7 Brutal Truths About Atheism

I have covered a few of these points in my Atheist Contradictions posts, but I wanted to create a comprehensive list of what I considered to be a number of realities that emanate from atheistic belief – brutal realities that are certainly true if atheism is true. In and of themselves these do not disprove atheism, but they do detail the cost of atheist’s beliefs. Most of these truths are acknowledged by various atheists.

  1. Your life has no meaning or purpose
    One obvious conclusion of believing that life and the universe are the result of wholly incidental material interactions is that one’s life has no inherent meaning. There is no reason why an atheist is here – and the atheist’s existence will serve no ultimate purpose. The typical rejoinder amongst atheists is that they can make or find their own meaning, which apparently means they can pretend there is meaning to their lives – but they seem to miss the fact that this is exactly what they criticize the religious of doing. In the final analysis to be an atheist is to either acknowledge that one’s existence does not ultimately matter or to live a life of pretense.
  2. You are an atheist by virtue of when and where you were born
    Atheists like to say this about the religious (in an attempt to reduce religious belief down something we unthinkingly inherit from our parents) but the reality is while people convert to and from various religions all around the world, atheists are by in large concentrated in the more advanced industrial nations. The reason for that is simple – being an atheist really only works for the relatively wealthy and comfortable. Most of the world outside of industrialized countries must endure the harsh realities of life – hunger, disease, violence, shorter lives. This flippant atheist tagline, “There’s probably no God… now stop worrying and enjoy your life” makes absolutely no sense if one lives in a slum in Africa or India, or under one deals daily with the ravages of drug cartels in some central American city. Atheists are atheists because they have the luxury of denying the reality of that which gives human lives essential dignity, and still living comfortable lives themselves.
  3. You can never be certain that what you believe to be true is true
    There is no basis in atheism for any confidence in one’s ability to discern what is and isn’t true about reality. The reason for this is because if one’s main instrument for deriving beliefs about reality (one’s physical brain) is the product of undirected incidental forces then there is no guarantee that this instrument is accurate in that respect. In fact, there is much reason to believe our cognitive equipment is faulty. So atheism contains its own internal defeater; if atheism is true, there is no reason for an atheist to be confident that atheism is true.
  4. There is no objective way to evaluate moral choices
    This is another truth that invites atheists to imagine something that can’t actually exist. In a purposeless universe, there is no basis for contending that creatures who incidentally evolved there should behave in a particular manner; there is no anchor to which we can tether an idea of right or wrong moral choices. From an atheist perspective moral claims are wholly derived from our own mental faculties – and as we saw in the previous point that would make them fairly arbitrary. This is especially true considering there are competing claims about right and wrong behavior. So then while an atheist might desire to act a certain way or desire that others acted in a certain way, he or she can never say others should act in a certain way as no human behavior is actually ever ‘wrong’ in any objective sense. Atheists often argue that they are as moral as any religious believer – but such a claim requires morals to exist in the first place.
  5. The most brutal regimes have been atheistic
    In their opposition to religion, atheists often like to point out that religious belief has historically often been a source of violence and persecution. While this neither proves nor disproves the existence of God; it certainly seems to make a belief in God undesirable. Unfortunately for atheists, they have some of their own history to deal with. In the early and mid 20th century, atheism, thanks to communism, was at its zenith historically. More than any time in history, a number of governments were overtly atheistic – there was no religious belief to motivate their leaders and armies. And it was during that time and in those places that the most horrible actions were taken – perhaps the worst in the history of man. The governments of Stalin, Mao, the various leaders of North Korea and Vietnam, as well as various regimes in Eastern Europe, Africa and South America killed tens, perhaps hundreds of millions of people all told. They imprisoned millions more merely for their religious or political beliefs. The worst forms of torture and forced labor occurred under these systems, and many places have never fully recovered from the ravages of those times. If one were to evaluate beliefs based on the degree of pain and violence those beliefs provoked, then atheism would certainly be the standard for motivating horrible behavior.
  6. Human rights and equality don’t exist
    In the atheist scheme of reality, only that which has a physical component can exist, so claims of inherent rights or human equality are necessarily understood to be, like morals, wholly illusory. Take for example the concept of human equality. In American political philosophy our equality derives from the notion that we were created by God as equal persons of equal worth. What is equal about two humans in this view isn’t their physical qualities but intrinsic ones, a worth that can’t be diminished. On the other hand, people are inherently unequal according to any physical or biological measure. A person with substantive intelligence would certainly be more valuable than someone with a mental defect. A healthy person who can contribute to society would have more much worth than an ill or handicapped person –and so in a world where only that which was physical is real, ‘equality’ could not exist. Much the same could be said of the notions of rights or liberties – these entities can’t be found in a materialistic universe. This would explain in part why wholly atheistic regimes have such atrocious human rights records – they are under no obligation to recognize intrinsic human worth.
  7. You will always be a small minority
    The reality is as long as there have been recognizable human communities, there have been religious beliefs. Ideas about God or gods were the foundation of musicality, art, literature, even civilization itself. Our capacity for spiritual comprehension is our most distinguishing factor – perhaps more than any other thing  that is what it means to be human. Even today, religious belief persists and is growing in the world – and this is made even more the case as primarily secular societies fade due to lack of procreation. If several thousand years of human history and all current trends are any indication, atheism is in its twilight years not its infancy.

Atheists will no doubt contest one or more of these claims, or find ways to wish away or excuse the reality of these claims. All of these claims has either been demonstrated by history or certain facts, and are completely consistent with atheistic beliefs and thus easy enough to defend. One could argue whether atheism is true; one can never say that it is a idea that is inconsequential.

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77 Responses to 7 Brutal Truths About Atheism

  1. Frank says:

    And 7. Imagining that there is a God doesn’t make these things any less true, it merely provides the God-believer with an excuse not to face up to and deal with “brutal” reality.

  2. jackhudson says:

    Sure – and if the only reason to believe God exists is to avoid the brutality of Godless existence, then that would be a sad excuse to believe. Obviously I believe there are sufficient additional reasons, which I have detailed elsewhere in this blog.

    But what is even more odd is that evolution should put us in this position to begin with – why should we desire meaning, morals, and truth when either these things don’t exist or we don’t have the capacity to acquire them? It would seem a cruel extravagance which exists merely to frustrate us. Unless of course there exists a reality that fuffills these desires.

    Thanks for your comment Frank.

  3. Anon says:

    Poster, I got a good giggle out of your article…

    Yet another guy thinking that with out god we are moraless godless killing machines.

    What you fail to mention is those “atheistic” regimes were uniting their country under strong nationalism, and therefore by promoting faith in the government and nothing else they were able to lead. Stalin killed religious folks, because he was back lashing to A what his religious parents had done to him. (Both were abusive drunks, and his mother drove him into a school for him to become a religious official. Which at that time he left the religious school joined the resistance with Lenin and the rest is history.)

    Nobody to my *knowledge* has gone on an Anti Religious crusade killing anyone for believing in a religion just for the sake of killing those who believed in god. They were either Greed or revenge motivated.

    I’m surprised you didn’t bring up Hitler, people like you love to bring him up and fail to mention what the Jewish people were doing to the Germans.

    Sorry to jump back the most brutal regimes? Lol! Seriously Spanish Inquisition committed genocide in name of Christian God using a rather nifty campaign method… “Do you accept god” Villager: “no” Guards kill him next in line. “do you believe?” the answer there is a no brainer…

    1. Like many animals our purpose is to survive and populate world, which I feel we are doing fairly effectively.

    2. half right.

    3. Goes both ways

    4. Turns out instead of having to rely on others we look inward at our own compass and check this out we “THINK” about it… instead of using some guide book to life.

    5. Refer to rant above

    6. Well, hmmm lets think about this one. I guess this is a case by case basis. Funny though… all humans are equal but it if that were case why do Christianity share all their wealth with the poor and not what they can spare with out giving up their lifestyle, in particular those super wealthy clergy(historically) and super rich christian icons today. Thats cause in their own way they value them selves above everyone else instead of sharing, therefore negating your equality claim, so really all you do is claim equality on paper while you allow poverty to stack up as you spend copious amounts on your super churchs.

    7.As far as us being a minority we are growing, and will continue to grow as long as religious leaders don’t force us into another dark ages. Sure we might be a lot of lower class world citizens beliving but frankly god gives them emotional support as well as hope how ever false it may be. Plus, ultimately they have more important things to worry about then to ponder the existence of god, and as long as missionaries feed them they won’t say anything or ponder it. Why bite the hand that feeds you?

    Alright Blog poster, thank you for taking the time to read this and I await your reply. Also once again it was a fun read… 😀

  4. Jonathan says:

    Interesting read, though I’m an atheist. Most of the points have been refuted to the point where I don’t feel like talking about them any more, but the focus of your article seems to be the supposed lack of morals supplied by atheism.

    First, On your points about “Atheistic Regimes”:
    1. Like you said, this isn’t really an argument against the existence of God.
    2. Regardless, these conflicts weren’t carried out in the name of atheism. Maybe I don’t know enough of the subject, but I don’t know of a historical example of a regime that deliberately sought out religious people and attempted to eliminate them. Obviously there has been religious persecution, but that will be in the next point.
    3. Right, So I find your use of the term “Atheistic Regimes” to be , frankly, laughable. Yes, the regimes condemned religion for the most part, but I think the main part that you’re missing is that these are communist regimes. My point being that the persecution of the religious was largely a result of type of governing, rather than the religious affiliations of the government.

    Next, on your points on Morality/Human rights:

    I suppose I have to point out why morals exist in the first place, evolutionary advantage. When an organism exists in a “pack” , certain rules must be followed by said organism in order to ensure that it remains in the pack. With humans, this ultimately becomes society, the complexity of morality being a result of the complexity of humans. Anyway, I’m getting side-tracked. Basically, morals are a result of social conditioning, you had to follow the rules or you would be expelled from society, which substantially increased your chances of survival/procreation.

    Ugh, that last response didn’t look nearly as pretty as it was supposed to. I’m sorry, it’s late.

    Anyway, on #1, I simply have to say that the majority of Atheists are Existentialists, that is to say, we believe that we are solely responsible for giving our lives meaning. You say that we’re “making up” the value to our lives. Who is to say that my life has no value? You? There is no objective meaning or purpose, personally, I like it that way ;).

    I hope I didn’t come off as abrasive or anything, I”m just making an effort to voice my beliefs, overall I found that your article was well-written, though largely unfounded. Maybe I’m biases, but I try not to be. 🙂

  5. Validus says:

    It is a gross misunderstanding of history to claim that the worst regimes in history were “atheistic”. Those who died in the gulags of Stalin’s Russia could not have saved themselves by denying Jesus. Same with Mao’s China. We must also not forget that the Nazis were Christians and that to be a member of the Nazi party one was required to swear on oath of allegence that included Jesus Christ.

    Life is not “meaningless” to atheists. We maintain that meaning comes from ourselves, not from external speculative metaphysical entities like “God”.

    It is not God that made us, but we who made God.

  6. Craig says:

    Rebuttal. You best hope Hitchens doesn’t find you. He’s dealt with every one of these objections in books and lectures…

    1) This is a false dilemma. It assumes that religion gives life meaning. There is no proof life is somehow magically meaningful for people because god says it is.
    2) You confuse cause and effect. It’s just as likely, in fact more so that educated and thoughtful populations reject religions as fantasy. In fact, there is more evidence. Look it up.
    3) You can never be certain that what is true is true? Come on seriously. The last point made you look dumb. This one makes you look like philosophy 101 was beyond you. This is an appeal to tradition. Truth isn’t true because somebody else says so.
    4)This argument is the classic one, and fails miserably. It’s a common cause confusion. People don’t help each other because god will later reward them. This is very clear. Even if they did, that would be an immoral act. People help people because it is common interest to do so. Empathy is encouraged for a reason, not a faith.
    5) Factually inaccurate. In fact, if you’re well read on the subject I will now accuse you of outright falsification. The Nazi’s were catholic leaning and occult dealing. That’s not even disputed, it’s in their writing. These regimes don’t suppress religion in favor of atheism, they suppress any means by which people can meet without their control. There is lots of evidence that the leaders were actually quite religious, mostly believing that god gave them a mandate. Witness the regime you forgot, the catholic inquisition.
    6) This argument depends on your previous failures. Human rights are rights discussed and agreed on by humans for humans, god did not have a seat at the table. They exist because they are logical and make sense. Religions demand that human rights not apply to gentiles, heathens and all the other words for non-believers. Asserting this seems to imply that you haven’t considered the horrible record on human rights that religion has and continues to have daily. Religions take away the human rights of the non or other religious.
    7) False. Religion is in decline except for in places where religious-political battles for supremacy and political power are in play. Check your facts please.

    I hope I do come off as abrasive. Using such errors in logic to try and convince the weak minded of some crappy point of view is snake oil salesmanship at its best. It’s the way religions have subtly poisoned the minds of children for years into believing “facts” that just aren’t true.

  7. jackhudson says:

    Hey folks, thanks for all the thoughtful replies – I am going to do this semi-collectively as many of the points are similar (and actually stay on topic – yeah!).

    On point 1: Life not having meaning or purpose.

    Anon said:

    Like many animals our purpose is to survive and populate world, which I feel we are doing fairly effectively.

    I don’t know that a sense of meaning or purpose is necessary for this purpose, as bacterium do the same without being conscious of it. I suppose the answer to the question, “What is the purpose of my life?” could be, “To survive and reproduce” but this answer only seems to confirm my claim – that ultimately, as we all eventually cease surviving and reproducing, we have no materialistic purpose.

    Jonathon said:

    Anyway, on #1, I simply have to say that the majority of Atheists are Existentialists, that is to say, we believe that we are solely responsible for giving our lives meaning. You say that we’re “making up” the value to our lives. Who is to say that my life has no value? You? There is no objective meaning or purpose, personally, I like it that way ;).

    Actually, I believe your life has objective, ultimate, and eternal purpose; you are the one saying that meaning is wholly a product of your own mind. And while I appreciate your willingness and preference to make up meaning for yourself, I am not sure how this would this be different than pretending God existed.

    Validus said:

    Life is not “meaningless” to atheists. We maintain that meaning comes from ourselves, not from external speculative metaphysical entities like “God”.

    I dealt with this answer already in my post; it is synonymous with making up meaning for one’s life, which is no different than atheists claim the religious do.

    Craig said:

    This is a false dilemma. It assumes that religion gives life meaning. There is no proof life is somehow magically meaningful for people because god says it is

    It isn’t offered as proof; and I am not asking for proof per se, but logical consistency. For example, When Christian confessionals say the chief end of man is to “glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.” That claim of purpose is consistent with the idea God exists and that He created man. Now such a claim may be false, but it doesn’t assume anything. A Christian can make a legitimate claim to ultimate meaning and purpose that is consistent with what he believes; an atheist cannot.

    I do think that the fact that each of your answers on this point are somewhat contradictory on this point is indicative of how belief in meaning for an atheist contradicts what an atheist believes about reality.

  8. jackhudson says:

    On point 2: An atheist by virtue by when and where you were born.

    Craig said:

    You confuse cause and effect. It’s just as likely, in fact more so that educated and thoughtful populations reject religions as fantasy. In fact, there is more evidence. Look it up.

    I think the problem with this argument is that the most wealthy and highest educated nation in the Western world (The US) happens to be one of the most religious. But even if you are right, it doesn’t contradict my point – wealth and education bring comfort, and comfort allows us to pretend that we can just ‘stop worrying and enjoy life’ as the atheist campaign puts it. I have worked in slums in Nairobi and with the poor in Guatemala; they can’t just ‘enjoy life’ the way an Oxford professor can – they either resign themselves to destitution, or find hope in something this world cannot offer them.

  9. jackhudson says:

    On point 3: You can never be certain that what you believe to be true is true

    Anon said:

    Goes both ways.

    Actually, it doesn’t, because I believe I have been designed with a mind that has the capacity to discern true beliefs, which is consistent with being designed by a capable intelligence. Now I could be wrong, which means we are both in the same boat and neither of us can reliably discern true beliefs, but that would still make it impossible for you to say that you know what you believe is true other than by hopeful assertion. It also makes it impossible for you to say what I believe is not true by the way.

    Craig said:

    3) You can never be certain that what is true is true? Come on seriously. The last point made you look dumb. This one makes you look like philosophy 101 was beyond you. This is an appeal to tradition. Truth isn’t true because somebody else says so.

    You have seemed to miss the point here Craig – and thus failed to respond to it. It in no way appeals to ‘tradition’ – it is wholly concerned with our cognitive capabilities as humans.

    There is no basis for an atheist to say, “Humans have the cognitive equipment to discern a true belief from a false one”. Why would they in a materialistic scheme? Evolution doesn’t require that what one believes be necessarily true to in order to survive. In fact, believing some false things may actually help us survive. Incidentally, this would explain for an atheist why we are inclined to be religious. The problem for the atheist is is this means that the mechanism by which one acquires beliefs, one’s physical brain, is almost certainly flawed in this regard. In fact, there is no way to prove it’s not when it comes to beliefs. So to say, “My brain is the product of incidental evolutionary forces” and to also say, “Atheism is true” is contradictory – one whose mind is the product of incidental evolutionary forces doesn’t have the capacity to assert a belief as true.

    Unless of course someone gave you that capacity – in which case atheism would be false.

  10. jackhudson says:

    On point 4: There is no objective way to evaluate moral choices

    Anon said:

    4. Turns out instead of having to rely on others we look inward at our own compass and check this out we “THINK” about it… instead of using some guide book to life.

    What compass? Are you saying every human being has an organ by which they can objectively evaluate moral behavior? Where is this organ located? Why do so many people have so many ideas about what is right and wrong if we have a ‘compass’? And if all our compasses are different, then that would … prove my point.

    I am not sure how pretending there is a magical compass would be better than pretending there is a book that has the answers.

    Jonathan said:

    Next, on your points on Morality/Human rights:

    I suppose I have to point out why morals exist in the first place, evolutionary advantage. When an organism exists in a “pack” , certain rules must be followed by said organism in order to ensure that it remains in the pack. With humans, this ultimately becomes society, the complexity of morality being a result of the complexity of humans. Anyway, I’m getting side-tracked. Basically, morals are a result of social conditioning, you had to follow the rules or you would be expelled from society, which substantially increased your chances of survival/procreation.

    So then if, as part of a pack, I chose to kill a rival in the pack and take his mate, I would be as moral as one who didn’t make such a choice?

    Craig said:

    4)This argument is the classic one, and fails miserably. It’s a common cause confusion. People don’t help each other because god will later reward them. This is very clear. Even if they did, that would be an immoral act. People help people because it is common interest to do so. Empathy is encouraged for a reason, not a faith.

    I am afraid you missed the point again.

    Nothing you said here makes morality objective, or gives us the objective ability to evaluate moral choices, so my point stands. I t may be true that people act to help others because there is a common interest. They could also act to kill others for the same reason; this isn’t a basis for objective moral evaluation. This would seem to confirm my point, not refute it.

  11. Anon says:

    Remember morals are not given from god

    Definition of moral:
    “concerned with principles of right and wrong or conforming to standards of behavior and character based on those principles”

    How can you say we are with out morals because of religion?

    We don’t need a god for us to figure out what is right and wrong.

  12. jackhudson says:

    On point 5: The most brutal regimes have been atheistic

    Anon said:

    What you fail to mention is those “atheistic” regimes were uniting their country under strong nationalism, and therefore by promoting faith in the government and nothing else they were able to lead. Stalin killed religious folks, because he was back lashing to A what his religious parents had done to him. (Both were abusive drunks, and his mother drove him into a school for him to become a religious official. Which at that time he left the religious school joined the resistance with Lenin and the rest is history.)

    So your justification for Stalin was that he had bad religious parents? I am not sure the same can be said for Mao, Pol pot, the Ils, etc. This doesn’t diminish the veracity of my statement.

    Nobody to my *knowledge* has gone on an Anti Religious crusade killing anyone for believing in a religion just for the sake of killing those who believed in god. They were either Greed or revenge motivated.

    I don’t know if that was their purpose; that was indeed the result of their overt atheism. I think Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, who lived through the atrocities said it best when he said,

    “Over a half century ago, while I was still a child, I recall hearing a number of old people offer the following explanation for the great disasters that had befallen Russia: “Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened.” Since then I have spent well-nigh 50 years working on the history of our revolution; in the process I have read hundreds of books, collected hundreds of personal testimonies, and have already contributed eight volumes of my own toward the effort of clearing away the rubble left by that upheaval. But if I were asked today to formulate as concisely as possible the main cause of the ruinous revolution that swallowed up some 60 million of our people, I could not put it more accurately than to repeat: “Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened.”

    I’m surprised you didn’t bring up Hitler, people like you love to bring him up and fail to mention what the Jewish people were doing to the Germans.

    What Hitler taught us was that it isn’t wise to blindly follow the scientific consensus.

    Sorry to jump back the most brutal regimes? Lol! Seriously Spanish Inquisition committed genocide in name of Christian God using a rather nifty campaign method… “Do you accept god” Villager: “no” Guards kill him next in line. “do you believe?” the answer there is a no brainer…

    And this is where I question the historical knowledge of atheists. All told, the Inquisition was responsible for some 2000 deaths – tragic and wrong, but that’s it. Mao alone is believed to have killed 50 to 70 million people. Do you really mean to compare them?

    Jonathan said:

    First, On your points about “Atheistic Regimes”:
    1. Like you said, this isn’t really an argument against the existence of God.
    2. Regardless, these conflicts weren’t carried out in the name of atheism. Maybe I don’t know enough of the subject, but I don’t know of a historical example of a regime that deliberately sought out religious people and attempted to eliminate them. Obviously there has been religious persecution, but that will be in the next point.
    3. Right, So I find your use of the term “Atheistic Regimes” to be , frankly, laughable. Yes, the regimes condemned religion for the most part, but I think the main part that you’re missing is that these are communist regimes. My point being that the persecution of the religious was largely a result of type of governing, rather than the religious affiliations of the government.

    Well, the basic premises seem to hold – these regimes were overtly atheistic, and they were the most brutal ever. They may have had other motivations, but they did everything imaginable to kill, imprison, or torture any who believed in God. That is the factual record of history.

    At the very least we can say that diminishing religious belief doesn’t diminish violence or brutality.

    Validus said:

    We must also not forget that the Nazis were Christians and that to be a member of the Nazi party one was required to swear on oath of allegence that included Jesus Christ.

    I know atheists like many often parrot things others say (As do Christians) but it is just factually wrong to say, “that to be a member of the Nazi party one was required to swear on oath of allegence that included Jesus Christ.” These are the oaths Nazi’s made, and though they changed over time, they never referred to Jesus Christ:

    I swear loyalty to the Reich’s constitution and pledge, that I as a courageous soldier always want to protect the German Empire and its legal institutions, (and) be obedient to the Reichspräsident and to my superiors.

    I swear by God this holy oath, that I want to ever loyally and sincerely serve my people and fatherland and be prepared as a brave and obedient soldier to risk my life for this oath at any time.

    I swear by God this holy oath, that I want to offer unconditional obedience to the Führer of the German Empire and people, Adolf Hitler, the commander-in-chief of the Wehrmacht, and be prepared as a brave soldier to risk my life for this oath at any time.

    This was the SS oath:
    I vow to Adolf Hitler imperturbable loyalty . I vow to him and to the leaders, that he sets for me, absolute allegiance. Adolf Hitler: Hail victory!”

    So be a little more skeptical about these claims in the future.

    Craig said:

    5) Factually inaccurate. In fact, if you’re well read on the subject I will now accuse you of outright falsification. The Nazi’s were catholic leaning and occult dealing. That’s not even disputed, it’s in their writing. These regimes don’t suppress religion in favor of atheism, they suppress any means by which people can meet without their control. There is lots of evidence that the leaders were actually quite religious, mostly believing that god gave them a mandate. Witness the regime you forgot, the catholic inquisition.

    I actually addressed the Inquistion (minute by comparison) and I didn’t mention Hitler – who incidentally wasn’t as brutal as Stalin or Mao – and believe me, making Hitler look less brutal is no easy task.

    The fact remains, the most brutal regimes were atheistic. Hitler may not have been overtly atheistic like the more brutal regimes but his regime was brutal for other reasons, many of them having to do with an application of certain widely held scientific theories at the time.

  13. jackhudson says:

    Remember morals are not given from god

    Obviously an atheist believes this; whether or not one believes this however does not change the fact that if morals aren’t derived from a external standard, then they don’t objectively exist.

    Definition of moral:
    “concerned with principles of right and wrong or conforming to standards of behavior and character based on those principles”
    How can you say we are with out morals because of religion?

    How can an atheist say morals exist in any objective manner? No ‘standards’ can be derived from our physicality or mental structures. You have seemed to abandoned the ‘moral compass’ idea here – so where can this standard come from if it doesn’t exist either within us or somewhere in the universe?

    We don’t need a god for us to figure out what is right and wrong.

    It’s easy enough to assert this, but if God doesn’t exist, then ‘right and wrong’ don’t exist.

  14. Anon says:

    Wow!

    So let me get this trait you assert, that if people like Mao, Hitler or Stalin were religious that they would be incapable of committing the actions they did?

    What I said about Stalin is he was night fighting in the name of atheism, it wasn’t an anti-religious crusade… He fought against a machine that was hurting Russia to an extent. Sure he took it a little far, but the man was obviously ill in his later years, must like Hitler. I will admit I’ve done no research on Mao so I can’t say nothing there.

    Also so let me get this clear, you state that you can’t be what one defines as morally good unless you have religion?

    Morals are an Objective… it is not black or white but is objective you look at a situation and weight the the 2 sides. We as a society decided that it is morally wrong to kill someone. You ask i’d say most people they’d agree with you regardless of upbringing.

    Also another thing to note, you can have religion and be a moral-less idiot who kills, steals and otherwise wrongs people…

  15. jackhudson says:

    So let me get this trait you assert, that if people like Mao, Hitler or Stalin were religious that they would be incapable of committing the actions they did?

    Well, first off, I am not including Hitler in with Mao and Stalin. And I am certain that had either Mao or Stalin held to Christian principles or the belief they would face punishment for their actions they would certainly had made different choices.

    What I said about Stalin is he was night fighting in the name of atheism, it wasn’t an anti-religious crusade… He fought against a machine that was hurting Russia to an extent. Sure he took it a little far, but the man was obviously ill in his later years, must like Hitler. I will admit I’ve done no research on Mao so I can’t say nothing there.

    I am not sure what more he could do to ‘fight in the name of atheism’. He believed in an overtly godless state, he believed religious beliefs were antagonistic to truth. He killed and imprisoned millions, many specifically because they were religious believers of one sort or another. He didn’t take it a ‘little far’ he, with the full support of the overtly atheistic government, killed millions. He intentional slaughtered men, women, and children, many of whom he starved to death or simply worked to death. Mao, Pol Pot, the Ils, and Mengistu did likewise when they came to power. This wasn’t an isolated case. And Stalin enjoyed the full support of the secular Left in the West during his reign.

    Also so let me get this clear, you state that you can’t be what one defines as morally good unless you have religion?

    One can’t ‘define’ moral good objectively unless there is an external measure. I don’t know where that measure comes from absent God.

    Morals are an Objective… it is not black or white but is objective you look at a situation and weight the the 2 sides. We as a society decided that it is morally wrong to kill someone. You ask i’d say most people they’d agree with you regardless of upbringing.

    You keep beginning the question – you can’t ‘weigh the two sides’ absent an objective measure. If we as ‘a society’ are deciding, then you are acknowledging that objective morality doesn’t exist – we just make it up.

    Also another thing to note, you can have religion and be a moral-less idiot who kills, steals and otherwise wrongs people…

    Sure – but one can only say they are immoral if there exists an objective moral standard.

  16. kenetiks says:

    These arguments are tired and have been repeatedly torn down and pulverized more times than I can think of. I’d be wasting my time refuting them when any competent internet user can google them.

    Seems to me that you are just trying to hard. Battling fiercely the godless atheists and smacking them in the face with these “brutal” facts, err inconsequential philosophical points.

    And not one single thing in the blog post proves anything, about anything.

  17. jackhudson says:

    These arguments are tired and have been repeatedly torn down and pulverized more times than I can think of. I’d be wasting my time refuting them when any competent internet user can google them.

    I keep hearing this (even as an agnostic some twenty years ago) but the atheists who make such claims never seem to be able to cogently refute these points. It’s like argumentum ad urban mythus.

    Seems to me that you are just trying to hard. Battling fiercely the godless atheists and smacking them in the face with these “brutal” facts, err inconsequential philosophical points.

    I do admit it that refuting most atheist points is so easy that it’s hard not to get excited and swing harder than is necessary sometimes. It’s sort of like when one is playing ping pong, and the person keeps consistently returning slow easy balls that just float mid-air for the longest time, waiting to be pulverized.

    And not one single thing in the blog post proves anything, about anything.

    Well then, I’m glad you didn’t actually waste your time attempting to make an argument. I guess going by your logic that proves you make great arguments for atheism.

  18. Anon says:

    Well Jack this has been fun, but I’ll be leaving this sad story.

    On the fact of morals we must disagree, you can’t seem to think people can make good decisions with out a “god” in their life, so no point arguing that.

    Secondly, Stalin, dealt with some serve issues of paranoia, reason he killed all those religious people was because they were associated with an opposing political view that challenged him. Stalin believed the best way to rule is to be ruled unopposed specially by your people. Catholic Church did something very similar when they were in power, whether it was witch burning to keep dissenters quiet or just out right killing people who challenged the church.

    I will never say what Stalin did was right, but I also can not say that Stalin’s mission as you seem to assume was to purify the earth of religion, that just happened to be a side-effect of his political takeover.

    Pick up some books written about him and his life, look into how he thought before you judge a man on what you learned from your history book in highschool. Unfortunately you see he lead a secular government, killed a lot of people and see that as end of story and care not to look any deeper because it may hurt your case.

    Good day to your sir, I can only hope that you realize the ignorance of your beliefs and fill in the gaps with out the use of religious propaganda and instead knowledge which you can find oddly enough in those libraries I’m sure you’ve heard of.

    One thing in this fight for truth we must note is the fact that no side wants to be wrong, and lucky of religious people they it’s hard to prove them wrong when they don’t use logic to argue with.

    May your blind faith give you a happy life as my life in reality free from mythological and archaic beliefs grants me.

  19. kenetiks says:

    Very well. I’ve got time to kill.

    I’ll swing some slow ones your way. That should be easy for someone used to such blazing ping pong tournaments of intellect such as yourself.

    1. You seem to say that if God did not exist, your life would be meaningless. Well, feel free to exit if you’d like. I’m going to go have a meaningful dinner.

    2. Laughable. See my checkbook balance for a complete refutation to this repugnant assertion.

    3. A very odd assertion. For one, the human mind evolved in a world to interpret data for that world. To say the reality your brain evolved to interpret is just plain weird.

    4. I’m more ethical than your god. I feel better. Don’t you?

    5. You just gave a self a medal for defeating your own argument. Or did you mean that if you were freed from the belief in god that you would do these things?

    6. I fail to see your point here. Are you arguing for some sort of eugenics program that atheists subscribe to? Keeping in mind the horrible track record the religious have in the treatment of their fellow humans and animals, of course.

    7. Do I get some sort of IRS tax credit for being in a minority? In any case it’s not my fault that a lot people believe a lot of strange things. I’m also in the minority of people who don’t believe aliens managed to break the laws of physics and travel light years to check out some cattle.

    You’ll of course counter with some random off topic replies.

    And none of this, not one iota of your silliness explains why I behave ethically without fear of punishment or promise of reward.

  20. jackhudson says:

    On the fact of morals we must disagree, you can’t seem to think people can make good decisions with out a “god” in their life, so no point arguing that.

    I didn’t say people can’t make good decisions without God in their life; I said there is no objective way to make such a statement without God. You aren’t ‘arguing’ the point at all as your aren’t addressing it.

    Secondly, Stalin, dealt with some serve issues of paranoia, reason he killed all those religious people was because they were associated with an opposing political view that challenged him. Stalin believed the best way to rule is to be ruled unopposed specially by your people. Catholic Church did something very similar when they were in power, whether it was witch burning to keep dissenters quiet or just out right killing people who challenged the church.

    There is no comparison between Stalin and the Catholic Church. I’m not Catholic, so I am not obligated to defend them, but in the 1000 years of unchallenged rule in Europe, the Catholic Church didn’t harm a fraction of the people Stalin and other atheist regimes killed in 50 years or so.

    I will never say what Stalin did was right, but I also can not say that Stalin’s mission as you seem to assume was to purify the earth of religion, that just happened to be a side-effect of his political takeover.

    My Mother-in-law is Ukrainian – the deaths of 10 million of her fellow countrymen was the ‘side-effect of Stalin’s regime.

    Pick up some books written about him and his life, look into how he thought before you judge a man on what you learned from your history book in highschool. Unfortunately you see he lead a secular government, killed a lot of people and see that as end of story and care not to look any deeper because it may hurt your case.

    If it were just Stalin, you might have a point, but this is consistently the result of overtly atheist regimes since the French Revolution. Maybe you should read some history; I would start with Alistair McGrath’s The Twilight of Atheism.

    Good day to your sir, I can only hope that you realize the ignorance of your beliefs and fill in the gaps with out the use of religious propaganda and instead knowledge which you can find oddly enough in those libraries I’m sure you’ve heard of.

    Atheists keep accusing me of ignorance; then they come in here and don’t know history, can’t understand basic arguments, and flee back to their echo chambers when they can’t handle a intellectually tough and reasoned discussion. I am not the one hiding in ignorance.

    One thing in this fight for truth we must note is the fact that no side wants to be wrong, and lucky of religious people they it’s hard to prove them wrong when they don’t use logic to argue with.

    I suppose that is why you don’t use logic in your responses?

    Have a great night then.

  21. migrant says:

    @kenetiks

    Can you describe what the what “ethically” is and why anyone should be ethical at all?

  22. kenetiks says:

    @migrant

    If you can do the same for me with the word morality.

  23. migrant says:

    I’m not defending either side here, I’m just curious as to what ethical entails in your post. Can you please describe, as I have no idea what morality is.

  24. jackhudson says:

    1. You seem to say that if God did not exist, your life would be meaningless. Well, feel free to exit if you’d like. I’m going to go have a meaningful dinner.

    That’s your response? You are eating so life has meaning?

    2. Laughable. See my checkbook balance for a complete refutation to this repugnant assertion.

    Actually, I would recommend this site if you want to know your true wealth. Believe me, having travelled in the third world, I am certain you are wealthy enough – I know this because you own a computer.

    3. A very odd assertion. For one, the human mind evolved in a world to interpret data for that world. To say the reality your brain evolved to interpret is just plain weird.

    If your brain evolved, it evolved so that you would interpret data in manner that would benefit your survival – that wouldn’t necessarily include the ability to discern a true belief. If it did, then we would all have the same beliefs. After all, ants don’t have different ideas about what it means to be an ant. The same can be said for dogs, dolphins, and apes.

    4. I’m more ethical than your god. I feel better. Don’t you?

    What is the measure you are using to make that statement? If you can’t answer that question by pointing to a common objective standard, then you have proved my point.

    5. You just gave a self a medal for defeating your own argument. Or did you mean that if you were freed from the belief in god that you would do these things?

    If I were freed from a belief in God, believed that religion was fundamentally delusional and dangerous, and had the power of a government at my disposal, I might.

    6. I fail to see your point here. Are you arguing for some sort of eugenics program that atheists subscribe to? Keeping in mind the horrible track record the religious have in the treatment of their fellow humans and animals, of course.

    It’s a pretty simple point actually – what material or biological measure do you use to ascribe rights to humans? To confer equality?

    7. Do I get some sort of IRS tax credit for being in a minority? In any case it’s not my fault that a lot people believe a lot of strange things. I’m also in the minority of people who don’t believe aliens managed to break the laws of physics and travel light years to check out some cattle.

    Actually you aren’t in the minority of alien cattle rustlers despite what the tabloids say, which is a good thing. I consider this the weakest point. Nonetheless, if the desire to expand one’s impact isn’t an important part of one’s enjoyment of life, this point may not matter.

    And none of this, not one iota of your silliness explains why I behave ethically without fear of punishment or promise of reward.

    By what measure do you claim to behave ethically?

    Thanks for the reasoned responses.

  25. kenetiks says:

    >That’s your response? You are eating so life has >meaning?

    Why should it mean otherwise?

    >Actually, I would recommend this site if you want >to know your true wealth. Believe me, having >travelled in the third world, I am certain you are >wealthy enough – I know this because you own a >computer.

    I do. And if I lived penniless in rural swamps I would in all probability still be a skeptic and reject nonsense.

    >If your brain evolved, it evolved so that you would >interpret data in manner that would benefit your >survival – that wouldn’t necessarily include the >ability to discern a true belief. If it did, then >we would all have the same beliefs. After all, ants >don’t have different ideas about what it means to >be an ant. The same can be said for dogs, dolphins, >and apes.

    My brain interprets that there is a tree. I now believe that a tree is there. Animals have no context for your use of the term “belief”. They see, so they believe. I see a tree so I don’t walk into it. You can argue belief all you want, that tree really is there.

    >What is the measure you are using to make that >statement? If you can’t answer that question by >pointing to a common objective standard, then you >have proved my point.

    There is no absolute rules for morality. It’s a general rule of thumb. It’s that golden rule that precedes all religions and is even present in other species. Arguing over morality or absolute morality will get neither of us anywhere.

    >If I were freed from a belief in God, believed that >religion was fundamentally delusional and >dangerous, and had the power of a government at my >disposal, I might.

    Then you are an unethical person and I would be well advised to steer a wide path around you.

    >It’s a pretty simple point actually – what material >or biological measure do you use to ascribe rights >to humans? To confer equality?

    Are they human? If the answer is yes, then yes, they are equal to the same dignities afforded all humans. Do you conclude otherwise? I hope not.

    >Actually you aren’t in the minority of alien cattle >rustlers despite what the tabloids say, which is a >good thing. I consider this the weakest point. >Nonetheless, if the desire to expand one’s impact >isn’t an important part of one’s enjoyment of life, >this point may not matter.

    I meant that completely tongue-in-cheek.

    >By what measure do you claim to behave ethically?

    I feel pain so I must conclude that other humans and creatures do likewise. Given I am positing that we only have one existence. Why should I diminish the existence of another in this way? I would not want to be miserable for my short life, who am I to do this to another?

  26. migrant says:

    @kenetiks

    Your responses are pretty awful, I have to confess. I am trying to think of some myself, but I sincerely hope you are joking or perhaps you are mostly missing the point. For example you have completely misunderstood the section about belief. It is absolutely absurd, and your counter argument can hardly be called such a thing. It seems to be you who is countering with off-topic replies.

  27. kenetiks says:

    @migrant

    Then I will leave this in your capable hands.

    Goodnight.

  28. Jonathan says:

    “1. Your life has no meaning or purpose”

    This is a simple misunderstanding. Atheists doen’t say that your life has no meaning/purpose, what we say is that there is no predestined meaning or purpose to life or the universe. You make your own meaning/purpose throughout your life, and chances are that your meaning/purpose will change several times. So if your meaning/purpose changes throughout your life does this mean that you have more than one meaning/purpose or that you’re not clearly understanding your gods intent for your meaning/purpose?

    “2. You are an atheist by virtue of when and where you were born”

    This I agree with. What I don’t agree with is a few of your assertions in your explanation. Do you have any evidence for your assertions that “atheists are by in large concentrated in the more advanced industrial nations” and that “being an atheist really only works for the relatively wealthy and comfortable”? I also disagree with your tagline. I don’t have one but if I did it would probably be “There is no empirical evidence for a god, so you can undoubtedly, without any reprecussions to your non-existent immortal soul, spend more time on trying to live your life.” For an individual who is in the presence of hunger, disease, violence and a shorter lifespan does it make more sense to pray to a god who consistently ignores your pleas for help and then be told that he has mysterious ways or that you’re praying or believing wrong? I’m an atheist because the evidence so far supports the notion that a god does not and did not exist, not because I have the luxury to do so.

    “3. You can never be certain that what you believe to be true is true”

    This would be true if we were poofed into a reality that our brains hadn’t evolved to understand over the span of many, many years. However, because the brain, and our brain specifically, has evolved to perceive our reality then it would be an accurate instrument to perceive our reality. You are correct in your assertion that our cognitive equipment is faulty, but is this really an internal defeater of atheism? Wouldn’t it be more of an internal defeater of being created in one go by a creator? Did he create us all faulty, or is evolution simply doing what it does?

    “4. There is no objective way to evaluate moral choices”

    No answer at this time.

    “5. The most brutal regimes have been atheistic”

    You say that atheists like to point out the historical violence caused by religion and that these events do not prove or disprove the existence of god. I say that is a misrepresentation of what is being said. We don’t point it out to prove or disprove a god, we point it out because the violence is caused by believers of a specific religion professing that it is what god wants them to do; god is not the bad guy (he does not exist), the people using his name for an excuse to force their ways are. So when you say that some of the most brutal regimes were atheist it is irrelevant. Some people are good, some are bad.

    “6. Human rights and equality don’t exist”

    Well a counterpoint would be do human rights and equality exist in the bible? I find your comments about equal and unequal qualities rather bizarre. You say that a person with substantive intelligence would be more valuable that someone who is mentally defected and that a healthy person who can contribute to society would have more worth than an ill or handicapped person. What if you had an individual who had substantive intelligence and was physically handicapped, would they be of no worth; i.e Stephen Hawking? How do you judge whether a person has worth or no worth? Do you have any evidence to support your assertion that “wholly atheistic regimes have such atrocious human rights records?”

    “7. You will always be a small minority”

    That is a very biased assertion. Do you have any evidence that atheism is in its twilight years? You seem to be asserting things without backing them up with some form of evidence in most of your comments. Could you please answer the my questions to explain them better? Thank you.

  29. jackhudson says:

    This is a simple misunderstanding. Atheists doen’t say that your life has no meaning/purpose, what we say is that there is no predestined meaning or purpose to life or the universe. You make your own meaning/purpose throughout your life, and chances are that your meaning/purpose will change several times. So if your meaning/purpose changes throughout your life does this mean that you have more than one meaning/purpose or that you’re not clearly understanding your gods intent for your meaning/purpose?

    The problem here is the same problem atheists have with morality – if anybody can claim that any purpose they ascribe to their life is equally valid, then there is in fact no objective definition of the word purpose. If I think sitting on a couch all day napping is equally purposeful to doing brain surgery, by what objective measure could another deny this? If I think being high on meth is fulfilling, who is to say that I am wasting my life? Denying objective measures denies the means by which we evaluate what is important and worthwhile in life – and ultimately diminishes the way we live all together.

    In addition atheism actually reduces all human activity down to meaninglessness in the final measure. Imagine I devote my life to helping the poor and needy. How will the result of my work be different in 100 years, 1000 years, 100,000 years than that of a genocidal dictator? By any material measure, there will be no ultimate difference – no one will remember us differently as a result of the work we do here. The vast majority of humanity is here for a moment, than forgotten. And as I myself will no longer exist, it will certainly make no ultimate difference to me. So while helping others might make me feel better for the moment, ascribing meaning to such activity would be no more or less valid than ascribing meaning to hurting others if that is what brought me enjoyment or purpose.

    This I agree with. What I don’t agree with is a few of your assertions in your explanation. Do you have any evidence for your assertions that “atheists are by in large concentrated in the more advanced industrial nations” and that “being an atheist really only works for the relatively wealthy and comfortable”? I also disagree with your tagline. I don’t have one but if I did it would probably be “There is no empirical evidence for a god, so you can undoubtedly, without any reprecussions to your non-existent immortal soul, spend more time on trying to live your life.” For an individual who is in the presence of hunger, disease, violence and a shorter lifespan does it make more sense to pray to a god who consistently ignores your pleas for help and then be told that he has mysterious ways or that you’re praying or believing wrong? I’m an atheist because the evidence so far supports the notion that a god does not and did not exist, not because I have the luxury to do so.

    Actually, I think this pertains to concept I heard David Brooks talked about at the Aspen Ideas Conference. It’s called ‘existential danger’ and what it means is that people who have experienced tragic loss think differently about reality than do those who have led relatively comfortable lives. I don’t think this is the only reason people make such decisions (for example some may be atheists because of enduring bitterness toward God over some loss) but I do think this basic concept holds true for the most part. Being an atheist generally involves avoiding or denying issues concerning morality, meaning, and mortality – which is easier to do in the relative comfort of the West where we live long lives and pretend we can control the circumstances of our lives. And there is some empirical data to support it.

    I also think this explains why most atheists are young single men – the most fantasy prone people on the planet. 🙂

    Interestingly, I think Jesus discussed this human mentality a number of times – for example when He talked about how difficult it was for the wealthy to inherit the kingdom of God.

    This would be true if we were poofed into a reality that our brains hadn’t evolved to understand over the span of many, many years. However, because the brain, and our brain specifically, has evolved to perceive our reality then it would be an accurate instrument to perceive our reality.

    I think you are confusing experience with belief. One doesn’t need to have the capacity to develop beliefs to perceive reality – bacterium ‘perceive reality’ in that they can sense and react to stimuli in the environment. Belief formation is different; I can accurately perceive that people die when they eat certain red berries – but as a human I am unique in that I can develop a belief about why they die when they eat red berries. Maybe they die because the berries are cursed. Maybe they die because they committed some sin that keeps them from enjoying the berries. Maybe the berries have some substance in them that harms people. It doesn’t matter what one believes about the berries, providing the belief enhances survival – and thus there is no reason, from an evolutionary perspective to be able to discern a ‘true’ belief.

    And beliefs still underpin our activities today – science is based on certain unprovable beliefs, like the universe is amenable to understanding through observation and experimentation or that certain forces and phenomena act consistently throughout time and the universe, that mathematical models sufficiently represent reality, and so on.

    So we benefit greatly from the ability to develop beliefs about phenomena – but from a materialistic perspective, we have no reason to believe our cognitive equipment allows us to discern a true belief – so if we are speaking from a materialist perspective, we can never actually say, “ I know this belief is true.” Many of course assume this to be true, but that is an unfounded and inconsistent assumption.

    You are correct in your assertion that our cognitive equipment is faulty, but is this really an internal defeater of atheism? Wouldn’t it be more of an internal defeater of being created in one go by a creator? Did he create us all faulty, or is evolution simply doing what it does?

    First I want to note – if our cognitive equipment is indeed faulty, then everything that is derived from our cognitive equipment – the foundations of philosophy, science, etc – is by necessity suspect. It could not be otherwise. I personally don’t believe it to be the case because I am not an atheist.

    However, because I believe I have been given a mind capable of perceiving false beliefs and accurately discerning true ones by a capable designer, I can consistently and confidently say what I believe about God is true.

    You say that atheists like to point out the historical violence caused by religion and that these events do not prove or disprove the existence of god. I say that is a misrepresentation of what is being said. We don’t point it out to prove or disprove a god, we point it out because the violence is caused by believers of a specific religion professing that it is what god wants them to do; god is not the bad guy (he does not exist), the people using his name for an excuse to force their ways are. So when you say that some of the most brutal regimes were atheist it is irrelevant. Some people are good, some are bad.

    I agree we are all capable of doing evil. In fact, that is a fundamental claim of Christianity – humans have an inherent propensity to do evil. However recently, the New Atheists have gone about claiming that religious belief itself particularly inclines one to do evil – Dawkins made a documentary to that effect in The Root of All Evil. I am simply pointing out if you want to find enhancements to evil, there is no greater example of it occurring than in the godless regimes that dominated the mid-20th century (of which there are remnants to this day). This fact would completely defy the notion that eliminating religious belief would decrease the human capacity to do evil – as a matter of fact, godlessness seems to enhance it, excuses to the contrary. At best an atheist might claim there is nodiscernible difference between an atheist and a believer in terms of their propensity to do evil.

    Well a counterpoint would be do human rights and equality exist in the bible? I find your comments about equal and unequal qualities rather bizarre.

    Actually, that is not a counterpoint that is a Tu Quoque. Nonetheless, from the perspective of Christian theology, the Biblical imperative for equality would be that we all are created in God’s image, that we have equal worth to God, and are all subject to the same moral law.

    You say that a person with substantive intelligence would be more valuable that someone who is mentally defected and that a healthy person who can contribute to society would have more worth than an ill or handicapped person. What if you had an individual who had substantive intelligence and was physically handicapped, would they be of no worth; i.e Stephen Hawking? How do you judge whether a person has worth or no worth? Do you have any evidence to support your assertion that “wholly atheistic regimes have such atrocious human rights records?”

    Well, even there you make my point – not all handicaps are equal. A Downs syndrome child is not the mental equal of Stephen Hawking (then again, neither are we). A person who has to be medically cared for, but who doesn’t provide the benefits to a society a Hawkings does would obviously not by a material measure be ‘equal’ in any material or biological respect. Personally I measure the value of person in that I consider all persons to be made in the image of God and thus all having an intrinsic eternal value; I see no basis for equality from a material perspective – how can you as an atheist ascribe ‘equality’ to persons without attributing it to an intrinsic immaterial value?

    That is a very biased assertion. Do you have any evidence that atheism is in its twilight years? You seem to be asserting things without backing them up with some form of evidence in most of your comments. Could you please answer the my questions to explain them better? Thank you.

    As I pointed out earlier, I think Alistair McGrath did a fine job of describing the diminishing influence of atheism worldwide. But I think these graphics give a pretty good indication of the future, especially when compared side by side.

    Birthrate by country

    Religiosity by Country

    Thanks again for your reasonable and civil comments Jonathan.

  30. jcarlson says:

    1. Your Life Has no Meaning or Purpose

    I don’t think any atheist has ever criticized a religious person for trying to find meaning in their life. We just don’t understand why it’s necessary to invent a completely arbitrary supernatural being to do it. My life has meaning to me, and to others, and to claim that that is “pretend meaning” just seems condescending. I understand good and well that if we don’t find a way off this rock somehow the human race will not survive the death of our sun, if we even make it that far. Even if we succeed in that endeavor, the likelyhood of us surviving indefinately is practically nil. But why does this mean that we can’t find meaning in our individual lives?

    Even on a cosmic scale, humanity can find meaning without the need of invoking a deity. As the late great Carl Sagan said, “The cosmos is also within us; we’re made of star-stuff. We are a way for the cosmos to know itself.” That is a pretty cool perspective to take on life, and I know, for me at least, it motivates me to learn as much as I can about the world we live in. That is my “meaning”. What meaning does religion give you, anyway? Most, especially those of the Abrahamic variety, are entrenched in a belief that this life…wait for it… ultimately doesn’t matter and the ultimate goal is death so you can get a better one! What kind of meaning is that?

    2. You are an Atheist by Virtue of When and Where You Were Born

    I agree with the general premise of this. Chances are much lower I’d be an atheist if I was born in Iran, for sure. Atheists are in general also more affluent (though certainly not all are). However, the number one trait that lends itself to atheism regardless of where you are in the world is not affluence, it’s education. It’s an unfortunate circumstance of the world we live in that the educated are typically more wealthy than those who aren’t. When you can understand the world from a scientific perspective, you are much more predisposed to atheism. I also find it surprising that you make the claim that Religion in poor countries somehow gives people “dignity”. Religion is, from a contemporary and historical perspective, essentially a tool for maintaining class separation and placating the poor by reinforcing the idea that their life doesn’t matter because they’re getting a new one (But while they’re here, they should give their 10% right?).

    3. You can Never be Certain that what You Believe to be True is True

    The flip side of not believing in a God who grants me the ability to discern what is true is that I don’t believe in demons who are trying to fool me either. Descartes was correct, in principle, certainly, but that doesn’t mean I need to walk through life believing it’s all an illusion. We experience reality via our perceptions. I agree, our cognitive abilities aren’t perfect, and the brain does some crazy stuff (Near death experiences and hallucinations come to mind). That’s why in academia we have things like peer review and objective standards of evidence, because they allow us to, not completely, but to the best of our ability, discern what is true.

    4. There is no Objective Way to Evaluate Moral Choices

    Personally, I agree there’s no truly objective way to evaluate moral choices. Why this is a problem is what I don’t understand. The history of human morality is one of groups of disagreeing people impressing their subjective wills upon each other. This, by the way, does not mean that the method of coming to these moral opinions is arbitrary, as you claim. There are very un-arbitrary ways to frame a moral system, ethics courses are full of them.

    Why does the fact that the idea of “wrong” does not exist in an objective sense mean we can’t say people should act a certain way? If I think something is wrong in my own moral system I have every right to tell someone they should act in accordance with it. If my subjective moral system is in agreement with enough of the other members of my society’s subjective moral systems, then we can probably even compel someone to act a certain way, or at least punish them for not doing so. I’m curious how you can claim objective morality exists at all when moral systems have so demonstrably differed so radically from century to century, society to society, and person to person!

    Furthermore, what about God existing would ensure objective morality? Is good mandated by god because it is good? Or is it good because it is mandated by god? This problem is an ancient one, predating Christianity, in the form of Euryptho’s Dilemma. To date, I have yet to hear a satisfactory answer. If the first, then the so called “objective standard of good” exists outside god, who is then unnecessary for it’s existence. If the second, “objective good” is essentially arbitrary and not objective at all! God could will genocide, rape, slavery, and the slaughter of innocents and it be considered good (In fact it appears he does so many times in the old testament). “Objective Morality” would be nothing more than God’s subjective morality!

    5. The Most Brutal Regimes have been Atheistic

    I’m going to reprint a post I made a few weeks ago in response to a similar claim, if you don’t mind:

    “Absolutely, there is no doubt that especially in the first half of the last century there have been horrible atrocities committed by some of the world’s most prominent atheists at the time. And certainly, without a truly clairvoyant knowledge of the inner thoughts of Stalin, Pot, and their ilk, one can speculate that their true motivations were founded in an underlying atheistic hatred of all religion and a desire to extinguish it from their territories.

    “It is also true that, with respect to the many instances of religious genocide and oppression over the millenia, such as the christian persecution by the Romans, the crusades, the Inquisition, witch trials, the Islamic conquest and recent resurgence in Islamic extremism, one can speculate on the true intentions of the leadership presiding over those atrocities, and come to the conclusion that for them, it wasn’t a religious motivation at all, but rather a desire for political influence and/or more vassals to fill their coffers. Indeed, this is my own personal belief.

    “This of course, begs the question: How can anyone make the claim that religion is responsible for far more deaths and atrocities committed throughout history than atheism without knowing the true motivations of the evil men in power who initiated these movements?

    “The answer, I postulate, lies in the simple fact that the personal motivations of these men really didn’t matter. It takes a large base of support from the populace to commit atrocities on such a scale, and, because most humans don’t readily relish the idea of taking another life for no apparent reason, the people must be sold. They must be given motivation which is strong enough to overcome their natural resistance to slay others in cold blood. Without a doubt, in every instance mentioned attributed to religion, this motivating factor was the will of a deity. The leadership may have had ulterior motivations, but in the minds of the people they were acting under the mandate of God.

    “It is much more difficult I think, in the case of the genocides under Stalin, Pot, et al., to make the case that the people were motivated by mere atheism in their support for their leaders. No, indeed it was the worship of the state, and the perceived threat to its superiority that religion posed, that they marshaled under. Wikipedia’s entry regarding Pot’s exterminations in Cambodia attests to this: His supporters believed in earnest that the people they killed were members of “reactionary religions” which were “detrimental to Democratic Kampuchea and Kampuchean people”.

    “Christopher Hitchens is somewhat famous for promoting the saying “Good people do good things and evil people do evil things; but to make a good person do evil, that takes religion”. While I’m not sure I’m in complete agreement (I think there are other things that have the potential to make good people do evil things, perhaps even, in rare cases, atheism), it seems to me that if the worship of the state which was so heavily promoted in the communist ideology of the 20th century was not religion, it was certainly something very much like it. And it seems that a comprehensive view of history shows that when it comes to genocide, oppression, and other implementations of crimes against humanity, there is no easier or more effective banner to rally the people under than religion.

    6. Human Rights and Equality Don’t Exist

    Human Rights and Equality exist because we created them, just like morality. Largely a product of the enlightenment, a secular movement, the rights and equality we enjoy today certainly don’t owe anything to the religions of the era from whence it sprang. Your faith values these things because of the sweeping influence this secular movement had on society, not because your faith had an influence on the movement. Certainly, some of the prominent philosophers of the enlightenment were Christians, but there were equal parts deist and atheist as well. And all these people were fed up with the state of affairs of the day, especially, ironically, the power granted to certain religious institutions and the freedom to persecute they enjoyed.

    7. You Will Always be a small Minority

    Non-believers are now, as a group, larger than Catholics, Jews, African Americans, and many other minority groups in the United States. Numbers have been steadily growing for decades. Worldwide, no doubt we’ll be a minority for a long time to come, but in the developed world, including the US, numbers are growing every decade and we may very well be a majority before my lifetime is over. It’s already the case in most of Western Europe.

    Regardless, whether we stay a minority or not, our position is still the one of rationality.

  31. The antithesis says:

    Funny.

    I find life more meaningless with god than without. What possible purpose could our lives have with an omnipotent, omniscient being roaming about? If god exists, we are redundant, the strangled syllables of a stutterer. We would have no reason to exist except to serve god. But god is omnipotent. It requires service from us the way a whale needs swimming lessons from a drowned rat. That is so ridiculous it is stupid to even consider it. Without god, our lives can have meaning. We can take action, make decision, and reap the benefits or accept the consequences for what we do. With god, we might as well stay seated with folded hands.

  32. Troy says:

    EPIC FAIL of an article!!!

    Honestly, if these claims hadn’t been said 9000 times by every ignorant christian, maybe they would be arguments, but they have all been refuted THOUSANDS of times!!!

    I don’t even feel the need to go over each point, because everybody else has soundly refuted each of those points, so the only input i have is if you took any of those points seriously, you sir, are retarted, and for the guy who wrote those points, EPIC FAIL!!!

  33. kenetiks says:

    @The antithesis

    LOL

  34. Jutter says:

    From what I’ve gathered, “God” has a plan for you and that’s to go and tell everyone about this God and the plan he has for them. This doesn’t qualify as finding purpose, in the same way that joining a pyramid scheme doesn’t qualify as landing a job. And indeed people often project something narcisistic and selfserving onto this vapid holy chainmail. (I believe God put me on this earth to be a personal shopper, or some drivel like that). I can make myself usefull, experiences can be worthwhile to me, or there might be someone who I mean the world to. But the purpose we ourselves ascribe to ourselves or others supposedly doesn’t cut it, because -nonono there MUST be more-. Meaning ain’t meaning unless it’s magical holy superduper meaning. The idea that life is meaningless without God and/or an afterlife, is as silly to me as the assumption that icecream would only be tasty if Lady Gaga made it, and you can keep on licking it forever.

    That atheism somehow equals communism if not Stalinism is downright preposterous. Joseph, and other totalitarian clowns like him, provided atheist with yet another flavor of nonsense to avoid, no matter how much you’d like to warp it into a reason to embrace ancient flavors of nonsense like Christianity instead.

    But I’m likely wasting my time here. Chances are you’ll still act as though no brainers like don’t kill me or don’t steal my stuff demand divine inspiration. An you’ll continue to spew bigotry about atheists in the name of righteousness.

  35. an anon says:

    Every single one of your claims has been exhaustively refuted. I shall not be wasting my time going through them, but i must add that this is the typical attack by ignorant theists who are judgmental and go as far as to say that an atheist’s life has no purpose! THIS IS EXTREMELY OFFENSIVE! So you think that without some kind of imaginary sky daddy we can’t give meaning and purpose to our lives?! Theists always seem to think they are up on some kind of pedestal, that they are better because they believe.
    May I suggest you think about you posts on this subject a bit more thoroughly next time, and try and come up with something that does not portray you as a complete and utter idiot.

  36. Jutter says:

    Oh… and atheism only being easy for people in the western industrialized world… the USA fits that picture poorly, but even if it were true, the idea that you need to be uneducated and desperate to embrace theism is hardly a reccomendation.

  37. Patrick says:

    Oi! Right on original poster.
    It’s good to see that someone can point out how unclean and wrong the atheist are. For those who live in America’s it’s God’s country, and it is about time somebody beat the God into them.

    These atheist poison our society with their lies about how the bible is wrong or fiction. As we all know they’ll burn in hell, but as good christens we should force them to believe so they may receive Gods good graces and be saved.

  38. kenetiks says:

    @patrick

    You best be trollin.

  39. Jutter says:

    He might be trolling. He might be a decadent sweaty moronic fatso with a crappy gassguzzler that steers like a cow. The latter might be even more plausible than the former.

  40. Patrick says:

    Figures you godless folk can’t handle the truth and would result to attacking me.

  41. Jutter says:

    If that ignited an eating frenzy, my apologies.

  42. jackhudson says:

    First off, I have to say thanks for your tone and tenor jcarlson; your initial threat to ‘face rape’ me had me thinking you were a typical frothing at the mouth atheist. Guess you managed to reign in that ‘ol atheist morality’ a bit. To wit:

    I don’t think any atheist has ever criticized a religious person for trying to find meaning in their life. We just don’t understand why it’s necessary to invent a completely arbitrary supernatural being to do it. My life has meaning to me, and to others, and to claim that that is “pretend meaning” just seems condescending. I understand good and well that if we don’t find a way off this rock somehow the human race will not survive the death of our sun, if we even make it that far. Even if we succeed in that endeavor, the likelyhood of us surviving indefinately is practically nil. But why does this mean that we can’t find meaning in our individual lives?

    I said in my first post that the typical rejoinder here by atheists is ‘I can find my own meaning’ – and I agree, you can imagine a meaning for your life – It doesn’t mean your life has actual meaning (as in it matters in the eventuality that you existed) or purpose (as in you were born for a reason and the universe would ultimately be diminished by your absence) but that may not matter to you. You may be satisfied with knowing everything you do is short lived and irrelevant to the ultimate workings of the universe. But this idea of meaning would be no more significant than a mad man who imagined himself to be Napoleon – he might be satisfied he is Napoleon, but that doesn’t actually make him Napoleon.

    Even on a cosmic scale, humanity can find meaning without the need of invoking a deity. As the late great Carl Sagan said, “The cosmos is also within us; we’re made of star-stuff. We are a way for the cosmos to know itself.” That is a pretty cool perspective to take on life, and I know, for me at least, it motivates me to learn as much as I can about the world we live in. That is my “meaning”. What meaning does religion give you, anyway? Most, especially those of the Abrahamic variety, are entrenched in a belief that this life…wait for it… ultimately doesn’t matter and the ultimate goal is death so you can get a better one! What kind of meaning is that?

    I appreciate Sagan’s religious overtones (he was a favorite when I was an agnostic), but you know and I know the ‘cosmos’ is completely indifferent to our existence. In fact all indications are the cosmos is expanding to become an energy-less undifferentiated wasteland. Whatever you imagine the universe ‘knows’ about itself, that knowledge is short-lived as well.

    The meaning Christ gives is that our knowledge of the universe isn’t lost to the degradations of time, and that in fact we can know the author of the universe and more deeply understand Him and His creation for an eternity – knowledge without end. This matters because it means the knowledge you are so excited to gain won’t be lost to you after few decades when your mind begins to decay and you forget whatever it is you were excited about. That is the truth that excites me. If I am wrong then it won’t matter in a few short years whether I am wrong; if you are right, it won’t matter that you are right.

    2. You are an Atheist by Virtue of When and Where You Were Born

    I agree with the general premise of this. Chances are much lower I’d be an atheist if I was born in Iran, for sure. Atheists are in general also more affluent (though certainly not all are). However, the number one trait that lends itself to atheism regardless of where you are in the world is not affluence, it’s education. It’s an unfortunate circumstance of the world we live in that the educated are typically more wealthy than those who aren’t. When you can understand the world from a scientific perspective, you are much more predisposed to atheism.

    What you get wrong here is that the most affluent and well educated nation (the US) is also one of the most religious; so education doesn’t necessarily diminish religious belief. However, material comfort in a society wherein the groundwork for civilization has already laid allows atheists to maintain their illusions that the truths that created those societies to begin with are no longer necessary.

    I also find it surprising that you make the claim that Religion in poor countries somehow gives people “dignity”. Religion is, from a contemporary and historical perspective, essentially a tool for maintaining class separation and placating the poor by reinforcing the idea that their life doesn’t matter because they’re getting a new one (But while they’re here, they should give their 10% right?).

    I am surprised that someone who claims there is no link between atheism and the ravages of Stalin and Mao would articulate a Marxist cliché about religion being a means of class oppression by the bourgeoisie. Of course you are wrong here historically – whether we look at the abolitionists or those who sacrificed their own lives to protect the Jews in Germany or the motivations Martin Luther King Jr., faith has been a motivator to elevate the oppressed in society. In fact, as someone who worked in slum schools outside Nairobi, I have witnessed for myself how those of faith are motivated by their Christian beliefs to serve the most down trodden – I didn’t see any atheists working there motivated by their beliefs.

    3. You can Never be Certain that what You Believe to be True is True

    The flip side of not believing in a God who grants me the ability to discern what is true is that I don’t believe in demons who are trying to fool me either. Descartes was correct, in principle, certainly, but that doesn’t mean I need to walk through life believing it’s all an illusion. We experience reality via our perceptions. I agree, our cognitive abilities aren’t perfect, and the brain does some crazy stuff (Near death experiences and hallucinations come to mind). That’s why in academia we have things like peer review and objective standards of evidence, because they allow us to, not completely, but to the best of our ability, discern what is true.

    The belief that peer review and objective standards of evidence allow us to accurately understand reality are also unprovable assertions that are derived from the same cognitive equipment you admit are faulty. The problem with this as a defeater is that every counter claim is the product of the brain you admit is flawed. The only way you get around it is to believe your brain was designed to at some level discern a true belief – and evolution can’t be said to have given you such equipment. We all have to assume at some level we have this ability – it’s just that your assumption of it isn’t consistent with the reality you believe in, mine is.

    4. There is no Objective Way to Evaluate Moral Choices

    Personally, I agree there’s no truly objective way to evaluate moral choices. Why this is a problem is what I don’t understand. The history of human morality is one of groups of disagreeing people impressing their subjective wills upon each other. This, by the way, does not mean that the method of coming to these moral opinions is arbitrary, as you claim. There are very un-arbitrary ways to frame a moral system, ethics courses are full of them.

    First off, let’s pause for a moment and recognize you are admitting this point is accurate (actually I think you have done that with most of my points, but you are explicit here). The rest is just your explanation of why this brutal truth doesn’t matter. Of course if you are right, this entire conversation doesn’t matter, but I digress.

    Why does the fact that the idea of “wrong” does not exist in an objective sense mean we can’t say people should act a certain way? If I think something is wrong in my own moral system I have every right to tell someone they should act in accordance with it. If my subjective moral system is in agreement with enough of the other members of my society’s subjective moral systems, then we can probably even compel someone to act a certain way, or at least punish them for not doing so. I’m curious how you can claim objective morality exists at all when moral systems have so demonstrably differed so radically from century to century, society to society, and person to person!

    Our ideas about gravity have changed “radically from century to century, society to society, and person to person” – does that mean gravity doesn’t objectively exist? And the methodology you are describing to determine morality means slavery of black people was moral, because enough people believed it was moral. It means the Jewish holocaust was moral, because a sufficient number of Germans were convinced such a thing was moral. In fact, by your own description, nothing can ever be immoral. What if tomorrow our society decided sex with children was acceptable – does that in your mind mean it would become ‘moral’? Do you see how the atheist subjective notion of morality undermines the actual application of moral standards?

    Furthermore, what about God existing would ensure objective morality? Is good mandated by god because it is good? Or is it good because it is mandated by god? This problem is an ancient one, predating Christianity, in the form of Euryptho’s Dilemma. To date, I have yet to hear a satisfactory answer. If the first, then the so called “objective standard of good” exists outside god, who is then unnecessary for it’s existence. If the second, “objective good” is essentially arbitrary and not objective at all! God could will genocide, rape, slavery, and the slaughter of innocents and it be considered good (In fact it appears he does so many times in the old testament). “Objective Morality” would be nothing more than God’s subjective morality!

    The problem you are articulating doesn’t diminish the need for an eternal, external standard to exist for morality to exist. In fact I have just shown how your own description of morality actually eradicates notions of morality. Whether or not good proceeds from the nature of God or by His command is irrelevant to the necessity of His existence for morals to exist.

    5. The Most Brutal Regimes have been Atheistic

    “The answer, I postulate, lies in the simple fact that the personal motivations of these men really didn’t matter. It takes a large base of support from the populace to commit atrocities on such a scale, and, because most humans don’t readily relish the idea of taking another life for no apparent reason, the people must be sold. They must be given motivation which is strong enough to overcome their natural resistance to slay others in cold blood. Without a doubt, in every instance mentioned attributed to religion, this motivating factor was the will of a deity. The leadership may have had ulterior motivations, but in the minds of the people they were acting under the mandate of God.

    “It is much more difficult I think, in the case of the genocides under Stalin, Pot, et al., to make the case that the people were motivated by mere atheism in their support for their leaders. No, indeed it was the worship of the state, and the perceived threat to its superiority that religion posed, that they marshaled under. Wikipedia’s entry regarding Pot’s exterminations in Cambodia attests to this: His supporters believed in earnest that the people they killed were members of “reactionary religions” which were “detrimental to Democratic Kampuchea and Kampuchean people”.

    “Christopher Hitchens is somewhat famous for promoting the saying “Good people do good things and evil people do evil things; but to make a good person do evil, that takes religion”. While I’m not sure I’m in complete agreement (I think there are other things that have the potential to make good people do evil things, perhaps even, in rare cases, atheism), it seems to me that if the worship of the state which was so heavily promoted in the communist ideology of the 20th century was not religion, it was certainly something very much like it. And it seems that a comprehensive view of history shows that when it comes to genocide, oppression, and other implementations of crimes against humanity, there is no easier or more effective banner to rally the people under than religion.

    This seems to be the crux of you point here – and you are certainly wrong in the beginning. There is no evidence humans “must be given motivation which is strong enough to overcome their natural resistance to slay others in cold blood.” Humans readily slay others in cold blood – war is the norm, not the exception in human history. We kill for land; we kill for food, for control, for mates, for being disrespected, to better our fortunes, for the gods, because we have anger issues. It’s not hard to motivate people to kill – it is hard to keep them from violence – you just happen to live in a place, and at a time in history that makes killing seem unusual. If you travel in the third world at all, you quickly come to realize that casual death is the norm. You are privileged to live in a society founded by rare folk who believed humans had fundamental dignity – it is that privilege that allows you to make such a silly statement.

    To the arbitrary idea that somehow the folks in overtly atheistic societies were ‘worshipping the state’, I am in whole agreement. That is because all humans are inherently religious – we are inclined to worship something. Take away God, (As Solzhenitsyn said above) and people turn to something else to worship – the state, material wealth, scientific advancement. It’s not that atheists believe believe in ‘one less god’ then Christians, it’s that they have replaced the notion of a transcendent eternal God with some other religious object like the state or science – not so different than animists or pagans in their worship. Atheism unchecked unleashes our worst natures – history has proven that almost more than we can bear. Atheists in the West maintain some semblance of civility only because they have borrowed a morality from a Christian culture – so far.

    6. Human Rights and Equality Don’t Exist

    Human Rights and Equality exist because we created them, just like morality. Largely a product of the enlightenment, a secular movement, the rights and equality we enjoy today certainly don’t owe anything to the religions of the era from whence it sprang. Your faith values these things because of the sweeping influence this secular movement had on society, not because your faith had an influence on the movement. Certainly, some of the prominent philosophers of the enlightenment were Christians, but there were equal parts deist and atheist as well. And all these people were fed up with the state of affairs of the day, especially, ironically, the power granted to certain religious institutions and the freedom to persecute they enjoyed.

    Well If the Declaration is to be believed (or or John Locke, or Jefferson) men are created equal and endowed with certain inalienable rights. It is a derivation of ideas about natural law that we are born with certain rights which the King and the state cannot transgress. The idea is an essential bulwark against the power of an oppressive political power. If we merely ‘created them’ as you assert (I don’t know who it is who you think created them or how – I suspect you don’t either) then the entire foundation of American (and later Western) political philosophy is a sham. If atheism is right then there is no actual equality or natural rights – and no argument incidentally (of the sort made by Lincoln and Dr. King) for the majority to respect those rights. Inadvertently you have just shown how atheism undermines fundamental liberties. Again.

    7. You Will Always be a small Minority

    Non-believers are now, as a group, larger than Catholics, Jews, African Americans, and many other minority groups in the United States. Numbers have been steadily growing for decades. Worldwide, no doubt we’ll be a minority for a long time to come, but in the developed world, including the US, numbers are growing every decade and we may very well be a majority before my lifetime is over. It’s already the case in most of Western Europe.

    I would love to see the numbers you are citing – though I do like the way you separate out religious believers for the purpose of this point – and strangely don’t mention evangelicals or Protestants.

    And as far as Western Europe is concerned, it is fading – they are aging and not replacing themselves – the number of people in religious countries are proliferating at a much greater rate, and knocking at Europe’s door. In your lifetime, you will most likely see Europe fade away, which will be a sad thing I think, but expected in their abandonment of their spiritual foundations.

    .

  43. jackhudson says:

    Every single one of your claims has been exhaustively refuted. I shall not be wasting my time going through them, but i must add that this is the typical attack by ignorant theists who are judgmental and go as far as to say that an atheist’s life has no purpose! THIS IS EXTREMELY OFFENSIVE! So you think that without some kind of imaginary sky daddy we can’t give meaning and purpose to our lives?! Theists always seem to think they are up on some kind of pedestal, that they are better because they believe.
    May I suggest you think about you posts on this subject a bit more thoroughly next time, and try and come up with something that does not portray you as a complete and utter idiot.

    Just a little point of order her because this whiny post is particularly annoying. If you have a refutation, state it – otherwise for the purposes of this blog you have refuted nothing, you have just stomped your feet.

  44. jackhudson says:

    I find life more meaningless with god than without. What possible purpose could our lives have with an omnipotent, omniscient being roaming about? If god exists, we are redundant, the strangled syllables of a stutterer. We would have no reason to exist except to serve god. But god is omnipotent. It requires service from us the way a whale needs swimming lessons from a drowned rat. That is so ridiculous it is stupid to even consider it. Without god, our lives can have meaning. We can take action, make decision, and reap the benefits or accept the consequences for what we do. With god, we might as well stay seated with folded hands.

    I appreciate strawmen as much as the next, but no one has claimed that our purpose depends on God needing us to serve Him. The common Christian confessional as far as our purpose is concerned is that we exist to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. I find it more than ironic how often atheists will find meaning, as jcarlson claimed, in knowing the ‘cosmos’ which could care less about our existence, and which is fading away under our feet, and then turn around and mock the idea that we would enjoy the source of knowledge about the cosmos, who cares deeply about us, and will exist forever. I mean if both exist, which one would be more worthy of our attention and devotion?

  45. 1.) Your life has no meaning or purpose

    Well, darn, now I’ll have to go kill myself kthxbai! Seriously, though, how many CHRISTIANS lead lives that are meaningful? Most of them wake up, go to work, eat, crap, sleep, waste space in church once a week, and that’s it. Yet these walking human lumps actually imagine that they are too valuable to die, that they will be granted the privilege of living forever just because they bothered to believe in a particular deity.

    2.) …atheists are by in large concentrated in the more advanced industrial nations.

    This is true. If I had been born and raised in a poverty-stricken 3rd World nation where Christianity reigns supreme (often blended with ancient native superstitions and spiritualism), I would probably follow that religion, having been taught that heaven is the only way out of my abject poverty, and lacking the education to figure out that heaven is make-believe. Religion preys on the poor and the ignorant because they are the most likely to believe any old thing they are told. Once people are given education and choices, they start to see that the Bible cannot be trusted.

    3.) In fact, there is much reason to believe our cognitive equipment is faulty.

    In that case, there is much reason to believe that the religion you perceive to be correct, probably isn’t, for you are perceiving it with faulty cognitive equipment–the same equipment that is also telling you that God is real.

    4.) There is no objective way to evaluate moral choices.

    Sure there is. If what you are doing brings harm to another person, then chances are you should stop doing it. Murder, rape, child abuse, stealing, all these things hurt people and result in a breakdown of the social order. If a society is to function, then there must be rules in place so that everyone can live harmoniously and cooperatively together, without the fear of being hurt in some way. Other social animals (wolves, horses, dolphins, etc.) have rules of proper behavior, why wouldn’t humans?

    5.) The most brutal regimes have been atheistic

    Oh, you mean like Hitler? Such a good Catholic boy. Let’s not forget about several hundred years of Inquisitions, witch hunts, and wholesale killing of heretics by the Christian church. Let’s not forget that slavery was condoned by many Christians, and that now they are targeting gays as the objects of their hatred.

    6.) Human rights and equality don’t exist

    The Bible says NOTHING about human rights and equality. In fact, Paul expounds greatly on the importance of the hierarchy: women are under the authority of men, men are under the authority of Jesus Christ, and God is above Jesus. (Not sure where the Holy Spook fits in.) Slaves are to obey their masters, wives must obey their husbands, and children must obey their parents. Then there are various church authorities–pastors, deacons, elders, etc.–whom the lowly pew-warmers must obey. There is no mention of human rights here, it is all about submission and obedience, domination and authority. God, himself, regularly tramples the rights of humans by slaughtering them wholesale all through the Bible. So where do Christians get off saying that ATHEISTS are against human rights? Where does GOD defend, condone, and uphold human rights?

    7.) You will always be a small minority

    People who wanted slavery in America to end, started out as a small minority. So did those who wanted women to vote, or to give blacks the same rights as whites, or to give gays the same rights as straight people. A minority can become a majority given enough time and incentive. Don’t forget, even CHRISTIANS were at one time a small minority!

    Whoever wrote this article did not think things through very well.

  46. jackhudson says:

    Well, darn, now I’ll have to go kill myself kthxbai! Seriously, though, how many CHRISTIANS lead lives that are meaningful? Most of them wake up, go to work, eat, crap, sleep, waste space in church once a week, and that’s it. Yet these walking human lumps actually imagine that they are too valuable to die, that they will be granted the privilege of living forever just because they bothered to believe in a particular deity.

    If atheism is right, their lives are as meaningful (or meaningless) as anyone else’s – that would be the point. We can only measure whether their lives have meaning if we have an objective measure.

    2.) …atheists are by in large concentrated in the more advanced industrial nations.
    This is true. If I had been born and raised in a poverty-stricken 3rd World nation where Christianity reigns supreme (often blended with ancient native superstitions and spiritualism), I would probably follow that religion, having been taught that heaven is the only way out of my abject poverty, and lacking the education to figure out that heaven is make-believe. Religion preys on the poor and the ignorant because they are the most likely to believe any old thing they are told. Once people are given education and choices, they start to see that the Bible cannot be trusted.

    Well, for the third time, the US is the wealthiest and most educated nation in the world – the fact that they are by and large Christian defies the notion that education and wealth automatically diminishes the ability to believe. Atheists concentrate in Western countries because they afford atheists the comfort to remain in their atheism – it doesn’t cause them to be atheists. Poverty and tragedy defy the atheist notion that one can simply ‘not worry and enjoy life without God ‘– that is only true if one lives in comfort already.

    3.) In fact, there is much reason to believe our cognitive equipment is faulty.
    In that case, there is much reason to believe that the religion you perceive to be correct, probably isn’t, for you are perceiving it with faulty cognitive equipment–the same equipment that is also telling you that God is real.

    The notion that I have capable cognitive equipment is consistent with the belief I have been given such equipment by a capable designer – it would not be consistent with atheism. I have confidence I can discern a true belief because I can. An atheist cannot say this and be consistent.

    4.) There is no objective way to evaluate moral choices.
    Sure there is. If what you are doing brings harm to another person, then chances are you should stop doing it. Murder, rape, child abuse, stealing, all these things hurt people and result in a breakdown of the social order. If a society is to function, then there must be rules in place so that everyone can live harmoniously and cooperatively together, without the fear of being hurt in some way.

    ‘Chances are? That is your defense of an objective moral criteria? DO you understand the meaning of the word objective?

    Other social animals (wolves, horses, dolphins, etc.) have rules of proper behavior, why wouldn’t humans?

    They don’t have ‘rules’ they have instincts and behaviors. They don’t decide how to act. And wolves will kill other wolves from other packs for food and territory, and dolphins will gang rape female dolphins. Is that the sort of rules you were thinking of?

    5.) The most brutal regimes have been atheistic
    Oh, you mean like Hitler? Such a good Catholic boy. Let’s not forget about several hundred years of Inquisitions, witch hunts, and wholesale killing of heretics by the Christian church. Let’s not forget that slavery was condoned by many Christians, and that now they are targeting gays as the objects of their hatred.

    Apparently you missed the previous posts, but there is no comparison number wise between the deaths caused by the Inquisitions and witch trials (the low thousands) and the deaths cause by atheistic regimes like Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, Mengistu and the Ils. (tens of millions). And slavery was opposed by many Christians (even ended almost single handedly by some like William Wilberforce), and Christians don’t ‘target’ gays, they oppose their political agenda.

    6.) Human rights and equality don’t exist
    The Bible says NOTHING about human rights and equality. In fact, Paul expounds greatly on the importance of the hierarchy: women are under the authority of men, men are under the authority of Jesus Christ, and God is above Jesus. (Not sure where the Holy Spook fits in.) Slaves are to obey their masters, wives must obey their husbands, and children must obey their parents. Then there are various church authorities–pastors, deacons, elders, etc.–whom the lowly pew-warmers must obey. There is no mention of human rights here, it is all about submission and obedience, domination and authority. God, himself, regularly tramples the rights of humans by slaughtering them wholesale all through the Bible. So where do Christians get off saying that ATHEISTS are against human rights? Where does GOD defend, condone, and uphold human rights?

    Paul doesn’t say ‘women are under the authority of men’ – and being under authority does not mean we are unequal – everyone is under some sort of authority. In fact, that is one way we are equal – we are all under the authority of God. And because we were all created in His image, we all have equal worth. And He endowed us with certain capabilities, commanded us to do certain things, and allowed us the freedom to choose whether we would subject ourselves to Him, thus we have equality, rights, and liberty.

    7.) You will always be a small minority
    People who wanted slavery in America to end, started out as a small minority.

    Actually no – they easily made up half if not more of the country.

    So did those who wanted women to vote, or to give blacks the same rights as whites, or to give gays the same rights as straight people. A minority can become a majority given enough time and incentive. Don’t forget, even CHRISTIANS were at one time a small minority!

    Atheism has actually had its day in the sun; it’s fading now. It’s not impossible it would revive, but there is no evidence in the past or in current trends it will ever be anything other than a loud minority.

  47. jackhudson says:

    By the way, have you folks noticed how much you parrot one another? I mean for ‘skeptics’ you all seem to mindlessly repeat the same points again and again and accept ‘refutations’ from anyone you consider an authority figure. Has it occurred to you that you think for yourselves much less than you suppose?

  48. jackhudson says:

    One more thought while I am at it. It has been claimed here that, “We {atheists} don’t need a god for us to figure out what is right and wrong.” And yet within a few posts we have an atheist, Bigleon from your forum, posing as ‘Patrick’ an imaginary fundamentalist. Beside his piss poor acting skills, he was being fundamentally dishonest. With regard to ‘figuring out what is right and wrong’ that leads us to one of two conclusions – either the morality atheists derive for themselves doesn’t require them to be honest, or atheists are unable to adhere to the moral standard they themselves claim to have devised.

    Either way it shows the weakness of a subjective measure of morality; not to mention showing the fundamental weakness of the atheist intellectual position which causes them to resort to those tactics.

  49. Jonathan says:

    “The problem here is the same problem atheists have with morality – if anybody can claim that any purpose they ascribe to their life is equally valid, then there is in fact no objective definition of the word purpose. If I think sitting on a couch all day napping is equally purposeful to doing brain surgery, by what objective measure could another deny this? If I think being high on meth is fulfilling, who is to say that I am wasting my life? Denying objective measures denies the means by which we evaluate what is important and worthwhile in life – and ultimately diminishes the way we live all together.”

    The objective definition for purpose remains the same, but yes anyone can claim what their purpose is, and it’s what people do day in and day out. It acts as a motivational factor to see to fruition the act being assigned to the purpose. However, this purpose is created and manipulated by the individual. In order to analyze if napping on a couch all day vs. brain surgery is equally purposeful you need to assign more variable in this hypothetical scenario. For instance, under what circumstances is the individual napping on the couch? Does he/she maybe have cancer and can do nothing else except for rest and get better? Did they lose a loved one and suffering from a debilitating depression? Is the brain surgeon competent enough to not do more harm than good during the operation? Is he/she lying about their physical condition and ability as a surgeon in order to keep their job and maintain their lifestyle? These questions are important in verifying whether one is more purposeful than the other. Would objective measures truly bring all people together in the end? I don’t think it would. I think that with the conflict comes awareness, without it we would essentially be robots.

    “In addition atheism actually reduces all human activity down to meaninglessness in the final measure. Imagine I devote my life to helping the poor and needy. How will the result of my work be different in 100 years, 1000 years, 100,000 years than that of a genocidal dictator? By any material measure, there will be no ultimate difference – no one will remember us differently as a result of the work we do here. The vast majority of humanity is here for a moment, than forgotten. And as I myself will no longer exist, it will certainly make no ultimate difference to me. So while helping others might make me feel better for the moment, ascribing meaning to such activity would be no more or less valid than ascribing meaning to hurting others if that is what brought me enjoyment or purpose.”

    If atheism truly reduced all human activity to meaningless don’t you think that there would be substantially less atheists around? We don’t assign meaninglessness to everything. We make our meaning/purpose and it does change often enough. Exactly why does it matter what your result will be in the years after your death? What’s important is how you affect others to think the same so that they may repeat what you did and continue that line of helping people, rather than giving a posthumous applause to the person who did the help and then undo the work he/she did. You are correct that it will make no ultimate difference to you when your dead, but that work you do when you’re alive represents, at that time, your mental attitude and willingness to help other people on a continual basis; there doesn’t need to be a prize at the end of the race for you to help your species in the long run. But the previous statement is, as a whole, more valid than ascribing meaning/purpose to hurting others because it makes you feel good, it does not benefit the species in the long run, hence physical harm cannot be used as valid reasoning for meaning/purpose or equating atheism to a meaninglessness philosophy.

    “Actually, I think this pertains to concept I heard David Brooks talked about at the Aspen Ideas Conference. It’s called ‘existential danger’ and what it means is that people who have experienced tragic loss think differently about reality than do those who have led relatively comfortable lives. I don’t think this is the only reason people make such decisions (for example some may be atheists because of enduring bitterness toward God over some loss) but I do think this basic concept holds true for the most part. Being an atheist generally involves avoiding or denying issues concerning morality, meaning, and mortality – which is easier to do in the relative comfort of the West where we live long lives and pretend we can control the circumstances of our lives. And there is some empirical data to support it.”

    Yes, people who experience tragic loss will think differently, but people who don’t experience tragic loss will also begin to think differently throughout their life depending on situations that happen around them but not necessarily effect them. As an atheist I hold no bitter resentment towards god, I don’t believe in him or it. If an atheist has a bitter resentment towards god, chances are that they havn’t concretely secured their position as an atheist and may have second thoughts or do not understand atheism as a whole. I see the graph that you posted of empirical data but without the data it is incoherent. What is the religiosity scale? When was the data collected? How was the data collected? Can I see all of the data rather than the graph itself?

    “I also think this explains why most atheists are young single men – the most fantasy prone people on the planet.”

    This seems to be an opinion rather than fact; the most fantasy prone people on the planet are more than likely children rather than adults.

    “I think you are confusing experience with belief. One doesn’t need to have the capacity to develop beliefs to perceive reality – bacterium ‘perceive reality’ in that they can sense and react to stimuli in the environment. Belief formation is different; I can accurately perceive that people die when they eat certain red berries – but as a human I am unique in that I can develop a belief about why they die when they eat red berries. Maybe they die because the berries are cursed. Maybe they die because they committed some sin that keeps them from enjoying the berries. Maybe the berries have some substance in them that harms people. It doesn’t matter what one believes about the berries, providing the belief enhances survival – and thus there is no reason, from an evolutionary perspective to be able to discern a ‘true’ belief.”

    Do bacterium necessarily ‘perceive reality’ or do they just react a certain way to different stimuli? I understand that perception can mean “identify by means of the senses” but does the bacterium IDENTIFY the stimulant rather than reacting to it intrensically? I am not confusing experience with belief. In order to construct a belief you need to experience something whether it is tangible or intangible. An individuals ability to perceive reality will ultimately effect they way the construct a belief. Take a schizophrenic for example. He/she may believe that there is someone in their head telling them to do something. They experience this voice clearly, and this experience will directly cause them to believe that there is some external or internal force communicating with them. So their perceptions are directly related to their construction of a belief. Your conclusion does not follow your premise. It would be overwhelmingly advantagous for an individual to believe, whether a false or true belief, that a berry could potentially harm or kill them. If this evolutionary product of the brain didn’t occur then the chances are that the lesson of eating toxic berries wouldn’t be passed on to other members, or that the individual may repeat their previous mistake by eating them again which could potentially kill them. Experience and belief is a method of learning, and would ultimately benefit a species.

    “And beliefs still underpin our activities today – science is based on certain unprovable beliefs, like the universe is amenable to understanding through observation and experimentation or that certain forces and phenomena act consistently throughout time and the universe, that mathematical models sufficiently represent reality, and so on.”

    Science is not based on unprovalbe beliefs, but a hypothesis. These two are not the same. So it is the formation of a hypothesis that is then followed by experimentation and observation that dictates whether or not the hypothesis is in fact true or false, not a belief.

    “First I want to note – if our cognitive equipment is indeed faulty, then everything that is derived from our cognitive equipment – the foundations of philosophy, science, etc – is by necessity suspect. It could not be otherwise. I personally don’t believe it to be the case because I am not an atheist.

    However, because I believe I have been given a mind capable of perceiving false beliefs and accurately discerning true ones by a capable designer, I can consistently and confidently say what I believe about God is true.”

    You’re right, everything is suspect by necessity and it is this very reason that theories, science, etc are constantly tested and retested. Because you don’t hear about them being retested does not mean that they are not being retested or reevaluated. You probably don’t believe as an atheist, not because you aren’t an atheist but because your beleif system requires unchangeable facts in the form of the word of god, or your bible. If specific parts of your belief system were found to be faulty or fraudulent then the rest of the word of god and bible would lay under scrutiny, so it is better for you to refuse these accusations than to apply them or test them. How do you discern whether a belief is true or not?

    “I agree we are all capable of doing evil. In fact, that is a fundamental claim of Christianity – humans have an inherent propensity to do evil. However recently, the New Atheists have gone about claiming that religious belief itself particularly inclines one to do evil – Dawkins made a documentary to that effect in The Root of All Evil. I am simply pointing out if you want to find enhancements to evil, there is no greater example of it occurring than in the godless regimes that dominated the mid-20th century (of which there are remnants to this day). This fact would completely defy the notion that eliminating religious belief would decrease the human capacity to do evil – as a matter of fact, godlessness seems to enhance it, excuses to the contrary. At best an atheist might claim there is nodiscernible difference between an atheist and a believer in terms of their propensity to do evil.”

    It is true that people do do harmful things in the name of religion, this is an unarguable fact and can be verified easily and consistently, but it is also true that non-believers can do harmful things as well. The problem is if the believer is of a sound mind and whether or not he/she will use god as an excuse to do evil things, which would cause them to believe that they are doing the work of god rather than an atheist doing evil things just because. It is not a good argument to claim that “there is no greater example of it occuring than in the godless regimes that dominated the mid-20th century” when the religion you believe in has also had great examples of godfilled dominance over countless centuries. You cannot use that argument unless you also point out the atrocities performed in the name of god. Could you show evidence that atheism enhances evil, without referring to atheistic regimes as I’ve shown cannot be used as valid evidence?

    “Actually, that is not a counterpoint that is a Tu Quoque. Nonetheless, from the perspective of Christian theology, the Biblical imperative for equality would be that we all are created in God’s image, that we have equal worth to God, and are all subject to the same moral law.”

    Yes, it is a tu quoque, but it is used in its legitimate form. Your assertion was that human rights and equality are a product of god and cannot exist in a materialistic atheistic world. So I was asking if human rights and equality exist in the bible. It was not a means to distract or not answer the question, but a means to show you that your assertion was not a valid argument but rather an equivocation.

    “Well, even there you make my point – not all handicaps are equal. A Downs syndrome child is not the mental equal of Stephen Hawking (then again, neither are we). A person who has to be medically cared for, but who doesn’t provide the benefits to a society a Hawkings does would obviously not by a material measure be ‘equal’ in any material or biological respect. Personally I measure the value of person in that I consider all persons to be made in the image of God and thus all having an intrinsic eternal value; I see no basis for equality from a material perspective – how can you as an atheist ascribe ‘equality’ to persons without attributing it to an intrinsic immaterial value?”

    Your argument in Human Rights and Equality don’t Exist follows:

    1. A person with substantive intelligence would certainly be more valuable than somenoe with a mental defect.
    2. A healhty person who can contribute to society would have much more worth than an ill or handicapped person.
    3. Thus, in a world where only that which was physical is real, ‘equality’ could not exist.

    Your argument fails on premise one because the individual with substantive intelligence could potentially be a mass murderer and would therefore hold no more value over someone with a mental handicap because he/she willingly causes harm to others, in essence the premise is vague. It fails at premise two for the same reason as I listed above. Thus the conclusion does not follow the premise and the argument collapses.

    You are attempting to lump several complex variables into only a vew variables and this does not work in this aspect.


    As I pointed out earlier, I think Alistair McGrath did a fine job of describing the diminishing influence of atheism worldwide. But I think these graphics give a pretty good indication of the future, especially when compared side by side.”

    The only things these charts show me is that where there is a higher percentage of birth rates there is a higher percentage of religion. Here’s a chart, when compared with the higher percentage of birth rates and religiosity chart, that shows something interesting:

    You’ll notice that when this intelligence chart is overlayed with the birth rate chart and religiosity chart
    that intelligence is inversely related to religiosity and birth rates. So it seems that religion is more tied to less intelligent nations, but with an increase in intelligence we could see a correlating decrease in both birth rates and in religiosity. This is my conjecture and I am not claiming it absolutely true because in the long run we can never predict the outcome. Are you essentially stating that atheism is losing its diminishing influence because nations are failing to become more intelligent?

  50. Jonathan says:

    “Either way it shows the weakness of a subjective measure of morality; not to mention showing the fundamental weakness of the atheist intellectual position which causes them to resort to those tactics.”

    Mr.Hudson, the act of one does not constitute the behavior or intellect of the whole.

  51. jackhudson says:

    Mr.Hudson, the act of one does not constitute the behavior or intellect of the whole.

    SO are you condemning that act? Were you aware of it occurring? Did you say anything?

  52. kenetiks says:

    Jack, would you care to move the discussion to a forum. The comment section of a blog is quite limited and is one of the reasons I’m not engaging further. The discussion is limited and dances around too much.

    I for one would like to continue this discussion. And it appears several others would also.

    Also, I have to admit the “facerape” remark was hilarious and I nearly fell out of my seat laughing when you remarked on it. Classic stuff.

    You might try out the aforementioned forums. Theists are welcomed there if you can manage to ignore a lot of frothing at the mouth posters and remain calm. Since I don’t think you’re “evangelizing” you might actually enjoy the discussions. Although some of them can get heated I simply ignore a lot of them and concentrate on the calm and rational posts.

    Regard,
    kenetiks

  53. jackhudson says:

    Thanks for the kind invite kenetiks. I am not averse to posting on forums, but my experience has generally been that they rapidly deteriorate into a mass of ad homs, tu quoques, and off topic rants. I just seem to have that affect on my atheist counterparts. :).

    I set up this forum because it allowed me to impose a modicum of civility and rationality on discussions – perhaps on another topic we’ll hear from you again. Thanks for contributing.

  54. kenetiks says:

    I’m going to allow myself one final post and then take my leave and attempt a fruitless refutation of your 7 points.

    But first, my observations on your entire blog post itself.

    First I’d like to point out your use of the word “truths” in the title as apposed to the use of the work “facts” or “evidences”. This is a common theme among the religious. This word has been thoroughly misused, misappropriated, shot, stretched, disemboweled, hung, stretched, burned at the stake, drawn and quartered and then to add insult to injury, cut into pieces of varying size and sent to the far corners of the planet to be proudly displayed on the tops of stakes as a fierce warning to anyone with a dissenting opinion.

    Second, these are not all truths anyway. You only offer two actual claims that can even be refuted by facts or evidence and one that can only be somewhat argued out of the sphere of conjecture and personal opinion. So might I suggest a renaming of this post as “7 Brutal personal opinions, one out of context fact and one unimportant, abused and abandoned misrepresentation of statistical data.” It doesn’t quite have the same odious and damning ring to atheists as the original title but I think it works better in representing the post.

    1.Your life has no meaning or purpose

    As I pointed out before, I planned to have a meaningful dinner. Tonight(after another meaningful dinner), I plan to have copious amounts of meaningful albeit gymnastic copulation with my female partner. But before I do that, I’m going to have a meaningful time chasing my 16 month old son around the house and listen to him squeal and giggle.

    Secondly, you, as do other theists, seem to say, “without god, there can be no meaning”. What you really are saying is, “My favorite color is green, anyone who has a different favorite color has no meaning in their lives and should immediately take a very tedious, gloomy and lengthy stroll down a very short and unimportant pier.”.

    2. You are an atheist by virtue of when and where you were born

    The poorest countries and regions usually but not always have religious laws or are engaged in some other form of internal struggles and any dissenting religious opinions are met with swift and brutal repression. Many, many documented cases of lynching by mobs, public executions of apostates, beheadings, burnings, public mutilations, hangings have been caught on film and are readily available on the web for all to see. Not to mention poor education, access to knowledge(or lack thereof) and religious oppression are usually the culprits of what you suggest.

    Tell me again it is simply because of our supposed wealth that we are atheists. No, there are atheists everywhere and they have been and are still being murdered in countries all over the world for simply thinking for themselves. In our relatively secular society this is usually not the case and we are free enough to openly speak out against religion.

    3. You can never be certain that what you believe to be true is true

    As I and others have pointed out. Our brains evolved to interpret the sensory input and process that data into a model of our surrounding environment. If this were not the case then what good would our brains be?

    If you and I were standing in front of an office building several stories tall and you and I both saw the building and reached out and felt it. Your response would be, “this is a large office building made of concrete, steel and glass”. You are stating that my reply might be “This is obviously a vegetable.”.

    You suggest I might say this in all seriousness due to my reasoning faculties being faulty. If 99% of the entire population of the planet can touch and feel the same building and discern without question that it is an office building then my question must be, why conclude anything else?

    4. There is no objective way to evaluate moral choices

    I must answer this with a question. As I said, this paragraph following the assertion is self defeating. If I have no basis for discerning objective morality, then neither do you.

    So, how do you evaluate morality? Certainly not from god or any religion. Human morality precedes religions.

    5. The most brutal regimes have been atheistic

    Thoroughly refuting repeatedly both outside this blog post and within it’s comments to my satisfaction and I feel no need to bludgeon a rather bloated and obviously long since deceased horse repeatedly with a 50 ton hammer in the expectation of a totally new and surprising outcome.

    6. Human rights and equality don’t exist

    Because obviously wholly religious regimes have such an outstanding and better track record with regard to human equality.

    Such arrogance and such pride. As I said before, humans are humans. It’s that simple.

    7. You will always be a small minority

    Thoroughly refuted but I will say that had you done more research and put just a little bit more effort into that, you may have had at least to remove or come up with a totally separate “brutal truth”.

    Regards,
    kenetiks

  55. jackhudson says:

    The objective definition for purpose remains the same, but yes anyone can claim what their purpose is, and it’s what people do day in and day out. It acts as a motivational factor to see to fruition the act being assigned to the purpose. However, this purpose is created and manipulated by the individual. In order to analyze if napping on a couch all day vs. brain surgery is equally purposeful you need to assign more variable in this hypothetical scenario. For instance, under what circumstances is the individual napping on the couch? Does he/she maybe have cancer and can do nothing else except for rest and get better? Did they lose a loved one and suffering from a debilitating depression? Is the brain surgeon competent enough to not do more harm than good during the operation? Is he/she lying about their physical condition and ability as a surgeon in order to keep their job and maintain their lifestyle? These questions are important in verifying whether one is more purposeful than the other. Would objective measures truly bring all people together in the end? I don’t think it would. I think that with the conflict comes awareness, without it we would essentially be robots.

    You didn’t give an objective definition of purpose. If it’s what ‘people do day in and day out’ then any activity is equally meaningful – feeding the poor, killing the poor, etc.

    If atheism truly reduced all human activity to meaningless don’t you think that there would be substantially less atheists around? We don’t assign meaninglessness to everything. We make our meaning/purpose and it does change often enough. Exactly why does it matter what your result will be in the years after your death? What’s important is how you affect others to think the same so that they may repeat what you did and continue that line of helping people, rather than giving a posthumous applause to the person who did the help and then undo the work he/she did. You are correct that it will make no ultimate difference to you when your dead, but that work you do when you’re alive represents, at that time, your mental attitude and willingness to help other people on a continual basis; there doesn’t need to be a prize at the end of the race for you to help your species in the long run. But the previous statement is, as a whole, more valid than ascribing meaning/purpose to hurting others because it makes you feel good, it does not benefit the species in the long run, hence physical harm cannot be used as valid reasoning for meaning/purpose or equating atheism to a meaninglessness philosophy.

    I think there aren’t more atheists around because people realize it denudes life of essential meeting. Atheists themselves are great at pretending that that they can simply assert that their life has meaning, which I think is self-deceptive.

    Even in this response you assumes what you seek to prove – i.e. “your mental attitude and willingness to help other people on a continual basis” assumes that this feeling has intrinsic meaning. One could just as easily adopt the attitude that the best thing one could do for our species is eliminate the weak and challenge the slack is the most meaningful course of action – and some have done so. Like morals, apart from some objective measure, ‘meaning’ has no measure.

    Yes, people who experience tragic loss will think differently, but people who don’t experience tragic loss will also begin to think differently throughout their life depending on situations that happen around them but not necessarily effect them. As an atheist I hold no bitter resentment towards god, I don’t believe in him or it. If an atheist has a bitter resentment towards god, chances are that they havn’t concretely secured their position as an atheist and may have second thoughts or do not understand atheism as a whole. I see the graph that you posted of empirical data but without the data it is incoherent. What is the religiosity scale? When was the data collected? How was the data collected? Can I see all of the data rather than the graph itself?

    Sure – the article is here:

    This seems to be an opinion rather than fact; the most fantasy prone people on the planet are more than likely children rather than adults.

    Well, it was somewhat tongue in cheek, but I think based on video game personas and descriptions of themselves on dating sites, single young men are pretty fantasy prone.

    Do bacterium necessarily ‘perceive reality’ or do they just react a certain way to different stimuli? I understand that perception can mean “identify by means of the senses” but does the bacterium IDENTIFY the stimulant rather than reacting to it intrensically? I am not confusing experience with belief. In order to construct a belief you need to experience something whether it is tangible or intangible. An individuals ability to perceive reality will ultimately effect they way the construct a belief. Take a schizophrenic for example. He/she may believe that there is someone in their head telling them to do something. They experience this voice clearly, and this experience will directly cause them to believe that there is some external or internal force communicating with them. So their perceptions are directly related to their construction of a belief. Your conclusion does not follow your premise. It would be overwhelmingly advantagous for an individual to believe, whether a false or true belief, that a berry could potentially harm or kill them. If this evolutionary product of the brain didn’t occur then the chances are that the lesson of eating toxic berries wouldn’t be passed on to other members, or that the individual may repeat their previous mistake by eating them again which could potentially kill them. Experience and belief is a method of learning, and would ultimately benefit a species.

    Science is not based on unprovalbe beliefs, but a hypothesis. These two are not the same. So it is the formation of a hypothesis that is then followed by experimentation and observation that dictates whether or not the hypothesis is in fact true or false, not a belief.

    A hypothesis is not the basis of science; it is a part of the scientific method. Science is based on the belief that forming a hypothesis, and making repeatable observations and experiments to test the hypothesis yields a more accurate understanding of reality. But that is based on certain assumptions as I mentioned before – i.e. that the universe is amenable to understanding by observation for example. Or that the human mind is amenable to assessing those observations and the results of those experiments. That reality acts consistently over time. None of these assumptions can be proven or disproven; I think they are generally correct, and useful in a limited way, but at the base of the thought process they rely on certain unrpovable assumptions. And that is alright – all of life does, Faith is the ultimate basis for all human activity.

    You’re right, everything is suspect by necessity and it is this very reason that theories, science, etc are constantly tested and retested. Because you don’t hear about them being retested does not mean that they are not being retested or reevaluated. You probably don’t believe as an atheist, not because you aren’t an atheist but because your beleif system requires unchangeable facts in the form of the word of god, or your bible. If specific parts of your belief system were found to be faulty or fraudulent then the rest of the word of god and bible would lay under scrutiny, so it is better for you to refuse these accusations than to apply them or test them. How do you discern whether a belief is true or not?

    Well, as a former skeptic, I am more than familiar with how and what an atheist believes; and science requires that there be certain unchangeable facts be true as well. In fact, it was necessary to science that civilization go from believing that the cosmos was the product of fickle gods to the belief that is was underpinned by certain discoverable laws – a fact Christianity imparted, one that atheism never could.

    It is true that people do harmful things in the name of religion, this is an unarguable fact and can be verified easily and consistently, but it is also true that non-believers can do harmful things as well. The problem is if the believer is of a sound mind and whether or not he/she will use god as an excuse to do evil things, which would cause them to believe that they are doing the work of god rather than an atheist doing evil things just because. It is not a good argument to claim that “there is no greater example of it occuring than in the godless regimes that dominated the mid-20th century” when the religion you believe in has also had great examples of godfilled dominance over countless centuries. You cannot use that argument unless you also point out the atrocities performed in the name of god. Could you show evidence that atheism enhances evil, without referring to atheistic regimes as I’ve shown cannot be used as valid evidence?

    I am not (nor have I) denied that atrocious things have occurred in the name of God or gods. I am making two simple points, both based on historical fact – the first being that believing in God or gods isn’t a necessary prerequisite of killing people. The second is if we are measuring what is worse, by comparison godless regimes are by far much worse, by the tens of millions. Every example of a religiously motivated atrocity cited thus far pales in comparison to those killed by any religious regimes. Your point that there were “examples of godfilled dominance over countless centuries” actually makes the case worse because the godless regimes seemed to have killed far more people in a period of decades than any religious regimes did in thousands of years.

    Yes, it is a tu quoque, but it is used in its legitimate form. Your assertion was that human rights and equality are a product of god and cannot exist in a materialistic atheistic world. So I was asking if human rights and equality exist in the bible. It was not a means to distract or not answer the question, but a means to show you that your assertion was not a valid argument but rather an equivocation.

    Your tu quoque is a logical fallacy (in fact that seems to be the main ‘refutation’ of atheists – this logical fallacy) whether or not there is equality and rights in the Bible (there is, as I detailed earlier) is irrelevant to the truth that there are none in the reality of a world without God.

    Your argument in Human Rights and Equality don’t Exist follows:

    1. A person with substantive intelligence would certainly be more valuable than somenoe with a mental defect.

    2. A healhty person who can contribute to society would have much more worth than an ill or handicapped person.

    3. Thus, in a world where only that which was physical is real, ‘equality’ could not exist.

    Your argument fails on premise one because the individual with substantive intelligence could potentially be a mass murderer and would therefore hold no more value over someone with a mental handicap because he/she willingly causes harm to others, in essence the premise is vague. It fails at premise two for the same reason as I listed above. Thus the conclusion does not follow the premise and the argument collapses.

    Actually, it reinforces my argument – because you have just introduced another mental defect by which one would measure the worth of a person materially and thus diminish their equality in a society. From a materialistic perspective, a mass murderer would merely be another mentally defective person, whatever his intelligence – and so on the same level as someone with a mental handicap (assuming you atheistic society considered mass murder to be immoral; as we have seen, many have not) so rather than defeat the argument, you have shown how it plays out when there is no objective measure of human worth or equality.

    You are attempting to lump several complex variables into only a vew variables and this does not work in this aspect.

    I wasn’t trying to lump together variables, merely give examples of how inequality arises from a purely material view of humanity. What you have not done is provided a basis for equality based on purely material measure – this is I suspect, because you can’t.

    The only things these charts show me is that where there is a higher percentage of birth rates there is a higher percentage of religion. Here’s a chart, when compared with the higher percentage of birth rates and religiosity chart, that shows something interesting:

    http://knol.google.com/k/-/-/kpxsjkpzgwux/4e6zsc/aiq.png

    You’ll notice that when this intelligence chart is overlayed with the birth rate chart and religiosity chart

    I have to admit I would be somewhat cautious about a chart that presumably show Africans to be dumber than Europeans. And I would have to know what the measure of intelligence was.

    that intelligence is inversely related to religiosity and birth rates. So it seems that religion is more tied to less intelligent nations, but with an increase in intelligence we could see a correlating decrease in both birth rates and in religiosity. This is my conjecture and I am not claiming it absolutely true because in the long run we can never predict the outcome. Are you essentially stating that atheism is losing its diminishing influence because nations are failing to become more intelligent?

    Well, even if we presume this is true (dumb people have more babies) it still indicates that in the long run atheism is fading. And if we look at it from a purely evolutionary viewpoint, how smart is it to not to pass on your superior genes? And could they even be considered superior if the net effect is to limit your reproductive capability?

  56. jcarlson says:

    Quick question… Can I quote stuff like you can or is that something only you can do as an administrator?

    Anyway… I’ll just quote the old fashioned way for now:

    “I appreciate Sagan’s religious overtones (he was a favorite when I was an agnostic), but you know and I know the ‘cosmos’ is completely indifferent to our existence. In fact all indications are the cosmos is expanding to become an energy-less undifferentiated wasteland. Whatever you imagine the universe ‘knows’ about itself, that knowledge is short-lived as well.”

    Well, at the moment the cosmos is not indifferent to our existence, after all, we are a part of it, and are not indifferent. Of course, the lack of indifference may be fleeting, and probably is. I will agree that if there is no God our existence probably will have minimal effect on the end-state of the universe, but that doesn’t diminish the fact that we can recognize that this is the one chance we get at consciousness and try to do things that are fulfilling to us as individuals.

    “The meaning Christ gives is that our knowledge of the universe isn’t lost to the degradations of time, and that in fact we can know the author of the universe and more deeply understand Him and His creation for an eternity – knowledge without end. This matters because it means the knowledge you are so excited to gain won’t be lost to you after few decades when your mind begins to decay and you forget whatever it is you were excited about. That is the truth that excites me. If I am wrong then it won’t matter in a few short years whether I am wrong; if you are right, it won’t matter that you are right.”

    Here you have (subtly) altered your original argument, it seems. This point’s original topic was the meaning of earthly life, but this last bit is almost entirely about your assumed afterlife. If you take this perspective then presumably you will have an eternity to learn all about the universe after you die, so what does it matter what you learn here? What point is there to your earthly life beyond ensuring your entry to the afterlife? Surely upon getting there you will be in possession of knowledge so infinitely beyond what you could possibly learn on earth. What meaning does your earthly life hold then?

    “What you get wrong here is that the most affluent and well educated nation (the US) is also one of the most religious; so education doesn’t necessarily diminish religious belief. However, material comfort in a society wherein the groundwork for civilization has already laid allows atheists to maintain their illusions that the truths that created those societies to begin with are no longer necessary.”

    What you are getting wrong is that you seem to think the US is the most well educated nation.

    While the adult population, on average, receives more years of schooling than that of any other country, this is merely a reflection of quantity, not quality. The US is woefully behind when it comes to Science and Mathematics literacy rates. See here:

    http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/edu_sci_lit-education-scientific-literacy

    and

    http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/edu_mat_lit-education-mathematical-literacy

    Lo and behold, most of the countries ahead of the US in these two categories have much higher percentages of non-theists and non-religious persons as well.

    “I am surprised that someone who claims there is no link between atheism and the ravages of Stalin and Mao would articulate a Marxist cliché about religion being a means of class oppression by the bourgeoisie. Of course you are wrong here historically – whether we look at the abolitionists or those who sacrificed their own lives to protect the Jews in Germany or the motivations Martin Luther King Jr., faith has been a motivator to elevate the oppressed in society. In fact, as someone who worked in slum schools outside Nairobi, I have witnessed for myself how those of faith are motivated by their Christian beliefs to serve the most down trodden – I didn’t see any atheists working there motivated by their beliefs.”

    Yes you’re right, of course. Religion has never been used by those in power to keep the people subservient. There has never been a king who ruled by “divine right”. There has never been a religion which articulates a caste system which you are born into and have no ability to escape. There has never been a religion that subjugates women. There has never been a religion that requires adherence to the command of the clergy.

    Get real man. History is rife with examples of just these things, from pre-history to modern times, on every populated continent. Abolitionism and the Civil Rights movement were secular in nature. The fact that some members of the movements found inspiration in their faith is fine, but their opponents also found their inspiration in scripture. W. E. B. Du Bois, a prominent leader of the early Civil Rights movement (and secularist and self-described free-thinker) contended that while religion provided community and shared experience for African Americans, it also served to maintain the status quo in America with regards to racial injustice.

    I don’t know if you have ever read Marx or not, but I’m inclined to believe you haven’t, because if you had, surely you would recognize that the ethnic and religious cleansing policies of Stalin and Mao and Pot have little if anything to do with Marxist ideology. Marx believed religion was a symptom and a tool of oppression, and would thus fade away naturally as a side effect of the spread of socialism, no violence required. While I can’t claim to be an advocate of Marx’s economic policies I am in complete agreement with his belief that religion has historically been a tool used by the powerful for oppression and placation of the people.

    “The belief that peer review and objective standards of evidence allow us to accurately understand reality are also unprovable assertions that are derived from the same cognitive equipment you admit are faulty. The problem with this as a defeater is that every counter claim is the product of the brain you admit is flawed. The only way you get around it is to believe your brain was designed to at some level discern a true belief – and evolution can’t be said to have given you such equipment. We all have to assume at some level we have this ability – it’s just that your assumption of it isn’t consistent with the reality you believe in, mine is.”

    You claim that you have a true perception of reality because it was granted from a deity based on no evidence whatsoever. If this deity does exist, what reason do you have to assume that the perception of reality it has granted you is accurate in the first place? Why is that assumption any better than my assumption that evolution has granted me a reasonably accurate perception of reality? Even if humanity’s perception of reality is completely flawed, and we’re all living in an illusory world we perceive as real, what difference would that make to our lives when we only experience what we perceive anyway? Would or should anyone change the way they live their life based on this possibility? I can’t see any good reason to, and thus I can’t see any reason why this point is “brutal”, if even a truth, of atheism.

    “Our ideas about gravity have changed “radically from century to century, society to society, and person to person” – does that mean gravity doesn’t objectively exist? And the methodology you are describing to determine morality means slavery of black people was moral, because enough people believed it was moral. It means the Jewish holocaust was moral, because a sufficient number of Germans were convinced such a thing was moral. In fact, by your own description, nothing can ever be immoral. What if tomorrow our society decided sex with children was acceptable – does that in your mind mean it would become ‘moral’? Do you see how the atheist subjective notion of morality undermines the actual application of moral standards?”

    I think this paragraph serves only to draw attention to how you completely missed my point. When morality is subjective there isn’t any objective morality. Yes, there was a time when a majority of people thought, subjectively, that slavery was moral. During that time, they called it moral. This does not mean it was moral by the subjective standards of today’s society or my own moral standards. We can and do condemn the institution of slavery because we necessarily hold our own morals to be correct. In the eyes of the Nazis, they were acting morally. What does it say about the existence of a pervasive objective morality when such large groups of people can perform such acts under the belief they are acting in a moral fashion? Of course, there were many people at the time, who believe that the holocaust was immoral, and those who did then imposed their will on those who didn’t, and we therefore have far less people who think the holocaust was moral today (though they exist).

    By my own description, nothing can ever be immoral OBJECTIVELY. Regardless of society’s whims, my own subjective morality, and thus my opinion that child molestation is a heinous and morally wrong act, would not change, why would it, without a good reason? I would condemn it as wrong regardless of what the rest of the world thought. Unfortunately I doubt I would be able to stop it if I were the only one who thought it immoral. Luckily for children, the majority of the rest of the world has a brain that constructs morality with regard to this action with a similar end-result as myself.

    On the flip side, what if your God decided to make child molestation ok? Wouldn’t that make child molestation objectively morally right, compelling you to agree? If you claim God wouldn’t do that, why not? What is there preventing him from doing so? Is he bound by morality higher than him, existing outside of him? Then your point is moot, as objective morality would exist with or without God.

    The comparison to gravity is irrelevant. Gravity objectively exists outside of our changing ideas regarding it’s behavior and mechanisms. Morality exists only in the subjective realm of our minds.

    “This seems to be the crux of you point here – and you are certainly wrong in the beginning. There is no evidence humans “must be given motivation which is strong enough to overcome their natural resistance to slay others in cold blood.” Humans readily slay others in cold blood – war is the norm, not the exception in human history. We kill for land; we kill for food, for control, for mates, for being disrespected, to better our fortunes, for the gods, because we have anger issues. It’s not hard to motivate people to kill – it is hard to keep them from violence – you just happen to live in a place, and at a time in history that makes killing seem unusual. If you travel in the third world at all, you quickly come to realize that casual death is the norm. You are privileged to live in a society founded by rare folk who believed humans had fundamental dignity – it is that privilege that allows you to make such a silly statement.”

    Thank you, I suppose, for supporting my point and listing many motivations of the motivations for killing over the course of human history. Most people don’t randomly kill others for no reason. Do you feel random unexplainable urges to kill people when you see them? I hope not. There’s no doubt the human race is a violent one, but in general there are reasons, not always good ones, but reasons nonetheless, for the violence. They kill others for food because they need food. They kill others for land because they want land. They kill others for God because they think God will reward them in the afterlife. They kill others for the state because they believe the state will bring them prosperity and security.

    Interesting that you should point out that there is so much more violence in the third world, when it is far more religious and thus by your insistence that religion offers people “objective” morality should be far less so. Of course I realize that poverty and oppression (sometimes of the religious variety) are the real causes, but you would think if general religion were really in the business of condemning violence it would mitigate it to some extent.

    “Well If the Declaration is to be believed (or or John Locke, or Jefferson) men are created equal and endowed with certain inalienable rights.”

    You mean Locke and Jefferson the Deists, who believed in a God who essentially set the universe in motion and went to sleep, and cared not a wink about the plight of mankind, and was not interested at all whether one man was equal to the other?

    “It is a derivation of ideas about natural law that we are born with certain rights which the King and the state cannot transgress. The idea is an essential bulwark against the power of an oppressive political power. If we merely ‘created them’ as you assert (I don’t know who it is who you think created them or how – I suspect you don’t either)”

    Our modern philosophy was derived from a gradual process that began with the Magna Carta and ended in the codification of individual liberties all people should enjoy based on humanistic principles as enumerated by the writers of the enlightenment, notably Locke, who coined the term “Life, Liberty, and Property”.

    Of course some of the ideas that came out of the enlightenment had been independently formulated elsewhere in history but this is where America specifically draws its assumption of “inalienable rights” from.

    “then the entire foundation of American (and later Western) political philosophy is a sham.”

    Why is it a sham for people to give themselves rights based on principles of shared humanity?

    “If atheism is right then there is no actual equality or natural rights – and no argument incidentally (of the sort made by Lincoln and Dr. King) for the majority to respect those rights.”

    You mean Lincoln the atheist?

    “Inadvertently you have just shown how atheism undermines fundamental liberties. Again.”

    I have done no such thing. The “fundamental” liberties were derived from principles that do not necessitate a god, only a common humanity.

    “I would love to see the numbers you are citing – though I do like the way you separate out religious believers for the purpose of this point – and strangely don’t mention evangelicals or Protestants.”

    And on this last point I will offer a concession. I did not properly check my facts as my time spent on my reply was already more than anticipated. Non-religious people consist of about 15% of the US population according to the ARIS report of 2008 (not including the 5% or so who refused to answer), 10% less than Catholics and on par with Baptists. The report does show that irreligion is on the rise in the US and shows no sign of reversing, however. Worldwide, it’s unclear whether atheists as a percentage of the population of earth are growing, but certainly you realize that the spiraling birth rates of the ultra-religious world that is sustaining religion cannot continue indefinitely, right? I don’t think Europe is going anywhere. I doubt they will tolerate immigration on a scale massive enough to overthrow the secular society in place there.

  57. jackhudson says:

    Jcarlson – a heads up, you use blockquote tags to quote here. Onto your points:

    Well, at the moment the cosmos is not indifferent to our existence, after all, we are a part of it, and are not indifferent. Of course, the lack of indifference may be fleeting, and probably is. I will agree that if there is no God our existence probably will have minimal effect on the end-state of the universe, but that doesn’t diminish the fact that we can recognize that this is the one chance we get at consciousness and try to do things that are fulfilling to us as individuals.

    Usually when we talk about meaning or purpose we are talking about the reasons why something exists. A hammer exists to pound in nails; a bridge exists to allow us to traverse from one high point to another, etc. When we ask what meaning does a human life have, we are asking the same question – is there a reason why we are here. As many here and elsewhere have confirmed, from an atheist perspective the answer is no – we are here incidentally; our existence is purely the result of purposeless forces. So the point is already conceded as far as that goes.

    But there have been attempts to ameliorate this truth by saying, because we can assign purposes, we can assign them to ourselves, give our own life meaning. While this only proves that our lives have no inherent meaning it suggests that that meaning can be generated. Some have said they simply assign activities meaning – “I am having a meaningful meal” – but that doesn’t confer meaning to a person, but to the meal. You have suggested that the acquisition of knowledge about the cosmos gives us meaning – but I would suggest it gives us no more meaning than if we had no knowledge at all – and a quick thought experiment will show us why.

    Imagine that you woke up tomorrow and found you had an accelerated ability to aquire knowledge. Not only accelerated, but a super-human ability to do so. In few short days you had acquired everything there is to know about the material universe – the trajectory of every particle from the beginning of time to the universe’s end. With this knowledge you would have incredible insight into all the questions about how things work, and complete confidence that there were no outstanding aspects of the material world to discover. What then? In few short decades, maybe longer because of your knowledge, you die. And everyone else you know dies – and inevitably our star swells then fades, our planet dies, the universe grinds to a halt. What difference does the knowledge you had make? Your final fate is literally no different than the stupidest person that ever existed. The ultimate fate of the wealthiest person is the same as the poorest, the most beautiful the same as the most hideous. In the end there is no purpose for having done one thing or another, or having had one advantage over another. No reason to have done anything – and thus, no meaning.

    This is the brutal, undeniable truth most atheists don’t like to face.

    Here you have (subtly) altered your original argument, it seems. This point’s original topic was the meaning of earthly life, but this last bit is almost entirely about your assumed afterlife. If you take this perspective then presumably you will have an eternity to learn all about the universe after you die, so what does it matter what you learn here? What point is there to your earthly life beyond ensuring your entry to the afterlife? Surely upon getting there you will be in possession of knowledge so infinitely beyond what you could possibly learn on earth. What meaning does your earthly life hold then?

    Actually, it was you who asked about what meaning religion gives me as pertains to the afterlife, I was just responding to it. In answer to your current question though, a Christian believes that there isn’t a separation between this life and the next in terms of the choices we make and the knowledge we gain, but that this life is foundational to the next and what we experience in the next life is impacted by the choices we make in this one. So this life has great purpose, as what we do here ripples throughout eternity – as opposed to being lost forever, as with the atheist.

    “What you get wrong here is that the most affluent and well educated nation (the US) is also one of the most religious; so education doesn’t necessarily diminish religious belief. However, material comfort in a society wherein the groundwork for civilization has already laid allows atheists to maintain their illusions that the truths that created those societies to begin with are no longer necessary.”

    What you are getting wrong is that you seem to think the US is the most well educated nation.

    While the adult population, on average, receives more years of schooling than that of any other country, this is merely a reflection of quantity, not quality. The US is woefully behind when it comes to Science and Mathematics literacy rates. See here:

    http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/edu_sci_lit-education-scientific-literacy

    and

    http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/edu_mat_lit-education-mathematical-literacy

    Lo and behold, most of the countries ahead of the US in these two categories have much higher percentages of non-theists and non-religious persons as well.

    Those charts measure the scientific literacy of 15 year olds around the world; by adulthood we are ahead. We are actually ahead of our Japanese and European counterparts in this respect. I could site other statistics, but quite frankly this is really a minor point in my mind.

    Yes you’re right, of course. Religion has never been used by those in power to keep the people subservient.

    You know, making up my responses is a little silly when others can read them by scrolling up; I never said religion has never been used to keep people subservient – every belief system has been used for that purpose (including, ironically, atheistic Marxism) because sinful human beings desire power and wealth. I was just pointing out that saying this is the purpose of religious belief is obviously not the case.

    There has never been a king who ruled by “divine right”. There has never been a religion which articulates a caste system which you are born into and have no ability to escape. There has never been a religion that subjugates women. There has never been a religion that requires adherence to the command of the clergy.

    Sure; and there have been any number of those motivated by religious principle to oppose the same. The French revolution replaced the King, who claimed to have the divine right to rule with a supposed democracy ruled by rationalism, and it resulted in a bloody massacre and eventually a dictator. Americans opposed the British king on religious principle – that God had endowed us with equality and certain rights – and we have managed to keep a democracy based on that principle for over 200 years.

    Get real man. History is rife with examples of just these things, from pre-history to modern times, on every populated continent. Abolitionism and the Civil Rights movement were secular in nature. The fact that some members of the movements found inspiration in their faith is fine, but their opponents also found their inspiration in scripture. W. E. B. Du Bois, a prominent leader of the early Civil Rights movement (and secularist and self-described free-thinker) contended that while religion provided community and shared experience for African Americans, it also served to maintain the status quo in America with regards to racial injustice.

    Abolitionism and the Civil rights Movement were definitively not secular in nature; have you read any abolitionist literature, like Uncle Tom’s Cabin? You would have mocked Harriet Beecher Stowe’s religiosity had she been alive today. Or a Letter from a Birmingham Jail? It’s rife with religious statements. Do you even know what motivated William Wilberforce? You seem fairly bright – you cannot be that ignorant on this subject.

    I don’t know if you have ever read Marx or not, but I’m inclined to believe you haven’t, because if you had, surely you would recognize that the ethnic and religious cleansing policies of Stalin and Mao and Pot have little if anything to do with Marxist ideology. Marx believed religion was a symptom and a tool of oppression, and would thus fade away naturally as a side effect of the spread of socialism, no violence required. While I can’t claim to be an advocate of Marx’s economic policies I am in complete agreement with his belief that religion has historically been a tool used by the powerful for oppression and placation of the people.

    Well, as a previous Marxist, I am more than familiar with how the purported peaceful Marxist principles consistently undermined human rights and human liberties. Most grade school kids have read Orwell’s Animal Farm which demonstrates pretty well how the platitudes of Marx are easily translated into totalitarianism, which is why Marxism mostly has been abandoned.

    You claim that you have a true perception of reality because it was granted from a deity based on no evidence whatsoever. If this deity does exist, what reason do you have to assume that the perception of reality it has granted you is accurate in the first place?

    I didn’t make claims about a ‘true perception of reality’ I made the claim that to say that what one believes is true, one most have the ability to discern a true belief. Otherwise one is inconsistent when making truth claims.

    Why is that assumption any better than my assumption that evolution has granted me a reasonably accurate perception of reality?

    I didn’t say evolution didn’t grant you a reasonably accurate perception of reality; I said there is no reason to believe evolution did give you the ability to accurately discern true beliefs, because such an ability is unnecessary to your survival. You can accurately perceive reality without having beliefs about it; almost every organism does. Humans are the only one’s however who formulate and base their behaviors on beliefs they have about reality.

    *I am adding a diagram after this was posted because it might help clarify*

    | Statement: Atheism is true | –> Can we say nature required our cognitive equipment be able to discern a true belief? –> No –> Conclusion: We cannot say we know atheism to be a true belief.

    | Statement: Theism is true | –> Can we say a capable designer required our cognitive equipment be able to discern a true belief? –> Yes –> Conclusion: We can say we know Theism to be a true belief.

    Even if humanity’s perception of reality is completely flawed, and we’re all living in an illusory world we perceive as real, what difference would that make to our lives when we only experience what we perceive anyway? Would or should anyone change the way they live their life based on this possibility? I can’t see any good reason to, and thus I can’t see any reason why this point is “brutal”, if even a truth, of atheism.

    We don’t only experience what we perceive – we imagine things that don’t exist, we talk about ideas that aren’t directly perceivable, we act according to beliefs that have no material substance. You can’t claim something is true (even atheism) unless you first can verify that you have the ability to discern immaterial beliefs. Evolution can’t give us this confidence.

    I think this paragraph serves only to draw attention to how you completely missed my point. When morality is subjective there isn’t any objective morality. Yes, there was a time when a majority of people thought, subjectively, that slavery was moral. During that time, they called it moral. This does not mean it was moral by the subjective standards of today’s society or my own moral standards. We can and do condemn the institution of slavery because we necessarily hold our own morals to be correct. In the eyes of the Nazis, they were acting morally. What does it say about the existence of a pervasive objective morality when such large groups of people can perform such acts under the belief they are acting in a moral fashion? Of course, there were many people at the time, who believe that the holocaust was immoral, and those who did then imposed their will on those who didn’t, and we therefore have far less people who think the holocaust was moral today (though they exist).

    “This does not mean it was moral by the subjective standards of today’s society or my own moral standards.” Seriously, did you just say this? Even if we don’t think it is moral, they did think it was moral, so by your own definition it would have been moral for them. And tomorrow, if enough people decided slavery or killing Jews was moral (which in many places they do) it would then be moral for them as well. And how is it when can “hold our own morals to be correct” and “condemn” others when significant numbers of other people hold their moral views to be correct? In a significant majority of the world women are still chattel, and people still have slaves – by what standard would we impose our view of the matter on others if it is merely the product of what most people think? We can’t! We can only sensibly argue that our moral standards are correct if we can appeal to an objective standard for morality – which only God can give us.

    By my own description, nothing can ever be immoral OBJECTIVELY. Regardless of society’s whims, my own subjective morality, and thus my opinion that child molestation is a heinous and morally wrong act, would not change, why would it, without a good reason? I would condemn it as wrong regardless of what the rest of the world thought. Unfortunately I doubt I would be able to stop it if I were the only one who thought it immoral. Luckily for children, the majority of the rest of the world has a brain that constructs morality with regard to this action with a similar end-result as myself.

    You want it both ways – you want morals to be the product of ‘today’s society’ but you want to have your own subjective morality – which is by definition not a ‘standard’, it’s preference. And if everyone’s subjective morality is sovereign (like yours) how could you ever say someone else’s standard is wrong? You are talking in circles, and confirming exactly what I claimed.

    On the flip side, what if your God decided to make child molestation ok? Wouldn’t that make child molestation objectively morally right, compelling you to agree? If you claim God wouldn’t do that, why not? What is there preventing him from doing so? Is he bound by morality higher than him, existing outside of him? Then your point is moot, as objective morality would exist with or without God.

    God would have to change to make child molestation ‘ok’ at which point he would cease to be God. What is preventing Him from doing that is His inherently immutable nature, which is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Even so, this red herring doesn’t rescue atheism from fundamentally undermining moral standards, as you have aptly demonstrated.

    Thank you, I suppose, for supporting my point and listing many motivations of the motivations for killing over the course of human history. Most people don’t randomly kill others for no reason. Do you feel random unexplainable urges to kill people when you see them? I hope not. There’s no doubt the human race is a violent one, but in general there are reasons, not always good ones, but reasons nonetheless, for the violence. They kill others for food because they need food. They kill others for land because they want land. They kill others for God because they think God will reward them in the afterlife. They kill others for the state because they believe the state will bring them prosperity and security.

    Interestingly, that reminds me of something concerning the New Atheists. Unlike previous versions of atheists, they hold that religious believers are delusional, and that religious belief itself, of whatever sort, is inherently dangerous. Seems motivation enough to kill given the power to do so. God help us if they ever gain significant power with those beliefs guiding them.

    Interesting that you should point out that there is so much more violence in the third world, when it is far more religious and thus by your insistence that religion offers people “objective” morality should be far less so. Of course I realize that poverty and oppression (sometimes of the religious variety) are the real causes, but you would think if general religion were really in the business of condemning violence it would mitigate it to some extent.

    Well no, unlike atheists I do not hold all religious ideas to be equal; I think many religious ideas are very dangerous, I just don’t hold the religious notion of a belief in God to be itself inherently dangerous. Obviously I consider Christian principles to be true and beneficial. But again, all told it would be better to live under a religious theocracy of any sort compared to the horrors under Stalin, Mao, and their fellow traveling atheists.

    You mean Locke and Jefferson the Deists, who believed in a God who essentially set the universe in motion and went to sleep, and cared not a wink about the plight of mankind, and was not interested at all whether one man was equal to the other?

    See, I goota think you folks don’t actually read the folks you claim believe these things. This is Locke from his most famous Second Treatise of Government:

    The state of nature has a law of nature to govern it, which obliges every one: and reason, which is that law, teaches all mankind, who will but consult it, that being all equal and independent, no one ought to harm another in his life, health, liberty, or possessions: for men being all the workmanship of one omnipotent, and infinitely wise Maker; all the servants of one sovereign Master, sent into the world by His order, and about His business; they are his property, whose workmanship they are, made to last during his, not one another’s pleasure: and being furnished with like faculties, sharing all in one community of nature, there cannot be supposed any such subordination among us, that may authorize us to destroy one another, as if we were made for one another’s uses, as the inferior ranks of creatures are for our’s.

    Emphasis mine.

    Locke, the sons of Puritans, firmly grounds his principles of liberty on the principle that we exist according to Divine purpose; and the forefathers (including Jefferson) were influenced greatly by this in establishing their case for liberty.

    Our modern philosophy was derived from a gradual process that began with the Magna Carta and ended in the codification of individual liberties all people should enjoy based on humanistic principles as enumerated by the writers of the enlightenment, notably Locke, who coined the term “Life, Liberty, and Property”.

    Of course some of the ideas that came out of the enlightenment had been independently formulated elsewhere in history but this is where America specifically draws its assumption of “inalienable rights” from.

    Well I cited Locke already which completely contradicts your notion that he was articulating “humanistic principles”. He obviously grounded his principles in the Divine origin of humankind. He often directly cites Scripture in his treatises. Do you want me to beat this dead horse more? I certainly could.

    Why is it a sham for people to give themselves rights based on principles of shared humanity?

    Because ‘principles of shared humanity’ are the product of a Western Judeo-Christian foundation – which is why they didn’t develop elsewhere.

    You mean Lincoln the atheist?

    Ddue I could beat this one to a pulp as well. While one might question Lincoln’s devotion to a particular strain of Christianity, he was no atheist.

    I have done no such thing. The “fundamental” liberties were derived from principles that do not necessitate a god, only a common humanity.

    There is no more a biological basis for rights or equality in common humanity, which atheists consider merely another species of mammal, then there would be to say such things could exist amongst mice or cows because of their shared characteristics.

    And on this last point I will offer a concession. I did not properly check my facts as my time spent on my reply was already more than anticipated. Non-religious people consist of about 15% of the US population according to the ARIS report of 2008 (not including the 5% or so who refused to answer), 10% less than Catholics and on par with Baptists. The report does show that irreligion is on the rise in the US and shows no sign of reversing, however. Worldwide, it’s unclear whether atheists as a percentage of the population of earth are growing, but certainly you realize that the spiraling birth rates of the ultra-religious world that is sustaining religion cannot continue indefinitely, right? I don’t think Europe is going anywhere. I doubt they will tolerate immigration on a scale massive enough to overthrow the secular society in place there.

    Well see that is part of the problem, Europe is going somewhere – not the land mass of course, but the culture and the population is going away. Europe isn’t replacing itself and it’s getting ever older – Japan is already fading because of its aging population, and is slipping economically as a result. The same thing is happening in Europe – for whatever reason increased secularism lowers the birthrate considerably to where a population doesn’t replace itself.

    Another fun map for your perusal.

    I can’t guarantee I will answer further points because it’s getting repetitive and I want to get to writing about some other things, but thanks for the substantive replies all. I might even let you folks have the last word if you like. 🙂

  58. kenetiks says:

    Usually when we talk about meaning or purpose we are talking about the reasons why something exists. A hammer exists to pound in nails; a bridge exists to allow us to traverse from one high point to another, etc. When we ask what meaning does a human life have, we are asking the same question – is there a reason why we are here. As many here and elsewhere have confirmed, from an atheist perspective the answer is no – we are here incidentally; our existence is purely the result of purposeless forces. So the point is already conceded as far as that goes.

    But there have been attempts to ameliorate this truth by saying, because we can assign purposes, we can assign them to ourselves, give our own life meaning. While this only proves that our lives have no inherent meaning it suggests that that meaning can be generated. Some have said they simply assign activities meaning – “I am having a meaningful meal” – but that doesn’t confer meaning to me, but to the meal. You have suggested that the acquisition of knowledge about the cosmos gives us meaning – but I would suggest it gives us no more meaning than if we had no knowledge at all – and a quick thought experiment will show us why.

    Imagine that you woke up tomorrow and found you had an accelerated ability to aquire knowledge. Not only accelerated, but a super-human ability to do so. In few short days you had acquired everything there is to know about the material universe – the trajectory of every particle from the beginning of time to the universe’s end. With this knowledge you would have incredible insight into all the questions about how things work, and complete confidence that there were no outstanding aspects of the material world to discover. What then? In few short decades, maybe longer because of your knowledge, you die. And everyone else you know dies – and inevitably our star swells then fades, our planet dies, the universe grinds to a halt. What difference does the knowledge you had make? Your final fate is literally no different than the stupidest person that ever existed. The ultimate fate of the wealthiest person is the same as the poorest, the most beautiful the same as the most hideous. In the end there is no purpose for having done one thing or another, or having had one advantage over another. No reason to have done anything – and thus, no meaning.

    This is the brutal, undeniable truth most atheists don’t like to face.

    Again I have to say, this is not a truth. This is your personal opinion on the matter. And it is not brutal either.

    My point on this topic was and remains who cares? You cannot simply assert, that having no ultimate purpose in life nullifies people finding a purpose to their lives for themselves.

    Abolitionism and the Civil rights Movement were definitively not secular in nature; have you read any abolitionist literature, like Uncle Tom’s Cabin? You would have mocked Harriet Beecher Stowe’s religiosity had she been alive today. Or a Letter from a Birmingham Jail? It’s rife with religious statements. Do you even know what motivated William Wilberforce? You seem fairly bright – you cannot be that ignorant on this subject.

    You can’t be serious.

    Interestingly, that reminds me of something concerning the New Atheists. Unlike previous versions of atheists, they hold that religious believers are delusional, and that religious belief itself, of whatever sort, is inherently dangerous. Seems motivation enough to kill given the power to do so. God help us if they ever gain significant power with those beliefs guiding them.

    This is the most absurd thing I’ve ever heard. And that’s saying a a great deal. This is complete personal horse excrement; to be ranked right up there with the reptile people, Illuminati, Lose Change and the moon landing hoaxers.

  59. jackhudson says:

    Again I have to say, this is not a truth. This is your personal opinion on the matter. And it is not brutal either.

    My point on this topic was and remains who cares?

    This point is already conceded; no atheist here has claimed life has any objective meaning; I don’t know how much more true it could be.

    Whether it’s brutal or not I guess depends on whether you think that the fact that the entirety of the activities in your life mean nothing in the end is a brutal reality or not.

    My point on this topic was and remains who cares?

    You cannot simply assert, that having no ultimate purpose in life nullifies people finding a purpose to their lives for themselves.

    I am asserting, and everyone including yourself agrees, that if atheism is true life has no ultimate purpose; how you can ‘find’ purpose that you just acknowledged wasn’t actually there is an exercise in imagination, not reality.

    You can’t be serious.

    I am absolutely serious; and as you are unable to refute the facts cited, that makes me not only serious but apparently correct in my assertion.

    This is the most absurd thing I’ve ever heard. And that’s saying a a great deal. This is complete personal horse excrement; to be ranked right up there with the reptile people, Illuminati, Lose Change and the moon landing hoaxers.

    You do realize that being incredulous isn’t an argument? I don’t think atheists are going to go around killing believers right now, because they aren’t that brave (which is why their verbal attacks are leveled primarily at Christians, who generally don’t respond violently), I am simply saying what Acton said; power corrupts, and giving power to people who think those they disagree with are delusional and dangerous would be stupid.

  60. kenetiks says:

    This point is already conceded; no atheist here has claimed life has any objective meaning; I don’t know how much more true it could be.

    Whether it’s brutal or not I guess depends on whether you think that the fact that the entirety of the activities in your life mean nothing in the end is a brutal reality or not.

    If yours, mine and just about every other commenter concessions have been on this point and you knew this before hand. This raises the question; Why include it in the first place?

    I am asserting, and everyone including yourself agrees, that if atheism is true life has no ultimate purpose; how you can ‘find’ purpose that you just acknowledged wasn’t actually there is an exercise in imagination, not reality.

    Rather simple really. Even if life did or did not have any ultimate meaning whatsoever doesn’t mean it has NO value, meaning or purpose whatsoever. The answer to the question of life IS life.

    I am absolutely serious; and as you are unable to refute the facts cited, that makes me not only serious but apparently correct in my assertion.

    The fact that the abolitionist and civil rights movement had thunderous quotations from your holy book on both sides of these fights should be enough in itself to throw out this assertion. Given this fact it’s worth reminding you that if you criticize one side or the other you immediately impale yourself on a no true Scotsman fallacy.

    You do realize that being incredulous isn’t an argument? I don’t think atheists are going to go around killing believers right now, because they aren’t that brave (which is why their verbal attacks are leveled primarily at Christians, who generally don’t respond violently), I am simply saying what Acton said; power corrupts, and giving power to people who think those they disagree with are delusional and dangerous would be stupid.

    Complete and utter baseless ad hominem.

  61. jackhudson says:

    If yours, mine and just about every other commenter concessions have been on this point and you knew this before hand. This raises the question; Why include it in the first place?

    Why include a widely acknowledged truth on a list of truths? Why wouldn’t I? Why do you continue to question it if you agree it’s been conceded?

    Rather simple really. Even if life did or did not have any ultimate meaning whatsoever doesn’t mean it has NO value, meaning or purpose whatsoever. The answer to the question of life IS life.

    I am not even sure what that is supposed to mean. It would seem to mean the same thing as the answer to the question of life is 42.

    The fact that the abolitionist and civil rights movement had thunderous quotations from your holy book on both sides of these fights should be enough in itself to throw out this assertion. Given this fact it’s worth reminding you that if you criticize one side or the other you immediately impale yourself on a no true Scotsman fallacy.

    Well the same is true of secularists; your patron saint of secular liberties, Thomas Jefferson, was a slave owner to the point of keeping them as concubines. Even when he had the option of freeing them he declined. Whether or not slave owners availed themselves of the truth doesn’t deny the fact that abolitionists and many leading civil rights leaders were religiously motivated.

    Complete and utter baseless ad hominem.

    An ad hom is directing something at the character of a person; I think every person is capable of being corrupted by power. This isn’t directed at atheists in particular, when any person adopts the principle that the people they disagree with are fundamentally deluded and dangerous (rather than good willed and wrong) one should be wary of trusting them with power.

  62. kenetiks says:

    Why include a widely acknowledged truth on a list of truths? Why wouldn’t I? Why do you continue to question it if you agree it’s been conceded?

    I suppose the question is in reality; Why include something that is blatantly obvious in a manner that conveys a negative?

    I am not even sure what that is supposed to mean. It would seem to mean the same thing as the answer to the question of life is 42.

    Bingo.

    If you have found a meaning or purpose in your life, you cannot deny others the ability to do the same. You do not have that authority. Nor has this authority ever been given to any individual. To say that you yourself or any other person of faith, has the right to deny others to find meaningfulness and fulfillment in their lives, as you, any many others like you repeatedly seem to do without even a blink, is utterly astounding to me.

    Well the same is true of secularists; your patron saint of secular liberties, Thomas Jefferson, was a slave owner to the point of keeping them as concubines. Even when he had the option of freeing them he declined. Whether or not slave owners availed themselves of the truth doesn’t deny the fact that abolitionists and many leading civil rights leaders were religiously motivated.

    First, I have no patron saint, of anything.
    Second could there be a religiously motivated person during that time period who also declined such an offer?

    You must accept all that goes along with what you seem to be implying.

    Does it matter to you that the staunchest opposition to both the referenced movements just happened to be religious? Does it matter at all that your holy book contains explicit instructions in these matters? Of course not.

    To claim the freeing of the slaves and the civil rights movement as wholly a display of the unrivaled awesomeness of what happens when a country adopts religion is patently false and the height of arrogance.

    At this point I would like to say something. Here I must applaud you. Unlike your counterparts that I have encountered on the web who control their own forums or blogs, I have not seen you once(that I have noticed) delete a post or edit one. Most of your coreligionists I have had the misfortune to run into are the worst kind of thinkers. They simply silence, delete, sensor or outright bans anyone who even questions them.

    While you are undoubtedly delusional but not quite dangerous =), you are at least, an honest believer.

  63. jackhudson says:

    I suppose the question is in reality; Why include something that is blatantly obvious in a manner that conveys a negative?

    You seem to have two chief complaints about this post; that many of the truths aren’t very evident, and that some of them are too obvious. You seem rather hard to please.

    Bingo.

    If you have found a meaning or purpose in your life, you cannot deny others the ability to do the same. You do not have that authority. Nor has this authority ever been given to any individual. To say that you yourself or any other person of faith, has the right to deny others to find meaningfulness and fulfillment in their lives, as you, any many others like you repeatedly seem to do without even a blink, is utterly astounding to me.

    I think the problem here is really semantic. As I have said, when I talk about having meaning or purpose, I am talking about the reason something (or someone) exists – it seems there is common agreement than in atheism, there is no reason for our existence. What you seem to be addressing is whether one’s life is satisfying apart from having such a purpose – that is quite a different point. But even on that point I would (at least for myself) tie satisfaction to permenance. To see how I mean this, another thought experiment.

    Imagine there was a college you could attend that literally could boast the best education money could by. The amount of learning that occurred there had no equal anywhere – and though it cost dearly, the value of the knowledge gained was unmistakable. There was one caveat – upon graduating, every single person without exception forgot everything they learned during there time there. Various people stayed for various amounts of times – 2 years, 4 years, some a few years more, but no one could ever remember a single thing they learned.

    Would you be satisfied with such an education, knowing all knowledge was available, but couldn’t be retained? I wouldn’t – and that is how I see life experiences in a wholly material impermenant existence.

    Second could there be a religiously motivated person during that time period who also declined such an offer?

    There probably were a number of them, but my point was simply to it wasn’t necessary to be religious to keep and own slaves.

    You must accept all that goes along with what you seem to be implying.
    Does it matter to you that the staunchest opposition to both the referenced movements just happened to be religious? Does it matter at all that your holy book contains explicit instructions in these matters? Of course not.

    It doesn’t because I don’t make the mistake of lumping all beliefs together as ‘religious’; various beliefs adhere to various principles, and it is certain that certain religious principles were employed to oppose and help end slavery . As well, certain religious (and secular) principles were employed to support slavery – I am just pointing out that one cannot say religious beliefs and believers played no role in ending slavery.

    To claim the freeing of the slaves and the civil rights movement as wholly a display of the unrivaled awesomeness of what happens when a country adopts religion is patently false and the height of arrogance.

    The anti-slavery movement was in fact informed by the Second Awakening, a Christian revival that swept young America (which incidentally informed a number of civil rights reforms) but I am not sure that is what you mean by “of the unrivaled awesomeness of what happens when a country adopts religion”.

    At this point I would like to say something. Here I must applaud you. Unlike your counterparts that I have encountered on the web who control their own forums or blogs, I have not seen you once(that I have noticed) delete a post or edit one. Most of your coreligionists I have had the misfortune to run into are the worst kind of thinkers. They simply silence, delete, sensor or outright bans anyone who even questions them.

    Thanks. As a former skeptic myself, I am always frustrated by the lack of willingness of other believers to intellectually engage with those they disagree with. I think it is often the result of fear and lack of confidence in what they believe. Modern Christians don’t take nearly enough time to prepare themselves to defend their faith. I consider it part of the purpose of this blog to encourage them to do so as much as engage with those who would differ with me. That being said, I do have some rules, thought they don’t pertain to the content of what is being said but rather the manner in which one acts while here. I have to say, the group that has come over here from your forum has been pretty civil, and I have enjoyed the exchange tremendously.

    While you are undoubtedly delusional but not quite dangerous =), you are at least, an honest believer.

  64. kenetiks says:

    You seem to have two chief complaints about this post; that many of the truths aren’t very evident, and that some of them are too obvious. You seem rather hard to please.

    That last sentence sounds like it came from my spouse.

    This is kind of correct but completely wrong at the same time. My main objections stem from the religious use of the term “truth” as I have pointed out.

    I think the problem here is really semantic. As I have said, when I talk about having meaning or purpose, I am talking about the reason something (or someone) exists – it seems there is common agreement than in atheism, there is no reason for our existence. What you seem to be addressing is whether one’s life is satisfying apart from having such a purpose – that is quite a different point. But even on that point I would (at least for myself) tie satisfaction to permenance. To see how I mean this, another thought experiment.

    Imagine there was a college you could attend that literally could boast the best education money could by. The amount of learning that occurred there had no equal anywhere – and though it cost dearly, the value of the knowledge gained was unmistakable. There was one caveat – upon graduating, every single person without exception forgot everything they learned during there time there. Various people stayed for various amounts of times – 2 years, 4 years, some a few years more, but no one could ever remember a single thing they learned.

    Would you be satisfied with such an education, knowing all knowledge was available, but couldn’t be retained? I wouldn’t – and that is how I see life experiences in a wholly material impermenant existence.

    This is a very good analogy for obvious reasons.

    I think we’re on the same page here on a couple of ideas. The point I need to make here is that we actually do have an ultimate purpose that is completely biological. We’re ultimately here to simply pass our genes on to further generations to ensure the survival of our species.

    My second main objection impends here. Some of your opinions of atheism are self evident but your statements are constructed to cast them into a negative light.

    It doesn’t because I don’t make the mistake of lumping all beliefs together as ‘religious’; various beliefs adhere to various principles, and it is certain that certain religious principles were employed to oppose and help end slavery . As well, certain religious (and secular) principles were employed to support slavery – I am just pointing out that one cannot say religious beliefs and believers played no role in ending slavery.

    And this was never my intention to imply that there were not individuals who were motivated by religious principles in either movement. That would be silly. I think we both agree that both the secular and the religious were on both sides. Which only supports the notion that no side probably should attempt the claim of exclusivity.

    The anti-slavery movement was in fact informed by the Second Awakening, a Christian revival that swept young America (which incidentally informed a number of civil rights reforms) but I am not sure that is what you mean by “of the unrivaled awesomeness of what happens when a country adopts religion”.

    This is a claim I’ve never run across before. So I’ll have to look into it before I respond directly.

    I was attempting -and evidently failed miserably- to point out was that religious movements and governments do not guarantee any exceptional level of the treatment of minorities.

    Thanks. As a former skeptic myself, I am always frustrated by the lack of willingness of other believers to intellectually engage with those they disagree with. I think it is often the result of fear and lack of confidence in what they believe. Modern Christians don’t take nearly enough time to prepare themselves to defend their faith. I consider it part of the purpose of this blog to encourage them to do so as much as engage with those who would differ with me. That being said, I do have some rules, thought they don’t pertain to the content of what is being said but rather the manner in which one acts while here. I have to say, the group that has come over here from your forum has been pretty civil, and I have enjoyed the exchange tremendously.

    You’re quite welcome. I have enjoyed it myself. It’s not often I can actually engage a religious person in a friendly exchange without torrents of nonsense or murderous rage resulting.

    I watch recorded debates between theists and atheists and enjoy them tremendously.

    Here’s the thing; I completely agree with you on your coreligionists.

    The average Christian has no idea about history, fields of science and a great number of them don’t even know what’s in the bible. I think this needs to change. They are so entrenched in the idea of no questioning anything that they will completely lose it the first question that comes out. I think they see it as a personal offense. My own father is a perfect example. He often proselytizes without knowing it and when I correct him on some ludicrous claim he’s made he immediately flips into a louder and certainly more aggressive tone and states “We’re NOT going to talk about this!”. I chalk this up to insecurities about his faith.

    I’m glad you feel that way about us and I quite understand about having and enforcing rules. The forum we came from has them as well for the same obvious reasons. There are a good number of good and thoughtful people from that forum who enjoy civil debates. Not all of us are civil but almost all would have respected the rules for commenting as we have to deal with the same the other way around. I still think you should give it a try but understand full well why you wouldn’t.

    Regards,
    kenetiks

  65. jackhudson says:

    Some comments from the atheist forum where they are tracking this post:

    From Jutter:

    As often, my contribution was ignored… even by the author who was nonetheless keen to disect most other replies.

    From what I’ve gathered, “God” has a plan for you and that’s to go and tell everyone about this God and the plan he has for them. This doesn’t qualify as finding purpose, in the same way that joining a pyramid scheme doesn’t qualify as landing a job. And indeed people often project something narcisistic and selfserving onto this vapid holy chainmail. (I believe God put me on this earth to be a personal shopper, or some drivel like that). I can make myself usefull, experiences can be worthwhile to me, or there might be someone who I mean the world to. But the purpose we ourselves ascribe to ourselves or others supposedly doesn’t cut it, because -nonono there MUST be more-. Meaning ain’t meaning unless it’s magical holy superduper meaning. The idea that life is meaningless without God and/or an afterlife, is as silly to me as the assumption that icecream would only be tasty if Lady Gaga made it, and you can keep on licking it forever.

    That atheism somehow equals communism if not Stalinism is downright preposterous. Joseph, and other totalitarian clowns like him, provided atheist with yet another flavor of nonsense to avoid, no matter how much you’d like to warp it into a reason to embrace ancient flavors of nonsense like Christianity instead.

    But I’m likely wasting my time here. Chances are you’ll still act as though no brainers like don’t kill me or don’t steal my stuff demand divine inspiration. An you’ll continue to spew bigotry about atheists in the name of righteousness.

    Just to be clear, I tend to respond to all thoughtful and original posts; this one didn’t seem to qualify on either count. First off it’s primarily a tu quoque, which does nothing to counter the notion materialism denudes a life of ultimate purpose or that atheistic regimes (in many cases beside Stalin) have been consistently and unprecedentedly violent. Secondly, it’s repetitive – both of these points have been addressed repeatedly and thoroughly.

    From Azmodan Kijur:

    Do not be too quick to judge the dismissal, Jutter. There are times when being ignored such as that can imply that the statement is far too devastating to be properly addressed. In that context, you comment might be viewed by the author of the blog post as too damaging to acknowledge, thus he acts as if it never happens. On the other side of this coin, the nature of his commentary leads one to suspect an imbalance of some sort. It is never a bad thing when the off-balance move their sauron-like crazy eye from you to other targets. Unless you want to be targeted.

    Wow, hyperbole much? If I was in any way ‘Sauron-like’ (despite the fact it’s a cool comparison) my Nazgûl would be knocking at your door right now. I don’t think it’s me that’s unbalanced in this case.

    On Stalin and the like being atheist, your point and others here is absolutely valid – just because I am an atheist does not mean or imply that most of my actions in my day to day life are informed by or a result of that condition. Stalin was not vile because he was atheist no more than Hitler was vile because he was Christian. They were just plain evil ***** (pardon the language) – mentally imbalanced murdering monsters are monsters without reference to their race, creed, gender or occupation. To point them out and say that they kill “because” of something is ridiculous. They kill because they are monsters and are more than willing to use whatever convenient blanket is nearby to guise themselves with.

    I think the problem here is that one is assuming ‘evil’ without referencing a source that objectively allows us to call an action evil. Stalin didn’t consider his actions evil, but important to advancing an objective – apart from an objective source of morality, one doesn’t have a measure by which to determine his actions were in fact evil. Of course I consider his actions evil, but that is because I believe it transgresses an objective good, namely preserving the life of humans who were made in the image of God and over who only God has the authority to judge.

    Raynot responded:

    For example, perhaps atheists do not have an ‘ultimate meaning’ for life that they can articulate easily; perhaps atheism does not have an ‘objective’ morality. But these claims are only meaningful as ‘brutal facts of atheism’ if theists do have these things.
    I’ll address points 4 and 1 in that order, mainly using examples from the Christian group of sects, since they are the most familiar to me.

    “Atheists have no objective morality”. ‘Objective’ here seems to mean ‘written down’. If it does, then there’s no contest. Atheists do not subscribe to a written down code of ethics. Most atheists (and theists) obey the secular laws (which are written down). But the point I would challenge is whether theists have ‘objective morals’. Here are two of their God’s rules: i) Don’t kill ii) Kill adulterers and homosexuals. I think it’s uncontentious that these two rules are in the Bible. How does a Christian decide whether to kill adulterers and homosexuals in the face of contradictory objective moral rules? I suggest that they apply subjective judgements about the relative wisdom of those laws. They might explain this as “prayer, seeking God’s guidance, ‘soul-searching’, etc.” Is this much different from what an atheist does (albeit that atheists don’t use these words to explain the process of examining one’s conscience).

    Actually, those ‘two rules’ are not in the Bible. God articulates a moral principle in the 10 Commandments (which is consistent with the principle articulated in Genesis 9) which says essentially in the Hebrew, “Do not murder’. In the Old Testament civil code it assigns various penalties to be applied by the nation of Israel following a trial and conviction. This isn’t a contradiction; it is how we as humans carry out laws based on certain moral ideas. And the idea of a ‘conscience’ cannot exist in a materialistic worldview – an atheistic couldn’t justify having one based on what they claim to believe.

    Now, putting aside the objective moral rules that tell Christians to kill, let’s concentrate on the rule that says not to kill. How useful is this? Does it give us guidance about stem cell research, IVF, nuclear weapons, whether we should use condoms? No. It’s an extremely general injunction against killing, which atheists can generally also agree to. Is it any more useful for having been written down? No, atheists could also make a list of all possible moral rules and then choose subjectively between contrary rules – but it doesn’t seem worth the effort.

    Well, as the command is not to murder (that is that men do not have the authority to take an innocent life) it gives us great guidance in regard all those issues – though I am not sure how a condom would kill someone.

    It shouldn’t need pointing out that most of God’s objective moral laws in the Bible are not taken seriously by Christians (who routinely trim their beards, etc). Again, if ‘objective’ written rules are not followed objectively, how is having them an advantage over not having them?
    In summary, whatever ‘objective’ written rules theists have, they still must be subjectively interpreted before they can be applied. Hence the absence of written moral laws for atheists is no more a ‘brutal fact’ than a Christian having to decide between which written laws to follow.

    Well, no, none of God’s objective moral laws should be ignored by Christians. Many of the Old Testament civil laws and Levitical standards don’t apply because most Christians are Gentiles to whom they don’t apply. A cursory reading of Act’s and the Epistles explains this.

    A brief word on “atheists have no ultimate meaning”. Again, this is only a valid criticism if theists do have an “ultimate meaning”.

    Well, no, again this would be the very common fallacy of a tu quoque; it applies whether or not it is true of theistic beliefs.

    I’m comfortable with the absence of an ultimate meaning of life, though I can understand how some might find it disconcerting. Is “Worshipping God” really a solution for an ultimare purpose? In what sense can this provide a meaning? Does it even have a meaning? Some might interpret this, again subjectively, as uttering boring prayers; others might prefer to increase their awareness of the existence of the marvellous improbabilities and beauty of nature. But neither of these reveal a meaning for life. God, as I understand the usual concept, does not need worship. He’s above that. So worshipping God must be for the benefit of humans. So, we have God creating creating man and given him a perceived need (to worship something), and then offering himself as the object of that worship. How is that a meaning?

    Actually, in Christian confessions and Catechisms, man’s purpose is understood to be to, “glorify God and enjoy Him forever”. In some ways, atheists approach this understanding (as jcarlson did above) by speaking of their awe and enjoyment of studying creation. If God is in fact the eternal Author and Creator of creation, then the awe experienced, and the enjoyment to be had in His presence is literally an infinite multiplication of whatever temporal joy or awe atheists experience. And unlike atheists, it isn’t an experience that is completely lost at the end.

  66. […] had orignally considered posting about the atheism undemining the notion of Free Will as one of the 7 Brutal Truths About Atheism but then it would have made it 8 brutal truths, and that didn’t have the same ring to it. […]

  67. […] those of the New Atheist variety concerning the importance of meaning. Whenever I point out (as I often have) that the materialism and naturalism upon which New Atheism is derived essentially renders human […]

  68. JS says:

    1) This gives our life freedom of purpose. We can be what we want when we want. We Have no set path for us to follow and we will make of our live what we choose is best. We’ll stumble, our live won’t be flowery, but it will be ours.

    2) Not true in the least. Anyone who is an atheist because of another telling him to be is no better the religious people. to be atheist you must understand both science and religion, psychology and philosophy, History and people. you can’t be an atheist without being smart. If you do, you believe it in faith, the main thing an Atheists hates

    3) This is true, but neither religious people. the only difference is that we search for our answers, yours are all written down. We don’t know anything to be absolutely true, this is why you need to be humble and open to be an atheist. otherwise you are religious in your ignorance.

    4) Correct again, but what we have are goals, this goal is order. civilisation. we must advance it no matter what. yes, there is no book, of laws but what is better, an imperfect book constantly rewritten to attain perfection or a very outdated perfect book with archaic and barbaric laws.

    5) Wow, it is nice of you to forget the crusader regime, or the inquisition, or the religious wars in China and Japan, India and Africa. Atheism was as much an excuse for them to replace God as the inquisition was for power.

    6) People are inherently unequal from the start, equality leads to communism and that is horror. what atheists believe in is equal opportunity. If you don’t believe me, try playing a Beethoven piece or creating music the quality of the beetles. what we should have is the capacity for both poor and rich to have the same opportunity for success.

    7) We’ll always be the minority? what? in France, 1/3 are atheist, 1/3 are agonist (even if they affiliate with religious groups). I don’t know about you but if you don’t see the charts, with the current speed of Religious-atheist conversion, there should be no religion in the next 130 years

  69. lancejz says:

    I am going to post a good rebuttal for this:

    By Sam Rollins

    1. Atheist’s lives are worth more.
    We have no afterlife to strive for, no eternity. There isn’t some abundance of time for us to exist, and like rare gemstones, the less there is, the more precious it is. One long, INCREDIBLY abundant existence makes life of less value. Knowing we only have this one and ONLY chance to exist makes life far more precious, and FAR more important to get right.

    2. People are NOT Atheists because of the time and place of their birth.
    I was born in 1990, and adopted into a VERY Christian home, in Georgia USA. Georgia is incredibly religious and INCREDIBLY conservative…I live in New York now, but I was an Atheist before I moved here. I simply was a clever kid. I asked questions, and figured out that, like Santa, god was just a figment of people’s imaginations, and not worth my time. I did that by the time I was 8 despite being VERY well-trained to listen to my elders at home and in the church. I was just naturally curious and never lost my skills of critical thinking. That is what led me to Atheism. Many Atheists have a similar story to tell…In fact, a VAST majority of us came from strict religious homes, and many of us were raised on the Bible Belt in religious schools, or public schools with religious policies. Outside America, there are Atheists in Africa(And those with religion primarily follow ancient African beliefs, not Christianity) and practically NO Christians in India(The VAST majority is Hindu, some are Muslim…and there are many Atheists there too). Atheism is NOT a product of good fortune either. If anything, it’s the opposite. Most people on the streets or in starving countries are Atheists, realizing no loving god could allow such suffering. These are simple facts, ones anyone can figure out with extreme ease.

    3. You can never be certain that what you believe to be true is true.
    While Atheists have science, logic, evidence, proof, and EVERYTHING to back us up, religion, be it Christian, Muslim, Hindu, or Pagan, has none of the above. You only can read your texts and assume that it’s the truth because those books say so…which means all of nothing.

    4. We evolved with Empathy, which is where morality comes from.
    Morality doesn’t come from some god. It comes from empathy. What’s empathy? Well, you know that line “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” ? THAT is empathy. Don’t say or do something to someone that you wouldn’t want them to do to you. It’s a natural emotion/sense of morality which is evolved into most (if not all) living creatures. Humanity isn’t the only one with a moral center. We did evolve to have it.

    5. Religion has been the #1 reason for murder, war and death for ages.
    I will concede that Stalin and Mao were Atheists. I will admit that they did awful things and killed a disturbing number of people for their causes. However, they didn’t do these things in the name of Atheism, and even the few crimes they DID commit in the name or Atheism can never hold a candle to Hitler, the Dark Ages, the Crusades, the murder, rape, and dehumanization of Native Americans(not to mention stolen land in this case) and African slaves in the name of Christianity, the people murdered for religious purposes in Mayan temples, the people stoned to death, beheaded, hanged, burned, etc…in the name of Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, etc…and so on…The crimes against humanity done in the name of some deity is utterly disturbing. I would say more, but it ties into the next statement(which is invariably the WORST of all)

    6. Human rights and Equality DO exist
    I will start with the single most laughable and disgusting line of the explanation: “A healthy person who can contribute to society would have more much worth than an ill or handicapped person” Stephen Hawking ALONE blows this line straight out of the water. He is by FAR the most brilliant mind of our times, and is about as handicapped as a person can possibly get! But I will say this: No. People aren’t made to be COPIES of each other. However, that doesn’t mean they’re not equal as people, and NO ONE is of less worth than anyone else. One person may have incredible math skills, another great acting skills or great art skills. Neither is less valuable as a person. And to add even more, NONE of these things is relevant to the point of human equality. A gay person has no less value than a straight person. But if you want to assume there IS a set value on a person for the way they were born, then the gay person has MORE value. Why? Because we are OVER populated. Adoption is EXTREMELY important. We need to stop adding to the population until we can make sure EVERY child gets a home and a family. However, at the end of the day, as people, gays are NO more or less important than straight people. Why? They’re human. It’s the only qualifier. Only people who have turned away from their natural empathy to a hateful, sexist, homophobic, racist book could EVER see it any other way.

    7. Atheism is growing at a VERY fast rate.
    We won’t be the minority forever. In fact, at this rate? We’ll be the MAJORITY some time between 2038 and 2041. Religion is on its way out. Face the facts and deal with them.

  70. Deric says:

    I came across this blog while doing some research on atheism. This an old thread. First of all, let me say let’s leave all of the above points aside and turn to something else, something more academic and ‘technical’ so as to say. Granted, atheists and non-atheists alike have done their fair share of atrocities on this earth as long as historical records have existed. To the usual atheists who say Christians are so out of league with science, let me first state that I hold a Bachelor’s degree in Biology as well as a Master’s degree in Anthropology, the two disciplines of study that regularly don’t get along well 😀 with my personal beliefs. The basic points I am going to dicuss here are few and simple.

    1. Religion – Why religion exist? How did it came into existence? Why is religion a cultural universal? Religion is something we find in human cultures all over the world. Academicians, historians, scientists still have to come up with a solid explaination for this. Yes various hypotheses and theories exist but they are merely speculations based on historical/archaeological evidence.

    2. Innateness – Why do most people (Please note: not all), have an innate desire/urge/compulsion to believe in, and worship a higher being/force/spirit? Archeological evidences from as early as the Neolithic era indicate figurines being used as objects of worship. Most primitive as well as ‘advanced’ cultures around the world have some sort of religion or the other steeped in their culture. (Again, this links to point no.1.) Why is that so??

    3. Cultural evidences – The most famous example here is the story of the Flood. This is a topic that my university professors were very uncomfortable with. Overwhelming evidence of historical as well as cultural records shows the story of the flood is common among many different cultures, many of which have absolutely no contact with each other. We have flood stories from Asia, the Americas, Pacific, Europe. They all have a common theme. The gods/God unleash a flood upon the earth but one or more than one are saved. This can almost be also termed as a cultural universal (same as with the stories of giants, which have archaeological evidence). Science disproves the occurence of the flood but culture says otherwise. What are we missing here?? Even many academicians, historians, scientists are also asking themselves the same question.

    4. Life – What gives life? What makes an organism alive? The most troubling fact here is that most scientists grudgingly admit they really don’t know. Even the primordial soup theory is just an assumption, very much unreplicable in the best lab in the world. A mixture of elements combining to give life?? That by itself is quite humorous indeed because sure, elements can combine to form other elements, simplest eg is Hydrogen and Oxygen form water but life???? Even at the cell level, what gives it life? What ‘breathes’ life and gives life is something out of the grasp of science for now.

    I could go on and on and on with so many other points as well but for now these are some that science at best can come up with some very unsatisfactory assumptions. You see, the many questions that science cannot answer, religion provides. Its that simple. The problem with science is that sometimes, the very tools, methodologies and philosophies that guides it are too rigid and fixed. For eg, in the above examples, they cannot be applied to produce a rock solid proven theory. At best, they can only come up with suppositions, probable theories, hypotheses, assumptions which in fact are dangerous because if one were to believe in them, its like leaning against an unstable or shaky wall. The ones that are proven beyond doubt, yes indeed they deserve recognition but the ones that aren’t… well that’s why not everyone is an atheist isn’t it? 😉

  71. bacon says:

    Every one is using horrible arguments. I am an agnostic atheist. I don’t believe in god, and I believe that even if god did exist there is no possible way to PROVE the existence. Now your claims against atheism are somewhat valid.
    1. We don’t have meaning, until we decide what we want our lives to mean.
    2.I have lived homeless, and I have lived hungry. Even now I struggle. I have a phone, that’s it, no tv, no computer. A bed, a phone, an apartment I can barley afford.
    3. My reality is what I make of it. A horrible respond, but like animals we are taught what is real and what is not by our instincts and our upbringings.
    4. I agree. We make up our morals, I don’t see anything wrong with that. When ever someone does something it is in their own free will. So be it.
    5. As stated above each athiest chooses their own morals, just as religions and atheists throughout history have abandoned moral reasoning to do harmful things, so will all generations to pass. They will choose their own path, as I have.
    6. No religion, believes in a complete human equality. Not all atheists choose it either. Slavery was thought to be a right of the white man “by gods grace”. Now it is not(not by all). The definition of equality evolves as do our understandings.
    7. If it is true, fine. But what does that truly matter? Cults are also minorities it does not sway them. I believe in nothing, if I was the only one it would not sway me.

    Yes my made up moralities is the focus of my argument. I chose my moralities from the world around me and continuously decide if I should follow them or not. I am not a good person. You can argue your points to the end of time, as could I. But after our first statements as with all religion to atheist arguments we would simply repeat ourselves, your blind faith against my inadequate reasoning. To each his own.
    Also, athieism is a broad term for lack of religion, unlike religious groups we aren’t all “reading the same book”, our book is our life, unique to each of us. Who ever Mao is…he was wrong.

  72. edelmiro says:

    I’ve never seen a piece of literature so riddled in fallacy.

    1. you assume atheists all believe in evolutionary theory.
    2. just like religious conversion proves religion isn’t entirely local, as an atheist born into a catholic family in the midst of mexican poverty i am living proof that is a lie.
    3. atheism is not a belief system, it is simply a disbelief in a god/gods. Ive met atheists that believe some outlandish things that refute this argument completely. for one a superior alien race taught us what we know…. don’t wanna touch that one with a ten foot pole.
    4. this is because morality is not objective, any small study in anthropology reveals this simple truth. certain cultures have even rationalized murder as morally permissable by a approching it from a utilitarian perspective. and looking at those cultures subjectively i happen to agree murder is okay in some instances.
    5. okay you got one a couple atheists turned out to be bad eggs, but since we are talking statistics stalin never actually killed anyone or at least it was never documented. technically all he did was sign lots of death lists… those doing the killing may have been “believers” for all we know, saying that those commiting murder on his behalf were also atheist is mere speculation.
    6. here again you employ that assumption fallacy you seem to be very fond of.
    7. kay so you got two big whoop. you’re right utilizing biological human appraisal people are not equal however that is no reason to deny anyone a human rights. rights in general are all lies we created in order to co-exist and prosper, human rights are no exception. when the UHRC held a council defining human rights ( a council that america attended and ratified have you) it didnt stop america from contridicting itself in banning gay marriage. you see rights are a load of bullshit that we just made up to uphold “morals” that were currently believe in they are powerful, and meaningless all at the same time.
    8. yep you got another one, we are a minority and maybe always will be, but if history has proven anything is that christianity will eventually also become a minority and drift into mythology. religions wax and wane and eventually end up in a history book. except hinduism that mofo seems like its in it for the long haul!

    so i guess what im trying to say is that since the only thing you actually know about an atheists is that they dont believe in god/gods, then that is the only “Brutal” truth that has a logical foundation, anything else is based off assumptions that may or may not be well founded.

  73. Adam M says:

    Atheists don’t belong to a religion were free from the beginning of life we only could believe in religion if that was the only thing we could believe in doing at such a young age religion like a blanket if don’t hold on to like others your different and unless you obey so magical kindergarten story that any child would believe in your tricked.Most people in religion usually are kinda clam others want domination,other to believe or others to die because they don’t believe,And for a person who made us and never dies my question is who the creator of god who god’s wife,what if all the gods in every religion were actually just brothers separated that made those religion not know they are family but wait if god was so pure why are their so many different races around each person has their own god as for myself my god is my mother and my god’s Creator is my grandmother i could and prove my bloodline unlike certain people(GOD)cough cough sorry if that got you all red put don’t worry fantasy are still here so clam don’t and don’t kill me for a figure that can’t even use it own voice to speak to me at least my god can talk see the differences in what real and not also if we had no morals are is atheism as you call us,how are so big no one wants to fight civil war or world war it past that you hang onto is the reason you are able to advance with life unless your ordered to do something then you feel important the reason you feel way you do for is probably tradition you can’t give up on or something to lock your past in stead of confronting it and moving on but unless you can’t forgive yourself you need god to forgive you for sin’s or thought’s you can’t forget. From what i have heard,seen on news, read about religion it feels just feel’s like that every religion want’s to kill each other for not listening to their god for living for 15 yea'[s right now and knowing what i can i rather have my own mind than separate our race the HUMAN RACE than be mindless goat that kills,love and hate’s in the name of NOTHING(GOD).

  74. I got to non-non-theists and had to stop. Made your post invalid.

  75. 7 Equal HARD TRUTHS that make these brutal Facts, ABSOLUTE LIES.

    1. [The lie: Your life has no meaning.]
    The truth:
    Your DEATH has no meaning, Living to die is a waste of your life, worshiping death cults is a waste of your life. Wether you make your life worth something or waste your life. Letting LYING DEATH CULTS steal 10% of your income, in the name of god, is wasteful and stupid.

    2. [The Lie: You are only an atheist by accident of birth.]
    The truth:
    You are only a worshiper of ANYTHING, OR NOTHING by the nurturing of your parents and the ability to use your own brain. IF all indoctrination is outlawed, all versions of the abraham death cults were removed, there would still be an innate question, “Why?” People will turn to Con men and liars who claim to know, reguardless of the when or the where.

    3. [The Lie:–This one is not a lie, but guess what?]
    The truth:
    Only absolute fools are absolutely certain about anything. If you don’t question everything, ESPECIALLY SOMEONE SAYING “I SAID SO.” You are not a human, and you’re not alive.
    The Truth:
    A book that says the world and all of existence is younger than it is absolutely wrong. A book, just like everything else, can’t be made before it is.

    4. [The Lie:–There is no objective way to evaluate moral choices.]
    CENSORED TRUTH.
    The truth: All morality is objective. Society existed before religion, society will exist forever without any given religion, as long as that religion doesn’t create an apocalyptic Xenocide(all life on a planet).

    5. [The Lie:–The most Brutal Regimes have been Atheistic]
    The HARD ABSOLUTE TRUTH:
    Brutal: Violent, terroristic, blatantly evil regimes don’t cause wholesale slaughter. You can’t terrorize the dead. Hitler and Pol Pot were CHRISTIANS, wither you like it or not. Mao is Bhuddist, Stalin was a hard core certified Red Hat Eastern Catholic-When He Came Into Power.
    NONE OF THESE DID ANY MURDERS OR CONQUERING IN THE NAME OF ATHEISM. ONLY RELIGIOUS COWARDS MURDERED TO CONQUER—IN THE NAME OF GOD–.

    6. [Lie via omission of the whole: Human rights and equality don’t exist.]
    The truth:
    The whole Statement, IN CONTEXT, Human rights and equality don’t exist in misogynistic, swinging bits from the means power religions and truth.

    7. [You will always be a small minority.]
    Of one, You will always be you, you will never be anyone but you. You are not a community, you are an individual, and only you counts as you.

    Your community will always be a minority in a galactic scale.

  76. Lindsay says:

    Just because atheists don’t follow a sacred text do not mean that they do not have morals. In fact, one of the many reasons people are against religion is the questionable morals included in sacred texts such as slavery in the bible. To say that atheist don’t have morals is a ridiculous and insulting claim. It’s called being a decent person and wanting to do it for yourself, and not just because you would be punished by a deity. There is also more equality in the atheist community because once again, women’s equality is not included in many sacred texts. Muslims believe women are meant to serve men and should not be allowed to drive. Once again, this claim is false and the opposite of the truth.

  77. Jella says:

    Interesting to see atheists getting worked up over this article. But why? In your world, God doesn’t exist. The writer isn’t “burning” in hell for this piece. And if people start hating you for it, note that hate is a part of life. You feeling hurt is not a reason. Everyone feels bad, People die in wars. I am not being sensitive, but going over logic shows this is the truth.

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