Talk Me Out Of It

April 14, 2012

mark says:

I’ve been a christian all my life. I now want to be reasoned out of it. Please help


Do You Believe in Faith Healers?

July 15, 2011

I’ve always been fascinated by faith healers, and even more fascinated by the people who believe in them.  This video is long – really long – just over an hour.  And it’s often a bit slow and boring, but it’s also astounding.  Don’t miss any of it!

If you are a believer in God and in faith healers, consider what you have just watched here.  Then ask yourself: “in what material ways are the faith healers I believe in different from Pastor James Collins?”

If you are a believer in God but not a believer in faith healers, you might join me in recognizing how believers in faith healing don’t simply believe – they need to believe.  Any attempt to dissuade them from their belief is not met with good reasons for their belief, but instead it is met by emotional responses that are disguised as reasons.  Because in the end, the “reasons” they give are not rational, and there is no real reasoning with them.  You might ask yourself: “is this like my belief in God?  Do I believe for good reasons, or do I simply need to believe?  Are my “reasons” rational?  Or are my reasons specifically designed to justify what I already believe?”

Extra credit:

Atheists should also contemplate the nature of their belief that God does not exist: “do I start with a belief that God does not exist and then seek reasons to justify this belief, or is my belief that God does not exist a result of reason?”

Since by definition, agnostics don’t find that the evidence they have is sufficient to form a belief regarding the existence of God, can “needing to believe” influence their belief about the existence of God?


Why Pray Before a Meal?

April 7, 2011

I’m often tempted to ask Christians who I see praying in public before a meal why they pray. Of course I would never be so disrespectful as to actually walk over and ask. I’m not offended by it, Christians have every right to do it and I support their right. But I do wonder why. So I’ll ask my questions here, where I can safely assume that someone reading a blog about atheism would be amenable to a conversation about faith and belief.

Social Aspects of Praying:

Do Christians feel that God prefers that prayers are said while in a certain posture, with head bowed, eyes closed, and hands clasped? Or is the prayer posture meant more as a performance for the benefit of those around them, rather than for God’s benefit? It seems a lot like the ichthus (fish) bumper stickers – it’s used as a public statement, a testimony. Is the prayer before the meal a polite way of witnessing, a way to show those around them that “I’m a Christian” without actually engaging anyone in conversation? On the one hand, I appreciate that most Christians would be respectful enough not to overtly proselytize those around them. On the other hand, statements to the effect of “I’m a Christian” is not much of a witness. For example, it says nothing about the reality of Jesus which is what a Christian witness or testimony really is. Or possibly, prayer before the meal is a display for other Christians, a way to tell other Christians that you’re one of them – sort of like the Shriner’s “secret” handshake.  Maybe it’s both.

Theological Aspects of Praying:

Thank you for this food we are about to receive…

Why do Christians pretend that God gives them their meals? It seems obvious enough where food comes from. The Earth produces food for humans and other terrestrial life. Life on planet Earth has evolved such that there is a food chain.  If I may oversimplify a bit just for illustration: plants consume non-living materials like minerals, water, CO2 and sunlight.  Animals consume plants, and animals higher on the food chain consume other animals.  Humans are near the top of the food chain (yes, we do have natural predators!).  Each of our meals has this natural origin.  If there is a God, then He doesn’t give us each meal, He gives us the entire Earth from which we get our food.  Why not thank God at every meal for the Earth rather than for the meal?  The meal seems insignificant relative to the gift of the whole Earth!

Other Quirks Regarding Prayer:

Why pray only for food?  Why not pray for water?  Water is even more essential to our sustenance than food.  We can survive without food for weeks but we can only survive without water for a few days.

Bless this food to our bodies…

“Bless this food to our bodies” isn’t even grammatically correct – the verb “bless” can take the indirect object, “body”.  You can bless the food, or you can bless our bodies, but you can’t bless food to our bodies.  Nevertheless, this phrase is very wide spread among Christians – try this search on Google (http://www.google.com/search?q=”bless+this+food+to+our+bodies”) and you’ll see what I mean.

My point is not that Christians are guilty of incorrect grammar – we all are.  My point is that Christians make this particular grammatical error only in prayers for the meal and not anywhere else.  So how does a grammatically incorrect phrase become so popular in prayer and only in prayer?  Does it sound more spiritual?

What do you think?

Whether you are Christian or not, what to you think about the Christian prayer for the meal?


If God is Real…

August 18, 2010

William says:

If God is real,and He created you,and you believe this without a shadow of a doubt, then you would be like “us”. Tell me, how would you feel if were constantly told that you’re beliefs are but mere petty childish dreams. Would you appreciate it? I understand you lack of evidence to persuade you, but are you that alone that you can’t believe in this “God” I so aware serve? Is it that you have no evidence that you can’t believe or were you taught not to believe, or maybe even are you just not believe because you can? Evidence is but a small reaction to atheist. If you are an atheist then you made that choice not to believe,so stick to your disbelief…But if your ready to believe (I doubt you will be) then come to Him yourself. But, until then, it be wise of you to continue your disbelief. You say what you have to say, and we have to say what you do as well. This battle of He is/He isn’t will go on forever…So express yourself.
Thank You… WDC


Is Christianity Unintelligible?

August 27, 2008

Thread started by James – he writes:

In it, I would like to discuss an article I found in Christian Reformed Theology and Apologetic found at http://www.reformed.org/webfiles/antithesis/index.html?mainframe=/webfiles/antithesis/v1n3/ant_v1n3_unintel.html.

This form of apologetics is part of the religious tradition from which I have emerged. And I find that this apologetic is, of all apologetics, the most persuasive. Specifically, I would like to discuss the following claim:

“For the Christian, the Absolute standard is the personal triune God revealed in Scripture. There is no higher court of appeal by which the Christian evaluates what is rational, ethical, or real. A Biblical outlook simply does not countenance any human standard of rationality to which God must answer. If God is truly Absolute, as he is presented in Scripture, then He stands as the ultimate judge over all issues in logic, ethics, reality, and knowledge. The Christian God is not in the dock being forced to answer to our finite standards. ”
Atheists must howl at this sort of stance, since it appears to beg-the-question against any atheistic claim. Yet the atheist’s howling is naive. If there were some higher standard of “reason” or “conceivability” by which both the atheist and Christian could adjudicate their dispute, then the Christian God would not be Absolute; He would be limited by something outside and above His nature. Yet the Christian does not worship some being subordinate to Platonic Forms or some alleged higher standard of reason or goodness. The Christian God is truly the final court of appeal.

“The atheist also has a final court of appeal. The atheist also bows before an Absolute standard. And just like the Christian, the atheist does not permit anything to correct or evaluate this ultimate standard, for if he did then the standard would obviously not be the final court of appeal.

“The ultimate standard for the non-Christian, in general, and Smith, in particular, is finite human rationality — or the autonomous human mind. Though this Absolute standard is often portrayed as “Reason,” it is, from a Christian standpoint, a distortion of reason. Nevertheless, this non-Christian Absolute functions in much the same manner as the Christian Absolute. Non-Christians even use religious terminology when they refer to this Absolute — ‘bowing before the bar of reason’ or ‘reason is the only guide’ or ‘we cannot dispute reason’ or ‘an offense against reason.’”


Breaking News: Atheist with Spiritual Gifts

June 28, 2008

According to SpiritualGiftsTest.com,

A spiritual gift is a supernatural ability given by the Holy Spirit to a person at the moment of his or her salvation.

The webmasters at SpiritualGiftsTest.com attend The Vine Church who are affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC). Their site seems to reflect mainstream SBC theology. They provide the following list of gifts, as well as the biblical verses to support their list:

Administration/Ruling Giving Miracles
Apostleship Healing Pastor/Teacher
Discernment of Spirits Helps/Serving/Ministering Prophecy
Evangelism Interpretation of Tongues Teaching
Exhortation Knowledge Tongues
Faith Mercy Wisdom

I took the test myself (you can take it too, the test is here) and guess what! I’ve got spiritual gifts! I answered all of the questions as honestly as I could. I didn’t do it as a joke, I did it because I was genuinely curious about the test. I became curious about it because I’d seen Christians on other blogs claiming to have spiritual gifts and they cited various spiritual-gift test sites as evidence for their gifts; evidence that was accepted by other Christians on the blogs. Since the test results seemed to be an excepted way to know what spiritual gifts you had, I decided to see what the tests were like. I searched on Google.com using the search string “spiritual gifts test” and SpiritualGiftsTest.com was near the top of the list. I took the test.

It turns out that I have every one of the gifts that they test for. My top 4 (20 or more points) are the gifts of Teaching, Wisdom, Knowledge, and Administration/Ruling. SpiritualGiftTest.com says they don’t test for the gift of Tongues among a few others because those gifts are self-evidence – evidently, I have that gift too.

How can this be? According to the site, these gifts are spiritual and they are obtained at the moment of salvation. Possibly I’m actually saved even though I don’t believe that I am. Possibly the claim that spiritual gifts are only for the saved is false. Possibly the test isn’t reliable, and Christians that believe that they have spiritual gifts based on tests like these are being duped by their fellow Christians who run the spiritual-gift test sites. Of course it is also possible, as far as you the Reader knows, that I lied on the test or that I’m lying about my test results. But you can easily verity the plausibility of my claim by taking the test yourself (if you believe you are not saved) or asking an unsaved friend to take the test.

How do you explain my spiritual gifts?  What spiritual gifts do you have?


How the Animals Got Their Names

June 9, 2008

Gen 2:19-20 explains how animals got their names:

Now the LORD God had formed out of the ground all the beasts of the field and all the birds of the air. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds of the air and all the beasts of the field.

Let’s assume for the moment that the above passage was written by mere mortals (the Elohist source to be exact) who lived around 850 bce in the Land of Israel. The statement that Adam named all of the birds and land animals sounds reasonable enough – there simply weren’t that many different animals in that area which the writer would have been familiar with. Now let’s assume that the above passage was written under divine inspiration (the verbal, plenary inspiration theory) where God guided the author to transmit his divine message exactly as he intended it. Suddenly, the statement seems ludicrous because we would expect God to know how many animals he created. For example, God would surely be aware of the Giant Pandas he created that are native only to China, or the Capivara found only in Brazil, or Beluga Whales and Polar Bares found only in the Arctic Ocean, or the Platypus found only in Australia. Adam would have his work cut out for him naming the myriad of animals found world wide – and the Beluga Whales would have died of dehydration and heat exhaustion in the process! But it gets worse. What about trilobites that died in the mass extinction at the end of the Permian about 250 million years ago (there are more than 10,000 fossil species of just trilobites alone!)? Did Adam name them? What is the ancient Hebrew word for it (or a word for it in any ancient language)? What about all of the other millions of extinct species of animal? What about the microbes (e. coli, amoebae, extremaphiles, etc., etc.)?

Walk me through it one more time: why should I believe that the first chapter in Genesis (for starters) is the divine Word of God?


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