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Dave’s Mailbag: Why do you deny the existence of God?

I received the following from “Anon Imity”:

Hi Dave,
I came across your name on the CS website where you scored 100% on a religious quiz.  I only scored  94%,
I missed two questions. Anyway, it made me want to know a couple of things about what you believe and why.
I am curious to know why you deny the existence of God.  What makes you so sure that God does not exist, and
above all, what if you’re wrong.  Please tell why you are convinced, and what evidence you may have that makes
you willing to bet your eternal destination that you are right. It has to be pretty compelling, eternity is a long time
for any of us to be wrong.
I know that you’re probably very busy, but I really would appreciate it, if you would take the time to reply to me.
I just want the best arguments for your denial of the existence of God. I truly am looking forward to hearing from
you.  I hope you take the time to write.
Thanks Dave.
Anon
Here is my reply:

Hi “Anon”!

Thank you for your email. I appreciate you taking the quiz and hope you enjoyed it.

I wouldn’t say that I deny the existence of gods. I’m simply not convinced that any gods actually exist, the same way that most people simply aren’t convinced that unicorns or Santa exist. If I were to be presented with good evidence that a god or gods exist, I would readily change my stance. Despite years of searching for such evidence, I haven’t found anything that I consider even remotely convincing.

I would never make the claim that God does not exist – I have no way of knowing that! I think that is a common misunderstanding of what the word “atheist” means. Atheists do not claim God does not exist; rather, it’s a question of what we believe.

As far as wagering eternity, I would say to you that you too are wagering eternity. If you are a Christian, you are wagering that Islam is not true. If you are a Christian and Islam is true, you are going to the Islamic hell. If you are a Muslim, you are wagering that Christianity is not true. If you are a Muslim and Christianity is true, you are going to the Christian hell. And so on and so on for many other religions.

To quote Stephen F. Roberts, “When you understand why you dismiss all other gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours.” Or another good one from Richard Dawkins: “We are all atheists about most of the gods humanity has ever believed in. Some of us just go one god further.”

As far as the best arguments for the non-existence of gods, I think the single best line of reasoning is simply that god is unnecessary to explain the world. Science does an excellent job of that. In the past, before we had the scientific method, it may have made sense to attribute certain things we didn’t understand to gods – lightning was caused by Zeus throwing down lightning bolts, or Thor striking his hammer, for example – but now we know where lightning really comes from and we no longer think a god did it. It’s the same for every mystery throughout history so far and we have no reason to think this won’t continue.

I hope this has been helpful to you. I encourage you to continue asking questions, and feel free to keep the conversation going if there’s more you’d like to know.

If you’re looking for reading material, I recommend the website http://www.godisimaginary.com, and the book “The God Delusion” by Richard Dawkins. The aforementioned website has 50 simple explanations of different reasons we can feel confident that there are no gods. “The God Delusion” is quickly becoming a modern classic and is a favorite among American Atheists’ membership.

Thanks for writing!

– Dave Muscato

Public Relations Director
American Atheists

Until next time,

Dave

dave_bio_pic4Dave Muscato is the Public Relations Director for American Atheists based in Cranford, New Jersey. An atheism activist, blogger, and public speaker, he is also a board member of MU SASHA. He is a vegetarian, LGBTQ ally, and human- & animal-welfare activist. Dave posts updates to the SASHA blog every Monday, Thursday, and Saturday; twice monthly for the Humanist Community at Harvard, and monthly or more on SkepticFreethought.com. His website is http://www.DaveMuscato.com

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and don’t forget… other SASHA members! We are here for you, too!

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About Danielle Muscato

Danielle Muscato is a civil rights activist, writer, and public speaker. She has appeared on or been quoted in Rolling Stone, People, Time, The New York Times, SPIN, Entertainment Weekly, Billboard Magazine, and on MTV News, VH1, NPR, MSNBC, ABC, "The Real Story" with Gretchen Carlson, The O'Reilly Factor, Huffington Post Live, Huffington Post, The Wall Street Journal, The Raw Story, CNN, CBS, and Howard Stern Danielle is the former Director of Public Relations for American Atheists. She is also a board member of MU SASHA (University of Missouri Skeptics, Atheists, Secular Humanists & Agnostics). Her website is http://www.DanielleMuscato.com. Follow her on Google+ Follow her on Twitter @daniellemuscato Subscribe to her on YouTube at www.youtube.com/davemuscato

28 comments on “Dave’s Mailbag: Why do you deny the existence of God?

  1. rocketkirchner
    March 13, 2013

    Dave , the Santa Clause analogy is old hat. Here is a counter to that flawed analogy that i came up with : a 17th century man is transported to the 21st century , and does not believe in God . He sees someone with an earpeice on ( small cell phone) speaking to someone . The 17th man laughs and mocks the man speaking on the small ear piece as someone who is talking to an ”invisible freind”. ..and just keeps walking , not having heard the voice over the line .

    Who carrys in themself the ignorance? the 17th man , or the man speaking on the earpeice ? the 17th century man is alot like the atheist who is not evolved enough to understand that just becuase someone is not visible does not mean that that someone does not exist . This is why Atheism is counter-evolutionary . the man with the earpeice is like the Christian who has an invisible freind . Just becuase the freind is invisible does not mean that that freind does not exist. to deny this possibility is not logical , for as Bob Dylan said ”dont critizise what you dont understand ”. LOL

    • Cubist
      March 14, 2013

      rocketkirchner :
      Dave , the Santa Clause analogy is old hat. Here is a counter to that flawed analogy that i came up with : a 17th century man is transported to the 21st century , and does not believe in God . He sees someone with an earpeice on ( small cell phone) speaking to someone . The 17th man laughs and mocks the man speaking on the small ear piece as someone who is talking to an ”invisible freind”. ..and just keeps walking , not having heard the voice over the line .

      Yes, I can see that a 17th-century man transported to modern times would be very likely to lack any understanding of cell phones, and on the basis of their ignorance, could easily leap to the conclusion that a cell phone user is “talking to an invisible friend” and therefore deluded. Of course, the cell phone user in that analogy could, just as easily, let the 17th-century man use the cell phone to talk to someone. Do you think the 17th-century man would continue to think that cell phone users are deluded, even after that experience? I don’t.
      My point is, cell phone users can provide empirical evidence which demonstrates that cell phones are real; that cell phones really do let people talk to other people who are far, far away; and that cell phone users are, in fact, not fooling themselves. What can a Believer do to demonstrate that Believers aren’t fooling themselves?

      Who carrys in themself the ignorance? the 17th man , or the man speaking on the earpeice ?

      In your analogy? It’s the 17th-century man. Duh.

      the 17th century man is alot like the atheist who is not evolved enough to understand that just becuase someone is not visible does not mean that that someone does not exist.

      This atheist is ‘evolved enough” to acknowledge that there are many things in the Universe which do not directly register on human senses. This atheist is also not stupid, deluded, or insane enough to think that all concepts which possess the doesn’t-directly-register-on-human-senses property are equally valid. If you Believers think that all concepts which possess the doesn’t-directly-register-on-human-senses property are equally valid, you are, by that same token, either stupid or deluded or outright insane.

      Just becuase the freind is invisible does not mean that that freind does not exist.

      No, but if the people who assert the existence of the invisible friend assign various qualities & powers to said invisible friend… and said qualities & powers are of the sort which really should have consequences/corollaries which are not invisible… and those consequences/corollaries just aren’t observable… in such a case, it is quite reasonable to reach the conclusion that the “invisible friend”, as defined by its adherents, does not exist.

      • rocketkirchner
        March 15, 2013

        Cubist , the word ”Observable ”is a tricky word is it not ? what does one do with Schrodinger’s Cat? or for that matter Heisenberg’s ‘ Uncertainty Principle ? observation has come along way since the Empirical age of Hume . Quantum has thrown the whole thing in question as to what definitive observation is all about . therefore , we are all left at a mexician standoff …are we not ?

  2. Kevin Stockard
    March 14, 2013

    Rocketkirch,
    You seem to miss Dave’s entire point. Again, he is not proclaiming that a god does not exist, only that thus far the claims for the existence of god are far from convincing to us atheists.

    The 17th century man in your example would surely believe the person with the earpiece was speaking to someone if he could be brought to understand the technology involved in electronic communication. Likewise, we atheists would have no problem believing in a god if only irrefutable evidence were brought to light. Thus, our atheism is not dogmatic: we would believe in a god if evidence were brought forth. Whether it be Santa Claus, unicorns, mermaids, gods, etc. — just show compelling evidence and one could believe. This is in contrast to most religious believers faith in a god. Their belief is often dogmatic. If a believer is not open to reason, then s(he) will continue to believe regardless of the lack of evidence for a god. However, if that believer is bold enough to question their previously held beliefs then they may indeed become skeptical of the existence of god and become an atheist. Not that they deny the existence of god, but hold that skepticism is the default position — that you withhold belief until evidence is forthcoming.
    I hope this clarifies the issue.

    Kevin Stockard
    Columbia, Missouri

    • rocketkirchner
      March 15, 2013

      Kevin , the history of Skepticism going back to the Silver age of Philosophy under Phyro all the way to Popper’s Falsification principle in the Veinna school is not limited to the Atheist. On the contrary , you will find historically a great deal of Theists in this tradition; one being the great genuis of St. Augustine’s fusion of faith and reason . ..in his masterpeice ;;Civitas Dei” to whom Atheist Bertrand Russel called ”arguably the greatest work of philosophy in the ancient world .
      What i am doing is casting doubt upon doubt just as the Atheist cast doubt upon faith . why ? to level the playing field . Until one doubts their doubts as equal as they doubt a faith proposition , then they are not a true skeptic , but one who is merely parating others , just like the church going lobodomized person.

  3. Kevin Stockard
    March 15, 2013

    Rocketkirch,
    Likewise the old “casting doubt upon doubt” argument is a common refrain by religious apologists, but unfortunately achieves absolutely nothing towards providing evidence for the existence of a god. Just replace “god” with any mythological figure: Big Foot, The Loch Ness Monster, the Chupacabra, etc. and one would have us think it is reasonable to “doubt our doubt” that any of these creatures exist simply because we cannot disprove their existence.

    This is contrary to centuries of experience: you prove a POSITIVE, not a NEGATIVE. That is the way it is in law, in science, and in scholarship. Proving a negative, as you know, is often very difficult, if not impossible. Just because one cannot prove the negative doesn’t mean the positive must be true or even taken seriously. Should I take unicorns seriously because I cannot prove their non-exisitence? Of course, there could be, on some remote planet, in some remote galaxy, a creature like a unicorn. But until evidence for such a creature is found, I fail to see why I should waste valuable time and energy planning my life around the possible existence of a creature (much less praying or worshiping such a creature). The same lies with a god. Until such a being(s) is/are shown to exist, why should I plan my life around the possibility of such a being? Or pray to it? It might make me FEEL good to engage in such activities, but that has no bearing on whether or not such a being actually exists. As I have stated, as an atheist, I am certainly open to the possibility of a god. Just provide the evidence. Claiming I should “doubt my doubts” is a smokescreen for a refusal to admit there is absolutely no reason for taking existence of a god seriously — just like the unicorn.

    Until “doubting my doubts” becomes an actual process — a mechanism — for demonstrating the existence of ANYTHING, then doubting the existence of things not yet demonstrated with a single iota of evidence is a perfectly rational endeavor.

    This is not intended to be a “proof” of god’s non-existence, for I am aware that “absence of evidence” is not “evidence of absence”. All I am saying is that to doubt the existence of something in the face a complete lack of objective evidence is a rational choice until evidence is forthcoming. Faith is not evidence, nor does it give one the latitude to take seriously “supernatural beings”. If the theist’s belief in god was rational, appeals to faith wouldn’t be necessary. If you have not done so, I suggest you read George Smith’s “Atheism: the Case Against God”. He addresses these philosophical issues on doubt, epistemology, and faith.

    Kevin

    • rocketkirchner
      March 15, 2013

      Kevin , One can stand on strong epistemological ground without the use of a priori reasoning . Godel’s incompleteness theorom is the monkey in the wrench on that one . one can know what they know via existentialism as Athiest Albert Camus makes clear in his qouting Soren Kierkegaard ”by virtue of the absurd”. i explain this on my you tube channel in a short expose called ”Kierkegaard reconsidered”.

      The problem as i see it in the 21st century as i have stated in my lecture on Kierkegaard at M.U. sponsered by SASHA …is that the rational Theists and rational Atheists are caught in a feedback loop of hyper rationalism that has become boring and tautological and actually runs contrary to what it means to be a real skeptic .
      When life long Atheist and analytic philosopher Antony Flew went from Atheism to Theism , i saw no change in his linear thinking process . He has never thought in paradox.

      What i mean by no change is that he followed evidence that lead him there. Faith propsitions are not evidence or they would not be faith propositons . Which should tell you something about me : i am against Christian apologetics. I am Christian practioner , and have been one for over 3 decades.. but not as an ”objective certainty” becuase objectivity runs contrary to Christ being the object of faith .

      this is why i call myself a Christian who is a ”skeptic on duty” challenging us all to question everything and doubt everything our senses tell us , for how can ”Cogito ergo sum ” have an effectiveness if our thinking is superficial and our lives are not ”lived out ” beyond mere analysis of who and what we think we are cognitvly . all the best.

  4. rocketkirchner
    March 17, 2013

    kEVIN , I think what you and i have here is the Kant verses Hegel argument –on the view of reality that sandwiched the German Enlightenment .
    1. Kant : the ”ding and such ”(the thing in and of itself –reality) is unknowable)/
    2.Hegel : ”the rational is real and the real is rational ”.

    i am in the Kantian camp.

  5. Cubist
    March 17, 2013

    rocketkirchner :
    Cubist , the word ”Observable ”is a tricky word is it not ?

    Is there any other aspect of your life regarding which you would decry this “observation” thingie as “tricky”? Or do you only decry the “tricky” nature of “observation” in the context of rationalizing your belief in your invisible friend?

    Quantum has thrown the whole thing in question as to what definitive observation is all about . therefore , we are all left at a mexician standoff …are we not ?

    If “observation” is questionable, either (1) you have some other way of confirming the existence of your invisible friend, a way which is not in any way sullied by this questionable “observation” stuff, or else (2) you have no way whatsoever of confirming the existence of your invisible friend. Which is it?
    As “tricky” as it may or may not be, this “observation” thingie is good enough to confirm that your mail carrier exists. It’s good enough to confirm that water is wet. It’s good enough to confirm that Kareem Abdul-Jabbar really is taller than Herve Villechaize. It’s good enough to confirm that the half-life of Carbon-14 is about 5,700 years. It’s good enough to confirm that Russian is not the same language as Mandarin Chinese. “Tricky” or not, this “observation” thingie is good enough to confirm a subinfinite number of other propositions which you presumably accept, and I would be willing to bet a large sum of cash that you don’t think “quantum” throws into question any “observation”s you may have made that have bearing on the existence of your mail carrier, on the wetness of water, on the relative heights of Abdul-Jabbar and Villechaize, on the half-life of Carbon-14, or the fact that the Russian language is highly distinct from the Mandarin Chinese language, or…
    In fact, I’d be willing to bet a large sum of money that there is exactly 1 (one) thing in your life that you apply your
    tricksy “observation”ses, we hates it forever! rationalization to… and that 1 (one) thing is your invisible friend. Why, then, should I regard tricksy “observation”ses, we hates it forever! as anything other than a transparently blatant instance of the fallacy of Special Pleading on behalf of the particular flavor of invisible friend you happen to find congenial?

  6. Kevin Stockard
    March 17, 2013

    Rocketkirchner,

    I’m sorry but I guess we are not communicating well. For me it’s not about Hegel vs. Kant.

    We can debate all day about the nature of “reality” and what that means, but if your idea of reality includes the existence of god(s) — fine. Then simply demonstrate with evidence that this/these god(s) exist so that it can be a part of my “reality” as well — however you want to define “reality”. For me, an analysis of human history demonstrates that humanity’s belief in gods arose from our desire to explain the world around us. Science has helped us to replace supernatural explanations with natural ones, slowly leaving god without a home. Does that prove a god DOESN’T exist? Of course not. But I have never claimed god(s) do not exist — just that there seems to be an overwhelming lack of evidence for the existence of any such beings. Thus, I am skeptical of their existence and will remain so until evidence is forthcoming. For me, it’s really that simple.
    Cheers,
    Kevin

    • rocketkirchner
      March 18, 2013

      Kevin , well said . something to consider . i find that my atheist freinds are fond of the santa clause , easter bunny , spagetti monster ..etc. etc. being equal to the notion of the concept of an all powerful creator of all things who will judge the living of the dead.
      the analogy is inconsistent in regards to value of import. the idea -notion of a living God be it true or false is in the category of ”ultimate meaning and seriuosness ”. i will grant you that all these things are unprovable .On this we can agree. but , the notion that there might be a supreme being to which our destiny hangs one way or another , is of much more gravity then say santa clause or the easter bunny . one might say that the santa-bunny thing is benign simple fairy tale stuff . one cannot say that the God of Christ is an easy issue , nor a issue to be taken lightly . for there are consequences to that message that stand apart from the consequence of being a bad boy and not getting what one wants in ones stocking during christmas .

      there is something else to consider : the merit of Literature . all of the santa -easter-spagetti stuff cannot compare in regards to the Literature of the Bible . I have a seriuos love for world Literature , and i find that there is not much to compare to the Bible except the Greek tragedys , Homer, Dante , Milton , and the Sahekspeare. But the myth of Santa ? no Literary import here.

      Science–has science explained supernatural explanations with natural ones? Newton wrote more about Christ than he did about science . fact. Einstein talked about God , though it was the Monism of Spinoza’s God . nevertheless . Kepler , Galilieo , etc… all believers . Francis Collins and the Genome project . Paul Davies and the new physics. the list goes on .

      I brought up the chasm between Kant and Hegel becuase ( correct me if i am wrong ) ..that you are ”presupposing ” the Hegelian axiom ”the real is rational and the rational is real ”. Any time i encounter someone looking for evidence i sense ”presuppositions ” , and a certain standard of epistomology . but can there be only one form of epistomology ? no. if there is apriori , apostori, and synthetic priori , then why cant there be faith ? after all — the definiton of epistomolgy is ”how we know what we know ”. if , say that personal expereince brings about faith , then one is on as much solid epistemic ground that the prioris that are filtered thru expereince also. what is problematic is communicating faith to others . have a good week .

  7. Kevin Stockard
    March 18, 2013

    Rocketkirchner,
    Thanks for your reply. Unfortunately, whether or not there is a god to judge us and the value of that import is actually moot if one has not proven there is a god to begin with — nor given good reason why such a being should be taken seriously. The Santa Claus, Spaghetti Monster arguments simply demonstrate that belief in god too is based on faith and that the evidence of the existence of a god is lacking every bit as much as those other mythological creatures. Thus, if there is absolutely no evidence for such a being as a god, I should not worry myself with arguments about judgement in this life or the next. I understand where you are coming from, but I see no reason to fear the possibility of a god’s judgement and be thus be “frightened” into believing in him. That is not evidence but a bribe — a form of extortion. If I’m going to believe in god out of fear of judgement, then may I ask you — who’s invisible man in the sky should I believe in? Zeus? Osiris? Isis? Oden? Thor? What if YOU’RE wrong and you spend your entire life worshipping the god of Christ when Zeus is the real god? How will you absolve yourself then? I refuse to spend my entire life chasing a fantasy.

    It seems as though you are appealing to Pascal’s Wager of believing in a god in order to “hedge your bets” so that if you believe in him you will receive eternal reward in heaven if he exists — and eternal punishment for being an atheist. If the god of Christ exists and thus created me, then he must know I am capable of logical fallacies. Thus, if my atheism is misguided, then the worst crime I’ve committed is making an error in judgement. Why would the loving, forgiving god of Christ punish me for making a merely human, mortal error? If “god” wants me to believe in him, he needs to start appealing to what he knows is my sense of rationality and reason — and prove his existence to me. Otherwise, he could not possibly blame me for doubting his existence. If he does, then he is not worthy of my worship.

    Personal experience may indeed bring about faith but if you want others to take a belief in god seriously, you have to appeal to more than just faith. You have to provide objective evidence that can be experienced by everyone. Thanks.

    • rocketkirchner
      March 19, 2013

      Kevin , no. this is why i am not a christian apologist . there is no evidence . one must embrace ”objective uncertainty” in order to move within what Kierkegaard calls the ”epistomology of the organ of faith ”. i am not trying to convince any one . i am simply calling to doubt the limits of reason when it comes to any notion of a litmus test of ultimate reality . hence –the standoff . a personal ephipany cannot be conjured up . it just happens .

      appealing to rationality and reason is a capital error that christian apologists do. i am in the Tertullian camp ”credo qou absurdum ” –i believe becuase it is absurd .
      if you cannot swallow Kierkegaard directly concerning the all importance of irrationality , you may consider aproaching him via a reliable Athiest Albert Camus who explains S.K. ‘s by ”virtue of the absurd” very well in both theory and in his literature .

      what irritates me is the flippancy ( and that is not you ) and condesending attitude of this santa-bunny analogy with first rate Literature of the Theocratic age . it is a blight on Literature itself . why doesnt anyone discuss the complexity of the book of Job besides the Coen Brothers movie ” A seriuos man ” ? or what do we make of Harold Bloom -Shakespeare scholar comparing Hamlet to the Gospel of Mark ? is Prometheus bound a pagan forshadowing of Christ crucified as Thomas Merton says >?

      Atheist today are so interested in trying to prove the unprovable and arguing with these equally empty debates of rational Theists , that it seems to me that no one is actually asking the hard questions of who we are as humans . what does it mean to be human ? in this , the Ancient texts have gravity , weight , etc. where as the santa -bunny thing just rings hollow . i am not trying to provoke fear , but thought . and as far as Pascal’s Wager , well one has to understand that that is an anti- apologetic yet christian appeal in reation to his time . and it is very complicated as dave and i have discussed . cheers to you .

  8. Cubist
    March 19, 2013

    sez rocketkirchner: ” i find that my atheist freinds are fond of the santa clause , easter bunny , spagetti monster ..etc. etc. being equal to the notion of the concept of an all powerful creator of all things who will judge the living of the dead.
    the analogy is inconsistent in regards to value of import. the idea -notion of a living God be it true or false is in the category of ‘ultimate meaning and seriuosness ‘.”
    I congratulate you for providing a textbook-quality example of the fallacy of Argument From Consequences! However, rocketkirchner, I’m pretty sure you don’t really believe that the ‘import’ of a belief has anything to do with how likely it is to be true. How can I say this? Because you believe in Xtianity. If you actually did consider the ‘import’ of a belief to be a good reason to believe in whatever-it-is, you would have done research on all the world’s religions, with particular emphasis on the details of the apres-vie fate each religion claims to be in store for unbelievers, and you would have selected the religion that inflicts the worst, most intolerable afterlife scenario on unbelievers.
    Alternately, we can test the sincerity of your stated position re: ‘import’ of beliefs right here and now.
    I have just had a revelation for God Himself! God regards me, Cubist, as the most important feature of His Creation, and he thinks all other humans should donate at least 10% of their income to me. Those humans who fail to donate at least 10% of their income to me will suffer in the afterlife, forever.
    So. Now that you know that God wants you to give me money, and you know what God is prepared to do to you if you don’t give me money, you’re going to give me money, right? I mean, this is your eternal afterlife at stake! How much more important can ‘import’ get?
    Unless, of course, this ‘import-of-a-belief schtick is not something you actually believe to be valid, but is, instead, merely an example of how you employ the fallacy of Special Pleading on behalf of your invisible friend…

    • rocketkirchner
      March 19, 2013

      Cubist , it sounds to me that you have had a bad dose of toxic christianity . america is full of it . this produces Christophobia in a person . it can manifest itself as ”flippancy”. i am having a problem with you in 2 areas: tone , and concept . your unbelief does not bother me . if you have ever read e.m.cioran –the greatest athiest of the 20th century , and my fav…you will understand what gravity is all about .

      you are correct now that the import of belief has nothing to do weather it is true or not . yes . but it does show as to what a lperson is interested in . by the weight and gravitas of a subject it conceals the superficiality of a person , who chooses to bring up santa-bunny red herrings ad nausem that they learned at an athiest meeting ,instead of dealing with things that could be of ultimate importance .

      you see –this debate is not about faith verses unbelief , but rather about ”high seriuosness ” verses flippancy . i am not special pleading for my invisible freind . i dont plead . you dont think that import of belief is valid ? you call it a ”schtick” . i will show you how valid it is . i run a soup kitchen for the hungry . i visit and perform freely in prisons . i volunteer in homeless shelters . i am an anti-war activist . i take human life seriuos . this is not a schtick . it has been 38 years of commitment to the human race. and the human race is not a concept . it is the human race. for faith without works is dead. talk is cheap . and guess what ? unbelief without works is dead too. you are welcome to come down and volunteer also for those living on the margins of society . but will you ? next wed –7th and wilkes 5 pm . we would love to have another hand for soup kitchen .

      • Cubist
        March 21, 2013

        sez rocketkirchner: “Cubist, it sounds to me that you have had a bad dose of toxic christianity.”
        As far as I can tell, Xtianity is toxic. Some bits of Xtianity are significantly less toxic than others, to be sure. But less toxic is still toxic.

        “america is full of it.”
        Yes, America is indeed full of toxic Xtianity. Good of you to notice this problem. And now that you have noticed the problem, when do you intend to stop being part of it?

        “this produces Christophobia in a person.”
        Fuck off and die. A phobia is a groundless and irrational fear… and given Xtianity’s amply-documented, millennia-long track record of such fun hobbies as murder, genocide, and oppression, distaste for Xtianity is anything but groundless and irrational.

        “it can manifest itself as ‘flippancy’.”
        That’s nice. Does the ‘flippancy’ of a given response to Xtianity have any effect on how truthful that response is, how accurate that response is?

        “you are correct now that the import of belief has nothing to do weather it is true or not. yes. but it does show as to what a lperson is interested in.”
        I dunno about you, but i am interested in whether or not beliefs are true. I care about whether beliefs are true or false, and I care about whether or not people hold their beliefs for good, solid reasons, as opposed to holding their beliefs for bullshit reasons. You, it seems, don’t really care whether or not a belief is true or false, and it would also appear that you don’t really care if someone holds a belief for bullshit reasons. The thing is, it makes a difference whether or not a belief is bullshit. It makes a difference whether a believer determines the truth-value of their beliefs by means of a solid, valid methodology, or by a bullshit methodology. The same Xtian beliefs which spur some Xtians on to do good works, also spur other Xtians on to harrass, torture, and just plain kill people who don’t belong to the right religion, who aren’t the right skin color, whose life-partners aren’t the right gender…

        “you dont think that import of belief is valid?”
        So what? You don’t “think that import of belief is valid”! If you did think that, you would have already given me money, as per the Divine revelation I was kind enough to impart unto you. I mean, sheesh, is not your eternal post-mortem fate of ultimate importance? Can you afford to take the chance of ending up in eternal torment by declining to send me money?
        Like I said before: It makes a difference whether beliefs are true or false. It makes a difference whether believers hold their beliefs reasons which are valid, or, instead, for reasons which are bullshit.

  9. rocketkirchner
    March 22, 2013

    Cubist — i am not a part of the toxic christianity in America …its destructive warlike elements and just plain bigotry. i activly oppose it . your hostility and pre-judice of not knowing a person and pointing the finger at them , and them telling them to F-off is counterproductive to a real dialogue . Notice how Kevin and i speak with each other on this blog.
    if you value truth to have anything to do with the human race and its REAL problems , my offer is still open to you to come and help us allievate our fellow human beings of their pain . But i guess ad hominum is much easier than actually rolling up ones shirt sleeves and getting busy . after all ..it always is .

  10. rocketkirchner
    March 22, 2013

    Cubist , one more thing . you stated ( and it is true ) what christianity ( or should i say false christianity ) has done in its atrocitys . but one cannot blame all christians for that. to do that is as illogical as blaming atheists for the millions slaughtered under Stalin , Mao , and Pol Pot . its a straw man argument .
    Each person , no matter what they believe or disbelieve must be taken on their own merit .

    and a point which i will keep driving at is this : can one seperate what is truth from the question as to what it means to be human ? most of the christians you may have run into would not agree with me being a christian humanist . but i am . that is what i have in commen with atheist humanists. it is called HUMANISM . it is called –getting busy with serving the human race.

    it is my conviction that if one does value truth in any form , they see the solidarity of all men and women , for no man is an island , and truth does not manifest itself in a vaccum .

  11. Cubist
    March 25, 2013

    rocketkirchner, you hold beliefs which are bullshit, and you hold those beliefs for reasons which are bullshit. You refuse to subject your bullshit beliefs to the same sort of observation-based verification upon which you rely in all aspects of your life except your bullshit beliefs. You think the “truth” of a statement has more to do with the virtue of the person who makes the statement, than with the actual truth-value of that statement. In your comments here, when faced with substantial criticism, you have consistently chosen to whine about the criticism’s putative unpleasantness, rather than address the substance of that criticism—which behavior is mildly amusing in its hypocrisy, inasmuch as your Holy Bible explicitly says “be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you” (1 Peter 3:15)…
    As for the good works you claim to have done, rocketkirchner, I don’t believe you. Your words here provide no reason for me to regard your claims of good works as anything more than veiled denunciations of atheists as being morally inferior to ‘virtuous’ Xtians like yourself.
    I was, and am, willing to discuss with you your reasons for being a Xtian, rocketkirchner—and, again, your Holy Bible says, quite plainly, that you should be willing to engage in such discussion. If you decide you’d like to abide by the advice given in 1 Peter 3:15, you could perhaps scroll back up to some or all of the as-yet-unanswered questions I asked you. But if you prefer, instead, to continue puffing yourself up as a Good Xtian while sneering at unbelievers, I say fuck you, fuck the horse you rode in on, and fuck your god.

  12. rocketkirchner
    March 25, 2013

    Cubist — the passage you qouted in First Peter is contigent on the passage before it . the passage before it says ”Sanctify the Lord Christ in your heart ”. Ergo , the defence that i believe that Peter is refering to is not a verbal defence , but rather one of being a sanctified person who carrys a sense of transendence . That sense of the holy other IS the defence. as i said before –talk is cheap . and i dont believe in christian apologetics . this is not a dodge .And even if i did believe in christian apologetics , i would not offer it to you ,becuase of your hostility . you are not interested in a dialogue , but rather you want to have someone as a target.
    I refuse to be your target or to take your bait . go take your caustic attitude to someone else . i have enough civilized athiests freinds that i have known over the years that engage in freindly dialogue .

  13. Cubist
    March 26, 2013

    robertkirchner, you are continuing to use irrelevancies as an excuse for refusing to address substantial criticisms of your position. When I pointed out that observation can confirm or deny a god-concept which, while being ‘invisible’ itself, nevertheless has corollaries and consequences that are not ‘invisible, your response was tricksy ‘observations’es, we hates it forever!—sorry, your actual words were “the word ”Observable ”is a tricky word is it not ? what does one do with Schrodinger’s Cat? or for that matter Heisenberg’s ‘ Uncertainty Principle ?”
    Well, if you don’t regard ‘observation’ as a suitable tool for confirming or denying the god-concept you believe in, fine—but in that case, how the heck do you confirm or deny the god-concept you believe in? What non-‘observation’-dependent methodology do you use to confirm or deny the god-concept you believe in? I don’t see how there even can be any such methodology, myself. But at the same time, I am willing to accept that you might know something I don’t, so I asked you about it. And if you were interested in explaining yourself on this point, you could have, well, explained yourself on this point.
    But you didn’t explain yourself.
    And since you clearly think ‘observation’ is inadequate to confirm or deny the god-concept you believe in, it’s only natural to ask if said god-concept is, or is not, the only thing in your life which you deem ‘observation’ is in this way inadequate. You could have replied in any number of possible ways, including, for instance, well, I also don’t really trust observation when it comes to [insert specific areas here], and the reason/reasons why is/are [insert reasons here].
    But you didn’t bother to reply to that at all.
    You claim I am just too darn hostile to be worth responding to. So be it. But you know what? I am not the only person who’s ever going to read our exchange. And every person who reads our exchange at any future date, is going to see for themselves how a self-identified Xtian behaved. They’re going to see which questions the Xtian responded to, and which questions the Xtian ignored.
    I’m sure that any future reader who shares your constellation of Xtianity-derived biases will share your views regarding my putative ‘hostility’ or ‘prejudice’ or whatever… but I am equally sure that any future reader whose views are not distorted by Xtian biases, will not be able to avoid seeing the special pleading, fallacies in general, and cognitive distortions on which your position is vitally dependent. You go, rocketkirchner! You go! Keep up the good work!

    • rocketkirchner
      March 26, 2013

      Cubist , i will take the bait , if you promise not to do ”bait and switch ”on me . The trickyness i was refering to is the mercurial nature of epistomology itself , which scientific inquiry actually has confirmed , since that form of inquiry cannot even agree with itself .

      Quantum and Einstienian thought cannot agree so they try to come up with a comprimise in String and M theory . but the verdict is not yet out on this either. If one say , cannot even trust simple observation to arrive at simple truths per se , then how in the world can one even begin to use observational tools as they stand today to come up with any notion or idea of an absolute truth ? this is where i cast my doubt.

      Ergo , if all forms of epistomology fail , is it so far fetched to even bring up the notion of Kierkegaard’s ”Leap of Faith ” as having a possible epistemic validity in the marketplace of ideas? i think that it has as much or more credibility than anything out there . you ask me how do i confirm or deny the god concept i believe in . first off – the word belief must be defined . it is not a self initiated activity , or it is not real belief. it is a response to a subjective expereince . Embracing ”objective uncertainty” is the only way one can even enter into to this space . second –placing the word god and concept together is an oxymoron . God is not a concept . A faith proposition by its very nature does not deal conceptually , but rather it defys all categories and goes beyond literary personification into the divine as PERSON. One can choose not to believe it . fine . that is a person’s perogative . but that is the defintion of a faith proposition . Faith in a person not a concept.

      This all brings me back to my comeback on your qoute from first Peter on defence. i dont think that it can be verbal . The claim of the Christian practioner and his or her responsibility is for this Person to live thru them . so this Christian life does not come cheap . it just cant be wrangling in verbage. one must decrease so that this Person can be seen in the practioner . this means self denial . the mistake in my view that the christian apologists make –besides the fact that all of this one cannot prove , is that they take the easy way out using words instead of dying to self to allow this living divine person to shine thru them . they have embrace a ”cheapee ”. and the unbeliever around them pays the price for their replacing sacrifice for prattle . No wonder people dont believe. i cant blame them .

      When you state that there cannot be any methodology in regards to all of this –you are dead right . there is not . again –i fault a twisted form of Christendom for creating this illusion to which has boxed itself in . There is no methodology to faith . on this point we can agree. as far as knowing somethinjg that you dont , the reason why i had no response is because i dont know you and what you know . maybe you know something i dont know . or maybe i do know something that you dont know . it takes an open exchange to find this out .

      what you will find out about me is that i am very unique ( be it good or bad ) amongst christians . i better relate to my unbelieving freinds , and the christians that i do know are as eccentric and as secular than i am .

      i hope i been able to make myself clear.

  14. Patrick Lopez
    March 26, 2013

    …and shall we count on posterity failing to notice your own learned contributions to the dialogue, i.e.:

    “Fuck off and die.”

    “fuck you, fuck the horse you rode in on, and fuck your god”

    “you hold beliefs which are bullshit, and you hold those beliefs for reasons which are bullshit. You refuse to subject your bullshit beliefs to the same sort of observation-based verification upon which you rely in all aspects of your life except your bullshit beliefs.”

    Surely we are all edified.

    /snark

    Sir, there is no need for ad hominem attacks. If the conversation didn’t go exactly the way you wanted it to, it certainly wasn’t going to when you went down that road, amirite?

    You appeal to reason, and that’s fine. rocketkirchner’s speaking of a suprarational method of “proof” (proof being so tied up with reason). I say this carefully, because I do NOT mean insult: the fact that you see no other form of “proof” but reason and its attendant observation/science paradigm leads me to think that you may have a–pardon me–religious attachment to it. I know, I know, but is it not possible that you are in a circular/Jacob’s-Ladder ontological loop wherein you are unable to look outside nor above to another type of “verification”? With respect I ask this, and as a possibility I ask this.

    I’ve noticed the phrase “God knows” (not “god knows”) on several of your webpages; are you not, at some deep level, betraying yourself/a deep belief in God, or do you write this off to perhaps youthful indoctrination/a figure of speech? With respect, again, I ask this.

    Who am I? And who am I to ask this?

    A former dyed-in-the-wool atheist who, five minutes before suicide, had Christ Appear to him. A musician. A web developer. A friend of rocketkirchner. Someone who cares. I thought perhaps we might have a little dialogue that would indeed enlighten others, if not ourselves, about your questions.

    May God Bless and Keep you and yours.

    Patrick Lopez

    P.S. The one pejorative you throw out often, insanity, I think there’s more truth than insult in that. Many contemporaneous people considered Jesus of Nazareth to be crazy, and many since have concluded: He was either Who He Said He Was, or he was insane. As Kierkegaard has so exquisitely shown, Christ is meant to be an offense to us, the notion that God would, rather than riding in on Waves of Glory in the Sky be instead a dirty humble itinerant beggar/carpenter from nowhere surrounded by the worst of the worst, and that Therein lies Salvation: yeah, that’s Offensive. And, to our rational minds in this very rational/scientific age, doing/living offensively is just insane.

    P.P.S. I FULLY understand your desire for scientific/reasonable proof. I lived in MIssouri most of my life, and I needed God to “Show-Me”. I didn’t believe in God at ALL, and if there was gonna be a God, It/He/She/They could’ve been an alien, some energyplasm from the 26.2% Dimension, a Woman with 3 Heads, whatever. But certainly not JESUS. NO WAY. There was no way I was gonna believe in a mythological person who never existed and sent country after country to war and kept kids from having sex and made gay people die and said drugs were bad and sent everyone to hell for masturbating and killed you for smokin’ pot and said women were possessions and on and on and on….

    Until He Showed up. Talk about the shock of a lifetime. And in my experience I learned that He’s NOTHING like that. That my understanding (I won’t speak for others) was so misshapen and malformed as to be laughable.

    So, ok. Enough for now. I hope I’ve opened up a + line of communication here with you, because I see a lot of me in this thread (before now!). I do hope I haven’t engaged your snark cannon and/or powers of invective. I will, of course, survive nicely if I have. 🙂

    The most I hope to do here is more clearly answer your questions (which, being as it’s late on the West Coast I haven’t had time to fully peruse), and delineate what I see misunderstandings. I am NOT out to convert you; that’s not my job. I make music and websites: if you’d like to purchase either I’d be more than happy to hook you up. 😉

  15. Cubist
    March 31, 2013

    rocketkirchner :
    Cubist , i will take the bait , if you promise not to do ”bait and switch ”on me .

    I have no idea where you dragged that ‘bait and switch’ in from, and would recommend that we not discuss any such thing. If you want to insist, though, how about the bait-and-switch which is those deceitful tracts which are explicitly designed to resemble paper money until you open them up and discover that they’re just More Fucking Proselytizing, and which certain Xtians klose to leave as “tips” in restaurants?

    The trickyness i was refering to is the mercurial nature of epistomology itself , which scientific inquiry actually has confirmed , since that form of inquiry cannot even agree with itself .
    Quantum and Einstienian thought cannot agree so they try to come up with a comprimise in String and M theory . but the verdict is not yet out on this either. If one say , cannot even trust simple observation to arrive at simple truths per se , then how in the world can one even begin to use observational tools as they stand today to come up with any notion or idea of an absolute truth ? this is where i cast my doubt.

    Well, sure. The thing is, your argument here is basically observation cannot be trusted at all, end of discussion. And I have to wonder if there’s anything else in your life to which you apply this tricksy observationses, we hates it forever! schtick, other than as a prop to rationalize your otherwise-groundless belief in God?
    Like I said before, I’m pretty sure you think your (epistemologically-fallible) powers of observation are sufficient to establish that water is wet, that Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is taller than Herve Villechaize, that your mail carrier exists, and on and on and friggin’ on. But if you really were genuinely serious about discounting the validity of observations on the basis that the act of observation is epistemologically fallible… if you genuinely were serious about that, you shouldn’t accept that water is wet. Because the only way you know that, is thru the medium of your epistemologically fallible senses, so of course you shouldn’t believe that water is wet! But for some strange reason, I’m pretty sure that you do believe that water is wet. So how come you don’t invoke Epistemological Fallibility™ with respect to the proposition that water is wet, while, at the same time, you do invoke Epistemological Fallibility™ with respect to the proposition that god exists? There’s a severe discontinuity in your thinking, dude…

    Ergo , if all forms of epistomology fail , is it so far fetched to even bring up the notion of Kierkegaard’s ”Leap of Faith ” as having a possible epistemic validity in the marketplace of ideas?

    Yes, it is far-fetched to do that. Because different people’s Leaps of Faith can lead them to believe, not just different things, but flat-out contradictory things.

    i think that it has as much or more credibility than anything out there . you ask me how do i confirm or deny the god concept i believe in . first off – the word belief must be defined . it is not a self initiated activity , or it is not real belief. it is a response to a subjective expereince . Embracing ”objective uncertainty” is the only way one can even enter into to this space .

    What makes you think there even is a “space” to “enter into”? Okay, you want to believe there’s a “space” to “enter into”. Fine, but honestly, I want to believe in X is one of the absolute worst reasons for believing that X is true.

    second –placing the word god and concept together is an oxymoron . God is not a concept . A faith proposition by its very nature does not deal conceptually , but rather it defys all categories and goes beyond literary personification into the divine as PERSON.

    Make up your mind: If this god-concept of yours genuinely does “def[y] all categories”, it necessarily “defies” the “category” of “PERSON”. What the heck does it even mean to ‘defy a category’, anyway?

    When you state that there cannot be any methodology in regards to all of this –you are dead right . there is not .

    So… basically… what you’re saying here is… not just that you don’t have any good reason to believe in god, but that, in fact, that nobody has any good reason to believe in God, that there can’t be any such thing as a good reason to believe in God. You believe in God because you ruddy well want to believe in God, end of discussion.
    Hmm.
    I was already of that opinion, but I’m surprised that an Xtian would openly cop to it…

    • rocketkirchner
      April 1, 2013

      Cubist ,

      you are surprised that any Christian will copt to the utter irrationality and foolishness and any lack of methodology in regards to matters of faith . well , fine , that is what makes me different from most christians . not only will i openly copt to it , but i wear it as a badge of honor that this gospel of Christ is utter madness to any form of thinking of those outside of getting the revelation of Him. This –the rational Theist , Christian apologist will not do . why ? becuase they want to appear respectable in the eyes of others . i am not interested in respect , but rather following that which is inside me .

      as far as believing in God . i do not believe becuase i want to. it is a downright pain in the ass to follow Christ . but what do you do when he reveals Himself to YOU ? i can give you all sorts of reason as to why Christ is this and that …but i wont bullshit you . i know my history , philosophy , sociology, pyschology , literature , etc.etc…. yes , i can give you reasons , and go on and on and on … and have debated with the best of them on a whole host of subjects of many decades , including my faith . but what i have learned about matters of faith defys all category and disavows all rational thought of mental constructs that we in western civilization have collectivly and personally have built in our heads. The Buddhist understand matters of the fath in Christ better than any body i have ever met.

      our constructs are not reality . we just think they are. therefore we balk at anything that does not fit into a category . the risen Christ shatters all of that in one revelation . what can i say ? and the Christian apologist wants to turn that into a method . this is our problem .

  16. Cubist
    March 31, 2013

    Patrick Lopez :
    …and shall we count on posterity failing to notice your own learned contributions to the dialogue, i.e.:
    “Fuck off and die.”

    You’re absolutely right, Pat! I know that when I’m looking for sentiments which indicate that the sentiment-expressor is likely to be receptive to arguments like gee, other people are gonna think you’ve got a potty-mouth, sentiments like your religious beliefs are bogus and wrong, and you have no valid reasons for holding them are right up near the top of the list!
    More seriously: What’s your point, if any?

    You appeal to reason, and that’s fine. rocketkirchner’s speaking of a suprarational method of “proof” (proof being so tied up with reason). I say this carefully, because I do NOT mean insult: the fact that you see no other form of “proof” but reason and its attendant observation/science paradigm leads me to think that you may have a–pardon me–religious attachment to it.

    Bullshit I do.
    You say you have a “suprarational” methodology for determining whether or not a given concept is true? Great! Let’s see it in action. Can this “suprarational” methodology of yours determine which of the world’s N active religions is true, or at least closer to true than all the rest? Can two different people apply your “suprarational” methodology to the same proposition, and both arrive at the same truth-value for the proposition in question? I suspect that the answers to these two questions are ‘no’ and ‘no’, but I’m willing to give you a chance to demonstrate that you’ve got more than a bald and unsupported assertion here.

    I’ve noticed the phrase “God knows” (not “god knows”) on several of your webpages; are you not, at some deep level, betraying yourself/a deep belief in God, or do you write this off to perhaps youthful indoctrination/a figure of speech?

    You use the words “Wednesday” (= “Woden’s day”)and “Thursday” (= “Thor’s day”). Are you not, at some deep level, betraying your deep belief in the Norse pantheon?

  17. Cubist
    April 2, 2013

    rocketkirchner :
    you are surprised that any Christian will cop to the utter irrationality and foolishness and any lack of methodology in regards to matters of faith . well , fine , that is what makes me different from most christians . not only will i openly cop to it , but i wear it as a badge of honor that this gospel of Christ is utter madness to any form of thinking of those outside of getting the revelation of Him.

    Wow. You specifically and explicitly assert that you regard insanity as a “badge of honor”. Too bad you hadn’t been that honest up front.

    as far as believing in God . i do not believe becuase i want to. it is a downright pain in the ass to follow Christ .

    So you do this weird believe-in-Christ thing, not because you want to, but because you have some deep and abiding conviction that you literally have no choice in the matter? Sounds like clinical insanity to me. Have you considered therapy? I suspect you’ll be a much happier person after you jettison the bizarre, Christ-centered compulsion(s) which you’ve just acknowledged are “a downright pain in the ass”. Acknowledging that you have a problem is the first step on the road to solving it, you know.

  18. rocketkirchner
    April 3, 2013

    Cubist, it is not insanity to follow christ . it comes off that way to those on the outside who have not had that epiphany . i love God , but that does not make it any less a pain in the ass to follow God . why ? becuase love requires loving those who dont love me . this is the very ”outline of sanity ”. this strange form of sanity is more like a 2 edged sword of both pain and a wonderful inner change.
    My protest is in regards to those who seek to make the gospel out to be reasonable and sane to placate the non believer . i find this dishonest and cowardly . they refuse to stand in the ”foolishness of the gospel ” becuase they want to keep their reputation as intellectuals . no wonder few get converted with this approach .

    If you ever read the work of 19th century Danish Christian Existentailist Soren Kierkegaard you will know where i am coming from . his work was very influentual on 20th century Atheism after WW2 , becuase the war so devastated people that the great Literary and philsopher figures that were the leading Atheists like Camus and Sartre used Kierkegaardian termonology like ”by virtue of the absurd” , or the fact that when something goes so far beyond cerebral anaylsis one must realize that the guard rails that society and our brains set up that are so rational break down , so it is time to embrace the irrational . I gave a speech to SASHA here at M.U. last November called ”Keirkegaard’s influence on Modern Atheism ”. it did not get filmed so i had someone film a 14 min short of it at my apt and called it ”Kierkegaard Reconsidered ”. it is up on youtube under my name if you are interested .

    what you call me ”specifically and explicitly ” asserting the insanity of the matter is not literally insanity , but rather the assertion of the irrational over the rational if push comes to shove. there are many things that we cannot explain about ourselves , and once we have defined ourselves what is left over is our existence . what do we do about that ? our exsitence is undefinable and makes no sense . that is called ”the surd” –or translating into english –the irrational . Existence is a category that relates to the individual , not axioms or systems . since it cannot be defined it must be lived out ..this is the subjective journey to becoming self actualized . Decarte said ”Cogito ergo sum ” but we have gone beyond that existentially to –”i act therefore i am ” . The cognitive element is part of this but not the whole . As the rational and irrational work in tandum one becomes whole . the trouble with the hyper-rationalism of the New Atheism and New Theism of our time now is that their arguments with each other are circular and boring .

    yes , folling Christ can be a pain in the ass , but the wholess of love provided is much more healthy than being stuck in todays hyperationaistic feeback loop .

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