Confession: Atheism good for the soul


I and the rest of Christianity have lived off of the intellectual capital of our past fathers for far too long. The New Atheists have jarred many Christians out of their small faith and spurred them on to attaining a greater faith, one that is grounded enough to envelope evidences and the entire material world. For a while it was, and still is to a great degree, the Bible against the world. The problem was that our definition of the world included all of nature as well. God was against the world he created. God said one thing; the creation said another. The Christians went with God, the atheists and so-called heretics went with creation. But, just because we can discern a distinction between the two, however, doesn’t necessitate a separation. We, as Christians, need to stop thinking with the enlightenment’s “either/or” mentality and start thinking in the “both/and” mentality.  The New Atheists have done a lot to disabuse us of the “either/or”. Thank God for that. It simply cannot be defended. But, there are still many of us who do not get it; so many who are still playing by the materialist’s rules and don’t even know it. So, to all you New Atheists out there, step up your game. Bring the game closer to home. Try to rid us of God. We need more of what you do, so that our spiritual muscles will once again begin to grow.

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30 thoughts on “Confession: Atheism good for the soul

  1. Actually, I think creation says exactly the same thing that God does. In fact, I think creation has hardwired us for religiosity. The countries that have tried to become secular are simply being overrun by zealots, because humanity is fundamentally wired for belief.

    1. There are countries like that. Lots.
      For goodness sakes people, he’s a pastor!
      Stop asking pesky questions.
      Just accept what someone says meekly.
      Stop being so militant and angry and horribly mean.
      So there!

  2. I had a similar realization lately. I’m grateful for the position that the New Atheists have put Christians in: having to take seriously the idea that we should be intellectually engaged with our faith.

    Isn’t that like God, though? After spending years wondering why he wasn’t preventing this group from growing, I’m starting to see that he had big plans for it.

  3. I agree with your article. I am a Christian, but I must confess that I have met more critical thinkers who are Atheists. That doesn’t mean I am intimidated, but I believe it is Christians who need to step up their game.
    We may be able to quote Augustine, but can we be like Paul who quoted the Athenian poets? This would be the Bertrand Russell’s, Derrida, Sam Harris, Carl Sagan, and other skeptics. If we are the light of the world, the burden of proof is on us. Take care brother.

    1. I read a quote (possibly apocryphal) of Augustine—

      “Lord, grant me chastity … but not just yet!”

      —and I was told he was a misogynist. If I had the time I’d read him up … thank heavens for reincarnation, I can add it to the long range ‘To Do’ list …

  4. Good post. You’re right Debilis, Our Creator is forever using the enemy to arrange his own defeat and our victory. This whole atheist push has been, overall, wonderful for separating the players from those who will be more than conquerors. As far as being the “light of the world,” I’m not sure that we need to know more facts. We need to love one another for those on the outside looking in to know we are His followers. Anything after that, is icing on the cake.

  5. While I am opposed to the polarization of humanity, I will have to disagree with your assessment. Perhaps those who continue to believe are forced to be more stubborn with the way they defend their beliefs, but non-believers are on the rise — both in outspokenness & numbers. I think the notion of god will quite literally die out in time and all religions will naturally fall to cult/minority status.

    1. Polarization of humanity? Are you referring to the variety of ideas that every man holds that separate us in some form or fashion? From the way you state it, I gather that you want all humanity united under one banner which dispenses with that variety since it is the cause, I gather from your words, of all the strife; religion being the chief instigator of all the other ideas.

      I agree that believers are growing more stubborn, and I think it can be a good thing. To take a stand is generally heroic, especially if against the status quo. I, therefore, also applaud the stand of the atheist, at least on that ground.

      I must confess to finding your last sentence quite funny. You speak as a man surrounded by insanity on every side. Only a very small remnant, of which you are a part, has recently made its stand on this earth which has proclaimed itself to be the only bastion of rationality. All the rest must wither and die. It’s an amusing thought. God, as a notion, will always fall. God, as a hypothesis, will always fall. But, God as God will always prevail. If the notion of him will pass from this earth, I think it would be a mercy to the rest of humanity if God wiped us off the face of the earth and do away with his human experiment in freedom and love. For we would come to spurn both and live the rest of history with a resolute rebellion against the hole in our hearts.

      1. I am willing to admit I might be insane. Are you? You did “gather” a lot about me- none of which was accurate- quite in the way an insane person might.

        Dan, god is only a notion. People are growing less credulous, and I think we have the Internet to thank for it. The fairy tale of god is being exposed, and it’s only a matter of time. There’s nothing to be afraid of though. We are a race of good creatures, and we will figure out a way to take care of each other after the god myth is busted.

      2. I’m not willing to admit I might be insane. Neither am I willing to admit you might be insane. The word simply does not apply here. “God is only a notion” is a nice piece of dogma. Dogma is where people turn when they are simply being stubborn. Reason and arguments (and some stubbornness) are where people go who esteem their opponent worthy of refutation. If I “gather” things about you, it’s mostly because you don’t give me much to work with in the way of an argument. And even though most gatherings are guesses, there’s usually an inkling of truth in them. If you don’t like it, then indicate what is really going on, what you really mean.

      3. Jussst in case I forget to come back to this …

        Don’t try to compare my dogma to the type of dogma you are subscribing to. Saying something with conviction and a high level of certainty IS NOT following the same type of “dogma” as a specific doctrine that has been authoritatively laid down by an organized body. Are you next to suggest that atheism is a religion? Or that one needs faith to disavow “god”?

      4. I’ve been here before, theguywiththeeye. This will come down to meaning, what words mean. In the end, we will disagree on what the terms we use mean, and I’ll most likely get accused of changing the language somehow to fit my beliefs. You know what’s funny? The language has already been changed and you don’t even know it. The meanings have been tampered with to fit the materialist way of understanding the universe. So, either I play the game by materialist rules, or I get accused of messing with language.

        It would help if you moved past this materialist understanding of words. It’s just like if someone from today were to read Aristotle and Plato through from end to end. This person could write books expounding their philosophy, and all without understanding a single sentence. Unless he has enough imagination, and enough power of detachment from the established meanings or thought-forms of his own civilization, to enable him to grasp the meaning of fundamental terms– unless he has the power of not only thinking, but of unthinking– he will simply re-interpret everything they say in terms of subsequent thought-forms.

      5. This will come down to meaning, what words mean. In the end, we will disagree on what the terms we use mean, and I’ll most likely get accused of changing the language somehow to fit my beliefs.

        Yes. Funny how that happens with certain people.
        If only it was possible to find out the meanings of words in the English language using some commonly accepted authoritative source. I mean, how hard could it be to make a book or series of books or website with all of the words in English listed in alphabetical order and match them up with detailed definitions?
        It’s a radical idea but maybe someone will somehow make it work.
        Hmm.

        Humpty Dumptyism

        Etymology

        From the fictional character Humpty Dumpty in Lewis Caroll’s Through the Looking-Glass, who, when asked what he meant by “glory”, replies “I meant ‘there’s a nice knock-down argument for you!'”. Alice protests that this isn’t the meaning of “glory” and Humpty Dumpty replies “When I use a word it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.”

        Noun
        Humpty Dumptyism (uncountable)
        1.(idiomatic) The practice of insisting that a word means whatever one wishes it to
        (Link)

    2. If you check the numbers you may well find that the rise in ex-closet ‘non-believers’ is in direct proportion to the loss of military strength by believers.

      Amazing how a well placed stake-out can provide the illusion of belief. Anyone querying this axiomatic statement would be well advised to look up ‘strappado’ (just one of the many methods used by the Shepherd to keep His flock in place).

  6. I’m confused. How can it be BOTH the world was spoken into existence AND the universe came from an expansion from a singularity? How can it be BOTH God created all the animals as they are AND evolution? How can it be BOTH God flooded the entire planet AND there is not enough water on the planet for that to happen? How can it be BOTH all the animals fit onto an arc smaller than the Titanic AND that’s blatantly absurd. How can it be BOTH secular morality AND theistic morality. How can something like the “laws of logic” be BOTH authored AND our best discovered descriptions of the universe. How can vicarious redemption according to faith be BOTH the pinnacle of morality AND a complete moral horror?

    1. How can it be BOTH the universe be overseen by an omnipotent and benevolent and moral Being that loves us AND brain tumours and tsunamis and droughts?

    2. God is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent. So He (She in the earliest writings, but we won’t be feminist here, will we?) (or pedantic) … so of course ol’ God can do anything.

      Anything: make a square circle? No problem. Rationalise semantics to make total sense? No problem. Make a woman so very frigid that even He can’t seduce her? No problem. Reconcile the love of Gentle Jesus with thumbscrew, rack, and the history of Christianity? No problem …

      Wen will U dum afeists gettit that God is the Gratest!!??!?!?!!>

  7. Allallt,

    I’ve ceased to think that you and others like you I’ve encountered are sincere in your questions. It’s evident in the way you phrase your questions. Am I really to believe that you have never seen a debate on these topics, never engaged in the necessary philosophical thinking, never talked to a Christian before, never read the Bible and tried to understand it. On the contrary, I think you have and I think you’ve ceased to try to understand these things. You already have your position and will not leave it.

    I’ll leave you with this: don’t mistake your ignorance for mine. Because you don’t understand “both/and” don’t assume I don’t either.

    1. Nice dodge. But I’m going to bring the questions back to your attention. I gave you some “both/and” situations which are incompatible and paradoxical. They are “either/or” situations.

      Here we go: the only way anybody has ever squared Genesis with reality is my dismissing Genesis: “It’s not literal”, “It’s an allegory” etc. Which is fine, but if the Book is open to interpretation then you can successfully write God out of it as a metaphor for our own moral and scientific understanding (see here: http://wp.me/p1l6Sq-6C).

      The only way anyone has ever squared theistic morality with secular morality is by saying that God enforces secular morality (i.e. Divine commands are set up to protect our wellbeing). But that makes God a messenger and a police-officer of morality, not the creator. (That’s a lie, the other way people do this is by describing a horrific and vindictive and jealous and proud and violent and unforgiving God, and then just asserting that God is love… but they set that paradox up in their own worldview.)

      The only way anyone has ever squared tsunamis and the immediate death or prolonged suffering of children with a loving and moral God… well, they haven’t. You try having this debate as an atheist, you get nonsense about freewill. I assure you I am not free to cause or to stop droughts and starvation. Then people talk about “the Fall” and you simply get to answer with a horn of the Epicurean problem of evil (“Is God able but not willing to prevent evil?”) — because God could remove the “Fallen” state and treat us as innocent until proven guilty (not vice versa).

      No one has ever given me a moral reason that Jesus’ death can be atonement for my sins; I am responsible for my actions, and dumping that on an innocent man who was tortured to death is horrific.

      The argument about the laws of logic is presuppositional nonsense that assumes that by adding more links into the chain of understanding the process becomes more reliable.

      Yes, I have had these conversations a thousand times. Yes, I have read the Bible. Yes, I have done some reading. I have listen to apologists and I have engaged with believers. That does not mean I have answers.

    2. It’s actually very simple—just use the three most basic foundational Laws of Thought: (may I? … ta)—

      1. Nothing can both BE and NOT BE.

      2. Everything must either be OR not be … can’t be both at the same time.

      3. Contradictions cannot exist.

      Except God of course. He can do anything, but the rest of the universe is tightly bound by those God-given rules.

  8. I appreciate your list of logical fallacies. But, you have an interesting talent for neutralizing another person’s point of view with generalizations which would apply better to your own. A self-deceptive, yet clever, way to preserve your beliefs. I’m not buying it, and I don’t think I have the time to invest in a cyclical conversation either … but, I gather that you are now swimming so deep in the abyss of your own bullshit, you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between your own epiphany & the lure of an anglerfish.

    1. So, you didn’t come here for a rational conversation all along. You came here expecting to see how I was wrong. You already know I’m wrong you’ve just come here to view my tactics which preserve my ignorance, mythology, and fairy tales. You’ve become like the thing you hate– the religious fundamentalists who never really provided answers to your questions and made you feel stupid for even questioning their beliefs. They spout their convictions and high-level-of-certainty opinions, never arguing for them or reasoning them through, and turn down their noses at the skeptic. Well, I am skeptical of your skeptical opinions, sir. And if I seem tired, it’s because I am; tired of the same stubbornly held lines and propositions thrown at me in the face of my questions. I’m tired of the turned down noses and the looks of the eyes that dress me in inferiority. I’m tired of the mocking and name calling; and the arrogant tyrannical statements. You offer me nothing except conformity. I do not hold out my hand to those who smack it away.

      1. Do you not bring this on yourself? Have you not spun your own web? How many original lines are you expecting to come across? It sounds almost as though you think there is not a single match for you out there?

        I do appreciate your passion and your frustration. I am equally frustrated and tired of the same types of things.

  9. I read this over at WEIT (quoting Herman Phillipse) and immediately thought of you, Dan, and your ongoing difficulties with using the same dictionary as the rest of us:

    “How can one meaningfully say that God listens to our prayers, loves us, speaks to us, answers (or does not answer) our supplications, etcetera, if God is also assumed to be an incorporeal being? For the stipulation that God is an incorporeal being annuls the very conditions for meaningfully applying psychological expressions to another entity, to wit, that this entity is able in principle to display forms of bodily behaviour which resemble patterns of human behaviour. In other words, the very attempt to give a meaning and a possible referent to the word ‘God’ as used in theism must fail, because this attempt is incoherent. . .

    . . . If this is so, one might object, how are we to explain the fact that the word ‘God’ and sentences such as ‘God loves me’, appear to be used meaningfully in monotheistic language? But explaining this is not difficult. The religious uses of the putative proper name ‘God’ are parasitic upon, and resemble to a large extent, the ordinary uses of proper names and psychological expressions for human beings. What religious believers fail to notice is that by substituting ‘God’ for an ordinary proper name in sentences such as ‘John loves me’, or ‘Paul will condemn him’, they cancel the conditions for using meaningfully the words ‘loves’ and ‘condemns’.

    Monotheistic believers often are vaguely aware that the meaning of words eludes them when they utter sentences containing the word ‘God’. But they misinterpret this fact as symptomatic of the spiritual depth of religious discourse. They think (like you do, Dan) that the profoundly mysterious nature of monotheistic language points to a transcendent reality, which cannot be grasped by us, limited human beings. In this case, however, the impression> of profoundness is caused by a mere misuse of language. As Wittgenstein aptly remarked, ‘[t]the problems arising through a misinterpretation of our forms of language have the character of depth.”

    And ain’t that bang on?!

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