Clueless Christian attempts to explain why atheists don’t exist.

I’m always amused when a believer tries to explain to me how it’s not possible for me to be something I know myself to be. Clint Decker at the Ottawa Herald is just the latest to lay claim to the idea that there are no atheists:

What is an atheist? This may sound like a simple question, but there are different answers within the expanding atheistic community.

Already we’re off to a bad start. Here he asks a question and then fails to provide an answer despite claiming there are multiple possibilities. The whole column is pretty short so perhaps he was trying to save space. No, that doesn’t really work as an explanation because there’s a very simple and concise explanation that would’ve taken less space than what he typed: “An atheist is someone who lacks a belief in God(s).” That pretty much sums it up.

You can get more granular, as some folks do, and place yourself an a gnostic/agnostic scale or limit your lack of belief to “known” Gods while accepting the idea that some form of God might exist, but that’s splitting hairs. You’ll still find we have fewer divisions of thought on the topic than the Christian religion with its 41,000 or so denominations.

Atheism is growing in the United States and for decades has had a firm hold on entire nations through communistic based governments like China and North Korea.

thefuckyourgoddoesntgiveThe first part of that sentence is true. The second part is only part of the truth. Yes, China and North Korea are communist countries that officially discourage religious belief, but both countries do have religious groups within them including some Christians. China in particular relaxed its stance on religious belief quite some time ago. In both cases the governments encourage atheism not because it thinks that’s the right stance to take so much as it eliminates a competing power over the people.

Clint conveniently decides not to mention Sweden or Denmark, where religious believers number a mere 17% and 18% respectively, probably because he wouldn’t be able to put in the negative connotation that atheism and communism run hand in hand. Norway is another highly atheistic country that is also ranked as one of the happiest. Perhaps Clint is ignorant of these non-communist, but still highly atheist countries.

I’m going to quote the next few paragraphs together because Clint uses it to make a pretty sketchy jump in logic:

As best I can tell only once in the Scriptures does God address atheism directly saying, “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God’” (Psalm 14:1). Otherwise, the Scriptures do not devote much time to it, because God does not see atheism as His biggest concern. The Ten Commandments show the focus of His concern when He says, “You shall have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:3).

God assumes two things. We will either worship Him or something else. Nowhere does He assume we will worship at the altar of nothing. Since an atheist would admittedly not worship any god then let us ask “What is a god?”

Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines a god as “A person or thing of supreme value.” I argue this is what atheists are unto themselves. Since they have nothing to exalt outside of themselves they become their own god thinking more highly of themselves then they should. They worship the god of themselves and are their own living and breathing idol they bow down to.

Got that? God only addressed atheism once because God assumes you’re going to worship something so if you’re not worshiping God you must be worshiping yourself because of a cherry-picked definition of “God” that Clint managed to find in the Merriam-Webster dictionary.

Clint is trying desperately to find a way to deal with the fact that the Commandment specifically says “you shall have no other gods before me” because clearly God didn’t mean “gods” because there’s only the one God. Except that there have always been other Gods in the forms of other religious beliefs. There are religions that predate Christianity and even Judaism by thousands of years. There were plenty of well-established belief systems by the time the Jews decided they were the chosen people and just as you can find some non-Jewish believers in Judaism, the reverse is also true. The founders of Judaism couldn’t have that so in goes the commandment about other Gods. While there are plenty of passages where God claims to be the only God, there are plenty more where it appears God seems to think there are other Gods that he’s worried will steal away his followers. He is, after all, self-admittedly jealous of those other Gods.

So Clint starts digging around in a dictionary to see if he can find some way to deal with that “other gods” bit and comes across that minor definition he quotes above which he uses to make the argument that atheists must think overly highly of themselves and thus end up worshiping themselves. He doesn’t say what that sort of worship would consist of or what rituals we engage in or how he knows we think too highly of ourselves, but never mind that. He’s got a dodgy argument to conclude:

Atheists build a box around themselves keeping God out with only themselves inside. Their means of living is purely self-sufficient, cutting off all the blessings and beauty of the one true God only doing, controlling and becoming what they can manage. It is like they say, “All I want. All I need is right here in this box.”

Huh. He says that like it’s a bad thing. I thought Conservatives were all about personal responsibility and being self-sufficient and not relying on others to take care of your sorry ass? You’d think he’d appreciate someone who can be content with what he has instead of longing for some greater undeserved reward.

God the Creator who made us (including all the atheists) put a natural desire within us to seek and know Him. When atheists put a box around themselves, it instinctively sets off a divine internal restlessness.

Really? I don’t feel restless. At least not with regards to spiritual matters. Does it feel different than other forms of restlessness? Like when you’re itching for a new video game, but you really can’t afford it and there’s no Steam sale going on so you just go back to playing the stuff you already have, but it’s just not hitting the spot so you go on Netflix and can’t find anything you haven’t seen a million times already? Cause that’s a pretty bad itch and I can’t remember the last time I felt that way about God.

Clint wraps up his bad argument with a challenge:

I challenge every atheist to open the box, step out and seek his or her Creator. You were made to know Him. There is no reason to fear. God loves you and seeks your best for His glory. May Jesus be your hope for today.

There’s no reason to fear? What about all that shit-talking God does in the Bible about how you should fear him?

I’ll tell you what, Clint. I’ll take up your challenge if you promise to do the reverse. Try out atheism for awhile and see how that works for you. It’s only fair. Plus, if we’re right, there really isn’t anything to fear. Well, other than possibly losing your faith.

Phil Robertson uses a straw man argument to make a stupid point.

strawmancardPhil Robertson, for those of you who don’t watch Duck Dynasty, is one of the darlings of the Religious Right for his very conservatives views on everything from gays to atheists. You might of heard about him back when he got kicked off his own show for some bigoted comments about homosexuals he made in an interview with GQ magazine only for A&E to turn around and reinstate him before the show resumed filming. It had everyone on the Right in an uproar and A&E decided the show’s ratings were more important than having principles.

Anyway, he’s still giving interviews where he says awesomely stupid things. His most recent was on Friday over at “Trunews”, a Conservative Christian website run by Rick Wiles. While discussing healthcare insurance Robertson veers off into a tale of an atheist whose daughters are raped in front of him, his wife is decapitated, and his dick is cut off to make a point about right and wrong:

“I’ll make a bet with you,” Robertson said. “Two guys break into an atheist’s home. He has a little atheist wife and two little atheist daughters. Two guys break into his home and tie him up in a chair and gag him. And then they take his two daughters in front of him and rape both of them and then shoot them and they take his wife and then decapitate her head off in front of him. And then they can look at him and say, ‘Isn’t it great that I don’t have to worry about being judged? Isn’t it great that there’s nothing wrong with this? There’s no right or wrong, now is it dude?’”

Robertson kept going: “Then you take a sharp knife and take his manhood and hold it in front of him and say, ‘Wouldn’t it be something if this [sic] was something wrong with this? But you’re the one who says there is no God, there’s no right, there’s no wrong, so we’re just having fun. We’re sick in the head, have a nice day.’”

“If it happened to them,” Robertson continued, “they probably would say, ‘something about this just ain’t right.”

via Phil Robertson Hypothesizes About Atheist Family Getting Raped And Killed | Right Wing Watch.

The problem with this — other than it’s somewhat disturbing the sort of things Robertson fantasizes about — is it’s a straw man depiction of what atheists think. About the only thing Robertson gets right is the fact that atheists don’t think there’s a God or Gods that’ll judge the killers for their actions. To suggest that that means we don’t think there’s such a thing as right and wrong is simply not true. I’ve yet to meet an atheist who has espoused the sincerely held belief that there is no right or wrong.

It’s not difficult to come up with a moral system that doesn’t rely on edicts from God(s) to establish right and wrong. There are several different systems of Secular Morality already. Ranging from Secular Humanism to Freethinking to Consequentialism. Personally, I tend to fall in the Freethinking category, but there are aspects of Secular Humanism I adhere to as well.

On top of that, the morality depicted in the Bible is not only questionable at best, but God himself has a hard time adhering to it. At various times he’s commanded his followers to break any number of the Ten Commandments he supposedly considered so important he wrote them down for us. Apparently it’s OK to break the rules when God commands you to. In fact, if the fictional killers in Robertson’s twisted tale were acting under the orders of God I’m willing to bet that Robertson, had he some reason to believe that were indeed the case, would consider them perfectly justified in following through on them. It wouldn’t be the first time God had ordered his followers to wipe out people He considered bad (see the tale of Vengeance on the Midianites in Numbers 31: 1-47 for a great example).

religionhorriblepersonPeople like Robertson who believe that without God to tell them right from wrong there’s no reason for them not to go around killing and raping worry me. One would hope that there’s more than just a book of fairy tales keeping these people from being monsters. Considering the truly heinous things a large number of Christians are capable of in spite of their belief that God has defined an objective morality and the threat of eternity in Hell, it would be a nightmare if they could be convinced that those things don’t exist.

Every so often on Facebook I’ll see an image macro come up that says: “I am a Christian. You can ridicule me. You can torture me. You can kill me. But you cannot change my mind.” All I can think when I see it is: Given what some of you think is OK if God doesn’t exist, it’s probably for the best you’re so closed minded.

SEB Mailbag: How not to convert an atheist.

61182_402075513237596_1585133137_nThe SEB Mailbag isn’t as active as it used to be, but then neither am I. Every now and then I’ll get a missive from some good natured person who is worried about my eternal soul. I got one such email this morning and I thought I’d present it as a good bad example of attempting to convince someone to believe in Jesus. Note: I’m not naming the person who sent it because it was an effort at good will even though the subject line read “hate mail.”

Here it is in its entirety:

God so loved you that He now even give you the chance again to call upon His Son Jesus Christ Name just to give Him a chance in your live. You are going to stand in any case in front of Him one day. Jesus loves you and that is why I also love you, please give Jesus a chance. Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device

First off, thanks for taking the time to sit down and compose such an amazing argument on your Blackberry. It shows just how shallow your concern for my soul really is that you couldn’t be bothered to make sure it was completely comprehensible or required more than two thumbs to type.

There’s three statements in this argument which we’ll breakdown one at a time starting with that first attempt at a sentence:

God so loved you that He now even give you the chance again to call upon His Son Jesus Christ Name just to give Him a chance in your live.

It’s not entirely clear what you’re trying to say, but my guess is that in spite of all the terrible things I’ve done in my life I still have the opportunity to ask God to let Jesus into my heart blah blah blah and I should just give Jesus a chance.

1010245_494868663920957_892655251_nAs I said in the reply I sent you, what makes you think I haven’t given Jesus a chance? Anyone who spends any amount of time reading my blog (particularly under the About Me category/tag) will know that I used to be a pretty faithful Christian in my youth. Up until I read the Bible from front to back and found myself with a whole host of questions that the clergy in my life couldn’t readily answer. My faith was never at question until I started to seriously study the Bible and then the folks who should have reasonable answers to my questions instead told me to try not to think so hard about it. During that time I prayed to Jesus quite a bit. I’d say I gave him more than enough chances over the years and, even now, I’m totally willing to be convinced that he does exist and gives a shit about my well being, but so far I’ve yet to see anything that would lead me to think that that’s the case.

Surely if Jesus does exist and does want me to believe in him he’s more than capable of providing me with ample reason to accept both of those facts. The fact that he hasn’t implies that he either doesn’t really give a shit or, more likely, doesn’t exist to give a shit. I’m still open to the possibility, but I’m not going to believe without good reason to do so.

You are going to stand in any case in front of Him one day.

This statement only makes sense if you accept that Jesus does exist. To someone who doesn’t believe that to be true it’s just silly. You may as well argue that I should continue to leave out cookies for Santa Claus because someday I’ll meet him and he’s going to want to know why the fuck I stopped doing that.

Before that statement would have any meaning to an atheist you’d have to have a reasonable argument for why a God of any kind might actually exist and then you’d have to have a reasonable argument for why your particular God exists and how you have any clue what-the-fuck-ever what he wants from his creation. In short, you’re a long way from a point where that statement would be even the tiniest bit effective. You need to remember that you’re talking to someone who doesn’t believe in God(s) of any kind. Saying that they’ll have to stand before one of them someday is just a form of veiled threat that is hard to take seriously when you don’t believe in the thing you’re being threatened with.

 Jesus loves you and that is why I also love you, please give Jesus a chance.

So, in other words, the only reason you give a shit about me is because you believe God wants you to. That implies that without said God you wouldn’t have any concern for my well being at all. Christians like to toss around the word “love” quite a bit, but I worry that they don’t fully understand its meaning because all too often what they say they do out of love doesn’t feel all that loving to me.

cat-bible-thumperMaybe I’m too cynical, but often these sorts of pleas from believers to “give Jesus a chance” feel less like they’re about any genuine concern for my soul and more about the believer’s attempts at scoring brownie points with their God. Seriously. This email is a half-assed attempt at spreading the word that is the minimal effort required so that once they’re standing in front of their God and are asked why they didn’t convert more people they can shrug and say “Hey, I tried, but the assholes wouldn’t listen to reason!”

You’d think that if they were really serious they’d take the time to get know someone and try to understand their viewpoint before trying to convince them to change them. That takes an investment of time and energy that most Christians just aren’t interested in devoting to the cause. Instead it’s much easier to toss out short, three sentence “arguments” that they must know have no hope in Hell of being convincing to anyone who doesn’t already believe in their God. Go ahead and wipe your hands on your pants ’cause you’ve fulfilled your Christian requirements.

I’ve thought about the existence of Gods and the afterlife for many, many years so it would take a pretty amazing argument — or an act of Jesus himself — to convince me to believe. So I’m not surprised that most Christians wouldn’t want to invest that amount of time and energy into convincing me. Which is fine as I’m not overly concerned that I might be wrong, but if you’re going to bother then at least put some effort into it, eh?

James the Preacher explains why atheists are atheists. We’re too stupid to know better.

Click to embiggen.

All these years I thought I was an atheist because I just didn’t see any evidence in support of the concept of God(s). After much critical thought and application of reason it seemed pretty logical that God, at least as described by the major religions of the world, is the result of wishful thinking and lack of understanding of the natural world.

But according to James the Preacher, it’s not possible that I used reason and logic because I’m just too stupid to do so. Also, I love sin too much to let it go:

In case you don’t want to watch the video it all boils down to the Bible says we’re fools for not believing in God (Psalm 14) and an old edition of Webster’s Dictionary defines a fool as “one destitute of reason, or of the common powers of understanding; an idiot”. Put the two together and, voila, atheists are too stupid to understand the concept that a Creation requires a Creator.

The problem with that argument is that it assumes the Universe is a creation as opposed to the results of a natural process. Certainly the dictionary James the Preacher is using would suggest that is the case as it sites “specifically, the act of bringing the universe or this world into existence” as one of the definitions of Creation, but the dictionary is not a scientific authority on the issue. Nor, for that matter, is the Bible. Still, the argument commonly used is that you can’t get something from nothing so there has to be a creator to have brought the Universe into existence and that creator is God.

We don’t know the full story of how the Big Bang happened yet, but we’re getting closer to it all the time and there’s evidence that it was a natural outcome that may not even be unique. Additionally, physics has shown us that something can spring from nothing and happens all the time in what would otherwise be considered empty space. If you have an hour to spare you can learn a lot about how the Universe could come from nothing in this talk by Lawrence Krauss on that very topic:

He has since written a book with the same title that goes further in-depth on how this is possible: A Universe from Nothing: Why There Is Something Rather than Nothing. If you spend any amount of time watching Krauss’ talk or reading his book you’ll note that he doesn’t come across as being particularly stupid yet, according to James the Preacher’s simplistic argument, he’s just this side of a drooling moron because he doesn’t believe in God.

The point being, there’s been a lot of effort and thought put into the mystery of how the Universe could come to exist via totally natural processes. On one side we have all of this research and experimentation that provides evidence that you can get something from nothing and the Universe may be a naturally occurring thing with no supernatural causes behind it. On the other hand we have a book largely written by bronze-age goat herders that says an invisible, all-powerful, all-knowing being decided one day, for no particular reason, to create the “heavens and the earth” and then created light (prior to any light sources) and then the sky and then put all the water in one spot so there would be land and then he created plants, and then stars, the sun and moon, animals of the sea and land, and finally man and it all took about a week. There’s no evidence to support that account of how the Universe came to be. None. Zero. Nada. It makes logical sense to accept the explanation that has at least some evidence backing it up, but James the Preacher says no, that makes you a fool and an idiot.

OK, I guess I’m an idiot then. At least by the definition that James the Preacher is using. I’m not going to bother with the second half of his argument — that atheists love sin — because it’s even stupider than his first argument and I’ve wasted more time on him than he deserves already. I just wanted to point out his mistaken assumption that Creation is the only possible explanation for the Universe. Not is it not the only possibility, it’s not even as well supported by the evidence than many of the other possibilities.

Too Much Faith Will Make You Crazy: Stabbing yourself in the hand edition.

True Believers will do some crazy things to try and prove to an atheist that God is real. For example, during a recent “Ask an Atheist” event at Virginia Tech freshman student Alexander M. Huppert thought he had come up with an irrefrutable argument that God does exist:

Witnesses said Huppert stood near the table for nearly an hour. Approaching the table, Huppert borrowed a pen and drew a circle with a cross inside on the back of his hand.

Nicole Schrand, a senior psychology major, said Huppert then asked students at the table to stab him in the cross with the pen to “prove to us God existed.” The students declined.

“We don’t believe in assaulting people,” Schrand said. “We’re very against assaulting people.”

Huppert then asked for the pen back, a request Schrand and other students declined. Seeing another pen, Huppert grabbed it and began stabbing himself in the back of the hand.

“If it had been a more streamlined pen, I would have expected it to go through,” Schrand said.

I’m not sure I see the logic in this argument. Are we supposed to think that because this nutcase is willing to be stabbed repeatedly in his hand that this proves God exists?

Apparently, this was an important issue for Mr. Huppert as when the police showed up he refused to cooperate. Opting instead to smack the officer whereupon things quickly went downhill ending with him arrested and smashing out the back window of a cop car:

Huppert was charged with three counts of felony assault on a police officer, as well as charges of resisting arrest and destruction of property.

He was processed and transferred to Montgomery County Jail, where he is being held without bond.

The only thing he managed to convince the atheists about was his lack of sanity. But at least he demonstrated how well Christianity instills one with kindness and love for his fellow man.

Stupid Arguments for God: Scientific Proof of the Bible #1.

Using nothing but ice cream and chocolate bars the folks over at The TRUTH™ Group present: Scientific Proof of the Bible #1.

Wow. I’m totally convinced by that bit of reasoning. Pardon me while I rush out and convert back to being a Christian. How can anyone hope to remain an atheist in the face of such astounding logic and evidence of the Bible’s truthiness? Not to mention the high production values of that video. The Reese’s-Jesus t-shirt was a nice touch.

Found over at the Atheist Media Blog which I’ll have to never visit again now that I’ve reached enlightenment.