Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Bluffing death

I’m going to quote some comments from an infidel thread on the subject of death.

It’s revealing to see the way infidels confront–or rather, evade–death. They oscillate between bathos and bluster. Infidels talk tough, but they have their own little props and crutches. They tell themselves comforting lies about death. That’s because their belief-system lacks the inner resources to help them out in the hour of their greatest need.

No doubt some will say I’m mean for exposing the charade. But atheism is far meaner. Atheism robs the dying, and the survivors, of genuine hope. Robs them of any possibility of hope. It offers counterfeit comfort. Fake substitutes.

That’s incomparably cruel and malicious.

It might be said that Christianity, with its doctrine of hell, suffers from the same problem. But to begin with, many infidels act as if there own position is problem-free.

Moreover, while Christianity isn’t hopeful for everyone, atheism isn’t hopeful for anyone. So the two are hardly comparable.

There are also comments I don’t quote which are laced with obscenities–as if swearing at death scares the Grim Reaper away. The infidel betrays his fear by pretending to be brave.

She suffered a great deal, which is a tragedy. Throughout it all, however, she remained brave. She found the strength to connect with each of us personally... to tell us how proud she was of us, and how much she loved us all, and how much she would miss us.

But if she ceases to exist, she won’t miss her loved ones.

Never, during the entire ordeal, did I see fear in her eyes or hear it in her voice. And throughout, we honored her wishes which she had expressed clearly long before... that she wanted no clergy anywhere near her. She did not indulge in... or tolerate... any talk about a life after death or a reunion with her many pre-deceased loved ones. She uttered no pleas to any god. Instead, she gave voice to her unending love for us, and then she left us.

But if she ceased to exist, her love came to an end the moment she died.

She was an unflinchingly brave woman to the very end, and my life is forever richer because of her example.

i) Why is it the duty of the dying to set an example? Isn’t that an awful lot to load on the dying, at a time when their physical and psychological resources may be at low ebb? Why must they be strong for us when they are weak? Why do we saddle them with that onerous responsibility? Why can’t we be strong for them, and allow them to be weak?

ii) The life of the survivor is not “forever” richer. That’s a nice line, but it isn’t true. For the survivor will also die.

Your story reminded me of a quote by Carl Sagan:
The world is so exquisite with so much love and moral depth, that there is no reason to deceive ourselves with pretty stories for which there's little good evidence. Far better it seems to me, in our vulnerability, is to look death in the eye and to be grateful every day for the brief but magnificent opportunity that life provides.

Let’s see how many of the infidel commenters actually abide by that dictum.

cowards seeks solace in delusion, brave men stands united with reality, what else can i say?

Except for the awkward little fact that the dying don’t stand united. We die individually. At different times and places. We drop, one-by-one. In that respect, we all die alone. It sounds encouraging to use this strength-in-numbers appeal, but it’s illusory.

Do not go gently into that good night. Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

But once you flatline, what does it matter if you went gently into the night, or put up some futile resistance to the inevitable? This may flatter the dying atheist, but it’s empty bravado. It’s like using a chin-flick to intimidate a grizzly bear. Will that stop him from mauling you? Will that make you feel better as he claws the flesh from your face?

To be able to have the courage to face death and understand what it is, now that's what it means to be a human and to live.

To be human means many things. Fear is very human.

wow, what a beautiful human being. may she rest in peace.

That conjures up the serene image of a sleeper. The tranquil expression of a sleeper. But if the dead are nonentities, what does that really amount to?

This was written by another blogger named Cuttlefish sometime back and every time I read something like this, I am reminded of the post.
How does an atheist face death? By facing it, not by denying or diminishing it. Not by turning it into a transition to some other reality. Not by making up a story to make themselves feel better. It hurts because it's real, it's permanent, it's the end. It should hurt. And now he lives on only in our memory, and in our changed lives. That is his legacy; that is the good he continues to do. He's not looking down and guiding; he doesn't wait for us to join him. If we love him, we can do our best to fight for his causes, to continue his work. In the real world. The only one we have.

Yet the commenter is concocting a story to make himself feel better. A bedtime story in which the decedent “lives on” in our memories. But that’s not really living, now is it? That has reference to the memories of the living, not the dead. For, according to atheism, the dead have no memories. And they have no awareness of how they are remembered by others.

May I go with the grace your grandmother did. She would be proud of you, for sharing this with the community and giving the rest of us a place to look towards when facing our own end.

With all due respect, why should an atheist care whether or not a nonentity would be proud of them? Why should we live for their approval, if they cease to be? They had their life, now we have ours.

Words cannot describe the darkness that appears when such tragedy happens. Yet, the fact that you are angry is positive. You love that child (in present tense). You held him like the treasure he is: A gift from an unknown sender.

That’s very touching and quite poetic, but is it true?

Your child, your beautiful child was loved like no other child will be loved. He is missed, he left a void. But, I know that his shooting-star life brightened up your heavens.

That’s a lovely metaphor, but in a godless universe, how does that match a child-size casket? How does that offer the grieving mother any firm, concrete solace?

I'll tell you one thing: If that child were a grown man right now, he would not want his parents to be angry, but to be loving.

But he will never grow up. So that’s fictitious comfort. Imaginary consolation. 

Find the happiness that once was, for happiness is why we live.

Telling a grief-stricken mother to “find happiness” is cruel. Her happiness just went out of her life. It died with her child. The child was irreplaceable. Not some interchangeable part.

I'm sorry about your loss. I feel for you, and tonight I will kiss my child like you would kiss yours.

It’s nice to have folks who “feel” for the mourners. But at the same time, that’s pretty ineffectual.

There is no reason to be angry.
We are born and we pass on.
It has always been this way.
Holding anger in your heart just eats at you.

Just to tell mourners how they should feel doesn’t make them feel any better. To say “It’s always been this way” doesn’t make it any better. If something is bad, and it’s always been that way, then it’s always been bad. How is that any improvement?

Moreover, while death is perennial, death is new to a new generation. When your father or mother (or whoever dies), that’s a unique experience for you. That hasn’t happened to you before. As far as your concerned, it might as well be the first fatality in the history of the world.

And let’s not treat all fatalities equally. It really is different when it happens to one of your own.

I'm reminded of my favourite scene from the Sandman series:
Death comes to collect a small baby from it's crib. The baby says "aww is that all I get?" and death says, in a very loving way as she lifts the baby from the crib: " You get what everyone gets, you get a lifetime."
I don't know why but that's always brought me great comfort.

But the baby didn’t get a “lifetime.” And in a godless universe, death doesn’t speak lovingly to dying infants.

I don't understand why people fear the inevitable. You are alive now. You get one shot at happiness so why not make the best of it instead of lamenting that there isn't more?

In truth, inevitability can be a highly rational source of fear. If a danger is not inevitable, then you have less reason to be afraid since you may be able to dodge the bullet. But if the danger is unavoidable, then it’s only natural to be afraid.

I totally agree! You don't spend your time at the party crying that it will be over! You spend it talking and eating and drinking and enjoying the company of your fellow human beings.

Well, what if you knew that when the party ends, a serial killer will abduct you and torture you for 2 months before he buries you alive, wouldn’t that take the bloom off the gourmet hors d’oeuvres? I mean, how shallow can they get?

Worrying about existence, etc., is useless, so I'd argue you don't have to bother.Besides, in the end non-existence doesn't matter, it's existence itself that's giving you this problem now. Without it you wouldn't even be bothered by any such troubles, you wouldn't be missing out or depressed or sad or anything. You'll be as non-existent as you were before you were born (unless singularity, etc.). You've already "been through it" and it was nothing to worry about then either.

Of course, there’s an elementary difference between losing something and never having something.

You're being a greedy pig. Is this existence not enough for you? This breath of life? Stop whining and start living. Face the void and laugh at it. Yes the sun will one day explode and destroy Earth. But Earth and life would not exist were that process not repeated a billion times over. Just because the songs end doesn't mean we should fear dancing.

“Laugh at the void?” Like laughing in the face of a grizzly bear? What does that accomplish, exactly?

Somehow I doubt the average atheist is really that nonchalant in the face of death. What if he found himself in a Titanic situation: too many passengers for too few lifeboats. Don’t you suppose he’d scratch and claw his way onto the remaining lifeboat?

Or what about a hostage situation where the hostage-taker is going to execute one hostage to show the authorities how serious he is. Would the average atheist volunteer himself to take the bullet for the sake of his fellow hostages?

Why my grandfather passed away.. I was praying by his bedside (I have always been an atheist but I was praying for someone, anyone to save my grandpa). When I was done I looked up to see him staring at me. He whispered "please Michael I beg you not to pray" My death is my own and I will enjoy it as much as anything else I have ever done. Death is the final frontier of man and I am ready to explore. Adventure calls, Love you always Mikey".... His words still haunt me and I miss him very much :(

If the dying pass out of existence, then, of course, there’s nothing to “explore” on the other side. Adventure doesn’t call. Oblivion calls.

I always said that when I start getting old (as in my mind and health start to go) to strap me to a rocket and aim for the moon. I'd be closer to heaven than any other theist before me, and I'm an atheist.
Well, that sounds very inspirational at first glance, but suppose we unpack the statement:

i) This isn’t what Christians mean by “heaven.” They mean a place of conscious bliss.

ii) Outer space isn’t a very nice place to be. Parts of outer space are nice to look at, but it’s utterly inhospitable to man.

Yet infidels inject themselves with this kind of rhetorical valium. It sounds thrilling or soothing as long as you don’t think about it too hard, and realize what utter nonsense it is.

Quick story: My grandmother passed away a few years ago from some form of throat cancer. My family and I were with her at the hospital, and she was doped up on Morphine. A doctor came in, and asked if she would like to see a priest before she went on to the great void. She gave him the finger, laughed, laid down, and passed away within the hour. Amazing last memory for me to have of her.

Yes, what a way to remember your grandmother’s last moments on earth.

Your grandma sounds like she was a very strong and clear minded woman. She knew she had been dead billions of years before she was born, and that she was simply going back to that same place.

That’s the old Epicurean bromide.

i) But the two states are asymmetrical. If you never existed, you never knew what it was like to exist. You have nothing to lose. By contrast, the dying have everything to lose (if there is no afterlife).

ii) But there’s another sense in which the alleged symmetry also cuts against the Epicurean bromide. For those who never exist are still missing out. Indeed, there’s something especially poignant about missing out when you don’t even know what you’re missing.

BTW, I did a post on the Epicurean palliative a while back:

Who knows maybe one day her atoms will end up in a newborn child of a different species on a different world orbiting a new star.

Why not murder the child to distribute her vital organs to sick children? But that doesn’t sound quite so uplifting.

She is truly an inspiration! Wish there were more like her. Sorry for your loss, but you can always keep her alive in your memory and by simply speaking of her like you have done here.

Yes, you can keeper her “alive” in your memory until you die. Then your memories die with you. Dying memories of the dying.

It sounds like your grandmother has left a fine legacy. People who feel life is empty without the thought of rewards in an afterlife need to read stories like this (and the other good stories in the comments).

They also need to peel back the sugar-coated platitudes and see what’s underneath: nothing!

The more you focus on death, the less energy you have for life. And it's better to live a full life and have no regrets when you die than to put off living this life in the hopes that something better will come after death.

Why is it better to live a full life if death empties a full life? If death drains away all the fullness thereof?

Why does it matter if you have no regrets on your deathbed? Suppose you have many regrets the moment before you die. But if you cease to exist, then you have no regrets the moment after you die. So what’s the big difference?

BTW, is it really commendable to have no regrets in life?

RIP to what sounds to be an amazing individual. She gave you the life long present of teaching you how to live, treat others, and most importantly; how to die.

You don’t have to be taught how to die. It’s not like learning how to ride a bicycle. Death comes to the tutored and the untutored alike.

From a secular perspective, why does it matter how you die? It can’t very well matter to you if there’s no more you to care.

There needs to be more people like her in the world. I hope that one day, many can accept that morality is something within us all. Rather than something forced onto us by a false idol.

Notice how many false idols we see these infidels erect to create an emotional buffer between themselves and the logical consequences of their nihilistic belief-system.

Thank you for telling us about your grandmother. Thinking death will be just like it was before you were born is one thing, hearing about people actually facing it with such dignity is another.

From a secular perspective, why should we die with dignity? And why should we impose that on the dying? Don’t the dying have quite enough to deal with?

Lovely story. There's nothing more touching for me than knowing old people who have lived a fulfilling and loving life. It is also touching to know people who die with integrity and fearlessly.

A fulfilling life which is instantly unfulfilled at the moment of death.

What if the dying fear death? Should we shame them with secular homilies about how they ought to maintain a brave façade and set a good example for the rest of us? Atheism is such a merciless creed.

This shows no consideration for the dying. It’s not intended to make the dying feel better, but to make the living feel better.

There was a person we can all aspire to be. We don't need any person or any book to tell us how to be good people. Although she will not live on in an afterlife, her spirit will persist in the people she influenced and lives were made better by knowing he, of which you were of a lucky few. Enjoy those memories of life and of death, and share them with others. And thank you for sharing this one with me.

What good does that do the decedent? And isn’t there something terribly callous about this attitude? He’s dead. Too bad for him. Now it’s time for me to live it up.

She sounds like a wonderful woman. So many have the misconception that atheists are pessimistic, immoral, or downright mean. This goes to show the very reason I'm an atheist: I believe that life is the only thing we have, and as such, we should spend our time preciously, let those we love know we do, and treat everyone with the same care we'd want shown to us. That's the joy in life after all!

They are downright mean to the dying.

Thanks for sharing. You grandmother's "afterlife" will be the fond memories you have of her and that's more awesome than anything else.

Really? To be reduced to someone’s memory of you is “more awesome than anything else?” Not only is the decedent extinguished, but all the fond memories of the decedent will soon be extinguished when your turn comes. Yeah, that’s pretty awesome, man.

The only guarantee we have of any part of us that survives death is the reputation we leave behind.
Your grandmother sounds like an incredible person.

What does my reputation mean to me when there’s no more me?

Your grandmother sounded like an amazing woman. Mine is 90 and also still living at home, she can swim more laps in the pool than I ever could, and she too is atheist. I hope I still have more time to be closer with her before she goes, but I know that she's accomplished a lot so her passing won't be too sad.
I personally believe in celebrating the death of an elderly person. They've endured long and fullfilling lives and there's nothing wrong with that, we shouldn't be sad. I also really like the idea of it being the end. I have no desire to hang around in some eternal "heaven". To me it's like making a sequel upon sequel to a movie that never needed a continuation to begin with. Live your life to the fullest and get everything done while you can, and in the end you'll feel satisfied and ready to go. People who hold on to a life after death just aren't satisfied with how their lives turned out.

In the end you don’t feel satisfied. In the end you don’t feel anything. First you die, then you rot. That’s the dunghill of atheism–on its own very terms.

Notice that these infidels can’t bring themselves to honestly state what their position really entails.

When I die, I look forward to being taken apart particle by particle and dispersed throughout the universe over time.

But if you cease to exist when you die, then when you die you don’t look forward to anything. What could be more obvious?

They gush with swell-sounding phrases that have no connection with their worldview.

And what’s so great about having your particles dispersed throughout the universe? Imagine a serial killer who uses that line on his victims: “I’m doing you a favor: you’re particles will be dispersed throughout the universe. Isn’t that, like, just awesome, dude?”

Long drawn out deaths are disgusting! I'm sorry that your grandmother had to go through that. Seriously, people. Physician assisted suicide. Let's make this happen. We all deserve the right to die with dignity. For those of you who have seen these situations, you know what I mean when I say we NEED this option.

Yes, we need to prettify death. Pretty it up by killing the old bag like drowning kittens–before she becomes too “disgusting.” 

Thank you for the story. Your grandmother was obviously heroic both in life and in death.

Is a heroic corpse so much better than a cowardly corpse? Can you tell the difference?

My dad is a hospice chaplain. From what he has told me most people tend to broaden and loosen there beliefs that close to death. Its amazing how when you get to the end you realize it doesn't matter if you are a Christian or an Atheist, nor does it matter if there is a heaven or a hell.

Well, if atheism is true, then, indeed, it doesn’t matter one way or the other. But if Christianity is true, then it makes an eternity of difference. 

All that matters is the love we have shared in this life and who we have shared it with.

But your shared love dies with the lover and the beloved. 

Celebrate each moment, be conscious of every breath.

It’s hard for a corpse to practice that advice.

Be here now.

Isn’t that just precious? Of course, if you are here now, then it’s easy to say, “Be here now.” Which misses the point. 

It sounds like your grandmother was an amazing women who left behind not only a family but a legacy of compassion and fierce grace. I will honor her in my meditations today as will I focus on trying to send some positive energy and love your way.

“Send positive energy.” Yes, I’m sure that will make a big difference. Can’t you just feel the positive energy washing over you?

It's possible to look on the bright side, as you do, but death still sucks, and I don't think it does us much good to pretend that it doesn't. Avoiding the instinct to flinch away from uncomfortable conclusions isn't necessarily part of atheism--and since atheism doesn't usually come with an unbearable social cost (we're not treated like pedophiles any more), there's certainly no guarantee that any given atheist is capable of that kind of steely-eyed face-the-facts courage.
Yes, it's better to have lived than not to have lived at all, modulo edge cases involving terrible lives, but life is good, living is good, and death curtails that. It's something to be mourned, and to be fought.

This is the only comment that came to grips with atheism.


  1. I would like to preface this comment by observing that I generally find this blog to be well written and offering high quality apologetics.

    My criticism relates to the constant blather about "if atheism is true". Atheism is not a belief system or world view. Atheism is simply the non-belief in god(s) - nothing more. Atheists don't discount the possibility of the supernatural, other dimenensions, reality beyond human comprehension, etc. We just don't waste our time believing in a sky daddy who supposedly actively intervenes in human affirs in the absence of sufficient proof.

    If Hey-Zeus wishes to make an appearance tonight on CNN, rest assured that I will tune in. If he wishes to whisper in my ear, that is fine as well but I don't expect anyone else to be persuaded by my personal revelation.

  2. Atheism is false.

    False beliefs are frequently cruel.

    Atheism is frequently cruel.

  3. If "[a]theism is not a belief system or world view" then why waste time trying to convince others of the validity of this non-belief?

  4. I can only quickly comment. Too busy.

    I may be wrong about the following statements, so I'm open for correction.

    My understanding is that for the longest time, even back to ancient Greek culture(s), through the Middle Ages, past the Renaissance, atheism has been usually defined (both popularly and in the scholarly literature) as the belief in the non-existence of God or gods.

    Only in recent times has atheism been subdivided into:

    1. "strong atheism" (AKA "hard" or "positive") that believes there are no gods. Some strong atheists believe that there is proof that no gods exist. While others don't or say one doesn't need to have proof to justifiably believe none exist.

    2. "weak atheism" (AKA "soft" or "negative") that is a lack of a belief in gods. Often because god claims are unproven, or the evidences offered are unpersuasive.

    It was Charles Bradlaugh who was (one of?) the first to define atheism as a lack of a belief in god in his 1864 work "A Plea for Atheism"

    Even today, many reputable sources define atheism in the "strong" sense.

    Here are a collection of quotes I've gathered from different sources that may or may not be citing the primary sources accurately.

    "Atheism is the view that there is no God."

    " ‘Atheism’ means the negation of theism, the denial of the existence of God. "

    "Atheism is ostensibly the doctrine that there is no God." -- Oxford Companion to Philosophy (2005)

    If atheism were merely a lack of a belief in God or gods, then rocks would qualify as atheists.


    "If atheism were merely a lack of a belief in God or gods, then rocks would qualify as atheists."

    That presumes a distinction between rocks and atheists. But what if atheists have rocks for brains?

    Indeed, there's considerable evidence for that equation.

  6. "If "[a]theism is not a belief system or world view" then why waste time trying to convince others of the validity of this non-belief?"

    Good question.

  7. The Atheist Missionary said: "Atheism is not a belief system or world view."

    It most certainly is. It posits a certain type of reality, one which can be tested and analyzed logically.

    It may be true that the atheist isn't obligated to prove the non-existence of God, but it is true that the atheist is obligated to defend their world view and its consequences.

    This includes a defense of the denial of metaphysics, given our intuition; a defense of our sense of morality, given our experience; a defense of illogical, backwards, unscientific (and unobservable or unrepeatable) positions, such as from nothing comes something, from the irrational comes reason, from non-life arises life, and out of chaos arises order.

    Because atheism posits a certain type of reality it is a world view. Because this world view doesn't sync with the experience of most of the believing world, atheism is obligated to provide defenses when challenged.

    Steve provides many challenges.

  8. why waste time trying to convince others of the validity of this non-belief? Well, two responses to that: 1. I find counter-apologetics intellectually stimulating; and 2. I'm not trying to convince anybody of anything. My web pseudonym is a sarcastic jab at religious fundamentalists who proselytize their beliefs. I support freedom of religion and freedom from religion. You guys can believe whatever you want but I want the buck stopped when those beliefs affect public policy (such as Christian cover pages on White House intelligence briefings:

    Just so we are clear on our definitions: "Atheist (n.) comes from the Greek root atheos, i.e. without theos, which literally translates to ‘without God’. Atheism, then, is simply the absence of theism. It makes no sense to disbelieve in what isn’t even there. Just like not stamp collecting isn’t a hobby, it makes no sense to point out that non-stamp collectors disbelieve in the non-hobby of not collecting stamps. The British philosopher A.C. Grayling makes a similar comparison regarding atheists in his informative book Ideas that Matter. The term atheist (without theos) designates someone who “lacks a belief in God,” and concordantly is correct for describing someone who “lacks faith” as well." Tristan Vick, Advocatus Atheist blogger.


    "Atheism is not a belief system or world view. Atheism is simply the non-belief in god(s) - nothing more."

    That's just a linguistic gimmick. Expressing a positive thesis in negative terms.

    In Christian theism, God is the source of all modalities (i.e. possibilities, actualities, necessities).

    By denying the existence of God (both Christian theism and lesser theisms), atheism is committed to a systematic alternative explanation which attributes all modalities to a naturalistic source or sources.

    In other words, "atheism" is just a negative synonym for "metaphysical naturalism."

  10. The Atheist Missionary said...

    "We just don't waste our time believing in a sky daddy who supposedly actively intervenes in human affirs in the absence of sufficient proof. If Hey-Zeus wishes to make an appearance tonight on CNN, rest assured that I will tune in."

    That polemical caricature evinces your intellectual frivolity.

  11. ἐκκλησία, I'm sorry but you could not be more wrong. An atheist does not need to deny metaphysics or any of the other matters you describe in your comment. For example, we know the ultraviolet spectrum exists even though we can't perceive it with the naked eye and I am convinced that there are other unknown facets of reality and/or dimensions beyond human comprehension. Atheists don't propose to provide answers for these unknowns - they are content to say "we don't know - let's see if we can find the answers". Theists are the ones who propose to have the answers.

  12. steve, polemics aside. Why doesn't your lord make an appearance on CNN?

  13. For one thing, he's a Republican. So he'd only appear on Fox.

  14. "Bluffing death"

    Atheism is an intellectual bluff.

    Atheism is not only intellectually bankrupt, but as Steve's post shows atheism is emotionally unsatisfying and cruel as well.

    Atheism is both stupid and cruel. You gotta be an idiot to embrace that.

    In delightful contrast Christianity is intellectual, smart, true, and kind.

    Christianity is so much more satisfying intellectually, spiritually, emotionally, and psychologically than atheism that it's sad that anyone ever falls for the lie of atheism.

  15. The following was said:

    “My criticism relates to the constant blather about "if atheism is true". Atheism is not a belief system or world view. Atheism is simply the non-belief in god(s) - nothing more.”

    In part, I have Nietzsche to thank for the following reply.

    The comment that Atheism is not a belief system would I think be met with nothing but scorn from Nietzsche.

    He very much viewed his mission is developing a new belief system that would lead to a new education and rebirth of society.

    You do not fight with the passion that Nietzsche fought if it were not about beliefs and the need to adopt a new belief system.

  16. Then again most of the New Atheists have little knowledge of Nietzsche which makes their arguments somewhat lacking in force and explanatory impact.

  17. "Then again most of the New Atheists have little knowledge of Nietzsche which makes their arguments somewhat lacking in force and explanatory impact."

    Too bad Nietzsche doesn't come out of Hell and tell everyone to reject his atheism.

    If Nietzsche did that, he'd be a great evangelist for Christianity.

    Nietzsche: "Hey everyone, please listen closely to what I have to say: There is an almighty God and there is eternal Hell with eternal suffering. I know. Because I'm in Hell. I'm warning everyone with pain and tears to not do what I did. There is a God. You're all sinners. And God provided a way of redemption through the Blood Sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the Cross. Repent! And trust in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior.

    Don't ever do what I did or you'll end up in miserable Hell like I did. Which is for eternity.

    Please! I'm warning you! Repent and believe Jesus and in Jesus."

    Wouldn't it be cool if Nietzsche said this on CNN?


  18. Ah, the neurotic atheist. He's anal-retentively afraid to "believe," so he has conjure up a "non-belief."

  19. Too bad Nietzsche doesn't come out of Hell and tell everyone to reject his atheism.

    If Nietzsche did that, he'd be a great evangelist for Christianity


    Or if Jesus came back.

    Or if Thor appeared (substitute Norse mythology for Christianity in that case, of course).

    As an atheist who hasn't seen any of the above happen, or anything else that suggests that gods exist, be sure and wake me when these things start happening. Until then, I'll continue to be skeptical that iron-age mystics, who were necessarily ignorant of modern physics, astronomy, medicine, etc, somehow managed to get metaphysics right, even though their explanations were similar to so many other god-centered stories of primitive humans.


    "As an atheist who hasn't seen any of the above happen, or anything else that suggests that gods exist..."

    I don't believe in "gods" either. Having eliminating polytheism, that leaves monotheism. Thanks for narrowing the search parameters.

  21. The Atheist Missionary wrote:

    "For example, we know the ultraviolet spectrum exists even though we can't perceive it with the naked eye and I am convinced that there are other unknown facets of reality and/or dimensions beyond human comprehension. Atheists don't propose to provide answers for these unknowns - they are content to say 'we don't know - let's see if we can find the answers'. Theists are the ones who propose to have the answers....Why doesn't your lord make an appearance on CNN?"

    Atheists and theists both claim to have answers for some things and not have answers for others. Whether they're correct in either context has to be argued according to the details of each case. Vague generalizations, like you've given us above, don't accomplish much.

    Regarding why God doesn't do something like make a CNN appearance, I briefly addressed the issue in a post on Biblical prophecy a few years ago. Why think that something less than appearing on CNN is insufficient?

    God, like humans, can do something sufficient to accomplish His ends rather than doing something more than sufficient. Or he can do something that's more than sufficient to a lesser degree rather than a greater degree. We frequently provide people with less, even far less, evidence than we could to support our claims. If a husband gets home from work late one night, and his wife asks him why he's late, let's say that he explains that he stopped at the bank on the way home. He could produce a bank receipt and footage from the bank's security cameras, but most people would settle for some lesser form of evidence, like the husband's general trustworthiness. It makes sense to produce less evidence in some contexts. Producing less evidence saves time and is beneficial in other ways. God is unlike us, however, in that He knows what evidence would be needed in each case, He determines where to place each person in life, etc. (Acts 17:26-27)

    One advantage to producing less evidence than what you're asking for is that it can better demonstrate the character of individuals who respond to the evidence they have in different ways. A world with suffering, a God who isn't doing things like making CNN appearances, etc. develops and demonstrates the character of individuals in ways that another type of world wouldn't.

    (continued below)

  22. (continued from above)

    We also have to consider how atheists and other critics of Christianity have already responded to large amounts of evidence. The fact that some people are willing to propose something like a multiverse or group hallucinations to dismiss an argument for God's existence or Jesus' resurrection, for example, doesn't prove that there isn't a lot of evidence for the Christian conclusions. Holocaust deniers don't prove that there isn't much evidence for the Holocaust.

    Even if a Christian argument only produced, say, a 55% probability, that low probability would still be better than the alternatives. Asking for more evidence doesn't explain the evidence you have. Asking why God wasn't on CNN last night isn't much of a response to a Christian argument for prophecy fulfillment or Jesus' resurrection.

    Given that we're addressing an agent like God, not just a human, how much can we claim to know about the level of evidence that's needed? God would have direct access to the heart and means of changing individuals beyond the means available to humans. It's not as though God is dependent on something like philosophical or historical argumentation. I don't think the arguments for Christianity produce a conclusion that has merely a low probability, but even if I did, I could also believe that God convicts the hearts of individuals apart from such argumentation. I could also believe that God isn't under any obligation to present evidence to people who He knows would respond wrongly to it if they had the opportunity. God has rights, knowledge, and means that a human wouldn't have. We shouldn't think of how God should approach the world as if He had human limitations.

    Last year, I wrote an article about how non-Christians who post here often ignore what we write about the evidence for Christianity. See here. You and other opponents of Christianity who post on this blog would be more credible in your requests for additional evidence if you made more of an effort to interact with the evidence you already have.

  23. Of course, hardcore infidels regard any naturalistic explanation, however unlikely, as more likely than a supernatural explanation. So even if God did appear on CNN (whatever that's supposed to mean), they'd conjecture a flurry of naturalistic alternatives.

  24. A doctor came in, and asked if she would like to see a priest before she went on to the great void. She gave him the finger, laughed, laid down, and passed away within the hour. Amazing last memory for me to have of her.

    I can't tell you how sad this makes me feel. It's a tragedy, really. This pathetic display of defiance is nothing to be admired; it won't stand up to His scrutiny.

  25. Why doesn't your lord make an appearance on CNN?

    TAM, there is an "official" Christian reply that hasn't been alluded to (except indirectly by Steve in his last comment), I suspect because it's so weak. It's at the end of Luke 16. Supposedly if reading the Pentateuch and the prophets doesn't convince you, nothing will. Therefore CNN would be a waste of time. Do you buy that?

  26. Brian Westley wrote:

    "As an atheist who hasn't seen any of the above happen, or anything else that suggests that gods exist, be sure and wake me when these things start happening."

    We have a large amount of documentation of paranormal phenomena in modern times and good evidence for events in ancient times that would commonly be considered miraculous. If you're asleep to all of that evidence, then that's your problem.

    If by "see" you're referring to what you've witnessed with your own eyes, ears, etc., then should we conclude that you reject the vast majority of what scientists claim about their disciplines? You didn't watch the scientific experiments yourself or personally verify that all of their equipment was working properly before they took each measurement. You're trusting what other people have told you. Often, you're many steps removed from the original witnesses.

    You write:

    "Until then, I'll continue to be skeptical that iron-age mystics, who were necessarily ignorant of modern physics, astronomy, medicine, etc, somehow managed to get metaphysics right, even though their explanations were similar to so many other god-centered stories of primitive humans."

    Of course, atheists and other critics of Christianity don't just reject the claims of ancient Christian sources on matters that would require a knowledge of something like physics or medicine. For example, an ancient Christian wouldn't have to know much about astronomy in order to credibly report that Jesus' tomb was empty. Saying that the apostle John didn't know much about chemistry doesn't give us reason to distrust what he reported about the empty tomb. And saying that the ancient enemies of Christianity who corroborated the empty tomb were ignorant of the latest antibiotics doesn't give us much reason to doubt their testimony.

    We today are ignorant of scientific discoveries that will be made a century from now. Does it follow that nobody at that future date should trust our history books or court verdicts? If a man testifies to a murder he witnessed in a court of law, should the jury reject his testimony if they discover that he's illiterate, carries a good luck charm in his pocket, or believes in horoscopes?

  27. Thnuh Thnuh,

    Thanks for illustrating what I said about the behavior of many of the non-Christians who post here.

  28. Just for the record, the meaning of the greek "atheos" is indeed "without God", but doesn't have quite the meaning that TAM claims. It's meaning is not "without belief in God" but literally "without God". Where the word is used in the Bible, it is a picture of someone who has been abandoned by God; it is someone who doesn't know God, and actively denies God or the gods. It is not simply a lack of belief in God. It is a positive denial.

  29. Brian Westley said:
    "As an atheist who hasn't seen any of the above happen..."

    Have you ever seen your brain?

  30. Likewise, has he ever seen other minds? Has he seen the past? Has he seen the future?

  31. The Atheist Missionary said: "For example, we know the ultraviolet spectrum exists even though we can't perceive it with the naked eye and I am convinced that there are other unknown facets of reality and/or dimensions beyond human comprehension."

    Clearly unknown facets of reality are not ipso factor 'metaphysical'. Assuming there is dimensionality beyond our comprehension, scientific observability insists that it too must be of the same nature as the ones we already know about (3 space, 1 time) so again, not necessarily metaphysical; that is unless you consider time to be metaphysical.

    Even so, I noticed you ignored the comments about the unscientific nature of your materialistic beliefs about life arising from non-life; do you have scientific evidence of this belief? Scientifically, observability and repeatability prove beyond reasonable doubt that life has only ever arises from life?

    So your belief in the evolution of first life, is no less pixie dust than our belief that you mock. In fact it is more scientific (and rational) to believe that all life arose from some eternal life, given our observation that only life gives rise to life.

    You also ignored the other similar comment about common atheist beliefs (origin of reason, order in the universe etc). Most here would be satisfied if you show any of those beliefs to be observable, repeatable or scientific in an atheistic world view (on your own terms, as Steve tends to say).

    If I could not be more wrong, you're response hasn't shown it.