Dissecting ‘One God Less’ Meme

One Less God: Australian University Atheists“I contend we are both atheists,” signed Stephen F. Roberts, “I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours.” Roberts is believed1 to be the person who crystallized and popularized this increasing reechoed sound bite when he began signing his online post with it in 1995.

Richard Dawkins in A Devil’s Chaplain reechoed this sound bite. Dawkins contended that:

[M]odern theists might acknowledge that, when it comes to Baal and the Golden Calf, Thor and Wotan, Poseidon and Apollo, Mithras and Ammon Ra, they are actually atheists. We are all atheists about most of the gods that humanity has ever believed in. Some of us just go one god further. (Dawkins 2004, 150)

Paraphrasing Socrates, let us examine this sound bite together, and see whether it is a real sound advice or a mere wind-egg. (Plat. Theaet. 151e). Contrary to Daniel C. Dennett (2006, 210), this is not “some sound advice”  offered by Dawkins but a mere wind-egg because it confuses the conceptions of God with the concept of God.

This sound bite confuses the second ordered questions with first ordered question. The first ordered question deals with the concept of God by inquiring ontological question of ‘what is God’, while second ordered questions deal with the conceptions of God by inquiring epistemological questions of ‘who is God’.

First ordered Question: Concept of God

The concept of God explores the nature of a being that is God. What is a being that is God? What are the natures a being that is God must essentially possess? These questions examine a general notion/idea of a being that is God.  Alvin Plantinga representatively captured the concept of God as a being “having an unsurpassable degree of greatness—that is, having a degree of greatness such that it’s not possible that there exist a being having more.” (Plantinga 2002: 102 emp. removed)

Mount Olympus gods and goddesses of Homer where, thus, rejected by the Xenophanes (DK2 21 B24-25 cf. DK24 B23), one of first known philosopher of religion, and Plato (Plat. Rep 377e-381d cf. Tim 28c-92c) on the account that there can be only one being that is God. There is no, and cannot be, a possible world with two or more beings that possesses unsurpassable degree of greatness. The possibility of conflict between two or more omnipotent beings, for example, provides an illustration of a metaphysical impossibility of there being a world with two or more omnipotent beings (Baillie & Hagen 2007).

Thus,

Necessary for any x: x is a being that is God iff x possesses maximal excellence with respect to power (omnipotence), knowledge (omniscience), presence (omnipresence), and x is morally perfect.

Second ordered Questions: Conceptions of God

The conception of God explores how a person/particular group know that general notion/idea. This is an epistemological inquiry that examine how that concept of God is perceived or regarded by particular groups.  “Who is that being that is God” is, for example, an epistemological second ordered question that explores the conceptions of the being that is God. Christians and Jews, for example, hold that Yahweh is a being that is God. They dismiss Allah, Moslem’s conception of God, Thor, Loki &c., Nordic conceptions of God(s) and so on. Monotheists do dismiss all other conceptions of God(s) but there own. They do not however dismiss the concept of God.

A theist, as a matter of fact, can dismiss all conceptions of God without being an atheist. If believing in one fewer god is meant to be taken as a second ordered question, then a theist can believe in one fewer god just like an atheist, without being an atheist. This is the case because what makes a person a theist is not her conceptions of God per se but the concept of God. Dismissal of the conceptions of God(s) is not necessarily a dismissal of the concept of God.

What divides a theist and an atheist is not the conceptions of God, the epistemological question of ‘who is a being that is God’, but the concept of God, an ontological question of ‘what is a being that is God’. In first ordered questions there is no “one fewer god” because there can be only one being that is God.

Under this examination of the differences between the concept of God, a general notion/idea of a being that is God, with conceptions of God, the way in which that general notion/idea is perceived or regarded, I deemed ‘One God Less’ sound bite a mere egg-wind of nonsensical utterance that ought not be found on the lips of any careful and critical thinker.


[1] See Dale McGowan’s Atheism For Dummies

[2] Xenophanes (1951) Die Fragmente der Vorsokratiker,  H. Diels and W. Kranz (eds.), 6th edn., 3 vols. Berlin: Wiedmann.

Baillie, James & Hagen Jason (2008) ‘There Cannot Be Two Omnipotent Beings,’ International Journal for Philosophy of Religion Vol. 64, No. 1:21-33

Dennett, Daniel C. (2006) Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon. New York: Penguin Books.

Dawkins, Richard (2004) A Devil’s Chaplain: Reflections on Hope, Lies, Science, and Love. A Mariner Books. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Plantinga, Alvin (2002) God, Freedom & Evil. First published by Harper and Row., 1974. Reprinted 2002.

Cover Poster: Australian University Atheists 2010 ‘s Posters

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178 thoughts on “Dissecting ‘One God Less’ Meme

  1. Pingback: Dawkins’ One-God-Further Blunder Simplified | With All I Am

  2. Prayson, did you see the latest work by Dr. Erez Ben-Yosef regarding the Pentateuch? Link is below. Of course, the camels are just one thing, and it’s been known for some time already, but it’s always interesting to have further validation that the Pentateuch is a work of historical fiction.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/11/science/camels-had-no-business-in-genesis.html

    I spoke to Yosef quite regularly during my research for that series of posts. Nice man. Very forthcoming, as were the rest of his colleagues, about ten, who I also consulted. I actually quote him in my post, “A Jewish Obligation.” Did you read that one? Linked below. His thoughts are very interesting. Be keen to hear your own thoughts on the question i posed to him and other leading Archaeologists, and Rabbis, of course: Do Jews have an obligation to tell Christians and Muslims the truth?

    http://thesuperstitiousnakedape.wordpress.com/2013/12/02/a-jewish-obligation/%5D

    (BTW why did you delete your last comment to me?)

  3. Congratulations! I hope everyone is healthy and happy. You must be excited.

    Well it’s actually the Masoretic Text AND the Deuteronomistic history, which includes Conquest. All of it is historical fiction, as affirmed by nearly every leading archaeologist (maximalist and minimalist), biblical scholar, and recognised by the majority of Jewish Rabbi’s from every movement, excluding Orthodox… but as I demonstrated, even Orthodox rabbis are beginning to admit it’s all fiction, too. The only area of archaeology where there is an active debate concerns the degree of urbanization of Judah around the 9th and 8th Centuries. This is related to the United Kingdom, for which there is no real supporting evidence, yet minimalists still cling to some vague hope of validating that part of the story. I’m, however, not particularly interested in that as it doesn’t concern the god, Yhwh. That deity, as you’re aware, is entirely dependent on the Pentateuch; which is known today to be myth. And that brings me back to the questions i’m hoping you can answer:

    Which god are you talking about?

    How do you know of this god?

    What is your source for the deity you believe in?

    Can you point me to this literature so i can review it?

      • Hi Prayson, My previous comment does not read the way I intended. Sorry!

        This is an interesting post. Let me explain what I meant. Discussions of memes often disregard the irrationality of human thought. Deconstructing this quote ignores its essence.

        You said, “Necessary for any x: x is a being that is God iff x possesses maximal excellence with respect to power (omnipotence), knowledge (omniscience), presence (omnipresence), and x is morally perfect.”

        How is this manifested? In other words, how does one determine that his representative “x” is the God that possesses these qualities? How does one confirm this? How do you define “morally perfect” if your omnipresent God does not reveal himself to you and show evidence of his moral perfection? For example, wouldn’t an all-powerful, all-knowing and all-present God who is also morally perfect step in and protect an innocent baby from child abuse?

        Additionally, you said: “This is the case because what makes a person a theist is not her conceptions of God per se but the concept of God.” Isn’t what makes a person a theist the concept of God *and* her conception of God? Within each believer is an individual idea of God that is absolutely unique to that believer. God is recreated over and over again within each individual. Ask believers who God is, what does he/she look like, how he interacts with his creation, and you will find as many answers as you do believers.

        I believe what Roberts’ quote suggests is that there is a paradigm shift within the theist that produces an epiphany that humanity’s current conception of God is not viable. We all understand what and who God is (the concept of God), but where is the undergirding that brings God from a concept into the believer’s reality?

        Thank you for allowing me to explain myself! 🙂

        • There are some comments that I take delight in answering because they are so worthy pondering and expounding. Yours, Deborah, is one of the best. Thank you so much.

          I attempted to address the a simple one, the second, first then followed by the harder one.

          “Isn’t what makes a person a theist the concept of God and her conception of God?” The idea of your question can be outline as:

          (D) Necessary, for any x: x is a theist if x possesses the concept of God and x possesses the conception of God.

          My answer is no. For a person to be a theist, she does not necessary have to hold any conception of God. E.g. A deist is clearly a theist, but some deists do not hold any conceptions of God. They believe it to be impossible to know for a person to have any conceptions of God unless that being interferes with the creations and self reveal. They deny any define interventions, thus reject all revelations claimed to be divine inspired. If a definition of a theist include deist, then (D) must be false.

          What I stated is that what make a person a theist is the concept of God.

          (P) Necessary, for any x: X is a theist iff x possesses the concept of God.

          (P), unlike (D) includes deists.

          When you ask believers “who God is”, then you are asking for the conceptions of God, what I called second epistemological ordered questions. The are an array of conceptions of gods. Thus, for example, if you ask a Christian, then she will tell you “Yahweh” is God who created and interacts with his creations. Moslem would say “Allah” and et cetera.

          Robert’s sound bite confused the variety of monotheistic conceptions of God (who is a being that is God, which theists of particular brand rejects the others conceptions) with monotheistic concept of God (what is a being that is God). This was his blander, since we could grant, for argument sake, that there are no viable conceptions of God(s), given paradigm shift within theists, but that is not what makes a theist theists. One can reject all conceptions of God and still be a theist. Some deists as a matter of fact reject that one more conception of a particular brand of theism, say from Christians’ Yahweh, but that does not make a deist an atheist. Saying a deist is an atheist would be a nonsensical utterance.

          The first question is robustly tough and a simple comment will do it no justice. I will only attempt to begin trying to address it. From Christian perceptive, I hold that, and I absolutely do not expect you, Deb or a Moslem to also do so, that God revealed himself in the history of the Jewish and later particularly in the person of a Nazarene Jew, Jesus. Thus Christians understand God, for example, as a being that is perfect in knowledge (Ps. 147:5), power (Job 42:2), presence (Ps. 139), acts (Ps. 18:30) and has none greater (Heb. 6:13) nor equal (Ps. 40:6). Thus state that Yahweh is the being that is God(x).

          Thus before I answer “How do you define “morally perfect” if your omnipresent God does not reveal himself to you and show evidence of his moral perfection? For example, wouldn’t an all-powerful, all-knowing and all-present God who is also morally perfect step in and protect an innocent baby from child abuse?” I would like to know if what I explained made any sense.

          Of cause I do not expect you to agree with me Deborah. I only after understanding before agreeing or disagreeing what is put on the table.

          Sorry for a lengthy response that allows more explanation to clear things out, Deborah.

          • Hi Prayson, Thank you for your detailed response. I understand the logic of your answer and your post. I think the disconnect is that we view the world so differently. For example, theists believe that there is one Truth (which emanates from God/Yahweh/Allah), where most non-theists believe there are many or no versions of truth. For me, a deist *does* have a conception of God, even if it is “….that it is impossible to have any conceptions of God unless that being interferes with the creations and self reveal.” His conception/perception of God is of an unreachable, impersonal and removed diety. I might add that not all deists will believe this exact statement anyway. What you explained make sense. (I was formerly a Catholic.) However, it seems that you are trying to force logic onto an argument that doesn’t have a logial foundation. For instance, I consider this hearsay, so this should not be part of the proof you offer: “….God revealed himself in the history of the Jewish and later particularly in the person of a Nazarene Jew, Jesus.” Respectfully,

            Debbie

            _____

          • Deb, that was why I stated that a non-Christians(Moslem, atheists, deist, &c.,) do not agree and I do not expect them to agree on Christians position that God revealed Himself in Jewish History and later in Person of Jesus of Nazareth. But this was to answer your question that how does Christian know that Yahweh is the being that is God.

            Is it a position I expect you to agree? No. Not even if I present argument for the claim. For same reasons I do not think arguments can change ones belief, I think they can only show that a person have reasons to believe what she believes. My blog aims at exploring if such reasons are good.

            Would you like me to answer the other questions Deb.? Or provide more explanation for the last?

          • “God revealed himself in the history of the Jewish”

            Prayson, if i may jump in very briefly here, you know fully well your god did not reveal itself to the Jews. The Pentateuch is myth, a 7th and 6th Century geopolitical work of historical fiction, as the majority of Jewish Rabbis today readily admit. Even Orthodox Rabbis are beginning to concede this fact; a fact known for nearly three generations now. Given you know this, why make the statement: “God revealed himself in the history of the Jewish”?

          • Secular Rabbis John, I am still trying to get a single non-secular Rabbi but none so far. From your article, all Rabbis quoted were secular. But that does not mean they are wrong(or right). Since OT is not my field of study, I promise to go through Journals on that issue and will be in position to dialogue with you on this issue.

          • What a load of nonsense! Wolpe is a secular Rabbi? Hahaha!!! Irwin Kula is a secular Rabbi? Bradley Shavit Artson is a secular Rabbi? Victor Appell is a secular Rabbi? Robert Schreibman is a secular Rabbi? Orthodox Rabbi Norman Solomon is a sucular Rabbi? Orthodox Rabbi, Shalom Carmy is a secular Rabbi? The Encyclopaedia Judaica is a secular publication?

            Nice try, Prayson, but HUGE FAIL! 🙂

            So, the question remains: which god are you talking about, Prayson?

          • John, I am talking about the one who answered our email. I am not saying they are wrong, that would be committing genetic fallacy.

            I am not OT scholar but I promised you to go through your claims by reading contemporary journals on the issue before I state where I stand 😉

          • Wolpe, an ardent theist and the leading Conservative Rabbi in the US today, answered you, didn’t he 😉

            Anyway, we digress. My point is simply that you should identify which god you’re actually talking about, because it can’t be the god of the Pentateuch. EVERYONE who’s paid to know knows that is nothing but a work of historical fiction, which leaves the god question rather open: which deity are you talking about, and how have you come to hear of this god?

            Without knowing that there’s really no way to progress.

            So, again: which god are you talking about, and how have you heard of this deity?

          • And no, Prayson, you said above: “all Rabbis quoted were secular.” 😉 That is a grossly false statement, as you are fully aware. I contacted and quoted Rabbis from every major Jewish movement: Reform, Conservative, Orthodox, Reconstructionist, Renewal and Humanistic.

  4. …but I will admit I giggled out loud when I read that quote. 🙂

    So, ok, the difference is that the quote intends to compare gods to each other, and you’re saying the real difference is whether to believe in the concept of God or not. Sure, you’re right. But in the meantime, I hope some faithful person somewhere stopped to think for just 5 minutes, and gave some atheist a 5-minute break.

    • 🙂 Thanks Crystal. My goal was to show that this increasing popular sound bite is nonsensical utterance when you critically think about it.

      It fails to note the basic difference between epistemological issue, conceptions of God(s) and ontological issue, concept of God. The blander was in the assumptions that by monotheists rejection of conceptions of other religions gods but her own, she is closer to an atheist who goes just that mono-god further. Absurdly deist do reject all conceptions of god(s) but it would be nonsense to say a deist is an atheist, no?

      It is fine and laughable for a biologist, Richard Dawkins, to make such a mistake, but a brilliant philosopher, Daniel Dennett, endorsing such poor reasoning bring shame to lovers of reason. I could not keep quiet, for proper reasoning’s sake. I wrote an email to Dennett, but at the same time place my case here for those who have ears to hear and eyes to see.

      Thanks once again Crystal.

      • It was right to point out the false reasoning here, Prayson. Your blog is a place where many thoughtful truth-seekers come. And I’m glad you wrote to Dennett! Hearing from you might have been just the thing to encourage him to move on to something more meaningful.

  5. Tildeb is correct. Leroy, your sense of persecution is misplaced, and your ideas about evidence are inverted. But lets not banter about it; lets just demonstrate it.

    I will focus down on one large-scale biblical event, of central importance to all Christian theology: the Exodus. I will itemize the evidence as it stands, so you won’t be able to tell me that I’m ignoring it. Then we’ll see whether you can grapple with that evidence, or whether you ignore/sidestep it.

    EXODUS: Absent Positive Evidence

    1. . Much evidence has been found for far smaller groups moving during the same period, but no verifiable evidence has been found for the Israelite movement, nor their temporary (~38 year) encampment.

    2. Meanwhile, no record has been found in Egypt that the Israelites were ever a slave population there. No parchments. No carvings. No record of their living there… and 2 million people would have been over half the estimated population of 3.5 million. Yet no records.

    3. Nor are there any Egyptian garrison records to document a large group leaving the country. Nor to document skirmishes with Egyptian forces. This is very troubling, since Canaan was under Egyptian control during the period.

    4. Nor do we have any Egyptian records of mass deaths (firstborn) or calamity at that time period.

    So far, I have itemized evidence that we do not have. That is, this is an “argument from silence”. We would expect to find evidence of such a massive presence in Egypt and such a massive migration. We do not. But that is only half the problem. We also have *positive* evidence against it having occurred.

    EXODUS: Tangible Negative Evidence

    5. In the 1980’s, the University of Tel Aviv, under Israel Finkelstein, conducted an extensive long-term broad area archeological study of the lands of Israel. They documented all settlements, dwellings, ruins, and artifacts across a very wide area of the country. What they found indicated that the population of Canaan was very small for a very long time. The population of the lands did not reach even 1 Million people for several hundred years after the supposed Exodus. What this means, in plain English, is that the population was very small – so no massive horde of invading Israelites ever showed up. And the archaeological community – both theist and non-theist, in the US, Europe, and Israel – agree that the Tel Aviv data is legitimate and sound.

    6. Similarly, the cities supposedly conquered during the Conquest of Canaan under Joshua have serious issues. As dating methods have improved, it is now possible to determine that some of the supposedly conquered cities were *not occupied* during the days of Joshua. Others did not have fortifications as described. Others went by quite different names, or were conquered by other people groups (not Israel).

    7. Importantly, there was *no change in Egyptian power* during the period of the Exodus. If Egypt had been left in ruin – food supply destroyed, water supply tainted, fish dead, crops dead, firstborn dead, army defeated, and riches stolen – their local “competition” would certainly have recorded a massive down-tick in Egyptian power. They do not. Egyptian power didn’t change during this time. It was steady. But beyond the plagues, imagine if tomorrow 200 million people got up and left the US, and they took the money with them. The US would undergo an immediate economic and military collapse. China, Russia, Iran, etc. – you can bet that the history books written by these countries would reflect their corresponding increase in power, as they divided up global interests without a strong US to stop them. But we do not see that with Egypt. Their power base remained even keel. No disaster ever hit Egypt. Half the population did not get up and leave.

    Resources for this include Finkelstein, Dever, Kitchen, Wolpe, Enns, etc., all available on the Bibliography page of my blog.


    Concluding: Now, I have outlined the major points of evidence surrounding the Exodus. The best any credible archaeologist or historian argues for at this time is a “small” exodus, of perhaps 15,000 people (less than 1% of the biblical account). That is, something small enough not to blip on the historical register. You can find fundamentalist who disagree, but you will not find practicing archaeologists to back the biblical account – at the large scale described – any longer.

    This makes sense if the Exodus account was recorded hundreds of years after Moses, as I have already outlined before.

    You have evidences before you. You have references before you. What you do not have is any legitimate grounds of excuse. Man up.

  6. Wow. That was impressive. I mean, really.

    You imply again that I am an atheist.

    You say that your inability to defend your position cogently is actually proof that you are correct.

    You say that the thoughts that form in your mind aren’t you thinking, they are God talking.

    You tell me – one who has changed his position on the basis of the evidence – that he cannot change on the basis of evidence.

    I’m not challenging God; he’s not on this blog. I’m challenging you. I’m challenging whether you know what you’re talking about. I’m challenging whether you know where the Bible came from or not. I’m challenging you to demonstrate that you have Red Phone access, on pain of idolatry if you are claiming such guidance falsely.

    You can fill the room with smoke if you want. Or you can be a grown up – and own up – for your own outlandish claims.

  7. Leroy,

    You’ve just graduated to Red Telephone status – a claimant to hear words of guidance. But I’ve been around cult leaders long enough to spot the gene. So, since you’re the one claiming, I’ll administer the same exam that I have in the past with such cult figures. Let us test your access to the Red Telephone, Elijah style… Tell me something tangible and objective about myself that is not posted online anywhere. For example, how did my maternal grandfather die? If you can do that, I’ll suddenly become very attentive indeed to your access to Divine Guidance. If not, then you are unfortunately either delusional or a charlatan. I await your response.

    Next, you do realize that Lazarus and the rich man are not historical figures, but characters in a parable, correct?

    Further, you’re projecting your own need for assurance and knowledge, assuming that I’m looking for evidence. I have found evidence, by the bucket.

    I’m also sorry to say that you cannot quote Moses any more than our leading Old Testament scholars can. Contrary to tradition, Moses did not write Genesis or the remaining four books of the Pentateuch. And we do not know who did, or when they did, or where. Key markers were always quite apparent in the text… Moses is always referred to in the third person, always in the past tense, and often in the distant past tense, denoting a considerable passage of time between the events and their recounting. But modern scholarship has turned up still more issues, since Genesis as we know it is written in Hebrew, a language not in existence in the days of Moses. Various joints and seems are evident throughout the text, indicating that the works of several authors were combined into the larger narrative sometime later. Various people groups and place names that appear in the accounts did not exist for the periods of the Patriarchs, etc. Overall, it remains unclear who assembled Genesis and at what point in Jewish history its various parts came to be regarded as scripture. See Jericho references [11, 14, 15, 22].

    Finally, for a man of your age, you really ought not to be offering council and advice unbidden. That was how I first found you – presuming to take a counselor’s chair with someone who never asked you to advise them of anything. And that is why I’ve cut you no slack. You have presumed to a condescending role, and you simply don’t know what you’re talking about. You don’t understand the problems with the texts you cite, and you do not understand how to find better answers. And when this is demonstrated, you break out the big bat of Christian condescension, which I know well based upon my own past use – pity. Pity is what happens when the Devil gets a hold of compassion and twists it into an offensive weapon. Pity allows the user to feel that they are being compassionate when they are actually taking the highest rung on the condescension ladder.

    And that’s why I’m still cutting you no slack.

    • I require no slack, just ask Ark with his vile and hateful labels. I’ve seen you in others and you can not masquerade behind ex-God – “I don’t like the answer so the answer is wrong” or ” the message condemns me so lets kill the messenger”.

      You posted eight simple words, “You would do better if you had answers.” This is what you want, so again, I thought about it all day, what Ultimate evidence can I give this man. After several minutes the words came forth in my mind, “There is none”. What better way to say this than to quote Luke 16:9-13, after all it’s there for a reason. It’s there to teach men like me that no matter how hard we try there are some that have made up their minds and no evidence will change it. I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes.

      I understand communion with God is a foreign concept with you but let me let you in on a little secret. Real Christians have a personal relationship with God. They have what is called the Holy Spirit living within them. They can go to a quite place and fellowship with Him. Now, seldom do His words bellow in our heads, but sometimes a thought forms in our minds during prayer. The thought I had about your need was, “there is none”. It makes me a little sad I can’t help you, I guess that’s just the way it is.

      Now, you can poo poo Moses and everything between the first and last word in the Bible all you want. You are an “ex-Christian” who got real smart and figured out it is all a lie. For me, I wouldn’t trade all the gold in the world for what I have and I got real smart too. I studied a bit of history and I know how the ancient Romans tortured Christians, it was all a great sport back then, crucifying Christians.

      When confronted with the truth of Scripture many such as yourself attack the messenger. You mistake my confidence and assurance of faith as being condescending and breaking out “the big bat”. Funny how it is when discussing God with atheists the Christian can not use his Bible.

      And finally Matt, you make this statement, “Pity is what happens when the Devil gets a hold of compassion and twists it into an offensive weapon.” I read your desperation towards God in this, and directed to His message. It isn’t me you have a fight with. Your problem is with God and the Devil, one you fight against and the other you use as a weapon when in attack mode.

      • When asked for evidence for your claims, you suddenly become a victim of hate? Really, Leroy? This is how you interpret a legitimate request to back up what you say you know… by pretending that such a request is reminiscent of those ancient christians supposedly subjected to unreasonable persecution and torture?

        Methinks your reaction isn’t to Matt and what he asked of you: it’s a fear response that your god isn’t able to provide you with the evidence you seek not because he won’t but because he can’t. And the fear is that your beliefs through faith are not true; that you’re just a real person in real life trying the best you can and not a recipient of divine favor. And Matt caused this comfort so you’re trying to vilify him.

    • You don’t have to treat me with kid gloves Tildeb. But if it looks like a duck and sounds like a duck it’s probably a duck.

      Notice these terms Matt used, and I quote, “graduated to Red Telephone status”, “been around cult leaders long enough to spot the gene”, “If not, then you are unfortunately either delusional or a charlatan (testing God -show me a sign)”.

      Now, you take my observation that since he doesn’t like the message I give he attacks me as hate speech, which I never said.

      We have gone down the “evidence road” already. You and Matt have rejected all evidence as insufficient or made up. So what is the next logical statement when all evidence is rejected and the same person asks for evidence? Right. There’s is none.

      • The next step is to appreciate that the evidence adduced from reality for your claims is so weak that you cannot in good conscience claim them to be ‘knowledge’ (what seems to be true for everyone everywhere all the time); rather, you must recognize that your claims are reliant your on subjective belief alone. We call this kind of belief ‘faith’… where their justification is imposed by the believer on reality and then granted unjustified confidence.

        If you recognize the accuracy of this observation, then you will stop making claims about reality that rely on your faith and stop misrepresenting the confidence you hold in them to be adduced from reality when they are not. This will allow you to better appreciate why others feel the need to confront you and expose your claims about reality for what they are: self-imposed claims of faith applicable only to you because you and you alone grant them power of confidence. You will feel uncomfortable drawing conclusions by this faith-based method that affect others (and how you view them) because you will recognize that they do not grant these claims power as you do and are fully justified withholding any confidence in them. Your faith-based claims are personal and deserve to be kept that way because they hold no knowledge value independent of your belief in them. Recognizing this fact will then allow you to treat others without the pious condescension if they do not agree with your faith-based conclusions. More importantly, we can get on the same page about what constitutes knowledge and learn to respect reality’s role to arbitrate claims made about it so that you will (finally) stop making knowledge claims that are obviously faith-based. This would go a long way treating others who do not share your faith-based beliefs as fully your equal in all manner of respect.

    • Reality Tildeb? Who has the final say if God is real or not? Do we go by your knowledge and deduction or mine? Or shall we take a vote? If it is a vote, who is eligible to vote? Who knows everything about everything and can make the statement, “There is no God”?

      You want, “what seems to be true for everyone everywhere all the time” yet faith in God is a choice we make and it is a simple fact everyone does not make the same choices in life. There are many things that are not true for everyone everywhere all the time, so this reasoning is invalid as proof for, or against, God.

      You try to logically fix my faith into a “subjective belief” box, but this is flat wrong. You do yourself a disservice by putting limits on God.

      Although there is a subjective component to my belief there is also an objective component.

      In a “normal” person, the subjective is always based on the objective, and feelings are always based on a physical experience. If not, the subjective thought or feelings are irrational. If you are a dad then you know how we experience creation, and most people of faith conclude a creator. Our experience with creation teaches us how to love, and most people of faith conclude a source of love greater than us, most of us experience the urge to sacrifice for the greater good, and most people of faith conclude a source of sacrifice greater than us.

      Did I exist before you heard of me? Does my objective existence depend on your perception of me?

      I believe that God is “really there”. I comprehend the objective reality that He is “really there” from the subjective reasoning and analytical processes of my five senses, my experience, my mind, and the many ways He has lifted me up in my need.

      Faith in God or Jesus or anything else results from a subjective choice we ourselves make. I was shown the objectivity of Christ and His message and I subjectively chose to believe. I subjectively accepted and believed in the objective reality of Christ’s death and resurrection and then, subsequently, also made a subjective choice to turn my life over to that objective reality. The very fact that our salvation is based on a choice we make to believe attests to the idea that our faith is subjective, as well as objective.

      If anything, it is the objective reality of God which draws us to Him through the subjective reasoning and understanding of our own of our minds. Romans 1:20 is a perfect example of how we are to subjectively have faith in the objectivity of God. Paul even goes so far as to say that we are all without excuse if we have not subjectively acquired faith in the objective reality of God through a subjective observance and analysis of His creation. This also implies the idea that faith in the objectivity of God is not just a matter of God “breathing His Spirit into us,” but a subjective decision on our part to respond to the objectivity of God’s Spirit.

      “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.” Romans 1:20

      So, I have now shown the objective component to my faith. This gives me the right to make the following claim – the reality we live in is that there is no evidence that will convince every person on Earth that Jesus Christ is Lord and Saviour.

      My conclusion is that everyone can ask and it will be given to them; everyone can seek to know Christ and they will find Him; knock, ask, and the door will be opened to you. Everyone who asks will receive, the one who seeks His love will find it; and the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
      ***
      My response would not be complete without specifically addressing your last two sentences , so I will quote you.

      “More importantly, we can get on the same page about what constitutes knowledge and learn to respect reality’s role to arbitrate claims made about it so that you will (finally) stop making knowledge claims that are obviously faith-based. This would go a long way treating others who do not share your faith-based beliefs as fully your equal in all manner of respect.”

      We will never be on the “same page”, the void between us is greater than any issue we might disagree on because I will never renounce my belief in God. Your knowledge and your reality, as it pertains to the reality of God, is like night and day to my knowledge and reality. The claims I make are mine. They belong to me, not you or anybody else, I don’t speak for anyone except myself, Leroy, although some may agree with me.

      I take the time for all this Tildeb for several reasons, the least of which is God needs defending, He really doesn’t. He will go on loving me no mater what. It’s all about you, and those like you. You have never used derogatory descriptive words about me like Ark and Matt have done, several times here and over at Zande’s blog with others like me, you never get so overwhelmed as to resort to childish name calling. I thank you sir and do respect you and with all sincerity wish you well, even though we disagree. You challenge me and that is good. I love learning what it is that makes me me, and you facilitate that with your opposition. Even so, I wish I could really know you, but I can also accept the fact we may always be on different pages.

      • I know many people steeped in various faiths to different degrees of piety, so I am well aware of the depth of passion and support people bring to any discussion to uphold and defend their ‘choice’. Of particular interest to me (having lived on several continents) is the equivalent way people defend their contrary religious tenets that each hold to be ‘true’. All present their faith choices as if they adduced this belief from the world (and that anyone who doesn’t agree is somehow making an equivalent choice by refusing to recognize reality as it really is)! I always ask people how they know what they say they know and the reasons are the same as you present here (with substitutes for the important bits)… leaving me wondering why they (and you) cannot seem to appreciate that the method you use to justify your faith-based claims are identical; yet they lead to contrary and incompatible claims presented as if equivalent ‘knowledge’ to, say, a scientific theory.

        I find that really interesting.

        So how can I help make earnest and forthright people aware that the method they are using in the service of their various faiths (supported by various incompatible scriptures) leads them in all directions claimed to be objective and true and knowledge-based but plainly not when each are incompatible with the others?

        Well, that, too, is a mystery.

        Of course, it’s not just incompatible religious claims that use the method of faith-based belief; it’s any such belief (and there are host of veritable selections from which to choose, such as alternative medicine, superstitions, chauvinism, alchemy, astrology, different kinds of future reading, racism, dowsing, global conspiracies, and so on). Of note, none of the ‘true believers’ in any of these can answer a fairly simple question anyone who respects the scientific method can easily answer about any particular topic of inquiry: what would convince you that your conclusions are wrong?

        That’s a question well worth considering… not with specific ‘answers’ from the faith-based belief itself, but in method. What means is available in a faith-based method to tell you if you’re off course?

        I don;t think there is any such means available to you and this should be a red flag.

        You admit falling into the same method of faith-based belief in your comment, saying that “I will never renounce my belief in God.” Never? How do you know if this is the right faith? This is especially important when under that banner, all your faith-based beliefs find protection and immunity (hence no means to test whether or not they are valid conclusions). I don’t think this is healthy or wise.

        More to the point, I’ve never asked you or anyone else to renounce belief in whatever; I do insist that both of us should respect reality’s arbitration of any knowledge claim made about it and assign beliefs immune from reality’s arbitration to be under the banner of a faith-based and not knowledge-based claim. (For example, how refreshing it would be to meet a religious believer who states, “I don’t know if this claim is true, but I believe…) Without that common baseline of understanding the boundary between knowledge and faith, we cannot hold a reasonable conversation because only one of us is willing to respect what’s true independent of our beliefs we may have. And that someone is me.. someone who can – and has – changed my opinions based on compelling reasons adduced from reality to do so. That you cannot say the same isn’t a point of virtue but a guaranteed way to fool yourself.

    • To all my fellow Christians, and all others, when an unbeliever tells you your belief in God and Jesus Christ is solely faith-based remember they have an agenda, that being they desperately need to justify their unbelief and the only way to justify their unbelief is to try and convince you what you have is not real or based entirely on faith.

      It is not Christ’s historicity that is at stake here; unbelievers of every stripe have long acknowledged His existence. Rather, the issue has to do with whether or not Jesus of Nazareth was Who He claimed to be – the unique, only begotten, incarnate Son of God.

      People around the world, due to a universal frame of mind, independently concocted stories that revolved around a god dying and then rising again. These stories span both time barriers and geographical limits; they are – in a very literal sense – worldwide and universal. Kyle Butt, M.A. and Bert Thompson, Ph.D.

      In truth, man does have a religious instinct – one that is keener than even many theologians would like to admit. In speaking of God, the writer of Ecclesiastes remarked: “He hath made everything beautiful in its time: he hath set eternity in their heart” (3:11). Paul said that mankind always has been able to understand God’s “everlasting power and divinity” (Romans 1:20). God did not place man on Earth to abandon him.

      One important fact that cannot be ignored is that Jesus is the only historical figure who fulfills the criteria necessary to justify, sanctify, and redeem mankind. No human’s creative mind concocted the narrative of Jesus of Nazareth. Human eyes saw Him, and human ears heard Him. He walked and talked, lived and loved, on the streets of real cities and in the houses of real people. His life is the only life of any “savior-god” that can be (and has been) thoroughly documented. As Stephen Franklin remarked: “[T]he specific character of Biblical religion and, thus, of Christianity stems from the priority given to the historical and factual dimension of the Bible’s basic teachings and doctrines” (1993).

      The story of Jesus demands its rightful place in the annals of human history. Osiris, Krishna, Hercules, Dionysus, and the other mythological savior-gods stumble back into the shadows of fiction when compared to the documented life of Jesus of Nazareth. If the skeptic wishes to challenge the uniqueness of Jesus by comparing Him with other alleged savior-gods, he first must produce evidence that one of these savior-gods truly walked on the Earth, commingled with humanity, and impacted people’s lives via both a sinless existence and incomparable teachings. Humanity always has desired a real-life savior-god; but can any of the alleged savior-gods that have been invented boast of a historical existence any more thoroughly documented than that of Christ? (McCabe, 1993, p. 59)

      Traces of concepts that predate Christ’s earthly existence can be found in His teachings. Augustine, who noted that Plato’s followers claimed Christ had copied their philosophical hero. Rabbi Hillel, who lived approximately fifty years before Jesus, taught: “What thou wouldest not have done to thee, do not that to others” (see Bales, n.d., p. 7). Confucius (and a host of other ancient writers) taught things that Jesus also taught. From China to Egypt, a steady stream of pagans uttered things that Christ, centuries later, likewise would say. How, then, can the teachings of Christ be considered unique if they had been surfacing in different cultures and civilizations for hundreds of years before His visit to Earth? Perhaps this would be a good place to ask: What is the alternative? As Bales noted:

      “If Christ had been completely original, He would have had to omit every truth which had been revealed in the Old Testament, or which had been discerned by the reason of man. If He had done this, His teaching would have been inadequate, for it would have omitted many moral and spiritual truths” (n.d., p. 21).

      Jesus came not to reiterate ancient truths, but rather to synthesize those truths into a complete unit. He embodied every spiritual truth the world had ever seen or ever would see. As Bales commented: “Christ embodies all the moral good which is found in other religions, and He omits their errors” (p. 7). In his letter to the Christians in Colossae, Paul described Christ as the one “in whom are all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge hidden” (2:3,). Christ’s teachings are like gold; tiny amounts can be found in almost every area of the world, from ocean water to the human body. However, in order for that gold to be usable, it must be collected into a mass large enough to refine. Christ is the “refining pot” of all knowledge and wisdom, wherein the impure errors are purged from the precious metal of divine truth. While tiny specks of His teachings emerge from practically every religion, they can be refined only when collected as a whole in the essence of Jesus the Nazarene. Stephen Franklin put it like this:

      By providing echoes of Christian themes in every culture and in every religion, He [God] has given the entire human race some “handle” that allows them at least a preliminary understanding of the gospel when it is preached (1993, p. 51).

      In The New Evidence that Demands a Verdict, Josh McDowell listed seven things that people could (and should!) expect from the Savior of the world: (1) an utterly unique entrance into human history (prophecy and virgin birth); (2) the ability to live a sinless life – none of the Jewish heroes was presented as perfect, nor were the mythological heroes presented as viceless; (3) control over all the forces of nature – “Who then is this that even the wind and the sea obey him” (Mark 4:41); (4) the capability to speak the greatest words ever uttered by human lips; (5) a lasting and universal influence on humanity; (6) the power to satisfy the spiritual hunger of mankind (see Matthew 5:6, John 7:37, 4:14, 6:35, 10:10); and (7) the ability to defeat both death and sin.

      The simple fact is, God left no stone unturned in preparing the world for the coming of the One Who would save mankind. Through a variety of avenues, He alerted the inhabitants of planet Earth regarding the singular nature of the One Who was yet to come, as well as the importance of believing in and obeying Him. Humanity’s sins can be forgiven only by a sinless Savior. A mythological sacrifice can forgive only mythological sins, but Jesus truly is the Lamb of God “that taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). As Norman Geisler put it:

      It is one thing to claim deity and quite another to have the credentials to support that claim. Christ did both. He offered three unique and miraculous facts as evidence of his claim: the fulfillment of prophecy, a uniquely miraculous life, and the resurrection from the dead. All of these are historically provable and unique to Jesus of Nazareth. We argue, therefore, that Jesus alone claims to be and proves to be God (1976, p. 339).

      Furthermore, consider both the power and the authority evident in Christ’s teachings. Even His enemies were unable to refute what He taught. When the Jewish Sanhedrin decided to take action against Him and dispatched its security force to seize Him, those officers returned empty handed and admitted: “No man ever spoke like this Man!” (John 7:46, NKJV). When He was only twelve years old and His parents accidentally left Him behind in Jerusalem, they returned to find Him in a discussion of religious matters with the learned scribes, “and all that heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers” (Luke 2:47).

      The Jews had long yearned for a Messiah (“Christ”) Who would save and deliver them. The Samaritan woman Christ met at the well spoke of this very fact, to which He replied: “I that speak unto thee am he” (John 4:26). When Jesus was on trial before the Sanhedrin, Caiaphas the high priest asked: “Are you the Christ?” His reply was firm: “It is as you said” (Matthew 26:63-64). He spoke with authority regarding the pre-human past, because He was there (John 1:1). In the present, “there is no creature that is not manifest in his sight, but all things are naked and laid open before the eyes of him with whom we have to do” (Hebrews 4:13). And He knows the future, as is evident from even a cursory reading of His prophecies about the building of His church (Matthew 16:18), the sending of the Holy Spirit to the apostles (John 14:26), and His many descriptions of His ultimate return and the Day of Judgment (Matthew 25:31-46, et al.). All of this, and more, explains why Paul referred to Him as “King of King, and Lord of Lords” (1 Timothy 6:15). No one ever possessed, or spoke with, the kind of authority with which Christ was endowed, which is why He taught: “All authority hath been given unto me in heaven and on earth” (Matthew 28:18). Fraudulent saviors never claimed such, nor had their own enemies confirm such. Perhaps this is one reason why, in the feature article from Time magazine’s December 6, 1999 cover story (“Jesus at 2000”), author Reynolds Price wrote:

      It would require much exotic calculation, however, to deny that the single most powerful figure – not merely in these two millennia but in all human history – has been Jesus of Nazareth…. [A] serious argument can be made that no other life has proved remotely as powerful and enduring as that of Jesus. It’s an astonishing conclusion in light of the fact that Jesus was a man who lived a short life in a rural backwater of the Roman Empire [and] who died in agony as a convicted criminal…

      Tildeb, you state, “Without that common baseline of understanding the boundary between knowledge and faith, we cannot hold a reasonable conversation because only one of us is willing to respect what’s true independent of our beliefs we may have.” This is where you fail to understand the Biblical truth that Faith starts from Knowledge.

      “Now we believe, not because of thy speaking: for we have heard for ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Savior of the world” (John 4:42).

      Biblical faith is a strong belief based upon adequate evidence. In the New Testament, the noun “faith” (Greek, pistis) is defined as: “primarily firm persuasion, a conviction based upon hearing…used in the New Testament always of faith in God or Christ, or things spiritual” (Vine, 1940, 2:71). The verb “believe” (Greek, pisteuo) is defined as: “…to be persuaded of, and hence, to place confidence in, to trust…reliance upon, not mere credence” (Vine, 1940, 1:116). Thus, biblical faith is a conviction based upon evidence, and is “not mere credence.” The Bible does not recognize any such concept as a “leap of faith,” because biblical faith is always evidence – or knowledge-based. Peter urged Christians to be “ready always to give answer to every man that asketh you a reason concerning the hope that is in you, yet with meekness and fear” (1 Peter 3:15). This corresponds directly to what one would call a cause for belief. Bert Thompson, Ph.D.

      In his book on the relationship between faith and knowledge, The Concept of Rational Belief, Dick Sztanyo remarked:

      Biblical faith is built upon a prior understanding (knowledge) of what is to be believed…. Any conception of faith that severs it from its objective, epistemological base (foundation of knowledge) is at variance with biblical teaching. Biblically speaking, one does not believe that God is (or any other items to be accepted “by faith”): (1) against the evidence; (2) without evidence; and/or (3) beyond the evidence. Rather, one believes on the basis of evidence sufficient to establish the conclusion (1989, p. 3).

      Faith is directly linked to knowledge. Without knowledge (i.e., evidence), it is impossible to produce faith. Further, knowledge is critical in making faith active. Sztanyo has observed in regard to what he terms “rational” belief:

      This evidence enlightens the intellect which then makes a volitional commitment not only possible (since I now know what to believe) but also rational (i.e., I know what to believe). Thus, faith is a volitional commitment of an informed intellect. Knowledge without commitment is disbelief (John 8:30-46; 12:42,43; James 2:19); commitment without knowledge is irrationality. Neither is a genuine option for a Christian (1989, pp. 18-19).

      In the Bible, faith and knowledge are never set in contradistinction. At times faith may be contrasted with a means of obtaining knowledge (e.g., sight), but faith never is contrasted with knowledge or, for that matter, reason. In addition, at times faith and knowledge may have the same object. The Scriptures make it clear that the following can be both known and believed: (a) God (Isaiah 43:10); (b) the truth (1 Timothy 4:3); and (c) Christ’s deity (John 6:69; 4:42). Further, knowledge always precedes faith, and where there is no knowledge there can be no biblical faith.

      • The condensed version:

        Leroy: I know stuff about god.
        Tildeb: how do you know that?
        Leroy: on the authority of scripture.
        Tildeb: how do you know scripture deserves authority?
        Leroy: because god tells me so.
        Tildeb: how do you know it’s god?
        Leroy: because I know it is.
        Tildeb: how do you know that?
        Leroy: on the authority of scripture…

        Mulberry Bush, meet Leroy.

        Leroy, your epistemology – how you know – is broken. It doesn’t work to produce knowledge; it works to excuse your faith-based beliefs from reality. This is a demonstration of delusional thinking in action, where your faith-based beliefs are used to support your faith-based beliefs. Any and all evidence contrary to these beliefs are summarily dismissed as something else, something with an agenda, something that attempts to divert your faith from its proper source. And this example of delusional thinking is played throughout the world… especially in every religion that insists it and it alone possesses divine knowledge of god’s Truth. But how are we to determine which one, if any, are true? well, it boils down to a matter of faith, you see… where geography – and not what’s knowable independent of faith – plays the major determining and selecting factor. That’s a clue that no amount of quoting this scripture or that can undo.

  8. Strange WP glitches. Was not alerted of a prior comment from WalkTheWay, and cannot respond to it once unearthed here. Apologies, and still scratching about why…

    Walk, if you’re interested in my own Journey, it is extensively described on my blog at JerichoBrisance.com on the Journey pages. Feel free to check it out, tell me where I’m incorrect, whatever. You seem to think that a disaster is necessary to change position, but you may be disappointed there. I was an ardent Christian with a variegated set of experiences – right up to the point when I began to find out that Judaism was essentially fraudulent. I am now of a disposition to talk to others about it.

    As to “says who?”, I am assuming that you’re referring to my comments about OT problems of historicity and fraudulence. That too is described in detail on my blog, but scholars of reference fill multiple pages in the Bibliography section there, and I try to cite everything as I go through the various sections of my Journey pages. Off the top, major sources of reference include William Dever, Israel Finkelstein, K.A. Kitchen, Peter Enns, NT Wright, Marcus Borg, Bart Ehrman, etc, etc.

    I could be wrong, but you seem sort of like a guy that focuses heavily on NT topics. How much do you know about the OT/Jewish historical collapse? Its worth a very serious consideration.

    And no, there is no such thing as anyone saying something and that settling anything. I’m standing in the ring, and I’ve laid myself out as plainly as possible. By all means, come ahead. But up to this point, you seem to have an empty quiver where historicity problems are concerned.

    • Some believe that there is no such thing as an ex-Christian, or one who has “fallen away”. They cite 1 John 2:19, “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.”

      The Scripture says that if someone really is of God, if they really are saved, then they will remain. If they do not, it is because they never were saved, to begin with.

      If you can lose your salvation, then what do you do with Romans 8:38-39 or John 10:28-30, where Jesus says he gives eternal life and the sheep will NEVER perish? If you can lose it then Jesus should have said, “and they may perish…” or “they CAN perish.” But he said, THEY WILL NEVER PERISH. So, will they never perish? Or can they?

      Several Scripture teachings explain this. 2 Corinthians 5:17 , Galatians 3:1-3 , John 10:28

      I suppose I am a NT focused guy but it isn’t because I have no use of the OT. I also do not believe I have to prove anything of what I believe to be real and true to you or anyone else. You and everyone else has to find that on their own, just like I did. “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Romans 10:17. I can tell you what I believe and why, and I can put forth logical arguments that God is real, but it isn’t to convince you I am right and you are wrong. It isn’t my words that will turn anyone’s heart to Christ, it’s His.

      A good sermon by C. H. SPURGEON in 1872 titled, “How Can I Obtain Faith?” sheds light on this fact.

      In part – “In many, I do not doubt, faith has come through hearing of the condescending pity and the melting love of Jesus. Oh, that we dwelt more on this; that he loved his enemies, that he died for the ungodly, that his heart yearns over the lost sheep, that he is willing to receive prodigal sons, for he is full of grace and truth.
      When such texts as the following have been preached on:—”This man receiveth sinners.” “Come unto me all ye that labor.” “Ho, every one that thirsteth,” etc. “All manner of sin and transgression shall be forgiven unto men.” “Whosoever will, let him come and take the water of life freely.” “Him that cometh unto me I will in no wise cast out,” that melting strain has touched the heart, and led the most hardened to believe in a Savior so kind to the undeserving. Men have found it impossible not to believe in a friend so self-sacrificing, a Redeemer so altogether lovely. The sweet love of Jesus has an omnipotence in it to win souls. They yield “by mighty love subdued,” unable to resist its charms, and as if they could hold out no longer, they throw themselves by an act of faith into the Savior’s arms. I can well understand their singing, “I do believe, I must believe in such a friend as this.” Faith comes by hearing of the free forgiveness procured by the agony, the stripes, the wounds, the death of Jesus, the lover of our souls.” http://www.spurgeon.org/sermons/1031.htm

      • @Walk the way
        This is the response of an indoctrinated close-minded intransigent fool.
        I am sorry, I cannot extend the level of tolerance that folk such as Nathan, Jericho, Nate , Marcus, Holly and every other deconvertee that blogs on WP to one such as you .
        You hint at explanations for the reason why these people lost their faith ( as if his was in fact a loss at all.) and when the explanation is forthcoming you , like almost every Christian immediately assume these people were not ”real” christians in the first place, as a real christian would not have lost faith.
        On the face of it this is meant as an insult, but in actual fact should be regarded as a compliment: they had the nouse to question.

        These people didn’t experience some ‘disaster’ that caused this revelation. The disaster usually befalls those unfortunates who find themselves in such abject emotional turmoil that they end up in the heinous clutches of religion.
        Those that have escaped, and there really is not better term, have done so usually by their own efforts, using intelligence and common sense, two attributes that are aggressively discouraged among the inculcated.

        That the only argument you have is to continually reference and quote Scripture is indicative of how barren your world really is: restricted as it is that you’re first and probably only line of defense is a collection of bronze age 1st & 2nd Century documents that time and again have been shown to be fallacious.

        The day you begin to ask similar questions as Matt is the day your life’s journey will really begin.

        • My position remains very straightforward upon encountering bluster. Anybody can tell anybody *that* they are wrong. Demonstrating *where* they are wrong is something else entirely. To do that, a person needs actual knowledge. So for those that tell me I’m wrong, but really can’t seem to figure out where, I say, get back to me when your commentary has something behind it.

          And yes, quoting the Bible as authoritative – when the question on the table is whether or not the Bible is legitimate in the first place – makes so very little sense.

          1 John – pseudepigrapha
          Gospel of John – anonymous and incorrectly ascribed
          Corinthians, Galations – legitimately written by Paul, for whom I’m still awaiting a some argument of actual “red phone” connection to God, or apostolic authority.

          Spurgeon – used to read him every single morning, like we Presbyterians tend to do. And like me, Spurgeon had his own struggles with depression, etc. He was commended to me by a pastor for just such reason, in fact. Yet the further I got from Spurgeon, and the less I read him, the less depressed I was. I spent my last 5 years as a Christian without Spurgeon, and oddly, without depression. Funny how things work out sometimes. He was a man afflicted, and its no real surprise why: he believed in the total depravity of human nature… based upon the fictional anthropology of the anonymous Genesis and based upon the extrapolated doctrines of that anthropology from Paul. The perpetual reminder of such non-truths has a corrosive effect, though it takes a good long while to ferret that out; like trying to determine if you’re chronically sick because of the food or the water supply. In any case, citing Spurgeon along with anonymous and pseudepigraphic texts simply completed the arc. The trifecta of error is now complete.

          So, yes Ark, you’re quite correct. It isn’t disaster that caused my change, nor a lot of people. Its education. Its leaving aside the unsupported and flatly refuted nonsense of obscurely misleading non-authorities. And the back check is simple.

          Who wrote it? (silence, change subject)
          How do we know they were receiving their input from above? (silence, change subject)
          What about the flat disconfirmation from evidence? (silence, change subject)
          Can you tell me what in my argument or evidence is incorrect? (silence, change subject)

          Instead of answers, what is offered? More re-quotes of the Bible, and from some of the most embattled books within it. The banal response of a person out of ideas.

          With that, I’m moving on. And Walk, if you want to dialogue, lets make it meaningful, over at my place.

    • A lot of people want answers and evidence of the truth within the Bibles pages. They stomp their feet and puff out their chest and demand this and that. They have in their mind valid reasons why its false, they search for knowledge to find proof and are told there is none, yet many others also have valid reasons its true. Many have personal testimonies of Gods saving grace. When someone like myself tries to help, well you know.

      I thought about your need all day and I was given this message for you Matt.

      In Luke Chapter 16 we read of a very rich man and a beggar named Lazarus. Lazarus was so down and out his only wish was to come in and eat from the scraps that fell from the rich mans table.

      Of course, both men died, as we all do. The rich man finds himself in Hell, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. So he called to him, “Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.”

      But Abraham said, “between us and you a great chasm has been set in place, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.’

      The rich man accepted his fate but then begged that he send Lazarus to his family. He had five brothers and wanted them warned so that they would not also come to this place of torment.

      Abraham said, “They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.”

      “No, father Abraham,” he said, “but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.”

      Abraham said, “If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.”

      How profound is that? Even someone coming back from the dead to warn them would not be convincing enough. Apparently for some, no evidence will satisfy them. If your response is that Moses and the Prophets are myth then you confirm the Scripture.

      Two thousand years ago we were given this truth and it seems we find people today in that same frame-of-mind. They just can’t seem to find a compelling reason to accept Christ as their Saviour.

      It’s been nice talking with you Matt, I do wish you well and hope someday you find your evidence, but my intuition tells me you never will.

      Leroy

      • And now we find clear evidence that later writers added details to earlier accounts, proving once again that the bible is not an historical work worthy of historical respect… and trying to use it this way (presumably to support misplaced belief in inerrancy) reveals the depth and scope of ignorance of, or unwillingness to respect what’s true by, the supporter. And if someone doesn’t care enough to respect what’s true, then why on earth should anybody bother to even listen to such a person?

  9. You have your own messiah, like I do.

    This has to be the funniest thing re atheism I have read to date, and if ever there was any doubt regarding your insecurity regarding your own faith or a clearer demonstration of inculcation at work I have yet to see one.
    If I didn’t believe you were serious I would laugh. As it is, I truly believe you need psychiatric help or at the very least counselling.

    • Forgot to click reply on our thread I see. I’ve done it a couple times too. For others who don’t know you have to hover your cursor to the far right of the date on a reply and click to get another comment window to open, otherwise your reply will start a new page.

      Anyway, I made an observation yesterday and asked why Arks’ religion is any better, or the real truth, over mine.

      Atheists have there own forms of religiosity in that they have their own worldview, orthodoxy, brand of apostasy, prophets, messiah, preachers, evangelists and faith.

      A Messiah is a saviour or liberator of a group of people, most commonly in the Abrahamic religion. In Judaism the Messiah is the worlds redeemer, sent by God to free us.

      For the Atheist their liberator is, of course, Charles Darwin. Darwin, in their view, drove the definitive stake through the heart of Theism by providing a comprehensive explanation of life that never needs God as a cause or explanation.

      So, you have your liberator Ark, just like I do. If you have a problem understanding any of the other forms of your religion let me know. And keep laughing my friend because sometimes you have to laugh to keep from crying.

      • Nonsense. There were atheists prior to your silly religion, it was simply that once Crispyanity was up and running and so many of the natives had succumbed or been slaughtered there wasn’t that much dissent – or inclination – for fear of hearing that box of matches being shaken.
        Your ignorance is showing…so what’s new? as if you care to trace the etymology of the word you will find it’s true meaning, and the only anointing Darwin succumbed to would likely have been as a nipper from a Vicar or Pastor from one of your Bastard reformation offshoots . Which of the 30,000 or so you can find out yourself.

        Your wallowing in self-congratulatory chest puffing is ridiculous.

        I should , however, be flattered that you would consider Darwin a Messiah, of sorts, because at least he was a real person, attested to by more than enough independent eyewitnesses.
        Which is a lot more than can be said for the make believe man god that supposedly fronts your rather stupid, blood thirsty religion.
        So, if you want to stick a Messiah label on Charles D, I am sure he would be smiling from ear to ear.

        Why are Christians just so damn silly?

    • I try to go with what is in front of me and match my comments to the commenter. With you I match silliness to silliness. I don’t actually take myself down to your level of vileness and hatefulness, just silly.

      The word “religion” itself is not the enemy here, false religions, and deceptions, are, and in your case, the religion of denial.

      …it is in these acts called trivialities that the seeds of joy are forever wasted, until men and women look round with haggard faces at the devastation their own waste has made, and say, the earth bears no harvest of sweetness – calling their denial knowledge.

      We fail, George Eliot argues, when we do not see the influence of every possible act of kindness, when we do not cultivate the “seeds of joy” that are within our power to plant in the lives of those around us. And when we later bemoan the emotionally sterile landscape we inhabit, we are only deceiving ourselves as to how we arrived there.

      ^^^

      In Part – From: http://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/religion/artikel.php?ID=204862

      The Void of Unbelief.

      Finally, one must sadly note this. There is a voidness of soul that is an abiding companion of atheism ever haunting its devotees as no physical malignancy ever could. After the death of former “Beatle” George Harrison, news sources quoted him as saying( in those final days when he knew cancer was consuming his life) “ When all has been said , there are only three questions that matter. Where did I come from ? What is my purpose ?. And where am I going?. Had he posited these intriguing inquiries to an atheist, he would have drawn a perfect blank. As noted above, the atheist knows absolutely nothing relative to his origin. Moreover, from the skeptical vantage point there really is no purpose in human existence. Atheism is a bleak worthless ideology. It robs the brain of reason, the conscience of moral guidance, the mind of tranquility and the soul of hope.

      • And you know what happens after death do you?
        Lol..What a twit you are.

        Who says there is no purpose for existence?
        Maybe you have no purpose, or it is so warped you have lost perspective of the real meaning of life.

        Oh, and I hate nothing or anyone.
        Hate is for the unintelligent.

  10. Prayson, I SO enjoy your blog. I have gone from a casual observer to a faithful reader. God has blessed you with such wisdom and grace for people. Thank you for writing!

  11. Point taken.

    But we could replace the concept of God and conceptions of God with another hypothetical construct – nothingness. It too is an infinite, a subject for definitional table games, and entirely unprovable to exist or not exist as a concept.

    The point if the original assertion is that we are atheists with regard to all conceptions of god, and some go one god conception further. Definition games may follow, by which we assert that the general concept is not invalidated in principle. You would be hard pressed to find atheists to disagree that an undefined concept of any kind might prove true.

    We do not go to churches and mosques to worship the concept. The distinction made here is nice, and fairly functionless.

      • By gpoing after the meme this way – that it makes no sense to go one god further when the god you think they are dismissing is actually god qua god (the singular concept), what you are actually doing, Prayson, is arguing that god-as-the-source-of-the-ten-commandments intentionally makes no sense. Review the first commandment (and the third), and then argue that this is similarly nonsensical for your criticism to hold.

        Why do I suspect you’re not willing to accuse your god of the same charge for doing the same thing that atheists do?

        • Tildeb, it appears that you failed to understand the case I presented. The God, my God of ten-commanded, is what I stated about conception second ordered epistemological issue. The problem is a theist, like a deist, can dismiss all conceptions of God. My God Yahweh, Allah, Thor etc and yet remain a theist. Thus stating atheist is going one god less is simply nonsensical utterance.

          So if you find problem with my case, do point out where, and give reasons to your position.

          • I understand your case to be that if god is defined by concept as qua god, then any particular version of it will be a particular conception of the concept, which allows you then to say that a theist can still reject all conceptions of a god. Or am I missing something?

            Because this qua god – and the qua bit is rather important as it embodies all conceptions of god – is a first order concept, you use the line of reasoning that all other conceptions – including the further one atheists refer to in the meme – are therefore second order conceptions and, as such, do not address the concept of the qua god concept… as if this is meaningful to render the meme nonsensical.

            I am pointing out that that argument holds only so far as it renders all scripture to be descriptive only of second order conceptions. And no one in the world I’ve ever met who claims to be a believer in a god or gods – the very people atheists are responding to with the meme, let us not forget in our reveling in your metaphysical nonsense – is willing to jettison as “nonsensical utterance” the source material of their religious beliefs in the name of qua god. But hey, if that’s what you feel you need to do to address the meme appropriately, then by all means: jettison away.

          • You are closer to understanding my case Tildeb. The Scriptures are on addressing the second ordered epistemological ‘who is a being that is God’. Qur’an conceptions of God, Old and New Testaments conceptions of God, &c., I as Christian reject Moslem conception of God and all other but my own. I dismiss the conception of God but not the concept of God. Thus calling a Christian an atheist in regard to Islam is nonsensical because one does not become an atheist by rejecting a conception of God. She is an atheist by rejecting the concept of God.

            I stated that theist, like a deist or Epicurean, could in fact deny all conceptions of God without herself being an atheist, since it is the concept of God that is a diving line. The meme thus that a monotheists are atheists, but atheist goes one god further mistakes rejection of conception of God with rejection of concept of God. This is why it is nonsensical utterance that a careful thinker ought not make.

            Any question, critic or disagreement on what I stated here?

          • No atheist would use the meme to respond to an assertion of a first order god concept (similar to the assertion that god is nature, god is love, god is the ‘ground of being’ and other versions of this kind of ‘sophisticated’ theology that doesn’t represent the views of the typical believer). We leave deists alone because this concept of god is without form or influence due to the fact that such a concept so vague and ethereal as to be identical in action and effect to believing in no god at all.

            But this isn’t what most believers believe in. Most believers assert what you call a second order god: a particular conception with a name. It is to this assertion that atheists respond with the meme… and quite appropriately so. I disagree with you that this response is a nonsensical utterance because, as you admit, you “reject Moslem conception of God and all other but my own. I dismiss the conception of God but not the concept of God.” This is what is addressed by the meme: like you, atheists reject not just most of these conceptions of god but include your particular conception of god as well. By asserting that god qua god (the first order concept of a maximally great being) can still be believed in by a theist who reject all conceptions of god all these conceptions of god is what makes no sense because eventually such a theist will realize that they believe in nothing but the concept itself and not the god that supposedly represents it.

            To show why this is so, I have a question: from where do you draw your second order conception of god? (Because this is the conception that atheists also reject for the same reasons you reject all the other conceptions: a lack of compelling reasons to convince you otherwise.)

          • The problem is the meme does not work in ether ways. If the atheist is not using it in the first order, then he is using it in the second order. The problem is it remain nonsensical utterance because theists can in the second order reject just like an atheists all conceptions of God. This means that calling a monotheist an atheist with one god more or putting it as the meme, atheist just go one god further, is nonsense.

            Your last question is irrelevant in this article thus I would not respond. My case here is not for the truthfulness of theism but answering a popular meme.

          • theists can in the second order reject just like an atheists all conceptions of God.

            This would make them atheists of the second order gods, which is exactly what the atheists are referring to!

            Prayson, you can’t have it both ways: assert in this particular god (second order) but not those (second order) and, when confronted by the atheist meme for rejecting all but one second order god or gods, then running away to hide behind a first order qua god as if this represented protection for your belief in the second order particular god. This maneuver doesn’t render the atheist meme nonsensical at all; it reveals intellectual cowardice of the theist to stand up for the particular second order god they DO make an exception for!

          • I do not know if you only argue to argue or you really do mean it. I stated countless times that what makes a person a theists is the concept of God not the conceptions of God. A person holding the concept of God but reject all conceptions of God does not necessarily become an atheist. Example a deist, a person who reject all conceptions of God, is not an atheist.

            Do you mean to say that a deist is an atheist of the second epistemological order?

          • No, I’m not arguing for the sak eof arguing; I’m arguing because you’re creating an artificial boundary to protect all the secondary conceptions of god(s) from what you call the concept of qua god from the devastating atheist meme of consistent non belief we share towards them.

            In effect, the desist becomes an agnostic because no knowledge claims are made on behalf of the nature and intentions and interactions of this fuzzy and distant possibility of some qua god. In a similar way, most atheists are equivalently agnostic about the same concept of the fuzzy and distant qua god. That’s the meme is not used against such believers because their god and no god look identical. But when confronting not knowledge but belief claims from what you call second order gods or a god (and that’s when the meme is invoked), we are all atheists to some degree; however, the atheist really does goes one (conception of) god further than a believer in a second order conception!

            Again and again, Prayson, you fail to appreciate the sleight-of-theological-hand you are performing to attempt to discredit the meme as a nonsensical utterance when it’s clearly not.

          • It is irrelevant Tildeb what my sleight-of-theological-hand I am performing. What is relevant is, is my case correct? Is the meme confusing the conceptions of God with the concept of God?

            It appears so. If you listen to a fool theist like me, then do atleast listen Alltallt, one of you. He understands and has long ago wrote a similar case.

    • When all else fails, it seems more and more atheist resort to a final argument, that being, “there is a lack of compelling reasons to convince me your God is real”. But is this statement fact of fiction?

      If we look outside the Bible we find Jesus is mentioned by his near-contemporaries. Extra-Biblical and secular writers (many hostile) point to Jesus’ existence, including the Roman writings of Tacitus, Seutonius, Thallus and Pliny, and the Jewish writings of Josephus and the Talmud. Gary Habermas has cited a total of 39 ancient extra-Biblical sources, including 17 non-Christian, that witness from outside the New Testament to over 100 details of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. Gary Habermas, The Verdict of History 1988

      It is not necessary that the New Testament be treated with “kid gloves” and backed up by special pleading. Simply allow it to be subject to the very same historical-critical standards that Classical historians apply to secular literature. When equal treatment is permitted its course, the Gospels fully pass the test.

      Military historian C. Sanders lists three tests in his Introduction to Research in English Literary History (New York: Macmillan, 1952), p. 143f. And seven factors are cited by Behan McCullagh as criteria for valid analysis of historical documents.[a] Using these sets of standards, John Warwick Montgomery[b] and William Lane Craig[c] respectively, roundly vindicate the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. Renowned Oxford Classical historian Michael Grant, writes, “If we apply the same criteria that we would apply to other ancient literary sources, the evidence is firm and plausible enough to necessitate the conclusion that the tomb was indeed found empty.”[d] And Paul Meier writes, “If all the evidence is weighed carefully and fairly, it is indeed justifiable, according to the canons of historical research, to conclude that [Jesus’ tomb] was actually empty… And no shred of evidence has yet been discovered in literary sources, epigraphy, or archaeology that would disprove this statement.”[e]

      “A lack of compelling reasons to convince me” is a default position and given as a last resort in an attempt to deflect. There is much presumptuousness in Atheism and all of it can be counter effectively using our Ultimate Standard.

      a. C. Behan McCullagh, Justifying Historical Descriptions (Cambridge University Press, 1984), p. 19f.
      b. John Warwick Montgomery, History and Christianity (Bethany, 1965).
      c. William Lane Craig, “Did Jesus Rise From the Dead?” in M. Wilkins and J.P. Moreland, editors, Jesus Under Fire (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 1995), p. 141f.
      d. Michael Grant, Jesus: An Historian’s Review of the Gospels (Scribners, 1977), p. 176.
      e. Paul Meier, “The Empty Tomb as History,” Christianity Today (March 28, 1975), p. 5.
      f. Rev. Gary W. Jensen, M.Div. Editor: christiananswers.net/q-eden/edn-t007.html#12

      • LOL…I knew you would show up sooner or later!
        You really think you can make a case based on hearsay? I would never want you to represent me or anyone I know in a court of law.

        The only evidence you have for your god man is the bible. Period, and that too, is hearsay.

      • When equal treatment is permitted its course, the Gospels fully pass the test.

        Oh come on. This statement so ridiculous in so many ways that it isn’t even wrong.

        Haven’t you noticed that Mark somehow forgets to mention the resurrection? That no one can figure out where Jesus was born, where he lived, even what country he spent more time in? Has it ever occurred to you that the reason why there are so many kinds of Jesuses is that the history simply isn’t clear? Why don;t you mention that the academic judgement of many of the historical authors you mention are now accepted to be either forgeries or later additions to works that make no mention of this figure? Why no contemporary accounts of such a person? Why is decades after the supposed fact, even centuries latter?

        The same problems are not equivalent to the histories of other well known historical figures of far less ‘divinity’ who lived in those parts at about the same time. The Gospels do not ‘pass the test’ of historical reliability fully or even partly. Put another way, there is far more reliable historical references in Harry Potter, but this kind of reference material does not mean what is referenced is actually historically true. But you’d know that if you actually knew much about biblical scholarship independent of wishing it to be true.

      • WalkTheWay,

        I’m not an atheist.

        I would invite you to describe, if possible, a justification for the meaning of the resurrection – without reference to the worldview of Judaism.

        Now, to be careful, I am not speaking of whether the empty tomb implies resurrection or not. There are several layers to this onion.

        1. Was the tomb empty?
        2. If yes, what is the best explanation for the empty tomb?
        3. If we say resurrection is the best explanation, what does the resurrection mean?

        Among historians, not NT scholars, there is not a consensus of “yes” on Q1.

        Nearly any explanation is more likely than resurrection on Q2.

        But let us grant both, for the sake of argument. What does it mean? What makes it any different from the multiple returns from the dead described in Jewish, Christian, and Pagan texts.

        Now to the challenge: explain the meaning without reference to the Jewish worldview laid out in the Pentateuch. Explain salvific meaning without using the worldview of Judaism.

        Why this challenge? Odd, right?

        Because the Pentateuch stands as one of the most roundly disconfirmed set of religious texts known. We have every evidence that Judaism was not a revelation by those who had a line of inspiration coming from God. It flags as high on the fraud scale as the texts of Islam and Mormonism. And that means that the blood-equation of sin remission isn’t from God. And we are without any grounding to explain what a resurrection would mean, if one had actually occurred. And Paul spent his energies arguing meaning from Grimm.

        More here: http://jerichobrisance.com/journey/9-personal-thesis/

        • Hello Matt,

          It is an odd challenge. How can anyone explain an event (Christ resurrection) and not use the context of the events occurrence (Judaism)? After all, the two are linked forever.

          I believe the Resurrection serves as the vindication or demonstration of the truth of Jesus’ claims about Himself.

          In his encounter with the philosophers at Athens, Paul declared: “ ‘Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead’ ” (Acts 17:30–31).

          I am not a Bible scholar but I have studied it. In the Old Testament, God’s dealings are mainly with His chosen people, the Jews; in the New Testament, God’s dealings are mainly with His church (all people). Physical blessings promised under the Old Covenant give way to spiritual blessings under the New Covenant. The Old Testament provides the history of a people; the New Testament focus is on a Person. The Old Testament shows the wrath of God against sin (with glimpses of His grace); the New Testament shows the grace of God toward sinners (with glimpses of His wrath).

          • The Old Testament shows something else… a propensity among the Jewish authors of scripture to make up a high percentage of their stories. It is, overall, fraudulent where major claims of miracle and choseness are concerned.

            That’s a problem. Because Christianity does not mean much if it is fulfilling man-invented theology. Judaism is such a theology.

            The problem is thereby twofold:

            1. The stories of the NT are conveyed to us by authors from a culture with a track record of gross exaggeration, embellishment, and fabrication in their tales wherever miracle is claimed to have occurred. This background diminishes any credit we might wish to grant to the NT writers. There is a history of concoction.

            2. There remains little sense in arguing that – from a cosmic perspective – the actual God would have any interest in fulfilling the contrived theology of the Jewish people. If they were fabricating their tales, we haven’t the slightest reason to think they were elect, or chosen, or working for the man upstairs. We should have no more interest in the fulfillment of their expectations than the Egyptian or Greek cults. Or the Muslims or Mormons. It means that we have no reason to suspect that God requires righteous blood to forgive anyone. It would mean that the spiritual universe simply doesn’t work that way, not any more than jihad will lead to a gratifying sexual afterlife.

            The Old Testament and its manifold disconfirmations are the quiet little secret that Craig and Witherington and Wright would all like to neglect. No mas.

            Christianity is derivative of Judaism, and if the former falls, the latter is moot.

          • Says who? You? Seems like you got it all figured out. I guess that settles it then Matt.

            I thought you said you were not an Atheist, sure sounds like one to me. Sounds like all the other Atheist that reply here, “no compelling evidence” and a “narrative construct”.

            I’m curious what happened in your life to turn you. You have total animosity here, so please be honest. What did God not do to make you loose your faith?

    • No specific objections again I see Ark. You talk about “court of law” and “hearsay”. So lets look at that in relation to the historicity and validity of Christ Jesus as being a real person.

      In criminal law both evidence and proof lead to a verdict. Although they are linked, evidence and proof are intrinsically different. Evidence is a fact. It is best when it is something tangible but can be circumstantial. Proof is a burden. Proof is conceptual. It is a standard set by the court and also lies in the individual minds of jurors.

      Direct Evidence

      1. Hostile Gentile Witnesses
      2. Hostile Jewish Witnesses
      3. Biblical Witnesses

      All three line up to indicate proof beyond a reasonable doubt.

      Circumstantial Evidence

      Circumstantial evidence is where the witness has not seen the acts in question first-hand. An example of circumstantial evidence is my testimony to the fact that God is real in my life. If we had 12 jurors who like me, all had God touch their lives being healed and comforted in suffering, then the verdict would come down as the Bible is guilty of being our Ultimate Standard in truth.

      Conclusion

      You can try to explain away one or two sources outside the Bible that speak to the life of Christ but you can not dismiss all of them. An explanation of an event that is probable is more acceptable than an explanation that is improbable. In fact, improbabilities are not even admissible as evidence if there is a probable explanation. So, the most improbable event happening is the Apostles who lived with Jesus going to their deaths and never rejecting Christ or His message. There is no justifiable evidence these men profited from holding on to a lie, even to their deaths.

      • In criminal law both evidence and proof lead to a verdict

        Absolutely correct. Neither of which you have. So, on what basis are you going to make a case. Faith?

      • There is no justifiable evidence these men profited from holding on to a lie, even to their deaths.

        Ah….in the same way those Islamic fundamentalists must have been professing the truth pertaining to their religion ( all those Yummy Virgins, right?) up to and including …and after ..the moment those aircraft ploughed into The Twin Towers.

        Or the many, many cases of people hearing ‘god’ tell them to kill their kids….would you like me to find a few for you?

        However, if you really want to make a name for yourself, simply demonstrate how Yeshua is the Creator of the Universe.

          • I do not have a religion…you should have realised this by now, unless you are being dense on purpose.

            So, if you have any evidence that is not hearsay, then please present it.

          • But you do have a religion Ark.

            1. You have your own worldview, like I do.
            2. You have your own orthodoxy, like I do.
            3. You have you own brand of apostasy, like I do.
            4. You have your own prophets, like I do.
            5. You have your own messiah, like I do.
            6. You have your own preachers and evangelists, like I do.
            7. You have faith, just like I do.

            If you have a problem understanding any of these items pertaining to your religion I would be happy to explain.

      • Regarding “hostile witness”, what specific claims are being referred to here?

        What hostile witness do we have for the miraculous events surrounding the life of Jesus that was not conveyed by either (1) a convert to the faith or (2) someone simply recounting Christian belief?

        I would be highly interested in a contemporary hostile record of supernatural events surrounding the life of Jesus…

        • You can find some of what your looking for at garyhabermas.com . Many free articles, audio and video.

          Specifically, you may enjoy reading, “Resurrection Research from 1975 to the Present:
          What are Critical Scholars Saying?”

          garyhabermas.com/articles/J_Study_Historical_Jesus_3-2_2005/J_Study_Historical_Jesus_3-2_2005.htm

          • I would caution you my friend to not get too caught up in the letters of the Bible, who wrote it and when, but look to it’s intent. We did not evolve from nothing. Something does not come from nothing. I’m not saying to bury your head in the sand and swallow whatever it is the Bible states but to steep back and look at the whole of the Message.

            I don’t think I need to quote Scripture with you, you already now it. I was there at one time, uncertain what I was taught was truth. Uncertain that it was not all 100% made up, then in my weakest moment He whispered in my hear that He loves me. I will pray that regardless of what you learn, or what you may think what your learn means, that you will not loose faith.

  12. Memeological arguments are weak, but they aren’t meant to prove anything in the first place. They are a sort of linguistic middle finger, even the positive ones. Smile, wave and drive on.

    • Allallt I am glad to know you stand different from John Zande, Tildeb, Makagutu and Arkenaten. Perhaps you could direct them to understand the issue. They probably will listen to you than a fool Christian theist with a Middle-Eastern God, as John would said.

          • How was my requests for you to name and define your god confusing? It seems only logical to advancing this conversation, as you seem to be trying to say your god is different. I would truly like you to identify this god. I ask, as the god i think you’re alluding to, has no faithful origin. We know the Pentateuch is myth. The majority of Rabbis today admit this fact… Soooo, Prayson, which god are you talking about? Evidently its not the god of the Pentateuch, so, Prayson, how have you heard of this god? What is its name? Who wrote about it?

            That’s a pretty straightforward question, isn’t it?

          • I see that as being evasive, and not honest to the nature of the article. You are trying to make the case that your god is different and therefore exempt from the meme. I am merely asking you to identify your god so we can examine your plea.

            So, the Pentateuch is myth; you know this, archaeologists know this, Rabbis know this. The Pentateuch is the ONLY source for the god i think you’re alluding to, but it CAN’T BE that god, as that good is found in a work of KNOWN historical fiction.

            So, the question is, Which god, Prayson, are you talking about?

            It’s really not a complicated question. After you answer it we can discuss the meme.

          • No I am not John. The meme is simply nonsensical utterance to any epistemological conceptions of God. A Moslem, Nordic gods believer or an atheist, such as Alltall, could present my case.

            The point is not that a particular conceptions of God is true, but that the meme confused conceptions of God with the concept of God. It mixes who questions with what questions.

  13. I would contend that he holds the Pentateuch to be true, because Jesus affirmed it, and our historical evidences of His existence is overwhelming.

    Also, how can the Pentateuch be a 5th century myth when the Jews in the 1st century, and Jesus himself affirmed it?

  14. As Tildeb pointed out, you are perpetrating a colossal intellectual blunder by excusing your particular Middle Eastern god from the others for reasons which amount to, and are no more compelling than: “because I say so.” I have said it over and over, but “defining” your god into existence doesn’t equal “demonstrating” your god. That type of reasoning worked in the 11th century, Prayson. Not exactly up to standard today.

    Now, if we’re to truly look at your god then we actually have a vast reservoir of evidence proving your gods non-existence, as exampled by the majority of Jewish Rabbis today admitting the Pentateuch to be nothing but a 7th and 6th Century BCE geopolitical myth. No Pentateuch = No Christian god. For this reason it seems your time is being entirely wasted trying to counter a meme, when you should in all reality be devoting yourself to just trying to locate your god in some other source.

    On that note: where do you now find literary evidence for your god, Prayson?

    • It appears that you have join in in pursuit irrelevant issues. I did not define God into existence but simply present the concept of God.

      This article is not about the concept of God nor about the existence of such a being but a case against a popular nonsensical utterance that monotheists are atheists in respect to all other gods. I argued, and none of you seem to deal the case, that that has to do with conceptions of god and not concept of God. Theists could actually deny all conceptions of God like an atheist without being atheists.

      I wrote that what makes a theist theist is not the conceptions of God but the concept of God, thus one less god is pure nonsensical wind-egg.

      Do you have problem with my case John? Let’s drop other irrelevant issues that are not raised in this article for another time.

      • Deflection. Of course its about you concluding your god into a position where it is excused from the meme. Your entire point rests on the exemption you are granting your particular deity, and we are pointing out that your reasoning is fallacious. Unless you can actually name the god you are talking about, and “demonstrate” that god to in fact be different than the others then it will remain in the same basket as the others.

        So, over to you. No ornate word games, no defining your god into existence, just verifiable, measurable evidence…

        • Irrelevant! As a Christian, I agree that my God(Yeshua/Yahweh) is a being that is God and dismiss Ali’s conception God (Allah) and Knudsen’s conceptions of God(s)(Thor, Loki, &c.,) as being that is God. My denial is on epistemological conceptions not on the ontological concept of God. The difference is with secondary issue not primary issue.

          I stated a theist could reject all conceptions of God, including mine(Yahweh/Yeshua) just like an atheist but yet remain a theist. Because it is not the conceptions of God that makes a theist theist but the concept of God.

          Friends, this article is not address to the existence of God. For my case to be valid in this article we do not even have to hold that the being explained in concept of God exists. Thus, I would kindly ask for us to focus on what is defended here.

          Do you have an issue with my case, John? State where and how by providing reasons for thinking that way.

          • How can it NOT address the existence of a god? Your very point is to say not all gods (ie. your particular) are alike. We are saying they are. You are saying you can define your god into a different category. We are saying, “nonsense!”

            Now, I think its also important for you to identify which god are you actually talking about. We’ve established it can’t be the god of the Pentateuch, as that is myth. So, which god is it you are referring to? After you identify this god we can then get around to seeing how its different from all the others. Sounds fair?

          • It does not address the existence of God but the difference between conceptions of God(s) and concept of God. As a matter of fact the argument does not depend on axiom that a being that is God exists.

            The second issue is that I am trying to make. When I state which god I am taking about I am talking about conceptions of God. Which I agree. The problem with the meme is that it does not see the difference between conceptions of God(s) who is God, and concept of God, what is God. I find the meme nonsensical because a theist can believe one less god (on epistemological conceptions of God) like an atheist, without being an atheist herself (because her denial is on epistemological conceptions, she deny for example Yeshua, my Middle-Eastern God, Allah, Thor &c., but hold to a concept of God) E.g.a deist, Epicureans, Platoists, &c.,.

            So again, I will kindly ask, do you have problem with my case?

          • You nailed it! There is NO difference between conceptions and concepts if we haven’t established a god exists. It’s entirely meaningless…. a tasteless, pointless word salad. You are defining “nothing,” then being exasperated when people are pointing this out to you. Unless you can identify your god and demonstrate it then you’re talking utter nonsense. No offense intended.

          • does not address the existence of God but the difference between conceptions of God(s) and concept of God. As a matter of fact the argument does not depend on axiom that a being that is God exists.

            To argue about something, even from a hypothetical perspective, the proponent of said argument has to have a concept of the topic being argued; in this case gods, and their relation to God, the term applied to the Christian god, ( in lieu of Yahweh or Jesus)

            Also, you believe emphatically in the existence of your god, God, and refute all claims for other deities.
            To this end, you should have the integrity not only to define your god but demonstrate its existence and veracity.
            Otherwise you simply look very silly.

          • Arch it does not matter if I look very silly or not. I care less how I am viewed. The problem I encountered here with John Zande, Tildeb, Makagutu and you is that you all fail to note what is primary and what is secondary.

            No matter how many times I try to direct you to what is defended in this article, it seems that I met a solid rock, by a co. that keep going for the secondary issues.

          • Nobody has ”failed to note” anything I can assure you.
            Your defense is simply untenable simply because of the reason I ( and others) have stated.
            Failure to define your god renders your argument moot.
            You might as well be arguing for Santa Claus above all other mythological gift givers around the world.

            To try to establish how your view is correct when you are discussing a non verifiable character, is silly, and the only reason you are attracting dissent is simply because you and your ilk punt your faith as truth; especially to children and impressionable minds, which is unconscionable.

            Have the integrity to recognise when you have made a bad judgment call and walk away and find something else to discuss.

          • Arch your comment confirms what I stated above. You failed to note what is the main argument presented in this article.

            How I define my God(Christian conceptions of God) is irrelevant because the main argument, is that the meme confuses concept of God with conceptions of God. It does not matter if the concept of God or the conceptions of God are correct, for my case above to be valid.

            So, if you do have a problem with my case, you have to show where and how? This none of you, John Zande, Tildeb or Makagutu have shown. Alltallt, from your group blog, seems to understand the main argument and has himself presented a similar case.

            My aim is not to argue for my conception of God, that could be done another time and place. My aim is to show that the meme is nonsensical utterance. Now, that is where our comment show address and not secondary irrelevant issue.

          • As we all know that you are a Christian the argument is at the very least an attempt to belittle the atheist argument,.

            If there was nothing behind your claim there would be no need to make the claim.

            Thus your motivation has a specific goal in mind which pertains to your faith/ belief/ god.

            You cannot divorce the argument from the subject and the subject is unverifiable.

            In actual fact the subject is Jesus of Nazareth and their is no evidence for the biblical god man.

            If you cannot grasp this then I am afraid your intellectual capability has gone for a ball of chalk..

          • Arch, my motive are irrelevant. The historicity of Jesus of Nazareth is irrelevant. All those are red herrings. To show that your intellectual capability is not gone for a ball of chalk like mine then do do with what is relevant here. Address the case I presented, not my motive or my belief in Jesus of Nazareth.

            Let us stay focused on the ball(the argument presented) and not the player(my character or beliefs) Arch.

          • Ark, I think it is I who think you are really lost for not not seeing that irrelevance of gunning for the historicity of Jesus of Nazareth in an article dealing with the validity of “One God Less”.

            My argument does not depend on the truthfulness of my belief. Alltallt is one of you, yet made a similar case. If you would not listen to me then at least listen to your own fellow blog-member (see http://allallt.wordpress.com/2013/04/09/every-christian-is-an-atheist-with-respect-to-islam/).

          • The aim of the argument is to demonstrate the fallacious nature of the meme outlined by atheists that Christians are also atheist.

            There would be no argument at all if you did not believe that your god was real.

            However, If you are able to demonstrate that your god, Jesus is real then you have a case.

            If not, I reiterate, you are indulging in silly mind games and merely pissing in the wind.

            A philosophical argument, whether you consider you have made your point or not is still only that. Philosophical.
            And it will never, ever make your make believe god real.

            So, if it makes you feel all warm and cozy, then sure, you can award yourself a Noddy badge and go and sit at the head of the class and hug yourself.

          • Allalt writes in that post, “once a person has accepted a particular religion they view other religions with the same cynicism and scepticism as an atheist would view it. But they defend their own religion from the same scepticism they lend to the religion of others.

            Because believers share a belief in a god or gods, allalt’s argument is that this is qualitatively different from an atheist’s consistent non belief, so religious folk cannot share any atheism of a non believer. This is semantic argument only that separates the people who do not believe from those who do. But it is not on the basis of the same belief that atheists use the one-god-further argument: it is on the basis of shared non belief in a particular god.

            This argument is different from your own, Prayson. Of course atheists do not share a lack of belief in qua god with those who do; the whole point of the meme is that we do share a non belief for the same reasons in particular gods – a lack of compelling evidence that the claims are true, that the belief is justified. This is not a nonsensical utterance but a statement of fact that you are unwilling to address, in the sense that allalt describes: defending your own religious beliefs from the same skepticism you apply to others.

          • Interesting because it was Alltallt who directed me his case because he concurred with me. Now you stand between a theist, I and an atheist Alltallt telling what their case is, yet you chose what you chose. Nothing more I can add.

            I would let Alltallt answer your next comments, if he so wishes. Perhaps you will listen to him.

    • John, you have given him a recent date for such argument.
      There is nothing novel in Platinga’s argument. It is no different from Anselm’s argument.
      There is no sense in what Prayson writes about a maximally make belief perfect god

      • Thanks Makagutu for your comment. Apparently you have join John, Tildeb, and Arkenaten in raising irrelevant issue. This case is not about defending the concept of God nor arguing that such being exists. It is addressing new atheists nonsensical utterance.

        Gentlemen, I began to think that you team up to address irrelevant issue why avoiding the central argument. Is there one of you having problem with the main argument that the meme confuses the conceptions of God with the concept of God? Anyone?

      • Yes, it would be refreshing if an apologist actually invented something new and novel. 1,000 year old word games are more than just a little bland.

        • Why does he think we are ignoring what he wrote. The word god is meaningless unless a person gives it a specific name. To say the one less god meme is solipsism is to ignore the problem at the core. What is god? And defining it in the words of Platinga do not help issues

          • Precisely. I personally want to know which god Prayson is talking about. It can’t be the god of the Pentateuch as we, and most Jewish Rabbi’s know, that’s myth. This leaves the question open: which god are we dealing with here?

  15. The ‘one god further’ argument is based on utilizing exactly the same reasoning? Once again, Daniel, you miss the point, that what we share non belief in all kinds of claims about reality for exactly the same lack of compelling reasons. But when it comes to your god, you confuse using the same reasoning we all do to not believe in unjustified claims with the object of that disbelief… as if the object determines which reasoning to use. This is an error you and many theists continue to make. Because you believe in the actuality of the object – god – you therefore assume an undeserving exception to the reasoning. You have either forgotten or ignored that our shared non belief in unjustified claims remains based on a lack of compelling reasons. What you lack in compelling reasoning (based on evidence adduced from reality that is best explained by the claim) you make up for by granting an undeserved confidence in the actuality of the object (god) that cannot stand on its own merit but must be upheld by your belief. This dependent actuality is what we call ‘faith’. Put another way, if there were compelling reasons based on evidence adduced from reality for the actuality of the object, you wouldn’t need faith to uphold this confidence. Remove the faith, the god claimed to be actual suddenly disappears from reality in exactly the same way all other gods have gone to their metaphorical graves.

    So, yes, our non belief is shared towards most if not all of these ‘other’ claimed that depend on faith. Your argument that because the object is actual, is true, really does exist, requires an exception to the non belief you exercise regarding all other similar-in-reasoning faith-based claims.

    • I doubt that you read and understood my case. My case is that the’ One God Less’ meme confuses the conceptions of God with the concept of God.

      I agreed that we share the denial of the conceptions of God(s), the second ordered epistemological questions but this is not similar to denying the concept of God, the first ordered ontological question.

      The meme is nonsensical because it mixes the two. What make a theist a theist is not the epistemological second ordered question because a theist can deny like an atheist all conceptions of God without being an atheist herself. What make a theist a theist is the ontological first ordered question, the concept of God.

      Sadly your response shows that it is you who missed the point I am making in this article.

      • But this is simply an arbitrary border you impose to attempt to make room for the exception you create! This means you must first assume the object is actual, that there really is an interactive divine causal agency in existence, which is exactly the confusion theists exercise asserting that the premise is the conclusion.

        There is a rather obvious clue you’re doing this when you present the argument that there is a qualitative difference (that I and other atheists aren’t getting) between the terms ‘concept’ and ‘conceptions’ rather than an obvious quantitative difference we unquestioningly do get (because the latter is the plural – hence the reason for the quantitative difference – of the former!)

        Arguing as you do that there is confusion – by non believers in the actuality of your god – between first and second order questioning that renders the exception you make justified is silly; it’s the lack of compelling reasons for everyone everywhere all the time to not believe whatever. You – not non believers – insist that there is a qualitative difference but have nothing compelling from reality to back up this empty assertion. You simply utilize faith to create this artificial difference.

        • Thank you for your response. Sadly it is still irrelevant to the issue I contended here. I do not contend for the concept of God but responding to a nonsensical meme that confuses the what-question of ontology with who-question of epistemology.

          Do you question that the meme does not confuse the two?

          • It is my understanding that epistemology is about how we arrive at conclusions whereas ontology describes what has been arrived at. This is key to understanding why your non belief in a claim and my non belief in a claim are identical. I’m saying that we don’t believe something because we aren’t convinced, because we don’t have compelling reasons for us to think some extraordinary claim – one that breaks our understanding that seems to work for everyone everywhere all the time and allows us to produce technologies, therapies, and applications that consistently and reliably work – is worthy of our confidence. The difference is that you – and other believers in faith-based beliefs – make an exception to this reasoning… usually in one particular circumstance that involves the label of a ‘sacred’ mystical object while trying to blame non believers for remaining consistent. It is not the one-god-further meme that is confused here; it is understanding why the meme is accurate when it’s about consistency of reasoning (and not the object under consideration). As far as remaining skeptical of the existence of Zeus, it is the identical skepticism that is now applied to your god. And that’s why the quote is about understanding the reasons for being skeptical – remaining dedicated to reasoning that really does work to justify claims about reality – is necessary for the theist to understand why the non believer does not believe!

  16. Pingback: On the statement that “we are all atheists” | J.W. Wartick -"Always Have a Reason"

  17. The fact that you don’t recognise the irrelevance is *the* worry.

    Per a poster on the next page, your problem is that for your second ordered questions to have any relevance to your argument, god must, a priori, exist. If it were accepted, then your distinction and identification of an issue between concept and conceptions could hold water. Unfortunately, this is not the case.

    The meme’s simple purpose is to elucidate that for the same reasons you could discount any number of supernatural entities, you could equally apply the same reasoning to a judeo-christian god.

    Dawkin’s point is not to challenge someone from the Christian community to create a logical construct for demonstrating how monotheism prevails over polytheism given specific criteria.

    I also notice you reflected on the comments of another poster:

    “Dealing with the paradox of an-omnipotent being destroying itself, I would return you to the concept of God, by stating that God is a maximally great being, we mean (i) necessarily, “a being is maximally great only if it has maximal excellence in every world” and (ii) necessarily, “a being has maximal excellence in every world only if it has omniscience, omnipotence, and moral perfection in every world.” (Plantinga 2002: 111)

    If this is the case, then it metaphysically impossible for an omnipotent being to destroy itself (just as it is metaphysically impossible for an omnipotent being to make a square-circle).”

    Even though I have pointed out the absurdity of this position myself. You then asked that poster for a reading list. I propose, for you: Wittgenstein’s Philosophical Investigations (1951); Ryle’s Concept of Mind (1949); Austin’s How to do things with Words (1975); and these should serve as a foundation.

    These would help you update your approach to the subject matter you’re dealing with.

    The relevance, if it helps you to evaluate it, might be considered the equivalent of you constructing logical arguments on the axiomatic belief that the world were flat, for instance.

    Your square-circle, for example, is an excellent example of a confusion that you could rid yourself of through reading the aforementioned authors. It is a *grammatical* confusion, not a metaphysical one.

    • I totally concur with you that “meme’s simple purpose is to elucidate that for the same reasons you could discount any number of supernatural entities, you could equally apply the same reasoning to a judeo-christian god”. But this is not an issue here because we are dealing with the conceptions of God, what I called second ordered question. The problem arise when this meme is used for first ordered question. I contended that if the meme is used in second ordered sense a theist could reject all conceptions of God, just like an atheist, without being an atheist. If this is true, then the meme is simply nonsensical utterance.

  18. Setting aside any kind of truthfulness of Christianity:

    (1) I am not an atheist with regard to other gods, I am a Christian with regard to them.

    (2) The actual one less god line is sophistry in the actual sense – observe:

    ‘I contend we are both anarchists – I just believe in one less government than you!’

    One could prove anything with this line. It’s sophistry, and as such, not worth any time.

    • White, your anarchist example doesn’t fly as there is no “faith requirement” involved in that relationship.

      Prayson, you really should have picked up on that.

      • The aspect of faith isn’t something that matters terribly in this example. The form of the ‘one god less’ thing, regardless of ‘faith requirement’, is sophistry, whether or not faith is involved. There is no real substance to it.

        • Come on, the issue of faith has everything to do with it. Does it require me to have faith in things unseen to believe my government is working? Do i require faith to believe in, although have never seen, my representatives? White, there does exist some evidence for the existence of governments. With all due respect, your example is meaningless in this instance.

          • I think you’re somewhat missing the point. The form of the ‘one less god’ line, regardless of the content, is sophistry. The actual content doesn’t matter.

          • Well, with all due respect, it’s you who is missing the point, and your erroneous example was an indication that you really don’t know what you’re talking about. Content matters enormously when one is talking about things, albeit imaginary things, and simply repeating the word, sophistry, won’t change that reality.

          • My remark was to show that the form of ‘I believe in one less X’ is not valid in any formal or logical sense – it’s sophistry, and a rhetorical rather than logical move. Any particular content contained therein is irrelevant when discussing the form itself. One can discuss the forms of various arguments without the content of said arguments having any relevance to the form of the argument itself. If we discuss the form of the classical 3-step syllogism, it doesn’t matter if the example is Socrates, a unicorn, baby Jesus, or a round triangle.

            Now, if one wishes to discuss the actual content of the argument, that’s different entirely, and the content would matter indeed. However, as I explicitly stated, my intent was not to discuss the validity of the truthfulness of Christianity but the form of the argument.

          • Look at how you have to contort the form atheists follow in the one-god-further argument to then misrepresent it as sophistry!

            A non believer in X does not believe in X. That seems self-evident to me and quite logical but, apparently not to you. You change it to read “I believe in one less X’ (meaning ‘fewer’ because we are not talking about volume but quantity). Magically, a non believer now becomes a believer… wait for it… in the negative!

            This is SOP for the WLC debating style and this underhanded approach (compared to the atheist argument about not believing in all gods and not just all minus this special one most theists exempt), is hands-down sophistry because its intention is, unlike the atheist meme, to deceive. The deception is misrepresenting the meme and then calling the straw man ‘sophistry’ which is then attached by you to the character of the atheist.

            Well played… except it’s a transparent attempt to avoid the argument rather than face it with intellectual integrity.

          • That’s why I used a quotation… to help you go back and see what changes you made to the atheist argument in order to dismiss it. You’re a clever person. I’m sure you can figure out how I correctly identified the form of your misrepresentation… honestly, I may add.

            SOP means standard operating procedure and WLC is the usual way to refer to William Lane Craig who champions this form of underhanded argument and misrepresentation in order to win debates. He doesn’t care about what’s true, and demonstrably so, you see; he cares about presenting his faith-based beliefs as if deduced rather than premised. If that means misrepresenting the position of others, then it’s a small price in honesty to pay for the appearance of piousness.

          • Now you’re just being intentionally obtuse; the meme is about not believing in all gods equivalently to the disbelief theists themselves practice for all gods… save one. That’s why it’s important to recognize the argument is about going ‘one god further than you‘. ‘Further’ is not the synonymous with ‘less’. Because I know you have access to the internet, you can actually look these confusing terms up and discover their definitions all by yourself. The point is that theists – not atheists – make the exception to this line of reasoning they themselves use for all other claims of various gods.

            Drayson is trying to avoid the accusation of making this exception by claiming that the concept of god is not the same as the concept of god (which may appear as many different conceptions, he argues) , that the former is a first level question while the second is a second level question… as if this were somehow meaningful enough to justify the exception in reasoning!

          • So the meme is about going one god further, and believing in one less god, or one god less than a Christian? Because that sounds about like what I said before. But just for the heck of it:

            ‘Flag waving American: God bless the USA! The greatest government on Earth!

            Anarchist: Actually, you and I are both anarchists.

            FWA: No, I love government. I’m nothing like you at all!

            Anarchist: That’s not true. You’re an anarchist about Communism, Socialism, Monarchy, Oligarchy, and every other government that has ever existed. I just take things one step further.

            Get it?  Once you get the swing of this sort of argument, you could prove that Stalin was an anti-communist (since he condemned Trotskyism, Leninism, and innumerable other forms of socialism) or that Adam Smith was against free markets, or that Charles Dickens hated literature (he didn’t have very warm feelings about Thackeray, did he?) And so on ad infinitum.’

  19. I would be thankful for comments or critiques that addresses the issue presented here, namely the “One God Less” meme confuses the conceptions of God with the concept of God.

    • Most other gods can be simply identified with one name. Thor, Odin, Loki, etc
      The Abrahamic god is different to most gods as the defined nature embraced by Judaism, Christianity and Islam is regarded differently by each faith..
      Thus, in the interest of honesty and to remove any ambiguity, it is requested that you identify by name the god you specifically worship and explain to your readers, especially any Hindu and Buddhist, and Muslim, Jain, and also any Swami’s, or followers of Abraxas, etc how this god you worship is the Creator of the Universe.

  20. **Summary of this article**

    The article simply **DEFINES** the word “God” to mean that there can only be one God, without any justification for this at all. Then it concludes that since by definition there can only be one possible God, “one less God” is meaningless.

    **Breakdown**

    First it starts off by simple **defining** God to be:

    > Necessary for any x: x is a being that is God iff x possesses maximal excellence with respect to power (omnipotence), knowledge (omniscience), presence (omnipresence), and x is morally perfect.

    Note that **no** attempt at a justification for this is given at all. They simply define God like this and that’s it.

    Also note that it is using some outside objective definition of “morally perfect”. So it’s not only assuming that morals are objective, but it’s also assuming that God isn’t the one that sets what is morally objective.

    Next they say that from this definition:

    > There is no possible world with two or more beings that possesses unsurpassable degree of greatness.

    But why not? Why couldn’t you have two Gods with equal amount of power?

    It tries to justify this with:

    > The possibility of conflict between two or more omnipotent beings, for example, provides an illustration of a metaphysical impossibility of there being a possible world with two or more omnipotent beings

    I don’t see this any more problematic than the normal problems that you have with omnipotent beings. For example, if you ask “well, could one omnipotent being destroy another omnipotent being?” then how is that any more problematic then “Can an omnipotent being destroy itself?”

    If an omnipotent being cannot destroy itself, then just say that two omnipotent beings cannot destroy each other. If an omnipotent being can destroy itself, then say that two omnipotent beings can destroy each other.

    • Thank you for attempting to summaries my case. I did not define God to mean there can be only one God but stated that the concept of God leads to a conclusion that there can only be one such being.

      I did not give justification for the concept of God, because the article aim to respond to the popular meme that atheists are like theists but with just one less god.

      Dealing with the paradox of an-omnipotent being destroying itself, I would return you to the concept of God, by stating that God is a maximally great being, we mean (i) necessarily, “a being is maximally great only if it has maximal excellence in every world” and (ii) necessarily, “a being has maximal excellence in every world only if it has omniscience, omnipotence, and moral perfection in every world.” (Plantinga 2002: 111)

      If this is the case, then it metaphysically impossible for an omnipotent being to destroy itself (just as it is metaphysically impossible for an omnipotent being to make a square-circle).

      I provided bibliography for further self-study. I would kindly recommend you to do your homework on what, in philosophical literature, it mean to be God.

  21. Daniel, this appears very academically lazy. I loathe Eagleton but I can’t help but feel his criticism of Dawkins equally applies to your writing here (“Imagine someone holding forth on biology whose only knowledge of the subject is the Book of British Birds, and you have a rough idea of what it feels like to read Richard Dawkins on theology”).

    “The concept of God explores the nature of a being that God. What is God? What are the natures a being that is God must essentially possess? Alvin Plantinga representatively captured the concept of God as a being “having an unsurpassable degree of greatness—that is, having a degree of greatness such that it’s not possible that there exist a being having more.” (Plantinga 2002: 102 emp. removed)”

    Platinga belongs to a very narrow and largely uninteresting academic trend that has become somewhat outdated. The Socratic need for clearly defined terms is no longer as intellectually persuasive, let alone as rigidly compelling, as it was pre-twentieth century. You’re dismissing or unaware of a huge wealth of academic literature that shows that this approach is no longer credible. What do you gain from a definition except further undefined terms? An unsurpassable degree of ‘greatness’? To where do we look for our definition of greatness? And so on, and so forth.

    “There is no possible world with two or more beings that possesses unsurpassable degree of greatness. The possibility of conflict between two or more omnipotent beings, for example, provides an illustration of a metaphysical impossibility of there being a possible world with two or more omnipotent beings”

    Metaphysical impossibility or logical impossibility? If two beings were truly ‘omnipotent’ and came with all the baggage that typically accompanies the Judeo-Christian God, for instance (e.g. he is unknowable, he is beyond our comprehension, his powers are unfathomable, etc.), there is no reason to believe that one of more omnipotent beings would be bound by our human logic; a human construct, after all. Not evidently divine or objective. And so why would an omnipotent being be unable to perform what we consider a logical paradox? *This* is revealing of the grammar of the word ‘omnipotent’.

    Your dismissal of Dennett, followed by “Under this examination of the differences between the conceptions of God with the concept of God, I deemed ‘One God Less’ sound bite as a mere egg-wind of nonsensical utterance that ought not be found on the lips of any careful and critical thinker.” Just smacks of arrogance. I disagree with him on a very many things but he is credible enough as an academic that, if he has devoted some time to a thought, you should arm yourself as best you can to assess it. And I don’t believe you are well-read enough to do so as it seems your reading is restricted to Christian Apologetic authors and, otherwise, their snippets of counter academic thought.

    You *must* constantly reevaluate your methodology. The Socratic method is outdated and reliance on predicate logic constructions (evidenced above) suffered a huge below one hundred years ago and academics is moving on.

    Your argument above would, I’m sure, have been much more appreciated in centuries bygone.

    • Thank you Witty. I apparently I do not see a case against what I stated above. Addressing my methodology is irrelevant to what I contended here, namely the Dawkins’ meme confuses the concept of God with the conception of God.

      Whether Plantinga’s definition(which represent perfect being view) is narrow or not, or my methodology would be more appreciated centuries bygone are simply irrelevant.

  22. Actually, your god is Yeshua, and there is enough doubt surrounding this character as to question even the historicity, let alone any spurious nonsense pertaining to divinity and Universe Creating.

    Now, a person of true integrity, who held this belief would make their opening gambit with a declaration similar to the Nicene Creed and forgo any ambiguity surrounding the term ”God”.

    If every Christian were prepared to offer that degree of open honesty then a little more respect might well be forthcoming.

    But while doubt still surrounds your god, and you all dance around the ambiguity surrounding his nature then I am afraid all the philosophy in the world won’t save your argument.
    And this </strong is what you need to address first and foremost.

    Can you do that?

    I truly wonder if you are even prepared to try….

      • There is no irrelevance.

        Every attempt at defining your belief /religion has its foundation on the presumption that Yeshua is the Creator of the Universe, though few, if any Christians I am aware of introduce this character when discussing their god, merely skirting around the issue of his divinity.

        Thus my assertion/ challenge.
        So I reiterate, if any of your arguments are to be afforded any genuine credence then have the integrity to establish an honest foundation for others to engage you.

        Identify your god, and explain his nature.

        • Arkenaten it is irrelevant because I made to distinction between the concept of God and the conceptions of God. Yeshua is in the conceptions of God. Namely “who is the being that is God”.

          I argued that on the concept of God, there is no such thing as “your god” or “one less god” there is because there can only be one being that is God.

          Thus I would echoed what I stated before that you either failed to understand the case I presented or attempting to raise irrelevant issues. Sadly I believe to think, it is both.

          • And this of course will be disputed by every one who is not a Christian. And there are a lot more of them.

            So, once more, I reiterate, identify your god, by name and identify how he is the Creator of the Universe.

          • I totally agree. This is though the second ordered questions of the conceptions of God. Christians, as I have shown in the article, that Christian claim that Yeshua is the being that is God. I showed that this is on epistemological question level not the ontological level of the concept of God.

            You are very correct to reiterate in identifying Christian god by name Yeshua because that is an epistemic “who-questions”, who is a being that is God. The problem with ‘One God Less’ meme is that it wrongly assume name Yeshua as an ontological “what-questions”, what is a being that is God.

            I have shown in the article that in ‘What-questions” there is no “your god” and “their god” or “one less god” because there cannot be more than one being that is God. There is plurality in the conceptions of God (Yahweh, Yeshua, Allah, Thor, Zeus &c.,) but singularity in the concept of God (a maximally great being).

            It is for these reasons that I find your discourse either misunderstood the case presented or raising an irrelevant issue.

          • as I have shown in the article, that Christian claim that Yeshua is the being that is God.

            Rubbish! This is what you wrote.

            Christians and Jews, for example, hold that Yahweh is a being that is God.

            My emphasis

            I am quite prepared to continue to ask the question,Prayson.

            Now, are you prepared to answer it in a straightforward unambiguous fashion?

            Once again. Identify your god by name and demonstrate how he is able to be the Creator of the Universe.

            Why not use the Nicene Creed as a jump off point?
            I presume you are familiar with it.

          • Arkenaten, your response affirms my thoughts that you have both misunderstood the case of the article and are attempting to raise an irrelevant issue.

            Christians and Jews claim that Yahweh is a being that is God. Christians believe Yeshua to be Yahweh, therefore Christians claim that Yeshua is a being that is God.

            Arkenaten, it seems you dearly wishing me to address a red herring. To easy your burden of continue request, I would not answer your question because it is irrelevant to the issue that I presented here.

          • Nope. No red herring, I assure you.
            I just wish to remove any and all ambiguity from this post.
            Let’s start again.

            Jews do not consider Yeshua to be a god – you do.
            You do not generally offer obeisance to Yahweh, thus ensuring the distinction between what you, and the Jews identify as god.

            So, please , identify your god by name and explain how he is the Creator of the Universe.

          • Arkenaten, thank you for the attempt to raise that issue here. But this article deals with the ‘one less god than you’ meme that I contended to be nonsensical utterance because it confuses an epistemological questions, conceptions of God, with the ontological question, the concept of God.

            Yes, as a Christian I believe that Yeshua is Yahweh(‘LORD’), thus a being that is God. Yes, I totally identify Yeshua as My God . That is not an issue here. Because we are dealing with an epistemological questions of “Who is a being that is God” and not ontological questions of “What is a being that is God”

            Unless your questions or comments address the case I presented, namely ‘One God Less’ Meme is nonsensical utterance because it confuses conceptions of God with concept of God, I would deem them irrelevant, even though you-self continue to hold otherwise.

          • Thank you for at last identifying your god, Yeshua, by name
            Now, for this god to be unique, and not be judged alongside other gods he would have to be …..

            “having an unsurpassable degree of greatness—that is, having a degree of greatness such that it’s not possible that there exist a being having more.”

            Just to illustrate that contrary to what you might think I did read the post

            Therefore to show all other god-believers the fallacious nature of their belief please demonstrate how your god, Yeshua, is the Creator of the Universe.
            Thank you.

          • And I have stated, for an honest appraisal of the post for to to dismiss other god claims it is incumbent on you to demonstrate the credentials of you god above all others.
            Beyond a personal assertion and that of Plantinga, you have merely indulged in philosophical word games.

            I am not so sophisticated, so once more.

            We now have the name of your god, Yeshua, please show how he is the Creator of the Universe and thus removing any doubt amount believers in other gods.Not least of which include Jews and Muslims.

            I appreciate your patience and recognise that you prefer a philosophical and etymological approach, but in this instance, with so much at stake, I feel you truly ought to offer evidence for your claim and I feel sure your readers will appreciate the effort in removing any misunderstanding regarding your god, Yeshua.

          • Well, your bluff would appear to have been called.
            Rank cowardice. Sad to say.

            Thus, your failure to address the foundational issue of your faith renders this rather nonsensical argument/post moot.

            And it seems from several other comments I am not the only one that believes so.

            Though you will no doubt pat yourself on the back at the compliments from other (christian) confused commenters

            While you and every other Christian persists with this semantic charade you cannot complain that non Christians treat your claims with disdain and contempt.

            Honesty begins with the individual making the claim…or at least it should.
            Such philosophical gymnastics are the hallmark of religious apologetics.
            You gain no respect and no friends, but merely present the image of a rather confused individual who will go to any lengths to shore up a flagging belief devoid of verifiable evidence.

          • Call it what you will Arkenaten. I stated loud and clear that I will not response to something(s) that I did not raise in this article. Thus I would refer back to what is mentioned above, viz., ditto.

          • Oh, I am aware of what you wrote.

            Yet, if you have not the integrity to face the true core of the dispute re: all gods and the one you genuflect to so be it.

            It simply renders your argument fallacious, a mere exercise in semantics.
            You might honestly believe you have addressed the issue. And yes in a way, you have. The semantic one.

            But that is mere wordplay.

            If you truly think your nonsense would ever convince a single Jew, Muslim, or any other god believer (or non believer) you are fooling yourself, and you can sit there , puff out your ego-inflated chest and type ditto ’til your head hurts.

          • I am sure your god will forgive you.
            Although, I truly think he is a wet fish if he has to rely on flu-ridden puny humans to try to make his case.
            Considering they are doing such a dreadful job, you would expect him to intervene?

          • I am eagerly waiting for Roy to pitch his tent and offer his inimitable biblical quote-mining brand of defense….

            You need a few more wagons to make a decent circle. Those damn Injuns have shot your argument so full of holes it looks like a damn colander.

            Oh, Roy! Cooee!

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