Tag: Atheism (home)

If only God would give me some clear sign! Like making a large deposit in my name at a Swiss bank.

permalink source: Woody Allen, "Without Feathers"
tags: Apologetics, Atheism, Skepticism

But reason has also discerned that all previous cultures were founded by and on gods or belief in gods. Only if the new regimes are enormous successes, able to rival the creative genius and splendor of other cultures, could reason's rational foundings be equal or superior to the kinds of foundings that reason knows were made elsewhere. But such equality or superiority is highly questionable; therefore reason recognizes its own inadequacy. There must be religion, and reason cannot found religions.

permalink source: Allan Bloom, Closing of the American Mind 196
tags: Apologetics, Atheism, Logic, Philosophy, Reading

"There is no God," the foolish saith, But none, "There is no sorrow." And nature oft the cry of faith In bitter need will borrow: Eyes which the preacher could not school, By wayside graves are raised; And lips say, "God be pitiful," Who ne'er said, "God be praised."

permalink source: Elizabeth Barrett Browning
tags: Apologetics, Atheism

Gravitation cannot be blamed for people falling in love.

permalink source: Albert Einstein
tags: Apologetics, Atheism, Reductionism

A Russian astronaut and a Russian brain surgeon were once discussing religion. The brain surgeon was a Christian but the astronaut was not. The astronaut said, "I've been out in space many times but I've never seen God or angels." And the brain surgeon said, "And I've operated on many clever brains but I've never seen a single thought."

permalink source: Jostein Gaardner, Sophie's World 230
tags: Apologetics, Atheism, Universe

According to Pascal, there are two main pseudo-solutions to the meaninglessness of life without God: diversion and indifference.

permalink source: Pascal
tags: Apologetics, Atheism

The article cited new research saying that 91% of American women and 85% of men pray--but perhaps most amazing was the finding that one out of five atheists and agnostics prays each day!

permalink source: Lee Strobel, Inside the Mind of Unchurched Harry and Mary p. 46
tags: Apologetics, Atheism, Prayer, Hope

A 24 year-old Prefect of Police, Raoul Rigault, renamed the Boulevard Saint-Michel the Boulevard Michel and wanted to issue a warrant for God's arrest. "Whom do you serve?" he asked one of the many priests he arrested. "God," replied the accused. "Where does he live?" "He lives everywhere." Rigault turned to his scribe, "Write down: Serves God, a vagrant."

permalink source: Leonard Sweet, SoulTsunami 58
tags: Atheism, Bitterness

The essential amorality of all atheist doctrines is often hidden from us by an irrelevant personal argument. We see that many articulate secularists are well-meaning and law-abiding men; we see them go into righteous indignation over injustice and often devote their lives to good works. So we conclude that "he can't be wrong whose life is in the right" -- that their philosophies are just as good guides to action as Christianity. What we don't see is that they are not acting on their philosophies. They are acting, out of habit or sentiment, on an inherited Christian ethic which they still take for granted though they have rejected the creed from which it sprang. Their children will inherit some what less of it.

permalink source: Joy Davidman, Smoke on the Mountain [1955]
tags: Apologetics, Atheism, Logic, Morality

That you cannot have Christian principles without Christ is becoming increasingly clear [in the world today], because their validity as principles depends on Christ's authority.

permalink source: Dorothy L. Sayers (1893-1957)
tags: Atheism, Relativism

For man to turn his back on God is to turn towards death; it involves ultimately the renunciation of every aspect of life. To deny God, man must ultimately deny that there is any law or reality. The full implications of this were seen in the [19th] century by two profound thinkers, one a Christian and the other a non-Christian. [Friedrich W.] Nietzsche recognized fully that every atheist is an unwilling believer to the extent that he has any element of justice or order in his life, to the very extent that he is even alive and enjoys life. In his earlier writings, Nietzsche first attempted the creation of another set of standards and values, affirming life for a time, until he concluded that he could not affirm life itself nor give it any meaning, any value, apart from God. Thus Nietzsche's ultimate counsel was suicide; only then, [he asserted] can we truly deny God: and in his own life, this brilliant thinker -- one of the clearest in his description of modern Christianity and the contemporary issue -- did in effect commit a kind of psychic suicide. The same concept was powerfully developed by [Fyodor M.] Dostoyevski, particularly in The Possessed, or, more literally, the Demon-Possessed. Kirilov, a thoroughly Nietzschean character, is very much concerned with denying God, asserting that he himself is God and that man does not need God. But at every point, Kirilov finds that no standard or structure in reality can be affirmed without ultimately asserting God, that no value can be asserted without being ultimately de rived from the Triune God. As a result, Kirilov committed suicide as the only apparently practical way of denying God and affirming himself -- for to be alive was to affirm this ontological deity in some fashion.

permalink source: Rousas J. Rushdoony, Intellectual Schizophrenia
tags: Atheism, Suicide

In the twentieth century, the secularists, still living off the spiritual capital of Christianity, often pretended to chide Christians for having invented the term "secularist," a term which, they said, was devoid of meaning. Their leaders knew very well, however, that secularism, like any other parasite, derives its sustenance from the object on which it feeds, and so they were rather pleased when milquetoast Christians timidly offered, as a definition of secularism, "living as though God did not exist." What Christians should have called it was, rather, "a contemptibly fraudulent way of living on the cheap, by reaping the maximum fruits of Christian effort, while contributing the minimum effort of your own." When secularists accused Christians of "living in the past," the Christians ought to have retaliated by pointing out that secularists were "living off the past." By the time they got around to doing so, however, the majority of secularists had become morally incapable of seeing the point.

permalink source: James McGregor, From a Christian Ghetto
tags: Atheism, Culture

Opening scene from "Contact" is a good illustration of the insignificance of man in the universe

permalink source: Anonymous
tags: Atheism, Physics

…you know the argument: "After Auschwitz there can be no God." But as Victor Frankel points out, the person who wrote that declaration had never been to Auschwitz. In fact, more people deepened or discovered faith while in Auschwitz than lost it.

permalink source: Os Guiness in Just Thinking Fall 2001
tags: Apologetics, Atheism, Evil

An atheist complained to a friend, "Christians have their special holidays, such as Christmas and Easter. Jews celebrate their holidays, such as Passover and Yom Kippur. Muslims have their holidays, such as The Holiday of Charity and The Commemoration of Abraham's Sacrifice. Every religion has its holidays. But we atheists," he said, "have no recognized national holidays. It's unfair discrimination, I say!" His friend replied, "Well, why don't you celebrate April first?"

permalink source: Anonymous
tags: Atheism, Holidays

Although the 18th century writer Voltaire is widely recognized as an opponent of religion, calling Christianity an "infamy" to be destroyed, even he found the influence of faith to be useful. He wrote, "I want my attorney, my tailor, my servants, even my wife to believe in God. . . then I shall be robbed and cuckolded less often." Myers tells of how Voltaire once silenced a discussion on atheism until he had excused his servants, lest in forfeiting their faith they might lose their morality.

permalink source: Ravi Zacharias "Slice of Infinity" email
tags: Atheism, Morality

Ravi Zacharias, in "Questions I Would Like to Ask God," writes: I have often referenced the quote by the talk show host Larry King, in his response to a particular question: "If you could select any one person across all of history to interview, who would it be?" Mr. King's answer was that he would like to interview Jesus Christ. When the questioner followed with, "And what would you like to ask him?" King replied, "I would like to ask him if he was indeed virgin-born. The answer to that question would define history for me." Ravi Zacharias then writes that when he requested permission through a common friend to quote Larry King, King sent word saying, "And tell him I was not being facetious."

permalink source: Ravi Zacharias, "Questions I Would Like to Ask God," Just Thinking Winter (1998)
tags: Atheism, Questions, Christmas

On a visit to Leningrad some years ago I consulted a map to find out where I was, but I could not make it out. From where I stood, I could see several enormous churches, yet there was no trace of them on my map. When finally an interpreter came to help me, he said: “We don’t show churches on our maps.” Contradicting him, I pointed to one that was very clearly marked. “That is a museum,” he said, “not what we call a ‘living church.’ It is only the ‘living churches’ we don’t show.” It then occurred to me that this was not the first time I had been given a map which failed to show many things I could see right in front of my eyes. All through school and university I had been given maps of life and knowledge on which there was hardly a trace of many of the things that I most cared about and that seemed to me to be of the greatest possible importance to the conduct of my life. I remembered that for many years my perplexity had been complete; and no interpreter had come along to help me. It remained complete until I ceased to suspect the sanity of my perceptions and began, instead, to suspect the soundness of the maps.

permalink source: E.F. Schumacher, A Guide For the Perplexed, page 1
tags: Atheism, College

"…it seems to me that there is no use proving the existence of God any more than there is any use in proving the existence of love. I'm really sure that love exists, despite the lack of proof, and God IS love…." this quote is from an email sent to SAR list on 3/11/2003 his website is www.openchristianity.com he and I are on radically different wavelengths in general, but this was interesting

permalink source: Jim Burklo, a campus pastor at Stanford
tags: Apologetics, Atheism

Musician Michael Card said in an interview: Again and again in China I talked to people who had never heard of Christianity, never heard of Jesus, never heard a single word from the Bible. Yet through nature and their God-given conscience, many believed in God. Not only did they believe God existed, they had derived some understanding about His loving character because he provided food, water, and a beautiful world. One old woman told me, "I've known him for years. I just didn't know his name."

permalink source: Michael Card, from interview in Discipleship Journal (Nov/Dec 2002), p. 72
tags: Apologetics, Atheism, God, Faith

“An egg that came from no bird is no more natural than a bird that has always existed.”

permalink source: C. S. Lewis
tags: Apologetics, Atheism

Bob Morey, who has an apologetics ministry in Southern California, was once asked by an aggressive atheist to prove the Bible's truthfulness. Bob responded, "You prove the Bible to me every time you open your mouth." Shocked, she asked how this could be true. He asked her, "Do you fear God?" She answered, "No." "Well," he said, "you just proved that Romans 3:18 is true. 'There is no fear of God before their eyes.'" He proceeded, "Is the gospel foolishness to you?" "Yes!" He explained, "Well, you just proved 1 Corinthians 1:18. 'The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing.'" He continued, "Do you want your own way instead of living according to God's way?" She retorted, "I don't want God's way—I'll do as I please!" He responded, "Well, you just proved Isaiah 53:6. 'Each of us has turned to his own way.' Every time you open your mouth you confirm the Bible by saying what it said you would say. Thank you for making me a stronger Christian." Even unbelief confirms the truth of what we believe! Citation:

permalink source: Bill White, Paramount, California, from a personal conversation with Bob Morey in September 2001
tags: Atheism, Bible

[Carl] Sagan was fascinated by the phenomenon that educated adults, with the wonders of science manifest all around them, could cling to beliefs based on the unverifiable testimony of observers dead for 2000 years. "You're so smart, why do you believe in God?" he once exclaimed to [cleric Joan Brown] Campbell. She found this a surprising question from someone who had no trouble accepting the existence of black holes, which no one has ever observed. "You're so smart, why don't you believe in God?" she answered.... Sagan never wavered in his agnosticism. "There was no deathbed conversion," [his wife Ann] Druyan says. "No appeals to God, no hope for an afterlife, no pretending that he and I, who had been inseparable for 20 years, were not saying goodbye forever." Didn't he want to believe? she was asked. "Carl never wanted to believe," she replies fiercely. "He wanted to know."

permalink source: Jerry Adler, Newsweek (3-31-97), 64-65
tags: Atheism, Faith

"I want atheism to be true and am made uneasy by the fact that some of the most intelligent and well-informed people I know are religious believers. It isn't just that I don't believe in God and, naturally hope that I'm right in my belief. It's that I hope that there is no God! I don't want there to be a God; I don't want the universe to be like that."

permalink source: Thomas Nagel, The Last Word as quoted by J. Budziszewski in First Things, June/July 2002, No. 124, pg. 28
tags: Apologetics, Atheism

A 20TH CENTURY MYTH by Dr. Jaafar Sheikh Idris One of the myths of our century, a myth that is believed by almost all atheists as well as many theists, is that rationality and science are on the side of unbelief. As a corollary of this myth, unbelief is taken to be the normal position, the position that demands no mental effort because it needs no justification. It is the believer who is taken to task, who is required to justify his position and who is therefore on the defensive. But why is this unbelief taken to be normal? Because, I think, it is wrongly thought that while the believer in God is making a positive claim, the unbeliever, as the name indicates, is only denying that the believer has any evidence to support his claim. The two positions are therefore mistakenly likened to those, say, of accuser and accused. The latter does not have to prove that he is innocent, since he is assumed to be so until the contrary is proven by the former. This picture is misleading because in it only one of the parties, the accuser, has a problem that he wants to resolve. The accused has no problem, and is therefore making no claim or even if he has one, it is different from that of the accuser. A better comparison to the position of the believer and the unbeliever would be that of two politicians or economists, A and B, arguing about inflation, a problem that affects them both. A suggests that the cause of inflation is the sudden and tremendous increase in oil prices and therefore, it can only be arrested by such-and-such measures. The other, B, denies that this is the cause. He sees no causal link between the two phenomena, and has not been helped by A to see one. We may sympathize with B, but we would certainly not think that he had done his job merely by rejecting A's analysis. Why? Because inflation is a serious problem that affects all of us and we consider that those who conduct our affairs have a responsibility to look for its cause and to seek a solution to it. Thus, the position of the believer is not like that of the accuser, because the problem, whose solution he is seeking by claiming that the world has a creator, does not concern him alone. Like inflation, it affects both the one who advances a solution to it and the one who rejects that solution. THE PROBLEM What is this problem? Essentially it is expressed in the question, “Where did we come from?” There are other related issues but let us first examine this central question. The unbeliever reacts to this question in one of three ways, all of which are irrational and unscientific. Hence his claim that science and rationality are on his side are unfounded. He may say: “I neither know nor care. All that I know is that I am here and that I am free to decide for myself what role to play. And this I am going to do.” “I neither know...” To admit one's ignorance is surely a mark of rationality and is in the spirit of science. But what about “nor do I care?” The non-believer is not here dismissing the possibility of there being a creator who assigned for man a role to play in this world, and who would therefore hold him accountable for his deeds in a life to come. Does he really mean that it does not matter or that it would make no difference to him whether this were true or not? This is clearly not rational, because it surely does make a difference whether a person goes to heaven or hell. Turning away from a fact does not make it disappear. Years of indulgence in the pleasures of this life would hardly make up for punishment in the life to come. A second response the unbeliever might make would be to say: “We could have come from nothing.” To this our question would be: Are you saying that this is only a possibility, as your statements indicate, or are you affirming that we did come from nothing? If you say that this is only possible, then you are not ruling out the possibility of our having been created. Given this possibility, and considering the gravity of the problem, you would try to make up your mind which of the two possible alternatives seems to you to be the more likely and reasonable. If, however, you are claiming that the world really did come from nothing, then we put the following points before you and require you to consider them carefully: FIRSTLY, how do you know this? SECONDLY, do you have any evidence? As far we can see, you have produced none. Without evidence, is it either rational or scientific to opt for the view that anything like ourselves that is not eternal can be caused by or produced from nothing? Isn't it a scientific principle, I am not saying a scientific fact, as well as a principle of ordinary life, that every event has a cause and hence that nothing comes out of nothing? If so, then why do you deceive yourself into thinking that your position is the more rational and the more scientific one? Having realized the irrationality of these two responses, the unbeliever might now choose the only alternative that is left to him if he insists on continuing in his unbelief. He will now admit that it is more reasonable to believe that there is a cause. But since he rejects the idea of a transcendent creator he will maintain that this cause must be inside the world. THE SEARCH FOR THE CAUSE What can that cause be? It is sometimes taken to be an object in this earth, an idol, an animal or a human being. Since the foolishness of such a belief is now clear, we should not allow it to detain us. I have only mentioned it to draw attention to the fact that idol worship and belief in magic belong to the history of unbelief, and not to that of true religion, which advocates belief in a transcendent creator. Seeing that a perishable object or person could not be a creator, some unbelievers thought that the heavenly bodies, which for them seemed to be eternal, were more worthy of such a role, and thus worshipped them. But science has proved that none of these celestial bodies are eternal. The believers' claim that they cannot be gods is thus vindicated. Having despaired of finding their creator in the larger physical bodies, and having been told that these are, in fact, built up of smaller units, the unbelievers now turned in another direction and began to look for the ultimate and eternal building unit of which everything we know is made. This, they felt, would explain everything and thus render the idea of a transcendent god otiose. But these eternal building blocks have turned out to be will-o-the-wisps. It is not the mixtures and compounds, but the elements of which they are made. And it is not even these, because they in their turn are made of molecules which are made of atoms. Atoms are made up of subatomic particles. Could these be what we are looking for? But these are not solid material things. They are strange creatures that change their mass whenever they move. Moreover these tiny things' cannot be directly observed. Their existence is deduced only from their behavior. THE ETERNAL CREATOR One of the basic arguments raised by earlier unbelievers against there being a transcendent god, was that he could not be seen. It was no use telling them that as rational beings they did not have to see to believe; that they could also believe in something whose existence could be deduced from what they observed. Science has again vindicated the believers’ argument, since this method of deduction turns out to be the only way we know about subatomic particles, the phenomena that unbelievers wish to see as the ultimate cause or creator. But this they cannot do. The creator, or if you like, ultimate cause we are looking for must be eternal, i.e., it must have no beginning. If a thing is eternal in the sense of having no beginning then it must be self-sufficient, i.e. logically it cannot depend for its existence or continuance on anything outside itself. But if this is so then it will not perish. Which means that nothing that perishes or is perishable can be eternal. All forms of matter, even the subatomic particles are perishable. And since matter in every form is necessarily affected by other forms of matter, then matter in any form cannot be eternal. The unbeliever cannot therefore console himself by putting his faith in the progress of science to discover a solution to the problem of creation. Science cannot do for them what is logically impossible. THE NATURAL SOLUTION Some unbelievers say: “Why look for the eternal? If what we want is an explanation of the finite things of which our world is made up, then this can be obtained without recourse to a belief in an eternal creator. If I want to explain how A came to be, I look for its natural and finite cause, B; and if asked about B, I look for C and so on. The series of effect-cause need not terminate in an ultimate cause but can be infinite.” To demonstrate how untenable this position is, let us take the example of a dictator who hears that a derogatory rumor about him is being spread and orders his secret police to discover its source. Devoted to their master, the secret police start interrogating suspects. A tells them that he heard it from B, who in turn tells them that he heard it from C, who heard it from D and so on. If we assume this series of hearer-relater to be infinite, it would not explain the ultimate and real source of the rumor, which can only be someone who invented it and had not heard it from someone else. The rumor, therefore, clearly had a creator: the chain is not infinite. The fact of coming-into-being cannot be explained by something which has itself come to be. It can be explained only by something which causes others to be but is not itself caused to be. THE ULTIMATE CAUSE So much for the irrationality and unscientific attitude of the unbeliever towards the question: where do we come from? The position of the believer, on the other hand, is based on reason and is not contradicted by science. He says that, since perishable things cannot come from nothing, nor be caused by other perishable things, they must be caused by something that is eternal and is therefore self-sufficient. And since it is eternal and therefore infinite, all its attributes must be infinite. How does this eternal cause bring about its effect - i.e., the things of this world? Things are produced by others in two ways. Either they follow naturally from them, or, they are intentionally made by them. All natural causes produce their effects in the former way, while rational beings have the ability to do the latter. Thus fire does not intentionally boil water, the boiling is a natural result of the water container being exposed to heat. But a housewife makes tea intentionally. There is nothing in her nature as a result of which tea is naturally produced, so she can choose whether or not to do so. A natural effect does not depend solely on what we normally call its cause. Its happening is conditional upon many other factors. For example, for water to boil it is not enough that there should be heat. The water must be put in a container which must be brought near the heat, there must be oxygen, etc. Our eternal cause, on the other hand, is by definition self-sufficient and thus depends for its action on no factors external to itself. If this is so, then it does not act in the way natural causes act; thus it must act with intention. Since a thing that acts with intention must also act knowingly and must therefore be a living being and not an inanimate thing, the true creator of whatever exists in the world must possess these attributes, as well as others that can be deduced in the same manner. This is what unbiased reason tells us. And what it tells us is confirmed and elaborated and brought to completion by what the Creator Himself tells us in what He reveals to His prophets. A person's answers to the questions, “Why are we here? and “Where do we go from here?” are bound to depend on his answer to the basic question: “Where do we come from?” And because the unbeliever fails to give a satisfactory answer to the basic question his answers to the others are doomed to be unsatisfactory, both rationally and psychologically.

permalink source: Jaafar Sheikh Idris
tags: Apologetics, Atheism, Islam

Frost: Do you believe in the Sermon on the Mount? Gates: I don't. I'm not somebody who goes to church on a regular basis. The specific elements of Christianity are not something I'm a huge believer in. There's a lot of merit in the moral aspects of religion. I think it can have a very very positive impact. Frost: I sometimes say to people, do you believe there is a god, or do you know there is a god? And, you'd say you don't know? Gates: In terms of doing things I take a fairly scientific approach to why things happen and how they happen. I don't know if there's a god or not, but I think religious principles are quite valid.

permalink source: I have not verified this
tags: Apologetics, Atheism, Church

Gates was profiled in a January 13, 1996 TIME magazine cover story. Here are some excerpts compiled by the Drudge Report: "Isn't there something special, perhaps even divine, about the human soul?" interviewer Walter Isaacson asks Gates "His face suddenly becomes expressionless," writes Isaacson, "his squeaky voice turns toneless, and he folds his arms across his belly and vigorously rocks back and forth in a mannerism that has become so mimicked at MICROSOFT that a meeting there can resemble a round table of ecstatic rabbis." "I don't have any evidence on that," answers Gates. "I don't have any evidence of that." He later states, "Just in terms of allocation of time resources, religion is not very efficient. There's a lot more I could be doing on a Sunday morning."

permalink source: I have not verified this
tags: Apologetics, Atheism, Church

Moore's Law The immorality of the Ten Commandments. By Christopher Hitchens Posted Wednesday, August 27, 2003, at 2:04 PM PT The row over the boulder-sized version of the so-called "Ten Commandments," and as to whether they should be exhibited in such massive shape on public property, misses the opportunity to consider these top-10 divine ordinances and their relationship to original intent. Judge Roy Moore is clearly, as well as a fool and a publicity-hound, a man who identifies the Mount Sinai orders to Moses with a certain interpretation of Protestantism. But we may ask ourselves why any sect, however primitive, would want to base itself on such vague pre-Christian desert morality (assuming Moses to be pre-Christian). The first four of the commandments have little to do with either law or morality, and the first three suggest a terrific insecurity on the part of the person supposedly issuing them. I am the lord thy god and thou shalt have no other ... no graven images ... no taking of my name in vain: surely these could have been compressed into a more general injunction to show respect. The ensuing order to set aside a holy day is scarcely a moral or ethical one, unless you assume that other days are somehow profane. (The Rev. Ian Paisley, I remember, used to refuse interviewers for Sunday newspapers even after it was pointed out to him that it's the Monday edition that is prepared on Sunday.) Whereas a day of rest, as prefigured in the opening passages of Genesis, is no more than organized labor might have demanded, perhaps during the arduous days of unpaid pyramid erection. So the first four commandments have almost nothing to do with moral conduct and cannot in any case be enforced by law unless the state forbids certain sorts of art all week, including religious and iconographic art—and all activity on the Sabbath (which the words of the fourth commandment do not actually require). The next instruction is to honor one's parents: a harmless enough idea, but again unenforceable in law and inapplicable to the many orphans that nature or god sees fit to create. That there should be no itemized utterance enjoining the protection of children seems odd, given that the commandments are addressed in the first instance to adults. But then, the same god frequently urged his followers to exterminate various forgotten enemy tribes down to the last infant, sparing only the virgins, so this may be a case where hand-tying or absolute prohibitions were best avoided. There has never yet been any society, Confucian or Buddhist or Islamic, where the legal codes did not frown upon murder and theft. These offenses were certainly crimes in the Pharaonic Egypt from which the children of Israel had, if the story is to be believed, just escaped. So the middle-ranking commandments, of which the chief one has long been confusingly rendered "thou shalt not kill," leave us none the wiser as to whether the almighty considers warfare to be murder, or taxation and confiscation to be theft. Tautology hovers over the whole enterprise. In much the same way, few if any courts in any recorded society have approved the idea of perjury, so the idea that witnesses should tell the truth can scarcely have required a divine spark in order to take root. To how many of its original audience, I mean to say, can this have come with the force of revelation? Then it's a swift wrap-up with a condemnation of adultery (from which humans actually can refrain) and a prohibition upon covetousness (from which they cannot). To insist that people not annex their neighbor's cattle or wife "or anything that is his" might be reasonable, even if it does place the wife in the same category as the cattle, and presumably to that extent diminishes the offense of adultery. But to demand "don't even think about it" is absurd and totalitarian, and furthermore inhibiting to the Protestant spirit of entrepreneurship and competition. One is presuming (is one not?) that this is the same god who actually created the audience he was addressing. This leaves us with the insoluble mystery of why he would have molded ("in his own image," yet) a covetous, murderous, disrespectful, lying, and adulterous species. Create them sick, and then command them to be well? What a mad despot this is, and how fortunate we are that he exists only in the minds of his worshippers. It's obviously too much to expect that a Bronze Age demagogue should have remembered to condemn drug abuse, drunken driving, or offenses against gender equality, or to demand prayer in the schools. Still, to have left rape and child abuse and genocide and slavery out of the account is to have been negligent to some degree, even by the lax standards of the time. I wonder what would happen if secularists were now to insist that the verses of the Bible that actually recommend enslavement, mutilation, stoning, and mass murder of civilians be incised on the walls of, say, public libraries? There are many more than 10 commandments in the Old Testament, and I live for the day when Americans are obliged to observe all of them, including the ox-goring and witch-burning ones. (Who is Judge Moore to pick and choose?) Too many editorialists have described the recent flap as a silly confrontation with exhibitionist fundamentalism, when the true problem is our failure to recognize that religion is not just incongruent with morality but in essential ways incompatible with it

permalink source: http://slate.msn.com/
tags: Atheism, Skepticism, Morality, Ten Commandments

John and Mary Pay a Visit This morning there was a knock at my door. When I answered the door I found a well groomed, nicely dressed couple. The man spoke first: "Hi! I'm John, and this is Mary." Mary: "Hi! We're here to invite you to come kiss Hank's ass with us." Me: "Pardon me?! What are you talking about? Who's Hank, and why would I want to kiss his ass?" John: "If you kiss Hank's ass, he'll give you a million dollars; and if you don't, he'll kick the shit out of you." Me: "What? Is this some sort of bizarre mob shake-down?" John: "Hank is a billionaire philanthropists. Hank built this town. Hank owns this town. He can do what ever wants, and what he wants is to give you a million dollars, but he can't until you kiss his ass." Me: "That doesn't make any sense. Why..." Mary: "Who are you to question Hank's gift? Don't you want a million dollars? Isn't it worth a little kiss on the ass?" Me: "Well maybe, if it's legit, but..." John: "Then come kiss Hank's ass with us." Me: "Do you kiss Hank's ass often?" Mary: "Oh yes, all the time..." Me: "And has he given you a million dollars?" John: "Well no, you don't actually get the money until you leave town." Me: "So why don't you just leave town now?" Mary: "You can't leave until Hank tells you to, or you don't get the money, and he kicks the shit out of you." Me: "Do you know anyone who kissed Hank's ass, left town, and got the million dollars?" John: "My mother kissed Hank's ass for years. She left town last year, and I'm sure she got the money." Me: "Haven't you talked to her since then?" John: "Of course not, Hank doesn't allow it." Me: "So what makes you think he'll actually give you the money if you've never talked to anyone who got the money?" Mary: "Well, he gives you a little bit before you leave. Maybe you'll get a raise, maybe you'll win a small lotto, maybe you'll just find a twenty dollar bill on the street." Me: "What's that got to do with Hank?" John: "Hank has certain 'connections.' " Me: "I'm sorry, but this sounds like some sort of bizarre con game." John: "But it's a million dollars, can you really take the chance? And remember, if you don't kiss Hank's ass he'll kick the shit of you." Me: "Maybe if I could see Hank, talk to him, get the details straight from him..." Mary: "No one sees Hank, no one talks to Hank." Me: "Then how do you kiss his ass?" John: "Sometimes we just blow him a kiss, and think of his ass. Other times we kiss Karl's ass, and he passes it on." Me: "Who's Karl?" Mary: "A friend of ours. He's the one who taught us all about kissing Hank's ass. All we had to do was take him out to dinner a few times." Me: "And you just took his word for it when he said there was a Hank, that Hank wanted you to kiss his ass, and that Hank would reward you?" John: "Oh no! Karl's got a letter Hank sent him years ago explaining the whole thing. Here's a copy; see for your self." John handed me a photocopy of a handwritten memo on "From the desk of Karl" letterhead. There were eleven items listed: From the desk of: KARL 1. Kiss Hank's ass and he'll give you a million dollars when you leave town. 2. Use alcohol in moderation. 3. Kick the shit out of people who aren't like you. 4. Eat right. 5. Hank dictated this list himself. 6. The moon is made of green cheese. 7. Everything Hank says is right. 8. Wash your hands after going to the bathroom. 9. Don't drink. 10. Eat your wieners on buns, no condiments. 11. Kiss Hank's ass or he'll kick the shit out of you. Me: "This would appear to be written on Karl's Letterhead." Mary: "Hank didn't have any paper." Me: "I have a hunch that if we checked we'd find this is Karl's handwriting." John: "Of course, Hank dictated it." Me: "I thought you said no one gets to see Hank?" Mary: "Not now, but years ago he would talk to some people." Me: "I thought you said he was a philanthropist. What sort of philanthropist kicks the shit out of people just because they're different?" Mary: "It's what Hank wants, and Hank's always right." Me: "How do you figure that?" Mary: "Item 7 says 'Everything Hanks says is right.' That's good enough for me!" Me: "Maybe your friend Karl just made the whole thing up." John: "No way! Item 5 says 'Hank dictated this list himself.' Besides, item 2 says 'Use alcohol in moderation,' Item 4 says 'Eat right,' and item 8 says 'Wash your hands after going to the bathroom.' Everyone knows those things are right, so the rest must be true too." Me: "But 9 says 'Don't Drink,' which doesn't quite go with item 2, and 6 says 'The moon is made of green cheese,' which is just plain wrong." John: "There's no contradiction between 9 and 2, 9 just clarifies 2. As far as 6 goes, you've never been to the moon, so you can't say for sure." Me: "Scientists have pretty firmly established that the moon is made of rock..." Mary: "But they don't know if the rock came from the Earth, or from outer of space, so it could just as easily be green cheese." Me: "I'm not really an expert, but I think the theory that the Moon came from the Earth has been discounted. Besides, not knowing where the rock came from doesn't make it cheese." John: "Aha! You just admitted that scientists make mistakes, but we know Hank is always right!" Me: "We do?" Mary: "Of course we do, Item 5 says so." Me: "You're saying Hank's always right because the list says so, the list is right because Hank dictated it, and we know that Hank dictated it because the list says so. That's circular logic. That's no different than saying 'Hank's right because he says he's right.'" John: "Now you're getting it! It's so rewarding to see someone come around to Hank's way of thinking!" Me: "But... oh, never mind. What's the deal with wieners?" Mary blushes. John says: "Wieners, in buns, no condiments. It's Hank's way. Anything else is wrong." Me: "What if I don't have a bun?" John: "No bun, no wiener. A wiener without a bun is wrong." Me: "No relish? No Mustard?" Mary looks positively stricken. John shouts: "There's no need for such language! Condiments of any kind are wrong!" Me: "So a big pile of sauerkraut with some wieners chopped up in it would be out of the question?" Mary sticks her fingers in her ears: "I am not listening to this. La la la la la la la la." John: "That's disgusting. Only some sort of evil deviant would eat that..." Me: "It's good! I eat it all the time." Mary faints. John catches her: "Well, if I'd known you where one of those, I wouldn't have wasted my time. When Hank kicks the shit out of you, I'll be there counting my money and laughing. I'll kiss Hank's ass for you, you bunless cut-wienered kraut-eater." With this, John dragged Mary to their waiting car, and sped off. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Paula and I were on the road this holiday weekend (yesterday was Labor Day), and we just got back. We had very limited internet access and couldn't get to your email. Sorry about that. Also, belated happy birthday! Thanks for forwarding me that story about Hank. I've never seen it before. I think I'll archive it and use it for a sermon illustration someday. Here's my take on it: it's a mean-spirited mockery (although cleverly done). The author draws a few bogus parallels and then builds his whole story on them. Basically, the story portrays John and Mary as stupid believers who believe in an absurd system that they've never thought critically about and then leaves you to deduce that all belief systems are equivalent and that all believers are identically stupid. Your colleague was obviously trying to be provocative, and so I conclude that he/she is either scared of faith or has been embittered by previous encounters with Christians. Just show him/her love. If the email was sent to you directly, I wouldn't really engage in dissecting the story with your friend--the deck is stacked against you. All the conclusions your friend will draw are built into the assumptions that underlie the whole story. Instead, show your friend love and have a reasonable answer for his or her honest questions whenever they come up. If the email was sent as a broadcast email, I might handle it differently. Silence might be taken as acquiescence. What I would do would depend greatly on the context. In any event, if he/she really wants to talk about it, focus on the assumptions and illegitimate parallels. In other words, explain how what you believe is different from what John and Mary believe. For example, the whole point of the gospel is that someone has come back from "out of town" to tell us about Hank. His name was Jesus, and that's what makes the resurrection so remarkable. (Incidentally, it's not really fair to compare the afterlife with going on a trip out of town. Death is fundamentally different than a road trip.) It's also not legitimate to compare Hank (who would need to be a tangible human being) with God (who is by definition invisible and intangible). It's not as though there are no logical reasons to believe that God exists. There are several, and I personally find them compelling. We've talked about some of these at Chi Alpha. Most importantly, the idea of a forced choice between "kissing Hank's ass" and "Hank kicking the shit out of you" as a parallel to heaven and hell is just plain silly. It misses the point entirely. If we love God (as evidenced by our life here on earth), we get to be with God. That's heaven--living in the presence of God forever. If we don't want to be with God (as evidenced by a lack of desire to connect with God on earth) then we get what we want. That's hell, being isolated from God forever. I could go on, but this story was somewhat of a rhetorical trick. Was that what you had in mind, or did you want me to address it on a different level? I hope it didn't rattle you any. Your friend, Glen

permalink source: Anonymous
tags: Apologetics, Atheism

Richard Wurmbrand, a Romanian Jew, has been called "the voice of the underground church." In the 1940s, he was jailed and tortured by communist officials in his home country. While imprisoned, he spoke boldly of the gospel to his atheistic captors. About one experience in the 14 years he spent in prison, he wrote, "The political officer asked me harshly, 'How long will you continue to keep your stupid religion?' "I said to him, 'I have seen innumerable atheists regretting on their deathbeds that they have been godless; they called on Christ. Can you imagine that a Christian could regret when death is near that he has been a Christian and call on Marx or Lenin to rescue him from his faith?' "The atheist began to laugh, 'A clever answer.' "I continued, 'When an engineer has built a bridge, the fact that a cart can pass over the bridge is no proof that the bridge is good. A train must pass over it to prove its strength. The fact that you can be an atheist when everything goes well does not prove the truth of atheism. It does not hold up in moments of great crisis.' "I used Lenin's books to prove to him that, even after becoming prime minister of the Soviet Union, Lenin himself prayed when things went wrong."

permalink source: Citation: DC Talk, Jesus Freaks: DC Talk and The Voice of the Martyrs (Bethany House, 2002), pp. 53-54
tags: Apologetics, Atheism, Courage

In Europe, by contrast, 49 percent of Danes, 52 percent of Norwegians and 55 percent of Swedes say God does not matter to them at all. When the European Union agrees on a constitution, it will likely dispense with any mention of God. The acerbic British critic A.A. Gill dismisses the Europeans' flirtation with secularism, knowing that people need more. "Christianity," he says, "started out with 11 members and was at its strongest and purest. If it goes back to being 11, or if I'm the only poor creature in the world still afflicted with it, it will make no difference. God will still be there and will still love us unrequited. The world was still round when nobody believed it." http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A50983-2004Jan2.html

permalink source: Religion, The Eternal Growth Industry - David Yount, The Washington Post Sunday Jan 4, 2004 pB03
tags: Atheism, Church, Christianity

February 7 is the day Sinclair Lewis was born in 1885 at Saulk Center, Minnesota. Lewis won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1930. His best known works of social satire were Main Street, It Can't Happen Here and Babbit. Yet, for all his renown and wealth, Lewis died in Rome of alcoholism. Upon his death in 1951, he was cremated and his ashes sent to Rome's U.S. Embassy for disposition. One morning a visitor noticed a worker on her knees with a dustpan and broom. Next to her was an overturned funerary urn. When asked what she was doing, she replied nonchalantly, "Sweeping up Sinclair Lewis." If we focus on the words, "sweeping up Sinclair Lewis," we realize the abject futility of the human experience outside of the soul and its relationship to God. This is why the Bible says: "For he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust. … But from everlasting to everlasting the LORD's love is with those who fear him" (Psalm 103:14, 17).

permalink source: Preaching Today - On This Day, (Crescent Books 1992); Clifton Fadiman, The Little, Brown Book of Anecdotes, (Little, Brown & Co., 1985);
tags: Atheism, Nihilism, Death

There are three kinds of people: those who have sought God and found him, and these are reasonable and happy; those who seek God and have not yet found him, and these are reasonable and unhappy; and those who neither seek God nor find him, and these are unreasonable and unhappy. -- Blaise Pascal

permalink source: Anonymous
tags: Atheism

Our worst sin is prayerlessness, because of what it says about who we really think is in charge of the church and the universe. God save us from the people who would renew the church and bring justice in the world without praying. Having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power, they are more dangerous than the wrongs they would set right. They will replace old evils with new evils, themselves.

permalink source: P. T. Forsyth
tags: Atheism, Prayer, Pride

A man said to the universe: "Sir, I exist! "However," replied the universe, "The fact has not created in me A sense of obligation."

permalink source: Stephen Crane, A Man Said To the Universe, 1894
tags: Atheism, Suffering

Natalie Portman, the actress who plays Padme Amidala in the Star Wars movies, The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones, is uncomfortable with the notion of life after death. She says, "I don't believe in that [the concept of the afterlife]. I believe this is it, and I believe it's the best way to live." Citation: Rolling Stone (6-20-02), p. 58; submitted by Derek Chinn, Portland, Oregon

permalink source: Anonymous
tags: Atheism, Death

The book also has a good chapter on "Amazing Coincidences." These are strange events which appear to give evidence of supernatural influences operating in everyday life. They are not the result of deliberate fraud or trickery, but only of the laws of probability. The paradoxical feature of the laws of probability is that they make unlikely events happen unexpectedly often. A simple way to state the paradox is Littlewood's Law of Miracles. Littlewood was a famous mathematician who was teaching at Cambridge University when I was a student. Being a professional mathematician, he defined miracles precisely before stat-ing his law about them. He defined a miracle as an event that has special significance when it occurs, but oc-curs with a probability of one in a million. This definition agrees with our common-sense understanding of the word "miracle." Littlewood's Law of Miracles states that in the course of any normal person's life, miracles happen at a rate of roughly one per month. The proof of the law is simple. During the time that we are awake and actively engaged in living our lives, roughly for eight hours each day, we see and hear things happening at a rate of about one per second. So the total number of events that happen to us is about thirty thousand per day, or about a million per month. With few exceptions, these events are not miracles because they are insignificant. The chance of a miracle is about one per million events. Therefore we should expect about one miracle to happen, on the average, every month. Broch tells stories of some amazing coincidences that happened to him and his friends, all of them easily explained as consequences of Littlewood's Law.

permalink source: Freeman Dyson in Ny Review of Books, http://www.nybooks.com/articles/16991 March 25, 2004
tags: Atheism, Statistics, Miracles

Believe in God and you will have to face hours when it seems obvious that this material world is the only reality; disbelieve in Him and you must face hours when this material world seems to shout at you that it is not all. No conviction, religious or irreligious, will, of itself, end once and for all this fifth-columnist in the soul. Only the practice of Faith resulting in the habit of Faith will gradually do that. I define Faith as the power of continuing to believe what we once honestly thought to be true until cogent reasons for honestly changing our minds are brought before us.

permalink source: C. S. Lewis
tags: Apologetics, Atheism, Faith

...although atheism might have been logically tenable before Darwin, Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist.

permalink source: Richard Dawkins, The Blind Watchmaker, 1986, page 6
tags: Atheism, Evolution

Einstein Had Little Patience For Either Atheism or Traditional Theism

But throughout his life, Einstein was consistent in rejecting the charge that he was an atheist. "There are people who say there is no God," he told a friend. "But what makes me really angry is that they quote me for support of such views." And unlike Sigmund Freud or Bertrand Russell or George Bernard Shaw, Einstein never felt the urge to denigrate those who believed in God; instead, he tended to denigrate atheists. "What separates me from most so-called atheists is a feeling of utter humility toward the unattainable secrets of the harmony of the cosmos," he explained. In fact, Einstein tended to be more critical of debunkers, who seemed to lack humility or a sense of awe, than of the faithful. "The fanatical atheists," he wrote in a letter, "are like slaves who are still feeling the weight of their chains which they have thrown off after hard struggle. They are creatures who--in their grudge against traditional religion as the 'opium of the masses'-- cannot hear the music of the spheres." Einstein later explained his view of the relationship between science and religion at a conference at the Union Theological Seminary in New York. The realm of science, he said, was to ascertain what was the case, but not evaluate human thoughts and actions about what should be the case. Religion had the reverse mandate. Yet the endeavors worked together at times. "Science can be created only by those who are thoroughly imbued with the aspiration toward truth and understanding," he said. "This source of feeling, however, springs from the sphere of religion." The talk got front-page news coverage, and his pithy conclusion became famous. "The situation may be expressed by an image: science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind." But there was one religious concept, Einstein went on to say, that science could not accept: a deity who could meddle at whim in the events of his creation. "The main source of the present-day conflicts between the spheres of religion and of science lies in this concept of a personal God," he argued. Scientists aim to uncover the immutable laws that govern reality, and in doing so they must reject the notion that divine will, or for that matter human will, plays a role that would violate this cosmic causality.

permalink source: Walter Isaacson, Einstein & Faith, http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1607298-2,00.html
tags: Atheism, Science

Secularism Far More Intolerant and Vicious Than Organized Religion

[The common notion among intellectuals is that] Christianity has been a source (in the West) of unparalleled oppression and violence and that if Christians had their way, they’d subjugate everyone. This is a popular view and, like most popular views, it’s mostly false. Secularist ideologies have led to much more hardships, political oppression, economic chaos and mass killing than any Western theological system has... Also, very few people were executed for religious reasons without trial. Of course, the evidence gathered at the trials was usually bogus.... but trials were conducted, and a lot of people were set free. At Salem over 100 people were accused; about 20 were executed. Once the hysteria subsided, the authorities acknowledged publicly that those executed were innocent, and money was given to their families. This is all quite pathetic, but the image one has of Puritans out to fry all disbelievers is false. The famous 'heretics' Anne Hutchinson and roger Williams were not executed. ...systematic mass slaughter without trial has been an innovation ... of secularists. We see it first with the mass killing by drowning of the anti-Christian fanatics of the French Revolution. We see it in Stalin’s atheistic regime, in Hitler’s anti-Jewish, anti-Christian regime. And then we see it in other places were secularist ideology was imported--Mao’s China, Pol Pot’s Cambodia. And today existential misery and suicide are highest precisely in the places where secularism is most prevalent.

permalink source: Is Belief in God Good, Bad, or Irrelevant? edited by Preston Jones, IVP, pages 134-136
tags: Apologetics, Atheism

Scientists Seem To Lean Towards Irreligion For Nonscientific Reasons

Is knowledge of science somehow in conflict with being religious? Childhood religious background, not exposure to scientific education, seems to be the most powerful predictor of future irreligion. Those scientists raised in almost any faith tradition are more likely to currently be religious than those raised without any tradition.<sup>12</sup> In addition, scientists who describe religion as important in their families as children are much more likely to practice faith currently.<sup>13</sup> When compared to the general population, a larger proportion of scientists are raised in non-religious homes.<sup>14</sup> When one considers that many more scientists come from non-religious homes or homes that were nominally religious, the distinctions between the general population and the scientific community make more sense. A large part of the difference between scientists and the general population may be due more to religious upbringing, rather than scientific training or university pressure to be irreligious, although these other possibilities should be further explored. <i>The footnotes are as follows:</i> <sup>12</sup> The exception is among academic scientists raised Jewish, who do not differ substantially in their religiosity from those raised with no religious tradition. <sup>13</sup>Another way to examine the impact of religious upbringing is through predicted probabilities. For instance, consider two sociologists who are male, in the 18-35 range, born in the United States, have no children and are currently married. One was raised in a Protestant denomination and religion was “very important” while growing up. The other was raised as a religious “none” and religion was “not at all important” while growing up. Analyses of the RAAS survey reveals that the former has a predicted probability of 14 percent for saying that he does not believe in God. This compares to a 54 percent chance of the latter saying he does not believe, a striking difference. These differences do not offer conclusive evidence about the causes of disproportionate self-selection of scientists from certain religious backgrounds into the scientific disciplines. They do, however, offer potential for explaining the differences in religiosity between scientists and the general population. <sup>14</sup> In the 2004 GSS, 100% (n=60) of the respondents who were raised Jewish say that they are religious “liberals.”

permalink source: Religion and Spirituality among University Scientists, by Elaine Howard Ecklund, Feb 05, 2007, http://religion.ssrc.org/reforum/Ecklund/
tags: Apologetics, Atheism, Science

Aldous Huxley's Underlying Motives

For myself, as, no doubt, for most of my contemporaries, the philosophy of meaningless was essentially an instrument of liberation. The liberation we desired was simultaneously liberation from a certain political and economic system and liberation from a certain system of morality. We objected to the morality because it interfered with our sexual freedom; we objected to the political and economic system because it was unjust. [my note: At the time he made this remark he had changed his mind - he is explaining his rationale when younger.]

permalink source: Aldous Huxley, Ends and Means, 273
tags: Atheism, Depravity, Freedom

What Science Really Tells Us

The first gulp from the glass of natural sciences will turn you into an atheist, but at the bottom of the glass God is waiting for you. (original - "Der erste Trunk aus dem Becher der Naturwissenschaft macht atheistisch, aber auf dem Grund des Bechers wartet Gott.")

permalink source: Werner Heisenberg, Hildebrand, Ulrich. 1988. "Das Universum - Hinweis auf Gott?", in Ethos (die Zeitschrift für die ganze Familie), No. 10, Oktober. Berneck, Schweiz: Schwengeler Verlag AG. Reprinted by permission of the publisher, Schwengeler Verlag AG.
tags: Apologetics, Atheism, Physics