THE DOCTRINE OF ATHEISM

A diagram showing the relationship between the definitions of weak/strong and implicit/explicit atheism.
Explicit strong/positive/hard atheists (in purple on the right) assert that “at least one deity exists” is a false statement.
Explicit weak/negative/soft atheists (in blue on the right) reject or eschew belief that any deities exist without actually asserting that “at least one deity exists” is a false statement.
Implicit weak/negative atheists (in blue on the left), according to authors such as George H. Smith, would include people (such as young children and some agnostics) who do not believe in a deity but have not explicitly rejected such belief.
(Sizes in the diagram are not meant to indicate relative sizes within a population.) (from here)

Why this post? Well, when I had a discussion with sklyjd at this post, YOU HAVE REDEEMED ME, O LORD GOD OF TRUTH, I promised (here) I would write this post.

What is the purpose of this post? sklyjd, like most Atheists, insists that Atheism is not a religion. Supposedly, Atheism is just a logical and rational disbelief in god, and such disbelief is not a religion (See Is atheism a religion? (atheistalliance.org), for example.). Here we will argue otherwise.

What is a religion? That is a subject I have written about before, IN THE LAND OF THOSE WHO STAND FOR NOTHING, HOW DO WE DEFINE RELIGION?. Here is a simple definition of religion.

Religion is the state of being grasped by an ultimate concern, a concern which qualifies all other concerns as preliminary and which itself contains the answer to the question of the meaning of life. — Paul Tillich (from here)

Why do we have religious beliefs? We seek answers.

There are four big questions in life.
–Why am I here?
–What is right and wrong?
–What brings me meaning
–What happens to a human being when I die?
— List from Ravi Zacharias (an expert in Christian apologetics) who says there are Four Questions To Answer In Life.(=>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hfb5-7mtC-8)

So, what answers do Atheists provide? That depends on the Atheist. As the diagram above shows, there is more than one kind of Atheist.

There are two basic forms of atheism: “strong” atheism and “weak” atheism. Strong atheism is the doctrine that there is no God or gods. Weak atheism is the disbelief in or denial of the existence of God or gods. Weak atheism is often confused with agnosticism, the lack of belief or disbelief in God or gods, and skepticism, the doctrine that the absolute knowledge of God’s existence is unobtainable by mere man. Many agnostics and skeptics are “practical atheists” in that they actively pursue an atheistic lifestyle. The exclusion of God necessitates moral relativism. (from here)

Just as there are various types of Theists, there exists more than one type of Atheist. Just as there are doctrinal differences between Theists, there are also doctrinal differences between Atheists. Therefore, just as different groups of Theists have their own distinct religious doctrines, so do different groups of Atheists. In fact, some Theists have more in common with some Atheists than they do with some Theists. What we believe about God greatly affects how we relate to our fellow human beings. Similarly, some Atheists have more in common with some Theists than they do with other Atheists. An Atheist does not have to be a cold-hearted soul. Even if a man espouses a disbelief in God, his heart may still drive him to love his neighbor. As we say, the Devil is in the details (phrases.org.uk).

Must Theists and Atheists be antagonistic? No.

Friendly atheism; William Rowe has introduced an important distinction to modern discussions of atheism. If someone has arrived at what they take to be a reasonable and well-justified conclusion that there is no God, then what attitude should she take about another person’s persistence in believing in God, particularly when that other person appears to be thoughtful and at least prima facie reasonable?  It seems that the atheist could take one of several views.  The theist’s belief, as the atheist sees it, could be rational or irrational, justified or unjustified.  Must the atheist who believes that the evidence indicates that there is no God conclude that the theist’s believing in God is irrational or unjustified?  Rowe’s answer is no.  (Rowe 1979, 2006) (from here (iep.utm.edu))

Oddly, one of the world’s largest “religions”, Buddhism, is largely Atheistic. Yet most people (Americans, at least) don’t see Buddhists as hostile to their own beliefs. See SHOULD WE BECOME DETACHED FROM THE WORLD?.

Do Atheist churches exist? Buddhists complicate the answer to this question, but the answer is “no” for the groups we usually classify as Atheists. Atheists, at least in the sense that Theists, especially Christians, do not organize churches. Because the Bible distinguishes between the obligations we owe to the state and the obligations we have to God (Matthew 22:21), most Christians strongly object to state-run religious institutions. Other Theistic religions differ, but many countries now distinguish between church and state. State atheism (en.wikipedia.org) has, however been an integral part of the communist movement. Effectively, as far as communists are concerned, the state is the church.

If there is no single Atheist organization, what does the doctrine of Atheism look like? Let’s try going from general to particular and see.

Here is a general statement of what Atheists believe.

Presuppositions are important to us all.  We look at the world through them.  The atheist has a set of presuppositions, too.  As I said, there is no definitive atheist organization that defines the absolutes of atheism, but there are basic principles that atheists, as a whole, tend to adopt.  I’ve tried to list some of them below.  Please note, however, that not all atheists accept all of these tenets.  The only absolute common one to which they hold is that they do not believe in a God or gods.

  1. There is no God or devil.
  2. There is no supernatural realm.
  3. Miracles cannot occur.
  4. There is no such thing as sin as a violation of God’s will.
  5. Generally, the universe is materialistic and measurable.
  6. Man is material.
  7. Generally, evolution is considered a scientific fact.
  8. Ethics and morals are relative.

(from here (carm.org))

What about a particular type of Atheist or an Atheist sect? Let’s use the “New Atheists to provide an example. What is the New Atheism? (gotquestions.org)

Answer: The early 21st century has seen secularism and atheism promoted throughout the Western world with an ever-increasing vigor and militancy. This has led to the emergence of the “new atheists,” notable members of which include best-selling authors such as Sam Harris, Daniel Dennett, Richard Dawkins, and Christopher Hitchens. (continued here)

Here are some of the things the New Atheists believe.

❄ There is something called “Faith” which can be defined as unjustified belief held in the teeth of the evidence. Faith is primarily a matter of false propositional belief.

❄ The cure for faith is science: The existence of God is a scientific question: either he exists or he doesn’t. “Science is the only way of knowing – everything else is just superstition” [Robert L. Park]

❄ Science is the opposite of religion, and will lead people into the clear sunlit uplands of reason. “The real war is between rationalism and superstition. Science is but one form of rationalism, while religion is the most common form of superstition” [Jerry Coyne] “I am not attacking any particular version of God or gods. I am attacking God, all gods, anything and everything supernatural, wherever and whenever they have been or will be invented.” [Dawkins]

❄ In this great struggle, religion is doomed. Enlightened common sense is gradually triumphing and at the end of the process, humanity will assume a new and better character, free from the shackles of religion. Without faith, we would be better as well as wiser. Conflict is primarily a result of misunderstanding, of which Faith is the paradigm. (Looking for links, I just came across a lovely example of this in the endnotes to the Selfish Gene, where lawyers are dismissed as “solving man-made problems that should never have existed in the first place”.)

❄ Religion exists. It is essentially something like American fundamentalist protestantism, or Islam. More moderate forms are false and treacherous: if anything even more dangerous, because they conceal the raging, homicidal lunacy that is religion’s true nature. [Sam Harris]

❄ Faith, as defined above, is the most dangerous and wicked force on earth today and the struggle against it and especially against Islam will define the future of humanity. [Everyone]

(from here (theguardian.com))

What is distinctive about the New Atheism? The new Atheists are much more militant than the “old Atheists”. Consider. Would Atheists have any interest in protecting the religious beliefs of Theists? That probably depends upon their attitude towards our civil rights. Are our rights God-given or given to us by government? A weak Atheist may not believe in God, but a weak Atheist may still, for some ill-defined reason, think that each of us has innate rights. A strong Atheist (and the new Atheists are strong Atheists), however, tends to believe in power, that might makes right. Hence, we can only have rights to the extent the state defines and enforces those rights.

What do I think is the doctrine of strong atheism? This doctrine involves the things Atheists put before God: getting stuff, enjoying sex, justifying themselves with science, finding security in power of the state, and self glorification.

STUFF: Without the desire to please God, we define success by the stuff we have. Socialism is popular because it is based upon covetousness.

SEX: Without the belief in God to activate our consciences, we elevate our own pleasure over the rights of others. For the sake of sex, we sacrifice babies — abort them — in sacrifice to this idol.

SCIENCE: Without God to help us define truth, we use science (our own knowledge and understanding) to justify our unbelief. That is, we use science to justify ourselves, not to determine the truth. This is what Nazis and the Communists did and still do.

STATE: Without God to hold us accountable — because we know we each belong to Him — we sacrifice each other’s rights to the almighty state. If power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely, that’s an act of irrational faith. Trusting the state means trusting powerful, ambitious men and women, that is, trusting people we have no good reason to trust.

SELF: Without God, we each become our own god. Without God, we each pursue our own glorification. Without God, we measure ourselves against each other. We ask ourselves: “Am I better than you?” This is perhaps why slavery has been so commonplace. Slavery is the most visible manifestation of the worship of the self. The Bible says we belong to God, that God grants us our rights. However, if there is no God and government grants us our rights, then the strong have the right to own the weak because of their might. In a Socialist state, the elites use the government to elevate themselves and to own the people.

Additional References

54 thoughts on “THE DOCTRINE OF ATHEISM

  1. “What do I think is the doctrine of strong atheism? This doctrine involves the things Atheists put before God: getting stuff, enjoying sex, justifying themselves with science, finding security in power of the state, and self glorification.”

    Well, since your god doesn’t exist, it’s hard not to put everything in front of an imaginary character that you’ve invented in your image.

    “STUFF: Without the desire to please God, we define success by the stuff we have. Socialism is popular because it is based upon covetousness.”

    That’s not socialism. But it’s nothing new to see a Christian try to lie and redefine words.

    “SEX: Without the belief in God to activate our consciences, we elevate our own pleasure over the rights of others. For the sake of sex, we sacrifice babies — abort them — in sacrifice to this idol.”

    Again, another lie that only Christians have consciences. Sex is fun, and abortion is the right of others, that *you* want to take away. Such a hypocrite.

    “SCIENCE: Without God to help us define truth, we use science (our own knowledge and understanding) to justify our unbelief. That is, we use science to justify ourselves, not to determine the truth. This is what Nazis and the Communists did and still do.”

    Since Christians can’t show that they have any truth, or that their god exist, this is no more than the vanity of Christians to think they can tell everyone lies and that they must believe them. Poor author, he uses science as long as it makes him comfy but attacks it when it shows that his fantasies are false.

    “STATE: Without God to hold us accountable — because we know we each belong to Him — we sacrifice each other’s rights to the almighty state. If power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely, that’s an act of irrational faith. Trusting the state means trusting powerful, ambitious men and women, that is, trusting people we have no good reason to trust.”

    Which version of this god? Yours? A Christian who disagrees with you’s version? You don’t agree on what this god wants or what morals should be held, so all we have is a pitiful attempt to declare opinion as truth. No state has absolute power, but hmmm, if absolute power corrupts, your god is the most corrupt being ever. Funny how that works.

    “SELF: Without God, we each become our own god. Without God, we each pursue our own glorification. Without God, we measure ourselves against each other. We ask ourselves: “Am I better than you?” This is perhaps why slavery has been so commonplace. Slavery is the most visible manifestation of the worship of the self. The Bible says we belong to God, that God grants us our rights. However, if there is no God and government grants us our rights, then the strong have the right to own the weak because of their might. In a Socialist state, the elites use the government to elevate themselves and to own the people.”

    Christians do a great job of making themselves god since they invent their god in their own image, with the same hatreds and desires. Your god approved of slavery and encouraged it, from the OT to the NT. This god says that people should never try to escape but they should remain with cruel masters.

    You sure are upset about socialism. Funny how Jesus Christ advocated for taking care of each other, which is what socialism is. Your religion says that the strong should have control over the weak, Romans 13 is a great example of that. This god never advocates for democracy, only kingdoms/dictatorships.

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    1. @Club

      Usual distortions. Sigh!

      Will deal with just one. Jesus advocated personal and voluntary charity. Socialism provides a fancy excuse for politician-run charity. Politician-run charity is just stealing. It is neither personal nor voluntary.

      Watch any bully in action. Try looking in a mirror. For some reason — probably to excuse his guilt and to further toment his victim with shame — bullies always find some excuse to blame their victims for being bullied. That is all you are doing.

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      1. Of course again we see accusations but no evidence of “distortions”. Jesus did advocate personal and voluntary charity. You lie that politician run charity is stealing. You can’t show that and you are bearing false witness. You are choosing to lie.

        You again show you have no idea what socialism is, Tom. You have to lie about it to make excuses. Read a little about that which you attack poorly since you are so willfully ignorant about it: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Socialism

        It’s no wonder you didn’t even try with my other points, but decided to lie about them too. No surprise at all.

        That’s all you have left, isn’t it? False claims that since I’ve shown you making false claims i’m now a “bully”. As for you being a “victim” oh please. What a sad wannabee martyr you are.

        Nope, no guilt at all for showing how a conservative Christian is a liar and who tries to spread false information.

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        1. @Club

          Words convey concepts. The word “stealing” represents what? Here is the first definition from => https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/steal.

          steal : to take the property of another wrongfully and especially as a habitual or regular practice

          Taxation involves taking money from We the People whether we want to give it up or not. When does taxation become wrongful? Why does government exist? The Declaration of Independence gives this reason.

          We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. –That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,

          Does the Declaration include anything that looks like Socialism as a reason for government? No. Does our Constitution empower Congress to redistribute the wealth? No.

          Do politicians use redistributing the wealth as a way to buy our votes? Of course, they do. That is stealing. And you know it. You want to call me a liar? Fine. I will just consider the source and shrug it off. Accusations are your forte, not reasoned argument.

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          1. poor greedy Tom, anyone who takes his money to better the world is “stealing” from him. Good to see you Ebeneezer.

            And always a sad little conservative Christian tries to ignore the US Constitution, which does say that taxation is to support those things required for the Republic. Sorry, you fail again Tom “The Congress shall have Power to lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States. ”

            Greedy Tom, tries to pretend that I agree with him, and he fails again with his lies. Again, Tom, don’t dare use the highway system, modern medicines that lots of us support with our “redistributed wealth”, benefit from providing education to the citizenry, accept help from the National Guards that assist people in disasters, sicne that is all distributing wealth to those without from those with. Hate with all your soul that children get free lunches, and someone with an illness gets healthcare on *your* dime.

            And nice to see you quote the Declaration that shows that your bible is wrong about government. It claims this nonsense “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities; for there is no authority except from God, and those authorities that exist have been instituted by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists authority resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Do you wish to have no fear of the authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive its approval; 4 for it is God’s servant for your good. But if you do what is wrong, you should be afraid, for the authority does not bear the sword in vain! It is the servant of God to execute wrath on the wrongdoer. 5 Therefore one must be subject, not only because of wrath but also because of conscience. 6 For the same reason you also pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, busy with this very thing. 7 Pay to all what is due them—taxes to whom taxes are due, revenue to whom revenue is due, respect to whom respect is due, honor to whom honor is due.”

            Happily, we have a democracy, not a kingdom or a dictatorship. But golly, Tom, see how you are to pay taxes no matter what, since this god supposedly puts *all* government in place. Where is it your right to dispute your god and those people he put in place? Tsk, such arrogance, Tom. One might realize that you make up your religion wholesale by your cherry picking.

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          2. @Club

            When the best you can do is to cite the beginning of Article 2, Section 8, that’s pathetic! The word welfare doesn’t come close to meaning what you think it means, not that far back.
            https://www.etymonline.com/search?q=welfare

            Our nation is still a constitutional republic, not a democracy. That is why Trump, not Hillary Clinton, is president. Duh!

            That passage from Romans refers to the fact that almost any government is better than none at all. At the time, the people of the Roman Empire accepted the Caesars as their rulers. Relatively speaking, the Romans ruled justly.

            Consider. When the American colonies rebelled against King George III, they did so in a very orderly fashion. That is why we have the Declaration of Independence. The rebels wanted everyone to understand that King George III no longer had any legitimate right to rule over them. They made it plain they had tried to avoid rebellion and that King George III had left them with no other choice.

            Look at my latest post. Words have a good purpose, but you just use words with malice in mind. Sad!

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          3. poor Tom, again, reality bites a conservative liar in the butt. Now, Tom has to try to change words and meaning to support his greedy and selfish self.

            Our nation is indeed a constitutional republic and no, the reason that Trump is president and not hilary is because of an outmoded electoral college system. You know, that one that conservatives hate until it gives them a sexual molester who supports dictators who kills their own people.

            Again, Tom tries to interpret the bible and fails. it says nothign about any government is better than no government. It says that all gov’t leaders are put in place by this god, which means Obama, Clinton, Trump are all by this god. And Tom hates that idea, so he lies about his bible. As for the romans ruling justly, funny how Christians claim that they didn’t when it came to Jesus Christ. Wow, Tom, thanks for showing how hypocritical you are again.

            The Declaration of Independence shows that the Founding Fathers didn’t believe your bible’s nonsense about the divine right of kings laid out in Romans 13.

            The declaration: “That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. ”

            and compare that with Romans 13:

            ” Let every person be subject to the governing authorities; for there is no authority except from God, and those authorities that exist have been instituted by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists authority resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Do you wish to have no fear of the authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive its approval; 4 for it is God’s servant for your good. But if you do what is wrong, you should be afraid, for the authority does not bear the sword in vain! It is the servant of God to execute wrath on the wrongdoer. 5 Therefore one must be subject, not only because of wrath but also because of conscience. 6 For the same reason you also pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, busy with this very thing. 7 Pay to all what is due them—taxes to whom taxes are due, revenue to whom revenue is due, respect to whom respect is due, honor to whom honor is due.”

            Again, reality defeats Tom.

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    2. CS,

      It is not hard to point out what you perceive as the errors and hypocrisies of others. The true rationalist, operates from the perspective that she has committed a theoretical error, and spends her time both trying to discover that error and challenging others to do the same. As soon as you assert a dogmatic presumption that your theory is infallible, you cease the rational debate and begin a religious one that starts with a “leap of faith” in the intellectual omnipotence of your own opinion – an emotivist tautology of self proclamation which is not scientific, but erroneous religion instead.

      Do you have any sentience of where you may commit errors and if so where? Do you even recognize the fact that “to ere is human” is perhaps the first premise that scientific epistemology builds its truth finding function upon?

      At least when the theist commits errors, it is an erroneous understanding of something that is incomprehensibly, even infinitely beyond complete fathoming. Like the scientist, the truth finding mission of theology should begin with awe and wonder, as well as amazement that we have gotten anything right or that we have discovered even the smallest fraction of knowledge of ourselves and a universe that is vastly beyond the limits of human understanding. The theist discovers what she needs through faith and grace. The rationalist discovers through trial and error. Both epistemologies begin with humility about what we know and can know.

      A snooty I’ve “figured it out and you’re all wrong”, I don’t believe, is a proper religious attitude, but I know that it is ablolutely not rational or scientific one. You simply can’t know what you can’t know and you’ve lost the rational argument the moment you assert that you know for a dogmatic fact that the unknowable that we, lacking the ability to even name without error and so call God, does not exist.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Tsalmon,

        It’s always great to see a Christian try to tell me what a “true” rationalist is. It is, of course, not what you have invented. There is no reason to assume that I’ve made a theoretical error of any kind, and it is quite noticeable that you can’t show I have either. Lots of big words and not one rebuttal.

        Unsurprisingly, you show no “leap of faith” I’ve made, so again no reason to assume you have anything to support your accusations.

        I am entertained that you seem to think its just so awful that you accuse me of being “religious” when you again have no evidence of this.

        Humans can err, but not always and of course, you can’t show where I have. My goodness, you must have worn out your thesaurus in writing this. Sentience? Really? ROFL This is what sentience means “feeling or sensation as distinguished from perception and thought” and in your sentence it makes no sense: “Do you have any sentience of where you may commit errors and if so where?” What a silly thing you’ve tried and failed at.

        When a theist commits errors, like trying to claim that their version is the one true one and everyone else is wrong, they are just making things up. They offer the excuse you do, that this god is “incomprehensible”, but funny how theists have no problem in claiming that they understand their god in many things, from morality, to intent. It is only when you want an excuse that this god suddenly becomes “incomprehensible”.

        You’ve not gotten anything right at all since none of you can show that any of your claims are true and that other theists’ are false. You all use the same nonsense in your desperate need to show your god exists. Scientists have questions, theist falsely claim that they and only they have the answers.

        The scientist discovers reality slowly but surely building on knowledge and evidence, following where it leads and occasionally making mistakes. The theist makes up their god and their religion in their own image and insists that it is the “truth”. And a generation later, new theists make up a new religion and new interpretations and claim them to be the “truth”, ignoring the “truth” that came before.

        Each theist claims “faith and grace” and funny how these things give you guys all sorts of contradictory answers. Then you are left insisting that those “other” Christians aren’t Christians at all since your “faith and grace” disagrees with their “faith and grace”, no humility at all.

        Yep, claiming “I’ve figured it out and you are all wrong” is indeed a theist, and Christian sentiment. Religion depends on believing you know such things. You claim you’ve figured a god out, and you insist that you know what morals it wants and what it means when it supposedly said “x” in the bible. Then a generation later you change your minds.

        I haven’t said I’ve figured it all out nor that you are wrong about everything, but I certainly can show that you are wrong about all things and that I’ve figured a lot out. So your strawman fails.

        You want your god to be mysterious, but the bible gives more than enough supposed facts about this god to disprove or prove. And unsurprisingly, there is no evidence for the god in the bible nor the essential events in the bible; just like for every other religion.

        You want to ignore other religions, but Tsalmon, how can you know what you don’t know? You’ve lost every argument that your religion is true. Your god isn’t some vague thing that has no attributes, but you need to try to pretend that your god is exactly that so you can pretend no one can show it doesn’t exist. You don’t believe in other religions’ gods for the same reason I don’t believe in yours: no evidence.

        Your god isn’t some worm on Ceti Alpha V, your god isn’t some energy cloud on some alien planet. Your god is what the bible says, and that god is no more real than Ares, Odin, Amun-Re or Tezcatlipoca.

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        1. CS

          I just read this. How amusing! God love you CS, you seem to be having quite a snit here with all the sassy insults and name calling.

          How old are you anyway? You argue like a child who kept up a miff on finding out that her parents lied to her about the Santa Claus. At some point you really do need to forgive them for trying to teach you mystery and beauty the only way that such things can be learned.

          After you have forgiven them for not being perfect in your eyes, you should also figure out a way to forgive yourself. God loves you. God want you to love as God loves, but first you have to learn to love yourself. It’s the truth, perhaps the only truth upon which all other truth derived. But it can only be heard with an open heart.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. @tsalmon

            Child? Just childish.

            I think Club is a militant Atheist who revels in the task of shaming theists for believing in God. Supposedly, we are weak because we need to believe in God.

            What many Atheists don’t want admit is how much God frightens them. Yet their anger and rage speaks volumes. What we fear we hate, and militant Atheists fear and hate God.

            This hatred explains why Atheists condemn the free exercise of religious belief. This hatred explains why Atheists insist upon restraining freedom of religion to freedom of worship. Once we leave our churches Atheists want Theists to bend their knee to Caesar. Atheists want Theists to leave God in their churches. Atheists do not want Theists reminding them of Him.

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          2. I was raised by atheists (I think Insanitybytes was also).
            As a result, I have a low level of tolerance for their shenanigans, which I’m well familiar. The pattern recognition runs deep….and I tried. I really did.
            That was a very considered and thoughtful response, TSalmon.

            Liked by 1 person

          3. Nice false assumptions, TS. I guess that strawmen are all you have to attack since you assiduously avoid actually addressing my points. I do have to thank you for showing that belief in Santa Claus is so similar to your belief in your version of your god.

            As for your version of your god “loving” me, no evidence of this god at all and the bible is a great treatise on how love isn’t what this god shows. Per your silly bible, this god intentionally damns people to eternal torture people for no fault of their own. Why would I want to be so pathetic to do that? Your god can’t even come up to the definition of love in the bible.

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      1. hmmm, santa is a socialist since he gives without requiring anything. Heck, one could call him a communist.

        Scott Walker, a failed conservative, and yet one more conservative who has no idea what socialism is, and who ignores all of the socialism he benefits from: social security, highways, power infrastructure, medical research supported by the government, etc. Poor lil fellows, you and him, be sure not to ever use those things since such fine, upstanding men as you wouldn’t want to be hypocrites, would you? Tsk.

        And, ah, the Washington Times, owned by Moonies, and lying for conservatives who will prostitute themselves for anyone as long as they might get a sniff of power.

        So Tom, how is it going with the evidence that Trump promised he had that Obama wasn’t an American citizen, a lie that the Times supported? It’s also always good to see the Times supporting losers who worship losers, like the Confederacy and the Nazi regime.

        Now, who in the US population says things like this ““At this festive season of the year, Mr. Scrooge,” said the gentleman, taking up a pen, “it is more than usually desirable that we should make some slight provision for the Poor and destitute, who suffer greatly at the present time. Many thousands are in want of common necessaries; hundreds of thousands are in want of common comforts, sir.”
        “Are there no prisons?” asked Scrooge.
        “Plenty of prisons,” said the gentleman, laying down the pen again.
        “And the Union workhouses?” demanded Scrooge. “Are they still in operation?”
        “They are. Still,” returned the gentleman, “I wish I could say they were not.”
        “The Treadmill and the Poor Law are in full vigour, then?” said Scrooge.
        “Both very busy, sir.”
        “Oh! I was afraid, from what you said at first, that something had occurred to stop them in their useful course,” said Scrooge. “I’m very glad to hear it.”
        “Under the impression that they scarcely furnish Christian cheer of mind or body to the multitude,” returned the gentleman, “a few of us are endeavouring to raise a fund to buy the Poor some meat and drink, and means of warmth. We choose this time, because it is a time, of all others, when Want is keenly felt, and Abundance rejoices. What shall I put you down for?”
        “Nothing!” Scrooge replied.
        “You wish to be anonymous?”
        “I wish to be left alone,” said Scrooge. “Since you ask me what I wish, gentlemen, that is my answer. I don’t make merry myself at Christmas and I can’t afford to make idle people merry. I help to support the establishments I have mentioned—they cost enough; and those who are badly off must go there.”
        “Many can’t go there; and many would rather die.”
        “If they would rather die,” said Scrooge, “they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population. Besides—excuse me—I don’t know that.”
        “But you might know it,” observed the gentleman.
        “It’s not my business,” Scrooge returned. “It’s enough for a man to understand his own business, and not to interfere with other people’s. Mine occupies me constantly. Good afternoon, gentlemen!”
        Seeing clearly that it would be useless to pursue their point, the gentlemen withdrew. Scrooge resumed his labours with an improved opinion of himself, and in a more facetious temper than was usual with him.”

        Oh yes, conservative Christians who worship Trump say such things, usually at the same time bleating how important veterans and the homeless are, but never having cared about those people before. They only took up that cry to try to hide their bigotry.

        Poor conservative Christians, so desperate to lie about things so they can try to claim how much they are martyrs.

        Merry Christmas, Tom. Thanks for showing just how conservative Christians make up their religion in their own image and ignore the few benevolent things in the bible out of their fear and hate of anything different than them.

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        1. @Club

          Santa is a Socialist? A Communist? Just because he is generous? That’s absurd as your attacks on Scott Walker, “The Washington Times”, and Christians. You are not make reasoned arguments. You are just spewing poison with a firehose. The irony is that you think that makes you superior. When you have not proven anything, just outline list of mostly fraudulent charges, why should I respond?

          Think about what you said about Trump. So what? Odds are he is going to win the next election. All you are doing is digging up dirt people have already seen, and nobody cares. We have to vote for human beings. Even if some of the charges are actually true, what we know about Trump’s opponents makes Trump a preferable choice.

          The attack with A Christmas Carol is just laughable. Here is an article on A Christmas Carol.
          https://www.forbes.com/sites/jerrybowyer/2012/12/24/malthus-and-scrooge-how-charles-dickens-put-holly-branch-through-the-heart-of-the-worst-economics-ever/#7a7fa014672d

          To be honest, I have never read A Christmas Carol. I have seen so many plays and movies…..

          I have read one of Dickens other books, but not that one. So I don’t seen much point in debating it. Except to say I have good reason doubt you know you are talking about, what would be the point?

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          1. Tom fails again. Giving without expecting payment isn’t the capitalism that Tom loves. AGain, still no rebuttal to my points, just more false claims.

            There is no evidence Trump will win the next election. People do care about Trump’s lies, his cheating, his failures. You don’t but sycophants don’t usually care, do they? You create apologetics for a Christian supporting a liar, an adulterer, a man who supports dictators who kill Christians, etc. You choose Trump because he reflect you.

            Always good to know that you haven’t read “A Christmas Carol”. And even more grand to see you refer to a capitalist apologist who tries to pretend that Scrooge wasn’t a capitalist and ignoring the story.

            And good to know that only ignorance informs your lies. You’re such a great conservative Christian, Tom. Depending on ignoring your bible and supporting a man who says he doesn’t need forgiveness from your god. Way to go!

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          2. @Club

            🙄Giving without expecting payment is charity. Socialism does not involve voluntary giving. We don’t pay taxes voluntarily. This is not complicated, but I cannot make you believe it. Even if you do believe it, I cannot make you say you do. Fortunately, you are not my problem. I have no idea what to do with you.😁🤗

            Life is good! God does the impossible, not me.

            No evidence Trump will win the next election? I am a sycophant? I don’t think you know what that word means. 🤣

            There is no guarantee Trump will win, and it isn’t worth arguing about. I don’t care what you think about Trump, or for that matter, me. Anyway, if we are both still alive, we will know soon enough.

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          3. Again, Tom lies in saying that socialism does not involve voluntary giving, showing that he has no idea what socialism is.

            God does nothing, and neither do you,Tom. A man who claims he is a Christian but cannot do what a Christian is supposed to be able to do is just a poseur.

            Yep, you are a sycophant: Let’s see what it means: a servile self-seeking flatterer Yep, a “Christian” who has no problem with flattering an adulterer, a liar, a cheat, a self-proclaimed sexual abuser, a supporter of dictators who kill their own people, etc. And surprise, Tom has no evidence of his claim that Trump will be re-elected and now walks back his claim. How expected.

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          4. Giving without expecting payment isn’t the capitalism that Tom loves.

            That’s true. Giving without expecting payment isn’t capitalism, it is charity (as Tom mentioned).
            Giving without expecting payment isn’t communism either.
            Definition of giving: to present voluntarily and without expecting compensation
            You have a portion of it right, as compensation cannot be expect.
            But the process isn’t voluntary.
            So sure, Santa is a bit like Kim Jong Un. Not in the giving sense, but…
            he’s fat, and surrounded by little growth stunted people.
            Up is kind of like down too as both are directions.

            Liked by 1 person

  2. JZ Asked the question on my blog piece yesterday that outside of the devil am I implying that evil wouldn’t exist?

    Of course, if we’re simply matter and space dust bumping into each then morality et al would then be made up. People do not normally get mad at rocks touching each other. What I’ve encountered is the development of trying to argue that morality is biological; however, I find the answer lacking with self aware creatures because once one reasons that morality is a natural occurrence and then can act against it seems to counter the notion that it could intrinsically natural.

    I was working most of the day and since I thought since my answer more or less self explanatory—I didn’t reply as it would have ended up a chain of 20 or more comments.

    If we’re to consider the Christian worldview: All things are created through the goodness of God. Evil is the deprivation of that good. So, in some sense, because evil has no substance it doesn’t exist in the manner of form but rather like that of missing piece of a pie. The idea originates from Augustinian thought and I think most Christians do not understand the idea and would benefit from reading Chapters 7 through 9 of Augustine’s Confessions or just all of it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. @Phillip

      For my readers, here is the post that Phillip is talking about. => https://jessicahof.blog/2019/12/18/farewell-to-the-devil/. JZ is short for John Zande, a militant Atheist.

      Well, Satan sinned. So, evil must exist apart from him. But what is evil? What is good? I wrote a post some time back that dealt with the subject in a way similar to what you propose => https://citizentom.com/2009/01/23/god-versus-science/.

      Is good a quantity of something? Does good have “substance”? Well, I think being good is obeying the Will of God. Satan sinned because he sought to be God. When we sin, we disobey God and put something else, ultimately our self, in His place. That is, we don’t love God and obey His command to love each other. Instead, we hate. Oops! How do we define love and hate? As things that have existence?

      We create words to define concepts. Concepts are not physical things. They are “things” that only have existence — meaning — in our thoughts. God is good because He defines good. Satan is only the personification of evil. His remains the most hideous example of disobedience to our Creator, and Satan tempts us to disobey our Creator.

      When does the Bible start using the word “good”? During creation. When Creation was as He intended it to be, Creation was good. When man disobeyed, that was not good. Then for our sake, God booted Adam and Eve from the Garden. For our sake — for a greater good — our Lord cursed His own Creation.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. In classical philosophy: Existence and Nature are separated. For example, treeness–what is a tree. You can picture the tree in your front yard and yet in your mind it is not the same tree like the one in your yard. And yet because it is not the same tree, this new tree does exist in your mind. It is the form of the tree.

        “Satan is only the personification of evil.”

        I don’t quite know what to make of this statement. Many Christian denominations would attest to the existence of being. So, perhaps, you’ve qualified the statement by saying he tempts us. One of the most puzzling episodes in the Gospels–if the demonic is only supposed to be a concept for evil– is Christ casting the demons into the swine who run off the cliff. In the narrative, it’s not a literary description of evil but rather an account of an event.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. @Phillip

          I don’t quite know what to make of this statement.

          I did not anticipate that reaction, but I suppose I should have done so.

          Some would say either Hitler or Stalin is the human personification of evil. Does not mean they did not exist.

          Liked by 1 person

  3. Tom,

    On the question if atheism is a religion, a recent Canadian Court decision has ruled against the Church of Atheism as being qualified for religious tax deductions.

    https://nationalpost.com/opinion/colby-cosh-the-church-of-atheism-loses-its-battle-but-the-war-may-not-be-over

    I am still hoping the USA Supreme Court will someday provide a legal definition of what is a religion or a political entity.

    As for whether atheist are weak or strong non-believers in a deity, frankly it is too steep for my simple mind to either care or be concerned about what they choose to believe or not.

    Just wish they would share my non-concerns about religious believers in return.

    Regards and good will blogging.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. @scatterwisdom

      Well, there are a couple of practical reasons to understand what Atheists believe and why.
      1. If we want judges to define Secular Humanism, for example, as a religious belief, then we have to know enough about Atheism to make the case.
      2. If we want Atheists to convert to Christianity, we must know enough about Atheism to explain why Christianity is better.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Noble reasons, but I really wonder about the actual success rate to convince
        .
        Which type was a greater challenge for Jesus to convince to change?

        For example, “it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God”.

        Do you see a man wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him. (proverb 26:12)

        Regards and goodwill blogging.

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        1. The more experience that I get–or older I should say–I’m coming to understand that when discussing such matters it really comes down to humility.

          On Dec. 21st Fulton Sheen was going to be beatified by the Catholic Church. However, unexpectedly, it was put postponed. Catholic mainstream media initially reported that it was due to examining documents of mismanaged assignments in the Rochester diocese where Sheen was Bishop for only 3 years. All of those documents and years have been examined–so much so that a lawyer who drummed a false accusation against Sheen was disciplined by the courts. Less than 36 hours later, it’s been understood that Sheen’s cause for Canonization has not been postponed but it has been terminated. How do we know this? Investigative reporters are getting no comments from Peoria Diocese and the Fulton Sheen Foundation which has been the center of the case for the cause of his Canonization has been more or less shut down–unknown at this time whether it will be revived. After more digging, it appears that the Bishop of Rochester was the frontman to take the blame for Cardinal Cupich and Cardinal Dolan: American Bishops that are in Pope Francis circle of trust.

          So, what can we learn from this and what does it have to do with your comment?

          1. Fulton Sheen was very anti-communist, anti-statist, and anti-one world government. In fact, if you read his autobiography, the FBI used Sheen as an informant against Communist that infiltrated the Catholic Church. Some will try to say this is conspiracy theory but it’s right there in Sheen’s autobiography under the chapter of Communism.

          2. Sheen preached the Gospel of Grace not a Gospel of Social Justice and Psychology which is very critical of in his autobiography. He writes in his work the “Life of Christ” ‘ God chooses the foolish things of the world to confound the self-wise and proud…Wordly wisdom comes from where we expect it, in the best-sellers, the ‘ standard brans’ and the universities. Divine Wisdom comes from the unsuspected quarters, which the world holds in derision.” (Life of Christ, Image, 45.)

          “Head knowledge is worthless unless accompanied by submission of the will and submission of the will and right action.

          Totalitarians are fond of saying that Christianity is the enemy of the State–a euphemistic way of saying an enemy of themselves. Herod was the first totalitarian…It must surely have been because those who possess the spirit of the world conceal an instinctive hatred and jealousy of God Who reigns over human hearts.” (Ibid, 40-41)

          So, in lieu of this blog piece and comments, we should ask with the current message coming out of the Vatican under this pontificate is this the Saint they would want to canonize? I’m a Catholic born in the conciliar church and not one time have I heard such direct talk from any cleric. And of course, this isn’t just in the Catholic Church, Terry Mattingly of “Get Religion” has reported that studies show that in 10 years the mainstream protestants in the United STates will be 4% of the population. The faith in those communities is all but gone. And those communities have long given way to the Gospel of Social Justice, the Gospel of Ecology, and the Gospel of World Peace.

          I think what we can see is the way–not– to convince. However, the body of Christ seems to have forgotten the true Gospel way to evangelize on all fronts.

          Liked by 2 people

          1. Phillip

            Thank you for your thoughtful comment.

            While I am not familiar with all of what you mentioned about Cardinal Sheen, I can readily agree with your comment.

            “Divine Wisdom comes from the unsuspected quarters, which the world holds in derision.” (Life of Christ, Image, 45.)”

            I remember in my youth listening to him in his TV sermons in my youth.

            I used one of his proverbial interpretations in my novel. He used proverbs often during his presentations.

            “Good friends having to part is like one heart being torn in two when two good friends have to part.”.

            Whether or not he ever becomes a saint will in the end be a decision only God will judge in finality in my opinion.

            Regards and goodwill blogging.

            Liked by 2 people

        2. @scatterwisdom

          Read that verse about the camel going through the eye of a needle in context. All things are possible with God. We don’t have the power to give an unbeliever rebirth in the Holy Spirit. God saves fallen souls.

          When the apostles began their mission to spread the Gospel in the 1st Century, they preached to a bunch of Pagans. There is not much difference between Pagans and Atheists.

          Who is most difficult to save? It doesn’t seem to be an Atheist; it is the indifferent. Read Revelation 3:14-22. I think you will agree.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Tom,

            I did not disagree with your noble endeavors.

            Frankly, I admire anyone who tries to spread the word of Jesus Christ’s love or the wisdom of King Solomon in our fast and furious path of folly taking place in our nation and world.

            My comment was to describe what you are up against when trying to reason with either an atheist or a fool, in my opinion.
            ..
            Regards and goodwill blogging.

            Liked by 1 person

  4. I should add that this is just an agreement with, not an argument against, your thoughtful and well sourced post Tom. It’s my small attempt to get at what I think may be the most basic flaw in the atheistic religion – that is as you say, by making it into a religion in the first place.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. ”Looking for links, I just came across a lovely example of this in the endnotes to the Selfish Gene, where lawyers are dismissed as ‘solving man-made problems that should never have existed in the first place’.”

    Ha,ha,ha,ha. I love this.

    Seriously though, the atheistic statements that preceded this suffer from the same deterministic fallacy that some forms of fundamentalist theism do, that is that there can only be one right answer to every fundamental question, and that following the links in the chain of right answers (supposedly given to us by either science or God) progressively, even inexorably, leads to a perfect destination. In this deterministic thinking, bad outcomes derive from flawed logic for the fundamentalist atheist and from flawed religious doctrine for the fundamentalist theist. It’s all formulaic and the formula for the sorcerer’s stone of ultimate knowledge is inerrant and decipherable through the epistemological alchemy of science for the fundamentalist atheist and from the rational magic of inerrancy of scriptural divination for the fundamentalist theist. These are both forms of cognitive distortion, not science or religion.

    The problem for the atheist is that scientific theory is inherently skeptical. It depends upon its theories surviving falsification by inapposite empirical evidence, by disproving experimentation or by discrediting mathematical modeling. As a scientific theory survives such falsification over time its credibility increases toward fact, but it never quite gets there because a presumption that it can never be falsified by scientific means denies the scientific method upon which it’s factual truth is founded. It is simply not scientific to presume that scientific epistemology is an end rather than a means to knowledge, or to take “a leap of faith” that there cannot be a realm of causality where the scientific epistemology may have no purchase – it’s like trying to hear light with one’s nose – it’s the wrong tool for the wrong job.

    Unfortunately, this Enlightenment rationalism also inspired types of religious fundamentalism as well, both in theism’s need of and in its retaliation to a rationalism that was trending toward replacing God with science. But that is another discussion.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. @tsalmon

      Look up the definition of determinism.
      https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/determinism

      The problem with making deterministic judgments arises when we think we know or want to believe we know more than we actually do know.

      Does the term fundamentalism equate to determinism? Depends upon what we mean by it. The religionist fundamentalist operates from a basic set of fundamental principles. Fundamental principles can be applied deterministically, but fundamental principles by definition only apply to fundamental situations.

      Christian Fundamentalism in the USA arose in response to Christian Liberalism. If you do a little research, the original people who called themselves Christian Fundamentalists were smart, well educated people who were trying to defend the fundamental principles that arose out of the Protestant Revolution. Unfortunately, the Liberals succeeded in characterizing them as a bunch of country hicks. Not an honest way to debate.

      I suppose I will have to illustrate the point by doing a post on Biblical inerrancy. I doubt it means you think it means.

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    2. Just as a matter of clarification, by “determinism” I am referring to philosophical determinism, otherwise called “casual determinism”. It is the kind of determinism that the philosopher, Karl Popper, argued against when he criticized Marxist Communism and Fascism. It is the fallacy of historicist determinism that believes that the chain of historical events are, as Marx believed, not only rationally predictable, but inevitable. As you say, this would apply to Christians, only in so far as they dogmatically interpret scripture to mean that “free will” does not exist, and it is similar to atheistic fundamentalism in that regard. Another similarity between religious and atheistic fundamentalisms is in their materialist literalism – scientific materialism is the only reality on the one hand and a literal interpretation of scriptural metaphor that dogmatically asserts that every event “materially” happened exactly as portrayed in scripture on the other.

      I’ll look forward to your post on scriptural inerrancy. I’m not sure what you mean by “Christian liberalism” though. Are you referring to the Enlightenment engendered Deist Christianity of many of the Founders, a Deism that denied the incarnation and the Resurrection but rationalized Christian ethics? Who were the Christian liberals who opposed these “country hicks”? Were they at the Scopes Monkey Trial? Wasn’t Clarence Darrow an atheist?

      The Catholic Church (hardly a “liberal” denomination) and most of the mainline Protestant organizations adapted their theologies to scientific theory soon thereafter, perhaps as a result of the rationally untenable positions of scriptural literalism that modern day fundamentalists practice. In her book, “Apostles of Reason” Molly Worthen charts the rise of Evangelical Academia as an effort to maintain a doctrine of scriptural inerrancy. They have tried to reconcile fundamentalist literalism with modern rationalist epistemologies. That effort appears to be ongoing, but it also seems to only be an issue still with so-called Evangelicals. As I said, Catholics and mainline Protestant denominations don’t seem to find an interpretive scriptural conflict between rationalism and their Christian faith anymore. They even accept possibility of the Big Bang, seeing it as just one layer of the multilayered profound truths of Genesis in which perfect literal historic truth is the least important part of the inerrancy of Biblical truths presented there.

      The thing that always bothers me when I’ve read books by atheists like Dawkins and Hitchens is that they always seem to make spurious arguments aimed at literalist fundamentalists rather than at Christian apologists that actually represent mainstream Christian thought. Mainstream modern Christian apologists actually see the supposed conflict between rational epistemologies like scientific theory and theologies like those of Thomist metaphysics as two separate Venn diagrams of knowledge whose realms of truth may overlap but they never actually conflict with one another – truth is truth.

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      1. @tsalmon

        The thing that always bothers me when I’ve read books by atheists like Dawkins and Hitchens is that they always seem to make spurious arguments aimed at literalist fundamentalists rather than at Christian apologists that actually represent mainstream Christian thought.

        Not exactly sure what mainstream Christian thought might be. When people gained the right to read the Bible for themselves, they immediately started making different interpretations.

        Atheists like Dawkins and Hitchens write books for people who don’t know much about Christianity. So when they create strawman arguments, they don’t get punished. In fact, most of the news media is right there with them. Hence, for many people (even people who think of themselves as Christians) the news media caricature of the fundamentalist Jesus freak is what it means to be a Conservative Christian.

        There are a couple expressions worth thinking about: (1) the visible church and (2) invisible church. The visible church is what we perceive. The invisible church are the people Jesus counts as part of the body of Christ. The saved are in the invisible church.

        Since you asked.
        https://www.catholic.com/tract/fundamentalism

        https://christianhistoryinstitute.org/magazine/article/who-were-the-fundamentalists

        Think about what you said about science.

        The problem for the atheist is that scientific theory is inherently skeptical. It depends upon its theories surviving falsification by inapposite empirical evidence, by disproving experimentation or by discrediting mathematical modeling.

        The Bible only tells us what we need to know, not what we want to know. Science only provides explanations when we have the capacity to conduct appropriate experiments. Much of what passes for science in the classroom has never been subjected to experimental testing BECAUSE WE DON’T HAVE THE CAPACITY TO CONDUCT THE EXPERIMENTS.

        So, what do we do when what the Bible says seems to be in conflict with sophisticated scientific speculation? If we have more faith in the Bible, we believe the Bible. If we have more faith in science, we believe the scientific speculators. If we don’t think the Bible provides a clear explanation, and we don’t think the scientists can prove their hypotheses, we say we don’t know the answer.

        Fundamentalism is not about determinism. It is about who and what we believe.

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      2. “The Catholic Church (hardly a “liberal” denomination) and most of the mainline Protestant organizations adapted their theologies to scientific theory soon thereafter, perhaps as a result of the rationally untenable positions of scriptural literalism that modern-day fundamentalists practice.”

        Tsalmon this statement isn’t necessarily true and needs some clarification.

        St. Augustine’s writings in the 4th century A.D. held that creation narrative was not a literal reading of the creation of the world. In fact, he has a very large treatise called On Genesis. The idea that the Catholic Church during or after Vatican II changed its teaching that the creation of the world due to evolution isn’t true. In fact, the Church has never made an official pronouncement on evolution. In the new youth Cat (2013) that I use for Catechism classes, it says that a Catholic can hold to the belief of creationism or evolution and not contradict the faith.

        Furthermore, one of the last clear pronouncements on the matter is Pope Pius XII’s encyclical Humana Generis (1950) which was written to counter modernism in the Church, he writes that the first 11 chapter of Genesis is history although has to be understood it was written in the proper sense of historicism of the time.

        “This letter, in fact, clearly points out that the first eleven chapters of Genesis, although properly speaking not conforming to the historical method used by the best Greek and Latin writers or by competent authors of our time, do nevertheless pertain to history in a true sense, which however must be further studied and determined by exegetes; the same chapters, (the Letter points out), in simple and metaphorical language adapted to the mentality of a people but little cultured, both state the principal truths which are fundamental for our salvation, and also give a popular description of the origin of the human race and the chosen people. If, however, the ancient sacred writers have taken anything from popular narrations (and this may be conceded), it must never be forgotten that they did so with the help of divine inspiration, through which they were rendered immune from any error in selecting and evaluating those documents.” (Humana Generis, 38.)

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Phillip,

          Thanks for the clarification. Because of my readings, I’m generally familiar with these issues, but the depth of your knowledge, particularly when it comes to our shared Catholic denomination, is amazing.

          You put this in much more detailed terms, but my point was that Christianity had to deal with the revolution of rationalism that rose out of the Enlightenment. Many fundamentalists decided to become literalist counterrevolutionaries against this rationalism while most of Christianity, including the Catholic Church, figured out ways to reconcile certain basic truths derived from science with the more profound truths of scripture. I did not mean to imply that the Church whole heartedly accepted every scientific theory that conflicted with scriptural literalism. Doing so would neither be in keeping with the “theoretical” methodology that makes something “scientific” nor would it conform to the faith and grace based spiritual and mystical methodology upon which we see perfect literalism as less important than the more profound spiritual truths that proceed from the metaphor.

          You would know better than I, but I also think that there is still room within Catholicism for a good deal of debate and compromise, especially since Vatican II. As profound as Saint Augustine is, everything he wrote is not considered perfectly infallible even by Catholics.

          Liked by 2 people

          1. I never claimed that Augustine is infalliable; however, he is the most quoted theologian in the current Catechism of the Catholic Church and by St. Thomas Aquinas, so what he says carries great authority within the Catholic Church. Furthermore, since Augustine is the bridge of separation with Protestantism via Lutheranism and Calvinism, I find it easier to dialogue with his writings on any particular topic.

            In regards, to Augustine, what I did show is that the idea that Genesis creation narrative is analogy is not a modern development. It’s an old one. However, as both you and Tom have discussed fundamentalism and strict creationism is a more modern trend ala 18th and 19th century.

            Personally, I’m an agnostic on the topic. The Science looks to be correct. Should it be taught in schools? Yes. etc. Could new evidence change the current trend? Sure.

            However, again, returning to Augustine in his work On Catechesis, when it comes to convey the faith, the narrative needs to be told in its narrative form. It does seem though you understand all of the above. However, I think it’s lost on many others.

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      3. I found this interesting from your first reference on fundamentalism:

        “As Warfield put it, “The supreme proof to every Christian of the deity of his Lord is in his own inner experience of the transforming power of his Lord upon the heart and life.” One consequence of this has become painfully clear to many Fundamentalists: When one falls into sin, when the ardor that was present at conversion fades, the transforming power of Christ seems to go, and so can one’s faith in his divinity. This accounts for many defections from Fundamentalism to agnosticism and secularism; the tenuous basis for the Fundamentalist’s beliefs does not provide for the dark night of the soul. When that darkness comes, the Fundamentalist has no reasonable basis for hope or faith.“

        What you said about believing the Bible over science is true. I also think that epistemological conflicts between the truth that comes from reading scripture and the truth that comes from scientific theory are often manufactured by radical adherents on both sides.

        However, because truth is truth, and all truth comes from God, whether scriptural or scientific, no conflict can actually exist, can it? Differences, as you allude, must derive therefore not from errors in the epistemological system, whether scriptural interpretation or scientific practice, but from those humans practicing the epistemology.

        This only became a real problem after the Enlightenment when a materialist Biblical literalist interpretation seemed to collide with the expanding truth of scientific discovery, and where adherents at the extremes on both sides lacked any humility as to the logical limits of their rationalist epistemologies on the one side and the erroneous nature of a too literalist scriptural limiting of an infinitely mysterious God on the other side. As one who recently made my living daily and existentially putting my faith in the science of airplanes, but who also has an abiding faith in a God that scripture even warns me is beyond the definition of even naming inerrantly, I have no problem recognizing that my ignorance in both areas of knowledge reaches, to quote the paradox of a cartoon character, “to infinity and beyond”.

        Let’s face it. Atheists railing against fundamentalists for the obvious rational errors of overmuch literalism and fundamentalists who rail back by wasting time and money building supposed “natural history museums” where Adam and dinosaurs coexisted in Eden are both way too full of themselves rather than the humble awe and wonder with which they both should proceed. We can fully believe through faith in the profound truth of the Incarnation and Resurrection on many levels of God given grace, including the spiritual and the literal, without the prideful presumption that we rationally and fully grasp these awesome mysteries.

        In so many words, I think that you are saying the same thing here. It’s an interesting discussion though. I hope that I have added some sober sense to it that this is an issue that should neither inflame the ever humble Christian nor the ever curious scientist. Both endeavors require humility and awe. Prideful dogmatism on either side is counterintuitive to their tasks at hand.

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        1. @tsalmon

          Be kind of silly to expect a Catholic to laud Protestants without some qualification. 6

          This only became a real problem after the Enlightenment when a materialist Biblical literalist interpretation seemed to collide with the expanding truth of scientific discovery, and where adherents at the extremes on both sides lacked any humility as to the logical limits of their rationalist epistemologies on the one side and the erroneous nature of a too literalist scriptural limiting of an infinitely mysterious God on the other side.

          1. What kind of humility is required to protest a lack of humility in others?
          2. Was the issue humility or what people believed and their willingness to defend their beliefs? Sometimes we are just wrong even if we are doing our best to be humble.
          3. History is recorded by people with biases. Galileo was a great scientist, but he was not good at politics. His theories were a bit off too. =>https://citizentom.com/2015/01/27/killing-metaphysics/

          Have you ever considered the fact that scientific “truths” have changed much more than the truths we find in the Bible? Trying blame the Bible for that is silly.

          What we forget is that the Bible was written FOR us, but it was written TO people now long dead. That means the Bible had to be written so that people who lived thousands of years ago could understand it. So, it does not make sense to expect the Bible to read like a scientific textbook. Since scientific truth changes, it also be a moving target. What scientific “truths” from which era should contain?

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          1. “1. What kind of humility is required to protest a lack of humility in others?”

            Can one make a plea for humility (even a self critical one) while still being humble? It’s an good criticism that every Christian, even yourself and Paul, is subject to, don’t you think, but I will try to take it humbly to heart. 🙂

            “2. Was the issue humility or what people believed and their willingness to defend their beliefs? Sometimes we are just wrong even if we are doing our best to be humble.”

            Good point.

            “3. History is recorded by people with biases. Galileo was a great scientist, but he was not good at politics. His theories were a bit off too. =>https://citizentom.com/2015/01/27/killing-metaphysics/
            Have you ever considered the fact that scientific ‘truths’ have changed much more than the truths we find in the Bible?”

            Yes. In fact, I think that I have made that same point a few times here. I think you are being a little too defensive with someone who basically agrees with you on this, Tom.

            “Trying blame the Bible for that is silly.”

            “Blame the Bible”? I think you misunderstood me or are mistaking me for someone else. Like you, I think that we should recognize that, whereas the Bible may be, in every sense that substantially matters to our Christian faith and redemption in Christ, perfect, we and our ability to interpret it are not.

            “What we forget is that the Bible was written FOR us, but it was written TO people now long dead. That means the Bible had to be written so that people who lived thousands of years ago could understand it. So, it does not make sense to expect the Bible to read like a scientific textbook. Since scientific truth changes, it also be a moving target.”

            So true.

            “ What scientific ‘truths’ from which era should contain?”

            Not sure I get the premise of the question. Like I said earlier, science, as an epistemology, has limits which theists and atheists are having trouble fully recognizing, and thus, finding contradiction between science and theism where it can’t actually exist – truth is truth and all truth comes from God. In contrast, unlike the practical and rational limitations on science, the truth of scripture is only limited by God’s grace and the capacity of the human soul. However, all things are possible without limit with God, don’t you think?

            Liked by 1 person

          2. @tsalmon

            I suppose we are largely in agreement.

            I think the primary limitation on the Bible resides in us.

            When we try to understand the Bible, many forget we are trying to understand a document written thousands of years ago. We have to deal with the problems of understanding the Bible the same way we would with any such ancient book. In addition, we must pray.

            Scientific knowledge should complement what the Bible teaches us, not be in competition. Science is a tool for studying God’s Creation, not God.

            Philosophy provides some tools for examining the idea of God, mainly whether He exists and what we can know about Him. Science, a subset of Philosophy, was never intended to study God. At best, we can only use science to speculate whether Creation came into existence by accident or design.

            What about when we perceive what seems to be an error in the Bible? That suggests we have to reconsider our interpretation. If we don’t believe the Bible is the Word of God, which the Bible claims to be, then the Book has to be a great lie that has deceived millions for millennia. There are such books, but I don’t believe the Bible is one of them.

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          3. “Scientific knowledge should complement what the Bible teaches us, not be in competition. Science is a tool for studying God’s Creation, not God.”

            Nicely put!

            Liked by 1 person

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