Professor Richard Dawkins and the National Secular Society have been under the media spotlight recently as their attack on religion intensifies.
The ASA’s (Advertising Standards Authority) decision to ban a claim that God can Heal demonstratesÂ the dangerous influence on society The National Secular Society (NSS) has and the impact the organisation is having on the rights of the Â individual to enjoys religious freedom.
Yet what constitutes ‘religion‘? And does the term have more than one meaning and could the interpretation of religion backfire on secularists?
It might be time for the NSS to clarify their definition of religion to ward off the debating of semantics in relation to what it is they are soÂ fervently against.
The National Secular Society is by definition a religion in its own right, ‘religion‘ is defined (in part) by the Oxford Dictionary as “a pursuit or interest followed with great devotion” and the Secular Society certainly fervently promotes devotion to a common interest of it’s members.
To quote the Secular Society on their website Â “we campaign from a non-religious perspective for the separation of religion and state and promote secularism”, the organisation appeals to those who “share our belief in the urgent need to keep religion and politics separate”.
This clearly suggests that the organisation is devoted to a single cause and urgent need is identifiedÂ thereforeÂ categorisingÂ the National Secular Society as a religion.
The point here is simple and that point is, religion does not necessarily mean identification with an exterior supernatural force, religion is a devotion to an interest or dare I say it, a belief system.
The Secular Society also potentially contradictsÂ itself.
Back in 2011 the Nottingham Secular Society’s President. Dennis PenalunaÂ complained to the ASA against a churchÂ advertising God’s ability to heal yet the Secular Society charter seeks a Britain whereÂ “The state does not intervene in the setting of religious doctrine or the running of religious organisations.”
There is a variance in the Nottingham Secular Society’s Charter which states “No State action should have the primary effect of restricting religious practice.”
The Bible teaches quite clearly that healing isÂ availableÂ and that God can heal, healing is a part of the religious practice of Â Christians that takes place on a daily basis.
Any validity of claims to heal are not for the Secular Society to seek the imposition of restriction upon.
The Nottingham Secular Society’s websiteÂ activelyÂ calls for what could be identified as an act of devotion “Place your faith, belief and trust in Medical Science” once againÂ reinforcingÂ my previous claim that secularism can be viewed as a religion.
Granted the ASA is not a governmental body however in these days where the grey area between state and authority isÂ blurred one can only hypothesis about the Â license used by secularists in interpretation of their respective Charters.
Logical reductionism of the the world we find ourselves in is one perspective of reality, yet there are others and to suggest that scientific observation isÂ infallible is more than just an edict, it is an act of faith.
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Divination for secularists such as Richard Dawkins is takes place in the laboratory, where the high priests of scienceÂ adorn white coats and stare into the petrie dish to observe and record, which will be followed byÂ proclamationsÂ to the world at large in order to expand human understanding of our universe.
This procedure is not soÂ dissimilar to a devoted priest tirelessly reading through the Bible to share his findings with a congregation who have faith in his divinely inspired observations.
Recently Richard Dawkins came a cropper when he predictably embarked on an attack of British Christians for their lack of Biblical grounding and knowledge and I actually think he had a point.
Speaking on BBC Radio Four, Dawkins decided to reveal the findings of a study that showed two out of three Christians did not know which was the first book of the NewÂ Testament.
Richard Dawkins - Shane Pope from Austin
Dawkins was then asked for the full title of Charles Darwin’s book “On The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or The Preservation of Favoured Races in The Struggle for Life“, but because he could not remember the full title he reduced his argument to a farce.
Richard then went on to say that he felt it was a dirty trick citing the length of the title as the reason for not remembering the full title of Darwin’s seminal piece of work, but even though this is an embarrassment for Dawkins he is actually right.
Those of us professing to be Christians should at least know what it means to be a Christian and have rudimentary knowledge of the Bible.
I may entirely disagree with Richard Dawkins on God and consider his aims to be dangerous to the eternal human soul (a matter I take as fact) but he makes a valid point in as much as Christianity in 21st century Britain has lost its way.
When I ask friends of mine if they are Christian or not the reply isÂ intriguingÂ once the yes/no answer has been established. Many of those who say yes then go one to say ‘I believe in doing the right thing and treating my fellow man with respect and sometimes go to church‘.
However, when pressed on their relationship with Christ, most of those who profess to be Christians unfortunately turn a blank.
Christianity is the belief that Jesus Christ died for the remissionÂ of sin and through Christ man can achieveÂ reconciliationÂ with God, however this is lost on many who call themselves Christians.
And who can blame them?
This is the 21st century where secularism is the dominant religion in Britain and Dawkins isÂ unfortunatelyÂ correct in as much as most Christians in Britain today do not grasp theÂ fundamental principles of Christianity thanks to a church which has bowed down to the secularistÂ pressuresÂ of a world turning it’s back on Christ.
The Church todayÂ evades awkward questions on the nature andÂ categorisationÂ of sinÂ because it might offend someone and oppose their rights to lead a certain way of life.
To most people Christianity is about being a really nice person and doing good things and that is errrm why Jesus came to Earth so he could teach us all to be nice.
Wrong, Christianity is about so much more. Yes Christ taught us to love one another and to be nice but he came to make a new covenant with mankind which would allow us reconciliation with God
Richard Dawkins and the Secular Society may be unknowingly damning us all to hell but their war against religion is nothing compared to the cowardice of our Church leaders to stand up regardless of offence to tackle head on the questions that Christians and non-Christians have about the Biblical position on worldly matters.
This is not about being militant or fundamentalist, this is about appropriating the word of God to a world desperately needing answers and, until that day comes, Richard Dawkins and secularists will continue to erode the foundation of the Christian faith through their influence on society.
I know that a large proportion of people will scoff at my Christian faith and many of you will scoff at my attack on a church which I see asÂ ineffectiveÂ in delivering the message of Christ to the modern day world. But it is my right to hold this belief and it is my religious freedom which allows me to speak.
How long I will hold this freedom for I do not know.
Tags: religion, Richard Dawkins, Secular Society
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Are you serious? Let me guess, you are Christian. Instead of “God can heal” – will you accept “Thor can heal?” or “Zues can heal?” Secondly, prove to me that God heals you – you cannot. Finally, if you TRULY believe your all powerful god hears your pleas and is all-powerful, then prove to me the power of your faith. Never go to a doctor again – just pray to god to get better. Also, since your god hears you, can you ask him to stop wars, cancer, famine, and autism?
Again, an apologist is forced to resort to wordplay to skirt the real issue. You have a RIGHT to worship and believe what you want. You don’t have the right to push it on others. Removing God from the statement IS NOT pushing secularism. In fact, it is promoting inclusion. All beliefs are covered…not just one. There are over 3000 deities that are worshiped on Earth; you don’t believe in 2999 of them. When you understand why you reject all of them, you’ll understand why it is so easy to reject one more.
Hello Wolverine Six,
Congratulations on deducing that I am a Christian, it took a spectacular bit of detective work to establish what faith I hold.
“You donâ€™t have the right to push it on others”……so the Secular Society and Richard Dawkins have the right to push their beliefs on the rest of the world?
I am afraid I have never heard of Zues but I am sure he is a lovely chap and I would not choose to request healing from a supposed deity who requires a hammer to prove his alpha male status.
“There are over 3000 deities that are worshiped on Earth; you donâ€™t believe in 2999 of them”…..again your powers of deduction are bordering on the superhuman. Have you thought about putting yourself up for deification?
“Finally, if you TRULY believe your all powerful god hears your pleas and is all-powerful, then prove to me the power of your faith. Never go to a doctor again”…….now this is one of the oldest and worst arguments by atheists and not one I would expect of someone who’s intellect is undeniably as sharp as a razor blade.
Please excuse my seemingly aloof response to your legitimate questions however I am afraid mockery doesn’t inspire a proper response.
This is great! We trash the word religion so thoroughly that the religious pick up on the fact that it’s now a slur and hurl it back at us. By Davis’ definition, AIPAC is a religion!
Secularism and Athiesm are not the same thing. Being a secularist simply means the seperation of religion and the state – it is entirely possible for a person to be a Christian Secularist. Indeed it would seem a large amount of people in Great Britain are.
Religion does need to be monitored and stopped from becoming too powerful. Don’t believe me? Then look to one of the world’s brutal Theocracies like Iran. But good secularism is equally about protecting religion from incursion by the state.
Also, I find your argument that secularism (or did you mean atheism?) is a religion to be flawed. I may passionately believe in, say, Science, my Country, Manchester United or Contestant X on Britain’s Got Talent, but that doesn’t mean I worship these things as devine. Also, not collecting stamps can’t be described as a hobby.
I have no problem with a person turning to thier God(s) when they are ill, but it is when they are encouraged to go to a church instead of a hospital when it becomes a problem. Tell me I’m wrong.
I am an athiest and a secularist. And I too am proud to call myself these things.
As an athiest, I object to the sly insinuation that I deserve to be tortured for all eternity in hell for the sheer audacity of not believing what you believe. I also resent the attempt to stake sole claim to human morality – in other words telling me that the only reason that human beings know that murder is wrong is because it was once written down on a peice of stone, and the only reason I don’t slit the throat of the first person I see on the street for whatever change they happen to have in thier pocket is because I fear first prison and then hell. I find such a dark view of human nature troubling at best, insulting at worst.
As a secularist, I may not agree with you and I don’t want your beliefs rammed down my throat, and I don’t like being told I’m a bad person because I don’t believe in what you do, but I passionately believe in your right to disagree with me. Religion should be stopped from becoming too powerful, but it should also be protected from being crushed by a state unsympathetic to those who still want to believe.
Just a little food for thought…and I mean no sarcasm or disrespect when I pretend for a moment I believe in god – after all, you did raise the subject of hell – in the end, what is more important? What you believe about god, or what god believes about you?
I am saddened but not surprised by your article.
The ASA decision to ban the ‘God Can Heal’ claim is entirely justified and highly desirable. Advertisers cannot make claims that they cannot justify, or at least provide some reasoned argument for. Why should religion be exempt, especially when the consequences are so serious? We can see the very real mortal dangers that this ‘divine healing’ can do. You have only to look at the American ‘faith-healers’ such as Peter Popoff and his ilk, who encourage many ill and vulnerable people to cast off their crutches, throw their medicines away, and put their ‘faith’ in god (and of course donate $100 to Popoff Ministries), one can only guess at the dangers that those ‘healers’ who hold sway in other developing countries may be causing.
Jehovah’s Witnesses have vetoed, by proxy, life-saving treatments for their children (who incidentally get little say in the matter) with disastrous consequences. This is what religious ‘faith’ can do. Divine healing is baseless, absurd and potentially fatal. Why can god not heal amputees?
I presume you have been to a doctor before? If so, where were your convictions and faith? Let us not forget that ‘faith’ (your word) in medicine is evidence based, and has testable, measurable and real benefits and while there may not be a cure for everything (yet), the scientific method is the best (only) way that has ever been divised to ascertain fact from fantasy. Compare that to religious faith, which, as far as most dictionaries list, is “a belief without evidence, or despite evidence to the contrary”.
This is akin to another bugbear of mine, and that is Creationism/Intelligent Design as a ‘valid and alternative theory’ in the science curriculum, when it barely qualifies as a hypothesis, but I wont get into that here.
Your definition of religion is not one that I recognise, The OED states:
“Religion: A state of life bound by religious vows; the condition of belonging to a religious order”
So your claim that secularism is a religion is unfounded. It is just a desire to see that state and political institutions as neutral on the issue. As a Christian I dare say you would protest the prayers in Council Meetings if they were carried out by any other religion, like Islam for instance?
Religion is arrogance parading as virtue. Please do not forget that one of Christianity’s core doctrines is that those who dont believe, will be burnt in a lake of fire for ETERNITY! This idea is divisive, insulting and an intellectual and ethical disgrace.
Your claim that many ‘professed Christians’ do not know the bible and have not read it, is I suggest true, but you should hope that they don’t, because if they were to read Deuteronomy or Leviticus and many other books in the Old and New Testaments, and see the ‘character of god’ for what he, according to the bible, realy is, they would be horrified, it would be a recruiting ground for atheism and devestating to your cause. Thankfully they don’t and most have constructed a moral framework independant of the bible, that is infinitely superior to that of the god portrayed within it.
Your sarcastic reply to WolverineSix’s message was shameful, (I dare say I may well get a similarly sarcastic reply) and only highlights your inability to address his perfectly valid questions. You pooh-pooh these arguments as old hat, yet failed to provide any satisfactory answers or arguments. That is because there aren’t any, and never have been. Most religion has an ‘automatic respect’ that it doesn’t deserve. It SHOULD be challenged and subjected to the scrutiny that all ideas in the marketplace are and should be. And if it fails the test, or doesn’t pass them, it should be relegated until it can. It is this request for respect that provides cover for the Fred Phelps and Al Quaeda’s of this world.
While I do challenge religious ideas, I absolutely recognise that 99% of ‘religious’ people are good, law-abiding and productive members of the community, and I count many as my close friends. In most cases, I love and respect the believer, but not the belief. However the ideas they claim are divine cause me some depair. They are good people, despite what their ‘Holy Book’ says, not because of it, and it is those same challenges to religion that you abhor that has dragged our society from witch-burning and execution of adulterers and blasphemers to the free and relatively pleasant society that we all enjoy today.
Your claim that religion is being outlawed is sensationalist and seeking victimhood. The secularist’s point is that it has no place in the political sphere and the push to remove it from council meetings and public institutions is just that, nothing more. The NSS is not calling for churches, mosques or synagogues to be shut down, or religion to be banned, and if they did, I would protest loudly and vigorously. I would like to see religion (ie belief in untrue or unproven and absurd claims) less and less but NOT by law or diktat, but by discussion and intellectual challenge to its claims, and a general realistion that it is most likely untrue. Maybe over 100/200/1,000 years it will fade away, but so slowly that no-one will notice it has gone. The bible/quran etc could just become a subject for literary appreciation, or study in the historical development of ideas, but not an example to follow or worship. Much in the same way as the Iliad or the Oddesy are in classical studies.
I will sign off my message relating to the validity of prayer in public institutions with a verse from your bible, which you bemoan that not enough ‘Christians’ have read, but I assume you have read, if not may I remind you.
Matthew 6:5-6: “And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men….when thou prayest, enter into thy closet and when thou has shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret….”
So if you won’t take from me or the NSS, take it from Jesus, the prophet you claim to speak only wisdom and truth.
Thank you for your time.
Further to my previous message, the title alone of your article also displays a certain theological arrogance all of its own. You see you have already presumed that your religion is the “Truth”, and all others are false and doomed to hell, and your god will send them there. This is gnosticism and you claim tolerance for this belief, while your god fails to show the same tolerance to those of other religions.
What if you are wrong, what if the Hindus or the Zoroanstrians or the Muslims are right, you could conceivably be leading all your fellow Christians to hell too? Would you not feel responsible?
I do realise that you may take this seriously but please do not let me scare you or exacerbate any fears, I dont believe you will go to hell, In fact I am sure you wont, you wouldnt deserve that, it is vanishingly unlikely such a place exists anyway. I am sure you are probably a decent bloke who is kind, and helpful, and generous and a good member of society.
But if you invest so much time and effort into something, you should at least investigate, examine and consider whether it is likely to be true or not. If you dont care whether it is true and you just believe it anyway, then any debate is kind of over, but I look forward to any reply.
Whatever you do, I wish you all the best.
@Rossini and all.
Many thanks for your excellent comments, I look forward to responding to them tomorrow after a good nights sleep.
This alleged article starts with the deceitful quote-mining of the Oxford dictionary – the quoted line is for colloquial use such as referring to consumerism or football as a religion, and separate from the usual technical definition including worship, and goes downhill from there. Apparently the line in the bible about bearing false witness has fallen on deaf ears. But I shouldn’t be surprised – this is exactly the level of honesty I’ve come to expect of Christians.
Good morning all, I cannot spend too much time on this but I would like to address some of the points raised in the comments, please forgive me if I do not cover some of the points raised but time is against me on this.
It is a great shame I do not have the time (today…..I will come back on this however so please check this post in the future) regarding some of what many deem as the distastefulness in the writings of the Old Testament.
I would like to start on a point raised by Rossini on manners with regards to my reply to Wolverine Six.
Firstly I responded in kind but probably not the most ‘Christian’ thing to do but I am a deeply flawed individual (hence my need for Christ’s guidance and sacrifice) so I publicly apologise to W6 and anyone else I may offend.
HOWEVER I may respond sarcastically here because sometimes apples for apples is more effective in debate.
Please read article properly I make mention of definition and semantics in article (which you are correct on in definition seeing as it is under the ‘Comment’ category therefore more of opinion in nature).
“It might be time for the NSS to clarify their definition of religion to ward off the debating of semantics in relation to what it is they are so fervently against.”……this clearly points out that I am making reference to colloquial interpretation but as I am sure you are aware of colloquialisms can pass very quickly into the realm of authoritative definition so the establishment of semantics (which I called for in the above paragraph) is of paramount importance….otherwise poetic license is not just something that atheists and secularists will use.
@Rossini and Rob P
You raise some excellent points and I think the best way to answer them would be to give a little background and perspective.
From what i have read in your comments I interpret the main thrust of your arguments as follows:-
1. Christianity is one of many belief systems which has historically been responsible for great works of evil such as witch burning.
2. Christianity should not be given preference over any other belief system and the Bible should be treated as any other literary work and not singled out as the ‘Truth’. ( I am sure that you feel this would apply to Islam or a Pagan faith also).
3. My vocalised opinion is arrogant in stating that Christianity is singularly the only truth and any claims about the divine are not logical and fly in the face of reason.
Ok here is some background of why I am a Christian and I hope this will shed some light into the claims I make in the above article/opinion based comment piece.
If someone could go back in time 10 years ago and tell that one day I would become a Christian or a follower of any other faith I would laugh at them. I hated
the Christianity above all other religions because of it stood as what I would describe as the epitome of a perfect control system used by those in power to control the masses by appealing to the insecurities of man.
The notion that a man who had a long beard and lived 2000 years ago claiming to be the son of God sounded like one of the earliest recorded cases of a charismatic individual with mental health issues mesmerising some very gullible fishermen.
Then the idea that a single faith was the correct and ONLY way to successfully do well in a supposed hereafter used to sound like arrogance had been taken to new level and the exponents of this faith I found to be annoyingly smug and embodied this arrogance.
Logically Christianity was in my mind nothing short of a joke where the weak minded found stability and a way to give themselves peace of mind and lessen their responsibility for actions by passing their wrong doings onto a sky pixie.
There was no visible evidence to support the faith and so I dismissed it and spoke out against it with much more gusto than the above comments.
As I am sure you can tell, I did not come to Christianity lightly…….in fact I came kicking and screaming.
The chances of me accepting Jesus Christ as the son of God and paying the price for sin was nil seeing as I did not believe in sin and as a logical individual I observed that there was wrong doing in the human condition cultivated through nature/evolutionary response and environmental nurture.
Blind faith was abhorrent to me…….so why on earth did I become a Christian who would then go on to embody the arrogance I hated so much and suggest that the Secular Society, atheists such as Richard Dawkins are hazardous to the human soul?….. (the soul being something which defies logic).
Well to explain this I must say this, I have no logical explanation and tried to apply logic and reason yet they failed to stand up against what I found to be ‘Truth’ and YES I know how arrogant that sounds.
It was a moment of conversion that for some reason took place late one very ordinary evening.
It came out of nowhere and was like the lights had been turned on and I would liken it as someone trying to explain what it is like to taste Persian food to someone who has never tasted it before.
Persian food is not spicy in the traditional sense and many of the ingredients are mundane and with a simple recipe one could build a pretty darn close imagining of the taste yet the reality would be so wide of the mark.
In one moment all things made sense, everything had an explanation and after intense self analysis I could not deny what had happened.
I was now the embodiment of all that I had previously found arrogant and disliked.
I can no longer say another faith is as tangible as Christianity nor can I say that the Bible is another historical literary work……all I can say is the Bible is the word of God and the truth above all other truths.
Do you think I don’t comprehend the subjective nature of the interpretation of truth? I am not unfamiliar to logic and reductionism and how my above statements appear to those who oppose what i say.
Yes I know what you are thinking……Richard, that is your perspective because of something that happened to you probably due to some neurological shift in brain chemistry and the justification for your claims are insufficient and hold not one shred of physical evidence.
I would rather be perceived as arrogant than be false to the truth which I discovered.
Please excuse when I say with conviction that anything that takes someone away from the salvation of Christ is dangerous and will result in eternal damnation.
I know how arrogant that sounds to a person of an opposing faith and to atheists.
Let me end this by responding to Rossini and Rob P on two of their points…
“Religion is arrogance parading as virtue. Please do not forget that one of Christianityâ€™s core doctrines is that those who dont believe, will be burnt in a lake of fire for ETERNITY! This idea is divisive, insulting and an intellectual and ethical disgrace.”…………………..Yes I agree it is intellectuality and ‘ethically’ revolting, and I will never be able to supply with an answer that will make you see otherwise. The same was for the apostle Paul until his conversion moment.
“I object to the sly insinuation that I deserve to be tortured for all eternity in hell for the sheer audacity of not believing what you believe.”……please detail where you observed this insinuation.
“Religion does need to be monitored and stopped from becoming too powerful. Donâ€™t believe me? Then look to one of the worldâ€™s brutal Theocracies like Iran. But good secularism is equally about protecting religion from incursion by the state.”…………What about Britain? a country which presents an illusion of democracy yet sanitises the brutal deaths it inflicts from afar?
Which country actively caused the most deaths over the past 10 years? The British government or the Iranian regime?
The insinuation that I deserve to go to hell for not believing what you believe is heaped on pretty strong in the title of your peice. Again I take your suggestion that people like Richard Dawkins and Athiests (or did you mean Secularists?) in general are “dangerous to the human soul” to be a pretty strong insinuation. After all, what danger are us wicked athiests putting people in exactly?
“What about Britain? a country which presents an illusion of democracy yet sanitises the brutal deaths it inflicts from afar?”
Seriously? That’s a pretty extreme claim that needs some pretty extreme justification. Sounds like extreme left-wing conspiracy theory nonsense to me. Or perhaps your refering to our recent wars. Heaven forbid we should actually provide the long term prospect of liberty fhrough liberation. I’m sure we could both research different studies online and throw statistics at each other all day long but consider this – how many people were imprisoned and/or executed in Britian last year for blasphamy? How many women last year were jailed in Britian for the crime of having been raped? How many British witch burnings were there in 2011? So I’m not just singling out Iran – how many women in Islamic Theocracies in general voted in thier last elections? If you don’t know, perhaps you can ask your nearest female Catholic Priest if she knows.
Your conversion story seems to be summed up by saying you used to be an athiest or an agnostic but you became a Christian because it made everything suddenly make sense. Surely you must realise that your same journey could have led you to Allah or Thor or Zeus. Okay so Christianity struck a chord with you, but so what? No amount of belief, no matter how passionately held, constitutes proof. It sounds to me like you just had to have the world make sense one way or another. You had to fill the gaps in knowledge and understanding with god.
With all due respect Richard, you’re deftly avoiding answering a few questions that me and other posters have put to you. So let me ask you them directly:
1) Do you accept that Athiesm and Secularism are not the same thing?
2) I am an Athiest. Am I going to go to hell even if I am a good person?
3) Rossini made a very good point about some of the core teachings of Christianity which you agree are intellectually and ethically revolting and you say you can’t really explain them. I politely invite you to try.
4) Athiests have been marginalised, oppressed and murdered throughout history by the faithful. At the height of it’s power, hundreds of years ago, various christian churches just killed whoever hurt thier feelings. We athiests need to stand up for ourselves sometimes. Why is it disgusting when we do it in the public arena but at the same time you believe that Christians need to do more of standing up for what they believe? Isn’t that blatant hypocracy?
5) So if you get sick, who are you going to see first – the doctor or the priest? With respect, pointing out that an argument is an old and tired is not the same as rebutting it.
6) Do you believe that the church should have the power to interfere with matters of state, and vice versa?
I will agree with you on one point: Richard Dawkins did absolutely get egg on his face over the whole “Origin of Species” full title thing. I would say enjoy the moment whilst it lasts: the man is so good at destroying the weak arguments of religion, so rarely gets caught out, I expect we’ll all be waiting a very long time to see him slip up again.
And no, I don’t worship Dawkins. He’s a very smart man, but just a man.
As I said time is against me in responding properly and there are those who believe that I should not respond to comments but I do not follow that route of thinking.
I am in the middle of singing the praises of the late and great Christopher Hitchens and will give yourself and Rossini more in depth response in due course…..my previous comment gave some background I felt necessary in order to advance this discussion further.
I will answer one or two points here whilst I have a coffee break although i fear to not do them justice in just a couple of minutes.
“1. Do you accept that Athiesm and Secularism are not the same thing?”…..yes I do in as much as an atheist would recognise the distinction between Sinn Fein and the IRA…one being the militant arm of the other.
“2) I am an Athiest. Am I going to go to hell even if I am a good person?”…….very good question and it relates to your â€œI object to the sly insinuation that I deserve to be tortured for all eternity in hell for the sheer audacity of not believing what you believe.â€ comment.
Let me first say that from the bottom of my heart I do not want you to go to hell regardless of what you believe or do not believe. The Bible does however say that the best works of man are like filthy rags in the eyes of God.
Now then, do I like the fact that God holds these values? as a human, no I most certainly do not however (and I know you are going to hate this) as a Christian I must submit (that’s right relinquish) to my God who sees a far greater picture and who is beyond the question and limits of ‘human morality’ which supposes itself to being an ever evolving righteous defence of us mere mortals.
The previous paragraph does not paint the picture of a very loving God but trying to understand the morality and ethics of a creator who created the entire universe in simplistic terms is rather futile would you not say?
Which is why he sent his son…
“3) Rossini made a very good point about some of the core teachings of Christianity which you agree are intellectually and ethically revolting and you say you canâ€™t really explain them. I politely invite you to try.”…………I believe that the latter part of my reply to question 2 goes to cover that question to some point and yes I will elaborate very soon.
” 4) Athiests have been marginalised, oppressed and murdered throughout history by the faithful. At the height of itâ€™s power, hundreds of years ago, various christian churches just killed whoever hurt thier feelings. We athiests need to stand up for ourselves sometimes. Why is it disgusting when we do it in the public arena but at the same time you believe that Christians need to do more of standing up for what they believe? Isnâ€™t that blatant hypocracy?”……… Atheists are hardly facing persecution in the 21st century. and reminds me of Rossini’s “Your claim that religion is being outlawed is sensationalist and seeking victimhood.” comment….which was actually a rather good observation except for the sensationalist part negating victimhood.
“5) So if you get sick, who are you going to see first â€“ the doctor or the priest? With respect, pointing out that an argument is an old and tired is not the same as rebutting it.”…….oh if you must persist with this one…..
Your question supposes that Christians believe a priest should be sought when ill. That is not the case, faith on the part of the individual for healing is what the Bible teaches. But I will not skirt around the question, I would go to a doctor because I do not believe that science is independent of God (unlike many atheists) I believe that science is an expression of God and therefore I would/have asked that the surgeon’s hand is guided by God.
“6) Do you believe that the church should have the power to interfere with matters of state, and vice versa?”…………Yes to the former and no to the latter for obvious reasons. Personally I believe in a localist state and not a national or regional but that is another debate entirely.
“Or perhaps your refering to our recent wars.”……….of course I am.
“Heaven forbid we should actually provide the long term prospect of liberty fhrough liberation.”……………liberation? I think you need to do a little more research on world events (sorry to sound so blunt). I am tempted to refer to the liberation and civilisation of the native peoples of the Americas by the Spanish but that would lead down a road I really don’t have time for.
You make other points but old father time is against me.
As for my conversion experience, I was quite settled and enjoying the life of a non believer and life was rather enjoyable prior to conversion.
Christianity was the one religion that most certainly did not strike a chord with me which is part of the problem. I would have chose a faith which was much less restrictive to my personal freedoms. I think Pagans have much more fun.
Later Rob, but please feel free to pick my argument apart I enjoy a good debate and WILL return late or tomorrow afternoon to this.
p.s. feel free to pick my Hitchen’s argument apart at will also when it comes up under the Comment column
thank you for your replies to our questions. I understand that your time is precious and I appreciate this.
I must say that I am impressed by your honesty in your replies, (but not your arguments obviously). It is rare to see someone admit their disagreements with the ‘morality’ of the god they worship, normally most try to sugar-coat such issues or avoid them altogether, however this only makes it even more surprising that you still revere ideas you admit you hate. This is double-think that only you can explain. Perhaps you just want to save your own ‘soul’ (whatever that is)
1: Secularism makes no claims as to the existance of god, just that church and state should be separate, you can be a theist and still promote secularism. Atheism is lack of belief, and thats it. Although I will agree there is a strong correlation between the two. You can be a theist and still be a secularist, but you cant be in either Sinn Fein or the IRA and be a Unionist.
2: The Hell issue: Hmm. This is where I have difficulty with your thinking. You do not want, or think I deserve to, go to hell (thank you) just for not believing, yet you worship the guy who is gonna send me there (NO THANK YOU!). The only reason I can fathom is that you dont wanna go there yourself, so you believe out of desire for reward and fear of punishment. Basically ” I better do what god says cos I dont wanna go to hell”. Your ‘best of human deeds is like filthy rags to god’ quote is shocking, and just proves my point. Most of us are infinitely superior to this god. And so are YOU Richard. It seems that you are excusing a being that is arguably worse (see noahs flood) than Hitler (I hate to invoke a cliche but you leave me no choice). It is this thinking that non-believers strongly object to (no matter how nice the believer is).
“God who sees a far greater picture and who is beyond the question and limits of â€˜human moralityâ€™ ……..Er… a 6,000 year old universe vs a 13.72bn year old universe, a 6-day creation vs 3.5bn years of evolution? Who is seeing the bigger picture here?
“beyond the question and limits of â€˜human moralityâ€™” ………I prefer to say BENEATH human morality rather than beyond. Also if god is beyond human understanding, how can theists claim to know anything about him? He is unknowable but he speaks with you every day and you know what he likes/dislikes, how he likes his goats sacrificed, and perhaps even his inside leg measurement?! If understanding his morality and ethics is futile, why bother trying?
3: You answered honestly so I say little here, just that at least you see my points.
4: We all (atheists xtians muslims jews etc) in the UK enjoy a relatively persecution-free society, compared to some situations wher religious communities really are facing real dangers, of course there are diffculties, and I deny that atheists are marginalised or treated poorly or discriminated against in everyday life, though atheists in the US have a harder time (atheist senator anywhere?) and this, I suggest, is due to the prevalence of religion throughout the country, politians are elected on how much of the bible they believe, rather than the policies themselves, and I am not sure we would want that here. However I am sure we all agree that religion is a global phenomena, and announcements made in the vatican, and other religious scholarly institutions, promote outdated and dangerous ideas that do HAVE to be followed elsewhere. An immoral doctrine (ie stoning, female circumcision, global flood, heaven/hell) that moderates here in UK mostly ignore (rightly so) as metaphor or out of context or allegory, someone else in the world is taking it so seriously as a good thing, a fact or even an obligation, BECAUSE they are told that they must respect religion and not question the scriptures. But all the good things that religious people do carry out, and I do applaud them, can be achieved without a belief in a god and his doctrines, these people would be just as nice without god, and have the advantage of not having to carry the bad baggage too. Either that or…..er…… invent a new god?!
5: The Doctor: If you were treated by a doctor who was another religion, would that god-guided hand be proof that HIS god exists? You may then have to convert, no? What if you’re wrong??
6: . If you mean limited contraception, discrimination of gays, all day sunday closing, blasphemy laws, promotion of belief over facts, faith over evidence, creationism over evolution, then I disagree strongly with your belief in a church-state amalgamation as opposed to separation. This is basically explained in part 4. Should religious leaders be able to publically state their opinions? Absolutely, yes, just like everyone else is entitled to, but it should be based on its merits and on reasoned arguments, and not just ‘god doesnt like it’. And if they say something ridiculous or dangerous, then they, and the god and the book they are reading it from should be should be hauled up on it, and the ideas challenged and ridiculed if needs be.
Its not that I want churches, mosques and services to disappear, they may be community centres and provide charitable services and support structures (but usually only for the ‘in-crowd’), I would donate to a religious-affiliated charity if I was sure that all the money was going directly to that cause and not to promote ideas I dislike. Many religious buildings are some of the most beautiful things ever created by men, the historical heritage is valuable and important and all the wondrous music, structures and artworks of the sistine chapel, cathedrals, temples or mosques is stunning, and should be saved from dereliction, the ceremonies are resplendant and I dont want to see those or Christmas/Easter disappear. But I do want to see these core ideologies that buzz in the background fade away and consigned to the scrapheap of bad ideas. But would I feel comfortable with or endorse what the preist/imam/rabbi is saying? Maybe not.
I can make few claims with regard to your own personal experience, other than only you may feel justified in believing it, but as it is by definition ’1st person only’, it would be absurd for me to accept such an extraordinary claim as fact, that cannot be demonstrated to me objectively or without plausible reason, just as you would have every reason to be skeptical of someone who saw Vishnu, or Krishna, or Martians or Loch Ness Monster. Mind you some of these are much more likely to exist than the god you claim exists, I will leave you to work out which ones.
The action by the NSS, is in my opinion necessary to a great extent in raising awareness of issues surrounding religion that many atheists and secularists, wish to highlight, and to keep quiet would just be part of the problem. I dont agree that Clive Bone the atheist Devon councillor was having his human rights infringed but he was right to speak up and he has a strong point about prayers in public office and official capacities, especially when the intrisic ideology (as you have already agreed) is abhorrent. Praying to someone who, according to you, will burn me forever is an insult to anyone’s intelligence, and I afford such a ‘god idea’ the same level of respect that it affords me. You may as well be hoping we get run over or get a horrible disease! Surely you can see how that can be considered undesirable?
I do however respect and admire many religious people, but by their deeds and content of their character, values that are common to all of us, not necessarily or automatically by the content of their book, their belief in the religion, the doctrine of their church/mosque, or character of the god they worship.
Does this mean I disrupt churches or mosques, or harrangue or challenge street preachers, or purposefully and constantly provoke theological arguments in unsuitable situations? No, and I would not encourage that, but to be silenced or considered hateful for making perfectly justified comments, I reserve that right to dissent. Perhaps the public forum seems to be the only place left where we can challenge these issues and encourage debate, because we certainly cant do it in church/mosque. So that is why this needs to be said and heard. Religion needs to learn some humility.
I would not go anywhere as far as what Jesus said in Matthew 6: 5-6 where he suggested that people go away and pray in private, alone in cupboards. That WOULD be a persecution of the religious, but isnt it ironic that Jesus in that verse, seems more of a ‘Militant Secularist’ than the NSS could ever be.
If, in the end, these religious beliefs do remain so publically assertive, I will have to put up with it I guess. I do find them absurd and weird, but I am grown up enough not to scream persecution or loss of rights, or call for a ban. I may lump it, but I dont have to like it. But I certainly dont call for an outlaw of religion, let alone jail, beheading, lashes or eternal torture for those who offend me or my beliefs. Politicians and public figures and other ideas have to put up with being lampooned, criticised and challenged all the time, and they just have to brush it off, Why cant god do the same, he is omnipotent after all, no?
Speculation or discussion about the existance of a god and what it might be? Sure. Harmless at best and just intellectual wheel-spinning and most likely a waste of time, one for the ‘how many fairies on a pin-head’ philosophers, but to gnostically claim that a god such as the Abrahamic god exists AND is the epitome of morality? Odd. I would suggest that if there IS a god, he would be so much more ‘supreme’ than any that have hitherto ever been presented by any religion.
One thing that did make me smile was a picture in the paper today of the representatives of the 9 main world faiths meeting with the queen. As they all stood there smiling in their funny hats and cloaks, I could not help but imagine the size of the elephant in that room, (no not the queen haha) but the fact that each one prayed to a being that they though was going to send all the others to hell. Seems silly when you put it like that eh. So much for ‘religious respect’!
If by this very public debate, the NSS have raised awareness of the issues surrounding such beliefs, and encouraged a re-evaluation of what people believe and why they believe it, and should they believe it at all, that can only be a good thing, and I would class that as a mini victory for common sense.
If this issue has made you and others at least think about your religious views, and question their validity, then I am happy, but if the religious response it to just cry foul, demand and just assert such beliefs even louder and more vehemently, or call for fatwas, then that makes me sad.
This was a rather long message, and I dont expect a 6 point reply of every argument I have made, I realise you (and I) have other things to do. I think I have stated the main points of my position, and have backed them up with arguments based on reason and logical thought that is consistent with reality and condusive to a less divisive society based on values we all hold dear, religious or not, so maybe we dont have much more to discuss on this issue, but I am happy to hear your thoughts if you wish. And I thank you for your time thus far.
At the risk of sounding ‘strident’ and ‘shrill’ or ‘militant’, I would like to say that in your ‘quest’ or ‘mission’ to encourage promotion of ‘faith healing’, prayer over action, disregard for science, and further ‘confidence’ in inherantly divisive, uncompromising and sometimes dangerous religious beliefs, especially to the young and impressionable, I sincerely hope that you fail.
“Secularism makes no claims as to the existance of god, just that church and state should be separate, you can be a theist and still promote secularism.”
For me there is either an all powerful God or there isn’t.
If we believe that there is then we should run the whole of our lives around that premise.
If we believe there is not then we should totally ignore the whole religious thing.
By separating church and state we are saying that there is no all powerful god so we are opting for the latter by default.
By saying that people still have the choice to worship but that it must not encroach on society is saying that God is not important so is not all-powerful so cannot exist so the concept can be ignored like some sort of fictional story.
So for me secularism is therefore another form of atheism. It’s just hidden behind fancy words and flawed thinking. They have a choice, either God exists or he doesn’t, there are no in-betweens.
Therefore, as I see it we are now heading towards a society without God led by people who claim to be secular but who, by their actions and words, dismiss God as an irrelevance so are effectively saying He does not exist.
You just don’t get it.
We now live in a Country where the Head of State, despite being a CofE churchgoer all her life, is now “defender of faiths” PLURAL. It is a live and let live attitude rather than the fervent missionary attitude of the past. It says NOT “For me there is either an all powerful God or there isnâ€™t.” No, it says I believe one thing but I have no problem with you believing another. Indeed, that there may be many Gods which is in direct conflict with the text you believe in!
When you post religous pieces and all the weight of comment is against you I don’t know whether to consider you brave or foolish but in reality, you already know what I think. I grew up watching David Attenborough present natural history on TV and realised early on that religion, ALL OF THEM, is the unintelligent position. Your faith is your problem which may have been self inflicted by too many magic mushrooms.
As an athiest I draw comfort from the fact that I cannot go to hell since it is merely a human invention. If I had any expectation of Heaven I’d have topped myself before now. We don’t have a properly secular society yet and that is one of the very few things I envy the French for. But we do follow a Christian calendar and I like giving and receiving presents at Christmas. I just wish the country didn’t have to shut down for a fortnight.
I’d thank you to not inflict your Christianity on me and in return I’ll cease the ridicule.
All I said in the comment above is that there either we believe in an all powerful God or we don’t and the state should be run accordingly.
Please check out the official titles that HM Queen has:
“The Sovereign holds the title ‘Defender of the Faith and Supreme Governor of the Church of England’.” – no plural there.
And you will see that the concept of an all-powerful God starts with the monarch being crowned by the Archbishop of Canterbury, i.e. deriving her power from God. That power is passed down to the people, by convention only, via the government. But the Monarch still to this day provides the signature that brings Acts of Parliament into law, or empowers ministers and statutory instruments to function. It is Her Majesty’s government and she asks the leader of the winning party to form the government.
The armed forces belong to the monarch – the list goes on. All power in this country is deemed to have originated from God. Why do you think government ministers have leapt to the defence of prayers in councils so readily? A subject that the opposition have decided not to address and make their usual political capital from (as far as I can tell).
On the matter of intelligence, is it better to believe in a supreme creator, or is it better to believe in a possible as yet unexplained series of completely fluky accidents that turned nothing into everything then life? Or are they both as viable as each other?
Any state that believes that an all-powerful God exists should run the state accordingly, but be tolerant to other faiths and non-believers as long as their practices do not go against the law of the land. Where’s the problem?
In an atheist state God worshippers would not be penalised for believing in a God would they? Except that in time they would probably not be allowed to ‘indoctrinate’ their children or other people. There would I suspect be little tolerance shown there.
Last thing, just because a lot of people say something doesn’t make it right.
Is impossible to discuss anything in a rational way if you believe there is such thing as Â«the word of GodÂ».
The pathetic arrogance of atheists is astounding. They are quite happy to tell us there is no god and at the same time don’t want to be subjected to people preaching their beliefs because they are so right. The author is right, atheists are practising a religion.but vehemently deny it.
And Richard Dawkins is clever for those with a low IQ.
If man hadn’t invented God there would be no need for the term athiest. I am also a non-smoker, another term which wouldn’t exist if tobacco hadn’t been dried, rolled, lit and inhaled. I do agree that some people are fervent in their anti-religion but it doesn’t involve any form of prayer or worship.
I will miss Christopher Hitchens, he was a smart and brilliant man. I often felt challenged by what he wrote. Unlike other new Atheists I felt that Hitchens was open to the arguments of others, and sometimes willing to revise his views based on new evidence or new experiences. Some of his most thoughtful works were some of the essays I read during the last year.
That said I am a Christian, and as Christian I can declare that God is knowable, and that he is real. Christianity for me is a reality, and puts history, time, space, science, creation — all things really — into a perspective that make sense to me. I know that is subjective, and I know that isn’t persuasive to those who lack belief, but it doesn’t change the truth of it.
For those who don’t believe, I have observed that it is often not so much that they don’t believe in God, but rather what exists is a moral objection to a creator that would set standards and judge them for their behavior.
Atheists, might take offense that I believe that they are going to hell, but that doesn’t change the reality that God loves all of us, and sent His Son to die for our sins. I don’t wish people to go to hell, God doesn’t want people to go to hell. But, you have free will, and you can choose between eternal life and eternal death, some people choose eternal death over life.
I know that it is harder to believe than not to, but I suspect that Mr. Davis at some point in his life had an experience like the apostle Paul on the Damascus road, and as a result gave his life to Christ. I also had a similar experience, and I continue to see and feel God’s presence in my life.
“For me there is either an all powerful God or there isnâ€™t”
CORRECT! But if there is, no-one can claim they know which one it is, including you. It may well be the the “One True God” has yet to be revealed and will put all Sycophantic Heaven-Seeking False God Followers into a lake of fire for eternity, while those non-believers (atheists) are rewarded with an eterenity in paradise for doing good, just for the sake of doing good. What if you are wrong?
“If we believe that there is then we should run the whole of our lives around that premise.”
I, like you, am of the “you take religion 100% or not at all” school, with no inbetweens. And as you are probably aware by now, I have chosen the latter. You have presumably taken the whole thing as 100% true. I can therefore presume that you will be stoning unruly kids, and adulterers, throwing gays off cliffs, praying in a cupboard (Matthew 6:5-6) etc. If not, then you have just undercut your own argument.
As far as a secular state is concerned, if you want to watch a football match, do it in your own time at the stadium. If you want to watch eastenders, record it and watch at home, if you want to listen to music, get an iPod and listen at you own leisure. Want to pray to a genocidal maniac? Pray in your head on the way to work, get up 20mins earlier and do it at home or, this is just a suggestion…..Go to church!
You redefinitions of atheism/secularism are irrelevant, we know what our position is, and so do you. It has been stated clearly enough here.
God is irrelevant as far as government is concerned. Not the same as saying he doesnt exist, but as you cant grasp that concept, I wont say it again.
“we are now heading towards a society without God”
We have ALWAYS been in a society without god. Can you name the last time god stepped in to accomplish anything for any society?
We have a government without god, and we prefer one without religion too.
Neither can anyone say that there is definitely no God. Not even Professor Dawkins who yesterday said in an Oxford debate with Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, that he was an agnostic as he believed ’6.9 out of 7′ that there was no God – ie not completely.
And as I look around this world I tend to get the impression that it is man that is the genocidal maniac, usually because they disregard the odd commandment or two.
God is not irrelevant as far as government is concerned. Their power is derived from the monarch – after an election the leader of the winning party goes to the palace to be asked to form a government and all laws are still signed into force by the monarch. And who crowns the monarch? The archbishop in Westminster Abbey on behalf of God.
Someone created the universe, if not how did it come about? Oh! Of course there was absolutely nothing then a big bang and hey presto everything. Which is the more ludicrous argument?
Few atheists say 100% there is no god. Most say there is no evidence to prove that there is one, and the possiblity (at least as far as any holy books so far have presented) is so unlikey that I consider it to be of no explanatory or helpful value.
Dawkins has stated his position many times. He (as do I) consider the existance of god as likely as the tooth fairy/santa/goblins. No-one can categorically say these things DONT exist. But they are so unlikely that no-one considers it as relevant.
I dare say Dawkins is also a 6.9 with regards to the tooth fairy,
It is even true that it is not 100% ABSOLUTE SCIENTIFIC PROOF that the earth is a sphere, but the evidence is so overwhelmingly in favour that it is, that it would be absurd to deny it. So science (and most atheists) cannot and do not profess anything to be 100%
Compare this with the position of many (most) theists and they say they KNOW 100% that god is real. This is gnostic arrogance.
As far as humans being Genocidal Maniacs, even Hitler pales into insignificance compared to Yahweh. Dont forget god killed EVERYONE ON THE PLANET (-8).
The major difference is that when we have a genocidal maniac he is roundly condemened by all decent folk, held up as an example NOT to follow and no-one attempts to defend such acts, Germany is ashamed (and so it should be) of this dark part of its history. Whereas as you praise and worship the Divine Genocidal Maniac as the most wonderful thing ever.
What Say You?
I will say very little about your the queen/government is ordained by god’ claims. You are already assuming your premise that god exists and there is no evidence to support you case, let alone ‘proof’.
Why do you think that it was a ‘someone’ that was the cause of the universe. Again you are assuming you premise prematurely. Who causes storms? Zeus? Positing a god at the beginning of the universe is useless and tells you nothing. Just as assuming Zeus causes storms. If we had been satisfied with that as an explanation, where would meteorology be today, no weather warnings? Assuming a god also prevents you from investigating and tryng to find the real answer. Luckily science doesnt work in that way.
Your description of the Big Bang Theory is ignorant, a strawman and just shows your lack of undersanding. You havent even done any research into it have you? If you did, you would know that Big Bang Theory does NOT say a big explosion happened and hey presto everything appeared. Big Bang Theory does NOT say that everything came from nothing. BBT explains an Expansion Event (not an explosion) and can get back to the PLanck Time which is 10(-43) secs after the big bang, before that time, events are not yet clearly understood so basically no-one knows (including science) but they are investigating.
So BBT does NOT say everything came from NOTHING. All it can say is that everything came from a superdense point about 13.72bn years ago.
However believers (including you I suspect) say that everything DID come from nothing instantaneously about 6,000 years ago. So if you think that something coming from nothing instantly is stupid, then where does that leave the Genesis account? Again you undercut your own argument.
My recommendation is that before you make ridiculous claims about matters you know little to nothing about, you should do a little research, you might learn something. You dont need to be a physicist to understand the basics.
Otherwise you will make daft uneducated statements like you did above, and you WILL be hauled up on it and intellectually slapped down.
So please dont say that BBT says everything came from nothing instantly in a big explosion, or you will be laughed at.
Now you know. Dont say I never told you.
But DONT take my word for it. Go look it up for yourself from a respectable source (ie no creationists haha)
Just a quick note with regards to the headline of your article.
How can Richard Dawkins be sending ‘US ALL’ to hell. If the god you believe in is real, how would that affect YOUR path to paradise? If you keep believing and worshipping, you will be fine.
Why dont you just do what most believers do, and gloat that we non-believers will be burning in hell forever. That should cheer you up no end!
There is a big diamond in the center of Earth. It, somewhere, affects me, my thinking and decisions. One night I saw it in a dream, and it usually appears to people. For me, a diamond believer, it is knowable. A neighbour could see the shine in the kitchen wall. The more you believe and follow the diamond orders the more you heal and became inmortal. The more you deny the diamond the more you probably will die soon, in infinite pain.
I don’t figure why a 6 years old child has to be taught about this at school, or a big diamond in the court, or a politician who swear he believes in the diamond or people, or people getting AIDS because the diamond told them to have relations with no protection, or a woman burned because she was against the diamond…
I was educated as a catholic christian and I was a good one until, about, 25 years old. Even I thought seriously to be a priest when I was eighteen. Nothing special happened to me to change my mind. I just started thinking. I was at mass listening to every word and thinking Â«What the hell are they talking about?Â». Everything started to loose sense. Until now, where I think maybe we can have philosophical discussions or arguments about the existence of God or his inexistence. (I agree with Dawkins when he says seems impossible to prove god inexistence. Also is imposible to prove there is a diamond in the center of the Earth or a giant flying dog in a distant galaxy and that’s the reason why I believe there is no diamond, dog or god).
But I’m completely sure of something: everything below the idea of God, i mean, the religions, are (today) a very silly thing. They have personal and private dogmas and beliefs, I don’t care if they say the Earth is flat. Believe whatever you want, Jesus, Shiva, the dog or the Diamond. But the state, the societies, the democracies must be neutral and based on the ideas proposed, tested and accepted by scientific methods.
The state can’t priorize one belief to decide to make a blood transfusion to save a child life. That’s, at least, silly. The society has to be secular.
It is not a problem of god existance. It is a religious problem. State and religion must be separated everywhere, forever.
To the Militant Christians,
It is obvious that you wish to keep prayer as part of public proceedings, but hey, why not go the whole hog and enshrine biblical law as state law.
We can have stoning of unruly kids,
State-sponsored killing of adulterers, blasphemers,
Gays can be thrown off cliffs.
Death to thise who work on sundays (does that include vicars priests etc)
What is the punishment for those who deny the holy spirit, ie atheists, muslims, jews (according to you, they killed Jesus – when we all know it was god who killed Jesus) Are they killed or just kicked out or do they have to pay higher taxes? This IS a CHRISTIAN country after all. Goddammit!!
Surely this would be something you would wish for Britain?
If not, why not? PLease provide non-biblical reasons.
I would love to receive answers from theists.
Prayer gives someone time to reflect on a greater good.
Without a God in existence to guide you then we are mere biological machines where every thought and act is a pure self and race preservation exercise. We are all separate robots where ‘society’ is there for us to exploit to ensure our genes are passed on. In fact ‘society’ would therefore be just a means for relatively weak people to gang together to control the strong who are always looking to advantage themselves.
That also means that we do not need to worry about other people, in fact worrying about and helping other people becomes a weakness unless it is part of your overall robotic survival strategy.
But without a God you personally can expect to live for about 80 years with no reason to worry about if the planet goes on turning after your death or if people pray to a God. If you are worried about that it must in your atheist world just be something about that mechanical race survival instinct that accidental nature somehow instilled in you.
With so little time on the planet why are you so intent on trying to get believers to renounce God? After all it can’t matter to you can it?
Your insinuation that without a god we are empty, life is meaningless and that we are all just out for ourselves, and we dont care about anyone else is a lie. You are equating my understanding of natural history with a desire for this as a way of life. I am sorry but you are spreading false information. Where are you getting this stuff from?
Because without a God all humans are just biological robots responding at all times to survival needs, nothing more. If this is not the case then what are humans for in this universe, which atheists say was formed totally accidentally?
Also I hear the phrase “MILITANT secularists”in response to people who are just stating their justified concerns.
What would a NON-militant secularist be like, (ie just a secularist) would he just basically keep his mouth shut?
How do YOU define a secularist from a militant secularist?
My my. I always wonder why atheists get so hot under the collar. If there is no God then you only have a scant 70-80 years on this planet, about a third of which is either as a child or as an infirm old adult.
Therefore, instead of arguing with theists, why not just go out and enjoy what fleeting life you have left?
Or is there some hidden fear in you that you might just be wrong, but like all members of a gang you want to drag as many people down with you as possible if it turns out there is a God?
If there is no God then you are right so relish it and move on. But I suspect that when the Grim Reaper calls you will be hedging the bets you have made all the way through your life.
“My my. I always wonder why atheists get so hot under the collar.”
ME??!! HOT UNDER THE COLLAR????!!! GGRRRRR!! #@Â£$!!!!!
Your remark is condescending. We are raising some important issues here and we have some perfectly valid points, (see above) which you are avoiding addressing.
While we dont believe any gods exist, we do acknowledge that religion does. And the belief and ‘faith’ in the religions that seem to dominate are harmless at best, but harmful to indiviuals and society. Your beliefs inform your actions, we think the idea of the carrot and stick of idea of eternal Paradise/Hell can make people believe and do irrational and dangerous things, just because the book says so. And the books say some weird and horrid things. And people really believe it, with no good reason or evidence. And we have to live in the society too. We dont think you should have a get free ride, so we challenge your aim to encourage your beliefs, and I reserve a right to challenge to those ideas in an open forum as this, and demystify the beliefs behind them. So we get a say. This is a public article with a reply feature and so we can raise concioussness and outreach to others who may come to this page, read our arguments and maybe consider our position.
You also give the patronising impression that you think I am an atheist cos I want to go partying, sleep around and get drunk 7 days a week (I only go 6 days!) just cos I dont want to feel guilty or cos god hates it. I have many interests that I like to discuss and debate, some serious, some not so.
The headline of this article is sensationalist and uses scare tactics to demonise atheists/secularists amongst believers. If you need to use fear to argue your case, that says little for the strength of your argument. Some believers who are (ahem) ‘Confident’ in their faith may take you literally, and decide that we are blocking their path to paradise and consigning them to hell. This is “Strident” and “Shrill”. You are propagating mis-information about secularists/atheists, and encouraging untrue beliefs and this is precisely the kind of thing we object to. so you should expect that we call you up on it.
Atheists dont fear hell, how does that make any sense if we dont believe it exists?that is an absurd statement, however I am saddened that people are threatened into thinking that I will go there, and the only thing that can do that is, yes religion.
Your final paragraph. Hmmm. Just as I expected, invoking a threat. It’s all you have left. This is another example of why we speak out. Low.. man ….low.
Shame you are probably a really nice person too.
All I’m saying in the final paragraph is that the closer people get to death the more fundamental questions they ask and will probably be asking for forgiveness from God just in case.
As to the harm religion does, I fear an atheist world far more. Why? Because without a God and some higher law then man can make it up as he goes along. That means that the strongest and / or fittest (by which I mean those that fit into society best) always prevail no matter what the situation The weak will go to the wall. Because without a God we are mere biological machines and love is just a preprogrammed survivalist response.
Your last paragraph was not a cuddly thought so dont try to dress it up as one. You were gloating at the thought that I will burn in hell forever werent you? This kind of thinking is worrying and I could argue, downright bad manners.
Here in the UK, the ‘man made’ laws we have are superior to the ‘god given’ ones you seek to return to (do you want a return to stoning for blasphemers, adultererers, hanging for gays? see Iran). Secular laws are open to adaptability, improvement whereas biblical laws are fixed, stagnant and once you accept a 2000 year old morality as timeless and eternal, you can never progress beyond it. When you look at those societies who do follow religious laws and count them as perfect you get a Saudi Arabia, or Afghanistan or Iran. Do you really want this?
You erroneously equate a secular society with Social Darwinism and you claim that this means we are promoting an ‘Evolutionary” or ‘Survival of the fittest” mechanism for society. This again is another strawman. While I accept evolution as the explanation for our origins and the natural world I do NOT want my society to be run under those means. That would be a HORRID world to live in. My understanding of evolution is not a ‘world view’ and has NOTHING to do with my political persuasions, these issues are separate. So please do not equate the two.
This article and your comments are painting a bad picture of our position. You are strawmanning and claiming I hold ideas that I dont, in order to bolster your own position, and I have to correct you.
I fervently hope that you do NOT burn in hell, but as far as I am concerned that is your choice.
You say that you do not want a ‘survival of the fittest’ society but without a God that is all there is. It’s just how it is organised that changes as ‘survival needs’ change.
You also seem to be painting a picture that all those that believe in God want to resort to hideous punishment for those deemed not worthy. That is the ‘strawmanning’ and claiming that people hold ideas that they don’t.
What are you talking about? I do NOT choose to bun in hell. Your arguments are ill-conceived, unsophistacated and silly. If that is your argument, then your god is no better than a Mafia boss and you are his foot-soldier. Which is quite a good analogy.
If I held a gun to you head and asked you to give me Â£1,000 and you dont (cos you dont have it) then are you ‘choosing’ for me to shoot you in the head?
I choose not to follw the bible, or belive in god and I also choose NOT to go to hell. So THERE!! And I refute you insiniuation that I am militant for my objection to you promoting this daft idea.
You have repeatedly claimed that you want society to follow biblical laws, that the bible is the perfect society and secularism is something to be fought.
You have failed repeatedly to give any coherent idea of what a society goverened by biblical law would be. You just claim that you desire it. What laws would you bring in. Without any explanation from your end, all we have is the bible to go by as an indication of what you want.
Most examples of societies that DO strictly follow a holy book, end up producing the kind of things you say you are against. See Iran Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan for the direction you wish to proceed in.
If you dont want people being stoned to death for minor perceived transgressions, or gays flung off cliffs. Then YOU TOO are a secularist at at least to some degree, and are rejecting the bible. So why dont you just say so?
If I am strawmanning you, please inform me of which biblical laws you want in, and those you want to ignore.As you have mentioned above, you either take it all 100% or leave it. There can be no half-way house.
You have just demonstrated that by not condoning stoning for adultery etc, that you dont even believe in your own book.
If you want the bible as our 100% law-giver then these things are all part of the package.
If you dont want these. Then you are a secularist.
Rossini, you are putting words in my mouth in order to support your weakening argument. I said that you either believe in an all powerful God or you don’t. I have nor mentioned the Bible have I? In fact you have mentioned it several times.
So please don’t tell me what I am trying to say.
But I would be very intrigued as to your completely logical argument as to what human intellect is for if it was not God given.
Dont move the goalposts. You claim that man-made laws are undesirable and that gods laws are superior to man made ones. You are a Xtian I presume, so you get your info about god from the bible yes? If you dont get your god-given laws from the bible, from where do you get them? You are backing away from the whole point of this article.
Please tell us what god-given laws you wish to have, and where you got them from.
Intelligence has evolved via natural selection. Its an emergant property of the brain, like consciousness and thoughts. If you are a creationist, then you deny reality. And once again you are assuming your premise (that a god exists) prematurely. A god is not required to explain intelligence, juat as a god is not required to explain the weather.
You have shown that you have concocted your ideas in the absence of any challenge and that you are used to dicussing these things only with people with whom you already agree with.
For a start, why dont you give me 10 laws you want to see introduced, where you got them from and what the punishments (both earthly and divine) should be for breaking those laws.
At this stage I have nothing else to go on but the bible.If you are a Xtian, you would be the first that I know of that doesnt use the bible as a source.
I’m not backing away from anything. I did not write the article I just have my own views.
But you like all atheists just look to trip people up instead of engaging in proper debate.
Here I’ll ask you to back up one of your statements:
“A god is not required to explain intelligence …. ”
So in pure atheist logic, where did it come from. Now, no suppositions, no ifs or maybes, what is the purely logical explanation why only humans have managed to become so intelligent. After all, if Darwinism is so infallible then at least one or more species would also have become competitors of ours in the intelligence stakes wouldn’t they?
I am not avoiding any questions and have addressed practically every point made,
I have not tried to trip you up, you have tripped over your own shoelaces.
As far as I am aware, there is no such thing as ‘atheist logic’, there is just logic.
I have asked you to give me 10 laws that yoy think are sent by god, that you wish to be intriduced into common law. And you have yet to provide 1. I will make it easier for you. Give me 5 laws. You claim you want a divine law, but give no examples. You have failed to answer my previous challenge, so at least I have something concrete to go on. But you cant.
Why do you think that humans are biologically special. Your view of life and the universe is anthropocentric, and you have the idea that the whole universe was all designed just for humans to exist when this is not the case.For example, why can only birds fly? Why can only whales dive to many miles below water without fatal effect of the huge pressures at that depth? Humans are just another leaf on another twig on the tree of life. Biologically we are no more special than a dung-beetle or an elephant.Why are we the only one that are as intelligent as we are? Cos physically we are relatively weak, so he had to evolve brains to compensate for our shortcomings in the strength/agility/speed etc departments. It was for survival.
You view evolution as a ladder with us at the top and all the other species aiming to become humans. That is not the case. There is no ‘goal’ to become human in evolution. It could be that in 100 million years time, homo sapiens become extinct due to envionamental pressures, and it is the insects that rule earth.
As far as a bird is concerned, from a birds point of view, he may well be thinking “why are we the only ones that can fly, the bird god must have fine-tuned the world. just so we can exist, while the poor humans are stuck to a life on terra firma.”
That you deny evolution shows that you deny reality. So no, I dont want you or someone like you incharge of the laws of my land.
So are you gonna give me these 10 laws or not?
Rossini, when are you going to stop pretending that people say things they do not?!
I have not used the term divine law, only you have.
Second, if Darwinism is so correct then why can only birds fly etc? I’m just asking you to explain instead of just saying it’s a fact.
Thirdly, your statement “Humans are just another leaf on another twig on the tree of life” – does that mean that you place every living thing on a par? So if I kill one of them to eat it, is that murder in your eyes? Otherwise as far as you are concerned it is survival of the strongest and fittest. So just to put the record straight, how important is your fellow man/woman to you?
“Any state that believes that an all-powerful God exists should run the state ACCORDINGLY, but be tolerant to other faiths and non-believers as long as their practices do not go against the law of the land”
In your message above what do you mean by ‘accordingly’? According to what god wants or according to the bible or both? Please clarify.
‘The law of the land’. How would this law be decided? Are these laws also to be decided by god or the bible. How would we find out what god wants? In what way, if at all, would these laws differ from what we have already (which is a secular law by the way)?
Please clarify your position. If you want to change the law, on what basis would you do so? And who or how would these be decided? Which god would you follow?
Can you give me any examples? Also are there any biblical laws that you would NOT like to see enshrined in law? And if not, why not?
Until you have stated a position we can go no further.
In the evolutionary grand scheme of things we are no more BIOLOGICALLY special than any other animal. I mean that we are the most intelligent, is no more a special trait than being able to fly, or being able to run at 70mph like a cheetah can. Of course SOCIALLY we all regard ourselves (from a species-centric viewpoint) as the species we care about above all others, and I am no different.I put humans at the top of the tree morally and socially. So before you write back saying “oh you think humans are no better than rats to be exterminated” DONT! OK You got that?
Please note the difference between social importance and biological ability.
So any of these laws yet? If you want me to stop putting words in your mouth, why dont you put your own words down?
CORRECTION! before anyone corrects me on my oversimplification of flight in nature. Obviously it is not only the many species of birds that can fly, insects, bats etc have also evolved flight. But it doesnt detract from my main point.
As I have said, any state that believes in an all-powerful God should run affairs accordingly.
The reason that I do not rise to your ‘law’ bait is because you only wish me to state something you can label as ‘fundamentalist.
And you have now stated in your argument that humans are special only because we are ‘human centric’. From there flows only certain humans are special etc. It’s called survival of the fittest. Not a world that I would like to live in where the weak are persecuted. At least with a God there are some greater moral brakes on peoples’ activities.
OK, so you want the government to run the country according to the god they believe in. Which is (I presume since we are a ‘Christian’ country) that you mean the bible (if you are referring to another ‘holy’ book please clarify).
Am I correct so far?
You have stated your desire, but have not given any idea of any changes (if any) that you wish to be made. So far you are like a politcal party, with no policies. Please give me something to go on. It sounds like you already know that I will call them fundamentalist (your word) when I have yet to hear anything from you at all.
All I said is that I place humans at the top of the Social Importance tree, but biologically we are not any more ‘special’ than any othet species. So I have no idea where you get the idea that my next step is to then subdivide humans into upper and lower categories.
As I have said previously (do you bother to read my messages completely?) I would NOT wish to live in a Darwinist ‘survival of the fittest’ society, it would be horrid and cruel. Please do NOT confuse my understanding of the natural world and evolutionary history with my political persuasions.
So I will ask you (yet again!), what would a country run by a government according to an all-powerful god be like (why would this not be a ‘divine law’) What would YOU like to see change. Give me something, like 10 new laws, or are you ashamed to tell me?
Stop dilly-dallying and get on with it man!
The one law that I would like people to adhere to is to ‘treat others as they would wish to be treated themselves’.
Anything wrong with that one?
I think you misunderstand me. I’m not saying you would subdivide the population, I am saying that is the way it would end up over time. If there is no God and no afterlife then life itself becomes a very cheap commodity. Because there is no reason to do anything other than look after your own. Especially if other humans get in the way of your wants and needs.
“â€˜treat others as they would wish to be treated themselvesâ€™”
Hey! I Like it! The Golden Rule. We finally agree on something
But dont we already have that kind of law anyway? You dont need to believe in a god to agree with that. The Golden Rule existed before in various forms and cultures independantly of each other and before any of the monotheistic religions of today. I can see even a primitive culture 1,000s of years ago working that one out ie “Hey lets not go around killing each other and lets not take each other’s stuff”. OK not everyone folwoed it, they were barbaric times, but the idea existed within ancient and earlier communities.
If you found out there was no god tomorrow, would you all of a sudden feel no need to follow that general ideal? Of course not.
Why should people divide up cos they dont believe in a god? Beliefs in different gods cause more division than anything. If it wasnt for religious faith, the Isreal Palestine thing could have been sorted out decades ago, but religion gets in the way.
“If there is no God and no afterlife then life itself becomes a very cheap commodity”
I absolutely disagree with you there. In fact the opposite is true. If you accept there is most likely no afterlife, then life becomes EVEN MORE precious when you realise that its probably the only one you will ever get.
Are you saying that the only reason you are nice to everyone is so that you can get to heaven or avoid hell and that if you thought there was no god, you would go around taking what you want and trampling anyone who gets in your way? That makes me sad Are you REALLY telling me that? No of course not!
You are BETTER than that
I dont think like that. I dont go robbing and killing just cos I am scared of hell or even going to prison. Its cos I dont like to see people hurt from my actions. And neither should you.
Dont be nice to people just to please god or to get to paradise, thats selfish, be nice to people cos you want to be nice to people,and make people happy, reward or not.
The Golden Rule…..Not God-given, but Man-made.
(bit like the bible really)
Thanks for getting back to me
I think I ought to clarify something.
I have a love and empathy for my fellow person, but where does that love originate?
If it is God given then it transcends my ‘human’ failings.
But if it is purely a result of Darwinism and a species survivalist response then it will change to where the strongest and fittest want it to go. That’s after all what Darwinism dictates.
As to an afterlife, if there is no God and no afterlife then why should anyone care if people die and go into a totally unfeeling nothingness-apart perhaps from the people that actually knew them? In fact what would it matter if the whole human race died out?
If there is a God and afterlife then of course life is precious because the human race is precious.
“But if it is purely a result of Darwinism and a species survivalist response then it will change to where the strongest and fittest want it to go”
No it doesnt. Why should that be in human populations? Sometimes an evolutionary advantage relates not only to individuals but to populations of species. It can be advantageous to survival of an individual within a group to help and assist others within the group. This is especially apparent in species that form social communities.Helping a fellow individual will, invariably be ‘remembered’ and reciprocated so it is an advantage to be ‘nice’ to your fellow animal. Often a individual in the animal world will not survive because it may not be suited to its environment, not because another individual in the group has actively or intentionally prevented it from survival.
“Thatâ€™s after all what Darwinism dictates”
“Darwinism” doesnt “dictate” anything. There is no dogma.
Altruism is a result of the evolutionary process. You can even see it in the animal world. Some bats provide food for their fellow group members, at no immediate advantage to themselves.These altruist tendencies have developed to include more and more members outsude of our own immediate communities. Early Humans would not have survived on the savannahs of africa without a group mentality and altruism, because as individuals we are weak and slow and relatively unremarkable in the wild.We have, over the millenia, developed this across a broader spectrum of communities. These altruistic developments, once usually only dedicated to ‘in-crowd’ members within small tribes, now cover whole nations and, in these days of greater communications and global awareness are spreading accross the world. OK we arent there yet, but its a step in the right direction.Religion is some cases obstructs this.
Your claim that without an afterlife then no-one should care is worrying, and is exactly the opposite of what you are trying to get accross. It is precisely because we do not believe an afterlife exists that we consider the only life we know we DO have to be so much MORE precious. If you believe that you will get a 2nd eternal life, then why care whether you die in this one? This is why suicide bombers do what they do so easily, because they think the next life they have will be better. If they think their own earthly life is so cheap and worthless, then how would they value anyone elses any higher?
If you are about to get run over, do you not jump out of the way cos you think you will get to heaven and be happy? No! Of course not. You save youself and jump out of the way.Why? Cos you value your REAL life, and you have doubts that you will go to heaven and be happy. Kind of a Pascals Wager in reverse. You think to yourself” What if I am wrong and there IS no afterlife?”
You really need to get off the thinking that an understanding of evolution means I believe that society should also be based on those same principles. A Darwinist society would be an AWFUL place to live. Many fields in science investigate the evolutionary process not because they want to mimic it in human society, but because they can understand it, and help overcome or dull its power to cause death and disease and improve life and eradicate suffering for humanity and the wider living world.
So how is a case where as you say “Helping a fellow individual will, invariably be â€˜rememberedâ€™ and reciprocated so it is an advantage to be â€˜niceâ€™ to your fellow animal” not just a survivalist response. It’s not true love, so without God you admit that feelings must be driven purely on survival, whether it be personal or species based. A very cold world.
You say – “Often a individual in the animal world will not survive because it may not be suited to its environment, not because another individual in the group has actively or intentionally prevented it from survival.” If you look back in the threads you will see that I have already said that part of Darwinism is the ‘fittest’ can be regarded as those who ‘fit in’ best. In a world with a God everyone fits in, in a Darwinist world that is not the case.
If there is no God then everything is decided by something else, and that according to atheists is evolution. Everything is therefore just a cold survivalist response. It matters not what you ‘feel’ inside as that is just a bilological robotic reaction to keep the species going.
An atheist society is therefore a biological robotic survivalist response no more.
You cannot call yourself atheist and then somehow claim that mankind is somehow showing special non biological survivalist responses.
In an atheist world when people die they go to oblivion, have nothing to look forward to, so why should they care about anything else? Why not just have a ball for 70 years and ignore others. Because in your cold world the only thing between survival and anarchy/destruction is some biological responses – nothing more.
A true atheist would accept their admittedly complex robotic state this and analyse the whole world in this light. But atheists only go so far and at the end off the day still consider humans somehow special.
In my view atheists are in denial, they say that just because they cannot see or understand something then no-one else can because they are at the top of the evolutionary tree. They cannot admit theat there is something much more powerful than them out there. And if that power made the universe and all in it then who are we to question its thought processes and what it does? To admit it the atheists would lose what little grasp they do have of the universe and mankind and that in my view frightens them.
My last question is, if you are just a bilological robot where are we going?
If God forgives and is infinitely good Â¿why should anyone care if people die? And Â¿why should I care if good people die? They will go to heaven, a much better place.
Life is precious because is unique. Because life is unique we, as society, can agree to not take other lives and punish the violent behavior. Why not? Because we can define the things we don’t want to suffer, individually. So we can set very basic rules to live in society. Don’t treat others in the way you don’t want to be treated. Easy.
If you do it, you go to jail. If you kill anyone and avoid jail… well nothing else will happen to you, there won’t be any justice (unless, in my opinion, the killer is doing stupid things instead enjoying his unique life, in jail or not).
The problem comes with big characters. Why Tony Blair will not kill thousands of people in Irak in the name of a lie? He knows he won’t have a punishment even if he recognizes a genocide based on crap. Afterlife punishment? Come on… He, as many others, is impune.
As I understand it God forgives those who repent, if you don’t then ….
And God told people not to murder, so only a non-believer would ever contemplate it would they not?
“As I understand it God forgives those who repent, if you donâ€™t then â€¦.”
So if I kill someone I can just ‘repen’t, and then i am OK with god and get to heaven?
The idea not to murder was not dictated by any god but by an agreement within that society, even a primitive one.. Societies that existed BEFORE the bible was ever written, and believed in gods that even you agree dont exist had similar rules. The ancient greeks/romans/egyptians/and other earlier civilisations that had never heard of Moses/yahweh/jesus had a semblance of law. Are you suggesting that the only place they could get these ideas was from Zeus/Osiris/Jupiter?
No, but they did have a God.
And people have always been given the choice – good or evil.
Otherwise why do people kill each other still? Surely we would have evolved out of that by now? Or is there more at work here?
Â«Now kill all the boys. And kill every woman who has slept with a man, but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man. All of you who have killed anyone or touched anyone who was killed must stay outside the camp seven days. On the third and seventh days you must purify yourselves and your captives.Â»
Â«And when the LORD your God has delivered them over to you and you have defeated them, then you must destroy them totally. Make no treaty with them, and show them no mercy.Â»
In Words of Moses, the Bible, the Word of God. The same guy who sais, in the name of God Â«Thou shalt not kill.Â»
So were exactly is God telling people not to murder? It’s pretty tricky. (There is many bipolar examples as these ones in the Bible).
We cannot build a society under this principles in the XXI century. Believe whatever you want at home.
Just set up a thread in the forums if anyone wants to continue this debate…
Great battle, Richard, keep up the good fight. God bless you,
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