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Author Topic:   Is science atheism?
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Message 23 of 126 (886235)
05-11-2021 3:43 PM
Reply to: Message 20 by Phat
05-09-2021 6:08 PM

Re: Science Rejects The Supernatural Pending
If a supernatural realm were to actually exist, however...there would never be a way to prove it.
That would also hold true if the supernatural does not actually exist.
Exists or doesn't exist, doesn't matter. The result is still the same.
We cannot objectively determine anything about the supernatural, not even its very existence. So we end up trying to imagine what we can about it.
Thus it is not entirely a product of carny sideshows...though the majority of it likely is.
While it does provide grist for carny sideshow mills, it's more like nerds fixating on popular media, like comic books, and arguing over them, sometimes seriously.
Somebody comes up with an idea about the supernatural, more like a guess. Then somebody else plays off of that guess with his own guesses. And it grows and spreads from there. Like a parlour game, only they take it seriously.
Sure, they'll try to make their extrapolations logical, but they're still operating within a logic system which may only make sense within that system and not in the real world.
For example, we see this process at work in the The Big Bang Theory episode where the girls try to figure out what the guys see in comic books (the guys are away at a Star Trek convention). They read Thor and get embroiled in a heated argument about who can lift Mjölnir (Thor's Hammer) and why it "works that way".
"Does the hammer decide?"
"It can't decide. It's a hammer!"
"It's a magic hammer."
"Yeah, but it can't make decisions."
"If Harry Potter's wand can make decisions, then why can't Thor's hammer?"
"OK, if you're going to compare wands and hammers, then I can't take you seriously."
Kind of sounds like some of the exchanges here.
Though as Captain America points out about putting the hammer in an elevator, "The elevator's not worthy." (

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 Message 20 by Phat, posted 05-09-2021 6:08 PM Phat has not replied

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Message 34 of 126 (886426)
05-19-2021 6:33 PM
Reply to: Message 24 by marc9000
05-15-2021 3:39 PM

Re: Non-Creation Christianity
... non-creation Christianity ...
Uh, what the hell are you talking about? There is virtually no such thing as "non-creation Christianity."
Most Christians believe in one of the many ideas about "God" that exist within Christianity -- strictly speaking, there exists as many "God ideas" as there are believers, one per each individual believer since everyone creates their own version of "God", but for purposes of discussion we can amalgamate them into a single "Christian God". Similarly, Christian doctrine, that which is taught in Christianity, differs from one denomination/sect/congregation to the next, but there are still some features with are common between all those different versions of Christian doctrine.
All forms of Christian doctrine that I am aware of teach that the "Christian God" is the Creator of the universe (or at the very least of the world). That would make "non-creation Christianity" an oxymoron like "vegetable athletics", "military intelligence", "creation science", or "Republican honesty".
So what the hell are you talking about? You are making absolutely no sense at all! Do you have any clue what you are babbling about?
Kenneth Miller is more of a science guy than a representative of non-creation Christianity.
Dr. Kenneth Miller, PhD Biology, has been a very effective opponent of creationism. In his essay, Scientific Creationism versus Evolution: The Mislabeled Debate (Science and Creationism, edited by Ashley Montegu, 1984 -- many of the essays cover the trial for the 1981 Arkansas law, McLean v. Arkansas), Dr Miller writes (my bold font added):
The Scientific Creationists
We being with a dilemma. Who are the creationists? Simply stated, a creationist should be anyone who believes in creation, in a universe formed by a supreme being. In other words, a creationist is someone who believes in God. By that standard of ordinary usage, I am a creationist (I'm a Roman Catholic), and so is any other scientist who professes a religious belief. However, in the context in which I must write this article, ordinary usage will not do. We will be forced to use another definition for the word creationist, a definition which has been forced on us by the current of the political debate in the United States. In this sense, a creationist is someone who believes that each and every kind of living organism was directly created by a supreme being, and that no organisms have arisen by the process of descent with modification advanced by Charlies Darwin more than a century ago. In short, a creationist is an antievolutionist.
Here's a fun fact: There is no inherent conflict between Divine Creation and Evolution. There is no inherent conflict between religion and science. The only conflict that can arise is solely because of individuals and groups who choose to advance false teachings.
Creationism is completely different from Creation (and belief therein).
Creationism is about lying about reality, about evolution, about science, and even about Christianity. Creationism is about false theology that effectively teaches that if the world is actually how we find it to be, then God does not exist. And creationism is about deliberate deception.
Yes, the majority of Christians, while believing in Creation and in a Creator, are not creationists!
Indeed, since there is no such thing as your "non-creation Christianity", you are clearly on the side of the lies and deception of creationism.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 24 by marc9000, posted 05-15-2021 3:39 PM marc9000 has replied

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Message 35 of 126 (886428)
05-19-2021 7:45 PM
Reply to: Message 32 by marc9000
05-19-2021 6:17 PM

Re: Non-Creation Christianity
The main goal of all atheist organizations in the USA is two-fold:
  1. To provide atheists contact with like-minded people. Before the Internet, that was a serious problem as those who left religion were isolated individuals having to go through deconversion all alone and not knowing of even the existence of anyone else.
    The experience of Dan Barker, former Fundamentalist preacher who had been raised in Fundamentalism, is emblematic. Going through his own deconversion (caused by his realization that he just could not believe in that nonsense any longer) in Southern California in the early 1980's, everybody he knew was through his church so he was entirely alone. The very first time he ever met a fellow atheist was in an interview he participated in on a TV show. She was from the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) in Michigan, about 2000 miles away. He ended up moving there, marrying her, and working with the FFRF which has earned him the title of "America's Leading Atheist."
    Deconversion can be painful, especially if you are leaving the religion that was the only thing you knew your entire life. If you doubt that, then read through the testimonials on -- though your own religion has obviously made you a cold heartless bigot who is incapable of any human emotion, let alone any shred of empathy. Having to go through that process (which cannot be stopped once you start to think no matter how hard you try) alone with absolutely no support can be very painful. Especially when your old community forces all your old friends and family to shun you, even your spouse (Dan Barker's church made his wife divorce him).
    It turns out that when Dan Barker was going through that painful process there was an atheist community practically next door to him that he knew nothing about: Atheists United in Los Angeles. I first heard about him on Atheists United's weekly 15-minute radio show which played the presentation he gave at a recent monthly meeting of theirs. In that presentation he cried out, "Where were you when I needed you?". Instead, since he had no knowledge of their existence, he had to travel more than half-way across the country to find other atheists.
    I would point out here that AU had only 15 minutes of radio air time per week which they no longer have. Compare that quarter hour of reason with the thousands of hours of radio time that televangelists have to spread their nonsense. And you would dare to complain about our 15 minutes? So much for your hypocritical crying about being denied free speech!
  2. Opposing religion's attempts to use the government to promote their own religion. Such as in having government agencies (which public schools are) conduct Protestant indoctrination on children of all religious backgrounds including non-Protestant and non-Christian, including forcing children to use sectarian Protestant prayers.
    Review your history (a foreign concept for you, I understand). The reason why there is such a thing as the parochial school system is because the public schools of the time were under Protestant control, so the Catholic students were forced to say Protestant prayers, study from the Protestant bible, and be indoctrinated in Protestantism. Catholics complaining about this situation would either get nowhere or far worse -- when in the late 1800's the bishop or archbishop of Philadelphia asked that Catholic students be allowed to use the Catholic bible and say Catholic prayers that triggered days of violent anti-Catholic rioting that killed dozens of people.
    BTW, the first school prayer case was in 1940's New York and involved a Jewish family protesting their children being forced by the schools to say Christian prayers (as if Jews had never before suffered any other harm from Christians).
    So any political involvement of atheist organizations is to counter the religious tyranny promoted by the far larger and more powerful Christian organizations (most of them Protestant).
I would also refer you to common experience as innumerable Protestant groups engage in aggressive proselytizing. They all want to convert you, to get you to abandon your own beliefs and become clones of them.
What do atheist groups want? What are they striving for? Here it is in a nutshell: Please keep your religion to yourself and leave us the fuck alone.
Are those two positions in any way equivalent? If you are truly so deluded as to think that they are, then please tell us exactly and in detail why you would think such a thing.
For that matter, please explain to us exactly and in detail why you object so strongly to the mere existence of atheist groups.

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 Message 32 by marc9000, posted 05-19-2021 6:17 PM marc9000 has not replied

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Message 51 of 126 (886483)
05-21-2021 4:56 PM
Reply to: Message 42 by Phat
05-21-2021 11:10 AM

Re: Non-Creation Christianity
Though you will argue that atheism is not a religion nor an object of worship,
Well, atheism is not a religion. To define it as such would require stretching the definition of "religion" to the breaking point by classifying any position regarding religion as a religion in itself. It doesn't make any sense.
Also, you are committing the all too common theist fallacy of attributing your own attitudes to others. I forget which of Piaget's stages of development and when young children grow out of it (I'm pretty sure it's at a pre-K age). I also forget what it's called (it's only been 40 years since I had that class), but it's where the child doesn't realize that other people are different from themselves mainly in terms of what they think and what they know (test: the child sees an adult hide a toy inside a box and then another adult enters the room looking for that toy. The child cannot understand why the second adult doesn't know what she knows).
I guess I should also include Dan Barker's statement: "Fundamentalism is where your theology becomes your psychology." He had been raised a fundamentalist and became a fundamentalist minister after God personally called him to it. He grew up hearing his mother singing in tongues while doing the housework. BTW, Dan Barker is now known as "America's Leading Atheist."
I assume that you are also aware that Christians of a certain persuasion (ie, fundamentalist types, though they shun their fellow fundamentalist groups ("Please do not confuse me with those heretics!") ) have their own special counselors. Christian counselors use many of the same techniques as counselors for normals, but those "true Christians" require that everything be about their god so Christian counseling has to always twist itself to use "God" to motivate the patient. During the divorce, I had friends in Rick Warren's megachurch's singles ministry (I had been recruited to participate in their dance classes which were imbalanced at 100 women and only 50 men -- the church pastors kept freaking out over having dancing there (Joke: "Why do Baptists oppose people having sex while standing up? Because they're afraid it might lead to dancing") ). They talked me into attending their DivorceCare program which turned out to be worse than useless ("You can never recover from divorce. Only Jesus can cure you."). Another local megachurch hosted weekly presentations by two Christian counselors. They used most of the same techniques as normals' counselors (eg, setting boundaries, avoid associating with people who would lead you astray) and would even make a lot of sense, but then at the end they would always twist it around to "God" and destroy their own argument (eg, "Why should you do what you need to be healthy and happy? Because that's what Jesus wants for you." (they actually literally said that)).
You are attributing your own ideas and attitudes to others. You're all about worshipping and feel driven to worship, so you cannot understand when others are not driven to worship anything. So like so many other theists who have come before you over the decades, you assume that atheists also worship and then you have to dream up things to accuse them of worshipping. All while atheists actually do not feel any compulsion nor desire to worship anything. You cannot comprehend anyone thinking differently than you.
"True Christians" have the same problem misunderstanding education. The goal of education is that the students understand the subject matter, not for them to be compelled to believe those ideas. "True Christians" cannot understand that because all of their "education" is in the form of indoctrination which requires the student to believe in what you're indoctrinating them in. My favorite personal counter example was the US Air Force teaching us NCOs Marxism and Communism not for the purpose of turning us in commie Marxists as "true Christians" would say, but rather to help us know our enemy (this was in 1982 during the Cold War -- yes, I am a veteran Cold Warrior). The most striking example of that "true Christian" misunderstanding of education was when I told a creationist that he needed to correct his gross misunderstanding of evolution by studying it and learning the actual science. He reacted very strongly against that and refused to learn evolution because "that would require me to believe in evolution!".
Please do not foist your foibles upon us.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 42 by Phat, posted 05-21-2021 11:10 AM Phat has not replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 52 by Raphael, posted 05-21-2021 10:21 PM dwise1 has replied

Posts: 5972
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Member Rating: 5.2

Message 73 of 126 (886538)
05-23-2021 12:26 PM
Reply to: Message 57 by Raphael
05-22-2021 9:06 PM

Re: Non-Creation Christianity
As a theist, I believe by faith that a God exists. This is not testable and therefore a truth claim based on faith.
The atheist ( I know this is not quite your position nwr) believes by faith that no God exists. This is not testable and therefore a truth claim based on faith.
Except you are misstating the atheist position and hence misrepresenting it. And in doing so you have created a strawman argument.
While some will go there, atheism is not about the existence of the gods (so many more gods have been created than just yours, you should know). Rather, it's that we don't buy your (plural) stories and assertions about your own particular gods.
Theists keep trying to sell us a bill of goods, a pig in a poke, Florida swamp land, the Brooklyn Bridge, and our response is "No thanks." That's the basic atheist position. Do any gods actually exist? Maybe, who knows? Who could possibly know? It is in the very nature of the supernatural that we humans can never have any objective knowledge of the supernatural (and even subjective "knowledge" can only be highly suspect), not the least of which is whether the supernatural even exists.
That is why agnosticism is the only truthful and rational position to take (outside of ignosticism): We cannot know anything about the supernatural. We cannot perceive it, we cannot observe it, we cannot test it, we cannot even tell whether it exists. That is also the reason that science does not include the supernatural, because it cannot even begin to work with it.
From that point, all we can do is make assumptions on the matter of the supernatural. Basically two assumptions: theistic or non-theistic -- though we may find that that is still too high-level. Within both of those basic assumptions there is a lot of latitude for the conclusions reached.
Basically, the theistic assumption is that the supernatural exists and that there exist powerful supernatural entities -- this is how we created the gods. The stories about the gods grew over time and continue to grow, becoming religions in which worshippers attempt to placate and cajole those gods to spare those worshippers, grant them their wishes, or otherwise control them. An interesting aspect of all these stories of created gods evolving into religious doctrines is that they become very extensive and extremely complex (extreme complexity being a common product of evolutionary processes), very intricate and highly detailed. Which is amazing given that there was no way for any human to have gathered that amount of information about the supernatural, something that is humanly impossible to observe, etc. So basically, it's all made up.
There's kind of a gray area between the two assumptions which may indicate that theistic/non-theistic is not the proper line of demarcation here. In the discussion above one thing that is missing is the theist's lack of awareness of the necessity of agnosticism. Basically, they just assume that their made-up stuff is true and that somehow their predecessors were not only able to gain perfect knowledge of the supernatural but were able to transmit that perfect knowledge perfectly generation after generation for millennia.
However, there must also be theists who remain aware of the necessity of agnosticism, such that their theism includes the knowledge that there are problems with their doctrine. I would anticipate that they would be more thoughtful and less dogmatic and more open to discussion, but then we don't hear from them that much. Like honest creationists (who do sincere research), they don't go out to do battle like the dishonest creationists are driven to.
Another part of that gray area could be atheists who accept the possibility that the supernatural exists. So if the line of demarcation turned out to be supernatural-yes versus supernatural-no then this would be supernatural-maybe-but-it-doesn't-matter which would not lend itself very easily to pigeon-holing. Maybe the depletion zone at a PN junction would offer an analogy, though the effects of forward and reverse biasing might not apply (refer to basic diode theory).
Choosing the atheistic/non-theistic assumption would mainly be a rejection of the theistic assumption as untenable, unsupported, ill-conceived, and just plain not making any sense. It's not primarily a position of "God does not exist" (which makes no statement about Ganesha -- Christians seem to be drawn to this particular definition of the atheist position because it sounds enough like it's anti-Christian and anti-YHWH so as to serve their hypocritical persecution rhetorics). Rather, it's strong skepticism about the existence of the supernatural let alone the gods (ie, if the supernatural does not exist, then neither can supernatural entities; eg, if the American nation of Poyais did not exist, then neither would any of the kings of Poyais -- it didn't exist but rather was a scam) and whether it even matters. That can range from accepting that the evidence for the supernatural is so non-existent that one can safely assume that the supernatural does not exist to not denying the possibility that the supernatural might exist (who can tell, after all?) we still cannot do anything with it so what does it matter?
More specifically, atheism is often a reaction against the prevailing religion which is most frequently motivated by self-defense against theists seeking to gain political power to impose their religion on everybody else; eg, school prayer (which Jesus taught against, but since when did Christians care about what Jesus said?), destroying education (eg, science, history), curtailing or eliminating reproductive rights (eg, birth control), silencing any criticism of them. On a more personal level, the motivation can come from the umpteenth proselytizer using the same tired old tricks (most of which I had learned with the Jesus Freaks half a century ago) and the same tired old false assertions about atheists.
Basically, they're trying to pressure and trick us into buying their theology while arrogantly ignoring the facts of the weaknesses and problems with it that we are all too aware of and familiar with. They're trying to sell us a pig in a poke (which more often than not turns out to be a dead cat) and our response is "No!" So for that you call us "arrogant"?
It's not really that hard to understand lol, at least in my view, but maybe I'm missing something.
No, it's not hard to understand. As long as you stop making it so hard. Hopefully you're starting to think it through.
Besides, not only have I been an atheist myself for a time, ...
One of those, huh? So many times Christians and especially creationists will claim "I used to be an atheist for many years." or "I was raised an evolutionist and studied it for years before I learned the truth." But they always had the oddest misconceptions about atheism and the "former evolutionists" demonstrated repeatedly that they didn't understand a single thing about evolution, but rather all they "knew" were the lies that the creationists had taught them.
For example, a local creationist activist repeatedly claims that he used to be an atheist and he even tells the story of how "evolution had turned him into an atheist when he was in jr high" -- I can pass that text on to you if you want. But as the story clearly shows, it was his own Christian training that had him "become an atheist" (though he was only pretending to be an atheist in order to satisfy his "bubbling hormones" and to sin without guilt). The only role that evolution had played was as a convenient excuse. Indeed, throughout his years of "atheism" he continued to believe in God and prayed to God every night -- he freely admitted that. And now he proclaims that he knows why people become atheists: they want to escape responsibility for their actions. That's ironic since the rules-based morality they promote is the same as the "N├╝rnberg Defense" and as was studied in the infamous Milgram Experiment in which normal people can commit the most heinous acts as long as an authority figure (such as God) assumes the responsibility. In contrast to theists transferring responsibility to their gods, atheists accept personal responsibility for their own actions. He is firmly convinced of that and refuses to listen to reason because that is why he had pretended to be an atheist.
But more often, I suspect that it's their having no understanding of atheism so that they think that they had been atheists when they weren't. For example, many people who become religious have the story of how they had become religious which included a prior period of time when they weren't. Maybe they were nominally religious, being dragged by their parents to show up and put in their pew time. Or they had grown up in another church or religion. Or no religious background. While they had undoubtedly felt a general apathy about religion, there wouldn't have been a decision of "Uh, no thank you." which I would associate with being an atheist.
Of course, actual mileage may vary in individual cases.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 57 by Raphael, posted 05-22-2021 9:06 PM Raphael has replied

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Message 74 of 126 (886553)
05-23-2021 4:37 PM
Reply to: Message 52 by Raphael
05-21-2021 10:21 PM

Re: Non-Creation Christianity
Sorry your experience with a church and Christians during that time sucked and you did not feel valued. We are almost always our own worst enemy.
Yeah, here we go again. It's amazing how much Christians' training misinforms them about atheists and atheism. Your "atheist arrogance" below is another example.
I decided I needed to learn more about what I was supposed to believe as a Christian, so I started reading the Bible. What I read was so incredibly incredible (as in "unbelievable") that I realized that if I could not believe any of it, then I shouldn't be there. BTW, I'm not the only person for whom reading the Bible led to atheism.
The mistake I had made was assuming biblical literalism which I'm not even sure was part of my church's doctrine. But then half a decade later along came the Jesus Freak Movement and the sudden growth of fundamentalism. Now biblical literalism was de rigueur and it still made no sense. With that and also having learned about Christian history informed me that having left Christianity was a good decision. Then I started studying "creation science" and encountering creationists -- a culture of lies and deception practiced by some of the worst people I've ever encountered. Truly the wicked fruit which causes Christianity to fail the Matthew 7:20 Test.
That said, I just wanted to respond to this statement. While I agree atheism is not a religion, it is a belief and sometimes even a set of beliefs depending what brand of atheism you subscribe to.
So just believing something makes it like a religion? Like being a Democrat or a Republican? Or choosing Windows over Apple? Or believing that coffee ice cream is better than vanilla?
There is no atheist doctrine nor dogma. There is no atheist proselytizing. Every atheist is different since every atheist had arrived there in his own way. The most basic thing that we have in common is that we don't buy what theists are trying to force us to buy. For that you call us "arrogant", whereas the true arrogance in all that is in Christians' thinking that they have a right to force their beliefs on everybody else.
Here's a test demonstrating this: If you were on an abandoned island and you never heard of any religion, would the position you come to naturally be atheism?
You are leaving too much out. In that scenario, am I knowledgeable in how nature works (eg, as we can know through science) or am I an ignorant savage who is prone to superstition? And if your scenario would result in ignorant savages resorting to superstition to try to make some sense of what's happening around, do you think that that would be a good thing? Why would you think that?
Also, your scenario begs of question of what you would call "atheism." To us atheists, it means "not theism." Theism is belief in any or all of the gods. However, the definition I've heard from so many Christians restricts consider to only their peculiar version of YHWH. In addition, I have encountered Christians over the years who seemed to apply "atheist" to other theists. For example, consider the case of Kala in Mumbai. She's a Hindu who worships Ganesha. Atheist or theist? Should be easy except for those who would call her an "atheist" for being of a religion that is different from theirs.
Your scenario reminds me of a story I stumbled upon on a British atheist site several years ago. That story follows a Christian missionary encountering a village that had never heard of any gods or religion before. First he meets two villagers on the road who are fascinated to hear what he has to say even though none of it makes any sense to them, so they invite him to their village.
Everybody crowds into the village square eager to hear what he has to say. Everything he tells them is standard Christian doctrine, but none of it makes any sense to the villagers. They keep asking him questions and ask for clarification, but with every answer they just get more confused. They very honestly want to learn what he has to tell them, but none of it makes any sense. Finally he runs away. As I recall, it is either because he is unable to explain what he believes in order to get it across to them (ie, he had never thought it through completely) or else because he finally realizes himself that what he believes doesn't make any sense (ie, he had never thought it through completely). Either way, the purpose of the scenario was to show that the only way Christian doctrine can make any sense is if we have been conditioned for years to accept it without question.
What objective knower of truth confirmed to you that your belief is true? We have no way of knowing what percentage of knowable information we know about the universe, so to make such a definitive claim is wild to me.
Wow! That's kind of a twisted approach. And yet another instance of believers projecting their own problematic traits onto others, which is rarely a good idea.
In my other reply (Message 73), I covered agnosticism and why it is the necessary approach (namely, because of the human impossibility of being able to know anything at all about the supernatural). When one then takes the theistic approach, one ends up having to invent a god and then make up everything about that god -- of course that happened over generations.
So a theist has to be absolutely sure that he is right, especially in an unforgiving religion like Christianity in which the slightest error in theology can damn you for Eternity (see joke at the end). And for that, theists have your so-called "objective knower of truth" to confirm to them that their belief is true -- except what they choose as their "objective knower of truth" is just one of their religious leaders past or present repeating the dogma that they had already been taught. Quoting from a minor novel: "[When you search for God, y]ou can't go to the people who believe already. They've made up their minds and want to convince you of their own personal heresy."
In contrast, an atheist has not made up an extremely elaborate and intricate theology that would require any "objective knower of truth" to confirm. Rather an atheist is one who has examined your extremely elaborate and intricate theology and decided to pass on it. You don't need any "objective knower of truth" for that! Indeed, you have done the same thing several times in your life, looking at other religions and deciding to pass on them. Did you need some "objective knower of truth" to make those determinations? Or did your sense of smell suffice?
An old joke, now being used in a Red Bull commercial, has two friends about to be killed by a bear. The one stops to put on his running shoes. "Are you crazy? You can't outrun that bear!" "I don't have to. I only need to outrun you."
In effect, you and your elaborate made-up dogma need to be able to outrun that bear, whereas I, by not buying into your dogma, don't need to.
To put it a bit more succinctly, I don't have to submit my beliefs to some Grand Inquisitor for validation. I only need to be satisfied that I cannot believe in your religion.
Adding this joke to illustrate how picayune theology can get as it determines who's save and who's damned:
Once I saw this guy on a bridge about to jump. I said, "Don't do it!" He said, "Nobody loves me." I said, "God loves you. Do you believe in God?"
He said, "Yes." I said, "Are you a Christian or a Jew?" He said, "A Christian." I said, "Me, too! Protestant or Catholic?" He said, "Protestant." I said, "Me, too! What franchise?" He said, "Baptist." I said, "Me, too! Northern Baptist or Southern Baptist?" He said, "Northern Baptist." I said, "Me, too! Northern Conservative Baptist or Northern Liberal Baptist?"
He said, "Northern Conservative Baptist." I said, "Me, too! Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region, or Northern Conservative Baptist Eastern Region?" He said, "Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region." I said, "Me, too!"
"Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1879, or Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1912?"
He said, "Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1912." I said, "Die, heretic!" And I pushed him over.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 52 by Raphael, posted 05-21-2021 10:21 PM Raphael has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 76 by Raphael, posted 05-23-2021 6:35 PM dwise1 has replied

Posts: 5972
Joined: 05-02-2006
Member Rating: 5.2

Message 77 of 126 (886695)
05-31-2021 3:56 PM
Reply to: Message 76 by Raphael
05-23-2021 6:35 PM

Re: Non-Creation Christianity
Sorry for the delay. So many things happening (eg, IRS suddenly wants immediately 25 years of our parents' family trust's tax returns which don't exist), including taking a few check-out breaks.
DWise1 writes:
Also, your scenario begs of question of what you would call "atheism." To us atheists, it means "not theism.
Unpack this more, if you would. What does "not theism" mean to you? You reject theism? You do not believe in theism? If it is not a stance, why take a stance? If it is a stance, what stance is it? Is it an intellectual category under which, say, agnosticism and anti-thism might fall as types of atheism? How do you understand this?
Oh so much more than you may think. To be honest, I included that because it does lead to so many more areas of discussion than most would simplistically assume. Or rather that certain confusion enters into discussions because the different sides' assumptions lead us to talk past each other. I will start this by point out those different assumptions and the effects they appear to have.
So, what is theism and what does it concern itself with? I'm not trying to be rhetorical here.
Theism may be very basically about believing in gods (which itself is very ambiguous as developed below), but that's only a very small part of it. Included with coming up with gods (or "revealing them") is the creation and generation and evolution of theologies and religions regarding those gods.
Hence theism is not just about gods, but rather is mostly about the religions and theologies associated with those gods. Our two sides seem to choose different sides of theism to concentrate on.
From what I have seen of fellow atheists (and looking within myself ... which is all too often the basic defense used to theists to support their position), the mere existence of any god is immaterial. Rather, most atheists and (most especially) anti-theists concern themselves far more with the religions that have been created and built up around those gods. Whether any of those gods actually exist is moot or otherwise immaterial (as per the necessity of agnosticism, a god could exist but bear no resemblance to the god of those religions and definitely have no bearing on those religions ... though I doubt that many atheists have thought that one through yet), but rather the problems are with the religions centered on those gods.
So then, most of the discussion and statements we see from the atheists deal much more with the religions and the detrimental effects that they can have and have had on individual members and on society. "God" has almost nothing to do with it.
In stark contrast, Christians tend to fixate solely on the very question of the existence of their god and never go anywhere close to their religion or theology.
Most encounters atheists have with theists are in terms of (often hostile) "challenges" to our atheism put in terms of "WHY DON'T YOU BELIEVE IN GOD, YOU (vitriolic perjorative term -- let your imagination run wild here and it will still fall completely short from what I've heard/read over so many decades?)?" Not "Why are you raising those questions and objections to the operations of Christianity?", but rather it's always only about their god.
Almost every time we try to talk with Christians, they never want to talk about anything interesting. Instead they keep harping on nonsense like "Why do you hate God so much?" or "You keep fighting so hard against God; just surrender to His Love for you!" or "Your belief that God does not exist is just that, a belief that requires as much faith as our own belief in God and is far more arrogant than our faith is!" (basically, the argument that I recall you having started off with). Or "You are only pretending that God doesn't exist so that you can sin without guilt!" -- that one usually from Christians who want to use that legalistic loophole in their own impoverished concepts of morality or had used that loophole themselves (eg, local YEC activist whose autobiography describes him doing exactly that so now he insists that "having been an atheist himself" (demonstrably false, by his own admission, but then he has always been an outrageous liar) he "knows full well" that atheists just want to get away with sinning and escaping responsibility for their actions).
Keeping in mind the caution about actual mileage: But none of that has anything to do with what atheists actually think. All of it just comes across as yet more ignorant nonsense. Which is made all the worse by those same steadfast Christians' refusal to even listen to our corrections and explanations, which makes them willfully ignorant.
Generally, when atheists reject Christianity, it is Christianity itself, the religion itself and the adverse effects it has on individuals and on society (especially when religions gain political and police powers). When atheists get together and talk with each other, what do you think we discuss? Do you think we just sit around and share how much we do not believe in the gods? Of course not, that would be so boring and useless! Instead, we discuss a wide range of topics, including science, politics, current events, and popular culture. Regarding religion, discussion is mainly about religion's attempts to interfere with politics and with our rights, or which COVID-denier pastors of large churches have most recently died of COVID (we can never get too much irony in our diet). We might examine the doctrine or history of particular religions. As for as the gods go, we might discuss the mythology of the various gods, including where and how they most likely got borrowed from other cultures' gods (very few of the gods were ever created ex nihilo, but rather were borrowings and/or amalgamations of other gods).
So why do theists misunderstand atheists so much? Asking them directly hasn't seemed to work, so we have to try to analyze our observations. First, there's what they are taught about atheists, which they're never clear on. I suspect that a lot of what they are taught about atheists comes from their doctrine. For example, if their doctrine teaches that everybody believes that God exists, but many are wilfully defiant, so that is what they think that atheists are doing. If their doctrine teaches that morality is based on being personally responsible to God, then they assume that atheists are trying to avoid personal responsible since without God there's nobody to be answerable to (how wrong that is!).
And then there's that fascination with the existence of "God". I think that they are projecting that onto us. That their god's existence is very important to them and they give that far more thought and attention than they do to their religion and doctrine. For them, their god is all important and the religion part basically just comes along for the ride.
This hyper-importance to theists of the existence of "God" could explain why they are so immensely hostile to atheists. Because of their confused definition of atheism (ie, that we don't "believe in God" which they interpret as us not believing in the existence of their god (that being a moot point for us)), they apparently feel that we are denying the existence of their god. Or worse, that we are actively trying to disprove the existence of their god and so are actively attacking that very concept. And, in their fevered minds, what else could that mean except that we are trying to destroy religion and turn everybody into atheists! After all, they want to convert everybody to their religion (especially what are generally referred to as "evangelicals" with a global mission assigned to them from Jesus himself!), so why not just project their own insidious mission onto the atheists like everything else?
We atheists tend to interpret that inordinate hostility of theists towards us as signaling their own strong insecurity and lack of faith in their own beliefs. Why else would they be unable to accept that there are people who do not agree with them? That they would view us as threats makes no sense to us.
BTW, we atheists don't generally care what anybody else believes, just so long as they don't try to use it as a means of or reason for doing harm. Which includes when theists attack us, in which case we will defend ourselves.
Frankly, I prefer discussion, an exchange of ideas and information. So sad that that is prevented by the theists.
For example, I'm sure that many atheists have had this particular experience. A Christian (usually a fundie) is trying to convert or convince the atheist. He keeps needling to get the point of asking, since the atheist is "so reasonable", would he be reasonable enough to allow for the possibility of a god's existence. Hey, the basic necessity of agnosticism that we cannot prove that something that could possibly be considered a god doesn't exist. But the very instant that the Christian gets that smallest of concessions, he seizes upon it as absolute proof of the truth of his "God" and of his entire religion in all its mass quantities of minutiae. He won that argument! He proved the atheist wrong!
OK, perhaps a tiny bit hyperbolic, but that is basically how it has always gone down in my experience. The instant that any concession is made for the possibility of the existence of the supernatural, the Christian would immediately jump to the conclusion that it's his god and his religion. Why? Because in his mind there are no other possibilities! Not for the slightest instant does he even begin to consider that there are many more steps required for his proof. If the supernatural exists, then he'd have to prove that supernatural entities exist, then intelligent ones, then hyper-intelligent ones, then powerful ones, then ... , then a god, then ... , then his particular god. After that, he'd have a long chain of proofs, albeit infinitely more feasible, to narrow the correct religion down to his own. It's like that classic single-frame cartoon which Phat posted for us in Message 140: a scientist/mathematician has been working on a problem on a chalkboard and all he has is the beginning premises and the conclusion and in the middle he has written "Then a miracle occurs", so his colleague advises him, "I think you should be more specific here in Step Two." The Christian immediately jumps from his initial assumptions to his conclusion while completely bypassing Step Two which is all of the work.
Why do they do that? I think a large part is due to their ignorance of religion. As with Pascal's Wager they think "either God exists or He doesn't" is binary and that not only is there only one "God", but that one "God" is his own. He has no concept that there are millions if not billions of gods, most of them personal variations of a group's god such that there is not just one "Christian God", but different ones practically for each different denomination/sect/congregation/etc. He thinks that if he and some random stranger he meets on the street both say "God" then they're talking about the same exact thing. The difference with atheists is that we can see that so we are aware of it.
Similarly, he may be aware that there are different religions, but his is the only true one. Not only would he most likely know nothing about those other religions, but he also would not know about the myriad different Christian religions. Again, if he and some random stranger he meets on the street were to say to each other, "I'm a Christian.", he'd think that they both believed the same things. Not likely! In reality, since he thinks his own form of Christianity is not only the only true form but also the only form of Christianity there is, when he hears some of what other Christians believe he will most likely classify them as "not Christian" (eg, the creationist belief that if you accept evolution then you are an atheist even if you are a practicing believing Christian, that Catholics and Mormons "aren't really Christians").
Of course, most atheists are very aware of the existence of many different religions and often even know something of how they differ (as well as some of their history). For that Christian, the only meaningful question would be, "Do you believe in God?", after which there's only one way for everything else to fall into place. To an atheist, that question is completely meaningless because it says nothing whatsoever about which god and which religion associated with that particular god. Plus there's the question of "What do you mean by 'believe in God'?"
And so both sides are left talking past each other.
On that penultimate sentence, we find that theists tend to conflate and confuse the meaning of "believe in", which is very ambiguous. Theists tend to view "to believe in" to be an existence question: "Do you believe in the existence of God?" The other meaning of "believe in" someone or something is to place one's faith and trust in that someone or something. That meaning is the better one and has nothing to do with the question of whether that someone or something exists. Id est, it is not an existence question. At best, the existence question is necessary in the case of believing in that someone or something, though not necessarily always (exempli gratia, theologies or philosophies which depend on gods or the like as abstract metaphors which do not need to actually exist in order to be of importance -- I will not produce any examples of this (such as "Uncle Sam"), but the existence of such seems entirely reasonable).
For example (ie, eg {grin -- review the links directly above for "id est, exempli gratia"}), if I'm asked whether I "believe in Trump", my response (cleaned up immensely) is "oh hell no!". Does that mean that I believe that Trump does not exist? Unfortunately for the world, no, it does not mean that. Not believing in Trump just means that I do not trust him nor follow him, not whether he exists or not (to which sadly and unfortunately he does exist).
So here again, the two sides end up talking past each other because we disagree on the meaning of a couple words. We see it as whether we can put our faith in one particular religion in which we see so many faults and problems as well as it being no better than any of the others, while they see it as nothing but a binary existence question which completely ignores the coyote ugly religion that the poor sap will wake up in the morning being married to.
Edited by dwise1, : Added By Edit (not Scotland's favorite team: "Anybody But England") ABE: { }

This message is a reply to:
 Message 76 by Raphael, posted 05-23-2021 6:35 PM Raphael has not replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 79 by Percy, posted 06-01-2021 10:39 AM dwise1 has replied

Posts: 5972
Joined: 05-02-2006
Member Rating: 5.2

Message 80 of 126 (886719)
06-01-2021 11:20 AM
Reply to: Message 79 by Percy
06-01-2021 10:39 AM

Re: Non-Creation Christianity
Sell the final property. The escrow company insisted on an employer tax number for the family trust. That was the very first that we ever heard of such a requirement. And it didn't help that we had to do everything remotely by phone and email. Just trying to work with the IRS to get the number was horrifically difficult since they won't let you talk with a person until the online forms generate an error. It took weeks just to get the tax number (they are seriously understaffed due to the pandemic in order to maintain social distancing inside the office) and the letter dated 25 May demanded one form to be filed by 20 May (five days before the requirement was even created by the letter and a full week before I even received the letter in snail-mail) and that entire non-existent be filed within two weeks of the letter, so my frustration levels combined with everything else currently in my life are very high (there's not enough tequila in the world to deal with it (GAME: describe that Mary Tyler Moore Show scene!) ).
Basically, when our mother died at the end of 1995 the trust passed to us. All it held were three properties: the family home and two undeveloped properties. Now we've sold the last property at a loss just like both the other properties. No employees, no revenues outside of the property sales (previous two split between the three of us and duly declared on our personal taxes; third one pending), paid property taxes out of our personal pockets, so I cannot see how this could be anything more than a paper chase so that all their accounting is satisfied.
I'm hiring a now-retired CPA friend whom I've used years before to help us through this. He sounded like he's seen this before and that it's no biggie. It's just one more hassle for me to have to deal with.
Edited by dwise1, : IRS due date Schlamassel

This message is a reply to:
 Message 79 by Percy, posted 06-01-2021 10:39 AM Percy has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 81 by Percy, posted 06-01-2021 1:34 PM dwise1 has replied

Posts: 5972
Joined: 05-02-2006
Member Rating: 5.2

Message 83 of 126 (886758)
06-05-2021 1:14 PM
Reply to: Message 81 by Percy
06-01-2021 1:34 PM

Re: Non-Creation Christianity
Well, basically since 1996 literally nothing happened with the family trust except to sell the family home at a loss in 1996, selling one of the undeveloped properties in 2004 at a loss, and finally selling the final property (also undeveloped) this year at a slight profit. All those other years of absolutely no revenue will result in almost literally completely blank forms -- nothing happened so nothing to declare (when we were paying property taxes, it was out of our own pockets and we declared that in our personal taxes).
I keep going back to my having read "Catch 22" and its central theme: if it's not documented then it never happened and if something is documented then that is what is true and conflicting reality must be false. McWatt loved flying and flew all the time, so Doc Daneeka always had him log in Doc as a passenger so that Doc could get flight pay. Doc wanted to receive the flight pay, but he wasn't crazy enough to actually get into an airplane. So when McWatt kills himself by crashing his plane, Doc Daneeka was "on the plane with him" (in the 1970 film, everybody is cheering for Doc to bail out even though Doc Daneeka is literally standing there right next to them telling them that he's standing right there next to them). Doc died in that crash; here's the documentation to prove it. In the book, the orderlies kept having to chase him out of the medical tent. "You can't come in here, Doc. You're dead. We can't have any dead people in here!" Being a thoughtful husband, Doc had bought into a number life insurance policies and funeral plans. His wife stateside received official notification of his death. Then she started receiving desperate letters from him trying to tell her that he's not dead, but rather he's alive so don't believe what they're telling her. She didn't know what to think. But then the money started pouring in from those life insurance policies and burial plans. So she moved away and didn't leave a forwarding address.
If you have ever watched either "movie" -- ie, the 1970 movie with Alan Arkin or George Clooney's recent miniseries on Hulu -- you have still not had the full experience until you have read Joseph Heller's novel. The word play is genius. Not only do we get the full story of Major Major Major Major (which hides the entire Santa Ana Army Air Base experience (local history for me and I had never even heard of it before the book) in which all recruits were assessed to be either an officer (ie, pilot or otherwise to destined to die within a few missions) or an enlisted technician (I was active duty USAF, so I heard the cultural reference that we don't get killed but rather we send the officers out to be killed). Documentaries about the US Army Air Forces in WWII emphasize the extremely high rate of turnover of air crews such that one survivor's testimony was that you never learned anybody's name because within a few missions they'd be gone and replaced by yet another young face. That also explains why in Catch-22 the ever raising number of missions before being rotated out was literally a death sentence.
All the other services like to make fun of the Air Force. I affiliated with the Navy Reserve after my Air Force active duty (I was just getting married when I initially enlisted and the choice was either Navy (family history) or Air Force so I chose the branch that was more marriage/family friendly). When we first transitioned to CAC card IDs (the British Army as well as we saw in Sherlock when Dr. Watson presented his ID card), we had to go to a certified DEERS office, the nearest of which was at the Los Angeles Air Force Base. I almost wanted to turn my car around when I saw that the Consolidated Base Personnel Office (CBPO) was now called the "People Center".
But if you look at the WWII casualty lists, you will find find that the US Army Air Forces had immensely more casualties than the US Navy and US Marine Corps combined (and by far most of the USAAF casualites were deaths). Should the Air Force be at the table? Why not? We have paid our dues in blood (the common and only real currency in the military).
BTW, as a technician in both the Air Force and Navy, I have seen two different cultures there too. In the Air Force, you are still attached tightly to your supply chains so a tricky problem would just be kicked up the chain to the depot level. In the Navy, you could be stuck out in the middle of the ocean so you had to be able to handle those tricky problems yourself. Also, the entire Air Force culture is centered around procedure and checklists. In every modern war, we have far more casualties due to accidents (either equipment failure or pilot error) than to actual combat (when my son and I toured the USS Midway in San Diego, each ready room had a list of casualties and extremely few of them were due to combat). In WWII we discovered the checklist (a common feature in Smithsonian Channel's "Air Disasters" which is the Canadian TV series "Mayday") which tried to eliminate the accidents. The checklist is now fundamental to everything the Air Force does; technicians are tested on how closely they can follow the maintenance procedure and its checklists -- if you can bore your evaluator to death, you passed inspection. For Navy technicians, you were stuck out in the middle of nowhere and had to be ready and able to improvise as needed. Completely different games.
For Air Force pilots, all their bombing targets were fixed, you knew where your targets were so every mission was basically scripted for you. For Navy aviators, it was all about the hunt.
There's a YouTube channel, "WW 2 In Real Time", which takes WWII week by week. Very informative. This week is Midway. Two great carrier forces face off against each other. The problem is that you don't know where the other task force is nor even what it consists of (the Japanese miscalculation about Yorktown being decisive).
Hence the Air Force mentality of by-the-book "business as usual" air operations versus the Navy's "hunt them down".

This message is a reply to:
 Message 81 by Percy, posted 06-01-2021 1:34 PM Percy has seen this message but not replied

Posts: 5972
Joined: 05-02-2006
Member Rating: 5.2

Message 86 of 126 (886776)
06-06-2021 8:28 PM
Reply to: Message 76 by Raphael
05-23-2021 6:35 PM

Re: Non-Creation Christianity
I'm sure that you are very busy again with school, since I seem to recall you mentioning that summer session was about to begin.
I just viewed a video posted yesterday which ties in with a lot of what I said in my first reply, Message 77. It's by Genetically Modified Skeptic (GMS) with the help of Paulogia. Both are ex-Christians turned atheists and both have produced many very thoughtful well balanced videos. GMS also frequently examines the problems of establishing dialogue between believers and non-believers.
Christian Apologist Impersonates an Atheist, Atheists Respond, 48 minutes:
GMS and Paulogia analyze and discuss portions of an hour-long presentation by apologist (and apologetics professor at a Christian college), Sean McDowell at a Christian high school in the South. McDowell has a standard presentation for Christian audiences in which he plays the role of an atheist. While he usually starts his presentation by identifying himself as a Christian just playing the role of an atheist, in this case the teacher sponsoring this presentation wanted him to let the student audience think that he really is an atheist (a philosophy professor) and not reveal his true identity until at the end. McDowell's video which GMS and Paulogia respond to includes his hour-long presentation and a post-presentation debrief in which he discusses and responds to his own "atheist" arguments. And most of his presentation consists of a Q&A session in which he responds to students' questions.
While McDowell says that he takes care to avoid turning his "atheist" into a strawman, GMS finds that he falls short of that mark even if unintentionally. Besides the basic problem mentioned only briefly that McDowell's portrayal of an atheist is based on his Christian understanding of atheists (though he does largely avoid most of the typical pitfalls ... and even finishes with something that GMS had never before heard from an apologist), McDowell suffers from the inherent problem that he cannot afford to present any atheist arguments that are too compelling and which he could not counter in his debrief. Again, that would be very difficult to avoid despite his best intentions.
A few criticisms of McDowell (some from me too):
  1. Several times he would use rhetorical tricks instead of giving the audience a straight answer. For example:
    1. A student brings up Josephus as evidence for Jesus and McDowell asked whether the student had read the entire work (basically a small encyclopedia consisting of several volumes), thus not only intimidating the student with his "academic superiority" but then he messes up his own citations from Josephus (Paulogia cuts him some slack on those citations, knowing how hard it is to produce citations at the spur of the moment).
    2. When the questions turned to things like "fine tuning" and "the multiverse", he would resort to flies-over-their-heads word salad in order to confuse and intimidate the audience.
    Basically, GMS' complaint is that he portrayed his "atheist" as being dishonest and arrogant and possessing other unpleasant and negative qualities. IOW, he was reinforcing the audience's negative stereotypes about atheists. Which was most likely not his conscious intention given his final words.
  2. Most of the "atheist's" arguments were centered on existence questions as I discussed in my other reply. After hitting briefly on the existence of God, he then went more heavily in questions of whether the historical Jesus ever existed. In so doing, he avoided discussion of doctrine, dogma, and the religion of Christianity.
  3. He attributed beliefs to the "atheist" which aren't really a part of atheism. Like their newfound obsession with "atheists believe in the Multiverse". He even refers to "The Flash" on The CW to explain the multiverse.
Addressing McDowell's mischaracterization of atheists, GMS recommends that in the future he team up with an actual atheist and have the atheist do that part of the presentation and respond to the audience's questions. That way, the audience will not only hear what the atheist actually thinks and what his answers are, but they will see how an atheist actually behaves. If nothing else, the audience will be able to see that atheists are real people.
One commenter suggested that the two of them do some reverse role-playing with the apologist posing as the atheist and the atheist posing as the apologist. They would learn very quickly how they appear to the other side.
Which brings us to the conclusion of McDowell's presentation. After telling them of the defensiveness and hostility that he saw from them while they thought he was actually an atheist, he tells them about having given his presentation at a Christian youth camp. Afterwards the campers gathered around him with questions and comments, but one of them, a 17-year-old girl, held back until all the others were gone. Then she told him that she's an atheist. Puzzled, he asked why she was here? She's a camp counselor. Again, huh? She grew up in the faith, but started to have questions which everybody avoided even trying to answer. Finally she realized that she just did not believe any of it anymore. Who else had she told she was an atheist? "You're the first person I've told." "Why didn't you tell anybody else?" "Because I'm afraid that they would treat me just like they treated you." The lesson for his Christian audience is for them to be mindful of how they treat others and of how they make Christians look to unbelievers.
GMS said that this was the first time he had ever heard any apologist say such a thing ... and he has talked with a lot of apologists. That camp was in the South, which is also where GMS grew up and still lives. He knows first hand the hostility and hatred that atheists are confronted with all the time. And every other apologist had blamed him for that hatred and accused him of trying to play the victim. Sean McDowell is the first apologist whom GMS has ever heard make such a plea for understanding and opening communication between Christians and atheists.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 76 by Raphael, posted 05-23-2021 6:35 PM Raphael has not replied

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