Sunday, July 3, 2011

Vacation Bible School

I stopped believing in God through skeptical thinking: I found the whole idea of a supernatural entity as preposterous as the ideas of New Age nonsense.  Having recently tried (again) to belong to a church and read the bible and all the rest of it, I just couldn't see any particular reason to be a believer other than wanting to believe.

The Bible's Like a Box of Chocolates
That is apparently enough for many believers.  I doubt that most believers know who William Lane Craig is.  The Catholics I know haven't pursued religious education beyond catechism, or perhaps Catholic high school.  The evangelical Christians I know seem satisfied with psychological comfort.  Other than a few Bible verses that they quote frequently, they don't seem particularly well-versed in what their religion actually teaches. Many of the believers I have encountered have never actually read the Bible cover-to-cover.  If they go to church at all, they let their pastor's pablum suffice for "theology."  One I know insisted that nobody could ever memorize all 150 psalms even though monks have been chanting them from memory since about the Fourth Century (or even earlier).

For most of the history of Christianity, believers were indeed illiterate.  Slaves of the American South were even prohibited from learning to read, but they were Christianized nevertheless.  American education began with "Sunday School," when children were taught a few basics after church in order to learn to read.  After public education took over the task, "Sunday School" became religious education.

Now there is also "vacation bible school," a week when parents send their children off to be indoctrinated in order to get a break from them during the long hot summer.  Around here, they have bought the "Pandamania" system.  You see a child wearing panda ears and you know they're Christian.  Forget crosses and forehead smudges, yes, it is now panda ears that mark your children for Christ.  Here's the curriculum:

Day 1
Bible Point: God made you.
Bible Story: God creates the world. (Genesis 1)
Bible Verse: "Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!" (Psalm 139:14)

i.e., Creationism 101. You are complex, therefore Goddidit.  Everything else is complex too, uhhhh.  Let's sing a song!

Day 2
Bible Point: God listens to you.
Bible Story: Elijah confronts the prophets of Baal. (1 Kings 18:16-39)
Bible Verse: "You know what I am going to say even before I say it, Lord." (Psalm 139:4)

i.e., God listens to you say what he pre-ordained you would say.  So do you really have to say it?  Why does he pre-ordain it anyway?  And if blasphemy is a sin, then he knows you're going to say it and doesn't prevent you from saying it so you go to Hell and he has pre-ordained it.  uhh.... Let's sing a song and make bamboo crafts!

Day 3
Bible Point: God watches over you.
Bible Story: Jonah tries to escape from God. (Jonah 1-3)
Bible Verse: "Even in darkness I cannot hide from you." (Psalm 139:12)

Leave your happy bits alone. God can see what you're doing under your sheets.  Let's sing a happy song!  Wheee

Day 4
Bible Point: God loves you, no matter what.
Bible Story: Jesus dies and comes back to life. (Luke 23:1-24:12)
Bible Verse: "Lead me along the path of everlasting life." (Psalm 139:24)

So God knew in advance you'd eventually say or think something damnable, then he decided to make his good son suffer in your place.  So go ahead and sin all you want because God loves you!  Let's sing a happy song and pretend we're hungry pandas in a bamboo forest!


Day 5
Bible Point: God gives good gifts.
Bible Story: God gives Hannah a baby. (1 Samuel1:1-2:11)
Bible Verse: "You place your hand of blessing on my head." (Psalm 139:5)

Remember, kids... when you grow up you must procreate, and if you put your happy bits together with someone else's happy bits and someone winds up pregnant, you must have that baby even if it's the result of rape or incest, or is deformed or or will force you into poverty or will kill you.  Because babies are gifts.  God puts babies on your head.  uhhh  Let's put on panda ears and sing a happy song!

What does a panda have to do with any of this? It's a distraction. It keeps the children from thinking too hard about what they're being told. This quote from a review is very telling:

On our last day, we had a parent come for the first time. She cried during the entire program because of the presence of God's love and the love that was expressed for all the children especially her two daughters. This was truly a God sighting.

The other reviews mention how great the songs are, or they talk about the crafts.  They don't say anything about the theology of what they're supposedly teaching these kids.  They don't say anything about the Bible. They might as well be hari krishnas.

56 comments:

cl said...

Huh. Aside from a salient aside or two, this entire post pretty much reduces to mockery. Not that I'm surprised, because I have yet to find a cogent argument against Christianity on this blog. Although, I've only been lurking and commenting for about a month now. Do you actually have any cogent arguments for your positions?

"I stopped believing in God through skeptical thinking: I found the whole idea of a supernatural entity as preposterous as the ideas of New Age nonsense."

Of course, in and of itself, that's a position sustained only by incredulity.

"The evangelical Christians I know seem satisfied with psychological comfort."

You can count me out of that group. To me, permanent nothingness is much more psychologically comforting than an omniscient, omnipotent God to which I am held accountable. This is why I called you on your assumption that I *want* to believe. Belief actually scares me more than non-belief.

"Many of the believers I have encountered have never actually read the Bible cover-to-cover."

I've read the Bible cover-to-cover, more than one time.

"The other reviews mention how great the songs are, or they talk about the crafts. They don't say anything about the theology of what they're supposedly teaching these kids. They don't say anything about the Bible. They might as well be hari krishnas."

I would agree with you that modern, mainstream Christianity has watered down the message, in some cases to the point of irrelevancy, as you seem to allude to here. Of course, the failings of Christian culture have no bearing on the truth of the Bible.

Nameless Cynic said...

cl:
Wow. Still full of yourself, aren't you?

Aside from a salient aside or two, this entire post pretty much reduces to mockery.
After a while, that's all there is. There is no logical argument that can sway the "true believer."

You can point out that the Bible supports slavery (literally supports and condones), and suggests that an all-knowing God might have considered putting in a Commandment or two about "thou shalt not buy, sell or own other people," and the answer is a wishy-washy "Well, that's just the way it was back then."

Which is crap, but the blind believer apparently thinks that their all-powerful god, creator of heaven and earth, had to compromise on issues of morality. Unless it happens to be an issue like a woman's right to chose, of course - which ISN'T mentioned in the bible, but there you are.

The mental gymnastics performed by the christian to excuse their idiotic belief system are... well, unbelievable, frankly.

So, if a logical argument is a waste of time, what are you left with?

Point and laugh, baby. Point and laugh.

cl said...

Nameless Cynic,

Yeah, criticizing LA's post means I'm so full of myself.

There is no logical argument that can sway the "true believer."

Do you have a logical argument? So far it seems like you just enjoy lobbing potshots from the sidelines.

Nameless Cynic said...

Damn, LA, you pick up the cutest stalkers, don't you?

Giddy here is one of the most common ones - he's got nothing but insults. Doesn't even try to argue, just snipes. And I especially like the implied threat in the helmet and the aggressive tone. It's adorable.

Especially since back at home, he's just posted an unintentional comedy bit about how Noah was real.

Ignoring the waste disposal issues, or fitting all the animals into the ark by saying "Man wasn't as spread out, nor were the animal species, in those early days. There were no vast stretches of ocean separating continents to traverse."

And penguins were... um... they evolved?

No, no, wait. That can't be it. Evolution is obviously wrong, because... because... well... JESUS!

Yeah, fun crowd.

cl said...

Ah, I guess the theists who comment here are "stalkers," but the atheists who comment here are apparently not? Seems odd.

At any rate, did you have a logical argument? Or, are you content to reinforce your attitude of superiority by simply mocking Gideon and/or anyone else who doesn't toe the party lines?

Gideon said...

And, here's Brainless Cynic, our resident "anonymous"/troll-guy, with 21 years peeling potatoes for the military, favorite bum-boy of the camp cook, but saw every Rambo film, qualifying him as some kind of significant hero in his mind.

Don't strain that already underdeveloped mass of gelatin you call a brain, son, the Flood account tends to tax those not used to thinking beyond which area might need scratching next. It's quite logical, really, but then something of that caliber wouldn't be a subject for a blog like this one, right?

Now, contact your local VA and get them to renew your prescription of Thorazine you fraudulently obtained by lying about your 'military service' actually having anything to do with defending your country... in reality, 'servicing' the cook and staff out back of the QM stores. Flashbacks of putrid foreskins dancing in the moonlight, overshadowed by a portrait of "Dubya" standing over dead soldiers, grinning like a satiated chimp, doesn't qualify one for the potent medications Big Pharma mass-produces, these days.

LA... is that a picture of your first suitor, there, on your post?

LadyAtheist said...

Gideon's comments go right to the "Spam" folder without being read, so I don't know why he bothers.

*lol* @ Noah. He's not even close to convincing me that Christianity is real, true, and worthwhile. Quite the opposite.

cl is close on his heals that way.

Let's see your positive proof that there is anything supernatural in the world and then you can start telling me you know something about God.

The Bible is a concoction of folk tales, history, propaganda, and philosophy. There's nothing in it that compels belief unless the person reading it has already decided to believe, and even then it's a tough sell.

cl said...

"Let's see your positive proof that there is anything supernatural in the world and then you can start telling me you know something about God."

As if I want to play the dictionary game you ostensibly decry elsewhere. Think about it. If you don't see the problem here, go ahead and explain -- precisely -- what you mean by "supernatural." I triple dog dare you!

"The Bible is a concoction of folk tales, history, propaganda, and philosophy. There's nothing in it that compels belief unless the person reading it has already decided to believe, and even then it's a tough sell."

Here, let me fix that for you:

"I believe the Bible is a concoction of folk tales, history, propaganda, and philosophy. There's nothing in it that compelled me to believe..."

That's clearly what you meant, and we're right back to subjective opinions there, aren't we?

LadyAtheist said...

Actually, Biblical scholars have written as much after doing the hard work of textual criticism and archaeological research. I don't have time to personally learn ancient Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek and then compare the entire texts of all the known early sources word for word, but I trust the peer review process & the research that has resulted.

cl said...

"Actually, Biblical scholars have written as much after doing the hard work of textual criticism and archaeological research."

Ah, yes, that's one way to make your case... simply point to a bunch of unnamed scholars and then rely on an argument from authority.

How rational! How logical! If only the rest of us dumb theists could see the light [yuck, yuck].

Really?

Infidel753 said...

i.e., God listens to you say what he pre-ordained you would say. So do you really have to say it?

This has always struck me as an example of the illogic of prayer. If an omniscient deity existed, he would know what you want, and how badly you want it, and whether or not you deserve to get it. So why bother asking?

One I know insisted that nobody could ever memorize all 150 psalms even though monks have been chanting them from memory since about the Fourth Century (or even earlier).

A common error among literate modern people, who don't need to rely on memory much since everything important is written down. Anthropologists are often astonished at the memory feats of primitive people who have no writing and depend on memory to preserve the whole history and knowledge of the group. This is often expressed in poetic form because that makes it easier to memorize. If illiterate nomads can memorize epic poems with tens of thousands of lines, medieval Christians could certainly memorize the Psalms.

Aside from a salient aside or two, this entire post pretty much reduces to mockery.

Pointing out massive logical flaws may or may not constitute "mockery", but it's a perfectly valid critique.

cl said...

"Pointing out massive logical flaws may or may not constitute "mockery", but it's a perfectly valid critique."

Pointing out "massive logical flaws" most certainly is valid critique. The problem is, nobody here besides myself is pointing out any logical flaws, let alone massive ones. I'm sure you'll be tempted to scoff and react like, "Pshht... you haven't pointed out any logical flaws, cl." Think again. Look at LA's opening paragraph, and tell me she isn't walking with open arms to the fallacy of incredulity.

Seriously. Reread her post if you don't believe me. She doesn't expose any logical flaws [outside of her own, that is]. It's simply a "point and laugh" type of thing.

Nameless Cynic said...

See? Isn't Gideon cute? He's got nothing but insults, but really wants you to think he's important and dangerous. It's like having an attack chihuahua.

Yeah, it was somebody like him who made me go to "approval only" - never had an argument, insulted everybody else in the place. I don't mind disagreement, but stupidity ends up in the trash can where it belongs.

CL: at least you want to look like you have an active brain cell. You fail, but you try.

Now, if you can explain why we should believe books written, at best estimate, decades after the fact (and there are no actual fragments that aren't a century older), that would be awesome.

I mean, I read Lord of the Rings, and I know that Gandalf the Grey was pulled into Hell and died, and came back as Gandalf the White to save us from our sins. And our rings.

I don't understand why you deny His Wizardly Eminence.

cl said...

Ah, the irony:

"See? Isn't Gideon cute? He's got nothing but insults..."

...then...

"CL: at least you want to look like you have an active brain cell. You fail, but you try."

Seriously. Make a real argument, or shut your mocking mouth. Or, keep flapping your jaw. Makes no difference to me, but I'll be paying attention in the event you actually *do* have something salient to add.

LadyAtheist said...

oops, sorry, I moved his "comments" to the Spam folder.

I'd like an exegesis of how a panda has any theological basis for vacation bible school. I'd welcome such an exegesis from a Christian.

"John" said that God loved the world, not the individuals, and then he turned around and claimed God wouldn't forgive some of them.

So this love-bombing that Christians seem to do in all their events really smacks of cult techniques. They know exactly what they're doing. They're not having kids learn William Lane Craig or whatever goofy theology Gideon espouses. It's just love-bombing and it's really creepy.

If Gideon has been to such events and has an explanation of how it's not cultish love-bombing or how pandas figure into Middle Eastern theology, I'd leave it published and not send it to the Spam folder.

Never Was An Arrow II said...

BOY, am I ever glad the Catholic Church doesn't have Vacation Bible School.

'Course, ever since Luther, Protestants and Evangelicals have been more comfortable having a relationship with a book, than with the living God.

Just so the kiddies don't walk away empty-handed, here's Catholic Peter Kreeft giving a talk, to Third Presbyterian Church:

http://www.peterkreeft.com/audio/16_cslewis-till-we-have-faces.htm

Most of you won't follow up with the link—but some might. As always, it's the few, and not the many, we are looking for…

Mike D said...

This post comports nicely with the recent Gallup survey that showed that on the average, atheists know more about Christianity than Christians do.

I really don't think most Christians care about theology. Most of them don't have the slightest clue what theodicy is, what the various apologetic arguments and their counter-arguments are, or even what the Bible actually says about a great many things (my parents were incredulous at the notion that the Bible explicitly condones slavery, until I showed them the scriptures). There's a lot of singing and dancing and community and good feelings and confirmation bias, but not a lot of thinking.

Mike D said...

I meant Pew. Not Gallup.

http://pewforum.org/U-S-Religious-Knowledge-Survey-Who-Knows-What-About-Religion.aspx

cl said...

Lady Atheist,

"I'd like an exegesis of how a panda has any theological basis for vacation bible school. I'd welcome such an exegesis from a Christian."

Well, I already said I thought it was lame, so... not sure what you're getting at there. I do think it's a bit unfortunate that you focus on Gideon to the neglect of the issues at hand, but hey... it's your blog, do what thou wilt.

Mike D,

"This post comports nicely with the recent Gallup survey that showed that on the average, atheists know more about Christianity than Christians do."

Uh, I'm familiar with the survey, and nowhere therein did I find a statement that comports with yours. From the link:

Overall Knowledge of the Bible

Overall, Mormons score best on these items, answering an average of 5.7 of the seven Bible questions correctly. White evangelical Protestants get about five of the seven Bible items right (5.1), while atheists and agnostics (4.4), black Protestants (4.4) and Jews (4.3) answer more than four of these questions correctly.


Does any of that reduce to "atheists know more about Christianity than Christians?" I think not. In addition, look at the "Elements of Christianity" section, specifically, the knowledge percentile. Note that in the specific context of Christianity, atheists / agnostics are at the very bottom of the knowledge percentile.

So, may I ask, where are you getting your facts from? I see four options here: 1) You're purposely distorting the survey in order to bolster your own preference; 2) You read only until you found what you needed to confirm your own bias; 3) You either couldn't or didn't give the survey a fair reading for whatever reason; or, 4) I've completely overlooked part of the survey myself.

So which is it?

Mike D said...

Cl,

On "Knowledge of Christianity", atheists/agnostics scored better than all Christian denominations except for white evangelicals. On the Bible, they scored higher than all Christian denominations except for white evangelicals (again) and "Protestants". Toss Mormons in there if you consider them a Christian denomination.

This means that on the average, atheists and agnostics are more knowledgeable about these subjects than most Christians.

And when it comes to the finally tally for religion as a whole, atheists have the highest overall average of any religious group, with 20.9 correct out of 32.

Nameless Cynic said...

CL:
Wow, that is awesome!! You had to scroll right past that second sidebar that showed atheists scoring above everybody else, and keep going, way down, twice as far as... well, as that same table, to get to that quote.

How awe-inspiring is that? You are either so amazingly brainwashed that you can't see that your hand was cut off until you try to scratch your balls (you know, surreptitiously, because you shouldn't touch that...), or you are just such an incredible liar that you don't even flinch when you're caught at it.

You are just amazing. I'd like to shake your hand. (You know, the one you have left. And only after you wash it. But still...)

Gideon said...

Mike D-Bullshitter, if you had HALF the knowledge I have about the Bible, you'd BE a Christian, fool. You know nothing... but, thanks for confirming that you're religious:

"... atheists have the highest overall average of any religious group..."

And, the Bible condones NOTHING that people and cultures developed on their own, rather; God simply worked with the material He had. Slavery had been so ingrained in the minds of the heathen and Hebrews, (the latter whom learned it from the infidels) to remove it forcibly would have meant annihilating everyone concerned. God's purpose is to salvage as many as He can. And, slavery wasn't so bad when God's laws and counsels were observed. You think you're not a fucking slave to the global elite, now? To your government? Try speaking against it or defying it's authority!

Unlike lying infidel publications, the Bible records the mistakes His people made along with the victories. You'd never get that kind of candor from an infidel, as this blog is so typical of.

Brainless (and dickless) Cynic... what chickenshit boyscout laundry detail did you pull for "21 years", boy? I'm thinking the only thing you've pulled that long is your wire.

Nameless Cynic said...

Giddy:
Aw, look at you! You are so cute! If it helps you, the "chickenshit boyscout laundry detail" I pulled for 21 years was mostly (or at least for 15 years of it) guarding our nuclear weapons.

But I would guess that's too worldly for you, huh? Let's move on to your fascinating views on... well, on anything, really.

And, the Bible condones NOTHING that people and cultures developed on their own, rather; God simply worked with the material He had. Slavery had been so ingrained in the minds of the heathen and Hebrews, (the latter whom learned it from the infidels) to remove it forcibly would have meant annihilating everyone concerned.

So, what you're saying is that God created man with the urge to own other people. God couldn't stop this in His people, and He couldn't be bothered to suggest that it might be a bad idea? Really?

I've got to say, you have a fascinating definition of the term "omnipotent." He can do anything, except change people's minds? Really? And saying "don't do that" was beyond Him?

Wow. Gotta say, your god is kind of a pussy.

Avicenna said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Avicenna said...

The cogent argument for all faith applies to Christianity. There is no evidence of a god, the onus of proof is on the believer not the people who do not believe in him.

The lack of belief in a god is not an incredulous position. If I stated that I had a cure for AIDS and refused to tell anyone or treat anyone you would be allowed to call me a liar. Likewise there is no evidence for any god. Be it yours or Shiva. The very arguments you use to deny the faiths of muslims, jews, hindus, buddhists, jains, Sikhs and others is the same argument I apply to you. There is no evidence for your beliefs none at all and we as a species didn't arrive to this lofty height by believing stuff without proof.

What you believe in is no different from the bogeyman, a psychological watchdog to ensure you behave according to rules determined by people 2000 years ago.

And who says we are not beholding to anyone? We are beholding to real tangible people. Atheists do know that their actions have real consequences for others and that the best way to live your life is to be mindful of the actual consequence of your actions.

Modern christianity has watered down the message with good reason. 2000 year old books tend to be kind of stupid. For pity sake's I have given sight to the blind! I have healed more than one leper!

To realise how incredibly powerful we are consider that I am talking to you from across the globe on a device made out of glass, sand, metal and plastic using tamed lightning. And that should I wish I can fly through the sky faster than any bird in a device heavier than air powered by exploding the remains of dead monsters that lived millions of years ago.

What the failing of religion here is that your god is utterly tiny and insignificant. The world itself is bigger than your god. The entire galaxy is so huge and filled with things that your god is just nothing. The universe is a monsterously huge place. And we live on a dot in it. There is more wonder in a single bacteria than in the entire bible.

I suggest you pick up one of our "bibles". See some real wonder.

Are you familiar with Superman? The comic book hero? Everyone knows the phrase "faster than a speeding bullet, stronger than a locomotive, can jump tall buildings with a single bound". Yet everyone these days knows superman can fly and is strong enough to move planets and is fast enough to fly across the solar system...

See superman like god started off with a bunch of set powers. The thing is humans kept exceeding him. How can superman be super when any damn fool can fly in a plane? How can superman be powerful when we invented the nuclear bomb? How can superman be fast when we ourselves exceeded the speed of a bullet? We gave him new powers so that he remained "Super" rather than just "really powerful".

It's the same way with the Abrahamic god. Various hints exist such as his struggle against Iron Chariots (judges) and him physically fighting other gods in the old testament rather than them not existing. For this you have catholic theology to blame. They set the power level of God at "omnipotent, omniprescent and omnibenevolent".

LadyAtheist said...

Funny how both cl & gideon put our names in bold. I wonder how many other things they have in common

LadyAtheist said...

And, the Bible condones NOTHING that people and cultures developed on their own, rather; God simply worked with the material He had. Slavery had been so ingrained in the minds of the heathen and Hebrews, (the latter whom learned it from the infidels) to remove it forcibly would have meant annihilating everyone concerned.

So god isn't really omnipotent, since he couldn't stop people from enslaving each other. And if god "worked with what he had" that implies that god was invented after slavery had become ingrained.

Annihilating everyone concerned was one of his favorite solutions to behavior he didn't approve of. Genocide was in his toolbox, and he wasn't afraid to use it, so we must conclude that slavery didn't offend him or else he would have sent a flood or plague or simply just annihilated the perpetrators. He didn't, ergo he approved.

Avicenna said...

@Gideon

Lying Infidel publications? Oh you mean like all those Hindus whose religion is much older than yours. Just remember, the way you reject their gods is the way we reject yours.

What lies? Atheism stands on the simplest of premises. That there is no proof bar the wishful thinking of adherents and the misrepresentation of natural phenomena and statistics.

We may lie, but what I say here is complete truth. Your belief in a god is no different to that of the "infidels". While we may not read your bible as diligently as you do we do read other books. To us it's a pointless exercise. There is nothing it can teach us. We have exceeded it's understanding. We exceeded it's understanding long ago if not for the applied theology of the middle ages we would have realised how much religion was holding human progress back.

Gideon said...

As I said... (before LA deleted me, as she always does, being the great example of infidel courage she is!)...

LOL!

Brainless... you can't even guard your big mouth, nobody in their right mind would put you anywhere near weapons or moving machinery, for that matter, boy! Quit lying and tell us what you really did. Let me guess... forked manure at some redneck hog farm? Cleaned out monkey cages (you'd identify with those!) at the zoo, maybe caught some action with some of the older, slower, stupider ones when the keeper wasn't looking? Am I getting warm?

Oh, and dickless? I think I explained rather succinctly that God created man with free will... which meant that man could choose to disobey and suffer the consequences. (Yes, I know... your pointy head's starting to hurt, but, TRY and follow) Man came up with slavery all on his own, not a difficult thing for a sinful, self-centered being.

Anti-theists, to a man, all think in literal terms. They can't train their 'minds' to entertain concepts. Because God in the Bible doesn't explicitly say: "Thou shalt not have a slave, because, several thousand years from now, a stunningly moronic infidel named Brainless Cynic, might misinterpret what you smarter people know from knowing me and my law, because it's not spelled out for him. The problems and circumstances surrounding keeping slaves won't be obvious to someone that spent 21 years cleaning latrines and peeling spuds in the Scouts."

In your candy-assed world, Brainless, there is no free choice. You go with the status quo or else. People with no backbone like yourself are always "going with the flow", being too gutless to stand on their own beliefs. Your god, Satan, doesn't allow free choice, pusscake, which is why you drop and give head to him every day of your life.

A weenie like you would have cut and run at the first glare of a Pharisee's eye. Christ endured the cross so wastes of skin like you could mock your stupid faces off, yet still find redemption if you chose. You won't, though. I know from experience, having dealt with hundreds of drones like you, over the years. This is the only life you'll ever have, the funny part being that you're the one condemning yourself and you're too stupid to see it!

Yes, God is omnipotent. However, where free choice is concerned, even God is constrained to let a moron be a moron... for a time, anyway. So, enjoy it while it lasts, son, your reward's coming to you! Ironic, too, you'll get the very thing that you wish for in your Darwinian religion... death, with no hope of ever living again!

Happy?

Gideon said...

Avicenna... (notice, no bold type!) I see you're new at this, however, there's no point in debating you, here, at Deletion Central. Here, infidels gather to perform unintellectual fellatio upon one another. It isn't a forum interested at getting to the truth of matters.

We'll find another way.

Avicenna said...

Well to be fair you are awfully rude at insulting people. Debating you elsewhere would be pointless since you would merely insult me there.

If you wish you can post on my blog but frankly no one really reads that.

Or you know... You can be a lot nicer and not be such a dick despite our "unintellectual fellatio".

Rob Crompton said...

Elijah and the prophets of Baal - great story for kids, that one. Especially if you let them read the whole of it. Like the bit where Elijah the prophet of Yahweh murders the folk who worship the wrong god.

Actually, it's a rattling good story and it would make a great film. But it isn't easy to work out who the good guys are. Come to think of it, maybe that's why it would be a good story for kids - get them to say afterwards what they think anyone did wrong. :)

LadyAtheist said...

I'm going to have to put Gideon back into the Spam folder. There's just no value in his posts.

LadyAtheist said...

Rob, kind of makes me want to be a fly on the wall of that lesson!

cl said...

Mike D,

"And when it comes to the finally tally for religion as a whole, atheists have the highest overall average of any religious group, with 20.9 correct out of 32."

That is correct, and was never being disputed. Your original claim was,

"...on the average, atheists know more about Christianity than Christians do."

Yet, white evangelicals scored better in both Bible and Christianity than atheists, which is why your claim was misleading. On the average, white evangelicals and Mormons seem to know more about Christianity than atheists. I suppose that's the thing with statistics: you look at it one way and see one thing, you look at it another and see another. At least now I know what you meant, and can say that there was no distortion on your part. I've been yearning for an intelligent discussion at this blog. If you have any questions or criticisms, feel free. If not, no big deal, enjoy the day.

Nameless Cynic,

"Wow, that is awesome!! You had to scroll right past that second sidebar that showed atheists scoring above everybody else, and keep going, way down, twice as far as... well, as that same table, to get to that quote."

Atheists scored above everybody else on all components of the test, smart-guy. That was never being disputed.

Avicenna,

"The cogent argument for all faith applies to Christianity. There is no evidence of a god, the onus of proof is on the believer not the people who do not believe in him."

That you assert no evidence for God is not a cogent argument against God's existence.

"The lack of belief in a god is not an incredulous position."

I didn't say it was. I said LA's opening remark was a position sustained only by incredulity.

"The very arguments you use to deny the faiths of muslims, jews, hindus, buddhists, jains, Sikhs and others is the same argument I apply to you."

Apparently you assume I reject those faiths categorically. What a disastrous assumption on your part.

The rest of your comment reduces to rhetoric, but I will say one more thing. You told Gideon,

"Well to be fair you are awfully rude at insulting people. Debating you elsewhere would be pointless since you would merely insult me there."

Yet, you're just as insulting. Read your first comment on this thread. Surely what's good for the goose is also good for the gander, no?

Lady Atheist,

"I'm going to have to put Gideon back into the Spam folder. There's just no value in his posts."

Yeah censorship! I just don't get it. All your cronies are allowed to blurt out whatever insult they want, yet if Gideon or others criticize or insult you, you delete their comments. What kind of standard is that?

cl said...

Really? Are you deleting my comments now, too? Or did I just encounter some sort of Blogger glitch? 2nd try:

Mike D,

"And when it comes to the finally tally for religion as a whole, atheists have the highest overall average of any religious group, with 20.9 correct out of 32."

That is correct, and was never being disputed. Your original claim was,

"...on the average, atheists know more about Christianity than Christians do."

Yet, white evangelicals scored better in both Bible and Christianity than atheists, which is why your claim was misleading. I suppose that's the thing with statistics: you look at it one way and see one thing, you look at it another and see another.

Nameless Cynic,

"Wow, that is awesome!! You had to scroll right past that second sidebar that showed atheists scoring above everybody else, and keep going, way down, twice as far as... well, as that same table, to get to that quote."

Atheists scored above everybody else on all components of the test, smart-guy. That was never being disputed.

Avicenna,

"The cogent argument for all faith applies to Christianity. There is no evidence of a god, the onus of proof is on the believer not the people who do not believe in him."

That you assert no evidence for God is not a cogent argument against God's existence.

"The lack of belief in a god is not an incredulous position."

I didn't say it was. I said LA's opening remark was a position sustained only by incredulity.

"The very arguments you use to deny the faiths of muslims, jews, hindus, buddhists, jains, Sikhs and others is the same argument I apply to you."

Apparently you assume I reject those faiths categorically. What a disastrous assumption on your part.

The rest of your comment reduces to rhetoric, but I will say one more thing. You told Gideon,

"Well to be fair you are awfully rude at insulting people. Debating you elsewhere would be pointless since you would merely insult me there."

Yet, you're just as insulting. Read your first comment on this thread. Surely what's good for the goose is also good for the gander, no?

Lady Atheist,

"I'm going to have to put Gideon back into the Spam folder. There's just no value in his posts."

Yeah censorship! I just don't get it. All your cronies are allowed to blurt out whatever insult they want, yet if Gideon or others criticize or insult you, you delete their comments. What kind of standard is that?


"On "Knowledge of Christianity", atheists/agnostics scored better than all Christian denominations except for white evangelicals."

So then, that would mean that on average, white evangelical Christians know more about Christianity that atheists.

LadyAtheist said...

cl, one of your comments wound up in the Spam folder. Blogger must have detected similarities to Gideon's posts. Try to differentiate yourself from him more clearly by not resorting to ad homs or frothing at the mouth and it shouldn't happen again.

cl said...

Mike D,

I save my comments because I'm all too familiar with LA's censorship tendencies, but the last comment I posted wasn't the most recent version. Particularly, in my response to you, I'd added something along the lines of, "At least now I see what you meant by what you wrote, and there isn't any distortion, it was just a bit misleading. At any rate, I've been yearning for intelligent dialog on this blog for some time now, so if you have any questions or criticisms for me, feel free. If not, enjoy the day."

I'm of the opinion that there's something to be said for cordiality. Surely you'll notice I speak brashly to certain posters here, but it's not without good reason, and I generally don't stoop to the level of personal insults and name-calling.

Lady Atheist,

"Try to differentiate yourself from him more clearly by not resorting to ad homs or frothing at the mouth and it shouldn't happen again."

Ha-ha, very funny, not to mention ironic, coming from someone who feels fit to call people of differing beliefs "nutters" and all sorts of other unsavory names. So tolerant! I might speak brashly, I do not resort to ad hominem arguments, so once again, it seems you're just making stuff up.

Look, why don't you just skip all the drama and actually engage the points that have been made? I'm beginning to think this is just a distraction for lack of substance. Prove me wrong.

cl said...

Well, rereading, I see I need to eat some humble pie. I told Mike D,

In addition, look at the "Elements of Christianity" section, specifically, the knowledge percentile. Note that in the specific context of Christianity, atheists / agnostics are at the very bottom of the knowledge percentile.

That was incorrect. The correct statement would have been, "Atheists are not at the top of the knowledge percentile." So I was wrong about that.

At any rate, this doesn't change any of my central claims in the thread, specifically:

1) To stop believing simply because one finds a position "preposterous" is to sustain one's position with incredulity, hence fallacious;

2) No logical flaws have been pointed out in this thread, let alone any "massive" ones;

3) It is hypocritical to delete Gideon's insults -- as well as thoughtful criticisms from other posters -- while allowing atheists to make insults and thoughtless criticisms;

4) Lady Atheist is playing a dictionary definition game, and possibly stacking the deck, when she says, "Let's see your positive proof that there is anything supernatural in the world and then you can start telling me you know something about God;"

5) Atheists who voice their opinion that there is no evidence for God are not making cogent arguments, but simply expressing an opinion.

So there you have it. There are five claims that an actually intelligent discussion might ensue. Ball's in your court, atheists, and I've already proven my ability to concede error, so the whole "there's no logical argument that could convince a Christian they're wrong" trope need not be entertained.

Avicenna said...

1. No, most of us stop believing in whatever faith due to scepticism. Most of us have analysed religion and found it to be lacking in evidence for it's claims. To believe in such a faulty premise is a flaw.

2. That nearly 90% of people across the world believe in a creator despite there being ABSOLUTELY no concrete evidence for one is a logical flaw. That we genuinely believe in a being who possesses abilities that break the boundaries of physics and reality (AKA Magic).

3. I have agreed to debate Gideon on his own blog and he did show up on mine to insult me about it.

4. The entire world works by proof. Simply declaring the possession of something fantastic is not an acceptable stance. Proof is necessary. The fantastic stance in this case is the presence of a personal and knowable god who routinely interferes in our lives with his magic and he requires belief or will punish you. He also is possessing a varying set of super powers depending on which particular brand of religion you follow. By your logic, you cannot disprove the non existence of a penguin carrying a laser gun in space.

5. It's not an opinion. There is no empirical evidence for a god. Personal experience is bogus without any empirical evidence to back it up. For instance I can discuss Dengue fever using personal experience because Dengue Fever is a real disease and can be empirically proved to exist. I cannot state my experience with "god" because there is no empirical proof. It's like an alien abduction club for all we know.

And remember you reject other gods existences. Your faith is no different from that of the scientologists.

Gideon said...

"I have agreed to debate Gideon on his own blog and he did show up on mine to insult me about it."

And, just WHERE did I insult you on your blog... by expressing my doubts I'd get a reasonable debate from you, given your association with this blog's host? Hardly an insult, more like an educated observation!

Well, whether you choose to debate me or not, I'll be posting something rebutting your post. However, like you, I have a life, too, and I'll get to it whenever it's convenient for me.

Anon E. said...

This post was pretty cynical with its assumptions. I don't think many Christians are christians simply for "psychological comfort," because in fact, many Chrsitians, if not most (real Christians) enter an emotional and psychological roller coaster when choosing to openly follow Jesus in this society, especially with all the highs and lows of life.

LadyAtheist said...

I don't think so. The Christians I know 1) didn't "enter" Christianity - they inherited it and 2) when challenged about their beliefs they frequently resort to psychological claims and 3) from the feel-good pablum my Christian friends love to spew I don't think they experience a lot of roller coaster dips. They have the problem of "evil" sewn up with God's mysterious ways and wanting babies to be with him in Heaven, etc.

The love-bombing cultish stuff like in the post here sends them on a high but other than coming back to their RL after their love-bomb I don't think they experience real lows.

Mike D said...

LadyAtheist,

You might check out anthropologist Pascal Boyer's excellent book Religion Explained. He talks a lot about the misconceptions we have about the reasons for religion's existence. Comfort would seem like an obvious one, until you consider all the self-imposed guilt, threats from demonic forces, temptations, etc. etc. In Boyer's words, "If religion allays anxiety, it cures only a small part of the disease it creates."


To all,

I've been blogging for a long time now, and if there's one thing I've learned in all the debates/discussions I've had it's that there's only one way to get sucked into insult-laden arguments instead of reasoned discussions, and that's allowing yourself to do so. Sometimes people throw outright insults, and those people can be ignored and/or banned, regardless of what else they might have to say (we can disagree without being disagreeable). Others are more subtle, where they'll make a mostly cogent argument but lace it with a few digs for good measure. It's always really tempting to salvage one's ego by throwing in digs of your own when you respond. Don't sink to that level, and they won't have a reason to keep at it.

Mike D said...

Btw, LadyAtheist... go for Disqus. The Blogger system is horrible. In Disqus you can ban people's IP addresses with a couple of clicks. I got spam all the time from Dave Mabus or whatever his name was. No troubles with him at all since I got Disqus.

Anon E. said...

Interesting, because I know many many young Christians with some pretty heavy issues and I don't think their faith is simply providing psychological comfort. There's more to it. The Bible is full of people who reached all time lows and still cling to Jesus and God. Just read Psalms and Jeremiah for examples. Since the beginning, Christianity has been about leaving psychological comfort. Jesus, before dying, went through tremendous psychological distress, praying so hard the night before he died, he bled. and Paul after him, left his posh lifestyle only to be persecuted and killed along with the other disciples and many other early Christians. So, yeah, disagree that people turn to Christianity for the psychological comfort.

Anon E. said...

perhaps more people, weaker in faith, leave Christianity for the lack of psychological comfort they think it's supposed to be all about.

ex-minister1 said...

Lady Atheist wrote: "Having recently tried (again) to belong to a church and read the bible and all the rest of it, I just couldn't see any particular reason to be a believer other than wanting to believe."

I want to hear more about this. Why did you recent feel a need to try again? What is behind that?

LadyAtheist said...

I should have been more explicit. At the time I became an atheist I had recently made yet another attempt to be a believer.

At the same time, some of my friends were into New Age stuff, and one of my friends almost died from taking tainted "all natural" something or another. She was finally diagnosed and treated at the National Institutes of Health -- by scientists! - and then told me "My psychic was right! She told me I had a parasite and I did!"

Intestinal bacteria are parasites so I couldn't help rolling my eyes. I liked a lot of the New Age stuff in theory but I was skeptical of it.

About the same time, I stumbled upon a book edited by Martin Gardiner titled "Not Necessarily the New Age." That was my introduction to skeptical thinking.

Soon after that I was sitting in church and caught myself rolling my eyes at something that had just been read. It had to do with there being a supernatural being called "God." I realized I had barely tolerated the actual service to get to the fabulous organ recital after the service. When I quizzed myself on how many of the supernatural claims I really believed, I realized I didn't believe any of them and hadn't for a long time. Some of them I really never believed, even as a child, but I went along with the cultural mainstream and my family tradition.

LadyAtheist said...

oops got the editor of that book wrong. Martin Gardner made a real impression on me but I don't remember why. It was a long time ago.

ex-minister1 said...

ah. got you.
Music in churches can be wonderful. I heard Widor Toccata in a large church one time years ago and it an incredible moment. I get goose bumps thinking about it. Today I would only go to a church for the music but it would have to be like Notre Dame or the National Cathedral.

LadyAtheist said...

Yep, they know what they're doing when they hire good musicians & install great organs.

The church I grew up in hired an organ professor from Oberlin and he was FANTASTIC. He was a really good improvisor as well as all around performer. He played the Widor Toccata every Easter. He probably got tired of it but none of us did. A lot of non-members came to our church just to hear him play. When I got older I looked up his creds and he was an expert in French music. That must explain why the Widor never sounds "right" to me. I want to hear his version (plus, as a choir member, I sat right in front of some of the pipes!)

Nameless Cynic said...

Aw, Giddy. Here. Let me help you out with that whole "God doesn't like slavery, but felt He had to let it exist" theory of yours.

See, "man came up with slavery all on his own" sounds great. But instead of saying "Don't do slaves," God came up with all kinds of fascinating rules about it.

So where does that put God on this? Well, God loves Him some slavery, both New and Old Testament.

(Because I know you'll have problems with "thee" and "thou", I'll go with the New Living Translation, even though I'm a KJV guy, m'self)

Are slaves livestock?

However, you may purchase male or female slaves from among the foreigners who live among you. You may also purchase the children of such resident foreigners, including those who have been born in your land. You may treat them as your property, passing them on to your children as a permanent inheritance. You may treat your slaves like this, but the people of Israel, your relatives, must never be treated this way. (Lev 25:44-46 NLT)

How about Hebrew slaves?

If you buy a Hebrew slave, he is to serve for only six years. Set him free in the seventh year, and he will owe you nothing for his freedom. If he was single when he became your slave and then married afterward, only he will go free in the seventh year. But if he was married before he became a slave, then his wife will be freed with him. (Ex 21:2-6 NLT)

But keep reading! You can hold his wife and child hostage until he says "keep me!" and he's yours forever. Family values!

Now, sex slaves!

When a man sells his daughter as a slave, she will not be freed at the end of six years as the men are. If she does not please the man who bought her, he may allow her to be bought back again… And if the slave girl's owner arranges for her to marry his son, he may no longer treat her as a slave girl, but he must treat her as his daughter. If he himself marries her and then takes another wife, he may not reduce her food or clothing or fail to sleep with her as his wife. If he fails in any of these three ways, she may leave as a free woman without making any payment. (Ex 21:7-11 NLT)

Buy all the sex slaves you want! Just feed them, clothe them, and screw them!

What about beating slaves? As long as they don't die today, you're clear!

When a man strikes his male or female slave with a rod so hard that the slave dies under his hand, he shall be punished. If, however, the slave survives for a day or two, he is not to be punished, since the slave is his own property. (Ex 21:20-21 NAB)

And how did Jesus feel about them?

Slaves, obey your earthly masters with deep respect and fear. Serve them sincerely as you would serve Christ. (Eph 6:5 NLT)

Christians who are slaves should give their masters full respect so that the name of God and his teaching will not be shamed. If your master is a Christian, that is no excuse for being disrespectful. You should work all the harder because you are helping another believer by your efforts. Teach these truths, Timothy, and encourage everyone to obey them. (1 Tim 6:1-2 NLT)

Jesus clearly approved of beating slaves even if they didn't know they were doing anything wrong.

The servant will be severely punished, for though he knew his duty, he refused to do it. "But people who are not aware that they are doing wrong will be punished only lightly. Much is required from those to whom much is given, and much more is required from those to whom much more is given." (Luke 12:47-48 NLT)

cl said...

Avicenna,

"1. No, most of us stop believing in whatever faith due to scepticism. Most of us have analysed religion and found it to be lacking in evidence for it's claims. To believe in such a faulty premise is a flaw."

You have responded to (1) out of context. I wasn't talking about "most of you." I was talking specifically about what Lady Atheist said in the opening paragraph.

"2. That nearly 90% of people across the world believe in a creator despite there being ABSOLUTELY no concrete evidence for one is a logical flaw."

Actually, judging the rationality of 90% of the world's population without knowing the evidence they're privy to is the real logical flaw, but, again, you've responded to my statement out-of-context. I was responding to the claim that Lady Atheist -- or anyone else in this thread -- has exposed any logical flaws in this thread [or elsewhere on this blog, for that matter]. Are you going to claim that they have? If so, show me.

"3. I have agreed to debate Gideon on his own blog and he did show up on mine to insult me about it."

Again, you respond out of context. I was claiming that it is hypocritical to allow atheists the right to insult, but not Gideon. Your response is a non-sequitur.

"4. The entire world works by proof. Simply declaring the possession of something fantastic is not an acceptable stance. Proof is necessary. The fantastic stance in this case is the presence of a personal and knowable god who routinely interferes in our lives with his magic and he requires belief or will punish you. He also is possessing a varying set of super powers depending on which particular brand of religion you follow. By your logic, you cannot disprove the non existence of a penguin carrying a laser gun in space."

You appear to be laboring under the false assumption that I misunderstand the burden of proof, when in fact, I'm quite familiar with it. Would you like to take up Lady Atheist's position? If so, feel free. Define precisely what you mean by the word "supernatural," lest we consign ourselves to talking past one another.

"5. It's not an opinion. There is no empirical evidence for a god."

Now you're moving the goalpost. The claim you've previously made was simply, "There is no evidence of a god." Of course, that claim is an opinion. However, if you want to move the goalpost to, "There is no scientific proof for God," which seems to be the direction you're heading, I would agree. I have always been of the opinion that scientists cannot prove God in the laboratory, and furthermore, that all attempts to do so entail logical fallacy.

"And remember you reject other gods existences."

You speak presumptuously, and this is a major obstacle to rational thinking. If you'd care to actually debate any of these things, again, feel free. Just try to respond in context, stay on topic, and steer clear of the anti-faith rhetoric.

Avicenna said...

2. Just because the majority of people once used to put holes in their skulls (trepanning) doesn't mean it's sane thing to do now. 90% of the world don't believe in the same gods. Even those who believe in the same gods don't even agree what they should believe in.

And they can be wrong. The rational answer to "what created the universe?" is not "magic being as it says so in this book by a bunch of 2000 year old people". It's "don't know, let's find out". Consider that if we took even the simplest of our technology back to the past, we would blow their minds. They would consider us "gods" simply because of what we can do.

4. The supernatural is anything whose function includes the ability to break the laws of physics. So Ghosts, Fairies, God, Angels, Witches, Demons, Vampires... The list goes on.

5. I don't know about you but I like my evidence to be empirical. Most of us do. Evidence must be empirical by it's nature. I used the term simply because religious people love to bring in subjective miracles.

My personal favourite miracle story was a man who lucked out and got a heart/lung transplant after a few years waiting. Said it was a miracle. The person who it came from was a 24 year old man who died in a motorcycle accident. Miracle right?

cl said...

Avicenna,


"Just because the majority of people once used to put holes in their skulls (trepanning) doesn't mean it's sane thing to do now. 90% of the world don't believe in the same gods. Even those who believe in the same gods don't even agree what they should believe in.

And they can be wrong. ... Consider that if we took even the simplest of our technology back to the past, we would blow their minds. They would consider us "gods" simply because of what we can do."


Since I've not denied any of that, why did you post it? As for,

"The rational answer to "what created the universe?" is not "magic being as it says so in this book by a bunch of 2000 year old people". It's "don't know, let's find out"."

You appear to be conflating agnosticism with rationality a priori, but I don't see any evidence or persuasive argumentation that would demonstrate your point. In truth, any answer founded upon cogent logic and/or empirical evidence constitutes a rational answer to the enigma of the universe's source.

"The supernatural is anything whose function includes the ability to break the laws of physics. So Ghosts, Fairies, God, Angels, Witches, Demons, Vampires... The list goes on."

Fair enough. Do you now understand the conundrum? Physicists cannot ever reach a point where they can state, with certainty, that they have complete knowledge of the so-called laws of physics. Therefore, any event I point to can be dismissed as a natural event that physics is currently unable to explain.

"I don't know about you but I like my evidence to be empirical. Most of us do. Evidence must be empirical by it's nature. I used the term simply because religious people love to bring in subjective miracles."

Empirical evidence is a prerequisite for the scientific method. It is not the sole arbiter of truth, and remains forever vulnerable to misinterpretation by fallible humans. Recall that Pl├╝cker and Hittorf had concrete empirical evidence for cathode rays - until Thomson came along with a better electrometer and a different interpretation.

"My personal favourite miracle story was a man who lucked out and got a heart/lung transplant after a few years waiting. Said it was a miracle. The person who it came from was a 24 year old man who died in a motorcycle accident. Miracle right?"

No, just more needless anti-faith rhetoric.