Saturday, February 25, 2006

The "Inspiring Story" of Induction into the Loser's Club

An Inspiring Story

His message is clear: Jesus is not coming. Not today. Not ever.
At 59, James Young has spent almost a decade sharing his atheist beliefs with the public, driving every Wednesday morning from his home in Lithia to set up a tent at the University of South Florida Bull Market.

Even on the coldest morning, Young is there, ready to share, and sometimes debate, his views with anyone who will listen that there is, in fact, no such being as God.

…What may surprise some of these students is that in his early adulthood, Young was an evangelical minister, preaching in churches, and even on street corners, all over Tampa.

This wonderful story came to me through a Google News alert. Though the Rotunda is the usual category for current events and topical news stories, I found this one so inspiring that I could not help posting it in the Garden, the category of positive atheism and humanism.

Is the story of a man who once (supposedly) had hope for meaning in life and later came to believe that there is, in fact, no meaning in life really “wonderful”? Is it really “inspiring”? Inspiring to do what? The author of this post almost sounds like a religious zealot for the cause of secular humanism. This author found this story so “inspiring” that he simply could not help but share it. But, honestly, what is the point? Who is he helping by propagating the notion that life as we know it is a biological accident? What is the gain in telling devoted Christians the lie of “Jesus is not coming. Not today. Not ever”? What is there to applaud about someone who once (supposedly) believed that there was a sovereign God in control of the universe who later found out that the fact that he even has a mind is the result of random causality, and that any legitimate connection with any other biological formation in this universe pointless at best? The atheistic cause is a loser’s cause. If you are an atheist, and you’re wrong, you lose (and you lose badly). But if you are an atheist, and you’re right, you still lose! Is the testimony that one more mass of cells commonly called a “human” joined the loser’s club really all that inspiring?

It’s much like the child who grew up thinking he had loving parents but later found out that he was a “mistake.” Would atheists applaud that as an “inspiring story”? You see, given the atheist worldview, it becomes obvious why human life is so expendable to them. Human life was just an accident, a byproduct of a universe gone haywire.

Why, then, do these religious zealots of humanism become so excited over the fact that one more poor mass of cells hit the brick wall of what is, to them, reality? This is because humanism, as a worldview, is simply a religion of anti-religion. Atheism is not anti-religious in the sense of not being a religion. No, atheism is certainly a religion of its own, with its sacraments of hyper-tolerance and its sins of calling someone a sinner. But atheism, as Steve has elsewhere noted, is a religion for overgrown children. It is for those who have never left the shadow of their fathers, and are so desperate to spite their religious traditions that they will even call the testimony of doom “inspiring.” Deconversion stories, which rip meaning from the hearts of the apostates, are simply one more way for humanists to “stick it to the man” of the institution of the church. We have even seen that here, just in the name “Debunking Christianity.” Loftus, for instance, may have left the faith, but he has not left its shadows. Its truth still haunts him. That is why he works at the purposeless effort of destroying believers. Christians evangelize in obedience and from a heart of burden for the loss. But what motivates the “evangelism” of John Loftus? Might I suggest that it is the stain the church has left on him? It certainly isn’t to give any hope to those who are at his listening end!

Suppression of the truth is certainly a laborious task, but for the mind set on the flesh, it is not a difficult one.

Evan May.

26 comments:

  1. >...every Wednesday morning from his home in Lithia to set up a tent at the University of South Florida Bull Market. Even on the coldest morning, Young is there, ready to share, and sometimes debate, his views with anyone who will listen that there is, in fact, no such being as God.

    Well... Sounds like a rocking life. Why isn't he out climbing mountains and making love to as many beautiful women as he can manage? Doesn't he know his days are fixed?

    ReplyDelete
  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I happen to be a member of the "loser's club" you referred to, as well as the author of the post you linked to. Judging by the tone of this entry, there would seem to be little hope you'll pay attention to anything I have to say, but I figure it can't hurt.

    1. I am an atheist and I happen to believe there *is* meaning in life, thank you very much. So do many others. The only difference is that a Christian believes that meaning is conferred upon life by God, while an atheist believes that we define our own meaning for life. And as it turns out, this isn't really much of a difference at all, because you still made a choice to view the message of your particular religion as meaningful to you.

    2. "The author of this post almost sounds like a religious zealot for the cause of secular humanism."

    If by this you mean that I find secular humanism to be a positive and uplifting worldview and would encourage more people to adopt it, guilty as charged. Humanism stands for the positive values of reason, compassion and tolerance, which are three things we could use a lot more of in this faith-mad world.

    3. "Who is he helping by propagating the notion that life as we know it is a biological accident?"

    Who are *you* helping by propagating the notion that humanity is a mass of worthless wretches most of whom are destined for an eternity of suffering damnation at the hands of a jealous and vengeful god? The knife of negative stereotyping cuts both ways, my friend.

    As far as life being an "accident", I suppose that could be true in the strict sense of an unplanned event, but so what? If your parents inform you that the pregnancy that led to your existence was not planned, does that immediately rob your life of all meaning and purpose? Of course not, and it would be silly to say otherwise. Life is valuable and meaningful because of what we do with it now that we have it, not because of the manner of its origin.

    4. "If you are an atheist, and you’re wrong, you lose (and you lose badly). But if you are an atheist, and you’re right, you still lose!"

    If you're a theist and you're wrong, you lose just as badly. (There are plenty of other religions that postulate a hell for nonbelievers, you know.) However, if I am right, I don't agree that I've lost anything. On the contrary, I've gained something very valuable indeed - the chance to live this life, the only life I will ever have, free of superstition and fear, with a clear view into how the universe really works. And yes, I do pity the people who allow ancient mythology to cloud their worldview, cramp their imaginations and fill their lives with unnecessary fear and guilt, when the truth is far more magnificent and inspiring.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Who are *you* helping by propagating the notion that humanity is a mass of worthless wretches most of whom are destined for an eternity of suffering damnation at the hands of a jealous and vengeful god? The knife of negative stereotyping cuts both ways, my friend.

    Ah, but my story does not end there. Yes, my story starts with "humanity is a mass of worthless wretches." But then from there the gospel is immediately presented. There is a solution to the problem.

    But what is the gospel in your worldview? What is the solution?

    ReplyDelete
  5. >And yes, I do pity the people who allow ancient mythology to cloud their worldview, cramp their imaginations and fill their lives with unnecessary fear and guilt, when the truth is far more magnificent and inspiring.

    How is 'big bang' (your current version of truth as opposed to mythology) more magnificent and inspiring than God who is sovereign in creation, providence, and grace creating all by his word? And as a humanist why do you cast off mythologies? Is there no truth in them? A humanist would value such things as containing elements or degrees of truth. Calvin himself saw more degree of truth in Homer than in other similar non-biblical works of mythology. (Calvin was a humanist, by the way. Secular and humanist are not two parts of the same word.)

    ReplyDelete
  6. "Yes, my story starts with 'humanity is a mass of worthless wretches.' But then from there the gospel is immediately presented. There is a solution to the problem."

    As Charles Darwin put it, "I can indeed hardly see how anyone ought to wish Christianity to be true; for if so the plain language of the text seems to show that the men who do not believe, and this would include my father, brother and almost all my best friends, will be everlastingly punished. And this is a damnable doctrine."

    Christianity may claim to offer the *individual* a way to escape this horrible fate, but it still declares that the vast majority of humanity, including people I know, people I love, and people I look up to, are destined for an eternity of torture at the hands of the very god I'm supposed to be worshipping. (See Matthew 7:13-14, for example.) Do you really think that is a cheerful and positive worldview?

    "But what is the gospel in your worldview? What is the solution?"

    I wouldn't say that I have a "gospel" as such, but humanity does have many problems, and the solution is simple: We need to get up off our knees, stop wasting our time and effort worshipping a god that isn't there, stop using belief in that god as an excuse to hurt and oppress each other, and concentrate on improving our understanding of the world and treating our fellow human beings with compassion and kindness. This life is the only one we'll ever have, which makes it all the more important to ensure that we make the best of it.

    k7:

    "How is 'big bang' (your current version of truth as opposed to mythology) more magnificent and inspiring than God who is sovereign in creation, providence, and grace creating all by his word?"

    If you really want to know the answer to that question, contact me by e-mail. I've written an extended answer to that sort of query, but it's too long to post here.

    "And as a humanist why do you cast off mythologies? Is there no truth in them? A humanist would value such things as containing elements or degrees of truth."

    I'd appreciate it if you wouldn't try to tell me what I do and don't value. Mythology does, perhaps, contain degrees of truth about the people who came up with them and the way those people conceived of the world; but that it contains truth about the way the world actually works is an idea I reject.

    "Calvin was a humanist, by the way. Secular and humanist are not two parts of the same word."

    I agree, you can be a religious humanist. Calvin, however, was not and will never be a humanist. That designation requires that you not do things such as condemning another human being to death by burning at the stake because of the ideas he held.

    ReplyDelete
  7. No, Calvin wanted him humanely executed, not burned. Actually, he wanted him to recant and save himself. As for the crime involved (it was a legal proceeding) you'll have to exercise your humanist historical muscles and get outside your own reflection.

    Calvin was a Renaissance humanist, by the way, classical influences, languages, ad fontes, that type of thing.

    ReplyDelete
  8. The only difference is that a Christian believes that meaning is conferred upon life by God, while an atheist believes that we define our own meaning for life.

    We believe life is inherently meaningful because God exists. You believe that life is not meaningful, but that we must make up our own meaning—which is the same as life being meaningless. When man purports to make meaning in a meaningless world, he ultimately robs himself of any meaning, and he jealously tries to do the same to everyone else.

    ReplyDelete
  9. "No, Calvin wanted him humanely executed, not burned."

    Oh, I see. Well, I guess that makes things completely better. Am I to take this remark as meaning that you see nothing wrong with the idea of putting another human being to death merely for holding different religious beliefs than you do, as long as you do it humanely?

    Kyle:

    "You believe that life is not meaningful, but that we must make up our own meaning—which is the same as life being meaningless."

    No, that is not the same thing at all. Life has meaning because we choose to find it meaningful, and the meaning we thereby confer upon it is real.

    Remember Descartes: "I think, therefore I am." He realized that his thoughts had to be real simply because he was having them, because there's no such thing as "false" consciousness or the illusion of consciousness. Meaning is the same way: by choosing to find certain things meaningful, we bring meaning into existence. I don't think this is a very difficult concept to grasp.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Kyle: what you said (you said it perfectly).

    Adam: You write: "Am I to take this remark as meaning that you see nothing wrong with the idea of putting another human being to death merely for holding different religious beliefs than you do, as long as you do it humanely?"

    First you needed to be made aware of the facts. Personally I consider Calvin as all men to be sinners very much capable of sinful acts and decisions. There is one only who was (is) without sin that being Jesus Christ (oh, and, perhaps atheists). To understand the execution of Servetus though you need to see it in its historical context, which is not the same as justifying it. Otherwise you're just throwing something called a canard around.

    ReplyDelete
  11. No, that is not the same thing at all. Life has meaning because we choose to find it meaningful, and the meaning we thereby confer upon it is real.

    If we arbitrarily assign meaning to life, the meaning I assign to life is no more or less real or true than the meaning you assign to it, although the meanings we assign are opposed. There is no basis on which to judge either meaning's consonance with reality. There is, in fact, no objective reality to the meanings we assign. On an objective level, life is inherently meaningless. This is not a difficult concept to grasp—simply one which the human spirit is wont to militate against (with good reason).

    However, God exists, and so life has inherent meaning and purpose.

    ReplyDelete
  12. I'm not interested in the historical context of Servetus' murder, k7. I asked you a direct question, and you didn't answer, so I'll ask it again: Do you, or do you not, support the execution of people who hold different religious beliefs than you?

    Kyle:

    Now we're getting somewhere. As it happens, I do believe that meaning can be defined in an objective way, but just for the moment I'd like to focus on a different question.

    "However, God exists, and so life has inherent meaning and purpose."

    Let's say for the sake of argument that you're correct and God exists. What gives him the authority to define the meaning of my life more objectively than I myself can? Are you merely saying that God can force us to agree with him because he has the biggest stick, or is there something more to your viewpoint?

    ReplyDelete
  13. Adam,

    You and God are not equal. You are contingent upon Him. I am saying that God is the ground of meaning.

    ReplyDelete
  14. >I'm not interested in the historical context of Servetus' murder, k7. I asked you a direct question, and you didn't answer, so I'll ask it again: Do you, or do you not, support the execution of people who hold different religious beliefs than you?

    I didn't take your question seriously, Adam, because you're an atheist. The history of atheism is a rather recent history of one hundred million human beings imprisoned, tortured, and murdered because they didn't in some way conform to a genocidal atheist regime's view of things.

    One thing you'll find if you actually look into the historical context of the Servetus execution is the fact that it was rare. In Calvin's time in Geneva one person was put to death for such a crime (a crime that was on the books, by the way, Adam - and not just in Geneva - the result of a legal proceeding, the execution was not the result of a lynch party). The Reformation was championing among other things freedom of conscience, and succeeding against a totalitarian opposition from Kings, Emperors, and Popes on down to the man in the street.

    Go to any liberal college or university campus today (or socialist Europe) and see where atheists stand regarding freedom of conscience and speech and thought.

    As an atheist with no standards higher than your own vain notions of what is right you have no ground to stand on to ask such a question as you've asked.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Adam, think about it this way: you can piously shout that George Washington owned slaves. Yet look at the historical context: owning slaves was the way of the world throughout the world in Washington's day, but not everybody was fighting for freedom and values such as that all human beings are created - created - equal before God. George Washington and the American Revolution and the documents drawn up from that revolution were a rather large nail - perhaps the largest - in the coffin of the practice of human slavery. In historical time it was a blink of an eye from that moment to the end of slavery in America.

    The council of Geneva (of which Calvin had no participation or control or even influence at the time of Servetus' execution) were the equivalent of the slave holders who, like all the other players on the historical stage then, considered heresy to be a crime punishable by death (there were also practical matters of war and politics in the air that effected entire populations regarding this subject of punishing heresy). Of course, the Roman Catholics had different notions of what was heresy, just as the Anabaptists and so on. The Reformation was putting a nail in that coffin though. The process was begun. It didn't happen overnight, but it happened, and the hindsight of people living today, who benefit from the fight and sacrifice made on their behalf, can grandstand all they want and proclaim themselves better than people in the past, but a little self-awareness and historical imagination should put a measure of shame in that indulgence.

    ReplyDelete
  16. I don't know why you're having such a hard time answering a simple question, k7. Yes or no: do you support executing people who hold different religious beliefs than you do?

    I appreciate your answering me, Kyle; I think we're getting closer now. So what is it that makes God the ground of meaning? Is it simply because, in your view, he created me that allows him to decide what the meaning of my life will be? Or does he possess some other quality that gives him that right?

    ReplyDelete
  17. I appreciate your answering me, Kyle; I think we're getting closer now. So what is it that makes God the ground of meaning? Is it simply because, in your view, he created me that allows him to decide what the meaning of my life will be? Or does he possess some other quality that gives him that right?

    It is that everything which exists depends upon God, who alone is uncreated and necessary. Without God, nothing exists.

    ReplyDelete
  18. >I don't know why you're having such a hard time answering a simple question, k7. Yes or no: do you support executing people who hold different religious beliefs than you do?

    Ahh, I wasn't aware you were having trouble seeing my own position vis-a-vis burning alive Unitarians (my brother and sister-in-law are Unitarians) -- I'm for burning alive Unitarians, Adam.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Mr. Lee, how would you respond to your own question? How do you respond to the charge that atheists do what you are condemning when they enforce criminal sanctions on individuals with various intensity from kicking students out of school to killing fields.

    It would seem that fallen man is prone to such behaviour and nobody is innocent, atheists included (perhaps atheists being the worst of the lot, based on the numbers of dead).

    The tree of the Reformation produced the free republics of western Europe and America. The tree of atheism is a mighty grisly looking thing.

    ReplyDelete
  20. k7 doesn't seem able to give a straightforward answer to a simple question, so I won't be responding to him anymore.

    I'm afraid I don't follow your logic, Kyle. Even if it were true that all existence depended on God, that wouldn't imply that he was the only one who had the right to set the meaning of a person's life.

    As far as your question goes, Karen, I of course oppose any attempt to limit the individual right of free speech or punish people for exercising that right. However, I'm not aware of any atheists kicking students out of school for being Christian, much less setting up killing fields. If you can show me people who actually are doing those things, I will certainly join with you in condemning them. Do you have any specific examples?

    ReplyDelete
  21. Socialists tend to be atheist. The politically-correct left in America, socialist left in Europe, socialist right in nazi Germany, communist left in the Soviet Union, China, and Cambodia, all atheist, all very willing to kill any individuals who didn't and don't conform to their beliefs and views and ideology.

    This is the history of atheism, like it or not, Adam. It is rather recent history too.

    Your moralizing tone, by the way, is not unusual for an atheist, Adam. The fact that that irony is lost on atheists is not surprising either considering atheists are not renowned for their self-reflection.

    As stated, Adam, that Tree of Atheism is a rather grisly sight. Force yourself to once in a while at least take a look over in its direction. At least before you start to moralize again.

    ReplyDelete
  22. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  23. I'm afraid I don't follow your logic, Kyle. Even if it were true that all existence depended on God, that wouldn't imply that he was the only one who had the right to set the meaning of a person's life.

    I said nothing about "rights." I was answering your question as to what makes God the ground of meaning. Since all things are contingent upon God, so also meaning.

    ReplyDelete
  24. To Mr. Lee, sorry if I came across as arrogant. I tend to overstate arguments. It's specious to compare atheists to horrendous secular regimes as I did it.

    ReplyDelete
  25. And here we hit all the old familiar roadblocks on the road to anything resembling communication.

    I note that Adam Lee was kind enough not to drag in xtianity's hideous track record on human rights, but (some of) the xtians were more than willing to confer morality based on history. Which is incorrect, no matter who does it.

    Moral relativism is practiced by EVERYONE, not just theists, or atheists.

    What is common coin today, is disgusting to us 2 decades away.

    Oh, & Pascal's Wager raises its ugly head yet again.

    Until empirical proof is provided (for the Big Bang and God), then it's all guesswork.

    Oh, K7? Start walking the talk. You know, "Judge not..." etc.

    As to a 'religion for overgrown children', how grotesque. Atheists are independent, not co-dependent. Atheism's not a religion: look up the definition, fer cryin' out loud.

    I will not put divinity, or ideology, above humanity.

    History is rife w/examples of how this simply doesn't work. At all.

    & I am not a label. A stereotype. I am simply human.

    That will have to suffice.

    ReplyDelete
  26. kyle-

    It is that everything which exists depends upon God, who alone is uncreated and necessary. Without God, nothing exists.

    Wait... How do you know that said "God" is the foundation of all meaning. Without the capability of proving such, its impossible for you to make that assertion. ^_^

    See, the problems lies in your logic-

    1. Everything that exists depends on God.
    Appeal to ignorance.
    2. God is uncreated and neccasary.
    Appeal to ignoramce.
    3. Without God, nothing exists.
    Appeal to ignorance.

    Not to mention the problems of the thousands of different gods.

    We believe life is inherently meaningful because God exists. You believe that life is not meaningful, but that we must make up our own meaning—which is the same as life being meaningless.

    Because you cannot show god exists, you cannot show that life has inherent meaning. That's an assumption based on an appeal to ignorance. Instead, you attribute meaning to 'God', which includes your upbringing and your enviroment in a long indoctrination process that starts at birth, and say that is the source of your meaning. You are still making up your own meaning, however, you are hiding that creation behind the 'God' figure. (I love sociology. ^_^)

    See, 'God' is a cultural creation, if anything. The characters of gods over the ages match the people's own viewpoints on life. Even the character called Christ shows this much, showing how the people (Jewish) of the time viewed life. This character reflected the changing viewpoints of a select number of Jewish people from the vengeful jealous YHWH to a more compassionate god. Humans have a bad tendacy to do this sort of thing.

    ReplyDelete