Penn Jillett – “There Is No God”

The third of, well I suppose it’s becoming a series of sorts, on coming to Atheism, is Penn Jillett’s view on religion, atheism, skepticism, morality and more… The following is originally from NPR’s series, “This I believe”. You can listen to a streaming audio as well from the NPR site.

I believe that there is no God. I’m beyond atheism. Atheism is not believing in God. Not believing in God is easy — you can’t prove a negative, so there’s no work to do. You can’t prove that there isn’t an elephant inside the trunk of my car. You sure? How about now? Maybe he was just hiding before. Check again. Did I mention that my personal heartfelt definition of the word “elephant” includes mystery, order, goodness, love and a spare tire?

So, anyone with a love for truth outside of herself has to start with no belief in God and then look for evidence of God. She needs to search for some objective evidence of a supernatural power. All the people I write e-mails to often are still stuck at this searching stage. The atheism part is easy.

But, this “This I Believe” thing seems to demand something more personal, some leap of faith that helps one see life’s big picture, some rules to live by. So, I’m saying, “This I believe: I believe there is no God.”

Having taken that step, it informs every moment of my life. I’m not greedy. I have love, blue skies, rainbows and Hallmark cards, and that has to be enough. It has to be enough, but it’s everything in the world and everything in the world is plenty for me. It seems just rude to beg the invisible for more. Just the love of my family that raised me and the family I’m raising now is enough that I don’t need heaven. I won the huge genetic lottery and I get joy every day.

Believing there’s no God means I can’t really be forgiven except by kindness and faulty memories. That’s good; it makes me want to be more thoughtful. I have to try to treat people right the first time around.

Believing there’s no God stops me from being solipsistic. I can read ideas from all different people from all different cultures. Without God, we can agree on reality, and I can keep learning where I’m wrong. We can all keep adjusting, so we can really communicate. I don’t travel in circles where people say, “I have faith, I believe this in my heart and nothing you can say or do can shake my faith.” That’s just a long-winded religious way to say, “shut up,” or another two words that the FCC likes less. But all obscenity is less insulting than, “How I was brought up and my imaginary friend means more to me than anything you can ever say or do.” So, believing there is no God lets me be proven wrong and that’s always fun. It means I’m learning something.

Believing there is no God means the suffering I’ve seen in my family, and indeed all the suffering in the world, isn’t caused by an omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent force that isn’t bothered to help or is just testing us, but rather something we all may be able to help others with in the future. No God means the possibility of less suffering in the future.

Believing there is no God gives me more room for belief in family, people, love, truth, beauty, sex, Jell-O and all the other things I can prove and that make this life the best life I will ever have.

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About Rodibidably

Jeff Randall is a frequent volunteer for free-thought organizations, including the Center For Inquiry – DC. Having been blogging since January 2008, he decided that a community of bloggers would be an interesting new experience (or at the very least a fun way to annoy his friends into reading his posts more frequently). Since finding out about about the existence of, and then joining, the atheist/skeptic community in 2007 he has been committed to community activism, critical thinking in all aspects of life, science, reason, and a fostering a secular society.
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15 Responses to Penn Jillett – “There Is No God”

  1. tshirtninja says:

    “So, anyone with a love for truth outside of herself has to start with no belief in God and then look for evidence of God.”

    Basically this is saying to accept atheistic materialism by the same blind faith on the very start of this journey. In order to be an atheist, you must positively believe that God does not exist.

    “Not believing in God is easy — you can’t prove a negative, so there’s no work to do.”

    No work to do? Researching theistic arguments for God’s existence is work.

    “I have love, blue skies, rainbows and Hallmark cards, and that has to be enough. It has to be enough, but it’s everything in the world and everything in the world is plenty for me.”

    What this lady has not considered is this question: ultimately, what does it all mean in an impersonal universe?

    “Believing there’s no God means I can’t really be forgiven except by kindness and faulty memories. That’s good; it makes me want to be more thoughtful. I have to try to treat people right the first time around.”

    Christians also believe in treating people with kindness the first time around, too.

    “Believing there’s no God stops me from being solipsistic.”

    …and just how does theism = solipsism?

    “Without God, we can agree on reality, and I can keep learning where I’m wrong.”

    If God exists, then this lady’s view on reality is already skewed by her imagining that He doesn’t exist.

    “I don’t travel in circles where people say, “I have faith, I believe this in my heart and nothing you can say or do can shake my faith.” ”

    Neither do intelligent Christians.

    “Believing there is no God means the suffering I’ve seen in my family, and indeed all the suffering in the world, isn’t caused by an omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent force that isn’t bothered to help or is just testing us, but rather something we all may be able to help others with in the future. No God means the possibility of less suffering in the future.”

    Good grief this woman is ignorant! She automatically assumes that God is the cause of all suffering and she assumes that suffering actually has some sort of “meaning” in an atheistic worldview.

  2. Rodibidably says:

    tshirtninja,
    I’ll get to your comments in a minute, but I think the first thing to mention is that Penn Jillette is a man.

    “So, anyone with a love for truth outside of herself has to start with no belief in God and then look for evidence of God.”

    Basically this is saying to accept atheistic materialism by the same blind faith on the very start of this journey. In order to be an atheist, you must positively believe that God does not exist.

    No, he is stating that the default position is one of skepticism, not of acceptance. If you start with a skeptical view of a subject (bigfoot, alien abductions, god, whatever) and are able to find evidence, then it’s fine to believe in that subject, but the default position should never be belief.

    “Not believing in God is easy — you can’t prove a negative, so there’s no work to do.”

    No work to do? Researching theistic arguments for God’s existence is work.

    Again, I think you’re misinterpriting what he is saying. You don’t believe in the Easter Bunny I assume? Or Ra, Thor, Zeus, the Flying Spaghetti Monster, or Lord Zenu, do you? Is “not believing” in those ideas “hard” for you?

    Well for an atheist, we go one god further than you. Now if evidence came to light that supported the idea of one of these gods, we’d have to evaluate that evidence, and perhaps if it was compelling enough we would change our minds, but as of yet, there is no good evidence.

    Perhaps YOU have some peice of evidence that I am unaware of, if so, I’d love you to share it so that I can understand your position a bit better, but without some type of evidence the arguments such as Pascal’s Wager are utter drivel.

    “I have love, blue skies, rainbows and Hallmark cards, and that has to be enough. It has to be enough, but it’s everything in the world and everything in the world is plenty for me.”

    What this lady has not considered is this question: ultimately, what does it all mean in an impersonal universe?

    Why do you need more meaning than “we are here, and we shoudl do what we can to make the world better for those we care about”? What is it about your life that is so meaningless that you have to find meaning outside of yourself?

    “Believing there’s no God means I can’t really be forgiven except by kindness and faulty memories. That’s good; it makes me want to be more thoughtful. I have to try to treat people right the first time around.”

    Christians also believe in treating people with kindness the first time around, too.

    As evidenced by the Inquisition? Or as evidenced by acceptance of slavery? Or as evidenced in the conflict between prodestants and catholics in Ireland that lasted for decades?
    Which one of these examples BEST shows this great kindness of christianity?

    “Believing there’s no God stops me from being solipsistic.”

    …and just how does theism = solipsism?

    I may be wrong, but I think in this case Penn is referring to the ideas of Zen or Dao, and saying that his lack of belief in god does not lead him down those paths, but down the path of “this world is all that exists, and therefor I should treat it as such”.
    But the statement is a bit unclear, so I’m not certain on this point.

    “Without God, we can agree on reality, and I can keep learning where I’m wrong.”

    If God exists, then this lady’s view on reality is already skewed by her imagining that He doesn’t exist.

    But that is quite a large “IF”. You seem to be a christian from your comments, if christianity is wrong, and Islam, or Scientology, or some other faith is correct, then all of your assumptions about the world are skewed.

    In this case, Penn is saying that based on the default position, and lack of evidence to contradict that position, that you can make a few statements about the nature of the universe, and life in that universe. Of course there is always the chance that he is wrong, but that is where the whole “and I can keep learning where I’m wrong” part comes into play.

    “I don’t travel in circles where people say, “I have faith, I believe this in my heart and nothing you can say or do can shake my faith.” ”

    Neither do intelligent Christians.

    Then I’d say that most of the christians on TV in the US are not, by your defintion “intelligent christians”.

    “Believing there is no God means the suffering I’ve seen in my family, and indeed all the suffering in the world, isn’t caused by an omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent force that isn’t bothered to help or is just testing us, but rather something we all may be able to help others with in the future. No God means the possibility of less suffering in the future.”

    Good grief this woman is ignorant! She automatically assumes that God is the cause of all suffering and she assumes that suffering actually has some sort of “meaning” in an atheistic worldview.

    I’m not sure how to explain this to you, but Penn is an atheist. That means that Penn does not believe god exists. If somebody does not believe that something exists, then one can NOT by defintion, Blame that thing for anything (such as suffering).

    You TOTALLY missed the point here, which is that if you do not believe that god exists, then the suffering that exists in the world OBVIOULSY is not caused by god. If suffering is not caused by god, then it must be defintion have OTHER causes. If one can find those causes, one can help to PREVENT suffering.

  3. tshirtninja says:

    “No, he is stating that the default position is one of skepticism, not of acceptance. If you start with a skeptical view of a subject (bigfoot, alien abductions, god, whatever) and are able to find evidence, then it’s fine to believe in that subject, but the default position should never be belief.”

    Starting with the belief that there is no God is not skepticism. Skepticism is more of an agnostic view of the topic at first.

    “Again, I think you’re misinterpriting what he is saying. You don’t believe in the Easter Bunny I assume? Or Ra, Thor, Zeus, the Flying Spaghetti Monster, or Lord Zenu, do you? Is “not believing” in those ideas “hard” for you?

    Well for an atheist, we go one god further than you. Now if evidence came to light that supported the idea of one of these gods, we’d have to evaluate that evidence, and perhaps if it was compelling enough we would change our minds, but as of yet, there is no good evidence.

    Perhaps YOU have some peice of evidence that I am unaware of, if so, I’d love you to share it so that I can understand your position a bit better, but without some type of evidence the arguments such as Pascal’s Wager are utter drivel.”

    As a Christian the historical evidence for Jesus Christ, his claims, etc. are great evidence.

    “Why do you need more meaning than “we are here, and we shoudl do what we can to make the world better for those we care about”? What is it about your life that is so meaningless that you have to find meaning outside of yourself?”

    The problem is that under atheism no one has any meaning whatsoever. They’re just “here.” Also, everyone dies as well. When that happens, all those good things they experienced in life and all the memories are instantly wiped away. Man is basically a machine in an atheistic worldview.

    “As evidenced by the Inquisition? Or as evidenced by acceptance of slavery? Or as evidenced in the conflict between prodestants and catholics in Ireland that lasted for decades?
    Which one of these examples BEST shows this great kindness of christianity?”

    Oh please. The atheistic regimes of the 20th century killed more people than all the religious wars of the past combined. And they weren’t even acting in hypocrisy since there’s no universal standard to really violate!

    “But that is quite a large “IF”. You seem to be a christian from your comments, if christianity is wrong, and Islam, or Scientology, or some other faith is correct, then all of your assumptions about the world are skewed.”

    I agree.

    ” Neither do intelligent Christians.

    Then I’d say that most of the christians on TV in the US are not, by your defintion “intelligent christians”.”

    I agree here as well. I think you should check out Christians such as N.T. Wright, Ben Witherington III, Norman Geisler, and Alvin Platinga.

    “If suffering is not caused by god, then it must be defintion have OTHER causes. If one can find those causes, one can help to PREVENT suffering.”

    Christians also believe in alleviating suffering. This stems from their belief in a compassionate God who teaches them to be the same way. The problem with atheism is that it gives no incentive to be that way. The atheists that choose to be that way don’t do it because something inherent within the atheistic worldview guides them to do it.

  4. Rodibidably says:

    Starting with the belief that there is no God is not skepticism. Skepticism is more of an agnostic view of the topic at first.

    So would the “correct” skeptical view of alien abductions also be agnosticism? Of course not, unless there is evidence. The correct default view of any extraordinary claim is, that without positive evidence FOR the claim, to be skeptical of the validity of the claim.
    Or do you take an agnostic position towards alien abductions, bigfoot, fairies, the flying spaghetti monster, etc?

    As a Christian the historical evidence for Jesus Christ, his claims, etc. are great evidence.

    First of all, I’d suggest checking NON-christian sources. There are NO accounts of the historicity of jesus (that have not been shown to be faked or likely to be fakes) other than religious ones from the time of his life or the period shortly after.
    But on a more direct point, there is also historical evidence for the existance of buddah, and mohammed. Both buddah and mohammed made various claims. Why are you NOT a biuddjist or muslim?

    The problem is that under atheism no one has any meaning whatsoever. They’re just “here.”

    There is plenty of meaning in life under an atheistic world view. Just because you have not studied atheism enough to understand that does not mean it does not exist. As an atheist myself I find plenty of meaning in my own life, and the lives of those I love and care for. However I don’t feel a need to comply with certain dictates written by bronze age mankind, or to live my life in a certain manner because some supernatural sky-man might get ticked at me for breaking rules written down in a book that condones slavery, genocide, racism, sexism, homophobia, and murder.

    Also, everyone dies as well. When that happens, all those good things they experienced in life and all the memories are instantly wiped away. Man is basically a machine in an atheistic worldview.

    Wow, you finally got something right. Man is nothing more than a machine. A ridiculously complex machine, but a machine none-the-less.
    And while MY memories may be gone after I die, if I have lived my life in the way I feel is best, then I wil;l have made an impact in the lives of others, and I will live on through them.

    Oh please. The atheistic regimes of the 20th century killed more people than all the religious wars of the past combined. And they weren’t even acting in hypocrisy since there’s no universal standard to really violate!

    I hope you’re not refering to Hitler and the Nazi’s. It’s been shown MANY times that Hitler believed in not just “god” as a concept, but specifically in jesus.
    As for communism, and Stalin, while it’s true that he was an atheist, it is well understood by historians that Stalin used communism AS the religion of the USSR. I’d suggest you look up details on this subject before spouting these ridiculous assertions that have been thoroughly debunked time and time again.
    It’s sad and pathetic when people use the same old tired arguments that have been shown many times to have no weight or validity.

    I agree.

    🙂

    I agree here as well. I think you should check out Christians such as N.T. Wright, Ben Witherington III, Norman Geisler, and Alvin Platinga.

    I’ll be glad to check into them. Perhaps they have some new arguments that have not been previously disproven.

    Christians also believe in alleviating suffering. This stems from their belief in a compassionate God who teaches them to be the same way.

    Check out Christopher Hitchens’ book “Missionary Position”. It does a great job of showing that “mother theresa” did nothing to help those who were suffering. As Hitchens puts it (this is a rough idea of what he said from my memory, not an exact quote) “she was not a friend of the poverty stricken, but a friend of poverty itself”. She alone is the single person more responsible for more death and suffering of any person in history (Hitler, Stalin, and Mao included). I’d really suggest checking out the book, it’s a VERY quick read, and gives great examples from a number of the nuns who worked directly with “mother theresa”.

    While this does not show that ALL christians are as callous as her, it shows that one person who is put up as a “shining example” by a large group of christians, was in fact one of the worst people in history (even though she felt she felt that she was doing “god’s work”).

    The problem with atheism is that it gives no incentive to be that way. The atheists that choose to be that way don’t do it because something inherent within the atheistic worldview guides them to do it.

    Again, this shows your utter ignorance of the truth of atheism. I’d highly suggest checking out Dawkin’s book “The Selfish Gene”, where he clearly outlines why altruism is a natural result of atheism and evolution.

  5. tshirtninja says:

    “So would the “correct” skeptical view of alien abductions also be agnosticism? Of course not, unless there is evidence.”

    The thing is that I can pull that same trick on atheism. For instance, I am skeptical that life accidentally configured itself from non-living chemicals (abiogenesis). In your definition, the correct view would be for me not to believe it until someone provides extraordinary evidence (which no one does on that issue).

    “First of all, I’d suggest checking NON-christian sources.”

    Already did. Tacitus and Josephus are good (note, that quote from him is an interpolation, not a forgery).

    “There are NO accounts of the historicity of jesus (that have not been shown to be faked or likely to be fakes) other than religious ones from the time of his life or the period shortly after.”

    To begin with, what makes the religious accounts immediately non-historical? There other ancient accounts of people like Confucius that was written by his own disciples and yet very few scholars believe that Confucius did not exist. I know of no ancient historical scholar that honestly believes that Jesus did not exist.

    “There is plenty of meaning in life under an atheistic world view. Just because you have not studied atheism enough to understand that does not mean it does not exist.”

    I have studied atheist philosophy and it stinks to high heaven. I’ll ask this, why is the meaning you assign to your own life important?

    “And while MY memories may be gone after I die, if I have lived my life in the way I feel is best, then I wil;l have made an impact in the lives of others, and I will live on through them.”

    At least for a little while that would be the case. Soon those people die along with their memories and I doubt anyone would remember much of you within 100 years of your death.

    “I hope you’re not refering to Hitler and the Nazi’s. It’s been shown MANY times that Hitler believed in not just “god” as a concept, but specifically in jesus.”

    O RLY? Check these quotes out…

    “National Socialism and religion cannot exist together…. The heaviest blow that ever struck humanity was the coming of Christianity. Bolshevism is Christianity’s illegitimate child. Both are inventions of the Jew. The deliberate lie in the matter of religion was introduced into the world by Christianity…. Let it not be said that Christianity brought man the life of the soul, for that evolution was in the natural order of things.” (Hitler’s Secret Conversations 1941-1944 p 6 & 7)

    “Christianity is a rebellion against natural law, a protest against nature. Taken to its logical extreme, Christianity would mean the systematic cultivation of the human failure.” (p 43)

    “Kerrl, with noblest of intentions, wanted to attempt a synthesis between National Socialism and Christianity. I don’t believe the thing’s possible, and I see the obstacle in Christianity itself…. Pure Christianity– the Christianity of the catacombs– is concerned with translating Christian doctrine into facts. It leads quite simply to the annihilation of mankind. It is merely whole-hearted Bolshevism, under a tinsel of metaphysics.” (p 119 & 120)

    Sorry dude, your “Hitler was a Christian” claim fails miserably. Looks like your anti-theism isn’t so different from Hitler’s after all!

    “As for communism, and Stalin, while it’s true that he was an atheist, it is well understood by historians that Stalin used communism AS the religion of the USSR. I’d suggest you look up details on this subject before spouting these ridiculous assertions that have been thoroughly debunked time and time again.”

    Guess what? Communism is an atheistic worldview! Stalin was very proud of the state’s “godlessness.”

    Check out Christopher Hitchens’ book “Missionary Position”.

    Hitchens is a first class MORON. What he doesn’t take into account is that missionaries are often the first to speak up when other foreigners treat native peoples harmfully, the amount of care given to the poor by missionaries, the amount of people rescued from slavery by missionaries, and all the good things done. What he tends to do is make a mountain out of a molehill by focusing on the few missionaries who have done bad things in history.

  6. jar says:

    I don’t have a problem with someone being atheist. After all, that is a reasonable position until presented with convincing evidence.

    So the question is, if an atheist is presented with convincing evidence would they change their position on belief in a God?

    That is not asking if they would worship that God, but would they acknowledge the Gods existence.

  7. Rodibidably says:

    The thing is that I can pull that same trick on atheism. For instance, I am skeptical that life accidentally configured itself from non-living chemicals (abiogenesis).

    You are confusing atheism (lack of belief in a god) with the origins of life.
    The two are not the same thing, as the fact that many theists would also agree that life began through abiogenesis and has evolved to the point where we see it today.

    If you want to argue against evolution, or the origins of life, we can do that, but to claim that anything you have to say on that subject relates as an argument against atheism is purely ignorant.

    To help you out a bit
    Atheism = NOT beleving in god, nothing more and nothing less
    Abiogenesis = The study of the orgins of life on this planet
    Evolution = a process of changes in populations over time

    I know when you have your head in the sand trying to ignore all facts that don’t fit in with your world view that it’s easy to confuse topics such as these, so I’m trying my best ot give you hand where you CLEARLY need one.

    In your definition, the correct view would be for me not to believe it until someone provides extraordinary evidence (which no one does on that issue).

    Yes, that is correct. The default position should be to NOT accept it without evidence.

    Where you are mistaken is in your vbelief that there is no evidence. I understand that you’ve lived your life trying to ignore all evidence that does not comply with your world view, but I’d really suggest you look into some of it. Not only might you learn something new, but you might also be able ot make reasonable arguments in the future as well. It’s much more fun and enlightening to argue when you have a handle on the facts.
    I’d suggest checking out a few book on the subject, so you’re able to participate intelligently in a debate on the subject.

    Already did. Tacitus and Josephus are good (note, that quote from him is an interpolation, not a forgery).

    Tacitus does mention the christians after the death of jesus, but at least as I know, he doe not mention jesus himself, only the followers (since he is writting 30 or more years AFTER the crusifiction).
    Also, check out what Wiki has to say on the subject of Tacitus: “Some people have suggested that this passage could be a later addition by Christian scribes,[4] No early Christian writers refer to Tacitus even when discussing the subject of Nero and Christian persecution”

    I’d say at the VERY least, the authenticity is in doubt. Not quite what I’d call “good” evidence.

    As for Josephus, I’m frankly SHOCKED, you’d even mention it: “The authenticity of the Testimonium Flavianum has been disputed since the 17th century, and by the mid 18th century the consensus view was that it was a forgery. This conclusion was questioned in the 20th century and the intellectual controversy will probably never be resolved.”
    Even the catholic church does not attempt to use Josephus as a source anymore, and they are the ones who propped up his work for centuries (and probably actually “created” it as well).

    To begin with, what makes the religious accounts immediately non-historical? There other ancient accounts of people like Confucius that was written by his own disciples and yet very few scholars believe that Confucius did not exist. I know of no ancient historical scholar that honestly believes that Jesus did not exist.

    There are plenty of scolarly works that question the historicity of jesus. For instance, check out the Wiki article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jesus_myth_hypothesis

    But even if you accept that jesus was a real person, and lived roughly 2000 years ago, how does that make his religion TRUE? Bothj mohammed and buddah were REAL people, and if you accept christianity, you abviously are rejecting buddhism and islam. So what point did you think you were making by mentioning that jesus was a real person? Even l ron hubbard is a real person, that doesn’t mean scientology is anything other than a scam.

    I have studied atheist philosophy and it stinks to high heaven. I’ll ask this, why is the meaning you assign to your own life important?

    I’m unsure what you mean here. Why is the meaning I assign to my life important to me, important to those I love, important to others in my life, or important to some random person on the internet who wants to debate theology?

    At least for a little while that would be the case. Soon those people die along with their memories and I doubt anyone would remember much of you within 100 years of your death.

    Ok, and? I’m not living my life to be remembered eternally. I’m living my life to make the lives of those I care about better.

    I fail to see what you’re getting at here. If somebody is not remembered, are you claiming there life was wasted? How many people will remember you in 100 years? How many people today remember your great grandfather? How many people can name Abraham Lincoln’s youngest child, and ANYTHING about that child, other than who the parents were?

    Some people are remembered by history, and the overwhelming majority are not. What’s your point? How does this prove or disprove anything, or even make any sense in an argument on theology?
    Obviously you have some obsession with living on eternally, that does not make it so. I’d like the Atlanta Braves to win the World Series before John Smoltz retires, but it doesn’t seem like that’s likely to happen.

    O RLY? Check these quotes out…

    WOW, you can quote mine. Congradulations.
    Hitler was no fan of the organized religions of the world, but he most certainly believed in god, and beleived that he was chosen by god to begin the 1000 year’s reign of the german people.
    As with everything else you’ve spouted, I’m going to suggest you read before posting. At this point I could basically just say “read before posting” on ANYTHING you type, and it would be a valid response. I’m almost wondering if you’re just trying ot paradoy an ignorant believer with your utter lack of facts on every subject you’ve tried to bring up.

    Sorry dude, your “Hitler was a Christian” claim fails miserably. Looks like your anti-theism isn’t so different from Hitler’s after all!

    I did not claim hitler was a christian, and if you read before replying, you’d know that. I claimed hitler beleived in god, and was obsessed with jesus. If hitler did not think jesus was in some way “special” there woudl be no reason that he should have gone after the spear that cut jesus’s side while he was on the cross, and yet there is OVERWHELMING evidence, that he was obsessed with it: http://web.org.uk/picasso/spear.html
    And of course you feel the need ot compare me to hitler, how original, no theist has ever done that when faced with somebody they disagree with.

    If you’d like to look inot the evidence for Hitler’s theistic views and debate the actual information available, I’d be more than happy, but I’m not going to waste my time spoon feeding you the evidence, when you can find it on google yourself. Read up and then we can debate that actual facts, not your fantasy that you wish was true.

    Guess what? Communism is an atheistic worldview! Stalin was very proud of the state’s “godlessness.”

    Yes communism is. However Stalin was also a brutal dictator who specifically used the goverment as a religion in itself. Again, I’m going to tell you to READ THE FACTS before spouting nonsense.

    Hitchens is a first class MORON. What he doesn’t take into account is that missionaries are often the first to speak up when other foreigners treat native peoples harmfully, the amount of care given to the poor by missionaries, the amount of people rescued from slavery by missionaries, and all the good things done. What he tends to do is make a mountain out of a molehill by focusing on the few missionaries who have done bad things in history.

    While I disagree with Hitchens on a number of things myself, I fail to see how he could EVER be concidered unintelligent or a “moron”.

    I agree many missionaries do much good, but this book is about one SPECIFIC missionary, with evidence from hger fellow nuns.
    If you’re going ot debate that this book is wrong, you’re going to be calling those nuns liars, so I’d suggest to you ONE AGAIN, READ then debate.

    Your utter lack of anything even resembling an intelligent argument is almost humorous, if it was not so dangerous.

  8. Rodibidably says:

    jar,

    So the question is, if an atheist is presented with convincing evidence would they change their position on belief in a God?

    I can’t speak for ALL athesits, but as for myself, if the evidence was strong enough, I’d have to follow where it lead.

    I would contend though, that with any subject, the more extraordinary the claim, the more extraoridinary the evidence must be to support it.
    For instance, if you tell me that you ate a bowl of cereal, and I see a bowl with a few bran flakes and some milk in the bootom, I’m almost certainly going to believe you.
    Now if you tell me that the cereal allows you to see through walls, and you then tell me that there is a certain book in the next room, my first thought is going to be that you looked in that room previously, not that you can really see through walls.

    For any extraordinary claim, the evidence needs to be just as extraoridinary, and must be unequivical, and not able to be interprited in anopther manner that woudl not lead towars such a claim (i.e. if you show me a “bigfoot corpse”, it m,ust be proven to not be a costume or some other animal, before I will accept that it is in fact “bigfoot”.

  9. jar says:

    Of course the evience would have to be strong.

    Please remember that it is only the CCOI that has a problem with atheism. Biblically, the lesson is that it is fine to doubt, even to doubt in God or Jesus until presented with overwhelming evidence.

  10. Rodibidably says:

    jar,
    Unfortunatly as people like tshirtninja show all too well, some people see doubt as a dangerous thing, when it is their beliefs being doubted…

    IMO doubt is ALWAYS the best first option. Doubt the goverment. Doubt commericials. Doubt religions and religious claims. Doubt science. Doubt EVERYTHING.

    Until the evidence supports the claim, you must always doubt.

    Then, and only then, when the evidence is in, you can look at how extraordinary the claim is based on what is currently known, can you determine if the evidence is good enough to make the claim plausible.

  11. jar says:

    Does the blog support quoting and if so, what is the code, blockquote?

    Sure many people fear doubt and much of religion trains people to avoid doubt. But that is NOT supported by either the Bible or the lessons Jesus taught. It is simply a cheap easy parody of Christianity.

  12. Rodibidably says:

    jar,

    Does the blog support quoting and if so, what is the code, blockquote?

    BLOCKQUOTE and /BLOCKQUOTE within HTML type tags.

    Sure many people fear doubt and much of religion trains people to avoid doubt. But that is NOT supported by either the Bible or the lessons Jesus taught.

    I’m not sure I agree with this statement. The old testament story of Abraham and Issac shows blind faith as a virtue, and the new testament story of doubting thomas shows Thomas’ doubt as a bad thing (jesus says to him something along the lines of “how much better for those who have not seen and yet still believe”.
    Yes there are sections that can be shown to profess doubt as a good thing, but as with most things in the bible, you can find passages that contradict with little effort.

    As for other religions, in islam is it acceptable to kill those who doubt allah. Not exactly a bastion of tolerance for doubt.

    It is simply a cheap easy parody of Christianity.

    Unfortunatly it is self professed “christians” doing the parody of your interpritation of your religion.

  13. jar says:

    I’m not sure I agree with this statement. The old testament story of Abraham and Issac shows blind faith as a virtue, and the new testament story of doubting thomas shows Thomas’ doubt as a bad thing (jesus says to him something along the lines of “how much better for those who have not seen and yet still believe”.

    Maybe you should go back and reread those passages. The story of Abraham is not a matter of Blind Faith, in the story Abraham has direct communication from God.

    If you are to learn the meaning of stories you need to enter into them within the terms of the tale. The story needs to be treated just as you would Jack and the Bean Stalk and learn the lesson from the story.

    The same is true of the story of Thomas. Jesus does not tell Thomas he should just believe, he says “Come here, stick your hands in the hole…”

    Yes there are sections that can be shown to profess doubt as a good thing, but as with most things in the bible, you can find passages that contradict with little effort.

    As for other religions, in islam is it acceptable to kill those who doubt allah. Not exactly a bastion of tolerance for doubt.

    Nonsense. Sorry but that is NOT true.

    Yes there are sections that can be shown to profess doubt as a good thing, but as with most things in the bible, you can find passages that contradict with little effort.

    Sure. The Bible (and there is not even really “The Bible”) is not one book but rather an anthology of anthologies, written by untold and unknown people, redacted and edited, translated, revised and even expanded. There are not even common uniform Canons.

    The Bible is filled with contradictions from the very beginning. One of the important questions that need to be asked is why the redactors included the parts they did and in particular why they included the two creation myths and even reversed the order with the Younger myth coming first?

    Unfortunatly it is self professed “christians” doing the parody of your interpritation of your religion.

    Sure. They like a safe and easy little religion that makes no demands on them.

  14. Rodibidably says:

    Maybe you should go back and reread those passages. The story of Abraham is not a matter of Blind Faith, in the story Abraham has direct communication from God.

    In the story of Abraham the blind faith comes not from not having contact with god, but being told to kill his own child with no reason or explanation.

    In some of the replies here, and on other forums where I posted the following questions I go further into this issue…
    https://potomac9499.wordpress.com/2008/08/31/a-question-for-believers-are-there-any-limits-to-your-faith/

    Needless to say IMO, Abraham had blind faith, not in following god’s will, but in the act of being willing to kill his child with no reason given.

    The same is true of the story of Thomas. Jesus does not tell Thomas he should just believe, he says “Come here, stick your hands in the hole…”

    In this story, the faith is not Thomas’, but in those of the “others” that jesus refers to. I forget the exact quote off-hand, but jesus says to thomas (something along the lines of): Thomas it is great that you now believe, but how much greater for those who have not seen, and yet still believe.

    In this passage jesus CLEARLY says that to believe without seeing the wounds is virtuous.

    Nonsense. Sorry but that is NOT true.

    I’m curious what you think is not true. The bible contradicting itself, or some sects of islam killing those who doubt allah?
    Perhaps you’ve not read the bible clearly, the first two chapters contradict each other in the ORDER of creation (one has man then animals, the other has animals then man).
    Or perhaps you’ve not heard of Salman Rushdie and others who have been threatened with death (or killed) for being apostates.

    Either way, I’m curious where you think I’ve made a mistake.

    The Bible is filled with contradictions from the very beginning

    Based on this, I’ll guess that for my last comment you mean that I was wrong in my characterization of Islam. Please explain where I was wrong, and keep Salman Rushdie and the following in mind: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apostasy_in_Islam
    In Islamic law (sharia), the consensus view is that a male apostate must be put to death unless he suffers from a mental disorder or converted under duress, for example, due to an imminent danger of being killed. A female apostate must be either executed, according to Shafi’i, Maliki, and Hanbali schools of Sunni Islamic jurisprudence (fiqh), or imprisoned until she reverts to Islam as advocated by the Sunni Hanafi school and by Shi’a scholars.

    Sure. The Bible (and there is not even really “The Bible”) is not one book but rather an anthology of anthologies, written by untold and unknown people, redacted and edited, translated, revised and even expanded. There are not even common uniform Canons.

    I’m glad to see we can agree on some things…

    One of the important questions that need to be asked is why the redactors included the parts they did and in particular why they included the two creation myths and even reversed the order with the Younger myth coming first?

    IMO this is not the most important question, but it is certainly a question that may lead in the correct direction.
    I would personally start with how can we know that the bible (or ANY book) is “true”. What other sources does it get it’s information from. What other sources confirm it? What evidence backs up the claims it makes? Etc…

    But towards your question, the stories chosen, and the versions of those stories that were chosen is a very interesting topic, and one which many fascinating books have been written. I’ve read a few of them, and each author I’ve read seems to have a vastly different interpretation, so I’m not sure myself, but it’s certainly an interesting topic.

    Sure. They like a safe and easy little religion that makes no demands on them.

    I’d argue that it’s not so much as making few demands on them, as it is most people like to be part of a small “in-group”. The mentality of “us vs them” is a very strong motivator that can bring people together in VERY tight knit groups.

    And the feeling of superiority over others gives people a feeling of satisfaction (I’m going to heaven because jesus loves me, and those not in my group are sinners and will burn for eternity). It’s foolish to underestimate the power of that message on the psychology of people.

  15. Pingback: My 11 favorite people in the skeptical community « Rodibidably

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