The Raving Theist

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God Squad Review CXXVII (Atheist Persecution of Christians)

May 12, 2005 | 71 Comments

Another poor, persecuted Christian seeks solace from the Squad:

I’m a faithful Christian but I also understand that mine is not the only faith in the world. I don’t try to force my beliefs on others. I believe in the triumvirate of inappropriate topics for social discussion (politics, religion and gossip). I have several dear friends who are atheist and/or agnostic and frequently criticize my faith through jabs and sarcasm. I’m a teacher with a master’s degree. I’m getting more uncomfortable turning the other cheek. What is the appropriate response? And why are my friends criticizing something that’s very dear to me?

It’s terrible when your dear friends criticize your imaginary ones, isn’t it? After all, those invisible beings are also “dear” to you, and they’re entitled the utmost respect no matter what quasi-cannibalistic, self-sacrificial activities they may promote. I’m sure that if your atheist friends regaled with you of their adventures skipping down the Yellow Brick Road in the Land of Oz with Santa Claus, you wouldn’t think them the least bit cuckoo-in-the-head. You might suspect they were being sarcastic, of course (because of course bricks are red, not yellow), but to express even that degree of skepticism would be disrespectful.

Because, as you say, you never force your beliefs on others. Other than through the ballot box. God forbid (as He apparently does), that you would consider the opinions of others before casting your vote — a vigorous public debate on those “inappropriate topics” is unhealthy for society, particularly criticism of religion or anything done in its name. Let’s not try to be influenced by the people we actually know; leave that to politicians skilled in pandering to every “faith community” that invites them to the pulpit.

Wise move, though, writing to the Squad. Certainly they wouldn’t attempt to impose their views on others, outside of using their nationally syndicated column that you chose to air your gossip about your mean atheist friends. True, they do occasionally express an opinion on how God hates gay marriage (they’re against tattoos, too), but that doesn’t disrespect anyone, does it? And certainly they would never mock religious belief, even thought Rabbi Gellman pretty much believes that Jesus was a con man and Father Tom thinks the Rabbi’s going to hell for doubting.

But on to the Squad’s own thoughts about the matter:

The last acceptable prejudice in our society is the prejudice against people who take their faith seriously. We think this anti-religious prejudice is influenced by several factors.

(1) It’s not “prejudice”, in the sense that the atheists are prejudging the intelligence or morality of believers on the basis of some irrelevant, superficial characteristic such as skin color. They’re simply judging them

Comments

71 Responses to “God Squad Review CXXVII (Atheist Persecution of Christians)”

  1. St. Teabag
    May 12th, 2005 @ 5:48 pm

    Has anyone ever listened to a JEsus radio station? They I wasd in the middle of nowhere and it was the only station I could get, but it was so hilarious thjat now I look for them. The best shows are the call in problem shows. No matter what the problem is, the answer is always the same: cheebus will help you out. Naturally it gets tiresome after a while, but it can be fucking funny. Kind of like this bullshit

  2. Andrew
    May 12th, 2005 @ 7:51 pm

    Gotta say, this is one of your better G-Squad reviews in a while. It’s almost a shame/surprize they didn’t break Godwin’s law there.

  3. Mijae
    May 12th, 2005 @ 7:53 pm

    The triumvirate of inappropriate topics? Fuck that. How convenient, to never have to discuss anything that may actually reveal someone thinks differently than you do, at least about anything of consequence. I really hate people sometimes.

    But I love you, RA! ; ) This post was just beautiful. I always like these God Squad responses, since they deal with the questions of the everyday rationalizing twits all around us. I just wish (as has been said many times before) that you could get your critiques published alongside them somewhere, or get an actual response to your wealth of criticism from them.

  4. Preacher Bob
    May 12th, 2005 @ 9:04 pm

    get new friends my ass! do yor duty as a friend and christian – flail the shit out of ‘em til they accept jesus. that’s what friends do! it may hurt now but they’ll thank you when they are up in heaven listening to all that harp music.

    anyhow, how did they know what your beliefs are if you never talk about them? why, why, it must be a miracle!

  5. Mookie
    May 13th, 2005 @ 3:47 am

    “Its rude to jest about people’s religion, it is something very important to them.” Oh yeah? Well getting rid of superfluous nonsensical religious baggage is very important to me. I’ll make sure I tell every religious nutball that their beliefs are meaningless, and degrade them accordingly. They should feel like morons for believing in something that is not there. Since most of them don’t, we all have to do our fair share and make sure they do. Let them know that its not cool to have imaginary sky gods that control the universe.

  6. vince
    May 13th, 2005 @ 4:52 am

    A man in ‘faith’ once asked spitting at me with despise how long it takes for one to travel from Hell to Paradise.

    It’s amazing to confront such hatered from a man representing The source of love.

    It was my regretful duty to inform him that the trip from Hell to Paradise takes exactly as long as it takes one to forgive oneself. Granted, it may be hard, as having failed the test of not beginning to gather a congregation and taking onself waaaay too seriously are really _humiliating_ chances to swallow one’s pride.

    Of course, if there is not enough love to spread around, one might get a bit teased, and consider, dunno perhaps, crusifying the bastard who tricked you. Plenty of suckers to back you around.

    Middle-east and mediterranean never were too big on humor.

    Jesus really was the man but he stills was, just a man. Balls big as bear’s for sure. Jesus Christ! :D LOL

  7. MBains
    May 13th, 2005 @ 7:45 am

    “It

  8. Frank
    May 13th, 2005 @ 9:44 am

    “It’s ironic, to say the least, to attack atheists as ‘prejudiced’ for criticizing beliefs that they have examined b(ut) you have not.”

    First: From the question posed to the God Squad it was the Christian who was attacked by her atheist/agnostic friends, not the other way around.

    Second: Honest dialogue and debate are acceptable means for discussing these topics, attacks are not. The vast majority of Christians I know respect this notion and adhere to it. But Mookie, in his response above, advocates “degrading” someone “accordingly” for disagreeing with him. Nice.

    Third: To assume that atheists have examined the Christian faith more than Christians themselves and are, therefore, more qualified to make a determination about the faith is just plain wrong. Oh sure, there are Christians who have not bothered to learn about their faith and there are atheists who have studied the Bible in depth but, as a whole, Christians have invested more time and energy into the study of the Word than non-Christians.

    Despite all the errors in your post, RA, it is a funny rant nonetheless and should entertain your atheist readership who won’t bother to consider the blatantly false nature of most of your assumptions.

  9. Eva
    May 13th, 2005 @ 10:11 am

    ….unfortunately, the overwhelming mayority of christians i have met believe that anything i say in oposition to their religious beliefs is, automatically, an attack…..
    example:
    theist: “God loves you!”
    me: ” Oh but i don’t believe in god…”
    theist: “Whaaat!!? Then you are a satanist!”
    me: “well, no…..i don’t believe in any made-up make believe deities…”
    theist: “Made up??!! You can’t say that! He is real and you cannot insult me by saying that!”
    me: “i did not insult you….”
    theist: “You have to respect me! You cannot tell me that!!”

    frank, you fail in your proposition that if someone is a “real christian” ™, it is imposible to that person to become an atheist. most atheists i know about were deeply religious before atheism, and all atheists i know personally used to be, indeed, very religious. (except for me- i was never very religious).

    yes, it’s a funny rant…..so we agree on that……but the rant is chock full of, if not reality, TRUTH.

  10. Viole
    May 13th, 2005 @ 11:02 am

    Frank, from your perspective, anything which doesn’t begin with the bible is wrong. Try being the True Christian(TM) you claim to be, and read the post from an atheist perspective, as I’m sure Jesus would do. Or perhaps it isn’t just a radical feminist myth that men are incapable of such emotional feats?

    To assume that atheists have examined the Christian faith more than Christians themselves and are, therefore, more qualified to make a determination about the faith is just plain wrong. Oh sure, there are Christians who have not bothered to learn about their faith and there are atheists who have studied the Bible in depth but, as a whole, Christians have invested more time and energy into the study of the Word than non-Christians.

    You’ve just made a false assumption of your own, here. No where does the quoted statement, nor the surrounding text, suggest anything of bible study. It suggests the critical examination of faith, which most bible thumpers have never done.

    And just look at that [post edited for un-jesus-like taunting].

  11. Frank
    May 13th, 2005 @ 11:29 am

    Viole — point well taken. Allow me, then, to qualify. Certainly an examination of faith vs. non-faith with regard to any religion would necessitate a look at the internal and external evidences. I would imagine that atheists might invest more time in external evidences (non-biblical) in their study of the Christian faith. Christians, since they assume the truth of scripture, probably spend more time with internal evidence. Both sides have people who study both bodies of evidence. But it is still incorrect to assume one group can lay claim to having examined the beliefs in question while the other has not.

    Eva — I have no way of knowing who these “Christians” are that you run into and speak to you in the manner you describe. I certainly have no reason to doubt your account of such encounters. I only know that I’ve been associated with a huge number of Christians for a long, long time and virtually none of them would behave in like manner.

    To be sure, many of them would attempt to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with you upon finding you you don’t believe God exists. But such an attempt would almost certainly be made out of love and would remain non-confrontational. Personally I would never take someone’s disbelief in God as a personal attack or insult to myself.

    And with regard to a “true Christian” not becoming an atheist … well, that’s true. Oh, someone who has been “deeply religious” can turn from their religion, sure. But the Bible is clear that anyone who abandons their faith in Christ never actually had saving faith in Christ to begin with because it is not the strength of our faith that sustains us in the faith but the strength of God. He is the author and finisher of our faith and the Bible tells us that He who started the good work in us is faithful to complete it. It is certainly possible for someone to have been so “deeply religious” as to fool everyone (even themselves) into thinking they were really Christians. But true Christians do not fall from the faith. They can’t, God sustains them. I know you don’t believe the authority of Scripture but I thought I’d share with you where we get the notion.

    Oh, one last thing … What is the “True Christian(TM)” thingie that you keep using? I’m unfamiliar with that.

  12. Xianghong
    May 13th, 2005 @ 11:31 am

    Whoa now the Fraud Squad has to resort to teaching the sheep how to make friends? Don’t they teach that in elementary school or something? What’s next, how to get laid? Oh wait I should stop before I get accused of being prejudiced.

  13. GeneralZod
    May 13th, 2005 @ 11:53 am

    “Certainly an examination of faith vs. non-faith with regard to any religion would necessitate a look at the internal and external evidences.”
    If “internal evidence” refers to information acquired thru faith, and “external evidence” refers to info acquired thru non-faith resources, can’t we just refer to external/non-faith evidence as “actual evidence”, and internal/faith evidence as “pretend evidence”?
    Frank, I rarely, if ever, agree with you, but I sure admire you for your good attitude here! :)

    “What’s next, how to get laid? ” Xianghong, I assume you mean “get laid, within the sacred bounds of a god-sactioned, heterosexual marriage for the sole purpose of procreation”, right?

  14. AK
    May 13th, 2005 @ 11:57 am

    Frank,

    Do you not agree that some ideas are good and some are bad? What if a person in your social circle said that he supported NAMBLA, or supported nuclear proliferation, or supported the environmental raping of the earth? Would you think that his beliefs should just be respected and uncritically tolerated?

    A friend that cares is one that tries to correct the beliefs of his friends that are harmful and antisocial and anti-intellectual. To an atheist/agnostic, religion is such a belief.

    Of course the theist will not agree that religion is harmful (just like tobacco companies disagree that tobacco is harmful), but that is besides the point. What matters here is that when an idea is seen as harmful by ones peers, it is a disservice to ignore or avoid this seemingly harmful belief.

    Ideas are very powerful, and potentially dangerous, things. They should be expected to stand on their own, and they should be expected to be able to weather criticisms. Frank, you, and I, and the rest of the world, criticizes and challenges ideas all the time in all sorts of subjects and categories. This is healthy and necessary for a society to learn and grow and progress.

    Why should religion (an idea with grand implications) be exempt?

  15. Frank
    May 13th, 2005 @ 12:15 pm

    AK — I do agree that some ideas are good and others bad. I also agree that a friend who cares is one who tries to correct the beliefs of his friends that are harmful. That is why I don’t have any problem with an atheist who believes my religious ideas are harmful trying to convince me of their point of view. I do think it is a bit inconsistent for the atheist who does that to not give the same consideration to a Christian, who sees the atheist’s view as harmful, trying to correct him.

    GeneralZod — when I speak of internal and external evidence with regard to Christianity the internal does not mean evidence acquired through faith but rather evidence from a source internal to the faith (in this case the Bible). There are other internal evidences (such as my personal experience of salvation, etc.) that you could say were acquired through faith, but you’ve never seen me present them here as empirical. Nor are you likely to. Anyone can claim an experience that validates their position and it simply holds no water in an open debate.

    Oh, AK — I don’t know how I gave you the impression that I think religion should be exempt from critical analysis. I think nothing of the sort. If I thought it should be exempt I wouldn’t be here at RA discussing the subject like I do.

  16. Delta
    May 13th, 2005 @ 12:16 pm

    Nice post, I enjoyed it. Tolerance of crazy ideas is not the right way to go. Sam Harris’ book was pretty good in putting forth that idea into the public arena.

  17. Viole
    May 13th, 2005 @ 12:49 pm
  18. Tenspace
    May 13th, 2005 @ 1:24 pm

    RA, that is definitely one of your better columns. Thanks for sharing.

    Frank, I hope you participate in the forums; you’re one of the few literate theists we see around here; your opinions are intelligent, well-thought, and apparently sincere.
    My only bone to pick would be your statement “…assume that atheists have examined the Christian faith more than Christians themselves and are, therefore, more qualified to make a determination about the faith is just plain wrong.” Most atheists have spent their lifetimes as Christians or Jews. Please consider this. I was deeply religious for over 35 years before I saw that the light was nothing more than photons.

  19. GeneralZod
    May 13th, 2005 @ 1:33 pm

    Viole,
    “[post edited for un-jesus-like taunting]” is too funny! Do you mind I blatantly rip you off and use it on other forums (fora?)?

  20. Viole
    May 13th, 2005 @ 1:49 pm

    Hmm… I seem to have made an HTML based error in my last post, ’cause it sure looks funny to me. Landover Baptist Church, is how it should appear.

    Thanks, Zod. Of course you’re free to use it wherever you like.

  21. skinnydwarf
    May 13th, 2005 @ 1:54 pm

    Frank said:

    Second: Honest dialogue and debate are acceptable means for discussing these topics, attacks are not. The vast majority of Christians I know respect this notion and adhere to it. But Mookie, in his response above, advocates “degrading” someone “accordingly” for disagreeing with him. Nice.

    I think Mookie was justifying such actions because he felt *so strongly* about atheism that he wanted to convert others. If attempting to convert people is ok for religious people, it is ok for non-religious people. Christians insult others for being atheists, why is it somehow unacceptable the other way around?

    However, you might be saying that it is rude in all cases, when Christians insult atheists or vice versa. I would tend to agree with you there.

  22. Frank
    May 13th, 2005 @ 2:40 pm

    skinnydwarf — Attempting to convert someone to your point of view is acceptable. But, feeling “so strongly” in your convictions is not a justification to be insulting. It is wrong for anyone to be insulting regardless of the strength of one’s convictions. Mookie’s statement, “I’ll make sure that I tell every religious nutball that their beliefs are meaningless and degrade them accordingly” seems to indicate he disagrees.

  23. MBains
    May 13th, 2005 @ 3:31 pm

    Mookie, in his response above, advocates “degrading” someone “accordingly” for disagreeing with him.

    That isn’t what Mookie said. He said it was OK to degrade them accordingly for “acting a fool” if we are to continue paraphrasing. Disagreement may be an element of that but it is far from the salient point.

  24. Xianghong
    May 13th, 2005 @ 3:36 pm

    GeneralZod: I hereby declare that I have been embarrased by your comments and accuse you of prejudice against God, theists, Conservatives, monogamists and um straight people.

  25. GeneralZod
    May 13th, 2005 @ 3:53 pm

    Xianghong: you are just prejudiced against those of us who pre-judge others! Luckily my faith in baby jesus sustains me when I am persecuted by “your kind”!

  26. boywonder
    May 13th, 2005 @ 6:21 pm

    I’m tired of christians pissing and moaning about their beliefs being examined. If anything, the ‘culture’ in Amerikkka is one of overtolerance (is that a word?). The media is too afraid to call anything as they see it, whether something is too liberal or too conservative, or just plain bullshit. Most atheists and the like ignore and tolerate religious stupidity because they believe in freedom of speech (and, that religion is dead). I don’t see this on the flip side of the coin. Almost every stinking time an atheist says or does something seen as offensive by a religious nut, their ‘beliefs’ are called attacks or suppression of rights, etc., etc.. Religion is dying. It’s just taking too damn long to croak. It’s gonna be this way for AT LEAST 4 or more generations. Religion will persist for at least a few more centuries.

  27. Mookie
    May 13th, 2005 @ 7:08 pm

    Frank,

    Look at it like this. You meet someone in their mid-40s that believes in Santa Claus. They are otherwise fine in their assessment of the way the world works. They are pretty level-headed. But they think that a fat man in a rad suit jumps down people’s chimneys one night out of every year to give them gifts. Absurdity. You would laugh and jest and let them in on the big secret: that there is no Santa Claus, all made up. I do that for people who believe in god(s). Why? The same reason I do it for those who believe in Santa Claus. And don’t start with that “but there’s more proof!” or “but Santa Claus is a silly story to tell kids!” There is no proof of god(s), and religion is also just a silly story. Unfortunately, these silly stories don’t all agree with each other, so now we fight each over differing versions of our respective fairy tales. Oh, and to one-up you again, fuck logic that “religion gives people peace and morals.” You can get peace and morals from another source, independently of religion. Religion does not have a monopoly on such ideas. For these reasons, like I said, religion is useless baggage. And I will continue to degrade people that believe in maladaptive ideas, of any kind. Its my way of making the world a better place.

  28. Mookie
    May 13th, 2005 @ 7:09 pm

    rad = red
    although i bet it is pretty radical, in a way

  29. Xianghong
    May 13th, 2005 @ 11:07 pm

    GeneralZod: That’s it I’ve had enough of your hostility. Desist immediately or I shall be forced to FIGHT BACK!

  30. GeneralZod
    May 14th, 2005 @ 12:13 am

    Xianghong: PLEASE! You cannot harm me, for god is on my side. I am like jesus: I will simply turn the other cheek…and i hate homos (and shellfish!)! And also like jesus, my mom has been seen hanging out in a grimy, stained underpass.
    i will pray for you.

  31. WOMBATTLER
    May 14th, 2005 @ 9:02 am

    THANK GOODNESS YOU IDIOTS ARE A VAST MINORITY. I’VE NEVER SEEN SUCH CONCENTRATED STUPIDITY.

  32. Paul
    May 14th, 2005 @ 9:50 am

    Viole asked Frank: “You’ve just made a false assumption of your own, here. No where does the quoted statement, nor the surrounding text, suggest anything of bible study. It suggests the critical examination of faith, which most bible thumpers have never done.”

    Frank, don’t you see the contradiction between faith and examination? Examination implies logic and evidence, and faith is exactly not those things. That was what TRA said.

  33. Alex
    May 14th, 2005 @ 11:04 am

    firstly fuck religion in all aspects, fuck u all who worship god, or the devil, or allah or any other false degenerate faggots. i guess i’d be classifyed as athiest/ nhilist, but hey, i dont go around trying to change people, occasionly give me opinion, however, i dont need this shit from christians or johova witnesses, trying to change me… i cant undestand the sheer stupidity of society in this day and age, only thign that keeps me going is the thought you’r all going to die all one day, and your little fucking reject kids. how can people beleive in a god, or worship jesus, what the fuck is this, religion causes more problems then anything else in the world, more wars, arguments, between races, cultures, people, even fucking animls sadly enuff, “yeah man i’m cool, i’m gonna fucking sacrifice a lamb to trinity, the coolest god eva :0…(father son spirit)… study buddhism in depth and realise how fucked christianity is.
    Jesus is our saviour aye? let me see, Islam, Judaism and christainty for the sake of the argument were all based off jesus, it seams all 3 religions basically hate each other, in general, they all state there religion is better then the others, so infact jesus, is causing more shit then anyone, more then hitler it seams. although me raving on about this dosnt mean shit to anyone because as soon as most of u read this you’ll diss agree and not consider anything anyone has to say. blah blah blah etc etc etc

  34. Xianghong
    May 14th, 2005 @ 11:11 am

    GenaralZod: *Gasp* Not the “I will pray for you” argument! I am forced to concede defeat to your immaculate logic and superior reasoning ability. I shall now lay my brain down for Jeeesus and begin spreading the True Christian (TM) to the queers, heathens and erm mollusks immediately!

  35. Atheist Revolution
    May 14th, 2005 @ 11:47 am

    Poor Persecuted Christians: Analysis by The Raving

    The Raving Atheist has an outstanding analysis of the Christian persecution complex. I’d like to add some thoughts on this topic…

  36. NJ
    May 14th, 2005 @ 12:10 pm

    Good reading. Especially liked Frank’s definition of a “true christian”. Now I know that I never was one because I’m now agnostic. I mean, I thought since I went through all my religion’s steps – asked to be forgiven for sins, got baptised, and received the holy ghost (yep, one of those) – I had made it in the door. Believe me backing out against your family is tough with all that eternal fire talk, but I had a functioning brain and nobody had any answers, so here I am.

    Frank made me laugh, though. Now I know that the only way to know if someone is a true christian is to wait and see if they don’t change before they die! So the next time someone wants to convert you, ask them to just give you some printed material. You can then file it until you read their obit and if it mentions they were a lifelong member of their church, then take a minute to read the material. But while they’re alive, no sense wasting your time talking to someone who’s not sure!

  37. WOMBATTLER
    May 14th, 2005 @ 12:24 pm

    ALEX, LEARN TO SPELL. YOU SOUND LIKE AN IDIOT.

  38. stu
    May 14th, 2005 @ 12:55 pm

    Yeah, WOMBATTLER, and you look like a real genius typing in all caps..

  39. Dante
    May 14th, 2005 @ 2:55 pm

    Islam, Judaism and christainty for the sake of the argument were all based off jesus

    Now that is just plain wrong. Judaism was around wayyy before Jesus is said to have been born. They all have the same God, but 3 very different views of Jesus.

  40. Lundie
    May 14th, 2005 @ 4:22 pm

    It’s funny how persecutors tend to portray themselves as the persecuted, as if it somehow justifies what they do.

    Take Hitler, our favourite devouted christian, for example.

    He kept insisting that the Aryan race was manipulated by the Jews for centuries and that the German nation was in grave danger from a judeo-bolshevik conspiracy even as the SS were killing Jews, russians, gypsies and other untermenschen by the trainloads!

  41. anisoptera
    May 14th, 2005 @ 9:12 pm

    Just scanned the commentary and my two cents is that she should check her friends because what they are doing is insensitive and mean. Whoever writes these articles on this site- Hey if you are so proud of your prejudiced rhetoric against all things spiritual then put your fricken name on these articles and let the world know who you are!!

    There is no value in this, you are fanning the coals of hatred. I bet you secretly are angry with God because your pet rabbit died when you were five years old and you never got over it. Well I got news for you, cotton tail is waiting up in heaven for you but I doubt you will ever make it.

    OK now that I got that off my chest, see ya next time…

  42. Tomek
    May 15th, 2005 @ 12:38 am

    No matter what people argue, jesus was a lot more prejudiced than any atheist could be. After all, no atheist would suggest that a theist deserves to be tortured for all eternity because his beliefs don’t align with their own (imaginary friend’s). Secondly, the bible (which christianity is based on) is repeatedly prejudiced against homosexuals, women and even disabled / handicapped people from time to time. I don’t think any atheist would suggests that homosexuals should be killed but this law is clearly outlined in the bible.

    Al these prejudices have no support outside of the fairy tale book any justifications for them are flimsy at best. I can say that assuming a person is generally stupid for believing in god can be considered prejudiced but I think most atheist wouldn’t come to such a conclusion if they consider the matter.

    Finally, christians who are offended by jokes and sarcasm featuring any of the above “morals” should know it is their fault for labelling themselves with a label that stands for such injustice even if they themselves don’t support such “morals”. Jokes about belief in god per se, are of course inescapable signs that people care.

    Tomek

  43. PhalsePhrophet
    May 15th, 2005 @ 6:12 am

    Frank said: Despite all the errors in your post, RA, it is a funny rant nonetheless and should entertain your atheist readership who won’t bother to consider the blatantly false nature of most of your assumptions.

    These assumptions are the scripture, the Holy Grail and the way and the light. I am offended, insulted and feel as though you are attacking my core beliefs. I think it prejudiced of you to assume these assumptions were not examined as enthusiastically and accepted as were your core beliefs examined and rejected based on the merits.
    Frank, please explain yourself and correct the blatantly false nature of most of TRA

  44. musashi
    May 15th, 2005 @ 6:28 pm

    Now, it’s possible that i will re-read this post tomorrow morning and think “wtf?” I’ve had 2x 750ml bottles of Chimay Grand Reserve (the blue label) and now i’m pissed :-)

    First of all I’d like to start out by saying that I am convinced that the only reason that people still follow christianity, catholicisim, etc. is because these bastards don’t read the bible… they go to a church to have the “pretty” parts read to them but as soon as you quote the book of leviticus to these cookie cutter brain-dead blowhards they look at you like you made it all up…. but holy shit! the moment you open the bible and flip to the page you’d better run unless you are armed :-)

    Now then, what exactly does this post have to do with the topic? nothing! I’m drunk and surfing the web :-)
    Anyway, back to what I was talking about, honestly, from what I can tell, atheists know the bible better than the “faithful” and it’s probably the reason why we are atheists and they are still christians :-)

  45. GeneralZod
    May 15th, 2005 @ 7:50 pm

    Xianghong said: “I shall now lay my brain down for Jeeesus. . .”
    Yes, don’t you feel better now that you let jesus do the thinking for you? Thinking on your own is for sinners and pedophiles and heathens and losers!
    Do not think, just have blind faith! Amen.

  46. GeneralZod
    May 15th, 2005 @ 7:58 pm

    anisoptera said: “I bet you secretly are angry with God because your pet rabbit died when you were five years old and you never got over it. Well I got news for you, cotton tail is waiting up in heaven for you but I doubt you will ever make it.”
    oh. my. god. she is right. Well, almost. I *AM* mad at god. i secretly knew he existed all along, but was afraid to admit it and change my sinful ways! But it was my dog. Not a bunny. Are you sure Muffin will be in heaven waiting for me? She was never baptized, and she certainly never accepted jesus christ as her personal savior. In fact, I suspect she even made, and later worshipped, graven images! I just pray that god has mercy on her soul!

  47. hermesten
    May 16th, 2005 @ 11:20 am

    Frank: “Eva — I have no way of knowing who these “Christians” are that you run into and speak to you in the manner you describe. ”

    My experience with Christians is just like Eva relates, as is the experience of every single non-believer (or believing non-Christian) I know who has shared his experiences with me. My son was not only treated this way in college, but witnessed believers deemed insufficiently “Christian” harrassed and treated this way as well. I suggest that you believe what you do about other Christians because you see them in a non-contentious environment surrounded by others who believe as they do. People don’t necessarily react the same way when they are one-on-one, or dealing with people they don’t agree with and thus hold in some degree of contempt. You remind me of a guy who told me that the Iraqis love us because he knows a soldier in Iraq who has never had an Iraqi complain to him about the occupation.

  48. Frank
    May 16th, 2005 @ 1:00 pm

    Dang, I take the weekend off and Shazaam! … way too much to respond to at once. If you will permit me, I will respond to a couple of you for now:

    Paul — There is no contradiction between examination and faith. I think we are having a slight miscommunication with regard to some of the terms we are both using. When you say “faith” you understand the word to mean believing in something for which there is no evidence. That is a valid definition of the word but it is not the meaning Christians assign to it when they say they have “faith” in Jesus Christ. In that sense the word means “trust.” And that faith is not without evidence. It is, by no means, a blind faith.

    A good analogy is someone deciding to take a flight from one city to another. A pilot can explain to them the principles of flight. He can tell them of Bernoulli’s principle and how an airfoil works. He can tell them of thrust, drag, lift, and gravity and of pitch, roll, and yaw. And, even though they understand in their head the principles that tell them this really, really, heavy chunk of metal can fly, they don’t exercise faith in that knowledge until they step on board and take off. Even then, they may not completely understand how it all works (thrust to weight ratios, drift and course correction, flight plans, traffic patterns) but in the end they find themselves in Phoenix when before they were standing in St. Louis.

    With Christianity, there is enough evidence to convince a person it’s okay to trust Christ, even though many questions about why and so forth remain, for the moment, unanswered.

    PhalseProphet — my credibility here is always going to be in question, regardless of the strength of my arguments, because of the simple fact that I don’t have an objective audience. Thinking that I have a chance of an objective hearing here, or a chance at being considered credible, is like George W. Bush getting an objective hearing from Senate Democrats or Bill Clinton from House Republicans … it just ain’t gonna happen. But I knew that when I came. Any additional “hits” on my credibility here aren’t going to make a bit of difference. I’m not considered credible by most of you anyway.

    hermesten — I will allow that the vast majority of my time spent with other Christians has been in non-contentious environments. However, not all of them. In fact, I’ve been in some very contentious environments and have never witnesses a Christian verbally attack or degrade someone because that person did not believe in Jesus. I don’t deny that it happens because I’ve heard of it too many times. But my personal experience has been just the opposite and I relay that to you here so you will not paint all Christians with the same brush as those who treated your son poorly in college.

  49. DC
    May 16th, 2005 @ 2:52 pm

    ‘To assume that atheists have examined the Christian faith more than Christians themselves and are, therefore, more qualified to make a determination about the faith is just plain wrong’

    I think on this the atheist’s are correct they know MUCH more about good thinking and the Christian faith than 99% of all Christians I know or have known.

    It’s almost pathetic.

  50. hermesten
    May 16th, 2005 @ 6:25 pm

    Frank: “I’ve been in some very contentious environments and have never witnesses a Christian verbally attack or degrade someone because that person did not believe in Jesus.”

    We can argue about the term “verbally attack,” but neither Eva, nor I, used the term “degrade,” nor did we say anything about a being “attacked” for not believing in Jesus. In fact, Eva wasn’t speaking about atheists being attacked. She said that Christians consider any opposition to their beliefs as an attack on them. And I have in fact often found Christians to be very hostile to anyone who professes to be an atheist. All Christians? No. Catholics are usually pretty tolerant, and my son has Catholic friends who have invited him to church discussions to talk about atheism. Most of the people who show this hostility or defensiveness are Protestant fundies, and where I live, those hard-core enough to be confrontational are probably about 20% of the population, and share beliefs with perhaps another 20% who aren’t aggressive enough to be confrontational.

  51. PhalsePhrophet
    May 16th, 2005 @ 11:43 pm

    Frank, I didn’t expect you to be so careful as to avoid the question.
    BTW; I ride a motorcycle with vanity plates that read NO GODS. It is not the atheist and freethinkers glareing at me, flipping me off, and spitting; it is the belivers with the Jesus fish and the my kid was an honor student at the Jesuit High bumper stickers. Off the road or parked, it is usually the younger beliver who is aggressive while the elders simply turn their heads. All without me even uttering a word.

  52. anisoptera
    May 17th, 2005 @ 2:05 am

    Historically there has been much cruelty in the world from people that claim to be christian and people that do not. Everyone that claims to be a christian is not necessarily one or they use the term but dont really understand what that means. For me it means that you believe in and have faith in The Lord God, value qualities like meekness naivety and kindness AS OPPOSED TO selfishness bold disrespect and physical pleasure seeking. Also having pure motives in your actions without deception. It is also important to acknowledge and admit your sins and have forgiveness in your heart when there is sincere remorse.

    The stuff that I have read expressed here about the attitudes of christians and the wrongful acts caused by Jesus are not based on anything Jesus said or did. If you need to blame someone look at things from all angles and be fair in your assesment of things.

  53. hermesten
    May 17th, 2005 @ 10:28 am

    To amplify PhalsePhrophet, most of us atheists who have been around long enough have probably encountered Christians who think we should be killed. When you consider the fact that with most people one meets, religion never even comes up; that for every person bold enough to express such an extreme attitude there are bound to be several others who agree with it but keep their mouths shut; and that these people were not brought-up in a moral vacuum yet do not feel stigmatized by such expression, one must give pause to the thought of greater Christian political power. After all Frank, it is these extremists are are most likely to be seeking political power, not people like you.

  54. Eva
    May 17th, 2005 @ 10:46 am

    oh please, come on….i’m getting tired of whis “true christian” ™ thing….all you have to believe in to be a xtian is that jesus is your savior and that he died for your sins.
    you believe that, you are a christian. end of story.
    ani, everything else you say about what a real xtian is, is only your expectations for yourself. you are hoping that your faith in your god MAKES you have the qualities you talk about in your post. that is not being a xtian. that is just being ani.
    the problem i see with this is that xtians all insist that they are sinners, imperfect and stuff like that, yet also insist in that jesus will forgive them all if only they accept him as their savior. however, ani, you are pushing this other behaviors as indicative of a “real” or “true” xtian- what makes a xtian be one.
    xtians are allowed to be imperfect (obviouslly, because only jesus is perfect) and even more so: they are imperfect because they are human and that is the whole point of being a xtian, then why do you also add meekness, naivet

  55. Frank
    May 17th, 2005 @ 11:06 am

    PhalseProphet — I didn’t mean to give you the impression I was avoiding your questions (that’s why I prefaced my latest comments with the statement about there being too much to address at once). However, I’ll get a little more specific about the false nature of some of RA’s assumptions …

    First, my original post on this thread mentions a couple of them upfront.

    Now …

    RA says, “faith is the antithesis of intellectual seriousness.” False assumption. I’ve addressed the relationship between intellectual seriousness and faith (as practiced by biblical Christianity) many times. The two are quite complimentary. Such a blanket statement assumes anyone who exercises religious faith cannot be intellectually serious and that just ain’t so.

    RA says religion can’t be important to a person unless it’s, “inculcated into him before he’s an adult.” False assumption. I know waaay too many people who have come to faith in Christ as an adult. In fact, many times it is the people who become Christians in adulthood who take their faith most seriously.

    RA says, “Medicine, nutrition and mathematics don’t lose their importance to people once they have grown out of babyhood.” The assumption inherent in this statement is that religion does lose it’s importance. Not so. There are way too many strong Christians who were saved in their childhood. Their faith is every bit as important now as it was then. And, for the record, things of importance we do not necessarily reserve for adulthood and keep from our children. We begin to make sure our children have proper medical care, nutrition and educations at the earliest possible opportunity. Teaching our kids about God is (in the Christian’s view) even more important than that and should be introduced as early as possible.

    RA says, “…maybe there’s a reason there’s hostility to religion at institutions of ‘higher’ learning. Maybe it’s a form of lower ignorance.” Oh, there’s a reason institutions of “higher” learning are hostile toward religion but it’s not because theology is intellectually inferior to other disciplines. It is because many of the conclusions drawn from theology are in stark contrast to the accepted, politically correct worldviews at such institutions. That colleges and universities are dominated by liberals and those who adopt PC worldviews is no secret. That they are openly hostile to any idea which contradicts their own is no secret either. Once again, RA is guilty of basing an argument on a false assumption.

    RA says, “in other words cut off all meaningful discussion and discard real people in favor of your crazy ghosts.” The God Squad’s previous statement implied no such thing. The subject was about people who ridicule and joke at your expense. That is not “meaningful discussion.” Most of the Christians I’ve ever known do not shy away from meaningful discussions with non-believers. But it is a waste of time to sit around and be berated by a person who has no interest in hearing your side, too.

    What RA has done here is to frame this subject in a light most favorable to it’s own side (which is something everyone tries to do). But in the process has defined many of the positions of theists incorrectly. If it’s an honest mistake then that is understandable. If it’s deliberate then it is dishonest and shows reluctance to engage in the meaningful discussion mentioned in the post.

  56. MBains
    May 17th, 2005 @ 2:09 pm

    In that sense (faith) means “trust.”

    Frank, you just pointed out a fundamental reason that believers are idiots. (Sorry, I really can’t think of a better term right this minute.) Faith is belief without evidence while Trust is belief (or acceptance of a proposition) based upon evidence. The two are NOT interchangeable unless you (the general “you”) consider disingenousness to be honesty.

    In other words, your explanation supports the RA’s original asserion that christians, in general, don’t have a clue as to what their Faith actually is. That’s why they can’t help lying about it. An unintentional lie may be just an untruth, but it still ain’t true.

  57. MBains
    May 17th, 2005 @ 2:14 pm

    … because of the simple fact that I don’t have an objective audience.

    I reject your assertion on the grounds that it unfounded. I am as objective a homo sapien as you will find because I aknowledge my emotions and let people know when my actions, or statements, are emotionally based. You are, again, either lying outright, which from my knowledge of your posts if unlikely, or simply displaying your ignorance of the term “objective”.

    Either way it was rude and invites recrimination from those who enjoy such regardless of their target. I’ll not insult You (unless its obviously in jest) so I am merely pointing out the falsity of your statement.

  58. MBains
    May 17th, 2005 @ 2:24 pm

    I’ve addressed the relationship between intellectual seriousness and faith (as practiced by biblical Christianity)

    LOL! Hi again Frank! That statement is what invites and Validates the Invisible Pink Unicorn argument. It is meaningless in a practical or impirical sense. It is culture and belief. It is not reality irrespective of belief.

  59. Frank
    May 17th, 2005 @ 2:44 pm

    MBains — Merriam-Webster defines faith as follows:

    1 a : allegiance to duty or a person : LOYALTY b (1) : fidelity to one’s promises (2) : sincerity of intentions
    2 a (1) : belief and trust in and loyalty to God (2) : belief in the traditional doctrines of a religion b (1) : firm belief in something for which there is no proof (2) : complete trust
    3 : something that is believed especially with strong conviction; especially : a system of religious beliefs
    synonym see BELIEF
    – in faith : without doubt or question : VERILY

    The definition you prefer to use is certainly there, I don’t deny that, but so is the definition I use. I have faith in Jesus Christ (and there is evidence to support it) therefore the word “faith” when used by Christians does not refer to your preferred definition (the one I call “blind faith”) but rather to my preferred definition which refers to trust.

    And my assertion that the audience here is not objective is not unfounded. Everyone here has pretty much made up their mind concerning God. I believe, you don’t. I’ve defended my position, so have you. Perhaps “impartial” would have been a better term. I certainly did not mean to imply you did not critically think of things. But it is pretty plain that my arguments are typically dismissed out-of-hand. That’s not to say there are not good arguments against me. There are. However, I would guess that my arguments are received with an immediate attitude of skepticism. When my name shows up at the top of a post I’ll just bet that many here begin reading it with the thought, “I wonder what’s wrong with THIS one?” That is not objective. And I daresay you, too, read my posts with a preconceived idea as to their validity. You already know me as a Christian. You are already skeptical of Christianity. You know I will be defending the Christian perspective. Therefore, you are probably skeptical of my posts before reading them.

  60. MBains
    May 17th, 2005 @ 3:17 pm

    (the one I call “blind faith”)

    Agreed. I was being a bit emotional eh? ;-} Although I think coming decades will edit the definitions into separate component categories as they certainly describe different observable events with the brain.

    Perhaps “impartial” would have been a better term.

    Yessir. That would indeed be more accurate.

    You are already skeptical of Christianity.

    Actually, I’m only skeptical until I know one way or the other. It is a fact that Christianity is a myth. Jesus the Christ may or may not have existed. There is no evidence at all that he was any sort of deity since “deity” is an untestable concept. I “believe” in a variety of particular causes for that concept’s invention. I don’t “know” for sure what all of those causes may have been. It could have been a god. Again, I’ve seen no evidence to suggest that possibility. It could have been an advanced alien species. While I’ve seen more actual, verifiable evidence of the latter, I assure you that I AM still Quite skeptical of that explanation. (As far as I know, I’ve never been abducted [though I have enjoyed a few “probes” in my time.]) ;-}

    I do know that people and their actions create the societies in which we all exist. I “think” and “believe” that basing our reasons for our actions upon empirical evidence is much more efficacious towards creating a progressive and adaptable society. In other words, the more we learn about empirical reality, the less we need depend upon mythological methodologies for discerning the “best” ways to live.

    I really am glad you Post here Frank. You might enjoy this site even more. The owner, by name of Paul, is someone I’ve really come to respect and appreciate. He is not atheist.

  61. MBains
    May 17th, 2005 @ 3:18 pm

    A double posted Doh! DOH!

  62. Mijae
    May 17th, 2005 @ 3:21 pm

    Frank, you’re illustrating one of the most classic examples of sophistry doublethink to ever muddle up a religious discussion.

    The word “faith” CAN mean either “belief without any evidence” or “trust based on evidence”… IN DIFFERENT CONTEXTS. It cannot mean both AT THE SAME TIME. If we argue that belief without evidence is a bad thing, and you answer that that’s not true, because belief with evidence is fine, can you see how this does not address the question?

    The only relevance your answer has is that you used the same word, with a different definition. We are using the word in one definition in the question, and you use a different definition in the answer. There is no longer any logical connection.

    It’s as if we were arguing that it’s bad to lie because it hides the truth, but you answered that lying is fine because when you lie out in the sun it’s so relaxing and you get a nice tan.

  63. Frank
    May 17th, 2005 @ 3:31 pm

    Mijae — What I am doing is outright rejecting the definition of “faith” as belief in something for which there is no evidence when we use it in the context of biblical Christianity. Because in the context of Christianity that is NOT what is meant. I understand the word CAN and DOES have multiple meanings. I am merely pointing out that one of those meanings does NOT accurately apply to Christianity.

    MBains — thanks for the link. Looks like a place I’ll have to visit.

  64. Mijae
    May 17th, 2005 @ 3:40 pm

    So you agree that the kind of faith atheists are always griping about IS a bad thing, then? You agree that believing in anything without evidence is a bad thing?

    Even if you do, you’ve got a LOT of false Christians out there to go inform that they’ve got it wrong and they’re using a kind of faith that doesn’t accurately apply to Christianity at all. I grew up in a (fairly liberal Methodist) church and currently am paid to attend and play piano for a (quite liberal – UCC) church every week, so I like to think I know something about Christians too.

  65. Eric Gunnerson
    May 17th, 2005 @ 3:48 pm

    Frank,

    I think you are conflating belief and faith.

    To expand on your airplane analogy. When you fly on an airplane, you have decided that you will trust that the plane can actually make it by the pilot. I agree with that definition of trust.

    But where the analogy falls down is on the the matter of the existence of the plane. While there might be a difference of opinion on whether the plane will make it there, all agree that the plane and the pilot exist. Nor will there be any doubt as to whether the passengers actually make it to Austin.

    But in Christianity, the existence of the plane(god) and whether the passengers make it to Austin(have eternal life) are matters of faith. You can argue that you have made it to the departure lounge (church) and that you’ve bought your ticket (accepted god), but that’s not objective evidence. And if after that leap of faith you then trust in Jesus, your trust cannot be said to be objective because it rests on a foundation of faith. *If* you already believe in god, than your evidence will make sense. But not to those of us who don’t believe.

    To touch briefly on the subject of the understanding of religion, I’ve talked to a whole lot of theists. Some are well informed, but the vast majority have not done any study of their own. For example, very few Christians could tell you when the gospels were written relative the to the life of Jesus, and very few would know that the books that are in the bible were chosen from a larger group of books, or when that choice happened. Some believe that the bible was written in Engish.

    I can only label that as ignorance.

  66. hermesten
    May 17th, 2005 @ 3:51 pm

    Hey Eric, if English was good enough for Jesus it’s good enough for me!

  67. Frank
    May 17th, 2005 @ 4:12 pm

    Mijae — I don’t agree that faith (belief in something for which there is no evidence) is ALWAYS a bad thing. I can imagine some occasions where it might be a good thing. I was just pointing out that biblical Christianity does not fit into that category. And those Christians out there to whom you refer may be unaware of the evidence that supports their faith in Jesus but it doesn’t mean that evidence does not exist.

    Eric — The fact that many Christians cannot tell you how the canon of Scripture came to exist in its present form, when the originals were probably written, or in what language they were written, is indeed sad. You are quite accurate in calling it ignorance, for that is what it is.

  68. MBains
    May 17th, 2005 @ 4:33 pm

    Yesterday my wife asked me if I had Faith in our marriage. I, of course, told her no. I have no faith whatsoever in anything at all. This is of course because of the more precise, or specific, definition of Faith that I used above. I trust that she and I will have a great and long marriage because we are open and honest and want similar things from life.

    Plus she’s hilarious, smart and cuuute so I’d be foolish to mess it up! ;D

  69. Mijae
    May 17th, 2005 @ 5:19 pm

    Aww, that’s so sweet, MBains! Me and my fiance say just the same thing. That’s one other thing I don’t understand about faith, or why faith is supposed to be good. Not only would it be better to love and respect someone because you have reason to, why would someone who loves YOU demand faith of you? My fiance and I love each other enough to see to it that we’ll never have need of “faith” in each other, or in our love for each other. We want to make sure we back it up, and we ENJOY backing it up, with lots and lots of hard evidence. …you can take that in a dirty or an innocuous way, as both of them work. ; )

  70. PhalsePhrophet
    May 18th, 2005 @ 1:22 am

    Frank, I expected you to tackle TRA

  71. SSR
    May 18th, 2005 @ 9:36 am

    God Squad Review CXXVII (Atheist Persecution of Christians)

    God Squad Review CXXVI…

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