Shootings, Obama And Breakdown of New Atheism In Times Of Need

“[O]ur hearts are broken today for the parents and grandparents, sisters and brothers of these little children, and for the families of the adults who were lost.,” heart movingly said Barak Obama, not as a president of United State, but as a fellow parent to those who are affected by second worst U.S’s school shooting. He went further,

Our hearts are broken for the parents of the survivors, as well, for as blessed as they are to have their children home tonight, they know that their children’s innocence has been torn away from them too early and there are no words that will ease their pain.

I could not help but wept with Obama when he said,

The majority of those who died today were children — beautiful, little kids between the ages of 5 and 10 years old. They had their entire lives ahead of them — birthdays, graduations, weddings, kids of their own. Among the fallen were also teachers, men and women who devoted their lives to helping our children fulfill their dreams.(Obama 2012: n.p)

Appropriately, Obama ended with “[m]ay God bless the memory of the victims and, in the words of Scripture, heal the brokenhearted and bind up their wounds.”

What If Obama Was New Atheist? What Would He Have Said?

Obama’s closing remark made me ponder, what if Obama was new atheist and not a Christians who believes as Fyodor Dostoevsky that “suffering will be healed and made up for, that all the humiliating absurdity of human contradictions will vanish like a pitiful mirage”? What if Obama worldview was not as Dostoevsky put it,

In the world’s finale, at the moment of eternal harmony, something so precious will come to pass that it will suffice for all hearts, for the comforting of all resentments, for the atonement of all the crimes of humanity, of all the blood they’ve shed; that it will make it not only possible to forgive but to justify all that has happened with men( Dostoevsky 1922: 247-8 )

What if Obama did not believe that we are living in a fallen world that is groaning, as in the pains of childbirth, until Christ returns to restore all things? What if he did not believe in final day where God will give an ultimate judgment?

What if Obama speech was like what Richard Dawkins believe, namely we live in a  “universe of electrons and selfish genes, blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won’t find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice.”? Would he have told his fellow parents whom are affected by second worst U.S school shooting,

The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but pitiless indifference. As that unhappy poet A. E Housman put it:

For nature, heartless, witless nature


Will neither care nor know

DNA neither cares nor knows. DNA just is. And we dance to its music.(Dawkins 1995: 132-3)

Would Obama told them that Adam Lanza was simply dancing to his DNA’s music? What if Obama echoed Francis Crick words, namely,

You, your joys and your sorrows, your memories and ambitions, your sense of personal identity and free will, are in fact no more than the behaviour of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules. Who you are is nothing but a pack of neurons.(Crick 1994: 3)

I am not saying that Obama’s Christian faith is true because it gives hope and assurance in times of need, but that new atheism and atheism in general breaks down when it comes to things that we dearly care.

Our joy, love, sorrows, hopes and delights. Things that makes us humans.

My wife and I weep together with families  fallen into this tragedies. I do not know why God permitted Adam Lanza to do so, but I know that everything “work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them” and we grieve with hope, for we know that life does not end at the grave. Christ’s resurrection demonstrated that we will see them again.

We have hope because  “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”(ESV Re. 21:3-4) That is how it ends. That is how it begins.

 Behold, God will make all things new.

Bibliography.

Crick, Francis (1994) The Astonishing Hypothesis – The Scientific Search for the Soul, London, Simon and Schuster.

Dostoevsky, Fyodor (1922). The Brothers Karamazou. New York: Macmillan

Obama, Barak (2012). Obama’s speech on December 14th 2012. Transcript: President Obama’s Remarks On Conn. School Shootings. White House

Dawkins, Richard (1995) River Out of Eden: A Darwinian View of Life.  Weidenfeld & Nicolson. London

Photocredit: Obama Ian D. Wade Portrait Genesis & Cover: The Courier Mail

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153 thoughts on “Shootings, Obama And Breakdown of New Atheism In Times Of Need

  1. Wow, so many comments from so many thoughts and opinions on such a trivial matter if really nothing matters at all; namely no God. I think the picture Daniel Payson is trying to paint here is those who deny the existence of God and prescribe Him to nothing more than a Santa Clause or some universal made up mythical being is that the human intellect is nothing more than what it is…well human. Limited in his/her understanding of the eternal , finite with regards to infinity, and constrained to the elements surrounding us; namely Earth.

    With this being said people do start out from an early age believing in Santa Clause, fairies, unicorns, etc. However, they share one common trait that effects all of us: there existence fades away through time. Why? Because the belief in those figures I mentioned only fulfilled an adolescent aspect of our lives. We grow up and that need for Santa Clause or whatever is fulfilled through school, marriage, etc. However there is need in all of us that never changes no matter how young or old you may become and that is the sense of purpose. All of us if we are honest with ourselves at one time or another wished for more than what we are; to have a sense of purpose.

    I was driving out west with my wife one night and came upon a herd of deer. And as if one of them acting like he drew the shortest straw immediately leaped into the road and smacked right into it. After inspecting minimal damage that had occurred to the car we drove off. What is interesting here is none of the deer ran after us In protest for running over there next of kin. Neither did we get hunted down by the deer police and charged with “deer slaughter.”

    “So what is the point to your rant” you ask? Great question! The deer only acted in accordance to there purpose: run off and graze in another area. No tears, no funerals, and no indictments. We humans on the other hand have purpose. We strive to be more than what we are, we’re troubled when someone runs another human over or even takes a gun into a school and performs the most hideous acts of crime to children and to others. These things matter because we matter, and only a powerful and lovingly intimate God who is outside of space time and consciousness could create “matter” that actually matters at all. Solomon profoundly makes the comment:

    “He has made everything appropriate in its time. He has also set eternity in their heart, yet so that man will not find out the work which God has done from the beginning even to the end (Ecclesiastes 3:11 NASB).”

    Only an all powerful, all-knowing, and forever living being is big enough to fill the deep a gaping hole in a human heart with purpose. It something to give strong reflection to and deserves the up most importance to follow the evidence wherever it may leads us; I believe it will ultimately leads us to the God of the Bible and not to a god of a north pole or on Mt. Olympus (John 4:23).

    For Jesus IS the hope of our defense (1 Peter 3:15),

    Del

    • @living4giving. Interresting anecdote about the deer. I hope you will not feel bad about your accident (after all that is what it was – an accident), if I tell you that the deer actually do mourn for their lost relatives. There is actual evidence of this. The reindeer for example, visit the sites where some of their relatives have died even years later and may stand by the horns of their dead comrade poking at them for hours. Instead of grazing. Of course there might be some other explanation to their behaviour, but indeed it is the most likeliest explanation, that they do recognize the horns and remember the individual wich once was a part of their community and miss it. You see, they do posses the neural capacity for such.

      You wrote:”…none of the deer ran after us In protest for running over there next of kin. Neither did we get hunted down by the deer police and charged with “deer slaughter.” If a bomber destroys a third world village of farmers, and some of them die and the farmers hide from the bomber instead of waving fists at it and if the villagers have no means to bring the bomber crew, or their commanders, or the political leaders to justice, does it mean those farmers did not mourn for their lost relatives? Does it result in that the bomber crew had every right to kill those farmers? Is that not only right of might?

      You do not know, if there is an all powerfull entity beyond time and space, that has created all. You are just guessing for a very andropocentric form of explanation to causality.

      You say:”Only an all powerful, all-knowing, and forever living being is big enough to fill the deep a gaping hole in a human heart with purpose.” If this is your personal experience, then you can certainly speak for yourself in this matter, but it is not very logical to rule out other possibilities. What about all the billions of people, like me, who do not have, that sort of image of purpose? Do you mean to say my life is meaningless, or purposeless? Is then my life less valuable than yours?

      I find meaning and purpose to my life and I have never felt such a hole in my heart. If you have felt such a hole in yours, then perhaps the problem was not that a god had not yet filled it, but that for some reason you had such a hole in your heart in the first place. If you never had no such hole, then how do you know that such a hole might even exist in anybody? However, even if you had one, it does not mean everyone else had one. And since I have not had one, it suggests it is not universal as you would presume. That in turn, leads us to the question, if you have missinterpreted the entire situation? That there is some natural explanation to the feeling of such a hole in your heart as the one you have filled up by this imaginary character. Could that be?

      • Excellent post, Rautakyy! (Hmmmm… My autocorrect changed your name to Rautslut. I’m very glad I caught it before posting!)

        It’s comments such as yours that provoke me to say, “I like atheists, the god they don’t believe in is the god I don’t believe in.”

        This conversation seems to be focused around the question of whether we human beings need to find meaning and purpose in our lives. We needn’t agree about whether God exists in order to talk about meaning and purpose.

        I work as a mental health clinician, and the most stressful part of my job is dealing with people who are suicidal. Not surprisingly, they typically complain that life has no meaning or purpose. I’ve found no connection one way or the other between a person’s religious convictions and whether or not their life has meaning.

        Human Beings are ‘meaning makers’. It’s on us. We can find meaning in God, or we can find other ways.

        What’s important is that you realize that if your life has no meaning it’s YOU that must change.

        Paul

      • Hey thanks for the reply. You imply that maybe I have misinterpreted myself with regard to purpose in an individual’s life that I feel God provides. However the same could be easily said for your comments to my statements. Am I to assume you are relativistic in your opinions and there is no universal truths? If so then why do people slow down when they see a cop car on the side of the road? Because there are universal truths and laws we all come under accountability and have to adhere to unless we want to to be apart of a legal entanglement. There are laws of gravity we have to obey unless we fall and break our necks. So I guess my point is this,we unlike the animal world have purpose; we were created with purpose. Only humans can reason, speak complex languages, build and operate complicated structures, and aspire to be more than what we are; I have never heard of a deer wanting to become a captain of a ship or a shark wanting to become an airline pilot. But you and I share a common trait along with the rest of the human race and that is purpose. When this isn’t met and the longing in our hearts from unfulfilled dreams remain vacant we seek something outside of ourselves. Ted Turner (famous agnostic) once was asked how did it feel to be on top of the world? Turner replied when I finally made it to the top I was only greeted with a bag full of holes. This was the hole in the heart I mentioned. You can have everything that this life has to offer and yet still have nothing; hence you are greeted with a bag full of holes. Don’t let the failures of religion, or even people who claim to be Christian but act otherwise keep you from having a loving relationship with Jesus Christ who came to plug up the bag full of holes this life has given.

      • I am not sure in where this comment will appear, but I hope this is still comprehensable part of the conversation.

        @captaincatholic, I totally agree with you Paul. I find the freedom of religion a very valuable right. One reason why I do not appear in these conversations with my own name, but by this nick – rautakyy – wich has a special meaning to me and by wich quite a few people know me. You see, even here in very secular Finland I run a risk, that a possible future employer does not accept my atheism and will not hire me even if my position on god(s) has nothing to do wiht my profession, or my skills. In that sense I can emphatise with the early Christians within the Roman empire. 😉

        @living4giving, humans, each and everyone, was created by their parents with several different kinds of intent. But purpose is something we find in our lives by ourselves, or not. To some that purpose may be worshiping a god, but most people find purpose to their lives from more mundane sources. You mentioned a captain and an airline pilot. But rarely are they just what their profession defines, they may in addition to that find meaning and purpose from their family and hobbies, or even from their religions what ever those are. I my self find great purpose from my family, friends, work and hobbies, such as art and voluntary work.

        As I mentioned before, I was born into an atheist family and never have I found the notion of god(s) in any way real. Hence, to me there is no such gaping hole you described the famous agnostic felt, when he finally reached the mountaintop. To me such holes are psychological processes, not spiritual ones. Why? Because through psychology we can investigate and explain these phenomenon by science and not by guessing game like with the spiritual explanation models. After all, science is the best means to reach any conclusions about the objective truth, we have. Yes? If a religious culture is prone to produce such holes in the psyche of its adherents, that only the particular religion is able to fill, the process really requires no god(s). Does it? And you know, your religion and god are not the only ones, that fall under this model. Don’t you? Actually that tells a sad tale of any such religion. The idea that some people are unable to reason purpose to their lives does not lead to the assumption, that there must be a supernatural entity distributing it unevenly. It does not actually lead to any place where any sort of necessity for such an entity is established. Does it?

        The deer want to graze and live free in the wilderness. Some of them harbour desire to become the leader of their herd and mate with as many females as possible (I know a couple of religious people who seem to have just about that much purpose in their lives). The deer have desires and purpose to their lives just like we humans do. The fact that our desires and purposes we give to our own lives and to the lives of each other may be more complex does not mean the deer have none.

        There are universal truths, or should we say objective truths, but in no way do they require any supernatural explanations. Supernatural explanations have been over and over again been shown to be nothing more, than superstitious guesses by ignorant people. Correct?

        I can respect Jesus the philosopher who died thousands of years ago, only because he challenged the religious conservatives of his own society by stating the obvious, like: be good to people. Just as I can respect other philosophers before and after him like Buddha, Laozi, Gandhi, Abdul Gaffar Khan, Martin Luther King, Stephen Biko and many, many others who have made it their point to say the same naturally ethical and rather obvious thing and some of whom had to pay the ultimate price, for being honest.

        However, if you have found purpose to your life from your god, I wellcome you to have that purpose. I just ask you not to assume this works similarly to all people, when it obviously does not.

  2. Agreed. I was quite impressed by Obama’s Christian commitment in this speech. I am not generally an Obama supporter, but I was glad to have a Christian President giving a Christian response to the crisis. Memory eternal to all who lost their lives at Sandy Hook.

  3. Hi again Prayson.

    Sorry, I was a bit too hasty, when I wrote my last comment. The last sentence of the second paragraph was supposed to read: Mere possibility is far too slim a chance for something as extraordinary as any of those to be reasonably plausible, without any hard evidence. Then again what should be plausible without evidence? 😉

    You know, you are asking for special pleading for Satan in comparrison to Santa, Saturn and the old Norse gods. If they are as you say temporal and that their temporal nature makes them impossible (as Aristoteles said), then this applies just as well to Satan. It does not really matter, that Santa, or Satan have never been referred to as gods, that is just semantics, since their respective abilities and supernatural existance are equal to those of most descriptions of gods. If however Aristoteles was wrong and such supernatural entities as Satan exists, then just as well could Santa exist, and you need a nother reason to disbelieve him. What is it? Could it be that you rejected Santa even before you knew about the argument of Aristoteles? Did you have a good reason? What was it? Or did you simply find the claims about Santa not plausible without any hard evidence, like most adult people?

    Yes, the common description of Santa differs from that of a monotheistic view of what a god is in the aspect of temporality, I give you that much, but so does that of Satan and even the description of trinity is somewhat bordering the limit here. Santa and Satan are equal claims in their description as temporal entities. Do you believe in Satan? Is your belief in him based on faith, or have you reasoned, that there must be a Satan? Is there some hard evidence, that Satan exists? By the way, the traditional view of Santa here in Finland is a horned demon, so perhaps these two share more common ground, than one would first come to think of. 😉

    Oh, and have you noticed, that it is increasingly hard to follow the conversation, because the comments drop quite out of order? Could you do something about that?

  4. Hi Preyson.

    Yes, in general people think, that they have good reason to believe in god(s) (like Saturn), but that they have good reason not to believe in Santa. It is not a common reason to reject Santa because of his temporal nature (perhaps since not so many people are aquinted of Aristoteles), but because the claims made about him are absurd in the reality. That He miraculously distributes presents around the globe during one night, that He has a sleigh that flies and such. But they are just miracles. If we are to accept miracles as evidence of the existance of the supernatural at all, then these miracles by Santa are of no different value to those of Christianity. Miracles are in fact unverifiable claims, and there is no good reason to believe they are true. Or is there?

    However, if Aristoteles was correct and a temporal nature is what decides the plausibility of an extraordinary claim about divinity and supernatural nature of any entity, then Satan does not exist, as Christianity would claim it does. Or do you suggest, that Satan has for ever existed just like your creator god? That would make the trinity into a quadruple. If Satan is an imagined entity, like Santa, or Saturn because of their temporal form, then Christianity is not much of source for any substantial information and the salvation from him promised by Jesus makes absolutely no sense at all. On the other hand one could argue, that Santa, Saturn and the Norse gods are not temporal, but manifestations and “avatars” of something timeless in this temporal universe just like Jesus, but would that make them any more plausible to you?

    The fact that a creator entity or manifestations of such a being are possible until we can disprove such possibility, is no good reason to believe any such things exist. Even before the planet Saturn was observed it could have been claimed to exist by a person with highly active imagination, that such a thing exists in the vast universe, but before the actual observation of it, the claim would have been pure science-fiction. You see, any extraordinary claim remains fiction, until it is verified. There are many claims and anecdotal stories about the UFOs, but until we have verifiable evidence of such things we have no good reason to believe in them. Regardles of the fact that most people who claim to have been abducted have nothing to gain by their wild claims and what they will face dispite their often sincere approach to the matter is just ridicule. They even risk loosing their livelyhood, and social status as sane people. This is only because the UFO claims have no historical cultural indoctrination process to back them up like religions do. Most religions face similar treatment in their early stages. As did Christianity.

    We do not disbelieve UFO stories because we have some profound knowledge that disproves them, but because they remain extraordinary unverified claims. Just like we should not believe in god(s) as long as they remain unverified extraordinary claims.

    Do you now see what I mean?

    • Hej Rautakky

      I see what you mean Rautakky but I think your first reason to think that God, like legendary Santa, does not exist, is an appeal to ignorance namely “There is no evidence for p. Therefore, not-p.”

      Satan is not “God” as classical and traditional understand God to be, because there was time Satan was not(not timeless) according to Judeo-literature.

      Indeed one can argue against the classical understand of Santa, Saturn and the Norse gods been temporal, and I am open to hear the reasons why they think that is so. From a classic understanding of Nordic and Greek gods, from the literature we have, they were all temporal. It does not matter what general people think, Rautakky, what matter is do they have good reason(s) to think what they think.

      Rautakky, I do not hold that “[t]he fact that a creator entity or manifestations of such a being are possible until we can disprove such possibility, is no good reason to believe any such things exist.” simply because it is similar to your reason 1 which was in form of (3-4), it is (1-2) form of appeal to ignorance.

      Both,

      1. There is no good reason(s) to disprove God’s existence
      2. Therefore God exist

      and

      3. There is no good reason(s) to proof God existence
      4. Therefore God does not exist

      are form of appeal to ignorance Rautakky.

      I think Rautakky, from logically point of view, that your reason number 1, fails to be a good reason for supposing that God, like legendary Santa, does not exist because “no reasons for x” is not “reason for not-x”.

      Rautakky from your own reasoning namely, “Before the planet Saturn was discovered humans had no good reason to believe it did. Yet, there it is and was all the time.” it is possible that God exist even if we had no good reason to believe He does. So your reason 1 fails to be a good reason that God does not exist.

      Should we move, Rautakky, to reason 2, and look close if it is a good reason to think that God, like legendary Santa, does not exist? 🙂 Or would you still like to show how is no-reason for God existence, reason against His existence? 😀

      Prayson

      • Hello Prayson.

        First of all, my nick is rautakyy, not “Rautakky”.

        It is your blog and we can move to reason number two. Though I still persist, that there is no good reason to believe in the existance of something wich is not verified on any level, like Santa, Satan, Saturn, or any other god(s), or the existance of anything supernatural. It is a total logical fallacy, regardless if any of those are for real. Mere possibility is far too slim a chance for something as extraordinary as any of those to exist.

        Until something is verified to exist, it is not real to us. Is it? The more extraordinary the claim, the harder the evidence has to be. Correct? Do you believe the UFOs are extraterrestial beings? If not, why? Do you have good evidence of that or are you appealing to ignorance of their existance? Your guess is as good as mine, but they are both guesses. We may have evidence to back up our guesses, but inevitably we do not posses such information that would verify these stories either false, or true. Do we? I bet though we both are guessing the UFO stories are a form of folklore. I am guessing that Santa and god(s) are also folklore, until I have some hard evidence to back either up.

        If I were to claim that there must be life on the 3rd planet of Tau Ceti, would you believe me until I could prove my claim? Why not? You can not possibly have any information that negates my claim outright. Yet it is an extraordinary claim indeed, but it is still a possibility, that it is true.

        I still do not see what are you aming at this, since this is totally off topic on this subject, but perhaps you will explain me later.

  5. Hei, Preyson. You wrote: “Do we have good reasons to think that Jesus as believed by Christians, or God, like legendary Santa does not exist, Rautakyy?”

    I thought you knew these, but yes of course we have. To awoid as long post as the two previous ones I will list just a few and not explain any of them thoroughly here unless you specifically ask me to.

    1. There is no good reason to believe any gods invented by men exist, because any universally plausible evidence of such has not been ever presented. Though there are some compelling philosophical claims made about the necessity of a god, those do not go very far as evidence for any particular god described by any one religion. Besides, even such claims can often be rejected and only the people who really want to believe, find any real consolation from them. Through their own faith.

    2. The descriptions of any individual gods, such as Jesus, are very much like all the other gods imagined by humans in the sense, that they are self serving to humanity, or more often a particular group of humans and are as such quite obviously moralistic cultural products.

    3. We have the account of Jesus as a historical character. Alledgedly a carpenter gone philosopher in the Judea during the antiquity. However, all the “miracle stories” described in connection to him are simply in the form of contradicting anecdotal evidence by people who had invested their lives in his teachings by the time these stories got written down. And in those days people were a lot more supseptible to miraculous events, than educated people today are. If we were to accept these miracles then we should be logically compelled to accept any other miraculous or supernatural event, claimed by the many religions. But since the religions are most often mutually exclusive, these claims are as well mutually denying each other. Further more. We have no scientific evidence of anything supernatural happening ever. What we do have is an abundant load of scientific evidence about stuff that is natural, but used to be interpreted as miraculous or caused by gods. In addittion we have even more scientific data about people inventing supernatural stuff.

    4. Any creator entity who is able to produce the universe and is genuienly positively interrested in humans as individuals could have come up with a better plan to contact us, than just a book, that is, as obviously as ever possible, a product of certain human culture (and their neighbours). A book of wich a good part of the humanity has not even heard of yet and wich most of humanity rejects only because they have their own “editions” of different holy books, they find as special as the adherents of your holy book.

    5. To demand anyone to believe in something without good evidence, or suffer for an eternity is unethical, if you are able to provide the said evidence. Especially when there is attached a threat of violence ie. hell, to the nonbeliever, and most often also to the person who has the wrong sort of faith. This proves the claims of benevolence on part of any such god, that demands faith are absurd from the human perspective, but that is the one perspective we humans have. Not only that, it also goes as very good evidence of the invented nature of the entire religion, since in reality men invent such punishments to scare people into believing in their stories. And especially to get them to give their money.

    I could list more, but before I do, I must ask you, how is this relevant to your topic?

    • Thank you Rautakyy again.

      Since you poured quite a lot, could we again take one by one 🙂 Could you help understand:

      How does the case “[t]here is no good reason to believe any gods invented by men exist, because any universally plausible evidence of such has not been ever presented” a good reasons to think that God, like legendary Santa, does not exist, Rautakyy?

      You are very right that any gods invented by men does not exist, but how does that follow that God discovered(thus not invented) by men does not exist?

      Is this not also an appeal to ignorance Rautakyy namely we have no reason(s) that x is true therefore x is false?

      In a simple way, how is “no reason” that God exist “reason” that God does not exist? How is no-reason reason Rautakyy?

      It is relevant because you place the believe of Santa and God in one plain Rautakyy. As you were taught that Santa existed and grew up to know it was not true, so I wish to know the reason you think God existence is to be viewed this way too.

      Prayson

      • Thank you Preyson for a quick reply.

        Before the planet Saturn was discovered humans had no good reason to believe it did. Yet, there it is and was all the time. However, a lot of people have believed for countless of generations, that the god Saturn existed. Without any good reason they were convinced, that there has to be the deity that takes care of commerce and that it is called Saturn. They thought it was logical, but was it? The fact that the idea had been passed down as traditional knowledge, made them more susceptible to the idea, like we today in the western countries are eager to accept Santa, when we are kids. Further more, this entity was what they wanted to believe in, just like Santa (or Jesus for that matter). Through prayer and making offerings and especially supporting the priesthood of this religion, people thought they recieved the protection of this god in their business adventures. Did Saturn help them in their commercial activities? When something good happened they were certain it must be Saturn helping them. When something bad happened, some of them might have questioned why Saturn did not help them, but not very may lost faith anyway. You see, that is how faith is. We cannot summon enough evidence to absolutely conclude, that no such supernatural entity as Saturn ever existed, but I doubt you would be hell bent to ask for enough evidence and a good reason to believe in him, before you did. And I suspect, that the idea he would help your economics, would not be enough to convince you. Correct?

        Same goes with the Santa argument. You do not know for sure, if Santa exists, or not, but before you do (as an adult) you would expect good evidence and reason to believe such an extraordinary entity exists. Correct? Or do you disbelieve in Santa only because you have conclusive evidence, that He does not exist? Is there some such evidence of the nonexistancy of Santa, that could not be falsified by the counter apologetics for the existance of Santa I presented earlierly?

        The appeal to ignorance would be, that Santa (or Saturn) must exist, if we cannot conclusively disprove His existance.

        • Hej Rautakkyy.

          The appeal to ignorance can be in two forms

          1. There is no evidence against p.
          2. Therefore, p.

          and

          3. There is no evidence for p.
          4. Therefore, not-p.

          It seams Rautakyy that your case is in form of 3-4, namely there is no evidence for God existence, therefore God does not exist, which I think is appealing to ignorance.

          We dismiss legendary Santa not because there is no evidence for his existence but because there is evidence for his nonexistence.

          Saturn analogy fails, just like Santa, because we have good reason to think that a god, with the properties of Saturn(like Greek gods, Nordics god) cannot exist because they are temporal, in time and space.

          Following Aristotle, only a timeless, changeless and self-conscious being can exist outside of our four-dimensional spacetime continuum.

          So we are back to my questions Rautakky. How is no-reason for God existence, reason against His existence? 🙂

  6. Hi Preyson. I was born atheist. I am an atheist in third generation from both sides. I was about 7 when I first realized, that some adult people take these stories about god(s) for real. I had just grown out of my own belief in Santa. Had I believed in Santa Claus before that because my mind was fine tuned for the existance of Santa? No, but because as a child I was fine tuned to believe my parents who told me about Santa. However, I remember once being affraid of trolls in a dark forest when I was about that age. I remember, that I really did not believe there were trolls, but the idea was scary enough to give me the chills. Does that mean my mind was fine-tuned for the existance of trolls?

    Anyway, that is beside the point. I wanted to note, that I think you are an intelligent Christian and I very much respect your devotion to seek the truth in this matter, though I think your predesposition of faith is false. As for the actual topic of your post, I would say it is a bit of a strawman argument. I do not think it is intentional on your part, since you allways seem to try to be respectfull of other world views also. Yet, my point is, that you could possibly not know what Obama would say, if he was an atheist, or what Dawkins would say. You may present guesses about such things, but would it not be more prudent to assume that these two intelligent and sophisticated men would find comforting words even at this tragic moment, than that they would lack the ability to comfort the shoked nation, or the relatives of the victims?

    You seem to argue that atheist should be something completely different than what we are and what we profess to be and then, if we were what you think atheism should be, it would prove us wrong. Do you see why that is a strawman?

    I have been to some atheist funerals, and the eulogies atheist people made were very comforting indeed.

    The idea that as we realize how the universe really works and that it really does not require any sort of god(s) to function, somehow robs us of the meaningfullness of life is absolute rubbish. Even if we understand ourselves as part of the evolution, it does not take our individual joys, the meaning and value we give to things we observe, or make, nor reasons for ethical behaviour. On the contrary, it should strengthen them. In realization of the brief life we have to appriciate it even more. It is not the faith in the existance of a god that makes us behave humanely, but the very state of being humans. Perhaps, that is what your precious Niechze missed out, or maybe just you?

    It is very understandable why humans have invented so many different claims about an afterlife, but they all boil down to wishfull thinking. In the face of such tragedies, as for example when children die, such hopes for a second chance are what people really would want to happen. But that does nothing to make it any more true. And if people really believed in children getting a free pass to eternall bliss instead of risking them for the possibility of ending up in eternal torture for simple dissbelief later in life, why would they not rejoiced for the death of children?

    The atheist mourns for the innocent victims and is angry to the agressor just like the Hindu, the Buddhist, the Muslim, or the Christian. All of them are quite capable of comforting the living from their own perspectives. But even if we do have an innate sense for justice and revenge – reasons for wich are amply explained by evolution – it does not make the supernatural any more true.

    Do all the children get to go to heaven? At what age does a person become responsible for his/her beliefs? If a kid is born into a Hindu family is he bound for hell just because of that as a little baby? Should a 6 year old allready choose to believe the right god and not to believe in the superstitions of the parents? What about a teenager, who is so confused with becoming an adult and the hormonal rush? perhaps when we become adults are we finally responsible for choosing and finding the right religion correct, even if our cultural heritage disables us from seeing it as anything else than a herecy. What is the method of comparing different religions to find the one true one? Remember, that according to Chritianity, if most people have no method of comparrison between religions, then most people will go to suffer in hell for an eternity for being born into a wrong culture. Is that the work of a “benevolent” god?

    Frankly I find it a bit questionable to even think, that the murderer is sentenced either to eternal bliss out of mercy, or believing in the right sort of god, or in eternal punishment in everlasting torment. A person who murders children is clearly very disturbed individual. Does such a person deserve mercy of bliss, or the lake of fire for eternity? Neither make any sense any more than the idea that the murderer is born again as a mosquito as some sort of cosmic punishment.

    Sorry about the long comment, but before I joined in you had discussed a lot of different stuff.

    • Hej Rautaky,

      Thank you for a lengthy comments which touched many areas and packed with many questions 🙂

      Could we take one at a time. Starting with Santa and God. Did I understand that you believe that belief in God is as children believing in Santa?

      Before I address this, I would love to know what argument/evidence could you offer to support the connection of God, as believed in classic Judeo-Christianity, with Santa?

      Yours,
      Prayson

      • Hejssan Prayson.

        The Santa aspect is not really one of my main points in this topic, but since you asked perhaps I could elaborate a bit. What I meant was that I was taught as a child that Santa is for real, but I was never taught that Jesus is for real. Yes, I know both are based on historical characters and it seems both have been blown out of proportion. At this point, I would like to apologize, in case anything I write may offend the religious feelings, or seem like blasphemous. I can only assure it is not meant in that way. This is my honest take on these things.

        Many people are taught by their parents to believe in god(s) and in the Santa Claus when they are little children. Later in life the children will discover, that the prezzies are actually given by their parents and other people, not Santa and most kids hear it from other kids, that it is childish to believe in Santa. One thing kids do not want, is to be told they are childish, though every and each of them should be aware of the fact that they are indeed children. I guess it is part of the process of becoming an adult, wich takes for years.

        While the culture is systematical about revealing Santa as a “hoax” it is not so about god(s). Even though these seem to have about as much effect in our actual lives as Santa (if even that much). Adults know there is no Santa, but at the same time much of the same adults also “know” there is a god. How do they know these things? Has there been an actual scientific investigation to wether the Santa actually exists, or not? How could one even research it? Perhaps by looking at the claims made about Santa and finding out, if these are actually are true?

        We could go to the North Pole and see, if there is the dwelling of Santa over there, or we could set traps, that would catch Santa when he is climbing down the chimneys. Or we could interview the parents of kids who got presents, wether, if there were presents among the recieved, that were not bought by the parents or anyone else, that had rather just magically appeared during the night. The true believer in Santa could then refute such research by claiming, that as Santa has superpowers and works through miracles, we are unable to find his hideaway, catch him in a net, or that he would never give presents to kids whose parents are so naughty, that they involved themselves in such a research. We could ask, if that is very ethical of the Santa to punish the kids for the actions of parents, but the true believer, could then answer us, that Santa makes His own rules, and it is consistant with the very fact that Santa does not give presents to families who act according to their cultures, in wich people do not celebrate Christmass. However, such a research and apologetics for Santa would be absurd, would you not agree? Why?

        The reason why people do not research the existance of Santa, is not because we are born with some inherent knowledge, that god(s) are true, but that Santa is imaginary. It is because we are culturally aware of the absurd nature of the claim about Santa. It is part of our cultural initiation of growing up to learn, that Santa is a lie, but at the same time our cultures make just as wild claims about god(s). We mostly reject these notions simply because they are alien to us. The products of other cultures and other religions. We treat them almost as the Santa story.

        For us to take the Santa story as for real enough to start studying it, would require, that at the very least it was as revered by some adults, as a religion. So, in that sense they are very different. However, they are not that different in the sense, that to a little child they are equally plausible suggestions. Adults think they know there is no Santa also because they are part of the action around Santa. It is the parents who know they aquire the gifts and so on. However, religious people are all the time engaged in actions on behalf their god(s), alltough the said god(s) are often enough alledged to poses such overwhelming powers, that helping or acting on behalf of them seems somewhat ridiculous. Hence, the fact that parents act on behalf of Santa is not revealing Santa is not real at all, in a religious sense.

        If there existed a cult of (adult) Santa believers, and you would want to approach their faith from a scientific perspective, but could not afford to travel to the North pole and even if you could, you knew their apologetics (as I presented them before) about the fact that you could not find anything there, how would you approach their claims? Would you not ask them to prove the existance of Santa? If they then said, that it is unreasonable for you to ask for proof, since there is ample evidence of Santa, would you not ask them to present their evidence? To that they would reply, that there are plenty of historical stories about Santa Claus, Father Chrismass, and St. Nicholas before those, in many historical documents, would you accept, that anecdotal evidence of a miracle performing entity? If you claimed, that the feats that Santa performs are against the laws of nature, and their reply would be, that it only goes to prove how miraculous Santa is. You could even claim that worshipping Santa must be wrong because it is against the deeper truth you profess to have, the Christian faith, and they might reply, that it is not and that it has its roots deep in Christian tradition and your interpretation of Christianity is incorrect about Santa. In the end, you could tell them that most people do not share their faith, and they would simply shrug it off by noting, that the truth is not measured by counting noses. They could possibly add to that, that without a faith in Santa you have no base for morals, because if you do not believe in the importance of Santa ordering you to be rather “nice”, than “naughty”, you cannot be nice at all. Would you be offended by such a claim, if it was offered as a proof of both you immorality and the existance of Santa? For clarification, to me as an atheist, the concept of sin is as plausible as the concept of “naughty or nice”. Ethics should not be determined by such obviously authoritarian terms.

        Both the Santa believers and Jesus believers, have a very obvious similarity in motivation. Do they not? Both forms of faith offer something the believers value highly. Neither have very concrete verification to their faith, but it really does not stop them from having faith in something that really pleases them personally as a concept. This is often quite self sentered and self serving.

        So, the main difference between a Santa cult and Christianity would be the fact that there exists no Santa cult other than that wich is revered by little children. In that respect any actual religion would propably have served as a better example, but the belief in Santa is such a common phenomenon even among Christians, that you all propably know what I am speaking of. You could say, that the difference lies in Santa story not offering any actual information about any creator entity, but Christianity is on the same level on this, because the stories in the Old Testament are about as informative of the Creator as the song of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer (wich has a certain morals of its own), unless you believe, that the OT must be literal and there exists an all out conspiracy of scientists to manufacture false information, that renders the Biblical stories onto level of meaningless metaphors.

        In the end the those who actually believe in Santa and those who believe in Jesus are very much joined by the fact that both groups of people have deep faith in the mythical character giving them magical gifts, ie. praying to Jesus, or sending letters to Santa, but only if you remember to ask for them. And even then, it rarely works with better chances than a mere chance. Unless of course, ones parents actually read the letter to Santa.

        Again this is a long comment, but I think it is a way to diminsh the following conversation and our mutual need for any clarifications. I really should learn to make shorter replies.

        • Hej Rautakyy.

          Quite a long comment 🙂 Thank you for clearing some of my concerns.

          In short, I would say that we dismiss the existence of legendarized Santa because we have good reasons to think he does not exist. We can demythologized the story to real saint Nicolai of Myra, we know presents are from family, et cetera.

          Do we have good reasons to think that Jesus as believed by Christians, or God, like legendary Santa does not exist, Rautakyy?

          Yours,
          Prayson

  7. I always enjoy these debates as long as both sides remain respectful which, for the most part, people have managed to do here. I was an atheist for most of my adult life; and not a very respectful one. I used to wield Joseph Campbell like a club and shout down people of faith as superstitious and anti-intellectual. Most atheists I have known are not obnoxious like I was and many people of faith I know today actually are somewhat superstitious and anti-intellectual. That said, I think sometimes atheists feel that if someone has faith they just haven’t thought things through all the way or have thought things through but in some flawed manner. On the flip side, people of faith often think atheists are naive and obtuse to their own detriment.

    As for me, all I can say is faith makes sense to me now in a way it couldn’t possibly have before. All the cliches about seeing all the same things but through different eyes are true. I told a friend of mine it was like geometry; I struggled with it for nearly 2 years and then one day something coalesced and everything from simple algebra to organic chemistry suddenly clicked into place. To the atheists I say simply that faith is not, by default, anti-intellectual; and you don’t have all the answers as much as you might think you do. To the people of faith I say, cut the atheists some slack; most are good people and are not out to destroy religion, they simply don’t practice it themselves. Each person is at a different place along the spectrum of belief in their life’s journey; and it is incumbent upon all of us to respect that position in others.

    • Very true Mark. I respect atheists because I was one, not anti-religion, but more like Bruce Sheiman, who viewed religion as valuable but false.

      A great number of my friends are atheists, and agnostics. I enjoy being with them because they remind not to take anything for granted. That I have to know what I think is true and why I think it is true.

      Thank you for your comment Mark.
      Prayson

  8. Being an atheist isn’t something you think about it. It’s a very small part of your life. Your life is everything you do and the fact you don’t believe in God is a very small part of that. I sincerely doubt that President Obama would have mentioned anything to do with atheism in a completely irrelevant consolation speech.

      • Atheism is the default – adding religion is optional. So I would say it’s religion which affects how you view the world, and atheism that is how you view it if you haven’t been affected by those false claims.

      • You’re born atheist. You continue being atheist unless you add religion to your life. And if you decide to become an atheist again, you are removing religion. It is religion that is added/removed and atheism which stays there as the default, obvious belief.

      • How an atheist child is born: Man + woman has sex. You can sort of do it in test tubes as well now thanks to the wonders of science.

      • No one is born atheist. A person is born innocent or unaware of the knowledge of God’s existence (or non-existence). When that person is old enough to reason or has gained enough life experience to make rational decisions about their personal beliefs regarding the existence of God, or their spiritual status, then they can make their choice as to whether or not to believe. Everyone is born with the capacity for developing their own personal theology, but until they reach the point in their lives where they can make rational and reasonable decisions, they cannot choose to exercise that capacity. I’m not sure who said this first but ever hear…”I think, therefore I am.”

        It works the same why being “raised” Christian, Muslim, atheist, or whatever. Once you reach the age to make a decision to continue, or not, to follow your parents beliefs you do just that.

        • Hej Roy,

          Actually many scientists have contended that “[t]here’s now a lot of evidence that some of the foundations for our religious beliefs are hard-wired”(Paul Bloom, a psychologist at Yale University).

          “Children the world over have a strong natural receptivity to believing in gods because of the way their minds work, and this early developing receptivity continues to anchor our intuitive thinking throughout life,” (Justin L. Barrett, an anthropologist at the University of Oxford)

          Barrett wrote a whole book on this issue, Born Believers: The Science of Children’s Religious Belief(2012) summarizing scientific experiments conducted with children across the globe, showing ways human beings have come to develop complex belief systems about God’s omniscience, the afterlife, and the immortality of deities.

          Richard Dawkins also admitted, “I am thoroughly happy with believing that children are predisposed to believe in invisible gods – I always was”.

          So according to scientific evidence it seams that people are born hard-wired to believe in supernaturals. So I was wondering what Larry meant we are born atheists.

          Prayson

          • John, if that was the case, why do scientists on that field claim the opposite?

            Could you be kind and share with us the sources/proper-authorities of your assertion that children are born atheists?

          • Morning, Prayson!

            50 years of searching and neurologists have found nothing, absolutely nothing, is stored in the human mind at birth. We are born with some vital biological programs, behavioural tendency’s, and pre-programmed leanings to some diseases, but as for ‘knowledge’? Nothing. There is no synaptic bundle storing some notion of a god or a spiritual afterlife. All that is learnt. The ‘hard wiring’ you’re referring to is not actually ‘hard wiring’ rather a cultural residue dating back to the first Paleolithic burials where we first imagined the concept of some life after death. That ‘event’ coincided with the finalization of the frontal cortex; the region of the brain children, coincidentally, use to dream up imaginary friends. The biology enabled the dream.

          • Weesh, plenty. Try researching it yourself. Laurence McKinney (Neurotheology) is an excellent jumping off point.I’d strongly recommend reading his book. He’s very much in-line with your thinking, a spiritualist looking for physical explanations. I think you’d really enjoy the read.

          • Plenty, John, yet you named only one? 🙂 Are you referring to his work Neurotheology:Virtuall Religion in the 21st Century(1994)?

            John, are you up to dates with development research on psychology of religion? Simply read March 21th 2012 New Scientist magazine, you will discover that current knowledge is that children are preinstalled to believes in gods. Childrens “minds are naturally tuned up to believe in gods”(Barrett)

            Back in 4th February 2009, in New Scientist, Michael Brooks contended that science after 1970s indicates that “our minds are finely tuned to believes in gods”(Brooks)

            So, I would like to know which authority you have read since modern knowledge in this field stand against your claims, John. According to up to date research, John, children are born preprogramed to believe, contrary to what you and Larry believe.

            Prayson

          • I gave you one starting point. You, sir, have to do the research yourself. I’m not your mother. And yes, that’s the work. Well worth a read. Supremely well researched and put together.

            Now, you’re quoting one person, Barrett, and he actually has no ‘proof’, just concepts based on what the frontal cortex is capable of. He doesn’t say ‘god exists,’ does he? Come on, Prayson, you’re bigger than that, i hope. Look into the subject of childhood imaginary friends. You’ll find wonderful insights in that field as to how the brain develops and why we have the capacity to dream up imaginary friends… like gods.

          • Mama John 🙂 that would be cool.

            Well John, Barrett, Brooks, and Bloom have done a brilliant research John. For New Scientist magazine to feature them, on this field, it tells you their position among scientists in current research 🙂

            I hope John you will at least read New Scientist magazine to update your knowledge on this field in contemporary development research.

            Have a good afternoon.
            Prayson

          • I have read it. It was a great piece. It didn’t however produce any indication to a god, rather the ‘possible’ biology of imaginative dreamings. That subject has been active for decades. Delve a little deeper and you’ll see for yourself. Prayson, there is no god. It’s a supercharged human notion of extra-ordinary terrestrial authority. That’s it.

          • John, how did the discussion on children born atheist ended with case for non-existence of God? 🙂

            My point was to show that the claim offered by you and Larry is at odd with contemporary study on this field. 🙂

            That was the focus and unlike many who easily straw away in chase of red herrings, I fight myself, as hard as I can, to remain focused on the topic at hand.

            Perhaps we could discuss the case for existence or nonexistent of God in the future 🙂

            Thank you for a brilliant exchange John. You are an awesome atheist blog friend I admire. You rock John.

            Prayson

      • People have a TENDENCY to be religious. This is obvious + has been discussed by people like Dawkins for years. Of course children are naturally predisposed to be religious IF they are brainwashed into believing it.

        This is because humans are superstitious animals + we look for meaning where there is none. We are highly predisposed towards believing that our actions are more important and more meaningful than they are, to find patterns when they aren’t there, etc.

        A baby is born an atheist. It will stay an atheist as a child unless it is told about religion over and over again as if it’s fact. It would believe there’s a teapot orbitting the Earth if it were told that over and over again as if it’s fact as well. That says NOTHING about the truth of religion, NOTHING about the truth of the teapot and NOTHING about whether or not a baby is born atheist.

        Prayson, please, stop these nonsensical leaps in your thinking.

      • Sorry if that comment seemed harsh btw. Not my intention but I was a bit annoyed when I read your comment, simply because it seemed to misinterpret the scientific article. I do understand what you are saying Prayson. But the article was saying there is a tendency for us to succumb to such logical thinking traps as religion, simply because it is one of our flaws. It is not saying we are born religious.

        • I am used to harsh words Larry 🙂 Your comment, though stingy, is far from harsh.

          My point Larry was to show that the current understanding is that we are finely tuned to believe in superbeings from birth. That does not show that those believes are true but that we are not born tuned to belief of no superbeings(atheism).

          Larry I quoted Barrett, Brooks, and Bloom own words. Do please show where I misinterpret their work?

          Dawkins’ indoctrination theory does not find favor in current research as reported by Barrett.

          I am open for correcting Larry. Could you give me reasons why you believe children are born atheist?

      • “My point Larry was to show that the current understanding is that we are finely tuned to believe in superbeings from birth.”

        We have a tendency towards superstitious thinking of EVERY kind. We are prone to believing in ghosts, psychics and any kind of irrational thinking. It isn’t just the idea of God. So yes, we are predisposed towards superstitious thinking.

        “Thus does not show that those believes are true but that we are not born tuned to belief of no superbeings(atheism).”

        Well now you’ve moved the goalpost. My claim was that we are born atheist, which is true. We are born believing in no gods. If we are convinced by well-meaning people that superstitions are true later on in our lives, considering we have a tendency towards logically false superstitious ways of thinking, we may believe them.

        “Dawkins’ indoctrination theory does not find favor in current research as reported by Barrett.”

        Yes it does as I’ve explained above.

        • Could you defend your claim Larry that “we are born atheist, which is true. We are born believing in no gods”? Do you know of any up to date research done, I ought to read, that support your claim?

      • Prayson, are we born speaking English? Are we born already knowing the English language?

        No. We have to learn it. We find it comfortable to learn it over years of conditioning because of the way our minds work.

        Bear in mind the English language is a human invention.

        English is a useful thing to learn. But there are many things that aren’t useful to learn. Like religion. Religion is another human invention that we have to learn, but this one has many false claims, as has been shown time and time again through logical thinking.

        • Could you back up what you claim Larry with up to date research in developmental psychology, cognitive science of religion and cognitive anthropology?

          I would love to believe what you believe Larry, but I am asking for contemporary research(es) to back up those claims before I join you?

          Could you be kind to direct me, Larry?

      • For example, I became religious because my parents were religious, I went to church every week, got read Bible stories every night, and saw it as a really good thing. I loved God because I had learnt all about him through these stories.

        Without this conditioning (indoctrinating) I would have been an atheist all my life.

        So you didn’t need to learn about religion before you decided to become religious, Prayson? Is that what you’re saying?

        • Larry, I am not saying anything at the moment, I am simply asking you to back up your claims with current researched works. That is all.

          Maybe you are correct 🙂 But before I believe what you believe, I would like you to point me to any up to date research in this field supporting your claims?

          • This sums it up perfectly:

            “If every trace of any single religion were wiped out and nothing were passed on, it would never be created exactly that way again. There might be some other nonsense in its place, but not that exact nonsense. If all of science were wiped out, it would still be true and someone would find a way to figure it all out again.”
            ― Penn Jillette

      • Prayson,

        Please could you point me to a verified scientific source showing the latest opinion on whether or not humans have eyes?

        No you couldn’t. Because it’s so obvious there isn’t one.

        Same with the babies being born atheist thing.

        • Larry, turning the guns around is not providing up to date research in developmental psychology, cognitive science of religion and cognitive anthropology?

          Throwing red herrings of research showing humans have eyes will not do Larry.

          I can provide you with up to date known researches that say contrary to what you claim, but before I do that, I recall that it was you who claimed that we are born atheists, so I hope you can bear the burden of proof, to show that is the case Larry 🙂

      • If you would like to do the same, please do. It would be interesting reading your thoughts on whether babies are born atheist too. It seems like a highly debated issue here.

        • Thank you Larry. I would love to write, “Born Atheists, Default Position And Burden of Proof” in the near future.

          It is interesting to know even atheists do not agree on being born atheist. Example ex-atheist late Antony Flew held that atheism is a default position in absence of evidence while Kai Nielsen holds that even if all arguments for God fails, God may still exists, thus atheists need to give reasons for believing God does not exist(or for believing their unbelief).

          Here are lists of researches on this field of developmental psychology, cognitive science of religion and cognitive anthropology dealing with this issue(I can send you,Larry, the last 3 journal articles on PDF if you would want me to).

          1. Scott Atran, atheist anthropologist, in his book “In Gods We Trust”(2002)

          2. Pascal Boyer, atheist evolutionary psychologist and anthropologist, “Religion Explained”(2001)

          3. Deborah Kelemen, psychologist based on research in cognitive development,”Are Children “Intuitive Theists”? in Psychological Science Journals May 2004 15: 295-301

          4. Philippe Rochat, Tricia Striano, Rachel Morgan, “Who is doing what to whom? Young infants’ developing sense of social causality in animated displays”, Perception Journal 2004: Vol. 33: 355-369

          5. Justin L. Barrett and Amanda Johnson, ” The Role of Control in Attributing Intentional Agency to Inanimate Objects”, Journal of Cognition and Culture 3.3 2003 208-217

          Good studying and I am looking forward to your article. No matter what Larry follow where the evidence will lead you.

          Thank you Larry for everything. You are the best 🙂
          Prayson

      • The problem with debating this Prayson is the atheist do not believe the Bible is true. We believe it’s a history book/user guide/instruction manual (us being the users) and they believe its fiction. So the two camps will forever be deadlocked in their respective beliefs. I can tell them that God spoke to me and removed a terrible addiction and also came to me in a dream, which saved my life by avoiding a car accident, but they would not believe me. Many thousands of people have experienced miracles but they will not believe them either.

        If they were born atheists it justifies there denial of God, plain and simple. So they will never admit anything other than that.

        A good read is Dr. Andrew Newberg’s, a neuroscientist and author of “Why We Believe What We Believe”

        Newberg calls religion the great equalizer and points out that similar areas of the brain are affected during prayer and meditation. Newberg suggests that these brain scans may provide proof that our brains are built to believe in God. He says there may be universal features of the human mind that actually make it easier for us to believe in a higher power.

        • Hej Roy.

          It is true that atheists and theists begin with two different metaphysical position in this debate but as Paul in Athens, Christians need to contextualize their message that it may be understood to those who do not hold the same position.

          We, Christians, ought to use words that are familiar to them, thus Jesus in us, or speaking with God, quoting Scripture as authoritative et cetera to them is pure nonsense and we ought to understand that.

          I think we ought to find common ground, use the language they understand and in short, precise, clear and simple expound our convictions and if God will, we all may come to know Him.

          Prayson

      • Prayson, you mentioned us being “hardwired” to believe in God . I would use the word “designed”.

        God formed man from the dust and gave him life by sharing His own breath (Genesis 2:7). Accordingly, man is unique among all God’s creations, having both a material body and an immaterial soul/spirit. Mentally, man was created as a rational, volitional agent. In other words, man can reason and man can choose.

        As we being children of God, think of what most Earthly fathers want? A relationship. So it is with God too. We are designed to mentally “connect” with God. He wants to bless us and wants us to glorify Him. He wants our obedience and love and wants to love us back, just like every/most Earthly fathers do.

        This analogy was told to me as a young man so it’s simple to understand….Think of God as a radio station that is broadcasting worldwide. We are the receivers and to connect to God’s “station” we have to freely choose to “tune-in”. We HAVE to turn the dial in our minds to God’s channel.

        • I think Michael Brooks would agree, he used “finely tuned to believe”.

          To make it clear, Roy, Barrett did not use hardwired as religion is hardwired in children but that children “propensities to believe in gods because of how their minds naturally work”. It is like they are preprogrammed to believe.

          Some atheists psychologists would disagree on the term “designed” because of the war between Intelligent Design and Neo-Evolutionary theory.

          Yours,
          Prayson

      • Larry and John want proof we are not born atheist.

        To claim we are all born atheist is to employ a faulty definition of atheism as “a lack of belief in God.” So defined, atheism is relegated to a psychological state rather than a rational claim regarding the truthfulness of a particular proposition. This is not only a departure from the historic definition of atheism, but it guts it of any rational significance. Atheism is not a lack of belief in God. That is more properly described as “agnosticism.” Atheism is the belief that the proposition “God exists” is false. No baby is born with that belief, and thus no baby is born an atheist.

        Thomas Henry Huxley coined the term agnostic in 1869. He explained that he noted two extremes: one was the atheist who positively affirmed God’s non-existence (claiming to know that God did not exist) and the other was the theists who positively affirmed God’s existence (claiming to know that God exists). Huxley said that he did not possess enough evidence to affirm positively either position. Thus, he coined a term which he saw as a middle position, which was that of lacking knowledge to decide either way (whether such knowledge actually exists outside of his personal knowledge or may someday be discovered is another issue).

        Like I said earlier, being “raised” Christian, Muslim, atheist, or whatever is irrelevant. When that person is old enough to reason or has gained enough life experience and knowledge to make rational decisions about their personal beliefs regarding the existence of God, or their spiritual status, then they can make their choice as to whether or not to believe.

        • It depends on what you mean by religious Larry.

          I hold what atheist anthropologist, Scott Atran, held that “The concept of the supernatural is culturally derived from an innate cognitive schema” and concluded with psychologist Deborah Kelemen that children are “intuitive theists”.

          So my straight answer is yes and not, Larry.

      • Hi Prayson, my blog post is now ready. If you would like to discuss it there then I understand, because really this post is about Obama, not being born atheist, and I don’t want to derail the topic you set in this post.

  9. A few thoughts on president Obama:

    I have no doubt he was very sincere in his address. He seemed deeply touched and he responded in was way any of us Christians would have responded.

    I also took him at his word when he says he believes in Jesus and is a Christian. However I was deeply disappointed when I heard him say in an interview that Jesus is not the only way to the Father. That other religions are legitimate way to heaven.

    I was also shocked to see that the supports what John MacArthur called the “Romans 1” platform.

    I am also so sad about his stance on abortion…

    On a hopeful note… I am looking forward to checking out you blog

    • You are so welcome Delight in Truth.

      Obama is an awesome president, humble, tactical and very smart. I do not doubt Obama’s Christianity, though I think what he believes does not align with his politics some times.

      Example I think Obama’s lamenting, “[t]he majority of those who died today were children — beautiful, little kids between the ages of 5 and 10 years old. They had their entire lives ahead of them — birthdays, graduations, weddings, kids of their own.” is in opposition with his political position on abortion, for one could contend that abortion takes away unborn’s entire lives ahead of them.

      So if it is prima facie wrong of a person to steal another persons entire lives ahead of them, and abortion is stealing another persons entire lives ahead of them, then it would follow that it is prima facie wrong to abort.

      Thank you and hope to get to know you.

      Prayson

  10. I’m following this discussion and noticing, as I often notice when I follow discussions between atheists and believers, that the atheist is the one who’s bringing up valid, logical and heartfelt points whereas the believer supplies nothing but irrelevancies, intellectually dishonest arguments and a numbing litany of scripture quotes.

    I can see, Prayson, that you’re intelligent and sincere and I really do respect that; but are you firm in your belief that an atheist president would be incapable of consoling the bereaved, or of generating compassion for those who’ve suffered loss, or of appreciating the moral dimension of what happened at Sandy Hook?

    I’m someone who, like you, puts the cross at the center of his life. I go to Mass every day. I pray constantly; but I’m offended by the relentless disrespect that believers tend to show to atheists. As often as not, Christians embarrass me.

    Paul

    • Hej Paul,

      Thank you for your input and concern. I do know Paul that an atheist president would be able to comfort people in times of need.

      Paul the aim of the post was to show what Obama would have said if he said constancy with what he believed. I argued that if Obama was a new atheist and bound by that belief he would not say what he said.

      I think atheistic worldview is false because it is unlivable. Atheists do not live constancy with what they believe as Nietzsche and Sartre long ago expounded.

      Paul, I pray and hope you would read most of my posts and read my comments below and judge me if I am that Christian that gives you shame.

      Ask Robert, John, Larry, Crystal and other atheists reading my posts, following my blog and regularly comments if your observation is true Paul.

      Yours,
      Prayson

      • Prayson, please do yourself (and Atheists) a favour and stop hammering the Nietzsche/Sartre angle. Hitting on this so relentlessly is coming across as obtuse and, quite frankly, argumentatively shallow. I like you, but Banana Republics aren’t just limited to economics. Respectfully.

      • Hi Prayson,

        I certainly commend you for commanding the respect of people who believe differently. I hope to learn from your example.

        I am sorry that you took my comment for more than I intended. I certainly owe you an apology if I left you and your visitors with the sense that I was pointing to Prayson Daniel as an example of a “Christian that gives [me] shame”. I actually used the word ’embarrass’ but I probably need to find a softer word than that.

        John Zande, in an obvious attempt to be provocative, commented, “God HATES Shrimp” and you correctly pointed out that he was being unfair to believers by cherry picking a single verse out of context and insisting that we Christians need to act in accordance with a precept that, to those of us who know the scriptures, seems to have been overruled by the Vision of St. Peter as it was recorded in Acts 10.

        When you say, ” Atheists do not live constancy with what they believe as Nietzsche and Sartre long ago expounded.” are you not being every bit as unfair as Zande? Maybe you’re being MORE unfair that he is because atheists don’t revere any particular document — written by Nietzsche, Sartre or anyone else — in the way we Christians revere the Bible.

        You claim that the atheistic worldview is unlivable, but any “worldview”, including the Christian worldview, would be unlivable for the person who attempted to conform to it in a robotic and completely literal manner. Atheists, responding to a gross injustice such as the one at Sandy Hook, certainly don’t refer to Dawkin’s insights about ‘selfish genes’ in order to make sense of its moral dimension.

        A physicist will be able to demonstrate that every atom in the universe adheres to the law F=ma. Taken to an extreme, belief in that natural law would seem to indicate that notions of free will, or moral accountability are unsupportable. But that’s not how actual physicists organize their actual lives. It turns out that a belief in physics, or in evolutionary biology, or in genetics doesn’t preclude someone from utilizing a moral framework in her/his dealings with others.

        An atheist, or anyone, would be a complete ass if s/he tried to engage a grieving parent with a discussion of molecular indifference to ethical principles.

        I listened to the president’s address last night and thought it was intelligent and humane, but not because he kept bringing God up. The integrity of the president’s remarks derived from his acknowledgement that “we must change” if we’re to protect ourselves from future heartbreaks. I don’t see any reason an atheist would have trouble understanding the sense in that.

        I have more to say about it on my own blog: http://reflectionsofacatholicchristian.wordpress.com/2012/12/17/chatter-in-the-blogosphere/#more-371

        Paul

        • You are very correct Paul in many points. Unlike physics, atheism and theism affect the way we see the world around us in a profound way.

          Sadly many atheists and theists come near to their beliefs with their mouth and honor them with their lips, but their hearts are far from what they believe.

          Paul, I use Nietzsche, Sartre and the like, because they called for constancy of beliefs of mouth and hearts/practice. If you read New Atheist:Nietzsche’ English Flatheads? I defended the notion that new atheists hold, namely objective morality without God, is simply unreasonable.

          Many Christians also live inconstancy with what they believe. I am one of them.

          Prayson

        • Paul, i wasn’t trying to be directly confrontational (i believe Prayson understands this) rather present a valid counter-argument to the poster spewing out bible verses. He was cherry picking so i choose to do the exact same thing. I could sit here for days posting contradictory, offensive, illegal passages from the bible, but i won’t. That’s not the point. One simple God HATES shrimp is enough to demonstrate the bible is bunk. I know you don’t like hearing that, i appreciate it and i sympathize, but people quoting bible verses as if they were the “word” of your god drive me seriously nuts. If it were such a document then the whole thing should be defendable, not just the nice little sentences and meandering philosophical niceties. My point was this: quoting the bible advances no argument. Believe in a god if you choose. If it makes you feel good, great. I will not stand in your way. But quote some sand manual as if it were some sort of truth and i will stand up and defend rationality.

  11. God has predetermined everything which comes to pass. Romans 9:19B says, “Who has resisted His will?” Verse 21 says, “Has not the Potter power over the clay?” He makes of the same lump vessels of honor, and vessels of dishonor. God, willing to show His wrath, and to make His power known, has been patient with the vessels of wrath which He has created and fitted for destruction. Proverbs 16:1 says that “the preparations of the heart in man, and the answer of the tongue” are from God. Verse 4 says that God has “made all things for Himself; yes, even the wicked for the day of evil”.

    Genesis 50:20 makes it crystal clear that God uses evil for the greater and ultimate good, bringing it to pass, to save many people.

    And Romans 8:28 states that all things work together for good, for God’s people; even events such as yesterday.

    It is very possible, and even likely, that Adam Lanza is now subject to the torments of Hell, which have no end. In Mark 9:48, Christ declared of Hell that there, the “worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched”. If Lanza’s sins were not imputed to Christ, and Christ’s righteousness was not imputed to Lanza, then Lanza will pay for his sins in Hell for eternity.

      • John that is simply out of context and out of what this post(red herrings) is about. I am sadden that you brought that in our debate here.

        If you would love, I could write an article Does God hate Shrimps? then we could discuss it 🙂

        • Prayson, it’s not out of context at all. This poster was quoting scripture as if it were 100% gods word and should be adhered to for that reason. I merely quoted scripture, too. God HATES shrimp. It’s written, so it must be true.

          • Yes indeed it quotes Scripture John but what is related to the topic. John where does God hating shrimps comes in?

            Say I grant that it is relevant to Shooting, Obama and times of need, John, should we look at Leviticus 11 and exposit in its proper context and see if you firstly used it correctly and second if it is relevant to our discussion?

            John, I know you are far better than throwing in whatever arsenal one has simply for debate sake. In our dialogues before, John, you shined with reasons and deep critics that showed brilliance. Could I ask for that John back? 🙂

            Prayson

          • I have to say you’re ignoring the poignancy of this. One cannot quote ‘parts’ of scripture and claim it to be infallible while simply ignoring other parts that clearly contradict that assumption. If scripture is infallible then most (if not all) Christians are going to burn in hell for eating shrimp. It’s written, so it must be true. My point is, the bible is bunk, and throwing out ‘bit’s’ (which the poster above was doing incessantly) neither advances an argument or gets anyone closer to any truth. He wants to quote scripture, great! Then so will I to prove its useless. As always, respectfully.

          • John, my point was not that we should use a part of the Bible while leaving other parts out. My point was that the passages you are bringing up of God prohibiting Israel from eating fish without scales and other animals, like pigs, rabbits, vultures et cetera are not only used out of context but a red herrings to the topic at hand.

            Let me expound. Say we were debating laws of private properties in our constitution and one of us, Mr. X, pop out with: “Do not rape, America’s constitution hates rapists”. And we ask where on earth did that comes from. And to that Mr. X answers, “well, it is in the same constitution.”

            What would you think of Mr. X John? Do you think Mr. X comment, even if true, is relevant to the debate of laws of private properties?

            Prayson

          • Quite on the contrary: that would be perfectly valid because it would draw into question the validity and usefulness of the entire constitution. You don’t see that, do you? You really can’t see the forest for the trees. Picking and choosing certain verses means nothing if the document cannot be defended (as a whole) as right and true.

          • Next? Well, logically we must assume your god hating shrimp is ludicrous. Why would a god hate a crustacean? It’s insane and indicates the bible is itself ludicrous: a collection of fairy tales fashioned by people unable to explain thunder, let alone clouds. My point was simple: the poster was spewing out scripture like it actually meant something. It doesn’t. It’s foolish gibberish. Now, you and i might disagree on the existence of your god, but even you have to admit the bible is utter nonsense and those who quote from it should be singled out for mockery, which is precisely what i did by quoting Leviticus.

  12. Pingback: Epicurus and The Problem of Evil « Allallt in discussion

  13. Great post Prayson, your insight and love is evident to me in every thought you expressed.

    My prayers are not for the innocent children for they have peace, but for the family members still here. My prayer is they can find peace and forgive the monster that took their loved one away from them.

    “Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.” Nelson Mandela

    “Forgiveness is a door to peace and happiness. It is a small, narrow door, and cannot be entered without stooping. It is also hard to find. But no matter how long the search, it can be found. At least that is what the men and women in this book have discovered. By reading their stories, perhaps you, too, will be led to the door of forgiveness. Just remember that once there, only you can open it.” Johann Christoph Arnold

    If interested, read Johann’s book titled Why Forgive. (PDF format)

    http://cdn.plough.com/~/media/Files/Plough/ebooks/pdfs/w/whyforgiveEN.pdf

    This tragic event is just one of MANY in our long history and everyday, somewhere in the world, there are senseless deaths committed by the hand of man, nature or accident, and we ask, “Why do you sit idly by God?”

    God is eternal, infinite, omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent. Why should human beings (not eternal, infinite, omniscient, omnipresent, or omnipotent) expect to be able to fully understand God’s ways? The book of Job deals with this issue. God had allowed Satan to do everything he wanted to Job except kill him. What was Job’s reaction? “Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him” (Job 13:15). “The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised” (Job 1:21). Job did not understand why God had allowed the things He did, but he knew God was good and therefore continued to trust in Him. Ultimately, that should be our reaction as well.

    Yes, sometimes bad things happen to people who seem undeserving of them. But God allows things to happen for His reasons, whether or not we understand them. Above all, however, we must remember that God is good, just, loving, and merciful. Often things happen to us that we simply cannot understand. However, instead of doubting God’s goodness, our reaction should be to trust Him. ”Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:5-6).

    • Hang on. You argue that we cannot possibly understand God’ reasons, but then say “God is good, just, loving, and merciful”. Which is it? You can’t have it both ways

      • It’s not an argument Robert and I’ll explain why it IS both ways.

        “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” Cor 5:17

        “And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.” Rev 21:5

        Man cannot accomplish what is written in these passages. He cannot make things new. He can make a new something, but he cannot take an existing something and make it new. What is worse, any new thing man creates immediately loses its newness.

        This is not so with God. He can take an existing something, say an imperfect 51 year old father of five, and make it new again. He not only can, but he will. What is more, the newness will never wear off.

        This concept confuses me, but it also leads to great comfort. It reminds me of something I once read in an article concerning man’s inability to comprehend God’s nature:

        “There are none like God. Nothing about which we know of is in any real way like God. Therefore, our language fails to define the divine.” (or something like that)

        I’ll admit that at first, I was troubled by this. I have always believed that through some combination of carefully chosen words, one can successfully convey even the most abstract thought.

        But the author of the article is right. When it comes to understanding God, our language is insufficient; thus I cannot truly appreciate His assertion in Revelation that He is making all things new. Further, I cannot truly understand about God much of what I once thought I could. I have no idea what “omnipotence” or “omniscience” truly entails. I don’t know what “holy” really is. I know what it means, but I can never understand what “holiness” is in the same way that I understand “happiness” or “loneliness.”

        This, of course, is not a new problem for me or others. We have wrestled with trying to make sense of God since the Fall. It became important to me because 1) it is another reminder of just how far removed from God I would be were it not for his love and mercy; and 2) because as I mentioned, it was at first quite disillusioning to realize how little I knew about God. Why, the very language I use to describe God in no way comes close to accurately describing him!

        What had given me great pause now gives me great comfort. I realized that I should be overjoyed that I do not understand God’s nature as completely as I understand other things. If I could, God would be of no use to me. His nature would be flawed, and He could do little more to save me from my sin than anyone else could.

        Bringing God’s idea of love down to my level of comprehension immediately reduces the power of that love. I have five children. Would I condemn one of them to a gruesome death to save anyone who has sinned against me? Emphatically, no! But God did. What more do I need to understand about His decision to do so? And why should I, the perpetrator, feel entitled to such understanding?

        God owes me nothing, yet has given me everything. What more could I want? I should simply take His advice and take comfort in the fact that He is God. He is a power beyond my understanding and, thus, the only one capable of reversing my wretched condition, the only one capable of making me new.

        The Bible tells us that God is just. This means that He is fair and impartial. Many times in the Bible God is pictured as a judge. The Bible says that He will one day judge the world.

        “The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love.” Psalm 145:8

        “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” 1 John 4:8

        Thinking about His love reminds me of an awesome song written by Benny Hester.
        ***
        Almighty God, The Great I Am
        Immoveable Rock, Omnipotent powerful

        Awesome Lord, Victorious Warrior
        Commanding King of Kings, Mighty Conqueror

        And the only time
        The only time I ever saw Him run

        Was when He ran to me
        Took me in His arms, held my head to His chest
        Said “My son’s come home again”
        Lifted my face, wiped the tears from my eyes
        With forgiveness in His voice
        He said “Son, do you know I still love you?”

        It caught me by surprise when God ran

        The day I left home
        I knew I’d broken His heart
        I wondered then
        If things could ever be the same

        Then one night
        I remembered His love for me
        And down that dusty road
        Ahead I could see

        It’s the only time
        The only time I ever saw Him run

        When He ran to me
        Took me in His arms, held my head to His chest
        Said “My son’s come home again”
        Lifted my face, wiped the tears from my eyes
        With forgiveness in His voice
        He said “Son, do you know I still love you?”

        It caught me by surprise
        It brought me to my knees
        When God ran

        I saw Him run to me
        And then I ran to Him

        Holy One, Righteous Judge
        He turned my way
        Now I know He’s been waiting
        For this day

    • Could you have given me a short and concise answer? You said an awful lot without getting to the point of the matter. You write words cannot describe God. Then what is the Bible? What is that except God telling us about himself, his rules etc. Should all the priests be silent?

      “What had given me great pause now gives me great comfort. I realized that I should be overjoyed that I do not understand God’s nature as completely as I understand other things. If I could, God would be of no use to me. His nature would be flawed, and He could do little more to save me from my sin than anyone else could.”
      Ok you completely lose me at this point. You are rejoicing in your ignorance. I’m sorry but I love knowledge and understanding, so simply saying don’t question just accept will never be good enough for me. How does understanding God make him useless? How does it stop his powers from working? If ignorance is so great, shouldn’t God be silent and not have given us religion?

      You say you would never torture your own child but God did, therefore God is great. Why? Why does that not make him a heartless monster? How do you torture someone out of love?

      “God owes me nothing, yet has given me everything.” No he hasn’t

      You end by quoting a song in its entirety. Seriously, man there’s a thing called relevance and brevity. Keep it short and to the point. I don’t want to sound mean, but if you keep your comments as long as an essay nobody will read them.

      • The song is relevant, but only to believers. My post is not only a reply to you but for all readers.

        I have been told my posts are too long by others as well, but it is not because of self-indulgence.

        All I can tell you are my thoughts. I do not speak for anyone else.

        You twist my words around about my understanding of God but those readers who lives have been touched by God in a personal way, like myself, know exactly what I am talking about. It never fails to bring tears to my eyes when I think about when God ran to me and took me in His arms and said, “Son, do you know I still love you”.

        “Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces.” Math 7:6

        Dogs and swine in this context are those who are hostile to the gospel (the good news). There are many who hear the gospel, but do not receive it and even mock the sharing of the truth of salvation through Jesus Christ.

        The Pearls of the precious gospel is foolishness to those who do not want to believe. They are blinded by the god of this age (2Cr 4:4). The gospel is foolishness to them: “But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” 2Cr 2:14.

        Instead of receiving the gospel with joy as many do, they ridicule and reject the good news of salvation and eternal life. Jesus is basically saying, don’t waste your time on those who will not hear, they are too blind to see and they do not want to come to the knowledge of the truth but in return mock and ridicule the Christian who shares with them.

        This should not discourage me from sharing the gospel, but if rejected over and over again by the same person(s) I am witnessing to, than I need to know when to stop and let the Holy Spirit do the work on that persons heart, if He so chooses, Christians can not save anybody, it is God that saves.

        There are many that are seeking the truth, the truth is in Jesus Christ and what He has done for us. He paid our penalty that was due, because God loved us even when we were yet sinners. He demonstrated His love for us at he cross.

        Peace

      • Ah very good, thank you Robert.

        ‘Talking to myself’ took my memory back years when we were studying that very thing. Psalm 27 and 103

        While I am sure you will not appreciate this, some will…
        ***
        Do you talk to yourself?

        I don’t mean when you’re wrestling through your taxes or walking through your to-do list. But do you talk to yourself, really? When you are fearful, do you command your soul to trust in the Lord? When your affections are low, do you command your heart to bless the Lord? As Paul Tripp is fond of saying, “no one is more influential in your life than you are because no one talks to you more than you do.”

        In the particularly difficult moments of th day, how do you talk to yourself? How do you specifically exhort yourself to hope in God?

        Psalm 103 has been helpful for me as a pattern for commanding my soul in seasons of low affection. The Psalm begins (Psalm 103:1–2) and ends (Psalm 103:20–22) with David’s exhortation to his own soul to bless the Lord. While there is much to draw out of this rich text, I’d like to highlight two observations:

        1. Remind yourself of what the Lord has done.
        2. Hold fast to a specific truth about the Lord.

        The point is that you are constantly involved in an internal conversation that greatly influences the things you decide, say, and do. In Psalm 27, David lets us eavesdrop on his internal conversation. He’s exhorting himself, in the midst of his trouble, not to run away from God, but to run toward him. Now that’s good self-counsel!

        Confess that you don’t counsel yourself very well, learn how, and rest in the rescuing grace of the One who is called the Wonderful Counselor.

  14. Its interesting to see how two people can look at the same event and draw opposite conclusions. You look at the shooting and have your Christian beliefs confirmed, whereas I feel the shooting confirms my atheist beliefs.

    What sort of God would allow innocent children to be massacred?

    If God loves us all and sees all, then why didn’t he stop the shooting? Why did he stand idly by while children were being slaughtered? He heard every cry for help, he felt the fear and pain of every child and despite having all the power in the world, he did nothing? How can you worship this God? How can you call him loving? How can you pray to him, if he won’t save innocent children, why would he help you?

    Prayson, I greatly respect your opinions and I love debating with you, but I cannot agree with your position. For the children of Newtown, there is no God.

    • Very interesting indeed. It is a deep questions Robert. What sort of God would allow innocent children to be massacred? I would add, what sort of God, that became man, to be cruelly crucified on the cross?

      I do not know Robert, why, but I know that if God, the God of the Bible exists, He does have good reason(s) not to top the shooting. I have defended elsewhere that problem of evil and suffering does not questions the existence of God.

      Thank you Robert for respecting my thoughts and I do also love dialoguing with you and I am grateful you do not agree with my position. I totally respect your positions Robert. You rock.

      Yours,
      Prayson

      • You do not know why there is evil but you do God exists and is loving. Do you not see the contradiction? What is the difference between this and simply believing whatever you want regardless of evidence or logic? Christians cannot claim to know the mind of God and yet believe him to be mysterious. The Bible claims to have all the answers, it leaves no room for mysteries. You can believe in mysteries or the Bible, but not both.

      • The law of contradiction states that two antithetical propositions cannot both be true at the same time and in the same sense. Could you show me, Robert the contradiction?

      • You say you do not know why God allows children to be massacred but in the next sentence you argue that he does have good reasons. How do you know? It is a contradiction to claim that you don’t know God’s reasons but in the next sentence claim you do.

        Thanks as always for a great debate, I really feel we’re getting somewhere.

        • Robert, for there to be a contradiction, I would need to say I do not know why God allow the massacre of children, call (not-A), and I do know why God allow the massacre of children (A) thus I would be claiming A and not-A at the same time and same sense.

          Claim not-A and it is possible that God has good reason(s) to allow evil (call B) is far from contradiction Robert.

          We are getting somewhere Robert 🙂

      • Ah your rowing back now. Originally it was a statement that he had a good reason, now its a possibility. Maybe I can argue you down to a ‘wish’? It is not a complete and direct contradiction, but you are saying you don’t know the mind of God (A) but it is probably well intentioned (B). Now if B is only a guess or what you want to be true, then there is no contradiction. However, if you believe B is a fact, then you’re contradicting yourself.

        Your move.

        • Well Robert, let me expound. Say my wife is late home and you asked me, why is your wife late? I answer, I do not know, but I know she does have good reasons(s) to be late since I know her character.

          Would I be contradicting myself, Robert? Your move. 🙂

      • Well played. The problem is we are not talking about someone we know well, but rather someone we have never met. There is no possibility for verification, so we can only guess. So while you can ask your wife her reason and find out if you were right, we can’t ask God. So we are in effect blind guessing with our gut. This is why I’m no fan of people who are quick to state God is good.

      • Thank you Robert. I am glad to know that you are no fan of people who are quick to state God is good.

        You missed my point though Robert. The point was to show that there is no contradictions in my claim. Can you now see Robert?

        Your move 😀

      • Ok lets get back to basics. Do you believe A God is good and unknown (which is a contradiction) or B you presume/wish/want God to be good? That’s what it boils down to

        • Before we get to the basics Robert, can you see that there is no contradictions between the claim that A. I do not know why my wife is late and B. I do know she has good reasons to be late?

          Do you agree that there is no contradiction in A and B Robert?

      • Robert, the question is not, is there a problem with my anology, which we will take it later, but is there contradiction.

        I wish to show first that there is no contradiction between the two claims, then from there we could talk about if there is a problem

        Do you agree Robert that there is no contradiction with claim A and B?

    • “Its interesting to see how two people can look at the same event and draw opposite conclusions.”

      And that right there is the whole reality of consciousness and therefore life itself.

  15. If Obama was an Atheist he would have cried at this terrible tragedy. For an atheist death is the end so we mourn the loss of these children who will never feel again. Whereas for Christians there is nothing bad about death, especially if it leads to Heaven. So if you take it to its logical extreme, atheists cry at funerals but Christians rejoice.

    In a literal sense no Christian should be sad over what happened as the children are now in Heaven, which is far better than anything on Earth. Therefore literal Christians (I understand most don’t think like this) should see the Newtown Massacre as a good thing that made the children far better off. I am presuming all children go to Heaven, for all we know some of those children may not have been raised Christian and therefore are going to Hell.

    • Thank you Robert. This is another awesome comment worthy of answering.

      I think if Obama was an Atheist, he would have cried at this terrible tragedy, but his cry would betray his atheistic belief. If “human beings are simply machines for propagating DNA, and the propagation of DNA is a self-sustaining process. It is every living object’s sole reason for living.” as Dawkins put it, why would he cry?

      If we are simply an accidental by-product of nature, a result of matter plus time plus chance and are going to face death, now individually and all in future death of the universe, why would he cry? Should we pretend as Bertrand Russell that our lives are “the firm foundation of unyielding despair.” (Russell 1957:107)?

      Christians do not weep primarily for those who are gone but with those who left behind. We weep because we know humans are not simply machines for propagating DNA but much more. But we weep with joy and hope that life does not end at the grave. We know we will see them again.

      Yours,
      Prayson

      Russell, Bertrand(1957) “A Free Man’s Worship,” in Why I Am Not a Christian, ed. P. Edwards. New York: Simon & Schuster.

      • You fighting a strawman. Atheists do not live in a cold and unemotional world devoid of all feelings. We are not empty robots. We understand humanity as well as the next person. Just because the sole purpose of our existence is reproduction doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy and cherish life. There is birth and there is death, but there is a huge amount in between. It would be wrong to focus just on either end.

        Now I’ve answer you point, can you answer mine? Should Christians not rejoice that these children are now in Heaven?

      • Correct me if I’m wrong but are you suggesting that Atheists should be cold and unemotional if they were true to their beliefs? Or do I misunderstand you? This would be taking it to an extreme that few atheists actually go. Taken to its extreme I could argue that Christians should rejoice over the massacre as it means more souls in heaven. Of course thats an extreme position that no one takes.

        • Well, I would ask you to read atheist philosophers who have ponder the implication of atheism Robert. Jean-Paul Sartre contended that “it is necessary to draw the consequences of his [God] absence right to the end.” and as Nietzsche, Sartre saw the inconstancy of other atheists who believe the death of God and yet acts as if God is alive.

          But I think I will let you ponder Nietzsche’s The Madman:

          Have you not heard of that madman who lit a lantern in the bright morning hours, ran to the market place, and cried incessantly: “I seek God! I seek God!”—As many of those who did not believe in God were standing around just then, he provoked much laughter. Has he got lost? asked one. Did he lose his way like a child? asked another. Or is he hiding? Is he afraid of us? Has he gone on a voyage? emigrated?—Thus they yelled and laughed

          The madman jumped into their midst and pierced them with his eyes. “Whither is God?” he cried; “I will tell you. We have killed him—you and I. All of us are his murderers. But how did we do this? How could we drink up the sea? Who gave us the sponge to wipe away the entire horizon? What were we doing when we unchained this earth from its sun? Whither is it moving now? Whither are we moving? Away from all suns? Are we not plunging continually? Backward, sideward, forward, in all directions? Is there still any up or down? Are we not straying, as through an infinite nothing? Do we not feel the breath of empty space? Has it not become colder? Is not night continually closing in on us? Do we not need to light lanterns in the morning? Do we hear nothing as yet of the noise of the gravediggers who are burying God? Do we smell nothing as yet of the divine decomposition? Gods, too, decompose. God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him.

          “How shall we comfort ourselves, the murderers of all murderers? What was holiest and mightiest of all that the world has yet owned has bled to death under our knives: who will wipe this blood off us? What water is there for us to clean ourselves? What festivals of atonement, what sacred games shall we have to invent? Is not the greatness of this deed too great for us? Must we ourselves not become gods simply to appear worthy of it? There has never been a greater deed; and whoever is born after us—for the sake of this deed he will belong to a higher history than all history hitherto.”

          Here the madman fell silent and looked again at his listeners; and they, too, were silent and stared at him in astonishment. At last he threw his lantern on the ground, and it broke into pieces and went out. “I have come too early,” he said then; “my time is not yet. This tremendous event is still on its way, still wandering; it has not yet reached the ears of men. Lightning and thunder require time; the light of the stars requires time; deeds, though done, still require time to be seen and heard. This deed is still more distant from them than most distant stars—and yet they have done it themselves.

          It has been related further that on the same day the madman forced his way into several churches and there struck up his requiem aeternam deo. Led out and called to account, he is said always to have replied nothing but: “What after all are these churches now if they are not the tombs and sepulchers of God?”

          Friedrich Nietzsche, The Gay Science (1882, 1887) para. 125; Walter Kaufmann ed. (New York: Vintage, 1974), pp.181-82.]

          Robert, like the madman, you came too early not to see the implications of atheistic worldview.

          Your move, Robert.

      • I’m sorry but I’m missing the point of the story. The madman claimed we killed God so . . . what comes next? Am I claiming God is dead? Are you suggesting I find somewhere to bury God? Are you saying I have not realized the implication of God? Or that I must replace him with something else? I’m sorry but I honestly don’t understand

      • The logical implication of Christianity would be to welcome pain and suffering in this life because it will be repaid “an hundredfold” (Matthew 19:29) after a person dies… which one should celebrate.
        Unless that person is not saved, of course, then they will be justly punished “in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death” (Revelation 21:8).

        You may be able to intellectualise why life doesn’t matter on theistic and on secular philosophy. But what you can intellectualise has no bearing on the intensity of the emotions we feel.

        And you can choose to follow Dawkins and the reduction of people to DNA propagating machines if you want, but don’t think I haven’t noticed that you are ignoring atheists like Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens who champion human value and experience and life!

        • Hej Allallt. If you read my post New Atheists: Nietzsche’s English Flathead? I showed that Nietzsche and Sartre would have call new atheists who reject God yet hold to objective moral values flatheads.

          Christians welcome pain for Christ. If Christians were mistreated, and prosecuted because they chose to trust Christ, then they should welcome it with gladness and celebrate for Christ also was mistreated and prosecuted. If you had read the context of Bible quote you would have notice that Allallt. 🙂

          Yours,
          Prayson

        • He was a brilliant thinker who contended the implications of atheism(death of God). I would recommend:

          1. Beyond Good and Evil
          2. On the Genealogy of Morality
          3. The Gay Science
          4. The Twilight of the Idols.
          5. The Antichrist/ Ecce Homo

          Nietzsche was not concern with case for or against existence of God, he placed all his effort on the psychological and moral implications of atheisms once people accepts that there is no God.

          I would commend you dearly read his works and Sartre 🙂

          We will take our talk later in near future. 🙂

    • Robert, i fully agree. Theists don’t like hearing it but we atheists do value life far, far, far more than they do. We understand its value as a fleeting moment. Not saying theists “don’t” value life, but a belief in some heavenly hearth surely must eat into their appreciation of the hear and now.

  16. I am on this one with Obama. ” May God bless the memory of the victims and, in the words of Scripture, heal the brokenhearted and bind up their wounds. ” One can only pray here, this breaks the heart of anybody, especially of those who have kids…

  17. The gamble God has taken by giving us such broad freewill–if indeed that is what you believe–is tragedy like this.
    But the question is of what a secular sentiment might say to make the days a little easier for those who now live among their own shattered lives. So let me preface this: nothing will give complete consolation.

    “[m]ay God bless the memory of the victims and, in the words of Scripture, heal the brokenhearted and bind up their wounds.” — what if we swap “God” out for “America”, and change the “in the words of Scripture” to “with the love of the American people”?

    Because I don’t believe religion is true, when a person finds strength from their religion I firmly believe that strength comes from the person, not a god. And now is a time for people to find their own, human strength.

    • Thank you Allallt.

      Now that is what I call a brilliant critique. The depth of your comment is so deep that I would only offer not much but little.

      I do not hold libertarian freewill because I think God freewill sovereign over ours.

      We could swap “God” with “America”, and America would indeed play the role of God, but I do not know to what extend. 🙂

      Yours,
      Prayson

  18. the occurrance of these tragedies and the willingness of people to use them to support their own unconnected arguments is to me the most compelling case against the existence of god one could ever make, both rationally and morally.

    • Hej Prezzy

      Thank you for critique but I believe you missed the point. I made it clear in the article, if you have read, that this does not show that belief in God to be true.

      Thank you though Prezzy.

      Yours,
      Prayson

  19. “I do not know why God permitted Adam Lanza to do so…”

    I’m sorry, Prayson, but as a rationalist i find that offensive. I love your blog, i love reading your essays and engaging you in discussion, but here you’ve demonstrated the utter mindlessness of religious delusion which i rage against.

    There was no ‘god’ in this tragedy. There was no ‘evil’ that broke free from some loving embrace. There was a 20 year old human being who lost his head and (being in a country swimming in weapons) gunned down kids. That’s it. That’s what happened. Pull your head in and live in reality, please.

    • Thank you for your concern John.

      You are probably right John. But I think you err in thinking that “not knowing why God permit evil” is utter mindlessness of religious delusion. I defended the problem of evil and suffering elsewhere to which I show that it is rational and mindful to hold that position.

      I would love to discuss with you, John, and see if it is the mindlessness of Christian delusion: Problem Of Evil: Possibly Not A Convincing Case For Atheism

      Yours,
      Prayson

      • Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able?
        Then he is not omnipotent.
        Is he able, but not willing?
        Then he is malevolent.
        Is he both able, and willing?
        Then whence cometh evil?
        Is he neither able nor willing?
        Then why call him God.
        – Epicurus

      • Thank you John. That was the problem I dealt with in a number of articles in my blog.

        A simple answer would be that God is willing to prevent evil, and able to prevent it. It is possibly true that God has good moral reason(s) to permit evil.If it is possible that God has good moral reason(s) to permit evil, then it would follow that evil in the universe does not questions God’s omnipotence nor his malevolence.

        Christians holds that there is a time when God will end all evil.

        Yours,
        Prayson

      • I just want to say that if there are moral reasons for God to permit evil, then God is negotiating with something. If God is negotiating and getting a less-than-perfect result then He is not omnipotent. That would follow the horn of “willing but not able”.

        I can understand the concept that if God were to allow one unit of evil, it may be an investment is 100 units of good. We can imagine a real-life situation where the death of one person allows hostages to be saved, for example. But that is a negotiation that has to happen because of limited power.

        So God is negotiating with something if He has to invest evil to receive good.

      • You might be correct Allallt on one that if there are moral reasons for God to permit evil, then God is negotiating with something but that would not follow that God has limited power.

        Maybe Plantinga is correct to contended:

        1. God is omnipotent, omniscient, and wholly good
        2. It was not within God’s power to create a world containing moral good without creating one containing moral evil
        3. God created a world containing moral good
        4. Therefore, God created a world containing moral evil
        5. Therefore, evil exist.

        Plantinga contended that creating a world containing moral good without containing moral evil would be like creating a two angles triangle. No amount of power a being could possess to accomplish that task.

        Yours,
        Prayson

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