Sketches on Atheism

You’re on the winning side

Head in the SandYou’re on the winning side. Keep this line in mind while I first dive into this two-word buffet: Banana Republic. Coined in the 1930’s, the term Banana Republic is (as everyone is well-aware) used to describe a small country whose economic exploits lack a certain depth or sophistication; a country whose future surfs a wave almost entirely dependent on the market of a single product. It’s a derogatory phrase; a slap in the face to nations who’re a danger not only to themselves but their neighbours. They are vulnerable, unstable, highly volatile and essentially must maintain a delusional headset to exist. Fair enough, the turn of words is accurate, but I contend the definition is far too restrictive. Banana Republics also apply to individual minds, and in this unhealthy market theists have a working monopoly. Theists, particularly evangelicals, are a danger to themselves and their neighbours. The dogma they cling to (and the apologetics they offer up) is so vaporous that they are left emotionally vulnerable, mentally unstable, and outwardly highly volatile. They are immature, irrational, brittle, and lack sophistication and depth in their thinking which subsequently must be filled with delusion… and this brings me to the comment posted by a Christian apologist going by the name, Theologetics who at the time was encouraging another evangelical, a strikingly odd man named Roy:

“Keep fighting the fight. You’re on the winning side.”

Now, to put it mildly, this outlandishly bold statement made my mind do peculiar summersaults. For these five words to be even remotely rooted in some crumb of reality one would have to of observed a steady movement of truth toward religious belief, not away from it. For it to be taken seriously (to be on the “winning” side) there should be physical examples where religious explanations have successfully supplanted that which was once considered scientific fact. Now, the reality is that the movement of truth has been in one direction, and one direction only: AWAY from religion. There does not exist a single example in the last 400 years where a supernatural explanation has overthrown a natural one, rather tens of thousands of cases where natural explanations have instead usurped the erroneous magic promoted in religion. This has, understandably, been reflected in the rapid decline of religious practice among educated, rational populations and a striking movement from belief to non-belief among the scientific community. In 1916, 1,000 leading American scientists were randomly chosen from American Men of Science and 41.8% believed a god existed, 41.5% were atheist, and 16.7% had doubts/did not know. In 1998 a survey of members of the National Academy of Sciences (published in Nature) revealed that the number of atheists had blown out to a whopping 93%. When the number for just those involved in the biological sciences were isolated that percentage rocketed to a staggering 98.7%. There is, of course, a reason for this one way traffic: no evidence for the supernatural has ever been seen, and it’s now commonly understood that a god is simply not required for the universe to exist or be the way it is.

By ignoring this unmistakable movement in one direction (by turning a blind-eye to the overwhelming evidence to the contrary) and claiming, You’re on the winning side, it’s clear that Theologetics (like most fundamentalists) is a Banana Republic of the mind. Worryingly, these folk care not for the authenticity of the real world, choosing instead to fill their heads with a delusion as evidenced in this bloggers fabulously inaccurate statement… and that can never be a good thing; not for the individual or those around them.

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173 thoughts on “You’re on the winning side

  1. There are not only ways for a supernatural explanation to gain scientific merit – such as statistically meaningful data correlating efficacy of prayer to a certain deity, for example, but not other deities (which is why I disagree with the notion that the supernatural is ‘off limits’ so to speak to scientific inquiry; surely materialistic effect must be open to claims of material causation!) – but ways that reduce this merit, too. Both must be considered respectfully by anyone of fair mind and concern for what is justifiable as true. And this is where so many creationists leave the rails of civil discourse to pretend that, in this case, what’s true doesn’t matter; what matters most is what is believed to be true… as if by this power alone contrary reality can be shaped into service.

    The direction of all such data is, as you have said, all one way… away from the supernatural. This matters a very great deal to anyone who seeks honest answers to honest questions about causal efficacy. Science has a commanding voice in the method we rely on every day of our lives to link cause with effects by an understandable mechanism at work in all other areas of life (save incompatible religious beliefs)… a method that produces data independent of any faith-based rather than reality based belief claims about causal effect by the person doing the inquiry.

    Not paying attention to the direction of where justified belief comes from – the natural and not the supernatural is brute fact independent of what me or anyone else believes – means the person doing so simply doesn’t care about what’s knowable, what’s useful, what’s practical, what works, what method of inquiry is consistent and reliable, what is justified belief; the person who ignores it is analogous to the sports fan who hopes the results of a game will change even long after the match is complete… by the power of dedicated belief that reality can be shaped by contrary belief alone.

    Such people are not rational.

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    • I’m completely with you the merit of investigating supernatural claims. Nothing should be considered off limits to enquiry. A discovery of something approaching a universal consciousness could only be a brilliant thing. Such enquiry requires honesty, which is something the fundamentalist doesn’t seem capable of rising to. They’re simply not willing to have their belief put on the table.

      Did you see that Theologetics replied to your excellent comment back on Praysons blog?

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      • Did I see Theologetics’ response? Yes. And I responded again, as well, because he missed the point I was making first time around. C’est la vie.

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    • My comment wasn’t meant to be about any sort of “race” or a prize to be chased. It was meant as an encouragement, not an argument.
      Perhaps my statement should have been “You’re on the right side” as I absolutely think that the atheistic worldview is wrong, and the Christian theist worldview is right. Perhaps my wording could have been different, but the fact that an encouraging comment to a fellow theist has caused so much drama is really quite remarkable.

      It is as if John needs to address every little point that anyone makes on Prayson’s blog. Whether it’s out of a desire for more attention, the desire to waste peoples’ time, or the need to justify his own beliefs, I have no idea. I do find it interesting though.

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      • @ Theologics.
        No, it isn’t drama, merely incredulity that there are still people who think as you do and such utterances remind us rational, critical thinking individuals that even though science put a man on the moon as far back as 20th July 1969 some misguided people still believe it was the grace of a god that brought them home to earth.

        This is such a sad reflection of the human race, that we have reared another generation, many of whom do not know the name Neil Armstrong , but are subject to religious diatribe, the erroneously named ID and Creationism in schools.

        Shame on you.

        Silly People.

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      • As I’ve stated numerous times, this comment I made was an encouragement to a fellow theist, not an argument. Treating it as such is irrational.
        And I’m not sure why you assume that I am against science because I am a Christian. Far from it. I admire the greatness that science has bestowed upon the human race and I welcome all advancements that are made through science.
        The fact that you deny that God’s grace can impact our lives though is a reflection of the sad state of the human race though. If we have a few pieces of information justified by naturalistic explanations, we hastily generalize that all thing have naturalistic explanations. Such invalid reasoning is what is truly erroneous.
        Even more comical is that you end with a moral statement “shame on you”, that your worldview cannot justify without borrowing concepts and vocabulary from mine.

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      • You were encouraging his belief as much as the person. Please don’t split hairs, it makes you sound petty.

        Challenge to atheism? Absolutely..bring it on as they say in street talk.
        I have no truck with hypocrisy. In this context that would make me like the religious.
        Ask away…the floor is yours.

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      • Everything.
        Is there any degree of probability that you could be wrong about everything you claim to know.
        i.e. is it possible that you could be stuck in some kind of matrix, or that you could be a brain in a vat, or strapped in a bed in a psych ward and everything you experience is fed to you?

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      • Ah, sorry. Didn’t quite follow you at first.
        Yes there is a possibility.
        But even if this were true, it would still be a natural ( real) situation. Only my perception would be altered, not the reality itself.
        Not sure if this is what you are looking for?
        I would appreciate though if you would make the point at the beginning of the path rather than us meandering along it, okay?

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      • Well, part of natural dialogue is “meandering along” in the form of Q & A, but here’s the problem:

        If you could be wrong about everything you claim to know, then it follows that you can know nothing.
        If I claim to know that a computer is in front of me, but I could be wrong, I don’t know there is a computer in front of me. As such, if everything you claim to know could be a wrong knowledge claim, then you can’t actually know anything.
        If you can’t know anything to be true, you abandon the ability to make knowledge claims, even the one you made right after you gave up knowledge:
        “even if this were true, it would still be a natural situation, only my perception would be altered, not reality itself”
        First, I can simply ask, “could you be wrong about that?”
        Second, you appeal to an instance of reality, but if you could be wrong about everything you claim to know, how can you know what reality is?

        That’s the problem with the atheistic presupposition, there is no avenue to certainty. There is no justification for knowledge. That isn’t to say that you don’t know things because I think that you do. The problem is that your worldview, your presuppositions, doesn’t account for your knowledge, and thus your account of knowledge claims comes from a source outside your worldview.
        I would argue that when you make knowledge claims, you can only do so presupposing my worldview because Christian Theism can makes sense of knowledge.

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      • ‘’If you could be wrong about everything you claim to know, then it follows that you can know nothing.’’

        In actual fact this is a very astute comment, and you could very well be right. But at least it levels the playing fields for each of us.

        So, all I ask is for you to produce or demonstrate the evidence that you claim is irrefutable of the existence of the deity you worship, and, more importantly what is was that utterly convinced you personally.

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      • Thank you Arkenaten for your intellectual honesty. It is refreshing to have someone answer my questions. I want to do the same for you, I apologize if its long-winded:

        How can I know God exists? Easy: The impossibility of the contrary. As you’ve allowed, this (knowledge justification) is a problem for both of us. I don’t deny this. If you are familiar with epistemology, then perhaps you know of the predicament that the Pyrrhonians found themselves in: the infinite regress of knowledge justification (A justified by B justified by C…ad infinitum).
        There is only one way to overcome an infinite regress of knowledge claims: one must know everything. Omniscience overcomes any such problem in justification, and as such, it is the only way to properly justify knowledge without the possibility of error.
        This leaves a problem for us, since we are all merely human beings. However, my worldview is justified because, while I don’t have infinite knowledge, I have revelation from someone who does.
        That is why Christian theism can justify knowledge claims.
        My whole point in questioning is not that I tear you down or even make the point that you don’t have knowledge. My point is to show that in order to make knowledge claims, and even to know that you have knowledge, you need to borrow from my worldview: that God has revealed to us knowledge so that we can be certain.

        In case the question will arise “how do we receive revelation?”, the answer is simple and two-fold:
        1. Innately: We are all created in the image of God (Gen 1:27), and as such, some of his characteristics to a lesser degree have been given to us (knowledge and a moral compass among them).
        2. Scripture: God’s Word gives us what we do not innately have.

        On a materialistic worldview, knowledge doesn’t even make sense in a universe of matter in motion and nothing more. Truth doesn’t make sense, morals are impossible. Yet this is not the way we live. Therefore, there must be an explanation beyond the atheistic worldview that is needed.

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      • to Theologetics

        “2. Scripture: God’s Word gives us what we do not innately have.”

        Oooooo. God’s word I’m afraid is seriously flawed right from the git go.

        If Adam and Eve were the first people, where did Cain’s wife come from?

        How does anyone know what the exact conversation was between Satan and God when they decide Jobs fate? Who exactly chronicled this conversation?

        Now it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born to them, that the SONS of God saw the daughters of men, that they [were] beautiful; and they took wives for themselves of all whom they chose. Gen 6: 1and 2

        Doesn’t this dispute then the notion that Jesus WAS the “only begotten son” of the father as attested to in John 3: 16, Heb 11: 17 and 1John 4: 9

        There’s more flaws but I would be interested in seeing how you get past these two. In order to do so I would think, you would have to reject the belief that the Bible is the inerrant word of God, no?

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      • The typical “shotgun” approach I see from atheists.
        You name a bunch of objections and require me to address them.
        I’ll be happy to do so, given that your objections are pretty easily countered.

        For one, who heard the conversation between Satan and God regarding Job? Well, that’s easy: God did. And His inspiration of scripture would make it clear that such a source is reliable. The only reason you object to this is because you assume that any recording cannot have divine inspiration – this is entailed in your presuppositions.

        I’ll engage with you further, but I must ask: what standard of truth will you judge my answers?

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      • Oh, for crying out loud, the book of Job in all likelihood has several authors. Anyone with even a passing interest in biblical scholarship knows this. The story is taken from the Sumerians and altered to ‘fit’ one of the early christian gods (and, yes, there are a pantheon of them from the OT).

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      • “For one, who heard the conversation between Satan and God regarding Job? Well, that’s easy: God did.”

        Really Theo. Well your bible must be different from mine because it seems pretty clear to me that there is a 3rd party taking notes when Satan and god are having their exchanges , like this one in Job 1: 6-7

        “Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan [fn] also came among them. And the LORD said to Satan, “From where do you come?” So Satan answered the LORD and said, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking back and forth on it.”

        Was God talking in the 3rd person about himself?

        “And His inspiration of scripture would make it clear that such a source is reliable.”

        Well, Im sorry Theo but that’s just now how it’s coming across here. It really looks like there’s something like a court reporter taking notes here. Besides, your assertion that this was all divinely inspired to someone later and that it was reliable because it allegedly came from God isn’t on solid ground. Were the words divinely inspired in Genesis 6 that exposed other sons of God. If so then when the gospel writers century later were writing their inspired words from god they must of heard it wrong regarding “God’s only begotten son – Jesus” So how do you balance theses two conflicting points?

        “The only reason you object to this is because you assume that any recording cannot have divine inspiration – this is entailed in your presuppositions.”

        Yes, it’s been a no brainer for me for some time Theo that much of what is written in the Bible is not the inspiration of one universal god but the inspiration of men whose epiphany about god were, on occasion, chemically induced.

        “I’ll engage with you further, but I must ask: what standard of truth will you judge my answers?”

        The only truth I know man. Experience and verifiable data. If we get into some gray area arguments I’d like to think critical thinking skills will works us through them. You okay with that?

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      • Sure I’m okay with that. I love critical thinking. Let’s try some:

        You justify truth by experience and verifiable data.

        How do you know that your experience is valid?

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      • “How do you know that your experience is valid?”,/i>

        Seriously??? What are you? A existentialist monk.

        You’re casting air balls here Theo and beginning to sound like a starry-eyed cultist. But that advantages you because you never have to respond to realities you don’t like. You merely toss a out a little semantical dosey-do and then hope to watch people do the two-step to it.

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      • I’m willing to respond, but I just want to make sure that you actually have a bsis for your statements. The fact that you can’t answer a simple question without moving to insults is telling enough.

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      • “The fact that you can’t answer a simple question without moving to insults is telling enough.”

        What’s telling Theo is that you are attempting to engage in a tap dance to avoid my very specific questions you yourself have failed to answer. The weak attempt at explaining who chronicled the conversation between god and satan in the book of Job is all you responded too. Please tell me how you avoid confessing that the bible is not the inerrant word of God with your responses to where Cain’s wife came from and the fact that Jesus was apparently not the “only begotten son of the father”?

        Your Socratic play here is a sleight of hand approach to redirect the original conversation. Quit answering a question with a question. You came into this conversation with the intent of “enlightening” us but have essentially done nothing more than blames us for a disbelief in something you fail to validate with anything other than ancient scripture that revolves around the expectancy of faith.

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      • Fair enough, but since your worldview is void of reason, we have to continue under the paradigm of Christian theism.

        Cain’s Wife:
        Let’s be clear: The Bible doesn’t record everything that ever happened in the history of the world.
        Genesis 1-4 Tell of the creation of the cosmos, Adam and Eve, their children. What it doesn’t tell us is where Cain’s wife came from.
        Simple answer: I have no idea, but I don’t need to know everything. If I had to place a guess, Cain’s wife was… hmmm, created by God? Just because the origins of Cain’s wife aren’t distinctly written about doesn’t mean that there’s no explanation. Your complaint is irrelevant.

        I have no idea what you are referring to with Jesus not being the only begotten son of the Father. Whatever the complaint is, I’m sure it’s from a misreading of the text. Jesus is the only begotten Son of the Father. He is the Son of the trinity, he is the only such Son within the Godhead. God refers to people as his children, but it’s not in the same sense as Jesus is his son. Another irrelevant objection.

        There. You have your answers. See why I didn’t answer them before? It’s because they make no sense. Especially in your worldview. Where your best attempt to explain truth is through your senses, which you still haven’t answered for.

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      • ”The Bible doesn’t record everything that ever happened in the history of the world.”

        So you get to make up stuff to fill in the blanks? We’re you and those who charge themselves to do this also “divinely inspired” to fill in those blanks? Can I declare that I have been divinely inspired and fill in many of those blanks or will it be rejected like much of what was rejected by early church fathers who decided what should and shouldn’t be part of the Bible as we know it today, the canon.

        If “god-inspired” is truly how some of the books of the bible came about then why were the gnostics rejected in the early formation days of the church. Aren’t you even a little concerned that some of what was left out of the canon may have indeed been “inspired” by God? How can you know for sure that Clement, Irenaeus or Origen weren’t jealous of the gnostics who attained their knowledge in a transcendent fashion vis a’ vis some interior, intuitive means, aka, inspiration?

        ”I have no idea, but I don’t need to know everything.”

        No one of course can “know everything” Theo, but many of us think we should keep searching beyond the narrow limitations imposed by you and your belief system. Or would you be okay with it if we made up stuff to fill in the holes too?

        ”I have no idea what you are referring to with Jesus not being the only begotten son of the Father.”

        Really? You can’t see where Genesis 6:2 refers to “the sons of God” as making a distinction that those sons were his, not some willy-nilly reference “to people as his children”.

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      • You have a knack for twisting words…
        Anyway. Answer my question please. I answered yours.
        How do you know your senses and reasoning are valid?

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      • “You have a knack for twisting words…”

        Is that some sort of implication that you don’t?

        “How do you know your senses and reasoning are valid?”

        Well, as you said yourself, we can’t know everything so we go with what we can reasonably validate. It is easy for me to ascertain what gender and species I am. We have a body of physical evidence to validate that though you may want to say your sky man may have not intended that distinction for us. We can only know what presents itself to us and not by imagination alone. Senses are common to everyone, we burn when we place our hand in fire and we feel cold in the dead of winter.

        Reasoning however is less concrete but still we go with abstracts that fit our physical world. For instance we know the world isn’t flat as the bible presented it nor does the sun revolve around our earth. There may be some good advice in the bible that will help us deal with personal and social problems but I can get as much from Ann Landers too.

        There are few absolutes Theo but there are some things we can easily dispense with and one of them is a source of information for people who still think that some sky man is in complete control of the universe and that genocide is okay if your not part of some “chosen” tribe.

        Validating our senses and reasoning is an ongoing process. Not something finite that some choose to believe was determined centuries ago by a patriarchal ban of nomads.

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      • Your characterization of anything to do with theology is honestly nonintellectual.
        Instead of actively discussing anything, you move to insult with your rhetoric with terms like “sky man” and “nomads” as though that’s supposed to support some claim.
        As far as I’ve seen, you have admitted that we can’t have knowledge, but we must simply assume that our senses are valid.
        Well that’s fine. I’m trying to get to the bottom of your worldview, but if you’d like to take it on blind faith, that’s something you’ll have to deal with, but don’t go pointing the finger at theists’ assumptions when you have fully admitted that we must make them…

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      • “As far as I’ve seen, you have admitted that we can’t have knowledge, but we must simply assume that our senses are valid”

        WTF?!? How do you even begin to draw this conclusion. You want to get into a semantics wrestling match with someone, look elsewhere my friend.

        “Your characterization of anything to do with theology is honestly nonintellectual.”

        You pretentious bastard. You want to discuss theology and I’m simply trying to understand how you defend the bible as the inerrant word of God. Can’t you do this without being determined to inject centuries of dogmatic rot the church has layered over the simple message of the synoptic gospels with? Could that be because that initial message was slightly flawed and the church needs people like you to fill the obvious holes they didn’t anticipate would be recognized by their flock? Thank you Johannes Gutenberg, wherever you are!

        “you move to insult with your rhetoric with terms like “sky man” and “nomads” as though that’s supposed to support some claim.”

        You have a problem with my “world view”. Sorry it’s not up to snuff with your inflated ego encompassing your theological superiority

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      • “Well, I think that sums it up.”

        Hey, if it can’t be summed up in a few words then perhaps it isn’t worth the concern you thought it had. “The most valuable of all talents is that of never using two words when one will do.” ~Thomas Jefferson

        “Have a nice life”

        How do YOU determine what’s “nice”? Do you use your senses or your reasoning?

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      • Well, thank you for that, though it doesn’t solve anything and reveals even less.

        You have quoted scripture! For goodness sake, I am an atheist and you chirp up scripture? And Genesis to boot! Are you shitting me?
        I would consider that an insult if it didn’t make me smile.
        Maybe I should reply with a quote from The Hymn of Akhenaten. You know the one, right? The bible compilers shameless ripped it off?
        Now, I am being deadly serious, I’ll give you another chance to demonstrate the evidence of your god.

        Don’t blow it and do not quote one shred of scripture.

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      • The problem is that you’ve given up knowledge, so how can you justify any of the claims you just made?
        You have yet to answer for how you can even interpret evidence, but you’re demanding me to give you some.
        That’s nonsensical.
        And yes, I quote scripture, because through God and His revelation, I can make sense of the world. My worldview is internally consistent. Yours is not.

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      • If knowledge is meaningless, how can you know the bible is real?
        You cannot have it both ways: suggesting EVERYTHING about my material world is non-existent/not real and then claim your world is real! This is the height of hypocrisy.
        We exist in THIS world, whatever that is , where we use what we have or we don’t. And I’ll be damned if I’ll allow you to get away with some sort of metaphysical rubbish. Aristotle peed on those cornflakes already.
        So, ONCE again . demonstrate evidence of your god.
        And no scripture.

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      • Why would I not use scripture to justify my worldview? There is no neutral ground here. That’s like “proving” atheism without using any science…

        I can have a consistent standard of truth, knowledge, reason, and morality because I depend on God for those things, rather than nothing.
        Without God, you have nothing to ground those concepts on apart from circular, illogical arguments.

        You ask how I can know the Bible is real and true; it is because God provides me the way to know, namely, through being his creation and his innate and scriptural revelation. That may not satisfy you, but it is certainly better than not having any justification, which is the condition of the atheistic worldview.

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      • You see, if all fails resort to polemic.
        This effusive diatribe is the reason teaching children about Yashu’a and all forms of god belief should be considered Child Abuse.
        You have stated my worldview is based on materialism and yet you cannot see that the bible is a material object, conceived in a material environment.
        You are ridiculous, and not worth spending any more time on.
        I would use expletives but you are beyond them…

        Silly person.

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      • Of course the Bible is a material thing. What an erroneous statement.
        I never said anything but. But that fact is, on your worldview, you have absolutely no grounds to object to it without first assuming the God it describes.

        Of your own admission, you could be wrong about everything you claim to know, then you move on to make the knowledge claim that I am ridiculous. You’ve made plenty of knowledge claims after stating that you can’t even justify them! How does that make me ridiculous?

        Here’s the other thing I don’t understand, and I see this all the time (thank you Dawkins): that somehow religion is child abuse.
        All I’ve asked you to do is justify your thinking. To critically think and try and find some grounds for your worldview. You have failed to do so, and thus you resort to attacks like “religion is child abuse”.
        First of all, that is a HUGE logical jump you’ve made.
        Second, you could be wrong about that….
        Third, on your worldview, how can abuse be wrong? How can anything be wrong?

        See, that’s the problem. Your worldview cannot allow for knowledge, it cannot allow for logic, it cannot allow for morality, yet you criticize me using all three.

        It is beyond me how people can think that such a self-collapsing system of thought like atheism can be rationally intelligible.
        But hey, at least my worldview can account for why that is: All people suppress the truth of the God they know exists because their own sin blinds them.

        I urge you, and everyone else here: Repent.
        I’m not being some crazed fire and brimestone preacher about how the end is near. I’m saying that your worldview is bankrupt, and in order to critique mine, you first need to borrow capital from it.
        Christian theism can explain the universe around us. Christian theism can justify knowledge, logic, and morality.
        Without Christian theism, science is based on an erroneous assumption that is taken on blind faith.

        Seriously. Think about it because the way you are talking now doesn’t make any sense.

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      • I defer to my atheist colleagues who have contributed to this post on John’s blog.
        If I quickly peruse every comment on this thread I would have to surmise that based on their replies that : Yes, you are in fact an idiot, and in the spirit of gentlemanly conduct will refrain from adding any sort of expletive adjective t this epithet
        It is a title you should wear proudly and with honour. Your god will reward you in Heaven – or Hell, depending how you finish, right?

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      • I agree. If we respond to every comment on the internet, we soon have no life.

        I bid you a fond farewell, until the next tim you make a knowledge claim you can’t justify.

        Have a nice day, week, year, life. Whatever it may be.

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      • Cheers, and whenever I see someone on the street, smelling of meths and desperately in need of a bar of soap and a shave and confident in the power of the Lawd, Y’all, carrying a cardboard sign displaying the words.
        ”Atheists repent. The end is nigh”, I shall think of you with fondness and a certain amount of hilarity.

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      • See, Theologetics, you’ve done it again. Still confusing ‘certainty’ with ‘knowledge’, you now fail to connect ‘internally consistent’ with ‘circular reasoning’.

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      • I’m not confusing certainty with knowledge.
        If you cannot be certain about anything, then there is no grounding for probable knowledge. In order for something to be probable, it needs to have at least some element of certainty to be compared to. With no certainty in place, no knowledge can follow.
        Something cannot be internally consistent if it is comprised of nothing but circular reasoning leading to a self-referentially incoherent construction.
        That is what atheism does.

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      • Theologetics, you’re doing it again, changing the meaning of the word ‘knowledge’ from what you already have told me is “justified true beliefs” to ‘certainty’ in order to make the claim that Arkenaten can know nothing if there is any measure of uncertainty. What Arkenaten showed you in his explanation was a justification for the kinds of beliefs you raised to become ‘knowledge’.

        I think it’s really quite revealing of you to take this approach, to abuse language necessary for two-way communication and make it more like a whack-a-mole game where you pop up in one hole of meaning only to disappear when challenged and pop up over there in a different hole of meaning.

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      • I don’t think there’s nearly as much language twisting as you imply. Not being able to know anything for certain necessarily entails that such a belief can never be proven true, and could never be justified. Thus, the belief could not be justified, or true, if there is no certainty.

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      • Theologetics, you claim the most outrageous things! Here you are saying “I admire the greatness that science has bestowed upon the human race and I welcome all advancements that are made through science.” This is not true; you admire it only when it’s products fall within your use and its practice doesn’t infringe on your religious beliefs, failing to appreciate that, say, evolution is as much an advancement as, cay, cell phones thanks to the IDENTICAL method! You have to be an intellectual hypocrite to accept one but not the other because there is no middle ground; either the method works or it does not. You can’t have it both ways unless you can show two different methods at work, and in this comparison there is no difference. But you reject evolution not because it isn’t true but because it interferes with your religious beliefs about creationism. This makes it very clear to what extent you ‘admire’ science… but not nearly as much as you admire your own religious beliefs that have yet to produce a single bit of equivalently practical knowledge in any technology, application, or therapy. Ever.

        Bummer.

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      • I have never once stated what science I don’t admire. I have never said that because I don’t find any conflict between science and Christian theism. What you are doing is generalizing what a majority of Christian theists believe and applying them to me, which is fallacious.
        I have never once stated that I reject any science, let alone specifics. Perhaps if you’d like to accuse me of being a hypocrite, you should actually ask me what kind of science I may or may not reject, lest you look like a fool.

        I do not reject science that doesn’t fit in with my religious convictions. Such a statement is nonsensical. I don’t see science as a threat to Christian theism, but a marvelous tool in verifying it.
        The problem here is that you have made unwarranted assumptions about my personal beliefs. Assumptions that you have absolutely no grounds in applying to me personally.

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      • Theologetics, I make the accusation of hypocrisy because you don’t seem to grasp that science is not a product (or a kind) but a method; you either respect the method across the board or you do not. It is admirable because it works to produce knowledge that is the same for everyone everywhere all the time. This is not a different kind of belief.

        And I have never met a christian who didn’t believe in claims incompatible with knowledge produced by science, such as some form of creationism… even if in the distant past. Either you believe that your god is (or, at least, was) a causal agent in this world or you aren’t a christian… not because I say so but because the very definition of being a christian depends on it. So you can pretend to be offended by my accusation that has no direct quotation or you can deal with it straight up and show how it is not hypocritical to accept this bit of science here but not that bit of science there even though both use the identical method. And, to keep it relevant to the original post, tell us how you alone in the christian sect are able to accept evolution as it is understood by biologists (an UNguided process of change over time by the mechanism of NATURAL (and not supernatural) selection.

        Be my guest; I look forward to your explanation!

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      • Here’s the problem. I’m not even sure what you’re asking here. I don’t see a problem with science because it doesn’t threaten my worldview. Period. I don’t see why I need to explain anything beyond that.

        As far as science producing knowledge, that is an example of knowledge, but it’s not the foundation for it. To say that science can explain things is great, but why can it do so? In order to answer that question, you must go outside the atheistic worldview. If the cosmos is as the materialistic view describes, there’s no logical reason to assume uniformity, and thus no logical reason to assume why science should make measurements that will be the same throughout time.

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      • THEO: why should the Christian theist viewpoint be right, or any more right than the Islamic theist viewpoint? Or any of the many myriad other ‘theist’ viewpoints?

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      • As I’ve already said, the plurality of religious views does absolutely nothing to diminish the validity of a theistic worldview.
        The Christian worldview is the only worldview which does not lead to self-referentially incoherent claims, and I am more than happy to debate any rival theist regarding their beliefs. However, I there’s no point to fight against a God that neither of us believes in (assuming you’re an atheist).
        In the debate between Christians and Atheists, we should debate our own worldviews since we don’t think any others are valid between the two of us.

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      • “The Christian worldview is the only worldview which does not lead to self-referentially incoherent claims”… what the hell is that supposed to mean? Now as far as incoherency goes you can’t get anything more disjointed, muddled, disordered or irrational than a god who sacrificed himself, to himself, to save humanity from himself.

        (BTW, the Dog is a Kiwi so his times are a little odd in responding)

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      • If you’re referring to the substitutionary atonement of Jesus Christ, then what you call muddled, disordered and irrational is in fact beautiful, selfless, and merciful.

        We’re back to the same problem as before John. You few the atonement through the lens of your worldview. I view it through mine, but at least on mine I can justify using words like “irrational”

        Not understanding what self-referentially incoherent means is not an argument.

        John, on what standard of truth do you claim that the atonement is muddled and disordered?

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      • I have no interest in debating your Christian rationalization of the supernatural. That conversation will go nowhere and I’ll probably end up using words which might offend you. You’ve shown heart in engaging a few posters so I wouldn’t want to discourage those on-going conversations.

        What I would however be interested in hearing, considering you’re talking about validity and coherence, is how you’d explain Jesus not knowing Moses didn’t exist?

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      • Not about magic, no. The simple fact is this: not a single supernatural event has ever been recorded in human history. Not one. Zip. Zero. Discussing magic makes no sense whatsoever.

        What we can talk about is something real… well, something claimed. Jesus (we’re told) spoke about Moses, indicating he believed Moses lived. We now know Moses never existed and the exodus never happened. It’s complete myth and this has been known for well over a generation. Even Jewish rabbis now admit it. Now, doesn’t this fact invalidate Jesus?

        To save time I wrote a short post on this if you want to look into what I’m saying. Link below.

        https://thesuperstitiousnakedape.wordpress.com/2013/05/22/well-this-is-a-little-embarrassing-isnt-it/

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      • You “know” that Moses lived…
        John, you still haven’t justified your capability to make knowledge claims. I’ve asked you countless times now.
        I’ll discuss this with you if you can (finally) justify your ability to rationally make knowledge claims.

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      • Well, in this instance I personally do not know. I have to trust the overwhelming archeological consensus on the matter, including that of the leading authority on biblical archeology, Israel Finkelstein, the chairman of the Archaeology Department at Tel Aviv University. I believe in the intellectual integrity of these scientists and the peer review process. I then must weigh that evidence against how others have received it, like Christianity Today’s Kevin D. Miller who conceded “The fact is that not one shred of direct archaeological evidence has been found for Abraham, Isaac, or Jacob or the 400-plus years the children of Israel sojourned in Egypt. The same is true for their miraculous exodus from slavery.” Onto this I can add the admissions of Conservative Jewish Rabbis like David Wolpe and the 42 other Rabbis and historians who wrote essays in the Etz Hayim: Torah and Commentary which confirm the findings: Moses never existed.

        Now, I know where you’re trying to head with this line, and I can appreciate it. Nothing can be ever be truly known… Not if we look deep enough. It’s what Zeno and Parmenides played with in their thought exercises. It’s not new, but it’s just a thought exercise. That’s all. The things I have listed above are tangible. They are real. I can cross-examine them. They are evidence based reality.

        So, to the question: As Jesus named Moses in Matthew, and stated eighteen times in John that Abraham existed how do you excuse this clear credibility problem? As I wrote in my post: It doesn’t speak too highly of a god-man’s authority, intelligence, competence, insight and judgment if he couldn’t distinguish the difference between fairytale and history.

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      • I’m confused. Did you just dismiss my whole point as a “thought exercise” or did you try to justify your knowledge claims based on archaeology?

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      • I said we can not know anything, not truly just as Zeno demonstrated in his thought exercises, so we must rely on evidence-based reality… in this case, the overwhelming archaeological consensus.

        So, how do you answer the question….

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      • John, thanks for being intellectually honest. I’ve had a good reception from people on this thread.

        But if we can’t know anything, why bother with evidence? Surely there must be some way that we must be able to ground knowledge if evidence is to leave us with anything more than illusion.
        If we can’t know anything, what point is there in having conversation. If we can’t know anything, none of the objections you have made have any meaning, or answer. If we can’t have knowledge, there is no point in making imperative claims like “We must [fill in the blank]”. Without a justification for knowledge, any pursuit thereof looses all meaning.

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      • As i said, I’m impressed you’ve engaged so many people… so don’t disappoint me now.

        You’re not going to get off so easily. Sorry, but no. No little thought exercises. No word games. No Achilles and the tortoise. The evidence is overwhelming and there isn’t a serious archeologist on the planet who disagrees with these findings. This is as real as it gets so I’d appreciate a straight answer.

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      • Okay, here’s my answer, but bear in mind. You’ve given up knowledge. You’ve stated that we can’t know anything, so if we’re going to analyze this question, we have to move forward under a paradigm that can actually make sense of evidence and employ reason. As you have stated, we can’t know anything, so working with your paradigm won’t work.

        This is hardly a word game; it’s not a thought exercise. It’s simply showing that the presuppositions you work with don’t allow for a justification of knowledge.
        Since my presuppositions allow a consistent paradigm through which to gain access to knowledge, and can thus make an investigation into the evidence that supports our knowledge a meaningful pursuit, we will have to proceed under my worldview.
        Fair enough?

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      • Please don’t play dumb John.
        I stated that in order to give you a coherent answer that will have any meaning whatsoever, we must proceed under my worldview, since through yours we cannot have any justification for knowledge claims.
        As such, I will be able to give you an answer from my worldview, but I need to make sure that you will be okay with that, since if we assume your worldview, knowledge isn’t possible and any answer is irrelevant.

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      • I’m not blabbering John. You seem to say that about me whenever I back you into a corner.
        I’m saying that since by your own admission, your worldview cannot account for knowledge and is thus not a viable paradigm to continue discussion under.
        As such, we must continue under mine if knowledge claim are to have any meaning.
        Our both being human has little to do with it. We have two antithetical worldviews, and yours can no longer contribute to the conversation.
        So, shall we continue assuming the truth of my worldview in order to make sense of your question?

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      • Theologetics, you confidently write I don’t see a problem with science because it doesn’t threaten my worldview. Period.

        Au contraire.

        Consider the science of genetics that has now demonstrated (if the science of genetics actually works to produce knowledge that is identical to everyone everywhere all the time… and, so far, it does) that our oldest female ancestor lived some fifty to seventy thousand years earlier than oldest male ancestor and that the smallest human bottleneck (generally) was in the vicinity of ten thousand individuals (and about 1200 in a specific migration). That means there is definitive evidence in your DNA that belief in a founding couple is factually incorrect.

        If you think this doesn’t raise a rather important problem with the christian claim that requires original sin to be somehow ‘inherited’ by all of us from this so-called ‘founding’ couple that supposedly introduced sin into this world, then I have no clue what you mean if you still want to call yourself a christian. Additionally, when you establish a ‘worldview’ that stands in conflict from the world it supposedly describes, then another name is required.

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      • All that mitochondria Eve shows us is that there was a common ancestry to one point. Yet, even you must admit she had parents. Just because the only current strains of DNA all converge at a single ancestor doesn’t mean that she was the original ancestor.
        As a theist who has no problem with evolution, I think it is rather simple to conclude that Adam and Eve existed prior to ME.

        Question for you: Why is it okay to assume uniformity of nature arbitrarily, thus allowing you to do science, but it is not okay to assume a being which gives order to the cosmos?
        On your worldview, science doesn’t even make sense. You need to borrow from mine to assume order.

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      • Two points: the first is that you are confused about what is meant by genetic ancestry, and why we do not share a founding couple. It’s okay to not understand this well, but don’t fill in the gaps of YOUR knowledge with just-so explanations you attribute to some god. Mitochondrial Eve’s parents did not possess the same mitochondria. And this person’s mate was not our oldest male common ancestor! A very distant offspring of this ‘Eve’ was our oldest male common ancestor’s mate (hence the 50K-70K year difference revealed in YOUR DNA as it is in MINE. Hint… ‘the term ‘common’ is rather important in this understanding).

        The second point is that I realize you’re enamored with your argument about atheists and scientists having to ‘borrow’ from you ‘worldview’, but this is based on an incorrect assertion you cleave to that I’ve already explained: it is NOT okay to assume uniformity of nature arbitrarily and the method of science does not advocate that we do. Again, this shows not just confusion over what science means, but confusion over how it is practiced. It’s okay to be ignorant about this but, again, don;t fill in the gaps of YOUR knowledge with claims about filling god into them. As I’ve explained using the term ‘adduced’, and pointing out its importance to gaining a better understanding, because the world seems to have uniformity, we take this as a working hypothesis. Then we test it to see if it works. And it seems to work very well, which is why I mentioned the model we call ‘classical’ physics. But it turns out that this is not as accurate as we thought, that the consistency we find in the macro world doesn’t hold up at the atomic level. Please note that nowhere in this expansion of our knowledge do we require (or receive) anything ‘borrowed’ from theism. If, by asserting ‘my’ worldview is equivalent to how reality operates independent of beliefs about it, then I am guilty of respecting it’s arbitration of ANY claims put forth from ANY worldview. I don;t think this is a weak epistemology but one that helps me to not fool myself by accepting appearances that agree with my beliefs and assuming (with colossal arrogance, I may add) that I now have cause for certainty!

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      • Theologetics writes, To say that science can explain things is great, but why can it do so? In order to answer that question, you must go outside the atheistic worldview. If the cosmos is as the materialistic view describes, there’s no logical reason to assume uniformity, and thus no logical reason to assume why science should make measurements that will be the same throughout time.

        Why can the method of science explain things? Simple: because it works. Notice that i didn’t have to go ‘outside’ of non belief to point out the obvious.

        You then take a wrong turn in your reasoning (as most theists are trained to do) and enter onto the path of logic, as if this is an equivalent synonym to science. It isn’t. At the risk of alienating any reading audience, logic is an entirely different epistemology than the study of the world to find explanations for what works for everyone everywhere all the time. Yes, logic is an essential part of deductive reasoning in any inquiry but the form it takes is not a substitute equivalent to the method of science. And this is the very point Galileo provided us and gave birth to the scientific age: there is no substitute for finding out how the world works than the world itself. (For this audacity, he was persecuted.) He is the giant upon whose shoulders Newton stood. He is the one who showed in many examples, multiple experiments, how metaphysical reasoning using the form of logic did not reveal how the world worked but mislead us with assumed and asserted ‘natures’, assumed and asserted ‘elements’, assumed and asserted ‘first’ causes, assumed and asserted ‘prime’ movers (all straight from Aristotelian physics). All of these are not supported by the world even though all rigorously follow the form of deductive logic and seem to make sense. The results, as he showed, may be logically sound, but the conclusions are and remain indisputably wrong. You’ve fallen into the same trap.

        The world reveals uniformity of processes over time so we take that on board as a working hypothesis and see if it remains true. (We – meaning every one of us who use the method of science – do not assume uniformity but find out soon enough that sharp corners discovered by our shins remain sharp no matter how often we walk into them. That’s why all of us get pissed if our cell phones or computers or cars that should work suddenly stop working. Our expectations are built on our interactions with the world and it is the world that adjudicates that its processes we come in contact with are continuous.) Well, it turns out to be a workable model (classical physics) until we get to the very small world where it falls apart (but where quantum physics works to the most extraordinary degree of precision). And the science moves on, building ever better models of understandings arbitrated by reality and not logic alone.

        When theists turn to the logic of metaphysics to support materialistic causal claims rather than adduce (please note the term used here) causal efficacy adjudicated by reality, they make the same mistake Aristotle made; logical explanations are only as good as the truth value of the premises used. And to determine the truth value of the premises requires an independent adjudicator, and none is better suited for the task than the very world such metaphysical musings are trying to describe.

        We know that many metaphysical conclusions about the world have been historically wrong. Understanding why they have been wrong is important, and the central reason is because the epistemology is severed from independent arbitration and adjudication. Aristotle deduced a number of teeth for women had to be fewer than men for excellent metaphysical reasons perfect in its logical form. This stood for quite some time until someone dared to arbitrate the claim against the world it described… by counting. Lo and behold! Men and women have the same number of teeth regardless of the metaphysics used to arrive at some other conclusion. The same process is true for all metaphysical claims: they are worthless unless and until we allow reality to arbitrate them and not rely on the correct from of logic alone to mislead us.

        Put away your metaphysics and see if reality supports your theistic claims that describe reality and you’ll then understand why John insist that all knowledge moves in only one direction: away from metaphysics of any kind and towards the epistemology we can trust: the self-correcting method of science when certainty doesn’t live… but we do.

        Welcome to the real world. The view from here is awesome.

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      • Sorry…
        “It works because it works”
        How is that logic valid?
        I could just say “God exists because he exists”
        Both are A therefore A. It’s quesiton-begging.

        So, how do you know that science “works”?

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      • am a bit late to the party, but I will respond all the same.
        Let us for a moment allow your response to be an encouragement, your revised statement of being on the right side is also unfounded. It is based on indoctrination and acceptance of falsehoods such as that their is a god, that this god loves you and died for your sins among others while also claiming that this particular co-authored a book with the help of some goat herders over an extended period of time. Unless I have missed something out of the christian rule book, your claims that it is the right worldview can only be termed as wishful thinking or as my friends call it a delusion.

        The fact that you deny that God’s grace can impact our lives though is a reflection of the sad state of the human race though.

        This statement can be turned on its head and made to read the fact that you grant god praise for all of human endeavors and successes is a rejection and denial of our combined efforts, it is lazy and in bad taste.

        In your response to ark you say

        If you could be wrong about everything you claim to know, then it follows that you can know nothing.

        The conclusion doesn’t follow from the premise. You can’t arrive at the conclusions by following the premise in your question. In fact, by accepting the possibility that he could be wrong doesn’t mean that he is in fact wrong. On the other hand, your claim about christianity reeks of arrogance and an unquestioned dogmatism.

        That’s the problem with the atheistic presupposition, there is no avenue to certainty.

        You confound things here. The atheist only makes a single claim. The claim is he lacks a belief in gods, that is all. Knowledge claims belong to a different arena all together. And on the question of certainty is one that was raised by one of the leading skeptics, Hume, and I don’t think he was an atheist. So whether a person can know something for certain requires skepticism and as a dogmatist, I don’t think you will like that.

        On a materialistic worldview, knowledge doesn’t even make sense in a universe of matter in motion and nothing more. Truth doesn’t make sense, morals are impossible. Yet this is not the way we live. Therefore, there must be an explanation beyond the atheistic worldview that is needed.

        How so? I will attempt to respond to each claim in this statement. Why wouldn’t knowledge make sense in a universe of matter in motion which is actually how things are? Why do you find this insufficient?
        Truth, what truth?
        Morals are impossible is a bold claim. The response here is two-fold. One morals don’t come from your god and they are not impossible since they are human constructs. In an atheistic universe, the only thing that changes in the discussion of morals is one the world is n o longer divided in terms of good and bad. The world just is.

        In order not to make this response any longer, I will conclude by saying in your discussions with Ark, you have refused to respond to his questions or demands that you provide evidence because in response to one of your questions he admitted he could be wrong and not that he was wrong. So I think it’s only fair you back up your claims with evidence or drop from that high road you have chosen to follow claiming that the christian worldview must be the right one!

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  2. Since you didn’t link to the article, I’ll give my piece as stated before so your readers can at least understand my rebuttal.

    1. A movement from belief A (Religion) to Belief B (Atheism), does not establish the truth of B, but rather establishes a movement.

    2. Since before the greater appearance of atheism (roughly post-enlightenment, while some did exist in the ancient world) everything was explained by religious reasons. Then philosophy and science allowed for some naturalistic explanations to occur instead (plants are green from chlorophyll, etc). As such, ALL naturalistic definition necessarily replace supernaturalistic ones, however it does not follow at all that all supernatural explanations will be or even can be replaced by naturalistic ones.

    3. The common rebuttal to point #2 is that assuming supernaturalistic causes won’t all be replaced is “god-of-the-gaps”, and indeed, this is true, but so is positing that down the road naturalism will win the day. It’s the same exact fallacy, but it is one that everyone makes. The debate isn’t that each of us fills the gaps, it’s how we do it. My presuppositions are grounded in God and His revelation, the atheist’s presupposition is grounded in naturalism and the denial that any supernatural being exists.

    4.Citing statistics is irrelevant. The greater the amount of people believe in a proposition does not make that proposition more true. If that is the claim, then truth is by consensus, and if we all believed the moon was made of green cheese, then it would be so, but this is absurd. As such, if everyone believes in something, they can all still be wrong.

    5. The shift away from religious belief to naturalism, while on your presupposition means that your beliefs are being verified, it does the same for me. As a Christian theist, I believe that God’s word has already predicted apostasy. The evidence you have provided, seen through your presuppositions verifies your belief, and through my presuppositions, verifies mine.

    6. As such, we should move away from a vast discussion of evidence that we will both see in our own favor, as that will get us nowhere (as it did in the past on Prayson’s blog). Rather, we should discuss the validity of our presuppositions, which is why I ask you these questions repeatedly (questions you have not answered yet)

    -How, on an atheistic worldview, can you justify your knowledge claims?
    -How, on an atheistic worldview, can you know that your senses are valid?
    -How, on an atheistic worldview, can you know that your reasoning is valid?
    -How, on an atheistic worldview, can you make any moral claims beyond subjectivity?

    Your response in the past has simply been to dismiss my questions as “philosophical” as if that somehow invalidates them. I would be interested to hear your answers, as well as the answers of your other subscribers.

    What I’ve done is try to show that your main point in response to my statement is irrelevant. A movement from A to B does not imply anything about the truth value of A or B, but instead identifies that A or B is more popular, and that is all. Also, a movement from A to B does not show that all elements of A are false, nor that all elements of B are true. All you have shown is that movement implies movement, which is an irrelevant statement.

    As far as my original comment goes, it was not an argument, it was an encouragement to a fellow theist, and as such, you shouldn’t take it as an argument.

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      • It was an encouragement to a person, not his belief.
        If you think that we shouldn’t encourage people, that’s a twisted belief.

        If you want to challenge anything that has to do with theism, that’s fine, I just hope you are open and willing to do the same thing to atheism. Any other mindset makes you a close-minded hypocrite on par with Westboro.

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      • That’s the thing. I don’t think it is a lie. I am fully committed to the truth of Christian worldview and falsity of Atheism.
        But as we both know the God debate is a much deeper topic.
        I’m not going to give every reason why I believe that Christian theism is true prior to offering any encouragement to a fellow Christian. I simply don’t have the time to do so.
        Since we both had the same convictions, such a statement wasn’t necessary, and since I made the statement to a fellow theist, I didn’t think it was in need of being justified.

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      • Sorry, not in need of being justified was bad terminology. I think you understand my point though. No need to argue for something that both parties agree on. Justification is a side issue.

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    • I didn’t link it because the statement was just what I was focusing on. And just so you know, I’m not attacking you personally, rather your mindset. I have no idea if you’re a good person or a bad person. I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt… although your positions are fair game. To your points:

      1. True… Just as the sun coming up every day this week is a movement.
      2. Granted, the final tally isn’t in, but it’s certainly not looking good for the supernatural whose scorecard remains at zero.
      3. Wrong. Atheists simply do not believe in the gods. There’s nothing more complicated to it.
      4. True. Showing the numbers was however only to demonstrate the unmistakable movement to reason as evidenced inside the scientific community.
      5. You’re entitled to interpret the bible anyway you chose.
      6. No. We should not move away from evidence. If the evidence is uncomfortable for you then that’s your problem, not mine.

      Now, your questions don’t fit as atheism is simply the non-belief in the gods based on the absence of evidence. You can call it a worldview all you like but that doesn’t change the reality of what “a-theism” is. There is no philosophy that goes with it. In other words, I don’t have to defend a-theism as a-theism makes no claims. The burden of proof rests solely on the individual making the positive claim, which in this case is the theist.

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      • I have no problem with people stating that atheism is a lack of belief rather than a positive belief, but that certainly doesn’t mean it isn’t a worldview.
        That lack of belief comes with it many other claims, such as materialism, which is a position that makes positive claims.
        Also, atheism is easily a worldview as it influences the way you view the world. It is coupled with many other positions that do the same.
        If you wish to claim that atheism is simply the lack of belief, then it follows that no “ought” or even “is” claims can come from it.
        As I’m sure we can all agree, our lack of belief in unicorns has no affect on what we feel “is” the case in the universe, or what we “ought” to do to one another. The problem is that atheism isn’t the same way. While the position itself may be a lack of belief, what atheism entails is not always other positions that are lacks of beliefs (i.e. materialism is not a lack of belief, but a positive claim subject to debate).

        And thanks for giving me the benefit of the doubt on being a good person. Theologically speaking (depravity, yadda yadda) aside, I’m sure we’re both moral individuals who seem to have the same passion for debating and discussion. How we get to that passion is just very different.
        But I don’t think our differences are so great that we couldn’t grab a beer sometime, provided we didn’t live halfway around the world from one another.

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      • “I have no problem with people stating that atheism is a lack of belief rather than a positive belief, but that certainly doesn’t mean it isn’t a worldview.”

        Actually it does Theo. I think you are performing some semantical tap dancing here making this claim. If I have a lack of belief that added CO2 into the atmosphere by human activity is causing sea level rises as the polar caps and mountain glaciers melt, there is physical evidence and research that I can access that could persuade me to alter that belief. But if I am asked to believe man-made global warming is real based on things unseen then I would do so on the faith of what some climate scientist told me was true. Unlike religious faith however, if I wanted to challenge what I was told about the climate science, I would have physical evidence to persuade me, not someone’s personal account based on a set of scriptures that date back to a time when humans thought the earth was flat and that the sun revolved around the earth.

        There’s no world view in dealing with physical realities sans an invisible god. I would have to raised to believe in the unseen things you hold as truths before I could discount them and be labeled as an unbeliever. You can’t be an unbeliever if you are unaware and if the only way we can become “aware” is to be sold a bill of goods by someone who has bought into this notion without the physical evidence then how can you call that “unbelief” a world view?

        I hope I haven’t muddled that too much for you.

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    • You were encouraging his belief as much as the person. Please don’t split hairs, it makes you sound petty.

      Challenge to atheism? Absolutely..bring it on as they say in street talk.
      I have no truck with hypocrisy. In this context that would make me like the religious.
      Ask away…the floor is yours.

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    • Theologetics, you continue to make two fundamental mistakes in your reasoning.

      The first is (as I tried to point out earlier) an abuse of language to serve your ends.

      You state “A movement from belief A (Religion) to Belief B (Atheism), does not establish the truth of B, but rather establishes a movement.”

      This is not a ‘movement’ because ther is no shift between like things. Belief has two very different meanings as you well know and you are switching meanings while keeping the words the same to serve your ends and not the ends of stating what’s true. Atheism, as LBWoodgate down-thread points out, is not a similar ‘belief’ to the religious kind but its opposite, it’s negation, its absence. You would not claim a non bicycle is a different kind of bicycle, a non woman a different kind of woman, a non apple a different kind of apple; if you did, you’d have a hard time explaining to the bank how you are really paying the mortgage with your non money and expect to be taken seriously. Obviously, atheism is not a different kind of theism, so your first point about a similar belief is not only logically inconsistent but factually wrong. The sad thing is, I suspect you actually believe it to be true even when such reasoning is held applicable only in the metaphysical defense of believing in your god and nowhere else in real life! This is a clue, too…

      The second fundamental mistake you make is assuming you are not an atheist! Well, Theologetics, you are, and I suspect you will have a hard time aligning your criticism of what you perceive to be properly directed outwards to us nasty and strident atheists back upon yourself when properly directed inwards! Yes, Theologetics, let’s see you answer your questions how your atheism towards all religious claims save your own magically turn you into someone who apparently cannot defend knowledge, sensory data, reasoning, or morality. And all this from not believing in Xochitlicue….

      BTW, early christians in Rome were commonly called atheists for believing in only one god and denying the rest of the divine pantheon. So, hey, welcome to this most maligned club!

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      • 1. A movement from belief A to B wasn’t saying that it goes from Religion to Atheism as much as from religious explanation to naturalistic.
        Belief A: God makes plants green
        Belief B: chlorophyll makes plants green

        While I’ll grant atheism as a lack of belief, I don’t equivocate on belief. Unless you mean to say that when it comes to plants being green you don’t positively believe that chlorophyll is the cause, but instead you simply deny that God does it. That’s a nonsensical statement.
        So I’m not equivocating on belief, and even if we move from belief to lack of belief it doesn’t mean that anything regarding the truth value of the belief being moved away from, so I fail to see how my point doesn’t stand.

        Secondly, the whole “atheist to other religions” is a really popular atheist straw man these days. There’s a number of responses I can make:
        1. I’m not an atheist to other religions, I am a rival theist. I don’t believe that Zeus doesn’t exist in the same way you don’t believe God exists.
        2. For you to accuse me of equivocation on belief above and now equivocate on “atheist” is quite illogical.
        3. Belief in 1 God is fundamentally different from belief in No God. Regardless of what god, or how many gods people believe in, they are still in the theist camp. That means they appeal to the supernatural. Those believing in no god are in the atheist camp. These two are vastly different.
        The only good example I can think of in mathematics is the difference between 1 and 0. While they are only one number off, there is a vast difference between them when you think about what 0 really is.
        The fact is that there is atheism and theism. While many people claim to be theists and worship other gods, it is fundamentally and categorically different than appealing to no god whatsoever.

        Lastly, if you would like to argue against my God by using some other God, that’s fine, but you’d have to consent to the existence of that deity… Good luck..

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      • Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think you don’t believe in all these other gods for exactly the same reason I don’t believe in yours: neither of us has any compelling reasons to alter our non belief to belief.

        You – like the pope and other religious people when in discussion with New Atheists – seem susceptible to wanting to put all theists under the same tent in order to present a false unity that simply isn’t true in practice. Unlike you, when I hear people express their religious beliefs and call for condemnation of those who don’t share them, I tend to believe they are earnest in their belief, and so I find it surprising that fellow believers who condemn each other to apostasy (and all kinds of nasty penalties for doing so) are willing to put aside these incompatible and damning truth claims made amongst themselves in order to pretend they’re of some kind of like minded mutual respect and a united front against us non believers.

        The truth is you don’t believe in all these other religious claims. Neither do I. In the world of tents, all of us – it turns out – are under the same one: the tent of non belief in all these conflicting and incompatible truth claims… except for particular corners where some people allow some exceptions to the rule apply to a select belief that is favourable (which raises the fascinating question why so many believers do not hold the same critical standard they themselves use against those they reject to the religious beliefs they do not reject – a widespread vice of hypocrisy in all areas of life except for religious belief where it magically becomes a virtue under the banner of ‘faith’. Another clue…).

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      • THEO:

        it all boils down not to facts but to belief. Sadly, everyone holding a belief believes that his alone is right.

        To each his own, live and let live; God is in Its heaven and all is well with the world. No?

        Until some would-be world conquering twat wants to impose his sole single unique correct ‘belief’ on everyone else (Islam, anybody? The Holy crusades, anybody?) by force.

        I don’t hear of atheists doing that?

        Facts will not change belief. They cannot. Not possible. For a fact to change a belief the beholder’s mind must be open, not clamped rigidly shut. I raised eyebrows somewhere on one of these blogs by stating to the effect that “yes, my worldview would well be changed if Jesus were to stroll across the lake, present Himself to me, and point out that I am wrong’. Whoosh! Like a shot, I tell you — a man would be an ingrained fool not to, no?

        But I think it will be a long wait … Jesus, Allah, Buddha, Vishnu, YHVH, Charlie or The Great Pumpkin (take your pick, there’s millions of them) … any one of them fronting up and demonstrating divinity to me would (not could, would) do it.

        ‘Tain’t gonna happen in no hurry … until then I’ll stick with the evidence of my senses rather than the greatly disputed words of desert savages a thousand and more years ago (or a few decades if the Mormon are to be believed).

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    • How, on an atheistic worldview, can you justify your knowledge claims?

      Knowledge claims are universal. If something is true, it is indifferent to your beliefs. For example the knowledge claim that the earth goes round the sun has nothing to do with atheism or theism. It just is, and unless you believe the contrary you will have to provide proof.

      How, on an atheistic worldview, can you know that your senses are valid?

      The senses don’t make judgement. Judgement is a reserve of reason. It is possible you will see a mirage on a hot tarmac road in the afternoon and confuse it for a pool of water. Senses relay sensory data, they don’t make judgement on the same. And this remains true for everyone.

      How, on an atheistic worldview, can you know that your reasoning is valid?

      In this case, all I can say is your reasoning is not valid. Not mine. You have believed stories based on years of indoctrination.

      How, on an atheistic worldview, can you make any moral claims beyond subjectivity?

      All moral judgements are subjective. You make them yourself or follow what has been passed on to you. And it is also important to remind you that Plato once and for all showed that the gods have nothing to do with our morals. They exist, if any exists that is, independent of the gods.

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      • How can you get universal knowlege claims in a universe of matter in motion.
        How can a materialistic universe jusify truth? Matter in and of itself has no truth value. And if our consciousness is just a chemical biproduct of brain reactions, then what makes it more than meaningless illusion.

        What is truth in your worldview?

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      • Theo, I don’t have the patience nor the time to engage with you in your dreamland. Your questions suggest there is more than matter, a belief I don’t hold. So unless you show me this other world where there is more than matter, your questions do not even get to start walking. Maybe consciousness means more than brain states in your worldview, if it makes you happy so be it.

        What is truth in an atheistic universe? I asked you a question in my first response to you, what truth? When you say truth, is there a universal truth you have in your mind or are you referring to things held as true?

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  3. ‘ For these five words …’
    Before someone hauls you over the coals for lousy arithmetic, count ’em again. 😉 unless I am reading the wrong sentence. Either way…delete this comment asap. 🙂

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  4. Over at Bob’s spot there are similar folk who seem convinced the internet is going to be the salvation of religion as it will allow these poor ‘backward’ previously oppressed souls from China, India etc will gleefully choose the online KJV and evangelism over a Youtube of The Big Bang Theory or a video of Chris Hitchens.
    Really…lol!

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  5. Hebrews 11:1 tells believers that faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

    But this is nothing more than a religious locution that is in fact an oxymoron. Neither faith, hope or things unseen consist of material substance or would provide sufficient evidence for the critical thinking person. It is simply a play on words that religious believers fall back on when confronted with conflicting realties of the physical world. It presumes that unless we can state specifically how a thing is not what is declared by religious dogma, then it must be substantive and serve as evidence for their beliefs. Paraphrasing Paul Simon then, a person hears what they want to hear, sees what they choose and disregards all the rest.

    Only very young children and mentally deficient adults are susceptible of being drawn into the “faith” of things unseen. Only a fool would continue to hold on to such a faith once confronted with all the contradictions and weaknesses of it’s derived source.

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    • Well said, Larry. The delusion is sanctioned… It’s in the contract!

      I think you also summed up the reasons why i don’t find Deists at all unreasonable. The deist recognises that the evidence for a personal god, the Abrahamic god, is woefully absent (and reason to dismiss such a notion) but they have an honesty in approaching the unknowns without having to also be evangelical. The passivity of their faith is honourable.

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      • I think you have a fixation with goats my Fedora-wearing friend! 🙂
        Thank you for the recommendation by the way. I shall take a look at his too.

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      • Goats? Ahhhh, kidding, kid, young goat… clever! I watched one killed once up in the western Himalaya. I didn’t want to but as i’d never witnessed where meat comes from (really witnessed, you know what i mean) i forced myself to stand there, watching as life ebbed from its body as it bled out. The sight of its eyes glaze over is etched into my memory. A harsh taste of reality.

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      • You’re braver than me Zande. Not sure I could watch that. But I am quite jealous that that you’ve been up that neck of the woods. I would love to visit any part of the Himalayas. I’ve had a hankering for some time now to go and visit Shimla in Northern India, and Tibet. It’s the latent Buddhist in me I think.

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      • RaRa Lake, far northwestern Nepal. 4 day walk north from Jumla, one of the greatest towns on this planet. You won’t regret it… but do take porters with you. We were young and stupid. On about day 3 you get a great sight of Kailash, and that alone should satisfy your inner Buddha.

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      • Sometimes young and stupid makes you do things you wouldn’t otherwise do. Experiences like that are priceless, and stay with you forever. Sounds amazing. I think ‘Q’ would approve! 😉

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  6. This “sides” thing is interesting. When I was Mormon, there were constant references to life and the eternities being a war against evil. Looking back, it’s a little disturbing how violent all the imagary was.

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    • It’s human to divvy up the playing field and wear jerseys, cheering for one side or another, but when people start playing with imaginary sky beings who perform magic it all gets a little weird.

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  7. You make um major mistake, paleface dude … (a) you are presenting from a rational viewpoint. (And (b) for the guy selling this stuff—it’s a reliable buck.)

    And as long as there’s a market for snake-oil, they’ll keep oiling snakes. The name of the franchise is immaterial, and whether they believe that stuff themselves or not … it’s still a buck.

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    • That I know, Dog. What i’d like to see happen is marginalise the Abrahamic religions; those religions that are regressive by their nature. Spiritualism isn’t on the radar here, nor is deism (if someone really wants to believe in some higher external power). Saw a comment recently that summed up the necessity for tackling this problem: “Even if global warming is true, god won’t let man harm His earth.” That type of thinking has to be removed from the playing field if we’re going to survive this human adventure.

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  8. Incredible who you manage to bring politics, economics, psychology and religion together in an argument that actually works…
    …I’m impressed!

    PS.: Taking into account the arguments of the Dog – I am probably too rational 🙂

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  9. Shorter Theologetics: Because you can’t prove anything conclusively therefore magical god FTW!1! Woo! Checkmate atheists!

    Philosophy at one point in time was the venerated process of searching for truth.

    Now, sadly, I most often see philosophy abused by the religiously addled to make labyrinthine, wank-filled ouroboroses of arguments trying to defend the indefensible.

    Get over yourself. You are trying to justify the belief in pixies, ents and sky-daddies by word wishing them into existence. This is not philosophy, this is not improving the human impulse toward greater truth and knowledge, this line of ‘reasoning’ is only a banal homage to the frightened existence our ancestors experienced.

    Slapping down retrograde notions aside, back here in rational land, positive claims require evidence. Provide some, or more likely, continue to try to squeeze some truth out of the apologetic-word-salad and then be all offended when called on your feckless bullcookery.

    The reason why *any* religion exists is because people are susceptible to fear (existential or otherwise). Fear drives the entirely toxic Rube-Goldbergy-esque apparatus of religion; goading people to absurdity in an attempt to quell that fear.

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    • Arb, I do believe i’m going to print this comment out and frame it! Pretty sure you’ve just made the echoes of Kafka, Camus, Conrad, Joyce, Poe, Dostoyevsky, Orwell, Cervantes, and Twain smile 🙂

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      • I guess you didn’t read my comment. One Christian telling another they are on the winning side is not an attack on you. So what do you do? You go into attack mode. What a shame. Perhaps you will read this comment, an excerpt from my blog post, “Are you delusional if you believe in God.”

        I see the denial of God as the true delusion, and this delusion extends to the atheist’s view of humanity as “good,” all evidence to the contrary notwithstanding. A sober assessment of human beings recognizes that we lie, cheat, steal, lust, complain, become embittered and resentful, envy, hate, forget, and are careless, ruthless, disrespectful, and loveless. Not only do we do all these things on a daily and hourly basis, but we do them naturally from our birth. This is what God’s Word means when it says, “There is no one who does good” (Psalm 14:3). This does not mean we never do anything positive, like obeying our parents or giving money to a church or charity. It means that we are so obviously sinful that it is silly to call human beings “good.” Nobody teaches children to lie; they do it naturally. Nobody teaches teenage boys to lust; they do it naturally. Nobody teaches the employee to resent his boss or spread malicious gossip about the coworker with whom he is competing for a promotion; he does these things naturally. Nobody teaches the wife to unjustly criticize and complain about her husband, or the husband to neglect and be condescending to his wife; both do these things naturally. Yet in the sixth chapter of The God Delusion, entitled “The Roots of Morality: Why Are We Good?”, Dawkins explains why human beings are good -based on nothing more than his own opinion – despite the fact that there is no God who defines what is good. Again, Dawkins not only directly opposes the Bible’s teaching but he denies what is obvious to even the most casual observer of human nature and behavior.

        Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary defines “delusion” as follows: “Something that is falsely or delusively believed or propagated; a persistent false psychotic belief regarding the self or persons or objects outside the self that is maintained despite indisputable evidence to the contrary; also, the abnormal state marked by such beliefs.” The last clause is significant: intellectual and moral delusion have permanent effects on the mind and heart. Believing lies causes the mind to begin to operate abnormally and to exist in a state that is not healthy and perhaps even dangerous, both for itself and for others. This is what the Bible calls “sin,” and a core element of our sin is our delusion that God does not exist.

        It should be stated clearly here, given how often atheism presents and promotes itself under the banner of science, that science is not to blame for atheism or any other symptom of human sinfulness. In fact, many great scientists of the past were Christians, believing Jesus Christ to be the representative of God on earth, the same God who made the heavens and the earth and established the laws by which the natural world operates and which scientists investigate. Most of the “giants” of modern science and most founders of hospitals, orphanages, soup kitchens, and every other kind of charity that has humanized and softened a world made inhumane and hard by human sinfulness, were Christians. They pursued rational understanding of the cosmos because they believed God, who has a mind, had created the cosmos according to the principles of rational and mathematical operation that govern the human mind, which is designed in the image of God’s mind.

        Belief in God is thus no delusion. It is inherently and fundamentally rational. It is the source of true wisdom regarding why human beings do evil things so often and so naturally, why we can work so hard to be good and still fail, and why Jesus Christ and only Jesus Christ is the spiritual hope for mankind. It also explains why people who believe in Jesus Christ have done so much not only to remedy the effects in this world of human sin, but to scientifically understand this world and to organize and publish the principles of science.

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      • “Believing lies causes the mind to begin to operate abnormally and to exist in a state that is not healthy and perhaps even dangerous, both for itself and for others.”

        Precisely… as evidenced in you citing the pseudoscience dished out by the utterly ridiculous AIG and Discovery Institute. You simply REFUSE to look at the science, opting instead to delude yourself with warm fuzzy bullshit produced by people who are the laughing stock of the scientific world just so you can cling to some religiously inspired creationist myth.

        That, Roy, is delusion.

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      • “One Christian telling another they are on the winning side is not an attack on you.”

        Maybe not but let’s be clear. Christians don’t live in a vacuum. And if there is an implied “winner” that must mean there are “losers”. In a competition where there are winners and losers there are often episodes where some will attack the other as their zealous emotions are stirred by comments one side makes against the other.

        Nothing is more dangerous than a cornered animal and when fundamentalist religionists see more and more people drifting from their ranks and more people like John and others challenging the dogma that the Church used to suppress large numbers of people for centuries, there will be those who will attack their perceived enemies as a last line of defense.

        You and Theo are smart fellows who have invested a lot of time in the theocratic culture that has developed over the centuries. You have mastered the semantics of the apologists and the institutional argot that has drowned out all opposition for nearly 1500 years. But once science began to chip away at your fantasy and your god failed to be there for you consistently, knowing how to use words that really mean very little to the general public, really serve no one than those who have sustained a mindset that reflects those whose ancient cultures contrived their faith in the first place.

        Attempting to prove the existence of a supernatural deity with little more than suggesting that “evil” acts are the results of a people’s diminished faith may frighten little children and some adults whose critical thinking skills never developed. But you’re going to have to come up with some tangible, physical realities if you expect to keep them under your influence.

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      • Roy, when I read your comments and claims, I ask myself, “How does he know this, and how does he know if it’s true?”

        The answers I keep finding are, “He believes it is so because he believes it is so.”

        I know that my ardent beliefs do not define reality (or my Rams would be perennial Superbowl champs). How is it that you believe yours do? Well, again, the answer I keep getting from your comments is because you seem to believe that your interpretation of your theological sources (and accompanying beliefs) provides you the authority to believe as you do. Nowhere does an independent review by reality seem to be on your radar. For example, your belief in the ‘fallen nature’ of people is contrary to very compelling contrary evidence from reality. But this is waved away by you not because it isn’t true but because it doesn’t comport with your beliefs and so it doesn’t seem worthy of serious consideration. Again, the underlying assumption seems to be that reality is defined by your beliefs. Are you unaware that this is exactly the necessary condition to fool yourself? Con artists make a very good living from those who accept the validity of this base assumption. This is clue…

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      • Hi Larry,

        First it’s nice to go to someones About Page and find their name. I have an Uncle named Larry, and there is Melvin, Charles, Harry Jr, and my, dad, Leroy Sr. These men were tough. They all have successful business and the ones who have passed on all left their loved ones very well off. They grew up in the days of out-houses and were self-made men. Sorry, when I see your name I remember Uncle Larry and I miss him.

        I guess you didn’t read my first comment either about what is meant when one Christian tells another they are on the winning side.

        You state, “Nothing is more dangerous than a cornered animal and when fundamentalist religionists see more and more people drifting from their ranks and more people like John and others challenging the dogma that the Church used to suppress large numbers of people for centuries, there will be those who will attack their perceived enemies as a last line of defense.”

        Is that what you perceive me to be? A cornered animal? I can’t see what you guys are doing on this blog as being an effective means in converting believers to non-believers. Most people shy away from hate speech, name calling, insults and intolerance.

        Does the past define you? Does the crimes of men in the past automatically make God a myth? Have I attacked you, and your non-belief, in a personal way like you have me? No.

        You also state, “Attempting to prove the existence of a supernatural deity with little more than suggesting that “evil” acts are the results of a people’s diminished faith may frighten little children and some adults whose critical thinking skills never developed. But you’re going to have to come up with some tangible, physical realities if you expect to keep them under your influence.”

        Your a bit twisted Larry for I am not attempting to prove God to you. NOTHING I can say will make you believe. Belief in the Creator comes from within. You have heard the Word and you have chosen to reject it. Scripture informs us that grief, desires, joy, understanding, thoughts and reasoning, and most importantly, faith and belief are all products of the heart. Also, Jesus tells us that the heart is a repository for good and evil and that what comes out of our mouth – good or bad – begins in the heart. The Bible considers the heart to be the hub of human personality, producing the things we would ordinarily ascribe to the “mind.”

        Hearts can also become hardened when we suffer setbacks and disappointments in life. No one is immune to trials here on earth. Yet, just as steel is forged by a blacksmith’s hammer, so too can our faith be strengthened by the trials we encounter in the valleys of life. As Paul encouraged the Romans: “but we also rejoice in our sufferings because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us”

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      • “Is that what you perceive me to be? A cornered animal?”

        I’m afraid so Roy

        ‘I can’t see what you guys are doing on this blog as being an effective means in converting believers to non-believers.”

        That’s the thing. We’re not the ones trying to impress people with an invisible God. We don’t have to live up to contrived hype. You do and as you slowly fail to match your words with the reality, others will too.

        “Most people shy away from hate speech, name calling, insults and intolerance.”

        Is that what you you think is going on here?

        “Does the past define you?”

        Only if I allow it too

        ” Does the crimes of men in the past automatically make God a myth?”

        No more than anything in the past makes him real.

        “Have I attacked you, and your non-belief, in a personal way like you have me? No.”

        I got personal with you? You might be reading more into my words than I intended

        “NOTHING I can say will make you believe. Belief in the Creator comes from within. You have heard the Word and you have chosen to reject it.”

        I have in deed Roy. I am not that scared child anymore. I have gown of age and gotten past the dogma that men have created to support ancient notions that wither in the face of science, for the most part at least. I am not afraid to think outside the box. Thinking that because we don’t have all the answers for the universe is not reason enough to fall back on the ancient mysticisms that many accepted naively to explain why things go bump in the night.

        “Scripture informs us that grief, desires, joy, understanding, thoughts and reasoning, and most importantly, faith and belief are all products of the heart. Also, Jesus tells us that the heart is a repository for good and evil and that what comes out of our mouth – good or bad – begins in the heart. The Bible considers the heart to be the hub of human personality, producing the things we would ordinarily ascribe to the “mind.”

        The Bible does indeed have some wisdom in its words but then I think a lot of what is written is similar to the wisdom of other cultures. Solomon was right when he said there is nothing new under the sun. It’s all been done and said before but will wound up in a new wrapper at a later time to make yet another generation of hapless people believe in things unseen and unproved.

        “Hearts can also become hardened when we suffer setbacks and disappointments in life. No one is immune to trials here on earth. Yet, just as steel is forged by a blacksmith’s hammer, so too can our faith be strengthened by the trials we encounter in the valleys of life.”

        Your engaging in romantic language Roy, not verifiable realities. The heart is not the center of emotion. It’s a pump. Emotions are something that comes from our neurological makeup that filters in events of a certain space time continuum. That’s why things never really remain the same. The social dynamics of human evolution changes the rules as time goes on. Some slower than others but change they do. The church today had to change from what it was hundreds of years ago to meet the social changes that were occurring. Heretics are no longer burned and women are not the property of their husbands and fathers.

        “As Paul encouraged the Romans: “but we also rejoice in our sufferings because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us””

        Paul was a hell of a PR man and in the short run his life and his letters inspired many to free themselves from the bondage of oppressive rulers of that era. But once Christians gained political power and wealth, they became the oppressors and this change came full stride during the crusades and the Inquisition

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      • Hello Tildeb,

        I thought it only respectful to reply to your comment.

        You asked yourself, “How does he know this, and how does he know if it’s true?” and the answers you keep finding are, “He believes it is so because he believes it is so.”

        This is partially true but I would say I believe it is so because I have witnessed God intervene in my life and the lives of others. Countless stories could be cited of diseases cured, addictions removed, tragic accidents avoided, exams passed, repentance and forgiveness granted, relationships restored, hungry children fed, bills paid and lives and souls saved through the efficacy of prayer and God placing others in our lives to give us what it is we need. Most of the evidence is anecdotal and personal, however, and that bothers many who think of “evidence” only as that which is observable, measurable, and reproducible.

        You also speak of reality and authority. Reality is the state of things as they actually exist, rather than as they may appear or might be imagined. In a wider definition, reality includes everything that is and has been, whether or not it is observable or comprehensible. A still more broad definition includes everything that has existed, exists, or will exist.

        Reality comes in levels or layers. There is always another level. There are two sides to everything in existence. Nothing can exist without its antithesis to balance it. Everything is made of energy. The two fundamental energies are outward moving and inward drawing. As above, so below. As within, so without. Reality is relative and finite. Truth is universal and eternal. Reality is a truth, with a small “t”. Truth, with a capital “T”, is independent of any reality, it includes all realities. Reality is a subjective experience and can be explained. The Truth is obvious, needs no explanation and can not be captured with words.

        Authority in Christian religion involves a certain attitude of thought and will toward God and the Universe. The feeling element is also present, but that is ignored in theories of external authority. All religion then involves certain ideas or beliefs about God, and conduct corresponding to them, but ideas may be true or false, and conduct right or wrong. Men need to know what is true, that they may do that which is right. They need some test or standard or court of appeal which distinguishes and enforces the truth; forbids the wrong and commands the right. As in all government there is a legislative and an executive function, the one issuing out of the other, so in every kind of religious authority recognized as such, men require that it should tell them what the moral standard is as given by the Creator of authority. When asked of the greatest commandment Jesus answered by saying, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and most important commandment. The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commandments”

        In this general sense authority is recognized in every realm of life, even beyond that which is usually called religious life. Science builds up its system in conformity with natural phenomena. Art has its ideals of beauty. Politics seeks to realize some idea of the state. Metaphysics reconstructs the universe in conformity with some principle of truth or reality.

        You say that my reality is defined by my beliefs. I would say that my reality is defined by my experience.

        Take care Tildeb.

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      • You’re quite the poet, Ron, and I mean that in all honesty and due respect. I like the way you paint with words. And be assured, I don’t doubt your sincerity or the sincerity with which you maintain your beliefs. I am aware, however, of how they can shortchange both your desire and ability to learn new information and change your mind when changing conditions warrant it.

        Regarding what evidence informs your faith-based beliefs, you write “Most of the evidence is anecdotal and personal, however, and that bothers many who think of “evidence” only as that which is observable, measurable, and reproducible.” It’s not a question of being disturbed by such evidence; it’s a question of how trustworthy that evidence is. And it is exactly here where your faith-based beliefs shortchange both your desire and ability to evaluate their veracity. Without this ability to understand why anecdotal and personal revelation are – each and together – the very poorest method to use in support of some position, it is difficult to explore better ways without feelign defensive. But even more importantly, it may be impossible to get you to appreciate the need for skepticism of faith-based beliefs built on this most unstable of evidential grounds.

        Be all of this as it may, my activism as a New Atheist is directed not specifically against such beliefs themselves (although I think the world would be much more concerned about human suffering and how to alleviate it by promoting well being in objective ways than it currently is) but against extending such beliefs to cause effect in the public domain. You have every right to believe what you want and for whatever reasons you care to find compelling; you do not have the right to extend them into causing effect in the lives of others without their permission (in spite of your earnest belief to the contrary). Because your beliefs include extending them past any and all reasonable boundaries that seek to curtail them to the private domain and be confined by the boundaries of your personal life (including the right to stating your personal opinions and beliefs in public forums, let me be absolutely clear)), we shall always be at loggerheads until you change your mind and accept what you deem to be unreasonable limitations and restrictions but what I can demonstrate to be fair and reasonable and respectful reciprocity. This is the task before us.

        In the meantime, I’m sure we can have a reasonable discourse even if your beliefs emphasize what is factually incorrect or in my zeal I overstep what is demonstrably true and make claims for which I have no compelling evidence. In other words, I expect to be held to the same standard as I hold for you. I hope you will tolerate my desire to correct what I see as misrepresentations and misunderstandings in such matters you may present in the hope that readers of such exchanges will come to see both sides of this ongoing debate in order to make their opinions better informed.

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      • You make your point very eloquently Tildeb.

        I acknowledge your respect and intelligence.

        I love to learn new information and I will change my mind when changing conditions warrant it, in all areas of what we think is reality. But no one has proven God does not exist, no one can, and I have my own proof He does.

        The “anecdotal evidence is invalid” argument is perhaps the one most often used by skeptics, and also the core philosophical difference between believers and skeptics. In fact, this issue is often the impasse point that the debates between believers and skeptics reach. The term “anecdote” technically refers to an unpublished story or personal testimony. But in this case, it refers to any eyewitness account or claim of a supernatural nature without hard evidence to corroborate it.

        “Pure logical thinking cannot yield us any knowledge of the empirical world. All knowledge of reality starts from experience and ends in it.” – Albert Einstein

        Testimonials and anecdotes are used to support claims in many fields, including medical science. Giving due consideration to such testimonials is considered wise, not foolish.

        The nature of life goes beyond chemistry and physics. Life exists because of something that doesn’t exist in anything inanimate: the struggle to survive and reproduce. Life has volition, and that makes it complex beyond the ability of any science experiment.

        Anecdotal evidence combined with logic is how most knowledge was developed throughout most of humanity’s existence. How best to grow food was generally figured out by seeing what worked, exchanging information, and using logic. We know there are seasons because of observations. No studies needed to be done to discover that.

        We learned that certain herbs had beneficial effects by trying them and passing on the information of what resulted: pure anecdotal evidence. But that’s how we know, for example, that milk thistle is good for the liver and hawthorn is good for the heart. No studies needed to be done. We learned through experience and anecdote.

        Now, though, anecdotal evidence is deemed inadequate. It isn’t suggested that the methods of science can add to our knowledge. Instead, we’re told that the only acceptable means for learning is science, in spite of its obvious limitations when applied to individual people and their testimonies.

        I thank God I happen to live in the USA where I can live and practice my faith with no fear of persecution and I pray it shall always be a Christian Nation that continues to have tolerance for all peaceful religions.

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      • Roy, I didn’t say anecdotal evidence is invalid; I said it was the very poorest and most unstable evidential grounds you can have, and that if one doesn’t understand why this is so, one will have great difficulty understanding why there is a greater – not lesser – need for skepticism of claims built on it.

        Indeed, you seem to prove my point here when you carry on and equate ‘anecdotal evidence’ to be a synonym for ‘experience’ and use the Einstein quote (“Pure logical thinking cannot yield us any knowledge of the empirical world. All knowledge of reality starts from experience and ends in it.”) to make it appear that such a big-brained fellow agrees that your anecdotal evidence is actually the foundation for knowledge. He asserts no such thing. What Einstein was actually referring to was the need for empiricism to inform any knowledge claim as well as the rational, which is why he predicates the statement with a very bold assertion that stands in direct conflict with theological apologetic arguments: “Pure logical thinking cannot yield us any knowledge of the empirical world.” Think of all the arguments put forth by W.L.Craig, for example, and then understand Einstein’s point: without empirical backing the premises, the logical conclusions are without knowledge.

        Personal anecdotes without supporting empiricism for the claims made based on them are equally without knowledge. This is the point I am raising and the one that reduces your claim that your anecdotal evidence is knowledge accordingly. In other words, your knowledge claims based on your anecdotal evidence, your personal experiences and revelation, require empirical backing to gain this status you seek to be considered knowledge. And this is where too many theists simply wave away the empirical requirement and begin substituting all kinds of numinous terms and arguments based solely on logical form. But this is insufficient, as Einstein explains, to link claims of knowledge about the world with the world they are attempting to describe…. not because of some anti-theist bent by those who point out this linking requirement but because without the required empirical backing the claim of ‘knowledge’ is untethered to the world. And untethered claims of knowledge deserve our utmost skepticism… mine, as well as yours, included.

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    • Love it !
      “The reason why *any* religion exists is because people are susceptible to fear (existential or otherwise). Fear drives the entirely toxic Rube-Goldbergy-esque apparatus of religion; goading people to absurdity in an attempt to quell that fear.”
      I agree with this totally. It was 47 years soaked in religion before I finally had a bit of a think and realised I had been deluded. Fear is a huge reason for religion. It’s like an insurance policy…just in case.

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  10. At the risk of repeating the same ideas and arguments over and over I had decided the tediousness of it was enough and I said my goodbye to your blog several months ago, but since I was mentioned in the post I thought it only right to offer a comment.

    First I’m referred to as, “a strikingly odd man.” This definition tells a lot about your prejudice. I’m not referred to as “different” but “odd” and not only odd, but strikingly so. What separates you and I is our worldview and tolerance for the diversity of life, that all men are given the inalienable right to pursue their happiness and create a life for themselves that lift themselves, their family, and other people up, whatever their beliefs happen to be.

    Theologetics tells me, “I want to encourage you for having the heart and the mind you do. Keep fighting the fight. You’re on the winning side.” And this bold statement made your mind do peculiar somersaults?

    This statement from Theologetics to me is an expression of his love. I believe that If we speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, we are only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If we have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if we have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, we are nothing. If we give all we possess to the poor and give over our bodies to hardship that we may boast, but do not have love, we gain nothing. I believe love is patient, and love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

    As far as being on the winning side, it is not about us and you and who is the winner or loser, or who is right or wrong. It is Theologics love again shinning through for whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the winning victory that has overcome the world–our faith. It isn’t about you John. It isn’t about we are the winners and you are the loser. It is about us, the ones who believe in the winning victory that we have over sin.

    Being on the “winning side” is an expression like telling another Christian you are Gods “standard-bearer.” Being a standard-bearer is a burden, but it’s a burden that we carry: We are standard-bearers for Christ. Christians who fail to follow God’s commandments or fail to show Christ’s love leave themselves open to charges of hypocrisy and run the risk of giving people a distorted view of the Christian faith.

    Of course, Jesus never claimed that following him would be easy. He instructs his followers to “take up their cross.” But if we’re going to be Christ’s standard-bearers, we must recognize that others are watching us, not just to see if we make mistakes but to see if we will lead by our example, as people who walk the walk and not just talk the talk.

    Equally important, we must acknowledge our human imperfections and understand that, as flawed people, we have no right to judge our flawed brothers and sisters, who are equally loved by the God who created all of us. We are called to uphold a higher standard – to be like Jesus. And we must strive to be faithful to this responsibility, setting an example by offering forgiveness, showing mercy, putting others first through service, and practicing unconditional love.

    If my love for you John warrants the label of a strikingly odd man then I’ll embrace that description.

    ***

    On a side note I hope you are safe. If I remember correctly you do live in Brazil, right?

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    • Thanks for the thought, its appreciated. I’m in a very small city. The action is mostly going on in SP and Rio and I hope it rolls on, albeit peacefully. It’s good to see Brazilians finally get their asses in gear. Politicians here are an ugly breed onto themselves and this reckoning is well overdue.

      Now, Roy, one earns the title of “strikingly odd”… and you have earned it, plus some. I didn’t call you crazy, because I don’t think you are. I do, however, see you as living in a fantasy world and have constructed an elaborate justification mechanism all around it… its walls so thick you can no-longer distinguish between fabrication and reality. Now, the encouragement Theo offered was patently bizarre as it flies in the face of all the evidence. Hence this post. It was, in all regards, delusional… and delusion is a hallmark of fundamentalists, like yourself.

      “What separates you and I is our worldview and tolerance for the diversity of life, that all men are given the inalienable right to pursue their happiness and create a life for themselves that lift themselves, their family, and other people up, whatever their beliefs happen to be.”

      Boy how I wish you Christians would actually practice what you preached! As I stated back on Prayson’s blog, Gandhi said it best: “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”

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  11. Pingback: Oh, my god! | A Tale Unfolds

  12. I’m not even sure why anyone would feel flustered anymore by those who choose to remain living in the darkness of their self-perpetuated ignorance, particularly given that their numbers appear to be shrinking substantially.

    As for politics – take a look at Australia’s – where the one calling itself ‘Prime Minister’ is there illegally, was charged with treason in 2010, and has prevented justice being done, together with the only one with the power to boot it’s arse out – and yet it continues as though no crime has been committed. It this was an African country, the world would be screaming for justice. There’s insanity for you.

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  13. Reblogged this on paarsurrey and commented:
    Paarsurrey says:
    I clicked the word ” Theologetics ” in your post and the word press showed a dialogue:

    “theologetics.wordpress.com is no longer available.
    The authors have deleted this site.”
    Would you kindly mention some article from that site which was in your mind when you wrote this write-up?
    Thanks

    Like

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