Plug: Do Atheists Exist?

A great discussion of whether or not humans can really be permanently secular.

In particular, I appreciated the observation that many secular movements can be atheist only by appealing to a very distorted view of what religious belief actually is–then asserting that, because we can live without that distortion, we can live without religion.

Whatever one thinks of the conclusions, it is definitely a thought-provoking read.


32 responses to “Plug: Do Atheists Exist?

  • paarsurrey

    Reblogged this on paarsurrey and commented:
    Paarsurrey says:

    A good question. I also ask it from the Atheists. They avoid to answer it as they know they cannot prove it.
    They avoid responsibility.

    • Debilis

      I’ve been frustrated by that myself. For all the demands of proof, there does seem to be a real shyness about supporting their case, doesn’t there?

      • Arkenaten

        What is there to support?

        Neither of us believes in Thor so why should anyone believe in Yahweh?
        The Pentateuch is fiction. Accept it. Sensible people do.

        And , of course, for you, the real problem begins when you try to explain how Yahweh became Jesus.

        Really, it is just so much tiresome nonsense.

        • Debilis

          The support for God’s existence wouldn’t apply to Thor for a number of reasons. They are different ideas, and it is incredibly sloppy thinking to not notice that the same arguments wouldn’t apply.

          But you’ve always been very fixated on the idea of the incarnation–as if disproving that somehow establishes atheism. But that is simply a non sequitur.

        • Arkenaten

          And as per usual you will now try to use bullshot philosophical arguments.

          The Pentateuch is fiction. Ergo so is your god.

        • Debilis

          This contradicts basic logic.

          You’ve given me no evidence at all that the Pentateuch is fiction. You’ve given me no evidence at all that “my God” is based entirely on the Pentateuch (it isn’t). You’ve given me no evidence at all that dismissing “my God” is a reason to dismiss all the others.

          Attacking one, very warped, understanding of one religion simply does not establish that we should be atheists. That’s simply irrational.

        • Arkenaten

          Your are a Christian. Your god is Jesus. Stop trying to be disingenuous.

        • agrudzinsky

          Now, thank you for telling Christians what they believe. I see, you are very concerned that Christians don’t deviate from your dogma and stereotype about Christianity. Is that what you call an “open mind”?

          Shall we discuss what atheism is? Is it an “absence of belief” or is it “belief in absence”? Shall we discuss technical differences between gnostic atheism, agnostic atheism and find your place on the scale of this nonsense? Why do you think, it’s appropriate to tell Christians what they believe, but it’s not apropriate for Christians to tell them what atheism is or is not?

          Anyway, I think, it’s a waste of time.

          “Do not answer a fool according to his folly,
          or you yourself will be just like him.
          Answer a fool according to his folly,
          or he will be wise in his own eyes.”
          — Proverbs 26:4,5.

          There is wisdom for you and me here.

        • Arkenaten

          That you quote the bible is indicative of the level of intransigence you suffer from.

          That you will then attempt to do the classic Theological Two Step in an effort not to have to confront the truth is a measure of the inculcation you have been subject to and still allow yourself to be governed by.

        • agrudzinsky

          I still don’t understand why you consider accepting that a myth is a myth to be “intransigence”. Why do I have to confront the truth rather than accepting it as Wolpe does?

          You seem to look for a confrontation, but you don’t find it. You throw insults and you don’t hear them back. That’s dumbfounding, isn’t it? Your usual weapons strike the air.

          This is exactly how Christianity is supposed to work “But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also.” I don’t mean, you are evil, but you do seem to look for a confrontation. So, why do I have to abandon or reject something that seems to work quite well?

        • Arkenaten

          I don’t say you must abandon it at all. Where on earth did you get this idea?
          I am merely challenging what you believe, not that you choose to believe it.
          As long as you don’t tout it as truth or teach it is fact.

        • Debilis

          What’s disingenuous about this? I meant every word of that.

          You’re attacking a very warped view of theism that I don’t believe in–and claiming that this is somehow relevant to what I’ve actually said. That’s counter to basic logic.

          The fact that you’re interested in other positions–most of which aren’t even mine, and all of which are beside the point doesn’t make that not true. It’s still just as illogical.

        • Arkenaten

          1. You are a Christian.
          2. You believe in the resurrection
          3. You believe Jesus is a god/the creator.

          Is there anything else needed to be said…really?

        • Debilis

          Yes, actually.

          Are you willing to defend every last position you take–on everything, in order to make any statement? If so, do so.

          If not, why on earth should you say that it is disingenuous for me to say anything about anything other than these three points. That’s simply pulling retorts out of the blue.

        • agrudzinsky

          Looking for God in material world is strange. It’s fairly clear that I cannot point to anything physical and say “this is God”. That’s idolatry – see the second commandment. So, yes, you can say that “God does not exist”. But it is hard to deny that God exists as an idea. If you deny that ideas exist, then you deny that atheism and materialism exist. That’s, pretty much, the idea of this article.

      • paarsurrey

        They are confused people; they start with doubt and remain in doubt.

  • jasonjshaw

    I like to look at God as an acronym for Great Outward Directions. Who, of any belief, can deny that we are affected by forces from beyond ourselves that are beyond our full understanding? In this light, it is difficult to deny the existence of God.

    • Debilis


      Part of me has always felt that we should start with that idea–the interesting conversation is about what we can come to know about what is out there.

      At least, on my better days, that is what I’m thinking.

  • agrudzinsky

    I believe, mythology and rituals make cultures and nations. Atheists will deny having unjustified beliefs, but belief that all beliefs need evidence is just that – a religious belief.

  • Arkenaten

    Looking for God in material world is strange.

    Is it really? So are you denying the existence of Jesus?

    • agrudzinsky

      “Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father.”

      This passage seems to mean that the physical body of Jesus is not to be worshiped. Physical body of Jesus is not God. It does not even matter to me if it ever existed. So, again, you are free to say anything on this account. Worshiping a physical body is idolatry. The spirit of Jesus is God.

      “The coming of the kingdom of God is not something that can be observed, nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is in your midst.” (or within you). — that’s from Luke 17 if you are interested.

      It’s what you believe. You can’t observe “peace” or “happiness” or “justice”. These things are within or among people. There is no material evidence for such things.

      So, what I say here seems to be quite in line with the NT.

    • Debilis

      Yes, in fact, it is.

      If you read up a bit more on the incarnation, and what it actually means regarding the dual nature of Christ, this should become clear.

    • agrudzinsky

      Arkenaten, “literal interpretation” is a figure of speech. Letters do not have meaning. And, if you read introduction of Julian Jaynes book “The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind”, you will see that ALL language is metaphoric, if you *see* what I mean. We can only understand and introduce new ideas in comparison and in relation to familiar ideas.

      Jesus spoke in parables. A parable is meant to be metaphoric. Why can’t Jesus himself, the incarnation, the virgin birth, and the resurrection be interpreted metaphorically? Of course, my opinion is not official and many Christians would disagree with me. So, what I say here is just my interpretation, and it’s fairly simple and obvious to me.

      Incarnation is a simple idea that God, as a spirit, dwells within our body, in all of us and among us. The passage I quoted above regarding the kingdom of God is fairly explicit about it. In Christianity, the “body of Christ” is the church, the people. “Church” is not a building, not an organisation – it’s the people. The people are the temple and the body where God (the spirit) dwells. There are several references to church as “the body of Christ” in NT.

      So, the “body of Christ” (the church) “ascended into heaven” (the kingdom of God which is within and among the people). When Christians take communion, they share physical food, thereby sharing good will and faith with each other. The physical food thus becomes a symbol of “the body of Christ” which (literally) enters the body.

      Virgin birth means that the spirit does not come from a physical father, but from the “heavenly father”. The idea that all people have the same “heavenly father” is a simple idea that all people are brother and sisters, in spirit. It’s an idea of equality. The Declaration of Independence is an expansion of this idea “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal” (an obvious falsehood, if you think of it “literally”). As you may have noticed, the theme of slavery, oppression, and deliverance from them is dominant throughout the Bible. This theme is still very relevant today and I expect it to be relevant for a long time. So, don’t expect religion to lose the grip on human minds any time soon.

      The resurrection is the idea of coming alive from the spiritual death. Which is life “in sin”, dedicated to please the body rather than the spirit (God, church, Jesus, “your neighbor”, “your enemy” who is also your “brother” – all the same).

      Etc. I don’t think, I can exhaust this topic here.

      I don’t see how any of this can be taken as “factual” truth. And this stuff only works if you see the symbolism (those who have ears, let them hear) and internalize it through faith and practice. But yes, if you reject it, it’s all nonsense and rubbish. I cannot make you “see” any of this unless you “open your eyes” or “mind” to see it yourself.

      So, if you want to find “the body of Christ” – it’s looking at you from the mirror. And you can see it looking at your “brother”, a fellow human being. This is the “evidence” that Debilis mentions in the other post. But you have to believe that it IS the evidence of anything. That’s the problem with any evidence, by the way.

      • Arkenaten

        Why can’t Jesus himself, the incarnation, the virgin birth, and the resurrection be interpreted metaphorically?

        Smile…I believe you are going to be in for a teensy weensy bit of trouble trying to get this to fly by most Christians, Debillis probably, and Mark Hamilton for sure. And William Lane Craig would have to go a lie down for a while and then come back with a three hour debate. Phew…
        Ken Ham, Lee Strobel, Habermass etc would probably think you are mental.
        I must be honest the idea that the Virgin Birth and the Resurrection are nothing but metaphors is one i have not heard before!
        Definitely made me chuckle over my laptop.
        What next, a metaphorical God?
        Now that would be worth ”seeing”’.

        I am mildly interested though, if much of your family etc are atheist what happened to screw up your life that you felt the need to seek out the supernatural?

        So, don’t expect religion to lose the grip on human minds any time soon.

        I don’t expect it to,( any time soon) but it will eventually, it is a natural progression.
        That will be a day to look forward to , right?

        • agrudzinsky

          You might be surprised how many people share my views. What other people think about me is none of my business. If anyone tells me that all of the Bible needs to be taken literally, I will ask that person why they still have both eyes and both hands. Have they not read Matthew 18 or have they never looked at a woman with a lustful eye or do they think themselves to be sinless? I will ask them if they have “made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven” yet. I will ask why they do not stone adulterers and sabbath breakers.

          And if you tell me that you don’t believe in invisible imaginary things, I suggest that you watch this video before you get too proud of yourself. Without metaphors, we cannot “see” or “accept” truth. We cannot “lose our mind” or “give” evidence. If Bible uses language, it uses metaphors. “Literal meaning” is a metaphor. Letters do not have meaning other than designating sounds.

        • Arkenaten

          ‘’Ignostic.’’ Interesting word. Now….how about you offering me a definition of what you believe is ‘’god?’’ – and does this include Jesus?

        • agrudzinsky

          Definition of God you ask. Why do you ask? Are you sincerely interested to understand or are you preparing to reject my definition and go back to ridicule? And if I try to explain, will you understand?

          I think, the name “I AM” is the full definition.

          Unfortunately, any attempts to explain further are tangled with circular reasoning. So, you can say it is nonsense. The idea of God seems to be the idea of “self” or the idea of “being”. It’s similar to the idea of “thought”. Can you define “thought”? And why do you think that your definition is correct? Or can you define “word”? How will I understand if I don’t know what “word” means? Moreover, how can I even ask the question? Does the question have to be asked or answered?

          Which part of “I AM” do you not understand? I must confess, I do not understand either “I” or “AM”. What is “I”? What do you mean when you say “I think”? And what do you mean when you say “My body”? So, “I” is not your “body”? Then why when you see someone, you say “I see you” whereas all you see is the body? “AM” (being or existence) is another perplexity. What is “non-being” or “non-existence”?

          Want to discuss “free will” and whether makes “choices”? I choose not to. I don’t think, I have a choice.

          What makes sense does not need an explanation. What does “make sense” mean? You either “get it” or not.

          Ever heard of “koans” – impossible questions used for contemplation in Zen Buddhism? Like “where does the light go when it goes out?” (speaking of metaphors). Or “what is the sound of one hand clapping?”.

          There are no answers to these questions. They cannot be answered. Yet, this elusive concept of “self” is at the core of our “consciousness”.

          John Lloyd is very correct: “I refuse to be drawn on the question of whether God exists, until somebody properly defines the terms.” Which is impossible, meaning that this is a meaningless discussion. Unless we share the same core belief that God exists. Then we can build on it.

        • Arkenaten

          Actually you have already declared your definition of ‘god” have you not? The narrative construct, Jesus of Nazareth.

          You come and show me how you get from Jesus to ”god” ‘( without using make up stuff ) and I’ll play nicely.
          Otherwise you are merely pissing in the wind, and you know it, don’t you?

  • agrudzinsky

    No, I’m not teaching it as fact or touting it as undisputable truth. Where did YOU get this idea? I think, I can tell religious belief without evidence from facts. As I said, you are free to accept or reject the Bible as you wish. So am I. I’m OK with atheism as well as long as you don’t label believers as imbeciles and pester me with your dreaded “burden of proof”. I don’t think, religious beliefs have or need any proof.

    I think, only evil people need the fear of hell to keep them from doing evil. I know many atheists who are perfectly moral people. My dad, most of my family, and many of my friends are among them. You might be even more surprised to know that, although I do not like abortions or homosexuality, I support the right of homosexuals to marry and the right of women to choose what they do with their pregnant bodies.

    Perhaps, there are many Christians who do not share my beliefs, but they don’t share each others beliefs either. Why would I care?

    Why don’t you ask what people believe before you start criticizing their beliefs? You wouldn’t teach them anything that way and you wouldn’t learn anything either.

    • Arkenaten

      No, I’m not teaching it as fact or touting it as undisputable truth.

      Excellent! Then we have no rub.

      And I hope that if (when) you have kids you respect them enough not to pass on your faith and let them reach an age where they are able to make an informed decision without any form of pressure.
      That is a good Christian and okay in my book.

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