CADRE Comments

A Rational Look at Christianity; Basing Reason in Truth

William Lobdell, the former religion reporter for the LA Times, has contributed a guest post to the Debunking Christianity blog. He notes that when he wrote his column he received many messages from 'closet' doubters and atheists, pastors included, who thanked him for having the courage to speak out even if they couldn't. Lobdell believes that this phenomenon is far more widespread than people think:

"Several recent studies have shown that there’s little difference in the moral behavior of evangelical Christians and atheists. I’d argue that’s because both groups don’t really believe, deep down, that God is real...I think there are so many closet doubters because people sense there’s no God who personally intervenes in their lives. But they can’t take the final step toward deism, agnosticism or atheism because the religious ties that bind us are thick. I know. I was a closet atheist for four years."

This assertion raises some interesting questions about the nature of religious belief and its effect on our behavior. I think it is best to approach this issue from the connection between belief and behavior in general. Cognitive science research increasingly demonstrates that the relationship between what we profess and what we actually do (or how we react) is very complex. People who claim not to be racists often betray an instinctive racial bias when asked to judge the hostility present in identical facial expressions of people of their own as well as different races. Despite countless warnings from peers and scientists that smoking is catastrophic to your health, people still become addicted to nicotine, often as a result of social pressure. People may have an irrational fear of flying even if they 'know' that statistically the chances of their own plane suddenly crashing are very small.

A more interesting and relevant set of examples comes from the study of what cognitive scientists call 'folk' biology and 'folk' physics. Aristotle thought that one had to apply a constant force in order to keep an object in motion. This is familiar from our experience because we so often deal with high-friction surfaces which impede objects' motion. But Galileo and Newton (and even before them Descartes) discovered that in the absence of friction, an object moving with a certain speed in a certain direction would remain in that state unless an external force acted on it. There are many other examples which demonstrate that we act according to a very different set of physical intuitions than scientists. Even scientists themselves who are well trained in thinking counter-intuitively about physical phenomena often rely on folk physics in their everyday life. The upshot is that we may know something to be true on the intellectual level yet instinctively react as if we didn't believe it.

So I would hesitate to jump to conclusions about the best explanation of similar moral behavior among evangelicals and atheists. Here's another important factor in this situation: It could well be that closet doubters have lost the sense of contact with a personal God, and no longer interpret events in their life as being part of God's plan for them. But it is far more likely that evangelicals and atheists behave similarly because they are all part of the same homogenized Western culture, caught up in the same middle-class lifestyle and facing similar problems and concerns. Psychologist Richard Beck has just begun a fascinating new series about the impact of the rise of the bourgeoisie mentality on theology. He notes:

"
the Western notion of personhood stresses autonomy, individualism, and interiority. This view of the self is relatively new and many theologians have noted its pernicious impact upon both theology and the life of the church...almost every pernicious spiritual practice we see today has its root in a notion of selfhood that prioritizes individualism over relationality, autonomy over interdependence, and interiority over community. So the question is: If this Western notion of identity is so bad where did it come from?...Christian and Marxist revolutions are often being preached at the bourgeoisie. But it is very unclear what the bourgeoisie are to do on Monday morning if they are to pay the rent. So they get up and go back to work. And that is the root dilemma of modern theology. People go back to work....And if they go back to work, church life is going to have to fit in around the edges of bourgeoisie existence. Church life or missional living is always going to be fighting over the scraps of what is left over from the bourgeois work week."

A Western middle class life is great in some respects: we are not exposed to the same life-and-death challenges that were routine for denizens of previous periods, such as famine, barbarian invasion, plague, etc. On the other hand, we no longer experience nature and society in the same way either. After long years of quietly moving through the confines of middle class existence, our worldview almost inevitably begins to resemble that of a drowsy gentleman after a heavy lunch, as Chesterton put it. We come to rely on the institutions of Western society instead of God, and faith is given lip service if any.

That has little to do with whether God exists or not. It has more to do with our acculturation to Western society. It is very hard to live consistently according to one's beliefs when one's everyday situation affords few opportunities to really do so. It requires discipline and community support. Of course this does not exhaust the questions raised by Lobdell's assertion, but it is an important thing to keep in mind.

25 comments:

The reason atheists exhibit almost all the same moral behaviors as their Christian counterparts is because our (and that means ALL of us) moral framework here in the west has been built on Christian morals.

The whole question there is why should anybody care about "good moral" behavior at all?

Nonsense like this whole "closet atheist" junk is just irrational atheists attempting to downplay the fact that their worldveiw is rapidly being torn to pieces and thrown in the trash.

I know dozens of people from my church alone who professed to be atheists for years. Then one day, they realized that they had believed in God all along, they simply couldn't admit it to themselves.

Keep dreaming non-believers.

As a sort of aside: I think it's interesting that Mr. Lobdell, instead of arriving at a result like, for example, Eh's, arrives at the other result instead. After all, despite his rather derogatory way of putting it, Eh's result could in theory be true just as easily as the other: both groups really believe, deep down, that God is real. Or he could have arrived at a result similar to what JD suggests instead: that we're likely to have an enculturated set of habits--which Eh also suggests.

But then there appears to be some kind of ethical difference, not merely a difference of factual belief; represented not only by JD's implication that Western secularism tends to erode our moral behavior and Eh's implication that our common Christian background-history helps preserve our moral behavior. The ethical difference seems, oddly enough, to be implied by Mr. Lobdell himself!

The question is, when he claims little difference in the behavior of evangelical Christians and atheists, and argues that this is because both deep down don't believe God exists: what kind of behavior is he talking about? Is he explaining our common propensity to give charitably to the needy, and to love our enemies, and to protect the helpless, and to be faithful in our relationships, etc.? Or is he explaining our common propensity to exploit the needy, deride our enemies, ignore the helpless, be treacherous in our relationships, etc.?

He doesn't say which in his essay. I have a suspicion, from long experience, that it will be the latter; but an answer either way would be interesting.


Anyway, would any of our visiting sceptics care to weigh in on which kind of shared ethical behaviors would tend to imply to you that, deep down, evangelical Christians are really just as atheistic as atheists?


(Not incidentally, and speaking as a Christian from within the Christian tradition: actually, I would agree that when I do certain behaviors I have a tendency to willfully, or at least conveniently, put aside my belief that God exists. This has long been recognized to be a characteristic of what Christians, and other religious supernaturalistic theists, call "sin". Which class of behaviors would you most rationally suspect I am talking about, though?)

JRP

I like both the points made here by Eh and Jason. And I think that's a great question that Jason poses as well. While either answer reveals something uniquely interesting about the way Mr. Lobdell is thinking, neither answer changes the general flaw in assumption. Whether we deal with the same temptations and evils, or whether we participate in the same benevolent behavior, I don't see why that should be surprising. As has been already pointed out, we come from the same culture. But even aside from that, we come from the same group. We're humans. We share a common ancestor - sin.

I feel like JD did a great job of getting to the heart of the problem though. Ultimately, we live in a society where church has to fit in around the edges. If we're honest, most churches don't have a real sense of community. There are YMCA's with as much as or more of a sense of community than many of our churches. As a minister, this is something I struggle with regularly. There are too many people who are quite willing to just fit things in around the edges. Church is just an extra-curricular activity. But if you notice in the first-century, per Acts 2 in particular, the church met on a far more frequent basis than most of us today, and had far greater relationships with each other.

Think about it for a second - most people spend at least 40 hours a week around people in the world. They spend time around many who are living a worldly life. Then they go home and watch TV, often watching shows that fill their homes with the same stuff, albeit in entertaining fashion. The average Christian spends a total per week of less than 5 hours with other Christians. So if the main group of people we connect with is a group who doesn't have its eyes set on the goal, should it really be a surprise when many Christians lose sight of it as well? We seem to have lost an understanding of Paul's words in 2 Cor. 6:14.

Lobdell says, "I think there are so many closet doubters because people sense there’s no God who personally intervenes in their lives. But they can’t take the final step toward deism, agnosticism or atheism because the religious ties that bind us are thick." I have a different theory, too. I think people don't sense God because they're listening to pop-Christianity instead of actually studying the Bible to see what kind of connection they should even be expecting in the first place. So they have expectation X of God, and then when expectation X isn't met, they start wondering why not. But the problem is that X isn't a valid expectation. But the reason they can't take that extra step, and the reason those bonds are so tight is because we naturally lean against the notion that life is accidental and ultimately meaningless, and that there is nothing at all going on behind the scenes. I have my own doubts/questions. The reason I have not walked away is not because it's just easier or I've got too many connections or something like that. One of the many reasons I haven't walked away is because I can't deny that there's more to the story than what I see. Atheists have simply ignored this, trying to reduce it to something they can have control over, thus essentially demonizing that mentality. As was already mentioned, the whole "deep down we know God doesn't exist" thing can be played both ways. And I think it's played better the other way.

I do agree however with Mr. Lobdell on one thing - the need to talk openly about doubts. I would say that doubting can be a temptation in its own way, but I don't believe you'll defeat it simply by ignoring it. Aren't we told in Jude v.22 to have mercy on those who doubt? Clearly Jesus followed this notion. I think more people are seeing this now and facing up to it, but unfortunately, it's too late for many.

Hi Leslie,

Thank you for your wise comments. I should point out that credit for the bourgeoisie mentality argument should all go to Richard Beck. Check out his amazing blog that I link to. You'll find it's full of fascinating, innovative theology.

I agree wholeheartedly that both evangelicals and atheists have had very diluted exposure to the Christian tradition. They get their spirituality from Max Lucado and Joel Osteen instead of Augustine, Calvin and Edwards. A big part of what restored my faith after a crisis in my freshman college year was realizing that my expectations had been all skewed by having been raised a fundamentalist. Now that I know where to look for God and have at least a little better understanding of the locus of His providence, my faith is much stronger.

Hi JD,

I linked here from Debunking Christianity. For disclosure purposes, I am a long-time atheist, for whom the issue of the existence of a god, any god, has been settled in the same way that cold fusion has been settled in physics. If solid evidence is ever presented supporting the idea, I will gladly give it further consideration, but until that time I hardly give it any thought.

That said, please let me respond to something you said in the last paragraph of your post:
It is very hard to live consistently according to one's beliefs when one's everyday situation affords few opportunities to really do so. It requires discipline and community support.


Since childhood when trying to ascertain someone else's beliefs, I have leaned on the adage: a man lives what he believes. If you want to know what Ted Haggard believes about homosexuality, his words are no guide, but his actions are. If you want to know what the Catholic Church and its clergy believe about sodomy, rape, child molestation, obstruction of justice and murder through negligence, do not listen to them one-on-one, from the pulpit, or from the throne in the Vatican, simply watch what they do. Behaviors accurately reflect beliefs, on personal as well as organizational levels.

Let me extend this just a bit. According to a Bureau of Labor Statistics study a year or so ago, the average American involves themselves in less than a total of one hour of religiously related activity per day. From the same study, the average American watches more than five hours of television. Both are purely discretionary activities, but Americans prefer television five to one.

I contend that through their behavior, Americans are declaring exactly what they believe. Given the choice, Americans consciously elect to watch television rather than participating in religious activities. American's behavior states it plainly: "The Simpsons," "Family Guy," "Desperate Housewives," "The Sopranos," and "Sex and the City" are more important than sermons, threats of damnation and/or promises of a blissful eternity.

In general, Americans won't announce their beliefs publicly, and they won't tell the truth on polls that ask them directly, but their behaviors serve as a self-evident testimonies to what they truly believe.

So, JD, I disagree when you say,
It is very hard to live consistently according to one's beliefs when one's everyday situation affords few opportunities to really do so. It requires discipline and community support.


I think it's very easy to live consistently according to one's beliefs. I think Americans do live out their beliefs. Since Americans commit at least five hours a day to television, their everyday situations do indeed afford them plenty of opportunities to pursue religious involvement, but they consciously choose not to avail themselves of it. Their behavior makes it clear: Americans don't want more religion, Christian or other.

Eh,
In your comment,

The reason atheists exhibit almost all the same moral behaviors as their Christian counterparts is because our (and that means ALL of us) moral framework here in the west has been built on Christian morals.


If we accept this claim, how do we explain that the moral behaviors of all human beings the world over religious or not, Western or not, are essentially what you call "Christian morals?" Wherever we go - the Arctic, Australia, Indonesia, Alaska, China, the Amazon, Borneo, Patagonia, India, Africa - it is observed that all humans share the same moral intuitions. Christians might want to claim that the goodness in man is unique to them, but that is is simply not what is observed. Even the tribes having no beliefs in gods whatsoever, have the same moral sense as that which you call Christian.

You and I, the Aborigines of Australia, and the Piraha tribe in the Amazon(this one of many societies having no belief in gods whatsoever), share exactly the same morality, aside from the peculiarities of mutually-agreed-upon ingroup ideas, like members of specific Christian sects simply agreeing amongst themselves that they are morally superior to all others, including other Christians. By their own proclamations they lay claim to the highest morality, but those claims fall flat when they are studiously compared to the rest of humanity. While it may be comforting for religious groups to conceive of themselves as models of virtue, looked at more objectively from the outside, they are no more loving, courageous, caring, compassionate or generous as any other human group.

Accepting the group's doctrinal claims of exceptionalism binds the group together and gives all members a massive on-demand warm fuzzy, but it does nothing to distinguish them as morally better people.

JD,

Maybe he should have written about atheists being "closet Christians" because they live by many of the same moral beliefs as evangelicals?

In any event, I don't equate all evangelicals or Christians as believing the same thing with the same intensity. Thus, a weak evangelical or Christian belief, perhaps a cultural one, may not affect behavior nearly as much as a strong evangelical or Christian belief. If we assume, for example, that church attendance actually correlates with a strong Christian belief, we see plenty of moral differences.

According to the Baylor/Gallup surveys, "the average person is 50 percent less likely to be divorced or separated if he or she attends religious service at least twice a month." R. Stark, What Americans Really Believe. Also, "the divorce rate among those who never attend religious services is close to double that of weekly church-goers." Ibid. Also, those who actually go to church regularly are much more likely to give to charities, even those other than their churches, and to participate in community service. Heck, even those who believe but do not attend regularly give more than those who don't believe at all.

So on three moral behaviors, divorce, giving, and charity work, it appears strong Christian belief makes a very big difference.

Does this mean that the "weaker" Christian belief are really atheists. Not hardly unless one wants to equate being atheist with being immoral, which is something I hear atheists complaining about often.

Russ,

I am not sure what your point is about television watching and religious activity. The comparison is much too simplistic and flawed for your apparent purposes, but if your ultimate point is that Americans are not highly religious and watch too much smut on t.v., I know a great many evangelicals and evangelists would tell you, "Amen, Brother!"

Layman,

Please note the following data published by the Christian pollsters, the Barna Group


They had interviewed 3,854 adults from the 48 contiguous states. The margin of error is ±2 percentage points. The survey found:
1. 11% of the adult population is currently divorced.
2. 25% of adults have had at least one divorce during their lifetime.
3. Divorce rates among conservative Christians were significantly higher than for other faith groups, and much higher than Atheists and Agnostics experience.

George Barna, president and founder of Barna Research Group, commented:

"While it may be alarming to discover that born again Christians are more likely than others to experience a divorce, that pattern has been in place for quite some time. Even more disturbing, perhaps, is that when those individuals experience a divorce many of them feel their community of faith provides rejection rather than support and healing. But the research also raises questions regarding the effectiveness of how churches minister to families. The ultimate responsibility for a marriage belongs to the husband and wife, but the high incidence of divorce within the Christian community challenges the idea that churches provide truly practical and life-changing support for marriages."

According to the Dallas Morning News, a Dallas TX newspaper, the national study "raised eyebrows, sowed confusion, [and] even brought on a little holy anger." This caused George Barna to write a letter to his supporters, saying that he is standing by his data, even though it is upsetting. He said that "We rarely find substantial differences" between the moral behavior of Christians and non-Christians. Barna Project Director Meg Flammang said: "We would love to be able to report that Christians are living very distinct lives and impacting the community, but ... in the area of divorce rates they continue to be the same." Both statements seem to be projecting the belief that conservative Christians and liberal Christians have the same divorce rate. This disagrees with their own data.


The bold emphases are mine.

My point here is simply that while Christians make many lofty moral claims, especially concerning strong family values, their behavior paints a very different picture.

If one looks at crime statistics categorized by religious affiliation over a spectrum having "Why Bother?" religious liberalism at one end and "Let's Pretend We're Biblical Literalists!" religious fundamentalism at the other, Christianity looks bleaker and bleaker as we move toward the evangelical/fundamentalist end. To any compassionate, caring person - me for instance - the numbers are downright frightening. At that end of the Christianity scale -- where the world is 6000 years old, unicorns exist and Lott is virtuous -- we find the highest incidence of violent crime including spouse and child abuse, incest, rape and armed robbery, the highest divorce rate, the lowest income level, and the lowest education level among US Christians. These are not my numbers, statistics or analysis. These come from various groups, many with Christian sympathies, like Barna.

I'm not suggesting that Christianity causes these dismal life circumstances, Layman, but Christianity, for all its claims, is not improving them. Christianity, quite obviously, cannot bring many of its practitioners to a place where they can care adequately for themselves and their families. But, something that could replace their impotent Christianity while markedly bettering the likelihood of a more fruitful future for themselves and their families is ... education. But, alas, many of these families have been taught by their clergy to be distrustful, even disdainful, of education. So, their clergy have effectively cut them off from the one thing with the proven capacity to better their lives.

It's very sad, really, that so many Christians in the US, have been taught to have undying trust in a religion that does nothing for them, while at the same time they have been taught to have undying disdain for education which really can open doors to brighter futures. Religion forcefeeds them poison while it denies them real sustenance.

that same Barna thing shows that theologically liberal Christians have lower diverse rates than atheists.

so what's the point? Truth by divorce right?

If we accept this claim, how do we explain that the moral behaviors of all human beings the world over religious or not, Western or not, are essentially what you call "Christian morals?" Wherever we go - the Arctic, Australia, Indonesia, Alaska, China, the Amazon, Borneo, Patagonia, India, Africa - it is observed that all humans share the same moral intuitions. Christians might want to claim that the goodness in man is unique to them, but that is is simply not what is observed. Even the tribes having no beliefs in gods whatsoever, have the same moral sense as that which you call Christian.


Interesting you are willing to admit that. Most social scientists would disagree but at they same time they would consider something universal to all culture to be not merely a matter of cultural construct but genetic.

that's a great way to introduce the moral argument.

I linked here from Debunking Christianity. For disclosure purposes, I am a long-time atheist, for whom the issue of the existence of a god, any god, has been settled in the same way that cold fusion has been settled in physics. If solid evidence is ever presented supporting the idea, I will gladly give it further consideration, but until that time I hardly give it any thought.

Of cousre if you are willing to only examine the surface, like a good little reductionist, then of course you are going to create the illusion that there's no God.

You never have to see what you do not wish to see.

There's pretty good evidence that we are not born an absence of belief. We are born with a genetic component that makes belief in God natural. When atheists were so sure we were born without belief then they were certain that was the "default." Now that that is disproved, they are still trying to turn the opposite position into some sort of proof for them.

I think that's hilarious because it just proves Paul Simone's point: "A man only sees what he wants to see and disregards the rest."

two problems: (1) trying to compare belief in God to a scientific hypothesis and demanding empirical evidence as though God is an empirical proportion; fundamental mistake that is bound to lead the unwary meta physician into fallacies.


(2) Why does there have to be positive proof? That too is a huge mistake. Its' just par for the course of the reductionist ideology.

Most believers have 500 years for belief and all of them are solid. The average atheist will never admit that one is even half way intriguing.

I am again reminded what a totally shallow position it is.

Hinman,

You said,

Of cousre if you are willing to only examine the surface, like a good little reductionist, then of course you are going to create the illusion that there's no God.

You never have to see what you do not wish to see.


There is no reason to go beyond the surface in theology or philosophy of religion. Christianity has had lots of time, most of two millenia, to show even superficially that it offers hope to believers. It doesn't. You can shroud all your pretentions in obscurantist schlock, but in the end, whether you argue at the deepest levels your near-PhD can take you or stick to the shallows where the failures and defects of Christianity are well-lit, you will, just like every other failure of a theologian before you, arrive at nothing of use to practicing believers. You might have an article accepted for publication, but - and you know this to be true - it will, in all likelihood, never even be referenced unless you do it yourself.

Your degree is largely useless to you and the rest of mankind. Your degree offers you no tools for adding to or augmenting the vast store of accumulated human knowledge.

So, you, the near-PhD, hang out on an obscure blog hoping beyond hope that someone will engage you in a way that will at least let you think your pursuing the near-PhD was not a complete waste of time. If it was anything beyond a waste of your time and money, you could solve or at least address some real problem facing humanity. You would not be left wrestling with issues that matter to none but the few helping you waste yet more time working through those fantasy issues over a few beers.

Sadly, your near-PhD does not even provide you with the intellectual wherewithal to respond to my comments in context. It's obvious, J. L., that you did not even attempt to ascertain the context. You quote-mined for fragments that you could attack, then dove right in.

If you had a valuable degree in a useful discipline, you would have been able to discern that I was not in any way trying to disprove the existence of your Christian god. You should have been able to see that the data I noted simply clarified the point that while Christians make their self-serving claims, the veracity of those claims is simply not born out by the data.

I'm sure that all suited up in your near-PhD, you've got a million proofs for a million gods. I'm sure that any day now, Christians will no longer use the word, "faith" because your proofs will give them reason to use the word "know." I'm sure that for all of your new and improved near-PhD efforts, all Christians will have lives so distinctly superior to that of any non-Christian, that all people will immediately convert to the one true religion headmastered by the one true god.

Millions of people are starving, J.L., and your imaginary god will not do anything about. You will, no doubt, tell me that Christians will do what they can and give the credit to their god, and attribute to god's will all the deaths. If all the time wasted getting near-PhD's and playing big fish on little blog were turned to useful human endeavors, perhaps fewer people would die. But, then if we actually took care of each other, there would be nothing for gods to do, and we know that theology near-PhD's working the religion industry would never stand for that.


The reason atheists exhibit almost all the same moral behaviors as their Christian counterparts is because our (and that means ALL of us) moral framework here in the west has been built on Christian morals.



If my values as an atheist are a holdover from christianity why are they so very different on so very many issues?

Christians often consider homosexuality morally wrong. I consider their condemnation a mere prejudice and regard IT as morally wrong. Most of the people I know who are for the death penalty and the torture of terrorism suspects are christians. I, an atheist, oppose both. All of the christians of my acquaintance are meat eaters and typically scoff at even very limited animal rights. I consider it morally objectionable to kill and inflict suffering on animals in factory farms when we can not only live as well without meat but healthier. I value critical thinking in all matters. Christians praise faith rather than high standards of evidence (at least when it comes to their religious beliefs).

At every turn I find my values at odds with those of christians.

Why?

My values don't derive from christianity. They emerge from the thinking of the Enlightenment and the humanist tradition that emerged from it.

Hinman,

You said,

Of cousre if you are willing to only examine the surface, like a good little reductionist, then of course you are going to create the illusion that there's no God.

You never have to see what you do not wish to see.

Actually that sounds a lot nastier than I meant for it to. sorry.


There is no reason to go beyond the surface in theology or philosophy of religion. Christianity has had lots of time, most of two millenia, to show even superficially that it offers hope to believers. It doesn't.


sorry that's an irresponsible statement. Its' empirically proved by studies to offer hope. Hope is what you hope for. Now you mean it doesn't offer the fruition of hope but that's not only another matter, but merely your opinion as well.


You can shroud all your pretentions in obscurantist schlock, but in the end, whether you argue at the deepest levels your near-PhD can take you or stick to the shallows


You can stay in the shallow end of your not coming close to a Ph.D. You have no right to say anything like becasue you are not even part of the conversion in Western thought. You are so contemptuous of anything that goes beyond the one-dimensional man Marcuse warned us about, the reductionist robot who only look at the physical, buys products obidently and doesn't what he's told like a good little robot.

and don't forget argues ad homenim.



where the failures and defects of Christianity are well-lit, you will, just like every other failure of a theologian before you, arrive at nothing of use to practicing believers.


I'm sure you are such an expert on theology you are really know who is a failure and who isn't. That's why you are doing this valuable work for humanity posting on this very important blog where the other ubermenchen hang out.

And again, hate group atheism windus up the one commodity at its disposal,t he argument against the personality of those wo do not cow tow their compensation for beign damned.

Has he said anything of any substance at this point? Does any of this have anything to do with the issues? but hate group atheism is not about issues. It's about over coming resistance. It's subduing other view points. Theirs must be the only view point in existence, that's why they are "free thinkers." What they really mean by that term is slave thinkers.



You might have an article accepted for publication, but - and you know this to be true - it will, in all likelihood, never even be referenced unless you do it yourself.


My articles have been referenced.

So this is the new tactic of the little scum brigae. Can't beat my argument can you? you can't stade up to my education so you just attack the persnolity. tht's so intellectaul of you.

I think we can all see what hate group atheism is at this point.

Norman Mailer said "all great men are attacked, all the time." You are not dis confirming my greatness by trying to make my personality the issue. Quite the contrary, you are affirming my greatness.


Your degree is largely useless to you and the rest of mankind. Your degree offers you no tools for adding to or augmenting the vast store of accumulated human knowledge.

Is this an issue pertiaing the ideas in the pot. No. Its' it an attempt crush and destory the ego of an oppoent whose Ideas he can't answer? obvioiusly.


since my degree is from a secular university and I was taught by atheists I would think it would behoove you to affirm it. Of course that assumes you are intelligent even have a clue as to what history of ideas actually is, which you don't of course.

has he said anything yet that pertains to the issues? no he has nothing so far but rag on me as a person because he can't answer my arguments.

He's got on to p347 of the Secular web character assignation manual and he's carrying their directive "make the apologist the issue. find his psychological weakness and attack that rather than the argumetns, then you can crush his ego.

the problem withe character assassination manual is that it's written by mediocre people who have no greatness, don't know what it is and can't think. So they don't understand that this is only something I thrive on because it proves my greatness.


So, you, the near-PhD, hang out on an obscure blog hoping beyond hope that someone will engage you in a way that will at least let you think your pursuing the near-PhD was not a complete waste of time.


you are here. Mr. nowhere near a Ph.D.


what atheist watch for a total reprisal. I'm going to do a special on this brilliant thinker whose adding to the wealth knowledge the human gobaldigoopl

Millions of people are starving, J.L., and your imaginary god will not do anything about. You will, no doubt, tell me that Christians will do what they can and give the credit to their god, and attribute to god's will all the deaths.

I doubt that you have sufficient courage of your convictions to do anything about it. When Dallas CISPES was known to have been infiltrated by the FBI that's when I joined it, not when I ran away. I was spioed upon by the FBI for 10 years becasue I dared to work for an end to th blood shed in central America. I risked my gruaduate career, freedom, personal saftey and in spite of death threats continued the work unil the peace accords were signed in El Salvador.

I don't think You have any right o lecture me on standing up for your beliefs. I doubt very seriously that you ever have stood up for yous, if you have any.

since your only real real belief seems to be hating Christians I guess you think risking insults on message boards make you a brave and champion of your beliefs system, what it might be, if there's anything more to it than your ego.





If all the time wasted getting near-PhD's and playing big fish on little blog were turned to useful human endeavors, perhaps fewer people would die.



I see, people with Ph.D.'s make you feel inadequate right? you didn't get the chance to come anywhere near getting one. While you are putting me down for not getting mine, since you don't like them and you fault people for having them I would think not getting it would be a plus for you.




But, then if we actually took care of each other, there would be nothing for gods to do, and we know that theology near-PhD's working the religion industry would never stand for that.

Big brave talk. what have you done to back it up? Did you go to Nicharagua to pick coffee while the contras were coming? did you stand up the anti-Bork people when they threatened to beat you up? Did you keep organizing when the FBI was trying to link you to supporting the FMLN and did you risk getting spied on by them?

Now you braved the evil message board to give throw up some brave talk to people you don't even know and vent your hatred toward a belief system that is totally over year head.

You have no right to lecture me on social consciousness. I Paid my dues. I was an activist 6th grade (1968) when I collected a petition to keep my science teacher from going to Vietnam, to the very last shot fired in El Salvador before the peace accords.

I worked in the anti-war movement in Dallas, where red necks spit on us and threatened to kill us. The ani-nuc, poverty issues around people in East Dallas, Central America. McGovern, Mondale, Dukokus, Clinton campaigns.

Protested Bush (both Papa and Jr. and Quale and any other big high republican who came to town.

then also my work with FAIR on media.


I doubt that you even know what an activist is.

and I also participated in gay group to stop Andrew Dice Clay from performing in Dallas.

you have no right to lecture me on social consciousness.

And part of that time wasting near Ph.D. getting stuff was spent running a left wing quasi marxist academic journal devoted Marcuse and new left.

I'm willing to bet you don't even know what that means.

My values don't derive from christianity. They emerge from the thinking of the Enlightenment and the humanist tradition that emerged from it.

But learning about that tradition is exactly what I did my failed eivl stupid Christian Ph.D. thing, which was a secular problem and most my professors were atheists.

To learn about that Tradition you have to do all that subjective, stupid, un thinking un scientific time wasting book reading that Russ thinks is such a big waste.

my dissertation was about the rise of modern science and the role of Newton and Boyle in developing modern reductionism.


If you knew more about that tradition you would know that ti was not established by atheists. Philosophes were religious. Very few of them were atheists and they were late in the period.

There were significant Chrsitian contributors: The Latitudinarians, Priestly, Finalon and others.


If you knew more about that tradition you would know that ti was not established by atheists. Philosophes were religious. Very few of them were atheists and they were late in the period.


I'm well aware of that. Please refrain from attributing to me opinions I have not expressed.

I never claimed the Enlightenment was an atheist movement. I only said that my values derive largely from a tradition rooted in the Enlightenment. That's all I said and its all I meant.

I'm well aware of that. Please refrain from attributing to me opinions I have not expressed.

I never claimed the Enlightenment was an atheist movement. I only said that my values derive largely from a tradition rooted in the Enlightenment. That's all I said and its all I meant.


I do apologize. I was sort of out of sorts when I made those comments due to the nature of the preceding post.

It is really not my intention to insult you, nor was it my intention to insult Russ.

I should not have said "if you know more about..." I need to get that sort of response out of my vocabulary.

just for the record I don't necessary disagree with what you said, minus the implications for God belief.

Thanks for visiting from Debunking Christianity, Russ and David. Sorry for the impolite welcome from one of our former atheists. He can be irritable, as some of you already know from experience. (But thanks for mea culpa-ing at the end there, Meta.)


I can't quite tell from your replies, but did either of you try to answer the questions I asked in my comment (here or at the DebunX article?--there appears to be no answer to it there yet, btw, that I can see.)

To repeat the questions from my comment: "would any of our visiting sceptics care to weigh in on which kind of shared ethical behaviors would tend to imply to you that, deep down, evangelical Christians are really just as atheistic as atheists?"

Or, to give the slightly more detailed version from my comment at the DebunX article: "which kind of shared moral behaviors would other atheists expect Mr. Lobdell to be talking about? (Or, if you happen to know which kind he's talking about, but disagree with him as to the kind that would count as evidence for his position, which kind of shared moral behaviors, if any, would you find to weigh more instead, toward an expectation that those who share in doing that kind of moral behavior disbelieve in God deep down?)"


I did see your comment there, Russ, where "Atheists and evangelicals conduct themselves similarly in similar situations because they share an evolved suite of behavioral and emotional responses to their understanding of the likely consequences of their own and others' behaviors"; by which you seemed to be talking about shared behaviors such as "love, kindness, compassion, caring, generosity, thoughtfulness, courage, and honesty, among other virtues". But you didn't seem to be saying that you accept these shared behaviors as evidence that evangelicals and atheists are deep down both quite atheistic in their beliefs. Ditto for similar comments here about shared ethical agreements.

I did notice where you and David tagged evangelicals for doing and believing things you disagreed with ethically, but that could hardly be considered shared behaviors (or beliefs); which therefore (tautologically) couldn't count as shared-behavior evidence of anything, including that both groups deep down are atheistic in their beliefs.


It certainly isn't necessary to try to answer the questions, and I don't mind if you'd rather be discussing something else in regard to Mr Lobdell's article (and JD's comments on it). But neither did I want to miss an attempt at answering them, either, among the things you were both writing about; and then ignore continuing the discussion with you after inviting you here.

So in case I accidentally missed discussion along that line, I thought I should ask. {s!}


(Not that there aren't numerous other things worth discussing in your comments so far; but I'm a little busy elsewhere so I'm trying to keep my side of things topically focused.)

JRP


To repeat the questions from my comment: "would any of our visiting sceptics care to weigh in on which kind of shared ethical behaviors would tend to imply to you that, deep down, evangelical Christians are really just as atheistic as atheists?"


I don't share the opinion that evangelical christians are closet atheist.

The whole idea seems implausible to me. Little more than a rhetorical turning of the tables in response to the claim frequently made by christian apologists that there are no real atheists---that they know in there heart there is a god and they're just in denial.

Both positions are completely unfounded. Christians really believe in christianity. Atheists really don't believe in God. Period.

This comment has been removed by the author.

Vox Day answers Barna here http://irrationalatheist.com/downloads.html and presents convincing data that atheism leads to social decay - reinforcing the common sense belief.

Chapter 1 deals with it.

Use of Content

The contents of this blog may be reproduced or forwarded via e-mail without change and in its entirety for non-commercial purposes without prior permission from the Christian CADRE provided that the copyright information is included. We would appreciate notification of the use of our content. Please e-mail us at christiancadre@yahoo.com.