Archive for category Atheism
David P. Gushee wrote an USA Today column titled in big bold letters “Christian politics create unholy alliances”:
“They are at it again. Republican presidential candidates are trolling for conservative Christian votes. Christian political organizers are trolling for Republican candidates’ attention. (The next occasion will be the Republican candidate debate sponsored by The Family Leader in two weeks at a church in Des Moines.) The Democrats, too, will make some effort to join this game, as they did in the 2008 cycle.”
This is what he had to say about politicians “abuse of Christian symbols”:
“Politicians continue to use and abuse the language and symbols of Christian faith in order to win political support. They speak of God, Jesus, Christian faith and Christian values. They bow their heads in prayer at a million chicken dinners. Then Christian voters — perhaps flattered, perhaps reassured — think that these evocations of holy Christian symbols and terms actually mean something.”
Mr. David Gushee submits that the “trolling” conservatives are using “Christian values” (gasp!) as a means of winning “political support” (double-gasp!) from Christian America (blasphemy!). For Mr. Gushee’s sake (and I expect about 40% of the rest of America) we ought to have a set of earplugs and blinders at the ready when watching the presidential debates. It’s for our own good; us “rank-in-file Christians”. We just don’t what’s good for us. Wait? When was politics decreed sterile of worldviews? Christianity tugs a worldview behind it; when a candidate associates himself with this worldview, we acquire some deep insight into the mind of that candidate. So, I guess my main question is this: how is it wrong for a politician to articulate his worldview truthfully? This question seems to be inaccurate, actually. Gushee isn’t angry at politicians expressing any old worldview; it’s the Christian one that irks him. Why ought politicians hide their religious beliefs? Is politics some sort of sacred ground in which the candidate is purged of all his Christian worldviews and then – enlightened in the ways of the secular humanist – is prepared to run the presidential race? It seems quite contrary to our intuition. A candidate’s religion usually dictates the ethics that he conforms to. Therefore, when a candidate submits that the Bible is the source of his moral standard, that’s a good thing to know ; understanding the worldview of the person you’re voting for is appropriate and ought to be encouraged.
“Why should we consider the stories of Osiris, Dionysus, Adonis, Attis, Mithras, and the other pagan mystery saviors as fables, and yet come across essentially the same story told in a Jewish context believe it to be the biography of a carpenter from Bethlehem?”
— Timothy Freke / Peter Gandy, The Jesus Mysteries
This idea has been popularized by authors like Dan Brown and an internet movie called Zeitgeist; all of which claim essentially the same thing: the Christian concept of Christ was a mere copy of other pagan gods. In light of this, let’s examine some of their so-called “facts”.
Horus According to Zeitgeist:
– born on December 25th
– born of a virgin called Mary
– star in the east rose when born
– three kings adorned him
– teacher at twelve
– ministry at thirty
– had twelve disciples
– referred to as the “lamb of God” and “the light”
– dead for three days
– was then resurrected
The Actual Facts of Horus:
1a. Horus was born to Isis; there’s no mention of Isis ever being called “Mary”.
1b. Mary is an anglicized version of ‘Miryam’; so it wouldn’t make sense for an ancient Egyptian goddess to be called an anglicized name.
2. There is no reason to think that Isis was a virgin. There is no textual indication that while she was married to Osiris she remained abstinent. Therefore, the burden of proof is on the person making the claim that she was a virgin; not the other way around.
3. Of the three different birth dates Horus was arbitrarily assigned one does land on December 25th, but who cares? The tradition that December 25th is the date of Christ’s birth did not occur until the 4th century A.D. and was linked to the celebration of the Winter Solstice. The Bible never even assigns a date of birth for Christ!
4a. There are no texts that talk about three kings visiting Horus at his birth.
4b. There is no mention of the number of magi visiting Jesus in the New Testament.
4c. They weren’t called kings; they were actually magi (lit. “king-makers”) in the New Testament.
4d. The magi didn’t even visit at Jesus’ birth. Jesus was most likely around one or two at the time of magi’s visit.
5. There is no document that states that a star rose in the east that lead the undocumented three “kings” to Horus’ non-virgin birth.
6. No account of Horus being a teacher at the age of twelve.
7a. Horus was definitely not “baptized”.
7b. First of all, the term is misused; baptism refers to the ritual washing that the Jewish people started performing during the second Temple period; long after the legends of Horus.
7c. The only Horus and water incident was when Horus was torn to pieces and Isis asked for the crocodile god to retrieve his remains.
8. Horus certainly did not have a ministry of teaching on earth. Even if he did, he certainly would not have preached the same thing as Jesus did. The Egyptians didn’t have any doctrines of salvation, nor did they have a comprehensive understanding of the nature of their own gods.
9. He did not have twelve disciples, but instead had four minor gods that were followers. There is also some textual indication that he had sixteen human followers and a group of blacksmith’s that followed him into battle.
10a. Horus could not have been crucified because crucifixion originated in around 600 B.C; long after the Horus legends were written.
10b. Horus’ death is described as him being dismembered and his body parts were scattered throughout the earth. Another story states that Horus’ torn pieces of flesh were put into a river.
11. Horus obviously did not die a death for spiritual atonement of the sins of the world.
12. Horus was not buried for three days. Instead, he was dismembered and did not rise for a long period of time.
13. There are no accounts of a bodily resurrection. There are texts that state that he was miraculously healed from a poisonous scorpion sting, but nothing that comes even remotely close to what Christ went through.
14. “Great God”, “Chief of the Powers”, “Master of Heaven”, and “Avenger of His Father” are the only titles ever given to Horus. Titles like “Lamb of God” and “the light” are completely unique to Jesus.
Horus is obviously a legend from a different culture and a different time. There is absolutely no relation to the historical figure of Christ at all. There’s simply no comparison; they contradict on every main characteristic.
Want to learn more about Horus and the other Egyptian gods and goddesses? Here’s the Egyptian Book of the Dead from which much of my data stems from.
The Dawkins Delusion:
It’s an age-old question of origins. Who created the creator? Does God have parents? It’s merely a brain-teaser of sorts, but for some naive authors, *cough* like Richard Dawkins *cough*, it’s their central argument. An excerpt from this not-to-be-named author’s book, The God Delusion:
“1. One of the greatest challenges to the human intellect has
been to explain how the complex, improbable appearance of design in the universe
2. The natural temptation is to attribute the appearance of
design to actual design itself.
3. The temptation is a false one because
the designer hypothesis immediately raises the larger problem of who designed
4. The most ingenious and powerful explanation is Darwinian
evolution by natural selection.
5. We don’t have an equivalent
explanation for physics.
6. We should not give up the hope of a better
explanation arising in physics, something as powerful as Darwinism is for
Therefore, God almost certainly does not exist.”
Now, you don’t need to be a Oxford philosopher to understand that his premises for the argument do not lead to the odd conclusion that “God almost certainly does not exist”. Why? Because he’s saying that we can’t infer a designer to things that appear to be designed. To Dawkins’ dismay, however, there are plenty of arguments for God that have nothing to do with the appearance of design in the universe. His reasoning is thus logically invalid because the argument is just another non sequitur. But, for the sake of the discussion, we’ll let it slide. Mr. Dawkins’ main point is that we have no right to infer an intelligent designer for the universe because a new problem arises: who designed the designer?
1. As many philosophers have already pointed out, you don’t need an explanation of an explanation to conclude if it’s valid or not. It’s really that simple. As an analogy, pretend I head off to England. Assume I find Stonehenge. I examine it and determine that it was developed by an intelligence. Now, is my inferring intelligence less correct because (1) I don’t have any clue who made it and (2) I don’t know who the ancestors of the people that made Stonehenge? Obviously not. If I was wrong in doing this, it would put us in a vacuum of knowledge in which we would always have to explain the explanation ad infinitum to decide whether to believe something or not (i.e. an infinite regress).
Who made Stonehenge?
Who made them?
Well, you forgot to explain them too!
And so on….
2. Asking the very question “who created God” is nonsensical. God being the very first cause, this would be like asking “who created the uncreatable?”. It’s just a bunch of pseudoquestions because it forces us to conceive created gods, instead of who we’re really talking about – God.
You’re not required to explain God in order to recognize that He is the best explanation. It’s quite odd that Dawkins uses this argument as his “central” one. It was his knockout argument — or so he thought.
A Reason To Believe Christianity Is False?
I was browsing the internet when I found a post on an atheist website that said the following:
“What is it that makes people believe in God at all? It seems to me that gods were invented by men to explain things they didn’t understand. But we understand a lot more today (though of course the frontiers of science are always speculative). Given that it’s impossible to have an explanation for everything (because then that explanation would demand another explanation — “But Mommy, why is it that way?”), why not just take the universe as we find it, rather than positing some incredibly complex cause for which we have no evidence?”
He is using the above argument as one of the many “reasons [he] think[s] Christianity is false”. In the first part of the paragraph, he says that people who consider themselves “religious” are, in fact, weak-minded individuals that are psychologically handicapped. These intellectually restricted people use religion as a tool to explain things “they don’t understand”. Therefore, Christianity is false.
Even if religious people were really weak-minded, how is this a reason to think Christianity false? To determine the truth value of someone’s beliefs you don’t explain his or her psychology — you address his or her beliefs directly. If I prove that scientific methodologies were developed by intellectually crippled people, how does it follow that science is false? In logic this type of argument is dubbed a non sequitur fallacy. The conclusion of the argument (Therefore, Christianity is false) does not follow from the premises (Religious people are weak-minded).
“Why Not Just Take The Universe As We Find It”?
In the second part of the paragraph, the atheist is claiming that Christianity’s view on origins is complex in nature and is thus breaking Occam’s razor. However, Occam’s razor is merely a rule of thumb in science — not a law. It’s just another guideline that is commonly broken in the scientific method. On top of this, it seems the designated level of “unwarranted complexity” is completely arbitrary. When is something too complex? When does it cross the line? It seems “complexity” is purely relative to the person asking the question. If I was an amoeba, I might think the idea of humans existing an exceedingly complex solution to why things like computers and the like exist (I’m pretty sure amoebas aren’t that smart, but you get the point).
The atheist’s argument seems very weak. However, in spite of this many an atheist affirm and hold to the same logic and arguments he is making. When faced with a person like this, all you have to do is show that to prove a belief wrong, you must do more than describe the psychological condition of the individual. Address the person’s belief first, then you can start having discussions about the actual person.
Excerpt from The New York Times:
“In the days after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, some workers and mourners at the World Trade Center site seized upon a cross-shaped steel beam found amid the rubble as a symbol of faith and hope.
But the move quickly provoked a lawsuit from American Atheists, a nonprofit group based in New Jersey. They argued that because the cross is a religious symbol of Christianity and the museum is partly government financed and is on government property, the cross’s inclusion in the museum violates the United States Constitution and state civil rights law. The lawsuit, in turn, provoked the ire of the American Center for Law and Justice, a conservative public interest law firm, as well as others.”
The American Atheists claim:
“The installation of the cross at the September 11 Memorial and Museum is facially violative of the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America, which mandates: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”
We Passed A Law?
Their claim would only make sense if (1) Congress is actually making a “law respecting an establishment of religion” or (2) Congress is actually making a law “prohibiting” free exercise of religion. Which, of course, they’re not. It’s bizarre that they seem to completely ignore this obvious fact. Yes, there is a beam that resembles a Christian cross. Yes, the beam that resembles a cross is in a government-funded building. Your point? What if I make up a new religion that has a religious symbol resembling the White House? Does it follow that Congress is “facially violative of the First Amendment” for funding it? Why not? It’s the same logic the American Atheists are using.
The Beam-Cross Hurts Their Feelings?
“The challenged cross constitutes an unlawful attempt to promote a specific religion on governmental land, diminishing the civil rights, privileges or capacities of Atheist Americans, Agnostic Americans, Jewish Americans, Muslims…” etc.
How is a beam that resembles a cross “diminishing the civil rights” of anybody? I’m pretty sure your freedoms will be intact when you leave the museum. I’m just guessing though. The cross may be programmed to burn non-Christians eyes out. Or (and probably more reasonably) it could just represent the hope it gave Christians and others of the faith in one of the darkest times in America, but that’s beside the point. Right?
To understand the historical context of both the Old and New Testaments is extremely important when making connections between our society and their society. When we fail to do this, we usually come to the wrong conclusions about scripture. An example of this is that many non-believers claim that there is an obvious conflict between the moralities in the Bible — Old Testament morality being more “cruel”, while New Testament is more “acceptable”. They also go on to say that if the morality in the Bible reflects God’s morality, then God’s morality is “changing”. This, they conclude, is a contradiction in God’s nature.
Contradiction In God’s Nature?
In the Bible, God’s commandments seem contingent on the moral and historical status of the people He’s dealing with. Jesus plainly affirms this in Matthew 19:8, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses permitted you to divorce your wives; but from the beginning it has not been that way.” Even though God didn’t intend marriage to be that way, He permitted divorce for the Israelites because of their moral depravity. Thus we can conclude that God’s commands are dependant on the historical context of the people. Different people at different times are to follow different commands.
Contradiction In The Bible’s Morality?
A contradiction is something that is logically incompatible between two statements. Given the fact that the Bible says that God’s commandments are historically conditioned and that the the New Testament was written in a totally different historical frame than that of the Old Testament’s, there isn’t any contradiction happening. Most of the laws given in the OT were never intended to be timeless ethical principles (like “unclean food”). As proof of this, ancient Israel was a theocratic society with God at the head. That’s a huge contrast between our society and ancient Israel’s. Many acts, like adultery, were deeply immoral and deserved capital punishment. In our sexually promiscuous society such a view of adultery seems inconceivable, but I take that as a clear sign on how far we’ve fallen away from God. Think about it. Look at how much society’s view of marriage and purity has changed in the last hundred years. Now think about the last thousand years. It’s a huge transformation and isn’t necessarily in the right direction.
After Anders Breivik went on one of the most deadly killing sprees in history with 76 confirmed murders, many started pointing fingers – especially at “christian fundamentalists“. Although Breivik was obviously not a “fundamentalist” in the theological sense, this doesn’t negate the claim that he considered himself Christian. Many Christians spoke out at this and said that Anders wasn’t a “true Christian”. However, many an atheist replied and claimed that Anders ought to be called a “true christian” and anyone that says he isn’t is committing the fallacy of No true Scotsman.
A simple version of the fallacy goes like this:
Joey: “All Americans like pizza.”
Timmy: “I don’t like pizza.”
Joey: ” Yes, but all true Americans like pizza.”
We can easily see the fallacy here. Joey starts out by saying that all Americans (somebody who comes from the United States) like pizza. Timmy is an American, but doesn’t like pizza. So what does Joey do? He refines the definition of Americans (somebody that hails from the United States) to “Americans” (somebody that hails from the United States and likes pizza) and then implies that Timmy isn’t an American based on the failure to meet up to his new definition. It’s a form of ad hoc reasoning and is highly unreasonable, even though all true Americans do like pizza.
The Atheist’s Argument:
Now, let’s look at the argument atheists and the like are making:
Smith: “All Christians follow the example of Christ.”
Johnson: “Anders Behring Breivik is a Christian.”
Smith: “Yes, but all true Christians follow the teachings of Jesus.”
Johnson: “Hey! You’re being illogical there!”
Debunking The Alleged Fallacy:
Where’s the fallacy? How is Smith being illogical? Let’s look: Smith said Christians (a person that follows Jesus’ teachings) follow the example of Christ. Johnson claims that Anders is a Christian. Smith replies by implying that Anders Breivik wasn’t a Christian and then gives the same definition that he gave earlier (Christians are people that follow Jesus’ teachings). Where’s the ad hoc reasoning? There isn’t any! Smith never refines his definition of Christian and is therefore not committing any fallacy.
A Different Fallacy Is Found:
When atheists (like Johnson in the example) say that Anders is a Christian, they’re completely assuming that he met up to the standards of being a Christian ( or a “fundamentalist Christian” for that matter). They’re just begging the question.
Johnson: “How do you know Anders Behring Breivik is a Christian?”
Smith: “Because he said he was.”
But you see, being a Christian isn’t the same as saying you’re a Christian. Christianity isn’t a spectator’s sport – it’s full contact. This is what separates Christianity from most philosophies and religions: it’s faith coupled with works. Without faith, you’re spiritually dead. Without works, you’re spiritually dead. They go hand in hand together.
As we saw above, nobody is committing a fallacy in saying that Anders wasn’t a true Christian. The fallacy just isn’t there. However, a fallacy is found in saying that Anders was a Christian just because he said he was. Christianity is more than just saying