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This is from a comment thread on a YouTube video of mine. This fellow, BB, posted 14 comments back-to-back due to character limits. I told him I’d respond in a blog post rather than leave a huge string of comments in return. Here are his posts reconstructed into one block, and my response:
have you accepted God into your life and turned away from sins and shared the gospel with everyone you care about and know?
Um, I’m the Public Relations Director for American Atheists.
Well, you probably make a living selling books on the philosophy of Atheism. Which is a motivation for thinking you might be intellectually dishonest as your living relies on selling this philosophy, which makes it hard to ever convince you otherwise.
If not then we can have an honest and open discussion based on just logic without any agenda behind it from both our parts.
No, I don’t sell books for a living. I’m not a bookstore. I do public relations.
You seem like a cool intelligent guy. I can convince you that no religion, no church can ever cleanse you of sin, only sincere repentance, and trusting Jesus Christ as your lord and savior.
If it’s true we just go in to the ground when we die then you can’t say ‘See, I told you I was right’ and I can’t tell you ‘I’m sorry I was totally wrong’. But if it’s true there is a heaven and you can go there, wouldn’t it be logical to find out how to get there?
There’s no such thing as sin. It’s an imaginary concept. Sin (i.e. “transgression against divine law”) doesn’t really exist, because “divine law” is imaginary.
Yes, IF it were true that there is a heaven and you can go there, it would be logical to look into it. But there isn’t, and you can’t. If you want to claim otherwise, you have the burden of proof. Good luck.
ok well the burden of proof is actually on you as you claim to have proof that God doesn’t exist. If you’re not saying that you have proof then I respect your intellectual consistency and honesty. This is because the best we can do is follow the evidence, because nothing can be proved.
You can’t prove that you walked the earth yesterday. We have to go by evidence such as eye witness testimony.
So we’ve recognized that proving anything is impossible. So the next step is to trust Evidence. We can only trust Evidence if it is shown to be reliable.
So the only thing stopping you from investigating heaven and grabbing the only ticket that will get you there is because you are unsure if there is such a thing as sin.
Well I can tell you that there is such a thing as sin.
There is such a thing as sin because sin is defined outside of culture. Everyone refers to a moral code outside culture because if we lived in a culture where gassing jews or slavery was ok, it still wouldn’t make it right.
That’s why Ghandi and Martin Luther king and others like them existed. They went against their culture because they put objective moral law on top of cultural laws.
No one can live atheism out in real life consistently. For example if you found your wife in the arms of another man you wouldn’t say hey it’s your right to believe unfaithfulness is wrong so I’m not gonna judge you for it.
Loyalty is right not because anyone defines it, it’s right because that’s what we know in our hearts to be true.
God says he has written these moral codes in our hearts. These objective moral laws are intelligently and lovingly created by an intelligent and loving being.
God respects our free will to choose to do right or to do wrong, that’s why people choose to be unfaithful and others choose to be faithful.
So if there is no God then morality is subjective, it’s all relative so Hitler was right in his opinion and I am right in my opinion. Then chaos erupts.
No God, no harmony, no justice. Just chaos and destruction.
Which speaks allot to the condition and the reason for the condition of some parts of the world today.
So once we’ve deduced rationally that there is a God who gives us objective moral values and we can choose or not choose to follow these, then we can go on to find out what happens if we choose to follow these or not.
If we don’t then God grants us our desire. Eternity away from him. If we do then God grants us our desire. Eternity with him.
I’d say I wouldn’t want to find out what eternity is like without him, why? because Satan is without God by his own choosing and he rules hell. Would you want to meet Satan and find out what kind of gastly things he would do to you?
I’d prefer heaven where everything is awesome.
Also I want to take as many people with me to heaven cuz I love my fellow human being. 100 years is nothing vs eternity.
If someone gave me a billion dollars to be without God I’d rather be a homeless person with God because this life is so short anyways.
Okay, so we’ve defined how God exists, what’s good and evil, free will and what sin is.
Now we have to find out what God wants from us. 1. Put your trust in him to guide your life. 2. To show loyalty, love and trust, then turn from sin, otherwise you become a hypocrite.
No sin is worth going to hell over. Remember Jesus spoke more about hell then he did about heaven. He described it as a lake of fire. I would assume that it’s a place of total destruction and chaos. Maybe the equivalent of a dentist poking your nerve for eternity.
Not paradise. lol
In the end, not sinning and praying sincerely from forgiveness isn’t hard.
I don’t think if someone offered you 100 women to pleasure you sexually outside the blessing of God, but you had to site in a dentists chair and take him touching your nerve for 8 hours, you would absolutely deny it. Why? Because it ain’t worth it.
That’s just 8 hours. lol imagine forever. So in perspective it’s good news.God offers you a free ticket to heaven, just take it man and share it with as many people as possible, especially those you wanna see in heaven with you such as your loved ones.
Dude, I’m pleading with you just do it. Any reputation or wealth in this life is not worth it. Now why would I sit here and write a 13 comment reply to you, not asking for money, not to join a religion or to even go to a church, spending my own time?
I don’t believe in silly things. Please for the love of God, do it.
Thanks for listening. Any other questions you might wanna ask?
You’ve got to be kidding me. First of all, just, wow, 14 comments back to back. I’m strongly considering banning you, except that skimming them, it appears you are sincere. I’m going to respond to this, but not here; I have a blog and I’m going to do it there. The blog is at muSASHA . o r g. I can’t do it tonight but I’ll get to it when I can.
And here’s my full response:
If you are making the positive claim that a god exists, you have the burden of proof. Same goes for sin.
I agree with you about your stance on evidence and our inability to prove things with 100% certainty. It’s called the problem of induction and I’m totally with you there.
I’m not “unsure” about the existence of sin. I mean, in a very technical sense, I’m agnostic about it, but for all practical purposes, I don’t believe sin exists, because I don’t believe in divine law, because I don’t believe in anything supernatural. If you want to convince me sin exists, you first have to show me that divine law exists. In order to do that, you have to convince me that a divine lawgiver exists. So really, being “unsure” about sin is NOT the “only thing” holding me back. I don’ t believe in your god, either.
You speak of objective morality. Objective from what? You mean, outside of culture? It seems like that’s what you’re saying. If all life in the universe were to be wiped out at the same instant, would slavery still be unethical? I don’t know if we can really answer that. It wouldn’t matter at that point. Ethics, the subfield of philosophy that prescriptively tells us how we ought to act, is a human invention—and we are the only species that has them, that we’re aware of—but morals (a subfield of ethology, that descriptively tells us how animals interact) evolve in cooperative species all by themselves. There’s a lot of game theory involved but this is not a mystery to science. If you’re interested in how morality evolved, I recommend Matt Ridley’s wonderful book, “The Origins of Virtue: Human Instincts and the Evolution of Cooperation.” Other good books are Robert Axelrod’s “The Evolution of Cooperation” and Samuel Bowles & Herbert Gintis’ “A Cooperative Species: Human Reciprocity and Its Evolution.” The last two are pretty math-heavy but they do an excellent job of explaining how this works, and Richard Dawkins wrote the forward of the former.
Slavery is wrong because we decided that people have rights and shouldn’t be owned by other people. That’s not objectively provable, and it wasn’t always the case. Our society has progressed ethically from the time when slavery was the norm (although by raw numbers, not per capita, there are more slaves in the world today than at any point in history). I disagree with your conclusion that sin exists and we can know this because everyone “refers” to a moral code outside of culture. I don’t, for one. Moral codes are inextricable from culture from an ethology perspective.
On to your next point: You say “no one can live out atheism consistently” because, for example, if I found my wife in bed with someone else, I wouldn’t be okay with it. What?…
First of all, that’s a non sequitur. Atheism is the simply the lack of belief in the existence of all gods. This has absolutely nothing to do with sexual ethics?… You seem to be missing about a dozen premises between your first premise and your conclusion there. Second of all, you don’t know me. I would be fine with that; I’m polyamorous. I would hope that she’s being safe about it, but I wouldn’t begrudge someone for having consensual sex. My wife is not my property and as an adult, she can make her own decisions about who she has sex with. I wouldn’t go so far as to say it’s none of my business, but I would not be mad or jealous. Please note: I’m speaking hypothetically because I’ve never been married, although I was engaged for awhile once.
Then you go on to say that loyalty is right not by definition but because “we know in our hearts” that it is. Yeah, that’s the evolved morality thing we were talking about earlier. See 3 paragraphs up. By the way, loyalty is not always right; it depends on your system of ethics. Hitler’s troops were following orders when they gassed Jews. I think we’d both agree that what they were doing wasn’t ethical, even though they were being loyal when they did it.
Next you claim that God has written these moral codes in our hearts. A couple of major problems here: You jumped right into “God has…” without first showing that a god exists in the first place. What is your argument for god’s existence? Secondly, what do you mean he has “written in our hearts” blah blah blah? I assume you don’t mean that literally; a heart is a muscle and I’m pretty certain there’s no classical Hebrew etched in there, although I haven’t physically checked because that could prove rather tricky 😉 If you mean that God has imprinted a gut feeling of these moral codes, then we can work with this. First of all, I try not to think with my gut; I try to think with my brain. The reason I try not to think with my gut is that my gut and your gut can disagree and there’s really no good way to resolve that as far as knowing who’s right and who’s wrong. Only with evidence and logic can we systematically rule out wrong answers and settle on right ones. Second, again, we have this problem that you haven’t shown your god exists at all, let alone that he has done any such thing as imprint moral codes into us. Citation needed!
These objective moral laws are intelligently and lovingly created by an intelligent and loving being.
Bare assertion. Citation needed.
God respects our free will…
I’m not even remotely convinced that humans have free will. Free from what, anyway? The laws of physics? First define “free will,” then convince me that we have it, and we can go down this road. And you still haven’t explained how you know a god exists at all, nor how you claim to know that he respects our free will, even if we have it.
Next you go off on a spiel basically saying that if there were no god, then there would be “no harmony, no justice. Just chaos and destruction.”
Well, that pretty much seems to be the case. The universe doesn’t know or care that we exist. Nature just does what it does, following simple patterns, or as we call them, laws. Complexity can come out of this, e.g. life on Earth as we recognize it. We have perfectly adequate, natural explanations for all of this. What makes you think there IS justice? Sometimes bad things happen to good people, and sometimes good things happen to bad people. Lots of people in the world are dying of starvation and elsewhere in the world, someone is tying $4,000 to some helium-filled balloons and letting it float away just because he can afford it and he’s bored. Look around, man. There’s no justice. The world is what we make of it.
Reading through the rest of your post, I don’t even really see the point of continuing from here. Your argument is a mess and since your later premises depend on your earlier ones, I think you need to go back and revisit them before we can move forward.
Feel free to try again! Thanks for your message(s).
Until next time,
Dave 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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