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Backward, atheist soldiers!
WORLD Magazine ^ | June 30, 2007 | Marvin Olasky

Posted on 06/22/2007 9:07:12 AM PDT by Caleb1411

Books: Notable anti-religion and anti-Christian books of the past year—particularly Christopher Hitchens’ God Is Not Great—make something out of, well, nothing.

Nineteenth-century novelist Gustave Flaubert used to joke about archaeologists discovering a stone tablet signed "God" and reading, "I do not exist." His punch line had an atheist then exclaiming, "See! I told you so!"

These days, nothing stops atheistic caissons from rolling along the bookstore aisles. Maybe that's because atheists on average have small families and lots of discretionary doubloons jingling in their pockets. Sam Harris' Letter to a Christian Nation (Knopf), Daniel Dennett's Breaking the Spell (Penguin), and Richard Dawkins' The God Delusion (Houghton Mifflin) all hit bestseller lists during 2006—and a new book, Christopher Hitchens' God Is Not Great (Twelve), has ascended this year.

Last year's trio emerged alongside anti-Christian books purportedly based on hard reporting. Michelle Goldberg's Kingdom Coming: The Rise of Christian Nationalism (Norton) typified the genre's misreporting when she wrote that Christian pregnancy counseling centers "usually" present false or exaggerated information—but there's no indication that she visited even one center, let alone the 3,000 or so that exist throughout the country. (Here's some evidentiary trivia: In four pages about me she makes five clear factual errors, along with many questionable interpretations.)

This year it's the same: a new screed by Chris Hedges has as its title not "Mistaken People" or even "Lying Liars," but American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America (Free Press). The genre is old, with new villains appearing as necessary. Ten years ago Frederick Clarkson's Eternal Hostility: The Struggle Between Theocracy and Democracy stated that the sky was falling, with Promise Keepers as the spearhead of Christian dictatorship.

The ferocity of these books is sometimes astounding. Here, for example, is Dawkins' view of God: "arguably the most unpleasant character in fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully."

Even Publishers Weekly noted concerning The God Delusion, "For a scientist who criticizes religion for its intolerance, Dawkins has written a surprisingly intolerant book, full of scorn for religion and those who believe. . . . Even confirmed atheists who agree with his advocacy of science and vigorous rationalism may have trouble stomaching some of the rhetoric: 'The biblical Yahweh is "psychotic," Aquinas' proofs of God's existence are "fatuous" and religion generally is "nonsense."'

Happily, Alister and Joanna Collicutt McGrath have just come out with an effective response, The Dawkins Delusion? Atheist Fundamentalism and the Denial of the Divine (IVP). The McGraths note, "Until recently, Western atheism had waited patiently, believing that belief in God would simply die out. But now a whiff of panic is evident. Far from dying out, belief in God has rebounded."

The McGraths also point out the folly of believing that if religion were eliminated wars would cease: After all, conflicts often reflect human desires to declare some people as "in" and others as "out," sometimes on the basis of religion, but at other times on the basis of race, ethnicity, tribe, class, gender, or whatever.

Christianity is above all others the religion that seeks kindness to those in the out-group: Jesus told us to love our neighbors and even to love our enemies. When Christians fail to live up to His teachings it's because of sin, not Christianity—and scapegoating religion delays efforts to deal with the real problems of social division.

Scapegoating is also evident in the writing of Sam Harris, who frequently forgets to use reason and instead falls back on words like "preposterous." He asserts certainty about what he admits not knowing: "How the process of evolution got started is still a mystery, but that does not in the least suggest that a deity is likely to be lurking at the bottom of it all."

He complains not only about ignorance but about moral failings: "An average Christian, in an average church, listening to an average Sunday sermon has achieved a level of arrogance simply unimaginable in scientific discourse."

Yet Harris, for all his attacks on Intelligent Design, does not even understand the distinction between macro-evolution—one kind of creature changing into another—and micro-evolution. One of his proofs of theistic obtuseness is that "viruses like HIV, as well as a wide range of harmful bacteria, can be seen evolving right under our noses, developing resistance to antiviral and antibiotic drugs."

The one good aspect of Harris' work is his understanding that theology has consequences: "There is no escaping that fact that a person's religious beliefs uniquely determine what he thinks peace is good for, as well as what he means by a term like 'compassion.'" Harris at least understands that the biblical theology he hates makes obnoxious sense in a way that liberalism does not; given a suffering world, "liberal theology must stand revealed for what it is: the sheerest of mortal pretenses."

Harris also criticizes the niceties of political rhetoric concerning Islam: "The idea that Islam is a 'peaceful religion hijacked by extremists' is a fantasy." Too bad he and other atheistic authors are determined to believe that Christianity is inevitably hijacked by hate, and that they pick up support from reviewers like Natalie Angier, who wrote in The New York Times that "Harris writes what a sizeable number of us think, but few are willing to say."

Harris' work has also engendered several Christian responses this year. Doug Wilson's Letter from a Christian Citizen (American Vision) points out that Harris uses morally loaded words like "should" and "ought"; Wilson rightly asks Harris, "What is the difference between an imposed morality, an imposed religion, or an imposed secular ought? Why is your imposition to be preferred to any other?"

Wilson notes Harris' fondness for Eastern religions, and in particular the "utter non-violence" of the Jains in India. Letter from a Christian Citizen correctly notes that "Devout Jains will wear a mask to avoid breathing in and thereby killing any insect," and then asks whether Harris would commend evangelicals who "forsook the use of antibiotics because of the genocidal devastation it was causing to the microbes within."

Wilson also points out that the litany of religious folks fighting each other that Harris recites "is beside the point. We don't believe that religion is the answer. We believe Christ is the answer." Harris' list of religious messes merely confirms "one of the basic tents of the Christian faith, which is that the human race is all screwed up."

And what about this year's champion screed, offered by Christopher Hitchens? His scorn—"monotheistic religion is a plagiarism of a plagiarism of a hearsay of a hearsay, of an illusion of an illusion, extending all the way back to a fabrication of a few nonevents"—oozes off every page of God Is Not Great, with its extraordinary subtitle, How Religion Poisons Everything.

"Everything"? That sounds improbable. Are 1.3 billion Muslims all murderers? Might Christianity have produced 50 percent evil and 50 percent good? If not, how about 40 percent good? Thirty percent? Twenty percent? Ten percent? Will not Hitchens relent from his anger if we can find 5 percent that's good?

God Is Not Great has received extraordinary publicity, including an adulatory review in The New York Times, so it's worth going page by page to see what Hitchens is selling and many atheists are buying:

*On Page 4 he writes that religion produces a "maximum of servility." Islam, maybe, but were Abraham, Moses, and Job servile when they argued with God?

*On Page 5 he writes, "No statistic will ever find that without [religious] blandishments and threats [atheists] commit more crimes of greed or violence than the faithful." Prison Fellowship and other organizations can show that prisoners who go through evangelical programs have much lower recidivism—committing new crimes after release from prison, leading to new sentences—than others.

*On Page 7 he writes, "Religion spoke its last intelligible or noble or inspiring words a long time ago." Leaving aside the inspiration millions get from daily Bible reading, what about Martin Luther King Jr.'s speeches, with all their biblical imagery? Or Pope John Paul II, whose words inspired many people to rise up against Communism in Eastern Europe?

*On Page 17 he writes that religion "does not have the confidence in its own various preachings even to allow coexistence between different faiths." At the annual March for Life in Washington tens of thousands of Catholics and Protestants walk side by side along with individuals from Jews for Life, Buddhists for Life, and so on.

*n Page 32 he writes, "The nineteen suicide murderers of New York and Washington and Pennsylvania were beyond any doubt the most sincere believers on those planes." Todd Beamer, the man who said "Let's roll" on United Flight 93, and made sure it didn't crash into the U.S. Capitol, was a strong Christian believer. So were others who died, stopping the terrorists, when Flight 93 crashed in Pennsylvania.

Hitchens of course thinks the Bible is nonsense (see also "The world according to Hitch," June 3, 2006). On Page 102 he writes, "It goes without saying that none of the gruesome, disordered events described in Exodus ever took place." Without saying. A slam dunk. On Page 103: "All the Mosaic myths can be safely and easily discarded." On Page 104: All five books of Moses are "an ill-carpentered fiction."

Such pronouncements were repeatedly made in the 19th century, but again and again biblical accounts considered mythical back then have gained new archeological support. For example, scholars at one point said that the Hittites described in the Bible did not exist, nor did rulers such as Belshazzar of Babylon or Sargon of Assyria. Archeologists now have records of all those civilizations and reigns.

Many brilliant people have spent lifetimes studying these writings that Hitchens so blithely dismisses. Princeton's Robert Wilson, who knew 26 ancient languages and dialects and so could read just about all that remains from the ancient Near East, was impressed with the accuracy of those accounts that Hitchens wishes to discard.

Coming to the present, Hitchens on Page 160 calls "the whole racket of American evangelism . . . a heartless con." Hmm. WORLD for two decades has reported stories around this country of compassionate evangelicals who must be dumb, because they've spent their lives in a racket that's yielded them almost no money. They've adopted hard-to-place children, built AIDs orphanages in Africa, helped addicts and alcoholics to turn their lives around, transformed the lives of teens who were heading into drugs and crime, and much besides.

In responding to Hitchens and mini-Hitchenses, it's also worth noting the leadership of Christians over the centuries in setting up hospitals and schools. Historians such as Jonathan Hill of Oxford, Alvin Schmidt of Illinois College, and Rodney Stark of Baylor have described the long-term effect of Jesus telling his followers to love their neighbors as themselves.

The evangelical tendency to help others, not poison them, has even attracted the attention of New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, who calls America's evangelicals "the newest internationalists" for fighting sexual trafficking in Eastern Europe and slavery in Sudan. As Jewish leader Michael Horowitz has put it, evangelicals "led the way in taking on the slavery issue of our time—the annual trafficking of millions of women and children into lives of sexual bondage . . . led the way in organizing a campaign to end a growing epidemic of prison rape."

Horowitz concluded his message to evangelicals this way: "As you define your human rights successes as central to who you are and what you've done, it will no longer be possible for those who fear your faith to crudely caricature you or to ignore the virtue that Christian activism brings to American life and the world at large." Spoken too soon, because authors like Harris, Dennett, Dawkins, and especially Hitchens, despite all the evidence, still proclaim that religion, or Christianity in particular, poisons everything.


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Editorial
KEYWORDS: alistermcgrath; atheism; christianity; enjoythevoid; islam; judaism; nihilism; olasky; religion
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To: Tzimisce

Atheism is a creed, so is therefore covered under civil rights laws.


51 posted on 06/22/2007 12:09:42 PM PDT by Clemenza (Rudy Giuliani, like Pesto and Seattle, belongs in the scrap heap of '90s Culture)
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To: GunRunner; wideawake
You obviously haven't been on any ID threads lately. "'Stuck in the Mud' Monkey Worship" was one of the more friendly terms used for evolution.

Forgive me. I am not an advocate of "intelligent design," but a literalist creationist.

Okay. So G-d doesn't "guide" evolution, but evolution "rightly understood" doesn't mean that G-d doesn't actually guide it after all.

So how does G-d "guide" evolution without "guiding" it?

52 posted on 06/22/2007 12:10:05 PM PDT by Zionist Conspirator ( . . . veyiqchu 'eleykha farah 'adummah temimah, 'asher 'ein-bah mum, 'asher lo'-`alah `aleyha `ol.)
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To: Titus Quinctius Cincinnatus
How come Sammy doesn't understand that an HIV virus that mutates is, um, still an HIV virus?

And has been around since God created it 6000 years ago, but only recently decided to be infectious?

53 posted on 06/22/2007 12:12:50 PM PDT by Gondring (I'll give up my right to die when hell freezes over my dead body!)
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To: Caleb1411
On Page 4 he writes that religion produces a "maximum of servility." Islam, maybe, but were Abraham, Moses, and Job servile when they argued with God?

Actually, those examples seems to bolster Hitchens' argument. From initial argumentation and push-back against God, in the end, these three became quite servile to His will.

54 posted on 06/22/2007 12:14:15 PM PDT by Gondring (I'll give up my right to die when hell freezes over my dead body!)
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To: shuckmaster

Don’t say things like that, you’re making us look bad.


55 posted on 06/22/2007 12:15:29 PM PDT by darkangel82 (Socialism is NOT an American value.)
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To: hunter112
If you live your life as if there is no God, for your sake you better damn well be right.

There's a corollary to that: If you believe that there is only one denomination, sect, or faith tradition that is 100% the only one to pick, then you had better well have chosen wisely.

Not every atheist is anti-Christian. We may not have chosen as you have, but generally, we celebrate your right to make your choices freely.

Now you see, this is what happens when people think the only alternative to atheism is chr*stianity. It ain't so. Chr*stianity is a johnny-come-lately.

The only "choosing" involved is G-d's. If your mother was Jewish, you're Jewish and there's nothing you can do about it. If your mother wasn't Jewish, then you're a Noachide and the only way you can change that is to convert to Judaism, though there is no obligation for you to do so.

See, it's not about "salvation." It's a simple statutory situation. Jews have certain laws given to them, non-Jews have certain laws given to them, and at the end of life we'll be judged (and G-d has many more decisions at His disposal than just "Heaven and Hell").

56 posted on 06/22/2007 12:20:14 PM PDT by Zionist Conspirator ( . . . veyiqchu 'eleykha farah 'adummah temimah, 'asher 'ein-bah mum, 'asher lo'-`alah `aleyha `ol.)
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To: hunter112; stm; jan in Colorado
There's a corollary to that: If you believe that there is only one denomination, sect, or faith tradition that is 100% the only one to pick, then you had better well have chosen wisely.

Not every atheist is anti-Christian. We may not have chosen as you have, but generally, we celebrate your right to make your choices freely.

Well said. And it's also not a contradiction for an atheist to believe that Christianity is man's best hope for a positive future, even if he believes it to be objectively false.

57 posted on 06/22/2007 12:20:40 PM PDT by Gondring (I'll give up my right to die when hell freezes over my dead body!)
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To: Zionist Conspirator
So how does G-d "guide" evolution without "guiding" it?

I don't know.

But according to some homeschooling creationists, I am an ignorant monkey-worshipping idolater because I seek to understand paleontology and evolution by studying empirical evidence.

58 posted on 06/22/2007 12:24:20 PM PDT by GunRunner (Come on Fred, how long are you going to wait?)
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To: Gondring

I hope I’m not the only one that finds the book of Job a disgusting amoral mess.


59 posted on 06/22/2007 12:26:17 PM PDT by GunRunner (Come on Fred, how long are you going to wait?)
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To: Caleb1411

An interesting discussion.

I think critics of religion are on solid ground when they critique the theologies, which consist, in large part, of accounts of miraculous and improbable events. Extracting God’s intent from these accounts is not easy. The humans who have written down these accounts have garbled the message.

As a result, the issue of whether religion, per se, has good or bad effects on human behavior is complicated. Some bad things have been done in the name of religion, but so have some good things. Whether the net impact is good or bad is debatable. To the extent that the behaviors urged by religion are good—like “love thy neighbor,” “let he who is without sin cast the first stone,” and “turn the other cheek”—I think religion would have a net positive impact. To the extent that behaviors urged by religion are bad—like persecuting heretics, crusading against unbelievers, and condemning the harmless nonconforming behaviors of others—I think religion would have a net negative effect. The question is which of these tendencies is greater. I don’t think we have enough evidence yet to know for sure.

Whether a particular religion is having a good or bad effect depends upon the behavior of its adherents. In my opinion, those who do good deeds are likely closer to getting God’s message than those assaulting their fellows.


60 posted on 06/22/2007 12:30:30 PM PDT by John Semmens
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To: Zhangliqun
Then what would you have us say about atheism, that it's wonderful? Especially in light of the quotes from atheist authors above? No sarcasm, I'm serious -- what in your view is the right way for us to respond?

No sarcasm, I'm serious: turn the other cheek.

61 posted on 06/22/2007 12:32:31 PM PDT by Physicist
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To: Tzimisce; Coyoteman
I’ve been told Atheism is not a religion. If that’s true, we can ban these people from talking...

You and what army?

Careful, Tzimisce . . . Coyoteman has objective external rights conferred upon him by the random, meaningless, self-existent universe (as every "critical thinker" knows, this is "self-evident"), and any violation of said rights would cause the Earth Mother and the Universe immense grief and pain. Now you don't wanna do that . . . do you?

Now, if you'd gotten ahold of Coyoteman's ancestors back before they had evolved human intelligence, you could have killed 'em all and it wouldn't have meant a thing. But the random, meaningless, self-existent universe, you see, actually began acquiring meaning when mankind became rational. And just wait till we reach the Omega Point--it'll have even more meaning by then! Why, when the other creatures evolve human-like intelligence, the objective rights and morality the meaningless universe has so far imposed on the human race alone will be imposed on them as well! So step on that bug while you still can!

62 posted on 06/22/2007 12:35:58 PM PDT by Zionist Conspirator ( . . . veyiqchu 'eleykha farah 'adummah temimah, 'asher 'ein-bah mum, 'asher lo'-`alah `aleyha `ol.)
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To: GunRunner
This is a legitimate gripe by Hitchen's. A few Buddhists and Jews marching with some Christians at a pro-life rally was probably done for political expedience rather than an agreement on theology.

Red herring. Of COURSE they don't agree on theology, where was it ever represented that they do? But they do agree on pro-life and such rallies are about that common ground, not about theology.

It doesn't change the fact that even the most loving and generous of my evangelical friends maintain that if you don't believe in Jesus divinity, you are going to Hell.

And therefore what?

They probably also believe that if you keep driving toward a cliff, you'll fall to your death. Would you not want them to warn you about that either? Even if they turned out to be wrong, the fact is they're actually trying to look out for you. But you somehow see it as them giving you the finger. I don't get it.

63 posted on 06/22/2007 12:36:07 PM PDT by Zhangliqun (The Blue and Gray had infinitely more in common than the Blue and Red. We're headed for Civil War.)
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To: GunRunner
So how does G-d "guide" evolution without "guiding" it?

I don't know.

Thank you for your honesty. Would you consider it theoretically possible that G-d either "guides" it or does not? I hope evolutionists will cease attacking "Divine guidance of evolution" while then loudly insisting that maybe G-d does actually guide it. Is this the type of thinking Voltaire taught you???

But according to some homeschooling creationists, I am an ignorant monkey-worshipping idolater because I seek to understand paleontology and evolution by studying empirical evidence.

1)It isn't fun being called "ignorant," is it? Do you think you and some of your allies might pause for a second before calling the people of Kansas "savages" after experiencing what it feels like?

2)Since according to anti-ID evolutionists, there is basically no difference between literalist creationism (me) and Divinely-guided evolution, perhaps anti-ID evolutionists should stop claiming that evolution "rightly understood" does not exclude G-d? Unless your "gxd" is Thomas Jefferson's, that is.

64 posted on 06/22/2007 12:41:04 PM PDT by Zionist Conspirator ( . . . veyiqchu 'eleykha farah 'adummah temimah, 'asher 'ein-bah mum, 'asher lo'-`alah `aleyha `ol.)
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To: Aikonaa
I have always found it strange that if one doesn't accepts Jesus' message of love and accept him as the savior, one is condemned to eternal torture. It makes Jesus appear as a narcissist and sadist of the first order.

There are those who say to God "thy will be done" and those to whom God finally and reluctantly says "okay, thy will be done".

If you reject the creator and maintainer of the entire universe and the source of all good, how can you expect to be out of his presence and still reap the benefits of his presence?

How can you walk away from a campfire in the dead of winter and then complain about freezing to death?

65 posted on 06/22/2007 12:43:24 PM PDT by Zhangliqun (The Blue and Gray had infinitely more in common than the Blue and Red. We're headed for Civil War.)
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To: Zhangliqun
Red herring. Of COURSE

Jeez, is everything a "red herring" or "straw man" when you ask legitimate questions about faith? Hitchens was pointing to the fact that the same Christians that were marching with Jews and Buddhists also believe those Jews and Buddhists are going to Hell if they don't accept Jesus. Olasky's example proves nothing.

Even if they turned out to be wrong, the fact is they're actually trying to look out for you. But you somehow see it as them giving you the finger.

They're looking out for me by telling me that I have to believe as they do or I'm going to fry in Hell? That's got to be the worst sales pitch I've ever heard. Thanks but no thanks.

I don't get it.

If condemning 3 billion people in Asia to eternal damnation because they haven't converted to your religion makes sense to you, then I'm sure you never will get it.

66 posted on 06/22/2007 12:48:34 PM PDT by GunRunner (Come on Fred, how long are you going to wait?)
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To: shuckmaster
Children who are brainwashed at a very young age to believe that they are the creations of mythical skygods who exist only in the scribblings of ancient scrolls and are thousands of years past due for their miraculous return tend to cling on to these false hopes for life.

Unless, they get their hands on a real science book and learn some truth.

Since only G-d can determine Objective Morality, in His absence the superiority of "truth" over "falsehood" is illusory and constitutes an unnecessary making of outdated "rules."

As I understand it, Galileo suffered a great deal to prove that we and our planet are completely insignificant specks in an indifferent universe. If you truly believe this, why do you give a flying frick what anybody's children learn? Aren't you acting as if human life has some sort of metaphysical significance when you start demanding that "children be taught the truth?"

Before I close, please understand this. I am not a chr*stian and I'm not waiting for their "messiah" to come back (HaShem has never gone anywhere). Unlike those people who define "anti-Semitism" as ethnic bigotry, I define it as opposition to or ridicule of actual Jewish religious beliefs. If you ever reidicule the Jewish G-d or His Torah I can assure you I will request your expulsion from this forum as an anti-Semite. And I mean it.

67 posted on 06/22/2007 12:48:53 PM PDT by Zionist Conspirator ( . . . veyiqchu 'eleykha farah 'adummah temimah, 'asher 'ein-bah mum, 'asher lo'-`alah `aleyha `ol.)
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To: Physicist
Then what would you have us say about atheism, that it's wonderful? Especially in light of the quotes from atheist authors above? No sarcasm, I'm serious -- what in your view is the right way for us to respond?

No sarcasm, I'm serious: turn the other cheek.

Hmmm. What if you don't believe in J*sus? What if you only believe in that horrible, homophobic, genocidal Hebrew G-d of the "old testament?" How should such a person respond to these attacks?

Please don't ignore me because you don't know how to handle non-chr*stians. Thank you.

68 posted on 06/22/2007 12:53:42 PM PDT by Zionist Conspirator ( . . . veyiqchu 'eleykha farah 'adummah temimah, 'asher 'ein-bah mum, 'asher lo'-`alah `aleyha `ol.)
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To: Zionist Conspirator
Do you think you and some of your allies might pause for a second before calling the people of Kansas "savages" after experiencing what it feels like?

I have no allies, I'm an independent contractor in this debate. However I'm pretty sure that you would be lumped in with me by the mainstream creationist crowd here if you were to even make mention of the fact that any small amount of evolution might be true.

69 posted on 06/22/2007 12:54:26 PM PDT by GunRunner (Come on Fred, how long are you going to wait?)
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To: GunRunner
Allow me to point out something that I said to you earlier but which you, for whatever reason, have chosen to ignore.

The existence of the Biblical G-d does not rise or fall with the truth of Evangelical Protestantism. For you to base your entire argument on the fact that "those evangelicals believe I'm going to hell!" is simply silly and has nothing to do with the issues. Now, I happen to know that their theology requires them to believe the same about me (and I know; I used to be one of them), but unlike you, this doesn't bother me. Why does it bother you? Are you perhaps afraid they are right?

The Biblical G-d was ordering the extermination of Canaanites and `Amaleqites for centuries before the first chr*stian missionary even existed. Now you may or may not like that (though since morality is determined entirely by Divine Decree you have no grounds to reject it for offending your "moral sensibilities"), but please stop the evangelical bashing and deal with the issue of whether or not the Biblical G-d exists. What evangelicals believe about where you're going has nothing to do with the argument pro or con.

70 posted on 06/22/2007 1:01:05 PM PDT by Zionist Conspirator ( . . . veyiqchu 'eleykha farah 'adummah temimah, 'asher 'ein-bah mum, 'asher lo'-`alah `aleyha `ol.)
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To: Zionist Conspirator
Jews have certain laws given to them, non-Jews have certain laws given to them, and at the end of life we'll be judged

Sounds like just another variant on "all who do not choose our way are going to be dealt with harshly." Even you acknowledge that a non-Jew can indeed choose, even if you ascribe no obligation to it.

My remarks on atheists being anti-Christian were not meant to leave out Jewish people, most of us are not anti-Jew, either. It's just that I usually get into tussles with Christians (or, Chr*stians, if you prefer--I don't know what you folks think you're accomplishing by leaving out letters in words) on this forum.

71 posted on 06/22/2007 1:14:22 PM PDT by hunter112 (Change will happen when very good men are forced to do very bad things.)
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To: Gondring
...it's also not a contradiction for an atheist to believe that Christianity is man's best hope for a positive future...

As most forms of Christianity have evolved today, I agree. Now, as to the way it was practiced during the time of the Thirty Years' War in Europe, it would be practically impossible to make that statement.

72 posted on 06/22/2007 1:16:58 PM PDT by hunter112 (Change will happen when very good men are forced to do very bad things.)
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To: Zionist Conspirator
The existence of the Biblical G-d does not rise or fall with the truth of Evangelical Protestantism.

You are correct, I never said anything different.

Why does it bother you? Are you perhaps afraid they are right?

Not in the least. But for argument's sake, let's say the evangelicals are right. If I am in hell, I will be there with the rest of humanity that didn't believe in Christ's divinity, and I'll roast gladly with them. Think of it as sitting in solidarity with the downtrodden, while we stand in protest to the elistist country clubbers in heaven who's membership policy requires you to think exactly as they do or fry.

I guess the reason it bothers me is the apparent ease that they seem to have with 3-4 billion people being eternally condemned according to their theology. It seems irrational, and I don't like to see my friends become irrational people.

73 posted on 06/22/2007 1:19:11 PM PDT by GunRunner (Come on Fred, how long are you going to wait?)
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To: Tzimisce

“I’ve been told Atheism is not a religion.”

Atheism is not only a secular religion, its also becoming a kind of fascism. Men like Richard Dawkins speak of prosecuting parents that pass their faith off to their kids, and mandatory atheism in public education.


74 posted on 06/22/2007 1:21:44 PM PDT by DesScorp
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To: hunter112
Sounds like just another variant on "all who do not choose our way are going to be dealt with harshly." Even you acknowledge that a non-Jew can indeed choose, even if you ascribe no obligation to it.

You misunderstand. Non-Jews are not in the least obligated to convert to Judaism (in fact, they are discouraged from doing so). However, they are obligated to observe the Noachide Laws, the first of which, against idolatry, obliges a belief in HaShem, the True G-d. This applies to you too. No "salvation" is offered. You are merely statutorily obligated as a Noachide to obey these laws (and everyone in the entire human race either Jewish or Noachide).

I fail to see why you object to the threat of punishment to the unbelievers/disobedient. Life is full of the threat of punishment. Perhaps you are offended by G-d doing the punishing? Who had you rather do it?

My remarks on atheists being anti-Christian were not meant to leave out Jewish people, most of us are not anti-Jew, either. It's just that I usually get into tussles with Christians (or, Chr*stians, if you prefer--I don't know what you folks think you're accomplishing by leaving out letters in words) on this forum.

I leave out the letters to avoid spelling out the names of false "gxds." If you have ever read your Bible, you know that HaShem is a Jealous G-d. J*sus was a hippie wimp.

It is unfortunate that chr*stians think that all arguments for the existence of the Biblical G-d must be arguments for chr*stianity, but they are not alone at fault. When atheists attack G-d, even the Jewish G-d, they always hold chr*stianity responsible. Personally, I resent this.

My experience has been that atheists like to pose as the great defenders of the Jewish People even as they attack Jewish ideas and misattribute them to chr*stianity. Again, I resent this. If you are opposed to belief in G-d, then don't pick on some people while loudly defending the same religous beliefs in others.

75 posted on 06/22/2007 1:33:14 PM PDT by Zionist Conspirator ( . . . veyiqchu 'eleykha farah 'adummah temimah, 'asher 'ein-bah mum, 'asher lo'-`alah `aleyha `ol.)
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To: Zionist Conspirator
My point is not to debate Jewish theology with you, I'm sure you are more than well versed in it. I just look at the whole thing and say, "Wow, that's a really legalistic way to view a deity."

Another thing, I'm no "great defender" of the Jewish people. I have them as neighbors, and I wish to get along with them. I also trust Israel far more than I trust her Arab neighbors.

I consider religion like politics, we all have the right and ability to either stay with what our parents raised us with, or we can make our own decisions if we want to. And as an American first, I honor that document that expresses our rights to make those religious and political choices.

76 posted on 06/22/2007 1:44:07 PM PDT by hunter112 (Change will happen when very good men are forced to do very bad things.)
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To: GunRunner
Not in the least. But for argument's sake, let's say the evangelicals are right. If I am in hell, I will be there with the rest of humanity that didn't believe in Christ's divinity, and I'll roast gladly with them. Think of it as sitting in solidarity with the downtrodden, while we stand in protest to the elistist country clubbers in heaven who's membership policy requires you to think exactly as they do or fry.

First, since morality is determined by Divine Decree and by nothing else (it certainly doesn't come from science!), you'll have nothing to protest. Second, atheists are as bad as anyone else at wanting everyone else to think like them. Perhaps you failed to read the quotations of the prominent atheists in the article at the top of this thread? Why is it any worse for an evangelical to want you to believe as he does than it is for Dawkins or Hitchens to want evangelicals to believe as they do? Perhaps you haven't noticed this, but you atheists are veritable fonts of hypocrisy on this issue. You think it unreasonable and tyrannical for religionists to say that "error has no rights," yet the entire exclusion of G-d from the science classroom is based on this: creation (or ID) is an error, and error has no rights. Perhaps this is another one of those "self-evident truths" your allegedly hyper-critical, independent minds have latched onto?

I guess the reason it bothers me is the apparent ease that they seem to have with 3-4 billion people being eternally condemned according to their theology. It seems irrational, and I don't like to see my friends become irrational people.

I am bothered by the apparent ease with which your mind holds so many contradictions: an insignificant, meaningless universe in which an objective moral code external to the mind of man somehow exists (and in which it is so important that we "know the truth" about everything); a belief in "self-evident truths" while celebrating "critical thinking;" religious suppression of other opinions is tyranny and oppression while science's suppression of other opinions cannot be because it is "the truth," etc., etc., etc.

So you were saying?

77 posted on 06/22/2007 1:44:25 PM PDT by Zionist Conspirator ( . . . veyiqchu 'eleykha farah 'adummah temimah, 'asher 'ein-bah mum, 'asher lo'-`alah `aleyha `ol.)
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To: hunter112
I consider religion like politics, we all have the right and ability to either stay with what our parents raised us with, or we can make our own decisions if we want to. And as an American first, I honor that document that expresses our rights to make those religious and political choices.

Unfortunately Hitchens, Dawkins, et al, do not share your "generosity."

78 posted on 06/22/2007 1:46:46 PM PDT by Zionist Conspirator ( . . . veyiqchu 'eleykha farah 'adummah temimah, 'asher 'ein-bah mum, 'asher lo'-`alah `aleyha `ol.)
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To: Zionist Conspirator
Unlike those people who define "anti-Semitism" as ethnic bigotry, I define it as opposition to or ridicule of actual Jewish religious beliefs. If you ever reidicule the Jewish G-d or His Torah I can assure you I will request your expulsion from this forum as an anti-Semite. And I mean it.

I leave out the letters to avoid spelling out the names of false "gxds." If you have ever read your Bible, you know that HaShem is a Jealous G-d. J*sus was a hippie wimp.

1) You haven't checked out His unequivocal denunciations of the ruling Pharisees, apparently.

2) And would you please give me those ground rules for ridicule again? Do you exercise voluntary self-expulsion whenever you practice a double standard?

79 posted on 06/22/2007 1:51:08 PM PDT by Caleb1411 ("These are the days when the Christian is expected to praise every creed except his own." G. K. C)
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To: DesScorp

I think Dawkins is mentally ill, myself.


80 posted on 06/22/2007 1:52:45 PM PDT by darkangel82 (Socialism is NOT an American value.)
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To: Zionist Conspirator
Unfortunately Hitchens, Dawkins, et al, do not share your "generosity."

Well, I don't consider myself responsible for what they think, say, or do. We don't all sit down together at atheist conferences (yes, I know a few do) to decide what we collectively believe in, or don't believe in.

81 posted on 06/22/2007 2:01:53 PM PDT by hunter112 (Change will happen when very good men are forced to do very bad things.)
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To: Zionist Conspirator
First, I'm not an atheist. So any extrapolations that you've made by lumping me together with secular progressives are made in error.

I don't support the inclusion of anything in science classes that doesn't have empirical evidence behind it. If you can prove God exists, then great. Use the scientific method, put your findings up for peer review, then teach it in school.

I am bothered by the apparent ease with which your mind holds so many contradictions:

You have no idea what my mind holds, so you shouldn't presume to be bothered by it. I have never supported the suppression of anyone's religion and the support the free exercise thereof. If you had ever read Hitchens, I think you would find that everyone believing exactly as he does is the last thing he would advocate.

How about everyone thinking for themselves? I have no problem with it, do you?

82 posted on 06/22/2007 2:02:18 PM PDT by GunRunner (Come on Fred, how long are you going to wait?)
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To: GunRunner

You say: “If condemning 3 billion people in Asia to eternal damnation because they haven’t converted to your religion makes sense to you, then I’m sure you never will get it.”

Excellent point.

God’s message to mankind is NOT the peculiar theologies of the various creeds. It is the guidance on how we treat our fellow humans.

Those eager to announce that persons following different theologies are going to Hell want to believe they are members of a select club. Such a belief contradicts the concept of a wise and compassionate God.


83 posted on 06/22/2007 2:57:25 PM PDT by John Semmens
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To: GunRunner
First, I'm not an atheist.

I don't support the inclusion of anything in science classes that doesn't have empirical evidence behind it. If you can prove God exists, then great. Use the scientific method, put your findings up for peer review, then teach it in school.

So then, G-d used evolution to create the world, but he didn't "guide" it? If this is how your mind operates, then it is full of contradictions. I can understand G-d being behind evolution, or not being behind evolution, but to insist that he "used evolution" to create the universe while attacking those who teach this in the classroom as "creationists" is illogical. If He did He did, and if He didn't He didn't. Or is that too simplistic for your "advanced" eighteenth century enlightenment rationalist mind?

The invocation of the definition of science is flawed. First, definitions can change over time (Newton certainly considered theology to be science), and to say that science is defined by scientists is to engage in tautology.

Reality is reality. Who ever said that only that which can be confirmed by the scientific method can exist? Have you ever tested "thou shalt not kill" by the scientific method? Or even whether or not George Washington ever existed? If there is a G-d who has communicated with man via Revelation, what He has so communicated is certainly just as true as anything confirmable by the scientific method.

Perhaps you are unaware of the fact that entire history of the world only ONE religion was founded publicly by the Invisible, Unincarnate G-d speaking directly to perhaps over three million people at once? Perhaps you were unaware of the fact that no other religion in the history of the world has ever even had the audacity to make this claim?

Don't tell me . . . you can't believe in a historical event because "that isn't science!" I bet you accept a great deal of non-supernatural historical facts on faith, however.

If you really believe in "thinking for ourselves," then kindly stop ridiculing people who don't agree with you. It's enough that you people's belief that all human thought is merely biochemical reactions in the brain while knowing full well that this makes "free thought" impossible!

84 posted on 06/22/2007 3:10:16 PM PDT by Zionist Conspirator ( . . . veyiqchu 'eleykha farah 'adummah temimah, 'asher 'ein-bah mum, 'asher lo'-`alah `aleyha `ol.)
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To: hunter112
I used to think so too, though given the range of coincidences which must all come together in one place, one wonders.

But so they would consider themselves a "unique wonder". How would that limit the influence of God?

85 posted on 06/22/2007 3:13:28 PM PDT by onedoug
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To: PeterPrinciple
The Truth Project is a great study. My hubby and I took it last fall and we’ll teach it this fall in our home. We’re already turning people down because our home simply can’t hold all the people who want to take it. We’re invaliding several High School juniors and seniors. Our church will offer multiple classes to try to accommodate everyone on the waiting list.

Del Tackett amazes me. He cuts through all the PC baloney with such precise logic. Folks, this is a wonderful course to introduce to your neighbors, families or churches.

86 posted on 06/22/2007 4:47:49 PM PDT by keats5 (tolerance of intolerant people is cultural suicide)
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To: reagan_fanatic

“A point that often gets overlooked in a world full of Benny Hinns and Jan Crouches. Most churches and most Pastors are hard working and frugal”

Thank you.

The materialistic pastors stand out because they are unusual. Most live modest home lives.


87 posted on 06/22/2007 4:59:58 PM PDT by keats5 (tolerance of intolerant people is cultural suicide)
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To: Zionist Conspirator
I bet you accept a great deal of non-supernatural historical facts on faith, however.

I've never tested "love" either, but I believe in it. However, love cannot be proven scientifically, which is why they don't teach love and relationships in science class.

If you really believe in "thinking for ourselves," then kindly stop ridiculing people who don't agree with you.

Are you being serious? Who's ridicluing who here? You've insulted me 2 or 3 times in one post; I'm supposedly stuck in an 18th century mindset because I don't believe in bronze age deities and creation myths. You seem to think that I have some sort of stake in your opinions and spiritual beliefs, which I don't. Please, keep believing in your publicly founded, unincarnate, God, and quit pretending that I care that you do.

88 posted on 06/22/2007 5:21:18 PM PDT by GunRunner (Come on Fred, how long are you going to wait?)
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To: Aikonaa
“I have always found it strange that if one doesn’t accepts Jesus’ message of love and accept him as the savior, one is condemned to eternal torture. It makes Jesus appear as a narcissist and sadist of the first order.”

Christians believe we have all, to some extent, rebelled against God. The consequence is eternal separation from God, in a place void of God's goodness, which would indeed be Hell. God loves us, but being perfect, he must also be just. Our perfect God must also set a high standard, namely perfection. And none of us are perfect.

Yet, God found a way to balance both his love and need for justice. He sent his own perfect Son to die in our place. We deserved eternal death, but Jesus stood in our place and paid that sin debt for us. We need only to ask forgiveness and accept Jesus’ sacrifice on our behalf to be able to enter God’s perfect heaven.

You say “Jesus appear(s) as a narcissist and sadist of the first order,” even though Jesus' main purpose here on earth was dedicated to saving sinners.

That’s like a drowning man accusing a life ring of being unreasonable for being the only floating object around.

89 posted on 06/22/2007 5:50:38 PM PDT by keats5 (tolerance of intolerant people is cultural suicide)
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To: keats5
That’s like a drowning man accusing a life ring of being unreasonable for being the only floating object around.

Nicely stated. After all, it's "God so loved the world that He sent His only Son. . ." He wasn't obligated to save us from the consequences of our rebellion, but He paid the supreme price to do so.

90 posted on 06/22/2007 6:21:11 PM PDT by rhema ("Break the conventions; keep the commandments." -- G. K. Chesterton)
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To: John Semmens
God’s message to mankind is NOT the peculiar theologies of the various creeds. It is the guidance on how we treat our fellow humans. Those eager to announce that persons following different theologies are going to Hell want to believe they are members of a select club. Such a belief contradicts the concept of a wise and compassionate God.

Not quite. It's not theology; it's the acceptance of a Person who's God's appointed means of salvation, freely offered to anyone who's willing to accept Him.

Keats5 (post 89) has summed up God's offer succintly and ably.

91 posted on 06/22/2007 6:32:07 PM PDT by rhema ("Break the conventions; keep the commandments." -- G. K. Chesterton)
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To: Zhangliqun
"Then what would you have us say about atheism, that it's wonderful? Especially in light of the quotes from atheist authors above? No sarcasm, I'm serious -- what in your view is the right way for us to respond?"

I'm not an atheist, but you never win someone over to your point of view by insulting them and being hostile. It's better to be kind and lead by example, especially in instances like this. You can't argue someone into believing the way you believe.

92 posted on 06/22/2007 8:07:04 PM PDT by gura
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To: gura

“Nothing turns me off from religion more than the behavior of Christians in threads about Atheism.”

Bump to that. A Christ whose most basic commandments they so obviously ignore cannot have possibly been much of an influence, based on the statements of so many of them here.


93 posted on 06/22/2007 10:09:30 PM PDT by LibertarianInExile ("What a cruel reflection that a rich country cannot long be a free one." --Thomas Jefferson)
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To: gura

...I’m not a Christian...

Um....I’m not a Jew either....

No - Not a Muslim - guess again (and stop stereotyping me please.)


94 posted on 06/22/2007 10:39:58 PM PDT by Tzimisce (How Would Mohammed Vote? Hillary for President! www.dndorks.com)
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To: Zionist Conspirator

Bogus threats from an idiot don’t mean much to me and I doubt they mean much to the mods.


95 posted on 06/23/2007 6:05:46 AM PDT by shuckmaster (The only purpose of the news is to fill the space around the advertisements.)
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To: Aikonaa

My understanding of not believing in Jesus is that you will not be with Jesus in the afterlife. This is considered Hell. But since you don’t believe in anything, that’s what you will get when you die. Nothing.

Its highly possible that this is true, that we will get what we really want in our afterlife. And with the scientific evidence pointing more and more to design, I’m very comfortable with my belief in God.


96 posted on 06/23/2007 6:18:20 AM PDT by razzle
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To: LibertarianInExile
“based on the statements of so many of them here.”

Its the constant attacks by the God-haters, calling us stupid and so forth, despite the overwhelming evidence for design in nature (and the complete scientific failure of darwinism and the copernican principle) that provoke this backlash. You do know its perfectly OK to smear feces on statues of Jesus, and other Christian symbols, but how dare you say anything negative toward a transvestite marching in the gay pride parade with its pants down.

97 posted on 06/23/2007 6:27:58 AM PDT by razzle
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To: Caleb1411

Hitchens agrees that Deism is reasonable. IMO Theism is also reasonable.

It’s religion he’s railing about...or maybe the human flaw expressed through religion.

That flaw being people turning their faith into fact, and their belief into certainty.


98 posted on 06/23/2007 6:39:20 AM PDT by Swordfished
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To: GunRunner

Another fallacy born of lumping all faiths together.

Virtually none of them ever intended to merge into the rest. Most of them contain explicit imperatives to try to convince others of their views, just like even this atheist Hitchens feels he must concerning his views. When Hitchens points his finger he forgets to notice the other four pointed back at himself.


99 posted on 06/23/2007 6:52:42 AM PDT by HiTech RedNeck
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To: Swordfished
That flaw being people turning their faith into fact, and their belief into certainty.

Are you sure that's wrong?

100 posted on 06/23/2007 7:00:07 AM PDT by HiTech RedNeck
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