of fairy tales doesn’t apply to me.”

            The Bible applies to everyone. Sorry to report, but you’re not free from sin.

            “You failed to address my point [about personal and experiential evidence].”

            My question about justice is directly aimed at your point. Please answer it, if you can.

            “I don’t need a 2000-year-old book to tell me how to behave. I’m an adult and can think for myself. I see you have a deficiency there.”

            You seem to think I rely on the Bible to teach me good behavior. I’m the guy who said all of us have been given a sense of right and wrong, and I quoted the Bible affirming that even unbelievers have morality written on their hearts. Remember?

            Yes, you’re an adult who knows right from wrong. That’s why you have no excuse for sinning.

            “I don’t love or respect murderers, rapists, abusers, bigots, etc. You can respect those people all you want. I’ll pass.”

            Okay.

            “Again, I’m an adult with solid critical thinking skills.”

            You’ve demonstrated a lack of critical thinking skills during this short conversation, and now you’ve reverted to verbal abuse. You might think swearing and calling names is an adult way to behave, but it’s rather childish.

            “belief system whose members feel it’s acceptable to discriminate against me”

            Again, the belief system of Christianity condemns discrimination against you. The terrible things done by hypocritical members gives you no place to judge Christianity or Christians as a whole when we have the Bible clearly showing Christians the better way in Christ.

            “The natural worls is all we have.”

            I need a buzzer here, because your argument from ignorance fails. An honest and consistent skeptic would leave room for the possibility that more exists. Instead, you’ve settled on the blind faith that the natural world is all you have.

            “Science wasn’t gifted to man by anyone or anything.”

            A number of scientists would disagree with you. Among them, Galileo, Copernicus, Kepler and Newton. Of course, these are old dead guys and you’re much more enlightened about science, right?

            “It’s science that has helped to debunk the nonsensical claims of your useless book.”

            Nope. The physical evidence can support the biblical worldview or the materialistic worldview, depending on your presuppositions.

          18. “Please stop swearing and calling me names. That’s not very kind.”
            –No. This is my site. If you don’t like it, find somewhere else to hang out and annoy the shit out of people.

            I’m not responding to the rest of your lunacy. It’s time for dinner. Get help.

          19. “No. This is my site. If you don’t like it, find somewhere else to hang out…”

            Okay. I was just asking.

            “Get help.”

            Got help.

          20. Kevin… BrotherTC is only here as a Troll. I made the mistake to substantively reply and he obfiscates, spins, ignores what he has no reply to and then recycles the same nonsense. His endless “whataboutism” serves nothing but his ego so far. I thank you for picking up the pushback on the nonsense. After rereading his rantings that pull out of context and insert malintent any time his religious views are not adored or referenced as he wants (aka unquestioned), I see he deems it all discriminatory and bigotry. He’s quick to climb up on his cross… as my grandfather used to say about his kind of Christian, “Get off the cross, we need the wood”. Incidently, he was a lifelong Catholic and Christian. My grandfather was a great guy… and didn’t suffer fools like BrotherTC. He would have given me an earful for even bothering.

            Thanks for the blog and the direct responses.

          21. And thank YOU for the entertainment! Your messages to TC and his poor excuses for replies just highlight his failures in addressing inquiry with substance. He just falls back on a persecution complex “crossed” with presuppositional apologetics (and thinks he’s speaking intelligently somehow). Crossed — see what I did there? Yeah, I’m all about dad jokes. Anywho… yeah, he’s a dime a dozen but doesn’t realize it.

          22. Also, I know a little bit about psychopaths and sociopaths. I’ve read six books on the subject.

            Suffice it to say, I don’t believe in the psychological model for psychopathy. I don’t believe it results from an inability to empathize, or a lack of conscience. Knowing the Bible, I recognize a different problem with these people. Hare’s psychopath test is interesting here, since each of its findings can be correlated with specific biblical principles regarding sin.

          23. I read those books before I was saved, and before I had read anything in the Bible. I’ve long been skeptical of quantifying qualitative phenomena, as much psychological research does — including Hare’s.

          24. Don’t forget, this is a guy who also says he “embraces scienctific discovery.” Um, ok, sure. Yet he tosses aside the findings of psychologists and calls evolution a materialistic fantasy — both in favor of a 2,000+ year-old book written by desert dwellers who didn’t know where the sun went at night. Now that’s spot-on critical thinking!

          25. Here is a book recommendation for you TC. The Bad Jesus: The Ethics of New Testament Ethics by Bible scholar Hector Avalos

          26. I think the repression of religion is a good thing, and that Stalin was right to dynamite that church.

          27. That’s a consistent and honest atheistic opinion.

            The same cannot be said for the USSR which, during their anti-religious campaign spanning 1928-1941, denied any religious persecution on their part. Meanwhile, they purged and liquidated thousands of clergymen who refused to deny God’s existence.

            Their propaganda program included an anti-religious education system, and in 1929 they created the Institute of Red Professors. They kicked out all believing scholars and began teaching that only backwards people believed in God. Sound familiar?

            Seems they got it backwards.

          28. You got the SNARK answer from Unhiddenness and you AGAIN paint Atheism with a broad brush. You shouldn’t participate in online forums if you have no ability to detect sarcasm and snark to your passive aggressive participation here.

            The rest is a Troll answer… another attempt to paint Atheists with the brush of Stalin that you intermittently deny you are doing. Who’s the bigot? That would be you.

          29. Since you joined Disqus in Feb 2018, you clearly need a social media crash course if you believe snark or troll refers to an animal in this context.

            You by definition are a TROLL. Your disingenuous interactions and obfiscation in your participation warrant no further response.

            Here is your crash course….
            ——————————————————————————————————————–
            troll
            trōl/Submit
            noun
            noun: troll; plural noun: trolls
            1.
            a person who makes a deliberately offensive or provocative online post.
            informal
            a deliberately offensive or provocative online posting.

            ——————————————————————————————————————–
            Snark the common noun colloquealism for snarky:

            snark·y
            ˈsnärkē/Submit
            adjectiveNORTH AMERICANinformal
            adjective: snarky; comparative adjective: snarkier; superlative adjective: snarkiest
            (of a person, words, or a mood) sharply critical; cutting; snide.
            “the kid who makes snarky remarks in class”
            cranky; irritable.
            “Bobby’s always a bit snarky before his nap”
            ——————————————————————————————————————–

            You’re Welcome.

          30. Gee wiz, professor, I’ve only been online since the early 80s, when I started a BBS and got on Usenet. Teach me about sarcasm, since I haven’t learned a thing while interacting in online forums for over 30 years, and I didn’t learn a thing about rhetoric while majoring in literature. Do show me how these trolls pursue commenters and harass them with ad hominem, when their own arguments fail utterly and they’ve no other option but to attack the person.

            The fact that I can subvert remarks and use them as an opportunity to uncover the error of the speaker might frustrate you, but that doesn’t make me a bigot. As I’ve made very clear to you over and over, I do not judge all atheists by the behavior of some — I know you don’t believe that, and I can only guess that you think you can read my mind to discover my real intention behind my words.

            I judge every man according to the righteousness of Jesus Christ, and that is all. Now go ahead and bring up Matthew 7:1, and I’ll teach you something.

            Anyway,

            1. How do you discern the truth from error?

            2. Do you believe in luck?

          31. LOLOLOLOLOL Did I hit a nerve? LOLOLOLOLOLOL

            (Rhetorical question since you have trouble recognizing snark)

          32. Looks like you fell asleep on your keyboard.

            Anyway, if you cannot formulate coherent responses, then we can be done here. Get some sleep.

          33. To the unsavvy with social media and online communication such as yourself… I guess that would look that way to you. You’re lack of substance and openly hostile trolling bores me… A nap is far prefereable to any interaction with you. Hell constipation…. bleeding ulcers…. a great many unpleasant things are prefereable to your hostility and trolling. My guess, you hear this a lot but in person.

          34. I’ve always resisted the use of emoticons and TLAs because I find them to be regressive forms of communication. And I find it amusing that my use of sarcasm and irony has completely eluded you.

            Why do you think the following question lacks substance? To wit,

            How do you discern the truth from error?

          35. Your attempts at sarcsm didn’t allude me, they just aren’t particularly impressive. Your lack of productive interaction demonstrated that you are incapable of substantive discussion, voluminous as it may be. I refer you back to my other answers where I have detailed how. I have answered as much of your obfiscations and disingenuous assertions (which I find regressive) as loosely related to the topic as they may be. Short of a substantive contribution devoid of whataboutism, you will receive no futher response.

          36. Show me evidence that you’ve answered the question. If you cannot show me evidence, then I can only assume that such an answer from you does not exist (using your reasoning for the non-existence of God, of course).

          37. Point of fact, Stalin was more than one “thing” and to attribute his ego driven aggression to being an Atheist without addressing other “things” he was is selective and tunnel vision. We could go down that tangent here but Stalin is off topic. The point is merely not believing in a god/ gods does not equate to your assertions about Atheists.

            In fact, your entire logic is framed around premises that are rooted in hatred, intolerance and projection with supposition of those that don’t believe as you do in an unproven being in the sky [aka God(s) ]. Perhaps it’s fear? Perhaps it’s habit from a lifetime diet of such from your sect of Christianity… I have no idea. In the end I don’t care why you discriminate, I just care that you do in our secular country with freedom of and from religios persectuion.

            One other point of nonsense from your post, my moral compass is firmly rooted in being a good human being and came from being around others that taught me that. It did not come from a mythical being. My moral framework was and remains a conscious choice. I am not motivated to behave well out of some fear of retribution from a god as Christianity (and other religions) teaches. Believe whatever works for you so long as you don’t discriminate or treat others poorly. The moment you cross that line as you do about Atheists, you are a hypocrite to the tenents of your own faith and not being a good human being.

          38. “In the end I don’t care why you discriminate.”

            Why do you say I discriminate? Please quote something I’ve said that you find discriminatory.

            The Bible affirms that everyone has a moral compass — even you, my friend — and that it’s a gift from God (Rom 2:14). That’s why you have no excuse for sinning.

            “The moment you cross that line as you do about Atheists, you are a hypocrite to the tenets of your own faith and not being a good human being.”

            I’m pleased that you recognize that treating others poorly goes against the tenets of Christianity, and that you’re able to call such people hypocrites. You cannot say the same thing about atheism, nor can you say it about Stalin. Stalin had thousands of believers purged and executed simply for refusing to say they don’t believe in God.

          39. Your discrimination… I can start with your conflation of Stalin’s behaviors to his being an Atheist and then applying it to all Atheists. You ignore many aspects of Statlin ‘s own arrogance and other psychological drivers that have been attributed to him and other brutal dictators. You summarily dismiss and “decided” that you wont’ consider mental health or pshcyological drivers (from one of your other posts here) so you can back into your discriminatory and false correlation that all Atheists are of Stalin’s ilk.

            If you read my posts… I said I had a moral compass… it just wasn’t divined or imposed by a diety.

            Another false causal in that you decide that merely not believing in a god(s) someohow extends to not being able to be held to account for hypocritcal behavior? It doesn’t even make sense on a superfical level. It’s nonsensical… you are trying to compare Christianity’s tenents to Atheism as if it was a comparative religion rather than an absence of one. It doesn’t hold.

            You loosely related concepts for Stalin have nothing to do with Atheism. His psychnological orientations (sociopathy/ psychopathy/ megalomantia/ fill in the blank) are the driver not his disbelief in a god.

          40. “I can start with your conflation of Stalin’s behaviors to his being an Atheist and then applying it to all Atheists.”

            I brought up Stalin to show how it would be wrong for me to judge all atheists by his actions. And now you say I’m being discriminatory because of it? That dog don’t hunt.

            “You ignore many aspects of Statlin ‘s own arrogance and other psychological drivers that have been attributed to him and other brutal dictators.”

            I do not ignore many aspects of Stalin’s arrogance and psychological drivers (as you put it). I acknowledge all of that. At the same time, you ignore the clear motivating factor that atheism played in Stalin’s sick worldview. You need to google [stalin anti religious campaign], then get back to me.

            And again, I didn’t bring up Stalin to attack atheism! I brought up Stalin to demonstrate that using him as an example to bash atheists in general would constitute bigotry — the same way that using hypocrite haters to bash Christians in general constitutes bigotry.

            And no, I’m not claiming victimhood or playing the “persecution card” as someone else said here. I count it all joy, as James said.

            “You summarily dismiss and ‘decided’ that you wont’ consider mental health or pshcyological drivers (from one of your other posts here)”

            Wrong again. I spent a lot of time reading about and considering the phenomenon of psychopathy. I happen to reject the mainline psychological models for psychopathy, but that doesn’t mean I reject the phenomenon of people lacking empathy.

            “so you can back into your discriminatory and false correlation that all Atheists are of Stalin’s ilk.”

            Like I said above, you’re totally misrepresenting my Stalin point. You need to recant, because your assertion amounts to slander.

            “If you read my posts… I said I had a moral compass… it just wasn’t divined or imposed by a diety.”

            Yes, I read your post. You’re asserting that you have a moral compass, as if I deny that you have a moral compass. Not only do I affirm that you have a moral compass, but I further declare that it’s a gift of grace from God. I know you don’t believe that.

            “Another false causal in that you decide that merely not believing in a god(s) someohow extends to not being able to be held to account for hypocritcal behavior?”

            No. I’m not saying that. I’m saying that the atheist worldview totally allows for immoral behavior. It would not be hypocritical for an atheist to kill a disabled baby to advance his notion of a master race, for example. It would be totally evil and immoral, but atheism itself has nothing to say about that.

            “you are trying to compare Christianity’s tenents to Atheism as if it was a comparative religion rather than an absence of one. It doesn’t hold.”

            Do try to pay attention: My point here is about hypocrisy. Think about hypocrisy. Meditate on the word. Now think about what makes a Christian a hypocrite for hating atheists. Such a person is a hypocrite, yes? Now think about an atheist who hates Christians. Is that atheist a hypocrite for hating atheists? No, an atheist is not a hypocrite simply for hating Christians.

            The reason I bring up this point is that even an atheist knows that Christians who hate are acting hypocritically. That should tell you something about them (sinful) versus Christianity (righteousness in Jesus Christ), but you just don’t seem capable of looking at this point objectively.

            “You loosely related concepts for Stalin have nothing to do with Atheism.”

            Stalin was an outspoken atheist who had believing scholars driven out of universities and clergymen driven out of churches that he then had demolished. Stalin had these people hauled off to internment camps, or Siberia, or had them shot and buried — explicitly because of his atheistic worldview versus their belief in God. Again, just google [stalin anti religious campaign]. As an atheist, you should be able to at least lend Wikipedia some credibility on this issue.

            And remember, I’m the guy who said it would be wrong (bigotry) to judge atheists and atheism based on the atrocities committed by Stalin. That was my whole point, and you’ve twisted it to fit your narrative.

          41. Christian worldview also allows for the amoral behavior so pretending it doesn’t is selective and cognitive dissonance. I won’t get into a biblical quoting back and forth but the bottom line is there are lots of moral challenges and hypocrisy in what is “directed”. Furthermore, since morals are relative to culture, the application of them can shift. But pretending that Christianity or any faith disallows amoral worldviews is a wishful statement at best (Sects of Christianity willfully mistreat the poor and disadvantaged while others see it as their obligation to assist; prosperity ministries vs. traditional, etc.).

            Atheism is not a religion it is merely the lack of belief in a deity or deities. No more, no less.

            As an Atheist, there is no prescribed worldviews beyond choosing one consciously because it is not a religion with all the prescriptive doctrine. You allude to this as having a causal relationship with Stalin’s choice to exterminate people and other atrocities. I am choosing not to engage in the historical drivers for some of his views because it is though related, not on topic. I have pushed back on your false causal connection several times now.

            My experience of Atheist communities, authors, ideologies, etc. is far more driven by personal responsibility and accountability to doing what is right, kind, tolerance, generous, loving, etc. than I ever found in Christian churches. There was lots of rhetoric to those things but not much in the way of living or being that. I found more of what the Christian churches SAY they value in people that are not Christians. It’s a huge part of what drove me out: hypocrisy and lack of evidence.

            I will not indulge the Stalin narrative any further. You have employed circular discussion. Once you asserted that Stalin’s behavior was due to being an Atheist and attempted to extend that to all Atheists, you crossed the inflammatory fabrication and false causation line. You do this by falsely measuring Atheism against your Christian framework as if they are both religions and calling out what you see as a deficit in Atheism (worldview issue for one) to support the idea that it is causal. You get called on this and then you say you brought it up to illustrate a point that it it’s bigoted in this last post but that is not what you did elsewhere in your posts.

          42. “Christian worldview also allows for the amoral behavior.”

            False.

            “I won’t get into a biblical quoting back and forth.”

            Then you won’t learn the truth.

            “morals are relative to culture”

            Following that model, one must conclude that the atrocities committed by Nazis were moral, relative to their own culturally-defined morality centered around Deutschland, Deutschland über alles. That is, we find their acts to be objectionable based on our morals in this culture, but for them, it was moral. Is this what you believe, or do you want to walk back your nutty assertion that morals are relative to culture?

            “But pretending that Christiantiy or any faith disallows amoral worldviews”

            Christianity calls for a Christian worldview, which condemns amoral behavior as sin.

            “Sects of Christiantiy willfully mistreat the poor and disadvantaged while others see it as their obligation to assist; prosperity ministries vs. traditional, etc.).”

            The preponderance of false beliefs does not impugn the one absolute and objective truth. Any Christians willfully mistreating the poor and disadvantaged are acting in defiance of their Lord. As for the prosperity preachers, they teach unbiblical heresy and, if they don’t repent, they will get their fiery reward.

            “Atheism is not a religion it is merely the lack of belief in a deity or deities. No more, no less.”

            Agreed.

            “You illude to this as havign a causal relationship with Stalin’s choice to exterminate people and other atrocities. I am choosing not to engage in the historical drivers for some of his views becuase it is though related, not on topic.”

            Nice one. And yet you will engage in assuming Christian causal relationships and drivers for the hateful acts you’ve experienced.

            Again, I never sought to judge atheists and atheism by the wicked acts of Stalin. My point was that such a judgment would be wrong, wrong, wrong — and bigoted. Yet you do exactly this when it comes to Christians and Christianity.

            “I have pushed back on your false causal connection several times now.

            All I’ve asked you to do is google the facts about Stalin’s atheist beliefs and how he explicitly formulated national policy around them.

            “My experience of Atheist communities, authors, ideologies, etc. is far more driven by personal responsibility and accountabiltiy to doing what is right, kind, tolerance, generous, loving, etc. than I ever found in Christian churches.”

            That’s unfortunate. You witnessed hypocrisy.

            In my 43 years as an unbeliever, most of it explicitly embracing atheism, I witnessed tons of fellow unbelievers doing what is wrong, unkind, intolerant, stingy, hateful, etc. Can’t say I experienced Christian churches, since I only went into them for weddings.

            “It’s a huge part of what drove me out: hypocrisy and lack of evidience.”

            You lack the evidence because you judge Christianity by the acts of men. If you get over that hurdle, you may just see the truth. This is why God gave us His word in the Bible — so that we may depart from the wicked and false beliefs and behavior of men, whose natural inclination is to serve their own desires rather than God.

            “Once you asserted that Stalin’s behavior was due to being an Atheist and attempted to extend that to all Atheists, you crossed the inflamatory fabrication and false causation line.”

            I never did anything of the sort. I told you that such behavior (“extend that to all Atheists”) constitutes bigotry. If you can’t get this clear distinction through your head, you’re even deeper into delusion than I first suspected.

            “You do this by falsely measuring Atheism against your Christian framework as if they are both religions”

            More straw manning.

            “You get called on this and then you say you brought it up to illustrate a point that it it’s bigotted in this last post but that is not what you did elsewhere in your posts.”

            That’s absurd — my very first post about Stalin was to point out that judging all atheists by the actions of one man would be bigotry. I know you read it, because you brought it up. But just in case you’ve buried it in your mind, here it is again:

            “What if I judged all atheists based on the genocidal atrocities committed by the Stalinist Soviet Union? They were indeed atheists, they encouraged atheism in their society, and many of their policies were explicitly based on that ideology. So do you think it would be fair for me to base my anti-atheist beliefs on the Stalin example?”

            Now read that honestly. Do you think I’m saying it would be fair to judge all atheists by Stalin’s example? Here’s what a said to someone else, four days later:

            “I don’t judge you by the actions of Stalin, even though he was a professed atheist. Nope. That would be wrong.”

          43. LOL… You project your approaches on to me (strawmanning, disrespectful, … ), pull pieces of quotes out of context but respond with related but not relevant to what you copied, avoid the points I made while just denying even when examples are provided. No point in continuing with your disingenuous and innacurate circular approach.

            I know the truth so I will have no issues. I just can’t choke down your version of truth even if I could figure out how to nail that jello to the wall.

            Good luck.

          44. “I know the truth so I will have no issues.”

            How do you discern the truth from error?

            “Good luck.”

            I don’t believe in luck. Do you?

          45. Truth – question already answered.. reread.

            Luck is as likely as your mythology so I am surprised you are not attributing “luck” to “god’s grace” since they are basicly the same thing by another name. Oh wait, are you now going to claim victimhood on behalf of Christianity again becuase you “feel” disrepected? Wait for it… go…

          46. I don’t remember your answer to “How do you discern the truth from error?” Please say again here.

            Do you believe in luck?

          47. Your memory problems are not my concern. Reread if it is that important to you.

            I will not indulge more “what-about-ism” from you.

          48. You seem to have no problem repeating the same refuted arguments and insults against me, but you can’t answer a couple simple and easy questions. Not a strong finish.

          49. I brought up Stalin to show how it would be wrong for me to judge all atheists by his actions.

            Well duh, of course it would be wrong to judge all atheist people by the actions of an Orthodox christian.

          50. Try not to spread lies. Stalin was raised as a Christian, but as an adult he declared his atheism and began persecuting the church. I’m sure all “deconverted” atheists around here would object to being called Christians.

          51. What if I judged all atheists based on the genocidal atrocities committed by the Stalinist Soviet Union?

            Fist you say you don’t discriminate against atheists — then you start comparing us to Stalin. (But not Hitler, even though he was just as evil, probably because he was explicitly Christian.)

            You’re not exactly making a plausible case here.

          52. Another point of fact, Stalin and his core supporters may have all been atheists — but most of the Russian people who followed his lead weren’t — they never gave up Russian Orthodoxy. What did the Russian Orthodox Church do to stop the evil atheist Bolsheviks? Not bloody much, apparently. People who blame atheists for Stalinism always seem to miss that little detail.

    7. Since the author’s premise is about recognition of the cognitive dissonance related to Atheism as an accepted group to discriminate against in the US, I think your comment may misses the point.

      A Google search (and some deeper searching) did not yield a single example of Muslim discrimination against Atheists in the US (admittedly it could have happened and not been recorded but if it were a regular occurrence here, and especially in the extreme forms you assert, there would be something in FBI stats, police stats, news articles and Social Media.

      By contrast the same kind of searching finds numerous examples of Christians hating and discriminating against Atheists including the brash and entitled clips from Christian leaders that the author included. In the US, I have never once experienced hate, hostility or discrimination from Muslims for being a non-believer/ Atheist. I have however been attacked verbally and professionally for being an Atheist by hyper aggressive and entitled Christians. I even had something thrown at me on one occasion.

      I am months shy of 50 and I attended college at an Engineering and Technical school where there were more Muslims in the classes than the average US demographic. Many of them were citizens from Muslim nations. Though they may not have “approved” I never once experienced hostility on campus, in group projects, labs, etc. for my Atheism by Muslims. By contrast, I did get harassed and ridiculed by the Christian group on campus for it. My guess is the author is using the examples that ACTUALLY EXIST HERE IN THE US and Christians tend to be the dominant intolerant religious group.

      1. I’m sorry you’ve experienced anti-atheist hatred coming from Christians. They do that despite their religion, not because of it. We call such people hypocrites.

        1. Note… the only open intolerance I have ever recieved for Atheism is from those claiming to be Christian.

          1. That’s sad, but those people aren’t following the teachings of Jesus Christ. They’re hypocrites.

          2. Brother TC can comfort himself by believing his particular brand of Christianity does not discriminate against atheist but there are plenty of things in the bible that inspire discrimination such as Psalm 14:1 which calls atheists “fools” and in Romans 1 the godless are characterized as wicked, who suppress the truth, on which the wrath of God is being revealed. There are many more Christian passages like these that inspire discrimination towards atheists and all inspired by Jesus.

          3. How? When a Christian reads passages like the ones above it causes the Christian to see the atheist as a fool or as suppressing the truth. (A built in bias) This leads to close mindedness and does not allow the Christian to be humble and admit that they may be wrong about the truth. The orthodox Christian cannot be humble before reality but can show humility only towards its own doctrinal system which is not really humility.

          4. It’s sad that you don’t recognize your bias against the Christian worldview.

            You claimed, “When a Christian reads passages like the ones above it causes the Christian to see [whatever].”

            How do you know what the Christian sees when he or she reads scripture? You’re just making the worst assumption based on your bias alone.

            Then you said, “This leads to close mindedness and does not allow the Christian to [whatever].”

            How do you know how the Christian responds in his or her heart to the word of God? Again, you’re just leaning on your terrible bias against Christians.

            You claimed, “The orthodox Christian cannot be humble before reality.”

            That’s a terribly bigoted remark too.

            Finally, you said, the Christian can’t “admit that they may be wrong about the truth.”

            I’ll give you this one. I cannot turn against the truth of God that I clearly know. The truth is Jesus Christ, and I’m not wrong about that because the Holy Spirit bears witness with my spirit that I’m a child of God. I stake my life on this truth.

            You think admitting that you could be wrong about the truth is a sign of humility (which implies that you think claiming to know the truth is arrogance), so my question to you is, Could you be wrong about all that you’ve claimed?

          5. Yes, it is sad that you cannot recognize your own confirmation bias.

            I spent 40 years in conservative orthodox Christianity and many of those years in conservative seminaries and in the ministry as a pastor, so I know from experience how most Christians think about outsiders. I have heard the sermons, the lectures , the private conversations. The Bible says that the atheist is a “fool” and that he “suppresses the truth” so if you believe the Bible then you see the atheist in this way. Do you believe the atheist is a fool and that he suppresses the truth? I bet you do, So already any conversation is contaminated.

            You said,”I cannot turn against the truth of God that I clearly know. The truth is Jesus Christ, and I’m not wrong about that because the Holy Spirit bears witness with my spirit that I’m a child of God. I stake my life on this truth”- That’s a terribly bigoted and arrogant remark and one that almost every religious person makes whether they are in Mormonism, Islam, Judaism, JW’s, etc. Think about it. Other religious believers are as certain as you about the Holy Spirit bearing witness to them as you are.

            Could I be wrong. Yes, I could be wrong and probably am wrong about many things. I am confident the evidence is against the Christian God existing but I could be wrong and I am willing to admit it if shown convincing evidence.

            This is one of the main problems with conservative religious views is that it needs to have certainty (a certainty addiction) in order to be lived and maintained, a kind of certainty that is not even possible for any human being trying to be honest. Jesus taught “do to others as you would have them do to you” yet you can’t practice this. You want the non-Christian to be open and consider your worldview yet you are not willing to do the same as you admitted above.

            Until you are willing to apply Jesus’ teaching to considering other worldviews I have no interest in talking to you. You have successfully demonstrated an arrogance that is internal to orthodox Christian belief and practice.

          6. “Do you believe the atheist is a fool and that he suppresses the truth?”

            Yes. I believe all of scripture is God-breathed and inerrant.

            Call it “contamination” if you like, but that’s just your bigotry showing.

            You must think it’s “terribly bigoted and arrogant” to believe you know the truth about anything.

            “One that almost every religious person makes whether they are in Mormonism, Islam, Judaism, JW’s, etc. Think about it.”

            I’ve thought deeply about it, and I’ve concluded that the preponderance of false beliefs doesn’t impugn the truth. Now you just think about that.

            “I am confident the evidence is against the Christian God existing but I could be wrong and I am willing to admit it if shown convincing evidence.”

            Were you a materialist before or after you lost your faith?

            “A certainty addiction”

            You’re drowning in relativism.

            “A kind of certainty that is not even possible for any human being trying to be honest”

            Of course, you could be wrong about that — right?

            “Jesus taught ‘do to others as you would have them do to you’ yet you can’t practice this.”

            Now there’s a baseless claim. I’m practicing the golden rule by exposing your error, friend.

            “You want the non-Christian to be open and consider your worldview yet you are not willing to do the same as you admitted above.”

            No, I don’t ask the non-Christian to be open and consider my worldview — I already know they’re suppressing the truth. I want them to hear the gospel, and it’s up to God to change their minds and give them new life.

            Moreover, what I’m doing here is pointing out the error of your relativistic, materialistic worldview.

            “Until you are willing to apply Jesus’ teaching to considering other worldviews.”

            Ack! And you pastored a flock? Shame on you — Jesus never taught His followers to consider other worldviews.

            “I have no interest in talking to you.”

            Now there’s an example of closed-mindedness.

            “You have successfully demonstrated an arrogance.”

            It is not arrogance to know the truth, relativist.

            Do you believe the truth about anything, anything at all, can be known by anyone, anyone at all?

          7. No substance here just name calling. I stand by my comment above. Christianity can’t lead to anything but arrogance as you prove with every comment.

          8. I asked you a question:

            Do you believe the truth about anything, anything at all, can be known by anyone, anyone at all?

          9. Through evidence, logic, reason, and science!

            All certainty is absolute, isn’t it? So, isn’t the term “absolute certainty” redundant?

            Are you certain that God does exist? If so, how do you claim to know this truth with certainty? If not, then in your opinion, what is the probability that God exists?

          10. While I agree with your definition of certainty, I debate many people who will insist that certainty is a spectrum, so I specify. Same with truth. Many unbelievers think truth is relative, so I need to say “absolute, objective truth” to them.

            I use evidence, logic, reason and science too — for lots of things — but I also know that these means cannot give me certain knowledge of truth unless they’re founded on certain knowledge of truth. That is to say, without knowledge of God, I cannot fully trust my senses or reason.

            So I’m a bit surprised that you’re willing to go all-in on your certainty that God doesn’t exist. You don’t think you could be wrong?

            Hard atheists are a fairly rare breed, because it requires blind faith in materialism. No amount of evidence, logic, reason and science can prove that the universe is materialistic unless you’ve explored everything and you possess total knowledge. Do you possess total knowledge? I certainly don’t.

            But I know the One who does possess total knowledge. Reason, logic, consciousness, righteousness, truth — these are God’s attributes — and when it comes to knowing truth, I lean on His wisdom rather than my own understanding.

            Opinions are worthless. Left to my own opinion, I was an atheist for 43 years. But then I was born again, and the Holy Spirit guided me to the truth in Jesus Christ. I see now that I had always known the truth of God, but I suppressed it — even to myself.

          11. BTC: While I agree with your definition of certainty, I debate many people who will insist that certainty is a spectrum, so I specify. Same with truth. Many unbelievers think truth is relative, so I need to say “absolute, objective truth” to them.

            GW: Confidence in your belief is on a spectrum, but certainty is not. Certainty is a dichotomous variable, like pregnancy is. You are either certain or you aren’t. You are either pregnant or you aren’t. A descriptive proposition is either true or it is false.

            BTC: I use evidence, logic, reason and science too — for lots of things — but I also know that these means cannot give me certain knowledge of truth unless they’re founded on certain knowledge of truth. That is to say, without knowledge of God, I cannot fully trust my senses or reason.

            GW: Here you are engaged in question begging. You should use evidence, logic, reason, and science to investigate the question “Does God exist?” And if you do so in a patient way, you will eventually conclude “No.”

            BTC: So I’m a bit surprised that you’re willing to go all-in on your certainty that God doesn’t exist. You don’t think you could be wrong?

            GW: It is only a logical possibility that I could be wrong, but on this issue I am not wrong. You believe that God exists, correct? If so, could you be wrong?

            BTC: Hard atheists are a fairly rare breed, because it requires blind faith in materialism.

            GW: No, it doesn’t. It requires high confidence and competence in evidence, logic, reason and science. I have that high confidence and competence.

            BTC: No amount of evidence, logic, reason and science can prove that the universe is materialistic unless you’ve explored everything and you possess total knowledge. Do you possess total knowledge? I certainly don’t.

            GW: I don’t know everything, but I don’t need to know everything in order to know that God does not exist. When I was younger, I thought like you do now — I thought that I would have to explore every corner of the universe in order to draw a conclusion on God’s existence. But I learned that such is not necessary.

            BTC: But I know the One who does possess total knowledge.

            GW: So you do claim certainty (knowledge) that God exists! I am certain that you are mistaken.

            BTC: Reason, logic, consciousness, righteousness, truth — these are God’s attributes — and when it comes to knowing truth, I lean on His wisdom rather than my own understanding.

            GW: Again you are question begging. You are putting the cart before the horse. Your horses need to be evidence, logic, reason and science. In the end they won’t pull the cart of God. God does not exist!

            BTC: Opinions are worthless. Left to my own opinion, I was an atheist for 43 years. But then I was born again, and the Holy Spirit guided me to the truth in Jesus Christ. I see now that I had always known the truth of God, but I suppressed it — even to myself.

            GW: Opinions are not worthless; they are valuable. True opinions are worth a lot more than false opinions. How do you find out if an opinion is true? You use evidence, logic, reason and science. There are no better methods for this purpose.

            GW: What were you before you were an atheist? My experience is nearly opposite to yours. I was born an atheist and remained so for about three years, then I became a theist for fifteen years, then an agnostic for one year, and then an atheist for about 49 years. You weren’t “born again,” but you changed your worldview. The Holy Spirit does not exist and Jesus is dead. God doesn’t exist either.

            GW: Do you wish to debate the existence of God? I’m game.

          12. Yeah, let’s debate “Does God Exist?” on live video. Do you have a preferred platform? We’ll need a moderator and some ground rules, of course.

          13. Let’s do it right here, moderate ourselves, and use usual debate rules. Avoid uncivil remarks. Stay relevant. Take turns.

            You go first. Start by presenting your definition of “God,” then I will present my definition, and then we’ll try to reach a compromise definition and go from there.

          14. The true and living triune God of scripture is the precondition for the intelligibility of all human experience and reason.

          15. God is the true and living triune savior of scripture, Jesus Christ, who is truth and the precondition for the intelligibility of all human experience and reason.

          16. That’s better, but it has too many flaws.
            1) You can’t say that “God is the true…” because that is begging the question. You must say “God is the hypothetical…”
            2) Is God one person or a team of three persons? Please clarify.
            3) Savior of whom and in what respect?
            4) Which scripture? There are hundreds.
            5) Are you suggesting that Jesus and God are the same person? If so, then let’s just stick with one name — God.
            6) A person is not truth. A person can tell the truth, but a person is not truth itself.
            7) A person is also not a precondition. Having a particular belief may be a precondition for intelligibility of something.
            8) I am using reason to evaluate your definition without assuming or knowing at this point whether God exists.

            Please try again. Maybe start with this: “God is a hypothetical supernatural intelligent agent or person who…” then add his main traits, properties, or features.

          17. Knowing the truth of God, I can discern truth from error. This is a fact and not begging the question.

            God is one being and comprised of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

            Jesus became flesh and died to save anyone who will repent and believe in Him.

            There is only one holy scripture, and it is the Bible of 66 books.

            Jesus Christ is God. Thus, I will use these terms interchangeably, and scripture allows for this.

            Jesus Christ is the truth, and He is a person — God, who was made flesh and entered His own creation as a man to save His beloved.

            God, being the creator of everything, is the very precondition for your reasoning capacity.

            You are using reason without being able to account for its provenance. You just take it on blind faith.

            “Maybe start with this: ‘God is a hypothetical supernatural intelligent agent or person who…'”

            Why in the world would I start with your false and flawed definition? You asked for my definition, and I gave it to you.

            Do you believe in evolution?

          18. BTC: Knowing the truth of God, I can discern truth from error. This is a fact and not begging the question.

            GW: You are still begging the question. In a debate you are not permitted to assume your conclusion from the outset. We are just in the stage of defining our basic terms.

            BTC: God is one being and comprised of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

            GW: That is a contradiction. One being cannot be comprised of three beings. One does not equal three. Now, what you could do is think of the Trinity as a team of three beings — Father (God himself), Son (Jesus himself), and the Holy Spirit. That would make sense.

            BTC: Jesus became flesh and died to save anyone who will repent and believe in Him.

            GW: That is not a part of a definition of God unless you add to the first part something like this: “…who sent Jesus, his son, to the Earth to save anyone who will repent and believe in Him.”

            BTC: There is only one holy scripture, and it is the Bible of 66 books.

            GW: That is a claim, but I don’t see how you can make that part of a definition of God.

            BTC: Jesus Christ is God. Thus, I will use these terms interchangeably, and scripture allows for this.

            GW: I can’t agree to that. We must use one name for God. “And Jesus said unto him, “Why callest thou me good? There is none good but one, that is, God.” Mark 10:18. There are many verses like these which show that God and Jesus were considered as two separate persons by the NT writers.

            BTC: Jesus Christ is the truth, and He is a person — God, who was made flesh and entered His own creation as a man to save His beloved.

            GW: Yes, Jesus was a person, but he wasn’t the truth. Now you can claim that Jesus spoke the truth, but you can’t claim that Jesus is truth. According to the NT, God and Jesus are two separate persons. God sent Jesus to the Earth to represent him.

            BTC: God, being the creator of everything, is the very precondition for your reasoning capacity.

            GW: That first part can be part of your definition, but the second part is a separate claim.

            BTC: You are using reason without being able to account for its provenance. You just take it on blind faith.

            GW: That claim is irrelevant to formulating a definition of God.

            GW: “Maybe start with this: ‘God is a hypothetical supernatural intelligent agent or person who…'”

            BTC: Why in the world would I start with your false and flawed definition? You asked for my definition, and I gave it to you.

            GW: Your definition is flawed so far, so I can’t accept it. Let me try to combine the elements you have presented to begin a useful working definition: “God is a hypothetical supernatural intelligent agent or person who created the universe and who is the chief of a three-person team known as the Trinity which includes not only himself and the Holy Spirit but also Jesus, his son, whom God sent to the Earth to save anyone who will repent and believe in Him.” That seems like a good start. What do you think?

          19. You said, “One being cannot be comprised of three beings.”

            I didn’t say God is comprised of three beings. I said God is comprised of Father, Son and Holy Spirit, who are persons. There is no comparison between the triune nature of God and anything in the world.

            You quoted Mark 10:18 without knowing that this is one example of Jesus pointing out that He’s God.

            You said, “Now you can claim that Jesus spoke the truth, but you can’t claim that Jesus is truth.”

            Of course I can claim that Jesus Christ is the truth. “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (Jhn 14:6). I claim only what Jesus claimed. And not only is Jesus *the* truth, but He is *the* exclusive way to salvation, as the second clause says.

            Re: begging the question,

            The existence of the triune God of scripture is not my conclusion based on my reasoning through the evidence, but rather my epistemic basis, revealed to me by the Holy Spirit who indwells me as a believer and guides me to the truth of God’s word. I know God first and foremost, and in Him I find the foundation of my ability to use reason and interpret evidence based on my sense perception.

            Lest you accuse me of intellectual flabbiness, my assertion is exactly what Descartes found in his Meditations:

            “Thus I see plainly that the certainty and truth of all knowledge [scientiae] depends uniquely on my awareness of the true God, to such an extent that I was incapable of perfect knowledge [perfecte scire] about anything else until I became aware of him” (Med. 5, AT 7:71).

            God is your epistemic basis too — and your moral basis — but you don’t acknowledge Him. By denying God, you’re untethered from the truth, set adrift in a quagmire of conjecture and probabilistic judgment. And in your darkened state, you’re compelled to borrow from the Christian worldview in order to place judgment against God and attempt to rule Him out of existence.

            The Bible doesn’t call you a fool because you’re stupid — the Bible calls you a fool because you know better, but you suppress the truth in unrighteousness, even keeping the truth from yourself. Long before psychoanalysis came on the scene with all its godless speculation, the Bible showed us what denial is all about. Acknowledging God’s existence would not allow for your presupposition of autonomy, and thus it would put you under righteous judgment for your many and continuing crimes.

            God gives you the freedom to deny Him, sin and die. I’m not here to open your eyes, because I don’t have that power. Only Jesus Christ saves, and you must be born again to see the truth. I’m only here to expose your error and share the gospel.

            Given everything I’ve explained to you here, I find your continued assertion that God is hypothetical to be very revealing.

            And to be clear, I don’t care about your personal definition of God.

            Do you believe in evolution?

          20. BTC: You said, “One being cannot be comprised of three beings.”
            I didn’t say God is comprised of three beings. I said God is comprised of Father, Son and Holy Spirit, who are persons. There is no comparison between the triune nature of God and anything in the world.

            GW: But God is a person, and yet you say God is comprised of three persons. That implies that 1=3, which it doesn’t. That is impossible! The only way out of this problem is to conclude that the Trinity is a team of three persons – the Father (God himself), the Son (Jesus himself), and the Holy Spirit.

            BTC: You quoted Mark 10:18 without knowing that this is one example of Jesus pointing out that He’s God.

            GW: I disagree. It is one of many examples of Jesus implying that he is a different person from God, his “father.”

            BTC: You said, “Now you can claim that Jesus spoke the truth, but you can’t claim that Jesus is truth.”
            Of course I can claim that Jesus Christ is the truth. “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (Jhn 14:6). I claim only what Jesus claimed. And not only is Jesus *the* truth, but He is *the* exclusive way to salvation, as the second clause says.

            GW: Here Jesus was just speaking in a figurative way, not in a literal way. He was claiming that he always tells the truth and that people should believe him.

            BTC: Re: begging the question,

            The existence of the triune God of scripture is not my conclusion based on my reasoning through the evidence, but rather my epistemic basis, revealed to me by the Holy Spirit who indwells me as a believer and guides me to the truth of God’s word. I know God first and foremost, and in Him I find the foundation of my ability to use reason and interpret evidence based on my sense perception.

            GW: Well, you are still begging the question. Of course, “God exists” is YOUR conclusion, regardless of how you reached it. You may claim that the Holy Spirit told you that God exists, or you may claim that you read the Christian scripture which says that God exists, or you may have reached your conclusion in some other way. But at the start of a debate you must assume that God is a hypothetical person. Then during the course of the debate, it is your job to present your evidence, reasons, and/or arguments for coming to your conclusion that God is real rather than just hypothetical. That’s how proper debates work.

            BTC: Lest you accuse me of intellectual flabbiness, my assertion is exactly what Descartes found in his Meditations:
            “Thus I see plainly that the certainty and truth of all knowledge [scientiae] depends uniquely on my awareness of the true God, to such an extent that I was incapable of perfect knowledge [perfecte scire] about anything else until I became aware of him” (Med. 5, AT 7:71).

            GW: Here Descartes is making a claim about God, but he is not presenting a definition of “God.”

            BTC: God is your epistemic basis too — and your moral basis — but you don’t acknowledge Him. By denying God, you’re untethered from the truth, set adrift in a quagmire of conjecture and probabilistic judgment. And in your darkened state, you’re compelled to borrow from the Christian worldview in order to place judgment against God and attempt to rule Him out of existence.

            GW: These are your claims about God and me, but you aren’t presenting a definition here.

            BTC: The Bible doesn’t call you a fool because you’re stupid — the Bible calls you a fool because you know better, but you suppress the truth in unrighteousness, even keeping the truth from yourself. Long before psychoanalysis came on the scene with all its godless speculation, the Bible showed us what denial is all about. Acknowledging God’s existence would not allow for your presupposition of autonomy, and thus it would put you under righteous judgment for your many and continuing crimes.

            GW: Now you are implying that I am a fool. That is an irrelevant and uncivil remark. We can’t have a debate if you are going to go in that direction. Also, here you are talking about the consequences of denial of God’s existence, not about the definition of “God.” Try to get back on track.

            BTC: God gives you the freedom to deny Him, sin and die. I’m not here to open your eyes, because I don’t have that power. Only Jesus Christ saves, and you must be born again to see the truth. I’m only here to expose your error and share the gospel.

            GW: That also has nothing to do with defining “God.” I thought you were here to have a proper debate on the existence of God.

            BTC: Given everything I’ve explained to you here, I find your continued assertion that God is hypothetical to be very revealing.

            GW: At the start of a debate, God must be considered by both parties to be hypothetical. Then it is your job to prove that he is not just hypothetical, but real, i.e. that God exists. And then it is my job to prove that he is not just hypothetical, but imaginary or not real, i.e. that God does not exist. To use a sports analogy, we start with a level playing field, and then we actually play the game. Part of the level playing field is to assume at the start that God is a hypothetical, that we will not make uncivil remarks, that we will take turns, and that we will attempt to answer each others’ questions and challenges.

            BTC: And to be clear, I don’t care about your personal definition of God.

            GW: I care about our definitions of God. I’m trying to assist you in clarifying your definition. Let’s try a different angle on the problem of definition. Many theologians, philosophers, and lay persons have included the following characteristics, traits, or properties in the definition of “God.” Tell me Yes or No if you believe each would be a feature of God, if he existed:
            unique
            spiritual, i.e. not made of energy-matter
            person or intelligent agent
            necessarily existing
            everlasting
            everywhere-present
            all-knowing
            all-powerful
            fully free
            self-sufficient
            all-loving
            perfectly moral
            supremely authoritative
            created our universe and any others which might exist
            sometimes intervenes in our universe, especially in human affairs
            wants us humans to believe and/or behave in certain ways in our current lives for which he might reward us in an afterlife
            wants us not to believe and/or behave in other ways for which he might punish us in an afterlife.

          21. I never agreed to your peculiar debate format.

            I’m not going to argue for the existence of God by compromising on a definition of God, presuming a materialistic universe and then comparing interpretations of the natural evidence. That’s just not how anyone receives true knowledge of God — in fact, that’s how one deliberately stays ignorant of God.

            Rather, I will argue for the existence of the living God by explaining the truth about Him according to scripture and then demonstrating the impossibility of the contrary. This process necessarily includes the demolition of your worldview, which you will find highly objectionable, if not offensive.

            Take it or leave it.

            Do you believe in evolution?

          22. BTC: I never agreed to your peculiar debate format.

            GW: Peculiar? It’s a pretty standard format. What part do you disagree with?

            BTC: I’m not going to argue for the existence of God by compromising on a definition of God, presuming a materialistic universe and then comparing interpretations of the natural evidence. That’s just not how anyone receives true knowledge of God — in fact, that’s how one deliberately stays ignorant of God.

            GW: If you give an adequate definition, you may not need to compromise, but so far your attempts at definition have been very poor. Is this the first time that you have ever been asked to present a concise, clear, specific, coherent, and comprehensive definition of “God”? One of the things I listed last time as a possible feature of God was “spiritual, i.e. not made of energy-matter” but you didn’t respond to that. You are welcome to present how you arrived at the conclusion “God exists” after we finish the definition and begin to present our cases.

            BTC: Rather, I will argue for the existence of the living God by explaining the truth about Him according to scripture and then demonstrating the impossibility of the contrary. This process necessarily includes the demolition of your worldview, which you will find highly objectionable, if not offensive.

            GW: That should be interesting. but for now please provide an adequate definition of “God” — a concise, clear, specific, coherent, and comprehensive definition. Otherwise, I will think you don’t know what you are talking about.

            GW: If you can’t provide an adequate definition, then just tell me Yes or No if you believe each of the following would be a feature of God, if he existed:
            1. unique, i.e. one of a kind, different from anything else.
            2. spiritual, i.e. not made of energy-matter
            3. person or intelligent agent
            4. necessarily existing, i.e. cannot not exist, must exist
            5. everlasting, i.e. eternal
            6. everywhere-present
            7. all-knowing, i.e. knows everything anyone could know.
            8. all-powerful, i.e. is able to do anything which is logically possible.
            9. fully free, i.e. unlimited, unconstrained, unrestrained
            10. self-sufficient, i.e. independent, able to provide for oneself
            11. all-loving
            12. perfectly moral
            13. supremely authoritative
            14. created our universe and any others which might exist
            15. sometimes intervenes in our universe, especially in human affairs
            16. wants us humans to believe and/or behave in certain ways in our current lives for which he might reward us in an afterlife
            17. wants us not to believe and/or behave in other ways for which he might punish us in an afterlife.
            These are all properties which other religious people have attributed to God. With which do you agree and disagree?

          23. When you are cooperative with me, then I will become cooperative with you. But I’ve asked you numerous questions to which you have given no answers or very poor answers. And so I am not inclined to answer your question about evolution at this time.

            If we ever get into the debate on the existence of God and if you can show the relevance of evolution to our debate, then I will be happy to answer your question. But we are not even close to getting to that point.

            If you can’t provide an adequate definition of “God,” then just tell me Yes or No if you believe each of the following would be a feature of God, if he existed:
            1. unique, i.e. one of a kind, different from anything else.
            2. spiritual, i.e. not made of energy-matter
            3. person or intelligent agent
            4. necessarily existing, i.e. cannot not exist, must exist
            5. everlasting, i.e. eternal
            6. everywhere-present
            7. all-knowing, i.e. knows everything anyone could know.
            8. all-powerful, i.e. is able to do anything which is logically possible.
            9. fully free, i.e. unlimited, unconstrained, unrestrained
            10. self-sufficient, i.e. independent, able to provide for oneself
            11. all-loving
            12. perfectly moral
            13. supremely authoritative
            14. created our universe and any others which might exist
            15. sometimes intervenes in our universe, especially in human affairs
            16. wants us humans to believe and/or behave in certain ways in our current lives for which he might reward us in an afterlife
            17. wants us not to believe and/or behave in other ways for which he might punish us in an afterlife.
            These are all properties which other religious people have attributed to God. With which do you agree and disagree?

          24. Not according to your peculiar format. Nothing in the debate format conforms to your demands for a compromised definition.

            I’ve read, watched and listened to literally hundreds of theological debates, including a couple dozen on the existence of God, and none of them involve a preliminary stage of agreeing on a definition.

            Formal debates — which I assume you were talking about, since we’ve been arguing about the existence of God since the beginning — start with opening statements, then move to rebuttals and cross examination.

          25. BTC: Not according to your peculiar format. Nothing in the debate format conforms to your demands for a compromised definition.

            GW: Peculiar? It’s not peculiar. I didn’t “demand” a compromised definition. I suggested that we might devise a sound definition of “God” that we could both work with. But as I said last time, a compromise might not be necessary if you could come up with just an adequate definition on your own. That hasn’t happened, despite several tries. I am trying to help you with this.

            BTC: I’ve read, watched and listened to literally hundreds of theological debates, including a couple dozen on the existence of God, and none of them involve a preliminary stage of agreeing on a definition.

            GW: If they didn’t, then that was probably a flaw with them. How can you have a debate between two people who don’t know what it is they are debating about? What is this thing called “God” which you wish to prove or defend? Please try to be clear about it. Please provide an adequate definition. If you can’t, then let me help you out. Try to answer those questions I asked. They require simple Yes or No answers at this point. If you say Yes to an element, then we include that in the definition. If you say No to an element, then we discuss if further to see if we can modify it to make it acceptable. It requires a back-and-forth discussion.

            BTC: Formal debates — which I assume you were talking about, since we’ve been arguing about the existence of God since the beginning — start with opening statements, then move to rebuttals and cross examination.

            GW: I was thinking of something similar but much less formal than that. I was thinking of just taking turns, going back and forth, with shorter statements. After we settle on a definition of “God,” you would present your case FOR the existence of God, we would go many rounds on that, then I would present my case AGAINST the existence of God, and we would go many rounds on that, and then finally we would summarize our agreements and disagreements. How does that sound?

          26. If you don’t want a formal debate, then I’m happy just going back and forth.

            You asked for my definition of God, which I gave, and which you found to be “poor.” So to satisfy your methodological need for a definition, I’ll go with a modified Webster’s 1828 definition: “The Supreme Being; YHWH; the eternal and infinite spirit, the creator, and the sovereign of the universe; the triune God of one being comprised of three persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.”

            Now, let’s move on with our informal argument.

            Do you believe in evolution?

          27. BTC: If you don’t want a formal debate, then I’m happy just going back and forth.

            GW: That would be fine with me.

            CTC: You asked for my definition of God, which I gave, and which you found to be “poor.” So to satisfy your methodological need for a definition, I’ll go with a modified Webster’s 1828 definition: “The Supreme Being; YHWH; the eternal and infinite spirit, the creator, and the sovereign of the universe; the triune God of one being comprised of three persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.”

            GW: Now were making some progress, but that is still not a sound definition. It needs some refinement.
            1. If God is a supreme being, then he is supreme in what properties? Surely, you don’t want to consider him supreme in evil.
            2. Since we are going to use the term “God,” then we can dispense with “YHWH.” That would just be redundant.
            3. I understand “eternal.” That’s good; let’s retain it.
            4. I understand “spirit,” but I don’t understand “infinite spirit.” Infinite in what properties?
            5. The “creator.” I understand that. Let’s retain it.
            6. “the sovereign of the universe.” I understand that. It is the same as “supremely authoritative.” Let’s keep that.
            7. The last part about the Trinity doesn’t work. “One being” refers to one person, and one person cannot be comprised of three persons. Suppose we just add “who is one person in the Trinity”? That would work.

            CTC: Now, let’s move on with our informal argument.

            GW: Not yet. We haven’t agreed to a working definition of “God.” Let’s keep working at it.

          28. You reasoned, “If God is a supreme being, then he is supreme in what properties? Surely, you don’t want to consider him supreme in evil.”

            God is indeed sovereign over all evil.

            You asserted, with no warrant, “Since we are going to use the term ‘God,’ then we can dispense with ‘YHWH.’ That would just be redundant.”

            It’s specific, refining, and not redundant.

            You asked, of God’s Spirit, “Infinite in what properties?”

            Infinite in capacity; unbounded and free.

            I understand that the triune nature of God doesn’t “work” for you, but that’s an essential part of my definition. Deal with it.

            You said, “We haven’t agreed to a working definition of ‘God.’ Let’s keep working at it.”

            No.

            Do you believe in evolution? This is your last chance to answer, and if you don’t, I’m blocking you as a nag.

          29. BTC: You reasoned, “If God is a supreme being, then he is supreme in what properties? Surely, you don’t want to consider him supreme in evil.” God is indeed sovereign over all evil.

            GW: I don’t know what you mean by that. Do you mean that God is supremely evil, like Satan supposedly is? Please provide clarification.

            BTC: You asserted, with no warrant, “Since we are going to use the term ‘God,’ then we can dispense with ‘YHWH.’ That would just be redundant.” It’s specific, refining, and not redundant.

            GW: It is specific, but it is not refining and it is redundant. If “God” and “YHWH” are names for the same thing, then we only need one name. Let’s go with “God.” For example, if “Brother TC” and “Brother CT” are names for the same thing, then the names are redundant. We just need “Brother TC.”

            BTC: You asked, of God’s Spirit, “Infinite in what properties?” Infinite in capacity; unbounded and free.

            GW: Sounds like you mean “fully free” and “all-powerful.” I can agree to those. What about infinitely good, moral, or loving?

            BTC: I understand that the triune nature of God doesn’t “work” for you, but that’s an essential part of my definition. Deal with it.

            GW: It is an impossible concept since 1 does not equal 3. But I would agree with the simple idea that God is one person in the Trinity.

            BTC: You said, “We haven’t agreed to a working definition of ‘God.’ Let’s keep working at it.” No.

            GW: When we are so close, I’m not ready to give up on a sound working definition yet. We are almost there. Let’s cooperate.

          30. We are so close to settling on a definition of “God” so we can start our debate. When you’ve thought through the final issues I raised in my last post we can finish the task. Just let me know when you are ready.

            For now I’m sticking to my assertions: 1) God does not exist. 2) There are no good evidences, reasons, or arguments to show that God exists. 3) Any debate on the existence of God should begin by both parties coming to an agreement on the definition of “God.”

          31. Gary Whittenberger – you have my uttmost respect for you patience and ability to shut down the meandering nonsense of Brother TC. Having attempted to have more than one debate with him, he obfuscates, conjurs hybrid definitions, generates strawmen in lieu of responses and misdirects any time he has no substantive reply. Your approach was consistent and an honest effort to address the topics without confirmation bias. Sadly, Brother TC has been nothing short of a Troll in most interactions I’ve read. Hats off to you for staying on point and an attempt to use consistent debate techniques.

          32. Thank you very much for your compliment. You hit the nail on the head in describing his tactics. It is our job to draw back the curtain and reveal the evader and deceiver.

            it is not hard to understand why young people and the “undecided” are turned off by Christianity in the 21st century, given all the scandals and the inability of Christians to defend their beliefs rationally.

        2. It’s kinda hard to pretend “They do that despite their religion, not because of it,” when they explicitly use Bible verses and appeals to Christian doctrine to incite justify their hate. Generally speaking, if someone is bashing atheists, then, pretty much by definition, it’s because of their religion.

    8. Okay, can you list all the religions that aren’t as overtly anti-atheist as either Christianity or Islam?

      I’ve been in various Pagan groups for many years, and I’ve never heard anyone in those groups bashing atheists. Would you have a problem with atheists singling out Pagans for credit on this?

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