September 28, 2009

Answering A Commenter on Motivations

Posted in Atheism, Personal tagged , , at 12:13 pm by Andrew

A commenter asks:

You might consider one more argument (thought) to tackle. Why have you dedicated so much time and effort to destroying “pixies in space?”

Well, I think maybe you’ve misinterpreted the mission of this site. As it says right up there on the top of the screen, I write this blog to evaluate apologetic arguments for Christianity. If you have some personal faith in Jesus that makes you happy, and you’ve got a live-and-let-live mentality, then we’re not going to have much to discuss. Most of my family members are Christians; most of the people I interact with on a daily basis are religious. My favorite baseball player is a Christian. And so on. Believe what you believe and be happy with it!

On the other hand, if you think you have a good argument why I should believe in Jesus, then I’d like to hear it. So far, I’ve found those arguments pretty unavailing, but who knows — maybe you’ll come up with a good one. Until then, all I can do is evaluate and answer the arguments that people make to me.

I encounter oodles of crazy people who have strange beliefs. It usually does not cause me to change my schedule. But, if I believe that it matters (i.e. if a person believes that he or she may walk down the center of a 4 lain hwy at night in all black), I take action to try to keep this belief from continuing. This is harmful behavior.

My conclusion is that you must see a danger in Christianity. Is it Dangerous for me to believe that God created you and therefore I ought to respect you and love you as my own brother. What are you saving me from?

I agree entirely with the premise you set out here. I would not try to “de-convert” anyone from Christianity (defined broadly) unless I thought those beliefs were harmful to that person or to others. Of course, some Christian beliefs do fall into this category — when Christians encourage intolerance against homosexuals, for example, or when they block scientific and medical research that could save lives — and I think those beliefs are worth argung against on your harm principle.

Most Christians that I know are decent normal everyday people who don’t protest, or file lawsuits. They believe in two basic rules 1. Love God and 2. Love your neighbor. I think that a lot of them find it difficult to believe that others can take such huge offense to this way of life.

They want their kids to enjoy this life too and get miffed (typical lack of faith) when others try to destroy this belief system with unsubstantiated conjecture on what is wrong with believing in God.

I would humbly submit here that you’re engaging in what psychologists call “projection.” As far as I know, atheists aren’t out there with a powerful lobby trying to indoctrinate your kinds into being atheists. But some of your co-religionists — maybe not you — are actively trying to get your religion sponsored by the government and back into public schools.

Your arguments must elevate your feeling of “knowing” the truth. You seem to have such a good handle on the here and now, but what about death. How do you explain away the resurrection of Christ? Takes a lot of historic ‘hoops’ to jump through to deny this. Please don’t think me naive, I know that a man of your intelligence would have no problem coming up with explanations, but have you ever wondered why it is so necessary to your existence to do so?

This is kind of a strange question. I guess the simplest answer is that there was no resurrection to “explain away.” This isn’t jumping through hoops; it’s a question of whether we believe uncritically stories in ancient books that talk about magic. I submit to you that we both apply the same level of skepticism to the miraculous tales of Mohammed, of Odysseus, of Achilles, and so on — it’s just that I also apply that same skepticism to the Bible, while you give it a pass.

I don’t think it is a big deal that you are wanting to convince the world that there is no God. But I do find it curious that many who do this don’t seem to have direction. It is popular to say that reality does not have a point, but why have we started buying that?

It occurs to me that there might be a denial of the fact that belief in God is, indeed, an intelligent alternative to atheism, and that it stands as the antithesis of what it is you are arguing. My problem is that you don’t seem to know, in the end, where your argument leads you.

I’m not sure I understand your point here. I can’t “force” myself to believe in something, even if I wanted to. All I can do is state that I find the arguments for God unconvincing. If I’ve missed something; if there are better ones, please let me know.

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8 Comments »

  1. Most Christians that I know are decent normal everyday people who don’t protest, or file lawsuits. They believe in two basic rules 1. Love God and 2. Love your neighbor.

    The implication being, of course, that we atheists do not love our neighbor because we aren’t Christians. Since when is Christianity the source of this tenet? This commenter completely misses that a belief in a god is completely unnecessary to the Golden Rule, which is hardly of Christian origin. Christianity hijacked the ‘love thy neighbor’ concept, but it didn’t originate with Christianity and can be found many places outside of religion entirely.

    You seem to have such a good handle on the here and now, but what about death.

    A weird and common question from Christians. This is precisely why I call Christianity a ‘death cult’. They are so worried about dying that they forget to live. And living in a manner we would deem ‘good’ out of fear of punishment (hell)/expectation of reward (afterlife) is hardly a noble reason to do so, particularly when there are already excellent reasons to act in such a manner.

    But I do find it curious that many who do this don’t seem to have direction.

    This person’s experience is completely different from mine. Atheists have direction, but it’s just that we don’t all have the same direction. As others have pointed out, getting atheists to move in the same direction is like herding cats.

  2. holyfire23 said,

    “This is precisely why I call Christianity a ‘death cult’. They are so worried about dying that they forget to live.”–Shamelessly Atheist

    Not so. If one truly has faith in God and His promises, they are the only ones who don’t have to worry about death. The Bible says that those who believe in God will have everlasting life. Christians ask the death question not because they are worried about their death, but because they are worried about your death. In my opinion, atheists should fear death more. Even if they don’t believe in hell. If al one does when they die is get eaten by worms, I would live in constant fear of dying before I felt I was finished with life. Now that I know God, I have no fear of these things, because my life will continue forever.

    • Cyn said,

      Even the most diehard christians fear death. Most normal people fear death and do not want to die. The difference is for me that when death comes…that’s it. Nothing else. Do I fear it? Sure, I do, but that’s not how I live my life. I’m going to live my life the best I can because it’s the only one I’ve got. There is no life after death and I”m not going to waste my time sweating over that when I’ve got a life right in front of me. The life I live right now is what I’m going to make the most of and I hope I can leave a better world behind me for my children, grandchildren, and so on.

      The problem I see with Christianity as a whole is that the religion is so focused on the life after death, that what’s forgotten is the life that’s right in front of you. Why worry about the planet and every day problems when there’s life after death? Why worry about making the world better for those that are still living and have yet to live when you know you’re going to live forever? The “soul” takes priority over making the world a better place for those who remain after we die.

      • holyfire23 said,

        Actually you’re wrong. In the Bible, Jesus did many things to make this world a better place. The most important of which was dieing on the cross for my sins and yours. Without that this world might not even be here. We are called to follow Christ’s example. Christianity values life more than any other belief system. If there is no God, then humanity has no purpose. If we came about by chance, life is meaningless. If this is ture, then everything you do to make this world a better place has no meaning. Because there is no ultimate truth. No right or wrong. What you call making the world a better place may be called destroying the earth by someone else. Without God life has no meaning.

        • Cyn said,

          Maybe for you life has no meaning without a god, but it’s rather presumpuous and arrogant to think that it’s the same for everyone.

        • Without God life has no meaning.

          Really? I find my life has a great deal of meaning. I don’t find that being assigned meaning at all something to hope for. I’d far rather decide what the meaning of my own life is.

        • The most important of which was dieing on the cross for my sins and yours. Without that this world might not even be here.

          Only if you ignore the fact that there is no evidence the event ever occurred. Nor is using a human scapegoat a moral act. It promotes not accepting responsibility for one’s actions since, hey, one can always repent and it’s all good no matter what one does, right? The last sentence is a total non sequitur.

          Christianity values life more than any other belief system.

          Is that why good Christians like George Bush signed execution papers on average twice a month when he was governor of Texas? Is that why conservative Christians are more likely than any other group to agree that torture is a valid means of information gathering?

    • You’re not exactly advancing your case…. Your fear of death is palpable – I can feel it from here. Your desperate grasp at a ludicrous hope without any good justification just underscores the death cult stance of your belief. As Mark Twain once said,

      I was dead for millions of years before I was born and it never inconvenienced me a bit.

      Yeah, Christianity is a death cult. I’ll worry about my own death, thank you very much.


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