Atheist Defense Network

This group is devoted to ending anti-atheist bigotry by (1) finding it and labeling it bigotry, (2) mobilizing atheists to express opposition, and (3) educating others about the costs of anti-atheist bigotry.” [But note, they are so rational and open minded that you have to be a member to comment on their blog site.]  😉  

And how do they go about defending atheists? By attacking the beliefs of Christians, and calling them “irrational” and “bigots.”  Here, some of their words, not mine:  We bother because “the stench of religious dogma can be countered, in some small measure, by the fresh air of reason.”  “WILL NOT let you “believers” contaminate the entire world with your stupid, unreasoning, blind, dogmas and continue to lead us into war after war against those of other dogmas.”  [Wait, what? The freakin commies and Muslim extremists are the only people I know that are starting wars. I thought you morons were supposed to be the “rationalists.” But I digress.]

More from our poor, abused atheists:   “Religion is not a naturalistic worldview, as it is based on superstition, deities and other irrational objects.”  [Not sure, but I don’t think attacking a person’s religious beliefs is in Mr. Carnegies book, “How to win friends and influence people.”  No WONDER people hate ’em!] 

“Religion reinforces lazy thinking by lecturing us that we already have all the answers, and thus crushing many a young mind’s wonder and imagination.”  [Oh, gee, calling people names and making up shit about them, didn’t that go out in what, like the eighth grade?]

“Religion is irrational as it is not based on any form of evidence whatsover, and is therefore anti-scientific.”  [Ummm. So is the irrational belief that everything on earth, everything about life, and the universe is so perfectly ordered just by chance. And so is the belief that life spontaneously evolved from the primordial ooze eons ago.]

“Religion spreads fear, ignorance and prejudice.”  [Nice. NOW I see what the problem is. You are a stupid pig who goes around insulting people. Perhaps if you would not be such utter pricks going around insulting people, you wouldn’t need your little “Atheist Defense Network”, eh? Problem solved.]

 

35 responses to “Atheist Defense Network

  1. Pingback: Another Atheist Defense of Christianity

  2. Well said. By the way, I was also greatly amused by your back-&-forth with Alonzo Fyfe. The guy’s such a drama queen, he’s beyond parody. I’ve had a laugh at some of his greatest hits in the past:

    http://rightcal.blogspot.com/2008/06/atheist-ethicist-just-another.html

    http://rightcal.blogspot.com/2008/10/public-dialogue-vs-culture-of-grievance.html

  3. Religion is often irrational and people of faith often don’t apply real methods of critical thinking towards their faith. Why would they if they’re satisfied with it? However, if you spend long and hard enough questioning every bit of “truth” you get from an old book, you will arrive at a very different place. As an atheist I’d like to say that being irrational sometimes is not the worst thing in the world. When it comes to making governmental policy, that’s where atheists become very annoyed.

  4. That is what I would call a dumbass blanket statement, saying nothing in too many words. It’s no different than me saying “Atheism is often irrational and atheists often don’t apply real methods of critical thinking towards their lack of faith.” Setting up some unknown non-specific bogeyman and then shooting him down is easy. Actually getting specific and discussing a certain person, or a certain position, is not so easy.

    That said, I have no problem “questioning” things. I am by nature/personality-type a skeptic. But I am also against blind opposition to certain conclusions that could never, ever be over-come by the most persuasive logic and facts.

    I’m seen a few hit and run atheists come on this blog, not seeking an actual dialogue, bur rather seeking to make a point and run. Welcome, freind, if you come to have a dialogue. If you merely want to make attacks, please get lost. 🙂

  5. “That is what I would call a dumbass blanket statement, saying nothing in too many words. It’s no different than me saying “Atheism is often irrational and atheists often don’t apply real methods of critical thinking towards their lack of faith.”

    If you’d like, we can discuss mainstream religions and pick a part the areas that may be irrational – invisible beings, people coming back from the dead, dinosaurs walking with man, multiple deities, gods with multiple arms, virgins in heaven, etc. Where should we start? Let’s start by defining our terms.

    Irrational: not consistent with or using reason;

    So which mainstream religion should we cover first. I’m willing point out to you how religion is OFTEN irrational…

  6. I’m only prepared to discuss Christianity. The early followers of Jesus were “martyred” (killed for their faith). They were often given a choice; stop preaching that Jesus was the son of God, and that he died and rose again. They refused to stop.

    I can easily see that some would be willing to die for something they erroneously thought was true. Hell, Muslim fanatics do it all the time. They are just deluded into thinking something is so, and so they do it. It is human nature that the simple minded can be manipulated into doing almost anything.

    What does not square with my experience of human nature, however, is for people to willingly die for something that they KNOW to be UNTRUE. What’s the upside? They know it is untrue, yet they continue to say it is true, even to the point of being killed. You can’t say it is so the church can gain filthy lucre–such gains would mean nothing to them when they are dead.

    The followers of Jesus were all simple, uneducated men. He lived among them, and then died. Suddenly, his followers were transformed into a bunch of fanatics who changed the world. Love it or hate it, but Christianity has been one of if not the most important influence on all of western civilization.

    Did those simple, uneducated fishermen know something that you don’t know?

    • He didn’t just live among them and die. He conquered death, resurrected…and was seen by many. That is why their faith could not be shaken. 2000+ years later, people still believe in Jesus.

  7. Well, I want to confront the topic of irrationality in religion. If you only want to speak of Christianity, that’s fine. However it falls in the prism of “religion”.

    Did fisherman know something I don’t know? We don’t have enough evidence about the existence of Jesus to even seriously answer that question. If these followers of Jesus existed, they may have known things I don’t know. That is not relevant to the argument, “religion is often irrational”. Only one supposed scholar of that time cites the existence of Jesus and there is increasing doubt (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Josephus_on_Jesus). However no others mention the possible existence of this supernatural being.

    Of course, talking about the potential existence of Jesus skips the matter of mythological connections to the story of Jesus as a whole. Do you know how many other mythological characters in history have a similar narrative as “Jesus”? Mirthra, Horus, etc. All of which existed before the proposed life of Jesus.

    “I can easily see that some would be willing to die for something they erroneously thought was true. Hell, Muslim fanatics do it all the time. ”

    How do you define “erroneously”? How do you know Islam is wrong while Christianity is right? How are muslims are erroneous in their faith? How did they end up with a faith that is wrong but you ended up with one that is right?

    Again, I want to get at this issue of “rational” thought when dealing with religion.

  8. Arguing with an atheist about God and Religion gives you the same feeling as if you slammed your head against a brick wall. Both endeavors make your head hurt and you haven’t accomplished a thing except get a headache.

    Mike

    • I think we’d all love and appreciate a good debate here. I’ve made some points in my posts that no one has responded to so far. You should give it a shot.

  9. Fair enough, Estevan, I’ll retract the words “erroneously thought was true” because that was not germane to my point. My point was that the modern Muslim fanatics blow themselves up over something that they believe is true.

    The early Christian disciples who been present at the crucifiction of Jesus would have known whether he “rose from the dead” or not. If he didn’t, they would not go around lying about it in order to get themselves killed. Those “Christians” who were martyred without having seen whether or not Jesus alive after the crucifiction would be in the same position as modern day Muslim extremists. They would be killed for their faith, not based on what they were eyewitnesses to themselves.

    Your comment that Josephus’ reference to Jesus as being “increasingly in doubt” about the genuiness of the reference is not true. It has been accepted for centuries. There is some doubt about whether there was some elaboration/addition, but the main fact that he was referenced is not in doubt.

    Further, what did you expect? A bunch of poor fisherman claim that they saw some dude after the Romans killed him dead and good. The powers that be, the Romans and the Jews, put forth the story that someone stole his body and that his followers were lying about it. Think what few historians of the day would travel hundreds of miles on foot to look for what was not there? What would they report? That the stone has been rolled away, and his body isn’t there?! (hmmm, I should write a song about that…)

    What we do know is that there has been an unbroken chain, from those first followers to the present, with oral histories and early written reports, all saying the same thing. There is no serious discussion among rational people that he did not even exist. To believe such an absurd position would put one in the category of being impossible to believe anything that one could not see and touch oneself. You wouldn’t even believe that you were born from a woman, cuz you weren’t there to witness it.

    Most rational people would take the position that “something happened.” Jesus may have been a wise man, a scholar, “a righteous dude” as the lady said in “Ferris Buehller’s day off.” If you are in the camp of being so closed-minded that you refuse to even accept that he was ever alive, then you are not rational, imho.

    I practiced law for years. Our entire legal system is based upon the testimony of eyewitnesses. In our every day life, in fact, we make decisions on what others tell us. Rational people base their decisions on the testimony of alleged eyewitnesses, and of surrounding circumstantial evidence.

    So I would like to ask you, what is your position in regards to Jesus Christ? Was he a real person? Was he a wise man? Was he invented out of whole cloth by a bunch of unlearned fishermen?

    I have infinite patience to discuss topics that interest me. I used to be an atheist, so I know where you are coming from. Unfortunately, I’ve found too often that atheists do not want to discuss topics logically. So far you’ve proven me wrong, so let’s keep at it!

  10. “What we do know is that there has been an unbroken chain, from those first followers to the present, with oral histories and early written reports, all saying the same thing.”

    This is probably a slightly tangential subject: debating the history of a person named Jesus. I think we can all acknowledge that we are dealing with oral histories and ambiguous dates. For some people, this isn’t enough certainty. I’m not too concerned to debate if a person named Jesus existed at all. I do doubt his magical powers. I’d like to stick why I doubt this person’s story.

    “There is no serious discussion among rational people that he did not even exist. ”

    So this may be my fault. I came right out of the bat and said people of faith often lack critical thinking. That’s not an effective way to debate. Your statement there is just as bad. It would be just as if I said, “only a dummy doesn’t believe in UFOs”. The fact is, there are lots of discussions about whether a person named Jesus existed and to what degree this Jesus person is anything like what is mentioned in the bible. I would argue many of these discussions are rational and here’s why:

    1. There are earlier accounts of mythical characters who died, were reborn, had disciples and were of virgin births, etc.
    2. The claim regarding Jesus is so astounding and stunning that some people need more evidence to believe it’s credible. Why aren’t there more historians citing him?
    3. The whole idea of Jesus is based on the concept of a god. That’s the crux here. Although you only want to talk about Christianity. I’m trying to make the argument that religion is often irrational. We need debate this “God” (your Christian God in your case) and why you believe it exists.

    Do you believe your Christian Bible is infallible?

  11. Come on, Estevan, some things ARE so obvious that rational people do not debate them. “I think, therefore I am” has been done before. So has whether or not Jesus actually was a historical person. It’s not like “only a dummy does not believe in UFOs”; it’s more like only a dummy does not believe that Julius Ceasar existed. Nice try, but you can’t substitute apples for oranges.

    You ask a lot of questions. Not sure yet if you are truly asking or if you are trying to stifle debate. No offense, but some atheists are like that.

    Do I believe that the Bible is infallible? Yes, but… Duh. If an infallible God wanted men to write down the truth, it would be true. And I believe that God is all knowing. Does that mean that it is impossible that some errors may not have crept in with men copying and re-copying the original text. No. Does that mean that some portions are not as easy to understand? No. But give me the original text and I’ll claim that it is infallible, yup.

    The problem with your vague argument that “religion is often irrational” is that it is a red herring. It is as though you argued “some women are often irrational.” That does not advance your argument that THIS particular woman about this topic is being irrational. She is not responsible for what other women do.

    no offense, I’m having a fine time discussing this. If we don’t think, and challenge our thinking, we never will improve.

  12. Well, you’re right. There’s no way for me to prove here that following a mainstream religion involves cognitive dissonance and irrational thought for most followers. That’s probably something we’d need lots of statistics on. I do personally believe the act of “faith” requires a suspension of belief, lack of critical thinking and the process of cognitive dissonance. Here’s why:

    “What we do know is that there has been an unbroken chain, from those first followers to the present, with oral histories and early written reports, all saying the same thing. ”

    You’re suggesting that the oral tradition the Christian faith followed by the bible is enough reason to believe it’s true. However you’re not commenting on other religions. If that’s enough to call something true then Islam is true. Hinduism is true. If you don’t believe so, how come? Why would oral tradition and “early reports” validate Christianity and not any other faith?

    “Come on, Estephan, some things ARE so obvious that rational people do not debate them. ”

    You keep saying this without commenting on the information I gave you. What about mythological parallels?

    Horus for example – http://www.religioustolerance.org/chr_jcpa5.htm
    Dionysus – http://www.religioustolerance.org/chr_jcpa2.htm
    Mithra – http://www.religioustolerance.org/chr_jcpa3.htm

    Why do I bring this up? Because you either ignore it, believe it and don’t care or you believe it and do care. There’s nothing “irrational” about this information and there’s nothing wrong with why this would cause someone to doubt the validity of Jesus. This is one reason some people doubt the validity of Jesus. I don’t think there’s anything absurd about it. Lot’s of rational people debate this.

    For example: What if all these citations were about Mohammed and Islam? Would you nod in agreement and say is this evident against the validity of Islam?

    “Do I believe that the Bible is infallible? Yes, but… Duh… Does that mean that it is impossible that some errors may not have crept in with men copying and re-copying the original text.”

    That statement of yours sounds confusing. How can the bible be infallible AND also have room for error? I’m pretty sure those two things contradict. Explain?

  13. Sorry, you were caught in moderation due to the links. I’ll respond later–gotta run.

  14. This is unrelated to our debate but I’m getting a clearer picture about your stance on certain issues from your website. I’m not sure what to make of your link to “Nation of Cowards” though.

    I won’t put you in the exact same camp as the blogger(s) of that site but I think only certain types of people would dare link to a website that says “Is it racist to prove blacks are lying criminals” and “Pro white”.

    Am I debating someone who not only believes in “God” but believes other things too?

  15. Don’t read anything into anything written by anybody but me. Those in my blogroll were placed in long ago and some I do not even visit any more.

    As for the “mythological parallels”, I do not see them as a problem. First, I am reminded of science fiction stories from years ago that have come true or may soon come true. I remember books about men on the moon before we landed there. I remember Maxwell Smart talking into his shoe, and Mr. Jetson flying around on a personal jet. I remember a movie where a guy on an island cloned a bunch of half human, half animals. Jusaissic Park may soon be a reality as scientists believe that they may soon be able to clone wooley mammoths. The fact that people dreamed of these stories long before they take place does not prove false those events when they come to pass.

    Second, I would suggest that if an all-knowing God were planning on coming to earth with a plan for salvation for his creatures, it would be odd if he did not do little things to prepare the way. In fact, the Old Testament contains many prophesies about the coming events. The O.T. was written at various times but all of them pre-date Jesus’ birth by centuries. The O.T. foretold that the savior would be born of a virgin in Bethlehem, a decendent of Abraham, Isaac and David; that he would be called out of Egypt; that he would be depised and rejected, especially by the Jews; that he would be hated without reason; that he would be betrayed for thirty pieces of silver; and that they would pierce his hands and feet, among many others.

    How can the Bible be infallible and yet contain errors? I never said that. I believe that the original text, as written down by each particular author, was infallible/contained no errors. However, each particular text has been copied and re-copied. We no longer have any original text. We KNOW that some minor errors have crept in–although none of the known errors amount to a hill of beans. Some others are thought to be additions by later authors. Those are not necessarily “errors” but intentional additions; even though those making the additions had good intentions, those additions were not in the original text and thus may be viewed as “errors”.

    What do you know about “the act of faith”? Just trying to get a little background. Ever been to church? There is no right or wrong answer, just trying to find out a little about you.

    Finally, nothing you say about Muhammed or Muslims would affect my opinion of them. They are evil, pedophiles, female genital mutilators, murderers, and disgusting sub-humans. I consider those truths to be self-evident to any rational human being. Sorry, I do not always have the time or inclination to prove every last little conclusion. I can’t prove that the sky is blue, either. But if you go around saying it ain’t, or that Mooselimbs are not seriously f#cked up, then you lose credibility with me.

  16. I’m not sure if follow some of your points there. Are you saying God created mythologies as a precursor to the Bible? Maybe that’s not what you’re saying. I’m not sure.

    In my previous comment: “What if all these citations were about Mohammed and Islam?” I did not bring that up to talk about Muslims. I have no concern about that. You could replace it with Mormanism or Hinduism or the beliefs of Jehovah’s Witnesses. My point with that statement is this: why are you so trusting of the “oral histories and early written reports” of Christianity but not any other religion? Is that all it takes to be a religion “real”?

    What causes you to assert that Christianity is true while other religions with old texts, oral traditions and claimed prophecies are not true? Are you aware of the claimed prophecies of Hinduism or any other religion?

    Also, you should be aware that there are lots of apologetics on the topic of the early mythology relating to Jesus. Do you believe these people are irrational for having that debate? You suggested no rational person debates this.

    Do you believe God is moral?

    Also, thanks for your time.

  17. Oh wait and there’s your question, “What do you know about “the act of faith”? Just trying to get a little background. Ever been to church? There is no right or wrong answer, just trying to find out a little about you.”

    I have been to church but only sometimes or for some periods as a child. Other than that, there isn’t much experience on my part. I’ve never been convinced even as a child. I’m not really sure why. Briefly I was scared of a “God”. Then I wasn’t. Additionally I’ve spent some time studying the cultural, psychological and anthropological purpose and evolution of “religions”. It’s a topic that interests me. I do know and understand the importance of religion in our human history but I do not believe in magic, spirits or gods.

  18. About the early mythologies, I’m simply not the man to a those questions as I have no knowledge and no opinion. My one possible explanation offered was that the Old Testament, which was written centuries before Jesus was even born, contain various prophecy that talk about a virgin giving birth to God’s son, and that he would be rejected, etc. Perhaps those mythologies sprang from the Old Testament itself, or from oral histories of it.

    You and I seem to be approaching Christianity from different perspectives. You feel as though you can’t be sure that Jesus died and was resurrected until you learn everything about every other religion, and debunk every possible red herring. You remind me of a dog biting furiously at one flea who then gets distracted by another, bites furiously at it, and then at another, and so on. And who then gets run over because he was not looking at the big picture.

    I, on the otherhand, am more like one who stumbled upon the truth while not looking for it, and while in fact trying to avoid it. I could have cared less about religion in general and Christianity in particular. Before the age of twenty I had not graced the inside of a church more than a handful of times. And never of my own volition.

    YES, I do believe that it is irrational to debate the existence of Jesus. I do not fault those who studied up on the matter in order to argue against those who claim that he never existed. It does not surprise me, because humans will go to any length to avoid the terrible knowledge that there is a God who will some day judge them for their thoughts and actions. I understand completely that life would be so much simpler if it were not true.But God won’t let some individuals get away with living such a lie, and I’m one of them.

    Yes, I believe that God is moral, with qualifications. God’s idea of what is moral is not always equal to human’s idea of moral. I’m speaking of the God spoken of in the Bible, not some other character.

  19. There probably isn’t some clear way to define a belief in a religion as irrational but this is why I would define it as irrational: Often times a person believes their religion is infallible and true as fact. Not just true metaphorically or symbolically but true as a matter of fact and backed up by specious evidence. This is what I would label as irrational because many who may hold this belief never hold their belief up to scrutiny. For many people of faith, it is against the rules to question it or it’s dangerous to question their religion (in their opinion). So their belief never goes challenged and because it’s unchallenged, it’s assumed to be “factual”.

    You’re unfortunately doing that now. Maybe you don’t care at all about the mythological comparisons but the fact that you would consider your faith “true” and yet willingly ignore any information on the contrary suggests you don’t have a solid foundation of information that tells you your faith is “true”.

    Clearly you’re faith is just that — faith. I don’t believe at all you’re basing your belief on concrete facts. I think you’re simply engaging in an act of faith.

    Your analogy about the dog? I mean that’s a convenient analogy but we’re talking about finding facts and truth. Sometimes you do have to look at information, evidence and seek knowledge. If you assume you’ve found all the knowledge you need one full sweep (your bible), then you’re ignoring everything else around you. I question how much of “big picture” you have when you don’t know much outside your specific religion. That’s not “big” in my opinion.

    Again, I suspect you’re focused on faith. Faith doesn’t require knowing everything or even seeking further information. I would agree there’s nothing wrong with having faith. I would argue though that it’s not the same as having real knowledge or even knowing real truths. I have faith in some things. I would never argue my belief in those things is based on solid evidence or information because it isn’t. However, I don’t have “faith” in math when I’m doing arithmetic…

    “Perhaps those mythologies sprang from the Old Testament itself, or from oral histories of it.”
    No, they existed before the old testament.

    I’m going to ask this one question again:
    What causes you to assert that Christianity is true while other religions with old texts, oral traditions and claimed prophecies are not true?

    If you’re using certain kinds of evidence to decide if something is true, then does that mean any other religion with old text and oral traditions are equally true to you?

    I want to make sure you understand my question. If you measure Christianity on that “evidence” why not judge other religions using the same methods? Is there other evidence about Christianity that convinces you it’s more true than others?

    Do you think you’d be Christian if you grew up in India?

    • Since I don’t really have a dog in this hunt, I’m just going to point out one thing about Religions. Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism and the Taoist Religions are ancient Religions having been in existence for thousands of years, whereas Islam-ism is relatively new, only being around since 600 AD or so. You gotta wonder what was going through Mohammad’s mind when he came up with this religion. Perhaps he was shunned by Christians and Jews when he was a young man.( Good thing they didn’t have guns back then or we might have had our first serial killer.)

      ***Again, I suspect you’re focused on faith. Faith doesn’t require knowing everything or even seeking further information. I would agree there’s nothing wrong with having faith. I would argue though that it’s not the same as having real knowledge or even knowing real truths. I have faith in some things. I would never argue my belief in those things is based on solid evidence or information because it isn’t. However, I don’t have “faith” in math when I’m doing arithmetic…***

      Knowledge is a beautiful thing, but can lead to much trouble depending on the knowledge you’re seeking. Remember what happened to Adam and Eve because they sought out knowledge against God’s wishes. There’s a lot to be said for faith.

      Mike

      • “Knowledge is a beautiful thing, but can lead to much trouble depending on the knowledge you’re seeking. Remember what happened to Adam and Eve because they sought out knowledge against God’s wishes. There’s a lot to be said for faith.”

        I don’t believe in the Adam and Eve myth so I can’t say that stops me. As a story though I disagree with it’s message. Knowledge is sometimes hard and painful. Knowledge can harm emotionally. However I would argue knowledge only leads to physical harm on the basis of our choices as a society or from specific individuals. My point being, the Adam and Eve story is overly-simplistic.

        How do you decide when to ignore information? How do you filter out “bad” information and “good” information?

        “You gotta wonder what was going through Mohammad’s mind when he came up with this religion. Perhaps he was shunned by Christians and Jews when he was a young man.”

        It’s never crossed my mind. I wonder what’s going through people’s minds when they believe in fantasies and live their lives out of fear of them.

  20. If you want to talk about fantasies, we could talk about the fantasy the Progressive Left has been foisting on the American public for decades, but that has nothing to do with religion, or does it? 😉

    Another fantasy is Globull warming.

    As far as” fantasies” to believe in, I’ll take Religion hands down over any other fantasy.

    I use my common sense to filter what information I think is good or bad.

    Mike

    • The wonderful thing about arguing about politics is that there’s more concrete evidence to to look at and analyze. We can look at statistics, trends, numbers, reports and so on. I think debates in that realm have the potential to lead to real results.

      However, myths, spirits, undead humans and interpretations all predicated on the fear of the death… that’s something else entirely.

      I would suggest you use the side of your brain that analyzes political theory to analyze the validity of your “faith”. Also realize that faith and facts are often two different things.

      • I personally don’t think there’s anything wrong with having faith in something like “life after death” as espoused in the Bible. It beats the alternative…that when you take the “dirt nap”, you’re just worm food and possibly your bones might be found in another million years by some advanced civilization, archeological team from another planet.

        Faith is an important part of a lot of people’s lives. Without it, their lives can become filled with despair and hopelessness because of real or perceived physical or psychological problems, or real life day to day living. To say that having faith in something, whether it’s faith in an afterlife in Heaven or faith that the Cubs will finally make it back to the World Series is wrong or that you’re some kind of nut, is wrongheaded thinking in my opinion.

        Facts are great things…we use them to bolster our arguments when we write articles for our blogs and when we make comments either for or against what another writer says. But a life lived on facts alone is a lonely and bitter life indeed. 😉 Have a little faith Brother, you’d be surprised what a benefit it can bring to your life.

        Mike

  21. “Faith is an important part of a lot of people’s lives. Without it, their lives can become filled with despair and hopelessness because of real or perceived physical or psychological problems, or real life day to day living. To say that having faith in something, whether it’s faith in an afterlife in Heaven or faith that the Cubs will finally make it back to the World Series is wrong or that you’re some kind of nut, is wrongheaded thinking in my opinion.”

    There’s a few assertions there that you’re making and ideas you bring up that I can comment on.

    “Faith is an important part of a lot of people’s lives. Without it, their lives can become filled with despair and hopelessness because of real or perceived physical or psychological problems, or real life day to day living.”

    For some people, living in reality isn’t filled with psychological despair. I know it’s assumed people without faith live in despair. People are sad for a wide variety of reasons in spite or despite any matter of faith.

    If you’re suggesting faith is just important to some people because it’s the only way they can cope, then yes. I agree. It is the only way some people cope with life. Coping mechanisms should never be confused with evidence, facts or turned into governing policy. Hopefully you would agree with that.

    “To say that having faith in something, whether it’s faith in an afterlife in Heaven or faith that the Cubs will finally make it back to the World Series is wrong or that you’re some kind of nut, is wrongheaded thinking in my opinion.”

    Here’s why it’s nutty. People think their “faith” is the same as fact. They defend their faith as being on even terms with reality despite lack of evidence. They refuse to gain knowledge that makes them doubt their faith but still argue their that coping mechanism should be forced upon others. That’s why it’s nutty. Having a personal faith is not nutty. Making others abide by your faith because you live in fear of it is a bit nutty.

    “I personally don’t think there’s anything wrong with having faith in something like ‘life after death’ as espoused in the Bible. It beats the alternative…that when you take the ‘dirt nap'”

    It beats the alternative doesn’t mean something is any less or more true. Do you agree with that? There’s a difference between making an emotional appeal and an intelligent one. It makes sense that someone might think the idea of heaven is more appealing than decomposing. Sure. What does that have to do understanding facts, science or pursuing knowledge? If we all lived on the policy of avoiding ideas that hurt us, we would not get very far as a society. We probably would not be as advanced in medicine, technology, politics — who knows.

    If I can offer an analogy you might favor. Let’s look at a broad conservative position. Conservatives argue that the government can’t always afford to finance social programs that support the needs of its populace. It’s a hard fact sometimes. Some liberals may take the position of avoiding that fact. Does avoiding it make it right? Is avoiding evidence contrary to the bible right? When is it okay to avoid information, knowledge and evidence? Only when talking about religion?

    “But a life lived on facts alone is a lonely and bitter life indeed. ”

    No, it’s not. I firmly believe that most people who are very religious do not have the emotional strength to let go so yes, for them a life without religion is “lonely”. For others though, it’s perfectly fine.

  22. Estevan, face facts about yourself. If I had a polaroid of Jesus in the grave, and a video of him rising from the dead, you would not believe it. You don’t want to believe it.

    You glom onto the allegedly similar stories predating Jesus’ life as though that proves your point, end of story. If you really believe that, why do keep coming here to discuss what is a done deal in your mind?

    How about having an open mind yourself? I’ll tell you how to check out whether Christianity is true or not. First, check your skepticism at the door for a week or so. Then, read the New Testament, beginning with the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Just read them, without constantly trying to disprove them or laugh at them or find supposed factual inaccuracies. Once you’ve read through those four books, then give me your thoughts. Now that would be interesting…

  23. Is that it? I ask you some provocative questions such as why is Christianity more true than any other religion based on your “evidence” and you have nothing else to say? Just, “read the bible”?

    I used to believe in god and was raised Catholic more or less. I didn’t have a solid foundation though. Understanding the bible is worthwhile however and I need to read the entire thing. There’s nothing about that that offends me. Which version of the bible do you recommend? Can I recommend a book? Maybe “God Delusion” from Richard Dawkins? I actually should read that myself.

    “Estevan, face facts about yourself. If I had a polaroid of Jesus in the grave, and a video of him rising from the dead, you would not believe it. You don’t want to believe it.”

    Then I would believe it. I’d believe in Jesus AND zombies both. Hell, I’d believe it with even less evidence than that. My stance here isn’t that I’m against Christianity or religion. I like the subjects. I’m bothered by what I see as irrational thought defining our societies and policies. I’m bothered by a refusal to ask religion tough questions because people fear “hell”.

    So you want to end the debate on, “go read the bible”. You don’t want to ask me questions or answer any of the other questions I asked you?

    “That said, I have no problem ‘questioning’ things. I am by nature/personality-type a skeptic. But I am also against blind opposition to certain conclusions that could never, ever be over-come by the most persuasive logic and facts.”

    I’m still extremely interested in your pervasive logic and facts if you got ’em.

  24. I see your “provacative questions” for what they are: a diversion, a red herring. I’m not avoiding your question, I’m redirecting it. If–IF–you are serious in your quest to find out about Christianity, then I am letting you know how to go about it. To some extent Christianity is experiential. If God does not open your eyes to see the truth, then you won’t see it. If that sounds too “irrational” to you, then that is your problem, not mine.

    Allow me to make a poor, crude analogy. Imagine if you and I were blind, and neither of us knew yet the joys of being with a woman. Once I experienced it, it would be like me trying to explain it to you. “It’s the greatest thing in the world, even better than beer and football!” And you are skeptical, “Yeah, SURE it is, ya crackpot!” And I would be like, “well, yer gonna have to trust me on this one. And if you want to know the truth, here’s what you have to do: go try it.”

    The easiest way you go try Christianity is to read the Bible, beginning in the New Testament. With an open mind. Even as you ask God to open your mind to the truth that is (supposedly) contained therein. I’m not saying you must believe it hook, line and sinker. Just be open to it. THEN let’s talk. I recommend “The New International Version” only because it to me is the easiest to read in common English.

  25. “I see your ‘provacative questions’ for what they are: a diversion, a red herring. I’m not avoiding your question, I’m redirecting it. If–IF–you are serious in your quest to find out about Christianity, then I am letting you know how to go about it. To some extent Christianity is experiential. If God does not open your eyes to see the truth, then you won’t see it. If that sounds too “irrational” to you, then that is your problem, not mine.”

    That’s funny. A question about how is Christianity more valid than any other religion is a “diversion” to you. A question about experiencing religion in another region of the world is a distraction to you. You think those additional questions take away from the main topic? We were slowly but surely tackling the initial topic. Just be honest and admit those questions made you uncomfortable. They were not diversions. You know this.

    If I threw up my arms and said to you, “I’m not answering those questions. You’re trying to trick me. Go read book X.” You’d think that’s pretty disappointing. Especially if I went through the trouble to tell you I’m lawyer.

    Religion is experiential. I agree. There’s a lot to understand about the experience especially when it comes to the emotional potency. I’ve felt euphoria, fear and have cried tears in church. So what? How does that explain the stories of the bible? How does the emotional experience discern fact from fiction? Since it sounds like you’re giving up on this debate then I’m going to make one last point about your “truth”. Your just talking about the experience of community. The experience of emotional profundity. The experience that is attached to ritual, communal activity and emotional appeals made through metaphor, song, repetition. That’s it.

    “If God does not open your eyes to see the truth, then you won’t see it. If that sounds too ‘irrational’ to you, then that is your problem, not mine.”

    No, it’s everyone’s problem. The fact that people believe they receive “truths” from a supernatural being that threatens to send them to hell is everyone’s problem. How? 911 was everyone’s problem. Religious extremism is everyone’s problem. Policy based on mythologies is everyone’s problem. Fundamentalist ignorance deciding educational policy is everyone’s problem.

    And yes, I do think you’re being irrational.

    Your analogy isn’t too great. First of all this blind person could go “be with” a woman and they could still reach a different conclusion. In the end, as much as you (and I) might like women, it doesn’t mean its truly the greatest thing in the world for some people. It doesn’t make it fact.

    Here’s an analogy that you may not relate to but I’ll throw it out there anyway:

    There’s a work of art out there. A painting so visceral, intense and detailed that I always leave with a sense of understanding or euphoria. It gives me goosebumps. It’s profound. It portrays it’s subject matter in the most beautiful way imaginable. I think it’s message is universal and immense. It almost makes me cry. I could tell others to go see it for themselves to experience it. They may. They may not. They may receive the same response as I do. They may not. What does that mean? Is the artwork any less beautiful or meaningful to me? Are they not “getting it” if they don’t have the same response as I do?

    Maybe.

    One thing is clear though — the painting is still just a painting. It isn’t divine. My sense of euphoria isn’t necessarily reproducible in others. The meaning I gather, connect with and create isn’t necessarily the meaning of the painting at all. When I walk away from it, I may choose to build my life around this piece of work and the feelings it conjures. That’s my choice but the meaning I infer from it doesn’t make it real.

    I don’t confuse my heart with my mind though and I don’t confuse emotion with facts.

    That’s the problem with many religious people. They can’t just appreciate the emotional strength of their faith. They can’t accept that it can still impact people even if it isn’t real, historically accurate or based on literal truths. They build a false foundation and prop it up as factual when it isn’t because they fear losing it. In my opinion, religion should never be confused with reality. It’s power and meaning is much stronger without.

    Religion has the capacity to hold profound meaning… whether true or not. I don’t abandon all hope when i understand a painting is just a painting and a song is just a song. There’s no reason to abandon hope when you realize religion is just story, ritual and culture. You’ll still wake up in the morning, just the same.

  26. Dude, you miss my point. I’ll type slowly so that you can grasp what I am saying: Christianity must in part be experienced, as does falling in love and sky diving. You are like the guy interested in debating sky diving who won’t even get in the plane. Instead, you want to talk about every other religion, anything else. I don’t care about those other religions. Hell, for all I know or care, they might be valid. I don’t want to discuss them now. I’m trying to focus your attention, like a lazer beam, and you want to be like a scatter brained child, flitting from one topic to another. I’m not trying to “win” a silly debate, I’m trying to help you find out for yourself if Christianity is true. The best way to do that is to read the source.

    “If I threw up my arms and said to you, “I’m not answering those questions. You’re trying to trick me. Go read book X.” You’d think that’s pretty disappointing. Especially if I went through the trouble to tell you I’m lawyer.” WRONG. If I was working on a complicated matter, such as fixing a car or programming my computer, I’d LOVE IT if you sent to me the repair manual. In fact I wouldn’t want to hear it from you, I’d want to read it for myself. I’d want the truth, not your version of the truth. But that’s just me.

    Don’t take my “being with a woman” analogy too far. It is only meant that you can’t describe everything to a person about an experience. But you are like the blind man who refuses to get married and experience the joys of marriage because it might not turn out to be the greatest thing ever for you. If you are as rational and interested in finding out the truth as you claim, what is the harm in doing as I said? Boo! The boogeyman gonna get you? You are a lot less “open minded” than you think you are. You already have your mind made up and you refuse to consider any alternative, the exact same complaint that you have against Christians.

    Heck, even if I was still a heathen I’d want to know about the greatest source for good in all of human history. “Hmmmm, how did these uneducated jewish fishermen come up with the religion that changed the course of western civilization, and made our civilization demonstrably better than any other civilization, ever?!! Pretty weird, I better read up on it!

    Go ahead, I dare you. It couldn’t take more than an hour or two to read it. At least then you would know a little bit about that religion that you so confidently condemn.

  27. I’m with you John, but I can understand Estevan’s trepidation. I have an Aunt and Uncle who have been missionaries since the early sixties. They’re nice folks and I love them to death and know that they’ve been doing good things for people in Red China and other third world countries for their entire adult lives. They built schools and taught in the schools they built. They taught sanitation and how to raise food. And they brought the Word of God to them. All in all, they did what they believe in. But unfortunately, they can be hypocritical when it comes to talking about Religion. They’re right and you’re wrong if you don’t agree 100% with them and question any of the tenets they’re “preaching” about.

    Mike

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