Fugitives from Fundamentalism

The Musings of Adult Missionary Kids (MKs) & Former Born-Again Believers

The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God.

Posted by Paulo on September 28, 2009

last_judgement_detail

1. The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good.
2. The LORD looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God.
3. They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one.

Psalm 14:1-3

Because I don’t believe in God, I am a fool, corrupt, filthy, and no good, eh?

It is precisely attitudes like these that make “atheist” a bad word. Even today I hesitate to call myself an atheist because of the negative connotation that this word carries among believers. In a discussion with co-workers once, I told them that I was an atheist. You could almost hear the wind sucked out of the room as they gasped with mouths wide opened.

Why Christians equate “atheist” with “immoralist” is beyond me. Most atheists I know are very moral, humane, good people. But no matter how moral we are, the Christian still sees us as fundamentally bad. If not outright bad, then certainly lost, and “blind” to “the Truth.”

Just because I don’t believe in God it doesn’t make me a bad person. I think for a long time I even saw myself as “bad” because of the way the believers saw me. I am not a fool, corrupt, nor filthy. I’m tired of being seen as a “bad person” and “lost” simply because my logic and reason won’t allow me to believe in fairy tales. As long as this attitude continues, there will never be peace on earth. Take that one to heart.

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39 Responses to “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God.”

  1. The Chaplain said

    I usually go with “agnostic non-theist”; I stole that label from Michael Shermer. The label of “atheist” definitely has a negative connotation in people’s minds. I imagine it is partially due to the success of the Christian argument that non-believers have no morals. Repetition is the weapon of choice for those who have no facts or evidence on their side, and they have done a good job of repeating that over and over to anyone who will listen (and those who don’t care to listen as well!).

    I think that Christian attitude towards non-believers, regardless of how often they repeat “but I’m just as deserving eternal torture as you,” is one of the main things that makes me dislike the vast majority of Christians. Christians that shut up and keep their negative thoughts to themselves are fine, but open your mouth to tell me what a miserable sinner I am and you’ve declared war. I add weapons to my arsenal on a daily basis, so go ahead and try me. Better yet, just talk about me behind my back to your “good” Christian friends: it will make you feel better about yourself (and how reasonable you are to believe in magic and ghosts), and it keeps me from having to hear your ignorance.

    • Charity said

      I suppose in a sense it is like declaring war when I tell some people I’m an atheist. Not because I’m throwing down the gauntlet, but because now something exists between us that will probably always be there.

      For some, atheist is synonymous with satanist. If there’s anything I’ve learned in life, it’s to be true to myself. Sometimes that means disclosing to people that I don’t agree with their take on life (the fairy tale version). When I told a couple of co-workers I’m an atheist, the reaction was very similar to what happened in Paulo’s situation. That stillness. Some of my co-workers have discussed atheists in very disparaging terms in front of me. I’m still here though. And we work together and get along. I do believe in standing up for myself, and my friends, if the occasion arises. Everyone has weapons. Maybe it’s about how and when and why we choose to use them?

      I’m also tired of being seen as a bad person. I’m not immoral, nor are most atheists. But neither are most fundamentalists. I think the key is in how we experience life, not the language we use. There will be no peace on earth as long as both sides push. I think it’s possible there may never be peace on earth. A major shift would have to occur, in how we humans perceive and treat each other.

      • Jerry said

        “I’m also tired of being seen as a bad person. I’m not immoral, nor are most atheists. But neither are most fundamentalists.”

        Me too. It reminds me of this notion of coming out of the closet as an atheist. In fact, I’m more reluctant to admit that I’m an atheist than to admit that I’m gay. Maybe it’s just because I’ve dealt with the latter for longer, but it also could have something to do with the way atheists are perceived by many, esp. by fundamentalists/evangelicals. Most of the atheists I have known have kept their views to themselves, but have also been very principled, ethical people, in general. I think my atheism forces me to think through ethical issues for myself and come to conclusions without having it all spelled out for me by some preacher or Christian evangelical. Maybe people gasp because atheists dare to think freely and dare to say that there is no God, which to some might be the ultimate in disobedience.

  2. Sarge said

    I play for church services and hear it all the time. There is a bumper sticker that carries the statement: “The fool hath said…” with the added spice: “The wise man says it out loud”.

    Most people don’t believe that I’m an atheist even when I tell them. When they find out it’s true they are distressed. Some get angry that they’d found my company worthwhile, I’d “fooled” them, I guess.

    • The Chaplain said

      Haha! You’d fooled them, eh? I’m encountered similar reactions. Or, people will say the equivalent of, “It’s such a pity that you are not a Christian, because you are so gifted and talented. You should be using those gifts to glorify the one who gave them to you.” I either translate it as, “I like you a lot, but you’re not being a Christian means your whole life is a waste,” or, when I’m not wanting to donate my brain power to the interpretation of the statement I abbreviate it, “You rock, your life is meaningless, burn in hell.”

      • Sarge said

        I get that, too, and a lot of people accuse me of being a “closet christian” (!!??)because I don’t fit the culturally approved template of atheism.

        Some of the youngsters in our civil war reenactment group have had to learn lessons of self control. I direct a band, and we often play for church services (as did regimental bands of the period) during the events. Most of these are very fundamentalist, or at least “conservative”.

        Every now and again we have one of the preachers tell people in our group that it is quite evident that they are with “godly people” and should look to me as an exemplar of what a christian should be.

        Now they usually make it fifty feet before they bray with laughter.

  3. JN said

    You could probably make a decent argument that even though the fool in this psalm was a wicked non-believer in the God of Israel, it doesn’t necessarily means that all non-believers are wicked fools.

    I guess it depends how you read it. Was David making a universal statement here, or was he referring to a more specific group of people? It sounds to me like it’s a reaction to the wickedness around him. I doubt any of the folks were atheists.

    The church is probably the last group that should be going around calling people fools, but I guess the teaching about removing the plank out of one’s own eye doesn’t apply to everything…

    • Paulo said

      It doesn’t really matter what “David” meant, what matters is what preachers I’ve heard my whole life say about people who reject God and the sincere attitude of many believers that if you don’t believe in God, no matter what you do, deep down you’re still lost and a fool.

      • JN said

        This isn’t a touchy subject for you, is it?

        • The Chaplain said

          I think both of you are making valid points. JN, you obviously do not share many of the mainstream American evangelical interpretations of various passages in the Bible. I think interpretation is always to blame, since a text can be made to say anything at all (take it from a professional). Paulo, I also agree with your point, and I think it is entirely alright to generalize about the Evangelical interpretations we grew up with. In many ways, the whole Christian response that “well, that’s not what I believe as a Christian,” is a sorry excuse for the negativity and hatred for the “other” that is inherent to the Evangelical Christianity we grew up with. It is so obvious, I don’t even see how that could up for debate. That view may not exist for JN, a remarkably rare Christian (I think his very presence on this website is evidence of that), but I don’t think it is indicative of a trend towards Christians having a less negative view of atheists. The Bible has passages that are explicitly anti anything other than belief in Yahweh and Jesus. They are so explicit that there is no wiggle room for JN’s interpretive work.

        • JN said

          Believe it or not, I was actually siding with Paulo in my original response. The “you” in that first sentence was really meant as applying to Paulo, not a figurative “you.” But like all text, my post is subject to interpretation (for better or for worse).

          • Charity said

            What’s interesting is that almost all of communication is done non-verbally when taking place in person (at least that’s what the research indicates).

        • Paulo said

          Well, JN, I wasn’t quite sure what you meant by your question (I suppose we could all use emoticons to clarify our tone, but I don’t do emoticons) but I will answer in the way I read it: Yes, this is a bit of a touchy subject for me, because it hits so close to home (most of my family are still Christians) This attitude that “if you don’t believe in God you are wrong” is something that has been so pervasive in my life. Nowadays it’s not so overt (my family carefully steers away from religious conversation when I’m around them), but it’s still something I know is there and will fundamentally be there. And it sucks. It sucks having to live with the thought that no matter what I do, I will never be “right” in my family’s eyes because I don’t believe in God and I don’t accept Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. The funny part is, from my perspective, there is nothing to worry about, but to my family, there is: it’s a matter of eternal life or damnation.

        • JN said

          I know what you mean. I bet you get people ‘speaking truth’ around you all the time, hoping you’ll latch on some day and return to your old beliefs. My family has dealt with this a bit. A lot of things are shuffled under the rug, and everyone dances around pretending nothing is there.

  4. The Chaplain said

    And later when I am not so busy, and if I don’t forget, I’ll give you an example of one of those passages.

    • Charity said

      “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” John 14:6 (KJV)

      I memorized this one as a 3-year-old.

    • Paulo said

      15. And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.
      16. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.
      Mark 16:15-16

      He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.
      John 3:36

      • The Chaplain said

        I was secretly hoping someone else would post a few. 🙂

        • Paulo said

          I got mad verses…

        • Charity said

          This site trips me up. Hell is real. The Bible says so, and if the Bible tells us so, then it must be true!

          http://www.sounddoctrine.com/fifty.htm

          • Charity said

            Illustrates why there is justification for getting angry (that link with verses on hell). If someone thinks you deserve this, but also tells you all about how much Jesus really loves you and doesn’t want to send you to hell, but must… there has got to be some cognitive dissonance going on, or some really fancy mental footwork and philosophizing. And of course, there is the emotional component which shouldn’t be discounted.

            At some point in my life I lost a lot of anger I used to have over stuff like this… I guess I got to a place where I accepted it was part of life, that people are judgmental, that human created religion supports this human tendency to focus on differences, versus similarities (among the in-group of humanity). A lot of research has also been done on in-group/out-group identity formation and the resulting judgments that stem from group identification. I think I see through much of this. That doesn’t mean I don’t have my own values or identify more with some group values than others (for instance, in politics). Maybe because I’ve always felt outside while inside of every group I’ve ever been a part of I can sorta experience that outsider feeling of what the other people who don’t agree are feeling. Maybe because I’ve counseled a lot of people I am able to see from different perspectives. Anyway, I’ve lost a lot of that angry emotional response I used to have toward Christians and people in general. Anger seems generally to be a societal sickness. A way of being.

            When a person says they like or accept a person the way they are, despite differences, it’s a perspective. As a result of my personal perspective, I feel sad at times, but don’t typically work up much anger, or at least not for long. When I’m emotional, it’s usually sadness over the way life is, how people are. I can be stoic about some things, but when it comes to human suffering I am a soft-hearted “fool.” It hampers my ability to make logical decisions sometimes. I’m not wishy-washy and actually pretty level-headed. But everyone changes. It helps to use logic and reason in understanding myself and others, while taking into consideration feelings are a part of being human and also affect decision making. Maybe, in the end, it’s about being honest with yourself, which I can translate into living honestly, courageously, and respectfully. Understanding I will always see and like people in a way that most other people probably don’t understand. If that makes me lost then that’s from a perspective. Everything that happens in life is “natural” although frequently not commendable. (see: humanist texts)

            We are our experience. What I’ve determined to be true about me is that I’m not a Buddhist, or a Christian, or religious in any way. I don’t believe in anything supernatural, I have an uncanny ability to identify coincidence that makes me laugh sometimes. When I make a decision, I know and fight my tendency toward human cruelties. Life without drama, a life of respect, a life of love for my children, for the people I care about, recognizing the limitations of human love, what love really is, what friendship really means–that’s what I want and who I am. A life with stillness, but with riot-like joy at moments (when I dance I feel it-maybe what ecstasy is?). We are all human–a bunch of mammals. Carnivores. We are all both good and evil, but those terms don’t really mean anything solid.

            To sum it up (my little self synopsis): There is no hell. We make our lives. This is the only one I have and there is no afterlife. If it is one that is incomplete or unhappy it’s something that’s completely my fault. And not for a lack of compassion, or awareness that my actions and decisions and way of being is affecting the people around me. I know at times I can be bitchy and feel superior (hah). I also can experience a vast amount of sadness–and happiness. But there is a place to exist in the middle of those extremes. Where I want to and like to live most of the time.

            • The Chaplain said

              I’m in love with a psychologist, and I love psychology. 🙂 In fact, I’ve of the opinion that we will soon establish some stronger, much clearer understandings of how the human mind works, instinctively-speaking, and learn a lot about human behavior and emotions as the field of cognitive science (which is largely made up of people trained in psychology) continues its rapid rate of development. There are some real geniuses in the field now (e.g. Pinker and Lakoff).

              But–let me play Devil’s advocate and try on the following line of thought–this statement, “Anger is a societal sickness. It’s a way of being. The vast majority of my clients are either very angry, or express angry emotions regularly in sessions. I’m not saying I’m completely free of it, but generally, yes, me, I really don’t get angry at people, most of the time,” I cannot invest with as much “truth” as you have. I think this line of thought you have expressed conflates anger with “sickness” due to the metaphor inherent in the disease model of psychology. Anger should not been seen as “sickness.” It stems directly from human biology and instinct, and thus exists for a very important reason. In fact, art and beauty stem from anger as much as they do from peace and love. That is a fact that is easy to establish by considering the breadth and diversity of human culture. I can’t justify, to myself, placing a value judgment on a human emotion and characteristic like anger; I can’t defend placing it in its entirety into the category of Other–to be dismissed out of hand, or like a tumor, to be removed.

              I think that what is perhaps a form of sickness is a hatred that desires the oblivion of an Other–because there are no Others; there is only Us. We are a human organism that is individual and simultaneously One in this huge web of the natural world. If part of us desires the oblivion of an Other (like a person desiring the death or execution of another), we are desiring the destruction of a part of ourselves.

              It is healthier, following this train of thought, to view all human urges–anger, love, lust, peace, nostalgia, a warm, humming sense of oneness with world, pain, pleasure, fear, feelings of incompleteness, feelings of a spiritual connection to “God”–all of these are Us. Yes, they are you as well–even if you do not show or feel anger the same way as others, I can assure you: the very fact you are homo sapien means that you, by the very definition of what it means to be a human animal, feel and express anger. No more and no less than the majority of all human animals! To think otherwise is to be placing oneself in a position of higher value than another. None of us are exempt from that side of human instinct. I see only two values: life or death in the physical sense. To not want life is to want death. To reject anger is to reject life. Ergo…

              Some of these human urges and feelings we have promote and maintain the harmony of the web of the natural world, and some others promote and cause the destruction of life (and ultimately damage the Self we are all a part of). But, short of the destruction of life, “all sorrows can be borne if you put them into a story or tell a story about them.” And don’t forget about this.

              Anyway, that’s what I would say, if I were to play Devil’s advocate. 🙂

              • Charity said

                True, anger can be used to change things–using humor comes to mind. But so can empathy. Research (I know, research…) indicates empathy has much more power to produce change, even within whole societies or cultures, than anger. Historically speaking, there are many examples of this occurring. Otherwise we are often talking about war (or violence). Sometimes necessary, but more costly both in lives damaged and lost, and money. And the changes are not always what is intended or positive.

              • Charity said

                P.S. The poem is sweet.

              • Charity said

                Yeah, I guess that’s a judgment I made by saying “sickness.” Anger really is a part of life, I guess it just helps to learn to resolve the kind that eats us up inside and hurts us. But at the same time anger against injustice makes a world of sense. It is what gets the ball rolling for change, even for humanists. But I still think empathy, as the evidence indicates, is more effective long-term in promoting change.

                • The Chaplain said

                  Is it anger that hurts, or is anger an expression of hurt? Something to wonder about — maybe it is a bit of both. I think it depends on the specific scenario being discussed. If someone has just had the crap beat out of him, telling him that anger is an unhealthy emotion seems counterintuitive to me. In fact, it seems the natural and real response to the events that caused it. Of course, I agree that anger can be destructive, but so can love. In fact, one could make the argument that love has caused more death and destruction than anger can ever claim to. Empathy is needed eventually, in the process of creating peace.

                  I think we are talking about different things though. You are talking about a client-therapist relationship, and I am trying to imagine society in general (although with limited success). I am not arguing for the glorification of one over the other. I am arguing that they are all equally human and valid. One is no more healthy or destructive than the other in life in general. In certain environments, one could be a more effective heuristic than another. I don’t equate “effective” with a value claim though. Anger is not “negative” while empathy is “positive”–except in the sense that they both tie into human instinct and biology.

                  For instance, think of something like incest. I think it is a fair statement to say that incest is a destructive heuristic for humanity. The evidence for that is clear, even when all forms of constructed values have been eliminated from the discussion. (Notice I pointed to no evidence to support this assertion–that is important and purposeful.) This indicates to me that there is something inherently destructive about incest for humanity. Then again, is a biological and instinctual root the cause of this destruction, or is there some other reason we have yet to discover? This is such tricky ground to walk on, because we have no evidence to point to; we know practically nothing about the universal human “moral grammar,” assuming it even exists. That means all discussions like this are simply conjectures and educated guesses, at best. At worse, these questions cause people to invest their belief systems with an authority they do not have or deserve. Questions need to give rise to more questions and RESEARCH! But, let me end with an assertion about one heuristic that might “help” (depending on how you define help) or cause harm and destruction (depending on how you define harm and destruction), but that is pointless regardless of the “good” or “harm” it causes: appeals to the supernatural. The Bible might have a good heuristic in it, like love your neighbor, but the success or failure of that heuristic lies in practice and results of the heuristic itself, not in the existence or non-existence of magic and alternate planes of reality.

                  It should be pretty clear what I am doing with this FFFMKS website: I am making the assertion that belief in the supernatural as a heuristic for life is a harmful and destructive one. However, I cannot place this assertion in the same category as the assertion that anger is a destructive emotion. For one thing, anger exists. We can observe its results, and we can see the firing synapses in brain scans when people get angry. Those firing synapses ARE anger. I’ll say it again: those synapses, in the pattern and location in the brain that they are firing, are not signs pointing to the existence of anger; they ARE anger. Anger, like love, is your brain and body collecting chemicals in a certain region of your body, at a specific time, in response to a specific form of stimuli. The heuristic of the supernatural, on the other hand, points to something with the same qualities of something that does NOT exist. There is nothing to point to, other than a book (but I would also assert that the existence of a statement in a book does not automatically equal the truth of the statement in that book, although that is exactly the argument that Christians make: it’s in a book; ergo, it’s true). To summarize: anger and empathy are human emotions that can be “purified” to a certain extent from other emotions (although I doubt the purification is really even possible — maybe it would be better to say that it is possible to draw one’s focal attention to what we interpret to be a purer form of, let’s say for the purposes of example, empathy.) That “purer” emotion can then be used as a heuristic (technique, plan of action) to act in and upon the world. Still, those emotions have no absolute values tied to them. They gain value from the fact that they are within humans and are what we see through when we look at or otherwise interact with the world. Some people think one emotion works better in certain situations than another, and they might claim that research supports this (although I have no idea how you can measure this scientifically, unless everyone has a brain scan machine hooked up to their heads throughout the research process). Still, the evidence would be there, if we had the resources to conduct the research. We have something we can actually measure. Religious belief, on the other hand, is a heuristic that points to a book. It claims that the statements in the book should be believed by virtue of the fact that the book states they must be believed (or you will burn in Hell). There is no evidence to point to (well, you could look at brain scans during religious “experiences,” but this type of evidence does not help us test the God hypothesis).

                  What I am essentially saying, Charity, is that our debate about heuristics in life is a debate based in educated guesses and conjectures based on the little we know about human psychology. You might be right that drawing on the emotion of empathy as a heuristic in a therapy setting, or just in life in general, is heads and heels over the heuristic of anger. I know that I agree with the therapy parts, although I have my questions about the truth of that assertion in life in general. Still, our opinions are on equal footing, since both can point to something to measure (which unfortunately has not yet been measured adequately by science). Still, I assert that your opinion is no more valid than mine, since the research completed so far is not rigorous enough. (i.e. “empathy” and “anger” need to be defined as measurements of firing synapses, not as amorphous subjective “feelings” that get defined in subtly different ways by different individuals.)

                • Charity said

                  It sounds like you’ve confused empathy for an emotion. Empathy is a perspective. Carl Rogers is known for his empirical research on empathy and was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for his work on conflict resolution in South Africa and Ireland. Today his theories on the effectiveness of empathy, self-empowerment, and the self-actualizing tendency of humans have influenced all human service fields, medicine, and even what’s efficacious business practice.

                  I agree with you though, that using empathy has its limitations depending on the person and situation. It’s more of a way of viewing the world than anything. More research would be helpful for our understanding of it, as well as for anger and emotions.

      • Sarge said

        I used to get in trouble for asking: is this Jesus died for one’s “sins” why is that not the end of the story? Job done? Why all this other rigamarole? WHen does all this come into play?

        Was not “The Sacrifice” efficatious enough?

  5. The Chaplain said

    Hmm, I can’t get it to post in reply to your post.

  6. Charity said

    And you are great at playing Devil’s advocate, I admit. You make me think. I like that.

    I agree with you about anger and emotions and human urges, that these are part of being human. I don’t think anger is a sickness literally. I’m familiar with the disease model. Most of substance abuse treatment is still based on it. Anger is healthy (ha!). I get angry. I was refering to harbored anger. I think I understand what you are saying about us and the other, etc. And I think there is a difference between having this knowledge and writing about it, versus experiencing it. These are just a bunch of symbols I’m currently typing. This is a simulated language since it is a reality on-line. The paralanguage is generally missing. Also, on-line I can edit, clearly.

    But when you speak to someone in person, you see and experience each other differently. More presently. It’s real on a different level.

  7. William said

    I suppose I’m in the minority view here, but as a non-fundamentalist Christian who takes philosophy seriously, I believe that atheists can be just as moral as theists, if not more so. The truth is, the Bible is not an ethical guide book. Fundamentalists do not understand that. I make a trip from Dallas to Houston and back at least once a month. There is a billboard that says:

    LOST

    THE MAP IS IN MY BOOK.
    -GOD

    There are a couple things that bother me about this sign. First, there is no question mark after “LOST.” Second, merely telling someone to read the Bible isn’t going to help with ANYTHING. What book do we begin in? Are we to read straight through from Genesis to Revelation? Do we take everything literally as historical and scientific fact? Must we follow all the 600+ laws in the Old Testament? Why am I restricted to one wife when the patriarchs had many? Should I go out and put homosexuals to death? I could go on. Frankly, I get more lost after reading through Scripture than before.

    The Bible at best presents us anecdotal evidence for how we should and should not live our lives. The laws do not count. Most Christians rightly conclude that we are no longer under the rule of law. Christians still have to use the same tools that non-Christians, including atheists, use for determining right from wrong actions: philosophy and logic. Besides, laws are not ethics; they are rules that substitute for genuine wisdom.

    Aristotle, among other “pagan” philosophers, though not necessarily atheists, developed an elaborate system of ethics that is accessible to people of all (or no) faith. Catholics and mainline to liberal Protestants value the works of Aristotle, and his ethics has informed their respective systems more than the Bible has. It’s only the fundamentalists that do not value Aristotle or philosophy in general. (But unfortunately, many arrogant Catholics assert that one must be a theist, Christian, or Catholic to be truly moral. “Thus saith the pope.”) There is a reason why fundamentalist “Bible colleges” have neither a systematic theology department nor a philosophy department, but rather focus on “Biblical studies.” (Contrast this to Catholic and mainline Protestant denominations’ colleges.) The consequence of these Bible colleges is that fundamentalists come away without a solid understanding of either the Bible or of ethics. They base their system of morality on a narrow reading of Scripture which tends to be informed in a great part by their own emotions.

    William

    • Paulo said

      “There are a couple things that bother me about this sign. First, there is no question mark after ‘LOST.'”

      LOL!

      Still, if you consider yourself a Christian, you must certainly not only believe in an afterlife, but that Christ is the only way to “salvation,” right? Where do you base your beliefs in an afterlife? (Emotions?)

      • William said

        I do believe in an afterlife, but I think one can be a good Christian without believing in it. (Jesus’s message was much more focused on how to have a blessed life this world.) Admittedly, this belief is based on faith (which itself is partially based on emotions) rather than on philosophy. There might be a way to prove the immortality of the soul, but proving the existence of heaven or hell is another matter altogether.

        • Paulo said

          This is where we get into the definition of what it means to be a “Christian.” If being a Christian means someone who follows the moral principles supposedly taught by Jesus as found in the Gospels, then that’s not much different than someone who follows the principles taught by Buddha, Confucius, or even the principles of humanism. If being a Christian is someone who believes what the Bible actually claims, however, it’s hard to go against verses like these:

          Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
          John 14:6

          Plato tried like hell to prove the immortality of the soul in his Phaedo, but it’s still unconvincing to someone who doesn’t buy into his theory of Forms. Good luck trying to prove it. But yeah, the existence of heaven or hell, again, is something that has to be taken on faith because the Bible says so.

        • Charity said

          “If being a Christian means someone who follows the moral principles supposedly taught by Jesus as found in the Gospels, then that’s not much different than someone who follows the principles taught by Buddha, Confucius, or even the principles of humanism.”

          What makes the followers of the moral principles of different religions different? When defined this way, these followers are all pretty much Christians.

          Why not create our own values? True, created values may come from the principles taught by Buddha, Confucius, or the principles of humanism. But unless we own our values, they aren’t really ours. For me this means re-evaluating values I was taught as a child. Like altruism (not so transparent once examined). This revaluation is a form of self-overcoming that may last a lifetime.

          Here are some quotes I like by Nietzsche that refer to this process of revaluation (or the destruction of our old values):

          A kind of intellectual integrity [Redlichkeit] has been alien to all founders of religions and their kind: they have never made their experiences a matter of conscience for knowledge. “What did I really experience? What happened then in me and around me? Was my reason bright enough? Was my will turned against all deceptions . . . ?” –none of them has raised such questions; all the dear religious people still do not raise such questions even now: rather they have a thirst for things that are against reason, and they do now want to make it too hard for themselves to satisfy it. . . . We, however, we others who thirst for reason want to look our experiences as straight in the eye as if they represent a scientific experiment . . . ! We ourselves want to be our experiments and guinea pigs [Versuchs-Tiere]!

          Everybody knows that to be able to accept criticism [Widerspruch] is a high sign of culture. Some even know that the higher man invites and provokes criticism of himself to receive a hint about his injustices which are yet unknown to him.

          . . . The conditions under which one understands me, and then necessarily understands me–I know them only too well. One must be honest in intellectual matters to the point of hardness . . . one must never ask whether the truth will be useful or whether it may become one’s fatality.

          Interestingly, the values or “new virtues” Nietzsche himself praises are honesty, courage–especially moral courage–generosity, politeness, and intellectual integrity. He also exhorts us to treat those who are “weaker” than us more gently. But…he insists we each become ourselves.

  8. Fool in this context means mad man, crazy. If you look around you at the trees,the animals, the stars, the planets, at all of the work of God you are left to the conclusion that a personal constient non-material force created them and takes care of them. The true science (observable and provable) have brought many arguments in favor of God. So when you are put in front of so many evidence of the existence of a personal God and you still deny it and rather believe fairy-tales like evolution are you not a fool? Are you not crazy? Are you not mad? Now the question arises why so many are stubborn into denying the existence of God. The answer is simple: they do not want to be held accountable for their sins. Most sins they do not see as sins as immorals as they have become accepted by today’s decadent society. So you can defend your position as much as you want you have no excuse.

    • JN said

      Just because you draw the conclusion that such a force created the earth doesn’t make it so. It is perfectly plausible that you are imposing human characteristics on the narrative of the universe. There isn’t as much evidence for your position as you think there is. Many of the things you would likely reference is likely not really strong evidence.

      The second half of your post is based on a common misconception. Denial of the existence of God does not necessarily stem from not wanting to be held accountable for sins. A person who believes there is a God and chooses to live contrary to that belief is totally different from a person who does not believe God exists. While the first person might be afraid of being held accountable for sins, the second person would not because there is no God to begin with. Make sense?

      You can believe whatever you want, but you need to understand where other people are coming from before coming out swinging. I suspect you don’t have as much “proof” as you claim to have. Maybe try spending some time out in different fossil beds and begin to think about how old this planet really is. This stuff is really fascinating and you might even pick up some souvenirs to take home. Then maybe study the domestication of the dog and eventually move on to natural selection. If you go through this process with an open mind, you might end up drawing some unanticipated conclusions. Evolution might not sound so outlandish after all.

  9. Paulo said

    I don’t know if you’re trolling or if you’re serious. In any case, I won’t waste your time or mine with a serious response because you’ve presented nothing but your opinions here, and your opinions are exactly the kind of thing I’m talking about. But thanks for the comment. This blog doesn’t get them that often anymore.

    Maybe now it will be easier for you to feel good about yourself when you’ll be singing praises in heaven and seeing us fools burn in hell. Then you can say to yourself, “See, I told those fools, but they wouldn’t listen.”

    Best,
    -P

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