Topics: Atheism

The belief and that God does not exist and the worldview that results

Atheist / Christian Dialogue…

Wednesday, April 27th, 2011

http://justreality.org/2011/04/26/truth-beyond-the-provable/

An old friend of mine from Rochester, a pastor with a PhD in Physics named George, creates a mock dialogue between the believer and the skeptic.  A great summary of the different defense postures of the Christian when discussing religion with skeptics.  Of interest to me (because I never thought of them before) was his criticism of the typical skeptic refusal of a null hypothesis and doing a test that falsifies their hypothesis of God’s non-existence. That is a way to turn the burden of proof to the skeptic.

I also liked the straw-man criticism of the typical “how could a ‘good’ God do bad thing xyz…” skeptical criticism of Christianity.  How often have I heard the argument that God is “evil” from a worldview where there is no God.  I have always believed that good criticism must borrow the worldview of the the other in order to be effective.

“The Fool” of Psalm 14

Tuesday, April 26th, 2011

The themes of Psalm 14, although exegetically difficult, have been popular subjects of theology and philosophy from the time of Paul until today.  Paul loosely quotes verses 1-3 in Rom 3:10-12 to describe the fallen state of godless Jews and Gentiles to a Jewish audience.  Anselm of Canterbery, who developed his logical argument for the ontological existence of God in Proslogium,  cited Psalm 14 as an important building block in his line of reasoning.  He was refuted by Gaunilo of Marmouter in an essay entitled In Behalf of the Fool, who based his criticism on the theology of Psalm 14.
Neo-Calvinistic scholarship of the later reformation era later begin exploring these themes as well with the goal to define a concrete theological doctrine to refute Arminianism.  The tenant of total depravity,  a cornerstone belief in Reformed theology, rests heavily on a universalized interpretation of verses 1-3.  It is likely that the origin of this interpretation came from an understanding based on Paul’s re-contextualization of its verses in Romans, a creative practice he sometimes employed in the formulation of his arguments but obscured their original meaning and context.
The purpose of this research is to conduct a formal study of Psalm 14 from a literary-theological exegetical approach.  Paul’s treatment and usage of this text will not be used for understanding the psalmist’s original meaning in this review, although a study of that subject would be a good compliment to more fully understand the issues they both address. Read the rest of this entry »

Faith & Atheism

Wednesday, October 17th, 2007

I recently read a great post by John Remy at MindOnFire.com regarding the criticism about atheists also having “faith” as a fundamental tenant of their world view. I can see why this criticism is annoying – the atheist (loose or strict) relies on evidence and rationality for their world view, and to be told their fundamental beliefs are (surprise!) just based on blind faith, will see this as an insult.
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The dark side of free will

Saturday, May 5th, 2007

warn2.gifNote to atheists: this post may look like I’m pointing a critical finger exclusively at you, but I’m not! This isn’t a happy or easy topic for me. After reading this (if you choose to) please believe me that I, like all humanity suffer from the same problems that free will makes us susceptible to. If I end up offending you, please forgive me! I’m not perfect and I don’t have the ability to write about this sensitive subject very well. Please know I have a great respect for you and that I do not know the whole story for why you believe the way you do. I borrowed the cute warning sticker off of alistapart.com, and will use it when the posts I write have potential to annoy or offend people. BTW, this is NOT reverse psychology trick. It means to get ready to be offended (possibly).

I have talked in earlier posts about the concept of man’s free will in a worldview of an all-powerful God. It’s a nice thing – it makes us different than robots and all that. We have the freedom to choose what to do with the time we have – to live a spiritual life or to live a selfish one. What has haunted me for the last 5 weeks has been this – that free will, as rosy as it seems on the surface, has a terrible side-effect.
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The optimism of atheism

Monday, February 5th, 2007

Miko over at MoF opened up a discussion on optimism and religion. Both sides of it (theist vs. atheist) have perspectives on this about themselves and their counterpart. Here is my take on the subject.

As a theist? Christian, I have come to understand atheism as a (mostly) healthy and optimistic shift in belief away from a very unhealthy and very ugly view of God put forth by very misguided religious groups. As a Christian, I have seen first hand and experienced how bad evangelical churches and movements can be (which I never thought possible before), and I have heard second hand (via John and Miko and others) how bad other religious groups and their dark and dismal views of God are and how that manifests itself in a religious culture and society. Miko and John’s atheistic world-view and accompanying beliefs/values to me could only be described as optimistic.

No joke – if I went though the experiences of most folks from bad religious backgrounds, I would probably be an atheist now, and I think that the true God would be pretty happy with that arrangement – it is a good way to sever ties with a belief system with so much crap that runs so deep it must be (in some cases) summarily rejected like a cancer for any healthy growth to take its place.

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Revelation (a response to Elise’s question)

Friday, November 17th, 2006

This is a response to a question Elise had about my understanding of how God reveals himself to people, and how I understand atheism in all of this. Please believe me when I say that I am just like the next guy trying to figure this stuff out. This post represents my best current thinking, and I am not at all 100% sure my thinking is solid, but I am just doing my best I can.As a Christian, I do not believe Christianity is the ‘One True Religion,’ and all others are absolutely false, but rather that Jesus spoke the clearest revelation of spiritual truth than all others. All religions have some truth to them, some more than others, but to me, Jesus’ teachings and the God of the Old Testament, who I believe to be one and the same person, seem to me to be the most purest written revelation that is available to men. That is why I believe it was called the good news. Its the clearest, most direct answer to how to live the spiritual life. All religions, including atheism, are like lights in darkness – some are brighter, some are darker – I simply want to follow the brightest light of all.

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Dear God?

Friday, October 13th, 2006

*faith-based discussion removed on Oct.17th*

I recently listened to a song by Sarah McLachlan called “Dear God”, and I must admit, I was really confused. Can someone explain this to me? Anyway, here are the lyrics:

Dear god,
Hope you got the letter,
And I pray you can make it better down here.
I don’t mean a big reduction in the price of beer,
But all the people that you made in your image,
See them starving on their feet,
cause they don’t get enough to eat

From god,
I cant believe in you.

Dear god,
Sorry to disturb you,
But I feel that I should be heard loud and clear.
We all need a big reduction in amount of tears,
And all the people that you made in your image,
See them fighting in the street,
cause they cant make opinions meet,
About god,
I cant believe in you.

Did you make disease, and the diamond blue?
Did you make mankind after we made you?
And the devil too!

Dear god,
Don’t know if you noticed,
But your name is on a lot of quotes in this book.
Us crazy humans wrote it, you should take a look,
And all the people that you made in your image,
Still believing that junk is true.
Well I know it ain’t and so do you,
Dear god,
I cant believe in,
I don’t believe in,

I wont believe in heaven and hell.
No saints, no sinners,
No devil as well.
No pearly gates, no thorny crown.
You’re always letting us humans down.
The wars you bring, the babes you drown.
Those lost at sea and never found,
And its the same the whole world round.
The hurt I see helps to compound,
That the father, son and holy ghost,
Is just somebody’s unholy hoax,
And if you’re up there you’ll perceive,
That my hearts here upon my sleeve.
If there’s one thing I don’t believe in…

Its you,
Dear god.

So what am I confused by? Well, the song, on the surface at least, is about a beef the singer has with God. So far, that makes sense, but the confusing part here is that she doesn’t believe in God. By the song’s bitter and angry tone, it obviously isn’t a parody about the ironic nature of an imaginary loving God in an awful world, nor is it just an intellectual look at the ironies of a non-existent God, it is an angry song about an imaginary God. That’s what confuses me. Why is anyone angry at a God who doesn’t exist? I must admit that I am not too good with understanding poetry or song lyrics and must turn to others who know better than I to understand, so I am hoping someone will help me here.

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Reason and the clash of worldviews

Tuesday, October 3rd, 2006

Once new knowledge and spiritual truth get into our heads, however it is that it happens, reason is now available to do its work. Even though reason works well within both the spiritual and physical dimensions in the confines of the same wordview and knowledge set, I believe it cannot work well across different knowledge sets and worldviews. Reason is inexplicably tied to it’s bearer’s presuppositions and set of knowledge – removed from them it has no context and therefore no effectiveness, like a hammer without a person.

It seems that for people of differing worldviews to criticize each others beliefs using reason, they are jumping the gun. They must instead start by examining each other’s worldviews that reasonably lead to their beliefs before progressing to the beliefs themselves. Both parties are to a lesser or greater degree reasonable according to their presuppositional framework, so the frameworks are the only things that people of opposing worldview can argue about. For reason to work across frameworks, the parts of the frameworks that are agreed upon must be the knowledge that it works off of. In the case of the deist and the atheist, the common denominator would be a belief that the existence of empirical evidence is required for something to be true.
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