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Atheist Community of Austin
The "absent god" Clarke corollary

As an atheist I'm occasionally questioned by Christians, mostly, as to how I can not believe in Jesus and I've come up with this as a way of answering them. First I get them to concede that most gods throughout human history are fabrications of men and women for a myriad of reasons. These fictional gods are then buttressed by a religion that explains the god and his powers and his limitations, which include all manor of apologies for any of the god's apparent deficiencies. This includes apologies/dogma to cover even testing the god or trying to prove his existence. The religion, because the god is not real, has to set up rules for its followers to take care of all the business that the god needs done. Because the god is fictional anything that the god, or the religion, needs accomplished is taken care of by the followers. If the god needs money the people provide it. If the god needs to fight a war, the people in the religion must fight it. And, most importantly, because the god is, ultimately, fictional then the people of the religion must spread the word of the god because, of course, the god can't do it. Humans being imperfect do a really lousy job of spreading the word--witness the the thousands of "flavors" of Christianity. As Arthur C. Clarke said something like, "any civilization/technology sufficiently advanced is indistinguishable from magic" I therefore conclude, "any god sufficiently absent is indistinguishable from fiction" and simply apply this "rule" to Christianity. Who provides any moneys needed for churches? Who spreads the word about the religion? Who preaches each Sunday in churches around the world? Does god ever appear anywhere to anyone for ANY reason?

Apply this any god or gods and you universally get the conclusion that it's all indistinguishable from fiction.

ML: "Because the god is fictional anything that the god, or the religion, needs accomplished is taken care of by the followers. If the god needs money the people provide it. If the god needs to fight a war, the people in the religion must fight it. And, most importantly, because the god is, ultimately, fictional then the people of the religion must spread the word of the god because, of course, the god can't do it. Humans being imperfect do a really lousy job of spreading the word--witness the the thousands of "flavors" of Christianity. As Arthur C. Clarke said something like, "any civilization/technology sufficiently advanced is indistinguishable from magic" I therefore conclude, "any god sufficiently absent is indistinguishable from fiction" and simply apply this "rule" to Christianity. Who provides any moneys needed for churches? Who spreads the word about the religion? Who preaches each Sunday in churches around the world? Does god ever appear anywhere to anyone for ANY reason?"

Mark,

You are exactly right. You described exactly how God works - through the hearts of people who believe in Him. There is nothing mysterious in actual events - people giving money to churches, or people traveling to Haiti to build infrastructure, shelter, schools, and hospitals, people helping widows and orphans. What or who motivates these people is the key. Some people do not have much money, and yet, give to the church. Many billionaires and celebrities donate millions to charities and advertise it on TV. The motives are what matters. Some people are moved by God, some - by ego. Some are moved by God to forgive their loved ones and reconcile families, for example. This is how God saves families and lives (or this is how Christians interpret these events). There is no "miracle" in forgiveness.

OK. God is fictitious. What isn't? Some fictitious things are very real. Take the value of stock. What is it? Have you seen or touched this "value"? Is it real? Does it exist anywhere outside the people's mind? Why then people commit suicide, kill, and deceive for the sake of it? What is love? Can you hold it in your hands or smell it? Do these things exist? Absolutely. Does "fictitious" God exist? If you admit that stock value exists and love is real, you have to admit that God exists as well because He has a real impact on people's lives.

Regarding the signs. The Bible is full of these signs - 7 plagues of Egypt, Red Sea parting its waters, Jordan river stopping its flow, etc. all the way through the resurrection of Christ. The guy appeared on Earth in person, said "Hi, I'm God", rose the dead, healed the paralytics, blind, and leprose. And they still did not believe. You read about it and you don't believe it. And note, that even in the Bible, people who SAW these signs, did not believe in God either. Egyptians did not, even Israelites did not. The whole Old Testament is a history of Israel's unbelief. The guy appeared on Earth in person, said "Hi, I'm God", rose the dead, healed the paralytics, blind, and leprose. And they still did not believe - they crucified Him. What do you expect God to show you so that you could believe in Him? With today's technology, nothing would surprise atheists so much that they believe. They will find explanation to anything. Waters of Nyle turned into blood? - The rains must have washed some red soils into the river. Locusts eating the crops? What is so "miraculous" here? Parting waters? An unusually big tide. David killing Goliath with five stones? Luck. He just hit the right spot. Etc., etc. If you don't see a proof of God when you see a rising Sun or a blossoming flower, or a birth of your child, or Mount St. Helens with the top blown off, then what proof will be sufficient?

AG, you wrote:

"You are exactly right. You described exactly how God works - through the hearts of people who believe in Him. There is nothing mysterious in actual events - people giving money to churches, or people traveling to Haiti to build infrastructure, shelter, schools, and hospitals, people helping widows and orphans. What or who motivates these people is the key. Some people do not have much money, and yet, give to the church. Many billionaires and celebrities donate millions to charities and advertise it on TV. The motives are what matters. Some people are moved by God, some - by ego. Some are moved by God to forgive their loved ones and reconcile families, for example. This is how God saves families and lives (or this is how Christians interpret these events). There is no "miracle" in forgiveness."

My point is that *EVERY* god throughout human history has worked through men. If there were no god, men would do the work; if there is a god, men will do the work. In reality, men will do the work. You seem to imply that *only* through a fictional deity can human beings do good works for their fellow man. I, as an atheist, say that rather than add in a fiction to provide impetus, just do good works for your fellow man whenever you can. You don't need a god to tell you that a given humanitarian act is good and worthwhile.

Ag wrote:

"OK. God is fictitious. What isn't? Some fictitious things are very real. Take the value of stock. What is it? Have you seen or touched this "value"? Is it real? Does it exist anywhere outside the people's mind? Why then people commit suicide, kill, and deceive for the sake of it? What is love? Can you hold it in your hands or smell it? Do these things exist? Absolutely. Does "fictitious" God exist? If you admit that stock value exists and love is real, you have to admit that God exists as well because He has a real impact on people's lives."

What is most assuredly not fictitious is humanity and our hundreds of thousands of years of evolving as a social animal with a brain that allows for empathy and compassion so that we are basically good with a strong morality based upon fairness and justice. Christianity says that we are incapable of this because we are inherently flawed and must be "cured" by being "washed in the blood of Jesus" for us to be able to do good for mankind. This morality is based upon human sacrifice and threats and devaluing humanity and infinite torture for finite "crimes." The fiction does harm and it is said, "the truth will set us free."

AG wrote:

"Regarding the signs. The Bible is full of these signs - 7 plagues of Egypt, Red Sea parting its waters, Jordan river stopping its flow, etc. all the way through the resurrection of Christ. The guy appeared on Earth in person, said "Hi, I'm God", rose the dead, healed the paralytics, blind, and leprose. And they still did not believe. You read about it and you don't believe it. And note, that even in the Bible, people who SAW these signs, did not believe in God either. Egyptians did not, even Israelites did not. The whole Old Testament is a history of Israel's unbelief. The guy appeared on Earth in person, said "Hi, I'm God", rose the dead, healed the paralytics, blind, and leprose. And they still did not believe - they crucified Him. What do you expect God to show you so that you could believe in Him? With today's technology, nothing would surprise atheists so much that they believe. They will find explanation to anything. Waters of Nyle turned into blood? - The rains must have washed some red soils into the river. Locusts eating the crops? What is so "miraculous" here? Parting waters? An unusually big tide. David killing Goliath with five stones? Luck. He just hit the right spot. Etc., etc. If you don't see a proof of God when you see a rising Sun or a blossoming flower, or a birth of your child, or Mount St. Helens with the top blown off, then what proof will be sufficient?"

You believe that god came to earth as Jesus and this proves he is real. Well, why didn't Jesus stay on earth, alive, unable to be killed, preaching and teaching, present, not absent across the world for all of these years, making sure that the word that god wants known is known perfectly, proving he is not a fiction created by iron-age peoples? After all,, Jesus supposedly conquered death so why didn't he stay alive here on earth where he could make sure that people got the message? That would have proven his claims. Ancient writings, some of which we don't even know the authorship, that make claims of divinity and miracles that don't have one shred of evidence and doesn't include anything that wasn't known by the people at the time of the writing isn't going to cut it. It's absent god, again--just like every other god/religion on earth. The god of Abraham also spawned *three* religions so consider that had Jesus not been absent the jewish people would have converted and the rise of Islam wouldn't have happened and billions more would have been saved from hell.

Look, why does an omnipotent entity need anybody to do his work for him? Why not just spread your message yourself. If it's good to help and save and protect humans then why not, as god, do that? Surely god could do a better job of everything that the Christian god's religion has his people doing for him? And don't trot out the idea of free will, either. That's a cop out and not accurate anyway. Perfect knowledge of god does not mean that people will become robots--the angels knew of god and rebelled, Adam and Eve had perfect knowledge and rebelled, etc., etc. Of course I believe that the idea that free will needs to be preserved is just like "thou shalt not test thy god" as another bullshit way of hiding the absent nature of god.

And that's what I'm saying: in the final analysis the Christian god is just as absent as any of the made-up gods of our past.

So are you really saying that a fiction can do good things so we should maintain the fiction even though that same fiction is filled with horrible baggage and is responsible for some pretty despicable things throughout our history? Why not just acknowledge that it's all a lie and move on, once and for all, tossing off the yoke that Christianity has had on humanity since Constantine put his full support behind the fiction almost 2000 years ago?

The Christian god is just as absent, and just as fictitious, as Zeus, Thor, Ra, Vishnu, and the Flying Spaghetti Monster. If people would recognize this then the human race could move past superstitions and work toward a better world for humanity without oppressive dogmatic pseudo-gods which are sad relics of our unenlightened past.

Mark,

All your arguments are fine, logical, and all. And they are true... for you. This is your way to view things in this world. Apparently, it works for you, and it's perfectly OK with me. There is no contradiction, you can explain everything using your philosophy and world view.

Now, some things do not make sense to me. I have a hard time believing that a human being can appear as a result of random genetic mutations, even in billions of years. Too many physical circumstances just "occurred" on planet Earth to make this happen. The earth is at "just right" distance from the Sun so that water does not evaporate. Hydrogen, carbon, and oxygen "happen" to be among the most abundant elements on Earth so that water is one of the most plentiful substances. Water, just by chance, happens to be the only known substance which expands as it freezes making the ice to cover the surface of the water and protecting the depths of the oceans and rivers rather than building up from the bottom and letting the water body to freeze throughout. Etc., etc., etc.

Now, consider life. My work is related to mass production manufacturing. Think of life as a huge "mass reproduction system". I know better than many people that to produce any material product of any complexity, not even close to the complexity of a frog, you need to put in place thousands of procedures, rules, guidelines, quality control policies, etc. and rely on constant supervision of trained professionals - production line managers, operators, etc. Have one negligent operator, one faulty piece of equipment, one glitch in supply system, one supplier with defect rate more than 1000 ppm, and your system will produce tons of scrap and halt altogether when the will of those who set it up and maintained is removed. I simply do not believe that without any external "supervision" such system can exist, reproduce itself, and thrive. May be, the universe was not created in 6 days, but there must be a force driving these mutations and creating conditions for the "right" ones to survive. Supplies arrive "just in time", "product" delivered just in time, etc. Evolution does not conflict with creation in my mind.

I don't have any proof of such external will. It's just my "belief" which makes more sense to me than the "random mutation" theory. I hold that mutations are not as random. Completely random events lead to chaos and disintegration. Think how much a sperm must go through to reach the egg. How much "reliability testing" a newborn has to go through to make the first breath. Yet, the yield of this "mass reproduction system" is remarkable. Well, the yield of the sperm is, actually, pathetic. I've heard, one male ejaculation has enough sperm to impregnate all female population of the U.S. But the system as a whole is remarkably reliable and repeatable. I do not believe that this is possible without some "will" driving it. That's just how I view the world. It may or may not be true. But it explains my reality better than atheism.

That's just for material world. There is also stuff inside our heads. When you are happy, you don't have stress, you don't have conflicting interests in your life (watching football vs. helping kids with homework, for example), everything is fine. Who needs Bible with hundreds of boring verses which do not make sense? Any book is boring when you do not need it. Try reading a book on computers if it's not what you like and enjoy and you do not have any practical need for it. But when you try to solve specific problems of your life, that's when those boring books start to make sense. The Bible, all of a sudden, makes sense when you need to make tough choices, when things do not work out well, especially in relationships with others. To me, Bible is extremely useful when I apply it to my relationships with my family and my attitudes at work, etc. I see real impact from applying these teachings. I may not be good at it. That's what it's meant for. If anybody uses Bible to commit atrocities - what business of mine is it? It proves nothing to me.

Anyway, I just have a different framework for my view of the world. Yours works for you, mine works for me. What's wrong? Why fix what's working?

Check out this video. I like this attitude, although it comes from an atheist. What's wrong with collecting stamps? And what's wrong with not collecting stamps? What harm is in either point of view unless we try to "fix" it in each other?

http://youtu.be/fJzMAMXLhGM

From: AG "Mark,

All your arguments are fine, logical, and all. And they are true... for you. This is your way to view things in this world. Apparently, it works for you, and it's perfectly OK with me. There is no contradiction, you can explain everything using your philosophy and world view.

Now, some things do not make sense to me. I have a hard time believing that a human being can appear as a result of random genetic mutations, even in billions of years. Too many physical circumstances just "occurred" on planet Earth to make this happen. The earth is at "just right" distance from the Sun so that water does not evaporate. Hydrogen, carbon, and oxygen "happen" to be among the most abundant elements on Earth so that water is one of the most plentiful substances. Water, just by chance, happens to be the only known substance which expands as it freezes making the ice to cover the surface of the water and protecting the depths of the oceans and rivers rather than building up from the bottom and letting the water body to freeze throughout. Etc., etc., etc."

AG, this states that your god is a god of the gaps, or more specifically, a god of your ignorance. You must realize that any god of the gaps will, with time and the constant accretion of human knowledge, have less and less in its domain. We used to believe that god created thunder, etc., etc. Of course you've got that "covered" because you have a built in incredulity clause in your belief--if you don't believe it and or accept it then god did it is still the default. Do you realize just how intellectually dishonest this is? All the evidence you need to understand the basics of biological science are available to you in greater abundance and quality than no other time in our history. Of course you would have to be humble enough to acknowledge that there are people who know more about a given topic than you and be able to accept the validity of their findings. I don't understand quantum mechanics but I can read Brian Greene and get a basic gist of the idea enough so that I can, within reason, talk about the weird world of sub-atomic particles. I wanted to know more about evolution so I read about the subject from Dawkins and others who have forgotten more about the subject than I will ever know. Evolution is one of the most tested and most accepted theories in all of science--finding support in a myriad of different fields of study as varied as genetics to paleontology to biochemistry to geology. And the basic premise is this: given traits that can be modified and passed on in an environment with limited resources, individuals best suited for survival will more likely pass on those advantageous traits to the next generation. With time and environmental pressures molding life in no specific direction other than survival the incredible diversity of life can be shown to have evolved.

How elegant and beautifully simple, but powerful, this process is. And you don't need a god in it, at all. KISS works. If the explanation is there and is falsifiable and yet it hasn't been for tens of decades why can't you accept the experts in the field? Do you reject all of science, then? Do you reject quantum mechanics and all the modern electronics that owe it their existence or do you use your cell phone and gps unit and personal computer in a haughty hypocritical contempt for consistency in reasoning?

I will never understand how someone can deny the foundation of the biological sciences, including medicine, and still go to the doctor and get injections to protect from the evolving flu virus or use genetic testing etc. Some Christians will go so far as utilize the best of modern biology and physics while stating unequivocally that the universe is less than 10,000 years old--which is spitting in the face of science and reason.

AG wrote:

"That's just for material world. There is also stuff inside our heads. When you are happy, you don't have stress, you don't have conflicting interests in your life (watching football vs. helping kids with homework, for example), everything is fine. Who needs Bible with hundreds of boring verses which do not make sense? Any book is boring when you do not need it. Try reading a book on computers if it's not what you like and enjoy and you do not have any practical need for it. But when you try to solve specific problems of your life, that's when those boring books start to make sense. The Bible, all of a sudden, makes sense when you need to make tough choices, when things do not work out well, especially in relationships with others. To me, Bible is extremely useful when I apply it to my relationships with my family and my attitudes at work, etc. I see real impact from applying these teachings. I may not be good at it. That's what it's meant for. If anybody uses Bible to commit atrocities - what business of mine is it? It proves nothing to me."

Selecting parts of the bible that you find inspirational are fine. But believing that it is the word of god, a specific god, is untenable. That's what "absent god" was supposed to help you work out fact from fiction. Yes, the bible has some good parts and using them is fine. But it was written by men thousands of years ago and there have been millions of books written, by men, since the bronze/iron age men wrote the bible that you might find helpful that need no divine inspiration to be incredible works of human intelligence. But the thing is, due to absent god, some people will read the bible and, just like you, find things in it that they deem critically important, even essential that are, by every objective measure, horrific. Slavery is ok. If you get raped you must marry the rapist. Human sacrifice is ok. You must abandon your family to follow Christ. If someone is homosexual you can murder them. If someone works on the sabbath you must murder them. And the list goes on and on because people attribute this book to god. You attribute it to god but don't follow all his teachings which is commendable but wouldn't it be better if no person believed that this was anything but the work of ancient people and had nothing to do with god and if they can find some good in it, so be it but it doesn't have the weight of dogma or the power of damnation to influence people?

I argue that the world would be a better place if rather than believing any religious text is the work of god and basing their actions on its antiquated principles it is instead not divine and people then accepted that the scientific and ethical work of men is more relevant in their lives.

Mark,

Read this Wikipedia article on "Chaos Theory".

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chaos_theory

and the "Butterfly Effect"

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Butterfly_effect

"Chaos theory"... This is mind-boggling. So, there are laws and regularities and order in chaos. Isn't "chaos" about, well, unpredictability and lack of order? I'm not saying that it is not true. It is. Apparently, it describes reality.

So, a butterfly flapping it's wings can determine whether there will be a hurricane and which direction it will go. How come that with all these random events frogs give birth to frogs and humans to humans with exceptional repeatability? Life is anything but random.

This is what I make of it: there is a force in this world driving towards order, higher organization, law, etc. with life as the highest form of such organization, and the lack of such force drives everything in the opposite direction - destruction, chaos, death, decay, disintegration, immorality. These trends replace each other constantly and one is impossible without the other. And this force is present in everything which exists in this universe, seen and unseen. So, even inside our minds we can observe the struggle of these two trends. It's just a philosophical view. It's only in my head. I call this force "God". It does not prove anything. It's just a word - a way to call things. An atheist may call it something else. It does not matter. Reality is the same.

God, save me from Linda's wrath. I already see my simple non-aggressive point drowned in a holy flood of irrelevant scientific facts and quotations. I am already ashamed of quoting Wikipedia to make any point. God, please, forgive me my sin. Please, lead me not into temptation to open my sinful mouth to return insults. Give me strength to quietly suffer all the ridicule that I justly bring onto my miserable self for daring to say Your name in this forum just as You suffered on the cross. Let it be a test of my faith and integrity. Amen.

Mark, a few more thoughts closer to your points.

ML: "You seem to imply that *only* through a fictional deity can human beings do good works for their fellow man." I don't say or imply that. All people can live good moral lives without deities. ML: "I, as an atheist, say that rather than add in a fiction to provide impetus, just do good works for your fellow man whenever you can."

I'm all for that. Whether there is God or not is just a matter of personal perception or belief. There is nothing wrong with both points of view. ML: "You don't need a god to tell you that a given humanitarian act is good and worthwhile."

As long as most people agree on "what is good and worthwhile", there is no need for law, God, etc. The problem is that most people do not agree on "what is good". "What is good for me" may not be good for you or good for society in general. The "conflict of interest" that Don points out is there regardless of theological issues. Therefore, you do need some written document recognized by the most of the society laying out the principles. That's what the Bible is meant to be. No matter how "good" this document is, there will be people who disagree in general or in details, or will not obey, because their interests conflict with the laws in the document. So there still will be struggle, crime, atrocities, and suffering. Neither religion nor atheism can solve this problem. Bible or secular law, religion or atheism, - crime and atrocities will be there. It's human nature. Bible merely describes all this. Blaming religion for crimes, immorality, and atrocities is barking up the wrong tree, IMHO.

ML: "Well, why didn't Jesus stay on earth, alive, unable to be killed, preaching and teaching, present, not absent across the world for all of these years, making sure that the word that god wants known is known perfectly, proving he is not a fiction created by iron-age peoples? After all, Jesus supposedly conquered death so why didn't he stay alive here on earth where he could make sure that people got the message? That would have proven his claims."

This would be wrong for several reasons:

1. You pointed out that people can do good without God. This is true. Doesn't your suggestion contradict your opinion?

2. Jesus taught not to "cling" to the material things of this world (his physical body included). John 20:17 "Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father". Maintaining his physical presence on Earth would not do much, except for creating an idol, don't you think? Why would people accept a teaching coming from another human, especially an immortal one? OK. The guy is immortal, but people are! Apparently, he can live without food, drink, clothes, and shelter, and he does not fear to die. How is what he says can help my suffering? That would set God further apart from humanity. Jesus must live in human hart, not in a palace in Tibet or something, walking around telling people what to do and putting up miracle shows. People would treat him as a magician of some sort, nothing more. The motivation to do good must come from the inside, just like you suggest. The whole idea of Christianity is that there is no difference between "God" and "humanity" of which you talk. So, your suggestion contradicts the main idea of Christianity as well.

Finally, having Jesus around to tell people what to do and how to live is like having your daddy around to help you out to the end of your life. This would neither please the parents, nor do any good to the children. What pleases parents is to see their children able to live on their own, make good decisions and prosper, not to stay around them forever. It's nice, however, if children remember their parents, call once in a while, and appreciate what parents did for them. Atheists simply deny they have a "heavenly Father". It's their own business.

None of this proves or disproves the existence of God. That's not the point of discussion. I am just saying that I don't have a problem that my "daddy" is not here with me all the time, just like it should not matter much to you. It does not hurt my respect or love to the Father or undermine my belief that I have one.

AG wrote:

ML: "Well, why didn't Jesus stay on earth, alive, unable to be killed, preaching and teaching, present, not absent across the world for all of these years, making sure that the word that god wants known is known perfectly, proving he is not a fiction created by iron-age peoples? After all, Jesus supposedly conquered death so why didn't he stay alive here on earth where he could make sure that people got the message? That would have proven his claims."

This would be wrong for several reasons:

1. You pointed out that people can do good without God. This is true. Doesn't your suggestion contradict your opinion?

2. Jesus taught not to "cling" to the material things of this world (his physical body included). John 20:17 "Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father". Maintaining his physical presence on Earth would not do much, except for creating an idol, don't you think? Why would people accept a teaching coming from another human, especially an immortal one? OK. The guy is immortal, but people are! Apparently, he can live without food, drink, clothes, and shelter, and he does not fear to die. How is what he says can help my suffering? That would set God further apart from humanity. Jesus must live in human hart, not in a palace in Tibet or something, walking around telling people what to do and putting up miracle shows. People would treat him as a magician of some sort, nothing more. The motivation to do good must come from the inside, just like you suggest. The whole idea of Christianity is that there is no difference between "God" and "humanity" of which you talk. So, your suggestion contradicts the main idea of Christianity as well.

Finally, having Jesus around to tell people what to do and how to live is like having your daddy around to help you out to the end of your life. This would neither please the parents, nor do any good to the children. What pleases parents is to see their children able to live on their own, make good decisions and prosper, not to stay around them forever. It's nice, however, if children remember their parents, call once in a while, and appreciate what parents did for them. Atheists simply deny they have a "heavenly Father". It's their own business.

None of this proves or disproves the existence of God. That's not the point of discussion. I am just saying that I don't have a problem that my "daddy" is not here with me all the time, just like it should not matter much to you. It does not hurt my respect or love to the Father or undermine my belief that I have one.

AG, are you actually saying that you would *not* like if if Jesus had stayed on earth?

Jesus staying on earth would have meant that he could have prevented the inquisition, the crusades, the rise of islam, all of the confusion surrounding Christianity, and been a living inspiration for billions of people. With him here we would not have needed the Bible--at least as it was presented--at least not with all its inherent problems. He could have given all of humanity the message of god's love. He could have cleared up the idea of the trinity. He could have been available for every human being to write him and see him and actually bask in his earthly glory. Jesus could have been present converted almost all of humanity, something that god supposedly wants, so that we would have been able to achieve what god wants and been cleansed and made ready to join god in heaven. And his staying on earth would have been an actual sacrifice. He would have given up heaven for us. A god dying isn't even possible so it's not really a sacrifice, at all. But a god willingly renouncing paradise to stay and help humanity would have been amazing. And it wouldn't guarantee that people became Christian--just make it almost a indefensible position not to.

I mean, you already believe that an invisible father is watching every move you make, can read your thoughts--and convict you of thought crime--and is present in the world all around you. Why would having a real, alive Jesus be something doctrinally different?

Not wanting Jesus around puzzles me. Of course it would mean he's not an absent god and that would mean Christianity would fail my test but that would be fine--as an atheist I don't believe in any god or gods, I'm open to being proven wrong. And really, you're an atheist too--you don't believe in thousands of gods or goddesses--so having confirmation of your belief in Jesus would seem to be something that would be good.

<!shrug>

Maybe not. I remember once asking a Christian if it were possible to travel back in time to the death of Christ on the cross if he would do so. He answered, "no." He was not comfortable with the idea of removing any doubt to his belief system. Weird. It's as if Christians are happier to be unsure about the authenticity of what they believe.

Weird.

Here is an old joke. I'm sure, you heard it, so just a brief version:

A believer was cought in a flood. He strongly believed God will save him. Two boats and a helicopter came by offering to rescue the man, but he refused waiting for God to take care of him. The man drowned, went to heaven and complained to God that He is dead in spite of all his faith. God replied, "Well, I sent two boats and a helicopter."

The "signs" are all around us, and God talks to those who listen all the time.

Sorry for the cut-and-paste mistake in the previous post

So, if you can invent a just-so story and buy into it, you're a true believer? I'm sure you'll also claim that when Christians kill Jews by the millions, God has nothing to do with it.

What a bunch of muddle.

You are a true believer when you believe in something and live by your faith. Everyone has a "just-so" story. Read about self-made billionaires, celebrities, politicians. Success of these people may not have anything to do with religion, but it has everything to do with faith. Any success starts from a vision and faith that you can achieve it. Your vision or "just-so" story can be far from the current reality, but if you persist in your faith, it becomes the reality. Even you must have faith in atheism. Admit it. If you don't believe in atheism, why this web site? So, you are a believer. Those who are not believers (in something) are "dead meat" - living under bridges like weeds. People are alive by faith - as humans, not as matter capable of reproducing itself.

Everyone kills everyone by the million. Nero killed Christians by the million, Christians killed Jews by the million, Christians killed Christians by the million, non-Christian Hitler killed Jews and Christians by the million. Atheist Stalin killed atheists, Christians, and everyone else by the million. Hindus kill Muslims by the million. Christians and Muslims kill each other by the million. Whatever religion followers in Africa kill their fellows by the million. Has this all anything to do with God or religion? Which religion? I am confused which religion is to blame. Atheists are knee-deep in blood along with everyone else. Blaming God for all of this does not make sense. This is all done by people. People can say that they are motivated by religion or by God. Therefore, you conclude that God and religion are to blame. But atheists do these things also. What are they motivated by? Where did Jesus call to kill anyone? He said, "Forgive them for they don't know what they are doing", for all I know. Other opinions and actions based on them do not come from God. This is how Satan works. Planting lies in our hearts, perverting God's will, corrupting our motives, and causing us to kill each other. Then we blame God for our failures. If He is in charge, why doesn't He make it right? Why did he plant that tree in the Garden? Didn't he know that humans WILL eat from it? Why did He give free will to humans if He knew they are evil at heart? Why didn't He stop creation after making carrots and potatoes? What does He want, after all?

Does Genesis say that God created people evil at heart? They became evil at heart when they started questioning His word prompted by the Satan, looking for "proof" (typical atheist behavior). Adam and Eve did not know evil until they ate from the tree of knowledge. So, from the Biblical point of view, free will and the ability to know and understand good and evil are why people suffer. When you know what is good and don't do it, you sin. (James 4:17) Without knowing what's good, there is no sin and no evil. And without knowing what's evil, there is no knowledge of good. We have free will to chose between good and evil to the best of our knowledge. Well, this is how I understand the first 2 chapters of Genesis about God's design. It makes perfect sense to me. If it were any different, there would be no intelligent life as we know it, because "intelligent" assumes knowledge.

So, is God to blame that He gave humans free will to choose between good and evil? If He did not, we would be no different from carrots and potatoes. Who is to blame that humans do not choose good all the time? Who is to blame that humans have different knowledge and understanding of good and evil? Atheists are no different from any other humans. If God does not exist, how come that you blame Him for these atrocities? Don't you mean to say that the cause of these atrocities is how *people* understand and interpret good and evil - their beliefs, religions, and philosophies (including atheism), - in other words, the human *knowledge* of good and evil? But isn't it what Genesis says? Where is the contradiction? Where is the Bible wrong?

AG: "Any success starts from a vision and faith that you can achieve it." Let's divide the problem. I think we're both in agreement that if you have a belief in something that is true, then that's a good thing. I think we disagree about "faith" in something that's false. I would argue that that's almost always a detriment. If something good comes out of such a belief, that good is nothing more than a fortunate accident and cannot be attributed to that faith. Here's an example: there have been many people who have had "faith" that they have invented a perpetual motion machine. How many such machines have those people invented? None. The truth is no such machine can be invented and truth trumps faith every time. I do have to admit, that someone can be manipulated into doing good, but nearly always, the manipulator has his own agenda and the person being manipulated is essentially a victim. To get back to your quote, successful people are usually successful people because they challenge themselves and have a very good idea of what they can achieve. They may have also removed any false self-doubts. In both cases, they are operating from a more accurate picture of reality than someone who believes (falsely) that they can't do it.

By the way, I will use "belief" as something a person holds to be true and "faith" as a belief lacking sufficient evidence. Faith is often belief in something that is false.

AG: "Even you must have faith in atheism. Admit it. If you don't believe in atheism, why this web site?" Atheism is the lack of belief in gods. People who call themselves atheists are generally people who have looked at the claims about gods and found them to lack evidence. We look at the harm that religion has caused and we know that belief without evidence is a bad thing. Even you're an atheist with respect to most gods, by the way.

What we do believe in is reason, science, accumulated knowledge, etc. But it's not faith. Reason and science constantly proves itself in their ability to correctly answer many testable claims. All of our technology is the fruit of science and reason. Every time you turn on a light or use a computer, you are admitting that science and reason is valid.

Let me make you a deal. You live a whole year without science, reason, and technology of any kind and I'll live a whole lifetime without religion. Will you take my bet? If not, why? You're here talking about how great faith is.

AG: "Everyone kills everyone by the million." I see some big differences between us here. I think that genocide is a bad thing and something to be avoided--not rationalized/apologized for. If you can't learn from your mistakes, you're likely to repeat them. There's a great quote by Voltaire: "Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities." Maybe we can stop the atrocities if we strive to rid ourselves of false beliefs. What do you think?

When you look at the history of Christianity, there are about 1400 years of persecution and killing of Jews that were justified because of things they found in the Bible. Centuries of slavery were justified with the Bible. Subjugation of women has been justified using the Bible. Today, gays are persecuted based on, guess what?, the Bible. Decades of pedophile victims get no justice because Christianity's moral compass spins in circles around the Bible and false beliefs. I could list one hundred more examples. How many people have to die before a faith-head like you gets the idea that MAYBE there's a problem?

The core problem with Christianity, Islam, and Judaism is that you cannot have two masters. You can either be concerned about your fellow man and his problems and make the world a better place for everyone, OR you can follow the God of Abraham and sell out your fellow man when that is convenient to curry favor and maybe get yourself a blessing, a promotion, or a perpetual orgasm in heaven. You can't have both; there will always be situations where those two goals come into conflict. So when I talk to someone of faith, I have to ask whether they have any evidence for their god. In other words, are you (and other believers) a traitor to humanity because you have good evidence you will get a reward for doing so, or are you selling out your fellow man because of "faith", that your fellow human beings are worth less than your unjustified fantasy? Yes, I think Christianity, Islam, and Judaism lives up to this despicable reputation. So I'm not blaming religion or "god" exactly. I'm blaming this conflict of interest. The world would be a much better place without it.

You claimed that atheists have killed millions. That might be true, but I think it obscures a very important lesson. The lack of belief in a thing does not provide motivation to do active harm to another human being. Stalin had faith in communism and strove to suppress competing beliefs and institutions. It was not atheism that led him and his followers to kill millions. It was the failed belief in communism and his own lust for power.

Hitler was an interesting case. He and his followers were Christians, by the way, marching under the banner of "Gott Mit Uns" (God is on our side). Hitler really hit his stride when he adopted the theology of Martin Luther and turned his "On the Jews and Their Lies" into reality, creating a great capstone for 1400 years of Christians killing Jews as an avocation. What changed? Hint: it wasn't God's mind. The newsreels from WWII caused the world to react in horror at practical Christian theology. Christianity has been in decline since in those countries that have a proper education about that era of history.

AG: "Where did Jesus call to kill anyone?" Seriously? Isn't the whole end-times rapture snuff porn industry based on the Biblical idea that the "chosen" will get front row seats to watch the carnage of non-believers that Jesus will bring about--the whole reason for his existence? Misanthropy in the Bible again. What a shock!!!

I'm skipping over all your claims about God, Satan, and whatever Bible interpretation you've come up with. "That which can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence." I don't think you can get much moral guidance from a genocide manual. I think you have a long row to hoe if you're going to claim that the Bible is good. Without a holy book, a believer's faith in god is nothing more than a partially shared fantasy.

DB: "I think we're both in agreement that if you have a belief in something that is true, then that's a good thing. I think we disagree about "faith" in something that's false. I would argue that that's almost always a detriment."

We agree on that. The point of disagreement is whether the statement "God exists" is true. Note that when you "know" that something is true or false, it's not "faith". It's knowledge. The object of faith can only be something for which there is no proof or evidence. "Faith" is similar and associated with "hope", but "hope" is weaker.

DB: "To get back to your quote, successful people are usually successful people because they challenge themselves and have a very good idea of what they can achieve."

How so? What is this "idea" based on? Facts? Evidence? How an 11-year old boy can have any level of confidence that he will become a recognized fashion designer? Well, he can have confidence, but what is it based on? He can die next day in a car accident - not so unlikely possibility. That "idea" is faith.

DB: "They may have also removed any false self-doubts. In both cases, they are operating from a more accurate picture of reality than someone who believes (falsely) that they can't do it."

Until success is a fact, there is no "reality", there is no "accurate picture" or any basis whatsoever to say whether these beliefs are "false" or "true". Watch "America's Got Talent". Every person there believes he or she can do a million-dollar show in Las Vegas. Some of them are laughed at, then go home, work hard, and still achieve their dream despite of what those three self-appointed judges say. And some redneck chicken-catchers with no confidence whatsoever, but a considerable talent, win the million. What makes the difference? I would say, "God's will". He is the one giving out talents and putting circumstances together for success. Human will plays a role too. That chicken catcher bought a ticket to the show and showed up on stage. He was not lowered onto the stage from heaven by angels. But human will is nothing without God's will.

DB: "By the way, I will use "belief" as something a person holds to be true and "faith" as a belief lacking sufficient evidence. Faith is often belief in something that is false."

Play of words. Both lack evidence. Both turn into "knowledge" with proof or evidence. I would say, "faith" consists of "beliefs". "Belief" is more specific. That's the only difference. "A person holds to be true" means nothing. What matters is what IS "true" or what "God holds to be true" to put it another way. The trick is to know what "God holds to be true" and align what you hold to be true with that. Science is just one of the methods to find out what "God holds to be true". And it mostly applies to material world.

DB: "What we do believe in is reason, science, accumulated knowledge, etc. But it's not faith. Reason and science constantly proves itself in their ability to correctly answer many testable claims. All of our technology is the fruit of science and reason. Every time you turn on a light or use a computer, you are admitting that science and reason is valid."

They are valid. But can they answer all questions of life? Let's see. Can they tell how to cure cancer or any autoimmune disease (diabetes, multiple sclerosis, HIV, autism, thyroid deficiency, Alzheimer's, autism)? Can they answer how to prevent your hair from falling out? Can cell phones or computers treat addictions or depressions? For every scientific success, there is a hundred of scientific failures. Yes, science and reason consistently succeed in explaining things, just as much as they consistently fail. Science and reason have their merit and area of application. But I would never put all my confidence in them. They are imperfect. They will and do fail. This is what Bible calls "idolatry". I put my confidence in what or who IS perfect by YOUR definition. It cannot be anything that exists in material world or can be touched, seen, tested, etc. It must be something "ideal" by definition. But I need to have my idea of what is "perfect". I need a standard to measure up to, some point of reference, an anchor, so I am not tossed around by winds and waves of this world - trends, fashions, ever-changing scientific "truths" and social theories. What's wrong with that?

DB: "Let me make you a deal. You live a whole year without science, reason, and technology of any kind and I'll live a whole lifetime without religion. Will you take my bet? If not, why? You're here talking about how great faith is."

This kind of "deals" is not new and you know who offers them. And you know what the answer should be every time. "It is written, 'Man does not live by bread alone...'". As you know, 'bread' as in 'give us this day our daily bread' means 'basic necessities'. Just the fact that you offer these "deals" shows who speaks from your mind. You play tricks in your arguments all the time. How about this: you live without water for a month, and I live without food. Who dies first? You need both to live. You need faith or "belief" and will to be human and differ from a weed or a jellyfish. But I would choose faith and will over science and technology. Because with faith and will I will have them all and more.

DB: "I think that genocide is a bad thing and something to be avoided--not rationalized/apologized for."

Agree.

DB: "Maybe we can stop the atrocities if we strive to rid ourselves of false beliefs. What do you think?"

Agree. But this one is tricky again. How do you know that a belief is false? I would say, by "experimental results". To me personally, religion brings good - piece, confidence, solutions in difficult personal situations. I have not killed anyone so far and do not think that gay-bashing or killing abortion doctors are good ideas (I do not think that homosexuality or same-sex marriages or killing fetuses are good ideas either.) If someone else's beliefs cause them to commit genocide, I, definitely, do not share those.

Things and ideas are not inherently evil. What makes them evil is human intent. You can buy a gun for sports or you can buy a gun to kill someone. Are guns evil? Are gun manufacturers to blame for murders? Is nuclear power a blessing or a curse for humanity? Depends on the intended use. Communism is ideology based on atheism (or, rather, dialectic materialism - an atheistic philosophical teaching). It sounds great on paper. Take the greatest idea with corrupted intent, and it will cause evil proportional to the greatness of the idea. I do not say, atheism is inherently evil. In my opinion, faith has numerous advantages over disbelief. I also think that Bible and religion are not inherently evil, but their applications can be - depending on the intentions and motives. It takes a great wisdom to tell good from evil. Not all humans have it. Many parts of the Bible do contradict each other, often saying opposite things. I think, this is to present both sides of the coin and make the reader draw their own conclusions. But reading the Bible does make you think about these things.

DB: "So I'm not blaming religion or "god" exactly. I'm blaming this conflict of interest. The world would be a much better place without it."

The conflict of interest is at the core of life. You cannot have one without another. Parent-children, individual-collective, national-global, etc. Is it a surprise that religion has conflict of interest? Would the world be a better place without religion? May, be it would be a better place without humans. Better for whom?

AG: "I put my confidence in what or who IS perfect by YOUR definition."

I meant "MY" here.

AG: The point of disagreement is whether the statement "God exists" is true.

Awesome. I don't believe that god exists. Let's do an experiment, shall we? You pay to your god that I am converted to Christianity today. According to your Bible (Matt 7:7, Matt 17:20, Matt 21:21, Mark 11:24, John 14:12-14, Matt 18:19) prayer works. I WANT you to convert me this way, so there is no bogus "free will" excuse. If you fail, we've proven that the Bible is false or Jesus is a fraud. Either way, your God is probably a fraud, too. If you don't participate, then you are a fraud who lacks the courage of your convictions. If you are successful, you can crow about how you converted a hard-core atheist. What do you have to lose, except your delusions?

If you can't convince me with a simple test, why should anyone believe you?

DB: "They may have also removed any false self-doubts. In both cases, they are operating from a more accurate picture of reality than someone who believes (falsely) that they can't do it." AG: Until success is a fact, there is no "reality", there is no "accurate picture" or any basis whatsoever to say whether these beliefs are "false" or "true".

The 11-year old kid who wants to be a successful fashion designer doesn't just wake up as a 50-year old success based on his faith, as you would seem to imply. (Again, you gave me no example of someone, based on faith, created a perpetual motion machine.) The kid works at it and builds up smaller successes and confidences along the way. It's not magic. It's passion and work. Crediting a god for the fruit of someone's hard work would seem to be theft. If the Christian god actually did anything, the theft wouldn't be necessary, I suppose.

AG: Both lack evidence. Both turn into "knowledge" with proof or evidence.

I suppose so, but there is no such thing as absolute knowledge. Humans are fallible and even the faith-head is never completely sure he hasn't been duped by the Devil.

AG: The trick is to know what "God holds to be true".

Until you satisfy the test at the beginning of this post, then please understand that I consider that sentence to be complete nonsense that doesn't help your case. Read this article and the study it references (http://news.uchicago.edu/article/2009/11/30/study-believers-inferences-about-god-s-beliefs-are-uniquely-egocentric). (Let me know if you need a link to the study.) It confirms the idea that people make up their own god - nothing more than a puffed up ego. If there were a real god that people were praying to, don't you think they'd get the same answer? Ditto for why is there 30,000+ Christian sects that all disagree on core doctrine? Answer: they can't all be right, but they CAN all be wrong.

AG: They [science and reason] are valid. But can they answer all questions of life? Let's see. I never claimed they could answer all questions. How does your religion answer the question of whether slavery is wrong? It might have an answer for some things that science doesn't, but what good is a wrong answer? I guess for you, being confident and wrong is a virtue.

AG: You play tricks in your arguments all the time.

You lack the courage of your convictions. You swear how faith is all-important, but when it comes down to it, you don't believe in it. I never did. Welcome aboard.

AG: But this one is tricky again. How do you know that a belief is false? I would say, by "experimental results". To me personally, religion brings good - piece, confidence, solutions in difficult personal situations.

When a belief makes false predictions or causes harm, maybe it's a false belief. Again, how many people have to be murdered based on Biblical belief before you question its veracity? Maybe it satisfies some sense of hedonism with the individual believer. That would explain its popularity. Objectively, Christianity is NOT good. Look at this study (http://moses.creighton.edu/JRS/2005/2005-11.html). It shows that religious belief is correlated with a number of social ills: homicides, teen suicides, infant mortality, lower life expectancy, sexually transmitted diseases, teen abortions, and teen pregnancies. Other studies have shown that secular nations have higher rates of happiness. Can you find the objective good in religious belief? I can't.

AG: The conflict of interest is at the core of life.

I don't have a conflict of interest with god. I don't think I'll get some perpetual orgasm if I just overlook the institutional pedophilia of the Catholic Church, screw same-sex couples, or force women into having children they can't support.

I suggest you read my explanation of the conflict of interest again because I can trace all nearly all religious harm back to that simple explanation. You seem to fall on the wrong side of it, as near as I can tell.

I'm still an atheist.

AG, "Can cell phones or computers treat addictions or depressions? For every scientific success, there is a hundred of scientific failures. Yes, science and reason consistently succeed in explaining things, just as much as they consistently fail. Science and reason have their merit and area of application. But I would never put all my confidence in them."

No stupid, cell phones or computers are not medical treatments for addictions; there are medical treatments for addiction that work. Most addicts would rather go to church than to treatment programs since they are all con artists. Science has not failed because they haven't explained everything yet. What scientist consider true has to pass excruciating testing and that is why they have a very good track record - sorry you can't say the same about your hocus pocus religion that has been proven false.

And science is not a failure when a better theory is found. Evolution is a fact just like gravity is a fact. There will be better theories but the facts will not change. We exist because of evolution nothing was created and gravity is a fact that the bible writers didn't understand. They didn't know that's how things in the heavens are kept in place.

The Rome Christian Crusades slaughtered those who did not accept Christianity - the new state religion. The Moorish leader of the Muslim crusades was Abdul Rahman Al Ghafiqi, and his civilization did the same thing.

The Russian revolution of Marx never materialized - Marxism has nothing to do with the Russian communist system or China's communist system. For that reason any comparison is not valid. Leon Trotsky and Lenin, the most outstanding leaders of the 1905 revolution and the October revolution in Russia, fell victim to an assassination expressly ordered by Joseph Stalin. Stalin's counterrevolutionary extermination of a long list of leaders and participants in the October revolution was completed. This is how Stalin (a Catholic) took over and became leader with an entirely different system under Stalin's communism. Joseph Stalin knew Russia at that time could not support the huge number of people in the USSR. That is why they caused the deaths of tens of millions of people. The population made the economy unsustainable. The massive deaths left Soviet society more sustainable. Communism and Capitalism are systems of government period. There is nothing to glorify in either system. The Russian Orthodox Catholic Church never left Russia and many communists were Russian Orthodox Catholics. Lenin did not overthrow the Tsar. The Tsar was overthrown because he didn't really care about the massive numbers of people that were starving. He was overthrown because he failed to govern the country effectively. This system of governing in Russia was extremely unjust when Nicholas II became Tsar. The whole time millions of people starved to death the Tzar and the Church were bedfellows. Like the founding fathers of America (none of them were Christians) Karl Marx had little respect for Christianity. Karl Marx wrote in 'The Communist Manifesto' in 1848, "they have nothing to lose but their chains". This was a very accurate but sad way of describing the lives of the common worker; the Tsar had no concern for the working class, his focus was on the aristocracy.

Hitler and Stalin were raised in the church and both aspired to be priests. Stalin was actually a Russian Orthodox Catholic. There is a National Geographic with interviews that were done with Russian orthodox priests who stated that Stalin was in fact a member of the Russian Orthodoxy. Marxism is not communism. Marx was anti-religion he said, religion was opium for the masses." Many Stalin communists were involved with the Russian Orthodox Church that has been thriving in Russia from that time to the present day. Under Stalin communism was a bastardized version of Marx's ideas that were adapted to capitalist ideas in order to maintain trade, and internal commerce. All other existing states of communism since were Stalinist, except China, which originally was Stalinist and adapted over time. Mousolini was a Roman Catholic. Moa and Pol Pot were not raised atheist either.

You need to stop quoting and regurgitating mythical propaganda and read history for yourself read the work of unbiased historians. I doubt that will ever happen since you never have investigated your religious or beliefs for accuracy.

Why do we have fear? It evolved for survival and protection the same as love in order to reproduce and protect our offspring. Everything you have tried to claim is proof of God can be explained through education. Why don't you go try and get some?

Religion is total fraud and none of the holy books hold up to scrutiny of any kind. I can't imagine what anyone besides a swirly-eyed fanatic would have in common with any of this - I have nothing in common with the "true believer" or "child of God".

Linda! Wow. Your knowledge is epic. Just as your arrogance. First, you explain physics to the person with two graduate degrees in that field, now you teach the history of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union to a person who grew up in there and studied it as a separate mandatory 1-year course in college. How many original works by Lenin have you read? Any in the original language? Can you, please, quote some sources of your impressive statements? I start to doubt everything else you post in this forum. A few notes so that people who read it do not get too impressed.

Linda: "The Russian revolution of Marx never materialized - Marxism has nothing to do with the Russian communist system or China's communist system."

Marxism is the foundation of Lenin's teaching. The whole thing is called "Marxism-Leninism". There is no "Leninism" without "Marxism". It's like Christianity without Christ. This is the first time I hear the term "Russian revolution of Marx". Marx died long before 1917 and he was a German.

Linda: "For that reason any comparison is not valid."

Give me a break.

Linda: "Leon Trotsky and Lenin, the most outstanding leaders of the 1905 revolution and the October revolution in Russia, fell victim to an assassination expressly ordered by Joseph Stalin."

I read post-soviet tabloids about Lenin. Even they did not mention that Lenin was assassinated on Stalin's orders. Died of syphilis and dementia, after sleeping with communist whores across the Europe - yes, but not assassinated by Stalin.

Linda: "Stalin's counterrevolutionary extermination of a long list of leaders and participants in the October revolution was completed."

Lenin died in 1924. The peak of Stalin's repressions was in 1937. When Lenin died, this "extermination" did not even start. Trotsky was killed on orders of NKVD in Mexico in 1940 - yes. But this was not the "final" killing. There were many more during the WWII.

Linda: "This is how Stalin (a Catholic)..."

Huh? You cannot tell Catholic from Russian Orthodox church. Don't go to Ukraine. I would worry for your safety there.

Linda: "Joseph Stalin knew Russia at that time could not support the huge number of people in the USSR. That is why they caused the deaths of tens of millions of people. The population made the economy unsustainable. The massive deaths left Soviet society more sustainable."

Don, did you read this? I cannot believe I'm reading it. Killing millions of people (including my grandfather) was a good thing! Incredible...

Linda: "The Russian Orthodox Catholic Church never left Russia and many communists were Russian Orthodox Catholics."

Linda, "Russian Orthodox Catholics" is an oxymoron. It's like "religious atheists" or "atheist believers". I know Roman Catholics, I know Greek Catholics. But "Russian Orthodox Catholics" - it's a revelation. "Catholic" in Russia was a synonim with "infidel" for a long time to which there are numerous references in Russian literature. Please, don't even try to argue. You will only completely destroy your reputation in my eyes. Whatever quote you can show saying "Russian Orthodox Catholics" is a first-degree BS.

Linda: "Lenin did not overthrow the Tsar."

This is very true. The Tsar was overthrown by the 1917 February Revolution, of which you seem to be oblivious, and replaced with a bourgeois "Temporary Government". Lenin seized power from the weak "Temporary Government" in October 1917 (or, rather November 7, 1917 - ever wondered why October Revolution took place in November? Hurry up. Google it.)

Linda: "The Tsar was overthrown because he didn't really care about the massive numbers of people that were starving. He was overthrown because he failed to govern the country effectively."

Yeah. Naive explanation for pre-schoolers. Apparently, you have not read Marx's theory at all. Monarchy in Russia was overthrown because "production forces" have overgrown "economic relationships". Monarchy could not adjust to economic growth. "Upper classes could not govern the old way and lower classes would not live the old way" - a classic definition of a revolutionary situation in any country.

Linda: "Like the founding fathers of America (none of them were Christians)" - any references?

Linda: "Karl Marx had little respect for Christianity."

Duh. He was an atheist.

Linda: "Hitler and Stalin were raised in the church and both aspired to be priests. Stalin was actually a Russian Orthodox Catholic."

Stalin was a son of a shoe-maker who was beating him every day drunk (a typical Christian behavior). His mother gave him to a seminary, where he was snitched upon and ridiculed by his fellows. This was a common practice in these religious schools. The hypocrisy, actually, lead him to Marxists. I don't claim I studied Hitler's biography (I did not). But saying that Stalin "aspired" to be priest is a far stretch. It was not his choice. He was never a believer. He grew up in brutal slums and knew nothing but violence in his young life.

Linda: "There is a National Geographic with interviews that were done with Russian orthodox priests who stated that Stalin was in fact a member of the Russian Orthodoxy."

Many people in Russia will say anything to reporters from the U.S. for a bottle of vodka. Priests in Ukraine said that Adam and Eve were Ukrainians. And half of the European languages have Ukrainian roots.

Linda: "Marxism is not communism."

Who argues? Marxism is philosophy, communism is a political system.

Linda: "Marx was anti-religion he said, religion was opium for the masses."

Thanks. I've heard this saying before you were born. You seem to be making arguments for opposite points. Did I say that Marx was a Christian?

Linda: "Many Stalin communists were involved with the Russian Orthodox Church that has been thriving in Russia from that time to the present day. Under Stalin communism was a bastardized version of Marx's ideas that were adapted to capitalist ideas in order to maintain trade, and internal commerce."

Orthodox Church was a political force to be recognized. It still is. Destroying it completely could be lethal to the regime. Stalin exterminated priests who were true to their faith and left only hypocrites, like himself. To be "involved with the church" in the Soviet Union meant the end of your career in the Communist Party and, possibly, extermination, under Stalin. They were "involved" to the degree to manipulate the affairs of the church. In fact, the priests were members of the Party and KGB snitches. This was the situation until the 1990-s when, all of a sudden, it became popular for a president to show up at Easter services broadcasted on the national TV. Hypocrisy. It was and it is.

Stalin's regime could not be farther from capitalism. In the Soviet Union, private property on industrial equipment was illegal. Trade and internal commerce were mandatory in planned economy. People bought products not because they liked them or they were "good", but because they had no choice. You wanted shoes - you went to the store and bought shoes. What kind of shoes? "The" shoes - the only kind there was in the store if you are lucky. That is so much like the capitalist trade system. The "adaptation" happened in Gorbachev era and later.

Linda: "You need to stop quoting and regurgitating mythical propaganda and read history for yourself read the work of unbiased historians."

Another oxymoron. History is a part of propaganda. Every historian has one bias or another. You need to read all of them and remove the bias in your little head (of which not everybody is capable) to sift BS for nuggets of truth and get the true picture. You know that "history is written by the winners". I was sick of "unbiased historians" in the post-soviet times living there. You cannot believe the amount of dirt that was poured out on the former Soviet leaders who were idolized just a few years ago. That's how you tell an unbiased historian - by the amount of dirt he pours on others. Same for unbiased politicians.

I could respond to the rest of this glorious post by Linda the Omniscient, but you have lost most of your credibility in my eyes. I used to be impressed by the wealth of scientific facts that you quote, but now I doubt most of what you say. I even doubt you graduated the high school. I may be wrong. I am not as arrogant to state what I have not a slightest idea about.

AG said, "now you teach the history of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union to a person who grew up in there and studied it as a separate mandatory 1-year course in college."

Name the subject and you are an expert! Communist Party 101; get your money back. If anyone wants to know how much AG knows about physics read Atheist Community of Austin (topic) "Age of the Earth". It indicates a total lake of understanding physics or science. You can't grasp the concept that propaganda is not history. And just like you did on Atheist Community of Austin (topic) "Age of the Earth" you tried to garble the issues and answers with half quotes.

You haven't given any references or proof for anything you claim, and anybody can say anything about their qualification in cyber space but when they misspell common words while they are telling you how educated they are it's pretty lame. However, no references are needed to post bible babble or to copy my posts.

I said, "Marxism had nothing to do with the Russian communist system or China's communist system." That's right meathead. It was Stalinism not Marxism. Trotsky and Lenin provided a Marxist ideological basis for both the defeated revolution of 1905 and the victorious October revolution of 1917. In the latter, Trotsky's intervention was decisive. "FOR THAT REASON ANY COMPARISON IS NOT VALID." Initially, from 1923, Trotsky waged the struggle inside the Communist Party of the Soviet Union through the Left Opposition, in an attempt to re-direct the Party away from the road of bureaucratic degeneration and abandonment of Marxism-Leninism, and back to the traditions of the proletarian revolution of October. But the Party was already thoroughly infiltrated by the underlings of Stalin. A pursuit of personal ambition and fear of the dictator was their only motivation. Leon Trotsky and Lenin, the leaders of the 1905 revolution and the October revolution in Russia, fell victim to an assassination expressly ordered by Joseph Stalin. Stalin's counter-revolutionary extermination of a long list of leaders and participants in the October revolution was completed. This is how Stalin took over and instituted an entirely different system under Stalin's communism.

AG, Marxism is the foundation of Lenin's teaching. The whole thing is called "Marxism-Leninism". There is no "Leninism" without "Marxism". It's like Christianity without Christ. This is the first time I hear the term "Russian revolution of Marx". Marx died long before 1917 and he was a German.

This mind fuck won't work? You are the one that made those idiotic remarks not me. I never said there was a "Leninism". Communism evolved over many years, but the two philosophers who shaped the fundamental concepts of communism, as a form of government treating everyone as equals, were Karl Marx and Freidrich Engels. I said Marxism never materialized because Stalin assassinated all the followers of Marx and they got Stalinism instead of Marxism. Karl Heinrich Marx goal was "workers of the world unite". Karl Marx was born in 1818 and died in 1893. Marx was a German Jew. In 1898, the Russian Social Democratic Party was formed to expand Marx's beliefs in Russia. Karl Marx left Germany when he learned he was going to be arrested and went to Paris where he began mixing with members of the working class for the first time. While in Paris he become a close friend of Friedrich Engels, who had just finished writing a book about the lives of the industrial workers in England. Now do you see how the revolution in Russia actually began in Paris with a movement started by Marx - his followers started the movement in Russia? In 1898, the Russian Social Democratic Party was formed to expand Marx's beliefs in Russia.

The "Communist Manifesto" stated that all men were born free but that society had got to such a state that the majority were in chains. Those who supported Marx said that his beliefs gave the working class hope of a better life. They said that an intellectual who was on their side fighting their cause would inspire the workers. In 1898, the Russian Social Democratic Party was formed to expand Marx's beliefs in Russia. The conservatism, lack of any education and superstition that existed in the rural areas of Russia meant that Marx was less than enthusiastically welcomed. They can always pull the wool over the eyes of the red necks in any country. Marx support was with industrial workers and the people in Russia had to organize them. They tried to organize trade unions but the police easily infiltrated them. It needed Lenin to make the industrial workers a more dynamic group capable of pushing through a revolution.

AG said, "I read post-soviet tabloids about Lenin. Even they did not mention that Lenin was assassinated on Stalin's orders. Died of syphilis and dementia, after sleeping with communist whores across the Europe - yes, but not assassinated by Stalin."

I never said that Stalin Assassinated Lenin. Vladimir Ilyich Lenin Died, January 21 1924 at age 53 from a brain hemorrhage, but before Vladimir Lenin died, he picked the high-ranking member of the Supreme Soviet as his successor, Josef Stalin. Then Stalin reformed Soviet communism, to warrant the repression of political dissenters, the "theory of the aggravation of class struggle", Stalin jailed or murdered millions of Russians of all social classes. This was the beginning of the "show trials" first they accuse a dissenter of a crime then they have a very public trial for an example.

Tabloids are chucked full of facts; yours are right up there with alien abductions and big foot. The USSR got Stalinism not Marxism. Leon Trotsky was working to bring about the socialism conceived by Marx, Engels, Lenin and Trotsky himself. Stalin ordered Trotsky's and other Marxist's assassinations and that information is sound. There have been investigations and a biography of Trotsky's life and assassination. More than one book has been written about these assassinations. You are totally ignorant of the facts (the beginnings of the movement) and the purge ordered by Stalin the history of events that cover a long period of time.

AG said, "Lenin died in 1924. The peak of Stalin's repressions was in 1937. When Lenin died, this "extermination" did not even start. Trotsky was killed on orders of NKVD in Mexico in 1940 - yes. But this was not the "final" killing. There were many more during the WWII."

But there was plenty of repression and murder shortly after Lenin died because before Lenin died he picked Josef Stalin the high-ranking member of the Supreme Soviet as his successor. In 1927 Trotsky was expelled from the Party and deported to Alma-Ata. The Left Opposition practically ceased to function. In 1929 he was expelled from Russia. Beginning with Turkey, he begin his long journey via what he called the "Planet without a visa." Later he went to France, Norway, and finally Mexico. He was aware that he was on Stalin's hit list. With the help of loyal collaborators, Trotsky made use of every minute of his existence to spread the Marxist revolutionary thinking and denounce before international public opinion and the working masses all the crimes and betrayals of Stalinism.

AG, "Linda: "This is how Stalin (a Catholic)..." Huh? You cannot tell Catholic from Russian Orthodox church. Don't go to Ukraine. I would worry for your safety there."

No doubt stupid fanatics are dangerous everywhere! Nevertheless, the Orthodox Catholic Church of Russia is the largest of all Eastern Churches, and after the Catholic Church she is the second largest religious denomination in the world. Russian Orthodoxy and Roman Catholicism teaches most of the same Roman Catholic doctrine. The main difference is that Russian Orthodoxy refuses to recognize the Roman Vatican as their state head. The Russian Orthodox Church outside of Russia did not recognize the authority of the (then) Communist-dominated Russian church. There is little known about this in the western world. It doesn't fit with the Cold War propaganda of the Wing nuts. Hitler and Stalin were raised in the Church and both aspired to be priests. Stalin was actually a Russian Orthodox Catholic. There is a National Geographic with interviews that were done with Russian orthodox priests who stated that Stalin was in fact a member of the Russian Orthodoxy.

AG, "Linda: "Joseph Stalin knew Russia at that time could not support the huge number of people in the USSR. That is why they caused the deaths of tens of millions of people. The population made the economy unsustainable. The massive deaths left Soviet society more sustainable." Don, did you read this? I cannot believe I'm reading it. Killing millions of people (including my grandfather) was a good thing! Incredible..."

If Don can comprehend what he is reading (obviously you can't) he knows that nobody said it was good. It's just a fact. I said the atrocities of Stalin have nothing to do with Marxism. Stalin was a Christian pig! Another mind fuck attempt and throwing everything including grand pa into the wash for tear jerking. Stupid would be a compliment.

AG, "Russian Orthodox Catholics" is an oxymoron. It's like "religious atheists" or "atheist believers". I know Roman Catholics, I know Greek Catholics. But "Russian Orthodox Catholics" - it's a revelation.

I have already explained that Russian Orthodoxy and Roman Catholicism teaches most of the same Roman Catholic doctrine. The main difference is that Russian Orthodoxy refuses to recognize the Roman Vatican as their state head. Nobody would say it's an oxymoron unless they don't know what an oxymoron is.

AG, "Catholic" in Russia was a synonim with "infidel" for a long time to which there are numerous references in Russian literature. Please, don't even try to argue. You will only completely destroy your reputation in my eyes. Whatever quote you can show saying "Russian Orthodox Catholics" is a first-degree BS."

Like I really worry about what someone who can't spell synonymous thinks of me. The word infidel is synonymous with Muslims not Catholics even Russian Orthodox. The Russian Orthodox Church has a thousand-year history of strong influence over the Russian State. In January of 1918, the Soviet government decided to separate the church from the state. The church lost property and money. Joseph Stalin restored the church because many church officials had supported Stalin. Since the partial opening of archives in Russia it is clear that the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries were, in fact, one of the most powerful periods in the history of the Orthodox Church. Like I said, "Many Stalin communists were involved with the Russian Orthodox Church that has been thriving in Russia from that time to the present day.

AG, "Linda: "Lenin did not overthrow the Tsar." This is very true. The Tsar was overthrown by the 1917 February Revolution, of which you seem to be oblivious, and replaced with a bourgeois "Temporary Government".

In 1917 there were actually two revolutions in Russia. One was the February Revolution in which the Tsar abdicated his throne and the Provisional Government took power. The other was the October Revolution in which the Provisional Government was overthrown by the Bolsheviks. Baltic peoples also played a major role in the 1917 Revolution, particularly the Latvian Bolsheviks who comprised a key portion of the Red Guards that defended the Bolsheviks at a crucial time in its early existence. The people of the Baltic territories where today the countries of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania exist were enslaved by serfdom from about the time of the 12th century to about the 19th century. If anyone is "oblivious" of all the facts it's you.

AG, "Lenin seized power from the weak "Temporary Government" in October 1917 (or, rather November 7, 1917"

Trotsky and Lenin provided a Marxist ideological basis for both the defeated revolution of 1905 and the victorious October revolution of 1917. In the latter, Trotsky's intervention was decisive. "For that reason any comparison is not valid." Initially, from 1923, Trotsky waged the struggle inside the Communist Party of the Soviet Union through the Left Opposition, in an attempt to re-direct the Party away from the road of bureaucratic degeneration and abandonment of Marxism Leninism, and back to the traditions of the proletarian revolution and October. But the Party was already thoroughly infiltrated by the sycophants of Stalin with a pursuit of personal ambition and fear of the dictator their only motivation. See there are traitors in any group including atheists groups. The problem is that you don't understand how the revolution begin then evolved; it was a long process. Under Stalin communism was a bastardized version of Marx's ideas that were adapted to capitalist ideas in order to maintain trade, and internal commerce. All other existing states of communism since were Stalinist, except China, which originally was Stalinist and adapted over time. Mousolini was a Roman Catholic.

AG, "- ever wondered why October Revolution took place in November?

Unless you are talking of calendars (OS) and (NS) that have differences in the months. The 1917 Russian Revolution was not one organized event in which Tsar Nicholas II was overthrown and Lenin and the Bolsheviks took power. It was a series of events that took place during 1917. On November 8th Lenin overthrew the government. There is a lot of propaganda concerning this event but it happened because of wars that went badly that people didn't want anyway, and the abject poverty. The working people were starving and that was ignored. That is typical of every Revolution in the history of the world. I guess they should have continued starving - that would be the nicer. AG, "Hurry up. Google it.)"

You are the one giving out wikipedia web sites, are you confused? If there is any doubt look at Atheist Community of Austin (topic) "Age of the Earth" AG said, Thanks a lot for your post. It prompted me to read about Big Bang more. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Graphical_timeline_from_Big_Bang_to_Heat_Death - that is an incredible remark considering (an expert in everything) can only give wikipedia and the bible for their science references. I gave you the books and the page numbers and you pitched a bitch. You also tried to use Einstein quotes to prove your bible babble.

AG, Naive explanation for pre-schoolers.

The "Naive explanation for pre-schoolers" was another half quote of yours. I said, "The Tsar was overthrown because he didn't really care about the massive numbers of people that were starving. He was overthrown because he failed to govern the country effectively. This system of governing in Russia was extremely unjust when Nicholas II became Tsar. The whole time millions of people starved to death the Tzar and the Church were bedfellows. I think you lift that off! Like the founding fathers of America (none of them were Christians) Karl Marx had little respect for Christianity. Karl Marx wrote in 'The Communist Manifesto' in 1848, "they have nothing to lose but their chains". This was a very accurate but sad way of describing the lives of the common worker; the Tsar had no concern for the working class, his focus was on the aristocracy." AG said, "Linda: "Like the founding fathers of America (none of them were Christians)" - any references?

None of the Founding Fathers were Christian. The intentions of America's founders were to make America a purely secular nation. Thomas Jefferson was fiercely opposed to Christianity. In a letter to John Adams, he wrote, "To talk of immaterial existences is to talk of nothings. To say that the human soul, angels, God, are immaterial is to say they are nothings, or that there is no God, no angels, no soul. I cannot reason otherwise" (August 15, 1820). All the others wrote similarly about Christianity. . AG, "Linda: "Karl Marx had little respect for Christianity." Duh. He was an atheist.

You can copy what someone wrote but you don't get the point. Stalin and Hitler were NOT atheists. AG, "Linda: "Hitler and Stalin were raised in the church and both aspired to be priests. Stalin was actually a Russian Orthodox Catholic." Stalin was a son of a shoe-maker who was beating him every day drunk (a typical Christian behavior).

True! Like the dysfunctional fanatic "true believers" responsible for the Salem witch trials. Burning people because you think they are witches.

AG, "His mother gave him to a seminary, where he was snitched upon and ridiculed by his fellows. This was a common practice in these religious schools. The hypocrisy, actually, lead him to Marxists."

Not that different from the schools today and it produces nutty little fanatics? Stalin was lead to seize power when the opportunity presented itself. Marx was upper class and well educated. Stalin from the lower class and he was not an intellectual, but he was vicious enough to do anything to take control. Most revolution wind up with vicious, greedy, vulgar people in control eventually. That's why there will always be revolutions.

AG said, "I don't claim I studied Hitler's biography (I did not). But saying that Stalin "aspired" to be priest is a far stretch. It was not his choice. He was never a believer. He grew up in brutal slums and knew nothing but violence in his young life.

It's obvious you didn't since there is plenty of evidence to support my claim. Read "Mein Kampf" or Robert Flynn author of "Growing Up a Sullen Baptist" and "Slouching Toward Zion." Never mind that Hitler repeatedly attacked atheism, he never said anything to indicate he was an atheist. Marxism was anti-religious, but not Adolph Hitler. Hitler Opposed Secularism and Atheism; there are many quotes by Hitler against secularism and atheism. By reading the true world history it can be found what lead to the crisis in 1933. The reality is that organized anti-Semitism as an official state ideology and legal policy never existed in world history until the fourth century AD, when the Christian Church became the official religion of the Roman Empire.

AG, "Linda: "There is a National Geographic with interviews that were done with Russian orthodox priests who stated that Stalin was in fact a member of the Russian Orthodoxy." Many people in Russia will say anything to reporters from the U.S. for a bottle of vodka.

The National Geographic is not a tabloid. It's doubtful giving out booze had a hand in the interviews with Russian orthodox priests. Stalin was a member of the Russian Orthodoxy. The problem is it doesn't fit your absurd ideas about Christians.

AG, "Priests in Ukraine said that Adam and Eve were Ukrainians. And half of the European languages have Ukrainian roots."

The Ukraine is full of superstitious peasants that are fanatically religious.

AG, "Linda: "Marxism is not communism." Who argues? Marxism is philosophy, communism is a political system."

That's what I said in my first post "Communism and Capitalism are systems of government period." I thought you might want to know where you heard that first.

AG said, "To be "involved with the church" in the Soviet Union meant the end of your career in the Communist Party and, possibly, extermination, under Stalin. They were "involved" to the degree to manipulate the affairs of the church. In fact, the priests were members of the Party and KGB snitches. This was the situation until the 1990-s when, all of a sudden, it became popular for a president to show up at Easter services broadcasted on the national TV. Hypocrisy. It was and it is.

Yes, the Russian Orthodox Church has been in Russia all along, just like I said, and it wouldn't astonish anyone that members of any religion are hypocrites. Since Christianity was invented by Constantine to support his rule and conquest religion has been a tool of the rulers.

AG, "Stalin's regime could not be farther from capitalism. In the Soviet Union, private property on industrial equipment was illegal. Trade and internal commerce were mandatory in planned economy. People bought products not because they liked them or they were "good", but because they had no choice. You wanted shoes - you went to the store and bought shoes. What kind of shoes? "The" shoes - the only kind there was in the store if you are lucky. That is so much like the capitalist trade system. The "adaptation" happened in Gorbachev era and later."

Who's impressed? I'm sure it's not the people who have recently lost their homes in the US presently living in their cars. Where did you say they could get some shoes? Russia's military spending, the cold war and the ten-year war in Afghanistan brought them to their demise, not America. We have gone down the same stupid path. Eisenhower warned us about the military industrial complex. Concerning conditions of workers in America. When union workers in Detroit fought for a living wage in the 1930's they were met with machine gun fire that killed workers. Harlan County USA is a documentary about a coal miners' strike in the 70's. These workers lived in Harlan County, Kentucky in shacks with no plumbing or running water, they had no medical care, and they could never retire etc. The people were trapped in poverty from one generation to another. This is how to keep control over the labor market under capitalism. There is no bloodier chapter in history. It is the story of the struggle of coal miners to get a union, these were some of the most violent times and it all occurred in Harlan County, Kentucky. The people who live there remember it as "bloody Harlan," During the Great Depression Americans were starving; farmers and workers lost everything. Machine guns were turned on workers. FDR saved them with socialism.

AG said, "History is a part of propaganda. Every historian has one bias or another."

Not all historians are fakers but all religions are fakes. Religious hypocrites are the tools of the rulers worldwide. No god no job.

AG, "You need to read all of them and remove the bias in your little head (of which not everybody is capable) to sift BS for nuggets of truth and get the true picture. You know that "history is written by the winners". I was sick of "unbiased historians" in the post-soviet times living there. You cannot believe the amount of dirt that was poured out on the former Soviet leaders who were idolized just a few years ago. That's how you tell an unbiased historian - by the amount of dirt he pours on others. Same for unbiased politicians."

I have written many times on this message board "the winners write history". The Romans were the winners who concocted the New Religion after they committed genocide and torture to remove dissent and competing religions. There are unbiased historians but they often try to suppress them if there findings don't support the official story. AG, "I could respond to the rest of this glorious post by Linda the Omniscient, but you have lost most of your credibility in my eyes. I used to be impressed by the wealth of scientific facts that you quote, but now I doubt most of what you say. I even doubt you graduated the high school. I may be wrong. I am not as arrogant to state what I have not a slightest idea about.

I could care less what you think you're a blow hard.

Remember AG you told Don Baker, "Communism is ideology based on atheism." No, it's not it is a system of government period. Stalin was not an atheist Marx was. You seem very confused about the difference in Communism, Marxism and atheism.

Linda,

Humility is a virtue. Don't believe it. Test it. Meditate on that. Before you say something, think why you say it. What is your true intent? If not before, then after. It may save you much trouble in your life.

I apologize if I have offended you. It wasn't my intent. The true intent, most likely, was to show off. So, I am as arrogant as I said you are. Forgive me.

AG: "Don't believe it. Test it."

Spoken like a true atheist, AG! Bravo! Maybe we're having an effect on you.

Don, going back to our discussion. Linda might not believe it, but I did give what you said a lot of thought.

DB: "Awesome. I don't believe that god exists. Let's do an experiment, shall we? You pay to your god that I am converted to Christianity today. According to your Bible (Matt 7:7, Matt 17:20, Matt 21:21, Mark 11:24, John 14:12-14, Matt 18:19) prayer works. I WANT you to convert me this way, so there is no bogus "free will" excuse. If you fail, we've proven that the Bible is false or Jesus is a fraud."

Before we pray, let's examine our true intentions. First, do you really want to be converted? If you want to be converted, you lie that you are a "hard-core atheist". One of these statements must be a lie. Why would God grant a request based on a lie? What you truly want is me to pray and my prayer to fail. I'm sure, if I pray, God WILL grant your TRUE wish. So, if anything, it will just confirm that prayer works. Second, why do you want the prayer to fail? It has nothing to do with God, atheism, faith or truth. You said it yourself - "so there is no bogus excuse". You want to corner your opponent - simple selfish intent. Third, what motive do you suggest to me for my prayer? DB: "If you are successful, you can crow about how you converted a hard-core atheist. " So, you suggest me to pray to satisfy my ego. Nice. This is exactly the kind of prayer never answered. You have not a slightest faith that this will work, neither do I. How can it work? Didn't you quote Matthew 21:21: "...Truly I tell you, IF YOU HAVE FAITH AND DO NOT DOUBT,..."? What have you proven? A few biblical points, if anything.

This is the same request as "jump off the cliff and see if the angels would save you." Classic. "It is also written: 'Do not put the Lord your God to the test.'" Lame cliche Christian excuse? That's what it is to unbelievers. They pray without faith, with corrupt intentions, and wonder "why my prayers do not work?"

If you have children, you should understand what requests are, usually, satisfied by a father and what are, usually, ignored or even punished for. Those of basic necessities, emotional comfort, protection, encouragement, help, are, usually, satisfied. Selfish demands, whims, power-struggle and limit-testing requests, requests accompanied with threats "give me this now or else...", are usually frowned upon. What kind of request is yours?

DB: "Either way, your God is probably a fraud, too."

"Probably"... You sound like a "hopeful" atheist. So, you are not sure?

DB: "If you don't participate, then you are a fraud who lacks the courage of your convictions."

I guess, I am supposed to feel challenged in my faith and start coming up with excuses... "If you are the Son of God, turn these stones into bread." [If you don't participate, then you are a fraud.] Can modern atheists come up with a better argument than 2000 years old manipulation attempts?

Napoleon Hill in "Think and Get Rich" explains well how faith and prayer work. It's a secular book, - the faith is not in God, and "prayer" is called "auto-suggestion". The author suggests to use them to get rich - nothing to do with religion, but makes the point. Collective and individual mantras repeated multiple times may lead people to start perceiving their beliefs as reality. This is used in propaganda or advertising every day. So, if you pray for a material thing which you *know* is false (create a perpetual engine, etc.) or out of selfish motives (to win a million in a casino), these prayers will fail. Perception cannot change laws of physics. That's a way to insanity. But if you pray for subjective things (forgiveness, love, consolation, emotional comfort, peace, wisdom, spiritual strength to achieve certain things, to change how you or others view things, to change human motivations, attitudes, or desires), those prayers, certainly, can, and are granted very frequently. There is nothing "supernatural". Jesus never prayed to move a mountain for the sake of it. He prayed to heal people, to calm the storm to save people, to wither the leaves of a fig tree that did not bear fruit to teach a point to his disciples, and these things were granted. The only time he prayed for himself was "Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.", and the answer was "no", even to Jesus.

DB: "The 11-year old kid who wants to be a successful fashion designer doesn't just wake up as a 50-year old success based on his faith, as you would seem to imply. The kid works at it and builds up smaller successes and confidences along the way. It's not magic. It's passion and work."

I don't imply what you mentioned. I said that the kid had faith, and this faith and will provided a way. There is nothing supernatural in the way faith and prayer work.

DB: "Crediting a god for the fruit of someone's hard work would seem to be theft."

Christians believe that "all honor and glory" already belongs to the Almighty Father. If the kid is a Christian and willfully gives credit for his success to God, it's not "theft", it's humility. Authors often give credit for their books to their parents, wives, etc. It's a simple act of acknowledgment and love. But if I put a gun to the author's head and ask him to give thanks to the Lord - that's fundamentally wrong. I cannot agree with you more. And, I admit, many believers do this. You cannot force anyone into your idea of heaven. You cannot create love by violence. Atheists, by the way, are not better. This is exactly what communists did. They used "Communist party" in place of God, however.

DB: "Humans are fallible and even the faith-head is never completely sure he hasn't been duped by the Devil."

Absolutely. Humans are full of sin. Christians, in the first place, because they boast that they know what's good.

It's ironic, but "Christianity" today became, for the most part, what it was meant to stand against - a dogma, a dead law without faith, full of hypocrisy, observing meaningless rite and traditions without understanding, worshiping without spirit. Matt 23:27 "Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean." Isn't this what most Christians are today? Atheists today try to play the same role as Christians were meant to play 2000 years ago. They stand up against the church hypocrisy. But why invent the wheel? What's wrong with the true spirit of Christianity? What you criticize is the hypocrisy, the dogma, the arrogant intent to force beliefs upon others, to pass moral judgement on people who are not even Christians, sinful corruption stemming from the man-made rules (priest celibacy leading to child molesting is not a biblical command - it's a man-made rule) followed by attempts to cover it up. But don't you pass moral judgement yourself? Don't you try to force your beliefs on others? Watch your true intents, search your own heart, for you will become what you hate.

Corruption within the Christian church is as old as the church itself. Read 1 Corinthians 5: "It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that EVEN PAGANS DO NOT TOLERATE: A man is sleeping with his father's wife. And you are proud! Shouldn't you rather have gone into mourning and have put out of your fellowship the man who has been doing this?" Where does Paul approves of it or tries to hush? And, by the way, he does acknowledge that you don't have to be a Christian to have moral values.

And further down, in verse 12: "What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. "Expel the wicked person from among you." AG: What business is it of Christians to judge atheists, Muslims, or Buddhists? Stone your own sin first, then deal with sin inside your church. Then, maybe, others will look at you and see something special. That's what the New Testament says. Is this a hypocritical teaching? It's when people read this and do otherwise - that's hypocrisy doing more harm to the church than any atheist would ever do because it turns people away from Christ.

Sin breeds sin. If you teach your children not to smoke and smoke yourself, they will figure out your fraud very fast. And that will go for other stuff too including all of the Bible. The more rules you try to teach this way, the more they will turn away from them. It's better not to teach any rules, but live a moral life. Aren't atheists trying to make this point? But how is it different from true Christianity? "Everything is permissible for me" - but not everything is beneficial." 1 Cor 6:12. Isn't this how atheists say how they can live a moral life without the dead laws? Neither existence nor non-existence of God can be proven. That's why it's called "belief". That's the basic point of disagreement. The rest of the argument seems useless to me - I see both sides in perfect agreement "in spirit". Even when Christians and atheists start pointing out facts to each other, the facts and their behavior are the same.

From: AG Don, going back to our discussion. Linda might not believe it, but I did give what you said a lot of thought.

DB: "Awesome. I don't believe that god exists. Let's do an experiment, shall we? You pay to your god that I am converted to Christianity today. According to your Bible (Matt 7:7, Matt 17:20, Matt 21:21, Mark 11:24, John 14:12-14, Matt 18:19) prayer works. I WANT you to convert me this way, so there is no bogus "free will" excuse. If you fail, we've proven that the Bible is false or Jesus is a fraud."

Before we pray, let's examine our true intentions. First, do you really want to be converted? If you want to be converted, you lie that you are a "hard-core atheist". One of these statements must be a lie. Why would God grant a request based on a lie? What you truly want is me to pray and my prayer to fail. I'm sure, if I pray, God WILL grant your TRUE wish. So, if anything, it will just confirm that prayer works. Second, why do you want the prayer to fail? It has nothing to do with God, atheism, faith or truth. You said it yourself - "so there is no bogus excuse". You want to corner your opponent - simple selfish intent. Third, what motive do you suggest to me for my prayer? DB: "If you are successful, you can crow about how you converted a hard-core atheist. " So, you suggest me to pray to satisfy my ego. Nice. This is exactly the kind of prayer never answered. You have not a slightest faith that this will work, neither do I. How can it work? Didn't you quote Matthew 21:21: "...Truly I tell you, IF YOU HAVE FAITH AND DO NOT DOUBT,..."? What have you proven? A few biblical points, if anything.

This is the same request as "jump off the cliff and see if the angels would save you." Classic. "It is also written: 'Do not put the Lord your God to the test.'" Lame cliche Christian excuse? That's what it is to unbelievers. They pray without faith, with corrupt intentions, and wonder "why my prayers do not work?"

If you have children, you should understand what requests are, usually, satisfied by a father and what are, usually, ignored or even punished for. Those of basic necessities, emotional comfort, protection, encouragement, help, are, usually, satisfied. Selfish demands, whims, power-struggle and limit-testing requests, requests accompanied with threats "give me this now or else...", are usually frowned upon. What kind of request is yours?

AG, I need to ask you a few things: Do you believe that prayer for effect is possible? I mean, can you pray for something and have your god actually do that which you pray? Second, do you believe that God knows the future with equal clarity to the past? Does this knowledge represent that which is called "his plan"?

Most Christians I've ever known believe, selectively of course, that their god answers prayers that are requests in ways that are both obvious and inspirational. But they also believe that their god knows the future and has a plan for us. They also believe that their god is perfect which means that his plan, and his knowledge of the future, are perfect.

So, if god is perfect and his plan is perfect and he knows exactly what is going to happen--not what *might* happen but what *will* happen--then why would you ever pray for some effect? Whatever it is will either happen or it won't. Say you pray for you son to get home safely. Either your son will get home safely or he won't. God, alone knows. The only result you are looking for is safely. But god might know, and have it in his plan, that the boy will die on the way home. You can't seriously being asking god to change his mind and make sure the boy gets home safely, can you? Isn't any request for god to change his mind the height of arrogance? Why wouldn't every prayer ever said be, "thank you god, may I have another?" Or, since god knows what's in your mind, anyway, no praying at all. If you are thankful, sad, afraid, or needful, god already knows it. And, of course, god already knows exactly what is going to happen and can't change it so praying that Aunt Matilda will get over her gout or that it will rain in Texas or whathaveyou is utterly pointless. And yes, if he knows what will happen he can't change it else he didn't know what would happen in the first place. Rinse, lather, repeat. It's the age-old problem of omnipotence vs. omniscience.

And see, back when I was a Christian, I used to sincerely pray each night this simple prayer--please, God, protect and care for those who can't protect themselves. Don't let any parents or care-givers harm any children. In Jesus' name, I pray. Of course the next day or so I'd invariably hear about a women who put her kids in her car and drove them into a lake and drowned them. Or someone who put their baby in a microwave and cooked them to death. Or even a story about a boy in church on a sunday that was killed by a stray bullet fired thousands of yards away. And on and on and on...

This prayer was a sincere request by a young, naive Christian and was never fulfilled. Of course it would have required god to "out" himself and be present in our lives in a tangible way--just like Don's prayer request to convert him contrary to his wants--something that God supposedly did to Saul by blinding him and changing him, forever, into Paul, the apostle, in direct contradiction to Paul's free will. So why not convert Don in the same way? Cause it would make god not absent and that god can't do. The Christian god is just as absent as every god in human history.

Any god sufficiently absent is indistinguishable from fiction. You have not refuted this statement.

Mark,

You are right. Believing in God or not, praying or not will not change the material reality. But it may change MY PERCEPTION of the material reality (spiritual reality, so to speak), and, through that, affecting YOUR actions, change the material reality itself. So, I am right too.

"Ying-yang", "unity and struggle of the opposites" (Hegel, Marx, et al.), "we are alive because He died" (Christianity, without a specific reference), "chicken or egg?", "half-empty, half-full". We can ride on this philosophical merry-go-round forever, until we get dizzy. Faith means just stopping and getting on with life. Atheism means just stopping and getting on with life too, just on the other side.

I meant, "affecting MY actions". Poor style. Apologies.

Sorry for the slow response. I am a reasonably successful person, but I haven't figured out how to do it with wishful thinking or faith. I only know how to do it with hard work.

With regard to my request for you to pray for my conversion, you misrepresented my request. I wanted you and your god to do something. Anything. I don't want to convert to Christianity because all of the evidence I've examined tells me it's a malicious con game. I could be wrong, however, so the door is still open to new evidence. You could have prayed to your god and he could have given you an ironclad argument to post on this forum. Heck, it'd be a miracle if I heard just a new argument, even if it were full of holes. If your god was omniscient, he could have provided some evidence of his existence. None of that happened. You dropped off for a few days and your god never contacted me. I consider this a failure. Meanwhile, you're busy with rationalizations. I'm not interested in spin.

You claim that my test was selfish. I see no benefit to me for my becoming a believer. I see a benefit for Christianity in my conversion. Doesn't god like to humble proud folks like me? It was a selfless wager, from my perspective. On the other hand, have you or your fellow Christians ever prayed to end a disease? What came of that? Nothing. Christianity has ended no diseases, but instead caused suffering through oppression of people and the suppression of science. We have a saying that "nothing fails like prayer."

You claim that your god isn't testable. There are no weasel clauses in the context of the quotes I sent you. You are agreeing with me that either Jesus is a liar or he was misquoted and the Bible is not accurate. Thank you for agreeing with the point I was trying to make, even if it was a backasswards way of doing it. Again, why should I trust a holy book that's filled with lies? Why do you?

Then you claim that your god answers all prayers, except when he doesn't. What an awesome god. You know, my left shoe has that property, too. When I pray to it, it often doesn't answer. It must be because its intelligence is so inscrutable, I just can't understand the reasons why. My left shoe is better than your god in a couple of respects, too. First, it actually does something. It protects my left foot. Its followers haven't murdered millions of people like the followers of your god. My left shoe exists in the real world, unlike your god. Now, given that I have my left shoe, why do I need your god?

With regard to Napoleon Hill and autosuggestion, it's a fraud and a convenient way to blame the victim. Take a look at these "prosperity gospel" ministries and see who's really getting rich. It's the con-artist ministers. The book "The Secret" is another aspect of this same fraud.

AG: 'Christians believe that "all honor and glory" already belongs to the Almighty Father. If the kid is a Christian and willfully gives credit for his success to God, it's not "theft", it's humility.'

So you're saying that all of the killing, torture, oppression, persecution, thuggery, hate, and lies of Christians are properly credited to your god. I believe you were denying it earlier. As I recall, you were offering a "heads I win, tails you lose" sort of thing with god, where he gets credit for all the good stuff but none of the bad. I detect a con game.

All con games I know involve some element of theft. I see Christianity as no different. If the person being conned wants to play along, that's testament to how good the con game is, not to the truth of the matter. What evidence do you have for your god's existence, let alone any of these wild claims that he deserves credit for all this stuff? Earlier, you couldn't point at a single testable thing that god does? What an amazing bunch of garbage.

AG: "Corruption within the Christian church is as old as the church itself." Amen. Belief without evidence is the foundation of every con. As long as "faith" is a tenet of Christianity, it will be corrupt, as it will always serve as a mechanism to unite the credulous and the manipulators. As long as people think they have some advantage for selling out their fellow man, to appease some god, they will do so gladly. Because this is a core tenet of Christianity, it will forever be evil.

My eyes glazed over with the Bible quotes. I don't get my morality from a genocide manual, so I lost interest. Sorry. "Sin" is a concept that is part and parcel of the Christian con game, so please don't use the word if you'd like to convince me of something. I have no interest in "saving" anything from Christianity. By its fruits we know it. It has failed the reality test.

Regarding your references to the studies.

DB: "When a belief makes false predictions or causes harm, maybe it's a false belief. Again, how many people have to be murdered based on Biblical belief before you question its veracity? Maybe it satisfies some sense of hedonism with the individual believer. That would explain its popularity. Objectively, Christianity is NOT good. Look at this study (http://moses.creighton.edu/JRS/2005/2005-11.html). It shows that religious belief is correlated with a number of social ills: homicides, teen suicides, infant mortality, lower life expectancy, sexually transmitted diseases, teen abortions, and teen pregnancies. Other studies have shown that secular nations have higher rates of happiness. Can you find the objective good in religious belief? I can't."

The only strong correlation I see in this study is to infant mortality. The other "correlations" are far stretched. E.g. homicide rates. Take out US - a huge out-lier, and you will be left with no correlation. Many plots do not show correlation at all. Correlation does not prove cause-effect relationship. How about basic education and hygiene? In Europe, I have never seen mothers picking up a fallen pacifier from the floor in a supermarket and sticking it back into the baby's mouth. I have never seen children licking floors in supermarkets as I did in the U.S. People rarely sit on the ground waiting for a bus. By the way, US also happens to be the only country where to bear firearms is a constitutional right (as it should be). The purpose of the study was to "look at these issues" with the intent to find explanation why Christian majority in the U.S. have a hard time accepting evolution.

I don't know why American Christians are so worried that without God morals will fall apart? If morals are from God, wouldn't He uphold them? This fear is but a lack of faith.

Percentage of people who "Take Bible literally" is a measure of hypocrisy in society. To take Bible literally, you have to stone adulterers, perform strange rituals with food and observe Sabbath, not Sunday. I agree that level of hypocrisy directly correlates with sinful behavior. Turning religion into dogma and imposing dead laws on people who do not accept them, breeds hypocrisy. It is true... to any teaching. Same happens to atheism turned into dogma and state teaching (communism). Any direct correlation of sinful behavior with religion would support this point. This is the nature of this world. Things turn from feet onto their heads and back, getting replaced by their opposites.

NT condemns hypocrisy in so many places that I didn't even count. "The man who says, "I know him," but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him." 1 John 2:4 "Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother is still in the darkness." 1 John 2:9 "If anyone says, "I love God," yet hates his brother, he is a liar." 1 John 4:20. There are many more similar quotes in the New Testament. The point - "Christians" who do abortions, kill, commit adultery, contract STD through sexual immorality, have nothing to do with Christ. Am I any different? Do I give all my property to the church? No. I am in the first ranks of the hypocrites. Don't tell me you live by what you think is right. I just pointed out several lies in what you write here. I'll address your "conflict of interest" issue in a separate post. It's hypocrisy that causes people to kill each other in the name of God. The Christian teaching is OK. The communist teaching also looks fine. It's the practice that sucks. I am not as brainwashed as you may think. I grew up an atheist. If I had a chance to be brainwashed, it's by Soviet atheist propaganda and school system. I accepted Christianity conscientiously, because it makes more sense to me than atheism.

DB: "Read this article and the study it references (http://news.uchicago.edu/article/2009/11/30/study-believers-inferences-about-god-s-beliefs-are-uniquely-egocentric)." (Let me know if you need a link to the study.) It confirms the idea that people make up their own god - nothing more than a puffed up ego. If there were a real god that people were praying to, don't you think they'd get the same answer? Ditto for why is there 30,000+ Christian sects that all disagree on core doctrine? Answer: they can't all be right, but they CAN all be wrong."

OK. People believe that what they believe is true and they conclude (sometimes erroneously) that their beliefs are same as God's beliefs. I don't need medical equipment to agree. Well, yeah. If people did not believe that their beliefs are true, they would not believe it. Would they? What's wrong with believing? Everyone believes in one thing or another, even atheists. The more I think about it, the more laughable the whole discussion becomes. I still believe God exists, you still believe whatever you believe. Why argue at all?

I'll tell you why atheists argue with Christians. Because people feel insecure and threatened in their beliefs. Christians feel threatened that evolution theory will cause people to stop believing in God and morals will fall apart. The cause for the fear is lack of faith. Why should I feel threat to my faith from evolution or atheism? The only thing that can threaten my faith is my own sin (fear, pride, etc.). This is why I do not feel urge to respond to your challenges to prove my faith. To whom? To you? Why bother. To myself? What kind of faith is it if it needs proof? Now, atheists feel threat from Christians. And rightfully so. Why don't we all, Christians and atheists, deal with our own morality, beliefs, etc. and then mess with others?

Have a nice day. It was a nice discussion and God save me from Linda's wrath.

AG,

If the Christians have so much faith in their prayers why do they call ambulances or go to hospitals? If you believe God can do anything why call the fire department or the police? The answer is because you don't want to die.

Why would god come to Earth and heal only one man of blindness why didn't he make blindness impossible if he wanted to impress people, hunger, disease and babies with cancer. The story is not believable because it's fraudulent.

You abound with superstition and religious convictions. Why don't you would ask questions, and look for answers in more than one place. This is Christian apologetics and nothing but. More to the point, you have no proof, no objective evidence, and no reason to assume anything. I don't know what you think an atheist is, but it's not someone who had an instance of uncertainty. We have thoroughly investigated Christian claims; it's history of lies, fraud and forgery. Along with it's history of enslavement, torture and imprisonment of those in dissent.

Religion is the biggest ponzi scheme of them all. They collect form you while your alive but you can only collect when you die.

Many people know prayer is useless but they do it to call attention to their piousness instead of taking action to solve the problem. so I don't have time to put on a show of piousness. Sorry!

AG wrote:

"I'll tell you why atheists argue with Christians. Because people feel insecure and threatened in their beliefs. Christians feel threatened that evolution theory will cause people to stop believing in God and morals will fall apart. The cause for the fear is lack of faith. Why should I feel threat to my faith from evolution or atheism? The only thing that can threaten my faith is my own sin (fear, pride, etc.). This is why I do not feel urge to respond to your challenges to prove my faith. To whom? To you? Why bother. To myself? What kind of faith is it if it needs proof? Now, atheists feel threat from Christians. And rightfully so. Why don't we all, Christians and atheists, deal with our own morality, beliefs, etc. and then mess with others?"

I want every Christian (and muslim, hindu, jew, etc.) to dissuade themselves of a belief in god. I believe that the world would be a much better place without unsubstantiated belief in the supernatural. You may be a fairly niggling irritant, on the scale of irrational believers, but you are still professing a desire to maintain your belief system in the face of evidence that it is no different than any other fictional supernatural belief system from man's history. You say that the baggage inherent in Christianity is irrelevant and that human morality is based upon the Christian god. For this to be true you'd have to prove the existence of god or show that bible is the only methodology of morality. The first is not proven--absent god--and the second is false because biblical morality can be shown to be immoral and there are secular societies that are functioning quite well morally and otherwise without religion.

Is Christianity even moral at all? No. Someone can lead a good life, be a good father, husband, and family member, doing good for humanity and die without be able to accept the tenets of Christianity and according to the religion, be damned to an eternity, paying for crimes he didn't commit. At the same time someone can be a despicable human being, committing adultery, raping, pillaging, abusing his children, committing a great many crimes against humanity and as long as he gets right with god and asks forgiveness, he will be rewarded for an eternity, never paying at all for his transgressions against mankind. How moral is that? A christian can spend their young years doing drugs, having pre-marital sex, running amok and just doing anything and everything they want with the expressed understanding that they have plenty of time before they die to be forgiven and get rewarded. Is that a blueprint for living a moral life? Christianity says that somebody has to die horribly for god to forgive us. Is that a moral system? Why can't god just forgive?

Nope. I'm much better off when I rejected all things religious. I didn't lose my moral compass when I did so, by the way. And I think that a non-religious based morality, not based upon divine reward and punishment, is far superior to a religious one. And I would argue, I am arguing, that basing your life on a fictional deity, but only those aspects of said deity that agree with your moral compass you have learned from living and prospering in our society--you don't own slaves, beat your children to death, or murder your neighbor for working on the sabbath--is unnecessarily cluttered and intellectually dishonest.

Just realize that you don't need a god to tell you right from wrong and move on. The god is fictional so you're being told right from wrong by iron-age ignorants and disregarding much of what they say anyway because it doesn't agree with your own society-driven morality.

AG,

This will have to be a brief response. Sorry.

With regard to the Greg S. Paul study, it went through peer review and that process would have flushed out the problems you think you found. There is measurable correlation or that claim wouldn't have stood. The US is unusual, but can't be discounted because it represents 300M people, not noise. It has been expanded on in this study (http://www.epjournal.net/filestore/EP07398441_c.pdf) and the homicide question was studied further in this article (http://sitemason.vanderbilt.edu/files/l/l3Bguk/RELIGHOM.pdf).

You say that correlation doesn't prove causation. That is very true. The study does blow away the myth that religion is somehow necessary to make a good society. Christianity has a better marketing department than it does a reality-checking department.

AG: "I don't know why American Christians are so worried that without God morals will fall apart? If morals are from God, wouldn't He uphold them? This fear is but a lack of faith."

How well has he done so far? You would think that Christians would be sufficiently motivated by the perpetual orgasm thing to really follow their god's wishes. Supposedly, they can communicate with this Author of morality. Why is it that they are so much more efficient at killing than their non-believing counterparts, who have none of these alleged moral advantages?

Religious leaders have nothing real to offer anyone, but they want to keep their power. Once people figure out that they can have a better society without religion, they will abandon it. Look at what's happening with Ireland abandoning their Catholic faith. I think it's a great thing. Religious leaders have everything to lose when their flocks disappear. They will have to get honest work. They are the ones hyping the fear.

AG: "What's wrong with believing?" As long as you accept responsibility for your beliefs, nothing is wrong with it. When false beliefs lead to harm shouldn't we try to eradicate them?

Atheists argue with Christians to try to change harmful beliefs. Christians, I think, desperately want to believe they're going to get their perpetual orgasm and they will fling anything in the atheists' path to hold on to that belief. This is why apologetics seems to be founded on lies, logical fallacies, and emotional manipulation.

Don, Mark, Linda,

Let's put it to rest. I would like to make peace with you. I don't like to be called a "swirly-eyed meat-head" and the like. But then, as I think of it, this is well-deserved. By accusing you of arrogance, I was just as arrogant. Linda is right that I tend to think that my opinion or knowledge on any subject has any value. It is, in fact, possible to have several degrees and be ignorant, or grow up in a country and know not its history. I apologize for any sarcasm or rudeness in my posts. Linda, you got your facts on communism straight, and your knowledge of scientific facts and theories is, indeed, very impressive. I would consider my mission on this forum accomplished if I could convince you not to insult anyone in the future, regardless of the perceived level of stupidity and arrogance.

I agree to almost everything you, guys, say here. I agree that "there is no scientific evidence of God or gods". I would like to humbly note that this is, about, the only factual thing we can say about God without entering the realm of speculations and "beliefs". Won't you agree? So, one cannot say "there is God" or "there is no God" without saying "I believe" or "I don't believe". Given the absence of scientific data on the subject, it's impossible to argue one way or another in a scientific way. Arguing for God without data is insulting to the intellect of an atheist - I understand that. Arguing against God without data should be equally insulting, don't you think?

Next, I completely agree with Linda that "members of any religion are hypocrites". I have not studied all religions and I do not claim to be an expert, even on Christianity. But I strongly agree that many Christian churches "on the outside appear to people as righteous, but on the inside are full of hypocrisy and wickedness." I have some hope that Linda might agree with this half-quote, even though it is attributed to Christ speaking about the religion of the time. There are plenty of similar sayings throughout the Bible including the book of Isaiah and 1 Corinthians. So, even Christ is not original in this opinion, and corruption existed in the Christian church starting from the first century A.D. It's ironic that, over the centuries, Christianity was distorted and perverted to the point that it became what it was originally against - a dead law, a ritual without spirit.

I also agree with Linda that, in practice, communism in the Soviet Union, was very different from the theory laid out by Marx and Engels. This seems to be the point of Linda's statement "Marxism has nothing to do with the Russian communist system or China's communist system." I apologize if I got it wrong again. In public, Stalin confessed to be an atheist (this is as much as I can say about his religious beliefs). Linda says, he was a "Christian pig". I will not argue. One way or another, he did not uphold neither Christianity nor Marxism. This makes him a hypocrite. A great idea and a great theory, yet again, was taken by the hypocrites, perverted, corrupted, turned on its head, and used to commit atrocities. Please, note, that this time the idea was based on atheism.

Hypocrites can take ANY idea, turn it upside down, and use to commit atrocities to satisfy their lust for power or whatever corrupt interests. Are we in agreement on this? This is achieved through creating a cult with blind fanatical followers. Whether Nazism was based on Christianity or something else, it was, very much, a cult. It had all the same features - hypocrites at the top and blind fanatics at the bottom. Don has rightfully pointed out the hypocrisy of the "get rich" teachings. Note that the original ideas can be very noble in nature or very selfish or downright evil. That's not the point. Regardless of the underlying idea, the problem is with hypocrites and their corrupt intentions.

Mark, read yourself: "I want every Christian (and Muslim, Hindu, Jew, etc.) to dissuade themselves of a belief in god. *I believe* that the world would be a much better place without unsubstantiated belief in the supernatural." AG: "Lack of evidence" is just that - "lack of evidence". How can it be used to substantiate any belief? And isn't a "belief" unsubstantiated by definition? Don: "As long as you accept responsibility for your beliefs, nothing is wrong with it. When false beliefs lead to harm shouldn't we try to eradicate them?" What both of you just said can be easily turned into a doctrine and a license to kill. There is one tiny step. So, even in these statements, you are not different from Christians, Muslims, or any others who "believe" that the world would be a much better place without people who "believe" otherwise. The very idea to eradicate other people's beliefs (harmful or not) is dangerous and can (and did) lead to even greater harm. I'm glad that Don acknowledged that "faith" with "responsibility" is OK. May be "responsibility" is the key word, not "faith"?

I agree that a man does not need God or religion to be moral, "love his neighbor", and "do to others as he would like them do to him". This is very true. We are all humans and share the same joys, pain, and suffering - point taken. I could quote Mark, Don, and others from this forum on that. And, again, this does not contradict Christianity. I can quote Bible on that also. This is exactly why, according to the Bible, Christ picked a Samaritan for his famous parable. And this is exactly why Christ is not physically present on Earth forever for a selfish reason to "impress people" and prove that he exists (many things might have been great, but they just aren't). And this is exactly why Christians believe in God's humanity (taking a human form, suffering, and dying). Jesus (if he existed) was no different than you and me. In a sense, "Jesus 'lives' in you and me". It's just a symbolic way of saying that people are perfectly capable of being moral without the law of Moses, without circumcision and other external attributes of "faith". I am not saying that all events in the NT took place or that Jesus is real. I may *believe* it, but it's my own business. Even if it's a "fairy tale", the symbolism of it carries very much the same value for me as atheism.

Marxist dialectic materialism is, very much, at work here. I don't claim to be an expert on it. But, as far as I understand the main idea, opposites are frequently identical in nature, but struggle with each other making progress possible. Atheism, as the opposite of Christianity and other religions, turns out to be in agreement with Christianity on many practical points. And yes, both can turn into something horrible when turned into a cult by hypocrites. Reading the posts in this forum just made me a better person and clarified what I believe and why. It was like looking into a mirror to see how full of hypocrisy I am.

An antidote to cults is proper education. I am almost sure, I'm quoting Linda on that. By no means I claim to say anything original. When people are exposed to multiple ideas, they are less likely to be turned into blind fanatics following a cult. By the way, the level of crime, abortions, teen pregnancies, and diseases in society will also be much lower if people, regardless of their beliefs, was aware of the consequences of their actions through education and took responsibility for them. Would you argue? However, "education", again, can be turned by hypocrites into "indoctrination" and used for creating a cult, reversing the effect. The only way out of this is to watch for hypocrisy inside my own heart. Then I would be able to see the hypocrisy inside others and help them out without hurting them. Again, this is in agreement with my Christian beliefs ("You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye.") And this is why I, again, apologize for insulting anyone here or returning sarcasm and ridicule.

AG: 'Arguing against God without data should be equally insulting, don't you think?"

Read "God: The Failed Hypothesis" by Victor Stenger. He provides ample scientific evidence against the Christian god. If you want to make claims about other gods, please define your terms. I don't have much issue with gods with whom humans aren't convinced they can make trades. Such gods don't raise the conflict of interest issues I raised with the Abrahamic religions.

AG: 'I'm glad that Don acknowledged that "faith" with "responsibility" is OK. May be "responsibility" is the key word, not "faith"?'

Awesome observation. Warms my heart.

I enjoyed the dialogue. It was refreshing debating a Christian without a lot of use of deception, logical fallacies, or emotional manipulation. That's what I get most of the time.

AG wrote:

"I agree to almost everything you, guys, say here. I agree that "there is no scientific evidence of God or gods". I would like to humbly note that this is, about, the only factual thing we can say about God without entering the realm of speculations and "beliefs". Won't you agree? So, one cannot say "there is God" or "there is no God" without saying "I believe" or "I don't believe". Given the absence of scientific data on the subject, it's impossible to argue one way or another in a scientific way. Arguing for God without data is insulting to the intellect of an atheist - I understand that. Arguing against God without data should be equally insulting, don't you think?"

I offered an argument for the fictitious (non-existence) of any god based upon the claim that most gods in history were made up by human beings and these made up gods share common traits that illuminate their fictitious nature. If any god you happen to believe in shares the same traits as those fictitious gods then it can, for all intents and purposes, be considered fictional. And that should give the believer in that god pause. Why worship something that is indistinguishable from a fictional deity?

It's all about intellectual honesty. Even if the fictional god is the most wonderful god imaginable and it gives you comfort and makes you feel good to worship it, follow it, in the final analysis, it's still imaginary. Acknowledge the good things about your fictional god, utilize them whenever they are apropos, but realize ultimately where they came from--man.

And my argument for this could be easily proven false about any particular god if that god, or the religion it spawned, actually showed evidence that it was different from known fictional gods and or was falsifiable in some concrete way. It's an observation about believing in the authenticity of any god that I think every believer should address.

AG wrote:

"Mark, read yourself: "I want every Christian (and Muslim, Hindu, Jew, etc.) to dissuade themselves of a belief in god. *I believe* that the world would be a much better place without unsubstantiated belief in the supernatural." AG: "Lack of evidence" is just that - "lack of evidence". How can it be used to substantiate any belief? And isn't a "belief" unsubstantiated by definition? Don: "As long as you accept responsibility for your beliefs, nothing is wrong with it. When false beliefs lead to harm shouldn't we try to eradicate them?" What both of you just said can be easily turned into a doctrine and a license to kill. There is one tiny step. So, even in these statements, you are not different from Christians, Muslims, or any others who "believe" that the world would be a much better place without people who "believe" otherwise. The very idea to eradicate other people's beliefs (harmful or not) is dangerous and can (and did) lead to even greater harm. I'm glad that Don acknowledged that "faith" with "responsibility" is OK. May be "responsibility" is the key word, not "faith"?"

This is a semantical game where you are saying that any belief is the same as any other belief--this is demonstrably false. But let's not play that at all. Change "belief" to, "am willing to argue with evidence, logic, and reason." Any statement is an argument. The shorthand that people use in everyday writing and conversation is "believe" when stating a position that they can support. Belief in god is also an argument--the argument I believe I have refuted with "absent god"--that if it can't be supported is a very weak argument. But Christians, and other religious people, believe--there's that word again--that they don't need to support their argument for it to have merit, plus, people outside the religion should respect their right to believe in the irrational. In what other aspect of life other than religion is this acceptable?

I can put forth a very strong argument for my position on religion and the harm it does the world outweighing any potential or perceived good. Your argument for Christianity is based upon...it doesn't do any harm and you can't prove that my god doesn't exist so I'm sticking with it whether it is real or not. The problem is, this works equally well--or equally poorly, for that matter--for any religion in the world. It's all indistinguishable from fiction and we don't give a shit.

Is that insulting? If so, I'm sorry. I just can't get past the point that people would examine something they believe, find it no different than fiction, and still cling to that fiction as if it were something based upon a reality.

AG said, "Let's put it to rest. I would like to make peace with you. I don't like to be called a "swirly-eyed meat-head" and the like. But then, as I think of it, this is well-deserved."

The comment was "I don't have anything in common with a swirly-eyed fanatic".

AG said, "By accusing you of arrogance, I was just as arrogant. Linda is right that I tend to think that my opinion or knowledge on any subject has any value. It is, in fact, possible to have several degrees and be ignorant, or grow up in a country and know not its history."

That is highly unlikely.

AG said, "I apologize for any sarcasm or rudeness in my posts. Linda, you got your facts on communism straight, and your knowledge of scientific facts and theories is, indeed, very impressive. I would consider my mission on this forum accomplished if I could convince you not to insult anyone in the future, regardless of the perceived level of stupidity and arrogance."

This is an example of Christian humility and morality I presume? Not when you fail to mention that you made the first nasty little comments. On "The Age of Earth" (because you were proven wrong) you commented that I was "getting things off the top of my head" when I was giving book titles, page numbers and the sources. You commented on this thread that I didn't have sources or an education and I should google something; and all the while you misspelled words and never gave any sources except bible babble and wikipedia. I do not have anything to apologize for. You have done the same thing on this thread that you have done on many others! Your humble pie act is ineffective, you're trying to convince someone that you should be able to deceive with god-fearing misinformation, and then insult those who disagrees with you, with impunity. AG said, "I agree to almost everything you, guys, say here. I agree that "there is no scientific evidence of God or gods". I would like to humbly note that this is, about, the only factual thing we can say about God without entering the realm of speculations and "beliefs". Won't you agree?"

What you are writing reminds me of what happens when the parents of a spoiled brat tells him that there is no Santa Claus and where all the gifts really came from. Real stores where real parents shop. The spoiled brat is throwing a fit, stomping his feet and insisting that Santa Claus is real. They can't prove that Santa Clause doesn't exist. There are numerous absurdities nobody can prove do not exist. That does not mean it's rational to believe they do exist.

AG said, "So, one cannot say "there is God" or "there is no God" without saying "I believe" or "I don't believe". Given the absence of scientific data on the subject, it's impossible to argue one way or another in a scientific way. Arguing for God without data is insulting to the intellect of an atheist - I understand that. Arguing against God without data should be equally insulting, don't you think?"

Assumptions can be educated guesses or ideas with some degree of evidence or research. Groundless claims are not based on educated guesses, research or evidence. The claim "god exists" would have to be proven. God does not exist is a response to a groundless claim. I'm not the one "lacking" you are. You're "lacking" proof and I don't have to "believe" something without proof. I am separating what is information from attempts to produce information. My response is not that I do not know; it's your claim is groundless with no testable evidence that I don't believe.

As science makes more discoveries that answer more questions, divine intervention is less and less believable, and that is not what happens when something is true. Things that are problematic in theories are discarded. The belief that god exists does not rest on logical proof or plausible evidence. A plausible tentative assumption or hypothesis may have a body of scientific theories, but if contradictions are found it will not become a theory. Scientists can't just apply "god" willy-nilly whenever there is something they don't understand; considering there is no possibility of falsifying a "god theory" that is so obscure that it is possible to shoo away any and all rebuttals. If the god theory were more specific it would be possible to dispute the theory, and that's why it is so vague, by taking away the testability of a theory you prevent anyone from proving it false. No known way to detect it; it's a mystery. There is no reason to merit something for never explaining a thing. Ancient primitive man knew nothing about science therefore, "man made him a god" to explain everything. And low and behold, along came scientists who denounced creation, with claims that were testable. However, instead of acknowledging that creation was proven invalid the followers tried to make science agree with their beliefs via pseudo-science. This has gone on throughout history. When scientific discoveries disprove theology theists simply erect a new assumption. Evolution is now considered a fact and a theory, and it does disprove creation. So some theists assumed a supernatural intervention caused evolution, and nobody can disprove the theory of "supernatural" evolution. When, in fact, there is no need for supernatural intervention in any theory. The only reason they try to attach supernatural intervention to the scientists work is to "save" god from invalidation; they take the work of scientists and introduce a needless factor (supernatural intervention) which has never been proven and cannot be falsified. They claim that nobody can disproved their (supernatural intervention theory) I guess not, but the fact is, nothing was created or designed and that should eliminate it as a possibility. Nobody can prove god isn't there because He is beyond testing, and that isn't a good thing, it is a defect. If there is no test that could clearly refute the theory it is not provable and it can not be considered true. Nobody can prove anything about nonsense, but that does not make it possibly true. A real truth is precise and could be disproved; if nothing disproves it then it is true. Genuine theories do not avoid jeopardizing their status as science by making it impossible to falsify them. The "god" theory cannot be true because it predicts "something" without any testable evidence.

AG said, "Next, I completely agree with Linda that "members of any religion are hypocrites". I have not studied all religions and I do not claim to be an expert, even on Christianity. But I strongly agree that many Christian churches "on the outside appear to people as righteous, but on the inside are full of hypocrisy and wickedness."

Christianity was false from the beginning and is based on a pack of lies; how moral could that be? The three major religions have pagan roots.

AG said, "I have some hope that Linda might agree with this half-quote, even though it is attributed to Christ speaking about the religion of the time. There are plenty of similar sayings throughout the Bible including the book of Isaiah and 1 Corinthians. So, even Christ is not original in this opinion, and corruption existed in the Christian church starting from the first century A.D. It's ironic that, over the centuries, Christianity was distorted and perverted to the point that it became what it was originally against - a dead law, a ritual without spirit." Those passages are anti-Semitic passages - you have to understand the motive! Paul's mission was to replace the Law or Judaism with Christianity.

AG said, "I also agree with Linda that, in practice, communism in the Soviet Union, was very different from the theory laid out by Marx and Engels. This seems to be the point of Linda's statement "Marxism has nothing to do with the Russian communist system or China's communist system." I apologize if I got it wrong again."

Those who have not been taught to think for themselves find it difficult to grasp anything that isn't "newspeak". They usually can't believe what they have been told is a lie and what they usually believe is from credulity not the actual facts.

AG said, "In public, Stalin confessed to be an atheist (this is as much as I can say about his religious beliefs). Linda says, he was a "Christian pig". I will not argue. One way or another, he did not uphold neither Christianity nor Marxism. This makes him a hypocrite. A great idea and a great theory, yet again, was taken by the hypocrites, perverted, corrupted, turned on its head, and used to commit atrocities. Please, note, that this time the idea was based on atheism. Hypocrites can take ANY idea, turn it upside down, and use to commit atrocities to satisfy their lust for power or whatever corrupt interests. Are we in agreement on this? This is achieved through creating a cult with blind fanatical followers. Whether Nazism was based on Christianity or something else, it was, very much, a cult. It had all the same features - hypocrites at the top and blind fanatics at the bottom."

The Russians had already abandoned subordination to the Russian Orthodox Church (religion) and the Tzar. Once Stalin was firmly seated in office, he restored the Russian Orthodox Church that supported his war effort. Stalin convened a council to elect a new church Patriarch. Then the Russian theological schools were opened. The Moscow Theological Academy Seminary was re-opened, after being closed since 1918. Stalin did not use atheism to gain control, but he did use religion after the revolution to accomplish his objective.

Christians have been trying to deny Stalin's and Hitler's obvious religious beliefs by turning a blind eye to all the evidence. The Catholic Church officially recognized Hitler's National Socialist State. The church absorbed Nazi ideals and preached them as part of their sermons, and in turn, Hitler placed Catholic teachings in public education. Hitler enacted doctrines of the Church as law. Catholic priests and Protestant ministers throughout Germany hated Jews. It is well known that Martin Luther hated Jews. Hitler spoke of his admiration for Martin Luther who wrote "On the Jews and their Lies" which inspired Jewish hatred. One major factor in the Holocaust was the Jews having an inferior status in Christian Austria and Germany.

AG said, "Don has rightfully pointed out the hypocrisy of the "get rich" teachings. Note that the original ideas can be very noble in nature or very selfish or downright evil. That's not the point. Regardless of the underlying idea, the problem is with hypocrites and their corrupt intentions."

The economic crisis has proven the falseness of prosperity ministry, however unfortunate it is, not before many dupes went bust waiting on their blessings. More Christians invested in ponzi schemes than any other group except for those running them. Religion has a long history of greed and conquest. (Deuteronomy 20:10-14) "As you approach a town to attack it, first offer its people terms for peace. If they accept your terms and open the gates to you, then all the people inside will serve you in forced labor. But if they refuse to make peace and prepare to fight, you must attack the town. When the LORD your God hands it over to you, kill every man in the town. But you may keep for yourselves all the women, children, livestock, and other plunder. You may enjoy the spoils of your enemies that the Lord your God has given you. The bible, a book of conquest; it's god helping people enslave, rape, murder, and plunder.

AG said, "AG: "Lack of evidence" is just that - "lack of evidence". How can it be used to substantiate any belief? And isn't a "belief" unsubstantiated by definition?"

Atheism is an absence of belief. Atheism because it is not a belief, a faith, a set of doctrines or dogmas and cannot be imposed on anybody.

AG said, "The very idea to eradicate other people's beliefs (harmful or not) is dangerous and can (and did) lead to even greater harm. I'm glad that Don acknowledged that "faith" with "responsibility" is OK. May be "responsibility" is the key word, not "faith"?

I didn't comment on that, but I personally believe it would not required anything more than better education, teaching the truth concerning religious writ and how to use the brain to figure something out, and that would exclude religion. No one should be expected to accept as the truth something that they have just been indoctrinated into believing. Programming is not reasoning or learning. Constant lectures or repeating tedium is not learning to reason. Religion was designed with the intention of creating a class of people that would be basically slaves. Every religion uses coercive tactics. Any form of controlling of thought involves some form of brainwashing. It is utterly and completely evil. I see no reason to be influenced by a god when many people's suffering is being ignored, and are not any better off worshipping it than they would be without it.

In terms of taking responsibility I think someone should take the responsibility for teaching abstinence as sex education. Sex education does in fact prevent pregnancy and the spread of infection and abstinence only does not. It is an example of withholding information and preventing people from thinking for themselves and taking responsibility.

AG said, "I agree that a man does not need God or religion to be moral, "love his neighbor", and "do to others as he would like them do to him". This is very true. We are all humans and share the same joys, pain, and suffering - point taken. I could quote Mark, Don, and others from this forum on that. And, again, this does not contradict Christianity. I can quote Bible on that also. This is exactly why, according to the Bible, Christ picked a Samaritan for his famous parable. And this is exactly why Christ is not physically present on Earth forever for a selfish reason to "impress people" and prove that he exists (many things might have been great, but they just aren't)."

First prove there was a Jesus then tell us why he never said anything that was original. The "love they neighbor" was in the literature long before Jesus and so was the Sermon on the Mount found in the book of Enoch 100 years before Jesus. There is nothing in the NT that is original because it isn't true. The parable of the Good Samaritan. The Samaritans were considered Jews by Jewish law or by the Jewish people. The Samaritans often acted as enemies of the Jewish people. Samaritans tried to destroy the Jews Temple and worked against the Jews with Roman authorities. The uncaring priests in the parable of the "Good Samaritan" were supposedly Jews. Jews would not travel through that area it was far too dangerous they went around to avoid it. The story is actually an anti-Semitic story intended to discredit the Jews.

AG said, "And this is exactly why Christians believe in God's humanity (taking a human form, suffering, and dying). Jesus (if he existed) was no different than you and me. In a sense, "Jesus 'lives' in you and me". It's just a symbolic way of saying that people are perfectly capable of being moral without the law of Moses, without circumcision and other external attributes of "faith". I am not saying that all events in the NT took place or that Jesus is real. I may *believe* it, but it's my own business. Even if it's a "fairy tale", the symbolism of it carries very much the same value for me as atheism."

Well, I don't believe it and I'm saying that on an atheist message board. If Christians or theists don't like that they don't have to read it. Therefore, what you are saying carries not weight with me. Everything you believe comes from the NT or OT and I don't believe any person (especially the criminally insane) is changed by Jesus magic. Arkansas's governor let a born again good old Christian boy out of prison (faith based parole) and he killed another women. Nobody has ever been made into a new person by magic. It takes real therapy. Education works with normal people. Religion is not teaching it is indoctrination mixed with threats and punishment and is not really beneficial in any way to disturbed people. AG said, "Marxist dialectic materialism is, very much, at work here. I don't claim to be an expert on it. But, as far as I understand the main idea, opposites are frequently identical in nature, but struggle with each other making progress possible.

The ideas concerning social justice originated by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels was known as 'Scientific Socialism'. Marx and Engels never wrote anything on dialectical materialism. Leon Trotsky wrote about Dialectical Materialism.

AG said, "Atheism, as the opposite of Christianity and other religions, turns out to be in agreement with Christianity on many practical points. And yes, both can turn into something horrible when turned into a cult by hypocrites. Reading the posts in this forum just made me a better person and clarified what I believe and why. It was like looking into a mirror to see how full of hypocrisy I am.

Marx wanted to wake people up not put them to sleep. Marx said, "religion is an opiate for the masses". He applied the same ideals of materialism that explain the laws of evolution (the world is not made from a "creation" event) but by a series of complex processes to Scientific Socialism, which go through a series of changes that come into being and pass away. Materialism is about the processes that shape our world (which fundies confuse with greed) it is the idea that the world is material and there is no supernatural world. This has nothing whatsoever in common with religiosity. Marxism isn't incompatible with any form of superstition. Trotsky wrote "The fundamental flaw in vulgar thought"; lies in the fact that it wishes to content itself with motionless imprints of reality which consists of eternal motion." Incidentally, it is highly unlikely that very many atheists in America are Marxist.

AG said, "An antidote to cults is proper education. I am almost sure, I'm quoting Linda on that. By no means I claim to say anything original. When people are exposed to multiple ideas, they are less likely to be turned into blind fanatics following a cult. By the way, the level of crime, abortions, teen pregnancies, and diseases in society will also be much lower if people, regardless of their beliefs, was aware of the consequences of their actions through education and took responsibility for them. Would you argue?

People can be told about the consequences without threats or coercion. Abstinence only does not teach one thing about reproduction, disease or protection. The only thing the people who want funding for programs like that care about is keeping people ignorant. People should be told the facts as soon as they start asking questions. Meaning scientifically with correct terms. Not silly made-up words and stories, especially talking snake stories. Studying and raising animals is one way to do this.

The very late start in the prevention of AIDS and the spreading of AIDS was the misinformation campaign of the 80's that only drug addicts, prostitutes and gays would have AIDS. Many scientists and doctors didn't believe this but the focus was on religious philosophy not on protection through education. The science and medicine were ignored because of people who wanted to believe AIDS was a plague sent by god to punish bad people. That's what happens when religious ideologies take the place of education. I don't think it is moral to ignore the fact that unmarried minors are getting pregnant and the numbers have gone up, which means they are having sex more.

AG said, "However, "education", again, can be turned by hypocrites into "indoctrination" and used for creating a cult, reversing the effect. The only way out of this is to watch for hypocrisy inside my own heart. Then I would be able to see the hypocrisy inside others and help them out without hurting them. Again, this is in agreement with my Christian beliefs ("You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye.") And this is why I, again, apologize for insulting anyone here or returning sarcasm and ridicule." It's not the atheists placing ideology above education; it is the religious fanatics that want to replace science with creationism and sex education with a religious philosophy that wouldn't actually protect people. Not being given facts and information is simply ignorant - it's not moral. Knowledge is power, but the only people who have consistently interfered with education have been those in favor of teaching "abstinence only" and "creation science" etc. in order to force their ideology on people. How about the hypocrisy of the ministers and politicians, who stirred up the biggest shit storms over homosexuality for years, so it seems, were gay. That must have slipped their minds. I guess it also slipped their minds that gay people cannot get married, so abstinence only would be pretty meaningless to them? I think the atheists would favor education over indoctrination, and spreading false ideas that only bad people will get AIDS. It's a punishment from god. Plenty of people who are not gay have died from AIDS, and many of them were children. Medical workers have become infected with AIDS from coming in contact with contaminated blood. Patients have gotten AIDS from blood transfusions and other procedure. I'm sure they will take responsibility for all of that.

The extremists do not teach they try to force or indoctrinate others with what they believe. All anyone can ever do is give information to people who are willing to listen. After that it is out of your hands. What they do with it is up to them.

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