Lost two friends this week… this atheism lark is getting lonely….

Mar 11, 2013

Discussion by: Disco Dan
A friend of mine saw a post on my Facebook page about Religion/Morals – long story short we had a ‘discussion’ with her basically saying “prove my religion is immoral, bad etc”. Cue about 5 quotes from her bible, the usual stuff… “if your wife talks back, kill her” etc etc and she replied “get a life and blocked me”. I guess the truth hurts…

Another friend of mine this one I have know since I was about 16 years old found out I am an Atheist and has not returned my calls/messages in weeks. She is a Catholic. 
Already lost my ex and mother of my son because she could not accept my Atheism. 
All I do is stand my ground and back up what I say (when asked or challenged) and they stop talking to me. 
I don’t have many friends anyway as I am not terribly social and have always worked odd hours but it is getting pretty lonely now…

53 comments on “Lost two friends this week… this atheism lark is getting lonely….

  • 1
    QuestioningKat says:

    Hey Dan, I hear you. People ditch people for lots of reasons and people think people have ditched them when they really have not. Amazingly, they will weave elaborate stories about how YOU ditched them. Strange but true. Since you need to deal with some of them in the future, find a way to get along even if it is just for your kid. Being less sociable is a difficult situation (I completely understand) but what we really need to do is break out of our shell and start finding a community of our own. I feel as if I’m in a similar situation. I know I need to rebuild a solid group of people that I call friends or “family” but at times people tick me off. All the irrational perceptions, biases, demanding my attention… frankly, I like my own company. Yet, a balance is needed.

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  • 2
    GentlemanX says:

    That says more about those people than you, don’t sweat it. Now, if you are being antagonistic in any way you should expect some resentment. That goes with the territory. I know it’s difficult to understand people who are clinging to irrational beliefs, but if you don’t want to lose friends, you have to walk a careful line between sincerely expressing your disagreements with said religion and being disrespectful toward the beliefs of others.

    Carl Sagan walked this line well – I would recommend The Variaties of Scientific Experience to see how he phrased his doubts.

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  • 4
    BornAfterTV says:

    Why are you unhappy about not having contact with people that clearly have little morals themselves? Try new things and get out. Depending where you are of course there must be ways for you to mingle.

    Id like to finish by stating that I’d rather remain on the side of rationality and have no one than live deluded and have people around me that claim to be friends.

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  • 5
    Michael Fisher says:

    Hi DD

    Assuming your ex has custody… I hope access to your son is without too much grief

    Are you USA?

    BTW it’s “atheist” [small a] 🙂

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  • 7
    Disco Dan says:

    In reply to #4 by BornAfterTV:

    Why are you unhappy about not having contact with people that clearly have little morals themselves? Try new things and get out. Depending where you are of course there must be ways for you to mingle.

    Id like to finish by stating that I’d rather remain on the side of rationality and have no one than live deluded and have people around me that claim to be friends.

    Nice way of putting it, thank you.

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  • How are you?

    My non-belief is based on reason. I do not see my goal as confronting believers. I avoid uber religious people because I see them as being unreasonable. If someone starts preaching religion at me I knock it on the head straight away by telling them I am not religious and I don’t wish to be. Basically I have no time for fantasists or bullshitters. My non-belief is secondary to me really , reason is my number one goal. The idea of atheism as a hobby does not appeal to me. For example I find the idea of atheist churches as awful.

    I don’t know you , if you are being overly confrontational you could reign it in. You could look at why your an atheist , you could read about what atheism means to other people , try to find some measured non confrontational sources , Atheism, to me at least, can be flippant and an act of juvenile rebellion and ironically pompous , forget about throwing meaningless terms around like the flying spaghetti monster.

    Good luck

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  • Dan, some of them, maybe only one or two, but some will come back to you eventually at least that’s been my experience. Of course, it’s just an opinion.

    Same thing happened to me when people found out about my atheism. After a few months one or two tried to break the ice. The thing is, if you were a good friend, it is /their/ loss too and after a little time the mature friends will understand what it actually means to be a friend.

    In the meantime, don’t you have some raping and pillaging to do? :-j

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  • 10
    whiteraven says:

    It is hard to find oneself in the situation where the isolation you’re experiencing because of your ideas turns into rejection and a more pronounced sense of loneliness. It is a little hard to understand why you have been so blindsided by it; more understandable if your beliefs have changed since you first established those relationships.

    I don’t think we have nearly as good a sense of how deep the bigotry toward atheism is, it’s generally not out in the open. People talk about sports and the weather because it is safer than religion and politics. If we don’t expose our beliefs, we can risk not driving off incompatible people soon enough.

    I think the openly expressed and socially accepted prejudice, hatred and violence that groups like blacks, gays, lesbians experienced for so long made them wiser and more cautious about exposing or drawing attention to themselves in unsafe ways. Think back to when it was an act of real courage for gays to come out of the closet. Perhaps atheists, especially ones who have been sort of “in the closet” and not already part of a more secular social group, should take a lesson from how other persecuted minorities have dealt with things.

    You’ve brought to mind one of the first things about sailing I learned by oral tradition. It is easier to forget it ashore but just as dangerous … the title of this book: One Hand for Yourself, One for the Ship: The Essentials of Single Handed Sailing by Tristan Jones.

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  • I certainly feel for you. You have remained strong in the face of rather low attempts at emotional blackmail… “believe what I do or I won’t talk to you!”. This is not strength on the theists part, rather a confession of the abject weakness of their contentions, they would rather eject you from their lives than be faced with a contrary opinion they might have a hard time refuting or might put a dent in their peace of mind or force them to use a brain cell or two (heaven forfend!).

    It is ironic that jesus could apparently sit down with tax collectors and prostitutes but the people you described turn their collective noses up at a single atheist. These people are wilfully ignorant, their whole world view is based upon the monstrous arrogance that faith (which is not evidence, rather the substitution of emotion for evidence) is a superior means of discerning truth than getting of their lazy gluteus maximii to find out. Faith is just a pretencious way of saying their subjective feelings… I can think of nothing more arrogant upon which to base ones philosophy and morality. A flawed, limited human being pronounces god exists and which version of him is the correct one before metaphoricall throwing their hands in the air and ejaculating, “I am not qualified to decide right and wrong and must leave it to god!”.

    I deeply resent the fact I am obliged to share a planet with these pricks.

    Noted a couple of replies counciled that your basically keep quite about your athesim. Very much in two minds about that, avoiding confrontation is all very well but theists, especially Christians are compelled by scripture to preach the word and have had few difficulties cramming their collective sickness down the throats of others. One also wonders if the people you describe would accept you as an atheist regardless of how deferential your were.

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  • 12
    ArmchairCat says:

    I’m really sorry to hear that, Dan. If all you’re doing is replying honestly and neutrally to others’ questions, it’s just plain tragic to lose friends because of it. I’m sure they all had plenty of nice qualities, to have become your friends in the first place; however, things like ignoring calls and Facebook blocking sure seem awfully petty, though I’m sad to point it out. Maybe these folks can realize that you’re still the same person they were friends with before, regardless of your theistic belief status or otherwise. If not, I hope you can find new folks to become friends with who’ll be a little more reasonable and humane.

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  • 14
    tymecortalis says:

    In reply to #4 by BornAfterTV:

    Why are you unhappy about not having contact with people that clearly have little morals themselves? Try new things and get out. Depending where you are of course there must be ways for you to mingle.

    Id like to finish by stating that I’d rather remain on the side of rationality and have no one than live deluded and have people around me that claim to be friends.

    So true, BornAfterTV.
    After I left the Jehovah’s Witnesses because of a new-found disbelief, I realized that all those people I had called “brothers” and “sisters” for twenty three years were everything but friends. Being shunned by people you’ve loved and held dear hurts, but as you’ve stated I, too, would “rather remain on the side of rationality and have no one than live deluded and have people around me that claim to be friends.”
    Christian love is “agape” love. It is not real love, in the human sense. They love you as long as you are part of their culture. Once you leave, their love turns to venom.

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  • Hei Dan!

    The rejection sure hurts. You can try to be less confrontational while staying true to yourself. The situation you described, it was destined to cause offence. Maybe in the future you could use slightly different approach, something along the lines of christian ‘hate the sin love the sinner’.

    First tell your friends that you like them and think they are wonderful (if it’s true of-course) and that you appreciate the conversation. Make a clear distinction that there are some ideas that you find worrisome. Aknowledge and tell this is really special to have deep discussions on such sensitive topics and you are aware things could get heated but in the end it’s the friendship and people that matter.

    This is generally how I manage my relationship with my christian friend and we both love our spirited discussions.

    Hope you have better luck in the future!

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  • 17
    Alan4discussion says:

    That’s a feature of the dogmatic religions with indoctrination in bigotry! Reasoning does not come into it! There is only their dogmatic view and the wrong one! You will have noticed that Catholics in particular, refer to Catholicism as “religion”,(or “Christianity”) NOT “a religion”.

    Priests regularly (from pure ignorance and bigotry) preach that atheists are evil and a corrupting influence – while sheeples uncritically soak this up, stroking their egos with superior airs as they do so.

    Hypocrisy does not register on their brains – as can be seen from the discussions of covered-up priest paedophilia. They are all sinners, – but can quickly do a token penance and a moral re-set, with the slate wiped clean and confidential absolution from responsibility!

    Reasoning people are a serious threat to contorted Catholic fumble-thinking, so they will be encouraged to distance themselves from rational thinkers who cannot simply be spoon-fed dogmas.

    As long as their minds are slaves to their priests, the poisonous attitudes will be regularly fed into them – projecting the evils of Catholicism on to others in a reversed format. (This can be seen when offenders play the victims of “persecution” by those “nasty people” making allegations!)

    In their vocabulary “love” is just another word for hatred of dissenting thought, with “faith-thinking” a process of concocting rationalisations to give credibility to preached nonsense and bigotry.

    Have a look at my post 3 on Catholic “reasoning, ethics, and scientific evidence”, on this discussion:- http://www.www.richarddawkins.net/discussions/2013/2/14/advocating-a-naturalistic-view-in-a-catholic-ethics-class#

    You seem to need some more rational new friends.

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  • 18
    The Unicorn Delusion says:

    Dan, can yo go a little deeper into what happened? Are you in a very religious part of the world? What were the events that lead to you losing the mother of your son, was it a gradual thing? What was her criticism against your atheism?

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  • 19
    CPT Jack Wigal says:

    @ Disco Dan

    I dropped Facebook about four years ago for similar reasons that you have expressed here. Doing so did me no end of good.

    I agree with other posters here: these people were not your friends. If they choose not to associate with you any longer because of their irrational beliefs, then that is their problem, not yours.

    I’m not terribly social either. I have found in life, however, if you find one or two really close friends who do not give a crap what you do or do not believe, who just enjoy your company and who you can mutually trust, you are really lucky.

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  • 20
    Thinks4Herself2013 says:

    Hi Dan, I’ve gone through the same type of painful thing, and it smarts! My experience is that most came back around and have accepted me, despite the fact that I believe in things based on evidence and they do not. In fact, a couple of people came out of the woodwork, so to speak, and felt the same way and a couple have new-found respect for me. With others, we had to agree to disagree and to set ground rules about what topics to avoid. As things washed out, it was actually a mixed bag, but at the time I “came out,” it was painful as I’m not a person who’d ever “rocked the boat” in any sense of the word, and I was both shocked and hurt to be treated like a criminal thug simply for disagreeing with the “believers.” Anyway, I’m not able to offer much in the way of comfort other than to say that I’ve experienced the same thing, it got better, and at least they all know now. Oh, and to point out some huge upsides to this shunning by the religious (just a few things):

    Curiosity, personal growth: Isolation/loneliness means having ample opportunity to sort things out and do a lot of thinking, reading, analyzing, learning, self-improvement, etc.

    Better use of one’s time: Atheists do not remain dormantly cloaked in a religious bubble, memorizing, justifying, and cherry picking scripture that usually doesn’t make a whole lot of sense in the first place or has been proven to be false. Talk about a waste of one’s time and energy!

    Amusement factor: Yes, there are many, but just one to consider is which religion should be chosen? For me, I have Catholic, Mormon, nondenominational Christian, fundamentalist, Seventh-Day Adventist, one Wiccan, and some “spiritual” relatives, too. The fundamentalists say the Catholics are all hell bound, the Catholics are all using birth control and defying his “holiness” in Vatican City, the Wiccan is constantly explaining herself, and the Mormons are busy “secretly” baptizing everyone else. It’s actually quite comical!

    Better principles in life: Not following a religion, contributing to the collection plate or offering verbal or other support, means not enabling and or consenting to said organization when they forbid condoms in AIDS-stricken parts of the world or in regions where parents can’t afford one child, let alone 12, who all live brief lives of extreme misery. It also means not having to rationalize or compartmentalize being part of an organization that systematically raped little boys/girls. It means actually being able to embrace all people, including gay people, rather than talking out of both sides of one’s face or shunning them altogether. It means not lending support to an organization that promotes misogyny.

    Increased honesty: Being an atheist means never having to play “The Emperor’s New Clothes.” An all-powerful, all-loving god cannot be both of those things, or either one of those, when one simply observes the massive lifestyle disparities on the planet that are not based on good or bad behaviors, horrendous and sickening crimes against innocent children, and extreme suffering by animals. The world simply doesn’t match up to the hype or claims. It doesn’t operate in the way it should if they’re correct in their assertions.

    Less denialism (really part of increased honesty): Simply put, past claims made by religious-minded people have been shown to be incorrect time and time again, gradually being discarded by society. For one thing, epilepsy is not a demonic possession. And, this knowledge trend line only continues, resulting in less and less value or correctness in the claims of ancient religious texts and/or beliefs. Only through denial of the obvious, can anyone follow those “holy” books and/or discard scientific advancements.

    Less self-centered egotistical snark: Just because the tornado missed their house, yet wiped out the rest of the homes on their street, including the one two doors down, from which an innocent baby was found dead in a nearby field, claiming god loves you and that you are special is absolutely revolting.

    Proactive lifestyle: Speaking of mega storms, when the storm or extreme heat wave comes, the reality-based person at least recognizes what it is, has not denied global climate change, and probably has a plan in place, while the believer will be whimpering underneath their bed, sobbing, “Why me Lord?!” An atheist knows that if they survive the tornado, it wasn’t because a god loves them; it was probably a combination of luck and/or thoughtful actions.

    Ability to identify a fable: Yes, people cannot survive inside of giant fish, just as they don’t have magic beans and beanstalks either.

    Fewer regrets: Ultimately, when people have been asked on their death beds in studies, etc., what is their greatest regret now that all their pages have been written, and there’s no reason to not be absolutely truthful–they overwhelmingly stated they wished they had been true to themselves. They knuckled under to the will of other people and lived according to other people’s beliefs. An atheist can at least know that he/she was, in a sense, a trail blazer rather than a follower of the herd.

    Anyway, just my thoughts that help me that I hope you don’t mind me sharing. In the end, I guess I cannot force myself to adopt their superstitious beliefs, and if it means I have fewer friends or must seek out like-minded people, then I’m okay with that. I’ve developed coping strategies and focus on the positive aspects and am very relieved that I am able to find the courage and strength to go against the herd, which is not an easy thing to do at all.

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  • 21
    Lancshoop says:

    Being shunned merely for being an atheist is wrong, however if you published derogatory comments about religion and morals on your FB page then your conflict is understandable though I do not condone your friends reaction. Being theist or atheist, religious or non religious should not be an issue but when ‘anti’ comes into it from either side then that’s when problems arise. Of course some people actually thrive on it but looking at the responses you’ve had so far if everyone adopted Mira’s stance, the world would be a much better place.
    I’ll leave you to decide whose response typifies the attitude and helps perpetuate and augment conflict. !

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  • Hi. I tried to find a video I saw on Youtube by Qualia Soup / Theramin Trees. Unfortunately their output is quite large so i couldn’t find it again.

    If you get a chance take a look and see if you can find it. They do a lot of beautifully animated videos that often touch on the subject of religion and relationships.

    There is a very convincing argument given on one of them explaining why theists often have a strong negative reaction to finding out somebody is an atheist. It is because faith, lacking evidence is by nature fragile and to keep it going religious communities create mechanisms that will “protect” their sacred ideas from being questioned.
    To be in a discourse with anybody who does see the world as they do threatens the idea so they feel the need to cut off contact with those that might do so.
    Obviously not all theists are like this; but this mechanism explains what you are going through and why strongly religious communities go to even greater extremes to enforce one idea on everybody (ie violence)

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  • 26
    Nodhimmi says:

    “but at times people tick me off. All the irrational perceptions, biases, demanding my attention… frankly, I like my own company. Yet, a balance is needed.”

    Ditto- it’s an age thing, for me. After a lifetime of ‘accommodating’ those who choose to believe rubbish it gets too much and one must tell the truth.

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  • 27
    DocWebster says:

    There is no end to the grief a believer will visit upon you until you fall in line. My mother and I have been fighting a holding action for 30 odd years now over my becoming a Jehovah’s Witless, she’s aye, I’m nay. It was anger and pleading at first, then it turned to guilt, now it’s acceptance that she can’t get the job done with an occasional hit from left field to attempt to jostle my balance. I heard all the arguments about being mad at god or not wanting to face my sins and even my lack of gratitude for being born, nothing tops a true believer’s capacity for bullshit. Having a kid with a believer is the worst part, they’ll fight tooth and bloody nail to keep their hooks in a kid, lie about any and everything to keep the kid firmly planted in their fantasy world. If you get visitation, make sure you have a credible witness with you at all times and document everything. There was a recent case in my town where a father was fighting for custody because his ex was part of an congregation that shunned medicine. That female (Lady would be much too polite) accused the father of unspeakable acts committed with the daughter on visitations to get his parental rights revoked but his lawyer had been smart enough to assign a paralegal to chaperone each visit. That paralegal is a good friend of mine as far back as 8th grade and her family is an old and respected name in the community. The woman should have known her goose was cooked when her lawyer quit rather than try to impugn my friends good name in open court but her church hired another lawyer for her and they forged ahead. Now the lady has not only lost custody and all parental rights, everyone connected to her is party to a civil action brought by my friend. Her boss is content to bleed them of their money and sanity filing motion after motion, that woman is going to be getting served with papers till she’s old and gray.

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  • 28
    hans.bakker.7731 says:

    See my comments at “Advocating a Naturalistic View in a Catholic Ethics Class.” I think that it is not necessarily a sign of great wisdom to reject all religious institutions and all spiritual paths in the name of a scientific theory or in the name of “science” in general. I do not have the answers but I do know a little bit about the questions. As a sociologist I know that the history of the origins of science lies in the metaphysical speculations of earlier thinkers. It is easy to make fun of earlier mistakes made by theologians. But we often forget the mistakes made by natural scientists. Think of Isaac Newton’s ideas about alchemy or Johannes Kepler’s ideas about astrology. (Kepler may just have been trying to make a living, but for Newton it was dead serious.) The “truth” is not so easy to define, especially when it comes to the whole truth and nothing but the truth. The idea of atheism is that there is no “theos,” no “God.” But most atheists tend to ignore all of the possibilities concerning the definition of the concept of “God” (or whatever term one wants to use). Definitions change over time. God is not the same for Roman Catholics in the U.S. today than “it” or “she” was in the Middle Ages. (For sophisticated theologians God has no sexual identity or gender identity, of course.) remember, for example, that the term “evolution” means something quite different with the Modern Evolutionary Synthesis (MES) than it did when Erasmus Darwin wrote about it. There are no modern life scientists who take Charles Darwin at his word. The MES is Neo-Darwinian. Darwin did not know anything about DNA-RNA and many other things. Yet, we do not dismiss his fundamental and beautiful insights just because he himself did not know the whole truth. (He could also be critiqued for writing things that go beyond the criterion of “nothing but the truth,” especially in the first edition of the O of the S.) If we need to reject any thinker who did not get it 100% right then we would have to also reject Richard Dawkins himself. He gets a great deal right. But he also makes mistakes. He seems to not be willing to learn anything about theology or comparative religious studies, despite a Chair which is supposed to be used to explain ‘science” and not supposed to be used to advocate a metaphysical or theological position that in and of itself is far from “scientific.” Atheism does not explain why the Holocaust is a moral/ethical problem for anyone. The death of millions is not attributable to Darwinian thinking, but the mis-use of Darwinism (and Neo-Darwinism) by “Social Darwinists” (some of whom were fascists) cannot be explained away as nothing but bad science. Many Nazi scientists were very good scientists. (Many of them came to the U.S. after WWII and continued to do good science.) You have raised important questions. You might want to read Ernst Becker’s psycho-analytic book The Denial of Death. But it will not give you a great deal of comfort. I have struggled with this. I have not answers, really. But I do know the fundamental principle of good “natural philosophy” is to always continue to keep an open mind. My hero is Charles Sanders Peirce. Read his “A Guess at the Riddle.” He, too, is just guessing. But it definitely is a riddle that cannot simply be dismissed by dogmatic atheism, any more than it can be completely elucidated by any specific dogmatic theology. All religions and spiritual traditions are guesses at the Riddle of human existence. The key aspect of natural sciences (and life sciences) is to essentially drop the question of ultimate meaning in the Universe (even though it was important to Newton, Kepler, Darwin, Priestly, any many others). Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason discusses the necessity for scientists to not speculate about that which they cannot know. But that works both ways. I believe that dogmatic atheism and dogmatic theism are both “dogmatic” and not scientific. To criticize a dogma with another dogma may be reasonable metaphysics but it is not reasonable science. (Scientists can speculate all they want, but they should not confuse their speculations with the Truth.) I hope this helps a tiny little bit. Sincerely, Hans

    [Link to personal website & other personal information removed by moderator]

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  • 29
    nemeton says:

    I have made similar social mistakes in the past . I learned not to be quite so direct as it is seen as confrontational to those with a ‘simple’ faith and a lack of any wider education and worldview.
    A more assertive stand may help…
    After all, most people are quite frail and need their deity/religion. My wife used to light candles before her ceramic angels every morning and say words of adoration and ask for protection and guidance. I used to just make the tea. I say ‘used to’ because one day the angels said leave home and start a new life with a lover met over the Internet.
    Point is, people don’t want to be told there really isn’t anything out there listening and that their religion of love is also responsible for slaughter of anyone who disagreed with it.

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  • 30
    odalrich says:

    Good friends are those who respect and accept the way you are as much as you respect and accept the way they are. If you’ve lost them when they found out you were
    an Atheist is because they were the wrong people for you and you don’t need this kind of friends as they believe you’re inferior because they expect you to respect their ideas but they haven’t the least intention to respect yours. With friends like these who needs enemies. I’m sure you’ll be able to
    find better friends in the near future and perhaps with the same ideas as you. You can start again with new friends, new activities and new interests. Cheer up, man.

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  • 31
    TheAllKnowingAgnostic says:

    Hey there Hans, maybe you can help me understand something. I fail to see how asserting that something is obviously bullshit could be considered dogma. Richard Dawkins attacks believing without reason or evidence, believing in Dogma. His system of belief could be very simply summed up, something like ‘think for yourself, do not believe what you are told without first demanding evidence and looking at all the facts’ (I hope he doesn’t mind this assertion, purely my interpretation). This is not Dogma, this is the default position of any rational, intelligent human being who hasn’t been indoctrinated into believing blindly in one ‘ultimate truth’. There is no one system being proposed for us all to follow. Maybe I am just uneducated but when I look up the definition of dogma it seems innately opposed to anything that could be considered an ‘atheist perspective’, or to what I have heard and read from Dawkins. I find the idea of even an atheist perspective to be kind of absurd, never mind dogma. How can you be defined by what you don’t believe in?

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  • There is no one coming to save us from ourselves. I came here to tell you that no one is coming. We can find true friends nonetheless, and love, and family. But the experience of life with all its problems and limitations and loneliness and the reality of death has a beautiful side to it as well. To be responsible for awareness and choice (of everything) carries freedom that is worth all the effort. I’m so tuned into my mortality and short time here that it makes most days intensely beautiful, no time for complacency, and I have many fears and many problems. They will always be there and are getting progressively worse with age. Thing is, do I avoid my view of life by hoping or believing in ‘forever’ or ‘next’ or do I marvel at my statistically improbable existence? Do I worry about former friends who have dropped me (many have) because I refuse to be complicit to such nonsense as eternity in some form of awareness (no doubt, or what’s the point?). Not any more. This is such a great ride, this life, such an amazing thing. So stand your ground Dan, man-up to reality, rant and rave and cry and weep and sing and sweat and be lonely if it helps (its a choice), but in just two generations no one will know who you were anyway (and pretty much almost all of us), let alone 100 generations from now. Life is grand. No need to fiddle with those folks, they are just as frightened as the rest of us. Move on and chew it up, lots to see and do and learn. Best movie ever!

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  • 33
    Pythagoras says:

    It’s sad that people would rather treat their friends and family badly instead of thinking critically about their own beliefs.

    Hang in there Dan! There are plenty of friendly atheists out there and the Internet is a good place to find them.

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  • 34
    AThagoras says:

    It’s sad that people would rather treat their friends and family badly instead of thinking critically about their own beliefs.

    Hang in there Dan! There are plenty of friendly atheists out there and the Internet is a good place to find them.

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  • 35
    RationalConclusion says:

    Hi Dan. It sounds as though you’re better off without them. Personally speaking I know I’d rather be lonely than associate with those kinds of people. You don’t have to be lonely though. Just find the nearest atheist/humanist/secular group to you and join them. You’ll find plenty of people to socialise with who have been through similar circumstances and chances are they’ll make for far better friends.

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  • 36
    Alan4discussion says:

    hans.bakker.7731 – 29

    See my comments at “Advocating a Naturalistic View in a Catholic Ethics Class.”

    I answered those on that discussion.

    I think that it is not necessarily a sign of great wisdom to reject all religious institutions and all spiritual paths in the name of a scientific theory or in the name of “science” in general.

    That is a sweeping generalisation, but science can certainly debunk specific theist claims.

    As a sociologist I know that the history of the origins of science lies in the metaphysical speculations of earlier thinkers. It is easy to make fun of earlier mistakes made by theologians. But we often forget the mistakes made by natural scientists.

    Science dumps false ideas once they are refuted. Religions concoct contorted fallacies to defend theirs.

    The idea of atheism is that there is no “theos,” no “God.” But most atheists tend to ignore all of the possibilities concerning the definition of the concept of “God” (or whatever term one wants to use).

    Really??? You will find that numerous theologies and god-concepts are regularly debated on this site.

    Definitions change over time. God is not the same for Roman Catholics in the U.S. today than “it” or “she” was in the Middle Ages.

    Nor as it is or was for the numerous other gods which have been claimed past or present

    (For sophisticated theologians God has no sexual identity or gender identity, of course.)

    For sophisticated theologians vague shifting semantics and a lack of specifics is par for the course. -Often followed by – therefore biblical claims! (literal, metaphorical or ink-blot interpretations.)

    If we need to reject any thinker who did not get it 100% right then we would have to also reject Richard Dawkins himself. He gets a great deal right. But he also makes mistakes.

    Science corrects its mistakes once new confirmed evidence identifies them.

    He seems to not be willing to learn anything about theology or comparative religious studies,

    Really??? You have not read the books he has researched and written on those subjects?

    despite a Chair which is supposed to be used to explain ‘science” and not supposed to be used to advocate a metaphysical or theological position that in and of itself is far from “scientific.”

    Science refutes many theist false claims. – Especially where they intrude to damage scientific education.

    Atheism does not explain why the Holocaust is a moral/ethical problem for anyone.

    Atheism is the lack of belief in gods. Astronomy does not explain the holocaust either. That would be an ethics discussion.

    The death of millions is not attributable to Darwinian thinking, but the mis-use of Darwinism (and Neo-Darwinism) by “Social Darwinists” (some of whom were fascists) cannot be explained away as nothing but bad science.

    Many were Xtian Nazis led by the Catholic Hitler.

    Alt Text – German Christian Movement Badge.

    Alt Text – Hitler Youth Day Badge 1933 – The recent pope was a member!

    Many Nazi scientists were very good scientists.

    http://www.logicallyfallacious.com/index.php/logical-fallacies/153-reductio-ad-hitlerumHowever, this fallacy is becoming more well known, as is the fact that it is most often a desperate attempt to render the truth claim of the argument invalid out of lack of a good counter argument.

    I believe that dogmatic atheism and dogmatic theism are both “dogmatic” and not scientific.

    What on Earth is “dogmatic atheism” – beyond a reverse projection of dogmatic theism? Can you quote the “Atheist catechism”? I have never heard of it!

    (Scientists can speculate all they want, but they should not confuse their speculations with the Truth.) I hope this helps a tiny little bit.

    I think this is teaching granny how to suck eggs!!

    Scientists are very specific about distinguishing, scientific laws, scientific theories, hypotheses and speculations. It is theists who quote mythology. magical claims and unlikely speculations as “facts”!

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  • 37
    SaganTheCat says:

    Dear Disco Dan

    History is littered with cases such as this; the popular creation of the “wrong sort” followed by rejection when you’re discovered to be one of them.

    No way of telling why in each case, could be that they are just scared of what assosiation with you might lead to and it’s a bit sad but those people who reject you needn’t be mourned but at best pitied. thay may come back to you one day and you can sort things out but if they don’t you should remember they were probably brought up learning lessons about the right way to treat people. the good samaritan (a story jesus used to explain how you behave matters more than what you believe), the holocaust and how it happened and why it must never happen again. the crucifixion, a story where mob rule overcomes the rule of law to ensure a peaceful man is executed for blaspheme..

    in their own minds they already have the facts, even if many of them are based on mythical teachings, and have to handle the cognative dissonance of the voice telling them you are “bad” being the same one that says “love thy neighbour”. they have to justify their actions in their own minds and having listened to religoius believers do this they sound like petulant children failing to admit they made something big out of the fact things don’t go their way all the time.

    being the bigger man isn’t about the pride of doing the right thing, it’s about the sence of peace that comes from it. it’s ok to feel sad at their leaving, but just as important to be ready to understand how bad they must feel if/when they come back.

    my advice; forgive. turn the other cheek, don’t cross over the road if you see them in need and be prepared to slaughter the fattened calf if they come back because Bast knows christians don’t seem to be able to manage these things anymore

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  • 38
    Nordic11 says:

    Hey Dan,

    I just had to respond. I’m so sorry about these people ditching you; I really don’t understand it. I’m a dedicated Christian, but I have several athiest friends and acquaintances. Our beliefs just don’t come up that much. We end up talking about politics, our kids, the environment and whatever. We have so much in common that our disagreement about the athiest/Christian stuff means little in our day to day contact.

    I know we’ll probably never meet in person, but I just wanted you to know that if we do, count me in as one of your friends. I can never have enough of them. And shame on the people who ditched you regardless of who thye are and what they believe. They have no excuse to shun you like that!

    Cheers friend! I hope and pray that more good friends come your way soon!


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  • 39
    Tiktalik says:

    Hi Dan,
    Before becoming an atheist 10 years ago I had been heavily involved with the christian religion for 30 plus years and I went through the de-conversion agony to myself, so I have to say from personal experience of going it alone, that your reaching out for support is a good move.

    Reading through Thinks4Herself2013’s post I think she is spot on. Over the past 10 years since becoming an atheist I’ve gained an unquenchable passion for the sciences. I work for a large biological manufacturing company where the byproduct of my passions and rejuvenated curiosity have elevated my career and brought me into contact with world-class scientists. There are so many fun things to learn about in this universe that the religious will never understand, while you are free to find your passion where you can connect with like-minded people and forge real friendships.

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  • 40
    Disco Dan says:

    I compiled/wrote this a few years back when I concluded there is probably no god:

    Questions, comments and thoughts:

    A Few words on Atheism and its definition:
    • Atheism is not fundamentalism or limiting in any way. It is just the demand that extra-ordinary claims demand extra-ordinary evidence. If you told me it rained on your way to work, I might believe you on hearsay because it is a common and ordinary event. If you told me it rained and I could see clear blue sky, I might gather evidence by looking out the other window or seeing if your clothing is wet. Now if you tell me there is an invisible man in the sky who can read your mind and help you live forever if your good – I feel justified in demanding a bit more than word of mouth. It is not up to the listener to prove the statement wrong; it is up to the claimant to supply proof that it is right, and the more outlandish the claim, the more evidence needed to justify it.
    • I don’t need an argument against you religious views to justify my own.
    • Atheism is not an affirmation of belief, nor is it even the root source of any perspective on the world. Atheism is in itself a result of viewing the world in a rational manner. A ‘rationalist’ has no recourse to violence or extremist view.
    • It is my responsibility as a rational person to challenge and question something I see as irrational.
    • There is no evidence for fairies, ergo we can logically assume they don’t exist. There is no evidence for goblins, so it is reasonable to say they don’t exist. No-one has ever managed to provide any credible evidence for unicorns. The rationalist would conclude they, in all likelihood do not exist.

    Philosophical Thoughts:
    • You cannot prove the existence of something that does not exist, nor can you disprove something that does not exist. You can however prove something does exist – yet for 2000 years there has not been a single tiny shred of proof.
    • If this is the god you permit your mind to attach itself too, surely you must be prepared to question its existence and all of its foundations for yourself? Otherwise you may as well pick Horus from even further back in history. If you respect yourself you owe it to yourself to check on its validity – that it was not simply an accident of your geographical birth place.
    • Many great journalists and scientist have made the statement that religion poisons everything: It is the notion of unquestionable authority concocted by men long dead, over periods of history greater than many lifetimes as if some sky puppet were pulling the strings of it all. It is infantile to buy into such poppy-cock logic as if ones accident of birth formed ones personal belief and made it superior to other ‘geographical’ beliefs in some cosmic sky puppet war between good and evil bringing all the different belief systems to wage war with each other. The very idea that somehow, somewhere in amongst ALL the historical religious bunkum exists one superior and cosmic truism which has been clouded throughout history by evil alternatives being deliberately put on earth by anti-god sky puppets to mislead humans in every location and generation is pure refuse – and that the test be a fair one that they should somehow rise above and see absolute truth in spite of it all – is intellectual effluent.
    • You take the myth of Adam and Eve being the first parents of humanity literally yes? Do you realise Darwinian evolution, the fossil record and molecular biology confirms it as a MYTH?
    • Did Adam and Eve sin?
    They disobeyed God by eating from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil (Right and Wrong). So, yes… Right? Just one problem. How could Adam and Eve have been expected to comprehend the implications of their actions if, prior to their indiscretion, they had no concept of wrong, evil, punishment, suffering, pain, and death? Even if God had been successful in adequately explaining all of these concepts and the distinction between right and wrong to them beforehand, this means that he would have had to have given them knowledge of good and evil anyway, which turns this entire story into one big ridiculous farce.
    • Amputees – not a single case, ever of an amputee having an arm/leg grow back. Your bible claims prayer works, when the reason is just. Surely there would be at least ONE case – but there is not. Thus prayer must be false and not work.
    • Pray and it will be given. If say 50% of prayers are “answered” and the other 50% are put down to “gods will” – why bother to pray in the first place? He’s going to do what he wants anyway. In other words – he answers prayers not because you want them but because they fit with what he wants to do anyway! This removes any freewill and shows dictatorship bully boy traits on the part of the god. Again, why bother?

    Religion as a form of psychological abuse:
    • Hell is child abuse. Telling a child he/she was born in sin (which somehow magically passed down through generations) and will go to hell unless he/she becomes a Christian is child abuse. That is the church cutting you just to give you a plaster. The mere concept of a wrong doing (in itself subjective) being able to pass onto future generations is ridiculous and false. To punish every human for ever could not possibly be the work of a loving person/god – a vengeful, vindictive bully? Yes.
    • A sin can NOT be inherited
    I find it abhorrent that a new-born baby is considered to be dirty with sin. This makes a complete mockery of true morality, which requires both an understanding of right and wrong, and that individual’s wilful intention to do wrong, in order to determine immorality. Even our modest human justice system has the basic common sense not to prosecute minors for their ‘immoral’ actions, let alone for those of their ancestors.
    • A father demonstrating love by subjecting his son to death by torture to impress humans – as far from a loving god, deity etc. as you can possibly get.
    • This life is NOT a ‘vale of tears’ It makes me nauseous to think that children are being taught that the most important part of their life is auditioning for the next one. This is a truly poisonous concept that inevitably leads to the degradation of our current world as a transit life – a ‘vale of tears’ that we must ‘put up with’ momentarily until our ticket is clipped and we are rescued from this miserable existence of trial and temptation. In stark contrast, atheists in general believe this to be our one and only life, a view which, I can assure you, makes life precious beyond all value.

    Irrational thinking of the religious mind:
    • A boat sailing on the ocean sinks and the sailors manage to survive. People of ‘faith’ cry “god saved them, see he does love you!” – The rational atheist says “but he made the boat sink in the first place, what a cruel person. Why cut people just to give them a plaster?” Rational and logical thinking trump again.
    • A blood sacrifice can NOT ‘pay’ for a person’s sin. It is an archaic, deeply flawed view of morality that says that, as long as there is blood spilled to appease god (and innocent blood at that), and then the crime is forgiven. How can someone else pay for your sins? In what sense is morality and justice served if someone, say, offers to take the place of a condemned criminal in the electric chair? Does this change the fact that the criminal has not been held responsible for his actions? And how is the innocent death anything more than a sad, pointless waste that doesn’t add a grain to the overall moral equation? This is corrupt morality, removing responsibility from the sinner and causing a dangerous, volatile mind-set where anything goes as long as you repent before the buzzer (also known as the ‘miraculous death row conversion’). Blinded by the numbing repetition and familiarity of this salvation plan, Christians fail to see the stark depravity and poison that drips from it. Indeed, if this is not superstitious witchcraft, then I don’t know what is. (Well that’s not entirely true. These definitely are: Christian ‘spells’ cast through persuasive prayer, the macabre cannibalistic ‘ritual’ of communion, the truly frightening ‘possession’ that causes a person to speak in tongues…)
    • Religion is not justified at all. A better term for ‘faith’ is unreason. Having exhausted all possible reasonable excuses for belief, all that remains is the unreasonable or ‘faith’.
    • “Faith is the substance of things hoped for” or in other words – “wishful thinking is the substance of things hoped for”.
    • Professions of ‘faith’ consist of merely assuming what has to be proved. Thus a bold assertion is then followed with the words ‘for this reason’ as if all the logical work had been done by making the assertion.
    • Is god perfect? Well there could be arbitrarily three types of god:

    1) Inept/incompetent

    Any universe created by such a god would be so unlikely to produce any sort of universe; we can easily discount this one.

    2) Flawed
    That god could get some sort of universe going but it would be so untrustworthy that any sentient life that appeared in it – god would have to tamper with it to try to get it to work right. Such a universe would need regular tampering with, a creator fiddling with the very thing that he/she created, having to resort to dictating holy books, answering prayers, miracles and all manner of other sordid transcendental acts. Just so that such a god was not continually riddled with guilt for creating beings that were aware of just how egregious his/her work was. God would be like a kid with an ant farm, a monstrous abomination, chasing people he didn’t like around with a god-like magnifying glass. In a horse race of god’s, such a god would be an ‘also-ran’, not worthy of any positive note.
    3) Perfect god
    Being perfect, this god would only ever create a perfect universe. Such a universe would run perfectly right from the start and never need tampering with. Everything in it would be perfect and self-contained. Such a universe would never need tampering with. Everything in it would never need holy books, writing for its inhabitants or prayer answering or miracles. Everything would be natural. The earth would not be positioned where asteroids and comets would hit it (we lay in the belt), nor would it be on a billion or so year collision course with the sun. There would be other planets nearby that support life and the earth would not freeze every million or so years. Plus many more examples!

    • “I feel god’s presence”
    1) Muslims, Hindus, Christians, Jews etc. all claim to feel the presence of god. Your experience can be dismissed in exactly the same way you dismiss the experience of other religions. You have to prove that your particular god is real in order to prove the authenticity of your religious experience. Not the other way around.
    2) Knowing god exists has nothing to do with feeling his presence.
    3) How do you know, other than you’ve been told to interpret warm feelings this way, told what you’re experiencing is god. You don’t and wishing it were so does not make it true or verifiable.
    4) How can you be sure it is the Christian god?
    5) Describe the feeling then find a religious text that matches. If you can’t you have no reason to claim the feeling is your god. In fact theist texts clearly depict any feelings of god as wrathful, jealous and vindictive.

    • The 10 Commandments are redundant and meaningless.
    1) I am your god. – Well you would say that wouldn’t you.
    2) Don’t have any other gods. – see above.
    3) Don’t make idols. – see above. Possible competition.
    4) Don’t take my name in vain. – watch your lip!
    5) Keep the Sabbath – Spend at least 14% of your life reminding me how special I am, it’s all about me remember?
    None of the above has anything to do with how we should relate to each other. Although there is plenty of ammo to justify violence towards anyone who might think your god is, well a little bit up himself.
    6-10 Proscribe adultery, murder, theft, lying and envy – all of which is stating the bloody obvious to anyone who simply choose to live by the golden rule: do as you would be done by – so also redundant.
    The commandments add nothing to civilisation. But have accounted for millions of deaths defending numbers 1-5 against anyone rational who says your god might not be the only answer. So they do more harm than good – a net loss to society (inquisition, stoning’s, rape, murder, genocide, genital mutilation etc. throughout history committed by theists in name of their god).
    • A just, loving, and secure god would realise that simply not believing in him is NOT a crime worthy of hellfire. The Ten Commandments are woefully inadequate as a moral guide. The first four are blatant religious propaganda – basically a plug for the Hebrew God. The remaining six are dangerously held up as exhaustive and inspired by those who apparently haven’t read them. For example, one wonders how ‘lying’ and ‘envy’ make the big list of don’ts, but not rape, torture, child abuse, racism, slavery… And surely nobody still seriously believes that black and white moral guidelines are of much use in a greyscale world. “Thou shalt not kill” – but what about in genuine self-defence? “Thou shalt not bear false witness” – but what about lying to the Nazi officer who asks if you are hiding Jews? True morality requires judging each case on its own merits, not just overlaying the same clumsy morality stencil on everything. By labelling virtually every natural urge and function as a sin (from sexuality, to having negative feelings towards our enemies), the church ensures the lifelong dependency and commitment of its guilt-ridden, emotionally-crippled followers. 150 years ago: the abolition of slavery. 100 years ago: the emancipation of women. 50 years ago: inter-racial marriage. Today: same-sex relationships… Why is it that the church always has to be dragged kicking and screaming (by secular outrage) towards the tolerance and compassion that, ironically, it claims to hold a monopoly on?
    • don’t be afraid to question the Truth is never embarrassed by honest enquiry What if the greatest deception the devil ever played on man was to convince him to devote his time to mindless rituals, self-depreciation, and violent prejudices? Of course, I realise this is a ridiculous premise: ‘the devil’ is a construct of religion, not vice versa…
    Have you ever asked yourself this question? I mean seriously asked yourself? Pierre Charron once noted that we are baptised or circumcised a Christian or a Jew, long before we are even aware we are a human. Is it any wonder then that, through early indoctrination while the critical mind is still developing, we almost without exception go on to inherit the precise religion of our parents or surrounding culture? No, of course not – it’s only natural. But that doesn’t say much for the actual truth of that particular religion, does it?
    • Noah’s ark – with all the modern resources of our time we have yet to completely catalogue all of the millions of species on this planet and new species continue to be discovered and evolve. With all out modern methods of transport and bulk shipping, it must self-evidently be considered that we could not collect, transport and provide the husbandry, store (and keep fresh) eco-specific fodder or massive bulk of animal food obviously required. It would be impossible to provide for all and give the often unique habitat and environment for anything other than a tiny percentage of animal species. Not to mention the huge scale of boats required to get species from specific parts of the world where they live in isolation and exist nowhere else in the world. How could termites be housed in a wooden boat? Or the many insects that live for only a few days, some just hours? Specific host virus’ and other microbiology that requires no cross contamination? Now if the flood was saline, freshwater fish would need to be housed and if freshwater flood, salt water fish housed. Theists then claim further biblical stories based on this myth of the flood to be valid!

    • There are hundreds of contradictions in the bible, here is just the tip of the sinking iceburg:
    1) According to John, the wooden tablet on which the Judges set down the reasons for Jesus’ sentence – the titulus – is nailed to the wood of the cross, above Christ’ head. According to Luke, it hung around the neck of the condemned man. Mark remains vague and if we compare Mathew, Mark, Luke and John on this titulus, the writing on it says four different things. On the road to Golgotha, says John, Jesus bore the cross alone. Why then do the others add that Simon of Cyrene helped him?
    2) Depending on which gospel we consult, Jesus appeared after his death to a single person, to a handful, or to a group. And those appearances occur at different locations.
    3) Exchange between the condemned man and Pontius Pilate (Roman Governor). Apart from the fact that in such cases the interrogation is never undertaken by the great man but by his underlings, it is hard to envisage Pontius Pilate conversing with a Jesus who was not yet Christ nor what history would make of him – a planetary star. At the time Jesus would have been merely a common law defendant, like so many others in the jail cells. It is hardly probable that an exalted official would deign to talk with a petty jail bird. Moreover, Pontius Pilate spoke Latin and Jesus Aramaic. How could they have conversed as Johns gospel says they did, back and forth without an interpreter? Sheer myth.
    4) Pontius Pilate described in gospels as procurator – the title of which was not first used until the year 50 of our era!

    • Omnipotence, omniscience is mutually incompatible. If god is omniscient he must already know how he is going to intervene to change the course of history using his omnipotence. But that means he can’t change his mind about his intervention, which means he is not omnipotent!
    • He, who designs the game, dictates the possible moves – there are far too many negative moves in this game of life for any such deity to be loving and/or forgiving. These questions of morality show us that this creature would be dangerous to live under – if it existed.
    • Morality
    Contrary to what your church may have told you, atheists do not automatically turn to hedonism and anarchy. In fact, those who suggest that a man must be ethically restrained by a religion reveal, quite frankly, just how deep-seated their own morals are. It is an easy target for the church to blame society’s ills on man’s inevitable shelving of the god myth. But the fact remains that there is a fraction of the immorality now than there was when the church had complete, unchallenged influence over every aspect of society. This was a time of Crusades, Inquisitions, and witch- and heretic-burnings. It was a period known as the Dark Ages, and that they truly were – both morally and intellectually.
    • Creation: Most people think that you need a god to explain the existence of the world. They point to the complexity and order of the universe as sure proof that it was designed by a conscious entity, but stop one step short of reaching the glaring conclusion to their logic. Such an intelligent designer, one might well presume, would have to be fairly complex and ordered itself, wouldn’t it? Perhaps even more so than the universe? So then what created god? It is a giant leap from “We can’t yet explain every aspect of the natural world” to “God did it.” To rid us of a natural difficulty, the theist has invented a supernatural one.
    • God-of-the-gaps: We once believed that thunder and lightning was god getting angry. Of course, now we have a scientific explanation for this phenomenon, it would be hard to find anyone who still believes this. Religion is a crutch left over from man’s pre-scientific youth and, like a child with a security blanket, our continued reliance on it for emotional support is unhealthy and detrimental to our growth. As the ground illuminated by science advances, this god-of-the-gaps of human knowledge will continue to retreat with the shadows. You only have to look to the mistaken assumptions of your religious ancestors for a glimpse of the future of your god. In the meantime, the atheist is not so intellectually promiscuous as to jump at a supernatural explanation just so that we can have an answer, any answer, right now. Don’t take your minister’s word for it don’t even take my word for it Look it up for yourself: Take Matthew 1:22-3. Ask yourself: Was he telling the truth when he said that Christ’s virgin birth had fulfilled a prophesy (Isaiah 7:14)? Look it up. Read the context around it. Judge for yourself. Wasn’t Isaiah actually claiming that the baby would be a sign that a planned siege on Jerusalem during a civil war would fail? In fact, doesn’t the prophet then go on and try to fulfil his own prophesy at Isaiah 8?!
    • Let me tell you about Mithra… Mithra was a Persian/Indian god of the 6th century BC. Apparently, he was born of a virgin on December 25th (as were the gods Osiris, Horus, Marduk, Sol, Saturn, and Apollo), a birth witnessed by shepherds, and by gift-bearing Magi who had followed a falling star. He became known as the Light / Good Shepherd / Son of God, and was said to be able to raise the dead, cast out devils, and cure the blind, lame, and sick. Like the god Attis, Mithra was sacrificed at the spring equinox (Easter, or ‘Eostre’, being the ancient goddess of spring), rose up after three days, and ascended to paradise (a Persian word). Prior to this, Mithra celebrated a Last Supper with his 12 disciples (representing the 12 signs of the zodiac). In memory of this, his followers would ‘eat’ their god in the form of wafers and bread (like the followers of Osiris, Adonis, and Dionysus) – bread marked with the cross, a symbol borrowed from another god, Tammuz. Mithra’s worshippers also believed there would be a ‘day of judgment’ when sinners and the ‘unbaptised’ would be dragged down to darkness… Sound familiar? Christianity is simply a mish-mash, hand-me-down, patchwork quilt of all the most memorable elements of a thousand different ‘pagan’ religions that came before it.
    • Born of a virgin: As we have seen, the virgin birth story is neither unique nor original to Christianity. Traditionally, a claim of virgin birth was a way of conveying the authenticity and importance of a god (and sometimes even mortals, such as Julius Caesar) to a largely uneducated audience.
    • December 25th: This date marks the winter solstice in the Northern Hemisphere – the turning point of winter as the days start to get longer again. Long before Christianity, sun god worshippers set aside this day to celebrate the beauty of nature with the return or ‘birth’ of the sun. With the obvious symbolism for the pagans, it is easy to see why many virgin-born saviour gods were said to have been born on December 25th in the hope of winning credulous and superstitious converts. It was in 350AD that Pope Julius I ‘set’ Christ’s birthday to keep up this long tradition.

    • So what does the Bible tell us?
    • Who should we kill? – Homosexuals (Lev.20:13, Rom.1:26-32) – Adulterers (Lev.20:10, Deut.22:22) – Disobedient children (Deut.21:20-21, Lev.20:9, Exod.21:15) – Women who are not virgins on their wedding night (Deut.22:13-21) – All non-Christians (parable told by Christ – Luke.19:27) – Those accused of wickedness by at least two people (Deut.17:2-7) – Anyone who works on the Sabbath (Exod.35:2-3, Num.15:32-6) (not even to kindle a fire, and no exclusion for ambulance drivers)
    • Women – It is “shameful” for a woman to speak in church (1Cor.14:34-5) – A man must OK his wife’s words if they are to have force (Num.30:8) – A woman must not teach or hold authority over a man (1Tim.2:12) – Lot saves the messengers from the men of Sodom by offering up his virgin daughters to “do to them as you please” (Gen.19:8) – “Kill every woman who has slept with a man, but save for yourself every girl who has never slept with a man” (Moses – Num.31:17-8)
    • Slavery – God supports slavery (Lev.25:44-6, Exod.21:2-8, Eph.6:5, Col.3:22) – Instructions on how to sell your daughter as a slave (Exod.21:7-8) – When to give your slaves “severe” or “light” beatings (Luke.12:42-8) – OK to beat slaves only if they don’t die within 2 days (Exod.21:20-1) – How to mark your slave: drive an awl through its ear (Deut.15:17)
    • Marriage – It’s best if all people remain unmarried. Marriage is a lesser-of-two-evils compromise for Christians too weak to resist their sexual urges, “for it is better to marry than to burn.” (Paul – 1Cor.7:1-2, 8-9, 25-6, 38) – The rapist of an unwed woman must buy her and make her his wife (apparently a far more ‘holy’ union than a genuine, loving same-sex relationship – Deut.22:28-9)
    • Justice – If a man suspects his wife of cheating he can serve her a cursed drink; if she becomes deformed, then that proves her guilt (Num.5:12-31) – 42 children killed by bears for calling a prophet ‘baldy’ (2King.2:23-4) – OK to beat your children with a rod – it won’t kill them (Prov.23:13-4) – God commits, orders, or endorses every form of atrocity known to man (pretty much pick a page of the Old Testament at random)
    • Do the Old Testament laws still apply? – Every “jot” and “tittle” (Christ – Matt.5:17-9)
    • Christ, what a role model… – Christ tells us we must “hate” our entire family, and even our own life, if we want to be one of His disciples (Luke.14:26) – Those who abandon their families will be rewarded (Matt.19:29) – “For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother… And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household.” (Christ – Matt.10:35-6) – “I came not to send peace, but a sword” (Christ – Matt.10:34) – If you don’t have a sword, sell your clothes to buy one (Luke.22:36) – Curses fig tree for not bearing fruit in off-season (Mark.11:12-4, 20-1) – Didn’t want to help girl because she was a “dog” gentile (Matt.15:22-8)
    • Of course there are several good passages in the Bible, the ones that are carefully selected by your minister for Sunday readings. But (and pardon the analogy) if you find some chocolate in a pile of dung you don’t eat it, right? No. The good is tainted by the bad that surrounds it. “Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil? Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?” Epicurus (341-271 BC) “To assert that the earth revolves around the sun is as erroneous as to claim that Jesus was not born of a virgin.” Cardinal Bellarmine at Galileo’s trial, 1615 there is no such thing as second-hand revelation. The Bible is simply hearsay. “A casual stroll through the lunatic asylum shows that faith does not prove anything.” Nietzsche (1844-1900)
    • Christians dismiss 9,999 religions as false. Atheists dismiss just one more than that…
    How moral is the following:
    I am told of a human sacrifice that took place 2000 years ago, without my wishing it and in circumstances so ghastly that had I been present and in possession of any influence, I would have been duty bound to try and stop it. In consequence of this murder, my own manifold sins are forgiven and I may hope to enjoy everlasting love.
    Let us just for now overlook all the contradictions between the tellers of the original story and assume that is basically true. What are the further implications? They are not as reassuring as they look at first sight. For a start, and in order to gain the benefit of this wondrous offer, I have to accept that I am responsible for the flogging and mocking and crucifixion, in which I had no say and no part and agree that every time I decline this responsibility, or that I sin in word or deed, I am intensifying the agony of it. Furthermore, I am required to believe that the agony was necessary in order to compensate for an earlier crime in which I also had no part, the sin of Adam. It is useless to object that Adam seems to have been created with insatiable discontent and curiosity and then forbidden to slake it: all this was settled long before even Jesus himself was born. Thus my own guilt in the matter is deemed “original” and inescapable. However, I am still granted free will with which to reject the offer of vicarious redemption. Should I exercise this choice, however, I face an eternity of torture much more awful than anything endured at Calvary, or anything threatened to those who first heard the Ten Commandments.
    The tale is made no easier to follow by the necessary realization that Jesus both wished and needed to die and came to Jerusalem at Passover in order to do so, and that all who took part in his murder were unknowingly doing god’s will, and fulfilling ancient prophecies. (Absent the gnostic version, this makes it hopelessly odd that Judas, who allegedly performed the strangely redundant act of identifying a very well-known preacher to those who had been hunting for him, should suffer such opprobrium. Without him, there could have been no “Good Friday,” as the Christians naively call it even when they are not in a vengeful mood”.
    There is a charge (found in only one of the four gospels) that the Jews who condemned Jesus asked for his blood to be “on their heads” for future generations. This is not a problem that concerns only the Jews, or those Catholics who are worried by the history of Christian anti-Semitism. Suppose that the Jewish Sanhedrin had in fact made such a call, as Maimonides thought they had, and should have. How could that call possible be binding upon successor generations? Remember that the Vatican did not assert that is was some Jews who had killed Christ. It asserted that it was the Jews who had ordered his death, and that the Jewish people as a whole were the bearers of a collective responsibility. It seems bizarre that the church could not bring itself to drop the charge of generalized Jewish “deicide” until very recently. But the key to its reluctance is easy to find. If you once admit that the descendants of Jews are not implicated, it becomes very hard to argue that anyone else not there present was implicated, either. One rent in the fabric, as usual, threatens to tear the whole thing apart (or to make it into something simply man-made and woven, like the discredited Shroud of Turin). The collectivization of guilt, in short, is immoral in itself, as religion has been occasionally compelled to admit. – “God Is Not Great” Christopher Hitchens.

    Comments regarding the book “The Greatest Hoax on Earth”
    There is no scientific evidence for biblical creation. In fact, to believe that the universe is only 6000 years old and that every species was created by God at that time essentially as it is today, requires one to ignore most of what modern science tells us. It demands the rejection of the entire disciplines of cosmology, astronomy, nuclear physics, geology, paleontology, most of biology, and more specialized disciplines like dendrochronology, plate tectonics and evolutionary biology. These disciplines tell us that the universe is ancient and that the earth, at 4.6 billion years old, is only one third the age of the universe and was created by the aggregation of the heavy atoms formed in the cores of large stars that exploded as super novae. Geology and plate tectonics tell us both about the formation of land masses and their movement over billions of years. I would like to have a creationist explain to me their “science” supporting, for example, the formation of the Hawaiian island chain. Real science explains how these islands are the combined product of volcanic activity and movement of the Pacific plate over many millions of years. Real science tells us that radioactive decay rates provide sound methods of dating materials from rocks to biological samples. Dendrochronology is the science of tree ring dating, which has allowed the identification of tree trunks that are as old as 13,000 years.
    All this, and I haven’t even started on the mountain of evidence from a variety of disciplines supporting evolution. We have the fossil record, which combined with radiometric dating of the rock layers in which specific fossils are found, clearly shows a progression of life forms over hundreds of millions of years. We have the twin nested hierarchies of morphology and genomics that clearly demonstrate the relationship of every living species to every other species through common ancestry. We have a vast assortment of parasitic mobile DNA elements in our genomes (eg. endogenous retroviruses and LINE and SINE elements), which are constantly duplicating and inserting new copies of themselves into random sites in our genomes, sometimes interrupting genes and causing disease. Such elements today account for nearly 50% of the human genomic DNA complement–hardly something that shows the signs of a designer. We have developmental biology, which shows us the appearance and then disappearance of ancestral structures (eg. human embryonic tails). We have evolutionary atavisms, developmental throw-backs to earlier evolutionary states (eg. whales and dolphins with legs) that confirm what the other disciplines tell us. We have the mutational loss of genes that are no longer needed. For example, the nearly 1000 olfactory receptors used by land animals to smell chemicals in the air have all been mutated to non-functionality in whales and dolphins, because they have no need to detect chemicals in the air of the open ocean. Another example is the non-functional primate GULO gene, which in other animals is used to make vitamin C. Why does the remnant of this gene remain in our genomes? Is this a design error by God, or an indication of our evolutionary history as arboreal apes who obtained all the vitamin C they needed from fruit trees? We have the fusion of two ape chromosomes to form human chromosome 2, which explains why we have 23 pairs of chromosomes, one of which bears telomeric sequences in the middle (normally seen only at chromosome ends), whereas chimps, gorillas and orangutans have 24 pairs. The signs of our evolutionary history are plainly written in our DNA. No amount of creationist apologetics or pretenses to scientific thought will change the evidence.
    Do you need more? I’m just getting warmed up. There is no scientific debate regarding the fact of evolution. Pull your head out of the sand, read some real science by real scientists, and learn something about our objective reality.
    Whereas scientists select conclusions that are supported by the evidence, apologists do the opposite — they select evidence that supports their pre-formed conclusions. Unfortunately, in spite of his Ph.D. degree, Johnathan Sarfati falls into the latter category. This follows because as an employee of Creation Ministries International (CMI), Sarfati is obligated to follow a Statement of Faith that defines the constraints he must use when interpreting scientific evidence. I suggest readers examine the statement [[…]], one clause of which (D6) states in part: “By definition, no apparent, perceived or claimed evidence in any field, including history and chronology, can be valid if it contradicts the Scriptural record”. Consequently, Sarfati either has to reject the vast majority of scientific evidence that points to evolution and an old earth, or rely on fanciful re-interpretations to make evidence fit with his pre-formed conclusions. That is the very opposite of science. Sarfati will undoubtedly claim that scientists also hold strong opinions. They do. The difference is that scientists, unlike apologists, are free to change their conclusions if compelling new evidence is produced. Examples of such scientific turn-arounds include the eventual acceptance of plate tectonics, the bacterial cause of peptic ulcers, and the endosymbiotic origin of mitochondria and chloroplasts in eukaryotic cells. The operative word is compelling, and the overwhelming majority of scientists are still waiting for the proverbial rabbit fossil in the Precambrian, or any one of thousands of equivalents, before they change their minds about evolution.
    Having to put his own creative spin on scientific evidence so that it passes the CMI litmus test is bad enough, but it gets worse. The publisher, Creation Book Publishers, which is “committed to publishing books that promote a literal interpretation of the Book of Genesis” is owned and operated by CMI. That makes “The Greatest Hoax on Earth?” essentially a self-published book, and its authority should be judged accordingly. Also, a large proportion of the references Sarfati uses to support his interpretations are to CMI’s own website [[…]] and to CMI’s own publications – namely, the magazine Creation and the journal' J. Creation. The latter is claimed to be peer-reviewed, but the instructions to authors make it clear that papers "will be designed to support" CMI's Statement of Faith. That is hardly the equivalent of the critical scrutiny that peer-reviewed papers undergo in the academic world. So we have an author whose claims have to conform to the CMI statement of faith, and who has in effect self-published a book that uses asevidence’ publications that themselves have to support the CMI statement of faith. That adds up to the status of a church newsletter – the sort of book to be given away free at church picnics, which is probably why the publisher’s blurb says “Buy it in bulk and save!” It should not be confused with a serious work of science. After all, Sarfati devotes an entire chapter – “Nature red in tooth and claw” – where pain and suffering in animals, the origin of carnivory, poisons, and defense mechanisms, etc., are attributed to the unfalsifiable religious notion of the Fall.
    Anyone who has followed the claims of young earth creationists (YEC) will find much familiar material in this book. Many of the old talking points about a young earth are here, including Earth’s magnetic field decay, salt in the sea, polystrate fossils, helium in zircons, and comets — all of which have been refuted elsewhere. He even includes the botched radiometric dating of a recent Mt. St Helens lava sample in order to cast doubt on the K-Ar method, and he repeats the old story of Colin Patterson (a senior paleontologist at the British Museum) who supposedly claimed that there are no evolutionary transitions. Dr. Patterson’s own account in which he confirms that his statements were taken out of context makes interesting reading (see references in comments). Surely it is time to relegate all these to the “arguments creationists should not use” category.
    It is worth noting that Dawkins’ book is a work of popular science that includes a mere fraction of the available evidence for evolution and an ancient earth. For example, the biostratigraphy of microfossils is not mentioned, so Sarfati has been spared the task of explaining how similarly-sized microscopic foraminifera, for example, managed to arrange themselves in an evolutionary sequence during deposition in Noah’s flood. Dawkins does not discuss ice cores, so neither does Sarfati, yet cores from Greenland and the Antarctic date back many hundreds of thousands of years, complete with ash residues from known historic volcanic eruptions.
    On p72 Sarfati takes Dawkins to task for not knowing that land Galapagos iguanas apparently can interbreed with the marine iguana to form viable hybrids. Sarfati concludes “Naturally, Dawkins did not expect this because of his millions of years dogma, but it makes sense if the marine iguana diverged only in the last few thousand years”. Of course Sarfati has to say that because of his adherence to the Statement of Faith. But consider the information he does not divulge. He does not mention, for example, whether such hybridization occurs in the wild and whether the offspring are themselves fertile, so he is not interested in contributing to knowledge, just in casting doubt. Also. he does not mention that phylogenetic analysis puts the land/marine iguana split at about 10-20 million years ago — about the same as the split between horses and donkeys which readily form viable hybrids. Given that the present-day Galapagos islands are less than 1 million to 4 million years old, the split between land and marine iguanas probably occurred on older now eroded and submerged islands. The existence of a now-drowned Galapagos archipelago 14.5 Ma considerably increases speciation times for the island biota. In addition, the very fact that the Galapagos Islands constitute a volcanic island chain poses a severe problem for YECs. If the islands were really formed according to the fanciful catastrophic plate tectonic (CPT) scenario outlined on pages 177-180 they would each have essentially the same age, but they do not. This effect would be seen even more clearly in the 3000 mile long Hawaiian island chain, which was formed as the Pacific plate moved over the volcanic hot spot at a fixed rate. Consequently there is a linear relationship between the age of the islands and the distance to the hot spot which would not obtain with CPT. Interestingly, when Sarfati inserted himself into the comment section of David E. Levin’s review, he was repeatedly challenged to explain the formation of the Hawaiian island chain. Sarfati responded with a number of abusive comments, but he ducked the question, which reveals a lot about him.

    In Ch 13, Sarfati disagrees with much of Dawkins’ discussion about the design' of the vertebrate eye with its "backwards' wiring, and he introduces recent findings about glial cells that act as fiber optic light guides. Fine, but there is nothing to suggest that this is anything other than natural selection effecting an improvement that Dawkins likened to repair of the Hubble Space Telescope. A professional refutation of Sarfati's views on vertebrate eyes (see comments) agrees with this assessment.
    Finally, am I the only one who objects to the chess symbolism shown on the cover and 22 more times at the chapter heads? It shows the black king of
    Science’ triumphant over the fallen white king of `Evolution’. What nonsense! The white king should obviously be labeled YEC.
    After sophistically scribbling “Refuting Evolution” and “Refuting Evolution 2” – exemplars of evangelical scientific illiteracy – Sarfati futilely fulminates against Dawkins and Darwin in the deliciously deceptive “The Greatest Hoax on Earth? Refuting Dawkins on Evolution”.
    Since a chapter-by-chapter dismantling would be longer than Sarfati’s tendentious tract let’s examine chapters “11. Is the earth ancient” and “13. Origin of Life” (inconsistent typography from the book).
    Is the earth ancient? Yes the earth is ancient, immensely ancient, deep-time ancient, 4.54 billion years ancient as shown by Pb/Pb isochrons and other dating methods, but the author can’t deal with this scientifically since it falsifies his childish religious conceits and cherished creation myth as Sarfati demonstrates on page 186:
    “The same principle applies to the age of the earth. It makes more sense to trust an eyewitness who was there at the beginning: the Creator Himself, who has revealed the age in His Book, the Bible. And there were other eyewitnesses too, including Noah and his descendants who meticulously recorded the years elapsed since the global Flood.”
    “But Dawkins ignores this eyewitness information, and relies on dating methods that resort instead to speculative and dubious assumptions.­”
    ‘Creation science’ ala seance or special revelation hallucination is Sarfati’s literalist leitmotif. To pour 4.54 billion years into his 6,000 year old sack – of you know what – the author invokes “accelerated nuclear decay in the past – even though there is much uncertainty about what the mechanism was that caused this phenomenon” (longhand for ‘goddidit’). Let’s pretend (like Sarfati) and by divine fiat dictate “accelerated nuclear decay in the past” via RATE (“Radioisotopes and the Age of The Earth”, an a priori presuppositionalist creationist crank-tank publication) that Sarfati cribs from. What would have happened to Noah and his immediate surroundings?
    Noah would have died from radiation poisoning – along with his family and every animal on the ark – as the Potassium-40 and Carbon-14 in their bodies underwent accelerated beta decay – neatly solving the space, food and waste disposal problems inherent in Noah’s leaky tub.
    Earth, which includes various radioactive isotopes, would be heated to a temperature of over 22,000 degrees C – over four times that of the sun’s surface – instantly vaporizing the entire planet.
    Even the creationist-on-crack cretins who wrote the RATE Jesus-jibber Sarfati stumbles around admit these difficulties – they simply ‘magic’ them away with another round of miracles – say ‘God’ expanding the universe twenty-fold in size – conveniently ignoring that volumetric cooling, which works for gases, is not applicable to solids. Earth remains vapor, RATE remains scientifically vacuous, and Sarfati’s reasoning skills remain vapid.
    For reality-based accounts of scientific dating methods try The Age of Everything: How Science Explores the Past by Matthew Hedman or G. Brent Dalrymple’s The Age of the Earth and Ancient Earth, Ancient Skies: The Age of Earth and its Cosmic Surroundings.
    The origin of life chapter sets up a straw man by claiming “Darwinian processes can’t explain first life” (Pg. 223) – they were never intended to, mischaracterizes DNA as “Coded linguistic information” (Pg. 225) and throws cans of outmoded ‘primordial soup’ at the scientific discipline of abiogenesis which has developed startling insights into life’s origin.
    Deterministic paleo-geochemistry, not natural selection, harkens back to life’s rocky roots and Sarfati (trained as a chemist), should know this – although the only thing formulaic about him is febrile fundamentalism.
    Late Hadean to Early Archean alkaline hydrothermal vents (white smokers) directly result from plate tectonics, are always out of thermodynamic equilibrium with surrounding oceans (a condition required to push life’s precursors up the energetic ramp required by complex organic polymers like proteins, lipids, polysaccharides, RNA and DNA), provide a reliable supply of hydrogen which reacts with carbon dioxide to form organic molecules, develop exquisite patterns of interconnected mineralized cellular compartments (about the size of living cells) lined with iron-sulfur catalysts; which catalyze, capture and concentrate resultant organic molecules. These vents are essentially natural flow reactors, providing thermal and electrochemical gradients, while circulating reactive fluids through catalytic compartments. They can naturally (no “Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry” required) generate the raw materials of life, illuminate the origin of metabolism and account for the properties shared by extant life’s LUCA (Last Uniform Common Ancestor) – yet Sarfati never mentions them. Is he biblically-blinkered or committing another lie of omission for Jesus? Footnote 15 on page 228 demonstrates that Sarfati is, as usual, lying for his lord by leaving out evidence that eviscerates the need for supernatural spooks or saviors.
    Excellent books on abiogenesis are readily available at Amazon. Try Life Ascending: The Ten Great Inventions of Evolution by Nick Lane (specifically chapters 1 – 4), Genesis: The Scientific Quest for Life’s Origins by Robert Hazen, Singularities: Landmarks on the Pathways of Life by Christian de Duve, Emergence of Life on Earth: A Historical and Scientific Overview by Iris Fry, Wetware: A Computer in Every Living Cell by Dennis Bray or Complexity: A Guided Tour by Melanie Mitchell. Any of these authors pack more scientific information and intellectual honesty into a single paragraph than Sarfati crams into his scanty, screechy, screed.
    I’m affronted that Amazon’s rating system requires me to give even one star to this content-free concretion of creationist caterwauling and calumnies. It deserves zero. The copy I purchased will be donated to the NCSE (National Center for Science Education), where it can be utilized as a resource to keep track of the so-called tools being generated by creationist fools.
    It’s also pretty obvious that Sarfati believes himself to be very smart. This is, after all, why his book has a chess cover (because you see, chess = logic = smart), and he doesn’t stop giving chess examples and quotations throughout the book (most of them seem forced, as they don’t really relate to the subject). This is pretty childish. Mr. Sarfati, I bought this book to read your arguments against evolution, not about your wonderful chess accomplishments. For this I took off another 2 stars.
    The reviewers that voted this book 5 stars are also very telling of this book’s quality. A quote from one such reviewer:
    “[Dawkins’] major [strawman argument] entails confusing natural selection with evolution. They are not the same thing. A creature born with a serious defect due to a mutation might die before it reproduces; that is natural selection in operation, but this process of culling the genes of the dead creature it not creative; it is incapable of changing microbes into microbiologists.”
    So, respond to a supposed strawman with another strawman? Yes, these sorts of arguments are basically the best we can expect from Creationists, and the book itself is also full of them. Too bad Dawkins never said natural selection = evolution. It is simply one of many pieces of the puzzle. On a small scale natural selection is not creative, but over millions of years it forms the big picture and leads to species that have creatively adapted to their surroundings. Of course, if one genuinely believes the Earth was created 6000 years ago, then they will not be able to conceive of such long time periods, and will have their perspective limited to the past few millennia over which no noticeable evolution has occurred. Then they will conclude “evolution is a hoax.”
    Anyway, I am not going to write down and discuss every poorly-written logical fallacy and unrelated and incorrect “evidence” that Sarfati uses to “refute” Dawkins’ well-formed and articulated arguments. Suffice it to say that being good at chess does not make one good at science, or the understanding thereof.

    “I know they [other religions] are misguided. The founders of other religions rotted in their tombs, while the founder of Christianity rose from the dead.” -Dr. Jonathan D. Sarfati
    There it is, ladies and gentlemen. The sheer craziness of the man who wrote this sorry excuse of a book.

    A few quotes from some of the greatest minds of humankind:
    “The religion of one age is the literary entertainment of the next” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
    “Who but a slave thanks his master for what his master has decided to do without bother to consult him?” – Christopher Hitchens
    “Assuming that god can make us feel the presence of a non-existent entity, and further assuming that he need not go to this trouble if the same effect can be produced in us by the actual presence of that entity, god could still if he wished cause us to believe in the existence of stars without their being actually present. “Every effect which god causes through the mediation of a secondary cause he can produce immediately by himself”. However this does not mean that we must believe in anything absurd since “god cannot cause in us knowledge such that by it a thing is seen evidently to be present though it is absent, for that involves a contradiction”. – Ockham
    Nothing can be more contrary to religion and the clergy than reason and common sense. – Voltaire
    A man’s ethical behaviour should be based effectually on sympathy, education, and social ties; no religious basis is necessary. Man would indeed be in a poor way if he had to be restrained by fear of punishment and hope of reward after death. – Albert Einstein
    Life results from the non-random survival of randomly varying replicators. – Richard Dawkins
    You’re basically killing each other to see who’s got the better imaginary friend – Richard Jeni
    I doubt that religion can survive deep understanding. The shallows are its natural habitat. Cranks and fundamentalists are too often victimised as scapegoats for religion in general. It is only quite recently that Christianity reinvented itself in non-fundamentalist guise, and Islam has yet to do so (see Ibn Warraq’s excellent book, Why I am not a Muslim). Moonies and scientologists get a bad press, but they just haven’t been around as long as the accepted religions. Theology is a respectable discipline when it studies such subjects as moral philosophy, the psychology of religious belief and, above all, biblical history and literature. Like Bertie Wooster, my knowledge of the Bible is above average. I seem to know Ecclesiastes and the Song of Solomon almost by heart. I think that the Bible as literature should be a compulsory part of the national curriculum – you can’t understand English literature and culture without it. But insofar as theology studies the nature of the divine, it will earn the right to be taken seriously when it provides the slightest, smallest smidgen of a reason for believing in the existence of the divine. Meanwhile, we should devote as much time to studying serious theology as we devote to studying serious fairies and serious unicorns. – Richard Dawkins – The Independent, 23 December 1998
    The inspiration of the bible depends on the ignorance of the person who reads it. – Robert G. Ingersoll
    Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful. – Seneca the Younger
    Deaths in the Bible. God – 2,270,365 not including the victims of Noah’s flood, Sodom and Gomorrah, or the many plagues, famines, fiery serpents, etc. because no specific numbers were given. Satan – 10. – Unknown
    “Who but a slave thanks his master for what his master has decided to do without bother to consult him?” – Christopher Hitchens
    “Assuming that god can make us feel the presence of a non-existent entity, and further assuming that he need not go to this trouble if the same effect can be produced in us by the actual presence of that entity, god could still if he wished cause us to believe in the existence of stars without their being actually present. “Every effect which god causes through the mediation of a secondary cause he can produce immediately by himself”. However this does not mean that we must believe in anything absurd since “god cannot cause in us knowledge such that by it a thing is seen evidently to be present though it is absent, for that involves a contradiction”. – Ockham

    First of all, science never intended to deny your god or creation-myth in any way. That may come as a surprise but its true – because that’s not the way we roll and simply not the way science works.
    It is more or less a matter of collateral damage. Sometimes it happens and we all have deal with that in order to move on in life. Not everything stays afloat in the wake of human knowledge. In fact, most things don’t. With what we know right now it is safe to say it is very unlikely that your religion is the right one. Not because we want to, don’t like you or because we don’t respect your opinion – but because we see your god slowly sinking in the waves of reason.
    The only thing we do is inform you about the new things we have discovered. Without asking anything back. What you do with that information or what it tells you about your belief is up to you. Interesting to know and study but not our problem.
    Take the good advice for what it is … we are not the enemy. Facts overrule assumption; it is as simple as that.
    All the things we have discovered are telling us a different story from what any religion has told us. It doesn’t matter if we like it or agree with it, the outcome stays the same.
    It’s time for you to stop blaming us for correcting the mistakes that have been made. We can’t wish or pray dinosaurs and the Big Bang away anymore. That’s wacky. Even if we wanted to, it would be delusional for us to declare they never happened or existed. Because it would be based on opinion and not on facts.
    There is no need for a Shiva, Thor, Ganesha, God or Zeus in order to explain the world around us.
    For you to say that science is wrong about your seven day creation is to say that every step along the path that led us to where we are right now was wrong. A distorted point of view, to say the least, and an insult to the human intellect for sure.
    Every day science discovers something new that we didn’t know before. And by doing so improves our lives in many ways – without the need to believe in it in order to for it to work. You don’t have to pray to it, sing songs about it or go to a temple to pay your respects to it (though a simple thank you would be nice once in a while).
    You have every right not to agree with what we do. But it would make a lot more sense for you to take your arguments somewhere else. Take them to Marx, Sartre or Spinoza to name a few out of many, because they are your real enemies – instead of fighting it out with a little something we call … reality.
    We can’t change reality because it hurts your feelings or goes against the will of your god. Science is not a democracy. It is the understanding of the physical world around us.
    In the end I just don’t understand and I never will. Almost none of all the people that ever lived ever heard anything about your god. In time he is just a tiny spot on the map and one out of so many.
    Give yourself the freedom to doubt … because without doubt there is no choice. And having a choice is what makes us learn and move on in life. Don’t fill in the gaps with your imagination. Science is the accumulation and use of knowledge we humans have gathered in the time of our existence, brick by brick and little by little. Nothing more and nothing less. We go with the stuff that works and leave the rest behind. A matter of trial and error.
    The only way to keep on improving life for all of us is to keep god out of the equation. Because with god included it will fail, time and again.
    There is a perfect, benevolent omnipotent being. He loves us all, every one of us. He loves us so much that he sent his only son to suffer and die so that we could be saved from sin and from death. What a loving god he is. He made this world for us to live in, a world full of wonder and beauty. It is perfection, it must be, because he is perfect and loves us all.
    This perfect world contains suffering, so much suffering. That suffering must surely be good, part of his plan. Perhaps we need to suffer, to grow and develop as full people, so that we can be as perfect as him. Yes, that must be it. The world is perfect because it challenges us, makes us complete.
    There are miracles, which change the world. The perfect world. It’s changed by miracles. This is getting a bit confusing. Bear with me. Ah yes. Perhaps we make the world less perfect, because we do have free will. So, occasionally God steps in to adjust the world, to keep things on track after we have corrupted it. Yes, that must be it. The world is perfect, except for our influence, and then God keeps it on track with miracles to guide the faithful. This is the all-powerful and benevolent creator looking after us.
    Then there are saints. Saints are people who guide the way, who are examples to us all. When I was younger Christopher, patron saint of travellers help us find our way. Saint Christopher. I remember that name. Ah yes, he was a Saint who was dropped by the Vatican. Oh. Saints are supposed to intercede for us with God. Perhaps some other saints helped when Christopher was demoted. No, that wouldn’t work. Perhaps the saints realised we were mistaken from the start and so took the part of Saint Christopher. Yes, that must be it. We should pray to saints because even if they don’t exist, the prayers will get through. Yet another way the creator cares for us all.
    The Vatican supports science, and puts much effort into ensuring that someone deserves sainthood. There is rigorous research, and there must be evidence of miracles. Evidence of miracles. Scientific evidence of miracles. That must work like this: someone said that they were cured of a serious illness after praying to a saint. That sounds reasonable. All that needs to be shown is that there was a cure that can’t be explained by science. Wait a minute. I’m having trouble with this. Please be patient. The problem is that the Church says the supernatural is beyond science, but they are using scientific methods to try and show that there was a miracle. But they show a miracle through the inability of science to explain what happened. So they have a mystery, and because it’s a mystery, it must be a miracle. No, that can’t be right, can it? Because that would be a ‘miracle-of-the-gaps’, and putting God into gaps is not supposed to be good theology. I’m going to have to think about this.
    Let’s get back to the saints. They intercede for us with God. Pray to a saint and … no, wait a minute. That doesn’t seem right somehow. Does that mean that prayers not to a saint aren’t listened to? If they are, what is the point of the saint? What if the saint chooses not to listen – should we then try asking god instead? I’m confused even more.
    Saints must be good people when alive. They may even perform miracles when alive. Now hold on, what’s that all about? Aren’t miracles supposed to be god’s way of setting the world to rights and guiding us? So how do the saints get to choose when the magic works? Oh dear.
    I’m beggining to have problems. There is an all-powerful and benevolent god who nevertheless needs to tweak his creation to keep it on track, but he still loves us all and listens to our prayers, but then he sometimes ignores them unless we pray to saints, who we know are saints because the Vatican has used science to prove that because we have a mysterious cure the only explanation must the saint nagging a reluctant God into helping someone who is suffering, except for when we have got it wrong and made someone a saint who should not have been, when presumably a rota of stand-in saints who pick up the slack.
    Well, at least we can look to the historical lives of saints as examples for us all. Putting aside Saint Christopher, of course. Some of the achievement of the saints include developing injuries that remind us of being tortured on the cross, managing to be in two places at once, and levitation. Right. Self-harming, having a double, and flying. Examples for us all..
    I’m having a bit of trouble with this saint business.
    To summarise – looking upon scriptures, historical accounts and speaking to religious people with a rational and logical view; religion and any form of creator is doomed to the history books as yet another page of mythical delusion. Man has created many gods and many religions, each has been abandoned and/or dismissed as myth when either the people had died out/killed or new knowledge had rendered any such belief unfounded. The current gods that mankind believe in are no different – we cannot even agree on the same one yet alone which bits of each book to believe and follow.
    The way I see it is that there is so many religions in the world today and each one claims their god is the only one ‘true’ god and belief in any other is a ticket to ‘hell’. Yet each one is dependent on geographical locations – if you are born in America, chances are you will be brought up as a Christian, Iraq a Muslim and so on. I find it very hard to believe that a god so seemingly obsessed with being worshipped (see 10 commandments above) that it would even allow other religions to exist as well as fail to provide ANY single shred of evidence for its existence. So if each religion claims its one ‘true’ god is the only god you have just as much chance of going to hell as you would if you did not follow ANY religion and even less chance of going to heaven. Then to follow on this line of thinking I look at the scientific evidence for evolution (which is contradictory to the religious propaganda taught to children and adults in religious settings) and it is extraordinarily overwhelming and sinks the already sinking religious ice-burg.
    One last point that is important to add is that science is open to scrutiny – when a scientist theorises something new, other scientists repeat the experiment under the same conditions – testing it. It is peer reviewed and under

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  • 41
    Disco Dan says:

    A lot of that was actually taken from comments I found from this site! 🙂 Few years ago I researched and compiled this text, basically all the things that lead me to realise that there is no god….

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  • I can understand what you’re going through as I’ve had similar experiences whether with friends or family. Family is worse obviously, as they are the people you care about. It gets extremely tiring explaining to them and in most cases they cut off contact with you and I understand how painful it can be. I was brought up in a Muslim household so I understand what you must be dealing with. My point though, is whether they are family or “friends”, if they cant accept you because of your views on life, then I’m sorry to say that they aren’t worth speaking to. It will only end up in more complicated situations. That’s how I feel about it anyway. All the best and stay strong.

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  • 43
    Uriel-238 says:

    We atheists like our truth straight and bitter. For most, it’s an acquired taste.

    Do a search online for freethinker (humanist, atheist, choose-a-synonym) communities in your area and see if they have meet-ups. Take each day one at a time.

    Most people retain the religion (or lack thereof) they were raised with, so when censure the misdeeds of their churches, it is easy to interpret it as attacking them directly. My experience is that I can’t do that with someone unless our relationship (friendship, whatever) is strong enough to survive a disagreement. Of course, you can just find a social network and support system that shares your values.

    Canadian 2, try evilbible.com. Also the OCRT has an extensive section on the hard passages of the bible.

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  • 44
    logicophilosophicus says:

    “All I do is stand my ground and back up what I say (when asked or challenged) and they stop talking to me.”

    Actually, all you do is SAY things, then “stand my ground…” etc. I read your #40. If your FB stuff was a rant like that, then of course you would offend people. Your choice – was it worth it?

    There are absolutely no Christians who believe every word in the Bible literally – since they acknowledge (and, of course, explain away) obvious inconsistencies, for example. AFAIK there are absolutely no Christians who believe that men should be allowed to kill their wives, etc. If you say, “I insist that you literally endorse every sentence in this book you rely on, therefore you are evil and stupid,” you will lose friends. Did any/all of them say to you straight up that you must be evil and stupid?

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  • 45
    Alan4discussion says:

    In reply to #44 by logicophilosophicus:

    There are absolutely no Christians who believe every word in the Bible literally – since they acknowledge (and, of course, explain away) obvious inconsistencies,

    I think a little evidence would make this clearer! It seems some claim to take it literally, but it would appear that that is because they are too inept to understand what they are saying!


    Biblical literalism.
    A literalist position insists that every word must be taken as literally true and treats everything as either a historical document or literal prophecy. This, of course, has problems because of translation issues, but in practice it usually focuses on convenient and (relatively) modern translations such as with

    the King James Only movement.

    If your original Hebrew disagrees with my original King James — your original Hebrew is wrong. If your original Hebrew agrees with my original King James, your original Hebrew is right.

    Biblical literalists


    People who adhere to literalism do not question their religion, tending towards a simplistic acceptance of what they are told. Though frequently literalists claim to have read the Bible, upon questioning it is clear they have rarely thought through the various positions proffered in the Bible, including the myriad of inconsistencies or evidence that their God is capricious and violent. To hold such a position either requires an extremely low IQ or an overly developed reliance on cognitive dissonance.

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  • 46
    godsbuster says:

    Howdy DD,
    Welcome to the real side. Hoping not to appear harsh since you’re having enough rough of a time of it but your characterization of it as a “lark” I find worrisome. It suggests you might not be doing it right.

    If being vocal and sincere about what you’ve found to be true to you has a larky feel to it that might explain why the loss of the company of individuals who value their false beliefs over your true friendship weighs so heavily on you. It is clear that the only way these relationships could have been maintained is by suppressing in yourself
    something that has become essential to your core being – not adhering to and continuing to enable the following of obvious falsehoods as if they were true. Or has it become essential to your core being? Or is it just a lark?

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  • 47
    Nunbeliever says:

    Well. when I meet people I like but who have religious views I disagree with it helps to portray them as children in this regard. You don’t want to make a child unhappy or take away all their cherished beliefs if it’s not absolutely necessary. I really don’t think this analogy is all that wrong. Religious beliefs tend to have many similarities with beliefs children hold. They are naive and very self-centered. They are based almost entirely on emotional or wishful thinking or illogical reasoning. Hence, when you are arguing against a persons religious beliefs you are not really having a rational discussion. You are attacking an emotionally very important part of their identity. This is something I think many atheists do not fully realize, and I think we can avoid many (although not all) conflicts with religious people we like if treat their beliefs in this way.

    Or, in other words, treat your religious friends like they were children in this regard. I think that will help you in the future. Although don’t tell them that you treat them like children 😉

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  • 48
    logicophilosophicus says:

    I wasn’t going to waste time replying to #45 but I suppose anyone reading back will miss the point…

    Rationalwiki is an atheist site and a perfect example of the false arguments I noted in my third para in #44. These two quotes are from the Wikipedia (“Biblical Literalism” article) and bring out the point perfectly:

    Steve Falkenberg, professor of religious psychology at Eastern Kentucky University, observes:
    I’ve never met anyone who actually believes the Bible is literally true. I know a bunch of people who say they believe the Bible is literally true but nobody is actually a literalist. Taken literally, the Bible says the earth is flat and sitting on pillars and cannot move (Ps 93:1, Ps 96:10, 1 Sam 2:8, Job 9:6). It says that great sea monsters are set to guard the edge of the sea (Job 41, Ps 104:26). …

    Conrad Hyers, professor of comparative religion at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, Minnesota, criticizes Biblical literalism as:
    … a mentality [that] manifests itself [not] only in conservative churches, private-school enclaves, television programs of the evangelical right, and a considerable amount of Christian bookstore material; one often finds a literalist understanding of Bible and faith being assumed by those who have no religious inclinations, or who are avowedly antireligious in sentiment. Even in educated circles the possibility of more sophisticated theologies… is easily obscured by burning straw effigies of biblical literalism.

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  • 50
    Alan4discussion says:

    In reply to #48 by logicophilosophicus:


    People who adhere to literalism do not question their religion, tending towards a simplistic acceptance of what they are told. Though frequently literalists claim to have read the Bible, upon questioning it is clear they have rarely thought through the various positions proffered in the Bible, including the myriad of inconsistencies or evidence that their God is capricious and violent. To hold such a position either requires an extremely low IQ or an overly developed reliance on cognitive dissonance.

    I wasn’t going to waste time replying to #45 but I suppose anyone reading back will miss the point…

    Rationalwiki is an atheist site and a perfect example of the false arguments

    Through theist dissonance blinkers evidenced rational arguments ARE “false”! – to the viewer at least!
    (All those “phantom” Literalists, who visit this site and argue that the bible is a Troooooo history book – after uncritically swallowing other YEcreationist books which say so!)

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  • Rejection from the ignorant on your foundation of reason should not be regarded as a failure. You had the courage to do what most people like us cannot. If your personal belief (or lack their of) was the most decisive reason for those people to reject you, then they clearly missed out what really mattered. You are not alone… When they valued beliefs, you valued them. And you don’t need me to tell you that you are far more human than they are…

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  • 52
    Mr. Meredith says:

    I have recently gone through a “falling-out” with some friends as well. It happens, and the loneliness is difficult to deal with. That said, it is important to find the time to socialize and make new friends that you can relate to, for your own health. Standing up for what you believe in is crucial as well, and I think you made the right choice in doing so (although I agree with GentlemanX, you must tread carefully in regards to these situations). So, in short, I say to embrace this change, seize it as an opportunity to find new like-minded friends that are better suited for you anyway. Stay positive, and never regret sticking up for yourself.

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  • 53
    lucasabbo says:

    I am an atheist but got married in a church to a woman I love but she has a believe in a god I got challenged about getting married in a house of god my answer to this was simple its a building with my family and her family who got to witness my promise to my partner to be the best I can be to love support and hopefully not upset her to much .This happened 32 years ago we still disagree about God but never exclude anybody from your live just try to remember everybody is different and maybe say sorry I did not mean to offend you if you can talk to me perhaps I can talk to you .Best of luck

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