Debating Pseudo-Religions

ScarecrowAs far as I can tell, Richard Dawkins has never said anything about Christianity

This is not simply to say that he’s never said anything true about Christianity. Rather, it is that everything he’s tried to say about “religion” is so distorted, so obviously based on a caricature, that he’s not actually talking about Christianity at all.

Nor is this, I hasten to add, because he has not read some complex theological treatise (though he clearly hasn’t). It is because he gets even the most basic points about Christianity (and Islam, for that matter) flagrantly wrong.

I’ve noticed similar mistakes in his fans, as well as their confusion when they encounter actual theology. In fact I’ve recieved quite a few complaints that my views are not simple enough for some to understand.

I’ve long suspected that there are ulterior motives behind the demand that I state my view in a sentence. Still, I thought it might be good to write the occasional post on some of the things that the New Atheists get wrong about the Christianity they claim to have refuted. It is my hope that this will help to clarify, for theists and atheists alike, why the conversation needs to move past anything simple enough to fit on a demotivator.

There is a lot to say, but let’s start with an obvious one:

If you’re using the phrase “sky daddy” you aren’t talking about Christianity.

I want to be clear: it isn’t that this phrase is pointlessly rude (though it is). It is that it is wrong. As such, using it doesn’t prove that theism is silly. It shows us that the one using it is speaking out of ignorance.

How so? Let’s go through the words. (And, to those eager to debate, please keep in mind that I’m merely outlining Christian views, not making a case for them here.)

1. “Sky”

God isn’t in the sky any more than he is anywhere else. Those that use this term seem to be picturing some physical thing flying around space somewhere.

And this is completely unlike the Christian view of God.

That is, God doesn’t exist as part of the universe–or a thing inside the universe. This is part of what it means to be transcendent. While God is aware of, and causally active at, each point in the universe, this is not a physical interaction. It is for this reason that the ancient Romans charged Christians with atheism–Christianity doesn’t believe in gods in anything like the way that they did.

But it’s a bit late to be arguing that ancient Roman gods don’t exist. Monotheists believe in a completely different kind of God.

2. “Daddy”

Presumably, the physical thing flying around space is roughly humanoid. While the Bible does use the concept of fatherhood as analogous to one part of God’s relation to human beings, there is no implication here that God either has a body, or is a “daddy” in anything like the sense that it is used here.

The phrase suggests that theists think of God essentially the same way that very small children think of their fathers. Of course, the Christian view of God is not a glib picture of some divine caretaker or wish-granter, but a far more nuanced vision–as intellectually complex as it is emotionally potent. It would take quite a few books to explain that nuance, but the point is that is a far more sophisticated view than this silly phrase implies.

Again, the problem seems to be the failure to grasp transcendence. The New Atheist appears to think of God’s activity on the model of magic, reading this into all talk of spirit. But magic is physical; it is failed science. Spirit is non-physical, existing outside of the realm of science. It addresses deeper questions than efficient causes.

Of course, one is free to reject the idea–and even to boldly proclaim that there are no answers outside of science. The point is that, if one doesn’t understand the difference between this view and the “sky daddy”, one can’t claim to have understood Christianity well enough to have rejected it.


63 responses to “Debating Pseudo-Religions

  • violetwisp

    “Sky” – presumably when Jesus ascended or went up to heaven, it was envisaged in an ‘up’ direction, towards the sky, where everyone assumed your god lived until humans discovered the earth was round and there’s a big universe out there.

    “Daddy” – Well if ‘our father which art in heaven .’ doesn’t give the suggestion that the deity is a father figure, I don’t know what will.

    In general, while you personally may in this period of time have come to lofty conclusions about the nature of the deity you worship, it’s safe to say that this remodelling of the Christian god is a modern, ‘intellectual’ development designed to keep pace of embarrassing facts about the sky. However, the vast majority of Christians who ever practised this religion (and many of them who still do now) believe he resides somewhere beyond the sky and call him father. The term ‘sky daddy’ may be designed by atheists to belittle the notion of this deity, but it holds a lot of truth in terms of the understanding that most Christians have formulated about your god. I think you should admit it has some validity.

    • Debilis

      This is just an incorrect understanding of the Ascension. Simply demanding that we take some arbitrarily (?) chosen passage literally, then insist that we attach to that the idea that other ideas (such as the concept that Jesus, apparently, stayed in the physical sky) is not a strong interpretation.

      It definitely doesn’t refute the entire history of Christian theology (which stands against this). Nor does it address what Christians actually believe, as should be clear.

      The same would go for the “daddy” concept. The “lofty conclusions” I’ve mentioned in the past are not modern, they are ancient. It is the idea that these things should be taken literally that is modern.

      But I would request reference a single Christian thinker who has claimed that the Jesus resides “somewhere beyond the sky”. The only way that could possibly be the case for “the vast majority of Christians” is if what you mean by that phrase is “outside the physical universe”.

      And that is precisely what I claimed.

      So, if this is the position of the overwhelming majority of Christian thinkers, simply name some names. And, if this can’t be done, it is simply a straw man.

      If, however, you simply meant completely uneducated Christians, it is simply another kind of straw man. I don’t see how it would be fair to judge secular views by their least educated adherents. The same would apply here.

      • violetwisp

        The Tower of Babel was built to try and reach heaven … in the sky. Jesus ‘came down’ from heaven and talked about his father above. I don’t need to go on, as you know full well that the ascension isn’t some arbitrarily chosen passage about heaven being accessed in the sky. The Bible is riddled with such references.

        I feel sorry for the VAST majority of the people of your religion, as you seem to draw a grand distinction between yourself and them. If the majority of Christians ever to have existed have envisaged the Christian god as a paternal being (father) residing in the heavens above (sky), then the term ‘sky daddy’ quite aptly reflects a genuinely and popularly held conception of the Christian deity. I think you should acknowledge this.

        • Debilis

          The Bible, like every book I’ve ever read (if one reads closely enough) is full of metaphorical language. The idea of taking these things literally is a modern one–and we tend to forget that even our language is largely metaphorical.

          But I’m not interested in a conversation about what “most” Christians believe. I don’t think that’s as easy to tell as all that.

          What I’m more interested in is the fact that none of the common arguments, which purportedly establish materialist atheism as the most plausible view, do a thing to discredit the view I’ve presented.

          Surely, it’s not unreasonable for me to wonder if the extremely confident atheists I’ve encountered have a response to other forms of theism than the one you’ve outlined?

        • violetwisp

          Well, based on what I understand of your conception of the Christian god God, I guess ‘sky daddy’ isn’t accurate. But I’m guessing that your version of the Christian god God is one that developed over time because nothing else was possible or made sense. There’s no evidence that non-visible entities in other dimensions don’t exist.

        • Debilis

          In one sense, this is exactly right. In another, it is the opposite.

          It is right in that the concept did develop over time, based on reasoning about what made sense. I consider that a real strength.

          It is the opposite in that it wasn’t remotely a retreat from disproofs. In fact, it came largely from the realization that a physical, finite god that was only one part of the cosmos simply wasn’t great enough.

          The idea was that God is superlative, and metaphysically necessary. Once people thought it out, it became very clear that this was a transcendent God–and not just one more thing among all the things in the universe.

          Actually, many have argued that this is part of what allowed modern science to develop. It was only the monotheists who could conceive of nature as behaving like a machine–specifically because of this concept of a transcendent, rational God who would (therefore) create a patterned universe.

          That’s all a digression, I know. But I think it is an important part of the picture for those who want to understand what God I’m discussing.

  • john zande

    I’m with Violet on this one: Sky Daddy is PRECISELY what Christianity is about. A father in the sky: aka Sky Daddy.

    Now, please explain why your theology cannot be easy to understand? Why must it be so complicated, so twisted and so hilariously convoluted that even Christian philosophers can’t understand it?

    “The study of theology, as it stands in Christian churches, is the study of nothing; it is founded on nothing; it rests on nothing; it proceeds by no authorities; it has no data; it can demonstrate nothing.” (Thomas Paine, The Age Of Reason)

    • Debilis

      It is not remotely like what I believe–or, as far as I can tell, any theologian I’ve ever read.

      But I’m not one to argue definitions. If you want to demand the right to define Christianity, then this simply means that I believe something different. It doesn’t remotely mean that my beliefs have been refuted.

      But I don’t think that my theology is terribly complicated. I only think that it is outside the arena of thought frequented by materialists. The complicated part isn’t the idea itself, it is clearing away all the assumptions that people keep making.

      • john zande

        “I only think that it is outside the arena of thought frequented by materialists.”

        Really? So you’re simply ignoring the fact that the majority of atheists in this generation are actually former theists who seriously looked at religion, researched it, sought answers, and found it to be all human nonsense. OF COURSE you’re ignoring this, because that doesn’t fit into your worldview, does it, Debilis?

        • Debilis

          My comment wasn’t about their former thought; it was about their current thought. They may well have been theists as children–but that has no bearing on the comment.

          And it has no bearing on the topic. Unless you’re trying to argue that my theology is wrong on the grounds that it is difficult for you to understand, it makes very little sense that I should be getting this complaint.

          I try to make a point of avoiding armchair psychology, however, so I won’t present guesses as to why you might be bothered by this. Rather, I’ll simply point out that it doesn’t address anything I’ve actually claimed about the nature of Christianity.

        • john zande

          I’m not bothered by it… I find it hilarious! It’s hilarious that not even Christian philosophers understand what they’re talking about.

        • Debilis

          Of course they understand what they are talking about.

          The only people I’ve encountered who either claim not to understand, or show that they don’t by the “out-of-left-fieldness” of their responses are the New Atheists.

          When one laughs because you assume that philosophers don’t understand something simply because one doesn’t understand it, that is called prejudice.

          And, no prejudice isn’t always a matter of being “bothered”, sometimes it is a glib dismissal of, or ignorant laughing at, things that one doesn’t understand.

        • john zande

          Now, you see, i actually have PROOF they don’t understand! Link below.
          As you will see, not a single sentence in this abstract even hints at being comprehensible, yet astonishingly this piece of magnificent senselessness (394 words of mind-bending verbal lunacy) was accepted without a moment’s hesitation and Boudry’s alter ego, Robert A. Maundy of the fictitious College of the Holy Cross, was slotted in as a speaker at both events… invitations he, naturally, declined after announcing it all a hoax. Interestingly, instead however of being embarrassed or even ashamed at themselves by what Boudry had so effectively and easily demonstrated many of the Christian philosophers caught up in the hoax accused him of “dishonesty and abuse of academic trust;” a fascinating charge considering the obviousness of the hoax. As Boudry himself noted to me in 2013: “When I submitted the abstract, I thought I had pushed it too far, and that anyone with two neurons to rub together would see through it (I mean, seriously, that word pun with dis-order and this-order). It´s not just that the structure of the argument is unclear — literally every sentence is sheer nonsense.”

        • Debilis

          I’m not sure I’d call this “PROOF” (which seems to mean the same thing as “proof”, only more angry). Yes, people have been duped.

          Though, I’d point out, in spite of the silly terms alluded to, part of the reason why it worked, I’d wager, is because most of the lines within the argument seem to be pulled from substantive arguments like those given by Plantinga and Ross.

          So, it no more “proves” that any particular kind of Christian philosophy is meaningless than it “proves” that a monkey pasting sentences on a page could put together a meaningful statement without realizing it.

          Much less does it “prove” that all Christian philosophy can be dismissed without actually considering the actual arguments. Similar parodies and hoaxes have been done in nearly all fields of academia, but I doubt that you’d agree that this “proves” that materialist philosophy, biology, and physics can, therefore, be dismissed.

          Really, I don’t see the slightest reason here to conclude that Dawkins must be right about what Christianity teaches after all. There’s no reason whatsoever to say “well, these people were hoaxed, I guess everything Aquinas and Liebnitz said must be completely wrong, and Christianity is really about a physical guy flying around in space.”

          That really seems to be your argument here. But, if it isn’t, could you spell it out more clearly?

        • john zande

          Oh Debilis, the high priests of apologetics, the Christian Philosophers, couldn’t identify nonsense. Just admit it.

          So, once again, I provide you physical evidence to support my statements, and yet you are still in the starting blocks, unable to present a single thing to support your worldview. I’km really putting you to shame here.

          Just so I know: are you ever going to be offer something up?

        • Debilis

          Oh John, the high priests of science, the journal review boards, couldn’t identify nonsense. Just admit it.

          Do you see how petty that sounds? How that doesn’t remotely prove that science is bunk in the way that you think this somehow proves that theology is bunk.

          So, no this isn’t evidence.

          But, if it were, then I have evidence for nearly anything. If a group being fooled proves that they are wrong, then the fact that Ayer, the great champion “physical evidence only” himself, gave up on the idea is relevant.

          That must mean that he was “fooled” by people like me. And, according to what you’re saying here, that’s physical evidence that your materialism is bunk.

          Or, perhaps we could admit that a prank, entertaining as it is, doesn’t really amount to evidence about anything relevant.

          Really, am I supposed to say “My goodness! Some theologian got pranked! Everything Aquinas, Aristotle, Anslem, Leibnitz, et al ever wrote must be false!”

          That really sounds like what you are saying.

          And, if it is, it is far too low a standard of evidence to be dismissing what I’ve already given you.

        • john zande

          I am saying “just admit it” because you have an extreme aversion to owning up to anything, especially when it is presented to you on a platter. You’re calling it “petty” because you have no other recourse; belittling it so, in your mind, it loses its import and immediacy. Both reactions are a sign of your delusion in action. I hope you’re aware of this. Maybe you are, maybe you’re not… but “denial of reality” is what you’re demonstrating to me.

          The fact, as demonstrated via repeatable experimentation, is this: the greatest “thinkers” in Christian philosophy couldn’t identify utter nonsense. Simply put, these “great thinkers of the Christian world” have dressed “nothing” up in such overly garnished theological word-salads that they can no-longer distinguish reality from meaningless fantasy. From Saint Anselm of Canterbury to D. H. Th. Vollenhoven the language of the Christian philosopher has grown in magnitudes of absurdity resulting in a postmodern theological lexicon that is ultimately so silly that not even the practitioners of the evasive art (the Christian philosophers themselves) know what the hell they’re talking about… a point apparently not missed by the Christian apologist, Francis Spufford, who complained about criticism directed at the convoluted mess by noting: “That we [the religious] build absurdly complex intellectual structures, full of meaningless distinctions, on the marshmallow foundations of a fantasy.”

          Now, Debilis, I have demonstrated to you that Spufford’s “marshmallow foundations of a fantasy” is real. I presented HARD EVIDENCE, as I have for other matters in the past, and yet you continually dismiss it. That, sir, is delusional. You are evading reality.

        • Debilis

          I’m going to skip over all the comments about myself, and move on to the issue.

          That being the case, I’m not going to talk a lot about this particular event. I don’t think of the people hosting it as “the greatest minds in Christian philosophy”; I’ve never thought that. I’m also not defending postmodern Christian views.

          So, whether or not you’ve presented “HARD EVIDENCE” about either of these things is simply beside the point of what I was saying. I’ve tried to make this clear, and apologize if it was not.

          I’ve been defending very old views that I’ve explained without mountains of technical jargon. I’d like us to be getting to that.

          And this is why I keep mentioning people like Aquinas and Leibnitz. Let’s assume that the modern philosophers caught by this prank have no idea what they are talking about. Do you have a response to past thinkers?

          Or, do you have “HARD EVIDENCE” that they didn’t know what they were talking about, either?

          I really don’t understand your point here. Do you believe that this is a reason to dismiss all Christian philosophy without looking at anything it actually says?

          I’ll agree that these people need to take a serious look at their review process. (I thought that went without saying, but in case it didn’t, it’s now been said.) Still, I find it hard to imagine that you’d believe that this is “HARD EVIDENCE” that the greatest thinkers in modern science don’t know what they are talking about.

          These things happen occasionally–and it is a good thing. Academics need to be kept on their toes, and need to respond by fixing the problem.

          But to say “there, now we can dismiss that entire field of thinking” is the same sort of intellectual laziness that the hoax was meant to expose.

        • john zande

          Aquinas and Leibnitz never produced any evidence. They played word games so as to “conclude” their god, not “demonstrate” it, and Christians philosophers have been doing nothing else ever since.

        • Debilis

          Obviously, I disagree. But the important thing here is the variable definition of “evidence” being used.

          To say that an anecdote is “HARD EVIDENCE” for the refutation of an entire subject, but to deny that, say, the contingency of the universe or the derived nature of causal power is evidence of any kind for a transcendent reality is simply arbitrary.

          Far too many New Atheist types speak as if theirs is the final word on what evidence is–even when they can’t so much as produce a definition.

          Evidence isn’t whatever one happens to think of as evidence. This is why bluntly declaring that some side has never produced evidence simply will not do.

        • john zande

          If you disagree then do please present your evidence and prove me wrong. Show me this tangible “proof” you allude to yet never present….

        • Debilis

          I’ve never alluded to “tangible proof”; it is the materialist who insists that all evidence is tangible, and that proof (as opposed to evidence and logic) is what is required.

          Beyond that, you seem to have ignored the key point. If you want to look at what evidence I have, it is very pertinent that I’m seeing a very inconsistent view of what constitutes evidence.

          I really don’t see the point in mentioning evidence so long as you seem to be taking “evidence” to mean “whatever supports the New Atheist view”.

        • john zande

          You’ve said in the past you have proof for your supernatural worldview, now you’re saying you don’t? Which one is it, Debilis? Do you, or don’t you?

        • Debilis

          I don’t recall ever claiming that I had “proof”. As the saying goes: proof only exists in mathematics and alcohol.

          I do, however remember writing that I had evidence, that there is good reason to accept theism, and to reject materialism, and things along those lines.

          But, you’ll note, that I wrote those things on other topics. If you want to see the evidence, go to the places where I’m actually discussing those things.

          Here, I’ve claimed that the New Atheists have deeply misunderstood theism–and have explained why. Do you agree with that statement? If not, do you have a defense for the New Atheist interpretation of theism?

          The answer to that actually has an enormous effect on what sort of evidence we’d be looking for.

  • john zande

    Reformational Philosophy Association’s chairman, Gerrit Glas:

    “Postmodern Christian philosophical writing is often impenetrable.”


    • Debilis

      In my opinion, almost all postmodern writing is impenetrable.

      I have my guesses, but can’t claim to know for sure why that is.

      But there seems to be an assumption here that my writing is postmodern. Most everything I’ve claimed is actually premodern–I’ve been defending classical theism, after all.

      • john zande

        Excuse me, but you made a rather uninformed statement earlier claiming atheists just don’t get your deep theology. A self indulgent claim if there ever was one, but one which certainly implies your “thinking” is impenetrable to we heathens.

        So, the question stands: why must your theology be so hilariously complicated? Shouldn’t it be simple? Wouldn’t that be the more logical (rational) approach of a thoughtful and caring god?

        • Debilis

          That would indeed be a self-indulgent claim.

          If I’ve made that claim, I retract it. But, of course, I don’t remember ever doing so. I remember claiming that the passionate supporters of Richard Dawkins don’t understand my theology, and that is true.

          There are many atheists who understand the things I’ve discussed, but none of them are using silly phrases like “sky daddy”, or behaving as if mockery and refutation were the same thing.

          I’ll answer it, but I don’t see this as a remotely penetrating question. First, I don’t find my theology terribly complicated. But, even if it were, is that really a problem? Is the complexity of general relativity really a reason to find it “hilarious”? People who laugh at what they cannot understand are not champions of reason; they are bigots.

          Nor I can I see any reason why a thoughtful and caring God, who also happens to be infinite, would patronize people with the kind of childishly-easy theology that has been demanded from me.

          I suspect it is more likely that God would take an approach along the lines of “the truth is beyond what you can possibly understand–so we’re going to get as close as you can manage with your finite mind”.

          This is all to say that I simply don’t see why people think I’m the one that should be embarrassed by the fact that they can’t understand concepts that are, to me, pretty basic. That’s rather like a student demanding that her teacher is wrong because she (the student) doesn’t get a concept.

          And this is the final problem. Until you do, actually, understand what it is that I’m saying, you have no way of knowing whether or not it is correct. You have no refutation of it, and no reason at all to make pronouncements about the likelihood of its truth.

          If you don’t understand these ideas, why should I give any credence to attempts to refute them which are, by your own admission, stabs in the dark?

  • Arkenaten

    As far as I can tell, Richard Dawkins has never said anything about Christianity

    Fair enough…..not uttered a word about Christianity. Got it.

    It is because he gets even the most basic points about Christianity (and Islam, for that matter) flagrantly wrong. he has in fact said something about Christianity. More than one thing if we are to accept the word “‘Points”.

    Is it any wonder some people consider you are losing it…

    Oh,and you have yet to reply to the last comment on this thread.

    • Debilis

      I’d say that he hasn’t. But, really, that’s not the point.

      If someone said that he was a fan of Hillary Clinton because she’s a champion of politically and socially conservative agendas–and that (as secretary of state) was willing to take a traditionally female job by serving Obama coffee and answering the phone–would you say that person is really talking about Hillary Clinton or a (chauvinistic) fantasy?

      Would it even matter how we classified it?

      Dawkins’ picture of theism is no more accurate than this picture of Clinton. That’s a significant point. Whether or not I’ve been trapped in a “gotcha” of seeming to claim two contrary things really tells us nothing about the matter at hand.

      • Arkenaten

        Really? Well it illustrates you haven’t got the humility to acknowledge when you have been caught in a “gotcha” and once again try to worm your way out of it.

        • Debilis

          Okay, I’ve been caught in a “gotcha”.

          Now, can we turn our attention away from my personal level of humility, and on to the topic?

          I really don’t understand why you are more interested in me than in debating theism. I suppose I should appreciate the attention, or something, but I’d rather get back to the topic.

        • Arkenaten

          I am not interested in you. Although I am fascinated what caused the level of left-field mental thought process capable of churning out post after post of untenable and unfathomable hypotheses that you try so desperately to defend by continually looking for an ever shrinking loophole that will fit your beliefs.

          In this particular case, I simply drew your attention to the fallacious statement of your argument, pertaining to what you said about Dawkins.
          Here it was blatant, although you still tried to worm your way out of it,. Everywhere else you generally do the theological two-step and not even acknowledge your error.

          As for your ”debate theism” remark, no problem.
          I have answered your challenge..twice. You just don’t seem to have the intellect to deal with that reality.
          Or is this once again a gotcha issue, I wonder?

          John pointed this out with several of his latest comments.

          And your YEC buddy, Mark, demonstrated the point so eloquently as well, and he has not a bloody clue what you are on about either.
          And that is quite funny!

        • Debilis

          It is odd that you’ve claimed that you are not interested in me, then followed that with a comment that is almost entirely about me.

          The only exception is the claim here that you’ve answered my challenge twice. I’m actually unsure of the answer you you’re referring to.

          The particular point here is that Dawkins and his fans have a deeply distorted view of Christianity (and Islam, for that matter). So much so, that their arguments against aren’t relevant to the actual religion (but only to their straw man).

          I can’t find a response to that here. Could you point it out to me?

        • Arkenaten

          That I comment on your blog does not mean I am interested in you as a person, but rather your oddball theological views,which I find fascinating,and a lessor concern, that you might pass on such nonsense to children.

          I have answered your question re materialism/religion, etc and cannot fathom why you would want me to repost it once again, unless you have been unable to comprehend it?

          Every argument you post, no matter the angle you wish to take, always stems from the same foundation: Namely, you have built your faith utterly unfounded belief in a supposed omniscient deity, whom you have yet to identify and who m based on the evidence could not give a monkey’s uncle about what you believe.

          The answers you are so desirous of will only be different versions of the ones I have already offered…twice.

          And if you feel that Dawkins etc has a distorted view then please feel free to rectify that situation and explain where he(and others) have gone wrong if only to help us get back on the right track.

        • Debilis

          Okay, we seem to be getting back on track here.

          I’ve explained one of the major ways that Dawkins and his fans have misunderstood Christianity in the original post. The short version is that nearly every criticism they make is valid only if God is some physical thing flying around in space with magic powers.

          I agree that this is silly. It also has nothing to do with what I actually believe.

          As such, I was wondering if anyone has an objection to the idea of God as a transcendent entity–or if New Atheism depends on assuming that this completely weird understanding of Christianity is correct.

        • Arkenaten

          So do you believe that your god is a transcendent entity?

        • Debilis

          I’ve clearly been talking about a transcendent entity.

          Do you have any objection to such a God?

  • Mark Hamilton

    Very true. Dawkins and his followers can be laugh and discuss the ridiculousness of Christianity, as long as they don’t actually meet an educated Christian. Reminds me of a CS Lewis quote:

    “The real musician is similarly troublesome to a man who wishes to indulge in untaught “musical appreciation”; the real historican is similarly a nuisance when we want to romance about “the old days” or “the ancient Greeks and Romans”. The ascertained nature of any real thing is always at first a nuisance to our natural fantasies– a wretched, pedantic, logic-chopping intruder upon a conversation which was getting on famously without it. “

    • Arkenaten

      And this from a man who believes dinosaurs roamed the earth with humans and before the Fall ( which was not Autumn, apparently) were all cute herbivores. Sweet.

      So I take it we can dismiss you as one of these “educated Christians” then, Mark, right, because sure as hell Fide or Paarsurry do not believe in your young earth nonsense.

      • Mark Hamilton

        Yes, because the measure of being educated is holding all the correct beliefs, and has nothing to do with knowledge or schooling.

        • Arkenaten

          Your beliefs are based on erroneous education that has as its foundation a religious text.
          It has no empirical evidence to back any of its claims, and because of its biblical bent, never needs to.
          Thus every conclusion drawn will inevitably be skewed.

          Intelligence is the ability to weigh up the probabilities of the claims within such volumes and form a rational worldview based on the answer you come up with.

          The mental damage is evident in that you will reject Islamic claims, for instance, yet are unable to regard similar nonsensical biblical claims objectively.

          Inculcation prevents this from happening.

          It produces people who suffer from cognitive dissonance.
          yet, such individuals are taught to compartmentalize their religious beliefs in order to (partially) function in a modern society.
          A hallmark of fundamentalist apologetics

          If you consider your beliefs are correct then what you are saying, in fact, is that every other religious belief, which has, more or less similar foundations) is wrong. And this includes every other Christian belief.
          And how was this conclusion arrived at? Via your god?
          Of course not! Human interpretation of religious text.

          Can you not see how damaging this is?
          Are you not able to recognise similar patterns present in the Jehovah Witness worldview, for example?

          Each and every one shuns secular challenges to what is considered the ”divine word”, yet not offering a single piece of verifiable evidence to back its claims.

          You are indoctrinated to accept first.False evidence is then provided to shore up untenable weaknesses.
          Ultimately it all relies on Faith.Not evidence.
          Not a single argument can withstand genuine scrutiny, and the purveyors of such nonsense are fully aware of this.

          You are relatively young.
          I sincerely hope you are able to break free of this vile nonsense.

          If you would like to read blogs of one or two deconvertees who have been in a similar (same)condition as you are currently, please let me know.
          These people are genuine – blokes like Nate Owens – and they know exactly the type of mind games fundamentalist religions play .

          Just say the word…..

        • Mark Hamilton

          You’d think that if it was true that “not a single argument can withstand genuine scrutiny” that you’d offer more actual arguments to what Dibelis has to say on this blog. You know, other than your usual strategy of insulting people, changing the subject, and then going on a rant about how everyone who doesn’t share your exact beliefs is an inculated idiot with no evidence.

        • Arkenaten

          Actually this particular reply was specifically directed at you and your Young Earth Creationism, to which I was being genuine by offering links to deconvertees who have been where you are now and have successfully navigated a path to calmer more rational waters.
          And the reason I made such an offer is I thought that perhaps you might be more amenable to listening/reading the views of a few former fanatical fundamentalists who were subject to sever indoctrination and community alienation rather than take anything from me, an outright atheist.
          Seems like you are not ready and will have to surmount this obstacle on your own for now.
          Don’t say I did not offer. And it still stands, if you are up for it.

          As for arguments. You wouldn’t even consider any let alone believe any even if I offered them, now would you?
          You have said as much on your own blog.
          How can you begin to consider yourself open and honest with a closed-minded attitude like this?

          At least I have always said I am open to considering the evidence on its merits.

          So, you want to read Nate Owens story or what?

        • Mark Hamilton

          I considered all the arguments you offered: it was your insults, off topics rants, and abuse towards others that I had to keep trimmed. You can spout bile on your own blog, but I won’t let you turn my own into a soapbox for your hate.

          I’ve read many blogs by deconvertees, as you put it. I’ve never found one that actually spoke to my own beliefs. Most of them I agree that they were right to leave what they claimed they left: but I dont’ agree that what they left was anythign like my own beliefs.

          You’ve always said you’re open to evidence, but your actions have proven otherwise. I’ve always said that I’m open to constructive discussion but not to hate and mere rhetoric, and I’ve tried my best to keep that promise. You can send me a link and I’ll read it.

        • Arkenaten

          Nonsense. I hate nothing or nobody. This is the preserve of extremists.

          Abuse? lol…you and your ilk have had over 2000 years taking centre stage,while attempting to eradicate any and all dissent.
          Are you even aware how many witches were burnt, for example?
          Are you now going to whine over a little competition?
          At least no one is threatening to burn you at the stake.

          Nate’s blog. Right.

          He is much nicer than me. you will be pleased to hear. A real gentleman.

          You can start here….

          Say hello form me.

        • Mark Hamilton

          As is typical of your style Ark you on one hand claim you haven’t a hateful bone in yoru body and in the next paragraph claim that I belive all dissent should be eradicated by force, imply that all Christians are murderers, call me a whiner, and excuse yourself of any responsiblity for abuse because people like me deserve it.

          Ark I’ve seen you call people idiots, child abusers, and just about every foul word under the sun. If you don’t have faith, you certianly have contempt, and I’m not sure which is worse.

        • Arkenaten

          I claimed I do not hate anybody or anything. I did not say I did not have a hateful bone in my body.
          I try to be careful how I use emotive language.

          This is not hate. Hate is a foolish, irrational emotion.

          every foul word, Mark? Lol…
          I have stated that promoting religion to children is tantamount to child abuse. Yes. And it is.
          I have called some people idiots. Yes. And they are.
          Ken Ham is a perfect example.
          No doubt you keep a secret list, of all the other names, do you?
          I don’t have to imply that many Christians have been guilty of murder, it is a fact Furthermore, they have murdered in the name of their god and their religion.
          Would you like a list?

          I do not believe in ‘faith’ and yes, I have contempt for religion.

        • Mark Hamilton

          Also as far as this Nate fellow goes, after reading through some of his deconversion posts, I have these thoughts so far:

          Yes, he is a much kinder human being than yourself, or at the very least his online prescence is.

          Second is that one common thread I’ve noticed among just about every deconversion blog I’ve read is that the authors grew up in the American South and in a very conservative Church (CoC or Fundamentalist Baptists, typically). I grew up in a less conservative chruch in Washington State. Most of these people grew up surrounded by conservative Christians and Republicans, many of whom had an anti intellictual bent. I grew up surrounded by atheists, agnostics, pagans, and Democrats. My school envirmoment was one where I interacted daily with people who had radically different beliefs from myself. I dealt with many of the big questions these people write about during junior high and high school. If I had questions I was encouraged to find answers.

          I’ll keep reading, but what I’ve found so far is a lot of good reasons not to be a member of the CoC or other fundamentalist chruches. I don’t see much of anything that I haven’t heard before.

        • Arkenaten

          Fair enough.We all have to live with our life choice.
          And see, I was honest about Nate: he is is a much nicer bloke than me.

        • Arkenaten

          Oh, and once I was able to get an firm definition and acknowledgment of what he considered secularism was I offered a comprehensive argument to Debilis’ usual ambiguous standpoint.
          You can go read it.

          He has yet to respond

    • Debilis

      I love Lewis. Thanks for putting that up.

  • paarsurrey

    Richard Dawkins| “It is because he gets even the most basic points about Christianity (and Islam, for that matter) flagrantly wrong.”

    The same is true of the Christopher Hitchens; especially about Islam/Quran/Muhammad; he did not have any in-depth knowledge of them.

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