Atheists flock to churches of Atheism because atheism is not a religion

Atheism is a belief, and it is a worldview, but I understand that it isn’t a religion even if some Atheists hold to their atheism religiously.  Newly trending is the creation of churches of atheism — pun intended.

(FoxNews) —  It looked like a typical Sunday morning at any mega-church. Hundreds packed in for more than an hour of rousing music, an inspirational sermon, a reading and some quiet reflection. The only thing missing was God.

Dozens of gatherings dubbed “atheist mega-churches” by supporters and detractors are springing up around the U.S. after finding success in Great Britain earlier this year.

[…]

Hundreds of atheists and atheist-curious packed into a Hollywood auditorium for a boisterous service filled with live music, moments of reflection and an “inspirational talk, ” and some stand-up comedy by Jones, the movement’s co-founder.

During the service, attendees stomped their feet, clapped their hands and cheered as Jones and Evans led the group through rousing renditions of “Lean on Me,” “Here Comes the Sun” and other hits that took the place of gospel songs. Congregants dissolved into laughter at a get-to-know-you game that involved clapping and slapping the hands of the person next to them and applauded as members of the audience spoke about community service projects they had started in LA.

At the end, volunteers passed cardboard boxes for donations as attendees mingled over coffee and pastries and children played on the floor.

I find it odd that Atheists would congregate for the purpose of celebrating something that doesn’t exist: atheism.  I am repeatedly told by Atheists that atheism isn’t a belief, it’s nothing.  Of course this isn’t true — they believe God doesn’t exist.  The fact that Atheists discuss, promote, evangelize, congregate over, and erect monuments to atheism leaves little doubt that it is something, and it means very much to them.

atheist church

Comments

  1. Just a couple points:

    1) I wouldn’t trust Fox News to report this story accurately.
    2) Your article is rife with false alternatives; admittedly, some of tehm may come from those you mean to criticize rather than you yourself, but I don’t see you sorting the issues out for clarity. I see you trying very hard to pick one of several bad options for the nature of this issue.
    3) It is entirely possible that the ‘something’ which makes atheism meaningful is not an object or even a lack thereof) in the belief so much as the social significance of the stance taken amidst so many who opt for its opposite.
    4) The notion that atheism is a belief that God does not exist is problematic in that it assumes a burden of proof and in turn an adequate definition of God. One may not accept the notion that atheists have no burden of proof, but there are legitimate concerns about the semantics of accepting that burden, …or adopting that definition of atheism.

  2. John, you are capable of something beyond gross generalizations, that’s why some of us come to your blog.

    No need to ride the coat tails of something as unimpressive and openly biased and therefore irrelevant as fox news…..lower case letters absolutely intended.

  3. I find it odd that Atheists would congregate for the purpose of celebrating something that doesn’t exist: atheism. I am repeatedly told by Atheists that atheism isn’t a belief, it’s nothing.

    I don’t think atheists are going around saying atheism doesn’t exist, are they? Atheism is not “nothing” – it is merely the lack of belief in the existence of God or gods.

    As the article states (but you conveniently left out), “They don’t bash believers but want to find a new way to meet likeminded people, engage in the community and make their presence more visible in a landscape dominated by faith”.

    It sounds to me like a gathering of people who are just making themselves visible to help others who might not believe in your imaginary friend and tell them that they’re not alone.

    Like you, even some non-believers may point fingers and say it’s just like a church – and that’s understandable.

    I think the organizers are illustrating the point that you don’t have to be a faith-based group to do good deeds or inspire others to do good deeds in the community.

  4. Very interesting article. I have several questions, which I hope you will help clarify for me:
    1. Are they actually called churches or are they community groups or public houses perhaps? Because it seems strange to me that atheists would be “congregating” in “churches”. It seems more likely that they would be meeting in community centres, schools or academies, and this vocabulary used above is a vocabulary that Christians use to try and make sense of what it is that atheists do, and lacking the necessary secular jargon – or perhaps simply choosing not to use it – they call the meetings “congregations” and the meeting halls “churches.”

    2. I understand that atheists are still very much a minority in the US (truth be told atheists that actually declare themselves as such are still a minority everywhere in the world). I also understand that being “out” as an atheist usually means being excluded from many community projects, volunteering opportunities and other group activities which in America tend to be organised by church groups. Is it possible that what atheists are attempting to do, is to get together and set up alternatives, where they can still do the things they want to do, without being prevented from contributing to society because they happen to be non-believers. Again, I’m using stories that I have been told by American atheists over the years, many of whom have felt ostracised once “out”.

    3. Atheism is not a belief. It is a position vis-à-vis Theism, and that position is not one of negation, but rather one of excepting oneself from the conversation, since one doesn’t accept the basis for that conversation and therefore – there being no common ground, no common sets of rules and norms – there can be no dialogue on the matter.
    A/Theism
    Where Theism is the belief that at least one deity exists, Atheism is the non-engagement with that belief.
    To an atheist, to posit the question of God equates to posit the question of Harry Potter – please bear with me, no insult intended and I will explain – in so far as both subjects are to an atheist the invention/creation/work of human beings’ imagination. So they do have value, but only as human creations, nothing else.

    I am an atheist. But I could just as well say I am secular. I wish that people took more trouble to define atheism positively rather than always relating it back to the idea of God.
    God does exist: God is an idea invented by human beings to make sense of a world that can be at times difficult to understand, frightening to cope with, and permeated with uncertainty.
    And you are quite right. There is something that means a lot to us atheists: humanity.

    • I don’t know if this one calls itself a church, but there are ones, in England at least, that do.

      But your definition of atheism is not the definition that has been used for centuries. Yours is rather new and seems to be for the purpose of not having to defend your belief that no gods exist.

      • Dear John,
        I beg to differ. I did not say that God does not exist, only that to me God is an idea not an entity, and whilst I understand why others believe, for all intents and purposes I’m not part of that flock. I have my own set of truths, norms and values that I shape my life around.
        My definition is not new. It is simply a crispier repackaging of what Atheism stands for.
        I don’t feel the need to defend myself, because I am not under attack. If someone tried to burn me at the stake for being a witch because I’m an infidel or non-believer as it where – then I’d get worried and build up a defence.
        Do Christians believe in a white dude with a beard that sits up in the skies?
        I hope not. That would be a simplistic definition of Christianity.
        If accepted as valid however, then yes, atheists don’t believe that the white guy in the sky with a big beard exists.
        But for the sake of mutual respect, it would be nice if the equivalent simplistic definition of atheism would also be disposed of, alongside simplistic definitions of Christian beliefs.
        Thank you for the clarification regarding “churches.” I will have to do some research into that. It seems strange, but then many things are these days.
        Best regards,
        -Vic

        • The “white guy with a beard in the sky” isn’t a Christian belief, that is a caricature of Christian belief grounded in religious art.

          However if someone asked you ‘does God exist’ regardless of answering yes or no, it should be followed with ” and here’s why” not, “and I don’t have to tell you” like Z seems to think.

          I can appreciate your position even though I believe you’re mistaken, it’s more honest than some of the others I hear.

          • I actually think that we agree in essentials and it is a matter of ironing out the nuances. Regarding the “white guy with a beard in the sky” – that was my point exactly. It is not a Christian belief, but a caricature of it, and unfortunately that is also the case for atheism: what gets most press coverage are caricatures of their thought-systems.
            It does not help anyone. Personally I trust that human beings are intelligent enough, and given the chance, articulate enough to go beyond simplistic two-a-penny caricatures of their beliefs, thoughts, etc. and actually engage into mutually beneficial discussions about the meaning of life and death – because ultimately, in our own ways, those are the answers we are searching for, whether through God, through philosophy, through science and through the everydayness of our lives.
            :) I think I may have to borrow this discussion for the Let’s Talk Opinion session. I’m certain there are many more points we could get into.

  5. Yours is rather new and seems to be for the purpose of not having to defend your belief that no gods exist.

    Ok, John – here’s an exercise for you.

    Do you believe the Hindu supreme deity Ganesha exists?

    No?

    Then you must be making a claim that Ganesha does not exist.

    Prove that Ganesha does not exist.

    (Hint: making a statement of non-belief is not equal to making a claim of nonexistence.)

    • Z

      If I make the claim that I believe Ganesha does not exist, then I’d have to defend that assertion. I could just put it out there and make someone else “prove me wrong”.

  6. @John

    So you are an atheist with respect to Ganesha. You do not believe Ganesha exists.

    By your own definition of atheist, then you are making the claim that Ganesha does not exist and you would have to defend that.

    That’s exactly what your attitude towards atheists of your Christian God is.

    • Z

      That’s like saying I’m a bachelor in respect to all other women because I’m only married to one. That’s a poorly formed line of reasoning.

    • Z

      Yes, I say Ganesha does not exist, and if I were to put it out there in a post or conversation I’d have to defend that. Just like the Atheist who puts it out there that no gods exist.

      • Richard Nash says:

        John, Why are you so caught up in the idea that we have to disprove a negative? That is illogical, a fallacy. 

        You would use your bible and faith to disprove Ganesh, that would also be illogical. 

        The atheist premise is that your insulated and circular thinking do not qualify as proofs. We cannot buy into your delusion because the evidence is more than lacking, as lacking as Russels teapot.

        Imagine if the world of science, the enlightenment etc. was built on disproving the faithfuls delusions. What a monumental waste of time. Yet the real contradiction is how much hot air the christian faithful expend in attempting to disprove other religions.

        Again this quality of cognitive dissonance and contradiction would tear my psyche apart. But of course faith makes that position so much easier.

  7. False analogy – you are not a bachelor with respect to all other women because you are already married. Try again.

    General question for all theists, regardless of which deity you believe in:
    Why do you dismiss all the other gods that have been believed in throughout human history? Can you actually prove that they don’t exist?

  8. Simple question, John –
    Is a non-believer (not an atheist) the same as someone who makes an assertion of nonexistence?

  9. @Richard

    Yes, John often creates his own arguments and then expects others to defend them instead of simply stating his belief and defending it. Maybe he really understands that his arguments on faith, presupposition and circular reasoning just don’t hold water.

    I find that most theists, especially Christians, get quite testy when you reject their holy texts as evidence for nearly anything. When you boil it all down, you are left with many people worldwide who believe the things they do for no good reason!

  10. @John
    So you believe that an atheist is the position that no gods exist, right?
    Is there a word you use for a non-believer of any specific god?
    Is there a word for a non-believer of all gods?

  11. Ok, I get that.
    Is there a word you use for a non-believer of any specific god?

  12. Then why do you equate that unbelief with the assertion that that god does not exist?

  13. I think you misunderstood. I’m not talking about all gods, just THAT god.

    I’m an “unbeliever” of the Christian God – better?

    Is there a difference to you of being an unbeliever of a specific god as opposed to grouping all gods into one?

    • It only makes a difference if you are a believer in any god. For example, I am a believer in one God but not any other. You are a believer in no gods whatsoever.

      Our both believing in the non – existence of Ganesha doesn’t put us in the same category. You are still an Atheist and I am still a theist. It’s like this: all atheists are nonbelievers but not all nonbelievers are atheists.

  14. Interesting perspective you have there, John – wrong, but interesting.

    So when I say I’m a non-believer of the Christian God, you immediately charge me with making an assertion about no gods existing.

    If I were to say I’m a non-believer of the Christian God, but a believer in Zeus, then it’s different?

    I’ve told you time and time and time again that I’m a non-believer of the Christian God, the one you believe in, and yet you continue to try to assign an assertion to me.

    Just own your belief, John – own it and defend it when someone questions it. Please stop trying to make someone else disprove a negative.

    • So which God do you believe exists? My guess is you don’t answer. It’s really disingenuous to pretend it’s a presumption of mine that you believe no gods exist especially since you’ve admitted it in the past.

  15. Here’s the thing, John – I believe things based on evidence.

    Do I believe there’s evidence to support the claim that the (fill in the blank) god exists? No

    Does this require me to assert and prove that the (fill in the blank) god does not exist? No, it does not.

    Just own your belief, John – own it and defend it when someone questions it.

    So to answer your question, I do not see any evidence to support the belief in a god, whether it’s the one you believe in or someone else believes in. This in no way is making an assertion.

    • If you don’t see any evidence then the proper response is “I don’t know”. But you go a step further to say “no gods exist”. If you hold that belief based on evidence, what is it? Or do you hold that belief based on no evidence?

  16. You really do enjoy getting lost in language, don’t you?

    I did not say “no gods exist”.
    I said there is no evidence to support the claim that the (fill in the blank) god exists.

    It really is disingenuous for you to keep putting words in other people’s mouths, but that does seem to be your M.O.

    • But I’m not putting words in your mouth. You’ve said in the past that you believe no gods exist. But again, if you think there’s no evidence (or not enough) the rational response is agnosticism.

  17. Call it what you like, John
    Trying to define what position the other person holds is irrelevant to your belief.

    Your constant deflection of defending your beliefs gets tiresome…

  18. Z,

    I don’t believe in the Hindu god, that’s true. I don’t think John does either. But guess what? We don’t spend our time arguing with those who do believe. We don’t join organizations out of our disbelief or gather at places to talk about our disbelief. And our disbelief in the Hindu god does not define our lives.

    And if Christianity is as puritanical and potentially violent as atheists say, then I don’t see how any true atheist can claim that his disbelief in God does not define his life in the same way Christianity defines the life of an Evangelical Christian.

  19. Maybe the two of you missed this part:

    As the article states (but you conveniently left out), “They don’t bash believers but want to find a new way to meet like-minded people, engage in the community and make their presence more visible in a landscape dominated by faith”.

    I think the organizers are illustrating the point that you don’t have to be a faith-based group to do good deeds or inspire others to do good deeds in the community.

    This would ring true regardless of the flavor of the religion.

    • No one said the group bashes believers. What WE are saying is that your atheism defines at least a part of your identity. It’s not an inert tangential belief that manifests no influence in your life. Atheism is a defining belief and as such seek other atheists. The point is that it’s not nothing.

  20. Z,

    You didn’t answer my question. Regardless, I never once stated – nor would I – that only faith-based groups do good deeds. Many atheists live more in accordance with Christ’s words than believers. Look at those assholes in Kansas, for example. Phelps & Co. A bunch of hateful hypocrites.

  21. No one said the group bashes believers.

    Well, believers sure love to bash nonbelievers.

    Atheism is a defining belief and as such seek other atheists.

    It seems rather obvious that people seek like-minded people, even if they have the common ground of not subscribing to the religion of the masses that surround them. I think many atheists gather to help defend the first amendment principle of state-church separation and to oppose discrimination against atheists. Life can often be difficult for those who find themselves conflicted against friends, family and even employers because of their lack of belief.

    @Terrance
    I’m sorry – I didn’t really see a question there.

    As far as defining my life goes, my non-belief in your deity doesn’t really make any sense. You’ve been able to live your life with your disbelief in (fill in the blank) god. Not believing in that god doesn’t really define you to anyone except those who happen to believe in that particular god.

  22. Z,

    Well, it wasn’t exactly a question. I made a statement I thought would elicit a response. You have now responded.

    As far as defining my life goes, my non-belief in your deity doesn’t really make any sense. You’ve been able to live your life with your disbelief in (fill in the blank) god. Not believing in that god doesn’t really define you to anyone except those who happen to believe in that particular god.

    It seems to me that most atheists on this blog, including you, actually BELIEVE GOD DOES NOT EXIST, as opposed to disbelieving due to lack of evidence. And I base that distinction on your rather prolific rejection of religion in general.

  23. “I think many atheists gather to help defend the first amendment principle of state-church separation”

    Why would anybody gather to defend a principle not present in the first amendment?

    BTW, who discriminates against atheists? I am close friends with several. Two of my oldest friends are atheists. And guess what? I’m not aware of any church that would turn away an atheist.

    • Is it possibl T, that we don’t believe in your God, due to a lack of evidence? I mean I think I get your distinction, but this seems like semantics. The atheist position is that there is no evidence, yet, to warrant belief, hence no belief.

      And Marshall, atheists were just turned away in Kansas from volunteering at an event to feed the hungry last month, I was turned away from a church in Utah, and here in Texas. If you care to open your eyes you will see that there is ample opportunity to discriminate against non believers.

      Who discriminates, most state constitutions. To be state legislators or governor, one must be a believer, in 46 states.

  24. Nash,

    If it was simple disbelief then why spend so much time arguing with religious people and denigrating their beliefs as mere fairy tales? Insufficient evidence may warrant disbelief, but it does not warrant the outright rejection of a creator that we see from atheists on this blog, including yourself.

    • Terrance,
      Firstly ideas do not have rights or feelings, and they have been introduced to the public square, either on this blog or at the town hall meeting up the street from me.

      A person can feel denigrated or disrespected. I make a serious attempt at just attacking the foolishness of the ideas themselves, not those who hold them…….why?

      Because many of these ideas are being used to form policies, both foreign and domestic.

  25. Everyone is in search of community. Whether it by Atheist, Christian, or otherwise. We are all people. So the fact that Atheist have a “church” is no surprise to me.

    • Atticus, I know people need community. But if an atheists atheism is as inert in their lives as many of them claim, why would that aspect of their lives be the center of the community?

  26. “Because many of these ideas are being used to form policies, both foreign and domestic.”

    Really? Like what?

  27. Nash,

    You made my point without even realizing it.

    You said,

    A person can feel denigrated or disrespected. I make a serious attempt at just attacking the foolishness of the ideas themselves, not those who hold them…….why?

    It seems like you’re saying the idea of a Creator, or Christianity specifically, is “foolish.” Does that sound like simple unbelief due to insufficient evidence? It sounds much more than that to me. It sounds like hatred for the idea itself, whether it lacks evidence or not.

    • Terrance,

      To me, after a lengthy and considerate review of Christianity, it’s tenets, beliefs and texts, the evidence does not hold up. So yes foolish to believe in such a thing. That makes your faith no more or less ridiculous than the aborigines of eastern Australia. Your idea/faith is not special. It is lofted into public debate, therefore it is fair game.

      That does not sound like “simple” unbelief.

      How is it that you then catapult my equating of your christianity to foolishness to “hatred”? This seems like an excessive leap in the quality of the rhetoric.

      I value and have assessed your belief system the same way that I have evaluated all others. Oddly, I never hear any of you standing up for muslims/Islam when it comes to the gross inaccuracies of their faith. There are mechanisms like fox news that treat Islam in a generalized and inaccurate way. Now that the tables are turned will you be defending that religion because you think I hate it without evidence? Or is religious bigotry just reserved for christians?

  28. It doesn’t surprise me that some atheists might want to congregate and reflect together. Most people feel the need for community, and society has not found a good replacement for weekly religious mass meetings that works for everyone.
    Weekly meetings help create a sense of community and serve as a platform to organize other events and charitable works. It’s possible that some who don’t attend churches find it difficult to obtain a similar community experience elsewhere.
    Religious services are often full of morality lessons (e.g. from scriptural readings or sermons). Religion does not have a monopoly on morality, but I think it’s great for people to be reminded to be nice to one another every week. We all need that reminder sometimes. I’d argue that, for those who don’t attend places of worship, society has struggled to find a replacement morality messaging service.
    Perhaps surprisingly, as an atheist, I still like to attend church occasionally. I love the peace of a church; I love the pomp and ceremony that comes with many church services; I enjoy a good story, especially with a great moral lesson; I love to hear choirs, especially in great cathedrals; And, particularly during the Christmas season, I love a really good sing-song. It’s exhilarating to lift one’s voice in song along with others.
    So if people who do not believe in a god want to congregate together, and sing, and remind each other to be good, and arrange charitable events, why criticize them? If they want to replicate the aspects of organized religion they like, but without the worship of a deity, I don’t see a lot of harm in it. And if it gets them into a routine of community and organized good works that seems like a good thing to me.
    And I don’t really mind what names they attach to their community or their gathering place.

    • Simon

      I don’t know anyone who argues that only the religious have a monopoly on morality and I’m certainly not saying that here.

      What I am saying is many atheists claim that their atheism isn’t a controlling facet of their life. The fact that they seek to congregate around that non-thing which shows it isn’t as inert as they claim. A belief that no gods exist is a belief and it does affect how the world is filtered through ones experience.

  29. Thanks John.
    On the moral monopoly thing… by contrast, I know people of faith who claim that human morals come from god. I would say morals come from societies making sensible decisions about what’s acceptable and what’s not.
    On your second point, I’m not sure all atheists should be lumped together in the way you seem to be doing. They don’t necessarily all think the same way.
    The majority of atheists simply get on with life, and only ever consider atheism occasionally, such as when somebody challenges them on it. In that respect, their atheism probably doesn’t control them at all.
    There are others (it sounds like Fox News found some) who want a sense of community and a regular meeting with folks of like mind, perhaps for the reasons I mention above. I can understand that. The fact that some make their meetings quasi-religious (for want of a better phrase) is intriguing, and perhaps speaks to a sense of loss having removed themselves from religious communities(?)… I don’t know, but it doesn’t seem harmful so I really don’t mind. Does it “control” them? Depends on your definition I guess. Either way, atheists who choose to act in this way appear to be in the minority, and I don’t think their actions should be used to prejudge the majority.
    I don’t agree that a lack of belief is a belief in itself. I do agree that we are all a product of our own thoughts and experiences.

    • Morals coming from societies sensibilities isn’t morality, it’s preference. By that standard American slavery was good and so was racism because the society of the time thought it was right and moral to enslave blacks. That also means any one person bucking that idea is by definition immoral.

      If morals come from the individuals then they aren’t under obligation if they just change their mind.

      I haven’t lumped everyone together, as you can see I use words like ‘many’ and ‘some’. You’re right though, I’d say the majority of atheists just go about their day not thinking too much about it. However, those vocal atheists like the ones online who debate with theists, and those heading organizations and events in the name of atheism is quite a different story. More over, atheism and by extension, naturalism, does inform one’s moral compass and how they interpret the world around them.

  30. R. Nash,

    To me, after a lengthy and considerate review of Christianity, it’s tenets, beliefs and texts, the evidence does not hold up. So yes foolish to believe in such a thing. That makes your faith no more or less ridiculous than the aborigines of eastern Australia. Your idea/faith is not special. It is lofted into public debate, therefore it is fair game.

    Are you suggesting some sort of contradiction within the Christian faith? Specifically, what doesn’t “hold up,” if you don’t mind my asking.

    How is it that you then catapult my equating of your christianity to foolishness to “hatred”? This seems like an excessive leap in the quality of the rhetoric.

    You have a history of denigrating the Christian faith. It is all over this blog, R. Nash, so rest assured that my inculpation is not without merit. Indeed, your rejection appears grounded in hate rather than reason.

    I value and have assessed your belief system the same way that I have evaluated all others. Oddly, I never hear any of you standing up for muslims/Islam when it comes to the gross inaccuracies of their faith. There are mechanisms like fox news that treat Islam in a generalized and inaccurate way. Now that the tables are turned will you be defending that religion because you think I hate it without evidence? Or is religious bigotry just reserved for christians?

    The particulars of the Islamic faith are lacking, in my judgement. But I will absolutely defend their belief in a Creator. You, however, seem to reject the idea of a Creator, any Creator, as pure nonsense – and that, I’m sorry to say, is not simply “unbelief.” It is an active rejection of God in general. The distinction is very important. Atheists attempt to hold some sort of intellectual high-ground by immunizing their minds against certainty, but it seems apparent that your rejection of a higher-power is absolute. Atheists, it seems, are certain no Creator exists.

    • Terrance,

      There you go with the indictment of hate again. Why?

      Your belief in a higher power is just an idea. I am fully allowed and have the right to dissect such a belief. You only consider it denigrating because you are a christian. If I spoke the same way about any other faith, you would simply agree, so back to the group think bias, it’s hypocritical. Your feelings are hurt, you take my dismissing of your faith personally. The idea is afforded no rights, no respect. If christians are going to continue to make their positions ever more public and not expect it to be scrutinized, then you made a gross miscalculation.

      To my knowledge I have never attacked anyone personally or their character, reputation et. al. only the belief that is held. That belief is not given any respect. In the business of ideas, they should not be afforded certain designations or be considered off limits because it’s taboo to cast a possibly negative light on one particular idea because it is simply a religion.

      Where have you found it to be founded in hate?

      How can my position be absolute, when I have said previously that I am open to unbiased, objective evidence that my contradict my findings?

      You want specifics? Today I was musing over the rubrics in Matt. about how some of the disciples were thousands of years old and would continue to live for thousands of years beyond the life of Jesus. Or why that Jesus only walked the Earth being awesome for 1 year+/-. The grand creator of the universe used himself in human form for 1 year, in one place, before the printing press, when stories and news were only passed on verbally, and wants all of his creation to accept without question someone’s story from 2k years ago? And now that I have been told by a few on here that all of those people before the time of Christ and after who never had the chance to make the “right” decision, are burning in hell…..What doesn’t hold up? Or why the Council of Niceae was removing so much from the scriptures, on two occasions.

      Well, none of it holds up. This is more than a huge leap of faith, it’s non-sensical. This “evidence” that is often bandied about would not hold up in any court of law with a first year grad student on cross examination. Therefore it falls into the same categories that I have previously mentioned.

  31. There you go with the indictment of hate again. Why?

    Do I have to provide a list of all the crude statements you’ve made in reference to religion? Be it hate, resentment, indignation, or whatever, it’s more than unbelief.

    Your belief in a higher power is just an idea. I am fully allowed and have the right to dissect such a belief. You only consider it denigrating because you are a christian. If I spoke the same way about any other faith, you would simply agree, so back to the group think bias, it’s hypocritical. Your feelings are hurt, you take my dismissing of your faith personally. The idea is afforded no rights, no respect. If christians are going to continue to make their positions ever more public and not expect it to be scrutinized, then you made a gross miscalculation.

    R. Nash, you are mistaken. I am not bothered by your atheism, agnosticism, or whatever you want to call it. I don’t care if you believe in Jesus, Krishna, Allah, or no Creator at all. What I can’t understand is why your comments in reference to religion, all religion, are malicious, especially if your atheism is grounded in nothing more than lack of evidence. You firmly believe, it seems, that no Creator exists.

    You say it’s semantics, but there is a distinction to be made between that and simple unbelief.

    How can my position be absolute, when I have said previously that I am open to unbiased, objective evidence that my contradict my findings?

    I don’t know if it’s absolute – but that’s the way it reads.

    You want specifics? Today I was musing over the rubrics in Matt. about how some of the disciples were thousands of years old and would continue to live for thousands of years beyond the life of Jesus.

    Honestly, I have no idea what you’re talking about. I even ran this by a friend of mine who is well-versed in Christian theology and he doesn’t know either. Could you explain?

    My friend’s best guess is Jesus’ words that “this generation will not pass away until my return.” Is that what you mean? If so, His meaning is unclear and debate is open.

    Or why that Jesus only walked the Earth being awesome for 1 year+/-. The grand creator of the universe used himself in human form for 1 year, in one place, before the printing press, when stories and news were only passed on verbally, and wants all of his creation to accept without question someone’s story from 2k years ago?

    Scholars generally accept the idea that Jesus came at precisely the right time. And I think the worldwide popularity of Christianity proves this (a third of the world’s population).

    But let’s look at more closely.

    Jesus was born during the time of Augustus, who decreed that all the world be taxed. The Jews were forced to submit to a foreign power, being ruled by non-Jews. Their own government was nothing more than a puppet regime for the Romans. The whole world came under the dominion of one master (Daniel 2:40) and that, according to prophecy, is when the Messiah would come.

    And now that I have been told by a few on here that all of those people before the time of Christ and after who never had the chance to make the “right” decision, are burning in hell…..

    I don’t care who told you that but it’s unbiblical. We had a huge discussion about this in our Church’s Bible class. It is absolutely not true.

    What doesn’t hold up? Or why the Council of Niceae was removing so much from the scriptures, on two occasions.

    Are you talking about the Gnostic Gospels? Not only are they dated much later than other Gospels, but they read entirely different. They’re nothing more than fabrications and tribal myths.

    Well, none of it holds up. This is more than a huge leap of faith, it’s non-sensical. This “evidence” that is often bandied about would not hold up in any court of law with a first year grad student on cross examination. Therefore it falls into the same categories that I have previously mentioned.

    Do you believe the individual Jesus of Nazareth existed? Never mind His divinity or any of that. Do you believe such a person lived?

    • Terrance,

      Crude statements to you, but only crude because I am not cheering for your team. Crude because you have a bias. I do not hold christianity to a different standard than any other belief system. If it seems crude it’s because you are associating my condemnation/dismissal etc of an idea as a dismissal of you, or seeking to personally attack you or your character. Christianity is an idea, therefore it is open to criticism/ridicule the same as any other idea. The days when christians were let off the hook because proper politically correct etiquette disallowed anyone from being critical of it are gone. It seems malicious because you take it personally. I have never once denigrated a person, just their idea’s. If you take this to be malicious then that’s on you. I am not sure I can make the distinction any clearer.

      Do you treat your friends and acquaintances the same when they dismiss or are denigrating/critical of Islam?

      Please show me where my criticism can be quantified as hate. I am just as honest with muslims or hindu’s.

      It seems absolute, because as of right now there is zero qualified evidence for your creator. None of it passes muster. Should that change, I am more than willing to alter my first position. I make a promise that I will announce it right here for all to see.

      You say that scholars think that Jesus came at exactly the right time? Please explain so that I don’t respond that out of context. And if he came at exactly the right time…..wouldn’t more than just a third of the world be christian?

      And yes Matt: 24 seems more than interesting for such an omnipotent being to convey to this seemingly important message to just a handful of other people. I guess where for you, this might seem like just no big deal. For me this seems to simply be another nail in the coffin of chaos and contradiction when it comes to christian biblical texts. Or when the command comes to make disciples of all nations……..how exactly could they have done that?

      And your claim that all of those people who passed and went somewhere other than hell before the time of Jesus, would be in direct conflict with, at a minimum John and Glenn. So if it’s “unbiblical maybe they should know. So here we have another relevant quandary and fairly important theme that your institution can’t agree on. The Catholic church has attempted to move the goal posts on this subject for about 800 years.

      As for the Council of Niceae, I will simply ask you to look into the first “large” body of men who grossly altered your Bible. They would represent about 40% of the total editing of the Bible. They were not the first, and they were not the last. Not to mention the Talmud books of Moses were also heavily edited/redacted.

      I could hang my hat on the differences between the use and references of Yahweh over Elohim. How can this be the same being? Or when Josiah commanded that all other religions and their icons, temples etc be destroyed and that God could and should only be worshipped in Jerusalem. To what end. How can you make all other nations disciples and then only worship in Jerusalem? What about free will? Why destroy other religious iconography if your allowed the free will to decide for yourself? There is absolutely nothing logical or omnipotent, or omniscient about this plan.

      And I beg do differ on the gnostic texts. The Nag Hamadi and specifically the Gospel of Thomas are not so easily dismissed. And who gave these men the right to remove any of it and edit your bible? The average tally is at least a minimum of 1k times the Bible has been edited and redacted……….all by men. Not special men. Not angels or disciples. Just average Joe’s who put their pants on one leg at a time.

      And yes I believe the historical Jesus existed. The conspiracy theories don’t hold up that he was just a fabrication. At least so far.

      • Nash

        Nicea didnt alter the bible, they merely agreed upon what should be included and this was because the gnostic Gospels were being passed around. Nothing was removed or altered. The Gospel of Thomas isnt easily dismissed? sure it is, its written too late to have been written by the Apostle Thomas and contains many questionable passages. This is Dan Brown DaVinci Code history, not actual history. The bible has not been edited or redacted as evidenced by the thousands of manuscripts that still exist showing continuous content, the claim that it has is a myth, literally. It’s something passed around skeptical blogs and websites but isnt actually true.

        People before Christ were saved at their trust in the coming Messiah. So yes, they were saved by Jesus in their belief in his coming. After Jesus’ death and resurrection, people are saved by their trust/belief that he was the Messiah. That’s simple theology and spelled out pretty clearly in Hebrews.

        Jesus did come at just the right time in history too. First, it was at the right time to fulfill the prophesy in Daniel: the 70 weeks prophesy. But secondly, he came at a time when the world population was at its least. What I mean is the number of people who had inhabited the earth up to that point is but a fraction of what it has been since. Moreover, he came to a place within the Roman Empire, not some obscure African or Austrailian outback. Jerusalem was a large enough hub, so to speak, as to gain the attention of a large number of people during his ministry. Which brings me to his time of preaching. Jesus didnt start his ministry until he reached the age of 30 or thereabouts — which is a requirement of the OT law. The priesthood requires the age of 30 and Jesus is the eternal priest who made the final sacrifice (theologically speaking). His ministry lasted for a year-year and a half before his crucifixion. But in that time he gained the attention of some of the highest rulers of the area and not to mention thousands of citizens.

        For someone who didnt travel more than 30-50 miles from home, was a peasant handyman, and only made noise for a year or so in a small corner of the world, he changed the world in a way no one else has. For all the different religious options that pop up in and out of sight, fleeting as they are, why did this one make the wave it did if it’s all just a fairy tale?

        • John,

          I will say absolutely that you are terribly mistaken about what was done by the two Council meetings. I mean they defined Christology John. They defined your Trinity. And whether you consider that it was editing or simply not adding several texts that had been used previously, I guess you can believe that. They invented the earliest extra powers for the Pope. The Council of Constantinople continued to solidify the power structure that you see today. Not to mention the 100 or so separate councils and synods that modified your belief system between 50AD to about 264 for the Synods of Antioch.

          I mean the Gospel of Thomas was compiled around 140 AD, that’s too late? It pre dates some of the NT. Enoch even a little bit before. So in Judaism it’s good to go, but 1700 years ago, they decided against it. Well most christian sects did.

          Do you dismiss the whole Nag Hahmadi library? All of the Gnostic texts? Would you dismiss them if they had just happened to not be purposefully left out? Have you read them all for yourself?

          You don’t really think that the bible you use now is the bible they used 1800 years ago do you? These guys are responsible for many of the schisms you guys are still dealing with today. Have you read the Septuagint?

          And thanks for clarifying that all of the people who couldn’t have ever even possibly known of your god are in hell. I will let you and Terrance hammer out the unbiblicallness of that.

          And I was always curious as to why God/Jesus would have to wait until he was 30. OT law? Seems like maybe he could have gotten started earlier being so awesome and all.

          • They didnt define anything. They officialized what was already consensused doctrines. The councils did this because heretical doctrines were beginning to be circulated.

            140 AD doesnt predate any of the NT.

            You dont sound like youre really familiar with church history, just repeating wrong info mostly found on skeptic’s blogs and not history books. I dont mean that pejoratively either. Your facts are just wrong about the Gnostics and why they werent included in the canon.

            the septuagint is the greek OT and a couple other texts. the other texts were not considered canon scripture by the Jews and were included because they do bear some spiritual benefit, this is not really a secret.

            its not unbiblical at all to say those who dont know of the Messiah in order to trust in his sacrifice is condemned by their own sins. Where does the bible state otherwise?

            Jesus, as a man had to obey the Law, hence following the law and not sinning by waiting.

            • Well, then you contradict every single source at Boston College, and too many scholars to list. Are you saying that the very tenets of Christology were not hammered out by this council? And what about the countless councils before Niceae?

              BTW I have never informed myself about the weakness’s of christianity via skeptics blogs.

              You still haven’t answered anything specific about any of the Gnostic texts except that you question the date and validity of the Gospel of Thomas. Many christians do not.

              You seem to not want to discuss the specifics of how your bible came to be. It was just men John. Men working to consolidate their power. Not special men. God never spoke of all of these men who would be collating, writing and rewriting and editing the various canon’s. There are a lot of middlemen between you and the original messages. To suggest otherwise is just wishful thinking.

              And no the Septuagint is not just the Greek OT and some other texts.

              140 is when this particular book was collated, not written.

              As for the millions burning in hell because they lived a thousand or ten thousand years before your messiah, not only is it a moral abomination, it shows the utter and absolute ineptitude of your position. What grand creator condemns his creation to hell before his messenger is even born to tell them about how he is the only one?

              I would need a really sloppy lobotomy to hold such a position.

  32. BTW have you read the Septuagint? It’s quite different from the bible on your shelf.

  33. Crude statements to you…

    They are crude statements by any standard.

    Christianity is an idea, therefore it is open to criticism/ridicule the same as any other idea. The days when christians were let off the hook because proper politically correct etiquette disallowed anyone from being critical of it are gone. It seems malicious because you take it personally. I have never once denigrated a person, just their idea’s. If you take this to be malicious then that’s on you. I am not sure I can make the distinction any clearer.

    If your so-called “unbelief” is based on insufficient evidence, then why criticize the faith itself? Why criticize the idea? It could be true, couldn’t it? Many things are true but lack evidence. It is certainly true, for example, that I’m drinking a cup of black coffee right now. You wouldn’t call this a fantasy or ridiculous notion due to lack of evidence, would you?

    However, if your “unbelief” is based on perceived contradictions – which appears to be the case – then you have gone from unbelief to a belief that Christianity is untrue, thus proving my point. Atheism, at least in your case, is not a simple rejection of religion, but a belief that it is untrue.

    I cannot make the distinction any clearer.

    Do you treat your friends and acquaintances the same when they dismiss or are denigrating/critical of Islam?

    It depends on the specifics of their argument. If they say Islam is “fantasy” because the Prophet Muhammad didn’t exist, then yes, I treat them the same way.

    It seems absolute, because as of right now there is zero qualified evidence for your creator. None of it passes muster. Should that change, I am more than willing to alter my first position. I make a promise that I will announce it right here for all to see.

    So you absolutely believe Christianity is false?

    You say that scholars think that Jesus came at exactly the right time? Please explain so that I don’t respond that out of context. And if he came at exactly the right time…..wouldn’t more than just a third of the world be christian?

    I explained already. Everything fell perfectly into place. And I don’t think 2 billion Christians, with more added each day, is something to squawk at. Keep in mind, as well, that the world’s power structure is mostly Christian. Additionally, you have nothing to measure it against. What time would have been better, would have produced greater numbers?

    And yes Matt: 24 seems more than interesting for such an omnipotent being to convey to this seemingly important message to just a handful of other people. I guess where for you, this might seem like just no big deal. For me this seems to simply be another nail in the coffin of chaos and contradiction when it comes to christian biblical texts. Or when the command comes to make disciples of all nations……..how exactly could they have done that?

    Like I said, the exact meaning is in question. And Christian missionaries are currently working on “making disciples of all nations.” Nothing is supposed to happen overnight.

    And your claim that all of those people who passed and went somewhere other than hell before the time of Jesus, would be in direct conflict with, at a minimum John and Glenn.

    Then John and Glenn are wrong – if indeed that is what they believe.

    So here we have another relevant quandary and fairly important theme that your institution can’t agree on. The Catholic church has attempted to move the goal posts on this subject for about 800 years.

    This doesn’t speak to the truth of the Bible, but human desire to have things exactly the way we want it and no other. Some Christians believe the Bible sanctions same-sex marriage. Some believe it permits abortion. Some believe Genesis is merely a story while others believe it’s literal. People will always disagree on the meaning of any given passage if disputing the accepted meaning gives any credence to their particular brand of Christianity. This is human nature.

    As for the Council of Niceae, I will simply ask you to look into the first “large” body of men who grossly altered your Bible. They would represent about 40% of the total editing of the Bible. They were not the first, and they were not the last. Not to mention the Talmud books of Moses were also heavily edited/redacted.

    John knows more about this than me so I’ll merely direct you to his response for the remainder of your concerns.

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