In a majority Christian town, in a majority Christian state, the fact that a Christian was in the path of the storm and later said she prayed is rather mundane and expected.  The implication that she was violating some prohibition on prayer is false and based on her own ignorance of the law.

Mrs. Crosswhite said she did something teachers are not suppose to do, however teachers are in no way prohibited from praying.  Her act was perfectly within her rights to do whenever she wants.  Some Christians pretend that their god is being forced out of the schools when no such thing has ever happened.  What was challenged and stopped by Engel v. Vitale was the usurpation of government power by Christians to impose their religion on a captive audience of children.

Rhonda Crosswhite seemingly believes in the existence of a god which is all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-present, possessing a benevolent/caring nature.  She also appears to think that her prayer somehow effected her survival.  The question arises that, if she were spared death because she prayed, why were the other 24 people who likely prayed up to the end not spared as well?  If the god to whom Crosswhite was praying was going to allow her to live regardless of her prayers then what was the point of praying?

What is implied if we hold the god hypothesis to be true?  It implies that Crosswhite’s god is actually not benevolent or caring but rather malevolent and capricious.

If her god was willing to save everyone but unable then he is not all-powerful.
If her god was able to save everyone but unwilling then he is malevolent.
If her god was able and willing to save everyone then nobody should have died.
If her god is neither able nor willing to save everyone then there is no reason to call that being a god.

Interesting wrote:

I did tag where I first encountered your behavior, and you responded. That’s okay, you don’t have to act like I did that, even though I did. But that’s okay, I can see there will be know convincing you to be civil at any point. You call me immature, that’s fine. I haven’t admitted to the opposite. I just think everybody should be held accountable for what they say, you included. that’s all. Deny away, but I did tag the post where this all encountered, going on two weeks ago, now

As far as I am concerned I have been civil. Your definition of civil include far more requires than mine. Being civil simply means not engaging in hostility toward another person. I don’t know what you think it means.
In what way would you hold someone else accountable for their thoughts. What kinds of punishments would you like to see handed down.

Interesting wrote:

I don’t know man. I just know that if somebody insulted your intelligence, you’d get pretty upset too. That’s what I was doing. Sticking up for the people you were essentially referring to as clueless, dumb, etc. for believing in God. Only to turn it to say that you don’t like religion being shoved down your throat, which I agree with, but I was trying to make you see that you were doing the same thing on here, with not believing. I believe we can all coexist( I hate that word but seems fitting) without insulting each other’s belief system, whether it involves a god or not. Do you at least see where I’m coming from in this respect?

Why would I get upset at someone insulting me? It does me no injury when someone says something mean to me. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg. The only reason people become angry over insults is because they choose to become angry.
You were sticking up for people over things you imagined were happening. I never said anyone was dumb for believing in gods,’credulous’ sure,’misinformed’ certainly, but not dumb or stupid. I have accused people of being ignorant, which is synonymous with clueless, but ignorance is not stupidity. Ignorance is a lack of knowledge or understanding, in that regard I am ignorant or clueless of many things. I admit my ignorance and religious people do not. It is not an insult.
I do not think I’ve ever told someone not to shove their religion down my throat. I do not want them using the government to promote their religion but they are free to speak to me about it, I’m happy to listen to what they have to say only because I enjoy debate and look forward to eviscerating their faith claims with contradictory evidence and logic.
I am not doing "the same thing" here. This is an open message board. I can no more force my views on anyone than they can force their views on me. Everyone involved here must willingly come to this website and look at what is being written.
You believe we can all coexist, great, I am not promoting the separation or extermination of anyone. Not insulting someone’s beliefs system would require limits on free inquiry, open-mindedness, and the pursuit of ideas for their own sake. There is no polite way to suggest to someone that they have devoted their life to folly. Being offended is subjective and nothing more than a whine. "I’m offended by that!" Well so what? They can be offended.
I do see where you are coming from, I just think you are wrong. Now you may choose to take offense at that but I refer you back to what I just wrote on the matter.

The Distressed Theist

Apr 26, 2013

Mednurse wrote:

There are a lot of atheists blaming the Boston attack on religion. But you, ATR, you make me worried now. You rant and rave about our religion and about our God. You disagree with us on the Bible and its preachings. And now you tell us that there are more of you (atheists) than we think. That you are embedded in our everyday life. What would you (atheists) do to stop our religion? Would you (atheists) walk around w backpacks w bombs too in order to prove your point??? You (atheists) say you will not quit until this world is "free of religion." Does that mean you will use whatever force you deem appropriate? Please tell me at what expense you choose to change people’s views and open their eyes to your non-religion? Isn’t that what those brothers did in Boston? They killed and injured many people for their religion? Would you (atheists) do the same for your "non-religion?"

The Boston attack WAS a result of religious fervor, the Islamic sort.  So let’s get that fact out of the way first.

Ranting involves writing in an angry or violent manner, I do not do that; and raving is talking or behaving irrationally, and I abhor that.  Either you’re taking a cheap shot or do not know the meaning of the words, either way I wanted to sort that out.

Correct, I do disagree with you.

Yes, there are more non-believers than you think.

Embedded is a odd word choice, it gives the impression that non-believers are trying to infiltrate something for nefarious reasons.  That is not the case at all, we just want to live our lives free of religious interference in government or persecution for not accepting religious claims as reality.  You need not worry about anything.

I can’t speak for every non-believer, we’re not some collective hive mind but to set your mind at ease I would not wish to stop religion even if I had that power.  First, that would violate my own principles of free-thought and make me morally no better then your god in that I would be punishing people for not believing what I require.  Second, I realize that religion will exist as long as people are afraid of the dark, their own death, and things otherwise unknown.

Would I bomb people to prove my point? Tell me, exactly what point would be proven via the infliction of death and grievous bodily injury on innocent people?  What possible thing would that accomplish?  Nothing, that is the answer.

"You atheist"? Is that like "you black people" or "you Muslims" or "you Jews"?  That is the phrasing of a bigot.  If history tells us anything it is that the Abrahamic religions are the ones who are willing to employ whatever force they deem appropriate to spread belief in their god.

What expense will I go to change people’s views?  Well, if by expense you mean force then none whatsoever. Attempting to equate atheism with what the brothers did in Boston is absurd.  They were Muslims, upset over the US involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan.  They acted out of a sense of revenge.

As far as atheist are concerned. "Our belief is not a belief. Our principles are not a faith. We do not rely soley upon science and reason, because these are necessary rather than sufficient factors, but we distrust anything that contradicts science or outrages reason. We may differ on many things, but what we respect is free inquiry, open-mindedness, and the pursuit of ideas for their own sake." – CH

The Pretentious Theist

Apr 26, 2013

diamond wrote:

As I stated earlier I will NOT argue with anyone over ANY religious or non religious view. I personally don’t care what anyone says or thinks. Like I said earlier I believe in God. I believe he created me. But do I have any tangible proof…nope…none of us do for anything we believe except what we’ve been taught from books, letters etc from thousands of years ago. It’s all in what you choose to believe. I choose to believe there is a Higher Power and it’s God. If you or anyone else doesn’t….doesn’t and won’t matter to me:) I am kinda stubborn and so unless "I" choose to change my mind to someone else’s way of thinking….in my best southern twang "Ain’t gonna happen"…..

It says a lot about someone who injects themselves into a conversation and begins his remarks with "I personally don’t care what anyone says or thinks" before proceeding to say a great deal about what he himself thinks.  Arrogant would be an apt description of such a person, for though they are completely within their rights not to give a damn about opposing views, the fact that they assume others are obliged to give a damn about theirs is outright pretentious.

Diamond, you say you believe in a god.  In your words, I don’t care what you say or think about god.  Show me your evidence.  You say you believe this god created you. I don’t care what you say or think created you. Show me your evidence.

Now, you admit that you have no proof but then continue on to fatuously assert that nobody else has proof of what they think.  You further assert, quite incorrectly, that we all believe things simply because we read them in a book.  This is a flat out lie and you know it but just for good measure I will give you some examples.

I once read in an astronomy book that the planets Venus, Mars, and Jupiter are part of our solar system. I do not believe these planets exist merely because I read about them. I have directly observed Venus raising and setting with the sun. I have directly observed Mars.  I have seen Jupiter many nights with my bear eyes and with the aid of binoculars I have even seen four of the Jovian moons (Io, Europa, Ganymede and Calisto).

I read in a book that when metal is moved though a magnetic field it generates an electric current.  I have done this and confirmed it to be true.  I also read that electricity passing though metal generates a magnetic field.  I have wrapped wire around nails and picked up other metal objects, confirming it to be true.

So no, your statement is absolutely and demonstrably false.  We do not believe things merely because they are written down. Truth it is not determined or effected by what we choose to believe, truth is founded upon objective evidence.  As your god claim has no evidence there is no reason for anyone to think it is true, but like you said, you don’t give a damn about that?

You may choose to believe there is a Higher Power and name it God, but again in your words I don’t care what you say or what you think about your god.  Show me your evidence, otherwise your god will continue to be considered imaginary.

If you wish to remain bogged down in stultifying myth and superstition, choosing to explain your ignorance away by appealing to some magical "Higher Power", then you only do yourself a disservice.  If nothing anyone can say will change your mind then we are quite happy not having you waste your time commenting about that fact.  You are welcome to take your magic story book and go chat about what you like to believe with others who will not challenge you to support your beliefs.  When you are ready to face your fears, grow up and learn about reality then we will be here for you.

Mednurse wrote:
But WHY does it bother YOU so much? What has Christianity done to harm you? Me stuffy ing my bible at home or at church does not hurt anyone. It’s what I have a right to believe. Just about every country in the world has a BELIEF IN A HIGHER BEING….whether it be ppl in Africa, Afganastan, or wherever…..people look for smthing greater than themselves. What is wrong w that? I would rather believe in GOD and His word for us than NOT to believe. Does that hurt you? Does that hurt anybody else. No. I don’t deny anyone medical help (I’m a nurse), I don’t deny anyone equal rights, I don’t think me believing in GOD infests our government in any way. I am just happy to worship openly, have a church to go to and am able to worship w my family any time I feel. Does that actually hurt you?

You’re asking me why your religion bothers me so much, just to be clear it isn’t just your religion.  Religion bothers me because it makes normally good people say and do wicked things.  Westboro Babtist wouldn’t be protesting funerals if it were not for religion.  The Mormon church would not be fighting to deny rights to certain citizens if it were not for religion.  Stem-cell research would not be stifled if not for religion.  46% of our county would not hold creationist views of human origins if not for religion.  Gays would not be assaulted at random or even killed if not for religion.  Of course I do not expect you to take any of these things into account, you’ll make a No true Scotsman argument and claim that none of those people are real Christians.

What has Christianity done to me?  It stifled my mind for 24 years and retarded my education as I rejected anything that did not conform to the religion of my parents.  It lead me to hate certain types of people for no good reason.  It indoctrinated me to hate myself for being human, that somehow just being born and living to a certain age made me accountable for the so-called sins of distant ancestors.  Christianity indoctrinated me to consider thoughts to be dangerous, that doubt was a crime, that rejecting the claims of one book, for any reason at all, meant I was worthy, deserving even, to have my flesh roasted from by body in a torment without end.  Christianity compelled me to become a thought slave to an invisible yet somehow telepathic father figure who said that love meant kneeling before him and begging him not to punish me for being human.  Although it has led to physical harm, like the murder of George Tiller, Christianity doesn’t have to cause physical harm to be detrimental.  The cult mindset of "think and do as you are told or suffer the consequences" is harm enough.  Christianity is a mind forged manacle which offers the promise of eternal bliss in some afterlife if only you will submit the will of select men of god in this life.

Asserting that just about every country in the world has a BELIEF IN A HIGHER BEING is completely irrelevant.  You are committing an argumentum ad populum fallacy by concluding that X is true because many or most people believe it.

What is wrong with believing in a high power?  First, there is no evidence for one and one should not believe things without evidence.  Second, people inevitably come to different conclusions concerning the nature of their higher power which historically leads to them killing each other over who is correct.

So you would rather believe in an imaginary GOD and a magic book than NOT to believe, WHY?  What does it benefit you to believe in tall tales and epic fantasy?

Does that hurt people?  You individually, no, your religion collectively, yes.

So you don’t think believing in your GOD infests our government in any way.  Then why are same sex couples still being denied equal rights?  The answer, god belief.

I do not begrudge your want to be happy to worship openly.  I do not seek to deny your going to church and worshiping with your family any time your want.  Does that actually hurt me?  NO, but I did not claim that as the reason I reject, refute, and ridicule religion.

Dear Evalyn Bennett:

In your open to letter to the SCOTUS you presented arguments in opposition to equal rights for same sex couples.  After reading your letter I found your arguments to be founded upon fallacious reasoning which, even though the SOCTUS will dismiss your letter, I thought I would take time to debunk and refute your arguments publicly.

You begin with the argument that “The reason you [SCOTUS] are having difficulty reviewing the cases [DOMA & Prop 8] is because the premise for their consideration is found in God’s moral law (natural law), not the Constitution.”  This argument commits the fallacy of argumentum ad verecundiam or appeal to authority.  There is no reason to consider the divine revelation of your religious scripture to be authoritative.  Further, the laws of the United States and the judiciary are not contingent upon or bound by the allegedly revealed truth contained in your scriptures; we are not a theocracy.  The argument is also a fallacious appeal to nature, the claim that a thing is good because it is ‘natural’, or bad because it is ‘unnatural’.  Even if we can agree that some things are natural and some are not, what follows from this?  The answer is: nothing.  There is no factual reason to suppose that what is natural is good (or at least better) and what is unnatural is bad (or at least worse).

You then assert that the “interpretation of DOMA and Proposition 8 must be based on the cultural and moral context of the United States at the time the Constitution was written and ratified.”  This is false for if that were the case then slavery, being both culturally and morally acceptable at the time the Constitution was written and ratified, would still be allowed.  As a matter of fact, your Christian forbearers argued just as you are now that slavery was endorsed by their god, that it was allowed by scripture and was therefore good and moral.  Our society evolved and through the application of reason, as opposed to revelation, decided that the ownership of black people by white people was actually immoral.  Society adapted and changed for the betterment of everyone which is what you will see again with the striking down of laws forbidding equal rights and privileges to same sex couples.

You are partially correct, the “Constitution and Bill of Rights do not define or assert traditional marriage as an inalienable right” however the reason is not “because it was inconceivable to the Framers of the Constitution”. The Bill of Rights does not grant us our rights nor does it define all the rights we claim for ourselves.  By your logic, as a female you should have your right to vote revoked because the Constitution and Bill of Rights do not define or assert that women have such a right.  It was inconceivable to the Framers of the Constitution that women would actually want a voice in government.  Perhaps they were just obeying 1 Timothy 2:12.

You assert that discrimination against homosexuals has been “based on the Old and New Testament teachings of our Judeo-Christian heritage” and “has prevailed in our nation until very recently.”   The fact that something is traditional does not make it correct.  Our laws are not contingent on the Old or New Testament, if they were we would be stoning disobedient children to death and forcing rape victims to marry their rapist.  John Adams himself signed the Treaty of Tripoli affirming that “the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion”

You cite correctly that “until 1973 homosexual conduct was considered deviant behavior by the American Psychiatric Association” but this fact is irrelevant.  Psychology is a science and not a religion; it changed its views to fit with observation.   The current research and clinical literature demonstrate that same-sex sexual and romantic attractions, feelings, and behaviors are normal and positive variations of human sexuality, reflecting the official positions of the American Psychiatric Association and the American Psychological Association.  Your derision of the SCOTUS for striking down state sodomy laws reflects your anger over secular civil law trumping religious law.  What consenting adults do in the privacy of their own home, as much as you would like to impose your religion on them, is of no concern to you or the state.

You claim that “the institution of marriage between one man and one woman is defined by God, and it is not man’s prerogative to change God’s moral law.  His law is codified in the numerous statutes recorded in the Old Testament.”  SCOTUS is not hearing arguments pertaining to a change of your religious law, we are not a theocracy and are not governed by your religious law.  This issue concerns civil law, the law which actually governs our society.   The laws of United States are entirely separate from and in no way subordinate to the religious laws enacted by 6000 year old Middle Eastern tribes, a fact that seems to escape you.  Are you honestly unaware of how our government operates or are you being willfully ignorant so as to argue for the imposition of certain theocratic laws which have been cherry picked from your scripture?

You cite that “the Constitution does not grant homosexuals a fundamental ‘right’ to marriage” but nor does it grant heterosexuals a right to marry, it is silent on the issue.  There is no rational basis for your constitutionally undeclared “right to marry” to be granted special recognition and treatment by the government.  Your assertion that “what God has unequivocally deemed wrong, man’s law can never make right” is another appeal to authority.  Secular law is not contingent on religious pronouncements and though you have every right to shout, write letters and preach sermons about what your god has deemed wrong, unless you can provide a rational basis to conclude something is wrong, your claim is unworthy of consideration.

Your assertion that the 40,000 children being raised by gay couples is a tragedy is ridiculous on its face.  It is so absurdly bigoted that I will not insult the intelligence of the reader by bothering to refute it.

Your claim that granting equal protection to homosexual couples will lead to things like bestiality and incest is not only a slippery slope fallacy but absurd.  Adultery and sex outside of marriage are not unlawful nor do we obey your religious law whereby god commands the execution of adulterers.  Attempting to tie marriage rights for gay couples with bestiality and incest is a non-sequitur argument.

You assert that your First Amendment right of religious freedom would be infringed because “Bible-believing Christians would be forced to pay taxes to provide benefits to same-sex “marriage” partners of federal employees.”  This argument fails for an obvious reason, the reception of federal benefits by people whom your religion condemns and whom you despise in no way infringes upon your right to practice religion.  Your freedom of religion does not require the Congress to seek religious approval before spending money.  You pay taxes as a citizen of the United States; there is no such thing as Christian tax dollars or Muslim tax dollars, your religious affiliation is irrelevant.  Your right to religious freedom is in no way infringed when someone with a different sexual orientation receives equal treatment from the government.

You claim that DOMA and Prop. 8 enacted your god’s standard of marriage.  If that is true then that is the only reason needed to justify their being struck down.  Laws based on nothing but religious pronouncement clearly violate the First Amendment’s establishment clause.

You assert that “God’s moral law does not need the defense of DOMA, Proposition 8, or the states’ amendments”.  Then I have to ask, why did you waste your time writing an open letter to the SCOTUS?  If you actually believe what you just wrote then it should not matter if the SCOTUS grants equal protection to same-sex couples, your god does not need those laws.  You go on to cite further scriptures and even reference the myth of Sodom and Gomorrah as if you are unaware that the SCOTUS does not base judicial decisions on religious scripture.  Did you actually read the story? Lot did not seem very worried about marriage or fornication when he offered his two virgin daughters to be raped by the crowd of men outside his house.  Could that be because at the time the myth was written women were seen as property and rape was OK if you were trying to protect a couple of strangers?  I wonder if the SCOTU would have ignored that part like you?

Your claim that the SCOTUS is accountable to your god is absurd, your god is completely unsubstantiated.  Your god, if he does exist, has seemingly chosen to keep his all-powerful mouth shut on every issue you have cited.  The fact is your god, if he actually existed, is apparently apathetic about the issue.  The only people raising hell are religious zealots upset at the fact that their religion, with its Bronze Age morality and magical claims, is not being taken seriously in our modern civil society.

Like the slave owners and racist of decades past, society evolved away from irrational and immoral traditions and toward a better society.  They were on the wrong side of history and in a few decades, after you have passed away, generations to come will look back and note that you too were among the bigots and backward thinkers also on the wrong side of history.

Sincerely,

John Tremblay [EMAIL]

AccordingToReason.org

Working for the Lord wrote,

You say the rock didn’t mean truth or christ, it just meant rock, untrue. Then he adds, ‘Happy the man who takes your little ones and dashes them against a rock’—as if he would say: Happy the man who seized the things generated from you, ‘the enemy’, i.e. the evil thoughts [logismoi], not giving them a chance to grow strong in him and constrain him to evil deeds, but immediately, while they are still in their infancy, before they are fed and grow strong against him,[ flings them down on the rock, which is Christ.] In other words he utterly destroys them by taking refuge in Christ. (pp. 174-5)
St Dorotheus’s interpretation of this Psalm is completely foreign to the average modern reader, long accustomed to reading the Scriptures at a purely literal, historical level. By way of contrast with the Abba, consider John S. Kselman’s note on these verses in The New Oxford Annotated Bible: ‘Though anti-Babylonian sentiments are found elsewhere (e.g., Jer 50-51, Lam 4.21), none are so vividly compact as this’ (The New Oxford Annotated Bible with the Apocryphal/Deuterocanonical Books, 3rd ed., ed. Michael D. Coogan [Oxford: Oxford U, 2001], p. 894).

What I said was that, metaphorical or not, the passage says "Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones."  The passage is talking about Babylon being paid back for what it did to Israel which includes Israel smashing their "little ones" against rocks.  You constantly accuse others of taking the Bible out of context but here you blatantly re-imagine the plain meaning of words to force the passage to say something that you are more comfortable with, something you want your Bible to say.  This is one reason I threw out religion, I grew tired of having to perform mental gymnastic just to keep what I was reading from conflicting with my own moral compass and what god was said to be like.

If you read what it actually says the question must be asked what kind of just and moral god would approve of or require anyone to slaughter children?  The answer is easy if you are willing to honestly question your own religion; no just and moral god would require such a thing.  That answer is a problem for those who want to hold on the whole "just and loving god" claim, so what do they do?  Well, some do like you and pretend as if the text actually means something completely different.  Other exempt their god from his own moral edicts and embrace a hypocritical "do as I say not as I do" kind of god.  They argue that, being god, when he commands children to be slaughtered then, because he commanded it, slaughtering children in that instance is good, just, and morally sound.

Both of those dishonest techniques for resolving the conflict are only needed by those who have decided the answer before asking the question.  You are beginning with the presupposition that your god is good, just, moral, kind, loving, etc. etc. and hold up your holy book as evidence of this.  Except that when we actually read what the book says we find that in fact your god is none of those things.  Ah, but that cannot be, the book cannot conflict with what has have already decided, the book must agree with what has been presupposed.  So you ignore the plain language and reinterpret (subjectively comprehend) what the book says to agree with your presupposition.

I concluded that if their were a supreme being which ruled the cosmos no such being would have authored such a convoluted collection of stories nor would he have undertaken such a convoluted "plan" to "save" his creation from a problem he knew would occur before it was created.  If there is a supreme being it is not the one described in the Bible or any other man written holy book for that matter.  If there is a supreme being it would seem that after he made the cosmos he decided to just let it ride and watch what happened or moved on to something else.

Guest wrote:

“I am truly enjoying this game you started so let’s play some more. You state that you are an atheist, and I will take your words at face value since, as I am certain you know, there is a difference between atheist and agnostic. You posed a challenge to Christians regarding their religion or faith, so let me pose one to you regarding your faith. Since at the end of the day an atheistic system requires faith. My challenge is simple but if you cannot complete it I will assume you are willing to become a Christian–I hope you recognize my restructuring of ur words with that last phrase.
Prove to me that no type of deity or god exists. A simple task; I look forward to your response.

With all due respect, you are mistaken.  Although there is a difference between ATHEISM and AGNOSTICISM the two are not mutually exclusive, they refer two different questions.

Atheism / Theism pertain to belief; do you believe or not.
Agnosticism / Gnosticism pertain to knowledge; do you know or not.

So whereas you would likely be a Gnostic Theist, meaning that in addition to believing in a deity you also claim to know the deity exists.  I would be an Agnostic Atheist, meaning that I do not believe in the existence of deities nor do I claim to know for certain that deities are nonexistent.

In your post you pose a question regarding our so-called faith and assert that an atheistic system requires faith.  This is nonsensical since atheism is not a positive assertion itself but rather the rejection of the theist assertion; atheism would be unneeded in the absence of theistic claims.  Rejecting theistic claims does not require faith because there is no burden of proof which requires evidence in lieu of faith.

Your challenge is not simple it is fallacious.  To begin with, you are shifting the burden of proof and pretending that if someone cannot disprove the existence of a deity then your position that deities exist is therefore valid.  Your "simple" challenge is also dishonest in that your deities, as best anyone can tell, are un-falsifiable.  Deities are said to exist outside the bounds of our observable universe.  So in addition to your challenge being logically fallacious it is effectively beyond the capabilities of anyone to meet.  Your "simple task" remark is a lie.

The following will show the absurdity of your challenge using your own phrasing with a different subject.

My challenge is simple but if you cannot complete it I will assume you are willing believe in Leprechauns.  Prove to me that no type of Leprechaun exists.  A simple task; I look forward to your response.

My challenge is simple but if you cannot complete it I will assume you are willing believe in Unicorns.  Prove to me that no type of Unicorn exists.  A simple task; I look forward to your response.

My challenge is simple but if you cannot complete it I will assume you are willing believe in the pantheon of Mount Olympus.  Prove to me that none of the Greek gods exist.  A simple task; I look forward to your response.

A 5th grader could see that what you propose and the conclusion you draw is patently absurd and I would bet money that you would just believe in any of those things simply because you could not disprove them.

Atheist do not simply assume belief in things because they cannot be dis-proven.  That is not rational and would require a belief in every magical thing ever claimed to exist.  Rather we examine claims on the merits of what objective evidence leads to the conclusion that the claim is true.  It is only in the absence of this objective evidence that faith has arise as an excuse to just believe the claim regardless.  Atheism is nothing but a conclusion concerning the claim that gods exist, a conclusion based on nothing more than the lack of objective evidence supporting the claim and an unwillingness to lie to ourselves and assume the claim is true because it might make us feel better.

Guest wrote:
Thank you for agreeing with me. I only have a few moments to write, but I am glad you have stated your views. You inferred that I said atheism and agnosticism are mutually exclusively, but that was not my intent. I made the parenthetical statement simply to give Auntie Theist an opportunity to clarify his/her own opinion in case I had mis-understood it.

Regarding your agreement with me. You state that atheism is about belief; so do I. Although I am a little confused because later in your post you say that it is nonsensical to state that atheism requires faith. Please explain to me the definitions you are using for the words believe/belief and faith because I do not see the distinction in the terms. Auntie Theist stated that he/she has no faith therefore denying that atheism is a belief system. All of my question directed to Auntie Theist have been with the specific purpose of illustrating that atheists have faith, or they believe something to be true, just like people who have religion have faith, or believe something to be true. If one claims that he/she does not have faith but rather has knowledge–like Auntie Theist claims, then I am simply asking the person to prove his or her knowledge. Is that unreasonable?

Regarding the reasonableness of the Christian faith and the veracity of Christian tradition I suggest you read some of Michael Grant’s works, perhaps you already have, I certainly don’t want to assume. If you are not familiar with Dr. Grant, he was a leading ancient historian until the time of his death, and he wrote extensively on the historical reliability of the gospels as compared to other historical documents of the same time period.

The definitions I am using for the words believe/belief and faith are as follows.

BELIEF – to be convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that a given claim is true.

FAITH -(as used in religion) is the excuse to believe an infallible truth, engrained by divine guidance on a first impression, which is asserted as fact in the absence of evidence and defended against all evidence to the contrary.

The distinction is that BELIEF/NON-BELIEF is the conclusion and that FAITH/EVIDENCE are reasons given for reaching the conclusion.

Your questions directed to Auntie Theist may have been intended to illustrate that atheists have faith but believing something to be true does necessitate an appeal to faith. Where there is evidence faith is unnecessary. People who have religion require faith to believe their claims are true because there is a complete absence of evidence.

If someone claims to have knowledge then asking for evidence is not unreasonable. However atheism is not a positive claim, it is the rejection of a claim, otherwise known as a the null hypothesis (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Null_hypothesis ) which by definition can never be proven.

As far as the the reliability of the gospels, I hate to break it to you but no amount of witness testimony can substantiate a miracle. I could cite Professor Bart D. Ehrman and Dr. Richard Carrier to refute Dr. Grant but name dropping gets us nowhere. The question must asked, assuming that an eccentric Rabbi did wander the Israel for three years claiming to be the savior of mankind and a handful of people managed to write down what they saw and heard. This does not prove, it doesn’t even suggest, that his mother was a virgin, or his father was god, or he changed water into wine, or he raised the dead, or he walked on water, or that he himself rose from the dead after being executing. None of those things are remotely provable. The gospels, even if you ignore their disagreements, amount to hearsay.

You must be careful not to commit what might be called the Spider-Man fallacy. Suppose that a few thousand years from now, an archeologist discovers a cache of Spider-Man comic books. Judging by the backgrounds, the stories are clearly set in New York. New York is a real place, as confirmed by archeology. However, this does not mean that Spider-Man existed.

Imagine you were to one day witness a man be executed and the next day you saw the same man walking down the street. Which is more likely, that the man came back from the dead or that you are under a grave misapprehension?

Imagine you are told that pregnant 14 year has conceived a child having never had sex with a man. Which is more likely, that the laws of nature were suspended, or that the girl told a lie?

The level of conviction claimed by an author or has no bearing on the veracity of his writings. This is a common argument among all religions yet I would bet that you would reject Dr. Grant’s claims if the subject were the historical reliability of the Koran.

Let’s say that there really is a god. Whether it’s the Christian god, which frankly it cannot be anymore, we can’t prove that there is no god but we can prove that it’s not that one, the one from the Bible, that one does not exist, we know that for certain. If this god were a reality you would want to know, regardless if it was the Christian god or some other higher version of a god, perhaps one that men have not conjured up yet or maybe it’s a Hindu god, we don’t know, it doesn’t really matter. If there is a real god and it’s a thing, it is reality; I would want to know that. I as a rationally thinking person meet a believer and that believer comes to me and brings evidence, and if it’s real he would have it, if it’s real it would not require faith. The fact that belief does require faith more or less proves that it’s not real, but let’s imagine for the sake of argument that it is. This believer comes to me and brings reasons and the reasons that he gives are compelling, now these are not going to be subjective reasons, these reasons would be things that they would be able to share and convince me also. If they were to bring me these reasons and I realized that I was wrong I would change my mind because rationally minded people are open to idea that they are wrong. As a matter of fact I have to assume at the onset that I have to be wrong about something, somewhere and the only way to improve my perspective is to find the flaws in my current perception and correct them.

Meanwhile, religion insists that its perspective is the absolute and infallible truth, engrained by divine guidance on a first impression, psychically somehow. Religions have oaths and creeds of one sort or another, statements of faith wherein they admit that they will reject any and all evidence that stands against them even if it is evidence that they have never heard of or hasn’t yet been discovered, they have already rejected it without consideration.

AronRa is an atheist vlogger and activist. His videos focus on biology, with an emphasis on countering creationist claims, and advocating rationalism in science education. He also posts written material on his blog.