Monthly Archives: April 2013

Do Any Atheist Arguments Have Validity?

There are a number of atheist arguments floating around.  Alex Knapp of The League of Ordinary Gentlemen itemizes some of the really bad ones. I have yet to hear a convincing argument for atheism; usually I just get some crap about how atheism is the default and I need to prove my case convincingly, otherwise everyone should remain an atheist.

You know, atheism has no burden of proof.  Only theism has the burden of proof since we’re claiming something.  Blah, blah, crap.

So no atheist arguments convince me, but do any make me stop and question my belief in God?

Yes.  There is one argument against the Resurrection that keeps me up at night wondering if I am, indeed, putting my faith in a lie.

First, let’s see the argument in action.  A friend re-posted a rant from Bill Cosby entitled “I’m 83 and Tired.”  It listed several complaints that Bill Cosby allegedly had and expressed that he was happy to be leaving this life soon.  It didn’t sound like Bill Cosby to me, so I spent 5 minutes with Google and was able to verify that it was incorrectly attributed to Bill Cosby — I was even able to get the link to Cosby’s blog denying it was his work.

This isn’t the first time.  The vast majority of re-posts I see on FB are either misleading or flat-out wrong.  You can’t reach State Police Dispatch by dialing 112.  No co-eds were saved by quickly dialing it when an unmarked car tried to pull them over.

It takes less than 5 minutes to verify this crap  — if it isn’t on Snopes.com then any Google search will usually turn up the truth.  The 112 dispatch I found on Snopes; the Bill Cosby one I found through Google.

But people often choose to uncritically believe whatever comes at them without really checking into it.  Normally if it supports a preconceived notion, then people will simply believe it unquestioningly.  The tendency of people to spread comforting lies rather than truth could easily explain the widespread belief in the Resurrection of Jesus — and that’s the argument that keeps me up at night.

So why don’t I become an atheist?  Because this only undermines Christianity.  It does nothing to alleviate the necessity of God for the existence of the universe and the inherent design within it.

Tune in tomorrow to find the two reasons that keep me going to a Christian church on Sundays.

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Top 10 Reasons Why Religion is a Negative Force in the World (part 2)

Kieth Murphy, a user in the ThinkAtheist Forums, posted his Top Ten reasons why religion is a negative force in the world.

Not surprisingly, every single reason is a non-starter.  I covered the bottom reasons, now let’s continue where we left off — #5:

There have been cases in the United States and some other country where person’s have lost their jobs due to lack of faith or alternative faiths and sometimes on the bases of sexual orientation (which is thought to be justified because of certain beliefs)

There are also cases of people who have lost jobs because of their faith.  In the United States right now, some of the provisions of ObamaCare require a person to provide health services against their conscience.

This happens on both sides of the equation.  Does it then follow that atheism is bad because it forces the religious to do things against our religion in order to function together in society?

Of course not.  That’s ludicrous.

There are always bigots.  Some incorrectly use religion as a justification.  That’s human nature.  Our solution?  2 Corinthians 5:17 — take off our fallen, sinful human nature and put on a heavenly one.  Atheism’s solution?  Oh, that’s right — there isn’t one.  We are what we are.

Number 4:

Religion tries to justify many forms of discrimination including but not limited to, homophobia, sexism, racism and class

No, some people in religious instutions attempt to incorrectly use the Scripture to justify discrimination.  But the perversion of something shouldn’t lead us to negatively judge the thing itself.  That’s throwing the baby out with the dirty bathwater.

Number 3:

Certain nations such as Iran and Uganda take their discrimination justified by religious beliefs a step further by improving atheists and murdering homosexuals

So, we don’t really have 10 reasons on this list.  5, 4, and 3 are basically the same reason stated different ways.

Number 2:

Religion has caused many to rebel against its corruption. While this mostly occurs in changing religions or declaring oneself atheist; that is not always the next direction for some. For some they take that faith and change it for their own purposes, often resulting in more extreme and harmful faith systems mostly regarded as cults. These cults involve all sorts of dangerous acts, such as mass suicide and sometimes violent attacks of non-beleivers of their faith.

Wow.  Ignorance to the millionth power.  Pol Pot.  Stalin.  Mao.  Corruptions of something should not lead us to negatively judge the thing itself.  Those guys don’t mean atheism is evil or wrong.  Cults, therefore, do not mean religion is evil or wrong.

And the #1 reason:

Religion has literally caused people to go to war due to the influence of the faith and disagreement with certain policies based on religious beliefs (especially when a doctrine influences such actions)

According to The Encyclopedia of Wars (New York: Facts on File, 2005), which chronicles every war from 8,000 b.c. to 2003 (1,763 wars), less than 7% are religiously motivated.  Religions are not the main cause of warfare.

I’m not denying that religions have caused wars.  But, if you were trying to prioritize a strategic plan to eliminate causes of warfare, religion wouldn’t be on your list of causes to address.  It wouldn’t even be a factor in your plan.

So there you have them — a list of 10 reasons (actually 8, since 3 reasons were different iterations of the same reason) that religion is a negative force that are poorly thought out and just plain ignorant.  Many work against atheism as much as they do against religion.

Is consistency too much to ask from the side that considers itself more logical and rational?  It would seem so.

Top 10 Reasons Why Religion is a Negative Force in the World (part 1)

Kieth Murphy, a user in the ThinkAtheist Forums, posted his Top Ten reasons why religion is a negative force in the world.  Not surprisingly, every single reason is a non-starter.  Let’s dive in with #10:

Religion and religious persons impose their faith into public policy and politics. Where it clearly doesn’t belong.

There’s a problem with this line of thought.  Faith is more properly thought of as loyalty, not blindly accepting premises without proof.  So if one is loyal to God, then religion “done right” is going to affect every single decision you make, and that includes what public policies to vote on.

For all the talk about religious hypocrites and how they make religion look like a sham, it seems that this objection is asking the genuine follower of a religion to become a hypocrite when voting.

In other words, “You religious people are wrong, so vote like us.  Conform.”

Number 9:

Religion is still very much mediatory in the schools of nations such as Republic of Ireland, where it has no place. Churches were built for a reason. This makes many members of other faiths and no faiths feel uncomfortable and excluded during a time when young persons find it difficult to fit in as it is. It isn’t a matter of talking about religion, but actively telling young persons to practice it mandatory.

This is a hypocritical complaint.  Atheists generally defend the position that society creates morals.  Well, if society feels its in their best interest to teach the practice of a state religion in schools, then who are we to judge or try to change that?

On the other hand, if morals are independent of society (a position theists most often defend), then a moral reformer can come along and challenge society’s mores and act as a catalyst for change.  There isn’t a place for that in moral relativism; there is only what society decides is right for its situation.

To issue this complaint makes the defender of relativism a hypocrite.

If the complaint is made by the rare atheist who defends objective morality, then it begs the question.  Why is it best to leave to religious education in churches, but not in schools?  True religion done correctly changes the core of your being; you are a new person through the power of the Holy Spirit.  That should touch every facet of your life, even your schooling.  Therefore, a society primarily Christian should teach Christianity in schools, a society primarily Muslim should teach Islam in schools.

Moving on down to #8:

Many nations make it difficult for the non-religous to have any sort of successful career in politics (and being honest about their lack of faith at the same time)

This is my favorite.  This is roughly equivalent to an ardent supporter of Nazism complaining that he can’t get elected to represent a Jewish borough.  The people will elect a representative that will vote as they would.  So if you are unlike your community in some way, then you aren’t going to get elected.

Then we have #7:

Many religious groups impose their views of abortion on others and seek to make abortion illegal. Because of religion in other nations it now is or has been for sometime, outlawed medial practice. Abortion is not murder, murder is the illegal killing of a human being, not a pre-human being.

This begs the question.  First we need to prove that abortion is the best alternative and that life doesn’t begin at conception.  There are, in fact, many reasons to think the opposite of both points.

Number 6:

Religion demonises many educational fields in contrast with its doctrine, such as certain aspects of history and many accepted theories

I’d love to know what he’s talking about here.  Most likely Creation vs. Evolution.  But there are many documented cases of Intelligent Design proponents being bullied, terminated, or forced to resign for supporting ID.

In my experience, our side is much more open to free inquiry than the other side.  Question evolution respectfully and reasonably on PZ Myers’s blog and see if you get a polite education on the fundamentals of evolutionary theory and how well it’s supported in multiple branches of science, with helpful links and suggested reading.  (Spoiler alert: You won’t.  They’ll try to make you cry by calling you names with crass descriptions of bodily orifices combined with colorful metaphors for excrement.)

Tomorrow, we’ll look at what this user put at the top of his list.