The Dawkins Rants

The Dawkins Rants

For those who demand proof of how emotive, irrational, prejudiced and hate filled the New Atheist Fundamentalism is, I offer the following as exhibit A. Richard Dawkins tweeted the following this morning:

How dare you force your dopey unsubstantiated superstitions on innocent children too young to resist? How DARE you?

To which I responded:

And how dare you force your irrational dehumanising atheism on innocent children too young to resist? How DARE you?

 It was a simple riposte which of course many could disagree with and provide rational and intelligent reasons why they thought I was wrong. I happen to believe that atheists are engaged in a massive campaign of indoctrination to overcome what Dawkins calls childrens intuitive creationism and theism (ie. children naturally believe in God and need to be educated out of it). If people wish to disagree with that then they are of course free to do so. I would expect however that those who class themselves as rational clear thinking people who only believe that which they have empirical proof for, would be able to provide a little better than the following sample of the tweets I have received today. These are by no means all of them, but they are typical of the vast majority – over 90%. What astounds me is how many people retweet and favourite the most vile and hateful comments, as though they were schoolboys in a playground, delighting in rude words and bullying.

I leave them with you without comment except this – when such hatred, emotion, prejudice and irrationality is present – do not be surprised when it results in a more virulent and violent attacks on those who do not accept the new atheist fundamentalist doctrines. If you really believe that teaching children the bible is child abuse then you are only one step away from criminalising those who teach their children the bible. The other thing that should be noted is that Dawkins himself has done nothing to dissociate himself from this kind of irrationality and hate speech. Indeed he must know that he stirs it up. Very very sad.

“you force your dehumanising atheism on children ~As opposed to theism, threatening kids w/ hell & telling them they’re broken?”

“eah, how about you go **** yourself?”

“Scotland will never be free until rid of clergy and the Sunday post.”

“well you’re obviously a douche drip.”

“Dehumanizing? I guess you forgot how major religions stomp human rights, opress women and kill in the name of their god. **** you.”

“Dehumanising atheism”? There’s nothing dehumanising about evidence and truth. Religion is stultifying and faith is a weasel word.”

“Do you understand the meaning of “irrational”? The Bibles, Qu’ran, Torah or all fit the definition. Not atheism.”

“Nothing more pathetic than a delusional sanctimonious moron pretending indigant rationality.”

“yet your demoralizing batshit-insane faith is totally acceptable & non-harmful? Wake up already!”

“did you think before typing? children are born with no notion of religion, that’s a fact!”

“So you think babies are born praying to a good they haven’t even heard of??”

“you mean science? Pushing science? HOW DARE WE DO THAT?!?!”

“religion is like racism ur not born with it it’s taught to u and only causes segregation”

“atheism is irrational? I’ve never seen any evidence of any god, therefore the only rational stance is disbelief?”

“Our atheism is perfectly rational. Our response to delusional, religious bullshit might not be.”

“don’t look in households that have christian parents. Atheist parents allow children to decide”

“forcing the abhorrent ideas of the bible onto children is child abuse. the book is beyond violent and disgusting!”

“it’s almost like he was made up by morons”

“Because none of the reasonable people believe in Him?”

“Hahaha! You’d think he’d choose the less moronic to spread his word.”

“If there really is a God why does he choose so many idiots to act on his behalf?”

“There’s a reason only idiots argue against atheism @SolasCpc. Intelligent people are atheists or realise there’s no case against it.”

“Get back on the education treadmill @SolasCpc as you’re intellectually unfit and obese on a diet of saturated stupidity”

“Why would an omnipresent god need a mere mortal to spread the word about his existence? Not very omnipresent now, is he?”

“If children are born Christians, why is it that they do not know about Jesus until someone tells them? Sounds made up…”

“Probably because you’re a bit of a silly ****. Nothing irrational or intolerant about pointing that reality out.”

And that is only eight hours worth!….how does one respond to such emotive irrationality?  I can’t.  I just simply pray.   Ps 53:1 “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’ They are corrupt, and their ways are vile; there is no one who does good.” Psalm 55:9 “Lord, confuse the wicked, confound their words, for I see violence and strife in the city” – Matthew 5:44 “But I tell you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you” – O Lord have mercy. I pray that many Sauls will become Pauls. It is whilst we were still your enemies that you died for us.  We too were once dead in sins and trespasses.  Lord open the minds of the blind, and the hearts of the cold, that the dead stones may come to live and see, love and acknowledge you.

Amen.

109 thoughts on “The Dawkins Rants

  1. Ah… but was Dawkins addressing parents who tell their children fairy tales and let youngsters watch Disney films? Perhaps “dopey unsubstantiated superstitions” referred to Snow White and other fairy tales? (-;

    (Although he backtracked very quickly on the comments about fairy tales, didn’t he?)

  2. I particularly like the bit where some very “sane” person says

    “don’t look in households that have christian parents. Atheist parents allow children to decide”

    Considering the vitriolic comments regarding the 8 hr dose of atheistic “tolerance” it is easy to understand how such parents “freely” let their children ” decide.”

    I mean with all the vile and profanity it is more than reasonable to conclude that atheistic parental discretion regarding their children’s belief is nothing less than proper abuse and bullying.

    Go Solas! Go David!

    One more swing and Goliath will fall!

    You rock.

    1. Donald,

      You wrote “it is more than reasonable to conclude that atheistic parental discretion regarding their children’s belief is nothing less than proper abuse and bullying”.

      I find that highly offensive and inaccurate. Both my parents (father now deceased) are atheists. My own upbringing was with being sent to church until the age of 12 after which I made my own choices. My atheist bother and sister – in – law are supportive of my 12 year old niece who has decided of her own accord that she wanted to be baptised.

      I have found representatives both of the church and of athesim at times to be equally guilty of “abuse and bullying”. Such conduct is a a hindrance to healthy dialogue. It seems that some are so caught up in the drama of winning an argument and destroying an opponents at to take leave of their senses.

      It is insane for either side to use the worst examples of their opponents and brush stroke all that view similarly with the same traits.

      I would caution against concluding that anyone is inherently abusive and bullying purely on the basis of their world view. It’s not what Christ did.

  3. Thank you for so constantly putting your head above the parapet, David, and don’t be discouraged. The LORD is King!

  4. I may have responded with, “You teach your children whatever you wish. I choose to teach mine the truth. God’s truth, including love, mercy, grace and kindness. And will continue to do so, even when man’s law says I must not.” I wonder what kind of response that would have garnered?

  5. David,
    I think Dawkins’ tweet is succinctly put, and expresses a sentiment that many of us agree with. I notice you don’t attempt to defend religious indoctrination of the young, but instead respond with the wholly irrational view that somehow protecting children from theistic lies equates to forcing atheism on them.How absurd! No one is calling for classes to teach that gods don’t exist now, do they?
    All that we ask is that you please keep your superstitious nonsense to yourself. Yahweh is your imaginary friend, not mine !

    best wishes,
    Linear C

    1. How interesting. You think that children should be indoctrinated with atheist doctrines – you use words like lies and wholly irrational and superstitious nonsense without providing one shred of evidence for them. Your position is an entirely emotional one and you want to insist that every child in the country is taught only from that position. I happen to think that children should be taught the truth….why would you be scared of that?

      1. David,
        First of all, thank you for posting my comment on your website.
        However, you misunderstand and misrepresent my view. I think children should only be taught the truth, why on earth would you say I was scared of that?
        Truth is demonstrable. Yahweh is imaginary. The only way you can conceive of Yahweh is to imagine him. You can’t see him, hear him, touch him, smell him or taste him. There are no instruments we can build that can detect him. There are no testable hypothesis we can conceive based on him.
        If you can demonstrate the truth of the claim that Yahweh is real, and not just a character from ancient mythology, then be my guest.
        But until you can demonstrate it, the claim remains one of superstition, and has no business being taught as true to children.
        Yahweh is your imaginary friend, which is why you have the emotional attachment to him, not me.

        yours rationally,
        Linear C

      2. Linear – your logical positivist philosophy is both out of date and self-contradictory. If the only things that are true are those which are subject to empirical examination then that statement itself is not true. There are many testable things for God and there is much evidence. But you have already made your mind up that there is no God and therefore there can be no evidence for God. I’m afraid that you have the emotional attachment to atheism. Atheism is not a rational position!

      3. Of course, the fundamental problem here is that truth will mean different things to different people. I am not opposed to teaching children about the many different faiths and belief systems that exist today. I am opposed to schools telling children that they should pray and decide which deity is addressed by those prayers. That is a family matter.

        Mind you, feeding the internet trolls is hardly an act suitable for a man of faith. Your expression that atheism is dehumanising provides an interesting insight into how you see other people who do not share your views. It is not a pleasant insight.

      4. Douglas – would you be opposed to schools letting children pray is they or their parents wish?

        I did not feed the internet trolls as you suggest – I simply responded to Dawkins attack. And “m afraid that I do think atheism is dehumanising because it takes away from a central aspect of being human – that we are made in the image of God. I think that believing that human beings are just an accidental collection of chemicals who are, in the words of Bertrand Russell, ‘a blob of carbon floating from one meaningless existence to another’ is dehumanising. You may regard my views that human beings are special and made in the image of God as ‘unpleasant’. I regard the atheistic view as devastating to humanity. As Chesterton said – when you cease to believe in God, you also cease to believe in humanity.

      5. I am on record on the radio (speaking just after you) that if a parts of school community want to have periods of time where they can devote themselves to prayer they can do so. Just as classrooms are used before classes, during lunch and after school for science clubs, chess clubs and debating clubs they can also be used for worship and study of a particular faith.

        We shall have to disagree on the rest. I don’t find your views that God made man in his image unpleasant. It is, after all, a central tenet of your faith to believe that humans are indeed that special. What I find interesting is the passion you display for your position is no different from the passion that someone like Dawson displays for his. Perhaps we can term it militant or aggressive evangelicalism.

      6. Douglas – thanks…I really appreciate your contributions and warm to you!

        And yes you could describe me as a militant follower of Jesus!

      1. Hi Daniel,

        I’m afraid you haven’t got it straight. I agree with Dawkins in this case because I evaluated his statement on its merits and decided I agree. There is no compulsion for me to agree with everything he says simply because we share a disbelief in the supernatural.
        Atheism does not come with any tenets or dogma. Atheism is simply a conclusion, reached after the application of critical thinking to the claims of religions.

        I hope this is helpful. I can’t help but notice there is an abundance of vitriolic demonisation of atheism and atheists around here.

        best wishes,
        Linear C

      2. Linear,

        I think you need to re-evaluate what ‘vitriolic demonisation’ of atheists means. It is certainly not here – unless you regard daring to disagree with atheist dogma as being de facto vitriolic demonisation. Atheism comes complete with a set of dogmas – not least the belief that you are rational and that you only became atheists because of rational thinking!

      1. Adam,

        Certainly. Teaching a child that Yehweh exists is indoctrination.This is training a child to believe something which cannot be demonstrated to be true.
        Unfortunately this is critical for the religious meme to survive, rare is the adult that finds theistic claims compelling. No wonder the faithful get so hot under the collar when it is suggested it is cruel to lie to children.

        best wishes,
        Linear C

      2. There you go again. Seeking to impose your faith and beliefs on everyone else. Just because you think that God cannot be proven to you, then you insist that that must be true for everyone. Why not let people look for themselves and make up their own mind? Why do you have to insist that your way is the only way and the only one that should be taught to children?

      3. Hello Linear,

        Thank you for your replies.

        Lennox does have a degree in Mathematics from the university of Cardiff, what you say is true about him being a mathematician. He describes himself as a scientist on occasion, perhaps because of his MA in bioethics from the University of Surrey. Sir, it is ironic to talk of others lieing when at the same time making a false statement about Lennox not being a scientist.

        You make the claim that Lennox is ignorant about evolution, yoet you provide no evidence for that? Why do you perceive I believe Lennox is arguing form a position of ignorance, being a scientist that he is? Is it not “absurd” to think that a scientist is ignorant about evolution as you claim Lennox to be?

        You say that “Teaching a child that Yehweh exists is indoctrination [and] it is cruel to lie to children”, therefore implying that it is a lie to teach that Yaweh exists. Yet Lennox gave a reasonable perspective on why as a scientist he made the case for intelligence, for God to exist and why the atheist view of order coming come chaos is one which does not make sense. You agree with Dawkins, I agree with Lennox.

        Ironically there is no evidence for your claim about “something which cannot be demonstrated to be true”. If what Lennox has demonstrated and given evidence for does not satisfy the criteria for demonstration and evidence, what would? Saying that he has not demonstrated something to be true does not make him false and that view true. At best, that view is a view, an opinion with no evidence to support it.

        I’m yet to see an argument that makes as much reasonable sense for order coming from chaos as there being intelligent design in order, that is as in a word signifying a person, word in DNA signifying the word that was with God and was God and became flesh.

        What is it about that, that is lieing to a child and indoctrinating them? Based on your argument, why would teaching that there is no monotheistic God not be lieing and indoctrinating children?

    2. Linear C you wrote “Truth is demonstrable” I agree.

      Perhaps I might paraphrase what the Oxford professor John Lennox has said and invite comment. He has mentioned that behind a word like David or Adam or Douglas or Linear C there is intelligence, there is a person. Nooone can show that here but such is an assumption based on the evidence of what has been produced in the dialogue here.

      Taking the over 3 billion components that make up a word in DNA he then says that because he is a scientist and not because he is a Christian, he comes to the conclusion that there is intelligence behind that. And that to say such order comes from chaos fro big bang is silly. Just as blowing up a brick creates a disordered mess how can the big band create order?

      Lennox would say that it makes sense that what comes form chaos is chaos and order from intelligence and this is they he posits that belief in God is the more rational world view than atheism.

      I haven’t seen any answer to my question to you.

      Douglas in a postmodern context i find myself in agreement to a degree with you when you express that “truth will mean different things to different people”. It is common in such context to deconstruct other views and affirm one’s own personal truth. However, I don’t think anyone would deny gravity existing or certain laws of nature. If not with these truths then why with others? Is it all down to what truth means to people? In which case how do you propose it be be determined whether what anyone is expressing is true or just that person’s opinion about something?

      If we are just random blobs of carbon then what place is there for for any morality when truth means different things to different people. How can anything be obviously immoral? What makes one view of the holocaust for example of it being an honourable act, eliminating rats just as someone doing so in a sewer is an unpleasant but honourable job and not an abhorrent act of crime against humanity?

      1. Hi Adam,

        Thanks for your reply. Lennox is a Mathematician, not a scientist, but regardless, why should his ignorance of the development of the universe be a compelling argument to believe in the imaginary?
        Let’s take evolution. A process understood almost uniformly across the planet; it’s taught in schools and universities everywhere; the evidence for the truth of it is overwhelming, demonstrable, and repeatable.
        But you seem to think that Lennox’s ignorance of the subject is an argument in favour of theism? Wouldn’t you say that was absurd?

        PS see the second sentence of my first reply for the answer to your original question!

        best wishes.
        Linear C

      2. Linear – you need to get your facts right. John Lennox is a scientist – he has a science degree and as well as being a professor of mathematics, he is also professor of the philosophy of science. To state that Lennox is ignorant of evolution is itself an example of astonishing ignorance. The arrogance of some atheists astonishes me. It seems as though you dismiss anyone who does not agree with you as ignorant, evil or stupid. Can I suggest that instead of wasting all our time by putting your ignorance on display here you actually try some reading – say Lenoox’s ‘God’s Undertaker – for a start”…or his Seven Days…

  6. On Dawkins and Hitchens

    My Dad use to tell me, “Son, don’t judge a man unless you’ve walked a mile in his shoes”.

    So this is not a judgment of these men, nor of anyone that would hold to their beliefs, but only an observation based on a few years of conversations with the general public on the streets concerning the existence of God.

    In my humble opinion there is usually a hurtful “Root cause” that makes a person doubt the existence of God. And with it, it brings sincere mistrust, even hatred, blurred with prejudice (and rightly so) the thought that there can be a loving God in Heaven that loves and cares for us after being abused by someone in authority.

    Without condemning, could this be possible within Richard Dawkins statement?

    “Dawkins told Britain’s The Times magazine that a schoolmaster “pulled me on his knee and put his hand inside my shorts”.

    http://www.news.com.au/world/he-was-a-victim-of-child-sexual-abuse-but-richard-dawkins-refuses-to-condemn-the-behaviour/story-fndir2ev-1226717774514

    Or reflected in the life style of Christopher Eric Hitchens?

    “Hitchens died on 15 December 2011, from complications arising from oesophageal cancer, a disease that he acknowledged was more than likely due to his lifelong predilection for heavy smoking and drinking.”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christopher_Hitchens

    Hurting people have strong opinions about God and need to be cared for and given understanding, rather than condeming.

    The only ones that Jesus condemmed were those that used religion for greedy gain.

    And on the flip side, to preach that there is no God and to deny any teaching about Judaic/Christian principles in schools or in the public arena over others desire to do so, is to force an opinion based on prejudice.

    1. Hi Tim,

      Just a quick comment about this bit: “…..to preach that there is no God and to deny any teaching about Judaic/Christian principles in schools or in the public arena over others desire to do so, is to force an opinion based on prejudice.”

      But no-one is calling for this, are they? We simply ask that the state stay silent on the subject of gods, including teaching that they don’t exist.

      best wishes,
      Linear C

      1. Linear C,
        “But no-one is calling for this, are they”?
        That’s surely more than a little disingenuous. I think we all know on the contrary that those of Dawkins’ way of thinking aim not only to stamp out theistic teaching but also to replace it with materialism – sometimes under the slight-ish camouflage of its being merely a neutral and effect-less “lack of belief”, as if such a thing existed. I have never yet heard an atheist asking for the State to hold back on “teaching [God doesn’t] exist”.
        Just out of curiosity – as an atheist, you believe that your own brain is ultimately the accidental product of random movements of atoms. Why then would you expect to have any weight attached to the “thoughts” it comes up with? A stream can’t rise higher than its source; they can only be equally random and accidental.

  7. David

    Because it isn’t the truth. What’s more, you can’t even agree on the truth within the Scottish Presbyterian Church, let alone the vast range of Protestant denominations, the Catholic and Orthodox Churches, Islam, or Judaism –and that’s just the Abrahamic religions.

    This also goes to the heart of your complaint in the article. Those who made rude or offensive replies did so because that is their individual nature. Not because there is an atheist doctrine of obnoxiousness! Atheism is simply a refusal to accept the theistic arguments for God. They may have any number of other ideas on how to interact with their fellow human beings that cause them to act abhorrently, and I would posit that this is exactly what the history of humanity shows us.

    Religion has simply afforded a different set of these ideas. Unfortunately, these have often still caused mankind to be abhorrent to each other. The atheist can simply point to the socio economic and psychological reasons for this (ie we’re too greedy and stupid to know better generally). However, the theist is powerless to explain why God has not provided a clearer interpretation of his message and intervened between the many pious and righteous men who all believed they were following their interpretation of his truth whilst acting in an utterly abhorrent manner to their fellow men (and women and children).

    1. I love the way that atheists say that atheism is never the cause of anything bad whereas religion is. A somewhat skewed view of the world which ends up justifying the most appalling behaviour!

      1. David,

        I notice you rarely engage with opposing points, except to throw out illogical assertions. This is a good example.

        What do you say to the fact that since Christians can rarely agree on ‘truth’ even amongst themselves, how can you say any religious claim is ‘true’? What methodology do you use to determine the truth? And how can demonstrate that this method is reliable?

        And how can atheism be the ’cause’ of anything, good or bad? This is simply illogical, Atheism is the disbelief in your claims about your imaginary friend. How can that possibly be the cause of anything?

        Or let me put it another way; Do you believe in Harry Potter? No? How does your disbelief affect your behaviour?

        best wishes,
        Linear C

      2. Linear – I think your powers of observation need to be sharpened….your latest post illustrates why.

        1) I often engage with the points that people make.
        2) Christians often agree on the truth.
        3) Truth is found in Jesus Christ. Not sure how atheists determine anything is true given that truth is just a human construct and a state of mind!
        4) How can non belief in God be the cause of anything good or bad. In the same way that belief in God can be.
        5) Disbelief in Harry Potter affects my behaviour in that I don’t play with wands. Disbelief in the God of love and creator of the human spirit means I do not believe in that love or spirit. After all if we are just chemicals then everything we think and feel is just a chemical reaction.

  8. David

    Atheism is not a belief system; it is a lack of acceptance of theistic arguments. Stalin didn’t commit his crimes because of things he didn’t believe in, he committed them because of the stupid things he did believe in.

    God could prevent the religious who misinterpret his truths from carry out acts against their fellow believers, yet he fails to do so – why?

    1. Jon – I love the way that atheists always like to portray their belief as ‘nothing’ with no consequences. Stalin did commit his crimes partly because he believed there was no God to answer to, no day of judgement and that human beings survived by taking power and eliminating all threats to themselves.

      As to your second question – its because God did not create us robots but gave us free will and human responsibility.

      1. David

        These are not people freely choosing to ignore God’s truths, they are people who sincerely believe that they are following them. What is his purpose in allowing the immense suffering (over 3 million in the Thirty Years war alone) caused by those who genuinely believe they do his will?

      2. Jon,

        I am not in a position to judge the sincerity or otherwise of Westboro Baptist, and I suspect you are not either. Just as you are not capable of determining what the motivation was of those who fought and led in the various conflicts that made up the Thirty Years War. As for Gods purpose, since you don’t believe in God the question is surely meaningless and it would be pointless in my answering.

  9. David,

    In reply to this comment;

    “Linear – your logical positivist philosophy is both out of date and self-contradictory. If the only things that are true are those which are subject to empirical examination then that statement itself is not true. There are many testable things for God and there is much evidence. But you have already made your mind up that there is no God and therefore there can be no evidence for God. I’m afraid that you have the emotional attachment to atheism. Atheism is not a rational position!”

    Again you misrepresent me; I did not say anything about empirical examination, I said truth has to be demonstrable. And you presume to know my mind, but I am happy to correct you; my knowledge is provisional, always with the caveat that new information could change my mind. There’s nothing remotely emotional or irrational about it! But I’m used to theists claiming that my mind is closed as an excuse not to demonstrate the existence of their god.

    I actually care about what’s true. If it’s possible to demonstrate the existence of Yahweh, please do so and I will thank you for it. Otherwise, continue to enjoy your friendship with your imaginary friend, but please keep the madness away from the children.

    yours rationally,
    Linear C

    1. Linear,

      You write “I did not say anything about empirical examination, I said truth has to be demonstrable.” And you told us how – see, hear, touch and smell. That IS empirical examination. How else would you propose to demonstrate truth? And if you have an open mind why then do you automatically dismiss believe in God as madness and an ‘imaginary friend’? Hardly the words of someone with an open mind!

      1. Hi David,
        “How else would you propose to demonstrate truth?”
        Here’s how. Observation, hypothesis, testing, revision.
        I’ve already told you, I don’t ‘automatically’ dismiss theistic claims. I evaluate them first. I have reached the conclusion that Yahweh is your imaginary friend because that is the only way that theists conceive of Yahweh.
        If I am wrong, I invite you to correct me! Again!
        Lets say I didn’t believe that electrons exist. After all, I can see them, touch them etc.But nevertheless, it’s possible to demonstrate the truth of their existence.
        If Yahweh exists, then it must be possible to demonstrate he exists. Please do so, and I will happily change my mind.

        best wishes,
        Linear C

  10. Hi Curlew,
    Not disingenuous at all. All we ask for is the removal of teaching religion as true. I think you have been reading too much of David’s propaganda. But don’t take my word for it – seek out the evidence for yourself. Read for yourself what secularists are saying, not what Christian propogandists say they are saying.
    To answer your second question, my brain is the product of evolution by natural selection – there is nothing random about it! We are shaped to exist in our environment – it’s a mind blowing thought when you think about it!
    Best wishes,
    Linear C

    1. I have no doubt that you are asking for the removal of teaching religion as true. You want to teach it as myth and you want to teach your own philosophy as true. That is exactly what I have been saying.

      Evolution by natural selection is not random? Only if you twist the English language to make random mean something else. We are shaped to exist in our environment…can you tell us whether our environment is shaped or not? To exist in what? Its environment?

      1. Hi David,
        This puzzles me. “You want to teach it as myth and you want to teach your own philosophy as true” I have explicitly said in more than one post that I do not want this. If you have missed it, then you have my repetition here. Your argument is nothing more than a straw man.

        As for our existence, science can explain how we came to be here, from all the way back to a fraction of a second after the big bang. There is no need to inject the supernatural to explain anything. If you ask me what happened before the point at which our understanding stops, I have to honestly answer that I do not know. You on the other hand, imagine that you know, and then claim that what you imagine is the truth.
        Only if you twist the English language to make truth mean something else!

        best wishes,
        Linear C

      2. So you are saying that you don’t want your philosophy taught – do you want any philosophy taught? I do – all kinds. I love the way that you are as confident about your knowledge of my knowledge as you are that ‘science’ can explain everything about how we came to be here. If you make up my motivation (you imagine that you know) then of course it is easy for you to answer your own accusation. You really need to up your game if you want to engage on here – otherwise your posts just become a series of accusations to which no-one really listens. After all if someone is talking to themselves the conversation really isn’t all that interesting!

    2. to take one point at a time, Linear –
      “….All we ask for is the removal of teaching religion as true. I think you have been reading too much of David’s propaganda. But don’t take my word for it – seek out the evidence for yourself….”

      Who is “we” here, I ask myself?
      I don’t doubt that the atheist constituency includes candid individuals who would go no further. Kudos if you are one of them.
      At the same time (even-handed though I try to be in my propaganda intake) I never yet heard a secularist with any kind of public profile contend for the teaching of atheism/secularism as merely one possible world view, which may, or may not be true; which like theism is impossible to prove either empirically or logically.

      One difficulty is the very widespread inability to grasp the fact that atheism is itself a definite and far-reaching truth claim. That confusion has in general been very helpful to the atheist cause – it’s not surprising if they’re in no hurry to dispel it..

      1. HI Curlew,
        Yes, I’m possibly guilty of using the royal we, but then again, I don’t know of anyone asking for atheism to be taught as true in primary schools. Do you?

        Atheism is a far reaching truth claim? Well, it’s a truth claim if you use the definition to mean atheism is the claim there is no gods – not all atheists use this definition – but why is it far reaching to claim that a non-existent being doesn’t exist?

        best wishes,
        Linear C

  11. Hi David,
    Unfortunately, some of your posts have reached the reply limit, so I will reply here to several of your points;
    DAR “Atheism comes complete with a set of dogmas – not least the belief that you are rational and that you only became atheists because of rational thinking! “
    Well, as you agreed on the other thread, atheism is simply the lack of belief in gods. There are no dogmas. Or maybe my copy of the atheist manifesto got lost in the post? !! And I can only speak for myself, but I can tell you that I am an atheist as a consequence of my application of critical thinking to theistic claims.
    DAR “Just because you think that God cannot be proven to you, then you insist that that must be true for everyone.”
    I don’t think the Yehweh can’t be proven, I know it can’t be proven because I have evaluated the evidence for the claim. Theists are not generally reasoned into believing, they are indoctinated as children. You can see this is true very easily by simply noting that a persons religious beliefs are almost always the same as of their parents and of their culture.
    DAR “Why not let people look for themselves and make up their own mind? “
    Why not? I’d be all for this. But let’s wait until they grow up first, shall we? You see, adults can evaluate claims rationally, children can’t, especially when they are told it is true.
    DAR “Why do you have to insist that your way is the only way and the only one that should be taught to children? “
    I don’t, and this is your mistake. I’m asking that the state is silent on the subject. No teaching that one god exists, no teaching that some gods exist, no teaching that no gods exist.
    DAR 3) “Truth is found in Jesus Christ.”
    How? Seriously, how? What is the method?
    DAR “Not sure how atheists determine anything is true given that truth is just a human construct and a state of mind! “
    Here’s how; Observation, hypothesis, testing, revision. Take electrons. As inscrutable to human senses as Yahweh, yet I can demonstrate they exist. Truth isn’t an opinion, it’s a demonstrable fact about reality. Observation, hypothesis, testing, revision. Can you demonstrate Yahweh to the same degree that I can demonstrate the electron?
    DAR “4) How can non belief in God be the cause of anything good or bad. In the same way that belief in God can be.”
    You are agreeing with me. Non-belief causes nothing. Well done. Please try to hold this thought.
    DAR “5) Disbelief in Harry Potter affects my behaviour in that I don’t play with wands “
    Please forgive me, but this is hilarious. I have this mental image of you skipping down the Nethergate, gaily waving a wand. Only then to pause as you reach Waterstones, picking up the latest JK Rowling. Disbelief dawning on your face, then a wistful sigh as the beloved wand is consigned to the nearest dustbin!
    DAR: “After all if we are just chemicals then everything we think and feel is just a chemical reaction. “
    Underneath, this is true, and it’s amazing! To me I am in awe at the reality of our existence. Our lives are brief, fragile and precious. We only get one chance, which means our time on the planet means everything.
    Thank you again for allowing my posts. I sincerely hope you at least pause for thought before penning your replies.
    Best wishes,
    Linear C

    1. Lin…you write a lot of nothing about nothing for someone whose beliefs have no beliefs!

      I can tell you that my theism is as a result of applying critical thinking to atheistic claims.

      “I don’t think the Yehweh can’t be proven, I know it can’t be proven because I have evaluated the evidence for the claim.” – oh the breathtaking arrogance. YOU have evaluated and therefore YOU know it can’t be proven. What? Have you evaluated ALL the evidence? You really have great faith to believe that you have the capacity to evaluate the evidence and great arrogance in expecting us to believe on the basis of what you say.

      And your arrogance/prejudice shines through in your claim to a comprehensive knowledge of why theists believe – they are indoctrinated as children. And your evidence? A persons religious beliefs are almost always the same as of their parents. Indeed. And that is true for atheists as well. So does this mean that Stephen Hawking was indoctrinated because his parents were atheists?! Hoisted by your own petard.

      You claim that adults can evaluate claims rationally. The evidence for that is not great – at least not going by the type of ‘rationality’ that atheists seem to use.

      “Truth isn’t an opinion, it’s a demonstrable fact about reality.” _ sadly you have just contradicted yourself. Can you prove that empirically?

      “Underneath, this is true, and it’s amazing! To me I am in awe at the reality of our existence. Our lives are brief, fragile and precious. We only get one chance, which means our time on the planet means everything.”

      Again another one of your absolutist truth statements which cannot be proved but you have to state to support your self-contradictory faith. If we are just chemicals then we are ‘a blob of carbon floating from one meaningless existence to another”. It matters not in your philosophy whether I kill a cockroach or a human – both are just rearranging chemicals in the universe.

      Your philosophy/faith is self-contradictory, illogical, unproven and without hope.

      1. Hi David,
        A few brief comments.
        It would be helpful in future if you would engage with what I have written, rather than just firing back sound bites and assertions. You seem to be more interested in evading the issues I am bringing up rather than actually thinking about them.
        So let me make 2 further observations;

        1. I don’t hold that I have absolute certainty in the philosphical sense; I have reasonable expectations based on evidence. If I write statements such as ‘I know x’ then please take into account this is a blog comment not a philosophy paper, and it would be helpful if you would desist from nit-picking.

        2. Rather than engage with my comments, you are now resorting to attacking me personally. I am now dismissed as arrogant, prejudiced, self-contradictory, illogical and without hope. I am thick skinned, so there are no hurt feelings ;-).

        Is it really so unreasonable to ask for a good reason to believe that your imaginary friend exists? After all, if Yahweh exists, why not just demonstrate it? But no, you evade, then nit pick, then attack me. I think that speaks volumes about your position.

        What do you think?

        best wishes,
        Linear C

      2. Linear –

        1) I do engage with what you write. I never evade issues.
        2) Are you absolutely certain that you have reasonable expectations based on evidence? Are you certain you have the ability to ascertain the evidence? If you say you know something then you must expect it to be challenged. Your confidence in your own knowledge and ability is a key issue.
        3) No – I am not attacking you personally (at least not in the terms with which you began this conversation). I
        4) You persist in abusing – its ironic that you take offence at being questioned about your beliefs (calling it nit-picking and abuse) whilst at the same time accusing me of having an imaginary friend.
        5) We demonstrate plenty – but the bottom line is that you have no desire to see anything that is demonstrated. Your mind is made up and you do not want to be confused with other facts.

      3. Hi David,

        Well yes, I am pretty sure I can evaluate evidence. If I’m doing something wrong, please enlighten me. However, I can tell you atheism is my conclusion, not my pre-supposition. Or are you now claiming that you know my mind better than I do?
        And yes, you are attacking me personally. You dismiss me as as arrogant, prejudiced, self-contradictory, illogical and without hope. But I point this out not because I am offended, but to show you offer abuse in lieu of a rational response. This is the ad-hominem logical fallacy.
        You complain about me calling Yahweh your imaginary friend? Then tell me how you can conceive of Yahweh other than in your imagination? Yahweh as imaginary isn’t an insult – it’s an accurate description.
        Clearly you disagree with me, but you are unable to defend your position. So instead of defending it, you have;

        1. Evaded the issue (no demonstration that Yahweh is not imaginary)
        2. Nitpicked (Lennox’s qualifications – not germane to the point I was making)
        3. Abused in lieu of argument – (I am arrogant, prejudiced, self-contradictory, illogical and without hope.)
        4. Claimed my cognitive facilities are impaired. (you claim you are right

        The truth may set you free, but I am afraid you are hopelessly bound by your delusion, as anyone reading these threads can see.

        You claim that my mind is made up and do not want to be confused by facts – perhaps you should take a look at yourself David instead? And THINK!

        best wishes,
        Linear C

  12. There is, in my opinion, an increasingly hostile and aggressive clamour coming from Prof. Dawkins and his fellow-travellers as they seek to impose their worldview on everyone else, even to the point of suggesting (in an earlier blog) that Stalin’s atheism played no part in how he viewed the world or in the crimes he committed.

    Here is what Nadezhda Mandelstam says in her book, Hope Abandoned:
    “In a primitive tribe man was bound by rituals and customs intended to strengthen its unity. People were set free by Christianity but, having tasted freedom, they abandoned it and turned to atheism with its sprinkling of skeptical phrases and the pseudo-rational formulae of a pitiful humanism. There is a glaringly obvious connection between the loss of inner freedom and the abandonment of Christianity, but it escapes the blind and those who deliberately close their eyes. Yet this is the basic feature of our times and could not have been demonstrated more dramatically.”

    (Pages 581-582,Hope Abandoned, Mandelstam N, Collins Harvill, 1989)

    Keep up the good work David.

  13. Linear

    Will you please demonstrate that every human being is of equal moral worth?
    Don’t merely demonstrate that it is useful to believe humans are all of equal worth. Demonstrate that this proposition is true.

    Graham

    1. Hi Graham,

      Why? Why would that be relevent to the issue of Yahweh’s existence?

      The unsaid assumption in your question is that Yahweh is the source of our morality, but since non-existent beings cannot be the cause of anything, you would first have to demonstrate that Yahweh exists.

      Alternatively, you could work backwards from morality to Yahweh, but only if you can prove (yes, prove not just demonstrate) that ONLY Yahweh can be the cause of morality.

      This is thing – if Yahweh’s existence was so self evident, why can’t anybody demonstrate it to be true? The glaring answer that theists deny is that Yahweh is simply imaginary.

      best wishes,
      Linear C

      1. Linear…..actually plenty people can demonstrate God to be true. Your premise is wrong. You are just simply stating that you can’t see the evidence. It does not mean the evidence is not there. It could just be that you are blind.

        And it is very easy to demonstrate that absolute morality cannot exist without God. As Dawkins points out in the God Delusion – absolute morality is very difficult to have without God.

      2. David,
        And where are these people who can demonstrate that gods exist? There are plenty that believe it, sure. But none who can demonstrate that it is true. Now sure it could be that it’s an accepted truth that Yahweh is real, and for some reason I’m missing it. But I have been paying attention,and I’m pretty sure I would have noticed if any god had been shown to exist! No, the far more likely explanation is that they are all imaginary.

        Who cares if Dawkins says absolute morality is difficult without God! Because (and I repeat) “you could work backwards from morality to Yahweh, but only if you can prove (yes, prove not just demonstrate) that ONLY Yahweh can be the cause of morality.”

        (PS what page did he say that on? I’d like to look it up.)

        best wishes,
        Linear C

      3. So you would have noticed if God had been demonstrated? Does this mean that those of us who believe in God are stupid or lying?

        You missed the morality argument…..the existence of morality is one pointer towards God. It is impossible to have an absolute morality without God. (Dawkins wrote about this in The God Delusion – I think in the chapter on morality – but I don’t have chapter and verse – and can’t be bothered looking!).

      4. Hi David,
        You asked, “Does this mean that those of us who believe in God are stupid or lying?” Of course not. Most believers are indoctrinated as children into the same faith as the prevailing culture. I don’t doubt the sincerity of your beliefs. The issue is about if they are in fact true. If they are, they should be demonstrable.
        The morality argument is simply an assertion that morality comes from god, nothing more. If you want to turn it into a good reason for thinking a god might exist, you would have to prove (yes prove) that this god must be the exclusive source of morality. Absent that, this ‘argument’ boils down to another argument from ignorance, i.e. we don’t know x, therefore god.
        PS I’ll check TGD myself then, will let you know if I find it.
        Best wishes,
        Linear C

      5. Linear – do you think that those who grow up in an atheistic secular culture are ‘indoctrinated into the same faith as the prevailing culture’?

      6. Hi David,
        No, not at all. You can’t be indoctrinated with an absence of a belief.
        Let me put it this way, you have grown up in a culture that does not believe Harry Potter is real; a belief you share; would you describe yourself as having been indoctrinated into that belief?
        I didn’t think so.

        best wishes,
        Linear C

  14. Linear C

    I wonder if you would also acknowledge that there is a world of difference between teaching that students must believe that a religion or worldview is true and teaching students about religion because one religion could be true?

    And for that matter, will you acknowledge that there is a difference between a school teaching students that they must believe that one religion is true ; and a school teaching that it happens to believe that a particular religion is true, but that students should assess the truth claims of that religion for themselves?

    The problem, you see, is that if schools avoid teaching anything about controversial subjects we wouldn’t have very much to teach. The causes of the Cold War, the First World War, the Second World War, the American Revolution etc etc are all up for debate. Numerous political controversies are all up for debate

    Even science has its controversies – sociobiology, evolutionary psychology, the unit of selection, cosmology, the nature of consciousness, TOE’s, etc etc. And even experimental results are open to interpretation (for example the meaning of the Libet tests, Milgram experiments, Zimbardo’s experiments, Bodura’s Bobo dolls are all fiercely debated).

    Now, if school’s say nothing about religion they would be taking a very controversial position. They would be saying that religion is a matter of taste and should be restricted to the private sphere.

    But that hasn’t been established: and if you have simple knock-down arguments against the arguments assembled by Plantinga, Pruss, Holder, Wolterstorff, Alston, Swinburne, CS Evans, NT Wright, Trigg, Witherington, Keener, Craig, Reppert, Collins, Feser, McGrew, Haldane etc. etc. etc. numerous academic jpurnals would love to hear from you.

    Indeed, the humanist journal Philo is rigorously edited and scrupulously fair. They would love to hear your conclusive proof for the rationality of atheism, the irrationality of theism and the implications for public life. You seem to think it can be expressed quickly and clearly: if so, atheistic philosophers have been missing a trick or two!

    Of course you aren’t just assuming that you are more rational than everyone who happens to disagree with you, are you? A good school would have to challenge that sort of nonsense!

    1. Hi Graham,

      I would acknowledge the differences that you quote at the start of your post, but I don’t see them as relevant. Schools should not be teaching what they believe, they should be teaching what they can demonstrate to be true.
      I also acknowledge some of the controversies in history and science that you quote, but again I don’t see that as relevant since they ARE taught, typically at higher education establishments. My complaint is primarily the teaching of mythology as fact to primary school children.
      If you were to leave the teaching of religion to the university level, you would have no complaints from me. In fact, if the only way to demonstrate the existence of Yahweh is through the obscure rambling of Plantinga etc, then perhaps that’s the best place for it?
      PS the rationality of atheism? That’s easy. Until there is an actual demonstration of the existence of any of the deities that have been imagined over the centuries, non-belief is the only rational position to take.

      Best wishes,
      Linear C

      1. Linear – then schools should not be teaching that human beings are progressing, or that there is no evidence for God, or that human beings are just chemicals etc. I will guarantee you that you cannot name one school which is not based on a particular philosophy. The question is only which one?

      2. Hi David,
        You seem to want to complicate the issue? All I’m saying is that primary schools should be silent on the subject of religion. They can carry on with the sums and the reading and everything else they currently do.
        It’s pretty easy really.

        best wishes,
        Linear C

      3. And like all ‘easy’ solutions it does not work. Every school will have a philosophy, values and ethos….the question is what are these based on.

      4. Hi David,
        I’m afraid you will have to elaborate on why my suggestion will not work.
        No religion, more sums, everything else the same!
        That’s it !

        best wishes,
        Linear C

  15. Until Christians can prove their religion isn’t based on a fairy tale, it’s completely rational to see it as all other religion: a fairy tale. Dawkins is spot on, and perhaps the reason he’s such a lightning rod for Religionists is that he is wounding them more than they realize. After all, if he were a raving lunatic, no one would care…. you guys seem to care an awful lot. Search your soul – you know God doesn’t exist. You know Jesus, if he lived at all, is dead now. You know the invisible hope in the Christian Promise is just that, hope.
    Nothing against hope, but it doesn’t always pan out. Especially when it’s built on a world of Angels, Nephilim, magic cures, gods and demons…
    If Christianity isn’t a fairy tale, why does it sound so much like one?

    1. Brent – I realise that you have your own fairy tale which you clearly have faith in but when you are ready to consider other facts and points of view we might be able to talk. For example the notion that Dawkins harms us is quite funny – he is a great asset to the Gospel….

      There isn’t really much though I can do to help you – until you open your mind. You just KNOW that we know that God does not exist, that Jesus is not alive etc. Christianity only sounds like a fairy tale to those who a) do not read fairy tales b) do not know what Christianity is and c) are committed to basing their lifes on the non-existence of God.

      1. David – You believe in a 2000 year old tale of gods, devils, angels, with some Darren Brown-style “miracles” thrown in for color… and let’s not forget the Zombies (or has Licona allowed good Christians to treat some of them as allegorical?).
        Scholars (not “Christian Scholars” but actual Bible Scholars, Historians, Anthropologists, etc.) firmly place Christianity into the category of “Religion”. It’s categorized along with Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Cargo cults, etc. I’m sure, based on the little I know of your work, that you’d think those religions are fairy tales (except Judaism). Then, you’d Special Plead and declare that the features of YOUR religion are somehow the only important features with which to assess all religions. How convenient! (That is, you might point to the historical references in the Bible as if they make Christianity more special, whereas another religionist might say the important aspect of a religion is that it isn’t written down or has historical references. That is, even if a god existed, we have no reason to believe a god would prefer a book like the Bible, or a person like Jesus, to transmit a message. Perhaps a god would prefer direct revelation, and some minor cult in Polynesia is the One True Religion. Why would a god do that? I don’t know. But i’ll borrow a Christian quip: “Who are you to question god?”).
        Your religion – your fairy tale – is nothing more than a Roman demi-god religion mixed with Jewish theism. As religions go, it has some nice features, but coherence to reality is not one of them. (BTW, Jainism far outstrips Christianity, IMO)
        I’d be happy to debate you any time, though you’d be doing more for my exposure than I’d do for yours. Perhaps you’d look at it as a chance to show everyone how irrational atheists are… if you can <<<a friendly challenge… 😉

      2. Unfortunately Brent I don’t believe what you say- so I can’t defend it. If you wish to argue against me then please argue against what I say. If you wish to argue against yourself then please do so on your own blog…!

        If you really wish to debate me feel free to contact Justin Brierley at Premier Radios ‘Unbelievable’ programme. I do a lot of debates for them but the trouble is that many atheists complain after them – “that was too easy for me, let me have a go and I will sort him out”. You are welcome to try!

      3. I have spoken with a mutual friend of Justin’s and we’ll see. I’m not holding my breath. I’m not famous like you. However, perhaps you have a few “minions” (Apostles? Disciples?) at Solas that might like to get their hands dirty and debate a few of us here? I’m sure you’re a busy man, and can’t debate every atheist posting on your site.
        You are right, I don’t know what you believe, but I think it’s something about Jesus. What you believe about Jesus seems to come from some ancient Palestinian collection of writings by (apparent) madmen (Paul and John) or anonymous zealots.
        Or, you seem to appeal to a “revelation” of your god – which sounds no different than other revelation stories of other gods.
        I really don’t know what any Christian believes, because they all believe different things and it’s hard to keep up. For example, are you a Molinist like Craig? Or something else? Reformed Baptist Church of God, Reformation of 1915? (you know the joke)…

      4. Brent, always happy to debate. Where is ‘here’? Although I would suggest that if you are going to debate anything its worth while finding out what your oppenents actually believe and not just mock them as madmen!

      5. I didn’t mock any opponent as a madman, only the guy who wrote Revelations (John), and the guy who used to pull people from their homes to kill them (Paul). I think their body of work speaks for itself.

    2. I hate to point it out, but you have a few fairy tales yourself fit to knock The Princess and the Frog, or any others, into a cocked hat.
      You believe that there was nothing whatsoever – not time or space even.
      But suddenly, by pure magic! (we have to assume – since it wasn’t a deity and it wasn’t the laws of physics) the entire universe popped into existence 🙂

      1. I don’t think the universe popped into existence from nothing. And certainly not by magic from an, oh, just so-happens-to-exist Perfect Being, just hanging out waiting to create you and me so he can judge our actions and decide whether we get to visit it for all eternity doing… whatever things do for eternity.
        I happen to believe something caused the BB and it was something. That’s no admission to a god, only some thing. A Babylonian god is probably not the cause… or whatever god you pick from the dustbin of history.

      2. Brent – thanks for telling us what you believe. You have faith that the universe was caused by something. You don’t know what that ‘thing’ is..but you do know it is not God. I hesitate to ask but do you have any evidence for this faith? Has this ‘thing’ always existed? If not what caused the thing that caused the Big Bang to come into existence? Is it ‘things’ all the way down?

      3. “……I happen to believe something caused the BB and it was something….”

        Ouch, Brent, what a spectacular piece of bet-hedging 🙂 You’re of course right that if the universe had a beginning, there must have been a cause. Congratulations on grasping that, since many people don’t.
        Only you can’t define the dilemma out of existence just by conferring upon that cause the title “some thing, but not God”. You’re trying to pitch your tent in the excluded middle – whereas an excluded middle is somewhat like a mathematical point, having conceptual existence, but no extent.

      4. 1. I didn’t say “I know there is no God”. This is smarminess on your part. My position is, “I don’t know but I don’t believe”. It might be the exact same answer you’d give about the existence of Big Foot, Unicorns and pixies (which are similar to gods, IMO). There was nothing in my post that suggested “I know there are no gods”.
        2. I don’t have evidence for this faith of mine, I hold it as a provisional belief because it seems rational based on laws of causality in this universe. They may not have applied “before” the BB, and Krauss may be right. I will admit I don’t understand the science (I also don’t understand the double slit experiment… So, Krauss could be right).
        3. I tend to hold a mental picture of a sea of undifferentiated energy that randomly creates universes, like an eternally large pot of water produces bubbles in hot locations. This is my place holder for the Cause of the Universe. Yours is a man with a beard… or something..;-)
        4. The eternal and infinite sea of net-0, undifferentiated energy needs no explanation for its existence, just like your god.
        5. The point is, I can invent – just like the writers of the Bible – a “Thing” to exist “before” the BB as a reason for our existence, and you can’t prove otherwise.
        6. You are welcome to read more about this on my blog – which you suggested I start! Thanks! (I am editing my first post and will publish over the weekend)

      5. I’m afraid your mental picture of the sea of energy is as unscientific as your view of God as a man with a beard is untheological….and I can’t read your blog because it won’t allow me to…

      6. David:
        1. Try this: http://atheistcatalyst.wordpress.com/ I’m not sure why you can’t view it… User error on one end or the other… :-/
        2. My image of a “sea of undifferentiated energy” may not be scientific, but neither is the vision of an invisible, disembodied Mind. We both agree that the Big Bang took energy. At least we agree on that. After that, I can’t see how you arrive at a better conclusion especially because you base your opinion on an 8,000 year old scientist, and I base mine on modern scientists.
        3. But, i am not a scientists and from what I hear, even the smartest scientists don’t have a clear picture of what might thev caused the BB (if it was caused). Having a provisional mental picture is no burden to anyone. I only offer it as a possible option.
        4. Your position seems to be that you KNOW what caused the universe. I find this undefensible and rather, if you will, irrational. Perhaps in further conversations, you will be able to clarify this 8,000 year old hypothesis?

      7. Got it…you lost me immediately at ‘an infinite number of things could have created the universe’! And I don’t base my opinion on an 8,000 year old scientist. I think it would be better for you if you actually found out what a position is before you attack it!

      8. And, so as not to seem smarmy, “I know there is no God” should read “I do know it is not God.” A subtle difference, but I like to be accurate.

      9. Curlew, if you want to read more about my views on this, see: http://wp.me/pXpcK-5

        The problem is, the “Thing” that caused the universe could be ANYTHING. It’s outside of space, time and anything familiar to us. Sure, it could just, oh-so-conveniently, be the Perfect Being of your childhood religion, or it could be an infinite number of other things – including impersonal Beings, natural phenomenon, or anything… literally anything. There is no conclusion we can draw from the fact the the universe MAY have had a Cause (and, it may not have). That I believe it did doesn’t make me right about it. nor anyone else.

      10. David – I’m sorry I lost you. Let me switch gears. “Before” the Big Bang, what were the limits on what Being could exist? What rules were in place that would limit the kinds of Beings that could exist, uncaused?

  16. David
    It was Martyn Lloyd-Jones who said that the authority of the Scriptures was not a matter to be defended but a truth to be asserted because “There is nothing that really explains the whole world situation, as it is today, except the Bible.” As for Jesus, he says that “‘Christianity is Christ’. It is not a philosophy, indeed it is not even a religion. It is the good news that ‘God hath visited and redeemed his people’ and that He has done so by sending His only begotten Son into this world, to live, die, and rise again. Our Lord Jesus Christ is the ‘ Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last’. In other words He is the one authority.

    And if you want to be uplifted by that thought, then listen online to Dr Richard Pratt’s exposition of the Lord’s Prayer delivered at the Tron Church last Sunday morning. Truly wonderful.

    1. That’s an excellent point, Brent. It seems religionists are quick to beg for their Faith to be respected, then are just as quick to tell everyone how all other religions are ridiculous. Jesus never taught that we should have respect for other religions – so why are Christians begging for respect for Religion in general? It comes across as opportunistic bedfellowing…

      1. Brent – are you congratulating yourself?! I can’t speak for other Christians but I would never argue for respect for religion in general. I call for respect for people. Religion often does a great deal of harm…Almost as much as atheism.

      2. David – 1. I have fun with this. I wanted to add something to my post, and it seemed a fun way of doing it.
        2. I bet you can’t speak for other Christians! How could one! For example, I saw a poll that said that 30% of Christians don’t believe Jesus rose from the dead… (Sprong would be proud!). The irony is that every Christian is in the minority for their belief. I see this as a bug in Christianity, not a feature.
        3. Aren’t atheists people? You say “atheists” like they are another species.

      3. Anyone who does not believe that Jesus is alive is a Christian.

        Atheists are people…thats why they are morally culpable for their disbelief

      4. 1. And, yet, they claim otherwise. Unless you are Super Pope, I don’t think you get to dictate who is or isn’t a Christian.
        2. You equated religion (non-person) with atheists (people). Perhaps it was sloppy thinking or writing?

      5. YOur first point doesn’t make any sense – it is quite possible to say who a Christian is. SOmeone who follows the Christ who rose from the dead. You don’t believe in the Risen Christ you are de facto not a Christian.

        Your second point doesn’t make any sense at all.

      6. David – 1. Ignorance in your religion is no excuse to demand people accept your view of it.

        “Do you have to believe this (the Resurrection) to “be a Christian?” I would say not. I would say that what it takes to “be a Christian” is to want to be a Christian. The more you believe and the more you practice the things that Jesus taught, the stronger a Christian you will be.”

        –The Rev. William A. Kolb

        “So, no, I don’t think that to be a Christian we have to believe that Christ literally, bodily rose from the dead and that he literally, bodily ascended into heaven.”

        –Rev. Margaret B. Gunness

        I can find more if you’d like, but I’m sure you are going to call these Christians “fake Christians” or something – as if you get to decide…

      7. Yep – you got it. No one can be a Christian who does not follow Christ – thats what the word means. Just like you can’t be a Rangers supporter if you don’t support Rangers, or a socialist if you don’t accept socialism. The notion that anyone can be whatever they say they are is worthy of the irrationality of atheism, but for us rational Christians it just doesn’t work!

      8. David: You are on record here and I think this shows the sloppiness of your thinking.. You said “SOmeone who follows the Christ who rose from the dead. You don’t believe in the Risen Christ you are de facto not a Christian.”
        Now you are saying “No one can be a Christian who does not follow Christ – thats what the word means.”
        Suddenly you have dropped the “risen” part… So quick to deny? Shall I call you Peter?

        Again, ignorance of your religion is no excuse to demand people accept your view of it.
        “Do you have to believe this (the Resurrection) to “be a Christian?” I would say not. I would say that what it takes to “be a Christian” is to want to be a Christian. The more you believe and the more you practice the things that Jesus taught, the stronger a Christian you will be.”
        –The Rev. William A. Kolb

        (Note: no mention that one has to believe in the Risen Christ, or Christ, only what the human being Jesus taught.)

        “So, no, I don’t think that to be a Christian we have to believe that Christ literally, bodily rose from the dead and that he literally, bodily ascended into heaven.”
        –Rev. Margaret B. Gunness

        (Note: no mention that one has to believe in the Risen Christ – bodily or otherwise.)

        I can find more if you’d like, but I’m sure you are going to call these Christians “fake Christians” or something – as if you get to decide…

        The definition of “Christian” is as subjective as it gets.

      9. Oh dear – you are getting a bit desperate (and illogical)….following Christ means following the risen Christ – just how far do you think you can follow a dead person?!

        And yes – those who don’t believe that Jesus is alive are not followers of Christ….its really not that difficult to work out!

      10. David: You said, “just how far do you think you can follow a dead person?!” Well, you tell us! I say we all follow dead men – to the grave. So, yes, a Christian is one who follows Jesus to the grave.

    2. David – in what way, then, is allowing schools to teach your religion not in conflict with your position? Are are you talking about nebulous “christian ideals”? Can you expand on your idea that we should respect people but not religions, but that you should teach religious ideas in schools? It seem muddled.

  17. David

    First off, I follow the debates on your blog with some interest, albeit I no longer attend church. I’ve even been know to agree with some of what you write! Second, while I am sympathetic to the substance of some of Dawkin’s arguments, I’m much less sympathetic to the way in which they are sometimes presented, especially by some of his ‘followers’. I certainly don’t approve of the name calling you mention in your post. At the same time, I’m not sure what your point is. By itself, it neither undermines an atheist position nor strengthens your own. The internet is full of trolls and other unpleasant individuals that believe its relative anonymity gives them leave for a level of discourtesy one would hope they would not demonstrate were they to meet their opponents face-to-face. .

    My comment relates to John Lennox. The the fact he has ‘a degree in science’ does not make him a scientist in the conventional sense. At the risk of being facetious I could point out that the University of Derby, for example, offers a ‘science degree’, BSc (Hons) in Spa Management. Nothing wrong with that, if that’s what you want to do, and I’m sure there’s nothing wrong with the course. Equally, you have an arts degree. That doesn’t make you an artist. Actually, Lennox’s first degree is a Cambridge MA. Of course he also has a DSc, a higher doctorate and recognition of his substantial achievements as a mathematician.

    John Lennox’s views on evolution are not the views of an expert in the subject. They are the views of a layman. That’s fine – he and his supporters are entitled to them – but it is dishonest to use his undoubted excellent academic credentials to lend support to them. If, ‘as a scientist’. he believes evolution by natural selection is unable to explain ‘the origin of species’ and that ID provides a better explanation, his views should be submitted with supporting evidence to the appropriate academic community for peer review. I’d be interested to hear of a scientist working in the field of evolutionary biology that supports ID as an alternative to neo-darwinism.

    More importantly to me at least is that fact that prominent scientist theologians like Polkinghorne, McGrath and Ian Barbour (to name a few) are all pretty dismissive of ID, at least as an alternative to evolution in the way Lennox seems to espouse. While McGrath concedes that proponents of ID make some useful points, McGrath’s position is more nuanced than that of Lennox and closer to the weak anthropic principle position of Polkinghorne who argues merely that the apparent ‘fruitful potential’ of the universe is suggestive (nothing more) of the existence of a creator. As an aside, it’s perhaps worth noting that Polkinghorne and McGrath have views of scripture that perhaps wouldn’t be especially palatable to many reformed evangelicals.

    While I think reasonable arguments for God’s existence can be presented, I’m reminded of Cardinal Newman’s assertion that far from achieving their intended purpose, arguments from design tend to dispose one towards unbelief. I think it’s a pity that in its response to Dawkin’s sometimes over the top criticisms of theism, parts of the church have followed a course that, that to my mind at least, doesn’t really help their cause.

    Apologies if some of this is slightly off topic.

  18. Brent
    “…..Sure, it could just, oh-so-conveniently, be the Perfect Being of your childhood religion,….”
    I think David’s mentioned this already – you should resist the temptation to fill people in on what they themselves believe 🙂 The comments are hard to track in this format but I think you said somewhere that you like to be accurate; well, there you’ve got one simple way instantly to cut down your inaccuracy.

    “….The problem is, the “Thing” that caused the universe could be ANYTHING…..”
    Not really. Conceptually speaking, all it can be is an uncaused cause; it is that purely by definition. But “uncaused cause” is precisely the key term in any definition of the God of the Bible.

    “…..It’s outside of space, time and anything familiar to us…… it could be an infinite number of other things – including impersonal Beings, natural phenomenon, or anything… literally anything….”
    I’m not with you. How could it be a natural phenomenon?

    “… There is no conclusion we can draw from the fact the the universe MAY have had a Cause (and, it may not have). …”
    You’re covering all your bases there. Right enough, any proposition cast in the form “EITHER x, OR not-x is the case” is certain to be supremely uninformative.
    I retract my congratulations on grasping the axiom that whatever has a beginning has a cause :-p You’re apparently using the term “cause” in an oddball way of your own.
    The way forward is probably for you to supply your definition.

    1. 1. People’s metaphysical beliefs are impossible to figure out. Consider Jesus. He was supposed to have been God Incarnate yet 3 major religions and 30,000 denominations later people are still trying to figure out what he believed. Fill in whatever you want, but it’s going to be unverifiable if it includes a belief about how the universe was (or wasn’t) caused.
      2a. No, we can’t even say the Cause of the universe was uncaused. It could have been caused by some other uncaused thing. WLC likes to say the universe, and God’s existence, happened at the same moment. But why stop at two things if guessing? Why not claim 7 things happened at once? Or 700?
      Again, it’s pure speculation. Certainly, there is no reason to pick your favorite answer then assume it’s true, and then make more assumptions on top of it.
      2b. Just because Yahweh is described as an “uncaused cause” in the Bible makes no difference. The definition hasn’t been verified. I could call the Empire State Building the tallest building in the world, and without verification, that claim would pass as a knowledge claim. Of course, we know it’s a false claim. Therefore, there is no connection between what the Bible claims and what might actually be true.
      3. If we take ‘natural’ to mean a “less-than-personal entity” we can see there is an infinite number of possible entities that caused the universe. From something that approaches 0 to something that falls just short of a personal being. (Let’s say a personal being is 50 on a scale from 1-100. The cause could be an infinite number of things from 1 to 49. Let’s say Yahweh is 100. That means there are also an infinite number of personal beings (but not gods) that could have caused the universe. There is simply no way of knowing).
      4a. Are you telling me, that from your vantage point, you KNOW how the universe began? I don’t even KNOW there was a Big Bang! (I accept the scientists claim because they have verified it through mathematics and peer-review, but I, personally, with my level of knowledge of the subject can’t definitively say there absolutely was a Big Bang. Importantly, if the BB was overturned tomorrow, theists and atheists would still hold to their positions – that’s because we can’t conclude anything from the BB or lack of it.)
      4b. Save your congratulations for people who care about your opinion. I am only interested in discussing the topic, not giving out awards to people who think the “right way”. My point should be clear. While I intuitively thing the BB would entail a cause, the same people who have done the science on the BB don’t necessarily agree. Why would I be so stupid to accept one claim over another when I don’t understand the science as well as they do? Would you have me do this with the Bible? Assume Aquinas is more correct than Calvin without understanding the subject? Some scientists claim the BB needs no cause. Ergo, the BB may not have had a cause. What am I supposed to do? Tell them they are wrong “’cause my intuition tells me so?”
      My intuition tells me I am sitting still, yet, science says we are rocketing through space at 1.3 million miles per hour. Should I tell they are wrong about that too?
      Because of intuition?

      1. Brent,

        you say
        “….If we take ‘natural’ to mean a “less-than-personal entity” …”

        What a peculiar definition. No, I don’t take it to mean that. Then how about

        “….. WLC likes to say the universe, and God’s existence, happened at the same moment……”
        Of course he doesn’t, and he’s never going to. He isn’t a pantheist. Who told you he was? you didn’t read that in his own writings (or maybe I should just say, you didn’t read his own writings :-p).

        It helps sometimes to simplify in order to clarify.
        1) There has to be SOMETHING that is self-existent, that is, uncaused: otherwise there would be nothing in existence.

        2) That SOMETHING must be
        EITHER
        (a) the universe itself;
        OR
        (b) an uncaused cause thereof.
        If you think there’s a third alternative, I’d be fascinated to hear what it is.

        3) Option (a), an eternally self-existent universe, turned out to be scientifically untenable, so what does that leave??
        Uncaused cause of everything that exists is simply another way of expressing the concept of a transcendent creator, aka God: the two are conceptually synonymous. While in process of establishing that, it’s premature to throw in red herrings about the identity and/or secondary attributes of that God: the point is the absolute necessity of postulating such a being.

        Atheistic scientists fought hard for Hoyle’s Steady State theory, precisely to avoid this uncomfortable (to them) alternative, but the Steady State theory couldn’t be made to hold water.
        The Big Bang was resisted hard likewise, precisely because it pointed to a necessary cause.

        It does point to a necessary cause, and no amount of obfuscation can change that.

      2. When you say “universe” do you mean the observable universe, the space-time bubble (which is how physicists talk about the observable universes laws, or everything?

      3. Also, as i have successfully argued, a “trancendental creator” could mean anything. It could be non-personal. You simply haven’t addressed this part of the problem.
        Prove to us a Necessary Cause must be personal and nothing else.
        I dare say you cant, and nothing about Creation points to a personal creator.
        Btw, im sure you are familiar with the “less than personal-vs-not less than personal” description of the cause, so i am worried you are either disingenuous or ignorant. If you have another option, let me know.

      4. I can’t prove a personal Creator to someone who de facto refuses to accept the possibility. You are right – we are left with a personal choice – we either accept that the universe is impersonal and that your personality comes from impersonality – or we accept that our personalness is reflective of a greater person. You choose…

      5. Note: you will see i am not arguing against, necessarily, against a timeless, spaceless, “transcendent” cause – i am challenging you to prove it is what you say it is: worthy of worship, all knowing, all powerful, perfectly moral, loving, just, and personal.
        Or, i will only ask you to demonstrate the cause is, minimally, not less than personal: Go!

      6. 1. I don’t, de facto, refuse to accept the possibility of a personal creator. So, you are now welcome to prove a creator to me. (2. Do you, de facto, refuse to accept a non-personal creator?)
        3. However, while you may feel that Reality can simply be chosen, I don’t. I also am not prone to gush over the power of vague non sequiturs about how ‘if we are persons, then the universe must have been made by a person.’ (4. How, then, do you explain the non-persons – were they made by a non-personal God?)
        5. BTW, how did God gain his personhood – from something personal or impersonal? (Not that I expect an answer beyond “Gods existence or properties need no explanation” 6. Which, is the route I could take (e.g., “The impersonal creator of the universe needs no explanation” – but I am more intellectually brave than that!)
        7. Also, i’d encourage you to read a little William Lane Craig about why he thinks the Cause of the universe was personal. It’s not very convincing, but it’s much better than “only persons come from persons”.
        8. I repeat my challenge for you to demonstrate the Cause of the Universe was personal. Picking 0.0000000000082% of the mass of the Earth (can you imagine compared to the mass of the universe?) as an example of this Personal God’s attention to personhood seems to argue the direct opposite you intend. Measure it how you will, but while personhood is important to you, it is not the most obvious feature of this universe – only the most appealing to you.
        9. Choosing does not mean it’s true.

  19. Sadly it is not just aggressive atheistic groups wishing to exclude Christ .But ministers sessions and presbyteries who exclude families for promoting Christian faith. perhaps the scottish secular society and General assembly should meet together they clearly have a lot in common

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