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Atheism: The art of not-giving-a-shit

Posted on 10 January 2011

“Every man born unto this Earth is a sinner!”, the man exclaimed. “If you do not believe in Jesus, then you are a walking corpse!”

By Chin Wei Lien

Atheists gone wild

I WAS called a “walking corpse” by a complete stranger in the winter of 2009 in Buffalo, New York. Granted, I was a sleep deprived communications major at that point of time. But I didn’t think he was referring to my heavy eyebags or my… student attire.

“Every man born unto this Earth is a sinner!”, the man exclaimed. “If you do not believe in Jesus, then you are a walking corpse!”

The man was a pastor from a local community church, and he was directing the insult not personally at me for my lack of religious beliefs, but also to everyone in the vicinity who didn’t subscribe to his, apparently, non-zombie faith.

Like many historical leaders in old photographs and paintings, the man stood taller and spoke louder than the crowd of college students beneath his feet. Silhouette painted black forbodingly outside the Student Union, the man was perched on top of a tiny foldable stool and looked bigger and more authoritative than his booming voice.

As the messenger of God’s words, he clearly looked confident and on most days, he also had an audience.

I was in the mostly muted crowd when a heated debate erupted between the pastor and a group of over-enthusiastic college atheists. One Indian exchange student (thick accent and all) in particular, stood out.

“What about babies? Are babies born sinners? What sins have they committed?” he retorted, backed by cheers from the crowd.

But our man would not be fazed.

One of the many apocalyptic crackpots dotting the streets of New York.

With every rhetorical and hypothetical question thrown at the pastor, he would use the Bible as his own pillar of truth. God had apparently, wrote down the answers to every conceivable question in the universe and the atheists, cynical as they were, would not run out of questions.

As the back-and-forth squabble began to border on the inane, I began to wonder if there was a point for atheists to form small groups and organizations to protest against leaders of religious institutions. After all, atheists trying to preach about atheism is a little too, well, religious for my taste.

The word “religion” has the same root word as “ligament” and “ligature”, which means “to be bound together in one belief”. If the belief of non-belief, or atheism, transforms into an organized institution of believers, then what draws the line between atheism and all the other religions?

Banding together to tell others that there is no God is in the most rudimentary form, the same as banding together and telling others that there is one. Only, the latter marches under the flag of a church while the other marches under none.

In January of 2009, an atheist advertising campaign was launched on buses all across Britain, carrying the slogan “There’s probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life”. Essentially a fund-raising campaign, the advertisement ran on 200 buses and 600 vehicles in England, Scotland and Wales.

A similar incident occurred in February of 2010 when a group of atheists, agnostics and humanists, called the Secular Coalition of America, met up with the Obama administration in the White House to discuss issues of great concern to the secular movement. These issues include the protection of children from neglect and abuse, the ending of military proselytizing as well as the eradication of faith-based initiatives.

Comedian Adam Carolla said it best when he was invited onto an episode of Real Time with Bill Maher in February of 2010, a HBO talk show that features a panel of guests that discuss current events in politics and the media.

Atheism = "not giving a shit!"

“I don’t like it when atheists or atheism becomes a religion. A lot of people are having meetings, organizing and protesting when the whole point of being an atheist is to not give a shit!”

In truth, it doesn’t matter if someone wants to worship Jesus Christ, Buddha, the Sun God of Ra, Cthulhu or a rock – let them be. To say that atheism is the art of “not giving a shit” isn’t so much about celebrating ignorance and giving a shelter to avoid big questions of life, but more about knowing how far your responsibilities lie. We are responsible to ourselves when it comes to our spiritual beliefs, and that is as far as we need to bother ourselves with.

As much as atheists may feel the need to defend themselves from the discrimination and hostility of religious fundamentalists, it is important to note that in reality, we merely have the responsibility to respond to those that attend to shove their beliefs down our throats.

In this day and age, trying to convert religious individuals to atheism is like trying to stab a jelly onto the ceiling with a plastic fork – it’s not going to happen. The slogan for the atheist advertisement campaign, then, really should be this: Don’t give a shit about what others do or do not believe. Stop worrying and enjoy your life!

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  • Terrion

    “Don’t give a shit about what others do or do not believe. Stop worrying and enjoy your life!”

    Problem is, this might be all fine if the religious are just a minority amongst the population. However, when the religious a significant presence in politics or militarizing themselves(other words, terrorist), should atheists, or even people of other religions, not care?

    • Jianyue

      I think both Terrion and Wei Lien have valid points. How atheists behave would depend on the socio-political contexts in which these atheists live in. I know there are many atheists in China, Japan, Thailand for example, who generally don’t care about the ‘atheist’ label or what. It is not necessary because prosecution or marginalistion of atheists is almost non-existent. In this case, an atheist fully lets goes of religion when he really doesn’t care about religion at all. Its probably an ideal state of affairs.

      But in the American context, its different. Its a generally free country where the loudest voices get the most power. I know a lot of figures on the religious right have enormous lobby influence in Washington. They influence national policies which affect the lives of individual Americans. In this case, atheists in America have to speak up to survive. ‘Not giving a shit’ might not be realistic as an American atheist, especially when your future is threatened by lawsuits or loss of jobs. There is a rational reason for setting up atheist institutions to pool resources to protect oneself.

      Atheism is different from religious groups in a sense that groupthink is less likely (not completely unlikely though as atheists are still humans). But at least there is constant questioning in the process. Its more of a process of thinking rather than a fixed answer.

  • Chin Wei Lien

    I think the assumption here is that even when religious extremists, or terrorists as you’ve pointed out, are blowing up car bombs or themselves right outside your front door, atheists should just sit idly at home and do nothing about it. That certainly was not my intent at all. In the case of terrorists, it isn’t so much about personal beliefs and responsibilities but more about, well, our LIVES. Terrorism is really another way of forcefully telling others that they are right and you are wrong. I don’t believe in proactively going out there to campaign against religions – that’s wrong. Campaigning against terrorism, however, is another ball game altogether. Hell, it’s a completely different sport!

    As I’ve mentioned in the article, I think we are merely responsible for our own beliefs, and the world will be a much better place if we can stop telling others that their beliefs are wrong, which is essentially what terrorists do. Only, they do it with bombs and a twist of political intents. In fact, if you say that we shouldn’t sit around and wait for terrorists to attack us, isn’t that the same rhetoric as what terrorists would say? A few religious extremists coming together over tea one afternoon, talking about other countries being inherently and religiously evil, and then deciding that they shouldn’t just sit around and do nothing about it. Sometimes, it isn’t so much about whether or not we care to act upon injustice, but more about the fact that people take their beliefs way too far.

    I think we should care as far as what we believe in, until somebody decides to knock on your door and say that you should stop doing what you are doing because we disagree religiously. In fact, that is exactly what happened to me but, that’s a topic that I will write about in another article.

  • http://singaporeatheists.blogspot.com/ Alfred

    How about atheists meeting or gathering together for community?

  • http://vivitelaeti.blogspot.com/ Lim Teng Leong

    I totally disagree with your statement that atheists telling others there is no God are being “religious” and are similar to theists telling others there is one. We must first acknowledge that there is not the smallest shred of evidence supporting God’s existence. I know some of my fellow Christians can’t accept this even though they can’t come up with any evidence but we’ll leave them aside. I don’t blame atheists at all. Let’s put ourselves in their position. We see around us people who believe in fairies and pixies and ordering their lives around these entities. We see people killing because some ancient book they believe to have been written by fairies command violence or is so interpreted by some fairy believers. The time will come when they have to stand up and tell believers that fairies don’t exist. It’s illogical and incorrect to say that atheism is another religion. A better analogy is this. If religion can be viewed as an insanity (I mean anyone who believes in fairies or any other evidence-less entity must be a crackpot), atheists are more like psychiatrists. And I’m saying this despite the fact that I’m a devout Christian who serves every week in church. It’s just that I’m being perfectly objective here.

    • Chin Wei Lien

      With all due respect, I disagree with your disagreement, Teng Leong. As mentioned, the word “religion” does not necessarily mean that the said group of people have to have a superior being or God to worship. When you have a group of people coming together under the same umbrella, possessing the same belief (in this case, the non-existence of God) and organizing protests and meetings in order to achieve a certain goal, I think it qualifies as being a “religion” unto itself in the most rudimentary sense. Now, I don’t mean that atheists can form the equivalence of a church or to be registered as a religion in any country (Though there is a religion in the UK, I believe, that worships Jedis), it’s basic idea is the same.

      The analogy is fair, and I think it is valid. However, the major difference is this: Psychiatrists don’t go to patients, patients go to psychiatrists. You are not going to find psychiatrists going door to door and telling people that they have a mental problem. Similarly, I think that atheists (psychiatrists) shouldn’t be going around and telling people that their beliefs are wrong, and that they have been fooled into believing the fairies, the pixies, the talking snake and the old man with the big beard in the sky. Like I said, atheists shouldn’t be going around doing that because it is people’s right to believe whatever the hell they want to believe. However, like the way a patient approaches a psychiatrist, atheists should only respond to the questioning and doubts of believers when they need to respond. I am talking about a passive role here. Atheists should only react when need be. Half the problem religions have with each other is that they step on each others’ feet. My point is that maybe atheists don’t have to join the brawl. We should step back, take a look at the fight, and have a drink with whoever that decides to leave the fight too.

      It is interesting that you have used words like “fairies” and “pixies” despite the fact that you have your own faith. Is it possible to share with us why a belief that “does not have the smallest shred of evidence supporting God’s existence” is OK with you?

  • http://vivitelaeti.blogspot.com/ Lim Teng Leong

    One of the cardinal principles that I try to adopt for myself is objectivity. Too often we think only from our own point of view. It’s very easy to fall prey to this because, quite naturally, we must think our own beliefs are right and others wrong. Any Christian who thinks Buddhism is right and Christianity wrong would most certainly be a Buddhist. Where my beliefs are based on my upbringing and my family and my early childhood, I try to see that their validity hinges on these purely subjective experiences that I have. It’s very easy for me to do a quantum leap and say that since my family, my childhood experiences and my upbringing have made me a Christian, Christianity must be right. This applies to any belief in God. Ultimately, if a person is honest or rather, if he is willing to confront the truth, he has to admit that he is a Christian or Muslim or Buddhist because of factors which are far from objective and which cannot, even by the wildest imagination, confirm the existence of God, far less the God of his particular religion. This is something which I have noticed religious people either refuse to confront or simply have not thought about.

    What really puzzles me is the fact that a lot of religious people are taken by surprise when they are told that there is absolutely no independent reliable evidence for the existence of God. I don’t believe the yeti exists but at least there is “evidence” of hair samples which was subsequently disputed when carefully examined but at least there was some attempt at producing some evidence. Religious people, on the other hand, are perfectly contented with the total absence of evidence for the existence of God (in fact, the evidence in the natural world argues loudly against the existence of a benevolent God) and some are even prepared to die based purely on a belief in such an elusive, or should I say, improbable God.

    In the light of this, it is very hard for me to fault vociferous atheists. If 90% of humans believe that the tooth-fairy exists, I’m sure you and I will not remain silent and allow this insanity to continue unchecked. When I was a little boy, I thought that the religious tenets of other religions were not just incorrect but sometimes even ludicrous. It was only when I was 12 or 13 when I thought about the teachings of my own faith and I saw to my horror how wildly fictitious its claims were and I realised at that age that when you are in a belief system, you are somehow blind to its folly and errors however outrageous they may be.

    Atheists have as much right as religious people. Atheists have no right to stop believers for believing in the tooth-fairy but atheists have the right to tell a tooth-fairy believer that the fairy doesn’t exist. If you believe the moon is made of blue cheese, I surely have the right to give my reasons why the moon isn’t made of cheese and I can advertise on buses this fact.

    Atheists have challenged theists for a long time and to this very day, none of us theists have been able to come up with the smallest fragment of evidence for God’s existence, not even a yeti hair of evidence.

    But enough of defending atheists! I’ll now answer your question why a belief in God is OK with me if there isn’t the smallest shred of evidence for his existence. It’s OK for not just me but for the whole world. Easily 90% of the whole of humanity believes in some god and none of us can come up with an iota of evidence for God’s existence. And yet this evidence-less faith is OK for all of us. I know Richard Dawkins will say it’s because we’re barking mad. I can’t think of any other reason. Can you?

  • Raphael Wong

    Hmm,

    I shall resume my bad habit of responding to every post in a thread … 😀

    Terrion,

    I agree with you on militarizing. (But then, atheists can militarize too…)

    On the other hand, “care” for religious people having a significant position in politics ought to be taken objectively, i.e. their opinions should be given the proper respect and credence due to any opinion expressed in the public sphere. There is a somewhat deformed idea going around the West now that says that “secular” opinions can be expressed in public, but not “religious” opinions. I find that incredibly undemocratic.

    Jianyue,

    Yes, the Chinese and Japanese do seem to be perfectly mystified by the “atheist” label. And that is because the theist/atheist/agnostic distinction is something distinctive to the West, where the most strident of atheists do preach a form of intellectual nihilism.

    On the other hand, the “atheists” in China and Japan generally have an appreciation of their own culture and traditions, and these modes of thinking weave their way into Chinese and Japanese life, even if the overtly ceremonial aspects of religion are not practiced.

    As for Thailand, well, some people consider Buddhism as “atheist”.

    WeiLian,

    yes, people blowing up themselves in front of their front door is a distinct threat. But not religious person wants to blow themselves up at your front door, so using that as a characterization of religious people is a hasty generalization fallacy.

    Also, “terrorism” is a very elastic label. On an online dating site’s forum for example, one person called the Pro-Life position a “disgusting terrorism”. The Pope’s principled opposition to condoms in Africa is seen as “terrorism” by Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens. The Freedom from Religion Foundation in the USA goes the furthest: apparently every form of religious doctrine is “terrorism”.

    It would be interesting to hear of what you were doing which was religiously-offensive. Perhaps it really was offensive. If you were for instance, blasting Satanic Pop next to an Evangelical Household, I think it is legitimate for them to knock on your door and ask you to stop. In any case, more legitimate than an atheist asking a Christian neighbour to stop displaying crosses on his front lawn, because that is “religious discrimination”. (It is rather disturbing how unequal so-called “Equality” Laws are…)

    And incidentally, calling the theological debate within religions a “brawl” is adopting an attitude of hubris. I thought atheists were supposed to be humble?? The attitude that you seem to be taking is similar to that of the Ancient Romans who attended gladitorial fights (which the later Christian emperors banned).

    Oh, and IMHO, most Christians don’t believe in the “old man with a beard in the sky” caricature that is so popular with atheists and “free-thinkers” nowadays. It is kind of tiring to keep mentioning that.

    Alfred,

    Communities need activities to do, or they can’t stay together.

    Teng Leong,

    Nothing comes from nothing.

    Even an apparently “evidence-less” belief originates from somewhere. Where it comes from is a matter for folklorists to find out.

    Serving in Church every week does not alone make you a devout Christian. In fact, it seems more like you are an agnostic than a Christian.

    I believe that I can claim to be a Christian on objective philosophical grounds. Although, that will take an entire article to write. And many other Christian philosophers have done that too, the latest being the (misudnerstood) Rene Descartes.

    Whether you find proof of God’s existence does depend on what definition of God you are using. If you are buying the atheists’ clap-trap about God being an old bearded man in the sky, then you are not going to find that God. But turn to Exodus 3 and see if you can find the God with that name. For help, you may refer to Descartes’ “Meditations on First Philosophy”. If you don’t find that sufficiently “logical” – a much-abused word nowadays – then look for his “Fourth Replies”, where he provides an analytical/”geometric” summary of the Meditations.

    Also, what are the “claims” you think Christianity makes? Are you sure they are the real “claims” that Christianity makes, or what the secularist establishment as indoctrinated you into thinking are the “claims”?

    Since every act – including speech-act – is done with a motive, you can’t disconnect wanting to stop belief in a tooth-fairies from telling people that tooth-fairies do not exist. Also, there is a nuanced distinction between “stating” and “telling”. The moment you are trying to assert something, you are “telling”; i.e. you are using speech to achieve a purpose, in the case of the Atheist Bus Campaign, to de-convert people.

    You have the right to give your reasons, but that does not entail you the right to “Advertise”, which has a persuasive connotation to it.

    Theists haven’t been able to come up with evidence? Really? Hmm, and yet there are so many books giving evidence, if you just look around. It is not that theists haven’t been coming up with evidence; they have been doing so since the Book of Acts. It is that the atheists presumptively reject all the evidence as inadequate, without (ironically) giving adequate reasons for why they are inadequate.

    In any case, to begin: What is the real distinction between “subjective” and “objective”? Is there any at all? (Clue: a proper reading of the Euthyphro might give you a hint.)

  • http://vivitelaeti.blogspot.com/ Lim Teng Leong

    Hi Raphael, it’s very easy to speak in a vacuum or in generalities which is precisely what you are doing. Let’s get down to brass tacks. You say theists have been coming up with evidence since the Book of Acts. I dispute that and challenge you to show me one specific piece of evidence. Of course if you are going to say the “testimony” of St Paul and the blinding light on the road to Damascus is a piece of evidence, that won’t be acceptable and I’ll tell you why. (You say atheists do not give reasons for rejecting purported evidence by theists – I’m not an atheist and I do give reasons). The blinding light story is a story contained in what has been reconstructed from fragments and centuries of unreliable copying by scribes to be from an ancient document possibly attached to another document popularly called the Gospel of St Luke today. I say “unreliable copying” and my source is the Bible scholars Bruce Metzger and FF Bruce (yes, even FF Bruce) and I will refer specifically to their books on the canon of the New Testament. If you wish to admit some of these documents as evidence, please state which document and give the Codex or specific manuscripts you are relying on. If you are relying on a mixture of different manuscripts (which you most probably will have to do), then you must specify the manuscripts relied on. By the way, all the manuscripts are carefully numbered which makes for easy reference. I cannot have you quote a biblical verse or two as if they were Gospel truth while sweeping under the carpet all the textual difficulties and textual corruption that scholars grapple with.

    God supposedly works through history and continues to intervene in human affairs today. It’s impossible for there to be absolutely no evidence for his existence if he’s so actively involved in our affairs. I’m assuming of course that your definition of God isn’t that of a Deist God.

    In your reply, please do not ask me to read a book and hey presto! I’ll find evidence for God in the book. I have a great deal of experience in dealing with religious people and I’m familiar with all their methods. Give me that elusive piece of evidence here and now.

    You also asked what claims I thought Christianity made. I mentioned Christianity’s claims in the context of my childhood prejudices against other religions. I thought they were wrong and even ludicrous. It was only when I was 12 or so that I realised that the claims of Christianity were not much better than the claims of other religions in terms of being ludicrous. The claims I referred to are the basic tenets of Christianity which are:
    1. men were deceived by Satan and committed an act forbidden by God
    2. God sentenced men to damnation and not just the perpetrators but the whole of humanity, including the issue of men millions of years later.
    3. God wanting to save humanity, sent his Son to become incarnate so that he may die on the cross for the purpose stated in point 4 below.
    4. God made the death of his son a redemptive death for the sins of humanity (here it depends on which school you belong to but roughly speaking, most will say that you’ve got to BELIEVE in Jesus to be saved from the sentence of damnation).

    Finally, since you made personal remarks about me in your reply, I will have to say something about myself. No, I’m not an agnostic but a devout Christian. A true Christian has got to be honest and I think I’m brutally honest – even at the expense of the good name of my own religion. (When I say a true Christian has to be honest, I’m not excluding others. A true Jew, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, atheist, Wiccan, etc too has got to be honest).

    I believe I have answered every point you have raised. All I’m asking you to do is to provide me with a single shred of evidence of God’s existence. Say it in a nutshell. Sometimes, the reason why my fellow Christians refuse to comply with my request for evidence for God is that they know there is none or the “evidence” they can come up with is so hopelessly unreliable that they are ashamed to state it openly for all to see and so they have to resort to asking me to read this book and that book in the hope that that will shut me up! But I believe you are different and you will reply in a most satisfactory manner.

  • http://vivitelaeti.blogspot.com/ Lim Teng Leong

    Just as an aside, why am I the only one with a profile picture here? Haha.

  • Raphael Wong

    Teng Leong,

    (1) I said “since the Book of Acts”, not “just in the Book of Acts”. But just to take up the fact, using one story to prove the unreliability of an entire book is insufficient. And in the case of St Paul, there are two options: either you believe that (1) he is a fictional character that was invented by the Popes (yes, the Popes) to justify their bid of power to Constantine; or you accept that (2) something truly dramatic happened to change him from someone who persecuted Christians to someone who became their leader.

    Also, “unreliable copying” doesn’t entail fabrication; it may mean certain aspects are exaggerated or omitted, but no direct fabrication of facts. Also, in the case of the Bible, there are only about two centuries where such “unreliable copying” was possible. Beyond the two centuries, there were Church figures who were sufficiently powerful to censor any fabrication or exaggeration that might be made by an untrained novice. In fact, 200 years is a generous time period; Justin Martyr was alive around 150 AD already.

    As well as, when Bible scholars use “unreliable copying”, they usually refer – unless they are atheists with preset agendas – to the habit of incorporating marginal commentaries into the main text. But to create a story about a beam of light in a commentary seems rather out-of-place.

    In any case, the fragments are what exist NOW, not what existed in 33-175 AD (when “Against Heresies” was written). The 12th-Century scribe might have missed out a letter that resulted in a mistranslation; still, that in no way proves that ORIGINAL manuscript or manuscripts were at fault.

    I won’t talk with you further on this unless you give me the evidence Bruce provides; and incidentally, Bruce argues for the reliability of the New Testament…

    In any case, that is only the Book of Acts. Beyond that, however, there is a whole throng of Christian philosophers who offer proofs, and are studied (and re-studied) today. You could start by looking at a philosopher Dawkins foolishly tried to ridicule: St Anselm. Anselm uses what is called the Ontological Proof; I would call it the Psychological Proof, because it relies on what humans can think up. Allied to the Psychological Proof is St Thomas Aquinas’ Cosmological Demonstration; Africa calls it the Kalaam Argument.

    But I suppose that you have heard of these arguments; so if you would, it would be good to state exactly what you have found inadequate with these. Note for Anselm’s argument that the 2nd Premise is a Definition of God, not a proposition about God’s qualities. That is Dawkins and Hitchens’ stumbling block.

    More naturalistically, Kenneth Kitchen (2002) wrote “On the Reliability of the Old Testament”, which demonstrates the plausibility of the OT. The Father of American Law, Simon Greenleaf, wrote “The Testimony of the Evangelists: Examined by Rules of Evidence Used By Courts of Justice” in 1846, proving the reliability of the New Testament.

    I asked you to read the Meditations not so that you can find evidence stated in the book. I asked you to read it because Descartes describes a method you can use to verify what you wish to verify. Think of the book like a book that teaches you how to do science experiments on God.

    Oh, and incidentally I already gave you that piece of elusive evidence: “I am (that I am)” or “Cogito Ergo Sum”. Since that is the Name of God, if that exists, God exists; if that doesn’t exist, God doesn’t exist. Although, if that doesn’t exist, than nothing exists; you have the absolutely nihilistic world or the mentalist world of George Berkeley.

    (2) And yet, atheists are busy bees scurrying around trying to disprove miracles… hmm … if empirical evidence is what you are looking for, visions of the Virgin Mary and cures at pilgrimage sites are abound. Whether you choose to give them a chance to be miracles is another question.

    I tread carefully around the terms “Deist” and “Personalist”, because Personalist conceptions – of atheists and agnostics – tend to slip into the Old-man-in-the-sky caricature.

    (3) On your tenets:-

    (3.1) Why is this ludicrous? Even accepting that the original text says “fruit” instead of apple, and the “Snake” might refer to something else other than a snake, what is ludicrous about the main plot?

    (3.2) Given the scholars that you referred to, I suppose that you are an Evangelical. The basic tenet is that Man is estranged from God due to disobedience. Direct sentencing is a peculiar feature of Evangelical thinking that probably has more to do with the US Supreme Court than the Bible.

    Man received damnation because of himself (and herself), not through a sentence. Because Original Sin is Original, and each relationship has an origin, Original Sin is extended through the generations. Original Sin is a state of separation from God, not a particular action. Since this post is getting too long, I won’t discuss that here. I will however, do so, if we choose to continue the conversation.

    (3.3) The problem here is what the “so” connotes…

    (3.4) You have to believe that Jesus had the capacity to die a redemptive death, that is true. But what is ludicrous about this; it is logically sound.

    I have no idea why you find it ludicrous, but I know why atheists find it ludicrous. They picture God as our ham-fisted old-man-in-the-sky, who just created a perfect being for the purpose of eliminating him. Such “arbitrary” behaviour is perceived as immoral. One might say it is. Except that, had the world been ideal, Jesus wouldn’t have been crucified. What the Bible – and classical doctrine – says is that God allowed his Son to become an atonement for sins, because that turned out to be the best means in which salvation might be realized.

    And, although it is less clear, the action that did the salvation was the surrendering of Jesus to the Cross and the World controlling it, not the death itself. It is in his judgement that the Romans and the Jews judged Him, Judged God, and Judged themselves, and hence all were saved. If you accept the crucifixion as history (which isn’t that hard to do), then it is an interesting task to examine all the various linkages between various factions involved in Jesus’ Death: Pharisees, Herod’s Court, Pilate, Disciples, Jewish Zealot mobsters, Caesar (in the Background).

    (4) A true Christian is almost like Christ; being close enough to the Origin of Faith allows the true Christian to speak without reference to Secondary Sources, except to commentate on them.

    A devout Christian aims to be Christ-like, and understands that honesty is a fruit of the Holy Spirit, not a self-independent cause of Christian Identity. Brutal Honesty is not necessarily a virtue, especially when there is more of the former than the latter.

    A devout Christian understands that the only Basic Tenet of Christianity is to be Christ-Like, and that the rest is exposition.

    Since you don’t seem to fulfill either of these, I believe that I am justified in labelling you as an Agnostic.

    (5) In a nutshell: That you exist proves that God exists.

  • Zhengyu

    I’m an atheist largely because I view the trappings of religious institutions to be undesirable. Even if you subscribe to the good parts of the various religions, it is far too limiting.

    I used to be quite militant in my atheism, frequently mocking those who pontificate about their religion. I’ve toned down my rhetoric since then, but I will still lambast anyone who would used their religious beliefs to justify their mode of thinking – be it their sickening prejudices, their dismissal of sciences, support for various flawed pseudoscience, etc.

    Mind you, I’ve met plenty of this kind of people. Stop using your religion as an excuse for your abhorrent behavior or lack of thought. Intolerance of ignorance and stupidity. Yeah, that is a philosophy I can adhere to.

  • quzy

    Maybe it’s not Aetheism that needs to get its act together, but Secularism.

  • http://vivitelaeti.blogspot.com/ Lim Teng Leong

    Raphael, you miss the point as shockingly as you fail to show the smallest evidence. I will explain.

    You said: “I said “since the Book of Acts”, not “just in the Book of Acts”. But just to take up the fact, using one story to prove the unreliability of an entire book is insufficient.”

    This is a typical attempt at avoiding the onus placed on someone who claims the legitimacy of a document. You ask me to show an entire book to be unreliable. Shifting the onus of proof unfairly is something my fellow Christians are very good at doing and you exhibit the same flair. Surely if you want to depend on a particular book, YOU have to show that it is reliable. The onus is necessarily on you. I brought up the Damascus light only because I wanted to bring up one small example of what you might take to be evidence for God’s existence – someone I know actually did that. I have no idea what evidence you wish to bring up (I believe you have none) and you still haven’t done so at this point in time. WHERE IS THE EVIDENCE?

    Next, you wrote this: “Also, “unreliable copying” doesn’t entail fabrication; it may mean certain aspects are exaggerated or omitted, but no direct fabrication of facts. Also, in the case of the Bible, there are only about two centuries where such “unreliable copying” was possible. Beyond the two centuries, there were Church figures who were sufficiently powerful to censor any fabrication or exaggeration that might be made by an untrained novice. In fact, 200 years is a generous time period; Justin Martyr was alive around 150 AD already.”

    Unreliable copying DOES include fabrication. At least that is so in the case of the Bible. There is enough evidence (and I do mean real evidence unlike your elusive evidence that at this very point in time has strangely not yet emerged despite your assertion that you have the evidence) to show that the scribes (usually monks) DELIBERATELY changed a text in order that it would reflect current religious beliefs. I cannot believe you are ignorant of this. In my experience, only evangelicals (and I’m not one despite your wild conjecture) who refuse to read outside of their recommended reading list and Roman Catholics who confine their reading exclusively to imprimatur books are blissfully ignorant of this fact. There is another fundamental error in your use of the term “Bible”. There was no such thing as a “Bible” in the first 200 years of Christendom. The faithful listened to readings from VARIOUS books that included heretical works and pseudonymous literature. So what if Justin Martyr lived in 150AD? Even if he were assiduously looking after the copying of scriptures which he could not have done, what books in particular was he looking after? As late as about 200AD, Seriapon, bishop of Antioch (I think), mistakenly thought the Gospel of Peter was Holy Scripture until he was later told it was “heretical”. You obviously don’t know a thing if you speak of the Bible as a formed work and you postulate that Justin Martyr would have defended all 66 books of it (if you are Protestant), more (if you are RC) and even more (if you are Orthodox). Justin Martyr did no such thing and the Bible was not around in at least the first 200 years of Christianity.

    You seem upset that I brought up the name of FF Bruce. I meant no dishonour to a fine scholar and Christian who has since, well, returned to our Lord. You are right that Bruce was an evangelical scholar and to his death, he believed in the Bible as the word of God. It’s also true that Bruce wrote countless books for the lay Christian that attest to the reliability of Scriptures. However, in his book, “The Canon of Scripture”, Bruce talked about a lot of problems with the Bible. He even had a chapter on whether we should revamp the whole Bible and remove some books and include others but of course his view for the sake of Christian unity is to leave the Bible as it is, a view which I entirely endorse. Elsewhere in the same book, Bruce shows how the Holy Evangelists had misunderstood Old Testament prophecies and FABRICATED various stories of Jesus so that he might seem like the one “foretold”. I’m sorry for being mischievous here. Bruce did not use the word “fabricated” and he did not make it seem like they were telling deliberate lies. Bruce was too fine an evangelical to do that but essentially, that is the charge that must be laid at the door of the Evangelists.

    You next said this: “In any case, that is only the Book of Acts. Beyond that, however, there is a whole throng of Christian philosophers who offer proofs, and are studied (and re-studied) today. You could start by looking at a philosopher Dawkins foolishly tried to ridicule: St Anselm. Anselm uses what is called the Ontological Proof; I would call it the Psychological Proof, because it relies on what humans can think up. Allied to the Psychological Proof is St Thomas Aquinas’ Cosmological Demonstration; Africa calls it the Kalaam Argument.”

    Christ have mercy! I never once thought that the ghost of the Ontological argument would be revived after it was long hung, drawn and quartered and its remains scattered all over the Red Sea and eaten up by guppies. I hope I don’t sound rude but you are raising a red herring in order to avoid having to produce the evidence for God’s existence which to this very moment you have failed miserably to do. What you have done instead is to raise the spectre of some ancient argument that has long been consigned to the dustbin and you are wasting our time here. I cannot believe that you are ignorant of the fact that the Ontological argument has been so badly criticized and laughed at that no modern apologist (unless he lives in a dreamworld of his own – and lots of them do live in such a world) would dare so much as breathe a word of it! Please do what you have avoided doing – Produce the evidence or admit (as you really should) that there is no ghost of evidence at all for God’s existence.

    You next mentioned a list of books that talk about the reliability of the Bible. I am sure I can produce a list of books that talk about the reliability of just about any book on this planet. Another red herring. My reply to that is simple – PRODUCE THE EVIDENCE THAT GOD EXISTS!

    You ask me what I found so ludicrous about the redemptive death of Christ. I apologise to all my fellow Christians if I had appeared dismissive of a most vital tenet of the holy Christian faith. My intention was not to say that this pivotal aspect of Christianity was ludicrous. If you recall the context in which I brought this up, I was talking about my childhood and how I had assumed all other religions to be incorrect and sometimes ludicrous. It was much later when I discovered that my own religion would APPEAR ludicrous to those not schooled in it. That is as much as I will say about the tenets of my religion. Again, we are digressing. I (and I’m sure the readers too) are waiting for you to come up with one tiny piece of evidence for God’s existence. Is that so hard to do?

    The rest of your post is all about examining saintly me to see if I’m a Christian. Your conclusion is – I’m an agnostic. I deny that and I assert that I’m a faithful child of Christ’s holy church, a devout Christian and a follower of Christ, the author and finisher of our faith. You are also wrong in thinking I’m an evangelical; I am not.

    Finally, we come to the end of your post. I had hoped that you would pull a rabbit out of a hat like any magician worth his salt and FINALLY produce that long-awaited and highly elusive evidence for God’s existence. However, all we have from you is this and I quote precisely what you wrote: “In a nutshell: That you exist proves that God exists.”

    I don’t know about the other readers but my reply to that can only be said in my native florid Hokkien. :)

  • Chin Wei Lien

    Woah, look at how the comment section has flourished while I was away! This is amazing.

    It’s 3am and I am too tired to reply. Maybe you guys can continue this debate in my next article. I’m pretty sure that will cause quite an uproar too, judging by the lengthy responses this one has garnered.

  • http://vivitelaeti.blogspot.com/ Lim Teng Leong

    Hi Chin Wei Lien,

    As you can see, those who claim to have an abundance of evidence for God’s existence from the book of Acts to the present day can be dreadfully silent when they are called upon to produce the evidence. True, they may try to befuddle the issue by quoting the same old hackneyed arguments for God that have long been discredited. They fail to see that an argument is not the same as evidence, never mind the fact that these arguments for God may have been pummelled and trounced. They may dance and gambol all over our computer screens as you no doubt have seen Raphael Wong doing with great agility and they will give you the trite old list of writers to impress you with their purported scholarship and knowledge but they can NEVER produce the evidence for God’s existence.

    Why then do my fellow Christians continue to pretend that they have evidence for God’s existence when they can’t show even a shred of it when called upon to do so? The answer is simple and as a devout Christian, I will say it with a heavy heart – there is ZERO evidence for God’s existence just as there is zero evidence for the leprechaun’s existence but at the same time, we are reluctant to admit that our belief in God is no more valid than a belief in the tooth fairy. We Christians (or for that matter, believers in any religion at all) need respectability and we fear we aren’t going to get any if we admit that our faith is blind and there is not a drop of evidence for God’s existence.

    It embarrasses me to no end that some of my fellow Christians may spout biblical verses about the importance of being truthful and that “God is truth” (as the Bible tells us) but when it comes to this absolute truth about God and the total absence of evidence to support him, they turn a blind eye to it. I am not accusing them of dishonesty. They are quite sincere in their belief. But the fact is they really are blind to this truth and they embarrass themselves by taking up the challenge of showing the evidence for God’s existence. If they are schooled properly by the church, they would be able to impress their audience by throwing out names of scholars and terminology which may seem formidable to the ignorant listener. For 2000 years, great thinkers in the West have tried to justify God’s existence but they always began with the premise that God is real and worked from that premise. It’s not difficult for people in a more enlightened age to spot the flaws of these arguments. Christians who try to salvage the discredited arguments give grand names to each of them and they may sound impressive to those who do not know that the church is famous for coming up with respectable and scholarly names. But alas, the world has become more enlightened and atheists have been educating people and exposing the flaws in these arguments which is why some of my fellow Christians who continue to repeat these flawed arguments are mercilessly derided. But there will always be a large number of people who are generally ignorant of these things and these are the people on whom evangelism may still work, and thank God for that.

  • http://www.nmadasamy.com NMadasamy

    I came from a Muslim background. A pious one too…..until something happen and I told myself, that’s it, I had enough of this shit. And yes I became an Atheist because I don’t give a shit anymore when somebody come to me and told me that I should repent and go back to the truth path….or that I shall be punish in hell.

    I have problem when somebody come to me and say “we’re all born imperfect as such we must be humble and worship this so call GOD.. to save us etc…” If they want to feel that they are imperfect go ahead. I know I’m not. Its sad when you are being mentally condition from the very young with this thoughts that you’re imperfect. Its like a mother telling her child : you are hopeless and your are useless…….that is itself mental and psychological abuse. I feel these people have a very low self esteem of themselves and this sense of insecurity because they are the victims of abuse.

  • http://vivitelaeti.blogspot.com/ Lim Teng Leong

    I have just read NMadasamy’s comment and I have this to add. I know nothing about other religions and I can only speak for my own. In my religion we are taught that we were all born sinners. We are not worth the dust on the sandals of Jesus. But despite our worthlessness, sinfulness, wretchedness, lowliness (these are words repeatedly used in Christian circles, our hymns and the Bible), Christ died for our sins and lifted us from our squalid filthy conditions into a relationship with God. We are now children of the living God because we’ve been redeemed by Christ’s atoning death on the cross. Does that make us great now? No, we are still nothing. As St Paul writes, “He (meaning Christ) must increase and I must decrease”. I am still nothing but it’s Christ who lives in me who is everything.

    I can understand the reason for such a teaching. It makes the masses more controllable. It makes us more submissive to the church at a time when control was important and the upper echelons of the church, monarchy, government, etc would always seek to control the masses.

    But what about today’s world? The subjugation of the human spirit and the conditioning of a child into thinking that he is really nothing but it’s Christ who is everything will help to control that child way into adulthood. He will always be tied down to mother church and he will always give glory to God for all the achievements that he has gained and for all his tragedies, he will seek to see if he has wronged God in some way or other and pray that better times will come his way. Whatever his condition and however things turn out for him, it’s always God who is everything and he nothing. He will thank God even for a calamity in his life and he will praise the name of God even in such circumstances. As St Paul teaches us, “In everything, give thanks to God”. Mind you, the church will always remind us, it’s EVERYTHING.

    Please note that my comment is only confined to what I understand of my own religion. I make no comment of other religions which I know nothing of. And I have merely stated what the teachings of my religion are and I make no comment as to whether such teachings are good for the person or fair to him or whether they can be justly termed “brain-washing”. The reader is at liberty to interpret it in any way he wishes.

  • Raphael Wong

    Sigh…

    I wonder why I am still here. I have been trying my best to engage in debate, but I don’t find any atheists willing to do so, despite them bragging about their “tolerance” and “open-mindedness”. I hoped this place would be different.

    Apparently it isn’t. Anyway, I’ll still try.

    Zhengyu,

    I am also sick of atheists dismissing philosophy in the name of science, and of people who don’t follow their conscience.

    Stop pontificating about atheism yourself, please.

    Quzy,

    I agree, but I am a little exhausted at trying to state that distinction and running into atheists who conflate the two anyway.

    Teng Leong,

    I have read Greek Myths, Native American myths, JRR Tolkien and Wheel of Time; and the Book of Acts compares to none of these in terms of Fantasy.

    (2) If you gave me 4 passages to prove that the Book of Acts is unreliable, then I might cede to you your claim. If only that one piece of evidence is forthcoming, then I am well within my rights to claim that only that bit was mistranslated (The Book of Acts was written in Greek but copied in Latin) or mis-copied.

    The Book of Acts is being presented as evidence. And since you are at least moderately familiar with Christianity, you should already know the qualifications of the Book of Acts as evidence. So my claim has been made. You are free to make a counter-claim, but you must supply evidence to show that your claim applies to the WHOLE document. You don’t need a line-by-line analysis, but you need to show a number of different parts that can be proved to be unreliable.

    Even for the Damascus-light thing, you have given me a rebuttal to my counter-argument. Perhaps there was no “light”, but only because that word was mistranslated. Or because visions are visions, only Saul experienced that light, and not the people around him.

    I didn’t want to depend on a particular book; that is you putting words into my mouth. I was talking that there are a range of sources – Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox – that exist to prove that, and too many for me to list.

    And I mentioned – which you conveniently seemed to forget – that there are reports of miracles.

    If you want to reject all these, then you have to give me what your standards of evidence are? As the ex-atheist convert to Deism Professor Anthony Flew wrote:-

    “What would have to occur or have occurred to constitute for you a reason to at least consider the existence of a Superior Mind?”

    I accept that I can’t persuade you to accept Christianity if you don’t accept Deism first.

    So let’s start by asking if these books are sufficient to prove the existence of the bare God.

    (3) Wow, I like how you put down Roman Catholics and Evangelicals. I am a Roman Catholic, and I read far beyond what is given the imprimatur: I have read the Koran and the Gita, for instance. And I could say the same for some of my Evangelical friends.

    And yes, I know that there has been evidence put up to show the unreliability of NT manuscripts, but there have also been many counter-evidences against those evidences put up by apologists, even Evangelical ones. Also, most arguments I have seen popular sources simply assert “fabrication” on finding correlations between texts, based on what a biased atheist author thinks is inconsistent.

    I used “Bible” in “Bible scholars”; that’s all. otherwise, I used “manuscripts”, “letters” and “fragments”. There were certainly all these in the first 2 centuries of Christianity. Yes, there wasn’t a compiled tome called “The Holy Bible”, but the individual books existed as texts, as manuscripts. I made no “fundamental error” in describing them as such, except perhaps in your imagination.

    Before commenting about Justin Martyr, please read his Dialogues. In them, he defends the Gospels and the Acts and one of the epistles of Paul. He does this against a Socratic, then a Sophist, then a Jew.

    I have no idea what relevance Sesapion and the Gospel of Peter have to an argument on the Book of Acts, if that was the subject. The holy or heretical quality of the Gospel of Peter or the Book of Acts is of no relevance to whether the Book of Acts is historically reliable. Now, here is a red-herring argument on your part.

    In any case, your selective quoting missed the main argument, which is the comparison with Greek texts of late antiquity. Might you now provide a response to the actual argument?

    (4) I admit, I haven’t read FF Bruce, so please quote some of the evidence he provides that demonstrates that parts were “fabricated”. I want to discuss and debate with you, but “lots of evidence” isn’t something that I can enter into a discussion over, unfortunately, if I have no idea what evidence you are referring to. And please QUOTE. I have a suspicion that your atheistic paraphrases will misrepresent what he says.

    I find it a laugable irony that the self-identified Christian who prides himself on honesty fabricates the word “fabrication”. And now, we see the weakness of your case: if you want to “lay the charge at the doorstep of the Evangelicals”, then you must be prepared to provide grounding for your charge.

    There is no point in claiming that you mean no dishonour to FF Bruce, when you have already dishonoured him by mis-stating his argument. Also, be wary of terminology. A scholarly use of “problem” refers to issues that need to be solved; not issues that cannot be solved.

    (5) What a wonderfully graphic scenario you describe. Yes, I am aware of all the major criticisms that have been made of the Ontological Argument. I have read through most of them, from the ancient to the modern. And my conclusion is that all of them misunderstand the ontological argument, and exactly in the same aspect. The aspect that I stated for you.

    So what people have been attacking for the last centuries is an essential strawman of the Ontological Argument, and not St Anselm’s actual argument.

    If you wish to discuss the Ontological Argument further, by all means. I’ll wait for your response charitably.

    Also, you might do St Anselm the honour of reading his Argument properly. And, in jest, you might consider praying for his assistance to guide you in reading his argument; Surely he would oblige.

    (6) well, do so; and then we can discuss which set is more reliable. After all, the purpose of those books is to provide evidence.

    Oh, and incidentally, up till now, you still haven’t given the standards of evidence you require. FOR GOODNESS SAKE, TELL ME WHAT TYPE OF EVIDENCE YOU ARE LOOKING FOR!!!!

    (7) Ah, I see. Although, I seem to be the only “fellow Christian” around on this thread, and you don’t seem to be treating me much as a “fellow Christian”.

    So now, you add the qualifier “appear”. I shall give you the benefit of the doubt and not accuse you of shifting the goalposts.

    Yes, I agree with you that each religion would APPEAR ludicrous to people not schooled in the faith; but that doesn’t mean that they ARE ludicrous. Especially, it doesn’t mean that they are ludicrous in the ATHEIST SENSE.

    And from what you have posted so far, you seem to think that your own religion is ludicrous as well. I consent to call you a nominal Christian, but I still maintain that “Devout Christian” is an inappropriate label for you, except of course in your own imagination.

    You wanted evidence? I gave you many places to look for evidence, and you dismissed all of them, almost all without a reason. So now IT BEHOOVES YOU TO TELL ME WHAT KIND OF EVIDENCE YOU (AND ALL THE OTHER ATHEISTS) WANT TO CONVINCE YOU OF THE EXISTENCE OF GOD.

    (8) You can assert whatever you want, but you haven’t been demonstrating all of that at all, nor have you been demonstrating that you are schooled in Christianity.

    I assumed you were Evangelical because you referred to FF Bruce. Whatever tradition you belong to, it would be good for you to read the theologians of that tradition. If you are – I really wish you are not – a Roman Catholic, then please read the full texts of the Prosologion, the Dialogues of Justin Martyr, and the Summa Theologica; I doubt that you are schooled in any of them.

    A devout Christian would be responsible enough to be schooled in at least the Fathers of the Church, and try as much as possible to produce a sympathetic case for Christianity. Neither of which you have done. In fact, what you have produced is merely a re-hashing of atheist arguments. Sigh…

    (9) I am sorry that I have not pulled out the rabbit you wanted. Although, I gave you the summary argument, not the full argument.

    If you really want to hear the full argument, I will give it to you. But since you seem to see the main point as only worthy of Hokkien vulgarities, I don’t think you would want to hear the argument. Your heart and mind are already closed; you are most clearly not thinking like a Christian.

    Anyway, “Nothing comes from nothing”, remember?

    I do philosophy, and atheistic philosophers of real credit are generally annoyed at the New Atheists and their followers for deriding philosophy, especially Ontology. Ontology is the study of Existence. And my claim above is an ontological claim, so your dismissive attitude towards it displays your lack of philosophical aptitude as well.

    (7) Wonderful, the “devout Christian” is acting as the lackey of the atheist. What an irony.

    You say “they fail to see that an argument is not the same as evidence”. Well, evidence only attains its quality when it exists in an argument, so this statement is patent nonsense. Oh and btw, save your breath; I am sure Wei Lien already knows everything you are telling him/her.

    (8) That’s it! This paragraph has demonstrated how entirely dishonest you are. At least admit that you are having a crisis of faith. (If you do so, you might suddenly see how “evangelical” atheists can get.)

    Your respectability charge against Christians is so absurd that even militant atheists like Dawkins and Hitchens don’t use it. If Christians were looking for respectability, you wouldn’t see martyrs throughout Christian history.

    In fact, before making that accusation of your “fellow” Christians, look at yourself. Are you not exactly doing what you accuse your “brethren” of doing? Is all your “honesty” so far not merely to gain respectability in the eyes of the atheists? You have effectively forfeited the tenets of your faith in order to be considered “rational” by atheists.

    (9) You said “For 2000 years, great thinkers in the West have tried to justify God’s existence but they always began with the premise that God is real and worked from that premise.” And once again, you have demonstrated that you didn’t read what I said earlier. St Anselm didn’t start by assuming the existence of God, except in the mind of “Enlightenment” philosophers. Unfortunately, The Enlightenment myth has persisted until today, despite more recent scholarship from the 1980s that says otherwise. Rene Descartes, the “Father of the Enlightenment”, was a practicing Roman Catholic who – although it has never been acknowledged – wrote “The Meditations on First Philosophy” as an apologetic for Christianity. He started the First Meditation with the absolute sceptic position: Zero God.

    So here are your two counter-examples. Oh , and by the way, even atheist philosophers regard Descartes as a great thinker, in case you wish to use your Hokkien vulgarities on him as well.

    The most fervent atheists today are trying to salvage the Enlightenment with arguments that have been refuted by the post-modernists. The post-modernists – religious and non-religious – are highly sceptical of calling the current age “a more enlightened age”. After all, this age produced the atom bomb, the Holocaust and Pol Pot, and all without God’s – or the Church’s – help.

    How ironic that you are thanking God for making less people believe in His existence!!

    Honestly, having “fellow Christians” like you puts the Devil out of business. And that is not a compliment.

    (10) Wow, finally, something I can actually DISCUSS with you.

    “We are all born sinners” is a Calvinist conception (distortion) that the mainline churches don’t follow. The proper teaching is that “We are born in a state of Sin with an increased propensity to commit Sinful actions.” “Sin” comes from a Jewish word that means “separation”. And thus, we have you misunderstanding a key tenet of your religion. Let’s see what else you misunderstand…

    “we are not worth the dust on Jesus’ sandals.” This is a rhetorical statement that is meant to imply how separated from God – and hence, Jesus – we are.

    And – naturally – you misunderstood St Paul. The Old You must decrease, but Christ will make a New You. The self that regards itself as worthless, lowly etc etc must go, and instead be replaced by a more confident self who belongs to God.

    (11) No no no, that is an anachronistic reading of the situation. St Paul is preaching to a congregation in a time before the Church was in the favour of the monarchy; the State regarded the Church as subversive. You forgot what you yourself earlier said about the Church being “disorganized”. How is it possible for a “disorganized” Church to have “upper echelons”? The Church won over the pagans precisely because they functioned in the “lower echelons” of society.

    The Pagans in fact were the ones who were lowly and worthless, who were at the mercy of Neptune or Hestia or Cybele or Isis for the protection of their lives. People converted to Christianity because it offered an escape from the stullifying Pagan routine.

    St Paul was preaching at a time when Christians were being persecuted by the Jews; in fact, he had previously been a persecutor himself. Whatever the apostles were thinking of, “controlling the masses” would not be on their list of priorities; they were not even in the practical position to CONSIDER doing so.

    So your interpretation is way, way, way, way off. You have TOTALLY misunderstood St Paul.

    (12) Oh yay, Richard Dawkins’ “Child-Abuse” Argument. An ATHEIST ARGUMENT.

    Great, so now you are anti-Christ as well. What a “devout” Christian you are proving yourself to be.

    Yes, in EVERYTHING, because God is the Creator, and our survival and all our endowments is because of HIM. Praising God IN the circumstances is not praising God FOR the circumstances; it is praising God for LETTING YOU SURVIVE THE CIRCUMSTANCES.

    If Christ is not everything, then He is nothing, because Human Ego takes over rapidly. A child who is raised with that thought in mind is a Hitler-Child who will subjugate everyone around him. Christ is everything because God is everything, and Christ is the Persona of God.

    (13) Unluckily for you, you have not understood anything in your own religion. And words like “subjugation”, “conditioning” and “control”, as well as your capitalization of “EVERYTHING” are already comments to anyone who is smart (which I presume – unless proven otherwise – is anyone else on this thread).

    It is already obvious that you have a negative view of your own religion, so stop pretending otherwise.

  • Raphael Wong

    Nmadasamy,

    Congratulations! You have just proved what arrogant people atheists are! So, if you are so perfect, when are you going to start the Fourth Reich?

  • http://vivitelaeti.blogspot.com/ Lim Teng Leong

    Raphael Wong, I will ignore your personal and abusive remarks (I will show you what Christian charity means) and insist that you make yourself clear here if you hope to show that you are not the evasive person you are now making yourself out to be.

    Our whole exchange began with you insisting that there is evidence for God’s existence. What is the evidence that you have come up with? You seem to be saying your evidence is the Book of Acts. That makes you appear frightfully evasive. If the Book of Acts or any other books for that matter is to be used by you as evidence of God’s existence, it’s not very intelligent to just mention it and hope your readers will accept that you have discharged your burden of proof. You must show HOW the Book of Acts proves that God exists. You can’t just throw the book of Acts at your opponent and say “There is the evidence for God. Now you show me why it is not adequate evidence.”

    You must show how the book which you claim to be evidence in the first place sheds light on God’s existence and proves it even if it’s merely on the balance of probability. You have done no such thing. So where is the evidence? Why is it so elusive?

    I hate to say this but I had assumed you had the maturity and intelligence to argue effectively but you have totally failed to connect what you claim to be evidence with that it is supposed to prove. Even a child of 10 with below average intelligence should know this. I’m not asking for ALL the evidence. I’m asking for just one small piece of it. So far, you have failed to produce it.

    Will you still continue to be evasive? You can save your breath on personal remarks (which only do you a great disservice) but please PRODUCE THE EVIDENCE!

  • Paul Tobin

    To Raphael,

    You wrote to Teng Leong, “If you gave me 4 passages to prove that the Book of Acts is unreliable, then I might cede to you your claim.”

    Would you mind if I take up this challenge?

    (I am an atheist, by the way, just so that is out of the way from the get go.)

    Cheers.

  • http://www.nmadasamy.com NMadasamy

    Raphael Wong says: Congratulations! You have just proved what arrogant people atheists are! So, if you are so perfect, when are you going to start the Fourth Reich?

    That is where you are wrong Rapheal. Theres this religious institution who like to proclaim themselves as the perfect and others are not. To me there is no such thing as perfect and imperfect. They are just the state of mind created by people who like to discriminate and divide.

    Heaven is the byproduct of a corrupt mind. A mind that needs to be bribe in order for you to do good. Do you need a GOD or a scriptures to tell you to do good? Why cant you teach your child that one should do good to another because its the right thing to do, this is a basic principles in Humanism.

  • http://www.nmadasamy.com NMadasamy

    “If you do not believe in Jesus, then you are a walking corpse!”

    When I read this statement it remind me of the same coming from another group which says “There is no life outside Islam…”

    Of which remind me of an interview I heard over the radio BBC, a statement by a north korean captain who defected to the south.. and he said “we were told that the north korean are the most superior country in the world….and our army are the most sophisticated etc… but when I was send back to my hometown to capture a deserter, and saw my own family members starving and some died of hunger, I knew something is not right”

  • http://vivitelaeti.blogspot.com/ Lim Teng Leong

    NMadasamy, Raphael Wong intended to insult you by his post. He called you arrogant and asked you when you were going to act like Hitler. Of course he forgets that Hitler was a baptised Roman Catholic. But I am surprised that your reply to him is so civil and kind. I suppose it’s because you are an atheist that you can be so measured in your tone. Raphael resorts to vile personal attacks and I must say that is quite natural for those of us who claim to be Christ-like. That is why Gandhi once said that he liked Christ but he didn’t like Christians.

    I do try to be civil because I know there are atheists around but sometimes, like Raphael, the Christian vitriol in me comes out. :)

  • http://vivitelaeti.blogspot.com/ Lim Teng Leong

    Hi Paul, I have no doubt that Raphael is not interested in engaging in a real debate. He consistently fails to produce the smallest evidence for the existence of God. All he does is to cite the Book of Acts and with that, he assumes that he has discharged his duty of showing that God exists. He now expects his opponent to show FOUR passages in Acs which are unreliable and then he MIGHT cede to my claim that there is no evidence for the existence of God.

    I don’t know what his reply to you may be but why in the first place must one show FOUR unreliable passages in Acts before he is willing to say Acts is unreliable? Why FOUR? Now that you have thrown down the gauntlet and are willing to take up the challenge, my guess is he will now ask for 40 passages that are unreliable. What game is he playing, I wonder?

    I suppose it’s just that he doesn’t want to admit that there is no evidence for God’s existence. He should just eat humble pie and say that he was wrong to assert at the very start that there was evidence for God’s existence. But he won’t do that and he continues to dig a deeper and deeper grave for himself.

    I suspect he won’t reply to you, Paul or he may move the goal posts and demand 40 unreliable passages in Acts this time. I’m out of this. I haven’t the time to play games with children. If he’s interested in a proper argument, he has to state his first evidence and the evidence must show that God exists. He can’t just throw the Complete Works of Shakespeare at me and ask me to show Shakespeare was unreliable! He’s got to show how his evidence is relevant in the first place in proving God’s existence. Otherwise, Raphael, go look for kids your age to play marbles with.

  • Ernest Beamers

    Yo, Teng. Glad to see you here. Hahahahaha. Looks to me like your opponent has run away with his tail between his legs. You always have a way of putting down those who have not thought through their arguments properly. But then Raphael started off haughty (they all do) and you have brought him low. Yes, asking for 4 passages that are unreliable is a stupid thing to do and I think Raphael regrets his folly now. But I’m intrigued by Paul’s offer to provide 4 unreliable passages. Even though you guys have sent Raphael to the playground for him to play with kids his age, I’d like to listen to Paul on this. But make no mistake – I’m not stepping into Raphael’s shoes. Hehe. I’m not suicidal and I don’t want to be made a fool of. I accept the Bible is unreliable but I’d like to know the four unreliable passages in Acts. I guess the miracles are fanciful and God striking two chaps dead for not giving all they had to the church – that’s of course intended to fill the church’s purse (anyone can see that).

  • http://www.nmadasamy.com NMadasamy

    Lim Teng Leong says:[1] Raphael Wong intended to insult you by his post.He called you arrogant and asked you when you were going to act like Hitler. But I am surprised that your reply to him is so civil and kind. I suppose it’s because you are an atheist that you can be so measured in your tone. Raphael resorts to vile personal attacks and I must say that is quite natural for those of us who claim to be Christ-like

    I have no issues about all these. Nobody can insult me without my permission. Well i’ve got the same from the Muslims too. I’m being labeled as arrogant, ungrateful and even worst. But its just the same tactics use by some people who love to put others down and its also because they are themselves being put down by their own religious ideology. They are being told …”they are all sinners, they are all weaklings……full of lust, jealously etc… as such in order to please this so called LORD or GOD, they must worship HIM…please HIM all the time. They are like the slave.. every pleasing ever ready to act at the command of their GOD/LORD etc..” So I don’t blame them.. its like nursing somebody in a mental institute. Would you get offended with when they cast hurtful remarks? or should we just sympathize and accept them as they are because of their mental state? I believe as a humanist that is what we should do… accept them as they are. Try to put ourselves in their shoe, and we will understand. That to me is what compassion is all about.

    [2] That is why Gandhi once said that he liked Christ but he didn’t like Christians.

    There’s a popular saying which goes as “Its the sishya/students that give their guru a bad name”.

    [3] I have no doubt that Raphael is not interested in engaging in a real debate. He consistently fails to produce the smallest evidence for the existence of God. All he does is to cite the Book of Acts and with that, he assumes that he has discharged his duty of showing that God exists.

    I see this is the trend in people who hang on to this “book/scriptures” thingy. You see them almost in most of the religious forum…be it the Muslim, the Christians and some Hindus too. But what do we learn from all these…..the danger when we hang on to book all the time …..we got stuck and not able to move forward. We rely all the time on the book that it has crippled our mind to think and go beyond. I asked a christian girl and a muslim man once over the forum, if i’m to take away the bible or the quran from you, can you discuss with me logically. lets not use the book, but use our brain for once and have a rational discussion about anything around us. Is it possible?

  • http://vivitelaeti.blogspot.com/ Lim Teng Leong

    I agree with NMadasamy’s observation of religious people. I’ve been to many religious forums and usually, a Christian (I will only talk about my own people but this applies to people of other religions too) will start a discussion with great confidence and even outright arrogance. Naturally, his arguments are all pegged on presumptions of all kinds but only he is unaware of that. Then comes some rational chap (usually an atheist) who shows the hideous flaws in the Christian’s argument. The Christian replies venomously and makes personal attack and appeals to authoritative figures in his church, again assuming that those in authority over him would have the same authority over others as well. The atheist replies and this time, it becomes obvious that the Christian is talking rubbish. It’s at this point, I think, when the scales fall from the Christian’s eyes. He backs away and disappears from the forum, fleeing ignominiously from the field of battle in which he’s been shamefully defeated.

    It’s happened so often that if I were to place a bet whenever there’s a debate on who would be mercilessly crushed, I’d be a rich man today! :)

  • Raphael Wong

    Yawwnn…

    After reading the replies on the thread, I really don’t know what to say. Firstly, have you guys not realized that I have other things to do besides hanging around NewNation all day? I haven’t come back for a while because I have been busy with other stuff, and also because I figured out the probable quality of replies. I came back to give you guys a chance, and I am dissappointed at what I have found…

    Teng Leong,

    (1) I used caps to emphasize points I wanted you to note; other than that, there is nothing really offensive in my last post to you. But I shall ignore this fake allegation and move on. (By the way, your comments to me in this post and the last weren’t very much less offensive, so it is hypocritical for you to talk about charity.)

    (2) Apart from observing all the “offence” I gave to you in the previous post, did you catch the main point? I was asking you what are your standards of evidence? How do you qualify something as evidence? Are you using courtroom standards, or something else?

    I noticed that atheists don’t seem to find courtroom-standard evidentiary quality sufficient, so I wish to know exactly what is your bar for evidence?

    I don’t think that this simple request contains any offence at all.

    Give me your standards, and I will produce evidence that matches your critera, or admit defeat. I am serious about the last part.

    (3) I did not do that because it is already out there, in numerous books and websites. I did not do that because I respected you and did not want to provide you something that bored you to tears. (Talk about Christian charity…)

    (4) And I am asking you an equally simple question that any 5-year-old child can understand: What do you consider as sufficient evidence?

    (5) I gave you the philosophical evidence (which you dismissed in a phrase without thinking about it). Since you rejected it, it is your turn to tell me what sort of evidence you are looking for.

    Calling me evasive won’t help, when you are the evasive one. I am here, waiting for you to give a proper, non-evasive answer to my question.

    I am still willing to debate, just give your evidentiary requirements.

    Cheers.

    Raphael

  • Raphael Wong

    Paul,

    By all means. I placed no particular limit on who participates in this “test”.

    Cheers.

    😀

    NMadasamy,

    You put the cart before the horse there. Religious Insitutions are created because people recognize a perfect/imperfect (good/evil) distinction in the world.

    Even Humanism does. The only difference between humanism and religious insitutions is the lexicon.

    Since you are judging me as much as you are doing in your post, you do have a notion of perfect/imperfect (good/evil), no matter how vehemently you deny it.

    Sigh …

    And scriptures describe and explain what is good to do and feel. Of course, anybody can teach their child “to do good”, but what is the content of this good?

    Religion has that as its basic principle too, only that its cocneption of the good is different from that of humanism.

    Cheers.

    Raphael

  • Raphael Wong

    Teng Leong (#2),

    Yes, indeed, you have so much Christian Charity…

    (1) yep, him and only him.

    And of all your defences of atheist arrogance, you pick up the worst one of all: Hitler was a baptised Roman Catholic. I am sick and tired of this red herring on atheist boards. Hitler was a baptised Catholic, but far from a conscientious one. Nazism has absolutely Zilch to do with Christianity; it is the product of the French Enlightenment. There are also many atheists who are baptised Christians; hence the term “Ex-Christian”.

    While the UK and France were practicing their infamous appeasement policy, Catholic Churches in Germany were publishing sermons and letters from the Pope and programmes on the Vatican Radio denouncing the policies of the Nazis, especially against Jews. That should give you and idea of just how in-tune Nazism and the Vatican were. In fact, Joseph Goebbels hated Catholic Churches in the early stages of Nazi Rule, because they were sheltering Jews. I doubt sheltering jews was ever an idea considered by Adolf Hitler.

    The pernicious lie that Hitler was doing the service of the Vatican was spread by a book called “Hitler’s Pope” in the 1970s. The book’s claims were disproven within 5 years of its publication, but the atmosphere was such that the disproofs did not make it out of academia. Even the cover of the book was dishonest – the cover photo was altered to make a weimar guard look like an SS trooper, and the photo was given a caption to reinforce that impression.

    You have a presumption that atheists are “civil” and Christians are “rude”, so you are not looking at NMadasamy’s discourse properly, that’s all I can say.

    You and everyone else on this thread have been hurling personal insults at me (so much for your Christian Charity), much more than I have done at all of you combined. I have tried to be as measured and as civil as possible, and given your “arguments” – which are really nothing more than assertions – consideration in long paragraphs. Not only have I not got any decent response, but actually been accused of being “evasive” and having “vitriol”; I guess that birds of a feather really do flock together then…

    I really hoped for a good debate; instead, all I got was the usual atheist smug assertions and evasiveness and poisoning the well. But if you are really willing to debate, I am still available.

    I wonder why I am still keeping myself available despite all these attacks being hurled at me, and all the mockery. Perhaps I do have true Christian Charity after all … 😉

    Hopefully, you’ll converse properly, respectfully, and maturely, before slapping me on the other cheek. (I leave you to find the biblical verse for that one.)

    Cheers and God Keep You Safe,
    Raphael.

  • Raphael Wong

    Teng Leong (#3),

    (1) What sort of evidence do you want? And what your criterion for the reliability of evidence? I am getting tired of asking you this question; I asked it six times already. Stop accusing me of “failing to provide evidence” and state what sort of evidence you are looking for.

    Oh and by the way, bearing false witness against thy neighbour violates the ten commandments.

    (2) You are putting words into my mouth. What I want is four passages, sufficiently different from each other, that can be proved unreliable. I want to have a real discussion on why these passages are unreliable. I am not going to ask for 40 passages, because I know that that is too unrealistic.

    What I want is four passages, where we can go through what makes each and every line reliable or not reliable.

    (3) Evidence is different from proof. Anyhow, I have still yet to meet an atheist who is willing to admit the possibility of God’s existence. If any of the atheists or humanists are willing to do so, then I will rest my case.

    If the atheists here – and you – eat the humble pie, so will I.

    (4) Enough of the name-calling! Secondly, I thought that as a Christian, you should be familiar of all the works out there that defend the reliability of Acts, so I wished to spare you the time of reading through something that you were already familiar with. If you are willing to eat the humble pie and admit that you are unfamiliar with all these arguments, I will happily provide them for you.

    I am glad that my friends here in the UK who are atheist and agnostic are not as narrow-minded as you guys over here. I suppose civility is really possible between atheists and Christians after all, even if the Christian is not someone like you who easily capitulates to the atheist viewpoint without questioning it at all.

    Neither have I – nor any proper philosopher – have the time to play games with children. If you guys don’t want to talk like mature people who bother to consider the subject matter properly, with most concurrent material, then I don’t see the point of talking with you guys any further, except out of charity.

  • Raphael Wong

    Mr Beamers,

    yes of course; atheist gloating again… I am getting used to that.

    Asking for 4 passages is not a stupid thing to do. If you are at all familiar with logic, you should be aware that merely using one passage to discredit the text is a form of hasty generalization; it may be that only that passage is at fault, and the rest of the text is shiningly perfect.

    3 passages should be enough, but I have experience on forums like these, and know that atheists tend to miss out a whole large chunk of the book they are discussing, so the 4th is for an insurance policy. Also, because some accounts in Acts span more than 1 chapter.

    I didn’t start out haughty, and I am not brought low just yet. In fact, I find your replies comical. Atheists patting each other on the back for something they did not manage to do. In all seriousness, apart from the personal attacks being hurled on me, the content of your “replies” to me are hilarious.

    Doesn’t the phrase “corroborating evidence” mean anything to you?

    Cheers,
    Raphael

  • Raphael Wong

    NMadasamy (#2),

    (1) Haha, that’s not compassion you have; that’s pity. Yes, even if it is for genuine mental patients. And given your particular emphases, I gather that you don’t understand the doctrine you think you are criticizing.

    (2) That is true. And guess who gives Rousseau, Mill, Bertrand Russell and Einstein a bad name? 😉 :p

    Cheers,
    Raphael

  • Raphael Wong

    NMadasamy (#2),

    (3) The discussion on the Book of Acts is an unfortunate accident. My first reply to Teng Leong said “since the book of Acts”, which he took to mean “in the book of Acts”. I pointed out Newton and Descartes, which he didn’t take up either.

    Cheers…

  • Raphael Wong

    Teng Leong (#4),

    Sigh … that just about displays how much Christian Charity you have at all …

    And as always, aping the atheists … Just how Christian are you, really? Quit your church already, buddy!

    And oh by the way, I am back … and still waiting for a PROPER reply from you. I have not “fled away”, except in your imagination. I am still waiting for the “hideous flaws” to be provided beyond reasonable doubt, and am wondering when you will start talking like a Christian.

    Incidentally, I have not made any appeal to the authority of any authority figure in the Church, so your comment about quoting authority is totally off-the-mark if you are referring to me.

    God Bless (if you still find it of value),
    Raphael

  • http://vivitelaeti.blogspot.com/ Lim Teng Leong

    Raphael, you might as well confess that you are not a Christian than to sully the good name of my faith by showing your vile vitriol on a public forum like this. Any reader can see what a nasty chap you are by just reading your comments. So far, I’m the only one who has enough Christian aggression to combat your belligerence while all the atheists have turned the other cheek to you.

    I will begin by showing you that Hitler is rightly called a Roman Catholic, at least that is more logical than to call him an atheist which he certainly was not. The RC church is in the habit of saying that they have so many Roman Catholics in a particular country and this is based solely on baptism records. On that basis, the RC church must accept that Hitler was a Roman Catholic since he was baptised a Roman Catholic and he was never excommunicated.

    Next, the current pope was a Nazi and no amount of subterfuge can circumvent that fact. It’s no excuse to say that all youths were forced into conscription as Nazis because I have examples of REAL CHRISTIANS who refused conscription and were prepared to go through hell because they could not find it in their hearts to join the Nazis. Whatever the pope may say about his involvement only in non-combat operations, we’ll never know if he activated the furnaces that killed innocent Jews or if he was in charge of operations to supply fuel to these concentration camps to fire the furnaces or if he was involved in the making of soap from the human fat of butchered concentration camp inmates.

    Instead of giving me evidence for God’s existence, you continuously ask me what evidence I want. I urge you to stop this deception. When asked for evidence, you do not ask what sort of evidence a person wants. Just give your bloody evidence if you have it which you obviously don’t.

    I have asked repeatedly and please don’t make me ask again: PRODUCE THE EVIDENCE FOR GOD’S EXISTENCE.

    You claimed you have given me the evidence. That is a BLATANT LIE. You have not and I will call you a LIAR if you continue to say that you have.

    What evidence have you produced?

    1. You threw the Book of Acts at me and said that was the evidence. I have told you that is not evidence. You cannot throw a book at a person and say you have submitted the evidence. If you wish to use a book as evidence for something, you must show HOW that book can be evidence for the existence of God. That you have not done. Hence, you have produced no evidence.

    2. You have mentioned the names of philosophers and thinkers. Any fool can do that but that is NOT evidence.

    3. You have mentioned the names of trite old silly arguments used throughout the ages for the existence of God, all of which have been discredited and fed to the birds, eg. the ontological argument. An argument is NOT evidence.

    You have produced nothing else. If I am mistaken, please tell me what evidence you have produced. You have three choices:

    1. Admit you are a filthy liar and you have meant to mislead everyone by saying that you have produced the evidence for God’s existence when in fact you have not (and you have wrongly accused me of not accepting the evidence when in fact no evidence was ever produced by you).

    2. Admit you are stupid and you didn’t know the meaning of the word “evidence” and you had mistakenly thought you had supplied me the evidence when you have not.

    3. Produce the evidence. I’m willing to overlook your dishonesty and/or stupidity if you will but produce the evidence for God’s existence. Don’t play children’s games with me and ask me what evidence I want. You said there was evidence for God’s existence and it’s for you to produce it. So far, you have failed to do so despite repeating flagrant lies about having done so.

    PRODUCE THE EVIDENCE!!!

  • Paul Tobin

    Raphael,

    Thanks for your reply. I would like to two suggestions (one on protocal and the other on methodology):

    a) On protocol: I would like to say at the outside that I have no interest in making any personal remarks at you or anyone else and hope that you will extend the same courtesy to me. So I hope we can keep our discussion civil.

    b) On Methodology: As you know history is all about assessing the evidcence. That means that the mere suggestion of a “possibility” without any accompanying evidence (i.e. showing how “probable” the suggestion is) is not a valid way to argue historically. (If you need me to elaborate on this, do let me know)

    If you are in agreement with the above two, I am ready to begin.

    Cheers
    Paul Tobin

  • http://vivitelaeti.blogspot.com/ Lim Teng Leong

    This is precisely how EVERY argument I’ve had with my fellow believers have ended. Their modus operandi: dead silence for weeks on end. When taunted, they reply that they are busy. But they will come back with a load of rubbish and they will not address the issue.

    I will not allow Raphael to run away and return to bark up the wrong tree. Raphael, please read my last post dated 25 January 2011. I have explained very clearly that you have totally FAILED to produce the smallest evidence for God’s existence. PRODUCE THE EVIDENCE OR ADMIT YOU WERE WRONG AND UNTRUTHFUL.

  • http://vivitelaeti.blogspot.com/ Lim Teng Leong

    Raphael Wong, have you taken the vow of silence? At least have the decency to say you’re thoroughly and ignominiously defeated.

  • seriously?

    the idea of writing a comment is to express personal opinions and please. stop the taunting and insults.

    @lim teng leong
    you wanted proof of a God? here’s something to ponder. think about the location of earth relative to the sun(if u don’t get the importance of this i will get back to you). Think about how a bunch of ATGC can arrange themselves to form the primitive life on earth, about how our moon comes stabilize earth’s rotation. the chances of all these things occurring to favor life on earth makes striking the El Gordo an uninteresting probability. now i wouldn’t declare it as a miracle of God just so you can jump on my tail, but i guess if u believe everything is just probability and dice rolls then i will say no more.

    @raphael
    we have our own belief. so i would like to think that putting out your point will be enough and you don’t have to get defensive about anything. as for the challenges that others throw for you, assuming that you are Christian, i guess it will be appropriate for you to say. Let’s see who will have the last laugh.

    cheers everyone. religion is a issue that has been debated throughout human history. its not like what is said here today will impact the future of your religion significantly. ps. i don’t believe in butterfly effects nor the chaos theory.

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