If you are not agnostic, then you have faith in something

A mate sent me this today. It makes some interesting points.

Without any type of faith everyone would be agnostic. but as we know not everyone is.

Bottom line: if you are not agnostic, then you have faith in something.

We have to be careful about the word proof, it’s usually reserved for mathematics and in that context a proof has the status of being true with no room whatsoever left for doubt. Proof cannot be used in the same way when it comes to thinking about how evidence in the world relates to a truth claim. Instead we then take proof to mean ( from Merriam Webster): The cogency of evidence that compels acceptance by the mind of a truth or a fact b : the process or an instance of establishing the validity of a statement especially by derivation from other statements in accordance with principles of reasoning.

So do I have firm belief in anything which is inadequately supported by evidence and reason? Not that I know of.

The closest thing I can think of is that I helplessly and habitually assume that the fundamental ‘laws’ with which we try to describe how the universe behaves, will still be relevant tomorrow. For instance, I assume that if I drop a pen it will fall to the floor. But if I’m thinking carefully, I’m aware that this assumption is not grounded in evidence.

To use David Hume’s expression, it seems that the assumption that the universe will remain fundamentally the same from moment to moment is a ‘habit of thought’ (one which is necessary for survival). So although there’s a sense in which I could be said to ‘believe’ in the uniformity of nature, I think it would be misleading to call this a ‘firm belief’.

The more we hear atheists claim that they base their atheism on science the more we are being alerted to the fact that what they are really admitting is that they are purposefully restricting that which they consider acceptable to consider. This is the very opposite of freethought; this is restricted well-within-the-box-group-think adherence.

They are purposefully restricting their vision and then concluding that there is nothing more to see

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153 thoughts on “If you are not agnostic, then you have faith in something

  1. Thirty thousand years of billions saying
    They are purposefully restricting their vision and then concluding that there is nothing more to see.
    One religion about another religion and another ,and another etc etc etc etc etc .
    And some how those like myself who step back and watch the egos self gratification are blamed for the mess. Typical !! shot the messenger.

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    • Ah Bryan,
      It struck me that it would be an interesting exercise for me to offer my answers to that little questionaire that has been tossed about here. here goes.

      1.Is the mental act of becoming an atheist in the first place (i.e., initially discarding theism as valid) voluntary?
      Answer. I’m not sure what is meant by ‘becoming an atheist’. But if it means at the time you realized that you no longer had any belief in a deity, then of course, that realization is automatic and was not chosen in any way. If it means the moment or period after discovering this lack of belief, then of course to declare yourself an atheist is totally voluntary. The alternative at that time would or might be to re-examine one’s experience, or to reject the lack of belief, and try to regain the original theism.

      2.Once one has rejected god belief (i.e., is an atheist), is it meaningful to describe the continued rejection of theism as voluntary?
      Answer. As I stated in the response to question 1, the answer is Of course. But the original discovery of one’s atheism is involuntary. The continued rejection hopefully will be carefully and methodically examined.

      3.As an atheist, could you voluntarily choose to embrace theism?
      Answer. Well I’m personally not a Theist though I dont match the definition of atheist. Could I voluntarily choose to embrace theism? Only if theism became real to me, and I became convinced of its veracity. I would be a fool and dishonest not to in such case. I always leave the door open for any development or growth in my spiritual life.

      Rian

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      • Bryan,
        Once again, atheism IS NOT AN ENTITY that proclaims anything. As Stu states it is a term for the state of having no gods. Any further issues or conclusions that follow that state are productions of the human mind.
        Rian.

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  2. This seems to suggest that Agnostics broadly have no faith, I don’t think that is entirely accurate.
    A thought from the Urban Dictionary:
    “The realisation of knowing that “we cannot know everything” is the backbone of the agnostic belief.”
    Also
    “An agnostic knows that just because there is no physical proof of the existence of a higher being, it does not automatically mean that one does not exist.”

    There is apparently also Agnostic theism:
    “The view of those who do not claim to know of the existence of any deity, but still believe in such an existence.” – (Wikipedia)

    Most people that I know who choose to call themselves Agnostic are in fact frustrated with religion and all of the “This is the one true word of God” attitudes held by the people within them. So many religions, so many “one true words”. Not without faith, just tired of an indefinite being treated as a definite.

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    • Hi all,
      afraid it’s me again getting on my platform, – and in a few installments too.

      Quote from Bryan’s Column>>> ‘The more we hear atheists claim that they base their atheism on science the more we are being alerted to the fact that what they are really admitting is that they are purposefully restricting that which they consider acceptable to consider. This is the very opposite of free-thought; this is restricted well-within-the-box-group-think adherence. They are purposefully restricting their vision and then concluding that there is nothing more to see.’

      Now really Bryan, just how is this restriction ANY DIFFERENT from the restrictions that a ‘faithful’ Christian applies in his life? Christians also restrict themselves to a box, – to the box specifically of their Bible, and their own understanding of the church’s traditional dogma and discipline. Now I hear or read many Evangelical Christian utterances that indicate the determination or endeavour NEVER to believe or to be swayed by non-Biblical claims or teachings. Those folks are clearly not freethinkers, are they? Now are you actually criticizing the principle of free thought, or recommending it?

      But atheists like all scientifically minded folk, are normally open to a world of new possibilities, as new horizons in research or theory come up for them. The mistakes made in the past, like old scientific modelling, get corrected in the long run by OTHER SCIENTISTS, dont they? I cant really recall science making any strides forward or changing, simply because of criticisms or exposes offered IN THE TERMINOLOGY OF RELIGION OR RELIGIOUS FAITH! (Sure, religious individuals who happen to BE scientists themselves, have corrected earlier theories or principles VIA SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH, but that is simply not the same thing. Apart from great historical moments in history like the Council of Nicea, and the Reformation, nothing ever seems to change or revolutionize the thinking and the dogmatics of most Christians. Monica quoted about how if the Exodus story of Moses on the mountain were proved wrong, then that would destroy all her faith. No such thing for the atheist, whenever individual key platforms of Evolution have been demolished. Whereas Christianity is clearly like a total package that must be accepted in its entirety, and believed in.

      More to follow, Rian.

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      • Episode 2.
        I guess the problem is that Christians feel just so certain that the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth has already in their hands from time immemorial, and that nothing, no revelations even can possibly bring about significant change. But even so, those Evangelicals are still so certain that the Catholic party can and should embrace change; while those same Catholics are certain sure that the Evangelicals should change, and of course, vice versa. Ah well! I just recalled one particular Christian revolution that surprisingly took off like mad, creating in the process an extraordinary new fad in apocalyptical belief among certain of the faithful. That was the concept of the proverbial Rapture which only came to life, after being ‘revealed’ to a private individual (if I recall rightly), sometime in the late 19th century, after never having previously been a standard teaching within the church.

        Next quote<<<<‘If you are not agnostic, then you have faith in something.‘- and – ‘I don’t have enough faith to be an atheist.’

        Only someone who is used to and schooled in Christian type faith could say this sort of thing. When our proverbial atheist is (as the Christians say) living by faith, (and amazingly in the process, demonstrating MORE faith than the Christians would ever be able to apply or summon) surely we must keep in mind that the atheist envisages no kind of Big Brother in the sky, watching his every thought word and deed. The atheist is not examining his conscience at every second to see if he has applied faith appropriately and obediently. By contrast, if Biblically based, our Christian has had this need for faith drummed into him maybe for all his life, – and realizes that he STILL FAILS AT IT!!! He also feels profound guilt about this. Just how very much less will the atheist endeavour to exert such a thing as faith when every day, he is pouring all his energies into the difficult and demanding job of living, without any concern about a big Spy in the sky enforcing Laws about an ongoing faith.

        I don’t think that the term ‘have faith in’ is a really accurate one. Suppose that I happened to be a Christian (and maybe of many years standing) and I claimed that I hold a Christian faith, because the conclusion I came to years back was a Christian one. But though I can ‘call up’ thoughts about that faith just whenever I like, actually in practice, I rarely THINK about it; AND as it happens, I merely take that ‘faith’ for granted as just always being in the background of my mind. Well, would you describe that person as fulfilling any of the normal demands to have faith? Is that person truly a Christian? Is that person ‘living’ by faith in any sense, I ask? Like those proverbial devils quoted in the Epistle, he simply ‘believes’ (though he is unlikely to tremble), – and doubtless considers that that is enough to prove faith!

        Cheers Rian. Next episode to come.

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      • Episode 3.

        To continue.

        Now we contemplate lots of the atheists around. How many of them actually indulge this elusive ‘thing’ called atheism with anything like the faith that devout and twice-born Christians cultivate? Building up or living by ‘faith’ is never suggested or insisted on by any atheist book or authority. Keep in mind that if it is with some sort of comparable faith that a person expects the daylight to come as normally every 24 hours, or for his street to be capable of having him drive along it, or a pencil falls to accustomed order, Yeah? – well, Come On!

        Fr’eavens sake, just about every single Christian I’ve ever known has maintained some sort of faith in loads of everyday things (which of course, just have to be the products or end results of science or technology), exactly in the same way as every atheist that I’ve known. When we have faith in the rules of nature and the current findings of Science and Technology, we are actually just taking them for granted, and NOT endeavouring to have them backed up by an extra thing called faith.

        Constantly all through his life, the atheist observes that the issues of science and technology are demonstrated, proven and vindicated; while by contrast the issues of religion cannot be put under the microscope or demonstrated infallibly in any textbook argument. Our friendly neighbourhood Christian uses and demonstrates exactly that same workings of things as well. Over the years I’ve been involved with loads and loads of Christian folk, and engaged myself with many of them in debate etc. The things on which we have agreed have been quite demonstrable in one way or another. Whereas the claims on which we disagree are essentially things that the Christians are in the long run unable to demonstrate. The Science and the Technology that the atheist treasures are exactly the same Sci. and Tech. that the Christian engages in and relies on or HAS FAITH in if you prefer.

        Interesting to me that the Evangelical Christian view or definition of Faith actually appears to change its nature, depending on whether it is to be applied to Evangelical Christians or to atheists. So applied to the above ECs, Faith is the product of an ongoing struggle against doubt. It represents the gold standard of Christian living. It depicts the demarcation line between being a faithful follower of Christ, and being just a non-thinking believer (of which one gets the impression constitutes the vast majority of Christian ‘followers’, – a majority that appears to be composed mainly of individuals in everyone else’s church!) It is a quality or a sign of the indwelling Holy Spirit in the Christian that is claimed to be largely absent in all but those few who are proving ‘faithful’.

        By contrast, that extraordinary faith, which is curiously attributed to the classical atheist, in practice is actually something that means a confidence that is little tempted by doubt. In fact it is not often thought about IF it actually and truly exists. As seen or experienced by the Christian though, presumably, it is like the result of two opposing spiritual authorities battling it out within his deepest self. But the word Faith is virtually never mentioned by any atheistic authorities, or detailed within any books on atheism. (But that is of course, other than when there is any discussion there directly about Christianity.) Faith is simply never taught like a principle as such. In my association with many atheists, Rationalists, Skeptics or Humanists, never did I hear or read any reference to Faith as being present or recommended for their application.

        cheers Rian. more to come.

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      • Episode 4.

        Neither Atheistic Scientists, Darwinians, or Evolutionists have ‘sacred’ principles or books that would allow their world to be destroyed by doubts. Maybe the only major exceptions would have to be those closet Christians among them, who have been inwardly struggling against Christian concepts for years. They are all ready to be turned if and when they get some sort of spiritual shake-up.

        Look, those non-thinking Christian followers who are not convinced Evangelical persons just have to carry much the same degree of ‘Faith’ as do the atheists. In the atheists, perhaps some sort of Faith is perhaps present, but is totally in the background. It is not actively propagated and its absence is not despised or condemned by the atheistic community. No-one is ever castigated or criticized for failing to do in-depth self examination over their lack of such a so-called Faith; nor is anyone applauded among atheists for having sufficient faith ‘in Science’. These things are taken for granted.

        The arguments demonstrate that ‘necessary’ huge faith required by the atheist, are really only to be considered as the musings of persons who had been brain-washed or trained by the Christianity they had adopted. Some special world view or life-style that atheism appears to represent to the convinced Christian, is not really an accurate picture of just what the atheist really lives by, and has adopted.

        The conscientious Christian cannot conceive of anyone living day by day without reiterating or rehearsing a series of crucial aphorisms in his mind concerning this crucial faith. He cant imagine living day by day, without a sacred book or the sense of a superior ‘Being’ or God watching and judging him. And conceiving of atheists who don’t live with such narrow directions and inward obsessions, as are typical for the Christian, going on, is pretty inconceivable for him. That atheist he concludes must have a huge faith in order to fill in the gap.

        So if you found a Christian with the kind of ‘faith’ (that kind of unthinking ‘back of the mind’ faith that is generally true for atheists) then you would literally be judging him as having really NO legitimate Christian faith at all! Be consistent and realistic you Christians, before you continue to blithely accuse atheists as living with or having faith. How ironic it is, that Christians can say that adopting atheism would take far more faith than they have. Wow, so if atheists are possessed of more of this desirable thing called faith than Christians usually have, then surely Christians should envy the atheists then!

        But the faith that is actually common to BOTH the Christian and the atheist, remains just that general feeling of confidence in all the innumerable conditions and situations of daily life, and of the facilities offered within our culture such as in Science and Technology. No difference whatsoever, – OTHER than in regard to that EXTRA dimension of the supernatural side of life, n’est ce pas? Both parties believe in and utilize Science identically otherwise.

        that’s the lot.
        Cheers, Rian.

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  3. “The more we hear atheists claim that they base their atheism on science the more we are being alerted to the fact that what they are really admitting is that they are purposefully restricting that which they consider acceptable to consider. This is the very opposite of freethought; this is restricted well-within-the-box-group-think adherence.”

    They are correct and your mate seems to be smoking something unhealthy if you believe him Bryan!

    I am prepared to accept that if you are standing or sitting on a floor, with nothing between the pen and the floor, it will fall to the floor. And that sir, is one way of purposefully restricting that which one is prepared to accept as worthy of consideration.

    I am prepared to accept that if you are standing on a balcony and drop the pen, it will not fall to the floor that you are standing but to the floor below that. And once again I am purposefully restricting what one is prepared to accept as worthy of consideration, well within a box group think adherence.

    I am prepared to accept that if you have something between your pen and the floor, it will not drop to the floor but to whatever is between the pen and the floor. Again, I am purposefully restricting what one is prepared to accept as worthy of consideration, well within a box group think adherence..

    I am prepared to accept that if I am in outer space, and there is no artificial gravity, dropping the pen might not fall to the floor. But once again I am restricting what I consider acceptable to consider, well within a box group think adherence..

    I am not prepared to accept that dropping the pen will result in it magically flying around and killing half a dozen of my enemies, similar to what is depicted the film “guardians of the galaxy” and “star wars”. And once again I am restricting that which is considering acceptable to consider, well within a box group think adherence..

    The fact is that you cannot escape the well-within-the-box-group adherence, if that box group adherence is based upon absolute truths. The best we can do is look at what constitutes absolute truth and the context in which our scientific or religious speculations harmonize with those absolute truths.

    The two words which seem to be lacking in your mate’s material. Context and absolute truths. And whether you’re talking about existence of God, evolution, Sharia Law, GLBT, sooner or later the debate centers upon context and absolute truths (which are often ignored).

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    • Yeah but what is truth? You were totally wrong, for example, about Galileo. Are you prepared to accept that?

      I wonder if you’ll own up to that or just ignore it like your other wild inaccuracies that have been pointed out to you.

      Maybe you’ve been smoking something unhealthy!!!!!

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      • Actually yes! I did make a mistake about Gallileo being burnt at the stake. However I did not make a mistake on the fact that pften the church has impeded scientific thought because it took its guidance not from the bible but from paganism around it. Having said that the church did persecute Galileo because his scientific theorist did not conform to the Greek pagans, instead of conducting scientific research. The Bible does not address the issue of what revolves against what.
        .
        What is truth? Depends on what sphere you are talking about, and the context involved. Are you talking about spiritual, mental or physical truth? And when you are talking about a particular truth lets say science, what context are y0u talking from?

        Now your issue about my so called wild innacuracies.

        Because this website is called faithworks ;lets talk about spirituality.

        You state that I make wild innacuracies very often: I claim that you don’t know your Bible very well, otherwise you would know where I am coming from. For example you accuse the atheists for restricting the way they are prepared to view life, but you are doing the very thing on the issue of homosexuality. Despite the fact that God has revealed the truth about homosexuality, and despite fact that you claim to be communist turned,,, what was it you said you turned into? Christian? Despite claiming to be Christian, we see that you play the same game that the serpent played in Eden with Eve. You constantly cast doubt on what God has made plain, accept theories coming from paganism (without bothering to check them against the testimony of Scripture) then wonder what is truth! Pray tell us do you believe that the revealed Word of God contains absolute truths or not?

        The feedback that I am getting from some of the readers that have viewed your website is that you are playing the same game that Pontius Pilate played, namely asking what is truth, but then not bothering to find out, let alone considering that some truths are absolute.

        And if some truths are absolute, we cannot escape the practice of restricting the truth within the confines of a narrow box. Otherwise the statement that I made on Galileo being burnt at the stake would be correct, and so would you statement about him dying in his bed.

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      • Have a read of this.

        3 Ways Jesus Read the Bible That Evangelicals Are Told Not to Do

        For Evangelicals–and I’m among them–Jesus and the Bible are high on the priority list. Not just evangelicals but all Christians believe Jesus is the Savior, and that the Bible tells us about him.

        But watching how these two priorities come together–watching how Jesus read his Bible (the Christian Old Testament)–can create some awkward moments, because Jesus read his Bible in ways evangelicals are taught over and over again not to read it.

        1. Jesus didn’t stick to what “the Bible says,” but read it with a creative flare that had little if any connection to what the biblical writer actually meant to say.
        Evangelicals are told to respect the Bible by “sticking to the text” and not go beyond it. Jesus did the opposite.

        For example, in the book of Exodus (chapter 3), God speaks to Moses from a burning bush. This being the first encounter, God introduces himself (verse 6): “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” In other words, “The one speaking to you, Moses, is none other than the God of your ancestors, and I’ve got a very big job for you: go down to Egypt and bring my people out of slavery.”

        Enter Jesus. We find him in Luke’s Gospel (chapter 20) debating a religious party known as the Sadducees. One of their beliefs is that after you die, you’re worm food. Other Jews, including Jesus, were of the Pharisee party. They believed that God will one day raise the dead.

        So to prove his point–that the Sadducees were wrong and God does indeed raise the dead–Jesus recites the verse from Exodus above, where God introduces himself to Moses.

        There isn’t a “deeper meaning” to Exodus 3:6. God is just introducing himself to Moses. It’s not code for “I will raise the dead.”

        What Jesus is doing here wouldn’t sit well with most Christians if, say, their pastor got up and preached like this. They’d ask him or her to try and stick to the text better and if not to start looking for another line of work.

        But what Jesus does here in Luke’s Gospel, however strange it seems to us, was par for the course in early Judaism. Luke tells us some of the scribes were very impressed with Jesus’s ability to handle the Bible so well!

        For Jesus, as for his fellow Jews, the Bible was ready and willing to be handled in creative ways to yield new and unexpected meanings that go far beyond what those words mean when they were first written.

        2. Jesus felt he could “pick and choose” what parts of the Old Testament were valid and which weren’t.
        Evangelicals are taught in no uncertain terms that the Bible is a package deal. Believing what the Bible says isn’t like being on a buffet line where you “pick and choose” what you like. Yet, that’s what Jesus did.

        For example, we have the famous Sermon on the Mount in Matthew’s Gospel. Jesus on a mountain speaking to those gathered around him. Several times he quotes something from the Law of Moses and then contrasts what the Law says (“you have heard it said) with a teaching of his own (“but I say to you”).

        We shouldn’t lose sight of the larger idea here: Jesus is acting like Moses. He is on a mountain declaring to the people what God commands of them. The “Sermon on the Mount” isn’t really a sermon at all. For one thing no one was bored listening to it. Jesus’s words were a public declaration that, now that he was here, there were going to be a few changes made.

        At some points in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus simply expands what his Bible said–like murder being more than not just physical but also emotional (anger) and verbal (insults). But Jesus also claims that some parts of the Bible over and done and it’s time to head in a new direction.

        Moses may have allowed for divorce for all sorts of reasons, but Jesus said divorce was only allowed in the case of unfaithfulness.

        God told Moses that Israelites were to make solemn oaths to one another (sort of a binding contract), but Jesus said the true people of God shouldn’t make any oaths. “Let your word be ‘Yes, Yes or ‘No, no’; anything more than this comes from the evil one.”

        God told Moses that crimes were punished an “eye for an eye” (to insure the punishment fit the crime) but Jesus said to turn the other cheek rather than seek restitution. In doing so, they would be truly following the will of God.

        Jesus taught that some of what God said in the Old Testament was inadequate, and real obedience to God mean it was time to move on. If evangelical pastors or professors pulled moves like this, they’d be working second shift at Target before the week was out.

        3. Jesus read his Bible as a Jew, not an evangelical (or even a Christian).
        As much as this might not need to be said, it does. When we watch Jesus read his Bible, we are watching a Jewish man reading his Bible. His creative flare and even his “debating” with his own Bible and going in a different direction were part of what it meant to read the Bible in Jesus’s Jewish world.

        That doesn’t mean Jesus didn’t revere the Bible. He did. But he revered it in Jewish ways, not evangelical ways.

        And that may be the hardest lesson for evangelicals to learn, that Jesus did not agree with things about the Bible that evangelicals take for granted and consider non-negotiable–like “stick to the text” and, “God’s word is eternal and never changes.”

        If evangelicals (and I am among them) pay attention to Jesus, they will learn a vital lesson: Our own Bible shows us that getting the Bible right isn’t the center of the Christian faith. Getting Jesus right is.

        http://www.huffingtonpost.com/pete-enns/3-ways-jesus-read-the-bib_b_5902534.html?utm_hp_ref=mostpopular

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      • ‘And that may be the hardest lesson for evangelicals to learn, that Jesus did not agree with things about the Bible that evangelicals take for granted and consider non-negotiable–like “stick to the text” and, “God’s word is eternal and never changes.”

        Yeah right! What rot.

        God’s word is eternal and never changes. Jesus said “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away” (Matthew 24:35)

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      • “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.” (Matthew 24:35)

        “The Bible is the most despised, derided, denied, disputed, dissected, and debated book in all of history. This Bible has been under attack for centuries — for everything you can imagine.

        Yet the Bible is still the most read, most published, and most translated book in the world. And, most importantly, it’s still changing the lives of those who apply what it teaches.

        One of the reasons I believe the Bible is God’s Word is that it has survived so many attacks throughout history.

        Despite all the attacks throughout history, today the Bible is the greatest single source of culture. It’s the greatest single source for music, art, and architecture. If you take the Bible out of culture, you would destroy most of the major music, artwork, and architecture of the past 2,000 years. Even much of our English language comes from the King James Bible.

        The Bible has flourished in spite of unrelenting attacks during the past 2,000 years.

        Jesus said in Matthew 24:35, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away” (NIV). The only item on the planet that will last is the Word of God. Everything else will burn up, because truth is eternal.

        Voltaire, the famous French philosopher, was a brilliant atheist. He wrote a number of tracts deriding the Bible. He once made a very bold statement: “One hundred years from today the Bible will be a forgotten book.”

        Today, everyone has forgotten that quote — not the Bible! After Voltaire died, for nearly 100 years, his homestead was used as the book depository for the French Bible Society. They sold Bibles out of his house! It’s now a museum. People have forgotten Voltaire. Nobody forgets the Bible.

        No matter what attacks come the Bible’s way, it always survives — and it always will. You can depend on that.”

        BY RICK WARREN — MAY 21, 2014

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      • Peter Enns has my respect.

        The Bible Tells Me So
        Why Defending Scripture Has Made Us Unable to Read It
        by Peter Enns

        The controversial Bible scholar and author of The Evolution of Adam recounts his transformative spiritual journey in which he discovered a new, more honest way to love and appreciate God’s Word.

        Trained as an evangelical Bible scholar, Peter Enns loved the Scriptures and shared his devotion, teaching at Westminster Theological Seminary. But the further he studied the Bible, the more he found himself confronted by questions that could neither be answered within the rigid framework of his religious instruction or accepted among the conservative evangelical community.

        Rejecting the increasingly complicated intellectual games used by conservative Christians to “protect” the Bible, Enns was conflicted. Is this what God really requires? How could God’s plan for divine inspiration mean ignoring what is really written in the Bible? These questions eventually cost Enns his job—but they also opened a new spiritual path for him to follow.

        The Bible Tells Me So chronicles Enns’s spiritual odyssey, how he came to see beyond restrictive doctrine and learned to embrace God’s Word as it is actually written. As he explores questions progressive evangelical readers of Scripture commonly face yet fear voicing, Enns reveals that they are the very questions that God wants us to consider—the essence of our spiritual study.

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      • Hhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Giordano_Brunoowever
        It was Giordano Bruno put to death [smoking something unhealthy!!!!!]
        Was it any wonder those after were a little timid about saying words other than being a “PARROT”
        Bryan
        Why did you not inform davinci of the person who was killed by religion for thoughts today are fact .
        That would have been better than throwing a mild insult

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      • What is truth? I recently was given the following to read. Not necessarily agreeing with it, but the writer has a point, I think.

        “TRUTH: RELATIVE OR ABSOLUTE?

        Beyond the realm of simple and verifiable facts, the certainty that “I am right and you are wrong” is a dangerous thing in personal relationships as well as in interactions between nations, tribes, religions, and so on. But if the belief “I am right; you are wrong” is one of the ways in which the ego strengthens itself, if making yourself right and others wrong is a mental dysfunction that perpetuates separation and conflict between human beings, does that mean there is no such thing as right or wrong behavior, action, or belief? And wouldn’t that be the moral relativism that some contemporary Christian teachings see as the great evil of our times?

        The history of Christianity is, of course, a prime example of how the belief that you are in sole possession of the truth, that is to say, right , can corrupt your actions and behavior to the point of insanity. For centuries, torturing and burning people alive if their opinion diverged even in the slightest from Church doctrine or narrow interpretations of scripture (the “Truth”) was considered right because the victims were “wrong.” They were so wrong that they needed to be killed. The Truth was considered more important than human life. And what was the Truth? A story you had to believe in; which means, a bundle of thoughts. The one million people that mad dictator Pol Pot of Cambodia ordered killed included everybody who wore glasses. Why? To him, the Marxist interpretation of history was the absolute truth, and according to his version of it, those who wore glasses belonged to the educated glass, the bourgeoisie, the exploiters of the peasants. They needed to be eliminated to make room for a new social order. His truth also was a bundle of thoughts.

        The Catholic and other churches are actually correct when they identify relativism, the belief that there is no absolute truth to guide human behavior, as one of the evils of our times; but you won’t find absolute truth if you look for it where it cannot be found: in doctrines, ideologies, sets of rules, or stories. What do all of these have in common? They are made up of thought. Thought can at best point to the truth, but it never is the truth. That’s why Buddhists say “The finger pointing to the moon is not the moon.” All religions are equally false and equally true, depending on how you use them. You can use them in the service of the ego, or you can use them in the service of the Truth. If you believe only your religion is the Truth, you are using it in the service of the ego. used in such a way, religion becomes ideology and creates an illusory sense of superiority as well as division and conflict between people. In the service of the Truth, religious teachings represent signposts or maps left behind by awakened humans to assist you in spiritual awakening, that is to say, in becoming free of identification with form.

        There is only one absolute Truth, and all other truths emanate from it. When you find that Truth, your actions will be in alignment with it. Human action can reflect the Truth, or it can reflect illusion. Can the Truth be put into words? Yes, but the words are, of course, not it. They only point to it. The Truth is inseparable from who you are. Yes, you are the truth. If you look for it elsewhere, you will be deceived every time. The very Being that you are is Truth. Jesus tried to convey that when he said, “I am the way and the truth and the life.”2 These words uttered by Jesus are one of the most powerful and direct pointers to the Truth, if understood correctly. If misinterpreted, however, they become a great obstacle.

        Jesus speaks of the innermost I Am, the essence identity of every man and woman, every life form, in fact. He speaks of the life that you are. Some Christian mystics have called it the Christ within; Buddhists call it your Buddha nature; for Hindus, it is Atman, the indwelling God. When you are in touch with that dimension within yourself – and being in touch with it is your natural state, not some miraculous achievement – all your actions and relationships will reflect the oneness with all life that you sense deep within. This is love. Laws, commandments, rules, and regulations are necessary for those who are cut off from who they are, the Truth within. They prevent the worst excesses of the ego, and often they don’t even do that. “Love and do what you will,” said St. Augustine. Words cannot get much closer to the Truth than that.”

        end quote.

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      • The Truth is inseparable from who you are. Yes, you are the truth. If you look for it elsewhere, you will be deceived every time. The very Being that you are is Truth.

        Sorry Strewth,

        But all I hear when I read the above is the false New Age lie of “I Am God”.

        No, I certainly do not agree:

        “Eckharte Tolle has been written up in Christianity Today as “one who denies the deity of Jesus and grossly distorts Jesus’ teachings about Himself”.

        Like many other New Age teachers, Tolle rejects the Jesus of the Bible. This seems to be a common mindset of those in the “cosmic christ camp”.

        New Age Lies Exposed by Sandra Clifton

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      • Fair enough, Mon. I just don’t happen to see the Christ within as some miracle working creator, omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent. I see Christ’s presence in our hearts as the spirit of love.

        “Were Christ born a thousand times in Bethlehem, and not in thee, thou art lost eternally.”

        But I can see the proposition from your point of view.

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      • I should have said the above quote is from Johannes Angelus Silesius, converted from Lutheran to Catholic. Silesius took holy orders as a Franciscan. Three months later, he was ordained a priest, and later was appointed a counselor and Chamberlain to the Prince-Bishop of Breslau. He’s hardly “New Age.” 🙂

        Several of the poems of Silesius have been used or adapted as hymns used in Protestant and Catholic services.

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    • Hi Strewth,

      The quote is attributed to Eckhart Tolle. Look it up on the net for yourself and I apologise if I am wrong. And as far as Catholicism is concerned, well it is rife with ‘New Age’ teachings, and I should know as I listened to many of these teachings under the banner of Catholicism.

      “Eckhart Tolle—one of the greatest spiritual teachers of our age, or perhaps the anti-Christ in a beige sweater vest—has left the door ajar. He greets you in the foyer of his Vancouver condominium with a quick smile and a soft handshake, and leads you inside. He is trim and compact, and—thanks, he says, to near total absence of stress—he looks younger than his 61 years. With his sandy fringe of beard, and aura of inviting calm, he seems, let’s be frank, as threatening as a garden gnome.

      But his spiritual teachings are another matter: they are seismic. He has a global audience numbering in the tens of millions. They read his books, absorb his musings via DVDs and the Internet. They flock by the thousands to his lectures. He sits at the right hand of Oprah. He is a heretic. He is God, if only in his sense that the divine rests in all things. “I don’t believe in an outside agent that creates the world, then walks away,” he will later explain. “But I feel very strongly there is an intelligence at work in every flower, in every blade of grass, in every cell of my body. And it is that intelligence that,” he says, “I wouldn’t say created the universe. It is creating the universe. It’s an ongoing process.” As for the world’s established religions, he feels they have all lost their way—the purity of their message long since twisted into rigid ideology and buried under edifice, ritual and ego. All he has really done, he says, is rediscover their essence. “I have great respect for the truth that is, one could almost say, hiding, concealed, in the great religions.”

      A refreshing liberation from doctrine, or dangerous stuff? “He gives a certain segment of the population exactly what they want: a sort of supreme religion that purports to draw from all sorts of lesser, that is, established, religions,” says John Stackhouse, a professor of theology and culture at Vancouver’s evangelical Regent College. “In fact [he] so chops, strains and rearranges the bits that it borrows that it ends up as a nicely vague spirituality that one can tailor to one’s own preferences.” James Beverley, a professor of Christian thought and ethics at the evangelical Tyndale Seminary in Toronto, has read Tolle’s books “in gory detail,” and finds Tolle denies “the core” of Christianity by claiming there is no ultimate distinction between humans and God and Jesus. “From a Christian perspective, Tolle misquotes the Bible to assert his strange mix of Hinduism, Buddhism and New Age pop,” he says. “He misrepresents the teaching of Jesus about the self and ignores the clear claims of Jesus as Saviour, Lord and Son of God.”

      http://www.macleans.ca/culture/eckhart-tolle-vs-god/

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      • Hi Strewth,
        looking Angelus Silesius up in my Britannica, I read that as a Catholic he became fanatically anti-Protestant, and he contributed some 55 pieces to a Catholic/Lutheran controversy that were notable (along with all the other contributors for ‘asperity and insults on both sides’. I guess that he just wasnt no saint, nohow!

        Bit sad really, since his mystical quotes are really quite beautiful, and I’ve read bits from his writings for years.
        Rian.

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      • We’re probably looking at different quotes. My apologies for lack of clarity, Mon. What I was referring to was “Were Christ born a thousand times in Bethlehem, and not in thee, thou art lost eternally.”

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      • “Were Christ born a thousand times in Bethlehem, and not in thee, thou art lost eternally.”

        Yes Strewth,

        We finally agree, you, me and Father Johannes 🙂

        I wonder if the priests were always addressed as “Father” in Johannes’ day and earlier? And are they still these days?

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      • My thoughts on New Age followers is that they can be just as bigoted as the most fundamentalist Christian. Truth to most of them is just as absolute.

        Sixty five of the hymns of Silesius have been translated into English with such titles as-
        As pardoned sinners we rejoice
        Begone, vain world, with all thy pleasures
        Christ the good Shepherd, God’s own Son
        “Come follow Me,” the Savior spake
        Gracious Redeemer, thou hast me
        Grant, most gracious Lamb of God
        I’ll glory in nothing but only in Jesus
        Jesus’ mercies never fail
        Jesus, Savior, come to me
        Love, who in the first beginning
        Loving Shepherd, kind and true
        Most High and Holy Trinity!
        My yoke, saith Christ, upon you take
        The true good Shepherd God’s own son
        Thee will I love, my Strength, my Tower (Wesley)

        I don’t regard the views of Johannes Angelus Silesius as anything approaching New Age, and Tolle’s writings are very similar. Mysticism is not something new, and many of Silesius’ day did not approve.

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      • Hi Strewth,

        What does this mean in plain English—I know, I sound like Pauline Hanson, but I am after all, a simple soul 🙂 :

        “I just don’t happen to see the Christ within as some miracle working creator, omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent. I see Christ’s presence in our hearts as the spirit of love.”

        Does that mean you do not see Jesus as God?

        Thanks

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      • Mon, I believe he was sent by God and served God, but not that he was Father, Son and Holy Ghost. I cannot swallow scripture whole and say he was God, but neither can I say he was not. I have not been so blessed that I know everything, or indeed very much.

        I believe he tried to fashion his life as the expected Messiah, and that may have been ordained, I wouldn’t know.

        The closest I could say from the Christian viewpoint is that he was (is) an aspect of God.

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      • Oh Mon, second thoughts! If God is Love, and I see the Christ within as the spirit of love, does that suffice as an answer?

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      • “Oh Mon, second thoughts! If God is Love, and I see the Christ within as the spirit of love, does that suffice as an answer?”

        Well, yes. Christ certainly is Love. And without love we are nothing.

        We all only know in part and for now we see in a mirror dimly.

        God knows each and every one of us Strewth, and that gives me such comfort.

        God bless and thank you for your honesty.

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      • Bryan,
        apologies. dont know what my computer is doing to me, but in my last posting, I omitted the paragraph after saying ‘Bryan’s words’ should follow as –

        >>>>>Whether Bubba or Dabbles or Stu are actually oblivious to their faith is irrelevant. The truth is that it takes a leap of faith to be an atheist. It is a position that they have no empirical evidence for. It cannot be proven. Therefore it is a faith position. All of us have to serve somebody, as Dylan said. Surely that’s obvious Rian>>>

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  4. ” For instance, I assume that if I drop a pen it will fall to the floor. But if I’m thinking carefully, I’m aware that this assumption is not grounded in evidence.”

    Well apart from expert opinion, or documentary evidence, or circumstantial evidence, or demonstrative evidence.

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  5. I see myself as an atheist rather than an agnostic. So I’m not an agnostic. I don’t see how faith in something follows from that.

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      • Okay Bryan,

        I trust that it has been obvious in the past that in my postings I do my best to play the ball and not the man. But in this case, I feel strongly obliged to do the opposite. As I see it, you fell into a big classic Christian trap, when for the umpteenth time you reproached Bubba (albeit quite gently) for not acknowledging that he lives with faith. So this time, I’m deliberately having a go at you.

        If you look back to my immediate ‘lecture’ on faith you will notice in the 3rd episode,(fourth paragraph) I tackled the issue of how Christians can drift into a double standard when sitting in consideration of other people’s faith. To repeat, or maybe to rephrase and elaborate, – when a Christian sets out to ‘live by faith’, he virtually steps out of his weak human comfort zone, and makes this big leap towards God and true Christian living. He will not succeed in full of course; indeed, as a human being he is incapable of manifesting true and perfect faith.

        IF he fails to make this valiant necessary step forward and out of his comfort zone TO THE BEST OF HIS CURRENT ABILITY, then he is classed, rightly or wrongly, as being deficient in faith. He may need to be reproached by his Christian confreres for his lack of faith. He may be seen and classified as a person who falls into the ever-present trap of simply ‘believing’, (although unlike the ‘devils’, he doesn’t allow himself to do the appropriate ‘trembling’). He carries his Christianity round with him on the surface, but with its real mechanism and spirit under wraps and unrealized. He feels no necessity or urge to ‘witness’, and virtually only has this generalized faith/belief in the back of his mind, and rarely invokes it. And so presumably, he has little to fall back on, other than maybe on an unaccustomed and agonized prayer for help, when things go badly pear-shaped for him.

        Now, you Christians will clearly be classifying him as being a person of very little REAL FAITH, if any.

        BUT, when you look at the regular atheist (such as Bubba or Dabbles or Stu) you jump on him very quickly and gleefully tell him that just like any religious person, he is living by or with faith, – a condition to which he is actually oblivious. Like that NON-CHRISTIAN just described, he MAY just have some vague sort of faith tucked away in the back of his mind. But do you go on and assert that he is no sort of real atheist carrying nothing more than this vague or hypothetical faith? Oh no, you accuse him of living out his benighted atheistic lifestyle WITH FAITH.

        Keep in mind that our aforementioned weak Christian has been hearing or reading about the crucial need for faith in church or from the Bible, so he in no way can be unaware of that theoretical need for faith. But there is no such enforcement of a need for ‘faith’ in the life and study of an atheist. When he ‘becomes’ an atheist in the first place, he is not quizzed on his atheistic beliefs; nor does he have to sit any sort of examination or publically announce and promise his new status.

        Now, if you are going to admit what I have just described, but insist that even that weak modicum of ‘faith’ in the deep recesses of his mind must be acknowledged as proof that in ‘becoming’ an atheist, he like the Christian, has a faith, – then you just have to admit that that loud trumpeted claim made by yourself in a couple of previous blog columns about how ‘I don’t have enough faith to be an atheist’, is and has to be a lot of garbage. To be honest, you really need to renounce that concept.

        Bryan, you cant have it both ways. In gleefully informing the atheist that he lives in or with faith, you are shifting the goalposts in the debate. Such a tactic is either very wooly thinking along with poor logic AND thick blinkers on, or else it is simply dishonest. And that latter, I would of course hesitate to accuse you of. Just think about it. In any case it is unbefitting one-upmanship.

        With Respect (believe it or not)
        Rian.

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      • Whether Bubba or Dabbles or Stu are actually oblivious to their faith is irrelevant. The truth is that it takes a leap of faith to be an atheist. It is a position that they have no empirical evidence for. It cannot be proven. Therefore it is a faith position. All of us have to serve somebody, as Dylan said. Surely that’s obvious Rian

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      • “Whether Bubba or Dabbles or Stu are actually oblivious to their faith is irrelevant.” I disagree. Faith is a claim – please point to a faith claim I’ve made on this blog. Your belief that the absence of a faith claim is actually faith is demonstrably false.

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      • “if you can’t prove your belief it is obviously something you have faith in.” What belief? What faith claim?

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      • “If you claim to be an atheist you’ve made a faith decision.” Not true. There’s an intellectual position called agnostic atheism which exists independently of your absence of belief in it. Happy to point you to the literature.

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      • Hi Bryan,

        “It is a position that they have no empirical evidence for. It cannot be proven. ”

        OK here’s my position. I do not believe in God. What evidence would you need to prove that ? How would you consider it proven?

        If I can though, perhaps to advance this discussion a little, can we try things from another angle.

        As I see it to be Christian you need to have a positive belief or faith in Christ. You just can’t be a Christian without it. A Christian must have a belief in Christ to be a Christian.

        On the flip side what does an atheist need, what positive belief is absolutely necessary for an atheist to be an atheist ?

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      • OK here’s my position. I do not believe in God. What evidence would you need to prove that ? How would you consider it proven?

        Exactly. You can’t prove it. Therefore it’s a position of faith.

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      • “How can you not be sure but be sure you don’t believe in God?” That’s not what agnostic athiesm is. Maybe that’s why yo see it as a joke.

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      • Even I can see that ‘unbelief’ is a decision. It’s as plain as the nose on my face.

        But why is it that we can see this and they can’t? I’d say because of this:

        2 Cor. 4:4 For the god of this world has blinded the unbelievers’ minds [that they should not discern the truth], preventing them from seeing the illuminating light of the Gospel of the glory of Christ (the Messiah), Who is the Image and Likeness of God.

        “Unbelief is the decision to live your life as if there is no God. It is a deliberate decision to reject Jesus Christ and all that he stands for.”

        Yeah, I know, time to butt out. 🙂

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      • HI Bryan,

        “Exactly. You can’t prove it. Therefore it’s a position of faith.”

        Only from your end. I don’t really need to prove anything to myself do I ? I’m quite happy just to take my word for it when I say I don’t believe in God.

        So I guess that it might take some faith on your part to believe my when I say I don’t believe in God. But it doesn’t take any faith on my part for me to believe myself.

        Have you given any thought to the second part of my last comment?

        What positive belief is there that I can’t be an atheist without ??

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      • Hey Bryan,

        “Exactly. You can’t prove it. Therefore it’s a position of faith.”

        Well maybe from where you’re standing. If I say “I don’t believe in God” and you can’t think of any way for me to prove that then I’d agree you would have to take me on faith.

        But from my perspective I don’t need any faith when I say “I don’t believe in God” I’m quite happy to believe myself. I don’t need any faith whatsoever to do that.

        Have you been able to give any thought to the second part of my earlier comment, what positive belief is absolutely necessary for an atheist to be an atheist ?

        Hey Monica,

        ” Even I can see that ‘unbelief’ is a decision. It’s as plain as the nose on my face.”

        So is having steak for dinner or sitting on a chair. So if I said to you that right now, as I’m typing this, I’m sitting on a chair I think would could both agree that I made a decision to sit on the chair. I don’t think either of us would call it an act of faith.

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      • “Agnostic athiesm is clearly a joke, no matter how you would define it Stu.” Only if you don’t understand what it is. For the rest of us, we can understand how it usefully distinguishes one position from another.

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      • “Can you? Sounds like self-deception.”
        That’s probably because you have a vested interest in that being the case.

        “I think most people would understand that agnosticism and atheism are mutually exclusive.” Argumentum ad populum.

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      • And here comes the anticipated red herring.

        A vested interest in what you believe Stu? No. I honestly don’t care. Why would you think I do? What do you think I would gain from it?

        What I do care about is accuracy.

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      • Hi Mon,
        Now I found your quote from Corinthians very interesting. Has it occurred to you that the ‘god of this world’ who in the Christian pantheon presumably has to be ‘the Satan’, actually must be going about his business very inefficiently. Do you recall the passage about casting out demons, where Jesus is reported as saying that if you just cast out a demon from a person, you may be just leaving a gap that can be taken over by further demons?

        Well, in persuading persons to reject Jesus Christ, (in the Western world at any rate), the Satan must be also permitting those atheists to reject Jupiter and Brahma, and Allah, and Buddha and Krishna – as well as many thousands of other (false?) deities including himself. Heck, he loses a great opportunity and duly fails dismally when he makes atheists out of people, when he could be persuading them to take on any number of actively evil or demonic gods. And as we have frequently discussed here, atheists can frequently be kind compassionate and decent loving folk, and clearly not leading diabolical lives.

        Now since the majority of atheists of the modern world undoubtedly grew up without any genuine and profound Christian conviction, – and without any Christian belief, they were, ipso facto, living as atheists from the start. So they never strictly speaking, consciously rejected Jesus Christ at some crossroads time in their lives, at all. They could see demonstrably from the world and people about them, that life simply goes on its merry way for the people of society regardless of whether they have a Christian belief or not. These folk are rarely faced with a specific situation of choice. They could be confronted with teachings about all the other gods, and just go on rejecting them all equally.

        In your final paragraph in inverted commas, it seems to me that between the first and second sentences, you are altering the terms of reference. The first should read ‘Unbelief is the decision to live your life as if there is no CHRISTIAN God.’ Otherwise your switch to the Christian clause in the second sentence doesn’t follow. There have been multitudes of people over the last 2000 years who took on, or who carried their lives as if there was actually, a god of some other denomination.

        Unbelief as a decision? Mon, I hate to break it to you, but the concept of Jesus Christ as being the one and ONLY big big choice in life is simply not obvious at all

        In my other comments here answering Bryan’s posts, you will find arguments that take the matter further.
        Love, Rian.

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      • To Bryan,
        If you or anyone wants to rebut me, then please do look carefully at my arguments below, and specifically answer them.

        Your words, Bryan. <<<<>>

        Not a good argument, Bryan. Why on earth is there any need or obligation to serve ‘somebody’? Why is one obliged to hunt for this empirical evidence? Show me some empirical evidence proving that ONLY Christianity ever ‘works”; and make sure that it is evidence that will satisfy any skeptic. Look, the ordinary average person in our community doesn’t need to make any ‘huge leap of faith to become an atheist’.

        There are undoubtedly many folks around, who are not actually Twice-Born, Saved or Converted, but who cling to their traditional beliefs as a little more than a cultural given. Dont you take seriously the Gospel commentary that the only heavenly path is narrow and straight, and with FEW who actually get to take it? You apparently glossed over my mention of those multitudes of Christian ‘believers’ whose faith has never really been truly tested, (or activated by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit as you would say). These vague and aimless believers will be decried within the Christian community as having little or no real faith.

        And as I went on to say, those atheists who cant detect any real ‘faith’ in themselves, and who just go on taking their atheism for granted, you want to redefine them as possessing a huge faith that you and other Christian writers maintain you could not produce. Actually, Bryan, most people in this community tend to live AS ATHEISTS anyway. Isn’t that right? The only folk who would find it a huge and difficult leap of faith to ‘become’ atheists, will of course be essentially those who are deeply devout and entrenched in their present Christian faith. ‘Being’ an atheist is actually very easy, but leaving a deep existing Christian commitment for atheism, might be a near impossibility.

        In your postings here, addressed to our friendly neighbourhood atheists, you frequently get unnecessarily confused, as you carelessly confound two propositions. One is the speculative and certainly un-provable thesis that THERE IS NO GOD (of any sort presumably); and the other is the legitimate and thoroughly honest personal statement that I/he/whoever does not carry ANY BELIEF OR FAITH in a god. As I stated above, just WHY, for an individual who has not recognized any evidence for a theistic spirit, should he HAVE to find or produce any empirical evidence proving that there is no god? Do you insist that every Christian should spend his lifetime investigating every single god that humanity has worshipped, on the basis that one just never knows what extra truths/deities/faiths may lie just round the corner, and it is his bounden duty to empirically disprove the existence of every single other god?

        In declaring oneself, or considering being an atheist, a person is merely being honest about the way he has come to see things. One DOESNT decide to ‘become’ an atheist. Atheism is simply the standpoint that one’s thinking and observation has brought him to. It represents the point when belief or faith in a deity HAS BECOME UNREAL to him. Would you want such an atheist to be dishonest about the conclusions that he has come to? If an Islamic found that his God had become unreal to him, would you insist that he should keep on searching for the proof that his previously believed in deity still does exist? At some stage in our lives we may surely and legitimately decide that we have searched enough. What if I told you seriously that despite your years of Christian conviction, if you study this or that book or religion, you could not help but be converted to my new one?

        So after recognizing his atheism, our subject may or may not decide to look further or to pursue the issue; and after all, I constantly hear atheists state that with the right sort of evidence, they could believe in a god. However, that extra and more crucial evidence that it is the Trinitarian Christian God along with its complex salvationist apologetic, will usually prove to be much more difficult to swallow. This is evidenced by the clear fact that scientists today, who have come to accept a theism or deism of some sort, are nowhere so likely to accept the Christian orthodoxy package.

        I do ask that you study my argument carefully before impulsive answering.
        Cheers Rian.

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      • My answer to you Rian:

        “I find that contemporary atheists take great umbrage at the biblical claim that God holds people to be morally culpable for their unbelief. They want to maintain their unbelief in God without accepting the responsibility for it. This attitude enables them to reject God with impunity.

        Now we can agree that a person cannot be held morally responsible for failing to discharge a duty of which he is uninformed. So the entire question is: are people sufficiently informed to be held morally responsible for failing to believe in God? The biblical answer to that question is unequivocal. First, God has provided a revelation of Himself in nature that is sufficiently clear for all cognitively normal persons to know that God exists. Paul writes to the Roman church:

        The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened (Rom. 1. 18-21).

        In Paul’s view God’s properties, His eternal power and deity, are clearly revealed in creation, so that people who fail to believe in an eternal, powerful Creator of the world are without excuse. Indeed, Paul says that they actually do know that God exists, but they suppress this truth because of their unrighteousness. As result they become so clouded in their thinking that they may actually deceive themselves into thinking that they are open-minded inquirers honestly pursuing the truth. The human capacity for rationalization and self-deception, I’m sure we’ve all observed, is very great, indeed, and in the biblical view atheists are prey to it.

        Second, wholly apart from God’s revelation in nature is the inner witness which the Holy Spirit bears to the great truths of the Gospel, including, I should say, the fact that God exists. Anyone who fails to believe in God by the end of his lifetime does so only by a stubborn resistance to the work of the Holy Spirit in drawing that person to a knowledge of God. On the biblical view people are not like innocent, lost lambs wandering helplessly without a guide. Rather they are determined rebels whose wills are set against God and who must be subdued by God’s Spirit.

        The difference, then, between God and Santa Claus, is that (i) there is good evidence in support of God’s existence which is evident to all, and (ii) there is an objective witness of God’s Spirit which warrants belief in Christian truths. Of course, the unbeliever will deny that there is such evidence and such a witness of the Spirit. Fine; we Christians disagree with them about that. We think they’re mistaken. That’s why we engage them in dialogue, to show them that the evidence is sufficient and that their objections are weak.

        On the biblical view, unbelief is a choice. It is a choice to resist the force of the evidence and the drawing of God’s Holy Spirit. The unbeliever is like someone dying of a fatal disease who refuses to believe the medical evidence concerning the efficacy of a proffered cure and who rejects the testimony of his doctor to it and who, as a result, suffers the consequence of his own stubbornness. He has no one to blame but himself.

        Atheists and agnostics are persons created in the image of God, endowed with freedom of the will, and pursued by a loving Heavenly Father who yearns to reconcile them with Himself. Their unbelief is culpable because it is maintained in the face of the evidence and in defiance of the Holy Spirit.”

        http://www.reasonablefaith.org/is-unbelief-culpable#ixzz3FOvos0xL

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    • “Why would you think I do? What do you think I would gain from it?”

      Because belief is important to you. Because very specific beliefs are important to you. Because you want to shift the goalposts to make me a “believer” so you can attack that position. But I prefaced all this with a “probably”. I’m not privy to your motives. You tell me.

      “What I do care about is accuracy.” Ok. What inaccuracy would you like to correct?

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      • Eh? My faith is not affected in any way by what you believe or think Stu. No offence but that’s the truth.

        I’m not trying to make you a believer. You already are a believer in a faith=based doctrine. I have nothing to do with it.

        What inaccuracy do I correct? The silly notion that atheism is not faith-based.

        You gotta serve somebody Stu. You made the decision so stand up for it man.

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      • “Eh? My faith is not affected in any way by what you believe or think Stu.”

        Never suggested that it did. I just responded to a question you asked about your motives for misrepresenting my position.

        “I’m not trying to make you a believer.”

        Never suggested otherwise.

        “You already are a believer in a faith=based doctrine.”

        Unless you can point to a faith claim I’ve made, this is a baseless assertion.

        “What inaccuracy do I correct? The silly notion that atheism is not faith-based.”

        What faith claim?

        “You gotta serve somebody Stu.”

        Only if there’s a master to serve.

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      • You never suggested I wanted to make you a believer? Really?

        Not true Stu. You said:
        Because you want to shift the goalposts to make me a “believer”
        Stu you don’t have to MAKE a faith claim to have faith. You can ignore it, you can hide it, you can redefine it but nevertheless your faith in atheism exists.

        And what master do you serve? Interesting question Stu.

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      • “Not true Stu. You said: Because you want to shift the goalposts to make me a “believer”. Notice the inverted commas around the word believer? I wasnt suggesting you wanted to make me believe something, just that you wanted to define me a one.

        “Stu you don’t have to MAKE a faith claim to have faith. You can ignore it, you can hide it, you can redefine it but nevertheless your faith in atheism exists.”

        Until you provide evidence for a faith claim, evidence of having ignored or hidden my faith or “redefined” it, then these are all baseless assertions.

        “And what master do you serve?”

        No invisible ones.

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      • An atheist, believes that there is no God. Etymologically, the word means “not, or no God.” In the atheist camp you can have a wide variety of reasons for their denial as well as differing levels of certainty. Some will deny emphatically that there is a God and claim to have “proof” of God’s non-existence. Other’s will simply say they do not believe there is a God though they could not prove God does not exist. The common denominator is that they do not believe in God.

        Agnosticism is not a belief system as atheism is; rather, it is a theory of knowledge. Etymologically, it means, “not, or no knowledge.” An agnostic is someone who believes human beings simply cannot know anything metaphysical or beyond the physical realm; therefore, they cannot know whether things like spirit, angels or God exist at all.
        http://www.catholic.com/quickquestions/is-there-a-difference-between-atheists-and-agnostics

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      • Yep, there is a key distinction between atheism and agnosticism. An atheist assumes knowledge that God doesn’t exist; an agnostic does not.
        Atheism is just as much a learned behaviour – and a conscious choice – as Christianity is.

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      • “Yep, there is a key distinction between atheism and agnosticism.”

        Just because there’s a distinction doesn’t mean they’re incompatible.

        See Michael Martin (1990). Atheism: A Philosophical Justification just for a start:

        “In the popular sense an agnostic neither believes nor disbelieves that God exists, while an atheist disbelieves that God exists. However, this common contrast of agnosticism with atheism will hold only if one assumes that atheism means positive atheism. In the popular sense, agnosticism is compatible with negative atheism. Since negative atheism by definition simply means not holding any concept of God, it is compatible with neither believing nor disbelieving in God.”

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      • Athiesm – a broader concept than Bryan would have you believe. Holding a position that you don’t believe in something, but you don’t or can’t know for certain, is never “fence sitting”. Much more honest to be unsure than make baseless assertions.

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      • FROM THE ATHEIST REVOLUTION WEBSITE

        The question of whether atheism is a choice is an important one, with many implications for how to spread the atheist meme, how to interact with believers, and the like. After all, if atheism is not really a choice, then must we not make the same concession for religious belief?

        I’m getting ahead of myself. First, we need to disentangle what we mean by the question of whether atheism is a choice.
        1.Is the mental act of becoming an atheist in the first place (i.e., initially discarding theism as valid) voluntary?
        2.Once one has rejected god belief (i.e., is an atheist), is it meaningful to describe the continued rejection of theism as voluntary?
        3.As an atheist, could you voluntarily choose to embrace theism?

        Based on the responses I received to the Twitter poll, I think it is safe to say that the overwhelming majority of atheists would likely answer “no” to question 3. Knowing what I know at this point in time, it is difficult to imagine that I could voluntarily turn my back on atheism and return to a theistic worldview. Set question 3 aside for now. We will come back to it later.

        It also seems that question 2 can be fairly easily dealt with. It certainly does not feel to me that I expend any sort of mental energy to maintain my atheism. It is a position I have reached based on the available data, and it would only be in the case of new data that I might have to reevaluate it and make some sort of decision. We can set question 2 aside and revisit it briefly when we come back to question 3.

        I find question 1 the most interesting and potentially problematic of the three. I have little doubt that the act of identifying oneself as an atheist, adopting the atheist label, and embracing atheism as part of one’s identity are all voluntary. Just consider the number of atheists who do none of these things, and you’ll see what I mean. But what about the initial discarding of theism? It sure didn’t feel voluntary, but was it? I remember struggling to retain theism because I had been taught that it was the only option. But in the end, I simply could not do it anymore. I didn’t choose atheism; I had no idea what it was.

        Now, where we have to revisit question 3 (and 2 to a lesser degree) is that some atheists do in fact report returning to theism. What are we to do with such observations, and how do they impact our understanding of questions 2 and 3? Perhaps the process through which they arrived at atheism was simply reversed and not necessarily voluntary. Or perhaps they adopted the behaviors associated with theism but not the underlying beliefs to fit in. These unknowns make it difficult to know what to do with questions 2 and 3.

        Since this is getting long, I’ll address the implications of our questions and what they might tell us about both atheism and theism in a follow-up post.

        Read more: http://www.atheistrev.com/2010/06/is-atheism-choice.html#ixzz3FQq1cJZY

        Like

      • “Eh? My faith is not affected in any way by what you believe or think Stu. No offence but that’s the truth.”

        Hmm

        But it would seem that Stu’s faith (or lack of it) should be dictated by what Bryan believes.

        One rule for Bryan and another for Stu ? Certainly seems that way.

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      • Hey Carla,

        So atheism is about belief and agnosticism is about knowledge.

        There’s no reason whatsoever those two fields need to operate independently or co-dependently with each other.

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      • How does anything from the Atheist Revolution site add to your contention that agnosticism and atheism are incompatible?

        Like

      • ANOTHER VIEW

        “Atheism is not a belief,” atheists often say, “it’s just a lack of belief in a God.”

        Today it came up in this form:

        And, in addition, I would point out that atheism is not my ideology. It simply refers to my not subscribing to a particular belief (theism). It makes no more sense to treat my being an atheist as my ideology than it does to treat your being a non-Muslim as yours.

        What I AM is a humanist.

        This is disingenuous at best. To say that atheism is just “not subscribing to a particular belief” is to deny everything that atheism entails (requires as part of its package).

        Atheism entails that the universe is impersonal and amoral.

        Atheism entails that there is no ultimate good (though some atheists will allow for contingent, local, or particular goods).

        Likewise and with the same kind of condition attached, atheism entails that there is no ultimate meaning, no ultimate morality, no ultimate beauty, no ultimate purpose for anything.

        Atheism entails that the end of physical life is the end of existence.

        Atheism entails that all human experience is neuronal/electrical/chemical; and though some atheists have proposed ways to rise above that (some kind of epiphenomenalism, for example), they have never been able to explain it.

        Atheism entails the same specifically for human consciousness and rationality.

        Atheism entails that if any sense of meaning or purpose is to be found in human life, it is found in the contingent and accidental experience of humans—for even the existence of humans is contingent and accidental.

        Atheism entails that what I do today will not matter for very long, a few generations at most.

        Atheism entails that every religion is wrong.

        Atheism entails that the universe will one day be empty.

        Atheism entails that humans and animals and plants and bacteria and rats and pigs and dogs and boys (google the last four) are ontologically the same thing.

        Atheism entails that if one chooses humanism as one’s form of atheism, that choice is made for entirely contingent reasons, probably related to one’s nation and culture of birth and upbringing, and that there is no better reason than that to choose humanism as one’s ideology, since atheism provides no reason to choose humans as having any particular value.

        So to David Ellis who wrote the quote above, I say go ahead and claim your humanism, but please don’t try to tell me your atheism doesn’t carry any ideological freight with it.
        http://www.thinkingchristian.net/posts/2009/06/atheism-is-not-a-belief/

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      • “Were you born an atheist Stu?”
        I was born with the same beliefs or lack of beliefs as everyone else.

        “Or did you decide to be one? Or at least call yourself one.”
        I realised that I had no religious views, that the faith claims of major religions were unpersuasive at best and unnecessary in any practical sense. Atheism is the best category to describe my position.

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      • Please don’t try to tell me your atheism doesn’t carry any ideological freight with it.
        Many would try to though

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      • “Ok Finally.Thank you…..So you made a choice. A decision. That’s what I’ve been saying. You have a faith belief.”

        What faith belief do you think I have?

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      • Your faith in atheism. The unprovable. The choice you made Stu.

        I’d be interested in your response to the Atheist Revolution questions.

        1.Is the mental act of becoming an atheist in the first place (i.e., initially discarding theism as valid) voluntary?
        2.Once one has rejected god belief (i.e., is an atheist), is it meaningful to describe the continued rejection of theism as voluntary?
        3.As an atheist, could you voluntarily choose to embrace theism?

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      • “Your faith in atheism.”

        I don’t have “faith” in atheism. In my case at least, atheism is the absence of a faith claim.

        “1.Is the mental act of becoming an atheist in the first place (i.e., initially discarding theism as valid) voluntary?”

        It can be, but it’s not necessary.

        “2.Once one has rejected god belief (i.e., is an atheist), is it meaningful to describe the continued rejection of theism as voluntary?”

        Meaningful in what sense?

        “3.As an atheist, could you voluntarily choose to embrace theism?”

        Sure. But you wouldnt be an atheist anymore.

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      • “As you can’t prove God doesn’t exist your position is one based on faith.”

        I’ve never made any claim that I can prove that god doesn’t exist or that I know gods don’t exist. What faith claim do you think Ai hold on faith?

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      • As I said, you have faith that atheism is true, something you can’t prove so you hold on faith.

        Interestingly, your evasive answer to the last question on the atheist website has a coda.

        On the Faith and Reason website, one of the authors tells of his friend Dana confronting atheist Sam Harris with a similar question..and his answer is also revealing.

        My friend Dana has known Sam for decades. Over the years, Sam has peppered her with questions about her faith. Despite feeling intimidated—Sam is a highly respected leader in their community—she has answered as best she could and maintained their friendship. One evening over dinner in her home, Sam turned his questions on her teenagers, essentially asking them, “Do you really believe all that stuff and why?” Dana allowed them to speak for themselves for a while before intervening.

        “Sam,” she started agreeably, “you and I have discussed this many times. I’ve told you what I believe and why, and you’ve told me all of your reasons for not believing.” Then she posed a question that she had never put to him before. “What if there really is a God, but you just don’t know about him? Are you willing to consider that possibility? Are you willing to ask him if he’s out there? Something like, God, I’m not even sure if you’re there, but if you are, would you show yourself to me?‘”

        Dana let her question hang in the air. The teenagers likewise waited for Sam to break the silence. “No,” he finally said. “I’m not willing to do that.” And he hasn’t brought the subject up since.

        Dana gently—but powerfully—pierced the facade of scientific skepticism with one question: Are you willing? It is not a question of scientific reasoning, but a question of choosing, of making a personal faith choice that, once made, establishes the starting point for one’s reasoning. Atheism isn’t founded on science or reason any more than theism is based on faith devoid of reason. The atheist, too, has made a faith choice. He has just chosen differently.

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      • “As I said, you have faith that atheism is true”.

        I’ve never said that. As I have said before, atheism is the absence of faith in a deity. There is no “truth” to have faith in.

        “evasive answer to the last question”

        How was I evasive?

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      • I’ve never made any claim that I can prove that god doesn’t exist or that I know gods don’t exist

        Then, by definition, you’re not really an atheist Stu. Or if you claim to be it’s a faith position.

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      • Bryan, – re the Sam Harris anecdote,
        This is a very interesting account; but I would be most interested to hear Harris’s recounting of it too. I wonder if he recalls it like that. And I have tossed around in my mind just a few thoughts about what was actually in his mind at the time.

        He may have the feeling that to talk into the ‘air’ as if there is someone or something present might open the door to mental illness or some such.

        But thinking back, I can recall many atheists, and the odd leading one, who during their years of searching and researching, did precisely that – asking that the Christian God might reveal ‘himself’ in some way. Never got any response, they say. I look then at myself. During the last 30/40 years or so that I have been a non-Theist, (as I have described before on occasions, I am a Pantheist/Gnostic) I too have while in a meditative and thoroughly open relaxed mood, asked the Christian God to show or reveal himself to me, – and with no response whatsoever.

        For that matter, while I was in my Christian believing days, during the previous 30 odd years, I was, despite my sincere belief, unaware of any thing that could be described as direct feedback from the divine. I asked many times for the God to reveal himself, and had no response that related to any sort of a PERSONAL revelation.

        Oh, I had inner confidence and a sense of the divine presence, though it seemed never to be couched in any terms that could be described as specifically Christian. And over this last period of being a non-Theist, I have found that my inner faith was actually to be described as identical to that faith I had while I was a believing Christian. I have known spiritual blessings during this time.

        Coming back to the issue of Sam Harris, and this challenge to call upon the god, might I just make the point that you as a Christian may have missed out on important spiritual graces and contacts that others have had – within Christianity too? The sincere Catholic might well ask you if you are prepared to pray to the Blessed Virgin Mary to show herself as she has to multitudes of Christians for some 2000 years; or again to certain of the saints to add their prayers to yours in seeking the blessing of the God?

        Taking it further still, have you ever called sincerely and openly upon the name of Allah or Krishna to show themselves? You just dont know, but you may be missing out on something really big there. Another possibility is that maybe you and Christianity have got ‘the Satan’ completely wrong. Ever considered asking the Satan to show himself to you?

        Maybe the ‘revealing’ Sam Harris anecdote may not carry quite the moral that you seem to assume that it does. AND in the report from the lady about it, we cant really be absolutely sure that the interchange was exactly as she described. A witness with quite an axe to grind of course. Oh, but then of course, you are recounting it in faith arent you?

        Cheers,Rian.

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      • Rian, I think it’s a matter of perseverance and sincerity.

        I trust in the verse from Matthew: “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8″For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.…
        AND
        James 1:5
        If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.

        Blaise Pascal, who came to know God through Jesus Christ at the age of 31, put it this way:

        “Willing to appear openly to those who seek him with all their heart, and to be hidden from those who flee from him with all their heart, God so regulates the knowledge of himself that he has given indications of himself which are visible to those who seek him and not to those who do not seek him. There is enough light for those to see who only desire to see, and enough obscurity for those who have a contrary disposition.”

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      • “Then, by definition, you’re not really an atheist Stu. Or if you claim to be it’s a faith position.”

        Not true. Here’s those definitions for you again:

        Atheist:

        n. One who disbelieves or denies the existence of God or gods. The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language.

        1. (Philosophy) a person who does not believe in God or gods 2. 2. (Philosophy) of or relating to atheists or atheism. Collins English Dictionary.

        n. a person who denies or disbelieves the existence of a supreme being. Webster’s College Dictionary.

        n. Disbelief or lack of belief in the existence of God or gods. Oxford English Dictionary Online.

        n. 1. the doctrine that there is no god. 2. disbelief in the existence of a god (or gods). Macquarie Dictionary.

        That’s 5 different dictionaries. Why should I ignore these definitions in favour of any other?

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      • You’ve made my case. Each of those definitions requires a choice; a “faith choice” because it involves choosing a foundational and unprovable presupposition concerning the non-existence of God.

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      • “You’ve made my case. Each of those definitions requires a choice; a “faith choice” because it involves choosing a foundational and unprovable presupposition concerning the non-existence of God.”

        That’s not true. There are no presuppositions required for an absence of belief in gods as allowed for in all 5 definitions. Only one part of the Macquarie definition (“the doctrine”) provides an implicit presupposition. It is irrelevant whether choice is involved or not. I was an atheist before I accepted being identified as one.

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      • To say “I believe there is no God” is a conscious choice. Are you suggesting you have no control over what you believe Stu? Or that you were born an atheist? I’m yet to hear of a baby coming from the womb declaring a belief in the non-existence of God.

        Why are you so frightened to admit that atheism requires faith?

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      • “To say “I believe there is no God” is a conscious choice.”

        It may well be. I’ve never said it. I realise that it is important to your argument that there be no distinction between absence of belief and an assertion of non-existence.

        “Are you suggesting you have no control over what you believe Stu? Or that you were born an atheist? I’m yet to hear of a baby coming from the womb declaring a belief in the non-existence of God.”

        I’m yet hear of a baby coming out and saying anything Bryan. As for control, I don’t think I have any beliefs to control.

        “Why are you so frightened to admit that atheism requires faith?”

        The more relevant question is why are you so insistent that I have it?

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      • I don’t think I have any beliefs to control.

        So you believe in nothing Stu? That’s odd. I don’t think I believe that.

        I realise that it is important to your argument that there be no distinction between absence of belief and an assertion of non-existence.

        What argument? I’m just concerned about accuracy.

        The more relevant question is why are you so insistent that I have it?

        Again. Accuracy, It may be upsetting for you to be challenged but so be it.

        To say “I believe there is no God” is a conscious choice.”

        It may well be

        Thank you.

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      • Bryan,re yours of 11.35,

        The one big problem in your explanation that you are not prepared to allow, is of course that the answer may come back from the divine source, that is not couched in a Christian theistic fashion. It may not even be from the god that you anticipate. What a problem then for the Christian evangelist.

        And as far as persisting with sincerity etc, are you telling me that friend Sam Harris would or might be expected to have been in the sort of receptive state of mind that you are suggesting? – AND to keep on trying? Come on! As I said, I and loads of others have given the Christian god many many opportunities to get back to us, with no results – that were orthodox Christian for me at any rate. Of course there are those like Pascal as you say who had Christian responses come back to them. But that is not universal. Why dont you get Dom’s view on this???

        And of course, you made no attempt to answer my suggestions about sincerely asking Allah etc, or the Virgin Mary to respond to you. Your mind and heart are not as open as you make out they are. (any resident Catholics in the audience there like to come in on it?)

        Rian.

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      • Please excuse me Rian,

        I’m butting in again. Now, you can laugh this off if you like, and that’s fine by me. I’m just the messenger in this case. But I believe (and I am shaking this is so timely), that this is the message I have to give to you:

        Hebrews 11:6 But without faith it is impossible to please and be satisfactory to Him. For whoever would come near to God must [necessarily] believe that God exists and that He is the rewarder of those who earnestly and diligently seek Him [out].

        “It’s impossible to please God apart from faith. And why? Because anyone who wants to approach God must believe both that he exists and that he cares enough to respond to those who seek him”.

        And, because of the strong Freemasonry in your family line, there needs to be genuine repentance on behalf of (deceased) family members.

        I feel God is saying to you Rian that it’s all, or nothing with Him—Matthew 18:3 “And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”

        Probably not what you want to hear, but God is no joke.

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      • “So you believe in nothing Stu? That’s odd. I don’t think I believe that.”

        Why not? What’s wrong with accepting a degree of knowledge on the basis of probability or not know things at all? Give me an example of something I must believe in.

        “What argument?”

        Your argument that atheism must be faith based and that therefore atheism and agnosticism are incompatible (based on your refusal to accept the distinction between absence of belief and an assertion of non-existence).

        “I’m just concerned about accuracy.”

        Yet you ignore evidence like dictionary definitions and available literature in your responses to me.

        “Again. Accuracy, It may be upsetting for you to be challenged but so be it.”

        I’m not upset and I love being challenged, please carry on! What inaccuracy are you trying to correct?

        “Thank you.”

        You’re welcome. What for?

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      • Give me an example of something I must believe in.

        Love. Compassion, Doing good perhaps. Justice, Need any more examples?

        Your argument that atheism must be faith based and that therefore atheism and agnosticism are incompatible (based on your refusal to accept the distinction between absence of belief and an assertion of non-existence).

        I agree with the definitions you put up. I don’t agree with your skewing of the definitions.

        I’m not upset and I love being challenged, please carry on! What inaccuracy are you trying to correct?

        See above.
        “Thank you.”

        You’re welcome. What for?

        For finally admitting that your claimed atheism is a choice; a decision. And therefore based on faith.

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      • “Love. Compassion, Doing good perhaps. Justice, Need any more examples?”

        I accept the reality of all of those things based on evidence and shared experience. No beliefs required.

        “I don’t agree with your skewing of the definitions.”

        This is a baseless assertion unless you can demonstrate how I’ve skewed the definitions.

        For finally admitting that your claimed atheism is a choice; a decision. And therefore based on faith.

        I never admitted that. Demonstrate how faith and choice are necessarily mutually inclusive. Surely I can make a choice not based on faith.

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      • “Stu, are really saying you don’t believe in ANYTHING? Not even love?”

        I answered that already Bryan. I don’t need to believe in love. I experience it all the time. I accept all types of love (fraternal, romantic, paternal) as exist in reality for entirely natural reasons and can be evidenced by actions and shared experience. I don’t need faith or belief or gods to explain or accept this.

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      • “Actually I think you have already answered this and said it was chemical reactions.”

        I think there’s more to it than that (and more to learn), but to the best of my knowledge human consciousness and self awareness is dependent on nuerochemical processes in the brain.

        “That’s sad.”

        I don’t know why you think that’s sad. Do you really think all your emotions, feelings and experience mean less without faith in an omnimax entity?

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      • “Like what?”

        Like the amazing complexity of factors needed for a species to evolve traits like compassion. And, as I said science hasnt learned all there is to know about human consciousness.

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      • “Yeah? So love is just a matter of evolution?”

        Evolution by natural selection is a wondrous thing. I would never use the word “just” to describe it.

        “What about unconditional love Stu?”

        Why does any kind of love need have anything other than natural origins?

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      • Think of a soldier who throws herself on a live grenade to save her comrades. Or a firefighter who enters a blaze to rescue a child knowing that he will likely perish in the effort. How can you explain that in the “natural origins” sphere?

        How can you explain altruism and sacrifice in terms of “natural origins”?

        They make no sense in the ultimately instinctive hormonal behaviour that an atheism proclaims.

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      • “ultimately instinctive hormonal behaviour that an atheism proclaims.”

        Atheism “proclaims” nothing of the sort. Atheism is the absence of belief in gods.

        “Think of a soldier … firefighter … knowing that he will likely perish in the effort. How can you explain that in the “natural origins” sphere?”

        This is an appeal to emotion. Can you really think of no reason why there would be no evolutionary advantages for a species that has individuals that take risks for other individuals or the group?

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      • Charles Darwin said, “”If it could be proved that any part of the structure of any one species had been formed for the exclusive good of another species, it would annihilate my theory, for such could not have been produced through natural selection.”

        And yet there are many example in humans as well as animals of altruist acts that not only do not benefit the species, but possibly inconvenience it and put it in danger.

        There are documented accounts of dolphins circling a human being attacked by sharks and protecting them. Here, we have a separate species putting itself in danger to protect another species. Protecting the human has no benefit for the dolphin.

        Natural selection cannot explain the selfless acts we find in human and nature. Altruism contradicts natural selection – survival of the fittest.

        How do explain the actions of Thomas S. Vander Woude? One day in September 2008, Vander Woude’s 20-year-old son Josie, who has Down syndrome, fell through a broken septic tank cover in their yard. The tank was eight feet deep and filled with sewage. After trying and failing to rescue his son by pulling on his arm from above, Vander Woude jumped into the tank, held his breath, dove under the surface of the waste, and hoisted his son onto his shoulders. Josie was rescued a few minutes later. By then his 66-year-old father was dead.

        How can you make sense of that sacrificial deed?

        Was he doing so to maximize the spread of their genes throughout the gene pool.

        As someone with Down syndrome, Vander Woude’s son is probably sterile and possesses defective genes that, judged from a purely evolutionary standpoint, deserve to die off anyway. So Vander Woude’s sacrifice of himself seems to make him, once again, a fool in “natural origins” terms.

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      • “If it could be proved that any part of the structure of any one species had been formed for the exclusive good of another species”

        How is altruism in humans for the exclusive benefit of another species? Are you saying that a dolphin will circle a human but not another dolphin in an instance of danger? Of course not. The key words you’ve ignored in quote mining Darwin are “for the exclusive benefit of another species”.

        “Altruism contradicts natural selection – survival of the fittest.”

        Natural selection and survival of the fittest are different concepts coined by different people, with the latter referring to the immediate local environment.

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      • Stu, The key words YOU ignored are: “If it could be proved that any part of the structure of any one species had been formed….”

        Of course it’s difficult to prove.

        But why would a dolphin circle and protect a human? What possible evolutionary or genetic advantage is there to this?

        Altruism is not generally in one’s best interests if we are all governed by chemicals and evolution. The love they neighbour (and even love thy enemy) thing would seem absurd.

        And yet…there are plenty of examples of compassion and altruistic and selfless loving behaviour to others outside our own tribes.

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      • Stu, The key words YOU ignored are: “If it could be proved that any part of the structure of any one species had been formed….”

        How did I ignore any part of anything you’ve quoted from Darwin?

        “Of course it’s difficult to prove.”

        No it’s not. You just have to demonstrate an evolutionary trait (any part) in one specifies that evolved for sole benefit of another. You just haven’t been able to demonstrate it using dolphins as an example.

        “But why would a dolphin circle and protect a human?”

        Because it applied the altruistic traits it evolved to a human being it recognised was in danger. Dolphins are smart.

        “What possible evolutionary or genetic advantage is there to this?”

        None. The same as there’s no evolutionary or genetic advantage for a moth to fly into my back deck light because it thinks it’s the moon.

        “Altruism is not generally in one’s best interests if we are all governed by chemicals and evolution.”

        What evidence do you bring to back up this assertion? As I asked earlier: Can you really think of no reason why there would be no evolutionary advantages for a species that has individuals that take risks for other individuals or the group?

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      • You could say that evolution has produced what we might call altruism. Except, of course, that it is not altruism at all: It is, at most, enlightened self-interest. It gives no explanation as to why someone might give up their lives for the benefit of others, especially those whom they do not even know.
        The issue is whether the secular worldview can provide a basis for a good society. Can it motivate and inspire people to be selflessly altruistic? There really is no credible evolutionary reason to love our neighbours (and especially our enemies) in an atheist worldview. On purely evolutionary grounds, how can it be rational for someone suffer at a great cost— and even death—to honour other people’s rights?
        Nietzsche understood the moral consequences of his disbelief. He argued that God was dead, but acknowledged that without God there could be no binding and objective moral order.

        Like

      • “You could say that evolution has produced what we might call altruism. Except, of course, that it is not altruism at all: It is, at most, enlightened self-interest.”

        Except you’re saying it can’t and I’m asking (again): Can you really think of no reason why there would be no evolutionary advantages for a species that has individuals that take risks for other individuals or the group?

        “The issue is whether the secular worldview can provide a basis for a good society. Can it motivate and inspire people to be selflessly altruistic?”

        Why not? Are more secular societies like Sweden not good societies? Are people there less altruistic than in more religious societies?

        “without God there could be no binding and objective moral order.”

        Give me an example of an objective ethical position I am unable to take, or unable to give a reason for because I lack belief in gods.

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      • Yes Stu I am saying that evolution alone cannot produce altruism that is other than self-serving. I have given examples for sacrificial altruism and love . In the context of Darwinian selection, such selflessness hardly made sense. Sacrificial altruism has spiritual roots.

        The Swedish example often comes up on this blog. The Swedish National Bureau of Statistics http://sv.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sveriges_demografi#Religion
        shows 23% of Swedish citizens responded that “they believe there is a God”, whereas 53% answered that “they believe there is some sort of spirit or life force” and 23% that “they do not believe there is any sort of spirit, God, or life force”. So Sweden is perhaps not as secular as you may think. Only 13 per cent of the population describe themselves as atheists.

        Phil Zuckerman, a sociologist who teaches at Pitzer College in Claremont, Calif. reported his findings on religion in Denmark and Sweden in “Society Without God” (New York University Press, 2008).
        The many nonbelievers he interviewed, both informally and in structured, taped and transcribed sessions, were anything but antireligious. They typically balked at the label “atheist.”

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      • “Think of a soldier who throws herself on a live grenade to save her comrades.”

        OK so the group benefits at the expense of a single individual. That has to be good for the species which would be entirely in line with evolution.

        “Or a firefighter who enters a blaze to rescue a child knowing that he will likely perish in the effort.”

        Protection of the young – if that instinct had not evolved then the human race never would have made it out of Africa.

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      • The atheistic evolutionist cannot explain love using any factual basis, because love is a “metaphysical” phenomena. Evolutionists can only make “faith statements” about love.

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      • “Yes Stu I am saying that evolution alone cannot produce altruism that is other than self-serving.”

        There’s no such thing as self-serving altruism, and you have been unable to demonstrate why the traits you’ve made examples of cannot be the result of evolution by natural selection – just the vague notion that it “doesn’t make sense”. Clearly you are unable to understand the evolutionary advantages for a species that has individuals that take risks for other individuals or the group.

        “So Sweden is perhaps not as secular as you may think. Only 13 per cent of the population describe themselves as atheists.”

        I lived in Sweden for several years and visited just a few months ago. Things like religious instruction in state schools and pastors as counsellors wouldn’t even be considered. The national church struggles for relevance. It’s pretty secular and one of the least religious places on earth by most indicators. So it seems the answer to your question (whether the secular worldview can provide a basis for a good society) is “yes”.

        Can you give me an example of an objective ethical position I am unable to take, or unable to give a reason for because I lack belief in gods?

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      • Stu, whatever evidence I give for sacrificial altruism seems to hit a brick wall. And you can’t demonstrate how the examples I’ve given are the result of natural selection. Just saying they are is not an argument mate.

        My son has been working and living in Scandinavia for many years. He has reported the rise of right-wing populist governments in the region, the increase of of hate speech, right wing extremism and rampant bureaucracy . Perhaps things have changed since you lived there.

        I would rather not make this discussion personal by suggesting objective ethical positions you cannot take.

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      • “Stu, whatever evidence I give for sacrificial altruism seems to hit a brick wall. And you can’t demonstrate how the examples I’ve given are the result of natural selection.”

        I’m not asserting that I can prove altruism is a result of evolution, just that it’s the most probable, and that the divine is unnecessary as an explanation.

        “My son … has reported the rise of right-wing populist governments in the region, the increase of of hate speech, right wing extremism and rampant bureaucracy.”

        I disagree with none of your sons assessment of Sweden. It’s hardly utopia. But on so many indicators it is a “good society” and one of the least religious in the world as Phil Zuckerman has found.

        “I would rather not make this discussion personal by suggesting objective ethical positions you cannot take.”

        I can take it, without taking it personally. I will play the ball with a straight bat as always.

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      • I’m not asserting that I can prove altruism is a result of evolution, just that it’s the most probable, and that the divine is unnecessary as an explanation.

        And that is definitely a faith statement!!!

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      • “And that is definitely a faith statement!!!”

        If that’s a faith statement then, so is “I’m heading to fridge to get another beer!”

        I mean anything could happen between the couch and the fridge… 🙂

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      • “That’s just silly Stu.”

        Hence the smiley face denoting silliness.

        “It’s not the same thing at all.”

        Nor is conflating probability with faith.

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      • “You made a faith statement….that’s clear. (with or without an emoticon)”

        No, I made a statement based on probability and scientific consensus.

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      • “A bold statement you admit you have no proof for, just guessing. Therefore a statement made in faith.”

        Are you really saying that the scientific consensus that altruism is a naturally evolved trait in species is a guess, completely ungrounded on the basis of probability?

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      • “And is it really the scientific consensus?”

        Yes.

        “There are plenty of scientists who are theists….”

        That doesn’t exclude them from accepting evidence, coming conclusions on the basis of probability, and if they are evolutionary biologists, accepting the consensus about things like natural selection. So why can’t you?

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      • I’m not asserting that I can prove altruism is a result of evolution, just that it’s the most probable, and that the divine is unnecessary as an explanation.

        That’s just an opinion. But of course, with your atheist worldview, you couldn’t accept any other explanation other than evolution. Pretty narrow I think.

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      • “But of course, with your atheist worldview, you couldn’t accept any other explanation other than evolution.”

        Not true. If there was a discovery that disproved evolution tomorrow, I (and every scientist in the world) would abandon it just as quickly. And atheism has zero to do with it. Acceptance of the overwhelming evidence for evolution by natural selection does not have to preclude belief in a creator god.

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      • You accept a set of propositions, beliefs, and assumptions that make anything outside your worldview invalid. You believe that the Universe is a great uncaused, random accident. Any view outside that would seem to you to be facile. You presuppose that any view other than yours is invalid. But without evidence.

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      • “You accept a set of propositions, beliefs, and assumptions that make anything outside your worldview invalid.”

        As I’ve tried to point out to you, I don’t accept anything based on belief.

        “You believe that the Universe is a great uncaused, random accident.”

        When have I ever said that? Or are you falsely asserting this consequence of a lack of belief in gods?

        “Any view outside that would seem to you to be facile. You presuppose that any view other than yours is invalid. But without evidence.”

        View of what? Give me an example of something you think I’ve accepted without evidence.

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      • From I don’t have enough faith to be an atheist by Norman L. Geisler and Frank Turek

        It turns out that atheists have bigger gaps in knowledge because they have far less evidence for their beliefs than Christians have for theirs. In other words, the empirical, forensic, and philosophical evidence strongly supports conclusions consistent with Christianity and inconsistent with atheism. Here are a few examples of that evidence:

        1.. The scientific evidence overwhelmingly confirms that the universe exploded into being out of nothing. Either someone created something out of nothing (the Christian view), or no one created something out of nothing (the atheistic view). Which view is more reasonable? The Christian view. Which view requires more faith? The atheistic view.

        2. The simplest life form contains the information-equivalent of 1,000 encyclopedias. Christians believe only an intelligent being can create a life form containing the equivalent of 1,000 encyclopedias. Atheists believe nonintelligent natural forces can do it. Christians have evidence to support their conclu- sion. Since atheists don’t have any such evidence, their belief requires a lot more faith.

        3. Hundreds of years beforehand, ancient writings foretold the coming of a man who would actually be God. This man-God, it was foretold, would be born in a particular city from a particular bloodline, suffer in a particular way, die at a particular time, and rise from the dead to atone for the sins of the world. Immediately after the predicted time, multiple eyewitnesses proclaimed and later recorded that those predicted events had actually occurred. Those eyewitnesses endured persecution and death when they could have saved themselves by denying the events. Thousands of people in Jerusalem were then con- verted after seeing or hearing of these events, and this belief swept quickly across the ancient world. Ancient historians and writers allude to or confirm these events, and archaeology cor- roborates them. Having seen evidence from creation that God exists (point 1 above), Christians believe these multiple lines of evidence show beyond a reasonable doubt that God had a hand in these events. Atheists must have a lot more faith to explain away the predictions, the eyewitness testimony, the willingness of the eyewitnesses to suffer and die, the origin of the Christian church, and the corroborating testimony of the other writers, archeological finds, and other evidence that we’ll investigate later.

        The main point for now is that you see what we mean when we say that every worldview— including atheism—requires some degree of faith.

        Even skeptics have faith. They have faith that skepticism is true. Likewise, agnostics have faith that agnosticism is true. There are no neu- tral positions when it comes to beliefs. As Phillip Johnson so aptly put it, “One who claims to be a skeptic of one set of beliefs is actually a true believer in another set of beliefs.” In other words, atheists, who are naturally skeptical of Christianity, turn out to be true believers in atheism. If they are honest with the evidence, they need a lot more faith to maintain their atheistic beliefs than Christians need to maintain theirs.

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      • So you can’t give me an example of something you think I’ve accepted without evidence, or point to where I’ve said I “believe that the Universe is a great uncaused, random accident.”

        I can see why you cut and paste Geisler and Turek. It’s one baseless assertion after another. I particularly liked this nugget: “agnostics have faith that agnosticism is true” which, apart from being completely illogical, utterly contradicts the third line in your original post “Bottom line: if you are not agnostic, then you have faith in something.”

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  6. Bryan, I inadvertently omitted the paragraph from your last posting to me. this should follow my note that say

    ‘Your words Bryan’. <<<<>>>>
    Rian.

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    • Hello Monica,
      Because your post to me touches on more delicate issues, I’ve emailed you in person rather than put it on the blog.
      Love, Rian.

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    • Yeah? So love is just a matter of evolution? What about unconditional love Stu?

      Oh for heavens sake, Bryan, you simply cannot explain or prove that such a thing exists among humans. there certainly can be the momentary flash of feeling or believing that one has it at times. But apart from that love attributed to ‘the God’ if there really is a personal god at all, it is an impossibility for us humans to manifest. If you quibble over this, then I will explain why it is non-existent.

      Rian

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    • In answer to Bryans of Oct 12, 18.19pm – re Turek & Co. argument.

      OOOOOOOOOH, (loud groan lasting for some 10 minutes)

      NOT the tired old Scriptural Prophecies tack all over again???!!! – and to be taken as clear EVIDENCE????

      Bryan, you were just starting to get on the verge of convincing me with the first two clauses of the argument offered by Turek and co. But then you just HAD
      to continue with that claim about the prophecies made centuries beforehand.

      The idea is insupportable and misguided. If you really intend to toss it at us, then also point us to the panels of Jewish Rabbis and Scholars who agree with the prophetic detail that is supposedly found in those peculiarly obscure and illogical texts that are to be found in THEIR own Scriptures that they’ve been studying with the greatest efficiency for many centuries.

      Point us to the multitude of NON-Christian scholars and Historians who also are convinced of their validity. If they are just so unmistakeable, these guys will confirm it all quite easily.
      A disheartened Rian.

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      • Some Old testament Prophecies fulfilled by Jesus.

        1. Messiah’s pre-existence. Micah 5:2 John 1:1, 1:14
        2. To be from the seed of a woman. Genesis 3:15 Matthew 1:18
        3. To be from the seed of Abraham. Genesis 12:3 Matthew 1:1-16
        4. To be from the seed of David. Isaiah 11:10 Matthew 1:1
        5. Abraham’s descendant would bless all nations. Genesis 12:3; 18:18 Matthew 1:2
        6. To be from the tribe of Judah. Genesis 49:10 Matthew 1:1-3
        7. To be a prophet like Moses. Deuteronomy 18:15,19 John 5:45-47
        8. To be the Son of God. Isaiah 9:6-7 Luke 1:32
        9. To be called Lord Jeremiah 23:5-6 John 13:13
        10. To be called Mighty God Isaiah 9:6 Matthew 1:23
        11. To be God within a man Zechariah 12:10-11 John 10:30
        12. To be presented with gifts. Psalm 72:10 Matthew 2:10
        13. To die before the 2nd Temple is destroyed. Daniel 9:24-27 Temple destroyed in 70 A.D.; Jesus killed between 30-33 A.D.
        14. To enter Jerusalem between 30-33 A.D. Daniel 9:24-27 Jesus enters Jerusalem between 30-33 A.D.
        15. To be born in Bethlehem. Micah 5:2 Luke 2:4-2:7
        16. To perform miracles. Isaiah 35:5-6 Matthew 11:4-6
        17. To enter Jerusalem on a donkey. Zechariah 9:9 Matthew 21:6-9
        18. To enter Jerusalem as a King. Zechariah 9:9 Matthew 21:5
        19. To suffer. Isaiah 53:10-11 Mark 15:34-37
        20. To bring salvation. Isaiah 59:16-20 Luke 19:10
        21. When God establishes His new covenant, Israel will come to know the Lord; not just His laws. Jeremiah 31:31-34 Matthew 11:29-30
        22. To be raised from the dead. Psalm 16:10, Isaiah 53:10 Mark 16:9-10
        23. To sit at the right hand of God. Psalm 110:1 Mark 16:19
        24. To be a priest forever. Psalm 110:4 Hebrews 5:5-6
        25. To be an intercessor between man and God. Isaiah 59:16 Matthew 10:32
        26. To be called wonderful counselor Isaiah 9:5-6 Luke 4:22
        27. To be called everlasting father. Isaiah 9:5-6 Matthew 1:23
        28. To be called prince of peace. Isaiah 9:5-6 John 16:33
        29. To be a guide to Jews and Gentiles. Isaiah 42:1; Isaiah 49:1-8 Luke 2:32
        30. To be accepted by Gentiles. Isaiah 11:10 Acts 13:47-48
        31. To be preceded by a messenger. Isaiah 40:3 Matthew 11:10-11
        32. To bring light to Galilee. Isaiah 9:1-2 Matthew 4:15
        33. Would be rejected. Isaiah 53:3; Daniel 9:24-26 John 1:11
        34. Would be tried and condemned. Isaiah 53:8 Acts 8:31-35
        35. Would be pierced. Isaiah 53:5 John 20:25
        36. Would be wounded. Isaiah 53:5 John 19:17-18
        37. Would be considered a criminal. Isaiah 53:12 Luke 22:37
        38. Would pray for criminals. Isaiah 53:12 Luke 23:34 (in reference to the soldiers)
        39. Would have no broken bones. Psalm 34:20/21, Exodus 12:46, Numbers 9:12) John 19:33
        40. Would be silent before His accusers. Isaiah 53:7 Matthew 27:14
        41. Would be buried in a rich man’s tomb. Isaiah 53:9 Matthew 27:57-60
        42. Would heal the blind. Isaiah 61:1-2 John 9:25-38
        43. Would preach to the poor. Isaiah 61:1-2 Matthew 11:5
        44. Would die for the sins of Israel & the World. Isaiah 53:5-6 Matthew 20:28
        45. Israel would see, but not see; hear, but not hear. Isaiah 6:9-10 Matthew 13:13-15
        46. His message would spread world-wide. Isaiah 49:6 Acts 15:15-18
        47. Would be a priest after the order of Melchizedek. Psalm 110:4 Hebrews 5:10

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      • Good on ya Bryan,

        I knew that I’d cajole you into posting a list of ‘prophecies’ out of the Jewish Scripture. You simply must understand that I could have mustered up all of that list myself, as I’ve heard and read about it for over 70 years; and a couple of dozen books in my library could supply them. I think that the very most one might say in favour of the texts is that they suggest TYPES of and for Jesus, but never prophecies. I must say that it was most gratifying to me to note that you wisely omitted the most popular old classic about the Virgin bearing a child. I can comment immediately on a few of the quotes, while others will take a bit of refreshing my brain. So just grabbing a few that hit me.

        Isaiah 53.7. “He was oppressed and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before his shearers is dumb, so he opened not his mouth. “ What I notice here is that there is not a single mention in Isaiah of ‘his accusers’, – just his shearers and ‘to the slaughter’. So you got that bit wrong. A lamb or a sheep is actually unable to speak, though they may frequently open their mouths and make noises, and there is no suggestion that Jesus was at any time unable to speak. As a matter of fact, though a couple of Gospel verses say that he kept silent about certain accusations, nevertheless, several verses make it plain that he actually had quite a lot to say at his ‘trials’ or hearings. See Matt. 26. 64; Mark 25.2; Luke 22.67-68 and 23.3; and finally John 18.20, 18.34, and 19.11. One down, let’s look at some others.

        Ah yes. Genesis 3.15. Bryan DONT give me that stuff. The verse says absolutely NOTHING about a coming Messiah or God-Man. Catholic tradition from dear old Jerome mis-translated the last lines as ‘it shall CRUSH thy head, and thou shalt BRUISE his heel.’ The verb in both cases is the same, and simply cannot imply an eventual victory over the serpent, just an on-going enmity.
        . (The ‘woman’ was read in Catholicism as the earliest prediction about the Immaculate Mother of God, and her seed therefore just had to be the Christ.) There is simply no suggestion in Genesis that this is any sort of prediction about a Jesus or a Messiah.

        In regard to Micah 5.2, – sure, the prophecy in this case DOES exist. The Jewish translation does not have the final words ‘from everlasting’. It is interpreted that the Messiah’s eventual existence was known to God from the beginning of time. The quotes from John you give there, don’t prove anything. They represent only a theological position about Jesus. They don’t represent any sort of verifiable occurrence, so cant really be a fulfilment of prophecy other than to believers.

        Being born in Bethlehem (not the CITY of David, of course, just a small place) as our Jewish theologians would point out to us, actually proves nothing about Jesus being the Messiah. He still had to fulfil all the appropriate job description allotted to the Messiah. I would remind you, Bryan, that a couple of times in this forum, I’ve pointed out that several years back you yourself stated in your Herald/Sun column that it is unlikely that Jesus was actually born in Bethlehem, but rather born in Nazareth. I still have the page from the paper in my possession; and I didn’t pursue it after mentioning it, considering that you might be embarrassed over it. However since you bring this up again, I emphasize it. Have you changed your mind?? Hm? Anyone else like to know too?

        Crumbs Bryan, I’m honestly just darting back and forth between the items you mention there, and shaking my head in disbelief. Let’s finally (for now) look at the ‘prediction’ that tells how ‘he will be presented with gifts.’, and the verse is Psalm 72.10. and fulfilled hopefully by the visit of the Magi. I notice that a few short verses prior to this one, it quotes certain of the things that would happen ‘In his days’ (verse 7). In other words looking at the predictions, they were not to be on-going things for all eternity, and thus were to happen specifically in the life-time of the expected ideal earthly king. I notice in verse 15,speaking about the same entity, that ‘Prayer shall be made FOR him continually…’ No suggestion that prayers would ever be made TO him.

        Anyway, enough for the moment. Feel free to throw any of the quoted ‘prophecies’ at me, and I shall endeavour to disabuse you of the traditional meanings, in my very best Rabbinical fashion.
        Cheers, Rian.

        Like

      • Bryan, at least you are right about the fact that I aint no Rabbi. As a matter of fact it was some couple of years back that one of your Christian compatriots told me very contemptuously that I ‘was thinking Rabbinically’. Cant just recall who, but it had to be PG or Alexie, or Dismay, dont know. But Wow, what a compliment. Only wish it was true. But there again, with all the good will in the world, you aint no Theologian, either. We are both enthusiastic and informed amateurs.

        Anyway, if all you can say is to make demeaning remarks about my posts, then you are clearly backing out of the debate, and acknowledging that you are totally incapable of answering my points. Not really the sign of either a good debater or Christian apologist. You lose no opportunity of putting down Stu or any of the other atheists with a flat statement. I am duly doing the same to you.

        If I am wrong, if I am misquoting Scriptural texts, or if I am incorrect in some of my historical and early Christian references or being illogical, then let me know. I guess I can be explaining in the process some of the thoroughly good reasons why Christianity never ‘took’ successfully among our Jewish brothers. Otherwise, you never know, I might cause some individual Christian in this forum to doubt his faith in the Bible?”??”

        You back out of defending your beliefs and Bible knowledge, and you will be a big disappointment to all of us. Opinion Facile, Fallacy, etc? I get the impression that no-one on this blog has ever properly stumped you before.

        Cheers Rian.

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      • Rian, Stumped? No mate. Not at all. And I’m not backing out. Just too busy to deal with the same old predictable anti-Christian BS at the moment. I will when I get time. I’m offline for a day or so.
        Cheers
        Bryan

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  7. I cannot understand this big fuss over whether atheists have a faith or not. Surely there are bigger issues.

    One who has no belief in a God, does NOT have a faith.
    But if that’s extended to believing there is no God, that one then HAS a faith.

    Can we agree on that?
    🙂

    Like

      • Hi Stu,
        Now, this diabolical conflict we are having with the management over the terms of atheism and agnosticism, happens to be going nowhere. And I recall a process that I have employed in similar circumstances of debate over religious or philosophical issues. A lot of the time, a fundamental problem lies in the difficulties we have had in the definitions being tossed about.

        Now, let’s not breathe a word about all this to Bryan, who is remaining nefariously stiff-necked and stubborn over the matter. Perhaps you and I can prove ourselves to be flexible and broader of mind than he in the way that we tackle the matter.

        Bryan doesn’t like to see atheism split up into two varieties! Well, fine. What say that without seeking to alter his definition of atheism, that without changing our minds, we propose a sneaky alternative? I propose that the word Agnosticism itself gets divided up.

        We propose Negative and Positive Agnosticism instead. Positive Agnosticism then will represent the classic form for the approach that one doesn’t know about the existence of a god; that the speculative concept of a god is part of the mental armoury of the person, though he doesn’t hold an immediate belief in such a being. The possibility that there actually is a god is allowed for, and he may be very interested in the topic,though there is to date no suitable evidence for the god’s existence. This is his personal stance.

        On the other hand, Negative Agnosticism will simply be an alternative for the term Negative atheism that Bryan wont allow for. The Negative Agnostic simply doesn’t give a god any significance. He cant see that the idea is of any importance, and he rarely thinks about the matter. Like the atheist, he lives without a god in his sights, and probably is not the slightest bit interested. Like the atheist, he might have a few arguments that appear to demonstrate the non-existence of a god. But he is not carrying any personal investment on the existence of a god, and he has no intention of pursuing the matter.

        All along of course, our atheist on the other hand, maintains his rigid position that there is no god, and he will not, cannot believe in such a being.

        So, what say you? Good idea? Well so long as Bryan doesn’t get a hint that we are going to try to put this over him.

        Cheers, Rian (fellow conspirator)

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  8. If you are an agnostic then you are really an atheist. If you don’t know if there is a god or not, then you are without belief in a god, i.e. you are an atheist. Maybe you are too gutless to get off the fence, but you are an atheist just the same.

    Like

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