I, and many other atheists, have pointed out to theists that they are atheists too. They simply don’t believe in other gods, often for reasons just like I do: there is no evidence. They often get upset by this revelation, since it neuters their common attacks on atheists e.g. atheists are those scary communists, etc.
Nothing much new here. I’m just writing responses to various theist since I am desperately bored at work. A month’s shutdown is wearying. There are some fun memes at the end if you want to just scroll down.
Now, unsurprisingly, the Chrisitans who put up this bit don’t allow comments on their website. As usual, they don’t want anyone actually thinking about what they claim is true and definitely don’t want anyone to think that someone can show them wrong. (Dave has put up a response to this post that you can read here where I put it in the comments, since he was too afraid of posting it here as a comment and having to deal with responses. He certainly is concerned by how I wrote and manages not to refute my points: https://clubschadenfreude.com/2022/04/05/not-so-polite-dinner-conversation-christians-are-atheists-too/#comment-25327 )
Dave Williams, the Christian making the claims starts with this baseless bit of nonsense “Now, belief in the one true God can only come through revelation as he speaks to you, reveals his true character and causes you to see your need for him.” Well poof goes free will then. But, as I know very well, Christians don’t agree whether free will or predestination is a thing and neither side can show their nonsense to the right answer.
This assumption has nothing to support it. It assumes that there is only one god, and that Dave’s version is it, as well as that this god talks to anyone. We can see that claim as being rather doubtful since this god supposedly talks to every Christian per their own claims, and funny how this god gives entirely contradictory information to its “chosen”. For all of Dave’s claims of “serious logical missteps” he’s already made a few.
Dave’s claim is that there simply has to be a right version of Christianity. There does not. I would make the educated guess that Dave would not agree that there must be a right version of Islam, though his argument “that there are many different options does not take away from the potential truth of one” would make Islam with just as much chance of being true as his version of Christianity. Dave also gets rather confused trying to claim that atheists would not want our conclusion that there are not gods set along side the many claims of theists for their gods. Since he also claims that there are no gods, in each individual case, other than his god, he has his own no god option. How is that to be put alongside his god option?
As usual, the theist has little idea about how logic works. He does indeed need to show that other gods don’t exist and his does, and proceeds to offer illogical and indeed baseless claims as truth.
He promptly defines his god as the only possible definition of a god. He claims a binary choice when there is none. This is a false dichotomy fallacy e.g. “there being a god or there not being a god.” There could be many gods, there could be two. They could work in gestalt, they could each have a function in a process, and on and on. There is nothing to show that his god is the only god. That is his baseless premise and thus makes any conclusion from it worthless.
Dave claims “Now, even at this stage we are not putting all the god options in competition with each other.” He then promptly says “The discussion is now between people who do believe in God’s existence. The priority now is to make sure that we are talking about the true and living god. The aim is to make sure we know him correctly and worship him properly.”
hmm, where did that other possibility go, that there are no god or gods or that there are multiple gods? Oh yes, Dave assumes there is a god required. He also tries to claim that polytheism isn’t really putting up their pantheon against a single god. Really? Then why the difference in terms? These gods are indeed rivals to Dave’s god in their ontological status. He tries to pretend they aren’t, by insisting that his god alone deserves worship, but he gives no reason why this should be he case. There may indeed be considered a vague power over these pantheons, but again, why does only Dave’s god deserve worship?
Dave claims then that this somehow “boils down into one question ““Do you believe in an eternal, personal, loving God who created the World, continues to sustain it?”” and then claims that the only possible answer is that one must. Funny how that works.
All of this doesn’t end up leading to Dave’s god, no matter how hard he hopes it does so he can be validated. We still have other gods possible, and there is no problem with worshiping something, no matter if it is “distant and unknowable”. Dave’s claim “Then, we have in fact denied the eternal and personal God and in practice chosen the atheist option.” Aka “If you don’t believe in my god, then you are an atheist” Is entirely false.
The point that Christians are also atheists and disbelieve in other gods, therefore being atheist towards them, still stands. I could wish that the term “pan-atheist” would be accepted for those of us who disbelieve in all gods, but that hasn’t happened yet. So we are stuck with atheism potentially meaning two things, the lack of belief in a god or gods, and the lack of belief in all of them.
49 thoughts on “Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – Christians are atheists too”
I have adopted a different approach to this never-ending question and whenever this argument comes up, I agree with them that their God does in fact exist because he actually lives in their heads. It is my view that God and the Devil are really each person’s projections of their own concept of good and evil. They talk to their Gods as if they are external beings but in reality, they are really speaking to themselves, arguing with themselves and bouncing off their most innermost thoughts with themselves. This is the only explanation I can come up with as to why each person’s God has different views as to what is right and what is wrong and their particular God’s concept of right and wrong matches that of their own. That is because, it is their own! This response throws them completely off their usual game since I am agreeing that their God does exist, the only difference is where exactly does he exist.
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agreed. most, if not all theists, make up their god/gods in their own image.
I would contest the claim that this god “exists” in people’s heads. The concept of this god exists, not the god itself, but I’m just being a pedantic pain at the moment 🙂
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So I think panatheist actually sounds cool. And how do you get a new name for something to happen? You start calling yourself it! 🙂
On another note, I … don’t disbelieve in the possible existence of all gods anyone has worshiped. I just don’t know most of them as I know Jesus, and I don’t give any of them the same … adoration. That said, I not only accept the possible existence of many that I do not know, I have something of a relationship … and respect … for one or two gods. And as for my …. I no longer want to call it ‘Christianity’ (honestly, I’ve decided ‘Christ’ is a rather poor title) … it is something like this: I believe that fundamental reality is good. I believe that, before all and within all, for all and beyond all, Love is: and love has the final triumph. I believe that Love is ultimate, and that there is One who is with us in all things: the most ecstatic, incommunicable moments of joy: the loneliest, bitterest, forsaken grief: every guilt and shame, the very guilt and shame, the very grief and pain and loneliness, that each one of us has felt, He feels: our suffering, and also our joy, always with us, within us, for us.
I, like many others, was rather taught that this meant I had to deny the existence of gods. But I’ve realized I don’t. I don’t have to believe this means there are no faeries or lightning gods or spirits living in the volcano. And not only do I not believe this means I have to disbelieve in these things, I am actually fairly confident of the existence of some things of more or less that nature, and I would never be fool enough to say that anything I have no personal experience of can not possibly exist, and I am quite open to the existence of many more.
I have been calling myself a pan-atheist when I call out theists on their claims. They don’t like it since it further underlines that they are indeed atheists.
Raina, again it seems that you are doing what most theists do, invent a religion in your own image. You’ve invented a way to convince yourself that you have some magical knowledge, like every other theist. This is nothing new.
You’ve apparently had previous experience with Raina. Have they always produced unfocused meanderings?
She often does. She is nice, but she strikes me as amazingly naive.
My primary point was that it’s not necessary to believe that all beliefs or gods that are not mine are false. ‘Magical knowledge’ is a different conversation.
Raina, most if not all religions claim that they are unique and that no other religion is valid; especially Christianity and its god/savior. You again simply make up things.
Fine. I’m no longer calling what I believe ‘Christianity.’ Personally, I think Organized Religion is – or at least tends to be – evil. I don’t think personal religion is evil. What I’m saying is that a lot of people claim that if I believe certain things, I must also hold to other claims, but I don’t buy that. And personal religions don’t have to claim that no other religion is valid. They’re not distinguished from the beliefs – whatever beliefs the person who holds them considers to be religious – of the person who holds them. I don’t ascribe to any Organized Religion. I do have beliefs that a lot of people would consider religious and-or spiritual. I do not hold the belief that all religious and-or spiritual experiences that are not mine, or beliefs and understandings that are not mine, are therefore invalid and false.
yes, you’ve already said all of this. It’s nicer than most but no different at its base.
It is? I’m not quite clear on this, but are you saying that personal belief in spiritual realities is, at its base, the same thing as ascribing to an organized system of dogma that attempts to crush everything into its outlook and condemns all who don’t walk its road?
yes, I’m saying that. Every theist has what they claim as “personal belief in spiritual realities”. You all have your dogma. You claim others are wrong; they claim you are wrong.
I got busy with a lot of things hence the late reply.
Then you have missed what is precisely my point, which is that it is possible to be a theist without claiming that others are wrong. It is possible to have personal spiritual beliefs without believing that everyone’s else’s personal spiritual beliefs or experiences are wrong or invalid whenever they differ from one’s own.
No problem, everyone has better things to do than post about this nonsense.
You have claimed others are wrong, Raina. So you can’t even match your claim.
” Personally, I think Organized Religion is – or at least tends to be – evil.”
quite the strong opinion that other people are wrong.
Oh, can you not even understand context and nuance? In my experience, Organized Religion tends towards the oppression of those who don’t conform to the organized religion! That’s what I think is evil, and it’s no different from thinking that — that murdering your neighbor because you don’t like the color of his shirt is wrong!
plenty of people have no problem with organized religion. are they evil or wrong?
You’re not evil or wrong because you haven’t had a problem with something.
And I wouldn’t even say all participants in an organised religion are wrong (and certainly not all are evil).
My problem with ‘organised religion’ isn’t someone – anyone’s – spiritual or religious beliefs: it’s the tendency to attempt to force those beliefs on other people, with varying degrees of violence and intolerable behavior. Not to share those beliefs. To force them. That’s my problem with ‘organised religion.’
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Raina, those people in those “organized religions” want to force their beleives on others. an “organizsation” can’t do anything; people do.
I know that. But I don’t think that all – probably not half – the people who see themselves as part of an ‘organised religion’ want to force their beliefs on others.
you are indeed naive.
There is enough evil in the world. I prefer to look for good or the possibility of good than for evil or the possibility of evil.
“There is enough evil in the world. I prefer to look for good or the possibility of good than for evil or the possibility of evil.”
That is all well and good, and if you pretend there is none, you can’t stand against it.
you’ve already looked for evil and found it.
‘Share’ ‘force’ and ‘pester’ but perhaps we could include another option ‘persuade’ and then it depends on the motive as to why do they want persuade? Do they want power over individuals? money? Or do they want people to enjoy and be the recipients of the benefits of salvation?
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Bibledog, you are a Christian. Christians can’t agree on what anyone needs to do to be saved, so you need to explain which version is the “right” one, assuming there is a “right” one. I am guessing you, like Alexander, can’t do what the bible promises every true follower of Jesus Christ can do, so you are all apparently just making up things.
The reason I have observed why Christians feel the need to make false claims and try to convert others is that they crave external validation, to be told they are “right”. This is why we get the nonsense from both Alex and Elizabeth that everyone simply must agree with their claims. they must deny reality because they cannot conceive of someone not giving them what they want.
People disagreeing with each other doesn’t necessarily mean something isn’t true. Neither does disagreement mean that a particular option is not truly available. Let’s take an example from what you might perceive as a fantasy, fairytale book,
“Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” So they said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ’ Acts 16:30-31 This option of believing in Jesus, is clear. ~However the distinction is not everyone subscribes to it. People were doubting the facts and message about Jesus even when Jesus was alive and preaching. That’s nothing new. That’s just one of the minor reasons why Jesus ended up on the cross. But of course its pointless me saying this because not everyone believes Jesus was crucified. In the words of one atheist ….’If Jesus was indeed a real person,which is still debatable,and if this Jesus guy was indeed crucified,which is also debatable,then the most plausible explanation for his”resurrection”was that he was mistakenly thought to be dead when he was actually still alive. This”mistaken death”scenario was not uncommon,especially in ancient times.
The bottom line here is that most atheists don’t give a rat’s patuti about Jesus!’ https://www.quora.com/What-do-most-atheists-think-happened-to-Jesus-after-his-death-Is-there-a-plausible-explanation-that-does-not-involve-resurrection
So it’s logical to me why atheists don’t believe. But for me, I’ve taken the option to believe the gospel narrative that, ‘Jesus was buried that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures 1 Corinthians 15;4. (not according to logic or according to reason) Rather I accept the gospel narrative which I appreciate not everyone can do.. Anyway thanks for allowing me to comment etc and allowing me to remain alive in the lion’s den 🙂
You are correct that people disagreeing with each other doesn’t mean something isn’t true. Your problem is that Chrsitians disagree, contradict each other *and* have no evidence their claims are true at all. We see no inkling of any “truth” at all. Now why is that, BD? If your god supposedly wants everyone to come to it, why is that so very hard?
Yep, let’s indeed take a look at what your set of myths says. Unfortunately for you, there are many different claims of what one must do to be saved through out the bible. Acts 16 does have the claim that belief is all that is needed. Then we have Jesus presented as having said that belief and works are needed, Matthew 25. Jesus claims that it is by giving up all you have and following him, Matthew 19. Then Jesus has that the only way to be saved is by this god choosing you to allow you to accept it, Matthew 13, says this again in John 15 and Paul repeats that in Romans 9. Paul also says that the only way women will be saved is by childbirth, 1 Timothy 2.
So, the “option” isn’t clear at all, and there is nothing to show that any of the above “options” exist at all.
Yep, people were doubnting and debating and making claims of absolute knowledge about what Jesus/God wants 2000+ years ago and you are all doing so now, splintering and splintering again. There is nothing to show that Jesus was alive or preaching so again, you have nothing more than a myth.
As for why jesus supposedly ended on a cross, that was because this god wanted that, needing a blood sacrifice by torture to make itself happy.
Most atheists don’t care about your myths. what we do care about it is the lies and attempts to force your baseless nonsense on others, trying to create a theocracy. Of course, there would be an immediate civil war between Chrsitians since you all don’t agree on who has the right version.
Yep, you’ve taken one baseless option of many, just like every other christian and theist. And per your very own bible says that this god prevents peole from having any option at all. You are alive in the lion’s den and you are exposed as just one more human being who has nothing more than a baseless opinion.
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Ok thanks for your thoughts. What would you say then is credible evidence that you want to see?
Ah, the old “thank you for your thoughts” response from a Christain who can’t refute anything I have said and tries to take refuge in hoping no one will notice him trying to pretend that I’ve said nothing that has shown his claims to be wrong. I always enjoy when you ignore the questions I’ve asked you. Why did you choose to do that, BD? why no answer for: “We see no inkling of any “truth” at all. Now why is that, BD? If your god supposedly wants everyone to come to it, why is that so very hard?” Why is it that your bible doesn’t agree with your claims of how salvation works?
you ask what credible evidence I would accept for your claims. Well, BD, I ask you back, what would *you* accept as credible evidence to support the claims of other theists, including Christians who don’t agree with your version?
The bible is a set of claims. for example many claims are made that this god has caused certain events to happen. I would need evidence that those events did happen. Where is the evidence for 600,000+ humans leaving Egypt at one time? Despite the bible giving the supposed route, and Christians and Jews desperately looking for 2000+ years, not one bit of evidence has been found. Not one latrine, not one trashpit. No one noticed that Egypt lost its army, its food production adn a good part of its population, per those “plagues”.
The same things are needed for the claims surrounding your supposed messiah. Per the bible, this fellow was followed by a literal Roman legion’s worth of men around Roman-occupied Palestine. No one noticed. The dead were suposedly walking around during a passover in Roman-occupied Jerusalem. No one noticed.
Add this to the fact that you can’t do what your supposed messiah promised, and it seems that your claims are quite false. I’ll be waiting for your evidence to support your claims, if you have any.
Why does BD mean?
“Why does BD mean?”
oh my. B-ible D-og. Get it?
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I wouldn’t have a clue how to provide the evidence you’ve asked for. I guess you have me there.
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“I wouldn’t have a clue how to provide the evidence you’ve asked for. I guess you have me there.”
that’s because there is none. Archaeology could provide the evidence if there were any.
And yes, I have you there and your religion is baseless nonsense.
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I appreciate this addition of nuance. You’re absolutely right: that’s a valid thing to discuss, and the motive absolutely matters. And you mention two possible motives – of which the first is to my mind clearly wrong (& I think in some ways on a level with ‘force’ – ‘force’ is what comes of the mindset in situations where the religion in question is allied with or constitutes the secular power, such as the Middle Ages, & more gentle ‘persuasion’ occurs when that is infeasible, though I’m sure there are a lot more shades. The other – the other is complicated, and admits of so many approaches. Sometimes, it can be very self-righteous, which is not at all on the level of power-hunger, but is distasteful. Sometimes, it can appear self-righteous, but that appearance has more to do with the environment the person came to their beliefs in than with their intentions – sometimes, it’s motivated by simple excitement to share a perceived good. And it’s very easy even for good-intentioned people who are trying to be accepting to think that what’s right for us and what works for us is how it is for other people, too.
I, for my part, do not aspire to persuade anyone to hold my beliefs. I am motivated by that simple excitement to share what I have found to be a good, but I think persuasion as such is not the right approach. I don’t aim to convince you or anyone else of what I have found. I aim to present it in such a fashion that you have the option to look more deeply. I don’t think all people’s approaches should be mine: but I do want my approach to be visible as distinct from the mess that is pastors & such-like exploiting religion & religious impulses in order to attain power, prestige, money, whatever it is (the psychology behind such behavior is a separate question), and the claim that’s often associated with religious or spiritual beliefs that “__’s way is the only way.” And that’s part of why I do not aim to actively persuade: if what my path draws you, I invite you to explore it (& doubtless, there will be many a place where our paths part, & rightly so), but I do not think my path is meant for all people.
So, I guess I might say I do aim to persuade: not that you should believe as I do, but that it is possible to be religious/spiritual, while accepting the differences of others as valid.
I hear what you’re saying Raina. Im sure we could discuss these things indefinitely and we might be able to many nuances to the debate. Not just force, persuade, pester, share etc but what about ‘deceive people into all sorts of things. Not just deceive out of ignorance but ‘deliberately deceive’ anyway thanks for allowing my comments and the thoughts you’ve shared. Have a good day. 🙂
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I have a question Raina, you say that you want to present the option to look at your claims more deeply. If we do so, and we find them to be factually wrong, are you beholden to acknowledge that and change *your* mind?
In that you have claimed that other theist are wrong and you are right, it seems that you are just as guilty of saying “my way is the only way”.
I think that my claims that other theists are wrong have been pretty limited to statements like the following: they are wrong to the degree that they insist that everyone should follow their path.
“I think that my claims that other theists are wrong have been pretty limited to statements like the following: they are wrong to the degree that they insist that everyone should follow their path.”
Raina, here’s a question: are theists who think they must/should force religion on others per the tenets of the religion which claims that anyone who doesn’t believe will be tortured forever, wrong?
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I have one answer to such a supposition, & it’s Tara-lin’s answer to Alis: such a thing, whether human or not, corporeal or incorporeal, is a tyrant & deserves to be defied.
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“I have one answer to such a supposition, & it’s Tara-lin’s answer to Alis: such a thing, whether human or not, corporeal or incorporeal, is a tyrant & deserves to be defied.”
which is in response to this “Raina, here’s a question: are theists who think they must/should force religion on others per the tenets of the religion which claims that anyone who doesn’t believe will be tortured forever, wrong?” that I asked when you claimed this repeatedly “it is possible to be a theist without claiming that others are wrong.”
so other Christians are wrong in what they believe, per you.
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LOVE the memes!!
thanks. one of my favorites is the raven 🙂
I love that last meme.
If you could explain to the dingbats what a fallacy is, that there are very many of them, and why you should not use them, they’d have nothing left that would keep their heads from collapsing.
Their entire lives are lived on fallacies. There are “news” organizations based on the use/misuse of fallacies. There are huge subsections of society that exist on fallacies and fallacies alone. I guess they occaisionally eat, but the vast majority of their thought processes, beyond the mundane day to day living, are fallacy based.
…and they ain’t got a clue.
It’s a good thing I wasn’t eating or drinking when I saw the picture of Proselytizing Asatru Raven – I was laughing so hard that I couldn’t breathe for a few seconds. 😀
Now to business…
…Soo, Mr. Williams, if people can only believe if and when your god makes it happen through “revelation,” why even bother with religions and churches and all that crap?
I was hoping you’d like that one 😀
Raina is getting very close to my stance on believers, which is, they should believe whatever they want as long as they don’t imagine that it applies to anyone else. I also like their concept of “personal religion.” Keep going, Raina. Keep evolving.
unfortunately, it is rare that a theist doesn’t think their claims be followed by everyone else since it is the “truth”. Humans do love to have others agree with them.
Unsurprisingly, Dave has put a response to my post on his website, unwilling to have it here to be responded to and as always having no comments open on his website. Here it is in all of its “glory”. He certainly concerns himself with how I wrote and is unable to refute my points.
“The other day I reshared this blog post from the old faithroots.net site. I reshared it in relation to a discussion that had come up on a friend’s Facebook page. Well, over the years since I first started Faithroots on the previous site, I’ve had an atheist blogger occasionally interact with what I write. I had a strong suspicion that they would react to this article -and lo and behold, within not too long a timeframe, this article was up on their website. My primary aim in producing material is not to get into debates and arguments but I am happy to engage with people when they respond. So, here’s a little response to them.
They start not by engaging the subject matter in hand but with a bit of a personal attack.
Now, unsurprisingly, the Chrisitans who put up this bit don’t allow comments on their website. As usual, they don’t want anyone actually thinking about what they claim is true and definitely don’t want anyone to think that someone can show them wrong. “
This is a well-known tactic in argument, although it’s not really considered within the spirit of debate. It’s a form of ad-hominem attack, play the person instead of the ball. Here. the interlocuter claims to be able to assess the intellect, character and motives of the other person.
However, let’s just address the complaint so we can set it to one side. The basic complaint here is that I’ve not set up my website in the manner that “Club” would like me to. To be honest, that’s not really her business. There are all manner of online sites, platforms and styles of online engagement and writing, just as there are different ways of engaging offline. I may speak at an event where one or more speakers are listened to with or without questions at the end. I may also choose to take part in a debate with speeches first and then interaction or I may participate in a panel discussion. Each have their place.
Online, I have chosen not to open up comments as a default feature on my site. That’s my prerogative. I choose to run the site primarily as a vehicle for me to write, or to speak because there seem to be people out there who find some of what I produce useful. There are forums available with moderators, for example on Reddit where people are given space to debate and argue to their hearts content. My priority is not to moderate another option for that. However, this does not mean that I “don’t want anyone actually thinking” or to prevent people from responding. There are plenty of ways in which people can respond – indeed Club has used one. She has written her own article in response. I guess that’s my point. I’d rather someone took the same time I have done to work through the issue rather than simply sticking in an off the cuff comment. Now that she has responded, you can see a link to her response at the bottom of the original article. She has hardly been censored.
Club then goes on to say:
Dave Williams, the Christian making the claims starts with this baseless bit of nonsense “Now, belief in the one true God can only come through revelation as he speaks to you, reveals his true character and causes you to see your need for him.” Well poof goes free will then. But, as I know very well, Christians don’t agree whether free will or predestination is a thing and neither side can show their nonsense to the right answer.”
Well, that claim may or may not be baseless nonsense (obviously I think not) but if it is, then not on the basis of Club’s point here. This is partly because she has misunderstood the nature of the point made (a theme that continues through her article). There is a discussion to be had about free-will and predestination, one I’ve written plenty on in the past -and where I prioritise predestination anyway. However, the quote in question isn’t to do with that debate but rather is to do with revelation and knowledge. Club doesn’t agree with the premise that a personal, eternal, all powerful God exists but she should be able to see that within that worldview then it is not nonsense but the legitimate implication of belief in a personal God that faith in him will be dependent on revelation. How do I know anything about you? How do you know anything about me? Well, to truly know me you are dependent on my self-disclosure. Without that you risk everything that goes with making assumptions about me, my personality and my motives -as ably demonstrated by Club in her assumptions about why I don’t include comments.
There’s then a few more preliminaries that still don’t have much to do with the point of the original article. For example, am I insisting that there is a right version of Christianity and would it be problematic then if I wasn’t bothered about a right version of Islam? Well, whilst my original article wasn’t particularly to do with that -the general principle there, namely that the presence of disagreement and multiple options doesn’t undermine the possibility that one option is true. So, I have no problem with someone taking time to investigate the claims of Islam against Christianity. Indeed, the original article talks about how we set claims alongside each other.
Furthermore, it remains possible to talk objectively about a “right version of Islam.” This is important for anyone wanting to get to understand what Muslims believe and interact with them. This is important if we are to debate with them fairly and not set up paper tigers to fight. If I wanted to critique Islam then I would not want to attack any random, minority viewpoint as representative of the religion I would want to engage with arguments that are faithful to the original Islamic texts and have been accepted as such by the bulk of Muslims throughout history and to this day.
Now, it is possible to do the same with Christianity. There may be diversity of opinions on a variety of issues and there may from time to time be people who pop up with quirky interpretations. However, there has been throughout history a consistent, majority understanding of what it means to be faithful to Christianity in terms of what the Bible says about who God is, who we are, where we have come from and where we are headed. This is represented by the creeds which sum that up.
But I also believe that Christianity in terms of belief in the Triune Creator God and specifically in Jesus Christ and his death and resurrection on our behalf is not only the true and faithful representation of Christianity but that it is The Truth about us and God. Now, my short article was not an attempt to settle all of that in one go, rather it focused on one very specific claim.
Just to remind you what that issue was. It was that if there are around 3000 gods out there, then Christians choose not to believe in 2999 meaning that atheists just believe in one less. Fascinatingly, Club suggests that in effect this makes Christians kind of atheists too -which was one of the original accusations made against the early believers!
Club then goes on to say:
He promptly defines his god as the only possible definition of a god. He claims a binary choice when there is none. This is a false dichotomy fallacy e.g. “there being a god or there not being a god.”
Now, just to help her out here. Yes, it is possible to set up false dichotomies. However, once again just because some dichotomies are false doesn’t mean that all dichotomies are (are you spotting a theme yet). So, what I’m doing in the article is not a logical fallacy but rather an example of how when seeking to assess things through logical we work through an ordered process -a series of true/false statements if you like. We categorise and sort in order to help us make decisions. This is something we find ourselves doing in many aspects of life.
As for whether or not I’m treating my “god as the only possible definition of a god.” I think that’s kind of the point. You see, if the atheist says “but you just choose to reject one less god out of 300 to me?” Then it is important to check whether or not we are talking about the same kind of thing. I we comparing apples with apples. Are the same claims being made about these other gods that are being made about YHWH?
You see, when we talk about gods like Thor and Mars and the various gods of ancient Egypt them we are talking about supposed powerful beings that are able to do incredible deeds and seem to have authority over aspects of life but are however finite. This is important because Christians do not actually reject the existence of such beings. Christians believe in the existence of angels and demons. Fascinatingly, modern comic story writers get the distinction between the idea of an almighty creator God and supernatural beings and so have included “gods” like Thor and Loci into their superhero stories.
So, getting the definition right matters and a debate about God’s existence should in fact start with the very question “what do you mean by ‘God’?” Indeed, let’s be absolutely clear, no atheist is really that bothered about the possible existence of such beings. It doesn’t in anyway affect their worldview. If it turned out that Thor and Loki really did exist then would that cause them to rethink their atheism? Well, why would it. Atheism conceives of the possibility that we might potentially discover other forms of life within this Universe and that therefore they could conceivably have evolved to an advanced state in terms of intellect and power.
So Club misses the point when she says:
Then why the difference in terms? These gods are indeed rivals to Dave’s god in their ontological status. He tries to pretend they aren’t, by insisting that his god alone deserves worship, but he gives no reason why this should be the case.
It’s not that I’m trying to dismiss the ontological status and power of these other gods. I’m simply engaging with how those who believe(d) in them understood them. They did not and do not see those gods as rivals to the status of ultimate, infinite, absolute, uncreated originator. They see them as rivals for finite, territorial power. Indeed, that’s the humour of the Old Testament, Israel’s enemies thought that their gods could rival Yahweh on territorial/regional terms but they could not even do that. Even when they did, it was only by Yahweh’s permission and to fulfil his purposes.
The real question that matters for atheists and theists is not whether or not something else could exist but whether if it does then whether or not it command our loyal obedience and worship. Atheists and Christians agree that even should a being turn up calling itself Thor, carrying a hammer and displaying abilities such as advanced mind reading or even the ability to manipulate the weather that we still would not feel compelled to bow the knee to it. What really matters then is what we mean by “God” and then if a being worthy of that title does exist.
Now, as I explained in the article, when you look at what those religions and belief systems that do believe in a pantheon of gods believe in today and historically believed in then you discover that they too tended to believe in a higher power that might be considered truly divine. Indeed, it was this philosophy that led to the development of Gnosticism. The gods or spirits in most of these systems are really only intermediaries with the true spirit.
Often too, such systems tended to think of true divinity as distant, disinterested, unknowable, impersonal. That’s why I’ve argued persistently that throughout history it has really come down to a choice between two options when we are ask “Is there something out there from which we came and do we owe worship to it?” The choice is between the personal and the impersonal. And there’s the point. The structured argument leads us from the option of “God/No God” “personal/impersonal” to that discussion then about who is this God. Now, along the way, people will draw different conclusions. I would assume that Club left the conversation at the point where we disagreed on the “God/No God” option. It’s not controlling or arrogant to say that the conversation we are having will lead to a conclusive stage where those staying in it accept that there is a personal God and therefore want to talk more about who that God is.
Club doesn’t like my suggestion that if you go for options where God is distant, unknowable then you in practice choose the atheist option. She writes:
Dave’s claim “Then, we have in fact denied the eternal and personal God and in practice chosen the atheist option.” Aka “If you don’t believe in my god, then you are an atheist” Is entirely false.”
She seems to take every comment made by anyone else as a jibe. Yet not everything is. But again as a result she misses the point here which is there in those two words “in practice.” We sometimes talk about practical atheists and the point is that if you theoretically affirm the existence of God but act as though God isn’t involved, doesn’t speak, doesn’t love, doesn’t hear then there is very little to distinguish your day to day experience from that of an atheist.
Club’s article does have a little of the feel of something quickly dashed off. I do that myself sometimes. The risk though is that sometimes as a result, we can also be too hasty in our reading. It’s worth slowing down to read something you are about to disagree with in order to make sure that you have read them right and that you are about to disagree with what they actually have said not what you hoped or expected them to say.
Unsurprisingly, Dave claims he doesen’t put his baseless claims up on his blog for debate. He doesn’t want to debate what he claims, only insist that it is true. Unfortunately, nothing prevents me, or anyone else, to demonstrate that his claims fail.
I do wonder how it is a “personal attack” to note what he does and why he does it. He doesn’t allow comments. True. Why? He doesn’t want to debate. True. My primary aim in producing material is not to get into debates and arguments but I am happy to engage with people when they respond”
Both quite notable to the “spirit of the debate” since it establishes the stances of the fellow who supposedly doesn’t want to debate. Dave, if you don’t publish your baseless claims for debate, then why do you? This would be where you explain why to show me to be using an ad hominem. You also do need to look up the definition of said fallacy to know what it actually means.
All Dave offers is it’s somehow his “prerogative” to have his blog as it is, and that is quite true. It is my prerogative to point out how Christians operate, dependent on presenting a baseless claim as truth and implying no one would counter it. Then Dave tries to claim that it is the supposed “quality” of comment is his concern. “I guess that’s my point. I’d rather someone took the same time I have done to work through the issue rather than simply sticking in an off the cuff comment. “ This is rather similar to the “sophisticated theology” claim. It also doesn’t make much sense since as the blog owner, he has moderator control, so he can choose who to allow to post, if “oft the cuff comments” offend him.
There is no “misunderstanding” of the baseless claim ““Now, belief in the one true God can only come through revelation as he speaks to you, reveals his true character and causes you to see your need for him.”” It’s rather of direct importance to the claim that there is only one god, and the claim that Chrisitans aren’t atheists.
Dave, like most monotheists, insist that his god is the only “god”, which he defines to fit his version of his god. There is no legitimate implication from anything at all that his god exists. Per his very own bible, personal revelation isn’t required. No one is dependent on “self-disclosure” to “truly” know something/someone (that wiggle word truly does stick out since it gives an excuse for the theist to not need to produce evidence for his god). I can know quite a bit about Dave from his actions. I can also know quite a bit about this god as how it is describe and how it *fails* that description.
Dave’s article can be reduced to this:
“Now, belief in the one true God can only come through revelation as he speaks to you, reveals his true character and causes you to see your need for him.”
““Do you believe in an eternal, personal, loving God who created the World, continues to sustain it?” The true alternative to this is that whatever is eternal and higher or foundational must be impersonal, distant, unknowable. There is always only one choice between these two options. “
“As we have argued elsewhere. God clearly reveals himself to all as the eternal, loving, just, sovereign, personal God.”
it’s rather painfully obvious that this claim of Dave’s “it remains possible to talk objectively about a “right version of Islam.”” Is completely false as demonstrated by his own words above.
and this “However, there has been throughout history a consistent, majority understanding of what it means to be faithful to Christianity in terms of what the Bible says about who God is, who we are, where we have come from and where we are headed. This is represented by the creeds which sum that up.”
is also demonstrably false, since there there are dozens if not many many more versions of Christianity which all disagree about the above points.
So, we come back to are Christians atheists. They are, even to the point that do not believe in ech others’s versions of this god. Dave’s argument seems to be “there aren’t any other gods but mine so I can’t be an atheist”
He has not shown his false dichotomy to be true, but he does take time to explain what dichotomies are. His example is indeed a false dichotomy and can be seen in the context of his claim that only his god exists. Happily, he does admit that when he does say that he is indeed saying that only his god exists. He tries to claim others gods aren’t the “same kind of thing”, with no evidence at all.
Hmmm, are the same claims being made about this god as well as others? Yep, since most if not all theists, especially monotheists use the same arguments for their gods. Omnipotent? Check. Omniscient? Check. Creator? Check. Intelligent? Check? Personally involved? Check. Interfering in human events? Check. Demanding gold and other worldly goods? Check. Demanding sacrifices? Check. Demanding killing of humans? Check. Finite? Check, and the Christian god is quite finite, being ignorant and fallible. It takes the Christian to ignore their bible to invent a “infinite” god. Dave tries very hard to pretend that other gods are just minor beings like angels and demons, aka “they aren’t “really” gods”.
If Thor and Loki existed, quite a few of us would be happy since they are quite a bit better gods than this petty Christian one, with its lunacy of genocide. Dave is literally trying to change ontology for these beings so he can, again, claim that there is only one god, his. He insists that only he understands what worshippers of other gods “really” believed, and fails at that too. Amusingly, the OT has Dave’s god as being just as ignorant and territorial as any of the other gods. And poor Dave assumes that his god exiss, thus assuming that this god of his gave permission to the other gods “Even when they did, it was only by Yahweh’s permission and to fulfil his purposes.” He just can’t resist making more baseless claims.
Dave wants to claim tht the real question is if any being is worthy of being worshipped and being obeyed. His god fails in this just like any other god, but Dave has to hope not. Why would anyone be compelled to “bend a knee” to a impotent child killer like his god? Dave must claim that his god is worthy of worship/obedience because he is god because he is worthy of worship/obedience, etc the ol’ circular argument for god. His god is no more “true spirit” than any other god.
Dave also has to lie and claim I “left” the conversation after the “god/no god” part. I guess my page vanished when I wrote about the other. Or he’s just doing he accuses me of.
it isn’t just a suggestion from Dave that if one worships an impersonal god then one is an “atheist” but nice try to retcon. ““Then, we have in fact denied the eternal and personal God and in practice chosen the atheist option.”” Hmmm, that pesky word “have”.
Ah, and the final bit of poisoning the well. “Club’s article does have a little of the feel of something quickly dashed off.” Well, what can I say other than, thanks for the projection, Dave.